Thursday, March 13, 2014

A more vivid proof, not mentioned by Butler, may be found in Ginsberg’s recent echoes of the totalitarian apologetics offered by some of the Modernists of the 1920s and 1930s. Ginsberg has placed his spiritual life in the care of a Tibetan guru (one consciously avoided by the Dalai Lama), the autocrat of a spiritual retreat and poetry workshop near Boulder, Colorado. Among the guru’s activities are punching recalcitrant visiting faculty in the face and having them stripped naked by his goon squad. Ginsberg defends the guru’s methods as an ‘experiment in monarchy’, and insists that he must not be judged by the standards of lesser mortals.
and continuing

“It is Christmas Eve, and she is about to receive the gift that has been her dream
since childhood: death by a sexual maniac"
The quote is Louise Brooks' description of Lulu's end. Brooks was honest.

Joan Didion Sentimental Journeys
We know her story, and some of us, although not all of us, which was to become one of the story’s several equivocal aspects, know her name. She was a twenty-nine-year-old unmarried white woman who worked as an investment banker in the corporate finance department at Salomon Brothers in downtown Manhattan, the energy and natural resources group. She was said by one of the principals in a Texas oil stock offering on which she had collaborated as a member of the Salomon team to have done “top-notch” work. She lived alone in an apartment on East 83rd Street, between York and East End, a sublet cooperative she was thinking about buying. She often worked late and when she got home she would change into jogging clothes and at eight-thirty or nine-thirty in the evening would go running, six or seven miles through Central Park, north on the East Drive, west on the less traveled road connecting the East and West Drives at approximately 102nd Street, and south on the West Drive. The wisdom of this was later questioned by some, by those who were accustomed to thinking of the Park as a place to avoid after dark, and defended by others, the more adroit of whom spoke of the citizen’s absolute right to public access (“That park belongs to us and this time nobody is going to take it from us,” Ronnie Eldridge, at the time a Democratic candidate for the City Council of New York, declared on the op-ed page of The New York Times), others of whom spoke of “running” as a preemptive right. “Runners have Type A controlled personalities and they don’t like their schedules interrupted,” one runner, a securities trader, told the Times to this point. “When people run is a function of their life style,” another runner said. “I am personally very angry,” a third said, “Because women should have the right to run any time.”
The demimonde by definition is anti-humanist and anti-democratic. Modern libertines are libertarians, though some grow out of it. Most rebels as they grow older, if they make it, retire as liberals. Others stuck to their guns after a fashion and return to the Church they never really left.
In all this hurly-burly, a single writer alone saw clear, Barbey d'Aurévilly, who, be it said, had no personal acquaintance with me. In an article in the Constitutionnel, bearing date July 28th, 1884, and which has been reprinted in his Le Roman Contemporain published in 1902, he wrote:--
"After such a book, it only remains for the author to choose between the muzzle of a pistol or the foot of the cross."
The choice has been made.
J.K. Huysmans
I told John Waters somewhat apologetically that I'd never seen any his films; I was more of a Kuchar fan. He laughed. "Catholic shame and Jewish guilt." What I didn't say was that Waters' inversions of high and low always ended up as a celebration of the dichotomy itself. Waters, like Warhol, like Gilbert and George, is an arch conservative. Another time I saw him leaving his own opening party and asked him why he was leaving so early; the place was filled everything you'd expect in NY for a party for John Waters. "I don't come to New York for low. If I want low I'll stay in Baltimore!" The wonder and glory of Kuchar was that for him there was no dichotomy, because there was no high. In the end, it's all low.

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency began as a slide show to music, at the Pyramid Club. Then it became mid-sized photographs, 16 x 20 inches with simple frames, and later at the request of her dealer reprinted at 30 x 40 or bigger, with thick frames in bright red.  What was ephemeral as light and time became solid, and then grand. What began as a loving record of the melancholy self-dramatizing behavior of minor narcissists, deserving of love no more or less than the rest of us, ended as the celebration of demigods, ubermenschen, dying for our sins. Even earlier the moralizing superiority of Against our Vanishing made me cringe.

The woman in the first photo, with the sign, has chosen the role of victim for herself. Her anger is the anger of Holly Golightly, and I don't know what to say to the anger of servants who want respect, as servants. To respect the role of servants is to respect the role of masters. I've said the same thing about killers.
War only can be used as entertainment in two ways by two groups of people: those who treat it as a game played by choice -a deadly game but one that can be left and rejoined- and those who know only war. The most important difference is that the former have never been the victims of a war, only the warriors. They didn't learn to kill by feeling pain.
Violence and passivity as ideologies, flown like flags, go hand in hand. If I can't respect one, I can't respect the other.

Brassai, Lesbian couple at Le Monocle, Paris (1932)
The woman on the right is Violette Morris, later a collaborator with the Gestapo, and a torturer, assassinated by the Resistance.
Extending the same logic: the self-made self.

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