Friday, October 29, 2021

Updated, for fun this time.

Reed wrote songs about junkies on the corner.
"You know. I'm glad that we met man
It was really nice talking

And I really wish there was a little more time to speak"
Every time I hear that voice I think of a man I knew 35 years ago. I hear Jimmy Santulli, alias James Jubert. I'm pretty sure he's been dead for a long time. 
"Weird Alex" Pareene is weird in his own little world.

About the time Reed did the ad campaign for Honda, in 86 or so, he was asked to do something for a public service campaign for HIV prevention. He refused, saying he'd never been safe, and he was still alive.

I had dinner with Legs McNeil and a few others at some point in the mid 90s. It may have been after the premier of the film mentioned below. Or it could have been for Billy Name. Billy was there. McNeil went off on political punk. He hated it. He's a moralist.  Moralists are conservative by definition. Genet opposed prison reform because it made him who he was. I've said it before, in the same general context.  John Waters and Mike Kelley agreed, they both still loved the Catholic Church. John's a conservative. I've said that before too. And then there are the Quines 

It's still hard writing for an American audience.

The discussion of Dune and Star Wars among pseudo-leftist pundits is a corollary to Trumpist rage: varieties of childishness. And these overlap with the fanboys and fangirls of the cinematic fanboy Todd Haynes. The film critic on a website for "democratic socialists", named for anti-democratic moralists, violent political puritans, celebrates self-identified heirs of de Sade and Huysmans.

Haynes now has a tag. Haynes, Mad Men, and the nostalgia of Americans for their own childhood, or fantasies of others' youth. "They are not intellectuals, but occasionally dream that they will be. That is their secret ambition." 

Liberals and liberalism, and the whig history of the demimonde.

The Velvet Underground, like most of the self-identified avant-garde were pretentious. Pretension is defensive posturing, signaling insecurity. Lou Reed always got high on his own supply, and he was an asshole. But sometimes fuckups get something something right, describing complexity honestly, That's the basis of a large percentage of what's called "modern art". 

Picasso in 1906 is flying blind. In 1916 he's full of shit, a poseur, but still struggling. The need for easy answers, the indulgence in and struggle against kitsch, lying —to yourself and others—vs honesty,  becomes the conflict between art and pose, rebellion and its marketing.
All the albums I put out after this are going to be things I want to put out. No more bullshit, no more dyed hair, faggot junkie trip. I mimic me better than anyone else so if everybody else is making money ripping me off, I figure maybe I better get in on it. Why not? I created Lou Reed. I have nothing even faintly in common with that guy, but I can play him well, really well. 
All of this is in the context of conservatism, and an honesty that undermines intention. People who say "conservatism is the new punk rock" are right. Punk rock was always self-destructive.

I've repeated this quote from Candy Darling enough. “I’ve been up all night alone, wondering about my identity. Trying to look for an explanation for living this strange, stylized sexuality."

I'll add another, about the lover Reed dumped, from Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk.

p. 155

Eileen Polk: Everybody hung out at Max's, and then the New York Dolls played their famous show in drag at the 82 Club. I started hanging out there. The 82 Club was a famous drag-queen bar on Fourth Street, around the corner from CBGB's, which wasn't happening yet. I started going to the 82 Club real early on and made friends with all the drag queens. That's where I met Rachel, Lou Reed's girlfriend. Rachel was a drag queen who was very feminine and really nice. The drag queens liked me, but Rachel was especially nice. One night when she was really drunk she told me that she could never be a guy because she had such a small dick. Then she showed it to me, and it was really small. I said, "That's okay, Rachel. That's okay." And she said, "Well, it better be, because I make a better woman than I do a man."

Then she met Lou Reed, and he was the man of her dreams. Apparently it was love at first sight. Rachel told me, "I've met Lou Reed! I've made it! This is it! I knew this was gonna happen! Something good was gonna happen to me, and this is it and I'm in love!" She was just ecstatic.

Lou would just sit in the corner and Rachel would keep everyone away from him. She announced to everyone, "I don't want anyone near him. I don't want anyone to talk to him. He's mine." And everyone respected that at the 82 Club. All the other drag queens stayed away from him, and all the women did too. Rachel said, "He's mine," but she didn't threaten anybody. I felt like everybody wanted something good to happen for her. And when it did, everyone was happy.

p. 206 

Mary Harron: We all went off to the Locale and none of us had any money and we couldn't order food. I remember Lou Reed ordered a cheeseburger because I was so hungry. Lou was with Rachel, who was the first transvestite I'd ever met. Very beautiful, but frightening. But I mean definitely a guy: Rachel had stubble.

Legs and John were chatting with Lou so I sat next to Rachel, and I asked her what her name was—him, what his name was—and he said, "Rachel."

I thought, Right. That kind of shut me up for a bit. I think I actually sort of tried to make conversation with him, but Rachel wasn't talkative. I think that was the sum total of our conversation.

A review of Halston, on Netflix 

This is not a new lane for Murphy, and once again it seems revolutionary — how rare to make an entire five-episode series dedicated to amplifying such a sour, cynical note — until one realizes there is nowhere for this story to go. Certainly the notion that the modern history of gay life is one as colored by repression and self-loathing as much as by the power of expression is a rich vein throughout Murphy’s work. Just last year, he produced a feature film remake of “The Boys in the Band,” the 1968 play that is the ultimate theatrical howl of isolation and pain. Previously, Ben Platt in “The Politician” and Darren Criss in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” played queer men driven by ambition that looks a lot like misdirected rage.

I went to school with the director. He was a screenwriter for I shot Andy Warhol, directed by Mary Harron, quoted above. And both films have the same producer, Christine Vachon, who went to school with Haynes, and has worked him from the beginning of his career. One of my closest friends at the time was a consultant on the Warhol film; we went to the premiere. At some point after that I remember Callie saying, dryly, that it was still safe to assume every homosexual was self-hating until proven otherwise—for Boys in the Band see The Queer Art of Failure and How to be Gayboth from the second decade of this century. Vachon also worked with Cindy Sherman on her only, failed, film; Sherman's work documenting not homosexual but female self-hatred. The absurdity is the lie they tell themselves—if indeed they do—that they're liberal. Maybe it's more that earnest liberals claim them as their own. Liberalism has turned self-hatred, for some, into self-affirmation.

And this brings us back to science fiction,  the geek art of failure unacknowledged, building worlds rather than observing this one. 

Krugman in 2021

The blogger John Rogers once noted that there are two novels that can shape the lives of bookish 14-year-olds: “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Lord of the Rings.” One of these novels, he asserted, is a childish fantasy that can leave you emotionally stunted; the other involves orcs.

Well, I was a bookish 14-year-old, but my touchstones were two different novels: Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” and Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”

Many social scientists, it turns out, are science fiction readers. For example, quite a few experts on international relations who I know are fanatics about the TV version of “The Expanse.” I think it’s because good science fiction involves building imaginary worlds that are different from the world we know, but in interesting ways that relate to the attempt to understand why society is the way it is.

 Angus Deaton, Dani Rodrik and John Quiggin, and Krugman in 1996

At the deepest level, opposition to comparative advantage -- like opposition to the theory of evolution -- reflects the aversion of many intellectuals to an essentially mathematical way of understanding the world. Both comparative advantage and natural selection are ideas grounded, at base, in mathematical models -- simple models that can be stated without actually writing down any equations, but mathematical models all the same. The hostility that both evolutionary theorists and economists encounter from humanists arises from the fact that both fields lie on the front line of the war between C.P. Snow's two cultures: territory that humanists feel is rightfully theirs, but which has been invaded by aliens armed with equations and computers.

Any systems engineer knows that efficiency in a system is in inverse proportion to stability.

Krugman indulged a fantasy; his preferences were founded in aesthetics before they were founded in ethics: he rationalized a desire, wanted to believe an absurdity, defended it as science and mocked anyone who opposed him as irrational. 

The only thing interesting is that he didn't learn from his mistakes.

How is the philosophy behind Asimov's Foundation less authoritarian than The Fountainhead? Krugman conflates art and illustration, and art and science, "truth and lies".  His link on The Expanse is to Drezner, indulging the horse-race model of political science and IR, the academic origin of the model of journalistic "objectivity" and passivity. Both Krugman and Drezner imagine statements without subtext, themselves without subtext. Their intellects are brittle, though Krugman is "intelligent". The only thing interesting about Dune is how it describes the desires and fantasies of its makers and its audience, and civilization on earth in 2021.

Tagged The Pictures Generation, the aestheticized politics of 80s art, made in the shadow of something worshipped and feared—hated—indulging reaction as radical. That's the mix that turns conservatism into fascism.  Needless to say I have more sympathy for Candy Darling and Rachel Humphreys, who's buried in Potter's Field, than Lou Reed. I have sympathy for them as people.

I want the illusion.
Do you want the illusion or do you want the illusion to be real? 
What’s the difference?
One means that you have an appreciation of the arts. The other means that you’re a fascist.
Art makes the world more interesting than it is. "We tell ourselves stories in order to live."
Living your life as art, and imposing your art on others is more than authoritarianism. Authoritarianism only demands that you behave a certain way. It doesn't demand that you believe. Coerced belief is the definition of fascism. I think Foucault was trying to construct a new conservatism. Neoliberalism ain't it.
[I've used this one before.]

I've made so many riffs on monarchists and monarchism, on liberalism, on the left, and right.
Jean-Marie Straub's film, below, was on Jonathan Rosenbaum's top 10 for 2020. In the link above [reaction as radical] he refers to Sirk and Fassbinder as "more defeatist than progressive". The man in Straub's film is reciting Georges Bernanos. It's hard to get more defeatist than Bernanos. The film is dedicated to Godard.

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