Fucking Punks

shadow people
“Fucking assholes…”
George Zimmerman

“Fucking punks…”
George Zimmerman

““The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.”
D.H. Lawrence

“After the Mexican-American war, the scalp bounties went up in price. Despite efforts to regulate the killing (some of the states tried to prevent fraud by creating standard definitions and practices), the scalping business remained profitable until the 1880s, when the unpredictability and brutality finally took its toll. The mercenaries often became a threat themselves, as happens with Glanton’s gang.
Nevertheless, scalping appeared during the Civil War (1861-1865) as well. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, the infamous pro-Confederate guerilla leader, was known for dangling scalps of Union soldiers on his saddle to remind his opponents of his ruthless abilities. Of course, unlike the men represented by Glanton’s gang, he was not paid to do so.”

Nick Smith. The Business of Scalping

““the destruction of these people would be erased. The desert wind would salt their ruins and there would be nothing, nor ghost nor scribe, to tell to any pilgrim in his passing how it was that people had lived in this place and in this place died”
Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy

usa-florida-shooting

There has been an unprecidented panic about denying race and racism as the motive force of this whole ugly tragic murder. All one has to do is view the photograph of Trayvon Martin’s body to understand this boy was stalked, and hunted down, and murdered. There was no *weaponized* concrete, nothing.

The system of white supremecy has never been so starkly revealed. Now, everyone should be able to see the criminal justic system as racist and based on inequality, that’s just a given. The police never wanted to arrest Zimmerman to begin with- Zimmerman was one of them. A doofus, a goof, not the sharpest pencil in the cup, but still, one of them. They never wanted to arrest him for killing one of those “fucking punks and assholes”.

Zimmerman is the son of a white judge and a half Peruvian mother. And much was made of Zimmerman’s color– as if he wasnt WHITE. He was ideologically white, he has metaphysically white, and he was functionally white.

wall st broker aronson

I wanted to write a bit about the way in which this whiteness makes its way into film and TV. It is there in theatre, too, but its less obvious. All of it, though, ALL of it, is backdrop in one way or another: white surpemacy is the prevailing established *real* in almost 99% of what the culture industry turns out. And don’t ask me to find that 1% that isn’t.

I really am only registering personal impressions: but amid all of these impressions lurks several real questions. The deep need in White America to insist upon a color blind society, even when it is obvious to even the most challenged thinker and observer, that it remains a deeply racist society — in fact, in many ways it has gotten worse. I believe culturally, it may have actually taken several steps backward. I say this because there have been reactionary forces either returning, or simply rising to the surface in certain groups….defined under identity political labels, or via the intellectual curatorship of visible figures such as Henwood, or Callinicos, or Power, and NLR or Jacobin, et al.

In one sense this is class based. In another, probably gender. I wrote months ago about *snark*… what I called snark, the sort of empty posture of forced irony, attitude, and cyncism of so much of the educated white middle class. Its really working class, but lets say the more privilged portion of the working class. Now this is also at times labeled *hipster*. And I heard the term recently, *hipster racism*, and I thought, yes, well, thats snark.

HBOs popular series “Girls” is a useful example. One is going to be hard pressed to find white people to agree that this show is a quintessential racist and misogynst melodrama cum snark-comedy. Im coining that term, “snark comedy”. Why is it so hard for people to see these things in *Girls*? Firstly, because of marketing. Secondly, because of marketing. Thirdly, because of marketing. The show is marketed as *feminist*. It targets a youth market, and a liberal youth market. I wrote recently about tone, and its useful to explore the tone of Girls. Lena Dunham is the voice of white privilege, of narcississtic entitlement. Her branded “fearlessness” is just the fearlessness of the rich who don’t care if the servants see them topless. There is something oddly out of sync in tone and story. On one level its like class dyssemia. For most people, the working class, much of this is pure fantasy — they dont share the privilege of these girls. But, they are learning the elitist class dysfunctions, in a sense. They learn, probably by rote, things that are actually just by products of privilege for Dunham and the producers at HBO. Slumming is now ironic.

The nudity is particularly unapplealing. But unappealing is marketed as *brave* and somehow feminist. WHY? Seriously, how does that work? Its contemptuous, not brave.

Look at The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s latest foray into white exceptionalism. White men talk about themselves and other white men. Occasionally they will get dewey eyed about the flag or some poor black kid they rescued from his community.

Ray Donovan I wrote about last week. Episode four introduces the only black character so far (besides the hooker ..no lines…in the opening), a cartoon rap star music mogul who wears 70s era ermine coats and tools around in a Limo…AND who needs ‘Ray’ to fix some problems he is having. As he puts it, “Ray you the man”.

The back drop is always white.

Ten most popular shows this week:

Rank TV Show Next On Network
1 The Bachelorette Mon, Jul 22 08:00 PM ET ABC
2 Arrested Development Fri, Jul 19 10:30 PM ET IFC
3 True Blood Wed, Jul 17 12:00 AM ET HBOe
4 Pretty Little Liars Tue, Jul 16 07:00 PM ET ABCFAM
5 Mad Men Sun, Jul 21 06:00 AM ET AMC
6 The Voice Not airing in the next 14 days
7 American Idol Not airing in the next 14 days
8 Dancing with the Stars Not airing in the next 14 days
9 Scandal Not airing in the next 14 days
10 NCIS Tue, Jul 16 08:00 PM ET CBS

That’s a pretty white list. However, I would be willing to wager that if you asked a cross section of white Americans about black visibility in TV they would tell you there is equality. I’ve only my own anecdotal evidence for this, but that’s what I find. The sense is, for a majority of white folks, that there are plenty of black and brown and asian faces on their screens. In fact, maybe too many.

Now, there is the Benneton factor: if you look at this cast for Major Crimes (Warner Bros). You see two black faces, a latino I believe (Ive not watched this particular show), but the show is ideologically white. They could have six black faces and its still a white show. Its a valentine to a system of white criminal justice.

Or, the highest paid black actor in Hollywood:

Will Smith

Will Smith

Who is actually one of the highest paid white actors in Hollywood. Will Smith functions in a system of white supremacy. Now, one has to be careful not to essentialize race, and confuse issues of identity, and suggest race must exist as some form of authenticness. Still the reality is, Will Smith had everything white folks find scary in black men surgically removed. The reality is that corporate media domesticates messages of resistance and dissent, and by a censorship of omission a good deal of information is actually kept out of general public discourse.

What has changed is that the latent racism and resentments of the dying middle class have been given permission to erupt into these manufactured personas — the ironic attire, the ironic mustache, the ironic eating of 50s food, the ironic love of bad taste. When Susan Sontag wrote her essay on camp, in 1964, she was only sort of noting what had been trending, probably, since the early 1800s. The treating of serious material friviously and the frivilous seriously. But it was also to develop a refined appreciation of junk. There are several other themes running through camp sensibility, among them the rise of a specific quality of irony. Many critics in post modern cultural criticism have really seemed to confuse what was happening with camp, and around it. Guys like Fiske, but also Pamela Robertson, and it was because, I think their experience of camp failed to see the splits occuring, and failed to see the politics. Madonna was not camp. Madonna was a marketing campaign. The real core importance had to do with what was anti-social in this sensibility, and that linked it with the second aspect of importance, gay culture. Camp functioned as an outsider sensibility. It was an almost secret code for initiates. It was subverting ideas of normative gender roles and especially of masculinity. Sontag’s claim of camp’s apolitical stance was of course wrong, and suggestive of the other ways in which Sontag has emerged as pretty politically immature. Queer camp had always been political, almost by necessity.

Now, the reactionary split focused on those “quotation marks”. I think much of what was forming around queer camp practices was not particualarly ironic. The ascension of irony was linked to what I believe Bruce LaBruce calls bad gay camp. What he means is corporate camp aimed at a mass public. Its a conformist camp. And so, by definition its not camp. But it IS ironic. What seems to have happened is that around the time Sontag wrote her essay, amid a social upheaval of sorts— and the Viet Nam war looming, in this interesting backdrop of cultural unrest, marketing began to assault the master narrative. I have said, and I think it’s true (though I know people will argue this) that the last sincere artists were the abstract expressionists, and especically Gottleib and Rothko and maybe Pollock. And its interesting to look at, say, John Ford films or Sirk film, and then look at Rothko or Gottleib, and see which works have fallen under ironic subsumtion. Sirk in a sense was subversive — and plainly very hard to pin down or even write about. Ford’s films seem pretty campy at times, but not at other times. AbX painters dont seem campy at all.

crimes

Is this the product of abstraction? Can one look at Edward Hopper as part of a camp sensibility? I don’t think so. Nor can you do that with most noir. Some you can. Is Detour a camp film? Not for me. But see, it would be only the mass marketed camp. Which is heteronormative and simpy a highly ironic subject position. And….that conformist camp becomes what is today loosely called hipsterism. Ironic. Sarcastic. Intentionally insincere.

Now, this conformist camp is also white camp. The camp of drag queens and t-girl hookers and sexual renegades of all stripes was not ironic in the same sense, or at all, and it was righteously angry, and it was often not white.

In an interview LaBruce says….

“LaBruce: That’s basically what I’ve argued the world has generally become nowadays: bad camp. From CNN to Fox News to the Hangover franchise to the endless reiterations of Star Wars to Julian Assange’s haircut to Vladimir Putin’s shirtless escapades to Michelle Obama’s bangs, it’s all bad camp now.

Allen: Do you think the idea of camp will live forever?

LaBruce: As I indicate in my essay, I really hope that the whole world will cease to become camp (or bad straight camp) and leave it to the experts: the marginal, the disenfranchised, the subversive sissies and dagger dykes and terrific trannies. (Mykki Blanco is one of the best examples of extraordinarily good, classic contemporary camp.) My hope is that camp will be re-politicized, reinvigorated and not just used as commodity fetish for a bunch of boring, capitalistic publicity hogs to make endless profit from. I mean, what could be more camp than Justin Bieber?”

There is a lot of truth in this. And I want to return to white supremacy in this context. Because white supremacy, as it has resurfaced through the legitimating of racism by increasingly reactionary TV hosts, columnists, talk show hosts, through a number of nominally leftist intellectuals, and through a constant assault of corporate militarist kitsch, the education of normative gender and sexual objectifying and defining of beauty by the white industry of haute couture.

The subversive dissonant camp of the sexual outlaws, and the queer radicals however, was gradually being eclipsed by the gay culture of rich white men. This to a degree coincided with the AIDS ‘epidemic’, but in terms of political culture, the effect was that the gentrifying rich gay white male became the face of gay rights. Gentrification of neighborhoods that became almost their own little police states. There are more police and laws per square foot in West Hollywood, for example, than in Singapore. And these more reactionary gay white men instinctively gravitated toward (per LaBruce) bad gay and straight camp. Gay Marriage became the goal, integration. No need for Bradley Manning as Grand Marshall, but lets have Coca Cola and brokerage firm sponsors, and military recruiters.
https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/26-8

http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2013/05/san-francisco-pride-and-the-lgbt-divide-over-bradl.html

and a mini backlash…..http://www.bradleymanning.org/news/supporters-march-for-bradley-manning-at-gay-pride-events

It is worth noting in this symbolic case, that still, the sense of purpose, even in the backlash, was focused on narrow identity politics. I would maintain that too high a percentage of “gay culture” became mainstream, both politically and culturally. The radical voices of Genet and Baldwin and Burroughs and the trannie refusal was exchanged for having a gay character in a new sitcom.

chamberlain_gallows

The culture industry was joined at the hip with the Pentagon about 1980. The relationship existed before that, but it was formalized after Viet Nam as the US military apparatus was playing catch up with mass media. The gradual merging of military and film and TV was taking place as propaganda in general was being intensified.

“Art, as an instrument of opposition, depends on the alientating forces of the aesthetic creation; on its power to remain strange, antagonistic, transcendent to normalacy and, at the same time, being the reservoir of man’s supressed needs, faculties and desires, to remain more real than the reality of normalacy-“

Herbert Marcuse, 1945

head

In this same essay, Marcuse quotes Whitehead:

“The truth that some proposition respecting an actual occasion is untrue may express the vital truth as to its aesthetic achievement. It expresses the “great refusal” which is its primary characteristic”.

This small essay on Aragon is actually very relevant to this discussion. For as Marcuse says..-…” if all contents…incorporated and absorbed into monopolistic way of life…the solution may be found in the form.”

The avante garde was not negative enough, for the content of the destructiive act was itself not destroyed. In a sense, this tension was stabilized, and among the reactions to this emotionally deflating stasis of form and content — one increasingly appropriated directly for new cultural markets, was to reject both, and to embrace “both” (ironically). Sincerity became opaque and unknown. If in painting, we are left with Gottleib, in film Sirk signaled the ‘either AND or’ of post war cultural dynamics. To pose political content was to hand it over to monopoly capital — so for Marcuse the political will appear only in the way in which content is shaped and formed…AND (quoting)…“the most revolutionary work of art will be, at the same time, the most esoteric, the most anti-collectivistic…”. So to fast forward a bit, the negation of avant gardes has dragged on into some strange saturation point for narrative and image…a topic to which I keep returning….and along the way, I suspect the anti corporatism became expressed in the radical refusal of trannie camp and homeless T-girls performative posture. These were the new remote performative cave paintings of the 21st century. There was no intended audience, there was nothing to commodify. Now, alongisde this is the trope of whiteness. Monopoly capital is white. Wall Street is white, and joint chiefs of staff are white, even when they aren’t.

beach vendor
George Zimmerman had, I am sure, internalized the symbology and values of westerns in film and TV. The logic of what Richard Slotkin described as regeneration through violence — Zimmerman was the scalp hunter, the indian killer, the vigilante. Except he wasn’t. He was a pudgy dim little man, eyes close together, arms short in his cheap suit, and a slightly bewildered air about him. One can well imagine the fantasy self Zimmerman created, while out hunting for one of *those assholes*, those *coons* that *always get away with it*. But he was most close in spirit to the scalp hunter. He WANTED to find a Trayvon Martin, one of those assholes… that is why he had a gun. He wanted to kill him. He had wanted to kill one of those assholes and get his scalp probably since he can remember.

And to underscore the obvious, Bill Blum writes:

“The statistics tell a chilling tale: According to the Census Bureau, African-Americans comprise 16.6 percent of Florida’s population, but the state’s Department of Corrections notes that they account for 31.5 percent of its inmates. As reported by the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice, blacks in Florida are arrested at a rate 2.9 times greater than other racial groups, and are 35 percent more likely to be convicted of a felony or misdemeanor than whites who have similar socioeconomic status, live in areas with similar crime rates and have similar criminal records.
Juvenile offenders, regardless of race, receive especially tough treatment in Florida, which charges children criminally as adults and sentences them to adult prisons and jails far more frequently than any other state in the country.”

05 016

Adorno said that shared morality, or ethos, once it is severed from the collective, once they are not really shared; then “these ideas acquire repressive and violent qualities.” As soon as there are quotation marks around things, then those things must be imposed in fascistic and repressive ways. He saw nothing worse or more degenerate than collective beliefs that have lost their collectivity. One can see in Zimmerman, and in white America at large today, these universalizing abstractions — democracy, freedom, patriotism, etc. All such abstractions end in a violent imposition because they not material, and not collectively inhabited, spiritually or emotionally, and that’s exactly because they are essentially meaningless phrases. His real drive was resentment, his own self loathing, and a rage at the failure of whatever tiny dream he once may have had. A dream to have the same kind of big house he saw on TV. To own a nice car like the kind the men who owned the businesses that employed him drove around in, or that George saw in movies. For what stared back at George Zimmerman in the mirror each morning, was not the romantic rogue frontiersman, iconoclastic and individualistic. It was a scared overweight little man with a fear and hatred of women (as his record shows) and a seething rage at those he imagined somehow were the cause of his sense of personal failure. Zimmerman is the same guy you see as a mall guard, riding around in little golf carts with SECURITY stenciled across the back of his polycotten wind breaker.

Zimmerman is also the new watered down Judge Holden. He didn’t hunt Yuma Indians, he hunted hoodie wearing teenage black boys, but it’s still the same hunt. And the *stand your ground* law is a settler law. It is the afterbirth of Manifest Destiny. If Holden posessed the intelligence that made him a mythic daemon, Zimmerman was only another pissed off white guy.

Santa Catalina Mtns, Arizona, local of John Glanton scalp hunter, 1840s

Santa Catalina Mtns, Arizona, local of John Glanton scalp hunter, 1840s

Yet, there seems an endless discoursive apologia, not for Zimmerman so much as for the idea of white people. White people are complaining they are being picked on, unfairly. This deformation of thought is the product of what Molly and I were discussing in the last comments thread, I think. The post structuralist project contains a good deal of exceptional thought, but as a project, over-all, there is something problematic going on. Of course I’ve written about Zizek before, but there are a host of others. And I think the problem is less individuals (excepting Zizek) and more the appropriation of the ahistorical part of this philosophical movement.

Irony has become, to my mind, directly linked to white supremacism. It is the hegemonic snark and laughter of the men’s lounge at the Raffles Hotel, or somewhere in the Raj, or at Lord Kitchner’s dining table in Khartoum. I hear it in Aaron Sorkin, and Martin Amis, and I hear it in Tom Friedman and David Gregory. I hear it in Nial Fergusson, and Bill Maher. And in Letterman and this snarky white voice echos across boardrooms and military conference rooms nationwide. Irony cannot exist in black inner cities in the same way. Nor can it exist at the Pine Ridge reservation, or in rural Appalachia, or in the migrant camps of Imperial County California. Even if black comedians from Newark or Watts were to try for that voice, that ironic snide tone, they cant do it, because that tone only lives as accompaniment to property and historical entitlement. It’s hard to be poor and snarky.

The voice of white liberal reason accompanies the voice of snark. The *presentation* of mature balance, the corporate newsperson, feigned neutrality has now migrated to the general liberal white population. Real anger, raising your voice, is just sooooooo unbecoming. It is also a sign of class barriers. Its perfectly OK to be snarky and snide. But to be angry is forbidden. To be angry that George Zimmerman walks the streets of Sanford Florida today, is unprofessional. Professional snark is alright. Lets be fair now, lets be balanced.

Bruce LaBruce, photography

Bruce LaBruce, photography

Hipster Racism … in it’s gestation period: http://www.policymic.com/articles/54875/trayvoning-the-sickening-new-social-media-trend-you-shouldn-t-attempt

I can already here extemporaneous jokes about weaponized concrete. This is the sarcasm that’s not quite irony, but passes as cool by virtue of very slight controvery. It says ‘I’m aware, I get it, a tragedy, and Geraldo is lame, but I’m too sophisticated not to be cynical.’

This is a new *irony*.

noun (plural ironies)
[mass noun]
the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect:
‘Don’t go overboard with the gratitude,’ he rejoined with heavy irony
a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result:
the irony is that I thought he could help me
[count noun]:
one of life’s little ironies
(also dramatic or tragic irony) a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.

Oxford English Dictionary

The new irony is incapable of building a *satire* around. At best, the Horatian satire-lite maybe. But I doubt even that. As bad camp washed the radical politics from OG Queer camp, so the new white Snark ironic is politics free. In fact thats partly its definition. This is not to say satire has been destroyed, for thats hardly true at all. But it is a satire of already shared agreements. This is a large topic, and I intend to return to it in another posting.

industrial bldg open area

Irony links to snark and perhaps they are almost identical in the end, and they reside in a presentation of self defined by white definitions of reasonable and mature and balanced. Irony is cynical. Irony is not really serious. Sincerity is serious. White people cannot abide too much sincerity or too much seriousness. Not as a culture. I cannot help but see the connections in a society that alligns itself with the brutal sadism of a right wing Israeli government, that supports opportunistically the worst regimes in the world, and which, within it’s own population, has encouraged this resurgent racism. A culture of triviality, of consumer advocacy and of the glorification of phallic violence, that worships militarism, has also the largest prison population in the history of mankind, of all time, and that within that population reside almost only the poor, and addedly, with a disproportionate racial bias. Plantation owners and average white men once had the legal right to use lethal force against their slaves. Remember this. It has not changed. Not really.

Racism existed before the fact in that jury deliberation. Its just not an internal belief system, its a structural material reality.

It has a history, too. From 1882 to 1930, Florida had the highest number of lynchings per capita in the nation (three in the 1940s). In 1946, Jackie Robinson was greeted in Sanford by the KKK. Robinson later described his shock and dismay at the level of racism directed toward him and especially his new wife, Rachel.
http://www.sgvtribune.com/rodtestcrime/ci_22209490/fatal-pasadena-police-shooting-kendrec-mcdade-ruled-lawful



meere_OA20-1965_510px.jpg.510x10000_q85

The denial in the white liberal population exists in varying degrees. From outright delusion to liberal hand wringing, but almost always there the sense that the malignant racist core of this event doesn’t exist. It’s a gun control issue, or a problem with not teaching neighborhood watch members better skills, or the need to explain Zimmerman is really part “hispanic” (sic) or its just layed out as a tragedy. As if tragedies fall from the sky. I have compassion, I feel for everyone. Darn, it’s so tragic. For black mothers, the fear accumulates. Black parents carry enormous fear with them every day. In white America, the perception is of hoodie wearing gun toting gangsters, or of rich black millionaire athletes, clownish, ill educated and unappreciative.

Uppity.

Look what white America has done for you.

“And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us”
John O’Sullivan

Liberty, but only for some. We the people, but only some people. The United States didn’t really want to end slavary, and it didn’t really want to integrate, and those Sanford Florida cops didn’t really want to arrest George Zimmerman, and those Sanford Florida DA’s didnt really want to have to prosecute.

Zimmerman was only doing what has essentially been policy in the United States since colonial times.

ARTS_Lewis_ClarkUndaunted

Photo of Santa Catalina Mountains, by Phil Taylor, 2011

Comments

  1. Another interesting expression of white discomfort has been the sentiment among self proclaimed anti-government white folks that “they are just doing this to divide us”. As if the Martin murder was a wag the dog operation. Still this fear of stepping to the table to speak to the system of white supremacy all white folks benefit from and understanding what the institution of whiteness in America is.

  2. I’d add that it is a bad law there in Florida: “stand your ground” is a terrible law and opens the door wide for travesties like this to happen.
    More and more the privilege gap and aspirational thinking translate into a new racist paradigm, where people feel absolved of moral responsibility since they are generally disempowered and live in a world of corporate-manipulated fantasy.
    Also add into the mix the appalling story in today’s NYTimes Arts Section: “Rare but Real, a Racial Divide in Primetime” by Jon Caramanica, about Aaryn Gries’ blatant racism in the show Big Brother. Check it out, it’s jaw dropping.

  3. John Steppling says:
  4. Tom Waldman says:

    The Ironic thing is,John that in the Brilliant Westerns of Budd Boetticher,it is the Town that behaves like George Zimmerman. Randolph Scott is more like Trayvon. He just wants to get home to his ranch without any fuss. Only in Decision at Sundown does Scott do any stalking,and Boetticher wants the audience to realize that Scott is Seriously Fucked Up. Great Westerns like All Great Art comment on the Human Picture. Bad Westerns are Jingoistic Racist Crap!

  5. wowww://
    this is an immense piece of writing weaving and gathering
    i do not want to say virtuous cos dat shit is boring
    this writing is queer as fuck, reminds me a lot of the irreverent MUNOZ
    thank you so much, i have been trying to comfort & accomodate to too many white people who happen to be dear friends cos of the blowback for deciding to not fit the stereotype of quiet abiding (south) asian kid, shitttt fuck dat
    this has been inspiring & so timely in its transhistoricity

    WILL get it out in writing

    ***working on an experimental piece of writing (chapbook?), a technomangle spreadsheet of a sporadic longing and recollection of language of forgotten diaspora

  6. On murder considered as one of the ironic arts, have you seen the trailer and press for this film?

    Your reference to Blood Meridian brought home again how indelible that book is, how archetypal Judge Holden seems, yet I really don’t think that in recent years I’ve read a more reactionary, repellent novel than The Road. McCarthy seems the last person to connect to a discussion of snark or irony, but maybe those examples show how an ]”ironic” (in a neutral way? self-aware but not tongue-in-cheek about it?) genre like neo-Western can run a full spectrum of authenticity and fakery.

  7. John Steppling says:

    @thurnandtaxis….

    that doc seems fascinating, i have to say. I know a guy worked with Morris and he sent me some stuff on it. Lets just say Im curious.

    As for McCarthy. The Road is pretty bad in the end….and sentimental. No Country for Old Men however is quite good…..and I guess its less an evaluation of mcCarthy than it is, as you say, that Blood Meridian occupies some weird zone of acute relevance to the US collective, to the culture. Holden seems more Ahab than Ahab. Its interesting though, beecause I think mcCarthy also raises questions about genre. At what point is No country NOT a western….? I dont know, honestly. But see…..your remarks also beg a question about the experience of narrative today. I mean, the ironic posture is so deeply embedded now….its like in the DNA of ever sentence everyone writes or speaks….that its reflexive to say certain things about certain artists. Some of it has to do with the following that artist has, some of it has to do with the genre. Agendas get all mixed up in it. I see this on both right and left….and it seems essentially impossible to write “novels” anymore, thats dead., Poetry probably the same. I dont know where it does………its part of why film probably seems so appealing because the narrative is apriori also treated as if its a commentary on the camera and vice versa. And part of this is that everything is now genre. Second thing is that narrative somehow cannot escape the enclosure completely ….of the media assault. I mean i hear often someone’s critique, maybe my own a lot, and its accurate….yes, this seems to indicate this or can be seen as that. And yet, it feels as if the analysis never gets at the whole, but rather is working with the sum of the parts. The whole is maybe more elusive than ever.

    @rita….yes jaw dropping. As for stand your ground…well yeah, but the law is the result of a sensibility, not the other way round.

    Budd boetticher…..yeah, time to write something on those film.s

  8. I think Jon Steward, Stephen Colbert, and all their writers are the epitome of this kind of snark you’re talking about. They’re disguised as heralds of truth when really it’s more of the same. Nowhere is this clearer than when they “interview” celebrities. I caught the tail end of the interview the other day where Helen Mirren was on, and the only time the conversation had turned somewhat serious was in regard to other celebrities, “Oh, you’ve never met Brad (Pitt)? He’s very nice….” “And what about the Queen? Have you met the Queen?” I wanted to throw up.

  9. I don’t know if this is the right place to post this, but just read a book review in Foreign Affairs of “The Frankfurt School at War: The Marxists Who Explained the Nazis to Washington”. My guess is that most here will have issues with much of what FA has to say about the Frankfurt School (along with everything else in FA). However, that said, who knew the Frankfurt School was working so closely with the OSS — precursor to the CIA — in WWII? I sure didn’t. Here’s the link: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139466/william-e-scheuerman/the-frankfurt-school-at-war?page=show

  10. well I meant to comment first about the twitter argument and the question of producing whiteness but this documentary the Act of Killing – never heard of it – is just making my head spin. you know Errol Morris has been working on this kind of forensic examination of famous Capa Spanish Civil War and WWII photos to discredit them as war journalism, to say they were staged. Somehow this combines in my mind with this repeated insistence that hoodies and baggy pants are “scary clothes”. How are these scary? They look like pajamas. But even though we know how popular this sartorial style is with teens across the world, on tv every kid in a hoodie is a killer, so white people can PRETEND, can MAKE BELIEVE, they are scared. As in the cinema, where they know they are safe. It’s that kind of scared – and under cover of it, they kill kill kill.

  11. john steppling says:

    @george: Yeah, there was obviously a large immigration of german jewish intellectuals in the 30s…the institute for social research was founded in germany in 1920s….and horkheimer took over directorship in the 30s. It was actually the first marxist oriented group of its kind in europe. Anyway, when they fled fascism they signed on for a few years to work with the state dept on sociological based projects…some in conjunction with universities (Berkeley I know for one) and I believe columbia. Anyway, it was seen as part of a fight against fascism. Martin jay’s book dialectical imagination has a good history of the group. ..and Rolf Wiggerhaus book also excellent. I will read the FA article.

    @molly: Morris is very problematic. I know people who have worked with him, and I almost did. I had a few conversations with him. Im curious to see this Act of Killing.

    As for twitter wars. I think that what is depressing about these things is the approach. The discussion is not about the truth. Its not ever about the truth. Its not ever about learning a fucking thing, its about being right. Its about some idiotic tweet feed of twenty six words or whatever it is. Gives me vertigo, actually. But I think the trayvon martin fallout gets to everyone. I cant take another conversation with a white prog about how complex zimmerman is. I feel this is actually the Jacobin/dean/Power/zizek/ sunkara effect……..and it was frustrating today to have (in theory) leftists sort of scatter shot this anger and not recognize the enemy. I mean what hope is there? I dont want to work with such people. And therein lies a big issue. But you’re right about hoodies and the official styles of threat. I mean beards are now scary too. Dark ones anyway. And I think (at least I know I have) the fear of white people is underestimated. On the one hand, its pretend. Yes. On the other, its real because it IS exactly like the movies….yes yes…..and that makes it more real.

  12. Tom Waldman says:

    This is an apologia and Mea Culpa.,John . My Free Associating and Scattered Brain Flew Far Afield of the main topic. I guess that Being a Huge Fan of the Genre,and the works of Messieurs Boetticher,Peckinpah,Mann,Fuller,Siegal,and Ray (as well as the Classicists:Ford,Hawks,King,Daves) I leap to its defense ,when I fear that the Mediocre Oater,John Wayne Syndrome of the Form(“When you say that….. Smile,” ” A Mans gotta do,what a mans gotta do”) is confused with the Adult Form of the Genre,(the afor ementioned Gents). Their work,(especially Mann,Boetticher,and Peckinpah) is a social critique.not a paen to American Jingoism. Lang’s Rancho Notorious,is practically marxist.

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