Dark at the End of the Street

The recent school shooting in Newtown Ct is going to elicit a good deal of hand wringing and lip service to reform. The anti NRA liberals will demand action. It is clear that affulent white liberals are the most adamant about gun control. I suppose that makes sense, for they do not fear the police in the way the poor do. The poor know that it’s just not a good idea to allow, in principle, the police to be the only group with weapons.

I am in the process of trying to imagine an *Anti Institute for Cultural Research*… thats the sort of name I came up with. I am writing grant proposals and trying to see what it would cost to even have a single summer forum where a radical pedagogy took place, and where an emphasis was placed on culture, on aesthetics, and on art and its intersection with politics. For, what has struck me most this week, before the school shooting, was the failure of institutional art. The failure to find gravitas. It is such a tawdry shallow frivilous and insipid cultural landscape right now.

I want this posting to suggest some of what I mean when I speak of aesthetic resistence. What are the correctives to Zero Dark Thirty and the lastest Ben Affleck or Adam Sandler or Speilberg or Milch franchise or whateverthefuckever. Its far too big a subject to even attempt anything like a comprehensive exploration of aesthetics, today. So I want to just sort of write some intuitive responses to the spectacle, as it looks to me right now.

There have been sixteen mass shootings in the U.S. in 2012.

SIXTEEN. I mean holy shit. Here are a couple random examples….

April 6th, Tulsa Oklahoma. Two white men shoot into a group of black pedestrians, killing three. All three victims were black. One of the shooters had a father who had been a shooting victim, two years earlier, almost to the day. The father was shot by a black man, who is now in prison. Race, Oklahoma, and a grim landscape of unemployment, racial tensions, and an ethos of masculinity defined by aggression. Football is god in Oklahoma. Football and rodeo. One of the shooters, the younger man, 19, Jake Englund, was depressed because his fiancee (with whom he had a child) had recently committed suicide. The narrative is grim, feels as emotionally empty as the flat hard terrain on which it took place feels empty. It is the world Capote captured with In Cold Blood, and Mailer in Executioner’s Song. I thought the best aspect of both those books was the sense of lonliness and emotional deadness in rural America. The strip malls, discount super markets, 99 cent stores, auto parts franchises …. which serve, often, as the defacto social club for young and not so young men in the area.

May 12th, Seattle, Washington. Forty year old Ian Stawicki opened fire on people in a cafe. Stawicki had a history of volitility and “erratic” behavior. Stawicki was the eldest of three children born to Walter and Carol Stawicki in Santa Barbara, Ca. The family soon settled in Beacon Hill, Seattle. Stawicki displayed early signs of autism and had trouble learning as a child. He joined the Army at seventeen. He suffered a concussion in traing, in Panama, from a grenade, and was discharged.

Stawicki is an almost Dostoyevkian character, an isolated unhappy man who suffered social and romantic rejection throughout his life. He worked odd jobs, on commercial fishing boats in Alaska, and later as a roadie for rock bands in the Seattle area. Stawicki loved guns and owned several. A former girlfriend, from a short term relationship, remembers him sleeping with a gun under his pillow. Seattle and Kittias County issued him gun permits.

A girlfriend in 2007 filed for a restraining order against Stawicki. She said he had grown more paranoid, more angry. In March 2010 he attacked his brother and beat him severely. The family cut off contact with Stawicki after that.

He adopted the moniker “Spider Wolf” around this time. He started hanging out with local musicians at the Cafe Racer. Two of those regulars were victims in the later shooting spree.

He would tell people he was part of a CIA hit squad. He grew more unstable and aggressive. People increasingly avoided him.

August, College Station, Texas. Home of Texas A&M. Thomas Caffall shoots three in a thirty minute rampage of violence. On his facebook page, Caffall lists among his inspirations and people he admired, gun desginers Samuel Colt and Mikhail Kalashnikov. Caffall was a big video game enthusiest. His father described him as “crazy as hell”.

August; forty year old Wade Page, avowed white supremicist, goes on shooting spree at a Sikh Temple in Milwaukee, killing six. Page was a member of several different skinhead bands and toured Europe with one of them. Page was an Army veteran who worked in the mid nineties as a repairman for the Hawk Missile System and later for Psychological Operations (PSYOP). He received a general discharge after a pattern of misconduct usually involving being drunk while on duty. He worked in the Denver area as a truck driver after that until he was fired for driving while intoxicated. Page had permits for the guns he used in the shooting.

These narratives share much in common, at the same time they exhibit great variety. Putting them altogether provides a picture of American society you rarely see in corporate TV and film. Cop shows tend toward reductive portraits of the “bad guys”, and if the focus IS on a killer, he is usually a gifted psychopath, an evil mastermind. The truth is, these real life killings are narratives of absolute banality. It is the banality of daily life for so much of the underclass in the United States. Running throughout these stories is a palpable lack of hope, an absence of opportunity, and a painful sense of alienation. In almost every case there was a failure for these men to get mental health treatment of any kind.

As I read through the stories, I happened on various news outlets…CNN, ABC, MSNBC, et al. In each case the story was surrounded with advertisements…often for violent video games, or just with adverts for the newest Hollywood film about killers or the military. You cannot even report tragedy without trying to sell something. The obsessive display of violent imagery is everywhere. It is constant. What is the message? I also found I had to sit through commercials for various items….commercial videos I was unable to turn off. One was for car insurance, another for stomach antacid. More banality, more bombardment of image and marketing message. More things to sell and buy. You are what you buy. It all feels slightly old fashioned these days, though. The economy is not really pegged to consumerism anymore, though its still present. It is just about SEEING the image, and somehow reproducing it. Circulating it. If you sit back to reflect at all, it is unavoidable not to remember cultural expression as it intersects here. Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Dickens, Melville, and Shakespeare…or McCarthy, or poets such as Roethke and Hart Crane, Lorca and Vallejo and Trakle. Assuming one has been exposed to them.

Here is a Robert Bly translation of Trakle:

The Rats

In the farmyard the white moon of autumn shines.
Fantastic shadows fall from the eaves of the roof.
A silence is living in the empty windows;
Now from it the rats emerge softly
And skitter here and there, squeaking,
And a grey malodorous mist from the latrine
Follows behind them, sniffling:
Through the mist the ghostly moonlight quivers.
And the rats squeak eagerly as if insane
And go out to fill houses and barns
Which are filled full of fruit and grain.
Icy winds quarrel in the darkness.

Wade Page

If there is nothing to fill the inner lives of people except advertisements, coercion, marketing, or TV violence with disposible people, and the endless worship and adulation of authority, then what happens to these lonely people? Almost all these killers were men. Where is the intersection of misogyny and explosions of violence? These were almost all men who felt powerless, inadequate, and marginal. Community once upon a time had a sense of how to care for them. But that was long ago. Feudalism, now being reproduced in our new feudal era, has royalty and serfs. And no care for the damaged.

What really is the role of art? The barbarism of Capitalism, of motives pinned exclusively to profit, to exploitation of our neighbors; is this moment of random and usually impersonal murder somehow the logical culmination? If children are read to at night, do they create neural connections more ammenable to compassion, to nurturing rather than destruction? The institutions of learning today are mostly not interested in this. Success is not measured by compassion or empathy. How many public figures and politicians are psychopaths? Don Rumsfeld, Donald Trump, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, Eric Holder, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Netanyahu, Cameron, Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch, every Admiral and General in the military (and there are some nine hundred of them). When Obama wipes away a tear at the press conference following the latest massacre, do we believe him? The man who draws up kill lists, drone bombing complete with ‘double taps’- the man who has signed off on the torture of Bradley Manning and pushed through NDAA. Do we believe him?

The sacred in art is today viewed in cynical and even ironic terms. The post modern posture, at least the reductive self promoting variety of buffoons like Zizek, where permission is granted to indulge and enjoy the racism and misogyny of Empire, has no place for the sacred, for a practice of awakening, of cultural transcendence. A nation that has seven million of its citizens in prison, and the death penalty, is not a compassionate society. A large percentage of whom have done nothing more than enjoy recreational drug use, but sit in prison for years, decades often. The puritan underpinnings of American society grant allowence for public pilloring and humiliation. Reality TV is built upon public humiliation.

The spectacle of U.S. football, with the known long term brain damage, remains the sacrifical ritual of weekend life for American men. Factory farming, rendition and torture: so much to have to ignore. Except you don’t really, you can’t. So, you fetishize it, and make it entertainment. The schizophrenic contradictions of Bigelow’s orgy of anger and sadism becomes a totem for expunging guilt. Don’t ask questions about the collective. Who are we as a society? Don’t ask.

Abu Ghraib

How can the response to this week’s massacre of children in Newtown take the form of attacks on the NRA? Is that REALLY what we believe? I mean sixteen mass shootings in a single year, and that’s not counting the murder suicide of an NFL player (game took place anyway, because, you know…..) and does this not connect to watching Israeli assaults on a powerless population in Gaza? Or a drone terror inflicted on innocent villagers in Afghanistan. Is there not a rather obvious connection?

There is an obvious climate crisis, whatever reason you give for it. There is enviromental degradation everywhere one looks — yet the leaders of the West talk of budget deficits and exactly how much to prosecute marijuana users. Such titantic levels of hypocricy create insanity.

To drive across the United States is to feel the bitter shrivelled economically depressed towns of what is often referred to as the ‘Heartland’. There are few places for youth, there is rarely much history, for family run farms have all been bought out. Little real education. Almost no libraries are left. The suburbs of most large cities are culturally barren places, too, without jobs, without a sense of purpose. They simply house people. And a good many of those people take anti depressents, or, just look for relief in narcotics or booze. Factory work has never been exactly pleasurable, but sixty years ago, if you worked, had union protection, you could buy a home and car. Today, the few factories left are run like sweat shops. Nobody buys a car from the wages at any of them. Wal-Mart has come to symbolize the dysfunction of American life. Cheap junk sold cheap, and stocked by sub minimum wage labor. There are exceptions, of course. Usually, in my experience, immigrant communities that have staved off the predatory-culture of the U.S. There is no ur-culture in the U.S. Nothing that has survived. Today culture is for profit. Or its a hobby. MFA programs, poetry workshops, readings for your friends. Nothing inherently wrong with it, except it’s usual triviality.

The photo at the top is by Atget. I’ve always liked it because that black shadowy entrenceway at the end of the street beckons one. An unconscious off stage siren. The plenitude of emptiness. Narratives usually, in my opinion, recreate our own pychic history somehow. They do other things as well, of course. We respond to the criminal because it is us. Part of how the failure of American life has evolved is connected to the puritanical feel good hygenic liberal sense of paternalism. Air brush the cigarette from Robert Johnson’s mouth before you put him on a stamp. Because we only allow a Disneyland version of Robert Johnson. Artists should be commited to telling the truth, not to having hits or huge book deals or congratulation. Nobody trusts failure in American society. Nobody trusts themselves.

Turn on the TV tonight and count the guns. Count how many you see.

Count how much is being sold during commercial breaks. Count how many cops you see, and how many soldiers.

To be able to think you need quiet. You need time. You need space. Meditate. Read.

Art does many things in many different ways. My love of film noir connects, I’m coming to see, with the fact that those directors, German Jewish emigres who fled fascism, were men who believed in culture. The last act of American film may have been in the 50s, or early 60s. Sam Fuller, right up to Point Blank. A coda appeared briefly after Viet Nam. Today you have to look to Europe. Culture is probably moving gradually to the southern hemisphere. Capitalism is dead. The colonial Imperialist west is dead. The denial of this doesn’t change the reality. Today, the marketed crack spewed out by corporate bean counters and their minions allows for no meditation.

The great age of noir, 1942 to around 1951, contained something deeply haunting. A subtextual panic and fear. For the knock on the door at midnight could come any night.

The term mythic would require an entire posting to try to tweeze apart. There is a mythic level, though, at which much narrative and image operates. Gods and ghosts and beggers and the insane. Criminals and outcasts and fugitives and holy sinners. That and those which confront the status quo. If you continue to accept the bribes of Empire you eventually become a martian.

The dark at the end of the street. Culture is located somewhere past the entrance. It is not illuminated. The studio heads, the award winning castrati performers, the tap dancing but self important hacks of film and TV, as well as the pompous self aggrandizing curators of academia or prestige galleries….these are people consigned to one or another circle of Hell. That is why we read Dante. It is why we read Milton, or Chaucer or Sophocles. You feel it, but it’s not easy to define. Thelonious Monk, Hank Williams, Webern and Bartok…..Bach, or whoever it was drew those figures on the walls of the Lascaux caves….there is a connection, and they are linked. That is part of the joy and wonder of culture. Without it we run around like rabid dogs, biting and snarling and eating our own shit. Advanced capital reproduces its own sadism at ever faster rates. The desperation is now clear, and visible, and you can see sweat form on Obama’s upper lip, you can see the psychosis in Bush’s eyes, or the deadness of Rumsfeld’s soul. Or what was once a soul. Cheney has no heartbeat. How perfect.

We are in a society in which we sanction the death of children. Oh, only Arab children, only Muslim, only Congolese or Haitian. Well, now it is kids in Connecticut.

Welcome to the nightmare.


  1. Stephen Birch says:

    Yeah man!

  2. Jennifer R. says:

    Wow, that was exquisitely put. I’m not as elegant with my diction, however I feel you shed light on so much in society that people sometimes do not see. Or worse, refuse to see. In a recent conversation with a friend of mine, we were discussing just this – the Connecticut shooting. The world we live in has become increasingly tolerating of stupider things and stupider reasoning. For what it is – gun control, psychiatric help, etc. – we are failing. This is indeed a nightmare.

  3. Vocalis Spiritum says:

    Societies that place no value on their children are not destined for longevity. We see this time and time again. Generation X was the most unwanted generation in the history of the USA, and now echoes of the abandonment are ringing out in violent ways. Whether through abandonment, abortion or neglect, is this really a surprise? Where, exactly, do young men turn for guidance? Absent fathers, working mothers, unfavored in higher education, shunned for hiring and promotions at work in favor of diversity, raped in the courts in the form of alimony and child support, losing custody of their kids, being constantly told they need to change, be more “sensitive”, reprimanded for the slightest perception of sexual innuendo.. and we wonder why these young men act out in such violent ways? We seriously wonder why they feel so alienated? And if they manage to make it to middle age, they end up sitting in front of their computers with their earphones on watching porn or virtually shooting something brown. Generation X was just the beginning. The Millennials seem much more willing to act on their feelings of inadequacy.

  4. Roberto Gustavo says:

    “and does this not connect to watching Israeli assaults on a powerless population in Gaza?” Here the real sacrifice of children centers on the rockets fired from school yards, hospitals, apartment buildings into Israeli towns and cities. Your perspective treasures only some children. Your belief centers on chosen sacrifice–Clear you mind. Rural America might have something to teach the cosmopolitan class….

  5. Roberto Gustavo – your comment is so full of ignorance, I don’t even know how to respond. John doesn’t “treasure only some children.” The empire does. The mass American culture does, and therefor you do too. The massacre in CT exposes this clearly – now that tragedy strikes the children of an affluent white community you will see exactly which children are more “treasured” in this country and by whom.

    John another enlightening post. Much to respond to. Will do so when I can find some time this busy weekend.

  6. John Steppling says:

    gustavo……..how many Israeli children have died? How many palestinian? And who is the aggressor? And who is the occupier?

  7. I think Gustavo means that the greater source of danger to children in Gaza lies in the fact that the Palestinians fire their rockets from behind children, from the midst of children, from schoolyards,,,

  8. John Steppling says:

    Anonymous………..thats again nonsense. First off, how many Israelis have died and how many Palestinians? How many dead israeli children?`How many destroyed Israeli schools`? If you comment, at least have an identity. This is pure propaganda and so idiotic Im not sure why Im bothering to answer.

  9. Mr Gustavo this is ridiculous. Gaza is under siege. The Israelis who control it actually calculated how many calories to let in. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/16/israel Israel has imprisoned and systematically tortured hundreds of thousands of Palestinians including children. http://rt.com/news/israel-tortures-palestinian-children-report-002/ http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/children-not-exempt-from-widespread-torture-in-israeli-detention-a-look-at-child-arrests-in-the-last-month.html

  10. john steppling says:

    and allow me to add to this, since the topic has been raised. Israel’s illegal occupation and theft of land has gone on for decades. They have either the fourth (if you count nukes which they sort of wont admit or deny….wink wink) or the sixth or the tenth, most powerful military on the planet. It depends on the source and method used to measure this. Palestine has nothing. A few homemade rockets, maybe a few leftover soviet era crap…..but witness the lack of destruction in israel from any of this. But at what point does one think that Palestinians have a right to defend themselves? To resist occupation and theft of their land. The endless brutality and humiliation visited upon a powerless population is simply grotesque. Whatever one makes of the Zionist project ….and in the 60s and 70s there was certainly a real progressive dimension to the country…..today it is run by fascist thugs. Psychopaths like Bibi and Lieberman. The change took place after the military victory of 67,…the US aid increased….military aid in particular…..and a more elite rich Israelis began to assume power — and it was expressed in the political class. Remember this is after Suharto….viet nam was ramping up….the US was intensifying its Imperialist agenda in new form. So, behind all this lay a white surpremicist foundational thought. Deal with the colonies…..in south east asia or the middle east, and couple that to petro dollars….and it all made perfect sense. The liberal class in the US, which is deeply racist in its core, latched on the myth of Israel as the antidote to unruly arabs. This is worth explaining because today what you have is the most ruthless and fascistic government in the world, quite possibly. The US identifies with it, but its an apartheid state. The agenda is imperialist….and clearly the goal is to be rid of Palestinians. This was not always so, not directly, even if some of the original Zionist founders wanted that and said so expressly. But it was balanced for a long time by the progressive neo socialist elements of the labor party. Now its likud, and war criminals like Sharon and Bibi and Liberman. Look at sabra and shatilla….look at all the recent assaults on gaza. Look at quite simply the settlers and their treatment of palestinians. So…….please stop with these apologetics.

  11. Roberto Gustavo says:

    John, it is clear that you and your followers read the same propaganda. The terms you talk in are riduculous. You believe that if one is at war, it must be fought at the appropriate level of the lesser opponent. War doesn’t work that way. It also doesn’t work the way Israel seems to carry it our–that of trying to avoid civilian casualties. Look at the Syrians in their civil war, look for that matter at Americans in their civil war. War is hell, but it is clear that Palestinians and Arabs (for the most part) want to wage war, but don’t want to accept the outcomes. Your raising Sabra, is silly and out of context. Your championing the Israelis of the 70’s is silly–all the world loved Israelis when they were the underdog. There evidently was not notion of what each side was fighting for, as when the balance changed, the hysterical liberals changed sides. The idea that Israel is an occupier is also silly. The Jews of the middle east were driven out of their homes in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Jordan. No thoughts of holding these Jews in “refugee ” camps until they can be sent back to their homes in these Arab contries. They have been absorbed into Israel and into the society. No such absorbtion has taken place amoung the so-called Palestinians. They have been left to fester in their camps until “they can be repatriated. No where in the world has this happened–the refugee problem is unique to Palestinians and it is not Israel that is the author of that program. If you go back to the years before their was an Israel, the land was to be divided between a Jewish State and an Arab state–no mention of Palestine. The Arab state was Jordan. The Jewish state, Israel. Only because the Arab countries refused to accept the decision of the mandate and the United Nations, did the “new state” of Jordan become something other than the Arab state for “Palestinians.” You can throw all the propaganda around you want, it doesn’t square the the reality of the history or facts on the ground.
    I am also interested in the fact that you aren’t championing the Syrian people, the Iraqi people, the Afgan people, all whose countrie’s leaders at one time or another killed many more of their own people that Israel has killed of so-called Palestinians. Why don’t the Guardian or other so called accurate resources plead for the fate of all those people killed. Why it is because you choose not to. You choose the martyrs you champion. Believe me, this is no apology. It is not any revisionist recitation of the history of the conflict. The “big lie” you tell is told over and over again and now you even believe it.
    The idea that Israel was balanced by the “neo socialist elements of the labor party is also un founded. People evolve with the continuous fact of war. Politics and people change when they have no one to talk with and make peace with. Your phantom “Palestinians” simply refuse to accept the notion of a Jewish State. Arafat and Abas wouldn’t make peace even when they were offered more that they asked for. Hamas is not even worth discussing. You seem to minimize the danger of thousands of rockets being fired at Israelis only because they may not be as powerful or up to date as what Israel has.

  12. Chris Bell says:

    I have little doubt that Obama’s choked up presser was genuine– and that makes it all the more appalling. (Same guy who made a statement mourning Trayvon Martin while he himself uses the George Zimmerman “they look like they’re up to no good” equation to number crunch dead young men in order to call them “militants”).

    The CT school kids are “ours”, killed in way that everyone agrees is terrible. The Afghan kids– & adults– (or Pakistani, Yemenis- the list goes on) killed & maimed by the US may as well be the “dots” Harry Lime points down to in the ferris wheel scene of The Third Man. They are, if not expendable, rationalized: we didn’t mean to hit them, did we? How else will we get the terrorists?

  13. Chris Bell says:

    It’s worth noting that origin of film noir was in no small part due to constraints of the production code & technology, & pictures shot on the cheap (not to mention quite a few playwrights & novelists being under contract to bang out scripts). Explicit sex & violence were no-go’s so the former required dialogue that was snappy, witty, & flirty; the latter was often done off screen or in shadows. I quite agree about the haunting power of these images & sounds; the viewer’s active imagination is required– and this is more frightening than having everything spelled & spilled out.

  14. John Steppling says:

    Gustavos. NO SABRA AND SHATILLA IS NOT OUT OF CONTEXT. NO, THE PROPAGANDA IS ALL ON YOUR SIDE. But hey, heres an idea, why not defend Sharon and sabra and shatilla…..go ahead. — Or defend the ugly settler racist and bigotry…..bullying and sadism. It is sad to hear anyone defend war crimes. But it is something i hear often from Israeli apologists of ethnic cleansing. Why not try to answer some of the specific questions put to you. Molly posted two pieces….address them. Answer my questions. This thread will quickly be highjacked by this bullshit and Im not going to do that. But then you do not even read carefully enough to attack my position. You simply spew the knee jerk and now threadbare lies…th, ignorant and appalling propaganda of today’s Israel. No, wasnt nostalgia …..just disgust at the current state of things. So here….clearly you need to be educated….I shall do my part. http://www.leninology.com/2009/01/operation-cast-lead-phase-iii.html




    this is of particular relevance………http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/29/israels-war-on-palestinian-children/

    i mean i could go on…………….so I dont want to prolong this, but i suppose i will. It just saddens me, really, that just moral dwarfism……………….




    see, its really not out of context.

    but hey, more……http://www.israeli-occupation.org/2012-10-24/jonathan-cook-israels-formula-for-a-starvation-diet/

    if you insist on prolonging this bullshit……….answer all the questions asked of you. Ad hom reflexive propaganda will not suffice. So…..allow me to post a few historical perspectives as corrective.


    and just the pettiness and cruetly of these vicious thugs…..sociopaths…….https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/12/02

    and maybe most revealing: http://www.leninology.com/2009/02/this-is-israel.html

  15. John Steppling says:

    @chrisbell. thats a great point regarding Noir budgets. Benjamin wrote about early photography……the technical limitations that required subjects sit still. The result was a sort of solidity, and demanded in return, something from the viewer. Look at August Sander’s earlier stuff. But with the technical developments of film that needed less light, etc…..all the way through to digital….one could argue that solidity and sense of place has vanished. I am simplifying greatly. But in the case of noir, this was certainly true of val lewton, and of Ulmer. and of a lot of RKO stuff. The slightly larger budget films though exhibited a precise sense of distance, classical framing, and amazingly complex lighting. You look at the care Welles took in Lady from Shanghai, or films like Out of the Past — or the Preminger noirs—still underappreciated….you see all this.

    I mean i could make a case…and maybe i will after pondering it a bit………that its more than just that. The sense of paranoia and distrust of state power, of authority, of the institutional power……it is expressed in subtle ways in these films. It pervades the atmosphere….and this is what the french critics grasped right away. It is in gesture , too. The violence, when its there, is choreographed……..the gun shot….the stylization is in the service of something different than the camera’s carressing of weaponery you see today……the gun shot violates a silence, a space, it disrupts. Today I feel the violence IS the raison d’etre for the narrative itself. Something like Killing Them Softly is a love affair with the IDEA of cool guns, part of the accountrements of under class lives, which are de facto violent, and so the love affair is with the style code, and its disrupting nothing. I want to think more on this…….

  16. That was sheer poetry John and i was really moved reading it.

    Obama’s tears…couldn’t he have squeezed one out for the kids killed in the drone attacks he ordered. They;re not going to grow up to have lives either!
    Can’t anyone empathize with a common humanity, universally linked. I guess its a prime tenet for Empire to keep its parts fragmented and feeding on and off each other and the feeding just increases in intensity, into a frenzy as the Empire disintegrates. That’s how i feel where we are at right now…somewhere in the tailspin, the ground spinning fast and out of focus unable to be made out clearly or comprehended until, perhaps, impact!

    What saddened me most from the points you so eloquently riffed on in this beautiful and desolate piece..what saddened me most and angered me is the failure of artists since maybe before Warhol or Fuller to respond to the horrors of Empire. What William.S.Burroughs stated as his mission statement, ‘To Punch a Hole in the Big Lie!’…this should be the main purpose of all of us artists..Sure. one can understand how filmmakers can come off the rails due to the compromise that has to be made to satisfy the bean counters in order to get their project made. But this does not explain the collective failure of most of the other poets, writers painters, etc.

    Maybe the only real path of the artist who cannot get his or her voice heard properly is to actually abstain from creating…thus no compromise can happen. A wilful act of refusal! The purity of one’s vision can thus remain intact. The unproduced play gathering dust on the shelf. This is also, I guess, an admission of failure. The alternative is to keep fighting, keep believing in oneself and damn the torpedoes watching waiting for the Empire to crash.

    You mentioned community in this article. A community that maybe once existed for a brief time, Perhaps as Burroughs mused, for a brief time just before the first world war when people might have cared about the welfare of their fellows and done something to help an isolated withdrawn boy holed up in his room and maybe knocked on his door and tried to help him out,

  17. john steppling says:

    oh, and gus…..i HAVE defended the iraqi resistance, and appeared on TV and radio to do so. I have attended human rights conferences, protested the Hague — and have twenty years worth of publications where my positionis always anti imperialist, anti capitalist….and have worked for people’s movements all over the world in fact. Iraq, Afghani, in Chiapas, for kurds and haitians and guatamalans and nicaraguans…..You can look them up…most of the writing is still around if you google it. One of the things of which it is very clear you are oblivious is state dept. propaganda. The very premise of your questions, your logic, betrays your ignorance and lack of factual historical understanding. So thats me…………..and you`? besides being an apologist for war criminals.

  18. john steppling says:

    yeah, i think there is a lot in what you say. I must sort of think how to answer that. But , i mean, art has to somehow find a way to bee “heard” or “seen”. Literally and metaphorically.

  19. john steppling says:

    and again, first rule of the politcally mature …..do not believe the US state dept (or the UK or Israeli)……………apropos syria…….http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/syria-the-descent-into-holy-war-8420309.html

  20. Roberto Gustavo says:

    “So here….clearly you need to be educated….I shall do my part. http://www.leninology.com/2009/01/operation-cast-lead-phase-iii.html
    So John, you see your argument works both ways. I followed your first string and what it turns out to be is the “so called palestinian propaganda trick.” Mix in a lot of “Jewish/Israeli” sources so as to appear “even handed” and then–some of my best friends are…. Look at your own sources and you see you have cherry picked them. No one could argue with you as you aren’t interested in ideas or facts, you are interested in a different world order. That argument gets fought everyday and frankly the exemplars of your “way” are not very successful. Not successful especially for those who believe in individual responsibility and liberty.
    You see, I too asked questions. you haven’t even begun to answer them–you say you were for “Iraqi” resistance. That wasn’t my question. What is your position on the unbalanced killing of Iraqis, Syrians and Lebanese, by Husien, Asad and Hezbola? I think you were at the Hague to accuse not to support. It is easy to accuse, but to indict takes more than heresay and “rendered history.” Why didn’t you go to the Hague for crimes by them. What about the killings of palestinians who PLO and Hamas killed for “supporting the Zionist enemy? When I look at your references I see people writing with out sources–you have thus created primary sources. I was suprised that you didn’t have the numerous film clips of Israeli crimes–ones that appeared in the NYT, USA Today, CSN or MSNBC. Authenticity of these has been proven lacking.

    Yes, John, you choose your sources, you write your “articles” and people swoon at your language and juxtaposistion of pics and ideas. “Yeah man!” I can see that when someone disagrees with you, especially at your home, you start the old name calling and listing the links. Links don’t mean anything with out critical thought and weighing of the argument. There is not critical thought where you sent me, there is only the “mob contagion.” I see in the final analysis, you believe there is no place on this earth for a jew/israeli to be self sufficient and strong. So be it–your analysis.

  21. Gustavo you are not actually advancing anything, just maing absurd dogmatic assertions like although Israeli military kills and tortures lots of children, it doesn’t enjoy it. Well so what. Now you’ve descended to giving rotten tomatoes type commentary on blogposts. It’s just non argument. You don’t believe a word you say of course. You’re one of these internet warrior trolls for Israel who go around distracting and wearyiong people with the spectacle of “debate” which is actually you’re just coming here to stand with your fingers in your ears humming I can’t hear you! I don’t see it!

    It’s ridiculous. This imagined jury you imply that you’re playing to isn’t even watching.

  22. sorry for the typos I’m not typing on the phone this time but listening to that Glenn Greenwald/Chomsky lecture on rule of law you posted, John.

  23. Is that photo at the top Saint Germain L’Auxerrois by the Louvre?

  24. Here I am, Anonymous…also known as Esther. Pretty tedious stuff up above… I am not sure what you all would have Israelis do. They make up .11% of the world’s population and all Jews make up .29% of the world’s population. Jewish population grows by .65% per year. There are roughly 2.1 million Jews in the world.

    There are about 372 and a half million Arabs in the world. According to United Nations population statistics, population growth was among highest in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Arab population growth averages 2.3% per year. Of the almost 8 million people who live In Israel, a little more than one and a half million are Arabs of various sorts. Many have jobs. Even some Arabs who don’t live in Israel have in the past been able to work there. At the end of the day, then, they can bomb a bus or two on the way home. They vote. There have been Arabs in the Knesset since the first sitting of that group. Arab citizens of Israel can even participate in the Army, but they don’t have to.

    About sources. I don’t think of Counterppunch as a reliable source. Too much baggage and too much energy spent looking for just that right muckraking bit of dirt they love so much. There are reliable sources that can be looked at if you are trying to figure out who did what to or for whom. For instance, http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message2027550/pg1 will tell you that the rather sophisticated weapons the Palestinians used most recently came from Russia through Iran, probably in an effort to further destabilize the area. You probably won’t like GodlikeProductions any more than I like Counterpunch.

    Some of the sources you look at will favor Israelis and some will condemn them. Some will say killing all Jews is on most Arab nations’ tables. Some will say Israel is devious. Figuring stuff out is more than just finding the story you want to hear.

    The main reason I did not put my name on my first post is obvious to me as I look at how you and those who are like minded treat contributers who disagree. You don’t seem to be very nice people and I am not sure why anyone should think you have something to teach about art and beauty.

    Again, I don’t know what you think the Israelis should do with their tiny sliver of land. I think some of them may regret having left the Gaza in the hands of the Palestinians, who promptly destroyed state-of-the-art greenhouses and much of the infrastructure.I think many of them feel as though they and their parents made an oasis out of that tiny sliver by working hard, with their hands.

    Anyway, perhaps you would like the Jews just to be gone, as Hitler did. I don’t think Israel is up for that.

  25. So we are supposed to have a mature debate by first eliminating the US, the UK and Israel? Interesting rules at your debate that Molly says nobody is watching.

  26. john steppling says:

    Gus………I footnoted what i said with links. Links by writers such as noam chomsky, Irene gendzier, jonathan cook, richard seymour, gideon levy……all of them in fact are heavily documented and footnoted. So we add simple liar to the list of your various stupidities. I told you about myself, and asked about you. Come on Gustavo…where is your record of work? What and who are you?

    So of course i choose my sources….you twit…thats what everyone does. You havent even provided any. Where are your sources??????????????? I was at the Hague to protest an illegal tribunal, during the post milosevic wrap up. In fact i was defending a very reactionary poltiician because i felt the court was unfair regardless of who was in the dock. God, there is so much you dont understand that its difficult to know how to answer you. You dont make any sense. I provided you with reliable information. With well researched writers, men like Levy and Chomsky. You want more? Thats easy to do. There are few rational people in the world today who do not recognize the crimes of Israel. This is why at the UN the vote against Israeli violations of human rights, its war crimes and land theft is usually about 200 -3.- . The US has veoted something like two hundred resolutions against Israel. Why is that? Why is the world vote so overwhelmingly against israel? Explain that.

    Ive no idea what the fuck you mean by palestinain propaganda trick. If you mean documented cases of israeli war crimes…..id call that fact and not trick. But please Gustavo…….step up and answer my questions. The issue is actually Israel. Not me and not you. Not my record on Iraq. The issue is Israel. Thats what was mentioned……….thats what you object to. The question of Asad and syria….well, I posted a link above. Do you bother to read anything? im not having this thread taken over by a troll. So last chance. Provide concrete material answers……not personal insults. (For the record i dont give a fuck about you. I dont know you.). So this is about the argument. Israeli war crimes. And i gave you fifteen links I think. I have explained why………..and these are all award winning honored journalists, academics and scholars. MEn and women who have a record of veracity and honesty. Not a single one has ever been called a propagandist or liar. YOU are the liar and you are becoming tedious. Do you have any thing of import to say here`? Are you really suggesting Israel is not an apartheid state? Not racist? Not fascist and brutal and bigoted? Are you? This is about the treatment of palestinians. And yes, Hamas and palestine and any resistance movement have a right to fight back. Any occupied country has a right to fight the occupier.

    Here……address this :
    “The following is a list of United Nations resolutions that concern Israel and bordering states such as Lebanon. The Human Rights Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than it has all other states combined.[1]
    From 1967 to 1989 the UN Security Council adopted 131 resolutions directly addressing the Arab–Israeli conflict. In early Security Council practice, resolutions did not directly invoke Chapter VII. They made an explicit determination of a threat, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, and ordered an action in accordance with Article 39 or 40. Resolution 54 determined that a threat to peace existed within the meaning of Article 39 of the Charter, reiterated the need for a truce, and ordered a cease-fire pursuant to Article 40 of the Charter. Although the phrase “Acting under Chapter VII” was never mentioned as the basis for the action taken, the chapter’s authority was being used.[2]
    The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a number of resolutions saying that the strategic relationship with the United States encourages Israel to pursue aggressive and expansionist policies and practices.[3] The 9th Emergency Session of the General Assembly was convened at the request of the Security Council when the United States blocked efforts to adopt sanctions against Israel.[4] The United States responded to the frequent criticism from UN organs by adopting the Negroponte doctrine.”


    but wait….there’s more….http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-u-s-and-israel-have-made-a-joke-of-the-united-nations-security-council/5315889

    ok….now you say that this is not critical thought. Ok, well, do us all a favor and move on to those places you deem worthy of you elevated discrimination and taste. You accuse me of name calling? No gus…..i accuse you of personalizing and failing to mount a coherent argument. Yes I find you odious and a moral pygmy. Ok….but I have taken the time to answer this bullshit. I have answered you at length with a good deal of vertified fact. FACT.

    If you want a detailed analysis of syria and Libya and …well, all of the middle east…..we can do that. But thats not what this is about. I have answered you. You have NOT answered any of the arguments in any of the links. Try just one…..pick one and explain your objection. Can you do that? huh??? Here is more fact….gus, more F A C T……..


    Its illegal. Its ethnic cleansing. Netanyahu is the worst of many war criminals in the world. I think i rate him #1.

    but wait….there’s more………Lets discuss Mordachi Vanunu……….shall we?


    These names ring any bells Gus? But there is more….


    and here is war criminal Sharon’s idiot son…..I mean this is being said openly….its not like its being hidden….

    Or avigdor lieberman……Robert Fisk on Lieberman….http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-why-avigdor-lieberman-is-the-worst-thing-that-could-happen-to-the-middle-east-1647370.html

    You see Gustavo…..facts are uncomfortable. I understand that. And if you want to defend Israel, its pretty difficult. I mentioned the sixties and seventies because there was a progressive element in the country. Mostly thats all gone. David Grossman wrote about this……and he is pro Israel by and large. He sees the tragedy in what has happened to Israel…..but he doesnt hide from it like you do. He is an honest writer, a man with first hand experience. And for him, it is tragic. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/09/27/100927fa_fact_packer

    What might have been is something that could be debated for years. But….what “is”….what is, is a fascist apartheid and racist right wing nation determined to drive all arabs off the land they have stolen.

  27. It was only a matter of time before “Esther” would show up and drag us all to cgi raciological phantasy. These messages are really from neonazis who rely on the fact that readers of blogs aren’t educated enough to recognize: “They can bomb a tram on the way home in any German city…”

  28. John Steppling says:

    Esther…thank you for giving me a name to answer.

    Your saying what? Im not sure I follow. What is Israel to do? What do you mean? Do about what? Because…..if I interpret you correctly you are saying the treatment of palestinians is justified…..yes? Is that right?

    Esther that link you provided is from a UFO site.


    well, if you find my writing not worthy of your high standards, please, there are plenty of others. Ive tried to answer gustavo….who really is just a troll and sadly taken over this thread. I wont allow much more of this.

    but esther….how do you see Israel? I mean the world sees them as a criminal state. Thats why the UN vote is so overwhelmingly against them. Why does that happen?

  29. Estheramalkeleh, darling. Forget it. We know the routine Fraulein. You’re going to tell us “the Jews” have “a little piece of land.” Like a little ghetto, a little shtetl on the Mediterranean. We’re all crowded onto this little piece of land. There are not many of us, to be sure, but still…the problem is, we Jews don’t own enough real estate. Does she actually want to prompt people to start investigating how much real estate in the world is owned by “the Jews” and what it’s worth? I suspect yes.

  30. John Steppling says:

    Molly…the photo at the top is by Atget.

    There is a nice site with a lot of his work (which Im sure you know)…http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Eugene-Atget.html

    I do want to write more on photography next time….or theatre again. But also to use some of the Flusser material to do so.

  31. Her thing is “the Jews” (like an aristocratic family) are too few to outbreed the rest of humanity. So we have to kill kill kill kill and vitiate and blur the other volks (all melted into ‘ayrabs’ and then into “gentiles”) so we can retain our distinctiveness and form. This is right out of the Protocols. Don’t Fall For “Esther”. Ignore her she is a neonazi coming here to play a vaudeville joo.

  32. Vocalis Spiritum says:

    Oh, for crying out loud. John, Aristotle said in Rhetoric that, “not even the possession of the exactest knowledge will make it easy for what we say to produce conviction.” Gustavo’s argument, such as it is, is entirely rhetorical, relying on the usual appeals to authority and emotion. This is absurd as a strategy, especially when the authority is factual reality. Since facts require sources, any of these sources can be attacked, which in the eye of the rhetorical audience is the same thing as refutation. Basically, Gus is saying that, “I have rebutted you because I said your sources were wrong” and round and round we go again.

  33. John Steppling says:

    A couple random thoughts….related to Clive’s comments and Vocalis’.

    The refraining, witholding if you will, that you mention clive, is somehow crucially linked to what artworks and artists have to do…..somehow to remain silent unless there is a genuine impulse. One that is not rooted in sales. John Berger thought that art of a propagandistic nature was conventionalizing the art. That the “shock” value was really a distraction from a deeper sort of shock, which was the deeper challange to the prevailing values of the system.

    So….we have arrived at a place where art, where creativity, is in total conflict with marketing and profit. It has used up all the space available to hedge its bets in a sense. I think historically we are smack up against the wall……and silence is one strategy. And just black……empty. Beckett, some of the minimalists….rothko even….I mean there was an intuition in late modernism that this precipice was there, approaching.

    now I want to write more on this. And on private property, and profit and image. But Vocalis mentioned children……..and this is the week I guess everyone is thinking about them. Alice Miller wrote about this………and I mean its obvious. This was the progressive edge of Jungian thought……..filtered through bly and the rest. But it was true, it was a corrective. It was missing a good deal…….but on one level, that sense of damaged children growing into these Asperger’s syndrome adults….and clearly its the age of autism. Couple that to a full spectrum addiction to the toys of the autistic. I mean the screen and its relationship to asperger’s is a serious topic. In the face of this, a re thinking of the sacred, of awakening, is crucial and it will somehow come out of community. There is a balance between withdrawl….monastic practice….and the building of community

  34. Vocalis Spiritum says:

    Yes, the quiet contemplation necessary for creativity has vanished, largely. People are so damn binary in their thinking nowadays. If you aren’t famous, you’re shit, and there is where the conflict you speak of is.
    The marginalized kids of society, the Auspie’s, are the direct result of secularized society that worships the state. It is simply not natural for a person to stop believing in one thing without replacing it with something else. Camile Paglia has made a great case that the absence of religion has killed art, and being a keen observer of life (as I don’t own or watch TV) I agree with her. At least when it was more prevalent, secularists had something to rage against. But now people are falling all over themselves this week to out-sympathize each other, demanding this and that, feigning outrage over what happened in CT. This is classic overcompensation. Most of these people are secularists who know in their hearts that murdering little children is wrong, yet lack the intellectual capacity or coherence of thought to tell you why. The posturing is merely their way of dealing with the guilt and fear of their own contradictions, fear of being wrong, which is apparently taboo now in our society: They tell you that there is no God, that we are all just a random collection of atoms, and then when something like this happens, they are so thin skinned they don’t want to be called out on their own logical contortions so they feign empathy to avoid conflict. If we are indeed just stardust, then what’s the problem with rearranging the particles a little? And the thing is, they know their positions are contradictory, that the parts don’t seem to fit and it makes them angry and defensive. When one turns off the idiot box and starts to look around, one sees a nation of very scared little people who have been lied to time and time again. No, women, you can’t have it all, and by the time you realize this, it will be too late; no, a college degree doesn’t grant you entry in the socially elite; no, your retirement isn’t safe in the stock market; no, hard work and persistence are not the sole requirements to gainful employment; no, life in the CIA and MI6 isn’t like Bond; yes, there are consequences for actions in the real world; yes, professors, your pet theories will not work in the real world, no matter how much you try to discredit the data. This is life in the West. A series of lies and denials in the cultural arena and extend and pretend in the economic one. The illusion is starting to fall apart and people can feel it, even of they don’t understand it. Iv’e said this before, but the human brain can only accept so much cognitive dissonance before it either accepts reality or shuts down completely. What happens after that is what we should be worried about.

  35. Vocalis Spiritum says:

    One more thing, while we’re on the topic of the entertainment cabal and images. The left glorifies these loners every day. The entire Twilight saga is a glorification of alienated, sullen (or “Cullen”- isn’t that the name of the head vampire?), potentially violent, moody, young men who are hopelessly romantic and will go to extremes for the love of their immortal lives. I think John has said this before, but the deification of youth seems to be an ongoing theme in the modern age.

  36. john steppling says:

    Its hard not to look at misogyny as it is expressed in this society. Sixteen shooters and all men, and all but one I think were what we would describe as “young men”. The formation of masculinity in this culture has been pathologized. Now…@Vocalis, yeah, i think the marketing of youth is certainly part of it. But its also the encouragement given for everyone, male and female, to stay immature. Its a vast complicated set of issues. The way in which jobs evaporated –union destruction, and that cant be emphasized enough really, the taking of all dignity from workers. For men, with the ways in which masculinity has been created and defined, this loss of agency, of self image, found scapegoats in feminism, civil rights, and the scapegoating is of course a marketing tool as well. This in addition to the ways in which history has been erased and community destroyed, left this hole in the culture. And great anger. But its also the erosion of white supremicism…..suddenly it feels as if the colonies getting all the breaks….someone actually argued that the other day……and its all perception, and almost nothing to do with reality. But thats what happens when people are cut off from their history.

    The sense of panic and terror in white men is evident….clearly so. I wrote of the desperation felt in how these narratives and products are recycled. Its the endgame for capital. In the midst of all this comes a second generation of emotionally dead youth. Now….obviously there are many exceptions. I think part of the desperation from the corporate creators of kitsch is that they know this, too. The center does not hold. So its only logical that the new autism, as I call it, is exploding into random violence. The images of violence are so pervasive, a saturation of guns and shooting and dead bodies. Its all just arbitrary, too. It has no connection to anything but itself. Its kitsch product….but it is thrown out there 24 hours a day. Endlessly. The sheer volume registers a sort of short circuiting. Now, how that works, exactly, is something worth examining.

  37. I’m going to switch this back to film noir for a moment. John, great to see Edgar G. Ulmer referenced here – Detour is still one of the first noirs I watched as a teenager and I’ve been hooked ever since. German expressionism and lighting has been covered here, but I want to add a few things. You need A LOT of light to create those kinds of shadows, which is beautiful in its irony – the more you toss on the high key light the more you expose the darkness in its subjects. There is no “filler.” Looking back at most noir you see the cracks of the American dream. Big cities like Hollywood and San Fran are exposed as moral slums for those chewed up by society. Small town America is the biggest hypocrite of all – rictus on the faces of those who hide behind its facade. Film noir exposes that – the sex, the desire, the violence lurking in the shadows. I’ve always found the homosexual undertones of these films to be so blatant. Another interesting convention is the narration, usually told as a cautionary tale reverse legends, the way fables are told to children. Beneath the words you can almost hear the antihero say “Don’t buy into this. It’s all a scam.”

  38. john steppling says:

    An add here on the Sandy Hook shootings….and guns……http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/12/17/behind-the-connecticut-massacre/

    Noir is the golden age for American film. I mean, no question. A film such as Criss Cross, 1949, Robert Siodmak……….this is an extraordinary film on so many levels. The byzantine plot structure, the sense captured of old bunker hill, the working class neighborhoods………..and there is one scene at the bar……where lancaster questions the bartender, played by the great percy helton. The whole exchange is worthy of Pinter.

    “any of the old gang around?”
    “depends what you mean by old”.-

    The whole film is steeped in such lurid sweaty desire, I cant think of a film today that can even approach the lust of those noirs.

    But you’re right that there is often a narrator….and the voice is usually one of resignation, fatalism, …the world is rigged kid. Wilder took it further in Sunset Blvd and had the corpse narrate. Those classic noirs…siodmak, Tourneur, Ulmer, Wilder, Preminger……Lang — they so clearly approached american authority, institutions, with a sense of distrust. But it was a given. Corruption is at the heart of everything. The writers…..david goodis, woolrich, thompson, chandler…..Cain…….they were proletarian newspaper men, or clerks, or whatever……..they werent any of them really elite ivy league anything. I think these highly educated Jewish directors….german, emigres, sensed the truth of this. And they created serious melodrama….operatic almost…..out of this pulp. They gave it majesty and yet never lost the sweat underneath. How many scenes can you think of where you know the man’s shirt is stuck to his skin under the suit coat………..the sweat of fear, of desire, of madness.

  39. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great posts, have a nice day!asdf456sd4f6s4ad6f5

  40. Lena Valencia says:

    John, I really loved this piece. Question for you: the idea of children learning compassion from being read to is very intriguing to me. Can you recommend some further reading on that topic? Or of compassion and art (or art-making) in general?

    Thanks so much.


  41. john steppling says:


    you know, I read this piece a while back…i may have even linked it in my entries here…..on research by this neuro surgeon on the effects of reading in young children. Not being read *to*, but reading. That new neural pathways in the brain were created didnt seem so surprising. But the thing here is, this is a second generation raised with a screen in the home. Everything comes via a screen. And obviously there is a big issue is various sorts of affectless young adults. The various points on the autism spectrum. But Asperger’s is interesting because there is an inability to read people’s faces. An inability to get a sense of the whole tone of a conversation, the intent of a dialogue. Now this fits almost too nicely into the problem of a generation raised watching TV, film and the internet. But worse, watching CGI stuff…..i saw some sci/fi channel thing the other day…all shot on green screen. It was bizarre because you felt the actors werent talking to other actors, but to empty space. It was all just so slightly out of synch. What might the effect of this be? I mean a society of very narcissistic parents is going to raise very alienated children, adroit at hiding their own needs, and maybe eventually children who cant identify their own needs or desire.

    But we’d need to really discuss where this narcississm comes from. But I am going to dig deeper into the idea of reading to children aloud. Its always interested me in terms of theatre; spoken speech…and I would guess, absolutely, that reading to children consistently provides a connection not just to the parent, but to the idea of language as speaking itself. (thats actually a benjamin notion…..and sort of rarified for this comment….but…….anyway……….)………and this connection to language seems really significant.

    one final note. I loved Grimms Fairy Tales as a child. LOVED them. I still love them. Somehwere along the line, educators, sociologists, and I guess therapists, decided you needed a *message*………that the mythic backdrop, the language, the atmosphere and darknes circulating throughout Grimms just wasnt healthy, was too ambivilent. etc. So….now you have absolute banality. I loved Grimm because i recognized the darkness…i wasnt alone….the world contained others……….and it was hugely comforting. Thats a reductive explanation………but basically right. So instead…..you get this………………http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2012/01/top-10-books-that-teach-kids-compassion-ages-2-14/

  42. Vocalis Spiritum says:

    I wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, and likewise to all the commentators here. It is always a pleasure to read the posts and comments.

  43. John—I keep going back to (being drawn back to) this photo (Atget) and sitting with it. And it continues to be profoundly attractive and curious. I keep looking at the textures and colors of light and all the detail, captured in amazing depth of field, but the thing that seems endless about it is the sense of something going on… narrative, I suppose. The possibility and mystery down that black alleyway and, then, like so many of his prints, the stillness. Barren and quiet but somehow full of meaning. Is this deconstructive? Can you talk about the definition of deconstruction (or deconstructionism) in art and theater? Is it the same for the still frame and the stage?

  44. Or did I confuse reductive with deconstructive? What’s the difference?

  45. john steppling says:


    i am preparing a post now that touches on that. But i agree about that photo. Its a particular kind of darkness, too.

  46. very nice article, i just looking like this one. i found first photo is good.
    second one is very dramatic .

  47. Sometimes people doesnt see what they must see. nice article. very nice blog .

Speak Your Mind


To Verify You\'re Human, Please Solve The Problem: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.