Topos of Domination

I have been wondering a lot recently at the various afflictions connected to warfare: most of them falling under the heading of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This was once called *shell shocked* after the first world war. I guess PTSD sounds better, more clinical, more hygenic. And then I weas wondering at the (seeming) high numbers of people being diagnosed with some form of autism. Thirdly, I have been thinking about theatre. So, let me open with some thoughts on theatre. When I participated at the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, I was aware of how unique it was to be working outdoors. I think everyone who sees plays performed outdoors is aware of the sky above. … [Read more...]

Odds & Ends

I wanted to write a few things on art and surveillance, and add some other odds & ends to which I didn't want to devote an entire post. By way of getting into these things, I wanted to first comment on the current NSA surveillance story. A piece appeared in various papers, on various news blogs, essentially reporting that the majority of U.S. citizens find these surveillance practices perfectly alright. Now polls (as this story points out) are notoriously flawed, and usually can be manipulated to achieve whatever result is desired by those paying for the poll. Still, regardless of how … [Read more...]

Afraid of the Dark

"Conciliatory laughter is heard as the echo of an escape from power; the wrong kind overcomes fear by capitulating to the forces which are to be feared." Adorno I have used terms like radical pedagogy, or aesthetic resistance (and they aren't mine, I've just overheard them or read them, and find them worth using). Today, not just culturally, but especially culturally, the authoritarian and fascist sensibility is channeled into categories of sentimental applause, or binary divisions of like/not-like, and more subtly, it assists an already existing condition of thought on the left, or in all opposition, for cynicism and snideness. There is almost a spacial metaphor here: the … [Read more...]

The Night Sky

I have been finding a sort of crypto-reactionary critique surfacing in places that purport to be either leftist or "progressive" (and yeah, I don't know what that word means either) or at least liberal. And it seems a new class of apologetics has joined left leaning but corporate owned publications. The largest problem, or at least the one I want to respond to, has to do with aesthetic critiques. Take for example, this piece on Arrested Development by Peter Queck and Bhaskar Sunkara. This is fairly typical of this new crypto reactionary apologetics. … [Read more...]

The Unseen

"Humility is truth." Saint Theresa of Avila Over at the very interesting and worthy blog, BLDGBLOG, we have this recent posting... (and photos courtesy of Venue ...where their piece originally appeared.... I lived for a year or so up in Yucca Valley, next to Joshua Tree and several miles down wind from the 29 Palms Military Base and test range. They had several model cities there, at one time, and many locals had secured employment playing "Muslims" in simulated combat. The irony, if that's what it is, is that the … [Read more...]

Theatre of Mayhem

"It is necessary to recognize that acts of extreme violence and cruelty do not represent merely an odd or marginal and private retreat into barbarism. On the contrary, warlike values and the social mindset they legitimate have become the primary currency of a market-driven culture that takes as its model a Darwinian shark tank in which only the strongest survive. In a neoliberal order in which vengeance and revenge seem to be the most cherished values in a “social order organized around the brute necessity of survival,” violence becomes both a legitimate mediating force and one of the few remaining sources of pleasure.11 At work in the new hyper-social Darwinism is a view of the Other as the … [Read more...]

Techno Entitlement

automation/technology Gavin Mueller has an interesting article at Jacobin here: Kevin Drum wrote a piece at Mother What seems missing from most discussions of this subject (both automation and technology) is that the way both have evolved, in practical terms, as mostly management and control mechanisms for the poor. The elite class seems almost to pay for a life free of machines these days, or least technology is mediated with a human face. There is a technology of comfort that few can afford. Most of us must endure … [Read more...]

I’m OK, but You’re Sick

Several stories felt related this week, even if perhaps not directly. Lauryn Hill was sentenced to 3 months jail time AND court ordered to undergo counseling to help with her 'conspiracy theories'. Now I was amused to see Hill carry a copy of Marcuse's Eros and Civilization into court with her, but I also remember she was with that anti Aristide pro capitalist Wycliffe Jean, so, I take a Mulligan on the whole thing ....except to note that courts mandating counseling is strangely disconcerting. Not to mention that serving actual time for tax evasion seems restricted to black Americans. I don't recall any Wall Street crooks being sentenced for....oh ...wait.....right, they were never … [Read more...]