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 … [Read more...]

Comfort Zone

There seems to be a comfort level that western liberals cling to. This comfort zone keeps the relatively affluent liberals in a position to turn away from unpleasant facts as they exist throughout the world. Culturally, since that is mostly what I write about, this is reflected in an increasingly hallucinatory production of new revisionist historical projects, as well as just blatant jingoism, and an ever more frantic reinforcing of the status quo. The latter can be seen in the constant, but more hysterical, recycling of familiar motifs and narratives. What seems to have changed within this system is a new sense of almost desperation in the propping up of the childish and trivial -- the … [Read more...]

Day to Day

There are days when the sickness of capitalism is put into stark relief. The day to day soul sucking mental torture and emotional starvation of modern life in the West. In particular, however, in the United States. Today, for the working class in the U.S. daily life is simply endless frustration of one kind or another. The grind of low wage slavary, the fatigue that comes from longer hours and less pay, and less job security is linked to spikes in various illnesses, but also it is etched in the faces and bodies of the working poor. Layered over this is a general corporate de-humanizing of existence. It takes many forms. Try to buy an item on-line. Try to fill out forms on-line. Try to … [Read more...]

Among the Scavengers

I have suggested before that as the hegemonic world power, the U.S. influences the way in which narrative is interpreted. The values it expresses are those of the ruling state. With the U.S. that means the military is the always the engine for high moral purpose. Alongside this is the increasing scavanging of the lower classes. The corporate culture industry feeds off the lower classes. It does so in a variety of ways. There seems to be no end to the constant stream of "gritty" crime films, all of which seem to announce their own "edginess". There are cartoon versions such as The Expendables and their are the prestige versions such as the recent Killing Them Softly. One might reasonably … [Read more...]

Imago Mundi

Watching what appears to be the final act in the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, I was struck again by the need for an aesthetic resistance, the development of skills needed to deconstruct the Empire. There are narratives that instantly smell like State Department creations. They arrive fully made, and carry with them a sort of Conde Nast vibe -- meaning they have a carefully crafted shiny wholeness about them. There are no dark shadows, no ambivilence, no warts or moral ambiguity. The sense of actual history is missing, leaving a strange sense of vertigo in the viewer. These are characters in a pre-formed story-line, and the anitromic feeling almost leaves a hole in the image, the photo … [Read more...]

Role of a Lifetime

It's all the same, just a little bit different. Jean Luc Godard There seem a whole host of issues this week that are coalescing for me in terms related to my interest in aesthetic resistance...an effort to deconstruct aspects of the cutural production of Empire, for lack of a better description. The sense of social hypocricy was formed, as we understand it today, in the 18th century. The idea of acting one's role in daily life pervaded the culture of that time. The viewer or audience and his or her relationship to the performance, or artwork was solidified, in a sense, around the time of Diderot and Goya. Theatre came to focus a good deal on social hypocrisy, and one's private or … [Read more...]

Interview, Molly Klein talks to John Steppling /Theatre, part 1

http://john-steppling.com/interview-molly-klein-talks-to-john-steppling-theatre-part-1/ … [Read more...]

Interview , Molly Klein talks to John Steppling/ Theatre, part 1

Molly: You’re going to consider this a little hostile, and I mean it as a provocation yet sincerely: I would consider you a postmodern playwright, the reverence for the canon of modernism and its aesthetic that you voice in your criticism, and which does imbue your plays I think too, notwithstanding. But postmodernism is often now tarred as frivolous or, following Jameson, vacuous, ludic illusions of content. Obviously I think that’s wrong and a gimmicky theory gambit: wrong and in a way racist – because the great postmodern work that needs to be sidelined to make this judgement is largely work informed by the militant culture wars (magic realism in novels, for example, or what … [Read more...]