October 2020

day 167 – 187 incompetence & transformation

The full headline ran … Incompetent Ardern …

someone pointed out, R. I think, that we don’t get journalism of the above quality because Murdoch does not own our media.

not only are they reptilian satanist pedophiles, they’re shapeshifters! 3’30” here

It’s not that David Icke does not support his claims or that there’s bucketloads of evidence to the contrary (just like there are against those stupid beliefs that economists cling to Mark Blyth talks about), it’s rather that his claiming personally to know in manifesting the original seduction of the patently untrue repeats it, producing effects on the real world (just like those stupid beliefs economists cling to).

(Do people prefer stupid beliefs? Is belief a category which it remains heretical to question? So that a personal belief is an intimate part of the individual, somewhere between personality and sexuality, which may in fact be quite impersonal. (Although, Lingis points out with sex we are at our most vulnerable; so to be questioned sexually–even when it is just a matter of words–invokes that vulnerability we physically experience, we physically experience each time.

((And this would also link sex and defecation, not with a primal shame and not in organic unity, engaging the same parts, but with an original compromise–a squatting dog knows it is in a compromising position, like a human caught short.))

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUlStJ__UuU

on the question of political courage:

The political will to economic courage … this is the subjectline under which I sent Mark Blyth’s three lifts for a post-COVID world to the office of the then PM before the present PM—who are the same person—before the election and before the election her office answered I could be sure that Jacinda would see it; whereas when I sent it to the Mayor of Auckland—as well, come to think of it, as Grant Robertson—silence.

Today, the last day of October, the Rt. Hon. Ardern announced her cooperation agreement with the Green Party, which also made history. The Labour Party having done so for doing what is not supposed to happen—pulling the sword of absolute majority from the stone of MMP, as one cartoonist depicted it—the Greens did it mostly through the personality politic worked brilliantly by Chlöe Swarbrick.

A journalist put it in Q&A to PM Ardern that, with the absence of NZ First holding the balance of power, this might lead us to expect a more transformational government, mightn’t it?

Might it not? might it?

What would a transformational government look like?

I have become interested in the process of applying for a position in a local theatre, run under a charitable trust: a ten year plan / vision statement is a requisite of the application—meanwhile the theatre’s website is all bragadaccio about, well, transformation & disruption. There’s even a bit about between bangin’ art and bangin’ profit choosing art every time. The position currently pays between $90 and $100K. The French have a word for this: bobo. Bourgeois Bohemian. Les bobos sont au pouvoir.

The question I have, looking at the faces of the bobos, is can transformation really be that easy? to sit on a salary of see above and preach bangin’ transformational shizzwazzle?

… of course the same cannot be said of the Ardern government, despite Chlöe Swarbrick saying politics should not be fucking boring, should not be a chore.

So the statement made by Labour of cooperation with the Greens makes no demands for transformation of either, of either … politics or business. After all, did the Greens ever stand on the transformation which would be required to avert climate change being passed into law?

— You will be able to ask questions as well so that you understand what is going to be involved, and to help you participate fully in the decisions.

— You will be able to ask questions, not to be enabled to participate fully in the decisions, but so that you understand what is going to be involved.

— You will not be able to participate fully in the decisions, but you are going to be involved, so ask questions so that you understand.

— You are going to be fully involved in the decisions so ask questions as well on the understanding that this will be your only participation in making them.

— As well as being involved in the decisions which are made, your questions enable it to be understood that you have fully participated in submitting yourself to them.

— Your questions participate fully in the decisions involving you as well as help you to understand that you have voluntarily submitted yourself to them.

— As well as understanding your involvement to have resulted from your decision to participate by being able to ask questions, your questions help you to adjust as well.

–You will be able to ask questions as well so that you understand what is going to be involved, and to help you participate fully in the decisions.

“This is the first in an experimental Media Tropes prison,” said the governor, “designed in order to make inmates feel that they are not being brutalised by a barbaric and outdated system of incarceration, but involved in something more along the lines of a reality TV show.”

“I’ve heard of this,” I said, looking around curiously.

“The layout on the wings is just one of the many TV Prison Tropes that are promoted here at HMP Leominster,” said the governor. “You’ll find the prison is pretty much as you’d expect: the guards are generally mean and unpleasant–except one who is meek and easy to manipulate. The prisoners, instead of being those with a shaky grasp on the notion of consequences, mental health issues or having the misfortune to belong to a marginalised minority, are mostly pastiches of socio-economic groups mixed with regional stereotypes. And rather than fume about the vagaries of providence that got them here before descending in a downward spiral of depression and drug addiction, they prefer to philosophise about life in an amusing and intelligent manner.”

“Does it work?”

“Recidivism has dropped eighty-six per cent,” he said, “so yes, it seems so. It’s certainly a lot easier on the prisoners unless you get caught up in Gritty Realism Month when it all gets dark and dangerous and we have riots and people end up getting shivved. That’s just been, so you’re fairly safe for another ten months.”

“That’s a relief.”

“Don’t count your chickens. Understated violence that counterpoints a wider issue in society can break out at any time, and we have the biennial Prison Break Weekend in eight weeks, so if you want to be part of that, you have to prove yourself with the right crowd.”

— Jasper Fforde, The Constant Rabbit (2020), pp. 271-272.

… “if you think about it,” says one of the characters in Fforde’s The Constant Rabbit, a talking rabbit, “talking rabbits spontaneously anthropomorphised have a chance-factor of around 1 x 1089, which, while not totally impossible, is about as likely as the universe spontaneously turning into cottage cheese. The fact that we’re here suggests that tremendously unlikely things can happen–which would make Gaia reappearing to tweak a few things for the better not so very daft at all.”

“You’re formulating a mathematical proof for the existence of the primordial earth mother based on talking-rabbit probability?” I said. “Wouldn’t that make everything possible?”

“Within the multiverse,” said Kent [the talking rabbit talking], “everything is possible.”

— Ibid., 252.

“You’re trying to run a twenty-first-century world on Palaeolithic thoughts and sentiments.” [another rabbit said.]

“I think it’s in our nature.”

“I disagree,” [said the rabbit]. “Humans have a very clear idea about how to behave, and on many occasions actually do. But it’s sometimes disheartening that correct action is drowned out by endless chitter-chatter, designed not to find a way forward but to justify petty jealousies and illogically prejudices [Mark Blyth’s ‘stupid beliefs’]. If you’re going to talk, try to make it relevant, useful and progressive rather than simply distracting and time-wasting nonsense, intended to justify the untenable and postpone the real dialogue that needs to happen.”

Sometimes it takes a non-human to say what it is to be a good human.

— Ibid., 300-301 {I have included these last two excerpts because they relate to themes I explore in my other writing not because they are indicative of the style or humour of Fforde’s book, which is one of his good ones, one, as can be seen from the prison excerpt above, that as well as making me laugh, I also found moving. And not for its sentimental stereotypes: here they are turned to satirical effect … although sometimes leak around the edges.}

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day 150 – 166: the president is … & other fun facts, like…

 “The American people are all Blanket now.”

— Marina Hyde, the genuine article here.

— found here and shown as it appeared, unedited or altered in any way.

Reality can only be apprehended through a comical, dazzling network of texts–writes Adam Thirlwell introducing his interview with Enrique Vila-Matas by stating what he calls the ‘proposition,’ the ‘basic proposition,’ of the author’s A Brief History of Portable Literature (1985), a proposition that transformed Vila-Matas, in his sixth book, into a true original as well as representing “a new moment in European fiction,” since from now on reality can only be apprehended through a comical, dazzling network of texts.

There is nothing wrong with this as a proposition for fiction, but doesn’t it declare war on reality? [see here–for a war more total and more radical than anything yet imagined]

As a basic proposition for fiction it even sets the standard, a standard that reality has trouble living up to–that it be dazzling.

Comical is a bit easier to live up to for reality. A better word for it in fiction, in the novel, might however be humour in the sense Kundera gives it in Testaments Betrayed.

This work by Kundera is called a novel but titled Testaments Betrayed: an essay in nine parts. It accuses European culture of betraying its own creation, the novel, in failing both to read Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and in failing to defend it.

Falling in other words into the moralising trap which is the opposite of humour.

So it’s entirely appropriate that Vila-Matas represents, in the humour of his novel, a transformation in European fiction, and a new moment, making him a true original.

When thinking of the comical what comes to mind, after world politics and after its representation in local NZ media by comedians–presenting, it should be added, news and current affairs in a comical way (to increase ratings)–so bringing about the comical representation of reality, but not the dazzling representation, of reality; after these what comes to mind are the paintings of Yue Minjun.

— Yue Minjun, The Execution, 1995

It is easy to imagine why Yue Minjun chooses not to smile in photographs. He says:

I was born at the tail-end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, so there were a lot of government-commissioned propaganda paintings around that illustrated the apparent joy of being working class. In most of the these paintings, the subjects were laughing, but it was never clear why. People would be standing around Chairman Mao or around the produce resulting from a clearly bumper harvest, laughing… [and laughing

[laughing their heads off…]

Featuring: the normalisation of absurdity in society … acknowledgement of absurdity brings ontological insecurity of the What the hell’s going on? kind… 32’57” we see the normalisation in digital delivery of the absurdity of glitch: this is called the normalisation of a Mixed Delivery model in higher education. …

You will also notice something strange happening in the above webinar which is an absurdity in itself–the neutering of hypernormalisation as the critical concept it was never intended to be, since it is a technique, a politico-aesthetic technique. This is its HYPER criticality.

And is better dealt with by Adam Curtis:

DADA names the tendency of absurdity to eat itself, starting from the toes, chewing its way up the legs, pausing for a big surrealist gulp at the pelvis, seat of the famous sexual organs, and savouring the crunch and fizz thereof, before moving on to a ping, pinging of flying bits of ribcage, ricocheting off the roof of the mouth, until with a pop, the skull, place of the last stand of the infamous ego, delivers its precious cargo … to be shat out the other end.

What is lost by the good doctors of Lincoln is the aesthetic one-way transaction… in favour of a recuperation which is the DISCRIMINATOR between HUMOUR and COMEDY or POLITICAL as opposed to CRITICAL ABSURDITY

declaring the war of the comical on reality: is this the totaler Krieg that is also Kürzester Krieg? or would be in the sense that it is already won.

his eyes were so blue, it was like looking straight through to a blue sky through a skull.

— Jane Birkin on Graham Greene [from here]

The characters in This Storm [2019] are lurid, brash, vulgar. There is now an occupant of the White House who could fit that description. What’s your opinion of him?


I don’t talk about politics in any circumstances. The current day in America has nothing to do with my books.

— James Ellroy in interview with Andrew Anthony [here]

… one of the things that the pandemic has done is it has shown to millions of workers who have been treated as most disposable, whose work had been most degraded, who were told that they were unskilled, that they were so easily replaceable, that they are, in fact, the most essential workers in our economy. They were labelled essential workers.

And if you look at who the essential workers are, it’s the working class, it’s the people who keep the lights on it. It’s the people who deliver the mail. It’s the people who take care of the elderly. We know who we’re talking about. We’re talking about the people who make the world run.

— Naomi Klein, Jacobin Magazine, here.

While philosophy seems to be reserved for a minority, anyone can have a glimpse of it by falling into sickness or depression. When our vital energies are weakened, Smith claims, our sympathy also diminishes, allowing ‘splenetic philosophy’ to reveal that most of the projects central to our lives have no other basis than the imaginary pleasures of sympathy. Seen in an ‘abstract and philosophical light’, gossip about the rich and powerful or striving for economic advancement no longer seem meaningful. Most people, however, forget this lesson as soon as they recover, and resume chasing illusory pleasures.

Choosing to see the world as we do when we’re ill might seem absurd. Smith’s account of sympathy and philosophy in Moral Sentiments, however, implies that we often mistake ourselves for others, the dead for the living, and illness for health. Indeed, it might be that our everyday experience of the world is sick, and the philosophical life is the cure.

— Blake Smith, Psyche online magazine, here.

A more total and more radical war than any you can imagine.

… still, something about hypernormalisation rankles with me. Is it too ideological?

Hypernormalisation as a component in the strategy of a war more total and more radical than any you have so far pictured to yourself: Note–

NOT Total War, MORE total and radical war, is it the war taken into the living and bed rooms of civilians? We have reached a more total and radical phase of this kind of war, and we have surpassed it.

The earlier phase was already that in which ideology was surpassed. Goebbels is explicit in 1943: this is not von Clausewitz’s Total War–the one of ideology.

Ideological war is only a war of ideas. Ideas have not survived the End of History, 1989, the death of Communism, the self-surpassing moment in which Capitalist Democracy loses its ideological component, and wars lose theirs.

All of those post-1945 wars (it’s W-pedia, but here‘s an interesting list of wars 1945-1989) are being fought without ideological pretext, because such a support is no longer necessary, the Total War has already been won, by Western Liberal interests: … but where was it really fought, if not in the two great wars of the early 20th century, the first of which was the war to end empires, the second of which was the war to end nations, nation-states?

Was it in the earlier nation and empire building wars of colonial expansion that the Total War of Ideas was won? … these wars were not ended by world wars I & II. Post-1945 they just lost their ideological pretext, which was the one of nation and empire building.

Ideas: Wars. What is the next step? Imagination? The war of imagination in which Surrealism aligned with Communism?

Is this the reason for the shrinking horizon of imagination? … As the generation of ’68 dies out… Go ask TINA.

I am shouting: transparency: THEY ARE NOT TRANSPARENT TO THEMSELVES!

this is a conversation which is going on outside the lines I am writing here but it has some sense of general cogency, an applicability to the problem of appropriative strategy: capitalist will is transcendent for incorporation of all strategies that would be in opposition.

it has some applicability to governments–at local as well as state as well as federal level–that bury in justification the hegemonic ideologies they embody.

… yes, I find I myself resorting to the ideological. For the exemplary case of a local council expressing its ideology in the way it spends the rates of its citizens, see Auckland in relation to Wellington at this link, called, wonderfully, experimental: here.

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