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.