{THE PILL BOX } spacer
spacer
spacer
powered by blogger

{Thursday}

 
MONDAY 8.25 pm – 2nd Most beautiful sky this month. Peach colored, cine sky. Whisper of rain's tentative step. The Pill Box Garden goes all orangey RED. Air all still and on edge and clear and dappled at same time. Warm – and yet spookily too-clear at same time.

TUESDAY. 20.34 pm. And more! Even odder sky/sunset tonight – not actually beautiful; I know I over use these terms – but uncanny rather, and touches of Sublime in its real sense. Unsettling. Nature – but . . . unnatural somehow. There was rain on the way. Black clouds. Stillness. But something odd was going on with the light I don’t think I have ever seen before, all the white buildings around here – the tower block in the distance especially – all went . . .well, BLUE. Very odd. Then everything went blue. A strange clinical unnatural light blue light effect, a hospital corridor blue. Then this vast train of jagged triangular clouds moved centre stage. There seemed to be a lot happening at once … and yet nothing much. (Rather like this blog, then.) But the color was extra-ordinary – literally. Everything heightened. It was – as with last night – way more notable than that so-what full-on eclipse a few years back, when you could barely tell if it was even happening or not, like some anti-climactic drug experiment: ‘Has it started yet? Should we take more do you think?’ But tonight – was like a real life Spielberg FX bonanza. I expected the heavy clouds to part and the Mothership to hove into view, hover on down. . .

+ ----- -

Further research on Aztecs et al. Awesome achievments.
Those Mexican/Mayan city ruins: Chichen Itza.
Especially the 'Caracol' or Observatory so-called.

The OBSERVATORY. Can we re conceive [metaphysics] in this manner?
That an OBSERVATORY could be both religion & science, worship/devotion & study/mapping – that they might be one and the same? Star worship.
The sky as goddess. {Such liberation ...}

This always baffles me when I periodically make effort to read science books - which I have been doing lot last month or so. Mount Palomar et al. But the guys – altho brilliant - often take decades to reach same position[s] Aztecs Egyptians et al already inhabited. Tao of chaos. They resent this snottily and cover it with technical names. But like “friendly fire” you think about their syntax and… "the Big Bang"? that’s it? that’s your considered reply to all these marvellous creation myths?
A . . .big. . ."bang"?
Well, I think I’ll maybe take Voudoun over that. . . no prob.

DNA breakthrough talk on radio couple of weeks ago. Eveything explained. But that misses the point surely. What about awe … the wonder… – these little anoraky guys … {All human thought flattened to a dry husk behind a divided pen.} And OK - we need them … but we also need… elsewise and other wheres.

The Observatory . No coincidence – to observe . . . in both senses. Observance of ritual, tradition, the unexpected movements within tradition's purVIEW.

A temple. Round, not phallic and pointed; a pregnant place. An eye's surface. Inside looking up.

That one can be simultaneously ferocious and pious? Is that so hard to accept? Ferocious vigilance. Of our sky and our senators.

To be sometimes FERAL. Borderlines. Thresholds.

And I find it really does give gardening that extra frisson if you regard it (and I do) as an offering to Papa Legba & Erzulie, and/or a placation towards Baron Samedi and Brigitte-la-Croix. . .

Offerings placed at foot of tree:
Ian Hamilton Finlay’s golden head: APOLLON TERRORISTE
+ the arbres-reposoirs of Voudoun . . .

- ----- +

We have notice of knives, rebirth and singing.

{WSB, The Western Lands}

+ ----- -


THE WYRD GRID

The Wyrd = the Norse & Saxon concept of a giant web, inteconnecting every person and incident.

”Any action at any point will cause tremors and knock-on effects at all other points, meaning that all fates are inter-woven, and one decision can affect many other disparate issues.”
{Pagan Paths · Pete Jennings · [Rider Books 2002] }

When I had seen this word before – as in The Wyrd Sisters [cf the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth] I had always assumed for some reason it was wyrd pronounced weird. But I saw it today and saw instead: WIRED!


- ----- +

If you were to ask me right now what I would like to do, I would say:
I would like to make a film.

Seriously. Anyone out there in a position to finance this? It’s probably less of a risk than some Hollywood blockbuster. Something like Marker’s Sunless is still going, on each new format. These are LONG TERM deals.
Seriously: so many options (cross finance deal between Japanese TV German TV BBC4 and DVD sales?), so little competition.
The technology is such we should have a 1000 new film blooms. . .

[Instead, C4: The 100 Worst Movie Villains You Love To Hate For The Third Sunday Night Repeat In A Year. And, now being trailed: How Clean Is Your House? From May 21st, new infotainment ‘reality TV’ slot: two hyper efficient grannies tour dirty kitchens. . .I mean, how much lower can C4 sink? This is the Channel that used to bring us Pasolini seasons, Godard documentaries, brave ruff n ready US indies like Jon Jost, Paradjanov’s miraculous Colour of Pomegranates, Straub/Huillet's incomparable Anna Magdalena Bach, Fassbinder's epochal Berlin Alexanderplatz and Lacan’s Television. To-nite, 21st century C4: Demi Moore in Striptease. Thanks, guys. Thanks for putting so much thought and care and love and effort into your OH so ironic I'm sure programming. Could ANYONE there give me ANY good - or even bad - reason why Striptease should be aired ANYWHERE, never mind a second or third time on a Channel whose original remit was supposed to be as an intelligent risky alternative to the predictable mainstream? And the way in which C4 itself has BECOME mainstream, while shunting all any even marginally interesting film stuff off onto a subscription channel is the WORST kind of undercover post-Thatcher privatisation of desire. . . Half of my movie education was when young and penniless I would haphazardly unknowingly STUMBLE onto films on C4 or BBC2. . .no chance of that now. NONE. ]

And the audience is there.
ICA had to run the DERRIDA doc an extra MONTH they were so taken by surprise by its popularity! You’ve got an audience – in its teens, 20s & 30s that is so used to Electronica, wyrd cross-blend musicks, edgy magazine photography, and not so much post-Bowie as post-Bjork media-mingle, hypertext & avant garde art happening HERE & NOW*, that it is HUNGRY for new images and new ways of presenting them. [What’s C4’s or the Beeb’s idea of CUTTING EDGE these days? Some Wenders Bono mutual jerk-off? GET OUTTA HERE!]
{*: including the rise of so called ‘video art’ which, I dunno, it’s often exciting in theory but something about galleries just turns me right off you know? and there are people - they know who they are - presenting their video "art" as brave new imagery and it’s just 1950s Underground USA re-made re-glossed re-modeled. . .}

We need to be our OWN Angers, Derens, Brakhages then. . .

OK.
Off the top of my head, sitting in the Garden this morning. . . I would call this one:
How Soon is Now or How Soon We Forget

Meaning/readings of exile, refuge, hospitality, memory. . .+

START }

am. . .
sunrise
. . .my sacred Garden. . . under the spreading Legba tree.
Put down my copy of ULMER’s Teletheory, kiss my cat BUCKLEY three times on his sweet little Egyptian head [which, there just happens to be a discreet M shaped mark thereon, M for memory oh yes. . .] and we go thru the wavey boundary of memory's looking glas/glass. . .

And some of the spots in the itinerary would could might be:

· Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden at Stonypath/Little Sparta. Talk w/ IHF. (It’s a stone crime this man isn’t better known and honoured in the U.K.)

· MEMORY blip: me in early 60’s Aden. . .Baby fingers / hit the muezzin yells. . . about which I remember next to nothing. And Beirut 1968 about which I recall rather more but not enough. . . [maybe I could be hypnotised on air – might get the salacious C4 audience. . .]

· INTVWs w/ friends co-workers directors fans of Leslie Cheung who just committted suicide. + clips, esp. of Happy Together, inexhaustible journey which it is.

· Talk on orangey red sunset shoreline w/ my cine-twin out on the Pacific Rim who has just helped curate a cine season on Film & REMEMBRANCE.

· And maybe, most of all, refugees, here all around me. All around ALL OF US. What are their real stories? Not cliché narratives: but real singular stories of loss, triumph, living on, exile, nostalgia, no turning back. . .the actual EXPERIENCE of this: hours and hours and hours in a dead grey room, remembering. smoking, staring into dead space, lost time, just remembering, re-tracing. . . unable to imagine the Future.

· MEMORY blip: the real I Luv the 70s: we’d just gotten our first color TV and I sat entranced in front of . . .the 1972 Munich OLYMPICS. Who-ah! Talk about avant garde tv! Hours and hours of Nothing Happening. . . just concentrated shots of that door, that landing, Brakhage like. Talk about your turning points. . .

· Interview: William T Vollmann on his relationship to multi media memory, his ‘special’ limited edition hand-carved hand-printed self-illustarted books, his trips all around the world, that book on VIOLENCE [which must be about 10 Volumes long by now]. . .
+
Beautiful quotes from Derrida, Blanchot, Borges. . .
Sublime muse-ik from take-your-pick: Terre Thamelitz, Ultra-Red, M Ward, Coil, John Fahey. . .
[Oooh! M Ward version of Bob Dylan’s beautiful sad ‘I Pity The Poor Immigrant’?]
There is just SO MUCH waiting to be DONE/USED/EXPLORED. . . even if this ideal this idea this film or all my films remain only a dream, a wish, an EXAMPLE. . .

Just me and a camera.
Editing is a computer-based doddle these days – you don’t need to hire expensive suites.
Me and a camera. Marker of course is the touchstone here. SANS SOLEIL. How can it not be? And how can we NOT follow his lead his example his eye his step his inspiration?
{My two current idols: Marker and Ian Hamilton Finlay}

This kind of intimate cinema is easily as CHEAP as the likes of C4’s 100 Favourite Colostomies – but it has a richness that can’t be bought or ledgered. And a legacy that cant be calculated.
In the FUTURE. . .: fuck fame. Who cares?
In the future, everyone will make at least one 15 minute film. Smallscale, intimate, heartfelt, crazy singular diaristic, weblog cinema!

Anyway, all you need to know, o future patron o mine, is that if you want I have enough ideas for the next 33 yrs. More.

I mean – another massively overhyped overrated (and instantly forgettable) Coen Brothers film. Is that all we’ve got to look forward to? Or glorious. . . retrospectives?



posted by Ian 5/15/2003 11:12:00 AM

(0) comments

{Wednesday}

 
pillBOX ARCHIVE 5/iii
Document extract:
NOTES made
28-30th MARCH 2003


Friday 28th

---rereading all these notes for first time.
You realise that if you didn’t take notes it would be so much CHAFF…
… the goalposts changed three times a day and more…
‘Moment of truth’ my arse…

7.00 Channel 4 News:

2nd market
55 dead?
7 o clock evening

Basrah : Iraqis [allegedly] firing on own people…
BUT: “…has to be said the army has made a series of claims in last few days which turned out to lack substance.”

ALSO: government in fast backpedal retreat from ‘execution’ claims.

Only a week, BUT --- this feeling --- nothing is quite going according to plan. Neither hearts+minds. Nor collapse of Iraqi troops. Bad weather --- difficult to identify troops… uncooperative civilians - who still remember being encouraged to rebel back in last war – and then being ABANDONED completely and utterly by US…

If the US has seriously underestimated Iraqi troops… isn't this a consistent trait? America ALWAYS doing this militarily? (I.e., if they had to rely on tactics, on ‘military intelligence’ alone and not zillions dollars worth of impossibly advanced war tech – they would be screwed, like in Vietnam…*) And Britain too – in all things. We even seen it in sport/football – we consider things WON before they begin… just Because We’re Britain! And we bloody invented ALL THIS - which, in the case of fucked up arbitrarily map-drawn asian/middle east ‘states’… WE DID.

(*Wish I could find Guardian article I clipped out last year. Dispute in ranks of US military. They had staged a dummy run war-game. And - a bit like that dodgy Frasier-guy movie about submarines! – it was the might of the new hawks and their zillion dollar war-tech, against some canny old retired colonel and a few dopeheads in rubber dinghys… and THE LATTER WON! Easily & enormously!)

{
through the keyhole:
who lives in a bunker like this?!
}
John Dee biog: useless at playing the system. Court system. Patronage. Politics. Always dedicating his books to the wrong {obscure or dead!} people. . .
“Yep. I know that feeling.”
{
“The Establishment’s invisible powers. . .”
QUOTE frm – get this! - Mohammed al Fayed . . .
Sounding strangely like JOHN DEE, in fact. . .


Sat 29th

· First suicide bombing

· Another "friendly fire" death

… at which point you notice the phrase itself - ‘friendly fire’ - and how suddenly odd and inappropriate it seems.

Also… this uncanny feeling persists and intensifies: life as normal even tho this could be in both figurative and very real sense – the apocalypse, or the beginning thereof [?]
Because if Saddam DOES have weapons of mass destruction… and he is driven into a corner and looks like he might lose face… might he not use them?

It feels DARKER already.

“And they will be allowed to grieve in their own way.”
Allowed? ALLOWED?

11.55
At last an actual interesting NON press office snippet…: grumblings from Brit troops on ground about Americans. How it bodes for future.
Port: brits wanted it returned to Iraqis as goodwill grace note. Americans insisting on it being A COMMERCIAL AMERICAN OPERATION.

Serious divisions between us/uk… plans for running Iraq’s largest port at Umm Qsar. Brit army want it run by local Iraqis as model for the future reconstruction… but earlier this week the Bush administration handed the $4.8m contract to the private Stevedoring Services of America [SSA]… the Seattle based firm has clashed with workers across three continents and faced accusations of being union busters. [Surprise surprise!]
The Seattle based co has business interests at 150 sites around the world includng [get this!] VIETNAM, India, CHILE and Panama.
Its president, Jon Hemingway, has given political donations [donnes] to Republican candidates.
A contract has also gone to the U.S. engineering firm Kellogg Brown and Root – part of Halliburton, the company once headed by US vice president Dick Cheney [to put out oil well fires and repair oil facilities]

NIGHT

Hawkish right wing commentator on Rumsfeld claim that Syria is arming Iraq: “…that there seems to be evidence at least in his mind…”
IN HIS MIND? SEEMS?

Cowboys indians morality for an area as complex as the M.E.

“He [S.H.] has the potential like Hitler to enflame the world into a global conflict..” Oh oh – here we go… preparing the ground for – maybe – difficulties up ahead. Maybe even lack of weapons?

Muslims turning to fight US.

Us, Me, I…

Shadow of Vietnam?
Maybe it’s time to unearth, contrast and compare?

BBC2
American citizens interviewed about Iraq: specifically WHY the US is there at all.
UNBELIEVABLE. And we’re not talking dumb trailer trash here [so to speak], but nice middle class ladies.

Lady One: “They did it. HE did it. Saddam.”
She honestly thinks it turns out this is why US is there: because Iraq – not figuratively, not even in terms of contributions or encouragement, but LITERALLY – “did” 9/11.
And she’s not alone.

Her friend isn't so sure.
“No it wasn’t him dear…”
“Is there a difference?”
[. . .]
“We need to be vindicated.”

What you need, lady, is to be EDUCATED. The whole ‘couldn’t find Iraq on a childrens map’ lot of you. (But no one in the US media it seems is exactly going to dissaude them from their views…)

“You have to show those people you’re capable of greater violence then they are.”

Footage in bars. Booze flushed people grinning – IGNORANT – “I feel like each one of ours – 100 of theirs…”


The woman who thought it was Saddam – her name: Erica WAYBRIGHT. Pynchon ring about it. . .

Because we’re Anglo – level headed, sceptical, pragmatic, and these days fundamentally faithless or at best tepid… - I don’t think we take it seriously. We don’t REALLY believe that THEY really believe. BUT THEY DO, you know. George Bush and his gang, Pat Robertson et al – they believe in the LITERAL truth of the Bible. Still. Today. In 2003. They do: they BELIEVE. In the Book of Revelations. In homosex as unnatural. Etc etc etc. That they are God’s chosen people.

All the WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION THEY WONT LET ANYONE ELSE HOLD.
Thus = this Iraqi War it’s like, what we’ll do first is, we’ll send in Inspectors AND TAKE ALL THEIR USEFUL WEAPONS AWAY FROM ‘EM.
Then we’ll start a fight with ‘em.
Barroom coward bully tactics.
‘Come on out and fight ya lilly livered Ay-rabs!’
‘But sirs – you have great big arsenal of guns, and we have nothing.’
‘Hah! Typical twisty Ay-rab logic!’

[Oh god… a different life. A time like this. Less education, less opportunities. I can just see it: me: pissed off assassin or terrorist. Easy. Not that far a leap as it stands. At times like this, in a refugee camp, your family slaughtered, no future – what you gonna do? A close reading of Foucault footnotes? I don’t THINK so. . .]

Can’t watch 24 any more. (Can only just watch CSI.). I just don’t feel comfortable with the way the US has no qualms about INSTANTLY REPACKAGING its tragedies as slick career-saving entertainment.

And let’s not FORGET: that incredible obscene overkill of the media around the Washington sniper. To the point that it interfered with – and prolonged – the spree.

It’s like: America loves to show and probe its awful wounds in public. As tho the showing and probing somehow redeemed the fact that the awful wounding took place to begin with. As tho’ TV programmes which express liberal doubt about [lack of] gun control somehow excuse all the deaths & accidents & etc. . .
The way U.S. repackages – now, at lightning speed - without reflection - EVEN [or especially] its FLAWs, its psychoses, its… DEATH KULTURE.
It makes me edgy about watching anything to do with crime, guns, death. . .
(And surely if Crime Scene Investigation really were as good and thorough and ethical as Gil Grissom and co make it seem, there would be NO – ZERO – miscarriages of justice in USA!)


SUNDAY 30th

Reading The Medieval World
+ levi strauss book; on Marcel Mauss and ‘The Gift’ [le don!]

Article in guardian mag about Vietnam. . . shame heaped upon shame.

That pigfucker Kissinger [who also pops up in that Robert Evans auto biog I just read!]
And you think… well, OK, it is “natural” – at least according to Kapital's ad hoc “logic” that such “successful, driven, powerful BUSINESS men” should attain to positions in government. [Look now at Rumsfeld et al. The crossover between hi business and hi power.] As opposed to feckless takes-a-decade-to-make-a-decision 'intellectual' flakes like the Pill Box constituency, say. . .

But is it?

The ‘profit’ war has taken over from the holy war or the nationalism war [territory for prides sake. First GOD, then land/image, now the unholy profit margin. Ever downward – in idealist terms - to quiz show bottom basement. Will you fight for this bar b q set, this car and this hi fi system? Or . . .this billion dollar uk-us fighter plane development contract? Good till 2054, boys. . .]

How is it an *********CENSORED FOR MY OWN LEGAL GOOD********* fuck like Kissinger has largely managed to so massage his image in States & elsewhere that he is ‘respected’ – that he was the only one to come out of watergate/vietnam quagmire with that twinkly-gravitas imago (and business rollodex) intact? Ditto his VERY odd sex symbology. V. odd.
Actually, a moment’s reflection, and, phrased like that, the Q/ seems to answer itself, no, really, doesn't it, for the more sophisticated sex in the charity circle woman? What, hun? You strafed 1400 women and children today with skin-stripping chemicals and even now as we sip our Gimlets they are screaming in inconceivable agony?
Let's go to bed. . .

But I always kinda had an unfeasible and inexplicable wrong-headed and doubtless queasily Oedipal soft spot for both G Gordon Liddy and my man Ollie North. (I even kicked off Vital Signs with a quote from the latter. Tho' now, I must admit, that action gives me sleepless nights wondering exactly where MY HEAD WAS AT, then. You think I have a bunker mentality NOW? Sheesh. . .you have NO idea. . .)

{
Reading book about QUANTAM COMPUTERs
Massive complex etc. I read on with mounting awe and respect, and fascination.
Until 23 or so pages in – the Q/ suddenly posed itself: what for?
And do you know what these mdoels of mathematical beauty & precision are being bit drilled and mega micro bought and paid for?
For what?
TO… STAGE… NU-CLEAR… EXPLOSIONS.
Because the ever zealous USofA cannot just ignite its noo bombs where it will any more… it has to STAGE them, as simulacra, in these big boys.
So go theorise that, Baudrillard baby.

Just when you think you can’t get more dejected than you already were, along comes shit like this, doesn’t it always? You try and improve your mind, pursue idealistic Science instead of your usual wild + crazy spheres, and what do you get staring back at you? Doc-tor fucking Faustus times a strangelovian infinity plus. (Or, rather, potentially, the big minus.)

As always, US exemptionism again: we can forge ahead, you fellas… but you, you-all stay behind. American Power & Leadership Inc., in other words, has become so innured to its own civilian population’s blind faith & complaissance & see-no-evil compliance, that it now expects all the nations of the world to behave in a self same manner! Doesn’t expect a single solitary soul to raise a hand in objection while the US stocks up and stocks up and builds up and betters its massive arsenal, while it BANS anyone it doesn’t like from having the self same arsenal.

Where does this trail lead?

They all lead back, ultimately, to Los Alamos, surely…

And who is still the only country to have used nuclear weapons in a real-time situ? That’s right.

Can you imagine a threatened toppled cornered Saddam actually using a nuclear device? Of course you can. Taking away not just his country & people, 1,000s of American/UK troops, giving a finger/signal, but also, taking away resources, oil, + ensuring that there won’t be US reconstruction/exploitation?
The ultimate suicide bombing, unless the BushBlairCorporation know something they haven't told us yet? That he DOESN’T have functioning nukes?
Which would make a HELL of a lot more sense… given their blase brazen rush-ahead confidence. . .no?

Haven’t watched ANY war news today.
Not sure that it’s “battle [coverage] fatigue” so much as LIE fatigue. Euphemism fatigue.

+Besides, far more interesting ‘bits’ to be found buried in the newspapers; such as the fact that Richard Perle is a serving member on the board of The Jerusalem Post
This detail in re claims published there this week – but doubted everywhere else – that a chemical weapons factory had finally been located. Let's keep an eye out for this, eh?

I wrote this before reading about Perle’s resignation – or better say, quasi-resignation, since he “retains a role” . . . which could after all mean anything, i.e. still on the board or ‘in the loop’ as they say on West Wing and 24. . . in fact the whole thing is very 24-esque. His nickname: prince of darkness.
And the currrent row was sparked by his work for one of the few UK companies that stand to profit from the Iraq war: the amazingly and spookily named Autonomy Corp.
You couldn’t make this stuff up, could you? (No wonder Pynchon had all those lean years.) And the Autonomy Corp . . . it's not merely 24-esque, but rather has a full blown ring of The Parallax View about it, nein?

Our friends at the Autonomy Corp. manufacture advanced computer eavesdropping systems for intelligence agencies around the world. Aaagrh! I got the FEAR!

posted by Ian 5/14/2003 07:21:00 PM

(0) comments

{Tuesday}

 
BUMPER FIRST MONTH ANNIVERSARY 13/13 LIVE FROM BASRA
ALL NEW SINGIN' DANCIN' PREACHIFYIN' PILL BOX!

Radical good-sense neo-Conservatism! The West Wing! Psychopathology! Gardening! Facile Puns standing in for hard analysis!
[NB: may not contain singing / dancing / or anything identifiably Basra-rooted or routed… ]

A BIG birthday treat today for readers who’ve made it with us to the end of the Pill Box’s first working month – something not written by me!

Concurrent with the creation of the P.B. U.S. Politics Desk, we publish the autobiography of a downtown down & elegant neo-Conservative. . . but seriously, correspondent B. Anderson’s elegant precis of his & US neo-Conservatism’s politics (which I requested from him, NB, this wasn’t some kind of strident take-over bid!) reminded me how much I’ve missed the sweet astringency of well-expressed right-wing cut n thrust since that inordinately pretty woman who played a whip smart Republican transferred from the West Wing to CSI Miami – I mean, put her and the Mary Louise Parker character both in the prog and who cares if that clothes horse slickhead Rob Lowe leaves, he was always my least favourite and their least interesting character anyway – the only one whose (narcissistic) way of delivering Sorkin’s lines made them SOUND like cocktail party round table lines … give me Leo, Toby (Toby especially – he may well be the person I most want to be when I, uh, grow up), the Prez, MLP & Smart n Sassy Neo-Con and I’d be in perma grin hog heaven speaking just for myself … where else on television do you see people thinking, just . . . thinking ?

Which brings us to our guest speaker, Brian Anderson from U.S. neo-Conservative mag City Journal.

As Prof Derrida sez, hospitality must be our key note.
And I’m more than happy to open the Box up to other POVs; the world doesn’t turn, after all, around my 8.58 am mental ricochets.
There is indeed much to be said about the failings of left discourse, the creation of non-aligned future concepts, so forth (I’m especially taken here, by Brian’s reminder that Foucault/D&G were very much ANTI-institutional, ANTI-power, and given e.g. what we’ve seen become of the Labour Party I don’t think anyone would disagree that such tactics/criticisms apply equally to Left as to Right; see also Naomi Klein in yesterday’s Guardian, writing about how self-patrolling autonomist movements in Argentina have been overtaken by the same old “heavy ghosts” of dull dead bureaucratic Leftism…), but for now, we proudly open our stuffy doors to someone we’re delighted to call our American Friend…

++++++++++++

Dear Ian:

What is a neo-conservative? The question has a clear historical answer, and a fuzzier conceptual one. Let me take a swift stab at both, and then give you a little more detail on my own move right.

Historical first.
The neo-conservatives emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a distinct group of (mostly) New York-based liberal/leftist intellectuals, many of them, though certainly not all of them, Jewish, who had come to question key elements of the 1960s cultural upheavals in the U.S. - especially the New Left's growing irrationalist and utopian tendencies (read: Norman O. Brown and Herbert Marcuse), its rampant anti-Americanism, its refusal to recognize some of the unintended consequences of its favored policies, etc. The predecessors of the neo-conservatives include the great literary critic Lionel Trilling, the theologian Reinhold Neihbuhr, and anti-communist liberal thinkers like Raymond Aron and Isaiah Berlin.

There are several major figures in the neo-conservative movement itself, the most important probably being Irving Kristol, until this year the long-time co-editor (with Harvard sociologist Nathan Glazer) of The Public Interest, a high-brow social science/political theory quarterly. Kristol and otherformer liberals "mugged by reality," as he put it, were initially uneasy allies with the conservatives and libertarians gathered around William F. Buckley's National Review (in fact most of the neo-cons remained Democrats until well into the 80s); but as time went on, the differences between the neo-cons and other conservatives blurred somewhat-the neo-cons came to embrace free-market economics, for example-so that the very term "neo-conservative" has for some observers become meaningless.

I think the term does retain some meaning, however, as one can see by making some conceptual distinctions on the American right. Neo-cons are not libertarians. They believe, unlike the libertarians who write for Reason magazine or who toil away at The Cato Institute, that government does have social welfare and regulatory responsibilities, and that the U.S. should have a muscular foreign policy (libertarians mostly opposed the war in Iraq, for instance, while the neo-cons pushed for it and supported it). Another distinction: the neo-cons are not moral relativists, as are many libertarians. An area where this distinction becomes evident is in bio-ethics, where neo-cons often raise "Brave New World" concerns about recent scientific/technological developments in genetics while libertarians celebrate the Promethean possibilities of modern science.

But if neo-cons aren't libertarians, nor are they "paleo-conservatives," the very disgruntled folks who look to Patrick Buchanan as their standard-bearer and read Chronicles magazine. The paleo-cons despise the neo-cons, who they see as promoting a basically leftist agenda in conservative guise, entangling the U.S. in foreign conflicts to protect Israel and to pursue what they deem utopian goals such as "building democracy." The paleo-cons also distrust free-market economics and globalization, which they believe undermine American sovereignty, and are broadly opposed to immigration, which the neo-cons tend to favor.

The paleo-cons also think America's whole effort to bring blacks into the mainstream was misguided. Many show nostalgia for the pre-civil rights South and "agrarianism" in political theory. And they virtually all despise Lincoln as a proto-totalitarian. The neo-cons, by contrast, are very critical of affirmative action but strong supporters of the integrationist spirit of the original civil rights movement. One of the big missions of the Manhattan Institute, City Journal's publisher, for example, is to get as many struggling black kids out of the crappy public schools and into private scholarship programs and-we hope-into publicly funded voucher programs that will enable them to attend private schools.

Are the neo-cons the mainstream conservatives these days?
Perhaps, but there is still a sensibility, I think, that marks them out. Though there are notable exceptions (such as the Catholic social thinker Michael Novak), the neo-cons inhabit a spiritual universe more Freud and Partisan Review than Aquinas or Luther, more social-science-and literature-oriented than religious, more urban than middle-American. You'll find this sensibility in City Journal, Commentary, and other neo-conservative journals and magazines, even when they write (almost always sympathetically) about religious topics.

As for my (somewhat a-typical) intellectual journey away from youthful radicalism, it resulted primarily from reading and personal observation. There was no Road-to-Damascus moment. Instead, a steady continuum of perceptions and encounters.
I was very much on the left as a college undergraduate - I tried to make my way through Capital, pretended to admire various left icons and to be some kind of socialist, etc. But in grad school, first at Boston College, where I was lucky enough to take courses with Habermas and Gadamer, as I mentioned, I began to question my politics.

Political thought should combine the normative and the feasible - and leftist thinkers were just ignoring questions of feasibility, or at least it seemed to me. What would be the concrete, real-world effects, I began to ask myself, of putting into practice the vision of Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason or of Raymond Williams's socialism or even of John Rawls's theory of justice? Economic misery, social violence, resentment - it was increasingly hard to see what good could come from any concrete politics on offer by the left's leading lights.

I began to read the French post-structuralist thinkers, who were on the left, but critical of the Soviet Union and supportive of eastern-bloc dissident movements. Is there a politics in Foucault? The message of his work - or at least the message I took from it - is suspicion of institutionalized power, not celebration of an emancipatory political project. Deleuze's schizo-analysis seemed more compatible with American pragmatism than with socialist politics, as you suggest in PB.

These thinkers in turn put me on the path to more conservative writers - Bernard-Henri Levy and Andre Glucksmann, Pascal Bruckner, Luc Ferry, and then Raymond Aron, Leo Strauss, Michael Oakeshott, Solzhenitsyn, and others, whose work seemed so much more in tune with the way the world worked, with human nature, with man's capacity for evil, with the fragility of free societies. I began devouring conservative intellectual journals - Commentary, First Things, the Public Interest - which were livelier, more imaginative, and better written, I found, than most of what I was finding on the left. (This is truer, I think, in the U.S. than in England.)
In writing my dissertation (at the University of Ottawa) on Aron, I wound up doing research at the American Enterprise Institute, where several of the fellows had actually known the man, and that was it - I had officially gone over to the dark side! I even sat across a lunch table from Richard Perle once, if memory serves.
The AEI intellectuals were a forbiddingly serious bunch - real thinkers, not cardboard polemicists, as the left ridiculously portrays them as being. There were personal experiences too: some leftist profs I came into contact with were - to put it bluntly-hypocrites, as full of shit as you can be. I recall attending a lecture by one reasonably well-known "male feminist," who argued that once technology made it possible, men should give birth on an equal basis with women, etc. Fine, but meanwhile, he was trying to seduce -with all of his energy - any female student who he could get his hands on. Hypocrisy is a human trait, shared across the political spectrum, of course, but in my experience, it has often been those who loudly profess their affinity with the downtrodden and excluded who've been the most spiteful and destructive.

Also - and this will probably horrify you-my move right came partly thanks to Ian Penman and Paul Morley at NME! Your rejection of overly politicized agitprop in music back in the late seventies made intuitive sense to me - I disliked the didacticism of Billy Bragg or Crass, and could stomach even less the critics who pretended to be revolutionaries, etc. There was far more truth in an August Darnell ballad, I came to believe, than in the entire socialist posturing of, say, the Gang of Four or Robert Christgau.

I've already rambled on far too long, but one last point.
Today's American left is utterly, bleakly humorless-offering up a steady diet of argument by invective, resentment, and the worst kind of PC identity politics. It's not a healthy, joyous worldview, to say the least. It is profoundly reactionary. It sees John Ashcroft as a bigger threat than al-Queda, as Christopher Hitchens memorably noted in his farewell to The Nation. You mention the ethos of South Park, and you are right on target - the best humor in American popular culture today is, if not on the right, then definitely anti-liberal, in a kind of Peter Sloterdijk, cynical way (Dennis Miller's hilarious new HBO special, for example). Andrew Sullivan (I think) has even coined a phrase - South Park conservatives - to describe the attitude. I think you'll see more and more of it.


Brian Anderson
City-Journal.


++++++++++++

Observer Magazine: US artist Paul McCarthy.
I LIKE THIS, I think, not knowing exactly why.
Not knowing WHY I feel a spark with him and not with a dozen other artists who don't even piss me off, I just look at their work and go, oh THEM again, inoffensive, dainty little career shock artists, who cares… and turn the page.

But with McCarthy, I GET something, something is GOING ON here.

Am I completely off base here [perhaps this could be a subset of Is It Just Me – the artier version, that uses terms like unheimlich too much], or, no matter how hard they try, don’t Brit artists like hirst emin noble&webster et al, don’t they just end up feeling HOMELY to you? Do they EVER get within a GRIMM-tailed mile of the genuine creepiness of, inter alia, mccarthy, cindy sherman, serrano. . .genuine creepiness, but also, intimations of the Sublime. . .{our lot, they’re like some cheapskate cut-rate brit tv version of The Simpsons. . .}


- ----- +

P-L-E-A-S-E BE MY FRIEND


NOW THIS is worrying. . .leafing thru old magazine. . .

‘what is a psychopath?’

QUOTE
psychiatrists use a checklist to determine whether someone is a psychopath.

This includes:

superficial charm;
grandiose sense of self-worth;
pathological lying;
manipulation;
lack of guilt;
lack of empathy;
parasitic lifestyle;
promiscuous sexual behaviour;
lack of realistic long term goals;
impulsiveness;
irresponsibility;
juvenile delinquency;
criminal versatility.
UNQUOTE

Well, let’s for now ignore the fact that one of my long term goals as things stand right now is to actually one time sometime maybe leave the BUNKER here and go outside again and maybe even mingle with {uh-uh, shiver}. . .people. So that kind of limits my promiscuous sexual behaviour and criminal versatility; and it’s hard to be a juvenile deliquent when you’re listening to Innervisions for the tenth time that day on headphones. But still, otherwise, there have been times in my career, uh, life, when 11 out of 13 wouldn’t have been far off the scorecard. I have people who’ll testify as much; the ones who survived my voodoo curses, anyway.

I don’t know what’s more worrying; that there have been times in my life when I WOULD have scored that much; or that a similar checklist would double as my ‘things I look for in my ideal partner’…
(Pretty much Shell Dockley in point of fact. Shell Dockley after an Open University course on Kristeva. “But I don’t like knobbin’ signifiance!” Nurse, the back copies of Screen. . .)

Now I come to think on it. . .
Found recently, in
DREAM BROTHER {the lives and music of jeff and tim buckley}
David Browne [4th Estate 2001]:

“[Throughout the year, such stories became as much a part of Tim’s life as his music.] The signs pointed to a common psychological condition known as borderline-personality disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, its distinguishing traits included:
“markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self”;
“a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships”;
“impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damagaing (i.e., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)”;
“recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures or threats”;
“chronic feelings of emptiness”; and
“inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger.”

YEP: 5 out of 6!

And N.B., by the by, DREAM BROTHER is I think one of the saddest books I’v ever read.

As witness this opening quote, more in ten lines that that entire con-job Cobain rip-off. . .

My grandfather has a beautiful voice. Irish tenor. Beautiful. Too much of a military hardass to deal with his own and his son’s talents. I wish it were otherwise. I love you, you poor bastards. . . . With a father like this man, it is no wonder that Tim Buckley was afraid to come back to me. So afraid to be my father. Because his only paradigm for fatherhood was a deranged lunatic with a steel plate in his head. . . . I know that he must have been scared shitless to think he might possibly become like his father. Scared shitless of treating me the way his father treated him and his family. Can you imagine the heartbreak? The useless, shitty torture day in, day out?

-JEFF BUCKLEY, JOURNAL ENTRY, August 9, 1995.



+ ----- -

Gripping and strangely moving and (unusually for this sort of thing) enlightening documentary on C4 last night: Terror In Moscow.
Badly titled, tho’ - because terror was actually the last thing you remembered here.
Incredible programme, incredibly moving – and how sheerly awful a mismanaged ‘conclusion’ effected by the Russian military, too bloodthirsty busy shooting the already comatose Chechens to provide even basic CPR for their own people. Awful, just awful.

The head Chechen rebel/terrorist:
“I swear to Allah: we desire death more than you want life.”

Now that, my friends, THAT, is something to meditate on. . . whatever your politics.

Here I should also maybe say – in re Brian’s declaration of indepedent thought above – that perhaps what most creeps me out and angers me about Bush (and Blair to a lesser extent but boy is he catching up) is not so much his Republicanism, as the way he sometimes uses it as a cover for a gross confusion of Church and State – in ALL sorts of ways. Sane & intelligent & urbane young thinker-writers on magazines is one thing, but the ‘neo Conservatism’ being pushed as REALPOLITIK by Rumsfeld et. . .but we must return to this. Calmly, rationally, soberly. Un-psychopathically.
I need to put my thinking cap on.
And this is good, no?


posted by Ian 5/13/2003 07:47:00 PM

(0) comments

{Monday}

 
MESSAGE TO YOU PRIME MEANISTER*

Consider the One God Universe: OGU. The spirit recoils in horror from such a deadly impasse. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Because He can do everything, He can do nothing, since the act of doing demands opposition. He knows everything, so there is nothing for Him to learn. He can’t go anywhere, since He is already fucking everywhere, like cowshit in Calcutta.
The OGU is a pre-recorded universe of which He is the recorder. It’s a flat, thermodynamic universe, since it has no friction by definition. So He invents friction and conflict, pain, fear, sickness, famine, war, old age and Death.
His OGU is running down like an old clock. Takes more and more to make fewer and fewer Energy Units of Sek, as we call it in the trade.
The Magical Universe, MU, is a universe of many gods, often in conflict. So the paradox of an all-powerful, all-knowing God who permits suffering, evil and death, does not arise.
“What happened, Osiris? We got a famine here.”
“Well, you can’t win ‘em all. Hustling myself.”

WSB

[*Cf. Clare Short resignation speech. It wasn’t a fluff, I really think that is what she wanted to say.]

+ ----- -

Certain gardens are described as retreats when
they are really attacks

Garden centres must become the Jacobin Clubs
of the new Revolution

From ‘Unconnected Sentences on Gardening’
Ian Hamilton Finlay

- ----- +

WILD FLOWER // A MEAN TERM BETWEEN REVOLUTION AND VIRTUE*

. . .campion · cornflower · foxglove · meadowsweet · ox-eye daisy · poppy · ragged robin · scabious · toadflax · cow parsley · wood cranesbill · germander speedwell · bluebell · windflower · sweet briar · our lady’s milk thistle · bermuda buttercup · spurge · borage · dyer’s greenweed · goat willow · daphne mezereum · wayfaring tree · spindle bush · prunus spinosa · dog rose · hop · old man’s beard · (traveller’s joy) · clustered bellflower · queen of the meadow · genet · bloody cranesbill · mourning widow · cuckoo flower · (lady’s smock) · mollyblobs · bird’s-foot trefoil · moon daisy · purple loosestrife · flag iris · snake’s-head fritillary · Solomon’s seal . . .

*Ian Hamilton Finlay, after the Calendar of the French Revolution

posted by Ian 5/12/2003 07:52:00 PM
(0) comments
 
EDITOR’s HEAD @ 8.58

THE Pill Box has the suppport of the Right!

Well, we have received one letter of support from one neo-Conservative thinker in Manhattan which, I grant you, isn't quite the same. (More, hopefully, from our neo-Con correspondent soon. And when I say I’m fascinated how you get from Deleuze/Foucault to Richard Perle and Don Rumsfeld I’m not being snide. Far from it. It excites me! I am not against IDEAS per se, most ideas have some kernels of good sense; it’s how they’re applied, and, more crucially, WHO is doing the applying, and in the name of what.

Let’s not forget that
i) as far as Deleuze&Guattari go, the whole wind beneath Anti-Oedipus was a looking to pragmatic America, away from stuffy Freud-obsessed Europe; and
ii) has anyone noticed the neo-Con strain in South Park? As it’s got more subversive and "political", C4 seem to have moved it further and further out beyond the moon, marooned amongst other dross – other Cartoon dross, as if that was the defining point. But any youngster who watches South Park won’t just learn Mr Poo’s Poo Song, or about the dangers of Underpant Gnomes, but also about political correctness gone illogical, state interference, mob hysteria, hypocrisy over privacy legislation, hypocrisy over NO LOGO no-brainer choices. . .etc.


100 WORST HIP-O-CRITS

Seen Saturday on - where else? - C4 while surfing:
· a load of f*ckwit presenters and the usual media whores trollops & tarts, criticisng a Ms Jade Goody for… well, for doing exactly what they have done, really, only being more blasé and upfront and less mannered about it.
The Pill Box sez: Go, girl! Work that 15 minutes! Class War can take many strange forms. . .

And can we stop calling these people ‘presenters’ (David Attenborough is a presenter) and call them what they truly are: bland-faced parasitical Silverfish on the sinking hull-arse of ducking stool TV. They are the skid marks on the po mo post-erior of…

Talking of which: seen Friday night, 9.30-10.00 pm BBC1, with my heart racing, it must be said: Charlotte Church - who seems to have grown up a lot in a short space of time, showing that News quiz “presenting” is not some arcane skill which only ugly boil festooned middle aged Smug Gits in shiny Hugo Boss can do for huge barrowfuls of cash.

Beautiful crazy, funny young . . .

At this point our beloved PillBox demagogue was carried away to the Tikrit Rest Home for Neo-Classical Tyrants; and so

Today's This Morning with Gilles & Felix is “presented” by Shell Dockley of ITV’s “Bad Girls” fame!

Enter Shell, astride a big bendy pink howitzer:. . .
“..and I don’t like knobbin’ YOGHURT. Not for breakfast not for dinner and not for THRUSH. Got it, lava-lamp tits!?”

[Weak hysterical voice echoing as from a distance: "..Charlotte, Charlotte honey, you’re too good for him: he tried to sell your private… not a RAPPER! Please, Char, gorgeousness, anything but a crap wigga rapper… even a neo-Con…”]

Enter Jay ‘Rocky’ Garner

“Hi! I’m Jay Garner. And I want you to know we won’t be changing your Pill Box one bit. Why, I told Mr Rumsfeld, I said, Don, I said, Donster baby – you know, that’s what we call’im, the Donster, why, it’s jes’ like a hot episode of Laugh In where we work, I tellya! Any-hoo, we just need to introduce a few measures – to wit, cat registration, cat herding, cat curfew, special cat re-education camps – you know, I don’t know if you felllas has had any dealings with cats, but these furry-headed... Uh, these lovely people, well, they say one thing and just plain go and do another, and maybe their religion so-called DOES provide for that sort of higgledy piggledy upside-down god-damn …uh… ah… And baby won’t get no television if he don’t eat his fish heads-“

ENTER FAR BIGGER MAN in approx $100,00 worth of military hardware.

“Hi! Jay’s been taken poorly [sound from distance: "THWACK! AAAAAaaaaaaaa…"] so from now on both Happy Trails Television Inc. and the daily stewardship of the Pill Box’s Opinion Wells will fall under the pay-per-view of me. [Mutters: 'Hi!' my great godmothers ass.] My name is Colonel Doggo ‘Kill All Cats’ McDogface, and I’m here to reassure you that no cats were harmed during the bombing of -…get ON yer knees boy and LOVE that American way of death. Uh, sorry, just went back to Nam for a second there [STOMPS OFF, muttering…] – say one thing for them Gooks, knew the best place for a juicy goddamn cat anyway…”

Distant glint . . .:
High on a mountain top (in more ways than one), Joe The Dead breathes in, squeezes his trigger finger and -


posted by Ian 5/12/2003 01:14:00 PM

(0) comments
spacer