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05 Октябрь 2014 @ 20:11
Both Zach and Steven were people I really liked and I really cared about a lot. Of course I loved them; of course I still love them. They have something else in common, besides the fact that they died tragically, so so too young. I had fallen out of touch with them in the last few years, for reasons that are sort of different and sort of the same and don't really matter now. Is it selfish or self-centered to wish I could have made sure they knew that? Anyway, I do. Death turns lapses like that into irrevocably missed opportunities. Everyone knows that, I guess, but the sudden death of young people you thought you had plenty more time to reconnect with someday really drives home the contingency of, well, everything.

I just wish I could tell them how I feel. That's our relationship now. I guess it makes me wonder how different it really is. Trying to bridge an infinite gap, to make people understand how you feel, and to understand how they feel. That's life. But of course it's different. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.
23 Октябрь 2013 @ 12:05
Woody Allen really seems like a guy with a number of deep loves and fascinations that don't always sync up that well. A lot of these are virtuous and charming, or at least harmless, like jazz (he plays jazz clarinet), sports, pyschoanalysis (37 years!), film-making, and film-watching. Then there's sex (and love), which includes good aspects and also all of Allen's bad or even possibly sick fascinations.

Understanding Woody Allen requires an ability to determine which aspects of his movies and his stand-up character (with his variety of different interchangeable brooklyn jewish names) are "autobiographical" (expressive might be a better word) and which are the product of an infinitely fertile, deeply silly, obsessed-with-sex-and-death-and-the-meaning-of-life creative process.

I was really struck by his answer to an interviewer recently (2012? Allen was 77). The guy asked whether Allen would prefer to have a hundred more years of good and productive life ahead of him, or ninety-eight more such years and the assurance of immediately making something ultimate and perfect "like the bicycle thief." Allen had no hesitation: he wanted the hundred more years.

What that man wants to do is live. One of many reasons why he deeply wants to live is because he loves to make movies (as you may have noticed he has released over 40 movies and is hailed as a film legend in his own lifetime). You watch movies like "Annie Hall" and "Stardust Memories" and you see a man really confronting the meaning of reality and the necessity of suffering and his own fear of death in the most radical and visceral way. But he discovers that love, even failed love, makes him love life regardless of all life's faults.

The women in those movies are the same to Allen as all his other deep, life-affirming loves.
30 Сентябрь 2013 @ 13:17
People think the end of Breaking Bad was too pat, too easy, that it undermined what made the show so powerful. That was my first reaction too, maybe, sort of. But already I'm not so sure.

Supposedly what made the show (at least from a Walt-centered perspective) so powerful was the halting and uncertain progress of the "prantagonist" from a harmless, good, perhaps moral man into a monster. And this undermines that by redeeming Walt. Walt does achieve a kind of redemption, but I would note that at the end of the show his family is no less destroyed and his son hates him no less, Hank is no less dead, and Jesse has neither forgiven Walt nor is Jesse, like, in real good shape as Walt's partner, punching bag, sacrifice, or surrogate-son. These are things (at least some of them) Walt genuinely cares about. Whether Walt accepted his responsibility for Hank's death (and failing to accept his responsibility is one of his most consistent and deeply-held moral failings), he was obviously horrified at it, and there's simply no reason to think that Walt suddenly feels better about Hank just because he told Marie where Hank's shallow grave can be found. The same goes for his relationship with his wife and son, if for no one else. Finally, Walt apologizes to no one. Walt does go out more on his terms than anyone else's, he achieves self-knowledge, he succeeds in his cardinal aims (never taking any shit and passing money on to his children), and he does what he can for the people closest to him.

But it's Mike, who is the most successful reader of Walt in the show, who really points to the problem with this understanding when he tells Walt that Walt's problem and the root of basically everyone in the show's problems is his pride and ego. Those things existed from the first moment of the show, when we are introduced to Walt as a bowed but unhumbled high school teacher and part-time car wash employee. He refuses Elliot and Gretchen's money, he only takes so much shit from Bogdan, and his blowhard brother-in-law obviously rankles that Walt pride to no end. In short Walt's sins are older than Breaking Bad, just as their effects long outlive it (and him). In an ultimate sense, Walt had probably been born bad. The arc of the story isn't a moral one, though it appears that way. It's a man storming into a world for which he is not prepared and which is not prepared for him. In doing so, he destroys both the world he came from and the one he entered.

Walt is a man who didn't know his place, which is exactly what Mike tells him. Walt wanted to go into the empire business but the fact is that for all his victories, regardless of how totally he transformed both worlds through his thunderous passage, Walt was not a ruler. Gus was cruel, the cartels were cruel, but they built worlds; Walt destroyed those worlds and has left in their place nothing but three or four shattered families, a gaping power vacuum in the international drug trade which will only be ended with much more violence, and a horrified city.

Why did Walt do it? Because, ultimately, of addiction. Walt was addicted to power and conflict and making money. He had been defeated in the Matter of Grey Matter, but a brush with death and he relapsed. As can happen with relapses, he fell much harder the second time.

This is what the ending of Breaking Bad sums up with its morally-questionable ending. Walt was a man with an addiction, a disease, a disorder - and what other people might call an artistic obsession or a heroic quality represented by Achilles or, perhaps, Ramses II. Is addiction a moral failing? Much ink has been spilled over the question. I tend to think it is not. Without getting into a huge discussion of morality and free will, our society generally regards compulsive processes or disorders in the brain as outside the realm of free will and hence of morality. Morality is exclusively a quality of brain processes we have not yet mapped and diagrammed. In the end, Walt was the man that he was. He was a sick man, on more than one level. And he did die of his sickness.

Moral judgements are made based on acts, on means, not on ends. Isn't that what Chuck Kolsterman was saying about this show? Walt was evil because of the choices he made and the things he did. His ends couldn't absolve them. But it turns out those ends didn't come from the fact that Walt had an evil essence. He had a sick essence, and his compulsive drive to expand and increase and kill and win and never be bowed again is represented by both cancer that grew inside him and the meth addiction he spread like a plague.

So for the ending of the show to present the utter bottomless evil of Walt, or to deny that there had ever been anything good about him, would have undermined the central moral point of the show, which is that people are neither good things nor bad things, but are things that are at times good and at times bad, depending on how they respond to the situations they find themselves in.
21 Сентябрь 2013 @ 22:41
Idolism. Homo idolans.

Human being imagines generally that it is the master of its inventions, but in fact everywhere it is measured, deployed, expended, and cultivated by them. I do not believe in universals or constants, for I am resolutely and to the most fundamental core of all my actions historical and historicist. And yet everywhere I have yet looked I have found images and tools (but I repeat myself) sending men and women where it serves the end of their (the tools’) propagation and development to send them (the people). Indeed pursuing this haunting impression back into “the past” (another image-tool, the idol deputized by us all to dominate me and to develop my utility as its instrument) one only finds periods in which the iron domination of human artifice was weakened because of its underdevelopment. Our images, cruder, controlled us more weakly because the net or cage thrown over the living remainder, the unassimilated, that we actually are, was more coarsely gauged. Our experience was more schizophrenic, less refined – in the manner of alloys, not in the manner of manners – more wild, less useful, more dangerous.

The simple fact is that this formulation of human history and society and being is but a macrocosm of how the human brain actually functions. It has been scientifically established that one of the brain’s most important functions is the editing of sensory experience into coherence, what may be consciousness itself. The brain organizes memories of all kinds for storage and retrieval, a process which obviously involves much forgetting and much damage to the “actual content” of the experience remembered. All of this is well-known. It also edits the “live feed,” so to speak, of sense data. The eyes and ears and nerves are not the perfect and stable diagnostic instruments our experience invisibly and endlessly suggests they are. They are machines in space and time. They stutter, jump, short-circuit, skip, fail, and so on. Foreign objects become lodged in them. The corrosion which is the corollary to all complex functioning everywhere impedes them. And the brain takes this mass of confused, sometimes-contradictory, always-damaged film reel and stitches it into a coherent, logical, predictable, efficient-exploitable product that tends towards the production of additional cameras – additional human mind-body apparatuses. Functioning in the high-end, super-charged mammal dreamworld (requiring an engine of blood, oxygen, electricity, and nutrients unparalleled in power consumption and miniaturization and complexity) made it more likely that a particular category of objects on the savannah-forest borderland would reproduce themselves, and whatever evolutionary lags or hidden, crippling, slow-to-develop flaws may be nestled within this apparatus it has continued to reproduce powerfully ever since.

So in a very real sense the development of culture – of information stored in the emergent network of electricity and chemicals playing across the surface of the brain rather than in genetic code – is both the first shift from animal to human, in an evolutionary sense, and the natural development, that is to say, intensification, of the human, in a technological one. That this process is both emancipation and slavery, existential personal transformation and cold industrialized production, actualization and perversion is the mystery I hope to understand, to develop, to intensify.

In asking this question, I place myself along an immense expanse of human thinking that has in many places and times, understood that this question is the fundamental one and asked it. The Axial Age thinkers of a half-dozen civilizations grasped this when they invented rituals to control their gods and redefined humanity as a disembodied mediator linking unchanging infinity to the mutating particular. In instrumentalizing those gods, the human stock of tradition, culture itself, they sought to free human being from subjection to its own tools and to reestablish the natural order, in which the inventions of human being – gods – served human being. The Abrahamic revolt against idolatry, too, sought to escape the control of the usurping and misunderstood sign. The idea of a contract or covenant with God again instrumentalized Him, and would in time be understood as a revolt against the usurpation committed by human cultural artifice. The Reformation and the Enlightenment only developed-intensified this revolt against its institutionalized and ossified earlier iteration. Marxism put the problem most clearly for the now-living modern mentality – that human being risked becoming the slave of its own productive complex. And postmodernism has carried this fight staunchly into the realm of art, logic, and thought generally, seeing in rationalism, text, and perhaps in any system/structure (understood in the structuralist sense, for postmodernism is unquestionably a direct response to structuralism) at all the idols of an earlier age, the usurping sign, the god-to-be-harnessed-through-new-ritual.

The historical record thus indicates that true change on this score is exceedingly unlikely. With better lights and more developed-intensified method we chart the inside of the cave in which we are imprisoned ever more precisely. This project is, in the long run, indistinguishable from refining the gauge of the net our being throws over itself. By understanding better today our prison, we tighten its grip on our descendants.

Human being is embarked on the project of building a destiny for itself. Does it also, simultaneously, disassemble that destiny? or develop the potential tools for such a disassembling?
Музыка: gorguts
16 Сентябрь 2013 @ 10:53
racing in the street is a song about a guy who has to fucking street race at night in the summer no matter what else he does. and he's so good at it and cool and sexy that this woman leaves a competitor and lives with street racer guy and now she deeply regrets it and cries all the time quite possibly because he's constantly fucking street racing. but tonight he's gonna take her and they're gonna street race down to the sea and baptize themselves, to "wash these sins off our hands."

i think that song has a really great combination of lyricism and vocal performance. he's a very talented singer, but it's really all power. intensity. physical stamina. his style is totally "stand and deliver." but it has a real emotional range and an unusual beautiful growly quality, you know, if you like punk or metal.

the song is long and slowish but it's complicated and interesting and beautiful sonically. i think it has a pretty particular style. the sound envelopes you but the song never permits any view of life that is anything but complicated and hard and raw. in the same way the music always remains deeply sad and hopeful and beautiful. it's really an incredibly sad-sounding song.

and that's the point: all this technique hides within an incredibly emotional instinctive song. bruce springsteen is an extremely charismatic dude. he makes you feel what he is feeling, you know? especially if it has to do with rust belt workers, white men, union dudes, in the 60s and 70s, who had been raised on brando and james dean, during a major decline in american manufacturing. in their industries.

26 Август 2013 @ 10:23
so this band Aosoth made a record called "IV: An Arrow in Heart." the last track is called "Ritual Marks of Penitence." i'm pretty sure written lyrics have never been released, and it's screaming, which is basically incomprehensible to me. but I was listening to this song and thinking of its name, and i felt like the song had a strong menacing or evil element in it (it is black metal after all), but also a kind of grinding forward through resistance and adversity, especially around 5:50. using this kind of theme as a refrain or a reprise or a subdued groovy almost not-black-metal little interlude, the song creates a sense of periods of extreme difficulty in a relentless process. in other words, penitence. or "ritual penitence" for extra compulsive, torch-lit, arcane perversion factor. then at 10:10 or so a huge angry part comes back and I *think* a guy screams "NO!" really emphasizes the oppositional nature of the thrashy angry screamy parts to the more churning, progressive parts.

then i noted the album's cover, which is like a sad blue-tinted sorta icon image of an angel holding an arrow sticking out of her own chest while a bat-winged skeleton wrapped its hands around the angel's neck from behind. their eyes meet over the angel's shoulder as the skeleton gets her.

except, wait, i got it wrong. the angel is the one with the black, scary bat wings and the skeleton has beautiful white feathery ones. the angel's facial expression isn't upset or surprised at all - i mean, she is *holding* the arrow.

so I thought that, at least the angel and the skeleton each contain some good and some evil (probably good and evil being allegories for power and submission or something like that - yes, that's right, allegories, that's how this ideological stuff goes sometimes. then i thought that the angel and the skeleton might be of the same substances, locked in a grinding and self-destroying process of self-improvement (at least form the perspective of "cultist"). Yea.
01 Май 2013 @ 20:00
So, approaching 2014 people are quite pessimistic about the Democrats' chances. The Sixth Year Itch thing, a terrible map (the most competitive eleven senate seats are all Democrats, several of them in states Mitt Romney just won by double digits - on top of this it seems that recently Republicans vote a lot more in mid-terms than Democrats do), and a 2013 Obama who looks increasingly like 2011 Obama.

But OFA is chugging along. Polls are looking good for the Democrats. People are debunking the SYI statistically.

I'm actually gonna be pretty alarmed if OFA makes 2014 a turn-out miracle and totally outperforms expectations and the Democrats win decisively.
19 Апрель 2013 @ 22:29
that's how long it takes society to find and capture an individual based on pictures taken by cameras mounted in public places (here i forgo platitudes about their heinous crimes and how they needed to be caught immediately, because obviously). which everyone agrees we should have more of. the press maintained a constant state of mania over a period of days, full of stupid awful errors. for profit. civilians communicated rapidly and effectively with federal law enforcement. twitter basically led the story, because just fucking random people in the area (boston, waterford) left their police scanners running on livestreams.

these were pretty hardcore dudes. they weren't hill fighters by any means. but do you know a lot of 26 and 19 year old pairs who might plant powerful bombs against huge targets and then fight police at high speeds with explosives? they went to high school and college here. they were pretty assimilated. scholarship-winners and potentially opympian boxers.

these guys had a lot to lose. that has to be confronted.

here's the heart of the matter. i can speculate because it isn't my job, and i'm some guy on facebook. not head command-room commander wolf blitzer.

sidenote: i tuned into about 90 seconds of AM radio this morning, and i heard wolf blitzer saying yes we here at CNN like to correct our mistakes as soon as we make them. once again our local correspondents name is justin BAY-vor, not justin beaver.

these guys had what adam lanza had. to them the world was petty or maybe evil, and they felt powerless. this drove them to murderous awful violence. this murderous violence probably has to be admitted to be related to masculinity. but adam lanza wasnt from central asia, the refugee from a radicalizing brutal war of rebellion or independence. so he modeled his behavior on columbine and american serial killers. these guys or kids looked also to their heritage in a period of rage and confusion unrelated to material situation, and found a different way to do the same thing.

kill and maim and get on tv.

in the best version of the tea party, uncle ruslan would get some buzz about running for office. in my personal view, at least a little of what is needed for success lies in the tea party. really no one can claim that the republican party needs to be retaken from its establishment more than the democratic party does.

i'm gonna be listening extra hard to what people say now about this. i'm listening to everyone who gets their voice out. i don't know why this happens or how to stop it. to be frank it seems indicative of a sick society. but i know what to listen for.

the summons to cooperate identifies the healer.
17 Август 2012 @ 23:33
How does the image of gaga function?

1 – It is a principle for development which maintains its sameness not only despite but through change/transformations of various kinds; 2 – it creates a lag or a rupture in (its own?!) development, which is the key to freedom characterized in various ways, creating a radical self-availability (its self is available to it)
Skipping + you and I performance identity dialect + grammar troubles (who is speaking?)
Gaga is an image struggling to view itself . . . to use itself as fodder for its own projects . . . the un-alienated spectacle?

Constructing a statement that changes grammar – paradoxical, impossible, emancipatory?
So how does the gaga-image bring grammar within the reach of statements? By bending and breaking the rules, by pushing up against them (paws up video), the dual failures of that rule system become apparent: their restrictions don’t ultimately resolve or even manage ambiguity (i.e. make images intelligible), rather the grammar claims to be the solution to the problem of ambiguity but in fact solves that problem not by providing criteria or interpretive principles but by rendering transgression taboo; what could be a challenging, learning, growing experience if interpretive principles actually were being applied, in fact becomes a threat which must be ignored, avoided, or repressed not because it cannot be dealt with, but because it cannot be dealt with within the grammatical status quo – thus that grammatical status quo justifies its existence by claiming to solve problems it in fact only represses; the dialectic is the opposite of this

We create unchanging and independent systems to embody in a shamanistic attempt to become unchanging and independent through this idolatrous similitude

This is what the self-viewing image challenges: the removal of the interpretive or generative structures (grammar being the operative metaphor) up beyond the plane of action or iteration; historical forces have led modern society to erect ever-more-stringent barriers between parole and langue (iteration and principle, etc.), thus fundamentally removing power from the former and appropriating it for the latter. But the self-viewing image freely changes the terms of its own existence and operation; its goal is not survival and preservation but generation. If the unstructured-center image disguises taboo as mastery in order to bribe human being into embodying it out of fear of death, the gaga-image offers itself up to be transformed, exploited, dissolved, and abandoned by its viewers/subjects (thus also itself) so that death which is itself in fact only a representation of the world fashioned in order to overcome the fear of death and thus carrying along its own manipulative concept-ego can be thrown down out of the unstructured center subject-position, thus ending the fear of death and the influence it exerts upon the lives of individuals – by preforming death and decomposition life becomes possible; the only phenomenon that can match the vitality of life is the fertility of death

Imago dei . . . god(‘s perfect image) is the ultimate from which all particularity emanates, is complete unto itself, gathers subjects to itself; gaga is an always-incomplete image that fills in its holes by using and being used by its viewers/subjects . . .
Paws up video – image pressing up on the boundary between it and the viewer; that boundary is only visible when pushing against it . . . or when the image is missing (black = absence?)
Gaga seeks to show how to square the circle, to use a system without accepting its hidden core by disregarding the guidelines as which the system expresses itself. God’s image at the end of Paradiso appears to Dante to include the image of mankind within itself, but, like the squaring of a circle, the resolution or explanation of this attempted and paradoxical integration is impossible for Dante and for human reason in general; the Gaga image, however, attempts to base itself on a contradiction which will make the core functioning of the image available (either to itself or to others) without subjection. It is an image which allows contradiction to an extent that the unstructured center becomes available (to perception and power). Not an alien logic, an idolatrous image of the universe secretly made after the image of man, but a human logic that acknowledges its own self-worship and inescapable self-perception

Squaring a circle – generating a square from the specific logic of a particular circle (Lady Gaga trying to push herself through a grid of invisible wires in “Paws Up?”)
12 Август 2012 @ 00:56
How could she ever hate them for what was at bottom merely their weakness? She would probably have done things like those to be fallen her if she had lived in one of these houses. To measure them by her own yardstick as her father put it. Would she not, in all honesty, have done the same as Chuck and Vera and Ben and Mrs Henson and Tom and all these people in their houses? Grace paused. - - - And all of a sudden she knew the answer to her question all too well. If she had acted like them she could not have defended a single one of her actions and could not have condemned them harshly enough. It was as if her sorrow and pain finally assumed their rightful place. No. What they had done was not good enough. And if one had the power to put it to right it was one's duty to do so - for the sake of other towns, for the sake of humanity. And not least for the sake of the human being that was grace herself.

If there is any town this world would be better without this is it.

not my own