Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Tyranny of Design

In the landfill
My words a corpse
A topographical nightmare
Under the tyranny of design:
- a picture eats a thousand words
- it unlocks worlds too
next to Lacan,
my word!
my millenarian dream – us all in there together
until the necrophiliac speaks
a pummelling praise.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Anyone can draw a line.


A = < B = ^ C = >

D and E = some further mystical substance:

What makes X?

I draw.

Wrong order. Not too squiggly, not too spindly, straight through the axis. Use a ruler if you like.

Did you know Euclid constructed a theory of parallel lines?

The thing is, I can draw a line. I know it. Just the other day I had this discussion with the good Dr Smalling about the very subject. I even surprised myself with the sophistication of the regression, the erudition of analysis, as taut as someone who’d not only drawn a thousand lines, but who could imbed them in several meta-theoretical frameworks simultaneously.

In the end, we wait for the solidity to fashion itself from the distilled air hovering about the office.

That night I dream I trace a line to the moon, erasing it on the way down for some mad witness to consign it to the realm of myth, while I hoard it – in my distant tower like a bald man falling upon the secret to Rapunzel’s hair or – under my curved hat like a monk.

By the time I receive his next directive to send him a mock up of what we discussed, the steam has dissipated and the page is swollen with what looks to be a fetid standing pool of water.

I look for a reason. Maybe it’s because Dad used to tie my left hand behind my back. Maybe it’s more unconscious than that.

This must be what judgment is like. At the gates, the flames licking me perversely from behind, thinking the whole time I’m a shoe in for sure, my foot already in the door.

Now I administer lines, witnessing every single person attain glory out of the most self-evident incredulity, dreaming of vengeance like a sans-culotte.

Mom says certain people are fortunate enough to have the time and money and guidance to hammer out their youthful fetish for oriental trapezoids and Arabian triangles into something functional.

I say it’s the worst kind of dictatorship.

She doesn’t understand.

Walking in the sand, I come across a heaving cuttlefish.

I take my pocket knife and run it through until the black ink seeps over my hand like a broken oil rig.

Then I draw my masterpiece. I send it to him.

A magic wand.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Plain Colour

Threading through the litany of anti-totalitarian tropes that have, since the 1930s, reconfigured our very epistemic wall – Hayek’s economics, Arendt’s politics, Popper’s journalism – runs the thematic stitch of absurd Fate. For these theorists, Fate, defined in its original incarnation as a predetermined misfortune precipitated by an ambiguous and uncontrollable external force, is given an additional twist. At first, to someone like William Faulkner, whose body of work is drawn with the myths of the lost and collapsing American South, and thus predisposed toward Fate’s Grecian meaning – where lack or death is attributed to a transcendental entity – this modern understanding is incomprehensible. Fatalism is, as they say, inscribed in a Southerner’s very being. It can be said, and done so convincingly by Bertram Wyatt-Brown in his Southern Honour, that I, and I include my forebears in that letter, am historically subject to a passive totalitarianism, one ascribed to the whims of Nature or to God. When I endure some insufferable calamity, the end is out of my hands. Of course, to outsiders it could be viewed as very much in my hands – if I were born of certain stock or position (what Alain Badiou terms a part of no part) my very hands could be seen as the arbiters of my misery. Even still, Fate is written into my existence.

To totalitarianism’s active subjects, God doesn’t work in mysterious ways…man does. Defining something as Kafka-esque has come to signify the paradox of modern Fate. In The Trial, for example, Josef K suffers lamentably at the hands of a vile bureaucracy, which subsequently convinces him to search out his own guilt. Such too was the fate of many victims of Mao’s purges, faceless and often putatively innocent, yet singled out by the ravenous and philosophically convoluted conjurings of a dictator. In each case, the end is out of their hands and in someone else’s. Beyond the unreason involved in each character’s belief in a blackly magical State, without a technologically-sophisticated surveillance facility at its disposal, there exists for the doomed protagonist the additional psychological dementia that his/her fate is designed especially for them. Among many of the injustices befalling the sufferers in Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita are decapitation, prison, madness, eye-gouging, public nudity, and lost love. What is at work then, is an appearance, for the subject involved, of a one to one relationship between the individual and his tormentors. This type of Fate is much worse, since not only is our freedom usurped by an unjust oppressor, but we also start believing we have committed some, unconscious, crime. In addition, we lose the deflecting comfort that the ancient conception of Fate supplies. Whereas I may have been justified in saying, upon learning of the destruction of my entire family or community by war or natural disaster, “Life is cruel!”, it would seem perverse if a victim of totalitarianism, locked in a cell awaiting torture or death, excused their plight in the same casual way.

Astute as they are, one suspects something is still missing in these tales of total government. But what exactly could this be? We are told by Zizek (and Marx and Freud) that the secret to fetishism lay not in a mystical substance behind the object, but instead, within the process of the object’s construction. The truth of totalitarianism is for its subjects only. Yet when narrating such abstract matters, authors tend to leave out an external, real dimension, a space outside the totality - the place, to turn Marx on his head, behind the process. Indeed, in these scenarios the characters are trapped, along with their compatriots, in a single world. They busy themselves so much in the inner recesses that they never conceive of the potentiality of a third world. There may often be some latent notion of the outside or the West as a symbol of freedom but there is rarely mention of the conscious other side. And here is where the third and cruellest twist of Fate emerges. Instead of occurring within the bounds of a closed society, this once literary conception of totalitarianism is now an established by-product of the consolidation of national-democratic regimes. After all, even “K. lived in a country with a legal constitution, there was universal peace, all the laws were in force.” It is for immigrants in Britain where this all too terrifying reality trumps 20th Century fiction.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

In Weimar

Surely we have seen this anti-government hedonism, good clean family populism before. Maybe where the fascists went wrong was being so damned overtly violent. In desperate times of immigration and big (black) government, nothing is more threatening, then an Eisenhower-era, middle America family portrait.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Why Communism is good for Capitalism!

From everything I have been reading lately - namely, Niall Ferguson and Rachel Hope Cleve's Reign of Terror in America - I can only gather that the historical threat of revolution has been a great aid to the consolidation of democracy, humanitarianism and capitalism. It is clear then that what small d- democrats need in the run up to the British election is a good dose of secular atheistic violence. We need a real Bulgakovian devil threatening disappearance or land redistribution. Otherwise, we may continue with this voting parody and end up watching it all collapse on itself. And then what? Badiou says possibility, I say nightmare!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

War Journal Day 2957

Henry V

My king so great and grand
of Norman blood and Saxon heart
who crossed the channel into France
to save us from ourselves.

I beg of you one more task
to reforge your glorious sword
and lay it in the heathen's mask
Far beyond dear Agincourt.

Two more reasons to love the New York Times

1. "Yessir! Perpetual War" or 'WE can't handle the truth!'

"The New York Times learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials, who contended that making it public would end a hugely successful intelligence-gathering effort. The officials said that the group’s leaders had been unaware of Mullah Baradar’s capture and that if it became public they might cover their tracks and become more careful about communicating with each other."

2. Lookout! Democracy

Tea Party Movement Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right

One can think of more than a few autocrats who would love to have such a friendly fourth estate.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Songs that no one will hear

My Dear,

There always the good life
scrawled in ash
alone amongst the fawns
a breath finely drawn.

"I hope you find Old Mexico but I can't show you the way.
It's darker and treacherous right here at home but...
And surely you must see
the fortune before me
For that alone I make my way."

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Communist Stooge?

According to Labour MP Chris Bryant, all Eurosceptics are conservative stooges. Would that there were more commie stooges.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Ghosts now and then

Every morning. Palimpsests of fabrics – an inglorious mix of cotton, nylon, wool, rayon, polyester and plastic – strewn about the floor. Crescent, waxing and waning, pools of charred coffee running out like mice through uncountable arcane warrens. Starched collars and vein red and blue ties knife through disintegrating t-shirts. Wet boots at the foot of each hideous cropping. Little clowns them all.

The sink no different. Long and short, unwanted, black and grey hairs float about in fetid lakes of water. Toothbrushes leaning, like rotten stalks of corn in festering unworked holdings. The shower running. Clouds of steam gathering around burning lights.

Next, the phone. Its ancient sidecar traps the four same voices everyday. One comforting, another bruised and silent, the third and fourth playful and wailing.

“Please. Leave.”

The house silent in the afternoon. The baby an unkempt jejune pig in awe of his father. The towering figure’s once furrowed brow relaxed in sight of his child. Starless rooms kept just alive by the low-grade humming life-support of the many functioning appliances. The rest of the afternoon spent cleaning: amidst hopes of finding himself the next morning; alone.

The evening, a mix of discourse and silence. First, banal eulogies of the passed day. After, fits of outrage aimed television-ward. The news, of hypocrisy, immorality and untruth. His righteous rants fiery displays of ineptitude.

“Fucking government”

Exhaustion ruffling the bed sheets. The room lurching in anticipation of the visitor. The immaculate order portends a restless sleep. Father still alert.

Past midnight. Lilting trees trace their ominous outlines along the bathroom wall. The wife sprawled dead and numb, exhausted and happy from the slaughter. Drooping eyelids fend off her soporific breathing.

Early hours. His somnambulist fingers falling on a truncheon. He’ll hide in an indeterminate space behind the door. Timid ankles turning over. The venomous boudoir punctures his bilious head.

In the morning, the long-awaited solitude.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Children are YOUR Future

In the age of JS Mill, only interest can compel the individual – in the nomenclature of business, these compulsions are called incentives, the literary vocabulary of spectral state secretaries, carrots. What then of virtue? Surely it too must be driven by ends?

In a bid to upend the liberal virtues of murder and theft, leaders in the culture war have turned to their own brand of incentive-laden morality – children. Sometimes a national duty(think pre-world war threats, now reality, of the Orient overtaking the West in numbers), other times for sources of labour, still others an act of defiance in the face of population control measures, procreation is now for the parent’s benefit.

Before taking that not yet fully-formed innocent’s life, think of the fame, popularity, and esteem you may earn. Note the emphasis on earn, because creating a do-no-wrong, Heisman Trophy-winning, messianic pillar of holistic and mesomorphic health is no easy task. Break them. Socialise them. Do whatever it takes. If you fail, you may have a fat, magic the gatherer on your hands. Or worse, they may be poor. Either case, it’s ultimately your fault.

If you can’t create the ideal, try second best, a soldier. At least then you’ll be responsible for saving lives vicariously through your offspring’s soul-taking of other far more deleterious creatures.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Ideolotik 0: How to Say Absolutely Nothing

At dinner last week amongst the cognoscenti, I witnessed the horror of democracy’s interpersonal vacuity. Awkwardly juxtaposed between specialists, experts, and academics of all stripes, I, still an amateur, found myself frozen in my inability to engage in the simple, free and open discussion. Having hid in the open behind smacking gums and other ameliorants long enough, I wished for someone - Tito, Amin, Chavez, damn near anyone - to come and clampdown on this hideous institution of free speech.

To my awe, the conversation instead continued at full bore, shifting to the dreaded democratic deficit debate. Ordinarily framed within the context of the European Parliament, democratic deficit is supposed to gauge the level of disenfranchisement amongst Europe’s variegated citizens. Pro and anti forces, Hix on one and Moravscik on the other, both believe in its general Existence,

The Arguments: a. it does exist, and it does matter; Europe needs politics –Or- b. it does exist, but it does not matter; Europe is only a supranational administrative state.

The illustrious legal colleague to my right proposed a third frame thusly: as long as there is government, there will be those who disagree with it or c. it exists, it may or may not matter, but it is a subjective fact of politics. The problem with the concept itself, he argued, is that it explains Nothing.

Upon further retrospection, I, the mirror as my witness, staged an intervention après coup. These tiny glass shards are what remain:

Indeed, the democratic deficit explains Nothing. The more words exchanged expose three theoretical lies:

One, any talk of a deficit presupposes an extant, therefore recoverable, idea.

Two, pure democracy and administration are possible.

Three, free speech can mask the abyss.

Some other impersonal examples:

1. In Dark Continent, distinguished Columbia Professor Mark Mazower(another dining partner), in alleged opposition to Eric Hobsbawm (Age of Extremes), asserts that the real struggle in 20th Century Europe was that between democracy and Fascism, before examining, in detail, the 70 year struggle between liberal democracy and communism (with a powdering of Nazism in between). In other words, as much as plebeians and elites, low and high, attempt to codify fascism (the radical right or its plus contents), as democracy’s dialectical abyss, the real Beast is the Left.

2. Since the financial crisis, in an effort to prove democracy’s existence via free speech and increased tolerance, the populist Right is given a mass media voice. The Right is naturalised as a genuine expression of frustration and anomie. Anti-immigration and anti-black presidents are rational, if abhorrent, responses. The two are reciprocal: democracy can level its violent excesses; the Right can prove democracy exists. The head of the British National Party, Nick Griffin is given a TV audience. The Tea Party movement dominates the American political scene.

3. Lee C. Bollinger publishes Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open: A Free Press for a New Century.

4. Democracy continues…

April 13 2009 Baltimore Sun (Obama’s 4th Month) Unofficial Opposition

April 15 2009 Wall Street Journal Unofficial Opposition

April 15 2009 CBS News Unofficial Opposition

September 12 2009 Fox News (Obama’s 9th Month) Unofficial Opposition

December 16 2009 MSNBC News (Obama’s 12th Month) Unofficial Opposition

5. March 20 2003

Iraq’s 2nd Year (Other Countries) NY Times, Official Opposition

Iraq’s 4th Year (USA) CBS News, Official Opposition

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Heritage Card

Bobby Knight's Gary, Indiana Plessy Ferguson's defeated the Atlanta Self-Haters in dramatic fashion yesterday to secure the first ever WOBL(White's Only Basketball League) championship. Finals MVP Chris Mullin scored a game high 6 points to go along with 6 assists, 2 box outs, and 3 taken charges while hard-nosed, soft-spoken guard Bobby Hurley earned All Hustle honours for his basketball IQ and general mastery of the four corner offence.

Centre Jon Koncak had this to say: "I want to dedicate this victory to this once proud country and to the wider fallen idols of Western Civilization. The Kevin Love / Jason Williams combo is definitely a difficult ask. But in the end, I think we showed them the value of thrift, independence, and self-sufficiency. The fervent tea drinking, gun-permit holding, law-abiding crowd just goes to show that separate but equal really works."

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Dreams, Finally

“Hello?” a monotone voice sputtered inquisitively through his antediluvian mainframe.


“This is Gě”


“It has come to our attention that you have abandoned your post.”

“Oh,” Francesco Basso replied awkwardly.

“Si, um, I, I must have drifted off.”

He had a habit of drifting. There was nothing particularly impetuous in it.

“We also see that you have been in contact with several people in your area about a putative meeting. As you know this abridges any one person’s right to online access.”

“Yes sir” he returned with all the enforced remorse of an unwitting child.

“Return to your unit. The silencer will be dispatched immediately.”

Francesco abandoned the window - today projecting a quiet city block, yesterday Victoria Falls in South africa - and returned to his unit, slipping the rusted earpiece into his better right ear. He typed to his mother about not forgetting to eat something tonight. She had grown especially fond of one of B-G-M’s new programmes and had gotten into the habit of not eating very much. He was afraid she would soon altogether forget. He shuttered at this promise. Most had already succumbed to hunger.

Italy ran through his mind. He thought about football and how he would love to see a game. He knew it was impossible though since B-G-M had banned crowds some 12 years ago. Everything had become impossible.

“If only Il Duce were here” he reminisced.

“He would never have let this happen.”

His thoughts turned to his youth and how, even though all the other boys pined for some or another neophyte sexpot, he loved the older actresses. There was something about black and white. He remembered being swept up in the furore over Mozambique - how they, after all they had suffered, rejected B-G-M’s overtures. How they tried to turn B-G-M’s words in on themselves. He remembered thinking how stupid they all were. Now he wished he was somewhere in Maputo - somewhere with the barbarians.

“Francesco” the voice, calm and comforting, called out.

“Give us your hands.”

He slipped his fingers in the awaiting holster. It closed cold and tight.

He watched as each lopped finger slipped to the floor. The blood shone brightly in the sallow room. Knowing he would never speak again, he passed out content.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

War Journal Day 2922

In some ways, they’re perfect for one another. He, a scheming, skulking, obscene oaf of a man, dragging his knuckles to and from work.

Always a trail of blood. It is a wonder how he came to arrive at where he is today. That wobbly, stumpy frame hides no childhood. Some say it’s human nature. Others, capitalism. Neither quite suffice. He juts out unavoidable. At once both promontory - intractable, almost natural - and otherworldly. Nothing that sinister should be explained theoretically. Yet anyone who eats himself out of obscurity deserves pity. What other use could sediment have but to break things – backs, wills, skulls? He works in tandem with gravity. As if it needs any help.

She, a three-ringed acacia, stately and attractive from a distance, loathsome and shrill up close, withered and tender inside.

Always silence. She prefers to dominate more lithely, bloodless. More metaphysically. One feels it in the walls.

He, a rock. She, an undertow.

Neither understand the rules. One assumes that’s why they stare lustily out of the window of their smallish, Cumbrian cottage. He hates women. She has no creativity for love.

One day she’ll flagellate him to death. Then they’ll both get their way.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Cooking My Way through the Gooseberry Patch

The Gooseberry Patch. A single hectare of fertile land, bright blue skies overhead, perfectly-suited for self-reflection and honest-to-god bearing all. Its inspiration stretches in every direction, touches everything. Its very soil bears many delightful earthly treasures. Like the Mediterranean's black truffle or the Atlantic's sea scallop - tins of mushroom soup, succulent handfuls of processed beef, and flattened fingers of dried spaghetti are a plenty. Yet for all its wonders it can be a terribly lonely place. Sometimes I think of Linus' silent suffering but it only makes it more difficult to endure. What I need is community - a vast social network filled with candid and quirky souls. So with my shovel I dig up the spirit of the individual pioneers, oh pioneers, like Julie Powell. And neatly saddled I ride like Elvis on their backs to fame, fortune and notoriety.

Tonight we will dine on Country Meatloaf - a true favourite 'round these parts. Just get yourself a can of mushroom soup, a pound of ground beef, half an onion, your favourite C.S. Lewis title(I'll go with the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and in forty five minutes you'll feel the touch of god's divine hand.

When we're done, Diva's Live(borrowed from my Uncle Charlie) and a tub of Ben & Jerry's. What a perfect start to the Gooseberry New Year!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

War Journal Day 2915

The MET is promising us snow tonight. Here’s hoping it is more fruitful than my Christmas. An extra ejaculation at the frontier of this desolate new year. The final gracious, fleeting emulsion for our festive wounds. I will do anything for another day off school. Even speak in front of class. Something reddening. Normally I would rather die then do that. But times are drastic. I didn’t even get everything I asked for this year. All the other children have new appendages. In the year of the gadget I’m the last remaining human. An analogue vestige in the new metallurgic economy. What’s worse, my humiliation is compulsory. Tomorrow I’ll show them.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

My Dental Hygenist Says...

I need to floss more.

She is pleased with her newly upgraded digital x-ray machine.

Barack Obama is now vying to become the first ever European Union President.

The Euro will overtake the British Pound, US Dollar, Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen, and Swiss Franc as the only world currency.

In keeping with the hell-fire and brimstone thematic, according to the Book of Revelation, the Archbishop of Canterbury will depose Rahm Emmanuel and become the Antichrist's new right hand man.

The first order of business under the President's Leap Forward will be to cull the majority of the sick and elderly, thus reverting hu-man to a pre homo sapien state of savage nature.

I wonder if she really meant it when she mentioned she was sick to death of him.

I never was afraid of the dentist before.