THE RACE/ GENDER/ BODY/ BELIEF SYSTEM VICTIMOLOGICAL STANLEY CUP
What nobody really talks about is the stiffly vicious competition, in America, to be the biggest, most glorious victim in history. For a very long time, it was a neck-and-neck race between Black Men, Black Women and (a close second) White Women (with Asians traditionally keeping quiet on the topic, Jews weaving in and out of the picture as both discriminated-against and entitled and Native Americans remaining largely ignored). Then Gays, and various “disabled” people, entered the race: each felt his/her group could lay special claim to the Grand Prize in the post-war Suffering Sweepstakes of North America. Who’s the bigger victim of America’s discriminatory presets: a skinny, middle class Black American female heterosexual school teacher, or an overweight, unemployed White Gay male mime with a lazy eye and well-off parents? Tricky calculation there. Each considers the other to be “privileged” in some way.
Now Straight White Guys want to enter the competition, too, and they appear to be in it to win (with some taking the late lead by entering the competition as “Trans”). Ironically, while America still beats its chest and shouts to the world that it is NUMBER ONE, its many various citizens of every race, color, religion, gender, physical ability and class are demanding pity, fame, recompense and sympathy for having unendurably victmized lives. Well, which is it, Murkka? Is Murkka a Psycho-Capitalist Paradise of blessed perma-winners or is it a wailing shit-hole of hundreds of millions of suffering wretches, each demanding respect for the depth of her/ his daily travails and despair?
What Americans of every description don’t quite seem to get is that being liked and/ or admired is not a Civil Right (you have to earn such kudos, one interaction at a time, folks; they don’t come with your birth certificate) and that so-called micro-aggressions are actually the norm, between all people, even between people of the “same type,” because Humans tend to be self-absorbed buckets of arse who don’t quite get that everyone’s individual Human Rights can only exist in balance with everyone else’s Human Rights. That is to say, my “right” to listen to loud music conflicts with my neighbors’ right to peace and quiet (or, to make this personal, I once had an upstairs neighbor who was taking flamenco dancing instruction at home). Multiply that conceptual conflict by 7 billion et voila: WELCOME TO LIFE ON EARTH .
Not easy for anyone… but better than the alternative, I’m sure.
“SATIRE” v SATIRE
An esteemed Blogging Comrade (with a great curatorial eye) recently posted an essay regarding the structural ineffectuality of George Saunders’ Trump satire, “Little Saint Don”. As Edwin Turner puts it:
“Ultimately, Saunders’ genre distortions end up doing the opposite of what I think he intends to do. He wants the reader to look through a lens that turns history into fable, but that perspective assuages through distance, rather than alarming us. The ironic lens detaches us from the immediacy of the present—it mediates what should be slippery, visceral, ugly, vital, felt.”
With which I agree (and would add that Saunders’ failure to trouble the wound that is Trump, instead of inadvertently anesthetizing it, belongs to the same category of failure as Jon Stewart’s, and the Daily Show’s, failure to trouble the wound that was all the Presidents, and other figures of power, who came before Trump, sugar-coating bloody bones with mirth instead of laying them bare )… with the massive caveat that safely picking one of Hegemony’s many pre-approved targets, for satire, is, in itself, deserving of satire. That is to say: are we going to let Saunders, and everyone on his demographic team, get away with the blatant crime against logic, and historical fact, of pretending, self-servingly, that most of the evil shit Trump is getting up to, now, hasn’t been par for the course, in the Offal Orifice, for decades (if not centuries)…? Trump is anomalous in his unabashed tastelessness, certainly, but in his Evil? Ha.
So I left a comment satirizing Saunders’ satire:
What’s especially frustrating (if not largely tragic) about current conditions is how Trump appears to be working tirelessly toward frittering away every last radiant crumb of the former mountain of sheer good will (if not downright gratitude and admiration) that the rest of the world, until terribly recently (can it already be nearly two years…?) has harbored, in its many thirsty hearts, for America. America: a searing beacon in the despairing cold global night of injustice, corruption, oppression, oligarchic tyranny, genocide and profit-driven eco-molesting. America: that Jesus-kissed city on the hill… that capacious, angel-paddled life-raft… that from-Indians-given promised land of fancy dignity for the poor, high-tech protection for the weak and televised honors for the selflessly (even stubbornly) noble. What the Clintons and Obamas, and Bushes before them, polished to the flyest sheen on the purest expression of Enlightenment values and badass Secular Humanist Principles… Trump has dimmed, despoiled, desecrated and anathematized. All those tiny foreign lives that the Clintons and Obamas (and the Bushes before them) saved and improved, globally: Trump has snuffed with Caligulan glee. The Great Society that the Clintons and Obamas… and the Bushes before them… built into a platinum showplace of Free Speech, racially-sensitive policing, historic super-Hungerlessness and High Cultural achievement across every Class (even as those obsolete lines dividing the classes were fading like colored chalk in a divine cloudburst)… has been turned by Trump, virtually overnight, into a venal, tasteless, money-hungry, largely illiterate and armed-to-the-teeth Fuck Dump of Shit Stuff in a melted Cock Bucket. It’s scant consolation to know, at least, that only one word suffices to signify the sudden sickness at the heart of a once-gorgeous and high-IQ America: TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!
(Well, there’s some satirical shit for you.)
As ever, of course, the response to this compact chunk of trenchant Satyriconic insight was (satirically) … crickets.
BONUS TRIVIA FROM THE X-DIMENSION
—Glam Rock was invented by WW2. Almost all the famous British rockers born in the 1940s (from Jagger at the early end to Bolan and Bowie at the later end) were rather (or very) short with girly features and effeminate leanings… which, I believe, was a result of fetal malnutrition (somehow interrupting the hormone flash that turns half of all female fetuses to male, though how “Nature” maintains this approximate proportion is a mystery of its own). Calorie, vitamin and mineral poor Wartime rations for their moms, eh? No WW2, no Glam Rock.
— Da Doo Ron Ron (early ’60s teeny bopper hit from The Crystals) is a song about a boy’s presence repeatedly causing sexual excitement (producing vaginal moisture, aka “dew,” which “runs” down our heroin’s leg, presumably). Wiki says, “The song was composed over two days in Spector’s office in New York. The title “Da Doo Ron Ron” was initially just nonsense syllables used as dummy line to separate each stanza and chorus until proper lyrics could be written, but Spector liked it so much that he kept it.” But I’m not buying it. Somebody in Spector’s office was winking when they wrote that lyric… at the very least, it was Ellie Greenwich’s subconscious.
—Not many have noticed that the Motown pop soul hit Bernadette, recorded in 1966 and sung by The Four Tops, was strongly influenced by Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone (released in the summer of 1965): the identical headlong, run-on, epic declamation in the phrasing.
—I was astonished (and delighted) a few years ago to learn that the Richards/ Jagger song, Satisfaction, is about a guy wanting, and being frustrated in his attempt, to have sex with a girl on her (“losing streak”) period. Well, there’s a mixtape on the theme.
__Steven Spielberg, Thief
HOW TO COUNTER THOSE WHO INVARIABLY COUNTER CERTAIN “CONSPIRACY THEORIES” WITH “BUT HOW COULD THEY KEEP SUCH A THING A TOTAL SECRET?”
A) It isn’t a total secret, is it? We’re discussing it, aren’t we…?
B) “To understand how black projects began, and how they continue to function today, one must start with the creation of the atomic bomb. The men who ran the Manhattan Project wrote the rules about black operations. The atomic bomb was the mother of all black projects and it is the parent from which all black operations have sprung.
“Building the bomb was the single most expensive engineering project in the history of the United States. It began in 1942, and by the time the bomb was tested, inside the White Sands Proving Ground in the New Mexico high desert on July 16, 1945, the bomb’s price tag, adjusted for inflation, was $28,000,000,000. The degree of secrecy maintained while building the bomb is almost inconceivable. When the world learned that America had dropped an atomic weapon on Hiroshima, no one was more surprised than the U.S. Congress, none of whose members had had any idea it was being developed. Vice President Harry Truman had been equally stunned to learn about the bomb when he became president of the United States, on April 12, 1945. Truman had been the chairman of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program when he was vice president, meaning he was in charge of watching how money was spent during the war, yet he’d had no idea about the atomic bomb until he became president and the information was relayed to him by two men: Vannevar Bush, the president’s science adviser, and Henry L. Stimson, the nation’s secretary of war. Bush was in charge of the Manhattan Project, and Stimson was in charge of the war.
The Manhattan Project employed two hundred thousand people. It had eighty offices and dozens of production plants spread out all over the country, including a sixty-thousand-acre facility in rural Tennessee that pulled more power off the nation’s electrical grid than New York City did on any given night. And no one knew the Manhattan Project was there. That is how powerful a black operation can be.”
–—Annie Jacobsen, contributing editor for the Los Angeles Times Magazine
A SNACK IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE (from the various writings of Anaïs Nin)
“In the dark, naked, Marshall began to speak of my unreality, the mask of my smile. Then he spoke of how he did not feel my desire, how his other woman lover was so open about hers. I realized he was telling me what Staff tells me: my fear of rejection makes me elusive and makes my physical warmth invisible so that the man too is lost in this non-presence. I almost wept when Marshall said this, but he didn’t know it was fear which caused it—he thought it was merely a lack of substantiality.
“At this I began to caress him, arousing his desire with caresses of the mouth until he took me with cries of ecstasy. (I didn’t have time to respond. Oh, Anaïs.) With his hands on my body, as I still lay over him, he said: “You are the earth too, but the finest part of it. Not all earth is just black dirt, but there are the veins of precious metals. You are one of the finest veins of the earth.”
He got up. He put on music, and we took milk and crackers and cheese.”
“The old nightmare: a half of Gore represents my father’s standards—he admires the best dressed, the most beautiful, the highest achievements. This half frightens me. But Staff brought out the truth: actually Gore looks up to me, is proud of me, thinks of me as a beautiful woman of achievement. He brings his friends to admire me. They asked to meet me. The overwhelming mountain disappeared. Staff said: “Be yourself. You are the one these people are seeking out, even Cornelia. They are attracted by your richness.”
“I wept violently at the realization of my crippling illness. Incredible. The descriptive harshness I have towards myself, measuring myself by wrong standards.
“I became free and casual again.
I dressed in my peach Greek Recamier Empire dress, with a long black taffeta skirt which I slip over it, making the bust and shoulders very lovely, graceful. The crossed ribbons laced around the waist just below the breast. Hugo brought vodka, cheese and crackers.”
(imaginary) NEW YORKER CAPTIONS IN SEARCH OF A CARTOON
“We’re not in Kansas anymore, Tonto.”
“As generous as the offer seems, I’m not interested in having a spirited discussion regarding your impeccable taste in sconces.”
“He hasn’t said so in so many words but he appears to be intent on going through with it without my permission.”
“Remember the once-thrilling use of the double-negative in popular song?”
“I thought she was with you.”
“So that’s what they mean by ‘Free Range’.”
“Robert Frost said a lot of things. That doesn’t mean you have to do any of them.”
“When you called her a ‘grammar Nazi’ I thought you were exaggerating.”
“Liminal. There, I’ve said it.”
LETTERS FROM ENGLAND (old Friend and Professional Artiste, ET, hands me a sack of droll chuckles for the day)
I enjoyed your critique of James Woods’ Upstate which I stumbled across yesterday.
In his attack on post-modernism it seems to me that for all his “liberal” instincts Woods is remarkably similar to Jordan Peterson – cherry-picking information to suit his grand thesis, the over-emphasis of perceived threats in order to bolster said grand thesis. All served with a frosting of extreme self-importance.
I thought this https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jul/04/nicolas-winding-refn-apocalyptic-times-cult-movies-can-save-us-bynwr made a few interesting broad points despite all the ironies.
I liked his film Drive ( for all the abstract elements rather than the plot ) but if Refn isn’t one of the film-makers he’s complaining about in the article then I don’t know who is. He may not be a Hollywood hack but he’s not a Bresson/Bunuel/Tarr type director either.
(FROM SA TO ET)
My favorite thing about my latest Woody critique was its hilariously frank title, which, for me, as a reader would have been a selling point… but of course it allowed Woodyites to dismiss its (I feel) valid critiques without reading them.
Peterson makes me think of those pro-Family-everything Evangelicals who are eventually (inevitably) caught diddling choir boys in Burger King WCs. I know I hate it when people (probably) think the same thing about me but if that Peterson feller were any further in the closet (to quote myself from a recent flamewar) his ass would be hanging out over the driveway.
Re: that director’s fascinating inability to accurately identify which category/camp he actually belongs in: I saw “Animal House” the year it came out (was that ’79 or so?) and if you haven’t seen it, it’s a John-Belushi-enriched college farce about Conservative Jocks (the villains) at war with Hip-and-Lovable Fuck-Ups (with whom we are meant to identify). I saw it with a high school buddy after we had both left home for college and he brought two friends with him… who looked like they had stepped right off the screen. Conservative Jocks wearing blazers, square jaws and buzzcuts. Of course they were cheering for John Belushi and his gang. Did my head in.
I tend to favour the Odilon Redon approach. Look normal but never let that normality intrude into the art you make.
I usually think the art I make is a bit too tame as well and am often genuinely surprised when people tell me how weird I am. And here I am complaining about a lack of self-awareness.
Re: Jordan Peterson. somewhere on Twitter there’s a thread by a marine biologist wondering why Peterson chose lobsters to demonstrate his theories of male/female relationships when there’s a whole range of far more out-there male/female dynamics in other species.
I suspect you’ve hit the nail on the head in your assessment. He seems to have a lot of Soviet paintings of physically idealised agricultural labourers/bodybuilders hanging in his house.
His excuse being that they remind him of what he is against. Translation: they remind him of what he’d like to be against.
(FROM SA TO ET)
“I usually think the art I make is a bit too tame as well and am often genuinely surprised when people tell me how weird I am”
I think we’re both examples of people who are as weird as one can get without actually smelling bad and/or keeping terrible secrets that will only be revealed posthumously, while the deep-freeze is being cleaned out… right? Right?
“He seems to have a lot of Soviet paintings of physically idealised agricultural labourers/bodybuilders hanging in his house.”
Fell out of my twirling chair, larfing. Spun around on the floor awhile, too… knocking over my teetering stack of Tom of Finland coffee table books.
“they remind him of what he’d like to be against.”
More fascinating than Peterson are his slavishly self-righteous followers. And also the slavishly self-righteous followers of other conservative YouTube pundits. Also the slavishly self-righteous followers of various pop stars/ actors/ Instagram personalities. Tens of Millions of people utterly (violently) devoted to a random grab-bag of flashing lights, jingles and catchphrases.
If anyone was ever thinking of some kind of revolutionary movement to put an end to top-down Techno-Capitalist tyranny by uniting The Masses around secular Humanist values of common sense, individuality, free thought and compassion for others, whatever their looks or beliefs… he or she probably should have got that done in the late ’70s.
(FROM ET TO SA)
There was a film about Tom of Finland in the cinemas last year. I saw the trailer which was very droll – at the end after the credits had quickly appeared onscreen it said “Coming soon”. The whole cinema fell about laughing.