1 SUGGESTIVE APHORISM of the WEEK
Perhaps if we paid the police directly, instead of giving the money to GOV, who then gives it to the police, there’d be less confusion regarding who they’re paid to serve…?
2 BECAUSE IT’S BEEN TOO LONG SINCE WE’VE TALKED ABOUT DELILLO
There are people who can’t see the trees for the toothpicks: among the lovers of book-loving there are those who think Plot is King or that Moral Instruction is Queen or that a downscale, gritty, near-illiterate lack of “pretension” is Duh Winna. None of these approaches are what a literate Hippie would call “Holistic”. The problem is the same with those who focus on The Sentence to the exclusion of the sentence’s actual literary purpose: the Transmission of Experience, lived and/or imagined. Call it TOE.
DeLillo mastered TOE during his Golden Age (post-White Noise, pre-Falling Man, with The Body Artist a disquieting omen of things to come)… because he balanced all the effects and forces just right; the wedding of Topic and Technique: perfect. You hear these characters’ voices and smell their lunches on their breaths and itch with their manias and phobias, too. Part of that is down to the postGrammatic magic of DeLillo’s Free Indirect (Cubist jazz) technique.
Underworld is a densely spongy masterpiece of TOE. Bronzini, Marvin & Eleanor, Manx Martin, Nick, Klara, Simeon Biggs… I know these people; I was these people. The fact that DeLillo is such a swaggering stylist that he can describe (Jackie Gleason’s) vomit as looking like “taupe pajamas” should not distract from his massive achievement; the taupe pajamas are an Aesthetic Bonus. James Wood is a hopeless rookie when it comes to writing fiction but so, too, are too many of DeLillo’s fans when it comes to reading it. The plot is not the point. Or it is when the plot of every DeLillo novel is finally recognized as this: “DeLillo is writing a novel”.
3 NEOLOGY of the WEEK
4 THE MAGNIFICENT AGONY of the ARTIST TWO KILOMETERS UP THE SHEER ROCK FACE of YOUR SERENE INDIFFERENCE
There’s a new kind of Hell, a place where everyone but you is fairly okay with basic conditions in that slightly dingy Mall full of nonstop slightly-too loud Muzak. Half-cooked frozen pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A little but not too much sand in your slippers and on the bed sheets on the cot you sleep on in the Mall’s sandy food court and sprinkled on your pizzas, too. The nonstop slightly-too-loud Muzak’s featured recording artist is buff, rich, cute, studiously cool, the son of showbizz royalty of the 1970s, not a bad singer but not a good one, not a bad songwriter but not a good one, so-so on guitar, some of the kids just love him. Everywhere you go in Hell you hear one of Lenny’s so-so productions playing or you see a video featuring Lenny’s glistening six-pack tapped or clawed contemplatively by a topless Dutch or Russian model no older than twenty three. It is of little importance whether or not Lenny fornicated with Doutzen or Irina or Edita before or after each video-shoot because he certainly did if he felt like it.
You are Andy Partridge in this Hell. Whoever you were before the Devil took you, you are now Andy Partridge, exquisitely attuned to the finest vibrations of the soul-slicing wires of your torment. You are a creative genius and a perfectionist who has mastered an interlocking array of techniques you employ to produce memorable work of consistently high caliber. Lenny’s six-pack quivers and contracts to the touch of a press-on nail in 4k. He is crooning again. Your hands over your ears can neither block nor muffle the sound.
6 THE TECH ISN’T THE PROBLEM
“I am with Edward Curtin in recognising that technology has enticed us into its web and perhaps led to our demise”
I think it’s more the matter that too many of us are duped, lulled into complacency, “educated” from the very beginning to believe that those in power have, in a paternal or maternal way, the best interests of those whom they “serve” in mind. Anyone with the far more accurate power-relations metaphor of Farmers vs Their Cattle, in mind, will remain leery of the motives/goals of The Farmers. The technology, in the case that the majority of us Serfy Cattle understood the power-relations accurately, wouldn’t be nearly the problem it actually is. But a trusting/ gullible/ infantilized consumer with a brand new i-phone is truly a lost soul and very much like a lamb with a remote-control-receiver wired to it. But imagine a population the majority of which would consist of clued-in, deeply rational, non-psychopathic, mature and un-dupe-able Masters of Their Own Fate… with access to 21st century communications and information technology! We’d have in that the mirror-opposite of current conditions and the end of History as we now know it. The tech isn’t the problem: even our decidedly low-tech, pre-Internet kindergarten teachers were bigger brainwashing-vectors than Twitter. Further: if your enemy is armed with sword-tech, you would be a fool, if sword-tech were also available to you, to eschew its use on principle.
7WHO ARE THEY?
Everyone, over the age of 35, with half a brain, knows what’s going on. It’s obvious. The Schemers barely attempt to hide the process as the global trap ticks shut. And in these frequent, sloppy and quite revealing glimpses behind the curtain of the sinister mechanism glints a dark promise and therein lies the twist: a substantial percentage of the population is not averse to being enslaved. The idea is comforting; it promises to be a sort of return to the womb. The Schemers insinuate, to the population that “counts “: you’ll be fed, you’ll be housed, you’ll have some status. Your needs will be taken care of. It’s extremely seductive. The kinds of people who want this to happen are very different from the ones who don’t. Are they (the ones who feel they might prefer being enslaved) the majority or just a significant minority?
One feels that if those who secretly (or not so secretly) want to be enslaved were the majority, the trap would already be shut and sealed, by now; the enslavement would be a fait accompli. It is hard work to drag the aggregate mass of humanity into that cage. We are kicking and grunting and straining against them. Perhaps it is only one leg that is giving out, going limp, useless in the resisting. The other three are not giving out; the shoulders and haunches, one feels, are strong. The beast is, largely, robust and stubborn and sanely full of hatred for the cage.
But what of the weak leg, the limp leg, the part of the beast that wants the cage? Who are they?
8 WIFE INVENTED A CATCH-PHRASE
NO SWEAT NO SWEETS
9 BILL HICKS
60% funny, 99% right
10 LAST LAUGH ON THE MORLOCKS
On September 10, Daughter called from school during a break and told us that she had been told by teachers that a nation-wide siren drill was scheduled to go off at 11am and could we please record it for her? Daughter is a creative type like us; maybe she’s making a film: I said “sure!” Checking online I found:
“For the first time in decades, all German disaster warning systems will be tested on September 10th, 2020. In the information age, there are many of those.
An incoming meteorite or asteroid, a military or terror attack, a blown nuclear power plant or the spread of a new virus: There are lots of disasters that could happen, at least in theory. When they do, people need to be informed and told what to do.”
Whatever, I thought… (would setting off a siren to signify the “spread of a new virus” make half a scintilla of sense? Who writes this shit? Or thinks it up?). A minute or two before 11am I set up a stereo flash-recorder in the garden and put a HD video camera in the bathtub, pointed toward the window (after opening the window) and let the recorders roll. After twenty minutes into the exercise: still no siren.
Checking online again, eventually, I found:
“In Berlin, however, the streets stayed quiet. The alert was distributed over warning apps and other similar measures because, according to Martin Pallgen, spokesperson for the city’s interior department, “there are no sirens here”. Berlin has not had civil defence sirens since the 1990s – the reason being that the city is too densely populated, and a siren in one neighbourhood would be audible in a neighbouring one, making it difficult to implement localised warnings.”
Aha, I thought. But the “spin” in this “explanation” is obvious (erm, the “density” of the neighborhoods has ramped up that much since the ’90s? Was Berlin largely pastoral, with widely-separated settlements, when I arrived in Nov of ’90? Laugh. Liars. I suppose that flats in large, densely-packed flat-blocks shouldn’t bother having doorbells for the same reason…?) The probable Truth: Certain authorities in the 1990s rationally assumed that all this Cold War fear-tactic mindgame bullshit was finally over and so they wisely and progressively dismantled the system. They wanted, at least, to provide a little pain-in-the-ass inconvenience for any future political psychos who might want to revive those mindgames and that is precisely what they managed to do. Those absent sirens were an effectively reverent moment of silence tribute to sanity.