1 CAN YOUR LAUGHTER
I was visiting an old friend (German recording engineer) and he played some video of a vintage German New Wave ’80s act that made an appearance for some recent special event, or other, all these years later… all the members in their fifties… and the front man was all over the stage, not dancing but doing what looked like an Attention Deficit Disorder Aerobics Workout routine. And the old friend said, admiringly, “What a front man!” The guy couldn’t sing or dance but he looked good in a blazer and he covered about 5 kilometers during the set. Not sure if I should blame Mick Jagger for that but leave it to Germans to carry it to new heights of anti-sensual groovelessness. I used to get mad at people who gossiped and joked with their circle of pals during gigs but what else could you do for an hour of that kind of shit, pay close to attention to it? But it amazes me how Tribal Rituals carry on long beyond the point at which they once made some kind of sense. From a sepiatone crowd of people battling the lethal miseries of life by watching a talented group of horny musicians in a smoke-filled shack playing the sexiest music of the century with skill, rage, ambition and existential abandon… to bored, well-fed, middle class Germans whooping at all the designated cues while bored, well-fed, middle class Germans go through the motions on a well-lit stage in an auditorium that doubles as a convention center.
Actually, that makes me think of when I first got here in ’90 and I went to a German “party”… all the lights on, it began and ended on schedule, quiet music a total mishmash (jazz, pop, classical, techno all on the same “mix tape”)… etc. The second time it happened I realized the first time wasn’t a fluke. And then I thought: “Aha, I get it now. They’ve been watching well-lit Sitcoms featuring party scenes with ambient music under the wooden dialogue!”
As the decadence sets in, the Simulacra shall replace all original values: unconvincing prosthetics for gangrenous limbs and organs.
Can your laughter now and save valuable time and money,
2 THE STUPIDITY (AND USEFULNESS) OF ROLAND BARTHES
Anyone (hobo, rollerblader, hooker or academic) can come up with a ridiculous theory, but it is given to a select few to come up with a ridiculous theory that ends up being taught in university courses, and even seeps into the outer territories of popular culture. The deciding factor is, invariably, to what extent a ridiculous theory can serve the interests of those in charge of the universities and in charge of the tools for disseminating faces, and catch-phrases, in the fishbowl of popular culture. Trends and fads, before the media age, would spread as far and as fast as feet could march, ships could sail or horses could gallop and were usually fiercely regional for quite some time and organic in nature. Before wanting to emulate Madame Pompadour’s hat a matron of the nouveau riche would need to know both what Madame Pompadour’s hat looked like and who Madame Pompadour was, but beyond the question of the details of the golden age mechanics of the transmission of this news, the trendy lady’s use of it would be organic, for whether or not we can understand the psychosexualsocio-essence of vanity or status anxiety, we can agree that neither is an artificial imposition from above. Rolande Barthes was no Madame Pompadour: how did he and his theories (which were not a fashionable hat) acquire fame and radiate influence? The answer to that question, my little lambs, is neither complex nor new nor terribly reassuring.
The Way-Dead Author
When the Techno Fascist Panopticon unmasks itself with a theatrical flourish, at the moment the cage slams shut, the phony revolutionaries, the fake resistance, the useful idiots who always pretended to be the voice of dissidence, will stand out among the crowd like peacocks, as though the slamming of the door has granted you second sight… mere moments too late. And the bulk of the music you embraced as a teen, the films you borrowed your shaky 20-something Aesthetic from, the books you carried like talismans from coffee shop to coffee shop and the paintings you stared at for all the answers you always assumed you were too provincial or young to come up with on your own… will become, in your belatedly instantaneous wisdom, repellent to you. You will finally see it all for what it always was. Bowie’s blonde supremacist presentation (spiced up with that colonial libido of his) will hit you like a ton of bricks. As will Spielberg’s kiddy-fiddling iconography and Man Ray’s and Robbe-Grillet’s nauseatingly violent woman-hatred. Suddenly you will see right through George Bernard Shaw’s and HG Wells’ and Gertrude Stein’s eugenic distaste for the vast majority of Humanity.
I had a friend, an ur-hipster, a Chomsky-quoting, Assange-licking, jazz-headed poseur who fell for the whole schtick; he even once praised the vacuous Neo LibCult figurehead Marina Abramovic in my presence; and this product of Brown University could not abide the word “Humanity”. If you deployed this de classé word in a conversation in his presence his lip would curl and his hipster breath would turn to the rank acetone of postmodern condescension. We can only wonder from which of his idols he picked up this tic. But what does it really mean when a human abhors the word “Humanity”? It means that he took to his anti-education like a fish to water. It means he thinks that people are a virus, a cancer, a scourge on the face of the Earth that needs to be wiped off of it. Not David Bowie, of course; not Bryan Ferry or Tom Waits or Miles Davis or Chet Baker or William S. Burroughs or Norman Mailer or Allen Ginsberg or Peter “The Idiot” Orlovsky or Jack Kerouac or Derrida or Michel Foucault or Noam Chomsky : these carefully pre-packaged “saints” and “heroes” and “cultural touchstones” (among them a wife-shooter , a wife-stabber and a member of NAMBLA) can stay. It’s the rest of us that need to go, eh?
If only there were a virtue-signalling way to combine Russian Roulette (a suspenseful little game even more compelling than the Death-Warnings on cigarette packs!) with Lethal Injection (a carceral cleansing)…
…and, well, as luck would have it…
4 A TOP-OF-THE-LINE MOVIE CAMERA in GRADESCHOOL
“James Wittenborn Johnson (born 1979) is an American heir, filmmaker, and socialite. He is a great-grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I (co-founder of Johnson & Johnson). He has also worked as a journalist and as a fashion designer.”
Johnson (a year older than my Son) is worth c. 600 million dollars in inherited wealth. In 2006 he made a documentary (the second of two) called “The One Percent”.
“The One Percent” conjures a protective soft-focus around the problem that turns that problem into a nugatory blur with all the kick of a booklet of aphorisms from Will Rogers. It appears to expose the foibles of the wealthy while also presenting the wealthy as producing a “conscience” in the form of the handsome young filmmaker and a few of his wealth-rejecting wealth-born peers. It’s interesting to note that one of these interviewed peers gave up his inherited wealth entirely (or so it seems) and another was disinherited but the filmmaker himself inherited his fortune not many years after the film was made. One does not doubt that a percentage of the interest on a chunk of the principal of some of his inherited wealth went into tax-incentive philanthropy (like the building of a half-finished school in Sierra Leone) and so forth.
The film is an excellent commercial for William Gates lll, who is seen championing legislation supporting the Inheritance Tax (a cartoon of a band-aid on the Niagara-wound of poverty, at best) though we now perceive a dim outline of how the notorious eugenics-minded Gates shaped his son, who is himself a co-shaper of our current predicament. Gates, much more clever and media-savvy than the other plutocrats, and their handmaidens (Milton Friedman himself turns in a particularly naked, self-shrinking performance) under the lens, uses this “tell all” to his advantage. Even the documentarian’s father comes off as nothing more than an impotent git with a giant inheritance and nothing to show for it. Yet, the documentarian’s doddering old disingenuous mother comes off as the smartest figure in the film, even smarter than slickly evil Bill Gates Sr, for, with no particular talent, wit, strategic military importance or even evidence of long-ago-faded physical beauty, she’s probably worth more than Paul McCartney… and she hasn’t had to touch her husband’s genitals since long before their offspring was first given a top-of-the-line movie camera in grade school.
The film appears to present the wealthy and super-rich as selfish, clueless and negligent, at worst, in their relation to the have-nots. In fact the problem is far more sinister: the wealthy despise the poor and define themselves as “elite” against the ignorance and powerlessness of the masses which the rich, themselves, have systematically inflicted upon them. The solution is not to give every poor person a million dollars (a “solution” that would only end up seeing a million dollars becoming the equivalent of a hundred dollars in no time at all), the solution is for the wealthy/ powerful to stop actively subverting the poor, to stop bamboozling, drugging , crippling, poisoning and murdering them. Foxes and chickens can live together, sure, but only to the eternal detriment of the chickens… even if the foxes are smart enough to refrain from eating all the chickens in one week.
Send the rich to their own fenced-in islands with their own island mansions and internal island economy and forbid them from intervening in the media, justice, politics, health care and food supply of the mainland poor.
1) Let the poor feed the poor, let the poor teach the poor, let the poor entertain and heal and clothe and house the poor. 2) Make all knowledge free. 3) Make and enforce a rule that no person shall market a medicine, food or educational product that he or she does not consume (directly or as the close relative of such a consumer). Everyone or anyone can be trained to build solid attractive housing and wire it and run the water filtration plants. The children of the poor can be trained to be great doctors, mathematicians, civil engineers, chefs… everything. The rich are not only unnecessary to the poor but a well-documented detriment to them. Any economic system is merely a game the members of that system agree to play; it is the current system, which is under the absolute control of the rich, that makes the rich what they are: the snake eats its tail and the more tail it eats the longer the snake grows. Remove the system and remove the rich. Any part of the world works not only just as well but better without the rich. Let the poor invent their own currency and pay themselves with it. Let the poor pay themselves to glorify themselves, as the rich have done for centuries.
The poor really don’t need the rich for a single thing.
Can the rich say that about the poor?
5 WRINKLES the VENGEFUL CLOWN
Think of all the resources that have been dedicated, in the past forty or fifty years, to perfecting Propaganda capable of dumbing down Duh Masses and rendering them into obedient consumers, unmindful of the planet’s as-is preciousness and the value of their own lives, forgetful of the needs of their souls. Think of how we have all been duped into dedicating every moment to the chasing of the twinned Mirage of Wealth and Status, emulating the very people who have brainwashed us. Now imagine those same resources going instead into the development of Programs capable of educating us all to the highest standard. Imagine how every TV show, Hollywood Blockbuster, pop song, subliminal message in a commercial, or glossy feature in a magazine, could have been an opportunity to Teach the widest possible audience instead of Bamboozling it. Imagine “brainwashing” people to Love and Create and Protect and Share. Imagine “Propaganda” aimed at making “The Masses” too clever to fool, too healthy to hate, too self-sufficient to beg and too free to cage. Imagine all that because I want you to feel a sense of loss and grief for the world we could all be living in today; the world that was stolen. I won’t let you forget.
Wrinkles the Vengeful Clown