The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Monday, May 31, 2004

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The FOUNDER AND ONLY MEMBER OF SCUM
Ah, to be Valerie Solanas and to truly be an army of one. (Boston Globe) No-one could have joined her, because she hated everyone, and it was from that hatred that she drew her power to write the SCUM manifesto and to shoot Andy Warhol. (Solanas on hippies: "He's way out, Man! . . . all the way out to the cow pasture where he can. . . breed undisturbed and mess around with his beads and flute.") She might have been a feminist, but there's not much in the manifesto to suggest that she likes women much: there's the Daddy's Girl, who Solanas despises "passive, adaptable, respectful of and in awe of the male, allows him to impose his hideously dull chatter on her," and then there's the Groovy female, who's close to being liberated, but who is not really that great either ("Even amongst groovy females deep friendships seldom occur in adulthood, as almost all of them are either tied up with men in order to survive economically") despite all the nice things Solanas tries to say about her " The true artist is every self-confident, healthy female, and in a female society the only Art, the only Culture, will be conceited, kooky, funky, females grooving on each other and on everything else in the universe." And then there's "When genetic control is possible -- and soon it will be -- it goes without saying that we should produce only whole, complete beings, not physical defects of deficiencies, including emotional deficiencies, such as maleness. Just as the deliberate production of blind people would be highly immoral, so would be the deliberate production of emotional cripples. Why produce even females? Why should there be future generations? What is their purpose? When aging and death are eliminated, why continue to reproduce? Why should we care what happens when we're dead? Why should we care that there is no younger generation to succeed us." Valerie Solanas: someone you never had to ask to tell you what she really thought.



[P.S.] As a bonus here's Luke Haines's fantastically nasty song about how closely Andy Warhol's art theories makes him a crucial part of Solanas's attempt to assassinate him. I swear the lyrics actually sound intelligent when there's music.
(Mr and Mrs Solanas) Cordially request the pleasure of your company
To celebrate their marriage
(Mr and Mrs Solanas) Would like to say you're gathered here today
To pay for your lives, lived in fear and in pain

They carried the artist to the hospital; he was still breathing
I proposed to the assassin almost immediately

(Mr and Mrs Solanas) Request the company of Guy Debord
Michele Bernstein, Raoul Vaneigem
R.S.V.P Solanas, star in our wedding video
We dare you to show us your stigmatas

(Mr and Mrs Solanas request the company of...)
Errand boy in high society
Cacographers to the gliterati
Mother, father, thank you for attending
Drink to our happiness, toast our wedding
Folk singers preaching accidental murder
Taunting this gathering of Judas collaborators
Brothers, Sisters, friends and family
We accept your gifts, we accept your cowry

So let bygones be bygones and come to our wedding
I'm not a twisted sociopath, everybody's forgiven

(Mr and Mrs Solanas) Adopting a sick child
As an art experiment in oil and menstrual blood
(Mr and Mrs Solanas) Educate the child in matters of perceived wisdom
Good taste and love

It's unhealthy to be spiteful, it's good to be wise
Always the bridegroom, Always the bride

(Mr and Mrs Solanas) Insist that you attend the brunch meeting of this society
For cutting up marriage
(Mr and Mrs Solanas) Enclose a wedding list
So be tolerant, be persistent, don't give in

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And, OF ALL PEOPLE, UPDIKE ON IRAQ
"Going in seemed risky. Everyone held their breath - the average American did not know why we were entering an area so terribly fraught, hard to predict and control. I am not sure it is a horrible botch yet. I think George Bush, whatever his views, has to think of going back to Texas and letting someone else see if they can do better. This is not a good time to try to establish an empire and control the destinies of other countries" Guardian

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Galbraith ON IRAQ
"In some ways, I think the great days of the U.S. may be past. In Iraq, we have seen a great diminution of our international position. If we continue to give support to military operations around the world, and intervene in nations, our influence will weaken. But if we can be genuinely humane -- with a large interest in the economic well-being of other countries -- there is no doubt our prestige will be enhanced." Business Week

Thursday, May 27, 2004

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Hey HEY E.L.D. HOW MUCH PROSE DID YOU MASSACRE TODAY
Students and parents heckled E.L. Doctorow, demanding that he cease butchering the innocent reading public with Hallmark cards the length of novels. Is the tide turning? Can Tobias Wolf be next? O, wait, they were just booing because he said some heavily rhythmical vapid comments against Bush. WaPo

O Christ, EL heard that, he's looking my way....

"Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go."

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh

"We dress them [children] in the presumptions of the world. They are the bright small face of hope. They are the last belief we have, the belief in making them believe."

Mercy, EL, mercy!

"They are not good stories the president tells."

I go from this good earth. Send no money and no flowers. Just get the bastard.

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Read ME
"The successful memoirist is the one who explores self in ways in which others can see perhaps a glimmer of their own selves and who retains throughout the redeeming quality of self-deprecation. " (WaPo) No. The successful memoirist is a fraud who exaggerates his or her role in the universe so convincingly that the universe seems wrongly proportioned afterwards. Who cares about butterflies? Anyone who's read Speak Memory or Pale Fire. Why? Because Nabokov convinced us that butterflies are the most important interesting things in the world, apart from chess. Nabokov's prose makes his hobby seem like serious stuff and the world that doesn't understand his hobby look ridiculous. Similarly, when you read what he writes about his Pushkin translation you think the translation's the best translation of Pushkin better. Even the extreme awfulness of the translation, and the agony of reading it, can shake that belief.

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Ah, I SEE
As you right the song,so shall you reap the exegesis: 'I can't think of a better summation of Avril Lavigne than her exegesis of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic": "I love how this song was written with all the different examples Alanis uses of things being ironic."' Slate MacLamity believes that Levigne is the one who wears a tie and carries a skate board but how can he know, what with kids these days?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

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Silent HEADS
Some previously unseen Warhol portraits. The one of Michael Jackson uncannily predicted what would happen to that face. The one of the Shah is horribly neutral.

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Like PUSHING DUST INTO DAVID
MacLamity was so struck by the similar dilemmas raised by this article on
washing Michelangelo's David and this article on Cortazar's translator that he's unable to decide whether translating a book is like cleaning a statue: it's impossible to tell where the dirt ends and the statue begins or whether cleaning a statue is like translating a book: it will fail if it strives for a likeness of the original.

[P.S.] Cortazar is a classic example of a famous Belgian, in that he's famous but not known to be Belgian.

[P.P.S.] French readers show off their superior knowledge of French and English, and give minute criticisms of Le Monde's translation, with a fervor for accuracy in all languages that is unimaginable in Anglophone readers (MacLamity disagrees with the "Numerique" guy, unless numerique in French really is the alternative to analogue. But "Je suis malade. Et je suis las de mentir" is pretty funny.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

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What ABOUT: A CLOWN WHO ISN'T FUNNY
Le Monde buys the Michael Moore myth, wears the T-Shirt, gets the DVD just for the extras and gets an extra Michael Moore myth for a friend. Le Monde If it was written in English, I imagine it's exactly how Michael Moore understands himself. But, even if you like him and his movies, he's creepy in his reverence for himself. It is as if St. Francis was a member of the Franciscan order.

Monday, May 24, 2004

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If I DIDN'T KNOW THIS ABOUT HASSELHOFF
I don't deserve to know anything. (BBC )

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We're NOT LIKE THOSE CONTINENTALS ... YET
MacLamity's a pretty open-minded guy. But he hasn't yet stopped staring in fury and outrage at Spanish deoderant ads which have full-body, nipply nudity at a time when children are eating dinner. MacLamity applauds Britain's censors, therefore, for saying "Ix-Nay" to filth. Guardian

[P.S.] MacLamity's in a dilemma though. He can't decide which is the more disturbing sentence: "For free-loving Eurocrats, an image of a breastfeeding baby seemed the perfect way to promote the joy of voting in the European elections" or "Cinema body rules image of breastfeeding baby 'too sexual." Thoughts? Can we help it if Britain's censors get turned on by breast-feeding? They're the perverts, surely! Not us.

[P.P.S.] "Flustered British censors ... Prudish British censors ...The removal of the nipple is another blow to the hope that the British will eventually adopt grown-up attitudes towards nudity ... The buttoned-up behaviour of British censors." This poor Guardian writer's really struggling against the constraints imposed against objectivity, but not struugling that hard.

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"GO-ji-ra GO-ji-ra GO-ji-GO-ji-GO-ji-GO-ji GO-ji-ra"
I've said it before and I'll say it again. David Edelstein is not the best movie critic. But, now that Kael's gone, noone has better explanations for why trashy movies can be so good. Slate

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I AM A FEMALE DONUT
As all those who feel superior and wear glasses know, when JFK spoke in German to reassure a city surrounded by communist tanks he said "I am a donut," ie. these were not very reassuring words, given the context. MacLamity doesn't know a word of German beyond Verboten and Dasein, but it seems like JFK II's daughter has repeated the error. Or is it an error? At some point a phrase is strong enough to reorganise a language, like Think Different did, like We Are a Grandmother did. AP

Friday, May 21, 2004

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No SEX PLEASE, THEY'RE FRENCH
The New York Times asks what happened to all the great porn in French art? The NYT The Times seems incredibly disappointed that the French no longer offer you an excuse to get some vicarious sex. But, for me, the question about French literature is: What happened to all the post-modern gaming? What happened to the kind of French literature and cinema of the 1960s and 1970s which was typified in books by Robbe-Grillet, Raymond Queneau and (my hero) Georges Perec and in films by Jean-Luc godard? The only person who does anything like that is Marie Darrieusecq: who has not become famous in English, or at least not as famous as the third great Ecq of French contemporary fiction Houellebecq.

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Euro TRASH
MacLamity is that classic product of post-modernity: the guy who lives in Brussels, comes from England, has a Spanish girlfriend, and nevertheless spends most of his time decouncing European integration (see also the German leftist quoting Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky, and singing Joan Baez when protesting American cultural imperialism.) But then, living here, you can't help but wonder what the commission does to people. I am, in fact, quite extreme in that I'm for a federal Europe. But I am against it if it's to be performed by 1% of the continent's population who are convinced that they know better than anyone else. Their stupidity lies there. They are charging enthusiaistically nowhere. They have developed a form of bureaucratic language which they find impossible to avoid when talking to people. They then get upset when people don't understand them. They are incapable of understanding criticism as positive. It can only be a form of backward nationalism. Whatever the commission and the parliament do is what is good for Europe.

Which leads to this handy list of Euromyths from the Commission's press office in London. Some of the lies about the EU are particularly outrageous. But the rebuttals I want to draw attention to are the ones where the commission proves the accusation without realizing it, either through a mad focus on the institutional process of the EU, or by denying that its stupid, or :
Myth: Bar staff should wear earmuffs, according to an extraordinary proposal by a Euro-MP.
Response: This is another example of the press trivialising an important area of EU legislation [...]

Myth: Brandy butter is to be renamed 'brandy spreadable fat'. According to an amendment to EC regulation 577/97/EC to take effect from September, a sliding scale of labelling requirements will be required permitting the use of the term butter for products which are at least one third dairy fat.
Response: Accurate labelling is required to ensure that dairy products marketed throughout the EU inform customers and protect the interests of producers in order that butter substitutes or margarine, for example, cannot be passed off as butter. Account has to be taken of traditional products such as brandy butter. Normally, for these products to be called "butter" they should contain 75 per cent milk fat. However, products like brandy butter cannot be made with this percentage of milk fat. A 1997 regulation sets out the products that can be exempted from this norm. It defined 'Brandy Butter', in addition to 'Sherry Butter', or 'Rum butter', as a sweetened, alcoholic product with a minimum fat content of 34 per cent. It later emerged that some UK producers were planning to produce butters with other alcohols so an amendment was made by Regulation in March 1998 to broaden the definition to all alcoholic butters with the 34 per cent minimum. An amended regulation of 1999, making special note to traditional UK produce, reduces to 20 per cent the amount of milk fat required. British consumers can be sure that brandy butter really is what it says on the packet, and not a cheap substitute.

Myth: Farmers throughout the country have 90 days to put a toy in every pigsty or face up to three months in jail. The new ruling from Brussels, which is to become law in Britain next week, is to keep pigs happy and prevent them chewing each other.

Response : Under EU law pigs must be given ‘manipulable material’ to fulfil an important behavioural need. Examples of such materials given under the directive are straw, hay, and compost – there is no requirement for pigs to be given toys! Inspections and penalties for non-compliance of legislation are the responsibility of the Member State. In the UK, the Horticulture Marketing Inspectorate is in charge of inspections. Produce inspected that does not conform to legislation is either regraded (if possible) or withdrawn from sale. It should not be forgotten that all these norms have been demanded and requested for years by the industry and by the retailers. The Commission will continue to monitor this area for potential problems, but has no evidence that current EU standards are affecting the marketing of organic produce.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

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Iraq AND THE RESURRECTION
David Hockney: "People don't know how to look at pictures any more. Piers Morgan, the Mirror editor, argued that these may be reconstructions, but they are still showing you something true. Well, you can't actually quite take that line. You might just as well say that Piero della Francesca's 15th-century fresco of the risen Christ is evidence of the Resurrection. I'm pointing out there is no reason why you should believe anything any more in a photograph than you do in a painting. You should believe more in paintings, actually."Telegraph:

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Times WERE HARDER, MEN WERE HARDER
The Asian guy actually looks more comfortable in his prison gear. The Smoking Gun

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My MOTIVES, LIKE THESE BREASTS, ARE PURE
"Far from being a sign of tawdriness ... breast exposure during the 1600s could indicate a woman's virtue. The exposure of the breast was a display of the classical and youthful beauty of the woman — she was showing her 'apple like' unused Venus breasts. This was a display of her virtue, her beauty, and her youth. Upper class women maintained the quality of their breasts by not breast feeding their children and passing them on to wet nurses."
Discovery Channel. Baby jeez, baby, calm down. Sure. Yes. OK OK OK: I was looking at her ... breasts. But her breasts qua symbols of virtue! A man can check out the virtue on a girl without having his head bitten off, can't he? This is the 1500s! It's a free country. O no, look at the VIRTUE of HER. They're, i mean... it's... ENORMOUS. OK, baby. Yes I'll shut up. Yes, let's go shop for towels.

Monday, May 17, 2004

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Suicide IS PAINLESS
and funny! "Did you notice any warning signs?" "I was in my room!"

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Oh GOOD GOD HOW AWFUL
Clearly The Times has no clue about financial journalism: "Charging into the office at 9.29.59, without a clue about what's going on, will not be helpful or acceptable," its editor tells its reporters. (The Gaurdian) What? She added "immortal words from the man who created Fox News - 'Negative people make positive people sick'. So think positive!" The Horror!

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I've never see the smirk on John Updike's face say anything other than "Yes. The John Updike. It's a pleasure to meet me!"

Sunday, May 16, 2004

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Past THE SELBY DATE
I went into the hospital in 1946, with advanced tuberculosis, and altogether I spent three and a half years in the hospital. By the time I got out I had had 10 ribs removed, one lung collapsed, a piece of the other one removed, and there were some severe complications from an experimental drug that was used to keep me alive. During these years I was given up for dead several times. One doctor told me that I could not live, I just didn’t have enough lung capacity, and I should just go home and sit quietly and I would soon be dead. Now, I am blessed with a rotten attitude, and my response to statements of this nature is, Fuck you, no one tells me what to do!
But even if death doesn't tell you to do much, it gets its way eventally. Selby on why he writes in the LA Weekly, Boston Globe's assessment of Selby: when vulgarity was still vulgar

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Hard CORE
"The gay divide: Protesters on both sides of the gay marriage debate meet outside the Statehouse in Massachusetts," explains Newsweek in a caption. But. Where's the gay side? Is it the guy dressed as a policeman, a la Village People? I'm under the impression that he's a real police man. Although that doesn't mean he's not on the gay side of this debate! O, life is so confusing.

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Or GET HER OFF HER HEAD
Wait, is that a joke coming from 'Left Behind' author Jerry Jenkins's mouth? "'I was in Sam's Club the other day, standing behind a woman carrying a copy of 'Left Behind' in one hand and a fifth of whisky in the other. Something was going to put her to sleep that night.'" It looks like a joke. Truly, the end times are strange. Newsweek.

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Who GAVE ME FREEDOM?
A reminder that messianic views are not new coming from a U.S. president from the WSJ. Truman: "Steadfast in our faith in the Almighty we will advance toward a world where man's freedom is secure." JFK: "the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God." Wilson: "America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other." And finally, GWB: "Freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world."

Just two things: talk like this worked well against Commies, as the WSJ points out, but it works horribly against Islamic fundamentalists. The whole point of freedom is that it applies equally to the atheist, muslim and christian. The second thing is just to point out that while it might be usual for Presidents to cite God as the source of all liberty, that there is an equally strong American tradition, which is in danger of eclipse, of finding other sources of freedom. Namely the people. Noone puts it better than Tom Paine, even if, as I think he didn't, he rarely used the words freedom and liberty:
Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilised community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost everything which is ascribed to government.
To understand the nature and quantity of government proper for man, it is necessary to attend to his character. As Nature created him for social life, she fitted him for the station she intended. In all cases she made his natural wants greater than his individual powers. No one man is capable, without the aid of society, of supplying his own wants, and those wants, acting upon every individual, impel the whole of them into society, as naturally as gravitation acts to a centre.

But she has gone further. She has not only forced man into society by a diversity of wants which the reciprocal aid of each other can supply, but she has implanted in him a system of social affections, which, though not necessary to his existence, are essential to his happiness. There is no period in life when this love for society ceases to act. It begins and ends with our being.

If we examine with attention into the composition and constitution of man, the diversity of his wants, and the diversity of talents in different men for reciprocally accommodating the wants of each other, his propensity to society, and consequently to preserve the advantages resulting from it, we shall easily discover, that a great part of what is called government is mere imposition.

Government is no farther necessary than to supply the few cases to which society and civilisation are not conveniently competent; and instances are not wanting to show, that everything which government can usefully add thereto, has been performed by the common consent of society, without government.
And on religion and government, and on how anti-religion can become like religion:
I HAVE mentioned in the former part of the Age of Reason that it had long been my intention to publish my thoughts upon religion; but that I had originally reserved it to a later period in life intending it to be the last work I should undertake. The circumstances, however, which existed in France in the latter end of the year 1793, determined me to delay it no longer. The just and humane principles of the revolution, which philosophy had first diffused, had been departed from. The idea, always dangerous to society, as it is derogatory to the Almighty, that priests could forgive sins, though it seemed to exist no longer, had blunted the feelings of humanity, and prepared men for the commission of all manner of crimes. The intolerant spirit of Church persecutions had transferred itself into politics; the tribunal styled revolutionary, supplied the place of an inquisition; and the guillotine and the stake outdid the fire and fagot of the Church. I saw many of my most intimate friends destroyed, others daily carried to prison, and I had reason to believe, and had also intimations given me, that the same danger was approaching myself.

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The ATHENS OLYMPICS IS GOING TO BE A COMPLETE FUCKING DISASTER
Part IX: Some media outlets just won't stop reporting on what a fucking disaster it's going to be. Has Rupert Murdoch declared war on Greece? After the Times 's latest sensational scoop, chronicling the ease with which two of its journalists breached Olympic security, many Greeks are asking just that... Friday's Times continued the campaign, with a page three lead reporting Greek outrage - and implicitly justifying its own coverage - of the security 'lapse'. Now that it has become part of the story - the public order minister formally protested to the British ambassador about the coverage on Thursday - Greeks are also asking whether this was the intention all along. From The Oberver

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Hot YOUNG FAR-RIGHT GIRLS
An assignment: Jennifer Griffin makes two. Find a third far-right European nationalist party which, like LePenists (or, cryptically, Lets encircle penis, 9 letters) and like the BNP, have found a young, attractive daughter as their poster child. Discuss. Areas of discussion might include but are not limited to: a desire to counter masculinist stereotypes of fascists, the history of females in fascism (Heidegger was a bad nazi, yes, but when you read about Mrs. Heidegger you see how much worse Heidegger could have been) as ardent, vociferous supporters of fascism who DEMAND MORE EFFECTIVE DOMINATION, ugly male fascists voting for these women as a hopeless attempt to impress them, trying to reconcile the dissonance inherent in a movement dedicated to the MOTHER country and the sanctity in the family, which nevertheless has only pseudo-father-figures as its leaders, and anything else related. 20 points. Please justify answers.

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You DANCE WITH THEM WHAT BRUNG YA
Nothing like a fund-raising feature to make your stomach churn.
WaPo

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We ARE ALL NOT AMERICANS NOW
Le Monde's uncertainty over the citizenship of TOUS goes on. We were all Americans as of Sept. 11, 2001. Now we're back to all not being Americans again. Le Monde

Thursday, May 13, 2004

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The AP AT ITS BEST
Love, thy name is J-1 AP

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More ON FAKENESS
The frisson you feel when you touch a diploma that comes from an actual university is real. But, as charles Murray, would say, the frisson is entirely irrelevant. Diplomas from fake universities are just as good. And 28 people in the U.S. government agree! Wired News

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Right ON
On two occasions when I was at Stanford, students who studied for three months in Ozford would tell me with bemusement how the airport police had stopped them at Heathrow and taken an hour to process their visa application. A whole hour! I'd tell them without bemusement that that seemed quite pleasant to me. An hour, after all is less than two months. It doesn't involve unearthing tax returns and all forms related to me since i was 10. Actually, I had an OK experience with the INS. Which is to say it was humiliating and awful overall, filled with uncertainty and constant reminders that you shouldn't be here and should just leave. But it can be worse. Slate

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

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I'm stunned that Tarantino's familiar with Carry On movies. Is there anything the guy didn't watch.

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D.O.U.O. S.V.A.V.V.M. O DAN BROWN WHERE ARE YOU WHEN WE NEED YOU?
What do these letters, etched beneath a mirror-image Poussin painting in an English mansion, mean? (The Independent) Some answers:
the first and last letters ('D' and 'M'), which sit slightly beneath the other letters, are initials for the Latin Diis manibus- which was etched on Roman tombs to dedicate departing souls.

a REFERENCE TO A legend about a shepherdess, Alicia, which includes the line "Out of your own sweet vale, Alicia vanish vanity 'twixt Deity and Man" (OOYOSVAVVDM).

the letters may be meaningless," said Ms Large. "They may simply be etched there to frustrate the many future generations."
Here's the most Dan Brown theory: "Thomas Anson, an admiral in the British Navy attracted to codes by his seafaring days, commissioned the Shepherd's Monument to adorn the estate he built. But it is his wife who provides the trail towards the Holy Grail. She is believed to have had associations with the Knights Templar religious movement, which was founded in the 12th Century and had links to Jerusalem and to Rennes Cathedral. It was in the same cathedral that a parchment containing a coded message including the words "Poussin ... holds[s] the key" were once discovered."

One power of the Holy Grail is that is both lost and found everywhere.

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Doosra BANNED
The Doosra has been one of the innovations in cricket and one of the more fascinating controversies. The BBC provides a video showing which part of the movement is illegal.BBC And here's the video. And here's some background.
And some articles on Murali's genius.

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The ATHENS OLYMPICS ARE GOING TO BE A COMPLETE FUCKING DISASTER
Part XII: And they'll drag Europe down with them: Greek Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis said the cost of hosting the Olympic Games may push the government's budget gap above European Union limits for the second year in 2004. ``We are making efforts to tackle the deficit this year, trying to keep it below 3 percent in 2004, although it's difficult because of the Olympic Games which entails further expenditure,'' Alogoskoufis said in an interview after a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels. ``Certainly the deficit will be below 3 percent in 2005.''

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

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Same WITH ME EXCEPT NOONE WILL BOTHER TO DISCOVER ANYTHING I'VE LEFT BEHIND WHEN I'M DEAD
"When [William Faulkner] died, piles of letters, packages, and manuscripts sent by admirers were found, none of which he had opened. In fact, the only letters he did open were letters from publishers, and then only very cautiously: he would make a tiny slit in the envelope and then shake it to see if a check appeared. If it didn't, then the letter would simply join all those other things that can wait forever." This and other snapshots from Threepenny

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Coated IN THE GRIME OF EMPIRE
"Reading the work of V.S. Pritchett or the absconded Auden, you pick up the notion that Europe had just come through a spell of bad weather, as though the only important question emerging from the war was about how it might have affected the course of English normality. The great horror was that things would remain the same." Hence, The Beatles. The New York Review of Books

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Private BENJAMIN
After reading Charles Murray's op-ed on the Picasso painting, MacLamity's still feeling nauseous. Murray's argument is old -
But the magic of the historic object is separable from the artistic power of a great work.
- but it's interesting to watch a free-marketer grapple with the same issue that a Marxist like Walter Benjamin grappled with almost 100 years ago. Let's just start off with both

Murray: "The technology already exists to make perfect, full-size (or any size) copies of any painting -- "perfect" meaning not only absolutely accurate color values and reproductions of line, but the same kind of canvas or plaster, the same three-dimensional ridges and textures in the brush strokes, the same sheen to the varnish, and even the same cracks in the varnish, if so desired."

Benjamin: "Around 1900 technical reproduction had reached a standard that not only permitted it to reproduce all transmitted works of art and thus to cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public; it also had captured a place of its own among the artistic processes."

And then they diverge, with Murray applauding all this and Benjamin puzzling through the fundamental weirdness of perfect reproductions:

Benjamin: Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence.

Murray: No law prevents the owner of a painting from creating perfect copies if they are labeled as copies. The reason lies in the art world's conflation of the pleasure of being in the presence of a historic object and the pleasure of being in the presence of great art. I am wholeheartedly sympathetic to the pleasures of the historic object. A few months ago, I held the map that Robert E. Lee used during the Battle of Gettysburg. A perfect copy of that map would not have made my hands tremble as the original did. Being in the physical presence of a score in Mozart's hand or, for that matter, a child's toy from ancient Egypt, carries a magical quality that also occurs when standing before a painting that Rembrandt's own brush touched. But the magic of the historic object is separable from the artistic power of a great work. Whatever mysterious qualities go into that power, they do not require the original molecules of Rembrandt's paint.

Here, MacLamity began to get queasy. Murray has no sense of kitsch and needs to get one fast if he's going to keep on writing books about excellence. Murray speculates what works would do well if we could hang thwir perfect forgeries on our wall and accuses the art world of not realising what is "self-evident" to the rest of the world. But a painting is not like a Mozart score. It's more like a sculpture. Go to Athens and sit in a tourist shop filled with Aphrodite snow globes or Florence and surround yourself with David paperweights or Brussels and run your fingers over Mannequin Pis bottle openers. They are good reproductions but ... they're so tacky. People hang exhibition posters on their walls, rather than the prints of paintings they've seen at the exhibition because a reproduction of an exhibition poster is still an exhibition poster. There is no original. A plastic Rembrandt, no matter how good, remains a fake and to be too lazy to pay attention to that is to claim that the Paris Casino, Las Vegas, is somehow equivalent to the Cite de Paris in France.

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From DE BOTTON OF MY HEART
"I remember finding the Hopperesque one evening in a service station off the motorway between London and Manchester. Objectively speaking, it wasn't a beautiful building. The lighting was unforgiving, bringing out pallor and blemishes. The chairs and seats, painted in childishly bright colours, had the strained jollity of a fake smile. No one in the station was talking, no one admitting to curiosity or fellow feeling. We gazed blankly past one another at the serving counter or out into the darkness. We might have been seated among rocks. I sat in one corner, eating fingers of chocolate and taking occasional sips of orange juice. I felt lonely but, for once, this was a gentle, even pleasant kind of loneliness because, rather than unfolding against a backdrop of laughter and fellowship, in which I would suffer from a contrast between my mood and the environment, this loneliness unfolded in a place where everyone was a stranger, where the difficulties of communication and the frustrated longing for love seemed to be acknowledged and brutally celebrated by the architecture and lighting."

Alain de Botton discussing Edward Hopper in The Telegraph. If you want to play a pretty mean drinking game line up nine shots of Tequilla and drink one every time in the article de Botton makes the point that Hopper's paintings look sad but don't make you sad.

Monday, May 10, 2004

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Speaking OF KOANS
Kwang-tse
points out
that a beautiful
woman


who gives
pleasure

to men




serves only
to
frighten

the fish


when she
jumps
in the water.

This and other John Cage anecdotes collected randomly (of course, randomly) here.

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Yes YES YES!
I agree completely
Rock music may be big on anniversaries, but one pivotal historical moment still goes uncelebrated: the point when the record-buying public ceased believing that the concept album was a pinnacle of artistic endeavour and decided it was short-hand for a particularly gassy kind of self-importance. No one knows for sure when this occurred, although the strongest claim is held by the 1973 release of Yes's Tales From Topographic Oceans, a lofty interpretation of ancient Hindu texts which, it later transpired, the members of Yes had not actually read.
At the same time, I wouldn't want taken from me those hours spent when I was 13, forcing myself to listen to 'The Wall.' There was the sound of a crash. A baby crying. Then a phone ringing. Clearly the Pink Floyd adept (me) could not understand all this because he was shallow and young. He concentrated on it as if it was a koan, believing that incomprehensibility this extreme must be also be profound. It was only later that he discovered that it was the album that was shallow, and so incredibly stupid, so wonderfully incredibly stupid. Guardian

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E-DAY
A peak into the parallel universe that starts when the D-Day landings fail and Eisenhower tells the press:
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and the troops have been withdrawn and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available... If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine.
The Observer The penultimate sentence smells familiar.

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Goggle, GOO-GOO EYES, GOOGOL
My grandfather invented the number, so where does Googe get off not giving us a slice of their $googol? Boston Globe

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What CRICKET CAN DO
"Ali Bacher is a great South African who has brought pride to all of us." Signed: "N R Mandela, January 2004." Daily Telegraph

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Suicide IS PAINFUL, HOMICIDAL RAMPAGES AREN'T
What Christie Malry really needed was double entry book keeping and the Internet.

Your Homocidal Rampage! by crash_and_burn
Your name:
Weapon of Choice:AOL Trial CDs
Your Favorite Target:Cops
Your Kill Count:1,877,059,168
Your Battle Cry:"My kidneys tingle with pleasure!"
Years You Spend in Jail:43
How Much Money In Damages You Cause:$171,599,118,104,253
Your Homocidal Insanity Level:: 20%
Created with the ORIGINAL MemeGen!

Friday, May 07, 2004

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The ATHENS OLYMPICS IS GOING TO BE A COMPLETE FUCKING DISASTER
Part VII: Union leaders said Thursday that employees of many of city's major hotels will strike during the Aug. 13-29 Olympics if they do not get an 8 percent increase in wages and a two-month bonus for work during the games.The hotels affected include those where many Olympic officials plan to stay. On Tuesday, Greek police threatened to start a series of pre-Olympic strikes to demand hazard pay for safeguarding the games.

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A Great Poem by Gavin Ewart, is fully endorsed by MacLamity.

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We HAVE OPEN MINDS
Here's a great web site called Cuba debate. And what is debate in Cuba like? Well they have point and counterpoint, just like in any free society. Except they call it "The Lie and Our Response."

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It STARTS WITH THE SWEATER
If the police were putting out a dragnet for Oregon this is the best picture they could release to the public.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

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Today's HARD-TO-FATHOM CARTOON

From the NYT

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Verina RADUGA NAB
The butterflies Nabokov caught with the net of his imagination go on sale. Dimitri, Vladimir's son, can't bear to lose them, but equally can't bear lose ends, and he feels death Coming Soon. (The NYT)

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Wasted RESOURCES
French farmers need to own up to their one true passion and take up protesting full time. Full-time protestors focus on their pet causes. But French Farmers are Renaissance protestors. When they dump 250 tons of cauliflower over a town to protest low demand for cauliflower you wonder, wouldn't it be better for you to sell it, or market it, or grow another crop? Aren't cauliflower's for eating, rather than protesting. And don't try to compete with them on prices or quality. they'll protest the fuclk out of you. Should you so much as think as competing with their image of themselves by setting a TV show in the country, they'll protest the fuck out of you. BBC

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

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The CRETE SPECIAL OLYMPICS, IF IT HAPPENS, IS GOING TO BE A COMPLETE FUCKING DISASTER
A correspondent from Greece writes in - And gives MacLamity Exclusive Publishing Rights!
Heraklion, Crete, (olympic and para-olympic city in 2004), April 30, 2004:

The waiting room of Heraklion airport in Crete is very small, divided by an imaginary line that separates the smoking section of the room and the non-smoking one. I hadn't seen one of those "Smoking area" signs in an EU public building in years. I know there are some areas at some airports where you can smoke, usually at the bars and restaurants. In this airport there were NO bars.

Ding-dong-ding! Our plane is ready to board. One hour and a half late, but finally ready to board. Gate number 6. We stand in line for 15 minutes, when suddenly we realize there's something going on between a passenger and the Cretian-airline guy. One of the passengers is in a wheelchair. To get to the plane, he'd have to go down about 30 stairs to reach the runway where the plane has stopped and the about 15 stairs up to make it into the plane. No ramps.

The Cretian-airline worker looks around. Scratches his head. Thinks. And finally, opens his mouth and speaks up. And he says to the passenger: "Can you stand up and walk, please?."
Lateral thinking from the people who brought you a big hole in the ground instead of a museum and failed to fail to bring you a roof on the stadium.

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What SEPARATES THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING FROM PURE BULLSHIT?
This article explains what the difference is betweek the Kabbalism that I'd read about and been engrossed with while doing a college paer on the Jews re-admission to England and the Kabbalism as practiced by Madonna. This had confused me. I love the idea of the Kabbalah, for much the same reason that I like the idea of the universe being made of number ones (Pythagoras) or Monads (Leibniz) - the idea that reality is made up of metaphysical units. But, then, reading this article, I had to say, isn't the writer working awfully hard, and in some way failing, to make Madonna's Kabbalah ridiculous while at the same trying to argue for the seriousness of the actual Kabbalah. This sentence admits too much, no? "Concepts like the evil eye and blessed water do exist in Jewish mysticism, but they are Kabbalah's least spiritual and intellectual elements." The least spiritual elements, but elements still the same, and they are ridiculous whether practiced by Madonna or intensely intellectual scholars. Just because a practice goes back thousands of years doesn't make it any less ludicrous than blatant fakery invented in LA in the 1990s.

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TAOAGTBACFD
Part VI: And not in a funny way:
Triple bomb attack after a week of boosting security

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The ATHENS OLYMPICS IS GOING TO BE A COMPLETE FUCKING DISASTER
Part V, Even In Australia The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) had said the Australian leg of the global torch relay was in jeopardy because of a dispute in which Athens Games organisers allegedly demanded that Greek security personnel protect the Sydney and Melbourne legs of the Olympic torch relay.

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The ATHENS OLYMPICS IS GOING TO BE A COMPLETE FUCKING DISASTER
Part IV, They can't even not decide to do something: Last week they canceled the roof on the stadium. This week the cancel the cancellation. Telegraph

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

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Conservatism AS A ROMANTIC MOVEMENT
Excellent discussion of the anti-market tradition in conservatisim in
The Washington Post: "Like their predecessors -- from Edmund Burke, Samuel Coleridge and Henry Adams to T.S. Eliot, Martin Heidegger and Michael Oakeshott -- today's conservatives prize mystery and vitality over calculation and technology. Such romantic sensibilities are inspired by questions of politics and, especially, of war. It is only natural, then, that the neocons would take up the call of empire, seeking a world that is about something more than money and markets."

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The ATHENS OLYMPPICS IS GOING TO BE A COMPLETE FUCKING DISASTER
Part III: "Hardly considered progressive in its attitude toward security in recent years, Greece has been assisted the past several months by a seven-member advisory group of nations, including the United States, Great Britain and Israel. Greek officials previously determined to use exclusively Greek personnel for security reached out to the world in March, one day after terrorist bombs rocked the European continent. On March 11, bombs blew up four commuter trains during morning rush hour in Madrid, Spain, killing more than 190 people and injuring 1,800. The next day, Athens 2004 officials asked for NATO assistance, though officials say the request was prepared before the Madrid attack. NATO has been asked to provide aerial and sea surveillance against a potential chemical, biological and nuclear incident."

Monday, May 03, 2004

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Political DEBATE
From The New Yorker's profile of Aaron McGruder
He said—bragged, even—that he’d voted for Nader in 2000. At that point, according to Hamilton Fish, the host of the party, “it got interactive.”

Eric Alterman, a columnist for The Nation, was sitting in the back of the room, next to Joe Wilson, the Ambassador. He shouted out, “Thanks for Bush!” Exactly what happened next is unclear. Alterman recalls that McGruder responded by grabbing his crotch and saying, “Try these nuts.” Jack Newfield, the longtime Village Voice writer, says that McGruder simply dared Alterman to remove him from the podium. When asked about this incident later, McGruder said, “I ain’t no punk. I ain’t gonna let someone shout and not go back at him.”

Alterman walked out. “I turned to Joe and said, ‘I can’t listen to this crap anymore,’” he remembers. “I went out into the Metropolitan Club lobby—it’s a nice lobby—and I worked on my manuscript.”

Newfield joined in the heckling, as did Stephen Cohen, a historian and the husband of Katrina vanden Heuvel. “It was like watching LeRoi Jones try to Mau-Mau a guilty white liberal in the sixties,” Newfield says. “It was out of a time warp. Who is he to insult people who have been putting their careers and lives on the line for equal rights since before he was born?”

By the time McGruder had finished, and a tipsy Joe Wilson took the microphone to deliver his New Year’s Resolutions, perhaps half the guests had excused themselves to join Alterman in the lobby. A Nation contributor estimated that McGruder had offended eighty per cent of the audience. “Some people still haven’t recovered,” he said, sounding thrilled.
Aaron McGruder started off on the wrong foot with me for replacing Foxtrot in the San Francisco Chronicle during my senior year at Stanford. I liked Foxtrot because it was funny. I disliked Boondocks because it wasn't. Unlike Family Circus, Boondocks didn't even have the redeeming features of being mystically incomprehensible. It was impossible not to understand Boondocks, in fact, and that was its problem. It assumed its readers were idiots who had to have. things. spelled. out. to. them. in. a. way. that. is. not. funny. Here's a joke I like:
Q: What's brown and sticky?
A: A stick.
Here's the joke as a Boondock strip:
One of the kids: Have you ever noticed howBush plays with sticks a lot?
The other kid: It's a regression thing. it reminds him of when he was really Daddy's boy.
Ootk: And also he's in a sticky situation.
Tok: Yeah.
Ootk: Sticks are brown and sticky.
Tok: Like the Iraq sand that Vush is stuck in.
NB. There is one funny Boondocks strip - where the kid phones in Reagan as an Al-Qaeda agent.


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In the ETON REGISTRY
What the authorized biography of James Bond reveals: "taking a job as a Harrods department store detective during a period of desperate unemployment; James Bond the social dropout living off his looks and wealthy women in island resort communities (Pearson reveals the events of “The Hildebrand Rarity” took place during one of Bond's beachcomber periods). One of the strongest moments in the book is when Bond, during a period of suspension because of scandal, takes a seat at a Blades gambling table, not to best a villain or win over a woman, but in a last desperate attempt to make a living. All of Bond’s nerve and skills fail him. It’s as if the universe itself rejects a James Bond who is not 007."

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We are merely the stars’ vennis balls struck and bandied/Which way please them.

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The ATHENS OLYMPICS IS GOING TO BE A COMPLETE FUCKING DISASTER
Part II: "They have had seven years to get this right but spent the first three doing nothing as various factions rowed about how money would be spent and who was actually in charge. And it still looks a mess."

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The ATHENS OLYMPICS IS GOING TO BE A COMPLETE FUCKING DISASTER
Part 1 of what promises to be a great series: All there is to show the world's press when they arrive in August is a very deep hole. It is a hole that went straight through some precious archaeology, and accusations have been flying that careful excavation to uncover the Byzantine, Hellenistic and Ancient Greek remains was abandoned in the politically driven rush to build the museum. All for nothing. The damage has been done but there is not a single wall to show for it. (N.B. MacLamity really does hope that the Greeks are going to pull this together at the last moment and that the press is going to back off; but for now Athens Olympics Disaster stories have been some of the most entertaining MacLamity has read in the past month.

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Thom GUNN THEME
Another great Thom gunn poem. The final verse
Abandoned incomplete, shape of a shape,
In which exact detail shows the more strange,
Trapped in unwholeness, I find no escape
Back to the play of constant give and change.
made up some of the few lines that made me - in my late teens - want to love poetry: their tightness, their rhyming and their terror. I was sucked, terrified, into the hollowness of the words "shape of a shape." Like Eliot's "I can connect nothing with nothing" it uses repetition to make create a void - it's the poetic equivalent of tautology (and has a similar effect to Eliot's rhyming London with London in the Wasteland). But Eliot's line has an ambiguity, and therefore a hope. It says both 1. Connection is impossible. We cannot pull the parts of reality into a whole and 2. Connection is possible. Even 2 nothings can be connected. But "shape of a shape" has nothing in it. By comparison, even Eliot's "shape without form," seems solid as an old oak table in a kitchen.

[P.S.] Cf. The Missing with Empson's Let It Go.

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I GO TO THE STATES FOR 7 DAYS
And Thom Gunn dies. Thom gunn is a top-5 MacLamity poet. He's the only poet which MacLamity reads exclusively from an edition of Collected Poems (normally MacLamity gets tired looking at an index 300 poems - one good poem being the mental equivalent of ten 100-pound lifts on the bench press). Why? Not sure. The Man With Night sweats is the saddest 40 pages written about AIDS. My favorite Gunn poem(Look for the highlighted section).

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Notes from VACATION

It's not only outrageous that booze on trans-Atlantic flights are free, it's outrageous how very far it is from free. Itis particularly outrageous if the cocksucking in-flight movies don't cocksucking work and if you still, despite this, have to cocksucking pay for the only reasonable entertainment that remains: getting blasted.

The Caribbean sun despises Whitey and comes at noonfrom the sky like a bastard from hell to punch Whitey's face and eyes with invisible Whitey-hating fists on fire.

There are a 292 ways to open a coconut which take an hour and all the blood in your body and leave all women unimpressed. It is impossible to find a way that has different results, although it probably exists.

You haven't heard the word Bullshit until you've heard a French woman say it. Bool sheet.

Work doesn't make you free. Coconut-based cocktails are practically free, at happy hour.