The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Friday, July 30, 2004

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Quote OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
Michele de Montaigne: "God and man call monsters by different names: God sees the fullness of his creation and the variety of his works; man sees the limits of himself, rejects what seems too far removed from our self-image. God's wisdom admits of what is good, shared, unwavering: man can't reconcile the apparently incongruous. 'We are blind to the everyday, ignorant of the wonder in the ordinary. Novelty gets our attention, is taken for prophecy.' We call the unfamiliar unnatural. And yet, nothing is unnatural, no matter how unfamiliar. If only the faculty of reason we all possess could drive out the wild delusions that novelty breeds in us."

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Francis Crick, was the ugliest of great scientists, and that includes Tycho Brahe post-nosectomy.

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Never has an attempt to mock someone for using outmoded terms failed as hilariously as here, in OpinionJournal's James Taranto's Friday column:
Later, a 'celebrity,' Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, gets up and says a few words, among them: 'I want to give a shout-out to my daughter.' What in the devil is a 'shout-out'? Our incomprehension makes us feel young again, as we realize that the 56-year-old senator must be using slang from the 1920s or '30s that didn't reach remote North Dakota until Conrad's youth.
We thought about getting into the spirit of things and shouting out, 'Groovy, Daddy-O.' But it had been a long day. The time had come to bid our fellow bloggers a fond 23 skidoo.
Taranto, while frequently mentioning The Clash or Duran Duran, clearly never got round to the rhythmic speaking to skiffle beats so enjoyed by young negroes these days. Hop hip, is it?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

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Bad news from Afghanistan - it's hard to imagine how bad it must be for Medecins sans Frontiers to leave, having gone through all the iterations of shit that that country's been through since the Soviets invaded. (Guardian) Obviously the occupation isn't restraining the Taleban and is miles from creating the necessary monopoly on violence and, worse, the Taleban, in one aspect, have grown quantifiably worse than they were 4 years ago.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

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Sometimes you're rush for the center is so successful that you carry straight on to the far right, like the apparent endorsement of child labor as long as its labor in the service of the Democratic Party.

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Sometimes you're rush for the center is so successful that you carry straight on to the far right, like the apparent endorsement of child labor as long as its labor in the service of the Democratic Party.

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The sequel that dare not speak it's name: surely Kumite (2005) is an undeclared sequel to "Blood Sport." With the name Frank Dux instead of Vic Latour. I hope Forest Whitacker is in this as well.

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What I DO ALL DAY
Every now and then a copy editor tears a piece i've edited apart with a machete of tone-deafness, and in that moment I feel how irritating I must be to the writers whose work I go through. I become indignant at the copy editor's insensitivity to my genius. The questions invariably question rhetorical devices like humor, exaggeration, and irony. The editor's comments on Ann Coulter's column for USA today are classics of the genre. (My favorite from my own experience came when I said that the plot to a Tintin book suffered from an acute arbitrariness "otherwise known as Roger Moore Bond syndrome." The copy editor added "KNOWN BY WHOM?????" and cut it entirely.)
Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling.
USA Today: EYE-ROLLING? AT WHAT?
So it’s a real mystery why cops wouldn’t like Democrats.
USA Today: IS THAT LAST SENTENCE SARCASTIC? IF SO, YOU SURE LOST ME.
Apparently, the nuts at the Democratic National Convention are going to be put in cages outside the convention hall. Sadly, they won't be fighting to the death as is done in WWE caged matches. They're calling this the "protestor's area," although I suppose a better name would be the "truth-free zone".
USA Today: CLARIFY WHICH NUTS
Democrats are constantly suing and slandering police as violent, fascist racists -- with the exception of Boston's police, who'll be lauded as national heroes right up until the Democrats pack up and leave town on Friday, whereupon they'll revert to their natural state of being fascist, racist pigs.
USA Today: WHAT DEMOCRATS SUE THE POLICE? BUT THEY WON'T ACTUALLY REVERT TO BEING FASCIST PIGS, DON'T YOU MEAN THE DEMS WILL THINK THEY HAVE REVERTED TO BEING FASCIST PIGS?
I want Americans to get a good long look at the French Party and keep the 7-11 challenge in mind.
USA Today: WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY "THE FRENCH PARTY"? I DON'T GET IT.

and then: NOT FUNNY, I DON'T GET IT. I DON'T GET IT.
Ann Coulter is of course evil. But what Leonardo did to Mona Lisa, she does to the Republican stereotype of Democrats. She makes it vivid and immortal. When she accidentally hits her target, instead of the image of her target that she has locked in her head, the blow is near fatal. For example, here's her take on the Jayson Blair case:
What Raines did to Blair was cruel. Think of it in a nonracial context: Suppose the owner of a big company sends his kid to learn the business and tells low-level managers to treat him just like anyone else. The managers curry favor with the boss by reporting that his son is doing great and is a natural genius for this business. So the kid keeps getting praised and promoted, until one day he is actually put in charge of something he has no ability to run. That is cruel. And it's the story of Pinch Sulzberger, isn't it?
Perfect. It redeems the 300 pages of rage and nonsense about how anyone left of Tom de Lay is a commie traitor. Not that the editor at USA Today would have appreciated the paragraph. When you ponder what the piece would look like after the editor's questions you see a HUGE DECREASE IN NASTY, BITING SARCASM and no corresponding increase in accuracy. I dread to think what he or she'd do to Mark Twain or Tom Paine. WHAT DYING BIRD DOES BURKE PITY? THIS IS THE FIRST REFERENCE TO A BIRD. I THOUGHT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT THE ARISTOCRACY? I'M CONFUSED. WHAT PLUMAGE? HOW CAN BURKE PITY PLUMAGE???? WHY DID THE BIRD DIE????? I DON'T GET IT.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

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Pong FIVE THOUSAND
How 5,000 people fly a plane: "Green, green, green!" one faction shouts. "More red!" a moment later from the crowd. "Red, red! REEEEED!" The plane is pitching to the left in a sickening way. It is obvious that it will miss the landing strip and arrive wing first.

Monday, July 26, 2004

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The HOCKNEYFICATION OF EVERY BRITISH ARTISTS
There are many shocks in this interview with Damien Hirst. The boy doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, doesn't avoid business meetings, actively sets up business meetings, and doesn't even swear. The scariest thing is that, age 40, you can see that the thing that happened to Alan Bennett and David Hockney is now happening to Damien Hirst. Is it the water? The air they breathe? There's some germ out there that turns the hair grey, slaps big glasses on the front, turns the chin invisible, and freezes the mouth in some kind of toothless neutral position, which suggests that they've decided that in a Universe of ineffable boredom what's needed is the grim determination to shut up, and stay shut up. Hirst's case in still in the early stages, so his hair is not yet accountantly parted with extreme efficiency and a wetted comb. I give it five years.

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Says HE TO HIMSELF, Part II
[In 1976] fallen Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman, on the run from drug charges in Canada, was seen by a friend having an apparently schizophrenic conversation into a hand-held device. "Someone's taping us right now," he complained. To which the inevitable answer was: "Of course someone's taping us, I'm taping us."
One way in which Philip K. Dick's science fiction was neither science nor ficiton. Boston Globe

Friday, July 23, 2004

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An AMERICAN IN ... LONDON ... RIGHT?
Malachi Davis changed his nationality a few weeks ago so he could qualify for the British Olympics team. This questionnaire from the Evening Standard is a pretty good guide to how small is the mark that Britan makes on the American mind. My favorites:
Who is the Prime Minister of Britain?
"Blake! No, Blaine! Well, something like that, man. I know it starts with a B."

Where is Wales?
"North? I haven't a clue."

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Poetry AND THE STATE
Apparently they can work together. (The Independent) Legend has it that if the monkeys in Gibraltar die out so well Britain's grip on the rock and in the early 1970s the Governor was noticing a threat to the monkey population:
Among the horrors envisaged by Sir Saville, then parliamentary under secretary at the Commonwealth Relations Office, were that the apes 'may become a bunch of queers'. His poem began:
We're a bit perturbed
About the Apes
After studying their sizes
And their shapes
As we see it at first glance
There seems at least a chance
Of some lesbianism, or sodomy or rapes.
In response, Sir Gerald noted his colleague's desire to rectify the imbalance. But he too feared there would be an explosion of same-sex loving and created the splendid word 'lesbianate'' as a clunky rhyme with fifty-eight - the year of birth of a heterosexual ape named Joe.
I wouldn't mind to go into history as "a heterosexual ape named Joe" even though that's not my name or species. But definitely it's my sexuality.

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Great moments in understatement, Part I
From The Independent

Q. Did 'the man' ever turn up or are you still waiting?
Lou Reed: As a matter of fact, he turned up more than once.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

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Book REVIEW AS TWO QUOTES AND A GLOSS
Todo pasa y todo queda,
pero lo nuestro es pasar,
pasar haciendo caminos,
caminos sobre la mar.
Antonio Machado
Our lives are only rivers
that flow into the sea,
the sea, our end
Don Paterson explains how he translated his favorite Antonio Machado poems in 'The Eyes' by process rather than by meaning.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

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No REASON TO DO IT NOW
Except that every year or so, you have to listen to Orson Welles advertising
frozen peas.

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Turkey IS EVERYTHING
Is it possible that the EU's human rights criteria are destroying Turkey's secularity? Here's a convincing argument: from Christopher Caldwell. Erdogan, by the way, is one of the only great politicians of our time, however you feel about his ideals.

Monday, July 19, 2004

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j'ACCUSE!!!!!
The seamy underbelly, the rank
corruption, the nastiness, the evil,
the ball-whacking horribleness, the mean
people, the godforsaken shocking terror that
puts the Great one in Paris to shame and
is the world of American poetry
is, thank you, God, REVEALED!
Fraudulent contests... DETECTED!
Sycophants... EXPOSED!
And names... NAMED! all at www.foetry.com
They don't sit on the fence at Foetry. They shit on The Fence, for being a front for Iowa Writer's Workshop racketeers.

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Left OUT 
I like how linking to an article is almost the same as writing it when the article is obscure. So, here's eXile's editor's Russian ex-pat take on the demise of the American left. Is MacLamity against those who value sounding Virtuous even if it destroys the left? Or is he one of them himself? He suspects he's the former. But MacLamity finds it hard to say when MacLamity's impact on the left is so unlike the Amazonian butterfly's impact on a German hurricane that it's almost a perfect demonstration of why humanities johnnies out to impress shouldn't act like they know science, even if they claim that they're just using it for metaphor. MacLamity claps his wings in Belgium and nothing happens in the Amazon! A fucking butterfly's more powerful than I am!
 
(Why was I looking at eXile? I wanted to see what they were saying about the shocking execution of Forbes's Russian editor. And I don't mean shocking as in surprising. What's shocking when it comes to Putin's Russia is how cleanly the state is descending into China-style capitalism, where money is accepted so long as it doesn't encourage civil liberty. EXile is really a great read anyway. It's like the decent columns of college magazines, before their authors become Hearst-magazined or times-interned into blandness. It's like Hunter S. Thompson without Rolling Stone's expense account and far-off, forgiving deadlines. It's sloppy prose. But like Sloppy Joes, it's vigorous and chunky. EXile doesn't have anything to say yet, but when they do, I'll bet it'll be interesting if their past media criticism is anything to go by.)

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Friday, July 16, 2004

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That's WHAT I CALL LITERARY AMBITION
"I used to want to be J. D. Salinger, to live in a house in the woods where no one could find me," he says. "After that, I wanted to be Charles Bukowski, drunk all the time, having sad affairs with miserable people. And I have accomplished that." (New York)

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Says HE TO HIMSELF
Slate has an excellent piece on stars performing cameos as themselves. And here's some footnotes:
Stars playing themselves because no one will pay them to act anyone else any more. The Slate piece explains the celebrity-as-celebrity cameo as gag or product placement. But sometimes it's just a sad comment on an actor's career. Buster Keaton appears as Buster Keaton in 'Sunset Boulevard' and (essentially as himself) in 'Limelight' as an artefact more than an actor. The same thing happened to Bela Legosi.

When stars have become their most famous role, they can't play themselves. In the 1970s Roddy MacDowall did plenty of cameos, although you wouldn't have recognised him as anyone else but Cornelius (or Galen) the Ape from 'Planet of the Apes.' Randolph and Mortimer who were left destitute by Eddie Murphy's character in 'Trading Places' are given a second chance and a bag full of money by Eddie Murphy's character in 'Coming to America.'

Celebrity ensembles appearing as themselvesIn 'What's New Pussycat' Peter O'Toole chats to a guy standing by the bar. He and O'Toole half recognize each other and half commit to talking later. The man's Richard Burton. Peter O'Toole doesn't break character, but by adding Richard Burton to the shot O'Toole's character is transformed into O'Toole until Burton leaves the screen. The same happens when Danny Glover robs Mel Gibson in 'Maverick' and rides off muttering "I'm too old for this shit."

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

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Modernist TO A FAULT
Hilton Kramer takes a principled stand against U.S. turn-of-the-20th-century hysteria over what it called Ellis Island art - the avant-garde mongrel art eroding the purity of decent American art.(NY Observer.) Perhaps he can also take on a critic who recently wrote:
Today, nearly eighty years after Duchamp perpetrated this bluff on the New York art world, his anti-art legacy fills our museums and in some other quarters, too— the academy and the media—commands an esteem that is often greater than any enjoyed by works of art created by more traditional means. All of which is a reminder, if we still need one, that the conventions of this anti-art legacy have themselves now come to constitute an academy of sorts.
The critic's name is Hilton Kramer.

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Too MANY COOKS IN HAWAII
Not waving but dying: not saying "Don't be so unfair as shoot these poor savages armed only with spears!" but trying to beat them off before they succeed in stabbing you fatally in the neck. Guardian

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

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What CAN YOU DO?
Resistence to modern art is futile. If you denounce it as immoral, you make it controversial, and controversy is its air. And even if you hate it, it responds with an exhibition exploring what it means for you to hate it. In Finland that's true, anyway. (Love Me or Leave Me)
Contemporary art can arouse strong emotions. The collection display Love Me or Leave Me discusses the reactions evoked by artworks and explores the different ways in which contemporary art can be interpreted. On display is a selection of the most loved and hated works from Kiasma’s Collections. The exhibition also includes works that have not previously been on display in Kiasma. Loving or hating an artwork is based on the encounter between the world of the work and our own worlds. If the clash between them brings to the fore issues that are too difficult or the work, for one reason or other, fails to interest, it is easy to reject the work.
And what if i hate you because you're overpaid, stupid and ugly? No no no, don't put on an exhibit entitled "Overpaid, stupid, and ugly 1960-2000"! Just make some fucking decent art!

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Heart ATTACK AND MISC. MEDICAL?
These are horrible ways for our young rock stars to die early. And yet, they are the most common.


[P.S. if you sample the dead of a 40-year-old art form, the average age is of coursegoing to be lower.]

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Is THAT A SOUL I SEE IN THERE?
Jeffrey Katzenberg sounds almost human as he discusses David Lean. Even more astonishing: he sounds like he knows something about movies.

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Treated NOVEL TRATS YOU WELL
Come,
my moth
rain
poetry and prose
on
London
London
Signs and
silence

gliding
London behind

the anxieties
Vauxhall
laughed

Liverpool Street,
illuminated

Tom Philips has put up all the pages of the first 1970 edition of The Humument on his
site.

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"You're Fletcher, aren't you?"
"I had been cheered by Roger Button's description of the bus:" I recently told someone about the only New Yorker short story that actually amazed me and enthralled me. She dug it up.

Monday, July 12, 2004

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Big RED LIE
One of the reasons that you can't legally read Ulysses on the web is the love that movie studios claim they had. Their lobbyists ran around Congress in 1998, saying that if the studios lost the copyright to old movies, no one could afford to restore the decaying prints. Really, of course, it all comes down to Disney's fear of losing Mickey. The speciousness of the studios' profession of love for old movies is as clear as ever in this account of how Richard Shickel had to fight a studio to restore a Fuller masterpiece. Telegraph

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Journalism WASTED ON JOURNALISM: Part I
"Shortly afterward I received a note from her -- 'Emily, We're so glad to have you!' -- wrapped around a bottle of herbal diet pills." Slate

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Semiotics of CHOCOLATICITY
Both Homer Simpson and the U.S. electorate agree that the wives of presidents have a role to play. "HOMER
But you do get to express yourself! In the lovely home you keep, and the food you serve." Boston Globe

Thursday, July 08, 2004

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The GREAT UNIVERSITY THEORY OF HISTORY
I wish my alma matres would have a home page as explosive as that of the Jozsef Attila University (JATE). There's no need to explain these four photos and five dates and five events. So they don't.
1872: the establishment of University of Kolozsvár
1921: the University is transferred to Szeged
1951: the Medical Faculty breaks free from the University
1962: the University is named after József Attila
2000: the University is integrated with the higher education institutions of Szeged and Hódmezõvásárhely into University of Szeged
1951 must have been the really exciting year, I feel.

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Its ALRIGHT
MacLamity is always typing IT'S when he means ITS and YOU'RE when he means YOUR, but thank God, because apparently people aren't making that mistake anymore ((Guardian). MacLamity makes the old-school, traditional mistakes, and doesn't go for the new habit of writing "tow the line" or "pouring over newspapers," although these are the new forms of the ancient curse of the cliche - the fact that we simply don't care what we are saying. In Orwell's time it was not realising that the hammer is destroyed by the anvil, not the other way around. These days it's forgetting that you don't read newspapers submerged in liquids and that you can't pour intransitively.

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I QUOTE: "California is a tragic country like Palestine, like every Promised Land." - Christopher Isherwood, although, for MacLamity, Isherwood forever says Goodbye to Berlin without ever really saying hello to California. MacLamity's iconic gay Englishman living in California was Thom Gunn, who had the further advantage of exioling himself in northern california instead of southern california.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

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I QUOTE: "The illiberal liberal has a way of pretending that the page that he would rather not read is illegible." Christopher Ricks in his apparently farcical Dylan Book.

Update: Is Ricks right? That's not what MacLamity's readers demanded to know! Instead, MacLamity could sit back and watch the cricket in London, while Owlington Von Samuel and Tu Quoque posted like maniac Deaniacs on heat [emphases added by me]:
Owlington von Samuel
Very clever, Maclamity, but what's the fucking point of posting the quote without its mate? "If the unconservative conservative finds that the facts don't fit his fiction, he sees fit to find fictional facts."
Maclamity, you have arrived at an unsettling consistency in depicting, let's call it a lack of textual rigor, as a flaw of liberalism (based on your posts), and that's such complete bullshit.
Intellectual laziness can be called-out pretty well across the political spectrum, and intellectual self-delusion, too - you seem to take a special pleasure in afixing that tag to the back of liberalism. Why is that?
Oh, and by the way, I didn't read the article on Ricks (I read some other review of it somewhere) - so maybe I'm tearing you a new one out of context completely again... in which case, I so sorry.



tu quoque
That’s only if you’re acting under the assumption that the only things that exist are liberalism and conservatism. Can’t you in general adhere to the values of liberalism but dislike some of its inconsistencies and thus point them out? Why does that necessarily mean that you prefer conservatism? Why do you even have to mention conservatism? Can you never point out inconsistencies because everyone’s guilty of them? To turn things around, why do you feel such a need to defend “liberalism” if you admit that there are many inconsistencies?


Eddington von Owl :
Very nice points, tu qouque, but I don't think they are particularly relevant to what I was saying... You say that I'm acting under the assumption the the only things that exist are liberalism and conservatism. Not true. I specifically allow that "intellectual laziness can be called out pretty well across the political spectrum," which recognizes a much broader definition of politics than a liberal-conservative dichotomy - and further recognizes that the negative trait that Maclamity so often calls out (and rightfully so) can be found across that spectrum. But liberalism's twin in the political world is conservatism - that's the way it is. If you don't care to recongize that, what can I tell you? Watch more TV.

You ask if one can be a liberal but point out its inconsistencies. Of course. But that's besides my point - which is, why does Maclamity consistently highlight the lack of textual rigor (my term) of liberals alone, and to push it further, why does he often seem to assign that characteristic to liberalism in general (maybe I'm being unfair, but you can certainly read Maclamity that way.)

You ask, why does that (pointing out the flaws of liberalism) necessarily mean that you prefer conservatism? I don't think I even came close to making that charge - that Maclamity prefers conservatism. What Maclamity clearly prefers is intellectual rigor - but why does he only take liberals to task for their lack of it? That's the question I ask. Perhaps Maclamity is a self-identifying liberal who loathes what liberals have become, perhaps Maclamity is a clear-headed liberal providing a strident critique from within, perhaps Maclamity is a crotchety arch-conservative lamenting the weakening minds of men in the face of the 21st century, perhaps Maclamity cannot be placed on the political spectrum, as his primary concern is with film - and what close-ups are good for (and why hasn't he posted on Brando - the original Il Monstro - yet?) [UPDATE: Because MacLamity found out Brando'd died 4 seconds before leaving the office Friday night. MacLamity sent an email out to 50% of MacLamity's readership with the subject line "An enormous tragedy/coffin" and that's pretty much all MacLAmity has to say. MacLamity spent 15 years missing the old Brando. The world at large, after the shock of Superman, spent 25 years doing so. We all grieved for him long long before he died.]

You ask, why mention conservatism? Well, because it is liberalism's twin - how else would the construction have worked? - but mentioning it certainly doesn't implicate anybody... not too deeply, at least.

You ask, can you never point out the inconsistencies, because everyone is guilty of them? Of course not. Again, tu quoque, that's not my point. If everyone is guilty of them, shouldn't we point out the inconsistencies of everyone? And if everyone is guilty of inconsistencies, but Maclamity has a tendency to highlight this when the offending parties are liberals, is it unfair to ask why? Or to call out that, in fact, not only liberals, but everyone is guilty of these inconsistencies? Read again, tu quoque, and I think you'll find that's all I did.

To turn things around, tu quoque, you ask, why do I need to defend liberalism if I admit there are many inconsitencies? Well, tu quoque, to be fair, what I am defending liberalism against is the unfair charge that intellectual laziness is a damning characteristic of liberalism alone. I am neither defending intellectual laziness (where I admire Maclamity in his pursuite to persecute its worst offenders), nor am I defending the tenets of liberalism (not here, at least). But to answer your question, I'd be happy to defend liberalism, as flawed as it is, as maligned as it has become, because I think the principles of liberalism are fundamentally valuable and redeeming - as badly as they may be sometimes applied and articulated.

So, to Maclamity, glaze over this - I think I've said my peace to you in the original posts; and to tu quoque - a very nice rhetorical flourish - but what exactly is the point?


tortuga mayuscula
i throw in my two cents with very few polysyllabic words: while the conservative quote would've been good in this case, maclamity is a blogman with no pretense of objectivity. (damn, those words had syllables...but still, not that that many). point is, of course the man's going to attack liberals more often---he reads liberals more often. and unless you really delve into the body of conservative thought/texts, criticizing it just seems too boring and obvious


MacLamity
For a long time, even back to the days of my Stanford column, one of my frustrations with some liberals (and Ricks is distinguishing between a liberal liberal and an illiberal liberal) is that they trumpet tolerance, claim it as their virtue, but practice it horrifically. The Stanford version of this person would tolerate only what he or she already approved of. But someone who spoke against, for example, affirmative action would be shouted down in such a way as to ensure that there was no debtae on the issue. Anyone who was against it, was literally labelled racist, and their opinion therefore tainted and easy to ignore. It's not disagreeing with affirmative action i object to. It was the style of thought that led to the complete extermination of one side of the debate not by proving it wrong, but by declaring it de facto racist. that is not my liberalism.


And i don't mean to unsettle people! I can write a few of those posts that start with sentences like "Dumb fucking Bush steals more of our rights... " "Another reason why Bush is stupid... [link to article about pension reform] " "Washington 2004 = Berlin 1934..." if that'd help. but i read too much of that stuff already. Others do it better and, what's more, seem to enjoy doing it.

An unconservative conservative is more, i think, like Trent Lott when he went on BET begging for his job back, which he somehow perceived the watchers of BET were in a position to give, on the basis that he'd had a sudden Damascus-style conversion to affirmative action. I can't make an aphorism out of this - but it would have something to do with believing that there should be no racial discrimination when hiring people unless you're about to lose your job because you expressed approval of racial discrimination [UPDATE: Still no aphorism forthcoming!]

tu quoque
Owlington, I agree that my last quote was a little unclear, and maybe this one will be unclear as well, but I’ll go ahead anyway. I really don’t see why Maclamity is obligated to criticize conservatism. This is a blog which obviously entails giving an opinion. Maclamity only has a limited amount of time in which to formulate and opinion based upon things that he has read. If he criticizes one group more than another, that’s his prerogative. If you’d like to see more criticism of conservatism, start your own blog.

I personally find, that in some cases, criticism can be somewhat flattering. I don’t bother disagreeing with people if there isn’t some aspect of their argument that isn’t captivating or convincing. Otherwise it’s a little like kicking a sick dog, sure you’ve won, but who cares? My only point before was to suggest that it shouldn’t be necessary for Maclamity to criticize conservatism. Maybe his aim in this blog isn’t to take down conservatism, but rather to rectify liberalism, and if that is indeed his aim, any mention of the faults of conservatism is irrelevant.

Owly von Owlington
Well, Maclamity, speaking in your own defense, and having been presented with a rousing defense by tu quoque and the turtle, it seems that:

1. You criticize certain liberals for being hypocrites (for being intolerant, for making bad arguments),
2. You criticize liberals more often than other political ideologues because:
2a. You are a liberal and are directing a criticism to those who you ideologically agree with (somewhat), but whose exprsesion of their ideology irks you and/or
2b. You more often read liberal articles and therefore find more often find instances in which to criticize liberals and/or
2c. Criticizing conservatives or other political ideologues for being hypocritical or for making bad arguments is too easy and/or
2d. Must necessarily take the hysterical form of "Bush is a Liar!" and/or
2e. Conservatives don't pretend to be tolerant or factual, so they can't be held to those standards

AND AND AND

3. This is your blog, so you can say whatever you want and don't have to say anything else...
4. And, apparently, a cheeky criticism of your blog is going to get shouted down by outstanding (but misplaced) rhetorical flourishes...
Which is all find and good. And, of course, I except that this is your blog and you don't have to do anything you don't want.
And the only points I really make, and I've made them before are that:

1. You do an admirable job of demanding that people are textual and rigorous in their arguments, and not hypocritical, except that you only ever seem to call liberals to task for this, and frankly, in a fairly cheeky manner (by which, I mean, in linking to an article on Dylan, look at the one quote you pulled out), which, to the second point:

2. For an avid reader of the Maclamity, like your humble Owly, may tend to notice --> Maclamity often slams the liberals for being hypocrites, for being lazy, etc., etc., yet Maclamity doesn't really slam the conservatives for the same, and Maclamity doesn't often say AHA! now here is a fucking brilliant bit of exposition in a liberal vein --> which leaves Owly with a strange impression of what the Maclamity is --> and all Owly asks, which is what Owly often asks when reading Kausfiles, watching Kaus slam Kerry relentlessly, under the banner of "I'm a registered Democrat

And, Maclamity, of course this is your blog and you can say what you want. But can't Owly be critical or disagree with you on message board? Or is Owly's only outlet starting his own Owly.com blog?
Maclamity, Owly is but a faithful reader who apologizes for his grammar, spelling, and typos...

2. For an avid reader of the Maclamity, like your humble Owly, may tend to notice --> Maclamity often slams the liberals for being hypocrites, for being lazy, etc., etc., yet Maclamity doesn't really slam the conservatives for the same, and Maclamity doesn't often say AHA! now here is a fucking brilliant bit of exposition in a liberal vein --> which leaves Owly with a strange impression of what the Maclamity is --> and all Owly asks, which is what Owly often asks when reading Kausfiles, watching Kaus slam Kerry relentlessly, under the banner of "I'm a registered Democrat but...," without ever really positively or constructively adding much to the case of liberalism, which is, What's the point?

Owly's own bit of rhetoric still seems to stand:Maclamity, you have arrived at an unsettling consistency in depicting, let's call it a lack of textual rigor, as a flaw of liberalism (based on your posts), and that's such complete bullshit.

Intellectual laziness can be called-out pretty well across the political spectrum, and intellectual self-delusion, too - you seem to take a special pleasure in afixing that tag to the back of liberalism. Why is that?

And if the answer is, because some stupid college liberals at el centro chicano pissed me off because they were so goddamned hypocritical and lacked any analytical rigor when they were protesting prop 182 and this is my goddamned blog and i'll post whatever i want so fuck off.

Well, that's a fine answer. Owly accepts that.
So does MacLAmity need to add anything to this debate? He feels like the 5-year-old in a custody battle. But MacLamity has to say this much: generally his posts don't attack liberalism. What he really enjoys, more than anything else, is an Old-Skool, JS Mill, Gladstonian, Keynesian, Bentham-ite liberal launching a rocket at the far lunar orbital reaches of the far left. It wasn't el centro chicano that pissed me off. It's those on the left who didn't stand up to el centro because they thought doing so would somehow be right-ist, wrongist, and racist. When I was at Columbia, a group demanded, and got, the abolition of what it called Red Tape in rape cases. The red tape, it turned out, were things like the right of the accused to know the name of his or her accuser, the campus equivalent of habeus corpus, and the presumption of innocence. MacLamity is all for the extermination of rape and the effective prosecution of its perpetrators - how could he not be? He realizes that the justice system makes it harder for the accuser in a rape case than the accused. But this response to a diffuse, yet real, threat had unthinkingly, naively, and effectively created a campus-scale Patriot Act. That's what makes MacLamity burn - someone hijacking a vehicle of necessary reform and riding it into the Elizabethan Era, right into the star chamber.

What causes my fury sounds to Owlington like a monomaniacal love of textual rigor. It is also, as Tu Quoque intuits, a real loathing of those who claim to be for the causes of the left and yet, in their actions, show contempt for the beliefs and facts that make leftness, leftitude, a viable ideology.

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What I read two weeks ago. I think the main problem with BS Johnson's work is that it is so easy to see how they could be better that it's hard to notice how good they actually are.

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Wide SCREEN
"In the current rejection of the close-up in mainstream cinema, filmmakers seem to have learnt nothing from the past," writes ark Cousins in the
prospect. But then misses the point. What he really dislikes is huge CGI battle scenes, which everybody seems to hate. "Even in vast paintings - of battles, landscapes, coronations - the human beings tended to be no more than twice or thrice our size. But Greta Garbo's inscrutable face was hundreds of times bigger than that of those who read their own thoughts into it. Therein lies the wonder of the movies," he writes at the beginning.

But saying that the close-up is antithetical to these scenes misses what's wrong with them. Saying that the close-up is cinema's unique selling point is worse. Jean Renoir's drew his characters in long shots, in contrast to each other, and their movement in the two dimensional realm of the screen, their falling in and out of view, is another thing that sells cinema. Any of those characters, particularly the bourgeois played by Jean Gabin, would be ghost-like on their own. Only through Renoir's wide view of their talks at rooms and tables do they have substance. Bazin thought Renoir's use of the long shot was democratic. I'm not so sure. It can sometimes make people purely decorative. But the close up also has its dangers. It turns the face into a map of a person's emotions, but it expressly does not show the person itself. Hitchcock's use of the closeup at the beginning of Vertigo is the best proof of this i can think of. Kim Novak's face is broken up into its constituent features in a series of extreme close ups. That's Vertigo's horrible story in 7 shots: A person disappears. But a woman remains. There are those who do the same with a close up without meaning to, and it's for that reason that the close-ups of Helen were as dead and uninteresting as the long shot of 1,000 ships in 'Troy.'

Monday, July 05, 2004

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Finally SOME FACTS ON THIS BLOG!

Exegesis: MacLamity can't even remember what his point was, or why he got so steamed. It was something to do, he believes, with him getting pissed off about Americans sweating over how the world would perceive the Jacksonippelous half-time show, which, i think, i ranted about because it seemed so typical of Americans that even those who purport to be so concerned about foreigners still assume that foreigners would watch something like the super bowl, simply because it's such a big deal in the U.S. More foreigners would read Emily Dickinson than watch the supergoal, was my guess. I backed it up with Amazon and someone reemed me for doing it. But hey, here's something: more people watched a (thrilling) first-round game of Euro 2004 than watched the Super Bowl in America. (The New York Times) 118 million people for the France-England game v. 90 million U.S. citizens for the Superbowl!

Facts and MacLamity are friends again!

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My personal favorite is the one where you reel the bird into view. The inflatable bird is also good.

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The most promising movie title since Baby Geniuses.

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One of the more satisfying corrections I've read in a long time. There are some things those well-paid idiots in charge of our foremost media simply don't know.

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MacLAmity's GAY SEX WEEKEND
After a rough Friday night, which involved passing out then puking on a balcony of an art deco cocktial bar, MacLamity had little energy or desire to show his humiliated face around Brussels. Which meant movies. Fate, for reasons known only to herself, organized a film festival in MacLamity's life called PEOPLE HAVING SEX THE GAY WAY 2004. Every movie was fantastic:
Heavenly Creatures
Mala Educacion
An over-the-top orgy episode of 'Queer as Folk,' or rather since Queer as Folk has made over-the-top orgies seem as regular as brutal murder is in CSI, an over-the-top over-the-top orgy episode
Krampac (apparently aka Nico and Dani)
...with an honory mention to Una Vez Al Año ser hippy no hace daño, which had no gay sex according to modern definitions, but was made in Franco's time. A gay guy showing up at parties in Torremolinos and introducing people to a man in black who he says is a vampire from Germany called Rudi pretty much counts.
Gay sex scenes gets less and less shocking for MacLamity to watch, but movies with gay sex in them seem to get more and more frightening. Mala Educacion is the first real film noir in years, simply because it has sexual paranoia (which is a crucial to the suspense of, say, Double Indemnity, but is utterly lacking in White Heat forty years later because, really, if William Hurt and Kathleen Turner want to have sex - what's the big deal? It's the 80s). MacLAmity, slow as ever, assumed that Maleducacion was going to be a coming-of-age story set in the claustrophobia of Spanish religious schools, even after a title sequence which practically had this credit: TITLES AND MUSIC taken deliberately from ALFRED HITCHCOCK and BERNARD HERMAN to give you a hint that this movies going to be a dark thriller. When a character walked out of a theater showing "Cinema Negra" films and said pathetically 'I feel all the movies are talking about us,' MacLamity finally let go of his faint hope that the movie was going to be a Spanish 'Stand By Me' for those molested at Catholic Schools. But at the same time, Maleducacion suffers because the director doesn't take enough of a turn towards the dark side. There needed to be more to show how far his obsessions had drawn him into the noir - more than a grim sex scene. Or maybe there was, and MacLamity should avoid judging movies which have subtitles in one language he half-understands and one he doesn't translating a language he barely understands (but every time a character said "Maracon" MacLamity knew exactly what they meant).

P.S. Check out what the woman played by Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures is up to these days. Check out "Anne Perry"'s biography in particular: "When I was a teenager (yes, I actually was one!) I went to my father with a particular problem hoping he could help me. However, instead of telling him the problem I stood there humming and hawing and became extremely frustrated as I was just not being able to get across what I wanted to say. At which point I said, ' I can't explain it very well, but I know what I mean.' And he said to me, 'No, you don't know what you mean. If you did, you would have the words to explain it.' And he was right. Words, the precise words, are important and they can only come once an idea has been grasped, fully. My father was very good at getting to the essence of a problem, in his work as an astronomer, mathematician and nuclear physicist he was used to dealing with precise details and language. He was therefore able to explain things in a way that was exact and vivid. This lesson has stayed with me and has helped immensely." The only sentence I imagine is true here is "When I was a teenager (yes, I actually was one!) I went to my father with a particular problem hoping he could help me."

Friday, July 02, 2004

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How TO MAKE A MAP OF EVERY THOUGHT YOU MAKE
"You'll see the little thoughts moving around: we need to be a map. After playing around with it, and remembering our connections, we draw the following:


STRUCTURE RECRUITING


POPULATING `4 `2 `3 `5
wiki map soft
\ /
SOFTWARE
CHANGES------VOTING |
/ email
VERSIONING `1


How's that? Isn't that neat?"

Well

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Le Monde is one to talk. ALthough actually this has to be one of the better NYT-crisis articles I've read recently.

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What TO DO IN RUSSIA WHEN YOU'RE...
"Stalin had 15 scenic seaside villas, some of them czarist palaces, on the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia. In 2002, I visited and photographed these extraordinarily well-preserved Stalinist time capsules. At one point, I asked an old caretaker if any other Westerners had visited them. 'No,' she replied, 'but there was an Arab gentleman in 1970's who insisted on visiting every one!' His name? 'Saddam Hussein.' " -- SS Montefiore. The New York Times:

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Dumbing DOWN OF DUMBING DOWN
Among the perpetual race for the bottom among TV news stations it's kind of a relief to learn that there is a bottom there, where the competitors say, "OK, you win." NBC got there yesterday, fantastically so.
No network was more red-faced than NBC, which passed up the chance to broadcast, at the same time as every other television news outlet, the first scenes of the former dictator in the courtroom. NBC chose instead to continue a taped interview with the movie star Robert Redford, followed by a live badminton match between Katie Couric, the anchor of the network's "Today" program, and competitors from the United States Olympic badminton team. "We made a bad call," said Allison Gollust, the spokeswoman for NBC News.
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