He hangs out in cafes and says little. He does himself the service of having read a lot but saying very little about it, for he does not admire zeal concerning things of the intellect as much as he admires things of the intellect. His final, defining protestation occurs in the face of his horribly failed relationships with women (though he identifies himself only aesthetically with bisexuality), and that protestation is this: ‘I’m not a human and I never wanted to be.’ If one leaves him at the café where this is uttered, one might never see him again.
The ‘genius’ who is ever unhappy with his inability to articulate anything (despite the fact that clarity is usually a trait associated with ‘genius’). He constantly cringes, winces and physically beats his hand against his head because he can not squeeze the words out which, in his mind, reach beyond the temporal categories of Kant. His culture praises him constantly for that which he cannot say.
Many have tried to discover from where it is that the artistic impulse finds its birth. Over-abundance of energy, intoxication or delirium itself, night dreams of waking images transcribed through the imagination—perhaps it is all or none of these. We are probably no closer to understanding the mechanics of the artistic impulse than we were four centuries ago. It is merely something that passes through us or which we pass through.
Many thinkers have tried to develop aesthetic theories and trace perimeters around those impulses that are responsible for art. Science has little to say about art, save where it agrees with psychology that art is some sort of post-primordial aberration of sentience.
In their insecurity over their own beliefs or exhaustion with the beliefs of others, many artists have espoused an art-for-art-sake ideal while others have turned art into a holy sanctuary where ‘the story’ or ‘the meaning’ or the ‘moral’ might shine through, progressing the pilgrim of their means to an end which all can understand. Provincial literatures democratically provide us with the opportunity to see what it is about people belonging to specific demographics that make them more interesting than you.
What most art shares in common is the sense of project—that there is a structure with a means and end if not a means to an end.
What is experimental literature, in most cases, but a pastiche of means to one end? Where does the experiment, the formal unfamiliarity, finally grace the reader with familiarity? The experiment, especially in literature, may possess the ability to grant a feeling offamiliarity in a non-literary way, as it is with writers who try to write in ways that more accurately reflect ‘consciousness’ (to say nothing of the great many who have failed).
Most cases of experimental art refuse to let the subject become an instrument of the end, but rather, mix him into the very paint, the very mud of the text in order that the means might come through in a way that, while distorted, is meant to be absorbed in a more ‘lifelike’ way. The bizarre techniques of Joyce, say, better acquaint us with everyday situations by the very fact that they are represented in a totally alien manner.
People have been proclaiming that the novel is dead ever since it was born. Well, the novel is certainly not dying, but the ability of major publishing houses to distinguish between quality literature and literature which best suits the narrative of some culture made exotic in direct adverse to America's wish to assimilate (and thus destroy) that very culture is certainly on the rise. Publishing houses have opted for releasing titles by the son of Belarusian parents, the daughter of Slovokian immigrants, and survivor poets of various social cleansings. The young authors will then do the television and radio circuit, explaining their backgrounds and family histories as though these were synonymous with their book. Publishing houses can then carry on their ever retrograde vocation to make the present appear more like the days of yore by aligning their company missions to models of publishing houses in the 1940s, fresh with the manifold cultural memories of Ellis Island, by which America can perpetuate its self-created, messianic myth which pits it as savior to the wanderer and the dislocated. Those who work in the top, competing publishing houses will get constant pressure from the top to publish that book by the Palestinian girl who lost both her parents (which, for better or worse, will offer booksellers great categorical difficulties if nothing else) while the Israeli soldier's story is destined to stay somewhere in the corner of the republican wing of the politics section for reasons which escape all modes of empirical knowledge in favor of a sort of base level intuisionism. Another rule is that all previously over-used representations must be passed off as new, often at all costs. 'Desperation' is its own genre in American literature, with plenty of subgenres to follow: Quiet Desperation, Suburban Desperation, Sexual Desperation, Spiritual Desperation ...
Provisional literature is the guilt of western hemogenization. It is the very representation destroyed by that which promotes it. It is not enough to simply shout 'racist' at those destroyers of peoples and erasers of ideas. They are worse than racists, for rather than simply hating a race, they go great lengths to make a museum exhibition to commemorate the races's death before it even has a chance to 'assimilate' into American culture, (assimilation is the death which celebrates itself).
Styles cannot be affected where they are not sought in advance. The problem in finding an overarching narrative by which to guide the reader along some path is that, when there arrives a moment when something of distinction might be learned in the fluid music of words, it is already rendered ineffectual by the vehicles through which it was communicated, for the play of concepts and narrative forces all too often speak as a seducer. It is the very nature of seduction which puts the seducee immediately on edge. There is the faith that something good will come out of the seduction while the intentions in delivering it through such non immediate means compromise one’s ability to submit to its integrity. All of ‘art for art’s sake’ is born from this contingency. A highly codified and mostly intuited sense of ‘beauty’ takes both longer to hypostasize and longer to dissolve, in contradistinction to the values being espoused on the entirely discursive narrative path of the work, which is to say, simply, it’s ‘political message.’ ‘Art for art’s sake’ is, as much as anything else, a sense of timidity concerning its own underlying cultural memes, with conscious irony. It is not surprising that novels which have stood up well as ‘art for art’s sake’ have survived in the west and have been adopted not only into the cannon of literature, but into the avaricious hands of particular parties wishing to be validified, somehow, by history. ‘Art for art’s sake’ is a discursive back door. There is also the hidden implication that a desired utopia is given a ‘sneak preview’ when ‘art for art’s sake’ is given free reign with its own set of tools. In such art, the mechanics of politics is completely leapt over in favor of its desired results. One should not be fooled by the artist’s contention that the beautiful hallows the ugly. The ugly subject matter has always hidden within it a germ of the very truth which inspired the whole piece. For instance, a novel in which murder is defined as a ‘liberating’ or ‘Dostoyevskian’ act is often only capable of depicting crime at the hands of a criminal type, for the anomaly of something so removed from polite society gives the reader the freedom to reject that depicted murder on their terms—sometimes on account of its eloquent style! The eloquence of style, where it is attached to bourgeois values, no matter how grotesque the actual ‘content,’ will always yank the reader back into this world despite the intentions of the author. Being yanked into ‘this’ world is the final desire of a much more decadent aim of the writer—to make the grotesque norm of the potential ‘tomorrow’ palpable to the mind of now. Since this is only a subterraneous intention, the writer may not be aware of his doing it.
It used to be my contention that hipsters don't actually exist, but that they used to. Well, some trace of them probably exist in dark corners of Brooklyn, LA and Chicago, but let's face it; everyone else who usually get called hipsters are just people with square, thick-framed glasses. They might be familiar with things you're not. Grow up and ask them about it. If they're condescending, tell them to piss off or just shrug and exit the unpleasant exchange. Don't create an epidemic out of them. They're harmless.
This insult has become as easy as it is meaningless. Anyone who leans toward an uncompromising authoritarianism certainly comes close, but right wingers have been easy targets. The more right wing you are, the more likely someone is going to shout 'fascist' at you to cut you off. Fascists certainly had strong authoritarian and racist objectives, but they were also socialists. If anything, they represent an unprecedented historical aberration which doesn't easily fit into either the left or the right. While a fascist approximation is certainly warranted in some cases, falling back on this insult is a sign that you don't actually have a coherent criticism.
This is similar to being called a hipster, in that the activity designating its identification is subservient to the identification itself (this is how base-level bigotry works). Don't show any disinclination to favor something in the favor of someone who does, or you will earn a bad name. It's best not to even respond to anyone who accuses you of this. It just reveals that they're willing to self-police their thoughts and emotions without a moment's hesitation. You don't even need to make a case for yourself. You simply have taste.
Used for society as a whole, this is campus culture and metanarrative run amok. To unmask the role of family in order to open the borders of experience is one thing, but to draw a picture of a master-and-slave narrative which includes, not a culture, but the entire population of all humans for all time is ... shall we say, incomplete.
Society has both patriarchal and matriarchal elements to it, and both are necessary to some degree for balance. It's true that we certainly don't need all of one or all of the other, but we should rather be focusing on corruption where we can locate it, rather than drawing up abstract conspiracies which fall back on concrete variables like biology only when convenient.
Slovaj Zizek on 'divine violence.'
'...the way [bourgeois liberals] try to amend it is through a direct "terrorist" imposition of more and more de facto equality (equal salaries, equal health service...), which can only be imposed through new forms of formal inequality (different sorts of preferential treatments of the under-privileged). In short, the axiom of "equality" means either not enough (it remains the abstract form of actual inequality) or too much (enforce "terrorist" equality) - it is a formalist notion in a strict dialectical sense, i.e., its limitation is precisely that its form is not concrete enough, but a mere neutral container of some content that eludes this form.'
Zizek teases out some interesting psychological implications of socialism that he, as a socialist, is nevertheless not afraid to confront head on. The Reign of Terror is something most liberals, especially of my generation, would rather forget.
In the workplace, cake on a napkin is the implication that comfort should not be wholly comfortable, nor should it be entirely without that necessary bit of unceremoniousity which leisure requires before it too quickly resembles work.
Any bit of effort employed in the service of leisure, especially when occurring either off the clock or in a blocked out fragment that would otherwise be spent working, is a reminder that there is always work to be done, even if it is only as simple as cleaning a plate in the sink when one is finished eating. Leisure is a game of significations in which polite reciprocation allows brief moments of anxious engagement with the very lack of work traced by the anticipation of the moment it picks up again. Cake on a napkin is the ostentatious sign of the gift of time in none too certain terms, but whose security is gaurunteed by a semi-formal unity of ceremony to be determined by the subservient agent.
Society is addicted to scapegoating. It provides easy answers and easy targets without the cumbersome business of personal responsibility.
Making oneself look like a victim is effective if one wants sympathy (whose physical manifestation is money) and it makes the scapegoat look worse if you can pull off a brilliant exegesis.
In a fundamentally ego-driven society, in which people are taught since birth that they deserve everything they want, but also that they should be kind to others, one then naturally wants to be the one to whom people are kind, but without having to sacrifice an ounce of comfort. If you can guilt people into giving you what you want, why not?
Today's egalitarianism is built on this kind of configuration. You look out for victims first, because they're the first priority. So what does everyone do? Try to play the part of the biggest victim. The people who whine the most get the most sympathy.
Soon, laws get changed, the definition of corruption widens (along with rape and violence) and pretty soon, interest groups have flooded the market of narratives with a series of special demands imposed on people who would have otherswise left them alone. No one says no to free, but if there's a mechanism to free, you can be sure it is going to be exploited at every turn possible.
Today's egalitarianism requires a villain which has been doing all the oppressing, otherwise, it is feared that no one will believe the victim. New villains are always needed to satisfy this demand. Villains are the surplus created by our secular need for charity, which is devoid of any transcendant element.
Today, there might be more people than ever identifying themselves as The Other in order to better qualify as victims, but this only leads to a destructive, resentful kind of charity.
What we need, rather, is a sense of charity in which the fundamental initial engagement with The Other is one where an almost alchemical ethical transformation signifies them as Neighbor.
A neighbor is someone close at hand. It is hard to ignore the need of the neighbor when it is so easy to meet it, and when it is more likely going to be reciprocated in some form in the future.
This may all sound like an updated yet still sentimental take on charity, but on the contrary, I would argue that it gets closer to principle. Emotional appeals are not needed for true egalitarianism and are, in fact, harmful to it, for an irrational excitation is always needed in order to move people to the point of action. Again, this is usually accomplished through identifying an endless chain of transgressors and their victims.
The type of society I envision, rather, is one where people don't spend excess energy trying to determine who deserves charity, but rather, one in which charity is a rational, automatic function of maintaining order. The abundance of energy born from this cultural turn would then shift our concerns to the opposite end of the pole: We would then begin asking ourselves how to better help those who helped us without a moment's hesitation in kind.
Demcracy would only be ethical if it was voluntary. Yes, it is voluntary now in the sense that one can vote or not vote, but one born into a democratic system is not given another option for organizing a society.
Ideally, one would make the choice to form a democratic union with a small group of people whom one knows personally. But even this would be a matter of preference. There is nothing inherently moral about democracy. It is a style of decision making which was necessary to people in times of crisis, when masses had little else to hold corrupt rulers in check than quick, violent decision making. It is unhealthy for a large group of people to follow so closely to methods of organization that were birthed from disorder. The larger the group of voters, the bigger the chances are for fragmentation and divisiveness.
Let voting not be a subject of moral evaluation, but a personal matter one can pick up and put down. Rules to a game one can just as soon stop playing.
A year ago, Breitbart writer, Milo Yiannoupolos, did a scathing piece on the Left's endorsement of pedophiles.
In it, he went through a series of cases in which he pointed toward a narrative that's been accruing for many years now, and which has only recently reached the pinnacle of frankness outside of NAMBLA.
The narrative is a moral approximation between homosexuality and pedophilia on biological grounds, thus deeming it another sexual preference. This only works as an argument if one accepts a strictly biological view of morality--in this case, that sexual cravings are not a choice and would, thus, be unfairly considered wrong. If you don't accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle then neither pedophilia nor homosexuality present any new moral dilemmas.
However, anyone who falls prey to this moral approximation either doesn't have children or suffers from a mental illness.
In order for pedophiles to be the 'new gays,' the reciprocal nature of morality must be completely done away with (which, if we're honest, is throwing morality out altogether, but no one is applauding pedophiles for understanding this distinction).
On the most fundamental level, this moral approximation reveals the complete fallacy of the common argument for the gay lifestyle. Often, it is argued that they don't have a choice when it should rather be argued that they are consenting adults who can do what they damned well please if it hurts no one else.
Pedophiles counter this by saying children are capable of consent and are demeaned by anyone who would deny them pleasure.
The reason this is a sociopathic argument is that it reasons the way a pedophiliac fantasy would: in a world without parents. It not only assumes that moral precepts exist in and of themselves, unattached to any subjects or scales of gradation, but it presupposes the character of a moral affirmation which would conveniently both fulfill its desire while negating every precept of a contrary opinion on the mere grounds that it is harmful to the desire in question. The mechanism is quite clear and depends on a great deal of emotion.
While Milo's article poignantly brought up a genuine concern, I think he worries a bit too much about this argument's potential to gain currency amongst normal, healthy individuals; not because the argument sounds totally unconvincing, but rather, because the only people who would fall for it are pedophiles, and the last people who would accept it are precisely the ones whose minds pedophiles want to change: namely, parents.
Children require guidance and are in need of nurturing. To turn the moral axis to such a pole that parents should be expected to let their children be subjects of a stranger's whims is a more dialectical version of the power play suffered by victims of sexual abuse ('there's nothing wrong with this, it's okay'). Certainly, I've heard cases of parents who accept this kind of argument, but they are the exception and not the rule; usually pedophiles and sociopaths themselves. If this were not the case, perhaps we would refer to children without parents as 'independent prepubescents.' But we don't. We call them 'orphans.'
To compare homosexuality to pedophilia on a moral scale is dishonest. People who advocate and accept pedophilia as a legitimate sexual orientation are not much different than rapists who threaten their victims with death if they tell anyone what happened to them, but in their case, instead of a death threat, the implied threat is that if you don't agree with them, you'll be called a bigot.
The reason phedophiles will never be the next gays is that I suspect a majority of parents don't mind being called bigots for protecting their children and most of them don't care if they hurt the feelings of anyone who minds.
Another reason it won't happen is that, with gays, it's not uncommon to see couples fighting for their rights. You never see children fighting for the rights of pedophiles because children don't like pedophiles.
Anyone who says otherwise is living in a fantasy.
One of the fundamental problems anarchy poses in its most radical form is its insistence on the abolition of property in a world that has a fundamentally symbiotic relationship with property.
Many anarchists scoff at arguments that if there was no government, some other government would replace it. The reality is that a country abrogated of all government is then open to the world property market. An anarchistic people who refuse to recognize international currency exchange would be out of luck if they didn't choose to fight the new landlord. This amounts to a perpetual civil war, assuming that the anarchists in question remain intolerant of the state tenants coextensive with the expanding property of surrounding states. Violence is their prerogative, if they so choose, but fighting forever would, I imagine, get tiring.
What would then be required is some union or organization that could make contracts with the surrounding nation states. Some militia is then formed to protect from invaders, but sometimes the wrong people get shot. Courts are set up to determine how someone might be wrongfully shot. But then the courts get paid off in stolen tomatoes or whatever barter currency would exist, and soon, people start saying that the court needs to be accountable to someone else, and pretty soon, you have a government, in which everyone is accountable to someone else. If things get bad enough, someone is always appointed the leader or a despot takes advantage of the cracks in the system.
This is not to totally discredit anarchy, but rather, to examine why all free zones, no matter how long they lasted, either failed or adopted some model of overarching societal management. Also, the paradoxical border problem explains why most anti-statist movements have been socialist in nature--the free property of the inhabitants is maintained, not by abundance, but is traced by the borders of surrounding empires. Basic needs must be compromised reciprocally from within.
This reveals a more fundamental, ontological character in anarchy which its popular discourses rarely lend explicit enunciation. It is that anarchy could only function in its fullest terms if the whole world was anarchic.
But here's where it gets tricky: the world already is, always has been and always will be transcendantally anarchic, in that each nation organizes itself as it chooses at first, before making itself ever more reciprocally dependent on national defensive contracts which keep everyone from invading everyone else for as long as possible.
The world is already the laboratory. We already know what happens when large scale governance takes place. Perhaps the future will see the borders retract to such a degree that we can see them at the ends of our fingertips.
Use what works for you when creating. You can imitate older forms if you must, but eventually, to make something new, you'll have to appropriate other forms.
Every art form that appears new is an accretion of countless others. Ripping off one person is plagiarism. Ripping off ten people is originality.
Take the novel, for instance. It started out in an awkward narrative mode because its only example was epic poetry. It was comprised of letters, diaries from characters, and first hand news reports. The novel leveled out and soon a common standard was imposed on narrative. After a while, these same older methods were introduced back into the novel as means of experimentation.
Use everything that works and throw the rest out. If you try to be too conventional or go out of your way to be unlike anything anyone has seen, you may miss the potential of what can be accomplished with balance.
Don't worry about the style beforehand. The style will take care of itself when you focus on delivering what you have to communicate in the clearest way you can
One of the best 'similar to's' I've ever seen. Today's politics really are WWF wrestling with a few variety numbers thrown in.
Bruce Lee on Jeet Kune Do.
'I have not invented a "new style," composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from "this" method or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see "ourselves". . . Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don't, and that is that. There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way. Jeet Kune Do is simply the direct expression of one's feelings with the minimum of movements and energy. The closer to the true way of Kung Fu, the less wastage of expression there is. Finally, a Jeet Kune Do man who says Jeet Kune Do is exclusively Jeet Kune Do is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his self-closing resistance, in this case anchored down to reactionary pattern, and naturally is still bound by another modified pattern and can move within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive. Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back.'
What would Bruce Lee's method look like if applied to politics? One might say that it would be chaos, but the important thing to remember is that his method always keeps the strongest and easiest solution and gets rid of what doesn't or no longer works.
If I had to pick a fundamental principle to get it started, I would posit that a society with more voluntary collaboration would be best suited to experimentation.
The question would arise: Who is organizing and experimenting? Who's getting things done? Perhaps you'd need/want some kind of council. Keeping in mind that the council is voluntary, the people would be able to take their advise or accept their leadership as it suited them, sort of like joining a club or lodge. Perhaps each club, union or lodge would have its own rules, but no one's forcing you in; if you don't like the rules, don't join.
Problem solving would be key. One wouldn't stick to the same tired economic formula if the means of spending started to transcend the goods they represented (no fiat money).
Power would be reciprocal in nature, as it is anyway. Sure, the unions, communes and clubs could trade with one another, but someone is always going to worry about civil unrest.
Perhaps there's a federation that encourages widespread communication between unions. The more groups are overseen, the less actual power is had by the overseer, rather the overseers would make it their specialty to learn about the nature of each union, even the cultures therein.
If a council didn't work, or a federation, they can be adjusted and done away with, or put into some other form altogether. The key is cooperation.
Would problems go away? Of course not. But that's the whole point of such organicity. Problems can be dealt with in a near infinite variety of ways without the rigidity of paper law. By 'paper law' let me refer to those contracts one is expected to fulfill without one's consent, and in some cases, without one's being aware. As things stand now, people can be imprisoned for not providing the right paper in order to have other paper on hand. This isn't reciprocal.
When we focus more on things being reciprocal, with the best, easiest methods in place, problems may arise, but they aren't permanent. The laws we have now aren't even permanent, but the stakes are so high when laws change today. It can mean the difference between health and illness, life and death.
If we use only what is best, the stakes will be lowered to a radical degree.
'I try to remain open, reminding myself that all is permissible as I work. Of course, that doesn’t let me off the hook later—ultimately, I have to live with any work I publish and make public. But it’s a very freeing feeling during the composition process, when I try to keep in mind that nothing is off-limits.
Sometimes, this is very difficult. There have been times when I’m writing about things that are personally embarrassing. Like any human being, sometimes I can’t help but wonder—what are the people I know going to think about this? So I have to remind myself that all is permissible. Art has to be a free space. Language has to be a free space. And I just shouldn’t worry about that kind of thing while I’m working. I might pay the consequences later, but that’s not my problem while I’m doing the writing.'
William T. Vollmann's take on a famous aphorism by Hassan-i Sabbah: 'Nothing is true; all is permissible.'
Seems to work best for artists and mercenaries. Go figure.
Historically, reactionaries were those who opposed the French Revolution. Today, 'reactionary' is thrown around to describe anyone who doesn't agree with you.
It's human nature to react. It's a basic instinct for survival. The problem arises when dogma is made out of a reaction.
Some modern movements have acknowledged the reactionary nature of their ideology, such as neoreactionaries (as one would rightly guess). However, reactionary forces don't strictly belong to some traditionalist Right, opposing the spirit of revolution. You see a similar attitude on all fronts.
For some, fighting racists isn't good enough: they exhibit the same racist attitudes toward the one group whom they feel is oppressing them. Likewise, people who have bad experiences in church growing up become militant secularists. People who get attacked by their ultra-PC peers find comfort by following a few Alt-Right blogs and pretty soon, you hear them incessantly comparing the average IQ's of different races to make some point. Men who are tired of feminists start claiming that it is actually men who are oppressed.
What do they all have in common? They've found a community, and thus, for better or worse, a new party line.
The best thing to keep these communities thriving is a scapegoat: whether it's men, women, white people, black people, Jews, Rightists, Leftists, gays, heterosexuals or an aristocracy.
It's easier to find a scapegoat if the party in question can out-victim another group. The biggest victim wins cosmic sympathy and becomes, in this secular age, something akin to an inverted God; some version of Jesus with narrative emphasis on the degree of wounds rather than the level of innocence.
Most of this provides mere psychological restitution, more than anything. Each party calls the other 'fascist;' an indication that the conversation has ended.
We know how this ends, usually. The French Revolution's Reign of Terror and The Holocaust had something in common. Both of them saw some kind of solution in wiping out entire bloodlines.
Our next step forward, as a species, will have to happen without this enormous degree of scapegoating and its coextensive self-proclaimed victimization.
There will have to come a time when patriotism stops meaning arbitrary pride in something someone else did. We'll have to be personally responsible for who we help and harm. When that day comes, will we describe our position as 'auto-reactionary?' Perhaps we will reach such a stage of maturity that all wars and revolutions will become internalized.
We will have made progress when we replace 'Donald Trump' with 'anyone.'