we don't know it

… jede Stunde mit dem letzten Schlag von tausend unschuldigen Herzen durch die Welt dröhnen müsste – “every hour must roar throughout the world with the last beats of a thousand innocent hearts.”

Optimist: But all wars have ended with peace.

Faultfinder: Not this one. This one has not taken place on the surface of life… no, it has raged inside life itself. The front has been extended to the whole country. And there it will stay. And this changed life, if there still is life, will be accompanied by the old spiritual condition. The world is perishing and we won’t know it. Everything was yesterday and will be forgotten; no one will see today or be afraid of tomorrow. They will forget that the war was lost, forget they began it, foret they fought it. That is why the war won’t end.

- Karl Kraus, taken from Calasso’s essay, The Perpetual War.

LI just had a nice chat with Amy Chua, the woman who wrote World on Fire, about her new book, Day of Empire. We did the interview for the Austin Statesman. After hanging up, we went to the computer and read the newspapers, and the happy feeling got shot all full of holes, and started leaking on the rug.

We made a resolve last spring to write much less about Iraq on this site because that seemed hopeless and narcissistic. Nothing we said, no analysis we made, mattered. One could apply that criticism to the collectivity of what we have said about anything – but only a mean person would do that, right?

However, like the federal response to Katrina, the Nisoor Square massacre is not only a crime in itself, but a special crime, a representative crime. Usually we can trust the media to cover up representative crimes while making non-representative crimes household names – thus, the media attention devoted to the doings of OJ Simpson were in typical and amazing disproportion to the reality of crime in America, which does not generally consist of rich black men killing their white ex wives, but of poor black men railroaded into prison by any means possible to preserve the subtending structures of the battered Jim Crow system. Which is déjà vu all over again – the same thing happened in the South in the 1880s, when the Federal government surrendered on the 13th and 14th amendment to the White South and the White South, to assure its dominance before the legal structure of Jim Crow was set up, did the same disenfranchisement by way of prison thing.

However, the media’s record of distraction and decoying is not 100%. Sometimes, they accidentally stumble upon a real representative crime. The Nisoor Square massacre is one of them. Among its inglorious aspects is how it lifts into the intermittent glare of public attention a history going back twenty years, to the intervention in Yugoslavia.

Now, controversies about that intervention always seem to go around in a circle of assumptions that I think aren’t true. Unlike the invasion of Iraq, it simply isn’t true that Clinton came into office wanting a more interventionist foreign policy. And I’ve read no credible account that points to the White House as the driver of the intervention – it was driven at a lower level. But it was driven by the same means that were employed in the pre-war campaign of 2002 – trickery, lies, and the crucial work of a dedicated group of liberal publicists tied to a group of people, like Peter Galbraith, at that time ambassador to Croatia, determined to pull the U.S. in, and willing to break international law to do it. In Yugoslavia, as in Colombia, the Clinton administration turned, like some dog trained by a neo-liberal Pavlov, to “private security forces’ – thugs, in order to “lessen the political pressure” – get around legal democratic strictures – in order to enforce policy. To paraphrase the famous sentence from Vietnam, the liberal hawk motto is, we have to destroy democracy in order to spread it. And destroy it they have definitely tried to – all of the usurpations of dictatorial executive power we associate with the Bush administration were prefigured under Clinton. No, Clinton didn’t torture, but he set up the mechanism of executive privilege to invade our rights – notoriously in the case of encryption – that were simply expanded by the Bushies.

Such is the state of the current historical case. You have to do some combination of mega plumbing and root canal work to get to the bottom of all of this hiring of mercenaries, this welling rot and decay that is sapping the spirit from this republic.

All of which is to intro my next post, I think, which is a treat for the ladies and gentlemen in the paying audience and you out there at home. Let’s have a big round of applause for my upcoming translation of Kraus’ famous essay, Silence, Word and Act, written in 1915 a year after he wrote In these Momentous Times, his attack on the War. For that year, according to Edward Timms, his English biographer, Kraus was experiencing the love of his life with Sidonie Nadherny, who was as well connected as you could be in the Habsburg Empire. Her family estate in Janovitz in Bohemia was close to the Archduke Ferdinand’s. Kraus, on the other hand, was a converted Jew, a scandalous journalist, and not at all socially acceptable – as her friend, Rilke, told her. Rilke was much too much the gentlemen to want his friend marrying a Jew. (Rilke, for all his genius, was a bit of a shit). Although Sidonie herself wrote in her diary, in 1917: “K.K., I wish he’d love me less, for in my heart are other dreams and faithful I cannot be and no man should want that of a woman, for it must make her fade.”

In these Momentous Times (In diese Grosse Zeit) came out in November, 1914 (Which began with the famous sentence, In this great time which I still knew when it was so little). Kraus hadn’t said much about the war since it began in August. There, he had his say. So, in 1915, Kraus was already known – as Shaw was known in the U.K. – for his stance against the war. Yet the Fackel was not shuttered – although of course the yahoos raged. This essay is connected to his Momentous Times essay.


Anonymous said…
Now look here my good man, I'm still waiting on your call.
roger said…
Sorry! I just sent you an email.
roger said…
Mr. LT?
Didn't you get my email?

I am wondering about the graphix novel potential of your Goethe and porn idea. Personally, I can see it being pretty cool. And in line with the erotic undertext of moore's promethea and the nice, healthy wankerish perversion of Cherry Pop Tart and - ah, an old underground graphix - Mickey Rat.
Anonymous said…
Hey, I didn't get your mail. I thought that maybe you were trying to find a polite way to not send one. I'm at loveandterrorism@gmail.com :-)
roger said…
Oh oh. I wonder who I sent that email to????
Anyway, I'll send you an email tonight, but - you know - really, I think you should send me one that gives me a bit more of an outline of your project, which I'd like to have a better grasp of. Because I don't know if I am way off track about what you are doing or not.
Anonymous said…
Roger, I still haven't got your email, but I wanted you to know that I think that you're definitely right about the Goethe versus porn thing. I've wanted to be a writer since I was 8 years old, so devoting so much energy to the idea of porn, at the expense of writing, is foolish. I think that your courage in choosing writing is inspirational, and it's helped me to realise that I'll never be able to do what I want artistically unless I give up on the fractal approach to it.

My major problem has been in trying to figure out how to bridge the development of my writing with a career; that is, how to be financially secure at the same time as I don't really know what I'm doing with my writing. That's been the cause of my academic versus porn crisis, but now I see that the central thing should have been my writing, and that I got too caught up in trying to figure out the secondary issue of security. Ultimately, this allowed me to stop artistically developing.
Anonymous said…
Maybe 'definitely right' is too strong, but I think that now I can see where you're coming from better than I could before.