“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, April 12, 2008

aux armes, citoyens!

I can say I hope it will be worth
what I give up

In 1908, Karl Kraus wrote a famous essay, the Sink of Inquity, which was later included in the collection entitled The Chinese Wall. It begins like this:

Bourgeois society consists of two kinds of men: the ones who say that somewhere, someone is digging up a den of iniquity, and those who are worried, that they will get the address to it too late. This division has the advantage, that it often unfolds itself in one and the same person, because it isn’t the difference of world view, but only of circumstances and prospects that governs the choice of standpoints. But one goes wrong if one thinks that ethics and sensuality work quietly side by side: rather, they grappley together and are unceasingingly busy intensifying their forces one against the other and amplifying their object. It is now 1908 years that this jealous struggle of two life principles has gone on, in which indignation feeds on desire and desire on indignation, in which the world is always becoming more moral the more unethical it is, and always more ethical, the more immoral it becomes. In the end, we will run out of dens of iniquity to dig up, because up to the point that they are dug up, they are asylums of bourgeois peace. Fantasy sinks into, or curls up into slumber, and ethics is the disappointment that there is no vice.

Kraus had such sensitive skin that it was actually disturbed by metaphysical events, like the ambient sexual hypocrisy of Vienna. Although even Kraus never escaped from the childish traps of patriarchy, which makes the mindless move from the notion that women never want to have sex to the notion that women always want to have sex, a ping pong match between fucking idiots.

This was the week for hypocricy and patriarchal idiocy. So, two women testify Wednesday to being raped in Iraq while working for KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary. There is a congressional hearing. It is reported by the Associated Press. ABC news is the honorable exception to what is otherwise a story that plunges into the same media black hole into which American casualties on the week that Petraeus testified also plunged – or perhaps I should say, were pushed?

(AP) — An Illinois woman who says she was raped while working for a contractor in Iraq recounted the experience in a congressional hearing Wednesday.
A woman who made similar allegations before Congress last year listened and fought back tears.

Dawn Leamon of Lena, Ill., said at a Senate subcommittee hearing she was sodomized and forced to have oral sex by a soldier and a co-worker after she drank a cocktail that made her feel strange.

She worked as a paramedic for Service Employees International Inc., a foreign subsidiary of KBR Inc., at Camp Harper near Basra, Iraq. Leamon said the base was frequently under rocket attacks.

The alleged attack occurred just two months after Jamie Leigh Jones, formerly of Conroe, Texas, told a House committee she was raped by KBR/Halliburton co-workers and held a day in a shipping container after reporting the 2005 assault.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they were sexually assaulted, but the women have made their identities public.
Jones wiped away tears as Leamon and a third woman, Mary Beth Kineston, spoke. Kineston, of Olmsted Falls, Ohio, said she was assaulted in 2004 while working as a truck driver with her husband for KBR in Iraq.
"It bothers me that it happened again after I stood up and brought awareness to it and brought KBR to such scrutiny," Jones said during a break.
Jones sued Halliburton, whose former subsidiary is KBR, and is waiting for a judge to rule if it can go to trial or be settled in arbitration. KBR and Halliburton split last year.
Leamon, whose sons served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said employers discouraged her from reporting the rape and pressured her to sign an inaccurate statement with inaccurate details.
Several days after the assault she had to provide medical care to one of her attackers. She officially reported the rape after she was transferred to another camp on Feb. 27 because she feared for her safety.”

Meanwhile, remember the D.C. Madam? The Attorney General’s office tapped the collective wisdom of the many Regency university hires who have so creatively mixed constitutional law and the LeHaye Left Behind books to rid us of the everpresent menace of Deborah Palfrey, a woman whose den of iniquity, otherwise called an escort service, was, on all accounts, a place of the most boring bliss that the wheeler deelers in D.C. could purchase for themselves. The Left Behinders, in a classic Bush maneuver, awkwardly caught in their net a number of high ranking Republican men. But the rule of hypocrisy – also known as the Scooter Libby rule – ensured that none of them are being charged with squat. Instead, we get things like this:

“Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and other powerful men appear likely to get a pass. Less lucky: the 15 terrified women being hauled by prosecutors into court to recount in graphic detail their past work as prostitutes -- and more than 100 other former prostitutes whose names prosecutors are trying to make public.
Wednesday, prosecutors forced a 63-year-old retired PhD -- her name, like those of other witnesses, now a matter of public record -- to testify about inducing orgasms in her client; the government's lawyers had similar questions for a mother of three who worked briefly for the escort service nearly 15 years ago.
Yesterday, it was the turn of a young naval officer to take the stand; the case will almost certainly end her career. The prosecutor, Daniel Butler, had the woman spell her name slowly and clearly, then had her talk about when she was "aggressive" with a client, when she was "more submissive," when she had a difficult client ("he tried to remove the condom") and how often she got "intimate."
"What do you mean by 'intimate'? "
The soon-to-be-former naval officer looked at him in disbelief. "Touching, caressing," she explained.
"What happened" after that? he demanded.
"What type of sex?"
"Sometimes it was oral sex; usually it was normal."
"Normal?" Butler persisted.
"I'm not sure what you're getting at," the stricken witness pleaded.”

Myself, I am beginning to think that Left Behind is the right phrase. Except this apocalypse is more Yeats than retard Baptist – “Surely some revelation is at hand/Surely the second coming is at hand.” We are in the hands of the worst this country has to offer. That drip drip drip of small cruelties - how long can we take it? They stepped on our necks yesterday, they stepped on our necks today, and so it will be, world without end, unless we rise up and say: enough.


Anonymous said...

"Voy a hablar de la esperanza"

Yo cría basta ahora que rodas las cosas del universo eran, inevitablemente, padros o hijos. Pero he aquí que mi dolor de hoy no es padre ni es hijo. Le falta espalda para anochecer, tanto como le sobra pecho para amanecer y si lo pusiesen en una estancia obscura, no daria luz y si lo pusiesen en una estancia luminosa, no echaria sombra. Hoy sufro suceda lo que suceda. Hoy sufro solamante.

I thought till now that all things of the universe were, inevitably, fathers or sons. But today I see that my pain is not that of a father or son. It is as lacking in spine at nightfall as it is supplied with courage at dawn, and if it were put in a dark room, it would not give light and if put in bright room, it would not cast a shadow. Today I suffer no matter what happens. Today I simply suffer.

(César Vallejo, trans. Margaret Sayers Peden)



roger said...

Amie, you have an uncanny ability to quote my heroes! Vallejo yes, Neruda no, as I would say if I were leading a paramilitary group of poet guerrillas.

Do you find it as disturbing as me that these two stories could go on and get as little comment as they appear to have gotten? Am I going crazy, or is this a sign of some collapse of sensitivity that, that, that I don't know how to cope with!

roger said...

PS - hey, and I hope you amazed at the Santogold video. I just found out about this woman yesterday. What is it about Brooklyn? I have to live in Brooklyn before I die.

Anonymous said...

LI, I don't know how to cope with what does seem to be an utter collapse of sensitivity and of the ability to say enough! I don't know what to do except kicking, screaming and crying out.
Say, does the "Left Behind" series ever refer to this


roger said...

Amie, my mom was a good Baptist. When we were all living in Shreveport, she belonged to the Church bible reading club. But a little bit into Judges, she proposed they skip that book. So a delegation of women from the church came out to deal with Betty's possession by a heretical spirit. Poor woman- jeering children on one side of her (somehow, we slipped early into Darwinism and other unmentionabilities), and the Baptist Inquisition on the other side. But she stuck to her ground. I think she returned only after they reached Job.

Anonymous said...

LI, I can sympathize with your mom wanting to skip Judges. That passage, Judges 19:23, gave me terrifying nightmares for quite a while when I first read it.

Do you know André Chouraqui's French translation of the Bible?
His translation of the passage in question has the merit of pointing out -- how should one break this politely to the likes of pure prosecutor types like Mr.Butler -- that the passage involves getting fucked up the ass, sodomy and sexual difference. The men of Belial don't in all polite curiosity want to get "to know" the pilgrim, they want to "penetrate" him, and in a "sexual sense", as the translator specifies.

AC also has a very beautiful translation of Le Cantique des Cantiques.

"Jusqu'à quand seras-tu errante,
fille rebelle?"


The Santogold video is quite amazing indeed. I didn't know of her at all, but if she lives in Brooklyn she must perform around NYC and I'll have to try and see some.


Anonymous said...

LI, I really shouldn't comment further but as you will see I bear glad tidings indeed. There I was, taking a stab at biblical exegesis, and sinner that I am, burdened with worldly cares, I wasn't aware of the news that the Pope is to grace NYC with a visit very soon.
His Eminence's itinerary is to involve spreading his message of peace and love for all by scooting around Gotham in something called a Pope Mobile. To the Pope Mobile Paul! No, no, not you Robin!

To top off the trip, the Pope will celebrate Mass at the sacred Church known as - um - Yankee Stadium! I'll de damned.

Maybe the Yankees can put their baseball hat on his pointy head and have him throw the first "ceremonial" pitch of their game? One can only pray.

I don't know if the Bearded Guy in Heaven is reaching for a large bottle of antacid, but I'd like to think that somewhere Babe Ruth is having a hearty laugh over beer and hot dogs.

LI, I have seen the light! The hour may be dire, the game teetering on the brink of disaster and all but lost, but you can count on the Pope coming out of the bullpen for a save and providing comic relief.


roger said...

Amie, surely the Breton in you cries out for a prank! Dressed in a nun costume you need to race out into the infield, do a few cartwheels, produce two water pistols, challenge his holiness to a holy water duel, and, whilst dodging the cops, aim for shootin' hand. Ah, and a scattering of leaflets with Max Ernst's great Madonna spanking the baby Jesus might be called for too.

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