“The world is turning into vinegar.”
Thus spoke the gentleman who bought our desk, yesterday, when he came to pick it up. He was explaining that he and his wife, for “ideological” reasons, now attempt to get all their things second hand. “Things are in the saddle and they ride mankind,” Emerson said. This man’s opinion was that things were now riding all too roughly, and crushing not only mankind but the whole world, the lock stock and barrel of atmosphere, continents and ocean. This is a sentiment I’ve heard a lot of in Paris, lately.
I thought of this guy when I read the portrait of Justin Bieber’s manager, “Scooter,” in the New Yorker this morning [Note: Technically, this way of changing a top is known in rhetoric as the “spitball transition”, and it is illegal in league play. But it is good enough for Limited Inc!]. I learned a lot of things about Justin Bieber in the profile. I learned, for instance, that he was discovered by Scooter on Youtube. This warmed my heart with the infinite flame of love. I still like the Soviet avant-g. idea of the 20s that, as the tools of art are given to the people, the line separating the aesthetic domain from everyday life will be liquidated. Now, the problem turned out that you can’t wish away the sphere of circulation. You still can’t, but, in the classic manner of building the socialist future in the ruins of the capitalist present, Youtube is bringing the tools of circulation nearer the masses. Justin Bieber, meet Dziga Vertov.
But back to the world turning to vinegar. There is a passage in the profile where Scooter displays his vehicles. Natch. Here’s the passage:
“Braun recently bought a house in the Hollywood Hills. It is a large, modern bachelor pad with double-height ceilings and a wall of windows overlooking the city. To get to the front door, you walk on slate stepping stones through a koi pond. In the foyer are shelves displaying meaningful tokens: a signed copy of the basketball coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid to Success”; a sketch of Braun’s sports car, a hundred-thousand-dollar electric vehicle called the Fisker Karma (“I got one for me and one for Justin,” he said. “It makes you help the environment, but you also don’t have to feel like a pussy”); a poster commemorating Bieber’s performance at the White House, signed by President Obama.”
I spied with my little eye a connection between Scooter Braun and our customer, yesterday: the DIY politics. We live in an era where, in France, the EU, China, the U.S., politics is no longer the art of the possible, but the stylization of the impotent. Government is doing shit, all over the world. As in no other period, we have the tools to Technicolor dream the disasters we are approaching. But it is as if we are in a magnetic sleep. Mock democracy, which is in the stage when the oligarchs pilfer as much as they can, is the new form of democracy. You can demonstrate against it. You can twitter against it. You can make fun of it from the sidelines. It doesn’t matter. Parties exist, now, so that party elites can massage messages, on the one hand, to get an American idolish favorable handcount, and, on the other hand, to amass enough favors for the plutocrats to open the doors for themselves and their families and friends.
Thus, the reaction among the masses of letting a thousand flowers bloom – from buying hundred thousand dollar electric vehicles to writing devastating, Zizek laced critiques of the latest HBO craze. As the world turns to vinegar, there is a mass sentiment that somebody needs to turn around the machine. Or even turn off the machine. But “somebody” is nobody.
Which brings me (spitball two!) to Clint Eastwood (to whom I have three magic words: Krapps Last Tape! Rarely have I ever seen a role and an actor come together with the inevitability of, well, the historical necessity of overthrowing capitalism. Performance of a lifetime, I’m telling you!) I watched the Jon Stewart show about the Republican convention, and thought Stewart made a very astute analysis of invisible Obama. But when I went and watched the speech, I noticed that the Comedy Show elided one key moment. It was the moment in which Eastwood said that there are twenty three million unemployed people in the U.S., and he found this disgusting.
I thought that was a beautiful moment; but it was clearly a DIY political moment. The GOP has no intention of finding any way, whatsoever, to hire those twenty three million unemployed people. And Obama’s administration has spent four years stoically never, ever speaking about them. Of course, in 2009, they could have all, every jack, been hired by the government. That would have cost a trillion dollars. But the Obama administration had another New Deal program in place, lending 16 trillion dollars at ultra low rates to Wall Street. That program worked. I’m pleased to say that the 1 percent, who suffered a major asset hit, started to recover by 2011 and are now on track to continue engrossing more income as a percentage of the national income than they have since 1928. As for their incalculable wealth, well, did I mention the New Yorker profile with the guy buying 2 100,000 dollar electric cars?
Well, Clint was, as anybody could see, mostly off his rocker. And still, that it is only a man off his rocker who dares mention the number of unemployed people in the country shows how we have swallowed the premise of mock democracy hook, line and sinker.
“Spiritually a year of profound gloom and indulgence until that memorable night in March at the end of the jetty, in the howling wind, never to be forgotten, when suddenly I saw the whole thing. The vision, at last. This fancy is what I have chiefly to record this evening, against the day when my work will be done and perhaps no place left in my memory, warm or cold, for the miracle that . . . (hesitates) . . . for the fire that set it alight. What I suddenly saw then was this, that the belief I had been going on all my life, namely--(Krapp switches off impatiently, winds tape forward, switches on again)--great granite rocks the foam flying up in the light of the lighthouse and the wind-gauge spinning like a propeller, clear to me at last that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality--(Krapp curses, switches off, winds tape forward, switches on again)--unshatterable association until my dissolution of storm and night with the light of the understanding and the fire--(Krapp curses loader, switches off, winds tape forward, switches on again)--my face in her breasts and my hand on her. We lay there without moving. But under us all moved, and moved us, gently, up and down, and from side to side.”