“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 05, 2014

From the notebook of baron A.G.


It isn’t right! One expects certain courtesies. It is but a poor manse, but that is no reason to lower our standards. However, one can’t drill this message into the head of the valet. Il ne comprend rien. One really understand the phrase tete de bois in the face of this character.
For instance: one wants either to be in the playpen with the Ipad or one wants to be out of the playpen with the Ipad in easy reach. It is almost tiresomely simple. Yet once again one’s valet mixes it up. Thus, one finds oneself standing helplessly outside of the playpen staring at the Ipad inside the playpen. One has simply to raise one’s voice. It is all so dreadfully theatrical, but the valet sometimes seems to understand no other language.
Well… and then one is literally carried up the stairs. Is one consulted? No. At least, a consoling gesture, one’s Mickey Mouse is carried with one. Lately, in the afternoon, one so adores chats with M.M. A font of jollity! And what adventures that mouse has had. One sometimes says, mon chere, are you not exaggerating a bit? The dog’s name was actually Goofy?
Naturally, however, malentedus persist. The valet insists, for instance, in shutting the doors to the ever so fascinating bathroom. One had so looked forward to grabbing a few things – the contact case, the toothbrushes – and hurling them into the bathtub or toilet. But one’s valet once more gets in the way of these innocent, boyish pranks. One simply must expres one’s discontent the old fashioned way, a la Prusse, by for instance kicking the valet, or, when he picks one up, hurling oneself backwards in his arms. It is all very well that we have emancipated the serfs and have universal education, soi-disant, but it is hard to remember one’s liberalism when an object so undeservering of Enlightenment thwarts one’s every wish.And in regard to the simple pleasures elaborated above, he is hopeless.

However, one is not de la noblesse for nothing. Whim is forever the mark of true good breeding. One suddenly feels very fraternal towards one’s valet. He truly is doing his best as a retainer. So one caresses him, giggles with him, one rolls around with him and hides one’s face under the yell duck blanket – one of the valet’s favorite games. And then it is time for tea.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

receptive dozing

I’ve been reading the novel that “suggested” Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Roadside Picnic, by the Strugatsky Bros. It came out a couple of years ago in a new translation, which caught up with the Russian editions that now include things that didn’t pass the Soviet censor. Excellent novel, although of course it is nothing like Tarkovsky’s movie. Imagine a Russian Blade Runner and you would be closer to the feel of the book.
The book is hardly mentioned in Geoff Dyer’s account of Tarkovsky’s movie, Zona. Nor, I think, does Dyer mention a phonetic coincidence that I think would have highly interested Tarkovsky – namely, that Zona, in the language of the Fore people of New Guinea, meant ghost wind. That wind from the north was blamed for the fact that women and children with “kuru” would tremble uncontrollably. In reality, kuru was caused by a novel form of ritual honoring the dead that spread among New Guinea people in the twentieth century, and that involved eating the brains of the corpese. This produced spongiform encephalopathy, which brought about trembling, hallucinations and death. A very Zona like phenomenon.

All of which is simply a hook, on which I want to hang some remarks about Tarkovsky and receptive dozing. Some friends visited us last week and we talked briefly about sleeping while watching a movie or tv – a subject that fascinates me. There are certain rare works that induce receptive dozing – that is, they induce a half-awake state in which the work does its business. Proust and Kafka are always tending towards this point, but I think it is more truly native of another media, film. Tarkovsky in particular is a master of the hypnogogic devise – like dripping water – and the sense of time slowed down (as I’ve been told is the sensation of those involved in car accidents – everything starts happening extremely slowly); for some people, this is the cue for going to sleep entirely, and cutting the thread with the work, but for others, what happens is related to lucid dreaming. The sensory input drifts in, like the wreckage from some downed ship. I’ve seen Stalker three times, but I don’t know if I have “seen” it like I saw “Blade Runner”. Rather, I’ve slept it. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

ethics are for losers: one of the factotums of the behemoth speaks

I love this sentence: "Just one more note of caution before we descend down the rapids of morality and ethics." It was written by a man who went up those rapids, Mr. "brutal questioner" Philip Mudd, to caution us all about getting sniffy about the torture tactics of his agency, the CIA. After all, we were so so scared. So torture was fine. If you are so so scared and you have a naked man in front of you to whom you can attach electrodes, it is all right, cause you are so so scared! Would he do it now? No, cause he isn't so so scared. Well isn't that a relief! It is waht makes America a wonderful country. Actually, it is the same argument that worked in post-Pinochet Chile to keep the fingerpointin' at bay.
Anyway, I'm so happy that we are treating the time when we were so so scared with the proper respect. On to criticizing Putin (or x, y, or z - Israel, Pakistan, Iran, etc._ for his human rights violations. They are nasty and not like our human rights violations, which only occur when we are so so scared. It is like then it is olly olly outsanfree and you can torture your terrorist enemies and hold them without trial in holes for decades.

Monday, March 31, 2014

on the municipales

Gee - here's a mystery for ya. In the American elections in 2010, Obama made an early turn to the right and kept pressing the issue of cuts and the deficit. And the Dems were wiped out. How strange, eh? Then Hollande, who governs like he leads his love life, fell in love with neo-liberalism and proclaimed it to all the world and the socialists were wiped out yesterday in the municipals. Do I sense a pattern? Is it perhaps not true that people want their leftist parties to govern and talk like they are rightist parties? That is so weird of the people! They need to grow up and realize that what is good for the plutocracy is good for them, in a manner of speaking. Every unemployed person should look on him or herself as a necessary sacrifice, so that France can impress Germany with its willingness to impose austerity! They should be so proud. Hollande is going to speak tonight, and inevitably he will say that the PS has not be rightist enough. Obviously, the people want more austerity and unemployment. And he'll give it to them.
All of which is to say, I thought the socialists richly deserved to be whacked yesterday. For all the brouhaha about the FN, they did not capture a ville the size of Grenoble - which elected a green ticket. But the Parisian press, which is hysterical about the barbarians in the province, will continue to have their moral panic about the FN, rather than about chomage. Now the latter is a reason to have a moral panic, but the families of the editors of le monde and liberation are no doubt doing fine. So they don't care.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

a monologue about love

The first thing in the morning, after getting out of the bed-prison yourself, is to demand that they liberate Mickey Mouse.
Affection is whimsical. It lands on this or that. But Mickey is the first. Always. The perpetual open mouthed grin under the upturned black ball of a nose; the round ears; the red shorts; the gentlemanly white gloves. And the eyes. You have to crush Mickey to yourself, and then bury yourself in his relatively puny chest, smooshing his face with your face.
Then you throw him away. Finis!
It is the rodent that attracts you next. Dun colored. A beaky muzzle, small glassy eyes – so unlike Mickey’s! – and small forelegs. A cord of a tail as thick as a shoestring. This is true love, and you smoosh your face to the rodents face, squeezing his forearms in your embrace - or is it just a fullbody sinking into the thing to the extent that the stuffing can bear without resisting you?
Then you throw him away and show no interest in him. It is as if you never met.
It is the tiger’s turn. It is as if you were travelers who have just met after strange adventures. How long has it been? His hair is bristly. Bigger than the rodent, he is much smaller than Mickey. But he is gold with black stripes, or approximately gold. No puny forearms, but four equally thick legs. You don’t, however, smoosh your face in his bristles. You still retain a collegial distance. You merely squeeze his hindquarters, holding him tight in the open carriage where, according to some rule that calls for this to happen every morning, they show you the town. Surely it is only polite to occasionally cry out your approval of this or that aspect of what they have been doing. Great sidewalk! Look at this window! Love the way they’ve positioned this bum on the stoop! The tiger seems, too, to understand these things.
Then you toss him overboard. What a bore! They’ve put a chord around his neck, so that he doesn’t get lost, but hangs there besides the open stroller.
First loves, difficult loves.