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Showing posts from December 24, 2006

the meaningless death of Saddam Hussein

“Man, seized suddenly with a divine fury, alien both to hatred and to anger, advances on the field of battle without knowing what he wants nor even what he is doing. What is this terrible enigma? Nothing is more contrary to his nature, and nothing repulses him less: he performs with enthusiasm that which horrifies him. Have you ever remarked that, in the heat of battle, man never disobeys? He might well massacre Nerva or Henri IV, but the most abominable tyrant, the most insolent butcher of human flesh, will never hear, there: we no longer wish to serve you. A revolt on the field of battle, an accord for mutually embracing each other and denying the will of a tyrant, this is a phenomenon that does not present itself to my memory. Nothing resists, nothing can resist the force that pulls man into combat; innocent murderer, passive instrument of a fearful hand, he plunges with bowed head into the abyss he has dug all by himself; he receives death without even thinking that it is he who ha

part 2: paine and political ethics

As we pointed out in our last post, there is a certain psychopathic subtext in Paine’s The Rights of Man – or, rather, there is a psychopathic subtext that Paine digs out of Burke’s attack on the French Revolution. The psychopathology takes the shape of a mind machine – a machine for controlling the minds and actions of others. It isn’t a fully articulated mind machine, but – we think – it prefigures the much more elaborate Air Loom visualized by James Tilley Matthews, psychology’s first fully fledged paranoid schizophrenic. However, there is much more to Paine’s reproof of Burke than this. LI believes that one can find, in Paine’s argument, the lineaments of a political ethics that is pertinent to the question of how to change the treadmill of production, which is leading us to the seediest kind of apocalypse – an apocalypse of cocooned silkworms. An apocalypse in Pampers. For the threat to the planet doesn’t come as the result of a lifestyle which, upon ceasing or radical modificatio

Revolting against the coffin double

In a post last week, LI mentioned Mike Jay’s The Air Loom Gang, the book about the case of James Tilley Matthews, the Blakean lunatick. Matthews went mad, it seems, in the Paris of the Terror, where he was confined to his apartment and suspected of being an English spy. What he was really doing in Paris, and whether he was, indeed, a secret envoy from the British government, is one of those questions that were solved in one of those Sherlock Holmes cases that Watson was always going to publish, but never got around to. Among Matthews’ lunatick ideas was that of an airloom machine, by which a 'magnetic gang', working in the bowels of London, was able to exert control over the thoughts of the powerful. Fortunately, his doctor, John Haslam, published a full account of it in Illustrations of Madness, so that we know how intricate and – well, beautiful and frightening this first of the mind control machines was. Mind control machines – ‘Beeinflussungsapparates’, as Victor Tausk call

the Grapes of Wrath and some neo-con bitchery

Dark humor, laced with arsenic and old shit, presides over the politics of our time. Obviously. And so it is that the recent Holocaust denier festival, held by Iran’s president, Ahmadinejad , existed very briefly as a moral low point shaming Iran, and was then quickly pimped out by the propagandists of the long war to shame the rest of us. It is an illustrative story, demonstrating that morality melts in the self aggrandizing rhetoric of the belligeranti as quickly as icecubes in hell. The proper response to the idiot president’s gathering of bedbug scholars and cross eyed KKK men was given by the Iranian population, who voted – within the oppressive limits set by the state – against the accident who governs them. However, it is important to remember this about Ahmadinejad – his idiocy consists, in part, of making for official export what many of America’s Middle Eastern allies prefer to purvey for purely home consumption. However, that is an unpleasant thing for our current crop of

pleased with my own self

Casting our eye over the last year, LI feels … good. This has been, of course, a terrible year in the set of terrible years that have made up this decade of complete and utter failure. Our failure to achieve the economic viability of even the lowliest bottomfeeder, which we used to justify, in a half assed way, as the price of art, is no longer justifiable by any criteria. We will long remember and long regret the various outrageous stupidities that have threaded themselves in our moment-to-moment, especially as it looks like we are headed towards streetcorner destitution as surely as the stunned ox slipping down the greased chute is headed for the butcher’s blade. But I would like to think that every life has its little Camelot moment, yes? And so I look back at LI’s past year and a half and like God looking at the green and blue globe he dreamed up on one of eternity’s slower nights, I can say: it is good. I’ve been five and a half years at the blogging biz, and looking over my back

a star! a star!

When Simon Fitzmary, the Mayor of London, was fighting in the holy land during the Crusades, he beheld, one lost night, the star of Bethlehem – the very star! Returning to England, in 1236 he founded an asylum – the Church of St. Mary of Bethlehem. It was unique, in that it gave unique shelter to the mad, the first time a public institution in Europe had so specialized. In time, the name was whittled down to Bethlem, and by Shakespeare’s time it had become Bedlam. And so it was that the rider on the highway is overthrown by the raven, the beast slouches east in the ditch, and poor Jesus o’ Bedlam was born… Merrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Christmasssssssssssss


A bad policy is one that is so structured that it cannot even exploit advantageous opportunities. By that definition, America’s policy in the Middle East is a magnitude more than bad. This week showcased the cul de sac into which Americans have been lead by the Bush White House. Given a more rational order of things, this should have been a good week for American foreign policy. Iranian elections struck a heavy blow at the rightwing populism of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the Iranian setting, he is proving to be even worse than he seemed at first. His attempt to straddle the contradictions of social and cultural repression and economic expansion – not that these are always in contradiction with each other, but, in Iran’s present case, they certainly are – has failed; his primitive notion of economics to begin with has fatally limited him; and his appeal to a core base has alienated the rest of the country. So Ahmadinejad, like Bush, is becoming a leader/minority. However, this good news fo