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Showing posts from December 14, 2014

Sony vs. North Korea - fun for the whole family!

I’m enjoying the hell out of the dispute between Sony and Kim Il jong.  On the one hand, you have a megalomaniac dictator, on the other, a clueless corporation that got its start distributing propaganda films for the Japanese army in WWII. The movie sounds like a gross out version of  Rambo, with American secret agents hilariously shattering the skull of the evil dictator – cause America can! A great movie to show in the torture season. Throw in Obama’s impassioned plea for freedom of speech (which of course doesn’t include Wikileaks or Edward Snowden, and doesn’t address the fact that we haven’t had a Presidency that so aggressively pursued leakers and journalists since Richard Nixon) and the exposed emails revealing that the head honchos are as stupid as you think they are, and it is a Christmas gift that keeps on giving! It isn’t the best Christmas gift from Hollywood – that’s Kim’s butt – but it will do. 

two forms of evil in the movies

I just watched the beginning of Fargo, the tv series. The evil character in Fargo, played by Billy Bob Thornton, is signalled as evil not so much by stabbing people or shooting them – no, his evil is established when it seems that the usual matrix of cause and effect fades when he is around. Normally, when a man goes into a basement with no other access than the stairs, that man will have to go out using the stairs. But, in a crucial scene in Fargo, the killer goes into the basement and disappears, reappearing in a getaway car later on. I think there are roughly two forms of evil in film. The one is cosmological, and the sure sign of it is this fading of cause and effect. When Scorcese redid Cape Fear with Robert DeNiro playing the bad guy, the crucial moments in the film were all the result of this fading. This can, of course, create startling effects: evil is in the room and is about to slice somebody’s throat! The spectator’s visceral reaction is stimulated – hell, it is shot t

conceptual zippers

Guilty reading Lets face it: the innocent reader who spots the blue pants on the boy holding the balloon in the picture and associates the “C” with cookie monster was filed away long ago. It exists, thinly, in the brain's filing system, although to dive in an find it is a task that would make Proust blanch. We guilty readers come, now, with a certain hodgepodge sophistication to the fragment or the treatise, or even to the letter “C” – which may remind us more of Wallace Stevens tha n Sesame Street. We take our theories to our books, and are eager to apply readings, now “political”, now “hermeneutic”, now “neo-darwinian”, and so on. Myself, I’ve always like the promise of dialectical materialism, although not often its results. The idea of looking at texts not in the idea-system, head talking to head, but in terms of both historical conditions and of the text’s own long interiority – that’s the ticket. Oh that interiority! To be a writer, I think, means that one exists like a b

More reflections on what Nietzsche was up to

To the second edition of The Gay Science, published in 1887, Nietzsche added a fifth book entitled, with that mock boastfulness to which he was prone (and which has added that bellicose aura to his posthumous reputation – beloved by post-structuralist and white supremicist prison gangs alike!), We fearless ones. The end, sort of, of We fearless ones  comes with a dreamy little number  342, entitled “The great health”. Healthiness as a concept that encompasses every part of the self, instead of describing a state of bodily equilibrium, a healthiness that becomes a means to an end instead of an assumption about the everyday – this is what the perpetually sick author dreams of. His dream, though, is of a  likeminded community – this we is, as all we’s are, political. Here Nietzsche is both a child of the century, which was discovering health not as a sort of balance among animal spirits but as a fragile norm that few were able to achieve – and a sign of the coming century, when health re