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Showing posts from January 15, 2017

Between funny ha ha and funny peculiar: Trump and the incarnation of the american grotesque

In No Go The Bogeyman, Marina Warner takes, from the mouth of (very English) babes the distinction between “funny ha ha” and “funny peculiar”. It is an inherently unstable disjunction, having the structure of a booby trap or a slapstick routine. Between Punch the puppet and Gacy the clown serial killer, between “locker room talk” and sexual assault, there exists a subsurface resemblence, a vicious hilarity, to which we are both drawn and repelled. Warner’s book is about the large social region of the grotesque that is minimized by social scientists and made a footnote by literary critics, but that actually intrudes in our lives in a big way. The grotesque is generated by funny ha ha and funny peculiar, much as the two ends of funny pull at each othe.r I’ve heard many people say that they can’t believe that the president we inaugurated today is really the president. That unbelievability is cousin to the grotesque, and haunts the seriousness of the ocassion. Downfalls are rarely so mu

toy story 2 and the communist manifesto

Not having children in the 1990s, I looked down with complete disdain at kid’s movies. Or, actually, I didn’t look at them at all, but I’m sure I would have shown some sort of snickering adolescent attitude towards them, and covered it up with a buncha five dollar words. Now, of course, I am immersed in children’s movies, videos, tv shows, and general Youtubealia. Which brought me with a bump of recognition to Toy Story 2. I promised Adam we’d watch it, and we did, Saturday. It surprised me. Talk about a savage attack on capitalism!  For those who haven’t seen it, the toys are dream figures of the proletariat. On the one hand, for capital, represented in the movie as white kids and parents, toys are lifeless. Whenever the gaze of some parent or adult is present, the toys fall into a dead faint, in poses characteristic of toys that are scattered across the floor on a Saturday evening (insert here picture of our floor after Adam has finished with it). In reality, though, they have

slaves of the map, arise!

I like my friend  Seth  Grossman's crusade to modify the electoral college - but my heart belongs to another vision of America in which we redraw the friggin' states. During the French revolution, districts that had a much more historically concrete identity as Duchies, former kingdoms, etc., were broken up and redrawn. I think the goal should be to enclose that comprise around 11 million people OR to enclose areas that comprise around 2 million people - to create many more di stricts or many fewer. But all of the districts should be about equal in terms of persons. This would, at one stroke, abolish the absurdity of a senate in which 2 members from California with forty million people meet on equal terms with 2 members from South Dakota, which has ten people and a goat. The problem with the electoral college is, of course, the same problem we have with the Senate. The senate has already been reformed once, when at the turn of the century we abolished the system of Senators bei

read, digest, throw up

Trump's America will look like, unfortunately, what America has looked like for some time. This article, in which an ex drugdealer pins his hopes tenderly on Donald T. as he attempts to inject people with BMPEA through his supplements, looks both forward and backward . The ex drug dealer, Jared Wheat, the owner and CEO of Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, is confident that his expensive slander suit will discourage others from investigating him, even though he lost it. He told the FDA to just piss off when they told  him to recall several products. True, Hi-Tech is a piker in the industrial effort to poison America. We all remember that Syngenta has outfaced studies about atrazine by presenting their own funded studies, and that nobody is too concerned, in DC. about a statistically abnormal excess of birth defects in Iowa, where atrazine is used to kill weeds in the cornfields. What's a birth defect compared to Syngenta's bottom line? Even pre-Trump, the old idea about American hi