Entries by discipline
MAD MEN: you are an abject slave to moloch! Drink up!! (SPOILERS)
I like Mad Men for personal reasons. Sure, they have good writers and an attractive cast, but I really feel like integral parts of my upbringing are reflected in the story lines. There’s something so familiar about the touches of despair hinted at by the characters. At the end of the day you’re staying up late and putting in your heart and soul for laxatives or car models. It’s worth noting how much of the first world’s best creative talent is funneled into the business. Ralph Waldo Emmersons and Picassos are regularly consumed by the long hours, ridiculous expense accounts, and substance abuse.
Bahrain: The Revolution Forgotten
I went to a speech about the "Arab Spring" at the LSE last year and stood up to ask why Bahrain was never talked about. Why is it that Bahrain is unworthy of mention? I think this is why it's important to accept that on one hand, yes, the Arab Spring is legitimate and comes from people's desires to shrug off the yoke of oppression. On the other hand, it is a media narrative that has been utilized to push neoliberal policies in the region. This media narrative is subject to power interests. This explains very well why Bahrain has been "forgotten".
What is to be done? The end of a national empire in a globalized world
So the question is, where does the United States go from here? The transnational capital class (TCC) has not just taken flight, it has turned the American population into a festering sore it can suck on whenever it needs to. OWS was great, but unfocused. It turned cannons on the TCC, rightfully so in some cases, but gave the government a pass. Many who were involved or supported it will no doubt vote for Obama again in the coming election. The major problem I can see is that the citizenry believes that the government is still accountable to the people, that it remains an impartial mediator between capital and labor.
"I never had a son," or, "civilization is crumbling"
It took Martin Scorsese almost three decades to make "Gangs of New York" (2002), but that means that it had plenty of time to incubate. And is there any better story to explain America than a story located in the notorious Five Points neighborhood?. While many of early American settlers are as the poor and dejected, they are generally depicted as hard workers, visionaries, and selfless noble whites. But this is not only a gendered and racist depiction, but also dishonest at heart. We are not bright and shining new humans, we are deeply stained in blood and terror.
"Don't you know who I am?"
American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000) comes down the moment that Patrick Bateman confronts his lawyer in person after leaving him an emotional confession over voicemail the night before. The lawyer is at first joking, then serious, then offended... he doesn't believe Bateman's experiences, in fact, he doesn't even think he is talking to Patrick Bateman. It's this complete dispossession of his identity, his great experiences that leads Bateman to insist "Don't you know who I am?" over and over to his lawyer, existentially insistent that he is, that his deeds have been.
My body, my choice?
In a neoliberal framework, choice is paramount. Contemporary notions of human rights stress the importance of a person living free from state coercion and this has filtered through our culture to mean that no one should be able to tell you what to do over your own wishes - so long as you hurt no one else. Cajoling and manipulation are evidently okay, but someone cutting to the chase and telling you you "can't" or "shouldn't" do something chafes our sensibilities. Politics becomes something that is negative-rights based.
the working class is under attack worldwide and will not gather around one flag because the one flag concept is what is attacking them. leftist protesters in the united states have the wherewithal to wave flags. they don't mind. they understand the forces at work against them are flagless, and we count on footage of pigs trampling the flag while they beat your ass to stir that kernal of patriotism still embedded deep in every american thanks to years of pledging the damn thing in grade school. it's a smart move and very practical at this juncture. globalization depends on a fake front of dissolution of nation states to get by.
Crack & Despair Building Communities under NYC in Dark Days (2000)
Dark Days is gritty as heck and has an amazing sound track (dj shadow), shot masterfully in black and white (the film they dug out of dumpsters) with shopping cart dollies rigged to rotting train tracks. it's an hour and a half long documentary about a village of homeless people who find community underground in abandoned amtrack tunnels. they hack into the utilities and take pride in building their hovels. they chat about lost family members and their struggles with substance abuse. most of the film is just long shots of conversation between friends discussing the challenges of everyday life, how to make money, how to love and defend themselves in such vulnerable situations.
let's discuss irregular labor migration
right wing parties worldwide point to this migrant labor as the cause of many ills. crime, disease, increased cost of services, depression of wages, whatever. while some might argue we need to drop the "PC" pretenses and man up to these challenges, generally approaching the subject in this way results in passing laws about giving water to "Illegal Humans" dying of thirst in the desert.
putting ourselves online
of course all this came crashing down sometime in the last 6 or 8 years, when all of the sudden we were suddenly supposed to be putting ourselves online. the anarchy of identity had to be corralled somehow and exposed to the market. imagine, you go up to a stranger on the street and start to discuss the most personal parts of your sexuality and experiences with them... of course, this is quaint and a little perverted - yet totally acceptable! - within an anonymous framework, when we can never really be sure if the other is telling us the truth (and they always are in a way) and so we chalk it up to the strangeness of the medium. but is the medium changing us now?
What is Neoliberalism?
Post 1970's abandonment of the Bretton Woods system there came about a fantastic chain of events that threw the entire world on the fast track to destruction. Neoliberalism had been incubating at the University of Chicago for some years, but they were suddenly tapped to provide answers for where a sudden glut of gulf oil revenue should go. Their answer: To The Third World! After all, Mr. Woods was no longer around to lend a helping hand, the Soviet Union was lolling around like fat idiots getting ready to melt, and there's no better time like the present to introduce finance into every market available.
When people ask me what From Hell is about, I usually say that it's about Jack the Ripper, but not really. For me it's about architecture. Inspired by Douglas Adams' idea that crimes must be solved holistically, Alan Moore wrote his finest work across the span of seven years. During this time he attempted to solve the great mysteries of Victorian London, engaging in deep research that always seems to empty out into architecture and the deep structure of London as a (hole)y city.
thoughts on feminism & womanism
First and foremost, I have come to the understanding that first-world feminism has almost nothing in common to the overwhelming majority of women of the world. The issues that I saw as important in my youth have never crossed the radar of these women and they are wary to concern themselves with issues such as abortion (hammered into every young USA feminist's head as the golden issue), sexuality, gender, dress, and public economic position.
Islamophobia USA: pt. 1, $
The Center for American progress recently released a report entitled "Fear, Inc." that regards and examines the institutional and mainstream phenomenon of Islamophobia in the United States. This 138 page report outlines the major donors of the movement, the pseudo-scholars, the activists, the enablers, the grassroots networks, and the elected officials that are part of this highly-organized and effective movement. I read the whole thing so you don't have to...
On Walden Pond: how IT and modern communication systems are harbingers of the end times
As the plague preceded the renaissance so too the scourge of the satellite precedes the the birthing pains of an unknowable new era of global economy and endless war. There are many kinds of technology but the technology that reigns supreme is INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, the wooden horse that brings along open markets, apache helicopters, and the apocalypse of culture as we can relate and know it. The richest men in the world are those that deal in communication, be it in the transmission or architecture of words, feelings, desires, or standards. Whoever owns the satellites, the media monopolies, or the IT hubs also directs the ebb and flow of events.
the top 1%
The rich of this Gilded Age are isolated and live in jets and fortresses. They don’t just hire security – they hire media firms and think tanks and create a culture of docile security. Our prisons are overflowing and our heads are empty. We elected a man who ran on “change” and he delivered us more of the same but in the way of a grotesque pornographic minstrel show for the rich. Do we see how tight the noose gets before we start thinking how to get out of this?
left that way is a dead end: a case study in palestine
If history is the alchemy of theory, then communists turned gold into lead in Palestine. When I first arrived in 2009, I was one of those hand-wringing well-meaning comrades who shed tears over the absence of a progressive political left in Palestine. No doubt, there exists in Palestine some of the strongest and bravest leftists in the region, but their work is for naught and their books (printed with French, German, and Canadian money) get used to warm hovels in Askar refugee camp.