by the shit-rivers of Babylon

Well, The RNC convention in Cleveland was exactly as terrifying as one would expect, with a huge amount of bellicose roaring on matters domestic and especially foreign. Soon afterwards my friend Sandy received a survey from the RNC in the mail (he is registered Republican for various reasons, none of them that he is a Republican). He was asked to fill out this survey on issues of concern to framers of party platform etcetera and return it using a postage stamp he would purchase himself. Fine. Half the survey turned out to be leading questions (things along the lines of “Do you believe the Republican Party should lower the current ridiculously high Corporate tax rate, thereby encouraging businesses to locate and prosper here in the U.S, thereby securing innumerable benefits for all Americans?”), and a good quarter of one page was dedicated to proposals of all of the countries around the world that Republican party leadership would like to be openly at war with (for example: “Do you believe that the current provocative behavior of the Chinese Navy in the South China Sea merits a sound and unequivocal Military response from the United States?”). At the end of the survey there was a pitch to contribute money to the RNC. One of the choices you could select was: “I can’t afford to give more, but I will contribute 15.00 to pay for the processing of this survey”. Yeah, because the RNC is definitely going to pay someone fifteen dollars to spend an hour reading your 2-page survey full of leading questions. Oy.

So one can gather that the GOP has war games (and fundraising) on the brain, in addition to a seething antipathy to any kind of sensible gun control or reform of militarized police forces that are armed to the teeth and murder people with full immunity and little scrutiny every day here at home. In addition to this the candidate’s wife (a person I frankly find fascinating and would like to know more about, were she not so insistent on being a cipher, or so cooperative with those who would make her little more than a decorative touch), delivered a speech which it turns out was largely plagiarized from one given by the current first lady 8 years ago. The current first lady being the wife of the president who Mrs. Trump’s husband has suggested is a Kenyan-born Communist Muslim. After the whole scandal had broken and shattered down into intelligible parts and the plagiarism admitted (albeit with some weird and unbelievable plot-twists and a cardboard scapegoat), it supposedly boiled down to a deeply felt admiration for Mrs. Obama and her speech. Now if that is not the most crude, twisted, navel-gazing excuse I’ve ever heard from people old enough to know better, a bear does not shit in the woods. It would have been refreshingly honest if they had just come out and said “We have no respect for Michelle Obama, so we stole her speech. Whaddaya gonna do about it, huh?”, schoolyard-bully style.

But wait, things are popping on the other side of the river of shit (oops I mean aisle, other side of the aisle) as well. Wikileaks released transcripts of e-mails sent within the DNC apparatus throughout the Dem presidential primary, and it is now blatantly obvious not only that the Sanders campaign was being deliberately undermined and actively sabotaged from inside the party he was vying for leadership of from the very beginning, but also that the people running the Dem establishment are actually the kind of shitbags who will refer to the Latino youth vote as a taco bowl (“lets try to mop up some more of that taco bowl”), and mock a black woman’s name in their private correspondence (“LaQueenia is actually a name? shoot me.”). To make matters worse, in the aftermath of the leak DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz resigned her position (She knows she is guilty as shit and was not about to squirm away from all this hard cold evidence of wrongdoing), and was immediately praised by both Clinton and Obama as a great public servant and given a plush new job with the Clinton campaign/likely future presidency. This is all disgusting and makes me wish that I was an animal much lower in the food chain and could not comprehend what is happening or even understand human languages. It would be nice to be a crow, in 2016. Or maybe a prairie-dog. Or a lizard, somewhere out in the desert in Utah, curled up in a nice crevice in a rock face, blinking contentedly at the wind.

But since this fond wish will most likely not come true, I await the next chapter. Julian Assange apparently said he is getting ready to release another round of documents that could dramatically impact Clinton’s rise, and possibly even lead to her arrest. I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then, more Pina Coladas are in order.

 

*header image is a screenshot off 4chan from 2009. The content does not express any thoughts/views/etcetera of the author of this blog.

Gleanings: Mona Hatoum, Andy Warhol, Megan Abbott, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Ty Dolla $ign+TC…

In her film ‘corps étranger’, Mona Hatoum brings us, with a special medical camera, literally inside her body. We enter more or less all of her orifices as an eye, and we see her mysterious, vulnerable, gross, beautiful, pulsing interior territories.

What a statement this film is (as I see it), about the bodies of women and about the bodies of the colonized (she is of Palestinian origin)- and not, by the way, unrelated to the current and ongoing waves of tragic murders of Blacks in America by police- these bodies subject to surveillance and suspicion,  unlawful imprisonment, beatings, rape, murder, dehumanizing desire, rage, incomprehension, assumption, a range of questionable scholarship, debate, and regulation. All this and yet you will never see these pulsing pink opalescent passages, the pools of bilge and the blue capillaries, never hear the resounding, insistent- and yes, miraculous, awesome-passage of blood and air, unless, as Hatoum does, she invites you in, unless she decides to radically risk herself by taking you there and showing it to you.

Watch ‘Corps Etranger’ here.

 

Extraordinary- Andy Warhol interviewed in 1966. He is asked whether he cares what people think of him- that “they” have an opinion about him good or bad, and he literally refuses to answer. He tells the interviewer, “you tell me what to say and I’ll just repeat what you say”. He even suggests that the rest of the interview might proceed very well in this manner, with the television interviewer supplying both the questions and the answers, with Warhol merely mimicking the answers he provides. It strikes me as a profound (and yes, also playful) rejection of the artist’s prescribed role as exalted ego and anointed producer of cultural signifiers. What if the artist himself refuses to play along? And what if his modus operandi is far more consciously subversive than Warhol’s is commonly thought to be (his behavior often written off as whim, eccentricity, lack of seriousness)…The unacknowledged and unplumbed power of fey queer refusal/a sideways tactical advantage/you really don’t understand how dangerous we are, do you?

watch the interview here.

 

And lastly a couple quotes from The Fever by Megan Abbott, which I happened to be reading last week. I think these quotes jumped out at me because of Alton Sterling’s +Philando Castile’s murders, watching/listening to Ty Dolla $ign’s song “No Justice” that he recorded with his brother TC (watch/listen here)… Something about how these events, this ongoing violence and injustice makes me feel came through in these words:

“Gabby paused. Then her voice dropped low, like she was right there beside her. ‘There was this shadow’, she said. ‘I could see it from the corner of my eye, but I wasn’t supposed to look at it.’

Deenie felt her hand go around her own neck. 

‘If I turned my head to look’, Gabby continued, ‘something really bad would happen. So I couldn’t look. I didn’t dare look.’

Deenie pictured it. That smile on Gabby’s face. After, when everyone surrounded her on the stage. Like something painted on her face. A red-moon curve.

‘I didn’t look, Deenie’, Gabby whispered, ‘but it happened anyway.’

I’m okay, she’d said. I really am. I’m fine. 

That smile, not a real thing but something set there, to promise you something, to give you a white lie. “

-Megan Abbott, The Fever

***********************************************************************

“‘She didn’t faint,’ Deenie said. ‘But her body. What was happening to her body?’

The pensive look on Deenie’s face, like when she was small. Finding a cat drowned in the ditch by the mailbox. He didn’t know how long she’d been staring at it, her brother next to her touching it gently with a stick, hoping to nudge it to life. That night she’d had nightmares, her mouth was filled with mud. He’d tried to explain it to her, how accidents happen but we really are safe. But there was already the sense that nothing he said touched what was really bothering her, which was the realization that you can’t stop bad things from happening to other people, other things. And that would be hard forever. He’d never quite gotten used to it himself.”

-Megan Abbott, The Fever

***********************************************************************

“Bad things happen, and then they’re over, but where do they go? Deenie wondered, watching Gabby. Are they ours forever, leeching under our skin?”

-Megan Abbott, The Fever

 

 

*painting by G.F Marlier 2006

Le Monde Diplomatique 6/24/16

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland voted yesterday to exit the European Union, in a move popularly known as “Brexit”. The immediate result of the referendum was to de-stabalize global markets, weaken the British Pound against the Dollar, send everyone in the republic of Ireland (a major U.K trade partner) to the pub with a terrible headache, and cause U.S President Barack H. Obama to mutter some ominously snarky words about Great Britain having jettisoned itself to the “back of the Queue” if it hopes to secure U.S muscle for any future trade or diplomatic objectives- since we will naturally prioritize our relationship with the large and influential E.U bloc- though of course, we will still always have a “special relationship” with our former Colonial Overlords. Ever wonder what the fuck these “special relationships” are about? I mean, we know what the one with Israel is about, because the (presumed) need to park big scary weapons in the middle of the Arab Oil countries is as glaring as a flashlight in your face, and no it’s not because the pentagon breaks for Torah study. But this “special relationship” with England? Especially if they’re not in the E.U and therefore have no direct influence on continental affairs whereby to help us keep Russia in check? Maybe it’s just lip service for old times sake. We do speak the same language. And we did found this nation after running away from their repressive shores. But if that’s all it comes down to, we should probably have a “special relationship” with Liberia. Yeah, I vote that we break up with Great Britain and ask Liberia out.

(For the record, I still think it’s possible that many Britons thought they were voting for “Breakfast”. Which would make sense, since it’s the only meal they have).

A couple signs of the end times worth noting:

A score of dead West Virginians following flash floods in the mountain state. A burning house being carried away on the swell. A barrage of tweets telling me to “Pray for West Virginia”. As someone recently said about Congress’ obstruction of commonsense gun control legislation: “they always tell you to pray, because of course the best thing to do when something really terrible is happening is to go to your own room and quietly talk to yourself”.

The Artist formerly known as Prince Rogers Nelson died in April. His death was ruled an accidental overdose of the painkiller Fentanyl, an extremely powerful synthetic opiate which has been wreaking havoc not only in Erotic City but everywhere else in our Opiate-addled country as well. The Wall Street Journal of Thursday June 23, 2016 reports that the DEA knows where this shit is coming from, and nobody will be surprised to learn that Fentanyl, various chemical precursors required to make it, as well as variations that remain legal because they didn’t exist until they needed to (known as analogs) are coming from China to the U.S mostly by way of Mexico or Canada, where Customs is more lax (Canada) or more corrupt (Mexico) than in the U.S. The Chinese know exactly what people are going to do with this stuff and how deadly it can be (after all, at least one Chinese customs agent fell into a coma after handling a small amount of it during a drug bust), and at best they just don’t care. They’re sending the stuff with Pill Presses for convenient packaging in crates marked “Hole Puncher” and “kitchen mixer”. The Chinese Government knows how to Cyber-attack us. They’ve already been caught hacking U.S Government websites. They’ve probably been responsible for at least a couple of the blackouts in West Coast cities in the past few years, because shit is getting gnarly in the South China Sea and they probably feel that they should have the capacity to kill the Grid in a couple major U.S metropolitan areas as leverage, but they might not even need to do that. I mean shit, they already killed Prince. What thoroughly demoralized nation has the stamina for a Pacific Theatre Cold War?