Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

11/30/2004

I'm back! Literally and metaphorically! Lexington was great; even better were the friends. I deeply apologize to them for my druidic undertones (or overtones, as the case may be).

Sox!

11/18/2004

Taverner's Koans is uploaded, (a)live, and well. Check it out. I'm pretty happy with it so far.

11/15/2004

Thinking a lot about how Dobson,one of the architects of the current American fundamentalism, writes self-help books--his brand of fundamentalism has a lot in common with the worst New Ageisms, the primacy of individual entitlement cloaked in righteousness. The thunderous apathy of American society in many quarters has as much to do with Madonna's kaballah water as the Left Behind series.

Zizek has his moments of "fuzzy math," so to speak, but this quote (written before the election results came in) was compelling:
We should therefore refuse not only easly liberal contempt for populist fundamentalists (and, even worse, patronising regret at their supposed manipulation), but also the very terms of the culture war. Although radical leftists will, of course, support the liberal position on such issues as abortion, racism and homophobia, they should never forget that it is the populist fundamentalist, not the liberal, who is, in the long term, their ally. For all their anger, the populists are not angry enough -- not radical enough to perceive the link between capitalism and the moral decay they deplore.

Okay, I'm going to get to some NBA talk sometime soon, I swear!

11/12/2004

From Minor American:

If we restrict ourselves, despite all the caveats above, to the church-centered version of the moral values argument, what emerges as a particular strength of the right is the extent to which there are already-existing modes of social organization in the communities where they’re drawing votes. These organizations – churches and attendant “family councils” and the like – are not organized primarily as political institutions, despite the extent to which they have been directly politicized in recent years. What they address at root is the lived experience of belonging, and the sets of social, ethical, spiritual and material needs attendant on that belonging. Once you have a material set of institutions like this, producing identifications on a day-to-day basis, you have a public sphere (albeit centered on a particularly restrictive, exclusionary sense of “public” for the most part) in which the work of political organizing can take hold. This organizing is less a matter of persuasive argument or appeals to communicative rationality, than it is a matter of a direct appeal to the fact of belonging as such. As Alan Sondheim points out, there is a shift here from the epistemological to the ontological. Or, as Barrett Watten writes (at http://www.english.wayne.edu/fac_pages/ewatten/), “All analysis flies in the face of a simple, stupid identification.” (Since I’ve invoked the “s” word again, I should emphasize that I see a reciprocal, and far less effective stupidity operating on much of the left: our stubborn belief in our own self-image as the good-natured persuaders, issuers of appeals to our fellow human beings’ better reason. Simply put, without the material, institutional basis with which to make these appeals operative in lived social experience – which is not a function of communication, but a function of production, the production of public space, itself often a function of a durable kind of “being there” – we’re guilty of a far worse kind of stupidity: not stupidity as the “decision” of faith prior to fact, but the boneheaded, continuing insistence on the counter-factual even after the facts are in).

11/10/2004

Digby as usual nails it:

"The fundamental problem is that the super Christians won't compromise on principle and the rest of these 'values voters' are hypocrites. Nobody bought the v-chip in red state America or anywhere else. They don't want to take responsibility for what comes into their TV's, they want to hector people for 'forcing' them to watch these horrible things while they pass the popcorn. These same people listen to Rush refer to Abu Ghraib as 'blowing off steam' and think that Bill O'Reilly is a salt of the earth regular guy despite his little obsession with porn stars. There's your heartland values for you and they look surprisingly like the values you see on your television set. That's because they are."

Tanks were deployed to break up an anti-war protest in Los Angeles.

11/08/2004

Here's my prediction: in 2006, Bush's NEA will fund a nationwide tour of The Passion of the Christ on Ice. The rink will be like a Pollock with the blood.

The Arctic meltdown has gathered speed. By 2100 there won't be any polar bears left drinking Coke.

11/05/2004

For these Solomonic times...I'd posted this about a year ago, but I thought I'd replay it. From Walter Bruggeman's Prophetic Imagination:
The possibility of an alternative consciousness...was quite removed from Israel in Solomon's time. The king characteristically could find no such notion acceptable. It seems likely that criticism could no longer be practiced because the transcendent agent necessary to criticism was gone. And we may hyphothesize that promises that could energize are now all confiscated for royal use....The tension between a criticized present and an energizing future is overcome. There is only an uncriticized and unergizing present...
*
,,,Now there is no notion that God is free and that he may act apart and even against this regime...God is now "on call", and access to him is controlled by the royal coiurt. Such an arrangement clearly serves two interlocking functions. On one hand, it assures ready sanction to every notion of the king because there can be no transcendent resistance or protest. On the other hand, it gives the king a monopoly so that no marginal person may approach this God except on the king's terms...
*
The royal program of achievable satiation...(a) is legitimated by an "official religion of optimism," which believes God has no business other than to maintain our standard of living, ensuring his own place in his palace, and (b) requires the annulment of the neighbor as a life-giver in our history; it imagines that we can live outside history as self-made men and women...
*
How can we have enough freedom to imagine and articulate a real historical newness in our situation? This is not to ask...if this freedom is realistic or politically practical or economically viable. ...We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable.
*
In considering the Solominic achievement, I have been speaking of the fate of the royal consciousnss as "numbness" even though I have not used that word. The Solomonic establishement embodies the loss of passion, which is the inability to care or suffer. ..Clearly, the regime is interested not in what people experience but in their behavior, which can be managed.

So, is it imaginable?

11/04/2004

And on a totally random subject--"Wait" by White Lion has to be one of the most underrated pop songs of all time. With all the late-metal context circa 1989 swept away, the song is pure Big Star.

Take Two Johnny Mnemonics and Call Me in the Morning"

"The spacecraft has apparently been taken over – 'conqured' if you will – by a master race of giant space ants. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves." – Kent Brockman

So here's a silver lining--now that we'll be living in a late-empire, theocratic distopia, think of how great this will be for worldbuilding research purposes! See, you always have to look on the sunny side.