Saturday, October 22, 2005

Le Spleen de Baltimore

Seul au comptoir à manger du Marché Chez Eddie,

Je chipote, avec lassitude, une salade infecte à la grecque, et bois, à petits coups, un café au lait brûlant.

Le sono de la maison emet «She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah», aneantissant tout pouvoir de penser.

Comme toujours, c'est le chiant «Beatle Brunch» de WQSR.

A gauche, un quinquagénaire obscenement gros, barbu, se tient debout,
Le contour de sa bite--éléphantesque mais ingonflable--nettement visible sous la braguette de son short khaki.

A ses côtes, son copain, son veritable clone.

Ils causent à propos des communs sujets neuf-fois-epuisés:
Le global warming, le christian fundamentalism, l'art of fucking.

Je me rends compte que je ne connaîtrai plus jamais des jours sauf jours comme celui-ci,

Jours gris, blafards, débordants de l'humanité et dénués de beauté et signification.

Je me rends compte, de plus, que je m'immergerai, volontiers, maintes et maintes fois, là, dans chaque jour

Comme dans un bain d'eau de cale froide.

C'est une espéce de flânerie bête, atroce:
C'est flânerie aux connards.

Flannery O' Connor.

Merci, cher hypocrite lecteur.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Theses on Metaphysics

God is undead: not purposively undead, like the ghost of Hamlet's father; but gratuitously, tastelessly undead, like Freddie Kruger, like Pumpkinhead, like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Or, like Dracula, you ask? Madam, please! As if His Lordship the Count would ever stoop to hiring this God fellow as his footman, let alone as his butler!

To those who instance the current worldwide religion boom in confutation of my last postulate, I say, 'Would an upsurge in viewership of The Nightmare on Elm Street films prove that they were masterpieces?'

Hell is other people's poo.

Theses on the History of the Concept

Platonism is to pragmatism what pederasty is to Platonism.

Q. What do you get when you take the piss out of epistemology?
A. Etymology, of course.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Theses on the Concept of History

Marx remarks somewhere that "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." He, Marx, forgot to substitute "seven times" for "twice," and to add: the third time as English pantomime, the fourth time as Punch and Judy show, the fifth time as bear baiting, the sixth time as cock fight, and the seventh (and last) time as Battlebots Tournament.

The future used not to be what it had already been.

Those who misremember the past are condemned to flatter themselves that they are repeating it.

Here is Dostoevsky on human nature as he conceived of it in 1864: "It seems to me that the meaning of man's life consists in proving to himself every minute that he is a man and not a piano key. And man will keep proving it and paying for it with his own skin; he will turn into a troglodyte if need be." But in the early twenty-first century man has long since ceased to mind being treated as a piano key; indeed, he has long since been all too content to be treated as a piano key on the condition that the keyboard in question is sufficiently up-to-date--such that, for example, in 1986, the psychiatric equivalent of the Casio SK-1 perforce outranked the parallel equivalent of the Steinway concert grand.

In ancient times, on being confronted by the spectacle of a natural disaster or some other great calamity, people used to say, "There but for the grace of God go I"; now they say, "There by the grace of the commodity I need never fear going."

Avant nous la deluge; après nous, rien (sauf, évidemment, les gens robotiques).

Dead is the new dead.

The mote in your neighbor's eye is the best inverted telescope.

It is perhaps certain that nothing will happen to anyone anywhere ever again.

In the present epoch, capitalism may be faceless, but it is assuredly not assless. The capitalism of today is, in fact, a six-billion-brown-eyed Anti-Argus. Every human brain is a colon of this monster, and every human mouth is an anal iris perpetually discharging, in the form of gormless chatter about commodities, a stream of verbal sewage into the intellectual ether.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

He's Seeing Red, Ken

Latest post from an hilarious trans-pondic blog I've been following for a few weeks now,


This song goes out to Ken Livingstone, and it goes a little something like this:

(Verse 1):

Fuck Ken Livingstone!
Fuck Ken Livingstone!
Fuck Ken Livingstone!
Fuck Ken Livingstone!


Fuck Ken Livingstone!
Fuck Ken Livingstone!
Fuck Ken Livingstone!
Fuck Ken Livingstone!

(Verse 2):

Fuck Ken Livingstone!
Fuck Ken Livingstone!
Fuck Ken Livingstone!
Fuck Ken Livingstone!

(Repeat chorus ad naus.)

Yeah, I know I've posted the lyrics before, but it's one of those songs you just never get tired of hearing, isn't it? Just when you think things in this city can't be bollocksed up any worse than they already are, Ken goes and gives you another excuse to shuffle off to bleeding Buffalo (or Sheffield in a pinch). Three fucking quid for a one-way, one-zone trip, for a trip from Goodge Street to Tottenham Court, or Edgware Road to Marlybone. Cor's Boars, I could walk from one of those stations to the other for free in 15 minutes. Does Ken actually expect me to cough up £3 for the fucking privilege of finishing the trip by tube in 20? Because that's how long it takes, surface to surface on a Sunday afternoon. Try timing it sometime. 'This fare rise will hopefully bring all riders round to seeing the advantages of the Oyster Card,' he drawls in that revoltingly smug, half-pleb, half-posh south-of-the-river accent of his. Like it's so fucking obvious what these advantages are. I'll tell you some advantages I'd like to have Mr Mayor. I'd like to have the advantage of taking the tenner in my pocket right now, breaking it to pay my £2.50 (sorry, £3) fare to West Finchley, then of using the balance to buy a takeaway CTM, or a pack of fags, or a couple of pints of Stella down at my local. I'd like to have the advantage of not having to waste an hour on a wash day sorting through my trouser pockets looking for that fucking card if I want to be sure I don't throw away the other £7. Above all I'd like to have the 25-odd pounds I've laid out on Oyster Cards over the past year in my hands now instead of taking up precious space in my wallet. I want to have absolutely free use of that money so that in case I'm hit by a bendy bus tonight while staggering home from the pub, I'll at least die knowing that those £25 went to a good cause--the cause of my intoxication--and not to pay for another one of Ken's dopey civic-improvement projects. The Oyster Card is great if 1) you don't own a car and b) you commute to and from the centre city every day. But it's like fucking Bristols on a mule for those of us who drive and come into centre city 5, 10--at most 15--times a year. The problem with Ken is, he's never driven a car so he doesn't know all the hassle and aggravation of being stuck behind a lorry spewing diesel exhaust in your face for 45 minutes while you circle around the Hanger Lane Gyratory (make that Stationary) at the speed of an hour hand on a clock; he doesn't know what it's like to lose a dinner reservation in Islington because you've wasted an hour looking for parking, or to end up with no money to pay for your meal because you've been mugged twice on your way to the restaurant during your half-mile walk through the ropiest stretch of road in Camden Town. (Garage isn't a dirty word, Ken, although congestion charge is). Because he doesn't know what any of this is like (and of course, because he's a fucking megalomaniac), as long as he's mayor, life will be a living hell for car-owning Londoners. Yeah, I'll say it again: Fuck Ken Livingstone. Fuck him and the poncey little bike he rode in on.


Jeez. If this Mayor Ken is actually half as awful as this guy says he is, he makes Marion Barry look like Ed Koch (or is that vice-versa?).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Now out on DVD...

The chef d'œuvre of one of the Big Five (Cinque grandi) of Italian New Wave cinema
(Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow):

Immortality in Milan (1971). Directed by Luigi Contadino. Color, 183 minutes. In German, Italian, French, Danish, Polish, Flemish, and Romansh, with optional English subtitles. Cast: Sophia Lauren, Julie Christie, Ruth Gordon, Dominique Sanda. Based on Trudi Weib's 1962 novella Die Unsterblichkeit in Mailand, often compared to Kafka's Metamorphosis, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, and, proleptically, Jaecken's Emmanuelle and Anderson's Logan's Run. The year is 2012. Gretchen Lindenberg (Lauren), a self-described "paper-pulp baroness" of proletarian origins, is in Milan for a trade fair. Ruthlessly practical in every domain of life, Lindenberg is particularly scornful of matters metaphysical and aesthetic; an attitude attested to by her one-off boast to a colleague that "our flagship cotton bond contains a higher concentration of pulverized sheet music than that of any other paper manufacturer in the EU." The diegesis of the film freely shuttles between the present and past, as well as between the actual and counterfactual, most famously in a series of recollected and fancied conversations between Lindenberg and her unnamed lover (Christie), a painter and philosophical idealist in the grand old German tradition who has contended that Lindenberg must hold herself aloof from the daily bustle of her business and dedicate her innermost self to the cultivation of the intellect and the contemplation of the thing-in-itself. On the first day of the exhibition, in the midst of a working lunch in the cafeteria of the Pirelli Tower, Lindenberg notices an elderly woman in a lime-green pantsuit (Gordon) sitting alone at a nearby table. The sheer hideousness and decrepitude of the old crone is such as to impel Lindenberg to question, for the first time in her life, not only her own sexuality, but also her vocation as a businesswoman. She imagines Christie pointing to the old woman and exclaiming, "Ecce mulier--that bag of bones! The telos of all of your vaunted pragmatism; me in 30 years, you in 20!" Stressed beyond belief by the untimely onset of this metaphysical crisis, Lindenberg contracts a chest cold and retires to her room at the Park Hyatt for two consecutive days and nights. At 23:00 of the second night she learns, courtesy of a local television news broadcast, that the first batches of the fabled immortality serum, discovered the previous year in the United States, have at last begun to arrive in the city's hospitals. By midnight she is fast asleep and dreaming of gloating to Christie, "So much for your vaunted idealism!" First thing next morning she repairs to the pronto soccorso of the Ospedale San Raffaele and is administered a dose of the serum, whose restorative effects are said to be immediate and dramatic. As if to spite her, however, her cold degenerates into a case of acute bronchitis. In desperation, she throws herself into the activity of the fair with feigned alacrity. Every day, both on the floor of the Fiera Milano and off, all talk of the non-shop variety centers on the immortality serum and the rejuvenation it has wrought among her fellow industrialists, to say nothing of the Milanese at large. The sole exception to this generally salubrious state of affairs (apart from herself) is her bugbear the old woman, who at lunchtime never fails to appear at her accustomed table, invariably looking worse for the passage of the preceding day. Lindenburg cannot help but be seized by the paranoiac suspicion that the ineffectuality of the serum in her own case is somehow linked to the prolongation of the old woman's moribund existence. She contrives sundry schemes for bumping off the old girl, but somehow never manages to summon up the gumption necessary for their execution. Finally, on the last day of the exhibition, when her walk to the Pirelli taxes her almost to the point of total physical collapse, she is met at the threshold of the cafeteria by a pair of orderlies bearing on a stretcher a body covered by a blanket from head to foot. As they pass into the lobby she catches a glimpse of a withered hand and the cuff of a lime-green sleeve protruding from under the edge of the blanket. At that very moment, to her astonishment and delight, she finds that her cold has seemingly completely evaporated; that she can breathe freely again; that, indeed she feels better, more youthful, more alive than she can remember ever before having felt. Her professional obligations vis-a-vis this sojurn having been met, she decides to treat herself to an early evening stroll in the Parco Sempione. There, under at the Arco della Pace, she meets and is instantly smitten by a young streetwalker (Sanda) for whom, as the camera pans up and down the newcomer's lithe, nublie young body in the closing scene, the viewer presumes she will shortly ditch Christie.