Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Criticism and Philosophy

Reading Joe Wenderoth and Gary Lutz. There's a kind of septic undertow dragging in the work of both. Lutz especially is chin deep in it--his style a delicate flailing as he's dragged away in a flood of the various excreta we flush.

Lutz is the more accomplished stylist.

Both writers are sick fucks, but Lutz is clearly the sicker.

Despair and shit and the body are recurrent themes in Gabriel Gudding's work too, but somehow Gudding has none of the potty negativity of Lutz and Wenderoth. (Could we speak here of the Potty-Hegelians?)

Also reading Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici. Browne turns a wonderful phrase and demonstrates a generous spirit for his time and place. But intellectually Browne was a crabbed provincial next to Montaigne. (Which may not reflect that badly on Browne. Nearly everyone was a crabbed provincial next to Montaigne.)

One wonders how Shakespeare would have written had he taken up the essay as a genre.

* * *

Is it the importunity of beings that makes us yearn for Being?

There are many that would not tolerate the nagging of beings were it not that they glimpse Being and feel that part of them is grounded in Being.

But perhaps this is putting it badly. Not that "part of them" is grounded, but that some grasp of Being would, they hope, offer a ground on which they could build an edifice against the painful storms of unknowing that wrack them. That wrack us.

Is it the importunity of beings that makes us yearn for Being?

My body, with its daily nagging, is one of these beings of course, or rather is itself a panoply of beings, as is my mind, in which I am not sure where to place the "I."

Is it only this importunity, this nagging--at times merely troublesome, but finally deadly--that makes us project "Being" to begin with?

I would agree with Heidegger by saying No. Being is not merely an illusory projection, a trick of language or a dead end: to say it is is to speak from a structure that has ignored the question of Being. Not answered, but ignored.

Beings are objects of pleasure, or annoyances, or toys, or threats, or traps, or illusory, or all there is.

Being is illusory, or all there is.

Parmenides: the greatest philosopher.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Obama: Tea Partiers Understand Me


My name is Barack Osama Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States, and I am here today to acknowledge my many abominations.

For you who have supported me, I ought to apologize for what follows. I know a lot of you have been offended by the criticisms aimed at me--the wailing on Fox News, the never-ending Tea Party slurs--but regardless of your anger at these attacks, well, the fact is things aren't always as clear as they might appear. So although many of you may feel disappointed by what I'm about to say, I'm still going to say it. I'm going to come out with the whole truth. And first of all I think it's time to admit that, yes, the Tea Partiers have more or less understood me.

Where should I begin here? I suppose I could start with one of the more serious charges. And so . . . Yes, it is true that I am a communist. A pinko. The right wing has long claimed it, and I'm ready to admit it. Though I've pretended to support the American way of life, for many years I've been secretly dedicated to overthrowing it. My goal has been to organize the laboring class into a movement strong enough to destroy the American capitalist system. I, Barack Obama, believe in the Communist Revolution.

But while being a secret communist, it's also true that I'm a slick corporate insider, a wheeler and dealer within the corporate system. Many have pointed this out, and many have attacked me for it. They point out that I've given huge handouts to big corporations, handouts of PUBLIC money, while doing nothing for the little guy. This is what all those corporate bailouts were about. The truth here is that I wasn't so much stabilizing the American economy as patting corporate cronies on the back. Because I'm a corrupt capitalist insider.

Now of course it hasn't been easy to be both a communist radical dedicated to destroying corporate America and a capitalist insider pouring cash into the same corporate America--but the truth is I've been both, as my Tea Party critics will tell you. Because I'm actually, as some Tea Party pundit might say, a COMMUNO-CAPITALIST, or an OLIGARCHO-COMMUNIST, or maybe, as Glenn Beck himself would say, an OLIGARHOLEFTY.

These are complex words, I know, but the point here is that I'm a complex guy. My goal is to undermine America whether I use my communist left hand or my capitalist right hand. Even if these two hands--well, even if they don't agree with each other.

As a communist I'm of course a committed atheist. But as the sharp analysts at Fox understand--who have never allowed mere logic to dampen their insights--being an atheist hasn't stopped me from also being a SECRET MUSLIM RADICAL. That's right. When I'm not busy promoting my deeply anti-religious, atheistic vision of society, I Barack Hussein Obama am secretly working to spread the religion of the one true God Allah, a belief I learned from my father while growing up in Kenya and which I later fine-tuned while studying in radical madrasahs in Indonesia.

You caught that, didn't you? How I admitted right there that I grew up in Kenya? In fact the birthers are right about me. My Hawaiian birth certificate IS a fake! I know this will be hard for my supporters to accept, and I know it will even be somewhat hard to BELIEVE, because, as has been pointed out, there were announcements of my birth in two different Honolulu newspapers, announcements posted right then, in August 1961. So why would there have been Honolulu newspaper announcements of my birth if I wasn't really born in Hawaii?

Well, the truth is that it's all because of the deeply anti-American and radical beliefs of my parents. That and their prenatal faith in my radical future in politics. Because thankfully my parents were wise enough to BRIBE the Hawaiian authorities and the two newspapers to FORGE all this evidence just in time for my birth--which birth happened, to tell the whole truth, in three different places simultaneously: Kenya, Leningrad, and the holy city of Mecca. Yes, I was born in three places AT THE SAME TIME, which foretold my destiny of today following at least THREE POLITICAL PATHS at the same time.

I told you I was a complex guy, didn't I?

Did I tell you I was a secret Muslim radical? That's true of course, but it's also true that I am a proponent of black Christian liberation theology. I got that from Reverend Wright in Chicago. That split I had with Wright during the campaign--that was all just for show, to help me get elected. Because along with Reverend Wright I believe the religion of Jesus is a religion of the downtrodden standing up to their oppressors. But unlike Reverend Wright, I believe this while ALSO being an atheist and while ALSO following the religion of Mohammed. Jesus is my true mentor in liberating the people, as is Mohammed, and I understand Jesus to have taught something similar to that taught by my other mentors, Che Guevara, Osama bin Laden and Batman.

I worship Allah and Jesus as I practice atheist Marxism and try to help my jihadist colleagues in the Middle East. I stand with the downtrodden against their white oppressors as I funnel astronomical amounts of cash into corporations run by these white oppressors. I don't believe in Jesus or Allah but am definitely a communist radical as I arrange these huge giveaways for American corporations that I'm also trying to destroy.

Does all this make any sense? Sometimes I'm not sure. Truth be told it's tough being me, tough being Barack Osama Hussein Obama. You don't know the half of it! I'm trying to do so many opposing things at once! How did I ever even get into all this? But this is just the way I am. And I've got to hand it to the sharp folks in the Tea Party movement for figuring me out. Because sometimes I have trouble understanding myself. Sean Hannity, those biopics you did were truly brilliant. But really--it's the Tea Partiers who've seen the REAL ME.

While we're at it I should say something about my education. Because a lot of Fox pundits seem to be really interested in this. I put it down to the following: Not having any education of their own, they're interested in how I got mine.

It's true I studied a lot of radical things in university: Marx, Che, Saul Alinsky, a lot of comic books, Mao, Mussolini, Sayyid Qutb, Danielle Steel, Bakunin. It's also true my pricey law education was paid for in ways most Americans would find objectionable. Half was paid by Havana and the other half by Saudi sheiks. Havana sometimes didn't get me the checks on time, but those sheiks--Whew!--they threw so much money my way that I still have some left over, which I've used for stockpiling euthanasia drugs so I can take part in the culling of elderly people.

Yes, Palin got it right when she said the health care reform was really about establishing death panels. I know most rational people laughed off Palin's remark when she made it, because, hey, there wasn't anything even remotely suggestive of euthanasia in the actual text of the bill. But really the laugh is on my supporters. Because it's true what Palin said. Because me and Rahm, see, we've developed this secret invisible ink. So we wrote in all these clauses about setting up death panels RIGHT UNDER THE VISIBLE TEXT OF THE BILL. Pretty sneaky and evil, huh? I couldn't have done it without Rahm. He really has the ideas sometimes.

So I'm using some of the Saudi money to stock up on euthanasia drugs so I can help out snuffing some of those grannies in D.C. hospitals. I can't wait till the invisible ink becomes visible!

Many Tea Partiers have compared me to the far right-wing dictator Hitler while others compare me to the left-wing leader Stalin. Though these historical figures were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, it's true that I admire them both because they're both so evil. Evil is just what I'm into. I'm going to destroy everything pure and good in America and I'm going to do it by using all the un-American ideologies AT THE SAME TIME. So what if the different approaches don't agree with each other? What's that to me--a man who was born in three cities? Sometimes I even get the feeling I might be SUPERHUMAN.

As for the protesters who made posters of me as the Joker--I don't really think that's apt. Maybe Rahm could be the Joker, but not me. I'm bigger than the Joker. I'm Mao and Hitler with a shot of Caligula tossed in. I'm the King of Pop returned from the dead as a leftist Tutankhamen.

It's just the plain and simple truth that I'm a communist fascist atheist crony-capitalist snooty Ivy League backstreet rabble-rousing crypto-Muslim Christian liberation theologist ACORN-pimp-managing socialist eugenicist. I admit it. The Tea Partiers, guided by the perceptive analysts of Fox News, have shown admirable logic in figuring me out. You really gotta hand it to them.

And Joe Biden--did you know he's really a Uighur Muslim trained in plastic explosives in North Korea? I bet you didn't know.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Droste Effect

I remember it was a Thursday afternoon. I'd ducked out of the office a bit early and decided to stop in at Moran's on the way home for a pint. When I walked in the door the place was strangely quiet, the barman wasn't behind the bar and the only soul in sight was an odd-looking fellow who eyed me as I sat down at the bar. After a moment he came up and sat next to me, introduced himself, and said: "You know, I think I can explain, because darn near the same thing happened to me! I remember it was a Thursday afternoon."

"What?" I said.

"It was a Thursday afternoon," he repeated. "I'd ducked out of the office early and decided to stop in at Moran's on the way home for a pint. When I walked in the door the place was quiet, the barman wasn't behind the bar and the only soul in sight was an odd-looking fellow who eyed me as I sat down at the bar. After a moment he came up and sat next to me, introduced himself, and said: 'You know, I think I can explain, because darn near the same thing happened to me! I remember it was a Thursday afternoon.'

" 'What?' I said.

" 'I'd ducked out of the office early,' he said, 'and decided to stop in at Moran's on the way home. When I walked in the place was quiet and the barman wasn't behind the bar. There was a fellow who eyed me oddly as I sat down at the bar. After a moment he came up, sat down next to me, and said: "You know, I think I can explain, because darn near the same thing happened to me! I remember it was a Thursday afternoon."

' " 'What?' I said.

' " 'After leaving the office,' he said, 'I decided to stop in at Moran's. When I walked in the place was quiet. There was a fellow who eyed me oddly as I sat down at the bar. He came up, sat down next to me, and said: "You know, I think I can explain, because the same thing happened to me! I remember it was a Thursday afternoon."

" ' " 'What?' I said.

" ' " 'I decided to stop in at Moran's after work,' he said. 'But when I walked in the place was dead quiet. There was a fellow who eyed me oddly as I sat down at the bar. Then he came up to me and said: "I think I can explain because the same thing happened to me! It was on a Thursday afternoon."

' " ' " 'What?' I said.

' " ' " 'I stopped in at Moran's after work,' he said. 'But the place was dead quiet. There was a fellow who eyed me oddly as I sat down. Then he came up to me and said: "The same thing happened to me! It was on a Thursday afternoon."

" ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

" ' " ' " 'I stopped in at Moran's,' he said. 'The place was dead quiet. There was a fellow there who eyed me oddly. He came up to me and said: "The same thing happened to me! It was a Thursday afternoon."

' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

' " ' " ' " 'It was dead quiet at Moran's,' he said. 'A fellow there eyed me oddly, then came up and said: "The same thing happened to me! It was a Thursday afternoon."

" ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

" ' " ' " ' " 'Moran's was dead quiet,' he said. 'An odd fellow eyed me and said: "The same thing happened to me! It was a Thursday afternoon."

' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

' " ' " ' " ' " 'Moran's was quiet,' he said. 'An odd fellow came up to me and said: "This happened to me! It was a Thursday afternoon."

" ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

" ' " ' " ' " ' " 'Moran's was quiet,' he said. 'An odd fellow said: "This happened to me! It was a Thursday afternoon."

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'Moran's was quiet. A fellow said: "This also happened to me! It was a Thursday afternoon."

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'In Moran's a fellow said: "This also happened to me! It was a Thursday afternoon."

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'In Moran's a fellow said: "This also happened to me! It was on a Thursday."

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'In Moran's a fellow said: "This also happened to me on a Thursday!"

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'In Moran's a fellow said: "This also happened to me Thursday!"

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'In Moran's a fellow said: "This also happened to me!"

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?' I said.

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'In Moran's a fellow said: "This happened to me!"

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?'

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'A fellow said: "This happened to me!"

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?'

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'A fellow said: "It happened to me!"

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?'

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'A fellow said: "Happened to me!"

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?'

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'Fellow said: "Happened to me!"

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?'

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'Fellow said: "Happened!"

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?'

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'Fellow: "Happened!"

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'What?'

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' "Happened!"

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'Wha?'

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' "Happened!"

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " 'Wha?'

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' "!"

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " '?'

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' "!"

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " '?'

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' "!"

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " '?'

' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' "!"

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " '?'

" ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' " ' "!"

By this point the fellow was gesturing and shaking as like he was in a kind of fit. I didn't know if I should prod him to snap him out of it or if I should turn tail and get outa there.

The barman Niall came out just then and his eyes widened to see the man in such a state. Seems he'd seen this before, which made me none too comfortable to be engaged in this dialogue.

Finally in his swaying and gesturing the fellow bumped against me and snapped out of it.

"It was. . ." he said looking at me in fright. "It was like that for me too!"

"Gilbert," Niall began.

"Let me be!" Gilbert said. "I know what I heard and I won't be told otherwise. It happened on a Thursday right here, smack on the same hour, and the fellow went on and on til he was shaking, just like I was telling it."

Niall didn't reply, but began pouring me a pint.

"But how did it end?" I asked the man.

Niall frowned that I was pursuing the question. He shook his head and retreated back down to the store room from where he'd come.

"How did it end?" the man repeated. "How did it end, you want to know? You really want to know?"

I thought it over. My pint stood on the wood before me, a perfect head to it. Glancing at Gilbert, I could see the sweat beading on his forward, the question he had asked still in his eyes. Clearly he was burning to finish the tale.

"No," I said. "Not today. Maybe next Thursday."

Gilbert slumped like the air was let out of him. He got up and went back to where he was sitting when I came in.

* * *

The next Thursday I was there early, waiting in a corner. Gilbert was nowhere to be seen, however, and again Niall was down in the store room. After ten minutes or so a new fellow came in, gave a look round the place, and went up to sit at the bar. I started to feel a kind of itch in me, a compulsion to speak to the man, though I'd never seen him before. I got up and walked over to where he was seated. I sat down next to him and introduced myself.

"You know, I think I can explain," I began, "because just about the same thing happened to me! It was a Thursday afternoon."

"What?" the man said.