Archive for February, 2008

links for 2008-02-27

  • “Democracy is at a huge advantage over dictatorship or monarchy when it comes to handling the organized succession problem, because the entire system is predicated on the possibility of non-violent succession and an amnesty (or at least amnesia) for the former rulers.”

Lawyers for non-representational art!

I love the legal disclaimers at the beginning of novels that say “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Well, so much for the preface to The Portrait of a Lady: “Recognising so promptly the one measure of the worth of a given subject [of fiction], the question about it that, rightly answered, disposes of all others–[is] is it valid, in a word, is it genuine, is it sincere, the result of some direct impression or perception of life?…The spreading field, the human scene, is the “choice of subject”; the pierced aperture, either broad or balconied or slit-like and low-browed, is the ‘literary form.'” Those little disclaimers are ideological dynamite, like the bloated pig corpses stuffed with explosives that sappers used to dig under the walls of enemy castles during the Middle Ages to bring them down. It looks like the legal profession is not in favor of realism in fiction. Any resemblance to “persons…events or locales”? Wow, what does that leave? Allegories, like the medieval stories about Piety, Chastity, Jew-Baiting and Witch-Burning traveling to Paradise together, or perhaps reverse Aesopian fables, where the human characters actually represent animals? In any case, novelists often like to pleasure themselves with endless debates about whether their work is any longer “relevant” in the wider world. I say their irrelevance is contractually mandated. Aren’t “unflinchingly true portrayals” inherently a breach in code?

The Democratic nominee will be a white chauvinist pig

In spite of my planned abstinence, my favorite part of this election obviously is that Hillary or Obama, whichever triumphs, is going to be striking, through their victory, a resounding blow for the continued oppression and marginalization of minorities. This is because if Hillary wins it will be white America once again excluding the black man, whereas if Obama wins it will yet another demonstration of the inability of women to remove the glass ceiling. All the old cranks in the anti-war protest that might have just turned into a rally for cheaper prescription drugs seem to be in massive denial about this fact. Hopefully the irony will propitiate all the disgruntled conservatives a little when President Jesus is causing civilization to capitulate to barbarism and violence by sitting down and talking peacefully to the beards rather than bombing the holy shit out of them.

Obama saves!

As usual, this year I will not be taking part in our annual national ritual of meaningless, back-patting, smarmy self-righteousness (and as such the true spiritual ancestor of veganism and Prius-driving), that is to say voting. However, the whole tawdry spectacle is being thrust upon me by the sign-waving ninnies who seem to occupy every street corner these days in college diploma-heavy territory. For instance, Cambridge gets periodically assaulted by a highly insane guy wearing a Jesus sign who wanders around the whole Boston area shouting at people (granted, there might be more than one of those). The other night, out of the corner of my eye I saw some tall, sign-waving black guy haranguing people in Harvard Square and assumed it was Crazy Jesus Man, but on closer inspection it turned out to be–an Obama ’08 campaigner! I enjoyed the series of “Obama Messiah Watch” columns that appeared in Slate last year making fun of the “gratuitously adoring biographical details that appear in newspaper, television, and magazine profiles of this otherworldly presence in our midst,” but now the parallels are getting a little disturbing, seeing as how Obama supporters have reached the point where they can now be easily mistaken for crazed Jesus freaks. Whether their frenzy is similarly motivated by massive displaced sexual frustration is unclear, but on the off chance that it is, I eagerly await Obama chastity bracelets and Obama rock, where you think the singer is singing about some hot girl until you realize that he’s actually singing about Obama.

p.s. Another time recently when I was going for a run, in a somewhat run-down liquor store across the river in Allston I saw possibly the greatest name for cheap (and presumably fortified) wine ever: Barefoot Wine. I also saw a George Foreman ad extolling the health benefits of some fast food joint, which is sort of amusing in its own right, but more to the point, with his grill and now this, since when did George Foreman become an authority on healthy eating? He’s not exactly slim and trim. He sort of looks like the result if the Marshmellow Man took a journey through someone’s digestive tract.