The Slow Wokeists

Zizek talks about The Fast Runner and wokeAF film critics:

I’m not giving you this multi-cultural bullshit, ‘ooh, native Americans, Inuit, what a great nation,’ no, [The Fast Runner] is simply a good movie. Did you see [it]? I simply enjoyed it. And I hope I can repeat a story why I like it….it was a big lesson against superficial leftist critique….some people who were friends with the producers sent me a box of all the materials about the movie….the director* of the movie (who now unfortunately [has] died), you know the story so I won’t go into it; but some idiot – I mean white, liberal, politically correct — ….reproached the movie for succumbing to Hollywood commercialization, because you know the movie stages an old Inuit legend, and the movie changes the ending. I read [that] the original Inuit legend ends tragically; they all more or less kill each other. In the movie [however] it’s just that the two bad guys are not even killed, they’re just excommunicated and so on; it’s a much softer, open ending.

So the reproach was, ‘you’re not faithful to the original, you’ve succumbed to Hollywood commercialism and so on.’ Oh my god. The guy, the Inuit director, gave a perfect answer. He said, ‘no, you are a white racist here….because you don’t see that retelling the story always in a different way to fit the present circumstances [is] our Inuit tradition. Your notion of “being faithful to the original” theory is your white people’s ideology. You don’t get…how our original native logic works; it’s very opportunistic. We – because we are the original traditional people – don’t fetishize our culture into the original tradition; we manipulate it to tell the story always in a new way.’

*- Zizek said director but I think he’s referring to the movie’s writer/producer, Paul Angilirq.

How Do You Dooley?

I’d never heard of Mr. Dooley, “a fictional Irish immigrant bartender created by American journalist Finley Peter Dunne,” before but ‘he’ was the subject of the wikipedia article of the day, so I clicked. I’m glad I did.

Apparently Dooley didn’t much care for the late-Gilded Age plutocrats who reigned during the Cleveland administration:

Commerce from the Columbian Exposition had helped shield Chicago from the gloom of the economic Panic of 1893, which enveloped much of the rest of the nation, but after the exposition closed, the winter of 1893–94 saw much unemployment, suffering and starvation. As Irish immigrants were disproportionately employed as laborers, and had less education than other ethnic groups, Bridgeport was hit especially hard by the depression, and this was reflected in the columns. Dunne’s anger especially focused on George Pullman, whose wage cuts for his workers (while not cutting the rents of their houses, which his company owned) helped provoke the Pullman Strike of 1894.[28][29] In his column of August 25, Dunne wrote,

Mr. Dooley swabbed the bar in a melancholy manner and turned again with the remark, “But what’s it all to Pullman? When God quarried his heart a happy man was made. He cares no more for them little matters of life or death than I do for O’Connor’s [bar] tab. ‘The women and children are dying of hunger,’ they say, ‘will you not put out your hand to help them?,’ they say. ‘Ah, what the hell,’ says George. ‘What the hell’, he says. ‘James,’ he says, ‘a bottle of champagne and a piece of cranberry pie. What the hell, what the hell, what the hell’.”

“I heard two died yesterday,” said Mr. McKenna. “Two women.”

“Poor things, poor things. But,” said Mr. Dooley, once more swabbing the bar, “what the hell.”[a]

Dunne brought this column into the Post’s composing room to be set in type. When he returned later to check the proof, the typesetters began to drum their sticks on their cases, and then burst into lengthy applause, an experience Dunne described as the most moving of his life.”[30]

This is also good:

Although [Dooley] applauded….acts of individual charity, Dunne through Dooley denigrated charitable organizations, wondering that “a man can square himself with his conscience by giving one thousand dollars to a policeman and telling him to distribute it! Why don’t they get the poor up in a cage in Lincoln Park and hand them food on the end of a window pole, if they’re afraid they’ll bite[?]”

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Or, All This Has Happened Before; All This Will Happen Again. The problems, critiques, solutions, and fake solutions (eg, charity is bullshit) of their Gilded Age are the same as those of our own. But I’d rather not wait another thirty to forty years for a new New Deal. To countermand a phrase from the monster who hijacked it: faster, please.

Thx, Creeps

I’d struggled with different ways to describe the illiberal “liberal” monsters I hate, for instance:

  • Identitarian neoliberals
  • Social liberalism-only liberals
  • Libertarians with slightly less subhuman faces (sorry, Mr Dubcek, Ms Sontag)
  • Creative class moderates
  • Comfy class gay-friendly tax evaders
  • Judith Butlerian jihadists (sorry, Mr. Herbert)
  • Pronoun-obsessed empire enthusiasts
  • Trust funded tumblr twats
  • Politically correct social Darwinists
  • Intersectional neoconartists
  • Artisanally woke centrists
  • Social justice 1%ers
  • School-privatizing aesthetic Stalinists
  • Austeritarians for over-invested identity politics
  • Inclusive deregulators
  • Speech-policing free traders for greater economic inequality

but they’re all too long. On a blog it doesn’t matter, but on twitter with the 140 character limit it’s difficult to make a point and describe the radically social liberal, warmongering, economically conservative corporate whores who have gained complete media and cultural hegemony and destroyed any chance of social democracy.

You know the kind; like the ChapoTrapHouse boys said, they’re the so insufferably woke people who, as long as they name the latest bunker buster bomb after Sojourner Truth, can sleep well at night. The sort that, like my twitter pal Phillips Pasha says, praises putting Harriet Tubman on the 20$ bill but wants a Grand Bargain on social security. In other words, Hillary Clinton’s cadre.[1]

Now God knows the alt-right has a lot to answer for but to give credit where due they have enriched the political vocabulary; their name for the type of “liberal” described above is SHITLIB. It’s concise, snarly, evocative, righteous — perfect.

So thank you, fascist Shitlords; I appreciate it.

[1] Cf., the conclusion of Eric Alterman’s What Liberal Media?: it is full of people who are socially liberal (often extremely so) but conservative on economics and foreign policy. Yes, duh.

Live From Golgotha!

Watch a few Scientology documentaries on youtube and a lot of strange things pop in the suggested videos column. Also, there are treasures – albeit in this case an incomplete one: Harlan Ellison tells the late Robin Williams about being a high school kid who went to New York City and hung out with all the famous mid-century science fiction writers; the Most Contentious Man Alive was there at the Hydra Club when a religion was born:

Lester del Rey… a well-known writer…subsequently became del Rey Books….Lester, in his childhood, had been a stump minister…he had been a revivalist, he was a child evangelist. So, [L.] Ron [Hubbard] was complaining that he was breaking his ass writing and…he was never gonna get [financially ahead]…they were gonna find him slumped over the typewriter one day because there’s no annuity, there’s no insurance, and you can’t keep it up [writing] forever….these guys [writers] knew they had to do something and [Hubbard] said there’s gotta be a better way to make money, so Lester says, “start a religion!” [Laughter] That’s the way to do it, start a religion. And [Hubbard] said, “yeah, not a bad – now what kinda religion?” Well, one guy contributed Reich’s orgone box, another one came up with engrams, which were forgotten-lost memories or whatever it was and sure enough, [Hubbard] went and…cobbled up Dianetics and he wrote this book – has all of that stuff in it…

There the clip ends; I would very much like to hear the rest of their conversation.

Ellison was there, knows all the dirt, drops several names: del Rey, Hubbard, Algis Budrys, Harry Harrison, more, but doesn’t say exactly who contributed the specifics to LRH’s scheme beyond the initial idea. (Incidentally, it’s worth listening just to hear someone overwhelm Robin Williams with verbiage; I’m not sure Williams could have kept pace with Ellison even in his most cocaine-fueled Mork days.) Ellison tells a tangential but interesting anecdote about L. Sprague DeCamp who “looks like somebody out of a Louis Auchincloss novel” but was apparently spergy in the android Data extreme, uncomprehending of how humor worked. And on the Star Trek note, while listening I kept thinking of that DS9 episode (maybe its best) “Far Beyond The Stars,” in which the regular characters are reconstituted as midcentury science fiction writers – Chief O’Brien is an Asimov clone, Dax as a thinly veiled DC Fontana, etc – and trying to insert into my mental scene versions of young Ellison (no, not Wesley Crusher) and middle-aged LRH (guest starring Jeffrey Jones); but it just doesn’t work and it’s not fair to Sisko.

The other thing I’m reminded of with regard to del Rey’s at least half-sarcastic suggestion to LRH is the late Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, in which the central superconspiracy theory or, if you like, Unified Field conspiracy theory is also invented by agnostic nerds (with help of a computer) as a joke and is of course then taken seriously by the desperately credulous to predictably ugly and tragic results.

Co-opted Point, Counterco-opted Point

From BBC Panorama’s “Secrets of Scientology”:

Ex-Scientologists: The technique is to push your buttons. People have emotional buttons, they have things that set them off, and [Scientologists] study you for that….watch you very carefully. [Scientologists] compare notes, [find your weakness and] push your button next time….[to the Interviewer, John Sweeney] Yours was “bigot,” right?

John Sweeney: I am not a bigot.

[Clips play of Scientologists calling Sweeney a bigot]

John Sweeney: Calling me a bigot annoys me because I am not a bigot.

Ex-Scientologists: I understand that.

John Sweeney: Hold on a second–

Ex-Scientologists: But if I keep cutting you off like this I will actually drive you nuts. [cuts off Sweeney again and again]…every time you start to say something I cut you off, it’s another way of getting you – so that you become emotionally upset. It builds up like a dam: all these things you want to originate keep getting cut off, it builds up like a dam and finally explodes –

John Sweeney: It’s annoying– [cut off] I want to say something —

Ex-Scientologists: No! [crosstalk] Bigots are not allowed to talk!

Here’s the vid; quoted passage above begins at about 17m50s:

It’s normal that he flinches at that word: as a bourgie, educated member of the media elite, John Sweeney has been trained to believe being a bigot is the worst thing one can be, a zillion times worse than exploiter, robber, plutocrat, Big Liar, election stealer, torturer, torture enthusiast, war criminal, mass murderer (basically anything horrible but sexual assaultist and rapist) – not only the worst thing morally, but also potentially the most damaging to one’s career. Sweeney is genuinely horrified to be so accused and is indignant because he suspects his accusers operate in bad faith.


It’s fashionable to say that the language and techniques of social justice have been co-opted by the right – in the example above, the religious right, kooky division – but I’ve been tweeting that it’s better to say they have been counterco-opted back from SJWs and therefore returned to their natural home. That social justice has been recently confirmed as corporate, and often cynical, neoliberal identitarianism, perhaps it’s now best however to say they’ve always been in the same illiberal home, moving as it were from room to room. Someone should burn it all down to the fucking ground.

Stupid Like A Fox

While rando websurfing today I came across the following:

In 1964, [Muhammad Ali] was reclassified as 1-Y (fit for service only in times of national emergency) after two mental tests found his IQ was 78 (16th percentile), well below the armed force’s 30th-percentile threshold. (He was quoted as saying, “I said I was the greatest, not the smartest!”)

….which is a reminder of how ridiculous it is that people actually believe IQ is a useful gauge of mental ability.

Ali was a brilliant man, a master of psychology, who in the ring thought many moves ahead like a grandmaster of chess; he had a quick and clever wit, could string together battle raps and wrestling-style insults completely impromptu, all while in front of cameras and people and tremendous distraction. Yet according to his IQ score, he was of less than average intelligence, a result so absurd given his obvious real-world smarts that some people thought he’d intentionally botched the test to rope-a-dope the draft board. He’s asked as much in the following video; his reply is denial, then a joke.

The whole video is instructional on the topic of Ali’s (largely untutored, he explains) intelligence. In it, as in so many of his appearances before disease transformed him, he is funny, cautious, charming, clever, a talented politician, a star, a hero, one of those rare wonderful people who doesn’t even have to perform – just rather merely and observably, be – to make the observer feel good to be alive.

Generation Hex

Billy Corgan on Generation X. Corgan has always been shrewd about his critics, so I also left in the part including his counterpunching description of the familiar sort of privileged authenticity-fetishists who are a menace to so many fandoms in pop culture.

Corgan: I’m surprised by the lack of provocation in the artistic class, particularly in Generation X, which was a generation that benefited – we might as well be dead. I don’t see what our impact is; we’ve let the nerds take over. TV and music is filled with a bunch of nerds running agendas that are really counter-holistic, self-referential. You know, a part of – there were different shadows to the X generation, one of which was: how do we include everybody? And somehow that’s been warped into, once again, how do we disbar those who don’t fit into our agendas. Very strange to me.
Ghomeshi: Who do you mean when you say the nerds? Because I thought to a certain extent we were the nerds.
Corgan: I thought we were the nerds, but I didn’t realize a bunch of people were gonna come around with their laptops and claim authority. Being bookish, to me, is not being a nerd. You know, I once met some guy who was running some website – it was a fan website but super-critical of the band – and I asked him what he thought of our new website, and he was like “I don’t like your use of the color red.” I mean, that’s the kinda thing I’m talking about. Usually — and I say this with humility because I’m “from there,” it’s usually middle class to upper-middle class white kids who tell the world how it should be run. And they often times don’t have a street feel because they haven’t come from people, or they can’t remember whether their ancestry was from that street, and oftentimes they turn to sources that give them the street, but they like to drop in and out…so a rap culture or edgy DJ culture because they can, you know, put on the Birkenstocks for the weekend and pretend that they’re a hippie, and they go back to their very safe existence. I didn’t come from that safe existence – I existed in it – but I didn’t come from that, so I’m very sensitive to the way particularly whites abuse kinda intellectual ideas ‘to put themselves over’ to use a wrestling term.
Ghomeshi: thing I was gonna say about Generation X, though, isn’t it — and this is a trait of each generation that gets to a certain age, but — isn’t it that we’re taking over the asylum to a certain extent, and so we only have ourselves to blame? I mean, I fell that it’s Generation X now that’s in the corridors of power..increasingly overtaking the baby boomers…..we’re just taking over the power.
Corgan: I disagree with that….Generation X is an underpopulated generation. [Ghomeshi: the smallest, yeah] I think we’re 40 million versus the 80 million before and the 80 million after. I would say that the baby boomers are still running a lot of things and whatever this generation is you wanna call it now (we call them the Millennials and I have one in my band), I think they’re still – are – running the show right now. Their agendas, and the way they clash or work in some ways hand in hand are kinda running things, and Gen X has been sort of more like a sulking child in the corner.
Ghomeshi: We went from slacker to just screwed.
Corgan: I don’t think that we’re screwed. You could argue that there’s a strain of victimhood in Generation X and maybe there’s a reason for that: a lot of us were abused. We were maybe the last generation that was abused in the shadows, and maybe that had — and maybe our imprint on that has something to do with what’s happened at Penn State and now what’s happening with the BBC. You see, you know, this hidden pedophilia culture being brought to light now. Maybe Gen-Xers have something to do with that because we’re particularly very sensitive toward abuse – abuse of power particularly. But I don’t see us asserting our will in any shape or form, and in fact, as I’ve begun to assert my will as I’ve become in my estimation “a man” in my forties, I’m constantly told that I need to be quiet, and I don’t understand that. I feel I’ve earned the right to say something.

As Seen On TV

Bubbles is the philosopher of the trailer park. He, like Leo Strauss, cites Plato when advising Julian to use the Noble Lie. He cites Gordon Sumner when telling Ricky that if he loves something, he should set it free. He takes in kitties, as did Lenin and Dr. Johnson. He lives in a tool shed like Diogenes lived in a tub. He’s nearly blind, like Tiresias or Master Po in Kung Fu, and his coke-bottle glasses are an homage to good government philosopher Izzy Stone and musician/s&m philosopher Mark Mothersbaugh. His “Green Bastard” and Conky alter egos are in the manner of James Madison’s “Publius,” Lev Bronstein’s “Trotsky,” and Andy Kaufman’s “Tony Clifton.” He calls Randy a “cocksucker” and a “cheeseburger-eating bastard,” epithets frequently spewed, as everyone knows, by Nietzsche during his final days with tertiary syphilis. He was a foundling, like Aristotle and Moses. Like Confucius and Christ, he just wants everyone to get along.

Actually, this is all bullshit, done in mockery of hipster douchesnorkels who write wanky articles on the internet celebrating their own folly of digging far too deeply into perfectly shallow – yet perfectly decent and authentically artistic for that shallowness – pop culture material. Digging for the sake of digging, finding fool’s gold, and smugly telling the world it’s the real thing; meanwhile, look at this formerly lovely landscape their mining’s disturbed.

Say, Don’t Be Mean! Mean What You Don’t Say

Norman Mailer, on how vague and euphemistic language became under Soviet totalitarianism (at roughly 17m 57s):

I learned a lot about Soviet society…[we wanted to have the interpreter ask] ‘What year was your father in the gulag?’ since it had come up in the conversation in a roundabout way. And [the interpreter] said, ‘I will not ask that question; it will wreck the interview. You will insult them by such a question; it will not go on.’ So we said, well ask the question the way you want to ask it. So she asked the question and got an answer so we turned and said what did you ask them and she’d say, ‘I say to them: was there a year that was worse for your family than other years?’ And through that you began to get a sense of how aroundabout everything was in the old Soviet Union, that people became….not evasive, but they phrased questions in such a way that they had no sharp edges, there was no handle to the conversation so they could not be repeated definitively afterward in such a way as to incriminate you.

This, he goes on to say, in contrast to the native “brusque approach” of the Russian language which has “no definite or indefinite articles.”

Whenever I encounter someone talking about euphemism (e.g., PC), twistification (e.g., legalese, propaganda), and other forms of linguistic dishonesty, I think of two people who were excellent on the subject, rightly calling such phenomena precinctive to sick societies. George Carlin:

And Gore Vidal:

“Currently, any use of the word “race” in the United States is considered an a priori proof of the user’s racism. Abstract nouns are now subject to close scrutiny to make sure that the noun’s deployer is not a racist or sexist or ageist or bigot. Meanwhile, any word or phrase that might cause distress must undergo erasure while euphemism (the E- — or is it U- or Eu- — word?) is the order of the day, as “body bag” suddenly becomes, in Pentagonese, “human remains pouch” since “pouch” is a resolutely cheery word, suggesting cute marsupials Down Under, while “bag” is a downer, as in “bag lady,” Munich, appeasement, Hitler. A babble of words that no one understands now fills the airwaves, and language loses all meaning as we sink slowly, mindlessly, into herstory rather than history because most rapists are men, aren’t they?

when Confucius was asked what would be the first thing that he would do if he were to lead the state – a never-to-be-fulfilled dream — he said, __Rectify the language__. This is wise. This is subtle. As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: You liberate a city by destroying it. Words are used to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests. Fianlly, words must be so twisted as to justify an empire that has now ceased to exist, much less make sense.

Via Negativa

It’s not exactly that I don’t care what you admire or whom, what you believe, your ideals. It’s just that positivity isn’t nearly as interesting, and just as importantly isn’t as informative, as negativity. Please do not praise unless you’re using sarcasm. Rather, do me the favor of sharing your most rancorous beliefs; rant for me. Tell me what and who you hate, what you think sucks, and why. Mock, sneer, snarl – but be intelligent about it. Condemn and justify! And don’t give me that fake-hippie garbage that hating is wrong, that you don’t hate; it’s bullshit, and you’re lying.

Warren Harding, a boringly sunshiney proto-Reagan said, “There’s good in everybody. Boost. Don’t knock.” Well, fuck a bunch of him. Better is Alice Roosevelt Longworth, his contemporary, whose famous line “if you haven’t got anything good to say about anybody, come sit next to me” isn’t as much about petty gossiping as it’s a grand critical and artistic statement.