Archive | August 2011

The Troika and the House of Cards It Built

Three years after the Great Market Meltdown, and only now it seems that some are finally taking stock of their own complicity in bringing about the fiasco. I guess that is why “thought” is always in the past tense.

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Pride and Identity Politics

There is much exaggerated talk today of collective forms of “pride”. Gay pride, racial pride, national pride, etc are trumpeted in the streets through public marches, parades, and demonstrations.

Typically, such great public displays of pride only occur in the context of an equally deep-seated and pervasive sense of humiliation and distressed identity. In the case of gays and lesbians it is understandable how the attempt to recoup a sense of dignity and self-worth becomes socially enacted in pride parades, carnivals, and festivals of solidarity. It doesn’t detract from the fact, though, that such exaggerated public displays of pride arise from an undercurrent of wounded dignity and identity. And in that sense, such festivals can be healing and liberating.
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Sin and The System

The Cardinal or Capital Sins of the (Catholic) Christian moral code are seven in number and name. The same are called “The Seven Deadly Sins” and are presently identified as: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. These capital sins are further classified (depending upon the situation in which they are committed) as mortal sins or venial sins. Some sins have been added and some have been subtracted over time. But if you immerse yourself in the study of this code and the nature of these sins, you will emerge from it either totally confused, or a complete bundle of nerves.

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From the Devil’s Notebook, Entry 1

I’ve been corresponding, lately, with a noted author and philosopher (whose name I will not reveal for the time being) about contemporary social issues. I will also not post his own responses at length because of potential copyright or similar issues. Perhaps in future this may be possible. I will, however, summarise and precis his views in order to provide some context for my own responses, which might be taken in the spirit of “notes found in a bathtub” or from a notebook.

I will be entitling this correspondence, when posted, in the form of “notes from the Devil’s Notebook” only because some people — the Anders Breiviks of the world and other assorted reactionaries — already consider me a devil incarnate, worthy only to be rubbed out. It appears that when the neo-conservative reactionaries David Frum and Richard Perle published their imbecilic and idiotic book An End to Evil, they likely had me in mind as well. So… I will helpfully assume their stupid reactionary utopian fantasy and… bedevil them.

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The Cloistered Mind

Sister Teresita is a 103-year-old Spanish nun from the Buenafuente del Sistal Convent near Madrid. She entered the convent on April 16, 1927. It was on the very same day that the present pope was born. She was 19 years old then and has reportedly never set foot out of her convent except for a few of hours during fighting in the Spanish Civil War. This year, however, she will travel to Madrid to meet the Pope on the occasion of World Youth Day. Sister Teresita has reputedly stated that “she will make the trip outside with her eyes closed so that nothing will distract her.”

In other words, rather than actually leave her cloister, Sister Teresita will be taking her cloister with her. It’s a form of willful blindness. You may find it hard to understand how someone, after 84 years of spiritual pursuits, can still be willfully blind to the world like an infant. But the “cloistered mind,” as I call this, is generally the rule amongst human beings. In some ways, this is no different than any other form of human narcissism.

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Silence and Violence

After I had written and posted the last two articles, up popped into my head the half-forgotten lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s song The Sound of Silence. For my part, I find them as prophetic and pertinent still today as W.B. Yeats’ enduring poem The Second Coming. They words capture something enduringly truthful about language and society, and the unarticulated silences (the solitudes) between different groups and classes of people that “like a cancer grows” until it erupts in social or political violence — war or revolution. The social tower of Babel here is “talking without speaking,” “hearing without listening” and the futility of writing songs “that voices never share” in their common isolation and insulation.

Hence, also, the significance of that profound observation that “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.” The very words which I mentioned in the previous to last post on “Where There Is No Vision”…. “No Future, No Hope”.

I have to conclude that it’s one of the greatest songs ever written.

 

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The Corruption of the Public Discourse (The Spice Must Flow)

Unfortunately, “free speech” is not always healthy or responsible speech. Today, much of it is even diseased and corrupt (and corrupting) speech. Few even feel they are accountable or answerable for their “free speech.” It resembles only monologue in that respect: lecturing, haranguing, browbeating, preachiness, propaganda.

 

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