The god would threaten anyone who stole crops or meddled with gardens (he was the protector of gardens) with the following: "I warn you, woman, you will be fucked; boy, you will be buggered; and as for the bearded man, he can give me his mouth!" says the god. And he continues: "This rod shall enter the thief's guts as far as the hair and hilt of my balls."
And that's what I call Fascinating History.
Anyone got any ideas?!
In other news, I now have internet again at home, and I have 122 unread blog post feeds to read. I guess I have a lot of catching up to do. And there's a big bunch of emails, too. I'm also superbusy with my new job and some other stuff - just in case I don't get back to you as quickly as I'd like...
Which means I'll be back soon, however. Off home now, because there's a dog on the loose in the trees.
Neither new models of cars, nor travels, nor love affairs provide the elixir of youth. In grabbing our portions of amusements and pleasures, we expose ourselves to the vengeance of time, which dulls receptivity. We Easterners, on the other hand, precisely because we had to gaze into the hells of our century, made the discovery that the elixir of youth is not a delusion... [The hells] taught us the meaning of full commitment and exploded the barriers between the individual and the social, between style and institution, between aesthetics and politics. That miraculous elixir is nothing other than the certainty that there are no boundaries to the knowledge of what is human...
Through defeats and disasters, humanity searches for the elixir of youth; that is, of life made into thought, the ardor that upholds belief in the wider usefulness of our individual effort, even if it apparently changes nothing in the iron working of the world...
(The ellipsis are all mine.)
Indeed, George Bush himself sees God's Will in acts of violence:
God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.
and in general:
Events aren't moved by blind change and chance…[but] by the hand of a just and faithful God.
Logically, then, George Bush must see Katrina as punishment for New Orleans, the Big Easy, perhaps because the city is known for the naughty fun of the Mardi Gras (a wild carnival of French genealogy; French, and therefore opposed to Freedom, remember.) Certainly Bush's response has been variously criticized. In this interview New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin is moved by despair at the lack of response, he breaks down at the end of the interview, as does the New Orleans journalist interviewing him.
The Jerusalem Newswire certainly sees religious causality behind Katrina, writing that the hurricane is
the implementation of His judgment on the nation [i.e. the US] most responsible for endangering the land and people of Israel... Can’t you see the link, America? Won’t you see the link?
At least one American sees the link precisely the same way: that Hurricane Katrina is God's Fist, come for America because of the evacuation of Israelis settlers earlier this summer. !!UPDATE!! Here is a completely insane religious argument. Incidentally, did the images of so many cars in the post below persuade of a link between Katrina and global warming? Beware the image, else this creepy book cover will persuade you of a link between Katrina and Israel.
I would like to know how members of the Left Behind Prophecy Club see Katrina. (The Left Behind books are a series of best-sellers in the States, set in the near-future when God takes the Holy off to Heaven, and leaves the non-believers on earth to face his wrath, and what-not.) Apparently, many Americans believe these best-sellers books to be more fact than fiction, and so interpret the wars and environmental destruction that America is a part of as God's will. My hunch is they must see Katrina like that, too.
How about you?
...seems to be the message of Juergen Trittin, Germany's environmental minister:
The increasing frequency of these natural events can only be explained through global warming, which is caused by people.
The Bush government rejects international climate protection goals by insisting that imposing them would negatively impact the American economy. The American president is closing his eyes to the economic and human costs his land and the world economy are suffering under natural catastrophes like Katrina and because of neglected environmental policies.
There is only one possible route of action. Greenhouse gases have to be radically reduced and it has to happen worldwide. Until now, the US has kept its eyes shut to this emergency. [Americans] make up a mere 4 percent of the population, but are responsible for close to a quarter of emissions.
(From here, here, and here.)
So, an environmentalist sees man's actions upon the environment as primarily responsible. (The technical underpin of his argument is that hurricanes form above a sea, the heat of the sea directly influences their strength, and global warming heats up the sea. In other words, global warming makes seas hotter, which makes hurricanes stronger. This is undoubtedly true in general, but not necessarily specifically true in this case.)
A well-known socialist writes that the evacuation came "far too late," and then asks:
So why the tardiness [of the speed of the evacuation], and the failure to learn lessons [about the dangers of hurricanes for New Orleans]? Well, you know that thing about capitalism and the free market being the most efficient system available? Want to hear something hilarious? New Orleans' seemingly unintentionally accurately named 'catastrophic hurricane disaster plan' was privatised last year.
I do not share the mirth of this one who knows it all (and incidentally, the above glib comment came at the time it seemed New Orleans would be spared by Katrina.) But enough about feelings. Feelings save no-one, and no doubt ours - yours and mine - are similar anyway, about this awful thing. Anyway, a socialist blames capitalism for the human cost. An environmentalist blames global-warming. There is a logic to each point, which convinces them through their emotional attachment to one particular view.
Might someone argue that capitalism has a sort-of natural selection ethic, where the strong flourish and the weak go under? Perhaps there is justice here for the theoretical ruthless capitalist, or even those inclined to see God's hand in the distribution of wealth and poverty, safety and disaster? For the poor were the left behind in New Orleans. On this point, meteorologist Jeff Masters criticized the lack of an earlier order of an evacuation a few days ago, pointing out prophetically that
not everyone who wants to get out may be able to do so - particularly the 60,000 poor people with no cars.
Back to cars, that sped the lucky ones from immediate calamity, but which perversely are part of the original problem for Juergen Trittin. Perhaps these people who cannot afford cars - and now can see cars floating past them, perhaps the beaten-up second car for the oldest kid, or a wife's runabout for the weekend - are also those being shot at for looting what they can, in the ruins of a city where they are left with nothing.
What will happen to this world? What is to be done?
And my jam knock in the Mitsubishi
Girls pee pee when they see me, Nava-hoes creep me in they tee pee
As I lay down laws like I lay carpet
Stop it - if you think your gonna make a profit
I enjoy playing my music loudly on my car stereo. Apparently, women enjoy this also because they become sexually aroused when they see me driving. Oddly enough, when I visit the Native American reservations, some of the more sexually promiscuous Indian women attempt to seduce me in their homes. Their intent is to divest me of my earnings. Such actions are unacceptable.
It feels like a happy mood, indifferent to any demands, unexcited, full of pleasant contemplation, that will fade into nothing - and that this post is a part of too. Happiness, such a dreadful term, so abstract, as though abstractions should be ends in themselves, valueless things. Such an aggressive term: I'm happy, what's wrong with you? People use it to stab others. Not always, just sometimes. Or such a term of affirmation: the world has made me happy, so I must endorse the world, with all its misery, inequality, hatred, death. Or perhaps the affirmation works the other way around: surely this world cannot be so cruel, surely this world cannot drag me into it? Well, if I'm happy, it's not cruel, and therefore, doesn't require me. Not always, just sometimes. How to know happiness?
How to defend happiness against all the other demands upon our time, the abstract demand to have a function, to be a slave to function, to be a slave to progress, to revolutionary change, or some other change, some other action; to force the world into the simple patterns of the worthy, proclaimed on street corners, in ancient texts, by anyone for anything? How to unite fleeting happiness with hard-to-find value?
Ah, forget it. I'm just putting it here so the moment doesn't entirely disappear, for the time being, maybe to pick it up later.
We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans enroute [sic] to Florida (real or simulated). We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized.
Who said that?
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, in 1962.
How do I know that?
Via this blog post, which then details a number of related incidents, before concluding:
Terrorism is often described as a weapon of the weak ... On the other hand, the use of terror by powerful and relatively stable states - the UK, United States, Russia & Spain to name a few - indicates that the tactic of terrorism is an all too familiar tool for the powerful.
Lenin's blog in general is full of disquieting, powerful, well-researched posts, which is why I find it worth reading.
From an email to me from my housemate. I wonder what he's been up to? My housemate who came out as gay a couple of months ago, incidentally, a while before he headed off to his home in Greece for the summer.
I think in some circles, most maybe, coming out as gay must be a big thing, an announcement you build up to, uncertain of the reception, wary even; we all know the soap-opera stereotypes. Perhaps this is the case in 'traditional' Greek families. (Whilst being totally irrelevant for classical Greek society.) But London really is very gay.
I more see all this as an opportunity for me to get to know my housemate better, get to know a really personal side to him. The question is whether, or not, I can be bothered.
At the start of Joe Orton's 1969 play "What the Butler Saw", male psychiatrist Dr. Prentice interviews the young, attractive, and terrifically naive Geraldine Barclay for the post of his secretary, soon insisting that a full interview requires her to strip naked and jump up on his couch. The surprise return of Mrs Prentice thwarts this attempted seduction, while following her is Bellboy Nicholas Beckett, who in turn is attempting her blackmail with photos secretly taken of their entanglement the previous night. Then Mrs Prentice mistakes Geraldine's clothes for her own, thus leaving Geraldine naked and hiding behind a curtain in the Dr's office, as two of the main formulaic elements of the farce genre find the first of their many permutations in this play - mistaken-identity and clothes-swapping. Into the chaos soon comes two characters, completing the cast. One, a policeman, Sergeant Match, who is investigating both the Bellboy's activities with a party of school girls, and the disappearance of a part of a Winston Churchill statue, which was damaged in a recent explosion, and which is linked to Geraldine's mother. The other is a character less obvious nowadays as an establishment authority figure: crackpot senior psychiatrist Dr. Rance, springing a surprise inspection upon Dr. Prentice.
Whilst all the familiarly cosy conventions of the farce genre soon swing into action - with characters racing across stage, slamming doors, improbably hiding and/or disguising themselves and/or incriminating articles, with many misunderstandings and manic ideas and mistaken identities adding up to an extravagant and convoluted plot, as well as more direct comic moments involving cross-dressing, stripping down to amusing underpants, slapstick, physical humour - the play is not just some straightforward genre piece. One reason is that the script contains flashes of sub-Wildean wit alongside sharp, epigramic observations; two contrasting examples plucked from a choice of many: Dr. Prentice says to his nymphomaniac wife, "You were born with your legs apart. They’ll send you to the grave in a Y-shaped coffin," and, "The sane appear as strange to the mad as the mad to the sane." Equally distinctive is the inclusion of rape, paedophilia, incest, promiscuity, Winston Churchill's penis, transvesticism, all of which are treated lightly and rapidly, and which attracted Lolita-like controversy in Britain in 1969. (When Churchill was only a few years dead, incidentally, and was held in great affection as a Great Briton.)
The play, then, has great fun attacking or making light of social conventions, authority figures and mores, right down to the existence of the family itself. Psychiatry in particular is relentlessly lampooned, as Dr. Rance's diagnoses and analysis are revealed as increasingly maniacal. The great Nabokov, too, successfully collected some truffles at the expense of psychiatry - a target that post-Foucault and in our frank time, seems an unremarkable choice that is somewhat easy to hit. As a result, this central aspect of the play fails to transcend its historical epoch, and in general the outraged nature of its initial reception seems somewhat alien.
So - delivered by Director David Grindley as straight farce played for laughs, as it is - the once-fresh ironic contrast of form and content in "What the Butler Saw" no longer seems even remotely ingenious, and is devoid of shock-value and impact. Perhaps, then, a justified lack of confidence in the freshness of the play explains the machine-gun pace of the performance, in acting that successfully affects a comedic manner, but rarely achieves comic timing. In this respect Malcolm Sinclair as Dr. Rance is particularly poor, his deepening fantasies of psychiatric diagnoses - which are accompanied by dark, self-serving dreams of writing a book about Geraldine Barclay's case, for she is mistaken for an inmate of the institution, amongst others - is peculiarly delivered with the same straightforward directness as a brisk hello. Jonathan Coy as Dr. Prentice is more successful at modulating his character's mood and pace of speech to the confusions of thought and events, whilst Belinda Lang's Mrs Prentice amusingly maintains a poised air of aloof superiority in the face of all the insanity that comes her way. Huw Higginson as Sergeant Match is adequate, and in the most physical of the roles, has a suitably chunky presence for moments when his character is drugged up, and thus is required to walk funny. Joanna Page as Geraldine Barclay offers probably the weakest of the performances here, delivering every line in the same tense voice of bewildered appeal, which became increasingly tedious as the play wore on. Geoff Breton, meanwhile, gave the most nuanced, playful and interesting performance of the play as the bellboy Nicholas Beckett - albeit in a responsive part, with less opportunity for comic bravura. Other than that, the set of this production matches expectations, and the largish space of the stage is exploited especially skilfully; perhaps the only major directatorial slip coming with the excessively stylized treatment of the already excessive ending, which distracts further from events whose ludicrosity already undermines their command of attention.
* * * WARNING : SPOILERS * * *
Perhaps the play's biggest and most interesting connection with the present comes with its treatment of identity and sexuality, which (albeit in comic guise, necessitated by events) are treated as playful, fragmented, frank, changeful, and fluid. Unfortunately this treatment is more glib than penetrative. In the final scene, for instance, it emerges that Dr. & Mrs Prentice are the parents of Geraldine Barclay and Nicholas Beckett. The four members of the Prentice family are united in clichés of love and hugs, in true farce style, and in spite of the accusations of paedophilia hanging over Beckett, in spite of his incest with his mother, and in spite of the fact that the twins were in fact conceived in rape. This happy resolution does make a mockery of the complex, garbled, psychiatric discourse aimed at all the characters in the rest of play - and the authority figures of Rance and Match are nicely excluded from the image of a family bonding. (It also takes a swipe at the conventions of the farce, but the plays only weapon for this is frankness.) Anyway, we no longer live in a world where such figures and discourse represent prevalent forms of knowledge and power, and so the opposition now seems limp, an act of mere negation, and obscure. It's like a debate of whether the dragon or the unicorn exist, where the possibility that neither are a part of reality are overlooked. The human content of the play is sadly a void, (or more charitably, at most to be found under the shadows of black comedy) and because of this, perhaps the decision to direct this performance as a relentless attack of gags and no more was correct.
* * * NO MORE SPOILERS * * *
This is a fun, enjoyable, but largely unremarkable production of a play that is perhaps most interesting for the reactions it no longer elicits, and thus provides a measure of how our time differs from the recent past. It runs until the 22nd October 2005, at the Criterion Theatre in central London - nearest tube is Piccadilly - with tickets from £10 to £40, available via 0870 145 1163 or from here.
However, if you happen to be that sturdy fellow who caught said dwarf, and stood there red-faced as your boss makes an imbecile out of himself, having to grin and fake a laugh because he's your boss, and if later that very day you're offered another job, for £5K more, working with people you like, then DO march into boss's office, DO tell him you're leaving, DO insist on taking all your holiday before you go, in spite of it being the worst time of year to jump ship, and DON'T agree to stay on to train up a new person, DON'T negotiate a leaving date beyond the month you have to give, and DO tell him that after two years of suffering his personality, you have concluded that he's the kind of guy who should never, ever even attempt to make a joke.
"I can," she went on. "And I could smell it this morning. You know what? Honestly, I'm worried one of my cats has pee'd a bit in my wardrobe! If you can smell something, I really want an honest opinion."
"I can't," I said - and then a lightbulb pinged on above my head. "But I know how to find out." I turned my phone on to speaker mode and called up Daniel, who'd been in the office only a moment ago.
"Daniel!" I say, flicking over a cunning smile at Jane. "Just wondering if you could smell cat pee around Jane's desk just now. And if so, whether you think I should say something. She's just popped out of the office, incidentally." That last bit with a wink over.
"I thought she was a bit better today, actually," boomed back Daniel's voice. "But don't say anything, Adam. You must have noticed what she's like."
Speaker phone off. Mumbled goodbyes. A sniff from me but at the next desk, a flood of tears.
* * *
I thought about posting this little office incident on my old blog, starting up its polite little tales of everyday nothings once again. But I don't know, it's just not me, it's just not true.
Blogged: What you call a trivial or largely inconsequential topic once bloggers have processed through every tired detail. For more on this, look into: every minor news story.
Life valued according to speed, fame, cash, life valued according to excitement: such culture was seen coming with the car into Dublin by James Joyce in 1904, and now is visible almost everywhere from here. Fermat's Last Theorem is solved; the mathematician describes the feeling of solving it as akin to being on certain drugs. When English footballers win a medal, more often than not they will gush to the cameras about the buzz of victory. Bragging over drugs themselves embody such things more than anything; raw physical pleasure, devoid of content, measures achievement here amongst us: I've had the best high.
Me? The months of drugs out in Holland, the fist fights late on tube trains, the drunk driving around empty car parks at midnight: excitement, happiness, something entirely different? I do not know - although such things did not do for me, and I do not do them now. And look, I don't even valorize them any more.
* - with total stupidity, imbecile Dan Lienert moronically describes the short-story as
a story about insouciant young race car drivers [which] includes such pro-racing statements as, "Rapid motion through space elates one."
O Lord, may he soon be run over.
Have a better one than me. No internet either, btw.
Quite. (From here.)
I've worked with psychologists, and whilst most of them were dumb, I think 'weird' is probably the main issue. My hunch is that if you are a psychologist, then you find the character of other people mysterious. If you find other people mysterious, it's because you lack intuition into or understanding of others. Too insecure, or too lacking in self-understanding to admit this and do something about it, by reading great novels say, psychologists call themselves scientists, dream up barmy theories, pat each other on the back, and live from tax-payers money up in dusty university rooms.
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