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Showing posts from 2010

Listen Cloze, Now: "Broom People" by the Mountain Goats


A long list of things in John Darnielle's step-house: tales of ordinary madness. The Sunset Tree is one long song sung to his past.

The title is obscure; perhaps it means "thrifty folk"; a household that has to repair its worn-out broom, (and sweep all sorts of things under the carpet). The food is no better than "fresh fuel for the sodium flares"; processed, salty crap that he gets his kicks out of burning.

It's more than Caulfieldiana. He's deeply affected by the mundane; depressed by untidiness and low-income ennui. But when he's "in your arms", "in the long tresses of your hair" this goes away. Things go elemental. He's a wild creature escaping out from under "the king of the jungle", an abusive stepfather. (We can find anything disturbing and anything profound.)

I'd thought that the arms he was saved by were his mother's, but in other places (Lion's Teeth)…

Wilde and Warhol in bed

(c) Ronald D Gosses (2009) Andy Warhol & Oscar Wilde meet over Margaritas
Somehow or other I'll be famous, and if not famous, I'll be notorious. Or perhaps I'll lead the life of pleasure for a time and then—who knows?—rest and do nothing.
- Wilde

If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films - and me - and there I am. There’s nothing behind it."
- Warhol

(Notes on wilful contrariness for a later work.)

Andy Warhol is heir to Oscar Wilde, but I've never read anyone noticing this. I don't mean just that their queerness crashed into and shaped modernism and postmodernism respectively (though that's a good one); nor just that they fundamentally share the role of the sparkling dandy riding atop our none-more-wishful culture; nor that they're the most quotable figures in history. I mean that their similar self-constructions - the effeminate, theatrical, aesthetically-fixated, charming, amoral queer - occupy …

Listen Cloze, Now: "Stand By Me" by Ben E King

Schlep; schlep;
Schlep-schlep-schlep; schlep,
Schlep-schlep-schlep; schlep,
Schlepppschlep; schlep........

An old Drifter rolls into town, and your front yard, and your arms.

In the best version (1961 single, not this ^ one), the double-bass is a mess; waterlogged, flattened, hushed. It's just percussion. But out of it: glory underplayed, undertoned, motive, roadlike.

As in all this calibre of R&B, the guitar and backing trio are barely there. The strings creeping up, up, up on him are a masterclass in predictability; their 1:55 spotlight is painful, extremist contralto schmaltz. And yet! they are after all only the bassline given razored, tight wings, dream-come-true dignity.

There's only two bits to the lyrics (fidelity, and apocalyptic fidelity) and scarcely two in the sound (that stepwise homophony, which King's voice is just interpolating, but with such measured, accented passion that you don't notice). Is that enough for this song to "be about" anything?


my word processor says the antonym of philosophical is "realistic"

(c) Rembrandt (1632), 'The Philosopher in Meditation'

Bertrand Russell once referred to Kant as the greatest catastrophe in the history of philosophy. C. D. Broad commented that this position surely belonged to Hegel. Russell and Broad were wrong, because this title undoubtedly belongs to Martin Heidegger. - Paul Edwards,
two citations needed.

In eighteenth-century Europe, as in modern times, passports — quite literally documents which allowed the bearer to 'pass through a port' — had to be carried on most long-distance journeys... For identification purposes they contained a detailed description of the bearer. 'It is commanded to safely and freely let pass: Jacques Cazanua Italian thirty-two years old, five foot ten and a half inches tall or Thereabouts Face long, plain Swarthy. Heavy long nose. Large mouth. Brown, highly intelligent eyes.'"
- Judith Summers
People's passports used to have descripti…

The Arrogance of Saints, 1

A friend said he wished to improve the world. Just improve yourself; that is the only thing you can do to better the world.
- Wittgenstein


Is [existing] not an act of repulsing, excluding, exiling, stripping, killing? … I fear for all the violence and murder my existing might generate. I fear occupying someone's place.
- Levinas

Observation statement #1:
The Shanghai district government is offering postgraduate scholarships to foreigners (even philosophers).
Observation statement #2:
I am relatively poor and want to know Chinese.
Observation statement #3:
The Chinese government publically-but-secretly executes about 6000 people a year, putting to shame the rest of the world, who are only unspeakable 2000 times a year put together.
Observation statement #4:
The Chinese government covertly tortures lots (illegally, even by their own fucking law).
Observation statement #5:
There is in place, in this "Communism", a hereditary class order (rural/urban) reminiscent of apartheid.


What various people said the most fundamental part of the world was - the bottleneck through which the rest of reality flows. (Or does now, after their work done unbunged it.)

ARISTOTLE: Begin with the first causes and the principles of things.
"what is being qua being?" (metaphysical priority).

DESCARTES: Begin with yourself, with only the most evident things.
"what is known?" (epistemic priority)

KANT: Begin with the interface of active subject & world:
"how do we have knowledge"? (apperceptive priority)

RUSSELL: Begin at the most basic facts:
"what are the real átomos?" (logical priority)

HUSSERL: Begin with the universal impression of consciousness:
"what does the a priori shape of our experience say about the objective?" (phenomenological priority)

HEIDEGGER: Begin with the meaning of Being:
"why something rather than Nothing?" (fundamental-ontological priority)

LEVINAS: Begin with the Other:
"have I a right to be, given thi…

do not forget we live in the future

(c) Elizabeth Parker Hats

"We exist in a state of social and physical equanimity that is unparalleled in the history of humans. Why else would we alert the media every time we feel a little blue?"
- Dave Hickey

Look at this reverse image search thing! God, isn't it worth social atomisation and massively lower attention spans? Particularly when taken in tandem with this lovely thing. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this, this, this and this. And all that. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this(alt). And this. And these. And this.

(Prostate exam of justice.)

They've all got downsides. (Ok, not Child'sPlay) But that's built into the idea of "technology". Wikileaks in particular is a time-traveller from some future place where people actually control their governments. But in this spacetime manifold, it's fucking dangerous.(Regarding that future "actual democracy", the Chinese 人肉搜索, "human-flesh search-engine" seem…

what's eating him?

What are you so angry about?

1. When journalists attribute coherent thought systems to politicians who have no such thing. It becomes the duty of academics to "reconstruct" (i.e. construct) them. cf. Thatcherism, Reaganism, even Howardism.

2. When Peter Strawson sets the agenda for the metaphysics of the next fifty years with a bollocksy arbitration that William of Ockham wouldn't have touched.

Steve Pratt (2009), Metaphysics of Presence, elk shit on hessian

3. When geniuses are idiots, and loudly.
Freeman Dyson (denied that humans have damaged the environment, tried to discredit IPCC)

Ludwig Wittgenstein: "Pinsent enraged me with notions of women’s suffrage. The only women I know are idiots who flirt with professors." Also his life-denial and Natural Law stuff.

Salvador Dali

Martin Heidegger (Fry, Watson and Meades don't make the list.)

4. The theoretical conclusion that "The free-market is an automatic producer of justice."

5. When music is dismis…

Lists of Songs in Songs

On Spotify Here

1. Plus Ones - Okkervil River
no one wants a tune about the 100th luftballoon,
seen shooting from the window of your room
to be a spot against the sky's colossal gloom, and land, deflated
in some neighbor state that's strewn with 99 others

2. Hot Topic - Le Tigre
(fuh all thuh gurrrrlz)

3. Losing My Edge - LCS Soundsystem

It is about being horrified by my own silliness. And then it became a wider thing about people who grip onto other people’s creations like they are their own.

4. Teachers - Daft Punk)
(You haven't heard of these, go away if you say you have.)

5. Teachers - Soulwax
(be nothing like one's heroes)

6. A Praise Chorus
(Wait for the bridge: Shondells, Madness, Promise Ring, Bad Company, They Might be Giants. This meant something to me, once.)
Crimson and clover, over and over
Crimson and clover, over and over
Our house in the middle of the street, why did we ever meet?
Started my rock 'n roll fantasy

maybe partying will help

Avatar (2010)
We think that fun is radical and revolutionary fun actually was becoming quite subversive fun was very important it was a direct rebuttal of the kind of ethics and morals that were being put forth in the country to keep people working in a rat race. bakhtin saw the carnival as a popular expression of subversion a “world turned inside out” in which people could make fun of the systems the system of power that structured their everyday existence maan

Matrix 2 (2004)

"To dance is to rebel."

the performance principle denies people’s desire for “mindless pleasures”—sexual, playful, and nonproductive (or nonreproductive)—in order to promote labor that becomes ever more alienated from its products

The role of the father is taken by “the Man” who “has a branch office in each of our brains”

Fuck the rich! Fuck the cops! Everyone to the streets on Saturday November 20! We will party in Parliament Square and if the cops try and stop us with their usual violence - WE WIL…

Why Worry?

Rationalist walks into a job interview.

Interviewer: "Have you any experience in the field, Mr...Leibniz?" Rationalist: "WHAT IF I DON'T?"

Reading a wee biography of Shane MacGowan which describes his childhood as "port-stained". Not "port-wine-stained", but worse.


"I found out I'm gay, a few weeks ago in Oklahoma.
That sucked - I had no idea! Some guy in a bar told me, he said:
'Hey, you're a faggot!' And I thinks:

'Ahh shit! How am I gonna tell my Dad? It was hard enough breaking it to him that I was an asshole. He's gonna hate this!'"
- Doug Stanhope

MISSING: proper conception of male sexuality. If found, please return to

The Connoisseuse of Slugs - Sharon Olds


Mr Levinas, Gamesmaster

“When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity...When you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate. Hate was just a failure of imagination.”
- Graham Greene



[cmd:/run {existence}]

---Welcome to Being!

---You usurp {Djellali Mohd}. What gives you the right to do that to him? You take {200} Shame Points!

---You see Dave, the guy who always gives you hassle about your hair!
---You see {9} Responsibility Points!

[cmd:/take 9RP]

---You receive 9000 Shame Points!

[cmd:/give sandwich: Dave]

---Dave is {still hungry}!
---Shame total {8999}
---Through Dave's Face, you realize you are related (always-already asymmetrically non-subsumptive divinely) to all Thirds! You now have {6.999999 billion} dependents!


the descent of man

And, now, No.5; the ascent of the world...

Listen Cloze, Now: Joanna Newsom's "Have One On Me" (2010) her words really need to be broken down like formulae? I think not. Simply to escape into the world of Joanna and be incapsulated into it and applauding it is enough. And maybe not understanding completely is the more beautiful act of musical appreciation, lack of total understanding leaves the listener with a humbled nice sense of ignorant awe. - Guardian commenter

(Forgive me; I'm rarely satisfied by ignorant awe.)

1. "Give love a little shove and..."

It is commonly and truly noted that this woman's work is hard work. Well, Have One On Me is a map of the heart, and you shouldn't expect such things to offer themselves lightly. The album traces the several forms of love: divine or agape (tracks (3, 7, 14); filial (track 9, 14); courtly (track 2); obsessional (tracks 1, 5, 10); maternal (track 6! but touches in 1, 5, 11, 14); platonic (passionate friendship: track 8 and maybe 11); panicked (track 4); dependent (track 5, 10, 16); wilful (track 1, 16);