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Showing posts from December, 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…