Sunday, March 11, 2018

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! vol. 127

At this point, such incidents have become so routine that it’s tempting to wave them off. 

We shouldn’t. What happened to Ms. Sommers on Monday is a telling example of a wider phenomenon that reaches well beyond the confines of campus. Call it the moral flattening of the earth. 

We live in a world in which politically fascistic behavior, if not the actual philosophy, is unquestionably on the rise. Italy just gave the plurality of its vote to a party that is highly sympathetic to Vladimir Putin. The Philippines is in the grip of a homicidal maniac who is allying himself with Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi just anointed himself president for life and has banned the words “Animal Farm” and “disagree” from Chinese internet searches. Bashar al-Assad is winning in Syria, where half a million people have so far been slaughtered. Dictatorship and starvation have descended on Venezuela. At its annual conference in Washington last month, the Conservative Political Action Committee gave its stage, and its enthusiastic applause, to a member of France’s National Front. That’s just a short list.

Yet these are generally not the extremists that leftists focus on. Instead, they seem to believe that the real cause for concern are the secret authoritarians passing as liberals and conservatives in our midst.

We’re All Fascists Now

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Negation Aspiration vol. 96 (Dead Man's Oscar Party)


 Is this culture content? Is it happy? Are the smiles broadcast by this culture’s media the smiles that reflect the collective mind? Does the self-professed compassion of the media for the unfortunate seem sincere? 

 Is this culture a Judeo-Christian culture? Is forgiveness a quality of Christian ethos? Didn’t Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine high school pose with a caption that stated, “Stay alive, stay different, stay crazy”? Didn’t they target Christians? Weren’t they accused of being “Nazis”? Wasn’t one of them Jewish? Wasn’t one of them an honor student? If these fellows were staying “crazy” and staying “different,” and thinking on their own, were they perhaps manifesting a counter-cultural ideal? 

What else in this culture were the Columbine killers attacking? Aren’t “jocks,” whom they killed, generally considered common “good guys” by our culture? Don’t jocks represent pro-cultural values? Do those who hold values that counter the culture see jocks as boorish, vapid, brute, conceited and condescending, who willfully insult and violate those who refuse to gang with the masses? 

 Were Harris and Klebold reacting to the media itself? Did they give their own lives and take others to make a point about the media at large? Can it be true that the media-at-large is so neurotic that it is unable to truthfully describe the Columbine event? Is it true that a videotape they produced just before the killings is now being withheld so the public can not determine their own thoughts about Harris’ and Klebold’s statements? 

In Civilization and Its Discontents, did Sigmund Freud define a neurotic as an individual holding thoughts that clash with those held by the prevailing culture, an individual who subverts those clashing thoughts to the subconscious that later manifest in the form of anxiety and unnecessary behavior? If this is so, what does one consider a culture whose prevailing ideas express hypocrisy, sham and double-standard? Does this somehow define a neurotic culture? 

 Does Steven Spielberg hold the same values I wish upon myself? Does the mind of this grinning, bespectacled, baseball-capped man entirely reflect this culture? 

 Is it true that in his waning years, Orson Welles asked Steven Spielberg for a small amount of money with which he could make a final film? Is it true Steven Spielberg refused? Is it true that Steven Spielberg bought a sled used in Citizen Kane for an extremely large sum of money? 

 Do Steven Spielberg’s passions burn? Do passions burn in the man now imprisoned who wished to anally rape Steven Spielberg? Do our cultural mouthpieces confidently inform us that the wish to anally rape Steven Spielberg is a bad thought? Could anal rape of Steven Spielberg be simply the manifestation of a cultural mandate? 

 Do you believe Steven Spielberg is an ideal guide and influence for our culture? Do Steven Spielberg’s films question our culture? What do Steven Spielberg’s films question? Does Steven Spielberg focus much of his fantasy life on young people? Did he portray children wallowing in sewers filled with fecal matter in Schindler’s List? Did he use children to finger paint an adult in Hook? Does he collect the illustrations of Norman Rockwell, such as the one showing a young boy in his underwear examined by a doctor? Are the inclinations of Steven Spielberg above suspicion by the media-fed culture? Was Steven Spielberg very friendly with Michael Jackson? Wasn’t Michael Jackson supposed to play Peter Pan in Steven Spielberg’s version of the story? Now that Michael Jackson is no longer held in favor by the mass media, does Spielberg associate with him? Do Michael Jackson and Steven Spielberg share similar opinions about the sexuality of young boys?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Awww Yeah vol. 78

Camille Paglia on Movies, #MeToo and Modern Sexuality: "Endless, Bitter Rancor Lies Ahead"

she just accidentally named the next Revenge album (Endless. Bitter. Rancor.)

The performing arts may be inherently susceptible to sexual tensions and trespasses. During the months of preparation for stage or movie productions, day and night blur, as individuals must melt into an ensemble, a foster family that will disperse as quickly as it cohered. Like athletes, performers are body-focused, keyed to fine-tuning of muscle reflexes and sensory awareness. But unlike athletes, performers must explore and channel emotions of explosive intensity. To impose rigid sex codes devised for the genteel bourgeois office on the dynamic performing arts will inevitably limit rapport, spontaneity, improvisation and perhaps creativity itself.

Similarly, ethical values and guidelines that should structure the social realm of business and politics do not automatically transfer to art, which occupies the contemplative realm shared by philosophy and religion. Great art has often been made by bad people. So what? Expecting the artist to be a good person was a sentimental canard of Victorian moralism, rejected by the “art for art’s sake” movement led by Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde. Indeed, as I demonstrated in my first book, Sexual Personae, the impulse or compulsion toward art making is often grounded in ruthless aggression and combat — which is partly why there have been so few great women artists.

Women’s discontent and confusion are being worsened by the postmodernist rhetoric of academe, which asserts that gender is a social construct and that biological sex differences don’t exist or don’t matter. Speaking from my lifelong transgender perspective, I find such claims absurd. That most men and women on the planet experience and process sexuality differently, in both mind and body, is blatantly obvious to any sensible person.

The modern sexual revolution began in the Jazz Age of the 1920s, when African-American dance liberated the body and when scandalous Hollywood movies glorified illicit romance. For all its idealistic good intentions, today’s #MeToo movement, with its indiscriminate catalog of victims, is taking us back to the Victorian archetypes of early silent film, where mustache-twirling villains tied damsels in distress to railroad tracks.

The witty, stylish, emancipated women of 1930s and ’40s movies liked and admired men and did not denigrate them. Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Lena Horne, Rosalind Russell and Ingrid Bergman had it all together onscreen in ways that make today’s sermonizing women stars seem taut and strident. In the 1950s and ’60s, austere European art films attained a stunning sexual sophistication via magnetic stars like Jeanne Moreau, Delphine Seyrig and Catherine Deneuve.
The movies have always shown how elemental passions boil beneath the thin veneer of civilization. By their power of intimate close-up, movies reveal the subtleties of facial expression and the ambiguities of mood and motivation that inform the alluring rituals of sexual attraction.
But movies are receding. Many young people, locked to their miniaturized cellphones, no longer value patient scrutiny of a colossal projected image. Furthermore, as texting has become the default discourse for an entire generation, the ability to read real-life facial expressions and body language is alarmingly atrophying. 
Endless sexual miscommunication and bitter rancor lie ahead. But thanks to the miracle of technology, most of the great movies of Hollywood history are now easily accessible — a collective epic of complex emotion that once magnificently captured the magic and mystique of sex.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Negation Aspiration vol. 95

There can be no doubt that, in pop culture at least, the mass shooter has replaced the serial killer as the object of public fascination. From the 1970s through the '90s, men like Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz and Jeffrey Dahmer — who killed multiple people over long periods of time, for psychotic and often sexual reasons — became outright celebrities and terrified people far beyond the plausible level of threat they posed. After the Columbine shooting of 1999, however, the serial killer began to be eclipsed by the mass shooter as a figure of fear and fixation. So much so that many observers wonder whether the public obsession with mass shooters is contributing to the problem, because troubled men may glom onto the idea that shooting up a school or a concert or a church is a quick road to getting fame and attention.
But has the mass shooter replaced the serial killer in terms of actual crime statistics? Are the kind of people who used to kill one person at a time, over a period of months or years, now choosing to grab a gun and go out in what they perceive to be a blaze of murderous glory? Are methods of mass murder subject to trends, in the same way that clothing and musical styles are?

Swapping one evil for another: Have mass shooters replaced serial killers?

Mass shootings are up, while the classic serial killer has almost disappeared. Have we swapped one for the other?