Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani

Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachtani? (My God My God Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?) posits a future world in which a suicide plague can only be controlled through noise rock. Noise rock, as the name suggests, is an acquired taste. More than that, though — it's a taste that's difficult to describe or defend to people who don't have the ear for it. To most people, artists who fall into the noise-rock category (i.e. Merzbow) are merely crafting ear-blistering feedback, white noise that annoys. The appeal in such an extreme form of music, in my eyes, lies in its cathartic element. There's little that can make you feel better about your bad mood like the sound of someone bashing the hell out of his guitar strings, screaming his guts out or using atypical instruments to make sounds that shouldn't exist in this dimension. Director Shinji Aoyama (Eureka) understands this quality, and for his latest film he's gone ahead and literalized the idea.
The "white noise" of Virtu (Part 1 / Part 2)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Secular Fears

“We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world – a world that borders on our doors.

“If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Disassociating Sensibilities

Eliot’s famous phrase, “dissociation of sensibility”, in this essay was to explain the change that came over English poetry after Donne and Andrew Marvell. Dissociation of sensibility is the division of thoughts and feelings, which according to Eliot is done by Dryden and other poets of the age. They are responsible for the dissociation. There is a loss of union of thought and feeling whereas in metaphysical poetry, according to pointing out of “Eliot and the Traditions of Criticism”, there is no separation of thought and feeling. Chapman’s work is a recreation of thought into feeling while a thought to Donne was an experience, which modified his sensibility. Metaphysical poets were trying to objectify their emotions according to Eliot’s principle of objective correlative.
- Read more: http://bookstove.com/poetry/the-metaphysical-poets-by-t-s-eliot-2/#ixzz2zdkSjGAF

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fifty Year Full Circles

Maggie's Farm
The lyrics of the song follow a straightforward blues structure, with the opening line of each verse ("I ain't gonna work...") sung twice, then reiterated at the end of the verse. The third to fifth lines of each verse elaborate on and explain the sentiment expressed in the verse's opening/closing lines.

"Maggie's Farm" is frequently interpreted as Dylan's declaration of independence from the protest folk movement.[1] Punning on Silas McGee's Farm, where he had performed "Only a Pawn in Their Game" at a civil rights protest in 1963 (featured in the film Dont Look Back), Maggie's Farm recasts Dylan as the pawn and the folk music scene as the oppressor. The middle stanzas ridicule various types in the folk scene, the promoter who tries to control your art (fining you when you slam the door), the paranoid militant (whose window is bricked over), and the condescending activist who is more uptight than she claims ("She's 68 but she says she's 54"). The first and last stanzas detail how Dylan feels strait-jacketed by the expectations of the folk scene ("It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor" and "they say sing while you slave"), needing room to express his "head full of ideas," and complains that, even though he tries his best to be just like he is, "everybody wants you to be just like them".

The song, essentially a protest song against protest folk, represents Dylan's transition from a folk singer who sought authenticity in traditional song-forms and activist politics to an innovative stylist whose self-exploration made him a cultural muse for a generation. (See "Like a Rolling Stone" and influence on The Beatles, etc.)

On the other hand, this biographical context provides only one of many lenses through which to interpret the text. While some may see "Maggie's Farm" as a repudiation of the protest-song tradition associated with folk music, it can also (ironically) be seen as itself a deeply political protest song. We are told, for example, that the "National Guard" stands around the farm door, and that Maggie's mother talks of "Man and God and Law." The "farm" that Dylan sings of can in this case easily represent racism, state oppression and capitalist exploitation.

In fact this theme of capitalist exploitation came to be seen by some as the major theme of the song. In this interpretation, Maggie's Farm is the military industrial complex, and Dylan is singing for the youth of his time, urging them to reject society.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Exploring the Limits of Colour

...figure is that which always follows colour.
- Plato, "Meno"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Interpassive Sleeping

I know very well that I am still asleep, but still . . .
Looking through the prism of Lacan and Marx, then, Zizek brands us as "fetishists in practice, not in theory"; he posits that we "do not know" or we "misrecognize" the fact that in our "social reality itself, in [our] social activity "in the act of commodity exchange" [we] are guided by the fetishistic illusion". Amidst this discussion on ideology, Zizek highlights one of the most significant differences between Marx and Lacan:
In the predominant Marxist perspective the ideological gaze is a partial gaze overlooking the totality of social relations, whereas in the Lacanian perspective ideology rather designates a totality set on effacing the traces of its own impossibility.
This difference corresponds to the one that distinguishes the Marxian from the Freudian notion of fetishism: In the former, "a fetish conceals the positive network of social relations," whereas in the latter "a fetish conceals the lack ('castration') around which the symbolic network is articulated".
The fetish is effectively a kind of symptom in reverse. That is to say, the symptom is the exception which disturbs the surface of the false appearance, the point at which the repressed Other Scene erupts, while the fetish is the embodiment of the Lie which enables us to sustain the unbearable truth. Let us take the case of the death of a beloved person. In the case of a symptom, I “repress” this death and try not to think about it, but the repressed trauma returns in the symptom. In the case of a fetish, on the contrary, I “rationally” fully accept this death, and yet I cling to the fetish, to some feature that embodies for me the disavowal of this death. In this sense, a fetish can play a very constructive role in allowing us to cope with the harsh reality. Fetishists are not dreamers lost in their private worlds. They are thorough “realists” capable of accepting the way things effectively are, given that they have their fetish to which they can cling in order to cancel the full impact of reality. In Nevil Shute’s melodramatic World War II novel Requiem for a WREN, the heroine survives her lover’s death without any visible traumas. She goes on with her life and is even able to talk rationally about her lover’s death because she still has the dog that was the lover’s favored pet. When, some time after, the dog is accidentally run over by a truck, she collapses and her entire world disintegrates…

So, when we are bombarded by claims that in our post-ideological cynical era nobody believes in the proclaimed ideals, when we encounter a person who claims he is cured of any beliefs and accepts social reality the way it really is, one should always counter such claims with the question “OK, but where is the fetish that enables you to (pretend to) accept reality ‘the way it is’?” “Western Buddhism” is such a fetish. It enables you to fully participate in the frantic pace of the capitalist game while sustaining the perception that you are not really in it; that you are well aware of how worthless this spectacle is; and that what really matters to you is the peace of the inner Self to which you know you can always with-draw. In a further specification, one should note that the fetish can function in two opposite ways: either its role remains unconscious—as in the case of Shute’s heroine who was unaware of the fetish-role of the dog—or you think that the fetish is that which really matters, as in the case of a Western Buddhist unaware that the “truth” of his existence is in fact the social involvement which he tends to dismiss as a mere game.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Sleeper Must Awaken

Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!
I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:
Fibres of love from man to man thro Albions pleasant land.
In all the dark Atlantic vale down from the hills of Surrey
A black water accumulates, return Albion! return!
Thy brethren call thee, and thy fathers, and thy sons,
Thy nurses and thy mothers, thy sisters and thy daughters
Weep at thy souls disease, and the Divine Vision is darkend:
Thy Emanation that was wont to play before thy face,
Beaming forth with her daughters into the Divine bosom
Where hast thou hidden thy Emanation lovely Jerusalem
From the vision and fruition of the Holy-one?
I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend;
Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me:
Lo! we are One; forgiving all Evil; Not seeking recompense!
Ye are my members O ye sleepers of Beulah, land of shades!
- William Blake

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On Reading Porn and Drinking Lemonade...

The Hegelian reading of Antigone as a play dealing with “the emergence of an articulated society as such” thus demonstrates the radically anti-corporatist nature Hegel’s social thought: the underlying premise of this thought is that every social articulation is by definition always “inorganic,” antagonistic. And the lesson of this insight is that, whenever we read a description of how an original unity becomes corrupted and splits, we should remember that we are dealing with a retroactive ideological fantasy which obfuscates the fact that such an original unity never existed, that it is a retroactive projection generated by the process of splitting.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Less than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism"

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Glimpses of 'Other' Sides

So true is it, what I then said, that the Fraction of Life can be increased in value not so much by increasing your Numerator as by lessening your Denominator. Nay unless my Algebra deceive me, Unity itself divided by Zero will give Infinity. Make thy claim of wages a zero, then; thou hast the world under thy feet. Well did the wisest of our time write: "It is only with Renunciation (Entsagen) that Life, properly speaking, can be said to begin."
Thomas Carlyle,"Works 1:152-53"

Friday, April 4, 2014

Monster Mash

For many a tear-stained battle
Upon these plains are fought
With many a plea and many a prayer
Prayed for this foe named 'thought'
- Janet Martin, "Invisible Battle-field"