Thursday, July 08, 2010

The BBC's Marxism

"If Karl Marx came back today, he'd probably still be a philosopher, but would he also be a film critic and a psychoanalyst?" Unbelievably, the visuals show Marx transforming into Zizek, affirming the reincarnation. "Zizek," the BBC's Paul Mason informs the audience as his face emerges from the portrait of Marx, "is probably the world's most influential Marxist." He's risible, an X-Files fanatic, but harmless; the weapons he recommends to his acolytes for their struggle to topple the existing global order are "psychoanalysis and a season ticket to your local cineplex." In an interview that follows, the BBC's audience gets to hear more of what the world's most influential Marxist has to say. His fascinating insights include a remarkably original philosophical claim that communism was "worse than fascism" because communists pretend to be nice and are really evil whereas fascists wear Pure Evil t-shirts with information on calories, sodium, etc.. by imperial and metric measures to identify themselves.

At Marxism 2010, Zizek explains how industrial strikes in China are being incited by the communist party and that while of course he "thinks [BP is] disgusting" and isn't on their payroll (whoooohoooooo!!!!), still it would be "completely ridiculous" and "easy" "personalising" "stupid anti-capitalism" to "make them pay" or "screw them" - the US treasury and US public alone should pick up the check for the damage. That would be, he explains, "a communist response".

You know those people who criticize the twin brothers, these two versions of State Socialism, the Western welfare state and Stalinism they usually do it from a dream of councils, soviets, immediate democracy and so on and so on. I claim that that one also has to be abandoned. This was the big dream which died ... I claim this is an illusion.

There is inexplicable guffawing, applause and hooting over his every idiotic word, however mundane or foolish. Perhaps the most puzzling round of applause he earned was for declaring there was no working class in Congo. The gathered communist conference participants sound rather like the prompted audience in Studio 8H than anything else.

The Zizz, Badiou, the reassertion of the obsolete genre of academic philosophy over the social sciences and this disquieting, bogus neo-Universalist discourse about "the idea of communism" seems to have something to do with the long transition of the world system from capitalism to the next thing and the effort to steer it away from democracy and socialism toward a notion of communism as the direct despotism of the current ruling class and its elites similar to Plato's Republic.


  1. I still remember reading Wallerstein's Utopistics in a college and thinking how prophetic it was. It's short, I wouldn't pay for it, but it's definitely recommended. Some interesting points about China's likely role in global politics over the next half century.

  2. Yes, I am totally persuaded of his case about the way capitalism as a world system is ending. what I think really is enlightening is putting together his picture with Jonathan Beller's explanation of the cinematic mode of production, which describes very convincingly what the abstraction that is value/media has become and how it works. This latter analysis and the reality it diagnoses is so new it can kind of come and go in your head, solidify in clarity and then get murky - for me anyway. It requires a genuine willingness to look "fresh" at reality with as little encrustation of assumptions as possible. But I think once you get it, it's just an emancipation from the very core of capitalist ideology - once you get how value is stored and exploitation is happening now. It's not a break from the capital Marx analysed but a development, but I notice that people who don't really understand Marx' value theory and analysis of capital can't get it, because what Beller has discovered is the profundity of the truth of Marx' actual value theory and not of the distorted mechanics that people prefer because it ultimately can fit with their crude idealism. there is also with professional academics the problem that the disciplines are either obsolete or designed to prevent a grasp of the historical reality of exploitation and class rule. The most damaging wall is probably between media studies and history. Foucault's influence has also been catastrophic and more lingering than others of that generation. But the fragmentation of all this thinking into disciplines is a problem because if, as Beller does, you can put together the chief observations of sociologists like Bourdieu and C Wright Mills about the reproduction of managing/ruling classes, the chief observations of feminists of autonomism and related (Federici, Dalla Costa, James, Mies), and of communists paying attention to race and crimalisation as labour management and the "prison industrial complex" like Davis and Wacquant, with the key discoveries of the geekiest and often right wing media studies folks (MacLuhan, Ong, Kittler, Luhmann) and Marxists working on the big global picture like Wallerstein and Amin, historians of the society in the current core like Thompson and Linebaugh, people studying ideology like Said and Spivak and hooks and Ahmad and Butler, marxists psychologists of "mind in world", some people putting some of this together like Donald Lowe, and guys working specifically on economics like Gowan, Hudson, and to a point Harvey, then it all starts to become clear.

  3. But this stuff is really scattered socially, it's consumers are scattered socially, some in the academy, some out, when in sort of arranged in non-communicating islands, and all kept from engaging in much dialogue with those outside by various means not limited to the styles of language dictated by academic culture but other pressures (because labour historians, for a clear example, have always spoken and written nice plain language, but the academy is one way of controlling them to a point.)

    Postmodernist feminists - like Wendy Brown - got established in universities they kept every self-identified feminist who was not a Nietzschean and a postmodern out. and waged a war on women's studies, the home of the actual political feminism, in the name of their neoliberal neoNietzschean dogmas. Women's Studies - an interdisciplinary programme that could and did allow some level of this needed synthesis recommended by Wallerstein for intellectual production to have political usefulness (of course while in the employ of the evil levantines and ayrabs Hatherley has exposed, but his "dubious" sponsors aside) - was the target of a furious attack, Brown leading it (at the very height of the unifying altermondialist movement's successes, notice) and denouncing women's studies as "incoherent because by definition it circsumscribes uncircumscribable "women" as an object of study, and it is conservative because it must finally resist all objections to such circumscription; hence the persistent theory wars, and race wars, and sex wars, notoriously ravaging women's studies." (Politics Out Of History)

    This is what she's writing during the battle of Seattle. Sophistry, verbalism, and of course that supremacist universalism hiding there behind the mask of its extreme opposite. Naturally it was a moment where the reactionary psuedo-radicals would rediscover the usefulness of sending young leftists on an endless quest for discursive purity. To come back when their language was like mathematics and they floated above earth and history like angels.

    After a while one notices this gesture's endless usefulness to the ruling class - always sending insubordinate groups on grail quests. Oh but how can we speak of feminism when nobody even knows what it is? How can we speak of women's struggles when we can't even define "women" to the standards of pure essence fantasised often by downwardly mobile male aristocrats with brain cancer and irresistible urges to rape and torture housemaids? Go and come back with a purified "concept" our "genuinely thinking" Authorities can accept and then....

  4. "incoherent because by definition it circsumscribes uncircumscribable "women" as an object of study, and it is conservative because it must finally resist all objections to such circumscription; hence the persistent theory wars, and race wars, and sex wars, notoriously ravaging women's studies." (Politics Out Of History)

    This it has to be stressed by a professor of "Political Science". Political. Science.

  5. what I think really is enlightening is putting together his picture with Jonathan Beller's explanation of the cinematic mode of production, which describes very convincingly what the abstraction that is value/media has become and how it works. This latter analysis and the reality it diagnoses is so new it can kind of come and go in your head, solidify in clarity and then get murky - for me anyway.

    But you can solidify this for a moment if you look at the footage of the adoring audience in the Newsnight piece and listen to the audience in the Marxism 2010 video laughing at the pauses where they assume a joke has been told: not just politics, but sociable living as such reduced to the provision of a laugh track. It is amazingly clear that the audience in the Marxism video isn't following a word he's saying: they are following invisible cuecards provided by themselves, or Zizz, or both.
    What's disturbing is not that Zizek is persuading these people of his vulgar right-wing ideology, because clearly that's not what is happening here. Those people are literally straining to hear what they want to hear. This is the new and genuinely disturbing thing about the Zizek phenomenon: the intense and exhausting cognitive labour expended on attempting to immediately edit Zizek's talk into something you've been told to expect from him, something you could find remotely palatable. Zizek doesn't convince or persuade his audience: he keeps them busy, and that is his function.

  6. 'the intense and exhausting cognitive labour expended on attempting to immediately edit Zizek's talk into something you've been told to expect from him, something you could find remotely palatable. Zizek doesn't convince or persuade his audience: he keeps them busy, and that is his function.'

    I abhor having to admit it, but that's exactly right. It's because it once was not so convoluted and there was less reason that underneath the audience really feels betrayed. So what? Philip Glass betrays too. because this 'labour' was not the case in the early days. That's why the Zizek Show is running out, you even see signs of it in odd places, like Jodi's posts, or in the frightful fact that OOO got all popular and boring all of a sudden, and people weren't talking about Zizek all that much.

    otoh, it is probably that the game is very satisfying to some, and they like it that all pretense at seriousness is gone. He thinks they're all idiots, and he's right within that realm.

    Not accurate to say 'that's his function', I'm not going to go into that area where you and Arpege dwell alone darkly from time to time, it's his BUSINESS to do it--for himself, as long as he's got the show going, and when 'talkies' come in, he can be like Norma and Constance Talmadge and say 'Oh well, big fuckin' deal, we got da money. Ask anybody....' That's where he thrives, but he's not really propagating Goldman Sachs in that big a way, as it were.

  7. That's where he thrives, but he's not really propagating Goldman Sachs in that big a way, as it were.
    I know it's not like that, but that bit Chabert quoted about BP was genuimely weird wasn't it? He was "talking his book" at Marxism 2010! but it's the applause and laugh-track that is interesting, not what he says.

  8. Yes, it's like that thing traxus linked a few weeks back about Abramovic, how she'd 'made it in the real world' somehow, having been a kind of simulation, and accidentally getting protoplasm or something. With Zizek, laugh-tracks have 'made it' as 'the new real laughter'. It's hideous, because it's the half-smart who are doing it, and they really don't have to do anything beyond realizing that it's hardly as bad as almost any lover's rejection they might ever have had. But maybe that's just me, if I were forsaken by Badiou, I'd be a lot less upset than when my old boyfriend in the 70s went through 'not putting out' periods (someone informed me, to my great relief, that W------ was a 'professional virgin', so before going back to sex, which he adored as much as I did but felt much more guilty about, he had to go through these silly periods of 'renunciation', and even would say things like the words 'fuck' and 'shit' were 'ugly things', that they 'hurt him' and that in our attempt to live 'the simple life', even 'live off the land' would be great, you know, 'grow our own vegetables', sex was a luxury 'we really just can't afford', somewhat like using soap instead of shave cream... Oh well, he was gorgeous, so I put up with it, but finally we split. As usual, I am half-wit in terms of seeing these things, but I WAS 17 years younger and didn't know that much about the games lovers play. He also told me that Julie Andrews had 'refined sex', and even at that age, that was not so convincing. That was also when Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal were...*having an affair*...and I said 'are they fucking?' and he had to go sleep on the sofa in the living room, because he couldn't stand to be in the same bed with me after I said something so crude and low-class. what a hoot. On the other hand, I sort of doubt Deleuze would worry about such words outside formal settings. Now Zizek will use them in formal settings, and his whole clodhopper audience will scream with delight. He is truly such a depressing entertainer, really on the level of Glen Campbell. But at least when W------ put out, it wasn't like Zizek, who, as the old B'way gals used to say 'can't find it to fuck'.

  9. thanks kenoma

    i think there is some content influence: as the "lefty canadian" said in a thread a while ago at the Tomb...and why does Nina Power spout reactionary misogynist myths as if they were daring fresh left insights? Not just about the horrible slutty feminists, but her main case is the canard that feminist doctrine is work will make women free, that the integration of wage work weakened labour, caused "labour feminisation" and continues to cheer female cut-price competition driving down male wages (and presumeably black competition drives down white wages, and latino drives down anglo) - same as the bogus anti-immigrant case Zizek makes. And she asserts this feminism causes the "mancession" (msm propaganda turned "evidence") just the way Zizek does - the Economist article is proof of what "feminism" is, and the "analysis" is the old right wing clichés put forward as if incontestable, and then labelled "Marxism".

  10. and his model of just nonsense, of anything goes blabber,

  11. and the idea that "politics" is about tailoring the spectacle for the urban middle escalating the imperial was and killing more people is better than limiting them because this makes a more instructive history-movie for petty bourgeois audiences, and more interesting articles. Everything is about the psychology of "we white leftist" spectators, our courage to face truth or our use of our illusions, is all that matters. For example, the Obama admin has actually been worse than the Bush regime in Pakistan, but this is something to be dismissed in passing "yes, under Obama there's more drone killings and so on and so on," simply insignificant bodily matter, details. What counts is how the middle class audience reads this as spectacle, how it interprets Obama's figure, what kind of nifty paradoxes with lessons about our individual psychology can be discovered.

    This is infectious.

  12. " Now Zizek will use them in formal settings, and his whole clodhopper audience will scream with delight. He is truly such a depressing entertainer,"

    yes the hokiness; at firstit was i guess mining that Kundera thing as I mentioned on the old blog, but there are brand new 18 years olds every day, and the newest crops of them havea genuinely different way of thinking and interacting with entertainment products. We live in a different time than they do, a different epoch.

    Consider, Marylin Monroe say. After a brief period of corniness and repulsiveness (late 60s early 70s) she returned as "retro" image and a genuine representation of femininity and sex. But there's nothing, no photo or film, of her that does not suggest to the viewer, however much it is an artifact on its own, some idea of a human encounter, of a real woman and real physical contact. Passing through Madonna to lady Gaga not only do we see the ironising and exaggerations, the central figure, the woman, no longer suggests any real contact, any fastasy in reserve suggested by the consumption of the image. No one would wish to embrace Lady Gaga; the thought cannot really occur. She is simply to be consumed as image, not as a tease whose power derives from the fantasy possibility of sexual love. Thus the interaction is complete and consoling. Marylin Monroe stimulates an aspiration, but leaves the veiwer alive and in the world. Lady Gaga and similar just satisfy, immediately, like processed food. The provocation of desire and satisfaction of it are simultaneous.

    Zizzy too in his niche. The audience would have a certain relation to a lecture by Callinicos that would be open at both ends. But Zizz closes this. One is satisfied - one has had one's political experience. That was simply the consumption of the performance. There is no further interaction, in fantasy or reality, with Zizz and his "politics". It's not an exact analogy, of course, it's a related phenomenon.

  13. " it's his BUSINESS to do it-"

    yes it's his business. he does this for money. this is his act. But he is an entertainer relying on a whole system of distributors and promoters, includint the New York Times, the New Statesman, the New Republic, major European newspapers, now the BBC, various elite universities, and what is their business? Why him? There's this idea that he really has star power, it's a complete concoction of hype. His stupidity - the toilet analyses, the chocolate laxitives - make him fun for the kiddies (he shares this baby talk for the babies thing with Jessica Valenti) but anyone can be hyped and popularised with the resources that are marshalled to promote zizz; anyone could be a hot ticket and a uniquitous newstand figure if Hearst or Condé Nast wanted.

  14. another infectious quality of zizek is this slippage between this all-purpose idea f "an imaginary" or "ideology" and reality that allows for the affirmation of propagandistic (racist, sexist, eurosupremacist) mythology and topoi in the guise of "critiquing" it. Zizek's argument witrh Sara Ahmed is a good example

    he will say something objectionable supposedly about reality

    this statement of fact is contested

    he insists and simultaenously attacks Ahmed with an attempot at Islam baiting and "liberal" baiting; but his defenders insist there is no difference between his position and ahmed's...he is interpreted as describing "the imaginary" or "ideology" rather than reality. (He is not saying "multiculturalism is hegemonic" bit that in the imaginary it is. Or something.

    This all purpose "the racist imaginary" or evocation of ideology (without modifier or qualification of any sort, leavinbg it maximally malleable, able to implicate huge groups even when the description derives from hollywood or other ruling class product. It can be the "collective unconscious" in which all individuals participate to the point where it is their individual unconscious as well...

    this kind of nonsense, of magical thinking, is really becoming popular and legit so people can't tell the difference between riffing pundity making use of crude psychoanalytic metaphors and actual sociological analysis and historical description. Every statement that deploys the fashionable jargon is equally valid - but equally invalid, equally trivial.

    Check out this.

    "Fanaticism" is being used here like bomblets of nonsense or indeterminacy in the text, wormholes where "the imaginary" and the historical connect and fuse and flicker in and out of one another.

    Is he saying there is such a thing as fanaticism ? The word can be enutrally and accurately descriptive? Or not? (It's rude to ask!) And if both - if there are real fanatics, do they have a passion for the abstract or a mental illness in a certain form? (He supposedly establishes that "fanaticism and anti-fanaticism" collapse into each other simply because Nietzsche once called Kant a "moral fanatic" (Fanatik) while Kant himself deplored the superstitions of the "schwarmer" Swedenbourg.)

  15. anyway, just in this intro, its as if language is failing (as Beller describes)in favour of image, which implies a different kind of thinking altogether. Are there real fanatics, and politically convinced people demonised as fanatics, and people with no such convictions demonised as fanatics? Does any sentence in this text intend to be unambiguously evoking a referent for "fanaticism"? Or is it all written as mush deliberately? It's all confused, but whether deliberate or not the confusion has an effect, serves someone's purpose. While arguing that those who today used fanaticism pejoratively while claiming allegiance to Team Enlightenment (really seems to refer to a spate of msm articles in the wake of 911 that have waned in recent years) are making crazy and shamelessly ahistorical cases (evoking "fanaticism" as a transhistorical sort of other of transhistorical civilised reasonableness), the piece seems to be guilty of this ahistoricism even more extremely, collapsing team enlightenment's (hitchens, dawkins, cohen, hari etc) pejorative demonisation of their other with every even vague parallel to be found in the archives of "Western Civ" from the historian Josephus, through Luther, to Burke. History inconvenient to this ahistorical construction of the transhistorical anti-fanatic conservative/reactionary and visionary egalitarian with good guy bad guy affects (Mein Kampf most glaring) are ignored; the result is some trivial observation (conservatives often smear their enemies as fanatics. duh.)"supported" by heaps of anecdotes but more than this the establishment of some pseudo-heritage of a "radical egalitarian" and "universalist" "left" as the timeless revolt of the many, which is utter bullshit but self-serving. There is a lineage of petty bourgeois religious/political fanaticism and demagoguery that a historian could examine - if Toscano hadn't left out the Nazi episode in his story it would be pretty clear. But he's trying to create a bogus heroic history of petty bourgeois moralising reformers, Saint Paul on, all demonised as fanatics for their passion for abstract equality and "universalism", and kind of surreptitiously declare an existing clique now the heirs of this liberating worldspirit jacobinism/bolshevism (hypocritically ahistorically mashed up) which has in the course of all this evasion, misdirection pseudo-history ecclectic pundity picked up communists of all sorts as manifestations.

    this kind of pseudo-argument by pun, metaphor, insinuation, openly abdicating its responsibility to any standards of proof or legitimacy (rhetorical, historiographical, social scientific) claims to produce "insights". But it really is about evoking fantasies, larding figures with connotations and irrational affects, creating images which manipulate. It establishes it's "left" allegiance by simple declaration and relies on that entirely for a sympathetic reception - he has no obligation to make sense of any kind. It is finally an elaborate expression of the author's own personality, establishing himself as type and product.

  16. We think of women's mass entry into the workforce as a positive thing because we believe it allows women to have greater political and social power. This is absolutely true. Certainly we cannot go backwards as Judith said. We now know for example, Marx and Engels talk about this, that women don't have any natural domestic role to play, don't have a natural position, there's no natural role at all. Yet if the kind of work that women are doing is actually removing them from the possibility of having social and political power, which would be one of the long term ambitions of feminism in relation to work, i.e. by paying them incredibly badly for long hours, forcing them to rely on the exploitation of other often poor immigrant women to care for their children so they themselves can go out to work, by not allowing them to join unions and so on, then the emancipatory dream of feminism that sees work as the solution to the shackles of patriarchy is utterly incomplete, if that work is yet another form of oppression. We do not resolve or take apart the model of the patriarchal breadwinner by adding women to the roster, making both partners in the couple work for the same or less money than would have been the case decades ago with the single breadwinner. If there is indeed a so called mancession, that's a lovely word, a mancession taking place in the US at least, that is the idea that more men are being laid off then women, it is not simply because the kind of work that men and women tend to do have been disproportionately affected by the economic downturn - this is the argument, that for example building work slows massively as the housing market collapses and this disproportionaytely affects men because men are more likely to be builders and that sort of thing - it's also in part because employers know they can pay women less, particularly if they don't have pesky European things like maternity pay to worry about. As one writer in the Atlantic put it "could it be that the advantage men have enjoyed with pay differentials is coming back to haunt them now? Women have been making around 78 cents to every dollar men make holding experience and actual job constant. In a recession, where cost cutting is at a premium, it makes good economic sense for companies to cut the higher cost equal performing employee. So given the historic and ongoing pay differential between women and men, men are getting cut at higher rates." This is not emancipation for anyone! Clearly it is a race to the bottom in which everyone loses.

    This is Power at Marxism but could be zizz himself. The whole absurd pretence that something is being discovered to be not what it seems! The defamed enemy in this case not "liberal multiculturalism" or "political correctness" or "the Left" but "feminism". All the creepy white male supremacist populist buttons pushed. MSM punditry the authorities, their basic worldview is "marxism". "Mancession" panic and moralising and the exclusive subjectivity of the middleclasses - the last word is

    "I think what we really need to be looking at if we are to be Marxist feminists is really the question of women's labour in the global context and what it truly means for women to have entered into the workforce in such unprecedented numbers particulatly when the emergence of women anywhere near the top depends so heavily on the second hand internal exploitation of women at the bottom."

    So she has managed to establish the exploitation of women worldover to be the result rather than the cause of feminism. And this is why she has to snark at Sojourner Truth relayed by hooks rather than listening.

  17. Here's Zizz

    Another tendency of these "radicals" is moralization connected with legalization. It's a certain pose in which they want to deliver the message that they are really more radical. But this excess of radicality only concretely articulates itself in some kind of a general moralistic outrage -- "what are we doing to immigrants?!" I think they often tend to be a little bit hypocritical. I always read the liberal anti-communists, liberal leftists - they're interesting, one can learn from them. I read a wonderful essay by Orwell from 1938. There he has a wonderful analysis of the typical leftist liberal. He says they ask for a change, but they do it in a hypocritical way: they ask for a change but it's almost as if to make sure that no real change will happen.

    Don't you suspect a little bit that there's something of this in today's typical radical liberal - in today's anti-immigrant campaign for instance? The standard idea is to say, like my friend Alain Badiou in France, "those who are here are from here". That is to say, no check for roots, open to all of them. Legalize everything. The problem is that they know very well that this radical opening will never happen. So it's very easy to have a radical position which costs you nothing and for the price of nothing it gives you some kind of moral superiority. It also enables them to avoid the truly difficult questions. For example, my conflict with my radical leftist friends is when they want total openness and so on. I say to them, are you aware that anti-immigrant are mostly spontaneous, lower working-class attitudes? They talk as if some big imperialist power centre decides to be against immigrants. No! If anything, capital is more liberal about immigrants.

    You see Power's argument against "feminism" is simply Zizek's against left anti-racists and anti-fascists;

  18. in Zizz' screed there are radical pro-immigrantism and immigrants who threaten "indigenous" working class (white male) wages and are thus welcomed by and "complicit" with capital, which is "multicultural and tolerant"; in Power there is "feminism" and women labourers who are paid less because, Power explains, "they" ask for less who are complicit with capital which is "feminist". Both denounce their rivals as "moralising" and legalistic etc

  19. most queasy-making is the constant evocation of the salaried man as the "breadwinner" for women always contrasted to salaried woman as exploiter of women. men are caretakers and their salaries are appropriate to their characters; it is an unambiguously bad thing when they are laid off: no reminders of how their jobs were just exploitation anyway, certainly not emancipation. In contrast women with those same salaires, were are reminded, are menaces not only to rival men but to women and exploit other women "at the bottom".

    in reply, defenders will say well she doesn't explicitly say men don't exploit women at the bottom. of course they do! this is all obvious! yes, but no more obvious than that women "at the top" exploit women at the bottom. yet the whole lecture is the recitation of some obvious things and some falsehoods mashed together and offered as a "critique" of feminism as both stupid and evil.

  20. Lots of good stuff, Arpege, I could only skim for now, but will read later. Very good on Monroe and also for not skipping Madonna on the way to Lady Gaga. Remember mid80s Madonna? She was always trying to suggest Monroe very explicitly, and she never really resembled her at all. It just emphasized her belief in mediocrity. I think it was with Madonna that everything changed, just because she was so big and the biggest entertainers are maybe somebody you can't stand personally, but they're not usually mediocre. When you see singers like Kate Bush later, that proves that you can still have superlative gifts and be successful, but she's not nearly the name that Madonna is (I owe Anodyne for introducing me to Kate.)

    At a club the other day, I saw some newish videos of Madonna. She has not changed at all from the 80s and early 90s in most ways. She goes for a cheap look, but the impression is always that she wants to look like someone else: A couple of years ago she was working on 'American Socialite look', a la Dina Merrill, or something equally inaccessible to her. It's all of it a demand for the virtual instantaneous surface, without anything radiating from it, and she is definitely the pioneer. I was no Michael Jackson fan, but at the beginning he was actually THERE, but then he disappeared into a 'real-life simulation' with the insanity and the rest. But Madonna has never been insane or even slightly unbalanced, as far as I can tell, she is all shrewdness, and an ultimate artificer, but they said that about Bowie too, and yet Bowie is an artist. Madonna is not an artist, she just isn't.

    Does remind me of Zizek, I really wrote that he really ought to quit 'being himself' so much, that if at least he tried to 'be his fantasy person', he would at least be showing halfway-good taste (which Madonna always seems to be trying to do, you always get the feeling she knows she's not a beauty, and old Voice reviews of her 90s shows said she did indeed prefer to be with some of the B-look male dancers, so that she wasn't upstaged)

    I told Jack about this, and he reminded me of that old Oscar Wilde quip, I don't have the exact quote 'Isn't it rather vulgar to be oneself?' Certainly in Zizek's case, I wish he go ahead and just be something really unpredictable like Schopenhauer or something, although in that case, you unfortunately have to know something about music. Madonna was right to always try to be someone else, and it is very curious how without a core she always seems. Lady Gaga the same, but slightly less hard on the ears, although I never listen. Really am pleased about Kate Bush, though. That's natural beauty, as in 'Sensual World', and she embodies it, she doesn't have to reach for it.

  21. "We do not resolve or take apart the model of the patriarchal breadwinner by adding women to the roster, making both partners in the couple work for the same or less money than would have been the case decades ago with the single breadwinner."

    What in the...? What does this mean? What is she driving at? It's so completely bizarre, the way she's tried to ahistoricize and strip the word "breadwinner" of any gender association here, in order to further obscure her actual point (if she even has one- it looks doubtful, as the magic eightball might say).

    As a matter of fact, women entering the workforce *already have* chipped away at the patriarchal institution of men as breadwinners and women as unpaid domestic servants. This statement of Power's isn't even internally coherent, but even worse, it certainly isn't factually accurate, either. The mere fact that the vast majority of households with more than one adult resident are multiple-income households in the U.S./EU is proof that the patriarchal one-male-breadwinner-per-household model is soon to be a distant cultural memory.

    It just speaks to a horrible deficit in her understanding of exactly what women were fighting for, and fighting against, to say something so ridiculous. If it isn't a step forward for women to have options, so they are not, for example, economically dependent on and thus forced to stay with "single breadwinners" who rape, beat, and otherwise abuse them, then what would be a step forward for women? She keeps getting confused, here, thinking that feminists for some reason believe Arbeit Macht Frei, where "free" is meant in this completely abstract, universalist sense- not just free from the institution of forced marriage/sex slavery, but "free from all oppression, forever and ever, amen". No. No feminist thinks this. None ever implied it, that I can think of. Feminists think the first step toward social and economic parity for women, the first step necessary in dismantling patriarchy, is to guarantee women's freedom from economic dependence on men. It's really that simple. And it's clear that guiding the movement based on this strategy has actually worked- tremendous gains have been made in securing womens' economic independence from men.

    What is difficult about making that distinction? It's not even a subtle one. But it does seem quite difficult for her, and for quite a few Zizekian leftists, to parse. Agreement on and understanding of these sorts of utterly basic points should be the bare minimum for inclusion in any serious feminism... and yet we are to believe it's Valenti whose vagina has soaked up all of the left's vital life force, causing egalitarians everywhere to shrivel up and curse the day they were born.

  22. Instead of relyiing on this deep structural analysis we've been promised, instead of investigating the root causes of the "mancession" in neo-liberal economic policy and global gunslinging, Power literally blames the loss of mens' jobs during this recession on feminism and its flooding of the global marketplace with female breadwinners.

    See what feminism has done! This is not liberation for anyone, when *men* finally feel the financial squeeze of capitalism's noose around their necks for once. Well, I mean, it is liberating for many women, but let's ignore that for now and get on with implicating the invisible hand of feminism in the mancession!

  23. That article about fanaticism... Good lord. It's really beyond stupid. It's like an entire book based on the idea that having a completely out of proportion martyr complex is proof that you're right about things, generally, and that your politics must be on the right track.

    Who gives a damn if someone thinks you're a fanatic- do you have something interesting to say? Can you sustain some sort of wider interest in your political project? Does your analysis make sense? Do tell- don't tease us like this- what exactly are your fanatical beliefs?

    Reminds me of a lot of right wing fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. who form an incredibly successful lobby in Washington and exert enormous influence over U.S. politics who, with no trace of irony, talk about how "Christians are the most persecuted minority in the U.S." What's different about them, though, is that the fundies have actual political power and influence, and so deserve many of the accusations of "fanatic" that come their way. Academics? Not so much.

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  26. " No. No feminist thinks this. None ever implied it, that I can think of."

    right - that's why she introduces Sarah Palin and the Economist as her models of feminsim, with an initial giggle of course, but then the economist is established as in fact her exemplar of "feminism" and "the emancipatory feminism dream". Just like the Zizz does this.

    The whole thing is just preposterous. She says for example women don't gain "political and social power" from entry into social production and public life because "they" haven't attained exact parity with men, "they" aren't doing "man's work" but have seperate spheres of employment. (she has to say "they" not "we")Then five sentences later she says the mancession is due to the fact that women are in fact doing man's work and are direct competitors undercutting by price. The argument is insane misogyny, bogus, and of course implicitly white supremacist as well and anti-immigrant, as in her account it is the migrant women who make it possible for other american women to steal american men's rightful jobs.

    "Feminists think the first step toward social and economic parity for women, the first step necessary in dismantling patriarchy, is to guarantee women's freedom from economic dependence on men."

    even more amazing this is the orthodox Marxist stance as well - women joining social production, removed from the "parasitic" position of wives and sex workers - "housewifization" is Mies' word for the generalisation of the bourgeois nuclear family to productive classes, and it's A Little Colony for the white man. Housewifization - the reduction of labour to a free resource for capital - Mies correctly predicted, would be inflicted increasingly on men as well as the reaction advanced.

    historically the working class was not arranged like the bourgeois family, that's fairly recent

    needless to say major commodities in developing capitalism as a world system - cotton, sugar - always had more women in the workforce then men. but she is really writing about petty bourgeois, or white middle class, and "universalising" that experience, or the fantasy of it she is promoting.

    (Rosa Luxemburg herself explained in no unceratin terms the differernce here between the reationary bourgeois housewife and the radical proletarian woman!!)

    and she is as you note just slandering feminism - it's stupid of course because women's product and only bourgeois white men can genuinely think! - it's just unbelievably reactionary.

    she may be just very ignorant and not quick of intellect - I suspect this is so - her positions are so cookie cutter talk-radio reactionary, and all the seemingly disparate aspects and motifs (the slutty self indulgent women for whom a job is just a means to acquire vibrators and wine she doesn't need, she is the figure of who is competing with and undercutting the wages of "the breadwinner") cohering to the same anti-feminist position - she has to have gotten them from some source. But the reception of her book and speeches is another case of the creepy thing kenoma notices - just an audience hearing what they wish, not at all what she is saying absolutely plainly and repetitively but usually the opposite. Like Zizek she declares herself a Marxist Feminist and the fact that what she says is the crudest right wing rubbish cannot disturb the brand ID.

  27. there is no "mancession" as it turns out right? but she equivocates even in this ridiculous way, "if there is a mancession indeed, then..." - she's not sure there is one but she is sure what's causing it?

    it's an assault on young brains.

    like zizz "speaking as a Marxist" she evokes a "primary contradiction between productuon and reproduction - needing the workforce in the long term to reproduce but not wanting to pay for it in the short term"

    who? what? it's gibberish, it's absolute nonsense, worst of all it claims some link to marxism and "feminism" and marxist feminism has of course endlessly explored capitalism as a system of the exploitation of labour in reproduction - the reproduction of the species and the whole social reality. this fake "marxist" blabber about "contradiction"...pure inanity, no content at all. and this kind of absolute nonsense is found in very few places in contemporary text. But one of them is Zizek.

    the Toscano piece my god, its like a parody of sophistry. and as you note, it's core is an almost psychotic inability to recognise the existence and importance of content and not just form. He finds it paradoxical that people the content of whose beliefs differ could call eaother fanatics, as if this signals some mysterious paradoxical quality of "fanaticism" like the existence of bright yellow and bright blue would make a fascinating mystery out of brightness. people do this with text all the time now, its a means of keeping academic publication going with minimal research time (which technology has reduced a lot but still a serious historical work takes years) but it's so absurd now it's like the insane mimicry of the surface of DeManian method - here Marx speaks of "French linen" and there of "the French revolution"! How does linen becomes Revolution...?His concept of "French" is developing in a mysterious way that requires rereading....Suddenly the image-bombarded brains are puzzled that adjectives and other modifiers can be affixed to different nouns. I actually saw a conversation like this about the word "social" in Capital at the Tomb last year or the year before.

    But the curious thing about the Toscano is its "theme" such as it is seems to be chosen to justify its method, the flouting of obligations to rationality and sense and socially agreed and recognised standards of judgements. His topic and his method corhere in a sense - he seems to think that his own display of passion or fixation, his declaraton of visionary zeal is enough to grant a certain legitimacy to what is a lot of casuistical bullshit, but arranged so people can get what they want out of it. (Lenin reads it as denying the existence of fanaticism, someone else as celebrating it...) It's fine of course to write a book on this topic that is neither history nor sociology. freewheeling essays are wonderful from Montaigne to David Sedaris. The problem is he then insists that his fancies and musings have the weight of conclusions produced by more serious undertakings like historiography or sociology. His writing is simply propagandistic, and if it were to leave it at that, well, it could be dumb and still honest and unobjectionable. What makes it objectionable is the ludicrous claim of advancing knowledge on a subject that has been treated with such selectivity regarding evidence and such unbridled propagandistic slanting. So it too exhibits the most absurd incoherence, hypocrisy and contradiction, right out in the open, without any seeming concern. Another long exercise in projection - this extremely ahistorical analysis complains of the ahistoricism of others, and the entire text is dependent on the fungal growth of verbiage made possible by the equivocation regarding the referent of the "idea" the "uses" of which the text purports to examine (though doesn't seem to acknowledge it's adding to).

  28. It just speaks to a horrible deficit in her understanding of exactly what women were fighting for

    Deficit in understanding, yes perhaps, but more probably outright opposition. She is an outright advocate of male supremacy and "natural" female subordination in the oldest styles. Notice how Power writes of feminism/the economist/television/capitalism/women's evil attitude toward our breasts -

    The jokey male hypothetical question to lesbians ('don't you spend all day playing with your breasts?') has literally come true. They are 'assets' in the physical and economic senses simultaneously and as much use as possible is to be extracted from them - their role in breastfeeding is perversely secondary to their primary function as secondary sexual characteristics.

    God gave you those missy for feeding your husband's babies not your own pleasure. But the most astonishing thing is this objectification of breasts as idependent baby-bottles comes in the middle of a screed about the objectification of "breasts" as independent, in which she complains that for evil feminist women "They the breasts and not their 'owner' are the centre of attenion";but then she really seems to think and certainly openly insists that "breasts", not women, breastfeed. It is so confused, hypocrticial and contradictory - and nasty - one must suppose the harrangiue is pieced together from the "genuine thinking" of different boyfriends and grampas.

  29. Power's authority in this passage for the deplorable custom of women playing with their breasts all day, as the lads always knew we were, is A. A. Gill, celebrated for his "snobby Brit" racist shtick also posing, like Power, as daringly politically incorrect. The typical representative of evilly feminist masturbator constantly fiddling with her shamefully "milkless objects of bemused scopophilia" is a celebrity Abi Titmuss:

    AA Gill writing of Abby [sic] Titmuss puts it thus: '[she]speaks of her breasts inability to remain covered as if it were a medical condition she had to live with with as much good humour and stoicism as she could muster. The outbreaks of exhibitionist sexuality were like eczema attacks: disgusting, unsightly, but not her fault.'

    As you can see this exhibit of the depraved condition to which the New Feminist Woman has been reduced, which you may recognise as a figure well known from the last thirty years of stand up comedy, proves that actual women, of whom Abi Titmuss the television titty displayer and Nina Power the endlessly selfpromoting CV are typical, have "no subjective dimension left to be colonised."

  30. Absolutely true about the 'blather and nonsense', but that's a good sign, isn't it? He hadn't resorted to this overt form as recently as 3 or 4 years ago. Now, he thinks it's 'adorable' to do it. But being a Zizek detractor is somewhat enjoyable, because it never involves envy? Who would want to BE Zizek? There's not a thing graceful about him, that's the main thing. He's just full of shit, and it's gotten so bad it's of no importance whether he knows it or not (how could you know it and do that much of it, though?). Really a stunning phenomenon that he could have become so admired. You know what he is like? Flem Snopes in Faulkner's trilogy. Yeah, white trash con artist making it big in the small town, even ruining his own family when possible. I have a cousin married to a Snopes type in Alabama. He made lots of money, is an asshole, made paedophile-overtone remarks to me in Sunday School (he was 'the teacher') when I was in high school, and his two sisters became poor alcoholics. I really don't want to know what's happened to Zizek's extended Slovene family, as there's little I can do to relieve their celebrity poverty.

  31. Patrick said:

    I didn't know that there was a cliche about women playing with their tits all day. It's embarassing when one hasn't ever heard of a stereotype.

    Just realized last night that Zizek's 'provocative championing of the victimization of BP' is as predictable as possible (he now has to go further than just hiding in plain sight; does that mean some new techno dimensions have to be invented? I would think Theah is No altuh-native, yes.), but does finally bring a new adjectival practice to detractors of Zizek, of which I don't seem to have much difficulty in being one of. This is 'The Oily'. Zizek, having now discovered his unique perception of BP, can enjoy the 'beauty' of the oil spill just like some garden variety New Ager who thinks that everything has a purpose in the 'universe's plan'. Well, yes, so drop dead already if that's all you're walking around for. He knows that not even the msm newpapers are talking about how they want to 'learn to stop worrying and love BP', so he's got to keep up that occasional op-ed cameo, I guess, which even if you hate NYTimes, nobody writes shit like Zizek, although the paper is definitely in state of decay, with garbage Opinionator 'compositions' like High School Creative Writing Courses on 'Manhattan, the Small Town', and the 'sweet ecstasy of insomnia' upon belonging to the great city. Just so odious, and the bleugs now censor almost anything that isn't totally inane. I mentioned elsewhere a thoroughly unresearched article on Mark Twain, on the occasion of his autobio being finally published, or will be soon. Still a good paper in some ways, but even the arts reviews are pretty lame compared to the old days (if it's a film adaptation of a novel, the reviewer doesn't usually read the novel; whatever her faults--and they were manifold--Pauline Kael was usually familiar with the originals of an adapted work.)

  32. I don't know how to delete my own comments, but as I just wrote you, I really don't know what was so offensive about any of it. Men and women all look at each other, and they do so sexually. I already said I had no reason to believe Ms. Power actually did what the neocon said she did, but what would it matter if she did?

    'Genuine thinking?' What does that refer to. So you get pissed easily, that's all I can read from this. What's the difference in what gay habits are, what sex-symbol fans' habits are, and talk about vibrators and the rest. But big deal, maybe it's good you've learned to police your bleug.

  33. sorry had to take that away, don't want to give these smarmbeasties a platform! but we know now where she gets the impression that interpersonal relations among peers of different sexes have not improved since 1800.

  34. " I had no reason to believe Ms. Power actually did what the neocon said she did, but what would it matter if she did?"

    it wouldn't but i know nothing of her personally, suppose his claims to you were in confidence, and would rather stick to what she has willingly and deliberately made public - her persona and her book - and not permit gossip about her personally.

  35. God gave you those missy for feeding your husband's babies not your own pleasure.

    Isn't that sort of thing along the same lines. Or did you think I was just saying too many overtly sexual things to be appropriate on your bleug? If that's the case, say so, and I'll limit that kind of thing to places that don't object so strongly. If you won't be explicit, then there's no great loss if I don't write here, and I don't care to if I don't even know what the rules are.

  36. because i have no doubt also these people talk the most extravagant shit - and the guys are obviously also frightfully misogynist. That she plays to this and sells to it and helps them promote their backlash politics and discourse doesn't mean she should be a victim of it - this is my objection to the nature of her assaults on Sarah Palin, who is very hard for any woman not to call nasty names but one mustn't it. I think there's a facebook group where "likers" confess to gender treachery because of Palin. It's tempting. But just as there's always someone one would want to see in the electric chair, one must resist.

  37. "Isn't that sort of thing along the same lines"

    i was snarking at her book, which she has willingly made public.

  38. suppose his claims to you were in confidence

    No, they weren't, they were on a bleug. I still don't know what is 'not plausible', because I know men and women check each other out, and that that is perfectly normal. Now if your main concern is that I wrote her name down, and (almost) his, but not all of it, then that's different, although neither of them would care, I'm sure of that. But you probably just don't want to talk about that kind of thing with proper names. If you don't want to talk about the matters themselves (girls cruising men, which they DO, just like we cruise THEM, and EACH OTHER), then that's another matter, because it would mean you just want the issues to be slanted a certain way. I hope that's not the case, because it's not just antagonism between men and women, it's lust just as through the ages too.

  39. no it's not about the raunch, but the privacy thing.

  40. "No, they weren't, they were on a bleug."

    oh, sorry, my mistake.

    what a goon! but it explains a lot.

  41. That she plays to this and sells to it and helps them promote their backlash politics and discourse doesn't mean she should be a victim of it -

    Interesting, but I totally disagree, although I'll abide by your bleug rules. I also think Sarah Palin ought to be treated just as she treats other people--like (can't write it...censored...)

    ARPEGE! your goddam Electric Chair Analogy is just because, as Shirley Maclaine as Debbie Reynolds told Meryl Streep as Carrie Fisher in 'Postcards from the Edge' about drinking (bad Zinfandel, it turns out), YOU CAN'T SMOKE CIGARETTES IN MODERATION! Sorry...xxxPatrick

  42. Okay, dear, I understand. well, I'm glad I wrote it, so you saw it, but it's fine that nobody else does. I still think protecting Sarah Palin is NUTS! She and Zizek should BOTH be sent to some kind of CHAIR!

  43. okay well maybe you are right in the sense that palin personally deserves to be slowly butchered. but you cannot abuse her publicly as a woman for being a woman without hurting all women. that's why it shouldn't be done.

    about these bleuggers, I don't really want to know their soap opera.

    and yes not being able to smoke in moderation accounts for much

  44. one of the things i really differ from these people on is their moralising purity politics: the problem with Power's harrangue is not that Adi Tittyflasher and Sarah Palin and Thatcher are all really admirable and personally deserving of respect.

  45. and the problem with the anti-hijab law and hysteria is not that modest dress customs are really just simply expressions of proper female humility, privacy and self-respect, and the problem with imperialism is not that the victim populations are all infallibly angelic beings living in a peaceable utopia, and the problem with Auschwitz is not that nobody gassed or enslaved there ever kicked a dog or left garbage on the neighbor's stoop, et cetera.

  46. You are good when you get going. Sorry I said that about the ciggies, that was truly vicious. Must run out now, catch you later.

    Have to admit it's hilarious Meryl is going to play Thatcher. As I wrote on the ballet board, 'what next? Mary Kay LaTourneaux?' Now THAT is an interesting case, though, but so exceptional that most oughtn't look at it. He liked HER too, and jail sentences didn't get in their way. Incredible that they just knew they loved each other from the vantage point of illegal age groups!

    Love the 'once kicked a dog' for political purity. Ms. Power on a bleug before I met you once got very upset when I applied severe mouse execution tactics, when they dug up 13th street for FIVE YEARS. She'll be most unhappy to know it worked.

  47. "They are 'assets' in the physical and economic senses simultaneously and as much use as possible is to be extracted from them - their role in breastfeeding is perversely secondary to their primary function as secondary sexual characteristics."

    One minute this (highly and transparently objectionable bit of handwringing moralism), the next minute a paean to Shulie Firestone and the notion that childbirth is an abomination that, when liberation finally comes, shall not be visited upon any woman under any circumstances.

    I just honestly can't make sense of it. I want to, and I can't. I've tried. It seems like so many received bits of wisdom patched together but not synthesized very well. I've known freshman in woman's studies programs who could blow this show out of the water. Seriously...

  48. Ah, but you know, something just clicked. It makes a little more sense to me, now, that this segment of the left is anti-sex work... It must be that they can't conceive of how work, any kind of work, can be productive and politically important for a person. Important to a woman's sense of autonomy and independence. Important to forming a sense of identity that links her up to groups and political movements. And, of course, important to basic survival.

    I always figured it was a class thing- that they've never been in a position to have to consider taking what's flatly assumed to be "degrading" (women's) work, so they really can't possibly know what they'd do in a similar situation. But this isn't it, or at least, it's not the whole story. The real issue is that they can't conceive of work in the properly Marxian sense. They have a sort of knee-jerk, work is The Man mentality that, frankly, isn't doing the movement any favors. They can't imagine that sex workers might one day make up a leg of revolutionary laborers. I suppose I can; it's happened in many countries already.

  49. Sorry to be dropping in and out like this, the conversation has moved on I know, but -
    yes the content of Zizek is effective propaganda, especially with the Yugo stuff where he could pose as some sort of native informant and exploit the shocking ignorance of his audience to push the most ridiculous lies. And with Christianity and Islam and China and other matters he is an effective caricaturist, managing to reintroduce into circulation the most reactionary and strategically useful stereotypes, and mananging to do so in an appeallingly casual facetious pomo manner comparable to the creators of Family Guy and South Park.

    But I really think he is not generally persuasive in the conventional sense, he doesn't even seek to persuade most of the time, and I think this is some new variation on the familiar propaganda model. His audience at Marxism was not I would guess convinced by the BP stuff, or by his previous rubbish about "beautiful soul" antiwar protesting or his analysis of 300 etc. They probably would have found much of what he had to say objectionable, but were willing to screen it all out for the "optimism of the will" payoff of Courage and Communism. (He did at least "have the courage" to make reading Lenin acceptable again: this is the kind of stuff you hear; in fact I remember Seymour saying on Henwood's show that his blog's title was inspired by Zizek's reclaiming of the Leninist legacy or some such rubbish).

    It's the screening-out process that is interesting: proper consideration of an attention economy needs to account for the huge amount of work that goes into inattention. Paying attention to something naturally involves filtering-out and ignoring a lot of other stuff, and maybe this is where a lot of the work in an attention economy takes place. Maybe it's the process of disengaging from things we that we ought logically be more concerned about that really requires the most intensive labour.

    Zizek never really demands that his audience take his arguments seriously. In fact he doesn't really make arguments in any sustained way: it's all scattergun opinion. His gift is caricature: more specifically, he can create the impression that you have heard it all before from the "beauiful soul" antiwar left or politically correct anti-molestation feminists etc. He's good at creating the idea that progressive ideas are "Blah blah blah ...": that's his propaganda function as I see it. The production of inattention and a cynical carelessness.

  50. And I stayed out of the Nina Power conversation because I hadn't read the book. But A.A. Gill? She quoted him? About a woman? Fuck's sake. There really is a stench off that lot: hey, don't tell us what we can or cannot say, we just lost a whole fucking empire.

  51. "The production of inattention and a cynical carelessness."

    Yes, you really do have the words to nail him. It's a sense that sloppy amorphousness is something you must get comfortable with because, hey, you're NOT going to get a big sinecure like Zizek himself has, nevermind that even up in that rarefied stratosphere he's STILL a fucking SLOB!

    I imagine you hated Los Angeles, so at least we can continue to disagree on many things. It's a great city.

  52. I imagine you hated Los Angeles, so at least we can continue to disagree on many things. It's a great city.
    No sorry, I hate to disappoint: I actually love the place, and like you I get very defensive about it when people complain, though I suppose I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who didn't have a good friend living there (my wife grew up in Silver Lake, before it was hip). It's the quietest city on earth, quite a melancholy and disappointed place, though maybe that's because I've spent a lot of time im the suburbs (San Fernando and San Pedro).
    But the 110 to Pasadena is the most beautiful drive you'll ever take, and the natives are very hospitable, though the bullshitters are unavoidable.

  53. "It's the quietest city on earth, quite a melancholy and disappointed place,"

    Nice way of putting it, but it's so varied that it's also not always melancholy or 'disappointed', a curious term. I wonder what you mean by that. I once read that it was in some ways the 'horizontal version of New York', and that's how I see it and why I love it. There's more of the 'high culture' in New York, but the quality of what's there is quite comparable (I've seen marvelous opera at Domingo's place, a Bob Wilson 'Parsifal' and TeKanawa in 'Vanessa', which was her last operatic performance.) I'd have to live there to know what their serious theater scene is, although I've seen good things at Mark Taper and good National Tours of the B'way things, for 1/3 the price. Although I want to see 'In the Heights' HERE-it's the first NY show in probably 30 years, lord the scene is so pitiful. Great jazz, great vistas, gorgeous scenery, scary people and funny people. The bullshitters are part of it, but Los Angeles wouldn't have the total stamp of uniqueness on it without the 'Industry', and Hollywood can be marvelous, and I'd have nothing against living in BHills if I had the dough.

    It's the variety that's so incredible, with an enormous Koreatown, for example, the largest population of Koreans outside Korea. I caught Trancas above Malibu in 2005 with 15-foot waves, that was something I wanted to see. It's got mystery in a special way and feels like you can be almost too creative, that you could easily be carried away with it--and you can, it's hard to concentrate, since the hedonistic atmosphere is so seductive, and there really is a heavy drug, esp. meth, culture, that is very prevalent. Silverlake is very pretty, although I've seen only a little of it in bus rides to Chinatown and DT.

    San Fernando Valley I've spent almost no time in, yes, that could be why you thought disapointed. But I have spent a long afternoon in San Pedro, that's interesting and desolate too--but it was especially so after a long ride through Palos Verdes and all that ravishing lushness, and all of a sudden I'm sitting on a bench trying to get to Pt. Fermin, and a few blocks down is a real place called 'The Hotel California'. I was trying to get to all the places in 'Chinatown' on that trip, had already seen Lake Hollywood, the reservoir (that's where Nicholson gets his nose slashed by Polanski--this is hard to find, but it's glorious, and has an amazing view of the whole LA Basin), and then Alameida St. in Chinatown itself (I always go to the CBS restaurant there), but I never made it to Pt. Fermin. It was freezing (yes, once in awhile in Dec. it really does get cold) and the bus drivers won't stop. For some reason, I never do give up my 'public transportation New Yorker identity', and the 'freeway driving experience', so quintessentially LA, is something I never want to do as long as I'm an outsider. Obviously if you live there, there's no choice but a car. But I think San Pedro may also be in 'Chinatown', trying to remember.

  54. I think what is so wonderful about Los Angeles is that it is always strange. If you don't understand the insane chaotic layout of all of it, you can't 'get it', it will 'get you', and it is very easy to get into every imaginable kind of real danger and trouble in no time. I would agree about 'melancholy' for the most part, but that's part of why it's so surprisingly strange and exotic, but people don't often pick this up, because the vastness is hard to 'keep in your mind as a map', all these seemingly unrelated 'worlds', and so they still see it as a series of suburban type communities, which it is only superficially, and don't see it as the world city it really is--like London and New York. There was a John Gregory Dunne essay in which he described it as 'the most inaccessible of cities', and I think he's right. Dirk Bogarde and Joan Didion both have referred to it as 'Oriental', but since it also seems so 'American', people don't prepare for the fact that it won't reveal its secrets to you at all without your own effort--and this is borne out marvelously by the fact that it's the only big city I've ever been to that you hardly ever see any tourists (you would at Universal Studio tours, of course, but I mean just in the streets and in the different towns and communities.) I think of it as my second home.

  55. Zizek never really demands that his audience take his arguments seriously. In fact he doesn't really make arguments in any sustained way: it's all scattergun opinion. His gift is caricature: more specifically, he can create the impression that you have heard it all before from the "beauiful soul" antiwar left or politically correct anti-molestation feminists etc.

    Thanks yeah, exactly. But while the topics exhibit this incoherence,the posture is always consistently reactionary, consistently attacking insubordinate people but in this flexible way, hopping around from topic to topic and from interpretation to interpretation. This is the tactic his disciples take up too - those married gays with their adopted babies and solar panels, and whores flashing tit into our jobs...The formal model is shock jock - Howard Stern.

  56. I miss LA a bit now; I never liked it because I was always caught up in some work or legal nightmare there, and I never felt settled or at home. But I had this balcony and at night, the weather, no mosquitos, and the quiet, these are really good memories, sitting out there with wine and talking quietly. I lived on Burton Way, at Robertson, and my office was just up on Sunset, steep hill, ended up driving, four minutes, every day. I was horribly homesick for NY; but it would be nice to be there, on the water somewhere, now. I have relatives in Santa Monica and Laguna, and friends up in the hills, I should go. Now that I don't smoke I can stand the long flight, maybe.

  57. ". But this isn't it, or at least, it's not the whole story. "

    yes, not a class thing of that sort, but there is this petty bourgeois reverence for clerking, it's elevating to read Kant, and mind is Male and matter is female, etc.. And yes, you're right about this kind of purity obsession - all work is tainted, the actual work is tained by the exploitation of the worker, and this goes with the puritanical anti-"consumerism", as is everything is sinful. Or everything everyone else likes is sinful and "complicit" and this is why they have to feel their own favourite stuff is somehow subversive or revolutionary.

    I suppose if you show the proper permission from authority you can advance a different view but it can't sink in; "As Gramsci Explained," GRAMSCI is he good enough? too marxist, too "ethnic" - people really do tend to find some way to have a libinal investment in what they are doing every day, no matter how repetitive and mindnumbing...And in the cosmopolis in the "new economies" and the old service economy a lot of us have the good fortune to do things that are easier to derive satisfaction from than running a machine to do a single thing, a screw, over and over. Satisfaction from work and from consuming - human pleasures, human satisfactions - are the target of petty bourgeois reformers who imagine everything from a fantasised God's eye view and insist that the human species has to be changed drastically before we can have, before we have earned and deserved, any less violent, unjust and odious a set of arrangements of property and power.

  58. anyway, the point, to sum up, is that in Power, as in Zizz, how this "universalism" is just the flimsy self-branding of white male supremacism is really blatant.

    she says look women are selfish egoists, they seek their own debased and depraved satisfactions and interests in disregard of how it harms "impersonal egalitarian emancipatory projects"

    but soon the "impersonal" "universal" subject of this emancipation is revealed as men's interests and men's employment. Power explains how these women whom she has displayed vividly as selfish and abominably corrupt morally threaten men's jobs and the "breadwinner" status and capacity - thus women are the splitters, damaging the "universal" men. She works hard to sell us this old canard as daring radicality. She herself pronounces as if looking down from a cloud at all humanity - "we don't dethrone the patriarch by adding women..." as if women have nothing to say about this, a Universal Goodness is to arrange all, and women simply pursuing our own interest and contesting our own exploitation and oppression (and defending selves against male violence) is itself depraved and unseemly - but her point of view is indeed clearly the patriarch's, or she would see as anodyne notes the obsolescence already. And this idea that men are "breadwinners" whose employment is merely a necessity and right and whose income is always shared (he labours for "the couple") and benevolent, so that when they seek their own interests they seek the commonweal, is contrasted to women's purported and denounced particularism, women seeking their interests are inimical to one another and to men. It's classic white male supremacism and indeed, with her model of "breadwinner", bourgeois ideology.

    As one screed among many it's trivial and would not be worth replying to, but unfortunately the attempt by left organisations to contain in it and under it some recent critiques of bourgeois liberal feminism (Eisenstein, for example, who writes of the catastrophic failure of the US liberal women's movement to prevent Clinton"s "welfare reform" because of racism and the significant influence on this movement of bourgeois class interests, and Nancy Fraser who is interested in the cooptation of feminist discourse by imperialism) geared toward the unification and radicalisation of anti-capitalist feminism is obviously happening, and to a point one can see this is going to be some kind of mechanism for the accomodation of white male fury and concession to it without wholesale concession to fascism and xenophobia; male immigrants and brown men will be defended, and the idea of liberalism against fascism, but at the cost of sacrificing female immigrants and brown women, who will be scapegoated as women, with other women, for the recession itself - their shallow vain insatiability caused the debt bubbles - and for the implementation of the shock doctrine at this opportnity. The "joke alternative" Idea of Communism conference schedule turns out to be the template of the politics that this "Left" will pursue regarding women, but in a way that will allow it to distinguish itself from the outright right-wing racists by disguising the race-antagonism in gender and allowing alliances with _the most reactionary_, petty bourgeois groups among ethnic minorities.

  59. and it's important to expose how propagandistic the use of the term "feminization" can be as a substititue for "housewifization" and "precaritization" etc, because using the protean and ambiguous term "feminization of labour" one can suggest to ignorant youth this is what "feminism" favours, whereas it is obvious to all that "housewifization" is what feminism arises to oppose.

  60. Nancy Fraser is an interesting one to bring up here. She gets it right where Zizek gets in wrong, in many respects, but especially, I think, in her two-pronged "redistribute AND recognize" model of social-economic transformation. At Lenin's Tomb there was a post up recently about the comments made by a politician about gays seeking refuge in the U.K.- and the way this had been reported in tabloids. Lenin's suggestion in the post was that turning all papers into public utilities would take care of this problem. I wasn't so sure, although I agreed that this should happen, because I didn't think doing so would preclude wider cultural homophobia. Without something like what Fraser calls a campaign of careful 'recognition' of disenfranchised others (in Justice Interruptus), turning tabloids into public utilities is going to do very little to curb homophobia and anti-gay discrimination, even if censors are successful in keeping some of it from getting splashed all over the front pages.

    But this is an unfashionable point to make, I take it...

  61. Burton Way! Why, Arpege! You lived in the poor part of Beverly Hills! What cheek!

    Actually, all of Rodeo is in the 'poor part' too, I've walked up that hill from Santa Monica Blvd. to Sunset several times--I don't hate Rodeo nearly as much as I did in 2002, and thoroughly enjoyed my visit to their Cartier this Xmas. What's really good is in one block over Canon Drive, La Scala Restaurant, oh that is the best Xmas place you can go--and I thought they'd be so snooty about dress, I was the best-dressed there and the only one with a tie! I'd been to Antoine's in New Orleans, which is a far greater restaurant in world terms (and history-owned by the same family since 1840), but I didn't worry about a dress code there, BH is very difficult about clothes, but they were the best waitstaff I've ever seen at La Scala, famous for Chopped Salad, and some white wine so creamy I could scream 'cos I can't remember what it was, and I even asked them all about it.

    Canon becomes Benedict Canyon Drive above Sunset in the 'rich part of Beverly Hills' and that is gorgeous, with the oldest of the old Hollywood mansions, at the top is the huge Harold Lloyd Mansion, big as a hotel, but I don't think it's privately owned now. Pia Zadora had Pickfair torn down in the 80s, that's got to be one of the dumbest things you could do, and what she'll be most remembered for. If you do get out there, the new Getty (not the even newer-redone old Getty at Malibu) is divine in Bel Air. I've been twice and it is so spacious, with great art and spectacular views, including the San Gabriels and Mt. Baldy, as well as all of BH and Bel Air, Century City and Santa Monica/Venice and Malibu. The first time it was perfectly clear, you could see Catalina and all those other 'Santa Something' islands near it. I've been to Catalina, too, in 2001, I forgot, that's in 'Chinatown' too, you see the Casino behind John Huston, doing his amazing job of bristling with corruption--really that was an amazing performance, but that film is pretty unsurpassed in my experience.

  62. oh nooooooh, it's the beachballs on a stick under water pusher .... run averij body ruuuuuuunnnnnn

  63. thanks anodyne, yes I like the clarity of that Redistribution, Recognition, Representation; and her accounts of academic feminism and how she exposes certain irreconcileable antagonisms in theory to be concocted - though she doesn't come out and say what she hints (class, profession) and often takes refuge in this allegorical Hegelian fantastic language to avoid having to acknowledge that liberal feminism expresses thre actual enlightened class interests of its leading proponents - its hostility to and incompatibility with radical woc feminism and its allegiance to the ruling class and empire is not an error, so there are definite limits to a unified feminist agenda. Both Fraser and Eisenstein are very acute critics of a certain University-MSM culture industry based feminism, but they in a sense become its benefactors at least insofar as they exaggerate its dominance. Even Heidi Hartmann and the kind of beltway women's advocacy orgs are more concerned with women in poverty, with how drastically women's standard of living falls on divorce or widowhood, then they are with the glass ceiling. There's not much common ground between most feminists and women activists and either of the Brown Brigades - Tina's or Wendy's, joined by a neolib individualism in varying degrees and types of disguises. Fraser shows there's more in common between the extremes of the theory produced in the academy under the dominance of the "postmodern" - that's true. But she falls back into that academic fallacy of supposing this is just all about disagreements among intellectuals, about failures of insight or whatever, and not about concrete conflict arising in the current arrangements of property and power.

    yes, the poor part of beverly hills. in fact I was not even in beverly hills but actually a few yards over the border, technically, though La Cienega there was the more visible divider. There were nice not too swank or fabulous restos I could walk to then in that area - both il giardino and a fusion place called mabé were on 3rd within a short walk in opposite directions, and there was an italian place that was great and never fashionable called il cielo, on burton way, that i really loved. i think they are all gone now.

  64. oh no look

    still there.

    looks kitchy on this site but it's lovely, wonderful garden, the risotto took the time risotto really takes and was delicious,

  65. What a coincidence about Il Cielo, I had planned to go there dozens of times, loved their menu and site when I was looking at it a few years ago, but decided it looked like you'd only want to go there with someone, not alone. I always wanted to be in that garden, though. My one close friend out there always comes to NYC at Xmas. actually, I'd thought it was fairly fashionable, at least at one point. There is also, on a simpler level, that place near MacArthur Park close to DT that the New Yorker wrote up which is supposed to have the 'best pastrami sandwich in the world', and it was pretty amazing. And below Wilshire but further east and down Normandie around 8th Street, where it's all very Latin American (every kind), there's the Guelaguetze, I think it's spelled, which has the best Chocolate Mole Chicken I ever had for $15, and these wonderful Mexican soft drinks.

    I agree with kenoma about Pasadena, which I never got to until 2007, but you can't see the 'old money palaces' there the way you can on the West Side. There's an incredible old hotel called the that I think is now condos, but it has that same kind of wonderful character as the Ansonia.

    You're NOT going to believe this. In 2005, yes that far back, I went by train through the Antelope Valley to Lancaster and then just turned around and went back--to see where LUSTMOLCH was living! Isn't that ridiculous? I didn't dare get off the train, but the trip through was full of dark shadows and somewhat like there would be terrible atomic laboratories behind each rock. I got back on Xmas Eve, and Lustmolch (whom I've never even called on the telephone), sent me an email 'Merry Xmas, pmull'. Now that's GOT to be a first. A LUSTMOLCH-WATCHER! I believe he then moved to n. CA., but haven't 'spotted' him on bleugs for maybe 3 years now.

    Have never been to Laguna, though, and hope to, there's a train the Circle Link or something, that goes there. Supposed to be a charmer of a place, although I think I can do without their 'living tableaux' shows.

    THIS is must-see for anybody who wants to see one of the most unique places in the world

    I've been twice, once it was fenced, so I went again in 2003. Really just amazing that this one guy picked up all this debris and single-handedly built this fanciful construction over several decades. I think the Watts Center has jazz festivals, there's all sorts of jazz there, the House of Blues Gospel Brunch in West Hollywood is also very good. You get to Watts on the Blue Line subway, which is pretty rough, though, definitely interdit at night.

  66. I just noticed I said "woman's studies" instead of "women's studies" somewhere up there, which of my many typos is in most desperate need of correction.