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Member since: Sat Nov 29, 2008, 02:55 PM
Number of posts: 17,671

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I'm not much into poetry but here's a couple

by Robert Francis

His art is eccentricity, his aim
How not to hit the mark he seems to aim at,

His passion how to avoid the obvious,
His technique how to vary the avoidance.

The others throw to be comprehended. He
Throws to be a moment misunderstood.

Yet not too much. Not errant, arrant, wild,
But every seeming aberration willed.

Not to, yet still, still to communicate
Making the batter understand too late.


D. H. Lawrence
A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.

In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before

He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of
the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,
i o And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,

Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second comer, waiting.

He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.
The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.

And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?

Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to feel so honoured?
I felt so honoured.

And yet those voices:
If you were not afraid, you would kill him!

And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.

He drank enough
And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken,
And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black,
Seeming to lick his lips,
And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
And slowly turned his head,
And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream,
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face.

And as he put his head into that dreadful hole,
And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther,
A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole,
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned.

I looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.

I think it did not hit him,
But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste.
Writhed like lightning, and was gone
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front,
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.

And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.

And I thought of the albatross
And I wished he would come back, my snake.

For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life.
And I have something to expiate:
A pettiness.

Liberals are all about cultural change.

Some change is slow, some change is rapid. Generally speaking, the more liberal you are, the more cultural change you want. There is a reason the word "revolution" appears so often in left leaning discourse.

It's my understanding that revolutionary movements have a fairly predictable life cycle. As success is achieved through change, there is always a group of revolutionaries who are more radical than the rest. Thus, there is a certain amount of tension between those revolutionaries that have achieved a measure of their revolutionary goals and those who feel that more change is in order. So now, the actual "winners" in the revolution become "conservatives" and thus enemies of the "true revolutionaries". Depending on the power dynamics there could be purges by the the radicals against the conservatives within the revolution, or the radicals could just become a contentious fringe.

So why doesn't this process of change through ideological purification continue until a utopia arrives? I think one way is that the more "radical" the radicals become the more they focus on ideology and doctrine than on how it will actually work in the real world. It becomes a litmus test to judge others instead of a plan for change. Whether the most radical of the radicals are actually able to enforce this adherence to their understanding of doctrine depends on how much real world power they have.

So now, consider the history of HoF here at DU. There was contention, a power struggle, an attempted coup, ideological splintering, demands that rivals be purged, and constant drum beating demands that others adhere to an ideological ideal.

You don't need a god to have a religion. And you don't need a holy book to have a sacred text. It all depends on the passion and objectives of the true believers. Is this a bad thing? Not really. There's nothing wrong with devotion to an ideal. Philosophers and shamans have devoted their lives to such things for millenia, and since politics is the religion of the enlightenment, that impulse continues right along with it.

Okay, I went back and looked at this thing.

The title of the piece is called Casting Off My Womb, which employs a play on words using a term for knitting meaning to tie off the piece so that it doesn't unravel. The title of the piece combined with the medium used to perform it (the artist and yarn) and the phrase "vagina knitting" sets up a play on words related to the role of women in society that views them as disposable goods or little more than baby factories, traditional attitudes regarding menstruation as repugnant, the female womb as the source of life, and the societal contradictions associated with the vagina and by extension women in general.

The confrontational nature of the piece is achieved by the shock value of the nude exposure of the artist and the storage of the yarn in her vagina prior to the production of the work. As the yarn is knitted into a long scarf like garment, it is suspended on coat hangers and stained with menstrual blood.

Metaphors relating to female sexuality, reproduction, abortion, the male gaze, and female control of their reproductive process work in conflict and resonate with the surrounding culture to create tension in the content of the piece. So the knitting phrase "casting (tying) off" resonates with "tying tubes" to prevent pregnancy and of course the concept of tying or binding is associated with bondage and repression. And the phrase "casting off" can also be applied to the concept of women as disposable due to infertility or aging. The "product" of the artist's vagina is suspended on coat hangers, an implement which has considerable symbolic associations with "back alley" abortions and the political and cultural repression of female control of their own reproductive process. Also, knitting is associated with the traditional knitting of baby booties by pregnant women, now suspended by coat hangers.

The result of the piece is the display of a bloody offering suspended by implements of repression of women by men. The method of execution is designed to both titillate and repulse the viewer through the nudity of the artist and the garment she creates. While the overall balance of metaphors and the tension they create in their relationship with each other is carefully crafted and the sublimation of the artist as the artwork itself validates the piece as a well crafted bit of performance art, it suffers a bit from a somewhat too obvious awareness of the market for which it is intended, evidenced by the tone of the commentary in the link provided and the somwwhat deravitive nature from the previous work of Carolee Schneeman. Also, while the overlapping metaphors work well, perhaps they work too well and become an exercise in riffing on hot button issues and metaphors without digging any deeper than their obvious connotations and contradictions. Overall, a successful piece but hardly groundbreaking.

That's my initial impression, but I'm tired now and I'm going to bed.

Well, I'll just have to work with what I've got then.

Every group of people from a single family to an entire country has an embarrassing lunatic fringe. From the obnoxious unreasonable uncle at Thanksgiving to fringe political groups causing havoc in an entire nation, they're an embarrassment to the rest of the group of reasonable people who have a more intelligent and nuanced grip on reality.

So for example the Republican party has the Tea Party and to the right of them gun toting militias running around in the woods playing soldier. Those preening right wing nuts would embarrass Il Duce. And lets not forget the religious fundamentalists and their peculiar obsession with medieval science and morality. The political left no doubt has its share of bombastic nuts as well, but probably not enough of them. Since the collapse of communism the ranks of our lunatic fringe have been seriously eroded.

A fellow smarter than me once said that an unexamined life is not worth living. I would add that an unexamined ideology is not worth having.

These members of the lunatic fringe all seem to have something in common; an unwavering devotion to ideology as an object in itself. It becomes a fundamentalist religion, a precious thing that has to be defended at all costs, right or wrong. I expect there are many reason for this unquestioning embrace; fear, pride, arrogance, greed, ignorance, or any combination of all of them. There are times when unwavering devotion to ideology is essential, as in war for example. Extreme times call for extreme devotion.

And we are at war. A culture war. It's an ersatz conflict manufactured out of the most selfish motivations of its combatants. It's a wag the dog Las Vegas feathers and brass production for the emotional gratification of people who view culture as a product to be acquired and hoarded.

I asked you to engage in something any rational person should be willing to do. I asked you to engage in a bit of ideological self examination. And you couldn't do it.

Finally! An intelligent OP on the subject. Thank you.

I expect the last thing we would want is a Progressive Theory of Everything as attractive as that may sound. Such a theory would be codified into an authoritative holy writ against which others would be measured and, more importantly, would be punitively defended because of the emotional and financial investments of those who control it. Banesbane has pointed out the inequities of capital distribution in financial systems but has overlooked the the dangers of iniquitous intellectual capital distribution.

Only a fool would argue that feminism hasn't been a benefit to society and that many of the objectives of feminists carry with them considerable moral authority. But there are inherent dangers in the transformation of any ideology into a holy writ to be defended rather than a tool for cultural development. When ideology becomes an object, it becomes a product and when that happens it can be coopted by capitalist interests. Everybody wants to be told what they want to hear, and there will always be somebody out there willing to do that for a price.

Now, here's the money quote: Pornography is art. It is a fictional representation of human activity. So when freedom loving, fearless novelty seeking, big tent inclusive, personal expression accepting liberals run into rape porn we are forced to put our money where our mouth is. The intellectual and emotional discomfort and conflict ain't pretty, but it's real. That puts people like me in the unenviable position of defending something they find disgusting. I don't like rape porn. But then again, I'm not interested in seeing a bullwhip stuck up some dude's ass either. And I'll go you one better than that. I'll even defend Thomas Kincaid's shit as art. And that one really hurts.


Why don't you summarize them and explain them. Can you do that?

The use of media is a collaborative effort between the artist and the viewer, or in this day and age between the producer and the consumer. They are, as with any other interaction between human beings, a relationship. All media alters our brains because interaction with everything in our environment alters our brains. Television alters our brains just as cave paintings altered our brains fifteen thousand years ago.

The "problem" with certain types of media consumption is not the media but the consumption. Or rather, over consumption. People have been exploring new and interesting ways to insert tab A into slot B since the advent of sex, and they will continue to do so. There is nothing that will halt, or even slow, human innovation in the field of fucking.

Have you read 1984? The dystopian society that Orwell describes is only possible through forced complete immersion in state propaganda. Hence the torture. The problem with seabeyond's OP is that she is proposing to "cure" people's perversions through forced immersion in the media that she feels is so destructive. Not only is it an oxymoron, it is a punitive solution that flies in the face not only of healthy cultural development but liberal ideology as well. The real question is how she came to those conclusions.

The relationship between Fox News and the people who consume it is purely commercial. They are telling people what they want to hear. It's a sort of highly focused banal wish fulfillment just like any other bad art no different from a Thomas Kincaid painting or a trashy romance novel. For such a commercial enterprise over consumption, or addiction, is profitable and total immersion is just another term for market domination.

Of course around here Fox News is always a ready example of all that is evil in the world but there are liberal ideology producers with the same business model - produce heroin content for market domination of peoples confirmation bias. Through it's role in the tremendous social advances in this country, feminism is an important part of liberal politics and liberal ideology. Such success has not gone unnoticed by those who would make a lucrative living telling people what they want to hear and over consumption of liberal ideology is just as pernicious as it's opposite number.

So many of the culture war issues that seem important are little more than the source of a lucrative revenue stream for people who make a living turning ideology into an addictive drug. There is no functional difference between the cheap wish fulfillment peddled by televised talking heads, hyperbolic polemicists, romance novelists or pornographers. It's all pornography one way or another.

Young earth creationism and Orwell's 1984.

I revisited 1984 the other day (hey, Audible deal of the day for three bucks) and was reminded of this:

(O’Brien) ‘We are the priests of power,’ he said. ‘God is power.’

(Winston) 'But the world is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny – helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited.’

(O’Brien) ‘Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness.’

(Winston) ‘But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals – mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever heard of.’

(O’Brien) 'Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth – century biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he should come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing.'

When ideology of any kind becomes more important than humanity, horrible injustice is the result.

I'm from the south.

I spent most of my life there. When I was young my politics were as deep red fundamentalist Christian conservative as any you’ve ever seen. But then I reached, as Bill Maher says, the age of reason. I decided that the cultural attitudes and political ideology of my youth were wrong. It wasn’t easy. There wasn’t anybody around to support my decision. In fact, there was active resistance. It alienated friends and family. It affected every job I got thereafter. But I persisted, because I knew it was the right thing to do.

It was the right thing to do because I saw how people in the south got treated and how southerners treated each other. I saw workers of every race screwed over by corporations, lied to by religion and traumatized by education. At the same time I saw poor and middle class southerners of every race, creed, and sexual orientation quietly working together in peace to try and have a better life while getting screwed over at every turn.

After graduate school in the north I finally moved away from the south to an unabashedly liberal community and I have seen the same bigotry that gets blamed on the south every day. It comes from people who have had their liberalism handed to them on a silver platter. They have enjoyed the privilege of marinating in an ideology they didn’t have to earn. For many of them, liberalism is little more than social plumage.

There is an especially dangerous and ugly kind of bigotry beneath the feathered plumage of ideological arrogance. Liberals, or progressives if you will, are supposed to support others and help them have a better life, not use them as a foil to prove the bona fides of their liberal ensemble. Behaving that way is dangerous because the obvious arrogance and bigotry of such an attitude makes it impossible to build a successful political coalition. If you behave that way not only will people not work with you, they will actively work against you. And there will always be somebody out there willing to exploit that division.

When ideology becomes an affectation it also becomes a product. The people that profit most from ideology as a product are the 1%, and they are selling us the tools of our own destruction. They pit us against each other by turning citizens into consumers. The result is the Morton Downey horse race culture war scrum that American politics has become. It's nobody else's job to tell us how right we are. It's up to us to prove that we can make what we believe work for them.

There are other contibuting factors to a roll off in gun purchases.

A more important one might be market saturation.

In terms of the symbolic importance of guns, the features of guns that make them dangerous for innocents makes them equalizers for innocents in the event of an assault. That merry go round of potentialities underlies the entire debate. So whenever there is a mass shooting, calls for the elimination of guns are matched with the desire to acquire them for defense.

The Navy Yard shooting and Sandy Hook, while both mass shootings, involved a different set of victims and their role in our culture. Sandy Hook involved children while the Navy Yard shooting involved the military. Never mind that guns are not commonly carried on military bases and certainly not in office buildings, any organization with the word "navy" in it calls to mind rough and ready soldiers kicking ass and taking names at the drop of a hat. The murder of defenseless children in what should be in a place as safe as their homes personalizes the experience for the public in a way that the killing of people associated with the military would not.

I expect a bunch of factors combine to make the Navy Yard shooting a less viable product for lobbyist group and firearm manufacturer profit. He used the wrong gun for the wrong reasons on the wrong people too soon after the last mass shooting and too late after landmark legislation had run its course. The result was outrage fatigue, legislation fatigue, stereotype confusion, and an event that does not fit the ideologically based business model of the outrage manufacturers and fearmongers that feed off of both sides of the issue.
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