Thursday, May 28, 2015
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Betty Draper: the great refusenik of the entire show, the one truth-teller who can accept the finitude of life, that there are endings.— corey robin (@CoreyRobin) May 20, 2015
Monday, May 25, 2015
(26 May update): Louis Proyect's great review of Mad Max: Fury Road.
Kunstler: Yesterday's Tomorrowland
America takes pause on a big holiday weekend requiring little in the way of real devotions beyond the barbeque deck with two profoundly stupid movie entertainments that epitomize our estrangement from the troubles of the present day.
First there’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which depicts the collapse of civilization as a monster car rally. They managed to get it exactly wrong. The present is the monster car show. Houston. Los Angeles. New Jersey, Beijing, Mumbai, etc. In the future, there will be no cars, gasoline-powered, electric, driverless, or otherwise. Mad Max: Fury Road is actually a perverse exercise in nostalgia, as if we’re going to miss being a nation of savages in the driver’s seat, acting out an endless and pointless competition for our little place on the highway.
The other holiday blockbuster is Disney’s Tomorrowland, another exercise in nostalgia for the present, where the idealized human life is a matrix of phone apps, robots, and holograms. Of course, anybody who had been to Disneyland back in the day remembers the old Tomorrowland installation, which eventually had to be dismantled because its vision of the future had become such a joke — starting with the idea that the human project’s most pressing task was space travel. Now, at this late date, the monster Disney corporation — a truly evil empire — sees that more money can be winkled out of the sore-beset public by persuading them that techno-utopia is at hand, if only we click our heels hard enough.
Another theme running through both films is the idea that girls can be what boys used to be, that it’s “their turn” to be masters-of-the-universe, that men are past their sell-by date and only exist to defile and humiliate females. That this message is really only a mendacious effort to rake in more money by enlarging the teen “audience share” for the reigning wishful fantasy du jour is surely lost on the culture commentators, who are so busy these days celebrating the triumph and wonder of transgender life.
The reviewers are weighing these two movies on the popular pessimism / optimism scale. These are the only choices for the masses: whether to be a “doomer” or a “wisher.” Both positions are cartoon world-views that don’t provide much guidance for continuing the project of civilization, in case anyone is actually interested in that. It’s either rampaging id or the illusion of supernatural control, take your pick. I find both stances revolting.
Anyway, it’s interesting that the real Fury Road of the rightnow runs from Syria into Iraq starring ISIS. There is a growing sentiment in the news media (including the web, of course) of a sickening déjà vu with these developments. The old familiar talk of air strikes and ground troops infects the wifi transmissions. Maybe we should think about sending Charlize Theron over there with a few vestigial male sidekicks to load her assault rifle. How else to git’er done? Nobody knows.
Memorial Day is a dreary moment to have to face this onrushing calamity of rocket-propelled medievalism rampant — all those poor American soldiers blown up and mangled the past twelve years. It’s also interesting that the news media is totally out-of-touch with the biggest prize on the great gameboard: Saudi Arabia. You think ISIS overrunning Iraq is bad news? Wait until the ordnance starts flying around Riyadh. Notice, too, that there’s no news coming out of Yemen on the base of the Arabian peninsula, a failed state with a population nearly equal to its neighbor. If we have any idea what’s going on there — and surely the Pentagon and NSA do — then it’s not for popular consumption.
This is ironic because if the trouble happens to spread into Saudi Arabia — and I don’t see how it will not — then we’ll find out in a New York minute how America’s future is not about monster trucks, cars, dirt bikes, holograms, phone apps, and all the other ridiculous preoccupations of the moment.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Shameless Hypocrisy watch: Scott Desjarlais (TN-R), who supported wife's abortions & pressured gf to have one, votes for abortion ban.— Katha Pollitt (@KathaPollitt) May 16, 2015
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Gilles d'Aymery, founder of Swans.com, has died, I have just found out. I hope Swans can continue to be published. It was one of the most original webzines I've read. And I've donated money to them from time to time, not necessarily because I agreed with everything written there, but because of the quality of its content and because Gilles was totally upfront about how donations were used. The yearly budget was roughly $4,000, less than some magazines spend on snacks. A breakdown of expenses is below.
"You send us money. Here, in total transparency, is how it is spent:
•Internet access and costs: Web, satellite, land-line access, TV: $1,900 a year
•Hardware/software maintenance and upgrades: $1,000 a year
•Press and book purchases: $1,000 a year
•Miscellaneous: $450 a year
•This is a very conservative accounting of our overall costs."