Fractals and rhizomes for dinner tonight.
Mise en abyme at lunch on Thursday.
Fractals and rhizomes for dinner tonight.
Mise en abyme at lunch on Thursday.
Or perhaps the correct reference for that last post was Depeche Mode rather than Andy Warhol.
Let me take you on a trip
Around the world and back
And you won’t have to move
You just sit still
Now let your mind do the walking
And let my body do the talking
Let me show you the world in my eyes
The holiday from history ends and the war on terrorism begins with the spectacle of September 11th. The Bush administration decided to make dueling spectacles of the war on terrorism when it opened the war on Iraq with “shock and awe”. The logical conclusion of the first major arc of the war on terrorism would have been the spectacle of Osama bin Laden’s bloodied corpse, but President Obama decided to deny the world that spectacle. That bookend to the war on terrorism would remain unconceptualized in the spectacle (Barack Obama is “the first Jewish president“).
What we got instead of the image of the death of Osama bin Laden was the image of the death of Osama bin Laden reflected on the face of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Secretary Clinton has tried to fob this image off, saying, “I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs. So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever.”
Is this the Clintonian reflex, or Obama’s postmodern commitment to non-representation and non-meaning? Or maybe it was a yawn?
She should own this moment: it’s one of the most amazing and iconic images to come out of the war on terrorism. And she is turning the office of Secretary of State into the U.S.’s emotional barometer.
Today, when Libyan rebels managed to locate and kill Muammar Gaddafi, one of the first vectors of this story was when, while preparing for a series of pool interviews in Kabul, Afghanistan, Secretary Clinton was handed a BlackBerry with the news. Again, no image of the event, but the event reflected in Hillary Clinton’s reaction.
Also of note, that baby bump just over Secretary Clinton’s right shoulder is Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, wife of Anthony Weiner.
For physicists to complete the entire task of physics without ever having set out from Earth to explore the universe — and the ratio of comprehension to capability here isn’t even close — would be like the old ideal of the rationalist philosopher who might deduce the entire system of the world from a sturdy chair in his study, or like Emily Dickinson who might feel a whole life through her Amherst window. On the other hand, should it be possible, it will be a minor demonstration of the homogeny of the universe: it will have turned out that any given place was as good as any other for the task of comprehending the entirety of the thing.
A few weeks ago I met up with some friends and we were walking through the busy Gallery Place / Chinatown area, all three of us heads down studying our various hand-helds (two iPhones and an Android). I joked that the app that we need is something like the range-finders from the Alien movies, only that does picture-in-picture on our phones so we can see what’s coming without having to look up from our immersion in our respective virtual worlds as we walk through heavy pedestrian traffic.
The absurd extent of the anxiety of influence: not only if you’ve had a good idea can you count on someone having already had it, but if you make a joke about something absurd, you can rest assured that someone is already doing that too. It turns out there is already a sonar app for the iPhone (Frucci, Adam, “iPhone’s Sonar Ruler App Measures Distance Using Sound,” Gizmodo, 21 August 2009).
(Jokes about iPhone apps follow the same formula as jokes about hitherto unnamed but always Johnny-on-the-spot when convenient members of the Smurf village: think of an absurd or inappropriate function, append “smurf”; e.g. Cuckolding Smurf finds life in the Smurf village paradisiacal; or sumrfs keep themselves free of tropical disease by regularly licking Quinine Smurf; In the case of iPhone apps, name an absurd function, then say “There’s an app for that.”)
I can tell that I’m pretty heavily ensconced in Infinite Summer because in my previous post I made a sort of rambling introduction, but then told a fairly decent, if disjointed, sixty-year history of U.S. grand strategy entirely through the footnotes.
As I posted again and again and again on the bizarre and sublimated love affair of Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush, Jr., and in the interest of being fair and balanced, and because I’m a prurient ass hole, I have no choice but to post on this photo:
Forget about all that stuff about how photos lie and what the video shows. Liberals need to offer a full-throated defense of the President in this situation. So, in the President’s defense, I offer that that is a hot piece of ass! And this is not just any piece of ass we are talking about here: this is Brazilian ass. I mean, a piece of Argentinean ass was enough to suck out the brain of Mark Sanford, leaving him a drooling, misty-eyed, blubbering microcephalic. So long as President Obama refrains from inflicting upon us tales of a fuchsia dress circa 2014, whatever (could “junior delegates” be the new interns?).
More impressive than President Obama is that dastardly, self-satisfied look on the face of President Nicolas Sarkozy, European Mephistopheles standing next to the virtuous, but naïve — especially in the mechanics of love — American, pleased with his handy bit of work in tempting the America naïf with the fruits of colonial adolescence. I don’t think President Sarkozy is so much admiring this Brazilian can, as looking at President Obama, enjoying a moment of male recognition, reveling in the fall of one of his fellows.
How do you pick a title for a post like this. I don’t know which political-strategic-cum-sexual pun to go with: interceptor missiles, emissions, some play on G8, what?
What’s amazing about protests in other countries is what pedestrian affairs they are. Look at this protester from Iran. In his right hand is a menacingly large piece of concrete. Obviously you don’t throw something that big and hard without intent to do serious damage. But look at his left hand. He’s got his briefcase and a folded up newspaper. And look at his outfit. He’s wearing his kakis and a work shirt. And are those the earphones of his iPod in front of his face? (I can just see Apple’s next iPod commercial: colored silhouettes of protesters in street battles, their white iPod earphone cords snaking about them as they hurl rocks and overturn cars strangely in time to, say, Rage Against the Machine or Public Enemy) This is like the Office Space of protesters. He’s in the middle of his commute when he decides that he’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. It was the same way with the lawyers’ protest in Pakistan where you had all these black besuited rock-hurlers.
Contrast this with the United States. If our black-robed mullah’s pronounce on an election, we all just roll over and take it. Meanwhile there’s a designated social class who participate in protests. They have a special set of tropes that includes a special garb, preferred hairstyles, a prescribed set of protest products. You go to a political protest in the United States and you could be excused for mistaking it for a 3k walk for breast cancer.
Wolf-men (or Mowgli Syndrome) seem like legends left over from the Nineteenth Century, but in fact a few turn up every decade, most famously the case of Genie, discovered in Los Angeles in 1970 and most recently Dani Lierow / Danielle Crockett in Florida in 2005 (DeGregory, Lane, “The girl in the Window,” St. Petersburg Times, 31 July 2008). The most recent case is from Chita, Russia (Wikipedia | Google Maps | “Feral Girl in Siberian City of Chita Was Brought Up by Cats and Dogs,” Times, 27 May 2009):
“For five years, the girl was ‘brought up’ by several dogs and cats and had never been outside,” police said in a statement. The child refuses to eat with a spoon, insisting on lapping up her food straight from the plate, and has taken on many other behaviours of the animals with which she lived, police said. “When carers leave the room, the girl jumps at the door and barks,” the police said. … The girl could understand Russian but could not speak it and tried to communicate through barking instead.
As if in an attempt to tip us off to some Times / BBC fabrication by taking the story over the line, the city where this story originates bears the name, Chita, of the sidekick to that most famous, fictional wolfman, Tarzan.
When I was in college and struggling to get postmodernism in philosophy, I asked a friend who was a writing student what postmodernism in literature meant. His very brief description — he was dismissive like that — was that in modernist literature, ordinary, every-day occurrences drove the drama of the story. In postmodernist literature, extraordinary events drove the plot of the story. The example that he made was that a story might start one morning when a man realizes that there’s a tree growing out of his leg.
Today, Komsomolskaya Pravda Daily reports that Artyom Sidorkin of Izhevsk, in the Ural Mountain region of the Russian Federation, went for surgery to remove what doctors had believed to be a tumor, but in fact turned out to be a five centimeter tall spruce tree growing in Mr. Sidorkin’s lung (“5 cm. Fir Tree Removed from Patient’s Lung,” MosNews.com, 13 April 2009 [Warning: Images Not Safe For Dinner]).
Life imitates art — and vice versa. It’s not just philosophy and literature that are post-modern. They are merely middling indicators. They have become so only to the extent that actual lived life has become post-modern. Trees are actually growing out of people. I’m concerned that tomorrow I might read news of a man who woke up to find that he had turned into a giant beetle, or that the latest trend among young people was to turn into a rhinoceros.
Life is fucking relentless. I used to find it bizarre that a mile out into Lake Washington on the 520 floating bridge, weeds grew in the automobile soot that had accumulated in the crevices in the asphalt and spiders had spun webs amidst their stems and apparently caught enough food to survive. Here you have a tree that actually tried to make a feeder-log of a man.
Update, 2 May 2009: On Monday, Steven Colbert picked up the story for his segment, Craziest Fucking Thing I’ve Ever Heard. He offered that that’s why he uses Roundup Nasal Spray.