Saturday, March 8, 2014

How Could There Be a Word for Silence?

The traditional March 7 song and sentence, this year on March 8 since I didn't remember until yesterday afternoon as I was driving to BWI to pick up Planet: David Gilmour is sixty-eight yesterday. I neither hate or love Pink Floyd and lean more towards like than dislike depending on the song though I can state experientially that me and mushrooms and Floyd didn't play well together the two times we tried thirty or so years ago, so while there's not much Floyd here, I'll celebrate Gilmour's birthday as an excellent excuse to play Kate Bush, David Gilmour playing lead guitar on the above, watch it, you'll see him.

  • There's a second reason I post Kate Bush today, you'll see. Not that I need a reason to post Kate Bush.
  • Seventeen contradictions and the end of Capitalism.
  • Edward Snowden, tattletale: A tattletale is someone who reports "something bad or wrong" to an authority. And that is precisely what Snowden has done. He has entrusted the documents to "responsible journalists," who have adopted the rationales and methods of the States themselves. Moreover, these "responsible journalists" work together with "government stakeholders" to determine which documents may be "safely disclosed" on the basis of factors that are explained in only the vaguest and most vacuous of terms. We haven't escaped the oppression and abuses of authority: we have only added to the authorities who decide what we will be allowed to know. Before, we were concerned with oppression by the State. Now we can look forward to oppression by the State and by those "responsible journalists" who have lucked into the story of a lifetime, which they then stripped of almost all meaning and impact.
  • Vladimir Putin, master satirist: Putin is a nerd, and his excesses are all classic loser fantasies: learning judo, shooting large animals, flying fighter jets, bedding gymnasts, invading sovereign states, being the tough guy – all have their place in the sociopathic pantheon of nerdy wish-fulfilment. When it comes to nerds I’ll defer to the wisdom of the American right-wing radio host and lunatic Alex Jones: Nerds are the one of the most dangerous groups in this country, because they end up running things, but they still hate everybody, because they weren’t the jocks in high school, so they play little dirty games on everybody. They use their brains to hurt people. And I’m aware of them. OK? I see you, you little rats! As ever, Alex Jones is completely correct; there’s definite malice in the intrusive new reign of the Silicon Valley dorkocrats. But at the same time, nerds are attuned to the cruel ironies of the world in a way that high-school jocks like Alex Jones and self-righteous stoner fratboys like Barack Obama will never understand. They might be vicious, but at least they have a sense of humour.
  • Another bleggal suicide.
  • Cultural capital doesn't pay the rent (h/t Frances): This pairing of two smart and interesting women is my first done on a volunteer basis: after the first column ran back in December, Miranda Merklein and Jessica Lawless emailed me (independently of each other) to ask if they could participate. I knew Miranda somewhat from Twitter, but Jessica not at all. Miranda requested to be paired with Jessica, in part because they’re both writers who already knew each other. Their experiences of creative performances, gender roles, teaching, and what Jessica calls below “the brick ceiling laid over our heads at every turn as we tried to build careers” make them ideal participants for the kinds of discussions I’m trying to generate in this column.


Fanny Howe

Feathers fluffed the ashtray bin at the bottom of the elevator. Feathers and a smeared black look littered the parking lot like mascara. A cage would glide back and let them out to merge with the other cars on La Brea. It looked as if a struggle had ended in tears between the bird and an enemy. She broke through the fear to examine it. No chicken claws, or comb, no wing, no egg. The neutrality of words like “nothing” and “silence” vibrated at her back like plastic drapes. How could there be a word for silence? A child’s lips might blow, the North wind bring snow, a few stars explode, boats rock, but whatever moved in air did not by necessity move in ears and require the word “silence” therefore. She had personally sunk to a level where she could produce thought, and only “violence” remained a problem. It was common in her circle. A bush could turn into a fire, or a face at a clap of the hand could release spit and infection. The deviants were like herself unable to control their feelings. Los Angeles for them was only hostile as a real situation during the rainy season when torrents ripped down the sides of the canyons and overnight turned them sloshy. Then they hid in underground places, carrying Must the Morgue be my Only Shelter?? signs. But the rest of the time the sort of whiteness spread out by a Southland sun kept them warm, and they could shit whenever they wanted to, in those places they had long ago staked out. My personal angel is my maid, said one to another, putting down his Rilke with a gentle smile.


  1. For your infishmation.

    P.S. Silber vs. Snowden and Greenwald reminds me of Ahab vs. the White Whale, on a paramecium scale.

    1. Glad I could bait Fish, even if it is just Serendipity he publishes just after I chum the blogs.

      Silber uses Snowden and Greenwald to make larger points with which I basically agree. Snowden and Greenwald are incidental. It's true and sad that the yodeling of those points is almost certainly yodeling in vain, but if Silber wants to try and strike through the pasteboard mask, I'm gonna read him.

  2. I'll certainly be doing mail order, but I want to wait until I get back from Chicago before I get that ball rolling. A number of people have also inquired about a digital copy, and I'll start doing some high resolution scans when I get back. 177 pages, so it's going to take a bit of time to piece that together.