Wednesday, November 30, 2016

And Everybody Had a Lie You'd Like

T. Pynchon, who has done in literature for paranoia what Sächer-Masoch did for whips, argues in his Gravity's Rainbow for why the paranoid delusion of complete & malevolent connection, whacko & unpleasant though it be, is preferable at least to its opposite—the conviction that nothing is connected to anything else & that nothing has anything intrinsically to do with you
  • True that.
  • The cycle of civilization and the twilight of neoliberalism: While this is the normal cycle of history, and is usually yawn-inducing if tragic to those caught in it, we are also at a point where we’ve done so much damage to our ecosystem that we’re in the middle of a great die-off, and we have climate change which, I suspect, now is not just beyond stopping, but which has his the exponential self-reinforcing period of its growth.
  • Is this how Democracy endsThe heart of Thiel’s case for Trump was that America has become a risk-averse society, frightened of the radical change necessary for its survival. It needs disruption. But Trump is not a disruptor: he is a spiteful mischief-maker. The people who voted for him did not believe they were taking a huge gamble; they simply wished to rebuke a system on which they still rely for their basic security. That is what the vote for Trump has in common with Brexit. By choosing to quit the European Union, the majority of British voters may have looked as if they were behaving with extraordinary recklessness. But in reality their behaviour too reflected their basic trust in the political system with which they were ostensibly so disgusted, because they believed that it was still capable of protecting them from the consequences of their choice. It is sometimes said that Trump appeals to his supporters because he represents the authoritarian father figure who they want to shield them from all the bad people out there making their lives hell. That can’t be right: Trump is a child, the most childish politician I have encountered in my lifetime. The parent in this relationship is the American state itself, which allows the voters to throw a tantrum and join forces with the worst behaved kid in the class, safe in the knowledge that the grown-ups will always be there to pick up the pieces.

  • The first president of the post-literate world. I think Trump is worse than most think, by which I mean if he's not smart enough to figure out the new synapses changing human animal behavior, he's smart enough to hire those who do. Every tweet is the small reward dog-trainers use at a good heeling.
  • Compare to motherfucking Democrats trying to get me back to the leash. Come back to me, Neera Tanden sings to me, you self-entitled selfish fuck.
  • If Democrats wanted to win: Let me explain what I mean by reminding you what this form of liberalism looks like. Somewhere in a sunny corner of the country, either right now or very shortly, a group of tech tycoons or well-meaning private equity investors will meet to discuss what went wrong in this election cycle. They will consider many things: the sexism and racism of Trump voters, the fundamental foreignness of the flyover, the problems one encounters when dealing with evangelicals. They will celebrate some activist they learned about from NPR, they will enjoy some certified artisanal cuisine, they will hand out prizes to the same people that got prizes at the last event they attended, and they will go back to their comfortable rooms at the resort and sleep ever so soundly. These people think they know what liberalism includes and what it doesn’t include. And in the latter category fall the concerns that made up the heart and soul of liberal politics a few decades ago: labor and work and exploitation and economic equality.
  • It's the humiliation, stupid.
  • Degradation.
  • Tweeter and the Monkey Man.
  • I am not allowed to play Skullflower when Earthgirl is in the car.
  • Lambert's 2:00PM Water Cooler each weekday, yo. 
  • Listening to local sounds.
  • Five revolutionary novels. As in, about revolutions. I can vouch for the Mantel.
  • Beginning at the ending.

Mark Jarman ▼


  1. And so God, boasting to the devil, said, "Consider my servant X."

    i had the pleasure once of seeing seatrain perform "job", which in concert was elaborated beyond the version on the record -

  2. "is this how democracy ends?" "the cycle of civilization"

    as i sometimes say, i'm a time-traveller from the first half of the twentieth century, and in my boyhood i read a great many science fiction novels, some of which were of the apocalyptic sort, and all of which accustomed me to the idea that things change - that life is like a beanstalk, innit? - all things come into being, grow, flourish, decline, and pass away

    so i sometimes think that i might live to see the end of technological civilization - although of course the probability dimimishes year by year - that i will live to see it, not that it will occur - through nuclear war, or pandemic, or a solar flare frying a large fraction of the electronics on the planet - climate change is moving a little too slowly for the crunch to happen in my lifetime, but it could be a civilization-ending event just the same a bit further down the road

    if business as usual breaks down to a sufficiently severe extent, we are looking at rapid depopulation from starvation, and who knows what else would flow from that

    that this might happen is sort of a shame because it seems that the technological possibility of detecting and deflecting a mass-extinction meteorite is just about within our grasp, as has already been the premise of more than one hollywood blockbuster

    it's hard to make predictions, especially about the future

    maybe ian welsh is right in his relative optimism: although "Some stuff will be far worse than any but the most realistic thinkers are willing to contemplate," nevertheless "in the middle of this it will still be possible for many to be happy, to find love and to live satisfying lives, just as it was during the Great Depression and World War II."

    or maybe our species will become extinct -

    who knows if it's good or bad?

    it's a really, really big universe, and there's lots of chance for stuff to happen here, there, and everywhere - speaking of which, kouji okuno on the soprano saxophone

  3. 'God Said Your Name': Ruh-roh. I imagine the Devil replying, "Oh, yeah; them. I know every one of their friends."

    'Post-Literate President': Read the Joe Weisenthal piece already and was wrapping myself in a comfortable image of romantic resistance to a bunch of Brownshirt Lobotimoids. Then I read Ian Welch ("...we are also at a point where we’ve done so much damage to our ecosystem.."), and it was like being slapped in the face by someone who doesn't want you to fall asleep in the snow.

    'Tigger's Last Warning': You think you're getting honey; it's nothing but bees. Trust me on this one.

    'Tweeter': Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump ... "Just met with exhumed corpse of JDRockefeller -- was very impressed!"

  4. Now I want to read the rest of the Jarman—for context.
    Def. hear Bettie S.; barely Stereolab (in chorus).
    Thanks for the prominent mention. I am always grateful—and for the retweet as well. There's still some uncollected DFW out there. But Pynchon always brings a crowd. Paranoia may, indeed, be the need that narrative fills. That style of politics, though, has authoritarian tendencies—something I've written about at length in essays about crowds. Again, Auto-da-Fe is one of the ur-texts here. (I know it doesn't tickle your poetic sensibilities: that may be clunky German-to-English translation, or, if you're like me, you find reading more of a chore nowadays given the pace of things, the concisions of tweets. I'm not sure I could sit through Infinite Jest or even Gravity's Rainbow again. And that's saying something!)

    1. I wonder whether real, tinfoil hat Paranoia isn't a one-end-of-the-spectrum response to our not knowing why We are or what happens after death, if anything -- an attempt to create structure and meaning out of something impossible to know, and fueled by fear.

    2. Mongo merely pawn in game of life...

  5. (Adjusts tin hat) Just what did you mean by that??