Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Frog Was Not Dead but Its Brain Had Been Pithed Which Is What Happens When You Stick a Probe into the Skull and Wiggle

So, long posts on the slowest weekend of the year in Blegsylvania means (RIP Pauline Oliveros, have more of her music) I saw a Marco Rubio tweet condemning Castro for jailing Cuban gays - Rubio has opposed every attempt to provide legal protection for gays; I saw an Obama tweet condemning Castro for human rights violations - Obama has a torture facility in Cuba where prisoners have zero human rights. I feel like screaming. Both are utter duh in a post-Kayfabe world, both piss me off too fuck-me-ably.

My screaming (your screaming or not-screaming) changes nothing - is an entirely self-centered act. I've tried not screaming: I'm not good at not screaming, I tried my entire life to shut up: when I shut up I ask people to notice I've shut up and compliment me on shutting up. A friend, a former professor who made me read Christopher Lasch twenty years ago tells me go read Culture of Narcissism again for insight on myself as much as society, or me in society, and every combination, and I went and recalled the book, fuck me, ten pages in, I'm not reading Lasch again. I consider it progress I didn't impulsively buy the book: anti-capitalism, motherfuckers. All I've got is empty gestures and screaming. So yes, it's a manic phase, spat out to make room for the one the follows the coming Dark phase. I go back and read what I wrote on a date in past years, a year from now, if we're still here, on Thanksgiving weekend 2017, rereading this weekend's posts will remind me, fuck me, just like reading last year's Thanksgiving weekend reminds me, fuck me.

  • A recount for giant meteor.
  • Not me, us: The identity politics that manifest during the election is premised on the continuation of capitalism, not its overturning. It is a liberal identity politics at odds with the long history of communist and socialist anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-colonialist struggle. Suppressing the history and present of radical black anti-capitalist struggle, of communist feminism, of the leading role of people of color in working class movements, the politics of identity functioned in the 2016 election to demolish rather than build solidarity. The missing subtext of the Democratic Party’s embrace of diversity was that its was a diversity of the successful, of the winners, of the multicultural celebrities and photogenic talented tenth who appear as so many talking heads on MSNBC. The Democratic substitution of entrepreneurs for workers under the guise of racial inclusion is class war, a war that leaves in its wake disproportionate numbers of black and brown bodies. White-washing the working class legitimizes policies that diminish the lives and futures of millions of working class people of color.
  • Finding shit in the doorway: But the truth is, we don’t know. If all the predictions were so far off, why should we think the post-election analysis, with all its instant pseudo-certainty, is any smarter or more accurate? What do we know now that we didn’t know before, except that the story wasn’t what we thought it was and that it didn’t go where we thought it was going to go? I am not sure of anything right now, except that on the morning after the election there was a big piece of shit in a doorway and I didn’t know what it meant or how it got there, and that someone was going to have a wretched, smelly time trying to clean it up.
  • A view from Britain: More important still, like Berlusconi he could present himself as a point of identification precisely because of his open contempt for the state, expressed in his unceasing effort to cut corners on taxes. Berlusconi sought complicity with Italians by winking at them: ‘I know you try to cheat, and so do I’; Trump did the same. His apparent lack of self-control probably came across as a mark of authenticity, and it was hugely entertaining: you never knew what might happen next. It’s an open question whether the taboo-breaking was spontaneous or not, but as with reality TV, what mattered was that it was dramatic and looked like a true expression of character. Trump’s revelation that as a businessman he gave money to every candidate and then called them to ask for favours isn’t so far from Yanis Varoufakis’s accounts of what really happens inside Eurogroup meetings. Who knows whether things really work like this? What matters is that the self-styled outsider confirms all our suspicions about what is wrong with the system. And even if we don’t like his ideas, we trust someone who lets us in on a secret.
  • Obama and Standing Rock. This motherfucker. I feel like screaming.
  • The Shillaries: The host of journalists, commentators, pundits, and celebrities who took it upon themselves day in and day out to explain, scrub, polish, promote, praise, defend, and sell Hillary as the best thing that could ever happen to our blessed country, because she had an endemic inability to do what politicians are supposed to do: sell themselves to the public. Presidential candidates, especially those with Clinton’s record-breaking funding base, can pay consultants to promote their ideas and promise. We don’t need journalists to volunteer to do it for them, and we sure as hell don’t need journalists who are taking on double-duty as PR flacks to further their own careers in the liberal punditocracy’s cursus honorum from lowly scribe to editor-writer at a highbrow magazine or earnest millennial channel to White House press secretary—or the C-suite at a Silicon Valley unicorn. RIP, my Shillaries.
  • Melancholia after Castro.
  • Maggie's weekly links.
  • { feuilleton }'s weekly links.
  • Whitey on the Shmoon.
  • Four new Clayton Eshleman poems.


Lucia Perillo

Only once did the frog come to mind: when the coroner
came to “first-aid training” at the fire station,
his slide carousel set up to eliminate
the easy pukers. The frog was not dead
but its brain had been pithed, which is what happens
when you stick a probe into the skull and wiggle.
You wind up with something dead enough
to let you stretch its tongue as thin and wide
as a cellophane sheet, which I did so
eagerly, back in the lab. The coroner said:
Here is the fat guy whose Chihuahua
gnawed through his stomach. Click.
Here is the farmer who hanged himself in his silo.
(I noted his foreshortened dangling feet.) Click.
It had been thrilling to see the frog’s blood cells
jerking through the narrow capillaries. Here
is the woman who swallowed the bottle of Drano.
Click. Here is the man who just Sawzall-ed
his neck clean through. Click. Here is the guy
who shot off his head, but wait: he’s still living,
which is what happens if the brain stem’s left intact.
Click. The coroner said we should aim for the base
not the top of the skull and remember to turn down
the heat. Click. There are many people in this world
on whom nobody checks in very often. Click.
The warmer the room, the quicker a body
will turn black and bloat. Click.
If you have a dog it is important to leave out
what seems like an inordinate amount of dog food.
Click, click, then there was nothing
but a slab of light to signal he was through.
And it was then that I remembered the frog,
not that the coroner had spoken of frogs.
What he said was,
If we saw the cops outside, smoking cigars,
that’s when we’d know we had a stinker.


  1. 1)speaking of in vivo/in vitro, a long time ago i was a sophomore in college and had declared biology as my major - in our intro biology lab one thing we did was take live horseshoe crabs [they are called "crabs", but they aren't really crabs] and remove their optical nerves in order to measure how impulses traveled down them - we took no care to anesthetize them - after all, although they might wiggle a bit, they didn't make any sounds that we could hear when we were cutting them up with scissors

    later that year i had a summer job at natick army labs - the effectiveness and safety of preserving radiated food was being tested - white mice were being used - after you've used a mouse for one experiment it's like a kleenex - you can't re-use it, it must be disposed of - we would put a dozen or so in a large coffee can with chloroform, then put the cap on - they just fell asleep, we told ourselves

    it was over forty years later that i stopped eating meat, although i went through a non-mammal eating phase when i was about thirty

    i didn't persist in biology not because of my tender sensibilities, but because i had to drop biochemistry

    2) and speaking of a different kind of aaargh, one hears speculation that the real goal of the stein/clinton recounts is not to change who become president, but to throw the election to congress (if the recounts are not final before the electoral college must meet) - the theory is that anti-trump feeling would be strengthened even further - beyond the "fewer votes" issue - by the non-ordinary way he came to the office officially

    i came across this idea of a possible future and how some people might be trying to arrange it at a pro-trump site - who knows if their paranoid fantasy of the stein/clinton motivation is correct?

  2. 1)yesterday was the beginning of advent - in a homily i heard the priest remarked on how past, present, and future combine in our ceremony - we are looking forward to the birth of jesus in the future of our church year, we have a statue of his death and preach his resurrection as an event that happened two millennia ago, and we assert that jesus is present with us now in the eucharist

    2)here are the words to christmas carol i'll be singing, although not in our services - it's poetry by committee, one could say - i may tweak it some more, in fact, to make it fit holst's music a bit better

    In the Bleak Midwinter

    In the bleak midwinter
    frosty wind made moan,
    earth stood hard as iron,
    water like a stone;
    snow had fallen, snow on snow,
    snow on snow,
    in the bleak midwinter long ago.

    Christ a homeless stranger,
    so the gospels say,
    cradled in a manger
    and a bed of hay;
    in the bleak midwinter,
    a stable place sufficed,
    Mary and her baby, Jesus Christ.

    Angels and archangels
    May have thronged the air,
    Shepherds, beasts and wise men,
    May have gathered there,
    But only his mother
    In her tender bliss
    Blessed this new redeemer
    With a kiss.

    What can I give you,
    poor as I am?
    If I were a shepherd
    I would bring a lamb;
    If I were a wise man
    I would do my part;
    Yet what I can I give you:
    Give my heart.

    Verse 1 by Christina Rossetti, verse 2 by John Andrew Storey, verses 3 & 4 by Rossetti, modified A. Betinis.

    3)may peace be with us all