Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Leonardo - Adoration of the Magi


Of course being a Leonardo work its fate was always likely to be unfinished, but as it is in its naked state it's still majestic and strange, both skeletal and chaotic in its details, but even with the abundance of dramatic forms space is itself also a palpable presence or reality in the awe-filled painting. Just an afterthought that in the film 'The Sacrifice' by Andrei Tarkovsky, a character whispers after gazing at a reproduction of this painting that he has always been terrified by Leonardo.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Desert

A man went with a vacuum cleaner into the desert. What a fool. He was going to hoover everything up, was he? Well where was he going to put whatever he vacuumed? Back into the desert, that's where. Pointless.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Goal!

The British government has pledged for the rest of the 2015-16 football season to drop a bomb on terrorists for every goal scored by Manchester United in the English Premier League. The statement seems to be a real PR coup for the government of David Cameron, garnering both huge social-media and mass-media support, and with Mr Cameron gaining thousands of friends as an immediate and clear result. There were admittedly some murmurs of dissent from some of Manchester United's rivals around the issue of favouritism, but when suggestions of terrorist sympathies were voiced, these murmurs quickly quietened to silence. Also on the issue of this 'favouritism', some pointed out that the  inevitable patriotic commitment to attack may in fact leave Man Utd vulnerable in defence - though those making such a point have discovered that, despite their protestations of fair-mindedness, this has equated to a very serious social faux-pas.

Surfjan Stevens - Fourth of July, live


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Trump

In news from Hollywood, Donald "Asshole" Trump has landed the role of "the Bad Guy" in what is already shaping up to be next year's smash multi-network tv drama, "The US Presidential Election."
"It's like Masterchef except with politicians and billionaires" explained a tv executive. "Oh and there's a public vote at the end of it so maybe it's more like Pop Idol or one of those dancing things. But you should watch it anyway. It's brilliant."
On Mr Trump's performance which has been earning rave reviews, one of his best friends commented, "People think he's just hamming it up for the cameras but he really is an asshole, so it's almost as if he's not acting at all."

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Machavelli & Dynamics of Power

A re-posting of an earlier piece.

Earlier short piece on Machiavelli here. Machiavelli is famous for writing in The Prince on the prudent methods a political ruler must use in order to attain, maintain and strengthen his political power. The very idea that 'Machiavellian' refers to some exceptional and cynical mode of political behaviour rather than a reflection of the norm would presumably have been incomprehensible to Machiavelli, as rather than an instigator of some new ruthlessness, he is simply an observer and adviser of strategy within this field of human conduct and invariably conflict. That politics is a strategical game with the ends being raw power, and since there is nothing moral about power then this is a value that has no meaningful place within this game, just as for instance goodness has nothing to do with breaking a land-speed record. So more or less goes the thinking. The means reflect the ends, and by simple cause and effect the ends are determined by those means.

Politics however, unlike the land-speed record and most other 'games', is not self-enclosed, directly affects the wider world, and so this amorality, or often immorality- if we permit the existence of a moral universe - is a very serious issue, and it's best for those liable to be affected by the actions of its players, which is to say all of us, to realise that such a game is being played in the first place and to have some idea of its modus operandi. These participators in the game would consider themselves realists, and to the highest degree, but just because some have decided to set boundaries on what constitutes reality and conduct within it, doesn't mean this has any truth beyond the minds of those believing it to be so. Though as said, Machiavelli when expressing the desirability of deviousness and ruthlessness as practices within this 'game' is simply reflecting a reality rather than particularly instigating anything new.

Once however Machiavelli has given his views in his book of ideal if general method, these notions of best practice enter more profoundly into the world of politics as conscious general method to be emulated, rather than as accidental and intuitive understandings by various individuals in particular circumstances. The Prince is also a lens through which the more disinterested observer can look upon historical and present-day realities and discern the methodology behind 'random' events, unseen by the unsuspecting and gullible.

And so the idea that 'Machiavellian' refers to some unusual form of political practice rather than the norm is either an instance of uneducated naivety, or itself an instance of Machiavellian duplicity by those playing the game - that, as a virtual matter of course, at the other end of government is someone or body of people acting to cement and increase their power over their subjects. As quoted in the earlier short piece, "the people are everywhere anxious not to be dominated or oppressed by the nobles, and the nobles are out to dominate and oppress the people." This tension is for Machiavelli an unquestionable, fundamental truth. The ruling elite will always want to oppress the people, to further their control, and by simple logic the ultimate desired destination is absolutism, the totalitarian state. This leap to absolute power is dangerous for the rulers however, as the people are great in number and have no wish to be the subjects of outright tyranny. To excessively act on this urge for such total mastery is to gamble with what they already possess.

Principalities usually come to grief when the transition is being made from limited power to absolutism. Princes take this step either directly or through magistrates.

At the moment in the comparatively free West, it is via the use of the magistrates, or legal 'reform', that the desired movement towards absolutism is being conducted, but this must be justified, if noticed at all by the people, by deception: because of say a perceived external threat, intentionally created or/and hyped up by the nobility's means of public propaganda. He writes:

We must distinguish between....those who to achieve their purposes can force the issue and those who must use persuasion. In the second case they always come to grief, having achieved nothing; when however they can force the issue, then they are seldom endangered.
The populace is always fickle; it is easy to persuade them of something but difficult to confirm them in that persuasion. Therefore one must usually arrange matters so that when they no longer believe they can be made to believe by force.


So they must be made to believe what the rulers want them to believe, which is the necessity of an increase in centralised state power. But greater forces than persuasion must be used. Persuasion simply appeals to the limpid reason. To be made believe by force the far more powerful, primal aspects of human nature must be attacked and harnessed - fear and hatred. And so the application of this being, for example, the Gladio network of terror earlier described here, on which the BBC did a detailed 3-part documentary. In the words of its director, Allan Frankovich:

This BBC series is about a far-right secret army, operated by the CIA and MI6 through NATO, which killed hundreds of innocent Europeans and attempted to blame the deaths on Baader Meinhof, Red Brigades and other left wing groups. Known as 'stay-behinds' these armies were given access to military equipment which was supposed to be used for sabotage after a Soviet invasion. Instead it was used in massacres across mainland Europe as part of a CIA Strategy of Tension. Gladio killing sprees in Belgium and Italy were carried out for the purpose of frightening the national political classes into adopting U.S. policies.

As one of the key pariticipants in the Gladio network describes in the documentary, methods included not just by perpetration of acts and blaming them on others, but also infiltration of these groups, and leading them to perpetration of the desired terrorist acts. People who imagine themselves to be well-informed about political realities continue, however, in their naivety to consider such simple tactics of control as mentioned by Machiavelli to be the province of the mentally unhinged, to be conveniently scorned and without differentiation as "conspiracy theories."
Machiavelli also says, and he makes no moral judgement here, simply states as a fact:

Princes who have achieved great things have been those who have given their word lightly, who have known how to trick men with their cunning, and who, in the end, have overcome those abiding by honest principles.
Because all men are wretched creatures who would not keep their word to you, you need not keep your word to them.
One must know how to colour one's actions and to be a great liar and deceiver. Men are so simple, and so much creatures of circumstance, that the deceiver will always find someone ready to deceive.


This low, depraved notion of humanity is perfectly normal amongst those living within this field of life, as naturally enough for those within this reality, such is a kind of norm. They are realists within their domain. Across all fields the perceiver himself is central to that which is perceived, and the individual is simply making of his debased self a general rule of humanity. Thus the influential thinker within the American neo-conservative movement, Leo Strauss, mirrors Machiavelli: "Because mankind is intrinsically wicked, he has to be governed." Conscience presumably is never wholly absent in anyone, so even these manipulators must convince themselves of their realism and virtue.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Circuses, Gladiators

Modern sports and sportstars are often or at least sometimes mentioned in terms of being the contemporary equivalent of the circus side of the famous Bread and Circuses notion, i.e. a spiritually and politically enervated population is appeased or/and rendered so by cheap food and shallow entertainments, the phrase originating from the Roman satirical poet Juvenal. And so a footballer like Wayne Rooney being a contemporary and less bloody equivalent to a famous Roman gladiator. One interesting point though is that the gladiators, though apparently with some exceptions to the rule, were largely slaves and working financially for nothing. So if one takes reasonably enough money to equate to power, they were individually total non-entities, whilst the political leaders were enormously wealthy figures - in a certain sense reasonably so or as one would expect - money and power in tandem.

Returning to the present the parallel starts to look a bit strange.
One might imagine it reasonable to say the most powerful person in a country is the political head of that country, with for instance broadly the entire military apparatus at his disposal, with ultimate 'buck stops here' say over foreign policy matters, economic policy, etc, etc. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, at present David Cameron, the "First among equals" earns £142,500 in a year. The footballer Wayne Rooney, our modern gladiator, earns apparently about £300,000 a week. So in pure salary it will roughly take the head of the UK political apparatus two years and 6 weeks to earn what the footballer earns in one week. Of course by the time those two and a bit years have elapsed, so have 110 or so of Wayne Rooney's weeks, which in turn will take the Prime Minister roughly 230 years of office to approximate financially. To add, the US President would be considered a far more powerful figure and so it is perhaps right that President Obama takes slightly less than a year to earn what Wayne Rooney earns in a  week.
 An interesting statement of significance of a mature evolving world clearly worthy of deep respect, and when voices from within speak on things of import I say to myself, Listen well, for here lies truth.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Why all the Sarcasm?

Why, I am asked - if that is someone cared enough to ask it - am I so sarcastic? But I'm not! Or maybe I suppose yes to some degree I am. To some considerable degree some might say. And so why, why so sarcastic - seeing as that was the question. Of course I know whatever answer I furnish will hardly be anything like the whole truth but even so maybe it's all, the sarcasm, for the sake of appearances. What appearances? My own. For how else am I to maintain my reality, the reality of its appearance, in the light of the present? In the presence of such a light I am forced to be a darkness, in opposition, otherwise, well, I'd be part of it, and to be part of such a light, would be  . . . . well, it would be hardly to be at all . . . Maybe the trick so, you might say, is not to be in its presence.

And but to add - I can't just give up the point - where would everyone be if someone switched off that light - the one I'm talking about, the light of the present? If some ungrateful someone or other throws for example a big ignorant stone at it . . .  splinters, screams, darkness, out with the light . . . Well maybe everyone could find somehow their way, stumbling, by the light of a cigarette lighter, a phone, torchlit, into another room, again brilliantly lit, with maybe even a chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and guards, well-dressed, protecting it. And now and onwards it transpires, however unlikely, noone throws anything - or if they do they miss. But in the end the light will still end up going out. It will, like all such lights, exhaust itself. Show me a light bulb that hasn't exhausted itself - though yes admittedly I'm talking about the used-up ones. But anyway, why not just change the bulb even if it does go out? Ah but that's not the point. What about for example the terrifying interval of darkness between bulbs - people, unable to see each other, might go mad. But at least they could hear each other - though with all the groans and screams they might be better off not. Still there'd be the occasional voice appealing for calm, though to be heard he'd have to shout presumably so loud, he probably wouldn't sound all that calm.

So, given all that, why not just go outside into the natural light and not have to be relying on any light bulbs? But wouldn't there still be the same need for sarcasm, you know, so as to exist, to maintain oneself, in opposition, so as not to be part of the light? But I think here is where darkness really would just be darkness, willful, stupid. What would be the point? And how long, even accepting all the stupidity, for that matter could such opposition maintain itself? If you took the light away from the darkness where would it be, left to itself?

Well I set out trying to clarify things, to be straightforward, but glancing back at what I've produced it seems it's beyond me. I drifted off it seems into God knows where.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Underworld - Cherry Pie

And while I'm at it, another track from their prolific glory years of the early to mid 90s, 'Dirty Epic' - maybe still the great song of this age by anyone.


Though in truth I think maybe the sacred art of the Dirty Guitar mix of it is my favourite, though perhaps, as the man said, comparisons are odious, & it's not as if a choice has to be made anyway of one or the other.



Sunday, 8 November 2015

Doorways

A void between two open doorways, or if you like, two open doorways between which a void. A silent picture so, still, symmetrical, but maybe after a while boring. But then emerges towards one of the doorways a man running who doesn't stop in horror before the void but leaps into and across it towards the other open doorway! Unfortunately however the a split second later from that other doorway comes rushing and jumping another man, and the two meet and collide somewhere in the middle and down they go. Awful, tragic, even if maybe also a bit yes comical. But who knows, maybe after they fall and disappear from view, they, limbs tangled, fall and land on what amounts to a great soft floor or bed of  hay, fortune favouring, apart from the bad luck, the brave so to speak. And then again maybe the whole thing - running, jumping, colliding - was actually scripted, arranged, not accidental at all, and if we waited around long enough we'd see the two of them repeat the process a little later, though maybe this time for variation from opposite doorways. Then again that might be all a bit optimistic but anyway.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Socratic

I'm writing the following and present piece, whatever it's going to be, in sort of homage to the great Socrates, who was forced more or less to poison himself because he wouldn't shut up annoying people.

A man, Typhus, was walking down a street of Athens when he was joined by Socrates who asked him how he was, to which Typhus with a premonition of doom answered, "I am fine."
"Ah but what do you mean you are fine?"
"I mean up till a minute or so ago at least I was feeling well."
"And what do you mean by well? Is it a state of well being in itself or is wellness a state in relation to other states, themselves also relative."
"Fuck off."
Typhus walked off leaving the triumphant Socrates behind who, after shouting something about the unexamined life being not worth living, then began humming to himself the words, "Making the world a better place."

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Response

In something of a follow-on to their recent announcement, the United Nations Security Council have responded to the current refugee crisis by requesting FIFA make an immediate change to the offside rule in professional football favouring the attacking side. Henceforth from when the ball is passed the attacker will have a yard leeway between him and the defender before he is declared offside. The authorities will use GPS tracking technology to successfully implement the amendment to the rule.
The expected, even inevitable, rise in goals scored will send out a message around the world of solidarity and caring.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Willin' - The Byrds

Cover version of a great song about truck driving American back roads all weather, all hours, all cargo from weed to wine and smokes and folks from Mexico.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Peace

Somewhat surprisingly, even if only superficially so, this year's Nobel Peace prize has been awarded to War. A spokesman for the Nobel committee said they were going to award it a second time to "Barracks" Obama for his re-assuring smile, earnest expression and heroic refusal to have his skin whitened, but they were out somewhere nice for a few drinks and amidst the slowly ensuing merriment someone jokingly suggested War as an alternative. Once the laughter died down, the validity and paradoxical ingenuity of the thought started to reveal itself to them, and half an hour later they were unanimous, War it was, and the happy news was siphoned off to the press.
Christina Aguilera, Tony Blair and a specially commissioned waxwork of Robin Williams will accept the award on War's behalf. The waxwork will be on a scale of 1 to 1.1, thus elevating Williams' height to 6'2", which, the Nobel committee say, will be a fitting tribute to both the man and the occasion.

The moment Mr Obama received the news of the announcement was incidentally caught on camera as he was watering his roses at the White House. A momentary look of surprise tinged perhaps with a shimmer of disappointment was however followed in the same breath with a resigned smile, which then segued into a faraway look of deep contemplation, after a few sacred seconds of which what appeared to be the muttering of some inaudible words was followed by nodding of the head, gentle yet rich in conviction. He then with a sense of renewed hope returned to the watering of his roses.

Subsequent airing of this footage led to massive media interest, reflective naturally of the public will, in the unearthing of the President's unheard words, if words they were, and with the kind aid of NASA technology almost infinite magnification of the audio has revealed the words to be "Our Founding Fathers . . . yes . . . yes . . ."
It seems incidentally true by the way the revelation, however it came out, that Mr Obama had actually been informed of the Nobel decision some twenty minutes earlier but this of course only makes his performance all the more remarkable.


* Just to add whether this is helpful or necessary or not, the Robin Williams reference is fully in the way of a social-cultural sense, and has nothing to do with him as a living person.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Tomorrow

Tomorrow is World Celebrity Day. Everyone, except terrorists, has the legal right, depending on gender, to consider him or her self to be a celebrity until midnight of one's relevant time zone.
That one could by means of flight leave one time zone and in entering another extend the duration of one's celebrity is it seems a grey area.
There are already it seems murmurings from some of the more daringly liberal voices that the exclusion of terrorists could be counter-productive - that the awfulness of such an excommunication will drive them to even more desperate acts.
Others have criticised the wording on gender believing it to be unnecessarily restrictive.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Pelevin S.N.U.F.F.


I'd feared Victor Pelevin, the author of the contemporary book that gave me most pleasure, The Clay Machine Gun, had in a sense had his day or whose inner star had faded . . . but after a ridiculous & strange delay in his works being translated, I recently read his S.N.U.F.F. and thankfully his unique genius and x-ray and liberating cultural vision is pretty rampant again. In his way something of a modern Russian Aldous Huxley, and it's not unrelated to both Brave New World and Ape and Essence. I don't think he considers potential critical fawning over his works as having much to do with his existential state of being, and can be pretty flippant with his art . . . but anyway have no aptitude - cloaking maybe a lack of talent - for writing about books so just to say I thought overall S.N.U.F.F. not faultless, but still fantastic, and will re-read soon.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Universal

Professional football has been declared the new official universal language at a special sitting of the United Nations Security Council. All relevant international documents will henceforth have to be translated into professional football, with failure to do so resulting in "the most serious of  sanctions."
'It is in the act of watching professional football that we are most alike unto ourselves,' stated a subsidiary UN press release.
Bono has welcomed the news.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Doubt

"We live in a great era of doubt."
"I doubt that."

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Stars & Water Carriers

Featuring Eddy Merckx, in a way for me one of the most out-of-reach of people, a superman of some kind - and not in a superficial sense. Fuente, the Spaniard mountain specialist, is the one incidentally I seem to more emotionally resonate with.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Friday, 10 April 2015

A Big Pot

"There was this fucker with a big pot."
"What?"
"A big pot. And inside in the pot he had all this shit, and he stirred it all round and around and then he poured it all out from this great height he was up in. And that's the world we live in today."
"That's the world we live in today?"
"Yes, if you like it's a kind of myth, like the Book of Genesis."
"And what good is that bloody myth going to do anyone?"
"It might lift people up."
"Lift them up?! A fucker with a big pot of shit?"
"Well if they realise that's what everything comes from, this fallen world, they might try to get beyond it instead of just wallowing in all this shit."
"Kind of gnosticism so, a divided world you're talking about?"
"Something like that maybe yeah."

Grey

A world, grey, dull, uniform, monotonous, and what would it do if you weren't careful but extend itself in extension of itself so to speak, that is never-ending greyness inside and out. But people got maybe all too fed up with it after a time and so what was done with all this greyness, uniformness, etc? They coloured it in! And that was of course much better.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Shakhtar

"You've a very thoughtful expression."
"I always be thinking."
"And what is it you think about?"
"I wouldn't know what I be thinking about half the time. It'd be very clever though, way over your head."
"Give me an example."
"Shakhtar Donetsk."
"What?!"
"Shakhtar Donetsk. It's a soccer team out in Eastern Europe there somewhere. I was thinking about them the other day."
"That's amazing. And what put them into your head?"
"Oh I dunno. Ours is not to reason why."

Monday, 9 February 2015

Cave


"So there was this cave . . . "
"Not the fucking cave again."
"Ah come on, give him a chance. "
"Well as long as he doesn't start going on about the bloody shadows on the wall."
" . . . and on a wall of the cave were these shadows . . . "

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Paul Craig Roberts - Charlie Hebdo . . . Operation Gladio

Paul Craig Roberts was the US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. Full article here.He writes:

"The Charlie Hebdo affair has many of the characteristics of a false flag operation. The attack on the cartoonists’ office was a disciplined professional attack of the kind associated with highly trained special forces . . . yet they conveniently left for the authorities their ID in the getaway car. Such a mistake is inconsistent with the professionalism of the attack and reminds me of the undamaged passport found miraculously among the ruins of the two WTC towers that served to establish the identity of the alleged 9/11 hijackers."

He also mentions the infamous Operation Gladio. "The largest part of the government of Italy was ignorant of the bombings conducted by the CIA and Italian Intelligence against European women and children and blamed on communists in order to diminish the communist vote in elections."

From my own previous piece on Gladio:
Originally aired on BBC2 in 1992, 'Operation Gladio' reveals 'Gladio', the secret state-sponsored terror network operating in Europe.
Director Allan Frankovich:
This BBC series is about a far-right secret army, operated by the CIA and MI6 through NATO, which killed hundreds of innocent Europeans and attempted to blame the deaths on Baader Meinhof, Red Brigades and other left wing groups. Known as 'stay-behinds' these armies were given access to military equipment which was supposed to be used for sabotage after a Soviet invasion. Instead it was used in massacres across mainland Europe as part of a CIA Strategy of Tension. Gladio killing sprees in Belgium and Italy were carried out for the purpose of frightening the national political classes into adopting U.S. policies.

Italian Prime minister Giulio Andreotti (DC) publicly recognized it on October 24, 1990, though naturally spinning a very soft-focus version of its nature, and spoke of a "structure of information, response and safeguard", with arms caches and reserve officers.
Actions carried out by Gladio in particular included the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, the 1972 Peteano attack by Vincenzo Vinciguerra and the 1980 Bologna train massacre.
State-sponsored terrorism, the simple purpose being to carry out terrorist attacks, blame them broadly on the forces you wish to attack, and also carry out the consequential strict internal measures/states of emergency necessary to protect the public from the dreadful people carrying out these attacks. The state attacks its citizens, therefore give the state more power to protect its citizens. Very simple and effective as shown in more recent examples of the same methods.


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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Ingres and Feminism . . . again

In celebration of the New Year, I've dug into the bowels of this blog & am re-posting the remains of this piece . . . that is to say, obviously with the exception of this opening sentence the rest has appeared previously & is now appearing again, not that it ever stopped appearing in the first place.

                                 .....................................................................................................

Following on from the recent post involving Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, a post on his much undervalued role as an intellectual patron and artistic chronicler of the liberating force of feminism. Below is one of the leading figures of the emerging movement that changed the landscape of life, Venus Anadyomène, painted by Ingres in slightly allegorical mode. Anadyomène was regarded by the ruling elites as "one of the most dangerous people in Europe" for her radical views regarding universal suffrage.

Ingres' most important work as chronicler of the rise of feminism is the painting below, which shows the first organised meeting of like-minded women from around Europe to debate and formulate strategies for the campaign ahead. Ingres, the only male present, was requested by Anadyomène to record the event for posterity, which , given the sociological climate of the time, he misleadingly titled The Turkish Bath. Noone will deny Ingres has managed to capture something of the tension of the heated exchanges that occured at that seminal gathering.

And finally, below is a painting of the extremist figure, still only known by her nom de plume, The Source, by which the painting is still known. She believed the ends justified the means, and women were duty bound to resort to violence to further the struggle.