3 July 2011

The Illusionist by Burger, 2006

Filed under: Movies, Psychology — ktismatics @ 10:01 am

By coincidence, Anne brought this DVD home from the library the day after I experienced the optical illusion I described in my last post. She thought she had reserved the 2010 animated feature by Chomet, but this earlier film with the same title was delivered instead. It’s a pretty good movie, but it could have been a better one. The issue that was set up by the story, but that the writer-director failed to explore adequately, was this:

The unbridgeable gap between upper and lower classes, and between ruler and ruled, is grounded in illusion. What is the most effective strategy for bridging the illusory gap? Should the reality behind the illusion be revealed, as well as the techniques used by  those in power to conceal that reality? Or should an even more powerful illusion be constructed so as to overwhelm the original illusion?



  1. Yeah I’ll be on hiatus for at least a fortnight (including sister blogs and comments after today). Couldn’t keep it up for long in January due to very harsh weather – was pretty much housebound.

    I was reading my archives recently too – and suddenly thought: Who is this guy anyway??? Might be time for some contemplation. Need to work on my lost (?) attention span too.

    Thank you reading though. I’ll definitely be ‘back’ at some point.


    Comment by W.Kasper — 4 July 2011 @ 10:11 am

  2. I hope you’re embarking on some exotic holiday, Wayne. I just returned from the grocery store with fixin’s for traditional 4th of July BBQ: pork roast (which I expect to cook slowly and spicily for pulled pork), corn on the cob, rhubarb for pie (top crust only). I informed the deli guys with pretty high assurance that there is only one 1-eyed queen in a deck of playing cards. While passing the pastry section I listened to some little kid arguing with his father in French about whether a chocolate chip cookie was an adequate treat — not many Frenchies show up here, so it seemed exotic. I did not take sides in the dispute. Tonight’s fireworks I’m not so sure of, given that the trad mosquitoes will also surely attend.


    Comment by ktismatics — 4 July 2011 @ 11:48 am

    • …but now, upon empirical inspection, I find that there are no 1-eyed queens, but one 1-eyed king — the deli guys and I had agreed that there were none. There are in fact two 1-eyed jacks, upon which there had been unanimity.


      Comment by ktismatics — 4 July 2011 @ 12:05 pm

      • One of the saving graces of where I live is the plethora of languages you hear everywhere. Just been the supermarket and it felt like an international festival. Especially all the ladies in a wide variety of summer attire. I would have stayed there all night if they had a bar and some music!

        No exotic holidays, alas…


        Comment by W.Kasper — 4 July 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    • Did you grill it? All of a sudden, I’ve become interested in BBQ, and there are some one can do without a grill, although I intensely dislike not being able to use one, since nothing is better than grilled meat, esp. pork. There are old recipes I’ve recently found that I intend to do this summer, such as Brunswick Stew, and also Barbecue Hash, which is wrongly represented on the internet: It doesn’t nearly always include organ meats, and the traditional Alabama kind has pulled pork and chicken with barbecue sauce over rice, and usually accompanies either BBQ pork or beef, if you want to be a bit more Texan. The vinegar-based Carolina Pulled Pork sauce is also extremely good, and is the one you usually get here at the BBQ joints (which are surprisingly authentic, but they have to be for the ‘expats’ from the Southern states, who even get together for things like the ‘Mississippi Picnic’ in Central Park–btw, in 1984, that’s where I met the ‘Girl with the Face of Ruin’, and I would NEVER have gone had I known they were just going to serve a little fried catfish. I also met a difficult alcoholic from New Orleans, who was briefly on the wagon, and shortly fell off. Now everything is so policed (what with smoking banned in all parks and beaches for a month now) that I doubt even a little Hibachi would be allowed, although at the beach the other day, the folk at Ft. Tillden (that’s one of Jack’s paintings in the book) were having this strangely all-American July 4th-type thing on Bastille Day. I’ve never been able to figure out why military personnel is still out there, although there’s half a nuclear warhead as a ‘souvenir’ from the 70s, when Ft. Tilden was a serious military base. There were also fireworks on July 14th as well, which I never heard before. There’s no ‘French community’ in the usual sense, waves of immigration, etc., although there is one of the ones who’ve come here in the 20th century to start businesses and make money, but there aren’t ‘French ghettos’ made of originally French-poor as there are Italian, Irish, etc.,

      In any case you can get very delectable pork roasts from the oven as well, and make some sort of barbecue sauce out of tomato paste, etc.


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 16 July 2011 @ 6:52 pm

      • Yes I’ve made the pulled pork in the oven previously, but this one was barbecued with charcoal. To keep the heat low I made a ring of coals around the edge, then placed the roast in the center where it was not exposed to direct heat. I added more coals after awhile, cooking it for maybe 5 hours in all. The spicy rub gave the roast a very tangy and smoky crust which permeated all the meat after it had been pulled. I don’t BBQ often, mostly because we don’t eat large portions of meat. This pork, however, was large enough to contribute to two subsequent meals.

        Our last year in France we had Bastille Day dinner at some American expats’ apartment in Antibes, located on the 5eme etage directly overlooking the Mediterranean. The fireworks were set off from boats floating on the sea, so we had the ideal vantage point. I don’t remember what we ate.

        Brunswick Stew… The first time I visited Anne’s family in Virginia the whole clan gathered at the grandparents’ and aunt’s house for a feast. A big kettle was steaming on the stove top, and I took off the lid to see what was cooking. Squirrels! “I’m so embarrassed,” Aunt Jane exclaimed. “We always cook them outdoors.” Squirrel was the secret ingredient in the Brunswick Stew, which was being prepared for the evening meal.

        “Girl with the Face of Ruin” is such a lush gothicism. I continue with Part Four tomorrow.


        Comment by ktismatics — 16 July 2011 @ 8:26 pm

  3. As for the general question: I guess it depends on what your goal is. Creating an even more powerful illusion is usually comparatively easier than making many people aware of the fact that they are deluded. But teaching one the critical ability to understand whether s/he is deluded might be morally better, especially in the long run. What would you say?


    Comment by elisa freschi — 14 July 2011 @ 8:15 am

  4. I agree with your overall assessment, elisa. However, I can’t say that I’ve had much personal success either in deluding other people or in getting them to grasp the truth — have you? There are those who would contend that truth is itself an illusion. Presumably if something proves useful in achieving some desired end — money, power, inspiration, etc. — then it will eventually come to be regarded as true. That may be the case; however, buying into some idea as if it were true is not the same as it being really and factually true.

    The film seemed to support the contention that one is best off fighting an illusion with an even more powerful illusion. However, the filmmaker evaded the issue a bit by leaving open the possibility that the Illusionist actually possessed magical powers. From a political interpretation, the implication is that the working classes possess some sort of supernatural power which, if they would learn to harness it, would allow them to overthrow the elite classes. Again, though, the filmmaker failed to follow through on either a materialistic or a spiritual interpretation of political power.

    I was just reading on the Charnel House some text from Max Horkheimer, who contended that replacing objective truth with instrumental rationality is characteristic of a society that turns rationality into just another capitalistic means of production:

    “Having given up autonomy, reason has become an instrument. In the formalistic aspect of subjective reason, stressed by positivism, its unrelatedness to objective content is emphasized; in its instrumental aspect, stressed by pragmatism, its surrender to heteronomous contents is emphasized. Reason has become completely harnessed to the social process. Its operational value, its role in the domination of men and nature, has been made the sole criterion… Concepts have become ‘streamlined,’ rationalized, labor-saving devices. It is as if thinking itself had been reduced to the level of industrial processes, subjected to a close schedule — in short, made part and parcel of production.”


    Comment by ktismatics — 14 July 2011 @ 9:43 am

    • Yes, I agree with your last point: it is quite difficult to think critically. As for the way I act, I try to teach some basic methods (e.g., the epistemology of testimony) to students and junior friends/relatives. But I end up telling stories whenever I am facing people who seem to have no way out (e.g., a friend who is pregnant and thinks she will never be a good mother). Of course, I could be morally censured, since I act as if I were able to judge and distinguish clearly the two cases. My only excuse is that I do more or less the same with myself.
      By the way, do you know Robert Coles’ book *The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination*? If yes, what do you think about it?


      Comment by elisa freschi — 18 July 2011 @ 2:51 pm

    • I have never enjoyed teaching, possibly because I have rarely enjoyed being taught. As you may have figured out from my blog, I write stories, though I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps Coles will have some insights for me, though I don’t regard my fictional characters as morally exemplary. I’ll see if I can track down a copy of the book — thanks for the recommendation.


      Comment by ktismatics — 18 July 2011 @ 5:27 pm

      • Really? Never enjoyed? Not even far away from an institutional milieu?
        As for writing stories, they can be morally insightful even if their characters are not exemplary, since they can help one in understanding another’s thoughts, beliefs, etc. (instead of just blaming her). In fact, I doubt that fictions with exemplary characters ever worked. No one wants to eat what one is forced to and fiction should be quite different from moral instruction.


        Comment by elisa freschi — 19 July 2011 @ 1:57 am

      • A further point: do you think it is morally acceptable to use illusions for a good purpose? And do they work, in the long run?


        Comment by elisa freschi — 20 July 2011 @ 3:05 am

  5. And charcoal is much the best, nothing else compares. Very clever you discovered how to do it with the indirect fire, sounds way beyond delicious. There were lots of hunters in my family, and I even went once or twice and shot a squirrel, but ate it only once–fried, and it was surprisingly tasty. But we never used it in our Brunswick Stews. I became so enamoured of it that my mother would make it for us as a regular non-holiday dish. Some of the really old ones even ate possum, but I never touched that fatty mess even once. We shot rabbits fairly regularly, but I never had it till I lived in Paris, and it was exquisite just roasted on one of those small indoor spits. Sometimes my grandfather would give us quail and dove from hunting excursions, and those were out of sight, better than the quail I’ve had in fine restaurants.

    I did make an incredible Roast Loin of Pork that was not BBQ in the spring, that was scored with fresh rosemary, sage, garlic. Amazing how inexpensive it is compared to other roasts.

    Sorry to be so off-topic, but I never saw The Illusionist. Summer seems mellower to me the last few years, but we haven’t had any lengthy heat waves yet, and those are murder here.


    Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 16 July 2011 @ 9:37 pm

  6. Who was it who said that Man cannot bear too much reality? I think that if we are deceived by others, it’s often because we want to be.

    I guess the morality of illusions depends on what purpose the illusion is serving. Perhaps the best one can do is think that our understanding is limited and what appears to be rock solid may not be at all, and that all things can be put to question. I don’t mean that we should all be sceptics, as I reckon there has to be some certainty for a question to be raised at all.


    Comment by NB — 20 July 2011 @ 4:58 am

  7. If it comes down to personal choice, I’d rather expose already-existing political deceptions than invent new and improved deceptions. Still, are there situations in which the ends justify the means, or is truth always the highest end? Wikileaks exposes information that’s been kept secret, which I regard as a good thing, and yet the whistle-blowers are acting deceptively by revealing the information that they’ve promising to keep secret. I see the point in deceptive covert operations conducted in the name of a worthy cause, and ultimately I support this sort of tactic. Why not then endorse waterboarding, which deceives the interrogation suspect into believing that he’s drowning? Or how about tapping private telephones in order to get a good news story?

    There is a lot of factual information already available that many people apparently prefer to ignore; e.g., the poor quality of intelligence used by the US to justify invading Iraq, the contention that the banks needed bailing out in order to free up lending capacity for keeping the economy growing. Is it because the public wants to be deceived? Is it a widespread inability to evaluate empirical evidence? Is it excessive trust in authorities? Again, from a personal perspective I’d rather be a fact-checker than an opinion-maker.


    Comment by ktismatics — 20 July 2011 @ 7:04 am

  8. Yeah, I agree. Fact-checking is the way to go generally. I guess I meant illusions in a more strictly psychological sense. But of course I also support waterboarding and phone hacking into the families of child murder victims too! (Have you seen the YouTube clip of Fox whitewashing the News Corp scandal? It’s hilarious.)

    One thing I am a bit wary of is when corporations and politicians continually laud “transparency” as a good in itself when what needs to change is the system: Hey, now you can be transparently exploited! Magicians playfully deceive the audience by seeming to be transparent: please check cards for yourself. More psychologically speaking, I’m not particularly transparent to myself so I can’t believe that David Cameron or Rupert Murdoch are. (Oh my God! I’ve made a terrible solipist mistake!)


    Comment by NB — 21 July 2011 @ 5:06 am

    • [Portions of this comment deleted — Ed.]

      “More psychologically speaking, I’m not particularly transparent to myself so I can’t believe that David Cameron or Rupert Murdoch are.”

      If you’re not transparent to yourself, you think you’re not transparent to me? You’re transparent. (Wayne will understand that last ‘quote’.) So, since you’re not transparent to yourself, you can’t judge whether Cameron or Muirdoch is (although I’m sure they are and they’ve got it bad and that ain’t good.)

      What comes across with all your perorations is that you’re stuck with therapy and i’m not. Why don’t you go watch Robin’s Geo-Trauma Video that he showed at the New School across the street from me in April? That ought to be cheesey enougy for you.


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 21 July 2011 @ 6:18 am

  9. [Portions deleted — Ed.]

    “If you’re not transparent to yourself, you think you’re not transparent to me? You’re transparent.”

    You’ve cracked it. It takes others to show us what we are, so I can make a judgement about Cameron and Murdoch after all. Thanks.


    Comment by NB — 21 July 2011 @ 7:03 am

  10. So see here, I’m deleting comments, selectively censoring bits that are true at least in the sense that they truly represent what someone wrote here, in the name of… of what exactly? Politesse? Other people’s feelings? My personal blogging aesthetic? Because I can? Because I want everyone to love me and one another too? Note: whatever personally critical answers you offer to these questions I’ve just raised are liable to wind up on the cutting room floor. But of course I have to read them before I can excise them. Am I asking for truth here, or abuse? Or am I just performing for the audience? On second thought, don’t bother answering those either.


    Comment by ktismatics — 21 July 2011 @ 7:41 am

  11. Just thinking aloud… Of course one person’s opinion of another tends to fall into the category of “bullshit,” in the sense that its truth value is rarely subject to empirical verification or falsification. Personal opinion does, however, constitute truth in the sense of “this is how I really feel right now.” On another thread recently I expressed a wonderment both skeptical and envious about English majors who assert definitively that, e.g., DFWallace is a shit writer. Clearly such a judgment begins with an implicit “I believe that…”, but what I usually want to know is by what criteria the English major makes such a judgment. It’s the same with “so-and-so is an asshole.” Yes, I understand that’s how you feel, that it’s true subjectively for you, but what objective or intersubjective evidence can you marshal justifying the asshole assertion? And do I really want to open up the fact-checking store to evaluate all such claims? Or should I just let the subjective loves and hates stand, assuming that everyone has enough sense to infer the “I believe that…” prefatory phrase, either ignoring, disputing, or endorsing these voiced opinions as they see fit? And does anyone give a fuck one way or the other?


    Comment by ktismatics — 21 July 2011 @ 8:04 am

  12. (I believe that) you should censor people’s bullshit if you want to. Just not mine, obviously.


    Comment by NB — 21 July 2011 @ 8:14 am

    • And that explains why your response to my earlier post was glib, and you probably even knew it. It is not defensible to talk about how you ‘wanted to reveal your identity at one point, but then…decided not to’, and not just come across as twee, although as far as I’m concerned your real identity might well be worse than the flat one here (which isn’t always horrible, but frequently is overly precious, and the coyness and toying is.) If you didn’t want to tell me your identity (and your initials do not point to one so famous that’s it’s glaringly obvious, not have I the time to go round guessing about something that unimportant), then you should remain silent about this decision, or expect some sort of disdain.

      Which you have received.

      just because you’re ‘transparent to me’ of even ‘just transparent’ doesn’t thereby mean (and you well knew it) that you’ve all of a sudden become ‘transparent to yourself’. Your judgment of Murdoch and Cie. ‘as transparent or not’is of no more importance than mine or anybody else’s who’s just musing, because they’ve already been proven to have sufficient numbers behind enough of their transparency for nobody outside the decision-making circles to matter. Although if ‘solipsism’ is one’s game even in matters that don’t touch them directly in the slightest, and in which they have no effect (typical contemporary philosopher who’s never in on ‘the astion’) i guess you can view that differently. Michelle Bachmann’s migraines and her and her husband’s ‘convert-a-queer’ clinic are immune (whether or not one is healed and the other closed) to my opinions of their opacity and/or transparency.

      Actually, I liked John’s deletions of my own post, he left the parts in I consider the far most cutting (athough I’m sure he didn’t mean to), insofar as I don’t really want to bring that other troll in to this who talks about ‘my former pet author’ just to torment as well. Trolls exist only to torment, once you’ve taken it outside the opportunisitic framework of ‘nice troll’ and ‘mean troll’ of the Harman-Bryant Circuit. So that therefore I am somewhat relieved not to give any further publicity to that former ‘pet author’, who has seemed to live for just that well into his late middle-age–and isn’t getting any to speak of.


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 21 July 2011 @ 10:43 am

      • IDNYC,

        No, I don’t think I have become perfectly transparent to myself. I don’t think anybody is or could be. And you’re quite right, I’m not famous at all. Just verrry precious.

        “Your judgment of Murdoch and Cie. ‘as transparent or not’is of no more importance than mine or anybody else’s who’s just musing, because they’ve already been proven to have sufficient numbers behind enough of their transparency for nobody outside the decision-making circles to matter.”

        I don’t really know what this means … apart from maybe “Nobody important pays attention to opinions on blogs etc”. Okay. Correct. Your opinions are just as valid as mine here.

        Perhaps my flat online personality is a reaction to the fact that your comments always seem like you’re YELLING AT THE TOP OF YOUR VOICE, like someone in the park shouting at the pigeons about Michelle Bachmann. Whoever she is.


        Comment by NB — 21 July 2011 @ 11:11 am

  13. So Murcoch & Co. are in trouble for ferreting out and revealing truths by violating personal privacy rights. In some cases (I believe that) truth trumps privacy. But to satisfy public prurience in order to sell more papers? Not good enough.


    Comment by ktismatics — 21 July 2011 @ 10:31 am

    • “Perhaps my flat online personality is a reaction to the fact that your comments always seem like you’re YELLING AT THE TOP OF YOUR VOICE, like someone in the park shouting at the pigeons”

      No, they don’t, and I took your criticisms in the past about that seriously and worked on it. You did not do likewise, you did not work on your own presentation, you haven’t changed at all. Although at one point i thought we had reached a kind of half-friendly detente–but ‘trust issues’ from your side are probably so ingrained that no progress can be made (to paraphrase Blanche Dubois.)

      “about Michelle Bachmann. Whoever she is.”

      One of the things I’ve noticed about Britons is that they are insufferably insular, and that while we have the debt ceiling talks and head-breaking here, that is just as urgent as Murdoch’s Empire falling, they aren’t even familiar with the leading players,. i even know who fucking Laurie Penny is, for chrissake, and there’s really no good reason why I should. I know what Michael Sayeau says about the ‘student strikes in a Harry Potter context’, which he brings up now when it’s totally irrelevant, maybe because his own lack of participation, i.e., ‘speeches I would have and should have given, but didn’t..’ etc., and you may well not even know who Mitch McConnell is.

      To just give the best perspective on this, around the holidays, during the student strikes, they didn’t even make the NYTimes till Charles and Camilla were attacked by the strikers on Regent Street. And yet, British bloggers (including some of the best0 still act like what’s going on in the mini-power trumps all that’s happening in the U.S., which is NOT a mini-power, no matter how much you hate it (and you do.)


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 21 July 2011 @ 11:21 am

  14. “you did not work on your own presentation”

    Maybe you’ve got a point. I heard that exact phrase in a meeting the other day.

    Well, the UK media is reporting on the debt in the US, just not as much as the Murdoch thing. We’re addicted to scandal.

    Ah, Michelle Bachmann! It’s all coming back to me now like a bad dream. You must realise that Palin is really the only mad-right US superstar outside the States. But Michelle Bachmann’s slavery marriage pact thing did make it into the papers over here. I guess her star is on the ascendant. Unfortunately.

    You’re right, British people are generally appallingly insular. That’s why we like to think of the Americans as our cousins. And we certainly are a mini-power to your maxi.

    Look, as far as the detente/trust issues are concerned, I’m very happy to keep the detente. My style as well as my initials just seem to give you the needle. Although I’m not so you’ve changed your style that much. You’re always leaping on people. Come on, you can be funny, but give it a rest with the yelling and the insults.


    Comment by NB — 21 July 2011 @ 11:39 am

    • They don’t ‘give me the needle’, I just don’t like you for your continued bad faith, and that’s how I see it. This last paragraph ruined the rest, and is on a par with the ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ bill that just passed with Eric Cantor’s approval, followed by the totally unwarranted slippage to a vacation weekend. About the only thing you’re going to get from me is a sustained insult of the sort that won’t get edited out, because I can’t see you’ve merited anything better. Why would I find such determined smugness anything but hostile? In any case, if you think that i’m ‘always leaping on people’, that’s your problem. I was having problems with the trolls at Dejan’s for a long time (including you), so that I might yell is not so unexpected, and I am no longer apologizing for it. Fix your own act, and shutup talking about my own. It’s just grudge-holding and so unnecessary. That’s one thing I don’t do, once things are aired out. It’s frankly you who make it harder on John by doing this. if you mean I ‘jump on trolls’, yes, they’re not people. I intend to keep jumping on them, because they call me by my Christian name and think ‘isn’t that ever so clever’, and he doesn’t know mine, so this ought to be some really good Kurzweil coitus.


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 21 July 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  15. Well I’m happy to talk with either or both of you here. I can’t understand bloggers who disable comments. No, I guess I can: sometimes it’s enough just to write something and know that at least somebody will read it. Most of those bloggers without comments have already attained journalistic status with high hit rates or prior publication history, so maybe it adds to their cachet by making the pronouncements strictly one-way affairs.


    Comment by ktismatics — 21 July 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  16. “so that I might yell is not so unexpected, and I am no longer apologizing for it”

    Er, when exactly did you apologise for it? And even you must admit that any name-calling at Dejan’s by me was provoked by you. (*Incoming!*)

    “About the only thing you’re going to get from me is a sustained insult of the sort that won’t get edited out, because I can’t see you’ve merited anything better.”

    So that’s why you attacked me in your earlier post about my “solipism”. People have to show you their merit. Is it because you’re such a tremendous human being? “Enougy” already.

    “Fix your own act, and shutup talking about my own.”

    Then please stop bloody starting completely pointless arguments. That go on FOREVER.

    “determined smugness”

    Thanks! Well, that’s your problem. So now both of us have a problem. (Insert smug face emoticon here)


    Comment by NB — 21 July 2011 @ 3:15 pm

    • IDNYC,…

      Come on, you can be funny

      Okay, I’m not your clown, so ‘Buy the book’, as Princess Michael of Kent once said well and off-handedly, and you can find out what a tremendous person I am. You mean YOU’RE not Nick Bostrom? That’s the only ‘NB’ that comes to mind, and he’s heavy into singulariticians, and may well be one.


      That price is the wealthy Swiss collector one, here you can get it for $100 less: http://www.stmarksbookshop.com/search/apachesolr_search/illegal%20dances%20of%20new%20york%20city

      No, people don’t have to show me their merit, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t want to. I show them mine. I like the greater butchness of identity, John has, I have it, and Wayne has it. Why shouldn’t you? (as Leona Helmsley used to say in her ads….) kiss-kiss bay-buh….if the top link doesn’t work, just google ‘Patrick Mullins, Illegal Dances of New york city’ and there will be two links at the top, use the second to get the whole listing in French as well as the YouTube at the bottom, which is soooo not cheesey…And THIS is the book that the Mackay/Land Axis read the first chapter of and cursed, saying it would never be published. So much for their mediocrities, they can save theah bad breath, as the stripper in ‘Gypsy’ says…Remember ‘Martin’ and ‘Joxter’, well, I’ll bet you do! Why, yes! And they didn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground either, but you know what? I didn’t know it, because until the whole 5 Books were in print, I still secretly thought they might be right about the Book I, and they were NOT. It contains the most rigorous metropolitan crowdedness of all of them. So let their be Fanged Noumena, that has some merit, but forget it about that fucking Geo-Trauma video, talk about ‘payback time’, that was truly of ‘an unbelievable badness’.

      Be honoured. This if the first time I’ve put the whole link on a bleug. Otherwise, among bleugers, only John and Dominic have seen it in pm’s.

      Seriously, you’ve gone far enough with me not to have to keep being a troll. And I do consider ‘initialites’ who know my identity and I don’t know theirs to be trolls. That’s why I am not very respectful of you. It’s a basically dishonest premise that you know who I really am IRL and I don’t know who you are. That makes you no different to Dejan’s crazy troll (his only visitor these days) to my mind, although John doesn’t agree with me on that (anyway, knows who you are, but I don’t hold that burden against him, it’s part of his ethics.) Pray tell, why would I see you as any different from Dejan’s thoroughly crackers troll? I see John, Dominic, and Wayne as my bleug friends, not people using fake names, and passing off initials as names. But carry on, if you’re that afraid of getting caught wid ya pay-ants down.


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 21 July 2011 @ 3:53 pm

    • “And even you must admit that any name-calling at Dejan’s by me was provoked by you. (*Incoming!*)”

      Wow. You really did say that. NO, it was not. You were a troll like the others there, and you still are. I didn’t provoke you specifically a single time. Of course, you probably think the trolls were all sad, provoked things, and frankly, I don’t even remember your name-calling in particular (you can refresh me if you like). Odd that you’d want to say you did. And no, I never did apologize and never needed to, it was all water under the bridge by now, and yet you still live in those days, even though we fought it all out ages ago. What I won’t let go of is that you won’t let go of it now, you still need to register disapproval, that I have not yet met your standards of ‘not insulting people’, but they insult me here as elsewhere, so why shouldn’t I? That’s your smugness, and thanks as well for letting me know you’re proud of it, I didn’t know for sure.it was conscious. I just wanted to go on and leave it behind. We both like John and yet I see you as disrespectful, and it actually seems more respectful to him for us to be known to each other. I can certainly guarantee I’d treat you with the kind of politesse he values if you did. Even if you DON’T buy the book (although you MUST), in which case you could have been part of the discussion, should Mr. Phelps elect to take the assignment…That’s pretty simple, and the ‘ignoring coldness’ is not especially civilized. Your anonymity is a way of preserving some sort of identity, all trolls or semi-trolls have some investment in that.


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 21 July 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  17. Hey – don’t drag me into this, Pat! I’m outta this thread now.


    Comment by W.Kasper — 21 July 2011 @ 6:59 pm

  18. Well, pardon me, Wayne, I’ll just leave it at John and Dominic as my bleug friends. We’d being having these talks, I thought that was something, and I liked it better than when you were ‘warszawa’.

    Hope that helps, but you were hardly the theme song here. I was trying to lighten things up between me and ‘NB’ so we could both have it ‘civil-like’. What’s so bad about that?


    Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 21 July 2011 @ 7:17 pm

    • I was only kidding. Y’know I was never ‘warszawa’. I don’t even know who he is, apart from some comments he left on blogs I read.

      Now I’m in the thread, I think you have a point about the UK getting even more insular. Mainstream news doesn’t discuss Obama as much as it did Bush or Clinton. He’s still the ‘nice black neighbour with the charming wife’ in a lot of reports. The Left appears much less ‘internationalist’ than it once was. Even in discussing cuts etc., too few realise it’s a worldwide pattern connected to military operations, profits, finance capital etc.

      They talk about Murdoch as though these hearings will wreck his operations – as though his tentacles don’t reach way beyond this crappy little island. Now I want to hear about his involvement with the Neocons, and what he may have done regarding wiretappings etc. He’s had much more influence on history than just twerps like Cameron (who’s definitely NOT ‘psychologically transparent’ – maybe ideologically they are, but anyone who goes to elite schools like Eton has visible emotion beaten out of them. They come across as icy robots to normal people).


      Comment by W.Kasper — 22 July 2011 @ 6:13 am

  19. Like that notion of ‘butchness of identity’ though. Not even gender-specific – kinda like giving your words some ‘muscle’.


    Comment by W.Kasper — 22 July 2011 @ 6:17 am

    • After I calmed down, it occurred that you might have been using a ‘line’ like I had used a couple in this thread (the Pacino that I said you’d pick up, and also the campy B. Dubois “the-ah’s aht ‘n’ MUSIC! Some progress hay-ass b’en MAYDE!” But I didn’t recognize the line if it was one, and the easy rhythm is very pleasant. I love the way ‘JM’ has ’empowered herself’ and can’t wait for her every post. I bet she’s cute, but I can’t figure out her bleugs at all. And that line ‘I’m 23 and hope to become an English major.h”
      and also her “So you were able to appreciate the Godfather at age 10, apparently. Good for you.” That is like my nieces being all smart in their sorority rushes, or even Mena Suvari in ‘American Beauty’ who calls her school friend ‘cunt’ and says to Thora about Kevin ‘I bet ‘e’s got a big dick’. And I just looked on her own bleug, she says ‘Oh dear, it looks from comments like i broke his brain’. That might be the wife you’re looking for, her comparison of Harry Potter inspiration to Woodstock was heaven.

      IN the meantime, Dejan has written up stuff about Deneuve that totally insults her, I’m just horrified. He writes about her as if she were some ordinary ‘fag-bar diva’ like Streisand or Streep, and says it would be a privilege to be ‘eaten alive’ by her, and going on about ‘worship’ and such tripe.


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 22 July 2011 @ 9:11 am

      • Ah I just thought ‘JM’ was some dopey well-meaning punk kid, but it appears she has a rep as something of a ‘concern troll’. I think she may have a conscious or unconscious mission to ‘break brains’. I wonder about the sincerity of some of her dumber comments. And no, she doesn’t actually read most of the stuff she stridently comments on (I checked). It’s all titles, logos and badges for her.

        If you feel justified ‘unveiling’ identities, what’s your criteria of ‘danger’? I don’t think I’d ever unveil someone’s real identity against their wishes, unless they posed actual physical danger.

        I’ve seen a Harry Potter movie, or maybe two of them. I can’t remember which one(s) or what happened. They really do go through one eye and out the other. I forgot what happened even while I was still watching it. I have a similar experience with Pirates of the Carribbean movies too. How these movies make billions and billions of dollars is beyond me. They don’t even have ‘stories’ really.


        Comment by W.Kasper — 22 July 2011 @ 9:29 am

  20. Yesterday I went to see the last Harry Potter movie. Ordinarily I post only about movies that stick with me the next day, and according to that criterion HP7.1 doesn’t merit a post. Also, since I don’t have a DVD or download to work with I can’t post screengrabs. I’ll just say that it was a rip-roaring adventure yarn that tugged at the familial heartstrings. Related to the original context of this post, the moral of the story is that good triumphs over evil only if it manages to overpower evil via superior magic.


    Comment by ktismatics — 22 July 2011 @ 8:41 am

  21. As for unveiling the truth of real blogger identities who hide behind illusory identities, we’ve rehearsed the issues many times I’m sure. I have no reason whatever to suspect either NB or Kay or any other pseudonymous commenter at Ktismatics of perpetrating any sort of sneaky-pete maneuvers. But let’s take Warszawa, who has never commented here nor have I commented there, but who has come up in this thread. I have no idea who Warszawa really is. Among other things, Warszawa is a Truther: s/he wants to reveal what s/he regards as a hidden conspiracy that’s been hidden by the US government. At the same time, s/he doesn’t want to reveal his/her real identity. Why? Maybe s/he works in a cubicle and doesn’t want to be caught blogging during working hours. Maybe s/he would get in trouble with his/her employers or friends if they knew his/her true beliefs. Maybe s/he is actively involved in some sort of insurgency and fears political recriminations.

    I happen not to believe that Cheney conspired to bring down the World Trade Towers, nor do I believe that the paucity of empirical evidence supporting this conspiracy is itself evidence of a cover-up. Still, I don’t regard the Truther position as something that poses a threat, such that I’d be prepared to “out” Warszawa publicly if I knew who s/he really was. There are those in the blogging world who might well regard Trutherism and its proponents as a threat worth outing. I would not help these counter-insurgents in discovering and revealing the truth about the Truthers’ identity.

    Suppose, strictly hypothetically (i.e., I have absolutely no reason to think any of the following is true), that in addition to writing politically-inflected blog posts and comments, Warszawa began writing personal harassments directed at other bloggers, to the point perhaps of actually stalking his/her victims in the real world. However, let’s suppose further that Warszawa undertook this secondary blogging mission under some different pseudonym. Now suppose Warszawa was outed, and his/her real name became known. There would still be no way of knowing that this person was responsible for the personal harassments s/he had been conducting under yet a third name. Consequently, the pseudonymous harassment and stalking could continue without ever connecting the harasser to Warszawa. If, however, I were to discover evidence linking this person aka Warszawa to the perpetrator of personal harassment, I would reveal the harasser’s identity to his/her victim.

    In conclusion: (1) Bloggers may have what they regard as good reasons for remaining anonymous. (2) I see no reason to unveil them publicly or privately unless I regard them as posing a danger to something or someone I value. (3) Publicly revealing a pseudonymous blogger’s identity doesn’t prevent that person from assuming a different pseudonym.

    It’s paradoxical that two of the most vehement proponents of uncensored blog commentary around these parts were themselves posting and commenting pseudonymously. I felt no need to out them publicly, nor did I feel the need to restrain my censorship policies to suit their principles.


    Comment by ktismatics — 22 July 2011 @ 9:14 am

    • “I have no reason whatever to suspect either NB or Kay or any other pseudonymous commenter at Ktismatics of perpetrating any sort of sneaky-pete maneuvers. ”

      Yeah, well, maybe you don’t, but i do. Not ‘Kay’ so much, who just wanted to tease me, but that was sneaky-pete in my book too. but that is avoidable. This from yesterday: “And even you must admit that any name-calling at Dejan’s by me was provoked by you. (*Incoming!*)”

      I’m glad there was an opportunity to repeat this because I have no idea what NB meant by *incoming*, but I do know that his claim that ‘any name-calling at Dejan’s by me was provoked by you’ is pure shithead stuff. And you allow this, which is all right, and then get a bit tearful at how you ‘edit and censor’ and then NB says ‘(I believe that) you should censor people’s bullshit if you want to. Just not mine, obviously.” Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. How totally fucking CREEPY. So cute and ‘proud’ that I call him ‘smug’.

      As for ‘warszawa’, I thought Wayne was ‘warszawa’, yes, even though he says he’s not. I didn’t care if he was still talking the ‘truther talk’, he’s a cultivated person and does listen. Furthermore, ‘warszawa’ once claimed to be ‘handsome’, and I was pretty sure he wasn’t lying about that, the way lots of internet trolls lie about their looks and attributes. I just objected when he thought I was ‘getting him involved with this argument between me and NB’, because I wasn’t, which he later understood.

      ‘Victiminzation’ is a very difficult thing to identify on the net. But your pet ‘NB’ definitely said that I provoked all the name-calling I got from HIM at Dejan’s. Okay? You got that? And he even said ‘even you must admit’, and have you noticed that? NO, i don’t have to admit it, and as I already said, I don’t even know which name-calling was his. If he hadn’t said that yesterday, i wouldn’t have even known he’d done any. But he was basically saying that I always ‘provoked his name-calling at Dejan’s’, and I did not. Dejan was always left off the hook, including by you, because he could always do his ‘sweet-talk-and-pitiful’ number as a tranny, which was not my number. Which doesn’t mean I was lily-white at Dejan’s because I had an imagined crush on that ‘pet author’. And anybody who was trying to manipulate my ‘online affections’ who was NOT that ‘pet author’ (and I know it WAS sometimes him) was just getting the ‘joy of the troll’ until Wayne came along, who is not inconvenient because he claimed to be straight from the very beginning, whereas the trolls manipulating me at Dejan’s claimed to be INSULTED that I thought they were straight.

      I don’t care what your policy is, beyond trying to stay reasonably within it. But I don’t think I’m ‘leaping on people’ at this point, and I think ‘NB’ truly is showing bad faith in this case, because he is saying the opposite of what he accuses me of: ‘SHOW ME YOUR MERIT by not doing this, by doing that’.

      Okay, so I like you for other reasons, viz., your intelligence, rather than your ‘fairness’. if you think my considering you grossly unfair is a ‘hornet’s nest’, I suppose you can just live with it, or delete me and then sound sad about it or something, while also including the directive not to say anything about it.


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 22 July 2011 @ 9:53 am

    • I too value you more for your intelligence than for your fairness, IDNYC. Consistency would demand that I delete all name-callings regardless of who provoked whom, but it’s also clear that there are ways of finding out what’s already been deleted (how is this done, btw?). So my post-hoc editorial censorship has proven fairly pointless. The realistic choices are to go with a no-holds-barred comment policy or to moderate comments. Obviously commenters here are able to “man up” about personal attacks slung their way, and can either engage or ignore them. I’m sometimes concerned about newcomers being scared off from my little tea party by contentious table talk, but that’s probably being too squeamish on other people’s behalf. Maybe the thing to do is to let the bullshit fly, then close off the thread if I get tired of it and want to move on. I’ll give it some thought.

      I’m also happy for you to put up links to your book, IDNYC. Hopefully I’ll finish reading it by the end of the weekend.


      Comment by ktismatics — 22 July 2011 @ 10:13 am

  22. I hope the preceding bit of pedantry doesn’t stir up the hornet’s nest again, but the issue of pseudonymy = troll does come up again and again. And so I want to make my position transparent, or at least clear.


    Comment by ktismatics — 22 July 2011 @ 9:20 am

    • I think pseudonyms and anonymity should be maintained. It was the done thing when the internet got going. I’m uneasy at this rush to reveal and join up every aspect of someone’s identity into one big easy-to-trace ‘public record’. Privacy and anonymity is important for free speech – I see no contradiction in that. I know people who lost their jobs over blog comments (nothing libellous – just opinions). Facebook is particularly bad for that kind of stuff.


      Comment by W.Kasper — 22 July 2011 @ 9:38 am

  23. So far the only criterion I’d act on is if, under cover of pseudonymity, someone crosses the line from public trollery into private menace. This might include sending vaguely or specifically threatening emails and phone calls, contacting the person’s spouse or employer, revealing private information about someone. Would I reveal private identities for a more public good? E.g., if I had known who was secretly tapping phones for NotW would I have revealed their identities? Sure, and not just because I felt badly for those specific individuals whose privacy had been anonymously invaded. Would I reveal identities of WikiLeaks sources? No, because I generally think they’re doing a public service at their own peril.


    Comment by ktismatics — 22 July 2011 @ 9:57 am

    • “someone crosses the line from public trollery into private menace”

      – Excactly. Only time. If someone’s making death threats, hacking accounts etc. then it’s acceptable.

      Dances –
      I think its reasonable that someone’s job should be protected if they feel their opinions would compromise their security. That’s two people you mention who chose pseudonyms for their own reasons. It’s not my place to judge the reasons, but you and I should respect that choice. From not wanting to embarrass relatives to being involved in political activity – whatever, it should be respected.

      Also, it’s difficult to be certain who exactly is trolling – you’ve already mistaken me for someone else. It’s too risky to threaten someone’s privacy out of annoyance.


      Comment by W.Kasper — 22 July 2011 @ 10:20 am

      • “That’s two people you mention who chose pseudonyms for their own reasons. It’s not my place to judge the reasons, but you and I should respect that choice. ”

        Not if they’re always alluding to it (bv referring to their legit bleugs), and also criticizing other people without the guts to use their own names. K-punk, at least, didn’t try to hide his identity. And also not if they’re definitely trolling me. But this is not unambiguous. John DID out a troll, and does also protect another ‘pseudonymous’ person, whom I consider a troll.

        As for the other person, I don’t even know who you’re talking about, unless it’s ‘NB’. Michael Sayeau calls me PATRICK all the time, so pseudonymous people or trolls who choose to be anonymouse should at least have the respect not to take advantage of using one’s REAL NAME if they’re not going to. I don’t write on Michael’s bleug anymore. I have nothing to say to someone who I consider has nothing to say. But he doesn’t even really hide it, just doesn’t want you to mention it there, and that I never did. His own ‘legit bleug’ is easily found, although I haven’t looked at it for some months. And why should his precious ‘anonymity’ get even an ounce of respect, when he brazenly embarassed a woman with whom he indicated ‘romance’, and much against her will, and used her real name until the attacks came so loud and strong that he ‘was forced’, the poor limpwrist Alpha Male, to use comments moderation. Then ‘he lay low’ till all that had passed, and I agreed it was more ‘tacky and funny’ than scandal, but I was just being agreeable. What he did was atrocious, and I have no more respect for him IN ANY WAY. It was a disgrace to reveal that publicly, not only for the woman in question’s relationships, but for his own (married with kids.) And yet you write there, and you think he is deserving of respect.

        And john’s thoughts on the ‘possibility of lying’ by anyone (including you) are valid. Even if you’re not ‘warszawa’, you definitely came out with 9/11 troofer talk on Qlipoth in your name. You and I just don’t talk about that anymore, because you, in particular, know you’ll get nowhere. I don’t necessarily believe I ‘mistook you for someone else’, but I do remember the little scene with ‘patrick MacCruiskeen’, who was supposed to be ‘warszawa’, and you were talking to him, and he was the one who lived in Germany, had a Muslim daughter, something like that. If you’ve just appeared, you really DID just appear in the last year. Okay, fine, it seems to me that the criticisms you wrote by ‘lenin’ were much the same as those he wrote to ‘warszawa’, but I just don’t care.

        But the ‘other person’ I have no idea who you mean, unless it’s Mikhail, and that’s his pseudonym, he wrote me that in email, and said he didn’t want to tell me his real name, and wanted some gossip from me. What’s REALLY SHITTY is when somebody paranoid starts getting all worked up in romantic imagining and gets people to believe her just because she’s a woman ‘spurned’, and even tries to get ME to call in the police and the FBI, and you know who believes HER instead of the innocent party, because the innocent party is a ‘white male?’ Well, you know perfectly well who, and she tried to blame it on me, when in fact my accidentally being caught in the crossfire is the main evidence there was to bail out the innocent party immediately. I haven’t spoken to the ‘defender of all women enjoying their Toblerones somewhere in the world’, and I never will again. She’s garbage and a liar, and you love her, it seems, at least as much as warszawa. What Dejan did to her ‘privacy’ was not even unwarranted, she is a liar, called me up with uninvited offers to send me illegal drugs, and then didn’t do it. ‘Charles Atlas’ even admits this, but doesn’t care, and has written the worst posts I’ve seen in years recently.

        No, it’s not some matter of special respect. If ‘NB’ doesn’t want me to know who he is, he can certainly be told that I didn’t provoke his name-calling of me.


        Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 22 July 2011 @ 10:48 am

      • No – I beg to differ, and all the gossip you spout is neither here nor there. A person is a person and a blog is a blog. You’re personalising it all to an unhealthy degree. I’m gonna cease arguing now, cos you’ll just get further enraged by disagreement.

        Besides that, most of your last comment should be edited. As far as I’m concerned, that kind of thing is just not on. I’m not the blogger’s morality police, and neither are you.


        Comment by W.Kasper — 22 July 2011 @ 11:16 am

      • This Sayeau business came out on his blog eventually, did it not? The rest of the allusions are shrouded to the point where, if one doesn’t already know who and what is being discussed, it would be impossible to figure it out. Anyhow, I’m pulling the plug on this thread, to mix a metaphor.


        Comment by ktismatics — 22 July 2011 @ 11:39 am

  24. Yes, but then why this: ” Like that notion of ‘butchness of identity’ though. Not even gender-specific – kinda like giving your words some ‘muscle’.”

    Which it most definitely does. As I’ve told you before, Molly always said ‘Ads’ had to remain ‘anonymous’ to ‘protect his job’, but from whom? Me? You think I care what Michael Sayeau keeps or doesn’t keep? I never have tried to destroy anybody’s job, family or anything else, except when they were trolling me in a very obvious way. Then, as I also explained to you, I dealt with that person on his business bleug, and he kept daring ME to give up my pseudonymity, which of course I wouldn’t do in that case alone. I was definitely going to report him to his Chinese bosses if he didn’t leave me alone, and that worked. He stopped. After that, I had nothing against him, although he’s continued to troll me and bait me at Dejan’s, although i don’t respond there (or when he writes on your bleug, which he did and ‘outed’ himself as ‘Ian Duncan Land’, which was none too smart, because he was then saying he wrote all the ‘Nick Land’ entries, while also always saying that he hardly knew who Nick Land was. The point was always to bring up Nick Land for aggrandizement and attention during the period when I still imagined I had some strong affection, admiration, whatever for him; and this has actually continued to the present, he still fancies that I have that same affection. But YOU are the one who broke that by finally addresseing the troll. Nobody else would ever do it until you did, which doesn’t mean a ‘transference’ occurred and that I’m now ‘in love with you’, etc,. but of course I respect the toughness and courage to do it. It’s certainly something I could have done as well, and it’s stunning how many of the bleugers are just cowards and wouldn’t bother at all, just let Dejan go on with his show, and he relished every minute of it.

    As for pseudonyms = troll, of course they don’t when you DO know their identities, john, as you know the troll of Bryant’s real name and NB’s real name. I don’t, and I see them as trolls, and I’m going to continue to treat them as trolls. Why wouldn’t I? They act like trolls. They call me by name, they call me ‘Patrick’, and they think they have the right to do this without disclosing their own names, just like Dejan’s filthy troll does. Why is THIS okay with you? Because it’s NOT fucking okay. But that explains why I liked Wayne even if I still thought he was ‘warszawa’, and we just didn’t have to talk about the 9/11 stuff, even though sme of the lenin’s tomb things from 2006 are recorded in Book I, my fights with warszawa. So what? If I were going to report somebody, I’d report him, wouldn’t I? So what you do is defend ‘NB’s’ right to judge me on anything, and also his right to use these initials.


    Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 22 July 2011 @ 10:07 am

    • So what you do is defend ‘NB’s’ right to judge me on anything, and also his right to use these initials.

      What this does is give you a bond with ‘NB’ in which you both know who i am, but you also both know that I do NOT know who he is. And you were both furious that I ‘outed’ that YOU know who he is, whereas you ‘outed’ someone who is furious with YOU for having done it. I don’t know who that person is either, although he TOO tried to get information out of me in pm’s about Dominic, which I would NOT GIVE. So again, it’s your other attributes, like charm and intelligence, I think D. called it ‘fleet of thought’ referring to someone else, not your ‘ethics about trolls and pseudonomy’ that interest me in you, make me think I like you. I don’t think you’re fair at all, and I’m not even sure you nearly always want to be, and may even lie about it. That’s why nothing I said at Dejan’s, which is long past and no longer has any effect, is any worse than the sins of the rest of you: It’s just that that kind of exhibition has to be finely-tuned if you’re going to really get it to go anywhere, as it will piss off people more than any numbers of kinds of false thinking, writing, you name it.


      Comment by Illegal dances of New York City — 22 July 2011 @ 10:15 am

      • As for Dejan – he does stalk and he does deliberately threaten people’s privacy when he’s called out on it. That’s the last I’m gonna say about him.


        Comment by W.Kasper — 22 July 2011 @ 10:23 am

  25. I’ve reopened this thread, mostly to apologize for reopening a controversy that had already been resolved last night. This morning for some reason I felt compelled to compose my pompous little speech about pseudonyms and trolls and so on. It was unnecessary; I should have just shut up about it; I’m sorry.


    Comment by ktismatics — 22 July 2011 @ 9:02 pm

  26. Dear ktismatics,

    I could not find an email-adress so I’ll post my question here. We would like to use the still/screenshot (https://ktismatics.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/illusionist-ghost.png?w=746&h=465) you made in our magazine. Please contact me to discuss if this is possible.

    Best regards,


    Comment by Hanna — 3 April 2013 @ 9:12 am

  27. You’re welcome to use the Illusionist screengrab in your magazine, Hanna. I did not seek permission from the filmmaker before posting the image, but if my permission is adequate for your purposes, you have it. I clicked onto your site: interesting work. I’ll email this response to you as well.


    Comment by ktismatics — 3 April 2013 @ 9:50 am

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