8 September 2011

Station Zero

Filed under: Fiction, First Lines, Reflections — ktismatics @ 11:59 am

He walks down to Station Zero like a dead Jesus dragging his cross back down Golgotha. There are no scars to be seen, no gashes to be probed. He is well fed, well conditioned, reasonably well dressed; he carries himself well for a dead man. But he knows the score, and it is Zero.

There is a bay, and then there are mountains; in between is the city. Long ago the city began pushing itself up the mountainside, and the narrow shop-lined street bears signs of its struggle. Finally it stopped being a street altogether and turned into a stone stairway. Bud kept going until even the squat old houses gave up the climb. Higher still he saw a shallow niche carved into the solid rock; a green steel trash barrel occupied the protected space where a statue or relic had once stood. From there the stairway steepened and veered to the right, its ascent blocked from view by the bushes and craggy trees that had managed to find a foothold. Bud took one more step up and scuffed his shoe. Fuck it, he thought: I’m going back.

Bud stepped into a bakery. He pointed to an apricot-filled pastry in the display case, then waited with embarrassed helplessness as the small woman behind the counter sorted brusquely through the coins he held out in the palm of his hand for her inspection. He asked her where he could find a coffee, and she pointed down the street and around the next corner. Toting his pastry in its paper sack, he took the turn and saw the sign above the door: a stylized cross-sectional drawing of a nautilus shell inscribed with one word – Rik’s.

*  *  *

In March I arrived at a tentative ending to a novel. Since then I added a sentence to it here and there, but overall that ending still looks good to me. A week ago I came up with what seems like a pretty good opening paragraph on the next installment for this ongoing project, tentatively named The Stations. I let that paragraph sit for a couple of days, added a couple of thousand words to it, let it sit again, scrapped it altogether, gave it a shake and a twist for another go. So here, for your inspection, are the first three paragraphs of something new.

The beginning is the hardest part. Why, among the countless possible beginnings of countless possible texts, should I settle on this one? If things go well, then after some juddering and some catatonia the beginning accrues additional mass and generates a momentum of its own. It doesn’t always work, and so my hard drive is spattered with false starts. We’ll see if this one goes anywhere.



  1. That made me think of the Hollywood Hills just above Highland, where streets do turn into stone stairways very regularly. “and saw the sign above the door: a stylized cross-sectional drawing of a nautilus shell inscribed with one word – Rik’s.” Love it–some of my kinds of images plus ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Gilda’ and Robbe-Grillet clubs. Definitely good title, too!

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 8 September 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  2. Also, esp. Beechwood Canyon and up Western Avenue and Fern Dell Road by the American Film Institute. In Jan., 2001, I went up to Glencoe Way and was by the Frank Lloyd Wright Freeman House. There was this blonde of the well-known type but not at all wasted, comfortable with her abundance, who said the FLW house was ‘being rehabilitated’. She HAD to be good in bed…. She was straight out of Raymond Chandler, and had the mildest roving eye. Mark G. lived up there too, although I don’t know which canyon. The motorbike actor Bill Smith, about whom I wrote in ‘Day of Cine-Musique’ lived up Laurel Canyon, but these more rustic canyons in H’wood Hills are suggested more than Beverly Hills. Doubt that you were thinking of those, though.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 8 September 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  3. “comfortable with her abundance” — love it. Seaside cities built on steep inclines are very evocative. I remember on a long-ago visit to L.A. being driven through Topanga Canyon: it felt primeval and surreal at the same time.

    Comment by ktismatics — 8 September 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  4. Yes, Topanga is very special, and I’ve always wanted to take that drive up from Malibu. It’s got a very small population (less than 9000), but the interest is that it has attracted musicians (esp. the real 60s ones) more than movie stars, although there are a few. You can see well into Topanga from the inland-looking side of the Brentwood Getty (and I’m sure the Malibu Villa as well). That’s got the real chaparral look to it. Your passage reminded me more of the Hollywood Hills, although not exactly: Once you are climbing the hills, and those stone steps become more prevalent, there aren’t any more stores at all, which makes the Hollywood Hills esp. beautiful and surprising, too, because you’re only five or ten minutes from Hollywood Blvd. and all its various riffraff. Laurel Canyon is still part of the Hollywood Hills before you get to Beverly Hills, and that’s where two famous grisly murders took place (Ramon Novarro’s ghastly murder in the 60s, and the Wonderland Murders in the 80s). It’s got a touch of that same rustic feel that Topanga has, though, for some reason–is much more so than nearby Benedict Canyon in BHills, where the Manson Murders took place. Manson himself, I just saw, had been living in Topanga. In any case, that’s a true beginning of wilderness there, as is part of Malibu, and it’s true SoCal nature-glamour. There’s something ‘primeval and surreal’ about every part of the Los Angeles area, whether the most criminally oriented or the most wild. Even Santa Barbara, further up, is Ross MacDonald country, although I don’t think any of those work as well as the Chandler ones, which all stick close in to Los Angeles itself–that’s part of it, and the Chandler style is so ‘American-romantic’. But I think the romanticism again is found in the grittiness of the strangely suddenly-huge (as of the early 20th century) city of Los Angeles, and that Santa Barbara, one of the most picturesque places in the world, is in itself much less varied while being luxurious and luxuriant (I’ve never taken the time to go up there, although I should think about that.) ‘Chinatown’, the film, has that ‘noir romanticism’, which has never worked as well as it does in L.A. There’s some NYC ‘noir’ in ‘Sweet Smell of Success’, but that’s still sleaze that’s connected to half-legit businesses, not so much underworld. The various Mafia stories and movies in New York may have their own greatness, but I don’t think that they ever achieve a ‘romantic noir’ the way so many do in LA–whether A-list or B, the romanticism works in LA.

    Couldn’t believe the list of musicians that had chosen Topanga when I looked just now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topanga,_California#Notable_residents including some of your favourites from the Doors. Obviously, being in nature is never the ticket to stay off heavy substance abuse. Wasn’t too surprised Keith Carradine would choose it, though; the Carradines have always been riders, and I remember in a McMurtry miniseries of the 90s that Keith looked totally at home on the horse. Horse farming a big deal all over SoCal, Jack’s sister in San Diego has a huge horse ranch.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 8 September 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  5. Where we lived in France there were such streets that become stone stairways. The place I describe here is a combination of two places really: old town Nice and Antibes. The street in Nice has the shops; the one in Antibes, the religious niches going up the trail. Neither features the deluxe hillside houses of L.A. Here in Boulder the streets also stop when they reach the foothills, but for the most part there are no roads at all going up nor houses but only a few hiking/biking trails, because the city bought up all the surrounding countryside to keep in undeveloped. Over the first ridge though are many houses, yet quite widely separated so they seem very isolated amidst the rugged wooded terrain. Some are old rustic places, others are vast A-frames. This isn’t quite ski country, but as you know many people just love the mountains.

    Comment by ktismatics — 8 September 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  6. Before I wrote ‘Day of Cine-Musique’, there were three long pieces (or maybe four) that I wrote about 2001 in Los Angeles. The one from Jan., 2001 was called ‘The Worship in the High Places’, taken directly from that phrase in I and II Kings, that being a form of ‘sin’ by even some of the best potentates then operative; I think even Jehu and Joash were guilty. I have these somewhere, and one person has read them, I believe (I don’t think Christian has read those particular ones). There’s not very much about that short Jan., 2001, trip in Day of Cine-Musique, but it was full of wonderment too. There’s a good bit about the 2002 one, which was much more mundane. But I had written about the blonde in ‘The Worship in the High Places’, you could feel that flinty, crackling, sinister thing that’s there, and I now remember that I walked up there after I got back from an even higher place, Lake Hollywood, that splendid reservoir that is always guarded and looks primeval, but is only the product of the Water Scandals of the 20s (I think that’s it, it’s the same one as ‘Chinatown’, and it’s up by that construction site at Lake Hollywood where Jack gets his nose cut by Polanski). That sense of the ‘theft’ that is around Los Angeles, and especially here is this gorgeous ‘lake’, purely artificial but you’d never know it, was something I thought you could pick up on in those ‘high places’. when I got back, my friend A. said something about the absurdity of ‘living on hills’, but most people (including me) hardly agree: it’s the higher that always has the more ‘evocative’ sensation, as you say, and even the more ethereal and hidden, but in a rarefied and sometimes blessed way (not always, of course.) Wonder View Drive is at the top view of Lake Hollywood, and is where Madonna lived for awhile, but then was stalked in her own driveway there, so moved immediately.

    And it really is wondrous, whatever its sinful origins. Just look at this: http://www.hollywoodknolls.org/images/Lake_View_from_Dam_jpg.jpg I was able to get about 30 feet from the Hollywood Sign–which proves to you the total surprise of the Lake. I knew almost NOBODY who lived in Los Angeles who knew about it, although Noel claimed he went there when doing a show out there. The bus drivers never heard of it, even though they took me there, and I only found it because this nice nerd on the bus heard us talking and told us where it was. http://www.hollywoodknolls.org/images/Lake_Hollywood_from_North.jpg is another view, and I have one that is even better that I’ve enlarged.

    But at the time I wrote ‘The Worship in the High Places’, I still didn’t know what they meant, constantly repeating in Kings I and II. I just found this on a site: “The regular cult of the gods took place partly in the open, partly in regular temples. In the former case the Old Testament speaks of worship ‘on high places and under every green tree’. This alludes in part to the fact that trees and groves were regarded as holy and came to mark cultic places — in areas such as Palestine and large parts of Syria which were poor in trees this was natural, since places where trees grew were bound to acquire a reputation for having a special life force. In part it points to the cult places which were to be found on hills and mountains, so called ‘high-places’ (bama). On these cultic high places there was either a stone pillar (masseba), which was a symbol for the male divinity — in most cases no doubt Baal — or a wooden pole (‘ashera) which was though of as representing the female divinity, and finally also an altar for the offering of the sacrifices.” There’s much more on it, which I’m going to read. Illuminating to say the least. You probably knew what this ‘high places’ meant, didn’t you? But even if it isn’t always Baal or phallic, high places always have a special aura.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 8 September 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  7. That Hollywood lake really is lovely. Of course the religions compete for the high places, replacing each others’ temples when they got the hot hand. Look at this church in Le Puy, built on an old pagan sight. The old trail up the hill in Antibes is similarly crowned by a chapel — surely whatever Mediterranean religion that preceded the Christians had something up there too.

    Comment by ktismatics — 8 September 2011 @ 10:26 pm

  8. It’s been frequently remarked that the Hollywood high places are reserved for the stars and moguls who are the gods of our age; likewise the Manhattan high places, the penthouse suites. Golgotha/Calvary is a high place too, but it’s a place of death as well as divinity, which mythically go hand in hand. Those who would ascend to the high places are often warned: you are making yourself gods, and you will be brought low. At the beginning of this story Bud is descending from a high place, but he never made it up very high before coming back down.

    Comment by ktismatics — 9 September 2011 @ 5:44 am

  9. Was just thinking about the NYC penthouses this morning. Susan Sontag always had to live in the penthouse of whatever building she was living in, and that indeed is the reputation–she’s proof that it sometimes just looks like more conspicuous consumption and her own brand of Tarzan-like chest-beating. But I immediately thought, ‘Yeah, she hasn’t thought through that the really highest New Manhattan places are not nearly always literally high: The most charming luxury places in town are, to my mind, Sutton Place and Beekman Place, both on the East River, but both with town houses of 4 stories, or at most 5–and as you cross the East River on a bridge or the Roosevelt Island funiculaire thing, you can see that some of them have acre-sized real lawns, unheard of elsewhere, although there are plenty of small and nice backyard gardens (I overlook about 6 of these). Which doesn’t mean that the Park Avenue co-ops, which are the most exclusive (but not for stars of entertainment, rather doctors and lawyers), might not be even more valued if they’re higher, but those have more to do with huge, spacious rooms in high-reputation buildings.

    Generally, in LA, that’s correct though, but with some exceptions: The Turner/Stompanato house on Bedford is actually on the ‘wrong side of Sunset’ and is not up the hills at all, but it’s so close (only a block away) so that’s it’s still a highly valuable property. And in 1984, on my second day of my first trip there, a NY friend who’d moved there drove me along Mulholland Drive at night and then to his smallish, but quite charming house up Beechwood Canyon–this had a fantastic view of all Hollywood and Downtown as well, just glittering. Across the street was a house that Mary Astor had turned into a chapel when she ‘found religion’ (this was after she used to talk blatantly about ‘climaxing delightfully together at noon’ with Clark Gable..), and he rented it (for startingly low rents by Manhattan standards of the time). But Nicholson’s Benedict Canyon (if he’s still in it) and Ann-Margret’s in the same area are much more rarefied, and there’s that Beverly Glen where Eddie Murphy and other billionaire-only residents live that’s just off BC, I believe. On the other hand, at Malibu, it’s usually not in the hills (although it is sometimes), but rather right on prime real estate on the beach that’s thought to be more ‘godlike’. And it’s not always the most expensive either: There’s one in Holmby Hills, between BH and Bel Air, formerly owned by Jayne Mansfield, that’s lavish and garish and you-name-it, that’s got to be worth a fortune, but that doesn’t have the airy charm that the hilltop ones have.

    That Le Puy picture knocked me out last night. I think I can see how they made their way up some paths carved into the stone, but it also looks almost like a Magritte. Much more extreme than Mt. Saint-Michel (which I’ve never seen) and St. Michael’s Mt. the ‘twin’ in Penzance, Cornwall, which I have seen, and is more modest. Le Puy is so stunning I’m startled I never heard of it, and makes me know that Italy and Greece and also Central Europe must be full of things like this.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 9 September 2011 @ 10:43 am

  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penthouse_apartment

    This isn’t very well-written, but does cover some of the basics of penthouses. I would never have known they didn’t get started till the 20s. Obviously, the ones at the top of 5th and Park prestige buildings may sometimes be the best apartments in those buildings, or usually. There was a triplex that Dustin Hoffman sold maybe 10 years ago on Central Park West that I had thought was maybe 2/3 up the San Remo, so that sometimes the several-floored apartments are not all the way at the top. You’re right, though, that they’re more the symbol of luxury in that they’re purely urban. A town house is also urban, but could, with slight alteration (and sometimes none) be a free-standing house. Some penthouse owners do use their setbacks (described in the article) for big gardens, but I’ve often seen just bare spaces unused, with a small part of the apartment on the very top, and the larger size accounted for by having two or more floors.

    I think my initial resistance to this idea (which ought to be exactly like the Harold Lloyd Mansion at the top of Benedict Canyon, but doesn’t seem quite that fantastic to me) is that I once thought ‘penthouse’ seemed like the ultimate in city living, but decided that I’d rather have a Beekman Place townhouse rather than a Fifth Ave. penthouse. If it was good enough for Johnny Carson (who had a fabulous Beekman Place house), it would be fine with me.

    Some of the wiki article is bullshit, of course, as if you could characterize penthouses by such things as ‘high end appliances’–why, they might even have garbage-disposals in the sinks…and the term penthouse IS often used (to my surprise) for apartments on the top floor that have nothing at all special about them. But even if a Park Ave. penthouse was luxurious (and it would always be), there might be equally magnificent apts. lower. A huge full-floor(s) duplex or triplex penthouse IS a magnificent palatial thing, though. Sontag’s was in a Riverside Drive building that I knew well, because of a piano teacher there, and later she had one near here in the London Terrace Apartments in Chelsea. I’m sure they were both very nice. I’ve always enjoyed being way up high here (fantastic cool drafts even on the hottest days), but it’s definitely different from a house on a hill that ascends gradually. And with those, it’s being ‘up high’, but not necessarily at the ‘very top’ of the hill. The most beautiful house which is also way up high I discovered about 3 years ago, up at Washington Heights: It’s called ‘Pumpkin House’, and is buttressed some 200 ft. of concrete on top of a hill in the heights overlooking the New Jersey Palisades, and is 3 or 4 storeys. If you see it from the front you’d have no idea that the house was anything out of the ordinary from the others. And it cost a mere $1 million, I couldn’t believe it, talking to this woman on the street there. She said she and her husband had looked at it, and it needed a lot of work. It goes way back to the 20s, I believe, and outside it the hill cascades down to lush greenery and naturalized or wild lilies (I’ve never been sure which, and couldn’t get Jack to paint the place). On the other hand, within the neighborhood at the front of it, it’s no higher than any of the other dwellings, and Washington Hgts. is more like Topanga in terms of prestige–which is to say, none. Still, I never saw any place on Park or 5th that I would have rather owned. Let me see if I can find it.


    Yeah, check it OUT. This really is fascinating, and has more than I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, the hillside seems not to have been taken in spring or summer, so you can’t see the luxuriant vegetation, but I hardly think the interior is ‘disappointing’–even though the ceilings are a bit low, that vast living room is captivating, they don’t know what they’re talking about, it reminds me of big resort hotel lobbies from the 19th century.

    It says $4 million now, which is a lot more than the woman told me, but that is very low compared to the prestige locations–and I don’t think they have anything quite like this. This has a singular quality that would make me forget about ‘prestige address’. What I like about it is that it’s a ‘high place’ but in several different ways.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 9 September 2011 @ 9:36 pm

  11. Distinctive, and the positioning on that hillside is phenomenal. Right: mahogany and marble are wonderful but… looks fine to me, I’d take it as is. I was surprised in France how often the rooftop setback accommodations were not at all lavish, often reserved for the concierge. Frequently these penthouses were not accessible directly by elevator, so the occupant would have to get off at the 6th floor or whatever and take a stairway up to the top. As an outsider it seems as though no one actually lives in Manhattan, it’s too rarefied for human occupation, too foreign even for an American to contemplate. I’m envious.

    Comment by ktismatics — 9 September 2011 @ 11:00 pm

  12. I used to think ‘alien’ despite long familiarity (mine, after, say, 20 years.) The rarefaction always is there even though it’s been diluted in the last 20 or so years, when the Rite-Aids and Bed Bath and Beyonds started sprouting up here. There are still little delis and hardware stores and corner groceries, but they’re more noticeable now because there are fewer On my first trip to Los Angeles in 1984, the exoticism seemed stronger there by then, but even that seems flattened after going there all those times since 2001. Some of the ‘crawlspace’ of IDNYC is about that alienness and foreignness, because K-Mart is not foreign, and Martha Stewart isn’t foreign unless you see her in person.

    There was a lovely Alabama girl here for awhile, when I was working at a business publications firm in the 90s, located in the very congested area of Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, and all at the lower end of the Garment District. She lived in Queens, and once said ‘I can’t even imagine living in the city [meaning Manhattan], because it would be like never leaving work’. I thought that was an interesting observation. In the old days, coming back here from a flight, you’d feel the ironclad difference of the sense of fortress immediately upon the cab’s re-entry from one of the bridges or tunnels. Less so now, to my mind. DeLillo talks about some of this stuff in ‘Cosmopolis’ that I used to be more interested in, about how these are the last buildings that will be going up, etc., and ‘digital age’, etc., but we’ll see if they’re the last. It may not matter if most of them are as ugly as the ones he was talking about, but that’s a form of Zizek-talk about the ‘dominant-virtual’ that he used to do back in the early 00’s, and that evaporated by the usual channels, as well as he just contradicts himself and people say ‘isn’t that adorable’? Which it isn’t, and he’s not adorable anyway. But his extreme critics in the bleugs are no better. I read one yesterday that I couldn’t believe, publishing a piece on the ‘frozenness in time’ of 9/11, and this was largely based on (in its final paragraph) on how the Ground Zero site was ‘unbuildable’. although written some years ago, it’s only being published in some student journal now. Although it really ought not to be allowed publication at all, and one even wonders why he’d publish it anywhere, even just as an ephimeral bleugpost–because one can talk about the media saturation or even ‘the state of exception of America’, cf. my link to NYReview if you like (mark
    Danner’s article is excellent, read it last night), or even determine that we’re still ‘frozen in time’ but not because Ground Zero hasn’t been well on its way to rebuilding fully for at least 3 years now. And, in fact, most didn’t notice that 7 WTC was already 55 storeys up by 2006, not even Frank Rich. This was not the most important building in the complex, but it did give some morale boosting, just to know that anything could get past Port Authority, Liebeskind, Silverstein, Dykstra and replacements, and the hundred others of the internecine wars; but mainly, 1 World Trade Center is up 81 stories by now, and the Memorial opened yesterday. A thesis based on 5-year-old ‘facts on the ground’ is worthless even if you could claim, in wishful dreaminess, that it’s true in some sense anyway. But even then, it’s absurd to think that the 10th Anniversary would not be much bigger than the 8th or 9th, esp. with OBL’s death, and the building actually moving apace. Frankly, it proves that people will publish anything, if they’ll publish something so out-of-date that it ITSELF is ‘frozen in time’, say 2005 or 2006. yes, there was a time when it seemed that nothing but fighting among all the agencies, architects, 9/11 families and developers would occur, but it’s simply a fact that that’s over. It’s extraordinary that theorists would be so in love with their pet theories that they didn’t even care to back them up with even the most basic evidence. Linked by that bleuger were other dreadful bleug musings, including ‘the day on which nothing happened’ (clearly an example of a not-very-bright grad student trying to sound ‘bold’ like Zizek) and ‘America had had it coming for a long time.’ In Danner’s article, you find that all the wrongdoing in terms of CIA black sites (and I hadn’t known that CIA hadn’t been involved in this aspect till I read this article, it had been the FBI before) and Guantanamo, and the other U.S. paranoias–you find out that it does work both ways, and that you can moralize about the grossness of American power, but there’s little reason for anyone except real martyrs to fool with it, and none of the truthers, for example, have that kind of nerve, they usually have nervous afflictions and have to ‘drop out’ after awhile. But skipping those insignificants, the article also points out that the intelligence has now gone so far in the other direction that, even with more threats, and growing by the year (the article is remarkably balanced, and doesn’t excuse the U.S. or the Islamist fanatics ever, it’s real journalism, which more of the theorists have little interest in, they’re too lazy for that–all of them, including Zizek: Hitchens is much better, even if wrongheaded and hotheaded often enough), the ‘perfect batting average’ is bound to give way to the increase in threats, Danner points out. I think it’s an extraordinary article, as it traces the torture of Abu Zubaydah (still in Guantanamo), but never pretends that the attacks by Islamists are not real threats (except for the ones that are more along the lines of 1% solution, I believe there was a Florida one maybe 4 years ago that fits that sort of half-suspicious, minor threat, but the Times Square one was definitely the exemplar of what is to come: That guy meant for that one to go off, and it was sheer luck that it didn’t. Danner doesn’t mention this, but that one was real. The ones they talked about this weekend were thought ‘credible’, but mainly resulted in stepped-up vehicle checking, etc. Even when I made the reservation for the Memorial in a few weeks, the rules are very strict about what you can bring on your person.) Danner’s piece,
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/oct/13/after-september-11-our-state-exception/ is the best of its kind, much like the review of Lawrence Wright’s ‘The Looming Tower’, which made me read the whole book, and occasionally the New Yorker will have something as good–Wright himself wrote a brilliant piece on Scientology in the New Yorker maybe 6months ago. Sometimes NYRB is not great, and can just be silly, e.g., there was no real reason to review ‘The Queen’ (the movie), when films aren’t usually reviewed, only to have an extreme fan go on about seeing the actual Queen once, as I remember. Plus, those ludicrous Balanchine pieces by Ms. Bentley. But no journal is perfect.

    But back to ‘Manhattan’. The new buildings or structures that are truly distinguished are few and far between, and might be a private thing, like a townhouse renovation a few blocks over that we discovered by accident, or by now, the 9/11 Memorial, which also is (1 WTC isn’t really, but that it’s up is enough.) That old sensation of ‘the alien and familiar’ at the same time is primarily there because it was there for so long, but all the big cities are being de-centered, including Paris. How could they not be, not only with communications explosions, but also outsourcing of jobs and ending up with service economies? Even Krugman wrote a thoroughly insipid op-ed about 2007 about how, with all the cheaper rents outside the city and in other cities, that the executives moving back to Manhattan somehow meant something. I don’t see that that means anything at all, except that they could afford to do it, and had some business and personal reason to do so (and that was before the crash of 2008.)

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 12 September 2011 @ 11:07 am

  13. This is an important excerpt from Danner’s article:

    “All this bespeaks not only an all-encompassing anxiety about information—about the lack of map rooms displaying the movements of armies, the maddening absence of visible, identifiable threats, the unremitting angst of making what could be life-and-death judgments based on the reading and interpreting of inscrutable signs—but also, I think, guilt over what had been allowed to happen, together with the deep-seated need to banish that guilt, to start again, cleansed and immaculate. Thus “the War on Terror”—a new policy for a new era, during which the guardians of the nation’s security could boast a perfect record: no attacks on American soil. The attacks of September 11 would be banished to a “before time” when the “legalistic” Clinton rules applied, before “the gloves came off.” The successful attack could thus be blamed on the mistaken beliefs of another time, another administration. The apocalyptic portal of September 11 made everything new, wiping out all guilt and blame.”

    Where he says ‘also’, I think, guilt over what had been allowed to happen…’ he’s clearly referring to the BUSH ignoring of the August 6, 2001 intelligence, but it’s also true that there had been warnings in July of threats to kill Bush and other world leaders. What’s interesting, and why I quoted this, is because I hadn’t known they had rationalized it this way, with this talk of getting rid of the “legalistic ‘Clinton rules'”, when many don’t think Al Gore would have ignored that one, at least (and Hillary said so, to my surprise, a few years ago.) Although there had been examples of ‘Clinton legalistic rules’, given that Clinton could have killed OBL at one point (in 1999, I think) had he not worried about civilian casualties–and this seems a little unconvincing, since to ward off his impeachment, he bombed Baghdad for a couple of days, which was clearly not based on worry about civilian casualties. Still, such considerations may have usually come into decisions, before they were dropped entirely after 9/11, with some modifications by Obama (although not all the ones he promised, most obviously the non-closing of Guantanamo.)

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 12 September 2011 @ 11:27 am

  14. Sorry, forgot to mention this as I meant to just now. The decentering of Manhattan is most evident in the ‘New Times Square’, which has nothing of the Old Times Square in it, and is thoroughly ‘un-New-Yorkish’. It’s just loud and bright and like Las Vegas. Since that’s the traditional center, it was really basically downhill since it was fully erected. Most blame this on Giuliani (and he certainly supports it in every way), but it actually goes back to Koch and Cuomo in the early 80s. Giuliani just continued it, with his sterilization procedures, and I never walk down 42nd Street if I can help it, it’s just too depressing. I think one could say that there isn’t a thing ‘rarefied’ or ‘foreign’ about that, just videos on exterior building walls, lights that are way too bright, noise and crowds of tourists being all over-cheery. Dreadful place, and even around the corner, where a little seediness has been left, there’s almost no character left. This is the worst example of the loss of what was distinctive about the city, and the worst omen, therefore.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 12 September 2011 @ 11:33 am

  15. The European cosmopoli are also the capital cities of their countries. I’m no student of such matters, but I believe this is because the nation-states grew up around the cities. While Paris and London are international, I suspect that they also embody the essence of the nation, not in a provincial way but as a kind of defining urbanity of Frenchness or Englishness. It seems that all educated French or English people have to put in an obligatory stretch of living in the capital, so that they might be imbued with their own nationally distinct form of worldliness. New York is different: not the capital city, not even really an essentially defining American-ness to it. To people in Europe NYC probably does define America, along with LA, but to Americans not so much.

    Growing up in the North I was always wary of traveling to the South, that the redneck cops would spot my license plate, pull me over, abuse me, rob me, and throw me in jail. Even for someone growing up in Chicago — “the second city” — NYC had a forbidding character to it as well, a giant leap up in size and worldliness that exposes anyone who goes there as a hick. I remember long ago driving through Manhattan with a friend, Illinois plates on my car, crawling through midday traffic on a hot summer day, when I caught the eye of a beautiful and elegant woman who was walking parallel to my car, probably on her way back to work after lunch. She gave us the once-over and a smile of supreme self-confidence, then she said in a timbre and attitude resonant of Bacall: “Kind of far from home, aren’t you, boys?” On she strutted, never looking back, forever crystallizing for me some essence of Manhattan. LA? A much more familiar-seeming place than NYC, despite its vastness, probably because American cities have increasingly come to look like LA. NYC remains unique, at least for me. When I was there a few years ago it still possessed that arrogant and outgoing luster, even if for someone who has lived there a long time it may have seen some of its distinctiveness being homogenized.

    Comment by ktismatics — 12 September 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  16. That NYC arrogance you describe is not unique at all, it’s identical to the way Amsterdam sees itself in relation to the rest of Holland. Kind of logical innit since NYC is ”New Amsterdam”, Ever since I migrated I actually came to loathe this with all my senses, because I was suddenly put in the position of a hick – after leaving a big city where I was the urbane sophistique (in Serbian terms) – and feeling it on my own skin, realized how stupid and loathsome it is, to judge people on account of their urbaneness or whatever.

    Furthermore NYC only has that ‘worldly’ charm while you’re a tourist. I spent a longer time there, and after the spectacle subsided, I started noticing how NYC is all about money. Neither a worldly nor a pleasant feeling.

    Comment by Center of Parody — 13 September 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  17. The arrogance is alluring to the boy who’s far from home, who imagines a tacit invitation being issued by the glamorous woman. He also imagines that, if he were to move to NYC, he too would acquire this urbane glamor, not just as gilt facade but as a kind of bronzed annealing in the fire. This worldly allure, the promise sometimes kept but more often broken — it’s a common enough cinematic theme, though more often we see it staged in LA than in NYC.

    All about money? It’s interesting because Chicago has long been characterized in the popular imagination as a pragmatic, commercial, working city whereas New York is about art and style. But no question: New York is the financial capital of America as well as the artistic one. Driving through the Midwest recently, passing hundreds of miles of corn fields ready for harvest, it’s possible to envision the constantly beating rural heart of America that occupies another aspect of the national mythology. It too is about the money and the price of corn being up 70% from last year. Is it ALL about the money? Well, it’s at least partly about the money.

    Comment by ktismatics — 13 September 2011 @ 5:30 pm

  18. One notable feature of the Netherlands for me is that I find Dutch people’s English more understandable than English people’s English.

    Comment by ktismatics — 13 September 2011 @ 6:07 pm

  19. Baudrillard said NYC is the center, and the rest suburbs. You’ve convinced me that that’s so, even though I already knew it, but prefer to sound modest. But you insisted. So, frankly, yes, and Baudrillard added ‘this in no way takes away from the charm of the suburbs’ (every place else). Your points about it ‘not being a capital’ in the usual sense have always struck me as well, since it’s not even a state capital (although it was the U.S. capital a year or two back in the 18th). New York is the capital of the world until further notice. Even London knows it, and it’s the only competitor. It’s the financial capital, even with competition from the ‘City of London’ (the financial district, for those who don’t know that London has the City of Westminster as well, etc.), and people look to the Dow everyday even more than they do London, and certainly more than Hong Kong or Tokyo.

    It’s the cultural capital in some senses, because there’s so much left from all the years of accumulation. But it’s ‘being all about money’ is total bullshit. You’re right to say it’s about ‘art and style’, that’s why that woman could even pull that off. Not just Didion (who loves NYC by now), but also Paul Theroux (who doesn’t) know that there’s a ‘Manhattan attitude’, Delillo calls it an off-hand vaunt, and there’s no question of that, such that even lower-downs who are native can use it on higher-ups who ‘don’t know their way around’.

    The ‘New Amsterdam’ analogy is worthless and doesn’t mean anything, of course. New York became this way for many lucky reasons, and it doesn’t lose that ‘worldliness’ the longer you live here; it only gets to be something you are more aware of, and more protective.

    This: “When I was there a few years ago it still possessed that arrogant and outgoing luster”

    is still true in many ways, but “even if for someone who has lived there a long time it may have seen some of its distinctiveness being homogenized.” is as well, because until the 90s we didn’t have Duane Reades everywhere, and k-Marts, but rather corner drugstores and ONE Bloomie’s and ONE Saks and ONE Tiffany’s, which were not located elsewhere.

    As usual, you have a guest who talks about something he has no idea about, from brief visits here, and thinks he went beyond ‘being a tourist’ in that time he spent in BROOKLYN, for chrissake,. Arrogant? Maybe, but earned. I’ve spent 42 years here, and until about 10 years ago, I felt like a tourist myself. That sense of ‘always familiar/always alien’ does not leave you until you think of that as the normal. Those opinions expressed were of someone who was merely a ‘slightly longer-term tourist’, and of course it ‘wore out’ and he talks about ‘the spectacle subsiding’, which one can be merciful toward only by saying it’s like ‘getting used to the dailiness of skyscrapers instead of prairies’ is total bullshit, and has nothing to do with what living here and becoming a part of the fabric of a place is. In that, it is not different from other places, even if you also want to compare it to Los Angeles, Paris, or other big cities. One becomes a part of rural as well as urban environments, and it’s always the case that an urban culture is the one most highly prized by any nation or cultural entity. This can be Stockholm or Rome or Athens or London. What I’d say the uniqueness of New York is, or rather what gives it its status was the world’s most powerful city (which it probably is if any city is, and that’s why more people are resentful of it, most likely, although Paris is up there that way too) is the fact of TWO huge business districts: 1) Wall Street and govt. downtown and 2) corporate and entertainment and advertising and tourism in Midtown. But there are also slightly uncanny things like ‘Why is the UNITED NATIONS located here, and not another city?’ So that, in another sense, the only other city that could be said to be ‘as powerful’ is not London of Paris of Shanghai or Hong Kong, but rather Washington, because that’s the central government. But Wall Street is NOT there, the financial power is here, and even though there is corporate power DT and Midtown, it is obviously not ‘all money’. That’s a better way of describing what modern Sao Paolo is.

    And what you say about Chicago is true: It is known for ‘hard work’ and ‘work ethic’, just as New York is known for the sybaritic and hedonistic and romantic, although for the pure ‘sybarite’, and dynamic artistic creativity, I’d say there’s more of it in the air of Los Angeles, having been there 10 times in as many years.

    So, now that you’ve insisted, I’ve followed up on your points. Certain things, as pop culture, and television have definitely gone to LA, and movies long have been. What I’ve primarily complained about here and in the book is the loss of Broadway and theater as a cornerstone of New York culture: It’s still there, but it used to be daily conversational currency, you talked about it all the time. All the classical culture organizations are greater here than anywhere else (possibly excluding certain ballet and music operations in Paris and London), and they never lose their backing except temporarily, and Lincoln Center gets renovated even in the darkest times, even when it doesn’t need it, as I described on my Juilliard thread.

    I do find that it seems strange that economic power in the form of Wall Street is concentrated in NYC instead of Washington. Advertising and all big business (when it can still afford the real estate) likes to be here, as prestige. When it can’t afford it, it moves to New Jersey (as Exxon) or to other cities altogether. But the Stock Exchange, forget it. That’s not going to move, not the ratings agencies, the high finance temples (whether dead or alive, whether Merrill or the other big banks, or Lehman, now dead, or Goldman Sachs–curious, Goldman was one of the places that literally had to worry about flooding in the recent hurricane, it was at a low level, and the rebuiloding of the commercial buildings of the WTC site proves that New York is seen as such a symbol of power that it had to be defiantly rebuilt; that’s why that incredible article about how ‘it was possible to build it’ ought to have been deep-sixed, since it is simply N/A. But throughout the leftist bleugosphere, I have seen nothing but rank stupidity of a sort that even leaves their previous efforts wanting (at attempts to go even lower. It proves that people will do anything to get published, even if the facts are blatantly wrong, nevermind all the student-y crap I’ve seen over the last few days. I will give Harman one thing; he is not acting like a baby in his NYC trip, and linked to a good WTC history article, that had some things in it about the Japanese architect I didn’t know either. As for the rest of the bleugers, it’s all been absolutely egregious, stupid and sophomoric–and they’re supposed to be finished with undergrad work, aren’t they? Jesus, the stuff has been shit I’ve seen.)

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 13 September 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  20. “that’s why that incredible article about how ‘it was possible to build it’ ought to have been deep-sixed, since it is simply N/A.”

    I meant that article about how it seemed ‘impossible to build it’, and ‘unbuildable’.. I cannot imagine anyone publishing that anywhere when it’s so obviously out of date, so completely without any means of proving how ‘we’re frozen in time’. Alors, prove it some other way, a lot of others have tried, but it isn’t because they are publishing in 2011 how the WTC site is no longer being built.

    I think the unutterable resentment of the successful 10th anniv. memorial is almost entirely based on the fact that it was so successful. The emphasis is that 9/11 led to Iraq, etc., which seems to imply that, if you’re really ‘compassionate’, 9/11 was actually a ‘deserved’ event, as the guest here wrote (only wanted more victims), and that it ‘didn’t matter’ since Iraq was a ‘bad thing’ (you and I both agree that that didn’t follow in any logical way from 9/11, but those who therefore think that means you let Bin Laden off the hook are just ‘so student’. There is a such thing as having a ‘stupid student attitude’.) And one can see this reasoning on the surface: It seems that, since Bush used 9/11 to quickly go into Iraq, that there ought to be so much American guilt that catching OBL ought not to matter so much for those involved with ‘real humaneness’, which always translates ‘body count’. In that case, why ‘free the Jena 6?’ That’s not very many bodies. That’s what was so great about Obama’s very specific (and that’s well-known) determination to get OBL, which Bush wanted to do as well, but wouldn’t concentrate on it hard enough: He went PAST the guilt of Iraq and decided ‘well, that doesnt’ have anything to do with the sins of Iraq’, and it didn’t. He was 100% right about that, and also to kill him, because that would have been the cause celebre for another 20 years. In that, Krauthammer was, for once, 100% right: It would have been insane to just capture OBL. And this accounts, along with the successful rebuilding at Ground Zero, for the sour attitude among all the far-leftist bleugers. The previous anniversaries always had an atmosphere of the incomplete, the impotent about them. This one had nothing of the kind. That’s why I linked Harry’s Place, just as a protest against the idiocy of the far-left resenters. They are only interested in things to complain about indefinitely. They didn’t want Obama to succeed in anything, because they’re not wired that way. As it is, one of them said that those who got very involved with the debt-ceiling talks would have had to be exposed to TV all the time, blatantly bullshit. I don’t have TV, and I was totally wired to it; it was frightening, and the Tea Party is frightening. But the Marxists don’t even talk about American politics and policy as though they are legitimately existing things. For this reason, I have no more sympathy for them, and their tuition fees don’t amount to a hill of beans. We’ve always had to pay. England is full of lazy, on-the-dole drunks, and Thatcher got some of that deadwood out, but they’re just spoiled from their legacy of Empire, which they’d never admit. That’s why when you read the British bleugs, it’s frankly astonishing how provincial they’ve become; you’d think they didn’t even know that they are, and have long been, a minipower. Secretly, I believe they resent this extremely, and try to manage Americans as spite for their own bad fortune (understandable, but they’re going to get nowhere with it.)

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 13 September 2011 @ 7:11 pm

  21. I read a good piece somewhere recently by someone who had been smeared for having pointed out possible motivations for Al Qaeda to have killed all those people, as if he were justifying the deed. Is the prosecuting attorney accused of selling out if he looks for the criminal’s motives? No: motive establishes premeditated intent, which is part of establishing guilt. Paradoxically 9/11 may have peeled away some of the spectacle in which New York is always immersed; the devastation established the humanity of New Yorkers for millions of Americans who had seen the place only on TV and who find it a threatening alien place. It’s more in retrospect that I can watch the towers collapsing with a combined morbid aestheticism and engineering fascination. Watching it on TV while it was happening, when I had no idea those massive structures could possibly come down, my first thought was: all those people just died, they couldn’t have gotten out in time. I didn’t have to know them personally to feel the sorrow of it, and to dismiss the empathic response as voyeurism or jingoism is just wrong, at least for many. Like you I didn’t see it as justification to invade Iraq, but that doesn’t diminish the horror of the event in its own right. “Oh the humanity!”: the Hindenberg went down before I was born, but the famous announcement conveys the real anguish the man felt while watching the disaster unfold.

    Comment by ktismatics — 13 September 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  22. “Paradoxically 9/11 may have peeled away some of the spectacle in which New York is always immersed; the devastation established the humanity of New Yorkers for millions of Americans who had seen the place only on TV and who find it a threatening alien place.”

    I heard more of this early on, esp. in 2002, and there was a lot of talk about ‘New York becoming a part of America’, which also bears out many of the rest of your assumptions. I hadn’t thought of it so much because I felt that this was becoming apparent in small steps in the 80s and in a much bigger, and perhaps often even desolate and bewildering way, in the 90s. Throughout the 90s, there was a sense of most of what those of us who had come for something in particular in the 60s and 70s was rapidly disappearing. Since it’s built the way it is, the look doesn’t change that much, but it was in a very minor and brief temp job in 1988 when I first really felt that sensation: A very old building on Franklin Street was transformed into a hardcore computer business, with classes given in things by now so outmoded they probably even have an antique/collectible nerd subculture, replete with websites. If it was in the original building (as Moody’s, or one of the jobs I did for Dean Witter in the WTC), it didn’t seem strange like that. So, in a sense, I almost see the ‘opening up of New York to the rest of America by 9/11’ as a continuation of the different rhythms you could already feel and sense in the new-style department stores, all of which had a greater sense of flatness and impersonality than places like the original Bloomie’s and the ‘only’ Tiffany’s and B. Altman and Bonwit Teller and the Plaza and even the groceries that were local and the TV ads for used cars on Long Island had–there’s no such thing as an owner of a car dealer deciding to ‘get on TV’ here and advertise his store. And BB&Beyond is probably the same as Wal-Mart and Home Depot everywhere–the famous ‘bad customer service’ seems to have come of age around those times too. A specific moment occurred about 1995 when I became fully aware of this too: At Duane Reade Drugs in the Financial District (one of many there), the clerks were entirely more listless and half-asleep than they had been at the more human-sized stores; it was the same at Staples. That seems to have been whipped into something that by now is too frenetic, such that people are now running into each other routinely in places like Trader Joe’s (especially) and Whole Foods. But since these aren’t specifically New Yorkish outfits, I’d have to see what they’re like in other cities. I do know that Ralph’s in Los Angeles (an old but still thriving grocery chain) is infinitely more pleasurable to shop in than a single supermarket here–there’s not even any comparison. That does, though, have to do with the ease of extra space…yes, now that I think of it, the NY versions are bound to seem more literally dangerous with people speeding through them and staff members constantly chiding each other about proper attitude, because there was a Rite-Aid near Secret Motel that was at least 8 times the size of the biggest I’ve seen here–lawnmowers, appliances, pots and pans, as well as wine, school supplies, you name it. There was never a sense of fighting for a line the way there always is here (even after 2008.) Somehow, in the charmlessness of a boring Rite-Aid, this is a New Yorkism I don’t savour at all. So that there really does seem to be an even greater speed than NY is famous for, but it’s not in a pleasant form; you can experience it just going down the street, and having to spend most of your time not running into people. At Trader Joe’s recently, I was run into by three speeding people, but the first two didn’t amount to anything, but they were the more apologetic. The third a girl was just not paying any attention and half-asleep and really hit my ankle (sandals) hard, and it really hurt, but she paid little attention.

    But the tourist-oriented B’way shows I so tenaciously (and often boringly) nagged about in Book II were a beginning back in the 80s as well: Before that, tourists came to see B’way shows that were made for a New York audience in mind, and that made them exotic and exciting to see. That all stopped and they just started overtly making them spectacles for the tourists. Of course, since the classical lively arts are more tradition-bound, they didn’t change much (a Carnegie Hall concert schedule is little different from what it was 40 years ago), B’way is a New York-oriented thing but that is part of the very roots of the city, This means the musicals, and I’ve only seen one good one in the last 40 years, and think that was a total fluke. So that my point on that is that the Broadway show, one of the mainstays of the ‘wonderment’ out-of-towners always came to see (at least one during a trip) became accessible, easy things, and while the stagecraft was made as spectacular as possible, they lost all their glamour (which you can even hear on the cast albums.) I actually think Hollywood started going in this direction in about the mid-00s, so that there was little new of interest coming out, but as you say, it’s the intensity and nerves and fear-inducing images people have of NY that most out-of-towners find foreign. I did notice, though, in 2001, that LA has a far more physically sinister feel than NY does by now, and that’s why so much ‘New York music’ sounds ‘electronic’ rather than ‘electric’.

    I never did quite see the ‘beauty’ that people talk about from the 9/11 attacks, although the 2nd plane does have this strange ‘fluidity’ going through the building like that. It also took me a long time to realize the number of people who got out of the buildings, we couldn’t focus on the escapees for what seemed an unusually long time. Being so close, but not close enough, one of my problems with seeing it was that I couldn’t see ‘all those people’ or ‘any of those people’, even while the radio said they were jumping out. I was aware of this, and how strange it was–that for a long time I thought of it more as the loss of the buildings than the loss of the people.

    But there was a strange holding on to ‘New York Attitude’ after a short while. In a week or so, there developed a hypersexual atmosphere that was strong that it was written up in a lot of papers and mags. And it was true. A few days afterward, a couple across the hall from me had sex right out in the hall, obviously more than a touch drunk. This NEVER happens. I left them a note ‘Thank you for your X-rated behaviours’, and left it unsigned, because I had not minded what they were doing at all, but I knew everybody else would. And Central Park was totally hot within a few weeks, we were fucking and sucking right out in the open in the Ramble, and it was exciting, I do remember. But sometimes outsiders would get annoyed that we hadn’t given up ‘enough’ of our New York attitude, so that in dread Pittsburgh, where I played a concert under the auspices of the dread Cambridge bitch, I didn’t really get into this pig (who made a point of how he’d skipped my concert because he had to go to a brunch that he SHOULD have skipped) talking about how ‘you New Yorkers all turned out to be such pussycats’, so became unpleasant to him and my hostesse on principle, so that they both concluded that ‘yes, you are MEAN’. That was more lke it.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 13 September 2011 @ 9:18 pm

  23. Yes there is this converse of NYC’s becoming more American, a stripping of distinctiveness which is not unlike the complaint of French people faced with the propagation of McDo’s and ugly shoes and obesity and so on. I don’t think I’ve experienced the vaunted New York meanness: it feels more to me like brash directness, but people seem friendly enough, even chatty. Chicago is this way too; also London — people often go out of their way to be helpful to the obvious stranger. The purported Parisian meanness eludes me as well. LA being so spread out it’s hard to experience the people directly. I’m not so sure it’s a specific coldness of LA: most American cities feel remote and alienating. European cities are much more attractive to me for the most part, more directly experienced.

    The post-9/11 hypersexuality you report is hard to understand. Was it, do you think, part of an intensified connectedness among New Yorkers in the wake of 9/11? I don’t think it happens after blizzards or hurricanes, which also get people out on the street talking to each other, but those aren’t death-dealing on the same scale. Maybe a nihilism entered into through so close a brush with catastrophe, a foretaste of the apocalyptic?

    Comment by ktismatics — 13 September 2011 @ 9:55 pm

  24. I think it’s more related to wartime hypersexuality, but not quite to the point of rape whe all-out chaos takes over. The sense of chaos caused by some catastrophic and totally unexpected event (in this case) made more people lose inhibition, and a kind of sexual chaos seems ‘fun’ and racy. This isn’t at all an unknown phenomenon in war-torn places, though; it’s not just rapes by pillaging soldiers in villages and bursting into homes, but you can easily enough imagine Paris during the German occupation, and the sense of ‘sin’ is part of it, and the sense of ‘relieving the tension’ (which was definitely all over the streets the first few weeks, people on cellphones weren’t talking about anything else they weren’t talking about looking for jobs). I’ve even read about the way hostilities and senses of danger definitely rouse the libido, it probably has to do with a sense of safety and pleasure in the midst of this chaos and fear; and there is a sense of ‘holing up’ as we did hear with the closing down of the city during the hurricane that had that strange ‘coziness’ to it, but was not particularly sexually charged. The earthquake was something else, and I’ve never been more personally terrified–it was one of the most alone sensations I’ve ever experienced.

    It’s not really ‘meanness’, but there is definitely a such thing as New York Rudeness and Parisian Rudeness. That’s why it’s made so much over when somebody returns a wallet or something here, or when a hotelier in Paris, who had no room for me there, let me store my big suitcases while I roamed the Latin Quarter (that wouldn’t be strange in Switzerland, but it definitely was not typical for Paris.) I enjoyed Parisian rudeness in department stores and markets, because I thought it was fun to be rude back to them, and they thoroughly respected that. I’m glad I was exposed to it at such an early age, as they are definitely snobs. Los Angeles coldness has to do with being a REAL ‘money city’ in some ways, but sometimes it seems as friendly as a small town, but it’s important to remember that it definitely isn’t one–and NEVER be without money. That’s part of what you were talking about as ‘primitive and surreal’ at the same time. In offices here, there is unquestionably a very specific Jewish rudeness: I know, having worked in so many offices where I was the only, or almost the only, Gentile. The Garment District is OBLIGATORY JEWISH RUDENESS–they couldn’t get through the day without it, and have no idea there is any other way. You just can’t talk about it here.

    What I’d agree with is that London is surprisingly much more polite than any other big city I’ve ever been in, although if pushed, they can be total beasts (as a cab driver who decided to sacrifice his tip, when a friend and I coudn’t figure out the currency properly, and just yelled ‘GET OUT!’) but it was noticeably rarer. And people going out of their way as they do to be courteous and helpful as is done in the South and Midwest was much more noticeable throughout England (in my experience) and Switzerland than it was in Paris. There was occasional rudeness in Tahiti and once in Lausanne, but when New York was ‘more itself’, there was more of the ‘fabled rudeness’. Or it could just have to do with that I’ve lived here so long I rarely experience a New York rudeness, since I probably do so much of it automatically myself, cuss a lot, and am much more paranoid the minute I get out of here. I was incredibly rough on that woman who lied to us at the Pierre about the prix fixe, and I wanted her to know that she was not going to bullshit us with ‘this is the Pierre, so it would be unseemly to talk about money’. I told Christian, who wanted me to back off and just deal with the outrageous trick that had just been played on us and that we were supposed to ‘prove ourselves gracious and elegant’ by accepting such shit, that I couldn’t have done that when we had gone to a comparable place 12 years previously, in that same part of the midtown East Side; that that was the kind of thing that usually only people who grew up here would do in such a place. Although I’m plenty good at it at more modest places, by now if it’s a luxurious place, that’s why I came, but not to be treated like shit by some graceless hostess who didn’t belong in the job to begin with. I don’t know what she was doing there, would have been better off as an office manager making sure no secys. stole any toilet paper from the Ladies’ Room or any ballpoints weren’t labelled, etc.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 13 September 2011 @ 10:42 pm

  25. you’re really ‘compassionate’, 9/11 was actually a ‘deserved’ event, as the guest here wrote (only wanted more victims)

    No what I wrote was that 9/11 was NOT AN EVENT – not even as symbolism of ”the decline of American power” or whatever the world press made out of it over the years.
    Nobody in Holland got worked up, because you see in Europe nobody really likes Americans except as a money milking cow. In fact there was paradoxically more understanding in Serbia – I remember my mom telling me that she felt sorry for the victims, that they were just like us during the 1990s, looking for their loved ones candle in hand. Which only goes to show that you can realistically have real feelings only for something that allows you to identify with it.

    You know further how I feel about ”public sentiment” – I mean, pretending for the cameras that you are grief-struck and heart-broken because some strange people two thousand miles away fell off a building. It’s the most pathetic of gestures, it’s just like Sontag going to Sarajevo to play the theater of the absurd so that war victims may be enlightened philosophically on their existential condition. I feel the same way about World War Two commemorations in Holland; when the ”moment of silence” comes, I usually let out a loud fart or belch signifying my profound disrespect for the dead.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 3:26 am

  26. In France I certainly experienced shopkeepers and waiters who didn’t follow the adage that the customer is always right. Do these shoes look good on me? No, madame, those are awful, but perhaps these. And for dessert I’ll have the chocolate cake. If you want chocolate then you must have this other dessert instead, it is much better. Some find it rude; I find it professional and helpful. What’s also true — and maybe we’ve discussed this before — is that Americans walk into a shop and don’t exchange greetings with the shopkeeper, heading straight for the merchandise. This is a very rude gesture from the French perspective. I encountered a more reserved public persona in France and not just in Paris: people are more likely to leave you alone unless there is some reason to interact, something in common. It could be regarded as rude or cold, but I think it’s courteous and a bit shy. It’s like the common complaint that French people refuse to speak English to you. Some of this might be a resentment that English rather than French has become the lingua franca, but I found that if I made even the slightest effort to speak French the other person would almost invariably switch to English. Partly it’s an appreciation of my having made the attempt, but to a considerable extent it’s a confidence-builder: if this person presumes to attempt French, speaking it so poorly, he will surely not think my English is so bad after all. This lack of self-assurance goes back to school days, where in France even perfection rarely merits any sort of commendation from the teacher. American teachers are much quicker to praise even the most unpromising of students.

    I didn’t find myself shunned as an American in Europe, though I think many Americans are afraid this is the sort of reaction they’re likely to encounter. Now of course it’s possible people were just being nice to me in person, whereas behind my back they were discussing what a shit I am. But people do this anyway, don’t they, regardless of nationality? I did find myself in conversation being asked to represent the American perspective on this and that, which one never really does while in America surrounded by only Americans. Maybe this is a benefit of blog conversations: the international flavor.

    As for compassion being predicated solely on identification with the victim, I think that’s true. It’s also a reason why identity politics is problematic. Do I feel the pain of the Iraqis and Afghanis, identifying with them in their suffering? Or do I identify them with the terrorists who killed Americans, and so I feel my revenge aroused as I watch the bombs explode and the body count grow? I suppose we could try to cultivate the sensitivity of our empathy genes through systematic multicultural exposure and so on, or just go ahead and base political commitments on visceral passions. One of the central OOO debating points is the relative importance of norms versus alliances, of truth/beauty/justice versus consensus/allure/power.

    Surely the public sentiment of 9/11 was cultivated by the politicians and the media in order to arouse both identification with the victims and hatred for the perpetrators. With Al Qaeda being identified not just as a specific fringe movement but as a diffuse tendency through the Arab world, it became easier to diffuse the hatred, fueling the rush to war. Do I believe that the Americans purposely let Bin Laden get away when they presumably had him cornered in the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier? Perhaps, although it’s difficult to close off such a wide expanse of terrain against movements of only a handful of people. Still, it was more strategically useful in the war effort to keep the enemy diffuse rather than zeroing in on specific criminals or terrorists. By killing Bin Laden the desire for revenge is fulfilled, the passion for war exhausted. So why hasn’t the killing of Bin Laden stopped the wars? I think the wars have long since exhausted the passion and have become bureaucratic, running on machinery rather than emotion.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 6:05 am

  27. A ciné-musique moment if you will:

    “This is Station Zero. If you have not already been reduced to nothing, don’t worry, you soon will be. This is always the lesson of the Trail, is it not? All the money’s gone, nowhere to go, but oh! That magic feeling. Abbey Road, you know? But here, tell me a Tale.”

    For now it stands.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 10:12 am

  28. “Do I believe that the Americans purposely let Bin Laden get away when they presumably had him cornered in the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier? Perhaps, although it’s difficult to close off such a wide expanse of terrain against movements of only a handful of people.”

    I’m fairly sure you didn’t when I mentioned that Roger said that that was ‘his conspiracy theory. I don’t believe it for a minute, it would have been a huge coup, and that’s not the kind of thing you lose except for not being able to do it. There’s no question that would have made Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld heroes.

    “So why hasn’t the killing of Bin Laden stopped the wars?”

    It’s too early to have expected them to stop immediately once you’re deep into them. Pakistan, at least, is in better odour for having killed one of the Al Qaida top guys recently, and it’s often unnoticed that most of the Islamist attacks are on THEM, not the West. They did lie like hell just to get the money from us, and obviously knew Bin Laden’s whereabouts, so they deserve to have shit to pay to a degree; although since they’re also in the line of fire of both sides, it’s thoroughly understandable.

    “Surely the public sentiment of 9/11 was cultivated by the politicians and the media in order to arouse both identification with the victims and hatred for the perpetrators”.

    I’m afraid that is an astonishing thing to say, to the point of coming across absurd, unless you meant sometning subtle that isn’t clear, because such ‘cultivation’ was hardly necessary, it was cut-and-dried. Naturally, even Americans who hate New York would at least identify with the Pentagon people and the Pennsylvania crash victims. In this case, the politicians and media just ‘made much of it’. But that part was normal. Cultivated WHAT public sentiment? It was there the minute the attacks were seen worldwide, just as the cheering Palestinians hardly needed their own politicians to goad them on. And the perpetrators deserve to be hated, I am not some Marxist bullshitter who is going to talk about how the ‘imperium deserved it’. And neither are the Marxists living in the ‘imperium’. Someone at Harry’s Place pointed out to ‘lenin’ that his ridiculing of and mocking of deaths in one part of Israel was thoroughly without any compassion, and of course they were right: He doesn’t care who dies if it’s in the name of his own ideology, which IS Muslim-oriented by now. This Marxism in the service of Muslims is very silly, considering Shariah Law, the persecution of women, any slight sexual infringement by stoning—and then demanding political correctness in terms of what Westerners can say about race, sex, etc. Furthermore, there are obvious homophobes in these bleugs, but that doesn’t bother me personally any more than racism, sexism, or the rest except that the inconsistency doesn’t make much sense: Homosexuals are now supposed to be ‘married’ when possible, respectful of hetero norms and not promiscuous, they are supposed to be monogamous, and the prototype is the balding, squat nice gay men who talk about their ‘cute gayness’ to newly groomed ‘liberal straights’. You will find this is just as true of all these Marxist bleugers as much as it is of the usual status quo, mostly conservative, establishment.

    “With Al Qaeda being identified not just as a specific fringe movement but as a diffuse tendency through the Arab world, it became easier to diffuse the hatred, fueling the rush to war.”

    This was indeed done to some degree, but it’s not nearly the only Islamist terrorist group, as Wright’s book ‘The Looming Tower’ points out in great detail, especially regarding Egypt. I don’t see that that’s especially accurate even so: What the government falsely did was associate Al Qaida with Saddam Hussein, who had no alliance with them whatever; Cheney was especially adamant on this, and would just stonewall, even though he knew he was lying. I don’t recall any widespread identification of ‘Al Qaida with Islam’, and there was always much talk, even among the most conservative-stupid types of the ‘moderate Muslim’, although this is always mocked by the Marxists, who have, in fact, defended Al Qaeda itself all the way down the line. When they haven’t specifically, they’ve just ignored it as unimportant, a secondary matter to defeating all Western imperialism. That’s why Hitchens’s and Amis’s anti-Islamism is very important, when you have such idiots as these, who cannot even recognize Al Qaeda as the perpetrators. But Al Qaeda hasn’t been defeated, they just don’t have the power to do a big strike. A truck bomb will appear here and there, I’m sure, or something like that. But the 1993 WTC bombing was also Islamist, and there is some relative of the Sheikh from Jersey City mosque who was one of the masterminds of 9/11 to make one of the tie-ins. And why wouldn’t there be this identification? That was only the most spectacular Al Qaeda hit. They’d already done the ones in Africa and Saudi Arabia, and the USS Cole in Yemen.

    The U.S. Govt. was rushing to war with Iraq, but the Afghanistan War isn’t the same. But the Afghan War was begun even before the ‘escape from Torah Borah’ of bin Laden, and quickly finessed in the terms that applied then. Since then, we’ve seen a bigger mess there, but that war I haven’t followed closely in its details.

    As for CoP, he did write that “The death toll was a little disappointing; I expected more carnage, and maybe also some splatter shots of the falling victims.” on his own bleug. If standards of civility mean one cannot even address the person who said something elsewhere, then I’ll leave this conversation to the two of you. The NOT AN EVENT is exactly like what Adam Kotsko wrote, sounding almost as ‘Wild and crazy and brilliant’ as Zizek with ‘The Day that Nothing Happened’, and this refers to Badiou as definer of what ‘event’ means, I suppose. Except for a few theory bleugers, nobody gives a shit what Badiou’s take on 9/11 or anything else is, in terms of defining what ‘event’ means.

    “Nobody in Holland got worked up, because you see in Europe nobody really likes Americans except as a money milking cow.”

    That’s total bullshit, insufferable and stupid.

    As I said, I’ll drop out of this if John is going to allow you to do your usual shit. Your remarks are taken seriously by nobody. I fully admit having no respect whatever for anything you say. When you said you ‘wanted more carnage and bodies’, you meant it–how else tie literally everything into the only thing that has ever ‘told the truth’, namely ‘Serbian Film’. So stop addressing me, unless you do it on your own bleug. I don’t care what you say there, no matter how stupid.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 10:20 am

  29. The “usual shit,” meaning personal attacks and ridicules, will be deleted. Opinions, however, may be freely stated and with equal freedom identified as stupid bullshit. And this opinion — ““The death toll was a little disappointing; I expected more carnage, and maybe also some splatter shots of the falling victims” — is repugnant.

    No, I don’t believe that the US top brass gave the order to give Bin Laden a free pass out of Tora Bora. I do think it’s conceivable; I just find it extremely unlikely. Even if Bin Laden had been captured or killed, that wouldn’t have put an end to Al Qaeda — as evidenced by the distributed network of operatives that pulled off the WTC job. But I suspect that the marketing people in the Pentagon spent considerable effort coming up with Bush’s catchphrase “War on Terror.” Not war on Al Qaeda, or on terrorists, but on Terror — a diffuse evil that can pop up anywhere, that the US military will chase down everywhere. The sympathy with victims and hatred for perps was, as you say, spontaneous and visceral. But it was played by Bush/Cheney to promote their own ends after the fact, which included the Iraq invasion more than a year later as another front in the War on Terror.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 10:40 am

  30. I didn’t find myself shunned as an American in Europe,

    well I’m sure in direct interactions ”on the ground” you were not shunned, as people are people anywhere you go. But the general view is of profound disinterest in America, who is just being a bully all the time and shrieking something vulgar from their faraway balcony. The Dutch furthermore see New York and America generally as a toy that they once liked and played with, but then sold to the Indians for peanuts, once they got bored. I remember once having to defend New York in front of this arrogant Dutch engineer who was telling me that the entire JFK system was set up by the Dutch. But I generally agree that nothing was ever really invented in the States, it’s all European brains being re-sold by nouveaux riche.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 10:42 am

  31. John, I don’t think there’s really ‘French rudeness’ as such, but a year there and 42 here does make me know that there is a kind of big-city rudeness. Maybe I can convince you by saying that it is often quite well-deserved by the rubes. There are just different styles of it in New York and Paris, and the reserve of which you speak is a different thing, they are actually being helpful when they speak like that. Christian, whose French is perfect, even finds the Parisians ‘a bit severe’. In fact, there IS no reason they shouldn’t speak English to you if their English is much better than your French. I always started with French, and appreciated it when they would ‘rescue me’ if I got stuck on something. It was definitely more relaxed in Lausanne, where nobody ever laughed at a grammatical error, but I never spoke French really well but once–in Tahiti, where I was fluent after not speaking it for many years, and that had to do with the gentleness of the place. I recall not taking one of the tours in Bora Bora and speaking French the whole afternoon with one of the girls who ran Chez Nono, the bungalow-hotel in which I stayed. It was the only time I didn’t resist it somewhat.

    Of course, there is small-town rudeness too, but that usually goes by other names. I think ‘Parisian rudeness’ and ‘New York rudeness’ are sometimes natural enough, the main reason I’ve gone on about it is that London, in particular, has much less on the surface (which may not be better, but you do not encounter brusqueness in the same sense–may have to do with the spread-out nature, it’s less claustrophobic and doesn’t seem as fast-moving as New York by a long shot, but even Paris is very ‘busy-feeling’, even though much smaller. Los Angeles rudeness usually takes the forms of exclusion from clubs, etc., in a more looks-based way than the same thing in NYC or London. It’s primitive that way, but then seating at Le Cirque here is based on connections too. Also has to do with whether a culture practises what seems like rudeness ‘to itself’, and the Parisians do speak to each other brusquely as well, whereas more English I saw are polite TO each other. It’s not that big an issue, but the days of Parisians calling the shots on Americans’ bad taste are more limited as well. Some of the examples that I used to hear used, as Americans who wanted ‘ketchup on their fries’ were ludicrous to begin with; if the place had ketchup, there’s nothing wrong with asking for it. You just don’t get too pushy when you’re in someone else’s country about habits, customs, etc., and I’ve definitely seen French do as much of that here as I have Americans in Paris.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 10:45 am

  32. I have to correct myself – the Dutch DID care about 9-11 in that they were worried what would happen to the formidable Dutch assets in the States – but I didn’t hear anyone saying worried things about the fact that 3,000 people died in a country that kills that number daily in its crass oil wars, or on its own disastrous criminal scene. Of course utterly hypocritical of the Dutch to scorn a younger colonial power, but still, I wouldn’t want to be loved just because someone’s assets might be in jeopardy!!!

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 10:45 am

  33. Oh please! This is parody I presume?

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 10:46 am

  34. I’m trying to think if Chicago has big-city rudeness. It’s hard for me to say since I’m from there and it’s natural, but Anne (from small-town Virginia) finds aspects of it rude. Maybe it doesn’t strike me as rude because I’m already fairly rude myself. NYC does take it to a sharper edge though, as do Philadelphia and Boston. My dad is from Massachusetts and he’s definitely ruder than I am.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 10:54 am

  35. “But I suspect that the marketing people in the Pentagon spent considerable effort coming up with Bush’s catchphrase “War on Terror.” Not war on Al Qaeda, or on terrorists, but on Terror — a diffuse evil that can pop up anywhere, that the US military will chase down everywhere. ”

    I’m sure they spent a lot of time working every possible angle. I hadn’t thought of this ‘Terror’, though, as meaning anything but ‘some kind of terrorists’, and most of these were Islamic–McVeigh and Breivick are simply the exceptions, unless you include the purely domestic varieties like IRA. I don’t know what a survey would yield about what the phrase ‘war on terror’ means. I always assumed it was basic enough to mean ‘starting with the 9/11 Al Qaida’, but even if it does mean something else, if they’re involved with bombs, they get chased down anyway. Even the Cambridge broad told me ‘Yes, we British were the Ariel Sharons of Ireland’, but that doesn’t mean that, due to Britain’s long and vicious persecution of Ireland that nail bombs can be easily rationalized with ‘oh, but of course, we asked for it’. But most Muslims don’t believe in the kind of violence to civilians that Bin Laden, with his famed ‘charisma’ that, if real, should have continued after his death (and it didn’t except among the Al Qaida members themselves), mesmerized them into doing. Whether he believed any of it is doubtful, because the rationalization that ‘the leader needs to stay alive to direct the glorious vision’ isn’t all that convincing when compared to Christ’s, which I don’t quite buy either, but at least he can’t be accused of being interested in nothing but ‘saving his own ass’.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 10:58 am

  36. 32.Oh please! This is parody I presume?

    No, I’m telling you, there was no big commotion round 9-11 except as a TV spectacle of the sort you’d see in Ronald Emmerich’s INDEPENDENCE DAY. And lots of speculation about the ”fall of American power”, which however nobody who had any brains took very seriously. I think the media turned it into what it is today, an urban legend used to justify AMerica’s further imperial conquests. And like I said, those spectacular shots of people falling down endless stories, contributes to the spectacle abundantly.

    To make this into some international tragedy like they’re trying now I find OBSCENE, but then the world is being run by criminals, so I’m not surprised.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:04 am

  37. It’s like at the WW 2 commemoration: what the fuck are we celebrating? What liberation? The rich moved their assets to the States and the same ole corrupt clique is running the world, with poverty gaps increasing exponentially. What did WW 2 solve? Exactly nothing.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:07 am

  38. That’s why I initially disliked American Beauty, I thought, NO HOLLAND didn’t lose her erection just because the AMerican dad is no longer the proud eagle, so why is this film being reviewed as some kind of a treatise of world dekline of simbolik efikasy. But I refined my view thanks largely due to TRUE BLOOD, which convinced me Alan was a genius.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:08 am

  39. In fact I think I’m going to start the International 9-11 fart day, this is how deeply I feel about the issue.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:13 am

  40. You find it obscene to recognize the deaths of thousands of people as tragic, and you wish there had been more carnage to enhance the spectacle? That strikes me as either a political position or a sociopathic one. (Cine-musique aside: currently playing on the radio is Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer.) Systematically manipulating an actual tragedy in order to advance an international political and military agenda: now THAT is obscene, and also sociopathic.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 11:13 am

  41. It’s in equal measure political and sociopathic, but then it’s a specific kind of sociopathy aimed at lack of perception of any significance or meaning
    to American society at large.

    For the rest I could have myself written this article from Exiled Online



    It reminds me of the stupid group hug’n’cry when that worthless limey slut Princess Di died. While she was alive she was just a punchline for dirty jokes, but as soon as she hit the wall in Paris, every sobby fool in the world was her best friend.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:22 am

  42. oh this one is even better

    9/11 is way worse because it’s a weepfest for men in suits, big loud scotch-drinking jerks who want to prove “Real men aren’t afraid to cry.” Maybe not, but maybe they should be. Or at least embarrassed to do it on TV.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:24 am

  43. and a truly fitting conclusion:

    That’s the legacy of 9/11: Two dozen spoiled unemployable dimwits managed to lobotomize my country, bankrupt it, make it such a nasty alien place I didn’t even feel part of it any more. I can’t give Osama much of the credit for that, I just don’t see him as that smart—but you know, he did say his goal was to destroy America. And with a lot of help from all you guys who used to be my fellow Americans, he could die content, because he actually managed it.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:29 am

  44. Because men in suits work themselves up into a cry means that the dead aren’t worth mourning? It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel it empathically, and you certainly don’t need to put on a show as if you feel it. If you believed that the WTC attack was a political or military success then I can see why you might either feel indifferent to the “collateral damage” or even rejoice in it. Maybe in your Black Swan world only the affect matters, and if you feel a visceral glee watching people fall to their deaths and a disappointment in the absence of splatter shots then those are the important things.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 11:44 am

  45. Nonsense, nobody mourns poor Africans. It’s unjust and immoral, actually, to mourn a select group of victims. The only understandable such emotion can be felt by Americans themselves, because their own kind was killed.

    ”Universal humanism” is bullshit, just like Bono’s concerts.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:47 am

  46. I forgot to state the obvious, that nobody mourned the victims of the NATO bombing in Belgrade, but then if i say that Im sure the next thing you know I’m a ”Serbian nationalist”

    Well so be it; I am going to nationalistically say that after 10 years of Milosevic’s dictatorship, Serbs overthrew Milosevic and installed neoliberalism. Ten years after 9-11, Americans are sinking deeper and deeper into shit and they still also have an ape’s ass for a president. Really you have to be retarded to respect for such a society, or care about it on any level except as a cheap shopping mall.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:52 am

  47. Just because you don’t mourn them doesn’t mean that nobody does. And the injustice can be acknowledged without feeling it personally. But “unjust and immoral, actually, to mourn a select group of victims” — what can that possibly mean? Is it just and moral then to enjoy the spectacle of their deaths?

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 11:52 am

  48. I didn’t ”enjoy the spectacle of their deaths”, I was gaping at it much the way I would watch some African snuff movie like that stuff they made in the 1970s, ”The Countless faces of death” or so, in blank fascination. Or that other global melodrama, the tsunamis. But to me those were just simulacra, images falling off the screen, spectacular yet devoid of any feeling. I have no personal relationship with images. It feels actually like being at your family member’s funeral and then some crazed uncle who used to molest your daughter like in TRUE BLOOD comes up to express ”his condolences”. If it wasn’t for social airs and graces, I would send him to Hell right on the spot.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 11:58 am

  49. But the real ghastliness of the show is in the idea that we should mount such a Halliwud commemoration right in the middle of America’s imminent sinkage into debt and without anyone publicly admitting what the Exiled reviewer excellently defined as the way 9-11 helped Bush’s hick clique enormously. I WOULD shed some real tears if it was revealed just how pointless the deaths of these people were given that they contributed to the success of a dictatorship – probably the most horrible and painful thing about the whole event. But of course, nobody is going to commemorate anything concrete; it will just be another Princess Dee or Dutch Queen event with sentimental cows hugging each other over the ”tragic loss of human lives”.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  50. What about this: ““The death toll was a little disappointing; I expected more carnage, and maybe also some splatter shots of the falling victims”? Is your response to Independence Day or Porno Gang similarly characterized as “spectacular yet devoid of any feeling”? I wouldn’t have guessed.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  51. Well yes in immersive reality TV you expect to see good money shoots? What are you trying to construe of my text? I didn’t enjoy the deaths of those people, I am not a necrophiliac.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  52. Oh I know what;s behind this: your eh…CARL ROGERS HUMANISM. In my dehumanized Shavirian-machinic disaffectation, I can no longer fill myself with the universal love of humanity. I think you’re ready to croon IMAGINE with Madonna at the next Bono sleazefest, only I won’t be watching, cause it will be too sad.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  53. I didn’t watch any of the 10-year commemorations. I did, on about 9/9, read some online engineering reports about why those buildings fell straight down rather than toppling over. Conclusion: no planted explosives were necessary; each building collapsed in on itself one floor at a time when the steel girders holding the things up began to buckle in the heat. When the collapse reached the ground the floors above the airplanes underwent the same storey-by-storey collapse. I looked at the videos again to see whether I could see the physics of it all, and I was struck again by powerful imagery of the tops of those buildings burning and smoking. I mentioned the Hindenburg crash, the photo image of which became the logo for Led Zeppelin. Surely somewhere there is a band using the burning WTC buildings as its logo.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  54. The ”logo” would imply that this ”event” is ”important” and should be ”burned into memory”. And this is just what Dick Cheney’s marketing sharks would like us to believe. The last time they convinced us that the victory of the Allies in WW 2 was ”important” and we ”must remember”, and now sixty years down the road that same logo is being used to cover up the crimes of our current governments. 9-11 has the same function: the current robbery of the American social security system PALES in comparison to this big human tragedy.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  55. Well yes I’d say that humanism is exactly it. As I said, I think identity politics is problematic, and I don’t believe that mourning the innocent dead of NYC is any more valid as a basis for invading Iraq than was the Gulf of Tonkin for invading Vietnam or the sinking of the Maine for invading Cuba and the Philippines. Universal standards of human justice trump personal and national vengeance: is that posthuman enough for you?

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  56. No, the flaming and smoking WTC buildings become a logo when they become fully aestheticized and stripped of other meaning, which seems to be the direction you’re taking in critiquing the images.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  57. Emotionally I know where you’re coming from: it’s your AGE showing. Just like my mother still experiences BEN-HUR as a piece of heroic virtuous cinema, while after seeing Charlton Heston defending the National Rifle Association I can’t stand a second of that film. You grew up in a different, humanistic world, a world where Barbra could draw gentle laughs by being the Funny Girl and school age children weren;’t that promiscuous. There’s nothing especially wrong with that, as a matter of fact, I think that world was in many ways safer and nicer than the current one; except that the older generation should use their wisdom to guide the youth towards NEW LIBERATIONS, instead of mummifying themselves and moralizing something silly and outdated about current events from the perspective of the DInosaur Age.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  58. 55.No, the flaming and smoking WTC buildings become a logo when they become fully aestheticized and stripped of other meaning, which seems to be the direction you’re taking in critiquing the images.

    I don’t think there was any ”aestheticization process” at play. I think the Towers by their very nature represent – American power. So when they came down, of course everybody started thinking it was the fall of the American Empire. By stating my profound disinterest in the meaning of this event, I am merely acknowledging the fact that those were just empty images and NOTHING ELSE, by which I rather wish to defuse the aestheticization, than to invest further into it, contributing to the propagation of the 9-11 urban myth.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 12:43 pm

  59. “You grew up in a different, humanistic world” etc etc… No, it’s the same world. “We have never been modern” crows Latour, as if it’s a good thing that norms of truth and justice have never prevailed over alliances of power and money.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  60. Just because you don’t mourn them doesn’t mean that nobody does.

    Quite true. And just because I had more connection with WTC and Katrina victims than I do with tsunami and Iraqi deaths doesn’t mean I enjoyed the carnage, enjoyed hearing about new Iraqi deaths, so that the point that ‘you have to have a personal connection’ is being used here in the cheapest possible way. Now someone who writes that he ‘doesn’t enjoy the carnage’ is also the someone who said he did, and said that he ‘wanted more splatter shots’. If people want to be understood as having meant something when they said BOTH, they have to grow up and use the language properly. In this case, the truther is stuck with having to agree with you about the 9/11 stuff though.

    “Nonsense, nobody mourns poor Africans.”

    Garbage. They do, and all this hard-left making fun of celebs like Madonna of Bon Jovi or Mia Farrow is really irresponsible. These people have done things, the hard Marxists go on the occasional strike (although not most) and talk on one of the leftist shows with somebody, although most just bullshit on the bleugs.

    Why shouldn’t someone say one would enjoy the ‘splatter shot’ of CoP? While I’m not sure I wouldn’t, it wouldn’t be because I had a personal connection that I consider of any importance. In short, I think I would just as soon see CoP splatter the pavement as any Iraqi civilian i can think of. Although it’s true, we could change our minds after his splatter, just as some apparently did after that ‘slut’ was killed in Paris in 1997. It’s clear that the desire to enjoy the carnage is definitely there, and yet this CoP entity wants to hold his own in an argument in which neither other party wants to hear about the ‘enjoyment of carnage’ so tries to make ‘subtle denials’ like ‘I was gaping at it much the way I would watch some African snuff movie like that stuff they made in the 1970s, ”The Countless faces of death” or so, in blank fascination’. That’s a blatant lie, because this creature has admitted to wanting to see a higher body count and ‘body splatters’. And to enjoying the cries of the Japanese tsunami. None of the argument is credible, because it is impossible to have it both ways. To moralize about people who get killed is really rendered moot after the outpouring of sympathy for the martyred Bin Laden by so many Hard Marxists.

    Not that anybody expects this entity to make up his mind. He just wants to intrude on the conversation, because he started out making generalizations about New York, about which he knows nothing at all, from one visit or maybe more. But I admire the patience of both John and the supportive troll, who wrote things like comparing 9/11 to a 7-up drink. This is parody, one could say, but it is all of the cheapest imaginable sensibility. When ‘lenin’ said he hoped my nephew would die because mathematically it would mean one less Iraqi civilian would did, I didn’t think with joy of that ‘single dead Iraqi’ when my nephew didn’t get killed. I didn’t believe the stupid shit to begin with. And there are very saintly types of people like Jimmy Carter who have completely gotten rid of the Guinea Worm, and this bored Nick at Hyperstitiion, not fitting into his neocon fantasy; and not one of the Marxist bleugers (of which Roger is certainly to be counted upon, since ‘liberal’ is not really fashionable among the ‘go-lowest’ set anymore) can see that the NYTimes Nicholas Kristoff has saved innumerable lives in Cambodia, the Philippines and elsewhere due to his reporting and hands-on work with the people he’s cared to not just write about but get some of them out of the hells they’ve lived in. People in the Peace Corps, in the Red Cross, in Doctors without Borders–all these do tremendous aide work, and does this matter to the doctrinaire preachers, including this entity who enjoys carnage? No. They just want to bleug about how Nina Power is not ideologically pure, or how 9/11 was bought and paid for by subsequent sins. That’s babytalk, all of it. That’s why all of them, including the CoP entity, end up talking about ‘the spectacle’, because, god knows, that’s all they’re looking at.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  61. he ”logo” would imply that this ”event” is ”important” and should be ”burned into memory”. And this is just what Dick Cheney’s marketing sharks would like us to believe.

    But it IS important, or it wouldn’t cause such controversy even among the ones who thoroughly enjoy it, like CoP. And it IS burned into memory, whether or not Dick Cheney happens to think so too, and/or used it corruptly. That doesn’t change the price of oranges.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  62. 9-11 has the same function: the current robbery of the American social security system PALES in comparison to this big human tragedy.

    That’s just something CoP put for purposes of winning points. It’s very obvious he doesn’t care any more about social security than he does about 9/11. No reason why he should especially, but the ‘enjoyment’ he is trying to cover up, and he can’t. He’s said it too many times, and the ‘Serbian Film’ was the ultimate truth, which he’s pointed out many times. I don’t ‘care’ about Serbia either, but I don’t ‘enjoy the sufferings’ either. However, even given that territory, I don’t feel more nor less for the Serbians than for the others in the region. But his knowledge of all these subjects is extremely deficient, and the only reason warszawa doesn’t join in is because he and I have fully parted company, when the desire to ‘not be warszawa’ became less than the freakout of realizing that nobody ever forgot he was the most extreme truther in the bleugosphere.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  63. ust like my mother still experiences BEN-HUR as a piece of heroic virtuous cinema, while after seeing Charlton Heston defending the National Rifle Association I can’t stand a second of that film.

    And yet this entity dislikes it when Arpege Debleug interprets things ideologically. It is not at all apparent that this entity could care less about NRA and Charlton Heston. After all, how could he when he supports all the carnage the Serbs have been documented as executing. It’s really quite incredible to hear these things about how the Serbs really have committed no war crimes to speak of, and is little different from warszawa’s 9/11 trutherism. Nobody believes it, even your troll. But then, that’s just who ‘this entity’ is, so it’s no big deal.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 1:20 pm

  64. By the way, John, since you mentioned not watching any of the commemorations of 9/11 10th anniv., it may come as some surprise that I didn’t either. I haven’t even looked up any YouTube clips, although I may. I simply saw the photo on the cover of the Times Sunday, and it was moving, not least that even Bush had to behave (and strangely, did so.) That was nothing short of startling, as he is very childish and it’s hard to imagine him behaving even in a solemn moment. But I could tell from that photo that the 9/11 Memorial really is a beautiful structure, and I had expected defiance, as I’ve said WTC I represents, but I hadn’t really liked aesthetically any of the plans I’d seen. This really struck me that photo I posted on IDNYC, and all of the photos taken that day were moving, I thought. Again, this is the first of the anniversaries which has proved a resurgence, despite the economic and political woes. Nobody can deny that. The continued ‘being on the lam’ of Bin Laden was always a wound-salvaging thing throughout ALL of the other anniversaries. This one, you’ll notice, has made the true anti-Americans, of which CoP is definitely one (when he feels like it, and then seems to think it’s cute to switch sides, in general the way he runs his own bleug), far more furious,. And that article by Gerry Canavan is still the most bewildering: You prove your point by saying they ‘couldn’t rebuild’. But then they had, and even the unfinished ones are well underway. None of them is saying that the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th were still ‘wonderfully successful’ at their project to turn the world into a Marxist utopia of constant complainers. Now, I admit I dont’ think Graham Harman and I have much in common, and I’m not interested in OOO, but he has not acted like a stupid fuckhead about any of this, and is simply in another field. He’s obviously very successful at it outwardly, although someone else would have to decide if OOO is worth anything. the little I know of it makes it sound sort of like knitting or crocheting. He’s not actually a charismatic character, but he’s not some total fuckup either.

    There was a strange sense of coolness (both kinds) in that glade-like quality they’d managed to get at the Memorial by Sunday morning. And they did this even after Bloomberg insisted that the Memorial was going to be kept in budget at $500 million, that it was not going to be $1billion. Some of the problem has been the fury of the 9/11 families and survivors. While understandable, they had to be dealt with every step of the way. I still think it’s a remarkable achievement after the squabbling that lasted years, and to me, seems to reflect a continuation of the frightening hysteria that occurred when not only did we know of the massive number of deaths within an hour or so, but that the bodies were often incinerated, and for many or most, no traces ever found at all, even when they took the debris out to Staten Island and went through every piece of it.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 1:38 pm

  65. But it IS important, or it wouldn’t cause such controversy even among the ones who thoroughly enjoy it, like CoP

    You mistake my multimediality for my political engagement. Just because I find ranting about things with you doesn’t mean I find them terribly important. Yes the image did burn itself into memory by virtue of its being, well, a powerful image – but I could say the same of the chariot race from Ben-Hur, which also burned itself into my memory. Still, it’s just an image, and I still do not afford it with all these layers of supposed relevance.

    He’s said it too many times, and the ‘Serbian Film’ was the ultimate truth, which he’s pointed out many times.

    In the sense that the Serbian Film brilliantly satirizes the selfsame political correctness that is behind the 9/11 caring and sharing, it is the ”ultimate truth” of the current politically correctly fucked-up rotten decomposure last stages of the New Roman Empire.

    It’s very obvious he doesn’t care any more about social security than he does about 9/11.

    Stop using that horrible word ”caring”. Sentimental crap. I don’t shed tears for the Americans’ social security (even though I probably would if my sweetheart was from Iowa). But intellectually, it’s pretty goddamn infuriating that the American nation can’t even pick up their shit enough to stop their own government from robbing them blind. And I mean Americans have a much better starting position to do that, than Serbs ever did.

    all the carnage the Serbs have been documented as executing.

    Oh yeah – documented? Like the weapinz of mass destruction? Next thing you’ll tell me is that Madeleine Albright’s a goddamn ANGEL OF MERCY. But anyway, I used to masturbate to images of Charlton Heston taking me for a chariot ride, so when I found out he was such a banal hick, I hated him for the sheer disappointment.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  66. 58.“You grew up in a different, humanistic world” etc etc… No, it’s the same world. “We have never been modern” crows Latour, as if it’s a good thing that norms of truth and justice have never prevailed over alliances of power and money.

    Well if that is really so, then why do you critisize my disaffectation from the perspective of some idealistic humanism?

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  67. W. Kasper says on his blog that he is “agnostic” about 9/11, which wouldn’t satisfy any truther true believers in his audience. Regarding nihilistic jouissance experienced in watching human disasters, I’m reminded again of that raccoon or whatever it was in Antichrist announcing that “Chaos reigns!” And now I’m thinking of that awful old TV cartoon Clutch Cargo, where all the characters had creepy human mouths superimposed on the cartoon images when they spoke. Did the antichrist raccoon have similar mouthparts? I didn’t notice while watching, so overcome was I by the portentiousness of the pronouncement.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  68. 58.“You grew up in a different, humanistic world” etc etc… No, it’s the same world. “We have never been modern” crows Latour, as if it’s a good thing that norms of truth and justice have never prevailed over alliances of power and money.

    Well if that is really so, then why do you critisize my disaffectation from the perspective of some idealistic humanism?

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  69. First of all ”jouissance” is not the same as ”enjoyment” as you well know, and the nihilism is something coming from Warszawa. I am too hedonistic to be a nihilist.

    I cannot and willnot accept the very idea that when one observes the death of another, with whom one does not have a close relation, one is not primarily struck by the possibility that one might undergo the same sordid fate, not with some presupposed Carl Rogersian ”altruism” and even worse ”humanism” which makes one intrinsically sensitive to a collective humanistic consciousness. THAT is precisely Communist shit, the worst thing about Communism. It takes a helluva lot more than just automatic CARING AND SHARING, to really share the fate of another person.

    So in this context my ”jouissance” of the 9-11 spectacle has to do with the horrific sensations provoked by thoughts about what would it feel like to fall off the 350th floor and then keep falling in air with the dreadful knowledge you’re going to hit the ground. That sensation is pleasurable only in that my own position in front of the TV screen is safe. Not in some necrophilic sense of getting aroused by death (even though necrophilia, too, is more related to narcissism, as well you know, than sexual pleasure in the strict sense).

    But only a true Communist idiot could claim that he really and truly felt the horror the pain the sadness of that person, falling through air.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  70. In fact what the fuck is the difference between that ”empathic” position, and the Truthism? The Truthies also imply that they have an empathic connection with the web of connections and events that led the US government to turn against its own people, and so on. They are the ones who know, for they are gifted with extremer sensitivity than us, the disaffected youth.

    Comment by parody center — 14 September 2011 @ 2:14 pm

  71. I was fairly sure ‘W. Kasper’ had written this at Qlipoth a few months before OBL’s demise. Here’s the whole thread:

    W. Kasper said…

    And I’m not a theorist of conspiracy theory (? or whatever they’re called). Plans as plain as the nose on one’s face are there for all to see, if you just drown out the ‘commentary’. That’s why I quite like the term ‘covert spectacle’. Not much is actually that hidden – it’s just shouted down via media. Layers of ‘interpretation’ ie. fog. I was a ‘troofer’ as soon as I switched on the TV on 9-11. That great Spectacle that erased everyone’s memory of last week’s news. The world shit a brick as soon as Bush was ‘elected’, and his more insane plans weren’t doing too well in MSM or congress, until they all bowed in unison after the bullshit avalanche. Why the hell else would they drastically extend the duration of classified documents? The fuckers live longer now.

    Our recent ‘regime change’ in the UK is obviously conspiratorial. News International, bugging, banks, taxation plans, Gordon brown’s mental health etc. etc. Peter Mandelson putting the kibosh on police investigation. The Tories and their masters knew they couldn’t win with likability or policy. As for Blair – awfully convenient times to die for Mo Mowlam and Robin Cook, no? Especially when you consider their potfolios, or certain other ‘experts’ who suddenly decided to crash planes and slit their wrists. All those talentless, charisma-free insiders who just thrive in politics – from Gerry Ford to Jack Straw. Always the most convenient middle-men for the Ruling Class. The fall guys are the ones deluded enough to think they’re in charge – from Tricky Dick to Brown. They’re the ‘temp staff’.
    7:00 AM

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  72. Well there have been MRI scans demonstrating that, when someone reads or watches an action performed by someone else, even by a fictional character, the same sections of the brain are activated as when the person himself performs these actions. These are the so-called “mirror neurons.” So I think there is at least a modicum of vicarious horror, which is why images can induce emotions in the viewer, perhaps even more so than words because images are processed unconsciously, in the deeper brain regions where the mirror neurons are activated. You’ve previously written about the power of the image to tap into affect and unconscious, so this should come as no surprise. But to reiterate, I’m not talking about a humanism predicated on empathic identification with the other. Quite the opposite actually: empathic identification, be it kumbaya-style solidarity or visceral collective hatred, is no basis for establishing a just government.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  73. I am too hedonistic to be a nihilist.

    No one would ever notice, it seems more like inconsistent fatuity. As for “But only a true Communist idiot could claim that he really and truly felt the horror the pain the sadness of that person, falling through air”, that’s even irrelevant and immaterial for the Communists I think assholes. I only point it out because I don’t think even any of them said such a thing. CoP just changed the subject because, while it wasn’t easy to ‘care’ about the falling bodies for you who actually enjoyed them, one could care: One just doesn’t experience, and even Arpege Debleug knows that if you weep for your own mother (which she once did on the bleug), that doesn’t mean she ‘experienced her death as a good daughter’, or even that she experienced Haitian deaths or Iraqi deaths. I’m not defending her, just saying she doesn’t go quite as far you in talking about the joy of ‘splattering bodies’, which you did say, and i want this reputation to stick. You enjoyed the YouTube sounds of the tsunami, and made disgusting cultural judgments.

    “Next thing you’ll tell me is that Madeleine Albright’s a goddamn ANGEL OF MERCY.”

    Yes, I’ll be telling you that. We were all quite happy about the bombing of Belgrade, but that’s not the same as being glad Belgrade civilians were being blown up. I will think about it though, since you’ve proved it’s a worthwhile recreation when you really don’t give much of a shit about the people. And Serbia is for if you’re from there; nobody ever thinks about it, probably even as little as, say, Finland or Mongolia, or the Republic of Chad. The whole point of CPC is not fun, but rather cruelty. That is what it is, and that is what you continually advertise yourself as being. There has to be some consistency if any of what you say is to be intelliigible, so stick to cartoons. Those are for babies, except in very small doses. In any case, you are only interested in taunting and showing off brazenly disconnected and contradictory statements.

    That’s why you say things like this: “Stop using that horrible word ”caring”. Sentimental crap. I don’t shed tears for the Americans’ social security (even though I probably would if my sweetheart was from Iowa).”

    There is only one thing you’ve proved: Narcissism applies to many other things than beauty. This you have demonstrated perfectly.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  74. So what your basically saying is that I must acknowledge the sheer human tragedy, stripped of all ideology, just take it for the death of thousands that it is.

    But it is impossible to strip things down to such abstract essentials as ”human”. What IS possible, is to have a kind of a bourgeois civil courtesy and endorse a certain ritual,
    the ritual of collective mourning, which might have symbolic meaning and in this way be widely socially positive.

    But I don’t even have enough material for THAT here because as I said nobody mourned far greater tragedies striking less famous people in less famous locales. So I see it
    as unfair to humanity to mourn the loss of 3,000 New Yorkers.

    I am thinking of Sookie’s reaction now in that brilliant scene where her grandma is being buried, and she can hear people’s thoughts, propelling her to send them all to Hell.

    Comment by Center of Parody — 14 September 2011 @ 2:43 pm

  75. Jesus I’ve spent most of the day on this thread. It’s a good thing I did some real writing very early this morning.

    The killing of 3,000 people (not exclusively Americans) was an unjust act perpetrated on those specific people, even if it may have been motivated as retaliation against other unjust acts perpetrated on Saudis and Egyptians. Overthrowing the Iraqi government on what were known to be false premises was also an unjust act, even if Saddam was an asshole and might have posed a threat if he actually had any WMDs at his disposal. If you’re going to do it, make the case on the basis of justice: Saddam is killing and imprisoning and has perpetrated genocide on his own people, so we should take him out even if we don’t know any Iraqis personally or give two shits about them. These are very tangible and specific considerations, not vague humanitarian clouds billowing around my head.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  76. But I don’t even have enough material for THAT here because as I said nobody mourned far greater tragedies striking less famous people in less famous locales.

    But you, you mourned the non=famous Haitian earthquake and the Pakistani floods, because you were so concerned about ‘poor and not-well-known humanity’, not unlike yourself, that is…frankly no, you mourned Serbia and decided Serbia was 100% innocent of all crimes, that it was only the persecuted scapegoat of all surrounding republics. All that is what should get you off the hook of all your own crimes (and won’t.) I’m just talking to you here as a kind of ‘writing reserve exercise’, I don’t consider what you say to have any kind of real existence. You long ago gave up any credibility, and if warszawa had also not been exactly like you, the things he was saying were true as well, but since there is this ‘secret masonic bleuger-union handshake’, I just separate the grain from the chaff, and let warszawa go back to where he is most comfortable.

    This thread, on the other hand, was a discussion between me and John about his work (and I noticed that cine-musique, but couldn’t figure out why you thought it was, in particular–illumine me, why is that cine-musique? because it well may be and I wouldn’t always pick it up, probably have missed a very obvious reference there) and then went from ascending stone staircases and high places and penthouses and hillside homes, and then into New York talk, and it had nothing to do with you except that you wanted to preach about how you really only meant that you enjoyed the ‘body splatter’ on the CPC talk, but we know you didn’t, that it was the same person writing here, and you can’t cover it up. You liked it, because they were Americans, but you’d MARRY an American if rich enough, and so on and so forth.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  77. disgusting cultural judgments.

    Will you just for a moment look at how many times you used qualifiers like ”disgusting”. Why don’t you go all the goddamn way and use the word INOPPORTUNE, it’s INOPPORTUNE, I suppose, to publicly admit that I drew the same joy outta observing reality catastrophe as I did from the next 3D horror film in the cinemas, only better because it has the ”reality factor” as a 5 dollar extra. I really don’t know what to respond to this deep observation about my ”disgusting cultural judgments” and my general ”maladjustment” at the Rotary Club.

    one could care: One just doesn’t experience, and even Arpege Debleug knows that if you weep for your own mother

    This is just lame nonsense, there is no comparison between the death of your mother, who gave you life, and the death of some Wall Street employee falling off a building 2000 miles away. You didn’t explain or argument anything, you just keep on about 9-11 – probably understandable, since you saw this in reality.

    We were all quite happy about the bombing of Belgrade,

    Why? Who’s ”all of you”? What are you talking about? You were happy because they threw bombs on Belgrade in order to steal more natural resources from the Balkans? Colonize even more? Well then you should also be happy about 9-11, really, because it allowed Bush and Cheney to rule for ten years, and colonize America, too.

    Comment by Center of Parody — 14 September 2011 @ 3:09 pm

  78. The killing of 3,000 people (not exclusively Americans) was an unjust act perpetrated on those specific people,

    Yes, and so is the daily death of 5,000 Africans from hunger. Where is the multi-billion dollar commemoration of THOSE VICTIMS? I’ll tell you why not – because they’re not Americans, it’s not very pretty, it’s not a spectacle, and there’s no paparazzi money to be made, nor can the multi-billion dollar multimedia industry profit from it.

    Comment by Center of Parody — 14 September 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  79. “You were happy because they threw bombs on Belgrade in order to steal more natural resources from the Balkans? Colonize even more?”

    Yes, it gave great pleasure, even before the youTube.

    ‘Well then you should also be happy about 9-11, really, because it allowed Bush and Cheney to rule for ten years, and colonize America, too.”

    No. That’s different. We are the State of Exception. You are not.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  80. I’m going for a run and do a few other things which will delay comment approval, but I suspect we’re about at the limit of this conversation anyway.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  81. But you, you mourned the non=famous Haitian earthquake and the Pakistani floods,

    NOT AT ALL! I want my reality porn to have high production values, not some Arpegian slum scenography shit, and for all of its faults, 9-11 was a much more professional production. You could see the bodies falling, I never saw any burned Haitian corpses on public telly.

    Serbia was 100% innocent of all crimes, that it was only the persecuted scapegoat of all surrounding republics.

    That’s how YOU read it; nobody is 100% innocent, ever; we are all childrin of Adam. Serbia was scapegoated solely due to being the only Russian ally on the penninsula (apart from Greece, but the Greeks had already joined the EU, giving consent to exacty the kind of an abuse they are experiencing right now as we speak). The rhetoric of ”war crime” was deployed by the selfsame marketing hacks who are making 9-11 into a ‘human tragedy’ of global proportions.

    Comment by Center of Parody — 14 September 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  82. we’re about at the limit of this conversation anyway.

    I thought you wanted to PUSH LIMITS and CROSS BOUNDARIES. All great writers have that desire.

    Comment by Center of Parody — 14 September 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  83. And… action! Now, zoom in on the field, and… cue the raccoon. I said cue the raccoon! It’s just sitting there. The trainer said it could act, that fucking liar. And now look, my God, it’s running away. Somebody catch it, kill it, and stuff it, then call in the voice-over actor. I’m too depressed to go on, I’m going back to the hotel. You: get me room service, cocaine, and a hooker.

    I’m going to watch the most recent True Blood tonight, look for some inspiration.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  84. I am not some Marxist bullshitter who is going to talk about how the ‘imperium deserved it’. And neither are the Marxists living in the ‘imperium’. Someone at Harry’s Place pointed out to ‘lenin’ that his ridiculing of and mocking of deaths in one part of Israel was thoroughly without any compassion, and of course they were right:

    When I wrote that earlier, I didn’t finish it up. The 9/11 article on ‘lenin’ links to his 2008 post http://hurryupharry.org/2008/01/20/sneering-at-sderot/

    I thought this especially good:

    They quote Seymour here: “Poor old Sderot. Poor, wretched Sderot. Gaza is a place where “rage” boils and bubbles over, especially since the “Hamas takeover” (the failed Fatah putsch, in other words), and Sderot pays the price. Rockets, empty streets, fleeing mattresses, the dog not getting walked. Poor, miserable Sderot.
    Oh, but the luckless Sderot happens to be located nearby, thus copping a few miserable Qassam rockets that leave potholes in the streets and damage the walls. Poor, woebegone Sderot.”

    and then weigh in:

    “Is it beyond Seymour’s understanding that if, for whatever reason, someone was constantly firing Qassams at his neighborhood in London, he would find ordinary life impossible– even if casualties were relatively rare? If he reacted to the suffering of his neighbors by making sarcastic comments about their poor, miserable, woebegone lives, he would probably get what he deserved.”

    This was something that I always wanted to hear, and applies to the Debleug Family of Hard Marxists as well as Seymour. The attitude to Israel is always like that to 9/11, and all criticisms of Muslims are snuffed out because of their dogma.

    Have no idea what your last post was about, and still not about the cine-musique.

    And then this:

    “Yes, and so is the daily death of 5,000 Africans from hunger. Where is the multi-billion dollar commemoration of THOSE VICTIMS? I’ll tell you why not – because they’re not Americans, it’s not very pretty, it’s not a spectacle, and there’s no paparazzi money to be made, nor can the multi-billion dollar multimedia industry profit from it.” as though he was seriously involved with ‘the poor’ is quickly followed by

    I say: “But you, you mourned the non=famous Haitian earthquake and the Pakistani floods,”

    “NOT AT ALL! I want my reality porn to have high production values, not some Arpegian slum scenography shit, and for all of its faults, 9-11 was a much more professional production. You could see the bodies falling, I never saw any burned Haitian corpses on public telly.”

    Proving he wasn’t serious about any of it but wasting our time (or just mine.) This passes as cute, and is allowed. It’s just trolling like he does at CPC. This is such DISTINCT proof he was never serious about any of it, the ‘unmourned Africans’ and the rest, that it’s clear that somebody is ‘felt sorry for’. But it’s not me, and I don’t feel sorry for someone this irresponsible that they turn everything into a joke. I guess we have some more True Blood threads to look forward to now. Look. Maybe you want me to ‘feel sorry for him’ too, but I just don’t.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  85. Some alternative conspiracy theories for WTC as pure spectacle:

    (a) No one was really killed; everyone was evacuated before the planes hit. The jumpers were mannequins hydraulically propelled out the windows at predetermined intervals.

    (b) The WTC buildings were not really destroyed; they were hidden by mirrors. The new buildings have been constructed on another site adjacent to the WTC, which is still there.

    (c) The WTC buildings never existed. They were constructed on a movie set and projected as gigantic holograhic images onto lower Manhattan. These WTC simulacra were destroyed for the 9/11 Show, as was the hologram.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  86. It is difficult to distinguish sincerity from dissimulation in CofP’s discourse.

    The cine-musique is maybe more aptly termed roman-musique: inclusion of song lyric into the fictional dialogue. As I was writing this morning the radio played side 2 of the Beatles’ Abbey Road. One of the songs, “You Never Give Me Your Money,” includes this bit of lyric:

    Out of college, money spent
    See no future, pay no rent
    All the money’s gone, nowhere to go
    Any jobber got the sack
    Monday morning, turning back
    Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go
    But oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go

    Part of the lyric fit the dialogue I was writing so I inserted it.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 7:04 pm

  87. “Is it beyond Seymour’s understanding that if, for whatever reason, someone was constantly firing Qassams at his neighborhood in London, he would find ordinary life impossible– even if casualties were relatively rare? If he reacted to the suffering of his neighbors by making sarcastic comments about their poor, miserable, woebegone lives, he would probably get what he deserved.”

    I agree. The same is true of shopkeepers whose stores are looted and residents whose flats are burned. In carrying out a just cause it may be necessary to inure oneself to the suffering of victims of collateral damage, but to mock them, as if they deserve it? There is no sense in that, unless the glee in others’ misfortune is being manipulated as a further stimulus to direct action. If so, then how different is that from the political manipulation of 9/11 by Bush/Cheney?

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 7:17 pm

  88. “There is no sense in that, unless the glee in others’ misfortune is being manipulated as a further stimulus to direct action. If so, then how different is that from the political manipulation of 9/11 by Bush/Cheney?”

    There’s no analogy at all, you’ve made the wrong connection. Bush and Cheney did not have ‘glee’, unless that’s just a foregone conclusion (and there is no reason why it would be, if it’s just based on loathing them, because I loathe them too, and I don’t see the ‘glee’: They’d wanted to go into Iraq before 9/11 and would have, this just made it easier.) We’ve already been through Bush/Cheney’s cynical manipulation of 9/11, for chrissake. That’s the large-scale.

    The proper analogy here is your friend’s glee in 9/11 body-splattering and talk of ‘Halliwud production’ and ‘reality porn’, which you profess you find ‘repugnant’. Then he ‘gets serious’ and talks about Haitian earthquakes and starving Africans and makes fun of Bono and other people who really raise money for these people, just like the people who sang that corny song ‘We Are the World’ did back in the 80s for the starving Ibu. I’m not going to say it was a ‘great song’, but neither am I going to call some imprisoned Haitian a great artist just because he was black like Arpege Debleug does. Laughing at an unfortunate Israeli neighborhood would actually deserve what Harry’s Place would, by now, imply: That Seymour’s OWN neighborhood in London be looted the fuck out of (that’s just as ‘imperium’ as Israel, isn’t it? even if we KNOW it’s not Mayfair or Belgravia) in previous or London riots to come. As HP says, it would serve him right. And Arpege Debleug would then have double cause to rejoice at looting pleasure, because Seymour gets his jollies by telling her how stupid she is all the time. I’m sure you get the drift, and were probably just trying to match you father in rudeness, just as Bush outdid his father in Iraq….n’est-ce pas….for this, you’ll never get my Jamaican sidling up to you on a MANHATTAN subway platform and whispering ‘Vous etes homo-sexuah-leeze?’ Now that is the true jouissance, because she was noticing some of my tendencies to exhibitionism on the street, and knew that I thought she was hilarious. But the best was that she thought SHE was hilarious, that was very like my mother, who would laugh at her own jokes so long we started laughing at her laughing.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 7:38 pm

  89. All are “proper” analogies. I didn’t say that Bush/Cheney either felt or manipulated glee for their political ends; they manipulated rage.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  90. So you’re saying that Seymour was also manipulating rage? if he’s somehow made analogous? (obviously, once started, Bush/Cheney manipulated anything, and were even doing overt glee by the time Rumsfeld got to do his rockstar moment.) Which is interestihg: Seymour, an ultra-leftist, is manipulating rage against Israelis the way right-wingers (but not ultra compared to the Tea Party) manipulated rage against Islam (even though Iraq was perhaps the most secular state to have chosen, not esp. Islamic.)

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 8:48 pm

  91. “I didn’t say that Bush/Cheney either felt or manipulated glee for their political ends;”

    Nor did I say you said they ‘manipulated glee’. I thought you meant they ‘felf glee’ about 9/11 like the ones you were comparing them to, the shopkeepers who happened to be in the crossfire and got their businesses burned, ruined or looted. The British pro-looting contingent definitely got ‘glee’, and immediately, from the shopkeepers getting robbed, and Arpege Debleug and Jack Crow and the rest blamed it not on the looters, but on ‘property relations’. They were in favour of looter’s pleasure, and they didn’t care if they were small shopkeepers, and decided these were ‘not workers’, etc., I don’t imagine Bush/Cheney ‘glee’ set in immediately, but it didn’t take very long, and the WMD was hard for everybody to figure out; the connection to Al Qaida was not hard, and they harped on it anyway. And a lot of people believed them. And all that business with Scooter Libby and Judith Miller and Valerie Plame and Robert Novak. Tom Friedman did write that Bush/Cheney wanted to do it as a big warning to the Arab world, to attack one country and show off American power that way. It seems by now to have half-‘taken’, in that Obama’s Middle East policies are by now said sometimes to be extensions of the ‘Bush Doctrine’, what with all the Arab Spring and democratizing the Middle East. Seymour, as well, totally blames NATO for everything that has happened in Libya, and this is strict party line talk. The Hard Marxists are definitely exactly the hate-everything party that Tom Friedman described the truthers and others maybe 5 years ago.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  92. Just saw this: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/world/africa/in-libya-islamists-growing-sway-raises-questions.html?ref=global-home

    I can’t wait to see them try to pin THIS on NATO.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 September 2011 @ 9:05 pm

  93. I agree that what you say is true too. Sorry that I wasn’t clearer though: manipulating people’s empathic emotions is the common denominator. Rage turned to revenge releases the glee. You mentioned wartime sexual release of inhibitions earlier — there must be some intimate connection between the arousals of fear, violence, and sex.

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 September 2011 @ 9:11 pm

  94. Seymour, an ultra-leftist, is manipulating rage against Israelis

    Seymour is not an ultra-leftist, he’s no Andrea Dworkin. If he was I would LIKE HIM. He’s one of the Trotsky offspring – sliming up to capitalism at the very same moment they’re repudiating it. That’s why they approve of Yugoslavia’s disintegration – the borders were opened this way for Marx’s global state of the proletariat. And their ideas anyway are built into the mechanisms of current ”digital phase” capitalism. All this talk of human rights, equality at work, self-managing employees, speculative economy, all that shit comes from Tito’s Yugoslavia.

    This is such DISTINCT proof he was never serious about any of it, the ‘unmourned Africans’ and the rest

    How can you live in this kind of a world being SERIOUS? If i really attuned myself to every suffering every minute of the day, I would need another ten lives to take it all in. But this is not about funny or serious, it’s about justice. If some starving Haitians or African’s aren’t mourned on a large scale, and their lives are not deemed as important as those of the 9-11 victims, then the gesture of mourning is not humanistic at all, then that means the mourning is for a political purpose, and repulsive that way.

    Comment by parody center — 15 September 2011 @ 4:02 am

  95. I agree that tribalism often trumps universalism in eliciting empathic responses of mourning and rage. This affective identification of us versus them may be unconscious and even instinctive, which makes it that much more vulnerable to conscious intentional manipulation. Images, narratives, personal stories, crowd shots — all of it can be used like an advertising campaign to intensify the affect. What’s the sequence: you become aware that there’s something wrong, you don’t have the agency to fix it, you turn to someone or something that can fix it. This is Shock Doctrine, but also Advertising 101.

    Are those who have been most intensively exposed to this sort of manipulation — in novels, movies and TV shows, ads, video games — more vulnerable to this manipulation in public affairs, or less so? It seems clear that manipulated affect is habit-forming, requiring increasingly intensive doses to keep the high. And this addiction probably inures viewers/readers to the impact of real tragedies. In the ten years since 9/11 CGI has gotten so much more “realistic” that in retrospect the shots of the WTC look old-fashioned. So this is what so many of the left bloggers harp on about society of the spectacle, cinematic affect, and attention economy. What Shaviro calls post-cinematic affect seems to be an intensification rather than an alternative: quick cuts, chaotic editing, swarming action, all of it hypnotic in impact, overriding conscious evaluation via intensified bombardment of senses and affect.

    So what’s to be done about it? Control the means of advertising production and use them against the master? Intensify the rational capacity to override the manipulation of affect and subject it to evidentiary critique? Express disdain, be it real or satirical, not just for the manipulation but for those being used as props in the manipulation: 9/11 victims, looted shopkeepers, soldiers, refugees, victims of genocide? Regarding the 9/11 dead as extras in a violence porn movie, then critiquing the production values of the movie — this too is a manipulation of affect. I can see it being effective as an accelerant, increasing the rage of those who are already under the influence of rage manipulation. And there are those afficionados of accelerationism who would want exactly that, to speed up the apocalypse in ushering in some sort of posthuman reality…

    This is starting to read like a post instead of a comment/reply, so I’d better stop.

    Comment by ktismatics — 15 September 2011 @ 8:33 am

  96. It seems clear that manipulated affect is habit-forming, requiring increasingly intensive doses to keep the high.

    I believe that digital devices alter the brain. I got a digital Android tablet just a month ago and having used it obsessively for a few weeks, I can hardly now imagine a computer that doesn’t have a touch screen, or doesn’t allow you instantaneous communication at any point in time or space. Also, I am already annoyed by the slowness of some operations in PC Windows, the PC seems to be on it s way out as a device.

    Also, even though I love the new digital reader, the possibility of calling up a dictionary in the middle of bedtime reading and the like, I have not ceased to want books. I need contact with paper. I can’t imagine, then, that the digital can ever completely replace the physical.

    However we must be wary and not fall prey to Baudrillardian pessimism. Precisely because humans develop habits, they will be desensitized to this endless acceleration AS WELL. I’m sure a kind of an immune response will develop, and adaptation will ensue. The same goes for movies: they can accelerate all they want, but you still need a goddamn story. Stories have always existed, and will never cease to exist.

    What is to be done? This is exactly the question Chabert is asking Comrade Lenininu-nini this very moment. Since they don’t have an answer, they’re going to drown their ignorance in vodka.

    Comment by parody center — 15 September 2011 @ 3:49 pm

  97. Maybe they could open a bar together, call it The Vanguard.

    Comment by ktismatics — 15 September 2011 @ 4:07 pm

  98. This game is extremely popular on Android mobile systems, you make your own, erm, disgusting cultural parallels girls


    Comment by Center of Parody — 17 September 2011 @ 11:06 am

  99. This song was playing on the radio when the preceding comment showed up in my inbox:

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 September 2011 @ 11:44 am

  100. Reference comments 26 & 83, I feel like I’m on a bit of a roll again with this book, and Abbey Road Side Two is back on the radio. So I stuck the line in there again:

    “…I make my own arrangements now, though I have to admit I’ve never been offered the penthouse since then. Men pay for my drinks, girls want to get to know me. It’s not the NBA, but it’s a pretty good life. No idea what I’d do instead, I’ll miss it when it’s gone, but for now, oh that magic feeling…

    Comment by ktismatics — 11 November 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  101. It’s actually sort of encouraging to see the date stamp on this post. I feel like I’ve been dragging my ass writing this book, unable to build up any momentum, but now I see that it’s just over two months ago that I started and at this point I’m close to halfway done with a first draft. That’s not so bad.

    Comment by ktismatics — 11 November 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  102. I looked through the thread again. I’m glad you’re getting somewhere, and when you’re finished, you should look into all those publishing things, as ‘self-published’ and also ‘pre-publishing’ so that outsiders will look at your books. You may already be doing this, but I even cold-called Publisher’s Weekly a couple of weeks ago, and got the main man on the phone, who finally gave me the alternative of sending IDNYC directly to him, which I haven’t done yet, but intend to write the letter for it tomorrow, and also send the first two books along. I’m now loosened up about some of this stuff, even though it’s moving slowly. I learned my lesson early on by giving two of those expensive copies as comps to that NYTimes guy who did nothing at all, and neither did his boyfriend (who doesn’t even review books for his pitiful little gay rag.)

    The interesting thing is that the promo process has gotten less horrible. I don’t mind doing it when I figure out something, even if the next step–getting them to actually read and review it–is just that–another step. So that now I don’t need to go by the book when I write this guy tomorrow or Sunday, I turn it into a less routine, mechanical thing by telling him that it’s even unlikely that this kind of esoteric thing is what he usually gets, but that he should see all three books so he understands the weird shape of this trilogy, a term I actually thought was contrived when I first came up with it. As the months since printing have hardened off, with great difficulties and developments, I have found that there is much greater freedom in the sales/promo commercial area once you actually feel you’re ‘at it’. I didn’t feel that way with the first two books, so that some of the promotion Christian wanted me to do with Day of Cine-Musique I didn’t do, primarily because he should have done it himself, and also because I had no idea what he wanted me to do. This time, the outlandish combination of the luxury-object and the huge baroque nature of the multi-narrative text is fairly unusual, so that continuing to work toward getting this read in many diverse ways that I couldn’t have predicted opens up new avenues which I don’t resist. The bleug helps too. That attractive pianist whom I know that I’ve done a few posts on likes the bleug, that was a kind of ‘portal’ sensation. He picked up on that, even though it’s not something there’s ‘a lot of time for’. We have different time-orientations, and that’s just one example. Nick’s new bleug is another, and all that that entails. But these oddments that come up seemingly spontaneously (my upstairs neighbour even decided to buy a copy, she said ‘I WANT this book!’ and got it. Someone else in the building was at the post office and asked me about the print of ‘Blue Rose’ I was mailing, and said he was going to buy the book, which I encouraged, of course. I didn’t really think he would want it, and his mother is ‘Yvonne’, the one who said she was Colbert’s daughter. THEN he found out the neighbour had a copy and said “Well, I guess I’ll just be able to look at that one, I don’t know if I’ll get over to St. Mark’s.” I said “Well, that’s ONE way to change the subject!” which he laughed about, but he knew Rolande too. But that was pure happenstance, and is not the major avenue, although the former block association ladies ought to know about it. I’ll save a flyer on ‘Ned’, who is mentioned once in the book. So I see that this book is so arcane that I am going to be working it through the bleug and cold-calling when I get the urge for probably at least a year. I don’t give a shit what anybody says. And that’s the only piece of advice I’d give you or anybody else: At some point, the projection of the book no longer seems so different from the creative act, and you don’t have to follow the rules. I don’t, once again, care that much whether the PW guy thinks I wrote the ‘correct’ kind of letter to accompany the volumes he wants me to send, although there’s no point in going out of one’s way to say something that would be an obvious turn-off.

    But I’ve gotten a rhythm within this very difficult time that I didn’t know I was capable of. My very upset reactions to Didion’s strange behaviour (as witnessed by so many different articles during this current book launch of hers) really was important for me to deal with, especially the matter of memory; and making my aunt’s chicken pie twice this week, until I got it right, was absolutely necessary for me. This wasn’t just culinary, as my ‘Ballet Cakes’ were, even though they had other symbolic meaning at least for me; it was very spiritual: The hand-written recipe from my aunt was as important as the chicken pies themselves, although it then did become necessary to get the pie right as well.

    I knew some of this was working (even though there are periods in which nothing seems) when I started actually knowing that I should slow down on the push in the last few weeks. There was a period of several months where I had to concentrate on nothing else, even if some of it felt inept, felt that I didn’t know what I was doing. So that you’ll maybe see a direct connection from ‘Ric’s’ and the ‘nautilus’ inscription to eBooks and/or various forms of opening out something, or maybe you even already have. At this point, I haven’t really done anything but some reading about Amazon and ebooks, but I’m not as closed to it as I was. I know that I live a strange life, and when I expect it to work like other people’s, who are more obviously ‘normal’ and ‘standardized’, I get in trouble, and have gotten scared. Main point is that even experiences like ‘The Amazing Dave’, when they’re far enough in the past to look back on, have their value, and can be integrated, whilst also knowing you don’t want to involve yourself directly with such crap. But now I look back on buying that manual that tells you what to say in your ‘cover letter’, and getting it exactly ‘by the book’, that was when I was sending out the story ‘The Doctors of Lausanne’ to a lot of publishers, before Christian decided he wanted to start his publishing business with that–but he didn’t do it till I’d written the rest of Deep Tropical. I only got the one good response from those ‘cold-mailings’, the one from the Paris Review, even though they didn’t use it. And now, were I to get a ‘polite and appreciative rejection’, as there’s was, I’d pay attention to the etiquette now. Back then (1998), I was only interested that they wouldn’t go far enough.

    A very bitchy musician used to tell me I was a fine writer when I’d send him stories that he’d like, but enjoyed adding ‘the promotion part, unfortunately, is not nearly as much fun’. He had done the same thing with musical compositions of mine: Start by encouraging them, them dash one’s hopes since he knew I took his opinion seriously. I now get consciously rid of all this negativity (including that of the bleugers who dislike me–god knows, I quite dislike them too, but am paying little attention to them, don’t respond to them anymore), and another version was when I told Diane many years ago that job-hunting itself ought to be a kind of adventure, to which she replied that ‘No, it not only is never fun, it SHOULD not be of any kind of enjoyment’. And that’s why a once-beautiful young woman has turned into a sour old spinster, so idiotic and airhead by now that she thought my form-letters sent in p.m. to members of the ballet board before I quit there, but which I also sent to our friend Anna just so she could see it, were a ‘love letter to Anna’. Anna thought D. was just as crackers for this as I did, and it IS crackers.

    I put all these down because I have found that it really is the work that finally turns itself out onto other people. As you’ve doubtlessly seen, my newer posts on the bleug have come from some new opening. I have now gotten to a point that I can begin to let some of the most cosmopolitan members of my family know about this, and talk about it with people I know whose possible rejection even a few months ago would have disturbed me. And that is on the same level in this process as cold-calling Publisher’s Weekly or finding another NYTimes person, or getting in touch with LAReview of Books, that I’ve told you about. It’s more automatic than I thought; one thought it would never be as automatic as it can be, because one had to wait so long, one wouldn’t do other things as had been expected, one’s Step I was not what one wanted just because Simon’s Step I is exactly right for him, he can have a relatively easy life, even though very hard work and very busy. But some of the posts like the one on Cash’s Mind of the South, and the Chicken Pie one have to do with this other ‘market’ that I’m gradually letting open. This is because I’ve managed to make it so that I strengthened my own belief in my technique in various ways, and didn’t rush into the anticipations that I’ve always had a tendency toward. And obviously, I didn’t want to ‘turn on’ Joan; I would have thought that impossible. I simply could not stand the things she was saying to literally every interviewer that was coming to see her in the last few months. I absolutely do not care what her book says. And that was part of working out my own continued journey. The hundred or so emails around 9/11 were an especially unpleasant process, but good as an exercise. I have to continually invent new ways to present various aspects of the book(s) and really just anything to prevent the sensation of plummeting into something either self-destructive in quite an unnecessary way (because stupid, and one didn’t have to react to fear by cowering as I sometimes used to.) I experienced this much more after I had the book in print copies than any time during the creative process and the production as well. There are still moments in which I try to figure out that I should abort the process, only to find that another idea will come to mind.

    I doubt you’re this neurotic, but you’ve got your own complexes and probably blockages about those things. I think going beyond the negativities of the more ‘public part’ that that musician friend and Diane were both telling me is what has made me most gratified. They both had ‘failure complexes’. And they also both know about this particular book. Both were even jealous of the very first one, the small one, and when people have these complexes they don’t want to tell you how to make the connections, because you will connect out of the losership of not connecting to what will make it succeed. They have chosen failure, and that is what they can advise you in, since that’s the advice you took. They don’t say ‘I’m telling you this to make you fail’, they tell you ‘This is so unbelievably difficult and impossible’, hoping that you’ll stay down on the lower rungs with them in the stupid ‘bar-moaner tradition’ that Dominic so brilliantly rang up on a Twtter one fine day. I noticed he wrote in a Twitter that ‘his mum knitted a balaclava for him when he was 9’. I thought that was sweet, he can be like that sometimes. But Dominic is not negative, just fiendishly interested in all these different things, so that he never has that much time to concentrate on just a few things, which is what you can see from the bleug is what I’m doing. Criticisms of the stupid variety have surfaced about this, although that is how you master things, and how you begin to possess things; you can’t possess them all, and if you try to, you’ll end up with nothing. Concentrate on a few things, and get them right. I wrote Nick in that email, about your reading of the Calendar posts as well, and indeed I did appreciate those comments you made. But that’s one example of having gone through a tumultuous horribleness and finally found a way of seeing the myriad forms it tooks, whether internet trolling, lifting bleug-fragments, and now not finding it a burden to converse in a civil way on bleugs. I got rid of all the debris that I was sunk in when I was only commenting, but I suppose that not starting a bleug till I had THIS book (somehow the others weren’t enough to actually make me think to start a bleug, or I would have) made it so I don’t ever let it turn into anything that isn’t like other growths into and out of those more ‘real texts’, as I used to call them more. I don’t take as much care to proof as many bleugers do (including you and Nick), but I also like to do a lot of posts that are like flashes from my books, or sometimes all the way off-topic, or just ‘topical’, and those I usually suppress after awhile.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 11 November 2011 @ 9:26 pm

  103. I enjoyed reading this comment a great deal. Your enthusiasm is palpable here, your exuberance contagious. I know that the words aren’t just flowing out of my fingertips these days, but progress is being made in a more workmanlike way. But I’ve also been finding certain unexpected connections revealing themselves, not so much through spontaneous improvisation but through slower realizations of things that might have remained hidden had I rushed it too much. It’s funny your mentioning the Amazing Dave because I actually have integrated that incident into the book in a way that surprised and pleased me. This book is going to be shorter than the last one, which I wrote in quite a hurry. Like your books, these fit together into a series, and the one I’m writing now has worried me because it needs to serve as a kind of fulcrum, bearing a lot of weight while also balancing the one preceding and the one following. As I’ve been writing it I keep feeling like I’m getting lost, or backing into a dead end, but now I see that it is coming together coherently, in a way that’s not far off from how I’d imagined it before starting. There remains significant uncertainty about moving from here to the end, and I can tell that I’d like to rush it just to get the story finished. But the book will benefit from letting these last sections expand and meander a bit while still sustaining the forward momentum. That means some more halting progress, but again, I’ve drafted half in two months when there were days when I thought I wasn’t going anywhere and that I could just as easily stop without picking it back up again.

    The promotional side of it appeals to me not at all. I suspect you’re right though: one has to regard the process of getting it out there as an extension of the creative act. When I finish this book I may be ready to take on that long-deferred venture.

    Comment by ktismatics — 11 November 2011 @ 10:34 pm

  104. I just realized that talking about side two of an album labels me as either an old timer or a hipster.

    Comment by ktismatics — 12 November 2011 @ 10:58 am

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