Friday, March 31, 2006

"Look, I'm sorry I'm such a bitch."

Never believe a queen who says that, or who begins any rant with the words, "Look, I'm sorry I'm such a bitch, but..."

Because a real queen is deeply satisfied with being a bitch.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Newsweek frees a meme

I love seeing my thoughts echoed in print because it makes me believe in nifty shit like synchronicity, or maybe that Hundredth Monkey phenomenon where I spontaneously get brains when somebody somewhere frees a meme.

Jerry Adler writes Newsweek's March 27th headline story Freud is not Dead.

Well some of Freud is dead. Like pop psychology and jive talk therapy - the most annoying additions to the 20th century, aside from war, famine, pestilence, big hair, and valley girls - those are dead. But then there was that usefully cool shit about Oedipus, the death drive, fantasy, and ideology.

I read Freud in the early 90s, just when the world was looking and feeling too intolerably good for upper, middle, and upper-middle class white people. Social and economic progress was too much to bear. There were no more bogey men to animate their fears - so they looked inward to their own dissipated existence and found that they could torture themselves with the content of their own fundamental fantasies and then torture the rest of us by filling the airwaves with false recovered repressed memories of ritual psuedosexual nonabuse.

Newsweek ended the article by referencing the same disgusting stank:
It is no accident...that Freud's reputation reached a low point in the early 1990s, which was not only the height of the recovered-memory hysteria, but also of the post-cold-war optimism that made a best seller of Francis Fukuyama's book "The End of History." Fukuyama predicted that the dissolution of the Soviet Union would pave the way for the triumph of liberal democracy around the world - an idea that came crashing to the ground one sunny morning in 2001...What Freud has to say, which is worth hearing even if analysis never cures another patient, is that history will never end. Because it is made by human beings.
OK Newsweek, but even that sobering conclusion is too sanguine. Because in fact history can end whenever some Christian or Muslim Fundamentalist fucktard wants it that way.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sex, Love, Stability (choose any two)

This great quote from an article about Brokeback marriages in the New York Times:
Helen Fisher, a research anthropologist at Rutgers University, said in an interview that human partnerships are shaped by three independent neurochemical brain-body systems, responsible respectively for sexual attraction, romantic yearning, and long-term attachment.

"The three systems are very fickle. They can act together, or they can act separately," Dr. Fisher said. This, she said, helps explain why people can be wildly sexually attracted to those they have no romantic interest in, and romantically drawn to — or permanently attached to — people who hold no sexual interest. "Once the system is triggered, it's so chemically powerful that you can easily overlook everything about that person that doesn't work for you," Dr. Fisher said. "Even straight people have fallen in love with people they could never make a life with," she said.
This is why I hate answering the dater's question - you know the one - So uh what r u lookin 4? - even though - as the article suggests - there would seem to be only three possible answers: sex, love, or stability. (1) The truth is you can never give the right answer - which is such a defiance of the laws of probability - that those of us who ever tried to answer that question honestly could really have done better and been more theatrical by casting spells or chanting incantations across the dinner table. (2) What people want can't be satisfied by someone who poses that question fifteen seconds after saying "hello" because - hello - life is not a cheap remake of Evita, nor does it obey the laws of Dramatic Unity whereby a young couple meets, fights, saves the world, fucks, and falls in love before the credits roll. (3) And here's where I get pretty damned biographical: any dumb sonuvabitch who can't share what he wants before he asks the same from me will be served notice: "Excuse me, but if you can't just say what you want, you should learn to make conversation, and you are too old not to know better. You've been served. Now good night."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

And on the right kids, you'll see a police state!

In case you didn't already know, Sandra Day O'Connor just thought she'd make sure you do:
Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and former communist countries where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O’Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strongarm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.
The former Supreme Court Justice was talking to kids at Georgetown University who now have the same horrible insight as her plus the onerous duty of having to do something about it. Hey but don't let that spoil tonight's keg party kids!

Monday, March 06, 2006

1806-2006: Bicentennial of the End of History

The End of History: I love that campy academic idea.

To commemorate the bicentennial on this blog, I link to Francis Fukuyama's lecture The End of History? presented at the University of Chicago to an audience including the late Allan Bloom.

In 1806, as Napolean I and the French army defeated the Prussians at Jena, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel wrote that civilisation had reached the End of History. What was he thinking? Napolean of course had been a general in the fledging French Republic before seizing power as an "enlightened despot."

For Hegel, it was about the big picture, the evolution of society from tribe, to theocracy, to democracy, not about the bumps and snags along the way. Hegel believed that after winning independence in the US (1776) and France (1789), humanity had realized the ideal of Liberal Democracy and so achieved the final evolution of human government, never to look back, because there were no more unbearable and irrational contradictions to resolve. But others begged to differ. Communists of course thought that inherent contradictions between Labor and Capital would force an evolution to Socialism. Facists saw inherent human political, psychological, and moral weaknesses (anomie) as contradictions to be resolved by martial dictatorship. At least yesterday's facists stated their case clearly.

I first heard this phrase "end of history" in 1995 as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois - Chicago, just a few years after Francis Fukuyama published his 1992 book The End of History and The Last Man. Having a dark sense of humor, an appreciation of camp, and an apocalyptic imagination, of course I made this idea my own. You have to realize that, in 1992, things were looking pretty good. People swaggered with the belief that global peace could really follow economic and political liberalization. As for myself, I was not so predisposed to such happy talk.

I want to believe. But I cannot - not yet. And so I add my two cents with just two words. To Georg Hegel and to Francis Fukuyama, I say "death drive."


Sunday night I read this uncannily accurate description of our present circumstances (quoted below) while preparing the post for our bicentennial. Here's what Hegel - in 1806 - says to us today:
"The masses are the victims of the deception of a priesthood which, in its envious conceit, holds itself to be the sole possessor of insight and pursues its other selfish ends as well. At the same time it conspires with despotism which...stands above the bad insight of the multitude and the bad intentions of the priests, and yet unites both within itself. From the stupidity and confusion of the people brought about the the trickery of priestcraft, despotism, which despises both, draws for itself the advantage of undisturbed domination and the fulfilment of its desires and caprices, but is itself at the same time this same dullness of insight, the same superstition and error."
- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, p.330