Saturday, 17 September 2016

Landscape with Minotaur

When I walk across the meadow
At a brisk clip
The haemophiliac light
haemorrhaging in the West
half expecting to see
on the other side of the river
the city of sacrifice
a yak, a water buffalo, a llama
the puma-shaped city
“the butts of the rest”
the bats swim by
the minotaur
just below the tree line
keeping their distance
the train roars
in my rear
the turn of the boars
boats …

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Landscape with Hypnos

Infiltrated, polluted and cajoled by podcast-(p)ushers spamming up my emails, I listened to a podcast from the New Yorker – one of a whole swarm of podcasts supposed to turn you if not overnight at least after countless hours of dazed listening into a genius or someone who can reasonably fake it.   The New Yorker podcasts house hours and miles of author voices – who can put you straight to sleep.  For the first time ever I heard words of Harold Brodkey whom I mixed up with Joseph Brodsky (so much better – a direct descendant on his father’s side of an ‘ancient Rabbinic dynasty’).  Harold Brodkey died almost in the same Aids wave in New York as Reiner Schürmann (sociological curiosity my excuse for listening to his ‘story’).  The reader is a gay writer of a certain age (who doesn’t want to be necessarily considered gay in his writing) from Cincinnati.  

The story “Dumbness is Everything” is fairly rudimentary – only just giving the lay of the land – that sexualized geography around NYC in its rich hinterlands of Westchester County and a married couple driving home drunk from one of their boozy parties.  Just a few breaths before the word popped up in the story – I already heard, felt, smelled – this is Gatsby land – and obligingly in the foaming spray of words – out came “Gatsbyoid” to describe the power vectors tensing between the conjugal two backed beast on the conjugal  sublet lawn under the starry skies of Great Gatsby country.  The beginning of the tale is promising – a few asides about the property relations of the wife’s Mafiosi-ish family.  The reader of the story, whose choice it is, says it is about class and class bodies – somehow a taboo in American prose.  Upper Mafiosi class, Harvard class – the Jewish boy ‘made good’ who sneaked into Harvard is pitted against the she-demon scion of a Mafiosi family whose considerable not so old wealth comes from money laundering and shady real estate deals.  (Sort of a fifties ancestral prototype of the dynastic union between Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump?) 

She moves as if she were brandishing a riding crop.  Where they live though seems to be in essence parvenu-pariah land – the other houses scattered on the slope are “owned by Jews”.  So is this sexed up class war really just a turf war between rival fractions of the pariah-parvenu class – rather than a genuine gentile versus pariah reciprocal seppuku/lingchi pact?  A moot point?

Other than the ‘mindless topology of the highway’ - the only setting of the scene Brodkey concedes is how the couple in their drunken stupor try to ferry in unnoticed into that Westchester village where they are domiciled, sneaking past the only light – the lighted gas station and police station.  This sounded so familiar.  Almost.  Except the lighted police station in our village is just a mock up – or even if it’s lighted and even if police bodies are inside they’re not there for us, to protect us.  They’re there explicitly professionally to ignore us.  It is an empty shell of a police station but conscious of its emptiness.

Besides these two monuments of rural villagehood – the story never strays from the grounds of their estate.  They live in the caretaker’s cottage which they never reach in that very long story – seeming to end numerous times but refusing to die just like that.  (Brodkey wrote it at the end of his terminal illness.)  They stop at the lawn – a sloping lawn, near a garage, a stone or brick wall – where clothes are torn, pulled off – and then it’s just the landscape of their fucking bodies on the lawn – commandeering and commanded – a few token snatches of dialogue about ‘who might see us’ – how alone they are on their expensive borrowed lawn.  Sex in that vintage year some time in the fifties – “at sea on the lawn” – had a bronze like character.  Bronze kisses, caresses, ‘nuzzles’, licks, scratches and other tactile ploys – the woman is unexpectedly a ‘bad kisser’ but her mushy lips thicken the plot.  The gargantuan fuck on the lawn – Westchester County’s tribute to “Dejeuner sur l’herbe” - is interrupted occasionally so the author can take note of plant life, the air, a passing cloud of party ghosts.  The story’s reader denies that there is any nostalgia in it.   The present of 1954 or so is just not happening now, but somehow eternally then.

Brodkey does his best to de-conjugalize the sexual congress on the lawn – to make it less proprietary.  Still the story begins with an inventory of property relations – lest doubts arise later – on whose land they’re fucking. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Landscape with Dilettanti

Boat Dilettanti
Fishermen/Angler dilettanti
Drug dealing cocaine snorters
Who fornicate in the pub garden
Working Men’s Club dilettanti
And Handymen ultra dilettanti
“none of us are experts”
three tiles are missing in your roof
won’t cost you a thing
postmen dilettanti
Wet mail all curled up in a corner dilettanti
Costco Thai curry pub food dilettanti
à la carte Lebanese night dilettanti
taking Christmas reservations now
Costa spiv dilettanti
sidewalk café dilettanti
volunteer firemen dilettanti
tutti quelli che
et tutti quanti

( Engendered by the use of the word dilettanti in the egregious British film “The Governess” where the lord of the manor character named Cavendish – an amateur naturalist in a remote pile on the Isle of Skye – dabbles in camera obscura pre-photography – until finally the Sephardic Jewess faux Christian governess-jus-primae-noctis-lay discovers the magic potion for fixing the image – salt water.  He expresses the fear he would appear to be a dilettanti.)

Sunday, 1 May 2016

"We will catch up with you." - Nazi Philo-Zionism Read Backwards

The Jews were always meant to be the engine of their own extermination machine – the Nazi plan was for their genocide (to the greatest degree possible) – be self-financing, self-propelling, self-executioning.  Such economic thinking was not specific or exclusive to the Nazi design for mass murder – it was in keeping with the Ur-cell of all German national economic thought – maximized autarchy.
Jewish cultural, social and political institutions and aspirations including the desire for national self-determination should never cease to accelerate the momentum of the Final Solution.  
The Hitler dispositif was also opportunistic, Hitler and the SS often made it up as they went along.  Zionism in the thirties was an ascending force in the Jewish community – even more it was roiling within the territorial jurisdiction of their rival – and highly emulated model – the British Empire’s “Mandatory Palestine”.  What a tempting morsel for SS appetites – a quasi-self selecting pure Jewish colony under direct colonial rule.  No wonder the various members of the SS “Jewish Department” like its head Baron von Mildenstein and his protégé Eichmann were so energized by their visits to Palestine – waxing lyrical with almost genuine admiration for Jewish feats of pioneering in their towns and kibbutzim.  Mildenstein – a ‘völkisch’ Nazi spent 6 months in Palestine at the beginning of Hitler’s reign researching pro-Zionist articles for the Nazi press.             

Following the British lead – the Nazi-Hitler strategists in the German Foreign Office under Konstantin von Neurath sought to manipulate unrest and internecine battles within the various populations under their control for their own hegemonic pursuits – including of course the conatus for self-determination.  Just as T.E. Lawrence co-engineered Allenby’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem towards the end of World War I on the back of the demise of Ottoman power and with the muscle of the irregular legions of Emir Faisal, son of the Sharif of Mecca – the Nazis thought to use the German Zionists to disrupt and undermine the British hold on Palestine.  The SS became rigorous Zionist recruiters – forcing German Jews to ‘ethnicize’ themselves in line with the Nazi Weltanschauung of racial purity and separation – learn Hebrew, stop speaking German and acquire useful trades for Palestine.  Mildenstein and Eichmann almost went native – studying Hebrew themselves, listening to Hebrew folksong records in their office. (How ironic that some thirty years later Eichmann was tried and put to death in his beloved Zionist Palestine – by that time Israel.) But unlike the British tactics and methods – the Nazi expansion drive was not merely intent on using Zionist colonies to secure a bridgehead for their own imperial designs on Palestine and the region.  The concentration of Jews in Palestine was to have been a proto-ghetto – perhaps even a model for all those Jewish ghettos-to-come along the route of their exterminatory invasion of Europe – the waiting rooms for the death camps.

For a brief period in the mid thirties Hitler and his SS followed a stratagem of ostentatiously favouring and grooming Zionist organizations in Germany.  This ‘experiment’ was as much a prelude to genocide as the ‘Nuremberg Laws’ - just another means of extracting German Jews from the German ‘body politic’ – softening them up for ‘the kill’.  The Nazis in fact defended “the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935, the finishing touches of Germany’s pre-Second World War anti-Jewish legislation (…) as an expression of their pro-Zionism.” (Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of Dictators, Croom Helm, Lawrence Hill, 1983, First Internet Edition, pdf, AAARGH 2004, p. 85)  As Lenni Brenner further notes: “The Zionists could not even claim that they were duped by Hitler; they conned themselves.  Hitler’s theories on Zionism, including the Jews’ alleged inability to create a state, had been there in plain German since 1926.  The Zionists ignored the fact that Hitler hated all Jews, and he specifically condemned their own ideology.” (ibid. p. 89)

Hitler’s Zionist ruse though still has the power to captivate and deceive to this day – as shown by Ken Livingstone’s recent credulous exhuming of the Nazi bogus pro-Zionist policy in his shrill claim “Hitler supported Zionism”.  The German Zionist Jews who were taken in by Hitler’s attentions, wouldn’t have imagined in 1933-38 what the ultimate goal of Nazi policy towards the Jews was to be – but what’s Livingstone’s excuse?  As Queen’s Evidence for his case Livingstone has shanghaied Lenni Brenner’s 1983 study Zionism in the Age of Dictators – failing though to grasp its many subtleties.  This is how Lenni Brenner summarizes Hitler’s ‘Zionism’ – and the tragic complicity of part of the Zionist establishment with Nazi pre-genocidal immigration politics.
“However, the fact that the Zionists became Adolf Hitler’s ‘favoured children’ hardly qualified him as a Jewish nationalist.  Even von Mildenstein, for all his Hebrew records, accepted the party line when it turned to outright murder.  Throughout this period the Nazis toyed with the Zionists as a cat would play with a mouse.  Hitler never thought he was letting anyone get away from him because he was encouraging Jews to go to Palestine.  If the Jews went to far-away America, he might never be able to get at them and they would remain the foes of the German Empire in Europe.  But if they went to Palestine instead?  ‘There’, as a Gestapo agent told a Jewish leader, ‘we will catch up with you.’ ” (ibid.) 

Fortunately history ‘caught up’ with Nazi Germany – too late for the Jews of Europe – but in time for the Jews of Palestine.  That is when they turned their attention and energies to expelling the British from Palestine with all the means of persuasion at their disposal.  Although later an ex-member of the Stern Gang and Anglophile of sorts, habitué of a famous bohemian café in Jerusalem across the street from the ‘Old Knesset’ was wont to lament after several cognacs “If the British ever return to Palestine, we should cut off their legs so they stay here with us.”  It was Labour’s privilege under Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin to oversee that painful withdrawal of the British presence from ‘Mandatory Palestine’ and contraction of the British Empire.  Ernest Bevin – the foreign minister – Labourite workhorse and buffo ogre – conducted the immense retreat of British imperialism from the Palestine theatre.  Are Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn still grieving for that particular loss of British power on Labour’s watch?          

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Being-With Party and Other Scenes of the English Province

The Being-With Party

The Being-With party hung out on the brown strip two doors down. This proves that ekstasis need not move very far – or that what seems to be outside self is merely a regrouping of it.  The immediate neighbors one door down posed for a long while in middle field.  The curly blond occiput of the doctor’s wife was visible in conversation with a florid white haired white bearded man in a straw hat (an important retired albino) – his head was big and clunky, the way dwarfs’ heads tend to appear  – intermittently she let her conversation flow towards the neighbors one door down.  I watched them through a ‘hit man’’ wide slit in the blind, afraid they might notice.
Somehow I was magnetically attracted to this demonstration of suburban group power.  Flesh was present and accounted for its own accounting.  The party mise en scène was very sparsely decorated.  Besides the green marquee, the party flag – that was where the food and drink were quartered – too few chairs.  The solid talk in the hot shadeless July sun from 1 to 8 approximately – gave off a constant roar.  Where the bras (D plus cup) and panties (size 18 at least) of the hostess usually flutter from their laundry ‘spider’ in full view – this is where the party made its stand.  You could feel how parties in the English province give rise to Parties. 

The categorical imperative is also a Being-With, the presence of the collective other inside, especially as a punisher.  In that sense Socrates was his own executioner.  Seneca is another example.  Nietzsche’s word from Selbst-Henker.  All relations of fealty:  Until the ‘emancipation’ via Capital, relations of fealty were the norm.  Was that the same sort of Being-With as when those relations became sublimated in the commodity form?  Every relation within Capital is one of radical separation – separating the worker-consumer from the means of production; the relations (of no relation) between humans in the community are regulated by/through the universal equivalent – money.  Like money they are equally fungible – quantifiable.  The spectacle says Debord is the unified appearance of this separation.  Yet relations of fealty persist, survive in the spectacle of power alias ‘the state’.  One owes the state an allegiance, occasionally expressed in the swearing of oaths, which is not just translatable in monetary equivalents.  Treason is also a crime of or against fealty. The justice system enforces fealty – non-contractual relations.  For instance when you refuse to serve in the military, pay your taxes or fulfil your custodial obligations towards a dependent.  Or the legally binding marital vows in front of a magistrate – “I solemnly declare etc, etc.” 
The state perpetuates itself as the spectacle of a world exceeding or removed from the universal equivalent – in that way it presents itself always as a receptacle/an archive for the archaic (pageantry and ostentation), an endearing ‘throwback’ to all more ‘pure’ forms of obligation existing before and ‘outside’ of epochal capitalism.   


Village Scenes – and Inmates

One of those couples came down from the hills.  I was standing in front of the bananas in the village supermarket, trying to find a few ripe ones.  From the side, in my blind angle, an old fart started handling the bananas himself.  All I saw was his withered liver spotted claw shifting the packages.  Then he spoke to me in a loud inquisitorial voice, full of the petulance of old queers – “Are you sorting the bananas?”, a question which made no sense except as an insult or a comment on my touching – for his taste – too many of the bananas.  I should have said something offensive, but I wasn’t quick enough – rather startled to hear any sounds coming from that obscure direction.  (Creeping up from behind with a verbal cudgel is a typical British manoeuvre.)  When I turned around I saw the frightened face of his companion, his greasy pomaded hair, a round crude rutted face of an ex-convict or one who has to play the role for a senescent employer. After the bananas, it was the turn of the oranges.  The old man pawed them aimlessly, pointing certain ones out to his companion.  Had he thought I was a stocker in mufti?  Or in his long life had he always found the world just waiting to be of service?
A woman in a black dress with a wide red belt around her narrow waist stepped out of a car in front of the old people’s flats.  Soon there were more black suited people hurrying towards the entrance.  Their clothes looked fresh out of the mothballs, typical for a village funeral.  Most were smiling, a fat woman looked like she was eagerly awaiting a good tea.

A hot June afternoon is a good occasion for a personality or a wife swap – as when I looked outside and saw what could only be the neighbour lady’s doppelgänger lying in her commodious lawn chair.  But any impersonator of someone has him/herself to disappear completely.  The impersonator is the superfluous identity, acquiring the identity of someone else who disappears in the bodily sense, but persists in the guise of the invaded host. 

Twyford on the London-Oxford line is very sexological.  A big poster on the train platform asked and answered the faux survey question: “Why do so many women fake orgasms – because so many men fake foreplay.”  The poster showed a woman with a face like Emmanuelle photographed from above, her head on an ethereal pillow.  The only people on the benches waiting for the train were women, young women.  In that moment I saw them all faking orgasms. 


The State Visit

Where I saw only the procession of the irresistible adorable red Chinese Emperor on his state visit to his British dominion – his subjects and their grandees panting for his emperor’s touch and trillions of yuan, the Queen perhaps wetly fantasizing about how it would feel to be ‘empress of China’ – Stewart Lee, writing in the Guardian, had an outbreak of Tourette’s syndrome in the form of dead empire rage.  Perhaps the state visit of Xi Jinping brought back bad memories of how the British had to cough up Hong Kong – much to their displeasure - and even worse panic fears that it soon might be the time of London.

Instead of this aimable homme du monde très poli, ruler of the world hegemon, he pretended to see only a giant red ass – volcanically spouting and spewing farts and excrements over Westminster, Buckingham Palace and the English pub.  At the state banquet all the greats of this land – headed by the Queen – lined up to either kiss or lick this ass. (As one knows psychoanalytically speaking money/gold and faeces are one.)  Only the ‘first born’ (meaning Charles) was for some reason absent from this divertissement after the fashion of the “Divine Marquis”.  I did wonder why all the blood royals except for the Queen were somewhere hidden from view.  Only the Duchess of Cambridge was seated quite alone next to the Emperor.  Had they offered her - in her blood red gown and tiara – as a serviette for the Emperor’s bodily waste?  She looked a little like a cooked goose herself.