Archive for the 'imaginary politics' Category

08
Aug
11

Visual Images without the Visuals – 1a – Summer Camp, maybe 10 years ago

For the longest time it was the only place in the world where I always knew the exact location of the Big Dipper. As an awkward pre-teen, and teen, I spent at least one Saturday night there a summer. The incline of the hill just the perfect angle for stargazing. As I got older I could still spot it, to the bottom left, just above the ‘Boys’ bathroom, standing now instead of laying down. Generally speaking, they were always the same thing. The same ironic nostalgia, nothing current, that wasn’t the point. Eventually the clothes grew as ridiculous and gaudy as the music. Dressing up as a competition. Who can wear more differing prints? More neon? More costume jewelry? More sunglasses at night? More androgyny?

A dark and muggy night like so many others. The colored ropes and Christmas lights blazing. Tiki torches. Not taking requests. Before the switch to Ipods. For the life of me I can’t remember the song that came on before it. Of the cordoned off and encircled space, the least available could be found directly in front of the DJ Booth. A volleyball court, a full size basketball court, the perfectly slanted hill in between, and 3 by 12 feet of dried out and browning grass on the other side of both. The first electronic notes hit and there is no mass convergence inspired by something so out of character. This isn’t Bon Jovi or the Spice Girls. The crowd slowly gets its bearings, as certain people start to recognize what’s happening. It’s the kind of music that makes you lose your job as DJ. Radiohead. The early 2000s uniter, to some. The jam kids and the trustafarians, the punks, the hip-hop kids, the suburban and oblivious, they all collectively seem to have no problem with the band still. Perhaps because they were mislabeled for years as the next Pink Floyd. It’s starting to get really dark now. The crowd descends into the 3 by 12 space of former grass, slowly but en mass, and they don’t dance. They don’t stand still. They don’t mosh or pogo. There is no skanking or lip synching or air-synth jamming. The gathering crowd simply ceases to be single entities. Moving as a whole, up and down, to the constant electronic drum beat. ‘WHO’S IN BUNKER, WHO’S IN BUNKER.” The outfits, the rest of the nights music, including the perpetual last dance ‘American Pie,’ where your friends are, where your girl went, it doesn’t matter. No one lacking control of their facilities, most underage. A strange song for some standards. And yet, it inspires a reaction on a level never seen since. 5 minutes in the woods. Hours until the nearest city. Dial-up only internet. Piles of CDs in binders supplying the music, a stereo borrowed from a low wattage radio station.

07
Oct
09

Celebrities

celebrities whose names are also sentences:

Tom Waits

Pete Rose

Rosa Parks

Mark Spitz

Jeremy Irons

Jeff/Beau/Lloyd/Nash Bridges

Karl Marx or any of the Brothers

Ben Folds

Lester Bangs

Barry Bonds

Wesley Snipes

Britney Spears

Julia Stiles

Leann Rimes

Edward/George/Ken Burns

Bill Withers

Timothy Leary

Drew/Jim Carey

Cary Grant (which works both ways)

16
Jul
09

Notes on Zombies

I just recently had a conversation about the current vogue for zombie related fiction/movies/video games. A friend of mine is playing in a zombie themed band. With the coincident popularity of vampire-centric media, we are in the midst of a full-fledged undead invasion.

Why zombies? Why now? I have a few theories. During the aforementioned conversation, my friend Sandro suggested that perhaps technological alienation lends force to the the humans-must-band-together subplots prevalent in much zombie oriented work. I wondered if maybe the debate over when life ends- at brain death? at loss of heart function?- might be behind the spike in interest around liminal life states like zombies.

I suspect that these are probably part of the allure. However, the theory that most interests me, and that strikes me as likely most responsible for zombie mania, is that our culture’s zombie fascination stems from widespread fear of Muslim terrorists.

In the last decade, the term Islamo-fascism has become one of the hottest political buzzwords in our lexicon. The figure of the terrorist is almost invariably imagined as Arab. Historically, the figure of the Muslim is also strongly aligned with that of the quasi-human and zombie. The western tradition has long associated Muslims with unthinking, uncaring zealots who are quick to cast aside any kind of human conscience to follow religious law. Veils and beards hide their faces, loose robes hide their bodies. They are thus figured as without the prominent visual markers of full humanity. They are cast in countless films (as well as news reports) incomprehensible others bent on the destruction of ‘our way of life’ because they, apparently, ‘hate our freedom’. This kind of simplistic, irrational destructive urge is not dissimilar to the insatiable desire for BRAINS.

In fact, the Muslim-as-Zombie has a long tradition in western thought. During the holocaust, it was common for concentration camp inmates to eventually entirely given up their will to live or any kind of relation to humanity besides that of physical resemblance. These people were literally understood as the undead or walking dead and were a source of terror far more than of pity. They were known as ‘musselmanner’- literally ‘Muslims’ because Muslims were thought not to possess agency or humanity, having submitted wholly to a regime of extremist religious devotion.

A few questions then: Is it any wonder then that the uptick in narratives of zombie invasion should coincide so neatly with the rise of widespread fear of Islamic terrorists? Does our fascination with zombies act simply as a symptom of this fear or does is contribute to the climate in which such fear is bred? Do even counter-narratives of the undead as misunderstood still play into the logic of Muslims as radically and irreducibly alien? Do narratives of zombieism-as-disease legitimate aggressive ‘treatment’ (western interference/regime change)?

21
Mar
09

You know, the Dammned wanted Barrett to produce their second album

“I know a mouse, and he hasn’t got a house, I don’t know why he’s called Gerald, He’s getting old, but he’s a mouse.” He kept repeating over and over again, getting less and less coherent each time, occasionally forgetting words, or swapping in new ones that may or may not have fit. Talk singing, not slurring his speech, but not making sense either, no discernible tune. His red polo shirt was not tucked in, no name tag, reddish blond hair not combed or washed, he was not wearing the required all black shoes.

“I think you should go home Ryan.” Said Henry, the obviously closeted Staples manager, mid thirties, poor knock off of a JFK haircut. All before Ryan even had a chance to get out his box cutter and start shelving the merchandise.

“Forever…?” Ryan asked, sounding increasingly more delirious.

“No, just for today Ryan.” Said Henry, without any of the frustration that a retail manager would presumably have, when one of his employees shows up for a shift obviously stoned. I don’t know exactly when this was during my Junior year of high school. But it must have been somewhere towards the end, because I recommended Ryan, my best friend at the time, for the job, somewhere in the later half of my 6 months of employment at the local Staples. My first real job, with a W2, a punch in clock, a cash register, a uniform.

This scene replays in my mind so easily because Gerald bothered me for awhile. Who was Gerald? Is he actually old? Was that from a song, or just rambling? Since when does Ryan hang out with mice? I never got around to asking him about it, probably because I assumed that he wouldn’t remember what he said, just that he was sent home. Or that the stoned rambling of a suburban teenager doesn’t mean anything. But who’s to say? I’ve never smoked. There was something to the simple notion of this mouse, something that stuck with me. Later that year Ryan and his family moved to the Midwest, and out of my life since.

I thought I missed my answer, until the summer after college when I bought some music at the tag sale of a downstairs neighbor I never knew. I didn’t count them, but I would have to guess that there were close to 300 cassette tapes in the collection. Most of them were hand made, hand labeled, hand written. Years of work. He offered me ten dollars, and I gladly accepted. His wife was not pleased, but he could tell that I was a fan, he could see it in my face. Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Beefheart, Yo La Tengo, Superchunk, 13th Floor Elevators, GBV, classic Flaming Lips, Miles when he got psychedelic, Pavement, Beck, R.E.M. when they were great, the Jesus and Mary Chain, early Sub Pop Compilations. It was a who’s who of the formative years of indie, and all the classic psychedelic stuff that I was missing.

Psychedelic had always been a point for me. I was straight edge for basically all of High School. Worshiping at the alter of Dischord, and lots more embarrassing punk rock things that I don’t care to mention. Think Warped Tour. As vain and silly and predictable as it was: crusty Dreadlocks, safety pin through my ear, band t-shirts, unnecessary patches, duct tape on my Chucks, it was my rebellion. Yes dad shaved off his early 70s hair, and bought a leather jacket at a flea market outside USC in 1978. Yes he saw the Germs. But this was my rebellion because that hair has since grown back. Because of classic rock radio playlists filled with Santana. Because of Dave Mathews band and suburban trustafarians in khaki cargo shorts and hemp necklaces.

It took me until my third year of college to come to terms my roots. I partly blame Freaks and Geeks, for the episode where Lindsey blows off math camp to follow the Dead. I also blame the sale on LPs at the local record store that allowed me to buy ‘Working Man’s Dead’ and ‘American Beauty’ for less than 5 bucks each. Blaming other people, other sources is easy, but I always knew that this was there. Somewhere way down, I was waiting for it, for a way that it could be okay. It came slow. I used to play both of those records softly when I first got them. So my house mates wouldn’t hear, wouldn’t suspect anything. When I was driving myself in my red Subaru station wagon, with all the windows down. That’s when I didn’t have to be ashamed. When I could sing along. I mean, there are limits, I’ve only made it through my inherited and heavily worn LP copy of ‘Europe 72′ once. But put on any of the in-studio classics like ‘Box of Rain’ or ‘Uncle John’s band’ and I know all the words.

It took me a really long time to get through all 300 tapes, because I pretty much only listened to them in that red Subaru station wagon. The year after I graduated I was working cleaning rooms at a bed and breakfast. Commuting and listening to a new tape for me, Pink Floyd on side A, and Hawkwind on side B. I could excuse the Hawkind because of a college professor I had. He wore a different band shirt everyday, had grey hair longer than my dad, almost all the way down his back. Could talk you ear off about Lemmy, and not about the mole on his face or his sideburns, but about his importance as a musician, his role in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The 16 year old inside of me squirmed at the thought of Pink Floyd. I could hear the cash register sound from ‘Money,’ and remember a long boring night where I was nowhere near high enough to believe that Dark Side of the Oz actually works. But I gave it a chance, and I have to say that I was pleased, not overwhelmed at first. But I could see the appeal of Syd Barrett. Understand those articles that I’d read defending the legacy of the early incarnation of the group. I could see where the Television Personalities were coming from. This was ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn,’ not ‘Darkside of the Moon.’ There was no lazer light show. No flying monkeys. Just the sound of overwhelming influence. I could hear so many of my heroes in this, that made it okay, made me more comfortable even though I was alone. And then I got to ‘Bike,’ the last song on the album. About a minute or so in, I almost hit a tree. Almost ran a light, and hit a tree.

“I know a mouse, and he hasn’t got a house/ I don’t know why I call him Gerald/ He’s getting rather old, but he’s a good mouse.” Sings Barret in one of the last verses. That day at Staples came back clearer than ever. I thought of Ryan; the same guy who really got me into punk rock, who had a hardcore band, even a spiked Mohawk for awhile, getting stoned while listening to Pink Floyd. It was okay. Everything that I had worried about, been insecure about. I almost wore out the same tape the year I lived in Chicago. It lived in my Walkman for months at a time. Carrying me on other commutes, or trips to nowhere. Bike rides to the other side of town in inches of snow. Every time I found something new, a riff that drew me in, a lyric, the way Barrett sometimes totally misses notes. It was all there and I was afraid to find it for so long.

07
Mar
09

BODY DOUBLE BODY DOUBLED BODY DOUBLE BODY DOUBLED

Fitting for a heterotopia’s head of state, Ghost Island’s king has two bodies. This is the start of my exploration of the phenomenological condition of the king.

DOUBLED BODY DOUBLE BODY DOUBLED BODY DOUBLE BODY… (mobius strip title)

The king has two bodies. For real though. He has one mind and two bodies. They are not the same body. There is no metaphor. The king has two literal physical separate bodies that are his.

The king does not have one main body and then a supplementary secondary body. He has two individual and co-equal bodies that are both his like my body is mine or like your body is probably yours. They are two distinct bodies that he inhabits and is fully.

One might be tempted to make a kind of tripartite schematic in which the mind or soul is the center term and that in some way controls the two bodies. This is not a correct or proper representation. The king cannot separate body and subject or body and self. Like us, his self and body are the co-productive of each other- intermixed and inseparable.

(cont.)

g




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