A response to Mimus Pauly

Earlier this week, I wrote an essay entitled "Plucking their Strings". My main argument was that progressives will need to abandon their boy-scout-goody-two-shoes ways if they ever expect to gain political power. My conclusion was that we'd do well to verse ourselves in "the dark arts of Rove". Anyhow, Mimus Pauly violently disagreed with me in a post at A Mockingbird's Melody. Therefore, I thought I'd respond to a few particulars (I'm letting the numerous Ad-Hominems slide). Mimus Pauly's questions are denoted by bold italics.

But what the bloody Christ is wrong with Nick Lewis?!

Quite a few people, including myself, have been asking that question since I was in Kindergarden. Even today, the answers remain elusive.One, who the fuck are you to decide what's "true, just, and beautiful" for everyone else?

Those words "true, just, and beautiful" were the result of laziness on my part; I was hoping the reader would just "fill in" those meaningless words. It wasn't my intention to suggest that it was my place to decide anything for anyone else.

Fukitol: The New Miracle Drug

Via Chief Blogging Officer (a fantastic blog brought to my attention by Iddybud)

Inverted Totalitarianism

By Sheldon Wolin The Nation (spring 2003)

The war on Iraq has so monopolized public attention as to obscure the regime change taking place in the Homeland. We may have invaded Iraq to bring in democracy and bring down a totalitarian regime, but in the process our own system may be moving closer to the latter and further weakening the former. The change has been intimated by the sudden popularity of two political terms rarely applied earlier to the American political system. "Empire" and "superpower" both suggest that a new system of power, concentrated and expansive, has come into existence and supplanted the old terms. "Empire" and "superpower" accurately symbolize the projection of American power abroad, but for that reason they obscure the internal consequences. Consider how odd it would sound if we were to refer to "the Constitution of the American Empire" or "superpower democracy." The reason they ring false is that "constitution" signifies limitations on power, while "democracy" commonly refers to the active involvement of citizens with their government and the responsiveness of government to its citizens. For their part, "empire" and "superpower" stand for the surpassing of limits and the dwarfing of the citizenry.

If only Foucault had lived to see the Internet...

"I dream of a new age of curiosity. We have the technical means for it; the desire is there; the things to be known are infinite; the people who can employ themselves at this task exist. What are we suffering from? From too little: from channels that are too narrow, skimpy, quasi-monopolistic, insufficient. There is no point in adopting a protectionist attitude, to prevent "bad" information from invading and suffocating the "good". Rather we must multiply the paths and the possibility of comings and goings... Which doesn't mean, as is often feared, the homogenization and leveling from below. But on the contrary, the differentiation and simultaneity of different networks." -Michel Foucault

Thank you J.L.

This medium cannot express my gratitude. Thank you for the support, and motivation.

Recording 'Ass.' of America Sues Dead Woman

The Register(UK) Reports:

Death is no obstacle to feeling the long arm of the Recording Industry Ass. of America. Lawyers representing several record companies have filed suit against an 83 year-old woman who died in December, claiming that she made more than 700 songs available on the internet.

Dan Gillmor thinks that it is probably a P.R. Stunt:

Maybe these "mistakes" aren't mistakes at all. Maybe they're designed to get publicity, to make sure that we all get the message that the music companies are willing to be totally unscrupulous -- and not at all careful about aiming their lawsuits at actual infringers -- in their zeal to stop any unauthorized use of their material. Could they be that sleazy? Hard to believe, but then suing dead people is pretty far-fetched in a normal universe.

The Art of Donald McGill

By George Orwell

Who does not know the ‘comics’ of the cheap stationers’ windows, the penny or twopenny coloured post cards with their endless succession of fat women in tight bathing-dresses and their crude drawing and unbearable colours, chiefly hedge-sparrow’s-egg tint and Post Office red?

This question ought to be rhetorical, but it is curious fact that many people seem to be unaware of the existence of these things, or else to have a vague notion that they are something to be found only at the seaside, like [censored] minstrels or peppermint rock. Actually they are on sale everywhere—they can be bought at nearly any Woolworth’s, for example—and they are evidently produced in enormous numbers, new series constantly appearing. They are not to be confused with the various other types of comic illustrated post card, such as the sentimental ones dealing with puppies and kittens or the Wendyish, sub-pornographic ones which exploit the love affairs of children. They are a genre of their own, specializing in very ‘low’ humour, the mother-in-law, baby’s-nappy, policemen’s-boot type of joke, and distinguishable from all the other kinds by having no artistic pretensions. Some half-dozen publishing houses issue them, though the people who draw them seem not to be numerous at any one time.

I have associated them especially with the name of Donald McGill because he is not only the most prolific and by far the best of contemporary post card artists, but also the most representative, the most perfect in the tradition. Who Donald McGill is, I do not know. He is apparently a trade name, for at least one series of post cards is issued simply as ‘The Donald McGill Comics’, but he is also unquestionable a real person with a style of drawing which is recognizable at a glance. Anyone who examines his post cards in bulk will notice that many of them are not despicable even as drawings, but it would be mere dilettantism to pretend that they have any direct aesthetic value. A comic post card is simply an illustration to a joke, invariably a ‘low’ joke, and it stands or falls by its ability to raise a laugh. Beyond that it has only ‘ideological’ interest. McGill is a clever draughtsman with a real caricaturist’s touch in the drawing of faces, but the special value of his post cards is that they are so completely typical. They represent, as it were, the norm of the comic post card. Without being in the least imitative, they are exactly what comic post cards have been any time these last forty years, and from them the meaning and purpose of the whole genre can be inferred.

Get hold of a dozen of these things, preferably McGill’s—if you pick out from a pile the ones that seem to you funniest, you will probably find that most of them are McGill’s—and spread them out on a table. What do you see?

Your first impression is of overpowering vulgarity. This is quite apart from the ever-present obscenity, and apart also from the hideousness of the colours. They have an utter low-ness of mental atmosphere which comes out not only in the nature of the jokes but, even more, in the grotesque, staring, blatant quality of the drawings. The designs, like those of a child, are full of heavy lines and empty spaces, and all the figures in them, every gesture and attitude, are deliberately ugly, the faces grinning and vacuous, the women monstrously paradied, with bottoms like Hottentots. Your second impression, however, is of indefinable familiarity. What do these things remind you of? What are they’so like? In the first place, of course, they remind you of the barely different post cards which you probably gazed at in your childhood. But more than this, what you are really looking at is something as traditional as Greek tragedy, a sort of sub-world of smacked bottoms and scrawny mothers-in-law which is a part of Western European consciousness. Not that the jokes, taken one by one, are necessarily stale. Not being debarred from smuttiness, comic post cards repeat themselves less often than the joke columns in reputable magazines, but their basic subject-matter, the KIND of joke they are aiming at, never varies.

Think Progress

The Center for America Progress is now publishing a new blog called Think Progress. I'm Impressed. Listed below is their explanation of "what we're all about":

What We're Fighting For:

What We're Fighting Against:

[Link to Think Progress]

A Frame for Framing

Aldon Hynes shares some advice from a friend of his on how Progressives can communicate their message more effectively:

Get in touch with your own values; know them well. Engage in respectful discussions with people with different viewpoints. Do not argue. Do not be vitriolic. Express your values and find common ground with the person you’ve been talking with. Shake hands over your newfound friend; go buy him or her a beer. Participate in the local culture. Watch a Sitcom, go to a little league game, attend a PTA meeting, and chat at a beauty salon. Embrace and smile, knowing we are all Americans after all.

[read more]


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