Sunday, October 31, 2004

Well, it looks as though yahoo has backed up my claims made at dissensus, about atheism being a comparatively young phenomenon, historically speaking. Just take a look at this list:

You just can't argue with that.

Friday, October 29, 2004

have been wandering about the net, in lieu of making the final 'sprint' through four large essays... and came across this, through this site here. i found it so haunting, i felt that i needed to propagate it (which is what blogs are for, so it's possibly a little out of place to be justifying it like this... ho hum, self-blogconsciousness. tho it does feel as though i'm riding on someone else's coat tails by lifting this...)

also, as a result of k-punk and georges bataille reading, i've been looking up things about gnosticism. if i were to pick a religion, that would be the one for me. not that i mean to sound so flippant - that is, in-a-supermarket sounding (i'm not shopping for 'spirituality'). i just feel that i need to start mapping out my philosophical allegiances. sure i like nietzsche, but now what do i do with him? what do i make of bataille's grasping at filth? and what about this whole spinozist-machine thing over at k-punk? or walter benjamin's project of history-as-revelation, kabbalah-marxist style?

oh, and i'm finding this whole "hobbits in indonesia" thing rather exciting. it makes the news slightly less repetitious - rewriting history, rather than exploding the present with "news!" tho this might be another bataille thing - since reading his Lascaux, or the Birth of Painting, i'm intrigued by prehistorical stuff.

i honestly think that i must be the most easily influenced person in the world. almost every theorist i read, i think about emulating - nietzsche, deleuze and guattari, bataille... it goes back a long way, too. i remember during 'quiet reading time' in year 3, reading the children's bible, and interpreting the calmness i felt afterwards as "god wanting me to be a saint". flash-forward 12 years to the bataille presentation i gave at the beginning of the semester - after getting no sleep the night before giving the talk, i messaged my girlfriend before leaving for uni in order to tell her, quite seriously, that "i am a prophet, and am walking to uni where i will teach my class the ubermensch". eek. i wore my 'jesus is my homeboy' t-shirt (bought in new york, and therefore not tragic like the ones bought in dangerfield here in melbourne) too, so that people might better recognise my resemblance to john the baptist. alarming but true.

(jung would call me an 'extrovert', overly concerned with the world of objects - but then again, jung talks new-age horseshit, so i won't pay too much mind to that.)

cd of the moment - dizzee rascal's showtime. it's just so nice to have a new cd that isn't a "greatest hits" type one, bought at the behest of the fam. tho i can't play it with ma around the house... sigh, the generation gap...

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


was just searching google with the terms "milkshake kelis mp3" (not that i've got anything on the brain or anything... it's in the bibliography for the research proposal, i promise you), and oddly turned up only12 entries - all of which seemed to refer to pages in russian. I then realised that I had typed in not 'milkshake' but milkshape - which is apparently what the song turns into when in the cyrillic alphabet - or when typoed by someone with a cyrillic alphabet, perhaps ??? Interesting.
As you may or may not have noticed, I have changed the subtitle of my blog from "blogs from the underground" (Dostoevsky reference) to "my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard". Heheh, milkshake.

In other news

I gotta fill out a research proposal for Honours ... aaah, my lack of intellectual credibility exposed...

Friday, October 22, 2004

... which is not, of course, how it was seen by the other side ...

following my previous post, you might be interested to read this: how bob larson himself interpreted his visit from john safran. oh, isn't it quaint, how americans see the world...
thought(s?) on john safran's monday night show

i have commented a few times - chiefly in symposiasts' comment boxes - about the effect that watching john safran's exorcism had on me, and the thoughts it engendered. it's not worth repeating (who wants to read the same statements all over again?) what has been said in many other places, about the figure of the exorcist, bob larson, and whether or not john was 'faking it'. but i do wish to make some comments of my own.

when watching, i was struck by how unusual the dynamic of this group-witnessed/participated exorcism was, in comparison to the meetings/masses of what might be called more 'mainstream' christianity - from catholicism to new-fangled, entertainment-centre evangelical christianity. there, the focus is the sermon, and participation is generally quite watered-down: 'singing and praying' is as involved as it gets, and the congregation keeps its attention focussed largely within itself.

but in the instance of the exorcism, there was active involvement. the prayer was directed, as though the people in the room were in a tug-of-war or arm wrestle with the demons in john's body. there was a sense that their willpower and concentration were having an effect. if they didn't pray hard, then the demons might not leave - which, in turn, made it dramatic! all the more so, because there was a focus on one person: the pushed-about figure of john safran, being taunted and confronted by the exorcist.

i'll cut to the crux of my point. it was as though safran effectively took the position of a communal sacrifice within this ritual. larson proclaimed his christianity, yet what the ordeal resembled was closer to approaching the footage of the voodoo goat sacrifice that john took part in a few weeks before. the hysteria, the climaxes, the atmosphere in the room, the crying, the collapsing, the violence... john safran was bullied and pushed around for a higher cause - accessing demons and dispelling them. isn't this close to what took place with the sacrifice of the goat? abomination for a cause? and furthermore, there is surely only a difference of degree between summoning demons to be possessed, and summoning demons in order to tell them to piss off in the name of christ.

in summary, i find that the most astonishing thing about what bob larson did to john safran is not that he pushed him about and hit him with a bible, but is rather that the role that this violence (verbal and physical) played was an oddly archaic one - and, indeed, one that resembled the practices of precisely those "occult" religions that were proclaimed to be so antithetical to the beliefs and practices of christians.

quick, someone get john safran on the phone - there are some questions that he needs to be asked...

Monday, October 11, 2004

Well, everyone knows that this whole election business is fucked, so there's no need to dwell on that. I handed out how-to-vote cards for 10 hours, got sunburnt, attempted to make conversation with the Mormon-resembling Family First volunteer (wearing a white shirt, black pants, a tie, a name badge, who got involved through a "community group", read evangelical church, who only listens to Christian radio...) and still nothing. Or worse than nothing - I was handing out cards for the Democrats (the demise of which has seen votes go back to the major parties, not wholly towards the Greens) and whose preferences seem to have been at least partially responsible for the Family First party getting a senator in Victoria. Jesus Christ.

It really does make it seem that the political landscape of the 1990s was just a dream. A dream in which support for the two-party system looked to be wearing thin, in which John Howard was just a minor inconvenience... But now, it looks as if Paul Keating really was just a flash in the pan.

The upside of handing out things at the polling booth is that I got to see just who it is that votes in the Australian election. It's not pretty. But more on that later. I still feel nauseous.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Speaking of which

The excerpt from Walter Benjamin's Theses on the Philosophy of History at the end of this post suits is posted with reference to k-p on the destruction of the Mayan civilisation. Quoth k-punk:

A whole civilization went up in smoke. ...

When the Spaniards arrived, they found the Mayan
aristocrats lolling in hammocks. Well, time to show them what is what. Five
captured workers, bound and stripped, are castrated on a stump, the bleeding,
sobbing, screaming bodies thrown into a pile...

But at least they made 'aesthetically superior' things
out of that gold, folks, so don't sweat it...

And now, here's Walter:

To historians who wish to relive an era, Fustel de Coulanges recommends that they blot out everything they know about the later course of history. There is no better way of characterising the method with which historical materialism has broken. It is a process of empathy whose origin is the indolence of the heart, acedia, which despairs of grasping and holding the genuine historical image as it flares up briefly. Among medieval theologians it was regarded as the root cause of sadness. Flaubert, who was familiar with it, wrote: ‘Peu de gens devineront combien il a fallu être triste pour ressusciter Carthage.’ (Few will be able to guess how sad one had to be in order to resuscitate Carthage.) The nature of this sadness stands out more clearly if one asks with whom the adherents of historicism actually empathize. The answer is inevitable: with the victor. And all rulers are the heirs of those who conquered before them. Hence, empathy with the victor invariably benefits the rulers. Historical materialists know what that means. Whoever has emerged victorious participates to this day in the triumphal procession in which the present rulers step over those who are lying prostrate. According to traditional practice, the spoils are carried along in the procession. They are called cultural treasures, and a historical materialist views them with cautious detachment. For without exception the cultural treasures he surveys have an origin which he cannot contemplate without horror. They owe their existence not only to the efforts of the great minds and talents who have created them, but also to the anonymous toil of their contemporaries. There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. And just as such a document is not free of barbarism, barbarism taints also the manner in which it was transmitted from one owner to another. A historical materialist therefore dissociates himself from it as far as possible. He regards it as his task to brush history against the grain.

(emphasis added)

That day – cinders blowing about, even in the city air, dust and ash smelling of exhaust, a sweaty atmosphere – who would have guessed?

"It's the beginning of a new age..."
The Velvet Underground

Monday, October 04, 2004

Meanwhile, if this doesn't make you vomit, you'd best be off to see your GP...

looks like h.u.h. has already brought up the sorts of sentiments i was getting at with my recent post on 'k-punk as polemic'. He draws on Marx's 11th thesis on Feuerbach ("The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it."), and concludes with the following: "We don’t correct errors with argument, but with revolution."

But even so...

i'm still left aching, i'm left scurrying about in my silly little maze, i'm left banging into walls, i'm flipping ideas and thoughts over and over in my head... The original questions are left unanswered: what do we do? What do we change? What are we revolving, what do we do differently, what are we doing now anyway, what are our criteria for change, what is the best way of making change... ???????

And what does change look like, anyway? Oh, internet, if only you could tell me...!

Sunday, October 03, 2004

I know this isn't exactly 'breaking news', but the minor parties in the Aussie election seem to have blogs. There's one on the Greens page for people involved in their campaign... But more interesting, I find, is Andrew Bartlett's, the Democrat leader. Check out this, for example:

When I was in my late teens I used to wander around the streets a lot late at night, with a bunch of schoolmates, pondering in a suitably angst ridden way about the pointlessness (or otherwise) of life. I can’t believe what long distances we used to walk doing that – as I've got older I've got wiser and realised it takes so much less energy to just lounge on the couch pondering about the pointlessness (or otherwise) of life. Even the angst seems a bit too much energy to bother with these days.

How perfect is that, for the leader of a political party? Mmm, nihilistic politicians...

I must say, I do have a bit of a soft spot for the fucked-up old Democrats... There's something about the Greens that makes my skin crawl, there really is. It's all too nice. (Don't ask me to substantiate that comment.) And self-righteous - check out the picture of the cute little kid holding the 'No War in Iraq' poster on their front page - cringey cringe.

[My apologies if this seems a very distracted post - it is. I'm scrolling through other pages in a half-interested, hungover fashion, so all these sentences are a little 'still-born', if I may use such a dramatic phrase for such mundanity.]

In sum, I like the Democrats because they're losers. Goodnight.
2 things:

1. I wish there were no television in this house. It sucks my time, and it chatters in the background all the time. I know that all I need do in order to avoid this is to move out of my house, but then I'd be committing myself to other things that I'd rather not commit myself to so soon: namely, paying bills, rent, buying groceries... all those daily grind, bourgeois shackles... Whereas if I live in the lap of unearned luxury (i.e. the family home), I am able to ... live in a half dream-state. Commitments - work et cetera - punctuate the day, hold it in place, give it a shape. The tide draws me to this shapelessness...

2. Even if I cannot make the television go away, I would appreciate days of 30 hours, so that I can have my fill of idleness, and then move to doing work.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

What makes today's k-punk so different, so unique?

A few bloggers have pointed out that k-punk is in particularly fine form at the moment. Sure, there's been no easy agreement in response to recent posts on courtly love, sexualists, but there is without doubt a productive friction and tension, a challenge (from mark k-p in particular) that is more pronounced here than in the majority of sites in the blogosphere. And I believe that there is one particular characteristic that allows such a resilience of position. In a word, it is polemic.

k-punk has a position, and it is a polemical one. It is not description, it is argumentation. It has a foothold on a few writers who have been established as rocks - Spinoza, for example. It's invigorating, isn't it? In one regard, it's almost irrelevant as to whether or not mark k-p exhibits a 'correct' interpretation/application of the Ethics, as he is attempting to 'use' Spinoza as a tool - in a very literal sense, it seems - Spinoza becomes a toolkit for machines.

To read as description, or to read as polemic - that, it seems to me, is the question to ask when approaching cultural/theoretical texts. Did you know that Adorno enjoyed a good session of Hollywood gossip with his friend Fritz Lang? You'd never know it from all the dialectical shouting in "The Culture Industry..." but there it is: Adorno's casting fun as complicitous with authoritarianism is a position, a caricature, a necessary blindness taken on for the sake of action.

Which leads me to a question that I have been pondering on, of late - is action required for a text to become truly/successfully polemical? Or is this notion of 'action' an artificial one, given that 'thoughts/ideas are acts'...? (i.e. if we adopt this definition, how is the polemical text to be understood? As a more self-consciously and purposefully eliptical textual intervention? As blindness for a cause?)

I think, in any case, that it is time to look towards adopting a position.
PS. Up in the charts:
k-punk(especially on Courtly Love & masochism), Walter Benjamin, sandals, fried eggs mushrooms and tomatoes on toast, Lucian Freud.
(Though it seems a pity to construe writing as nothing more than the drawing-off of an accumulation of poison - the pretty excretions of silkworms...)
Hope you didn't mind the pics - I had a hare-brained idea about attempting to let this blog function as an accumulation of images, as part of a project to move away from language... Like I said, hare-brained, a reactionary response to the comprehension of the fact that there is no thought without language, that language is dissimulation, as it functions as a chain of metaphors... In other words, a freak-out induced by half-digested philosophy. I seem to be grudgingly accepting a kind of make-up embrace with language - after all, without it, 'I' am not really 'I', am I? ;-) And if only a subject through language, I suppose it isn't so wise to will 'my' own destruction by relinquishing that which defines me - driving over the cliff edge rather than 'approaching' it... No, it's "best" ('but how? but why?') not to get myself all into a contradictory lather by attempting to dissolve myself because of some romanticisation of the pre-linguistic, of inertia. At least, I think it is. And if 'I' think, then 'I' am, right? A new twist (personally speaking) on the old Cartesian existence-panic: surely it's contradictory to try and stop existing for my own good, is it not?

Oh, it's nauseatingly tautologous and contradictory at the same time, it really is. But that's what the stick figure drawings were part of. Indeed, they may well return, who knows. Or perhaps after writing 10,000 pages of text I'll begin to feel solid again.

It's all very confusing, I must say.