Archive for Adorno

2 June 2013: iPod Fails, Kant Crunch Continues

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 2, 2013 by spinoza1111

Transcendental Deduction with Funny Clown

We always perceive here over >1 instants of time where I have represented one such instant as a box. The use of boxes suggests that Kant may have anticipated the Turing machine (or Turing may have been thinking of Kant): but we can probably find justification for believing that Kant in turn thought that this apperception was continuous.

But note that Kant may have not had a clear distinction between a “continuous” apperception of (say) visual scenes that like a modern movie do not flicker, and scenes that do: likewise, Kant predates Cantor’s analysis of the two types of infinity, aleph 0 (natural numbers) or aleph 1 (real numbers).

The compact disk brouhaha of the 1990s, where this recorded media sounded when introduced cold and sterile, may have been caused by its lack of continuously varying tones; instead, we were told that its digital precision was well within the limits of our hearing, which was arrogant in that it targeted precisely those people, with higher, more accurate hearing, who were being thrown out of the data as outliers.

First thing workout at 6:00: increased time from 20 to 30 minutes: supine free dance, 100 supine pull-ups, increased step aerobics from 63 to 75.

In the step aerobics I now do 50 steps pushing off on the good leg and 25 on the weakened leg it gradually gets stronger.

The Way of All iPods?

My iPod has gone the way of all iPods: again, it has developed that problem, where one channel just quits unless one twists and gyres the cable interface to one’s headphones; but the twisting and gyreing never fixes this progressive problem permanently. I am beginning to suspect more and more that this was a deliberate design flaw hidden at the interface between the proprietary unit and the non-prop headphone as supplied either by Apple or a third party.

Note that when I raise this problem online I am threatened with job loss.

This issue represented, I believe, the opportunity for Apple engineers to, without discussion, under-design the interface so that it would fail…and the customer (or the whiney teen-ager who has been given an iPod which is now failing a year later) would in frustration (with being off-warranty, with all sorts of nonsense about whether this problem could be repaired, with yet Another waste of her time) simply upgrades…whether because she’s become “addicted” to the slight Anodyne of music to protect her sanity at work, or to silence her whiney son before she just kills him.

Yeah, right, out we go to the Apple store, and rather than make an appointment with a “genius” who I assure you will NOT be a genius, we just “upgrade”…whether to an identical Classic as I have, or to the iPhone.

Well, thank God that that option is closed to me now by a low but fixed income. I have a few iPod Nanos in my flat, just could not find them last time I was there. They have my essential music including Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations. If they are lost I can spend 300-400 HKD on one Nano. Besides, the Nanos are better for people who work out while listening to music: I went through two Classics and a Touch over the past eight years, in addition to the Classics that failed at the microphone interface, because I handled them too roughly while working out.

[I did ask, when buying my first iPod in 2006, whether one could run while carrying an iPod. I was assured that one could, but my first iPod simply failed completely one hot day after a run.]

It is troubling that Apple does not appear to pay US taxes while skimming engineers from UC Berkeley, from Stanford, and from other institutions supported in some measure by US taxes paid by us little-people-who-no-longer-count. It means that when there’s a tech problem, Apple can throw cash at it as did most Silicon Valley employers up to the dot-com crash of 1999.

My employer simply paid me to live at work until I was able to fix compilers and data bases, by paying me “overtime” in addition to my salary, where this had not been promised when we didn’t know the condition of the software, which condition (no source code) meant I had to work harder (reverse engineer to source while keeping track of changes in a three-level microcode software/hardware architecture…it was inspired by the Digital Equipment Corporation’s VAX…a popular platform in the late 1970s…totally ancient history now).

I used the cash to eat out at restaurants and, after accomplishing goals treat myself to Key West, etc. Never saved a dime because the long drive on 101 back up to my place in SFO was exhausting as were the long hours trying, not to “hack”, but to reconstruct a software world created by Bell Northern’s geniuses in the 1970s in an accountable and documented form, at a company where an increasing number of employees, outside a core group of excellent people, just didn’t give a damn.

This is what IBM did in the fat years until that day I remember very well in 1992 (I was actually working for IBM at the time) when IBM’s CEO John Ayers announced that the party was over, and that the old “IBM Way” (loyalty to employees, meetings on top of meetings, Power Point) was defunct: IBM had no plans to stop paying its taxes to the USA as Apple apparently did. Instead, employees would have to work harder and accept conditional and not lifetime employment.

Which means that Apple’s “creativity” and “quality” is probably an illusion: rich companies, like rich people, always look great. I’ve had a number of quality issues with my MacBooks – excess weight on the Powerbook which caused back pain, which excess weight was caused by Jobs’ insistence on using aluminum: on my Air, a current crash into Darkness with a Black Screen of Death that is even less informative than the old “blue screen of death” on Windows (at least the blue screen of death gave you a memory dump to look at whereas the black screen of death gives you NOTHING to look at).

These strange little problems and the lack of accountability at Apple started early: I bought a 1984 Mac, it worked great but I could not program it for six months when Apple Basic finally came out, and, I only had two applications, MacWrite and MacPaint.

They were in themselves insanely great. But, one morning in Mountain View, in the heart of the Valley, protected most days by a mountain range from the heat of California’s Central Valley, my Mac simply would not boot when the temp was 105 F…until I, remembering stories about Jobs’ refusal to countenance a fan, put my own fan next to the unit (in the 1980s, before global warming, affordable apartments in the SF Bay Area didn’t have air conditioning: what with balmy temperatures, a desert-dry coolness in evening, I blessedly didn’t need air conditioning.)

With that fan, I got a Happy Mac. But most of the country is hotter than the Bay Area in summer. A fan was needed.

Jobs merely wanted, like an abusive wikipedia “editor” of today, to impose his personality on an industrial product. It was characteristic of Jobs’ lower middle class upbringing that he liked putting other people down, especially people better-spoken than he, people with more maturity and emotional control.

The dream of the early 1980s computer hackers was that we’d all give each other “mutual recognition and respect”. We’d look over each other’s shoulders and say wow, or spot problems by asking questions. Jobs changed this to the supervisor hissing at the employee “late” in delivering to unrealistic deadlines, or, in a recent YouTube, striking the employee [sic: but the YouTue made me too sick at heart to remember its location.]

The reality was that the best people in the business, that is most female engineers, Wozniak, Brian Kernighan, CJ Date, Edsger Dijkstra and myself are unknown because unlike Jobs we didn’t insist on an excess of recognition. We all had the profound satisfaction of being grown men and women engaged in real work (I’ll never forget my feelings when Fortran worked after I fixed it in machine language) whereas Jobs spent entirely too much time whining and weeping, especially in his rather strange relationship with Sculley.

I do credit Jobs for certain things. In a cancer ward where many patients suffer greatly from a variety of lung cancer coughs, some of them terminating in a bubbling sound as the patient struggles not to drown in his own phlegm, others in weeping, the iPod can be used to get to sleep IF you say a prayer for the poor bastards. And the Apple Mac was insanely great…it was not sustained, however.

But making a sustainable product and paying taxes is a team effort for the sort of people who, like my Dad, don’t insist on excessive Recognition.

Kant Kritik ReRead Continues

I continue crunching through my close re-read, reading the Analytic of Concepts the fifth of seven times this morning.

Now, one critique of the Kritik in the callow years of AJ Ayer’s “Logical Positivism” (the fifties and sixties) was that Kant was “just wrong” to use a word such as “concept” to mean something non-contingent: that the definition of “concept” should be left to psychology as an empirical matter.

You must understand the four-way combination of analytic, synthetic, a priori and a posteriori to get anywhere with Kant and the primitive Logical Positivists did…but, they considered “synthetic a priori” to be empty and had too much respect for synthetic a posteriori.

Kant basically set “concept” (actually, Begriff) to mean what he meant, a label of a part in a structure. Kant anticipated Structuralism in which names matter less than structures considered as a set of originally nameless things and operations one can do to those things, such as recognize them as necessary or contingent. British ordinary language philosophers, Logical Postivists and others all reacted violently with a surpassing hatred to the Nominalism of French structuralism, which shows that they didn’t understand its commonality with ordinary language philosophy and Logical Postivism. In none of these three systems is a name more than a nomimalist name: you can call what I mean a Concept, a Begriff or anything you like as long as you understand that Kant’s concepts are “pure” and therefore non-Empirical: in Kant’s language, Reinen means non-empirical.

You do have to understand the claptrap in detail. Kant is so hard to read that now, it’s easy and relaxing when I read Adorno’s lectures on the Critique (“Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason”, Polity) because Adorno, unlike Kant, doesn’t assume you’ve taken a logic class taught in the 18th century. Back then, logicians mixed psychology, modal logic, and, after Leibniz, primitive symbolism such that each logic class was different. Adorno speaks a modern language and, having long mastered the Critique, is full of excellent tips: here’s one:

“I would like to encourage you through this example to approach the Kant text in what appears to me the only appropriate way, namely to read it with X-Ray eyes. This means reading it in such a way as to make its hidden content and its hidden puzzles as transparent as the Cabbalists of old tried to make the Torah.”

This is a “deconstructive” read in modern terms. One such “puzzle” would be the way in which “drawing a line”, although essential to cognizing a line (and I hope “cognizing” is the right word) would conceal things about the ideal line (the pencil marks or computer pixels having non-zero and therefore non-Euclidean).

Elsewhere Adorno counsels patience with one’s inability to comprehend the text, and discourages the student in his class from taking notes. Paradoxically, the X Ray eyes must be associated with a relaxed brain that isn’t constantly alert to make sure said brain gets it.


Kant is hard, and I can read him, and describe the voyage alongside my cancer journey, because I no longer work, and instead rusticate in a hospice. Word to your Mama is that my need for painkillers and my lump are both in decline perceptible on a daily basis, probably owing to my documented exercise program.

The tumor is yet smaller although it won’t soften. Perhaps the sheets of irregular cells formed last year when the cancer cells hit the lymph node are dead cells, hardened by age? Not being in any way an oncologist, I do not know. Softening would be nice but I’ll take shrinkage.

The side-effect of sleepiness continues. My infrequent but intense temper tantrums, most recently this morning when I could not find my mobile phone, cause exhaustion and need to stop through better anger management since the cancer, shrunken as it may be, still is an energy drain, and I need not to add to it.

I am trying to get the right amount of food. My lunch and dinner were doubled but I can hardly finish two bowls of rice and fish-or-chicken. I will suggest two congees and two eggs with a normal lunch and dinner since breakfast is the best time to chow down.


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Kant Notes 003

Change Record

2 June 2013 Added more analysis of Kantian perception, is it discrete or continous?
5 June 2013 Minor correction

Three Considerations on the Asteroid Flyby and Meteor Strike

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 17, 2013 by spinoza1111

Drawing 10
Edward G. Nilges, “Study for an Apocalyptic Dancer”, pencil, pen, 2010:moral rights asserted

The asteroid event known as 2013 DA14 and the meteor shower experienced in central Russia are unrelated events but we tend all the same to link these dramatic, once in a lifetime events:

* The Greeks generated the meaning-creating idea of the “constellation”. Merely because in the paper of the sky, a group of stars could seem to be an artist’s preparation for a drawing of a god the god’s image was said to exist. Artists, in Greece and in the Renaissance, would poke holes on sheets of paper to plan their drawing.

* But as needed the old gods would to be replaced later on by new gods…new holes, perhaps circled in a different color

* Years later Adorno used this term to connect the otherwise disconnected in riposte to the claim that (for example) Baroque esthetics had nothing to do with today’s issues such as a (now forgotten) Vietnam-Krieg.

* Ordinary people, and in relation to the expertise in and knowledge of astronomy, scholars outside astronomy are men on the street, can be forgiven for being struck by coincidences and for linking the events after all.

* In Adorno’s Dream Notes he recounts being asked to speak about a portent. Three stars (let’s say of measurably the same brightness) appear. Since for all intents and purposes all stars are white, the only way ordinary stars can differentiate themselves to the viewer is by measurable brightness

If a star, brighter than all other stars seen at a particular moment in time, were to appear only scholars and Magi (whether modern or the “Three Wise Men”) would take an interest. UNLESS the times were also troubled times such as the early mediaeval epoch so that the bright star could be read as an explanation for our tsuris. Augustus Caesar’s and Hadrian’s periods were not considered times of trouble.

But if two stars formed a “shape”, that is a line, parallel to or perpendicular to, the horizon, the calm scientific and hysterical demotic freak out would commence. This line would have to be at zero or 90 degrees relative to the horizon since in all other cases any two stars form a “line”.

And then stepwise this freakout would ascend if the pattern complexity and star count increased.

The thought-experiment represented in Adorno’s Dream proves the existence of yet differences between junk and real science. “Creationism” sees a rainbow in an oil slick. Responsible earth science sees the oil slick. Everybody else fails to note or is silent about the phenomenon. Last week’s phenomenon, like my pain as I write, was mildly disturbing. Thinking helps.

Faith! is a fine invention!
When Gentlemen can see…
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.

I replace the staid punctuation that is found in Gutenberg’s Todd/Higginson edition with the loud opening of the above, and its gradual calm around the ellipsis simply because this would be my canonical oral interpretation of the poem.

Microscopes are prudent. I am experiencing a great deal of leg and hip pain and it is fortunate that I get scans this week and it’s cancer followup day. All one does is search for a comfortable position (a constellation).

One takes an interest and is not lulled by the singing of anthems or hymns construed as tickets to heaven. We have no algorithms for resolving whether we shall go to heaven. But if we had a good time without unduly harming harming others that’s a start.

Workout 1 Feb 2013: This and better may do

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 1, 2013 by spinoza1111

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Blew it today by working out too soon after a heavy lunch, barely able to complete 20 minutes.

“This and better may do, this and waur will niver do” – George MacDonald Fraser’s strict granny

Made it to the Circle K in the morning. Using less breakout painkiller (in which the patient can at any time ask for and receive 10 mg morphine sulfate in joy juice form).

My ability to walk and dance seems to be a pearl now of great price but perhaps in part due to a passage in Adorno (Minima Moralia) I can come, not so much to “resignation” but to North American (Canadian and American) Native American gratitude. And oddly in Adorno this is coupled with and reinforced by the imperfections of the glorious gift. Sure, I was blessed by being able to take the children to La Push but the blessing was made more whole, more real, by Peter’s (junglee Peter’s) calm announcement in the car, after Peter learned that there was no McDonald’s in La Push: “La Push sucks”.

Here is the Adorno passage. It’s a forced march but the truth is buried there.

At the end (Finale). – The only philosophy which would still be accountable in the face of despair, would be the attempt to consider all things, as they would be portrayed from the standpoint of redemption. Cognition has no other light than that which shines from redemption out upon the world; all else exhausts itself in post-construction and remains a piece of technics. Perspectives must be produced which set the world beside itself, alienated from itself, revealing its cracks and fissures, as needy and distorted as it will one day lay there in the messianic light. To win such perspectives without caprice or violence, wholly by the feel for objects, this alone is what thinking is all about. It is the simplest of all things, because the condition irrefutably call for such cognitions, indeed because completed negativity, once it comes fully into view, shoots [zusammenschiesst] into the mirror-writing of its opposite. But it is also that which is totally impossible, because it presupposes a standpoint at a remove, were it even the tiniest bit, from the bane [Bannkreis] of the existent; meanwhile every possible cognition must not only be wrested from that which is, in order to be binding, but for that very reason is stricken with the same distortedness and neediness which it intends to escape. The more passionately thought seals itself off from its conditional being for the sake of what is unconditional, the more unconsciously, and thereby catastrophically, it falls into the world. It must comprehend even its own impossibility for the sake of possibility. In relation to the demand thereby imposed on it, the question concerning the reality or non-reality of redemption is however almost inconsequential.

Now, this passage seems like gibberish to many ordinary people and many academics: indeed it may at least elicit more violent reactions from those academics who think that the truth can be expressed in “simple” aphorisms where this view,carried to its natural extreme, favors the sound byte and the tautologies of mathematics over anything irreducible such as the above.

Syntactically the Adorno passage isn’t gibberish. I could formulate a sentence diagram or Chomsky parse tree for every sentence and the fact that Adorno probably wrote or at least reviewed is a rebuke to native English speakers.

For example, “The more passionately thought seals itself off from its conditional being for the sake of what is unconditional, the more unconsciously, and thereby catastrophically, it falls into the world” “means” (“what does a poem mean?”) that thought’s desire for the “unconditional” (the status of necessary truth whether “synthetic” (telling us necessary things about the world) or analytic (true by virtue of its logical form)) atrophies “thought’s” ability to change.

But my butt hurts. The rephrase is worse than the original. I conclude that there’s a special type of reading comprehension skill for texts like this, one my late Father said he had to cultivate when in retirement he returned to university to study philosophy including Hegel. Ultimately on a first or even second reading you scan more or less mindlessly trying very hard to stay awake (Mom said that Schopenhauer was better than a sleeping pill) and sooner or later things will clear up.

The theme of Minima Moralia is how society works to make us cling to oversimplified, “reductionist” accounts by re-presenting truth as unlike falsity in that truth can and must be clear; but logically speaking, there is no reason why this must be so.

Old age considered inelegant and not for wimps

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 13, 2012 by spinoza1111

My third health problem is on the mother of all back burners: an inguinal hernia. According to what I know, it is not caused by nor causes the disk compression whose symptom is sciatica. Both the hernia and herniated disk probably caused by carrying excess loads (Mac Powerbook, library books, children’s school work) for seven years in China, where we have public transportation but must walk (far more than we Americans walk in the USA) to get to public transports.

Surgery for this is on October 19th.

But so far we don’t know whether the malignancy (unconfirmed by anything but the 25 May result) causes the hernia and disc problem and the latter is explained by the weights. The sudden emergence of all three conditions, which make me sound like my father who liked to piss and moan (but who, underneath, was a frigging hero) have a clear psychological origin: the death of my father.

Seriously, perhaps his graceful ghost hopped a plane to Hong Kong to check it out. In Kantian agnosticism I am willing to dance and celebrate his life to get him out of me and to whatever is Heaven (Tian).

Adorno’s story of the Sirens in Homer: logically, any one of the myths may have actually worked and logically, mythical thinking wasn’t “pre-scientific” it was proto-scientific. Dancing may not cure disease but holistically it sure builds the immune system, and indigenous peoples were just as able to note a statistical association between dancing and health, probably more so than many moderns.

Be that as it may, my health situation not only causes discomfort, it lacks scientific elegance. And I need to monitor for other symptoms as they arise. “Old age is not for sissies”, and it’s amazing that my dotage came upon me so suddenly this year.

Did Someone Say, Authenticity?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 13, 2012 by spinoza1111

The basic insight in Adorno’s “The Jargon of Authenticity” is that philosophy cannot return in time to some zero state of “authenticity”, but that this does not mean we live in the most Authentic of all possible worlds. Authenticity, to Adorno, only occurs in freedom, and if we are to credit his lectures on freiheit given in the 1960s, we don’t know what freedom would feel like owing to scarcity+class structure.

Now, on this, I’d say that running without my iPod (for many more times over thirty years than with the thing) is just as spiritually rewarding as running with it. I won’t even say that it’s better without. It is the same, because I do not know Authenticity in the absence of Redemption.

The 1920s and the 1950s were critically pernicious decades, the second of which I experienced first-hand, in which we learned commodity addiction. In the 1960s, that became the false “alternative” culture of reaching for illegal drugs instead of facing life on life’s own terms. The hippies were merely reaching outside commodity addiction for a more exciting and louche commodity.

But as a result, people today, including me of course, can never have a relatively authentic (using it here and not above as a relative and not an absolute term) experience without wondering where it comes from. Oh, no pain. Thank you Valium my god.

“Take a Valium like a normal person!” – Desperately Seeking Susan 1983

If some madcap in some office comes up with a poem that rhymes and makes it into a screen saver, people do not crown him with laurels or even boot him out of town, as Plato recommended. They say what is HE on?

My mistaking 50mg Ibuprofen for 400 taught me that endorphins release during pain along with texts-in-the-head, call them prayers if you like. Then when there is a natural release such as a seat on the MTR or a friend, the endorphins are still there and that feels in my experience great.

I mean…really great. It is spooky you ask me.

But if I get hooked on pain medications then my false God will be, in my case, at the other end of a trip on the ferry. There are no pharmacies on Lamma Island.

Adorno did not suffer from cancer. Instead, he is a warning to older men; you have a very high chance of a heart attack if you work out too intensively. He went hiking at the mountain spa of Sils Maria, developed chest pains on the descent, checked into the hospital and died of heart complications.

He had been under considerable stress owing to harassment by Stalinist jerks at his university but Muller-Doohm his biographer doesn’t document his experiencing heart problems prior to 1970.

But he might agree with me that commodities colonize every minute of our lives. It is paradoxical that relative to my New Age and Outward Bound friends, he’d find that they speak “the jargon of authenticity”, but agree with their program of getting away from commodity addiction.

Adorno and his life long wife Gretel nee Karplus did watch TV, but they preferred animal programs; in childhood, Adorno had loved stories of animals who escaped predators. But it’s not recorded, even in Muller Doohm’s comprehensive biography, that he “liked” jazz despite the fact that a recent collection of his writings (Current of Music, Polity) shows he knew it so much that he must have liked some pop music after all.

Underneath all the New Age talk, which derives I believe from Heidegger, is Marxism of a peculiarly dilute, almost homeopathic, sort, described best by Leszek Kolakowski in Main Currents of Marxism (a real whopper, three volumes which I am almost finished with). The media don’t tell you what I learn orally in Outward Bound and friends on Lamma Island: if it is in a package with a name, it’s probably not good for you.

Whereas when I buy a bunch of fresh vegetables home from our greengrocer, they are so damn beautiful on my kitchen counter.

“Call any vegetable, and the chances are good, that a vegetable will respond to you.” – Frank Zappa.

They are as relatively Authentic as I shall get. And, perhaps a key to understanding Adorno is that sometimes he uses words (“freedom” and “authenticity”) as if they were words like “pregnant”, which have no comparative use.

This is because he naturally thought “dialectically” as a Continental philosopher: to get some freedom in a compromise natural to “democracy” (where that term itself is used rarely in an absolute sense) produces antibodies, anti-freedom. You get public education: but as capitalist competition intensifies, the beautiful schools and their valuable land are taken by the rich (quite simply).

So, Adorno as a Marxist was quite absolute and extreme, but I think he’d agree with Leszek Kolakowski that ANY “revolutionary terror” contradicts and destroys the revolutionary ideal. Che Guevera, who said that the true revolutionary is motivated by the most profound feelings of love, was destroyed by this truth. Whereas Adorno refused to act upon his absolute Marxism. “Start the revolution without me”.

Divorce in 1981, and this cancer diagnosis, changed me. Perhaps there will be no revolution without simultaneous financial and environmental collapse which will simply force us to get to know our neighbors, barter and dance.

My head hurts but not my butt.

Bone Scan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 31, 2012 by spinoza1111

You may have a plan
But God or Nature may want a bone scan
What hast thou done to the bone?
You were never alone, and it curved with such gracile force. (Edward G. Nilges)

I said to my soul, be still… (TS Eliot Four Quartets)

You have to be still for twenty minutes in a bone scan. It isn’t painful in itself, just spooky, and my sciatica and back pain acted up with ferocity in the position I was in. I decided it was bearable.

It was the eye of God searching for things I’d evaded for years.

Here in Hong Kong, you feel like James Bond, in the hands of the evil Doctor whoever and his Bond girl nurses, the difference being, of course, that the doctors here aren’t evil, they are kind in the abstract-benevolent way of the sagacious Chinese and extremely well-qualified. There’s no joking around or sports talk, which I do not miss, nor are there intelligent doctors and nurses who notice me reading some wacked out book (currently I’m struggling through a biography of Poussin in French) and share my interests, which I do miss, a bit. But

I have set my life upon a cast, and I will stand the hazard of the die (Shakespeare: Richard III, unfortunately)

I am up for permanent residency, and this place is now home. I’ve paid my taxes which help to fund this system, of queueing, and open wards full of aging Chinese guys, some at death’s door. As opposed to the massive joke of the USA and its bills for everything which the hospital knows you cannot pay.

I need green tea: a walk during the day, before the scan, with the radioactive element in my system, produced pain which was immediately stopped by a green tea at DeliFrance in the hospital entrance. I need to stop all caffeine and all “fantasy foods”. By that, a nutrition writer in the eighties meant your true junk foods but I am coming to believe that any food with a branded name that is packaged in probably a cancer risk, and one that can cause my cancer to grow faster.

I naturally buy, for example, spices like Guilin sauce in jars, and use them liberally to kill anything moving in what I cook. But a friend said, buy chili peppers fresh at the greengrocer! I swear, those options have been programmed out of my subconscious by adverts.

We’re not stupid (I Not Stupid) when this happens. TS Eliot was an intelligent yet shy young man at Harvard. Subliminally, Edward Bernays’ propaganda suggested an anodyne to the hyper-sensitive young Prufrock and by the time of his maturity (the Four Quartets) his brain no longer functioned without nicotine. Highly intelligent people, especially artists, are MORE affected by the subconscious appeal of marketing.

It’s now towards the end of a rather difficult day, and there may be far more difficult days, that are themselves more difficult, ahead. But there’s a DeliFrance on the ground floor and once again green tea is working. That’s amazing. What’s merely amusing is Edith Piaf on the soundtrack as I sit alone, singing Non, je ne regrette rien.

I mean, it’s a joke, although my father would fail to see the humor: Cancer Boy sits alone as Piaf sings. It’s a joke because a consequence of commodification is the lack of lived experience until such times as we get a doctor’s verdict or are in a traffic accident.

Everything else, work, vacations, marriages, has become the name of the thing.

On the white collar job, Job One has been since the 1980s looking like a “productive” employee.

The vacation must be “perfect” meaning as seen on TV, as in the case where the couple who’d been landed on our Key in the Florida Keys where our Outward Bound patrol had camped was angry because they’d been promised a deserted Key.

And the marriage must conform to rules. Spontaneity is renarrated as verbal abuse.

Adorno saw this. Less fortunate war refugees were just amazed at the fact that there was food on the shelves in America, but Adorno noticed it was packaged. The purpose of pompous talk about Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” is to get us to be satisfied at the lower tiers. The fact is we need it all, from green tea and peppers to live theater every week.

A day later I must apologize for the abrupt, atonal, Asperger transition here, I was under a lot of stress.

As it is, a community with a working small movie theater would be an improvement, but, of course, that was destroyed by DVDs. But it would take a fairly dreamy kid to imagine a community, a sort of Brigadoon out of time, where every week players put on a live show, and the food was all fresh.

I used to dream that the original Globe could be brought back when I was a kid. And Sam Wanamaker apparently had the same dream, but grew up with the money to do just that at the New Globe in London.

But that’s still ersatz, my fat pal Adorno would point out, for in fact, the destruction was commencing in Shakespeare’s time. First of all, the old Mystery cycle had been destroyed by Henry VIII. In the 1590s, the Puritans were conducting a Kulturkampf against theater which is well known; less well known facts are found in The Oxford History of Early Modern Theater: the plays that were allowed in the first decade of the 17th century could contain no religious references whatsoever, in an irony of Fundamentalism which destroys spontaneous religious expression…from the ban on American women’s Bible reading circles in the 1690s in Massachusetts (thought to be a source of witchcraft) to the fact that today, Cairo taxi drivers who are Islamic fundamentalists listen to the Koran muttered rather than chanted, the former thought more Islamic.

No, the reality would be local communities producing food and theater. My only difference from the large number of bearded and solemn old men who advocate this is that they disregard the paradox of anarchism, that it must needs ignore what’s happening in the next valley such as famine.

Which implies Federalism, a concept that becomes increasingly hard for people to grasp, for the same reason that, as I discovered as a software engineer, most programmers don’t grasp Dijkstra’s separation of concerns. Federalism, and the US Constitution itself, is basically “verbose”.

A day later, I find I should add that the Oxford History of Early Modern British Theater says that even under Cromwell, traveling players would sneak about Britain, recreating fragments of agons, Shakespeare from memory, one step ahead of the authorities. For we must shout theater in a crowded fire, like Jerry Rubin.

No Drama (an aphorism in honor of Adorno)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 9, 2012 by spinoza1111

No Drama – I’m listening to Brendel’s complete cycle of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, and in some pieces one stops cleaning one’s flat and makes a homo gesture and a homo facial expression as if Beethoven cuts to the quick of Being right there, right here and now…one that would be mocked in one’s family of origins for a range of reasons, starting with the disappointment of my parents when I turned out to have no willingness to practice dull scales (my talent not an issue and for that reason unknown even to me today), and continuing with the fact that in many families, there is a certain economy of pain in that the person who sucks it up, especially Mom, loses the ability to see pain or joy.

As in a dream, Mom with her Betty Draper cigarettes inhales pain to make it go away. Literally this removes, if not all, then some of the air in the room, and replaces it with carbon monoxide: when serving Mass I thought it normal to be nauseous but I now realize I was a second hand smoke victim. Which isn’t Mom’s fault, any more than my pipe was my fault when as it happened it, along with cat shit and cat dander, screwed up my eldest son’s system in the way it did. We simply had no idea.

Now, what is important here is that entertainment replaces culture. Mass pseudo culture does our feeling for us when we’re exhausted from modern jobs therefore the genuine endogenous feeling that might come to us watching Shakespeare or listening to Beethoven is considered pretense or inauthentic in a universal, unreflective, uniquely American Heideggerianism.

But: catching oneself unawares, misting up or dancing to Shakespeare or Beethoven is about as Authentic as we can be…whereas yukking it up late at night after working 16 hours at The Hangover while mindlessly snarfing Cheez Doodles and drinking cheap wine is to be a creature of mass media, just where they want you to be.
I mean, The Hangover IS a funny movie and an Improving Moral Lesson which gambled and won, since its central event, the wild night in Vegas, isn’t actually filmed, and, the movie is all about the consequences, and the Hero’s (more precisely, Idiot’s) Journey in cleaning up a mess. That, by Hollywood standards, is almost an art film from France, fer Chrissake.

But the sequel, much more lavishly funded, wasn’t funny and was offensive, for Bangkok in The Hangover II is just a place where white guys can still piss on Asians, trash their neighborhood and be funny and cool. And in both films the 1% continued to celebrate just what it is they can get away with being rich and good looking.

“Entertainment” has manufactured the very ideas of “pretense” or “unnecessary verbosity” and “inauthenticity”, but dialectically we must note that categories are precisely inverted. “Pretentious, verbose” writing , especially mine, doesn’t pretend to the ability to construct a grammatical sentence above a low upper bound of complexity, it is the thing itself, behind which there is no reality, no Oz behind the curtain for a plucky little girl from Kansas to unmask. Nor is it Inauthentic to want to dance to Bach’s Kunst der Fuge, or Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou.

This theme can be pursued through popular culture extensively. In the series of ads “PC v Mac” the Mac is personified as a pleasantly laid-back and “hip” young man in casual clothes whereas the PC is personified by a man in a jacket and tie who seems rather neurotic and is ever keeling over from computer viruses or having to read manuals before getting out of the box. PC is also unable to hold hands with (link to) the cute Japanese girl who personifies a new digital camera.

Some of this constitutes dishonesty on Apple’s part, some of it is true. In fact, and admittedly in response to the true ease of install of the first Mac in 1984 (when installing it was for me almost a religious experience), PCs today install just as easily and nobody ever reads a manual. PCs and not Apple INVENTED plug and play. The only reason why it is indeed the case that Macs don’t get viruses is that PCs are more common.

But where it gets interesting is the very real, normalized-hip, male conventionality of the Mac persona, for the PC guy’s movie is personified by a man in a dress whereas the Mac’s movie is HOT. It’s almost as if the PC guy is the one willing to take risks. It presumes we want to see hot girls. Well, I certainly do, but does everybody?

Mass media has inserted us into a Poseidon adventure in which everything’s upside down by insisting that it do our feeling for us. But like the heroes of that movie we struggle to emerge out into the real world, where Beethoven and Shakespeare could cause a riot in a nunnery.

“No drama” is a male trope which contains the imprint of World War II, as Richard Yates (Revolutionary Road) knew. The right to feel is taken and given back only to military volunteers, while a feminine right-to-feel is celebrated…Chris Rock emphasizes this in his comedy routine on marriage which has an element of truth: perhaps the modern husband’s job IS complicated by an unspoken demand: if women are systematically screwed then YOUR job is to comfort her and zip it about your own pain.

To have as I have the right to be solitary, urbane, cultured and to complain as I complain about minor aches is an aristocratic privilege and perhaps one of these days I will be found out. I certainly insisted on pissing and moaning when I had minor ailments when I was still married. But better than Chris Rock’s remedies for either modern marriage or, in “Ten Ways Not To Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police” (starting with shut the fuck up) would be a society of mutual recognition and respect, with mutual comfort in marriage and no police brutality.

So…listen to a complete Beethoven symphony or an uncut and high quality performance of King Lear and shut the fuck up. It’s the only true “escape” which can contain the memory of the mess we’re in.