Tag: neoliberal nightmare

space noir in blue, red, and green

IMG_0047The second rip of Burroughs’s Nova Trilogy has left my brain blown apart into discrete pieces before being pasted back together like the collage of consciousness presented in the book — which is to say i dont know where to begin. (The beginning of the book, in a slightly different version than my edition’s text, can be heard aloud from the author here.)

There might be at least three global catastrophes involving the mass combustion of the Earth, a Lovecraftian or Event Horizon-esque descent into violence and depravity and madness among the human population, and the swift destruction of all language leaving silence in its wake. There’s also a brief scene of a boiler explosion on a ship. There’s an odd Biological Court bureaucracy in which lawyers fold-in their reports with pages from Kafka. We learn a bit about the elusive Nova Mob, opposed by a righteous Nova Police Agency. A noir story in outer space is spliced in with newspaper articles, Shakespeare, THE GREAT GATSBY, Conrad, and Joyce’s DUBLINERS (typically the final words). Although NOVA EXPRESS is often listed as the third book, Oliver Harris’s introduction informs us that it is in fact the middle volume, although it’s also the third book of a trilogy including NAKED LUNCH and THE SOFT MACHINE, which is explicitly acknowledged in the text. Nothing’s ever straight with W S. B.



“trauma-kindred towns”

Evan Dara’s THE LOST SCRAPBOOK pp. 402-[/Done]

It’s proven to be a wonderful and baffling and honestly inspiring novel to the very end. i think i’ll be returning to it soon and often, jumping around in the text, trying to figure out how it works. The conceit of bite-sized narrative blocks continues but the rapid-fire pace that climaxed the last section gears down to a steady pace. We witness a community’s powerlessness and marinate in corporate media while an ecological catastrophe unfolds. The Ozark corporation is sued by an oak tree, and it all culminates in a final six-page wall of text which might qualify as the most forbidding part of the whole read, but it’s still accessible, and loaded with significance.


cartoon physics, curious chemical cartel

Evan Dara’s THE LOST SCRAPBOOK pp. 282-402


This post ended up two times bigger than planned in terms of coverage — the text’s leisurely pace turned into a sprint towards a set piece with an angry town hall meeting. It begins with another epistolary chunk involving Chomsky in the flesh, and ends with a wash of multiple voices from a probably-doomed town. 85% thru the novel and new themes about environmental degradation are launched, while the notions of corporatism, collectivity, and patterns/individuals develop further.


a whole new [non-homogenous] world

image found here
image found here

[CN: colonialism, anti-black racism, white supremacy]

The more i think about the so-called New Atheists the less i think of them. It’s not just the mean-spirited inanity of attacking all systems of belief while knuckling down to the altar of Dr. Dawkins, or promoting the same racist imperialism as the religious right — a secular crusade — the hypocrisy is even broader. The secular modern world chucked off religion and took on another belief system that is no less arbitrary; yet part of its appeal is that we take it as nonreligious. Whether it’s theology or economics or scientific racism, the fundamental desire is the same: for a definition of human, an ordering system for reality’s chaos, and a knowledge to safeguard against the inferior stock.

Sylvia Wynter’s breathtaking essay “1492: A New World View” opens with a dualism. The Columbian Exchange set the germs for globalization and the interrelatedness of our current existence — that much is beyond doubt, but how should we feel about it? The white people of the rich global north call it a triumph, the indigenous of the world call it an atrocious nightmare that hasn’t ended. The former wants to carry on the torch and liberate the earth’s people from their respective stone ages and idolatries; the latter wants to bring and end to history. Wynter ends up suggesting that both positions, like the reality of globalization, are beyond dispute, that they are two sides of the Janus face that is the modern situation. And by her sharp prose and analytical horsepower this doesn’t come off as wishy-washy liberal humping; indeed liberal humanism is squarely in the cross-hairs.

In this piece Wynter offers a new kind of framework for confronting this violent history, one that tries to take the concerns of all of humanity into account. To do so she tells the story of two revolutions in the Western intellect, from Copernicus to Foucault, in 50 pages of dense critical language and a masterful handling of poetic images. It’s a hell of a journey.


report from a screening

such cheerful reading these last two months
such cheerful reading these last two months

pictured above are the research books for a video project in progress, concerning a dark topic that for some reason i’ve wanted to treat in the A/V format ever since high school. (i do not struggle with major depression bc i read on stuff like this, i read on stuff like this because i struggle with major depression.) back then i was nursing career fantasies of making or editing historical documentaries in the Public TV fashion; like a Ken Burns for commie anarchists. in the intervening time my thinking about history and the treatment of history in cinema changed a great deal of course.

im hoping production will be done within three months, which would be obscenely fast compared to the working pace of my first video piece signed as Ba Jin. SHIVA took about two years to arrive in its current shape, and it just had its “premier” screening, appropriately on Earth Day, as part of the launch party of a student-run art and lit magazine.


dancing in the belly of the beast — “Memoir of a Race Traitor” by Mab Segrest


[CN: White supremacy, homophobia, brutal race/gay bashing murders, illness, colonialism, genocide, worker exploitation]

I had begun to feel irregularly white. Klan folks had a word for it: race traitor. Driving in and out of counties with heavy Klan activity, I kept my eyes on the rear-view mirror, and any time a truck with a Confederate flag license plate passed me, the hair on the back of my neck would rise…I found myself hating white people, including myself.

…Maybe whiteness was more about consciousness than color? That scared me too, the possibility of being caught between the worlds of race, white people kicking me out, people of color not letting me in.

I was blown away by Mab Segrest’s memoir of activism with radical lesbians and with whites and people of color in the south against the Klan. It moves across three decades, from the 60s to the early 90s, but not in a linear or procedural fashion.


the toxic legacy of european enlightenment c/o vandana shiva

[CN: (neo)colonialism, gender violence]

Bacon (1561-1626) was the father of modern science, the originator of the concept of the modern research institute and industrial science, and the inspiration behind the Royal Society. His contribution to modern science and its organization is critical. From the point of view of nature, women and marginal groups, however, Bacon’s programme was not humanly inclusive. It was a special programme benefiting the middle class, European, male entrepreneur through the conjunction of human knowledge and power in science.

Vandana Shiva, Staying Alive

Continue reading “the toxic legacy of european enlightenment c/o vandana shiva”