A Yellow Submarine

At the turn of the 11th century, an Irish cleric by the name of Paulus Cartenius (Pól Mac Cárthaigh) who had taken up residence in Würtzburg, passed the time by composing idle verses which at the time seemed nonsensical.

Flava Submarina Navis
Paulus Cartenius

In vico olim quo sum natus
Vir qui enavit pelagus
Est nobis vitam suam fatus
In submarinis navibus

Ad solem ita navigantes
Viride mare vidimus
Sub undis inde iucundantes
In flava navi canimus:

In flava submarina navi

Vivamus in perpetuum, 
In flava submarina navi
Nunc et usque in saeculum.

Amici nostri aut hic manent
Aut in vicinis navibus
Musici dum gaudemus canent
Lyris benesonantibus

In flava submarina navi
Vivamus in perpetuum, 
In flava submarina navi
Nunc et usque in saeculum.

Vivamus in luxuria.
Singulis fas est copia,
Mari virente caelo suavi,
In flava submarina navi.

In flava submarina navi
Vivamus in perpetuum, 
In flava submarina navi
Nunc et usque in saeculum.

Long ago in the village where I was born / a man who sailed o'er the deep / spake unto us of his life
/ among the ships under the sea. / So sailing unto the sun / we saw a green sea, / and now delighting beneath the waves / in a yellow ship we sing: / In a yellow submarine / let us live forever, / in a yellow submarine / now and forever unto the ages. / Our friends either remain here / or in neighboring ships. / While we rejoice, the musicians will sing / to well-sounding lyres. / In a yellow submarine / let us live forever.... / Let us live in luxury. / Abundance is permitted to each of us, / with the sea greening to a sweet sky, / in a yellow submarine. / In a yellow submarine / let us live forever.

Vade retro, stulte

Sī venerārer stultitiam tū mī deus essēs
Sed retrō mē sīs! Nōn tibi cultor erō. 

(If I worshipped stupidity, you would be a god to me. But get thee behind me! I won't be your cultist.)

Slaves of Christ

Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Gospels has no problem whatsoever with slavery. It is impressive how much effort has sometimes gone into not thinking about this fact, and how much thinking has at other times been expended to rationalize it. The most widely used modern translations of the Gospels in Western European languages make this a bit easier by rendering the Greek word for slave as if it meant servant, or at least by using a more distant term like bondman/bondwoman in a way that doesn't confront the modern reader or listener with too much blatant honesty about the fact that not only do the Gospels portray a society where some people own other people's bodies, but gentle Jesus seems to be far less bothered by that than by the prospect of a man lusting after a woman he isn't married to. The motivated reasoning behind the translation choice is obvious when one considers the fact that, in translating the Qur'an, Christian English-speakers have no problem accurately rendering عبد as slave.

Jerome was under no such modern illusion when he accurately rendered the word δοῦλος as servus, anymore than were the Byzantine functionaries who rendered the same word as рабъ "slave" in Old Slavonic. The Church Fathers did not as a rule have a problem with slavery. They, like the Christ of the Gospels, took slavery in fact as an appropriate metaphor for the relationship to God. I doubt that modern devout English speakers would be comfortable referring to themselves as “slaves of God” no matter that that is what the phrase δοῦλος τοῦ Θεοῦ, like its Latin translation Servus Dei, originally meant. Though in some other modern languages (Russian and Arabic come to mind) where the common term for “slave” doesn’t have quite the associations it does in English, this is still done.

Camera Obscura

There is no more a moment in the room
when all are gone from it. There are the hairs
that lie upon the carpet till the broom,
and the poem written by a man who stared
at them and left into the populace. 
Nothing you would dare to call interesting
remains. Human remains are what there is.
The feather does not know it was once a wing.

It is an office for the unemployed
having become a little more itself.
Now there is no one looking at the shelf
for something to avow or to avoid.
There is no more a moment. And the room
has nothing anymore with which to rhyme.

Exordium




Is that a voice I hear of living men?
Or phantoms in my own throat of the past?
Once more the memory of ancient days
Comes like an evening sun upon the soul.
The hunt is yet again afoot. The horns
Ring in the hills beyond the rounds of reason.
The midnight wind is harping through the hall.
I lift the spear, at evening of the mind.

But do I hear that voice? Where are you now,
Good poet? All your children are asleep
Under the bronze-stocked bonemounds till the day
That Father Sky gathers his seven dark
Daughters in one house in the last unworlding.
I think the head of Uruklewes' spear
Is fluting in the wind. It calls his hands
Back like a fallen orphan from the barrows.

Was that the thunder throttling up the clouds
Or oakenlord Perkunos calling all
His brothers home beneath the barrow world?
Around Klewekos' ancient tomb the hounds
Of hunt appear. The song of other days
Strums at the bones of doughty Kermeklewes.
Father Sky is no more dark in his clouds
Though night rolls like a wheel upon the plain.
The spear of Uruklewes in the wind
Is singing in my hall. Sing, yearcut spear,
Once more in my time, lift the tale again,
And carry out the night with morning's joy,
As Montia wakes her greatest kin in me.

I hear you, Uruklewes, by the sea     
With holy mind, the son of Segeklewes.
The days you rose with dawn and rode the bloodfields   
Like wrathwild fire, host against host on horse
Amid the arrows like Perkunos' oak
In hailblasts. Strongholds sundered, cattle killed,
You found your way across the plains to live.
Now wildgrass conquers green the mighty tomb

Of King Piwerion beyond the hills. 
Well-wrought the name, good Segeklewes,
You gave your firstborn, worthy of a deathless
Fame in the heavens and amid the earthborn.
Forgotten, may it yet sound till Father Sky
Sees his bright daughter clasp her seven sisters,
And the songs the godvoiced poets weave
Have no planet left to hear them.































Īserō mentī Ūruklewems monēyō Segheklewos sūnum tregsnos,
kwi trsēmnē ghaisē eghwent tusntī wīrōs ekwōskwe
Ekde peluwāms dināms arnumet sāwlōi kruarwōi koriomkwe wedhet
kwālas engwnis sweidonts streudhont koryos prota koryom, wīroskwe wīrom.
Enteri kēla omos sistāt kwālas perkwos perkwunoso grōdi
Antiyoms dhūnoms olēyet opskwe pekeus ainumēieto
Artios bhūita priyom nōmn kwod dhidhēsi sūnowei Segheklewe
Wēru klewos ṇdghwitom manāiēt tosmi kemelei esmi pltewiyāique
Nōmn sewe dedhāksieti nekwom mō ḱeiweti dheghmos ōsonos
Boukāsieti teni Deiwos dhugtēr wēmos twersieti swesorm oini demi
We teksōnos wekwom kānmena nē senkhonti regnōisi


Or else, a rock in accidents of wind
Making mere noises propped upon a post
Has wrung its uttermost out of a mind
That for a moment dared believe in ghosts. 

On Troubadour Manuscripts and Spelling

In Marcabru's Bel m'es quan la rana we find the words < lonja/monja/vergonha/messonja> rhymed with each other.

And in a poem of Raimon de Miravalh we find the following lines:

Senes vergonha,

Car non y a una tan conja
Non pogues estar ses vergonja

The form of the poem suggests that <vergonha, conja, vergonja> are to be taken as rhymes. It is extremely unlikely that the two tokens <vergonha> and <vergonja> were meant to be pronounced differently from one another, or that something less than a full rhyme was intended.

It seems worthwhile to use a regularized orthography for the Old Occitan of Troubadour poetry. The one I have devised is based primarily on the nòrma classica used by most writers of Modern Occitan today. It is in essence an adaptation of the nòrma classica to Lyric Occitan, on par with previous adaptations to Lengadocian, Provençal and other modern dialects. It has the effect of making Occitan look a good deal more like Catalan. 

In doing this, I part ways with the general consensus of scholars and editors of troubadour texts. 


Generally troubadour lyrics are printed in a way that more or less reflects the orthography of the later medieval manuscripts the texts are found in. Even recensions relying heavily on half a dozen or more witnesses tend to keep each emendation to the base text in the precise form found in the source manuscript. William Paden advises editors of troubadour texts:

More fundamental than metrical structure, but more delicate, is the language itself. Old Occitan was far from standardized, and the troubadour koiné accepted alternative forms in many graphic, phonological and morphological functions. Do not impose a standardized language upon your helpless poet. You must accept variations produced by the logic of the language. 
In a footnote to this paragraph, Paden expresses his (and many others') unfavorable view of previous attempts at systematized or regularized orthography for modern representation of Old Occitan lyric texts. Paden makes an error common among educated persons in modern literate societies, and a few more errors common among scholars of Old Occitan. 

The first error is to identify language with its written form. This is an easy slip for scholars studying dead languages where writing is all that we have to work with. This error is father to the assumption that changing the orthography of a language is in effect changing the language itself, and therefore respecting the attested orthography is part and parcel of respecting the text and doing right by the "hapless poet." There are extreme cases, such as Classical Chinese, where it is actually true that changing orthography is tantamount to changing the language in an important way. There are other cases (such as Ottoman Turkish, Urdu, Persian or Yiddish) where orthography itself may express information relevant to the aesthetic appreciation of a text which would not necessarily be evident to a foreign reader or even listener. But these are cases where orthography is much more "standardized" than 12th century Occitan was. Writing songs down at all seems to have been highly unusual in 12th century Occitania. Bernart de Ventadorn mentions, at the end of one song, that he is committing his work to writing because he cannot send a messenger to relay it to his beloved orally. Were it not for this, we would have no evidence that songs of this kind were written down at all in Bernart's lifetime.


A spoken language remains largely the same no matter what combination of symbols you use to represent it, just as a person is largely the same no matter what angle you photograph them from. 


The advice commonly given to singers (e.g. by Robert Taylor in Singing Early Music) is to use different pronunciations for the different manuscript spellings (e.g. <olh, uolh, uelh>). Such advice is sometimes justified by the plausible suggestion that the variants might have coexisted or singers may chosen one or another intentionally for aesthetic purposes. In recent years much hay has been made of this "diversity" present in troubadour manuscripts. But the precise details of the orthography of the chansonniers may say very little about the pronunciation of troubadour song in the 12th century. 


It is true that competing forms may alternate even in the natural speech of a single person (e.g. everyone vs. everybody.) This may be doubly true of a single singer using a performance dialect. There is even reason to believe that aesthetically motivated alternation existed for at least some features in Lyric Occitan. 


It is one thing to keep all of this in mind. It is quite another matter to imply that the troubadour texts we have, separated from the original composition of the songs by at least two human lifetimes during which they survived largely in oral transmission, could be faithful records of such diversity in any but the greatest of generalities. The very suggestion strains all credulity. 


In the specific case of <olh, uolh, uelh, uel> when such spellings co-occur in a single manuscript, the same general target sound in the performance dialect is being represented with a variety of different regional spellings. The precise realization of that target sound will have been different for different troubadours, and had different levels of consistency depending on the performer's temperament with regard to the performance dialect. But the spellings themselves do not necessarily imply anything about whether one or the other pronunciation was preferred by a given singer (on any given occasion.) And even in early and highly localizable non-lyric compositions such as the Boecis, spellings are inconsistent on this and other points. 


Medieval Occitan scribes not only did not have much use for strict orthographic consistency in vernacular writing, but they also lacked any concept of correct and incorrect spelling. 
What mattered was that what they wrote be readable and that the reader not be led to mistake a given form for something else unintended. This entails only that the orthography use symbol combinations intelligible to the reader in terms of established patterns. Like so:


R father hoo art in heaven. Hallode bee thy neym. Thy kingdum kum, thy wil be dun, on urth az it iz in heven. Give us this deigh r deighlee bred & 4give us r trespasses az wee 4give those who trespass agenst us. And leed us not in2 temptation butt deliver uss frum evil. 

From Dante's Early Draft of the Inferno

Apparently Dante originally planned to write his Divine Comedy in Old Occitan, the lyric Romance language which he knew and loved so well, (he ended up having Arnaut Daniel in the Purgatorio speak in Old Occitan verse.) Below is a recently discovered fragment from a late copy of what appears to be Dante's early draft of the Inferno in Old Occitan.

En meytat del chamin de nostra vida
Revengui soptamen per selva escura,
On la dreita via m’era gandida.

Ay com dire qu’era m’es chauza dura,
Aquela selva, bocs sauvatge e fortz,
Que son pensars ancuey me deznatura

Tan amara es que pauc plus fos la mortz
Mas per trassar lo Bon qu’eu lai trobei
Çai lo demais dins de meu trobar sortz.

No sai ben redire com i entrei
Tan era ieu plen de songe e pantai
On lo vertadier camin desamprei

Mas com vengui az una cola lai
A l’endreit on aquill comba fenis
Que m’ac tant comolat lo cor d’esglai

Gaytei en aut e sas espatlas vis
Vestidas ja dels ray de la planeta
Que mena dreyt chascu per totz chamis

Aissi ma paor seguet un pauc queta
Qu’en lo lac del cor m’avia durat
La nuoch — que passei en languis — restreta

E com aquelh que, ab alen buffat,
Toca la riba en eschapan del riu 
Se vira a l’aiga un agach espautat

Aital mon arma com un fugitiu,
Tornet detras per remirar lo pas
Que no laisset passar nuill home viu.

Puei quan aic pausat un pauc mo cors las
Segui·l chamin vas la platja deserta
E lo ferm pes sempre era lo plus bas

Et ec ras de la costa vi aperta
Una lonza leugiera tota via
Qu'era de pichatada pel coberta

E jamais de denan no me partia 
Mas tan m'atahinava los camins
Que plus d'un vetz me virei en la via

Era·l temps ont comensa lo matins
E lo Solelh pojava ab las estellas
Quez eran ab el quan l'Amors Divins

Mes al mover aquellas cauzas bellas
Tan que d'esperar ben agues razo
D'aquelha bestia en pel d'estencellas

En l'ora d'ara e la dolça sazo
No per ço que d'esglai me comolava 
La vista apareguda d'un leo.

In the Beginning

In the beginning was the Word
In four unbending beats
And a book drumming heavenward
Upon its future sheets.

Against the copper clanging chime
Humanity is dazed.
The tribes are winking out in time.
Amorium is razed.

In the beginning was the Word
In four unbending beats
And in the ending was the sword
Upon a thousand streets.

On Cynewulf's "Elene"

I hadn't read Cynewulf's "Elene" (an Old English poem on the life of Saint Helena) until now. Mostly I avoided it because stories about Saint Helena often contain nasty antisemitism, heaping rank praise on those who display the Christian Virtue of treating Jews like shit. Byzantine iconographic portrayals of St. Helena sometimes even include pictures of her valorously torturing Jews.

But Old English Christian epics can be great, like the one on the life of St. Andrew, which twists Beowulfisc language about in fascinating ways.

So, since I'm on an Old English kick, I gave it a shot. I spent today reading the poem, and my pre-suppositions were robustly confirmed and then some. Lordy, I think this may actually be the most grotesquely anti-semitic treatment of the Life of Helena that I have ever encountered. It may be one of the most deeply anti-semitic things in all of medieval Christian literature, though there is of course vigorous competition for that title.

Shit like this is part of why I despise popular medieval nostalgia, and why Christian valorizations of mercy and kindness ring hollow when people suggest that being a Christian has anything to do with how good a person you are. The path to the True Cross is littered with Jewish corpses, and has been for a very long time.

Fuck Christian "meekness."

Fuck it now and ever and unto the ages of ages.

Baa Baa Black Seep, Some Boys Cry

Nursery rhymes have become sanitized as they increasingly became the possession of a class of people that could afford the luxury of raising children to believe that all was right with the world, and that authority figures would make sure everything was okay.

Children today learn the rhyme "Baa Baa Black Sheep" in the following form:

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane

But the original version of Bah Bah Black Sheep, found in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book of 1744 has:

Bah, Bah, a black Sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes merry I have,
Three bags full,
Two for my master,
One for my dame,
None for the little boy
That cries in the lane.

Today, the only thing about this rhyme — in its sanitized version — that has ever given the well-fed, well-bred and well-read any discomfort has been the potential racial implications of the word "black." Leaving others to cry foul at political correctness of "updating" it to remove the color term. There was a spat about it in the 1980s.

Yet neither realizes, or would like to realize, how much whitewashing has already happened to the rhyme. The original point about social inequality has been successfully bleached away.

Dido

The queen had fallen. On the pyre
The soldiers built her in the city,
Her body, bitten by desire,
Writhed for the reader's sense of pity

And classic passion. As the thin
Carcass immortalized her name,
The ribs wore through her blackening skin,
The fat burned with a violet flame.

But when Carthage burns at Cato's stake,
What is the meaning of the flame
That kept the Trojan's flesh awake
And made him moan and moan her name?

From the Widhere Manuscript: Virgil in Old English

El hecho es que cada escritor crea sus precursores. Su labor modifica nuestra concepción del pasado, como ha de modificar el futuro. En esta correlación nada importa la identidad o la pluralidad de los hombres.  
The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it must modify the future. In this correlation, the identity or plurality of men is of no importance. 
   — Borges "Kafka y sus precursores" 
Through a series of events I am not yet at liberty to recount, some fragments (transcriptions of a lost early modern copy) of an otherwise lost Old English manuscript — which I dub the "Widhere Manuscript" after the name it gives to its version of the hero Aeneas — have come to my attention.

Apart from an account of the funeral of Alaric the Visigoth, and a lament on the Sack of Lindesfarne, the fragments consist largely of free translations of Greek and Latin verse. That fact in itself is not surprising, even if knowledge of Greek was rare. The attested OE corpus already includes a good deal of verse translation (such as Boethius and the Psalms), including a number of amplifying verse paraphrases of texts that were originally in prose.

Unlike most other Old English verse-translators, this translator rendered verse of a patently non-Christian nature. There are fragments of Horace, Ovid, Semonides of Amorgos, Virgil, Apollonius of Rhodes and Tyrtaeus. The translator took a domesticating view of his material, turning Roman gods into Germanic gods (or perhaps turning Germanic gods into Roman gods) as readily as the Romans did with Greek gods. But the equations are not mechanical. In the Aeneid and Odyssey fragments, the role of Jupiter is sometimes given to Wōden, and sometimes to Þunor. Sometimes they appear together, or Þunor speaks on behalf of Wōden.

I transcribe the first of the Aeneid fragments below.

Two of the divine beings named are mentioned nowhere else in OE literature, and it is only Old Norse that allows us to securely recognize Braga as a poetry god. Terms like ærbeorn and osþrymm are attested nowhere else in OE either. The fragment here is abbreviated in one place, relative to the Latin original (the result is that Aeneas himself is presented as being the one to build the walls of Rome.) The prosody suggests this is a late text indeed, and the punning on secgan and secg (and two different meanings of the latter) is curiously playful. The ostentatious paganism, transforming a respected Classical work into a vehicle for deities that were diabolized in the translator's society is a strange show of antiquarianism.

I cannot shake the sense that this is the work of a deeply eccentric mind. It is difficult to imagine what drove him to such an odd literary performance. The potential audience for a work like this would have been small indeed. But then, translators sometimes do strange things. I'd say it might seem unimaginable. But that's not true. You can play some quite strange tricks on your imagination.

Lēoþ iċ seċġe  seċġa ond þæs ǣrbeornes
se þe fram Trōian sīþ  āsette tō Eatules
Wǣġrimum, wyrdes  wræcmon ond sǣrinc.
Hine ġeon mearclond  ond mererāda þrēow
Ōsþrymmas mihtmōd.  Irreġemynd Wælfrōwan
Feor on wælfǣhþe  wræc his bānhūs.
Wann ēac wīġgryras  tō þæs þe hē weall stealde
Rōmebyriġ ond lǣdde Lǣdenlonde his godas.
Hwæt! Brāga wecþ on brēoste þā þing...

Below is my (necessarily tentative) literal translation of the fragment:
A lay I sing of swords1and of the original hero who from Troy set forth to Italy's wave-rims, fate's exile2 and seawarrior3. He through countrylands and the waveroads was thrown about by the fell passion of the Aesir powers. Valfreyja's raging memory in deadly feud harrowed the bones of his body far in exile. And war-horrors he weathered also, until he set the rampart of Romeburg, and led his gods into Latinland. Attend! Bragi quickens in my breast the causes...
 This word could also be translated as "warriors, men." Secg as a feminine i-stem noun means "sword." As a masculine a-stem noun it is a poetic word for "warrior, man."
 2 Other possible translations are "wretch, persecuted one."
 3 Or "sea-raider"
 There are any number of possible translations of translations for þa þing. Possibilities include Motives, issues, matters, questions, points and more besides. 

Nuntium Falsum

You told yourself it was fake news.
The TV has begun to watch
A man with swastika tattoos.

The pus had long begun to ooze.
We still found it sweet to the touch.
You told yourself it was fake news.

However many interviews
You try, you will need more to catch
A man with swastika tattoos.

Alarms go off. Do not ask whose.
Making a leg out of a crutch
You told yourself it was fake news.

The lovers will be cut in twos.
It will not really bother such
A man with swastika tattoos.

The fat man slurps his Johnny Blues
Pouring his fluids on a match.
You told yourself it was fake news

And all the sexy rendezvous
Became a palliative patch.
The man has swastika tattoos.

Children are walking without shoes
Somewhere else. Sitting on the couch
You told yourself it was fake news.

History will collect its dues
Sometime, and light as nasty match
A man with swastika tattoos.
You told yourself it was fake news.

Up the Hill

Jack had grown fond of Jessie.
Jill brought it to an end.
But absence made the heart
Grow something different.

It happened at the well
On the hill known well to you.
The baby needed water.
But there was more to do.

Jack took her in his arms
And bashed her skull on a rafter.
The baby went down the well
And Jill came tumbling after.

The Russians Are Coming!

I am not big on the "Russian interference" story currently wafting about in the mainstream Democratic firmament of this country. Not because it is not true, but because its perspective is myopic. Raise your hand if you seriously think there has been an American national election in recent times where the Russians, the Chinese, the Israelis, the Saudis or the Venezualans didn't try to influence outcomes by duplicitous means. And the US itself uses a range of cyber activities to try and influence political behavior in a number of other countries. That Russia made this move is neither surprising nor cause for outrage. Leaving aside our long history of toppling the democratically elected leadership of other countries, there is nothing that the Russian intelligence community did that the CIA isn't still doing — or trying to do — in places like Venezuela, Lebanon or the West Bank.

Russia making corrosive moves to influence American politics is not news, and American outrage over it is a combination of sheer hypocrisy and willful ignorance.

The reason Russia was able to interfere, buy influence, and corrode the process so successfully is because the American information system had already been poisoned by people like Murdoch and the Kochs, along with a heaping helping from a Democratic Party with unbridled contempt for its own electorate, and all the other stuff I never tire of rambling about.

The Russians may be shitting in our sewer but they ain’t the ones that stank it up. The way in which this line of thought is being put about now is sometimes outright loony. For example, the assertions that the US has a “puppet government run from Moscow” which I have seen more than once today.

It shouldn’t take a nanosecond's thought to see that, in a country like the US, the idea that “evil foreigners are responsible for my country’s problems” is a recipe for all manner of idiocy and eventual nastiness. I have lived in countries where popular political culture is laden with unreasoned paranoia about “foreign agents.” Now, we are nowhere near there. Yet. But some of this stuff I’m seeing about how “the Russians are behind it” has begun to ring some familiar alarm bells. 

Free Elections for Wakanda

Finally saw Black Panther. My immediate impression: ok that was a nice romp, but is Wakanda ever going to have free elections? Do they have a free press? In fact, have they any social thought or political philosophy beyond autocratic rule justified by ritual bloodsport.

The answer to the latter question is yes. In the comic books we learn that it is a militaristic police state with a powerful secret police called the Hatut Zeraze. This is the advanced society of wonders that we are supposed to be wowed by.

I really could have done without the celebration of race-thinking, which made me cringe. The obsession with blood and ancestry, the mysticizing mumbo-jumbo, and the whole authoritarian wankfest were all like Tolkien at his most irritating.

The feelgood pitch to black American fantasies about Africa, and the dream of the Great Uncolonized was not quite as tiresome as I feared it would be. But tiresome it was. I wonder if Shaft stopped in Wakanda while he was in Africa, or if Wakandans tell horror stories about the vampire named Blacula.

Black Panther is blaxploitation's gritty reboot. And what it says about the present moment is quite chilling. Notwithstanding the little flirtation about how we're all one human tribe and all, it seems like the kind of movie you would make if you wanted to prove a bet that a fascist political aesthetic could be made appealing to any demographic as long as you package it properly.

I did really enjoy the spectacle of it. The jokes were funny. There were a couple turns that I did not expect. There are moments that I think might have moved me more if so much else hadn't put me off. Killmonger's suicide might have been tragic, had he not been such a laughable cartoon to begin with that I felt nothing but relief when he finally put himself out of my misery.

Mostly it was a by-the-numbers film about charismatic supermen, with a bit of moral ambiguity pasted on its ass. And we loves us a charismatic superman, lawdy yes we does. Übermensch, 2020! Make Wakanda Great Again!

The left corner of the internet continues to make Much Ado about the nothing of this live-action cartoon. As if it were some kind of political breakthrough or cultural achievement. It all reminds me of that Adolph Reed Jr. quote:
Insistence on the transhistorical primacy of racism as a source of inequality is a class politics. It’s the politics of a stratum of the professional-managerial class whose material location and interests, and thus whose ideological commitments, are bound up with parsing, interpreting and administering inequality defined in terms of disparities among ascriptively defined populations reified as groups or even cultures. In fact, much of the intellectual life of this stratum is devoted to shoehorning into the rubric of racism all manner of inequalities that may appear statistically as racial disparities. And that project shares capitalism’s ideological tendency to obscure race’s foundations, as well as the foundations of all such ascriptive hierarchies, in historically specific political economy. This felicitous convergence may help explain why proponents of “cultural politics” are so inclined to treat the products and production processes of the mass entertainment industry as a terrain for political struggle and debate. They don’t see the industry’s imperatives as fundamentally incompatible with the notions of a just society they seek to advance. In fact, they share its fetishization of heroes and penchant for inspirational stories of individual Overcoming. This sort of ‘politics of representation’ is no more than an image-management discourse within neoliberalism. That strains of an ersatz left imagine it to be something more marks the extent of our defeat.

On Losing Your (Carrara) Marbles: a Note on Tsvetaeva in English

I have started translating Tsvetaeva because — with some exceptions— current translations irritate me, and for largely the same reasons that most of Dante's translators irritate me.

They do not turn her into a bad poet, and usually get something at least okay out of her.

Pasternak can easily sound like bad Tennyson if the translator is not careful. Pushkin easily comes across as a trite repository of second-hand ideas and clichés (which, to be fair, he sometimes was in his interpersonal life though not his art).

But it would take serious effort, seriously inverted talent, or serious risk of the kind translators seldom take, in order to make Tsvetaeva or Mandelshtam into consistently bad verse. Tsvetaeva's poetic thinking is often dense, image-laden in precisely the right way to supply the requisite combination of formulaic oddity and paired-down rhetoric that modern English-speaking literary elites expect.

This is a problem, because it invites the translator — and therefore the reader — to enjoy the comfort zone. It is all even. Like a literal translation of the expression все равно. English translators of Tsvetaeva are less creative and/or more timid than they could be, than Tsvetaeva. It would be a cliché — and, worse still, untrue — to say that they water her wine down. But they add more than a spoonful of sugar to make her medicine go down in the most unsleightful way. And unlike airborn English nannies, they don't usually like doing it musically. They sacrifice Tsvetaeva's linguistic sensibility for one that is acceptable to English-speakers reading a poem (especially in translation where there is higher atmospheric pressure to be, in one or another sense, "normal.")

Imagine the great Sylvie Laplatte's poem "Father" began thus in English translation:

You are not suited, you are not suited 
To me any longer, black shoe 
Where I've lived like a foot   
For thirty years, poor and white,   
Hardly daring to take a breath or sneeze.

Two widely-praised translations, very different from each other, have the same basic problem. Elaine Feinstein cuts Tsvetaeva's music down by more than a meter, smooths out her abruptness, and turns her into very competent free verse. David McDuff, translating with a lot of rhyme and reason, produces some stiffness in his versions, to be sure, but that's not much of a problem. Tsvetaeva could be stiff. But he runs flatfoot over her polysemy, her wordplayfulness, her sense of the game, as well as her shifts of mood and tone. Removed in both cases are any linguistic eccentricities that are irreconcilable with how English-readers have been indoctrinated conditioned to think modern poetry should sound.

Content to take the English language as they find it, translators allow and even encourage their Tsvetaeva-clones grow into a genteel poetessa of sorts. They may be suited to the taste. But they do not do, they do not do.

Tsvetaeva was not content to take the Russian language as she found it. She did things that were not merely odd but weird. She wasn't setting out to to rock boats, to be sure. But she did helm a boat that really rocks. What she wanted to do led her to push the limits of poetic language, sometimes almost to the breaking point. Her poetry is full of double and quintuple entendres. She sometimes coins words, and uses existing ones in odd ways. Take the lines from "Jealousy Attempt"

Как живется вам с простою
Женщиною? Без божеств?
Государыню с престола
Свергши (с оного сошед),

(How's life going with a simple woman? Without godhead? Having overthrown your empress from the throne — and having thence stepped down —)

The prose paraphrase does not convey a few things. It cannot convey that "without godhead" is an allusion to Pushkin. It also does not convey the fact that the third and fourth of these lines use a highly archaic style reminiscent of the high court poetry of two hundred years earlier. Nobody speaks (or writes) with words like оного. On the other hand "Как живется" is colloquial and informal. You'd talk to friends your own age like that, but not your boss.

Tsvetaeva's vocabulary ranges from the bookish almost to the backstreet. She has no compunction about mixing the archaic register of 18th century bombast with the language of casual conversation in the same poem, and even in the same stanza. Imagine "What's up?" and "Thou" occurring in the same stanza in an American English poem.

It's possible to do the same sort of thing in English, mixing registers, toying with words, with a regard both for the land of the literal and the waves of the littoral. It's hard but there's nothing impossible about it. Translators often don't have the balls. They set up the net, but they aren't playing with any balls. And when you aren't playing with balls, you're just raising a racket.

The takeaway, in other words, is that translators should loosen up, find their balls and play with them a bit. Remember: just because you're speaking seriously, doesn't mean you can't have fun doing it. 

Musings, Thought-shards and the Like

The world is often most eager to categorize those individuals who most defy any easy categorization. As a rule, the less of a reductive cliché one is, the more clichés one is reduced to.

***

It is a sign of gullibility to believe that only idiots can be gullible

***

People make an unreasonably big deal over orthography. A spoken language remains largely the same no matter what combination of symbols you use to represent it, just as a person is largely the same no matter what angle you photograph them from.

***

Success as a writer is to get a positive reaction for telling the reader something other than what they were already waiting to be told. Any idiot can feed things into a waiting and eagerly opened mouth. It takes skill or luck to get the morbidly insensate to realize they are in need of nourishment.

***

The fact that an account isn't representative of everything does not mean it isn't representative of anything

***

Try bringing up Esperantists as a genuine linguistic community in a room of sociolinguists and they will act like you just urinated on their teddybear.

***

Good is something you just talk about. It is something you do. Or it is nothing.

***

You cannot institutionalize independent thinking

***

It is often the establishment's greatest beneficiaries who stand to benefit the most by convincing others, and eventually themselves, that they are anti-establishment underdogs.

***

The only moral response to “If you're not with me, you're against me” is “in that case, I'm against you”

***

Religious people have much greater clarity about the gods they don't believe in than the gods that they do.

***

The best literary translators are concerned not with the great amount that is lost in translation, but with the equally great amount that stands to be gained.

***

What is called God's justice is typically a human's idea of what they would do if they were God.

***

Upper-class liberal multiculturalism is an aristocratic self-image. There are certainly things that it is preferable to. But there is no need to pretend that it is more, or other, than what it is.

***

People who have no actual power to control events often comfort themselves by pretending that they in some way have control. A good measure of defeat is the degree to which the distinction between minor and major problems is obliterated, and matters of secondary consequence are invested with great moral urgency. If I have no real ability to change a thing in any way, but I can of course control my personal behavior, it is seductive to think that changing how I behave, how I talk about a thing, what I wear, or what movies I do or do not pirate, may actually contribute to changing the thing itself. "We all have our part to play in this" is an appealing alternative to the prospect that you are simply out of account. Sometimes, it is the alternative to losing your mind completely.

***

Always beware of someone whom everybody finds charming or likable. For the same reason that you shouldn't be impressed at the sense of humor of someone who laughs at absolutely everything. If you're not disliked by somebody, if nobody has a problem with you, then there is a lot you conceal from everyone.

***

A loathing or repudiation of rhetoric is neither necessary nor sufficient to allow one to see beneath the rhetorician’s lie. A lie is a lie, no matter what stuff it be gauded in. The distinction between matter and manner should be made, at least sometimes.

***

The laugh of the cynic should not be mistaken for soullessness. It is the alternative to a life of horrified screaming.

***

A valuable habit to cultivate: learn to discern the truth by the way other people tell lies, but never slip into paranoia.

***

"Russian is a richer language than English!" Pfah. I defy anybody to find a Russian word for privacy, or three Russian words that can adequately translate the three-way distinction between disillusionment, disenchantment and disappointment.

***

You will rarely find that any two randomly selected individuals are exactly the same height. One will always be taller and the other shorter, if only by a fraction of an inch. Likewise, it is statistically likely that, of any two given evils, one will be the lesser. And it is a fact of eternal banality that, when one is faced with a list of bad options, the best option chosen will still be bad.
But those who employ the phrase "lesser of two evils" are not simply re-stating the obvious. There is a seedy rationalization at work. It is worth noting that this is often the only use of the word "evil" that such people ever permit themselves. Scarcely a second after inflicting the cliché upon the eye or the ear, they forget that the lesser of two evils is, still and ever, evil.
And there is no limit to the degree of evil a sane mind can be found to endorse, as long as that evil can be cast as the lesser of two.

***

Intelligent people can be brilliant at believing stupid things. A narrow intelligence, in the absence of proper perspective, may easily make a person all the more tenacious in maintaining the most ridiculous of ideas, as they are all the more equipped to rationalize whatever bullshit they are loath to relinquish. Formalistic thinkers in particular are suckers for beautiful arguments with one false premise.

***

يشكل التسامح، وفقا للمعايير الحديثة، فكرةً غير متسامحة في الاساس. التسامح يعني انني احكُمك، وسأسمح لك بقسط من الحقوق والامتيازات التي اتمتّع بها ،ولكن ليس كلها، شرطا أنْ تتصرف تبعا لقوانين أشرّعها وأنفّذها وأفرضها انا عليك. إنّ حقوق الانسان ليس لها ادنى علاقة بمجرد التسامح، فالتسامح لا يُنتِج مقدار ذرة من الاحترام بالضرورة

***

I think the time has come for the term “liberal reactionary.” A person who sees the anti-racist consensus under attack, and uses this as an excuse to double down on their class-interests.

***

Impure genius exists. Pure genius is an oxymoron.

***

Those who hate evil more intensely than they love good are in a dangerous position.

***

شأن الله شأن الفلوس والزواج والقوانين وغيرها من الاشياء والمفاهيم التي لا توجد سوى بقدر ما يؤمن المجتمع بوجودها

***

Joseph Brodsky is not the best translator of Joseph Brodsky. I wonder if the reason so many of his best poems have yet to be well translated into English is because others were uncomfortable trying their hands when an English version by the author's own hand existed.

***

Relatively few love poems celebrate a love that actually exists with a lover who is actually present. Poets tend to either anticipate it with joy or look back on it with nostalgia or pain. They prefer the past or future to the present. Actual love in the present moment seems to be diminished by too much introspection, and those love poets who deal with it seem to relish the mundanity of things, as if to reaffirm that what they are feeling is real.

***

The Abbasids appropriated Hellenism from the Byzantines as part of an explicitly articulated cultural program of supplanting and delegitimating the Byzantines as heirs to Greek greatness. And it was done largely with the labor of Christians and converts from Christianity. Or did you think Abbasid Arab Muslims actually bothered to learn Greek and Syriac? Nobody who whinges about cultural appropriation has any business glorifying the Abbasid translation movement.

***

I am tired of the use of the word “colonialism” not as a descriptor of a set of identifiable practices, but as a morally charged (and frequently psychologically inflected) metaphor that passes for reality. This is responsible for a good deal of muddled thinking.

***

Actual diversity is the last thing to be found within ten miles of anyone who feels the need to make noise over Diversity™

***

سامح اعداءك لكن لا تنسٓ أبدا أسماءهم

***

New Rule: you can’t be an expert on the Middle East if you can’t read a newspaper article in either Hebrew, Arabic or Persian.

***

There is no crime that a human being can commit that would justify treating them as less than a human being.

***

If you genuinely think nothing worse than Trump is possible, then you are ignorant of history and current global affairs.

***

There is something fucked up about a country that gets more bent out of shape about a president calling Haiti a shithole country than about a president bombing Yemen. 

***

The world is run by sociopaths and you have to live in it.

***

It’s gotten so that every time I see the phrase “profoundly problematic” I think “what fresh bullshit am I going to be served today?”

***

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a completely ad-hoc plot convenience cooked up in the writers' room.

***

Your freedom of speech does not translate into my obligation to listen.

***

Слово пошлость часто считается непереводимым. Как бы то ни было, хотя у нас в америке такого слова нет, зато в значительном избытке есть само явление.

***

Intersectionality is how members of the haute bourgeoise like Ava Du Vernay can be seen to speak for the black woman who sold me my last burger at McDonalds

***

إن اردت التعددية فتحتاج الى دولة علمانية لا الهَ في دستورها اذ أنّ العلمانية الضامن الوحيد للحرية الدينية.


***

I dearly wish comic book artists would stop drawing women like deformed sex-mutants

***

According to my thesaurus, there isn't another word for synonym

***

Mars habet duces.
Pax habet decus.
Qui marte luces
Tu dux es caecus,
Trumpus Donaldus.
Baro in luce,
Follis est caldus.
Saluto il Duce.

***

What dumbass put an "s" into the word "lisp"?

***

I have nothing but respect for the Department of Fatherland Security

***

The sentence "every farmer who has a donkey beats it" has many possible meanings.

***

Postmodernism is the bad hangover of a civilization that got drunk on the idea that nothing would ever happen again for the first time.

***

The idea of artistic originality (and the negative connotations of "plagiarism"), has got to be one of the stupidest ideas the modern world has about art. Uncertain paternity is no more a blemish on an artistic work than on a person, and the only real bastards are the Romantics who failed to grasp this. Many ridiculous notions such as "ripoff" and "derivative" (as well as a whole sub-genre of modern copyright law) rest on the same general absurdity.

***

This Ibid guy must be the most prolific and versatile scholar ever to exist.

***

Just because I'm an atheist, doesn't mean I don't believe in anything at all. I do, for example, firmly believe in the reality of the Surgeon Birth. It is undeniably true that C-sections actually happen.

***

The Grinch seems to be the last of his species. No wonder he's bitter at the Whos. They probably exterminated his entire civilization.

***

Я помню чудное мученье.
Передо мной явился ты,
Стабильный гений неведенья,
Как призрак фарса и беды.
— А.С. Пушкин к Дональду Трампу

***

This A. Z. Foreman guy is so arrogant and pretentious, I bet he even talks about himself in the third person. 

***

One of the smelliest things about Cop Shows in any country is their tendency to portray Internal Investigations as the Bad Guy.

***

لا يحتاج العقلاء الى وعد الجنّة ولا الى التخويف من الجحيم لإدراك الفضل في الأعمال الصالحة

***

Never insult literature by turning it into scripture. Shakespeare has suffered enough at the hands of his worshippers.

***

Violence sometimes is the solution, no matter what fortune cookies say. But that doesn’t mean you should be an idiot about it.

***

It is probably a crappy movie if the black supporting character refers to “my black ass” at any time.

***

Just because an opinion is given by an expert, doesn't mean it is wrong. 

***

It doesn’t seem to me to be true that “nothing can really be translated.” Nearer the truth is that everything can be translated. It’s just that not everything can be translated well.

***

Language is the one thing where, the more educated you are, the more ignorant you tend to be about it.

***

Many of the old left, of all colors, are disturbed by the obsession over “cultural appropriation” because a lot of what they cherish most (whether as artists, political thinkers or just as human beings) comes from their having violated some cultural precinct formerly held sacrosanct. Concern with cultural intactness and with “whose culture a tradition really belongs to” is profoundly conservative, no matter what your color. I can’t help but notice that a lot of the people in the Anglophone world who are most eager to bow to the idea of cultural appropriation as a kind of terrible blasphemy are also some of the ones who uttered not a goddamn peep in 1989-1990 to defend Salman Rushdie from the charge of literal blasphemy and literal death threats. “This hurts my cultural feelings" is an age old cry of conservatism in any and every society.

***

You can't dismiss Human Rights as merely an imperialist creation without asking: what would a world without the concept of rights be like?

***

I am sick of people making the claim that there is no objective truth, as if it were objectively true.

***

كان هناك رجل لم يعجبه طبخ زوجته، فوضع لها لوحةً في المطبخ كتب عليها
"إن الله يحب إذا عمل احدكم عملا أن يتقنه"
أخذتها فعلّقتها في غرفة النوم 

***

One reason why administrators love adjunct professors is that they are usually too vulnerable to teach any topic seen as controversial.

***

Things that are regarded as evil always draw in an unseemly fascination, but things regarded as trashy or behind the times do not. What will it take, I wonder, for reasonless violence to fall plonk in the realm of the Uncool? Eventually, we may grow so bored with seeing our fellow creatures dismembered in simulacrum, that trashy may be the worst anyone is able to think of it anymore.

***

Just because a lie is batshit crazy and absurd, does not mean it is meaningless, that its effect is not worth taking seriously. I don't just mean taking seriously the possibility or even likelihood of someone or some multitude believing the lie. I mean the effect that constantly being lied to has on you, me, and any other primate. The power of lies is not simply to get you to believe untruth. Constant assault of fabrication on one's faculties has the effect of dulling them in specific ways. Being inundated with transparent lie on lie for great stretches of time will have at least one effect: getting you used to being lied to. When you're used to being lied to constantly, when you simply accept it as part of the background noise of existence, truth tends to matter less and critical faculties wither. It becomes easier to convince yourself of all sorts of things that — from the outside — might sound delusional, easier to dismiss information out of hand that may have proven vital. So if you're going to be lied to constantly, it's best to dissect a lie now and again. If the experience of being lied to constantly is normalized, you are that much more vulnerable to demobilizing paranoia.

***

Donald Trump uses the phrase “fake news" in a way that blurs the more useful sense of the phrase. It muddles the distinction between good-faith poor journalism which - whether through bias, exaggeration or oversight - may be inaccurate and perhaps misleading, and a deliberate hoax which has no basis in fact and is intended to make you believe that it is something other than what it really is. A Yiddish proverb has it that "a half truth is a whole lie" and there's that Blake quote about how a "truth that's told with bad intent/ beats all the lies you can invent." All well and good. But there is an important difference between badly reporting the truth, and successfully purveying lies.

***

Women will soon be able to drive cars in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are finally entering the nineteenth century.

***

“I agree with you, but more eloquently”
- Martin Luther King Jr.

***

"في المستقبل كلما الناس بتسألني "دينك ايه؟" جوابي حيبقى "انا باعبُد الغباوة، وانت الهي الجديد


***

Secular piety is the funniest kind

***

On Star Trek they treat it as alien that Bajorans put their family name before their personal name (as in "Smith John".) I keep wondering what happened in the future to the Hungarians, the Chinese, the Koreans, the Mordvins, the Japanese and everybody else.

***

Multilingualism, both historically and presently, is more common than monolingualism. Yet linguistics has traditionally operated as if the monolingual were the normal speaker. An unnoted irony inheres in the fact that the majority of human beings ever to inhabit this weary globe have been capable of conversing in more languages than Noam Chomsky. 

***

The upper middle class always hates it when the poor are not sufficiently miserable

***

If bathroom legislation is about protecting children, there should be separate bathrooms for unmarried clergy.

***

I wanted healthcare like a civilized country and American capitalism gave me a Bluetooth salt shaker.

***

You don’t need to respect the religion somebody practices in order to respect their right to practice it

***

Iran supports the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh, even though Azeris are Shi'a. Lesson for anyone who thinks religion guides foreign policy.

***

Bad questions do not deserve good answers. At least, not all the time.

***

Star Trek: Enterprise is the Keyser Söze of outer space. The mind is always flaming wreckage in its wake.

***

I wish the police took sexual assault as seriously in real life as they do on cop shows

***

For Marx and Engels, it was Russia that was the reactionary behemoth and America the great hope of liberty. Something they usually don't teach you. In either country. 

***

Appelons les choses par leur nom: le régime de Trump est une ploutocratie.

***

Placing a high value on authenticity seems paradoxically to encourage phoniness

***

Increasingly one is forced to render one's own intellect anonymous as the price for functioning as an intellectual.

***

To be objective is not to be neutral. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle, but it is almost never in the exact middle. The only time "objectivity" deserves those scare quotes is as a misleading synonym for neutrality. 

***

Donald Trump is what America gets for slapping bandaids on an infected wound and pretending it isn't there.

***

Russian-American Putinheads remind me of the German-American Bund.

***

Female Starfleet captains who aren't named "Janeway" have a mortality rate that would shock a redshirt

***

I've often heard people say "we should have just let the south secede." Oddly enough, it's mostly only white people that say that. 

***

Mountains fall before the power of hyperbole.

***

I have noticed that absentminded professors in fiction are always, always male.

***

I'm no good at being anything other than myself except when I translate literature. Translation is an escape from the nuisances of self.

***

If I were a woman posting the same shit I already do, I have no doubt people would be all "why are you so bitchy all the time?"

***

People who blame themselves for everything have an exaggerated sense of their own importance.

***

The notion of a "Western Construct" is also a western construct. Translation: fuck you too

***

The Bible is 100% accurate when thrown hard at close range

***

New rule: you can't call a country Marxist if its citizens aren't allowed to read Marx in uncensored form.

***

لو انا في غرفة وكل شخص فيها اسمه "طارق"، هو ده معناه انني في غرفة الطوارق؟

***

Political correctness is for white people so busy respecting other people's cultures that they forget to respect other people.

***

I thought about ceasing to be a surrealist, but then I went back to filling the bathtub with brightly colored power-tools

***

Since cellphones are becoming more and more waterproof, soon it will be okay to push people into swimming pools again

***

Sometimes conflicts arise because two parties misunderstand one another, and sometimes because they understand one another all too well.

***

The chance of being horribly misunderstood is directly proportional to the importance and gravity of whatever it is you're talking about.

***

There appears to be a mostly positive correlation between the stupidity of a language ideology and how smart its adherents believe themselves to be. 

***

Those who claim to judge others based on their intelligence typically have a very stupid idea of what intelligence actually is.

***

That what passes for the truth is often no such thing doesn't mean the search for truth is fruitless.

***

When a couple is having problems in a film, all it takes is a major catastrophe for them to fix all their marriage issues and be happy.

***

USA Today claims that Welsh is a “notoriously difficult” language. Difficult? Pshaw. I think Anglophones rate any language as “difficult” just for not being Spanish or French or German.

***

I avoid a lot of horror movies, because watching a teenage girl get dismembered alive is not my idea of a good time.

***

In the fight between oligarchic corporatism and authoritarian nationalism, the true losers are those who think one of them is the good guy.

***

Being highly educated does not make you particularly intelligent. People seem to have difficulty with this fact.

***

“Connery” c’est super rigolo comme nom.

***

Translation theory using cultural respect to avoid letting a work actually communicate is the most colonial of all.

***

Is there a parallel universe where people believe in Thor, and Yahweh is one of the Avengers?

***

Logical flaws are like farts. You don't mind your own, but someone else's can be really unpleasant when you pick up on them.

***

Cultural Identity is a chronic disease contracted through prologued contact with infected individuals, usually in childhood. Though seldom fatal, all humans, even the seemingly immune, should be considered carriers and potentially contagious. The only consistently effective treatment is for infected individuals to place themselves under quarantine and avoid all human contact for several years. However, symptoms will reappear upon resuming contact with infected persons. Another temporary, usually less effective remedy, is to exchange saliva with another sufferer of a different strain.

***

When people write that "purchasing sex to me is violence against women" what they're telling me is that they are either sadly confused about what Purchasing Sex is often really about, or that they have a definition of Violence Against Women that is so contorted as to be worse than useless.

***

Hypothesis: take any 100 Americans from my generation into a time machine and drop them off in an American city 30 or so years before their birth. Within one month, 10-30 of them will have killed themselves.

***

The fact that what passes for the truth is often nothing of the kind does not mean that the search for truth is fruitless. Rather, it means that such a search is all the more urgent.


***

We Americans have this cultural assumption that peace is the norm and war the exception. But that is only an assumption.

***

I notice that when people do not know how to do something, they tend to assume it is either far far easier or far far harder than it really is.

***

When the history of late 20th and early 21st century America is written, a large chapter will have to be devoted to how such a large swathe of the electorate remained so clueless about how corrupt their representatives really were, in the face of so much evidence. Members of my generation will find themselves having to explain ashamedly to their grandchildren what absolute fucking chumps they were.


***

"I am sick of all the fake shit being attributed to me on the internet"
-Albert Einstein

***

Blue percent of Americans have synesthesia.

***

The things that distant posterity remembers most vividly are usually the things that never really happened. Worshipful deification by posterity is the true Hell to which successful idol-smashers and blasphemers are often consigned after death.

***

Life isn't about money or power. It is about easily digestible platitudes which tell you what life is about.

***

Nostalgia is not a kind of remembrance. It is a form of forgetting in which the present overshadows the past so completely and the future so frightens us, that the only refuge is the delusion of remembrance: fabrication of a past that never existed, when we can't handle the truth that even good old days were pretty godawful too.

***

Behind much talk of challenging power inequality, and attempted criticism of power structures, there lies no coherent, rational and secure vision of a better world, but an incoherent, insecure and irrational obsession with power itself, not as a means to an end but as an end in itself, a state of being. The seductive idea of power obscuring all other considerations. Much of this bloviation about "empowerment" in many circles seems to both perpetuate and mask a continued Enslavement, to a retrograde idea of Power Itself.

***

I have noticed two things about the antagonists in videogames: they are so good as to never give the hero a second break, yet so incompetent as to be thwarted at every turn.

***

There are some languages where different word-order may be as unimportant as that between a sleeping man, and a man sleeping. There are others where it is as crucial as the difference between a venetian blind and a blind venetian.

***

I'm glad the forbidden fruit Adam consumed was an Apple. Just think how much more damned we would all be if even the Fruit of Knowledge were running Windows.

***

Plato, you're full of shit. There is no evil in this changeful material world. But the world of our immutable ideals is crawling with it.

***

Farcical reboots are more appropriate to current moment than gritty reboots. Often attempts at the latter are unwitting instances of the former.

***

When George Orwell died in 1950, he had at last achieved an international reputation, and was having to issue repeated disclaimers of the use the American Right was making of Nineteen Eighty-Four. One wishes he had lived just a little longer to give the American Right its due at full Orwellian blast.

***

Post-colonialists may be the most Eurocentric of them all. Inverted Eurocentrism is still Eurocentrism.

Good Morrow

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood,
A beautiful day for neighbors.
A neighborly day like in Hollywood.
It isn't like the papers.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood
Under an eye of blues
Though TV watches a man in black
With swastika tattoos,

And voices like smoke of burning wood
Rise to devilish heaven
On a beautiful day in the neighborhood
At nearly half past seven.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood
For a little blue-eye caper:
Please, I am just misunderstood.
Won't you be my neighbor?

Pope Pourri

Pope Francis is calling fake news satanic and saying that it goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

Oh please.

In an age when Israeli archaeologists have shown that the Jews were never slaves in Egypt and that Joshua’s conquests never happened, this is like watching Dane Cook making jokes about Carrot Top.

Not to beat a dead cliché, but I automatically suspect news to be fake if it involves talking snakes, magic fruit, virgin births and dead people coming back to life.

But then, the Vatican’s developmental timeline is a slow one. It took them until 1965 to decide that the news of Jewish Deicide was fake.