Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac
Sometime after two, I sleep, and as I sleep, I dream. The dream is one I have never suffered before. I dream that I rise slowly through the datumplane, through the datasphere, into and through the megasphere, and finally into a place I do not know, have never dreamt of … a place of infinite spaces, unhurried, indescribable colors, a place with no horizons, no ceilings, no floors or solid areas one might call the ground. I think of it as the metasphere, for I sense immediately that this level of consensual reality includes all of the varieties and vagaries of sensation which I have experienced on Earth, all of the binary analyses and intellectual pleasures I have felt flowing from the TechnoCore through the datasphere, and, above all, a sense of … of what? Expansiveness? Freedom?—potential might be the word I am hunting for. I am alone in this metasphere. Colors flow above me, under me, through me … sometimes dissolving into vague pastels, sometimes coalescing into cloudlike fantasies, and at other times, rarely, appearing to form into more solid objects, shapes, distinct forms which may or may not be humanoid in appearance—Í watch them the way a child might watch clouds and imagine elephants, crocodiles from the Nile, and great gunboats marching from west to east on a spring day in the Lake District.
The Fall of Hyperion (Dan Simmons)
- Highlight Loc. 6959-68 | Added on Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 07:17 PM
This passage is taken from the introduction to Chris Hedges latest book “The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.” The book is a compilation of his essays from the last few years that have largely been ignored by the mainstream media. It allows a sort of honest and alarming clarity to settle over the “big picture.”
“My former employer, the New York Times, with some of the most able and talented journalists and editors in the country, not only propagated the lies used to justify the war in Iraq, but also never saw the financial meltdown coming. These journalists and editors are besotted with their access to the powerful. They look at themselves as players, part of the inside elite. They went to the same elite colleges. They eat at the same restaurants. They go to the same parties and dinners. They live in the same exclusive neighborhoods. Their children go to the same schools. They are, if one concedes that propaganda is a vital tool for the power elite, important to the system. Journalists who should have been exposing the lies used to justify the Iraq war or reporting from low-income neighborhoods—where mortgage brokers and banks were filing fraudulent loan applications to hand money to people they knew could never pay it back—were instead “doing” lunch with the power brokers in the White House or on Wall Street. All that talent, all that money, all that expertise, all those resources proved useless when it came time to examine the two major cataclysmic events of our age. And all that news, however objective and balanced, turned out to be a lie.
I have never sought to be objective. How can you be objective about death squads in El Salvador, massacres in Iraq, or Serbian sniper fire that gunned down unarmed civilians, including children, in Sarajevo? How can you be neutral about the masters and profiteers of war who lie and dissemble to hide the crimes they commit and the profits they make? How can you be objective about human pain? And, finally, how can you be objective about those responsible for this suffering? I am not neutral about rape, torture, or murder. I am not neutral about rapists, torturers, or murderers. I am not neutral about George W. Bush or Barack Obama, who under international law are war criminals. And if you had to see the butchery of war up close, as I did for nearly two decades, you would not be neutral either.
But in the game of American journalism it is forbidden to feel. Journalists are told they must be clinical observers who interpret human reality through their eyes, not their hearts—and certainly not through their consciences. This is the deadly disease of American journalism. And it is the reason journalism in the United States has lost its moral core and its influence. It is the reason that in a time of crisis the traditional media have so little to say. It is why the traditional media are distrusted. The gross moral and professional failings of the traditional media opened the door for the hate-mongers on Fox News and the news celebrities on commercial networks who fill our heads with trivia and celebrity gossip.
As the centers of American power were seized and hijacked by corporations, the media continued to pay deference to systems of power that could no longer be considered honest or democratic. The media treat criminals on Wall Street as responsible members of the ruling class. They treat the criminals in the White House and the Pentagon as statesmen. The media never responded to the radical reconfiguration of American politics, the slow-motion coup d’etat that has turned phrases like the consent of the governed into a cruel joke. And because the media are not concerned with distinguishing truth from news, because they lack a moral compass, they have become nothing more than courtiers to the elite, shameless hedonists of power, and absurd court propagandists.
At a moment when the country desperately needs vigorous media, it gets celebrities such as Katie Couric masquerading as journalists, who night after night “feel your pain.” The few journalists who do not, as Couric does, function as entertainers and celebrities are so timid and removed from the suffering of our dispossessed working classes that they are rightly despised. The media are hated for a reason. They deserve to be hated. They sided with the corporate forces, like most liberal institutions, as these corporate forces decimated the working class, bankrupted the economy, corrupted the legislative, executive, and judicial systems of government, and unleashed endless war and the destruction of the ecosystem on which human life depends.
I keep my distance from the powerful. I distrust all sources of power regardless of their ideological orientation. I do not want to be their friend. I do not want to advise them or be part of their inner circle. The only benefit one gets from being a White House correspondent, as far as I can tell, is that the president knows your name. I made a conscious choice to report from the developing world and war zones during most of my career. What I witnessed rarely matched the version of events spun out for the media courtiers in Washington by the power elite. As a foreign correspondent I often fought my own Washington bureau, where reporters in suits were being fed a partial version of reality and had a vested interest in reporting it as fact. The longer reporters spent in Washington, the more they looked, sounded, and acted like the power brokers they covered. At a certain point, as any Sunday morning television talk show illustrates, these courtiers in the media became indistinguishable from the power elite.
Kinzer was right. Once unleashed from the restrictions and confines of American journalism, I began to write what are, in essence, sermons. And when I read the columns collected in this book, that is how I would describe them. Sermons, when they are good, do not please a congregation. They do not make people happy. They are not a form of entertainment. They disturb many, if not most, of the listeners. They resonate with only a minority. Truth, at least as far as it can be discerned, is not comfortable or enjoyable to listen to, nor is the emotion and anger that accompanies all passionate assaults on lies and injustice. Sermons force those who hear them to be self-critical. They expose our inadequacies and failures. They demand that we become emotionally engaged. There are speakers and writers on the left and the right, including many preachers in pulpits, whose goal is to be admired and applauded. This is not my aim. It is not pleasant to be disliked—and I have faced crowds that deeply dislike me and my message—but it is necessary if your commitment is to truth and the harnessing of emotional energy and passion against those who carry out injustice. I write not with the anticipation of approval but often of hostility. And I write finally from the gut, not the head.
“The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions—racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war—which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action,” Orwell noted.
The role of a preacher is not to provide self-help manuals for the future. It is to elucidate reality and get people to act on this reality. It is impossible to speak about hope if we substitute illusion for reality. If we believe that reality is not an impediment to our desires, that we can have everything we want by tapping into our inner strength or believing in Jesus, if we believe that the fate of the human species is neverending advancement and progress, then we are crippled as agents for change. We are left responding to illusion. This makes everything we do or believe, such as our faith in the Democratic Party or electoral politics, futile and useless.
The bleakness of what we face, economically and environmentally, is not a call to despair but a call to new forms of resistance and civil disobedience. I am not religious in a traditional sense. There is no Christian denomination that would consider me a believer. I am as alienated from religious institutions as I am from secular institutions. But I was raised in the church, graduated from seminary at Harvard Divinity School, and cannot escape my intellectual and moral formation. I remain a preacher, although an unorthodox one. I believe that the truth is the only force that will set us free. I have hope, not in the tangible or in what I can personally accomplish, but in the faith that battling evil, cruelty, and injustice allows us to retain our identity, a sense of meaning and ultimately our freedom. Perhaps in our lifetimes we will not succeed. Perhaps things will only get worse. But this does not invalidate our efforts.
Rebellion—which is different from revolution because it is perpetual alienation from power rather than the replacement of one power system with another—should be our natural state. And faith, for me, is a belief that rebellion is always worth it, even if all outward signs point to our lives and struggles as penultimate failures. We are saved not by what we can do or accomplish but by our fealty to revolt, our steadfastness to the weak, the poor, the marginalized, and those who endure oppression. We must stand with them against the powerful. If we remain true to these moral imperatives, we win. And I am enough of an idealist to believe that the struggle to live the moral life is worth it.
During the first Persian Gulf War, when I defied the media restrictions and was in the Saudi and later Kuwait desert to cover the fighting, I was accosted one afternoon by R.W. Apple, who was overseeing the coverage for the New York Times.
“What is it about you and authority?” he asked.
“I have no problem with authority, Johnny, as long as authority doesn’t try and tell me what to do,” I answered.
“You dumb fuck,” he said. “That is what authority does.”
The Modern Lovers - Girlfriend (1976)
Like the Beatles, so much has been said about the Modern Lovers and Jonathan Richman that it’s hard to really appreciate how much of an effect they’ve had on modern music. It’s still pretty crazy when you do, though - when you put on the Modern Lovers album and it still sounds fresh, despite being released almost 35 years ago now. The influence of “Roadrunner” on punk has been widely discussed (or, uh, at least extensively discussed by Greil Marcus, man), but you can hear precursors of everything from indie-pop to emo in the details or gestalt of the Modern Lovers album. There’s the overall romanticism, the young-kid tendency to simultaneously idolize and demonize women (which Richman himself disavowed later in his career), the insistent weirdness of “Pablo Picasso.” And then there’s “Girl Friend,” with that wonderful chorus:
That’s a girl - friend
That’s a G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N
That’s a girlfriend, baby
It’s hilarious - that is how pop singers pronounce “girlfriend!” - and it’s no accident that Art Brut’s Eddie Argos built a song around a reference to that joke. There’s something about this song that takes the nerd view of the world and makes it seem unutterably cool. That joke is simultaneously dumb and knowing, sincere and sarcastic. The way the song musically embraces an outdated form is key too. It shows how nerds can use their otherwise-worthless body of cultural knowledge to pluck out an old way of expressing a sincere emotion, free of the taint of modern society. (“Old World” and all that.) In songs like this, Jonathan Richman invented a way to turn all the distancing techniques that mass-cult nerds have built up into a vehicle for romantic expression, and the value of that shouldn’t be underappreciated. The yearning here is real but knowing, self-conscious but seeking a way around it. The world disappoints us, but we still believe we can find a part of it worth understanding.
“Continuing the chain of imaginary offensiveness to stereotypes, I plan to open a Babies-R-Us next to the gay bar next to the mosque next to Ground Zero. Next to the Babies-R-Us I will open a pornographic bookstore, and next to that I will open a police station. Next to the police station I will open a hip-hop recording studio, and next to that I will open an Applebees. Next to the Applebees I will open a TGI Fridays (those guys HATE each other) and next to the TGI Fridays I will open a methodone clinic. Next to the methodone clinic I will open a crack house, and finally, next to that, I will open a Catholic church adjoining a daycare center for attractive boys, adjacent to which i will just blow up whatever’s there so I can erect a memorial, and next to that memorial I will open a community center dedicated to a locally inconvenient ethnicity that I hired to blow up the original structure on the memorial site. Next to that I’m just going to put some condos.” - Chris Mohney.
These badass slowdives are helping me write my thesis. Muchos recommendez.
Mr. Games is tired of Soundcloud causing problems for his listeners.
Download the HCW Mixtapes (I, II, III) by clicking on these links…
Just a reminder…
 It turned out that there was something terribly stressful about visual telephone interfaces that hadn’t been stressful at all about voice-only interfaces. Videophone consumers seemed suddenly to realize that they’d been subject to an insidious but wholly marvelous delusion about conventional voice-only telephony. They’d never noticed it before, the delusion—it’s like it was so emotionally complex that it could be countenanced only in the context of its loss. Good old traditional audio-only phone conversations allowed you to presume that the person on the other end was paying complete attention to you while also permitting you not to have to pay anything even close to complete attention to her. A traditional aural-only conversation—utilizing a hand-held phone whose earpiece contained only 6 little pinholes but whose mouthpiece (rather significantly, it later seemed) contained (62) or 36 little pinholes—let you enter a kind of highway-hypnotic semi-attentive fugue: while conversing, you could look around the room, doodle, fine-groom, peel tiny bits of dead skin away from your cuticles, compose phone-pad haiku, stir things on the stove; you could even carry on a whole separate additional sign-language-and-exaggerated-facial-expression type of conversation with people right there in the room with you, all while seeming to be right there attending closely to the voice on the phone. And yet—and this was the retrospectively marvelous part—even as you were dividing your attention between the phone call and all sorts of other idle little fuguelike activities, you were somehow never haunted by the suspicion that they person on the other end’s attention might be similarly divided. During a traditional call, e.g., as you let’s say performed a close tactile blemish-scan of your chin, you were in no way oppressed by the thought that your phonemate was perhaps also devoting a good percentage of her attention to a close tactile blemish-scan. It was an illusion and the illusion was aural and aurally supported: the phone-line’s other end’s voice was dense, tightly compressed, and vectored right into your ear, enabling you to imagine that the voice’s owner’s attention was similarly compressed and focused … even though your own attention was not, was the thing. This bilateral illusion of unilateral attention was almost infinitilely gratifying from an emotional standpoint: you got to believe you were receiving somebody’s complete attention without having to return it. Regarded with the objectivity of hindsight, the illusion appears arational, almost literally fantastic: it would be like being able both to lie and to trust other people at the same time.
Video telephony rendered the fantasy insupportable. Callers now found they had to compose the same sort of earnest, slightly overintense listener’s expression they had to compose for in-person exchanges. Those callers who out of unconscious habit succumbed to fuguelike doodling or pants-crease-adjustment now came off looking rude, absentminded, or childishly self-absorbed. Callers who even more unconsciously blemish-scanned or nostril-explored looked up to find horrified expressions on the video-faces at the other end. All of which resulted in videophonic stress.
Even worse, of course, was the traumatic expulsion-from-Eden feeling of looking up from tracing your thumb’s outline on the Reminder Pad or adjusting the old Unit’s angle of repose in your shorts and actually seeing your videophonic interfacee idly strip a shoelace of its gumlet as she talked to you, and suddenly realizing your whole infantile fantasy of commanding your partner’s attention while you yourself got to fugue-doodle and make little genital-adjustments was deluded and insupportable and that you were actually commanding not one bit more attention than you were paying, here. The whole attention business was monstrously stressful, video callers found.
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