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dr. duran, or, dance party three-sixty . . . seven!

November 29th, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: Miss Kitten & the Hacker: First Album

In CMS 367: Rhetoric and Popular Music, we’ve been engaging material about the relation between music and space. We’ve been riffing lately on Henri Lefebvre’s distinctions among different types of spaces. For class, a “representation of space” is the idealized space of the status quo, serving those in power. A “space of representation” is a “real” space in which people do stuff, and this doing may or may not cohere with the representation of space (e.g., the representation of space of a music arena is seats, neatly rowed, facing the stage, inclusive of an imaginary scene of people behaving themselves and facing the front, and so on, while in the actual space of representation—especially at, say, a Dead show, few are doing that . . . rather, they’re making out, smoking dope, dancing in the aisles, and so on). Last week we discussed “scene” as harboring an odd tension between these two kinds of space. Today, we looked at the “club scene” and the practice of “clubbing” as a “sensual practice” involving atmosphere, tactility, mind-altering substances, beat-submission (as in, dancing to it), and escape via transgression (however illusory).

Anyhoo, so, today was a hoot because we had a CLASSROOM DANCE PARTY to illustrate their reading about the feeling of the beat, but also, how spaces of representation (of “representin'”) usually occur within representations of space that were opposed to the practices they harbor. Super-TAs Amber and Roger helped me unload the DJ rig into the classroom. We set the gear up, but didn’t turn anything on except for the DJ rig. I began lecture as normal, and worked through a number of musical examples to show how “dance music” evolved from James Brown and Kraftwerk (via Donna Summer). I traced the evolution of the beat from the 70s to the 90s, noting how beats got heavier and heavier as years passed. I demonstrated how all dance music lyrics pulsate around the beat.

I then discoursed on S&M and bondage, and how the practices were similar to dancing, and then dropped the new remix of Madonna’s “Hung Up” single. At that moment, as I was talking about the libidinal economy of the dance floor and the politics of submission, Amber and Roger cut the lights and turned on the disco ball and dance globe strobe . . . fog filled the front of the room . . . and students looked truly puzzled. Then, I announced that for their quiz grade today, they would have to dance a little, and they needed to come to the dance floor . . . fog got thicker, the beat got stronger . . . and we danced for the rest of the class period.

Some of the students came down, pretended to dance, and went back to their seats mortified. Others sat and watched, but soon, a goodly throng of gleeful students collected and danced in the front until the end of the period.

It was a total blast. Here is the complete photo-album of the event. I think earning a Ph.D. was worth this little moment of transgression. And, I think, the students will actually remember the reading for today.

We did get busted, however. Here’s one of the two complaints we received (I’ll note, however, that after I apologized we’re all friends now, with no paranoid delusions on either end!):

Dear Professor Gunn,
I work in the Dean’s Office in the College of Natural Sciences, located in WC Hogg. Unfortunately, we’ve had several complaints regarding the volume of the music in your T/Th classes. Specifically, one of the Associate Deans, who’s office is directly above the auditorium, has reported disruptions. Additionally, the lobby of the Dean’s Office is located just on the other side of the auditorium, and we’re having problems hearing each other and our callers. Your class sounds like a lot of fun (we all talk about sneaking down there to dance), but we’d really appreciate it if you could lower the volume of the music. Thank you so much.

S—-.
Administrative Associate
College of Natural Sciences


Next year I’ll warn them it’s coming, and then maybe, just maybe, they’ll join us.

I truly do enjoy teaching, and really appreciate that I get to teach what I want to teach. It is a shame that you can only do that in a college setting (my mind wanders to Ed Youngblood’s forced resignation for showing an R-rated movie) . . and it’s a shame that, increasingly, we’re having to self-censor. Let it be said that every song played in today’s sock-hop was the edited, radio-friendly version!

“how are you?”

November 27th, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: The Jazz Butcher: Fischotheque

. . . is that dreaded phrase from my lady therapist or my mother, but it means differently depending on the mouth of emission, though both are yoked in some strange imaginary I let seep in sleep. The telephone, also dreaded: “how are you?” My grandmother has fallen, again, and two days ago it was more than my mother said she could bear, although apparently it didn’t faze the matriarch, who sleeps soundly without pills. Unless she is a therapist, when a mother asks “how are you” she’s wanting you to ask. [11/28 edit: Granny is fine; she broke her arm but, as they say, she’s “a tough ol’ biddie” . . . they are at the doctor as I type.]

I just deleted a journaled rant about a rejection letter from The Quarterly Journal of Speech, because even I tire of my Charlie Brown routine (though I’ll gladly email it to you for any “mines bigger” contests). It was a mean letter, and I posted it here in full with my translations, but this morning I thought twice about taking up all that space, and then I decided I would just delete my wound-licking and email the “blind reviewer” directly, so I did to tell him he was a Blue Meanie, and he replied quickly: ” I would be honored to talk with you, although I’m not sure what more I can say about my reaction to the essay. My early work often provoked similar reactions . . . . Instead of hunting down the reviewers and chastising them for the ‘tone’ of their reviews, I learned to take the bad with the good, and perhaps to write with a bit more caution and humility.” What word comes to mind? Ah, yes, it is another mouth of emission, the paternal mouth, the womb of the manly-man.

Speaking of wombs, Madonna has hatched another gay-themed album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, although if you see the insert it would have been better titled, Contortions on a Dance Floor, as Madonna’s “spread” makes plain she is limber and easily impregnable. The music on the actual album is homologous: it’s aural candy that makes you want to, well, dance that sublimation out, if not crawl right back up into the Madonna’s womb (it feels, in other words, like a familiar “groove” to get into). The title track, “Hung Up,” is the best of the bunch, with a catchy, stand-up-for-yourself dumping song that stresses the futility of waiting for love’s severity. I can witness [sound of handclap]. This is supposed to be a “continuous mix” album, but each song is disappointingly discrete and sorta-half-ass moves from one song to another, so, therefore, it will be remixed into a remix album. I am just as anxious to see the photo insert on that one; will Madonna’s toned legs sprout from her forehead? Regardless, each beat is an emanation of Ein Soph . . . . ommmmm—ha!

Speaking of remixes and paternity, Nick and Jessica have officially split up. It ruined my Thanksgiving because I was imagining how sad Nick must be to have realized that beauty, like love, is not enough and no matter how strongly you believe that other men (and women) envy you, in the end you are a vicariousness machine. You are a function and you function for us because no one really wants a Jessica, they just want to believe that they want a Jessica and you, dear friend, get to sustain that fantasy (I’ve yet to meet any individual who would want to be a Jessica, neither). Now what, Charlie Brown?

“How are you doing?” It’s Sunday morning for Christ’s sake.

en loco idiota

November 22nd, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: The Today Show

The Latin and Greek rooting of “idiot” is idios, which means “own,” or “private.” Idiota thus originally referred to a “private person” or simply one who didn’t get out all that much. This is why the word evolved into, first, someone who was mentally handicapped (e.g., s/he could not get out side of him or herself, like being trapped inside one’s mind) and then, simply, someone who is ignorant or stupid. An idiot is literally a tragic fool–an individual who does stupid things because they limit themselves or simply haven’t been exposed to “the world at large.” Hence the title of Green Day’s fantastic come-back album, American Idiot, which not only refers to our Commander in Chief, but the way in which ignorance about the world at large leads to supporting state-sponsored violence.

In the airport on Sunday waiting to go home, I spoke to my mother and we talked about Ed Youngblood, a 62-year-old high school teacher who resigned after pressure from an idiotic school board. “I thought you would want to know,” said my mother, “since you always spoke so highly of him. Maybe you can write a letter.” I wept. Ed is one of my favorite high school teachers and first academic mentors. I had AP English with him as a senior at South Gwinnett High School back in 1991 and 1992. Since that time, Ed and I have stayed in touch, first by writing letters all through college (we both were into stamps), and later in grad school, via email. For many years in a row we drank beer together at Moody Blues concerts at Chastain Park. Until the last few years, I usually had a meal with Ed when I came home. Last holiday break we had lunch in 2002, he had just retired and opened an antiques business with his wife, also a retired teacher. After popular demand he was asked to return to South Gwinnett to teach a half-load of AP classes. He came back because he was so highly regarded as one of the few teachers who actually taught; it was common knowledge that Youngblood taught his classes like college, and that if you took one, you’d be prepared. I have to say along with my Latin teacher, Ed was the best teacher I had at South Gwinnett high school because he taught you how to think outside of the box–how to avoid idiocy.

Last Wednesday Ed was pressured to resign at South Gwinnett after a controversy involving the film Elizabeth, which he showed to his AP British Literature class. Apparently the film “shows nudity” (I don’t recall that–Elizabeth I was the Virgin Queen, right?–but I have not seen it since it came out in the theatre). Apparently the parents of a student got upset and raised a stink. Apparently Ed did not follow the proper procedure for getting the film “approved,” although Ed had taught for 37 years and never had a problem (he had shown this film before, too). The school board pressured him to resign, they claimed, not because the film is necessarily offensive, but because parents did not have the opportunity to extract their virgin-eyed brood from seeing powdered breasts.

There are so many things I could and want to say about this, but it really reduces to the righteousness of conservative idiocy. Since the ascent of evangelical Christianity to popular consciousness (it has always been there–but it was just beneath the surface in respect to mass awareness), those who would fiercely police the false divide between “public” and “private” have become increasingly righteous in respect to their right-to-idiocy (often defined in terms of “negative liberty,” except when it comes to prayer in school, teaching “intelligent design,” and other religious imperialist causes). On another blog a self-identified “conservative” said that the firing of Ed had more to do with “liberal pedagogy” and the righteous liberal push to “do away with grades” and remove power from teachers . . . which is ludicrous but, of course, reflects how closely the Righty-Right and Liberalism are aligned. Nevertheless, keeping in mind Ed taught college level classes in a high school setting, we could explain the success of these righteous parents in terms of their failure to recognize the purpose and function of an education in the humanities: to expose the student to the world of ideas, art, and science that exists outside the narrow confines of the private home. The resignation is symptomatic of what public high school has become: a glorified babysitter, idiocy incubator, and hormone containment system.

I feel bad for Ed, and for the students, parents, and especially teachers, who understood what he did and represents. And I worry that, having had parents call my principal and complain about, pretty much, the same thing (although it was my mouth, not imagery, that stirred the ire of college parents; see my post here), this trend is going to continue on up the line: the culture wars are alive with the sound of idiocy. Academic freedom is eroding. And the apocalyptic tone of the humanities continues . . . .

PS: The CEO/Superintendent of South Gwinnett’s High School district is J. Alvin Wilbanks (click name for webpage and writing address), and the phone number of the school board is 770-963-8651, should you want to call and write a letter. It is my understanding that the school admin itself largely supported Ed, and that it is the school board who pressured Ed to resign–you know, those elected officials who usually have never taught in a friggin’ classroom, the same sorts of people who think more aptitude testing “is the answer.”

PPS: An interesting story on junior faculty blogging, its potential threat to one’s tenure case, and the possibility of a “peer reviewed” blog (oh, give me a break!). The case is made that blogs are sometimes read as sucking time away from writing for more legitimated forms of publication; it should be mentioned that, since I amped up my blogging, I’ve spent much less time responding to email (viz., folks find out “how I’m doing” by reading this instead of sending a query).

the theory thing, or, perform or else!

November 20th, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: Fischerspooner: #1

I’m flying high above some place south of Boston on my way to Dallas. It’s a long flight, and eventually I’ll end up porting a DVD (it’s a choice between Spirited Away or Wild at Heart, but now that I think about it, this screen is huge and the Lynch film has some naughty bits; on my last flight from Atlanta I was watching the original Amityville Horror and my neighbor got nervous during the gratuitous sex scene, you know, the clichéd fucking that starts the fucking . . . though my neighbor didn’t flinch when the blood starting gushing from the stairwell, because she was down with those evangelical Christian family values). Ruth is in my row to my right, Michael is two rows back, and Trish is right behind me, but we’ve adopted the proper in-flight etiquette by isolating ourselves in self-absorbed bubbles of post-convention weariness.

While I loathe traveling, once I saw my friends I forgot about undisciplined toddlers and airplanes. I have never laughed harder at a NCA convention; apparently I’ve never appeared so relaxed. It was busy as hell and I had more meetings and panels than I could truly handle, but afternoons and evenings with friends in the bars were good for the soul.

The preconference was good but loooooooooooooong. If I had the time to do my reading I’d have had an easier time understanding what was at stake in some of the discussions; regardless, I did learn a lot. Parties were big and tiring after anything more than 20 minutes (and as the conservative “economic stimulus” packages continue to produce constipation, the number of parties with free booze continues to dwindle). As far as paneling goes, I have discovered how to make NCA tolerable, and its name is “performance studies.”

Speaking of performance, or better, Jon McKenzie’s invective and demand, “perform or else!–Trish passed up an interview with Jean Baudrillard in The New York Times Magazine. I read it to the sound of the filtersweeps of Fischerspooner’s “L.A. Song,” which I would recommend for reading any of Baudrillard’s more recent writings. The philosopher appears smirking, standing in un-pressed pants and a sport coat, looking at the camera with his eyes yet with is face coyly cocked to the left, his left hand lifted to the back of his neck. He is cute. In what is apparently an email exchange, the author function asks questions in boldface, and the responses are overly and obviously intended as predictable:

There are no more French intellectuals. What you are calling French intellectuals have been destroyed by the media. They talk on television. They talk to the press and they are no longer talking among themselves.

Were you a friend of Susan Sontag? We saw each other from time to time, but the last time, it was terrible. She came to a conference in Toronto and blasted me for having denied that reality exists.

Some here feel that the study of the humanities at our universities has been damaged by the incursion of deconstruction and other French theories. That was the gift of the French. They gave Americans a language they did not need. It was like the Statue of Liberty. Nobody needs French theory.


Baudrillard is deserving of the size of his name. (Ok, so, now the guy in front of me decides to recline his chair–as if two f%$#ing inches makes any discernable difference, asshole–and now my computer is closing, so I’ll have to resume this in Dallas or Austin).

Where was I? Oh yes, Baudrillard gave ’em what they wanted–he gave them much more, too. He is a good role model of how to fund your thinking for a living via branding. Of course, it’s important to underscore you don’t always have to be the brightest (there’s room for everybody, even people who study–how did that student put it who approached me at the Georgia State party–“weird stuff, like S&M, you know”), nor need you ever be clever when the institution that funds you is only interested in your brand. So smoke me, and I’ll dance a little, but I’ll only think aloud and laugh with friends at the bar or over dinner (or at a French café). As Sam Cooke would say, “that’s where it’s at”: no posturing, no too-hard-to-really-think-about-in-ten-minutes papers, no theory territory police with their pomo/post-o-meters, no realty-denier bashing. Nope, at the convention bar or in a taxi or at the airport Burger King it’s just, “Have you read that interview with Baudrillard in The New York Times Magazine?” How many times can you parody yourself parodying yourself before it stops being true?

alfonzo’s back: bloggin’ on the road

November 15th, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: Dunno, but it sounds like Art Blakey

I’m currently in my hotel room at the Hotel Boston Buckminster, which is only two cleaner pillowcases and a non-visibly-stained-with-body-fluids-comforter better than the brothel/flophouse I stayed in at a convention in Milwaukee many years back. It’s simply nasty. I would elaborate, but the more I think about how nasty it is the closer I get to throwing up my dinner of white bread and peanut butter. Let me just put it this way: I bought some gloves to wear because my hands get cold in anything lower than 50 degrees . . . and I’ve taken to wearing them in the room.

The flight was an admixture of reading Ernesto Laclau’s difficult prose and then listening to Robert Wyatt on my i-pod or the guy across the row from me who talked way too loud to the colleague next to him (less than 8 inches away–it is an airplane, mind you, but he all wanted us to know he traded stock or some bullshit; at least get some decent cufflinks if you’re going to talk that loud, fuckwad), and a very, very, undisciplined three year old who alternately screeched bloody murder for being disciplined, or squealed wildly in glee for not being disciplined. Fortunately, there was no turbulence and the calm demeanor of the two pilots sitting next to me for over three hours obviated the need to hit the flask.

[break; subway ride] I’m now at Trident Booksellers and Café, drinking the fanciest decaff coffee you’ve ever tasted, sitting at a “coffee bar.” To the right and left of the bar are seating areas, and behind me, a very very crammed bookstore. The scent of cumin is in the air; a young man with a burly beard that ages him ten years is to my left devouring a book titled South America; visibly gay men (in the sense of wearing way too tight clothing) behind me browse display tables with books titled, How to Iron Your Own Damn Shirt and 14,000 Things to Be Happy About; there’s an Art Blakey-ish, hard-bop cover of a Blondie tune on the sound system . . . no, wait, it’s transitioned to Rufus Wainwright on love; and I’m feeling lots of love for a bigger city at the moment.

I can see the cook in the back; he speaks Spanish but looks like a Eminem.

Well, I’m not doing very much conferencing. I have checked email and probably should head back to the hotel to finish one of my presentations for Friday. Oh, and two more things: the cashier here said that he has some stories about the Hotel Buckminster, and grinned, and said he couldn’t voice them at work but they involved prostitutes, who apparently frequent the Buckminster. Ok, so, this is just like Milwaukee, only a tad bit cleaner. Second, Alfonzo is back. Alfonzo is a recurring zit on my right cheek. I named him Alfonzo because I used to work for an Italian restaurant–my first job, actually–named Alfonzo’s. If you’re going to have a pizza face, I figured, you might as well name your recurring zits Alfonzo. Anyway, wouldn’t you figure: Alfonzo comes back the DAY BEFORE a conference, a place where people stare at you.

Dammit. I hate traveling. I hate conferences. But I love cafes like this, and I love seeing my friends.

get thee behind me

November 14th, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: George Harrison: Songs for Patti (The Mastertape Version)

In Fort Worth last Friday, Leonard Ray Owens, a 63 year old preacher and self-proclaimed prophet, was arrested for sexual assault after a woman filed charges that he raped her twice. According to the victim, Owens claimed that “she had a sex demon and a lesbian demon insider of her that needed to come out.” The preacher forcefully raped her during a series of so-called exorcisms during which Owens shouted “lose her in the name of Jesus.”

Of course, rape is often conducted in the name of Jesus, be it symbolic (e.g., the Middle East) or actual, and one needn’t push devotion too far to reveal its underbelly of abject rage. For years when I lived in Minneapolis, I used to go see Bob Larson exorcize demons during his “Freedom Forums” and rallies. Larson, perhaps the largest and most visible devotee of the Deliverance movement, symbolically rapes women every weekend (and when he exorcizes demons from men—which is very rare—its like watching a bar fight). You can witness one of Larson’s “exorcisms” on this website feed, no doubt inspired by the recent holiday on October 31. Note during the exorcism of the demon named “Hate,” Larson makes the woman go to her “point of pain,” which is the realization that her parents did not love her. Larson then becomes the absent father: both scolding and then loving, yelling at her, then embracing her with a calm voice.

Of course, this is how the violence of patriarchy works: discipline, then console. It’s always about power, of course, but the great sleight of rhetoric is that Mr. Phallus always tries to “cover up” his transgressions, with Jesus or any other surrogate of righteousness: “When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support,” said Bush. “While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.” They had a demon; they always had a demon, so we fucked ’em, and they secretly wanted it anyway.

stupidity supreme

November 12th, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: Gene Love Jezebel: Immigrant; and Fugazi End Hits

At this point, I’m not sure what else I can do to destroy my career, although I have a feeling this year’s slate of NCA panel performances will help toward that end. I’ve been working for some days (months, actually), on my piece for Ruth Bowman’s chaired panel, titled, ” Mens Sana in Corpore Sana.” The title of my piece is, “Supercolon (:) Kandoo!” For this presentation, I will play an audio piece while I hold up cardboard signs with messages on them.

Here are versions of the audio portions of my paper, which will be played on a boom box.

The FIRST audio clip is a blooper; I’ve had quite a hard time recording this thing because I start laughing and cannot get through the script.

Here’s the FIFTH audio clip, which is edited (to take out my giggles), and to which I’ll be flipping some cardboard messages (for example, in the part in which I say something about wiping the ass of a big name, I’ll hold up a super-sized photograph of Michael Bowman, which will be subtitled, “NCA’s Man-Thing”).

I’ve had a blast today putting this stuff together; gosh knows it will bomb in Boston. Do I care? Well, after two bourbon on the rocks . . . not really. See most of y’all who read this thing real soon like!

ass rockets, or, getting ready for an academic conference

November 9th, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: The Flaming Lips: Transmissions from the Satellite Heart

Well, hell: there’s a conference next week and I’ve only got two of four promised papers completed. You’ll note, too, that my bloggishness is proportional to my procrastination with “real” writing (that is, writing that counts toward tenure or loving). Anyhoot, left on my docket is a “performance” titled “Supercolon (:) Kandoo!” in which I an supposed to be an organologist diagnosing the “health” of the discipline from its product: (bull)shit. Also need to respond to a few pretty decent papers. Anyhoo, all this production reminded me of a video shappy sent, wherein a kid is supposed to shoot a bottle rocket out of his ass (requires wmp), but something goes horribly wrong (note: not work safe!). And on the same video-tip, Trish sent along a preview of a video of last years “repetition panel.” For this years repetition panel (on in which we present the same papers that we presented last year and the year before, with the same inane gestures and water drinking), titled, “Healthy Discipline: Moving Back, Looking Forward, and Reaching Around: Repetition, Yet Again: Two Years Later,” this video will be projected behind us (requires quicktime), sans the music (thought you have to love the shitty sound of “give it away!”). This is turning out to be a pretty shitty conference, but, as everyone knows, I think shit and fart jokes are funny (and look for TPQ next January for my manifesto on academic shit, “ShitText!”).

the emanations of Ein Sof

November 8th, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: Sarah McLachlan: Mirrorball

The kabbalah, a much discussed “religion” in the popular press these past few years, is a contemplative belief system better characterized as the way of the mystic than as a coherent “religion.” Certainly it has a long history and it symbolism is inseparable from Jewish traditions, but as this “way” has evolved in the past two centuries it has generated a number of “off shoots,” many of which claim to participate in “the” kabbalah. Among Jewish mystics, there is some disagreement about what constitutes “the” kabbalah: some die hards insist only the morally pure, married, post-forty year old male set could properly study its teachings (married? You may ask? Yes, married: heterosexual union is one of the many divine reflections of Ein Sof, the godhead). Others believe anyone can access the truth and learn to avoid dividing divinity and have opened pricey “centers” where, for a fee, you participate in becoming increasingly aware of the emanations and the negations thereof, the sefirot.

If you look in any “New Age” teaching, including that of Scientology, you will find signs of the kabbalah and Hermeticism: “As above, so below.” It’s all over the place in Masonic literature (and I’m always amused by the way in which the “old timers” reared on evangelical Christian beliefs completely ignore it). This is because, ultimately, the kabbalah is a technique of thought, not so much a series of rituals. I learned about the teaching via the Greek Qabalah, which is a very “white guy European” version of the Jewish practice, originating in secret societies like the Golden Dawn and the O.T.O. Based on what little I know, studying the kabbalah is akin to dialectical thought, and reminds me of Hegelian sublation. Regardless, my point is that once you get beyond the inevitable politics of inclusion and exclusion, the teaching of the kabbalah is the opposite of the teaching of property: regardless of understanding, you cannot claim to “know” the kabbalah. If you claim knowledge than, strictly speaking, you have subjected Ein Sof to dualism (e.g., that there are those who know and those who do not; the irony here is moving beyond this basic negation is one of the first rules of Ein-club).

That said, Madonna’s public embrace of the Kabbalah she learns from a high-priced boutiques has amused me for years. Her recent retreat into family and children is not merely that, “oh shit, I’m getting old” biology kicking in, but also a reflection of the values at the center of the more Jewish understanding of kabbalah. The classist assumptions behind the embrace of a mystical tradition thought to be older and more “profound” than mainstream religious practice include the idea that the life of the privileged and wealthy are somehow more soulless than the lives of the rest of us (and if you go by Hollywood’s recent trend, elder black Americans are closer to god because, of course, they are poor and have lived a harder life). The appeal of Scientology is that it tells you that you are special (it’s uber-individualism with some Aliens). The appeal of the kabbalah, at least in terms of the stylin’ of the Ein Soph, is that it claims to be the great equalizer through contemplation (in this sense, its almost interchangeable with the flashy Buddhism of California’s elite>

Yesterday Madonna criticized Paris Hilton because my favorite lazy-eye nudie has been spotted purchasing kabbalah string and apparently talking about its study. “People like Paris Hilton come into a centre and buy a book or a band and that’s it for them. It doesn’t mean they study it,” said Madonna on a BBC radio program. “It’s very hard to be a believer. I’m very serious about it.” Now one realizes that the emphasis on “very” is code for depth of thought, or intelligence. Madonna basically said the kabbalah is not for stupid people, and Paris Hilton is stupid. Be that as it may, Madonna betrays more about her brand of mystical contemplation here than, of course, she is willing to realize: pot, kettle, black. Apparently it’s not just our political leaders who engage in spiritual warfare. Fortunately, Madonna will not be responsible for killing over 2000 troops for calling Paris Hilton “stupid.” There is no substantive “evil” in the kabbalah, since Ein Soph is one. There is only distance from the Divine.

Holding a hamburger half-nude or licking the lips of a same-sex hottie is closer to God than George W. Bush will ever be. If there is a God. And I’m pretty sure that if = there is, he’s all about hamburgers and Hilton and not oil and government contracts and . . .

Addendum: Post Paroxysm, or, the Aberrations of Mourning, with Regards to Larry

Neil Diamond’s new album, 12 Songs came out today, and the first single, “I’m On to You,” is fucking brilliant with vibes. Rick Rubin is steering this particular ship; you’ll recall he worked Johnny Cash back to genius-style songcraft, even as the man was dying. This album will win much praise (and it resonnates with my week; Madaonna’s new disco throwback, not so much).

. . . the invisible worm

November 6th, 2005 by Bolibuckness

Music: Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks

If you were ever a fan of Coil, then you know.

This morning it is in the 80s and warm, and it was hard to sleep-in because of the heat. The forecast is that we will be pushing the 90s. Outside one can hear the unusual hum of air-conditioning fans . . . in November. My neighbors Glenda and Marsha are in their robes, drinking coffee, reading the paper in their living rooms; I just read mine, and was amused by a story on Tom Delay’s mug shot, and there is rioting in Paris, and Glade has discontinued their “wisp” fragrance machine that I like so much, and my neighbor Vicki just called and invited me over for chicken and dumplings tonight and to watch the debate with her and Marsha on The West Wing, because I’m a socialist and good company for watching television.

In the patio, the roses continue to splode, and more buds have arrived, and the weather has confused the plants, and the cold snap a few weeks back killed the beetles and bugs, and so the roses continue to come with a kind of quiet jubilance, as if there is no end to a secret life somewhere I cannot see (the “secret powers” conspire, Hume mused), sometimes as if to cheer, sometimes as if to mock.

One of the bushes only produces one flower at a time. It begins as a white rose with red edges, and as the flower continues to open, the petals get redder and redder [edit: check the previous post; the flower to the right is the same “white” rose I posted a picture of on Friday!]. And just when the flower seems saturated, it falls apart.

I was thinking last night, well, dreaming, and struck by how much cliché can achieve a grave depth that bruises my cynicism. I remember at a conference some years back, I was in the mountains out West, and I had a hard time breathing, and there were little yellow flowers outside the hotel window, and I was noticing the flowers and I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, and there was a story about Ray Charles on the television, and he was talking about allegory and metaphor (and I remember thinking it was really about substitution–metonymy, you know) and the authenticity of indirection, and I was tearing, and my roommate started laughing at the television program. “Oh how sappy,” she laughed. “How can you watch this?” And I knew she didn’t know I was moved at that moment (and would have been embarrassed if she knew), so I said she could change the station, and I was called to my duty to be the vigilant cynic and debunker of bromides and the natural, because there is a worm in everything, an invisible worm . . . .