Archive for April, 2012

Marxist Humanist Meeting - Reinterpreting Marx’s Hegel.

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Today I went to a talk on Hegel and Marx given by Norman Levine a retired professor. Here is the blurb about him from Left Forum:

“Prof. Norman Levine published six books and 36 article in scholarly journals. His latest book, MARX’S DISCOURSE WITH HEGEL, will be published by Macmillan Palgrave in Jan. 2012. Prof. Levine holds the position of Visiting Professor at the University of Wuhan, China, and will lecture there during the first semester of 2012.”

Sponsored by the West Coast Marxist Humanists, the description below is from their posting about the event:

“The Marx-Hegel Relationship

Norman Levine’s presentation will cover: (1) system and method in Hegel; (2) the contemporary reinterpretation of Hegel starting with Lukács and Marcuse; (3) Marx’s rejection of the Hegelian system, but his acceptance of the Hegelian method; (4) Marx’s adoption of the Hegelian concepts of subjectivity and labor in the 1844 Manuscripts; (4) Marx’s misreading of Hegel, the parts of Hegel’s writings that Marx overlooked, and those parts of Hegel that were not published during Marx’s lifetime; (5) the Hegelian methodologies that Marx adopted and used in his new political economy. Kevin Anderson will give a brief overview of the Hegel-Marx relationship and respond to Levine’s presentation.”
http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/events/marxhegel-relationship/

About 10 people showed up. Most of them seem to have been Marxists of one sort or another. I was the only anarchist. There were two Iranians, and the rest were Anglo’s. Mostly men spoke, the one Iranian woman spoke also. Levine lectured about Hegel and Marx, noting that many of the early writings of Hegel were not available to Marx and were not made available until the 1920’s. This led Marx to misread Hegel, not giving enough weight to Hegel’s materialism, just as Marx has been distorted to be considered simply a materialist. Rather there was idealism in Marx and materialism in Hegel according to Levine. Levine blames Engels to some extent.
Levine spoke for an hour or so, Anderson spoke for another half an hour and others commented. Of special note were the comments of Frieda Afary, an Iranian blogger and academic. She blogs at “Iranian Progressives in Translation” and seems to have read Hegel fairly extensively. She thought that the chapter on the “Absolute Idea” in Science in Logic by Hegel was a good summary of his positions.
The term Dialectical Materialism is not a Marx term but one of Engels and other later Marxists, and Hegel never said the phrase thesis-antithesis-synthesis, according to both Anderson and Levine. This is a misinterpretation of negation of negation.
There was much talk of the concept of “Negation of Negation”, as Anderson wrote it is a three step process,
“one - the moving, generating force in the dialectic,
two – merciless destroyer of the old (first negation)
three- creator of the new (second or absolute negation)”
Anderson made the point that the left was not going past the first negation with the slogan of being anti-capitalist, what is needed is the second step replacement with a new reality. This is what is missing, a plan that is workable from a Marxist perspective.
Levine made the point that Marx rejected the Hegelian system of idealism but utilized the Hegelian forms and much of the methodology, such as the theory of labor.
In Hegel the mind of man labors, in Marx human labor is the primary force but it is economic processes not the mind as Levine states.
Levine says that because of missing the early Hegel, and some of the published Hegel in his own time, Marx missed some of the materialism and real world concerns of Hegel. He misinterpreted Hegel calling him a “Logical Pantheist”, where Levine utilizing the research of Georg Lukács claims that Hegel was much more of a materialist.

In John Rees article “Engel’s Marxism” we find this argument presented by Geroge Lichtheim:

“For Marx, Lichtheim claims, ‘the only nature relevant to the understanding of history was human nature.’ Engels therefore broke with Marx when he argued that ‘historical evolution is an aspect of general (natural) evolution and basically subject to the same “laws”. This meant that Engels had appropriated Hegel’s heritage quite differently to Marx. Marx had taken from Hegel the importance of self conscious activity in the making of history. In contrast ‘what really fascinates’ Engels ‘is Hegel’s determinism: his ability to make it appear that nature (and history) follow a pre-ordained course’. Such a drastic recasting of Marxism inevitably had political consequences:

…determinism in thought making for dogmatism in action. The cast-iron certainty which Engels imported into Marxist thinking found its counterpart at the political level in an unshakable conviction that the stars in their courses were promoting the victory of socialism.

Consequently, Engels, Kautsky–the leading thinker of the Second International–’and the orthodox school in general’ transformed Marxism ‘from the vision of a unique breakthrough into a doctrine of a casually determined process analogous to the scheme of Darwinian evolution’.”

Rees then goes on to quote Levine from his “The Tragic Deception, Marx contra Engels”, with a critical eye to the supposed split:

“The most remarkable aspect of the view that there was a fundamental divergence between Marx’s theory and Engels’ thought is that it ignores the evidence of their lifelong partnership. Some considerable intellectual contortion is necessary to overcome the elementary biographical facts of Marx and Engels’ lives. For Terrell Carver ‘the intellectual relationship between the two living men, however, was very much the story of what they accomplished independently’. These accomplishments ‘were by no means theoretically coincident’. After Marx’s death ‘Engels moved into an all-powerful role’ in which he ‘invented dialectics and reconstructed Marx’s life and works accordingly’. Nor is Carver alone in this kind of assertion. It is common coin among Engels’ critics to insist that he codified Marxism as a rigid dialectical philosophy either without Marx’s explicit approval or after his death. Norman Levine argues:

The height of Engels’ career corresponded with the termination of Marx’s life. It is, therefore, entirely consistent that five of Engels’ major works were published in the years closely preceding Marx’s death, or after the termination of Marx’s life. Anti-Dühring appeared in 1878, Socialism: Scientific and Utopian [sic] in 1882, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State in 1884, and Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy in 1888. The Dialectics of Nature was first published in 1927 by Riazanov, although the manuscript itself appears to have been completed by 1882.’”

Rees then goes on to refute the arguments of Levine and others in more detail.

“The first and most striking point about Marx and Engels’ relationship is the strength of the foundations on which it rested. In the 1840s both men arrived at what would later be known as the historical materialist view of the world. But it is by no means the case that Engels simply followed where Marx led. On the vitally important strategic question of the attitude which the pair took to the trade unions it was Engels who blazed the trail. And the entire content of Marx and Engels’ joint work, The Communist Manifesto, was first outlined by Engels alone in Principles of Communism.

Having arrived at a common outlook, Marx and Engels jointly authored two key works which elaborated their views, The Holy Family and The German Ideology. They struggled together to win the organisation they were both involved in, the League of the Just, to their ideas, transforming it into the Communist League. The Communist Manifesto was issued in its name. They went on to fight together in the 1848 revolutions–in Engels’ case literally revolver in hand, on the barricades. This then was the foundation of Marx and Engels’ partnership, forged by intense, common intellectual and practical, political work.”

http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj65/rees.

There are others who would refute that there was any split between Marx and Engels as in this article by Alvin Gouldner:

“The caricature of Engels as the first revisionist and of his work as a haute vulgarisation of Marx is not new but began to emerge during and shortly after World War I. One finds it in Erwin Bans, “Engels als Theoretiker,” in the issue of Kommunismus, 3 December 1920, a journal that Georg Lukacs edited for a while after World War I. Even before, it may be found in Rudolfo Mondolfo’s Le Materialisme Historique d’apres F. Engels, published in Paris in 1917.

The most competent contemporary source of that view is George Lichtheim’s learned Marxism, which holds that “socialism, as understood by Engels and those who followed in his lead, was above all scientific. . . . Engels’s later writings, especially Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, are a veritable compendium of the new positivist world-view. . . . Marx gradually came to adopt a standpoint which in some respects resembled the scientism of the age, but he never quite yielded to the temptation to recast his doctrine altogether in evolutionary-materialist terms; Engels had no such inhibition.’”

From Alvin W. Gouldner, The Two Marxisms. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980, Chapter 9 - “Engels Against Marx? Marxism as Property” pp. 250-286.

http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/dss/Marx/ch9.htm

Attempts to revitalize the humanist tradition in Marxism by bringing up the Hegelian connection is interesting but I fail to see how what Marx did not read of Hegel, and thus leading to a misinterpretation of Hegel, has to do with the ultimate development of Marxism. Levine acknowledges that Marx was not a Hegel scholar although he was part of the Berlin group of Young Hegelians as a student as Coser states in this extract at Bolender.com:

“Hegel was already dead when Marx entered the University of Berlin, but his spirit still dominated it fully. And Marx, after but a short period of resistance, surrendered to that spirit.

His teachers at the faculty of law, Savigny in jurisprudence and Gans in criminal law, exerted some influence over the young Marx. Savigny, the founder of the Historical School of Jurisprudence, impressed him with his historical erudition and his power of argumentation. Gans taught him methods of theoretical criticism in the light of philosophy of history. But it was not these older Hegelians or near-Hegelians who converted the young man to his new vision; it was a group of near-contemporaries, the Young Hegelians. These young philosophers had formed a little band of heretics who, though in many respects beholden to the master, had moved away from his teachings. Through them Marx was initiated into the Hegelian world system at the same time as he became a member of a group of iconoclasts who irreverently began to raise awkward and critical questions about major parts of the great man’s synthesis.

The informal Doktorklub, of which Marx now became a member, was comprised of young marginal academics–a radical, somewhat antireligious, and more than slightly bohemian lot. Outstanding among them were the brothers Bruno and Edgar Bauer, both radical and freethinking Hegelians of the Left, and Max Stirner, the later proponent of ultra-individualistic anarchism. Under the influence of these men Marx abandoned law and resolved to devote himself to philosophy. He also became a “man-about-town,” frequenting the advanced salons of the capital, as well as the beer cellars, where the Young Hegelians debated for hours on end the fine points of Hegelian doctrine.”

http://www.bolenderinitiatives.com/sociology/karl-marx-1818-1883/karl-marx-marx-becomes-young-hegelian

This is from A-Z of Socialism article by Paul Blackledge, July 2009 Socialist Review:

“Whatever the substantive differences among the Young Hegelians, they agreed that radical ideas were key to changing the world. This diverged from Hegel’s insistence that any social transformation must be rooted in underlying changes in the way people lived.

From this perspective it was as absurd to try to extend freedom beyond the limits of bourgeois egoism by abstract moral injunctions as it was to hope that lions might lie down with lambs. Rather, the expansion of freedom was dependent upon the prior emergence of forms of practice pointing to different ways of life.

Ironically, this Hegelian thesis informed Marx’s break with the Young Hegelians. Opening with a criticism of their abstract politics his argument culminated in the claim that the emergent workers’ movement, dismissed by them as irrelevant, pointed to a real deepening of the idea of freedom.

He suggested that, for workers, socialism was not a good (Feuerbach) or bad (Stirner) moral doctrine, but was the ideological moment of an emerging way of life within which solidarity came to be desired because it had become a real need.

From this standpoint neither biblical fundamentalism (Strauss) nor religion more generally (Bauer) were key social problems. Rather they were symptoms of deeper issues, and Marx insisted that the struggle for freedom should shift its focus to these causes.

Thus, against the pseudo-revolutionary posturing of the Young Hegelians, he argued that in the modern world a really revolutionary ideology is one which reflects and speaks to the actual movement of workers for freedom.”

http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=10900

I am no Marxist, hardly even an Anarchist at this point, but I find Levine and others who are attempting to redefine Marx for their own purposes, although interesting, perhaps unnecessarily leading us down another garden path to another abstract rosy future. I was listening to Kevin Anderson speak after Levine spoke, he had an almost messianic tone in his voice as he spoke of the work, the endeavor to tear down the walls of Stalinism, that now are claimed to be the result of a misinterpretation or deliberate transformation on the part of Engels. I am not sure I buy the argument. Stalinism, the mistakes of Lenin and others were the result of a certain overreach as far as I can tell. But I am looking kindly on the murderous reign of the Bolsheviks, they were attempting to do what they claimed not to believe in, changing from above. Something that Hegel and Kant thought was possible. Something that the Bolshevik Apparatchiks found themselves enforcing, as the party became the Soviet State and thus lost its intellectual autonomy and integrity, not trusting to the revolutionary capacity of the masses who were suffering from the fatigue of the loss of material stability in the revolutionary period leading up to and after the Russian Revolution. Lenin and his crew eliminated competition both on the left and right, took control, gambled and ultimately lost the revolution. We now live with the consequences, a demoralized working class and social conditions that have been so concretized by the Capitalist class that Fukuyama was able to declare the end of history in a parody of Hegel.

I admire Levine’s efforts and you can find his books on line at Amazon, but I question where he is attempting to take us and I am wondering why the Marxist Humanists are aligning with his critique. It seems that they are grasping at some kind of intellectual straw in an attempt to recreate a more benign, softer Marx. Certainly Marx was not an active player on the barricades as Engels was, he was not a manager of a company, he did not have that worldly experience in capital and affairs. Marx was profoundly a thinker and theoretician. That has its good and bad aspects. Finding a humane Marx is not a problem, but changing the course of history to satisfy a desire for a different past is. There were crimes committed in the name of Marxism, they go back to Lenin at least. But Marx is not to be blamed for what his followers did, although Marx certainly supported revolutionary efforts in 1848, the Paris Commune in 1870-71 and the Irish efforts at attaining freedom as well as the American North in the Civil War. Marx was clearly on the forefront of the revolutionary movement from the mid 1840’s until at least the expulsion of the Bakuninists from the First International. After that it is debatable where the focus of revolutionary struggle centered.

From Chapter two of the Communist Manifesto:

“In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole?

The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties.

They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.

They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.

The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.

The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.”

Protest Cuts At Community Colleges

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

There was a board meeting on campus today at Long Beach City College, and lots of people were there to protest. The cops were in force to prevent a riot or disturbance like what happened in Santa Monica. The AP reports that the board decided to go ahead with layoffs.
This has radicalized students and teachers as they face increased fees, cutbacks in classes, and demands that teachers salaries be cut. It is time for us as citizens and students mobilize and fight back.

From U-T San Diego News

Long Beach City College OKs 55 layoffs to save $5M

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The Long Beach City College trustees have voted unanimously to lay off 55 employees and slash the hours of 96 others as the school faces a $5 million state funding cut for the next academic year.

Tuesday’s vote reflects continued cuts to a college that has lost $10.7 million in state funding over the past three years.

On top of the $5 million cut slated for 2012-13, the college may lose another $4.8 million if voters do not approve tax initiatives on the November ballot.

The layoffs include 12 managers and 43 support staff positions. The college has also decided not to fill a dean and two faculty jobs.

Board President Eloy Ortiz Oakley says the college has little alternative due to the continued funding cuts.

See story below from Washington Post

Santa Monica College students pepper-sprayed while protesting expensive courses

By Elizabeth Flock, Published: April 4

More than two dozen Santa Monica College students were pepper-sprayed Tuesday night after they tried to enter a trustees meeting while chanting “Let us in” and “No cuts, no fees, education should be free.”

Raw video posted to YouTube shows the students screaming and crying as they hold their hands to their eyes. A college spokesman told the Associated Press that it was the “judgment of campus police that the crowd was getting out of hand,” noting that this was the first time pepper spray had been used on campus.

Campus police pepper-sprayed as many as 30 demonstrators after Santa Monica College students angry over a plan to offer high-priced courses tried to push their way into a trustees meeting, authorities said.

The incident is the latest reflection of rising anger on California campuses over spending cuts to higher education.

Last fall, video of a campus police lieutenant pepper-spraying University of California at Davis students went viral, drawing international attention and fueling further student demonstrations. The UC-Davis students were protesting tuition increases.

In March, that anger played out at UC-Santa Cruz, where students shut down much of the school by blocking campus entrances. Days later, almost 70 students were arrested in Sacramento for refusing to leave the state Capitol.

California students have been severely impacted by the billions of dollars cut from the state’s education budget over the past several years. In the past five years, tuition has nearly doubled, to the extent that for many California students, Harvard and Yale are now less expensive than state schools.

In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons, versus $5.7 billion on higher education.

Santa Monica College students gathered at the trustees meeting Tuesday to protest proposed price hikes for core courses. Under a new plan, each core course will cost $600, four times the current price.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/santa-monica-college-students-pepper-sprayed-while-protesting-expensive-courses/2012/04/04/gIQAspyFvS_story.html

Here are protests in March at El Camino College

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hLG28AqkcI

Another Day On And The Spratly Dispute US-China Proxy War?

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Rough day, almost broke up with girlfriend. She went to party last night with friends, and neglected to tell me she was crashing at a friend’s house. I was worried and then pissed off enough to tell her to go back where she came from. There were other issues, I was ready to ship her back to Carolina if I did not get some consideration. Matters of chores, sex, and money, all came to a head and then at the end of the day, we resolved our differences, at least temporarily. Also my old girlfriend is now mad at me. I think because she wants me to get her plastic surgery. I don’t know exactly. Maybe she wants more consideration herself. My egotism of yesterday has fallen on rough waters.

A couple of years ago I made a posting on China and US hegemony, I get comments to this day about that one posting. It has become one of my most popular when I suggested that the US and China come to some kind of accommodation to avoid future conflict. The one brewing in the South China Sea over the Spratly Islands is an example. This is the most explosive border region outside of North Korea in East Asia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spratly_Islands_dispute

China claims them as do Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines among others. There is oil out there and everyone wants a piece. The USA made noises supporting Vietnam and has sent ships to support the Philippines.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-vRnKZ0xKQ
McCain called it the west Philippine Sea. Liebermann claims that the USA needs to increase US military presence in the area and supporting the enlargement of the Philippine navy.

Personally I think the US should not be pushing the smaller powers to confront China in a new proxy war.

Day After Godot

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

I went to a performance of Waiting for Godot in LA at Mark Taper Forum last night with my girlfriend and my old girlfriend. I must have spent over a grand on their dresses and my clothes, tickets and dinner after the shoe at the Bonaventure. It is easy to do. I am on a very limited income so this is a once a year event, although now we all have some nice clothes, and I am sure there will be other events, I am looking at the Bolshoi and Swan Lake, certainly cultural events are no more expensive than sporting events, and we were way overdressed, I would say we were the best dressed people at the play, although there were some Japanese tourists who topped us in fashionableness at the Bonaventure.

The performance of Godot was more professional than the one I saw in San Francisco years ago. There was a stage with a backdrop of a stormy sky. One tree and a rock made up most of the set. The acting was quite professional, I don’t watch enough plays to say if it was great, but they were convincing, especially Gogo and Lucky.

My girlfriend feigned boredom, and my old girlfriend was bouncing around like a pixie. I had on my Mexican Mafia shoes, and looked like an aging white pimp, or a john who likes young black girls in party dresses, the sort you would see on prom dates. I had planned for us to walk in arm in arm and upset the bourgeois values of the upper middle class types. But the crowd was such a humdrum mix of middle America, we seemed more like we had walked into the wrong movie set. These were not the upper class sophisticates, along the lines of Tom Wolf’s “Mau mauing the Flack Catchers”, or even James Bond level sophisticates. Only a couple of cougars were dressed as I had anticipated. It was an expensive disappointment for me in that regard, but the play was cool. There was no there, there, to mis-quote Gertrude Stein.
The idea being that when I expected to be in a glamorous situation, instead it was banal and our colorful presence was not able to negate the negation of being in a group that was dedicated to simply attending the event. Nobody there was part of the elite, the one percent, and if they were, they blended into the generally poorly dressed crowd. Revolutionary street theatre takes more than dressing up, although I am sure we did make an impression on certain libidos.

Going to the Bonaventure was another story. We were late for the reservation. Not only did they not honor it, but they closed to kitchen early. I complained, the maitre d shrugged his shoulders. We went down to the Lounge. It was not crowded but service was slow. Food was good though, Buffalo wings and Salmon with a shot of patron and a bottle of anchor steam. That is a lot of alcohol for me.

I spent all my money, literally all of it and now I am depending on my girlfriend to come through for me, she made a lot of money at a photo shoot today, and might make more tonight if she doesn’t party it all away with her friends. That is the advantage and disadvantage of having a beautiful girlfriend, guys love to give her money and she loves to spend it. I just watch it like waves on the beach, tide comes in, tide goes out. Glad I have a sense of humor about all this.

Girlfriend thinks I am being critical of her. I tell her I write it as I see it. I try to be honest in my blog. I should be back involved in politics. I dropped by KPFK studios today when I was waiting for her to finish her photo shoot in the Valley. First time I have been there. I spent part of the afternoon wandering around Toluca Lake and Noho looking for a park to hang out in where I could work on my article. I ended up parking in the shade of a tree a block from where she was making her money. I am living the kept man fantasy, but not very well because I keep spending my money on the girls. It will be interesting to see if she comes through for us as a couple or if she blows all her money. I have tried to be a team with women before, most of the time I would use up my money and they in return would fail to come through with their part. I would inevitably have to leave and struggle to get back on my feet on my own. I seem to never learn.

But I have fun more or less. She bought me a calzone; that is something.

I have to say something about girlfriends, my old girlfriend and I have become some kind of buddies, who occasionally have sex. My new girlfriend and I live together and I am trying to get the two of them to like one another so we can be a threesome. My old girlfriend is game, my new one is not so sure. But she doesn’t mind if I see my old girlfriend when she is off doing something with other people. All this activity is affecting my ability to get my school work done. Whatever happens, at least I am not bored. But it is really cutting into my political life. That is a problem. It would be nice if they were interested, but at least they are not opposed to my interest. Neither of them is a right winger, they are just only mildly interested. At least they both voted for Obama, but I think that had more to do with racial solidarity than a real understanding of class struggle. I would have expected black girls with brains to be more interested, but they are dingy all the same, distracted by superficial things, friends, talking on the phone, texting, fashion, etc. But what can I expect they are like me, simply people without upper class family backgrounds. They are materialistic, like most all Americans. But they are not overly so, surely they are not manipulators of the system to take advantage of others, they just want to have fun. My new girlfriend is into this whole thing of financial rape of rich guilty white men. I can get behind that from a class perspective, but I don’t think she is as politically motivated, at least not yet. If she can get into some kind of systematic robin hood mentality, perhaps this can be a real tool in class warfare. Perhaps, it could be a real mess too.

Nostagia

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Thursday night. Girlfriend is on a porn chat room and I am watching “American Dad” while I write this. It’s about 2 am and I was just looking at the trailer for the only 3-D movie worth the name, “A Very Merry Harold and Kumar Christmas.” I should be serious, after all there is May Day coming up. I am listening to old songs I liked when I was a kid, “Heroin” by the Velvet Underground, “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie, “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed, Girl Like You Before” By Iggy Pop, “Transmission” by Joy Division, and “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. My girlfriend hates this stuff, she calls it noise, but then she likes modern pop female vocalists, like Maria Carey and stuff that I can barely tolerate. Now its “She’s Lost Control” by Joy Division, I love that minimalist English Industrial sound. But I was a DJ back in the days of Punk and New Wave. I ride the dragon of heroin addiction with my musician friends and my drug friends, and my friend friends who got caught up in the speed-heroin-cocaine hard drug frenzy that took over many peoples lives in the hard rock world of the 80’s. Now its “Passenger” by Iggy Pop. They haven’t made a commercial of that one yet, I don’t think. This was one of the theme songs my buddies and I played as we drove around Boulder and Longmont, Colorado. In the late 1970’s it was hard not to find yourself in a cow pasture if you were not careful. It was hard to see it as a tough urban landscape at night that Iggy is singing about. Just like we used to play “Heroin” on our cheap stereo in the farmhouse that my friend Howard’s mom lived in. He had a room set up in the barn. I slept upstairs in an empty bedroom sans heat in a very cold Colorado winter.
Now I am listening to “Walk On The Wild Side” by Lou Reed. I missed it when it first came out in 72, I was living my countrified hippie Revolutionary commune fantasy in Colorado Springs then and missed the entire Glam Rock scene.
I didn’t catch on to Lou Reed until about 1977 when I started hanging out with Jory and Peter. “Black Betty” by Ram Jam, a one hit wonder band, is on now. They are proficient rockers, better musicians than song writers, their lyrics leave something to be desired. A boogie band to be sure. Also from 1977.

“If I Should Fall From Grace With God” by the Pogues, a great North Country song of the Irish rebel tradition, mixed with Appalachian transplant fiddling. It was something I listened to later, in the nineties after I had retired from most of my bad boy stuff, except for a little heroin after work when I wasn’t off on an adventure in India or France. Another romantic Pogues song, “Rainy Night in Soho” this guy has a voice as gravely as it gets with teeth bashed in like some punch drunk fighter. Shane McGowan, a real trooper.

“Sunday Morning Coming Down” Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson singing on the Johnny Cash show back in the late sixties, such a great song, with poor sound production quality on this you tube. Now a live version of “Loving Her Was Easier” from Spain, Kris Kristofferson solo. I guess I am a country boy after all. I am ending on Anne Murray “I Just Fall In Love Again,” she reminds me of a female Barry Manilow. But this was popular at the same time as the Sex Pistols. Now I am on a romantic kick Barry Manilow’s “Mandy”. My soft side is coming out. I really liked this song when it was popular. Starland Vocal Band doing “Afternoon Delight” picking up on the popularity of Abba, it was re-popularized in the movie Anchorman. And that is all I have to say tonight.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6eE3ydPdDc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_hFOBo7-I&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLaPNJszyyA&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RLiuPRMJy8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa-VSRZHB2o&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3MKMF-qIZk

Anyway you get the idea. Look em up yourself if you are interested.

Magritte’s Mirror Into Empty Rooms

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I am working on a paper about Kafka and Melville. It is fairly easy because they are modern in sensibility, especially Kafka. They have a certain cynical approach that colors almost all modern writing. That whipped dog, feeling that seems to come with life, especially in the twentieth century. Kafka was at the heart of it, Melville was more anticipating it with his “Billy Budd” hero being an innocent abroad, executed for acting like a natural man instead of holding his punches and acting in unison as part of a mutiny with his comrades. Man alone already is seen in Melville as facing an impossible task of maneuvering in the tight confines of a British Naval War Ship, a prototypical factory of destruction. Only the individual who keeps his head down, blending in, can have any confidence of being left alone.

For Kafka that has become a given, there is no rebellion, only futility, and absurdity, as forces beyond human control have captured the world and make for their amusement a bug out of a man. Here is the corporate man, the system man walking the tightrope of expectations and failing as he becomes metamorphosed into a bug and is condemned to scurry about in his room for a year before finally starving to death, neglected by his family who cannot identify with this monster, they go about their lives replacing him in their own ways as breadwinners for themselves and soon enough he is swept out with the trash by the cleaning lady leaving this middle class family essentially unchanged except that now they have become engaged in their own survival instead of living off of his largesse.

I am thinking of the modern world and its alienation, increased by the use of computer technology, although by watching my girlfriend in action, where she spends half her day in the bathroom and the other half on the phone and using her webcam, she seems perfectly content to communicate by this method, where lack of physical presence is seen not as a sign of alienated relations but as a form of entertainment, with You Tube instant replays of great moments of internet communications. The internet adds to her mystique and gives allurement to her form. It is fascinating to watch as men in particular fantasize over her internet presentation. She is almost all image, pleasant in person, with an imperious almost regal dominant attitude, that is only belayed by her ignorance of the higher arts that are expected of the true elites. She fits the modern image of the dominatrix, not a woman of substance but one of imaginary power that is vested in her by her willing subordinate males, all seeking relief from some psychological guilt, the white male complex, that she is so willing to provide a cover for in her blackness.

Domination of images, imaginary powers, real money transfers, but then that is only a symbol of a promise on the part of the government to guarantee the transactions validity at least on the level of the currency, if not the intent. The modern alienation transfixed with a crucified image of the disemboweled man, hanging on his cross of gold to steal a William Jennings Bryant phrase from the nineteenth century, and to place it on a new pedestal of electronic fury. The internet, with its barbed wire fences of clear glass, pounding the world with electrons and photons as we sit in our cubicles or wander with our faces glued to small screens, the reality of a mirror face that Rene Magritte might have drawn to exact the price of anonymous existence in the urban wasteland, constantly zapped by lightning storms of micro radiation. Eh, so we cook our genes, mutations just come faster.

Reality and Romance

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Living with a 21 year old prima donna is not exactly easy for an old geezer like me. I am cranky, she is sloppy and lazy. She is on the internet or phone all the time and when she is not she is in the bathroom. I need to make appointments to take a dump. It is fun to watch her primp for hours, only to go to Rite Aid to get more makeup, but then I have work to do and it is very distracting. My school work is suffering. I am barely able to keep up and I want to keep an A average so that means a little extra effort. I spend more time cleaning than I do studying. I am imagining having my son move in at age 18 will be about the same. I get pissed threaten to throw her out, she grudgingly does what I say, like go cut off her fingernails in the bathroom instead of the bed. I am eating in the bed, not that my example is exemplary, but I am hooked up to the machine and have no choice if I want dinner.

Sex with a 21 year old is a bit sketchy. I am all hot and bothered, she is barely interested. Could be the age difference, or values. I come from a generation that placed a lot of personal commitment value in sex time. She comes from a generation where sex is incidental to internet time. For me sex is fucking and sucking, for her sex is anything sexual, preferably a form of masturbation on a web cam. I simply don’t find web cam sex to be real, especially when there is a real person in the bed next to me, although she is far away talking to somebodies in an internet chat room with the Skype on. I have to be careful not to get in the way, she doesn’t want her friends to think she is into old white guys, although that is what she is used to.

Food is another issue. She throws away whole plates full of food if she doesn’t like it or is full. I believe in leftovers, and recycling. It kills me to see her throw away perfectly good food that our roommate will eat. He is a human garbage disposal. We argue about it, she says food is easy to come by so why care, I say it may not be so easy and on principal I don’t like to waste it. I feel like some depression era old guy saying the sky is going to fall in, talking to her, she doesn’t relate. She has always known affluence, and she has access to sources who buy food for her all the time, including me. So what is her incentive, my moral exhortations? I doubt it. Then there is the argument about what to eat. I hate junk food and she loves it. I like to cook from scratch, she likes premade stuff, and on it goes. My former girlfriend was the same way. It must be the age thing. I would love to meet a young girl with healthy eating habits. But these kids are immortal, why should they listen.

I am perusing my emails, saw that there is an anarchist presence being organized for the May Day March. I might go to a meeting, although, really, what is there to meet about? You gather around the Black Flag on the day of, and you decide then if you want to do direct action or simply go along with the crowd. May Day is coming. I have been invited to many meeting; I don’t go because between school, girlfriend and dialysis, I have about all I can cover on my plate. Speaking of which, I have some history to read. Let us see if youth and age can comingle for long. Or is it all mere folly, reports to follow.

Will love and lust win or practical reality? Stay tuned my friends, for the next report. Last night I was telling her to leave, today I am all weepy over her sleeping form, such beauty, and indifference. It would be almost tragic if it were not so comical.

Heart Of Darkness, Future Geisha, Gender Transformation

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

I just finished reading Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” for the 3rd time that I can recall. Great novella! I forgot all the action, battles with Congolese, the rampant racism, and the long drawn out ending while the narrator goes around sewing up the loose ends, making “the horror” seem more like “Rosebud” from the Orson Wells movie, sort of campy rather than dramatic. All that darkness in the mind of the author as he reacts to the evident lack of consideration for British Tea Service among the indigenous, how quaint. The scarification of his wheelman, he considers to be part of the horror, now we would simply consider it to be interesting or even banal. Have we advanced? Certainly we have multi-culturalized to the point that short of cannibalism, virtually anything goes, although I doubt we will be seeing too many persons going to the office wearing full tribal regalia, it is not inconceivable.

I am participating in a project to engage in the future of beauty on planet Earth. This evolutionary process, if I may call it that, involved gender bending, body surgery, and any number of behavioral modifications. It is perhaps the next wave, short of prosthetic bodies. These are surgically manipulated bodies made to match a certain standard of beauty developed in the drag bars, Hollywood idolatry and New York super model conceptions that provide the foundation of this endeavor. It will be interesting to see if the project works and what the femme fatale I am currently tracking will do with all this beauty. So far I am seeing mostly a sort of medium class call girl model being developed. Lots of verbal contact, little physical, much attention to physical image and illusion, not much to finer details of geisha style consideration of culinary arts, dance, theater, visual artistry, and displays of discrete tastefulness are still beyond this project as far as I can discern. But that may change with time. Depending on whether the values are placed on simply meeting the standards of gay campy culture and drag, or whether the goal is to provide the sort of high quality escort that meet Geisha standards, but that may take the kind of discipline and vision that the subject is incapable of. Creating a human art form, moving from low art to high art is seemingly the goal here, but whether there is vision and patience to create feminine perfection, that is another story. Certainly the temptation is to simply go for the easy money and modest standards, to be passable, which is something, but not the ultimate.

This is an interesting enterprise for me because all this campy gay and tranny culture with its obsession with fashion and pop is something that was of marginal interest to me, even something for derogatory consideration in the past. But as we are moving into an asexual or multi-sexual era, with less emphasis on reproduction and more on creation of interesting images, I need to move beyond my own prejudices and examine this and consider it the same way I did with racial equality in my youth. This is the civil rights struggle of the era, but also the cultural front line in the creation of the new man. The feminization of millions of males, removal from the reproductive forces and placement in the entertainment industry is a sign of this transformation. Whether there will be a striving for high art, past the Rue Paul Drag Race populist stance into something of a transformative aesthetic involving the principals of the universal poetic spirit that is to be seen. So far the reliance on pop culture seems to be holding the culture back; I would like to see what is truly possible. But I am a mere middle aged radical who has grasped onto the tail of a vision hoping to be taken up to paradise a la the parable of the onion.

http://kundaliniandcelltowers.com/parable-of-the-onion.html

I have used this one before. I like it a lot. Does all this make me gay? No idea. But it does make me broaden my scope and get over some phobias.

The New Dispensation, A Window To The Universe

Monday, April 9th, 2012

I have to admit, I like Lady Gaga. Not exactly the most radical or edgy, but I am not much of a rocker anymore. I like the drama of her performances, the songs are not bad, she certainly has earned a place along side Madonna and Cher in the female superstar category. Lady Gaga is doing a rap for high school kids who are bullied. She hates money, hates la verite, she hates the truth, speaks in French, and I wonder what that is supposed to mean. Sort of a pure sensuality. She is not quite anarchic, but she is a bit transgressive, reminds me of early Alice Cooper, a female version. But this is not what I wanted to write about. She is now doing a sexual orientation unity rap about the love of Jesus for everyone. It is obvious why she is so popular in the gay bars. Anti-romantic, she calls for strong love, not sappy clinging love. She chants for equality. I would put her in our Rock Against Racism camp, if there was such a thing anymore, but hers is for sexual equality more specifically (guys kissing on stage after her call for equality). I have been watching her HBO special, second or third time. I appreciate the power of dramatic musical presence. “Born this way” is almost biblical, certainly it takes sexual identity into the realm of gospel.

I am thinking about the evident resurgence of the no-nothing fundamentalism, but what is it? Faith in a god that is capable of breaking the rules of his world. Some sort of Neanderthal being, a great Conan of a god, capable of lifting the universe on his shoulders, Atlas like. I have been involved in religious discourse over the years. I studied to be a minister in a non-denominational Christian cult. Later I became involved in the Krishna Hindu cult. About ten years altogether focused, not counting my childhood in semi-controlled Roman Catholicism. Divide time into units perhaps a quarter of my life, and another quarter in anarchist-communist politics, another quarter as a drug addict and the last quarter as a participant in the mainstream as a worker, dad, tax payer, voter. They are not separate components, they blend into one another. Work and addiction were often linked, anarchism and freedom from work, with the spiritual adventures often connected to sexual desire. Love of god, love of humans, blend in erotic desire for liberation with sexual union in the deity, little death in the orgasm, lust in the heart every minute of the day for the beautiful forms embedded in the living beings so early cut down as fodder for the vicious goliath of alienation eternity. As a child there was the image of the giant swallowing me with a huge bowl of pea soup, it was a proto sexual experience of oneness via digestion. Then from humanity turning into a production machine in the repressed form of Workerism only made tolerable by the soothing balm of opiate addiction. The machinery ground on and I participated as a happy cog, obliviously cranking out numbers. The personal projected onto the global, seeking a unified field in my life, atomic structural elements in the mind of humanity must be connected micro to macro. Ever it has been the purpose to sacrifice the idiosyncratic blockages, knots of fear and slow moving patterns keeping the more blinding light elements from burning through the cartilage of human misunderstanding. It is only when we see the essential flaming light in the eyes that we see the sameness, the unity, but unity has only got its existence in the moments of flaming spiritual vision. It does not exist in the shadow world of daily life, except as an abstract promise.

Sometimes I get carried away with this visionary shit. Not that I am weakened but because I am aware of the ironic potential to have someone as lowly and twisted as I am preaching the word. The word is human liberation, but that is not merely human reproduction, or orgasmic intentionality. Liberation implies passing though the peril of the angry gods, the dark spirits, the vampiric energies, and arriving at a place that is real. The sensation of reality; is a peak experience, tripping off the edge leads to sickness or madness. Attempting, risking the mind and body to the collapse of the universe in an age of encroaching probabilities. It means pressing through the black holes, and entering the level of life where planets are approachable through personal wormholes. But these are only conceived of in meditation and poetry. The words of the greatest are only indicators of what lies beyond, science is like breadcrumbs on the path to remind us from whence we came. And that is all I have to say today. After all, what do I know?

Domination

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

My new love is a dominant woman. She is going to dominate me, she claims. I am not sure what that means. I hear talk of financial rape, taking down rich old men, leaving them homeless to wander the streets, or to be taken to S/M shows on leashes walked like dogs. That may be a well deserved fate for guilty rich men, but I am not rich, never have been. Made some money a couple of times but those were short lived periods of relative affluence. She loves me, brought home hundreds of dollars of groceries last night. It was OPP, but I was proud of her none the less. What a novelty to have a girl bring home the bacon. I am tired of being the provider, I am content to stay home and write, go to school and clean up after her hair that seems to cascade all around and fill the cracks and crannies of the apartment. She talks of being on top. I don’t know, I see a beautiful young woman, with eyes so big they swallow the world.

This personal stuff may be semi-boring, but then soaps are the most popular form of Television, that and reality shows which are really just soaps with a lower budget and unpaid talent. I am recording impressions of a new love, watching it take its course, especially this whole domination thing. I have had friends before who were into this, but it was at a distance from me. I have read De Sade and found him to be erotically interesting. My own fantasy life as a newly pubescent youth was very kinky.

I cannot sleep. I have school in a couple of hours. She tried to get me to sleep but was unaware of what it would take. Probably intense sexual activity wearing out my under exercised body, or perhaps I do need the discipline that she seems to be slowly pressuring me to accept, but I am so used to danger and extreme situations that I don’t know how I could be forced to accept anything that was less dangerous than a military torture procedure or a prison style rape. I am not easily intimidated, but I am a sucker for a pretty face. I will do anything for someone I love. This is getting sappy. I need to finish my damn book.

I heard on NPR that New Hampshire no longer offers free legal aid for the poor. You have a right to an attorney has been changed to you have a right to an attorney if you can afford one. This is a real blow to the principal of equality before the law. It seems as if in the United States the liberal agenda of providing relatively equal access for all has been constantly eroding. Education is taking a big hit as State budgets continue to be inadequate and the tax base contracts. Republicans continue to talk of incentivizing the rich to spend on job creation by cutting taxes. The historical example shows this doesn’t work. They simply have more money to blow on exotic toys or sit on the capital.

Perhaps I should get involved with the Occupy movement again; it just seemed like such noble futility. But something has to be done to fight back. It is such an immense task getting America ready for revolution.


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