I need to read Amartya Sen's latest book.
Christopher Hitchens wasn't always right, but he was absolutely necessary.
It is hard to disagree with the assertion that consensus and God are, for lack of a more elegant word, suckers!
It's rare, but I have nothing to say!
To compensate, here is one of my songs of the moment.
One of my favorite songs at the moment is Fela Kuti's Colonial mentality. I find it to be both profound and hip while disagreeing fully with its title and its message, which is a proof of the universality and greatness of Kuti's music (it is difficult but to enjoy it, I have to ignore his politics and his misogyny).
I stopped a long time ago to believe that there is such a thing as blackness and africanness/africanity. I have realized that the quest for authenticity is similar to Caligula's destructive and impossible one for the sun in Camus's play in the sense that it always ends with a witch-hunt for there must be monsters to blame for shortcomings and traitors to chastise for their refusal to be 'true africans' or whatever else is considered to be pure or socially acceptable.
Colonial mentality is a great song with a political message that I despise because it is culturalist and defines identity in terms that are too absolute and too reactionary to be productive. To put things bluntly, since existence precedes essence, what matters is the choice for people aren't being in themselves. Whether a mentality is colonial or not is no longer an essential question for what matters is individuality and responsibility. That said, the song is awesome and Fela Kuti's message is worth listening too because although his conclusion is erroneous, it is both legitimate and pertinent while being too self-absorbed and ideological to be complete.
Well Glenn Greenwald has said all that needs to be said. Sometimes, it feels like Obama is Kim Jong Il and that some of his admirers believe religiously, Santorumly that he is the one and came to earth to save America.
Well because it's my birthday and having the time of my life in the desert somewhere....
Interesting conversation as always between John McWhorter and Glenn Loury. I just have one question or rather two. What is American character? Does it exist?
I might be trying to suggest with these questions that there isn't such an American identity, that Americans are what they do and that America is an ideal, a noble idea that alas cannot remain good in itself because of Americans aren't always able to live up to it.
I like John McWhorter and Glenn Loury and their conversation on race is fascinating especially for somebody like me who believes she got beyond race. That isn't to say that race doesn't matter, but rather that it does because people want it to matter in order to make the world simple and to put people within tiny and beautiful boxes.
To talk about Cornel West, I think he epitomizes of the fact that race forces people to be inauthentic and to hold on to bad faith in a pointless, vile and desperate attempt to make race matter more than anything else.
To the contrary to BHL (Bernard-Henri Lévy), I take Slavoj Zižek seriously, but I rarely agree with him even though he too tends to oversimplify to make his arguments cute and flashy. That said this video is great (hat tip: Jonathan Glennie)
In this video, Glenn Loury explains perfecty and coherently what are my feelings towards Obama.
My favorite TV character is Sue Sylvester, the deliciously mean cheerleaders' trainer in Glee, which is my number one reason why I watch the show. I make the prediction that Jane Lynch, the actor who plays her, is going to go places. She has been so hilarious for too long not to make it big by at least having her own show. In this video, she succeeds in making homophobia and gay bashing funny, which is quite an achievement.
A great video on Iran in 1975 (via). It's frightening to see how religious or any kind of political revolutions can alter the face of a country.
This video depicts, I'm afraid, a reality that ought to be expected when identity politics become the supreme form of politics and when race becomes supra-essential. How different is South Africa from the United States? Or rather would the United States be South Africa if the majority was impoverished since it too is racialized society
Ending a long, long day. I hate the Rolling Stones ! Well no, I just have a problem with Mick Jagger, but I guess it's the same thing. In any case, for some reason, a stones' song expresses my state of mind except that I still feel anxious about the whole living thing. Ah, it's hard to focus on doing the right things instead of doing things right.
For more on the use of drones in Pakistan and elsewhere by the Obama administration and its implications, read Professor Anderson's excellent article on the subject, Predators over Pakistan. Harold Koh gave a speech defending the Obama administration and its positions on international law. Kevin Heller offers a convincing rebuttal to Koh's arguments.
I agree wholeheartedly with Nicholas Sautin on this:
In short, the proliferation of atrocity footage on the Internet has complicated the ethical and aesthetic landscape of how and why we watch the suffering of others. If technology grants every war a dominant representational medium (consider the role of television during the Vietnam War), the digital aesthetic associated with Internet video perhaps most closely inhabits our contemporary anxiety about the wars fought in our name—our ability to see and not see, and our desire both to know and not know. The Internet passively collects the visual dregs of a world where anything and everything can be captured on film. (...) The problem with voyeurism and the Internet, though, is that the idea of “the right to look” may have become obsolete. Atrocity footage has been taken out of the hands of those who would previously have held such moral responsibility—governments, journalists, censors, teachers, etc. The images are simply there for anyone who wishes to look. We imagine their existence, haunted by glimpses of what we have actually seen, and often choose not to look further.
At their core, such images remain visible traces of what has happened, even if they seem incomprehensible. In their democratic lack of artifice and ornamentation, they suggest the closest approximation we have to reality; this makes them intolerable.
I have the feeling that atrocity footage of wars, violence or any other barbarity is the way of the future not just because modern society has accepted a legitimized a certain form of voyeurism, but also because we like in an age where as Agassi would have said 20 years ago, image is everything. Furthermore, "modern wars" (that's an oxymoron) are becoming so gadgetized and sterilized that people will want/need to experiment sensations, which brings them as close as possible to the experience of war because we live in the video-game era where anything real, brutal, and more importantly illicit is irresistible especially when it can be found on the internet and more also because we have become so desensitized to violence that only shocking images of the suffering of others can make us believe in its realness. It is the same feeling that explain for example why the media coverage of the earthquake of Haiti needed to be so gruesome and spectacular to provoke an outpouring of charitable feelings.
I'm in a desperate need of a spark...
Sam Tanenhaeus's latest, The Death of Conservatism is on my must-read list for the end of the year even though I find the title of his book io be a pompous cliché designed to create buzz. Anyway, he is fun to listen to, which I hope means that he will be fun to read for those things don't always go together.
I found this video of Idi Amin Dada, the former dictator of Uganda talking his ability to dream the future not only funny, but enlightening. Not very much has changed for the perceptions remains and when one looks at things today in Uganda and elsewhere, it is difficult not to think of Alfred Jarry's famous play Ubu Roi except that here it is not the French middle class, which is at the center of the theater of the absurd in this case. What is alarming is that there are some who believe that Dada was great partly because he was a thorn to the sides of the Brits and to the Israelis. In other words, the standard for political greatness in many African leaders is standing up to the former colonizers and to foreigners and being a menace to the world as leaders such as Dadis Camara and Omar Al Bachir show just to name two of them.
Some have trouble acknowledging it, but the best French music in our time is made in the West Indies. Now, what does that tell us is about French national identity (I have Eric Besson, the French immigration minister, om my mind) if the the Brel and Gainsbourg of today live in the DOM-TOMS? All you have to do is to listen to this song to get it. Zouk is in my opinion what Jazz was 50 years ago, that is at it. Since I just can't just write a cheerful post on a artificial day, I just hope that Zouk doesn't get Americanized in the bad sense of the word (yes, there is such a thing as good and even great Americanization).
I don't know about you but watching two guys men talk about love just make me realize that romance, love, relationships are the new spirituality tools to make people avoid facing the scary reality existence is absurd and that sex can be satisfying, valuable in itself. I find the religionization, the merchandization of love, sex, relationship creepy. Something tells me that very soon there will love classes in colleges.
I would find this video outrageously funny if it wasn't about the fate of a poor, small, and martyred African nation, Guinea, in desperate need of leadership taken hostage by a dangerous and manly idiot who believes that God made him king. Even by the worst or the most generous of standards, Captain Dadis Camara is a clown who should have never been allowed to rule Guinea. He is convinced that to be Guinean, African, and finally a statesman means to be just as Harvey Mansfield would say manly that is to scream when he can neither reason nor convince and to crush the people who contest his authority. It's heartbreaking to say, but the fact that an African country can have such an idiot as its head of state shows that its future generations, because they were lied to by a previous group of political leaders, which was more or less polished and "western," will in the hope for change (here those two hypnotizing words again) be tempted to follow manly fools who will try to convince them that to be authentically African (whatever that means) is to defy reason and civilization.
Outrageously funny ! (hat tip: Alice Fishburn)
I don't know what to say or do except shake my head and deplore the fact that some men are still apes. Is virginity still a sign of virtue in our times? If it is, why does it only apply to girls/women especially when they are victimes of rape? By the way, Mickey Kaus shouldn't talk about anything other than basic American politics.
I can't help thinking while watching this scene from Nixon, probably the last decent movie Oliver Stone made, that we live in an era where where politicians are great at acting and bad at politics.
I'm speechless after watching this tape. I'm not just asserting it, I'm really describing my state of my mind. I have the feeling that America is stopped in the middle of nowhere and that it is going to waste a lot of time not on becoming a good country, but an impossible "clean" country. If I wanted to be bluntly cute, I would wonder at aloud whether if wouldn't have been a good thing for the US if the South had been able to form its own country.
I don't love the Beatles (one shouldn't love the same singers as one's parents), but I love this song even though it is too corny to be true and that its message is too syrupy to be simply erroneous.
Hat tip Harry's Place
No words are necessary, but wow, are we really so far away from Nazi Germany for people to have amnesia or to just be too ideological to care about reality and abusive metaphors? I guess Clive James was right to talk about cultural amnesia.
I love Pepé Le Pew. To me, he is the epitome of the manly man who so sure of the superiority of his manliness that he can't see that he isn't seducing the creature of his desire. In other words, when I watch Pepé Le Pew, I see Harvey Mansfield.
I have given up on trying to understand why women have no problem being vicious to other women. I'm not going to comment this video and on the speakers but I will say is that they are the reasons why I have stopped watching flashy, fluffy, empty, and debasing political shows especially on cable. TV can be an addictive drug, but if you have to be addicted to something, it shouldn't be crack.
There was a time when nothingness could be philosophical and cool (when existentialism was revolutionary and Sartre could still read what he was writing), this conversation about third wave feminism (who knew that existed) just proves that today nothingness is not only meaningless, but annoying and maddening. Just listening to this conversation, made me want to take my pencil and stab myself just to make sure that ennui didn't kill me while I was listening to it (the feeling was so enjoyable that I thought I would spread the joy by posting the video). Is it just me or do American women have a unique way of reminding us that feminism is dead?
I'm not a parent so it is easier for me to find this funny. What makes me uneasy is my suspicion that it isn't too far from reality (hat tip: 3quarksdaily)
Because it is necessary to make fun of all religion... (hat tip: Pavani at SepiaMutiny)
This song describes perfectly how I'm feeling this morning. I'm sick and the rain isn't helping.
I didn't watch the Bill Maher's soft take down of Obama and his love of TV last week on his show because I stopped watching it more than a year ago. I thought that he had stopped to be funny because he wanted so much to believe in the audacity of hope. In an op-ed in the LA Times, Maher writes:
still a fan, but there's a fine line between being transparent and
being overexposed. Every time you turn on the TV, there's Obama. He's
getting a puppy! He's eating a cheeseburger with Joe Biden! He's taking
the wife to Broadway and Paris -- this is the best season of "The
I get it: You love being on TV. I love my bong, but I take it out of my mouth every once in a while. The other day, I caught myself saying to a friend, "Don't tell me if he's fixed the economy yet, I'm Tivo-ing it."(...) It's getting to where you can't turn on your TV without seeing Obama. Who does he think he is, Dick Cheney? Come on, sir, you don't have to be on television every minute of every day. You're the president, not a rerun of "Law and Order." Save some charisma for a rainy day. (...)I'm glad that Obama is president, but the "Audacity of Hope" part is over. Right now, I'm hoping for a little more audacity.
I guess the fact that he can criticize Obama by daring to ask him to be more substantive rather than to act as if he were president in a Hollywoodian movie means that it may become easier for comedians even when they are first and foremost fans, to make fun of the president. Who knows may be change is coming...