node created 2012/06/17
last changed 2013/02/04
I always disagree, however, when people end up saying that we can only combat Communism, Fascism or what not if we develop an equal fanaticism. It appears to me that one defeats the fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one's intelligence.
I'll swallow a lie when I have to; I've swallowed a few big ones lately. But the stat games? That lie? It's what ruined this department. Shining up shit and calling it gold so majors become colonels and mayors become governors. Pretending to do policework while one generation fucking trains the next how not to do the job.
"The Wire"
In the United States, the political system is a very marginal affair. There are two parties, so-called, but they're really factions of the same party, the Business Party. Both represent some range of business interests. In fact, they can change their positions 180 degrees, and nobody even notices.
Interview by Adam Jones, February 20 (1990)
The trick isn't that you have no freedom, the trick is that you think that is freedom. All your fighting is for... consumer products.
Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.
[..] the nation-state cannot exist once its principle of equality before the law has broken down. Without this legal equality, which originally was destined to replace the older laws and orders of the feudal society, the nation dissolves into an anarchic mess of over- und underprivileged individuals. Laws that are not equal for all revert to rights and privileges, something contradictory to the very nature of nation-states. The clearer the proof of their inability to treat stateless people as legal persons and the greater the extension of abritrary rule by police decree, the more difficult it is for states to resist the temptation to deprive all citizens of legal status and rule them with an omnipotent police.
"Origins of Totalitarianism"
What you can't see from this picture is the room full of people staring at this with one hand on their chins and super serious expressions. One girl was even taking notes! Sometimes I wish I possessed the requisite attention span to absorb endless amounts of totally pointless bullshit.
A man's work is nothing but the slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.
I've heard quite a lot of people that talk about post-privacy, and they talk about it in terms of feeling like, you know, it's too late, we're done for, there's just no possibility for privacy left anymore and we just have to get used to it. And this is a pretty fascinating thing, because it seems to me that you never hear a feminist say that we're post-consent because there is rape. And why is that? The reason is that it's bullshit.

We can't have a post-privacy world until we're post-privilege. So when we cave in our autonomy, then we can sort of say, "well, okay, we don't need privacy anymore, in fact we don't have privacy anymore, and I'm okay with that." Realistically though people are not comfortable with that. Because, if you only look at it from a position of privilege, like, say, white man on a stage, then yeah, maybe post-privacy works out okay for those people. But if you have ever not been, or if you are currently not, a white man with a passport from one of the five good nations in the world, it might not really work out well for you, and in fact it might be designed specifically such that it will continue to not work out well for you, because the structures themselves produce these inequalities.

So when you hear someone talk about post-privacy, I think it's really important to engage them about their own privilege in the system and what it is they are actually arguing for.
I do not look on a human being as a machine, made to be kept in action by a foreign force, to accomplish an unvarying succession of motions, to do a fixed amount of work, and then to fall to pieces at death, but as a being of free spiritual powers; and I place little value on any culture but that which aims to bring out these, and to give them perpetual impulse and expansion.
Good works, because they must be forgotten instantly, can never become part of the world; they come and go, leaving no trace. They truly are not of this world.
"The Human Condition"
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.
Basically, what's happened is, somewhere along the line, as a society, we confused the notion of home with the possibility of an investment opportunity. What kind of creature wants to live in an investment opportunity? Only man. The fox has his den, the bee has his hive, the stoat has a a stoat hole. But only man, ladies and gentlemen, the worst animal of all, chooses to make his nest in an investment opportunity. Mmm, snuggle down in the lovely credit. All warm in the mortgage payment.

Mmm! But home is not the same thing as an investment opportunity. Home is a basic requirement of life, like food.

When a hamster hides hamster food in his hamster cheeks, he doesn't keep it there in the hope that it will rise in value.
And when a squirrel hides a nut, he's not trying to play the acorn market. And having eaten the nut, he doesn't keep the shell in the hope of setting up a lucrative sideline making tiny hats for elves. And when a dog buries a bone, he doesn't keep that bone buried until the point where it's reached its maximum market value. He digs it up when he's hungry.

And if estate agents were dogs burying bones, not only would they leave those bones buried until they'd reached their maximum market value, but they'd run around starting rumours about imminent increases in the price of bones in the hope of driving up the market, and they'd invite loads of boneless dogs to all view the bone at the same time in the hope of giving the impression there was a massive demand for bones. And they would photograph the bone in such a way as to make it look much more juicy than it really was, airbrushing out the maggots and cropping the rotten meat.
Freedom is the right to say two plus two make four. If granted, all else follows.
Let us not forget that human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth. What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind.

What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living.
I was on stage and I looked out, and I knew they weren't ready. We were doing 'Piece of My Heart.' You know you can do a lot of different things: you know sometimes they get up spontaneously. Out in the Midwest they don't. They aren't supposed to stand up and they know it. It's hard to get 'em up. But I remember I was singing 'Piece of My Heart,' you know that 'Come on, well, come on' line -- well, you know the guitar solo that leads into that part? I came in early, and I walked all the way to the front of the stage and shouted [in a hoarse whisper], 'Come on, come on!' and just fucking stamping my foot, and saying, 'I'm not going to sing anymore unless you do something,' you know, and they're going, 'Whoo-ooo-ooo, yes ma'am! Yes ma'am, yes ma'am!' A riot. Groovy. All they want is a little kick in the ass. You know, sometimes I jump off the stage and grab somebody and say, 'Let's dance.' When they reach a certain level, you know, they want to be lifted, but they're scared. Then all you gotta do is give the old kick in the ass, a big fucking kick in the ass, man. Then the promoters get goony, turn the lights on, pull the power, but by then it's all over [crackles]. I dig it! I dig it so much, man!
They kill and die, for this "precious land", right? And they both litter, whole place is filled with, like, Cheeto bags..

[..]

If they're forced to work together on something that helps everybody.. they might just find out they're not so different after all. [..] Let's say solar power, Israel's all sun... so, you're welcome.
Most wars in the 20th century have started as a result of lies. Amplified and spread by the mainstream press. And you go, well that is a horrible circumstance, that is terrible that all these wars start with lies. And I say no, this is a tremendous opportunity, because it means that populations basically don't like wars and they have to be lied into it.

A Lady Thinks She Is Thirty

Miranda in Miranda's sight
Is old and gray and dirty;
Twenty-nine she was last night;
This morning she is thirty.

Silly girl, silver girl,
Draw the mirror toward you;
Time who makes the years to whirl
Adorned as he adored you.

Time is timelessness for you;
Calendars for the human;
What's a year, or thirty, to
Loveliness made woman?

Oh, Night will not see thirty again,
Yet soft her wing, Miranda;
Pick up your glass and tell me, then —
How old is Spring, Miranda?
Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.
Every moment is all the things that have happened before and all the things that are going to happen, and...the way all those things look at one point on their way along a line.
Before the sponsored updates. 
Before the terms of service changed. 
Before data stopped being private. 
Before we sold our memories. 
Before we forgot our rights. 
Before everything that made media 
Less social and more cynical, 
There was one simple idea: 
Our lives are our own. 
What we share and who we share it with, 
Our memories, our secrets, 
Our lives are our own. 
That idea is important 
So we’re going back to before. 
And in going back to before, 
We’re going forward.
Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune.
None of us can save himself; we are the instruments of one another’s salvation, and the only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light.
Anyone who loves his neighbor within the limits of the world is doing no more and no less injustice than someone who loves himself within the limits of the world.
The Third Notebook, December 9, 1917
You rarely get the satisfaction in intellectual life where the person who is wrong has to acknowledge and grow from the experience of having been self-deceived for so long.
[Q: can you conceive of any form in which you might support American military action taken, like the President's justification, in anticipation of an imminent and dangerous threat?]

Why don't you generalize it, and say, can you conceive of any action which any state might take? Sure, you can imagine such things. Let's say you're in Iran right now. [audience laughter] It's under attack by the world's superpower, with embargoes... It's surrounded by states either occupied by its superpower enemy, or having nuclear weapons. Little way down the road is the regional superpower, which has hundreds of nuclear weapons, and other WMDs, and is essentially an offshore US military base. And has a bigger and more advanced air force than any NATO power, outside the United States. And in the past year has been supplied by the global superpower with 100 advanced jet bombers, openly advertised as able to fly to Iran and back to bomb it. And also provided with what the Hebrew press calls special weaponry, nobody knows what that means, but if you're an Iranian intelligence analyst you gonna give a worst case analysis, of course. And has actually been publicly provided with smart bombs, and deep penetration weapons... They have a terrific justification for anticipatory self defense, better than any other case I can think of.

But would I approve of their bombing Israel, or carrying out terrorist acts in Washington? No, even though they have a pretty strong case, better than anything I can think of here. Just as the Japanese had a much better case than any that I can think of here, but I don't approve of Pearl Harbor. So yeah, we can conceive of cases, and in fact some of them are right in front of our eyes, but none of us approve of them. None of us.

So if we don't approve of them in real cases, why discuss hypothetical cases that don't exist? We can do that in some philosophy seminar, but in the real world there're real cases that ought to concern us.
Once you can laugh at your own weaknesses, you can move forward. Comedy breakes down walls. It opens up people. If you're good, you can fill up those openings with something positive. Maybe... combat some of the ugliness in the world.
What I worry about is kids growing up in a society where they say "If I send this email or if I visit this website, then somebody may think I'm a terrorist. I'm not going to talk about this issue, I'm not going to read this book, I'm not going to explore this idea."
When books or pictures in reproduction are thrown on the market cheaply and attain huge sales, this does not affect the nature of the objects in question. But their nature is affected when these objects themselves are changed rewritten, condensed, digested, reduced to kitsch in reproduction, or in preparation for the movies. This does not mean that culture spreads to the masses, but that culture is being destroyed in order to yield entertainment.

The result of this is not disintegration but decay, and those who actively promote it are not the Tin Pan Alley composers but a special kind of intellectuals, often well read and well informed, whose sole function is to organize, disseminate, and change cultural objects in order to persuade the masses that Hamlet can be as entertaining as My Fair Lady, and perhaps educational as well. There are many great authors of the past who have survived centuries of oblivion and neglect, but it is still an open question whether they will be able to survive an entertaining version of what they have to say.