Category Archives: Obscurantism

An Introduction to Hermeticism

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Bapholment

Okay: I’m going to reveal something crazy deep that sounds counter-intuitive. Stay with me. Are you ready?

Hermeticism is bullshit. Conflating dichotomous elements, “seeking for what is lost”―it’s all a grandiose solution to a self-imposed problem. There is no God, but God is in you―just don’t trust your intuition, instead you need to conform, be guided, mentored, initiated, etc. There are no enemies, only opportunities―but replace “enemies” with “souls” or “persons” and you have the same statement. There is no innate morality, but we’re going to make the world a better place. Obsessing over what’s hidden while rejecting what’s revealed in the same sources. Elaborate riddles and intimations of great profundity masking empty smugness and rapacity.

It’s a cool-kids’ circle jerk.

“There is a substance that comes from your…..” wherever, the obvious implication (because Christianity “has been altered”) being that, once revealed, the esoteric is the only real insight in scripture. Various occultists might protest that Jim Carey is not the finest exponent of this thinking, but I don’t have to answer for his availability as an example. They do. As is well known, anybody who’s anybody in this country is a Mason, and that of course includes the Hollywood A-list. Undoubtedly, there is much in scripture that’s not readily apparent, but this self-centered pop-exegesis is at bottom profoundly literalistic and narrow, amounting to what is referred to in Judaism as making use of the Crown (as in Pirke Avot, “He who makes use of the Crown shall perish.”)

Christianity and Islam are at bottom no more universal than Judaism. They highlight boundaries in the world. All three place the believer at odds with corporeality, error, and deceit. Whereas all you need to know about Masonry is its emphasis on secrecy, and personal attainment.

May I humbly suggest the following sources instead?:

“There is no enchantment against Jacob; no divination against Israel.” (Numbers 23:23)

“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:7)

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10:15)

“Do not be sure of yourself until the day of your death.” ―Pirke Avot

“Understand that for every rule which I have mentioned from the Quran, the Devil has one to match it, which he puts beside the proper rule to cause error.” ―Al-Ghazali

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A fig leaf for sanity

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This dude has a problem with homos?

I just read the SCOTUS decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and I have to say, Justice Ginsburg’s dissent—though disingenuous on numerous points—is more logically consistent than the majority opinion. The fact is, gay marriage cannot, and was never meant to coexist with the free exercise of religion. “Well if your stupid Flying Spaghetti Monster wasn’t such a goddamned bigot….” I rest my case. (See also: “Real Jesus loves everybody just the way they are.”)

But Masterpiece is not actually a victory for religion, or the free exercise thereof. All this case does is differentiate conscientious objection from actual freedom. It’s a protracted religious test at the behest of scorned, chubby poofters, with the result that only the inscrutable fig-leaf of religion at its most passive and irrational now merits a carve-out, so long as you can satisfy a roulette wheel of vindictive bureaucrats that it’s all just in your head; whereas a straightforward moral rationale against the enfranchisement of sexual deviance would never, on its face, have stood a chance here. With Obergefell, such uncomfortable questions about public morality were effectively rendered hypothetical, merely philosophical, historical curiosities. With Masterpiece, they’re now conveniently quarantined (unlike AIDS.)

Of course, like killing a fetus, the scope of the Court’s purview is procedural, not moral. So: does a retailer have a right to inquire what I intend to use his product for, as a prerequisite of doing business? If so (a big “if”), does he have a right to refuse if he dislikes my answer? That depends. In Masterpiece, Phillips (the baker) was presumably being asked to include some message (“Congratulations Adam and Steve,” a couple of little plastic grooms, etc.) That would be compelled speech, a matter the Court already settled in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group of Boston. But that’s not the issue this decision focuses on. Rather, Masterpiece is about whether Phillip’s religious beliefs were duly taken into account by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (boy, that sure sounds like an impartial body, doesn’t it?)

Indeed, the inverse case cited by Philips’ attorneys—of one William Jack, a hellfire-and-brimstone Okie from Muskogee who submitted complaints to the Commission against three separate bakers for their respective refusals to decorate cakes for him with biblical verses condemning homolingus—is a bad analogy to Masterpiece, because in the latter case, the Commission was considering (or refusing to consider) a religious exemption; whereas, in the former three cases, it was compelled speech that was the issue.

But according to the majority, there was another problem with the way speech was treated by the Commission:

The Commission ruled against Phillips in part on the theory that any message on the requested wedding cake would be attributed to the customer, not to the baker. Yet the Division did not address this point in any of the cases involving requests for cakes depicting anti-gay marriage symbolism.

This is highly telling, and Ginsburg doesn’t really have a rebuttal, so she ultimately addresses another difference between the two cases, one that’s more pliant to her purposes:

The different outcomes the Court features do not evidence hostility to religion of the kind we have previously held to signal a free-exercise violation, nor do the comments by one or two members of one of the four decisionmaking entities considering this case justify reversing the judgment below.

The first half of that sentence seems to me factually sound. But there are two problems here. First, Ginsburg comes very close to saying that the Commission’s rationale is irrelevant. Secondly—of course the different outcomes do not evidence hostility to religion per se. Rather, the peculiar way Phillips’ case was adjudicated evidences hostility to his religion in particular. Obviously, the “love-wins” Unitarian community did not file an amicus brief in support of Masterpiece Cakeshop. Neither is Phillips alleging that the Commission’s ruling implied disapproval of Reform Jews, androgynous Episcopalians, or anglo-Buddhist hot-tubbers. In fact, the notion that a ruling against Phillips would compromise such peoples’ rights, even just in principle, involves quite a stretch of the imagination. So the Court’s decision necessarily grants “religion” a wide berth because otherwise, we persons of Sodom might have to acknowledge what religion actually is, and this here ain’t America if you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

In any case, the comments Ginsburg is referring to are treated more seriously by the majority:

As the record shows, some of the commissioners at the Commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillips’ faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust. No commissioners objected to the comments. Nor were they mentioned in the later state-court ruling or disavowed in the briefs filed here. The comments thus cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission’s adjudication of Phillips’ case.

A lot hinges there on the word thus, and Ginsburg’s dissent sidesteps and downplays most of it. But she’s right that a carve-out is being created here for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and to that extent her dissent has greater rhetorical force and logical consistency than the majority opinion.

Ultimately, however, the Masterpiece decision does not merely create a carve-out for religious discrimination against gays. Rather, it creates a carve-out for religious discrimination against gays that affirms the otherwise wholesale banishment of religion from public life; an exception that proves the rule.

Ginsburg again:

Colorado, the Court does not gainsay, prohibits precisely the discrimination Craig and Mullins encountered. Jack, on the other hand, suffered no service refusal on the basis of his religion or any other protected characteristic.

Again, William Jack wanted a cake with anti-homosexual Bible verses on it; three bakers refused, and were vetted by the Commission. They should no more be compelled to make him a cake than Phillips should be compelled to provide one for Craig and Mullins’ wedding. But if objection to decorating a cake with biblical verses on it—on the basis of what those verses say—isn’t “refusal on the basis of religion,” I don’t know what is. And that’s not a carve-out that will ever require defending before the Supreme Court. On the other hand, the carve-out that Masterpiece provides for is tenuous, and remains open to challenge: Jack Philips is being allowed to discriminate not on account of his sincerely held beliefs, but because those beliefs were belittled and not taken seriously prior to being rejected by the Commission.

Don’t trust this Charlatan

 

“Stay with me here for a minute. I’m going to tell you something that sounds crazy….” Wow-just-wow. This is how they keep you in the Matrix, alt-reichateers, superfluously reveling in the soy-laden tears these kinds of non-events always provoke.

Scott Adams is an admitted hypnosis aficionado who has books and speaking engagements to sell. He knows that Kanye West is a typically impressionable, egomaniacal boogie with a huge Twatter following, who will retweet the living shit out of any smarty-pants cracka who tosses his salad a little; and that the pyramid-scheme caliber of people who follow him will be the first to fall for this shit-tier faux-esoteric slight of hand. If Kanye West is “bringing you the golden age”—on Twitter, “altering reality” and “helping people break out of their mental prisons,” then not only are we dealing with prisons within prisons within prisons, but we’re well past the Golden Age. We missed it, we have to get off at the next stop and walk back a few miles, and what we’ll be looking for is Mad Max Does Johannesburg, where the wife and kiddo get crucified by we-wuz-kangs and the protagonist gets gang raped.

The Help

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House nigga 4 lyfe

The argument that black celebrities can’t possibly have grounds to complain about being black in America—because they’re rich—is a sophomoric bit of conservative boilerplate. But then, the absurd protocol that black perspectives be treated as more valid because black experience is somehow realer than others is equally tiresome. The morning headlines all insist on some variation of “Ice Cube schooled Bill Maher about white privilege,” but I wonder (not really) if it occurs to Mr. Cube that he was giving Maher moral cover by going on Real Time and calling him out.

Of course I’m not talking about a morality that I personally concur with; taboos against words can only elicit my sympathy for the sentiment that’s being repressed (naughty, naughty). So for example, I wouldn’t get too worked up if an Ice Cube were to rap, “You can’t be the Nigga 4 Life crew/with a white Jew telling you what to do.” In fact, Ice Cube did rap these lyrics, shortly after NWA broke up.

Now, ‘Jew’ and ‘white’ are clearly meant in the pejorative there, and it wasn’t the first or last time Ice Cube rapped anti-white, anti-Jewish or anti-Asian invective—which is not only excused but lauded in the NPR article linked above. So you can recapitulate the bollocks dogma that the N-word is more hateful because the black experience in America is uniquely unfair—in a way that’s totally unfathomable to non-blacks. But who I am is presumably as important to me as Ice Cube’s identity is to him, and I would be well within the electric fence of conventional cant to take umbrage, I just wouldn’t get anywhere because black resentment is more useful and (above all) malleable to elites than the white or Korean or even the Jewish varieties. After all, if you unreflectingly give people enough power that they can obligate you to respond to little trigger phrases like a marionette, then you’re a silly cunt and a weakling. Clearly, Ice Cube—a public image gangster who’s actually a pot bellied, noodle-armed little man in his late forties who lives in a gated community—sees things differently, and that’s his business. But by calling out Maher he’s reinforcing the entertainment industry pecking order he referenced in that song we just quoted from back in the 1990s.

This is not a spurious complaint, by the way. If I wanted to go all Irv Rubin and start calling in bomb threats to Farrakhan, I’d still have to admit the (latter) man’s got a perfectly valid point about Jews in the media. The fact is, a black actor or entertainer can only ever be a commodity in Hollywood, whereas a white Jewish comedian can conceivably reach a level—like Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, or Bill Maher—where he becomes an institution, an arbiter as opposed to a mere influencer of tastes and discourse, and a near-equal to real decision makers, who’re all Jews.

So Ice Cube can stroll into Real Time studios affecting as hard an image as he wants. The more indignant the better because, again, he was being used by Maher for moral cover. Public figures as powerful as US Senators have been taken down for saying nigger; obviously Maher has powerful protection. Again, the morning headlines all say Ice Cube “schooled” him, but if it matters to Ice Cube on any level what comes out of horse’s ass Bill Maher’s mouth then he’s a silly shit. “Please Missa Jewman, please don’t be using that o-ffensive language when you be referring to us black folk. We sho’ would be grateful. Nigga 4 Life crew, ya heard!?! You just been schooled.” This is why, according to the oligarchs and their marionettes, uttering nigger is what passes for unacceptable injustice in a world of actual slavery.

To say that Ice Cube is a hypocrite for taking offense at Maher’s salty language after making a career glorifying drugs and pea-brained street violence would be another bit of sophomoric conservative boilerplate. I think it’s true, but so what? The media Jews say one thing’s more offensive than another, and who am I to argue? It’s not my country, I don’t make the rules. I just wonder, with all the bloviating we tend to hear about irrational white wariness of blackness (from all these three-named, Jew-approved horse’s ass black intellectuals: Marc Lamont Hill, Michael Eric Dyson, Ta Nehisi Coats—who can even tell the difference?) will it make black performers who bank on mean-mugging “jack-yo’-shit” yippity-yap—or their shithead street acolytes—feel any better to know there are whites who don’t take their bravado or their hurt feelings seriously? I won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer.

Jumping the Great Whitegeist: the Alt-Right Viewed from the Right

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“You guys feel like going for frozen yogurt?”

The conviction that bloviating is tantamount to action is a peculiar, late-20th century misapprehension, precisely the plush-doll American dream that Occupy Bernie and the alt-right both thought they were rejecting.

Don’t get me wrong—Richard Spencer’s incisive, he’s got pluck, and neofascism is an overdue rejoinder to the empiricist hubris, intellectual courtesanship and mercenary behaviorism of TED Talk America. But while I’m all for realism (and vigilantism) in the face of swarthy Idiocracy, the alt-right ain’t it:

I asked [Spencer] whether I, as someone who is half-Chinese but had a classical Western education, would fit within his group… “I’m a generous guy,” he told me. “If you truly identify with our people, I would not have any problem with that.” But there were genetic deal breakers. “A full-blooded African, no matter how wonderful he might be—I’m not sure that would really work.” (Graeme Wood, Atlantic Monthly, June 2017)

How’s that for “freedom of association“? I know, I know: he’s talking about membership in his own group. But this is a group that wants to impose the same separation, involuntarily, on society at large. The pompousness here is far worse than the crudeness. It may be half-joking, but it can never be more than half-serious.

Still, to its credit, until just before the election the alt-right was the last bastion of real, uncöopted social satire left in this country. I mean, what’s less relevant today than SNL? Lately the dominant, left-liberal paradigm begets only humorless ideological directives and “validation” of skin-crawling peccadillos. Like aging pop-stars, Saudi oil-wells and boomer entitlements, the brick-and-mortar media is an obsolete investment being defended with increasing shamelessness:

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Even its Silicon Valley supersessionist heirs (whom you’d think would display more independence of thought, Lord knows they’ve got the requisite leverage) cling to its mid-20th century CFR ideological commitments, such that criminal syndicates that reject the premise get more leeway than political opponents who accept it:

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Under the spreading chestnut tree….

Speaking of Vice, myriad popular online outlets affect a cutting-edge veneer these days, but a good general rule is that the more lurid and higher-budget the content, the more wholly owned are its producers by the planetary managerial class. The biggest backers of Vice, for instance, are BofA, Disney, George Soros and Rupert Murdoch. This brackish scene deserves the vilest ridicule, the most acerbic satirization, but there’d be no funding for that, for the same reason nobody ever invades Switzerland. The powerless don’t leverage power—it leverages them, and all the penny-ante social media antics in the world won’t get the alt-right’s fingers unstuck from the pearly gates of the Big Time.

A lot of NPI and Radix Journal materials were deliciously subversive circa pre-Trump, when the point was to express these ideas, not just expand the audience for them. Now that the antiseptic media klieg lights have warmed the alt-right’s obligingly exposed butt cheeks, the fact can’t be concealed that vindictive, half-witted, pathos-laden language (not to mention dry, committee-meeting type knit-picking and purity spiraling about activist strategies and doctrinal purity) is rife on Counter-Currents, Radix, TRS, Red Ice and Occidental. This click-hungry humorlessness has diffused throughout the alt-right punchbowl as the imperative to justify itself to outsiders eclipses insider ribaldry.

But who expects humor from fascists? Fascism is always a sign of rigor mortis. what portends the Kali Yuga is not Jews or loose women, it is you, my alt-right friends—e.g., the inexorable pull that novelty and the allure of power exert upon the human psyche, which is why Evola’s advice was to ride the tiger, not stick your head in its mouth. (But how many alt-right personalities have really read all the authors they like to block-quote on social media?) How sad to be peddling an ethos of order, hierarchy and opposition to commercial vulgarity in the 10 cents’ admission Imagination Land of new media, only to get mere first world pushback as they traffic in ideologies that really punished thought-crime. Now that they’ve had their fifteen minutes, the little grandeur-deluded leadership will spend the rest of their lives panhandling like a one-hit wonder performing at an Indian casino: “Remember me? Just ten grand more to meet our goals this season.” Even Milo was writing interesting columns as recently as 2015, before the Twitter ban and his election-year transition to full-time attention-whoring. Spencer’s criticisms of him are apt, and blissfully unselfconscious.

So the problem with the 2016 NPI conference wasn’t the menace or poor taste of the coy sieg heiling, it was the quivering bunghole that compliments the kind of toast Spencer delivered. I mean, “Children of the Sun”? That’s what the Times was calling a Nuremberg rally? Sounds more like a Maya Angelou quote over a stock photo. Children of the fucking sun, why not “God’s Chosen People”?

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“Hail Trump! Hail our People! Hail victory!”

The fact that the bourgeois American WASP is an over-socialized, emotionally sterile cardboard cutout who masochistically enjoyed deferring this past seventy years to comparatively dysfunctional cultures that have a little more cut-loose panache than his own is as little discussed on the alt-right as Germany’s no-go zones are on MSNBC. But to suppose Trump will arrest these developments significantly is pitifully gullible optimism. As Spencer told some pie-faced yenta at Rolling Stone, “I think we’ve leveraged ourselves in an incredible way, but at some point we need to cross the Rubicon and have a footprint.” Translation: OMG, this might even lead to an internship. In a duck costume. At a mall kiosk. For (in the words of the great Marshall McLuhan) when you gaze long into the Facebook, the Facebook gazes also into you.

an embarrassment of kitsches

Your rags betray your vanity

Your rags betray your vanity

‘Multiculturalism’ suits them to perfection, conjuring up the agreeable image of a global bazaar in which exotic customs can be savored indiscriminately with no commitments required.                         —Christopher Lasch, Revolt of the Elites (1995)

The battle’s din subsides; CNN’s swarthy erstwhile good guys have all gone home to beat their wives. Skulking asthmatically through the suk between protection racket badlands a gangly, mysterious stranger with the untrimmed, languid mug of a bus bench masturbator declares the blast radius liberated as he assesses the remaining impediments to liquidation, consolidation and free love.

They should’ve given him the Qaddafi treatment.

The consummate, bloviating hail-fellow hipster who’ll pretend to know about anything and gives a shit about nothing, in each country he visits it’s the same schtick: fatuously lament the local misfortune between mouthfuls accompanied by disconcertingly age-incongruous pornographic moaning, lob an “and how does that make you feel?” or two with the narcoleptic gaze of a burnt-out psychoanalyst, then inquire primly about the timetable for Americanization. Nary a child-like denizen of these backwaters slated for development realizes they’ve lain their Sunday best before a predator, and when they slaughter their enemies with US ordnance he shudders as though Mr. Whiskers just dragged in a decapitated rodent. For chrissake, people—have a little class, will ya? I’m tryin’ ta eat over here.

Ours is an age propitious for the lily narrator who’s seen everything and experienced nothing, but once had a drink with someone who did. Let him assure you no good can come of principles, if your aim is to keep in victuals.

Regime mouthpiece Anthony Bourdain is Karl Marx’s last laugh, a typical effete and soon-to-be incontinent (but still partying) leftover of a once puerile, now senile revolution that refuses to clear the stage and—herpes notwithstanding—always has a happy ending, and endless rationalizations for prudence. Galavanting, dainty-sampling, conflating impudence with pluck under that jaunty canopy of special providence for drunkards, fools and the United States of America—where enjoyment of the finer things vindicates imperial prerogatives and televangelical lucre as surely as going slumming sends shivers down the asscrack—he never seems to tire of recounting how very much yonder humble folk meant to him. A missionary of mass-market libertinism in humanitarian guise, he combines the scolding and verbally chastened impulses of progressivism with insatiable lust for colonial spoils. A hippy-dippy paver of paradise, ever on the lookout for unsullied authenticity to add to his collection of taxidermied heads, he’s a blue-state Paula Deen with as much regard (and as much use) for the niggers as a payday lender. And he looks like a big gay squirrel.

No fewer Indians dead for today’s cowboys being bi-curious, Bourdain’s interview questions of local denizens are always lower-div clichés, three steps short of poignance and five steps beyond real engagement. In the end, I didn’t know what to do about all the poverty I saw, but I sure ate good while I felt bad about it. He’ll use your history as a prompt for glib establishment tautologies, your city as a backdrop for a trustfund odyssey journal entry, the most hackneyed stereotypes about your culture and a dozen words of your language for a thin veneer of erudition between fits of sleep apnea brought on by the dreadful exertion of deciphering your pitifully accented ESL. The jingling in his pocket plays to local mercenaries, airtime whores and the shucking bourgeois sleeper cells that furnish him obsequious Squantos and Queequegs for guides, but never to the salt of the earth, whose testimonies he’s happy to peddle wistfully through an interpreter, but who lack the truly ground-down sense of thrift and proportion his handlers have in mind for them.

One can well suppose how this sausage gets packaged—A: Hey Pepe, who’s the gringo? B: Pipe the fuck down and put on a shit eating grin, will ya? Can’t you see he’s being followed by cameras? Which are as good as apostles, or Angles of the Lord; on whose shoulders they alight separates hip from square, living from dead, but they can only lead you if you want to be led. This week, we’re here with the guy who’s been doing the thing that speaks so poignantly to the universal Us and where We’re all going…. Well why in the hell didn’t they put him on TV years before? And isn’t that universal We just the old, royal one? This isn’t a two-way street, after all. You’re telling us what to care about.

When Nir Rosen mocked Lara Logan’s rape in Cairo, it was despicable because he and she are playing the same game, only she has to play it with a twat between her legs, while he gets to take his own assignments (“Imperialism,” he told the Senate). Same isn’t true of Anderson Cooper.

In the words of another plagiarist luminary artificially accorded relevance beyond any reasonable expiration date, The times, they are a changin’: of her travels, Rebecca West gave us a thousand-odd pages devoted with desperate passion to a single area of the planet. Kerouac regurgitated his faggy soul in its tipsy entirety, little though anybody wanted it. Orwell took up arms with his hosts. Jon Stewart may’ve been a sycophant who played an iconoclast on TV, but he did it four nights a week, and even Brian Williams deserves credit for admitting he’s a phony. But Bourdain is a new low, a middlebrow parakeet, a geopolitical ambulance chaser whose every insight turns out to be precisely CNN’s vapid conventional ordure, served up in affected tones suggestive of some scintillating intellectual morsel. The world according to Anthony Bourdain is an abortion, a tree falling in the woods—an undifferentiated clump of cells that only the trend-setter, the marketing hack and the affluent solipsist’s ADHD nanosecond of consideration renders extant. And as this gas bag orbits his handlers’ parcels, he regurgitates his inch-deep cognitive intake in blithe, self-important banalities as homogenous as his digestive output.

By itself this carnivorously pontifical agenda-setting is quite unremarkable; what makes Bourdain’s every blasé pledge-drive du jour so egregious is the feigned humanity, withdrawn in the space of an Instagram share once he’s on to the next paternalistic holiday in the sun.

He checks in with the Congo to report whether anything’s changed since Conrad, and concludes that it hasn’t. Nope, still, uh… dark. Blame King Leopold, that’ll keep the heat off our sponsors! His Morocco is nothing but the footsteps of Burroughs and sundry lesser man-boy love pioneers, to whose mughrebi meanderings he devotes the entire episode. He presents the haunted ruins of Leptis Magna as a veritable oasis of civilization in the Libyan dregs; his only complaint is that the cocks have all been chiseled off the facades by Mohammedan prudes. He gives Iran the predictable recalcitrant-child treatment: thankfully, there are a handful of brave ESL speakers holding out there, dreaming of TJ Maxx and the caramel macchiato. His Lebanon is a blur of caricatures, titillating nightlife mashups juxtaposed with exotic houses of worship and gratuitous stock footage of multi-confessional war dead. The feminism of Beirut literata Joumana Haddad in Parts Unknown is reduced to little more than…. parts unknown, the unemployed forbidden fruit of some deposed oriental despot’s harem, all lipstick and leggings and horridly uncouth death threats from jealous cleric cousins lurking somewhere off-camera. When he temerously characterizes the country’s deadly fissures as hip vibrance, she asks whether his lurid enthrallment has anything to do with the fact he’s just visiting, and the piece of shit deflects by asking “Am I not supposed to love this place?” Well you’d better ask it first, Tony. This isn’t the gay princess cruise you take it for. Where Flaubert got off light with syphilis, today they might pull your fucking fingernails out with a pair of pliers. (Now that I’d tune in for!)

Apparently monolingual (his copy-hacks don’t seem to realize raconteur is French for blowhard, anyway), Bourdain’s every encounter is a one-way street. Each new attempt to relate to those foreign “friends” he so self-servingly calls upon is terribly awkward to behold, even when he’s visiting English-speaking realms. But friends these guilelessly hospitable or attention-whoring dupes undoubtedly are, in the same sense that vile showbiz backstabbers are so adept at namedropping and mutual exploitation. His every word and gesture is smoke. Anthony Bourdain has Muslim friends the way Donald Trump does. He’s got as much chance of breaking bread with the locals unaided by fixers and coming away in one piece as the camel has with a needle’s eye. Underneath the mealy ideals is a sugar daddy impresario indulging crimson fetishes on the cheap as he moralizes behind hired protection. And did I mention he looks like a big gay squirrel?

A Profoundly Evil Man

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“This next cat flew in all the way from the Hamptons, please give him a warm welcome….”

Part one here

More post-election fools-gold profundity this week as Jon Stewart’s artificial-relevance tour continues:

I think one of the lessons of this book and what we’re talking about is to put satire and culture in its proper place, that controlling a culture is not the same as power. And that while we were all passing around really remarkably eviscerating videos of the Tea Party ― that we had all made great fun of ― [they were] sitting off a highway at a Friendly’s taking over a local school board. And the lesson there is, as much as I love what we did…there is a self-satisfaction there that is unwarranted, unearned, and not useful.

Since when do Jon Stewart’s ilk have to earn self-satisfaction? But the local Friendly’s, there’s the locus of power, not Viacom or the White House, where during Obama’s tenure Stewart was a regular and, at the time, secret guest. This flag-draped charlatan’s disdain for the world of Rockwell’s Four Freedoms is palpable. If controlling a culture is not the same as power, can any amount of power ever be enough?

Ah, but there is a silver lining (via HuffPo):

‘Not everybody that voted for Trump is a racist, I don’t give a fuck what any of you say to me. You can yell it at me, you can tweet it at me. They’re not all racists. Or they’re not giving tacit support to a racist system … We all give tacit support to exploitative systems as long as they don’t affect us that badly.’

[Stewart] brought up a conversation with another person who argued that ‘by saying that [Trump supporters] are not all racists, [he’s] giving tacit support to a man of racist language.’ Stewart then pointed out that many Americans are complicit in exploitative and damaging systems, asking the person to pull out his iPhone. ‘I was like, Guess how those are made, guess who makes them?’ Stewart said. ‘Oh yeah, but that’s …. It’s not different, we all do that. All of our shit stinks and getting beyond that takes incredible work.’

Incredible work,” Jeezus, don’t sell yourself short there, Jon. How much is this fifty minutes going to cost me? These remarks aren’t observations, they’re machinations, an effete struggle session. Power is always selectively moral, at least in China the proletariat keeps its mouth shut. So if a professional moralizer can get past his complicity in sweatshop slavery, what hope is there for those recalcitrant rubes down at Friendly’s?

Shrunken Heads

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Sharing is caring

Appreciation for Thanksgiving turkeys

Ulterior horizons, perfunctory well-wishes

They’d watch you be gutted like it was on TV

and wonder about the giblets

There’re no limits to what’s impersonal

Quid pro quo, exsanguinated

The serpent points the way to knowledge

that people are coin operated

Big, open, sensationless pudding-vaginas

contriving stratagems for service opportunities

Need a light there, pal? Lemme get that for ya

Thin-surfaced canned food-drive communities

Conversion therapy

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“Please, Rick! You have to let me help you!”

“That particular combination of arrogance and timidity sets my teeth on edge.” (Orson Welles)

The art of the con is all about abstracting the mark’s perception so that he no longer answers to his gut. America may not be the apex of civilization, but it is definitely the apex of the con, where the backbiting, eyeless-smile real estate lady posts schlock bible verses on social media, and the seed-eating yogi is liable to suffer a rage-induced aneurysm over a stolen parking spot at Trader Joe’s.

Jon Stewart is one of the more poignant exponents of this dissociation. Here he is this week with Charlie Rose, holding forth on the recent presidential election:

….America is not natural. Natural is tribal. We’re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and history to create something that no one ever [has]. That is what is exceptional about America. This ain’t easy and that’s an incredible thing.

Did you catch that? We’re fighting against nature, human nature. Who among us can instruct men to transcend this mortal coil? Let he who is without humanity cast the first instruction. But the point Stewart wanted to make was that we (meaning, the appointed) should not stereotype Trump voters any more than “we” would Muslims or others. The earnest liberal’s moment of clarity is always another defense mechanism. Of course a figure like Stewart has something conciliatory to say all of the sudden. Ass-licker that he is, how could he stay relevant otherwise?

Obviously, “Trump voters”=nominally Christian Anglo-Saxons, the erstwhile national stock—those of them who aren’t left-wing, anyway. In Stewart’s worldview we are to refrain with few exceptions from critical discussion of the group characteristics of almost every other category of people. But Stewart isn’t suggesting “we” admit whites to the illusory hearthside of this exemption, no no no: he’s merely calling for a tempering of the critique, a strategic retreat. Stewart’s snide diagnostician’s schtick has always been to call for dispassion and in this, he’s as wise as his admirers say. Indeed, the depths of the inmate’s psyche must be plumbed, its mysteries penetrated, so as to determine upon the proper course of further treatment.

Bad Hair Day

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It was a simpler time

Progressive friends assure me that the right-wing corporate media elected Donald Trump. ‘Right-wing media’! Are they blind? But I think I understand their misapprehension: Bernie Sanders was derided as populist and utopian, ergo economic justice is not a priority of an intelligentsia long complicit in both neocon wars and neoliberal predations. But the intelligentsia isn’t merely corporatist and interventionist, it is maximally sexually libertine, and racially divisive. Should this not give the earnest liberal pause?

In Hebrew we have a phrase, avoda b’ayinaim, which means something like ‘brazen deceit’ or, ‘unconcealed legerdemain.’ Sweatshop lords sponsor anti-racist celebrity PSAs…. a 21st-century Guernica is rationalized in liberal quarters as humanitarianism…. a soilent-green corporatocracy champions a thing it calls ‘diversity,’ except when it doesn’t. Foreign aid and international lending are tied to the actual promotion of eugenics and sexual libertinism.

Far be it from me to credit musty old fables with prescience—ones that aggregate scientific hubris with multiculturalism and characterize sodomy and usury as aggressions deleterious to spiritual and societal hygiene—but some of us are starting to notice a pattern. In light of the chilling reality of ideological enforcement—an exclusively leftist speciality, at least nowadays—even I got fingerfucked into voting, and now feel eerily ambivalent and a tad greasy, as well I ought to. Donald Trump is a symptom, not an antidote, and clearly not the director of the show we’ve just seen, but a faux-paleocon, an exploiter of the working class and very probably a child-rapist, who will expand the police state and the war machine. That his butt-smoke showman’s bombast about ‘disasterous trade deals’ and ‘international bankers’ is what got him elected should indicate not what we can hope for from his administration, but how the system switches gears when it’s so far gone in terms of legitimacy. ‘What an stunner! Who could’ve seen it coming?’ Avoda b’ayinaim.

Trump’s wannabe greaser-pimp noblesse oblige—his periodic sympathetic gesture to the bellhop or the garbageman—is razor thin, but it’s precisely the bellhop and the garbageman who will now be savaged by the intelligentsia, permeated as it is by dread of the peasantry it presumes to know what’s best for. Though historically the left’s concerns are proletarian, lately it transpires that these can be assuaged very effectively with butt-smoke moral rectitude, little-man hip-hop flights of fancy or Whole Foods and gay TV characters. Joe Dirt, on the other hand, is armed—a bone in the system’s throat no hat-passing Bernie or OWS stink-in can hold a candle to. He needed placating this inauspicious autumn with #MAGA the way his counterpart in a Subaru needed ‘hope and change,’ eight summers and a thousand years ago.

Camile Paglia put it this way:

People want change and they’re sick of the establishment — so you get this great popular surge… If Trump wins it will be an amazing moment of change because it would destroy the power structure of the Republican party, the power structure of the Democratic party and destroy the power of the media. It would be an incredible release of energy… at a moment of international tension and crisis.

That the power of the establishment could be detonated so blithely is a woeful delusion from so normally prescient a commentator, but Paglia was correct about one thing: there has now been an incredible exorcise of energy, precisely the narcotic catharsis a mark needs to go on being conned.