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How To Find Mimetic Relief Under A Regime With No Aesthetic?
any of us have survived these last Dark Years, knowingly or not, relying on mimesis. This concept was brought home to the Stiftung by a fascinating essay by Russian art critic Victor Tupitsyn, reviewing “Art and Propoganda” in the Summer issue of “Art Forum” (the Stiftung reads it soley for the auto reviews, of course). It is not yet online or I would link it for you.
At issue for Tupitsyn is his take of a collection “Art and Propoaganda: lLash of Nations 1930-1945” depicting how the Sovs, Italy and Germany and the U.S. (interesting omissions there) explored their political perceptions via art. He then adds the commonplace but not often dwelled upon fact that throughout the ages humanity (subjects/victims) used art to process and interpret the current authoritarian or even theological regimes around them. Hence, the truism that art indeed can be serious politics.
Here in the States, where conformity and enthusiastic compliance with regime's AgitProp disappointed but did not surprise the Stiftung, our mimetic sources were of a frankly fairly meager sort. We had the fetish of surrounding Dubya with goofy signs when he spoke, we had Scott McClelland, perhaps Rummy qualifies as a stand up art of a sort. But in truth looking back in hindsight, there was no regime aesthetic at all. None, a total void. Even the deceit was and is brazen and contemptuous, like the demon laughing knowing the Father Merrin's heart is failing and Karas has no faith. Even the ugly jersey walls initially thrown up waffled all over the map. So it fell to the opposition to create the regime's own art style through parody, and then parody that parody for the mimetic release Tupitsyn discusses. You can name them now easily, Jon Stewart et al., Lewis Black, David Letterman — by all means add your own such as the Warchowski Brothers.
The Democratic Party has fallen into another mimetic trap Tupitsyn notes. It's Americanized version as known by the folks at the swimming hole around Strawberry Point, Iowa know runs like this — “If you stare at a squinty Texan or jowly Sith Lord long enough, they begin to stare back at you”. In Greek terms, Tupitsyn reminds us well they called it pharkmakon
— then maybe screamed out “Sppppphhhaaaatans!” But an actual abyss it remiains, at least aesthetically.
, Mimetic Relief
, Bush Administration
, Jon Stewart
, Lewis Black
The absence of an understood aesthetic surrounding the Bush regime is odd - It has mish mash of derivative aspects, but for the most part it's sort of office-park neutral - contrived normal.
The overall aesthetic of the regime boosters is a misture of sarcasm, in your face falsehood, and passive aggression, running counter to Oppositional irony and aggressive/passivity.
That Buchanan quote about Charlie Black is hilarious.
Chris Wallace just fluffed Friedman as power player of the week. The nausea of seeing Friedman denying he sees himself as Thor hurling down knowledge has dimmed this morning already.
Sorry about Friedman - That must have been painful - But a great McLaughlin this week - McLaughlin had on the *very* ineffective John Podhoretz to argue the Scooter side and other stuff.
As an oppositionist - we always lament watching Russert always put weak liberals (squishy puff balls like EJ Dionne or lightweights like Gene Robinson) on his show to cheerfully lose debates with hardned right wing pundits like Boatload O'Beirn and others - It's often like those shows before the Iraq war that used to match up clever pundits who were pro war against actors and comics like J Garafalo against the war.
Russert - in a burst of unwitting and unaware self-hatred - seems to be boosting the pardon for Scooter line. (Does Russert delude himself into thinking they would do him any favors?)
So it's refreshing to see JPod on McLaughlin flailing about ineffectively - he was just mildly crushed by Buchanan and O'Donnell and EL-a -Nore.
It is odd to see the Scooter fan club still push this Armitage line - That seems like a joke and it just cues people to suspect flim flam. He is wiser to mock the suffering of Wilson-Plame - Legally that is irrelevent because the crime against Wilson-Plame was a crime against the US primarily, but its a good demagogic trick to try to blame the victim like JPod is doing - But Jpod is not good at doing it - he's not subtle or clever. Jpod is too wrapped up in his own anger, his own world - So bring it on - more Jpod
Why does Russert have Boatload O'Beirn on his show so often. Whenever she's on - during the pundit segment - she metaphorically (maybe also literally for all we know) urinates all over the table early on and establishes primate-pundit dominance and gets her points accross and undermines everyone else.
Russert - must like that. But we think Big Russ (insert vomit emoticon) would prefer that he take command and puts an end to Boatload's peeing all over the set.
Bush says the beefing up of the border can be paid for by fines and penalties of those who cross the border illegally.
Bush is not dumb - he knows that is totally BS - poor people have no money - just as Lupus Maximus knew that he was full of BS when he said the Iraq war reconstruction could be paid for by (presumably stealing) Iraqi oil.
Amazing - the arrogance that allows peope to get away with making such stupid arguments - Wolfowitz saying we can come in and destroy and nation, be greated as liberators and then get them to pay for it - Yet, he is still treated respectfully by much of DC and he was not even embrassed to be seen writting on Scooter's behalf. Small thanks for the World Bank - (“nah nah nah hey hey, good bye”
Our point - Dubya's obviously poor arguments are telling
Is Kate O'Boatload a better nickname than Boatload O'Beirn?
“I am quite certain that it would be difficult for any commission to debate more fully, to investigate more fully, to criticize more fully the policies of the United States Government than is done every night on CNN, on ABC, on CBS, on NBC and on any number of smaller channels in the United States.”
Speech to OAS 6-4-07
Condi's quotes are something else, eh?
“Scooter Libby is one of the most genuine, kind, hardworking and patriotic people I know.”
Cheney's Social Secretary
That F Lee Baily quote about the Bill of Rights is spot on - spot on! Recall the recent mocking by Republicans of the stylistically similar Geneva Commone Article 3 - You can easily imagine them mocking and being sarcastic about most of the first ten amendments - Even the 2nd amendment would run twenty pages with various qualifications and religious tests.
“[Condi] Rice's frenetic but feckless diplomacy in the Middle East has been fruitless.”
Guardian, June 2007
On Tweety tonight he had that finicky young neocon - Matt Continenti - a man very strict with the law re Abramoff - making an obnoxious argument for a Scooter pardon - Anyway - the Scooter pardon movement is a major slice of the regime aesthetic - An arrogant pre-emptory attitude to the law and a clownish indifference to reality. Those obnoxious Libbby Letters will have illustrative staying power.
Even the lazy pathetic throw away line “Armitage was the leaker,” is a reflection of a wider attitude - They know that kind of thing gets traction with a certain type of mainstream reporter who had no interest in probing the truth - think AB Stoddard or Margaret Carlson - So Gravel is the reaction.
Good point about the youngling Matt - as Connie might say about far more worthy souls, “my dear lovely boys, trained to rule the waves, [Smug, Ignorant Neocons] could be proud then . . . all gone now . . . if it's bad news George, don't come back.”
Hubris and contempt are also in the mosaic, we should let EOVP know that we have that one so they can skip to the important ones.
I love to watch Matt C. talk. So precise and well-spoken, even if he has got the wrong end of the stick.
It was an important part of the regime aesthetic that Matt C. never addressed the substance of the objections to a pardon = Nor did he try to make any sort of case - It was all 'tude, as if to say, “who are these people bothering Scooter? Enough!”
His neoconism is too stylized - a few years at Columbia will convince many mainstream liberals to think they are conservative - but in reality his bucket of Burke isn't worth as much as John Nance Garner's spit - He has no real life experience.
Send him to Ramadi - to work the Iraqi police beat.
Excellent Connie reference - she would be totally on to these clowns - but unable to deal.
What would Connie Sachs call Matt Continetti?
"George - Of George = this awful old young man - He's nothing but a FINE TOOTH COMB!"
Smiley: Hello Connie
Connie: Oh Geoge - Oh ...(drops off)
Smiley: You look like you saw a ghost ... againt.
Connie: How I wish - how I wish. Oh George, that young man - Oh
Smiley: Out with it - come on Connie.
Connie: Oh George - the young man on the tele ...
Smiley: Matthew Continetti
Connie: Yes George (eyes saddened) - He's nothing but a FINE TOOTH COMB - Oh George - we're done for.
Smiley: What did he say?
Connie: Nothing really George - Oh - it doesn't matter anymore - grab a piece of love and wait for Armegeddon
Smiley: Connie ...
Connie: Armegeddon, George.
Another aesthetic manifestation can be seen in the way the regime and it's mouthpieces address certain facts and ignore others - knowing they will get little challange from the media.
Think of Abu Mazen - Mahmoud Abbas - Our ally and Gee-Dubs/Olmert approved leader of the Palestinians.
Abu Mazen is an actual Holocaust denier - by ordinary standards of judgement - He did not just toff some skeptical remarks - It was actually the basis for his PhD dissertation. So when he is called “Doctor,” you should know that he is basically a Doctor of Holocaust denial.
Yet - people make dishonest apologies for him - They do not just say that he hold lamentable views, but must be dealt with - No, actually people lie and announce that he no longer holds his denial views - (even though he does - But says now is not the time to discuss them)
This is important - because it shows the regime does not really care if some one is a Holocaust denier - It's just a political talking point to be used against people like Ahmadinejad (who is far far less a denier than Abu Mazen)
This aesthetic of pre-emptory arrogance allows for completely transactional relationship with facts and argumenst, so as to manipulate passions.
It's important to note that Abu Mazens believes the whole thing was a hoax and what little carnage that did occur was due to Zionists - He does not just play around the edges or engage in trimmingh debates - He is a denier - thru and thru = So the next time you hear someone complain about the Iranian misfit, you should know that they really do not care one way or the other.
Incidentally - when you point out this uncomfortable set of facts about Abu Mazen to foreign policy establishment types you often get an eyerolling, arrogant, Continnettish “let's be grown ups” reply.
Basically - they just decided to pretend to like Abbas and so the put Abbas actual views down the memory hole - It's often only sincere rightists like Pipes who bring it up.
But Condi tells lies and the establishment is ok with that - Why? Because - immature assessment say Abbas is cool, so his own record of denial will be denied , while others will be exaggerated so as to confuse the simple man. Cynical.
This above illustrates the regimes aesthetic of reversal/inversal - The politics of the Middle East are tricky and people hold all sorts of terrible views - But these views are often like the shifting sand or mirages - Very few of them are grounded in substance, so you have to allow for a greater latitude of interpretation.
But with Abbas - you have a highly cultivated man - worldly, intellectual, and exposed to high education.
Common sense means - holding him to a higher standard - taking his words more seriously than you would someone like Ahmadinejad - a clever man, but a provincial man of limited education and travel.
But Condisense - reverses the common sense. They hold uneducated people like Haniya to a higher standard.
Thinkf of American politics - Often you hear some crazy Texan say some ridiculous thing on the House floor - You laugh = because you know that he's just a country guy and he has limited exposure to education - But if you hear a neocon say the same thing, you judge him harshly because you know he knows better and you suspect he's trying to manipulate the demos - You suspect insincerity. This is common sense - Everyone grades on a curve -
But in the Middle East - the worst people, with the worst views (Arab Kings and Emirs, Abbas et al) are defended and succored - while thr rif raff leaders like Ahmadinejad are judged .
Now it may be in the national interest to ignore Abbas views on such a topic - or maybe to pretend he just had them because he was under KGB supervision when he got his PhD in the former USSR - For a variety of reasons - it may be in the national interest to put that aside - But don't then pretend to care what Ahmadinejad thinks about such things - Or do pretend, if you share the regime aesthetic of holding uneducated demagogues to strict standards - while excusing the views of the elite Abbas and the whole rotton coterie of elite Arab rulers while they fund terror and Bush family libraries.
God, it kills me that Matt Continenti is on television. I had the unfortunate experience of going to college with him and seeing his op-eds in the Spectator. He was roundly viewed as one of the least intelligent, most intellectually dishonest, toady, wannabes in the entire University — quite a feat if you know Columbia. What a dipshit, or, as another op-ed writer at the Spec. would have called him, an assclown.
Continetti is nothing but a FINE TOOTH COMB!