Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Homage to a Dream

“Many of the normal motives – snobbishness, money grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.- had simply ceased to exist. …. The ordinary class division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as master…..However much one cursed at the time, one realized afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word ‘camerade’ stood for cameradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality….. For the Spanish militias while they lasted were a sort of microcosom of a classless society. In that community where no one was on the make, where there was a shortage of everything, but no privilege, no boot licking, one got perhaps, a crude foretaste of what the opening stages of Socialism might be like.”

George Orwell
“Homage to Catalonia” 1952
P 104-105

Saturday, February 9, 2008


“He who stands aloof runs the risk of believing himself better than others and misusing his critique of society as an ideology for his private interest. While he gropingly forms his own life in the frail image of a true existence, he should never forget its frailty, nor how little the image is a substitute for real life…..the detached observer is as much entangled as the active participant; the only advantage of the former is his insight into his entanglement, and the infinitesimal freedom that lies in knowledge as such. His own distance from business at large is a luxury which only that business confers. That is why the very withdrawal bears features of that which it negates. It is forced to develop a coldness indistinguishable from that of the bourgeois”

Theodor Adorno
“Minima Moralia: Reflections On a Damaged Life’ 1951
Part One 1944 P. 26
Trans. E.F.N. Jephcott

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Exodus 16:11-17
And the Lord said to Moses: "I have heard the murmurings of the Isrealites. Speak to them saying 'At twilight you shall eat meat and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.' "And it happened in the evening that the quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. And the layer of dew lifted, and look, on the surface of the wilderness -stuff fine, flakey, fine as frost on the ground. And the Isrealites saw and said to each other, "Man hu, What is it? " for they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread that the Lord has given you as food. This is the thing that the Lord has charged: "Gather from it each man according to what he must eat, an omer to a head, the number of persons among you, each man for those in his tent you shall take.' " And the Isrealites did thus, and they gathered, some more,some less.

16: 19-21
And Moses said to them " let no man leave over from it till morning." But they did not heed Moses and some men left over from it till morning, and it bred worms and stank, and Moses was furious with them. And they gathered it morning after morning every man according to what he must eat, and when the sun grew hot, it melted.

Translated By Robert Alter

Monday, September 17, 2007

"Europe Central" William T. Vollmann


From “Europe Central”
Chapter title Opus 110

“In 1946... Comrade Zhdanov .. announced to the Leningrad Union of Soviet writers: Leninism proceeds from the fact that our literature cannot be politically indifferent, cannot be "art for art's sake". They got quiet then; they knew what was coming. In truth the only wonder was that it hadn't come sooner... Folding his arms across his massive breast like one of our KV tanks, Comrade Zhdanov forthwith demanded that there be no further deviation from the task at hand on the literary front - namely to create art to light the way with a searchlight.

P 625
(Shostakovich encountering Rabbi Luria in a dream)

Somehow he knew this individual was Comrade Luria and that Comrade Luria was angry with him.

"Because you betrayed us all with that facile Seventh Symphony which wears its meaning on its chest like an idiotic medal…"
"Well, well, well, then I must beg you to forgive me, replied Shostakovich, almost asphyxiated by dreaming dread. You see I wanted to inspire people, and- well I mean to say I though I could make myself useful-"
"Useful? Said Comrade Luria in a rage. You know all to well that utility’s the merest pimp for whom true art gets prostituted! Moreover…. He took a step closer. Shostakovich trembled. …Moreover, It’s high time we talked about form. Another step. And now Shostavovich was touched by the odor of burned hair.
I’m sure you’ve noticed, continued Comrade Luria, how much aestheticians like to prate about the impotence of form without content or content without form. But in music, perfect form and content together can remain as stillborn as a law without the seal of Heaven upon it. There has to be emotion….
"Excuse me, excuse me; but isn’t emotion the same as, er, content in this case? Naturally I understand that it is not equivalent to form no matter what our social realists preach. For example in the right hands an allegro in a major key can convey anything, not just happiness –
"Exactly, said Comrade Luria, taking another step.
"……Thank you. But, if I may ask, what is musical content if not the feeling of the music?
Comrade Luria smiled, took three more rapid steps and touched him.
That touch! It was like entering a darkened room and suddenly getting assaulted by soft silent, hideous moths whose scales flaked off as they brushed in their dozens across nose, forehead, cheek and eyes, dryly flapping and dying, blindly disintegrating, polluting, attacking, asphyxiating. ……

Comrade Luria was a charred skeleton. Comrade Luria knowingly said: "After somebody’s been cremated (no matter weather he was living or dead), his form’s his image in your memory. His feeling, his emotional value if you will, is nothing more or less than the feeling you have when you remember him. So what is his content?
"I don’t know.
Is it a handful of ash? Demanded Comrade Luria, breathing in Shostakovich’s face that terrible breath which stank of roasted flesh.
"No, no-
What’s your content?
"I….I have no content; I’m empty.
"Then say so in your music.

P. 629, 630.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Cat's Cradle ( Bokonon's Calypsos)

"I wanted all things
To seem to make some sense,
So we could all be happy, yes,
Instead of tense.
And I made up lies
So they all fit nice
And I made this sad world
A par-a-dise"

"Cat's Cradle" p. 157 Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

King Law

"But where says some is the King of America? I'll tell you Friend,he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed theron, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING."

Thomas Paine
"Common Sense"
Published 1776

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Normality and the Crowd

"The Feminine in Fairy Tales" Marie-Louise Von Franz
"At the beginning of Nazism in Germany I was several times asked by Germans in what respect they were abnormal, for though they were unable to accept Nazism, not doing so made them doubt their own normality. Those who stuck to their instinctive reactions and in a higher sense, remained on the right path,
yet fell into misery and complete disaster. They were impressed by the collective impulse though they were right in not joining the collective movement. In that case misery fell upon people who had done the right thing."

Copyright 1972
1993 Shamballa Press Edition
Page 36