Dé Máirt, Eanáir 25, 2011

Journeying To the Black Realms of the Human Soul With Stuart Little: Part 1

"When Mrs. Frederick C. Little's second son arrived, everybody noticed that he was not much bigger than a mouse. The truth of the matter was, the baby looked like a mouse in every way"

Thus begins E.B. White's psychosocialsexual nightmare of a novel, and it's never suggested that little Stuart doesn't arrive 'in the usual way' to paraphrase Harry Chapin. The logical assumption for a reader to make is that Stuart is in fact a sentient mouse physically born to a human mother, and of course there's only one obvious explanation for how this occured. How then does Stuart's 'father', old Fred Little himself, deal with such extreme humiliation? Certainly it's painful enough for a wife to be unfaithful with some virile young pool boy or old flame from college, but a mouse? (Surely EB White could have named this poor cuckold something a bit more settle than 'Mr. Little'.)

As a matter of fact, the way that the senior Little responds to his wife's infidelety is seemingly to not do so at all. He makes an outward show of accepting this mouseman as his own son and raising him as such. Yet just beneath this show of acquiescence we see Fred taking several small passive-aggresive measures of revenge. He subjects the mousechild to aural torture under the pretext of holding up a faulty piano key. (Stuart, perhaps showing signs of self-loathing brought about by his 'father's' barely concealed hatred, is said to 'like all the same') And then there's this seemingly off-hand comment made at the end of chapter 2.

"' After all he does look a good deal like a mouse,' said Mr. Little to his wife. 'And I've never seen a mouse yet that didn't like to go into a hole.'"
'And neither have you you besitial whore' is the obvious implication here.

Most telling of all though is the scene near the very beginning of the story, in which Mrs. Little drops her wedding ring down a bathtub drain. And Frederick, after watching his wife make several futile attempts at fishing the ring out with a bent hairpin, casually sends his supposed son on a dangerous mission to retrieve the ring himself.
Let us elaborate further what is going on here. The bathtub drain is described as 'slimy', and since Mr. Little has just bathed himself, it's reasonible to conclude here that much of this 'slime' is in fact his very own body filth. So here we have the wife, dropping the symbol of wedding vows we know she has violated into what can be accurately described as a corrupted, dirty canal. Yet at the same time much of the foulness of this drain has just been washed off of Frederick's own body. He then ties Stuart to a string and sends him down the drain to retrieve the ring himself, which the eagar-to please mousechild dutifully does. So when Stuart and the ring emerge out of the canal into the light the author makes it clear that both are now covered in 'Fred's slime'. This is clearly an attempt by the senior Little to restore his marraige and rechristian Stuart as his own true son after the fact. But erstatz ritual can never take away his sense of inadequacy and betrayal, and his indirect manner of dealing with these feelings can be nothing but slow poison to both his family and himself.

In summing up the opening chapters of 'Stuart Little' (the origins of Stuart himself and Fred Little's cryptic yet still malevolent reaction), I can not help but notice some very clear parallels to the biblical Nativity story. My own theory is that White intended 'Stuart Little' at least partly as a savage parody of the birth of Christ and an oblique denunciation of Christianity itself. Fred Little is of course Joseph, the bizzarely sanguine accidental stepfather. Yet what does it mean for Jehovah to be paired with a mouse? My guess here is that this is White's way of saying that Fred Little/Joseph is not the only victim of emasculation here, that the birth of marked a sudden change from the harsh warrior-God of the Old Testament to a decidedly softer and more effeminate diety, and I fear that the manner in which the animal/human hybrid Stuart evokes old Greek myths may be intended as a hidden dog-whistle call for some kind of fascist/warrior ethos.

Whatever the case may be, there are many other dark themes appearing in this novel that must be examined, and shall be examined by yours trully in due time.

Dé Luain, Eanáir 24, 2011

Chh Ching


Dé Domhnaigh, Eanáir 23, 2011

Saw A Couple of Falcons This Weekend

One was casually resting on a chain-link fence with a dead robin in its left talons, looking at through and past me as it scanned the street-level for whatever. It's one of those things that's perhaps interesting only in the sense that it's something one will probably see only once or twice in one's life. I mean it's weird that a raptor would even bother hunting over a town, let alone successfully. Songbirds and rodents have so many advantages in the city, so many trees and houses for cover. And it's something I feel oddly special somehow for witnessing.

Déardaoin, Eanáir 20, 2011

A Quick Note on Tunisia

KAMEL RIAHI's op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times, describing his and his family's experience in the current uprising there, is profoundly moving, describing on the one hand the sincere thrill that comes from the sudden realistic hope for liberty, and the horror of social chaos on the other. Riahi is a professional writer, and it should go without saying that those who express themselves for a living have, in addition to the basic needs of human dignity that demand liberty, the most to materially gain from a free environement. Yet the true force of his article comes from the way he observes that he, his wife, or his child may be killed by any faction at any time for any or no reason. The matter-of fact way he describes this reality, (in the manner of a Seattle man taking an umbrella with him on a clear day, because you never know,)should act as a stern rebuke to anyone who romanticises political strife or struggle, anyone who seeks psuedo immortality by subsuming themselves into a great cause and denying the frailties of human life; the universality of suffering, futile love, and unattainible hope that is the true bond of loyalty between us all.

Good luck to these Tunisians and whatever neighbors of theirs may be inspired by their example to fight for their humanity. And do keep in mind that force of numbers is obviously your biggest strength; so, these cases of people burning themselves alive are really counterproductive, to say the least. This is a battle for life, wouldn't you agree?

Dé Máirt, Eanáir 18, 2011

The Penis Full of Assholes: Year Two of The Chamberless Chamber:

Senator Tony fulton has introduced a bill banning the prescription of the 'abortion drug' RU486, via teleconference. This is a service that has been used by some women in rural Iowa, and Fulton, you see, is concerned that there are safety issues involved in the doctor not being there to give the prescription in person. He emphasizes over and over again that he is only concerned, in his words, for the safety of the MOTHER. Never mind that this scenario necessarily requires the women in question making it quite clear that they don't want to be mothers. These are women after all, and the fact that God put them here to produce men isn't for them to decide. But again, this sacred truth is neither here nor there. It's about safety you see. It is absolutely essential to the safety of the fuckmaid/man factory that the doctor be there in person, and not on the phone, for the following exchange.

Woman: I'm pregnant and don't want to be.
Dr: Oh, well, here's a prescription for RU486.
Woman: Ok thanks bye.

You can see from this example that the safety of the MOTHER would be in dire peril if this exchange was done over video or teleconference because, because........., because the truth is whatever Real Christian Americans will it to be, how many times do we have to tell you?

There is the fact that the bill allows for the husband, parents, or maternal grandparents of the MOTHER to sue the doctor who does give these little Satan pills out over the phone, or even file an injunction to prevent him from performing abortions. But again, this is in no way a means of providing for legal harassment of abortion providers under blatantly contrived pretexts. (Though what would be wrong if it was anyway? Just imagine that you're a husband in this situation. How would old Chris Columbus feel if the Savages simply pulled his flag out out of the sand and tossed it back into the drink?) It's simply about ensuring the safety of insolent sluts who WILL be Mothers goddamnit. And Senator Tony Fulton is in no way a slimy shithouse rat.

In other news, Governor Heineman has apparently taken issue with former Lincoln Mayor Don Wesely's work with a unicam lobbying firm. Apparently the governor shares my own and many others' concerns about former politicians going into the lobbying business and the corrupting influence this may have on.....

No wait, he was only mad that Wesely was representing the Humane Society for a time. You see the HSUS has caused a small stir in Nebraska recently by suggesting farmers might perhaps consider improving the conditions of farm animals; and by extension this required suggesting that not only is it possible for farmers to cause their animals to suffer needlessly, but also that it's possible for farmers to commit moral error at all. This is wrong you see, because farmers are nothing more then hard-working, salt-of the earth people trying to make a living; and also vastly superior to us decadent surfs living in town and far beyond our scrutiny.

"no Nebraskan should be working for the HSUS." says the gov. And remember, you are not legally allowed to eat in this state until you have paid homage in your particular trade wares to your local manor lord.

No It Isn't and you Know it you Mendacious Bastards

WASHINGTON - A DC based organization of black conservatives is calling for an end to all public funding for National Pubic Radio after a Hispanic commentator used the term "gringos" in a reference to white people in connection with the shootings in Arizona that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords severely wounded.

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie told 630 WMAL that gringo "is the equivalent in the minds of many, to white people, as the "N" word is to blacks."


Dé Domhnaigh, Eanáir 16, 2011

So: Miss America is Nebraskan

Gering girl, plans on going into politics, and since she plans on going to Patrick Henry College in Virginia, a well-known conservative ecole, there's no need to guess what side of the line she'll be working for. Still there's nothing innately wrong with beauty queens going into politics. The old stereotype of the ditz with nothing under the tierra has always been nonsense. You'll find the same range of intelligence among pageant girls as you'll find in any random segment of the population. They just have an unusually strong drive to be noticed and admired by strangers is all, so the only mystery is why there aren't more beauty queens going into politics or planning to. It's a natural transition, and the Sarah Palin comparision is obvious. Here's another attractive lady bound to make a nice career for herself by flattering her Native stretch of White rural America's moral vanity. How far she goes with this schtick, if anywhere, well there's really no point in even guessing now. The only thing we can pin down for certain is that yes, there are in fact still beauty pagents out there. How about that?

Déardaoin, Eanáir 13, 2011

Dé Máirt, Eanáir 11, 2011

CFB Final Top 25

1. Auburn
2. TCU
3. Ohio State
4. Oregon
5. Stanford
6. Oklahoma
7. LSU
8. Nevada
9. Oklahoma State
10 Wisconsin
11 Alabama
12 Michigan State
13 Boise State
14 Virginia Tech
15 Arkansas
16 Florida State
17 Nebraska
18 Missouri
19 Mississippi State
20 Texas A&M
21 South Carolina
22 Utah
23 NC State
24 Central Florida
25 West Virginia



Dé Luain, Eanáir 10, 2011

Bare Assertion Fallacy 101

"Any call to cool 'inflammatory' speech is a call to police all speech,"
Jack Shafer

Right, just like any preference for salad over hot wings is neccessarily the act of a revolutionary vegitarian.

Dé Domhnaigh, Eanáir 09, 2011

The Shooting

"If you're able to create one new currency then you're able to create a second new currency. If you're able to create second new currency then you're able to create third new currency. You create one currency. Thus, you're able to create third new currency."

"If I teach a mentally capable 8-year old for twenty consecutive minutes to replace an alphabet letter with a new letter and pronunciation then the mentally capable 8-year old writes and pronounces the new letter and pronunciation that's replacing an alphabet letter in 20 consecutive minutes."
-Jared Lee Loughner

Let's be clear, if the above statements strike you as obviously leftist or rightist in character, and serves as proof of how wicked and dangerous those people are; well you're wrong I suppose, and more to the point why the hell are you thinking in such terms when a nine year old girl is dead?

There is to be sure some elements of Loughners thoughts that vaguely echo the borderline mainstream of political discourse; dumb ideas held by otherwise sane people; and these elements could be construed as sort of libertarianish. Apparently everyone has the right to their own currency, and your can even have two or three just for yourself, but only if it's backed by gold or silver. 'Federalist laws', (we may be assured that however he defines 'federalist' is total dada.) are treasonous somehow, and a universal standard form of written English is apparently, really bad, or maybe really good, or neither.

It also should be obvious that the mad are just as human and therefore social as the rest of us. And they are bound to be influenced by their social environments in ways that are both different from and perfectly similar to how sane people are influenced. It's no coincidence that Lincoln's own Chrisma Woman, cursed by schizophrenia to think that strangers are always out to get her, obsesses over Muslims and Chinese, two of the most popular targets for better hinged xenophobes.

And finally it is likely that Loughner was driven to kill by the same basic motives that lead perfectly sane people into believing stupid things and committing atrocities in the name of their beliefs; the desire for a fantastic, 'strong' morality of cosmic struggle and triumph over an earthly morality of vulnerable compassion and humility.

This is the mindset of the fanatic; left, right, or miscellaneous. And though the American right has been far more guilty than the left of this sort of fantastic zealotry, drawing in those who feel insecure about their masculinity or loss of social predominance with the claim that politics, along with every question in every other moral and philosophical realm, is a war; and that goodness is not instilled by living and practicing goodness but by fighting for and defending it, imposing it upon the wicked through force. It may be that the 'heated rhetoric' that naturally comes with such a mindset may have influenced Loughner's actions in some way, but it is dishonest to state this as fact. And posters on lefty blogs who angrily insist that the Tea Party or Sarah Palin indisputably have blood on their hands are only infected with a different strain of the same true believer status as they are.

We'll find out more about this Loughner, or not, whether he acted alone or with someone else, or not, whether he was involved with any movement that has a recognizable place on the right/left spectrum, or not. None of this means a thing compared to the six people who are dead and the congresswoman who may or may not join them. Get over yourselves.

Dé hAoine, Eanáir 07, 2011

Don't Worry Mr. King

I would never be so bold as to question your or your party's mendacity.


Meanwhile, at Pandagon: Or, Strict Constructionalism is so Funny it Makes You Cry


Amanda Marcotte brilliantly tears apart Antonin Scalia and the whole fraudulent voodoo of 'constitutional originalism' from her own feminist perspective. Scalia has recently written an opinion, in his typical impossibly self-assured style, stating that the fourteenth amendment wasn't meant to apply to women. This in spite of the fact that, well;

" All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The above quote is the original text, the only text there is or ever has been of the fourteenth amendment, section one. You can see for yourself that when the original authors, while originating this law, were faced with choosing between the word 'persons' or the word 'men', chose of their own original accord to use the word 'persons'. And yes, the English language did have words to distinguish gender back then, in case you were wondering. Benjamin Franklin invented them. So that isn't an issue here. Scalia however, thanks to his manfully disciplined originalism, knows the minds of writers who have been dead for at least a century better than they themselves knew their own minds while alive. It's not some namby-pamby theory of his that they wrote 'persons' when they really meant to say 'men'. He knows that they only wrote persons instead of men by mistake.

The money quote from Marcotte:
Scalia’s “'I can read the minds of people in the past without knowing my history” act is getting really old. Can we just stop pretending he’s some great legal mind? He doesn’t even know how to read the word persons'”.

This latest opinion by Scalia is just a particularly obvious example of how 'originalism', 'strict constructionalism', or whatever you ant to call it, is not, and was never meant to be, an intellectually honest system of legal thought. Its only purpose is to provide pseudo-intellectual cover for denying the civil rights of people we don't like. Its the legal equivalent of Randianism or some other libertarian claptrap. Libertarianism and originalism are both philosophies for those who are torn between their own supremicist mindsets on the one hand and a social environment that teaches them that they must love 'freedom' on the other. And so libertarianism and originalism were both cooked up by feverish minds scrambling to produce anti-egalitarian theories of liberty. This is of course impossible, and will always lead to blatant absurdities presented as sacred universal truths.

And as is usually the case with true believers of any sort, is is the claims to universality, to ownership of truth and normality, that makes the strict constructionalists especially irritating. Their claims that this crystal-ball act of theirs was the standard legal consensus before activist judges suddenly popped up sometime in the 1950's are objectively false, and the misogyny and racism lying behind such claims are obvious. This latest Republican vaudeville act of reading the Constitution out loud on the House floor is meant to imply that the originalist interpretation is the obvious one to anyone who truly knows what the Constitution says, and that disagreement with origionalism is in itself outrageously radical.

This sort of visually aggressive moral certainty is always a sign of weakness. It is either the posture of one who knows himself to be full of shit or the defensive reflex of one who is so wrapped up in beleiving what he's supposed to believe that any call for scrutiny feels like a physical attack. The trouble for Republicans and their authoritarian ilk is that this country actually is slowly becoming better educated and less bigoted in spite of their best efforts. So we'll see how long they continue to make hay out of these tired displays of righteousness.

Déardaoin, Eanáir 06, 2011

Quick Thought on Judgement

When I was a teenager I would get offended by claims that 'we shouldn't judge others'. It struck me as PC nonsense, back in the days before I realized that complaints of political correctness were themselves the nonsense claims of those who confused dickishness for courage. And I myself was one of many who confused non-judgment with weakness and amorality. How could one possibly believe anything at all without passing judgment on personal traits and behaviors that one found objectionable.

As I've grown older I've come to realize that 'you shouldn't judge' isn't quite literal, it's more of a simplification for minds that may not be mature enough to grasp the nuances of its truth, it is indeed a perfectly valid and necessary moral tenant. The problem that the statement is meant to condemn isn't judgment or condemnation per se. Obviously we can't help but to assess the actions of others as either generally right or wrong. The problem is the notion that our own assessment of what others do is the ultimate point behind what they do; the half-conscious feeling that bad behavior exists for the purpose of showing us why such behavior is wrong and making us feel good about ourselves for not doing it.

But morality isn't about being rewarded for doing right and punished for doing wrong; neither at the physical, emotional or spiritual level. Morality is only about doing what is right or wrong, period. When there is a person who is suffering at least partially because of some foolishness he brought upon himself and now needs help getting out, then the fact that he is a bad person who did wrong is always secondary to the fact that he is a suffering person who needs help.

This is what was so pernicious about that old witch Dr. Laura, and to a lesser extent what continues to be wrong with daytime talk shows and reality TV to this day. Say there's a teenage girl you know, either in your extended family or maybe the daughter of a friend, who suddenly finds yourself pregnant by some dull mook who couldn't raise a rock. You'd be disappointed in the girl, and probably tell her so, but you wouldn't browbeat her, because that obviously would do nothing to improve the situation, and the fact that this person you know and care about was reckless is simply unimportant compared to the question of how you can help. Obviously this same girl wouldn't get the slightest bit of help from the likes of Dr. Laura or Jerry Springer. The entire purpose of such shows is to turn the failings of flesh-and-blood people who suffer and are loved into abstractions. They are now morality fables, enduring the hosts verbal abuse so that the audience can feel assured of their own goodness, so that the suburban megachurch crowd that made up Dr. Laura's audience can reassure themselves that they are the only people on earth not covered in filth and that society would be lost without their control of it.

It was a George Will column I read today that made me think of all this. He reviews a book about America's 'loss of self-control' and dwells a bit on the obesity problem in the lower classes. It bothered me greatly, the way this leading light of the 'taxing the rich is the ultimate evil' crowd was reproaching the little people for their lack of austerity.

Environmental stimuli and our genetic inheritances circumscribe self-control, but Akst insists that we are not merely fleshy robots responding to them. Skepticism about free will has, however, become convenient and soothing, because exculpatory behaviors once considered signs of bad character have been drained of moral taint by being medicalized as "addictions."

This of course is a false dichotomy. To describe a bad habit as an addiction does nothing to excuse the addict from moral culpability, and I think that deep down George Will probably knows this full well. His real problem is that he resents any hint of a suggestion that he should feel pity for the weak and addicted instead of feeling superior to them, and this resentment is what the Right's imaginary war between 'personal responsibility' and 'blaming society' has always been about. Whatsoever you do for the least or my people might make your hands dirty.

Dé Domhnaigh, Eanáir 02, 2011

Chick Still At It, and Still Has it.

Read 'The Uninvited' and revel in the hip retro assertions that all AIDS victims are gay. http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/1070/1070_01.asp