Friday, December 19, 2003

It's 19 December only once a year. Enjoy 19 December! It will take a year before it returns! Only today! Buy 19 December now! You will not regret it!
T Fjeld, my super ego, posted the following on litIds today. FYI.


Georg Johannesen, Norway's sole professor of rhetoric and the man behind

DARK TIMES -- a conversation (after Brecht)

In dark times / only the wise speak / They say: Here only a few / can be saved
In dark times / only fools sing / They sing: It's good / that the grass is green
I do not sing / I do not speak / Wise men are silent in / dark times

In dark times / I am not wise / I sing and speak / of the dark times



When you who opens my heart with a prayer / Find nothing but answers, it is due to me
When you who opens my heart with a knife / Find nothing but blood, it is due to the knife out with a new book, News about Ibsen, and has let hisself be interviewed by Dagbladet, Norway's Guardian-like daily. Reporter is Fredrik Wandrup (himself author of a biography on Jens Bjørneboe). Some highlights:

"I'm always bitter, but never angry," GJ reassures us.

Oh yeah?

When reporters ask if I'm a socially engaged poet, I answer that they're on the wrong track. It is those who write commentaries and opinions on the second and third pages of the dailies that are socially engaged poets. A newspaper is a collection of poems until the opposite is proven. VG [local Torygraph] is modern poetry on free verse in news print and in tabloid format. Dagbladet is henceforth and from tomorrow morning a daily poetry collection without metre or rhythm.

And where does Ibsen enter into the picture?

I don't want to say bad things about Henrik Ibsen. NRK [local BBC] and the Parliament compete to be considered Norway's two premier national theatres, far ahead of Henrik Ibsen and lagging somewhat behind Ludvig Holberg.

[We will cut here, and move on to GJ's estimation of specific plays by Ibsen.]

What about Emperor and Galilean [Kejser og Galilæer, one of Ibsen's early, spectacular plays, traditionally considered in somewhat bad taste]?

A magnificent piece, in a total of ten acts. Hollywood's most expensive biblical tales are preceded by the stage directions of this play. They are written as world historical news bulletins in German- Gothic ruins. Emperor Julian is a Dionysian heathen. The Empress plainly and physically detests her husband. She gets to say it before she dies from poisoning, but pregnant, with the emperor's more virile brother. She is a heathen whore. She has enough sex. The Emperor is a Holbergian cuckold.

Ibsen's later fame was due to his supposed critique of society?

His contemporary dramas aren't that interesting anymore. They have too much puritan sex. They are ladies' novels to be read aloud. Ibsen's women are horny ladies who are disregarded by their impotent husbands. Social scientists with no sense of history are pulled to the theatre by their wives to attend these plays. There they get to see how little men understand of women. [...] The play is marital pornography of uncertain use in psychiatry, but of certain use to Northern German noble ladies until 1917.

And then?

After the diaphragm and the pill the lady was privatized to her inner market. Nora shoots Helmer. Hilde shoots Master Builder Solness. Hedda Gabler has an abortion and becomes Minister of Children. Rita Allmers sells dildos to herself. Sigrid Undset claimed there were thirteen to the dozen of Hedda Gablers. She said Ibsen had prejudices against women, but that they were lovable prejudices. One would have to be old-fashioned like Ibsen to take these characters seriously. The main characters of Ibsen's contemporary dramas are often dumb. Several of them tries to be insane without really succeeding, or have turned insane without anyone noticing. The Master Builder should be performed as a farce.


When you call your book News about Ibsen, it's obviously ironic. What's new?

Everything is new, all the time. Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that you can't swim in the same river twice. Anyone who reads Ibsen again, do it anew. Everybody is an intellectual. Everybody can think. Everybody can talk. A person is a philosopher and artist interpreting the world.

The Media as well?

NRK is Norway's premier vocalist, and they broadcast The Religion of Norway, which consists of moralizing foreign policy. When I watch the 9 o'clock news I see it as a kind of witty sermon. The anchors bring out the comedian in me.


In the essay on Ibsen you ask if Jesus should have been taken off the cross and sent by air ambulance, financed from Norway, to attend family counselling in Jerusalem?

According to The Religion of Norway that could have been the correct approach. There Jesus would meet 500 poorly educated, but generously remunerated, crisis therapists who could have cured him from his self- delusion that he was a god who should save the world. Because that would have been accomplished already by Norway.

I just got to watch Frida last night. She's located in a space analogous to that of the replicants in Blade Runner. Her body is an integrated machinery (though it disagrees with her, it has betrayed her) and even has her memories produced for her (when she asks her father what she used to dream of as a child), as the replicants all share the same childhood memories: those of their manufacturer's niese.

Fine film.

Donna Haraway says: "the cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity. In a sense, the cyborg has no origin story in the Western sense."

Thursday, December 18, 2003

On 18 Dec 2003 at 11:55, Peter D. Junger wrote on litIds:

May I point out that the Buddhist position would appear to be that self-deception is possible because there is no self to deceive (and, of course, because there is no self to do the deceiving).

Funny you should mention that, as I just observed the following passage in Zizek:

When we denounce as idological the very attempt to draw a clear line of demarcation between ideology and actual reality, this inevitably seems to impose the conclusion that the only non-ideological position is to renounce the bery notion of extra-ideological reality and accept that all we are dealing with are symbolic fictions, the plurality of discursive universes, never 'reality,' we must none the less maintain the tension that keeps the CRITIQUE of ideology alive. [...] Ideology is not all; it is possible to assume a place that enables us to maintain a distance from it, but this place from which one can denounce ideology must remain empty, it cannot be occupied by any positively determined reality -- the moment we yield to this temptation we are back in ideology. (Slavoj Zizek, “The Spectre of Ideology”, The Zizek Reader, p70)

Ideology would appear to imply fixity, or sutured signification in Zizek, while it's critique may only be employed from a position of non-fixity. This is of relevance to studies of nationalism, since it would entail that it's critique can not successfully be launched from the position of foreigner, which is precisely nationalism's meaning- giving other, the point of fixity against which the nation is stabilized. It also means that a non-ideological position can never be finally arrived at, however it must [for ethical reasons?] remain a posibility as a condition for ideological critique.

It should be added that in the approach of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe it is not required to supply ethical arguments in order to enable signification's non-fixity. In their view, any articulation is constituted as any practice (linguistic and extra-linguistic) that establishes a relation among elements so as to modify their identity, or as attempt to fix floating elements as discursive moments. Since there can be no suture to this kind of social practice, there will always remain endless posibilities for different articulations of the same elements.

As Volosinov points out, the word is split.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Links in the right coloumn should be fixed now.
Managing Director Sotsim, CEO of the TRU Corporation, wrung his hands in glee. His band of lawyers had finally succeeded in placing Cardinal Mistos, deposed leader of the now-defunct EyeRak Inc, behind bars. The courts, generously sponsored by TRU's Eternal Democracy Fund, had admitted a motion that charged Mistos with Crimes Agaist Humanity, and specifically the Democratic Parts Of It. He would also be charged with Evil Terrorism and Bad Acts In General, along with a long list of Also Awful Crimes and Misdemeanors, such as drunk driving, adultery, procrastination and trafficking in Minor Pornography.

With Cardinal Mistos stored away in a prison cell in some Carribean Island, or, even better, spectacularly Hung On The Town Square, Sotsim's Enemy Numero Uno with be history. The last pockets of resistance from within the Newly Acquired Companies would wither away, and Managing Director Sotsim could introduce his final solution to the EyeRak Problem.

The Human Resources Division of TRU had estimated that it would be necessary to develop a policy on Lower-Level Employee Disposal, if TRU were to avoid future social disruptions in productivity. The Very Poorly Incomed to Extremely Poorly and Non Incomed ratio was diminishing, and, Human Resources estimated, would be in a 1:1 relation within a short time, unless the Corporation made an effort to take charge of the Problem.

Most of the suggestions offered by Human Resources entailed a significant expense on TRU's part, and Sotsim had spent many a sleepless night pondering how to design a plan that would make the Lower-Level Employees put up the cost of Solving the Problem. But this very morning he had woken up with a clear idea crystallized before his eyes. All he needed was Cardinal Mistos out of the way, and no resistance would be non-defeasible.

Managing Director Stimos called for an urgent meeting with the Members of the Marketing Division.

"The arrest of Cardinal Mistos removes the shadow hanging over our plans for the final solution the our Problem. Now we must make it clear to those people that the cause of their Low Level of Life lies with those who are Even Lower. If it hadn't been so many Really Poor People poaching on their resources, it would be more to share between fewer. Isn't that obvious to everyone?" Stimos asked rethorically.

The Members of the Marketing Division nodded their heads.

"So, to make a long story short, the problem is that there's too many Really Poor People. And the solution is To Make Less. Here's what I want you to do: Make a campaign that emphasises the problem of Reproduction among the Really Poor. Some disease or something. Get some of the Low Levels to support the campaign, and we have a winner!"

The Members of the Marketing Division nodded their heads.