Monday, May 31, 2010

Portrait of the artist as a spoiled brat

The middle class is fast being taken over by a generation so trivial, ignorant, incoherent and self-regarding they make the hippies look like sophisticates.
Unity holds no allure for Maya — she thrives on conflict, real or imagined. “I kind of want to be an outsider,” she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry. “I don’t want to make the same music, sing about the same stuff, talk about the same things. If that makes me a terrorist, then I’m a terrorist.”
(Read the whole thing.)

Something you should bear in mind: MIA's rise to fame is in no way remarkable. It was totally and utterly predictable. Something else you should bear in mind: you are responsible. You and all your idiot, shrugging friends.

And know that if you do not do your bit to change this culture, it will, eventually, flay off your skin and wear it as a baby-T to the Grammys.

(MIA's reaction to the NYT piece is further--and, I would say, damning--evidence of your appalling cowardice.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cormac McCarthy on bigger problems than getting old

I wont talk about the war neither. I was supposed to be a war hero and I lost a whole squad of men. Got decorated for it. They died and I got a medal. I dont even need to know what you think about that. There aint a day I dont remember it. Some boys I know come back they went on to school up at Austin on the GI Bill, they had hard things to say about their people. Some of em did. Called em a bunch of rednecks and all such as that. Didnt like their politics. Two generations in this country is a long time. You're talkin about the early settlers. I used to tell em that havin your wife and children killed and scalped and gutted like fish has a tendency to make some people irritable but they didnt seem to know what I was talkin about. I think the sixties in this country sobered some of em up. I hope it did. I read in papers here a while back some teachers come across a survey that was sent out back in the thirties to a number of schools around the country. Had this questionnaire about what was the problems with teachin in the schools. And they come across these forms, they'd been filled out and sent in from around the country answerin these questions. And the biggest problems they could name was things like talkin in class and runnin in the hallways. Chewin gum. Copyin homework. Things of that nature. So they got one of them forms that was blank and printed up a bunch of em and sent em back out to the same schools. Forty years later. Well, here come the answers back. Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide. So I think about that. Because a lot of the time ever when I say anything about how the world is goin to hell in a handbasket people will just sort of smile and tell me I'm gettin old. That it's one of the symptoms. But my feelin about that is that anybody that cant tell the difference between rapin and murderin people and chewin gum has got a whole lot bigger of a problem than what I've got. Forty years is not a long time neither. Maybe the next forty of it will bring some of em out from under the ether. If it aint too late.

Here a year or two back me and Loretta went to a conference in Corpus Christi and I got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other. And she kept talkin about the right wing this and the right wing that. I aint even sure what she meant by it. The people I know are mostly just common people. Common as dirt, as the sayin goes. I told her that and she looked at me funny. She thought I was sayin somethin bad about em, but of course that's a high compliment in my part of the world. She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I dont like the way this country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she'll be able to have an abortion. I'm goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she'll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.
Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hostile solitudes

On something rather tackily called Premier Christian Radio, Peter Hitchens discusses the subject of his new book, The Rage Against God, with one Adam Rutherford (a Guardian contributor, amongst other not-insignificant things). That subject being: the growing trend of what P'itchens' brother (i.e. Ch'itchens) calls "antitheism".

As with every other discussion of the subject, it begins in the confusion/conflation of American evangelicalism with the whole of present and historical Christianity (which P'itchens is quick to clarify), before the sciences of homosexuality and abortion are introduced to drive it (the discussion) into a very shallow but, apparently, very muddy ditch.

Rutherford was a poor choice of disputant for Hitchens, not for the reason that he is unintelligent or unreasonable (he's neither), but because he isn't himself an antitheist and doesn't really have much sympathy for the antitheist view. The debate, however, is worth listening to (even at 90 minutes) for its illustration of the manner in which essentially boutique enthusiasms have obtusely been turned into a revolutionary credo.

Note Hitchens' distinction between the USA and Britain, that one was designed, the other grew; his assessment of multiculturalism, that it can only lead to "the creation of hostile solitudes"; and his treatment of the 'secular' view that Christians imagine themselves to be "good" when that is precisely the opposite of the case. (Re. this last point: I think I explained it rather succinctly here.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Culture Wars: Episode V - The Religious Right Strikes Back

An event that has always gone almost completely unreported-- and which had nearly identical attendance numbers last year--all of a sudden finds itself being reported in the most unlikely places.

Oh baby! The Star's on board for the Culture Wars!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flogging a dead culture war

Don Martin loves gobbling up horse-shit and, man, he's fed himself to the teeth today:
For mainstream voters eyeing Stephen Harper amid the faltering fortunes of the federal Liberals, The Armageddon Factor, a look at rising Christian nationalism in Canada by political observer Marci McDonald, is likely the one book this Prime Minister doesn’t want you to read.


McDonald argues the important wall between religion and federal politics has become so porous it’s crumbling.

If this budding culture war flattens the Liberals in the next election, perhaps her book is a glimpse at the operating manual of a majority Conservative government.


"This budding culture war"? As described by a woman who pretends to stand above the American cultural model but who--like a D-list Hollywood hack--takes every single one of her cues from it?

My God this is depressing.

Welcome to the age in which culture wars are said to be raging in the conspicuous absence of either culture or actual conflict. Welcome to the age in which a patently American-aspirational attitude manages to pawn itself off as the expression of traditional Canadian values. Welcome to the age in which journalists confuse the marketing of a political fashion with a story.

It blows my mind that anybody could read Marci McDonald's embarrassing little excerpt--from what promises to be an embarrassing little book--and not come away from it perplexed and a little sad that the solution she comes up with to her middle-class, middle-aged malaise is the polarisation of liberal democratic politics along the lines of the last American election. Our politics are too fiddling, too much preoccupied with differences of degree rather than kind. What we need is a Bible Belt and a Barack Obama--and the imminent threat of turning into the USA if we don't have them!

Now that's a story. Bored Canadian idiots and the ways in which they justify their trifling existences.

Culture war? What fucking culture war? Christian nationalists, you say? Christian nationalists?

These are the guys who take their scooters down to Brighton on the weekends and have big beach fights with the Secular Anarchists, yeah? I don't know ... but they kinda sound like the ultra-fringe to me.

The abortion debate was it then? We've never had one, and we're still not having it. What we are having is a bunch of hysterics saying that even entertaining the prospect of one already constitutes a war. (Which is insane, by the way.) The very few commentators willing merely to point out that an unbelievably large number of Canadians' views on abortion don't actually conform with the current (non-existent) law risk professional pariahdom if they do.

Or the same-sex marriage debate? What, you mean the one where the people who had no trouble with the concept of civil union, but who thought calling it marriage was legally too tricky, are now referred to with the greatest of ease as homophobes, knuckle-draggers, bigots?

No. Whatever "culture war" there might have been, it exists now only in the last gasps of attrition, and in the lumpen bourgeois' fantasies about his anachronistic activism. (Recall, please, Frank Graves' crayon-stroke illustration of the divide: "Cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy." Yes, Frank, and Galileo versus the Inquisition, Allies versus Axis, Skywalker versus Vader.)

Culture war my ass. This is a story about the sort of people who would pretend that such a conflict does (or could) exist where it doesn't (and couldn't) for reasons either of cynical political advantage or existential boredom.

Friday, May 07, 2010

What's he(mg) listening to?

Just Shoreditch hipsters. Love the music, hate yourself: Robots in Disguise.