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*Pussy Riot. Supergirl Comes to the Bodega.

“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”

— Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

“I obscenity thy obscenity.”

— Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

 

 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is attractive. Strikingly attractive, and no one is allowed to say it publicly. If she looked more like Nancy Pelosi she would be receiving half as much attention, because there would be nothing to distinguish her from any other freshly minted pol. The result of this is the creation of an inverse fetish. The fetish is of power, through vicarious projection on the part of her ardent supporters but (and this is crucial) the nature of the projection cannot be spoken of openly. The taboo is in many respects a throwback to ancient traditions in which to speak the truth is to diminish the magic of the fetish. That it is currently attached to a contemporary construction proves yet again, the consistency with which humans repeat themselves and, at their worst, learn nothing and forget nothing.

The Liberals and the Progressives will all go on the attack over this in an effort to prove that they, despite hundreds of millions of years of evolution and decades of high-intensity Orwellian thought control injected straight to their amygdales, from mass media platforms, that have conditioned them to respond to what is generally considered attractive, are immune and able to judge her, only on her intelligence. Intelligence here being, how successful she is at working the system, while maintaining the pretense that the system, though corrupt, has not corrupted her.

They will say that her looks have no baring on either her performance or their support.

In both cases they’re wrong.

Her looks will be both a help and a hindrance with the political machine and her support would be half as intense if she looked differently. The judgement here is not about her or the banality of the Fox “news” mendacity machine – it is about the hypocrisy of the media generally, and the sham and shambolic “left” specifically. It is also about honesty and the way things work.

For example, consider that as a primary focus of her appeal, is the repeated mantra that: she looks like America. This of course has two problematic if not contradictory elements. The first being, obviously that in claiming to advocate for diversity, to say she looks like America is to preclude everyone who doesn’t look that way. Secondly, and far more importantly, while the phrase is designed to express a legitimate desire for an expansion of the franchise, it is in truth a narrow, confining, projection of beauty and power. The beauty is of course subjective but it is spoken as objective because the truth that is buried in it, and which no one is allowed to state publicly, is of feminine, Latina, “left” (because she is not authentically left but a sort of New Deal 2.0 liberal, left of corrupt centrists like Pelosi) who projects authority the same way an “Afro” conjured the same symbolism in the 1960s and 1970s. But if you ask about it, you designate yourself as establishment or worse – not cool.

Recalling Norman Mailer’s scorched earth, carpet bombing, Superman Comes to the Supermarket, any honest reader will reflect that if Nixon had looked more like a hero than a sinister high school principal, with a private collection of porn, he would have had a better chance at stealing the election in 1960. Combine good looks with wit, above average intelligence, a wealthy gangster father, and a close knit cadre of Irish political thugs, and the ability to buy West Virginia, Chicago, and use LBJ’s Texas mafia to steal the election, and you have the launch of Camelot, and The New Frontier.

AOC of course did not steal anything, except a march, but if a rusty radiator of a face showed up at your front door, and said, hi I’m running for congress, you’d be less likely to listen let alone vote for her.

The counter-argument, such as it is, that Bernie Sanders, is hardly anyone’s idea of a leading man, proves that looks don’t count, is whistling past the political graveyard. The truth is that if Sanders looked more like JFK and less like Larry David, he’d have won the primary in 2016 and probably (maybe) won the general election** and the world would be better for it – at least until the powers that be (led by reactionary southern aristocrat and jackboot curious, Mitch McConnell) stalled all of his legislation in committees, and some loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires got rid of him. And make no mistake, the reason he would have won the primary, had he been better looking, is first and last because, of systemic misogyny. In other words, a man who looks like a leading man, would be given better treatment by the establishment media, than a woman, even if, or especially if, she looked more like an actress than not.

The truth is, Hoovers don’t look like Scully and Mulder. They look like plain white walls even when they’re not white. No one outside of a studio executive, wants a spook who everyone notices and everyone will remember. Oh yes officer, of course I can give you a perfect description – she looked like a movie star; she looked like Gillian Anderson and he looked like David Duchovny.

Politics, the old saying goes, is show biz for ugly folks. Take a look at the average pol and you’ll see a wounded soul forged in High School, when they realized they had two of the four ingredients that make success (in our economic gulag and socio-political thunder dome) likely:  intelligence (or cunning) and ambition, the other two (that they lacked) being looks and connections, or connections and money. Connections and money are social penicillin and are perfect for curing any number of problems.

America is and always has been a corrupt club. The government is decadent and depraved and the system that surrounds it, from the decadent and depraved, mile wide, inch deep Howard Beale media, with its 24/7 Orwellian echo chamber, mass advertising, mass education, mass culture, and the imperial sadism of a collapsing empire, combined with the panopticon of mass surveillance from both the Stasi and the corporatocracy, has created a culture that has more in common with a man coming down from an ether binge than a functioning republic.

The average politician looks like a mortician, who doesn’t have sex with corpses, because they get off paying someone else to fuck the stiffs. Look at their faces – emotions buried in the amber of perpetual compromise, and the ferocious indoor tans of crepuscular gangsters. These are people who became enraged at sixteen or seventeen, and never stopped being angry about the things that happened to them when they were worried about getting laid for the first time, and getting behind the wheel for the first time.

Consider Joe Biden’s comment that Trump was the sort of guy he’d take behind the High School gym to beat the shit out of him, for the way he talks about women.

Lost amid the sham, deflecting argument, about they go low we go high, was the far more interesting truth. Joe Biden, more Galahad than Trump’s Mordred, more Skywalker than Vader, had his sense of ethics forged in the cauldron of High School. John Kerry, preppy prince, went to High School with Robert Patriot Act Mueller, where, Kerry says, Mueller was the best athlete and the team captain. England’s wars, they used to say, were won on the playing fields of Eton. The Jam thought otherwise but the fact remains: Empires are not accidents but machines set in motion by people with murder and money in their eyes and a bible in one hand and in the other they’re clutching a gun. The schools are designed to manufacture types – Huxley had the system dead to rights – hatcheries like old Detroit assembly lines, cranking out Alphas, Betas, Omegas and Epsilons.

Amid this sausage making, the inefficient machine, with its ad hoc sadistic, Terry Gilliam bureaucratic deficiencies, periodically cranks out a Sport of Nature.

History is a trickster, and the trickster is both a hero and a sociopath. The trickster laughs at everything including its own.

The Irish, running from the English who were eating them, crashed upon the shores of North America – sinners and saints, apostles and the mighty average, poets, liars, conmen and cops, pols, lawyers, doctors, and gangsters who embraced the dream and made it their own and from the viscera of History Incorporated, came city bosses, Senators, and a president; martyrs to both the liberal imagination and the altar of history – where the trickster sets up shop and sells everything from detergent to ketchup, to myths.

New York, one of the engines of the American empire – absorbing the world and turning it back out into their world; Jews and Germans, Italians and Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans and Haitians – the world enters and the world exists.

History, said Thucydides, is the mass movement of people. About 2,000 years later, a mad Russian jazz mystic wrote a footnote to that, and said, history comes down to the mass movement of people and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The footnote is called, War and Peace and Tolstoy combed it out of his beard.

It’s been more then fifty years since Mailer rolled into Los Angeles to drop a deuce in the punch bowl of journalism and said, I’m here you mother fuckers, listen to me!

There was a lot of it that was good and more that only sounded good and now makes you wince both for Mailer and for the nation. But there was and remains a hard ugly truth – looks is a product in the carnival of America Incorporated and if you look like JFK you get to do more than if you look like Nixon. Nixon won later, but only because Bobby was executed, Humphrey was a kindly impotent uncle and LBJ looked like death on a stick in comparison, and the political buzzards and jackals were circling his corpse and the pile of rotting meat that was to be his legacy.

You’re not supposed to admit any of it in public. It used to be that at the dinner table you were never supposed to bring up politics or religion. Now, it’s how someone looks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pretty. That she’s also not an idiot, though not a genius, is helpful, especially to those who need all the help they can get while the malignant troll and his allies soak the shabby remains of the republic in gasoline, and dance around it with their underwear over their heads and flame throwers in their hands.

The unintentionally hilarity of this, is of course provided by her supporters who are the first to scream, rightly, about America’s systemic problems – racism, misogyny, class warfare and assorted other ills. But mention to them that the systemic bigotry and sexism are part of the context of a good looking person – male or female but especially a woman – entering politics and they will start screaming you’re sexist pig.

Mailer was on to the truth when he said, Superman, in the disguise of a politician, had been co-opted to come to the supermarket in order to sell America an idea of itself. It reduced the national epic to the level of a tube of toothpaste, and the national discussion to the level of rows of brightly colored products all arranged to maximize a crass seduction, as if romance could be transformed into two bits and a shave.

He wasn’t wrong, if less of an artist and thinker than Scott Fitzgerald, who being a genius where Mailer was an assembly line foreman with ambition, crafted a national riff; an improv number that danced on the rapid fire key changes that form the backbone and soul of the nation. Gatsby may not be perfect, and in fact may contain flaws that make any sensibly person nervous but, it is about as near to perfection as one can get without exceeding the g-force tolerance of the form.

In the national soul myths rise up and fade. They change shape and they wear costumes and they sing an American tune. From time to time they sound like a fire and brimstone man of god snuffed out on a dirty motel balcony, and sometimes they sound like a Harvard educated Irish thug who transformed himself from only being a Harvard educated thug, into a Harvard educated thug who read Camus, and was on a personal mission to save his soul, and redeem the soul of a nation that had sinned.

Sometimes the face at your door is a malevolent slithering virus pretending to be a human being and later after the atavistic, sucks to your assmar goons have put the virus into a position of power, and they have left a mountain of skulls on every continent, people who were too stupid or too brutal to care, walk out into the blinding light and say, but we thought he was going to help us.

Don’t you think the joker laughs at you, said Lennon and McCartney.

Yes, we do think that.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes is lovely.

The national soul will answer the catechism.

These stories never end well but they always end and they always end – just the way they are supposed to. By design.

Later, when the tragedy arrives, don’t say you weren’t warned.

 

For a look at Mailer: https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a3858/superman-supermarket/

For a detailed look at what Mailer means:

https://theviolentink.blog/2018/04/26/never-tug-on-supermans-cape-norman-mailer-jfk-and-the-machinery-of-myth-part-one-in-a-series-on-jfk/

*Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, fits the same story as AOC, the primary difference being that Tolokonnikova has, and continues to directly risk being tortured and executed where as AOC risks being co-opted or killed by some White man with a gun – ginned up by the usual right wing and fascist sources ranging from Trump to the NRA. In Tolokonnikova’s case she is deliberately confronting fascists in an overtly authoritarian state. AOC belongs to the corrupt House in a banana republic which tends to keep its fascism in the shadows or overseas, or uses it against minorities in ghettos where the violence can be “explained” by corrupt media as the fault of the victim or an accident. The more lethal actions of the domestic Stasi are of course carefully protected by a bodyguard of lies employed by both liberals and fascists.

 

**Supporters of Bernie, and people who hate Hillary (because she’s a woman), like to insist that Sanders would have won if not for the machine being crooked and other related issues.

They leave out that the same ginned up atavistic mob chanting, lock her up, and who hate women, and especially hate powerful intelligent women, would have been more than happy to be ginned up and screamed about a Bolshevik Jew from Brooklyn who wants to steal all of your money and make you eat kale.

The stupidity of bigots, and fascists, are interchangeable.

Who knows if Sanders would have won.

But, if he looked like a movie star, more people would have voted for him, even if his last name was Goldberg.

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5 comments on “*Pussy Riot. Supergirl Comes to the Bodega.

  1. Yeah, as often is the case, your writing touches upon my own thinking. “…there would be nothing to distinguish her from any other freshly minted pol. The result of this is the creation of an inverse fetish. The fetish is of power, through vicarious projection on the part of her ardent supporters but (and this is crucial) the nature of the projection cannot be spoken of openly. The taboo is in many respects a throwback to ancient traditions in which to speak the truth is to diminish the magic of the fetish.”

    In my version of this idea, it is symbolic conflation. The image of a young, attractive progressive stands in for the real issue of the raw power of the system. The fetish is the magical ingredient that entrances the mind, the throwback to bicameral authorization as it manifests in modern authoritarianism. No matter what pretty face you put on it, the social order is a strict hierarchy and the power it implements is as brutal in the hands of a young woman of color as an old white man.

    “Intelligence here being, how successful she is at working the system, while maintaining the pretense that the system, though corrupt, has not corrupted her.” Hillary Clinton was once young, attractive, and held promise. Her mentor Saul Alinsky warned her about entering the system (i.e., law school) with hope of changing it. Instead, it it would change her. But she promised that wouldn’t happen. The reality is that, in her ambition, she was already corrupted. The same is true of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I have little doubt.

    On a side note, I would point out that there are many kinds of aesthetic attractiveness. Research shows that powerful and successful people tend to have symmetrical features. They might not be pretty looking. But pay attention to even the ugliest of politicians. Most of them have symmetrical features. And I could add that symmetrical features are a sign of healthier development, which in a class-based society such as ours mean healthier food and better healthcare.

    That is one of the reasons that the malnourished and sickly poor are less likely to move up he class ladder. Asymmetrical features are a sign of class status, of having been born into a hard life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      In reverse order: That’s very interesting about nutrition and looks et al. It harkens back to the 19th century but obviously without the racist profiling. One of the famous scenes in Silence of the Lambs has Hopkins/Lecter profile Foster/Starling based on her looks and he correctly identifies her as West Virginia.

      And you’re right about the symmetry of pols – even looks.

      As to AOC I agree. The fundamental flaw is of joining the system to change it from with in. Case in (recent) point: Cenk Yugur (sp?) of TYT is openly discussing going on Fox to talk to Laura Ingram.

      His rationale is that it will provide a chance to present authentic information about “progressive ideas” to Trump’s base.

      Even if one grants the premise (and I’m skeptical) the fact remains it’s a compromise that boosts Ingram’s flagging ratings and profits for Fox.

      But more than that of course it’s really about how the “progressives” are as we’ve discussed, liberals with an attitude and only seem radical when compared to machine pols like Pelosi & Co.

      “The fetish is the magical ingredient that entrances the mind, the throwback to bicameral authorization as it manifests in modern authoritarianism. No matter what pretty face you put on it, the social order is a strict hierarchy and the power it implements is as brutal in the hands of a young woman of color as an old white man.”

      AOC will of course be compromised by the system. There’s no alternative so long as you’re inside it.

      I’m reminded of the early 70s movie The Candidate, with Robert Redford and how he is an upstart telling the truth and he wins over the incumbent and the machine and at the end, he says to his campaign manager, now what do we do?

      “In my version of this idea, it is symbolic conflation. The image of a young, attractive progressive stands in for the real issue of the raw power of the system.”

      The vestiges of bicameralism, fetish culture, magical thinking, etc, are amusing if also worrying.

      AOC is essentially an updated version of the JFK story minus the wealth but it’s an American tune. Her supporters of course are part of a cult that denies it’s a cult. Threads on youtube under TYT or Majority Report videos about her are all binary – with us or against us and the one thing you can’t say is she looks like x. (first rule of fight club – no one mentions Fight club. first Rule of AOC club…).

      So around and around it goes.

      Meet the new boss…

      Like

      1. “That’s very interesting about nutrition and looks et al. It harkens back to the 19th century but obviously without the racist profiling.

        That is an apt observation. I was partly thinking of Weston A. Price’s work. One of the thing he was looking at was symmetry/asymmetry along with jaw, skull, and bone structure. Partly, this was because he was a dentist and so was most familiar with this area of development. But he also was quite familiar with the race science of his era.

        Fortunately, he somehow managed to transend the prejudices of his era. He did understand that the phrenologists were somewhat correct that the shape of the skull indicated neurological, psychological, and moral health. But his genius was in realizing that this had to do with nutrition, not genetics.

        He followed his observations, instead of ideology. And his observations showed that those who adopted an unhealthy diet manifested unhealthy development. This change could be observed from one generation to the next, as he saw among his own patients in the early 20th century as most Americans went from a rural diet to an urban diet.

        “One of the famous scenes in Silence of the Lambs has Hopkins/Lecter profile Foster/Starling based on her looks and he correctly identifies her as West Virginia.”

        I did that one time with a customer. I’ve never lived in Indiana or Kentucky, but my mother’s family is from the Kentuckiana region and they were lower class whites (the original meaning of ‘Hoosiers’). I know what poor whites look like from that area.

        I saw this customer and I immediately the appearance, somewhat darker and straighter or somewhat limpid hair with gaunt but strong cheek bones (probably some Cherokee genetics). I immediately thought to myself that she was from Kentucky, without having to hear her voice and she didn’t speak during the monetary exchange. As she drove out, I looked at her license plate and indeed she was from Kentucky.

        This would be a similar to the West Virginia look. It’s a combination of factors that goes far beyond genetics, maybe some epigenetics but also class and other such things. For certain, you can see the generations of working poor in such a face.

        Asymmetry is just one part of it. But it’s important as it really stands out. Recent research has confirmed this. They are able to measure higher rates of symmetry of features among the successful. It really is fascinating.

        Like

      2. “AOC is essentially an updated version of the JFK story minus the wealth but it’s an American tune. Her supporters of course are part of a cult that denies it’s a cult.”

        Also, when I hear it said that she looks like America, what I hear is that she looks white enough to be assimilated. It’s the first step. Fairly soon, Hispanics will no longer be people of color, in the way that darker-skinned Italians and Palatine Germans simply became normal white Americans. Large numbers of Hispanics, in fact, already self-identify as white or Caucasian.

        No one ever said of Obama, though, that he looks like America. To be even partly of African descent is never to be quite American. Obama was maybe acceptable because his ancestry didn’t come through slavery, which is to say he isn’t of poor American stock. Many African immigrants in the US look down upon the African-American population and it has everything to do with class, as African immigrants tend to be of the middle-to-upper class.

        But AOC will fit in just fine within the power structure. The Republicans already have a number of Hispanic politicians. Sadly, we apparently aren’t yet ready for Native Americans to enter major positions of power.

        Like

    2. rauldukeblog says:

      And forgot to say: quite right about HRC. Bill’s autobiography has a vast amount of read between the lines info on all of that. The current mood is dominated by a revisionism generated mostly by the “progressives” in which HRC/BC are only triangulating neoliberals.

      so much of their political wars are contextualized by not only 1960s liberalism/radicalism but of course by their religious fervor which traces its roots back to the Quakers and others fighting for abolition.

      Alinsky of course was right – the machine cannibalizes itself.

      The dems – personified by HRc/BC are in the shadow of JFK/LBJ with the impossible mash up of New Deal “socialism” and capitalism with a fresh coat of paint – so welfare state and imperialism.

      It didn’t work for LBJ then and it can’t work for HRC/BC now.

      Her recent “anti-immigration” comments were cause for hyper overreaction among some but were classic BC “triangulation.”

      Textbook BC – say x, and sound conservative, thus stealing the media oxygen and co-opting your opponent’s rhetoric while then positioning yourself as the arbiter of “reform” and a better alternative to the blunt instrument of the reactionaries.

      But, 20 years after BC’s presidency the environment is further along towards collapse, and the environmental refugees are not going to stop moving, their eco systems will only collapse further and the ruling class has even more obscene wealth now than in the 90s so HRC’s tactically clever and strategically screwed.

      Liked by 1 person

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