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Brief Notes on a Nightmare.

Germany declared war on Russia – Swimming in the afternoon.”

— Franz Kafka, diary entry, 1914



If the article linked below does not make you pause and think, if at some level it does not scare you half to death, then check your pulse and make sure you’re still alive.

It is easy enough and not unreasonable to frame the comments by Emanuel Macron as a typical kind of French posturing within the all too typical politics of Europe – in which France attempts to assert itself as a world power. One could recall any number of Blues standards from de Gaulle regarding France being aligned with NATO but separate to get the sense of the lineage involved.

And as this is on the eve of a NATO summit one could say well, he would say that, wouldn’t he – after all, he’s raising the stakes and bluffing in order to push the US and Germany, etc.

Except the rhetoric is of a different type.

Here is the president of France saying the strategic situation is as dire as the one faced in the late 1930s.

To suggest American withdrawal from Europe either directly or through indifference is to start the trains leaving the station.

Next stop the crack up of the UK and England reduced to a rump state in the grips of a post Brexit Dystopia one part Farage fascism, one part BoJo clown, one part Rees-Mogg flogging peasants and hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian state mafia money sloshing in and out of the City.

Leaving France and Germany to rearm and drag the smaller former NATO countries along for the ride because, without the US, anyone who thinks Putin would not begin the push to reestablish the Russian empire in Eastern Europe is a fool.

Anyone who thinks this is not all ultimately filtered through a series of Russian plans, initiatives, ad hoc and prefabricated strategies is an idiot.

And anyone who thinks that’s not your concern is a fool who should be drop kicked into the middle of the ocean.

A diplomatic wit said many years ago NATO exists to keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the German down.

The issue is not good versus bad but is, bad versus worse.

France cannot defend Western Europe alone.

It might be able to offer a credible defense in conjunction with Germany but that’s a different sort of Germany.

The German military by all accounts is mostly a shell able to operate as a not so menacing garrison force.

Minus the US and an effective UK, France and Germany would have to spend billions to upgrade their defensive posture and present to Russia the credible idea that victory as such wouldn’t be worth it.

And spending billions on defense (including the reorganization of the economy from exploitation to sustainability) will be fodder for increased disruptive factionalism.

Notice also that Macron has linked issues – military, common foreign policy and crucially, the environment into one issue.

The survival of Europe as an idea, a geo-political entity, requires unity on key issues and all of those issues pass sooner or later through the maelstrom of the environment.

Yesterday, during his valedictorian speech, former Speaker of Parliament, John Bercow said, Brexit was the worst action by the UK, since the Second World War. We assume he means the worst political initiative since Chamberlain, all in an effort to keep the fascists pointed east, offered to give Hitler a political hand job in the form of selling out the Czechs and the Poles, and renting the empty space where his spine had been.

The comments by Bercow and Macron are bookends.

The lights may not be going out across Europe but they are flickering and that smell is of burning wires.

Update: 11.12/19

With more emphasis on traditional French assertiveness than on a wider sense of crisis, here is a sober if not what me worry view of the situation:

Update: 11/18/19

It’s hard to tell one way or the other for a variety of reasons but specifically because The London Review of Books consistently trips over its dialectic.

But the article below should suggest to any reasonable and better than average informed reader, a distinct whiff of France circa, 1936.

The same weird left-wing double-speak, the same rancid fascist provocations and the same pandering from the establishment – pandering to both right and left and to whatever rhetorical maneuver will maintain power.

Crucially not even TLRoB has bothered to excavate the question: if the veil and the Burka are traif vis French Republicanism, what then of the nun’s Habit?

If one then why not the other?

While Macron’s concerns and manipulation vis NATO remain worrisome, it is possible if not likely that what is percolating in France is yet another iteration of the dreary beast come round again.

13 comments on “Brief Notes on a Nightmare.

  1. Yeah. It is all concerning, to an extreme degree. But it’s hard to know what to think of it. I had a sense there were things the average person could have done in the past.

    That is what those claiming Hillary Clinton as a real alternative to Donald Trump didn’t understand. We were way past the point of that kind of bullshit choice. They didn’t realize how late was the time. Now it feels like we are seeing the consequences of choices already made. It would be hard to turn it all in a new direction. I’m not feeling confident that this next presidential election can make a difference. The US seems dead in the water.

    Maybe if more people grasped the significance of the situation we could take emergency actions. But the main problems we are facing are international at the very moment that international alliances are falling apart. Even at the national level, so many major superpowers are experiencing internal conflict and division. I don’t see how we are going to avoid WWIII. Opposite of avoiding it, there are some powerful actors who appear to be seeking it out.

    Since you start off with a Kafka quote, I’ll take it as an opportunity to mention a book I came across: Franz Kafka, the Jewish Patient by Sander L. Gilman. It offers some good historical context and fascinating details (fascinating to me, anyway) about health and how it was understood at the time, including the relationship to racialized thought and eugenics. And of course, the Nazis and WWII comes up. I briefly discussed the book in my most recent post:

    On a different note, here is a post about one of your favorite topics related to lenses:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      In reverse order: thanks for the links.

      The impact of refined glass has been enormous. Coincidentally I have been ,looking into Robert Hooke again – a key figure in late 17th century Europe that attaches to glass, etc.

      Forgotten debates of course ties into the various ways in which memory is used to establish agendas. I specifically took note of your comment about how during the Cold War all sorts of debates were stifled if not outright forcibly silenced.

      The Eugenics movement is fascinating and the fact that the Nuremberg Race Laws passed by the Nazis allowed the Germans to catch up to the US with its Red Lining, quotas, and various other systemic Jim Crow/Apartheid regimes.

      But of course as a large chamber in “The Tragic Bordello” it’s generally off limits for discussion.

      As to the dire situation in Old Man Europe. It absolutely reeks of previous moments where the choice was between bad and worse because so many idiots and ideologues had forced everyone into a corner.

      Corbyn’s support for Brexit, BoJo the clown, Trump, Pelosi, the neoliberals, the Wall St pirates – what a miserable crew.

      Macron obviously is not antagonistic to money/kapital but he’s not stupid.

      It is no accident that Bloomberg is threatening to enter the race because Warren has scared the Wall St goons.

      I’m thinking about a new post on another aspect of the situation that so far has gone unnoticed: Bloomberg’s political gun is pointed at Warren but it’s also pointed at Biden because he’s faded from the stage and the oligarchs don’t believe he can beat Warren and/or Bloomberg Inc is threatening to throw their money at HRC as a “centrist” alternative to the “radicalism” of Warren.

      Aside from the specific stupidity of all of that what goes missing is the fact that the environment is on fire and capitalism is incompatible with saving the environment.

      “Environment” of course is a word used to create a false set of distinctions between “us” and the “world” when the truth is, cars=environment and cars+steel/electronics/advertising/roads/cement/rubber/Silicon Valley etc as we discussed previously it’s as you said, Jenga.

      Bloomberg likes to suggest he’s a decent billionaire – hip to environmental issues and assorted civil liberties but in truth he’s a polite not so crypto-fascist who had no problem with stop and frisk in NYC and of course is a slithering creature of Wall St.

      Exactly like the money goons who paralyzed Europe and paid to install the fascists to stop revolutions.


      Yeah, it’s looking pretty fucking bad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Does Warren actually scare the Wall St goons? That amuses me. How could someone so moderate and mainstream scare anyone? My sense is that she is to the right of the American public on many issues, no matter her political rhetoric that I suspect is largely empty promises. She simply doesn’t have a radical personality, as far as I can tell, and in comparison she makes Sanders look like a left-wing extremist, although Sanders doesn’t tend to talk as strongly. But I suppose it is as you say. To the ruling system, the teetering Jenga tower, everything is a threat. That is because everything is connected, everything is ‘environment’. Even mere campaign rhetoric, bullshit included, can be considered dangerous. I’m sure they realize how potentially close we are to instability and public unrest and maybe revolt. Warren, if unintentionally, could help incite public outrage. It’s similar to why swamp creature Trump, in promoting progressive rhetoric of reform, is also a threat.

        Shutting down debate and silencing of particular, that has been on my radar for a while. It’s amazing what lively debate there was in the long revolutionary period from the English Civil War to World War era. I was sort of aware of that before, but certain books I’ve been reading lately have shown more clearly what exactly was lost and how it is all connected (diet, culture wars, mental health, social control, etc). It’s strange how easily that debate went underground for so long. When eugenics debate was muted, many of the anti-eugenic and related arguments also disappeared from public thought. The entire basis of the debate fell victim, and the awareness that there was something to be debated was lost and forgotten. Nothing was resolved and so these ideas flourished at the fringes, sometimes in mutated form but surprisingly often with little change at all.

        There have always been those maintaining this debate, even if few were paying attention to them or allowing them to be heard. The early 20th century anthropological tradition of anti-racism and anti-essentialism (in fighting authoritarian hegemony) is still barely acknowledged, despite it being one of the most influential areas of American thought. These things play in the background and, as a society, we fail to incorporate them into public thought. Then some of the most interesting discussion will pop up in an obscure academic book about a literary figure or something like that. It relates to your interest (and mine) in how popular culture, literary or otherwise, can inform our understanding of the world but is rarely recognized by the ‘mainstream’.

        That is sort of related to diet, nutrition, and health. For whatever reason, this has long been a site of both the enforcement of authority and the challenging of it. Alternative health advocates, even when they had respectable credentials and were famous, have been a favorite target of the powers that be. The reason for this shows up in reading books about past debates. Health touches on a larger field of debate, from racism to fascism. Below are two of the posts where I talk about how silenced happened in American society. Censorship and oppression doesn’t happen only through government, as it is also seen in the corporate media and academia, along with how sources such as Wikipedia have fallen under agendas of control. This wouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the Cold War. Most targeted victims during that earlier era suffered not from government attacks but from private power used to destroy people’s reputations, careers, and lives.


      2. rauldukeblog says:

        As discussed previously, Warren/Sanders only appear radical because of how mainstream corporate tyranny has become. Neither are any intelligent person’s idea of a radical and neither is going to be confused with Trotsky or even Paine – unless you’re a billionaire or a bourgeois aspirant or any of the other intrinsically reactionary types who see “higher taxes” and think it’s the second coming of Mao.

        But part of the pathology of the ruling class is entitlement-detachment-justification.

        The idea that it’s unfair to say you should be able to live on 100 million vs 50 billion is like asking a Christian Scientist to take a dose of penicillin.

        As to Renaissance attitudes towards health you’re right but I’d add three key vectors. First, the plague. Then leprosy and third, syphilis.

        Given the state of knowledge, as such, all three were completely misunderstood.

        All three attached to ideas about “other” and “foreign” and all three, filtered through prevailing attitudes about power being manifest in the body of the ruler (if she floats she’s a witch thinking) and in the case of syphilis, persisted well into the 20th century.

        Syphilis, of course was the “pox” and for the French it was the “Spanish disease” and for the Spanish it was “the French disease” except when it was the “Italian disease” and so on.

        With each, overlapping in time, and narratives, you of course have corollary narratives about health, geography, food, diet, knowledge, ignorance, freedom, speech, and power.

        Obviously we’re in Foucault’s wheelhouse;-)

        The 20th century is in many respects the 19th only with better technology.

        Almost every one of the current reactionary, demagogic neo fascists sounds like a 19th century goon – it’s all the fault of the foreigners and the elites is in fact similar to the anti Enlightenment rhetoric of the late 18th century.

        Hard to find but Alain Finklekraut’s, The Defeat of the Mind, is a great short book on how the current “culture wars” originate with the Renaissance and Enlightenment

        As a result The Cold War while a continuation of past battles is still with us in the various ways honest discussions are limited if not silenced.

        Of course “media” and the universities are essentially colonies of the government.

        First rule of the Culture Industry is don’t discuss the Culture Industry.

        As you say there are moments where debate occurs.

        Of course the English CW was also a period of violent censorship and whole sale slaughter based on competing ideas.

        But it’s not either or – debate and then reaction and then debate, repeat.

        In the modern era technology has made it easier to stifle and censor and brainwash.

        I’m not sure I see much of a distinction between private power and the government during the CW era.

        Relatively few people were actually hauled before HUAAC but the line between the state at both the local and federal level on the one hand and private militias was thin.

        Take a reconsideration of Noah Cross the chief villain in Chinatown. And then a survey of the bad guys in chandler and Hammett novels or Kane in Citizen Kane who of course is really a figure like Hearst.

        “Government” and “Private” become close to to if not wholly synonymous.

        Here’s one of my favorite examples as it touches on so many of the points you’re raising:

        There are hundreds if not thousands of books and documentaries about F.Scott Fitzgerald. It’s essentially an industry running from universities to films making.

        Scott and Zelda as a Inc.

        But beyond a few thin mentions there is zero scholarship or discussion about her father – a judge in Alabama from the late 19th to the early 20th century.

        As a vector for censorship, systemic bigotry, the joining of “private” and “public” of the Klan, of the Klan as a Freikorps (used in a violent state sponsored terror campaign to stop the railroads from unionizing in the 1930s), and as a fabricated narrative called “Scott and Zelda” which creates a series of other narratives that establish power and “truth” vs “fiction”.

        This sort of fabrication appears everywhere: diet, health, government, private, etc, etc.

        I was just re-watching some of the otherwise brilliant World at War documentary – Olivia doing the narration, and a generally great piece of work produced in the early 70s.

        And being better read now then the last time I watched it, it was shocking and amusing to see how facts were being twisted distorted, erased. In a few cases there were outright lies like the claim that the French left during the 1930s was monolithic and its one view was indifference to the rise of fascism anywhere but in France.

        And by making that false claim, the documentary creates a series of other false narratives that establish “right” and “wrong” and define “truth.”

        And the second example is how by combining images with narration and simply skipping over other facts, one creates a fabricated narrative – a “truth” about which people without power complain (PostModernists, etc) and are met with ridicule, condemnation, then violence.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. One thing that has stood out to me is how systematic and systemic is oppression and censorship. This particularly jumps out with the health field since it seems so strange that diet and nutrition would be of such interest to authoritarians. But it begins to make sense when one understands the science of how food so powerfully affects human development, neurocognition and behavior.

        It really is fascinating. The amount of wealth and power invested in this campaign of social control as dietary control is amazingly impressive. It’s not just a few people attacked but probably hundreds of public intellectuals, doctors, and researchers over the past few generations. And it was never limited to government or even a single government. That is what is demonstrated by the long list of names I present in the second link above.

        Here is the thing about diet. It somehow became a primary avenue of ideological management. And so it became an odd way of creating cultural hegemony of Western thought, specifially through the neoliberal-neocon trade alliances of the military-industrial-marketing complex. A wide variety of private institutions and governments became intertwined in enforcing a specific high-carb, low-fat diet as part of the industrialization of the food system of big ag and cheap processed crap.

        A small group of people led by Ancel Keys, a man who never held any political position, were able to enforce their ideology onto the US government and academia. And then that particular dietary ideology was taken on by nearly every other major government in the world, specifically in the Western world, and enforced onto their populations through laws, regulations, and guidelines. All of these major governments simultaneously attacked all alternative dietary views and, though the groupthink is beginning to weaken, continue to do so.

        It is so strange! Why diet of all things? I understand why diet is so powerful in being used in this way. Still, it is plain odd that it was so effective. Keys was a visionary genius in realizing the importance of diet when so many others would dismiss it as significant.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. rauldukeblog says:

        completely agree.

        Diet I think is a crucial factor in ideas about “health” and that in turn connects to (again) power/foreign/class.

        But as you say, advertising as a massive engine of power is a crucial factor.

        The very fact that schools indoctrinate people to believe in discrete groups is an example of the system enforcing control.

        Instead of food as advertising and advertising as food (which in turn is transportation and a hundred other things) we have faux debates (stuffed in-between commercials;-/) about binary conditions – god/bad, right/wrong, cost/value, etc

        Liberals (and liberals who claim to be leftists) as well as conservatives all do this.

        The self righteous “alternative media” is as guilty as establishment media.

        Point out that transportation = food and food = advertising and that they all form a nexus with control and people’s heads blow up and you’re denounced as “against Bernie” or “a radical leftists”

        People have been both brainwashed and given license to just toss out phrases/words with no one insisting theyd efine their terms and offer examples that endure close scrutiniy.

        Of course that’s advertising, isn’t it.

        Take this drug to sleep but keep in mind it may cause insomnia or death followed by fine print at such speed only HAL could read it.

        That same methodology is applied to “food” and “food” of course is everything from class warfare in Brazil to the absence of healthy grocery stores in ghetto/gulags.

        Some of it ends up occurring without intention – that is it just organically forms within a given sisyem but it’s still part of a deliberate campaign to convince, control and intimidate and subvert.

        Good people eat x, bad people eat y.

        How do you know they are bad?

        Look at them.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The book on Kafka focuses on tuberculosis because that is what killed him. The topics included goes far beyond that, though. The public debate about ‘health’ was quite broad and touched upon so many other issues.

        I recognized it as being the same public debate as I discussed in my post about the crisis of identity. It was all the same issues of culture war, for certain, such as sex and gender. Eugenics as racial hygiene also fits in there. But there is all of the stuff about neurasthenia, west cure, rest cure, etc. It is such a fertile area of thought and study.

        All of that tracks back to much earlier thinking. The culture wars began in the Renaissance. Throw in dietary social control expressed through Galenic theory in the Middle Ages. And the diseases of civilization, mental health most of all, have been a growing concern for many centuries or even millennia. All of that hit a fever pitch as civilization headed toward the world war era.

        Tuberculosis is a particularly key focus. That is because it was such an obvious disease. It plagued society to such an extreme degree over many generations. It persisted in a steady manner, unlike Black Death that wiped out populations and then disappeared. Tuberculosis was able to capture the public imagination because it slowly killed its victims and it was so obviously tied up with modernity and urbanization.

        I was aware of this to some extent. Weston A. Price wrote quite a bit about that disease. Even so, I didn’t quite grasp how widespread and devastating it was, how much it was at the center of public concern and moral panic. It’s largely disappeared from society today and so it’s hard to remember the place it once held.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. rauldukeblog says:

        TB is a major cultural vector.

        If you’re not familiar with it and as a crucial corollary to “Kafka” check out Thomas Mann’s Thre Magic Mountain.

        In one of the more amusing historical irnoies, the novel takes place in, Davos – where of course the ruling class holds their annual meeting and “journalists” occasionally make thin references to the book but never dig into it because they haven’t read it and even if they have no one is going to allow a conversation about TB, and a major Modernist/20th century masterpiece.

        After all, can’t have people getting ideas about how things are connected;-/

        “TB” as you say is another everything topic – it connects to everything from “Chopin” and “Kafka” to the Nazis and “health fads.”

        Liked by 1 person

      7. “As to Renaissance attitudes towards health you’re right but I’d add three key vectors. First, the plague. Then leprosy and third, syphilis.” Are there books and thinkers you have in mind about those three diseases? Are you referring only to Foucault or do you have others in mind? This does bring us to biopolitics. The nexus of power and the body is not a new understanding, not even in terms of public health. The body politic, for example, is an old idea. It’s such a great area of study and I’d like to look more into it. That is the reason I’ve been reading Foucault, a tough read.

        “Hard to find but Alain Finklekraut’s, The Defeat of the Mind, is a great short book on how the current “culture wars” originate with the Renaissance and Enlightenment” Thanks for the book recommendation. When making my comment, the book I had in mind was The Culture Wars of the Late Renaissance by Edward Wallace Muir Jr. I’ve only read sections of Muir’s book, but should read it more carefully.

        “But it’s not either or – debate and then reaction and then debate, repeat. In the modern era technology has made it easier to stifle and censor and brainwash.” I agree. As with so much else, it goes in cycles. But yeah, there is something about modernity that changes the game. It’s brought to a whole other level. There is a greater subtlety and pervasiveness to it. There is no crude authoritarianism of officials burning piles of books and hanging heretics in the public square. How do we talk about a silencing when those who are silenced also are made invisible? It feels more complete and enclosed, as control is more total.

        It wasn’t always this way, in that there once were ways of evading scrutiny and places to escape to (e.g., in early 19th century “Iowa City” where I live but which at the time was beyond the furthest edge of the frontier, there was a community of free blacks living among the ‘savages’; they disappeared into the ‘wilderness’ and remained undetected, their remains only being discovered in recent years). We’ve discussed this before. William S. Burroughs talks about still having a sense of a different kind of society in his youth, something he romanticized but it points to a truth. In Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader, you’ll find the essay “Punching a Hole in the Big Lie”: The Achievement of William S. Burroughs. The author, Ann Douglas, writes:

        “How did this happen? How did Western civilization become a conspiracy against its members? In his second trilogy, Cities of the Red Night (1981), The Place of Dead Roads (1984), and The Western Lands (1987), which taken as a whole forms his greatest work, Burroughs fantasized the past which produced the present and excavated its aborted alternatives, the last, lost sites of human possibility. The first is the United States that disappeared in his boyhood, the pre- and just post-WWI years when individual identity had not yet been fixed and regulated by passports and income taxes; when there was no CIA or FBI; before bureaucracies and bombs suffocated creative consciousness and superhighways crisscrossed and codified the American landscape—“sometimes paths last longer than roads,” Burroughs wrote in Cities of the Red Night. In the heyday of the gunman, of single combat, and of the fraternal alliances of frontier culture, the promises of the American Revolution were not yet synonymous with exclusionary elite self-interest. Now, however, Burroughs wrote, there are “so many actors and so little action”; little room is left for the independent cooperative social units he favored, for the dreams that he saw as the magical source of renewal for whole peoples as well as individuals.”

        “I’m not sure I see much of a distinction between private power and the government during the CW era. Relatively few people were actually hauled before HUAAC but the line between the state at both the local and federal level on the one hand and private militias was thin.” I don’t see much of a difference either. I just thought it was interesting that powerful would choose the guise of the ‘private’ to enforce social control. I guess they had to keep up appearances in ideologically, if superficially, differentiating themselves from the Stalinists and Maoists of the world. The illusion of individual freedom in the private sector had to be maintained, and so punishment had to be done in more roundabout ways through other mechanisms of power. It also kept it from any attempts at transparency and accountability, to ensure any attempts at democracy would not intrude. So much of this operates through cultural production, as you point out, from literary scholarship to documentaries.

        “If you’re not familiar with it and as a crucial corollary to “Kafka” check out Thomas Mann’s Thre Magic Mountain.” I haven’t read it, but I should. It came up in the book about Kafka and health. Mann’s book has popped up in various things I’ve read over the years, not that it comes up that often. “After all, can’t have people getting ideas about how things are connected” We can’t have that. All kinds of problems follow from people having thoughts and seeing how one thing leads to another.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. rauldukeblog says:

        Foucault is notoriously difficult. In addition do a search under “syphilis” and an extraordinary nexus emerges.

        For example: Heated mercury was a standard treatment for the following reason: Syphilitic tumors were called “gumas” a Greek word meaning blockage of the humors. In Galen terms a blocked humor would be unblocked by “mercury vapors” and the patient was placed in a box seated over heated tubs of mercury so they could inhale the vapors.

        Obviously that was toxic.

        Among the side effects was that the patient’s teeth fell out.

        Turning then to G. Washington’s diaries, assorted letters, and biograhies, we find his doctors diagnosing him with gumas, and his visting whore houses.

        So, one then consults the extant medical books of the era and one finds “treatments” consisting of mercury vapors, opium, and other “cures.”

        And of course he lost his teeth.

        Correlation is not causation but in this case the evidence is overwhelming.

        As a result an entirely different narrative emerges.

        Another nexus is the international trade in opium and mercury.

        Thus when we “read” the history of say various “opium wars” we are also reading a narrative aboyut health and resulting power dynamics.

        there’s a great book about FDR’s youth called, Before the Trumpet which mentions how the family fortune was built in large part on selling opium in China.

        So while specific books are crucial, what is just as important is changing the parameters of the search/organizing hierarchies.

        Re: tough read and on point vis late Renaissance culture wars, Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge is excellent.

        I’ll look for the book you mentioned.

        The contemporary era is more Borg and devastting.

        Burroughs is a kind of early warning alarm among with an entire generation Ginsberg’s “Moloch” and Henry Miller’s The Air-conditioned Nightmare.

        People either don’t recall or have no idea that federal income tax only began in 1913.

        A genuine schism grows out of that with people for both legitimate and selfish reasons viewing it as an assult on “freedom” including the freedom to fail.

        America as frontier vanishes or begins to vanish.

        But of course they tend not to want to discuss the rise of robber barrons (hell Butch and Sundance;-)). But there is something there in the argument against the power of the fed vis how it begins to close in (sort of our version of the English Enclosure Movement) the frontier. Which makes me think that Fitzgerald’s lost Eden riff at the end of Gatsby echoes that but regardless, it’s a ghost haunting the country’s imagination. Burroughs understood that an entire way of being waas vanishing.

        No accident that it matches up with the propaganda about freedom vs tyranny – except for employing ex not ex Nazis to get rocketds to the moon and teach the otherwise disinterested masses the consequences of singing Wagner off key;-/

        When we dig into it it’s a miserable horrific story but of course there’s no authetnic discussion.

        Oh sure you get the x files using it as source material but the CW was so fundamentally about creating an official version of the past as much as organizing a covert war in the present.

        Magic mountain is a tough read (for me at least). Slow going and very heavy but important. As with Joyce and Eliot and some others a good guidebook is essential and also don’t feel bad about skipping some parts;-)

        Just don’t get too many of the wrong ideas or the man come to take you away;-0

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Looking at past medical practices, one realizes how oppressive and destructive they could be as ideological systems. It’s almost irrelevant if individuals are healed or their teeth fall out. It’s the enactment of a social order and moral order. Doctors have always played a similar role to priests.

        This is why the revolutionary era was as much a revolt against ideas as it was against aristocratic wealth and political power. The revolution of mind came first and it was a scientific revolution involving new medical practices. See Steven Johnson’s The Invention of Air, I. Bernard Cohen’s Science and the Founding Fathers, and Tom Shachtman’s Gentleman Scientists and Revolutionaries.

        Then when you talk about “opium wars”, you’re in the territory of addiction. WSB and Control. Johann Hari and individuality. Bruce K. Alexander and rat park research. And by way of my thinking, we are back again to addictive foods, dietary ideology, and food systems.

        All of it under the general heading of ‘health’. I’m envisioning a biopolitics informed by the likes of Julian Jayne’s metaphorical consciousness, Lewis Hyde’s metonymic body-mind, Daniel Everett’s dark matter, and Sapir/Whorf’s linguistic relativity.

        On the other side of biopolitics let’s put ‘environment’ and bring in Timothy Morton’s hyperobjects and related areas of thought. This is a biopolitics that becomes embodied in the world, environmental damage and climate change not as mere unintended consequence but as a site of power enacted and lost, transformed and re-imagined.

        What is a biopolitics of the earth as biosphere? What is language as living information we are immersed and enmeshed in? What does authorization and authority mean if we shift our focus outward, if the addictive consumer-mind is loosened?

        It’s not only the world that is enclosed but also the mind, thought, and debate. The opposite of enclosure is disclosure. Maybe the world of being is always more porous than the systems of control let on. The primary source of power is simply the narrative of power. Control turns inward and inevitably consumes itself.

        Kafka and Burroughs were both focused on the limits of power, the boundaries. As in the Buddhist worldview there is no escape, no where else, but there is the desire for “a way out”.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. rauldukeblog says:

        Thanks for author/book rec. Will add to infinite library;-)

        Gestalt of course is the issue. “Medicine” as “power” and so on each thing being on the one hand autonomous and yet connected to other vectors.
        “Addiction” in the case of opium is a vast topic. Opium as a gateway drug to visions or higher spirituality or turned around and used as a pretext for violence against immigrants.

        opium as a reason for imperialism and imperialism then as an avenue for the nexuxs we call “FDR” and so on.

        What’s missing of course is a political class capable of seeing the entire field.

        We are dominated by specialists and morons with little ultimately to distinguish one from the other.

        Even when we get someone who reads – Clinton/Obama – they are overwhelmed by the dull crushing banalities of power.

        the result is there’s really nothing about them that defines an era the way one would say about “FDR” or “Lincoln” but of course they both are in turn defined by cataclysmic events.

        “How shall we know the dance from the dance” and any number of other koans but again, they don’t read and even if they do, they are one against an army of drones.

        “The primary source of power is simply the narrative of power”

        People seek power without understanding that power is seeking them.

        Liked by 1 person

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