Sunday, 30 July 2000

From "Pornography and Sexual Violence"

By Robert Jensen Robert Jensen.

There are limits to what research can tell us about the complex interactions of mass media and human behavior. But from both laboratory research and the narratives of men and women, it is not controversial to argue that pornography can: (1) be an important factor in shaping a male-dominant view of sexuality; (2) be used to initiate victims and break down their resistance to unwanted sexual activity; (3) contribute to a user's difficulty in separating sexual fantasy and reality; and (4) provide a training manual for abusers.

These conclusions provide support for the feminist critique of pornography that emerged in the 1970s and '80s, which highlighted pornography's harms to the women and children: (1) used in the production of pornography; (2) who have pornography forced on them; (3) who are sexually assaulted by men who use pornography; and (4) living in a culture in which pornography reinforces and sexualizes women's subordinate status.

From "World-Sport"

By ______ et. al.

DELOYT$TUSH: I am only one individual glassy hillock on the sandpaper. I cannot know the world-historic significance of the micro-activity I contribute to the material process of history. I can only trust the limitations of my own competence to negate if I wish to attain the bleached out disintentionality of true prior being where I cannot be held responsible to know anything.

____: Same difference, then. Let’s do it and say we didn’t. Let’s not do it and say we did. Let’s not do it and say we didn’t.

GAY ENOLA: I can trick you into getting an erection.

WILLY AUTONOMOUS: Go on then.

GAY ENOLA: The government says it is al-Qaeda terrorists and the Taliban that are killing civilians and troops ... the government's comments will please Nato.

WILLY AUTONOMOUS: [violently erect.] I fail to see how I have been ‘tricked’ here.

Friday, 28 July 2000

From "The Second Treatise of Civil Government"

By John Locke.

Though the legislative, whether placed in one or more, whether it be always in being, or only by intervals, though it be the supreme power in every common-wealth; yet,

[...]

First, It is not, nor can possibly be absolutely arbitrary over the lives and fortunes of the people: for it being but the joint power of every member of the society given up to that person, or assembly, which is legislator; it can be no more than those persons had in a state of nature before they entered into society, and gave up to the community: for no body can transfer to another more power than he has in himself; and no body has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of another.

[...]

Their power, in the utmost bounds of it, is limited to the public good of the society. It is a power, that hath no other end but preservation, and therefore can never [...] have a right to destroy, enslave, or designedly to impoverish the subjects. The obligations of the law of nature cease not in society, but only in many cases are drawn closer, and have by human laws known penalties annexed to them, to inforce their observation.

[...]

Secondly, [...] The legislative, or supreme authority, cannot assume to its self a power to rule by extemporary arbitrary decrees, but is bound to dispense justice, and decide the rights of the subject by promulgated standing laws, and known authorized judges [...]

[...] whatever form the common-wealth is under, the ruling power ought to govern by declared and received laws, and not by extemporary dictates and undetermined resolutions: for then mankind will be in a far worse condition than in the state of nature, if they shall have armed one, or a few men with the joint power of a multitude, to force them to obey at pleasure the exorbitant and unlimited decrees of their sudden thoughts, or unrestrained, and till that moment unknown wills, without having any measures set down which may guide and justify their actions: for all the power the government has, being only for the good of the society, as it ought not to be arbitrary and at pleasure, so it ought to be exercised by established and promulgated laws; that both the people may know their duty, and be safe and secure within the limits of the law; and the rulers too kept within their bounds, and not be tempted, by the power they have in their hands, to employ it to such purposes, and by such measures, as they would not have known, and own not willingly.

[...]

Thirdly, The supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent: for the preservation of property being the end of government, and that for which men enter into society, it necessarily supposes and requires, that the people should have property, without which they must be supposed to lose that, by entering into society, which was the end for which they entered into it; too gross an absurdity for a ny man to own.

[...]

Fourthly, The legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands [...]

From "The Second Treatise of Civil Government"

By John Locke.

Thus mankind, notwithstanding all the privileges of the state of nature, being but in an ill condition, while they remain in it, are quickly driven into society. Hence it comes to pass, that we seldom find any number of men live any time together in this state. The inconveniencies that they are therein exposed to, by the irregular and uncertain exercise of the power every man has of punishing the transgressions of others, make them take sanctuary under the established laws of government, and therein seek the preservation of their property.

From an e-mail to UKPoetry

By Marianne Morris.

[...] my own work has been trending towards a kind of double imagery, injecting political issues with comedy or baroque elements in order to demonstrate the ways in which, sometimes, things that we should be thinking about pass almost unwittingly under our noses - and in some cases i've been writing about certain issues without any restraint at all. but then it feels as though, from an avant-garde perspective, the political aspect of a poem is more effectively evoked through the skewed connections between words. i myself am quite keen on standard grammar and syntax at the moment, and am clinging to a kind of narrative structure, but i'm wondering if i should rethink this, and if so, how much. does such an approach nullify other attempts within the work to bring certain issues to light? does it give it the aura of unpleasant complicity? what do people think about this, or about anything else in poetry, if they have any of their brain left after all this bullshit i wonder [...]

Tuesday, 25 July 2000

From "Conspiracy Machine"

By Bill Drennan.

History is just like software. There are patches to update its operational stability.

From "Agoraphobia, and the embarrassment of manifestos"

By Drew Milne.

The modernist manifesto works as a form of public proclamation which seeks to generate debate and publicise the intentions and opinions of an avant-garde movement: it is both a response to the need to seek out and draw together a public, as well as being a public form of collective poetry. The most important modernist manifesto is Marx’s Communist Manifesto, but it is perhaps the Futurists who establish the principle of the manifesto as a form of art as aggressive action, and the key tool in the guerilla tactics of avant-gardes, not least to confront the marginalisation of serious aesthetic practices by the culture industry. As Ian Hamilton Finlay put it in a detached sentence on revolution issued by The Committe of Public Safety, Little Sparta: Freedom of speech is not freedom to speak it is the freedom to discuss.

From "Prosody and Reconciliation"

By Keston Sutherland.

The point is not that every line of poetry is so obviously liable to be construed as a separate semantic event [...] but that every line is, at least in the current stage of philological history, absolutely liable to be so construed. The separated semantic unit, considered as an event that coincides with the event of the metrical unit, need not seem intelligible or even explicable through paraphrase: it is still a unit of sense even if the sense united is totally opaque. Without recognising this freedom to

From "Prosody and Reconciliation"

By Keston Sutherland.

Enjambment can disrupt the semantic unit only virtually, because any fragment of syntax is necessarily liable to be construed as a complete semantic unit [...]

Thomas Gray's "Epitaph on a Child," written in 1758 for his friend and lifelong correspondent Thomas Wharton [...]

"Here, free'd from pain, secure from misery, lies / A Child Darling of his Parent's eyes."

[...] This transplant of one part of the utterance into a separate mouth, or into a representation of consciousness less amenable to the author's sense, is now less of a hermeneutic impropriety than it was when Gray obligingly responded to Wharton's request -- if at that point it would have been considered hermeneutic at all, rather than an instance of the reckless abandonment of hermeneutics (eighteenth-century philological tracts suggest the latter). The point is not that every line of poetry is so obviously liable to be construed as a separate semantic event [...] but that every line is, at least in the current stage of philological history, absolutely liable to be so construed.

From "Prosody and Reconciliation"

By Keston Sutherland.

The suggestion is that "truth" has various senses, and that these senses are not accurately distinguishable on conceptual grounds alone (that is, they are not defined merely by their conceptual difference within a system of possible truths), but that their relation is socially fraught and practically overdetermined. The "dominance" of propositional truth over the other senses of truth is particularly problematic when we try to think and write about poems, whose "truth content" is brought to light and exists, as a result, only in the practice of secondary or paraphrastic description. That is, the "truth" of a poem is said to be apprehensible only when its propositional content is made explicit by a paraphrase. For Jarvis, this is at root a problem concerning how knowledge is said to be possessed. The lexical predominance of "content" in poetry-criticism, as elsewhere, reveals for Jarvis a profound metaphysical error: the idea that truth is somehow "in" our heads, just as it is "in" a poem, which means in either case that truth merely awaits extraction by those who can convince us of their competence to extract it. The extracted form of truth is the "proposition." Against this sense of truth Jarvis argues that we must not have knowledge, but be it.

From "Prosody and Reconciliation"

By Keston Sutherland.

The suggestion is that "truth" has various senses, and that these senses are not accurately distinguishable on conceptual grounds alone (that is, they are not defined merely by their conceptual difference within a system of possible truths), but that their relation is socially fraught and practically overdetermined.

Monday, 24 July 2000

From "A Dyall for dainty Darlings"

By William Averell.

In the partes of Normandie , there dwelt a man, more renowmed for his ritchesse, then fortunate in his issue, who, though by byrth he was to some inferiour, yet for substaunce, to many men superiour: so that, I knowe not whether he were more happie in his wealth, or vnhappie in his Sonne, such contrarietie was there, in both these giftes of fortune: that for the one, he was to her beholding: for the other, to accuse her of disdaine. But such is the vnconstauncie of fortunes giftes, that amidde many pleasures, the aucthour of fortune, sendeth some displeasures, least the forgetfull nature of man should decline from the remembraunce of his omnipotencie. This man had but one onely sonne, whome therefore he tenderly and delicately brought vp to mans state, not bending the wyeth while it was greene, nor propping the plant while it was young, by reason whereof the wyeth grew stiffe, and the tree croked: so that it passed Artes integritie, to alter the course of natures deformitie, Quo semel est imbuto recens seruauit odorem : The vessel being new, was at first seasoned with stinking lothsome licquor, so that it was to harde afterward to remoue thereof the sauour: they that will haue fine Spanielles, teach them being small: they that will haue good horsses, bridle them being young: and they that will haue vertuous Children, doo correct them being Infants: otherwise the dogge will not hunt, the Horse will not beare, nor the Chylde liue in honest behauiour: but the one will snarle, the other will kicke, and the thyrd will stubbornelie spurne at his duetie.

From "The Atrocity Exhibition"

By J. G. Ballard.

The Sex Kit. "In a sense," Dr Nathan explained to Koester, "one may regard this as a kit, which Talbert has devised, entitled "Karen Novotny" ... (1) Pad of pubic hair, (2) a latex face mask, (3) six detachable mouths, (4) a set of smiles, ... (7) photo cut-outs of a number of narrative situations -- the girl doing this and that, (8) a list of dialogue samples, of inane chatter ... (15) slides of vaginal smears, chiefly Ortho-Gyno jelly, (16) a set of blood pressures, systolic 120, diastolic 70 rising to 200/150 at onset of orgasm ..."

Saturday, 22 July 2000

From "Dobsons Drie Bobs"

By anon.

[...] His vncle no small man in regard Maister Deane so much respected his nephew, fitted him of euery thing conuenient to his estate, not permitting him to want any thing that the boy wold demaund or say was needeful: and perceiuing his vncle so much to dote vpon him, he plaid the wagge with more libertie then before, and being growne vp to a good sturdy ladde, he first so handled the matter, that hee became captaine of Schooles, and so hampered the whole multitude as no man dared to offend him, but studied by all possible means to inuest themselues into his fauor and friendship, whereof they being possessed, thought themselues as sure as if they had beene shutt vp in Warke castel, for to his fauourites none presumed to offer iniury, or make complaint vpon them, neither the Usher aduentured to punish for what offence soeuer; but by his conniuency, so much he feared his displeasure, whereof he had vpon occasions tasted, and hauing beene once vnder him at shrift, hee found him so strict in the imposition of penaunce, that hee neuer desired afterward to vse him any more for a ghostly father, and the matter came thus to effect. There was in the schoole one Raikebanes, whom Dobson highly loued [...]

From "Walsingham"

By Mary Robinson.

Miss Woodford waved her hand, as if to check the altercation.

"You see, my Lord," said I, "that this is no place for investigating who has and who has not a right here. In the cause of humanity every man is authorized to follow the dictates of his heart; and I should not deserve to be ranked with my fellow-creatures, were I capable of deserting such a woman, and in such a situation. I---I am the cause of all that Miss Woodford suffers---it is to me that she is indebted for these conflicts of mind, which menace even her existence. But I will snatch her from the arms of death---she shall not perish---I will not be her murderer! Look up, Amelia---be comforted---command the wretch who does not deserve thy pity; and let one honourable action, in some degree, prove an extenuation of the folly, the frenzy of his conduct."

"Oh, Walsingham!" sighed Miss Woodford, as she hid her face upon her pillow.

"Walsingham!" interrupted the young lord, with evident surprise, "queer my caxon! are you Walsingham Ainsforth! Here's a kick-up! Why, old Aubrey is waiting at Bristol to marry little Milly. You played truant, my sly one; and women are not to be cajoled without some shew of spirit, my hearty. I advised her to carry the colonel's knapsack---and she's going to head-quarters under my escort. So strike you colours, and beat up for recruits in some other district---little Milly is no match for you, I promise you."

Monday, 17 July 2000

From "The Crowd in History"

By Elias Canetti.

No one has ever really believed that the majority decision is necessarily the wiser one because it has received the greater number of votes. It is will against will as in war. Each is convinced that right and reason are on his side. Conviction comes easily and the purpose of the party is, precisely, to keep this will and conviction alive. The member of an outvoted party accepts the majority decision, not because he has ceased to believe in his own case, but simply because he admits defeat.

Sunday, 16 July 2000

From "Our New Constitution"

By Vernon Bogdanor.

There is been a lot of breast-beating about this point in Britain but it is not peculiar to Britain. It is true of most, if not all, democracies, that people are much less willing to join political parties than they were in the past. This is true whatever the constitutional set-up of the country. Some people say that if we had proportional representation then this would all change - people would then join parties and suddenly come out to vote. Some people say that if we had a federal system of government with more decentralisation then that would all change and people would be more enthused and so on. But countries with those systems have exactly the same problems as Britain. It is not a problem of a particular constitutional structure - it is somehow an endemic problem of modern democracies. I think that the constitutional reform agenda has not dealt with it, because it has not tackled the basis of the problem, which is that people no longer feel that political parties are agents of change as they once were. This was said, interestingly enough, by Gordon Brown, a long time ago when he was in opposition in 1992. He said, 'In the past, people used to join the Labour Party because they saw the Labour Party as an agent of change.' He said, 'Now, people want to be agents of change themselves' - in other words, they do not look to political parties, they believe that they themselves might be agents of change.

One of the reasons for this is that the era of what you might call tribal politics has gone. By tribal politics, I mean that when people used to say 'We have always voted Labour' or 'My father is a Conservative and so I am a Conservative,' I think fifty years ago, one would have heard a lot of that, but one does not hear it now. People do not now say, 'We have always been Conservative or all Labour here.' This is, again, one reason why the support for the two major parties has gone down.

The political agenda has shifted from what political scientists call position politics to what they call valence politics. Position politics is where the parties disagree about fundamentals. For instance, fifty years ago, people disagreed about whether basic industries should be nationalised, whether we should have nuclear weapons or not, whether we should keep the colonies or not etc. - all fundamental disagreements. Now the disagreement is about what political scientists call valence issues. A valence issue is an issue where we all agree about the ends but we disagree about the means. For example, we all agree that there should be a National Health Service. What we disagree about is which party is most efficient at managing and running it. We all broadly agree, within broad limits, that there should be a comprehensive system - David Cameron made that clear last week, at some cost to himself perhaps - but that they need to be supplemented by other sorts of schools but we disagree, perhaps, about which party is best able to secure better schools.

Part of Tony Blair's skill as a politician is to convert position issues into valence issues. Most of the position issues on which the Labour Party was hooked were rather unpopular with the public - more taxation, more public expenditure, more nationalisation etc. People did not like those sorts of things. So what Blair says is: 'We all agree that there ought to be a mix of public and private in the public services, and the question is really about who does it most efficiently, and I think the Labour Party does.' The only way to argue with him is to take an extreme position, on the extreme left, and say, 'Well, it should be only public,' or on the extreme right, to say 'It should be just the market.' If you take those positions, you are probably going to lose elections. So this is why Blair is so difficult to beat. It is called the technique of triangulation - you take two extreme positions and you put yourself in the middle, so you can only be attacked from an extreme and unpopular position. It is a great political skill on his part I think, which he got that from Clinton, and Cameron is trying to adopt also.

So politics is less based on ideology and less tribal, but therefore also in a sense duller. You cannot go to the barricades on behalf of foundation hospitals or city academies. These are issues you can argue about, but you are not going to carry a flag about them. So the difference between the parties are less about ends than about means, and you do not anymore hear the slogans 'Socialism now' or 'Set the people free'. The grip of the parties is less because of this, and it is for this reason that people tend to be disillusioned with political parties. It is not wholly the fault of the parties I think.

Wednesday, 12 July 2000

From a lecture

By Giorgio Agamben.

The most rigorous attempt to construct a theory of the state of emergency can be found in the work of Carl Schmitt. The essentials of his theory can be found in Dictatorship, as well in Political Theology, published one year later. Because these two books, published in the early 1920s, set a paradigm that is not only contemporary, but may in fact find its true completion only today, it is necessary to give a resume of their fundamental theses.

The objective of both these books is to inscribe the state of emergency into a legal context. Schmitt knows perfectly well that the state of emergency, in as far as it enacts a "suspension of the legal order in its totality," seems to "escape every legal consideration"; but for him the issue is to ensure a relation, no matter of what type, between the state of emergency and the legal order: "The state of emergency is always distinguished from anarchy and chaos and, in the legal sense, there is still order in it, even though it is not a legal order." This articulation is paradoxical, since, that which should be inscribed within the legal realm is essentially exterior to it, corresponding to nothing less than the suspension of the legal order itself. Whatever the nature of the operator of this inscription of the state of emergency into the legal order, Schmitt needs to show that the suspension of law still derives from the legal domain, and not from simple anarchy. In this way, the state of emergency introduces a zone of anomy into the law, which, according to Schmitt, renders possible an effective ordering of reality. Now we understand why the theory of the state of emergency, in Political Theology, can be presented as a doctrine of sovereignty. The sovereign, who can proclaim a state of emergency, is thereby ensured of remaining anchored in the legal order. But precisely because the decision here concerns the annulation of the norm, and consequently, because the state of emergency represents the control of a space that is neither external nor internal, "the sovereign remains exterior to the normally valid legal order, and nevertheless belongs to it, since he is responsible for decision whether the Constitution can be suspended in toto." To be outside and yet belong: such is the topological structure of the state of emergency, and since the being of the sovereign, who decides over the exception, is logically defined by this very structure, he may also be characterized by the oxymoron of an "ecstasy-belonging."

Monday, 10 July 2000

The Day Thatcher Dies

We will laugh the day that Thatcher dies,
Even though we know it's not right,
We will dance and sing all night.

I was blind in 1979, by '82 I had clues,
By 1986 I was mad as hell.
The teachers at school, they took us for fools,
They never taught us what to do,
But Christ we were strong, we knew all along,
We taught ourselves the right from wrong.

And the punk rock kids, and the techno kids,
No, it's not their fault.
And the hip hop boys and heavy metal girls,
No, it's not their fault.

It was love, but Tories don't know what that means,
She was Michelle Cox from the lower stream,
She wore high-heeled shoes while the rest wore flat soles.
And the playground taught her how to be cruel,
I talked politics and she called me a fool,
She wrapped her ankle chain round my left wing heart.

Ding dong, the witch is dead, which old witch?
The wicked witch.
Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead.

Sunday, 9 July 2000

From an interview with Kristin Prevallet

I’m an anarchist in thought but not in practice. In practice, I’m an old fashioned European Democratic Socialist. The problem is that there is no political theory which works as an organizing system for all of the contradictions in human nature.

Saturday, 8 July 2000

When I started smoking it occupied my mind constantly during the days but I don't think I ever dreamed about it.

Depression's Gone From Thee Blues

It kind of sucks coming back from Cork and losing the ability to act a bit like jUStin!katKO, you know? Like what am I going to do if someone I don't know talks to me?

Friday, 7 July 2000

From "The Shape of the Signifier"

By Walter Benn Michaels.

The point of the appeal to perspective is that it eliminates disagreement. To see things differently because we see from different perspectives is to see the same thing differently but without contradiction [...] More radically, if we understand different perspectives not merely as seeing the same thing from different points of view but as constituting different objects, as seeing different things, then there is still no disagreement [...] And this essentializing of the subject-position does not depend on any account of that position which might be called essentialist. Because it has nothing to do with the question of what determines the subject-position (race, culture, sex, gender) and has to do only with the relevance of the subject-position, however determined, identity plays the same role in (so-called) antiessentialist accounts of the subject as it does in essentialist accounts.

From "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

"They think you're a misogynist."
"Why, cuz I called the guy a cunt? So what?"
"-- cuz you called the guy a cunt."
"Big deal, I call men pricks all the time!"

[...]

"Well, cunt's worse."
"Cunt's not worse. Pricks and cunts, they're equal."

[...]

"No, cunt is worse. Cunt's much heavier."

Sunday, 2 July 2000

From "The Second Treatise of Civil Government"

By John Locke.

Sect. 132. THE majority having, as has been shewed, upon men's first uniting into society, the whole power of the community naturally in them, may employ all that power in making laws for the community from time to time, and executing those laws by officers of their own appointing; and then the form of the government is a perfect democracy: or else may put the power of making laws into the hands of a few select men, and their heirs or successors; and then it is an oligarchy: or else into the hands of one man, and then it is a monarchy: if to him and his heirs, it is an hereditary monarchy: if to him only for life, but upon his death the power only of nominating a successor to return to them; an elective monarchy. And so accordingly of these the community may make compounded and mixed forms of government, as they think good. And if the legislative power be at first given by the majority to one or more persons only for their lives, or any limited time, and then the supreme power to revert to them again; when it is so reverted, the community may dispose of it again anew into what hands they please, and so constitute a new form of government: for the form of government depending upon the placing the supreme power, which is the legislative, it being impossible to conceive that an inferior power should prescribe to a superior, or any but the supreme make laws, according as the power of making laws is placed, such is the form of the common-wealth.