Archive for the ‘Positions & Predicaments’ Category

Cornell West on Barack Obama

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

“Opportunist to the core . . . more or less an extension of Wall Street.”

Freedom of Speech

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Some things you’re not supposed to say . . .

  • Israelis are Nazis.
  • The Germans loved Hitler.
  • Americans are little baby children.
  • The ruling class is sociopathic.
  • A job is a cheat and a swindle.
  • Education teaches nothing.
  • Experts have more education than anybody.
  • Freedom is a commodity.
  • Barack Obama is an Oreo.
  • God is dead.
  • This post is for Anne Ostrenko, A. C. Lambeth, Dan Denoon, and Erick Dittus.


    Sunday, February 21st, 2010

    My wife is a schoolteacher in Cobb County, Georgia.  She spent Monday and Tuesday of this week in a training session, termed “professional development” or some other highfalutin phrase meaning training.  The trainers were former teachers who are now teaching teachers; in other words, they couldn’t hack it in the classrooms, so they became what are termed managers, or some other highfalutin phrase meaning hack.  The hacks talked a lot of talk about theories that have no real application in a real classroom, but which pass for “thinking” about education in today’s America, that is, in a land of ironic illusion where what you see is the demo and what you get is shit.

    In a nutshell, a scene transpired closely resembling the following:

    TRAINER: Blah blah blah no child left blah blah.
    TEACHER: That won’t work in our classrooms because of blah blah and you know it.
    TRAINER: Well, you’re right, that’s true, but really, ladies and gentlemen, teachers, that is, there’s nothing we can do about it, and really, I’m just trying to do my job.
    TEACHER: That’s what Adolf Eichmann would say!
    STUDENT: Who is Adolf Eichmann?


    Sunday, February 21st, 2010

    Nothing is “greater” than one human life.  Nothing is more important.  Or more meaningless.  Simultaneously.  The meaning, and the insignificance, of one human life transcends logical classification.  This transcendence must be faced — this contradiction and others like it — must be grasped if the human species is to survive. We are — we exist — only beyond reason.  Reality is beyond reason. Is not comprehended in its completeness by reason.  Only incompletely comprehensible and expressible in words.  If this fact is not accepted in all its consequences, we are all going to perish.  (Note that because our reasonable, incomplete understanding yields marvels — smallpox vaccine, 747s — we are profoundly distracted from the truth — distracted at depth.)

    Lost It at the Movies

    Sunday, February 21st, 2010

    James Agee notes in one of his film reviews that Uhmericans have the lowest self-esteem of any people on earth.  The current crop of movies certainly gives expression to this phenomenon, as it has increasingly since the release in 1977 of the aboriginal Blockbuster, Star Wars.  More important, W. Bush gives supreme expression to the Uhmerican level of self-regard and self-respect, which is approximately equivalent to that of a sick alcoholic.

    Some of you may recall an oral history of punk rock entitled Please Kill Me! The title was derived from a picture of three punks, which the book carried on its cover, holding a sign that said “Please Kill Me!”

    This picture is the symbolic equivalent of the collective death wish of the Uhmerican public, which has been shrieking, metaphorically, PLEASE KILL ME! at an ever-increasing volume since the inventions of the modern corporation, commercial television, and the Nielsen rating system — the last, of course, being the prototype for the Diebold electronic “voting” machine.


    Sunday, November 15th, 2009

    The thing is to stay sober in an unjust, absurd world.  The thing is never mentioned by Camus et al because they lacked spiritual depth:  the absurd world was crafted by an equally absurd God.  The latest issue of National Geographic has a cover story:  “New Orleans:  Should They Rebuild?”  Which certainly shows just how much we can believe in “technology” and its ability to “save us.”

    I learned this at my mother’s knee.  At our house, absurdity was a family value.

    Assured repeatedly that I could not succeed at what I wanted to do, tacitly assured that what I wanted did not matter, I finally elected to rot in peace.  I never bothered learning to “fit in,” since I never expected to.  I learned how to “be quiet” — be quiet, I discovered, and, mostly, They Will Leave You Alone.  Except for the random high-school sociopath, here and there.  And I do not know to this day how to “fit in” — how to game the system, the crowd.  How to “get on the right side of the Unfairness,” as a friend of mine in the A&A puts it.  The right side of injustice, bigotry, ignorance, brutality, force, etc.  That is the whole art of being Middle Class, and it, as well, is absurd.  It’s absurd if you can’t do it, and it’s absurd if you can (it’s “fitting in” and still suffering).  And I’ve got, in my individual and particular absurdity, to stay sober in these (absurd) conditions, whether I want to or not.

    In the universe of Alcoholism, “staying sober” is the ultimate Absurdity.  That makes alcoholism itself only the penultimate Absurdity.  So the thing is to stay sober through an Absurd life.  To act Absurdly when confronted by an Absurd life.  As if God were The Drunk.

    In regard to a certain school of the A&A, is it true that I only have “one problem”?  I dont know.  Is it not truer to say that so far I have found only “one solution”?  And that it is far from satisfactory?