Cartel of Defiance

cartel of defiance (noun): 1. In medieval combat, a formal declaration, delivered by herald, of a combatant's intention to fight and refusal to submit. 2. An electronic assemblage of engaged and enraged citizens. 3. An intertextual mode of reading, writing, and thinking that puts the current political, cultural, and personal moment in dialogue with text/art from the past in counterargument to the ahistorical Memory Hole into which America seems to have slipped.

Friday, May 20, 2005

These aren't our old traditions, Toto

What will be the outcome of this impact of a special branch of modern science [modern physics] on different powerful old traditions? In those parts of the world in which modern science has been developed the primary interest has been directed for a long time toward practical activity, industry and engineering combined with a rational analysis of the outer and inner conditions for such activity. Such people will find it rather easy to cope with the new ideas since they have had time for a slow and gradual adjustment to the modern scientific methods of thinking. In other parts of the world these ideas would be confronted with the religious and philosphical foundations of native culture. Since it is true that the results of modern physics do touch such fundamental concepts as reality, space and time, the confrontation may lead to entirely new developments which cannot yet be forseen. One characteristic feature of this meeting between modern science and the older methods of thinking will be its complete internationality. In this exchange of thoughts the one side, the old tradition, will be different in different parts of the world, but the other side will be the same everywhere and therefore the results of this exchange will be spread over all areas in which the discussions take place.

-- Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (1958)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

pull out his eyes, apologize


[Otto dangles Archie out a window]
Archie: All right, all right, I apologize.
Otto: You're really sorry.
Archie: I'm really really sorry, I apologize unreservedly.
Otto: You take it back.
Archie: I do, I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you, or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future.
Otto: OK.

--J.Cleese, A Fish Called Wanda (1988) [audio]

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Does anyone else feel this dull black cloud of apprehension hanging over the impending political conflicts in the Senate? We have a President who was put into office by a bare majority of Supreme Court Justices, having lost the popular vote and with uncounted votes from citizens in Florida. Now, the President wants to appoint new Supreme Court Justices who would be approved without the normal majority required by the Senate.

It is probably true -- and somewhat heartening -- that this collapse of the seperation of powers could play well to Democratic electoral ambitions in 2006 and beyond; just as the Terry Schiavo case was repudiated so quickly by most Americans. But, at the same time, this will only take place because we will witness such a collapse: the Senate *will* no longer be a minority-rights Body; the President *will* transform the courts even as the conservative Court chose the President in 2000. And it is *our* party -- the Democratic party -- who will be trampled on. Even the one vestige of power we have left, those votes of the 45 senators (who represent, of course, a *majority* of citizens, since they are from disproportionately populous states) will mean nothing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

no child left behind

Humphrey Spender,
--Humphrey Spender, "Wasteland, Bolton, 1937"

Friday, May 06, 2005

ignorance is strength

It is a common sentence that Knowledge is power; but who hath duly considered or set forth the power of Ignorance? Knowledge slowly builds up what Ignorance in an hour pulls down. Knowledge, through patient and frugal centuries, enlarges discovery and makes record of it; Ignorance, wanting its day’s dinner, lights a fire with the record, and gives a flavour to its one roast with the burnt souls of many generations. Knowledge, instructing the sense, refining and multiplying needs, transforms itself into skill and makes life various with a new six days’ work; comes Ignorance drunk on the seventh, with a firkin of oil and a match and an easy “Let there not be” — and the many-coloured creation is shrivelled up in blackness. Of a truth, Knowledge is power, but it is a power reined by scruple, having a conscience of what must he and what may be; whereas Ignorance is a blind giant who, let him but wax unbound, would make it a sport to seize the pillars that hold up the long-wrought fabric of human good, and turn all the places of joy dark as a buried Babylon. And looking at life parcel-wise, in the growth of a single lot, who having a practised vision may not see that ignorance of the true bond between events, and false conceit of means whereby sequences may be compelled — like that falsity of eyesight which overlooks the gradations of distance, seeing that which is afar off as if it were within a step or a grasp precipitates the mistaken soul on destruction?

--George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, Chap. XXI

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

In the Valley

Poet, be seated at the piano.
Play the present, its hoo-hoo-hoo,
Its shoo-shoo-shoo, its ric-a-nic,
Its envious cachinnation.

If they throw stones upon the roof
While you practice arpeggios,
It is because they carry down the stairs
A body in rags.
Be seated at the piano.

That lucid souvenir of the past,
The divertimento;
That airy dream of the future,
The unclouded concerto . . .
The snow is falling.
Strike the piercing chord.

Be thou the voice,
Not you. Be thou, be thou
The voice of angry fear,
The voice of the besieging pain.

Be thou that wintry sound
As of the great wind howling,
By which sorrow is released,
Dismissed, absovled
In a starry placating.

We may return to Mozart.
He was young, and we, we are old.
The snow is falling
And the streets are full of cries.
Be seated, thou.

Wallace Stevens, "Mozart, 1935"

Monday, May 02, 2005

mission accomplished

Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast.
There wasn't even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It
appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her
ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns
stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up
lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty
immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible,
firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a
small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would
disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech—and nothing
happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the
proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was
not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a
camp of natives—he called them enemies!—hidden out of sight somewhere.

--Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Sunday, May 01, 2005

No Spin Zone

To Dunya and Razumikhin, Sonya's letters at first seemed somehow dry and unsatisfactory; but in the end they both found that they even could not have been written better, because as a result these letters gave a most complete and precise idea of their unfortunate brother's lot. Sonya's letter were filled with the most ordinary actuality, the most simple and clear description of all the circumstances of Raskolnikov's life at hard labor. They contained no account of her own hopes, no guessing about the future, no descriptions of her own feelings. In place of attempts to explain the state of his soul, or the whole of his inner life generally, there stood only facts -- that is, his own words, detailed reports of the condition of his health, of what he had wanted at their meeting on such-and-such a day, what he had asked for, what he told her to do, and so on. All this news was given in great detail. In the end the image of their unfortunate brother stood forth of itself, clearly and precisely drawn: no mistake was possible here, because these were all true facts.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, Epilogue, trans. by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Man (1938)

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