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, July 29, 2005

Journal of the United State

Are you familiar with that strange state in which you wake up in the middle of the night, when you open your eyes into the darkness, and then suddenly feel you are lost in the dark; you quickly, quickly begin to feel around, seeking in the Journal of the United State; quickly, quickly--I found this:

"The celebration of the Day of Unanimity, long awaited by all, took place yesterday. The same Well-Doer who so often has proved his unshakable wisdom was unanimously re-elected for the forty-eighth time. The celebration was clouded by a little confusion, created by the enemies of happiness, who by their action naturally lost the right to be the bricks for the foundation of the renovated United State. It is clear to everyone that to take their votes into account would mean to consider as a part of a magnificent, heroic symphony the accidental cough of a sick person who happened to be in the concert hall."

Oh, great Sage! Is it really true that despite everything we are saved? What objection, indeed, can one find to this most crystalline syllogism?

-- Yevgenii Zamyatin, We
(Trans. Gregory Zilboorg)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


In humble imitation of a prudent course, universally adopted by aeronauts, the Author of these volumes throws them up as his pilot balloon, trusting it may catch favourable current and devoutly and earnestly hoping it may go off well -- a sentiment in which his Publisher cordially concurs.

Unlike the generality of pilot balloons which carry no car, in this one it is very possible for a man to embark, not only himself, but all his hopes of future fame, and all his chances of future success. Entertaining no inconsiderable feeling of trepidation at the idea of making so perilous a voyage in so frail a machine, alone and unaccompanied, the Author was naturally desirous to secure the assistance and companionship of some well-known individual, who had frequently contributed to the success, though his well-earned reputation rendered it impossible for him to ever have shared the hazard, of similar undertakings. To whom, as possessing the requisite in an eminent degree, could he apply but to GEORGE CRUIKSHANK? The application was readily heard, and at once acceded to: this is their first voyage in company, but it may not be their last.

If any further excuse be wanted for adding this book to the hundreds which every season produces, the Author may be permitted to plead the favourable reception, which several of the following Sketches received, on their original appearance in different periodicals. In behalf of the remainder, he can only entreat the kindness and the favour of the public: his object has been to present little pictures of life and manners as they really are; and should they be approved of, he hopes to repeat his experiment with increased confidence, and on a greater scale.

-- Charles Dickens, "Preface to the First Edition of the First Series," Sketches by Boz

Friday, July 22, 2005


The slow constellations wheeled on. It would be dawn and then sun-up after a while and he would he hungry. But that would be to-morrow and now he was only cold, and walking would cure that. His breathing was easier now, and he decided to get up and go on, and then he found that he had been asleep because he knew it was almost dawn, the night almost over. He could tell that from the whippoorwills. They were everywhere now among the dark trees below him, constant and inflectioned and ceaseless, so that, as the instant for giving over to the day birds drew nearer and nearer, there was no interval at all between them. He got up. He was a little stiff, but walking would cure that too as it would the cold, and soon there would be the sun. He went on down the hill, toward the dark woods within which the liquid silver voices of the birds called unceasing--the rapid and urgent beating of the urgent and quiring heart of the late spring night. He did not look back.

--William Faulkner, "Barn Burning" (1938)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Orwell #7

"At 50, everyone has the face that he deserves." -- Last Literary Notebook (The Complete Works of George Orwell, ed. Peter Davison, Volume 20, 213)

"But one look at the guy's picture: and you can tell it's not going to be easy to pin the "radical right" label on him." -- Billmon, 7/20/05

"No guilty person is ever punished. So far as subjective feelings go, a person who is in a position to be punished has become the victim, & has therefore become innocent. This is perfectly well understood, internally, by everyone concerned. When a murderer is hanged, there is only one person present at the ceremony who is not guilty of murder. The hangman, the warders, the governor, the doctor, the chaplain -- they are all guilty: but the man standing on the drop is innocent. Everyone who has ever seen an execution knows this, & indeed even the public which gloats over the reports in the News of the World knows it after a fashion; the vast bulk of what is said & written in favour of capital punishment is simply a hypercritical cover for continuing to enjoy the pleasures of being guilty and indulging in murder, while remaining respectable." -- Last Literary Notebook, ibid.

"With the blessings of the Bush White House, a team of conservative leaders self-dubbed 'the four horsemen' formed in 2002 and has taken over much of the planning for the nomination fight. These men are C. Boyden Gray, an establishment lawyer who chairs the Committee for Justice; Jay Alan Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice; Leonard A. Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; and Edwin A. Meese III, attorney general during part of the Reagan administration.' -- The Washington Post, "The Right's Moment, Years in the Making," Thomas B. Edsall and Dana Milbank, 7/3/05

"You don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That's contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect." -- Edwin Meese, U.S. News and World Report, 10/14/85

Friday, July 15, 2005

A Story of 0

In a state of perpetual lockdown, Falluja is far more secure today than it was before the November invasion, and safer than nearby Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, the heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency. In the elections in January, when only 2 percent of Anbar's eligible voters went to the polls, a reasonably secure Falluja was a singular bright spot, with about a third of eligible voters taking part. The city had 30,000 residents then. -- NY Times, July 15 2005, 8 Months After U.S.-Led Siege, Insurgents Rise Again in Falluja

Regaining control of Falluja from the American and Iraqi forces is a critical goal for the insurgency, American military commanders here say. For much of last year, this city of 300,000 was the largest haven in Iraq for the guerrillas, suspected of being the source of suicide car bombs in Baghdad and videos showing the beheadings of foreigners. -- NY Times, July 15 2005, 8 Months After U.S.-Led Siege, Insurgents Rise Again in Falluja

Friday, July 08, 2005

safe european home

Stay around don't play around this old town and all
Seems like I got to travel on
A lot of people won't get no supper tonight
A lot of people won't get no justice tonight
The battle is getting hotter
In this iration
Armagideon time
A lot of people running and a hiding tonight
A lot of people won't get no justice tonight
Remember to kick it over
No one will guide you - Armagideon time

--The Clash, "Armagideon Time" (1980) [orig. W.Williams]

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Tithing Halliburton

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would seek next week to double the amount of funding allocated in fiscal 2006 to rail security and mass-transit security, including subways and buses.

The amendment to the annual homeland-security spending bill would double the $100 million currently proposed for both mass transit and rail security, allocating $100 million for each. It would also double funding for bus security improvements to $20 million. Fiscal 2006 begins Oct. 1. . . .

But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his agency had completed a review of security needs and would be coming out soon with policy proposals of its own.

"I wouldn't make a policy decision driven by a single event," Chertoff said at a news conference.

Democrats, including Schumer, have long pushed for increased funding for rail and bus security.

London Blasts Fuel Spending Fight, Market Watch, July 7, 2005


A top U.S. Army procurement official said on Monday Halliburton's deals in Iraq were the worst example of contract abuse she had seen as Pentagon auditors flagged over $1 billion of potential overcharges by the Texas-based firm.

Halliburton's Iraq Deals Described as Contract Abuse, Reuters, June 27, 2005

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Orwell #6

A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him. It is perhaps more significant that Tolstoy sees no justification for the presence of the Fool. The Fool is integral to the play. He acts not only as a sort of chorus, making the central situation clearer by commenting on it more intelligently than the other characters, but as a foil to Lear’s frenzies. His jokes, riddles and scraps of rhyme, and his endless digs at Lear’s high-minded folly, ranging from mere derision to a sort of melancholy poetry (“All thy other titles thou has given away; that thou wast born with”), are like a trickle of sanity running through the play, a reminder that somewhere or other, in spite of the injustices, cruelties, intrigues, deceptions and misunderstandings that are being enacted here, life is going on much as usual.

"Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool," 1947

Man (1938)

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