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.

Monday, October 31, 2005


He says No! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes.

-- Herman Melville, letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, April 1851

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

strange fitz of passion have I known

"TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?"
--Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

simple pleasures

Marilyn reads Ulysses
Eve Arnold, "Marilyn Monroe Reading Ulysses" (Long Island, 1954)

"By the way, in this job, there are some simple pleasures in life that really help you cope. One is Barney the dog, and the other is books. I mean, books are a great escape. Books are a way to get your mind on something else."
--George W. Bush 1/30/05

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Orwell #10

His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink. -- Orwell, 1984, 1948

Are you referring to, what, a New York Daily News report? Two things: One, we're not commenting on an ongoing investigation; two, and I would challenge the overall accuracy of that news account. -- Scott McClellan, Press Gaggle, Today

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

things fall apart

Horatio: A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye.
In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets:
As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
Disasters in the sun; and the moist star
Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse:
And even the like precurse of fierce events,
As harbingers preceding still the fates
And prologue to the omen coming on,
Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
Unto our climatures and countrymen.--
But soft, behold! lo, where it comes again!
--Hamlet I.i

Monday, October 17, 2005

Minor Characters

Jim Wilkinson.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

had had

A man borrows a kettle from his neighbour. When he returns it, the neighbour complains that it’s got a hole in it. Don’t look at me, says our man, I never borrowed your kettle. Besides, it was fine when I gave it back to you. I wish I’d never borrowed it anyway - it’s useless, it’s got a great big hole in it. -- Freud

His main theme echoed that of other senior officials: that contrary to Mr. Wilson's criticism, the administration had had ample reason to be concerned about Iraq's nuclear capabilities based on the regime's history of weapons development, its use of unconventional weapons and fresh intelligence reports. -- Miller

Saturday, October 15, 2005

the persistence of memory

"Mr. Fitzgerald asked me about another entry in my notebook, where I had written the words 'Valerie Flame,' clearly a reference to Ms. Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald wanted to know whether the entry was based on my conversations with Mr. Libby. I said I didn't think so. I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall.

Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I could recall discussing the Wilson-Plame connection with other sources. I said I had, though I could not recall any by name or when those conversations occurred....

...I told the grand jury about my last encounter with Mr. Libby. It came in August 2003, shortly after I attended a conference on national security issues held in Aspen, Colo. After the conference, I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyo. At a rodeo one afternoon, a man in jeans, a cowboy hat and sunglasses approached me. He asked me how the Aspen conference had gone. I had no idea who he was.

'Judy,' he said. 'It's Scooter Libby.' "

--Judith Miller, "My Four Hours Testifying in the Federal Grand Jury Room," NYT 10/16/05


Leonard Shelby: "If we talk for too long, I'll forget how we started. Next time I see you, I'm not gonna remember this conversation. I don't even know if I've met you before."
--Memento (2000)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


You walked into the party
Like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot.
You had one eye on the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner, and...

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? don’t you?

You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and...

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? don’t you?

Well I hear you went up to saratoga and your horse naturally won
Then you flew your lear jet up to nova scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not you’re with
Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
Wife of a close friend, and...

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? don’t you?

-- Carly Simon, "You're So Vain"

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Battle Anthem for the Fightin' Dems of Aught-Six

The mountain sheep are sweeter,
But the valley sheep are fatter;
We therefore deemed it meeter
To carry off the latter.
We made an expedition;
We met a host, and quelled it;
We forced a strong position,
And killed the men who held it.

On Dyfed's richest valley,
Where herds of kine were browsing,
We made a mighty sally,
To furnish our carousing.
Fierce warriors rushed to meet us;
We met them, and o'erthrew them:
They struggled hard to beat us;
But we conquered them, and slew them.

As we drove our prize at leisure,
The king marched forth to catch us:
His rage surpassed all measure,
But his people could not match us.
He fled to his hall-pillars;
And, ere our force we led off,
Some sacked his house and cellars,
While others cut his head off.

We there, in strife bewild'ring,
Spilt blood enough to swim in:
We orphaned many children,
And widowed many women.
The eagles and the ravens
We glutted with our foemen;
The heroes and the cravens,
The spearmen and the bowmen.

We brought away from battle,
And much their land bemoaned them,
Two thousand head of cattle,
And the head of him who owned them:
Ednyfed, king of Dyfed,
His head was borne before us;
His wine and beasts supplied our feasts,
And his overthrow, our chorus.

--Thomas Love Peacock, "The War-song of Dinas Vawr" (1829)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

at home he's a tourist

Don't stop out too late at night
Stop! It's a caution

Don't cross the red light
Stop! It's a caution

To act for the good for congressman is money
The right to get rich is in the constitution
Talk of corruption is to preach insurrection
Elected to power men suspend self-interest

You and I, we are satellites, it's a shame
You and I, we are satellites, it's a shame

(Making money is making sense)
(Making money is making sense)
It's a shame
(It's logical, making sense)
(Making money is making sense)

To act for the good is to defend our homeland
A balance of power will ensure our safety
To step out of line is to risk disaster
To walk in the rain is to risk pneumonia
A balance of power will ensure our safety...

--Gang of Four, "Life, It's a Shame" (1982)
[Go4 links: !, @, #, &, %]

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Real Thing

I noticed the bouquet of tulips on her coffee table, and the sight of them struck me with shame. Some guys show up with flowers, I thought; other guys just show up.

-- Tom Perrotta, Joe College

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Patrick, der Zorn Gottes

We see the Molly Aida shove off from the riverbank, smoke pouring out of the chimney. People wave, some toss their hats in the air. Yes, Fitzcarraldo has friends. The Molly Aida picks up speed and heads upstream. The cheering dies down, the people stare in disbelief.

On the riverbank we see Molly. Shouts are heard. "Wherever is he going? He's going upstream!"

The three Borja brothers step up to Molly in incredulous astonishment. "He's not going to the Ucayali River. He should be heading downstream," says Clodomiro Borja.

Molly suddenly stops weeping; pride surges up in her. "Yes," she says, "you have seen right. Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald is moving against the Amazon!"

--Werner Herzog, Fitzcarraldo (1982) [story]

The Horror! The Horror!

From the editors who brought you Bush's War.

Monday, October 03, 2005

August Wilson 1945-2005

The Piano Lesson
Romare Bearden, "The Piano Lesson" (1983)

a curious encounter

"I awoke early one morning and noticed a peculiar woman outside my window pane. She worked brusquely sweeping the cobblestones in the street below with a long broom made of twigs wielded in a circular motion. Every so often, however, she would stop, and in that pause, a small bird flew down from its mansard and perched upon her shoulder.

This woman, whom I had never before had occasion to notice, would then speak to this sparrow in a hoarse whisper that I could barely make out, so much so that I took in nothing of her actual words. What was remarkable to me was that this bird seemed to listen, and then, when she'd finished, would alight and make to the nearest sign-pole where it would warble as she swept.

Now this sweeper, dressed all in black, might have otherwise made a foul impression on me. Her countenance was grim and her attitude gruff. Indeed, I realized that the percussive rasp of her broom on the paving stones had awoken me from my slumber.

But her friendship with this delightful dunnock redeemed all such foulness. And, like a springtime sun breaking through a cold morning's rain, gave me quite a large measure of happiness and light. Since I had arranged that morning to meet some acquantainces at a nearby coffeehouse, I shuffled downstairs in good mood, intent on making inquiry of this woman and her remarkable bird. Alas, just as I had put on my boots to step out-of-doors I saw her figure pass out of my street, followed closely by her avian companion, flapping its wings behind her.

I must admit that although I never saw this woman again, it has given me a curious joy to think on her since...I often wonder what became of her and her friend."

-from Darby's Journey into London, and other tales of Alacrity and Woe, 1754

Saturday, October 01, 2005

looks like meat's back on the menu, boys

“Alas for the folly of these days!” said Legolas. “Here all are enemies of the one Enemy, and yet I must walk blind, while the sun is merry in the woodland under leaves of gold!”
“Folly it may seem,” said Haldir. “Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.”
--J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Man (1938)

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