Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Sporadic Summer Posting

Well, I just got into Ireland on Friday after a few days holed up down in Mexico which is why I haven’t put anything up in a while. I’ll only update the blog now and then during the summer—I need a break from all the nonsense!

I attended a lecture by Julia Kristeva in Trinity College yesterday evening in which she quoted herself as saying that “One may feel more of a foreigner in France than in any other country, but at the same time one is better off being a foreigner in France than in any other country.”

Being something of a Francophile myself—and bound for Paris in a week or so—I hate to add to the current “Gall contra Gallois,” but I’d imagine, in the wake of the headscarf fiasco, that there are one or two Muslims over there now who do not exactly share Kristeva’s sentiments. I remember that a group of prominent feminists signed a petition in Elle supporting the ban, but I have no idea whether Kristeva was among them...

Thursday, May 20, 2004

adversus mathematicos...

How admirable he is
Who does not think “life is ephemeral”
When he sees a flash of lightning!


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Good News

U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan has thrown Ashcroft's case against Greenpeace out of court. The fascists have been defeated (for the moment…)

Saturday, May 15, 2004

More on the Impending Greenpeace Trial…

…from Bill McKibben in the Los Angeles Times.

The Daily Mirror Photographs were a Hoax

Details here.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Not War, but Peace

Nietzsche’s pugnacious pronouncements on war and warriors are notorious. “I am warlike by nature,” he writes in Ecce Homo, for example. “Attacking is one of my instincts.” The following game-theoretic reflections on pre-emptive disarmament comprise an interesting contrast to his better known militaristic aphorisms, and are worth considering at a time when American foreign policy seems guided on the contrary by a favourite motto of Caligula’s—oderint dum metuant: let them hate so long as they fear. The problem with such a strategy is that human beings in extremis are better at hating than they are at fearing, so that it is doomed to failure beyond a certain critical point, which has already been surpassed in the minds of some people. In any event, Nietzsche’s pacifistic suggestions—which have to do with good old fashioned state sponsored warfare rather than modern terrorist tactics—are hardly in much danger of being implemented by the Pentagon any time soon…

The means to real peace.—No government nowadays admits that it maintains an army so as to satisfy occasional thirsts for conquest; the army is supposed to be for defence. That morality which sanctions self-protection is called upon to be its advocate. But that means to reserve morality to oneself and to accuse one’s neighbour of immorality, since he has to be thought of as ready for aggression and conquest if our own state is obliged to take thought of means of self-defence; moreover, when our neighbour denies any thirst for aggression just as heatedly as our State does, and protests that he too maintains an army only for reasons of legitimate self-defence, our declaration of why we require an army declares our neighbour a hypocrite and cunning criminal who would be only too happy to pounce upon a harmless and unprepared victim and subdue him without a struggle. This is how all states now confront one another: they presuppose an evil disposition in their neighbour and a benevolent disposition in themselves. This presupposition, however, is a piece of inhumanity as bad as, if not worse than, a war would be; indeed, fundamentally it already constitutes an invitation to and cause of wars, because, as aforesaid, it imputes immorality to one’s neighbour and thereby seems to provoke hostility and hostile acts on his part. The doctrine of the army as a means of self-defence must be renounced just as completely as the thirst for conquest. And perhaps there will come a great day on which a nation distinguished for wars and victories and for the highest development of military discipline and thinking, and accustomed to making the heaviest sacrifices on behalf of these things, will cry of its own free will: ‘we shall shatter the sword’—and demolish its entire military machine down to its last foundations. To disarm while being the best armed, out of an elevation of sensibility—that is the means to real peace, which must always rest on a disposition for peace: whereas the so-called armed peace such as now parades about in every country is a disposition to fractiousness which trusts neither itself nor its neighbour and fails to lay down its arms half out of hatred, half out of fear. Better to perish than to hate and fear, and twofold better to perish than to make oneself hated and feared—this must one day become the supreme maxim of every individual state!— As is well known, our liberal representatives of the people lack the time to reflect on the nature of man: otherwise they would know that they labour in vain when they work for a ‘gradual reduction of the military burden’. On the contrary, it is only when this kind of distress is at its greatest that the only kind of god that can help here will be closest at hand. The tree of the glory of war can be destroyed only at a single stroke, by a lightning-bolt: lightning, however, as you well know, comes out of a cloud and from on high.—

—The Wanderer and his Shadow, section 284, translated by R. J. Hollingdale

Bush v. Greenpeace

John Ashcroft’s Justice Department wants to declare Greenpeace a criminal organization under an obscure 1872 law against “sailor-mongering” in an unprecedented move to indict an entire advocacy group for free speech related activities of a few of its members. The case goes to trial next week. Here's hoping that democracy prevails over fascism...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.

The Daily Mislead is keeping up the good work and has now been joined by Timothy McSweeney's Daily Reason to Dispatch Bush.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Alfred North Whitehead to Bertrand Russell:

Quoted in the latter’s Portraits from Memory, p. 39

“You think the world is what it seems like in fair weather at noon-day. I think it is what it seems like in the early morning when one first wakes from sleep.”

Now and again I think it is more like how it seems at the witching hour of night!

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Another Geneva Convention Violation

This video footage shows a wounded Iraqi being killed from an American helicopter.

Friday, May 07, 2004

A President Beyond the Law

“There was a stunning moment in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address when he said that more than 3,000 suspected terrorists ‘have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem for the United States.’”

—Anthony Lewis in the New York Times

Looks like some of them are a problem now!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

We’re All Salman Rusdhies Now

I’m not sure whether I qualify, but if so, I’m worth more dead than alive!

Prepare to find yourself speechless...

On Rush Limbaugh’s radio show the other day a caller couldn’t understand what all the fuss over the torture of Iraqi POWs was about, comparing the pyramid of naked men to a “college fraternity prank.” “Exactly. Exactly my point!” Limbaugh agreed. “This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we’re going to ruin people’s lives over it and we’re going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You heard of the need to blow some steam off?”

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Former Diplomats Attack Bush

Last week’s scathing attack on Blair’s Middle East policy by fifty-two former British diplomats has inspired fifty-three former American diplomats to condemn Bush’s misbegotten endorsement of Sharon’s obsolescent withdrawal plan.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Daily Mirror on British War Crimes

It had seemed that British forces were doing slightly better than their American counterparts in Iraq, but these pictures put that in doubt. A more astute feminist student of the media than I am could probably write an interesting essay on the dismally distasteful front page of April 30th’s Mirror.

The incongruity between the portrayals of—and attitudes towards—naked human flesh on the two halves of the page could hardly be more glaring. We’re invited to deplore the dehumanization of the Iraqi prisoners in one breath and to connive at the degradation of women in the other. The absurd juxtaposition conveys some strange message about the banalization of sexuality and violence, but I’m just not sure what exactly it is. O tempora, O mores!

A Few Verses a Few Days Late

Well, I guess I missed Poem in your Pocket Day, the last day of National Poetry Month. Here, two days late, is a famous translation of an old Irish love poem which is terrible and beautiful at once.

The Grief of a Girl’s Heart


Translated from the Irish by Lady Gregory

O Donall og, if you go across the sea,
bring myself with you and do not forget it;
and you will have a sweetheart for fair days and market days,
and the daughter of the King of Greece beside you at night.

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird,
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

O Donall og,
it is I would be better to you
than a high proud, spendthrift lady:
I would milk the cow; I would bring help to you;
and if you were hard pressed,
I would strike a blow for you.

O, ochone,
and it's not with hunger or with wanting food,
or drink, or sleep, that I am growing thin,
and my life is shortened;
but it is the love of a young man has withered me away.

It is early in the morning that I saw him coming,
going along the road on the back of a horse;
he did not come to me;
he made nothing of me;
and it is on my way home that I cried my fill.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.
And myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving my love to you for ever.

O, aya!
My mother, give myself to him;
and give him all that you have in the world;
get out yourself to ask for alms,
and do not come back and forward looking for me.

My mother said to me not to be talking with you to-day,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or the black coal that is on the smith's forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you put that darkness into my life.

You have taken the east from me;
you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon,
you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great
that you have taken God from me!

A few hundred more or less, what’s the difference?

Check out Maureen Dowd’s shocking op-ed piece in the New York Times.

Everybody knows by now that the Pentagon doesn’t “do” Iraqi civilian body counts. But that the second in command doesn’t even know how many American troops have lost their lives is almost beyond belief. I don’t think it’s too much to say that American foreign policy is in the hands of a gang of moral idiots.

Friday, April 30, 2004

The Power of Positive Thinking

Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?

Barbara Bush, March 18, 2003 two days before the invasion of Iraq, to Diane Sawyer on ABC’s Good Morning America

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Big Brother is Watching Bloggers

I was accused of paranoia recently for remarking that I wouldn’t be surprised if the government was keeping track of bloggers who linked to their websites. Looks like I was right.

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