Author, filmmaker, and activist Max Blumenthal‘s latest YouTube video features interviews with his neighbors in the Ben Yehuda Pedestrian Mall in central Jerusalem. It’s a casual portrait of the ignorant (and murderous), colonial-supremacist mentality that underwrites the longest military occupation in modern history.
The exceptionally readable Terry Eagleton has a characteristically excellent piece on eminent historian Eric Hobsbawm’s latest collection How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism in the latest London Review of Books. I particularly like Eagleton’s dismissal of the fetishism of labor that has (mistakenly) been expounded in much Marxist or Marxian discourse.
Marxism is about leisure, not labour. It is a project that should be eagerly supported by all those who dislike having to work. It holds that the most precious activities are those done simply for the hell of it, and that art is in this sense the paradigm of authentic human activity.
But who will clean the toilets, you ask. Here, anthropologist David Graeber is worth quoting:
This of course brings up the ‘who will do the dirty jobs?’ question–one which always get thrown at anarchists or other utopians. Peter Kropotkin long ago pointed out the fallacy of he argument. There’s no particular reason dirty jobs have to exist. If one divided up the unpleasant tasks equally, that would mean all the world’s top scientists and engineers would have to do them too; one could expect the creation of self-cleaning kitchens and coal-mining robots almost immediately.
Read Eagleton’s full review at the LRB.
The Guardian has published British reporter Richard Peppiatt’s resignation letter to Daily Star owner Richard Desmond. Peppiatt has resigned in opposition to the Star‘s repugnant anti-Muslim propaganda.
I suspect you see a perfect circle. I see a downward spiral. I see a cascade of shit pirouetting from your penthouse office, caking each layer of management, splattering all in between.
Read the full letter at The Guardian.
There had been some on-line speculation as to what director, animator, cartoonist, Terry Gilliam was up to, since his efforts to kickstart Don Quixote (again) had failed to catch fire, and his role in ‘godfathering’ 1884: Yesterday’s Future seemed both remote and vague. Turns out he has ventured into the realm of opera. This seems at first to be an unlikely move, but the subject matter, Berlioz’ Damnation of Faust, dovetails thematically with his last film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), and with Baron Munchausen also (1988).
Hector Berlioz’ Faust is apparently more romantic than that of Geothe, in that the main character is motivated to sell his soul by the love for a woman, rather than out of fashionable ennui and a vain desire for knowledge and power. In Geothe’s telling, Faust is spared damnation by the grace of God, whereas – as the title suggests – The Damnation of Faust sees Mephistopheles ride him straight down into the burning pit.
Gilliam seems more interested in the fact that the musical score rattles and booms, than in the finer points of the narrative, and it suites his subversive nature that Berlioz’ creation was never regarded as a proper opera, rather a ‘free-form oratorio’ or legende dramatique.
There is a more complete interview at the ENO site. The production begins its month-long run on May 6. Now those of us not in London, but willing to give opera a chance (because it’s Gilliam) just need to convince the English National Opera to share the show worldwide, like National Theatre Live is doing with Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein.
More video after the jump.
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So, everybody seems to be happy with the idea that U3 unemployment is falling below 9% and even U6 seems better at 15.9%. Seems better than rising unemployment, anyway. Hell, maybe even Barack Obama gets a second term. All the high-fives and congratulatin’ going on in the Beltway is merely another way to say, “OK, time to get on to important stuff, like cutting Grandma’s social security!”
by Michelle Lovegrove Thomson on March 3, 2011
The war being waged by the Republican party against the women of their own country –against poor women, racialized women, immigrant women–against ALL women’s basic right to healthcare and quality of life, truly makes the bile rise from that special place I reserve for unbelievably putrid realities.
After the jump, please watch Congresswomen and Senators state what should be obvious, and attempt to halt the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the Title X fund. And don’t miss Modern Lady’s sendup over at Infomania. Abortion Ponzi Scheme? BRILLIANT.
I read this news–predictable as it was horrific–with a real sinking feeling. The
murder collatoral damage of these 9 boys is a harbinger of the new tactics being used in the Afghan counter-insurgency. Air power is being used very aggressively, as it was back in the day with Soviet Sukhois dropping butterfly bombs. The casualties inolved in these sort of tactics were and will be disproportionately children (who in Afghanistan are hardly tucked away in school buildings but out collecting firewood and tending goats). For trigger happy foreigners, these kids can seem like Mujahadeen or Taliban but the reality is that insurgents spend the daylight hours under cover (there is even a very good Pashtun camoflaged cloak for this), so aggressive airstrikes will invariably be killing children. To say nothing of the fucking cluster bombs.
America, go home. Everyday you spend in Afghanistan is another day you morph into Leonid Brezhnev.
by Andrew Loewen on March 3, 2011
After reading this gem in the New York Times, we prevailed on Thomas Friedman to provide us with a part two. And here it is.
Future historians will long puzzle over how I was given an international platform to freely pontificate on the Arab people and be remunerated handsomely for it. It is true that I am not the only person in the world who formulates dubious theories based on scant or no evidence which I then harangue people with. Other people do it. They are called taxi drivers. But they are not as rich as me and haven’t been awarded three Pulitizer Prizes.
Since I’ve been here in Egypt I’ve been putting together a list of “the-absolutely-irrelevant forces” that have captured the captive Arab mind and ignited the simmering coals of the instant garden BBQ that is the Middle East. You might ask why, since I am in Egypt, I don’t ask an Egyptian – possibly two Egyptians – about what inspired them to completely ignore my theories on the Arab peoples and take to the streets. The answer is this: I am Thomas Friedman and I write a column in the New York Times.
I started my last extremely important column with an introduction in which I listed tyranny, rising food prices, youth unemployment and social media as the “big causes”. Rather than just stop there, I did a Google “surprise me” search and chose five of the random results for my special “mix of forces” which inspired the Arab mass revolts. These included Barack Obama, Google Earth and the Beijing Olympics.
But there are other critical factors integral to an understanding of my bollocks theory on the Middle East. Here they are:
Jonah Hill is attached (like a lamprey) to direct The Kitchen Sink a zombie, vampire, alien movie. Just give it up now Jonah. You will be up against the planet-eating awesomeness of Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce, a movie that combined delicious nudity with Steve Railsback.
But more than that, you are up against Wild Zero, the Japanese movie that takes all of those elements and adds in rock and roll. Not just rock and roll, but Guitar Wolf. And flaming skulls.
If you were to take the coolest you of your coolest dream and magnify it by a Fonzy factor of ten, Guitar Wolf (the band and the man, Seiji) would whither you into dust with one sunglassed sidways sneering glance of rock and roll attitude (and, holy shit, I got a twinge of the old Stendhal, twice, because you have to watch it at least that much to catch all the greatness)
He rides a motorcycle that breathes fire. One bandmate combs his pompadour while the other fires a bazooka – the coolest thing ever in the history of film (go back to the trailer. It’s even cooler in the movie, though that should be impossible). I see you on a segway when you bother to get up off of the couch.
Do you and everyone a favour – just apologise, say you are but a pretender, and release Wild Zero upon the world, perhaps as a double bill with Lifeforce. You could redeem yourself and pretend to be cool.
I suppose I have had it all my life but I first remember it - the sudden tracing of electricity along the skin, hair raising as the charge passes through every capillary, every goosebump discernible – arriving as I finished One Hundred Years of Solitude and that magnificent last paragraph or two that snaps the book tight. I was, I guess, seventeen or eighteen, and it was summer and I was sitting in the living room on the old green couch, the midday sun bright on the floor. My response, a reflex, didn’t strike me as odd at the time. A few years ago I learned that not only was I not alone but that this response has a name, Stendhal Syndrome (or Effect), named after the author and his aesthetic madness from being in Florence.*
The next time I can clearly recall an incident is when I saw Prospero’s Books, though I am almost positive that it happened during the opening scene of A Zed and Two Noughts and the trailer for Diva. It hit much harder in a scene I recall as taking place at the pool, and it was mainly the woman’s voice, a tone that rolled up my spine and sparked in my brain and everything got a little brighter and harder edged and I cried. It reminded then of how I had reacted similarly to ’I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ from Jesus Christ Superstar and ‘Cabaret’ sung by Liza Minelli when the singers build and then curl up over themselves and release the wave in a phrase and it washes over me. It is unpredictable, even if it sometimes involves music.
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It’s about time Todd Haynes came to television: his melodramatic ways seem so suited to the form and with Fassbender – another Sirk fan – having had his way with the form, Haynes’s arrival is natural. It will be fantastic to see him spread his meandering yet dense style out over a long time. And the project? A James M. Cain novel, Mildred Pierce. And the cast? Kate Winslet, Guy Pierce, and Melissa Leo. Welcome the return of that late 70′s tagline, ‘a mini-series event’.
Safe, that great horror film of creeping, suburban dread – and one of the best films of that decade - was what, 14 years ago? Velvet Goldmine was a bit of a misstep. And I’m Not There? – maybe another viewing. So returning to what he knows best, women and repressive society - Far From Heaven - bodes well.
Edward Lachman, who did Far from Heaven and I’m Not There, shot at least episode 1. This will be one of the few things I devote the time and bandwidth to downloading in HD (if HBO were available, I would pay just to watch this) because you just know it’s going to be gorgeous and detailed. The trailer bears this out.
Perhaps the only filmmaker to be arrested at one of his own screenings, Toronto filmmaker John Greyson‘s work is committed, provocative, and queer as fuck. With a history of activism that reaches back to queer anti-apartheid solidarity in the 80′s, most of Greyson’s recent activist shorts have concentrated on the international call for a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the rogue apartheid state of Israel (Greyson is a member of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid).
A cheeky, YouTube-savvy call to Elton John to cancel his concerts in Isreal, here’s one of Greyson’s films that screened for a packed house in downtown Montreal on Monday: “Hey Elton.”