Interview and Conversations With Der Kosmonaut In Seattle
By Anthony Mitchell
Edited by Der Kosmonaut
These series of interviews were initially conducted with Der Kosmonaut by Anthony Mitchell for his new E-book Tragedy and Self-Destruction: As Humor in Microliterature.
These interviews and conversations were held at Black Coffee Co-Op, Bauhaus Coffee and Caffee Vita in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle between September 2014 and February 2015. Excerpts of these interviews are quoted in Tragedy and Self-Destruction. Der Kosmonaut provides a panorama of his outlook covering poetry, literature, music, philosophy, politics, history and his world travels in this wide ranging series of interviews and conversations.
Quotation marks are attributed to Der Kosmonaut. The rest of the text is written by Anthony Mitchell with editing done by Der Kosmonaut for grammar, punctuation and clarity.
15 September 2014
"They call it the net because they are trying to catch us.They call it the web because they are trying to trap us." Der Kosmonaut quoting “The Baroness”. “She nailed it 18 years ago, a rich girl from the Upper East Side who was only 22 at the time.”
He said loss of privacy was acceptable to the petite bourgeois, who are a very strong block. “Everything’s oriented toward them,” he said. Then he quoted the Baroness above.
18 September 2014:
Der Kosmonaut was asked: When did irony become popular?
The importance of new wave music in popularizing irony is described below by Der Kosmonaut, a poet from New York City, interviewed for this chapter on 18 September 2014. He said the new wave bands Devo and the Talking Heads both employed irony.
On Devo: “Their entire show was about it in 1975. They started this whole thing about being self ironic. There is nothing in irony today that Devo has not already done. They were self-effacing and their costumes were really gaudy. I’ll give you a line from 1979 from their song Wiggly World,”
Let 'em wear gaudy colors
Or avoid display
Hey it don't matter
It's all the same
Source: “Wiggly World” song on Devo’s album Duty Now for the Future, released by Warner Bros Records Inc., 1979. The song was written by Bob Mothersbaugh and Gerald V. Casale.
“The Talking Heads were totally ironic with their first album in ‘77. They were making piercing social and political commentary.
“Then around 1994 and 1995, “political correctness” became entrenched in political discourse. There was a fear of being offensive.”
This fear of being offensive encouraged Americans to become conformist. “In the 90s, irony became rusty.”
“By the mid-1990s, it was fashionable to have dismissive irony, but then irony loses its whole purpose. Irony in itself is not critical.”
If irony becomes overtly critical, “it loses its satirical value,” he said.
“Comedians now make disclaimers before they start their routine,” he said, where they warn audiences that they will be making jokes on topics such as sex and ethnicity. The comedians then apologize in advance if they offend anyone.
“That’s the thing about comedy, its always bringing out the dirt and exposing it. Richard Pryor would never have gone anywhere if he was politically correct. Can you imagine Richard Pryor opening his act with a disclaimer? Robin Williams and George Carlin too.
“Political correctness has dampened irony and social criticism.”
How does he define political correctness?
“It’s the transforming of language into something from which any sort of critical discourse is banished. It started on the campuses around 1988-1990. That’s when black became African American. I refuse to be referred to as African American.
“In feminist discourse women dropped the e and it became a y. It was no longer politically correct to say someone was short, only vertically challenged. In my lifetime, it went from invalid to handicapped to disabled and now people are saying disabled is not politically correct.”
Is irony popular elsewhere, outside the United States?
“That’s the big difference between Austria and Germany. Germans have no sense of humor and no irony. The Austrians? Their whole language is ironic. I’m so glad I learned German in Vienna.
“Serbs are the best. There is no political correctness in Serbia. None whatsoever. You are free to say whatever is on your mind. You have a right to express yourself in Serbia. However, when you express yourself in public – you must be prepared for criticism and feedback. People can have a very serious political argument, but that’s not going to affect your personal relationship with that person. They have a saying in Serbia about this: “He and I had a big political argument, and now I’m not allowed to go to his summer cottage.” They would say it ironically and no one would care.
“Everyone in Serbia has a cottage and once or twice a year they invite their friends. The irony is that no one would be uninvited over a political argument or disagreement.”
“Americans are known for stating the obvious and lacking circumspection. I’ve returned to the US after fifteen years abroad and started watching American TV and people say too much.”
While living in Canada, he came back for a poetry reading in Boston.
“People would get up and say, I have ADD, or some other personal problem. Why are you telling us that? If you work it into your poem... then it’s ok.”
“Overstating the obvious and lacking circumspection may appear as American informality,” he said, “but sometimes it’s a little too informal.”
During the interview on 18 September 2014 on Capitol Hill, a fistfight erupted around us. Chairs flew, brooms swung. Police sirens, flashing lights, men and women running to escape, the wrong person arrested. The interview continued normally, “because we’re both from New York.”
23 September 2014
The New Sins is a book by David Byrne of the Talking Heads. One of the sins is “Sense of humor.” American society has degenerated. Comedy is a way to keep a helpless population in stitches. During the Bush era after 911, the comedy of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert were dis-empowering. “When Devo and Talking heads were doing irony in the 70s, they were actually trying to empower people.”
Conversation notes 24 September 2014:
Marxism and anarchism are the last outputs from the Enlightenment. We are all living in the shadow of the French revolution. Everyone over a certain age in Serbia grew up under the socialists, which means that education levels in their society were (and in some ways still are) higher than in capitalist ones.
The left in Serbia and other former Soviet countries support NATO and America, which turns conventional left-right distinctions upside down.
Lenin in What is to be Done? said what Russia was doing after the 1917 revolution was instituting state capitalism. It’s his term, state capitalism. A communist revolution was not expected in Russia but in Germany, which as the most industrialized nation in Western Europe would have enabled communism to spread to France, the Low Countries and eventually to Britain. Western Europeans enjoyed a higher literacy rate than Eastern Europeans and had existing democratic traditions. Russia’s revolution and the resulting centralization reflected its society at the time.
25 September 2014
“Standard English—nobody talks like that.”
30 September 2014
Der Kosmonaut talked to me for about 45 minutes. He described Manhattan in the two weeks after 911 as the people descended into savagery. He wasn’t there, I don’t think, but heard about how, without electrical power or cell phones, people moved outside into parks, Central Park in particular. A young Russian woman was happily going along in the park, passing out free flowers from a glass vase. She came upon an older man who shouted that it was people from her country (whatever country that might be) who were responsible for the attacks on the Twin Towers. She responded by hitting him over the head with the glass vase.
The US was storing Germany’s gold in New York City. Germany asked for it back, received one shipment, and discovered that the gold bars it received were hollow. It demanded that the US return all Germany’s gold in full. The US refused. He wondered whether the gold was still being held by the US. He thinks the global economic system is due for a severe correction in three years.
Richard Holbrooke got his start running Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, killing off anyone connected to the Vietcong or their families. The CIA are mostly technicians. They support the State Department, which is in the driving seat.
HE RECOMMENDS HOLBROOKE’S BIOGRAPHY, HOW TO STOP A WAR. Holbrooke engineered US intervention in Yugoslavia to displace the Germans, who first started supporting moves to break up the country. 450,000 Orthodox Christians were cleansed from Croatia. They were called Serbs, but they were indistinguishable from the Roman Catholics in Croatia.
Before the Srebrenica massacre, the Bosnian militias had been committing murders in Orthodox villages to provoke a response. The US and Bosnia authorities knew Srebrenica would be a sacrificial town. The Orthodox only killed military age males, which makes it a war crime rather than a crime against humanity, he said. He said that the death toll has never been released by the UN, possibly because it would show that earlier claims were inflated.
The color revolutions were supported by the US State Department, e.g., Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia. CIA are primarily technicians. It’s the State Department that has the power, he said.
The militarization of the police has occurred at the expense of traditional police work and victims’ assistance. He said that police capabilities for solving murders has dropped, but if you organize a demonstration, the police “will be all up in the hairs of your ass” spying.
1 October 2014
Heidegger is the god of post-modernism today. It’s hard to synthesize him.
It’s difficult to universalize metaphor due to language being different between regions, even if it’s the same language. It’s even harder between languages.
In Serbia, there’s a metaphor that describes the feeling that you get when you’re elated with good news. They say, “You’re walking, but you’re kicking yourself in the ass.”
The British use adjectives in their metaphors, e.g., “Awfully glad to meet you.” The only place in North America that has good metaphors is Newfoundland, because it’s basically Ireland. For example, instead of saying “I didn’t get good vibes about it,” they can say: “I didn’t get the good sense about it.”
We talked about how easy it is for a poem to lose its metaphors when it’s translated because metaphors often pick up and carry a poem forward. When the metaphors don’t translate, the poem doesn’t translate.
He has translated German and Austrian poetry into English and has written poetry in German.
“When I wrote my poem Deadly Vienna, I was first thinking about it in English, but then realized I’d have to use completely Viennese metaphors for it to work. Then I re-translated it into English and it’s a very different poem. In Austrian German, it’s a Gothic psychological horror poem. In English, it’s a much more relaxed and refined poem.
“When Austrians read it, their faces turn to horror because the metaphors make specific references to the local reality. There’s not anyone who reads that poem who lives in Vienna who cannot deny its validity.
“There is nothing as horrible within British or North American society that can accurately capture the essence of horror [what horror? Of the Nazi experience?] He answered no, then: “We’re talking about a country with one thousand years of tyranny and repression. in spite of the French Revolution, the revolution of 1848-9 , the overthrow of the monarch in 1918-19, along with two world wars, fascism, and Nazism, despite all this, old habits are hard to break, and this millennia of repression and opression still lingers in the physical fiber of Vienna. I don’t know any other type of literature except for Austrian that talks about how horrible the country is. Seriously. There is not a novel since 1897 that has not described with lucidity how horrible Austria is. It’s one reason I love Austrian literature. It’s scathing. The poetry and contemporary poetry scene in Vienna, all poets write about how horrible Vienna and Austria is. That’s why my
poem is so difficult to translate. In English we don’t have this cannon about how horrible England or America is. That’s why my poem, in its German version can never be truthfully translated.” the title of my book is tragedy and self-destruction. “If I were to write a story about Vienna, that’s the title I would use”, therefore "the metaphors used in my re-translation were tailored for an international English-speaking audience."
“The sense of horror is from being in a place where you have two choices, dance or die, and everything is complete luxury with cozy music while the vampires drink you.”
Was he referring to the Nazi period? “No, that’s why every classical composer living in Vienna from Beethoven to Mozart had to compose waltzes that could be danced to, if not, they were finished, their career was finished. Mozart was considered a failure because he could not get the emperor to dance. He died a pauper and is buried in a ditch that is now in the center of downtown Vienna."
"So the thing about dance or die is that Vienna forces you to keep waltzing, particularly if you are an artist, and every poet or writer knows this very well. You can pick up any novel written after World War Two and this theme comes up again and again, ‘I love Vienna and hate Vienna,’ this is the theme in all Austrian literature. They hate Austria but they cannot imagine their life without it, and I certainly can’t. I would not be sitting here having this conversation had I not lived in Austria.”
Austrians can eat and drink all night, talking about how horrible Austria is, but at the end of the night, they’ll say, “but at least we’re not Germans.” If you really want to offend an Austrian, call them a German.
Do Austrians feel they’re trapped in the past?
"Vienna is always trapped in the past and will always be trapped in the past because it experienced its future in the years 1897 to 1938. And then, since 1978 the Austrian socialists have placed a glass dome over the city. So Vienna is run as 1970s socialism with a 19th century mentality. One day, if the world doesn’t destroy itself, I’d like to give you a tour of Vienna.”
We talked about how easy it is for emerging poets to over-emphasize metaphor. Strong, evocative metaphors can be used by beginners to carry a poem forward, to which Der Kosmonaut said: “Metaphor alone cannot sustain a poem.”
“Unfortunately the way poetry in English is taught there is an over-emphasis on metaphor."
“I hated it in high school,” he said about the emphasis on metaphor. Why? “Because it was always trying to read too much into what the author was trying to express. [For example] this metaphor ___ is supposed to mean ____ and it’s always on the test and something we’re supposed to write about.” He would focus on other things besides the metaphors. The metaphors being focused on were beside the point for him.
How should metaphor be taught? Imitation exercises? By looking at or engaging in translations?
His translation points out how important metaphors are and how dependent we are on them.
“I cannot overstress Vienna enough because Vienna is the key to understanding the contradictions of our present world, because they started there, they began in Vienna.
“Karl Kraus [Der Kosmonaut said he doesn’t want to paraphrase him] wrote a great deal about metaphor or the problems of metaphor.”
He recommends this book: Karl Kraus: Apocalyptic Satirist: The Post-War Crisis and the Rise of the Swastika – 2 August 2005 by Edward Timms (Author) [Comments on the Amazon page for the paperback edition indicated that there is a mix-up in the listing of the paperback, which incidentally is three times the price of the hardback @$15.]
“Kraus has the most thorough grasp on metaphor, which is what makes him the greatest Austrian satirist."
Sink metaphors and turn-em-upside down metaphors—because he understood that metaphors are the bricks of language.
Martin Heidegger was lucky that his Being and Time was published after Karl Kraus’ death.
Kraus would have saved the Enlightenment. For the last three years of his life, Kraus was the first intellectual who came out against Nazism. “By understanding the degradation of the German language.” “Because Heidegger is the grave digger of the Enlightenment. He is if not fully, mostly responsible for the intellectual and creative poverty of our times known as post-modernism.
Der Kosmonaut said to read Heidegger and Kraus in the original German, “Then we can have it out.”
The Situationists were a revival of Dadaism, but that was agitprop. Dadaists were one of the first practitioners of agitprop.
"With imagination in writing, you’re getting into the realm of magic, manifesting of characters that defies any sort of scientific or rational imagination. As I was writing my novel, the characters took on a life of themselves. One character, Emily Davis, barged into the novel and would speak her mind. I would wonder if she was writing it, or me. Medical psychology is at a loss for what this is. We still know so little about how our mind works and the subconscious. Poetry in itself...one of the reasons I believe poetry came about was as a way to unlock the mystery of imagination, consciousness and metaphor."
What is magic?
"Magic is really pre-science. In prehistoric societies, there were always people who could predict the weather. By looking at the soil, the plants, watching the animals, they could predict the weather. They were called magicians. Magic is physical reality that science has not been able to explain. If you were to tell someone even 300 years ago that you had visions of jet planes and rockets you would have burned as a witch because you were talking about things that were beyond present reality. Emily Davis in my novel expounds on this, on religion and god. If we don’t know, we say, “It’s god.” I would rather say “I don’t know” she said. There are things we never know, and we should leave them alone."
The whole story of the bible is magic. God is the ultimate magician. Wasn’t Moses also a magician? And Jesus was the greatest magician of all. He walked on water and resurrected from the dead. The book of revelation is magic. The entire bible is a book of magic stories, so is the Torah and the Koran.
“German since the 1950s is a completely different language. Between 1933 and 1936 there was a personal propaganda war between Karl Kraus and Joseph Goebbels. Karl Kraus was on Austrian state radio and was launching blistering attacks against Nazi Germany. Goebbels had German radio reply.
“In the battle between Karl Kraus and Joseph Goebbels, Goebbels had no chance. In German they have a phrase ‘keine chance’ – which means no chance.
“Kraus died in ’36. If he’d lived for two more years, after the Nazi takeover of Austria, he would have been one of the first to go into the concentration camp. His entire family was killed.” He wasn’t married, but all his siblings and cousins were wiped out.
Der Kosmonaut doesn’t check his poetry or prose for metaphors the way some people check for adjectives, because “I’m just trying to get to the point.”
“The old German script fell into disuse by the 1960s because of the abuse by the Nazis.
“Kraus saw that all of Germanic language and Germanic culture, which he argued included Jews, would be lost or ruined forever because of the Nazis.”
A lot of people, particularly in Austria, who use the old German script, are reactionary.
“For Vienna, the whole Nazi experience was a cultural and intellectual suicide from which the city has never recovered.”
What made the whole Austrian empire coalesce, despite having many different languages and cultures, is that its intellectual traditions were written or invented by urban Jews, most of whom spoke German regardless of where in the empire they lived. He cites Kafka, a Czech Jew, who wrote in German.
Under the last Kaiser, Franz Joseph, Jews were accepted into the state and upper classes, many as bureaucrats and administrators, and most importantly as industrialists. Middle class Jews modernized Austria (Hungary, Czechoslovakia, etc.) because in this vast, multilingual empire it was often the Jews who spoke German.
This is key: in the uprisings of 1848-9 in Vienna one of the demands was the right of German speakers. Austria was a multilingual empire and officially the language was Latin. Most of the inhabitants of the western Austrian empire were German speakers – this includes Austria proper today and Czech. Many of them were also Jews, since most Jews were German speakers, they identified as ethnic Germans.
The irony is that the modern German nationalist political movement in Austria had important participation by the Jews in the empire. These examples of irony are important for understanding Vienna. [THIS IS A LITTLE ROUGH] the way German nationalism evolved into an anti-Semitic and explicitly racist movement is ironic since many of the leaders of German nationalism were Jews.
A good book about this:
Artur Schnitzler ‘The road in the Open’ circa 1904 or 1912, in an English translation.
We talked about how metaphors can be used as a shortcut to carry poems forward, but without the other ingredients that can help make a poem successful, beginning with invention.
His advice to young writers of poetry and prose seeking to employ metaphor:
“Whatever you do, don’t copy. If you cannot come up with your own metaphor, then don’t even try. Seriously. If it [the metaphor] comes out, great, if not, just focus on the story or the subject matter,”
3 October 2013
“The US is bottlenecked by Puritanism. I didn’t realize that until I moved to Serbia. It’s the only country in Europe I lived or visited that is neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic.” He was constantly reminded of his Puritanism in Serbia. “The US has an extreme brand of Protestantism. It’s called Puritanism. It’s anti-social. The Puritans got kicked out of England.”
He lived outside the US for 15 years. “It takes five years just to sink in that you’re out of the US. If you evoke god in Austria or Germany, you won’t last long in politics. When we want to compliment people in US and Canada, we say they have vision, which in Europe indicates mental problems.”
Much less xenophobia in US than in Europe. It’s a big problem in Europe.
He described Spain as trapped in the Inquisition that began in 1492. Churches in Spain have gruesome histories as torture centers in the Inquisition that followed the Triumph of Christianity in 1492 and again during the Franco dictatorship. “Franco still rules Spain from the grave,” he said. Churches occupy a panopticon position overlooking the houses of Spanish villages.
“Karl Kraus is not taught in schools in Austria today. He’s the greatest satirist in the German language. Imagine American schools not teaching Mark Twain, one of the greatest American satirists. Most people in Austria don’t find out about Kraus until they go to university or unless they come from a family of intellectuals.”
Kraus’ 1901 book ‘criminality and morality’ lays out the best arguments against patriarchy, for feminism and for gay rights. Der Kosmonaut hasn’t read anything that could hold a candle to Kraus’ analysis from 1901.
“Post-modernists say that the modernists were racists and sexists. Kraus disproves that, as a straight, bourgeois white male. Kraus called Freud’s work ‘psychobabble.’ The dispute between them got so serious, that the Vienna psychoanalysis society, chaired by Freud, had a special meeting about Kraus. It was called “the Kraus affair” because they were worried Kraus could single-handedly destroy psychoanalysis. Kraus satirized it in The Torch. Kraus was seen as the single biggest threat to Nazism in its first three years in power in Germany.”
Der Kosmonaut sees a 100 year parallel between US and Austria. In particular between New York and Vienna. For example in 1897 the first fascist politician in the world named Karl Lueger was elected mayor of Vienna and he openly ran on racist and anti-Semitic platform.
In 1997 Rudy Giuliani was re-elected mayor of NY after his first term of disenfranchising the city’s black and Puerto Rican population. What created the black middle class in the US was the civil service because until the 60s it was the only career option open to blacks, because the private sector was closed off by discrimination.
In his first term, Giuliani fired 40% of the city’s black civil servants; then he unleashed the brutality of the police. In 1994 in his first year as mayor, reports of police brutality increased by 45%. By 1997 reports of police brutality had increased by 175%.
“That’s what got me out of New York – in 1997.” In ‘93, when Giuliani first got elected, he openly ran on a racist platform. Another example of the 100-year lag between Vienna and NY. Vienna was best city in Europe for Jews until Karl Lueger came and New York City was the best city in North America for American blacks. Vienna was the cultural and intellectual capital of European Jewry, just as New York was for blacks.
Until 1938, Vienna had the largest Jewish population in Europe. Until 2000, New York had the largest black population in North America. Kraus being a Jew and Der Kosmonaut being black helps him draw parallels.
Starting around 1912, Austria started becoming a militarized state and its parliamentary democracy was dispensed with. Meanwhile the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 transformed the US into a military dictatorship with liberal democracy a hollowed-out shell.
Kraus looms over Vienna, haunts Vienna, while most Viennese don’t know he existed. Being the heir to Karl Kraus is not a nice thing. He died a very bitter man. He died of a severe heart attack. He could not take it mortally. All the Viennese Jewish intellectuals who immigrated to US did not live past the 1950s. Who [could have lived]?
Austrians keep meticulous records but there is a 21 year gap between 1934 and 1955. When the Nazis came, they killed the fascists, so there were few survivors from 38-45 period. Nobody wants to talk about Soviet occupation from 45-55, which is very strange.
Half the Jews in Austria became fascists; the others remained socialists and communists. Fascism was not anti-Semitic. Dollfuss the fascist dictator came out with an impassioned speech against Antisemitism and Nazism and by this obtained the political support of many bourgeois Jews, including Kraus. Fascism broke the unions and stripped workers of their rights. Dollfuss was a Catholic priest, so it was direct rule by the Church, but it was not a totalitarian system and it could not be. They were able to defeat “red Vienna” by arms, but they could not quench the hatred that the workers had for the fascists and the Catholic Church. They outlawed both the Nazis and the Communists. One year later Dollfuss was assassinated by a Nazi.
Fascism in Austria was a means to protect the propertied class. It was provincial parochialism. The Catholic Church feared modernity. They were at their peak when society was feudal and rural. In Spain they were trying to preserve this feudal ideal. In Austria and Germany fascism was called Christian socialism.
[NEEDS MORE INFO HERE:] 1848 broke the church. No one will go to church again, even with a Catholic dictatorship. [WHY:] the church began critiquing capitalism. Christian socialism was competing with regular socialism. Surprisingly, Christian socialism found its audience in the petite bourgeois, the lower middle class. Petite bourgeois includes academics, lawyers, teachers, doctors, and small business owners. These are the same types of people who were members of the Nazi party.
Go to any small town in Austria and ask people about the butcher. Nine times out of ten he’s a Nazi or fascist.
North American Marxists have lost their grasp of the class issue. [This can be explained in part because] there is upward mobility in the US, whereas in Europe if you start off as a waiter at age 20, you’ll retire as a waiter. The class system in Europe is more fixed, rigid. You know your place. It’s fixed. Here supermarket check-out clerk is considered a dead end job. It’s a job for teenagers and kids. Businesses last longer in Europe. In the US they fail faster. In German and Austria if you start a business, it will last, which is why shops in Vienna are so old, from the 1920s and 1930s. It’s harder to start a business in Europe.
On the petite bourgeois: “I hate that class. I didn’t understand that until I went to Austria. One of the biggest insults in Austria is to call someone petite bourgeois. International Marxists also use petit bourgeois as a derogatory slam. Thatcher will go down as the queen of the petite bourgeois. The bourgeois were already rich. Pet Shop Boys’ first three albums are all about Thatcherism, especially the second album.
How to distinguish metaphor from idiom?
“Most of the time, idioms don’t make any logical sense. And metaphors employ scientific logic to language. Metaphors express an objective reality using words to illustrate the concepts.
“They illustrate reality that plain language is unable to do, and like a scientific equation that reveals things that are unseen to the naked eye, metaphors illuminate aspects of reality that ordinary words fail to do.”
Are metaphors more intentional than idioms? “Yes. In English, most of our idioms come from outdated modes of production and living. So we have a lot of navigational terms, sailing terms that come from when England was the main sea merchant power. For example, George W. Bush would say, we can’t cut and run from Iraq. That comes from old sailing terms when the sea or weather was too rough and they could not use their sails or other means to navigate, so they’d cut the lines to their sails and just run with the current. But today, in the modern jet age and with diesel engines, this term is obsolete.”
When a sail’s line was cut, it would usually fall onto the deck of the ship.
22 December 2014, Monday at Bauhaus, conversation notes.
He’d returned to Seattle from California on Saturday.
NYC stop-and-frisk operations were classified as arrests in the criminal records of the individuals subjected to it.
Q. How to express the impact that police harassment has had (and continues to have) on moving blacks out of cities?
The drop in the percentages of blacks in major cities is “nothing short of remarkable.” Once dispersed into the suburbs and exurbs, it’s harder to gather people together for direct actions.
He talked about housing projects in NYC in the 1990s having police check IDs inside the buildings to make sure that people found in those buildings lived there. The projects were like prisons.
He was just in California for 67 days and was never harassed by the police. He felt that if he stayed for 68 days, he would be inviting harassment. Berkeley is a police state, with the most visible harassment against blacks on the street of anywhere he’s seen. Oakland has gentrified. San Francisco has no lesbian bar. Many of the gay men in SF hate women, so it’s natural that women would regroup across the bay.
The emails released by the hackers who broke into Sony’s computer network are revealing about the culture of Southern California.
"It’s a culture where people are only interested in others for what other people have to offer, not for who another person really is. People will acquire friends and then discard them as they move up the social ladder. A lot of fakeness, both in the social sphere and in architecture. Lots of bling, but cheap bling that makes Trump Tower in Manhattan look authentic rather than a crummy facade."
“Here [Seattle] people lack authentic personalities but they’re harmless.”
Successful actors in Southern California are constantly on show, constantly being looked at, always in the public eye. They can’t be themselves. They are forced to be fake, to always look happy. No break in acting—they’re always in a role. They’re often on drugs or drunk. “How else could someone with empathy survive in that environment?”
Dean Martin was always drunk when he performed. He invented the roast, which allowed him to express reality. It allowed celebrities to be criticized under the guise of humor. Actors would get together to insult each other to raise money for charity.
He talked about how in the general population, people will embrace an archetype (he used the word stereotype) and then adapt themselves to that role. In California, there are the popular stereotypes of the stoner dude and the gang banger, so you see a lot of people adhering to those stereotypes, playing those roles.
This could explain part of the popularity of country music, which isn’t good music but attracts fans who embrace the whole shtick behind it – the lifestyle myths, consumption patterns, appearance, and ideology. “California is holograms.”
Everyone is trying to look happy. Most celebrities are on drugs or drunk a lot. Dean Martin did many of his skits while drunk.
“LA is a toilet bowl, stuffed and overflowing with shit.”
The stolen Sony emails show people as, and these are Der Kosmonaut's words: “ruthless social climber[s].”
In LA, “You only socialize with someone to get to their social position.”
“People only talk to other people to get something out of them.” Once they move up, they ditch their old friends.
Celebrities are always in the public eye. There’s no break from acting for them. So people are always in a role.
Dean Martin invented the roast, which became a way to express reality. Actors would get together to insult each other. Dean Martin was drunk all the time.
“People who live in California think they’re special.”
Many in the aristocracy became the petite bourgeois. This helps explain the political outlooks of many in that class.
“Portland is epitome of petite bourgeois provincialism.”
LA... petit bourgeois with a bit of naïveté.
LA “capital city of nihilism.” We both had a laugh at how prominent but little recognized nihilism has become. But it was the kind of laugh that monkeys make when they’re afraid.
“Nihilism is woven into the fabric of LA. It didn’t degenerate into nihilism like New York City or Philadelphia.”
He spoke about One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, by Herbert Marcuse, 1964. Herbert Marcuse
Quote from page ‘Herbert Marcuse’ as found on 23 December 2014 on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Marcuse
“In his written works, he criticized capitalism, modern technology, historical materialism and entertainment culture, arguing that they represent new forms of social control.”
Quotes as retrieved 23 December 2014:
“suggests that totalitarianism can be imposed without terror.”
The Gag Law in Spain means that it is going back to the Franco era. All the officials from that era have been given immunity under the Spanish constitution, which he’s read. That document says that the army reports to the King, not to the civilian PM.
Prosecutor in the grand jury convened over the murder of Michael Brown admitted that in his case, he knowingly used the testimony of a known racist.
21 January 2015 Wednesday at Caffe Vita
We agreed that Vita has a much better vibe than Bauhaus. He said that my Hegel quote is off.
Jefferson set up plantation system, systematized it. He did not believe in democracy. His private diaries show a different version of him than what is taught in schools. Recommends the book: Jefferson and the New Country.
Alexander Hamilton wanted a commercial economy, Jefferson an aristocracy. [someone else said Jefferson didn’t believe in paper money. I think it was Gordon Wood in his book on the American Revolution.]
Jefferson said something about wanting to see the government overthrown every so-many years. Der Kosmonaut said that the definition of government is the cadre who occupies it, often from one particular political party. The Anarchist cookbook definition of anarchy as believing that the government should be overthrown when it becomes too strong – this definition looks at the government as the state. Der Kosmonaut also remarked about how anarchists can often be anti-theory. I should ask for elaboration on that.
American workers were about to break the back of the capitalist class. FDR gave capitalists a choice between that route and reform. FDR saved capitalism. Broke up their monopolies with Sherman anti-trust act. Rockefellers etc didn’t lose their wealth, just the ability to accumulate unlimited amounts. Little of their money comes from income. Workers earn from income. FDR told capitalists that they had to be like everyone else. Instituted a 90% income tax rate on the “1%” that wasn’t abolished until President Kennedy. Rightists tried to organize a coup in 1934. Major Smedley Butler said no. Recommends – book ‘the plot to take the White House.’ by Jules Archer.
About 50 or so people who’ve complained about the police on Facebook, and insulted them, like Fuck the police, have been arrested on other charges.
Large Nazi rallies every week in Dresden.
2k police on the street in Paris.
He’s writing off the EU.
30 January 2015 at Vita, Capitol Hill.
Anarchists being anti-theory comes from their conflict with Marxism and their fear that the theoretician can become the dictator, telling people what to think. Anarchists look at Lenin and Trotsky as theoreticians who ushered in tyranny.
Trots see Trotsky as infallible, forgetting that these people are human. “There are things that people will get wrong.”
Bakunin is considered a ‘thinker’ by many anarchists, not a theoretician. Anarchists looked at bourgeois philosophers such as Voltaire, Locke and Jefferson and concluded, “They had these great ideas but they were basically anti-freedom.” Anarchists think everyone has right to form their own opinions and theories about the world. But anarchists have their contradictions, e.g. in holding up feminist and queer theory.
There is a shortage of political philosophers today, Der Kosmonaut said. Do you consider yourself a political philosopher, I asked him. “Yes. In Serbia I’m well known.” People ask his opinion. Well, I can see why!
Today there’s no wandering in the garden (of knowledge and experience) and coming up with your own philosophy. Intellectually impoverished time.
[13 February 2015 he added: where are the new ideas coming from [today]? why are we recycling everything from the 60s and 70s - but nothing new is coming out? what is new that is coming out – words and terms that if you try to get a proper meaning out of them – don’t make sense. we have intellectual trends now, produced by fashion writers and uni students that people accept without questioning. it’s so superficial that the ideas don’t last longer than a decade. ie, metrosexual, who uses that anymore. The term Metrosexual came out of a woman writer in a NY fashion magazine. Then all of a sudden, this word became in vogue among everyone. Thinking, educated people began using this term. It was all the rage in the noughties, now it’s disappeared. So called society writers’ ideas get blown up into mass culture, then people use for a decade and then they’re discarded. Where are the ideas that last more than a decade that have substance? That we can look back on, that are valid in the future and the past? ie: How can you use the term metrosexual to describe sexuality in the 80s?
“Intellectual failures of western leftists” article he wrote in 2010. We don’t have any independent thinking any more – his crux. Look at what the words mean, he does, doesn’t accept new words blankly. [I said the fashion writers are not coming up with these ideas themselves. They find them and claim them.] Johnny Rotten’s wife came up with the word punk. Johnny didn’t like it because it was a prison term.
Because we live in intellectually impoverished time, the culture becomes debased.
Andre Breton came up with the term surrealism and wrote a manifesto. It took him a long time to come up with. Lots of thought.
Online education, there was a CNN documentary he viewed while in a hotel in LA, “Crisis of university education.” It may be online. CNN looked at how Stanford shut down their online education after failure rate climbed higher than classrooms. Students said they cannot ask questions. Professors can’t see the students. Students are all atomized at home, can’t form study groups.
Online courses have higher failure rates than classroom offerings. It’s harder for students to pay attention without the immersive classroom experience. Remote students often cannot or will not ask questions. Professors can’t see their students. Students are all atomized at home, where they cannot easily form or participate in study groups.
Essay on nihilism. Search for Der K.. and nihilism, his article comes right up. He wrote when he was 23.
On 30 January 2015 he defined himself as a political philosopher and an Austrian modernist.
5 February 2015
NYC lost half of its artists and intellectuals by 1990 to AIDS, gave rise to Giuliani and social conservatism. 80-82 people started dying, said complications of TB, not till 1984 people knew what was going on.
Shakespeare was not part of the gentry. Hence the class issues fueling the heresy, which is based on the assumption that Shakespeare’s works could not have been produced by a commoner. Even America’s greatest poet, Walt Whitman, shared this view. Why? In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut said that Americans associate being smart with being rich. A common refrain: “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”
6 February 2015
He spoke about his exile years in the Bronx, then read a few poems. Wow.
One of his poems contained a line: don’t lose your soul or mind or humanity. Another described his clothes as utilitarian, communist. The world is one giant prison; he’s one of the few who sees the bars.
Pomos (Postmodernists) are ignorant of Karl Kraus and Hermann Broch, and of modernist philosophy generally. Wehrsol is the name of a planet that appears in his poems, a planet from whence he came.
As soon as he saw Tony Blair on TV, he thought, this is the whore of Babylon.
Ibogaine drug was at the center of the Staten Island Project, and a NY group called Cures Not War. He wrote a screenplay about Ibogaine about 14 years ago.
The western tradition is his tradition, and he has a right to claim it.
Oxford movement is the official debate, he said.
On the Baconian heresy, he said that the text is the text for Shakespeare, regardless of whether Shakespeare is a pseudonym. The Heresy is motivated by class issues because Shakespeare was a lower class.
Historically the aristocracy was illiterate. Prince Charles reads on a third grade level. Many royals didn’t go to university. Until the Protestant Reformation, only the clergy was literate. The royals were often as illiterate as their peasants. At least the peasants knew about biology and tilling the soil.
Vonnegut said in Slaughterhouse-Five that Americans associate being smart with being rich. “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”—a common refrain.
DK went to BU. He said that Boston University is a school where dumb rich students go. The College of Basic Studies or CBS at BU is a coloring book school. It’s two more years of high school.
DK’s not an anarchist because he doesn’t have problems with the state itself. He’s a republican, in the older definition of the word, where everyone is equal. He contrasted this to a monarchy. Royalty is an anti-egalitarian society.
In monarchies you can’t criticize the monarch. There is no freedom of expression in the Netherlands. If it’s your house or property, and you put a banner up that the authorities don’t like, the authorities can have you remove it. For example, if you put up a banner in your window criticizing the royal family. In Scandinavia they can prosecute you. Both are monarchies. The authorities engage in dirty tricks in Holland and Scandinavia. In the Netherlands if you don’t carry an official ID, they’ll put you in an immigrants’ prison and threaten to deport you. Sweden has more info on its citizens than any other country, even the former Soviet Union under Stalinism.
In ancient Africa, you became king by the people choosing you. They would choose because over the years people saw you resolving disputes and helping people.
If he traveled in Africa, he’d go to the former Portuguese colonies, most likely Cape Verde or maybe Mozambique, because they are the most stable and peaceful, and their colonialism was the least brutal. Also because they were more racially integrated as colonies. They were “port countries,” with little or no interior development. Also, their interiors didn’t get over run by Arabs, with their slave trade.
A lot of contemporary racist ideas invented by Arabs and taught to white colonialists. Arabs were the first to enslave Africans. The most common term in Arab world for black is slave, even today. If you read Arabian Nights, there are at least three or four racists stories, considered oldest racist lit in world. Gambia and Nigeria, were fucked by the Arabs and then they were fucked by the Europeans. In Islam, unnatural to use condoms. Rain forests kept Arabs out of southern Africa. Der Kosmonaut's family were Black revolutionaries, his Uncle was a Black Panther and in Black Liberation Army. He was born in 72 at peak of Black liberation. His family looked at an atlas of Africa giving him an authentic African name. Blacks choosing Arabic names don’t understand racial implications. He knows historically who his friends are. Palestinians gave money and guns to Black Panthers. He met a Palestinian anarchist, who used to call him "slave" and "nigger".
“Don't talk to me about Anarchists, I’m not impressed.” The Ottomans had hundreds of thousands of black slaves. The oldest Christian societies are in Eritrea and Ethiopia – well before Rome. Northern Sudanese call themselves Arabs.
Africans that come to the USA are affluent, whereas those who go to Europe are lower class and caught up with religion. All black Americans have Portuguese ancestry. If his dad were in Portugal, he’d be considered white. Paris sees itself as gateway to Africa, but it’s really Portugal. if you got baptized you were no longer a slave, and a baby of a white parent was no longer a slave. Salazar was the most successful fascist dictator,. DK calls him the right wing Tito. He was an economist. Portugal under Salazar wasn’t even 5% as repressive as US today. Salazar was convinced that communism was going to win. He also understood that colonization was on its last legs. He wanted Portugal to be the only capitalist country in Europe and the only country with African colonies. He looked at Red Vienna. The Austrian socialist party was the most intellectual party ever and best party in the world ever. Adler and Otto Bauer were intellectual political giants. Red Vienna applies social scientific tools. Vienna between 1918-34 most successful socialist society ever. It was democratic. Salazar read these people and realized these people were dangerous. In Portugal, they overthrew the monarch in 19th century. Then another revolution in 74. African colonies were just ports, the Portuguese didn’t go into the interior, so people were left alone. From 1870s or 1860s Britain was the protector of Portugal. Workers and peasants were nearly starved by Salazar. Priests were the biggest oppressors, in each town the local rector was the power man, would carry sticks to beat people. if you went to colonies, you could get work, house, freedom. Salazar encouraged miscegenation, especially in interiors. these intermarriages encouraged Portuguese to become Africans and Africans to become Portuguese. In the Portuguese model, fascism wasn’t racist. All officials and cops were still white. In Portugal. under fascism. he was somehow still able to alienate blacks. The war in Angola and Mozambique was first time Africans had ever defeated whites militarily. It was only time colonial defeat resulted in defeat of home govt. Paris govt survived loss of colonies. Castro's big war was in Angola.
“They got to Nelson Mandela in Jail.” by 94 Mandela was already a walking corpse and fucked up on drugs. The condition of his release was that land and capital and wealth would remain in the hands of whites. Amnesty International didn’t consider Mandela a political prisoner because he advocated violence.
Der Kosmonaut wanted to be new wave musician. He chose BU for music. He wanted to be synthesizer player. He also chose BU for the T and the music. He loves subways. He had one of his best subway rides of hs life visiting BU for the first time. At BU he became a DJ.
11 February 2015
French is the language of modern philosophy and until the mid 20th century it was the language of diplomacy. Until the mid 20th century, if you had a Bachelor of Arts degree from an English-speaking institution you were expected to be able speak French, or at least read it. The interspersion of French was not limited to critical theory. It could be found in other forms of writing as well. In the 1980s the occasional use of French as a prestige language was encouraged by the popularity of postmodernism, especially Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) and Michel Foucault (1926-1984).
Disillusioned by the failure of the soixante-huitards in 1968, postmodernists became detached and held that philosophy should not directly confront the state. Instead, they engaged in obscure debates, shadow-boxing over issues analogous to the medieval religious question about the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin. Elitism, pretentiousness, shadow-boxing and obscurantism (deliberate vagueness) became the essence of postmodernism. Its language was reduced to langue de bois – abstract, dull, pompous political gobbledygook.
End of History, Fukayama, looks like a fool now. That was the marquee Pomo book
13 February 2015
What does the concept of the avant-garde mean to him?
Early 20th century socialists had a multilayered approach to society. In addition to the political, they also looked at it from economic, social, intellectual and cultural perspectives. They developed tools in each area.
Der Kosmonaut is thinking of the socialist avant-garde. The avant-garde in Russia was manipulated by Lenin until it became the vanguard party. Der Kosmonaut is also thinking of 1970s fashion avant-garde.
Avant-garde - total integration of political, economic and social change, creating a parallel culture, with the artist as a revolutionary agent of change. Chandler Owen and A. Phillip Randolph called artists propagandists. Those two recognized that you needed not only political theoreticians and industrial workers, but artists too. Examples include the Mexican revolution, Austria and Russia. It was recognized that the masses need to be raised in intellect and culture. The US Communist Party did more to promote [fine] artists, theater and music, than any other force in the US. In the 1930s, they paid people to produce art, to act and to perform. McCarthyism wiped all that out. In the 1930s the only artists in the US who were provided with jobs were hired by communist front organizations.
People romanticize the 1960s, not the 1930s, but the 30s were more revolutionary. In the first half of the 20th century, the socialists and communists believed you had to raise the intellectual and cultural level of workers.
“There is no avant-garde” Der Kosmonaut said in answer to what’s up with avant-garde today. “The last of the avant-garde were the graffiti artists in the 70s and 80s in New York City. Graffiti artists were saying “fuck the system,” which is why it was significant. It was Koch who wiped graffiti out by ‘89. You also saw a rise in police brutality at the time. Totalitarian capitalism, Der Kosmonaut calls it. “The fact that the city cracked down on graffiti showed its revolutionary nature.”
I don’t understand the distinction between Hegel and Marx over the role of philosophers and changing the world, versus observing it.
Der Kosmonaut added: Marx saw that dialectic was beyond the abstract version proposed by Hegel [action, reaction, synthesis – versus Marx’s view that each system contained the contradictions that would ultimately destroy it]. Marx saw it as central to history, rephrased it as dialectical materialism and said that you had to apply dialects to everyday life and to the world.
Nihilism – DK was asked what it is, how and why its popularity is growing, and what are nihilism’s different manifestations?
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) hit it, nihilism is the whip or lash of capitalism. Nietzsche was speaking about German capitalism or “totalitarian capitalism” as Der Kosmonaut calls it. Capitalism is totally expansive, encompasses everything, pulverizes everything that doesn’t conform. “Nihilism is the crushing of everything that doesn’t conform to capitalism. People think nihilism is abstract, but no,” DK says. DK says he himself quotes people who are seen as wretched. Then he quoted Thatcher.
Thatcher said “there is no such thing as society.” DK says Thatcher’s statement represents nihilism and is anti-social. The Labour Party was saying that her program was destroying society. She responded with TINA - there is no alternative - to her neoliberal program.
Nihilism was Nietzsche’s baby.
Nihilism is why we have Global War On Terror. It's the political manifestation of nihilism. Nihilism’s whip is the predator drone. Missiles disintegrate, incinerate. This is different from things being blown into little pieces.
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails - Now I’m nothing is other meaning, coincidence that his first album, Pretty Hate Machine, came out a month after the Berlin wall came down. Shows how music is reflective of our time.
John Ralston Saul, Canadian, his wife was the Governor General of Canada, the first Asian and first woman Governor General of Canada, the Queen’s representative. Saul said that Thatcher was a nanny. Thatcher called the opposition politicians her “wets,” referring to nannies making little boys ejaculate to shame them. Thatcher said there is no alternative to her plan.
On Christopher Hitchens, whose biography I’d just finished reading at the time, Der Kosmonaut said that Dave Barry on the TV show Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect (I need to check this, not familiar with it) said that just because Hitchens spoke with British accent didn’t mean that he was an intellectual. The British trots hated Hitchens.
Puritanism, description of. Why call it anti-social?
A puritan is someone who sees that others are having fun, and wants to crush it. Puritanism is extreme oppression. Human intimacy and human social interaction is to be suppressed under Puritanism. It was behind this anti-dancing thing in NYC because dancing is seen as sexual. Dancing was the primary way for young people to socialize. With the jazz age, blacks and whites danced together during the 1920s and that was the reason for the Cabaret Law which is still on the books.
Until the Jazz Age of the 1920s, young people did not have intimacy. No holding hands. No dating. The person you’re seeing is your future spouse. Puritanism came into play any time humans tried to interact as equals who respect each other. Loitering, the term, you only find in Anglo-Saxon countries. In Spain and Portugal, even under dictatorship, all that people do is loiter. The devil will find work for idle hands to do, said puritans, who saw people hanging out as dangerous, evil. In the US there have been numerous laws barring Native Americans and blacks congregate in groups of more than three.
Puritans instituted trespassing laws, where before the land belonged to everyone, belonged to nature, and the people at large. But under Puritanism it’s called trespassing, so its antisocial. Lakewood Washington has a private lake. DK said ‘its sociapathic’ to make a body of water private.
Notes on western intellectual decline
Deconstruction into oblivion, objectifies the other as barbaric while being silent on capitalism’s barbarism. “Universal subjective relativism while maintaining the universality of capitalism.” “Political thought reduced to political science.” Culture is atomized.
The purpose of cultural studies is to bring people into capitalist culture, to bring “the other” into the spiritual order of capitalism. It’s intellectual suicide, produces “Coca Cola intellectuals.”
Madison Avenue promotes uniqueness that atomizes individuals, whereby individualism replaces the self. TINA means alternative lifestyles are not alternatives to capitalism.
A reduction of living standards seen as attack on the freedom to consume.
Under this logic, individualism counts as equality and everyone is equal because we’re all individuals. Human rights seeking to reform capitalism makes it stronger. Multiculturalism breeds racism. Political correctness has repressed open expression.
“Sexual expression is reduced to identity politics.”
“The role of artist is to break all totalitarian ideas.”
“Feminism is about dictating sexual behavior.”
On morally elitist people using French, he then transitioned to a critique on people in general who have a holier than thou attitude. The unstated context, which we didn’t mention, was the US bombing of Serbia, but it could also apply to Hitchens’ support for the US invasion and occupation of Iraq after 911. “They have an emotional response to social reality.” People take things as a moral crusade, particularly in terms of humanitarian intervention. People take the moral high ground, which is left over from Puritanism and the Catholic Inquisition (moral police). Morally elitist people try to disguise moral arguments with pseudo intellectualism and by invoking French words. People often quote philosophers without understanding them. Pretentiousness.
“European French is the most rigid and controlled language in the world,” he said, “because they’re so afraid of English.”
“English is the most liberal language. We have rules of grammar but they’re not really enforced.”
He added: now that the 21st century is established. Democracy is actually is dead. Francis Fukuyama said democracy has triumphed and will will flourish now until the rest of human civilization. This is manifestly not true. We now have the countries he cited, all the liberal western countries, are openly calling for dictatorship. Last week one of Rupert Murdoch's papers in Australia published an editorial saying parliamentary democracy isn’t working and what’s needed is a benign dictatorship. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung editorial writers (equivalent of NY Times) are calling for a dictatorship as well as openly talking abouty discarding democracy. Moreover, Fukuyama proclaimed the end of the dialectics. No, says DK, capitalism is in crisis, third time we’ve gone through this, because the dialectic capitalism is still functioning. As long as you still have capitalism, you’ll have the dialectic. Fukuyama said the dialectic is gone but he doesn’t understand economics, not even a layman’s understanding of economics. The dialectic is still around, says DK. By dialectic, he says internal contradictions of capital, the Marxian view, history has always been a constant struggle between haves and have-nots. When western colonialists and imperialists arrogantly spoke of primitive societies they meant pre-class societies because they didn’t have a concept of private property. This leads back to intellectual impoverishment. Fukuyama had only a very general understanding of history. During the 90s he was the leading intellectual of western world. His ideas were taken up by China, the ANC (African National Congress) and Nelson Mandela. The end of Apartheid did not end class relations. Assets remained in control of white elite. You still have police brutality, only with black cops abusing blacks, which makes California look like a liberal utopia. Fukuyama cites South Africa. Here was a guy ignorant of economics and basic history becomes leading intellectual of 90s. 911 blew that out of the water. History came
charging back. The dialectic of imperialism and capitalism – which needs markets. Middle East is the new market. Even under socialism you have the idea at lending with interest. If Fukuyama had looked beyond the industrial world, out to the larger world, he wouldn’t have said end of history. Rich nations are still dominating poor ones. End of history – is petite bourgeois Der Kosmonaut calls it “out to lunch” which doesn’t reflect economics of 10s of millions of people today who are struggling economically. Der Kosmonaut defined existentialism as a struggle to exist. Petite Bourgeois realize accumulation of wealth isn’t enough. The things they should worry about they don’t.
Existentialism – he defined as the struggle to survive day to day. I didn’t know this. My concentration on our conversation slipped a bit here because I was distracted by this new definition of existentialism. It challenges my old understanding.
50s high alienation, deadening, there seemed like no light at the end of the tunnel,
The theory of hysteria, unfinished work by Hermann Broch. If he hadn’t died before completing it, it would have been a very important work.
The basis modern western philosophy, French in particular is the division between nature and culture. Nature is the absence of man. Culture is man in nature. This is the point of departure in modern philosophy. [Needs clarity, restatement. What are the origins of those ideas?] [13 February 2015 he added: Rousseau could already see with the rise of capitalism –the biological nature of man was going to be degraded. One thing we saw in 20th century due to alienation, intellectuals and artists tried to live in harmony with nature, ie Kipling’s jungle book, showed people living in harmony with nature. Reactionaries of the time were still reflective, they understood the dehumanization of capitalism, the antisocial nature of metropolitan industrial life. That’s why they were supporters of colonialism, even the working class. That’s why Kipling and Forster and the french intellectuals supported colonialism. Because it was a way for Metropolitan men to get in touch with humanity Now the petite bourgeoisie don't understand that, they want to go to Vegas or Disney World. Their dream of escape – a walled resort in the Caribbean. The majority of the petite bourgeoisie don’t want to go to nature.
If UK fought the US in late 1800s, the US had 7 battleships, UK 50. UK would have beaten the US without landing troops.
Giuliani kicked outYassar Arafat from Lincoln Center after seeing him in the audience in 1995. Staten Island is run by Molinaris [Guy and Susan Molinari are a father and daughter right wing political dynasty-DK], Nazis. Elders won’t be able to contain the youth Der Kosmonaut wrote in his Fall of New York in 97.
Because of the end of history, led to a dangerous arrogance, rich countries thought they could have their way with the world. We are sitting at the brink of WW3, which really could be the end of history. DK's French intellectual friends all bought ff hook line and sinker. Fukuyama was frequently on French TV.
Hermann Broch wrote the Sleepwalker Trilogy. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Broch] First book is The Romantic [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sleepwalkers_%28Broch%29] . Broch talks about technology development leading psycho-bio development in humans. ATAVISM (throwbacks, reversion to old traits). [Ask about this, why he mentioned it 13 February 2015 he added: Austrians so on the money. Since the industrial revolution, the level of tech development has outpaced our natural biological evolution. Broch has a conversation in his book between two characters. von Pasenow in 1888 is expressing his alienation at a time Germany was 2nd largest industrial nation in Europe. One character was a knight, his family guarded the Kaiser. Bertrand was from feudal knight family but wanted to become a capitalist. Pasenow’s mind is still in the feudal period.
Now, we’ve just gotten used to industrialization, but we’re in a whole new tech stage. DK and I are at the end of the era of industrial era. DK cannot get into Facebook. Facebook is atavism to him. People freak out when you call them now. DK is psychologically developed as an industrial person. Twitter is bullshit for him. None of his friends are on Twitter, his friends don’t follow him, don’t know who he is on twitter. He calls it social video game.
Quote: “Transcendental homelessness is a philosophical term coined by George Lukacs in his 1920 work Theory of the Novel. Lukacs describes the term as "the urge to be at home everywhere."” As retrieved 7 February 2015, from: “Transcendental homelessness,” Wikipedia.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_homelessness
This is why online education hasn’t worked. We need to be present, smell each other. Pheromones – we need to like each others’ scents. We are going too fast for our biology. Sometimes when we don’t like another person, it’s because of their scent.
Switching to French – Western intellectuals all knew French, until the mid 20th century.
French is the language of modern philosophy and until the 20th century it was the language of diplomacy. Until the mid 20th century, if you had a BA you had to speak French. It wasn’t just critical theory documents that would switch to French, but the NYT as well. French was popular in the 1980s because of postmodernism, especially Jean Baudrillard and Michel Foucault.
Der Kosmonaut isn’t a Pomo, he’s an Austrian modernist.
Shadow boxing and obscurantism is at the essence of Pomo, which arose out of the failure of ’68. Everyone became disillusioned after 68. The lesson the pomos walked away with is that direct confrontation with the state won’t win, so you just shadow box.
I missed writing down something about ‘the last philosopher’.
Then he mentioned Fanon and Sartre. Pomos first attacked Sartre because of his introduction to Fanon’s ‘Black Skin, White Mask’ where Sartre said whites would have hell to pay for how they’ve treated others. That was a turning point.
[13 February 2015 he added: Anglo-Dutch Protestantism made man equal to god, then killed god, then made capital god. ]
Time Must Have a Stop, by Aldous Huxley, 1944, written in Los Angeles [What is significant about this?] [13 February 2015 he added: It would be wrong to say Fukuyama was illiterate but he was so uncultured, lacks a layman's understanding of economics, but hasn’t read literature. WW2 sobered Huxley up. In the book he comes to the conclusion, refutes everything about the end of history as espoused by Fukuyama. In Time Must Have A Stop capitalist democratic progress is a farce, Huxley says. Every progressive capitalist movement results in disaster, Huxley said. Racism, Jim Crow in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, separate sections on streetcars. Huxley said soviet project was doomed to failure, just like western capitalist experiment was, because of racism. Huxley said the oppressed have long memories. Asians, Africans have long memories. Despite decolonization, not enough, these countries are all doomed, the oppressed will strike back, kill or exterminate. Huxley said there will never be peace again, just a long armistice. Huxley wrote this in 44. Since then constant war is what we’ve had. Huxley said reason for the armistice wanted by powers is because they have a common enemy, the oppressed in third world.
This was written nearly 20 years before Sartre wrote forward to Fanon, saying similar things.
The US Civil War, WWI, didn’t solve things.
Jim Morrison, The Doors of perception, named band after Huxley's book caused resurrection of Huxley. Time Must Have A Stop is Huxley's best book, DK said.
DK understands why Huxley and Sartre aren’t liked, because the oppressed have long memories. This includes Russia, as oppressor of non-whites. for DK's reading of Huxley, the end of history will occur when oppressed rise up. All of this was pre-Fanon.
DK cites another book, The Coming Race War, written by a South African in 60s. DK cites the chapter: The white world of Moscow. DK adds “and Huxley was a white bourgeois Englishman and this white European man was way ahead..."
Shadow boxing arose because for pomos philosophy was no longer supposed to be confrontational, but instead pomos would rather be detached from the real world.
I missed important points here and probably mislabeled things:
He contrasted western liberalism with communism saying liberalism defined freedom as access to the ballot box, whereas communists ) wanted control over the means of production, which he equated with supply-side economics.
Women who read are hiding at home, he said.
14 February 2015 Vita Capitol Hill.
Huxley invented “end of time.” See the title of his book: Time Must Have a Stop, by Aldous Huxley, 1944, written in Los Angeles.
Before Bill Gates, Protcor and Gamble was the big evil corporate entity.
(Communist Party USA)CPUSA was disrupted because 42% of its membership was black in 1940. CPUSA was the first organization in the US that was committed to racial equality. At a time when the CPUSA membership stood at 100k, there were “basically 42,000 black card-carrying members of the Communist Party.”
Recommends this book: Communists in Harlem in the Great Depression by Mark Naison
Two whites from Chicago went to Birmingham Alabama and organized an all-black CPUSA group in 1936. There were gun battles between the black commies and the local KKK, which destroyed the Klan. “That’s why you got white citizens councils” afterwards, he said.
Keanga Taylor wrote an article about it in Socialist Review (US).
During the Depression the CPUSA gave people jobs, including Richard Wright and Langston Hughes. When the Harlem Renaissance ended, the Party (or rather its front groups) offered employment to artists.
Every intellectual and artist in the 1930s, both white and black, was associated with CPUSA he said.
Most of the targets in the Red Scare were black. The first person brought up by the McCarthy committee Paul Robeson, then Jackie Robinson. Only later did the committee bring up whites.
Der Kosmonaut opposes orthodoxy on the left. His uncle was a Maoist.
He’s tired of people talking up Marcus Garvey, who he calls a crook and a scammer. Garvey sold fake tickets to go to Africa. In Jamaica people lined up at the docks, but the ship never came. Garvey defrauded tens of thousands of people in Jamaica and the US. He didn’t pay people working on his newspaper. Garvey – “a self professed fascist.” He said blacks were the original fascists. He met with the KKK. The KKK website has a page on Markus Garvey. They hold him up positively. The KKK calls Garvey the “black Moses.” [DK emailed a link to the KKK website page on Garvey.]
Theodore Hertzl did the same thing in Austria. Der Kosmonaut wrote an article comparing Hertzl and Garvey. Hertzel collaborated with the fascist racist Anti-Semites.
SA: “Malcolm Garvey Huey” song by the Dead Presidents.
Der Kosmonaut thinks that WEB DuBois is the best American intellectual, in part because DeBois was an internationalist.
Noam Chomsky, as a linguist, was able to read in other languages, especially the international press, so that’s how he was able to set himself up as an authority on international politics. But now in the age of the Internet with Google Translate, we can all do that.
The French could have nipped WWII in the bud. The German high command was worried that French would invade from the West in response to Germany’s invasion of Saarland. If there was one shot fired on the French border, the German army was supposed to pull back.
Francois Mitterand built his reputation on being in Le Resistance, but was in the Vichy government until 1942. He saw how the Battle of Stalingrad was turning out, and joined the resistance.
The French in WWII were an embarrassment. The French Resistance is glorified.
The French were largely ok with Nazi occupation. The French didn’t object to the deportation of the Jews.
France did not win WWII. The French offered no gratefulness to the US after WWII. After WWI yes. After WWII, France was the only Western European country that wasn’t a US vassal. de Gaulle was to the US what Tito was to Stalin, because Tito knew that Stalin wanted to reduce Yugoslavia to a satellite, just as de Gaulle didn’t want to be a US satellite. De Gaulle kicked US out of France mil cooperation for the US CIA helping the Algerian coup people.
Puritan capitalism has moral undertones. German capitalism is cold calculation, brutal exploitation. Now over one million people are being forced to work for $1.35 (one euro) per hour in Germany. They’re on a government program that pays their rent, on the condition that they work full time. Media concentration in Germany is worse than what Murdoch has been able to achieve. The propaganda about Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia was all [started?] in the German media, notably Bertelsmann. Bertelsmann runs most tv and satellite networks in Europe, especially in Belgium, Italy, Denmark and Germany. Germany controls most Western European media, through Bertelsmann.
After Germany reunified in 1990 its first foreign policy objective was the destruction of Yugoslavia. Germany always wanted a unified market in Western Europe. The EU was built out of ashes of Yugoslavia. The turbo-capitalist superstructure couldn’t exist alongside a united and socialist Yugoslavia.
The Croatian paramilitary ‘Ustasha’ were more efficient than the German SS in WWII. The Ustasha killed 750k Serbs in WWII. The Serbs say 1 million. Croats say 350,000, so Der Kosmonaut thinks a figure of 750,000 is right. He interviewed people who fought in WWII. In ‘74 there was a fascist putsch. The Croatian Ustasha tried to overthrow Tito in 74 from Croatia. The West German secret service maintained its ties with the Croatian Ustasha. In 1991 Germany flooded Croatia with arms and money.
Ethnic cleansing started in Slovenia, administratively. People with non-Slovene names couldn’t get driver licenses, health insurance. Real ethnic cleansing started in Croatia, with Tudjman saying Get The Fuck Out or be exterminated. On national TV he said it. In Bosnia all sides were engaged in ethnic cleansing. Serb nationalism was a reaction to Slovene and Croatian nationalism. Under Tito, Serb nationalism was suppressed while Slovenian nationalism was allowed under Tito.
Berlin is a desperately poor city. It has a 40% unofficial unemployment rate in East Berlin. It has many people working for 1 euro per hour because of welfare reform.
“Tony Blair is to social democracy as Stalin is to communism,” DK said. Blair adopted a pro-capitalist policy. Because of his success German Social Democrats followed the same path, adopting policies called Hartz IV– to make capitalism more competitive. Under their welfare ‘reform’ – they said, “We will pay for your rent if you work full time for 1 euro per hour.” You cannot job-hop in Europe. The class stratification in education is stricter in Europe than the US. There are two systems, the secondary school system and the gymnasium. If you go to secondary school, you only have to go until you’re 16, but with a secondary school education you cannot get accepted into a university. To get into a university, you have to go to a gymnasium, but first you have to score well on a test that is similar to the SAT. Turkish kids have no chance because the test is in German. Their parents don’t speak German. The test reinforces segregation Kids get stuck in secondary schools. Poor kids can speak German but not write it.
Germany wants to reduce all of Europe to corporate feudalism, “starve them, squeeze them out, buy up their land for pennies on the euro.” The Germans are buying up the Greek islands.
Labels: Anthony Mitchell, Class, Commentary, Current Affairs, Der Kosmonaut, Economics, History, Imperialism, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Poetry, Politics, Race, Revolution, Seattle, Travel, War, World