Random Rules

Sorry for the light posting of late.  The day job has been a factor, and after several false starts, I have resolved to approach the final antinatalism thing somewhat differently, which may take some time.

Speaking of which, the latest issue of Free Inquiry is focused largely on the secular humanist response to "Dying, Death, and End-of-Life Ritual."  It’s a frustrating read, showcasing the A to B range of half-thought false comforts and hollow lessons that remind me of why "humanism" is at best — and at base — a lazy refuge.  It is also, I think, something of a missed opportunity.  Although a number of contributors dwell appropriately on the apocalyptic and painful finality of death and the unreal parody of solace promised by conventional funerary rites, the more fundamental questions are begged but never explicitly addressed.   

The nearest exception may be Rudy Hoffman’s informative discussion of  "Cryonics Today," which outlines the rational case for eschewing certain death in favor of a long liquid nitrogen nap.  Reading Hoffman’s piece, I was surprised to learn that to date only about a thousand individuals have opted for the fabled Disney option, a fact which strengthens my long nursed suspicion that atheists are no more immune from the natural lure of folk psychology than the churchbound masses.  Of course, you may be able to point up a raft of technical problems that bedevil present-day efforts to resuscitate cryopreserved organisms, in reply to which Hoffman makes the obvious point that, "[j]ust because this has yet to be done, it does not mean that it cannot
be done."

Legitimate cryonics protocols and concepts do not violate
known laws of physics or biology, and there are many “proof of concept”
examples, like reduced temperature surgery and operating-room
resuscitation of people prematurely pronounced “dead.”   

As last a last ditch gambits go, it’s simply the only one that makes sense.  What’s more, as Hoffman notes, most insurance policies can be adjusted to cover the associated costs.  I’m looking into it.

What else?  Only a few notes from the great elsewhere:

  • By now, most of you have heard about James Watson’s race-realist heresy, as well as his pusillanimous apology and the ensuing fallout. Gene Expression provides some context.
  • Those of you who fail to see the connection between Rod McKuen’s poetry and crypto-fascist  showmanship may want to take an enlightening stroll with Boyd Rice, whose collected writings may be found in the Creation Books anthology,  Standing in Two Circles.
  • Even hardboiled connoisseurs of  Ann Coulter apologetics may be inclined to squirm as Nicholas Strakon strives for perfection.

Memento mori.

Pasolini’s Ugly Butterfly

I guess it’s been up for a while, but I just discovered this BFI reference page on Pier Paolo Pasolini’s perennially controversial film-adaptation,  Salò or The 120 Days of Sodom.  I was immediately drawn to the slain director’s annotative jottings, in which obligatory antifascist precepts are quickly overborne by a clear aesthetic fidelity to the Sadean logic of a "mad dream," which is revealed to be "all the more logical in its whole when it’s the least in its details."

In commenting on the ideological import of Salo, Pasolini asks, perhaps not at all rhetorically, "[w]ho could doubt my sincerity when I say that the message of Salò is the denunciation of the anarchy of power and the inexistence of history?" 

Show of hands?

More significantly, there is his closing distillation of  craft, where Pasolini explains:

In every shot it can be said I set myself the problem of driving the
spectator to feeling intolerant and immediately afterwards relieving
him of that feeling.   

Recognizing that relief is not the same as catharsis, it is tempting to reflect on Pasolini’s bait & switch in light of Michael Haneke’s more structurally trained experiments, and readily articulated justifications. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I do worry about cynicism.  But it’s not as if the critics aren’t looking for excuses.  Consider the tactical palliation deployed to attenuate — or simply deny — the clear-cut cosmic nihilism expressed in Todd Solandz’s Palindromes; or consider  the pretextual convolutions marshaled in denial of Gaspar Noe’s point-blank nationalist requiem, Irreversible (note to Stephen Hunter: we are most certainly in Paris, and while "natural man" may be a monster, he’s not the species you prefer; watch Straw Dogs and try again).   I’m never sure if it’s blindness or mendacity, or shades of the two. But I am sure of some things.

Unlike Pasolini, David Cronenberg is one of those auteurs whose work  is reliably more interesting to read about than to see.  There’s an iteration he’s fond of, here excerpted from the fascinating interview collection, Cronenberg on Cronenberg:

As an artist, one is not a citizen of society.  An artist is bound to explore every aspect of human experience, the darkest corners — not necessarily — but if that is where one is led, that is where one must go.  You cannot worry about what the structure of your own particular segment of society considers bad behavior, good behavior; good exploration, bad exploration.  So, at the time you’re being an artist, you’re not a citizen.  You don’t have the social responsibility of a citizen.  You have in fact, no social responsibility whatsoever.

And later in the same exchange:

When I write, I must not censor my own imagery or connections.  I must not worry about what critics will say, what leftists will say, what environmentalists will say.  I must ignore all of that.  If I listen to all of those voices I will be paralyzed because none of this can be resolved.  I have to go back to the voice that spoke to me before all these structures were imposed on it, and let it speak these terrible truths.  By being irresponsible I will be responsible.

In his BFI commentary, Gary Indiana, suggests that part of Salo‘s continuing resonance may be explained by  the fact that "there weren’t imitations of it." True enough, Ilsa came before.  But I wonder how he could have overlooked Last House on Dead End Street, or for that matter, Fat Girl

By being irresponsible I will be responsible.