Something to do with one’s mind


Over at The Tablet, Mark Oppenheimer has posted a thoughtful, in-depth profile of Bradley Smith and Mark Weber. The article is filed in four parts. Here are links to each:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Though Oppenheimer remains dismissive of the substance of revisionist argument and clings to a number of rehearsed assumptions about the nature of the project, his treatment of both men is refreshingly human and full of surprises. A few passages made me chuckle.

Bradley's book, The Man Who Saw His Own Liver, is available from Amazon and Nine-Banded Books.

Memento mori.

06/30/09 UPDATE:  Bradley's first response is here. He asks a question, and reminds us that Oppenheimer's series is actually preceded by a separate article.

Cultural Suicide is Painless

A couple of years ago, I knocked off a mean-spirited
commentary on Dennis Cooper's literary MO. In my hamfisted rush to twist the dagger, I neglected to weigh the prospect of an audience, and I certainly
never took account of the possibility that the subject of my
self-satisfied animadversion might ever take notice. So when
Cooper thought to list me in his gallery of "people who hate me,"
I was surprised, and mildly embarrassed. It seemed too late to
point out that I actually admire much of Cooper's writing, that I simply found his better instincts to have been smothered in this one pretentious
failed experiment, or that there might be reasons. I just wanted to buy
the guy a drink and talk about foreign documentaries and homo stuff. You
scratch against the tubes and there is humility. Conscience dictates. I could never use a

So I should state up front that I rather like and
respect Kevin MacDonald. I like that he keeps mining this abandoned vein, that he ruts through the footnotes and invites trouble and always seems up to the fight. I appreciate
the absence of coating and face-saving apology in his work, and I like the personal subtext that he
might not deny. The formal strictures of academic writing muffle the
beat, but there is an adventurous spirit detectable in the project to
which he is fused, for good or ill. I'm sure many Jewish intellectuals are more interested
— and more amused — than they'll ever confess. As Superman needs a foil, Jewish history needs a threat. Considered as symbiosis, it's almost quaint.

Of course, I felt the same way about Andrea Dworkin.

Now track back to a recent sputter. Where the mysterious paleocon essayist, Takuan Seiyo, files a shrewdly critical commentary on Kevin MacDonald's troublesome intellectual mission. Where, in a testily pitched response, Prof. MacDonald conveniently accuses Seiyo of "ethnocentric self-deception." Where the beat goes on.

That Seiyo's critique should be only the most recent exhibit in a sideshow of rightwing flare-ups over the MacDonald mystique is not really a surprise. It makes sense that the row should be noisiest at the traditionalist edge, where Occidentalist romance is still limned in crude hoping measures. I suppose this is a good thing. It's at least grist.

I just don't hear the music. I don't think it's real.

Considered as evo-psych, MacDonald's heterodox Jewish studies trilogy — especially the The Culture of Critique — may be preposterously overconfident, but once you get past the pretense to science there are some devilishly incisive dissident deconstructions to swish around. I happen to think old MacDonald is on to something, for example, when he decrypts what might be called a "Jewish Savior" trope in a number of pop-cultural artifacts, such as Ordinary People and Independence Day (I would add Welcome Back Kotter and Taxi, though Northern Exposure can almost be read as a parody of the same narrative strategy). If I had the means, I'd pay the bad professor to annotate TV Guide for my perpetual amusement and edification. Subversive pop-crit is a tart snack, even when the main course goes down like persimmon goulash.

If non-cognitivism reduces philosophy to a transvaluative aesthetic game, then  I am liberated to play it loose from Stirner's trench, or from the gut. And so I will. Because I have no use for nationalism or racialism. I don't like babies (of any hue) and I have little respect for pregnant women. I absolutely want to have my cake and eat it too, and why the fuck not? I didn't ask to be born and now I wait to die, all because two gene-propagating robots heeded nature's algorhythimic call. Fuck them for that. I'm left with bells and whistles and taste and sensibility, and the call to some greater awakening will always read as static dash and dot, cuz that's just what it is.

I like the idea of middlebrow WASPish housewives talking Phillip Roth at the Wednesday bookclub. I like that they'll remember the best lines and miss the subversive hostility that grates against another tunneled priority. Fuck Bob Hope, if that's what's left. Milton Friedman ended the draft and that's good enough for me. Murray Rothbard, that eternal Jew, unwittingly convinced me that breeding was indecent. Steven Pinker is a Jew. Ayn Rand could never shake the tethers. Stalin's Willing Executioners may have been disproportionately of a certain mein and stock, but Larry David makes me chuckle and Freud is wonderfully mad, and that's worth a mound of corpses at least. Thank those and fuck the others is my redoubt. It's not a ledger. Life is too short. I don't get lonely. I care more about animals than people. I see no need for apology. I know just where it ends. Call it salience. I am not joking.      

But I want to be fair, because I know you disagree. So listen as MacDonald restates a foundational point in reply to Seiyo:   

makes much of the fact that the people and ideas that were discussed among
Jewish radicals were in fact discussed by a whole lot of people, including “the
entire continental European intelligentsia.” Right. The whole point of The Culture of Critique is that movements that were originated
and dominated by Jewish intellectuals eventually became the culture of Western
suicide. This implies that they also became the culture of non-Jews. That was
the whole point of writing about my memories of

(OK. I want to interject, because that "Memories of Madison" piece it worth a read. The personalized drift
leaves me to wonder whether MacDonald got laid in college. Jewish
femininity can be so much sensory overload and I'm tempted to imagine a
certain recovering princess talking up young Kevin in the commons, or perhaps in the dorm late at night. Maybe she was having trouble with her
boyfriend back in New York. Maybe there was that tantalizing mind-melding moment, or a confession,
intoned in embarrassed laughter. To be honest, pot makes me nervous, too! Or: don't tell him, but I've never read a line of Pushkin! 
Oh, I know. Probably not. But damnit, when MacDonald talks about feeling "alienated," I don't sense he's playing at Marxian allusion. Do you? It must have meant something. It could have meant

Anyway, he continues:

In CofC, I present a theory of how these
movements spread their influence throughout society: These movements succeeded
because they were able to dominate the prestigious academic and media
institutions of the West. Once this domination was established, people were
socialized within a culture dominated by these ideas. And people who wanted to
establish themselves in the intellectual hierarchy perforce engaged in status
competition within the universe of acceptable discourse established by these
movements. People who dissented from these ideas were ostracized and vilified;
they were unable to gain recognition or, quite often, employment. Psychoanalysis
is a paradigm of this sort of movement. A major theme of CofC is that these movements did not
function like scientific movements — a product of Western individualist culture
— but much more like politburos and kangaroo courts. In that regard, there were
much more like traditional Jewish culture as described, for example, by
Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky

Yeah, OK. It might be a little bit true. I'm not nearly so convinced as MacDonald, but I'm willing to column it on the whiteboard with an asterisk. Trouble is, Jews are just plain smart. And smart explains a lot. Smart people helm movements and influence cultures. Yes, it seems possible — even likely — that psychoanalysis and Marcusian social diagnostics may have been enculturated with the spirit of deeper religious and intellectual traditions, as MacDonald would at least nearly insist. And the same subtextual currents might have informed the trajectory and texture of the arduous dialectical logomachies that once got a few bookish Trotskyists closer to laid.

You imagine the proud difficulty that comes of slogging through Talmudic hermeneutics, redirected from the backbrain where the lessons of a rejected father-figure yet simmer. Or you imagine a revolutionist's screed coming to nest at strangely familiar metes and bounds. Communism as a squeaky-clean new god, who might have succeeded. Or who still favors the chosen. You imagine certain prescripted minds flipping through channels, selling goods. 

Or. Conversely. You can imagine Rudolf the red-nosed goy, left with everything to prove. Alienated. And tempted by Jewish pussy.

You can take the boy out of the schettle, but selfish genes are cursed in wile. Is the game thus rigged? I doubt it, but I don't give a fuck if it is.    

Even if MacDonald's suspicions could somehow be tested and proven, the prescription he favors would be dubious by any account, and would be of no interest ever — ever — to me.

Let's flay it to the marrow. In the sad slophut of human nature, there probably is an instinct toward ethnic preservation — a kin-selective peacock effect that may be reinforced by a culture here, subverted by a counterculture there. But assuming this much to be true, so what? By what reason should any normative conclusions follow? MacDonald and his fans seek hope in the recrudescence of ango-white racial consciousness, which inevitably means a fight (or a "cultural insurrection" to use MacDonald's titular phrase). It also means more Bob Hope, and Bob Evans. I have no use for either.

A closer look will reveal a call to action dressed in tried rhetorical phrases that latch to abstractions that reduce to the seductive romance of another dumb naturalistic fallacy. Where everything presupposed is just as confidently rejected. You love your daddy and I hate mine. Pessimism and nihilism are separated, as ever, by a pluckable cunthair. The Hog wields a rusty tweeze engraved with the words, "no one should ever have children."

Google the phrase "suicide of the west" and you'll soon be kneedeep in the mire of  rightist slogan-shouting sludge. But viewed against the certainty of real death and real suffering, the heroically sung preference for dynastic survival will always read as hollow arrogance, as clumsily hoped quasi-spiritual, empty meta-ethical cant. Not for a moment do I doubt that the specter of ethnic "suicide" thrums against atavistic chords in minds far keener than mine. Yet it was only ever a metaphor, children — a metaphor that  cannot but obscure the welcome reality that fewer people will be born to face the blight of any struggle from without.

If that's the way you imagine it, why, precisely, would you enlist future generations in the praxis? If you think the ship is sinking, if you have nightmares about Norman Lear and Judd Hirsch, here is my suggestion: don't have kids. Demography isn't destiny in any sense that matters. Death is destiny. And genes are not reasons. All life begets death. Racial struggle is a sad distraction for restive souls. Touch the third rail and hope vanishes, as well it should.

If the "suicide of the west" is imminent, my only regret is that it might not be contagious. Is David Benatar a Jew? I fucking hope so.

Memento mori.                                      

HeteroDocs: A Trial Balloon


Just read Greg Johnson's fawning review of a no-budget documentary called A Conversation About Race. Judging from the clips, it might be worth a look. The director, Craig Bodeker, seems to have made something interesting of a very simple concept. With all this highminded talk of a "national dialogue" over an uber-sensitive subject, why not take it to the streets? Why not ask commonfolk some honest questions and see where it goes, just as the New Boss would have it? I like the idea. I like the subversive intent. I don't mind that the result might be selectively filtered, or manipulative. I absolutely assume and expect as much. That's in the nature of this beast. Patricia Aufderheide has written that the documentary genre is "defined by the tension between the claim to truthfulness and the need to select and represent the reality one wants to share." Form follows function, and when form is predefined in the style of careful seduction — something that may be more intrinsic to visual narrative — the tension can be especially potent, and entertaining.          

Anyway, as I was debating whether to order the DVD — or whether to hit up Bodeker for an interview in hope that he might send me a freebie — it occurred to me that his experiment is apiece with a broader trend. Nowadays, these editorially framed first-personal films-as-argument are everywhere. In recent wide release, we've seen Religulous and Expelled, both of which owe something to Michael Moore's self-promotional innovations. And when it trickles down to the desktop and the tubes, things soon get intriguingly out of hand. A cottage industry of microbudget 9/11 conspiracy docs has gained enough influence to inspire a counter-movement of  rebuttal videos and palmipsest-styled overdocs. Elsewhere, Michael Blowhard has expended more than a few keystrokes in promotion of Tom Naughton's Fat Head, a comically intoned low-carb polemic that reminds us that dissident dietetics can be as politically incorrect as that Supersize Me guy is, well, incorrect. Stray a bit further off the radar, and you'll discover those YouTube-banned Holocaust denial videos, which we've already discussed. Or you can wade full-on into the parallax view until your pupils itch. Ickeites, Teslans, LaRouchies and Moonhoaxists gone wild, vying for your sleepless click and watch. Take it down neat, cum grano salis.

Of course, I'm sure I'm not the first to notice any of this. I'm sure the emergence of dissident DIY filmcraft has everything to do with the democratization of the means of production, and blady yada ho. Blessed be technology, as far as it goes. Whatever the long and short, it's manna for insomniacs. Perhaps the day comes when dueling documentaries will will redefine discourse, when atomized media-facilitated disputation appears as background static, like ads. I don't know that I won't be entertained.           

Just the same, I should be clear that this really isn't my poison. I'm queer for film, but I'm partial to European arthouse shockers and mean-spirited horror flicks, and pretty much anything that makes me laugh. And when it comes to documentaries, I'm more inclined to revisit the Maysles brothers or every frame of Wiseman's work than to linger too long over polemically spirited drive-by curios. I know the smell of ephemera, and I know when to wince. If you want a sense of my sense, know that I consider John Stagliano's Buttman Confidential to be a work of strange genius and I could say the same for Giuseppe Andrews' Jacuzzi Rooms.  Bob Gates' all-but-never-seen short, Communication from Weber, was the first documentary that I considered to be art, and Jacob Young's pioneering bio-docs meant something to me even if fuck Jesco White. I feed on whatever it is Ulrich Seidl is carving. And if you want to wind it all the way back, I'll show you my hard-on for Riefenstahl and Vertov. Or for that matter, In Search Of. After a few drinks, I may go on a tear about the unsung genius of Mary Ellis Bunim and John Langley. I have taste, goddamn it. Time is finite, and I know how to waste it.

But I'm here, for the moment, to coin a clumsy term — "HeteroDocs" — and soon to outline a precious list, which I hope to annotate over time. With that task at hand, some ground rules are in order.

First, we need a working definition. Here's my first pitch:

HeteroDocs are documentary films (or videos) that explore or advance unorthodox ideas or taboos.

That seems sufficiently broad, and sufficiently simple. We want to cover these nascent expressions of post-Moore desktop dissidence along with traditionally narrated TV docs and more widely distributed fare on the festival circuit.  It fits neatly with my bloggy hook, with the stifling Hoover Hog mission to which I am more or less happily wedded. Done and done.

Do we need categories? Why not. Let's start off with a relatively wide net.


Obviously, there will be some overlap. We can sort it out later.

There may be a need to draw finer distinctions. For one thing, it should be made clear that HeteroDocs is not a byword for "politically incorrect" documentaries. Though many efforts thus billed will make the cut, I don't think monomaniacal  Michael Moore haters will have much use for such extrapolitical provocations as The Sound and the Fury or Zoo.

Then there is the matter of shifting consensus, or vindication; back when Frontline produced investigative documentaries on such subjects as satanic ritual abuse, false memory syndrome and facilitated communication, their editorial perspective rattled against reigning sentiment, even if time was on their side. Thus I will include the ones that seemed prickly enough in contemporaneous context.

As for the conspiracy stuff, it's  is a source of abiding frustration. My strong sense is that heterodoxy is intellectually distinct from rank kookery, but I want to be careful not to erect arbitrary boundaries. Perhaps some order of notoriety should override a default instinct toward completism? I am not sure, but I'll follow gut my and park the close calls where they seem to fit. And quality counts.

Finally, there will be the tough cases. Are studies of "outsider" perspectives automatically candidates for inclusion? In the case of Chicken Hawk (a documentary about NAMBLA) the "inside" POV alone favors inclusion. But when we turn to In the Realms of the Unreal, a study of the famed "outsider artist," Henry Darger, I'm much less certain. What about Errol Morris's Mr Death — about Fred Leuchter? Leuchter is certainly a heterodox thinker by reference to consensus, but Morris's editorial slant is complicated, even if there is an argument for esotericism. I make the call. Leuchter goes in, and Darger stays out. Faced with other hard cases, I may opt to consign them to the catchall "sui generis" category, or I may turn to my loyal readership. Again, we can consult the rule book once and if it's written.   

While my original intention was to append this post with a working filmography, the project is taking forever to compile, so consider this a prelim. If you want to nominate documentaries for inclusion, or if you want to argue against my taxonomy, comments will be most useful.

Next up: "From Ana's Girl's to Zoo: A HeteroDocs Filmography in Progress."

Do I smell popcorn?

Memento mori.

Digging Wells

If you own any of the books pictured below — I'm looking for these specific editions — I would like to borrow or purchase them from you. Please contact me through the email under my mugshot to discuss.  






Persecution is Complicated: An Update on the “Heretical Two”


Several months ago, I tried to draw attention to the little-reported case of two convicted British thought criminals languishing in a Santa Ana hoosegow as their appeal for political asylum proceeded before an INS court. Several months later, Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle are still behind bars, still in U.S. custody. And the news isn't good. A judge denied their appeal, and after nearly a year in lockup the publishers of now wait to be shipped back to the island from which our forbears escaped, where they face multi-year prison sentences for expressing thoughts.

The upside is that the LA Times finally — yesterday — took notice of the story. In a more or less evenhanded report filed by Dana Parsons, the saga of the "Heretical Two" is lightly spun as as a legalistic farrago:

Their lengthy detention is largely the product of the asylum-seeking
process that Sheppard and Whittle brought on themselves when they
entered the country. They and their original attorney acknowledge that
motions they filed helped prolong the case.   

Judicature is a paper-tendriled beast, we are reminded, and the matter is complicated. Prolonged jumpsuited detention was of necessity, it must be understood. Clogged in the the sausage factory of a process, a lone appeal must stall and sputter in the slow cogwork of procedures proceeding in the bureaucratic jam of so many tittles and forms and strikethroughs and hearings and caseloads and delays the rest of it. It's a small price for civilized order. And someone is always disappointed. 

Yet the judge's reasoning is never illuminated, never even disclosed. The LAT tells us only this:    

In denying asylum, Peters ruled that the men hadn't shown they had been
persecuted in the past or likely to face future persecution.

So we are left to wonder. Is the judge saying that these hapless pro se appellants failed to state the salient facts of their case? That she was not informed of a situation that smells and quacks like any Webster-preferred definition of persecution? Or does her ruling mean something very different?

I am neither a lawyer nor a judge, but it seems clear enough that the operative authority by which the matter should have been adjudicated is contained in a UN Convention, endorsed by the United States by dint of a more expansive protocol. In relevant part, this Convention defines a legitimate political refugee or asylum seeker as:

A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for
reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular
social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his
nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail
himself of the protection of that country
; or who, not having a
nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual
residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear,
is unwilling to return to it.   

Assuming a term of art is subject to ambiguous construction, a careful jurist might seek guidance in secondary sources, in related codifications and principles, or in dictionaries. To "persecute" according to Webster, is "to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict
; specifically
: to cause to suffer because of belief." Interesting.

In broader context, Amnesty International provides a useful line: 

"Prisoners of conscience" are men, women or children imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs or because of their race, gender or other personal characteristics . . . Amnesty seeks the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience.

And then there is Article 19 of the original UN Declaration of Human Rights, to which the United States is also a signatory. Goes like this:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

And  if such guiding proclamations still seem a smidge too vague and slippery, a U.S. judge might yet seek counsel in the emanations and penumbras of a native document. I know one that might even be "on point." Silly goose that I am, I have it memorized:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Perhaps there's yet an argument, supported by the weight of reams of caselaw. Perhaps the fact that these guys were facing serious time for writing words, is in no way clear evidence of persecution. I am aware that countless people have it worse. I can be blind to nuance, slow on the uptake. Could've been a lawyer, but I wound up here.

But there is another possibility, almost too simplistic to consider. It it at least possible with some effort to imagine that a gavel-wielding magistrate, secure in the knowledge that no one was looking, simply didn't like the words used by two men over whose fate she was authorized. It is possible, in other words, that she was being a cunt.

Whatever the case, seeing as Simon Sheppard stands to be locked away for another half-decade, I'll give him the  the last word:

We're not cowed and we're not repentant . . . We have the
right even to make mistakes. We could be wrong, it's not inconceivable.
We have a right to be wrong. All we're doing is speaking our minds.

Memento mori.


Against Politics on “Mad”

Aschwin de Wolf  reads  Jonathan Bowden's Mad and wonders about the practicability of "a unique and coherent Nietzschean/Lovecraftian worldview that is
strictly positivist in its epistemology, and  distinctly reactionary in
its rejection of egalitarianism and democracy as an alternative to
socialism, (classical) liberalism and contemporary conservatism." Nerd!

Memento mori.