Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday Night Drama - John Gardner - The Temptation Game

The Hollywood-Republican Promotion of Paranoia And Fear Has Turned Us Into World Class Chumps For Trump

I have been posting things I write online long enough to know what things will get someone's knickers in a knot.  If I wanted to, I could probably get a lot of readers by writing stuff that would get the kind of reaction that Salon and AlterNet clearly use as their marketing strategy, but I don't see any point in that, regularly, though it is, occasionally, necessary.

One of the more certain ways to do that is to diss the movies and TV.  Americans, alleged left to far right love their movies and TV.  And one of the figures of Hollywood whose dissing will get the biggest reaction is the man who, in his younger days sold his vision of paranoid violence with (women fearing, woman using) sexuality,  Clint Eastwood.   If it were not so hellishly hot here right now, if I were not enervated from the heat I might try, try to imagine the mind-set that has been influenced by Clint and that genre of movie he epitomizes, though it would probably put me off thinking about sex for quite a few days if I got anywhere with it.  So I won't go any farther with that, not today.

I re-read Marilynne Robinson's essay Fear,  published in the New York Review of Books.  As a number of writers have noted, since the Republican-fascist convention, it is especially timely as they are trying to sell the show-biz, likely ersatz billionaire crack pot as President of the United States through exactly those fears that Robinson goes through in that great essay.  That Donald Trump as a public figure is a creation of show biz, entertainment TV, it is especially appropriate to concentrate on the role that entertainment - which includes cabloid era "news" - has had in selling him to enough voters to make him the nominee of the Republican party.   He's not the first such figure, Ronald Reagan was elevated by the same use by Republicans of entertainment to create him as a politician, one who reportedly couldn't focus on briefings, who would spontaneously start talking about the movie he watched the previous night as he was to be dealing with even the most momentous issues of government, foreign policy and the use of military power to kill lots of people, many of them entirely innocent.  It is a growing consensus that for a good part of at least his second term he was already well into the dementia which eventually killed him.   Consider the fact that he was sold by the media to the American public, defeating Jimmy Carter who, well into his nineties, shows no sign of mental debility and you have to conclude that the media, far from being the savior of American democracy is it primary source of destructive decay.

There is no rational case that this year the American media, the entertainment side and the less powerful part of that devoted to cabloid style infotanement is not repeating that pattern, that it has produced a country which could well elect Donald Trump over one of the most competent candidates and certainly the most investigated, tried and vetted candidate who has ever had a chance to win the office, Hillary Clinton.   Far from sounding any kind of alarm, the media with the real influence is presenting Donald Trump's message of fear of others, of pandering to insecurity and anxiety as if any of his alleged and ever shifting ideas - of, by and for the oligarchs - will do anything for the majority of people.  Far from pointing out that he is, by his own words, promoting strong-man fascism, the American media is selling him as a normal candidate instead of what he is, a man whose vision is fascistic as his CEO role in his reality TV show which raised him to his position in popular culture is.

If you want to know how the people of the United States came to the mind-set that could elect its second, Hollywood invented Republican candidate for President in less than four decades, look at Dirty Harry and the High Plains Drifter.    That vision of life, that concept of America was what produced where we are now.  A hell of a lot more people watched those than ever read a book by Milton Friedman or one ghost-written to be published as by Donald Trump.


Marilynne Robinson's essay makes many excellent points about the irrationality induced by the Republican campaign of fear and paranoia, none of them more terrifyingly appropriate than that of the current market in Kalashnikovs,  It is so excellent that I'm going to give you more than I probably should, though you really need to read the entire essay to get its total impact.

At a lunch recently Lord Jonathan Sacks, then chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, said that the United States is the world’s only covenant nation, that the phrase “We the People” has no equivalent in the political language of other nations, and that the State of the Union Address should be called the renewal of the covenant. I have read that Americans are now buying Kalashnikovs in numbers sufficient to help subsidize Russian rearmament, to help their manufacturers achieve economies of scale. In the old days these famous weapons were made with the thought that they would be used in a land war between great powers, that is, that they would kill Americans. Now, since they are being brought into this country, the odds are great that they will indeed kill Americans. But only those scary ones who want to destroy all we hold dear. Or, more likely, assorted adolescents in a classroom or a movie theater.

I know there are any number of people who collect guns as sculpture, marvels of engineering. When we mount a cross on a wall, we don’t do it with the thought that, in a pinch, we might crucify someone. This seems to be a little different when the icon in question is a gun. A “civilian” Kalashnikov can easily be modified into a weapon that would blast a deer to smithereens. That’s illegal, of course, and unsportsmanlike. I have heard the asymmetry rationalized thus: deer can’t shoot back. Neither can adolescents in a movie theater, of course. Neither can anyone not prepared for mayhem to break loose anywhere, at any time. And, imagining an extremely improbable best case, it is very hard to threaten or deter someone who is suicidal, as most of these assailants are. Gun sales stimulate gun sales—a splendid business model, no doubt about that. Fear operates as an appetite or an addiction. You can never be safe enough.

I know that hunting is sacrosanct in this country. This is beside the point, since hunting rifles are not the problem. And the conversation around this issue never stays long with hunting. It goes instead to the Second Amendment. Any literalist reading would notice the founders’ words “well-regulated” on one hand, and on the other the alarm that arises among the pro-gun people at the slightest mention of anything that resembles regulation, and their constant efforts to erode what little regulation there is. The supposed neglect or abuse of this revered document, and the supposed “defense of the Second Amendment,” is leveraged on that other fear, the fear that those bland blue helmets might be gathering even now, maybe in Canada, to commence their internationalist march into the heart of Texas. Will we wake to find ourselves betrayed by our own government!! Maybe nothing has deterred them to this point but those Kalashnikovs. How fortunate that the factory in Russia is up and running. And how hard those Russians must be laughing, all the way to the bank. And all those homicidal insurgents and oppressors in the turbulent parts of the world, how pleased they must be that we cheapen these marvelous weapons for them. Oh, I know there are all sorts of reliable gun manufacturers, in Austria, for example. Our appetite for weapons is one of those vacuums nature hates, that is to say, fills.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Elizabeth Warren On Trump: "He Sounded Like A Two-Bit Dictator"

Shorter Trump:  All we have to fear is EVERYTHING, except fear, itself. 

Thoughts After The Republican-Fascist Convention

It took the Hollywood meets Nuremberg horror of the Republican Convention to knock the Hillary Hater click-bait off of the "Most Read" sidebar list of Salon magazine, replaced by such horrified truths as that we could have an actual strong-man style fascist in a President Donald Trump as soon as the end of January.   I haven't checked the other alleged and actual lefty publications to see what the past two nights of fascist psychosis coming from the Republican Convention have done to their "most read" side bars but the beginning of the week, when I checked, almost all of those I've been criticizing for pandering to the Hillary haters on the play-left were still doing so.  And what they didn't have in the stories and columns they had in heaps of Hillary hating in their comment threads.

The "left, left," the socialist, Marxist, etc. "left" doesn't have a leadership holding public office in the United States, such people don't win elections in the United States.   What it has in lieu of a real, elected leadership are a class of scribblers and academics who write up a left and that class of scribblers have been thoroughly discredited this year.  They are augmented by and are the guest list of the few narrow and web-cast venues of that same left the Amy Goodmans and Cenk Uygars,  Add in the odd documentary maker and that's what the left has as a "leadership".  The writers who have realized, early and realistically how dangerous this election season has become and who have been published in the lefty venues have been weakened by the same venues publishing the most lavishly irresponsible and lunatic delusion which has enabled the weakening of the winner of the Democratic nomination process on the most unrealistic of all delusions, that either Bernie Sanders or the likes of Jill Stein had any chance of being elected over the Republican who would be the certain alternative.   I have no doubt that as this campaign continues those same magazines and webazines and blab-shows will continue to sponsor the same level of insane irresponsibility that they have, those writers are either on their staff or they are buddies with the editors and publishers of those magazines.   No less than FOX, the people who run the lefty media know that their existence depends on servicing their niche audience and they will provide it with what it wants, interestingly, when it comes to Hillary Clinton, they want the same thing.    Unlike FOX, they don't want an oligarchic-fascist in the White House though they have certainly proven themselves able to be ruled by that segment of their audience who are insane enough to claim there is no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

In this situation, I see some of the wisdom of democracy over the alternative, the elected leadership of the Democratic Party, with all its many warts and blemishes, is realistic about this situation whereas the unelected media-leaders of the "left-left" have failed the test of reality rather badly and over the course of the past fifty years.   The extent to which elected leaders have had to deal with the petty misinformation of the "left-left" media, it has, generally, been a mixed bag.  But it has often come with a real, political cost to those who have managed to do what the "left-left" doesn't do, gain more than the odd political office, here and there.

I have come to the conclusion that the media, in general, has lied the United States into the present center to insane right miasma we live in.  The media, freed by the "left-left" program of impunity for the media when it lies has, over the past half-century, filled the collective American mind with lies favorable to the profits of that media, its owners and the other members of its class.   There is no doubt that the very intellectual product of a media which has been given carte blanche to lie in the most seductive and entertaining ways has made an instance when Democrats hold effective leadership of the Presidency, the Congress and the Court a thing of the past, vanishing into the distant horizon behind us.   We have not had that in any secure way since the very year after the Supreme Court made that tragic decision in 1964, at the behest of the allegedly liberal media.

The fact that the left, the "left-left" its play-left faction and the REAL LEFT which has a chance of getting elected has to face is that for the foreseeable future, Hillary Clinton is almost certainly the most liberal person who can be elected as president of the United States.  Any other proposal is a delusion.  Real leftists, like Elizabeth Warren and, like it or not, Bernie Sanders have come round to facing that reality.   The lefty magazines, the webazines, the audience seeking broad and narrow casters of the "left-left" will not face that reality in a timely enough fashion for them to maintain their credibility with anyone who cares about reality.   This is the year they have proven themselves to be unreliable even in the face of impending fascism.   The real leadership of the real left are those who can manage to get elected with a majority of the votes even in the environment which the idiotic theories of the scribbling left have produced with the concurrence of the unelected elite of the Supreme Court.  And even some of them have come to understand how dangerous this year is.

I think the past half-century of American politics has been a test of the idea of "free press-free speech" absolutism and it has failed, abysmally.  It hasn't produced enhanced egalitarian democracy, it has produced an accelerating decline into fascism.   It has turned out that whoever said, "You will know the truth and the truth will make you free" was wiser than those who came up with the idea that freedom was compatible with lies freely told.  The fact is that "more speech" will not overcome a campaign of well-financed and media-magnified lies, certainly not a consistently and constantly repeated series of lies told in language and by people selected to make the selling of those lies easier.
You would have to be a writer or yackker with a bloated sense of your own power and ability to not have figured that out the first time the idea of "more speech" entered your self-aggrandizing fantasy.   Unfortunately, lots of such fantasists go into writing and the media and academia.   It's no wonder that a "left" which depends on them for its leadership is bound to go into a half-century and continuing wilderness journey that, unlike that which Moses led the Children of Israel on, hasn't proven to be an educational experience.  The leaders of the "left-left" haven't had to bear the hard lessons of privation, they are safely middle to upper class.  Is it any wonder that those members of the Democratic coalition who do live with those hard lessons have not gone with their choice this year?

Note: I was going to include anarchists in the lest of the "left-left" but it makes no sense for anarchists to hold a position on who gets elected or government or anything to do with elections or holding office.   Anarchism is probably the supreme example of "left-left" insanity and refusal to face the reality that someone is going to exercise power whenever that is up for grabs.  If that isn't determined democratically, the choice of an accurately informed and morally responsible electorate, it will be gangsters and criminals who do.   After listening to him and reading some of his babbling, I think they have a lot more in common with the lunatic, anti-democratic, billionaire, Trump supporter, Peter Thiel than they would ever want someone to notice.  I understand he was heavily influenced by René Girard's pseudo-scientific, soc-sci based academic nuttery and other such theory.  His strong-man fascist libertarian insanity is anarchy without the egalitarian-moral gloss coat it so often wears.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Arnold Schoenberg: A Survivor from Warsaw

Bamberger Symphoniker orchestra and chorus conducted by Horst Stein,
Hermann Prey, narrator

A Pill Won't, In The End, Cure A Problem Caused By The Disrespect And Commodification of People, Especially Women

If this works, of course it is a good idea to give teenagers who are sexually active a medical way to prevent getting HIV, taking into account the reality of what they are doing.   My question is if it isn't bound to fail, in the long run.   I also wonder if depending on it avoids working on other parts of the problem, which if unaddressed may lead to other and, possibly, worse problems.

Every night at 8 p.m., 18-year-old Catherine Msimango takes a pill.

It's the same pill that people with HIV take to fight the virus. Only she doesn't have HIV.

Msimango says the pill gives her power against the virus. She can take it even without her boyfriend knowing.

"It's all about my safety because I don't know what he does when I'm not around," she says. "If he doesn't want to use protection [a condom], I know that I'm safe from the pill."

Msimango lives in the sprawling South African township of Soweto in the heart of the HIV epidemic. South Africa has nearly 7 million people living with HIV, more than any other country in the world. And nearly 1 in 5 adults is infected. HIV rates are lower for adolescents but increase rapidly as teens move into their 20s.

Some AIDS experts now believe that one way to keep rates down is with a daily pill... 

... The novel prevention technique has proven highly effective in blocking the transmission of HIV in gay men and sex workers. Now it's being tried among sexually active teens.

Studies have shown that taking daily doses of the drugs offers an extremely high level of protection against HIV. If taken correctly and consistently the pill is nearly 100 percent effective in blocking transmission of the virus. Researchers call the technique pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

Those earlier studies were primarily with gay men. The study Msimango is in was launched last year with 150 sexually active teens between the ages of 15 and 19. Linda-Gail Bekker is the deputy director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town and one of the lead investigators on this pilot study.

"I think having [a form of HIV prevention] that a young woman can use discreetly and is in her absolute control is something we've been missing throughout this epidemic," Bekker says.

Being realistic about how people are having sex is essential in trying to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and there is no question that the fact is that even the existence of horrifically damaging diseases being contracted has not in the past or today kept people from engaging in sexual practices that spread them.

My question is if the virus won't, perhaps even more rapidly with increased promiscuity, evolve strains that are resistant to the drugs being used, now.  If that is what happens, this is, at best, a temporary fix.  Fixing the economic conditions described in the story, especially the commodification of people for sex, is still necessary and this kind of program shouldn't be used as an excuse to not work on that, though I fear it will be.

Sabelo Sekhukhuni, one of the counselors helping to run the PrEP program in Soweto, says the pressure on teenage girls in impoverished parts of South Africa to have sex is huge.

"When you look at an informal settlement where there isn't electricity, sex is a sport. Sex is an activity to keep themselves busy," he says.

Sex also at times is used as currency. Girls who have no money can be offered cell phones or new clothes by older men who want to sleep with them.

Just behind the hospital where the PrEP study is being conducted, says Sekhukhuni, there's a settlement of shacks where the people don't have electricity.

"So there's this one guy who owns a tavern and he has a generator and he makes people pay 5 rand to charge their cellphones," he says.

But he offers to charge girls' phones for free in exchange for sex. And some of the girls accept his offer.

In these types of relationships the tavern owner holds a lot of power in the community. He's got the generator. The man may be HIV positive and Sekhukhuni says he may refuse to use condoms.

"The same girls that sleep with this guy they'll go back and sleep with their peers of their same age group," he says. "Meaning [HIV] is still going to spread some more."

But Sekhukhuni says this is the beauty of PrEP. In these complex, messy, real-world sexual networks, PrEP may be able to protect these teenagers from the lifelong burden of HIV.

I don't, not for a second, believe this program should be stopped if it is keeping people, especially young people, from becoming infected but it is certainly not enough.  It should certainly be closely monitored.

But this doesn't touch the bigger problem that controlling the epidemic spread of HIV requires.  The media has certainly encouraged the idea that people are rightly seen as a commodity both in terms of labor and sex, especially young women and girls.   The media could encourage respect for other people and drive home the reality that using other people as if they are object isn't just entirely immoral, it is also dangerous to both the used and the user.

I have mentioned that one of the justified fears of general sexual promiscuity is that other, as or more deadly viruses and other organisms can evolve and arise just as HIV did four decades ago.  Even if they can use this regimen to put a significant dent in the pandemic of HIV invections, now, there is nothing to keep another sexually transmitted disease from arising.  The biological fact is that any act of sex which includes contact with semen, blood and other biological material carries a high potential of infection.   The story says that just encouraging the use of condoms has not been universally successful, though it is another means of preventing some infections.  The biggest problem is that men and boys often won't use them and they are often in a position to either force other men and women and, certainly, children into letting them have sex without condoms.   If men and boys didn't feel entitled to be selfish, irresponsible jerks, it would, as well, be another partially successful way to prevent the spread of STDs.  Today, entertainment media, especially when the topic is sex, tells them the exact opposite.  The role of the media in encouraging selfish, irresponsible behavior among men is among the biggest problems that anyone trying to fight the pandemic of HIV is up against.  It goes way beyond encouraging condom use, though that is certainly part of it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lou Harrison: Mass to St. Anthony (1939) Kyrie and Gloria

Mass to St. Anthony was begun when Hitler invaded Poland; a mass for voices and percussion expressing both outrage and hope.

Hate Mail - Muzak For Simples Only

Gee, if you're going to base judgement of musical quality on which albums have been #1 Jackie Gleason has to be high up there.  He had lots of #1 albums on Billboard, starting with Music for Lovers Only in 1953, I see from googling it that it stayed there a long, long time.  Of course that is if that's what you're basing your musical judgements on.  Me, I'd say it's strictly a commercial measure.

It's amazing how oozy it sounds in mono, even on the mp4.

Worth listening to just as a reminder of what that sound was like.  And also in case I ever forget why why I hate "My Funny Valentine" so much.  It is, actually, musically competent, achieving the effect it was done for.  Bobby Hackett was a fine musician.    I don't think I'd buy any of the top albums for any of the years I looked at to write this short piece but if it's what you like, it's not actually a moral issue.  It's not like they misrepresented the intentions of Beethoven or Brahms.

Update:  I don't have a TV and if I did the Republican Convention is the last thing I'd be watching.  And I don't drink, as you well know.   Well, you would if you weren't so self-absorbed that you don't remember anything.   I never played a drinking game, I could get drunk but I couldn't be bored.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Luigi Dallapiccola - Canti di Prigionia (Songs of Prisoners) (1938/1941)

1. The prayer of Mary Stuart
2. Invocation of Boethius
3. Congedo of Girolamo Savanarola (commentary on the Psalm In You O God I Hope)

New London Chamber Choir diretto da James Wood
Ensemble InterContemporain diretto da Hans Zender.

Canti di Prigionia, for instance, which he set to texts about imprisonment from different ages – a prayer of Mary Stuart, Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy and Savonarola’s Meditation on the Psalm ‘My Hope Is In Thee, O Lord’ – was his musical response to Mussolini’s anti-Jewish legislation. Composed in 1938-41, the first canto premiered on Brussels Radio in 1940, weeks before the Nazi invasion of Belgium.

Update:  More from the link.

After the war and the fall of Fascism, Dallapiccola’s music still did not find its place in Italian culture. In the politically polarized late 1940’s and early 50’s, as the Communists and Christian Democrats were competing in both their political and cultural visions for the country’s future, Dallapiccola refused any party affiliation and found himself isolated once again.

A case in point was the critical reaction to the premiere of Il Prigioniero, performed in Florence in 1950. An allegorical work that could have never been performed during Fascism because of its transparent anti-oppression symbolism, it was met with deep suspicion by some of the critics on either side of the new ideological divide.

The subject was an unnamed totalitarian state, but was it Fascism? Was it Communism? Or was it literally a critique of the Church and the Inquisition? While Communist critics feared it could be read as a criticism of Stalinist Soviet Union, Catholics were disturbed by the possible negative implications on the Church itself as an institution.

These reactions to Il Prigioniero were proof of the ideological projections an allegorical work of art can trigger.

Much as his earlier works were stifled by Fascism, Dallapiccola’s masterpiece ended up as collateral damage of clashing post war ideologies trumping artistic expression. Dallapiccola did not hide his disillusionment with the cultural climate that dominated post-war Italy, and began looking for professional opportunities abroad. None of his post 1950 compositions, except for one, had their premiere in Italy.

Hate Mail - Long Yawn

It is more than a little bit ironic that Duncan's Dimwits at Eschaton are discussing something I never said - on the say so of serial liar and troll Steve Simels - on a discussion thread where they're discussing Mrs. Trump's plagiarism and the lies that the Trump campaign are telling about it. Especially the lie that Hillary Clinton, who I believe has said nothing about it and wasn't even the one whose words were stolen, is to blame for the whole thing. 

I don't find Eschaton especially interesting except as just another example of how an inbred, ever decreasing, self-chosen "community" online can devolve into a tight little black hole of inter-self-confirming people who agree with each other and admire each other for their self-confirming, self-reinforcing similarities.  

Weren't we warned that such a thing might be a result of people being able to choose what they heard as opposed to being exposed to outside points of view?  

The funniest thing I found in it was the snark about my habit of trying to find out what I'm talking about before I said it.  Not much of a danger of that happening to the dolts at Duncan's.  At this point they're just all too common specimens of what's wrong with self-confirmation and how it's a problem with those who don't particularly care to look at their own bias critically.   

Update:  Well, that was fast for someone who isn't reading what I write.  I think it's funny that of those I know, one passes himself off as some kind of retired big-time science-guy while the others I know are on the ass-end of the wreck the humanities was allowed to devolve into, all of them having been to college.  As I've said before, this is what happens when they drop the required rigorous course in Frosh Rhetoric from the college curriculum.   That sad trend didn't get to my land-grant university as fast as it was adopted at places like Corn Flakes U, apparently.   I can only wonder what Stefan Wolpe thought of the American students he encountered there. 

The Republicans Reaping What They've Sown

If you think that "Reichskirche" reference below was over the top, someone sent me this:

If the first day of the real, live, in-person convention was awful, it was nothing compared to the “virtual” convention that the RNC had to dial back on Monday, too. The problem? It turned out that having a live chat stream was a bad idea when a large number of neo-Nazis happen to support your presidential candidate.

“You can live stream the Republican National Convention on the RNC’s official YouTube page, but you can’t chat about it live anymore,” Raw Story reports. “Why, you ask? Because the Republicans have now disabled the live chat window on the page after it got overrun by anti-Semitic Trump supporters. As former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle gave a speech promoting inroads that Republicans have made with Jewish voters, as well as ripping the Democrats for allegedly being more hostile to Israel, Trump’s alt-right followers flooded the page with anti-Semitic vitriol.”

Arnold Schoenberg - Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte, Op. 41 (1942)

Reciter: David Wilson-Johnson
Piano: Jeremy Denk
Conductor: Robert Craft
Fred Sherry String Quartet

Text: Ode to Napoleon by Lord Byron

How far we've come down from Byron's belief in George Washington, "The Cincinnatus of the West" and American democracy.   You can only wonder what he'd make of the vulgar, Atlantic casino,. reality TV emperor, Donald Trump.

Donald Trump Is The Real Green Party Candidate

Since there is absolutely no chance that Jill Stein will be president, her entire campaign is a fraud.  

Her slogan should be "Trump for President" because that's what "Jill Stein for President" really means. 

The Horrifying Reality That Hitler's Reichskirche Survived the Fall of the Third Reich And Learned To Speak English

This year is as much a showdown for the evangelical movement's commitment to their professed faith and the hypocrisy of its Republican-fascist, state religion reality.  Jesus said that you cannot serve both God and Mammon and Donald Trump embodies Mammon.  Really, the Republican Party does and has for at least a hundred fifty-one years but it has never been quite as blatant as it is now that its nominee is Donald Trump.

That kid looks to me like he's had North Korean level programming, it's horrifying.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Luigi Dallapiccola - Volo di Notte - Vol de Nuit

Isabelle Vernet, soprano (Madame Fabien)
Hélène Le Corre, soprano (Une voix intérieure)
François Le Roux, baryton (Rivière)
Jérôme Corréas, baryton-basse (Robineau)
Yann Beuron, ténor (Pellerin)
Guy Gabelle, ténor (radio operator)
Jean-Marc Salzmann, baryton (Leroux)
Daniel Durand, Pierre Vaello, Patrick Radelet,
Bernard Polisset, ténors, basses (four employees)

Choeur de Radio France
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France directed by Marek Janowski.

This week I find I'm in the mood to listen to works written in opposition to fascism.  Dallapiccola wrote the libretto based on the book Vol de Nuit by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. examining the violation of individual life and rights in favor of profit and industrial efficiency.  He managed to have it mounted in 1940 Fascist Italy, I wonder if a similar work composed in Trump America would be produced.  I doubt it would get on NPR or PBS, certainly not on the networks.

Here is a synopsis of the opera,  I can't find a translation in French or English from Dallapiccola's original Italian.  Here is an article about the opera and its composition.

The Green Gasbags Are Using Bernie Sanders To Get Attention For Themselves Now

I asked my union organizer cousin what he thought of the Bernie Sanders delegation's plans to have a Saul Alinsky style "fart-in" during Hillary Clinton's speech to the Democratic Convention, he said that for all the fame and reputation he has, Saul Alinsky was a jerk who knew nothing about much except getting attention for himself and his associates.  He'd read him during his time as an organizer and he found little to nothing that has been useful in his work as a union organizer or in politics.  He also has held elected office on the state and local levels and has organized in that area as well.

Apparently the idea is the brain-fart of one Cheri Honkala, a local lefty personality in Philadelphia who was also one of Jill Stein's running mates, another Green Party fraud and con jobber but it's one which some, though, I can imagine or, at least, hope that most Sanders delegates won't participate in.I didn't remember Honkala, not even as a hostile student of the Green Party fraud so you can see how much of an impact she's made.  From what I've read she's no great shakes at real organizing, either, doing stunts that get her attention but which don't do much to organize anyone or do any real and permanent good for people.  There really should be a name for such local lefties who are mostly about their own cult status, perhaps they should be called "Hokalas".  Though they're not uncommon in towns big enough to form such a cult.  Oh, and in the typical Green tradition, she managed to come in third in a race for Sheriff of Philadelphia, her big campaign stunt was to ride a horse in the streets while wearing a white hat.  I'm sure that run the previous year was what catapulted her into prominence among the mighty pathetic handful which is the Green Party.

One of the other leaders in the fart-in plan is an actual Sanders delegate, former Philadelphia health commissioner Dr. Walter H. Tsou, who I was unsurprised to find out teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. Or as I will always think of it now, PU.  Which is not a branch of the public state university but a private university, sometimes regarded as the most minor of the minor Ivy League schools that most people don't remember are Ivys.

I can easily imagine the most enthusiastic of the Bernie or Busters I heard at my town's caucus would think this was a really neat thing, considering what assholes some of them were at the caucus, it's not surprising what comes out of some of them, the ones who rush forward and grab the mic and get attention for themselves by trying to be the most outrageous.

As much as Bernie Sanders has been a jerk this spring and into the summer, I think that he deserves better than to be associated with something so childish, so stupid, so counterproductive, the idea of the most self-seeking attention-getters on the most juvenile, asshole end of the play-left.

Considering how much this sounds like something issuing from the lower regions of the Trump campaign, and in that case, it could come from the candidate, himself, the only people who are discredited by it are the self-centered jerks who do it.

Hate Mail - Go, West. Just Go.

"What do you have to say about Cornell West endorsing Jill Stein?"

Ah, you ask, I'd imagine because he's a theologian and a minister. 

I think anyone who is not supporting the one and only person other than Donald Trump who will be sworn in as president in January has permanently removed themselves from consideration as anyone who should ever be listened to or taken seriously from now on. 
This election has the potential to be the death of any aspirations of democracy in the United States.  And that is an enormous deal.  If it fails here, it's got no chance.

He's hardly alone on that list, you can add most of the people who run magazines and many websites of the alleged left in that list.  As I'm typing this organs of the lefty media from the highest, such as The Nation to the lower dregs of Salon are writing guaranteed Hillary hater click bait.   John Nichols is another person I now include on that list with his carping over the now settled platform.  The only way to make the platform of less importance than it is would be for Hillary Clinton to lose the election.  TO TRUMP - PENCE.

This is the election when I can say, for the first time, if you're looking for how the left failed, look at who was leading them into failure for the past half century.   Cornel West is one of the few figures in encouraging that who is not an atheist or, as they say,  a"secularist" but I'd never claim that atheists have a monopoly on ego-enhancing lunacy.  Certainly not after seeing what Cornel has done this year. I think he has gone from being a responsible religious figure into being a self-centered megalomaniac.  What he's done is repulsively irresponsible.  

I'd ask Bernie Sanders what he thinks of it but only because the answer would tell us something about Bernie Sanders, only I think the faster he fades into the background, the better.  He waited way too long to endorse Hillary Clinton, encouraging the Bernie or Busters and the "Losing is Winning" play-left for me to take him seriously, anymore. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Carla Bley - La Leçon Française

I just read that Carla Bley's most recent long-form work, an oratorio for boy's choir and big band, La Leçon Française, has, perhaps, been performed again and, perhaps, FINALLY, been recorded.  Until now this is the only part of it I'd heard.  The performers are The Choral Academy of Dortmund and the Bohuslän Big Band with Carla Bley conducting and on piano and Steve Swallow on bass.

Here's a longer description of the piece and the plans to record it.

It's awful that one of our major composers has significant pieces that have gone unrecorded.

Hate Mail

"If God exists, why doesn't he just tell us he does?"

I don't know.  God didn't tell me.  But I can think of one good reason.  If we knew, beyond any doubt, that God existed and what God wanted us to do but then we didn't do that then we would be more absolutely guilty of disobeying God than we can be since we always have the excuse of ignorance or uncertainty.   We would be as absolutely guilty of transgression as the story of Lucifer and the fallen angels in Genesis if we had as absolute a knowledge of God as they're presented as having.  And notice, in that strain of fable, people don't transgress until one of those fallen creatures preys on the ignorance, or innocence, of the two first people - something of a second try at making independent, intelligent, articulate beings.   Whatever else could be said of the man and woman in the fable, they aren't exactly creatures of light, I mean, they get duped by a talking snake, the first Trumpian snake oil salesman.

If they knew, absolutely, their guilt would be absolute instead of mitigated by their ignorance, or innocence.  If people are able to figure out that a state of unknowing excuses the one who is ignorant through their inability to know their guilt, I'd imagine that's a way in which we might be held to be made in the image, or reflection of God.  But, then, I am a universalist by both insight an preference, much to the dismay of both the lovers of retribution and atheists.

Given how annoying the fan boys of the gods of atheism can be, parroting such Brights™ as George Carlin and, Bill Maher and, heaven help us, Penn Jillette, I can imagine lots of us would have a lot of trouble establishing an independent identity if God manifested herself to us, directly.  I suspect that establishing an independent identity is one of the purposes of life and I fully believe that having inalienable rights and a moral obligation to respect those rights in other people is intimately connected to that purpose of life.  It's something that even the simplest of beings whose behavior we are able to observe seem, to me at least, to have,  an awareness of the more primitive aspects of individuality, though a sense of moral obligation would seem to develop quite late and our species certainly hasn't gotten the hang of that.  Some of us seem to have about the same idea of both of those not much developed from what can be seen in some single-celled organisms.  But I don't want to make this about Donald Trump.   Or Penn Jillette.

If your question is a problem for religion, there is a far bigger problem of ignorance in some of the assertions of most modern atheists I know of, the question of how, by random, chance occurrences, we can trust our perceptions and ideas of the universe that have nothing to do with our survival and reproduction, the means through which natural selection is alleged to have produced consciousness and intelligence, giving us real, as opposed to illusory, knowledge of the universe.   It is far easier to explain how those are an endowment of our Creator and to make logical conclusions leading to the idea that human beings perceptions and ideas can actually reflect the universe, that our minds can be made to hold the image of the universe than it is to explain how any materialistic explanation of that could produce reliable, accurate knowledge of the universe unrelated to what we need to survive to reproduce.  Given the choice between the two ideas, I think anyone who goes for your preferred explanation has a lot more explaining to do than I do.