tom moody

Archive for September, 2017

angela nagle, simon reynolds on rightwing transgression (but what about bullying by the left?)

My years on dump.fm (from which I'm still recovering) saw a constant meme-play tug-of-war between left and right attitudes. Which was better, to shock the left or to be the left?

That question comes up (not in those exact words) in Simon Reynolds' post today discussing Angela Nagle's book Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right (alt-right is a Clinton term but we'll let it go since everyone seems to think they know what it means). (FYI, Nagle discusses ideas similar to those in her book in a recent Baffler essay.)

Reynolds notes that Nagle references his 1995 book The Sex Revolts (co-authored with Joy Press). Here's what he has to say today about that book and how it relates to the current situation:

Nagle references The Sex Revolts a couple of times during her thesis. That book is a bit of an orphan in the oeuvre, indeed there have been quite long periods when I've completely forgotten that Joy and I ever wrote it. While I can't quite reconstruct the head that came up with the over-arching thesis on which the thing is scaffolded and which I'm not certain stands up anymore (that was the peak / swan-song of my infatuation with French theory), whenever I've looked back at a specific portion or patch of it - the stuff on grunge, or Siouxsie, or the whole section on psychedelia - it still seems on the money.

Probably the sharpest part is the stuff that relates to Nagle's book, which is the early chapter dissecting the masculinism of all the immediate precursors to rock rebellion - the Beats, the Angry Young Men, James Dean, Ken Kesey, et al - during which we bring up "Momism", a concept coined by Philip Wiley in his 1942 book Generation of Vipers. Wylie identified a form of new American decadence in the growth of consumerism, mass media entertainment like radio, and suburbia, which he linked to matriarchy and domesticity: American virility, the frontier style of rugged martial masculinity on which the nation was founded, was being smothered by over-mothering, comfort and niceness. The Sex Revolts mentions Robert Bly's Iron Man as a modern-day, therapeutically tinged and New Age-y resurgence of the Momism critique, a sort of Jung Thug manifesto. But, published in 1995, our book was a year too early for Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club: angry young men reacting against metrosexual consumerism and sensitivity, a creeping decadence weakening from within.

Fight Club was the book that coined the term "snowflake," and the novel has proved to be a prophetic parable. The ugly contorted face of anti-Momism today is the paranoid impatience with political correctness, safe spaces, trigger warning -- the new proprieties that are felt as intolerable constraints, restrictions on the male right to spite. Underlying it all is the crisis of masculinity that doesn't know what its for anymore, in a demilitarized and post-industrial era. Hence the fixation on guns, on rapacious extraction industries like coal and the removal of protections for Mother Earth, on macho posturing foreign policy - surrogates and displacements for an eroding and increasingly irrelevant style of manhood.

Left-bullying has also grown increasingly macho -- from the virtual stoning of Ryder Ripps a few years ago to the nazi-punching video craze -- but it will be a while before a book is written about that. It's too complicated. Angela Nagle sort-of-covers it in Kill the Normies -- as Reynolds notes, its thesis "asserts that there is a commonality of psychology in the desire-to-shock, whether manifested on the far right or far left of the political-cultural spectrum." But the nazi-punchers and the Ripps mobbers aren't out to shock. They think they are noble. The shock Nagle is talking about is old-left transgression against the Man -- beatniks not bathing, etc. -- which morphed in the late '70s punk era into "Nuke the Whales" events, the patrician humor of P. J. O'Rourke and other jokes at the expense of left-pieties. 4Chan is a slightly nastier version of that. (The first time I heard the phrase "politically correct" was in the late '80s -- Reverend Ivan Stang of the Church of the Subgenius found both the left and the right insufferable and used that phrase to chide the idea of "off limits" humor.)

- tom moody

September 21st, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Posted in around the web, books

color study (buckyball)

color_study_a_buckyball

acrylic on canvas, transparency, color Xerox, scanner, Linux MyPaint, GNU Image Manipulation Program, Chibi Paint

- tom moody

September 19th, 2017 at 6:51 pm

left reactions to Clinton's book of blame; end of "Trump insurgency"

Reviews from the left side of the dial of Hillary Clinton's book Wha' Happened? have not been kind.

Jeffrey St. Clair:

What Happened is a sordid book, petulant and spiteful. It made me feel queasy and dirty while reading it, like the whole 25-year-long experience of Clintonism itself. By the end, I got the sense that its sleazy torrent of invective and blame-mongering was more an attempt to console the frail psyche of the author rather than to repair her shattered image to any readership the book might find. In the years to come, What Happened will prove much more valuable as documentary evidence for psycho-historians than political scientists.

Paul Street:

Wow. This is the thanks that the Hillary Clinton has for Sanders’ energetic and self-effacing efforts to save her sorry, vapid, sold-out, and uninspiring political career. After everything Bernie did for her, after all the exhausting campaign stops he made for her, she still has the sneering sociopathic audacity to lay her abject failure partly at Sanders’ feet. [italics Street's --tm]

Caitlin Johnstone (a Green voter) doesn't actually review the book but contributes a fine, foul-mouthed rant:

As we all know, nobody actually wants Hillary Clinton to keep talking. Nobody, if they’re really honest with themselves, wants her to keep coming back, smearing Bernie Sanders, shitting on progressives, and blaming every living vertebrate not named Hillary Rodham Clinton for her loss in the 2016 election. Even her most ardent supporters are secretly wishing she’d just shut the fuck up and go away at this point so they could stop cleaning up after her and working overtime to spin her bullshit into something vaguely positive.

So why doesn’t she? Why does she keep coming back in, doing interviews, attacking the left, embarrassing her supporters and relitigating a primary election she’d do well to let the world forget? I think I know why.

Johnstone thinks that, having demonized Trump beyond all bounds of civilized imagination during the campaign, Clinton has to keep up the drumbeat now:

In opting for this risky gamble of telling Democrats that something uniquely horrible would happen if Trump won, and then losing, Hillary Clinton was forced into a position where she had to either (A) tell America that everything was going to be okay, thereby admitting that much of what her people had been saying about Trump was a lie, or (B) let the fear persist and try to avoid getting blamed for it. She opted for B.

That seems a bit baroque but this part of Johnstone's rant has the ring of truth:

America was spoonfed a boatload of lies in order to force the election of what the US oligarchs perceived as a more reliable pro-establishment candidate to protect their assets... [Yet] after all the fearmongering and freakouts, we’ve seen conclusively that Trump is essentially a Republican Obama, who was himself essentially a Democratic George W. Bush...

It's too early to say what Trump might have in store for us but he certainly seems to have been brought to heel by the military. The few anti-interventionist noises he made in the campaign will soon be a distant memory.

- tom moody

September 19th, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Posted in around the web, books

small mill

small_mill_500w

acrylic, ink, and gouache on paper; polaroid; scanner; GNU image manipulation program

- tom moody

September 17th, 2017 at 7:53 am

harvard study: americans rely on the mainstream media to tell them whether a politician is honest

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University has published a study analyzing the role of right wing activists in shaping narratives picked up by the mainstream media in the 2016 election. One of these was the Clinton Foundation corruption story. From the Chapter "Dynamics of Network Propaganda: Clinton Foundation Case Study":

The critical lesson of this chapter of the Clinton Foundation story is that the manipulation was not a result of Facebook fake news or of the fragmentation of public discourse. Precisely because the majority of Americans do not get their news from Facebook or from the right-wing media ecosystem, it was necessary for the actors on the right -- Bannon and Schweitzer through GAI, Breitbart, Fox, the Daily Caller, and Judicial Watch -- to frame a story that was attractive enough for mainstream media to cover, and to cause mainstream voters to doubt Hillary Clinton’s integrity. There simply are not enough voters who get their news largely from the right-wing media ecosystem to win an election. Right-wing media must harness broader parts of the ecosystem to achieve their strategic goals. In this case, they kept the story alive with several distinct media “hits”—the release of a book while offering careful “exclusive” access to major newspapers; a film; multiple releases of email dumps; and responses by political actors to these media events (from the congressional representatives’ letter to the IRS to Donald Trump’s public statements). Right-wing media succeeded in pushing the Clinton Foundation to the front of the public agenda precisely at the moment when Clinton would have been anticipated to (and indeed did) receive her biggest bounce in the polls: immediately after the Democratic convention.

Two major assumptions are made in the Harvard Study: (i) that Hillary Clinton is an honest person and (ii) "narratives" regarding her dishonesty emanated only from the right wing. Yet one doesn't have to be a rabid partisan to be offended by the Clintons' cash haul from speaking fees and supposed charitable donations. Many on the left were repulsed by the scale of the solicitation and it was a factor driving support for Bernie Sanders. Also, many Americans remembered the weasel words Clinton used to justify her Iraq War vote, both at the time of the vote and after the failure of the invasion. The Berkman Klein Center assumes "mainstream voters" must read something in the Washington Post to believe it; they can't suss it out for themselves. "Out of touch elite" doesn't begin to describe the authors of the study. At the same time, the authors seem incapable of making a moral judgment as straightforward as "$250,000 speaking fees = political access = corruption."

- tom moody

September 14th, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Posted in around the web

fred willard and the HRC book of excuses

The indefatigable Hillary Clinton wrote a book! 512 pages of excuses for her election failure -- should be a fun read.
You might not know she was a fan of the movie A Mighty Wind, but in any case, here's Fred Willard with the title for her book: [YouTube clip]

(Fred explains the book title and other catchphrases: [slightly longer YouTube clip])

- tom moody

September 14th, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Posted in around the web

travel photo (bus station)

kentucky_bus_station

- tom moody

September 13th, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Posted in photos - cell

travel photo (Kentucky hill)

kentucky_hill

- tom moody

September 13th, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Posted in photos - cell

travel photo (smoke break)

smoke_break_2

- tom moody

September 13th, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Posted in photos - cell

molecule fling

molecule_fling2_650

acrylic on paper, linen tape, polaroid, scanner, GNU image manipulation program

- tom moody

September 4th, 2017 at 2:20 pm