Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Spend time with me
and soon you'll see
that our moments together
stay with us forever
- Anonymous

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Philosophy: A Dogs Life?

Francis Bacon, "Painting of a Dog" (1952)
Francis Bacon, "Untitled (dog)" (~1967)
Uncompromising love, even a dog punished returns to lick the fingers of its master.
"Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit."
Eyes that look beyond the faults of those who love it,
"In the final analysis, love is the only reflection of man's worth."
Always eager to greet us, and anxious to go along,
"We are each of us angels with only one wing. We can only fly while embracing each other.'
Leading the blind and the disabled gracefully,
"The soul that can speak with its eyes can also kiss with a gaze."
Warning of dangers nearby, ever watchful of all approaching,
"A barking dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion."
- Artis (~2008)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Primal Nudity

The catalyst
that allowed chaos
to be on the verge
of the gate
entering our world
was foreign
yet underneath our own clothes.
- Hannah M Hendrickson, "Nudity"

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Last Night on Earth

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life - that in me has rest,
As I - undying Life - have power in thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.

Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And thou were left alone,
Every existence would exist in thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou - thou art Being and Breath,
And what thou art may never be destroyed.
- Emily Brontë, "Last Lines"

Friday, September 18, 2015

Afterlife Blues

I imagined the atmosphere would be clear,
shot with pristine light,
not this sulphurous haze,
the air ionized as before a thunderstorm.

Many have pictured a river here,
but no one mentioned all the boats,
their benches crowded with naked passengers,
each bent over a writing tablet.

I knew I would not always be a child
with a model train and a model tunnel,
and I knew I would not live forever,
jumping all day through the hoop of myself.

I had heard about the journey to the other side
and the clink of the final coin
in the leather purse of the man holding the oar,
but how could anyone have guessed

that as soon as we arrived
we would be asked to describe this place
and to include as much detail as possible—
not just the water, he insists,

rather the oily, fathomless, rat-happy water,
not simply the shackles, but the rusty,
iron, ankle-shredding shackles—
and that our next assignment would be

to jot down, off the tops of our heads,
our thoughts and feelings about being dead,
not really an assignment,
the man rotating the oar keeps telling us—

think of it more as an exercise, he groans,
think of writing as a process,
a never-ending, infernal process,
and now the boats have become jammed together,

bow against stern, stern locked to bow,
and not a thing is moving, only our diligent pens.
- Billy Collins, "Writing in the Afterlife"

Monday, September 14, 2015

Salvador Dali, "Lincoln in Dalivision" (1976)

from Wikipedia
Dalí's paintings Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko), and the original Lincoln in Dalivision lithographs produced from these paintings were some of the first examples of the photomosaic artistic approach by a recognized artist. "The Recognition of Faces," by Leon Harmon (Scientific American, November 1973) was the first published work on photomosaic concepts. Harmon was a Bell Labs researcher who had been developing this concept, and the first image in this article was the well recognized portrait of Abraham Lincoln from the U.S. five dollar bill made from a collection of solid gray mosaics.[9] Dalí began his first painting that led to Lincoln in Dalivision in 1974 and finished the version that would be used for Lincoln in Dalivision in 1976. Harmon's Lincoln mosaic was the basis for all of Dalí's Lincoln photomosaics, which is evident by comparing the solid gray mosaics from Harmon's paper and the final works of art by Dalí.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Melancholia's Anniversary

It's a Mahdi, Mahdi, Madhi, Mahdi World...

I am all pain yet there is no relief
In this darkness, where is light?
falling apart from grief, alone and abandoned
where is my tower of strength in life?
I ran from Chakhmaleh to Ghom
to see you Mahdi with no success
The mullah of the town said, I must have not been worthy
Said, maybe you talked to me but I didn't hear
Maybe because I am full of sin and transgressions Mahdi
I am quite unhappy with myself Mahdi
Where are you that I may wash your feet with my tears
My passion is meeting you and I wait for your resurrection
Sir, let me tell you something with all my heart
Its six months that I have not been paid my monthly salary
You that runs the whole affairs of the world
Maybe throw a half glance our way too, your devotee
No straight is left in my legs holly sir
I am awake all night thinking of my predicament
My daughter, your servant, her wedding is coming up
maybe somebody can take her hand, so she can live in more comfort
All our hopes rests on you sir
don't let me be embarrassed in front of my family
It counts for nothing that I am a father of a [Iran/Iraq war] martyr
I saw no benefits from the "Maryr Organization"
That sin should be counted for those who say
who say those same people [who run the Organization] are like bandits
But I know nothing of politics
at the end some people come and some people go
But we stay the same poor schmuck that we were before
dear sir, please you make our prayers come true
Mahdi, you have made a fool of us
we plead to you, call on you so often
but you don't give us a helping hand, you don't hear this prayer
Mahdi, how long should we call on God?

Visiting you also belongs to those who in your name
buy and sell hundreds like me
Generation after generation we have been Schmucks
In the news we live but in the census we are dead
when your hands are empty [when poor] you are a vagabond
They have sucked our marrow dry, where are you Mahdi?
A hungry stomach can't raise its voice
you are in the well [Chamkaran well, near Ghom, said to be Mahdi's temporary's living quarters till his resurrection] and you know nothing of where we are at
the pressures from these American Sanctions
is it for anyone other than those like me oh holy one?
Everything is futile and aimless except subsidies [refers to a plan to direct basic subsidies based on income]
and that has also specified based on some plan or politics
that those like me can't get their heads around it
when would ever our intellect be able to comprehend the holy government? [government run by God's representative on earth as it is portrayed currently]
I swear to you dear sir, I am tired of living
Just take this life and bring me comfort for God's sake
one time we are somebody's impoverished
and we are given promises of water and energy and a house [Khomeini's now famouse promiss of free amenities upon IRA's success after revolution of 79]
Another time we have to go to war and die
[based on the] the bullshit of "Karbalah we are coming" [Khomeini's edict that the war with Iraq will not end till the city of Karballah in Iraq is taken by Iranian forces]
Eight years of living with false progress
with brats [of government officials] living in Dubai, London and Hawaii
Eight years we joked about it and lived with it
Then July 3, 09 [came around] and the [university] student martyrs
the gulf with its oil that's no longer ours
we are now children, abandoned orphaned children
What ever earth covers the grave of the Great Koroush
May it be a blessing to your long life, when will you come back?

There is a lump in our throat from sorrow Mahdi
you are not there or you have closed your eyes Mahdi
Mahdi, you have made a fool of us
we plead to you, call on you so often
but you don't give us a helping hand, you don't hear this prayer
Mahdi, how much longer should we call on God ....

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Price of Choice

“I won't tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world's voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!”
― Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reflections in the Mirror

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful ‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
Sylvia Plath, "Mirror"

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Give us this day
visions of mountains
symbol of strength
forever seeing
mixed with truth
- Deborah Brooks Langford, "Childlike" (2014)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Missing Centers?

Slavoj Žižek: Ayn Rand’s Tea Party lie — Now we know who John Galt is
How long will Tea Party base stick to basic irrationality of protecting working people by protecting the 1 percent?

This paradox was rendered palpable in the autumn 2013 shutdown of the U.S. state apparatus. What was this shutdown really about?

In the middle of April 2009, I was taking a rest in a hotel room in Syracuse, N.Y., jumping between two channels: a PBS documentary on Pete Seeger, the great American country singer of the Left, and a Fox News report on the anti-tax “Tea Party” in Austin, Texas, in which another country singer performed an anti-Obama populist song full of complaints about how Washington is taxing hard-working ordinary people to finance rich Wall Street financiers. There was a weird similarity between the two singers: both formulated an anti-establishment populist complaint against the exploitative rich and the state, calling for radical measures including civil disobedience.

All of which is another painful reminder that, at least with regard to the form of organization, today’s radical-populist Right strangely reminds us of the old radical-populist Left. Are today’s Christian survivalist-fundamentalist groups, with their half-legal status and seeing the main threat to their freedom in the oppressive state apparatus, not organized like the Black Panthers in the 1960s? In both cases, we have a militarized group getting ready for the final battle. How long will this masterful ideological manipulation continue to work? How long will the base of the Tea Party stick to the fundamental irrationality of its agenda to protect the interest of the hard-working ordinary people by privileging the “exploitative rich” and thereby literally countering their own interests?

Some of us remember the old infamous Communist tirades against the bourgeois “formal” freedom—ridiculous as they are, there is an element of truth in this distinction between “formal” and “actual” freedom. A manager in a company in crisis has the “freedom” to fire worker A or B, but not the freedom to change the situation which imposes on him this choice. The moment we approach the U.S. healthcare debate in this way, the “freedom to choose” appears in a different way. True, a large part of the population will be effectively delivered of the dubious “freedom” to worry about who will cover their illness, to find a way through the intricate network of financial and other decisions. Being able to take basic healthcare for granted, to count on it like one counts on a water supply without worrying about having to choose the water company, people will simply gain more time and energy to dedicate to other things.

The lesson to be learned is that freedom of choice is something which actually functions only if a complex network of legal, educational, ethical, economic and other conditions exists as the invisible thick background of the exercise of our freedom. This is why, as an antidote to the ideology of choice, countries like Norway should be held as a model: although all main agents respect a basic social agreement and large social projects are enacted in solidarity, social productivity and dynamics are at an extraordinary level, flatly denying the common wisdom that such a society should be stagnating.

Not many people know—and even fewer appreciate the irony of the fact—that “My Way,” Frank Sinatra’s iconic song that supposedly expresses American individualism, is an Americanized version of the French song “Comme d’habitude,” which means “as usual,” or “as is customary.” It is all to easy to see this couple—the French original and its American version—as yet another example of the opposition between sterile French manners and American inventiveness (the French follow established customs, while Americans look for new solutions)—but what if we drop the false appearance of opposition and discern in the habit of “comme d’habitude” the hidden sad truth of the much-praised search for new ways? In order to be able to do it “my Way,” each of us has to rely on quite a lot of things going on comme d’habitude. Quite a lot of things, in other words, have to be regulated if we are to enjoy our non-regulated freedom.

One of the weird consequences of the 2008 financial meltdown and the measures taken to counteract it (enormous sums of money to help banks) was the revival of the work of Ayn Rand, the fullest ideological expression of radical “greed is good” capitalism: the sales of her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged exploded. According to some, there are already signs that the scenario described in Atlas Shrugged—the “creative capitalists” themselves going on strike—is now being enacted. Yet this reaction almost totally misreads the situation: most of the gigantic sums of bail-out money went precisely to those deregulated Randian “titans” who failed in their “creative” schemes and in doing so brought about the meltdown. It is not the great creative geniuses who are now helping lazy ordinary people; rather, it is the ordinary taxpayers who are helping the failed “creative geniuses.” One should simply recall that the ideologico-political father of the long economic process which ended up in the 2008 meltdown was Alan Greenspan, a card-carrying Randian “objectivist.” So now we finally know who John Galt is—the idiot responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown and, consequentially, for the threat of the shutdown of state apparatuses.

In order truly to awaken from the Randian capitalist “dogmatic dream” (as Kant would have put it), we should apply to our situation Brecht’s quip from the Beggar’s Opera: “What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?” What is the stealing of a couple of thousand dollars, for which one goes to prison, compared to financial speculations which deprive tens of millions of their homes and savings, and are then rewarded by state help of sublime grandeur? Maybe José Saramago was right when he proposed treating the big bank managers and others responsible for the meltdown as perpetrators of crimes against humanity, whose place is in the Hague Tribunal; maybe one should not treat this proposal just as a poetic exaggeration in the style of Jonathan Swift, but take it seriously. This, however, will never happen since, after the doctrine of the bank too big to indict (since, one can argue, its indictment would have catastrophic consequences for the financial and moral status of the ruling elites).

These elites, the main culprits for the 2008 financial meltdown, now impose themselves as experts, the only ones who can lead us on the painful path of financial recovery, and whose advice should therefore trump parliamentary politics, or, as Mario Monti put it: “Those who govern must not allow themselves to be completely bound by parliamentarians.” What, then, is this higher force whose authority can suspend the decisions of the democratically elected representatives of the people? The answer was provided back in 1998 by Hans Tietmeyer, then governor of the Deutsches Bundesbank, who praised national governments for preferring “the permanent plebiscite of global markets” to the “plebiscite of the ballot box.” Note the democratic rhetoric of this obscene statement: global markets are more democratic than parliamentary elections since the process of voting goes on in them permanently (and is permanently reflected in market fluctuations) and at a global level—not only every four years, and within the confines of a nation-state. The underlying idea is that, freed from this higher control of markets (and experts), parliamentary-democratic decisions are “irresponsible.”


What is new today is that, with the continuing crisis which began in 2008, this same distrust of democracy—once confined to the Third World or post-Communist developing countries—is gaining ground in developed Western countries themselves: what was a decade or two ago patronizing advice to others now concerns ourselves. But what if this distrust is justified? What if only experts can save us, with full or less-than-full democracy?

The least one can say is that the current crisis offers many proofs of how it is not the people but the experts themselves who, in large part, don’t know what they are doing. In Western Europe, we are effectively witnessing a growing incapability of the ruling elite—they know less and less how to rule. Look at how Europe is dealing with the Greek crisis: putting pressure on Greece to repay debts, but at the same time ruining its economy through imposed austerity measures and thereby ensuring the Greek debt will never be repaid. At the end of December 2012, the IMF itself released research showing that the economic damage from aggressive austerity measures may be as much as three times larger than previously assumed, thereby cancelling its own advice on austerity in the Euro-zone crisis.

Now, the IMF admits that forcing Greece and other debt-burdened countries to reduce their deficits too quickly would be counterproductive—now, after hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost because of such “miscalculations.” And herein resides the true message of the “irrational” popular protests all around Europe. The protesters know very well what they don’t know: they don’t pre­tend to have fast and easy answers, but what their instinct is telling them is nonetheless true—that those in power also don’t know it. In Europe today, the blind are leading the blind. Austerity politics is not really science, not even in a minimal sense. It is much closer to a con­temporary form of superstition—a kind of gut reaction to an impen­etrably complex situation, a common sense reaction of ‘”things went wrong, we are somehow guilty, we have to pay the price and suffer, so let’s do something that hurts and spend less.”

Austerity is not “too rad­ical,” as some Leftist critics claim, but, on the contrary, too superficial: an act of avoiding the true roots of the crisis.

Another example of such magic thinking (and a true model of what Hegel called abstract thinking) is the so-called “Laffer curve,” evoked by free-market advocates as a reason against excessive taxa­tion. The Laffer curve is a representation of the relationship between possible rates of taxation and the resulting levels of government revenue, illustrating how taxable income will change in response to changes in the rate of taxation. It postulates that no tax revenue will be raised at the extreme tax rates of 0 per cent and 100 per cent, and that there must be at least one rate where tax revenue would be a non­zero maximum: even from the standpoint of the government which taxes business, the highest revenue is not gained by the highest taxes. There is a point at which higher taxes start to work as a disincentive, causing capital flight and consequently lower tax revenues.

The im­plicit premise of this reasoning is that today the tax rate is already too high, and that lowering the tax rate would therefore not only help business but also raise tax revenues. The problem with this rea­soning is that, while in some abstract sense it is true, things get more complex the moment we locate taxation into the totality of economic reproduction. A great part of the money collected by taxation is again spent on the products of private business, thereby giving incentive to it. More important even, the proceeds of taxation are also spent on creating the appropriate conditions for business.

Let us take two comparable cities, one with a lower business tax rate and the other with a higher one. In the first, city public education and healthcare are in a bad condition, crime is exploding, and so on; the second city, meanwhile, spends higher revenues on better education, better energy supply, better transport, etc. Is it not reasonable to suppose that many businesses would find the second city more attractive for investment? So, paradoxically, if the first city decides to follow the second in its tax policy, raising taxes may give more incentive to private business.

(And, incidentally, many half-developed ex-Communist countries to which developed countries are outsourcing their industries are exploited, in the sense that Western business gains access to a cheaper skilled workforce that has benefited from public education: thus, the socialist state provides free education for the workforces of Western companies.)
-Slavoj Zizek, Excerpted from “Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism”