City of Joyful Dread

I caught a fever, a holy fire

Month: June, 2012

Romney

draconian faith-based economics
warlocks, werewolves, wolverines unholy
a bounty unwarranted
who among us has more with less,
is less, useless,
the working man, otherwise occupied
a weekend in the Crimeas
slalom & Gomorrah
the meanest underwear in the West
the walking dead are undead
conversions disordered
the overground is underwhelming
darkness descends upon my mojo, everyone’s
like Seamus on the Caprice
do you believe in television?
where the extreme of patience meets the extreme of duty owed, revolution! (M. Blanchot)

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Beach Boy Pantoum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If everybody had an ocean” means that everybody doesn’t
Were you down with Johnny Otis or were you the lonely mummer?
Were you making bad vibrations with your hurdy gurdy lover?
Were you born from random evil or were you a random number?

Were you down with Johnny Otis or were you the lonely mummer?
Were you out on a safari with your wild and wasted other?
Were you born from random evil or were you a random number?
Were you once the one who loved me or were you the one who wasn’t?

Were you out on a safari with your wild and wasted other?
Were you wrestling with your demons?  Were you waking in the gutter?
Were you once the one who loved me or were you the one who wasn’t?
Will you be my winter surfer when the summer sun is stunning?

Were you wrestling with your demons?  Were you waking in the gutter?
Were you making bad vibrations with your hurdy gurdy lover?
Will you be my winter surfer when the summer sun is stunning?
“If everybody had an ocean” means that everybody doesn’t

Photo courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Darlin45rpm.JPG.

Night Train to Monongahela

for Townes Van Zandt

Headed west into the black
Ten track train on a two train track
Singing Auld Lang Syne & God Rest Ye Merry
This train was never bound for glory

Singing It Takes a Train & I Pity the Poor
When I reach Monongahela won’t ride no more

Headed south for the orange blossom
Went to bed with the coon, woke up with the possum
Woke up at noon, went to bed at eleven
This train was never bound for heaven

Woke up thinking I’m wretched but now I’m sure
When I reach Monongahela won’t ride no more

Headed east to Calcutta, jack
Ten track train on a two train track
Drinking muscat wine & potato curry
This train was never bound for glory

Went to ten cent town with a two cent whore
When I reach Monongahela won’t ride no more

Take me back to your Delta blues
Take me back to your boogie shoes
Take me back to your dance hall days
Take me back to your Old World ways
Take me back to your hippy shake
Take me back to your Madeleine cake
Take me back to your murder ballad
Take me back to your prophet Muhammad
Take me back to when Ella was elegant
Take me back to when Kansas City was relevant
Take me back to the way I once was

Headed north with a man named Morain
Two train track for a ten track train
I once was dead, now I’m only buried
This train was never bound for glory

I once was Jesus, now I’m only pure
When I reach Monongahela won’t ride no more

Photo courtesy of http://tenmilecreekcountry.blogspot.com/2009/01/pennsylvania-railroad-map-of-coal-mines.html.

Bodhi Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bodhisattva
Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi
Bodhisattva
Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi
Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva
Everybody body body
Bodhisattva
Everybody body body
Bohidsattva

Bodhidharma
Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi
Bodhidharma
Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi
Bodhidharma

Bodhisattva
Everybody body body
Bodhisattva
Everybody body body
Bohidsattva

Bodhisattva
Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi
Bodhisattva
Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi Bodhi
Bodhisattva

Image courtesy of http://ashwath0608.wordpress.com/.

Tales of Fluffya: Perestroika

Someone wrote on one of the various perpetual construction walls by City Hall MR. GORBACHEV, TAKE THIS WALL DOWN.

I took a photo as a cop waiting at a nearby newsstand watched.

Cop (smirking): “Reagan did that!”

Me: “Russia did that to itself!”

Cop: (continues smirking but has no idea what I’m talking about)

At least I wasn’t taking a photo of IF MUMIA BURNS PHILLY BURNS.

Photo courtesy of H. Wechsler.

On Jews and anxiety

Shockingly, Daniel Smith’s recent New York Times Opinionator column “Do the Jews Own Anxiety?” manages not to mention the word “Holocaust” (or “Shoah”) once, although it does include a quote from Portnoy’s Complaint about “Diaspora Jews…who had gone by the millions to the gas chambers” as well as obliquely referencing the blood libel. Even more surprising than Smith’s welcome unwillingness to deploy the Holocaust as a heuristic device is the other missing word: “modernity,” or “modernism.”

Smith blames both Jews, whom he alleges have propagated the “figure of the Neurotic Jew—our hysterical clown,” and anti-Semitism, which has forced Jews to live in the world as “object[s] of a widespread psychotic rage,” for defining Jews as anxious and anxiety as Jewish. But he offers only narrow twentieth century examples of neurotic Jews (Tevye, Portnoy, Barton Fink, and Woody Allen), all of whom were created or existed in the most welcoming country in the world towards Jews (Israel excluded of course)—missing the mark on both counts, if we’re meant to believe that Jewish anxiety is both ahistorical/transnational and a defense mechanism to blind, irrational hatred.

On the other hand, anxiety and Jews are both the sine quibus non of modernity– see for example Kafka, “degenerate art,” Walter Benjamin, “Howl,” or the young Alvy Singer worried that the universe is expanding— as a condition. Modernity or modernism is defined by wild cultural and formal experimentation, radical “isms” (e.g. surrealism, Dadaism, existentialism) and manifestos, the unconscious, fragmentation and rootlessness, ambiguity, irony and parody, and a breakdown between “high” and “low” cultures, and developed concurrently and in response to mass industrialization, urbanization, scientific progress, and war—exactly what creates and embodies anxiety. Jews therefore aren’t anxious because they’re Jews, they’re anxious because, as walking twentieth century zeitgeists, they’re the paradigmatic modernists, canaries in the coal mines of the assembly line, two world wars, and the atomic bomb. The universe is indeed expanding.

Of course, modernism also embodies not merely the “Wandering Jew,” a figure dissimilar in its doomed resolution to the neurotic, uncomfortably comfortable American Jew, but also the Jewish apostate, who is rejected by the majority culture because he was born a Jew but is also rejected by Judaism because of his refusal of Jewish orthodoxy. The late Marxist Isaac Deutscher referred to this apostatic figure as the “non-Jewish Jew,” meaning not a Jew assimilated to the majority culture but the opposite, namely Jews who go beyond the boundaries of both Judaism and the majority culture in order to “rise in thought above their societies, above their nations, above their times and generations, and to strike out mentally into wide new horizons and far into the future.” Examples of such “non-Jewish Jews” include Spinoza, Heine, Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Trotsky, and Freud, all of whom belong to the quintessentially Jewish tradition of “Jewish heretic[s] who transcend Jewry”—none of whom (well, minus Freud, who of course most embodies the twentieth century among this list) was known for being neurotic or anxious.

Deutscher, writing in 1954, was concerned that the Jewish revolutionary tradition would be destroyed by a growing enthusiasm for Israel and the new orthodoxy of the nation-state. As a Marxist, he understood nationalism to be antithetical to “the message of universal human emancipation” that represented the ultimate “moral and political heritage” of the “genius of the Jews.” The Six Day War would occur thirteen years later, the first intifada twenty years after that, the construction of the West Bank “security fence” fifteen years after that. Who can now argue that Deutscher was wrong? Does the non-Jewish Jew even exist anymore, or has he/she simply become the non-Zionist Jew (a.k.a. the Self-Hating Jew to his/her enemies, culturally orthodox if not religiously Orthodox Jews): Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappe, Lenni Brenner and other resolute nonconformers? Sadly, the message of universal human emancipation now requires too much defense against Zionist orthodoxy to worry much about Jewish orthodoxy, let alone anyone else’s.

In his essay, Smith observes that the “soul of the Jewish religion” is “endless, mind-numbing exegesis,” a “willingness to question, discuss, scrutinize, interpret, dissect and argue over every last niggling aspect of human existence,” but expresses concern that overfocusing on these positive stereotypes as a counter to other negative stereotypes can only lead to a “current of self-flattery.” Smith needn’t worry, or, perhaps, he should be worrying even more. He’s obviously never tried to talk about Israel with a Zionist.