Voyou Désœuvré

When Žižek wants to support mainstream leftish politicians, he argues that they make clearer the essential indistinguishability of mainstream candidates; when the right is in power, the superficial differences make arguments for the necessity of radical change appear false (we certainly saw this with Bush). But when Žižek wants to oppose these politicians, he argues that they, precisely because of their left-wing appearance, are better placed to implement right-wing policies than right-wing politicians. How might this look in the case of Obama? Read more↴

Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-imperialsm. Political Statement of the Weather Underground I’ve been meaning to scan and upload The Weather Underground’s Prairie Fire for some time. It’s a fascinating book, written in 1974, just as the transition from the crisis of Keynesianism to the ascent of neoliberalism was taking place, and it’s a fine attempt to understand this change and how economic change, alongside the dissolution of the movements of the sixties, would effect forthcoming political activity. Not that they got everything right; their prediction of a revolutionary upsurge was sadly inaccurate and, given that, it turns out that they overestimated the role that would be played by armed struggle in the rest of the decade. On a more theoretical, rather than strategic, level, they did much better, however; it’s particularly interesting to read their materialist sketch of the intersections between capitalism, race, and gender, although it is a little depressing to realize how little influence this kind of analysis has had since then, with so many accounts of intersectionality tending towards the idealist and post-Marxist.

The steampunk genre is all about historical discontinuity, about universes where some event happened at the wrong time or in the wrong way, the invention of computers in the 19th century, or a post-WWII British space program displacing NASA. Something similar might explain Girls Aloud; they certainly don’t sound like anything from our universe. In our world, no-one would ever make a record like “Revolution in the Head,” with its cod-Jamaican accents, hardcore bassline, dub drums, and, erm, cor anglais Read more↴

Well, actually, feel free to celebrate a bit. Certainly, Obama’s victory is better than the alternative; at the very least, an Obama presidency will be less teeth-itchingly annoying than four years of McCain and Palin. More importantly, it’s not nothing that the US has a Black president, even if there’s no particular reason to think his policies will be significantly better for people of color than anyone else’s would have been.

Because the specific details of a president’s policy pronouncements are not the most important thing. Read more↴

It’s a good Fall for music: I like the Sugababes album (though it does seem a little mean of them to have stolen Mutya’s idea of making a northern soul record), and I’m obviously eagerly anticipating the new Britney and Girls Aloud records that are on their way. Meanwhile, the Russian version of the new t.A.T.u. album is out, and I fear I’m a little underwhelmed, although I have enjoyed transliterating the song titles. The previously released tracks, Белый Плащик” is fairly good and “220″ is extremely good. Other tracks show promise, such as “Снегопады,” which starts fairly well, and has what sounds like a rather good bridge, which unfortunately fails in one crucial aspect, because the song doesn’t have a chorus for it to lead in to. On the whole, though, I don’t find myself being grabbed by the album as much as I would have expected; perhaps it’s just the estrangement effect of it being in Russian. A friend of mine suggested I learn Russian, to test that theory.

There is, though, one significant exception to this indifference: “Fly on the Wall” is absolutely fantastic. All the elements of the song work together perfectly: the tense build-up of the verse spills over into the psycho-sexual bass rumblings of the chorus; better still, the industrial clanking of the drums suggests a social context for the whole thing.

I saw Burn After Reading a few weeks ago, but I hadn’t planned on writing about it. It’s a funny, smart, film, but pretty straightforward. Or so I thought, until I read some reviews. The New Yorker and Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian lead the field, I think, with their surprising failures to get the film, but  it’s amusing that the widespread critical criticism of Burn After Reading seems to be the same as the popular criticism of No Country for Old Men: that the film doesn’t have a proper ending. Read more↴