Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

The worst thing is, they’re good at their job

There must be someone employed by Jo Whiley whose job it is to think up the worst possible misinterpretations of songs, so that unlucky pop stars get to perform them in the Live Lounge. Girls Aloud, the best pop group in the world right now, perform “With Every Heartbeat,” one of the best songs of the past year and a natural fit for GA’s style. And I don’t think it would be possible to come up with a worse version:

Watch: Girl’s Aloud’s depressingly bad cover of “With Every Heartbeat”

Look at me still talking when there’s science to do

Perhaps this is a mere contingency of scheduling, but there’s an interesting pairing of exhibitions at SFMOMA right now. Read more↴

Support Samina Malik

This is terrifyingly fucked-up, no?

When her bedroom was searched police found a ringbinder full of documents as well as a bracelet bearing the word “jihad”.

There was also a sticker on a mirror inside the door, bearing the words “lyrical terrorist”.

Also found were publications from an Islamist extremist group called Followers of Ahl us-Sunnah Wal-Jammaa’ah, linked to another group, The Saved Sect, and to the extremist cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri.

In a box file in the family lounge was a printed version of the “declaration of war” by Osama bin Laden.

A young woman faces the possibility of a jail sentence for an internet alias, some poems, and a couple of books. Oh, how marvelously the liberal democracies are protecting our freedoms.

So, she’s been given a nine month suspended sentence; good that she’s not been imprisoned, but of course still appalling that she was convicted in the first place. The CPS said: “Samina Malik was not prosecuted for writing poetry. Ms Malik was convicted of collecting information, without reasonable excuse, of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.” So that’s alright then; it’s not illegal to write, just to read.

Against the fiction of “presentism”

The true method of making things present is to represent them in our space (not to represent ourselves in their space). (The collector does just this, and so does the anecdote.) Thus represented, the things allow no mediating construction from out of “large context.” The same method applies, in essence, to the consideration of great things from the past—the cathedral of Chartres, the temple of Paestum—when, that is, a favorable prospect presents itself; the method of receiving the things into our space. We don’t displace our being into theirs; they step into our life.

— Benjamin, The Arcades Project, H2,3

Who are the lumpen­proletariat?

The concept of the lumpenproletariat is generally used to support a workerist (in the bad sense) form of Marxism, in which the working class’s revolutionary activity comes from their role as producers, and hence the lumpenproletariat, the unproductive poor, have little or no part to play in revolution. The lumpenproletariat then are criminals, prostitutes, the homeless, written off by so-called Marxists along lines very similar to bourgeois discussions of the “underclass.” Aside from the reactionary political implications of this definition, it also seems wrong from a Marxological point of view. In the Manifesto, Marx’s discusses the lumpenproletariat in the context of reactionary groups that attempt to preserve their position within a pre-capitalist order, describing them as:

The “dangerous classes,” the social scum, that passiveley rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society.

The last part of the definition seems interesting here: the lumpenproletariat are not those excluded from participation in capitalism, but remnants of “old society.” This doesn’t seem to include those included in capitalism in the most precarious or criminalized forms; indeed, I’m not sure who in contemporary society this definition of the lumpenproletariat would apply to. So, who are the lumpenproletariat?

“Crazy as a motherfucker”

There's always been a hint, or more than a hint, of something quite wrong about Britney Spears. Was this ever, in fact, an accident? A while back, I was listening to Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon,” in which Kathleen Hanna performs the hysterical subject demanded by contemporary gender roles, and it occoured to me that this would be a good direction for Britney Spears. Everyone thinks she’s mad anyway; why not embrace that madness? Read more↴