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New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Sunday, October 28

running sacred

...for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, appearance to essence... truth is considered profane, and only illusion is sacred. Sacredness is in fact held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.

~Ludwig Feuerbach
preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity
as quoted by Guy Debord at the head of Chapter 1
The Society of the Spectacle (full text)



Saturday, October 27

sucker for a pretty face









Sunday, October 21

more paths to liquidity

In refreshing contrast, Pepe Escobar has some cogent recommendations as to where Thomas Friedman can stick his Lexus and his olive tree.

I was always amused when I would watch Crossfire and hear: "...and on the Left, Michael Kinsley!"

I once met Michael Kinsley. I was at the offices of The New Republic in Washington, DC. I was working for MCI at the time (1995), and was pals with the New Republic's president. He'd invited me to an editorial luncheon with Al Gore. I had just given serious shit to our then-VP over the Communications Decency Act -- "so Al, have you ever actually read the First Amendment?" -- and was slipping away under the thoroughly unamused gaze of more Secret Service agents than I'd ever seen in one place. Kinsley chose this moment to ask me how to fix his MCImail account. I told him to call Customer Service.

So this was the American "Left." Wow.

For extra credit...

(see also: the video)



Saturday, October 20

levee gonna break

Put on your cat clothes, mama, put on your evening dress.
Few more years of hard work, then there'll be a 1,000 years of happiness.

~dylan

The following is from Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman (why do I always think of spiders from Mars?). Ziggy speaking...
Look around: others are making their choices and get what they want, why do you fail? This does not necessarily mean that if only you tried sufficiently hard you might get rid of everything you do not like in that world of yours, that everything in that world is soft and pliable and ready to be remoulded at wish. What it does mean is that such things as cannot be changed and put in desirable shape by your own effort are not worth your second thought, and being concerned with them would be a sheer waste of your time.

The effort is sufficiently vast to keep you busy all your life! You need to find the best diet-and-exercise regime to keep you slim, agile and fit; you need to discover what sort of sexual identity fits you best and then try, one after another, the available means to make you attractive for the sex of your choice; you need to find out how to make friends and influence people; how to pass an interview with flying colours and how to make other people dependent on you without exposing yourself to the danger of dependency; how to be confident that you can steer things your way and how to have trust in that confidence of yours. A lifelong job, indeed.

No wonder we witness these days a veritable 'counselling boom', with so many experts around peddling their wares and obtrusively offering their services: advice on how to make sure that the choice is right and that a wrong choice has been avoided. Their tunes vary, but one motif is audible in every melody: the buck is on your desk (your kitchen, your bedroom, your jogging track and your credit card). It all boils down to your skill, cunning and resolve. It is your action or inaction that makes all the difference between success and failure, pleasure and unhappiness. Anthony Giddens has coined the 'sequestration' concept: we, the individuals, can 'sequestrate' the experts' arcane knowledge, make it our property and handle it as all property is handled -- take it or leave it, cultivate it or throw it away. Giddens sees in this the warrant of our autonomy. We are not the wise guys' puppets, we are free to decide. Maybe. But the other aspect of being granted that 'leave to sequestrate' is allowing the experts to stay out of trouble. If the recipe or the regime does not work, it is again your, their chooser and user's fault; you did not look where you should have or looked not closely enough, The expertise as such emerges from the failed trial unscathed, its authority intact, its image unpolluted. The game of counselling-and-sequestration goes on, spurred by the anxieties of loneliness and inadequacy which the life individually lived cannot but daily generate.

This is the world we live in, and this is where all sociological analysis, for better or worse, has to start its conversation with human experience.


Lifestyle Counseling

"Tribute is appropriate for all sessions."



Sunday, October 14

wait, is this a re-run?

I was looking at a book today called The Politics of Healing: Histories of Alternative Medicine in Twentieth-Century North America. Pretty tame, right? Pretty dry stuff. But then, thanks to Amazon's Search Inside™ feature, I found this little tidbit on p. 100:
These men attracted political support from right-wing populist groups including the American Fascist Party as part of a broader program suspicious of the secrecy and power of the AMA...
Forget for a moment who "these men" were (some proto-New-Age quacks, essentially). What got my attention was the reference to the American Fascist Party, of which I'd never heard. Given that the time frame of the events under discussion was the early 1930s, I googled "American Fascist Party" thinking I might find some mildly interesting historical material. To my amazement, the first hit that came up was... The following two posters are currently available there.

Wonders never cease. Unfortunately.



Saturday, October 13

how I went mad

The following are all the books I've posted about here in the last couple years since I started writing Mystic Bourgeoisie (i.e., since July, 2005. At least this includes the books that still have cover art on Amazon. In some (fairly rare) cases, I only thought about posting about them, or wrote something I never got around to posting, or maybe I just dreamed about them. Who knows? Not me. As the title slug suggests, these books have driven me around the bend. If you click on enough of the following links and merely think about what you're seeing, you too will be driven mad. Caveat emptor, sailor.

Also keep in mind that no distinction is made between the books I wrote about because I like them and think they're important, and those I listed because I think they're ludicrously stupid and possibly signal the end of intelligent life on earth. Sorting out these alternatives has always been left as an exercise for the reader, but it's not very hard to guess in most cases. To take just one example, if you think I must be a big fan of All Women Are Psychics, it would appear that you arrived on this site through some unfortunate mistake. (If this happens and you're also a woman, the case for being psychic takes a fairly large hit.)

If you order anything from these links -- they all go to the corresponding pages on Amazon -- I get a pittance toward the purchase of even more books to tell you about, the good, the bad and the ungodly. This makes me inordinately happy.

If you want to know what I may have said about a particular book, or in what context I dropped it's name here on Mystic B, you can try popping the title or author into the handy search box below. Results are not guaranteed, but chances are good that you'll find something interesting.

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