- Chantecaille Kalimantan fragrance is inspired by the intoxicating and lush forests of Borneo, available on the market from September 2010. Intense, sexy and exotic, it features the notes of labdanum, incense and patchouli, merged with benzoin, vanilla and cedar, to illustrate the fragrant wild flora of the island of Borneo.
- Patchouly Indonesiano is a deep, dark and exotic fragrance. Its entire composition consists of Indonesian patchouli (in the top notes, the heart and the perfume base).
- Rituel de Java by Cinq Mondes is a Woody Spicy fragrance for men. Rituel de Java was launched in 2008. Top note is eucalyptus; middle notes are cinnamon and woodsy notes; base notes are patchouli and virginia cedar.
- Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens is a Oriental Woody fragrance for women and men. Borneo 1834 was launched in 2005. The fragrance features patchouli, white flowers, cardamom, galbanum, french labdanum and cacao.
- Colonial Club by Jeanne Arthes is a Woody Floral Musk fragrance for men. Top notes are mint and lemon; middle notes are jasmine and fruity notes; base notes are patchouli, musk and cedar.
- Poivre Colonial is a new fragrance from the Eaux de Toilette collection from Phaedon. The scent has been described as both "prickly and smooth” woody – spicy one. It opens with an explosion of grapefruit, nutmeg and pepper. The heart includes cedar and vetiver, mixed with warm cacao bean. The base is dominated by notes of oak moss and patchouli with blonde woods.
- The Italian brand of I Coloniali presents their collection Seductive Elixir of 8 fragrant waters in 2012. The collection is inspired by distant countries and offers intense, long-lasting fragrances with various fragrant compositions.
- Acqua di Genova, Colonia Classica by Acqua di Genova is a Citrus Aromatic fragrance for women and men. Acqua di Genova, Colonia Classica was launched in 1853. Top notes are bergamot, amalfi lemon, orange, rosemary, neroli and lavender; middle notes are jasmine, rose and orange blossom; base notes are patchouli, sandalwood, amber and musk.
- Agua de Colonia Concentrada Barberia by Alvarez Gomez is a Citrus Aromatic fragrance for women and men. This is a new fragrance. Top notes are lemon, bitter orange, bergamot and ginger; middle notes are rhubarb, labdanum and coriander; base notes are cedar, sandalwood and white musk.
- Colonia del Sacramento fragrance by Fueguia 1833 belongs to the Destinos collection. “A mix of European detachment with River Plate indolence, this blend combines a restless fragrance of bergamot, orange blossom and lemon.”
I must say that I also enjoy the insanity and grotesqueness of Nip/Tuck. And the music. This is the full-length version of the opening theme - unsurprisingly, there's a ton of thinspo videos set to this song, but there's also a bunch of thinspo shit set to Radiohead's "Creep" and Fiona Apple's "Paper Bag," so whatever. It makes me think of... well, grad school, but life in general if you're living in Go Getter World. And I realize now that I am back in that world, and deeper in than I was as an undergrad because the emphasis now really is on becoming a full-grown yuppie, not just getting hot drunken pictures of yourself on Facebook (which is, I think, what it was in undergrad). I kind of consider myself lucky that I fell into this job, even though I hate it and am fairly bad at it, because it hooks me up to the two professors who can connect me to anything/anyone in the very narrow field that I want to enter. Hilariously I apparently decided to wed myself to this field in a matter of, oh, a month. But I've sworn off government work as an option, so there you go. I am left with think tanks. I think I'm just kind of like, "okay, fuck it, Southeast Asia politics it is, fuckin' good enough." My point is I don't necessarily feel like I have to struggle as hard as other people I know who are just starting to feel out a direction. Of course, there is more to life in Go Getter World than having a well-connected job, as we all know, and I still feel pressure - "perfect soul, perfect mind, perfect face" - like whoa.
Added: I think this pressure is also there for men in the grad program - obviously. But it is different for women. It's like we have to impress fucking everyone, all the time.
Also: It reminds me of whenever I'm asked "where else did you apply?" and I say that I chose AU over George Washington. Even AU people don't get why I would, sometimes - why wouldn't you go for the better name, regardless of anything else? And when I explain that GW didn't click with me, and AU did, I tend to get blank stares. I usually have to add "well, AU is giving me way more money than GW would have..." before I get the "oh" of understanding.
I thought they actually did a really nice job with the everyday folk in this one - Natalie Portman's character was very likable and relatable and cute (and everything about Thor was filtered through her perspective, which was awesome, because it almost felt more like he was the love interest, not her - which is really fucking rare in action movies, to allow women to show desire - usually it's just like, Exasperated Love Interest Suddenly Becomes Willing To Make Out With Hero, How Did That Happen? Don't Ask), with her main adjective probably being "clever." Her assistant, Darcy - the political science student - was the comic relief, and was a riot. Then their beleaguered scientist mentor dude was Stellan Skarsgard, and he did a good job; I generally like Skarsgard anyway. It all takes place in a very desertified New Mexico.
The aliens - Thor's people, and their enemies the Frost Giants - are a little headscratchy. They have a nice-looking planet, sure, with the cosmos as their sky and a long psychedelic crystal highway that leads out to the rainbow bifrost bridge - kind of like something off a sketchy "space art" web site. And their attire reminded more of Saint Seiya than anything else, did anybody watch that show? Disturbing anime, that. Anyway, they're all completely identical to humans aside from their ridiculous armor, which was played for some laughs when they eventually came to Earth. The Frost Giants are corpse-gray with red eyes and live in a desolate ice world. Character development in this "realm," as Thor would say, was a little weak, but I think is a good example of what I was saying the other day - heroic heroes are more interesting than antiheroes.
Thor comes straight out of Hero Mold, you see. He is a total stupid dumbfuck when he first becomes an adult, but his flaws are hero flaws - wants to go after the enemy and teach them a lesson, doesn't want to wait for diplomacy, must defend honor, blah blah blah - a lot of sound and fury and prideful bombast, but he doesn't angst or consider switching sides or even behave all that reprehensibly. There was one part where I thought he might suffer A Very Painful Lesson (TM) because he's smashing all these Frost Giants with his whack-a-mole hammer while miles away his friends are about to get eaten by a gigantic ice Balrog/Troll, but no, he sees that they're in danger and saves them. He has some character defects, but they're heroic defects. And he becomes much less of a dumbfuck as the movie progresses. But thank God, you know, thank God that he wasn't "I'm just a loser and I'm sad about my average life but holy shit look I have superpowers now I am uber cool woohoo." I am so done with that kind of superhero. With Thor, at least we've moved beyond the standard "what does this power mean?" conversations, because you know, Thor knows he has power. He's been groomed to be a leader all his life. So instead of "you too can be a leader" claptrap you can actually concentrate on what good leadership is (not that this movie is very deep, but eh). And if that means that fewer boys in the audience can "relate" to Thor, too damn bad for them. Captain America looks right up their alley.
Loki, his brother, the "bad guy," is a whole bucket of crazy. He's kind of sympathetic, and he's certainly Thor's shadow-self, and he doesn't seem to be motivated by Unrepenting Evil or whatever, but neither his motives nor his personality are consistent. I don't mean that he develops as a character like Thor does - he's just wildly inconsistent. I accept that he's keeping his true motives and plan to himself, but towards the end I kept going like "Loki, why are you doing that? I thought that's what you wanted!" and "Loki, what the fuck?" Unlike Thor, you never really figure out what Loki believes or values - we get that he values himself, yeah, but he seems to have literally no opinions or belief system beyond that - which is just as bad as the villain that is evil Just Because.
But, oh well. The movie ultimately comes down not on the side of genocide, which for an action blockbuster, is pretty good.
Wow, re-imagining that song with LOTR just made my morning substantially better. Must resist temptation to revise entire lyrics to fit LOTR.
I also can't get over how my mother refuses to accept that Lord of the Rings was written in the 1940s and not the 1600s. I keep telling her, and she keeps going, "really??!"
ETA: Crap, I'm becoming convinced that I need to totally re-structure the current short story WIP from the perspective of a new protagonist. FUCKING HELL AFTER ALL THIS WORK
So the U.S. now has military aircraft and ships edging closer to Libya. Because "all options are on the table." And "they were held back until Friday because of fears that the Libyan government might take its diplomats and other Americans there hostage." Oh dear.
As usual, people in the military are trying to drag their feet. Why? "There is no appetite for assigning ground troops to any mission," and "any United States military presence could undermine the legitimacy of the Libyan revolt as an internal, grass-roots movement" and "Qaddafi supporters — and even those across the Arab world who do not like the dictator — could denounce American action as being only about oil" and the problem of "the limits of force and the difficulties and complexities of contemporary military operations." (European countries continue to be wary of their colonial legacy, too, something that can't be said of the U.S. - "what colonial legacy?" ba-dum-bing) And of course, it would play right into Qaddafi's hands. What would happen after the "crazy" man is gone? Would we ("the U.N."/"NATO"/"coalition forces") stay to make sure things don't get out of hand? Would we perhaps set a date for free and fair elections? Or how about sending some nation-building experts? Well, we'd need to find somebody good to replace the crazy before we could leave (maybe somebody like the fine gentlemen featured in this book). And suddenly, aw, another itty bitty American colony. And the U.S. would succeed in, once again, vanquishing a bottom-up democratic trend in the Middle East. It is, as always, Congress and certain think tanks - left and right - who are pushing for action.
Humanitarian intervention is tricky, yes. But what's happening in Libya is not genocide. It's a conflict between pro-regime and anti-regime forces. There is an opposition force in Libya that wants to get Qaddafi out themselves. There is no indication that they're slowing down or giving up, and it is impossible to know whether or not they'll succeed. David Cameron's bombastic remarks about "not leaving the people of Libya to their fate" (too much Lord of the Rings, Prime Minister? Gondor "called for aid," remember) are belittling and unnecessary. The possibility of self-determination is not out of the picture here. Not until the U.S. takes it out of the picture by taking the conflict into America's own hands. Does that mean "sit around and do nothing"? No. Believe it or not, a whole range of possibilities exist between thumb-twiddling and invasion. Humanitarian aid to opposition forces and civilians is a very good idea. Working with refugees along the borders is another very good idea. Military intervention is not. Military aid in the form of training and ammunition and strategic planning might be a good idea, but I'm not convinced the U.S. would be capable of restraining itself to the level of "consultation" when trying to overthrow a regime (the U.S. has a better track record in that regard when trying to help a regime suppress opposition). Maybe if we start calling this a "covert mission" the U.S. will restrain itself, although that would mean the involvement of the CIA.
What do the people in Libya want?
This happy ending, however, is marred by a fear shared by all Libyans; that of a possible western military intervention to end the crisis... one thing seems to have united Libyans of all stripes; any military intervention on the ground by any foreign force would be met – as Mustafa Abud Al Jeleil, the former justice minister and head of the opposition-formed interim government, said – with fighting much harsher than what the mercenaries themselves have unleashed.But who cares what they want, right? It's a shame the U.S. isn't more of a vampire, really - that way we'd have to wait to be invited in.
Nor do I favour the possibility of a limited air strike for specific targets. This is a wholly popular revolution, the fuel to which has been the blood of the Libyan people. Libyans fought alone when western countries were busy ignoring their revolution at the beginning, fearful of their interests in Libya. This is why I'd like the revolution to be ended by those who first started it: the people of Libya.
So as the calls for foreign intervention grow, I'd like to send a message to western leaders: Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy. This is a priceless opportunity that has fallen into your laps, it's a chance for you to improve your image in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims. Don't mess it up. All your previous programmes to bring the east and the west closer have failed, and some of them have made things even worse. Don't start something you cannot finish, don't turn a people's pure revolution into some curse that will befall everyone. Don't waste the blood that my friend Ahmed spilt for me. (via: Please Don't Intervene)
Simon Schama observed recently that British school students were missing out on “vast tracts” of our nation's past. Now this is the kind of thing that the mail loves. Nothing suits a British tabloid better than a WE ARE FAILING OUR CHILDREN story, particularly if it can be coupled with a LEFTIES DON'T LOVE OUR COUNTRY ENOUGH story.
What's ironic about this whole thing (and I confess here that I'm overgeneralising for comic effect) is that Schama's proposed changes to the syllabus – replacing an obsession with “Hitler and the Henries” with a syllabus that looks at less iconic, more significant elements of British History – are exactly the kind of thing which I would expect to get Mail readers up in arms.
History teaching in this country is by all accounts a mess, but how could it not be? Ask the average passer-by or Have-Your-Say commenter about History teaching, and you'll get a thousand different variants on the same answer: “I Am Outraged That Children Today Do Not Learn The Exact Same Subset Of History I Learned When I Was At School.”
History – and I confess I may be showing my science-student bias here – is not like mathematics or physics where the subject has a natural structure (it is, for example, clearly impossible to study calculus before one studies algebra, or to learn about accelerated motion before one learns about motion with a constant velocity). History is a vast interconnected mass and to some extent every part of it illuminates every other part. Obviously studying the First World War helps with the study of the Second World War, and studying the Age of Empire would help with the study of both, but unless you just study the whole of history in chronological order starting from the birth of Abraham you've got to just – well – pick stuff.
The problem with history teaching – indeed with our whole understanding of history – is that we take particular dates, events, and facts to be talismanic. Little Shibboleths of Britishness we can use to distinguish ourselves from dirty foreigners or poor people. Even I, though I fancy myself immune to these kinds of lazy thought-pattern, would be a little shocked if I met somebody who had been educated in this country and did not know what happened in 1066, although if pressed I would be hard put to explain why the Battle of Hastings (October 14th 1066) was more significant than the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944-January 1945), the Battle of Watling Street (AD 60 or 61), or the Battle of Thermopylae (480BC).
In fact thinking about it, the most damning thing about this attitude to history is that if you ask somebody “what happened in 1066?” the answer you expect is “the Battle of Hastings” and not, for example, “the Battle of Stamford Bridge” which happened the same year, was part of the same sequence of events, and is as much a part of understanding the fall of Harold Godwinson and the Norman Conquest as its more famous counterpart. But nobody cares about the Battle of Stamford Bridge, because it's not one of the tickboxes for “knowing about history”.
For reference, here are Schama's recommendations for the elements of British History that any fule should no:
Now I have two things to say about this list of events. Check that, three things. Firstly, I don't remember learning about any of them at school (especially not the icky colonial ones) although I think the “History of the Troubles” might have been one of the options that nobody did for GCSE. Secondly, I'm still pretty woefully ignorant about most of these – my understanding of the murder of Thomas Beckett comes almost exclusively from that one episode of Blackadder, and my knowledge of the execution of King Charles the First comes entirely from the Monty Python Oliver Cromwell Song. Thirdly, this is clearly a history syllabus designed by an actual historian.
- The Murder of Thomas Beckett (1170)
- The Black Death (1348-1350) and the Peasants' Revolt (1381)
- The Execution of King Charles the First (1649)
- The British in India (1700s to 1900s)
- The Irish Wars (1850 to 1909)
- The Opium Wars (1839-1860)
Looking at Schama's list, what you see is a mixture of topics, some very specific (like the Murder In The Cathedral) and some very extended (like our presence in India) all of which combine to show the history of Britain as it really was – vast and complicated and with quite a lot of parts we should be rather ashamed of. It's a History syllabus that focuses not on dates and names and endless lists of bloody monarchs but on what history is really all about: the causes and consequences of events in the real world.
Schama's proposed History syllabus tells a profoundly complex and subtle story, the story of Britain's evolution from absolutist monarchy to the modern day via revolution and Empire. It deals with the interaction of Church and State, popular revolts both successful and unsuccessful, and the role of the country in the wider context of global history. It also confronts some of the darkest moments in our history, instead of just teaching schoolchildren how Winston Churchill beat the Nazis more or less single handed. It's an excellent syllabus, there's no two ways about it.
But if we taught it, we'd have to stop teaching something else. We'd have to cut back on the more superficial, more iconic elements of History and if we did that, then I have a sneaking suspicion that ten years from now the Daily Mail would be expressing outrage at how few of our schoolchildren could name the six wives of Henry the Eighth.
The Expendables is actually remarkably accurate. The gist is "an American is always behind everything," and by "American" we mean a CIA agent. Thus we actually have CIA agents backing puppet dictators in sad little Latin American republics so that they can get rich off coca - clearly "director" Sylvester Stallone read up on the United Fruit Company and perhaps Manuel Noriega. Of course, the movie is at minor pains to make sure we understand that the CIA itself does not condone such undemocratic behavior - that the Big Bad was a CIA agent gone rogue, gone bad, gone greedy, and the CIA's now trying to clean up his mess. Just ignore this disclaimer bit, and you will have the basic idea of Stephen Kinzer's Overthrow. We even have some exaggerated waterboarding (done by the CIA).
None of this is made all that complicated or nuanced - the mercenary heroes don't think barely at all about their role in the system (they're too worried about having lost their souls), the evil (rogue) CIA agent is just like, "I am greedy, greed is good," and... that's about it. There's some blather about patriotism, but it's the poor little Latin Americans that have this patriotism, not the Americans. I think I could count on one hand the number of times the American flag makes an appearance in this movie.
And about that little bit of anti-colonial patriotism that blossoms in the Latin American republic? Well, the Americans quickly stomp it out. The mercenary heroes don't know why these fools don't just leave their fucked up country. The corrupt puppet dictator makes a turn for the better at the climax of the movie, when he tries to make the (rogue) CIA agent take the money back and leave the country. He tells his idealistic, patriotic daughter that "you are who I was supposed to be," and he goes to his balcony to shout to the only people in the vicinity, his bored and confused soldiers, about his mistakes and his greed and "this American disease" that has infected their country. He asks for his people's forgiveness and vows to stomp out the foreign invaders - and then gets shot off the balcony by the CIA agent still inside his room. There's a definite under-current of the death of idealism, and perhaps any kind of moral passion, or even values, going on here - even though the heroes make it out, they don't seem to have returned to much except throwing knives at walls. Kind of a downer, if you think about it.
So good going, Expendables. That was more than I expected.
Roosevelt et al contended that to save America, a new frontier was needed: by waging wars of expansion, always with the fondest motives, always with civilisation and Christian virtue in mind, Americans would be impressed by their collective power and would "come to see themselves, as they had done in the Civil War, the Indian Wars, and in the colonization of new land, as a community of heroes engaged in a struggle upon which the future of humanity depended." Well, if that isn't American imperialist ideology to a tee. The firefighter, policeman, intrepid reporter, blue-collar bum, incorruptible union activist, brave American soldier - heroism is the supreme imperialist virtue (even if its application is cowardly, corrupt, venal, brutal, and in general as unlikely to inspire admiration as any form of human conduct).In the comments somebody mentioned "tough trucks (heroic trucks)". Like so:
So (American) realists would say:
How would the introduction of flesh-eating ghouls affect world politics? The realist answer is simple if surprising: International relations would be largely unaffected. Although some would see in a zombie invasion a new existential threat to the human condition, realists would be unimpressed by the claim that the zombies' arrival would lead to any radical change in human behavior. To them, a plague of the undead would merely echo older plagues, from the Black Death of the 14th century to the 1918 influenza pandemic. To paraphrase Thucydides, the realpolitik of zombies is that the strong will do what they can and the weak must suffer devouring by reanimated, ravenous corpses.(American) "liberals" would say:
Provided that the initial spread of zombies did not completely wipe out governments, the liberal expectation would be that an international counterzombie regime could make significant inroads into the problem. Given the considerable public-good benefits of wiping the undead from the face of the Earth, significant policy coordination seems a likely response... Quasi-permanent humanitarian counterzombie missions, perhaps under United Nations auspices, would likely be necessary in failed states. Liberals would acknowledge that the permanent eradication of flesh-eating ghouls is unlikely. The reduction of the zombie problem to one of many manageable threats, however, is quite likely. Most countries would kill most zombies most of the time.And neocons (they're their own category?) would say:
Neither accommodation nor recognition would be sustainable options in the face of the zombie threat. Instead, neocons would recommend an aggressive and militarized response to ensure human hegemony. Rather than wait for the ghouls to come to them, they would pursue offensive policy options that take the fight to the undead. A pre-emptive strike against zombies would, surely, be a war against evil itself.I'm not really sure what to make of this, except I think he may be underestimating zombies' disruptive capacity. The whole thing is clearly an attempt to get "young people" to care about political science, by the way: "interested and intelligent students of world politics should use their own brains -- before the zombies do."
Part I. America Talks To Itself
1. "American Pie" - Don McLean
Did you write the Book of Love, and do you have faith in God above if the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock 'n' roll, can music save your mortal soul, and can you teach me how to dance real slow?
2. "The 50 States Song" - Sufjan Stevens
Visit Nebraska, there's nothing to do
3. "Born in the U.S.A." - Bruce Springsteen
Down in the shadow of the penitentiary, out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years burnin' down the road - nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go
Born in the USA, I was born in the USA
Born in the USA, I'm a long-gone daddy in the USA
4. "Army Dreamers" - Kate Bush
What could he do, should've been a rock star - but he didn't have the money for a guitar
What could he do, should've been a politician - but he never had a proper education
What could he do, should've been a father - but he never even made it to his 20s
5. "Fortunate Son" - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Some folks are born made to wave the flag, ooh, they're red, white and blue
And when the band plays "Hail To The Chief", oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,
Some folks inherit star spangled eyes, ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
And when you ask them "how much should we give?" they only answer, "more, more, more"
It ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one
6. "Rooster" - Alice in Chains
Walkin' tall machine gun man, they spit on me in my homeland
Gloria sent me pictures of my boy, got my pills 'gainst mosquito death
Yeah, they come to snuff the rooster, yeah, here come the rooster
7. "For What It's Worth" - Buffalo Springfield
There's battle lines being drawn, nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Paranoia strikes deep - into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid - step out of line, the man'll come and take you away
Stop, now, what's that sound - everybody look what's goin' down
8. "(Antichrist Television Blues)" - The Arcade Fire
Dear God, I'm a good Christian man, in your glory, I know you understand,
That you gotta work hard and you gotta get paid,
My girl's 13 but she don't act her age, she can sing like a bird in a cage,
Oh Lord, if you could see her when she's up on that stage!
Do you know where I was at your age? Any idea where I was at your age?
I was working downtown for the minimum wage, and I'm not gonna let you just throw it all away.
I'm through being cute, I'm through being nice, oh tell me, Lord, am I the Antichrist?!
Part II. America in the World; The World Talks Back
1. "Amerika" - Rammstein
We're all living in Amerika, Amerika is wunderbar
We're all living in Amerika, Coca Cola, wonderbra
We're all living in Amerika, Coca Cola, sometimes war
This is not a love song! I don't speak my mother tongue! No, this is not a love song!
2. "God Loves America" - Swans
So God forgive America, the end of history is now
And God may save the victim, but only the murderer holds real power
3. "Touched" - VAST
I looked into your eyes and saw a world that does not exist
I looked into your eyes and saw a world I wish I was in
I'll never find someone quite as touched as you
I'll never love someone quite the way that I loved you
4. "Crumbs From Your Table" - U2
You were pretty as a picture, it was all there to see
Then your face caught up with your psychology
With a mouthful of teeth, you ate all your friends
And you broke every heart, thinking every heart mends
5. "Beware" - Deftones
You should know, really, that this could end
You should know I could never make it work
Do you like the way the water tastes? (Like gunfire!)
Do you like the way the water tastes? (Stop it!)
Beware the water! Beware the water!
6. "Hate This And I'll Love You" - Muse
Oh I am growing tired of allowing you to steal everything I have
You're making me feel like I was born to service you - but I am growing by the hour
Cuz I was born to destroy you, and I am growing by the hour
7. "Murderer" - Low
Don't act so innocent, I've seen you pound your fist into the earth
And I've read your books - seems that you could use another fool
Well, I'm cruel, and I look right through
You must have more important things to do
So if you need a murderer, someone to do your dirty work...
8. "Forgetting" - Philip Glass
A man wakes up to the sound of rain from a dream about his lovers who pass through his room
The man is awake now, he can't catch his sleep again
So he repeats these words, over and over again:
Bravery. Kindness. Clarity. Honesty. Compassion. Generosity.
Bravery. Honesty. Dignity. Clarity. Kindness. Compassion.
Part III. Group Hug!
"We Didn't Start the Fire" - Billy Joel
Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again, Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline, Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan
Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide, foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shore, China's under martial law, rock and roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore!
We didn't start the fire - it was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire - but when we are gone, it will still burn on and on and on and on...
In his acknowledgments he thanks "the Glenn Beck Insiders. We're not racist and we're not violent... we're just not silent anymore."
In an author's note he adds: "While nonfiction books aim to enlighten, the goal of most thrillers is to entertain. But there is a category of novels that do both: "faction" - completely fictional books with plots rooted in fact, and that is the category I strived for with The Overton Window... I know this book will be controversial; anything that causes people to think usually is... As I write this introduction, weeks before this book will even go on sale, I already know that my critics will be fierce and unforgiving. They will accuse me of being every kind of conspiracy theorist they can invent - and they will base it all on the plot of a novel that they likely never even read."
Glenn Beck is not a conspiracy theorist, ok? He's a psychic.
( Glenn Beck vs. Ra's al Ghul, or the Illuminati, or somebody )
Jonathan McCalmont has a great examination of the video game Dead Space as a "a fiercely left wing game whose narrative constitutes a vicious critique of neoliberalism and the monetarist policies of Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys." Oh yes. I don't play video games (no money, no time, no hand-eye-coordination), but Dead Space has always interested me because I am a big, big sucker for sci-fi horror set in space (the fact that I didn't like Pandorum should tell you how bad it was). Anyway, McCalmont says:
However, Dead Space’s reverence for the market does not stop with surreal mercantilism… it also extends to the actual game-play. Indeed, one of the innovations trumpeted by the avalanche of hype that surrounded Dead Space’s release was the way in which shooting monsters is rarely sufficient to kill them. Pump round after round into your average necromorph and he will still keep coming at you. Dead Space does not reward butchery, it rewards surgery. Indeed, the most efficient way to kill necromorphs is to assume the role of the hatchet man and make cuts. A leg here. An arm there. A health service here. Some national oil reserves there. Cut. Cut. Cut.You know you want to read it. I always thought the Alien series was doing something similar (on a less sophisticated level), because you know the bad guy isn't really the xenomorph population - as Ripley puts it, "at least they don't fuck each other over for a percentage" - it's the Company.
Dead Space’s suggestion that the necromorphs’ presence is a result of the planet cracking suggests that the human costs of the market must be taken into account and not merely repressed with force. Indeed, the game’s final act sees Isaac Clarke desperately trying to mend fences with the hive mind by returning the marker to the planet.
Meanwhile, The Rejectionist (who I usually agree with) explains why she doesn't read "manfiction" anymore. Alas, according to a couple of her definitions, I write manfiction. [I actually had to work to write more female characters into The Novel - and I'm glad I wrote them in, yeah, but they're still not major characters because guess what, Junction Rally will never elect a woman as mayor. Fuckin' ever. I'm doing the Women Behind The Throne angle, though.]
I also can't say I'd put Cormac McCarthy in the same category as, say, Updike and Roth in this regard. Much less make him a high priest of manfiction. Yeah, he can't write women (he does in Outer Dark. It turns out... weird, though hardly what I'd call sexist/misogynistic). Yeah, The Road is a big father-son epic. But the family that survives at the end of The Road, the one that is both good and has a chance of making it, has a mother, and a daughter. I think McCarthy knows his limits, and for better or for worse, those are his limits. It's hardly the same as giving the aging author-stand-in a slew of stupid buxom blondes to have sex with. Then of course we have all the comments saying they're only going to read female authors from now on and I'm like argh.
Then of course one commenter's like "this is why I never got into The Stranger," presumably referring to Camus' story. And I'm like, arrrrrgh, because The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus kind of changed my life (for the better).
After Imperial Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, Douglas MacArthur became the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, rebuilding Japan during the Allied occupation. MacArthur secretly granted immunity to the physicians of Unit 731 in exchange for providing America with their research on biological warfare. The United States believed that the research data was valuable because the Allies had never conducted or condoned such experiments on humans due to moral and political revulsion.Nice. Definitely taking the high road to hell there. The Soviet Union was the only country that aggressively pursued prosecution of Unit 731 personnel, because Russian civilians and soldiers were also experimented on, and Philosophy of the Knife is made by a Russian. And yet:
After World War II, the Soviet Union built a biological weapons facility in Sverdlovsk using documentation captured from Unit 731 in Manchuria.Oh yeah, good ol' Sverdlovsk! Meanwhile, in Japan:
Some former members of Unit 731 became part of the Japanese medical establishment. Dr. Masaji Kitano led Japan's largest pharmaceutical company, the Green Cross. Others headed U.S.-backed medical schools or worked for the Japanese health ministry. Shiro Ishii in particular moved to Maryland to work on bio-weapons research.Hooray!
Nebraska in Nebraska. The mysterious Nebraska Field does not seem to have achieved even local fame. The town of Minden only boasts a Pioneer Museum, and each December hyper-decorates itself to defend its reputation as Christmas City.
Leo Belcigus. Lions are not native to the Low Countries, but here is one particular specimen that is nevertheless very local. The Leo Belgicus is a lion transposed on a map of the area, its ferocity symbolizing the belligerence of a nation fighting for its life.
“Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men,” Stephen Marche writes in Esquire. “Not all young straight women, of course, but many, if not most, of them.”
Marche thinks today’s vampire stories — whether their gay themes are implied as in the “Twilight” series or explicit as in HBO’s “True Blood” — are “symptomatic of something much larger: a quiet but profound sexual revolution and a new acceptance of freakiness in mainstream American life.”
So that's why I don't like vampires! Gee, Esquire, thanks! I think Joseph Hale has the best comment:
I think it signals a widespread acceptance that people want to have sex with the dead.
I end this post with something completely unrelated - a German artist, Ottmar Hoerl, "is posing 1,250 garden gnomes with their arms outstretched in the stiff-armed Hitler salute in an installation that he calls a protest of lingering fascist tendencies in German society," even though Germany bans the display of Nazi symbols. A court decided they were "clearly satire." Hoerl says "the fascist idea, the striving to manipulate people or dictate to people ... is latently dangerous and remains present in our society." To Hoerl: you're absolutely right! And it's not just Germany!
And if not for that, I wouldn't have known it was Columbus Day. I immediately thought of the first essay I read for Colonial Encounters, "Good Day, Columbus" (from Silencing The Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot). I kept my course reader for a reason! But after work I had pilates, so I'm only getting around to typing it up now, and watch by the time I finish it won't even be Columbus Day anymore [Update: Yeah, it's not.]:
Prologue: For in the monumental efforts of the Portuguese state to catch up with a history now eclipsed by nostalgia, I saw the nostalgia of the entire West for a history that it never lived, its constant longing for a place that exists only in its mind... The West was America, a dream of conquest and rapture... Except that I was in Belem whence Europe's face looked no clearer than that of the Americas... Belem's steady effort to patch up its own silences did not reflect on Portugal alone. It spoke of the entire West - of Spain, France, and the Netherlands, of Britain, Italy, and the United States - of all those who, like Columbus, had come from behind to displace Portugal in the reshaping of the world. And as much as I did not like it... its spoke also of me, of all the lands disturbed by their cacophony.
( The West does not exist. I know. I've been there. )
It is vital that other nations come away from the meeting believing that America and Russia are moving toward verifiable nuclear arms reductions, and that by the time the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference is held at the United Nations next May, they will have made progress toward the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.That is exactly the problem with the general push toward ending nuclear proliferation. Third world countries can smell that shit a mile away.
Unless they show the world they are serious, the two major nuclear powers will be accused, again and again, of not keeping their word and told that if it is acceptable for 5 or 10 countries to have nuclear weapons as their “ultimate security guarantee,” why should it not be the case for 20 or 30 others?
Of course, Gorbachev still allows for "minimum nuclear sufficiency for self-defense," which I don't.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God is about Spanish conquistadores (speaking in German) trekking through the Amazon in search of El Dorado, the city of gold. They're led by a basically reasonable guy, Ursua, and for no good reason have with them Ursua's mistress, Inez, and Aguirre's daughter, Flores. There's also a somber monk and a pompous nobleman and a black guy and an "educated" Indian and a whole bunch of slave Indians who are tied together and have to haul Inez and Flores around. It's a splinter group off a larger group of explorers, which is always a foreboding sign in a Herzog movie, and sure enough things begin to go crazy when Ursua decides they should turn back and Aguirre stabs Ursua, telling the other conquistadores that they need to seek out El Dorado and claim greatness for themselves. What's more, they should reject Spanish rule and form their own empire! Yes! They'll conquer the rest of the Amazon and then sail all the way to Spain and take the Spanish throne too! Ha ha ha!
Meanwhile the Indians are shooting poisoned darts at them and they're raiding the Indians back, making the black guy run around because supposedly the Indians are scared of black people, and the pompous nobleman becomes emperor of their new little empire and has his own special outhouse and makes them shove the horse into the water because it's bothering him, and Inez walks off into the jungle, and they all float around on a glorified raft getting fevers, and they see a ship stuck in the trees but the monk says it's a hallucination, and then monkeys overrun the raft and Aguirre has a long monologue with a monkey and needless to say, the expedition ends in disaster, as so many of these colonial expeditions did.
There's not much I can say because it's a Werner Herzog movie and there's nothing more you need to say, really. It's a Heart of Darkness kind of movie, except even more psycho and eerie than Heart of Darkness. You get a real sense of alienation and "fever dream" and the end result is really very hypnotic. Pretty much exemplifies the insanity and delusion and absurdity and death that went into early colonialism. So I'll just include the trailer. It's English dubbed, but you should watch it in German with subtitles, obviously.
You may ask what I'm doing watching 9 if my kind of movie is Aguirre, the Wrath of God, and I would respond: yeah, I don't know either.
Revanchism, from wikipedia:
Revanchism (from French revanche, "revenge") is a term used since the 1870s to describe a political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country, often following a war. Revanchism draws its strength from patriotic and retributionist thought and is often motivated by economic or geo-political factors. Extreme revanchist ideologues often represent a hawkish stance, suggesting that desired objectives can be reclaimed in the positive outcome of another war.
Revanchism is linked with irredentism, the conception that a part of the cultural and ethnic nation remains "unredeemed" outside the borders of its appropriate nation-state. Revanchist politics often rely on the identification of a nation with a nation-state, often mobilizing deep-rooted sentiments of ethnic nationalism, claiming territories outside of the state where members of the ethnic group live, while using heavy-handed nationalism to mobilize support for these aims. Revanchist justifications are often presented as based on ancient or even autochthonous occupation of a territory known by the German term Urrecht, meaning a nation's claim to territory that has been inhabited since "time immemorial", an assertion that is usually inextricably involved in revanchism and irredentism, justifying them in the eyes of their proponents.Motivations of territorial aggression and counter aggression are as old as tribal societies, but the instance of revanchism that gave these furious groundswells of opinion their modern name lies in the strong desire during the French Third Republic to regain the mainly German-speaking Alsace-Lorraine after the humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71. Emperor Napoleon III had declared and lost the war, and, in the Treaty of Frankfurt, France lost Alsace-Lorraine, previously annexed by King Louis XIV in the 17th century.
Georges Clemenceau, of the Radical Republicans, opposed participation in the scramble for Africa and other adventures that would divert the Republic from objectives related to the "blue line of the Vosges" in Alsace-Lorraine. After the governments of Jules Ferry had pursued a number of colonies in the early 1880s, Clemenceau lent his support to Georges Ernest Boulanger, a popular figure, nicknamed Général Revanche, who it was felt might overthrow the Republic in 1889. This ultra-nationalist tradition influenced French politics up to 1921 and was one of the major reasons France went to great pains to woo Russia, resulting in the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1894 and, after more accords, the Triple Entente of the three great Allied powers of World War I: France, Great Britain, and Russia.
French revanchism was the main force behind the Treaty of Versailles, which regained Alsace-Lorraine for France, pinned the blame of the World War on Germany and extracted huge reparations from the defeated powers. The conference was not only opened on the anniversary of the proclamation of the Second Reich, the treaty had also to be signed by the new German government in the same room, the Hall of Mirrors.
A German revanchist movement responded to the losses of World War I. Pangermanists within the Weimar Republic called for the reclamation of territories considered to be the "rightful" property of a German state due to pre-war borders or because of the territory's historical relation to Germanic peoples. The movement called for the re-incorporation of Alsace-Lorraine, the Polish Corridor and the formerly Austrian Sudetenland (see Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia). This irredentism had also been characteristic of the Völkisch movement in general and of the Alldeutsche Verband (Pan-Germanic League), which had been a motivating factor behind German unification in 1871.
And yet, I do. I liked it when I first read it this past summer in Surabaya. I like it now. I just saw the movie version - and part of it is no doubt that Michael Caine (aka Alfred of Nolan's Batman series) plays the British journalist, Fowler. It's quite a good movie. Caine is like, beyond excellent in it. Totally captures Fowler's cynicism mixed with an old man's idealism, his doubts and wishes to stay "uninvolved," his affection for Phuong and Vietnam and even the American Hero, Pyle (played by Brendan Fraser, of all people!), whom Fowler ultimately sends to his death, for a variety of reasons - his enthusiasm for a "third force" in Vietnam is leading him to directly enable marketplace bombings, the carnage of which he then runs through, looking for photo ops and wiping blood off his pants... and of course, Pyle has managed to get Phuong to leave Fowler for him by offering her what Fowler can't because of his Catholic wife back home: marriage. Fowler's is a character that a lesser actor - or just a denser actor - could have butchered, but Caine is this perfect mix of bitter and polite, distant and vulnerable, that it works perfectly.
There's also a lot of really good directing and cinematography involved - I of course nearly cried at the bombed marketplace scene (it's a really affecting scene in the book, too, and the only one that's all that violent overall, considering of course this is pre-American involvement), but the best scenes come shortly after that. It starts when Fowler has invited Pyle to his apartment under the pretense of asking him to go to dinner. This is really to give a signal that Pyle is going to be out alone, so that some Communists can "talk" to him - and lthough Fowler's assistant Hinh is the one who finally kills Pyle, it's a graceful touch of the storyline that Hinh does so not at all for Fowler, but because he is - on his own time, in his own self - a Communist sympathizer who sees Pyle's support of the third force a major threat, since the third force plans to blame all their destruction on Communists to undercut their credibility/rapport with the people. Fowler and Pyle get into a big fight about what proper action in Vietnam is, and what lengths one should take to "save" Vietnam.... from Communism, from itself. After Pyle says that "but in the long run it will all be worth it," (it meaning the bombs, the deaths) Fowler sends the signal.
Yet right before Pyle steps out with his jovial, "I'll see you soon, Thomas," Fowler very clearly has a moment of doubt, telling him if some complication arises, to come right back to Fowler's place. God, Caine played this moment brilliantly. Of course, Pyle is ambushed and led into a dark alley, and scenes of him running panicked from his attackers are juxtaposed with scenes of Fowler sitting in an outdoor cafe, listening to an American acquaintance, a rabid and heretofore shallow womanizer, sob about his little boy back home, who has polio. "I don't care if he's a cripple," the acquaintance cries, as Pyle runs straight into Hinh's knife, "I just want him to live!" The whole thing is just perfectly rendered. Reading the book I didn't have enough compassion for Pyle, but here I did.
Lacking in The Quiet American is of course Vietnam's say in all of this, but Phuong in my opinion isn't too shabby of a representation of Vietnam, just as Fowler and Pyle are simplified representations of their home countries. Phuong wants to move to London or America and live like "the royal family, actors and actresses," but she is wary of being left behind as so many of her friends have by their French "beaus." Meanwhile, her sister, who I can only conclude is supposed to represent Thailand, is scheming to get her married off and secured. Her actress, Do Thi Hai Yen, did a nice job with her, making Phuong seem much older and wiser and more complicated than either Fowler or Pyle are comfortable admitting*. At the end Fowler gets his desired divorce (not mentioned in the movie) and stays in Vietnam with Phuong, who doesn't get to go to London but at least isn't abandoned, and they make their way clumsily to a very compromised happy ending. And it's one that does come across as happy, in the book and in the movie. Maybe it's because they're both such sympathetic characters. Maybe it's because you do get the sense they genuinely care about each other, however messy and shitty the postcolonial dynamics of their relationship. It's a rare story that manages to be simultaneously allegorical about these huge international issues and at the same time treat its characters like individual humans with individual human wants and needs.
The other thing The Quiet American reminds us of is the fact that "the Vietnam War" was much bigger and began much earlier than the standard American definition, involved a lot more actors and was driven by many, many more motivations than an international Communist conspiracy. It's the kind of stuff you'd think would be a given after all these years of staring at our metaphoric navel when it comes to "Vietnam," but these are conclusions that most Americans have not reached yet.
And due to its political complexity, and the way that ties in with the character's personal lives (much better than say, Farewell to Arms, or more horribly, Madame Butterfly / Miss Saigon, a God awful, hegemony-enforcing storyline which I hate with all the fires of Dis, but that's for another day), this is the kind of book that I would recommend high schoolers read. They can seek out a more thorough novel later. But I was amused to read in wikipedia that "After its publication in the U.S. in 1956, the novel was widely condemned as anti-American. It was criticized by The New Yorker for portraying Americans as murderers, largely based on one scene in which a bomb explodes in a crowd of people." And of course this was an understandable reaction, especially in 1956, when most Americans considered themselves far superior, morally, to imperial Europe. But as Outkast would say, "I know you like to think your shit don't stank, but lean a little bit closer, see, roses really smell like poo." Then we launched Pax Americana and promptly decided to save Vietnam from "a fate worse than death" (Communism) by literally ripping the skin off Vietnamese people's skin.
It's fucking frightening that Greene wrote this book in 1955. And the movie, through an ending montage of headlines (ostensibly written by Fowler) about the ensuing "Vietnam War" as Americans define it, really makes this clear.
*: I make fun of yellow fever as much as anyone else, but Pyle is way worse on that spectrum - he tells Fowler that he's in love with Phuong before he tells Phuong herself - to ask for his permission to take Phuong away to America, because of course she doesn't get a say at all - and when he does tell her he's all, "I've fallen in love with you. I don't expect you to love me right away, but it'll come in time." Oh, Pyle. As you can see, the colonialism imagery in this love triangle is wonderfully pungent.
Operation Enduring Freedom, anyone?
Also, it's apparently Blogging Against/About Colonialism Week here at my livejournal.