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April 2007

X-Ray Blowjobs, Robot Bowels

Some time ago, before openDemocracy’s discussion boards became a train wreck, I posted a few links to the x-ray imagery of Belgian artist, Wim Delvoye. A reader of that epic oD thread suggested I post Delvoye’s handiwork here, for the benefit of a more... discerning audience. Ever the aesthete, I’m only too happy to oblige. The x-rays of kissing are, I think, rather sweet, if a little continental, though other examples from this series are perhaps an acquired taste and not for the faint-hearted.

Xray_kissing  Xray_blowjob  Xray_blowjob_2  Xray_tongues

More of Delvoye’s, um, penetrating insights can be found here. Unfortunately, Delvoye’s official website is rather low in content and features only the artist’s tattooed pigs, in live and stuffed varieties. (According to one critic, Delvoye has “astounded the art world with masterpieces that test the limits of art appreciation.” We’re also assured that Delvoye's Art Farm project, which boasts 24 tattooed pigs, “satirically mirrors the society we live in.”) Tragically, the website omits what is surely Delvoye’s greatest artistic triumph: his robotic bowel, Cloaca. This bio-mechanical installation – apparently a “highly pungent comment on the folly of human achievement” - mimics the human digestive tract, from French fries to mechanically extruded faeces. This aesthetic wonder is performed in a “relatively odour-free manner” and recorded in riveting detail. Collectors will be mortified to learn the end product of that exhibit has, alas, sold out.

More here.

If this is your first visit, feel free to roam the archive and browse the Greatest Hits. Patronage and gratuities always welcome.

Friday Ephemera

The year 2000, as envisioned in 1900. Chocolate manufacturer predicts weather control machines, personal airships, houses moved by train. Sounds about right. // How snakes eat larger snakes, step by step. With clips. (H/T, Maggie’s Farm) // Car wash offers extras, apparently. // Your tax dollars at work. Click to enlarge. // Via 1+1=3, Kamiya Satoshi’s hardcore origami. // Slightly less ambitious: Make your own Optimus Prime. // Cassetteboy. On room service and getting a good straight seam. Sketchy details here and here. “Retro salad, yeah?” // Self-flagellation not a good idea shock. // Iranian women dress ‘immodestly’; mass arrests ensue. More here. “Women who appear in public like decadent models endanger the security and dignity of young men.” Photos of dangerous and immodest women here, here and here. // In unrelated news… The Iranian brain drain continues. // Israel’s ‘modesty buses’. Piety and indignation in abundance. Intelligence, not so much. // Orangutans play video games, matching sounds with animals using lips and feet. Yet to master Tetris, but gaining on us slowly. // First 3D images of the Sun. 3D glasses sold separately. // Kryptonite discovered in Serbia. White and powdery, not green and radioactive. Criminal fraternity livid. // Spider-Man 3 budget redefines phrase “shitload of money.” // Christopher Butcher ponders superhero genitalia, or the lack thereof. More mulling here. // Captain America arrested with joint and burrito stuffed in tights. //

Prejudice Revisited

I recently pointed out how the Guardian’s deputy comment editor, Joseph Harker, has realised that if the meaning of certain words doesn’t support his argument or broad political stance then he can simply change what those words mean until they do support that argument, at least in dim light. Thus, Mr Harker can argue that “all white people are racist” while claiming that he can’t be a racist for saying so, on the basis that racism is, apparently, an exclusively Caucasian vice. Clearly, if one can redefine words to suit an existing argument, rather than rethink one’s argument to fit the meaning of words - or indeed reality – then this affords enormous opportunity, at least rhetorically.

It’s pretty clear from this unilateral definition that Harker isn’t against racism per se. Attentive readers will notice he’s not arguing for a reciprocal moral principle – i.e. that people shouldn’t be prejudged on the basis of their colour or country of origin. Instead, what we see is an expression of PC bigotry and contorted righteousness. It’s not too difficult to see how this linguistic contortion fits with certain kinds of role-play – pretentious victimhood on the one hand and narcissistic guilt fantasies on the other. Perpetuating this outlook might be politically useful to some leftist ideologues and opportunist pressure groups, but it isn’t clear how believing “all white people are racist” helps anyone see further than the colour of a person’s skin.

Continue reading "Prejudice Revisited" »

The Right Kind of Prejudice

In response to this article, one of our regulars, Clazy, highlighted the words of Lee Jasper, the “Director for Equalities” for London’s Islamist-hugging mayor, Ken Livingstone. Jasper has argued that “you have to treat people differently to treat them equally.” Clazy regards this as “pure Orwell.” Rightly so, I think.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Jasper or Livingstone that the multicultural ‘identity politics’ of which they’re such enthusiasts can actually exacerbate suspicion and resentment. If some notional “communities” are being treated differently and being encouraged to cultivate difference for social or political leverage, then getting past a person’s skin colour or place or origin seems more difficult, not less. One is continually being reminded of how different a person is, or thinks he ought to be. A cynic might point out that the racial grievance industry - and the various commentators and lobbyists who benefit from it - depends on people being preoccupied by the colour of a person’s skin. And therefore, one might suppose, there’s an incentive to make sure lots of people are.

Scott Burgess has pointed out that some commentators can apparently detect racism in “homeopathic concentrations.” This paranormal sensitivity is, I think, pretty much inevitable among some race industry professionals. The threshold of grievance has to be lowered continually in order to justify further crusading – and, of course, to justify status, funding, media attention, etc. Eventually, left unchecked, this hypersensitivity can reach the level of paranoia, perpetuating the attitudes it claims to oppose.

Continue reading "The Right Kind of Prejudice" »

Courtesy is Not a Tip

Carnal Reason points out some neglected merits of courtesy. 

“My nine year old daughter asked why she should be polite to someone who has been rude to her. Courtesy is not a tip handed out to people who deserve it. Courtesy is not about being nice; it is not even about other people. Courtesy is a discipline with the goal of mental clarity under emotional stress. As long as anger is not allowed to displace manners, the mind remains in control. The polite man remains rational. The man who rages becomes unthinking, and thereby stupid.”

Yes, I rather like that.

From Above

Readers based in or around New York may be interested in Michael Light’s latest exhibition at the Hosfelt Gallery, 531 W. 36th Street. Bookworks runs from May 18th until June 30th and features an ongoing series of aerial photography studies, from the New Jersey wetlands and urban Los Angeles to copper mining in Utah (site of the world’s largest man-made hole).

Michael_light_bellmans_creek_marsh  Michael_light_barneys_canyon_gold_m  Michael_light_garfield_stack  Michael_light_evergreen_container_t

I interviewed Michael Light for Eye magazine and the piece can be read in full here.

Friday Ephemera

Japan’s leading toilet manufacturer says electric bidets “may catch fire.” Appliance in question features “pulsating massage spray, power dryer, deodorizing filter and Tornado Wash flush.” Burn treatment upgrade forthcoming, presumably. (H/T, Protein Wisdom) // North Korean Socialist Realist Art. Proletariat glorified, tractors worshipped. Realism aspect somewhat doubtful. // Unhinged race activist Dr Kamau Kambon proposes a final solution. Exterminating white folk will save the world, apparently. // Luggage labels. Lots of them. // Hotdoll. “The sex doll for dogs.” I kid you not. (H/T, Ace) // Via Mr Eugenides, an alternative to the previous item… Neuticles! “Allow your pet to retain his natural look and self esteem. With Neuticles, it’s like nothing ever changed!” Choose your preferred size and firmness. // Via Cox & Forkum, the 1940s political cartoons of Dr Seuss. // The Hollywood Animation Archive. From Uncle Remus to Playboy. // Rapatronic images of early atomic tests. First ten millionth of a second. Eerie and compelling. // Dave Pressler’s Toy Explosion. The Endorphins are fun, as is Tummy, the Brave Little Stomach. // Japanese Hyper Rescue Robot. Lifts cars, clears snow. // The Ragtime Ephemeralist. Cut a rug to the Honolulu Cake Walk and other bygone ditties. // Repeat after me, “All cultures are equal.” // When post-it notes attack. // Apollo Mission multimedia archive. Sights and sounds, Buzz and Neil. Onboard recordings, mishaps, Nixon calls long distance. // Earth and Moon, to scale. // William The Shat Shatner sings Common People. A post-ironic triumph, methinks. // And finally, to class the joint up a little… Mr Dean Martin

Still Peddling

Thanks to everyone who emailed links and comments in response to the Peddling Stupidity article about Carolyn Guertin and her postmodern ‘scholarship’. One item in particular, posted at Carnal Reason, caught my attention. I’m going to have to quote myself to provide a little context. It’s shameful, I know, but bear with me. Regarding PoMo prose, I wrote:

“The intention behind such wilfully unintelligible text is, it seems, not to invite thought or reward it, but to repel and discourage it. This is done by exhausting the reader’s efforts to comprehend and reducing him to a state of demoralised dishonesty, whereby absurd and vacuous statements are repeated and endorsed, regardless of incomprehension and for fear of appearing stupid. By publicly endorsing vacuity, and making great claims in its name, the unsuspecting student is thus painted into a corner and any subsequent rethinking entails an intolerable loss of face and credibility.”

Carnal Reason highlights this passage, then teases out its implications:

“To corrupt a man, get him to tell lies in public. Make him espouse what he does not believe. To make sure he does not believe what he espouses, make what he espouses unintelligible.”

This point is illustrated with an extract from an interview with Theodore Dalrymple. Dalrymple is talking about PC censorship and learned dishonesty, but the parallels with Guertin, and with politicised PoMo generally, shouldn’t be too hard to fathom:

“Political correctness is Communist propaganda writ small. In my study of Communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of Communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect, and is intended to.”

Dalrymple gives good interview and the piece is worth reading in full.

Vacuity and Consensus

In response to this article, some readers have been discussing PoMo politics and its various “trickle-down” effects. Readers who’ve been following that discussion may be interested in some points made by Fabian Tassano over at his blog. Tassano addresses the broader subject of leftist bias in academia and the creeping censorship that follows:

“The larger part of academia has become obsessed with jargon and formalism, at the expense of meaningful content. An academic’s principal options in fields such as economics, psychology or sociology are now (1) become a number-cruncher (do tedious empirical research with plenty of highly technical statistical analysis, much of which is likely to be questionable), or (2) generate pseudo-theory of a kind which reproduces the currently fashionable terminology. In either case, taking care to say nothing that conflicts with received wisdom. In fields such as literature or philosophy, there is only option (2). The high level of technicality and referencing typically masks the triviality — or absence — of genuine content.

The purpose of academia has changed from producing real insights to generating reinforcement for the preferred world view… It should be obvious by now, to anyone who cares, that the principle of free speech is being gradually eroded in the West. Either by straightforward ditching, or — more subtly — by redefining it in ways designed to legitimise the prohibition of ideologically incorrect viewpoints. For example, not long ago an editor at the Index on Censorship admonished us for being too literalist about the issue: ‘People shouldn’t think that the Index is against censorship on principle. It may have been so in its radical youth, but it is now as concerned with fighting hate speech as protecting free speech.’ (Rohan Jayasekera, commenting about the murder of Theo van Gogh.)

…Where we get dissident research being done at all, it is — inevitably — funded by bodies with links to commerce and/or right wing politics, since those are the only organisations with an incentive to challenge the il-liberal consensus. This is used by the mainstream both (a) to prove that there isn't a restriction on what research gets done, and (b) to discredit that research.”

The article can be read in full here. Tassano’s book, Mediocracy, may also be of interest.

Premature Detonation

The recent article on Carolyn Guertin and her postmodern ‘scholarship’ continues to attract some interesting comments, and the broader subject may be worth revisiting. Thanks to all those who’ve made contributions towards the upkeep of this site. Much appreciated. With luck, I’ll soon be penning this from a bejewelled armchair, in a castle made of gold. Meanwhile, a little more grim absurdity seems in order. Via Jawa, I stumbled across this clip of Jeff Dunham and Achmed. It made me laugh, quite a lot. I think it’s the eyebrows that did it. I do hope finding this funny doesn’t make me a bad person. Answers on a postcard, please.

And, for not dissimilar reasons, this may also amuse.