fragments of an attempted writing.


The thing about pomo is that it is so damn cute.  Puppy dogs and fairies cute.

These people and their suburban existentialist faux crises.   With colored sprinkles and icing on top.


Hazel Dickens died on the 22nd of this month.  R.I.P.  The voices of my maternal grandparents' WVA are now mostly silent.

happy birthday, comrade...



Happy birthday V.I.L.


In 1933, Rivera was commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller to do a mural for the lobby of the RCA Building at New York’s Rockefeller Center. Rivera, a leftist, was well known for his grand murals replete with sinewy laborers in all forms of working poses. He had just finished a large scale mural with a similar theme for the Detroit Museum of Art sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, and despite the bias for proletarian vistas, the liberal, art loving Rockefellers decided their center should have a Rivera mural too.



Rivera though added a portrait of Lenin in the mural and this was over the top for Nelson Rockefeller. Despite his wife Abby’s lament, who collected Riveras, Rockefeller confronted the artist demanding he remove the offending Lenin. Rivera, already paid for the mural, refused, was summarily fired, and the mural destroyed. Rivera would have his revenge by recreating the same mural back in Mexico with Lenin in his glory and the patriarch John D. Rockefeller inserted elsewhere drinking martini at the expense of the toiling masses.


Not sure I agree with the phrasing of everything above, but that description of this painting is found here.


A couple more images of the same:


Diego Rivera mural





Another description of the same:



John D. and Nelson Rockefeller destroyed a large painting they had themselves commissioned in 1932 from the famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera for their new Rockefeller Center building. Rivera called the painting “Man at the Crossroads,” and he included in the choices facing workers during the Depression a portrait of Lenin. When told he must remove the portrait, he refused, saying the commissioners knew his leftist record when they asked him to do the painting. He said he would balance the portrait with one of Lincoln. After the Rockefellers destroyed his art work in 1934, he recreated it in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, adding a portrait of John D. Rockefeller in a nightclub. The fracas inspired the best satirical poem of the century, by E. B. White. Can anyone match this for the dumb Maine governor?
      I Paint What I See
     [A Ballad of Artistic Integrity]
What do you paint, when you paint on a wall?”
      Said John D.’s grandson Nelson.
“Do you paint just anything there at all?
“Will there be any doves, or a tree in fall?
“Or a hunting scene, like an English hall?”
      “I paint what I see,” said Rivera
“What are the colors you use when you paint?”
      Said John D.’s grandson Nelson.
“Do you use any red in the beard of a saint?
“If you do, is it terribly red, or faint?
“Do you use any blue? Is it Prussian?”
      “I paint what I paint,” said Rivera
Whose is that head that I see on my wall?”
      Said John D.’s grandson Nelson.
“Is it anyone’s head whom we know at all?
“A Rensselaer or a Saltonstall?
“Is it Franklin D.? Is it Mordaunt Hall?
“Or is it the head of a Russian?” 
      “I paint what I think,” said Rivera.
I paint what I paint, I paint what I see,
     “I paint what I think,” said Rivera
“And the thing that is dearest in life to me
“In a bourgeois hall is integrity;
     However…
“I’ll take out a couple of people drinkin’
“And put in a picture of Abraham Lincoln.
“I could even give you McCormick’s reaper
“And still not make my art much cheaper.
“But the head of Lenin has got to stay
“Or my friends will give me the bird today,
“The bird, the bird, forever.”
It’s not good taste in a man like me,”
      Said John D.s grandson Nelson,
“To question an artist’s integrity
“Or mention a practical thing like a fee.
“But I know what I like to a large degree.
      “Though art I hate to hamper,
“For twenty-one thousand conservative bucks
“You painted a radical. I say shucks,
      “I never could rent the offices—
        “The capitalistic offices.
“For this, as you know, is a public hall,
“And people want doves, or a tree in fall,
“And though your art I dislike to hamper,
“I owe a 
little to God and Gramper.
     “And after all,
     “It’s 
my wall.”
      “We’ll see if it is,” said Rivera.
- from here


A more full view of the painting, titled New Frontiers:


Diego Rivera's repainted mural, New Frontiers, originally painted on the Rockefeller Centre in New York in 1933


You will, of course, recognize the above painting from the cover of Fredric Jameson's book on dialectic.  
....reminds me that I am a “Zen-rite” Catholic, in that I like quaint rituals and trinkets that look cool but don’t mean anything. I find them oddly comforting, like prayer wheels and hiring Sicilian grandmothers to wail away during a wake (sort of the predecessor of modern canned laughter on sitcoms). I find the need for “spiritual nourishment” utterly obscene, self-centered, and entirely perverted. You should be addicted to your duty, to your child’s smile, to your wife’s embrace, and a good meal. Anything else smacks of narcissism. What the hell else do you want in life? If you are reading this, you are probably way more “blessed” than 99.999% of all humanity that has lived so far.


- Arturo, from here.


My dad pointed out to me that Ventura seems to be striking a Lenin-like pose on this website banner.  Hmmm.

I was in MN when Ventura beat two major party centrists to become MN governor.  It is interesting to me that he is trying to frame himself in a Leftist/Progressive light these days.  When he was gov his populism was all about popular gross consumption.  He fought to do such things as end ski mobile restrictions in state parks so that the SUV driving ski mobiling hordes from the suburbs could make even more noise and pollute even more in MN's wilderness areas.  The guy is a complete poser, in the manner that perhaps only a former professional wrestler could be.  Still, if he can educate some of the working classes with regard to the corporate takeover of America, good for him.

Speaking of Lenin, his birthday is this Friday - don't forget to make plans.
Much the same goes for ethnic matters. In the 1920s and 30s, practically the only men and women to be found preaching racial equality were communists. Most anticolonial movements were inspired by Marxism. The antisocialist thinker Ludwig von Mises described socialism as "the most powerful reform movement that history has ever known, the first ideological trend not limited to a section of mankind but supported by people of all races, nations, religions, and civilizations." Marx, who knew his history rather better, might have reminded von Mises of Christianity, but the point remains forceful. As for the environment, Marx astonishingly prefigured our own Green politics. Nature, and the need to regard it as an ally rather than an antagonist, was one of his constant preoccupations.


- from In Praise of Marx by Terry Eagleton in The Chronicle Review.


The article is a bit Pollyanna but who doesn't take their intellectual porn in the morning?  Green politics is so often infected by bourgeois liberalism (the idea that Greening the economy is actually Green and the economic forces behind that idea, and the promotion of Green entrepreneurship, etc.), but hey, if Eagleton is suggesting that the only possible means of arriving at anything akin to an actual Green economy is the destruction of the bourgeoisie, then, yeah, I'd agree. 


Thinking of how Marx knew his history "better" got me to thinking about how Marx knew his literature "better."  For those of you interested in the question of Marx's literary prowess, don't forget that Verso is reprinting Karl Marx and World Literature by S.S. Prawer which is due out this July.  Francis Wheen in his little book on Capital notes Marx's literary mind and literary eccentricities, and I think this quality of Marx is too often ignored when considering the man's work.  There is something of a quixotic irony in many of Marx's near ubiquitous literary references.  Where you might expect macabre in Marx's literary references you often find a light comedic spriteliness, and vice versa.  But more of that later, when I actually have time to blog...


If only the masses paid better attention to popular media.....
through the human pipe dream …


Roger Ebert, the movie critic whose name I can barely even stand, in his typically bankrupt mocking tone lashes out at the remake of the movie Willard with a simple objection which efficiently debunks Deleuze and Guattari's philosophical implications of becoming-rat in the movie Willard. Ebert objects to something obvious and trivial which Deleuze and Guattari refuse to acknowledge: Rats can’t be marshaled around, they are unpredictable, they are characterized by indiscriminate promiscuity and unbound contingency of the pest. Becoming-rat only happens in the fantasies of this Doctor Dolittle of pest control. You never know what a rat is going to do next, objects Ebert, not to mention a pack of rats. Rats' ferocity in generating pestilential contingency is unsurpassable, it is as if nature has finally found a compact enforcer and representative who doesn’t mind being irreverent even to nature, betraying human’s desires and boring itself through the buttocks of God no matter how he positions himself. Rats are endowed with a militant verve for adaptability; they can adapt to any hierarchical order only to turn it to an apparatus of criminal complicity. If god evades all definitions and situates itself beyond all attributes of beings in the manner of the neo-Platonistic God, rats are still capable of sneaking behind him at night to penetrate him with painless efficiency. It is not the question of posture and sitting right, it is all a matter of surprise from behind. They can break into your air-conditioned bourgeoisie dreams by taking the pipes and romping around in the vents. If you build schizophrenic cities they adapt to the paranoid dimensions, if you secure a paranoid house they spread schizophrenically in every direction. They are only mobilized according to an absolute contingency which is marked by double betrayal; simultaneously working against the rectifying movement of social machines and betraying the fluid derangements of a formless nature by dwelling and adapting to hierarchical orders and dimensions when it is necessary. The question is how human desire can afford such treacherous contingency whose sole ambition whether in life or death is complicity or alliance through betrayal. The apex of this treachery to which human desire cannot latch unless within scenarios entailing the elimination of human – or in Willard’s case, ‘ripping human narcissism along with its economical desires and secret repressions into shreds’ – is the image of the sinking infested ship in the middle ages: After consuming the ship to its last morsel of food and the last sailor, rats leave the ship in a mass migration which always heralds the imminent sinking of the vessel. Sink your ship, burn your boats, eat your house, that’s the only way forward.

- read the rest here.

a building that i love in Memphis.

























I do plan to get back to writing in May.  School is too burdensome at the moment.