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Stating It Plain and Simple

So where’s my left future? I can see the self-destructive bent of capitalism; much better writers than me could over-flow library shelves on this point alone. I don’t know how I can be a real radical leftist; I’ve experienced the horrors of capitalism, but I also like cars and big slap speaker cabinets and tasty caffeinated teas easily ordered from drive –thru diners.

 And though I may not be singular or a unique genius, I do love distance from other people no matter how much pain it causes me ( this is not masochism). Hatred is a different, momentary (and thankfully short-lived) feeling for me; the fact that I’ve wanted revenge against hard to extremely hard-right people after Anders Brievik, after Charlottesville and the various church shootings, is balanced by knowing that the lone figure of me acting on such a desire for revenge would hurt the cause I support more than some reactionary enemy (which I’ve mostly concocted in my mind from online news sources).

I suppose this battle within my head and heart led to me acting out with destructive drug use more than any need to soothe residual hangovers from my early 20’s. It’s been unclear for the most part, but this blog project has been about killing the reactionary mind inside me as substitute for outward acts of vengeance. I know I’ll never succeed fully in battling the rampant monstrosity of human thought and behavior; it’s only an approximation of a better vision of life.

This does not make me Buddhist or otherwise religious. I can accept Croce’s anti-metaphysical claims about philosophy and science as replacement and continuation of religion, but I love him for the poetry in his writing . Perhaps I’ve gone too far in asserting his statements as a new religion ( “With each new prophecy a little bit of evil enters the world” , the most succinct phrase on any of those ambitions. )

Offline, I’ve turned from writing horror to sci-fi. I feel no need to disguise (rather than harness and temper) my politics in fiction writing; trashy sci-fi is better with that human (or otherwise) element and I want to take it more seriously while having fun writing. And perhaps horror writers suffering from anhedonic depression are more qualified to write in that genre. I now feel too non-anhedonic, and won’t continue that literary path.

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The Haunted Lagoon

The wampas creatures held that the swamp belonged to all swamp things. The first man was passing across the fens singing and trembling aside fen blade leaves with no dismay through his long legs ran blood beneath his ragged troubadour’s cowl. The traveler looked to the beetling roots– above the sky.

The traveler gazed at the fen. Among the elm scar bushes the sound of wooden roller pins creaked. The flowing gray locks of an ancient visage from the abandoned car mill ; drank all the blood this fen can teem with does I. She hovered and the thin yellowed sheets flowed with menace. A long thin break in the boat oar serving the rollers and illusion. And who wishes to travel my bog and fen without the price of one kettle of blood?

She lifted up a rusted kettle. The traveler ran stubby fingers stained with strong drink and long nights in cold wild places. it looks that you’ve all the blood this fen can teem with , to run through your rollers and broil in yr course? And this fen may be yours considering of traveler’s rights? My long haul through mountain fen and broad leafed vale, careening.

Writing update

This novel writing November is heading into the final innings and I’ve nearly completed another final draft of a sci-fi novel I started years ago. I’m frowning and tapping incessantly at the keyboard, I’m probably about to be kicked out of my parent’s house where they’ve allowed me to go through recovery (and been rewarded with an irritating madman novel writer for their generosity, so it’ll be for the best I find my way somewhere else).

As for other things I’ve written here, I’ve archived the posts where I’m too obviously imitating other writers ( wordpress is only a writer’s workshop if it’s made into one, and I’ll assume that most readers don’t want to read my writing exercises). Over the years I’ve stolen from theatrical culture and gay culture to pad my untutored artistic* leavings. But how could I lift something I couldn’t ever carry off? It’s like a jowly dog stealing smartphones in his drooly mouth; he won’t be able to trade it in for something he’d rather have but he can succeed in slopping some drool over the chic handheld.

Now a dog might be able to steal a car, provided it was lank and long legged enough to reach the pedals. But he’s going to be distracted by all kinds of things: other cars, cute girl bits on dogs outside, dog shit in the street, on someone’s doorstep, well mostly dog shit but you get the idea– dogs aren’t racing cars and are smarter for not trying. When I think of the musicians and writers I claimed some kind of faint similarity or kinship to, I can see that I must’ve been tripping banana crackers indeed. One thing about being a performative type person and not taking the stage for a long time, is that everything can get ugly.

*should I even call what I do art? Maybe that’s for others, to call it art, all I produce are meta-comments on other people’s art , trashy novels and a post-rock song every 3 years to half a decade.

Reverse Reactions and Cognitive Biases

It’s easy to reach the level of obsessive madness contending with various strains of Ignatius Reilly thinking when I’ve had that mentality for a long time, and re-enforced by ignoring political thought and engagement for years like I did after Occupy shorted out and faded away.  Not having much political ability or knowledge, I’d rather not become the red opposite of those Trots who went hard-conservative like Christopher Hitchens (eloquent and witty as he often was). I can settle for being a smarter liberal.

Cognitive biases still operate and distort my vision of the world. In my everyday life I tend to display and act on stereotypes towards Chinese and Mediterranean peoples, regardless of any intake of their cuisines and my drooling sexist admiration of the women from those fair lands.

“Categorization leads to the perception of in-groups and out-groups, groupsto which we do and do not belong, respectively. In turn, in-group versusout-group distinctions spawn several common biases…People also display an out-grouphomogeneity bias . They generally view members of out-groups as being moresimilar to one another than are members of in-groups (Bauer, 2001).
In other words, we perceive that “they are all alike” but recognize that “we are diverse”. (Passer, Smith 2007).

Does this apply to members of self-selected political groupings? I’d say less so than the everyday prejudice that we’re all familiar with. When it involves political extension of the everyday cognitive bias, and several further levels of focus on elevating common prejudice to an absolute ideal, that sort of thinking is on its way to turning up in mismatched clothes reeking the nadir of beer runs.

I’ll be the first to admit that censorious people have existed and continue to exist on the modern American left, but when far-right to trad-reactionary people want to publicly strut about declaring the Civil Rights Act a grievous mistake and drum up support for the summary execution of suppressed minorities,what did they expect, free luxurious rides throughout North America? Feelings of visceral disgust course through my body when I hear people once close to me state such notions against the democracy protecting gains of the mid-20th century. As for the conspiracy minded side of the culture I have no idea what many online conspiracy theorists are theorizing about, it usually sounds like bad trip “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” mash-ups to me.

Let’s assume that Americans by and large regardless of their skin color or native language probably don’t want the same welfare state that was built in Scandinavian countries during the late 20th century. The full democracy brand of thought is at least as rooted in American tradition as Burke (and Pat Buchanan’s) iron-hefty respect for prejudice and old standards.

I don’t have to search through the red swamps of any net-forum to find a copy of Paine’s Agrarian Justice ( its on an official .gov website with the slightly amusing tagline This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current policies or procedures. ).

Arrival of the Plant People

I have little qualifications here, but this is interesting; when I’m spotted buying crates of green tea extract with Breaking Bad shopping lists stuffed in my disheveled pants then some mad science will be the result; thank Hypatia and the Muses that trained scientists are on it instead:

“Researchers suggest that the cardiovascular benefit of drinking tea my be expressed by an anti-oxidant.”

The studies don’t look any more conclusive today than what ended up in pop-sci books years ago but does that mean there’s nothing there? I always notice a smooth, panoramic effect on my attention and relaxation that doesn’t feel “induced” the way sedatives do when I drink green tea.

“Many efforts have been carried out to identify dietary strategies or micro-nutrients able to prevent or at least attenuate the exercise-induced muscle damage and stress. Unfortunately most studies have failed to show protection, and at the present time data supporting the protective effect of micro-nutrients, as antioxidant vitamins, are weak and trivial.

This review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3742027/ focuses on those polyphenols, present in the plant kingdom, that have been recently suggested to exert some positive effects on exercise-induced muscle damage and oxidative stress. ”

From a mid 90’s healthfood book:

“Flavanoids in tea are thought to contribute to reduced risk, but the underlying mechanism is not known.”

But who said that science isn’t laborious and often inconclusive; that’d describe most of scientific history. Weren’t the steam engine and Tesla’s discoveries both sudden, unexpected near-flukes building on avenues long thought worthless for exploration?

“Joe Vinson is a biochemist at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania who studies antioxidants and food. Vinson says the results of the study are important but not conclusive.

A rigorous long-term clinical trial would be needed, he says, to solidly establish cause and effect.”
https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6062929

And a much more detailed study from 2003:
https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/133/10/3285S/4687618

Croce & Dadaism (updated)

Croce was born into a strongly Catholic Italian family but lost his faith after his mother died in an earthquake. Now after years of concealing the horrendous the Church hierarchy is taken down for its misdeeds. Priest jokes are nearly as terrible so I’ll leave ’em out.

The stance I find myself in most is nihilist depression, or its rage deranged opposite. When something once cherished is revealed as empty it’s almost inevitable that complete destruction becomes attractive. My problem with Dada’s rage against all previous forms of culture and inquiry is the question ( “does this have any coherent meaning?”) becomes its own answer, and a solidified answer ( “no, there can’t be any real meaning anywhere!”) which goes on to ignore counter-evidence.

While the decadents of an earlier time sought release from all moral restraint in their “art for art’s sake” method, Croce surveyed  that and other movements and pulled some Rubens paintings & modern sculptures ( Duchamp’s unknown sculptor brother!) from the old masters. He never denied the movement its value as a (then) new style; he questioned its embrace of immorality for art’s sake by seeing the artist’s path as a deeply human one and impossible to totally sever from the ethical.

Perhaps it’s a life-stage of cultural movements to continue in un-death like one of Poe’s haunted buildings. I sometimes feel that we post-post moderns are also picking our way among the tumbled and jumbled cities of the past (as people with more knowledge surveying culture, science and post-modern convulsions have written), finding pieces here and there to cobble into things that are useful or aesthetic.

Do I have an answer? I’m averse to proposing them by temperament and maybe gradual learning. I will post things I’ve found to give genuine insight past my own technical difficulties as time allows.

*did he actually do this? He doesn’t discuss painting much, he’s mostly uses literature as examples.

Some notes:

<blockquote>

“They have yielded their place to the aesthetic-logical expressions. When we reach the second step we have left the first (aesthetic intuition).”

The error begins when we try to (derive) the expression from the concept, and find in the thing substituted the laws of (what it substitutes). ..”In consequence (of moving from first to second step “unobserved”) , when we declare we are standing on the first step when we are standing on the second.” This error is known as the theory of artistic and literary classes.

</blockquote>

Benedetto Croce, “Aesthetic as Science of Expression” 

“Art is the expression of impressions, not the expression of expression”.

“Art differs not from ordinary intuition in the intensive, but the extensive…the difference is quantitative and “indifferent to philosophy”

Croce emphasized the “intuitive-aesthetic” mode as being one of four Domains of the Human Spirit( and draws the distinctions and overlapping connections with the other modes: the practical-economic, logical-scientific and ethical-moral in his books on Domains of the Human Spirit.

“Finally, Eric R. Kandel seems to think that the biology of aesthetics will help make aesthetics more objective. But:
When it comes to aesthetics, however, the subjective impressions are the objective facts, to which we have full access without knowing a thing about neurons. A neurological analysis of our experience of art tells us as little about the meaning of that experience as a chemical analysis of the pigments of a painting would tell us about the painting’s meaning. It is not scientifically false, but it is aesthetically pointless. It is an imperious category mistake.

When you study the neuroscience of aesthetics, you are studying neither aesthetics nor art; likewise, studying the neuroscience of how we do mathematics will never yield discoveries in the field of mathematics. Such confusions seem to be our contemporary version of the error of psychologism.”
 — Wes Alwan see also

Lab studies provide an approximation of precise effects on human cognition in neuroscience research. The problem here may be the notion that diagrams of various changes in brain activity can tell us anything about what these states mean. Give me one of Baudelaire’s mud spattered beggars or fortune tellers for comprehension of the non-rational ( not regular “understanding” ).

“Intuitive knowledge is (always expressed as art) and intuitive knowledge is not always art”.

“The limits of the expressions and intuitions that are called art, as opposed to those that are vulgarly called not-art, are empirical and impossible to define.”

The fussy distinctions often drawn by Frankfurt School over what “real art” means are critiqued themselves by Croce’s overall idea of the “intuition” or imaginative faculty–

“Again (and this is the last and perhaps the most important
of all the general negations that it suits me to recall in
relation to this matter), with the definition of art as
intuition, we deny that it has the character of conceptual
knowledge.

Conceptual knowledge, in its true form, which
is the philosophical, is always realistic, aiming at
establishing reality against unreality, or at reducing
unreality by including it in reality as a subordinate
moment of reality itself. ”

“It
aims at claiming the autonomy of this more simple and
elementary form of knowledge, which has been compared
to the dream (the dream, and not the sleep) of the
theoretic life, in respect to which philosophy would be the
waking.”


Benedetto Croce, “Aesthetic as Science of Expression”
Benedetto Croce, “Essence of Aesthetic”