Overweening Generalist

Monday, August 29, 2016

Occultists, Mystics, Artists, and Asthma

Recently, in the group reading of Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger Vol 1 over at RAWIllumination.net (see this entry), there is a brief discussion about ceremonial magicians and their problems with asthma. MacGregor Mathers, Allan Bennett, Aleister Crowley, and Israel Regardie are mentioned as occultists who had varyingly lengthy bouts with asthma.

In Regardie's book on Crowley, The Eye In The Triangle: An Interpretation of Aleister Crowley, there is a passage about when Allan Bennett moved in with Crowley and taught him a lot about magick:

Bennett must have also taught him the art of skrying in the spirit vision, traveling clairvoyance, investigating symbols, their meanings known or not, so that their true significance could be divined. He must have given Crowley a good training in Qabalistic processes too. There is an essay or two of his remaining which indicates profundity and depth of insight. It was an invaluable training for Crowley -- one too that is at the bottom of the very real skill he came to have in practical occultism. 

However, there was something else that must have had a far-reaching effect on him. And that was bronchial asthma. I imagine the damp, wretched English climate did nothing to alleviate this condition.

                                           Allan Bennett: taught Crowley a lot, severe 
                                           asthmatic, Buddhist, died in 1923.

Regardie mentions (this period with Bennett was around 1898-1900) that the drugs prescribed for asthma then were opium, morphine, chloroform and cocaine. These worked for a while, but then "narcosis" brought an end to a drug's efficacy. In Lawrence Sutin's biography of Crowley, Do What Thou Wilt, Sutin writes that Bennett's asthma was worse than Crowley's and we get this picture of Bennett from Uncle Al:

Allan Bennett was tall, but his sickness had already produced a stoop. His head, crowned with a shock of wild black hair, was intensely noble; the brows, both wide and lofty, overhung indomitable piercing eyes. 

Crowley believed that due to Bennett's asthma, Bennett, "regarded the pleasures of living (and, above all, those of physical love) as diabolical illusions devised by the enemy of mankind in order to trick souls into accepting the curse of existence." -p.66

Yea, I can see how asthma might contribute to such a worldview. Especially when whatever drugs you were using stopped working. Or made things worse.

Crowley's asthma got worse and worse through the first 15 years of the 20th century, and by 1919, when he came back to England after spending time in Unistat during World War I, a doctor prescribed heroin. He remained hooked for the rest of his life, one of the horrible ironies of Crowley's life, which was overwhelmingly about using the powers of the human Will to overcome anything.

In Wilson's book, asthma is discussed as a "chest disease" which some people catch and some are eventually cured. Because of my lifelong "moderate-severe" asthma, which has long been under good control by allopathic medicine, I dispute this picture of asthma, but acknowledge the wheezy sufferings of others quite readily. For example, Crowley smoked, according to Regardie (who for a while was Aleister's personal secretary), "dark perique tobacco by the continuous pipeful, which could only aggravate the already grossly irritated condition of his bronchi." (Regardie, p.114)

Regardie links asthma to stress, and I think he's probably right, but stress seems to make a flare-up of my own asthma less likely. This is one reason why I subscribe to the psycho-biological idea around asthma as a syndrome. Any asthmatic can tell you of conversations with other asthmatics in which a discussion of what your "triggers" are vary wildly. For instance, Regardie assumes the "wretched English climate" made Bennett's asthma worse, but I do really well during cold, damp rainy weeks. When growing up in the San Gabriel Valley part of Los Angeles, the hot, dry Santa Ana winds were menacing and treacherous to me. (ER at 3AM).

So certain climates, pollens, foods, exercises, pets, etc: there's quite a variance among asthmatics. It does appear to be an autoimmune disease, but read the best, most up-to-date technical literature on what happens with with the immune system and you'll quickly realize it's a pretty complex cascade of events. For some "reason" your body thinks it's being invaded by something dangerous, and over-reacts.

I assume this has something to do with epigenetic effects, early exposure to smoke or smog, the individual's microbiome, and the Hygiene Hypothesis probably has something to do with it too.

Regardie, after getting into a tiff with Crowley and splitting with him in 1932, developed asthma, and relates the time he spent with occultist Dion Fortune and her physician-husband, and Regardie's asthma attack, and how they took care of him. Regardie returned to New York and kept a correspondence with an asthmatic English writer interested in the occult, and this was where Regardie learned of the idea "that somehow asthma is an occupational disease of occultists and mystics!"-p.116

By the mid-1930s ephedrine and epinephrine inhalers were available, and these work better than anything else for asthma attacks, but they stimulate the heart too much. Regardie thought he had a heart attack at one point, eventually received Reichian therapy, pronounced himself "cured" and had little problem with asthma after that. Makes me wonder...

Occultist/magician Andrew D. Chumbley died in 2004. Seems like his asthma was as bad as Bennett's.

Robert Anton Wilson (who got polio at age 4, in 1936, and was "cured" by Sister Kenny's method, pronounced as "quack" medicine by the AMA) gave a long interview with Michael Taft in the final decade of his life. I find this section germane:

Taft: Do you think the early experience of polio had much effect on you?

RAW: Yea, I think it underlines the tone of anxiety and paranoia that you find in all of my novels. Basically, all the characters in my novels come to a point where they're convinced the universe has been organized just to destroy them!

This makes a lungful of sense to me. Not that I think asthma is anywheres near the catastrophe of polio, mind you. I do think being a young person, holed up at home sick, becoming fiendishly bookish and spending a lot of time alone with your own imagination? It can have lifelong effects. And there will be drugs...

[Asthma seems to accompany pronounced problems with anxiety, for reasons to be easily guessed at. And we all desire a feeling of agency, but I suspect childhood-into-adulthood debilitations such as autoimmune diseases (and polio) enlarge and distort this desire, possibly leading to a life of mysticism, art, or magick. A third desire that seems to bubble out of this for sombunall asthmatics: a yearn to escape. Okay, okay Dear Reader, you say you've always been perfectly healthy - if "anxious" -  and yet you desire these same "things"? You're in the club with us! Even when we're not suffering miserably, we love company. Mostbunall?]

Regardie says Crowley's "association with Allan (Bennett-OG) had another very important sequel. I have already indicated that he used drugs to assuage his sufferings from asthma. In doing so, he must have discovered that some of them had a distinct effect on the mind. They expanded consciousness, and produced a simulacrum of the mystical or religious experience." -p. 117

In the 1950s-early 1960s, Asthmador could be bought over-the-counter at drug stores. It had datura in it. It had datura's nightshade cousin, belladonna, in it. These, in sufficient doses, were truly hallucinatory. HERE's a trip report. RAW discusses Asthmador, and other nightshade hallucinogenics, in Sex, Drugs and Magick, pp.84-104.

RAW - one of the great scholars of the occult/mystical/hermetic tradition, said that modern occultism had three main roots: Madame Blavatsky, Crowley, and Gerald Gardner, who revived pagan Wicca, which thrives today. Gardner too had asthma.

I've not seen evidence that Blavatsky was asthmatic.

When I was a kid, I looked for lists of famous athletes who were asthmatic. As I got older, I pay attention when I find out certain people had it: Beethoven (coffee was probably the best remedy he had); Vivaldi, Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Leonard Bernstein; Ambrose Bierce; Orson Welles; Jean Gebser. Etc. There are a LOT of us. Proust...

The best writing I've seen on the nightshade/tropane alkaloids is in Dale Pendell's Pharmako/Gnosis, pp.243-264

Tomatoes, potatoes, and hot peppers are also part of the nightshade family. Kinda makes me wonder.
The best history of asthma I've read was Asthma: The Biography, by Mark Jackson
The best book of a modern personal account of living a life with asthma that I've seen is easily Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness, by Tim Brookes
Cannabis is a well-known bronchodilator. It works in a pinch, and because of Reagan's War on Pot, our best gardeners went underground, fiddled with the genetics of cannabis indicas and sativas, and now it's so good you hardly have to inhale much vegetable matter...which in the long run can't possibly be good for the bronchii, can it? At any rate, less is more with the Green Goddess.

                                                arte psicodélica por Bob Campbell

Monday, August 22, 2016

Food/Sex/Death: Edition Beth

Shake and shake
The catsup bottle,
None will come,
And then a lot'll.
-Richard Armour

Food: Tomatoes and other Fruits and Veggies and Tom Robbins
As a kid my mom served up a lot of sliced tomatoes on our sandwiches. I remember she diced tomatoes for the bean tacos that were mostly refried beans and Crisco-based tiny corn tortillas that were prone to disintegration upon first touch.

At least I thought those were tomatoes mom bought from the big corporate grocer. One day, just out of high school, I got a day gig painting a guy's parents' house. As I remember, the guy who hired me seemed to put out an "I'm a low-level mobster" vibe. His parents were very Italian and his father - who I will call "Mario" - didn't speak English, except for the word "fuck." He liked to say "A fuckeen..." a fuckeen something; I could never quite make out the rest. He'd then look at me and laff, like we were two guys sharing a guy moment with him swearing. He could have had no idea about the sort of language my fellow musicians and I were using in the evening.

Anyway, this guy grew his own tomatoes, and his wife - a little firecracker who was always cooking killer-ass italian food and spoke English fluently and was about 4'6" - gave me a big bag of Mario's tomatoes each day before I went home. That first day was a revelation, and you saw it coming with my foreshadowing: it was the first time I ate REAL tomatoes, and crikey! they were ridiculously tasty-good, and constituted a minor variety of religious experience. I had friends over and held out a tomato:

"Here, check this out. Eat this thing."
"Uhh...looks like a very red red tomato to me, what's the catch?"

I said, just walk over to the sink there and eat it plain; if you want to put a little salt on it it's next to the sink. And in moments they knew too: we'd all been had: tomatoes were not the watery vaguely tomato-ish things we'd been led to believe. I now think those fake tomatoes were merely meant for texture. 

And now at farmer's markets all over Unistat you can get these goddess-sent delicious things, if you don't already grow them yourself. What a simple, life-giving, unadulterated joy to eat REAL tomatoes! The "little things in life" can loom large at times.

After that, anytime I went to the corporate grocer and saw the tomatoes all piled up I had to stifle the urge to corner the manager and personally indict him for conspiracy to foist faux tomatoes on the unsuspecting public.

Now, as I said, you can find flavorful tomatoes all over Unistat. It almost cancels out that whole Iran-Contra Scandal, in my spacial hemisphere's moon-logic...

One of our greatest poetic prose writers, Tom Robbins, has been riffing on fruits and vegetables in a psychedelic way throughout his career. Here he is in a slightly more sober mood, commenting on our topic:

"Without apparent guilt or shame, supermarkets from coast to coast regularly post signs reading VINE RIPENED TOMATOES atop produce bins piled high with tomatoes that have never ever experienced the joys of ripening; that, in fact, are hard, usually more pink than red, often streaked with yellow, orange, or even green; and when cut open will reveal pectin deposits of ghostly white. Back when one of those babies last saw a vine, it might have passed for the viridescent apple of Granny Smith's eye. Merchants who through ignorance, indifference, or outright chicanery untruthfully promise 'vine-ripened tomatoes' could and should be prosecuted under truth-in-advertising laws."
-pp.69-70, "Holy Tomato" from Tibetan Peach Pie

Robbins tried LSD in 1963 and soon after quit his day job by "calling in well." He moved to Manhattan looking for the Others, and attended a talk by Timothy Leary at Cooper Union. Afterward Robbins found himself at the same vegetable stand as Leary. Uncle Tim asked Tom Robbins (then a totally unknown writer) "how to tell which brussels sprouts were good." Robbins told Leary to choose the ones that "were smiling."
p.244, Aquarius Revisited, Peter O. Whitmer

Here's Robbins riffing on the ubiquitous blackberry brambles found all over the Pacific Northwest, and even down into my San Francisco Bay Area:

"And the fruit, mustn't forget the fruit. It would nourish the hungry, stabilize the poor. The more enterprising winos could distill their own spirits. Seattle could become the Blackberry Brandy Capital of the World. Tourists would spend millions annually on Seattle blackberry jam. The chefs at the French restaurants would dish up duck in purplish sauces, fill once rained-on noses with the baking aromas of gateau mure de ronce. The whores might become known, affectionately, as blackberry tarts. The Teamsters could try to organize the berry pickers. And in late summer, when the brambles were proliferating madly, growing faster than the human eye can see, the energy of their furious growth could be hooked up to generators that, spinning with blackberry power, could supply electrical current for the entire metropolis. A vegetative utopia, that's what it would be. Seattle, Berry Town, encapsulated, self-sufficient, thriving under a living ceiling, blossoms in its hair, juice on its chin, more blackberries - and more! - in its future. Consider the protection offered. What enemy paratroopers could get through the briars?"
-Still Life With Woodpecker, p.130

It would be easy to index a gaggle of vegetative riffs in the Robbins oeuvre, but I'll leave us with this one:

"Of our nine planets, Saturn is the one that looks like fun. Of our trees, the palm is obviously the stand-up comedian. Among fowl, the jester's cap is worn by the duck. Of our fruits and vegetables, the tomato could play Falstaff, the banana a more slapstick role. As Hamlet- or Macbeth - the beet is cast. In largely vegetarian India, the beet is rarely eaten because its color is suggestive of blood. Out, damned mangel-wurzel."
-Jitterbug Perfume, p.76

Bonus Track: Here's sociologist Lisa Wade on the history of tomatoes being thought of as "vegetables" and not what they "really are" according to botanists: fruit. I like this short article because we're reminded of the longstanding scientific dipshittery of the Unistat Supreme Court, that fruits are like "ovaries," and that social constructionism may be the most important part of what people now seem to dismiss (stupidly) as "postmodernism." My labeling of dipshittery was hasty: the unanimous SCOTUS in the late 19th c were merely basing their opinion on their preferred social construction; scientific classification seems also largely a social invention.

                                     an erotic money-shot from the vegetable world

"Of all sexual aberrations, chastity is the strangest." - Anatole France

Sex: Gender 
Speaking of social construction...

A few months ago I was re-reading an old Robert Benchley book, The Early Worm, from 1927. In one comic essay he begins joking off something he'd read by a German biologist named Max Hartmann (<----curiously paltry Wiki, eh?). Benchley had read that Hartmann's sexual determination studies revealed that no one was purely 100% male or female. The Wiki here says Hartmann was later critical of the Nazis, but some source I neglected to mention in my notes revealed that Hartmann had continued to do research in Germany under the Nazi regime. Anyway, Benchley had a fine time with this idea - Hartmann (as filtered through Benchley) thought that if 60% of your cells were male, then you were "male." And so on. Benchley wondered how this might pertain to the Broadway stage:

Roger: Ever since that night I met you at the dance, my male percentage has been increasing. I used to register 65%. Yesterday in Liggetts I took a test and it was eighty-one.

Mary: You had your heavier overcoat on.

Roger: Please, dear, this is no time for joking. I never was more serious in all my life. And that means only one thing. Haven't you - aren't you - do you register the same as you did?

Mary (looking at her finger-nails): No. I have gone up seven points. But I thought it was because I had cut down on my starches.

...Benchley goes on for a couple of pages here. What a different time. Now, in 2016, if you're a transgender person you are subject to being followed into public restrooms and outed...but that's North Carolina, and I'm sure their battle with sexual fascism will turn out okay.

I do think parts of Unistat are horribly behind. Not just North Carolina, either. The Swedes have been talking about abolishing gender for at least five years now. In Australia you can declare yourself male, female, or "nonspecific," which seems like a start to me. As of early 2013 in Nepal they added a third gender, if only for "ease of legal documents." Indonesia has had a non-binary conception of gender for hundreds of years. Here's a link to a documentary (Two Spirits) about a Navajo "boy" who was also a "girl" and was murdered. The Native American/First Nations had, for probably a thousand years at least, not constructed a gender binary.

Here's an article by a person named Cory Silverberg that discusses how the concepts of "sex" and "gender" are different.

Lately, my own cis-male problem with gender has been with book clubs: for some reason - which, the more I delve into it, seems darker and darker in its implications - men don't "do" book clubs in Unistat. Which I find depressing. I've had my problems in this female-gendered world of book clubs, and it's really touchy; I don't know how to address it. I've been forced out of book clubs in which I was the only male, and I was convinced that nothing I'd done was sexist, obnoxious, or unpleasant in any way. Right now I'm in one, and it's in a very progressive community, and the group is fairly large, and there are often two or three other guys at the monthly meetings, and the women seem accepting of us. So far. I'm sorta paranoid. But what's so overwhelmingly female about reading books and discussing them? I found a short piece by Jesse Singal - a male - who nailed it pretty well for me, and I sent it to the group email for my current book club, saying "this is sorta 'meta' but Singal speaks for me here," and wrote that I was open to hearing the opinions of anyone who cared to chime in. So far one female answered and was as open-minded and sweet about males expressing themselves emotionally without having to fear being labeled as gay or whatever. I assume other guys in the group identify as gay, but I don't know and I honestly don't care: I'm just glad they're there. I like reading books as a group and discussing them; it's very pleasurable. I ask open questions, I listen, I give opinions, I try to get a laff or two. The Man Book Club referred/linked to in Singal's article is something I do not want to join: too toxic in its Unistat social construction of male-ness, cis-male gendered. I get that already, everywhere.

This seems like a huge problem to me, but I don't think it will capture much attention space for a long while, as we seem much more taken by our relatively new (and felicitous, to me) acceptance of homosexuality, and we're now grappling with transgendered people.

What a utopia if people could just openly be as they feel they "are" and not be subject to violence or discrimination! I know I've had my mind expanded by my personal experiences with gay males, lesbians, the professed and apparently bisexual, and a couple of times I have experienced the mild and bracing shock that I'm currently talking to someone who has transitioned from one sex to another...or wanted me to think they had.

It has always been like this. We're making progress, but it's too slow.

"If I could drop dead right now, I'd be the happiest man alive!" - Samuel Goldwyn

I was recently reading in Clifford Pickover's delightful Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen, about the some of the more bizarre ideas of the great utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Get a load of this:

"Bentham had a peculiar interest in the rituals of death. For example, to Bentham, cemeteries and burials were a waste of money. Instead, he suggested that embalmed corpses be mounted upright along stately drives and busy thoroughfares. I can just imagine his pleasure at seeing corpses planted like palm trees along Santa Monica Boulevard or affixed to lampposts along New York's Fifth Avenue, for as far as his eye could see."

Pickover reminds us we can all go visit University College in London and see Bentham's lifelike corpse and mummified head, but warns us that his artificial eyes "stare at you like Linda Blair's in The Exorcist." 
-Strange Brains, Pickover, p.103

Hey, you out there: don't go gently into that good night. Good night!
PS: I had forgotten I'd planned to do 22 of these Food/Sex/Death thingies. I hardly ever look at the stats for this blog, but the other day, stoned out of my wig, I checked to see who was reading me at that moment. It appeared someone in Japan (really?) was reading the sole Food/Sex/Death spew I did way back in December 2013. So I tried another. Hey, better late than never to spew again, no? Wot?

                                 まばゆいばかりのボビー・キャンベルによっ て当

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Intellectuals in the (late?) Anthropocene

Why "late?": Global warming, antibiotic resistance, global terror, income inequality, acceleration of AI, rapidly ephemeralized synthetic biological techniques, nuke proliferation. I'm not all that worried about an errant asteroid. I'm worried about sociopaths in power, and a species-wide inequality in knowledge and empathy towards The Other...

Three articles caught my eye in the past week. I'll link to them, give my idio-precis and comments. Why? Because I care about both of us.

1. ) L.D. Burnett in Chronicle of Higher Education: "Holding On To What Makes Us Human," an Adjunct who writes books about academia; Burnett implores us to defend the Humanities in the face of runaway "transferrable skills" and the cost/benefit reality of universities now. Screw "critical thinking" (although that's valuable, of course): we must find a way of articulating why knowledge of literature/history/philosophy etc is inherently valuable, despite all that's transpired in the epoch of NeoLiberalism. She wants arguments that set aside money and jobs issues. And I say: good luck with that, although I'm with you in spirit, Ms. Burnett.

Her keynote (fair warning: I do not have perfect pitch) seems to be that we must resist perishing, but if we must perish, we should go down resisting. At first I thought she meant "we" adjuncts. Then I realized she seemed a tad more cosmopolitan: we humans. I bet you're on board with her here with me, no?

If I sound like a dick here, I apologize. I'm just as caught up in the morass of being a Knower and struggling to pay the bills as she is, probably more so. I know Adjunct jobs suck ass as far as pay goes (usually), but I don't even get to do that. I'm a freelancer. There's a really heavy downside to that, apart from making your own hours and staying up all night taking notes in your books. Weed helps. It certainly helps.

2.) Michael Lind, a prolific and fairly heavyweight intellectual who notes he's been "accused" of being a "public intellectual," claims that his own in-group of intellectuals are "freaks." Lind is not doing the Chomsky thing of calling out his fellow intellectuals for facilitating and sucking up to State power. He's merely saying he and his kind: academics, think tank experts, opinion journalists, and downwardly-mobile free-spirited bohemians? They really are "freaks" and out of touch with ordinary values. This last sub-class of Bohemians constitute a group who are living off (largely) inherited bourgeois-begotten capital in order to be revolutionaries, avant-garde writers, or artists.

Lind asserts that "populists" who've always argued intellectuals are out of touch are basically correct. He notes that non-intellectuals are/were wrong about the gold standard, the single tax and "other issues" (I wish he'd have gone into much greater detail here, as I think it's very many other issues, but that's just me), but populists are right: intellectuals are freaks and weirdoes who are out of touch with mainstream values.

Intellectuals live in large cities and their judgment is distorted by their borderlessness (because scholarship is inherently borderless). Proles finish high school and go into manual labor in what's now the "service sector." They work within 18 miles of where their mothers live and depend on family networks for economic support and child care. Intellectuals often defer marriage and children in order to further their career goals, and they move all over the place, as academia is found throughout the continent. Their notions about a borderless world as a moral and political ideal are, says Lind, "stupid and lazy" because there's no world-wide infrastructure to keep a welfare state equitably distributed throughout the world. (I see this as a worthy utopian goal, but Lind keeps mum about this: "stupid and lazy.") Their childlessness and deferred marriages make them "unusually individualistic"...Lind would like to see that studied more and so would I.

Talk about unrestricted immigration feeds nationalist and neo-fascist and right-wing populist political movements, and we're seeing that as I type, in many places. Also, it feeds the well-entrenched meme among the unwashed that the UN is taking over their lives, incipient fears of "lost sovereignty" (a classic divide-and-conquer/misdirection move by the Ruling Class), not to mention the Bilderbergers-bugaboo. (Enough food and clean water for Burundi? Tyranny!)

Here's another major problem with intellectuals: they see the problem of inequality and their solution is...be more like me!: More and better education is the mantra. (As long as Obama has been Prez he's repeated this old workhorse. And I'm embarrassed to admit that on more than one occasion I've yelled at him through the teevee screen, "For what?")

Lind says this idea of more education is natural, but "stupid and lazy." He's a conscience for his own class of freaks! How come "more education" isn't a good idea? Automation and the service sector job market is really all there is. He doesn't mention Adjuncts, and it's easy to conjure reasons why. Janitors with Master's degrees? Sad. He does say unionization might be a good idea for service-sector workers. A restriction of low-wage immigration (I don't see this happening). A higher minimum-wage is mentioned.

I read Lind's short piece three times and I still can't discern the level of wryness in it. If you read the piece he exempts those intellectuals in the "hard sciences." Gee, I wonder why?

A final idea: it's often floated out that one or two years of national service could be  a moral and social balancer. Lind says: stupid idea, because the proles already have it hard enough without doing two years of unpaid work. But then he gets off his best riff: But: "it might not hurt" for professional intellectuals to face "a year or two working in a shopping mall, hotel, hospital, or warehouse."

My Wry-o-Meter was sparking and giving off noxious fumes on that last bit. That Michael Lind!

As a general comment on Lind, some dialectical sparks from Alvin Gouldner, who is writing about the history and alienation of intellectuals, first from the Old Regime of inherited landed aristocracy, and then the bourgeoisie, this latter group being at first allied with the intellectuals against the Old Regime and helped by their cultural capital...until the bourgeoisie came into ascendancy. Gouldner refers to both the technical intelligentsia and humanistic intellectuals as The New Class:

The New Class believes its high culture represents the greatest achievement of the human race, the deepest ancient wisdom and the most advanced modern scientific knowledge. It believes that these contribute to the welfare and wealth of the race, and that they should receive correspondingly greater rewards. The New Class believes that the world should be governed by those possessing superior competence, wisdom and science - that is, themselves. The Platonic Complex, the dream of the philosopher king with which Western philosophy begins, is the deepest wish-fulfillment fantasy of the New Class. But they look around and see that the men who employ them do not begin to understand the simplest aspects of their technical specialties, and the politicians who rule them are, in Edmund Wilson's words, "unique in having managed to be corrupt, uncultivated, and incompetent all at once."
-p.65, The Future of Intellectuals and the Rise of the New Class (1979), Alvin Gouldner, PhD
3.) "Power, Powerlessness, Thinking and Future," by French philosopher Bernard Stiegler, from about 10 months ago. Stiegler notes that intellectuals have been steeped in the analysis of power relations since M. Foucault, but that thinking about this should also highlight powerlessness too, and maybe more now than ever, since intellectuals seem to not understand that techne has accelerated faster than they could conceptualize, and they are now proles themselves. He attacks those intellectuals who claim the term "right wing intellectual" is an impossibility or oxymoron, because, well, Freud, Heidegger, Niklas Luhmann, Maurice Blanchot, and many others. And deeper: there was thinking before the French Revolution and "Left" vs. "Right" and we now need to reconceptualize what it means to think, now that almost all of us are proles.

Stiegler thinks it's unfortunate that the term "intellectual" was ever used as a noun, when it's an adjective. Further, the term activates neurological opposition between "manual workers" and the types Gouldner is talking about, above. And yet throughout the article you notice Stiegler uses "intellectuals" as a term for their class. That's because it's ensconced in culture. And Michael Lind's presuppositions about his own class seem to hold sway, eh?

Here's where it gets interesting for me: Stiegler claims, based on Marx and Engels, that "proletarianism" now effects not only most of us, but all forms of knowledge. Futhermore, it's a "widespread generalization of entropic behavior" since the Anthropocene commenced and we began to time-bind like mad. Proletarianization destructs knowledge: how to live, do and conceptualize. And intellectuals seem oblivious that this is what has happened to them. They are now much closer to Lind's janitors than any sort of Gouldner's Platonic philosopher kings, no doubt.

Stiegler wants to clarify: Marx and Engels thought that proletarians denote not a state of poverty so much as a loss of knowledge...knowledge about how to harness negentropy to conceptualize our way out of this mess. Rather than doing this, they "adopt attitudes and poses." A culture of knowledge construction and new ideas has been run out of town by consumer capitalism, based on "behavioral prescriptions produced by marketing." In the weakest part of his fascinating article, Stiegler uses Alan Greenspan's testimony about why he didn't see the 2008 crash coming. It seems there were a few hundred better examples, but perhaps this one suffices...

So, let's stop with labeling "left"and "right" thinking and replace it with thinking, which he seems to align with negentropy, the notion that, though entropy is The Law, its negative reciprocal is creating novel order and structure amidst chaos. (What Korzybski called "time-binding'.) The acceleration of technology has lapped our social systems of law, education, political organizations and forms of knowledge. We will always be late, it seems. Our only hope is realizing we're all proles now, begin thinking from within casino economies and marketing and short-term R&D "disruptions." We need not become Luddites and reject technology, and Stiegler cites Evgeny Morozov's article (presumably HERE although Stiegler merely claims this "evokes") as a way into a new politics, in which it's essential to re-think "value."

Morozov seems like a start to me, too, but I'd also cite John Dewey's 1920 book Reconstruction in Philosophy as a text that argued the Platonic ideal of the "spectatorial view" of knowledge had it backwards: no intellectual need fool herself into believing that just because she doesn't get her hands dirty that she truly knows, and that those who do things with their hands (mechanics, plumbers, craftspeople of every stripe) don't "know" anything. Workers know quite a lot, and so the fuck what if it's not Hegel or organic chemistry: it's knowledge that produces immediate material results in the sensory/sensual world. Dewey's book disabused me of these notions about the primacy of spectatorial/armchair views of knowledge long ago, and this text seems woefully underrated to me.

Earlier, Marx had expressed a dislike for the opposition of Techne and Logos. Bernard Stiegler reminds us here that, "Knowledge is always constituted by technics, which in so doing always constitutes a social relation." (italics in original)

Also, and more practically, look at contemporaries like Douglas Rushkoff and his marvelous recent book, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots. Here are thinkers who can get us started thinking ourselves...out of our proletarian situation. There are many, many more...

Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred 71 years ago this past week or so. Soon after that Dark Moment, a very smart individual noted that everything had changed...save for our "way of thinking."

                                             Tueuses graphiques par Bobby Campbell