Monday, April 29, 2002

Should I blame it on irritable indigestion?

This blogging thing is hard. They expect you to be reasoned and responsible and logical and everything here. Rightfully, Patrick Nielsen Hayden brings me up short.

That seems like a tremendous amount to dump on Ginger Stampley's head...
I don't see where you get off accusing Ginger of any kind of "high horse." Nor am I clear on what you mean to imply when you observe that "people of the 'American' temperament are in the minority in this world." Perhaps so, and so what? We are what we are, with the temperaments we have.
It's all very well to get snarky about "friendly, objective reasonableness," but exactly what attitude has served us better, in this or any world? Aside from simply displaying a big dose of superior attitude, what are you actually proposing?
Forgive my snarkiness, but I _do_ read your blog carefully and give a lot of thought to what you say, and this time I literally can't parse it into anything more coherent than a wish that liberal Americans should shut up.

Patrick is right. I emptied the missile silos at Ginger, and she didn't deserve it. And I was wrong to target her.

But there's something instructive in the spleen - something dreadfully important about the way people think, identify, and respond to challenge. I must explain why I had the superior attitude - why I lost my Enlightenmen, why I broke my cool..

Patrick is right - my attack on Ginger (my October usenet post warped by my Saturday annotations) is nothing more than a bitchy wish that the liberals would shut up, would stop their pointless, exasperating yammering. It hasn't been doing any good. It's been twenty months since the Intifada broke out; now, the contents of the dialogue on the matsav differ little from the self-same discourses and dialogues exchanged way back in the summer of 2000. And that's not entirely surprising, because those who carried on the dialogue always kept certain values and ideas at the forefront of the debate - parties' grievances were justified, but sustained malice was not. The disputants valorized the ideal of compromise in service of higher, humanitarian goals. The shafted Palestinians deserved a state. The screwed-over paranoid Jews deserved peace. All else therefore was detail, quibbling over land and obligation.

The timeline of history demonstrates the virtue of those attitudes - the virtue of the liberal spirit. Patrick is right to say "It's all very well to get snarky about "friendly, objective reasonableness," but exactly what attitude has served us better, in this or any world?"

There is no better attitude - that attitude universally employed is the only one that allows solutions to all the problems of the world for all the people.

I rejected it because over the past twenty months, I have become sick with hatred, fear, loathing, memory, and cant. I don't want to concede the smallest detail any longer to the opposite side. I feel that the balance - the normality and the solvability which the liberal dialogue brought to the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians - needs to be broken. Ginger's, and Patrick's, and Mike Weholt's, et cetera, considerate, careful, and calibrated adjustments of the scale enrage me, because I don't believe in my heart any more that goodwill and compromise can do anything.

It's a species of fanatical despair - the same kind of unthinking heart-hardening that we rightly condemn in the Islamists. For me, the proper solution is much more Greece-Turkey 1922 than Camp David 2000, and I listen to the careful discourse about borders and respect and oppression and human rights, and I feel that it's more a ploy to get my guard down and steal from me advantages won by blood and love, than it is a genuine effort to reach worldly justice.

I know different, but feelings reach up to choke the brain.

This is despair from the inside, folks. Thank you, Patrick. Ginger, I apologize.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Why Ginger Stampley and the host of other liberal well-meaning commentators and observers on the Middle Eastern conflict completely miss the point when they wield their friendly, objective reasonableness..

I posted this to rec.arts.sf.fandom at the end of October. It states my objection to Ginger Stampley's viewpoint.... Some quotes:

One of the problems that must be addressed in the comflict is the common notion on each side (expressed in each side's terms), that their problem is singular, central, and existential. I am a Zionist because of the Holocaust. I daresay most modern Diasporic Jews who are Zionists are Zionists for that reason. Israel's nukes are the greatest totemic comfort that I have (when I feel threatened), that the horrors that were visited on my own family will never, ever be repeated. I think that Dan Kimmel's unfortunate vitriol springs from the same root - the existential fear that Jews in the Diaspora and in the Yishuv have that someone is trying to kill them all again. That someone will always be trying to kill them all, and that only the effective wielding of exclusively Jewish state power can defend against that someone.

Frankly, this is what exercises me about the activists who not only decry the brutality of the occupation but link it to some inherent illegitimacy or permanent-by-nature injustice in the existence of Israel as a Jewish national state. They have a point about cruelty, but they offer no comfort to the practitioners of fear-derived coercion to encourage the deflection or defusing of that cruelty.

The state of Syria is promoting a film called, "the Blood of Zion" about the blood libel. Preachers in the Haram al-Sharif allude to the Protocols (I am not even going to talk about Holocaust denial in the mainstream Arab press). Schools in the PA peddle the same kind of biological, essentialist racism that marked the pedagogy in NS Germany. When these things are mentioned, peace advocates generally pooh-pooh them as details, not central to the real problems. Why? Because it is an unfortunate, distracting detail of the parochial insanities of a powerless, victimized population. That it isn't important because all the problems are material. Because the problems are legal. Because deprivation breeds hate, and generosity conquers deprivation.

This runs right to the heart of the dispute. Michael's plaint that a moralistic, Stunde-Null American attempt at slate-cleaning and starting over is the only thing that will work is very much taken to heart. But as I sit here, I can't possibly communicate the depths of my dread of Arabist and Palestinian nationalist judeophobia. This existential dread is the heart of the mainstream Israeli response to Palestinian violence.

I can't credibly communicate the Palestinian existential critique of the creation of Israel (Dier Yassin, the Naqba, the Occupation, sweet Haifa, al Quds). Hanan Ashrawi, Edward Said, Hassan Qhatib have all done a far better job of describing the animating myths of Palestinian existential dread. Though I have studied it, my emotional inclination is to dismiss its validity and I know intellectually that to be dishonest.

That existential fear must be addressed, comforted, assuaged, and not with Jewish blood and martial victory. The solution to the conflict should allow Jews the luxury of not deriving totemic comfort from the possession of weapons of mass destruction. And I despair that there is no way of getting there from here, and all the goodwill and all the technocratic and grandiose megalomania cannot solve the problem, because the Palestinians will not stop zetzing Israel with bombings and murders and with allusions to Nazism unless they are coerced into stopping.

As Ginger says:

The Israeli-Palestinian situation really bothers me as a blog-topic, which is one of the reasons I don't talk about it much in my own words. It's a topic where everyone is so convinced of the rectitude of their side -- and so many people have a side -- and so convinced that anyone who disagrees with it must also believe a host of morally deficient things that it's hard to discuss it in anything approaching a civilized and objective fashion. There are people I am very find of and people whose work I find otherwise compelling, both in blogdom and elsewhere, whom I will no longer read on Israeli-Palestinian issues because it's just too painful. And so much that should go without saying has to be said because of those operating assumptions people make about folks who disagree with them.

Get off the high horse of "objectivity" and "civilization: - this is the world of politics, fear, and animating myth, and if the lessons of the last eight months are anything to go by, people of the "American" temperament are in the minority in this world. L'esprit du bon volonté and the un-limited acceptance of the wholeness of the other is really very, very rare. The deployment of empathy, respect, and reason is to be lauded. But we must permit ourselves to mourn the failure of the liberal strategy- when it has been proved useless, and not reflexively, robotically, confirm our own self-righteous and smug superiority and reasonableness with all the discretion of a flatworm.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Michael Morgenstern

Fascinating graphic and conceptual artist, doing integrative composition and collage in Photoshop. He is very good, having done illustrations for books, the New Yorker, et cetera.

Also a gentleman and an exhausted new parent. His wife is from my grandmother's hometown. Buy his stuff. Buy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Twelve days a'countin'

I don't think I ought to comment on the news story about the advice the Berlin police administration gave to Jews considering a stroll through the Paris on the Spree. You know, the one where they say that outward signifiers of Jewish faith, like yarmulkes, striemels, long black gabardine coats, beards, et cetera, are very certainly poor fashion sense, and possibly rage-inciting?

You've come a long way, baby!

Ahem. That was in poor taste. I was looking for some pictures online - pictures of German soldiers standing around traditionally garbed rural Polish Jews, making fun of them. Failing that, pictures of Jewish men forced to wear Talleisim while cleaning the streets after Kristallnacht. But the picture of the couple with the signifying stars will do.

Gears grind.

Those effing Germans - their racial-national spirit personified in the police official giving the helpful advice to the Ha-aretz reporter - they just don't get it.

How charming. How marvelous -- Germans have swung between two extremes of aesthetic feeling regarding the externals of their Jews... Paul de Lagarde, a Germanist of the nineteenth century, demanded that the Jews of Germany utterly abjure their identity in order to stay within the land - a harmonious society was a homogeneous society - and since the Jews symbolized distinction and disciplined, malevolent alienness, they had to become German in appearance and spirit, or they had to be dealt with as disease bacilli:

With trichinae and bacilli one does not negotiate, nor are trichinae and bacilli subjected to education; they are exterminated as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.
The failure of Jewish assimilation brought the second aesthetic representational mode of Jewishness - the one that the Nazis imposed - that of forced distinction.

Look's like I found one of the pictures of abuse of traditionally-garbed Jews that I was looking for.

Forced distinction, intended to speed extermination - rather like this:

All in all- that was a remarkably stupid thing for the police bureaucrat to have said.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

A placeholder for bemused rage

comments from the "warblogger watch?"

Inquiry? I am a warblogger? I dislike the term. A lot, actually, because it presumes that the people who work at their online daily hyperlinked journals are militarist warmongers throttling freiheit and demokratie through the pounding on the keyboards - that the expression of opinion is somehow warlike.

I dislike "blog" even more than I dislike "warblog," by the way.

So what brings this on? The fact that I have been linked to by a person named "Eric Blair" who, in a web-log entitled Warblogger Watch characterized my posting on Little Adam Shap-i-ro as 'spewed bile'.

Why, yes, it was rather bilious, wasn't it? It definitely seemed as though I was suffering gastric upset when I was automatically writing my hateful little mots des anti-paix. Yes. That is all that those words were. Poorly digested fragments of food, fulminating and frolicking about in the mindless vacuous echo chamber that is my skull.


So an Orwell wannabe slimed me. I should be in such august company on his web-log - Lileks, Den Beste, Charles Johnson, Glenn Reynolds. Not that I share the majority of their center-right political agenda. But I do like their styles. I'm cleaning my glasses, and sharpening my quills. They are porcupine quills. And I use them for target practise.


Monday, April 08, 2002

Eyekicking style toward clarity and grace

Just when you've gotten used to James Lileks' addictable daily product, ignoring the medium for the message in the daily inquiry to the state of the Gnat - he offers up gems like the following:

Had a horrible thought today: how long until Al-Aqsa sends pregnant women to commit suicide bombings? There’s certainly nothing in their moral construct that would prohibit it. They’re canny enough to know that many Westerners would find this Horribly Symbolic - not the act itself, of course; we’ve digested (and excreted) the concept of female suicide bombers and the attendant carnage. No, many would insist that we regard anew how horrible the situation must be, that women would kill their unborn babies in protest. The inhumanity of the act - the unspeakable atrocity of the act - would be taken up by some as proof of a greater atrocity visited on the Palestinian people. The symbolic denial of a collective Palestian future by the occupation would be equated with the actual denial of the future of an individual Palestinian child. Mind you, no one would support it . . . but.

Always a but.

The men who send these children out to kill know their enemy, which is to say us. They know well that some in the West wouldn’t even consider a Manichean stance unless the name was changed to Personchean - and even then, it’s too simplistic. Some in the West insist on a complex approach to moral inquiry, as if they want an innoculation against uncomfortable truths. Stupid people are full of cerrtainty - why, Yeats said as much. Smart people, wise people, nuanced people are more comfortable analyzing evil than confronting it - as if understanding the history of handgun development will keep the one pointed at your head from firing.

They know well that some in the West wouldn’t even consider a Manichean stance unless the name was changed to Personchean . What a turn of phrase. This is why they pay him the big bucks.

Friday, April 05, 2002

Joseph Aaron has some interesting comments.

I apologize for my terse lack of elegance. I really don't have very much to say right now. I mean, I do have a great deal to say, but I don't quite know how to say it without bursting a few seams.

Example One:

1) I could make a few comments about Adam Shapiro. I know that Gary Farber has, and a bunch of other web-loggers have done the same.

I disagree with Gary. I think Adam Shapiro is a chuckle-headed moron piece of shit, and he should be sanctioned in his community because of his poor political choices. And the parents who enabled same - they should be vehemently condemned. I think they should be publicly embarassed - ostracized. There should be no safe-harbor for self-hating yidlach inane stupidity.

2) I was profoundly disturbed last year by Bush's "election". My responses to that "election" can be googled for on Google's usenet archive. I am not comforted by the way that Bush is handling the current situation. The walking pillar of temporizing demonic flame that is James "Fuck the Jews" Baker III remains a strong influence on Middle Eastern policy in the Department of State and in the government of Bush Minor.

3) My foreboding about the rise of international violent judeophobia on the 25th of March seems completely prophetic, in the light of the events of the last twelve days. And I am completely pissed about what has been happening in France.

I told you that I am angry. Angry Angry Angry. And if I loose my rage, I will totally alienate a whole bunch of people.

Irena Z. is back from Jerusalem tonight. She interviewed Avigdor Lieberman and other leaders of the Yisroel Beiteinu party, and ate pastries bought from a coffee-deli-bakery in Jerusalem hours before it was bombed last week - before the Pesach massacre. She said some interesting things about what's going on, which I will post later.

She edits Vecherniy NY, an American Russian language newspaper headquartered in south Brooklyn..