From Utopia to Escape

As we have continued to roam and comb through the endlessly suggestive writings of Zygmunt Bauman, we came across an interview in which he describes the dissolution of the ancient utopian longing for a different sort of social world into the more egocentric compulsion to escape.

The images are paintings from the otherworldly imagination of Dorothea Tanning:

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ENDGAME

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A VERY HAPPY PICTURE

A VERY HAPPY PICTURE

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CIVILIZING INFLUENCE

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Of Rubble and a Duck

Today, we offer a brief montage of statements from Zygmunt Bauman and Gottfried Helnwein, regarding their experiences of despair and dislocation within the chaos surrounding World War II and the Holocaust; then accepting the responsibility to take imaginary flight from those black holes, in search of a new philosophy and a new art. First Bauman:

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THE CHILD DREAMS

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And now Helnwein:

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DISASTERS OF WAR 3

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DISASTERS OF WAR 19

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IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT

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Finally, we give the last stroke to the creator of Donald Duck, Carl Barks:

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What We Are

EN ROUTE TO BILDERBERG IN THE YEAR 2100

A DP correspondent has alerted us to some provocative comments from the historian Yuval Noah Harari, holding forth in the aftermath of his grand (if thinly supported) overview of human evolutionary biology, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.  Interviewed by the science editor of The Telegraph, Professor Harari speaks with the breathless vacuity of a jester-prophet enthralled by his own spiel, as he cheerfully describes a world where the rich live forever and the poor “die out”:

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What could possibly go wrong? The good professor then pumps up that rather distended, tired thought balloon regarding the present displacement of God by technology:

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In the happy valley that Harari appears to admire if not endorse, imagination fires our evolution and then consumes it, as “master storytellers” bend the masses to their self-serving fictions:

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ALL POWER TO THE IMAGINATION!

WE THINK WE KNOW HOW TO READ

Harari describes himself elsewhere as a realist; the best we can conjure in response to such realism comes in the form of a little poem by William Bronk, from which we borrow today’s title:

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Eternity Through the Stars

We are indebted to Chris Hedges for reminding us of an extraordinary text written by Auguste Blanqui while in prison for various revolutionary activities: L’éternité par les astres.

Writing during an age like our own, where assembled ranks of mandarins regularly confused the expansion of scientific knowledge and technical expertise with “progress”, Blanqui understood that there is nothing new beneath the sun, and that the possibility for barbarism remains endlessly and infinitely present in every second, and within every cell of our existence.

Excerpts below, with images from the book Cosmigraphics.

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The transition from a sunspot’s umbra to penumbra, revealing changes in magnetic field. The interface between a sunspot's umbra (dark center) and penumbra (lighter outer region) shows a complex structure with narrow, almost horizontal (lighter to white) filaments embedded in a background having a more vertical (darker to black) magnetic field. Farther out, extended patches of horizontal field dominate. For the first time, NCAR scientists and colleagues have modeled this complex structure in a comprehensive 3D computer simulation, giving scientists their first glimpse below the visible surface to understand the underlying physical processes.

 

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A Visceral Heresy

We are regular readers of Chris Hedges here at DP; we found his most recent essay of particular interest. The images are from the wise intuitive mind of Brian Dettmer: two of his extraordinary “recycled” encyclopedias, that reveal a knowledge re-viscerated.

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The deformations of the high priests of modernity spill forth in a relentless rhythm that seems to us to accelerate with each passing day. The plodding conscious mind creates delusions that gallop: headless horsemen. Yet fear not, for now comes a surgeon named Sergio Canavero and his dream to transplant a human head.


Embattled

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Now comes a comprehensive report on sexual assault in the US military, issued by Human Rights Watch. For DP readers on this Memorial Day, we excerpt the summary below, together with two charts that capture the heart of the story.

We also honor brave young women like Samantha Jarrett, who have spoken out publicly regarding their own experiences, despite substantial risks to their professional and personal lives.

As much of America performs the annual ritual of commemorating our participation in the world’s wars, let us not forget survivors of the “invisible war” that takes place every day and night against our own service men and women.

 

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The Sneaky Whisper

In search of a deeper understanding of MLK’s thinking regarding the complex relationship between a philosophical commitment to non-violence and eruptions of riots as a language of the unheard, we have been re-reading theologian Walter Brueggemann’s Truth Speaks to Power. We strongly recommend the book for close reading; below, a few excerpts, interwoven with images from recent events in Baltimore.

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A RESILIENT REMINDER

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SOMETHING MAXIMAL

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THE SUMMONS TO ANSWER

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We also take note of an extraordinary statement from Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby as reported by Amy Goodman, a statement that resonates with the sneaky whisper and the subverting force of truth:

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Negative Capability

We are indebted to John Gray, writing in his beautifully provocative new book The Soul of the Marionette, for reminding us of an endlessly suggestive aside penned by John Keats, in a letter to his brothers.

The most frequently cited phrase is highlighted below. Yet there are other noteworthy ideas, even in this abbreviated version of the letter: his keen understanding of the intensity of art; the distinction between humor and wit, and the frequent collapse of the latter into snobbery; the subtle parsing of dispute and disquisition; and the heightening of overcome with obliterate. Ah, Keats, what more might you have given us, had you lived even to the age of thirty?

The image between the excerpts: Saturnia, Eastward Crossing, by Antonio Dias, whose work radiates the sort of achievement that Keats isolates; the ability to be at home among the mysteries and uncertainties, beyond the reach of fact and reason.

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We shall have more to say about John Gray’s Soul of the Marionette in weeks to come, though we leave soon on one of our periodic peregrinations along the Appalachian Trail, among Civil War ghosts. Until the next, then, we leave DP readers with an offering from DP corresponding poet Jon Swan, with a nod to another entity – Emily –  who was no stranger to the Penetralium of mystery:

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Language of the Unheard

Seeking deeper understanding of recent events in Baltimore and elsewhere, beyond the shallow and incompetent coverage pumped out like wastewater by the mainstream media, we turn to the extraordinarily prescient speech by Martin Luther King, delivered at Stanford University on April 14, 1967.

The entire speech, with useful commentary, is available here; excerpts below, with italics added by DP for emphasis. Images are by Kara Walker.

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The time to end the “appalling silence” is NOW.


Frequent Wind

In April of 1975, Saigon finally “fell” to the Viet Cong insurgency. Here at DP, we have spent the past several days reviewing eyewitness accounts of the final evacuation, code-named Operation Frequent Wind. From the large chorus of voices, one in particular stands out: that of the distinguished Australian journalist John Pilger.

To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of events that still haunt the political philosophy of American exceptionalism, we excerpt Pilger’s account below; we also include several of the many images taken from those events, images that float like debris from a maritime catastrophe through the oceans of the web:

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Those who promoted and profited from the Vietnam war predicted a blood bath following the US departure; yet the blood bath had already happened, at places like Chau Doe and My Lai.


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