Author Nato Thompson explains how art and culture became a weapon aimed at the public - by expanding the influence of the powerful across society, and revealing the deeply emotional dimension to life and politics long concealed by liberal appeals to rationalism - and what Roger Ailes understands about human nature that Plato just couldn't get.
Nato is author of Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life from Melville House.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Alcohol is, among other things, a remedy for some of the symptoms of injustice. When abused properly, alcohol produces a hangover, which can seem more painful than injustice, though injustice is more chronic and intractable. Maybe that's why there are more remedies for hangovers than there are for injustice.
The hangover is a medical condition affecting the brain, mostly, but what affects the brain affects the entire body. The model where every part of the body corresponds to a part of the brain is called "Penfield's homunculus." It is. Look it up. Not coincidentally, Penfield's is also a brand of wine. Look that up. I believe people recognized at some point that when you drank too much Penfield's wine your brain turned into a Penfield's homunculus. I think that is the science of the thing.
There is also a Penfield's homunculus of the butt. The butt and the brain are analogous to each other. For example, they both comprise a pair of lobes. And like the brain, every part of the body has a corresponding region of the buttocks. This is the Gluteus maximal version of reflexology. Basically, the brain is like a peeled buttocks protected inside your skull instead of your pants. And because of the homunculus, it's basically a peeled YOU inside your cranium.
Now, when you drink too much alcohol, you get dehydrated. The lubricating fluids around the brain dry up. So in the morning, your brain scrapes against the inside of you skull, which is very rough. And it chafes. And the brain, being a peeled buttocks, is very tender. Very tender.
So what's a better hangover cure, coffee or more alcohol? Well, coffee is a diuretic, so it will dehydrate you more. And alcohol also dehydrates you. So neither is as good for you as a big greasy breakfast, in my opinion.
But a lot of America disagrees. We part ways on this. The George W Bush administration was like a miserable drunken Neo-conservative night of tearing up the town. We woke up at the end of spring, 2008, all our three trillion dollar surplus gone, we didn't remember how or where we spent it, we'd done things we don't remember to make all our friends hate us, and the global economy which we'd been driving was wrapped around a telephone pole.
So America said to itself, How do we cure this Bush hangover? Let's try coffee first. And Americans like... read more
In 1915 – (101 years ago) – the Swedish-American labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill was executed by firing squad, in the state of Utah, for allegedly having shot and killed a grocer and his son. A jury had convicted Hill on circumstantial evidence, even though eyewitnesses could not identify him in court and the murder weapon was not found. In the weeks before his death, tens of thousands of people around the world campaigned in vain for clemency, convinced that Hill had been convicted mainly for his involvement with the Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the IWW or the Wobblies. The campaigners included labor activists, Mormon dignitaries, the Swedish foreign minister, and even US President Woodrow Wilson. On the day of his death, Hill sent a telegram to IWW leader Bill Haywood. It read, [quote] “I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste time in mourning. Organize.” Joe Hill’s body was shipped from Salt Lake City to Chicago, and he was cremated at Graceland Cemetery. His ashes were divided into hundreds of small packages, mailed to union locals and supporters across the United States and on six continents, with instructions to scatter the ashes in all corners of the world.
In 1984 – (32 years ago) – a major tank farm in San Juanico, Mexico, was rocked by a series of massive explosions that began in early evening and continued well into the next morning, consuming one-third of Mexico City’s supply of LPG, or liquid petroleum gas. The explosions and fire destroyed the tank farm and devastated the surrounding town. Some five to six hundred people died in the inferno, consumed so completely that only two percent of their remains could be recovered afterwards. Another five to seven thousand people suffered major injuries, including severe, life-changing burns. It was the worst LPG disaster in history.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi
Chuck Mertz - After Trump [Robin D.G. Kelley / Boston Review] Trump’s election means more police brutality towards black people [Patrisse Cullors / Guardian] Electing Trump: the moment America laid waste to democracy as we know it [Gary Younge / Guardian] We must rethink globalization, or Trumpism will prevail [Thomas Piketty / Guardian] It was the Democrats' embrace of neoliberalism that won it for Trump [Naomi Klain / Guardian] Why the White Working Class Rebelled: Neoliberalism Is Killing Them (Literally) [Juan Cole / Truthdig]
Jeff Dorchen - Listening to Trump [Christian Parenti / Nonsite]
Brian Foley - President Trump: How and Why... [Jonathan Pie]
Kevan Harris - What Will and Won’t Constrain Trump [Richard Lachmann / Policy Trajectories]
Theron Humiston - Trump: Tribune of Poor White People [J.D. Vance / The American Conservative]
Ed Sutton - White Nationalism Lives and All White People Need to Own It [Radfag] No President [Mark Greif / N+1]
Spencer Thayer - Clintonism the Future? NYT’s Political Science Fiction [Jim Naureckas / FAIR]
Julianne Tveten - Swat Team: The media’s extermination of Bernie Sanders, and real reform [Thomas Frank / Harper's] / A Blueprint for a New Party [Seth Ackerman / Jacobin]
Richard and his fellow editors at Salvage wrote the essay Saturn devours his young: President Trump.
Michelle wrote the article For Millions, the Election was Always Lost for Dissent.
Dr. Sahloul wrote about his experiences in the op-ed I'm a doctor in Chicago. Here's what I saw when I went to help in Aleppo for the Guardian.
Trevor's most recent Guardian op-eds are Obama has handed a surveillance state and war machine to a maniac and If Donald Trump gets his way, his administration will be disastrous.
Micah wrote the essay Two Paths Forward at his website, and the op-ed Protests won't stop Trump. We need a movement that transforms into a party for the Guardian.
Jeff assured me that this piece killed the other night at his LA-based literary competition thing he does.
John wrote the recent article The FBI Isn’t Done With Me for Reader Supported News.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Le Lagrime di San Pietro, the Tears of St. Peter, is a piece of choral music by Orlando di Lasso, composed in 1594. The text is by the Petrarchian poet, Luigi Trasillo, written about thirty-five years early. Wednesday morning I sat in Disney Concert Hall watching singers from the Masters Chorale, under the direction of Peter Sellars, rehearse the piece. I was lucky enough to have a friend among the singers, and it was she who'd invited me.
The singing and staging were sublime, and singing and staging covers just about everything about the piece, so it was a sublime experience. Supertitles appeared above the stage, and the text was also sublime. So imagine yourselves there, as a low-rent bum like myself, occasionally treated to sublime things due to having occasional truck with wealthy or brilliant people – my friend, incidentally, being brilliant rather than wealthy, and thus, despite her relatively humble, in Los Angeles terms at least, condition, seeming to exist solely among the sublime, having the sublime pour out of her, and channeling the sublime to others – and there you are, enveloped in the exquisite for a while before you must rudely collapse back into your rodent's nest of a life, which in many ways you've chosen, albeit you curse your choices several times every day.
You'll remember Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed. He wasn't the brightest of the apostles. Jesus told him beforehand he'd do it, you'd think he'd have been on his toes, he'd see it coming like deja vu and at least try to thwart the prophecy, but never mind. He denied Jesus three times so he wouldn't get into trouble with the authorities. And Jesus looked into Peter's betraying eyes, and that look is the source of Peter's tears. Whenever he wakes up to the crowing of the cock, Peter recalls that look and starts to cry.
It's quite a look. It's like arrows. Jesus' eyes are like bows, and the gaze is arrows. Later the eyes are swift tongues, and Peter's eyes are ears. What is said wordlessly with that gaze is more than even the most canny ear could hear in a hundred years. Describing the recriminations communicated by this look would shatter the listener, says Trasillo, and so sing the singers in some kind of, I guess, Italian.
A couple weeks ago I spoke on this show about the way we derogate and discard moral idealism (as... read more
In 1618 – (398 years ago) – the Elizabethan courtier, politician, soldier, explorer, and poet Sir Walter Raleigh was executed by beheading in the Old Palace Yard of Westminster. In his sixty-five years, Raleigh had become one of the richest and most famous men of his time, having led troops in battle, headed expeditions to the Americas, founded an ill-fated colony in Virginia, and popularized the use of tobacco in England. But he’d also angered the wrong people, including Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, and the Spanish ambassador to England. Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London more than once and spent several years of his life there, but he managed to use that time constructively — not only writing several books, but also conceiving a son. Raleigh’s execution drew a big crowd. When he was shown the ax blade that would kill him, he remarked: “This is a sharp medicine, a physician that will cure all my diseases and miseries.” He then lay down on the scaffold and yelled to the executioner: “Strike, man, strike!” Raleigh’s severed head was given to his wife, who carried it home in a leather bag and kept it in a cupboard until the day she died.
In 1929 – (87 years ago) – a rash of panic selling on the New York Stock Exchange, which had gone on for several days, reached its peak as the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 12 percent of its value in a single day. Known as “Black Tuesday,” it was the worst day of the most severe stock market crash in US history. This failure of capitalism ushered in the Great Depression, which wiped out fortunes, threw millions out of work, and created material deprivation across the industrialized world. The depression would not end until, several years later, some thirty national governments declared war on each other and put their citizens back to work building ships, airplanes, weapons, and equipment for a global bloodbath that would last six years and kill an estimated fifty to eighty million people.
In 1971 – (45 years ago) – the Southern blues-rock guitarist Duane Allman, co-leader of the Allman Brothers Band, who also did session work with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and other soul greats, was riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle through the streets of Macon, Georgia, when he plowed into the end of a flatbed truck that had stopped... read more