Happy New Year + some book recommendations

Happy 2024! Green also means eternally fecund in its way, much like this day, much like you yourself. You are ready to fruit!

I take this moment to wish you well and to recommend some recent readings (though of course they should be required). In lieu of takes or reviews, some digressions on how I came to them or vice versa.

Re-visioning Psychology, by James Hillman. The late JH is/was a close friend of a close friend, so one-degree and all. But I had never read him. Representative sample:

We sin against imagination whenever we ask an image for its meaning, requiring that images be translated into concepts. The coiled snake in the corner cannot be translated into my fear, my sexuality, or my mother-complex without killing the snake. We do not hear music, touch sculpture, or read stories with meaning in mind, but for the sake of the imagination. Though art may hide a multitude of psychological ignorances, at least it does not ask images what they mean. Interpretations and even amplifications of images, including the whole analytical kit of symbolic dictionaries and ethnological parallels, too often become instruments of allegory. Rather than vivifying the imagination by connecting our conceptual intellects with the images of dreams and fantasies, they exchange the image for commentary on it or digest of it. And these interpretations forget too that they are themselves fantasies induced by the image, no more meaningful than the image itself.

Upon the death of Tom Verlaine one year ago, Patti Smith wrote a touching and very generous remembrance/eulogy/essay about him and their relationship. Avoid your heroes, yes, but checkout the obits. Smith shared some terrific authors she learned of or read with Verlaine, some which were unknown or little known to me but contiguous of the tight circle I know well, of which I tracked down

The Blind Owl, by Sadegh Hedayat

Love with a Few Hairs, Mohammed Mrabet

Laziness in the Fertile Valley, Albert Cossery

Other honorable mentions:

Trouble in Mind, a play by Alice Childress

Answer to Job, by Carl Jung

Ask the Dust, John Fante

Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee

So… push yourself into your greatness in 2024. Find a way. Fight the fascists. Punch the nazis. Vote like women’s healthcare depends on it (it does) and like we’re about to turn a corner on climate change (we could be), all of which and more are very much in the balance and under threat. Do it and be just.

Thanks for reading. Always free.



The Big Shrug

Hurrah for the rabid ferrets!

Though what feeds them and oils the treadmill that powers the cage is detailed in this Guardian piece by Carl Bernstein. Cartoon-esque media baron Rupert Murdoch really did offer to let Fox News and the WSJ become a political party for David Petraeus and it’s all on tape. Not sure what’s worse – that he thought he could do this, that they pulled the trigger and sent an emissary to make the offer, or that nobody really cares. Might be a three-way tie:

Thus in the spring of 2011 – less than 10 weeks before Murdoch’s centrality to the hacking and politician-buying scandal enveloping his British newspapers was definitively revealed – Fox News’ inventor and president, Roger Ailes, dispatched an emissary to Afghanistan to urge Petraeus to turn down President Obama’s expected offer to become CIA director and, instead, run for the Republican nomination for president, with promises of being bankrolled by Murdoch. Ailes himself would resign as president of Fox News and run the campaign, according to the conversation between Petraeus and the emissary, K T McFarland, a Fox News on-air defense “analyst” and former spear carrier for national security principals in three Republican administrations.

All this was revealed in a tape recording of Petraeus’s meeting with McFarland obtained by Bob Woodward, whose account of their discussion, accompanied online by audio of the tape, was published in the Washington Post – distressingly, in its style section, and not on page one, where it belonged – and, under the style logo, online on December 3.

Indeed, almost as dismaying as Ailes’ and Murdoch’s disdain for an independent and truly free and honest press, and as remarkable as the obsequious eagerness of their messenger to convey their extraordinary presidential draft and promise of on-air Fox support to Petraeus, has been the ho-hum response to the story by the American press and the country’s political establishment, whether out of fear of Murdoch, Ailes and Fox – or, perhaps, lack of surprise at Murdoch’s, Ailes’ and Fox’s contempt for decent journalistic values or a transparent electoral process.

The tone of the media’s reaction was set from the beginning by the Post’s own tin-eared treatment of this huge story: relegating it, like any other juicy tidbit of inside-the-beltway media gossip, to the section of the newspaper and its website that focuses on entertainment, gossip, cultural and personality-driven news, instead of the front page.

“Bob had a great scoop, a buzzy media story that made it perfect for Style. It didn’t have the broader import that would justify A1,” Liz Spayd, the Post’s managing editor, told Politico when asked why the story appeared in the style section.

Handling the Scandal-ing

You might think throwing money at problems is one one to do it. Turns out: not so much.

Litigation can have an annealing effect on companies, forcing them to re-examine the way they do business. But as it was, the full extent and villainy of the hacking was never known because the News Corporation paid serious money to make sure it stayed that way.

And the money the company reportedly paid out to hacking victims is chicken feed compared with what it has spent trying to paper over the tactics of News America in a series of lawsuits filed by smaller competitors in the United States.

The thing is, they really didn’t want any ‘annealing’ effects on company practices to take effect after this or any other scandal. Not interested. There is a disconnect – one of many – between the perception that major corporate entities care about doing business honestly, even making huge money – honestly – and… reality. Which is that they don’t care about it at all. We’re not talking about their advertising and what it says about them. You can do it. But that’s not their game. Murdoch wasn’t interested; and if he had a private moment today, would probably say he still isn’t interested in running his or any company (or country, for that matter) honestly. What would be the point?

Watch this story; it will continue to evolve.

update: Suing his mother?

Talking about the Whether

It’s funny to talk about journalists giving money.

First, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann was indefinitely suspended when the Web site Politico revealed that Olbermann had donated to three Democratic candidates.

Politico’s post included this statement from MSNBC President Phil Griffith: “I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.” 

Now, the Web site The Wrap is reporting that Fox News Channel host   Sean Hannity and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough have also donated to candidates.

As the site reports: “This year, Hannity gave $5,000 to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) political PAC and $4,800 to New York Republican John Gomez’s unsuccessful congressional race.”

I found the idea of Murdoch giving the republicans a $1 million donation kind of silly – and a lot redundant. I mean, the in-kind contribution of a single-minded, 24-hour cable puke-funnel would appear to be the balance, if not tip it. Tacking on a measly Mil for them to buy new forks after you’ve already cooked the food and set the table seems a little… crass and patronizing, not that the party much cares if they’re seen as lackeys. Just wanna be seen. Thanks for playing.

So, per the above report, Olbermann’s problem wasn’t a matter of whether he gave, but the “to three democratic candidates” part.

Right now, and over the past thirty years, it has been corporations that have loosened most of the conventional, if increasingly Orwellian, memes into society. Most prevailing ideas about health, wealth management, insurance, risk, taste and comfort have originated as some flavor of perception-shaping effort on behalf of a product or service. And we’ve greatly accepted them into our nostalgias, tagging the years and decades of our lives with brand names and theme park visits like blog posts. This has, of course, been extended into, some might argue it has in essence become, the political arena. I recommend a halt to these proceedings. Olbermann could’ve really made news with hearty contributions to O’Donnell, Angle and Rand Paul. Then the corporate ideologues wouldn’t know what to think – hippies and CEOs would both be scratching their heads, wondering who the sucker is at the table, who’s mark of the double-play wacko. That’s the kind of confusion that needs to be sewn.

Damn – I thought I had a semi-free weekend. Now I’ve got to White-paper my new de-consulting firm: Tricks of the Tirade.