Paradise of Storm

Month: March, 2016

Is Ryan Seacrest the Erection of God?

I think of my great swan with his crazy motions,

Ridiculous, sublime, like a man in exile,

Relentlessly gnawed by longing! and then of you.”

-Charles Baudelaire

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You wake up squinting under the blinding effluvium, the jasmine-scented hand lotions overwhelming your dream state, the ocean breeze of Malibu shoving its way into the white marble living room, the long alabaster silk curtains blowing in and gently caressing your glossy buttocks. The couch is, of course, made from endangered hippopotamus leather, dyed bright orange. A bowl of plastic peaches and bananas are arranged in stellifariously kinky positions. A six-foot portrait of pop radio host turned reality tv producer, Ryan Seacrest, looms above the fireplace, and Don’t Stop Believin’ is playin’ softly somewhere—in the surround sound perhaps. You look around, still half-awake, not entirely sure what all this is about. Then a meaty little Guatemalan maid dressed up as a Sugar Plum Fairy walks into the room, her huge feathered wings knocking over a vase of pearl-plated dildos, smashing them to the ground; she ignores the mess completely and greets you with a crystalline bowl of M&M’s, except instead of the colored chocolates they are a blazing assortment of muscle-relaxers, anti-depressants, opioids, and sleeping pills. She smiles, and then opens her lipless mouth. “A tribal offering from our leader, mister Ryan Seacrest himself,” she says. You take a handful and pop them into your mouth, and spend the next 30 minutes thoughtlessly scrolling through photos of your ex-girlfriends, when the maid returns. “Mister Ryan Seacrest will see you now. You must wear this when in his presence.” She hands you a pair of leather pants and suspenders, with the dozens of miniature faces of the entire cast of Keeping up with the Kardashians (a show Seacrest created and produces, as well as the spin-offs Khloe and Lamar, Kourtney and Kim Take New York, and of course Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami) printed all over them, every one of Bruce’s face crossed out with a red marker and Caitlyn’s printed even larger next to it. You walk across the living room and push open the white marble door, and there is a roundtable of the entire cast. Caitlyn is sitting with her legs spread, her cryogenized shriveling raisin face barely held together with Elmer’s glue and Onabotulinumtoxin, her neck skin hanging loosely like a chicken’s gizzard. She drums the tips of her long red fingernails against the glass covering of the walnut table, staring at you blankly. Kim Kardashian has disappeared completely into her own ass; she is just one huge glistening ass sitting in the leather chair, an amorphous sphere, she is used more as a steatopygous scrying stone for Kanye and company to peer into. You look up at the wall, and Ryan Seacrest is a flickering hologram, a static two-dimensional image talking to everybody—yet nobody—about cooking utensils, then nail polish, then dead cats. Then he turns his gaze and stares directly at you, his eyes piercingly familiar. “I want to make a television series of you,” he booms over the loud speakers. “You will become a black woman who’s only desire is to be spanked by Donald Trump. We’ll call the show Margaret gets the Donald. You will be famous. You will be wretched and hideous, but you’ll be incredibly famous.” You turn and flex in the mirror, and you smile.

The question remains: Exactly who is Ryan Seacrest? Of course, he’s the radio and television personality, but who is he beyond the coruscating blush of personality? In Adorno’s Minima Moralia, he writes, “The self, its guiding idea and its a priori object, has always, under its scrutiny, been rendered at the same time non-existent.” The ego, the superego, and the id, are dressed in the womb and then shoved into the florescent screaming world, growing unwittingly into a child, then an adult, then a drooling automaton, all with varying degrees of morality, decency, and libidinal dandyism, until death finally sweeps us into the curdled pile of wet ash. But Ryan Seacrest is not actually human. He is perhaps something closer to Baudrillard’s “hyperreality of God,” a turgid simulation of a man, or beast, pretending to be a god. He is not even a thing, but rather a personality. He’s an abstract filament of the psyche itself that has manifested into a man on your television screen, asking movie stars what it’s like to be human. It’s obvious that Ryan Seacrest was the voice inside Nietzsche’s head, forcing him to toss himself onto the horse in Turin. He is the complete and final annihilation of the Self. Adorno continues “…that which posits itself as ‘I’ is indeed mere prejudice, an ideological hypostasization of the abstract centres of domination, criticism of which demands the removal of the ideology of ‘personality.’” But the ‘personality’ is the necessary lie that holds all the chaos and drama of our lives together. The award-winning actor, for example, is a chameleon of personality, beautifully blending into the charismas of crime lords and superheroes through his mastery of method-acting. But wild-eyed fans don’t want the man or woman behind the mask—they only want the personality. When Hunter S. Thompson was interviewed on his property in Colorado, he confessed he never knew if people wanted Hunter or the caricature of himself that he portrayed in his books—because they were drastically different persons, one a man of desires and despairs, the other strictly an ‘ideology of personality.’ This rationalization “confirms man’s non-being,” as Adorno later put it, for personality is everything, and it is itself fraudulent. This is why man can never be in love without a bit of mystery. We are drawn more by fantasy, more by the picture of a gorgeous woman or man that we say we would ‘love to know,’ when in fact we must never really know. Because once the facade fades, we are merely another hairless ape trying to dampen our private parts. The divorce of intimacy naturally ensues when the alpha and the cowboy and the ballerina are dragged out into the open, and the shattering despair of reality is all that’s left. We live for eternal desiring, eternal longing for beauty, for something that will make us ache for life. Slavoj Žižek said in A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, “there is nothing spontaneous, nothing natural, about human desires. Our desires are artificial. We have to be taught to desire […] Cinema is the ultimate pervert art—it doesn’t give you what you desire, it tells you how to desire.” It’s obvious that Ryan Seacrest studied Adorno and Žižek when constructing the psychoanalytic format for American Idol and Keeping up with the Kardashians—these shows gently stroke our incessant desire for personality more than anything else. The culture industry is a great machine of glistening asses, led only partially by Ryan Seacrest. If he wasn’t there, somebody else would be, tirelessly grinding away at the stone of desire. Soon there will be nothing left. Just an orgy of holograms, rubbing against the immense black emptiness all around, a white burning comet hurling by.

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When We Sing, When We Throw Stones

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It seems like we’re on the edge now. A teetering fragility of peace, everyone at their respective political rallies—either there in support or there in protest—everyone frothing at the mouth, eager for a good excuse to stab each other in the throat. Every day there’s another viral video of Trump supporters mobbing a protester, and Trump himself cheering them on—bucktoothed white men draped in camo-gear attack a black man, or huddle around a Muslim woman and call her a whore, or punch a songbird, or claw at sunsets, or eat cereal bowls filled with pinecones and Natural Ice. They salute their blotchy-skinned leader by uniformly rubbing their crotches. And all hell breaks loose.

The Trump rally in Chicago that was canceled last week is testament to the cowing tribalism in and around politics these days; it’s more of a foreshadowing of the violence to come, just another transitory episode in the evolutionary buildup of street gangs killing each other over heteronomous trade deals, who’s leader has better hair, and the lawfulness of a penis touching another man’s butthole. The spurious autoschediasticism of the protest ended in very minor clashes  .  .  .  little blood was actually drawn, but there was lots of yelling and name calling, with Trump finally declaring that his freedom of speech was hijacked. Many Bernie campaign posters were seen at the demonstration, but Sanders himself quickly denied any involvement. Hillary Clinton condemned the protest by tweeting the old adage, ‘Violence has no place in politics.’ Even Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted ‘People who are anti-Trump are actually anti-Trump supporters—they oppose free citizens voting for the @realDonaldTrump.’ The only reason for writing out someone’s Twitter handle is in the hope that they will read it and retweet it. Not that the pop star astrophysicist is necessarily a Trump supporter, but he is trying to make some sort of vague taxonomical clarification, maybe striking the flint of the dialectic, a baseless claim that protesting against a wistfully nostalgic form of imperialism is an offense to freedom itself.

Hillary Clinton pointed to the families of the Charleston, South Carolina victims from last year’s shooting, They “came together and melted hearts in the statehouse,” she said. In her eyes, we should melt Donald Trump’s barely beating heart into a bloody fondu of love and youth. If you see a woman being raped on the street, you should protest peacefully, from the other side of the street, of course, making sure you stay on the sidewalk.

The epistemological axiom that “violence has no place in politics” is a queer Democritean slogan, something that dismisses the entire historical resumé of politics. At the end of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, a Win/Gallup poll declared the United States as the greatest threat to peace in the world. In the 1980’s, Clinton supported the Contra insurgency into Nicaragua. She supported invasions of Haiti in 1994, Bosnia in 1995, and Kosovo in 1999. In her words, she “urged [Bill] to bomb” Yugoslavia. She voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and backed the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006, and later the US bombing of Libya, creating the power vacuum that allowed ISIS to overtake the country. In other words, violence has everything to do with politics, as long as you are rich while doing it. It’s the same reason a black woman can go to prison for 12 years for a little baggie of weed, but when HSBC launders billions of dollars to Columbian and Mexican drug cartels, no one sees a single day behind bars.

There is something pedantic and selectively fussy about claiming that “violence has no place in politics.” It clearly does. The question is, what part do we as regular citizens play in the arena of political violence?

Take a look at Black Lives Matters, for instance, who made a strong presence at the Chicago rally. Black Lives Matters was formed for the same reason as when the Black Panther Party was created back in 1966: they were both a response to unchecked police brutality against black kids. But the Black Panthers initially began with armed citizen patrols, monitoring the activity and behavior of Oakland’s police officers. Black women with afros would stand on the streets with rifles. Panther leaders were assassinated or falsely charged with murder. J. Edgar Hoover called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” Black Lives Matters, on the other hand, barges into libraries and chants its club’s name into the ears of students studying innocently. There was the Weather Underground, formed in 1969, as a radical left-wing faction of the Students for a Democratic Society, in support of the Black Panthers and other militant left-wing groups. Its core principle was a militant opposition to the Vietnam War, as it initiated actions intended to “Bring the War Home.” They broke Dr. Timothy Leary out of prison. They bombed government buildings and banks, they initiated the “Days of Rage” riots in Chicago, and issued a “Declaration of a State of War” against the United States government. There is widespread belief that Martin Luther King could not have achieved what he is attributed with if it were not for Malcolm X’s more militant approach. When antiwar protestors grew by the thousands outside of Nixon’s White House, President Nixon turned to Henry Kissinger in fear, asking for assurance that they wouldn’t break through the fence. When then President George W. Bush was asked what he thought about the antiwar demonstrations outside his White House, he skillfully responded that they pleased him—the evidentiary freedom of speech that American citizens have is why we were going to war, he said, so the Iraqis will one day have the same. Where are Brutus and Cassius? Where is the emerald sword that can pierce the sky? The ennui of our passivity is the force that doesn’t actually want to change anything. It organizes marches, waves banners around, and chants its cheerleader haikus  .  .  .  but we know this is merely for the ends of self-congratulation. We know we are merely swirling our farts in the wind, cheering each other on, finally flirting with women who proudly show off their armpit hair.

In Walter Benjamin’s Critique on Violence, the state needs and creates the conditions for a monopoly on violence. “Violence, when not in the hands of the law, threatens [the law] not by the ends it may pursue but by its mere existence outside the law.” The antipodal fringe barricades itself against the powers of the state through what is termed Divine Violence—that inevitable reactionary force, preserving the gorgeous brawn of the sovereign. It is completely “law-destroying,” completely at odds with the systemic coercion of the state. It’s merely and wholely a strike at power, to value justice and principle over the law. Slavoj Žižek sees divine violence as an inevitable response against the superstructure. Men ought to scare where they must. But even the so-called radical Left today feels it should disassociate itself with the Jacobin paradigm. In Žižek’s Robespierre of the “Divine Violence” of Terror, he writes, “what the sensitive liberals want is a decaffeinated revolution, a revolution that doesn’t smell of revolution.”

Donald Trump was rightly criticized for saying he would kill the family members of terrorists. This is dangerous talk. The problem is that Barack Obama already has. In a drone attack, 16-year-old American-born son of Anwar Al-Awalki was killed, and Obama has never answered questions addressing this. This is perhaps more dangerous, for the left slowly accepts that this is just the way things work. In an interview with CNN, Trump warned of riots if the Republican Party handed the nomination to another candidate. “I think you’d have riots,” he said. “I’m representing many, many millions of people  .  .  .  Bad things would happen.”

The Chicago protests were a glimpse of what could be, however grand and gorgeous and tragic. I don’t know. I’m too drunk to tell anymore. All I know is there is too much light, too much life to tell anymore. Too much everything. All it is is just an eruption of stars and worlds.

Notes on Eternal Recurrence

Salvador Dali - Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory - 1954

by Guy Walker

“Death created time to grow the things that it would kill, and you are reborn into the same life that you’ve always been born into.” Detective Rustin Cohle

Then they fantasize gleefully about what they would do if given one week to live, what perverse finale of drugs and hookers and assholes they’d engrave their last memories with. But it’s a useless and banal notion, revealing nothing of the human condition except for the desperate grunts of splendor we prefer to indulge in. A better question is how would we continue from this day forward if we were to learn that we’ll be reborn into this same life again and again, for eternity?

Eternal recurrence. It’s an old notion, discussed at length by the ancient Egyptians and Indians, eventually passed on to the Pythagoreans and the Stoics. But it was lonely frail Nietzsche, the same man who contracted syphilis from the only woman he fucked, a whore, who postured the notion of eternal recurrence best: one should live every day as if they will relive every detail of every second of their lives over and over and over again. Every laughter and despair and lonely insecurity, every drunken orgasm and rotten boredom will have to be repeated innumerable times, and with the knowledge that you will relive this innumerable times. So I looked around my own shuffling regimen to see if it was true, if reliving all this ephemeral dank theatre would be a heaven or a hell.

Today, like all the others, I pulled out the guts of three thousand fish, shoving them along the next step of the hallucinatory journey. Their liver and egg sacks separated into different containers, the rest of their guts eventually swept into the harbor, their heads into another container, their bodies packed neatly into styrofoam boxes, eventually shipped off to Spain or Italy or the south of Norway. The enormous machines rattling, the conveyer belt itself is a blue plastic mockery of the eternal return, the literal form of the phenomenology of nihilism—the last five seconds repeated over and over for fourteen hours, every day repeated for as many months or years as you can stand before hurling yourself into the frozen sea. Beyond the harbor where I work, the mountains erupt a thousand meters straight into the sky, and the coruscating morning fjords carve endlessly into the crust of the world. A bright wind howls against all the little red houses hoisted on their stilts in the village, and a seagull flies madly against the gusts, not gaining an inch. The sun is always low, so it’s always a sunrise or a sunset (depending on your outlook of course), and on the clear nights the northern lights rip and gnaw at the stars. They are green and violet violins, the infinity of gods amid their dazzling sinusoidal chorale. At night I get drunk alone, read Adorno and Benjamin for the company, eat a pack of soft-baked cookies and fall asleep to the hazy beautiful defeat, the intermezzo of freedom circling back on itself.

Every moment there’s a looming suggestion that you should simply scrap it all, head to the desert in your underwear, throw rocks at snakes, eat a huge portion of peyote and dive into permanent psychosis, never returning. I’ve often considered moving to some miserable dusty town on the outskirts of Las Vegas, loiter suspiciously around dank acheronian bars, meet a nice desert girl with cut off jean shorts and pink hair and three porcine children with ice cream cones melting over their fat little hands, and settle down  .  .  .  maybe start chewing tobacco. But it’s too late for any of that now. We’ve been shoved into this carnivorous orbit again and again and again, without our consent.

Here we are. We’ve been launched like a cannonball into the future, everything turning into blurs and specks of dust. Many generations go by, but they are all our own generation  .  .  .  the same one cycled around itself. After ninety recurrences—not even a measurable mark of a fraction of my eternity—my work in the harbor has gradually contorted into something else. I’m still there, with a little hunch in my back, still smoking expensive cigarettes on the edge of the docks with the twenty-something year old Chileans, the old wind-torn fishermen wearing snowflake patterned sweaters their wives knitted them, still delivering tons of fish at a time; but the fish aren’t fish anymore. In my besotted hypnosis, they’ve morphed into miniature Donald Trumps, like Chucky dolls, their heads spinning around in hysterical laughter. Coming across the conveyer belt, I hit them over the head one by one, trying more to thrash myself out of the beige hyperreality. It’s no use. He’s ruined everything, branded his name and his little dick onto every vacant surface. There was clearly a flaw in the system, some sort of entropic detour on the main highway that Nietzsche and Schopenhauer never considered. Everything is cycling back on itself, trees into mushrooms into soil and back into trees again. That’s how it always used to be. But humans were a glitch in the system somewhere. The bright chaos of animals and moss and stars gave birth to humans, and the gods trembled at the horror.

With each cycle, cleanliness and normalcy degrades. I moved back to Los Angeles, the rusty homes are abandoned, the churches and bowling halls and porno studios of the San Fernando valley degrading further every time we pass through it. After the hundredth recurrence, there’s only something vaguely familiar about this world, the landscape completely lifeless. It’s now too hot to step outside for more than a few minutes, the sky is opaque and causes prurigo, and our politicians strangely enough, are porcupines, hundreds of them shuffling around in the ramshackled Capitol building, sweetly fidgeting about controversial bills, such as, ‘Should we bomb Antarctica for melting on us so quickly?’ and ‘What do we do with traffic lights, now that yellow is illegal?’

I begin watching porn just for the entertainment, if you can even call it that. No, for the nostalgia, for the high aesthetic appeal, the natural lighting and baby-blue duvet covers. A pornstar with big glossy tits is riding a completely shaven man, their naked bodies humping in crude geometric configurations. Thwak! Thwak! Thwak! Her gluey pink flesh slaps against his. Arrghhh! Uh! Uh! Roooo! the man grunts—this makes me smile sweetly, the way people used to watch films by Truffaut or Fellini or Kurosawa just for the black and white sentimentality. The Fury of Verschwindens was here all along. I lean back in my rocking chair, the floorboards creaking under me, the aleatory ennui sweeping by with the red wind.

Everyone stays indoors, trolling celebrities on the internet, binge-watching several seasons of television shows, taking pictures of our own asses and submitting them to purveying masses online, everyone hunched behind their own glowing screens. In other words, not that much has actually changed. The last remaining priests are scribing the antiethnologies of symparanekromenoi, a practice that brings us brilliantly graphic standup comedy. I finish my glass of milk, and sit up from my flower-printed vinyl couch, its sticky adhesive binding to my skin, slowly peeling off my back, and emerge from my gloomy track house, and across my lawn of dust. It’s two in the afternoon, so I head to the nightclub.

My entire generation meets in the air conditioned nightclub during the day, drinking expensive cocktails, sweating, dancing for hours. I see a few kids squatted on all fours, striking pieces of flint together. Another group is huddled around a dying campfire, trying to keep their fingers warm. A man who has dropped acid everyday for the last seven hundred years is dancing with a lady with one arm, dressed in pink linens, her bulging fat swishing from side to side. They shake and push violently, the floor of neon squares flickering sporadically under them.

‘This is all so absurd,’ I think to myself. And I pick up a stone and throw it at the DJ, everything stopping for the first time in eternity.

Baudrillard was right: ‘the masses themselves are caught up in a gigantic process of inertia through acceleration. They are this excrescent, devouring, process that annihilates all growth and all surplus meaning.’ Yes, eternal recurrence will shove us back into the squalid days and nights until there are no fond memories and no bad ones either. But the spectacle of hyperreality is degrading further and further until there is nothing left. Eventually it’s just a chimera of gold dust, a strange dream with the sounds of young laughter echoing in the background. Schopenhauer discussed the ultimate nature of reality as being driven and defined by the Will. We are trembling mannequins of meat, driven entirely by the need to satisfy desires. Our ephemeral fury to make something of ourselves, to attach some purpose to all of this, to build a little legacy—whether it’s a man raising his children or Trump erecting his coruscating phalluses—is a symptom of the Will, pushing everything further and further into the absurdity of existence.

What eternal recurrence fails at considering is the nature of the Will. Desires can never achieve their satisfactions  .  .  .  once the Will attains some momentary triumph, it gets bored with it, and banters off to some other colorful frontier. We humans are the only animal who will never attain true satisfaction  .  .  .  the restless torpid bodies of this recurring dream try again and again to achieve something tolerable, scratching at the sky to make all this worth it, until death finally swallows us, soothing all of our desires and illusory sense of purpose. This is why people have children—they want to destine their own blood to the endless cycle of suffering and defeat. We willfully orchestrate the eternal recurrence for ourselves.

Schopenhauer said the only reasonable response to the absurdity of existence was to denounce the Will everywhere possible, especially that of sexual desire, in order to not reproduce little replicas of ourselves that will have to carry on further into the absurd of the eternal. But denying yourself face-sitting, 69-ing, long spouts of ecstasy-induced fucking, is surely the most miserable and absurd of all existences, some sort of cruel illusory asceticism that will only cause you to hate sunsets and everything beautiful.

Eternal recurrence was beaten by the Will. There is nothing certain anymore.

At the end of it all, we’ll have a few rusted accruements above the fireplace. We’ll have our various degrees and conquests, like seashells of legacy that we can rub with our thumb. Most of all, we’ll have memories of our lovers. When we were young, and we loved without consequence—at least we’ll have that. One day, we’ll find a fresh bubbling spring, and we’ll bathe with the native choirs all around us. One day the vines will swallow everything. A cool breeze will move the grasses and we’ll smile with the sun on our faces.

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