Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Self-defeating ideas

Wonderful Wikipedia has a wonderful article about (wonderfully) the notion of ideas that, logically, self-destruct (but which may be popularly long-lived, nevertheless).  We polemicised against one of them -- eliminative materialism -- here.

To this propositional or assertoric notion of a self-refuting idea, we may add the illocutionary or pragmatic idea of a self-immolating statement.   As: 

The current issue of The New Yorker has a worthwhile demurral by John Lanchester:

Shut Up and Eat:
Down with foodism

Hear, hear.  Only -- that mini-essay appears (ausgerechnet) in the annual semi-bloated “Food Issue”, which I hurled into the trash-basket, almost unread.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Eternity in Autumn

seest thou
something whirling
from off the tree?


‘Tis Larry:
Larry the Leaf.

Larry is in the grip of gravity,
whirling to earth.

flashing now grandly
in the twilit  sunlight
dizzily dreaming
of when he was green …


Soon,  he(it) settles,
on/(in) a bank of    softly-fallen, softened
(Lisa & Lennie & Lea  the Leaf)

melding to mulch
sans name  &  sans dream …

Rest in peace,  little leaflet  leaf:
rest in sweet /   dreamlesssleepy   / sleep ……….

Monday, October 27, 2014

La société du spectacle

The ever-more-crucial idea of the “Society of the Spectacle” -- which dates back to the Rome of panem et circenses, passing (in our time) through Guy Debord -- is now front-and-center  in much of what we see.
E.g. this:

(I am old, and tired, and cannot comment now;  but must seek my couch, and the arms of Somnus, yea the balm of Lethe,  ere I wake …)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Acronym of the Day: HoGeSa

A word worth knowing:  HoGeSa (pronounced HO-gay-sah).  German for: 

    “Hooligans gegen Salafisten”

(hooligans against salafists).   And you say:  Wha- ? - ?

(1) Historical semantics

The word hooligan (possibly related to the Irish surname Hoolihan) was first attested in England in the late 19th century, referring initially to Irish rowdies.   It carried no ideological connotation.
The word then took a very strange detour into Russian, as Хулига́н.  For the Soviets, it functioned as a sort of defanged continuation of the ever-useful term Lumpenproletariat, which dates back to Marx.  Again, for the Soviets, it denoted no clear political current, but was still -- class-analysis being paramount in Marxism -- more or less eingestuft into a class-struggle worldview:  Lumpen and hooligans being the dregs who, logically, would fight alongside the proletariat, but who instead engaged in pointless criminality.  (The very phenomenon rather jarred with the neatness of Marxist analysis.)

Later, in Engliand, from the ‘70s on, it took on a particular coloring, being associated especially with soccer rowdies, who got quite a reputation on the Continent for acting up, and were banned from some countries.  For some reason, this phenomenon was much more characteristic of England than of any of the other soccer-mad nations of the world;  to elucidate that fact might prove quite revealing.

And now, in our own day, the word pops up  borrowed once again into a foreign language, this time German, and still with a particular association with soccer (or, in European terms, football).  Colloquial abbreviation:  die Hools.

Now:  What is quite interesting  is that this German term, Hooligans, is a self-designation, not an exogenous pejorative epithet.
But: Why would any group do that?
Well, this is not the place to delve into the psychology thereof, but it’s a plucky thing to do, and many groups have done it.  Thus, Quakers, Tories, etc. etc. : the defiant adoption by an outgroup of the ingroup’s trashtalk.   The most recent (and rather close) analogy is the word behind the “N” in NWA (which, as a non-N, I am not allowed to write out).

Lesen Sie die Geschichte  spesenfrei !
(2) Morphology

For concision, I called HoGeSa an ‘acronym’, since that is a familiar word.  It is composed, though, not of initial letters, but of initial syllables.

Again, there is a Soviet parallel.   This sort of logopoeic confection was completely characteristic of the Russian of the time, e.g. Komsomol (roughly: COMmunist /SOviet/MOLodyets (youth).)
Somewhat similarly, in German, among the opponents of the Hooligans (who are perceived as right-wing) are the Antifa  -- those who oppose what in French are called the fachos (fascists).

For those of my generation (for you young’uns: i.e. :  Old!  Fagedabouddit !!), these syllabic abbreviations (as Wiki calls them) have a certain relent louche,  owing to their association with the whole Proletkult/Agitprop deviations of the Soviet era.  (Twenny-thirdy-fordy-somethings:  Any idea what I’m talking about?  Never mind.)  But they have much to their credit, over against “acronyms” in the narrow, initial-letter sense. 
At the time, the issue was pronounciability.  With strict-acronyms, you never know:  FBI (letter by letter) vs. NASA (like a word).  Whereas now, in addition to that (still valid), there is the matter of cross-linguistic searchability.
Thus, strict-acronyms are often translated (FMI vs IMF;  ADN vs. DNA), which makes online string-search  perilous.  But if you confect what is obviously a word -- yet a word in no obvious language -- everyone will let it be, like a proper-name (“Washington”; “Napoleon”), which no-one would dream of “translating”.

From this strictly philological standpoint, we salute the “Hooligans” for their coinage:  HoGeSa.

(Note:  Granted, as a vocable, as a hoagie-of-syllables,  it is not especially attrayant.   Cf. Gröfaz.  Ah well.)

Gratuit !
Lisez le conte entier

So much for the linguistics.  Now we get down to brass tacks.

Today in Cologne, roughly five thousand “Hooligans” answered the call to demonstrate, against the IS-leaning Islamist extremists known broadly as Salafists.  Whence:  HoGeSa.   This led to fairly violent street-confrontations.

This very significant public demonstration has so far scarcely been reported outside of Germany:  and when so, curly and dumbed-down, simply referring to “hooligans and neo-Nazis” battling police -- apparently for no reason.

To undumb you back up, consider this:

(1) Recently in the streets of Hamburg:  400 Kurdish demonstrators were attacked by 400 IS-supporters.

(2) A cri de coeur, from the Lower Depths:

Notice that the speaker invites moderate Muslims to join with them.

The speaker also seems to allude to recent beheadings in Germany.  Whether that happened, I have no idea;  if it did, it was hushed up.  But certainly it is in the offing:

German hostages of Salafists in the Phillipines

~ Sigmund Freud  und  Sherlock Holmes: ~

(3)  Overview:

Rasantes Anwachsen der deutschen Salafisten-Szene
Die Behörden sehen sie als Sammelbecken für Kämpfer der Terrorgruppe Islamischer Staat und befürchten Stellvertreterkriege mit Kurden, Hooligans und Rechtsextremen.

The fact is, Germany has long been unwisely importing problems from abroad;  and now is too frightened to do anything about it.   Like the socialos in France,  the German authorities have been dithering;  it thus falls to the wretched of the earth, at last to roar in protest.

European background:

[Mise à jour, 28 oct 2014]
A parallel in Calais:

Word of the day: psychosis

Well I recall, from several decades ago, when a friend explained to me the difference between a schlemiehl and a schlemassel:
   The schlemiehl is a klutz who is always spilling the coffee.
   The schlemassel is the one it usually gets spilled on.

In this spirit, we proceed to differentiate the neurotic from the psychotic, and indeed from the sociopath.

  Neurotic:  Think Woody Allen.
  Sociopath:  Think Hannibal Lector or the Joker.

And psychotic?  Well, it’s harder to think of a (non-sociopathic) cinematic representative.  For the psychotic has become quite unmoored from reality, the contents of the unconscious backflushing into the ego and cognitively disabling the patient.   Not an interesting subject for art.

Neurosis is the everyday lot of all of us, to some extent.  Sociopaths are a matter for the police.  And psychotics belong in an asylum.


Now, if that were all there were to it, I wouldn’t have bothered to post.  But there is a linguistic subtlety, which shades into something politically crucial. 

Headline in the New York Times:

The reference is to the thousands of increasingly unruly illegal aliens, most from the Horn of Africa, who have collected in the tunnel- and ferry-town of Calais, on the English Channel.   A picturesque village has become a nightmare landscape. The problem has been building for years, and is swept under the rug by the socialo French government, paralyzed by political correctness.

Indeed the article pulls no punches, making clear how bad things have become.  (It even mentions the very touch subject of African intrtuders raping Frenchwomen, which I had not seen mention of in the French press;  too hot to handle.)  But as so often happens in the NYTimes, the headline writer tries to spin things into bien-pensant correctitude.   For:  if the attitude of the French residents of Calais is a “psychosis”, then they are psychotic, delusional, and out of touch.  And the Eingdringlinge may be as sweet and innocent as the Gentle Giant, Saint Skittles, the Sandwich Man, or suchlike paladins.

Here, however (unlike earlier cases we have reported), the after-inkslinger has not made the verbiage up out of whole cloth:  for indeed the article contains the following line:

“The discontent has turned into a real psychosis,” said Emmanuel Agius, the deputy mayor of Calais and a member of the conservative Union for a Popular Movement party. “The migrants of today no longer fear breaking the laws.”

Yet even from this very paragraph, it is clear that the deputy mayor is not dismissing the concerns of his electorate;  just the contrary.  So what is going on?

What is going on is that the speaker undoubtedly said, “C’est une vrai psychose.”   And the reporter, lazily or inexpertly, translated psychose as psychosis.

The French word, however, is (outside of technical psychiatric contexts) about a thousand times more common than the English cognate;  its commonest use can best be translated as ‘panic’, specifically as moral panic (for which see Wikipedia).

Thus, a parallel to the crisis outlined here:
Official inaction, even denial;  and a public pushback that, having no moderate outlet allowed, turns ugly.

Ask Silent Bob!

Hey kids!   Your postcards have been pouring in, with urgent questions for everybody’s favorite oracle -- Silent Bob!
We showed him some -- and here are his replies !!

Q:   What is the Meaning of Life?

Q:  Was will denn das Weib?
A: … …

Q:  Why did you join the Islamic State?
A: … … …

Mum's the word

(The rest is silence.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Silent Bob joins the Islamic State ??

U B the Judge:

ISIL instructor of "Cubs of the Caliphate"

Silent Bob