I receive the Verso Spring 2002 catalogue in the post today.
In this slim and lefty catalogue, the esteemed publishers track their grim trajectory of publishing that which has increasingly taken on the blockbuster mentality of the FACT business at the expense of intellectually challenging, politically risky titles – is Not what Time Out New York meant when they wrote what I’ve just mangled, but with attention, even with excitement, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair give us some “radical reporting from the trenches”.
This is a war, make no mistake about it. Bush says so, Blair says so, we are at war. Of course, we all mean something different by such an assertion, but that’s totally beside the point because it is only my point that is the right point. Got no business of my own to mind. Definition of a little shit is that he’s always right. (William Burroughs exits stage). And here’s the skull-fuck these battle-weary heroes, swaggering, gun-toting soldiers of the TRUE FACT business, marching as to war will give you with their new book: “For eight years CounterPunch has been uncovering America and the world in some of the best radical writing and exposes [I think they meant exposés] in decades. Thousands of subscribers eagerly await the twice-monthly newsletter. Hundreds of thousands visit the www dot counterpunch dot org website daily. Why? For its radicalism without cant. Because it’s fresh, jargon-free, and full of facts you won’t find anywhere else,” always at “attention, even with excitement” writes Eric Hobsbawm.
Cipher or cipher. Noun. One. A method of secret writing using substitution or transposition of letters according to a key. Two. A secret message. Three. The key to a secret message. Four. An obsolete name for zero (sense one). Five. Any of the Arabic numerals (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) or the Arabic system of numbering as a whole. Six. A person or thing of no importance; nonentity. Seven. A design consisting of interwoven letters; monogram. Eight. Music. A defect in an organ resulting in the continuous sounding of a pipe, the key of which has not been depressed. Verb. Nine. To put (a message) into secret writing. Ten. (Intransitive) (of an organ pipe) to sound without having the appropriate key depressed. Eleven. Rare. To perform (a calculation) arithmetically. Fourteenth Century: from Old French zero, from Medieval Latin, from Arabic zero, empty
“I find it contemptible” - Henry Kissinger
I find it disquieting that I live in a world of concealed facts. Thank God for the CIA – the Concealed Information Agency. I need to see the facts. I need to find the facts. The Concealed Information Agency is here to help you. Do not be afraid. But more than concealed facts, there are people in this world who deal in true facts and false facts. Those who deal in true facts are on the left. Those who deal in false facts are on the right. But this is only so if you keep falling into the trenches on your side of the street. So, if you were on the other side of the street, trying to go about your business before falling into some fucks trench, you’d see the true facts on the right and the false ones on the left. Either way, either side, you’re fucked by the trench diggers and heroes who’re just itching to fill them with your body – dead or alive with attention, even with excitement.
THE FACTS, he screeched, “I find it contemptible” Henry Kissinger. Look, how do we know that one of these little concealed facts is not the fact that there is a strong possibility that certain writers are in fact dealing in FALSE DISINFORMATION [read: concealed facts]. “The police have a vested interest in criminality. The Narcotics Dept. has a vested interest in addiction. Politicians have a vested interest in nations. Army officers have a vested interest in war.” The FACT police have a vested interest in lies. “Vested interests, whether operating through private capital or official agencies suppress any discovery, product or way of thought that threatens its area of monopoly.” That was Burroughs again. What?
CIA equals Concealed Information Agency is no writers agency representing Cockburn et al. What? Aleaxander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair, John Pilger work for the CIA? What? “The facts – I find it contemptible Henry Kissinger”
POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS
Meet Slavoj ˇi˛ek, the “giant of Ljubljana,” as the Voice Literary Supplement calls him, responsible, get this, responsible for “the best intellectual high since Anti-Oedipus”. No less. “Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917” is book-ended with a Foreword and Afterword by the giant. The foreplay consists of getting your lover lubed’n’puckered: “The idea of a Lenin renaissance might well provoke an outburst of sarcastic laughter” entices the catalogue copy. “Marx is ok, but Lenin? Doesn’t he stand for the catastrophe which what? POLICE LINE: DO NOT CROSS everyone’s doing it from Melbourne to Rio de Janeiro. Your midnight promise. We know what you think – DON’T – think this instead. One reads his passionate study with attention, even with excitement. THE FACTS – “I find it contemptible” - Henry Kissinger.
The Afterword confirms the truth claims of the book as a whole. Time has come around again, always again, and now, we need what came before far more than it was needed when it came around the first time. If this “first time” is mythical, then so is the time, “our era” ˇi˛ek speaks of in the present which is mythical, or, ˇi˛ek hoovers up “contemporary thought [ ] reworking it through his own rigorous matrix. He gives a dazzling show; but behind the performance is a passionate commitment to returning” the past to its rightful place as contemporary oblivion.
Exit thought. I know what you’re thinking – DON’T – think this instead. THE FACTS – “I find it contemptible” - Henry Kissinger.
POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS
Swing to Jean Baudrillard. Long touted by Verso from a New York Times piece as “A sharp-shooting lone ranger of the post-Marxist left.” Be that as it confusedly may, copy for the latest collection of essays in translation from Verso has yet further rhetorical manipulation. Just as the copy writers for the ˇi˛ek book saved the reader from dying of laughter (read: police line: do not cross), so this copy will save the reader from questioning whether Baudrillard has not perhaps lost his susceptibility and alertness “to influences from social movements and the world beyond the hyperreal.” Double irony. Verso defence: without “social movements and the world beyond the hyperreal” there would be no Jean Baudrillard.
WE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING DON’T THINK THIS INSTEAD
“A hero of the Left, Mike Davis is part polemicist, part historian, and all Marxist” my dear, writes Dale Peck in the Village Voice “all is mirror / your image persecutes you” wrote Octavio Paz. “I find it contemptible.” writes Henry Kissinger concerning Christopher Hitchens’ “The Trial of Henry Kissinger”.
Terry Eagleton! God! Remember Terry Eagleton? Terry Eagleton gets raised from the dead and pronounces: “Frederic Jameson is America’s leading Marxist critic. A prodigiously energetic thinker whose writings sweep majestically from Sophocles to science fiction” from a “sedentary point of view and in the name of a unified state apparatus” as some others wrote.
the facts i find it contemptible henry kissinger police line do not cross noam chomsky is the most important intellectual today we know what you think don’t think this instead alain badiou is one of the most important philosophers writing today i find it contemptible walter benjamin is the most important german aesthetician and literary critic of this century we know what you’re thinking don’t think that instead jean baudrillard is the most important french thinker of the past twenty years always at attention henri lefebvre is the last great classical philosopher even with excitement