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Thursday, July 13, 2006

 

Alert Level Ivory: Watch Out For Marxist, Exploding Rap CDs

A couple of weeks ago Walter Kirn wrote for the NYT Book Review a take-down of The Din in the Head, Cynthia Ozick's new book of essays defending the novel from its alleged corruption at the hands of an increasingly relativistic, degraded society. Harold Bloom territory, basically. Kirn quoted this passage, which really stuck out to me:
"A department of English is not the same as a Marxist tutorial. A rap CD is not the same as academic scholarship. A suicide bomber who blows up a pizzeria crowded with baby carriages is not the same as a nation-builder."
Kirn characterizes this bit of hyperbole (although I doubt she means it as such) as "the canon as cannon, holding off the savages." Now, I haven't read the book, and I'm sure that Ozick's second sentence is specifically a dig at Cornel West and slackening intellectual standards. Also, according to strict logic, Ozick isn't necessarily equating Marxism, rap and suicide bombers, but...come on, of course she is. On one side of the divide, English departments, scholarship and nation-building are positive forces dedicated to generating and maintaining civilization. On the other side are the chaotic, thanatos-worshipping forces of leftist political dogma (elsewhere Ozick gives a dismissive backhand to Susan Sontag's politics), baby-killing terrorists, and, um, popular black music. As I said, I haven't read Ozick, so I can't go much past the statement itself. Perhaps I'm missing the context of the rest of the essay, where she discusses the merits of the Ultramagnetic MCs and Cold Crush Brothers. But I suspect she's not exactly down with Doug E. Fresh. And so I suspect that Kirn's characterization of her defending the canon against savages might resonate in more ways than one.

Beyond that, it's fascinating to see how amazingly well terrorism can work regardless of how smart you are. I think that too often we imagine the "masses" recoiling in reactionary, self-protective fear from terroristic violence, but Ozick shows that intellectualism is no innoculation; in fact, it has led quite a few brilliant minds into this kind of wagon-circling raving, apocalyptic visions of dark riders from the east and south (and importantly, from within) ganging up with Sauron to burn down the Shire. As far as I can tell, those leading terror movements are mostly interested in real estate, while Ozick clutches her novels to her chest as if prying Henderson the Rain King from her fingers is Bin Laden's ultimate aim, and ousting the House of Saud is just a side benefit.

The divide between high culture and pop is on my mind lately, as I start preparing to guest-teach a month-long winter term class on graphic novels at my alma mater, an esteemed Northeastern private college. It's the kind of subject matter in the kind of setting that would, no doubt, drive Ozick to tears. Although it's possible that Cornel West would have to write a comic book for her to become aware of their existence. I'm nearly finished with David Carrier's philosophical work The Aesthetics of Comics, and I'm struck by the amount of text Carrier feels obligated to devote to basic defenses of the subject matter's academic worth. In just five years since this book was published, I think some of that defensiveness has given way. But to many scholars, I'm sure such a subject is still a clear signal that everything worth thinking about, everything worth preserving--all those Great Novels Ozick treasures and nurtures like innocent babies in their carriages--is being exploded by cultural suicide bombs.

And just because I'm an anti-intellectual jerk, what I wouldn't give for the opportunity to sit Ozick down with a copy of the 2001 record Party Music by The Coup: the unreleased, original cover designed in June of 2001 had these Marxist rap artists blowing up the World Trade Center. Hat trick!

Comments:
Hey. I see you guys have linked to my blog. I deeply appreciate it. But... I don't know any of you, so, if I could ask, why have you linked to me?

You an email me at docnebula@gmail.com, if you've a mind to.
 
Hey, yeah, why'd we link to this guy's blog? I like that there's something on there about NASA secretly wanting to blow up Saturn, but what gives? What's the secret reason that we all met and decided to link to his blog?
 
It's a good question, but somebody already answered it for me. Apparently I asked you guys to link to my blog because I found your blog and liked it.

I wish I hadn't drunk all that cough syrup that... no, wait, I already did that bit.

The Coup album is a weird little bit of foreshadowing. The guy at Rigorous Intution (rigint.blogspot.com) has made a lot of hay out of that.
 
Interesting. YOu think the terrorists got the idea for doing it from this album? They buy it at Goodwill?
 
I'm guessing no to both questions. If Al Queda were getting its ideas from underground rap albums, and were we still unable to stop their plans, we would all be in very deep shit.

Especially when they got around to Dr. Octagon.
 
It's more complicated than that, having to do with the whole 'forerunners' concept that us fringe tin foil hat/woo woo types take at least semi seriously. Which is to say, major events in the space time continuum send ripples forward and back, and manifest themselves in many different ways. Over at Rigorous Intuition, there's a whole list of eerily accurate 'forerunners' of 9/11.

Personally, I think linear time is an illusion brought on by the both the speed and the manner in which our brains process our perceptions of the continuum around us. In actuality, there is no past or future, and on some level, we know everything that has happened and that is going to happen, because it all actually happening all around us, all at once.

But I admit, I could be nuts.

However, there do seem to be many, many folks who knew about 9/11 beforehand, and not in any mystical, woo-woo way, either. Check out this link (http://rigorousintuition.blogspot.com/2004/08/coincidence-theorists-guide-to-911.html) for the jack. And then prepare to be seriously depressed.
 
Given that Dr. Ocatgon is a time-travelling serial killer from the future posing as a gynecologist, I think this all fits together quite well.

I also think it's a pretty big world, with billions of people having trillions of ideas all the time, and that it's possible, even easy, to read true premonition out of blind coincidence when looking retrospectively. If I write up a story about a giant squid eating Tom Cruise's new baby, it is meaningless--unless a giant squid actually eats Tom Cruise's baby tomorrow. Then I'm fucking Nostradamus*. Think of all the album covers that haven't come true. But we're wired to look for meaningful patterns in everything, and so we tend to find them.

*Not that I believe even Nostradamus was fucking Nostradamus.
 
I don't know. I find that cover goddam eerie. But, y'know, until there's proof of something there's no proof of something, and even then, you either believe or disbelieve. In a subjective continuum, everything is an article of faith.

Goddam. Rush Limbaugh is a millionaire and I can't get paid for this shit? TANJ, in fucking deed.
 
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