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September 16, 2007


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"To withdraw in disgust is not the same as apathy"--Slacker

patrick j. mullins

"Is it possible that we've defeated ourselves and that Rich misdiagnoses depression, confrontation with our deep failure, incompetence, greed, stupidity, and guilt as apathy? "

Probably, although I thought it one of the best pieces I've read by him. I was writing in long-hand this morning, thinking of exactly this, but the word 'passive' is more accurate, I think, than apathetic. I can't remember exactly what order is 'of the people, for the people, and by the people', but when I was penning something about Iraq and Katrina and the enormous incompetence involved, it nevertheless is true that, while not as riddled with the silly planned-out conspiracies that some would have us become even stupider and more powerless by listening to--the 'for the people' is by now completely ruled out. This is NEW as of the Bushies, and the Democrats notwithstanding, the blame has to be squarely placed in terms of 'sins of commission' on the rape and pillaging of the Republicans. If Democrats do not have veto-proof majorities, there are certain things that they cannot do. But Petraues's actually letting the truth slip out was real news--clearly a reprimnand was quickly delivered and he tried to rescind it. Interesting about 'not watching Bush'. I have made a point of not watching any of his asshole-ish speeches since he made his debut as Alfred E. Newman with the stem-cell speech back in pre-9/11 days. But I did watch this one the other night, so I think I could tell something: Not only could he barely read a teleprompter, and certainly didn't bother to read sentences where the commas were, etc., but this is now a presence which was not even pumped up into charisma as large as the opposition Senator Jack Reed--and usually just the office itself will be enough to pull that much off. In the old Reagan days, I had to stop watching Ronald Reagan's speeches, because he could deliver them very persuasively, and I'd need Sam Donaldson to pick it apart. But Bush is extraordinary in his decay, which he does not even seem to be aware of.


Bush has always been the face of america's denial of its own passive nihilism. His "resolve" was the Prozac that kept such nihilism from settling into everyday affairs.

Now that his resolve has been exposed to all as simple denial, his "decay", as you so well put it, Patrick, will only cause pity among his supporters. And yet their passive nihilism will flood in, hopefully keeping them from the polls. Unfortunately, nothing could keep them from the malls and car dealerships, I feel. It'll be interesting to watch the statistics for new car sales leading up to the elections next year.

Joseph Kugelmass

It seems to me less a matter of depression, than one of hibernation; the nation seems to have suddenly, curiously outgrown George W. Bush, and is now waiting, at low volume, for him to be gone.


I love the image of a politics of infinite passivity. What you are hoping for I think, is a kind of situation of Activity with a genesis in passivity, where the ethical imperitive to continue is passed from a capitalism which cannot do so to a philosophy which is actually infinite and always capable of continuing. To put it another way, modern subjectivity is limitless, though the forms of life it is currently boxed into may not be limitless. Finally, that Bartelby begins a project of immense semantic opentude, and endless interpretations including this one-- even though he dies in the end of the story that is far from the last word. What you want is stopping as starting.


badiouian, that was beautiful.

Your neologism, "opentude", can only gather steam and become a useful term for both academics AND surfer dudes. The absolute best kind of new word.

Did you make that up on the spot? May I use it?


you can use opentude as i think it should be disseminated widely.
really the surfer dudes and the academics are very similar....

did you look at hallward?


hallward is on the way to me from half.com, as well as Badiou's Ethics.

I'm as excited waiting for them as I was as a kid waiting for the new X-men comics to arrive on my doorstep. Is that appropriate? Ha, let's hope!

Thanks again for the advice. I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me in the future. Do you have your own blog?


i am starting a new blogging project on a "mega"blog


cool, badiouian, let me know asap.

I think this video might make evident how it's not apathy that is plaguing our nation:


It's fear.


sfsw how can i get in touch with you?


hi, badiouian. you can reach me at:


...looking forward to hearing from you.

Also, I'd like to hear anyone's opinion on the video I've linked to above. It seems there has been a rash of student arrests in the last few weeks, and this is of great interest to me, especially in how the media deals with them. One wonders how a Kent State situation would go over in today's media environment...


"One wonders how a Kent State situation would go over in today's media environment..."

The Establishment would apologize ad infinitum for the cops and malign any students who were killed or wounded. It would be most regrettable and the press would cease to pay attention after a week.

"Also, I'd like to hear anyone's opinion on the video I've linked to above."

I'd like to throttle the cops. I'd like to throttle John Kerry for pathetically trying to carry on his speech, and then claiming in a press release that "I asked the police to allow me to answer the question and was in the process of responding when he was taken into custody." That is obvious bullshit. More bullshit from Kerry: "I hope that neither the student nor any of the police were injured." O how worrisome that 4 cops with tasers might suffer indigestion from their efforts! What a fucking wanker.

I knew from the UCLA taser video precisely what the pitch and timbre of the kid's scream would be when he was tasered, and how nauseating it would be. Expectations filled on both counts.


I agree with you, va.

The comments on youtube and elsewhere regarding these types of displays of state power tell the rest of the story; half the respondents wonder angrily why no one intervened on behalf of the student, the other half take the side of the cops ("listen to authority and avoid trouble").

Having been present at such state-power displays, I can say that the impotence one feels at being unable to help or intervene in an obvious injustice is a truly traumatic experience. The rage and fear incurred within the subject is where the true definition of "state" is to be found.

Perhaps the utopian ideals associated with such vehicles as youtube, and their naive assertions of "e-democracy", etc are not far off the mark. Perhaps non-verbal definitions are necessary now? No longer defining things or concepts with long strings of jargon and scholarly references, but rather with a simple youtube link? Ha, I say this as more of a joke than anything, but it is an interesting idea to ponder...I wonder what Shaviro would think?

I was once at a violin recital by a famous musician. A man in the second row suddenly suffered a violent siezure, and after a few moments of stunned silence, the violinist himself jumped from the stage to administer first aid. It seems to me the person "on stage", no matter who they are, bears the responsibility of taking action when no one else is capable or willing. The figure behind the podium, far from automatically commanding respect, is by nature of his position actively in the process of earning such respect. From Kerry to Rumsfeld to CEOs to academics, it is the failure of such public figures to actively gain respect by answering demands by the public that has led to the opacity of authority that adds to our current cynicism in regards to democracy.

Imagine if Kerry had jumped from his safe center of attention and intervened in the abuse of the student? He IS the limpest dick ever propped up by the Democrats for election, no doubt. But one could imagine that if Kerry had exhibited an interest in justice and intervened, it could have been a revolutionary act on his part, and maybe even gotten him elected.

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