Thursday, November 30, 2023
"Kissinger’s profound intellect and scholarly exploits offered definitive proof that genius does not breed wisdom or moral strength, nor does firsthand experience of human atrocity lead one to eschew it. In my grandfather’s own oral history, he explained the impossibility of understanding the Holocaust if you did not witness or experience it. “You can read and study all the books,” he said. “If you weren’t there, you cannot imagine what
it was.” Henry Kissinger was there. He saw the horrors. He saw, in his own words, the “skeletons in striped suits,” the heads “held up by a stick that once might have been a throat,” “the empty faces, the dead eyes.” He knew that he may well have been among the dead if his Jewish German family had not fled the Nazis in 1938. And yet, when future regimes sought to unleash unspeakable violence against civilians—in some cases, to wipe out entire groups of people—he assisted and encouraged them."
If I may, if this is what defines Kissinger as a world-historical monster - the fact that he was a first-hand witness to atrocity, and nevertheless enabled atrocities - then this seems to me to be why Israel's retaliation against civilians in Gaza is horrifying. Because when a person, or a nation, is intimate with the worst things that humanity is capable of, that person, or that nation, should refuse to commit to commit such acts. Perhaps it's just personal, but I expect better from such people, or such nations- my own included. The United States is useless it is aspirational, and that's true of Israel as well.
Tuesday, November 07, 2023
Number 55 at my poling place this morning just after 8:30
Thursday, November 02, 2023
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
To Lyle Lovett and Leo Kottke last night at Kleinhans, a pleasant evening, although perhaps longer on conversation and shorter on playing than I might have have preferred. It was genial, rambling conversation, with Lovett mostly prompting Kottke. It was originally billed as an evening with Lovett and John Hiatt, but Hiatt hurt himself hiking, so Kottke filled in. Packed house, and I gotta say that any time I go to Kleinhans I marvel at how very nearly the hall comes close to stealing the show. Kottke didn't play any 12 string- he complained of stiffness in the little finger of his fretting hand- and it look a bit for his playing to loosen up, but a stiff Leo Kottke is still pretty amazing. Lovett, who I am a bit surprised we've not seen before, is, of course, hilarious. So that was a nice Tuesday evening
Thursday, October 05, 2023
Bob Dylan's Desire is oddly popular among some people, which suggests to me that with Dylan a person's point of entry matters a great deal. I think there are three of four solid songs on it. I think "Hurricane" slaps along, but is minor Dylan- it got a lot of airplay, and was popular with old hippies who liked Protest Song Dylan, but I've never trusted it.
The real low point on Desire is the song about Crazy Joey Gallo, an endless, tuneless dirge that gets so much wrong that it calls into question Dylan's reliability about everything else he ever wrote that was supposedly fact based. Interestingly this is one of the songs he wrote collaborating with Jacques Levy. Someday I will finish the piece I have in my Dylan files about Dylan's collaborators. In the meanwhile here's an excellent article by Lester Bangs about "Joey".
Wednesday, October 04, 2023
For some time I've been thinking that the likely end point for the Republican Party will be for whoever is left that is not infected with the Trump virus to unite with what we used to call Blue Dog Democrats to form a new conservative group. In some ways this might be what No Labels already is. This fusion would render the characters like Gaetz and Greene and their ilk irrelevant- vestigial, marginal figures whose sole agenda is self-aggrandizement. Of course, in order for this to happen it would be necessary to find enough Republican who believe that government and governance are important, and the prion disease that Ronald Reagan infected them with earlier may have already whipped those Republicans out.
I'm not advocating for this outcome- the conservative impulse in American politics is not something I'd like to see encouraged- but the present Republican Party is not a sustainable entity
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
The cinematic architecture of paranoia. When did conspiracy theories stop being left wing and become what they are today? For me it was when I realized that the government works more like the DMV than like a global cabal run by shadowy figures.