“This vicissitudes of our century have been summed up in a few exemplary photographs that have proved epoch-making: the unruly crowd pouring into the square during the “ten days that shook the world”; Robert Capa’s dying miliciano; the marines planting the flag on Iwo Jima; the Vietnamese prisoner being executed with a shot in the temple; Che Guevara’s tortured body on a plank in a barracks. Each of these images has become a myth and has condensed numerous speeches. It has surpassed the individual circumstance that produced it; it no longer speaks of that single character or of those characters, but expresses concepts. It is unique, but at the same time it refers to other images that preceded it or that, in imitation, have followed it. Each of these photographs seems a film we have seen and refers to other films that had seen it. Sometimes it isn’t a photograph but a painting, or a poster.” -Umberto Eco, A Photograph, Travels in Hyperreality
Why is it, dear worst-reader, that no one can actually just come out and say it? I really don’t get it. Is it because no one really knows what it is or have forgotten what it is, which makes saying it impossible? Or is it because it’s already been done, that is, it’s already been defeated and therefore cannot be reborn, so, again, it’s not worth saying? Nomatter. Here it goes. I’m worst-saying it: we are living in fascism. With that in mind, let’s try to worst-define it, shall we. For I have found that defining fascism takes a bit of effort. Oh my.
Fascism was first used in the totalitarian right-wing nationalist regime of Mussolini in Italy (1922–43); the Nazis in Germany and Franco in Spain were also Fascist. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. -a dictionary somewhere
Is that really a definition for fascism? Sounds kinda lame to me. But perhaps there’s more to just defining a word or an idear. I mean, can you define green? As we all know, like life, political systems evolve. Is it possible, like a virus or a gene, that this political system evolved so that it could survive even though it was defeated in 1945? Wait. Who/what was defeated in 1945? One of my favourite quotes regarding fascism is by the comedian George Carlin:
The Germans lost the war but fascism won.
And then there’s Umberto Eco’s definition(s) of fascism where he simply outlines fourteen ways of identifying it. In light of what’s happening in America since the invention of the right-wing propaganda network faux newz, I particular like Eco’s definition where he clearly states that a fascist state speaks newspeak: “fascism employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary in order to limit critical reasoning.”
Pretty scary stuff, eh worst-reader? The good thing is, well, at least we did defeat the dictators that latched on to this political ideology in 1945. The bad news is, fascism–like any living organism–has evolved. Boy has it evolved! In fact, it is so alive & well that it takes a trained, honed, precise academic eye to see it. Or maybe not. And so. I ask/answer the question: do we live in a fascist state? (Sarcasm on.) Long live the fascist society. (Sarcasm off.)
Below a published academic paper that I recently came across that blew my mind. Not one time is fascist or fascism mentioned in this paper. Yet after reading it I couldn’t help but dry-wipe my face, take a deep breath and then sigh with remorse contradicted by relief. Indeed. The fascist-states of Italy, Germany and Japan were beaten to a pulp by 1945. But ultimately the political ideology that gave the world the political leaders of those countries survived. I don’t know if I should applaud or throw myself off a building because this is so obvious–yet no one can speaks its name. Something is hiding in plain sight, dear worst-reader. And what is made very clear in the paper is that after studying 1,779 policy issues throughout the American political system, and I quote:
Analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.
That is obvious, right? I mean, of course that happens. Of course economic elites and organised groups represents business interests and influence government policy. It happens everyday. It’s been happening since… a long time. It’s like breathing. Right?
With your indulgence, dear worst-reader, it’s now time for Tommi’s, aka worst-writer’s definition of fascism. Fascism was the answer to communism. Fearing the almost miraculous Bolshevik revolution that did its best to reinvent the French Revolution on Russian soil, European capitalists quickly saw the potential of the downfall of the Tsars and the rise of political ideology that was very threatening–to capitalism. The answer to this was/is simple: align nationalism with business. These two elements of society would govern everything in their own best interests and do so with dictators. And we all know what happened to those dictators.
But I must say, George Carlin really got it right. This political system has evolved beyond belief. In fact, it’s evolved so well that no one is even capable of speaking its name. At least THEY can’t speak its name in academic papers published in academic journals that are read by elite academics–and worst-writer. And so. With that in worst-mind, we are not living in a fascist state. No. That was defeated. (Sarcasm on.) Long live the fascist society.
Good luck suckers. Rant on. -Tommi
Travels In Hyperreality by Umberto Eco
“Travels in Hyperreality” is a collection of essays by Umberto Eco. I don’t know exactly when I first read this book and that’s starting to bother me – even though it doesn’t matter. Over the years I keep pulling this book from different book shelves where I instinctively know to find it. There is no order to my library – which means I probably can’t call my book collection a library. Nomatter. I then use this book to mend thoughts it embedded in me. I compare these thoughts to small metal splinters that I put under my skin before traveling in order to poke fun at TSA employees and the whole concept of American’t becoming Bigger Brother. The first essay is about how Amerika reconstructs and (artificially) reproduces Europe in order to find – or seem as though it is looking for – an identity. Umberto Eco obviously put a lot of effort into understanding American’t. Hats off to him for such an effort. The pic above is an example of one of the pages in the book and how I sometimes lose control when it comes to jotting down thoughts. I know I should use other forms of note taking but this is the way things are. Why fight it?
Even though I wish I could, for the sake of going through it all once again, I can’t list all the stuff I underlined in this book, so I’ve only taken from the first chapter. Without further adieu here just a few thoughts out of the head of the literary genius Umberto Eco:
- “There is another, more secret America (or rather, just as public, but snubbed by the European visitor and also by the American intellectual); and it creates somehow a network of references and influences that finally spread also to the products of high culture and the entertainment industry. It has to be discovered.”
- “…a surplus to throw away–that’s prosperity.”
- “The authenticity the Ripliey’s Museums advertise is not historical, but visual. Everything looks real, and there it is real; in any case the fact that it seems real is real, and the thing is real even if, like Alice in Wonderland, it never existed.”
- “We are giving you the reproduction so you will no longer feel any need for the original.”
- “It is like making love in a confessional with a prostitute dressed in prelate’s liturgical robes reciting Baudelaire while ten electronic organs reproduce the Well Tempered Clavier played by Scriabin.”
- “… man considers his right foot a limb designed for pressing the accelerator, and the left an atrophied appendix, because cars no longer have a clutch.”
- “And so the Last Beach ideology develops its thirst for preservation of art from an imperialistic efficiency, but at the same time it is the bad conscience of this imperialistic efficiency, just as cultural anthropology is the bad conscience of the white man who thus pays his debt to the destroyed primitive cultures.”
- “If America is the country of the Guggenheim Museum or the new skyscrapers of Manhatten, then Disneyland is a curious exception and American intellectuals are quite right to refuse to go there. But if America is what we have seen in the course of our trip, then Disneyland is its Sistine Chapel, and the hyper realists of the art galleries are only the timid voyeurs of an immense and continuous ‘found object’.”
Baudolino by Umberto Eco
One thing leads to another. So they say. Conveniently this coincides with the fact that reading, for moi, serves a single purpose. To learn. When I read something that is also entertaining, sometimes I’ll get out of my chair, off the can, up from the cot and jump for joy. After I finished Baudolino by Umberto Eco and after I caught my breath from so much jumping, my jaw dropped and I just stood there in awe. I was so enamored by the fact that I had just read something Fantastica,Meraviglioso, Ipnotizzante… and my eyes started to swell up at the thought of living this life and being able to experience something that I can only compare to magic.
Baudolino is my fourth novel by Eco. Before it I read Name of the Rose, then Faucault’s Pendulum, followed by The Island of the Day Before. And get this: I never finished Island of the Day Before. In fact, I had such a hard time getting into that book, I thought that I should put Eco down for a while and move on to reading Gore Vidal — which I did. So when I returned to Eco with Baudolino I was a bit skeptical. After a few hours I was a third through the book and at the same time, even though I wasn’t finished, I was strapping myself to the chair (or cot or can) so that I wouldn’t interrupt my reading by jumping up down.
Let’s be clear here. Tommi thinks that Umberto Eco is probably the greatest living novelist and in the future he will simply be one of the greatest writers that ever lived. Even though Island of the Day Before threw me for a loop, Baudolino is so good that every human being should be required to read it. It is both a fantasy and a history. It is also a chronicle of mystery and mythology. It is also a parchment detailing human discovery and invention. And don’t worry, that’s not all. As I said, reading serves only one purpose for me. After reading this book, the thing that made my jaw drop, is the fact that I feel as though my mind just went through the single greatest expansion ever in the hours it took me to get through 500+ pages. The effect this book had on me is so profound that even as I write this post my eyes fill once again at the thought of being born and being given, somehow, this life, and by chance to discover and consume such a piece of work/art. I am truly blessed and deeply indebted to Mr. Eco.
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
See through the cult, beware of popularity, steer away from the crowd, swim up river, break through to the other side… THINK FOR YOURSELF.
It’s a long journey figuring out one’s environment, aka figuring out the time and space that is you. One of the conclusions I’ve made in this journey is this: the Christian and Anglo-Saxon world that has reared me is not something I will recommend or praise to the aliens when they finally arrive to save us from ourselves (or watch us suffer our last breath). Of course, my journey of the three D’s — discovery, destitute, and the ultimate deliverance — has not ended, even though more than half of life is over. Therefore. Read. Read well. Read lots.
When life is fully over at least I can claim that I was able to find a cool, real world example of conspiracy theory (or the like) being out-done by reality. The reality, in this case, is a book of fiction written by the great Umberto Eco called “Foucault’s Pendulum”. Obviously, it is silly of me to try and compare this brilliant piece of work/art to something proclaimed to be a pseudo history and something else that is nothing but a work of plagiarism. But I will do it, in brief, all the same.
I’m a sucker for good writing. Combine that with a great story… I’m head over heels, baby! I’m not afraid to admit that the pseudo history and conspiracy theory par excellence “Holy Blood Holy Grail” whipped me off my feet. I read the thing in two and half days. I loved the way the books three authors intertwined journalism and story telling about a subject matter that, with an open mind, can be quite titillating. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, btw, is openly referred to as a pseudo-history. Which only makes me ask: why isn’t Dan Brown’s plagiarism of it referred to as a pseudo-novel? Anywho.
At the time, due to the popularity of the Jesus legacy subject matter, I ended up filling my thirst for knowledge — regarding why people were so fascinated with the heritage of a man that was supposedly born of a virgin but potentially might find vengeance in maybe, just maybe, fathering a deity child of his own — by reading most of the secondary literature Dan Brown plagiarized, including Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
Long story short. After I read a small library of stuff on the whole Jesus-life and associated myths, I read Eco’s brilliant Foucault’s Pendulum. Upon completion I read in an article that this wonderful book, in certain circles, is known as the thinking man’s Da Vinci Code. I was so proud because something in me picked the right book to read and not just the popular one. Eco is able to take a century old idear and myth and make something pure and truthful out of it simply by making his fiction original and unique – as opposed to Brown who steals, regurgitates and writes for the popularity not of his readers but for his greedy publishers.
Here a quote from Eco that might be of interest (source Wiki):
Asked whether he had read the Brown novel, Eco replied:
I was obliged to read it because everybody was asking me about it. My answer is that Dan Brown is one of the characters in my novel Foucault’s Pendulum, which is about people who start believing in occult stuff.
– But you yourself seem interested in the kabbalah, alchemy and other occult practices explored in the novel.
No. In Foucault’s Pendulum I wrote the grotesque representation of these kind of people. So Dan Brown is one of my creatures.
- Dan Brown – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Da Vinci author scorns copy claim
- Foucault’s Pendulum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Umberto Eco – Authors – Books – Literature – The Name of the Rose – New York Times
Rant (and read) on.