Henri Issacson's Blog

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mermaids play

mermaids, girl flesh

sans nether regions

treasures of the sea

on dark blue waves

lashes flash, you froth

beckon the blue eyes

bacchae the blow holes

waves sing to & throe

a song that lures you

into a wet blue fuck

no god can save you

love, the death of you.

variation on abdellatif laabi

here i am

               right here

the velvet night falls

               bristling with wasps

the bacon smell of muscle

a maritonette skeleton

               that camel bounds

from you to me.

lost days

i am an addict.  what i lose–the sweet obliteration of days that fly, birds in flight, you can’t catch them, they pass through your fingers, the death of art, sweet bliss of la petit morte, the mundane distraction that turns the day.

Dear Shintaro Kago

I am a fan of your work. I love your dualism of the external and the internal, the cute and the grotesque, etc. I am especially interested in this perspective since I was diagnosed with abnormal internal organs (X-Ray available on request). I also love Zen & Japanese culture. Please provide English translations of your manga works (and I will buy them all). I would be willing to assist you in the United States. My Japanese is very poor but I write in my spare time and could edit your English translations if needed. 

 So here is the request. 

 Style 17- myself with face circle cut out and fluids pouring out. 

 Style 15- my wife with head being unwrapped and bubble candy floating out. 

 Style 11- my disembodied head (on hands) being driven by a small version of my wife. 

 Style 25- with my cut open head being used as a noodle bowl and my wife eating the noodles. 

 I will send a down payment. See pictures below. If you require more for this let me know or if this is unacceptable let me know. 

 I would also like to purchase Summer Festival, The Girl that a Face was Destroyed, Girl Illustrated Book, Exposition of Giant Girl and Zombie Schoolgirl. I have included an additional amount for these items. 

 Please send me an email with revised shipping costs. I know shipping from Japan is very expensive as I buy much Japanese vinyl. 

 I hope to be back in my beloved Kyoto early next year. 

 Dōmo Arigatōgozaimash (Thank you very much in Kanji). 

“Mother of Pearl” by Roxy Music: The Greatest Song without a Wikipedia Entry

 IT is perhaps the most other worldly song since the poem “Strange Fruit” was set to music by the communist Abel Meeropol & song into life by Billie Holiday. It is on the middle record of a five record creative period by the band Roxy Music between 1972-1975. 

 Stranded, is the 1973 record with Playmate Marilyn Cole on the cover.  She is an incomprehensibly full figured woman who could not exist in our overly fit time.  She lies ravaged on a tropical rock, barely contained in a ripped dress, sprawled over the outside of a gatefold cover, conscious but weak. She looks into the lens of the photographer, a stand-in voyeur for the adolescent male in all of us. 

 It was the first Roxy Music record I purchased, undoubtedly because it was the one with the most transgressive album art for my Clockwork Orange influenced young mind. * Her body is full, ripe, a morsel for a bored god, her full breasts plainly outlined by her wet dress with the large areola de rigueur for a fleshy 1970s sexpot. 

 She is stranded, jettisoned from an airplane crash of course, a refugee from a glamorous life. She is a strange attractant for the buyer but she sets the listener up for the loss of context you will get from the music contained within. As you listen, you realize she is not on any island you would recognize. She might as well be lying on a rock in the fourth ring of Saturn. 

 The music contained inside is even better than the cover—as if Sun Ra made art rock instead of jazz. The great guitar work by Manzanera is balanced with keyboard, strings & oboe, the sounds of European pop turned inside out into another dimension. Bryan Ferry’s voice has even more vibrato than usual, a French chanson singer crooning from another planet. 

 On side one is the song that I think sets up expectations for “Mother of Pearl,” “Just Like You.” He croons the opening lines in a fey voice: 

“Buttercups daisies 
And most anything 
They wither and fade 
After blossom in Spring 
 
Time conquers innocence 
Pride takes a fall 
In knowledge lies wisdom 
That’s all…” 

Astonishing in this cock-metal time of Led Zeppelin. 

 But on side two lurks the masterpiece. The song that precedes “Mother of Pearl” is “A Song for Europe.” Bryan Ferry sings the last two verses of that song in French. It is the song on the record that has the most European pretension; it is an overt chanson in my mind. 

 But it is the song that follows that is the black hole for what will follow in popular music. A song that contains punk, sexually ambiguous glam, new wave & every musical pretension that I care about, a song that is so otherworldly that it resets the brain for what is possible with music. 

 It opens with a blitzkrieg of sound, the guitar attack of Phil Manzanera channeling the ghost of Robyn Trower. Ferry’s voice has a punk rasp:

 “Turn the lights down
Way down low 
Turn up the music 
Hi as Fi can go” 

 The aggressive sound clears your mind’s palette. You have been reset. You have entered a party: 

 “All the gang’s here 
Everyone you know 
It’s a crazy scene 
Hey there just look over your shoulder 
Get the picture? 
No no no no!  

… 
 
What’s your number? 
Never you mind 
Take a powder 
But hang on a minute 
What’s coming round the corner?) 
Have you a future? 
No no no no…” 
 

 But quickly, the song shifts into a slow alien time signature, the slow languid reggae of another planet. Underneath the chirping beat swells propulsive drumming. Over this churn, is the croon of Bryan Ferry as a bored god in another plane of existence—lounging on the pampered cushions of the 1% of the 1%, toying with the varied delights of a perfect youth: 

“Well, I’ve been up all night again 
Party time wasting is too much fun 
Then I step back thinking 
Of life’s inner meaning and my latest fling 
 
It’s the same old story 
All love and glory, it’s a pantomime 
If you’re looking for love 
In a looking glass world 
It’s pretty hard to find 
 
Oh, mother of pearl 
I wouldn’t trade you 
For another girl 
Divine intervention 
Always my intention 
So I take my time 
 
I’ve been looking for something 
I’ve always wanted but was never mine 
But now I’ve seen that something 
Just out of reach glowing very Holy grail 
 
Oh, mother of pearl 
Lustrous lady of a sacred world 
Thus even Zarathustra 
Another time loser 
Could believe in you 
 
With every Goddess a let down 
Every idol a bring down, it gets you down 
But the search for perfection 
Your own predilection 
Goes on and on and on and on 
 
… 
 
Serpentine sleekness 
Was always my weakness 
Like a simple tune 
But no dilettante, filigree fancy 
Beats the plastic you 
 
… 

Few throwaway kisses 
The boomerang misses 
Spin round and round 
Fall on featherbed quilted 
Faced with silk 
Softly stuffed eider down 
 
Take refuge in pleasure 
Just give me your future 
We’ll forget your past 
 
Oh, Mother of Pearl 
Submarine lover 
In a shrinking world 
Oh, lonely dreamer 
Your choker provokes 
A picture cameo 
 
Oh, Mother of Pearl 
So so semi precious 
In your detached world 
Oh, Mother of Pearl 
I wouldn’t trade you 
For another girl” 

 …  

 I always end up in the sonic bliss of another dimension of existence. 

 I direct all readers to watch the band’s period performance of the song on the German television show Der Musikladen dated 23 January 1974. I am dumbfounded why this moment is not celebrated as a seminal event in the future of popular music. It is certainly as important as the roar of the Sex Pistols a few years later. Because that 6 minutes, 53 seconds contains the future of punk, sexually ambiguous glam, new wave & popular music up to the present time. 

* It had less overt nudity than the twin topless groupies of Country Life. Of course, Country Life was the next Roxy Music record I purchased. 

Satan asks…

Satan asks…

Why not war with God?

We fight them in His Name.

He will kill us in the end?

God rebuts…

Pay Her no mind.

We are at war with Her evil.

Questions are Her end.

A Definitive List of Make-out Music

Legal Disclaimer, the list excludes the following choices (which would make the list impossible to compile):

All music by Al Green, Marvin Gaye, all Brazilian music, all flamenco music made by greasy gipsy troubadour types. All music that serves as a “decoder-ring” for certain types of transcendent drug use, such as the combination of Jamaican dance-hall & marijuana as well as electronic-music & Ecstasy. All music that has passed onto the realm of cliché, hence no Jose Feliciano or Vanessa Daou.

With those out of the way, here is the list in no particular order:

Kate Bush, the Sensual World

Roy Harper, the Green Man

Twilight Singers, Twilight as played by the Twilight Singers

The Bird and the Bee, the Bird & the Bee

Tricky, Maxinquaye

Goldie, Inner City Life (not the song but the extended EP of single variations)

David Bowie, Heathen

Roxy Music, Avalon (though on the edge of cliché)

Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain

Jill Scott, Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1

The Golden Palominos, This Is How It Feels

Serge Gainsbourg, Histoire de Melody Nelson

I also want to piss all you literary-types off by not including any music by the Smiths, Morrissey, REM’s first record or Revolver.

My current project, an extended fable entitled “Buddha v. Beast”

Statement of major theme, minor themes unfold organically as the plot grows…

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. Well, some monkey did. He saw him in his robes. He put him down. He put two well-aimed bullets into Buddha’s skull. He dropped him like a deer.

Ananda found his guru face down. His blood seeping back into the earth. The womb accepts this blood back. A rebirth.

Ananda picks up the gandhi. He cradles him in his arms. He staggers with his weak vegetarian legs. Despite the weight of this vessel. The vessel of the Buddha’s selfless form.

He moves down the path with the body.

Down the path, he is out numbered. He sees other monks approach. He sees Kassapa, his forever arch-rival. Kassapa is being held aloft. Kassapa is in a vassal. He sits away from the sun in a carriage that is supported on two long beams. Monks hold the beams to carry him aloft. The carriage is rough hewn, forged by his starving monks. The carriage is soulful. It has no quality of the regal but has a depth, a resonance that escapes kings.

Ananda faces Kassapa. Neither man cares about the Truth. Ananda carries the dead body of the Buddha. He is preoccupied with the Good. Kassapa is weightless in the sky. For he has entered the stream. He is an arhant. He is preoccupied with the Mind. The followers who hold him up will follow in his lineage.

Around this contest between these two successors of the Buddha range the monkeys- vicious, elemental, crazed, impulse-driven beasts. They carry nothing beyond the violence of their desire, the stimulation of their cocks, etc.

“The most perfect pussy in the world, etc.”

Half way through the book, the reader discovers that the monkeys are us, spoiled fearful fat Americans addicted to stimulation, consumption and conquest.

“Ah yes. Ananda is not the goal the escape of the burnings of the mind? And are we not hard at fast at the same goal? To be free of the burnings of samsara?”

cockroaches II

in my work, i have extended blocks of time off, alone at home, my wife still working endless hours. i retreat into a solitary existence, like the movie papillon with hours of solitary confinement. one of course wonders about cockroaches, why they always seem to have arrived and never seen arriving. and when attacked, they never return the way of their arrival to keep their secret to their end. one assumes that they have been teleported by their alien technology & they always die with the ease of the unknown actor who is beamed down to your hostile planet.

and than thoughts of the sex pistols playing san antonio texas in 1978 at an unlikely venue called randy’s rodeo. you watch it as the 178th viewer when you should be doing something more useful. as you expect, a clash of monumental cultures, the one you identity with versus faux cowboys. and the surprising thing is how passionate the parties feel, like music mattered beyond the pawning of mere product. johnny rotten calls the audience faggots & the cowboys think the same as they throw shit back. and i laugh as sid vicious beats a cowboy over the head with his bass at the music’s end.

but the passion, like protecting their virginal daughter from rock & roll abuse. and now do we give a shit? our emotions played by things other than music, we are now bored when cut off, as drained of emotion as a libertine at the end of a bender. try to entertain me, it will take more than that. i see my reflection in the screen, my attempt to lose myself a failure. we spend a whole life running from our reflection. do we know ourselves really?

The Qualities of the Authoritarian Mind (or I’m the mutha-fucking Jane Goodall of Far-Right Primate Study)

The qualities of the Authoritarian Mind have been drawn into sharp focus with the rise of the Internet and the emergence of political tribalism over the last decade. For the last decade, I have been observing far-right behavior both in the wild (my workplace, my neighbor, Fox News, the wanderings of C-SPAN) and in captivity (my family around the holiday table). In these travels, I have been convinced that the difference between the far-right & the rest of us is not due to simple differences of opinion but rather to fundamental differences in mind.

You heard me. I claim far-right minds are different in neurological function. Specifically, I say they have differences in perception, belief projection & resonance. I will clarify this below.

At the outset I would like to state that I am not a neurobehaviorist but I observe the human condition in a professional manner. I am well aware that other writers have written on this subject in a more skilled & knowledgeable fashion. This list would include Umberto Eco, Richard Hofstadter, Eric Hoffer, Chris Hedges, Naomi Wolf, Sebastian Haffner, George Orwell and so on. I have read all of them and my apologies to those that I have plagiarized. But I would also like to credit the far-right themselves. Because if you listen closely to them, they say will describe their mental structure/function in a surprisingly self-aware fashion. This is especially true when they speak to others of their ilk such as at the Conservative Political Action Conference or the Republican Convention.

I define the far-right interchangeably as authoritarians, Republican Party faithful, tea-party members, ditto-heads, religious fundamentalists, fascists, monarchists, racists, etc. They are present in all societies (or nations) and come to prominence at multiple points in history. I suspect that around 20% of humans fall into this category. I suspect they are mostly created at birth with only minimal influence by upbringing & environment. They are the 20% who provided a floor to President Bush’s approval ratings during his dark years.

Most writings on this subject quote the landmark essay by Umberto Eco entitled “Ur-Fascism” and I do the same. I always felt that his fourteen-point list was more or less complete but lacked the essence of what made authoritarians tick. And I always thought the list could be shorter. But several lines in the essay are profound. Speaking of the cult of tradition, he states, “There can be no advancement of learning…the truth has already been announced…all we can do is continue interpreting its obscure message.” On the cult of action, he states, “action is beautiful…and must be implemented before…reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.” And so on.

What follows are what I think are the four principle qualities of the authoritarian mind. After this list is presented, I will hypothesize the two over-arching processes that lead to these qualities. I believe a neurological basis in terms of cognitive structure/function exists to explain the two processes.

Number one- “Crusadism.” Authoritarian minds have a compulsive need to convert others to their perspective. This includes invading a middle-eastern country and bringing free market beliefs such as a flat tax, corporate rights & ‘the market will rebuild their infrastructure’ while ignoring the overt suffering caused by the invasion. Or more mundane, your uncle giving you his poorly formed political idea unprompted at the family table.

Number two- “Dominionism.” Authoritarian minds do not see themselves as connected to the wide tapestry of life around them. They have perceptional blindness to their human mortal state. They do not see themselves as biological animals. They are oblivious to their connection to life around them. The planet has been bequeathed to them by the right-hand of God. The planet will endure by their hand because God has given it to them.

Number three- Paranoia. Authoritarian minds are highly suspicious of others. This is the classic quality that many have comment on. I would define this as intolerance to those who don’t resonate their beliefs precisely. Think of David Frum and his expulsion from the American Enterprise Institute.

Number four- Dualism. Authoritarian minds thrive in the constriction of language & avoidance of relativism (as they freely admit). Language is parsed to opposites- Good/Evil, Capitalism/Socialism, Right/Left, Christian/Secular, Heartland/Coast, etc. As Orwell coined it-“newspeak.” This is Umberto Eco’s Ur-Fascism point #14.

So what are the two processes that give birth to the above qualities? I would hypothesize two- Projection & Resonance. From these two neurological processes, I propose the other four qualities emerge.

First, let me explain how I feel most people are organized in opposition to projection. I think most people are perceptive to varying degrees. They observe their surroundings before making judgments & plans for action. Their behavior has a loose relationship to their innate beliefs and these beliefs are in constant evolution as they progress through life. They make moral decisions based on their ‘heart’ some distance from belief.

I think Authoritarians are stunted in terms of perception of the world that surrounds them and have a very different relationship with belief, namely they project belief.

Process one- Projection. Instead of perception, the authoritarian mind is organized around projection. They have core unalterable beliefs and a need to project them to the greater world. They do this at the expense of perception to a fault. They make no bones about this quality. Their speeches are rife with references to being true to “core beliefs & conservative principles.” They enumerate these core beliefs & principles. In fact, their speeches are little more than an emphasis on ‘being true to core beliefs’ & listing them to the exclusion of other rhetorical devices such as persuasion & argument. Think of how they respond to the run-on belief-fragments (memes) of a Sarah Palin speech. Some of these core beliefs include:

“The invisible hand of the market is always right.”

“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ brings ever-lasting life.”

“Government can never improve our lives.”

“Rules descend from God’s Natural Law.”

“Life starts at conception.”

And so on. These beliefs are thought unalterable and meant to be articles for projection to others like immutable DNA. The problem is that these beliefs are not true. So when these beliefs are projected unto the larger world it seems to create cognitive dissonance in authoritarians under observation. But to the authoritarian, the world only needs to be altered to match their internal world-view to bring their beliefs back into reality.

Process two- Resonance. Authoritarian minds are unstable in isolation. They have a strong innate need to achieve belief-resonance with others of their tribe. Another term, courtesy of Rush Limbaugh, that could be used to describe the same phenomenon is ‘dittoing.’

It is well known that authoritarian minds are often in strong agreement with each other. Compare this to rag-tag groups of centralists & leftists. Think about the difference between the tea-party falling behind moneyed authority versus the disarray of the 99%. Listen to the perfect resonance of Republicans to their ‘talking-points’ versus the rest of us. Wonder at how they love their few media outlets (Limbaugh, Fox, Drudge), which provide constriction of belief by design.

(I predict that no centrist or leftist media outlet will ever achieve the same popularity as these laser-sharp megaphones of right-wing belief. I say this only because of differences of mind between them & us and for no other reason.)

Science has identified mirror neurons in primates. Mirror neurons have been implicated in mimicry of action and empathy but higher-order cognitive function such as belief have been mere conjuncture. Still, I propose something analogous to mediate this behavior in right-wing brains.

Individuals who are outside of their right-wing beliefs, or out of resonance with their belief, are objects of directed paranoia. Multiple examples would include (but not be limited to) President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros, ACORN, secularists, atheists, academics, east-coast elitists, Hollywood Jewish Moguls, homosexuals, climate scientists, environmentalists, community organizers, union members, Mexicans, etc. One must resonate with their projections of belief or risk harm. I predict they would author books with run-on lists of these individuals.

So what does all this nonsense mean in practical life? I would propose that is impossible to dislodge a mind from the iron grip of authoritarianism and it is a waste of time to try to change their minds. Instead, I think their influence needs to be contained, or isolated, from the rest of humanity.

How does one do this? I give as an example—the weakening of authoritarian racism over the last sixty years. At no point, was it thought prudent to try to change the mind of a racist.

First, I think authoritarians kowtow to overt authority & power relationships. One must project a strong well-informed image to heal them. Again, think of the effect of the Federal Government on damping southern race crimes.

Second, I think you need to fight their foundational beliefs head on in the court of public opinion. Their core beliefs need to be fought at all times to keep them off balance. Think of the Freedom Riders in changing white American attitudes on race relations.

Third, one must promote infighting among them and expose their scandals. I realize this is of dubious morality, but it is fundamentally a true statement. Think of how the government destroys radical groups it perceives to be harmful.

That is it for now. I hear Jane Goodall has unleashed a horde of chimpanzees to beat my ass.