Subject: ON WAR, WHERE THE ENDS ARE ALWAYS USED TO JUSTIFY THE MEANS.
Memorial Day 2012
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
We live in a world at war, jammed with propaganda and marketing; psychological warfare and advertising influence our every move, our every thought; our lives are mediated by the wars waged against us by self-identified groups seeking specific advantages, and willing and able to use us as their means to their ends. This is the essence of warfare, using various instruments to treat people as things to be manipulated, and while the strategies, tactics and logistics differ with time and place, the results are largely universal: once you have been reduced to a “useful pawn,” it is difficult to reclaim your full humanity. One common alternative is to seek other “useful pawns” and to manipulate them so as to become an actor at a higher level. This is the paradigm of human relationships --of male/female relations, of adult/child relations, and even human/animal relations-- all of which frequently reflect the inescapable violence of domination/subjugation, which is ubiquitous in capitalist society.
Professor Anthony Wilden stated it clearly when he wrote: Capitalism in times of economic crisis does not need war ; capitalism, at every moment, is war. The same forces that benefit from reducing wages, cutting health benefits, and creating unemployment, are those that benefit from bombing villages and towns, and sending in troops to attack populations in foreign countries. All this is done for private profits, or it wouldn’t happen at all ; and the investors are the same people, with the same family names, the same addresses.
What is it that keeps us from seeing this reality, from understanding the implications of the political economic structure that binds us to our daily lives of servitude to which we have grown so accustomed? Is art a necessary experience to make us conscious of this bondage?
Fraser’s spiral, illustrated here, makes [an] important point about vision. What we say may not be what is there to be seen. Although the diagram appears to illustrate a spiral form surging to the center, it is actually constructed on a series of concentric circles. Even when we know this it is almost impossible to see it, so carefully has the spiral implication been set up. Human vision is, therefore, not only deceptively selective but it may also be subject to supplying misinformation.
Fraser spiral illusion
A specialist may deliberately be selective in his vision, using it in detailed concentration on his specialization; a botanist will look for and see more in the heart of a flower –and, incidentally, understand more of what he sees—than will an uninterested layman. In other respects, his vision will be similar to the layman’s when looking at, say, animals. The poet too may see or be inspired by different things in the heart of a flower. The English poet and artist William Blake encapsulated the effect of vision when he wrote “A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.”
And what of the artist’s vision? He clearly depends on his visual perceptivity, which, traditionally, he has been at pains to train. His range of visual interest is likely to be wide, and he will also be sensitive to natural visual effects, such as colors, textures, etc. He may be interested in light and form, and all the elements that have traditionally gone into painting and sculpture. As a result, he will have, and so be able to use, more visual information than a layman would. At the same time his visual selection and suppression will be as wide ranging and personal as anyone else’s and for the same reasons.
We may then reflect upon what is offered in representational art. Is it what the artist actually sees or what he chooses to see? Is it what effects of light or distance have deceived him into believing he sees? Or is it what the observer is able to see, chooses to see, or is deceived into believing he sees? How far does the work coincide with the observer’s own notion of what is there to be seen?
In practice accurate representation that could be used as a yardstick for an objective evaluation is impossible. Perhaps the best that may be said is that each artist has produced a visual image that bears sufficient reference to an observer’s experience that he may, at that moment, respond to it.
There is a further obstacle to accurate representation in painting. Even if we were able to make an objectively accurate mental transcription of what was presented to our vision in preparation for constructing on the picture surface, we would not be able to do so since the range of hue and tone available in color pigments and manufactured paints is not as wide as that encountered in nature. The tonal range from black to white (tone is the degree of light or dark on a black to white scale) in paints does not correspond to the range from natural brightness to deepest cellar dark. . . .
All this establishes merely what the painter knows as soon as he begins to paint –that he has to compromise with vision, to make certain choices as, for example, whether to paint in a high key or low key.(Michael W L Kitson, et al., Art and Society, A guide to the Visual Arts, Trewin Copplestone Inc., 1983,pp.28-29)
A syllogism attributed to Plato goes: “Imitation is bad; all art is imitative; therefore all art is bad.” But this idea assumes that all art is representative; since the development of photography after the 1850s, abstract art appeared to produce effects other than mere reflections of reality.
Period vision operates at two levels; firstly, it determines the view a period holds of itself and , secondly, it identifies a period for outside observers. . . . .
Not only do we select what we want or need to see, but, in a sense, most of us usually also perceive only what our society and age encourage us to see –or, perhaps more accurately, what values and standards society holds and we embrace. When an artist looks at his subject matter, intellectually or visually, he is always to some extent searching for what his society expects of him. He is conditioned to share his society’s interest and values, and what he chooses to see and use will be affected by the social values of his time. This is evident in the work of architects, sculptors, painters and craftsmen.
The term usually adopted to characterize such identification of period is ‘style’. . . . . The advantage of some of these labels is that they do not describe but only identify . . . . (p.30)
Nowhere has the banality of social class warfare been so realistically depicted than by Oscar Wild, in his short, short story, “The Birthday of the Infanta.” This gem of a lesson is sent to you, as a warning on Memorial Day 2012, from your friends at CEIMSA :
by Oscar Wilde
The 6 items below offer CEIMSA readers a contemporary slice from material reality which could be interpreted as a virtual paradigm of their culture and therefore their lives. It is cruel and artless, but important to recognize, for it is our present going into our future, with or without us . . . .
Item A., from New York University Professor Mark Crispin Miller, is an update on news coverage of “Lockerbie Bomber”, by Russ Baker.
Item B., sent to us by Information Clearing House, in the home video coverage of the torture and murder of Col. Muammar Gaddafi on 20 October 2011.
Item C., from War in Context, is video made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) exposing the US military’s practice of animal mutilation in training exercises.
Item D, is the 8 June memorial of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was attacked in international waters on June 8, 1967, killing 34 Americans and wounding another 174.
Item E., from The Nation magazine, is an article on The May 2012 Labor Notes Conference in
Item F., from Democracy Now!, is the Memorial Day Special, May 28, 2012.
And finally, we invite CEIMSA readers to “get to know” The US House of Representatives, district by district, via humor on the Colbert Report :
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 22 May 2012
Subject: Sweeping Libya under the carpet.
Burying the “Lockerbie Bomber”—And the Truth
by Russ Baker
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 25 October 2012
Subject: The torture and murder of Col. Muammar Gaddafi on 20 October 2012.
An analysis of video obtained by "Global Post" from a rebel fighter who recorded the moment when Col. Muammar Gaddafi was first captured confirms that another rebel fighter, whose identity is unknown, sodomized the former leader as he was being dragged from the drainpipe where he had taken cover.
A frame by frame analysis of this exclusive GlobalPost video clearly shows the rebel trying to insert some kind of stick or knife into Gaddafi's rear end.
An analysis appears to confirm that a rebel fighter sodomized Gaddafi with a knife.
By Tracey Shelton
(WARNING: THESE FILMS SHOW GRAPHIC SCENES OF VIOLENCE)
Gaddafi Sodomized By NATO Supported Rebels
Video shows abuse frame by frame (GRAPHIC)
from War in Context :
Date: 30 April 2012
Subject: Amimal mutiliation for training by the US military.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Amimals (PETA) reports that each year, more than 10,000 live animals are shot, stabbed, mutilated, and killed in horrific military training exercises that are supposed to simulate injuries on the battlefield. But the training exercises that are taking place in these highly secret courses bear no resemblance to real battlefield conditions — and they don’t help soldiers save the lives of their injured comrades. [See also, http://forcechange.com/19981/tell-u-s-military-to-stop-mutilating-animals-for-medical-training-purposes/.]
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 30 April 2012
Subject: The 8 June Memorial of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967.
The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a U.S. Navy intelligence ship, USS Liberty, in international waters about 12.5 nautical miles (23 km) from the coast of the Sinai Peninsula, north of El Arish, by Israeli fighter planes and torpedo boats on June 8, 1967.
It occurred during the Six-Day War, a conflict between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The Israeli attack killed 34 U.S. servicemen and wounded at least 173. The attack was the second deadliest against a U.S. Naval vessel since the end of World War II, surpassed only by the Iraqi Exocet missile attack on the USS Stark on May 17, 1987, and marked the single greatest loss of life by the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Dead In The Water - The Sinking of the USS Liberty
from The Nation magazine :
Date: 23 May 2012
Subject: Class Warfare in Chicago.
Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey, who was elected in 2010 with a slate of new leaders, said at a press conference Tuesday, “There is no funding for a longer day.” The CTU has put forward its own reform plan, which includes infrastructure improvements, smaller classes and more professional development. “There are 160 schools with no libraries,” noted Sharkey, even as “the city is opening sixty new charter schools.”
Sharkey’s comments echoed those of Chicago teacher Jennifer Johnson, who addressed the Labor Notes conference in the city earlier this month. Johnson teaches history at Lincoln Park High School in North Chicago, a diverse public neighborhood school that also has selective enrollment. Johnson’s father and grandfather were both teachers. She loves her job, but she’ll strike if she has to, she told me. It’d be “doing justice” to her pupils.
from Democracy Now ! :
Date: 28 May 2012
Subject: Memorial Day Special, 2012.
"Memorial Day Special, May 28, 2012"