Essay

What Fortune Can Effect [Short Fiction]

Hugo Ball died in 1927 at the age of 41. He was born in 1886. I am not assuming that you cannot add and subtract dates from dates, years from years to determine age. Hugo Ball was one of the founding members of the Dada movement . . . DADA was a bomb!  Who said that? I think I once knew. What then do we call movements in art history–isn’t it history, everything that has ever happened whether it receives historiographic re-presentation or not? There is no writing of history, really. History is something that happens independent of whether someone writes it or tells it or shows it. Historiography is what we support or have a problem with or question or critique when we do not like how history has been handled; but not the conclusion that some of us draw when we say that history is only in the telling, or that history is only what this leadership or that leadership get to say . . . it is not a matter of their being no Truth–there is Truth–but so long as we conclude otherwise, soloing as we allow ourselves to say, to teach, to preach that Truth is false that Truth does not exist, we will continue to confuse historiography for history.

Ball left the Zurich centered movement, revolving around the Cafe Voltaire in that city, citing that Dada and Dadaist antics were only flirtations with what was seriously wrong with European Bourgeois Civilization–and the Bolsheviks had their own response for that. The Bolsheviks were not wrong, you know. I understand how some of you might want to entertain that latter statement of mine, only with the anxious rejoinder, but they went too far. If any one of us were Lenin, we most certainly would have done the same. That is what the Stanislavski What if demands us to know. The thing is, if Lenin were I, he would have murdered more–and I make no equivocation between killing and murder–the kind of slaughter the Russian Bourgeoisie deserved at the time of the revolution was much more than they received. Yet, if I were a Russian upper Bourgeois or lower level aristocrat, I’d be just as bad. If any one of them were I, they would be worse than they actually were.

Deeper troubles, of course, Hugo imagined he had mined. He was a savage critic of the German Intelligentsia–but we must not be too hard on any intelligentsia, being as useless as they usually are everywhere. His critique did criticize even the likes of Brecht. Sorry, Brechtian fans (for whom I am among). I am not ascribing utility to intelligence, or utility in one grossly overdetermined social way for the need of an organic and vibrant intelligentsia. The need for them opposed to their virtual uselessness in all matters and manners of societal utility . . . the utility they serve, Power and Money can do without, as the Thirty Tyrants of Athens could do without Socrates. Does this Oligarchy seem familiar?

Power does manage, always, all the time, everywhere, to give space for some amount of subversion to arise in order to control it. I thought I was dis-enamored with Foucault? I still think he was mostly an Idiot, and I am not evoking Dostoevsky, so do not allow Michel to be flattered in your imaginations. However, Fyodor is creating a special kind of idiot–one without general and social concerns in a throughly decadent corrupt social system is obligated to be an idiot in the Aristotelean sense? But then Socrates is and is not Aristotle’s idiot. To the Oligarchy, Socrates is definitely without social concern, but Socrates’s pursuit of Truth is the highest concern for society.

Our particularly virulent strain of the Bourgeois Capitalist virus infecting the body politic allows the illusion of subversion to stand for actually subversive impulses. Nothing more evident of this than X     : And that X  stands for whatever it is you imagine in this contemporaneity speaks Truth to Power instead of helping to keep it in the shadows, which of course is what most, if not all, of our rebellious impulses wind up achieving, helping to keep Power and Money in the shadows  . . .

Yes, news is not Fake, but the media do help keep P and M in the shadows, which is of course the heinousness of Trump–whether by design or in effect, this latter most likely, Trump has helped the media gain ever increasing credibility by presenting the most extreme counterpoint for what it is they do, by saying it is Fake all the time, he has most of us looking to it for Truth–Power wins, the State wins, Money wins . . . of course, real Power and Money love Trump because no one divides us more greatly and serves the interests of the elite against the People more fully . . . you fucking boobs!

We really are not literate enough to see because we have disaffected ourselves from literacy and the hierarchically ordered levels of  appreciation for the literary, as well as any ability to evaluate or perform the literary–and I am also most surely talking about all the Russian, Arab, Pakistani and Chinese immigrants in my Brooklyn who imagine themselves so much smarter than Americans–but then, the level of stupidity among the educated from the former Republics of the Soviet Union has left me with only wanting to beat most of them with a heavy stick.

Insipid is the only word that comes to mind when I think of bourgeois culture as it has arrived where it has gotten in our contemporaneity. Insipid. Deserving of the most savage of beatings, most of us–there was a time I would have said all of us, a posture I used to take editorially. Forget that now. I am not among the mass of those without truly social or more largely general concerns. That is the Aristotelean idiot, you now know if you had not before this. Be it as it may . . . whatever that means, what is there for me to say or not to say, thinking about what is nobler in the mind that imagines enduring the slings and arrows, or police bullets . . . you do know that more unarmed white men were shot by the police in 2016 than unarmed black men . . . Machiavelli would be proud that his formula . . . Nicky was writing satire, you know. His genius was in that while writing satire for those who got the satire, he kept his head and offered Power just what it needed to flatter itself.

 

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