Friday, July 21, 2017
Brexiteering in the Sahara
ETHAN ARKWRIGHT - SUB-SAHARA – 2016
What a book! The story is crazy and utopian but that’s
beside the point I want to make. You will love that utopian battle for some
extraterrestrial source of energy that has such an immense life span that we
cannot even predict its end. Beautiful. And it comes from under the sand of the
Sahara, like oil and natural gas, from a city that was still there in the 1950s
built around a metal pyramid that contained this supreme source of energy
praised, cherished and adored like a god by the people who accepted to die in
the room where it was exposed due to some ultrafine invisible deadly poisonous sand
or dust. The role of the Nazi is purely secondary and some kind of romantic
fallback to the standard evil symbol.
But the book deals with geopolitical global considerations that
are surprising in many ways.
A British private though connected to some state services
group of adventurers financing some archaeological venture in the south of the
Sahara, in Niger precisely, get informed that a hurricane has completely
uncovered an ancient city with a metal pyramid in the middle and that they are
proceeding to it and the obviously added containers around the midriff of this
pyramid. The main archaeologist plays it double and informs a competing but
absolutely violent and uncontrollable group to sell her discovery to the better
The British team then encounters various groups and have to
defeat them in some twelve hours or so. First the Chinese attack even before
the British team reaches its destination. They are fast and radical but they
are defeated of course; Isn’t it natural? Good riddance. Apart from the fact it
is not exactly what the Chinese are doing, military intervention and strikes to
destroy any competitor, it is funny how nasty this quick episode is and there
is no explanation of how they managed to be informed about the move of this
private secret British team: there is always a fink or a fissure in all secure
situation. Sad, as Trump would tweet.
Then they are confronted to the challenging violent brutal
competitor, Titan. But the British team is so naïve that they do not even see
that their intervention as Red Cross doctors is a loincloth on the aggressive
intent of these Titan assassins. In the meantime they have to defeat a detached
unit from the Nigerian army. Easy again, since the Nigerian army is both
underequipped and not very brave.
The Titan team, which is only a vanguard, creates havoc but
the British team is more creative and they of course manage to take over the whole
situation and control the next stage. The only thing they get out of this is
that Titan had been informed by one of the members of the initial
archaeological team, and this understanding is going to be essential since they
have to make sure the betrayal will not succeed and that the source of energy
they will recuperate will remain in their own hands. It is in fact the leader
of the initial archaeological team who is the double agent, hence the finkish traitor
to the people who paid for her initial venture. She is a stoolie canary in
Then they enter the pyramid and have to go through all kinds
of traps to recuperate the source of energy that contains an element that is
unknown and hence is extraterrestrial, if that is possible, but let’s suspend
our disbelief. While the leader of the British team is liquidating the remnants
of the initial Titan team, the team inside the pyramid is successful and manages
to find their way out in tunnels, after they have been rejoined with their boss
who can take over the last leg of the operation.
When they come out they find the Nigerian army, with the French
Foreign Legion as their main supporters, in fact their real bosses, and behind
a second Titan team that has come to recuperate the source of energy. These
Titan people cause a stir that eliminates half the Nigerian army and the French
Foreign Legion, as well as half of their own members.
Of course the British team who had managed to securely hide
the source of energy in the underground escaping tunnels, fools everyone and
distributes the fake source of energy in a certain number of lead containers whose
content is verified to be highly radioactive, let’s be NBC for a minute, and the
party poopers all go away with their prizes. Unluckily for them these lead
containers contain a tracker and as soon as the various parties are gone drones
take off from the top of the pyramid, or so, and destroy all the outgoing convoys,
except one on the Titan side because they had two vehicles but only one lead
container. So the British team picks the real source of energy from where it
was hidden and they chase the Titan team, save the only survivor and use their
plane to go back to Europe with the promise of paying the mercenaries and
releasing them as soon as they arrive in their first stop in Libya, with no
Mind you the Americans are only mentioned because they are
the worst of them all since they will probably arrive on the site but when
everything has been cleaned up and after the battle. The Americans are not
ready to become great again, if they ever do.
Conclusion. The Chinese go fast and are first but they are
defeated in two seconds. Then the locals, the Nigerians, are ineffective and
not very courageous. Then an alternative competing hostile British team using
mercenaries is really subtler than the central British private team and fools
them at least two or three times but are defeated in the end and their boss is deep-fried
in phosphorous. A hot burning hot ending for a man used to massive killings. Then
the Nigerian army and their “allies” the French Foreign Legion are just
ineffective and easy to fool both by Titan who is following just behind them
and by the British team who is just setting a plate of goodies in front of the
greedy Frenchies. Should I say it is a plate of French fries with frog legs? I
guess I could. And the Americans are the final and totally ineffective dummies
who come last for sure and only get the bones of the turkey that everyone else
ate, stuffing, dressing and all side dishes, before the Americans were able to
even approach the site. Thanksgiving is no longer what it used to be.
Thanks goodness! Only the British people are on top,
provided they are on the side of the official state system, but governed by
private enterprise imagination and creativity. In other words, only the British
can dominate the world if they are deeply and resolutely Brexiteers. And
Brexiteers they are, ending their adventure in some kind of all male gentry
club on Pall Mall in London drinking some good spirit and smoking some Havana
cigars. Maybe that aspect is a little bit excessive and nostalgic, nostalgic of
the good old Empire time when there was only one other empire, the French
colonial empire. It did not last very long from WW1 to WW2 and we know the catastrophic
result of this rivalry. The British will always dream of the world as an
eternal and repetitive Falklands campaign.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
US Justice naked and shameful
AND ORDER (NEW YORK) – THE FOURTH-SEVENTH YEARS – 1993-1996
The interest in these rather old (more than twenty years
old) seasons is in the obsolescence of so many things that do not exist anymore
or the absence of what is common today. This is TV archaeology. Thus you have
the big monstrous PCs, the old dial telephones, the old enormous cars, and no
smart phones, no portable phones, no tablets, and even practically no bikes.
The traffic is practically fluid and you can park your car anywhere easily.
Security is light, the presence of cops and even thieves is light too. The
police force is hardly racially integrated, definitely very little at investigating
police level and same thing at justice, DA and court level. This vision of the
world in New York in the early 1990s is amazing. Do you remember it? Or rather
can you imagine it?
The second element is typical of US American-centered vision.
Every episode starts with the sentence: “In a criminal justice system,“ wrongly quoted
as "In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by
two separate, yet equally important, groups: the police, who investigate crime;
and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their
stories," by http://lawandorder.wikia.com/wiki/Law_%26_Order,
because it is not true of any criminal justice system in the world and the use
of “A criminal justice system”
implies the universality of the remark. I checked I do not know how many dozens
of episodes and it was always the same, the use of the American-centered
indefinite article. What is shown in this series is purely American. In many
other systems in the world investigation means looking into what the prosecution
can use and what the defense can use. The defense research or investigation is
not paid by the accused and done by his lawyer but most of it is done by the investigating
team under the responsibility of a judge.
is this very justice system of the USA that leads to the worst possible jury
decisions that are irreversible because no one can be tried twice for the same
offense, even if he has been condemned to a life sentence or even the death
penalty. Any appeal has to be on facts that are erroneously processed in the
trial itself or eventually, if a judge accepts it, on new elements. Mumia Abu
Jamal, the longest-detained prisoner (he broke Nelson Mandela’s record) in the
world, is going through a life sentence without parole, which is a pitiful
decision of this justice system that reduced the sentence from death to life
without parole and yet they refused a real second trial processing the new
testimonies brought up by the defense. When, he was first tried his defense
attorney was committed to him by the justice department (Miranda) and of course
no real investigating was done for the defense because the criminal justice
system in the US only investigate to prosecute. In other words, they only look
for a culprit and as soon as they find one – or they are convinced they have
found one – they are satisfied and go to court.
series is very clear about that and many episodes show how tricky it is if the defense
does not investigate on their own side. They even actually show cases in which
the investigation is wrong, the jury finds the defendant guilty and the judge sends
him to prison to serve a 25 to life sentence and yet right away afterwards new
elements come up showing that the culprit is another man who was exonerated.
They cannot reverse the jury decision. The judge cannot change it at all. They
have to find a way to beat about the bush, negotiate the obstacle and use a
detour to prove the other suspect guilty without bringing the first convicted one
into the picture. Then and only then the first trial can be voided. The least
we can say is that it is slightly distorted. Some might say corrugated.
That’s probably the best side of this series: it does not
hide the fact that the American criminal justice system is deeply problematic.
In spite of their Miranda warning that states what follows: “You have the right
to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say may be used
against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult an attorney before
speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now
or in the future. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for
you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without
an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any
time until you talk to an attorney. Knowing and understanding your rights as I
have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an
attorney present?“, in spite of that the prosecution will not target both guilt
AND innocence but ONLY guilt. And over and over again the episodes show how
bungled a case can get when the defense attorney is not diligent enough.
This series shows all judicial mistakes come from the basic
police work at the root of everything else afterward. The police work is often
based on a personal conviction or even belief more than facts. The advantage of
the police shown here is that the lieutenant who follows the investigation performed
by his or her (in this case her) detectives can challenge them and the facts
they bring up and ask them to look in other directions, to check other sides of
the situation. But even so, nothing is clear. The main issue – or one of the main
issues – is the role of women and in this particularly series the lieutenant is
a woman, what’s more ethnic, and the assistant district attorney Jack McCoy’s
assistant, Claire Kincaid, is also a woman. They often bring in a new note, a
softening note, at times an alternative approach. But that is not in any way
based on truth and the search for truth but on the deep conviction the case of
women, or relevant facts that only women can see have been ignored.
The next step in this series is the importance of deals
reached by the public prosecutor with the defense before the court decision.
Such deals are not dealing with justice nor even the truth but only with
speeding up the procedure, save on court expenses and most of the time reduce
the sentence by reducing the qualification of the crime. And when wrongly
accused the duress is so hard in some situations that the innocent person
accepts to plead guilty in exchange of a soft sentence, but yet it is fake
I guess all people who want to understand how the criminal
justice system works in the USA have to watch this old series that lasted
twenty years, supposedly the longest ever because of this balanced vision of an
Monday, July 17, 2017
Happy the one who can leave in due time
1974, I knew Pierre Boulez indirectly since I was reading the music treatises
of Pierre Schaeffer and some other books on the subject of modern music,
concrete music, noise if you want, but also plain music from classical to jazz,
from negro spiritual to Black and Soul, from the Beatles to The Who and AC/DC
or vice versa. I was ranting and raving on David Bowie the non-bipolar fluid
gender hermaphrodite. I was already waxing sentimental and dazzled by the
genius of Leonard Cohen, and yet I was trying to enter another world, the world
of a distorted stressed psyche that has managed to survive a couple of traumas
including the one of extreme eyesight impairment from birth to the age of six
without any medical assistance. You know: “Don’t Pass Me by!” And I had enjoyed
in all the twenty-nine years already behind me all that was sound, music,
languages, talk, drama, radio, and so many other things to listen to and to
hear even if seeing was not exactly the cup of tea in which I could rinse my
“spectacles” or glasses if you prefer.
was my mind then (never ever published since 1974 and only read once to a small
he looked right and he saw Lawrence
he looked left and he saw Terence
in front of him he saw Stephens
there and here someone else
Face anonymous and placid
face with a nose and two eyes
for him and one for the world
the pose of the comfort
had tried hard to break the lurid front-lights
To jump into the
the tender-footed neophytes
vertigo of a mosquito
The fervid taste of blood
And the pounding grind of the slap
will forever stop the flight
was standing in front of his audience
bright imagination beam
in its tight spot the face
what among others that is more
him he flippantly likes
And he recreates in his mind
Recreates with his quivering eyelids
Good morning but don’t touch
I love you but don’t touch me
I want you but don’t touch me
I have you but don’t touch me
phantasy phantasizes the phantasmic phantasms
plays his stringy show
a stringent note of maybe I can
The turn of my covetousness
The counterturn of my ravenousness
The stand of my desirousness
was standing in front of his audience
no answer not even a clap
relapsed in his voyeurism
traced the fine of an ankle
shivers at his breath
lip brushes the softness of the hairs
tongue waters the skin of his flesh
fingers meet into the width of a palm
to retain the wine of the crotch
mango juice he pines for
With the sultry caressing lime
Green like the never ripe passion of his
like the never-moored
his throat with the reviving paste
That will never
And yet will
carry more fruit
Than the carob tree of yon
Like a bug dried in the
the cross of the long-legged roads
were the east and the west meet
the climax of their zenith
the apex of their noon
a taste of roundness
a flavor of boldness
bouquet and a fragrance
the foreplay of the skin
Over the sharp edge of the
Of the brit milah
of fervid tradition
The soft sweet bread of the
was standing in front of his audience
no answer not even a clap
unreachable posse of indifferent masks
– Pierre Boulez –
David Bowie –
of the Future
tempest of the heart
in the dark gloom of the abbey church I listen to the opening of some symphony
that reverberates under the vault and among the columns.
butterfly flutters gracefully in the sunshine and perches itself on my knee in
some green meadow behind the summer house of the vacation.
hover in the air and lightly cover the sidewalk of the still benighted street
of my city just one week before Christmas in the cold morning air.
big square on a bench my street homeless friend wakes up every morning when I
come and every morning I give him half my ten thirty snack.
the time some music resonates in my brain and tells me in a whisper between the
notes, among the keys and codas, a message that I will remember.
your way and keep in your fists the acorn you saved last September, keep it for
the forlorn forgotten forsaken squirrel of an alley urchin that has no shelter
and that longs for love.”
schoolboy offers in one hand
sidewalk wanderer gathers with both hands
his eyes and locks them
On the blue
irises pierced with a dark question
from on high then vibrates like a tuning fork
won’t pass you by, I promise!
don’t vanish and go, ever!”
February 9, 2017
Boulez-Bowie-Cohen @Academia.edu & SlideShare.net (74)
Happy the one who can leave in due time
Three living stars
have just died in the field of music. Three supernovas that were a galaxy of
their own. Leonard Cohen, David Bowie and Pierre Boulez, the whole western
world in a nutshell, Canada, Great Britain and France, and the last one
directed and recorded Wagner as well as Frank Zappa. A whole world is leaving
and we are left alone in the orphanage our world has become.
And yet they leave in,
our hands, in our ears and in our eyes a whole world of illumination,
hallucination, inspiration and exquisite frustration. We have to build
tomorrow’s world with what they have just granted us as their heritage, as our
inheritance. Let’s take care of it for ever and ever.
Gay fantasy haunted by cats and minstrels
LILIA BLANC – KING’S LAMENT – 2016
Though during the first fifth of the novel we do not really
know what the stake and objective of it is, it finally after some 120 pages becomes
clear and then the fantasy changes from some feudal old plot to an erotic, and
in some chapters absolutely graphic and explicit gay threesome adventure.
Welcome to the planet where kings are all gay and like threesomes, at times –
for the sake of having some heir – bisexual.
If you are not in that kind of gay – and marginally lesbian –
fantasy or erotica, you better forget about it. If you are able to understand
love is not a question of sexual orientation, you may have a chance to go through
the story and enjoy it. This complicated love story is punctuated with feudal
fights or battles, and that’s the aspect I am most critical about.
There is little unity in the feudal struggle of this ousted
and clandestine young heir to the throne that was taken over by a monster queen
from the south, a queen that has no name and governs – or rather controls – her
(or should I say “its”) kingdom with a band of assassins that – certainly not “who”
– can only kill, that’s their function and that’s their nature: they have been
reduced to killing. “SAD” as a certain president would tweet. The author tries
to save one by making him fall in love with the young underground clandestine
ousted king and vice versa by making the young ousted clandestine king fall in
love with the spy and assassin that has been appointed by the queen to follow
and eventually assassinate him or at least enable him to be assassinated by
some of the queen’s soldiers.
You must admit it is not simple. This young king, Inea by
name, was helped escape from prison by a minstrel of some kind who actually was
the male lover of the young king’s father wo killed himself after his wife was
poisoned by the queen’s agents in the court itself, these queen’s agents who
were the king’s ministers selling the son to the queen for her to turn him into
her play thing. But the author shifts the plan and thus we shift from a
threesome-liking king with a wife and a lover identified as a totally owned and
possessed minstrel, to his son who falls in love with the minstrel who actually
helped him escape the dungeon in which he was supposed to wait for the queen’s
decision on his fate, and later on with an assassin who was supposed to
infiltrate the fugitive young king’s band by seducing the minstrel, which was
easy since the minstrel is absolutely obsessed with and by his hormones.
And there is the gay threesome who is going to take over the
feudal scene by securing an alliance with another king, the king of the desert
tribes, who is also gay but married to only one man who used to be his own
soldier, and faithful to this man who is said to be black, though he is the
only who is specified in such a detail.
This being said the novel then turns pathetic as for the
love relations between Inea, the young king, Ansyn, the minstrel, and Kaedon, the
assassin. Pathetic because they constantly fall part and then more or less
manage to come back together. Such a threesome marriage as announced at the end
is unique in many ways since it only officially exists for one triple – instead
of couple – in one country in the world, Colombia: “Three men who are married
to each other, have gained legal recognition for their 'polyamorous' marriage
in the conservative Catholic country of Colombia.” (The Sidney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/video/video-news/video-world-news/three-men-one-marriage-20170615-4v55x.html)
And that’s what this author tells us: stories of “Slaves to fantasy and romance,”
as the author’s page proclaims on the publisher’s site.
And that’s just the problem. It is not a real fantasy story
with only one dynamic, or at least a very dominant dynamic. Too often we forget
everything about the queen and the assassins that are chasing this young king
and that will come back into the story when an attack will be staged every so
often and periodically. At the same time the at least erotic romance that is
exclusively gay in its explicit realization and descriptions is constantly
broken by elements from the fantasy side of this moon but the love jealousy, rivalry,
ambition, possession (and all meaning are needed here from plainly owning the
other to haunting him or being haunted by him), is nicely described but does
not really reach the absolute level we could expect: it definitely is nothing
but desire, hormonal activation, lust, physical contact and penetration and I
did not really find the haunting fear and bliss that this penetration is at
least parallel to: the use of a sword or a dagger or an arrow, and the use of
such warlike weapons is also balancing fear and bliss, bashfulness and lust,
and it is thus nothing but the expansion or initiation of some brutal and
That reduces the final battle with the queen to a pantomime
of very nasty kids who are destroying the toy or the dolly they had been
playing with. There is no veracity, authenticity and reliability in her and
since we only meet her in the final battle (in the last five percent of the book)
she appears as nothing but a killing robot and fantasy is a genre in which the
characters, on both sides of the divide and the pale, are human. Harry Potter’s
Voldemort (and he has a name) is a monster but the genius of the author is to
develop and uncover the human dimension of him who was made a monster by the
mistreatment he suffered in the hands of fellow wizards and witches. There is
nothing of the sort here. She is not even a chatbot because she hardly speaks some
coherent and human discourse.
But this is a rather general remark I could make on the story.
Every character has no freedom of choice or whatever. They are all “SLAVES” of
their desires, lust, power, will to dominate, to own, to use. Even the desert
king Jalin is shown as being a spoiled brat who plays with a stray kitten
picked in the street and who is in love with a black warrior Kiir who literally
controls him with his dancing. We have to think of Salome and her seven veils
dance. But that is just the point: the dance for Salome is her way to take
control of her stepfather and uncle (which makes her a female Hamlet). But the
tragic dimension of this Biblical and historical event is lost because there is
no stake in the dance. No John the Baptist and no head to get delivered on a
silver platter. The death of the unnamed queen is certainly not delivered on a
silver platter. And Oscar Wilde’s delirious Salome making love with John the Baptist
in words and then with his head is far from this story. Difficult to imitate
with Inea since Inea is gay and would not be thrilled by the unnamed queen’s
head, except if his gayness were explored as some kind of escape from a deeply morbid
and mortiferous personality.
Even if the gay erotica is correct altogether, I just wonder
if the author is what his/her name seems to reveal. Is the author a man or a
woman? The gay characters are charming but they have no depth and their love making
is purely mechanical while their love declarations are purely enslaving
possession. Love is a lot more complicated and it cannot be reduced to the instinctual
robotic thermodynamics of a few legs, arms and other members encountering the various
openings of a few bodies. Even the music of the minstrel and his poetry is not
exemplified in any way. It is true and difficult to consider what kind of a creative
mental dimension Kaedon would have? Think of Jalin and his fixation on a kitten
playing with silver coins. Think of Kiir reduced to a dance, which in a way is
creative and mental but we do not penetrate at any time this dimension of this
dance: it is only a seductive tool to capture the attention of a grown up though
childish kid. Gay romance deserves better than just being a vacillation between
erotic scenes and escaping sprees that always end well, plus some fantasy
battles to cut up the humdrum bed scenes.
Just enjoy the story as some entertainment. I am sure it is
not intended to go beyond this titillating level.
Saturday, July 08, 2017
The whole opera catalogue of Benjamin Britten
Operas Love Rejection Death
Published on Dec 4, 2016
The first task was to gather what can be called opera.
Quite a few vocal works are not classified in that genre because they are
considered as oratorios as if an oratorio was not an opera (a musical work
entirely sung generally in two tones, prosodic and psalmodic). That goes back
to the Old Testament which is divided in its accompanying music, written in the
margins, in these two tones. It is of course present in any oratorio, starting
in the 13th century in Beauvais Cathedral with Ludus Danielis.
The opera is only the transfer of this religious
musical genre into the secular field. The opera is nothing but a secular
oratorio. And can we see a musical difference between operas and oratorios in
Handel and are Bach’s Passions oratorios or operas? Some purist will tell you
the opera was invented in Italy,
etc. Purity leads to closure. This geographic definition of the opera was
introduced in a time when we did not know the musical accompaniment of the Old
Testament probably codified by the music school set up by King David. At that
time too Ludus Danielis was unknown and Italy was torn apart by two styles, one
favored by the Roman Popes and remaining very narrowly religious and
traditional, and another secular and bound to flourish in the Italian opera
houses that were still to be invented and built in the 16th-17th centuries when
that artistic quarrel between the Church and society was starting to rage with
Anyway it does not apply to Benjamin Britten for the
simple reason that he does not differentiate the recitative from the arias. The
music is the same in tone and style from beginning to end. Then the difference
between operas and oratorios, if there is one, is purely because of the
religious dimension of oratorios. That is light and semantic.
will hereafter find my notes on the 21 works I classify in this field, in
chronological order, some small, some big, some famous, some less well-known,
but all in a distinctive musical style that is unique and yet that is also very
closely articulated on the music of the 20th century. Benjamin Britten knew his
classics, even the modern classics of his time, and borrowing or imitating are
fundamental: he is able to use the style of anyone and turns it into his own
style that is first of all transformative.
The second point to add here is the fact many of his
works are all male and use many boys’ choirs. The modern tendency though is to
use treble choirs including girls. This is, when it is done, a treacherous
breach of the British tradition of all male choirs and boys’ choirs that
developed and prospered in boys’ schools and universities with countertenors
cultivated and respected even after these universities were finally opened to
women. In fact to use mixed choirs instead of boys’ choirs is a sexist position
that negates the originality of the British tradition. Other composers (and
Benjamin Britten in some works) vastly composed for mixed choirs or even for
girls’ choirs, and that is legitimate.
My last remark will be I have
tried to capture the original intended meaning of these works that
systematically present some outsider, stranger, foreigner, outcast in central
position, and the boy who is the main character is often the victim of
mistreatment by society or some adults, mostly men. It is a trend to consider
this is to be connected with Benjamin Britten’s gayness. I think this is
excessive even if this gayness gave Benjamin Britten a direct taste of being
excluded, marginalized or kept under suspicion. I will rarely allude to this gayness
and I will try to avoid seeing gay innuendo everywhere.
Bunyan 1941-1976 p.
Grimes 1945 p.
3. Rape of
Lucretia 1946 p.
Herring 1947 p.
Nicolas 1948 p.
Little Sweep 1949 p.
II: Abraham and Isaac 1952 p.
10. Turn of
the Screw 1954 p.
of Pagodas 1957 p.
Fludde 1958 p.
Night’s Dream 1960 p.
Requiem 1962 p.
15. Curlew River 1964 p. 104
Fiery Furnace 1966 p.
Golden Vanity 1966 p.
Son 1968 p.
Children’s Crusade 1969 p.
Wingrave 1970 p.
in Venice 1973 p.