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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reading Eric Packer Through Ayn Rand



Rob Pattinson as Eric Packer
He tried to read his way into sleep but only grew more wakeful. He read science and poetry. He liked spare poems sited minutely in white space, ranks of alphabetic strokes burnt into paper. Poems made him conscious of his breathing. A poem bared the moment to things he was not normally prepared to notice. This was the nuance of every poem, at least for him, at night, these long weeks, one breath after another, in the rotating room at the top of the triplex. (C p. 5 the first page)
Raymond Massey

Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead has his bedroom at the top of his penthouse where it is glassed all around. The world can watch him fuck women. A little bit of trivia that DeLillo throws in for Ayn Rand intelligentsia. A "floating sign"? 
"When she entered his bedroom, she found it was not the place she had seen photographed in countless magazines. The glass cage had been demolished. The room built in its place was a solid vault without a single window. It was lighted and air-conditioned, but neither light nor air came from the outside."When Dominique enters his penthouse after their marriage.

Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper - Fountainhead
Alert cue, alert cue!


He bypassed sleep and rounded into counterpoise, a moonless calm in which every force is balanced by another. This was the briefest of easings, a small pause in the stir of restless identities. (C p.5-6)

The dialectic is stilled, balanced, the see-saw is even, straight across. It's not charting. The line is flat. Like a brain-dead flatline on the oscilloscope. 


Every act he performed was self-haunted and synthetic. The palest thought carried an anxious shadow. (c p.6)

The appearance of the Double, just barely sensed, like a shadow. Restless identities stirring. Death enters the novel quietly, on the first two pages, like a shadow, with the appearance of the Double.

DeLillo writes in this way: He types a paragraph on one sheet of white paper, edits it, retypes it again on another white sheet of paper, re-edits it, etc until it reads the way he wants it to read. There is always plenty of white around the paragraph. If you have ever seen a shot of an Ayn Rand manuscript, not like DeLillo at all.

Eric Packer:
When he died he would not end. The world would end. (C p.6)
Freud is finished. (dead). Einstein is next. (to die) Their worlds are dead.(C p.6)

On reading Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne Heller:

On the last page:

"It is not I who will die, it is the world that will end," Ayn Rand liked to say. It is a favorite quote of hers her fans like so much.

DeLillo is challenging Baudrillard on ending global capitalism through narrative transcendence, and he is also challenging Rand and  her moral defense of capital. 

Anne Heller
Although Heller's book was published after Cosmopolis, it seems prescient that this quote is on the first page of Cosmopolis and the identical quote is on the last page of Heller's biography of Rand. DeLillo's self chosen book cover for Underworld seems also prescient in its erie image of the coming 9-11. And Cosmopolis is clairvoyant about the 2008 meltdown.
                                                                                                                                       
Nietzsche - Genealogy of Morals
Now I feel that DeLillo's ghost is following me as I am reading Cosmopolis through Atlas Shrugged but even more through Rand herself. I am coming to believe that she is the great unacknowledged post modern philosopher her rather poorly educated disciples have always thought her to be, but not for the same reasons as they. I believe she is Nietzsche's heir, more than Foucault and Baudrillard, and taking in the consideration that she disavowed Nietzsche early on, stopped writing in her journals about him so much, all his thought embedded in her mind went underground. Until Baudrillard came along and blasted it up in my face without even knowing about her.

Does DeLillo intend to just blast her for her defense of capital? Or is DeLillo somehow divining her   unconscious catastrophic collision with capital via Greenspan in the 2008 meltdown. As a defender of capital on a moral foundation of self-interest,  this is the flaw Greenspan told Congress he had found in his thinking.

From Digby at Hullabaloo who blames Rand for the 2008 meltdown.

Digby
Under questioning from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committee chairman, Greenspan acknowledged that the failure of that expected self-regulation represented "a flaw in the model" he used to analyze economics. "I was going for 40 years or more on the perception that it was working well."
This is the fundamental problem with Randian thinking. They really do believe that capitalism is a moral system in which the people become wealthy because they are morally and intellectually superior to those who don't. Why, it would be wrong for them to not self-regulate and endanger the whole economy, right? It wouldn't make any sense. - Digby

No Digby, that's not the reason they believe it is a moral system. They believe it is a moral system because it is based on man's reason and self-interest. The flaw is rational self-interest. Why would these financiers destroy their financial empires? Well, Mr. Greenspan, you should have known in 1968. Rand destroyed her lucratively financial, philosophical empire of Objectivism that Nathaniel Branden had built for her, his lover, because he didn't want to fuck her anymore. She wanted to punish him, destroy him, kill him for choosing a beautiful young woman instead of an old brilliant frumpet.

And OMG I believe she was following Nietzsche all this time. Taking every single premise she had and carrying it to the extreme. And every goddamn one of them from sex, to friendship, to love, to her writing,  all of it, to the extreme, to excess. What is Atlas Shrugged as a novel, but a novel that is more a novel than a novel, a hyper-novel, an excessive novel, a novel that is "worse" as Nietzsche would say. All the way to Death as Canetti would say. Being more a capitalist than a capitalist. More so. Worse as Nietzsche advocates to bring something down. To destroy it. This is where Baudrillard kills Foucault in Forget Foucault. This is where Rand does it in reality through Greenspan instead of advocating or writing about it. She is a major philosopher by default. She didn't know she knew.

Does DeLillo know that he knows. I dunno.

To defy the system with a gift to which it cannot respond save by its own collapse and death. Nothing, not even the system, can avoid the symbolic obligation, and it is in this trap that the only chance of a catastrophe for capital remains. ...For it is summoned to answer, if it is not to lose face, to what can only be death. The system must itself commit suicide in response to the multiplied challenge of death and suicide. (Jean Baudrillard - Symbolic Exchange and Death 37)

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Wall Street Demonstration Feeds Into What It Opposes - Vija Kinski



http://cosmopolisfilm2.blogspot.com/2011/08/understanding-simulacra-and-simulation.html?zx=d0db2160906347e5

Cronenberg's eXistenZ is serious filmic social theory of the nature of our postmodern landscape. Cronenberg, like Baudrillard, would like to oppose the reality he describes, but points out that terrorist resistance to it is merely absorbed into the system and cannot defeat it. Ironically, terrorism and resistance are "game-themes" in eXistenZ, suggesting that they broach no threat, but are actually required by the system in order to provide a pretext to continue information emission. Baudrillard, too, would like to be a terrorist- to lash out violently against those who are in control, but such a role is no longer possible in a world where death and violence have no impact and are met by glassy eyed apathy as the result of data-glut. It seems that the only hope is awareness of the effect that media have on communication and human relationships. Cronenberg, like Baudrillard , McLuhan, and Shenk, urge us to be aware of what constant exposure to information and simulacra do to the human psyche and to culture. The content of the media is irrelevant. It is the quantity of data and simulacra to which we are exposed and the methods by which we are subjected to that information that result in data smog, mental disorders, and violence. The most effective strategy to resist the system is to behave like an irreverent child, declining to constitute ourselves as subjects, refusing to process the data and abstaining from responding to it. By passively ignoring the data input thrown at us by the parental system, it will cease to exist as it does now. We can turn off the tv, shut down the computer, and stop playing the game.



DeLillo has Vija Kinski elucidate Baudrillardian theory to Eric Packer in Cosmopolis:





A specter is haunting the world, they cried.


He was enjoying this. Teenagers on skateboards sprayed graffiti at advertising displays on the sides of buses. The styrofoam rat was toppled now and there were police in tight formation advancing behind riot shields, helmeted men who moved with a totalistic grimness that made Kinski seem to sigh.


Protesters were rocking the car. He looked at her and smiled. There were close-ups on TV of faces scorched by pepper gas. The zoom lens caught a man in a parachute dropping from the top of a tower nearby. Chute and man were striped in anarchist red-and-black and his penis was exposed, likewise logotyped. They were knocking the car back and forth. Projectiles came popping from tear-gas launchers and cops free-lanced in the crowd, wearing masks with twin filtration chambers out of some lethal cartoon.

"You know what capitalism produces. According to Marx and Engels."




"Its own grave-diggers," he said.




"But these are not the grave-diggers. This is the free market itself. These people are a fantasy generated by the market. They don't exist outside the market. There is nowhere they can go to be on the outside. There is no outside."





The camera tracked a cop chasing a young man through the crowd, an image that seemed to exist at some drifting distance from the moment.





"The market culture is total. It breeds these men and women. They are necessary to the system they despise. They give it energy and definition. They are marketdriven. They are traded on the markets of the world. This is why they exist, to invigorate and perpetuate the system."




He watched the vodka slosh in her glass as the car bounced back and forth. There were people banging on the windows and hood. He saw Torval and the bodyguards sweep them off the chassis. He thought briefly about the partition behind the driver. It had a cedar frame with an inlaid fragment of ornamental Kufic script on parchment, late tenth century, Baghdad, priceless.




She tightened her seat belt.




"You have to understand."




He said, "What?"





"The more visionary the idea, the more people it leaves behind. This is what the protest is all about. Visions of technology and wealth. The force of cyber-capital that will send people into the gutter to retch and die. What is the flaw of human rationality?"




He said, "What?"





"It pretends not to see the horror and death at the end of the schemes it builds. This is a protest against the future. They want to hold off the future. They want to normalize it, keep it from overwhelming the present."





There were cars burning in the street, metal hissing and spitting, and stunned figures in slow motion, in tides of smoke, wandering through the mass of vehicles and bodies, and others everywhere running, and a cop down, genuflected, outside a fast food shop.





"The future is always a wholeness, a sameness. We're all tall and happy there," she said. "This is why the future fails. It always fails. It can never be the cruel happy place we want to make it."