Žižek Says Thing

John Levi Masuli:

Famous leftist says something but paradoxically the opposite is also true, and so on so on

Originally posted on Worker's Spatula:

zizekLONDON – Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek was quoted today saying a thing, maybe about Greece or Syria or some Hollywood film he barely watched, sources confirmed.

Noting that many leftists are hypocrites, and that capitalism is bad, Žižek proceeded to segue through a series of tangents until arriving at some other topic.

Many in attendance were quoted as saying that they strongly agreed with many of Žižek’s points, while disagreeing with others, and being utterly confused as to the intended message of others still. Almost all agreed that, at the very least, he succeeded in making clear that [famous foolish person] was foolish indeed.

At some point, his “good friend, Alain Badiou” was likely quoted.

Countering speculation that he was not “prepared to go to the end”, and that he did not “mean it quite literally”, Žižek insisted that he indeed was “prepared to go to the…

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Reading notes on Dandaniw Ilokano: mga tulang Ilokano 1621-2014, and an excellent idea

I have always been interested in antho209212_biglogies, of how they frame a collection of supposedly disparate and independent works as parts
of a larger histo

rical continuity. This is why I was excited to hear that an anthology of Ilokano poetry was coming out. Since I am currently living in a place where Ilokano is apparently the lingua franca, and

also because it is a new and ambitious work, I promptly got my copy from Dandaniw Ilokano: mga tulang Ilokano 1621-2014 from the local bookshop.

Which brings me to an excellent idea by Facebook user Earl Lagunsad:


So while we wait for a talented and generous programmer to do that right now, here are my notes.

  • Page 45 – religious pa rin pero may struggle

  • Page 51 – watawat; unang national shit. May naka-all caps na mga salita

  • Page 53 – Erotic

  • Page 57 – Spanish use of ¡. Is there no translation of pag-ibig in Ilokano?

  • Page 63 – Religious, rural life

  • Page 65 – Romanticistic; almost pastoral

  • Page 69 – Romantic uli

  • Page 71 – Description of things

  • Page 73 – “Love your work”

  • Page 74 – So far, teaching about values, industriousness, etc

  • Page 83 – Very interesting; about private property and growing divide between propertied and non-propertied; romantic din

  • Page 103 – GANDA

  • Page 107 – Farming

  • Page 111 – Very advanced, halos modernist

  • Page 123 – Philosophical

  • Page 133 – First formal innovation, or at least some variations in stanza indention

  • Page 135 – First pop culture reference (Gloria Diaz)

  • Page 137 – New York reference; Filipino/Ilokano diaspora

  • Page 143 – Filipino diaspora in Hawaii, Agcaoili

  • Page 157 – ‘Advice’; may mga common people characters

  • Page 163 – Experience of a rural person going to a city; kapalaran; gumagamit pa rin religious metaphors

  • Barrio Mundo as in makamundo/sanlibutan and the city as paradise; kapalaran (fate) as vehicle to paradise. Wala pang malinaw na explanation ng urbanization kaya’t fate pa rin ang perceived primary factor.

  • Page 169 – Seaman

  • Page 177 – First militant; nakulong

  • Page 181 – ‘philosophical’

  • Page 182 – ‘Avant-garde’

  • Page 187 – ‘Avant- garde’

  • Page 191 – Labandera

  • Page 199 – Rebel weird

8 Interesting Renditions of The Internationale

Lately I have been trying to make an arrangement of some march songs and damn, it’s hard. I was looking for interesting arrangements of march songs when I came upon different versions of The Internationale, one of the most beautiful anthems ever written. The Internationale is the hymn of all the workers of the world, and it a popular song among socialists and communist countries and organizations. No doubt it is one of the most covered songs on the planet. Here are some of the most interesting versions I heard so far.

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BREAKING NEWS!!!!! Baguio-based nobody releases some new stuff

Writer-musician Levi Masuli shares us some of his latests works as well as some updates on his life. 

BAGUIO- Baguio-based not-famous nobody Levi Masuli has released a list of what he has done in 2015 so far. Known for his anonymous online blathers and occasional self-rants when going to the bathroom, Masuli has reportedly released a couple of mixtapes and is also planning to release a collection of poetry soon.

“Apparently I have a lot of free time these past few months. It sucks being a precariat, you have to always look for ways to survive, and when there is nothing, you can always make some ‘art’ to give yourself the impression that you’re actually doing something,” said Masuli in our brief interview with him.


Masuli looking at the light bulb looking for answers. – PHOTO by Anonymous

Masuli intimated that his latest releases, iTunes Does Spoken Word and Six Samples Played 20 Times are both experimental in nature, focusing on the nature of music and music-related mechanisms rather than music-as-beautiful-sound. Both works have explanatory notes for those who may not understand them. Masuli asserts that “the notes are part of the work, these pieces are not self-explanatory. It’s weird that people think that some things are self-explanatory when nothing actually is.”

He has also released a teaser of a more musically-inclined work, Melodicas on a Loop on his Soundcloud account. He said, however, that he is not sure whether to continue doing an album for this particular concept since it is difficult to appreciate the sound of the melodica and not a lot of people appreciate repetition as a musical device.

Regarding his non-musical activities, he is currently helping in organizing a few events in Baguio City, such as the launching of Ericson Acosta’s book Mula Tarima Hanggang and the reunion concert of the Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera. His group the Pedantic Pedestrians is also on another awkward hiatus. Nonetheless, he said that he has a lot of things in mind regarding Pedantic and he is also trying to finish a collection of poems to be released online.

“There is too much vanity in the art world, especially poetry, but the ‘scene’ is dominated by bureaucrats, elite creative connoisseurs and moneyed hobbyists. If leftists politicians are willing to engage in corrupt elections, politically-conscious artists must also know how to rub shoulders with the art authorities, assert ourselves, and compromise a bit, while being aware of its limitations and essential corruption,” said Masuli.

Badiou on Mao and looking for the ‘new’

.. there is no doubt that two fundamental episodes of Mao’s political struggle can be regarded as grave failures, which took a high toll in human lives: the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. And you’re right in seeing in both of them a passion for the infinite real movement. But, on the other hand, these two episodes proved Mao’s determination to find new ways to really move toward communism. Mao wanted a communist revolution in a socialist state. So he had to keep creating something new, keep forging ahead, keep trying, because communism is precisely the infinite that the finitude of the state, including with its brutality, is incapable of by itself. (from “A Dialogue Between a Chinese Philosopher and a French Philosopher” December 13, 2014, Manny Cantor Center, New York)

Art in Baguio, from the back rows

this was published In the Baguio Chronicle, Issue 6, No. 32, July 4-10 2015

Baguio has always been considered as a haven for artists. But the word ‘haven’ cannot possibly describe a place in a state of perpetual flux featuring a lot of colourful personalities. Today, the advent of the internet has allowed us to look beyond the usual personalities in the society pages. Art in Baguio today, like life, is happening not only in one or two particular cliques, but everywhere, simultaneously, aggressively.

For instance, just look at how vibrant the local comics scene has become. Last February, the third year of the Baguio Komikon, taglined “Pag-ibig Sa Bukang Liwayway,” gathered comics artists and enthusiasts from Baguio, La Trinidad, and even from the lowlands such as Pangasinan. What is more astounding that the sheer number of attendants is the aura of openness, collaboration and productivity that permeated the event.

Better Living Through Xeroxography or BLTX came to Baguio last April, with the aim of developing local independent publishing and writing. The activity, held at Cafe Yagam, was co-organized by writer Adam David and Baguio-based art group Pedantic Pedestrians, and was attended by local writers, zine makers, artists and students. The event was a counterpoint to local publishing and literary practices more inclined towards the mainstream literary market and its affiliated institutions.

Let’s go to music. Apart from the local radio stations, some local independent musicians are pushing the local boundaries of their craft. ListenBaguio is currently launching the first all-original all-Baguio internet radio show featuring local musical talents. This is not only a sign of life, but a portent of something about to burst, especially given that local artists are often swayed towards the metropolitan, Manila-oriented music scene. ListenBaguio showcases Baguio not only as a ‘well’ of talents waiting to be ‘discovered’ but a vibrant community of prolific and driven groups and individuals.

Long-time cultural group Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kultura will be holding a reunion concert on July 18, 5:30 PM at the University of the Cordilleras Theater and July 19 , 2:00 PM, at Baguio City National High School Auditorium .

Poet and activist Ericson Acosta will also be launching his book on July 17, at the Mt. Cloud Bookshop, 5:00 PM. A short talk with Acosta will be also held at the University of the Philippines Baguio Lobby on the same day, 1:00 PM.

Everyone is invited to participate in these community events. There is so much more than what was listed here. These are really exciting times to be in the City of Pines.

Books: Shoplifing from American Apparel, Eeeee Eee Eeee and Richard Yates by Tao Lin

I haven’t been writing about books lately, so let me do some.

I have downloaded EPUB copies of Tao Lin’s Shoplifing from American Apparel, Eeeee Eee Eeee and Richard Yates by Tao Lin. These ‘novels’ are three of the most refreshing reads of the year. It like drinking water after drinking only Coke all year (wow, that metaphor sucks). It was actually a new experience.

Eeeee Eee Eeee is the oldest of the books. Didn’t like it very much, but it was a clever. I hate the chapters with the bears and dolphins coming out of nowhere a la surrealist non sequitor. I have read some books which have scenes like that, and although I do not particularly hate these kinds of sequences, I was just expecting something different. In this book Tao Lin talks about depression and boredom and hamsters, you know, the usual stuff.

Shopl6096464ifting from American Apparel is a novella, and it is much more interesting than Eeeee Eee Eeee in a lot of ways. Shoplifting was written in a style that is almost journalistic and affectless as reading the news off a week-old pambalot ng tinapa; or, I guess you could say, in a flat, dead-pan manner. It is the literary equivalent of games that do not need you to play them, because they play themselves like this one, or a song where no changes happen, just a repetition of sound. This novella is something like those things, because although it gives you a feeling that ‘something’s about to happen’, it really doesn’t give you anything, and you know it, BUT YOU READ ON. It’s basically like junk-food, substance-less, perhaps bad for the health, but we just eat and eat because something in it tells us so. A lot of people in Goodreads actually complain about Tao Lin being substance-less and ‘vapid’, unlike Dostoyevsky, and such and such, but that is precisely what Tao seems to be aiming for.


from Vice.

Of course, these are just interpretations, but these interpretations held out in Richard Yates, which people in 4chan and Reddit actually like. Richard Yates, like Shoplifting, consists of transcriptions of Gmail chat, texts, and short sentences which move the ‘narrative’ forward. Again, Tao Lin was faithful to his concept of writing process, because he knows that doing otherwise would result in a disappointingly sentimental plot.

I read something somewhere about ‘ambient stylistics’ of a piece of writing that is just ‘there’, being itself, unfurled, not really saying anything but expressing itself through its being there. It doesn’t have to be the center of the reader’s focus. Tan Lin (not the same as Tao Lin) said something about this kind of writing, in this age of language excess:

“the best sentences should lose information at a relatively constant rate. There should be no ecstatic moments of recognition … the most boring and long-winded writings encourage a kind of effortless non-understanding, a language in which reading itself seems perfectly (I say this in a positive way) redundant.”

This is a really humble and mature thing for art to be, since a lot of art are trying to look ‘expensive’ or ‘transcendental’ or something special saying ‘hey, look/read/listen to me!’ Accepting that art is really just art, just something out there, not as valuable as diesel or money or a placard, just art, that is a very interesting idea. Come to think of it, I didn’t think reading Tao Lin was an ordeal at all, a challenge in order to bolster my self-worth, to say to myself (or perhaps to the world, “look I read a book”)

Reading Tao Lin gave me the opportunity to feel and think about non-literary things.

Some Self-help Books Are Propaganda

Self-help books are nice. They teach people how to organize their lives, how to be more responsible, how to take care of their children, how to fix the clogged toilet, and so on. Self-help books were the default authority in terms of practical things before there was the internet, much like an offline Wikihow. Some self-help books are actually not that helpful after all. There are those that claim to help people how to dream lucidly, or to experience out-of-body experiences, and these books are by now practically dead scrolls because the internet. But there are those that are actually propaganda. They were churned out to validate the very source of the problem which caused us to buy a book called “How to Get Rich and not be Poor” in the first place. Books such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I Will Teach You to be Rich, The Greatest Salesman in the World, and a lot of others, teach their readers that success is just there, anyone can reach with it a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. It is shocking to read books that claim to know how to ‘hack’ a system as complex as capitalism. But it is even more shocking to read books that try to solidify the definition of ‘success’ as a purely financial one.

Financial self-help books zip right through the best-sellers lists as if on meth. The more ‘inspirational’, the faster they climb the ladder. Like all ‘art’ today, financial self-help books are popular because they entertaining, positive, uplifting, etc. Like art, self-help books have achieved an aura of transcendental value. Hence, operating under the fetishized definition of success, it becomes more than a ‘cheat code’ to the ‘game of life’/ ‘the ratrace’/ etc, and it becomes a bible, a code containing universal values. Which is to say: without being (financially) successful, we can never fulfill our selves as humans. It is the surplus, not the labor, that is put on the pedestal. There is definitely something wrong with this.

The Viet Nam War and agrarian revolution

In Vo Nguyen Giap’s People’s War, People’s Army, the Commander-in-Chief of the Viet Nam People’s Army during the Viet Nam War outlined the liberation war waged by the Vietnamese against the combined imperialist aggression of France and the United States. The document is very interesting since it also tackles how the Viet Nam Worker’s Party’s socio-economic programme translated to its military strategy against two of the world’s most powerful powers.

With regards to the connection between the Party’s program for agrarian reform and strategy:

The raising and defence of production, and the development of agriculture, were problems of great importance for supplying the front as well as for the progressive improvement of the people’s living conditions. The question of manufacturing arms was not one which could be set aside.

In the building of rural bases and the reinforcement of the rear lines for giving an impulse to the resistance, the agrarian policy of the Party played a determining role. Therein lay the anti-feudal task of the revolution. In a colony where the national question is essentially the peasant question, the consolidation of the resistance forces was possible only by a solution to the agrarian problem.

For the Viet Nam Worker’s Party, the agrarian and anti-feudal task of the revolution is not only a minor aspect, but one of the primary parts of their struggle against the French and the American invaders. Through agrarian reform, they are able to consolidate and expand their forces. Unlike the Americans who forced their young people to draft themselves in the Army, the Vietnamese saw the political and economic significance of joining the struggle against the imperialists.

This leads me to that weird thing called Oplan Bayanihan by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They conduct medical missions, feeding programs and other community events in far-flung areas in order to improve their image among the people. However, this is all a show since the military and the government do not address one of the most pressing problems in the Philippine countryside, which is land reform. No matter how creative the AFP will get in masking their military operations, they will find it difficult to eliminate the New People’s Army if the NPA are the ones who are doing the land reform for them. Even the US cannot defeat the Vietnamese people, who were empowered by unity and the realization that they can liberate themselves; what more for the AFP with their guns underfunded by corruption, their soldiers driven by dreams of personal economic stability, who find it more and more difficult to fight for a country starving them?

Read Giap’s People’s War, People’s Army here.

Sartre on masturbation

A masturbator by choice, Genet prefers his own caresses since the enjoyment received coincides with the enjoyment given, the moment of passivity with that of the greatest activity; he is at one and the same time this consciousness that clots (caille) and this hand which churns in agitation. Being, existence; faith, worksl masochistic inertia and sadistic ferocity; petrification and liberty; at the moment of pleasure the two contradictory components of Genet coincide; he is the criminal who violates and the saint who lets himself be violated. The masturbator makes himself unreal – he brings his own realization; he is very near to discovering the magic formula that will open the sluice gates.

However, victim of execution, caresser or caressed, these phantasies in the end will have to be reabsorbed into Narcissus; Narcissus fears men, their judgments, and their real presence; he wishes only to experience an aura of love for himself, he asks only to be slightly distanced from his own body, only for there to be a light coating of otherness over his flesh and over his thoughts. His personae are melting sweets; this lack of consistency reassures him and serves his sacrilegious designs: it caricatures love. The masturbator is enchanted at never being able to feel himself sufficiently another, and at producing for himself alone the diabolic appearance of a couple that fades away when one touches it. The failure of pleasure is the acid of pleasure of failure. Masturbation as a pure demonic act sustains in the heart of consciousness an appearance of appearance: masturbation is the derealisation of the world and of the masturbator himself. But this man who is eaten up by his own dream knows surely enough that this dream is there only by virtue of his willing it; Divine (the other in some of Genet’s masturbation phantasies) ceaselessly absorbs Genet into herself, and Genet ceaselessly absords Divine. However, by a reversal which brings ecstasy to a point of overflowing, this clear negation (clair neant) will provoke real events in the true world; the cause of erection, the ejaculation, the damp stains on the bedclothes is – the imaginary. In a single movement the masturbator captures the world to dissolve it and insert the order of the unreal unreal into the universe; it is necessary that they be images, since they act; No, the masturbation of  Narcissus is not, as some misguidedly think, the little gallantry that one performs towards the evening, the nice, boyish compensation for a day’s work: it wills itself a crime. Genet draws his pleasure from his nothingness: solitude, impotence, the unreal, evil, have producted, without recourse to being, an event in the real world (from Being and Nothingness, pp. 341-42.)