guess who’s coming to dinner

I think we can think of the entire financial system and its offpring: the derivatives market, forex, commodities exchanges, invisible transactions, etc. as one giant haunted house or horrors. Like something out of Kafka’s The Castle; its mysterious, it holds our fate in its hands and is responsible to no one. Or Josef K in The Trial, and his unavailing and futile battle against the law, a judiciary which accuses and condemns K is  prescient, foreshadowing the empty and ephemeral bureaucratic violence that came to represent WWII death camps and their soft core versions of the same poisonous ideology that persist today. Kafka’s insights are still pertinent. In our  surveillance society, our software controlled lives, it is still charged with an emotional chill. Predators. Like Matt Taibbi’s description of Goldman Sachs as a blood sucking vampire with a bottomless thirst.Send them to Kafka’s Penal Colony?

THE HAUNTED PALACE ( Edgar Allan Poe )

And travellers now, within that valley

Through the red-litten windows see

Vast forms, that move fantastically

To a discordant melody,

While, like a ghastly rapid river,

Through the pale door

A hideous throng

out forever

And laugh – but smile no more.

From The Haunted Palace.

---This section, certainly from the standpoint of style, but also on a technical level, is extremely similar to the description of the execution machine Kafka gives in “In the Penal Colony”: It was a huge affair. The Bed and Designer were of the same size and looked like two dark wooden chests. The Designer hung about two meters above the Bed; each of them was bound at the corners with four rods of brass that almost flashed out rays in the sunlight. Between the chests shuttled the Harrow on a ribbon of steel . . . . “Both the Bed and the Designer have an electric battery each; the Bed needs one for itself, the Designer for the Harrow. As soon as the man is strapped down, the Bed is set in motion. It quivers in minute, rapid vibrations, both from side to side and up and down. You may have seen a similar apparatus in hospitals; but in our Bed the movements are all precisely calculated; you see, they have to correspond very exactly to the movements of the Harrow. The work he undertook at the Institute, combining as it did absurdity with tragedy, degradation, and humble passivity, had a tremendous impact on his writing as well.--- Read More: image:

…”Does it make you feel young to watch the dying?…Is that the lewdness that keeps you young? Is that why you dress like a crow? Oh I know there’s nothing I can say that will hurt you. I know there’s nothing filthy or corrupt or depraved or brutish or base that the others haven’t tried, but this time you’re wrong. I’m not ready. My life isn’t ending. My life’s beginning. There are wonderful years ahead of me. There are, there are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful years ahead of me, and when they’re over, when it’s time, then I’ll call you. Then, as an old friend, I’ll call you and give you whatever dirty pleasure you take in watching the dying, but until then, you and your ugly and misshapen forms will leave me alone.” ( John Cheever, Torch Song )

---Though Kafka cannot be read so simplistically as to immediately lend credence to economic interpretation, there is not necessarily a gulf between his fiction and the real world. There is a union of internality and externality in Kafka, who, “of all modern writers, understands and portrays the unity between our tumultuous inner lives, the outer world, and the role of choice in mediating the two.”20 West’s conclusion is that even though Kafka can be read on many levels, most of which will not implicate legal experience, “that is no reason not to rearead them for their tremendous and multiple insights into the nature of law.” Read More: image:

…”What kind of an obscenity are you that you can smell sickness and death the way you do?”
Yes, they wanted blood. Death. It was Halloween and sacrifice was demanded. The bankers were laid out in cages, waiting for their destiny. It was to be a hard boiled night. Halloween alright. All the opaque accounting; the trick or treat financial products with built in explosive obsolesence. The “derivatives” package, like candy laced with poison, guaranteed to cause trauma for years to come.

A man inspects a dead body and reports, “just when a maggot crawled out of his gaping mouth , doing a spastic little lindy hop on the tip of his tongue.” Yeah. hard boiled. but he deserved it. In any event, the guys wife was probably driven to insanity by this boring turkey. Doom is kinda fun. No innocence. No exit. All these dead people wandering around. Least they aren’t hysterical. Guess they played their schtick too tight to come out intact. Like the ancient mariner, someone had to spill the high finance types the bad tidings. There would be no Pecora commission circus. There’s a woman screaming ” I didn’t marry a man I married a habit, and when hope came late to him, it was quite a dangerous thing.” Hope is for the young, the kids, hope in a full grown man. Well, that kind of hope burns as it dies, it boils the blood white, and leaves behind something real mean when its done….All in all some of the saddest goddam stories I’ve ever heard.

E.G. Marshall. Creephow. James Salter ( Last Night):Well, happy days, she said. Then, as if suddenly remembering, she smiled at them. A frightening smile. It seemed to mean just the opposite. It was the night they had decided would be the one. On a saucer in the refrigerator, the syringe lay. Her doctor had supplied the contents. But a farewell dinner first, if she were able. It should not be just the two of them, Marit had said. Her instinct. They had asked Susanna rather than someone closer and grief-filled, Marit’s sister, for example, with whom she was not on good terms, anyway, or older friends. Susanna was younger. She had a wide face and high, pure forehead. She looked like the daughter of a professor or banker, slightly errant. Dirty girl, one of their friends had commented about her, with a degree of admiration. Susanna, sitting in a short skirt, was already a little nervous. It was hard to pretend it would be just an ordinary dinner. It would be hard to be offhanded and herself. She had come as dusk was falling. The house with its lighted windows—every room seemed to be lit—had stood out from all the others like a place in which something festive was happening. Read more image:

Teitelman: democracy has never been as soul-enhancing as its Emersonian press and Whitmanesque promise. Pure and direct democracy remains utopian. As all the reports of the meetings of the General Assembly suggest, you have to be a saint to sit through the endless People’s Mike episodes, which, as Greenberg points out, serves to flatten and simplify everything that’s said. In their deep romance of democracy — really anarchistic democracy — OWS ignores or appears simply unaware of the historical dark side of “the process.” It’s not just that it’s difficult to reach consensus, or that anything that requires complex daily tasks or technical decisions (like what to do with all the money, as The Wall Street Journal points out) can’t really be dealt with by the General Assembly. It’s that democracy always contains the potential for tyranny, for majority domination of a minority, and for corruption, manipulation and conformism. The French Revolution ended in terror, a “cleansing” of the revolution, then coughed up Napoleon; the American Revolution hatched a republic defined by fierce partisan in-fighting and two-plus centuries of intermittent self-interest, greed, and corruption. Look at our experiments with democracy in the Middle East. Democracy can, as often as not, produce theocracy. Democracy easily flips to its antithesis. Read More:

---Crockshock! "Four Super Shock Shows!," 1997 Design: Art Chantry--- Read More:

Like angels who have bestial eyes
I’ll come again to your alcove
And glide in silence to your side
In shadows of the night, my love;
And I will give to my dark mate
Cold kisses, frigid as the moon,
And I’ll caress you like a snake
That slides and writhes around a tomb.

from “The Ghost” ( Baudelaire)


Remember, my love, the object we saw
That beautiful morning in June;
By a bend in the path a carcass reclined…

Her legs were spread out like a lecherous whore,
Sweating out poisonous fumes
Who opened in slick invitational style
Her stinking and festering womb…

And the sky cast an eye on this marvelous meat
As over the flowers in bloom.
The stench was so wretched that there on the grass
You nearly nearly collapsed in a swoon…

From back in the rocks, a pitiful bitch
Eyed us with angry distaste,
Awaiting the moment to snatch from the bones
The morsel she’d dropped in her haste.

–And you, in your turn, will be rotten as this:
Horrible, filthy, undone…
Yes, such will you be, o regent of grace,
After the rites have been read…

Ah then, o my beauty, explain to the worms
Who cherish your body so fine,
That I am the keeper for corpses of love
Of the form and the essence divine!

from “A Carcass” ( Baudelaire )

---Rops illustrated many literary works including Baudelaire’s Les Épaves, a selection of poems for which he created the frontispiece. Like the works of the authors whose poetry he illustrated, Rops work tends to mingle sex, death, and Satanic images. He held a lifelong fascination with the femme fatale, an image of womankind that served as a dark and sinister Muse to that generation of Decadent artists.--- Read More:

Charles Baudelaire, The Vampire:

Thou who abruptly as a knife
Didst come into my heart; thou who,
A demon horde into my life,
Didst enter, wildly dancing, through

The doorways of my sense unlatched
To make my spirit thy domain —
Harlot to whom I am attached
As convicts to the ball and chain,

As gamblers to the wheel’s bright spell,
As drunkards to their raging thirst,
As corpses to their worms — accurst
Be thou! Oh, be thou damned to hell!

I have entreated the swift sword
To strike, that I at once be freed;
The poisoned phial I have implored
To plot with me a ruthless deed.

Alas! the phial and the blade
Do cry aloud and laugh at me:
“Thou art not worthy of our aid;
Thou art not worthy to be free.

“Though one of us should be the tool
To save thee from thy wretched fate,
Thy kisses would resuscitate
The body of thy vampire, fool!”

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