Saturday, 31 January 2015

Sinead O Connor - WAR

' Until the philosophy, Which holds one race superior
And another inferior, Is finally and permanently
Discredited and abandoned, Everywhere is war.

Until there is no longer first class
Or second class citizens of any nation.
Until the color of a man's skin,
Is of no more significance then
The color of his eyes,
I've got to say "war".

That until the basic human rights,
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race, I say "war"

Until that day the dream of lasting peace,
World-citizenship and the rule of
International morality will remain
Just a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
But never obtained.
And everywhere is war.

Until the ignoble and unhappy regime
Which holds all of us through,
Child-abuse, yeah, child-abuse yeah,
Sub-human bondage has been toppled,
Utterly destroyed,
Everywhere is war.

War in the east, War in the west,
War up north, War down south,
There is war, And the rumors of war.

Until that day, There is no continent,
Which will know peace.

Children, children.
Fight! We find it necessary.
We know we will win. We have confidence in the victory
Of good over evil Fight the real enemy!''

I No Longer Have Patience For Certain Things - Meryl Streep

I No Longer 
 Meryl Streep
I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I've become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.
I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that's why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.
P.s Such brilliant decision!:))))))))))))))))))))) I'll, too :))))))))))))))))

Now, Is All You Have!

The future is a concept - it doesn't exist. There is no such thing as tomorrow. There never will be, because time is always now. That’s one of the things we discover when we stop talking to ourselves and stop thinking. We find there is only present, only an eternal now.
Alan Watts..

* We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.
*You don't look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you. 
 "I am talking for the same reason that the birds sing and the stars shine... I dig it"

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Me & The Beatles Story- Exhibition.

 Me & The Beatles Story Exhibition.

The Albert Dock, Liverpool.  Close with The Beatles Story.
Photo by Khatia Shiuka

The Museum of Liverpool.  Photo By Khatia Shiuka 

Mind Games - John Lennon


and Again me in The Arts centre :))))

Civil Disobedience/Protest Against Violence!

Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience. 
Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.

Howard Zinn

Protest against violence and mass violence!

Mark Ruffalo reads Eugene Debs

Mark Ruffalo reads Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Five Theories of Human Nature

 Five Theories of Human Nature  
Lectures In The University of Liverpool.

 What is human nature? Is there a path of liberation from humanity's ills? Participants will examine the theories of human nature of two ancient religious traditions (Judeo-Christian and Buddhist) and three modern secular thinkers (Rousseau, Freud and Marx).
With Dr Paul Smith
  'I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.'
Jean-Jacques Rousseau 
 Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778) was a major philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy heavily influenced the French Revolution, as well as the American Revolution and the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought. 
Rousseau was also a successful composer and made important contributions to music as a theorist. During the period of the French Revolution, Rousseau was the most popular of the philosophes among members of the Jacobin Club. He was interred as a national hero in the Panthéon in Paris, in 1794, 16 years after his death.

Sigmund Freud * Human nature tends to value and wish what he can't reach.
*It would be one of the greatest triumphs of humanity, one of the most tangible liberations from the constraints of nature to which mankind is subject, if we could succeed in raising the responsible act of procreating children to the level of a deliberate and intentional activity and in freeing it from its entanglement with the necessary satisfaction of a natural need.
 Freud's Theory of Human Nature and comparing with karl Marx, both lived in London.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Kurt Vonnegut - Don’t Give Up On Books.

 Don’t Give Up On Books!
Computers are no more your friends, and no more increaser of your brainpower, than slot machines…
Only well-informed, warm-hearted people can teach others things they’ll always remember and love. Computers and TV don’t do that.
A computer teaches a child what a computer can become.

An educated human being teaches a child what a child can become. Bad men just want your bodies. TVs and computers want your money, which is even more disgusting. It’s so much more dehumanizing!'
 Don’t try to make yourself an extended family out of ghosts on the Internet. Get yourself a Harley and join the Hell’s Angels instead.”  

Don’t give up on books. They feel so good — their friendly heft. The sweet reluctance of their pages when you turn them with your sensitive fingertips. A large part of our brains is devoted to deciding whether what our hands are touching is good or bad for us. Any brain worth a nickel knows books are good for us.  
Kurt Vonnegut

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts.
Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Thomas Paine - Common Sense.

Thomas Paine; Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one..

Common Sense Audiobook by Thomas Paine

Friday, 23 January 2015

Winston Churchill’s - We Shall Never Surrender!

  Winston Churchill’s  Speech
4 June 1940
“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.
(W. Churchill in 1899 when he was a young soldier and journalist.)
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

The Art of Rhetoric

 The Art of Rhetoric
      Simon Lancaster
 (Rhetoric is the new rock n roll and politics)
I was interviewed on Five Live just after Barack Obama’s election. They asked me whether I thought rhetoric was the new rock n roll. I laughed and said that was hyperbole. But I’ve been thinking about it ever since… I wonder if they just got it the wrong way around.

Rock stars are increasingly growing in influence – Bob Geldof was out just this week telling G8 leaders what to do – whilst politicians are increasingly decreasing in influence. So what I wonder is this: not that rhetoric is the new rock n roll, but whether rock n roll is in fact the new rhetoric.

That is my theme for tonight.

You see, I've always had two careers running in parallel: ‘speechwriter to anyone who’s prepared to pay’ and ‘musician to anyone who’s prepared to listen’.

My first job on leaving school was as a pianist in a French restaurant… This was the most amazing job in the world: I rolled out of bed mid-afternoon, strolled through Kensington Gardens - wearing my big Sony Walkman, listening to EMF - to get to Chez Solange, a restaurant just off Leicester Square. Whilst I was there I played songs from the shows and was paid the princely sum of £30 a night which I could double in tips as long as I doled out the odd request: Happy Birthday, The Lady in Red or Saving all my love for you. I’m still playing keyboards today - in an Acid Jazz band called Funkologist. Last week, we played Merthyr Tydfil. The pinnacle of glamour!

So I’ve been scuttling between these two worlds over the last twenty years – speechwriting and music – and the thing that has always struck me is this: how incredibly easy it is to move people from a stage when you’re playing music and how phenomenally difficult it is to generate almost any meaningful reaction at all when you are making a speech.

When you’re playing music – even if you’re playing badly – it’s still relatively easy to make people smile. When you’re making a speech however, you’re in a constant fight for attention. It’s the never-ending battle against the blackberry - and it’s a battle many speakers lose. What I’m going to explore in my speech is whether our political and business leaders could learn something from the rock stars who keep us so captivated. And I mean the REAL big beasts – the Jaggers, McCartneys and Townshends – the sky-scrapers of rock: the guys who are still dominating radio airplay and filling out stadiums, despite touching seventy.

If Aristotle, Cicero or Demosthenes came back to earth tomorrow to host a special X Factor of rhetoric – looking for the people who most move and motivate society – who do you think would win? Politicians? Monarchs? Businesspeople? Or rock and roll stars. One hundred and fifty years ago, the prize might have gone to politicians. Back then, people travelled hundreds of miles to watch political speeches – like Gladstone’s Midlothian Address. Today though, most political speeches are only seen in musty basements by a handful of spotty interns who like to imagine they’re extras in the West Wing.

People do however travel hundreds of miles to go to Hyde Park to see McCartney, Blur or Stevie Wonder.

Another way of looking at it: who puts on the best rhetorical show? Who creates the best environment for persuasion? Who does the dimmed lights? Who does the slow chanting? Who gets everyone facing the same way – upwards. Three hundred years ago, I would have been describing a church. Today, it’s a rock concert. It’s not unlike one of my favouritey favourite Who songs, ‘Won’t get fooled again’, where Pete Townshend angrily berates his audience as the ‘hypnotised’. Another way of looking at it: who in society is held in highest regard?

In the past, magnificent new places were named in honour of religious figures – like St James Park, St Pancras station, St Barts Hospital. Occasionally, they were named after monarchs as well – like the Victoria and Albert Museum, Regent Street or the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre. But, in 2002, Liverpool wanted to choose a new name for its airport. They chose not to name it after a monarch or a saint: instead they named their airport after John Lennon. There was no controversy, yet, imagine the fuss if they’d tried to call it The Margaret Thatcher Airport! Utterly inconceivable.

Some of you might think… Yes, yes… That’s all very well, but rock stars are different. They’re only concerned with entertainment, not persuasion. That is not entirely true: rock stars do need to persuade us to buy the records. And most of the time, when we buy their records, we are also buying into their values and their beliefs. In fact, we’ll pay more for values and belief! There is a premium on that! It’s the value of values. And the record companies know this, which is why in Jamiroquai’s early albums he banged on about saving the environment at the same time as he was screeching up the M1 in his Ferrari.

Some are more sincere.

I’m not a collector of rock memorabilia by any means but a few years back I did buy at auction the files which John Lennon kept on the Biafra conflict in the Sixties. It was extraordinary how involved he became: making plans to fly there, getting in touch with leading academics to learn more, and eventually sending his MBE back to the Queen in protest. John Lennon felt deeply about this. Of course, musicians are prone to feelings of great depth: it’s an intrinsic part of the artistic temperament. And it’s because rock stars feel things more deeply that we are more likely to follow them. We feel their pain! They activate what brain scientists call mirror neurons: these weird little things in our minds which mean that when we see someone hurt themselves - prick their finger, trip up or even miss a bus - we feel their pain.

Aristotle said the big emotional appeals included anger, jealousy, hope, pride, pity, envy, shame, fear. So who pushes those buttons better – rock stars or politicians?

Which of these moved you? And be honest! Gordon Brown’s impassioned speech to London Citizens on African development or Band Aid’s ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’? David Cameron’s ‘Let sunshine win the day’ speech or John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. Tony Blair’s speech about the ‘people’s princess’ speech or Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’.
So where are politicians going wrong?

Just look at Ed Miliband attending the TUC rally in Hyde Park last year. Compare him with John Lennon addressing a peace rally in 1972. Seriously. Where to begin? I know where to begin. The tie. I’ve not been on many marches, but I do know this: you don’t wear a tie to a march.

So how can politicians and business leaders get over this? What are the features that make rock stars so persuasive? There are a number of ways I could have cut this up…
50 ways to leave your audience gobsmacked...

ABC – easy as 123...
Instead, I decided to run with a song that some of you might remember. A song from the early 90s by The Shamen – Love Sex Intelligence.
I went with this for three reasons – 1. because it connects almost perfectly to Aristotle’s idea of pathos, ethos, logos – head, heart and soul. 2. Because I did actually have the Shamen on my Walkman all those years ago - so it brings back happy memories for me. And 3. Because it includes the word sex which will hopefully activate some happy memories for you!
So I’ll start with intelligence – starting at the top and working down.

Aristotle said, ‘The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance.’
Today, neuroscientists agree: the part of our brain which deals with metaphor is also the part that is associated with greater intelligence. There is a clue to this in the word intelligence. It is derived from the Latin: inter legere… This means reading between. And ‘reading between’ is exactly what you do with metaphor… You take two disparate fields and talk about X as if it were Y. So you’re ‘feeling blue’, ‘grinding on’ or have ‘a weight on your shoulders’.

When we use metaphors, as we do 8 times a minute on average, we paint a picture. These are then planted like seeds in our minds that will grow – eventually they will grow and we will share them with others…
You see the metaphor? This is why propaganda is called propaganda. The very word contains a metaphorical idea: that of planting seeds which propagate.

Metaphors can be used for better or for worse.
For better: if I talk about giving a speech life, or saying that a speech has legs… I am using the metaphor that the speech is a person. That is my X=Y. Speech = person. By picking this metaphorical frame, I’m suggesting I love this speech, because we are used to loving people. I’m then imposing my image on you, forcing you to see the world through my eyes. People just do talk about things they love using the metaphor of personification. Mum might talk about the kitchen as ‘heart of the home’. Dad might say about the car that he’s ‘taking her out for a spin’. Business leaders who personify their companies reveal their passion for them… Richard Branson talks about Virgin’s spirit. Steve Jobs used to talk about Apple’s DNA.

These are positive metaphors. Some metaphors can be used in a far more negative fashion.
If I call someone a rat, I’m saying they’re vermin. This plants in your mind the idea that extermination would be sensible. So you should always beware when you see this metaphor being used! The mafia use it when they talk about rats. Vermin metaphors appear in the run-up to genocide. Hitler called the Jews snakes; in Rwanda, the Hutu called the Tutsi cockroaches; and it’s used now in the way that the press reports about Muslim extremism. Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Gaddaffi were all spoken about as vermin – smoking them out; ensnaring them; hunting them down. Of course they were all discovered in caves, holes in the ground or in pipes – like vermin – or so we were led to believe. This metaphorical frame meant a civilized people barely raised an eyebrow when these men – leaders in their way, revered in their own lands - were executed.

There’s an even more recent and desperately tragic example: that of the heart-breakingly awful fire in Derby over the weekend in which six young children were killed. The newspapers are now reporting what a tragedy this is. And it is. Horrific. But these self-same newspapers once described this poor family using the metaphor of DIRT, inviting us to think they needed to be cleaned away. One newspaper ran the story about them under the headline: ‘Scum mothers do ave em’. Some people might just see this as a funny play of words. But it is far more than that. It plants the seed of an idea, and that idea grows and grows.
You can track this growth on the web. You can see the conversation moving from the press to the blogs to vigilante chat rooms. The metaphorical frame remained constant. Dirt. In one chatroom, the father was described as a ‘piece of shit’, urging vigilantes to sort him out.
That is how powerful metaphor can be in extremis. Sorry to lead us into such dark territory. But the point is that metaphors extend beyond the way we talk; they shape the way we think, feel and act. They are incredibly powerful.
So you would think that leaders would take care to get them right! You’d be wrong. Instead, what we find more typically is not metaphors that clarify and illuminate, but metaphors that muddle and confuse! One leading politician who I usually admire – I won’t name him - recently said…
“These problems existed beneath the radar before the recession struck but were masked by the fruits of an economic system that has now laid us low.”

This single sentence contains five very different metaphors and visual ideas… The radar… being struck… masking… fruit.. laying low. What do you take from that? Absolutely nothing. It’s too much! Too tangled!
It’s like the beauties you had in Yes Minister, ‘gritting your teeth whilst biting the bullet’.

Rock stars do metaphor so much better. They create a simple image which is easy to visualise and therefore more likely to last. Take the clear, pure simplicity of The Beatles’ Long and Winding Road, or Marvin Gaye’s ‘Ain’t no Mountain high enough’, or Dylan’s ‘Blowin in the Wind’. All are beautifully simple images: images that can, would and in fact have, on occasion, been used by great leaders… Mandela’s road to freedom, King’s promised land, Macmillan’s wind of change.
Incidentally, I had a German businessman on one of my courses the other day: we analysed the ‘wind of change’ metaphor. He said to me, ‘This is all very interesting but why are you reading so much into a song by the Scorpions’.
These are not isolated examples. There are plenty more I could have used. Wild horses, Knocking on Heavens Door, Another Brick in the Wall. You compare this with some of the guff our esteemed political leaders come out with - the squeezed middle, the axis of openness! Give us some rock n roll! Please!
There are many other stylistic devices which show intelligence. Demetrius wrote in ‘On Style’ that style can be used to demonstrate balanced thought, rigorous thinking and show the completion of ideas. But style is hard to find in politics these days. Perhaps it’s because there has been so much criticism of politicians in the past for focusing on style over substance that they have now gone the other way: they see a virtue in being totally and utterly devoid of style.
Who knows? Maybe that’s why Ed Miliband became leader?
There are dozens of different stylistic devices that can be used. One of the best is antithesis, where you create a point of contrast or comparison: this creates the illusion of balance. It makes you sound more considered, more balanced, more likely to be right. Many of the greatest quotations in history have been based upon a rhetorical antithesis: from Hamlet’s ‘To Be or Not to be’ to John F Kennedy’s ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’ through to George W Bush’s ‘You’re either with us or you’re against us’.
We get similar in rock: but perhaps even more beautiful. Paul Simon’s ‘Why am I soft in the middle when the rest of my life is so hard.’ David Bowie’s  ‘Put on your red shoes and dance the blues.’ Pete Townshend’s ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’ There’s also ‘Too much too young’, ‘No woman, no cry’, ‘Get up stand up!’
These are powerful lines, memorable lines, persuasive lines.
One producer who worked with Madonna in the 80s said that, when she grew impatient, she was prone to shouting ‘Time is money and the money is mine’. The line was so strong he recalled it word for word almost three decades later. That’s rhetoric!
Of course, today’s business leaders try to emulate these stylistic devices. But they don’t do so with quite as much elegance. ‘Opportunity, not threat.’ ‘Forward, not backward’. ‘My way or the highway’. They’re not as stylish. They’re not as inspiring.
They also try in politics. Ed Miliband used his party conference speech last year to draw a new dividing line in modern business: between producers and predators. But no-one really knew what he meant. Even he didn’t really know what he meant, it became apparent when he was interviewed about it. So the whole thing came tumbling down.
You do get some gems of course. Vince Cable had a good one when he said that Gordon Brown had turned from Stalin into Mr Bean. David Cameron did as well, when he said Brown had turned from the Iron Chancellor into the Plastic Prime Minister. Ed Miliband mimicked the formula in Prime Minister’s Questions last week when he said that the Prime Minister had turned from David Cameron into David Brent.
The other stylistic device we see a lot of is tri-colon. The rule of three. When groups of three are clumped together it creates the illusion of completeness and finality. Again, this is a well known rhetorical device: ‘Friends Romans Countrymen.’ ‘We came we saw we conquered.’ ‘Government of the people by the people for the people.’ It makes things memorable. I saw Justin Fletcher – better known as Mr Tumble as any parents here will know – interviewed in the Guardian the other week. He said that when he was given his first job at the BBC sixteen years ago the Commissioning Editor told him there were three secrets to children’s television: Contact, Clarity and Commitment. Beautiful! Rule of three. Alliterative to boot. And that’s why he could recall the advice word for word sixteen years later.
The rule of three is all around us. We see it in photography. We also see it in music. Not surprisingly – as musical harmony is based around the triad. Our receptiveness to threes is hard wired. Our minds are used to processing things in threes. That’s why we like them. So we get the rule of three in band names: Earth Wind and Fire, Wet Wet Wet and Blood Sweat and Tears. Blood Sweat and Tears is a fascinating example: they’d taken a Churchill quote that was originally a four – Blood Toil Sweat and Tears – and turned it into a three because it sounded better.
We also get tricolon in songs. We had The Beatles’ ‘She loves you! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!’ and The Stones’ ‘Jumping Jack Flash - it’s a gas, gas, gas’. There’s also ‘Money Money Money’, ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m yours!)’ and of course – one of my own favourites - Ian Dury’s ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock n Roll’. Although I think I prefer Robert Rankin’s take - ‘Sex and Drugs and Sausage Roll.’

The other thing is that rock stars choose their words carefully.
I’m an avid reader of Beatles’ books and there’s a story about Lennon and McCartney writing a song together in the sixties. This was about the time of ‘Help’, when they still collaborated closely, and they were struggling over one line. John’s wife Cynthia was with them and she suggested a possibility… It was something like: ‘It’s just the way it is’. Lennon instantly flew off in a rage. ‘You can’t say ‘just’ in a song! It’s a nothing word! Every word has to mean something!’

If only politicians thought like that!
Here’s a paragraph from one of Oliver Letwin’s biggest speeches from the last year: his statement to Parliament on the public services White Paper.
“To strengthen accountability, the White Paper also sets out the most radical programme of transparency for Government and the public sector anywhere in the world. To unlock innovation, the White Paper commits us to diversity of provision, removing barriers to entry, stimulating entry by new types of provider and unlocking new sources of capital. To ensure that public sector providers can hold their own on a level playing field, the White Paper sets out measures to liberate public sector bodies from red tape.”

Holy cow. If only John Lennon had been in on the drafting session for that one! Songwriters would only use words like that if they served a specific purpose.
I’ve just read Nile Rodgers’ autobiography. Nile Rodgers was the guy behind Chic who wrote or produced many of the biggest hits of the 70s and 80s: ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Like a Virgin’, ‘Good Times’ and many more. There are some great insights into the way he thought about style when he talks about writing Diana Ross’s song, ‘Upside Down’.
“We included excessively polysyllabic words like ‘instinctively’ and ‘respectfully’ because we wanted to utilize Diana’s sophistication to achieve a higher level of musicality. Along with the complicated verse, we deliberately made the chorus rhythmically more difficult to sing than the catchier, one-listen song hooks for Chic.”
So we get ‘Instinctively, you give to me, the love that I need, I cherish the moments with you. Respectfully, I see to thee, I’m aware that you’re cheating, but no-one makes me feel like you do.’

They’ve thought about the linguistic style as a way to project character. It’s easy to understand. The contrast with Oliver Letwin is stark. Who knows what Letwin was trying to achieve with his prose. I can’t imagine it served any purpose – apart from providing me with some excellent material for my lecture.
This is the trouble with politicians. Noel Gallagher was recently interviewed. They asked him what he thought of the new Labour leader. He couldn’t even remember which brother had won. He said, ‘You can’t tell them apart. They all speak that funny way.’ He’s right.
I can say as someone who studies the language of all of them very closely: they really do speak the same way: from a technical perspective there is genuinely very little difference between the rhetorical styles of Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron. They really do speak the same!

The other stylistic device which rock stars rely upon is rhyme. Now I’m not proposing politicians or business people should make speeches in rhyme: that would be very funny, but it would also be vaguely insane.I will however just say this: from a rhetorical point of view, people are more likely to believe things which rhyme than things which don’t. Rhymes suggest simplicity. They are therefore a great way of smuggling logical fallacies into your speech undetected.
‘A Mars a day helps you work rest and play.’ Really?!
Jonny Cochran in the OJ Simpson trial: ‘If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit’. This was based on false premise: that the glove didn’t fit. The truth was that it had: OJ just made a meal of putting it on.
‘If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.’ Again, this is based on a false premise: that people who commit crime will a) get caught and b) get imprisoned – a very far fetched idea!
Or ‘I before e except after c..’ Where did that idea come from? Science?
I recently made this point to someone who works at an investment bank. He worked for one of the banks that was at the centre of the financial crisis.
He said, ‘Wow! So you mean like ‘You’ve got to speculate to accumulate.’ Blimey! If only that aphorism exposed as a fallacy before not after the crash. Perhaps ‘Speculation means liquidation’ would have been better.
So that’s intelligence.
The next thing is love.

2. LOVE!
The relationship between a rock star and their fans is at its essence an emotional transaction: based upon them both meeting one another’s emotional needs. The rock star provides the fan with love and emotional protection. In return, the fan gives them the adoration they crave and makes them a leader.

That’s the basic contract which underscores most leadership. But to keep it going, the leader must focus on their fans’ needs.

Rock stars know this.That’s why stars go on about their fans.
It’s why every X factor contestant starts by thanking ‘all the people at home who voted for me’ before their parents or anyone else. It’s excruciating, it’s predictable but it’s also vitally important.
Aristotle said, ‘Of the three elements in speechmaking – speaker, subject and person addressed – it is the last one, the hearer, that determines the speech’s end and object.’ The modern way of putting this is best expressed by Frank Luntz, a US comms specialist: ‘It’s not what you say that counts, it’s what people hear.’ So you have to care about your audience to be an effective persuader.

But the truth is that most politicians don’t care about their audiences. They don’t care about them because they know they don’t have to care about them. Politics is fundamentally tribal: most voters – not all, but most - vote for the same party their whole life. Leaders know this and exploit this. Many trade unionists couldn’t stomach Blair. They had to hold their noses when he walked into the room. They saw him as a closet Tory. But they still voted for him! What alternative was there? They had nowhere else to go.
Even Michael Foot managed to win 9 million votes on a manifesto which Gerald Kaufman famously described as a suicide note. So what are we left with: politicians who spend all their time worrying about and addressing the tiny number of swing voters in swing seats whilst ignoring everyone else.

This complacency about the wider audience is incredibly corrosive. It drives more and more people away from politics. The reason most people don’t care about politics anymore is simple: it is because most politicians don’t care about people. Rock stars couldn’t get away with this. They have to care about their audiences. They have no choice. Because, where political audiences are very tribal, rock audiences are incredibly fickle. There’s no such thing as loyalty in rock. Many of the big beasts have discovered this to their cost. Paul McCartney, Gary Barlow, David Bowie all saw their audiences literally decimated when they produced a stinker. Gary Barlow went from the pinnacle of success with Take That to being dumped by his record company in three years! The best rock stars keep their audiences close. They play the crowd pleasers. They touch their hands. They crowd surf. They have a few groupies around the back! They let it all hang out – literally in Iggy Popp’s case.
The best businesses do the same. Everything starts with what the customer wants. And when you get a similar complacency in business, it creates a similar backlash. Remember when Ratner basically castigated his customers for buying products that were ‘crap’.
The best politicians put their audiences first. Remember: Obama’s mantra was yes WE can, not yes I can. Bill Clinton never had any problem engaging directly with audiences. To succeed, politicians need to get right up close to the people they profess to serve.

That takes me to the third point.

3. SEX
Aristotle’s ethos, pathos and logos were based around the way the Ancient Greeks saw the human body– in three parts – head (logos), heart (pathos) and stomach (ethos), but ethos extended down as far as the genitals. The idea that our character comes from deep below remains prevalent today – we talk of gut instinct, politicians having balls, people shooting from the hip. We think with our heads, feel with our hearts, act with our... Stomachs. But essentially what we are taking about here is our spirit, our character.
Aristotle wrote in Rhetoric, ‘Moral character nearly carries with it the most sovereign efficacy in making credibility.’He wrote about the characteristics we like to see in our speakers: health, fortune, strength, power, beauty and gymnastic excellence… Such characteristics remain admirable. But are these features ones we would readily associate with today’s politicians or today’s rock stars? What do you think? Jagger and McCartney vs Prescott and Pickles?

Rock stars seem to defy the ageing process. Brown and Blair were both put out to pasture before they had even seen out their fifties.  The big beasts of rock are still going strong in their late sixties.

Why did Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock lose elections? Professor Jonathan Charteris-Black wrote in his book the Communication of Leadership that their problem was that they were ‘not naturally endowed with appearances conducive to positive media representations.’ Which is probably the politest way you can find of calling someone ugly.

Look at Boy George, Lady Gaga, Annie Lennox, Tina Turner, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie. They’re beautiful. But there’s also something else about them. They look different. They don’t look like the rest of us mere mortals. But isn’t this an essential requirement? Isn’t it true that our leaders, by definition, have to be different to the rest of us?

A great leader must be removed from where other people are if he is to lead: otherwise he’s not leading, he’s just standing in line. A leader needs to stand outside the establishment, not in it.

This seems counter-intuitive. We imagine most leaders come from the establishment. Real leaders do not. Most experience real struggles to get up to the top. It is that struggle which we admire. It is that struggle which inspires. And perhaps it is the emotional turmoil of isolation and their journey to the top that endows them with leadership qualities. Look at the great leaders of our history.

Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha all spent long periods in isolation during their formative years. All of the great dictators - Stalin, Hitler and Napoleon – were ethnic minorities in the lands they went on to conquer - Georgian, Austrian and Corsican respectively.  Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher were both outsiders in the Tory Party: Churchill crossed the floor twice in his career. Tony Blair was an outsider in the Labour Party. And Barack Obama was a definite outsider in the Democratic Party – knocking the establishment shoo-in, Hillary Clinton, right out of the way.

It is true that in business as well, leaders must also be outsiders. Jobs, Branson and Murdoch have always played around the fact that they are outsiders. They kept the position up throughout their lives. Even as they became the establishment, they constantly shifted the perspective so that they remained the rebels, not the insiders. And it’s no co-incidence perhaps that all of them have brushed up against the law at different points in their career.

Steve Jobs put it beautifully.
‘When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact – that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Maybe the most important thing is to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.’

But read this across to modern business. Where are the outsiders in business today? More and more FTSE CEOs are now coming up from Finance Director posts. They’re people who have grown up within the company. They’re insiders. So they’re struggling to connect.
And what about politics? Where are the outsiders? You look at Miliband, Clegg and Cameron. They’re not outsiders. They’re insiders. And not just insiders within their own parties, but insiders to the whole political establishment. They have identikit CVs. They’re insiders. So they’re struggling to connect.

The outsiders are there. You can spot them easily in Parliament. Watch PMQs. They’re the ones wearing grey suits, rejecting the normal blue or black. They’re rejecting the instinct to conform. Skinner. Hughes. That lot. But they tend not to get on. The Conservative Party in particular seems to have been taken over by insiders. The few working class members to have joined their ranks have been treated disgracefully. David Davis, Nadine Dorries, John Bercow. Briefings against them from their COLLEAGUES suggest that they are ‘unbalanced’, ‘mad’ or ‘an oik’.
It’s not hard to see the class prejudice which lies beneath the surface of these attacks.
That is a great shame. The Tories seem to have forgotten that their largest ever popular vote was won by a working class Prime Minister - John Major. Major was also an outsider, also briefed against and also rock n roll, as we found out later with Edwina Currie?

So, it seems to me that rock stars are outperforming politicians and business leaders and there is much that can be learnt from them.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying I want more Kinnock at Sheffield - ‘Alright!’, or Hague in baseball caps, or Brown talking about the Arctic Monkeys, or, god forbid, David Cameron pretending his favourite song was The Jam’s Eton Rifles when he clearly hadn’t even listened to the lyrics.
I am saying that we need more rock n roll leaders. And rock n roll can’t be acted. Rock n roll just is. It’s part of your being. It’s flowing through your veins.
It’s Steve Jobs – with his acid trips, his permanent revolutionary mindset, his constant quest for perfection.
It’s Richard Branson – with his supermodels, his ‘screw it, let’s do it’ attitude to business, his rather unorthodox office - on a barge in Little Venice.
It’s Tony Blair - the frustrated musician, once lead singer in a band called the Ugly Rumours, carrying his guitar into Downing Street.
So turn off the parliamentary channel off - turn on the iPod!
Show the passion. Share the dreams. Reveal weakness.
One way of putting it: ethos, pathos, logos
Another way of putting it?
Move like Jagger.
Thank you.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Art Movement - Suprematism

Artwork by Kazimir Malevich (Born near Keiv, Ukraine)

Suprematism, the invention of Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, was one of the earliest and most radical developments in abstract art. Its name derived from Malevich's belief that Suprematist art would be superior to all the art of the past, and that it would lead to the "supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts." Heavily influenced by avant-garde poets, and an emerging movement in literary criticism, Malevich derived his interest in flouting the rules of language, in defying reason. He believed that there were only delicate links between words or signs and the objects they denote, and from this he saw the possibilities for a totally abstract art.
 It was a radical and experimental project that at times came close to a strange mysticism. Although the Communist authorities later attacked the movement, its influence was pervasive in Russia in the early 1920s, and it was important in shaping Constructivism, just as it has been in inspiring abstract art to this day.
The Suprematists' interest in abstraction was fired by a search for the 'zero degree' of painting, the point beyond which the medium could not go without ceasing to be art.  
"Suprematism has advanced the ultimate tip of the visual pyramid of perspective into infinity.... We see that Suprematism has swept away from the plane the illusions of two-dimensional planimetric space, the illusions of three-dimensional perspective space, and has created the ultimate illusion of irrational space, with its infinite extensibility into the background and foreground." Though much  Suprematist art can seem highly austere and serious, there was a strong tone of absurdism running through the movement. One of Malevich's initial inspirations for the movement was zaum, or transrational poetry, of some of his contemporaries, something that led him to the idea of 'zaum painting.'

Olga Rozanova - Suprematism

Building the Revolution In Art

 Building the Revolution In Art
Artists Research, by K. S
Liubov Popova (1889-1924) was a Russian pioner avant-garde artist , painter and designer. Through a synthesis of styles.   Popova was one of the most talented, prolific, and influential women artists of the Russian avant-garde. Her style combines floating abstract forms inspired in part by Cubist collage (which she encountered on a trip to Paris in 1912–13) and Suprematism, an abstract style developed by her friend and compatriot Kazimir Malevich, together with an assertive color palette derived in part from Russian folk art.
She was born in the village of Ivanovskoe in Moscow province, in a family of a wealthy and cultured merchant. In high school she began to take art lessons with S. Zhukovskiy and K. Yuon in Moscow. In 1910, Popova went to Italy and became acquainted with the works of Giotto and Pintoriccio.
In 1912, she set up a studio in Moscow with N. Udaltsova, her friend from Arsenyeva's school and both women worked in Tatlin's studio The Tower. The same year she travelled to Paris and studied cubism with Le Fauconnier and Metzinger. After returning to Moscow in 1913, she became interested in Italian futurism. A year later, just before the war, she went to France and Italy again. In 1915 developed her own variant of non-objective art based on a dynamic combination of principles of icon painting. In 1916  She became a member of Supremus, organised by K. Malevich. In 1920, she worked at  Institute of Artistic Culture ( A centre of constructivist theories).
Painterly Architectonics show Popova's interest in the presentation of surface planes with an energy of inner tension, as the coloured masses, lines and volumes all interrelate to create a formal unity. Painterly Constructions further developed the idea of intersecting planes, but gave the compositions a feeling of greater freedom and fluidity.
The artist's fascination with construction allowed her to join other constructivists in absolute rejection of easel painting. She gave up her own painting and turned entirely to industrial design (1921). A year before her untimely death, Popova was appointed head of the Design Studio at the First State Textile Print Factory in Moscow.  Popova participated in many famous avant-garde exhibitions in Moscow and Saint Petersburg  : "Jack of Diamonds" (Moscow, 1914 and 1916), "Tramway V" (First Futurist Exhibition of Paintings, Petrograd 1915), "0.10" (Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings, Petrograd 1915),  and others. In addition, she was successful as a set designer for theatre. Her first scenic designs were for Tairov's production of "Romeo and Juliet" (1920).
 Liubov Popova died in 1924 at the age of 35.

  * In the first days of communist Russia, artists created radical sets and costumes for a futuristic new era of theatre that inspired Fritz Lang and even Flash Gordon. A century on, they’re just as outrageous.
 Lyubov Popova’s fantastic mechanical set for The Magnanimous 
Cuckold, 1922

Cubism is one of the most outstanding movements in abstract art. Geometric shapes, vivid colors, simple figures, and textures are all distinctive features of this style.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Hillary Clinton - You Don't Walk Away If You Love Someone.

 Hillary Clinton
* Voting is the most precious right of every citizen, and we have a moral obligation to ensure the integrity of our voting process.
 * What we have to do... is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities.
  * If a country doesn't recognize minority rights and human rights, including women's rights, you will not have the kind of stability and prosperity that is possible.
Human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights.
* As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of religion – in the name of God – the world will never know a true and lasting peace.
* Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me, but they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in, or what religion they claim, they all want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and our own bodies.'
 'Anywhere in the world, women should have the right to make their own choices. About what they wear, how they worship, the jobs they do, the causes they support. These are choices women have to make for themselves, and they are a fundamental test of democracy.
             Hillary Clinton
(Photo;  United States Presidents - Only men.. That's shocking! ready for hilary 2016!!! I am ready!:))))) K. S ))))


 Hillary Clinton: 'Women Need to Be Able to Choose'
      Women in the World - 2012

  Hillary Clinton - Free and Equal In Dignity!
Be ready for Hilary! <3 

Victoria Woodhull - Free Love! God woman!;DD

Victoria Woodhull (1838 – 1927) the first woman to run for President of the United States. Her running mate, interestingly enough, was Frederick Douglass, the first African-American to run for Vice President. She was also the first woman to start a weekly newspaper and an activist for women's rights, civil rights and anti-slavery activist. Woodhull was an advocate of free love, by which she meant the freedom to marry, divorce, and bear children without government interference.
1872 caricature by Thomas Nast: Wife, carrying heavy burden of children and drunk husband, admonishing (Mrs.) Satan (Victoria Woodhull), "I'd rather travel
"Mrs. Satan" as portrayed in Harper's Weekly. New York, Feb. 17, 1872
 "Get thee behind me, (Mrs.) Satan!", caricature by Thomas Nast
This issue features a fullpg. Thomas Nast print in which he shows Victoria Woodhull as the devil, captioned: 'Get Thee Behind Me, Mrs. Satan!' . Not shown in the photo here is an unhappy woman who ' climbing the rugged hill of life is compelled to bear alone the burden of a drunken husband & her little children.', who is tempted by Mrs. Woodhull who proclaims: 'Be Saved by Free Love!' Text includes quotes by Mrs. Woodhull, although her name is not mentioned.

Wife, carrying heavy burden of children and drunk husband, admonishing (Mrs.) Satan (Victoria Woodhull), "I'd rather travel the hardest path of matrimony than follow your footsteps." Mrs. Satan's sign reads, "Be saved by free love."
( Free Love!!!!!!!!!!!)))

Sunday, 18 January 2015


Me and The Beatles painting)

Against Interpretation, 1964

  There are no facts, only interpretations. 
Friedrich Nietzsche 
“Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It’s very tiny - very tiny, content.”
- Willem De Kooning 
“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”
- Oscar Wilde 
 Against Interpretation, 1964
      Susan Sontag
*  The earliest experience of art must have been that it was incantatory, magical; art was an instrument of ritual. (Cf. the paintings in the caves at Lascaux, Altamira, Niaux, La Pasiega, etc.) The earliest theory of art, that of the Greek philosophers, proposed that art was mimesis, imitation of reality.

It is at this point that the peculiar question of the value of art arose. For the mimetic theory, by its very terms, challenges art to justify itself.

Plato, who proposed the theory, seems to have done so in order to rule that the value of art is dubious. Since he considered ordinary material things as themselves mimetic objects, imitations of transcendent forms or structures, even the best painting of a bed would be only an “imitation of an imitation.” For Plato, art is neither particularly useful (the painting of a bed is no good to sleep on), nor, in the strict sense, true. And Aristotle’s arguments in defense of art do not really challenge Plato’s view that all art is an elaborate trompe l’oeil, and therefore a lie. But he does dispute Plato’s idea that art is useless. Lie or no, art has a certain value according to Aristotle because it is a form of therapy. Art is useful, after all, Aristotle counters, medicinally useful in that it arouses and purges dangerous emotions.

In Plato and Aristotle, the mimetic theory of art goes hand in hand with the assumption that art is always figurative. But advocates of the mimetic theory need not close their eyes to decorative and abstract art. The fallacy that art is necessarily a “realism” can be modified or scrapped without ever moving outside the problems delimited by the mimetic theory.

The fact is, all Western consciousness of and reflection upon art have remained within the confines staked out by the Greek theory of art as mimesis or representation. It is through this theory that art as such - above and beyond given works of art - becomes problematic, in need of defense. And it is the defense of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call “form” is separated off from something we have learned to call “content,” and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory.

Even in modern times, when most artists and critics have discarded the theory of art as representation of an outer reality in favor of the theory of art as subjective expression, the main feature of the mimetic theory persists. Whether we conceive of the work of art on the model of a picture (art as a picture of reality) or on the model of a statement (art as the statement of the artist), content still comes first. The content may have changed. It may now be less figurative, less lucidly realistic. But it is still assumed that a work of art is its content. Or, as it’s usually put today, that a work of art by definition says something. (“What X is saying is . . . ,” “What X is trying to say is . . .,” “What X said is . . .” etc., etc.)

 * None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art. We can only quarrel with one or another means of defense. Indeed, we have an obligation to overthrow any means of defending and justifying art which becomes particularly obtuse or onerous or insensitive to contemporary needs and practice.

This is the case, today, with the very idea of content itself. Whatever it may have been in the past, the idea of content is today mainly a hindrance, a nuisance, a subtle or not so subtle philistinism.

* Though the actual developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content, the idea still exerts an extraordinary hegemony. I want to suggest that this is because the idea is now perpetuated in the guise of a certain way of encountering works of art thoroughly ingrained among most people who take any of the arts seriously. What the overemphasis on the idea of content entails is the perennial, never consummated project of interpretation. And, conversely, it is the habit of approaching works of art in order to interpret them that sustains the fancy that there really is such a thing as the content of a work of art.

 * Of course, I don’t mean interpretation in the broadest sense, the sense in which Nietzsche (rightly) says, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” By interpretation, I mean here a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain “rules” of interpretation.

Directed to art, interpretation means plucking a set of elements (the X, the Y, the Z, and so forth) from the whole work. The task of interpretation is virtually one of translation. The interpreter says, Look, don’t you see that X is really - or, really means - A? That Y is really B? That Z is really C?

What situation could prompt this curious project for transforming a text? History gives us the materials for an answer. Interpretation first appears in the culture of late classical antiquity, when the power and credibility of myth had been broken by the “realistic” view of the world introduced by scientific enlightenment. Once the question that haunts post-mythic consciousness - that of the seemliness of religious symbols - had been asked, the ancient texts were, in their pristine form, no longer acceptable. Then interpretation was summoned, to reconcile the ancient texts to “modern” demands. Thus, the Stoics, to accord with their view that the gods had to be moral, allegorized away the rude features of Zeus and his boisterous clan in Homer’s epics. What Homer really designated by the adultery of Zeus with Leto, they explained, was the union between power and wisdom. In the same vein, Philo of Alexandria interpreted the literal historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible as spiritual paradigms. The story of the exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert for forty years, and the entry into the promised land, said Philo, was really an allegory of the individual soul’s emancipation, tribulations, and final deliverance. Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text (another notorious example is the Rabbinic and Christian “spiritual” interpretations of the clearly erotic Song of Songs), they must claim to be reading off a sense that is already there.

Interpretation in our own time, however, is even more complex. For the contemporary zeal for the project of interpretation is often prompted not by piety toward the troublesome text (which may conceal an aggression), but by an open aggressiveness, an overt contempt for appearances. The old style of interpretation was insistent, but respectful; it erected another meaning on top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates, and as it excavates, destroys; it digs “behind” the text, to find a sub-text which is the true one. The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud’s phrase, as manifest content. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning - the latent content - beneath. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) - all are treated as occasions for interpretation. According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.

Thus, interpretation is not (as most people assume) an absolute value, a gesture of mind situated in some timeless realm of capabilities. Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling.

 * Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

* Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is to turn the world into this world. (“This world”! As if there were any other.)
The world, our world, is depleted, impoverished enough. Away with all duplicates of it, until we again experience more immediately what we have.
 * In most modern instances, interpretation amounts to the philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone. Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, comformable.

* This philistinism of interpretation is more rife in literature than in any other art. For decades now, literary critics have understood it to be their task to translate the elements of the poem or play or novel or story into something else. Sometimes a writer will be so uneasy before the naked power of his art that he will install within the work itself - albeit with a little shyness, a touch of the good taste of irony - the clear and explicit interpretation of it. Thomas Mann is an example of such an overcooperative author. In the case of more stubborn authors, the critic is only too happy to perform the job.

The work of Kafka, for example, has been subjected to a mass ravishment by no less than three armies of interpreters. Those who read Kafka as a social allegory see case studies of the frustrations and insanity of modern bureaucracy and its ultimate issuance in the totalitarian state. Those who read Kafka as a psychoanalytic allegory see desperate revelations of Kafka’s fear of his father, his castration anxieties, his sense of his own impotence, his thralldom to his dreams. Those who read Kafka as a religious allegory explain that K. in The Castle is trying to gain access to heaven, that Joseph K. in The Trial is being judged by the inexorable and mysterious justice of God. . . . Another oeuvre that has attracted interpreters like leeches is that of Samuel Beckett. Beckett’s delicate dramas of the withdrawn consciousness - pared down to essentials, cut off, often represented as physically immobilized - are read as a statement about modern man’s alienation from meaning or from God, or as an allegory of psychopathology.

Proust, Joyce, Faulkner, Rilke, Lawrence, Gide . . . one could go on citing author after author; the list is endless of those around whom thick encrustations of interpretation have taken hold. But it should be noted that interpretation is not simply the compliment that mediocrity pays to genius. It is, indeed, the modern way of understanding something, and is applied to works of every quality. Thus, in the notes that Elia Kazan published on his production of A Streetcar Named Desire, it becomes clear that, in order to direct the play, Kazan had to discover that Stanley Kowalski represented the sensual and vengeful barbarism that was engulfing our culture, while Blanche Du Bois was Western civilization, poetry, delicate apparel, dim lighting, refined feelings and all, though a little the worse for wear to be sure. Tennessee Williams’ forceful psychological melodrama now became intelligible: it was about something, about the decline of Western civilization. Apparently, were it to go on being a play about a handsome brute named Stanley Kowalski and a faded mangy belle named Blanche Du Bois, it would not be manageable.

* It doesn’t matter whether artists intend, or don’t intend, for their works to be interpreted. Perhaps Tennessee Williams thinks Streetcar is about what Kazan thinks it to be about. It may be that Cocteau in The Blood of a Poet and in Orpheus wanted the elaborate readings which have been given these films, in terms of Freudian symbolism and social critique. But the merit of these works certainly lies elsewhere than in their “meanings.” Indeed, it is precisely to the extent that Williams’ plays and Cocteau’s films do suggest these portentous meanings that they are defective, false, contrived, lacking in conviction.

From interviews, it appears that Resnais and Robbe-Grillet consciously designed Last Year at Marienbad to accommodate a multiplicity of equally plausible interpretations. But the temptation to interpret Marienbad should be resisted. What matters in Marienbad is the pure, untranslatable, sensuous immediacy of some of its images, and its rigorous if narrow solutions to certain problems of cinematic form.

Again, Ingmar Bergman may have meant the tank rumbling down the empty night street in The Silence as a phallic symbol. But if he did, it was a foolish thought. (“Never trust the teller, trust the tale,” said Lawrence.) Taken as a brute object, as an immediate sensory equivalent for the mysterious abrupt armored happenings going on inside the hotel, that sequence with the tank is the most striking moment in the film. Those who reach for a Freudian interpretation of the tank are only expressing their lack of response to what is there on the screen.

It is always the case that interpretation of this type indicates a dissatisfaction (conscious or unconscious) with the work, a wish to replace it by something else.

Interpretation, based on the highly dubious theory that a work of art is composed of items of content, violates art. It makes art into an article for use, for arrangement into a mental scheme of categories.

Interpretation does not, of course, always prevail. In fact, a great deal of today’s art may be understood as motivated by a flight from interpretation. To avoid interpretation, art may become parody. Or it may become abstract. Or it may become (“merely”) decorative. Or it may become non-art.

The flight from interpretation seems particularly a feature of modern painting. Abstract painting is the attempt to have, in the ordinary sense, no content; since there is no content, there can be no interpretation. Pop Art works by the opposite means to the same result; using a content so blatant, so “what it is,” it, too, ends by being uninterpretable.

A great deal of modern poetry as well, starting from the great experiments of French poetry (including the movement that is misleadingly called Symbolism) to put silence into poems and to reinstate the magic of the word, has escaped from the rough grip of interpretation. The most recent revolution in contemporary taste in poetry - the revolution that has deposed Eliot and elevated Pound - represents a turning away from content in poetry in the old sense, an impatience with what made modern poetry prey to the zeal of interpreters.

I am speaking mainly of the situation in America, of course. Interpretation runs rampant here in those arts with a feeble and negligible avant-garde: fiction and the drama. Most American novelists and playwrights are really either journalists or gentlemen sociologists and psychologists. They are writing the literary equivalent of program music. And so rudimentary, uninspired, and stagnant has been the sense of what might be done with form in fiction and drama that even when the content isn’t simply information, news, it is still peculiarly visible, handier, more exposed. To the extent that novels and plays (in America), unlike poetry and painting and music, don’t reflect any interesting concern with changes in their form, these arts remain prone to assault by interpretation.

But programmatic avant-gardism - which has meant, mostly, experiments with form at the expense of content - is not the only defense against the infestation of art by interpretations. At least, I hope not. For this would be to commit art to being perpetually on the run. (It also perpetuates the very distinction between form and content which is, ultimately, an illusion.) Ideally, it is possible to elude the interpreters in another way, by making works of art whose surface is so unified and clean, whose momentum is so rapid, whose address is so direct that the work can be . . . just what it is. Is this possible now? It does happen in films, I believe. This is why cinema is the most alive, the most exciting, the most important of all art forms right now. Perhaps the way one tells how alive a particular art form is, is by the latitude it gives for making mistakes in it, and still being good. For example, a few of the films of Bergman - though crammed with lame messages about the modern spirit, thereby inviting interpretations - still triumph over the pretentious intentions of their director. In Winter Light and The Silence, the beauty and visual sophistication of the images subvert before our eyes the callow pseudo-intellectuality of the story and some of the dialogue. (The most remarkable instance of this sort of discrepancy is the work of D. W. Griffith.) In good films, there is always a directness that entirely frees us from the itch to interpret. Many old Hollywood films, like those of Cukor, Walsh, Hawks, and countless other directors, have this liberating anti-symbolic quality, no less than the best work of the new European directors, like Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player and Jules and Jim, Godard’s Breathless and Vivre Sa Vie, Antonioni’s L’Avventura, and Olmi’s The Fiancés.

The fact that films have not been overrun by interpreters is in part due simply to the newness of cinema as an art. It also owes to the happy accident that films for such a long time were just movies; in other words, that they were understood to be part of mass, as opposed to high, culture, and were left alone by most people with minds. Then, too, there is always something other than content in the cinema to grab hold of, for those who want to analyze. For the cinema, unlike the novel, possesses a vocabulary of forms - the explicit, complex, and discussable technology of camera movements, cutting, and composition of the frame that goes into the making of a film.

* What kind of criticism, of commentary on the arts, is desirable today? For I am not saying that works of art are ineffable, that they cannot be described or paraphrased. They can be. The question is how. What would criticism look like that would serve the work of art, not usurp its place?

What is needed, first, is more attention to form in art. If excessive stress on content provokes the arrogance of interpretation, more extended and more thorough descriptions of form would silence. What is needed is a vocabulary - a descriptive, rather than prescriptive, vocabulary - for forms.[1] The best criticism, and it is uncommon, is of this sort that dissolves considerations of content into those of form. On film, drama, and painting respectively, I can think of Erwin Panofsky’s essay, “Style and Medium in the Motion Pictures,” Northrop Frye’s essay “A Conspectus of Dramatic Genres,” Pierre Francastel’s essay “The Destruction of a Plastic Space.” Roland Barthes’ book On Racine and his two essays on Robbe-Grillet are examples of formal analysis applied to the work of a single author. (The best essays in Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis, like “The Scar of Odysseus,” are also of this type.) An example of formal analysis applied simultaneously to genre and author is Walter Benjamin’s essay, “The Story Teller: Reflections on the Works of Nicolai Leskov.”

Equally valuable would be acts of criticism which would supply a really accurate, sharp, loving description of the appearance of a work of art. This seems even harder to do than formal analysis. Some of Manny Farber’s film criticism, Dorothy Van Ghent’s essay “The Dickens World: A View from Todgers’,” Randall Jarrell’s essay on Walt Whitman are among the rare examples of what I mean. These are essays which reveal the sensuous surface of art without mucking about in it.

* Transparence is the highest, most liberating value in art - and in criticism - today. Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are. This is the greatness of, for example, the films of Bresson and Ozu and Renoir’s The Rules of the Game.

Once upon a time (say, for Dante), it must have been a revolutionary and creative move to design works of art so that they might be experienced on several levels. Now it is not. It reinforces the principle of redundancy that is the principal affliction of modern life.

Once upon a time (a time when high art was scarce), it must have been a revolutionary and creative move to interpret works of art. Now it is not. What we decidedly do not need now is further to assimilate Art into Thought, or (worse yet) Art into Culture.

Interpretation takes the sensory experience of the work of art for granted, and proceeds from there. This cannot be taken for granted, now. Think of the sheer multiplication of works of art available to every one of us, superadded to the conflicting tastes and odors and sights of the urban environment that bombard our senses. Ours is a culture based on excess, on overproduction; the result is a steady loss of sharpness in our sensory experience. All the conditions of modern life - its material plenitude, its sheer crowdedness - conjoin to dull our sensory faculties. And it is in the light of the condition of our senses, our capacities (rather than those of another age), that the task of the critic must be assessed.

What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more.

Our task is not to find the maximum amount of content in a work of art, much less to squeeze more content out of the work than is already there. Our task is to cut back content so that we can see the thing at all.

The aim of all commentary on art now should be to make works of art - and, by analogy, our own experience - more, rather than less, real to us. The function of criticism should be to show how it is what it is, even that it is what it is, rather than to show what it means.
In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.