Monday, June 04, 2007

in my internet meandering today i came upon a site for the sasquatch music festival, which, by the way, had a lineup that looks tempting enough that even i , with my considerable disdain for the crowd factor of those things, might make it to. but this site lead me to an arcade fire site where i saw 'journal' entries by some of the band members. in one, win recommends an orwell essay which reminded me of my favorite orwell essay. i hadnt read it in years, not since we began the debacle in iraq so i looked it up on the net. as i remembered it, i thought it would speak to us americans and what we are doing over there because it is about one of the corrupting influences of imperialism. a sickness that cripples the oppressor more than the oppressed. so i just reread it and it has all the candor, directness and power that i remember. i find it heart breaking on many levels. it is called 'shooting an elephant'.

39 comments:

Mr. Hayes said...

I remember this essay. It was in my tenth (I think) grade world literature book. I remember searching this book for things to read in class when the teacher was boring me. I think the word poignant comes to mind when I think of this essay. However, my fifteen year old brain really hadn't grasped the whole allegory to imperialism, though I appreciate the connection you've made here, Eric. You've helped me to rediscover a bit of my past.

This was also the same book that I found Nikolai Gogol's "The Overcoat" and became a fan of the story. Sometimes I too, think I am like the lead character in that story.

While I'm on the topic, I remember a story (from a french writer) about a man who was like a civil servant, never made much money but his beautiful wife was always able to take his meager salary and provide amazing things for them. He also recollects how she loved (what he thought to be) fake jewelry. In the end, she dies young and he takes the "jewels" to a jewler, and destitute now, tries to sell them for a few francs (this was before the Euro, kids) only to realize that they are truly real. The inference I got from the story was that she was a, uh, er, lady of the evening but kept it from her husband. There ya go.

Anonymous said...

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

George D said...

i love the video of arcade fire playing the song neon bible in an elevator, and instead of drums, the guitarist rips paper, i was completely mind fucked when i saw that, it was one of those why did'nt i think of that moments. Amazing Band.

George D said...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wjxef8AfVQg

Thats the link to it, he actually banged on the elevator for drums.

Anonymous said...

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I see those many levels levels of despair that essay will provoke to a humanist, so I will only comment on irony involved with the opressed taking so much pleasure in the beasts demise...while simply behaving consistently with its nature and will to be free.

Other themes in the essay reminds me of the study done at Stanford where a sociology class was divided into 2 groups. The study was to last a weekend. One of the groups was to be a facimile of prison guards, the other, inmates. It was conducted in the basement of one of the Universities basements. After places were taken, the experiment had to be aborted after mere hours as organizers were positive that left to run its course the students were going to commit homicide.

Be well,

SR

Anonymous said...

Gogol's "The Nose" is one of my favorite shorts for laughs. I read it (self edited when I read or my wifes kids at their school. I look forward to "The Overcoat".


Best...SR

Anonymous said...

Hi Ya Eric,

I never heard back from you about jamming when I am in L.A. With great respect for you - being ignored sucks. I would rather you politely decline.

If I were in your situation I may have done the same thing. SO no big deal and as always I wish you all the love in the universe.

With respect and kindness,
Mike

C. Brian said...

EA,

Talk about syncronicity, the day before you posted about teleflip, I'd actually signed up for the service! Haven't gotten it to work yet, though. Thanks, by the way, for the music recommendations a few posts ago -- Arcade Fire, Blonde Redhead, etc. Much appreciated. Orwell, like Huxley, was a prophet, no doubt. I'm a fan of Kafka myself . . . when Gregpr Samsa awakes to find out that he's a cockroach or some other bug in The Metamorphosis".

Anonymous said...

An excellent companion essay to "Shooting an elephant" is Orwell's "A Hanging" (1931).

Equally heartbreaking + poignant.

Penned under his real name, Eric Blair.

[Just so people understand: these are non-fiction essays. Orwell really experienced these events in Burma.]

christy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
George D said...

Yo,

Whats it like having dred locks.

Peace

Ryan said...

Hey E-
This morning while getting ready the family was listening to Decon. and when listening to "Son" my wife asked from the other room if this was Iggy,...interesting. At the same time I was wondering if "Son" was about you. I suppose you are your parents son :) and That is All i have to say.
Thanks for being my soundtrack.
Cheerio-
R

-ea. said...

mr. hayes- can you remember who the writer was? id be interested.

-ea. said...

george d- i really loved the elevator clip. they are just a really good band in general.

matt volpe said...

Hey EA, Very powerful and insightful essay, thanks for sharing.
It is my boy Avery's 1st year birthday today. He ate a huge waffle for breakfast and I played him some bass, including "three days", he loved it! Hope you are well. Talk soon, Matt

Tanya said...

I think the story Mr. Hayes was referring to is The False Gems by Guy de Maupassant?

http://www.classicallibrary.org/maupassant/swgem/24.htm

Jan said...

these literature related blog entries are nice. It reminds me of reading some interview with you way back in 1990s when I was 12-13 and you dropped a name of Lawrence Durrell there. Before that I was aware only of his brother Gerald - I got Henry Miller-Lawrence Durrell correspondence book to figure out who were you talking about, and I discovered a new world with that book.Thank you.

I wanted to ask about your collaboration with The Smashing Pumpkins. You said you worked briefly with them and that you found Corgan to be an inspiring artist - that's all I could find out. Why it did not happen then and you parted your ways? I am shooting here into dark, but maybe the following list is the best way to organize it:
Q1: Did you work on particular songs intended for the coming Pumpkins album, or you parted ways in early stage when you were just trying if you could play along each other?
Q2: Among Pumpkins fans there is a hypothesis maybe you wanted more input into the music than what Corgan was willing to give you.
Did he want you as a recording, regular band member or was this strictly about touring position only?
Q3: Was it money?

thank you for your literature tips (both in the past and now) and possible replies. I am looking forward to your future blog entries.

Meany said...

Eric,

I popped Deconstruction into my CD player today and
I remebered how great your music is. Thanks!

Please visit mt blogs:

http://threesixty5.blogspot.com/

http://www.meany-meany.blogspot.com/

George D said...

wow, its been strangely quiet around here......

Come on Eric Avery we need more blogging!

Anonymous said...

Hi E,

Are you a fan of Derrida? Is that where "Deconstruction" came from?

Be well,

SR

-ea. said...

sr- yes. fascinating stuff. what was the other famous one there is footage of? i cant remember what it was called where they pressured people into giving test subjects an increasing amount of electrical shock. or at least that is what they believed they were doing. if ever there was an advertisement for learning how to disobey... disobedience is an art; something worth practicing.

-ea. said...

mike- fair enough. i politely decline.

-ea. said...

c. brian- i didnt even know that teleflip was something you could sign up for. i just started using it for the particular (and free) ability i mentioned in my post.

ive never done huxley. dont know why. i will have to add him to my to do list. been reading 'tete a tete' about de beauvoir and sartre. sure makes our post-millenial culture seem static, repressed and 'bourgeois'.

-ea. said...

anonymous- havent done 'a hanging'. will check it. thanks.

-ea. said...

george d- having dredlocks meant that i missed having a womans hands through my hair. it is a decidedly unsensual experience.

-ea. said...

ryan- 'son' was about my experience every morning having my mom drive me to the methadone clinic. seeing all the other failed sons who were older by twenty years and there with their moms. oh the humanity.

-ea. said...

jan- i explored the time with the pumpkins as a possible new member. i wasnt interested in learning songs and touring. when it turned into that we parted ways. money, as it always does, only clarified what we all wanted and didnt want. i know this is a little cryptic but i am concerned about peoples privacy, and about presenting only one side of a story in such matters. the short answer is billy was not looking for someone like me for that job.

-ea. said...

george d- you are right sir. my silence here has been deafening between my ears.

-ea. said...

sr- i have only a nodding aquintance with derrida and one large coffee table book. my wife (the architect) has more. i used a peripheral idea about the lack of intrinsic definition in things, and therefore how context defines stuff. wow. i sound like jeff spicoli in 'fast times at ridgemont high' doing postmodern theory. anyway, i was experimenting with building songs whose 'verses' and 'choruses' had nothing to do with the part of the song that came just before. sort of, well, deconstructed.

-ea. said...

sr- by the way, i heard someone make an interesting observation. they said that they partially faulted postmodern academia for the rise in fundamentalism in the west. saying that academia has fueled the 'science or rationalism is just another belief system' sort of idea.

yazzgem said...

Eric, this is Stephanie Kirianoff....remember me? I was just trolling around the internet while at work and found you. I hope you're doing well and I'm looking forward to hearing your new solo endeavor....It would actually be really nice to maybe catch up with you via email or myspace or something, so my email is yazzgems@yahoo.com, and you can find me on myspace by my name... I really hope to hear from you soon!!!!

Anonymous said...

what are your thoughts on perry playing JA songs in every band he arranges? P4P and now S.P....do you feel this is a little jab at you and the other members?.. (especially when he always plays the bass line driven 'mountain song'!?)

n.m

Joshua said...

I mentioned Orwell's "A Hanging". I should have given a direct link for everybody:
http://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/hanging/english/e_hanging

Sorry about that.
___
On a lighter note: Orwell's review of Salvador Dali's biography is hilarious.
"Benefit Of Clergy: Some Notes On Salvador Dali" - 1944.
http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/essays.htm

C. Brian said...

EA,

You alluded to a famous social psychology experiment that focused on obedience, authority, and punishment. I think it was Stanley Milgram's experiment. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I remember a lecture by Levi Strauss regarding Deconstructionism, but the shock therapy eludes me either within it, or as part of an entirely different philosophy or psychology.

I find the concept of "signifyers" facinating not as a philosophical absolute (Deconstructionism will deconstruct under that scrutiny), but as a concept that has major impact on how we communicate on personal and global levels. Diplomacy would do itself a favor to read up on Derrida for real.

In the world of literature, it has major implicaions as well, and not simply as book club members arguing over theoretical intent (which is actually the reader morphing into the author), but as the written word is manipulated, Faulkner's Benjy is a revolutionary character inasmuch as his first person is delivered to the reader in terms of his organic thought process prior to the brains need to clarify thoughts by 'sanitizing' them for conversations sake. Combine this with his insanity and limited cognitive ability and Derrida's utility to literature has vastly grown.

Music deconstructs constantly as well, and your efforts to complicate that don't go unnoticed. I think Deconstructionism within music more often than not works in its favor.

Be well,

SR

Anonymous said...

The Milgram experiment does ring a bell, and I remember seeing a videotaped experiment with very similar conditions recently on a Dateline type of show. Thanks for the link.

E, that is an interesting hypothesis on postmodernisms' consequence to fundamentalism. It doesn not explain its historical relevance and impact that pre existed modernism and postmodernism. Art and science have always been the archenemy of fundementalist platforms, so I can offer this as it relates to art...The Moderists were really the first to establish the term "artist" as a workable label. Prior to Lawrence and Wolfe (and others) "artists" didn't work under the sexy and respected tag that we now involuntarily ascribe to them. This might have made for a more defined target, and thus sourced a formidable scapegoat for more limited thinkers. What frightens a fundamentalist more that out of box ideas pertainming t inclusion and tolerance, or at least strives to shed any fear that results in work so provacative that very uncomfortable questions must to be asked?

As for science, I have yet to see a dialouge between science and religion that doesn't result in religion talking past science in yet another atempt to indoctrinate fence sitters.

Best,
SR

Anonymous said...

Thanks Eric, good read

darran anderson said...

you reminded me of a classic i'd forgotten about, much obliged. went back over Orwell's essays and there's some stunning writing - Down The Mine, Inside The Whale, A Hanging, Revenge Is Sour, Decline of the English Murder, raised honesty to a fine art like a true latter-day prophet.
on a side-note i was wondering if you write much yourself, in terms of poetry or prose? lot of the lyrics from Decon and Polar Bear (thinking Friday, Water, LA Song, America etc) pack a serious punch even when taken away from the music. looking forward to the album, best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Eric for the response. Sincerely.
respect and kindess,
Mike