Posts tagged Bob Dylan

Over My Shoulder #46: On Frank Zappa (and Ayn Rand). From Richard Kostelanetz, Toward Secession: 156 More Political Essays From a Fairly Orthodox Anarchist-Libertarian (2008)

Here’s the rules.

  1. At the top of the post, make a list of the books you’ve read all or part of, in print, over the course of the past week, at least as far as you can remember them. (These should be books that you’ve actually read as a part of your normal life, and not just something that you picked up to read a page of just in order to be able to post your favorite quote.)

  2. Pick one of those books from the list, and pick out a quote of one or more paragraphs, to post underneath the list.

  3. Avoid commentary above and beyond a couple sentences, which should be more a matter of context-setting or a sort of caption for the text than they are a matter of discussing the material.

  4. Quoting a passage does not entail endorsement of what’s said in it. You may agree or you may not. Whether you do isn’t really the point of the exercise anyway.

Here’s the books:

And here’s the quote. This is from a section of profiles in Richard Kostelanetz’s Toward Secession: 156 More Political Essays From a Fairly Orthodox Anarchist-Libertarian. This was home reading from earlier this week.

A radical from his professional beginnings to his premature end (on December 4, 1993, at the age of 52), Zappa won the respect of some, but not all, of his colleagues in both pop and highbrow composition. Indeed, his popular music had as many enemies as ans, but because of the loyalty of the latter he survived. Admirers of his extended serious compositions included the French music mogul Pierre Boulez. Zappa was once invited to give the keynote address to the American Society of University Composers; the 1995 meeting of the American Musicological Society included an extended paper on Zappa’s work. My own opinion (as someone who has written more about classical music than pop) is that the best of his music appeared before 1973, as many of his later concerts and records disintegrated into extended vamping jams in the tradition of pointless jazz.

Though Zappa was often a vulgar pop musician, he could be courageously critical of pop music vulgarity, at times functioning as an acerbic critic of the music business and eventually of world politics. It was not for nothing that his dissonant records were particularly treasured by Eastern European dissidents. Having influenced the man who became president of a new Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel, he thought about running for the American presidency, and might have done so, had he not been hit with terminal cancer.

He was present in some form or another for a quarter-century, if not as a performer, then as a record producer, sometimes as a cultural commentator. In contrast to other pop stars, he did not lapse into silence or absence; he did not, for instance, let putatively savvy managers ration the release of long-awaited albums. Indeed, in a courageous twist, he took several bootleg recordings of his own music, improved them technically, and released them under his own label. Nobody else involved in rock music, very much a business for the short-lived, could produce so much and such richly continuous cultural resonance.

Printed on the cover to his first album, Freak Out (1966), is an extraordinary list of These People Have Contributed Materially in Many Ways to Make Our Music What It Is. Please Do Not Hold It Against Them. With 162 names, the list reflects Zappa’s precious intelligence, polyartistic literacy, intellectual integrity, and various ambitions. Among the names are the writers James Joyce, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bram Stoker, and Theodore Sturgeon; the highbrow composers Arnold Schoenberg [by then dead only fifteen years], Edgard Varèse, Igor Stravinsky, Leo Ornstein, Alois Haba, Charles Ives, Anton Webern, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Roger Huntington Sessions, Vincent Persichetti, Mauricio Kagel; the music historian John Tasker Howard; the blues singers Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Little Walter, and Willie Mae Thornton; the record producers Tom Wilson and Phil Spector; the jazz improvisers Cecil Taylor, Roland Kirk, Eric Dolphy, and Charles Mingus; the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein [but not the Beatles], the off-shore disk-jockey Wolfman Jack, the perverse painters Salvador Dalí and Yves Tinguy; the pop singers Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Tiny Tim; the sexologist Eberhard Kronhausen; the earlier rock singers Elvis Presley and Johnny Otis; the Italian-American martyrs Sacco and Vanzetti; the comedian Lenny Bruce; he oversized actors Sonny Tufts and John Wayne, all of whom indicate not only that Zappa knew what he was doing professionally but that he also could credit the sources of his learning. Though Zappa could be an ironist, all of these acknowledgments were apparently serious (even Wayne and Tufts, whom I take to represent strong performers who could stand out from any group). While Zappa’s formal education ended at a local junior college, mine included college and then graduate school. Nonetheless, as a self-conscious intellectual born in the same year as Zappa (1940), I would have identified many of the same names on my short list at the time.

Even at a time when record albums (not to mention performing groups) began to have outrageous names, Zappa should still be credited with some of the most inventive coinages, beginning with the name of his group, but also including Freak Out, Absolutely Free, The Grand Wazoo, One Size Fits All, Joe’s Garbage Acts, Baby Snakes, Jazz from Hell, Freaks & Motherfu*%!!@#, ’Tis the Season To Be Jelly, Piquantique, Electric Aunt Jemima, Our Man in Nirvana, The Yellow Shark, etc. If inventive titling isn’t a measure of literary talent, I don’t know what is.

It seems curious in retrospect that a man who apparently had no loyal friends outside his family, who surrounded himself with paid retainers, who terminated most of his professional relationships with firings and law suits, hould still have an audience. Unlike most culture heroes who create the impression, however artificial, of someone you’d like beside you, Zappa was someone that most of us would sooner watch than know (or want to know). It is common to attribute his continuing success to his appeal to different audiences, some appreciative of his musical inventions, others of his taste for obscenity.

My sense is that his advanced pop has continuously attracted sophisticated teenagers who, even as they move beyond him, retain an affection for his work. Immediately after his death, the Columbia University radio station, WKCR, presented a marathon of his work, its regular disk-jockeys for jazz and avant-garde music speaking knowledgeably about his work. Many announcers at many other university radio stations elsewhere must have done likewise in December 1993. In this respect of influencing bright youth who grow up (e.g., the sort who become public radio disk-jockeys), he reminds me of the writer-philosopher Ayn Rand, whose commercial potential was likewise surprising. Just as her eccentric work has survived her death, so will Zappa’s.

What should not be forgotten is that Zappa lived dangerously, doing professionally what had not been done before and others would not do after him, at a time and in a country where such adventurousness was possible, even as he was continually warning that such possibility should never be taken for granted. For all the continuing admiration of his example, there has been no one like him since.

— Richard Kostelanetz (1997/2008), Frank Zappa (and Ayn Rand), Toward Secession: 156 More Political Essays From a Fairly Orthodox Anarchist-Libertarian. 300-302.

In Their Own Words, The Anniversary edition

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

Jus ad bello

Like Judas of old,
you lie and deceive
A world war can be won
you want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), Republican Party fund-raiser, 12 April 2002:

Why don’t we just take his oil? Smith bellowed to the crowd during a fiery 13-minute speech, referring to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Why buy it? Take it!

President George W. Bush, speech before the United Nations General Assembly, 12 September 2002:

He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge — by his deceptions, and by his cruelties — Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.

From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs, and aircraft spray tanks. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

United Nations’ inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.

We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence.

Perry G. Smith, guest column for the Opelika-Auburn News, 27 February 2003:

The editorial board asked these questions:

  1. How can we start a war with Iraq while waging a war against terrorists all over the place?

  2. Would the battlefront be too much to manage?

  3. Might al-Qaida appreciate us going into Iraq?

  4. If we attack Iraq, will we be more vulnerable to terrorists?

It’s too bad those people whom we elected to make decisions about those questions for us (President Bush, Vice President Chaney [sic] and our Republican-controlled Congress) and our nation’s National Security advisers and military leaders don’t include the [Opelika-Auburn News] on every little aspect of their planning. Our smart leaders use intelligence that is gathered by very sophisticated sources in their decision-making process. Disclosure of our secret intelligence and plans (necessarily the answers to your questions) to the liberally biased news media usually gets the people who gave the information on which we based our decisions killed or stops any further disclosure of information to our sources. I believe that our leaders have made a full assessment of those and other questions and the best courses of action have been decided upon for the best interest of our nation. All of us should fall in behind our president and whole-heartedly support him and our committed military personnel now.

Saddam needs to disarm now. If he does not, this superpower intends to make him. I personally believe that this conflict will be over more quickly than Desert Storm and with even fewer U.S. casualties.

Jus in bello

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

George W. Bush, 20 January 2002:

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, … do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 20, 2002, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to reflect upon the sanctity of human life. Let us recognize the day with appropriate ceremonies in our homes and places of worship, rededicate ourselves to compassionate service on behalf of the weak and defenseless, and reaffirm our commitment to respect the life and dignity of every human being.

Alberto Gonzales, memo to George W. Bush, 23 January 2002:

Positives

The consequences of a decision to adhere to what I understood to be your earlier determination that the GPW does not apply to the Taliban include the following:

  • Substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 2441). ** That statute, enacted in 1996 prohibits the commission of a war crime by or against a U.S. person, including U.S. officials. War crime for these purposes is defined to include any grave breach of GPW or any violation of common Article 3 thereof (such as outrages against personal dignity). Some of these provisions apply (if the GPW applies) regardless of whether the individual being detained qualifies as a POW. Punishments for violations of Section 2441 include the death penalty. A determination that the GPW is not applicable to the Taliban would mean that Section 2441 would not apply to actions taken with respect to the Taliban.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, meeting with troops in Qatar, 28 April 2003:

And there have not been large numbers of civilian casualties because the coalition took such great care to protect the lives of innocent civilians as well as holy sites. … When the dust is settled in Iraq, military historians will study this war. They’ll examine the unprecedented combination of power, precision, speed, flexibility and, I would add also, compassion that was employed.

General Tommy Franks, Bagram Air Force Base, 19 March 2002:

I don’t believe you have heard me or anyone else in our leadership talk about the presence of 1,000 bodies out there, or in fact how many have been recovered. You know we don’t do body counts.

Donald Rumsfeld, interview on FOX News Sunday, 9 November 2003:

Well, we don’t do body counts …

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, interview with BBC Today, 18 May 2004:

Q: How many people, Iraqi people, have been killed during the occupation? Do you have a figure or don’t you?

A: … And I gave answers to a Parliamentary Question on this. I went into it in a great deal of detail. We’ve made use of NGO estimates, and others, but the last estimate which I gave in answer to a Parliamentary Question, and I speak from recollection but I’m happy to have this checked, was about ten thousand.

Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press, 7 September 2004:

A spike in fighting with Sunni and Shiite insurgents killed eight Americans in the Baghdad area on Tuesday and Wednesday, pushing the count to 1,003. That number includes 1,000 U.S. troops and three civilians, two working for the U.S. Army and one for the Air Force. The tally was compiled by The Associated Press based on Pentagon records and AP reporting from Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld cited progress on multiple fronts in the Bush administration’s global war on terrorism and said U.S. enemies should not underestimate the willingness of the American people and its coalition allies to suffer casualties in Iraq and elsewhere.

Dr. Les Roberts, 29 October 2004:

Making conservative assumptions we think that about 100,000 excess deaths, or more, have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most of the violent deaths.

James Massey, interview on Democracy Now!, 24 May 2004:

Iraq violated every rule of engagement that I have ever been taught - violated every rule of the Geneva Convention that I have been taught.

Adam Gorlick, Associated Press, 16 October 2004:

Depression set in, and Jeff dealt with it by going on heavy drinking binges. On Christmas Eve, he sat down with Debbie and gave his first account of being told to shoot two unarmed Iraqi soldiers.

The way he told the story, Jeff was about five feet away from two Iraqis — each about his own age — when he was ordered to shoot them. He said he looked them in their eyes before closing his own, then pulled the trigger.

He took off two dog tags around his neck, threw them at me and said, Don’t you understand? Your brother is a murderer, Debbie said.

Doug Struck, Washington Post, 7 December 2004:

A former U.S. Marine staff sergeant testified at a hearing Tuesday that his unit killed at least 30 unarmed civilians in Iraq during the war in 2003 and that Marines routinely shot and killed wounded Iraqis.

Jimmy J. Massey, a 12-year veteran, said he left Iraq in May 2003 after a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress. He said he and his men shot and killed four Iraqis staging a demonstration and a man with his hands up trying to surrender, as well as women and children at roadblocks. Massey said he had complained to his superiors about the killing of innocent civilians, but that nothing was done.

U.S.-appointed Iraqi Defence Minister Sheikh Hazem Shalaam, 9 November 2004:

We’ve called it Operation Dawn. God willing, it’s going to be a new, happy dawn for the people of Falluja.

U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, 9 November 2004:

There is no confusion, if you’re on the street, you’re a bad guy. Ninety per cent of the civilian population has left

Rory McCarthy and Peter Beaumont, The Guardian:

The moves came amid renewed warnings from aid groups that Iraq’s civilian population was facing a humanitarian catastrophe.

Although many of Falluja’s 200,000 to 300,000 residents fled the city before the assault, between 30,000 and 50,000 are believed to have remained during the fighting.

The horrific conditions for those who remained in the city have begun to emerge in the last 24 hours as it became clear that US military claims of precision targeting of insurgent positions were false.

According to one Iraqi journalist who left Falluja on Friday, some of the civilian injuries were caused by the massive firepower directed on to city neighbourhoods during the battle.

If the fighters fire a mortar, US forces respond with huge force, said the journalist, who asked not to be named.

The city had been without power or water for days. Frozen food had spoiled and people could not charge their cellphones. Some people hadn’t prepared well. They didn’t stock up on tinned food. They didn’t think it would be this bad, he said.

At the main hospital, cut off from the rest of the city, doctors have reportedly been treating the injured with nothing but bandages, while the Red Crescent says people have been bleeding to death for lack of medical attention.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, meeting with troops in Qatar, 28 April 2003:

Q: Hi, Mr. Secretary. I’m Sergeant Cramer (ph) from the 502nd (Transit ?), and I was just curious to know whether or not you’ve been bombarded with apologetic phonecalls from your critics who had perceived a doom and gloom scenario.

(Applause; cheers.)

Rumsfeld: My answer’s off the record. (Laughter.) There were a lot of hand-wringers around, weren’t there? (Laughter; applause.) You know, during World War II, I think Winston Churchill was talking about the Battle of Britain, and he said, Never have so many owed so much to so few. A humorist in Washington the other day sent me a note paraphrasing that, and he said, Never have so many been so wrong about so much. (Laughter; applause.)

Jus post bellum

How much do I know
to talk out of turn?
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Thought I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never forgive what you do

George W. Bush, remarks to reporters, 3 May 2003:

We’ll find them [Weapons of Mass Destruction]. It’ll be a matter of time to do so

George W. Bush, interview with TVP Poland, 30 May 2003:

But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 10 February 2004

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he did not recall British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s pre-war claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ready to be deployed in 45 minutes.

I don’t remember the statement being made, to be perfectly honest, Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference.

General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he didn’t remember the statement either.

The claim made headlines around the world after Blair leveled it in a 55-page white paper presented to the House of Commons in September 2002.

Paul Bremer, Coalition Provisional Authority, 2 September 2003:

The Iraqi people are now free. And they do not have to worry about the secret police coming after them in the middle of the night, and they don’t have to worry about their husbands and brothers being taken off and shot, or their wives being taken to rape rooms. Those days are over.

George W. Bush, press availability in Monterrey, Mexico, 12 January 2004:

One thing is for certain: There won’t be any more mass graves and torture rooms and rape rooms.

Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, report to Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, 11 March 2004:

On 19 January 2004, Lieutenant General (LTG) Ricardo S. Sanchez, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force Seven (CJTF-7) requested that the Commander, US Central Command, appoint an Investigating Officer (IO) in the grade of Major General (MG) or above to investigate the conduct of operations within the 800th Military Police (MP) Brigade. LTG Sanchez requested an investigation of detention and internment operations by the Brigade from 1 November 2003 to present. LTG Sanchez cited recent reports of detainee abuse.

I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts: (a) Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet; (b) Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees; (c) Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing; (d) Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time; (e) Forcing naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear; (f) Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped; (g) Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them; (h) Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture; (i) Writing I am a Rapest (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked; (j) Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female Soldier pose for a picture; (k) A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee; (l) Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee; (m) Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees. … These findings are amply supported by written confessions provided by several of the suspects, written statements provided by detainees, and witness statements.

Several US Army Soldiers have committed egregious acts and grave breaches of international law at Abu Ghraib/BCCF and Camp Bucca, Iraq. Furthermore, key senior leaders in both the 800th MP Brigade and the 205th MI Brigade failed to comply with established regulations, policies, and command directives in preventing detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) and at Camp Bucca during the period August 2003 to February 2004.

Then-National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, CBS Early Show, 19 March 2004:

There are no more rape rooms and torture chambers in Iraq.

George W. Bush, remarks on the first anniversary of the Iraq War, 19 March 2004:

All of us can now agree that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression and instability in the Middle East. … Who would prefer that Saddam’s torture chambers still be open? Who would wish that more mass graves were still being filled? Who would begrudge the Iraqi people their long-awaited liberation?

George W. Bush, interview with Al-Arabiya Television, 5 May 2004:

It’s very important for people, your listeners, to understand in our country that when an issue is brought to our attention on this magnitude, we act—and we act in a way where leaders are willing to discuss it with the media. And we act in a way where, you know, our Congress asks pointed questions to the leadership. … Iraq was a unique situation because Saddam Hussein had constantly defied the world and had threatened his neighbors, had used weapons of mass destruction, had terrorist ties, had torture chambers …

George W. Bush, Presidential radio address on the second anniversary of the Iraq War, 19 March 2005:

Good morning. On this day two years ago, we launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to disarm a brutal regime, free its people, and defend the world from a grave danger.

Et cognoscetis veritatem

Let me ask you one question.
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness?
Do you think that it could?
I think you will find
when your death takes its toll
all the money you made
will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I’ll follow your casket
in the pale afternoon
I’ll watch while you’re lowered
down to your death-bed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead

White ribbon, for an end to violence

IN MEMORIAM.