Censorship in the most censorious age

This essay is a reply to a comment by Michael H on an editorial I wrote in August about the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and the Tor Project defending the right for the American neo-Nazi online Daily Stormer to be granted hosting and DNS propagation.  It started as a reply to the reply, but grew longer than expected, and is therefore presented as an essay in its own right.

Fifteen, twenty years ago I would probably have agreed with all of Michael H’s points.  What happened since then included the personal experience of watching Western centre-left parties become conservative, and conservatives become openly, unashamedly corrupt lackeys of short-sighted plutocrats.  Short-sighted because they act nihilistically to destroy a consumer base they need to sustain their own profitability over the longer term, and to maintain stable societies in which consumption, not civil strife, is the leitmotif.

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Media more shallow than politicians

Only today I yet again had cause to link political decline to simpleton journalists.

This time the obvious candidate is the ABC’s Queensland commentator, Chris O’Brien, turning out two stories that are so shot through with ignorance, and an absence of a single clear thought, the ABC should feel cheated to have paid O’Brien this week.

Chris O'Brien
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THE VIETNAM WAR (2017) part 1 of 4

Notes on the overpowering documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

On Patrol

CONTENTS PART ONE: APERÇU | DIRECTORY | GESTALT: PROPAGANDA | GESTALT WELTANSCHAUUNG | GESTALT: EXCEPTIONALISM | GESTALT: CIVIL WAR
CONTENTS PART TWO: GESTALT: AUDIENCE | GESTALT: MULTIPLICITY | GESTALT: COMPARISONS | DIFFERENCES: TIẾNG VIỆT | DIFFERENCES: WOMEN | DIFFERENCES: CONFESSIONS
CONTENTS PART THREE: DIFFERENCES: BARBARITY | SPELLBOUND: FERRIZZI | SPELLBOUND: BEATLES | UNRESOLVED: McNAMARA | UNRESOLVED: KISSINGER | FRAMEWORK: SUBJECTIVITY | FRAMEWORK: MYTHIFICATION | DISPATCHES: BEZOS
CONTENTS PART FOUR: DISPATCHES: PARTISANS | VERDICT: CHỢ ĐEN | VERDICT: ABSOLUTION | VERDICT: ALIENS | VERDICT: VALEDICTION | SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

APERÇU

Nothing compares to this film in terms of that daily sense of obligation, of responsibility, coupled with the possibility for art and expression.

Ken Burns.

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THE VIETNAM WAR (2017) part 2 of 4

On Patrol

CONTENTS PART ONE: APERÇU | DIRECTORY | GESTALT: PROPAGANDA | GESTALT WELTANSCHAUUNG | GESTALT: EXCEPTIONALISM | GESTALT: CIVIL WAR
CONTENTS PART TWO: GESTALT: AUDIENCE | GESTALT: MULTIPLICITY | GESTALT: COMPARISONS | DIFFERENCES: TIẾNG VIỆT | DIFFERENCES: WOMEN | DIFFERENCES: CONFESSIONS
CONTENTS PART THREE: DIFFERENCES: BARBARITY | SPELLBOUND: FERRIZZI | SPELLBOUND: BEATLES | UNRESOLVED: McNAMARA | UNRESOLVED: KISSINGER | FRAMEWORK: SUBJECTIVITY | FRAMEWORK: MYTHIFICATION | DISPATCHES: BEZOS
CONTENTS PART FOUR: DISPATCHES: PARTISANS | VERDICT: CHỢ ĐEN | VERDICT: ABSOLUTION | VERDICT: ALIENS | VERDICT: VALEDICTION | SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

GESTALT: AUDIENCE

As already touched on, all non-Americans are made ‘aliens’ in an exceptionalist conception – ‘aliens’ being the pejorative, bureaucratic term the USA applies to ‘foreigners’.  It is a concept that doesn’t just reference ‘foreignness’, but the implication that people who are not American are in fact a different species altogether, like extra-terrestrials.

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THE VIETNAM WAR (2017) part 3 of 4

On Patrol

CONTENTS PART ONE: APERÇU | DIRECTORY | GESTALT: PROPAGANDA | GESTALT WELTANSCHAUUNG | GESTALT: EXCEPTIONALISM | GESTALT: CIVIL WAR
CONTENTS PART TWO: GESTALT: AUDIENCE | GESTALT: MULTIPLICITY | GESTALT: COMPARISONS | DIFFERENCES: TIẾNG VIỆT | DIFFERENCES: WOMEN | DIFFERENCES: CONFESSIONS
CONTENTS PART THREE: DIFFERENCES: BARBARITY | SPELLBOUND: FERRIZZI | SPELLBOUND: BEATLES | UNRESOLVED: McNAMARA | UNRESOLVED: KISSINGER | FRAMEWORK: SUBJECTIVITY | FRAMEWORK: MYTHIFICATION | DISPATCHES: BEZOS
CONTENTS PART FOUR: DISPATCHES: PARTISANS | VERDICT: CHỢ ĐEN | VERDICT: ABSOLUTION | VERDICT: ALIENS | VERDICT: VALEDICTION | SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

DIFFERENCES: BARBARITY

One of the things I learnt in the war is that we’re not the top species on the planet because we’re nice. We are a very aggressive species.  It is in us.  And people talk a lot about how, ‘well the military turns,’ you know, ‘kids into killing machines’ and stuff.  And I’ll always argue that it’s just finishing school.

What we do with civilization is that we learn to inhibit and rope in these aggressive tendencies.  And we have to recognise them.  I worry about a whole country that doesn’t recognise it.  ‘Cause you think of many times we get ourselves in scrapes as a nation because we’re always the good guys.

Sometimes I think if we thought that we weren’t always the good guys we might actually get in less wars.

– Karl Marlantes, former Marine, about 48 minutes into episode five.

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THE VIETNAM WAR (2017) part 4 of 4

On Patrol

CONTENTS PART ONE: APERÇU | DIRECTORY | GESTALT: PROPAGANDA | GESTALT WELTANSCHAUUNG | GESTALT: EXCEPTIONALISM | GESTALT: CIVIL WAR
CONTENTS PART TWO: GESTALT: AUDIENCE | GESTALT: MULTIPLICITY | GESTALT: COMPARISONS | DIFFERENCES: TIẾNG VIỆT | DIFFERENCES: WOMEN | DIFFERENCES: CONFESSIONS
CONTENTS PART THREE: DIFFERENCES: BARBARITY | SPELLBOUND: FERRIZZI | SPELLBOUND: BEATLES | UNRESOLVED: McNAMARA | UNRESOLVED: KISSINGER | FRAMEWORK: SUBJECTIVITY | FRAMEWORK: MYTHIFICATION | DISPATCHES: BEZOS
CONTENTS PART FOUR: DISPATCHES: PARTISANS | VERDICT: CHỢ ĐEN | VERDICT: ABSOLUTION | VERDICT: ALIENS | VERDICT: VALEDICTION | SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

DISPATCHES: PARTISANS

Of all the press treatment the film received, only a handful of writers had interesting things to say, both positive and negative.

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Big Little Lies (2017)

‘Come around.  I’ll cook steak with mushroom sauce … the way you like it,’ Giovanna said with that alluring Italian lilt.  ‘We can watch the rest of Big Little Lies.’

The offer of steak was pretty well irresistible, so I knew there had to be a catch.

‘Can we do the steak without indigestion afterwards?’ I moped at her over the phone.  I would have turned up on her doorstep without the offer of any dinner or entertainment.  I think she knew it, but we conspired to play the game regardless.

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Modern Classics of Science Fiction (1992)

Edited by Gardner Dozois, and originally published as The Legend Book of Science Fiction (1991), this weighty anthology reminded me why I stopped reading science fiction in the 1980s.

Gardner Dozois (pronounced doze-wah) was most famously the editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine between 1984 and 2004 (the publication was re-named Asimov’s Science Fiction in 1992).  He has also been editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies since 1984.  As a writer he began in the late 1960s, sticking mainly to short-form pieces, and winning Nebula Awards in the early 1980s.
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The Remains of the Day (1993)

A friend recently remarked to me how similar the British and Japanese are, for their rigid class systems, and stolid custom of surrendering personal indulgence and judgement to ritual obedience of customs that fix social and personal boundaries.

Today I re-visited the 1993 film The Remains of the Day.  An understated gem that makes my friend’s observation come to life.

How striking, still, after all these years, to see the privilege and tragedy of British aristocracy told quite so poignantly by Kazuo Ishiguro.  How odd, too, that he met with the approval of the British literary establishment, winning the 1989 Man Booker Prize for the novel.
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Brian Aldiss, 18 August 1925 – 19 August 2017

Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, Michael Kustow, and JG Ballard at the 1968 Brighton Arts Festival.

By an Aldissian cosmic coincidence, I missed notice of Aldiss’s death for several days, even as I was reading his ‘The Worm That Flies’ in Gardner Dozois’ 1991 Modern Classics of Science Fiction.

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