Monday, October 24, 2005

The World of Children

Interesting article about Al-Qaeda via

Al-Qaeda is a network of punks and spoiled brats.

Not unlike our own government here.

See, I've talked about the depiction of children on film--my sort of obsession with kids who are acting on film but not acting because kids don't have the idea of acting in their heads completely grasped because it is such an abstract concept. Except a lot of kids "know" what acting is even if they couldn't philosophize about it. And there's definitely a lot of kids who COULD EVEN philosophize about the idea of acting. So there. But take moments from Cassavettes "Woman Under the Influence;" the kids act the scenes but the line between acting and reacting is blurred. I'm confusing myself. I would usually keep this stuff to myself. But the internet connection is going strong. Kids. Damn those kids. We hate them. They're little people without so many ideas and they just go wild and yell. And sometimes they're pensive. What could their little minds be thinking about? It's like looking at a dog and it's looking at you and you're wondering what the hell is the dog thinking? Is it just pure instinct? Is it wondering if I want to eat it or kick it? Is it trying to figure out I'm a female dog so it can fuck me? Is it just panting until it finally gets to take a shit? It's got to be more than when I look at a goldfish. A goldfish has never looked at me. But dogs look at me. Children are like dogs but much much weirder. They are just like people. Kids are just like human beings. They talk but they're stupid. Not like stupid people, but stupid in a kid way. They're cool too. Dogs are cool. They bark and run around and they let you scratch their ears. Kids find stupid things funny. They know almost as much as adults, except they don't care to hide their emotions--though they CAN hide their emotions.

The Erik Satie album is mostly good. Some of it is definitely prototypical post-minimal spiritualism for salons.

Now I'm listening to Olivier Messiaen, Vingt Regards Sur L'Enfant-Jesus--it's a 2-disc piano work. It's great so far. Definitely prototypical post-minimal spiritualism for living rooms.


Anthony C said...

Brief thoughts on article:

In the beginning at least, Bin Laden initially was consistent about the reasons why Al-Q was necessary. Since,(for some time)he seems now to use whatever is convenient to push "the cause", which of course has lost meaning but is still significant for him at least to increase the forward momentum (if there is any.)I feel foolish for not having given greater consideration to the fact that Al-Q really has no ideological centrality, and instead represents a collection of disparate "theoretical"(?)influences, (not to geek it out, but Foucault of course understands all power relations in society as lacking centrality too.)

Nearly every action has an ethical implication, certainly social movements do, so I don't understand why he implies that the terrorist phenomenon is uniquely(?) moral. Did I read the article carelessly? Even if terrorism had a clearly outlined and agreed upon agenda, it would be no less moral, as far as I can tell.

"The passion of the holy warrior emerges...not from a personal experience of oppression but from observing the oppression of others", and "pissed off posh kids". I can understand what he means, but I think the author may need a reminder of the significance of the fact that these kids are willing to DIE for the cause. Why would a young person kill themselves if they didn't, in some sense, possess an "experience" (misunderstood or not)of oppression (at least perceived)? And I don't accept superstition and belief in reward in paradise as an answer: I don't see passionate and pious anti-abortionists killing themselves for paradise here. So I conclude that they kill themselves because they feel life is hopeless, or they are angry (if impressionable) or feel oppressed, or whatever, and this certainly is an "experience" of some kind. And they do not "emerge from the same source as the anti-war protester": I am as vehement an anti-war protester as any I know, and I'll tell you now I would never kill myself for the cause. No American does. So I think he disregards important distinctions, and blurs lines that shouldn't be. But of course, I think we need to re-evaluate the situation, and perhaps stop providing explanations (that in the end only serve as justification) for why things are as they are.

O.k., I guess that wasn't brief but Im too tired to shorten or correct, my regards...

erroneous monk said...

I would have to agree that willingness to die for a cause is, like it or not, a fairly serious thing.

And, unfortunately, my understanding of history, small though it may be, makes me think that the statement,

"Such views wilfully overlook the fact that al-Qaeda is mostly made up of pissed-off posh kids who spend their days fantasising about jihad in chatrooms on the world wide web and occasionally muster up enough nerve to strap a homemade bomb to themselves and murder some civilians. History is not normally made by such individuals."

seem a little ridiculous. History is made by fools and assholes of every variety. Especially the ones who will kill or die for their own fucked notions of right or wrong. I mean, who else makes history? What sort of history are we talking about?

If calm and meditative people with mature outlooks on the world made history, there would be far less genocides, slaveries, and wars on the books.

And, history is full of that shit.

sarcasmus said...

The only thing is is that suicide is such a huge part of life already. It is the most un-inspected, under-reported aspect of our lives. Newspapers don't report teenage suicides for fear of epidemics of suicides. How many kids did you know who killed themselves growing up? I can think of at least three, and I heard of many more. How many tried? I have no idea.
No, so I respectfully disagree, guys. Bin Laden hasn't killed himself for his cause. I agree it would be out of character for him to kill himself for the cause. But not out of character to exploit emotional angst of pent-up 20-something would-be self-exploders. (And we're talking about emotional maturity here. As a side note, my iron maiden-listening roommate is actually listening to The Strokes right now.)
Hell, think about it. Growing up in Palestine. Your freedoms are gradually reducing. You can't go to the bar. What else is there to do on a Saturday night?

sarcasmus said...

Well, upon further thought (now my roommate is listening to a Ska version of Aha's Take on Me. It literally the only nouveau ska song I've ever heard that is at all decent--yeah roommate!) I don't disagree with you guys at all. The article went too far. But I do think it could be argued that any of those terrorists have punk attitude. But in the same way that punk inspired U2. I mean, U2 took punk to such a global-significant scale--and it's just SO wrong. U2 is the AL-Qaeda of music (Bono, after all, probably funds the IRA! There're punks. Johnny Rotten got a lot of milage out of his Irish heritage too!) So, all those guys who flew planes into the world trade centers were punks--but only punks in the same way that U2 are punks.

Amelia said...

I think there are two large aspects of the human psyche that the author of the article tries to sweep under the rug far too nonchalantly. The first being the will to survive in a basic sense. As the prior commenters have pointed out, the fact that you are willing to die for a cause, no matter what that cause may be, points to some fairly REAL commitment to something.

The second aspect is that humans all want SOMETHING. Okay, maybe not all humans. Sometimes humans get really depressed and they don’t want anything, but then these depressed people usually don’t go join radical terrorist organizations.

At the beginning of the Article the author asks, “Ask yourself the question: what the hell does Osama bin Laden want?” and he then seems to answer that question by saying that Osama doesn’t want anything besides a long, endless journey of jihad that Osama believes to be the correct religious path.

This is crap.

To orient oneself, let alone an entire terrorist network, around the goal of endless and, perhaps, fruitless jihad seems impossible. Human beings want results, that is why we act. According to the author the posh kids who trivially blow themselves up because of a few chat room sessions don’t really WANT anything. Hmmm…

I like the intention of this article and the book it references in that I do believe that a new paradigm is needed to understand al-Qaeda but I do not know if these authors are aware what they are sacrificing for their brave new understanding.

P.S. – Interesting observations about children Sarcasmus. I think in a few short months we will have to put your theories to the test. Methinks the children we casually observe are probably radically different from the children that are a larger force in our lives. ;-)

sarcasmus said...

Yes...the children thing will be interesting to see in real life. I know it will be totally different than owning a dog. Other people's children sure seem like dogs.

And, as illuminating as all of this discussion has been, no one has explained to me why U2 is so popular to me yet.

Oh...and I have to retract something. Apparently Bono IS NOT a supporter of the IRA. Jason Irwin tells me that I was confusing him with Richard Harris.

But I STILL contend that U2 is the Al-Qaeda of music. Stockhausen's comments about the WTC notwithstanding.

Amelia said...

Yes, children are not dogs, but you can still put them on a leash ( However, as you reminded me on that fateful evening in Santa Barbara, "It's not like getting a puppy you know!"

Heh, heh...soooo, I was keeping this under wraps until I have a more interesting post, but I have started a blog for and about the impending arrival:

Finally, U2 is popular because they are Irish. Just like some things are unpopular because they are Finnish. Nationalism may be dying but cultural aderence will never! :-)