muted tones

march 06

war is a force that gives us meaning
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Chicago's Neil Jendon, performs on laptop and guitar and is one-half of Reliable Sound Products, with David McKenzie. Hear his work at Stasisfield.

curator log:

War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

april 05th, 2006

Thank you very much to Joshua, Mike and the good people of Tenseforms for providing a home for this.

The title is from a book by Chris Hodges. Source video is from “Le Vampires” and the usual internet places.

The audio started out as my guitar playing but got progressively worse the more I messed with it. I had some illusion that I’d lay this fingerstyle-mind-blowing-open-tuning bomb on the world, but then I listened to the playback.

Also: Norman Solomon: War Made Easy, Klaus Theweleit: Male Fantasies.

The U.S. Government has spent $1.62 billion dollars in PR to convince the American people that the war in Iraq was the right thing to do, that it’s going well, and that America is a safer place now. Long after the shooting war is over, forces will continue to fight this war in a comprehensive effort to control and shape the narrative.

If Viet Nam was the television war, Iraq II is the XBox war. It is a product of deep market research and the flashiest technology. The violence is not hidden, but it’s causes and consequences are. Embedded reporters bring us first-person views of chaos and panic, but there’s no analysis. Death is arbitrary, brought on by foes whose motivations are as inhuman and inscrutable as a million lines of source code. Understanding and fixing such matters are best left to experts. In the meantime, keep shooting and running.

In the end, rest assured that there will be memorials honoring the war’s heros and victims. It will be known as the Wrong War for the Right Reasons, or some other bit of verbal whitewash that encapsulates what we want to believe but fails to convey any truth.

There will be no statue honoring the people who spoke out against the war before it even started. There’s a Nobel Peace Prize, but there isn’t much reward for “I told you so.” So there will be no statue in Washington D.C. for Representative Barbara Lee of California, the lone dissenting vote on a resolution to grant the president unlimited authority to wage his war on terror. Nor will there ever be a statue for Dennis Kucinich, seemingly the only person in D.C. to notice that President Clinton had broken the law in ordering the continued bombing of Serbia. Nor will Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening, the only two senators to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, get the monument they deserve.

ruled by mental illness

april 01st, 2006

This gem appeared in the entertainment (?) section of the LA Daily News. It’s from an interview with Sergeant Major Eric Haney (ret.) from the U.S. Army’s Delta Force.

Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney …

A: (Interrupting) That’s Cheney’s pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It’s about vengeance, it’s about revenge, or it’s about cover-up. You don’t gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It’s worse than small-minded, and look what it does.

In other news, my piece is finished. It is a 10 minute video titled “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.” I’m burning it to disc as I type, and I will drop it off with Josh this weekend.

the war is here

march 23rd, 2006

After WWI, several private anti-communist armies later collectively known as the Freikorps sprung up throughout Germany. They were vigilantes and murderers, but they killed mostly Bolsheviks, so in the years leading up to WWII, the Freikorps were made into heros. They even spawned their own genre of self-glorifying fiction, mostly written by former commanders, including Joseph Goebbels. The image in this post is a cover from one such novel.

The female characters in these novels are rarely given names, but they fall into three classes: mothers, sisters, and whores. The mothers and sisters are left to grieve from a distance. Any woman who compromises that distance falls into the third category and will meet a bloody, dehumanizing end.

The Freikorps novel’s leitmotif is the annihilation of impure women. A grenade or a hail of gunfire renders the woman’s body into a “red heap” that “no longer looked human.” Nurses (despite the benevolence of their calling are all suspected of sinister desires) are repeatedly found dead in the bushes as the result of an “unlucky grenade,” in the midst of “practicing her true profession” with a soldier who had fallen to her charms. Some women die noble deaths, some, not so noble, but in the end, there is little distinction between the wanton prostitute and the rape victim. Whether her chasteness is sold or stolen, it’s unrecoverable, and her fate is sealed. The authors took special pleasure in describing the gory details.

With that in mind, here’s a quote from South Dakota State Senator Bill Napoli. As a supporter of the recent SD abortion ban that outlaws abortions for victims of rape and incest, he insists that exceptions can be made. In his own words, here’s one such exception:

“A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. One more from the mind of Bill Napoli:

“When I was growing up here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married, and the whole darned neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn’t allow that sort of thing to happen, you know? I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again.”

In Napoli’s moral algebra, the out-of-wedlock child is an opportunity for the whore to become the mother, enter the rank of sufferers and end her time as the cause of all suffering. Why, what woman wouldn’t want such transcendence? Of course, the community is right behind you.

Meanwhile, in the recent film V for Vendetta, Natalie Portman’s character is abducted, tortured, and then symbolically mutilated and defeminized with the radical clearcutting of her hair, a la Joan of Arc. The best part, all that is at the hand of the hero.

Why is the feminine so loathed? Why are we at war? If you can answer the first question, you will be a long ways towards the answer to the second.

I should have written sooner

march 22nd, 2006

I’m so lame. The month is almost over, and I haven’t written a jot. Shame on me.

I haven’t shirked all my duties. Work is progressing at a spastic, stop-start pace. Most of it happens late at night, hunched over my powerbook and watching late night TV with one eye. Despite that, things are moving right along.

I feel compelled to two awful things: talking about how the music is made (which is like a guitar solo; tedious and boring dweedle-dweedle to everyone except the guy playing it), or talking about what the music is about, which is an uncomfortable subject that I don’t give a lot of thought to.

So to the first, briefly: layers. Lots and lots of layers to the point of pointless.

So to the second: the war. But then what isn’t about the war? The question: Why make art about the war? Buying gas at $3.00 a gallon is an act every bit as informed by the war as anything I can do on guitar and computer. I have no special insights and can only repeat what so many others have said: End it.

I’ll do my damned to get to the bottom of this.

thanks for reading,


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