Having spread my leathery wingspan of influence all about the broad borders of the anglosphere, I think it now the highest of high times that I extend my analytical research-stick into the murky subways, night-markets and basement-cafés of Western Europe. And so, I introduce the feared and revered, the sleek and anti-Camusian, existentialist and author, activist and anti-colonialist, Marxist and long-term Beauvoirian bedfellow, the Parisian Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre, A.K.A. The Anti Camus.
So, gather your children, lock out your serfs, and put your elderly to bed. We - you, your lackeys and me, Nicolas Cage - are going to Europe.
Oftentimes, the details we most demand, when concerning the biographies of the highly successful, will go unsupplied; such details, of course, include the question of childhood privilege: how large was the pundit’s familial home? Was he upper, or upper-middle, class? Did his youth include a regular contact of some renown, or stature, or intelligence, who might have inspired or encouraged the boy to uncommon advantage? What were his mother’s and father’s mode, mean, and median yearly incomes? Sartre, we can estimate, was born from privileged stock, having himself been second cousin to a Nobel Prize winner - one Albert Schweitzer - and having had that many fucking given names. But this is not at all to speak ill of him; many of my, Nicolas Cage’s, closest acquaintances were born from privileged stock, and each of them, to the last, are in fact tremendous people, although they most probably could never stand to talk to you - you, specifically - for more than a hundred seconds or so; but who could blame them? But… Sartre’s privilege puts him at immediate odds with his contemporaries. Compare Sartre’s relatively clean genetic record to that of wastrel and blackfoot, Albert Camus (who grew up in near-poverty and whose father perished in the first world war, 1 year after Albert’s birth), or the orphan Jean Genet, homosexual, prostitute, and literal vagabond, or even Simone de Beauvoir, who, although indeed privileged, was albeit forced to make do with her condition as a 20’s female - even given her father’s encouragement: ‘Simone thinks like a man!’
Sartre’s accomplishments are, irreversibly, Sartre’s accomplishments, whether they were hard-won or not. I’m not one to praise work by the difficulty of its production. But, the question is begged: If Sartre was a rebel (as is how he stylized himself), then at whom or what did he aim his rebellion? Certainly his rebellions could not have been self-interested, he himself having borrowed his momentum from the ruling class. Or is it as Camus suggested: that Sartre was not a resister who wrote, but a writer who resisted? Who was simply too enchanted with the idea of himself as a resister to not do his earnest best to sabotage at least something? His adventures at university, at the École normale supérieure, deserve reflection. He was a prankster, a hoaxer, a Bart Simpson-Dennis the Menace-class troublemaker, which is charming until we reflect that this was in his early twenties, and that, after one of old googly-eyes’s most particularly vicious cons, his headmaster was forced to resign. Indeed, a more contemporary Sartre’s psych-profile might have read: ‘has problems with authority’, or: ‘antisocial’, or: ‘is not considerate of others’. Yes: Sartre was, in the worst sense, a contrarian. I’m going to dive right into the analytic deep end here and suggest that it is this very uncooperativeness, so essential to Sartre’s character, that led him to his - I’ll posit, however precariously (and recall that this is simply due my diving trajectory) - strange affection for communism, and for the Cuban leaders. Observe his assessment of ‘Che’ Guevara: “not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age”; “the era’s most perfect man”; “he lived his own words, spoke his own actions, and his story and the story of the world ran parallel”. I have discussed my opposition to communism before; and I will be deducting points on this account. But, perhaps that’s lazy: Sartre was more an artist than a politician; sure he might have overreached and over-dabbled in the political medium, but he ought be appraised in consideration to his art, as was his prime medium. Fine, I say; but that doesn’t ensure his grade’ll bump up; indeed, it could well drop. On the art of Jean-Paul Sartre, then:
I will ally my assessment with that of Jean Genet: Sartre was an attention-seeker and, in the art-world, fulfilled no role but that of a destructor, a receptacle for its refuse. And so I’ve been rather blunt, haven’t I? In his affection for Genet the dog, the Diogenes, of France, Sartre published the bio, Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr. This, Sartre’s romantic re-appropriation, and mutation, of Jean Genet, towards the flesh and form of the Saint-ironic, would be the zenith of Sartre’s career in simulated rebellion. What’s wrong is: Genet knew himself; and, were it that Genet had been given the advantages of Sartre, he would have used them to his peers’ oppression; but, as he would describe himself, Genet was a ‘black’, a subaltern-inherent; his was the chemical antithesis of sainthood; his was not to be good, but to grow, and, ward of a cruel state, to necessarily grow against the good, the cultural security, of the nation he hated. Of course Sartre, the wannabe rebel, loved him. But, Sartre thought order was to be overturned, whereas Genet knew that all revolutions were merely reorientations – that neither communism nor the militant-aristocrats of Cuba could save the world. And so Sartre was Genet’s destructor, was a receptacle for him, Genet, the human refuse; Sartre it was who took in a rebel and made him a saint, thus disarming his rebellion. And why? Because, as much as Sartre protests that ‘a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution’, his life’s gesture was at last nothing other than an attempt at the commodification, the institutionalization, of rebellion. A nation of irony lives in the dreamscape of Sartre’s ‘ideal world’, and in there it seats an empire. See, then, the death of the French subaltern:
In his 1964 Playboy interview with Madelein Gobel, when asked, “What did you feel while reading the book he devoted to you?” Genet responds:
'A kind of disgust – because I saw myself naked and stripped by someone other than myself. In all my books I strip myself but at the same time I disguise myself with words, choices, attitudes, magic. I take pains not to damage myself too much. Sartre stripped me without mercy. He wrote about me in the present tense. My first impulse was to burn the book.Sartre had handed me the manuscript. I finally allowed him to publish it because I've always felt compelled to be responsible for what I evoke.'
Genet would, after this, undergo a tranformative phase, out of which he would become no longer a criminal but now the paragon-imago after whom he’d been canonized, and in consideration to whom, to which imago, he’d receive a presidential pardon – as requested by Johnny P. himself, four years the earlier. Not another novel would be written – some few plays, advancing the theme of revolution-vs.-reorientation in a safe, indicative-of-futility-only, way, would be published; but only a few. Henceforth he would be an essayist, canonized, immortalized, dead. In 1948, Genet was presidentially pardoned, and in short form, thereafter, was plunged into a suicidal fugue that would last seven years, and which would be extended by an exposure to his own posthumous image, that of the Genet the Saint, in 1952. Writes Edmund White: ‘magically, through the power of his pen, he had beaten the system’, and then he quips: ‘nothing is so depressing as success’. On the contrary, he had been subsumed by the system – a kind of ironic anti-punishment for having railed too loudly against it. So of course, as I’ve been saying for some rambling time now, Genet was made to watch his own death and subsequent decomposition. And this is the monstrosity of Sartre’s art.
It was not Genet alone that would be made the victim of Sartre’s ironic homicide. But against no other would the collegiate-scalawag-cum-Nobel-Prize-refuser’s violations be so unambiguously fatal (although Camus, too, lies dead in irony’s gutter; and of course poor ignorant Ernesto Guevara never stood a chance). Too, he would make his attempts on the life of Michel Foucault, on the careers of every literally dead existentialist, on the churches and denominations of Christianity and Judaism, on the Jewish and French races, and on the very identity of ‘the suffering man’, none of which (could Jean-Paul conceive) might not belong to him. Intention merit: a slim and well-fitting, but somehow implacably offensive, 6.5/10. Practical merit: an unexpectedly – but in retrospect inevitably – dissatisfying, 3.5/10.
Practical merit: 3.5/10
Intention merit: 6.5/10
Hot from my mouth, to your ears, that’s the Cage Equation, and you were asking for it.
[trigger warning: rape, gang rape]
I just reblogged a quote and I swear I wrote a whole rant underneath it but that didn’t make it through in the post so I’m just going to right it here.
There are only a couple things I wanted to say, so I’ll try to keep this short.
First of all, how on earth…
Now, hold up there, fella. Looks to me like you’ve gotten your objective realities tangled with your subjective realities. Allow me to tease out that knot for you. Let’s toy first with the mother knot - which, I think, would be this ‘Rape - Is - Not - Funny’ mantra your lot have been so cheekily plastering on all the telegraph poles. The difficulty, you see, is that, while I, Nicolas Cage, am neither a fan of rape-based comedy, I - my titanic celebrity notwithstanding - do acknowledge that I am not the only occupant of my world (solipsists; I might ask you step away a while). Now, because of that strange fact, I’ve gotten to philosophizing (oh, only about reality, I wouldn’t dare graze that moral philosophy business), and even making a few or two conclusions. My first, that preferences, reality, and opinions are all - all of them! - different things. And the second, of course, is that, if a blind-from-birth sort-a chap were to approach me, here, in my blogging-office, and tell me, “light is not visible”, I’d say, “oh ho-ho, you blindies and your hijinks!” and, quick as cracking thunder, follow it up with, “no, you scab-ridden prole, it’s just you - you can’t see light.”
Now, of course, the blind man would be shocked at this revelation, his entire world-view shattered, and immediately agree with me. It’s with that same expectation, then, pal-ums, that I suggest, perhaps less quickly, that it’s just you - you can’t see the humour. Now, that’s not to your detriment, or your incapacity - if so, it would be to my same detriment and incapacity, and let’s not have that - no, it’s simply that your preferences are for a reality less macabre. There is nothing that, if it struts the steps, and twists in a favourable enough light, will never be funny. Neither, either, neither, do I accept the argument that its justice is lost in the poverty of its skill - there’s a good number of revolutionists out campaigning the slogan of “I get that, and if it actually were funny, I’d agree.” Hoo, boy! It almost sounds like they’re back at the same water cooler, but I take their point and I’ll not be a facetious Franny. The rebuttal is obvious - skill should not determine what you do, and do not, have the right to say.
Thanks a whole bunch for your time, fellow blogospherean - I do hope we chat again.
Catered, cosy, and always cutting-edge, that’s the Cage Kibitz, and there’s still space on the couch.
The phantom of the digital opera, divine-white locks astray, masting the Empyreal galleon of transparency, cooing the reluctant tongues of the politically impotent - he is Julian Assange, viceroy of the emancipated.
Julian Assange begun his humble career in the wild steppes of Queensland, striding Judaistically from villa to village, his mother leading him through new societies, intersecting cult and culture, birthing Assange’s brother through a representative from ‘The Family,’ making flight, and finally launching into the misty mysteries of Victorian suburbia. There, he soon realized that he, Julian, was meant for bigger things, and he became Mendax, of Horace’s ‘Splendide Mendax’ (‘the nobly untruthful’), lest anyone suspect he wasn’t academically self-absorbed. Under this lascivious name, then, he tore inquisitively through the dense chains of bitter, bitter non-transparency, afflicting his stride wherever he clicked, and scribed the emphatic codes of the criminal deep-web - do not fuck with people’s shit, and share your information with us. Who was this ‘us’, you, the soft-cocked proletariat, do ask? We may never know, I, Nicolas C. Cage, do answer. But, we must imagine - apropos of Julian’s dubbing: ‘Australia’s most ethical computer hacker’ - that they were a Robin Hood-esque band of midgets, blind people, and Klinefelter’s sufferers. Yet, alas, the tides of justice swept in, beaching police officers upon the shore of Julian’s Melbourne home, and Mendax was unmasked.
Come the pass of three years, once a paunched and bespectacled curmudgeon had recited Assange’s 31 charges, Jack Sparrow-style, and the monolithic Nortel had grown exhausted with their scrutinous mind games, Assange was acquitted on 6 counts, and charged on 25, his dewy doe-eyes letting him slip under on a $1,200AUD fine. Over the following 15 years of his life, he did pretty much nothing - may have had a kid or something - and waited until he was, in true Jesus-style, 35 before he did anything good.
Disgruntled with his Melbourne and Canberra Hochschulekameraden, Assange went rogue, founding the position of Wikileaks editor-in-chief, and, because he was goddamn foaming with arrogance, wrote this;
"We must think beyond those who have gone before us and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not."
Which, I admit, is dripping with aphorism and badassery. Now, so far, I have been a little reluctant to tug Assange under my analytic strong-arm, mainly because he’s a conspicuously apolitical character, but also because I expect his potency has been blown woefully out of proportion - he has (has he not?) been setting his inquiries to the target of other impotent publicans, likewise met with undue attentions, and their undue attentions, with all probability, have translated over to Assange. Assange, then, is not rattling the largest cages, but the squawkiest cages, his intent nobly being to shut them the fuck up. Sometimes, too, he tears the blankets off quiet cages, disconnecting the parrots from their clandestinity-stimulus, and so stymieing the stimulus-response - that is, elitism and conspiring. Are these valuable practices? Is Assange drawing from a rational and pragmatic philosophy? Yes - fucking-goddamn absolutely. I’ll get on soon to why Assange has so eagerly been sticking his dick into so many parrot cages (and whether this cage-dicking has been on the level - in the case of Sweden, especially), but now I’ll discuss his political stance.
Not quite entirely apolitical, Assange has this to say;
"It’s not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp… So as far as markets are concerned I’m a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free."
This is neo-conservativism, and I’ll discuss my approval at a later date, but it’s enough with this moment to observe that his overriding, anti-conspiracy, free-information philosophy is simply a reproduction of his original libertarian economic principle - which he calls ‘American-libertarianism’. Indeed, he is only taking the dominant philosophy of the American government, and driving it to its inevitable conclusion - in truth, he has asked little of the U.S. but intellectual self-consistency, championing the current American structure as the surest and wisest, yet incurring their fury at taking them to task for their own convictions. The philosophies of market-libertarianism and information-privatism are synchronicitous - that is, they are the offal of psychological double-thinking. Yet, America believes as painfully in ‘intellectual-property’ as it does in human liberty, and so, Assange’s 'conspiracies' take root. The new notion of conspiracy provided by Assange suggests that privileged information is more pervasive than anyone might expect, and it is more these ‘incidental secrets’ that Assange aims to uncover - that is, the kind of conspiracy someone might fall into where, although it would benefit them better to unveil the truth, they go on upholding it, trusting in the initial conspirators. Hence, you have the American military. It is the age-old conflict of bureaucratic patriotism, versus populist patriotism. Populist patriotism survives because it is cosmopolitan - come the end of ww2, they sure as fuck didn’t arrest the German populists (see: Operation Valkyrie). Opposition to Assange, we see, has sprung from American xenophobia - the terror is that Assange fights for people’s rights, and by American philosophies, yet dares level anti-American criticism. Indeed, it is not the American people, nor even the American government, whom have anything to fear of Assange, but it is their habits and institutions which Assange challenges, and seeks to dissolve.
Indeed, as Mendax put it;
"To radically shift regime behaviour we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed."
For his intellectual intrepidity, and for his unerring integrity, Assange has earned the most brightly lacquered of gold stars to date - the envied and elusive 9/10. That is, in his intention-merit. I did earlier weigh up the actual possible significance of Assange, and I wagered it ‘woefully’ exaggerated. To date - and we unfortunately cannot, in this lone celebrity’s blog, account for future events - Julian has only so far set the path for great changes. His organization, though, has set out-to-platter many a great, vast swatch of important, relevant, and subversively effective information. From the initial 5/10, he ticks up two points for this, and another half for specifically disreputing Scientology. I have decided, also, that I will not be deducting points for his Swedish rape-allegations. It is hardly pointed out in the media (a rather apposite defence of Assange’s philosophies, I do say), but the Swedish definition of ‘rape’ is far looser than any other nation’s. If one looks up the actual allegations pitted against Assange, the most damning of them is that, after a solid, consensual hour-or-so of throbbing up some plump, Swedish dame, Assange allegedly ‘rubbed his penis against her’ - that is, without acquiring written consent. … It stays at 7.5/10.
Practical merit: 7.5/10
Intention merit: 9/10
Hot from my mouth, to your ears, that’s the Cage Equation, and you were asking for it.
Golliwogs and dandelions, it’s that time again! Well, as you might recall, I, Nicolas Cage, slipped a bit of a sneaky peek of this here academic discourse into that last week’s chat we had, you and I, about how I’d patched up this here mighty testament to the perseverance of Western virtue, this ‘blog’, if you will, with the noble intention of spinning a ditty or two, and had yet left those pre-arranged ditties thoroughly under-spun, blaming the whole affair on my overwhelmingly incompetent nephew. Well, my nephew’s spoilt ingratitude, and annoying, overfed friends aside, I’ll return our discussion to that bespectacled gentlewoman so sneakily peeked at in our last address, that mentioned Madame being the innocent, the Christian, the adored and desired, our friend and teacher, the electrically eclectic Marilyn Monroe - actress, philosophess, and all around good guy.
So, round up your uncle, get your cat out of the washing machine, and rub your finger on your mouse-wheel, as I, the Cage-Mage, take to the operating table with my first ever posthumous review, and sift the pulp of popular opinion from the juice of Marilyn Monroe, her journey, her chronicle, and her legacy.
First, I think, it’s important that we defined the good Norma Jeane Mortenson; slyly become the glassy Marilyn Monroe. Was she but an image? A Joseph Goebells-esque caricature of the ideal capitalist, and American woman? Or, was hers a libertarian campaign, serving to refuel the virtue of independence, and to reignite the contrarian’s dignity? Marilyn’s commentary on her own beliefs, made in the closing of her final interview, goes as follows:
"What I really want to say: That what the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers. Please don’t make me a joke. End the interview with what I believe."
~ Copied hot from Wikipedia.
Now, while this might seem like an acutely intellectual, and radically advanced notion, it is in fact utterly redundant - there is almost no one who would have disagreed with this off-topic outburst. Really, Marilyn had all the revolutionary merit of a college kid, blazed and politicking at 3am. The cold, listless reality is that she would sooner have been scoffed at in bars and coffee houses across the nation; made a ‘joke’, even. This declaration of hers, as with her famous, “if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best”, an idea so clearly skewed by her celebrity status and neurotic psychology, mostly surmises her grand additions to Western thought. I called her a ‘philosophess’ in my rambling introduction, and I’d be offended if no one took offence to the arbitrary feminization of that word, but I’ll be both unsurprised and offended when no one takes offence to the suggestion that she was somehow a philosopher in any right. When you look to her advice on your immediate world, and on how to feel about that guy who’s always harshing on your buzz with his constructive, and incisively accurate, criticisms, you’re caught in a wave of powerful, seemingly self-evident ideas. But, in the real, middle-class world, no one can afford to believe things like this;
“When it comes down to it, I let them think what they want. If they care enough to bother with what I do, then I’m already better than them.”
In that abundant narcissism, and within that indigestible non-sequitur between “If they care”, and “I’m better than them”, we can’t fail to recall that these are the thoughts of a woman with an illicit drug-dependency, a woman who paid her way out of mental institutions, and a woman who fucking killed herself. So, how to rank this benevolent avatar of promiscuousness? Well, I like the guy. Despite what I’ve said, Monroe has some uniquely redeeming aspects, and I’ve waited until now to mention these because, well, if the correctness of these things requires any explanation, then I just don’t like you. Marilyn freely associated with members of the gay community, and with communists; this in an era where suspicion, paranoia, and McCarthy were rampant. She was likewise active in the campaign for a controlled and morally sensible nuclear policy, even securing a discussion on the subject with President Kennedy, by obvious means.
Essentially, her intention merit’s been a difficult egg to juggle, as, post-investigation, I found her downright apolitical. However, with respect to the friends she chose, and to the causes she supported, I’m letting her snuggle into a cosy and unimposing 6/10.
Coming now, finally, to the Madame’s practical merit, we’re no longer asking who she was, but asking what she did. What did she do for you, for me, for America, and for the world? Well, she was an actress, a model, a singer, a sex symbol, and, yes, an example of social propagandism. She effectively perpetuated a shame culture, arguing for the ridicule of introverts, and childishly glorifying the traits of ‘bitchiness’, melancholia, and corset-strangled waistlines. People like her, no matter their willingness, do not benefit the world, and almost exclusively decay it. She’s due an unfortunate tumble down the bum-littered back annals of negative-meritia, district 3/10.
Practical merit: 3/10
Intention merit: 6/10
Hot from my mouth, to your ears, that’s the Cage Equation, and you were asking for it.
Alright. Groovy. If you read my earlier article on the Duke-Prince of Canada, you probably spotted me, Nicolas Cage, getting all hot and vaporous about the royal family. I didn’t explicitly mention Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (1926-still fucking alive), but I promise you that my feelings for her were similarly tropical.
Essentially, I have only one complaint about these figurehead-families, so proudly descended from the dictators of yore, and that’s their enormous irrelevance. Not to assume that it’s at all adequate to say ‘it’s out-dated’, but, yeah, the concept of royalty, as with the concept of monarchy, has no place in our modern age. It is a blatant anachronism. Why, then, is it so continually pervasive through so much of the world’s political and cultural tradition? For the same reason that it’s a terrible idea; the monarchy breeds stagnation. What is English culture? English culture is the diluted habits of the royal family. To whom does the outside world look when they think of England, but to those lasting symptoms of the island which once spawned the East India Co., and upon whom the sun never set?
Weak, non-British comedies recurrently have their bumbling, American protagonists stumbling into conflict with the Queen herself - it is inevitable, it seems, that a confrontation with British culture shall be a confrontation with the royal family. It is generally understood that the world is evolving, that even the sky is getting closer, and that some sort of change, if we could only, for the life of us, figure out what the fuck that might be, is inevitably due. Yet, the world sees Britain as caught in a kind of time loop, wherein everyone is still white, and the buildings are wrought exclusively from cobblestones. This is because they see the nation through the filter of its monarchs, who are indeed caught in a time loop.
But, it’s not at all sufficient to talk of the external world. Where are we to see some truth to this apparent stagnation, as might underlie the foreign image? In asking this question, though, you misunderstand. It’s not that the royal family has any actual power to delay Britain’s evolution; merely that it leaves her without the means to accommodate the inevitable, and very current, storm of the cosmopolitan shift. It is in Britain that we see the West’s most stringent notions of propriety. White Britain seems to believe in an absolute reality as far as social correctness and manners are concerned. There is, of course, respect for other cultures and the mores therein, but so often these are seen as ‘the other’ and as consequently inaccessible. This ‘objective propriety’, then, incites one of two reactions; either that it should be followed, or that it should be rejected, and rejected in favour of no standing alternative. The British are then left with a sort of extended adolescence, wherein they must invent their own culture, and their own identity, or they must go completely without.
It is only in monarchic societies that a person must make a selection between cultural conservativism, and signing on with the counter culture. This trend will infect a people’s beliefs, their ideologies, and their allegiances. The ignition of social hostilities is completely inescapable. I don’t know enough to understand which cogs had to jam before the London riots could spark, but it’s the explanation I’ve just given that would surprise me the least.
Always fresh, always juicy, that’s the Nicky C. Position, and you know you want to try it.