Friday, June 03, 2005

 

Communiqué #19

Comrades! The sale of our secret underground headquarters complex has been finalised, and the move to an above-ground headquarters in Cheltenham is imminent. This is a forward step for our great movement, and was democratically agreed by an overwhelming majority of our loyal cadres.

Not only is the new headquarters ant-free, but we are in a much better position to monitor the activity of the establishment listening-post, GCHQ, which is also based in Cheltenham. Our many deep cover double-agents in the kittenite oppressor's nerve-centre can now pop in for a savoury snack at lunchtime, so our power to strike will be enhanced over a tasty meal.

A further advantage is that we no longer have facilities in-house for publishing our periodicals of revolutionary news and recipes. For this, we will now rely on kitten-controlled commercial operations, turning the expensive, high-tech facilities of the oppressors against them.

Once our new HQ is operational, the great day will be at hand! Extremists, rejoice!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

 

Theory Corner #3

Leo Strauss suggested that almost all published political philosophy was written on two levels, an exoteric one providing a 'safe' reading, and an esoteric one, where the explosive, society-threatening truths were concealed from all but 'those who know'. Nowhere is this more true than in the work of the radical nineteenth-century philosopher, Edward Lear. One of his most popular (and certainly most subversive) works is 'The Pobble Who Has No Toes'. Following Adorno, we present an immanent critique of this fiery indictment of the pudding-mediated kittenite distopia in which Lear worked, and which is, if anything, even more relevant to our own time.

The Pobble Who Has No Toes

Even the title is telling - not 'who had no toes', but who has no toes. A clear indication that the Pobble is an allegorical figure, standing for a type; a type which will persist unless the masses of humanity attain consciousness of their 'toe-less' condition and the reason for that condition.

The Pobble who has no toes
Had once as many as we;


The Pobble is introduced as an 'everyman', and the dark, brooding tone of the whole poem is created at the outset by the introduction of the concept of loss.

When they said, 'Some day you may lose them all;'--
He replied, -- 'Fish fiddle de-dee!'


The Pobble's seemingly carefree attitude in fact warns us that the masses cannot become a self-liberating force without theorising their condition.
But his response, at a deep level, is far from nonsensical - the hidden mechanism of the Pobble's oppression is (unconsciously) anticipated by the word 'fish'.

And his Aunt Jobiska made him drink,
Lavender water tinged with pink,


The immediate oppressor-figure is introduced as a coercive agent - prescribing a futile 'diet' (i.e. political programme) without the possibility of democratic input from the Pobble.

For she said, 'The World in general knows
There's nothing so good for a Pobble's toes!'


The appeal to the ruling ideology is (of course) not on the basis of reason, but as a belief 'the World in general knows' - but the 'World' is the ideological world-view of the established order. Of course, this is presented as being in the Pobble's own interest.

The Pobble who has no toes,
Swam across the Bristol Channel;


Despairing of the slow land route around the Severn Estuary, the Pobble wishes naively to proceed in a straight line to his goal. Of course, without working for the emergence of class-consciousness among the oppressed Pobbles (the land route), individual leaps can only be counter-productive. The Pobble, without rigorous theory, ignores this truth, and his fate is sealed.

But before he set out he wrapped his nose,
In a piece of scarlet flannel.
For his Aunt Jobiska said, 'No harm
'Can come to his toes if his nose is warm;
'And it's perfectly known that a Pobble's toes
'Are safe, -- provided he minds his nose.'


Still posing as the Pobble's friend, the oppressor places strictures even on his doomed attempt at self-liberation. The theme that the oppressor will always offer the most contrary advice in any situation is shown by her attention to precisely the opposite end of the Pobble's body from the direction in which the attack will come.

The Pobble swam fast and well
And when boats or ships came near him
He tinkedly-binkledy-winkled a bell
So that all the world could hear him.


The poem is about to reach a nadir of bleak despair, and to heighten the reader's sympathy, Lear here emphasises the Pobble's strength, skill, honesty and justifiable pride in his emancipatory quest.

And all the Sailors and Admirals cried,
When they saw him nearing the further side,--
'He has gone to fish, for his Aunt Jobiska's
'Runcible Cat with crimson whiskers!'


The futility of the Pobble's misguided but revolutionary aim is doubly mocked here - we already know he will never reach the other side, and by his premature action, the sailors - his class allies - are brought into alignment with the functionaries of oppression - Admirals and Aunts, and their reactionary ideology. The mask has finally slipped from Aunt Jobiska's initially puzzling 'co-operation' with his project - she hopes to gain fish from the Pobble's wish for liberty, in order to ingratiate herself with the ultimate source of his misery - needless to say, a kitten.
This is possibly the darkest moment in western literature.

But before he touched the shore,
The shore of the Bristol Channel,
A sea-green Porpoise carried away
His wrapper of scarlet flannel.


Edward Lear here covers his tracks - after the searing indictment of the last verse, he obfuscates the true cause of the Pobble's immiseration, and invents an obviously absurd explanation of his defeat. The sea-green porpoise appears nowhere else in the poem, and by being the same colour as (and thus indistinguishable from) the natural medium of the water, is subtly signed by Lear as a mere ruse. The porpoise is invisible, because there is no porpoise - and none is needed.

And when he came to observe his feet
Formerly garnished with toes so neat
His face at once became forlorn
On perceiving that all his toes were gone!


What, to the establishment system that Lear is subverting, is a mere 'garnish', is an integral part of the Pobble. The brutality of Aunt Jobiska's greed is made plain. The totality of his defeat is clear from the loss of all ten toes.

And nobody ever knew
From that dark day to the present,
Whoso had taken the Pobble's toes,
In a manner so far from pleasant.
Whether the shrimps or crawfish grey,
Or crafty Mermaids stole them away --
Nobody knew; and nobody knows
How the Pobble was robbed of his twice five toes!


Again, Lear makes the surface reading acceptable to the establishment, while leaving the alert reader certain where the guilt lies. The understatement of the phrase 'so far from pleasant' is a dialectical condemnation of the system's inherent and maximal brutality, and the suggested agents - deliberately implausible ones - reinforce the knowledge of the culpability of the kittens for whom the system, as we have already learned, is run.

The Pobble who has no toes
Was placed in a friendly Bark,


A spark of hope relieves the otherwise unremittingly bleak mood of the poem by celebrating class solidarity of sailors and Pobbles, our hero's life is saved - but at terrible cost.

And they rowed him back, and carried him up,
To his Aunt Jobiska's Park.


The Pobble is now back at the place he started from - the oppressive Aunt's luxurious mansion, but he has suffered both defeat and mutilation.

And she made him a feast at his earnest wish
Of eggs and buttercups fried with fish;--
And she said,-- 'It's a fact the whole world knows,
'That Pobbles are happier without their toes.'


The ruling ideology, because it is a non-ideology whose only function is to perpetuate the exploitation of the masses, is infinitely flexible, and the Pobble is propagandised into deeper alienation. The very suffering that the system has imposed upon him is now hailed as a benefit to him, and he is no closer to a genuine understanding of the correct revolutionary position (quite the reverse! He has bought into the fetishisation of fish, which he nevertheless cannot obtain - clearly, his egg-and-buttercup repast has merely been prepared in a frying-pan once used for fish). Finally, the system of oppression is as solid as ever - only scapegoats such as shrimps, porpoises, and even mermaids have been introduced into the epistemic frame, and Lear leaves us with the knowledge that the Pobble's subjugated condition has been profoundly reinforced.

The poem, dismissed by the establishment as nonsense, is in fact an important warning for all revolutionaries.

Friday, May 27, 2005

 

Revolutionary Praxis #6

Comrades! Ex-comrades! Quasi-comrades! Our mighty movement, although destined for historic victory, has yet to decisively overthrow the oppressors. In part, this is due to the sectarian nature of many of the other groups who purport to share our savoury ideology. In part, it is due to our rigorous and unsparing commitment, which is undeniably off-putting to some wavering dilettantes. The effect, however, is to strengthen the forces of kittenite reaction, and to divide our own. Therefore, the Central Committee of the APL/SSPK has voted (7 votes to 6, 5 abstentions) to issue a call for unity.

Join forces with us! We will overlook your weaknesses and idiosyncracies (providing that they are not objectively counter-revolutionary, obviously). We will hammer out a common ideological line in open debate, correcting your faulty reasoning, and helping you discard whatever shibboleths prevent your wholehearted participation in our glorious movement. (NB - we reject the possibility of co-operation with the dastardly Richard and his pair of unscrupulous henchpeople. Their kitten-neutral agenda is at odds with the interests of the masses).

Comrades! March with us under the banner of the APL/SSPK, for the greater good of humanity. Unity! (And courage!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

 

Communiqué #18

Comrades! The Central Committee has discovered an invaluable fact about tomatoes, and how to judge their quality before buying them. Our savoury research laboratories work night and day for the glorious cause!

If the tomatoes are flavoursome, the dried green leafy bit at the top will smell pungent and spiky. If it does not smell like this, the tomatoes are not that tasty. (The smell of dry tomato leaves is the Central Committee's favourite smell, by 12 votes to 5, 1 abstention). Does anyone know if you can use tomato leaves as a herb?

The most revolutionary dishes require the tastiest tomatoes! Courage!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

 

Operational Order #5

Comrades! A mortar and pestle is essential for any revolutionary kitchen, to crush herbs and garlic. Here are some tips regarding mortars and pestles.
The mortar (the container) should be made of a heavy material - wooden ones are too light and scoot about when you are using them, possibly spilling your herbs. The surface should be rough, not smooth, for easier grinding. Unglazed ceramic is the best in terms of weight and surface texture.
Add salt to the dry herbs in the mortar when grinding. It helps by providing sharp grains in among the herbs. Use your mortar and pestle for garlic, too. Those garlic presses are irritating to wash up.
Our day is at hand!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

 

Revolutionary Praxis #5

Comrades! The place of revolutionary theory in the movement as a whole is a vital one.

The fact that certain comrades have chosen to carry on the struggle by means of abstract, and to some, unintelligible theorisation, cannot be read as a criticism of the day-to-day work of the more pragmatic and effective activists. As the engagement with the sugar-saturated masses intensifies, we respond with the most appropriate revolutionary tactics, and this may appear to conflict with theoretical positions dreamed up in other contexts.

No such conflict exists! The Central Committee is unanimous. Courage! And loyalty!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

 

Theory Cornner #2

What is a recipe, today? I shall give at the outset a first, very simple answer, which is perfectly consistent with etymology: a recipe is a type of speech.

Of course, it is not any type: language needs special conditions in order to become a recipe: we shall see them in a minute. But what must be firmly established at the start is that recipes form a system of communication. This allows one to perceive that a recipe cannot possibly be an object, a concept, or an idea; it is a mode of signification, a form. Later, we shall have to assign to this form historical limits, conditions of use, and reintroduce society into it: we must nevertheless first describe it as a form.

Recipes are not defined by the object of their message, but by the way in which they utter this message: there are formal limits to recipes, there are no 'substantial' ones. Everything, then, can be a recipe? Yes, I believe this, for the universe is infinitely fertile in suggestions. Every object in the world can pass from a closed, silent existence to an oral state, open to appropriation by society, for there is no law, whether natural or not, which forbids talking about things. A tree is a tree.

Naturally, everything is not expressed at the same time: some objects become the prey of recipical speech for a while, then they disappear, others take their place and attain the status of recipe. Are there objects which are inevitably a source of suggestiveness, as Baudelaire suggested about Woman? Certainly not: one can conceive of very ancient recipes, but there are no eternal ones; for it is human history which converts reality into speech, and it alone rules the life and the death of recipical language. Ancient or not, recipology can only have an historical foundation, for a recipe is a type of speech chosen by history: it cannot possibly evolve from the 'nature' of things.

Recipical speech is made of a material which has already been worked on so as to make it suitable for communication: it is because all the materials of recipe (whether pictorial or written) presuppose a signifying consciousness, that one can reason about them while discounting their substance. This substance is not unimportant: pictures, to be sure, are more imperative than writing, they impose meaning at one stroke, without analyzing or diluting it. But this is no longer a constitutive difference. Pictures become a kind of writing as soon as they are meaningful.

This does not mean that one must treat recipes like language; recipes in fact belong to the province of a general science, coextensive with linguistics, which is semiology.

Monday, May 16, 2005

 

Communiqué #17

Revolutionaries! Richard's micro-sect, the Savoury Nutrition Commando Brigade has evidently copied part of the mailing list of our many loyal cadres, and has sent a bitter, whiny email exhorting them to join his ludicrous group. We will not even dignify this pathetic missive with the savoury name of 'spam'.

The minimalist, pinched manifesto contained in the email had clearly been 'democratically' composed solely by Richard, highlighting the many bees in his bonnet which have not yet been caught and eaten. It made no reference to kittens or puppies, and, ridiculously, finished with a recipe for his much-vaunted but little-eaten Black Beetle Bake. Having been expelled from our ideologically committed movement, a swing towards populism was to be expected, but it appears that Richard cannot even get that right.

Richard! Your silly groupuscule would grow a lot faster if you enrolled the beetles, rather than eating them! We confidently predict that the SNCB will remain less than the sum of its pratts.

Steadfastness! And loyalty!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

 

Revolutionary Praxis #4

Comrades! The ants in our headquarters are becoming increasingly cunning. Now that our foodstuffs are stored in plastic containers, they are less visible. But they are still there! They somehow managed to infiltrate a packet of Mini Cheddars, of which the Central Committee consumed half before noticing the interlopers.

There are lessons to learn from this, comrades! Firstly, the steely determination of the ants in raiding our savouries, shows clearly that our savoury revolutionary agitprop is even affecting these small insects, through their close (but unwelcome) association with our cause.

Secondly, the duplicity of these tiny foes in striking at a cheese-flavoured target, despite their dislike of real cheese, shows that we must take nothing for granted, and be on the alert for counter-revolutionary activity from unexpected directions.

Vigilance!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

 

Communiqué #16

Citizens of the world! You may believe, wrongly, that the existing order is too powerful and well-entrenched to be overthrown, even by the most determined revolutionaries. Quite the opposite is true!

The current oppressive system is like a giant meringue. It appears solid and hard, but it is hollow! Its structure is brittle, and it has almost no mass! The masses are rallying to us.

Come the glorious day, the exploitative meringue of centuries will be shattered into a million pieces, which we will sweep away! We will then dispose of the pieces ruthlessly, to prevent the ants of counter-revolution taking the sugary remnants of the old order back to their nest to nourish opposition to our savoury new world.

Courage!

Friday, May 13, 2005

 

Communiqué #15

Citizens of the world! The increasing threat that the APL/SSPK poses to the existing order is demonstrated by the frantic black propaganda being put out by the kittenite establishment. Ignore them!

For the nth time, we re-iterate that the allegations of illicit trading in sunflower oil are merely a fabrication designed to thrust a dagger into the heart of the revolutionary leadership. At no time has any member of the Central Committee bought, sold, or rubbed themselves (or others) with sunflower oil (or any other cooking oil, embargoed or not). Whether any of the influential people who secretly support us, and have donated to our cause, have any involvement in the sunflower oil industry is of no concern or relevance to us. Loyalty! The Central Committee is imponderably wise! Courage!

Repeating the palpably false charges put about by our foes will only serve to allow us to set one element of the System against another, through wily use of the libel courts. You have been warned!

Rely on this website alone for the truth about the global kitten conspiracy! Our foes' imminent collapse is imminent! Our time is at hand! We are extremists!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

 

Communiqué #14

Excellent news, Comrades! Because of the fantastic growth of our movement over the last few years, we are now in a position to take on a full-time political theoretician. Courage! (And a dictionary!)

Welcome aboard, egghead Comrade Dee Turner!

 

Test #1

Test message! Please ignore! Courage!

 

Theory Corner #1

In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of recipes. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a cookery book.

The puddings detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream in which the unity of that life can no longer be recovered. Fragmented views of reality regroup themselves into a new unity as a separate pseudo-world that can only be sniffed. The specialisation of puddings of the world evolves into a world of autonomized puddings where even the deceivers are deceived. The recipe is a concrete inversion of life, an autonomous movement of the non-living.

The recipe presents itself simultaneously as society itself, as a part of society, and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is the focal point of all vision and all consciousness. But due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is in reality the domain of delusion and false consciousness: the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of universal separation.

The recipe is not a collection of ingredients; it is a social relation between people that is mediated by puddings.

The recipe cannot be understood as a mere visual deception produced by mass-media technologies. It is a world-view that has actually been materialized, a view of a world that has become objective.

As Comrade Yundt would say, 'Courage!'

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

 

Communiqué #13

Citizens of the world! The frantic projection of normality by the kitten - puppy -pudding axis controlling the media merely shows their fear of our massing forces. The inherent contradictions of our pudding-saturated societies are bursting the veil of sugary stupor, and the masses are rallying to our revolutionary cause! Our agents are poised to direct the gravy-loving masses towards a free and savoury future.

The soporific effects of kittens and trifles are increasingly unable to dispel the malaise caused by pudding-mediated forms of social organisation. We are on the cusp of revolution! Forwards! Courage!

The Central Committee will provide communiqués to guide the desperate masses when the time comes! It is imminent! Vigilance!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

 

Revolutionary Praxis #3

Revolutionaries! Our one-time fellow traveller, ex-Comrade Treacly, has gone so far as to endorse liberal application of custard recently, as is well known. This is clearly the result of mental imbalance, and all comrades will dismiss such ill-advised vacillation as the sad product of his illness. However, before his collapse into puddingite reaction he made a different point at last summer's conference. The stance he took then appeared much more reasonable on the surface, and has seduced some less-careful comrades into an erroneous position on jams and marmalades, as the recent confusion over plum jam demonstrates. For this reason it is worth rebutting Treacly's 'July Theses' in some detail.

The main point of his rambling address was that there are great differences between jams and marmalades, and that the movement, if it is to forge links with activists in this area, should concentrate on the manufacturers of the bitterest Seville marmalade only. Needless to say, Treacly's family background is of precisely this type, and it is worth remembering that this is one of the least popular types of conserve.

This ignores the reality on the ground - for revolutionary purposes, a broad appeal to the masses is essential, and we are achieving this with our uniform approach to conserve-makers of all sorts. The argument that those primarily concerned with, say, sweet strawberry jam are precisely the least ideologically sound of our new cohorts because of an inherent sweet tooth, is simply not borne out in fact. We reject it! We have compromised none of our essential principles, and activists from our tradition and from the organised jam-makers of the Women's Institute have worked together with spectacular success.

Of course, this has been achieved without alienating the marmalade-ites, whose supposed further marginalisation by the jam makers as a result of our policy is an unsubstantiated myth. We reject this, too! Further, our approach does nothing to discourage those drawn into activism through the struggle against puppies and kittens. Once again, the policy of the Central Committee have proved to be wise and effective, and our critics have only succeeded in drawing ridicule down upon themselves.

Trust the Central Committee! Courage!

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