Naked Punch Magazine is looking better every quarter, I must say (they even have a very decent new blog!). Warm welcomes all around. From some of the front matter, here is a funny bit by Nadim Samman in the latest issue:
Nietzsche rightly points out that 'what makes people rebel against suffering is not suffering itself, but the senselessness of suffering'. If suffering is given a 'sense', or justification, then it is easier to bear–and may even be sought out–provided that the justification is powerful enough. Our mustachioed friend claimed that 'early man' invented gods to perform this function. The gods acted as 'divine audience' or witnesses to the spectacle of mankind's torments, redeeming them through their regard. What is the Curriculum Vitae if not a secular god, bearing witness to the misery of the Intern?...
I plead with you, recognize the will to power–the pseudo-employer's 'sense of function'–in the exhortations 'It'll be good for your career', 'It'll be good for your CV', and 'It'll be good experience'. Remember that an exhortation is not the same as promise, or a contract. Beware! Such exhortations are calculated appeals to vanity.
...the Intern should be characterized as someone undergoing internment–detention. By detention I mean separation from 'good' where you are. In the realm of pseudo-employment 'good' is elsewhere; deferred. Such is the ascetic–life-denying, career-denying–principle of work experience...
If you must suffer, let your 'good' elsewhere be something other than a list–mere sheets of paper. Let your 'divine audience' reflect your deepest sense of function.
The focus of the issue, as
you can see, is on Latin
America (yes, that's a discreet pointer to Jon's new
project), with an added dossier on contemporary Lebanese art, and a
precise, realistic and responsible
statement of solidarity with the people of Lebanon). This opening
from Fernando Coronil I found particularly striking (and it is perhaps
loosely indicative of the general refreshing tone*):
A ghost travels through a continent full of enchantments: the disenchantment with capitalism. The third millennium gives us surprises as soon as it starts: history is not presented as it has been announced (by those who have the power to do so). Just when the confrontation between socialism and capitalism appeared to be a thing of the past and the free-market shimmered in the horizon as the reign of progress, its promise of universal welfare was revealed to be nothing more than a sham, an elusive mirage, even among those who stood by it..."Curruption" (a term that condenses multiple meanings in relation to the violation of public in favour of private benefit, from slack attitude at work, clientelismo–the practice of obtaining votes with promises of government posts and illegal commissions, to blackmail and murder) has become a structural endemic and a cultural phenomenon accepted as part of everyday life...
Particularly in the "South", the false advent of a world defined by the manta of the "end of history" announced by Fukuyama, or the "post-ideological ideologies" discerned by Zizek, appears more like a science fiction fantasy that could only be imagined in and for the "North". In a Latin America full of memories of struggles for justice, enriched with ideals and riddled with frustrations, fragmented by poverty and confronted by deep social and cultural heterogeneity, the spectral disenchantment with capitalism takes more and more the shape of the old ghost of socialism. This moribund spectre, which has been thought as missing so many times and reappeared so many others in the crevasses of capitalism, is encouraging radical sectors of many social movements from Patagonia to Rio Grande: the "piqueteros" of Argentina (unemployed workers using disruptive tactics to force government to remedy social grievances), the landless people of Brazil, the workers of coca plantations in Bolivia or the "Zapatistas" of Mexico, but also the radical wings of progressive governments, from Kirchner and Lagos in the south of Latin America, Lula in the middle, to the governor and former Presidential candidate Manuel López Obrador in the north. But no one has incarnated and reincarnated this spirit like President Hugo Chavez, generating immense hope or exorbitant panic, depending on the way you look at it....
There are also interviews with Spivak and Laclau, and a particularly moving short essay by Simon Critchley. Please consider giving Naked Punch your support (small independent magazines need this sort of thing, especially today). Thanks.
(Full disclosure: I recently received enough money for a French restaurant dinner (with wine and one person company, of course–though the restaurants in Asheville are not yet civilized enough to permit dogs, alas) upon completing some proofreading/light editing work on their behalf. According to them I do a very decent and reasonable job, should anybody (anybody interesting) also be in need.)
*Sometimes the writing (or translating) suffers, say, from mixed metaphor, and the tone of the longer pieces errs into ponderous repetition, or even what the common Joe Shmoe would call theoretical or jargon-laden pose. But this issue is by far the least so afflicted, and by a tremendous shot (not that the previous ones were anything terrible, mind you). Highly recommended, especially for those craving a more contentiously overt political, philosophic flare. All in all an impressive, bold, and very responsible publication, and I am extremely proud to be a small part of its growing success.
Speaking of the free market, one really cannot recommend The Yes Men movie/documentary heartily enough. What are they up to these days, anyway? (There was that Bhopal/Dow Chemical hoax, but that was ages ago.) (It's like flirting with Popeye's wife, or lifting a sleepy jailor's keys with a long fedora feather, what they do. Only when the jailor/waterboarder comes for The Yes Men, someone had better speak up.) I'm curious though, have others seen the film? Man, those guys are cool as shit.