5CT for December 2016

One hates to boast, but just this once. EPIC issue. Hope you enjoy as much as the 5CT team enjoyed putting it together. It’s that season, so hold your lovelies close. Especially in these perilous times. “I wish there was a treaty between your love and mine,” said Leonard Cohen, and what could anyone possibly add to that? Have a lovely, lovely season.

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1.

Kait Dunton and the joy of the trio


This is Kait Dunton’s world and I’m smitten. I’ve listened to this song about 150 times. My second favorite tune of hers is Real and Imagined. To find out more pop on over here —>

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2.
Political Technologist’s Wanted


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Vladimir Putin, Kara Gordon / The Atlantic

Join our team! “You are a shape shifter. You will spearhead the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg ever seen, including petty disinformation, forgeries, lies, leaks, and cyber-sabotage. You must be able to demonstrate a proven ability to reinvent reality, creating mass hallucinations that then translate into political action. Background in conceptual art preferred, but not necessary. Great work culture. Historic setting. Friday night caviar parties, throngs of women, and occasional assassinations. To apply, reply to this job alert with political technologist in the subject line.”

Your correspondent pinched a little here and a little there to create the job description above that is, sorry to say, all too real. There are a couple of stories linked below that shed light on the dark, ominous moment we’re living in now. A world of near constant, mind-bending lies and the rise of right-wing politics. So what’s happening exactly? Start with these.

  • Russia and the Menace of Unreality: How Vladimir Putin is Revolutionizing Information Warfare, by Peter Pomerantsev, at The Atlantic
     
    “We should give (journalism) students a clear understanding: They are going to work for The Man, and The Man will tell them what to write, what not to write, and how this or that thing should be written,” he said. “And The Man has the right to do it, because he pays them.”
     
  • Trump’s lies have a purpose. They are an assault on democracy, by Ned Resnikoff in Think Progress
     
    “At the same time, Bannon turned Breitbart News into a Trump Party organ and used it to disseminate further confusion. Independent of Trump and Bannon, a number of other fake news sites — an improbable number of which happened to be headquartered in Macedonia — inundated social media with inaccurate information.”
     
  • Surkov: dark prince of the Kremlin, by Richard Sakwa
     
    “Surkov has become the court philosopher, undertaking a role like that of Mikhail Suslov in the post-Stalin era in the Soviet Union, or even of that of Konstantin Pobedonostsev under Alexander III and Nicolas II. His writings reveal the inner beliefs of the regime.”
     

 

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-5-18-07-pmPeter Pomerantsev is also the author of Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia.

Here’s some of what these stories are telling us.

All manner of people now — your aunt, your uncle, your distant cousin, and the entire town you grew up in — believe things that are demonstrably untrue. And they believe with utter conviction. It’s gotten so crazy that traditional media outlets have yet to figure how to operate in this new, fact-free environment.

One part of the story — particularly in Rusia — is something lovingly called managed democracy, a kind of mendacious, bureaucratic lever pulling practiced by political technologists, who serve autocratic leaning politicos and other nefarious (usually monied) dirt bags. To summarize crudely. Sow chaos. Flood the society with endless, gargantuan lies and nonsense. Soon all media is diminished, discredited, no longer trusted. No one knows what to believe or who to trust. Power becomes the only truth. This comes close to describing Russia today, and this show is coming to a country very near and dear to you. The man most associated with the term ‘political technologist’ is Vladislav Surkov, who works at the Kremlin. His background is conceptual art, if you can believe it. Steve Bannon, (the DJT chief of staff), is clearly working from the same sheet music. As is “transparency champion” Julian Assange. Read all you can — it’s a perilous time.

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Political technologists, Vladislav Surkov, Steve Bannon, (CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS) Julian Assange (BBC)

 

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The Man Without Qualities, by Robert Musil


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Absolute jaw-dropper. Few books deserve the ‘towering achievement’ stamp, but this one, lordy. I pulled it off the shelf of my lovely Folio and read the opening above.

The chapter titles, of which the above is first, seduced me. It’s an extremely funny, thrilling and ironic read — and recalls (a little) The Grand Budapest Hotel, but much richer, much deeper, more philosophically oriented. Here’s Jane Smiley, 10 years ago, in the Guardian:

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-6-02-18-pmAnd in a remark that must surely apply to many of the unaccountable things that rogue governments and rogue corporations still do, he writes: “For it is only criminals who presume to damage other people nowadays without the aid of philosophy.” The chapters on Moosbrugger and Count Leinsdorf are contrasting masterpieces of empathy – on the one hand, with a murderer whose grasp of reality is utterly logical but scarily tenuous, and on the other, with an aristocrat who has no idea what is going on in the nation he is responsible for.

Some novelists excel at giving the reader the emotional feel of a character’s mind (Dickens), others at the sensuous feel of a character’s mind (Flaubert). Musil is wonderful at both – even though Ulrich isn’t very emotional, a couple of the other characters are, and Musil enters into them quite smoothly. He is extremely good at characterising the logical way in which the thoughts and perceptions of a thinking man progress, climax and begin again with another subject. Musil uses the third-person omniscient point of view, and is perfectly at ease entering the minds of all his characters; he seems to get especially close to them, as if what he were saying about them is so concise that it must be absolutely true.

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4.

The Eye & Voice of Nancy Bowker: Picture Maker, Songstress, Friend


Nancy Bowker

Nancy Bowker

 

It seems so long time ago now that the 12x12x62 project launched. As I searched for 12 people who could / would be willing to make photographs (one a month for a year) post them to Instagram, and write a 62-word sestude for each, I was struggling to find people. Then my wife said, “You should ask Nancy.” Who had never been a photographer. Who had never used Instagram. Who was, however, an artist, a singer, a poet, and a longtime friend of my wife. I asked, she said yes and soon there were 1700 followers of @nbcrossings. You can see why below. Do yourself a favor. Explore her images and writings and singing here. For now, spend a moment looking at these images while you listen to Nancy sing Mountain Song in Tadao Ando’s ‘Church of Light’ Kyoto, Japan.

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5.

Lovely last words, Leonard Cohen


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String Reprise, Treaty

I wish there was a treaty we could sign

It’s over now, the water and the wine

We were broken then but now we’re borderline

And I wish there was a treaty, I wish there was a treaty

between your love and mine

~

THAT’S IT. HAVE A GREAT WEEK.

 

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