Friday, May 28, 2004

so charles has lost part of his art collection.
lest we forget - charles and brother maurice, as partners in the saatchi & saatchi advertising agency were, throughout the dreadful eighties, enthusiastic supporters of margaret (she whose name must only be spoken whilst hawking loudly and spitting thrice onto her as-yet-unoccupied but slowly and relentlessly yawning grave) thatcher and major donors to the conservative party - a group of barely human beings whose inability to distinguish art from shit is as much a precondition of membership as their inability to say sorry - for a catalogue of crimes as long as history itself.
margaret (*spit*) thatcher's only contribution to history was to cut free classroom milk to schoolkids, shamelessly suck american dick (a lesson tony blair learnt at her feet), declare war on Argentina and the coal miners, and shit the $ onto everything she could think of that threatened her uptight control-freak image of the universe : $hit $chools, $hit $ocial $ervices, $hit NH$, and $hit Art$. people like charles saatchi were her fawning sycophants, burrowing their noses deep into her Ć¼bertight arse in return for some pathetic favour or other.
charles is a totally dysfunctional human being whose taste in art is transparently valueless: how can an advertising executive know anything about art?
it's very simple: art is about truth - advertising is about lies.
just because he happens to be as rich as croesus, the fine art world - naturally - has capitulated to his every pathetic whim, so that whomsoever he has chosen to bless with his approval has suddenly become the greatest modern artist in the world, ever, and their art has been sold for lots and lots and lots of money.
so now there's been a fire in his warehouse, and it's all gone.
(note - no-one could actually see this art - it was stashed in a warehouse - a very big safe - it's purpose was to sit there and accrue value.)
and now it's all gone.
and, because the art world has become as completely alienated from the real world as dubya and tony, no-one gives a monkeys.
apart from the insurers, who are going to have to find a ripe £50m - which is all it's ever been about, anyway - and the odd critic whose career depends on his continuing to insist that the nude emperor's clothes are just simply - why won't you common people see? - ravishing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

European Elections

So much more colourful than the equivalent English 'tacky' or American 'flakey'. It's Australian, of course, and refers to those clusters of shit-balls (known as 'dags' or, even better, 'dingleberries') that hang off the backsides of unshorn sheep: such an animal is referred to as being 'daggy'.
Of all the art forms, the local electioneering pamphlet has to be the daggiest - aspiring to the PR gloss of the better-funded central office prototypes, but with all the undigested crap of failed comprehension of the actual nature of the beast hanging out for all to see.
You can practically hear the thinking, can't you? 'We want a nice, average family - reach out to the Common Man - Labour cares for the future generation - all smiles - a snapshot - something for the family album....' ya-da-ya-da-ya-da .....
Hey guys, gather round.
Tip #1: Wait for a sunny day. A warm sunny day. The Happy Family myth requires all the help it can get, and the grey light of a cold, drizzly Sunday morning can only serve to expose the fraud.
Tip #2: Fake the family. Real families simply can't do 'happy' nearly as well as models. Self-conscious fixed smiles just say "Can we make this the last one? I'm frozen and I think I left the gas on." What we want is fantasy, not a reflection of the reality of how awful Sunday mornings can really be.
Tip #3: Ditch the purple. Purple is a bad colour. No-one - no-one - is going to vote for a man who wears a purple shirt - especially if the freshly-unwrapped crease is evident on the shoulder, and especially if the wife is wearing - omygod - mauve!
Of course, there are constituencies which might respond positively to this image, people who might regard it as an aspirational model. Romanians, possibly. Czechs or Poles, maybe, circa 1980. Certainly, it's an image from another time - another culture, even. See, comrades, if you toil diligently and fulfill your three-year quota, our glorious ten-year plan will eventually unfold, like a healthy cabbage, and you, too, will have a shared apartment and perhaps even a television receiver.
I mean - could you get it wronger if you tried?
Look - it's a dreary playground at the edge of a dreary housing estate somewhere in Nowhere. It's winter (bleak, bare-branched willows - which would be weeping if only they could) - it's a Sunday morning - there's no-one else around. It's drizzling. It's cold. Plucked from their warm beds, this hapless family has been dragged out into the park with barely time to get dressed and brush their hair (Mum washed hers, but wasn't given time to dry it), where someone plonked the eldest two into a tyre-swing and said "Smile please."
And that's it.
Caption: 'Labour - working hard for Britain.'
What the ... ?
Do they want to drive everyone into the arms of - well, anyone else's arms, really - anyone who'll offer an alternative to this vision of hell? They might as well have put a thought-bubble above hubby's head saying "for godsake won't someone please rescue me from all this?" and above wifey's saying "I'll give it one more year, then I'll kill him."
There's one scrap of cynical pleasure: I'd like to think that the brain-deads who constructed this image sub-consciously chose to place those two kids in a tyre-swing as an ironic reference to the Labour Party as the evil Lords of Spin. But somehow I doubt it.
It's just daggy.
I'll be voting Green, by the way.

Monday, May 24, 2004

"Where once photographing war was the province of photojournalists, now the soldiers themselves are all photographers - recording their war, their fun, their observations of what they find picturesque, their atrocities - and swapping images among themselves, and emailing them around the globe. "

Guardian Unlimited - What have we done? Susan Sontag on the Abu Ghraib images

"The demolition of houses in Rafah must stop. It is not humane, not Jewish and causes us grave damage in the world," Justice Minister Yosef Lapid told the cabinet yesterday.
Lapid added that he had seen a picture of an elderly Palestinian woman searching in the debris

for her medication, and had been reminded of his grandmother [who perished in the Holocaust].
His remarks sparked an uproar in the cabinet since Lapid is a Holocaust survivor and his words were interpreted as a comparison between the IDF and the Nazis.

(today's Ha'aretz - I can't believe I'm the only one with a sense of deja-vu over this)

Sunday, May 23, 2004

take it wherever you can get it, kid

here in England, of course, we don't find this sort of thing at all amusing - not at all.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

max richter - the blue notebooks

Most music seems to affect us via one of two gates: in chakra terms, that's either the muladhara, or root chakra, located between the anus and the genitals (that would be rock 'n' roll and PJ Harvey, then), or the manipura chakra, the solar plexus chakra, the realm associated with emotions and gut feelings (need I say? The Reykjavik Connection?). It happens, though, from time to time, that you find yourself listening to something that has totally galvanised you - but neither in the goolies, nor in the gut - and you find yourself stroking your chin and thinking, 'Hmm, if my memory (of the Seven Primary Chakras) serves me right, this seems to be tickling my sixth, or ajna chakra .' Then, 'My God!' (appropriately enough) 'So I do still have a soul!'

(read the full review here)

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"Shame" - Matt Sesow (11" x 14" oil on stretched canvas)
(click on image to enlarge)

this is the first artwork I've come across that refers to that iconic image - the first of many, I've no doubt.
(more of Matt Sesow's work here)

Monday, May 17, 2004

the gray zone

How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib.

“We’re giving the world a ready-made excuse to ignore the Geneva Conventions. Rumsfeld has lowered the bar.”

another one of those days

with the polls looking like this, world oil prices at an all-time high, and that irritating oik from flint about to blow the gaffe on daddy's connections with the world's major oil supplier, you begin to wonder - is it really worth it?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

god bless you, mr vonnegut

photo: Jill Krementz

'Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.
And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.'

(from In These Times)

Friday, May 14, 2004

three crown prince and princesses

'happiness is....' (contd)

actually, now I see it down there, I have absolutely no idea what it means. I mean, I just felt like putting up something beautiful, for a change, and I end up with a drivelling piece of inexcusably platitudinous bilge - even calligraphy can be bilge - one of those instances of its being preferable not to know what it means...
or maybe it doesn't translate well from the Japanese...
I might, one day, begin to address my swirling suspicions that 'happiness' is something that's only available to the child or the child-like - which is why the infantilising effects of alcohol, drugs, being 'in love', and day-time soaps are so appealing, since one molecule of 'thought' or 'reality' dropped into the warm pink ocean of 'happy' turns it instantly a chill blue. one day - not today. today I'll stay with 'happy'.

'happiness is a state of mind'

(calligraphic artist: Yuan Lee)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Beyond science?

Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: randomised controlled trial

Leonard Leibovici, professor. 

Department of Medicine, Beilinson Campus, Rabin Medical Center, Petah-Tiqva 49100, Israel

Objective: To determine whether remote, retroactive intercessory prayer, said for a group of patients with a bloodstream infection, has an effect on outcomes.

Design: Double blind, parallel group, randomised controlled trial of a retroactive intervention.
Setting: University hospital.

Subjects: All 3393 adult patients whose bloodstream infection was detected at the hospital in 1990-6.

Intervention: In July 2000 patients were randomised to a control group and an intervention group. A remote, retroactive intercessory prayer was said for the well being and full recovery of the intervention group.

Main outcome measures: Mortality in hospital, length of stay in hospital, and duration of fever.

Results: Mortality was 28.1% (475/1691) in the intervention group and 30.2% (514/1702) in the control group (P for difference=0.4). Length of stay in hospital and duration of fever were significantly shorter in the intervention group than in the control group (P=0.01 and P=0.04, respectively).

Conclusions: Remote, retroactive intercessory prayer said for a group is associated with a shorter stay in hospital and shorter duration of fever in patients with a bloodstream infection and should be considered for use in clinical practice.

British Medical Journal: Abstracts

(all emphases mine)

Monday, May 10, 2004

god is great

I'm deeply sceptical about the so-called power of photographs to affect public opinion: I think it's sketchy-verging-on-simplistic (not to say not a little condescending) to imagine that the person who bothers to vote is going to have his or her opinion about an important issue like foreign policy be swayed by a photograph. certainly, some photographs have been adopted as iconic in precisely that sense: the Saigon police chief's summary execution of a prisoner; the naked little girl fleeing, screaming, from her napalmed village - powerful examples of a powerful force, but not one, I think, that 'changed public opinion' about the Vietnam war. what did that was the demoralising statistics about GI losses during and after the Tet offensive, the exponentially increasing military costs, and, as the months became years, the increasing impossibility of being able to continue to hide that single, extraordinary, shaming fact - the evident inability of the greatest military force in history to seek out and destroy a proportionately tiny, but desperately committed guerilla army.

terrible atrocities were committed by the Americans in Vietnam, too, of course. there are photographs. there is film. there is shame.

and now - another iconic image.

with relentless, breathtaking speed, America has assumed from Great Britain the mantle of being the most feared and loathed nation on the planet. in the historic past, enemy-nations were those which threatened one's sovereignty - either literally, in the sense that their economic and territorial expansion was perceived as impinging on one's own, or figuratively, in the sense that their political alignments were threatening one's economic interests. they had names. Germany. Japan. Korea. Vietnam.

now, under an illegally-adopted president, a morally bankrupt, ideologically monolithic administration is rampaging freely, like a wounded fighting dog, desperately trying to discover the name of the enemy that wounded it, in order to expose and eradicate it. and, in the absence of a name, it has called this nation upon which it has declared war - 'Terror'.

of course, there is no Terror, no single source. if there were, it could no more be uprooted than Evil, its familiar twin. both are fictions - defining factors in the processes of manipulation and control that maintain an obedient, placid, uncomplainingly consuming McDisney World. Terror is the secular arm of the fundamentalist Christian's Evil, the relationship between the two being much the same as the relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA and the Catholics, the Orangemen and the Provos and the Protestants, or Herri Batasuna and ETA. in truth, Americans have more to fear from their own people than they do from any foreign nation. this being the most enduring of the narratives of nationalism, however, Christians have never seen anything wrong in fighting Evil with its own weapons, however double-edged they might turn out to be - there has never been an institution more terrifying than the Inquisition - and there was never any question that those weapons might be blunted by the furious metal of Reason.

it seemed, for one brief moment in history, that the veneer of civilisation was beginning to spread and coalesce, and that a set of accommodations was being painstakingly engineered that would address the murderous lunacies inherent in all fundamentalist religious positions - the insane inflexibilities of the god-inspired everywhere. it seemed that their (the god-obsessed) superstitious ravings were at last going to be relegated to the curio-pile of history - that decisions affecting your and my life in the new twenty-first century were no longer going to be subject to the specious interpretations of tenth-century documents by psychotic old men, but to the reasonable debate between equals in a democracy. but the god-men have won, it would seem. and they want to settle it, once and for all.

allah akhbar means "god is great." so does "hallelujah." so "whose god is the greatest?" has become the only rallying-cry. the only political rhetoric being employed on Capitol Hill is the same as that in the Shi'ite mosques - that of the Crusades.

I have seen it plausibly, if extremely argued that the neo-cons seriously want to decide it once and for all in the Middle East. just nuke the bastards and take over. problems with oil supply? solved. it's a terrifying, certifiably insane thought, but they are terrifying, arguably insane people - and like the Nazis, who went to great pains to ensure that everything they did in pursuit of the Final Solution was done within the letter of the law, their insane ideology has been legitimised by a corrupt legislature, so, whatever crimes they commit, they are pre-absolved by the secular authority, just as the suicide bombers by the religious.

which makes me wonder about these photographs.

clearly, horrifying as they are, they represent only a fraction of what's been going on. the massacres at Falluja - now these photographs - could they really be deliberate provocations, deliberate attempts to stir the still-patient arab world into the final suicidal confrontation to end all suicidal confrontations? either this is the most stupid army in the world, barely under the control of the most stupid set of people ever to take office, or they know exactly what they're doing. for the time being, I prefer to invoke Occam's Razor and believe, reluctantly, that the former is the case. the latter is unthinkable.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


arriving on top of the Tor with my favourite dog (actually Jane's - I was doggy-sitting her whilst she did a day-trip to London to try on wedding dresses at Harvey Nich's), we discovered several little piles of freshly-tipped ashes, beginning to disperse in the south-westerly wind that hardly ever dies fully away up there. after having a cursory sniff, she immediately adopted one of those fetching generic poses - "Mourning Becomes Arrow" - and I dutifully recorded the solemn moment. but it set me to thinking - yes, indeed, where better to be finally dispersed? (note to self, sons, and/or surviving descendants, though - the word is scatter, ok? not just dump!)

Friday, May 07, 2004

the wonderful Mr Michael Eavis - farmer, Glastonbury Festival organiser, artist (in that order)

               (photo: Paul Roylance)

A 70ft high tower celebrating the global struggle for social and economic justice is to be built at the entrance to a union-run section of this year's Glastonbury Festival.
Work got underway at the weekend on the giant steel structure, which has been designed by festival organiser Michael Eavis and Cornwall-based artists Graham Jobbins and Kurt Jackson.
"I came up with the idea of having 12 large figures cut out of steel plate revolving on a big cylinder pulling a rope which should indicate the need for all people around the world to work and pull together," said Mr Eavis.

aquĆ­ en los campos verdes del somerset venceremos esas vacas del capitalista!

(today in the central somerset gazette)

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I never intended that the rhinoblog be any kind of journal - I'm far too much of a hoarder of my treasured privacy to allow anyone within a mile of the inner sanctum - and anyway, although I admit I do, myself, enjoy dipping occasionally into the daily trivia of some regular bloggers lives, I can't help wondering at both our motives - theirs and mine - in colluding in such an act of public intimacy.
rather, the rhinoblog was conceived as an extension of the melancholy rhino itself - originally a kind of magical mystery tour kind of a photogallery thingy, which acquired a few additional pages of opinion and comment, and just sort of grewed - into the curiously hybrid kind of creature it now is - a fair - if forever incomplete - reflection of its author's characteristically unfocussed concerns - sometimes domestic, sometimes cultural, sometimes political, sometimes just plain whimsical. a kind of scrapbook, I suppose. yet another pathetic attempt to carve a smidgeon of meaning out of that buzzing chaos of contingency out there (and, incidentally, in here - *points to his head* - not to mention here - *taps his chest*).
so hello, gentle reader, whoever you might be - and welcome. I see, in the last couple of hours, that you've come from Buenos Aires, Portsmouth and Sheffield (just down the road in global terms), Ono in Spain (never heard of that before), Kyoto, Cairo, Seoul, and Katowice in Poland, as well as from several places in the united states.
very strange. very strange indeed.
it's pouring with rain outside, so the blood-red lunar eclipse we were promised for tonight goes unremarked unless by those airline passengers who still, like me, look out of aeroplane windows in a state of consummate awe.

Monday, May 03, 2004

vote-rigging us-style (contd)

it gets worse:

" In the last presidential election, approximately 1 million black and other minorities voted, and their ballots were thrown away. And they will be tossed again in November 2004, efficiently, by computer--because HAVA and other bogus reform measures, stressing reform through complex computerization, do not address, and in fact worsen, the racial bias of the uncounted vote.
One million votes will disappear in a puff of very black smoke."

(The Nation article here)

Saturday, May 01, 2004

the urosevich brothers

rob and todd - not the sweet cartoon sons of dear old neddley-darn-diddley, but the sinister (and all-too-real) dudes who have been chosen to help rig the us presidential elections this coming november.

(update - except in California)

A Citizen's Income

is an unconditional, nonwithdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship.
A Citizen's Income scheme (sometimes called Basic Income or Universal Benefit) is intended to overcome the failings of the present welfare state. It would be simple in application, increase economic efficiency, help prevent poverty and unite our society.

at the moment the UK Green Party is the only political party with the sense to recognise that this very simple idea - first proposed by Thomas Paine - could solve an awful lot of social problems at one stroke; maybe it's an idea whose time has still to come, but, for want of any better...