“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Ilinx in Marx, ilinx r us

In the German ideology, Marx introduced a trope that he used quite frequently to think about the socio-economic relations that underlie capitalism:

“Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc. – real, active men, as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse corresponding to these, up to its furthest forms. Consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence, and the existence of men is their actual life-process. If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside-down as in a camera obscura, [Wenn in der ganzen Ideologie die Menschen und ihre Verhältnisse wie in einer Camera obscura auf den Kopf gestellt erscheinen] this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process.”

In my last post, I introduced the anecdote of the masked gamblers in the Redoute to make a number of points – one of which is that you can read any number of biographies of John Law, or you can read Gregory Clarks recent A Farewell to Alms, which concentrates on the developments that produced capitalism in the period between the seventeenth and early nineteenth century, and nowhere will there be any anthropological consideration of that semantic pair with which the business pages are now entertaining us: transparency and opacity. The masks are so much frivolousness.

Well, since the frivole is one of the banners under which a site named, after all, Limited Inc operates, you’ll excuse me if I find the masks, on the contrary, full of meaning, and even find meaning, mythological meanings, in the detachment of the economic facts from the rites and peculiar symbols in which they are instantiated. The masked gambler and the open faced banker (who is a proxy of others, and thus fulfils a masking function, too) have an especial relevance now, when we are told that the transmission of commodities that are essentially nothing other than masks concealing unlikely combinations – securities the composition of which is hardly known to the dealers who sell them, who would even consider understanding the products that they sell to be a waste of time – is the very bedrock of our system.

Ah, the bedrock. And so it is that we get to Marx’s fascination with the inversions natural to ideology, that process of re-casting artifice as the natural. When Marx approaches this topic, some reference to an ur-ilinx situation – that of standing on one’s head – is sure to be in the offing. Or at least in the room next door, listening.

It is a good time to remember this. Lately, we are flooded with the world upside down – the world in which we, the producers, and we, the consumers, are shown to depend on them, the managers, and on them, the financial world – a relationship of dependence that “umdreht” – inverses reality. This inversion penetrates the discourse in unusual ways – for instance, the Fed’s concern with the liquidity of the system is derived from this inverted image, since if we turned the relationship about we would not only transform the central crisis into one of solvency, but we would have to contextualize solvency – and solvency, here, is about the means and modes of the expropriation of the increase in productivity, the fruits of which have been going, since 2001, almost exclusively to the top 20 percent of the income bracket. Since the collapse of the power of labour unions and the unraveling of the collaboration between the state and labour to give labour more bargaining power in the early eighties, this crisis was bound to happen. And it is bound to be seen upside down. Now, standing on your head and then standing on your feet certainly falls under the games of ilinx, which activates a dizziness in the social world. Marx was a man who wanted to seize society and make it stand on its feet – on its own two feet – and in that ambition he was serious – an avatar of seriousness. But since that seriousness was realized in images of standing on one’s head and inversion, his seriousness would slip away into ilinx as he analyzed the upside down society, as he corrected the reigning ideology, as, indeed, he spoke for revolution. For even though revolution was on the side of play, was the realization of the society of seriousness, it was entangled from beginning to end in ilinx – the irrepressible euphoria of the revolutionary act.

Of course, standing on one’s head makes it a question of heads – so often the revolution comes down to heads – and as heads seemed to be designed as perverse machines for the inversion of things, Marx’s tone, around the “Kopf”, always seems to take on a slightly mocking air. Here’s a passage from the introduction to the Critique of the Political Economy:

“Accordingly for the consciousness – and by this we specify the philosophic consciousness – to which the conceptual thinking of real persons and thus the conceived world as such is primarily real, the movement of categories appears as the real act of production – which, unfortunately, requires a shock from the outside to be set in motion – whose result is the world. And this is (this is again a tautology) correct insofar as the concrete totality as a thought totality, as a thought concretum, in fact is a product of thought, of conceptualization; but in no way of the external or above it all thinking intuition and idea and auto-generated concept, but of the working out of intuition and idea in concepts. The whole, appearing in the head as a thought whole, is a product of the thinking head, which assimilates the world in the only way available to it, a way that is different from the artistic, religious, practical-intellectual assimilation of this world. The real subject remain, before as afterwards, outside of the head, independent, as long, namely, as the head relates only speculatively, theoretical. Even then, in the theoretical method the subject, society, must always hover before us as the presupposition of the idea.” (ME 13, 633)

As it was in the beginning, so it is now, in our era of detached heads, tv heads, talking heads. Assimilation of the world through the total distortion of the world – this is what Kraus called the black magic of the press, and what LI calls white magic – for what was black for Kraus, the ink of the newspaper, has become white for LI, the white of the screen.

I came upon a beautiful instance of standing on one’s head, economically speaking, in Washington Post lately. It was in the Q and A with Stephen Pearlstein, the Post’s only intelligent business reporter (for unintelligence when one touches on any practical economic matter, or foreign policy, or anything that does not involve pre-digested nuggets of White House spin, I recommend the Post’s political reporter, Peter Baker, who possesses almost genius ability to totally miss the news in whatever news he is reporting). And this is what an intelligent business reporter thinks:

“Washington, D.C.: Steven, I suppose that additional regulation of the markets will also be accompanied with guarantees of government intervention to "socialize" losses in the financial industry. Bringing "stability" to this powerful and wealthy economic caste may have consequences for national competitiveness, social stability, and the print circulation of Das Kapital.
Steven Pearlstein: Very cute. First of all, you mistake bringing stability to a powerful and wealthy economic caste, in which we have little interest, and bringing stability to ordinary homeowners, workers, investors and the broader economy, in which we do have a societal interest. Often the two go together, so you can always rail against bailing out the big guys. But as I've written before, the bailout here is really for all of us. And I think you play cute intellectual games in dismissing that. There is a legitimate tradeoff between innovation and efficiency on the one hand and stability on the other, and it is hard to do that tradeoff because it is like weighing apples against oranges. But it is one we should do without getting into accusations that one side (my side) doesn't care about innovation or efficiency, which is what the Financial Services Round Table and the Derivatives and Swap Industry Association (or whatever it calls itself) invariably do.”
The bailout is really for all of us. This is a phrase that can lodge in the head, the head that is a factory for making ideas into concepts, or, as I suppose we would now say, conceptual schemas. Especially as it is in conjunction with the class segmentation of society that is both acknowledged and dismissed, with just the right upside down tone – as though we depended on the ‘innovations’ of the ‘big guys’. It is a funny thing, this word innovation. For instance, counterfeiters are innovators. They are continually innovating forms of currency that are supposed to look just like currency. Unfortunately for them, innovation is no excuse. Whereas in the financial sector, which is really about loaning money and receiving payments on those loans – and that’s it – innovation has been borrowed from the annals of engineering to make it seem like we have entered a whole new schema. In a sense that is right. The schema combines the banality of loaning money and receiving payments on those loans with the excitement of counterfeiting. It is all high stakes, piracy, and 45 trillion dollars in derivatives.
But of course that whole world is horseshit. When we cease standing on our heads. If we cease…

But its not them. They don’t decide.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

the birth of financial capitalism from under the mask

I feel out of place
Just look at my face...

In volume 5 of Georges Daru’s classic Histoire de la Republique de Venise (doesn’t the mock scholarship of this beginning send a little frisson up your spine? LI is trying out a Poe like style – but hark, we are in the midst of a very non-Poe like parenthesis!), there is a description of the famed Redoute, Venice’s casino:

“The most frequented of the places to play (cassins) was called the Redoute. This was an establishment not unworthy of the attention of the observer. In existence since 1676, it was a vast edifice consecrated to games of chance. Usually, there was sixty to eighty tables, where only the patricians could sit like bankers. They were in their robes, with their faces uncovered, while the other players were masked. but these patricians did not represent the bank in actuality: they were on the payrole of companies who associated for this speculation, that is to say greedy capitalists and even the Jews. They were on a yearly, or a monthly, or a daily stipend. It was a singular spectacle to see around a table persons of both sexes in masks, and grave personages in magistrates robes holding the bank, both the one and the other praying to chance, passing from the anguishes of despair to the illusions of hope, and this without offering a word.”

Among the masked players, we know, was John Law – who went on, in a stroke of genius, to devise something like a twentieth century financial system, and tried to impose it on an economy transitioning from feudalism and an ancient code of war – the France of the Regency – with, of course, disastrous results. And at this point I could start wondering about the chain of chains that I’ve been dragging through this blog, lately – but I’m more interested in those masks. In 1670, on the other side of the world, the Pacific northwest, a very sophisticated mask culture, the Kwakiutl, were using more elaborate masks in ceremonies that, to some extent, survived to be studied by Franz Boas in the early twentieth century. Boas was opposed to the culture evolutionists who would see the gamblers in Venice as a higher civilization to which the Kwakiutl were related as a primitive stage. Rather, he wanted to slice these cultures up into units governed by pattern rules that weren’t in that progressive order one with the other. Certainly at least here, in Venice, the masks under which financial capitalism was born should at least give us pause. But – another promise I have no idea if I will keep - LI will get to Boas later.

As LI pointed out in our Caillois post, we have a feeling that the mask and the game, which Caillois associates with each other, have something to do with imitatio, the segmentation of life according to figures – call them Gods or spirits – attendant upon different ages. It is interesting to think of imitatio as, in some ways, the donning of a mask – a persona.
The mask in “European” culture is mostly studied in relation to the ancient world. There was, for instance, the Roman custom of having a buffoon at a funeral don a mask resembling the deceased. Suetonius tells a famous story about the funeral of Vespasian, famous for being tightfisted: “Even at his funeral, the leading mime actor Favor, who was wearing a mask of his face and imitating the actions and speech of the deceased during his lifetime, as is the custom, asked the procurators how much the funeral and the procession had cost and, hearing that it was ten million sesterces, exclaimed that they should give him a hundred thousand throw him [Vespasian] into the river.”
Herder had the idea that the mask was a form of alienated imperfection – the mask was our ugliness. We are gorillas in masks.
“From this point of view, have you considered what advantages such masks gave Greek art, what nobility they gave the human form? Through them, what distorted our nature, what was unseemly, was cut away from us. All caricature was transferred, classified and ordered. Therefore it remained separated from the noble human body: no Hogarth could be a Prometheus and make images of men; but the child, the boy could play with masks, even Jupiter and Mercury could act in masks, if they so pleased. They were now not gods, but deformed beings: for whoever wears such a mask, thereby certifies that he is now not a man, or god, but the beast, the fool, in whose shape he appears. The noble human form, that for the Greeks reigned over everything, has such a one renounced.”
- Herder, Letters for the Advancement of Humanity (Werke, 5.2 292)

Caillois did not associate masks with games of chance. The more natural move is to associate them, or at least one of their functions – the production of hyperbolic fear – with ilinx, the games that play with vertigo and its avatars.

Okay, enough tonight.

PS – Like Marcel’s aunts in Swann’s Way who combine discretion with politeness to such a degree that the remarks they make to each other when Swann brings the family a gift from his garden, which seem random and a little bizarre, are actually carefully phrased to convey with a surcroit de tact a gratitude that would be entirely spoiled by its open declaration, like a gift presented without any gift wrapping, so, too, I coyly designed this post PLUS boosting the great photograph of the Kwaikutl mask all as a way of enticing a comment from certain of my web pals. But alas, no comment relevant to the substance of this post has been unsheathed in the comments to this thing. I feel like I want to cry.

However, there’s another reason for this postscriptum.

Lately, I’ve been perversely interested in the pro-ana community. That anorexic girls just don’t suffer in exemplary victimhood, but actually go out there, swap malign diet tips and encouraging words has not only destroyed a certain image of anorexia, the ‘silent’cry for help, but it has pushed the envelop of identity politics perhaps beyond the point of no return. Plus, there is the Goddess Ana, a rumor and a collective creation that has made me think a lot. There’s even been some question in U.K., a country that likes to combine the barbarism of the unfettered market place with the hypocrisy of the smothering nanny state, of officially censoring pro-ana sites. Now, I’m not ridiculous enough to be pro pro-ana – that would be a usurpation of experience even LI is not arrogant enough to indulge in.


if I were a therapist, I would take seriously the connection between the elements I am associating here: imitatio, ilinx, and the hyperbolic mask of fear. While this might sound like so much crazy LI shit, it is pretty easy, if you open your eyes, to see this stuff working like a well oiled machine all around us.

Okay, post scriptum is over. And now for some gratuitous pictures of penises. Meanwhile, I think I’m going to use the motto of this site as my sign off line.

I’m so bored. I hate my life.

vorovskoy mir

LI talked with my brother the other day about the shadow financial system. Hey, and then we added on a discussion of black helicopters … but I jest. Who needs black helicopters when you can watch them build a pipeline between the financial casino and the Fed without anybody lifting a hand…

Casino, though, is the wrong word. Casino’s are businesses that work. They work because most gamblers lose. Thus, the house is never in the position to have a solvency problem. On the other hand, the financial system is a vast array of bets premised on the idea that you can have a Casino in which most bettors win. Sure, there are shorts, but the system justifies itself by claiming that spreading the risk around and swapping it allows all parties to win.

In this world, a world that does generate amazing real money compensation packages for the Pigs (excuse me, IT)… the shower fungi that run it, winning and losing are vague concepts. So, today, we have a runup in the market because, ta da – UBS marked down 19 billion dollars. Or, as Yves Smith notes at Naked Capitalism, UBS just announced that in the brief period of 3 months, they lost an amount equivalent to a third of their assets.

In a normal market, this isn’t pat on the back kind of material. So why, in fact, is it getting pats on the back? Well, one of the consequences of being run by a gang of hoodlums laced with people from the financial and private equity sector is – they will simply spread this pain elsewhere. They will take it out in inflation and further wage stagnation on the bottom 80 percent. At the moment, the shower fungi are happy – as you or I would be happy, let’s face it, if given the keys to Fort Knox.

The happiness is a delusion. There’s a limit to thievery even among the vory v zakone who are picking the fat bits from American bones. UBS, as Smith noticed, recently received an infusion of 19 billion swiss francs – and has now put out an announcement that it is in negotiation with some sovereign wealth funds for 15 billion more. Banks shouldn't have burn rates - but UBS is starting to look like a dot com startup. Sovereign Wealth fund is just another name for Surplus Petroleum Profits – and yes, they have to go somewhere. We are fastforwarding through the petro-wealth cycle that has now occurred three times in the past thirty years. It isn’t only that the developed world depends on cheap petroleum, but when it raises in price, it depends on Middle Eastern countries recycling that money through Western economies. It is the neatest little system, and it is one reason that the really untouchable state in the Middle East, for the U.S., is Saudi Arabia.

But all the recycling in the world isn’t going to overcome the roots of this crisis in the widening gap between the rich and everybody else. The rich depend on two things, a consumer class that will keep going blindly into debt to maintain a lifestyle out of synch with their real earnings, and a government that will skew the playing field to grossly favor the oligarchs. There is a sorta sub-Malthusian limit, though, encoded in the supreme principle of economics: you can squeeze blood out of a turnip.

But at the moment, we are pretending you can.

Monday, March 31, 2008

imitatio all over again

I'm going to try to gather my thoughts together about ilinx, the mask of hyperbolic fear, and imitatio sometime this week. O Lord of the Flies, give me a second I can call my own! In the meantime, I'm reprinting this, which is about imitatio, since I want to work on that concept a little bit.

Usually, histories of the radical enlightenment wind through the philosophers and the natural scientists. May LI suggest another path? A primal scene of resistance, no less – which, like all primal scenes, begins with the opening of the eye – although in this primal scene, there are only shadowy proxies for Daddy fucking Mommy. It begins like this:

“Don Quixote raised his eyes and saw coming along the road he was following some dozen men on foot strung together by the neck, like beads, on a great iron chain, and all with manacles on their hands. With them there came also two men on horseback and two on foot; those on horseback with wheel-lock muskets, those on foot with javelins and swords, and as soon as Sancho saw them he said:

"That is a chain of galley slaves, on the way to the galleys by force of the king's orders."

"How by force?" asked Don Quixote; "is it possible that the king uses force against anyone?"

"I do not say that," answered Sancho, "but that these are people condemned for their crimes to serve by force in the king's galleys."

"In fact," replied Don Quixote, "however it may be, these people are going where they are taking them by force, and not of their own will."

"Just so," said Sancho.

"Then if so," said Don Quixote, "here is a case for the exercise of my office, to put down force and to succour and help the wretched."

This is from Chapter 22 of the first book of Don Quixote. It is a key chapter, for it provides the motor that ties together the first book. By freeing the prisoners, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza become, themselves, outlaws. This provides the loose plot into which Cervantes can fit his episodes – a blessed structure, that shows up, in variations, throughout the succeeding centuries of the European novel.

Blockhead!" said Don Quixote at this, "it is no business or concern of knights-errant to inquire whether any persons in affliction, in chains, or oppressed that they may meet on the high roads go that way and suffer as they do because of their faults or because of their misfortunes. It only concerns them to aid them as persons in need of help, having regard to their sufferings and not to their rascalities. I encountered a chaplet or string of miserable and unfortunate people, and did for them what my sense of duty demands of me, and as for the rest be that as it may; and whoever takes objection to it, saving the sacred dignity of the senor licentiate and his honoured person, I say he knows little about chivalry and lies like a whoreson villain, and this I will give him to know to the fullest extent with my sword…" – Chapter 30

The relationship between the intellectual and power has always fascinated intellectuals, who like to think that they are the repositories of true power – the poets will always trump the legislators in that long run where we are not, contra Keynes, all dead – some of us live on in books. But the line of philosophes, sages and, I’ll admit, buffoons who represent LI’s notion of the intellectual elect spring out of that twenty second chapter of Don Quixote.

It is much to my purpose, here, that the whole of Don Quixote can be read as a comically misshapen imitatio. Indeed, Don Quixote is just at the right age – middle age – to have his head so addled by romances that the traditionally strong urging of the middle aged heart in the pre-capitalist world takes its shape not through a meditation on the savior, but through a meditation on the knight redeemer.

Cervantes does not present his knight as a completely deluded man in this chapter. In fact, he raises the moral risks by having Quixote talk to the prisoners. Each confesses to his crime, and one of the criminals is “the famous Gines de Pasamonte, otherwise called Ginesillo de Parapilla,” whose feats have apparently entered into common lore. Unlike the headlong charge against the windmills, here there is no case of hallucination, even if there are comic verbal confusions. At the end of learning that one man is a thief, another a pimp, another a committer of incest, Don Quixote still tells the chief guard to let the men go free – and when he refuses, Don Quixote attacks. Later, in chapter 29, a curate, who has been told of the action by Sancho Panza, will supply the liberal voice of conscience that tells us of the consequences of our knightly acts. Of course, the consequences, as described by the curate, are entirely fictitious:

"I will answer that briefly," replied the curate; "you must know then, Senor Don Quixote, that Master Nicholas, our friend and barber, and I were going to Seville to receive some money that a relative of mine who went to the Indies many years ago had sent me, and not such a small sum but that it was over sixty thousand pieces of eight, full weight, which is something; and passing by this place yesterday we were attacked by four footpads, who stripped us even to our beards, and them they stripped off so that the barber found it necessary to put on a false one, and even this young man here"—pointing to Cardenio—"they completely transformed. But the best of it is, the story goes in the neighbourhood that those who attacked us belong to a number of galley slaves who, they say, were set free almost on the very same spot by a man of such valour that, in spite of the commissary and of the guards, he released the whole of them; and beyond all doubt he must have been out of his senses, or he must be as great a scoundrel as they, or some man without heart or conscience to let the wolf loose among the sheep, the fox among the hens, the fly among the honey. He has defrauded justice, and opposed his king and lawful master, for he opposed his just commands; he has, I say, robbed the galleys of their feet, stirred up the Holy Brotherhood which for many years past has been quiet, and, lastly, has done a deed by which his soul may be lost without any gain to his body."

According to Roberto Gonzalez Echeveria’s Love and the Law in Cervantes, the 1560s saw a typical modern response to a military and economic crisis: the state swelled the numbers of prisoners, who could then be used on galley ships. To do this meant expanding the number of offenses and expanding the role of the police, such as they were, much as such things have been done for twenty years in the U.S. The crimes, of course, are all individual, and fill, link by link, the prison factory space, while the larger crime – a system of criminal law that constitutes itself a crime – is committed by nobody. Don Quixote, charging against the proxy person of the king in attacking those raffish guards on the open road, makes himself a criminal, and turns Sancho Panza into his accomplice. Yet according to his own standards, he remains evermore the loyal knight to a king whose real traits are supplanted by romantic ones.

Without the outlaw knight, the radical enlightenment would be a legalism. With it, it becomes a rich drama of false starts and causes. A true outlaw knight ventures even outside that law which the intelligentsia now imposes on itself – the law of the smart. The law of the test. The law of the grades. The insane chain gangs of meritocracy. It is colder outside, and you might work in a gas station or a grocery store, but … this is where the knights are.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dating Advice from LI!

The NYT is a mixed bag for LI readers this Sunday. There is the abstinence group article in the NYT magazine, which hangs its hook on the fact that the abstinence group in question forks over tuition at Harvard. I’d prefer an article about a group dedicated to abstinence from writing articles on abstinence groups, myself. It is one of those everyday reminders that the NYT is an incredibly provincial paper, all in all.

The best thing in the paper is James Glanz’ article about the militias in Basra. It almost counterbalances the incredible load of bullshit dumped by Sabrina Tavernise on the innocent reader who desires some clue as to what is going on in Iraq. Think back to the glory days, when NYT journalists were wondering whether Chalabi would be prime minister, or whether the Iraqis would just, unanimously make him king. Tavernise accurately reflects the policy of disconnect and denial that obviously rules in the Bushian Green Zone.

And talking about disconnect and denial – in the Book section there is an essay that drags literature into the ever disheartening world of the Glamour dating quiz by Rachel Donadio. The blogs will be over this like white on rice, and LI, following our new, Lady Bitch Ray driven sprint for popularity, will join them to say that the interesting thing about the essay is the way it tiptoes around a major issue – the startling decline of intelligence among our former lords and masters, the white American male. Ostensibly about conflicting tastes in books and how this plays out in the Indie movie of Valentine Heart relationships that the NYT so cherishes – its bourgeois breath down your neck, you Lords of Acid scumbags – the quotes make it quite clear that the state of play in America is between Dumb and Despairing:

“Let’s face it — this may be a gender issue. Brainy women are probably more sensitive to literary deal breakers than are brainy men. (Rare is the guy who’d throw a pretty girl out of bed for revealing her imperfect taste in books.) After all, women read more, especially when it comes to fiction. “It’s really great if you find a guy that reads, period,” said Beverly West, an author of “Bibliotherapy: The Girl’s Guide to Books for Every Phase of Our Lives.”

Or this: “Manhattan dating is a highly competitive, ruthlessly selective sport,” Augusten Burroughs, the author of “Running With Scissors” and other vivid memoirs, said. “Generally, if a guy had read a book in the last year, or ever, that was good enough.”

Burroughs, however, shows himself a putz in the next sentence: “As he walked to meet him outside Dean & DeLuca, “I saw, to my horror, an artfully worn, older-than-me copy of ‘Proust’ by Samuel Beckett.” That, Burroughs claims, was a deal breaker. “If there existed a more hackneyed, achingly obvious method of telegraphing one’s education, literary standards and general intelligence, I couldn’t imagine it.”

Unwittingly, Burroughs puts his finger on the reason for the stark, hopefully reversible night of ignorance that has fallen on a way too significant portion of the American Male population: the treatment of books as so much fucking impression management in the always popular "hot or not!" contest our dreamland of American Idol judges has cooked up as a national past time. LI could give a fuck about the number of books someone reads, of course - read one, read a hundred thousand. It is the intensity of the third life that counts, the willingness to lose yourself, and to even ask, in the immortal words of my best friend David: what's so important about your life? If you have never gone, like Orpheus in Cocteau's movie, through the mirror, then fuck you, you a nasty motherfucker - that's our general attitude, copped from Kimberley Jones, and we're stickin' with it. The third life switch from literature to action movies and war games affected by the male population is the vast, social wart on our behemoth Uncle Sam’s body – in fact, the wart has taken over the head. Athena’s curse of ate – blindness – is upon the sex. Remember, the next time you hear some bourgeois idiot like Burroughs make fun of some soul reading a used book, or – dating advice from LI! – the man you are going out with calmly states he isn’t a “reader”, look closely at his mouth. The blood of Iraqis is dribbling from his lips.