Dear Followers, Friends, fellow Workers:

I have just begun a new blog/zine called
Chirot Zero Zine A Heap of Rubble--
Anarkeyology of hand eye ear notations
the blog is more exusively concerned than this one with presenting essays, reviews (inc. "bad reviews") , Visual Poetry, Sound Poetry, Event Scores, Manifestos, Manifotofestos, rantin' & raving, rock'roll, music all sorts--by myself and others--if you are interested in being a contributor, please feel free to contact me at
as with this blog, the arts are investigated as a part of rather than apart from the historical, economic, political actualities of yesterday, today, & tomorrow
as with al my blogs--
contributions in any language are welcome

Free Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard Peltier
The government under pretext of security and progress, liberated us from our land, resources, culture, dignity and future. They violated every treaty they ever made with us. I use the word “liberated” loosely and sarcastically, in the same vein that I view the use of the words “collateral damage” when they kill innocent men, women and children. They describe people defending their homelands as terrorists, savages and hostiles . . . My words reach out to the non-Indian: Look now before it is too late—see what is being done to others in your name and see what destruction you sanction when you say nothing. --Leonard Peltier, Annual Message January 2004 (Leonard Peltier is now serving 31st year as an internationally recognized Political Prisoner of the United States Government)

Injustice Continues: Leonard Peltier Again Denied Parole

# Injustice continues: Leonard Peltier denied parole‎ - By Mahtowin A wave of outrage swept the progressive community worldwide at the news that Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier was denied parole on Aug. ... Workers World - 2 related articles » US denies parole to American Indian activist Leonard Peltier‎ - AFP - 312 related articles » # Free Leonard Peltier 2009 PRISON WRITINGS...My Life Is My Sun Dance Leonard Peltier © 1999. # Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance - by Leonard Peltier, Harvey Arden - 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages Edited by Harvey Arden, with an Introduction by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, and a Preface by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. In 1977, Leonard Peltier... - # Leonard Peltier, American Indian Activist, Denied Parole And Won't ... Aug 21, 2009 ... BISMARCK, ND — American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, imprisoned since 1977 for the deaths of two FBI agents, has been denied parole ... - Cached - Similar - #

Gaza--War Crime: Collective Punishment of 1.5 Million Persons--Recognized as "The World's Largest Concentration Camp"

Number of Iraquis Killed Since USA 2003 Invasion began

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator

US & International Personnel losses in Iraq &Afghanistan; Costs of the 2 Wars to US

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America's War On Iraq: 4,667

Number Of International Occupation Force Troops Slaughtered In Afghanistan : 1,453


Cost of War in Iraq


Cost of War in Afghanistan

The cost in your community

flickr: DEATH FROM THIS WINDOW/DOORS OF GUANTANAMO--Essays, Links, Video-- US use of Torture

VISUAL POETRY/MAIL ART CALL Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual

Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual

No Sieges, Tortures, Starvation & Surveillance
Deadline/Fecha Limite: SinsLimite/ongoing
Size: No limit/Sin Limite
No Limit on Number of Works sent
No Limit on Number of Times New Works Are Sent
Documentation: on my blog
David Baptiste Chirot
740 N 29 #108
Milwaukee, WI 53208

Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'

Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'

The current 'Miss Universe' Dayana Mendoza (formerly Miss Venezuela) and 'Miss America' Crystal Stewart visited US troops stationed in Guantanamo Bay on March 20th, the New York Times reports. Here's Mendoza's account of the visit from her pageant blog last Friday. She says the trip "was a loooot of fun!"

This week, Guantánamo!!! It was an incredible experience...All the guys from the Army were amazing with us. We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting. We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.

The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour. We went to the glass beach, and realized the name of it comes from the little pieces of broken glass from hundred of years ago. It is pretty to see all the colors shining with the sun. That day we met a beautiful lady named Rebeca who does wonders with the glasses from the beach. She creates jewelry with it and of course I bought a necklace from her that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay :)

I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Brasscheck TV: The Department of Assassination


Is there a branch of the US government
that carries out assassinations?

There sure is - and it didn't start
with Bush Jr. or Cheney.

Like all good government programs,
this one has its own bureaucracy.

Here's how it works:

- Brasscheck

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Friday, July 17, 2009

The Dictionaries of Received Ideas & the Devil-- -Gustave Flaubert & Ambrose Bierce

Actual words set in fictional contexts, fictional words set within actual texts

can be used for a wide variety of intentions and creations. Hoaxes are a sport played in the pages of many a dictionary, interrupting the solid structure of "actuality and its definitions" with the deliberately planted "weed in the garden."

The displacements of words and/or meanings provide the means for codes, hidden in plain sight messages and the distribution of mis- and dis-information.

The "trustworthiness" of dictionaries at times needs to be undermined t remind person that one cannot believe everything on reads, sees, hears and touches.

"Seeing is believing;" does this mean that reading is also "believing." In the case of texts considered authoritative or written by "an authority," readers believe what is written as fact with the same "willing suspension of disbelief" that they bring to fiction.

Propaganda is based on this ability to have people believe as much in fictions as in realities, and to ignores realities as being "pure fictions".

The world wide web is an open filed day 24/7 for the vast and immediate distribution of extremely damaging mis/dis-informations, as well as the proliferation of small in-jokes among a group of friends.

The Travel Literature of the period 16800-1800 is riddled and abundantly rife with texts which mixed plagiarism, mistranslations, distranslations; their items of fact walking among completely fictional landscapes--and not surprisingly emerged --as the foundation for the first modern novels of Defoe and Sterne, who were considered past masters of the faked plagiarized fictional/factual travel literature. The fictional works of Defoe, for example, still walk the high wire of being at once "documents" and "fictions." His guidebook to Madagascar and its flora, fauna, inhabitants, landscapes was still in use in the latter part of the 19th Century--though "in fact" it was "a complete fiction." The famous search for the Northwest Passage inspired no end of maps and accounts of voyages of discovery which had unerringly found this Natural Panama Canal and yet, for some reason, none of those using the discoverer's acc ount as a book ever manged to duplicate its Miraculous Feat of Navigation.

The "unknown" areas of the "New World" were for imagaintive and heroic travelers who sat in their chairs and, using other previously published accounts, sewed and collaged together their own texts, always making sure to also salt and pepper the reheated dishes with some new "discoveries" and various heart pounding adventures among the long fascinating Patagonians, a people who were reputed to be ten feet tall.

These books were so popular that they had to be compiled at year's end as fat, roly-poly editions of several books compressed into one volume. Of course the editor of these compilations would throw in some new discoveries of his own as he transposed the texts of another into the truly unruly compendiums celebrating yet another great year of Magnificent Discoveries and Fantastical Frauds and Imaginary Inhabitants of Pirated Places.

Jorge Luis Borges created a profusion of fictional dictionaries, encyclopedias and reference books. In this area he was followed by Roberto Bolano and his invented encyclodpia of Nazi Literature of the Americas.

The Dictionaries of Flaubert and Ambrose Bierce, though written in different centuries, were published in the same years: 1911-1912.

While both authors are attacking the "received ideas" of language used all the time, all around one, Bierce does so from a negative viewpoint, while Flaubert uses the examples of stupidity in themselves, directly quoted, as a means of "exposing them."

One might say that Bierce, in the tradition of Poe, America's first Literary "Tommy Hawk Man" goes for the jugular analytically, in terms of style, meanings, ideas, usages of grammar and punctuation. Like Poe he mercilessly dissects the never ending lack of clarity in both language and thought that is creating the monstrosities that he sees lurking below the placid surfaces of "Everyday American Life."

Flaubert's method is to apply his obsession with finding "le mot juste," the exact word, to have stupidity "portray" itself in uttering the "received ideas" in al their stifling horror. Working as both poet and documentarian, Flaubert makes use of the treasures accumulated during a lifetime fascination of writing down overheard and found written words. By choosing and arrangeing just the right phrases and words, with such accuracy, you can hear the voices saying aloud the platitudes as one reads them.

What is amazing is how many of both Flaubert's and Bierce's found phrases and ideas survive today; one can hear or read them in 2009 America as clearly as in Flaubert's 1850's-1870's France and Bierce's 1880s-1912 USA.

These are also the last books on which each author was still working at the time of their respective death and disappearance. Even though Bierce's collection was published as he was still alive, he had worked on it so long--it had originated as newspaper columns in the 1880s-- it had become, like Flaubert's incomplete book, and their shared subject, "never ending." (Bierce set out for Mexico in 1913 as a Journalist at the height of the Villa-led uprisings and was never heard from again.)

For today's examples, the letter "I" has been chosen because Bierce says it is the first letter of the alphabet--and of everything else--

Here are statements by the authors regarding their shared subjects & projects:

Flaubert's "Compilation of Stupidities"

In a letter to Louis Bouilhet from 1850, Flaubert wrote: "Such a book, with a good preface in which the motive would be stated to be the desire to bring the nation back to Tradition, Order and Sound Conventions—all this so phrased that the reader would not know whether or not his leg was being pulled—such a book would certainly be unusual, even likely to succeed, because it would be entirely up to the minute." He wrote to Louise Colet in 1852: "No law could attack me, though I should attack everything. It would be the justification of Whatever is, is right. I should sacrifice the great men to all the nitwits, the martyrs to all the executioners, and do it in a style carried to the wildest pitch—fireworks.... After reading the book, one would be afraid to talk, for fear of using one of the phrases in it."


by Ambrose Bierce


_The Devil's Dictionary_ was begun in a weekly paper in 1881, and was
continued in a desultory way at long intervals until 1906. In that
year a large part of it was published in covers with the title _The
Cynic's Word Book_, a name which the author had not the power to
reject or happiness to approve. To quote the publishers of the
present work:

"This more reverent title had previously been forced upon him by
the religious scruples of the last newspaper in which a part of the
work had appeared, with the natural consequence that when it came out
in covers the country already had been flooded by its imitators with a
score of 'cynic' books--_The Cynic's This_, _The Cynic's That_, and
_The Cynic's t'Other_. Most of these books were merely stupid, though
some of them added the distinction of silliness. Among them, they
brought the word 'cynic' into disfavor so deep that any book bearing
it was discredited in advance of publication."

Meantime, too, some of the enterprising humorists of the country
had helped themselves to such parts of the work as served their needs,
and many of its definitions, anecdotes, phrases and so forth, had
become more or less current in popular speech. This explanation is
made, not with any pride of priority in trifles, but in simple denial
of possible charges of plagiarism, which is no trifle. In merely
resuming his own the author hopes to be held guiltless by those to
whom the work is addressed--enlightened souls who prefer dry wines
to sweet, sense to sentiment, wit to humor and clean English to slang.

A conspicuous, and it is hoped not unpleasant, feature of the book
is its abundant illustrative quotations from eminent poets, chief of
whom is that learned and ingenius cleric, Father Gassalasca Jape,
S.J., whose lines bear his initials. To Father Jape's kindly
encouragement and assistance the author of the prose text is greatly


first entry in Bierce's Dictionary: "I"
in Flaubert's Dictionary it is: "Ice Cream"


I is the first letter of the alphabet, the first word of the language,
the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection. In
grammar it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number. Its
plural is said to be _We_, but how there can be more than one myself
is doubtless clearer the grammarians than it is to the author of this
incomparable dictionary. Conception of two myselfs is difficult, but
fine. The frank yet graceful use of "I" distinguishes a good writer
from a bad; the latter carries it with the manner of a thief trying to
cloak his loot.

ICE CREAM It is dangerous to eat it.
ICE-CREAM MEN All Neapolitans.
IDEALISM The best of the philosophic systems.
IDEALS Perfectly useless.
IDEOLOGISTS Every newspaperman is an ideologist.
IDIOTS Those who think differently from you.
IDLERS All Parisians are idlers, although nine out of ten Parisians come from the provinces. In Paris nobody works.
IDOLATERS Are cannibals.
ILIAD Always followed by the Odyssey.
ILLEGIBLE A doctor's prescription should be. Likewise your signature-- it shows that you are swamped with correspondence.
ILLUSIONS Pretend to have had a great many, and complain that you have lost them all. {MB2.10]
IMAGES There are always too many in poetry.
IMAGINATION Always 'lively'. Be on your guard against it. When you lack it, attack it in others. To write a novel, all you need is imagination.
IMMORALITY Properly enunciated, this word confers prestige on the user.
IMPERIALISTS All respectable, polite, peaceable, distinguished people.
IMPIETY Thunder against it.
IMPORTS Canker at the heart of trade.
IMPRESARIO Artist's word meaning manager. Always preceded by 'clever'.
INCOGNITO The dress of princes on their travels.
INCOMPETENCE Always 'utter'. The more incompetent you are, the more ambitious you must be.
INCRUSTATION Applies only to mother-of-pearL
INDIARUBBER Made of horse's scrotum.
INDOLENCE Effect of warm climates.
INFANTICIDE Committed only among the lower classes.
INFINITESIMAL Nobody knows what it means, but it has something to do with homeopathy.
INKWELL A suitable present for a doctor.
INNATE IDEAS Make fun of them.
INNOCENCE Proved by absolute calm.
INNOVATION Always 'dangerous'.
INQUISITION Its crimes have been greatly exaggerated.
INSCRIPTION Always 'cuneiform'.
INSPIRATION (POETIC) Aroused by: the sight of the sea, love, women, etc. [MB2.2]
INSTINCT Substitute for intelligence.
INSTITUTE The members are all old men who wear green silk eyeshades.
INSTRUMENT If it has been used to commit a crime, it is always 'blunt', unless it happens to be sharp.
INSULT Must always be washed out in blood.
INSURRECTION 'The holiest of duties' (Blanqui).
INTEGRITY Found particularly in the judiciary.
INTERVAL Always too long.
INTOXICATION Always preceded by 'mad'.
INTRIGUE The gateway to everything.
INTRODUCTION Obscene word.
INVASION Brings tears to your eyes.
INVENTORS All die in the workhouse. Somebody else profits by their genius: it isn't fair.
ITALIANS All musical. All treacherous.
ITALY Should be seen during the honeymoon. Is very disappointing, not as beautiful as people say.
IVORY Refers only to teeth.



I is the first letter of the alphabet, the first word of the language,
the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection. In
grammar it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number. Its
plural is said to be _We_, but how there can be more than one myself
is doubtless clearer the grammarians than it is to the author of this
incomparable dictionary. Conception of two myselfs is difficult, but
fine. The frank yet graceful use of "I" distinguishes a good writer
from a bad; the latter carries it with the manner of a thief trying to
cloak his loot.

ICHOR, n. A fluid that serves the gods and goddesses in place of

Fair Venus, speared by Diomed,
Restrained the raging chief and said:
"Behold, rash mortal, whom you've bled--
Your soul's stained white with ichorshed!"

Mary Doke

ICONOCLAST, n. A breaker of idols, the worshipers whereof are
imperfectly gratified by the performance, and most strenuously protest
that he unbuildeth but doth not reedify, that he pulleth down but
pileth not up. For the poor things would have other idols in place of
those he thwacketh upon the mazzard and dispelleth. But the
iconoclast saith: "Ye shall have none at all, for ye need them not;
and if the rebuilder fooleth round hereabout, behold I will depress
the head of him and sit thereon till he squawk it."

IDIOT, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in
human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's
activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action,
but "pervades and regulates the whole." He has the last word in
everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and
opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes
conduct with a dead-line.

IDLENESS, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of
new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.

IGNORAMUS, n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge
familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know
nothing about.

Dumble was an ignoramus,
Mumble was for learning famous.
Mumble said one day to Dumble:
"Ignorance should be more humble.
Not a spark have you of knowledge
That was got in any college."
Dumble said to Mumble: "Truly
You're self-satisfied unduly.
Of things in college I'm denied
A knowledge--you of all beside."


ILLUMINATI, n. A sect of Spanish heretics of the latter part of the
sixteenth century; so called because they were light weights--
_cunctationes illuminati_.

ILLUSTRIOUS, adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and

IMAGINATION, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint

IMBECILITY, n. A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting
censorious critics of this dictionary.

IMMIGRANT, n. An unenlightened person who thinks one country better
than another.

IMMODEST, adj. Having a strong sense of one's own merit, coupled with
a feeble conception of worth in others.

There was once a man in Ispahan
Ever and ever so long ago,
And he had a head, the phrenologists said,
That fitted him for a show.

For his modesty's bump was so large a lump
(Nature, they said, had taken a freak)
That its summit stood far above the wood
Of his hair, like a mountain peak.

So modest a man in all Ispahan,
Over and over again they swore--
So humble and meek, you would vainly seek;
None ever was found before.

Meantime the hump of that awful bump
Into the heavens contrived to get
To so great a height that they called the wight
The man with the minaret.

There wasn't a man in all Ispahan
Prouder, or louder in praise of his chump:
With a tireless tongue and a brazen lung
He bragged of that beautiful bump

Till the Shah in a rage sent a trusty page
Bearing a sack and a bow-string too,
And that gentle child explained as he smiled:
"A little present for you."

The saddest man in all Ispahan,
Sniffed at the gift, yet accepted the same.
"If I'd lived," said he, "my humility
Had given me deathless fame!"

Sukker Uffro

IMMORAL, adj. Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard
to the greater number of instances men find to be generally
inexpedient comes to be considered wrong, wicked, immoral. If man's
notions of right and wrong have any other basis than this of
expediency; if they originated, or could have originated, in any other
way; if actions have in themselves a moral character apart from, and
nowise dependent on, their consequences--then all philosophy is a
lie and reason a disorder of the mind.


A toy which people cry for,
And on their knees apply for,
Dispute, contend and lie for,
And if allowed
Would be right proud
Eternally to die for.


IMPALE, v.t. In popular usage to pierce with any weapon which remains
fixed in the wound. This, however, is inaccurate; to impale is,
properly, to put to death by thrusting an upright sharp stake into the
body, the victim being left in a sitting position. This was a common
mode of punishment among many of the nations of antiquity, and is
still in high favor in China and other parts of Asia. Down to the
beginning of the fifteenth century it was widely employed in
"churching" heretics and schismatics. Wolecraft calls it the "stoole
of repentynge," and among the common people it was jocularly known as
"riding the one legged horse." Ludwig Salzmann informs us that in
Thibet impalement is considered the most appropriate punishment for
crimes against religion; and although in China it is sometimes awarded
for secular offences, it is most frequently adjudged in cases of
sacrilege. To the person in actual experience of impalement it must
be a matter of minor importance by what kind of civil or religious
dissent he was made acquainted with its discomforts; but doubtless he
would feel a certain satisfaction if able to contemplate himself in
the character of a weather-cock on the spire of the True Church.

IMPARTIAL, adj. Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage
from espousing either side of a controversy or adopting either of two
conflicting opinions.

IMPENITENCE, n. A state of mind intermediate in point of time between
sin and punishment.

IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity.

IMPOSITION, n. The act of blessing or consecrating by the laying on
of hands--a ceremony common to many ecclesiastical systems, but
performed with the frankest sincerity by the sect known as Thieves.

"Lo! by the laying on of hands,"
Say parson, priest and dervise,
"We consecrate your cash and lands
To ecclesiastical service.
No doubt you'll swear till all is blue
At such an imposition. Do."

Pollo Doncas

IMPOSTOR n. A rival aspirant to public honors.


His tale he told with a solemn face
And a tender, melancholy grace.
Improbable 'twas, no doubt,
When you came to think it out,
But the fascinated crowd
Their deep surprise avowed
And all with a single voice averred
'Twas the most amazing thing they'd heard--
All save one who spake never a word,
But sat as mum
As if deaf and dumb,
Serene, indifferent and unstirred.
Then all the others turned to him
And scrutinized him limb from limb--
Scanned him alive;
But he seemed to thrive
And tranquiler grow each minute,
As if there were nothing in it.
"What! what!" cried one, "are you not amazed
At what our friend has told?" He raised
Soberly then his eyes and gazed
In a natural way
And proceeded to say,
As he crossed his feet on the mantel-shelf:
"O no--not at all; I'm a liar myself."

IMPROVIDENCE, n. Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues
of to-morrow.

IMPUNITY, n. Wealth.

INADMISSIBLE, adj. Not competent to be considered. Said of certain
kinds of testimony which juries are supposed to be unfit to be
entrusted with, and which judges, therefore, rule out, even of
proceedings before themselves alone. Hearsay evidence is inadmissible
because the person quoted was unsworn and is not before the court for
examination; yet most momentous actions, military, political,
commercial and of every other kind, are daily undertaken on hearsay
evidence. There is no religion in the world that has any other basis
than hearsay evidence. Revelation is hearsay evidence; that the
Scriptures are the word of God we have only the testimony of men long
dead whose identity is not clearly established and who are not known
to have been sworn in any sense. Under the rules of evidence as they
now exist in this country, no single assertion in the Bible has in its
support any evidence admissible in a court of law. It cannot be
proved that the battle of Blenheim ever was fought, that there was
such as person as Julius Caesar, such an empire as Assyria.

But as records of courts of justice are admissible, it can easily
be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were
a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which
certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a
flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges' decisions based on it
were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was
ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery
for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human
testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.

INAUSPICIOUSLY, adv. In an unpromising manner, the auspices being
unfavorable. Among the Romans it was customary before undertaking any
important action or enterprise to obtain from the augurs, or state
prophets, some hint of its probable outcome; and one of their favorite
and most trustworthy modes of divination consisted in observing the
flight of birds--the omens thence derived being called _auspices_.
Newspaper reporters and certain miscreant lexicographers have decided
that the word--always in the plural--shall mean "patronage" or
"management"; as, "The festivities were under the auspices of the
Ancient and Honorable Order of Body-Snatchers"; or, "The hilarities
were auspicated by the Knights of Hunger."

A Roman slave appeared one day
Before the Augur. "Tell me, pray,
If--" here the Augur, smiling, made
A checking gesture and displayed
His open palm, which plainly itched,
For visibly its surface twitched.
A _denarius_ (the Latin nickel)
Successfully allayed the tickle,
And then the slave proceeded: "Please
Inform me whether Fate decrees
Success or failure in what I
To-night (if it be dark) shall try.
Its nature? Never mind--I think
'Tis writ on this"--and with a wink
Which darkened half the earth, he drew
Another denarius to view,
Its shining face attentive scanned,
Then slipped it into the good man's hand,
Who with great gravity said: "Wait
While I retire to question Fate."
That holy person then withdrew
His scared clay and, passing through
The temple's rearward gate, cried "Shoo!"
Waving his robe of office. Straight
Each sacred peacock and its mate
(Maintained for Juno's favor) fled
With clamor from the trees o'erhead,
Where they were perching for the night.
The temple's roof received their flight,
For thither they would always go,
When danger threatened them below.
Back to the slave the Augur went:
"My son, forecasting the event
By flight of birds, I must confess
The auspices deny success."
That slave retired, a sadder man,
Abandoning his secret plan--
Which was (as well the craft seer
Had from the first divined) to clear
The wall and fraudulently seize
On Juno's poultry in the trees.


INCOME, n. The natural and rational gauge and measure of
respectability, the commonly accepted standards being artificial,
arbitrary and fallacious; for, as "Sir Sycophas Chrysolater" in the
play has justly remarked, "the true use and function of property (in
whatsoever it consisteth--coins, or land, or houses, or merchant-stuff,
or anything which may be named as holden of right to one's own
subservience) as also of honors, titles, preferments and place, and
all favor and acquaintance of persons of quality or ableness, are but
to get money. Hence it followeth that all things are truly to be
rated as of worth in measure of their serviceableness to that end; and
their possessors should take rank in agreement thereto, neither the
lord of an unproducing manor, howsoever broad and ancient, nor he who
bears an unremunerate dignity, nor yet the pauper favorite of a king,
being esteemed of level excellency with him whose riches are of daily
accretion; and hardly should they whose wealth is barren claim and
rightly take more honor than the poor and unworthy."

INCOMPATIBILITY, n. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly
the taste for domination. Incompatibility may, however, consist of a
meek-eyed matron living just around the corner. It has even been
known to wear a moustache.

INCOMPOSSIBLE, adj. Unable to exist if something else exists. Two
things are incompossible when the world of being has scope enough for
one of them, but not enough for both--as Walt Whitman's poetry and
God's mercy to man. Incompossibility, it will be seen, is only
incompatibility let loose. Instead of such low language as "Go heel
yourself--I mean to kill you on sight," the words, "Sir, we are
incompossible," would convey and equally significant intimation and in
stately courtesy are altogether superior.

INCUBUS, n. One of a race of highly improper demons who, though
probably not wholly extinct, may be said to have seen their best
nights. For a complete account of _incubi_ and _succubi_, including
_incubae_ and _succubae_, see the _Liber Demonorum_ of Protassus
(Paris, 1328), which contains much curious information that would be
out of place in a dictionary intended as a text-book for the public

Victor Hugo relates that in the Channel Islands Satan himself--
tempted more than elsewhere by the beauty of the women, doubtless--
sometimes plays at _incubus_, greatly to the inconvenience and alarm
of the good dames who wish to be loyal to their marriage vows,
generally speaking. A certain lady applied to the parish priest to
learn how they might, in the dark, distinguish the hardy intruder from
their husbands. The holy man said they must feel his brown for horns;
but Hugo is ungallant enough to hint a doubt of the efficacy of the

INCUMBENT, n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.

INDECISION, n. The chief element of success; "for whereas," saith Sir
Thomas Brewbold, "there is but one way to do nothing and divers way to
do something, whereof, to a surety, only one is the right way, it
followeth that he who from indecision standeth still hath not so many
chances of going astray as he who pusheth forwards"--a most clear
and satisfactory exposition on the matter.

"Your prompt decision to attack," said Genera Grant on a certain
occasion to General Gordon Granger, "was admirable; you had but five
minutes to make up your mind in."

"Yes, sir," answered the victorious subordinate, "it is a great
thing to be know exactly what to do in an emergency. When in doubt
whether to attack or retreat I never hesitate a moment--I toss us a

"Do you mean to say that's what you did this time?"

"Yes, General; but for Heaven's sake don't reprimand me: I
disobeyed the coin."

INDIFFERENT, adj. Imperfectly sensible to distinctions among things.

"You tiresome man!" cried Indolentio's wife,
"You've grown indifferent to all in life."
"Indifferent?" he drawled with a slow smile;
"I would be, dear, but it is not worth while."

Apuleius M. Gokul

INDIGESTION, n. A disease which the patient and his friends
frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the
salvation of mankind. As the simple Red Man of the western wild put
it, with, it must be confessed, a certain force: "Plenty well, no
pray; big bellyache, heap God."

INDISCRETION, n. The guilt of woman.

INEXPEDIENT, adj. Not calculated to advance one's interests.

INFANCY, n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth,
"Heaven lies about us." The world begins lying about us pretty soon

INFERIAE, n. [Latin] Among the Greeks and Romans, sacrifices for
propitiation of the _Dii Manes_, or souls of the dead heroes; for the
pious ancients could not invent enough gods to satisfy their spiritual
needs, and had to have a number of makeshift deities, or, as a sailor
might say, jury-gods, which they made out of the most unpromising
materials. It was while sacrificing a bullock to the spirit of
Agamemnon that Laiaides, a priest of Aulis, was favored with an
audience of that illustrious warrior's shade, who prophetically
recounted to him the birth of Christ and the triumph of Christianity,
giving him also a rapid but tolerably complete review of events down
to the reign of Saint Louis. The narrative ended abruptly at the
point, owing to the inconsiderate crowing of a cock, which compelled
the ghosted King of Men to scamper back to Hades. There is a fine
mediaeval flavor to this story, and as it has not been traced back
further than Pere Brateille, a pious but obscure writer at the court
of Saint Louis, we shall probably not err on the side of presumption
in considering it apocryphal, though Monsignor Capel's judgment of the
matter might be different; and to that I bow--wow.

INFIDEL, n. In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian
religion; in Constantinople, one who does. (See GIAOUR.) A kind of
scoundrel imperfectly reverent of, and niggardly contributory to,
divines, ecclesiastics, popes, parsons, canons, monks, mollahs,
voodoos, presbyters, hierophants, prelates, obeah-men, abbes, nuns,
missionaries, exhorters, deacons, friars, hadjis, high-priests,
muezzins, brahmins, medicine-men, confessors, eminences, elders,
primates, prebendaries, pilgrims, prophets, imaums, beneficiaries,
clerks, vicars-choral, archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors,
preachers, padres, abbotesses, caloyers, palmers, curates, patriarchs,
bonezs, santons, beadsmen, canonesses, residentiaries, diocesans,
deans, subdeans, rural deans, abdals, charm-sellers, archdeacons,
hierarchs, class-leaders, incumbents, capitulars, sheiks, talapoins,
postulants, scribes, gooroos, precentors, beadles, fakeers, sextons,
reverences, revivalists, cenobites, perpetual curates, chaplains,
mudjoes, readers, novices, vicars, pastors, rabbis, ulemas, lamas,
sacristans, vergers, dervises, lectors, church wardens, cardinals,
prioresses, suffragans, acolytes, rectors, cures, sophis, mutifs and

INFLUENCE, n. In politics, a visionary _quo_ given in exchange for a
substantial _quid_.

INFRALAPSARIAN, n. One who ventures to believe that Adam need not have
sinned unless he had a mind to--in opposition to the Supralapsarians,
who hold that that luckless person's fall was decreed from the
beginning. Infralapsarians are sometimes called Sublapsarians without
material effect upon the importance and lucidity of their views about

Two theologues once, as they wended their way
To chapel, engaged in colloquial fray--
An earnest logomachy, bitter as gall,
Concerning poor Adam and what made him fall.
"'Twas Predestination," cried one--"for the Lord
Decreed he should fall of his own accord."
"Not so--'twas Free will," the other maintained,
"Which led him to choose what the Lord had ordained."
So fierce and so fiery grew the debate
That nothing but bloodshed their dudgeon could sate;
So off flew their cassocks and caps to the ground
And, moved by the spirit, their hands went round.
Ere either had proved his theology right
By winning, or even beginning, the fight,
A gray old professor of Latin came by,
A staff in his hand and a scowl in his eye,
And learning the cause of their quarrel (for still
As they clumsily sparred they disputed with skill
Of foreordination freedom of will)
Cried: "Sirrahs! this reasonless warfare compose:
Atwixt ye's no difference worthy of blows.
The sects ye belong to--I'm ready to swear
Ye wrongly interpret the names that they bear.
_You_--Infralapsarian son of a clown!--
Should only contend that Adam slipped down;
While _you_--you Supralapsarian pup!--
Should nothing aver but that Adam slipped up.
It's all the same whether up or down
You slip on a peel of banana brown.
Even Adam analyzed not his blunder,
But thought he had slipped on a peal of thunder!


INGRATE, n. One who receives a benefit from another, or is otherwise
an object of charity.

"All men are ingrates," sneered the cynic. "Nay,"
The good philanthropist replied;
"I did great service to a man one day
Who never since has cursed me to repay,
Nor vilified."

"Ho!" cried the cynic, "lead me to him straight--
With veneration I am overcome,
And fain would have his blessing." "Sad your fate--
He cannot bless you, for AI grieve to state
This man is dumb."

Ariel Selp

INJURY, n. An offense next in degree of enormity to a slight.

INJUSTICE, n. A burden which of all those that we load upon others
and carry ourselves is lightest in the hands and heaviest upon the

INK, n. A villainous compound of tannogallate of iron, gum-arabic and
water, chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote
intellectual crime. The properties of ink are peculiar and
contradictory: it may be used to make reputations and unmake them; to
blacken them and to make them white; but it is most generally and
acceptably employed as a mortar to bind together the stones of an
edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal afterward the rascal
quality of the material. There are men called journalists who have
established ink baths which some persons pay money to get into, others
to get out of. Not infrequently it occurs that a person who has paid
to get in pays twice as much to get out.

INNATE, adj. Natural, inherent--as innate ideas, that is to say,
ideas that we are born with, having had them previously imparted to
us. The doctrine of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths
of philosophy, being itself an innate idea and therefore inaccessible
to disproof, though Locke foolishly supposed himself to have given it
"a black eye." Among innate ideas may be mentioned the belief in
one's ability to conduct a newspaper, in the greatness of one's
country, in the superiority of one's civilization, in the importance
of one's personal affairs and in the interesting nature of one's

IN'ARDS, n. The stomach, heart, soul and other bowels. Many eminent
investigators do not class the soul as an in'ard, but that acute
observer and renowned authority, Dr. Gunsaulus, is persuaded that the
mysterious organ known as the spleen is nothing less than our
important part. To the contrary, Professor Garrett P. Servis holds
that man's soul is that prolongation of his spinal marrow which forms
the pith of his no tail; and for demonstration of his faith points
confidently to the fact that no tailed animals have no souls.
Concerning these two theories, it is best to suspend judgment by
believing both.

INSCRIPTION, n. Something written on another thing. Inscriptions are
of many kinds, but mostly memorial, intended to commemorate the fame
of some illustrious person and hand down to distant ages the record of
his services and virtues. To this class of inscriptions belongs the
name of John Smith, penciled on the Washington monument. Following
are examples of memorial inscriptions on tombstones: (See EPITAPH.)

"In the sky my soul is found,
And my body in the ground.
By and by my body'll rise
To my spirit in the skies,
Soaring up to Heaven's gate.

"Sacred to the memory of Jeremiah Tree. Cut down May 9th, 1862,
aged 27 yrs. 4 mos. and 12 ds. Indigenous."

"Affliction sore long time she boar,
Phisicians was in vain,
Till Deth released the dear deceased
And left her a remain.
Gone to join Ananias in the regions of bliss."

"The clay that rests beneath this stone
As Silas Wood was widely known.
Now, lying here, I ask what good
It was to let me be S. Wood.
O Man, let not ambition trouble you,
Is the advice of Silas W."

"Richard Haymon, of Heaven. Fell to Earth Jan. 20, 1807, and had
the dust brushed off him Oct. 3, 1874."


"See," cries the chorus of admiring preachers,
"How Providence provides for all His creatures!"
"His care," the gnat said, "even the insects follows:
For us He has provided wrens and swallows."

Sempen Railey

INSURANCE, n. An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player
is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating
the man who keeps the table.

INSURANCE AGENT: My dear sir, that is a fine house--pray let me
insure it.
HOUSE OWNER: With pleasure. Please make the annual premium so
low that by the time when, according to the tables of your
actuary, it will probably be destroyed by fire I will have
paid you considerably less than the face of the policy.
INSURANCE AGENT: O dear, no--we could not afford to do that.
We must fix the premium so that you will have paid more.
HOUSE OWNER: How, then, can _I_ afford _that_?
INSURANCE AGENT: Why, your house may burn down at any time.
There was Smith's house, for example, which--
HOUSE OWNER: Spare me--there were Brown's house, on the
contrary, and Jones's house, and Robinson's house, which--
HOUSE OWNER: Let us understand each other. You want me to pay
you money on the supposition that something will occur
previously to the time set by yourself for its occurrence. In
other words, you expect me to bet that my house will not last
so long as you say that it will probably last.
INSURANCE AGENT: But if your house burns without insurance it
will be a total loss.
HOUSE OWNER: Beg your pardon--by your own actuary's tables I
shall probably have saved, when it burns, all the premiums I
would otherwise have paid to you--amounting to more than the
face of the policy they would have bought. But suppose it to
burn, uninsured, before the time upon which your figures are
based. If I could not afford that, how could you if it were
INSURANCE AGENT: O, we should make ourselves whole from our
luckier ventures with other clients. Virtually, they pay your
HOUSE OWNER: And virtually, then, don't I help to pay their
losses? Are not their houses as likely as mine to burn before
they have paid you as much as you must pay them? The case
stands this way: you expect to take more money from your
clients than you pay to them, do you not?
INSURANCE AGENT: Certainly; if we did not--
HOUSE OWNER: I would not trust you with my money. Very well
then. If it is _certain_, with reference to the whole body of
your clients, that they lose money on you it is _probable_,
with reference to any one of them, that _he_ will. It is
these individual probabilities that make the aggregate
INSURANCE AGENT: I will not deny it--but look at the figures in
this pamph--
HOUSE OWNER: Heaven forbid!
INSURANCE AGENT: You spoke of saving the premiums which you would
otherwise pay to me. Will you not be more likely to squander
them? We offer you an incentive to thrift.
HOUSE OWNER: The willingness of A to take care of B's money is
not peculiar to insurance, but as a charitable institution you
command esteem. Deign to accept its expression from a
Deserving Object.

INSURRECTION, n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection's failure
to substitute misrule for bad government.

INTENTION, n. The mind's sense of the prevalence of one set of
influences over another set; an effect whose cause is the imminence,
immediate or remote, of the performance of an involuntary act.

INTERPRETER, n. One who enables two persons of different languages to
understand each other by repeating to each what it would have been to
the interpreter's advantage for the other to have said.

INTERREGNUM, n. The period during which a monarchical country is
governed by a warm spot on the cushion of the throne. The experiment
of letting the spot grow cold has commonly been attended by most
unhappy results from the zeal of many worthy persons to make it warm

INTIMACY, n. A relation into which fools are providentially drawn for
their mutual destruction.

Two Seidlitz powders, one in blue
And one in white, together drew
And having each a pleasant sense
Of t'other powder's excellence,
Forsook their jackets for the snug
Enjoyment of a common mug.
So close their intimacy grew
One paper would have held the two.
To confidences straight they fell,
Less anxious each to hear than tell;
Then each remorsefully confessed
To all the virtues he possessed,
Acknowledging he had them in
So high degree it was a sin.
The more they said, the more they felt
Their spirits with emotion melt,
Till tears of sentiment expressed
Their feelings. Then they effervesced!
So Nature executes her feats
Of wrath on friends and sympathetes
The good old rule who don't apply,
That you are you and I am I.

INTRODUCTION, n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the
gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies. The
introduction attains its most malevolent development in this century,
being, indeed, closely related to our political system. Every
American being the equal of every other American, it follows that
everybody has the right to know everybody else, which implies the
right to introduce without request or permission. The Declaration of
Independence should have read thus:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights; that among these are life, and the right to
make that of another miserable by thrusting upon him an
incalculable quantity of acquaintances; liberty, particularly the
liberty to introduce persons to one another without first
ascertaining if they are not already acquainted as enemies; and
the pursuit of another's happiness with a running pack of

INVENTOR, n. A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels,
levers and springs, and believes it civilization.

IRRELIGION, n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.

ITCH, n. The patriotism of a Scotchman.

Squeeze Play: Israel Keeps Gaza on Near-Starvation Diet

Chris Floyd: Squeeze Play: Israel Keeps Gaza on Near-Starvation Diet

Videos +Links: Cynthia McKinney, the Israeli Navy, and $4 billion worth of natural gas off Gaza

Cynthia McKinney, the Israeli Navy, and $4 billion worth of natural gas off Gaza

by Ann Garrison

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On June 30th 2009, Israeli Naval gunships surrounded the Spirit of Humanity, a boat used by the Free Gaza Movement, in international waters 60 miles off the coast of Israel, and arrested twenty-one activists, from 11 countries, including former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who had boarded the Spirit of Humanity in Lamaco, Cyprus, with medical aid, toys, and building supplies, hoping to carry them to Gaza's besieged Palestinian population.

They had hoped not only to deliver aid, but also to challenge the illegal blockade imposed by the Israeli government on Gaza.

Upon her release and return, Cynthia McKinney spoke to WBAIX-New York, from New York's JFK Airport, where she reported that the Israeli Navy had towed the "Spirit of Humanity," not directly to Port Ashdod, but, on a circuitous route, bypassing the Gaza Coast.  This, she said, suggested that the Israeli Navy is engaged in activity that they do not want observed in the off the Gaza Strip, known to be the site of billions of dollars worth of natural gas reserves.

Barack Obama, in his speech proposing U.S. reconciliation with the Moslem world, in Cairo, Egypt, on 06.03.2009, said nothing of the estimated $4 billion worth of natural gas off the Coast of Gaza, nor of the oil and natural gas in Iraq, Iran, or Sudan, or, the pipeline projects to move Central Asian oil and natural gas through through Afghanistan, and other parts of Central Asia.

Israel has two oil and natural gas drilling platforms north of Gaza, which some believe they are using to slant drill into Gaza's natural gas reserves. 

Here's former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney on the Israeli Navy's circuitous route to shore, with the Spirit of Humanity in tow:

Here are links to more reporting and analysis:

Geopolitical Time Line: War, Natural Gas and Gaza's Marine Zone; article by David K. Schermerhorn in Global Research

Stealing Gaza's Gas, Amnesty International, Free Gaza Team

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza's Offshore Gas Fields
by Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research

Gaza siege and natural gas: Gaza siege intensified after collapse of natural gas deal,  Mark Turner, The Electronic Intifada

Energy Security Challenges for Israel Following the Gaza War: by Gal Luft, Executive Director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, Journal of Energy Security

War and Gaza's natural gas: A Ramattan TV interview with Alfred Lambremont Webre, international lawyer in Vancouver.

This report first appeared on,


Video: Siclian Anarchist History--Un grido attaccato al muro 5/6

Video: Spanish Civil War--I MANIFESTI DELLA RIVOLUZIONE SPAGNOLA (A) 1936 / 39 1' Parte

Blue Moon - Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley - I Forgot To Remember To Forget

George Jones - If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)

Human Rights Group Seeks Probe of Mass Graves in Afghanistan

Human Rights Group Seeks Probe of Mass Graves in Afghanistan

EU Eyes Exports From Occupied Palestinian Territories Settlements Labeled "Made In Israel"

EU Eyes Exports From Occupied Palestinian Territories Settlements Labeled "Made In Israel"

Posted: 17 Jul 2009 01:15 PM PDT

A German legal dispute over imports from Israel's settlements in the occupied territories could lead to the imposition of customs duties

By Ralf Beste and Christoph Schult

As the largest Israeli settlement in the Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank, Maale Adumim is home to 40,000 people. Bulldozers are clearing lots for new houses on its outskirts. Its population is growing by the week and, in recent years, it has grown faster than any other settlement.

On the edge of the settlement's industrial zone, there is a factory operated by a company called Soda-Club. The steel gate is painted blue and green to match the company's curvy, modern-looking logo. A camera records the movements of anyone approaching the gate. The plant produces tabletop devices that add carbonation to flat water, like the ones used in many German kitchens. And for those who prefer a sweeter taste, there's also syrup coming out of Maale Adumim.
Journalists are not welcome to visit Soda-Club. As Marketing Director Asaf Snear claims on the telephone, it's to protect against industrial espionage.
But there's another reason behind this aversion to media attention: Soda-Club's products are at the center of a legal dispute with Germany that could significantly intensify the already heated debate over Israel's settlement policy.
The Hamburg Finance Court must now decide whether Soda-Club devices made in Maale Adumim can be imported into the European Union duty-free, like all other Israeli industrial products. Brussels doesn't want the company's products to fall into this category because they are manufactured in Israeli settlements located in the occupied territories.

The real question revolves around whether Maale Adumim is part of Israel. The EU has not formally recognized Israel's claim to Maale Adumim and other settlements. But, in practice, it has done little to stand in the way of Israeli settlement activities.

But that could now change. The Hamburg court has consulted with the European Court of Justice about obtaining a "preliminary ruling" that would settle the issue in a binding manner for all 27 EU member states. The decision is expected to come down in the coming months. If the court decides that a customs duty can be assessed, it will be tantamount to handing down a decision against Israel's settlement policy. The delicate question at hand is whether Germany and the EU should accept how Israel handles the occupied territories or should wield their sharpest sword — economic sanctions.
A 'Highly Explosive Case'

In formal terms, the judges are merely being asked to reach a decision about €19,155.46. Brita GmbH, a German company, had imported Soda-Club water-carbonating machines and syrup from Maale Adumim. The company also labeled the products as being "Made in Israel" and claimed that they should consequently be exempt from customs duties.
But the main customs office in Hamburg's harbor refused to allow this policy to continue. German customs agents contacted their Israeli counterparts to find out where exactly the products were made. When the response came, it said that they had been made in an area "under Israeli customs administration." When the Hamburg agents wrote back, asking whether the products had actually been manufactured in Israeli settlements, they received no response. So the Germans slapped a duty on the products.
Then Brita filed a lawsuit against this decision. The matter quickly made its way to the EU Commission, which wants to use the legal dispute over Soda-Club to make an example of Israel. In an internal memo, it has asked EU member states for "support." The German Foreign Ministry is monitoring the "highly explosive case" with some interest — and a certain amount of sympathy.
The EU is already prepared for confrontation when it comes to Israel's new nationalist, right-wing government. The 27 EU foreign ministers have temporarily put a planned diplomatic "upgrading" of relations with Israel on hold.
Now Europe hopes to use the customs dispute to apply additional pressure on Israel. The EU is the second-largest market for Israeli goods, after the United States. In 2008, for example, Israeli companies exported €12 billion ($16.8 billion) in goods to Europe. An estimated one-third of these goods are either fully or partially made in the occupied territories. Most apparently reach Europe duty-free, and an Israeli reimbursement fund for exports subject to duties was hardly used at all last year.
In response to EU pressure, Jerusalem signed an agreement in 2005 that requires every Israeli exporter to provide the customs agency with the location and postal code of the factory where any given product was produced. But when Israeli importers deliberately declare an incorrect place of origin, customs agents  are powerless to react.
The situation has aggravated the British government and prompted it to urge the other 26 EU member states to agree on a procedure that would allow consumers to see exactly where Israeli goods come from. The proposal makes many Israelis uneasy. Could this mean, they worry, that European governments will soon be telling consumers: "Don't buy from Jews"?

Given the country's history, this is understandably a very sensitive issue in Germany. This makes it all the more surprising that the German government has been willing to openly comment on the Soda-Club affair. In response to a parliamentary question from the opposition Green Party, the government has said that there can be no exemption from customs duty for "goods from the occupied territories."
Meanwhile, the Soda-Club company is doing exactly what many Israelis do when it comes to the Palestinian conflict — ignoring the problem. When asked for Soda-Club's reaction to people criticizing it for manufacturing its products in a settlement, Marketing Director Snear says: "Soda-Club is a non-apolitical company."

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

AbuGhraib: Image Galleries--Updates June '09

image galleries

Gaza and the Language of Power By Ramzy Baroud

By Ramzy Baroud
Gaza and the Language of Power
Once again, Israel is resorting to its traditional propaganda (such as equating Palestinians with Nazis), drawing on people's historical sympathies, guilt and ignorance of false analogies. And once again, it is the brute logic that "might makes right" pursued by those with the bigger guns, that continues to menace the Middle East, with Gaza being the most devastating example.

The Nation: A new collection of C.P. Cavafy's beautiful, musical poems

Mixing History and Desire
MARIA MARGARONIS | A new collection of C.P. Cavafy's beautiful, musical poems

ICRC: Israel Traps Gazans in Deprivation and Despair

By Stephen Lendman
ICRC: Israel Traps Gazans in Deprivation and Despair
Gazans - trapped in the world's largest open-air prison, under siege for over two years, getting way inadequate outside help, and none whatever from Western powers that support Israel's slow-motion genocide against a civilian population unable to stop it

Physicians for Human Rights: Afghan General Dostum Denies Allegations of Massacre of Taliban Confrims Surrender to US/Afghan Forces

Physicians for Human Rights: Afghan General Dostum Denies Allegations of Massacre of Taliban Prisoners; Confirms Their Joint Surrender to US and Afghan Forces

Video: War Crimes and the White House: The Bush Administration's Cover-Up of the Dasht-e-Leili Massacre

War Crimes and the White House: The Bush Administration's Cover-Up of the Dasht-e-Leili Massacre

Video: Israeli Soldiers' Revelations from Gaza

Israeli Soldiers' Revelations from Gaza

Honduras: Repression Intensifies--Contact Your Representatives Here

Dear david-baptiste,

The situation in Honduras is getting worse each day since the SOA graduate-led military coup against the government of President Manuel Zelaya.

The Committee of Family Members of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) published a report yesterday, detailing hundreds of cases of human rights abuses committed by the coup regime, including four political assassinations. You can take a stand against this injustice right now:

No to the Military Coup! Urge your Representative to Take a Stand for Democracy!

Despite US government claims that they've cut all military ties with the Honduran golpistas, the SOA continues to train Honduran soldiers. This is not real support for democracy.

Representatives Bill Delahunt, José Serrano and Jim McGovern have introduced a resolution that calls for the return to democracy and the reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya as President of Honduras. Click here to ask your Representative to take a stand for democracy by suspending operations of the SOA and restoring the rightful government of Honduras!

Our Emergency Response Delegation has returned from Honduras. We continue to be in close contact with the Frente de Resistencia Contra el Golpe en Honduras, a newly-formed network of Honduran grassroots groups that are working against the military coup.

Because of your support, we were able to help coordinate a delegation of leaders in the anti-coup resistance in Washington, including a Honduran Congressman; a former presidential candidate and human rights leader, and a lawyer with the attorney general's office. SOA Watch set up meetings with the State Department, Congressional leaders, and the Honduran delegation was also able to connect with grassroots activists and members of the Honduran community here in DC. Together, we are raising our voices for justice!

Thank you for your generous support of our shared work. A member of the SOA Watch delegation decided to match five thousand dollars, making your contributions count twice as much.

In response to our super successful first matching donation appeal, another supporter stepped up and pledged to match up to another five thousand, as long as we receive the donations before the end of July. If you haven't yet contributed, or if you're able to spare another $20 or more, please give today.

As ever, thank you for your amazing efforts in the last few weeks. Together, we will continue standing strong in the face of injustice with our brothers and sisters in Honduras who will restore their rights to democracy, sovereignty and struggle.

Lisa Sullivan
SOA Watch Latin America Coordinator

You received this email because you are subscribed to the SOA Watch email list. To stop all emails from SOA Watch, click here. Our mailing address: SOA Watch, PO Box 4566, Washington, DC 20009

More Dubious Secrets: Systematic Overclassification of Defense Information Poses Challenge for President Obama's Secrecy Review

National Security Archive Update, July 17, 2009


Systematic Overclassification of
Defense Information Poses Challenge
for President Obama's Secrecy Review

For more information contact:
William Burr - 202/994-7000

Washington, DC, July 17, 2009 - Pentagon classification authorities are treating classified historical documents as if they contain today's secrets, rather than decades-old information that has not been secret for years. Today the National Security Archive posted multiple versions of the same documents--on issues ranging from the 1973 October War to anti-ballistic missiles, strategic arms control, and U.S. policy toward China--that are already declassified and in the public domain. What earlier declassification reviewers released in full, sometimes years ago, Pentagon reviewers have more recently excised, sometimes massively. The overclassification highlighted by these examples poses a major problem that should be addressed by the ongoing review of national security information policy that President Obama ordered on May 27, 2009. New presumptions against classification that may be added to an executive order on national security information will not, in isolation, end overclassification. Rigorous oversight, accompanied by improved training and consequences for improper classification are essential.

The Public Interest Declassification Board is continuing to accept ideas and comments on the classification system through Sunday July 19 at its online blog:

Among the dubious secrets in today's posting is the Air Force's recent decision to classify the fact that the Nixon administrated ordered a DEFCON [Defense Readiness Condition] 3 alert during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. An excised Air Force history, released in 2009, conceals what is well known to historians, journalists, and the interested public: in the early morning of 25 October 1973, at the height of the Arab-Israeli War, the Nixon administration put U.S. military forces on higher alert--DEFCON 3. Defense Secretary James Schlesinger and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger ordered the DEFCON to deter a feared Soviet intervention in the Middle East conflict. The Nixon White House could not keep this a secret and news of the alert soon reached the national media, with The New York Times explaining to its readers what a DEFCON meant. More recently, U.S. government agencies have declassified documents mentioning the DEFCON 3 alert. In spite of the precedents and an appeal pointing out the previous disclosures, the Air Force today will not acknowledge the fact of the DEFCON, claiming that disclosure would cause "serious damage to the national security."

The Obama administration's review of U.S. secrecy policy should take examples like these into account when it tries to develop a credible system for classifying and declassifying information about U.S. foreign relations and military policy. Declassification standards for historical information (25 years old or older) should not mirror those used to declassify current information. Neither historians, taxpayers, nor the secrecy system itself are well-served when declassification reviewers treat historical classified information in the same way as today's secrets. This doesn't mean a laissez-faire attitude; in some areas--such as nuclear weapons design data and names of confidential informants--there is a public interest in secrecy, but the objective should be high walls around the most sensitive information, and the walls should be torn down when they are not needed.

Please visit the National Security Archive Web site for more information.

Public Interest Declassification Board -


THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

Voyages to the Moon--from Poe's Hoaxes, Verne's Fictions, Melies' Cinema to Apollo & Faked Moon Landings and on to Mars

In honor of the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing--
reposting this from March 2008

"collage of images from Georges Melies' A Trip to the Moon


Vision Travels
Seeing in to the Future and Discovering the Past is Already There

“It is a science fiction film set in the Past.”—Fellini on his Satyricon

for Petra Backonja's "Balloonery"

( Times article printed in full below also)

The release of these DVDS of Melies' work is one of the major film events--art events -- of this or any other year.

During the days of the Landing on the Moon, I was living in a tiny apartment in Paris at an address that i learned later had once been Rimbaud's, with a tiny cell of Anarchists who worked at the Renault factory. As we made plastiques, the French TVs stacked in a Nam June Paik arrangement against a disintegrating wall had the usual collection of "Philosophes" and experts discussing the American triumph in the Race to the Moon.

(The courtyard of the Old Soldiers Home Rimbaud describes in a poem was still there, below the windows, at the time--and still with Old Soldiers dozing in the sun. Perhaps one of them evens a long preserved "model" for Rimbaud's eyes a century earlier.)

Ah!! But!!--A commentator pointed out that actually the FRENCH had ALREADY BEEN TO THE MOON!
After all Jules Verne had sent Americans there first in his novel, and Melies had filmed this in the first years of the twentieth century!!
The film by Melies was then shown as "proof" that indeed, the French had been their first, in Verne's sending a novel's Americans there, or via the cinema of Georges Melies.

(The French experts conveniently forgot that Melies also made use of H. G Wells' First Men in the Moon.)

In an ongoing series "After Rimbaud's Illuminations" is my account of this:

Jean-Pierre is cooking horsemeat in blood and wine with garlic. It makes the cramped L shaped apartment in the slowly collapsing building all the hotter. Marcel is showing me how to make plastiques. His hard hands work slowly so I may learn. For once we are not smoking with cigarettes hanging from our lips. We are not suicidal after all. Certainly not on such a night. Marcel says three girls are coming. We will fuck them in the ass. He says they are very tight this way. But no children you see, he says, no complications. The three stacked tvs are talking incessantly about the approaching moon landing. Some famous person is saying that in Jules Verne's books and Melies' very early film classic the French have been there first. You see what assholes they are Marcel says. They think they own history. With these little bombs we will make a hole in history and then--and then--the people will rush in. The little bombs are almost done and Jean-Pierre is calling us to come eat meat and blood and wine and garlic. We will light candles but not say Grace. The three virgins are coming for us. Perhaps one can enter heaven backwards. It is very hot in here. ---

One might see the American version being the Lumiere Brothers’ rival form of cinema to that of Melies.--a technical recording of "objective events." A "cinema verite" combined with a reportage by Dziga Vertov's agit-prop train mobilized Kino Pravda, "remade" with the dull efficiency of American television and NASA footage.

Illustration of Verne's Projectile

“The story bears similarities to the real-life Apollo program:
• Verne's cannon was named the Columbiad; the Apollo 11 command module was named Columbia.
• The spacecraft crew consisted of three persons in each case.
• The physical dimensions of the projectile are very close to the dimensions of the Apollo CSM.
• Verne's voyage blasted off from Florida, as did all Apollo missions. (This is possibly due to Verne realizing, as NASA later did, that objects launch into space most easily if they are launched from the earth's equator, and Florida is the nearest part of the American mainland.)
The character of "Michel Ardan" in the novel was inspired by Nadar.”

Apollo Liftoff

Jules Verne, portrait by Nadar

Nadar was the famous photographer who made portraits of Verne and Baudelaire and in later life became celebrated as a balloonist.

Nadar caricatured by Honore Daumier--photography & flight giving birth to "aerial reconaissance"--


This movement form photography to flight was not lost on the fledging proto-Air Forces of the First World War, during the last years of which the American photographer Steichen created an immense body of aerial reconnaissance photo documentation of the “theater of war” and founding of new forms of analysis by the military in preparations for the next Wars.
(Steichen's experiences with the American Expeditonary Forces in WW1, of which he retained possesion amazingly enough of tens of thousands of photos, inspired his return to work for the Naval Dept of Photography and Film in WW2 at age 62.)

Nadar self portrait as a solo "avant-garde" Aviator-Artist-Aerial Reconaissance Agent

The Space Race is not only one of rocketry, but literally of who may “see further in to the future” within ever decreasing spaces of time as the speeds of the flying machines continually accelerate and eventually interface with those of the electronic media.
However, as the transmissions became ever more virtual—as the Moon Landing became televised—this viewing on a screen by millions in a proliferated “personal” “home entertainment system” rapidly depleting the cinemas of the world—reasserted the doubled nature of the old “magical thinking/rationality” of Poe and Melies, even as Technology was achieving finally that “Dream” of humankind.

Astronauts Training in a Mock up of Moon Landing at NASA

So, via the Conspiracy theorists, the “recorded live” Technological Feat was re-transformed into the Melies genre as the Faked Moon Landing, filmed in studios and broadcast "live" from sets and recordings, filmed with "actor-astronauts" and the stilted staccato speech of technicians which Tom Wolfe writes about in The Right Stuff, so seemingly at odds with the magnitude of the realization of a voyage hitherto only imagined and dreamed of.
(An old issue of LIFE I have re the moon landing has a truly awful poem by James Dickey written re the occasion. This particular poet isn’t any more adept at putting into words the event than the supposedly unimaginative astronauts and technicians.)

One of the reasons given for generating the Conspiracy Theories of yet another Moon Hoax is the difference between these images--top: the original transmission scan image, and below, the SST converted image

Capricorn One: The set where the "Mars Landing" "takes place for the cameras"

The "Real" Landing on Mars: View from Viking 1978

Transposed to a Mars Landing, the conspiracies found "major box office" expression in the 1978 film Capricorn One starring Rock Hudson, in which the spacecraft is identical to the Apollo One used to reach the moon.

(As I write, it is rumored that in the 40th anniversary of Capricorn One will at last be celebrated by the production and release of Capricorn Two. For years the film has been rumored, and a TV series pilot was developed . . . adding more fuel to the fires of conspiracy theories and urban legends of faked and real Martian Landings)

The first photo taken on the surface of Mars, Viking, 21 July 1976

For an excellent introduction to the myriad conspiracy theories and links see:
Apollo Moon Landing hoax theories - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Daguerrotype of Poe in 1848, a year before his death

A Balloon Hoax: the model of the Victoria

So--not only had the Americans originally gone to the moon and faked going there first, they were doing so all over again over a century later!

Nadar: Charles Baudelaire--Poet, Dandy, Art Critic, Inventor of the Prose Poem and Translator and Posthumous Poe Promoter Sans Pareil

d-b Chirot

"In 1854 Charles Baudelaire translated Edgar Allan Poe's works into French. Verne became one of the most devoted admirers of the American author, and wrote his first science fiction tale, 'A voyage in Balloon' (1851), under the influence of Poe. Later Verne would write a sequel to Poe's unfinished novel, Narrative of a Gordon Pym, entitled The Sphinx of the Ice-Fields (1897)."

Verne's Columbiad on the way to the Moon

d-b Chirot

Sadly, more than Wolfe points out, there is however a significant decline in the language used for the events, real or hoaxed, from that of Edgar Poe to that of James Dickey and Network Television and NASA. And in Capricorn One for that matter!

Perhaps the Space Voyagers of the Future may learn from Melies and Poe a doubled awareness of the imaginary elements at the heart of the "real," and the ultra high octane propulsion concocted of fiction, hoaxes, magic (Melies was a stage magician by trade) and their doubled, punning senses of "exposure" in film (and as news stories, as "developing news" in Poe's case) as at once the "developing" of "real/reel images" of the "set" and fictional stories and dialogues, and as fictions which "expose" the "real/reel" which presents story-plots and conspiracy-plots which end up "fore-telling" the "documented events" of their futures which are in turn perceived almost immediately as possibly being "hoaxes" via the "plot elements" "planted" in the "original versions."

In "The Philosophy of Composition," and in various other essays, including the one excerpted below, Poe notes that the primary goal of a poem is the achievement of a desired effect, a Philosophy not unlike that of the Magician Melies who creates effects "out of thin air." The effect demonstrates to the audience the presence of a reality which without the poet or magician goes unseen. To make visible the invisible and invisible the visible, to chart the voyages back and forth and in-between these realms, to double back and forth between "real/reel" effects and the illusions which create them, and the illusionary effects created by actual materials, (the materials & techniques of the poem Poe writes of, the materials & techniques Melies uses as film maker) is to produce the new genres of "science-fiction" and "sci-fi cinema" which in turn inspire and "fore-tell" historical events and their "documentations. Which in turn become suspected of being, after all, conspiracy plots making use of "science fiction" and "sci-fi cinema" techniques and effects.

"A skilful artist has constructed a tale. He has not fashioned the thoughts to accommodate his incidents, but having deliberately conceived a certain single effect to be wrought, he then invents such incidents, he then combines such events, and discusses them in such tone as may best serve him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very first sentence tend not to the out-bringing of this effect, then in his very first step has he committed a blunder. In the whole composition there should be no word written of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one preestablished design."

Edgar Allan Poe, n his third essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne, for the November 1847 issue of Godey's Lady's Book

The hoaxing poet who invented the detective who uses rational methods of thought to solve fictional crimes based on "real events" as they are occurring and reported on as "developing news" in the first "newspaper wars" ("The Mystery of Marie Roget" as superbly investigated in Daniel Stashower's The Beautiful Cigar Store Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe and the Invention of Murder) and the magician turned film maker who uses fictions to "develop a real/reel document" may be seen as creating the contemporary "scene." A "scene" in which combinings of hoaxes and forgeries in the creation of historical events such as the Iraq War and the proliferations of disinformations, edited and altered "documents" and "footage" manipulate and propel the "spectacular events" and ”dramatic effects" which constitute "daily life" in a media-saturated globalized "theater of war" called "the War on Terror."
In the visions of Poe and Melies, one finds a doubling of "magical thinking" and technology
in which rational and irrational thoughts and desires combine for the attainment of an effect which is simultaneously an illusion and a reality. This destabilizing creates an "uncertainty principle" at the core of technology's aspirations to "objectivity" in the creation of "developing news" and "reports on progress." The "magical/poetic" effect produced introduces "Conspiracy Theory" as an integral element in the Propaganda of the Real/Reel.

Via the doublings of "magical/poetic effects" and technology as a "fore-telling", is a reply Poe made to American critics' attacks on his seemingly "foreign" (mainly "German") tales compared to the more wholesome "American" fare of his peers. "Terror is not of Germany, but of the Soul." And so via the Soul there enters "the Global War on Terror."

And also for both Poe and Melies, the Space Race, the desire to find other globes to which to travel, explore, whether as”real/reel developments," or as hoaxes and magic tricks the "effectiveness" of which may in turn be used as the inspiration for ever more technologically spectacular and spectral "effects"--with which literally to "bombard" "target audiences" and create also the "scenes of carnage" known as "accidents" and "collateral damage."
An in this way, "effects" become the producers of yet another genre, another aspect of the "Philosophy of Composition" and "magic/camera tricks--"side effects"—
Which open new vistas—incite new visions---create rhizomatic proliferations—in an acceleration of viruses and anti-viruses –plunging into the “oceans of space”—those Oceans on the Moon from which the Verne/Melies/Apollo return to land in the Oceans of Earth—those pages, screens, images, virtualities, “sets” and “fakes” and “documentaries”—traveling at once into the future and into the past and so creating this indeterminancy known as the present---
(and in the vision of Paul Virilio, the “Accident of Accidents” which happens in Real Time--)

Viking Mars Lander with human to show size scale (1/100 millionth of Kevin Costner's Ego)

An interesting side effect of the Moon Landings costing so much was that, in order for President Regan to envision the construction of a “ Star Wars” missile defense system—a fantasy project named after a film—
NASA funding was cut—and within less than two decades it was noted the the first mission to Mars which landed there and moved about, exploring and analyzing the surface, the atmosphere, photographing and videotaping the views—cost less than it took for Kevin Costner to make the box office failure futurist fantasy “Waterworld.”
Ever in box office competition, Moon Voyages, Mars Missions, and the cinema—
The cinema which in turn gives names to fantasy “Star Wars” military programs costing billions—and creates boondoggles such as “Waterworld”—losing hundreds of millions—
While cheaply and efficiently a Mission lands on Mars and introduces cinematography to the future Martian audiences back on Earth—

Viking View of Mars Surface

Many of them convinced all the while that what they are watching—has not yet escaped the studios of Melies’ filmed theatrical & magical staged productions of 19th Century novels.

Melies as an old man, poor & forgotten running a train station shop with his wife

Space travel, time travel—imaginary, real, faked—at the intersections of magic and technology—of documentary news and fictions—of literal history and literary history—of photography, cinema, television and flying machines—
Flickering fire lit images on cave walls traveling through time into cinemas—into living rooms—and into space—from the stone walls underground to the surfaces of the Moon and Mars—
Vision travels--

"Lunar Discoveries"
Lithograph that appeared in the New York Sun, Friday, October 16, 1835

1836 Italian Edition of "The Moon Hoax" published in Naples

“Poe predates Verne and Wells, as well as the Melies brothers, with his own voyage to the moon. Poe published "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans PFaall" in the June 1835 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe's voyager travels to the moon in a balloon (see Poe's "The Balloon Hoax" for another 'steampunk' fantasy). While Poe planned for this to be the first installment in a series designed as a hoax, the New York Sun began a six part series which came to be known as the "Great Moon Hoax" in the August 25, 1835 edition of the daily newspaper. These articles proclaimed the discovery of life on the Moon. The fake author of the article, Dr. Andrew Grant, reported the discoveries were made by real life astronomer Sir John Herschel using a newly developed telescope. The hoax describes fantastic animals on the Moon, as well as trees and oceans, and bat-like humanoids who have built temples. The true author of the article has been attributed to reporter Richard Adams Locke, although he never publicly admitted to being the author. Reportedly, while Sir Herschel was amused at his name and fame being used in the article, he later became disturbed whenever confronted with questions from people who took the hoax as true. Feeling that his story was too far fetched by comparison, Poe gave up on the idea of any more articles furthering his 'voyage to the moon' hoax.”

Richard Adams Locke

Authorship of the hoax is usually attributed to Richard Adams Locke, a Cambridge-educated reporter who was working for the Sun. However, Locke never publicly admitted to being the author of the hoax, and rumors have persisted that others were also involved in the production of the story. Two men in particular have been mentioned in connection with the hoax: Jean-Nicolas Nicollet, a French astronomer who was travelling through America at the time (though he was in Mississippi, not New York, when the moon hoax appeared), and Lewis Gaylord Clark, editor of the Knickerbocker Magazine. However, there is no real evidence to suggest that anyone but Locke was the author of the hoax.

"Despite the intense public speculation about the moon story, the Sun never publicly conceded that it was a hoax. On September 16, 1835 the Sun did publish a column in which it discussed the possibility that the story was a hoax, but it never confessed to anything. Quite the contrary. It wrote that, "Certain correspondents have been urging us to come out and confess the whole to be a hoax; but this we can by no means do, until we have the testimony of the English or Scotch papers to corroborate such a declaration." This is the closest the Sun ever came to an admission of guilt."

New DVDs: Georges Méliès

Flicker Alley
Georges Méliès plays a scientist who inflates a severed head (also Méliès) in “The Man By DAVE KEHR
Published: March 18, 2008

Flicker Alley
A scene from Georges Méliès’s “Impossible Voyage” (1904).

There is an often repeated story about Georges Méliès, probably apocryphal but highly poetic. In 1895 Méliès, a professional magician and the owner of a small theater along the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris, approached the Lumière Brothers, the inventors of the process that enabled motion pictures to be projected on a large screen, with the intention of licensing the process to make films for his theater. The Lumières rebuffed him.
“The motion picture is an invention without a future,” Antoine Lumière supposedly proclaimed, no doubt feeling that he was doing Méliès a favor by refusing him the rights to what would certainly be a short-lived fad.
What we do know is that Méliès went to one of the Lumières’ many rivals, the British inventor Robert W. Paul, and bought a primitive projector. With his assistants he built his own camera and set to work.
By June of 1896, filming largely in the garden of his home in the Parisian suburb Montreuil, in a studio he had built based on the exact dimensions of his theater, Méliès embarked on a series of productions. These short films grew from two or three minutes to half an hour or more, and drew on his vast imaginative powers and the tricks he had learned as a successful stage magician to create an outpouring of special-effects extravaganzas. Often hand-colored and designed to be shown with live narrative accompaniment; his films soon toured the world, playing a central role in the establishment of the new medium.
By 1903 Méliès was successful enough to open a branch office in New York (at 204 East 38th Street) under the direction of his brother Gaston (who himself produced several significant early westerns in the wilds of New Jersey). Other booking offices opened in Berlin, Barcelona and London, and Méliès was on his way to becoming one of the first international film moguls.
From the ambitious new company Flicker Alley comes “Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913),” a major act of scholarship produced by Eric Lange and David Shepard that brings together surviving Méliès films from eight countries. The five-disc box set, with more than 170 titles and a total running time of 13 hours, includes prints patiently pieced together from incomplete sources all over the world. Among the highlights are hand-colored versions of several of Méliès’s spectaculars, some presented for the first time accompanied by the detailed narrations that he wrote for their public showings.
His technique essentially consisted of extended, frontally filmed scenes presented in continuous takes. Meant to capture the experience of sitting in his boulevard theater, his style was far more suited to the presentation of elaborate tableaus than to the telling of stories. Even a film as well known as “A Trip to the Moon” (1902) relies on spoken word rather than visual style to flesh out its characters and develop its narration.
The Lumière Brothers — scientists and industrialists — saw their invention as a way of dispassionately recording reality for study purposes, but Méliès was their temperamental and professional opposite: a veteran showman who saw in the new technology a bigger and better way of continuing to bamboozle the public that flocked to his magic shows.
Many of his early films are simply cinematic variations on classic stage illusions: sudden appearances and disappearances, made possible by his discovery that you could stop the camera, introduce some new props and actors, and then start it up again. To audiences of the time, these transformations seemed miraculous.
Méliès learned to structure a series of magical effects into a provisional narrative (stage magicians were doing the same thing), and in the process helped set the form for the 10-minute story films that were soon to emerge in Britain and the United States. His “Temptation of Saint Anthony” from 1898 presents that holy man afflicted by the sudden appearances and disappearances of chorus girls in tights: perhaps not anthropologically accurate, but a highly satisfying spectacle for the sensation-seekers of the Parisian boulevards.
But another, equally important influence on Méliès was the magic lantern shows, often incorporated into magicians’ performances in fairs and urban music halls, which presented a single view — of an old mill at the top of a stream, for example — that moved and mutated, thanks to ingenious mechanical devices. The earliest Méliès “hits,” like “The Man With the Rubber Head” (1901), represent magic lantern ideas continued by other means, in this case, a severed head (Méliès’s own) inflated to gigantic proportions by a scientist (Méliès again) equipped with a pair of bellows.
As Méliès films became longer and more elaborate (most famously, “A Trip to the Moon,” but also 1904’s “Impossible Voyage” and 1905’s “Palace of the Arabian Nights”), the individual effects grew in technical complexity and artistic ambition. But the films remained progressions of disconnected scenes — a series of disruptively different “views,” changed by an invisible operator — rather than seamless narrations.
That, and Méliès’s apparent inability to conceive of cutting within a scene, made his work seem distinctly old-fashioned. (Right up to his final film in 1913, “The Voyage of the Bourrichon Family,” he continued to shoot each scene as a single shot from a fixed, rather distant position.)
As the first decade of the 20th century drew to a close, Méliès found himself surpassed by other filmmakers and eventually lost his business. By 1925 he was installed in a stand at the Gare Montparnasse, where he and his wife sold snacks and trinkets to travelers (the premise for Brian Selznick’s recent children’s book, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”).
But Méliès may yet have the last word. It is his universe of nearly complete artificiality, built out of painted flats and camera tricks, that has come to dominate the aesthetic of popular film in the digital age. Films as different as “Zodiac” and “The Golden Compass” may use computer-generated imagery — created through the magic of manipulated pixels, rather than optical effects and painted backgrounds — to replace the observable world, but the ultimate end is the same: to transport the viewer into a sphere of untrammeled imagination.
There are moments these days when a filmgoer may pine for at least a touch of Lumière-style realism in the increasingly insular, abstract world of popular entertainment: a touch of the actual to offset the imagined. But for the moment, we are living in the movie world created by Georges Méliès more than a century ago, smug in the illusion that we are experiencing the very latest thing. (Flicker Alley, $89.95, not rated.)
Day One: Tuesday Morning, August 25, 1835