I'm commonly accused of being an apocalyptic fetishist, of calling imminent dark days that may be very, very far off, part of an entirely different time scale of slow decline, centuries of decadence.

But hell, if these are being sighted on the freeway, the gasoline and gore soaked Mad Maxing of the Western civilizational project may be closer than even I would have wagered. (Or more plausibly, the ground shipping industry has learned its lesson from the oceans and is prepping for the asphalt equivalent of Somali piratical requisitioning.)

(Thanks to Mark for sending this my way.)


I know Aaron from a while back. He was my undergraduate thesis advisor, and he is alarmingly smart. Sadly can't be there for this, but any in the area should not miss. I'll be next in this series on September 6 to talk apocalypse and films of surplus life and yawning graves, any of you phantom readers out there who live in the LA area.

Permanently modern

Been out for a bit now, but for those interested, read Jameson's piece on Alexander Kluge's new behemoth and get excited for the partial resurrection of Eisenstein. We'll do a proper screening of this in the fall, when we can convince one of our German proficients to loudly spot-translate over the whole thing.

That said, while the sense of "ideological antiquity" drawn out by Jameson (via Kluge's title) is a solid reminder to our rhetorical touchpoints (and the sometimes hidden models against which all being-not-classical is measured), it rather misses what I see as the vital point. For there is indeed the future work - and the work toward a future - that "demands the constitution of an antiquity appropriate to it." But more than that, there is the fact of the near-antiquity always foisted onto us, always reinscribing what we've lived through as belonging to another time, another world "unthinkable" now. In other words,the tumbling of the Berlin Wall, nearing only its 20 year anniversary, marks a sudden antiquation of our recent past. You can't go back, you must go on from here...

What late capitalism has proved itself remarkable at is the uncanny speed of its outmoding and declaring dead and gone. Not via the Futurist and Taylorist fantasies of a world revved up to the speed of light, oiled smooth and calling forth new machinic beasts from toil and the earth. Rather, that we live in the era of making ideologies antiquarian, of being told and telling ourselves what has disappeared (the "Left", labor solidarity, discontent, the "Old World") so that the not long gone starts to feel very far away, unreachable and past. These acts of saying over and over until the trendlines drawn in the sand become real canyons and gulfs, and we start believing what we've been ventriloquizing. Perhaps more at stake is not constituting the right antiquity but declaring what has never been, and never will be, antiquity: the task of shocks and construction of Eisenstein and Marx, finding in the ideological eternality of capitalism a buried call for anything that is not this stale permanence of innovation and accumulation.

Instead, a permanent moderism. One concerned with those hidden linkages that go from the table to the field, the mines to the guttering fuses of the digital world. Not the deadstops and gouges into the continuities of a shared ideological history, but those diagonal cuts that keep the wounds fresh enough to glimpse the connective tissue below, the blood saying, here is what has always been new...

The our of the wolf

Three Little Pigs analogy way to the side and irrelevant, I am the wolf to IT's pig, insofar as all things related to said creature gets me excited. This is nothing new, nothing bound to an airbrush t-shirt moon wolfspirit dreamcatcher. Goes back, back, back to my childhood. I was more of the t-shirt above, made by a small eco/zoological clothing company in Maine, which I owned as a kid. Calendars, posters, Nature Conservancy cassettes of Native American flute mixed with sounds of wolves. Aside from a deep tactile love of large canines, it is the tension between being a pack animal - working together to take down a beast too large for any single wolf to kill - and the stoic snowscape crossing with dead stare that drew me in from day one.

Hence why I like being sent things like this, from IT:

Mark Dion's Mobile Wilderness Unit - Wolf (2006). Keep 'em coming. All things hungry and circling.

Gleam and doom

Emi took this photo in the building near Shinjuku where she's staying right now. As she wrote me:

The attached photo is of the hallway outside my room, but the entire building is this weird, white, immaculate place. You actually have to take your shoes off at the front entrance, put them in a special white box with your number on it, and then don weird navy blue flannel slippers that are far too big, before padding over to the blindingly white elevator.

When alienation doesn't bother hiding itself in a fuzzy cloak of Ikea shag faux-modernism and the free un-choices of contemporary mass politics, it's rather refreshing.

Oh, you think modern life is alienating and atomistic? Leave your shoes at the door, and I'll really show you the cold sterility of non-communal managed living...

(Of course, I'll take this over the fake eccentricity of new vintage anyday. Scuff marks should be made, not bought.)

Horrors: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

Continuing our lycan trail... Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, from 1943. Perhaps more accurately: Larry Talbot Meets Frankstein's Daughter, although decisively not as catchy.

Bela Lugosi as a shambling stiff-jointed mess of a Frankenstein's creation. A tale of never being allowed to die, of monsters freeing their comrades from the embrace of ice, and the horrors of repetition. And the horrors of unnecessary musical numbers that, understandably, provoke wolfish rage.

Thursday, 8:30 PM, my house.

Useless equipment

Over at Planomenology, gestures toward thinking about philosophy proper from a salvage perspective. (However, perhaps not salvagepunk, or not anticapitalist salvage, in that it strays towards the revelling of ruins melancholia that stains this moment. Thought now stands between a triumphalist destructionism or the stillness of witness in the face of slow collapse. Against this, salvagepunk is unfreezing of frozen labor, not setting the depth charges or watching winter come.) Freeing objects to see them in their "weird and inexplicable glory": yes, indeed. But for us, this can only be the work of trying to grasp their idiosyncratic "equipmental" possibilities. Of, at the end of the day, the accidental, unintended qualities of objects and concepts designed to be thrown-away. Strange resilences.

Hence the metaphor of the hard work of picking and choosing, of the trash-picker, of combing the wreckage, etc. Something of worth out of the shitbed of value, that massive glacial thaw across time of frozen labor, human toil stuck in the shape of its coercion and exertion: the shape of a piece of discarded plastic. Some things never unfreeze, or only barely: they will at best be barricades, their residual mass organizing the landscape. Inertia and mass, degraded but non-degradable.

Scratch that

The happy accident consequence of multiple films sharing the same title.

That dead star of immense gravity and uncertain orbit

(This is a preliminary chunk of a piece I'm writing for the upcoming zer0 volume on Michael Jackson, The Resistible Demise of Michael Jakson, coming out this December. This take on Captain EO is part of a broader question about the transition from an artist of tremendous pop cultural value making "apolitical" music to an artist increasingly detached from any sense of which way the cultural wind was blowing, coupled with massive inertia and capital that allowed him to continue to "matter". It is at the extended point of this turn, the moment also of emergent neoliberalism, that the music self-declares as something political: the pseudo-universality of it from after Thriller on, the rise of the maudlin sincerity of NGO culture, the one-world-hypothesis of imposed market relations that couldn't be further from the "there can be but one world" thought of Communism. Here I tackle Captain EO, that child's primer for late capitalist imperialism and the early germ of what Michael will become after the point at which he should have died.)

Things go to glittering shit.

Can't you see?
You're just another part of me.
Woo! Another part of me.

- "We Are Here to Change the World", from Captain EO


A year of surfaces and of what should not have risen to them. Unmoored, unwanted, the cargo ship Khian Sea wandered the oceans with its haul of toxic waste, angling for a trench deep enough and or island unlegislated enough to swallow it. Elsewhere, in the midst of supposed disarmament, domestic nuclear – and nuclear domesticity, finally yuppie-stretched to its breaking point – blew its lid. In Chernobyl, toxic winds blew, sicknesses started and stuck around.

Meanwhile, on other surfaces of public awareness, the hidden-in-plain-view obscenity of U.S. foreign policies of aid and condemnation, support to the lesser evil and funds to the anti-Communist, roared into sight. Ronald Reagan signs the Goldwater-Nichols Act. Early and persistent signs that the war of civilizations was no longer about American freedom versus Stalinist discipline. Rather, the capitalism claimed under lumbering American hegemony, deregulation, and supposed melting all solid national boundaries into the air of wired markets and demilitarized zones of engagement versus the new oldest enemy, unincorporable fundamentalisms, radical Islam.

Neoliberalism starts to hit its stride. The Space Shuttle Challenger goes up, and then up in smoke.

And in the world of culture, Michael Jackson buys a pet chimpanzee, becomes increasingly tabloid-known as estranged from reality, releases Captain EO, and lives on past the point of his death.


From this play of surfaces, deviations, and betrayals, two questions:

What does it mean for a giant to persist past his cultural death, to become a tidal behemoth detached from the ground, and circulating, dictating trends, effecting patterns of resistance and attraction? To not die correctly but to linger on?

How to understand Jackson’s trajectory? An artist of tremendous political and cultural symbolic value who made “apolitical” music. And then who became that cultural behemoth, out of touch with the times, who mattered largely as the slow articulation of a carnival wreckage, yet who increasingly functioned as a “political” artist, his themes dominated by the gloss of globalization-era universality?

Our answer, or any answer capable of grasping this tectonic shift, can only be formed along lines of materialist analysis: a situating of this not-unexpected disaster in its historical moment. That moment is precisely the coming-of-age of neoliberalism and the accompanying cultural forms that provide its illusions of resistance and care. This is the moment of 1986, of Captain EO, which is not only bound to its moment but which is a consummate, unnerving document of the era that points the nasty way forward.

In what way is 1986 a registration, after the fact of his real death 23 years later, of Jackson’s “death”, of his momentous persistence? This is neither a Thriller-esque zombie undead nor a resurrection. Just the sheer force and banal fact of the momentum of those with enough cultural capital to go on, ceaselessly. The dead star. To keep making the same damn moves, increasingly drug-hollowed and haunting, for fans to still cry out and weep for someone whose greatest cultural relevance became his uncanny insistence against innovation in favor of minor recombinations. And not to go out like an Otis Redding, snuffed out mid-burn.

As for the trajectory of the music toward “political” orientation, a chronology explains a lot. In 1988, N.W.A. released Straight Outta Compton. In 1990, Public Enemy released Fear of a Black Planet. And in 1991, in the video for “Black or White,” Michael Jackson has Macaulay Culkin standing on a stoop in “hip-hop” clothes, rapping the words, “I’m not going to spend / My life being a color.”

Race blind.

That level of total and utter disconnect from the way that the cultural wind is blowing is mirrored, in dark inversion, by the deep connection between the “politicization” of his music with the metaphysics, cultural presence, and structure of the NGO (non-governmental organization). The disavowal of enemies that results in the depoliticization of those you colonize. The false universality of inclusion of those enemies who you don’t dare call as such. That massive flow of capital and technics of empire of which the appearance of an under funded bunch of humanitarians is simply the most advanced tactic in the world of the spectacle. That surface skating of the refusal to address systemic change, money and idealism thrown at problems that swallow massive swathes of the world in hunger and war.

In short, when Michael stops making music to dance to and starts making music to convince us – or perhaps himself – to “heal the world.” At the very moment when he begins to address the world at large, and no longer from his singular, uncertain position, is the point where he leaves the world behind for his own peculiar orbit.

Is there something constitutively new in this shift? Is it a great betrayal of what he was, not just in the musical form but in what he meant to people? Perhaps against some others in this volume, I see it as there from the start. A tendency waiting to emerge, for the underground grandiosity of pop music itself to overleap its own boundaries. A body of work of pure surface and shine that may have traversed the machinic march of disco and may have made it into something gorgeously inorganic, but only to welcome the cold new world of the Reagan years.

That is another question, a longer work of division and digging. Here, it is the question not of where the “betrayal” started but where it becomes impossible to ignore, where the contradictions not only of Jackson but of a historical conjuncture gained enough gravity, mass, and hurtling force of repetition to give shape to the years that followed.


To beat up Captain EO, the Francis Ford Coppola directed, George Lucas executive produced, Jackson starring "3-D musical motion picture space adventure" for Disney theme parks, for being reactionary or political problematic would be hitting a dead horse shaped punching bag. Too easy, expected, and not very productive. It is, after all, a Disney production, which pretty much guarantees its ideological fuckedness.

What is worth considering, however, is the particularity of its political awfulness. For, at the end of the day, Captain EO is a child's primer for neoliberal imperialism, anticipating the Washington Consensus era of humanitarian interventions and economic prescriptions in all its self-congratulatory anxiety.

It is also the early triumph of the mass cultural figure that acted, along with the boldness of yuppie consumerism, as capitalism's public relations life-support system: the emergence of NGO culture. The clanging discordance between the brutal consequences of forced reform packages for developing natures and the pious diversity speak of New Age tinged one-worldism. Like a time capsule with blundering aliens, power-of-love musical lasers, and choreographed group dance numbers, Captain EO is a promise to the globalization barbarisms of the near future.

The cosmos.

Of course, its near futurity is cast in the swirling milky garb of a distant galaxy, against the backdrop of the cosmos writ large. A broken glass sound of chimes, surging symphonics, and a twinkle of light (which turns out to be a small asteroid to be destroyed by our heroes). And the narration:

The cosmos. A universe of good and evil where a small group struggles to bring freedom to the countless worlds of despair.

It is no great stretch to hear the prescient echo in this of so much of the neoliberal discourse about the world order. Even the cosmological scale is not out of place, the telescoping slippage between local zones of engagement and an ongoing battle between incompatible conceptions of the universal. Even more, the fraught relation between how to relate these conceptions to the real situations they aim to capture.

What steps in here, then, to this deadlock, is the "small group," presumably on the good side of the cosmological equation. Guerilla freedom fighters, sniping from the mountains against occupying forces? A Leninist vanguard setting off the tinder of international revolution? A messianic group with the holy task conviction of the need to intervene into the course of history? Not exactly: "A ragtag band led by the infamous Captain EO."

The rag-tag bunch. And as always, that military cut of coat.

What distinguishes the fantasy of Captain EO/Michael as freedom-bringing missionary of the unity of the cosmos from these other historical figures isn't so much the soft tone of his speech or the emphasis on love and beauty. (Because as the film shows us, one can speak softly and still carry a big musical number, transforming laser stick.) It is the resolute ahistoricity of the mission he has been assigned, the fantasy of the band of misfits fighting the good fight against a time that has no place for them. Forget the normal difficulty of the small group waging war against imperial orders. They have the double task of convincing history that the era of war is over and of declaring their enemies to be allies all along, who were so clouded with rage and mistrust couldn't see their inner beauty. The aesthetic vanguard no longer burns the museum for being a graveyard. It tells those graves that they have beautiful souls waiting to be unlocked.

Tellingly, Michael's shimmering garb retains that shadow of citation: it is futuristic, technical, pure, and above all, insistent in its vaguely military look. A look that surfaces throughout his costuming, from its Napoleonic incarnations, the red armbands and fake medals, the naval coats and epaulettes and collar stripes, to its peak in the massive statues of him made for HIStory, when the continued demolition of statues of Stalin in the Eastern Bloc met its match in the erection of Michael as dictator, Michael as guarantor and inheritor of history. A bandolier-strapping revolutionary set to rewrite the books of the present to tell his story, an arc in which his fall from grace is neither degradation or misrecognition, but a necessary work of forging this history.

Here, though, nine years before HIStory, we have yet to reach the full fallout of History declared with the end of the Soviet Union and the further totalization of global markets. This burgeoning narrative is a different one. Here, it is precisely that of the ragtag band, the scrappy underfunded heterogeneous crew united by a true belief in their ability to change the world. The ones who latch onto the present with the tenacity of those who know the despair of countless worlds and the conviction of being part of a continued project to bring freedom, to circumvent the normal channels and procedures. They won't be expecting just one man... To be the non-state, non-political actor on the world stage, to be the principle of NGOs without the money and time that makes them possible (and which was the very foundation in 1992 of Jackson's own NGO/charitable organization, the Heal the World Foundation).

Part of the particularity of Jackson's vision in Captain EO is that of a world of scrambling non-expertise, of happy accidents, Inspector Clouseau-like bumbling, and the plucky spirit that will win over hearts and minds in the end.

And the part that most sums this up is the awfulness that is Hooter:

Hooter, a likely ancestor to Jar Jar Binks. Apparently Lucas has long had a fondness for alien characters so insufferable that you pray for their death.

Hooter, the oddly abject multiple trunk-orifice-farting buffoon who constantly derails their plans, exists solely as an excuse to show Captain EO's beneficence, his gentle Christ eyes at those who mean well. Everyone deserves a place in the rickety ship of freedom sharing, especially those who compensate for total incompetence with total idiocy, supposedly endearing to the children at Disney but which I can only imagine as rather terrifying.

The obvious reference through Captain EO, and the touchpoint that reveals the specificity of it as a product of both its historical moment and the trajectory of Jackson as a cultural figure, is the Star Wars trilogy. EO is explicitly a Star Wars reloaded, from its special effects to its "quirky" side characters. Yet it inflects not only the look and trope of the film, but, more than that, the not-so-buried undercurrents of it. In other words,
the cultural seepage of Lucas' trilogy is taken as a given for watchers of Captain EO: Jackson's Lucas-film exists only in the minimal differences it draws out between itself and its source material.

The framing device and minor cues are all there: from the talented but not respected savior gifted with mysterious powers, to the "oh, Hooter" that may as well be "oh, R2." Yet when we approach the crew's destination, things start to go off-kilter, and the messianic imperial clarity of Star Wars warps in Jackson's anamorphic lens.

A world of trash, a world worth defending

From afar, this is Death Star, part two, with a spacefighter chase through its channels pulled directly from Star Wars. Then we get closer... and it turns out to be a world of scrap, a
refashioned landfill, cobbled and salvaged into something liveable. This junk aesthetic continues to the henchmen of the Supreme Leader, rising from the piles of industrial waste, legions of filth and fury.

Whatever they are, they are definitely not the Taylorist-Fascist white gleam of Stormtroopers

As such, not the manufactured consequence of an all-powerful, financialized empire, but survivors of something like that empire, staking a claim on an inherited landscape. Not built from scratch, not installed, but wound into and through its landscape.

(This, the site and position of the enemy, may be the site of Jackson's betrayal of what he was and the we forged around his cultural presence: the one dancing on and working through, the flawless occupation of an inherited landscape, the industry bordering on "the ruins of punk and the chic regions of synthesizer pop" (from a TIME article about the music world before Thriller). Stepping into the wasteland, making it his own. Then becoming the Empire against which he was posed, at least by fans. Becoming that Death Star and dead star of immense gravity and uncertain orbit, an artificial world in all its impossible disconnection from any world we might call home.)

Giger Khomeini?

This imperial cast-off world gains its deep historical specificity with the first hissing words of the "Supreme Leader" to Jackson and his companions:

Silence! Infidel! You infect my world with your presence!

From the designation of "Supreme Leader" to the specificity of infidel as epithet, she is coded explicitly as the figure of
Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, albeit in H.R. Giger electric cable bondage wear. Two years before the end of the Iran-Iraq War, the supposed threat of Khomeini's Shi'a Pan-Islamism was apparently palpable enough to worm its way into the smiles-and-lasers world of Jackson's Epcot vision.

It also brings to the surface the heart of the superficial politics that would come to swallow Jackson, the universalizing one-cosmos justification of the invading saviors (EO himself states that they have come "uninvited and unannounced") versus the singularity of a world, of the "countless worlds of despair" each being someone's world.

Uninvited and unannounced.

The arrival of the NGO shock-troops is indeed an infection of the whole world. For what they bring with them is that global vision, that perversion of communist universality and its having the key to unlock it: no longer class analysis, but market relations, smart bombs, and puppet democracies. (Or, in this case, music to unlock the beauty hidden inside this world of rage and trash.)

Our protagonists in a not-very-democratic throne room to be "transformed" by high tech, smart weaponry

But in Captain EO, no one is very high up the totem pole. The Supreme Leader doesn't seem to rule supremely past her trashworld and small retinue of guards. And EO and his band? Just lowly scouts, sent to bring a gift to one more self-declared Supreme Leader. A war of minor threats and colonization. A war with an absent empire, a force somewhere propelling the whole infernal machine, an empire visible only in the do-gooders who come as the cultural tendrils of the dominant order to be.

For what they bring, after all, is the declaration of the inner beauty of the Supreme Leader, which just needs a key to unlock it. To bring a gift to someone as beautiful as you... Or as it is more commonly phrased in our times of the planned decimation of peoples and local economies: to bring market relations to someone as democratic as you...

And so begins the central set piece of the film, the song "We Are Here to Change The World," the song that sets the template for the terrible, sentimental, hollow, derivative, unhinged pseudo-political output that came to dominate his post-Bad output and cultural position. Some images give a sense:

The robots transform into instruments/prototypes for cheap tie-in toes to be sold at Disney stores.

Once defenders of the junkland, now jumpsuited backup dancers

A different sort of rainbow coalition.

From bound to the machine...

... to mass subcultural pompadour dancer

The beautifying laser power of the collective belief in the democratic good of the cosmos.

After the choreographed fight, the dance, the transformations, the film concludes the ultimate neoliberal coup de grace, the refusal to call your enemies enemies, instead folding them back into your narrative, the shaming of having to accept the cultural terms of occupation and be thankful. Here, a jubilatory Stockholm Syndrome that takes the form of the transformation/"unlocking the inner beauty" of the Supreme Leader herself.

The acceptable kind of Arabness: a sort of Princess Jasmine-like garden of Hellenic temple and exotic yet non-threatening delights. Undoing the industrial sexiness of the clawed Supreme Leader.

The Christian overtones of the song ("We're on a mission in the everlasting light that shines / A revelation of the truth and chapters of our minds")are not out of place with this rendering of the Islamic militant into the mere window dressing of a Garden of Allah.

The liberated thank those who freed them from their way of life.

The site of resistance into a Hellenic temple of democratic roots. Replacing the proper, yet telluric, universality of radical Islam with the pseudo-universal of globalized capital and the unquestionability of democracy. Removing the ground from which one can say you don't belong here: but there is just one world, we're just trying to heal it. Undermining even the right to the wastelands of capitalism, even the scrap heaps produced in the wake of making one smooth, globalized empire of circulation. And above all, the end of the age of enemies, the obscene non-question at the end of a gun: we're doing this to help you, this war is for your sake, don't you want to be modern and democratic? Why are you still resisting?

Our job here is done.


The soft-hue and multi-color death knell of other modes of living. Pockets of the universe that resist. Of the singular we of that talented young black man that many saw Jackson to be. Before he, and the apologists of neoliberalism, started to believe his own bullshit, when he should have shuffled off this earth but instead went to the cosmos. The sounds of a silent gliding moonwalk over countless worlds of despair. The non-contact of the end of difference and enemies, replaced by all being part of him. The obscene universal embrace of those who secede from the world of the living and the dead.

Clear and frozen danger (Why we need to reclaim our stone-making names before the state better learns to turn them outwards like Perseus)

The old bourgeoisie was at least consistent. It was glad of its privileges, it wanted to expand them and looked to the future. The present one looks down; it sees the multitude approaching behind its back, in the same way as it had done. It does not want that and withdraws and solidarises with power... The majority of governments have speculated on this sad progression of fear that, in the long run, becomes moral death. They have thought that the dead can be better manipulated than the living. They have shown two medusa heads to the terrified bourgeoisie, in order to fill them with fear of the people: in the long run, these two heads, terrorism and communism, have turned them into stone.

- Michelet, 1846

Different now, of course, is the utter decoupling of that pairing, terrorism and communism, and the fact that the raising of communism by the mainstream media now, the occasional shrieking calls about the "socialization of wealth" under Obama, serves not to frighten the bourgeoisie but only to convince them that true communism is dead and gone: sure, we may pseudo-nationalize a bit and green our infrastructure, but don't worry, you can still make a killing. Against this, we need to make Communism as deadly serious, impossible to imagine, and unincorporable into this economic order as it once was. Only then does it gain the chance of being a medusa head shared collectively, halting this long trainwreck of the new century, an idea that moves differently, bound to everyday practices of want and discontent and moving from them to an air heavy with the threat of no more deferral of what is all of ours. An older idea we need again: perhaps how we speak is not our choice, just the coming into air the underground logic of history.

The tides shifting pull beneath the stone raft.

"it’s got that perfect space Odyssey 2001 vibe, kinda like the long version of the intro to Celtic Frost’s “Into the Crypts of Rays”. It’s cold."

Actual Pain put up this mixtape from Fenriz of Darkthrone. It's a pretty safe bet that nowhere else will you be allowed to move from French disco house to Rudimentary Peni in such a short span of time. Wow.

Some dogs rekindle their hunting instincts

Been meaning to link to, and write about, this (the History Channel show Life After People: The Series) for a while. I haven't yet, in part because I have been waiting for something substantive to say. I'll return to it later this summer when I come back to the question of the apocalyptic city. For now, all I want to say is a few disconnected things:

Washington Monument, in the lush verdant tropicalia of future Washington

It is the ultimate wet dream of an Earth First activist, now transitioned from flickering no-future fantasies to big budget, CGI excessive, drawn out over an entire series: the strange union of primitivist ground-clearing deep time wishing and a station known for its borderline bellicose fetishization of all things World War.

Tarkovsky and those other merchants of apocalyptic melancholy could barely envision pulling off something on this scale, this pornographic in its lingering gaze on the evacuated landscape, this heavy-breathing, false restraint at the lustful gaze toward monuments and networks without upkeep tumbling and fizzling out, this slick drizzle, dust, scavenging claim-stakers and clamoring kudzu unmaking of the built world.

Not terrorism, just gravity, weather, and time

(For a good time, read the episode descriptions. A sample:

Episode Nine: The Road to Nowhere

The post-apocalyptic fate of our cars, planes and roads. Oil refineries turn into time bombs. In the Motor City, harsh northern winters dismantles auto headquarters. While in Texas, the Alamo succumbs to a new invader. Also, animals adapt: armadillos spread, some dogs rekindle their hunting instincts, and long-horn cattle flourish once again.

Their use of the "Also" is quite funny. As in the description for episode 6: Also, Philiadelphia's Liberty Bell cracks for good and San Francisco's cable cars and bridges snap.)

Arguably the greatest and weirdest segment of the series: the survival of the Queen's corgis as they become dirty, scrappy little street-fighting bastards

Last, this series initially seems a genuine betrayal of what the apocalyptic can allow us to think, the processes of construction and becoming collective brought out in the always-hovering move to the post-apocalyptic. In other words, there are no humans left over to work toward becoming a people again. There are the assorted talking heads here to give a bit of master knowledge to validate the money shots of our national icons falling apart, and there is the carnival barker of a narrator. However, if we think of apocalypse in the proper sense, as a lifting of the veil, of the revelation of that which has been hidden, the series and all its indulgent melancholy gains traction. For what emerges is the eccentricity and idiosyncrasy of the leftover objects of capitalism, without their attendants and veilers, no one smoothing the cracks or moving the debris to other shores. No more circulation, no more abandonment, no more accumulation, subtle or primitive.

The caption provided by the show's website - "ONE HOUR AFTER PEOPLE: Built up vapors, normally regulated by workers, linger. Runaway temperatures in the reactor create sparks, and everything ignites. The fuel that once propelled mankind around the world now fuels a seemingly endless inferno."

And in this way, the series in all its drooling gloom and aesthetics of digital decay - you don't need computers to find these sorts of teeming messes and vacant mini-worlds, you just need to know where to look - nails the distinction between the end of the world and the end of days. It is the latter which is properly apocalyptic, in all its dialectical chances to speak the banality and wanting of our epoch, this sequences of days. (Indeed, as Don reminded me, the sense of the end of days as a unit of time measure: the work day, the end of our history and cycles consisting of interlocking 8-hour blocks.) All that remains is the world, not miraculously without humans anymore, but perhaps a lifting fog, not enlightenment but a slow feeling out for the first time in a long time of just what all this is before and behind us. The question, as always, is how to make this kind of groundclearing possible without waiting for us to be gone. Tactics born from dogs, fissured cracks bred from the unfathomable weight of this whole enterprise.

(And yet, at this moment when we see the creaks and groans in the calls for economic state of emergency, unemployment rising still, the extreme difficulty of imagining a way out that isn't ... at this moment, not to hold up the wrong figures, or hold them up wrongly, not to just think of ourselves as wolves and pigs, tactical bestiaries of those ready to rummage and run through the chaos of an order-ending time, or as the prescient witnesses to the slow car crash of this moment. Not to linger too long in the dusky prettiness and stale ferocity of collapse. Recalling instead some other aspects of whatever lineage we align toward, thinking about clean, open spaces, about careful construction, not junk piles but thoughtful, durable piles of concrete and glass to house more than just rich couples. Planning and care, welfare and distribution. Without this bedrock and commitment, our scavenging, hunting, and constructing capacities sniff around pointlessly, finding nothing but the scent of their own trail.)

Horrors: Wolfen

One of those rare films in which its terror-threatening taglines apply both to the monsters in the film and the developers who instantiate the logic of late industrial urban decay and the evacuation of communities. South Bronx as the ghost-town primal rage restaging of a lost battle against gentrification. There is no defense.

Come watch tomorrow night (Thursday), 8:30 PM, my house.