It took me ages to write this list. Please don’t take the numerical order as any degree of quality, merely personal preference. To be honest, I’d probably write a totally different one a week from now. Whatever the case, the top slot would never change; Ian MacKaye and Company simply surpassed themselved with their fantastic label retrospective. If you haven’t at least heard even some of it yet, you should feel deeply ashamed.
So without further ado I present to you, as selected from albums and compilations heard in their entirety more than once within the previous 12 months, my Top Eleven Albums of 2002:
#1 Various Artists Twenty Years of Dischord
#2 The Blood Brothers March On Electric Children
#3 Sonic Youth Murray Street
#4 Various Artists Rough Trade: Rock And Roll 1
#5 Boards Of Canada Geogaddi
#6 (Smog) Accumulaton: None
#7 Agoraphobic Nosebleed Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope
#8 Various Artists Dynamite With A Laserbeam
#9 Bilge Pump Let Me Breathe
#10 GoGoGo Airheart Exitheuxa
#11 Isis Oceanic
Honourable mentions go to Sigur Ros, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Q and Not U, Orthrelm, Craw, Uphill Battle, Radio 4, Suicide Note, Rotten Sound, Erase Errata, Oxbow, The Leaving Trains, Interpol, Low, The Flying Luttenbachers, Neko Case, Cex and Black Dice for releasing great albums this year.
1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year?
Doing well in my final year exams and getting my degree was probably my biggest personal accomplishment this year.
2. What was your biggest disappointment?
I didn’t really have any single big disappointment. Sorry to disappoint you.
3. Will you be making any New Year’s resolutions?
Yes, but they’re more lifestyle decisions than annual resolutions. And they’re kinda personal. (For the moment, at least.)
4. Where will you be at midnight? Do you wish you could be somewhere else?
I don’t know yet. My friends and I have yet to settle on any plans. Most likely we’ll go to someone’s house and stay up late talking and watching TV and stuff, like we did last year.
5. Aside from (possibly) staying up late, do you have any other New Year’s traditions?
Nope, I don’t. It’s just a day, really.
1. What holiday or holidays do you celebrate this time of year?
We celebrate Christmas, but in the secular sense. Which probably defeats the whole purpose, but that’s the way it is. While I may not be a religious person, things like goodwill, big family meals, and lots of presents never hurt anyone.
2. What was the best gift you have ever received?
Whatever I put here, I’ll remember something better sometime later and then kick myself over it, so I won’t put anything. Suffice to say that I’ve had many great gifts in my time, and a huge karmic debt to be paid because of them.
3. What was the worst gift you’ve ever given?
Probably socks or handkerchiefs or tea towels or something lame like that. Now you should see what I mean by a huge karmic debt.
4. Where will you be celebrating the holidays? Are you hosting? Going away?
Everyone going to my aunt’s house in Killiney on Christmas Day. We probably won’t stay too long though, since it’s such a pain in the arse to get out there and back.
5. If you could spend the holidays with someone who isn’t around, who would it be with? Why?
It would be with Benitha of course, and she knows why.
A few days ago I came across this piece on a website owned and operated by one-time WWF superstar the Ultimate Warrior. (Excuse me, that should be sans-definite article, seeing as he changed his actual name by deed poll to Ultimate Warrior some time ago.)
Now one of the things that made Warrior notorious, besides his freakish (allegedly) steriod-enhanced physique, and the face paint (of course), was his penchant for incoherent ramblings about his enemies, his future opponents, his fans, etc. From the evidence of this piece which I will discuss here, it seems as if this wasn’t just a gimmick, but a real character trait.
Onto the piece: an essay by the Warrior extolling the virtues of a book written by someone named Daniel Flynn entitled Why The Left Hates America. That inflammatory title alone was enough to get my spider-sense tingling, so I read on.
My initial impression was – as I had at first expected – an incoherent ramble, full of quotes, paraphrases and buzzwords glued together both haphazardly and repetitiously. If I had written an essay like this at university I would have failed, or at least gotten a disgraceful mark. But then I thought, If I dismissed it at that, I could be digging a hole for myself, so I re-read, this time more carefully, paragraph by paragraph, and picked out a number of holes and contradictions in Warrior’s (and Flynn’s) arguments.
For starters, the statement that “is impossible to reason with people who embrace unreason”. That’s a tautology, but in this context people who embrace unreason is just a synonym for the Left, or those who believe “what is untrue over what is factual”, in Warrior’s words. But how is this so? Where is your evidence to prove that this statement is true? It is not simply so just because you have said it. This amounts to rhetoric and nothing more. Such talk is only effective when you don’t elaborate on your points and convince others to fill in the blanks with words from your own lexicon; unfortunately, and particularly in the United States, it usually is.
The following paragraph sheds more light on Warrior’s position, where he asks Flynn (regarding his current occupations as a motivational speaker): “How is it, when going out to speak, to convince people of the truth when they will not use reason and rationality to begin with?” Hang on there, bud. Didn’t you just say a couple of paragraphs before that our greatest asset is “our ability to think and to think for ourselves”? Surely now you’re contradicting yourself? Either that, or you equate people thinking for themselves with people thinking like you do, because only your way is the correct way?
After this, I have to admit that I got a litlle lost in Warrior’s inflated rhetoric. What I did manage to glean from the rest it (and this is solely my interpretation of the words presented to me) was that we need education. I cannot argue with that as a simple fact in and of itself. Warrior himself, in a remarkably lucid passage for him, even spells it out for us:
“Education is the answer to everything. I am just going to keep pounding that because it is true. Wherever you may find yourself in life and whatever you may be wondering — There is no greater fundamental importance to finding the solution to any of life’s quandaries — personal or professional; solitarily or societally — than education.”
However, knowing the socio-political stance behind this statement, I was determined to know what substantiated “education” in Warrior’s view.
Warrior appears to attempt deconstruction of the definition of education (apparently by looking up its key terms in a thesaurus, and listing what he finds), concluding that education should be “distinguished from that by which one feels” or “contrasted with emotional processes”. Does this mean that we must completely disregard our emotions? Surely our emotions, our feelings, shape who we are. Why are feelings so anomalous to “facts” or “the truth”?
Then it twigged in me: Warrior is merely (and maybe unconsciously) perpetuating what Jacques Derrida might call a violent hierarchy, in this case of feelings versus facts, something I should have spotted in the beginning when he states how ” young minds are adult-erated by the politically correct biases (feelings over facts) prevalent in our educational institutions and media outlets”. Well, of course you would see such biases, seeing as you yourself are biased at the opposite pole. Talk like this merely perpetuates a continual game of one-upmanship which never actually gets us to the meat of the matter.
Of course, that’s the way many on the Right want things to be. To them everything is black and white. You’re either left or right wing. You’re either Democrat or Republican, You’re either for them (a patriot), or against them (a traitor). Blah blah blah. This is lazy, and dangerous, ideology, and it is this, not liberalism, that is having the most destructive affect on your nation, Warrior.
For example, you talk about facts, and you talk about “attacks (that) are targeted at the very history that beget (your) unalienable rights”; presumably a reference to the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, one of which is, qu’elle surprise, the right to bear arms. If you knew anything about facts, Warrior, you would know that a fact is only as good as its context. (You should know that, seeing as your Conservative brethren are masters of rhetoric, of manipulating facts – removing them from their contexts – to suit their own agenda.) Taking this into account, would it not be reasonable to understand that something that was written in a different time, in a different climate, in a different context, might not actually mean today what it did then? (This right in particular was enshrined in law to allow American citizens of the time to protect themselves from the invading armies of Britain; when was the last time an army invaded the continental United States? I’ll give you a hint: never.) Is this reasoned argument an attack on your history? Of course it isn’t; what it is is an attack on Conservative dogmatism, which is a cheap and shaky foundation upon which to build anything, let alone a whole nation.
To take a leaf out of Warrior’s book, the definition of conservative: “averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values”. That says a lot right there. If we are to prosper, to grow as a global society, as human beings, we need not only education, but also to evolve. But we can’t do that when the Right – from the acidic vitriol of the likes of Flynn, to the confused hollow rhetoric of Ultimate Warrior – is holding us back.
The Left doesn’t hate America; they just don’t see it the way you do. They don’t use your nation’s flag as a weapon of oppression, or a cowardly shield. If anybody hates America, it’s the Right. (Actually, no, I take that back. I don’t think any of them hates America; they just have very different reasons for liking or loving it.)
So this goes out directly to you, Warrior, and others like you. Don’t read the likes of Flynn and their prejudiced agendas. Don’t operate on a need-to-know basis. Read some Foucault or Derrida. Try reading some Howard Zinn. Keep digging for other voices. Or don’t bother. It’s not like I can force you to do anything, but at the very least, you should understand this: there is more than one side to every story. That is a fact for every context.