February 15, 2018 (Wednesday)

by Yule Heibel on February 14, 2018

Sometime during the night I developed a headache. It stayed with me all night, and now it’s morning and still gnawing at my skull, setting off sharp bursts of IEDs hither and yon. I seriously think it started with my teeth. I put some whitening / bleaching agent in my retainers last night, and the thing I’ve now learned is that my teeth are too sensitive for this stuff. Never again will I attempt an “overnight” of this. Nor would I ever have a professional whitening treatment done at the dentist’s. No way.

We watched Episode 5 of The Night Manager last night. (The sex scene I was thinking of / I described in yesterday’s entry was in Episode 4, then). (Not 3.) This time they were holed up in some illegal military camp near the Syrian border, everyone in mufti – except Jed, who was flown in halfway through: she continued in her glamour gowns and slave girl sandals; and “Corky,” whose appearance was brief, but who still wore his trademark trousers and shirt. The others: rugged, manly, adapted to the denizens of the camp where an entirely implausible night-time military equipment demonstration, culminating in the spectacular napalming and incineration of an entire village, was performed for the benefit of a buyer. I say implausible because how would these pyrotechnics not have registered on the computer screens connected to all the many, many spy satellites encircling our globe? And not set off alarm bells? Major maneuvers and explosions and napalming incinerations in an area whose propinquity to, if not outright immersion in, a conflict zone marks it for observation and surveillance – and nothing is noted? Not buying it.

But thus is the silliness of drama these days. Oh, don’t say “these days,” it makes you sound like an old fart. You don’t really mean “these days” as opposed to some golden age of yore (which never existed). It’s not “these” vs. “of yore.” It’s not that kind of versus at all. It’s “we’re fed a bunch of bollocks because a) it entertains us (and we’re willingly complicit, all that suspension of disbelief stuff) and b) it suits a particular kind of narrative about the world which is different in degree – but not in kind, really – from previous narratives, and which is itself a relatively partial yet complex mirroring of a totality which has grown immensely complex. There’s no “these days” about it, except that it’s what we’re dealing with now.

I’m still thinking about HyperNormalisation, too. Talked with A. about it, who found it illuminating, convincing, and depressing. How do we get out of it? We’ve ceded power to a managerial caste which upholds a status quo under which the people suffer. The latter should be represented by leaders, not managers. That’s political, and it has increasingly evaporated. Into the vacuum comes populism and uprising, propelling not necessarily the right “leaders” forward. And on it goes.

Getting back briefly to The Night Manager: so now they’re all in mufti except the androgyne woman (Jed is extremely androgynous) and the homosexual (“Corky”). But the others – even our androgynous man, Jon. Pine – are in “manly mode,” growing stubble and sweat stains out in the inhospitable desert (even as Jed’s hair remains flawless, her skin moisturized, her sandals leaving her feet nearly unprotected, yet without a callous or dry patch to be seen: how much luggage did she travel with?). Yet all of Pine’s “masculinity” just underscores how much he is the counterpart to Jed (who remains more “feminine” in contrast). They are two androgynous halves of a hermaphroditic whole. It heightens the sexual thing, or at least gives it a very contemporary scaffold, transfixed as we are by the supposed fluidity of gender. Bogart and Bacall, rewritten as trans.

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