This is a blog about politics, the media, group-think and propaganda, especially the kind manufactured by the modern state.
I also wander through a number of other things closely related: the growth of the police state, the control of speech, indoctrination, debates about race and genetics, immigration and globalization.
I’m the author of “The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media,” (Monthly Review Press, December, 2005) and the co-author with William Bonner of “Mobs, Messiahs and Markets,” (Wiley, September, 2007). I contributed an essay to “One of the Guys: Women as Aggressors and Torturers,” edited by Tara McKelvey and Barbara Ehrenreich, Seal Press, 2007 and an essay of mine is also included in the academic text, “The Third World: Opposing Viewpoints,” edited by David Haugen, Greenhaven, 2007.
I have an MA in English, trained as a pianist and took another MA in politics. I’ve taught music, lectured at colleges, managed property, waited tables and had a brief though intense life as a day-trader before trying to make my way as a professional journalist.
I’ve written over 75 articles for Dissident Voice, Counterpunch, The Daily Reckoning, India-West, Outlook India, Money Week, Alternet, Lew Rockwell, Common Dreams, Antiwar, The Rational Review, Himal South Asian and the Baltimore Chronicle.
I work as a financial writer and editor.
I’ve been writing poetry and stories since I was seven. Most of it – except for a half-finished novel about a serf uprising (written when I was thirteen and knee deep in Progress press’s cheap – 2 rupees or so for a book – editions of the Russian classics) is on various scraps in boxes. Light verse – ala Ogden Nash – is my forte, but I’ve written lots of more serious things and have plenty of rejection slips to show for it. My first novel The Dark Glass (in a drawer somewhere) is a murder mystery told by a Baltimore lawyer and amateur ornithologist. I also have a nearly -done collection of short stories, Deccan Days, and a novella, The Virgin and the Fisherman, set in India.
I am eclectic and syncretist, which means I can like the Latin mass, read the Gita and meditate on the tarot — and see no conflict in any of those things — or in judicious scepticism.
I think people are sometimes too attached to particular ways of thinking and unwilling to entertain the idea that even contradictory beliefs can co-exist pretty well and even usefully.
My political beliefs are fairly idiosyncratic too. I’m right libertarian (with strong reservations about financial flows and the commons) and think the state is at best a necessary evil and quite probably unnecessary, replaceable by customary or community laws and private police. I have liberal views on a number of issues.
The only political figures who make sense to me are anti-politicians or pure constitutionalists.
I’m a firm supporter of what I think is the best American tradition — non-interventionist, entrepreneurial, and individualist, but I think big corporations are as anti-individualist as the state. The liberals whom I criticize in my net journalism aren’t necessarily classical liberals or even humanists so much as self-identified partisans who annoy me by being rather olympian in their views.
I tend to prefer American attitudes on a number of things to, say, European or Asian, but that might be because of language. No chances of my lapsing into Mandarin, for one thing.
In Anglophone political theory, I like Burke, Mill, Taylor, Oakeshott, MacIntyre, and many others. Among continental theorists, Deleuze, Lukacs, Nietzsche, Rousseau, and going back, Vico. I studied psychoanalysis for a year or so (painfully) – just to give the thing its due – and decided I had better things to do. Astrology says as much…with more complexity, color and brevity….. and about the same degree of plausibility.
And Mad magazine probably said as much as anyone about modern advertising.
If it’s all a pretty mixed bag – so be it. I only use any of it as an aid to thinking, not a substitute for it — I’m not enthusiastic about the way theoreticians apply their insights to practical politics – which doesn’t suit blinding generalities.
When I have time to read outside politics, I turn to a few poets and mystics, both in the occult tradition from Boehme to Steiner and Yeats, as well as in the Christian, from Dante to Eliot, and the Hindu – Ramana Maharishi and Aurobindo, but also Gandhi.
Favorite books include Fathers and Sons, The Way of All Flesh, The Wild Ass’s Skin, Auto da Fe, Narcissus and Goldmund, anything by Saki or Ivy Compton-Burnett, most of Ibsen, Peter Schaffer…lots of poetry, Lewis Carroll, Wodehouse, Chesterton..too many to name.
I also like Ananda Coomaraswamy, Khushwant Singh, Vikram Seth, Gita Mehta, Nirad Chaudhury, among Anglo-Indian writers.
I listen to to a lot of music – most of the classics, especially Bach, Chopin, and Scriabin; Indian classical music as well as old film music; most romantic opera; jazz – people like Thelonius Monk and John Abercrombie, gospel, classic rock, all kinds of folk music (flamenco, fado) and balladeers like Charles Aznavour.
Besides that, I dabble in alternative medicine and health, yoga, parapyschology, self-help and spiritual practices. I keep trying to be a vegetarian – but no one around me helps.
Lila Rajiva: The Mind-Body Politic is the copyright of Lila Rajiva, April 1, 2007.
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