I wrote about how I feel about the crisis in my podcast yesterday. But I do have a small narrative to offer, in addition to other narratives trying to make sense of the situation.
It’s been remarkable to see how quickly the ‘worst people’ have pivoted from 2 years of feeding the machine as dress-up epidemiologists to experts in Eastern European international relations and/or War Correspondents. The transparent switch and grift *should* be enough to choke on and cause scales to fall from eyes. But brainworms find their home between credulous ears.
It’s also bonkers the way people speak so confidently about the situation. How they project their own area of interest/side of whatever culture war they are engaged in on to the situation. One such egregious example has been covered at length by Huw Lemmey in his newsletter this week.
It might seem that these braying numbskulls’ fears that Putin is rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of a they/them NATO is prime idiocy designed to be cheap fodder for a culture war.
I really recommend you check it out. Huw writes “We all have our lenses through which we read the world, and it’s natural that when something new occurs that sits outside our frames of reference, we try to apply our ideological frames to understand it – usually unsuccessfully.”
Now, I have absolutely no fucking idea whats going on.
The situation is hugely complex and cannot be reduced down to one simple narrative or cause. Nato, Putin is hitler, blah, blah, blrainworms. Instead we have to try and complexify outwards. Understand the world in all its myriad contexts and relations (via ‘all the lenses’) to one another. ‘All the things’, the events ‘contain’.
One of the lenses that ‘the worst people’ look out upon the world though is via a European/liberal secular lens. Which means they restrict their view of multi-faceted events down to one myopic viewing angle. (see Huw’s newsletter again). They also seem to think tweeting about shit will stop an invasion or something, perhaps magical thinking does exist somewhere in their universe… anyways.
I’d like to briefly look though another lens. One that I have been seeing the invasion though but haven’t seen mentioned anywhere. else. I checked in with a friend in War Studies yesterday and they sent me this link as the only other example they had seen.
This tweet from US Embassy Kyiv – Posted 22nd of Feb provides the window though which we can see another layer of complexity.
This tweet isn’t just ‘a troll’ as most of the English speaking press reported it. It references an ongoing and very real crisis – see below.
A 2018 survey found that 71.7% of Ukrainians declared themselves believers. About 67.3% of the population declared adherence to one or another strand of Orthodox Christianity. In Russia 66% are believers. With 41.1% indicating adherence to one or another strand of Orthodox Christianity.
Since 1991 a great deal of the emergent post-Soviet Russian national identity has been reconstituted around an embrace and return to Russian Orthodoxy. In many respects Russia is one of the first ‘post secular states’ dealing with 100 years of spiritual whiplash. (Think about what it must have been like living though England during Edward VI/Jane/Mary/Elisabeth 1 or something). I also think the post secular state is coming for the rest of Europe this century too. So hold on to your hats.
It’s hard to describe to a secular person – in a Catholic rooted/post-reformation Protestant society – what it means to experience the world as an Orthodox Christian. A return to Orthodoxy means the return of the literal reality of symbols and signs. I don’t use the word Belive here, I purposely use Experience.
As the tweet from the US Embassy indicates: The narrative heart of Russia, ‘Mother Russia’ as a story has her roots in Kyiv and the history of the Kievan Rus’. The ‘Historical Russia and the mistakes of Lenin’ that Putin was rambling on about earlier this week is connected to this longer 1000 year religious and spiritual history.
Before we can go any further we must pivot to talk about ongoing events that I am pretty sure not a single one of ‘the worst people’ knows anything about at all….
Since 2018 there has been an ongoing schism in the Orthodox Church. I’ve been following it all ambiently via orthochristian.com in my RSS reader for years.
On September 7, 2018, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople sent two exarchs, one from the U.S. and another from Canada, to Kiev in order to initiate the process of “legitimatizing” a schismatic “autocephalous” church in the Ukraine, breaking its former promises not to do any such thing, and without any consultation with the existing canonical Church, which constitutes the vast majority of practicing Orthodox Christians in Ukraine.
It really is a crisis. The TLDR is nationalist sentiments in Ukraine are urging the appointment and creation of a ‘Ukrainian Church’. This schismatic unfolding also concerns the Greek Church equally.
A Ukrainian Church would cut the Russian Church adrift from its 1000 years of history and living narrative back to Kiev and its birthplace. Again it’s important to remember that Orthodoxy situates people in a living universe – the literal reality of symbols and signs.
To cut the Russian Church adrift ‘symbolically’ by the creation of a Ukrainian Church is also to do so ‘literally’. Resulting in an unmooring of the national story, a broken heart.
Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces
Russia’s Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces was consecrated in May 2020. Delayed due to the pandemic. The 3rd largest cathedral in the orthodox world.
Watch the speech given by the patriarch during the blessing:
It’s also worth noting that Euro News was incorrect, mosaics of Putin and Stalin were installed in the cathedral. Despite the public outcry.
I’m not going to go into the reality of image in Orthodoxy, but it gesturing toward.
So: we have the gathering together of a new and living national story post 1991, the threat of religious schism at its foundations, the consecration of a huge temple to the armed forces, and a war…. A war unfolding at the location of the beginning of the story.
Given the schismatic nature of the Russian/Ukrainian church and its consequences for the literal experience of reality for the people involved. It is worth considering the European wars of religion as a historical current for the ongoings in the world. (History of the European wars of religion of course acknowledge that is more complicated than the easy narrative of reformation for their cause)
Anyways. This is just a snippet of the ongoing present that complicates what’s happening. This lens extends the context of these events backward 1000 years. To what extent Putin himself feels like he is inside this current, given his formative years were spent rooting out the religious folks in the country he controls – we’ll probably never know – and I don’t really care. Regardless, his face is upon the temple wall. And this is a symbolic universe.
I really don’t know what the fuck is going on, nor am I pretending to know. The completeness of crisis is too big to understand. Too awful to try and comprehend. Nevertheless it’s important that we acknowledge that it’s way more complicated than any of the explanations the worst people are offering.
In a narrative war, a cultural war, one has to call out uncomplicated stories wherever we encounter them.
To be quite honest, the sensible thing to do is log off.
One of the things about taking a photo everyday, is that its made me realise *just* how much time I spend around/by the Old Man. “He never seems to worry Doesn’t care for fortune’s fame He never seems to hurry But he gets there just the same”
A recognition that not one of us knows what the fuck is going on. The past 2 years should have made this abundantly clear.
The Ministry Of My Own Labour
- Been working on my Strelka talk every day – cancelled now obviously
- Working on an application for a thing with Andrew Dana Hudson
- Looking long and hard at a *very* nearly finished piece of creative work
- Learning more about Unity shaders
- Interviewed by Timo Peach on Unseethefuturepod
Dipping the Stacks
Anderson and Einstein met backstage after the concert and Einstein offered to escort Anderson to the Nassau Inn where she had a reservation. When she arrived with Einstein, the hotel manager denied her accommodations because of the inn’s stated “whites only” policy. Einstein invited Anderson to stay at his nearby home with his daughter for the night.
Chinese scientists have developed salt-tolerant strains of rice in a bid to ensure food security as sea levels rise from climate change.
Multiple users have complained that their public, collaborative playlists — designed to allow Spotify users and their friends to curate songs in real time together — have been commandeered by bots masquerading as normal users, primarily one account simply named “Ashley.”
I first met Shahed in the trenches of retail, selling and shifting furniture for the well-healed and oft ill-mannered denizens of the King’s Road area of London while he was studying for an MBA. I knew he was a metalhead right away, with a serious fondness for the classics.
The NFT market has spawned a new cultural form that has elements of games but not their rules. Blitmap and Forgotten Runes are two examples.
I’ve been reading Gordon White’s Ani.Mysitc all week. Nothing else.
Taking it slow to absorb it. Gonna sling the ebook my on kindle and re-read over the next few months and take copious notes.
thejaymo.net Spotify Playlist
Silver Sash is Wovenhand’s first new album since 2016’s Star Treatment. An album I played to death. Wovenhand is of course, the long time musical project of American poet and songwriter David Eugene Edwards – the driving force behind hugely influential band 16 horsepower.
Silver Sash isn’t quite Edwards first material in years since Star treatment however. There’s been the 2018 collab album with Alexandrer Hacke Risha, and his surprise 2020 collaboration with one of my favourite synth wave artist’s Carpenter Brut – Which is brain melting good (See below)
Silver Sash is also a collaboration of sorts. Chuck French – guitarist of the now disbanded (sadly) aggressive Emocore band Plans Mistaken For Stars appears as co-writer. I wrote about the death of Gared O’Donnell, and the influence PMFS had on my life last year.
Silver Sash is a fucking fantastic album. Firmly rooted in Edwards religious gothic country, but Silver Sash takes on a more psych rock feel in 2022, with synths and lots of electronics. I wonder if the Brut collaboration moved the dial more in this direction? Then again I also think this may also be the influence of French too.
The albums 3rd track Duat Hawk has desert western vibes,
and contrasts nicely with the noisy (almost) industrial country song ‘The Lash’ which appears late on the LP
This album is so good, pretty much everything you might want from a gothic country band. The albums liner notes say that it was recored and mixed across the groups homes during the pandemic, I wonder if this also contributes towards its psych feel?
Two artists from two of my favourite bands have made an album together. What’s not to love?
By the way. If you have made it this far and NO IDEA who David Eugene Edwards is, I highly recommend The Preacher a documentary about him from the year 2000.
I also urge you all to watch Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (trailer below) a road trip documentary about musicians in the white American south. Its one of the best films I’ve ever seen.
yeule – Glitch Princess
I wrote last Jan that I was “looking forward to this release and hearing more ” after blogging about the opening track My Name is Nat Ćmiel.
The album doesn’t disappoint. Glitch Princess is an album of glitchy ambient pop, hazel vocals and bold imagery float over synths and pulses. Only for the lyrical content to explode into distorted screams.
The subject matter addressed on this album is at times quite difficult, anxieties, relationships, morbid imagery, depression, hyperbole. It is a in many ways a complete psychological character study of ‘yeule’. The album ends with a 4 hour 44 minute long ambient drone track (which I listened to whilst organising my bookshelf last Sunday) – 444 is also of course an angel number. I wondered if this album is an exercise in world building for the ‘character’ of album to live inside. The presence of Danny from PC music as producer and co-writer on some tracks seems to suggest this might be the case.
Friendly Machine is (I think) my favourite track: