Thursday, July 27, 2023

Los Renglones Torcidos de Dios / God's Crooked Lines (2022)

Worth watching for the production design alone, though it does drag on a bit to the roughly three hour mark.


The period of political  transition at the end of the seventies is a favoured destination for Spanish directors. This film is set four year's after the dictator's death, yet at the local police station his portrait is only just being replaced by that of Juan Carlos. It's based on a novel published in '79.

In other respects we can spot that we're on well-trodden ground as the protagonist has been committed to a vast asylum in Catalunya, initially convinced she has entered voluntarily, then convinced she has been legally kidnapped, but her key antagonist within the institution, a dead-ringer for Mark Kermode, never relinquishes his conviction that she's properly bonkers. 

As ever with this sort of psychological, or perhaps psychiatric thriller, the best moments are before the last act when all the possibilities are being tantalisingly dangled, accompanied to Hitchcockian ruminations on a piano.  

Resolution, or some sort of partial replacement with an aftertaste of ambiguity, never really satisfies.



Time to debunk the de-banked...


Again, it’s not really about Brexit, or even immigration, it’s about Farage’s known affiliation with an insurrectionist and a war criminal, both of whom are willing figureheads for neo-fascist movements.

And Farage is one of the disingenuous populist voices providing a cover of continued legitimacy and thus preventing democratic societies from taking all the necessary action against these men.


Wednesday, July 26, 2023


When Farage started bleating that Coutts & Co had de-banked him for being a James, all they had to say was YES...or perhaps nothing at all. 

Instead their holding company has since handed him a completely bogus opportunity to posture as the heroic everyman victim of cancel culture — the latter something I vehemently oppose, but this represents a willful distortion of the issues.

It is a commercial reality in the UK that corporations and individuals within them often openly choose to reject undertaking contracts with specific clients based on a conflict of values. I certainly did.

A private bank is not a “platform” or indeed a public utility.

Monday, July 24, 2023

The Narcissistic Sociopathic State

Today we've witnessed a surge of protest and workplace walk-outs across Guatemala in response to what many people see as the covert autocracy's open interference in the supposedly free electoral process.

In The Revenge of Power Moisés Naím draws our attention to a new generation of what he refers to as 3P Autocrats, predominantly democratically-elected leaders who deploy Populism, Polarisation and Post-truth in order to be able to operate between the cracks of constitutional legality.

I think this only partially covers what has been happening here.

Populism in Central America has long been complemented with a form of clientism, whereby key demographics from amongst the relatively disadvantaged are recruited as a counter-weight to the educated middle-classes who might otherwise becomes drivers of radical readjustments.

I think what we actually have here is a kind of narcissistic-sociopathic state.

Like equivalents at the level of individual pathology, this is a coterie of government actors content to lie dormant most of the time, or at least wear a more or less functional mask of unthreatening congeniality and benevolence until, that is, the day that they are triggered.

In most cases this involves some sort of insufferable rejection (i.e. so many unexpected votes for Movimiento Semilla).

The narcissistic-sociopath state or NSS then erupts...the mask comes off and its behaviour turns overtly abusive and ultimately destructive, and not just to the designated victims, for the NSS abandons all restraint and concern for consequences which can eventually lead to its own undoing.

Having spent so much time hiding in plain sight, pretending to be decent and law-abiding, for the NSS, the so-called 'technical coup d'etat' option comes with a risk of complete de-legitimisation — a problem that old school dictators didn't really have to worry about as their authority came from the end of their boot and little else.

One must not forget that even when the mask is on, the NSS is an abuser. It's just that many people choose not to recognise and call out the signs.


Friday, July 21, 2023


"Total abhorrence of dominant ideologies. And anti-gulagism is the dominant ideology today, The anti-gulag priests are every bit as bad as the gulag torturers. The sheep have taken over from the beasts of the apocalypse."

Back in 1983, when the postmodernisation of western thought was only just taking shape, Jean Baudrillard scribbled the above, slightly self-contradictory, statement.

I mean, are the sheep really as bad as the beasts of the apocalypse? Are Coutts & Co as bad as the Stasi? etc.

The real interest in this observation however is that Baudrillard pinpointed the way our political polarities have been turning non-binary (for want of a better term), the way all oppositions have become stuck in a self-referential, practically auto-catalytic whirl, such that it has become increasingly difficult to place the lines between the priesthood and heretics, between the dogmatists and those simply seeking freedom of conscience and operation in society.

Even between the different kinds of hooved beasties. 


Friday, July 07, 2023

I am right, you are wrong...

One of the more significant problems we face today in so-called mature democracies is what I would describe as the theological approach to politics.

Instead of understanding that the political stances we adopt (even the most cherished ones) are inevitably informed by circumstances, personal and societal, we increasingly appear to assume that they reflect fundamental matters of right and wrong. 
This has to be one of those American cultural exports which are so plaguing us at this point in the century, and this one is unquestionably pernicious, for once one believes that everything in one's head is some sort of inviolable principle (or indeed tenet), it becomes that much harder to listen to people with alternative notions, let alone submit to government by them for a fixed term.

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

The outside world is deeply concerned about...something.

This Guardian piece is the first article I have come across in the UK media referencing Guatemala's election shambles, and it follows depressingly familiar format.

The credit to "staff and agencies" means that nobody has bothered to even try to understand what is actually going on here. They've digested some press releases from the agencies announcing the concerns of the US and other G7 members, but beyond that...not a bleeding clue.

They largely point the finger of blame for the suspension of the June 25th result at front-runner Sandra Torres even though yesterday she explicitly called for the second round to go ahead as planned on August 20. Torres actually has little to gain from participating in legal delays, which could add extra oomph to the campaign of her (currently) second placed opponent.

The main drivers of the legal posturing have been the OTHER parties that fell short of the top two places, particularly Valor, Vamos, Cabal, Mi Familia etc. Sandra’s UNE seemed to go along with it at first, but must have quickly realised what a dumb play that could end up being. 

Anyway, on the positive side, if there is one thing I have learned about the so-called Corrupt Elite of this country is that it could just as easily be described as the Incompetent Elite.

Indeed, corruption and uselessness are very strongly associated with each other in Guatemala.

I guess that this is because corruption allows them to get away with things all too easily on an everyday basis, so that they neglect to spot the moments when a bit more effort and intellectual rigor might be required.

Ditto the Guardian.