Saturday, June 20, 2009

He Hit Me

We had started this week's newsletter, wondering aimlessly about the nature of decision-making. Hot stuff, for sure. But it IS intriguing because there's so much mystery surrounding it. No one, not scientist nor mystic, can accurately describe or predict our decisions - least of all, ourselves! But our decisions can be manipulated. Plenty of research shows this. The existence of the advertising industry shows this. And one of the people who has explored this manipulation time and again, with great success, is Adam Curtis.

Curtis is a BBC documentarian, but that gives the wrong impression. Like saying Spine and Crown is a place where capital and commodities are exchanged. There's something very artistic, fascinating, and hypnotic about what he does. He's responsible for The Century of the Self, an examination of how Freudian ideas have, through advertising, made us all into selfish dicks. But he's best known for The Power of Nightmares, which investigated the deeply intertwined development of radical Islam and Neo-conservatism.

He's far more qualified than we are to talk about how outside forces shunt us this way and that- and he's got a new film, It Felt Like a Kiss.

We'll let The Guardian's Charlie Brooker take it from here:

So what's it about? In a roundabout way, it's about you. But it's also about the golden age of pop, when the US rose to supreme power. It encompasses everything from Rock Hudson, Lou Reed, Saddam Hussein, a chimp and Lee Harvey Oswald. It's a heady brew.

"I think it's a fascinating period," says Curtis.

"I wanted to do a film about what it actually felt like to live through that time ... Where you could see the roots of the uncertainties we feel today, the things they did out on the dark fringes of the world that they didn't really notice at the time, which would then come back to haunt us."

It's a common theme in Curtis's work: he's not interested in conspiracy theories, but rather with the unforeseen consequences of ideas throughout history, and their impact on a deeply personal level. "The way power works in the world is: they tell you stories that make sense of the world. That's what America did after the second world war. It told you wonderful dreamlike stories about the world ... And at that same time, you were encouraged to rise up and 'become an individual', which also made the whole idea of America attractive to the rest of the world. But then this very individualism began to corrode it. The uncertainties began in people's minds. Uncertainty about 'what is the point of being an individual?'"

"The politics of our time are deeply embedded in this idea of individualism," he continues, "which is far wider than Westminster, consumerism or anything like that. It's how you feel. People think, 'Oh, if it's within me it must be true.' But it's not the be-all and end-all. It's not an absolute. It's a way of feeling and thinking which is a product of a particular time and power. The notion that you only achieve your true self if your desires, your dreams, are satisfied ... It's a political idea. That's the central dynamic of our life."

Because you're worth it? He nods. "Because you're worth it."

This week:

All items mentioned below are first come, first serve. If you want something, let us know post-haste (because they're also for sale on the interweb)! All new items sell for cover price, used items as marked. Sadly, trade credit cannot be used for new items.

Our books are always searchable via ABEbooks.


We ran out of time on the descriptions this week and let our unrestrained Id write up these tomes while we slept!


Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863), Arne Svenson and Ron Warren

they eat sock bananas and other sock monkeys. mouths full of stuffing, they nightly cry sock tears and curse their monstrous maker.

($10) [Sold]


Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of "Adults Only" Cinema, Eddie Muller and Daniel Faris, eds.
(Paperback, out of print)

dirty pictures. dirty moving pictures.

chase them.

catch them.

dirty dirty.

($15) [Sold]


The Starry Wisdom: A Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, D.M. Mitchell, ed.
(Paperback, out of print)

lesser talents offer tribute to a greater talent. W.S. Burroughs; Alan Moore; Grant Morrison; J.G. Ballard.

($20) [Sold]


Ten Years of Italian Progress, Italian State Tourist Department.
(Stapled pamphlet, 1933)

fascists run the trains on time and produce purty pamphlets. but no one's fooled, mr. mussolini. you are the bad man.



Psychedelic Prayers, Timothy Leary.
(Paperback, out of print)

each page better be soaked in blotter acid, at that price.



Skyspace poetry!


Everything's turning into a pile of shit.

Except this.




# of weeks since Spine and Crown inception: 189

# of weeks since inception that no mention of Spine and Crown has appeared in the print edition of The Stranger: 189


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