Morphizm Main

Present Tense
David Gedge and The Wedding Present are coming straight outta L.A. on El Rey: MORE

Spaced Out
Jason Pierce has a thing for fire. So together we poured gasoline on Spiritualized: MORE

Meowwww!!
From slicing up cat dicks to signing up Fonzi, Big Tobacco has pulled some weird science: MORE On the Beach
Dream pop standouts Beach House are catching heat. But can they catch fire live? MORE

Stipe On Speed
R.E.M.'s thrash attack has gone into hyperdrive on the brilliant Accelerate. Stipe tells us the targets: MORE

Slugs 4 Obama!
Atmosphere's When Life Gives You Lemons... is all about the hope. And so is Obama: MORE

I Say God Damn!
What's left unspoken in the Obama flap is this: Has God blessed America recently? MORE Ass Out!
Assy McGee is one hell of a cop from hell. So where are his arms? Our interview explains: MORE

Miss Fortune
China's Olympic intrigue has reached critical mass. Who says politics and sports don't mix? MORE

Nirvana's Son
Kurt Cobain: About a Son is out on DVD. Its peek into bipolar stardom is still hard to watch: MORE

Betrayed?
Boxing legend Joe Louis gave body and soul to God and country. Did they repay the favor? MORE

Taxi!
Those in need of war films are scoping the wrong Oscar bait. Try the Dark Side: MORE

Pro Choice
Clinton or Obama? Good question. Now, all you have to do is answer it, and wisely: MORE

In Cold Blood
Rick Geary creates comics that paraphrase history without passion. Our interview explains: MORE

RIP, Prof
Kashmere pioneer Conrad Johnson has passed. But his upstart funk still lives on: MORE

Past Proust
Adapting one of canon lit's most knotted yarns into a comic just might work. Wait, it did: MORE

Disowned!
The housing collapse is a failure of white-collar proportions. Klein saw it coming: MORE

Trash It!
Is your home worth less than your mortgage? Then walk away, baby. Just walk away: MORE

Dystopia Drift
Unembedded journo Dahr Jamail has seen Beyond the Green Zone. And it's looking ugly: MORE

Best of 2007
El-P's I'll Sleep When You're Dead was the most brutally honest music of the year: MORE

Fed Up
Bernanke's rate cuts won't stop the bleeding. It will just cover up the tracks. Thanks, Greenspan! MORE

Beat This!
Ike Turner has passed on. But Morphizm's last interface with the funk maestro never will: MORE

Hyperrealist
Karl Rove now says Congress rushed Bush into war with Saddam. Revise your textbooks! MORE

Shop or Die
The Kubler-Ross Model works for death, but it also works for the mall. Even around the Bratz: MORE

The Fixer
Gordon Brown is a go-to guy if you're a lobbyist. Or a fan of Rupert Murdoch: MORE

Guns, Green?
The market has spoken, says Naomi Klein. And it wants bullets rather than renweables: MORE

Pak Attack!
Musharraf may be Bush's nightmare, but he started out as Clinton's daydream: MORE

TomorrowSci!
From pain rays and flying cars to innovations to save our sorry hides from climate change, tomorrow science is here today: MORE

Not a Moralist
The Serbian photographer Boogie has seen his fair share of the global underworld. Good thing he took pictures: MORE

Party's Over
Serj Tankian's debut solo effort Elect the Dead says civilization is over. So why is he smiling? Our interview explains: MORE

The Perv
Pakistan dictator Pervez Musharraf has declared martial law and suspended the constitution. Who's surprised? MORE

God is Bond
Barry Bonds isn't the only sports superstar who points to the Man Upstairs when he scores. Piety has gone viral: MORE

Hypermarket
From plunging dollars to skyrocketing oil, the hyperreal American economy is due for a real-time ass-kicking: MORE

Pin is Back
It's been a long time since the stunning Summer in Abaddon. Good thing Autumn of the Seraphs is on the way: MORE

Ignore Nothing
Indie-hop titan El-P's newest epic I'll Sleep When You're Dead is filled with biohazardous truth. So is he: MORE

Sicko 'Em!
Whatever. Michael Moore's new movie on the corrupt American healthcare system is good for you: MORE

Water For War
If you think the clusterfuck for oil is scary, just wait until we're more worried about H2O than CO2: MORE

Altered States
Don't know much about global warming? Keep it that way. Trust us, you don't wanna know more than that: MORE

Pelican Echoes
If you think wordless metal can bring noise but not brains, we talked to a band that wants to talk to you: MORE

Steampunker
Rasputina has finally embraced the War on Terror in Oh Perilous World. What took so long? We asked: MORE

Osama's Diary
It's a stone cold Morphizm classic. And it will still make you cry. Almost as if it was real. Really: MORE

Slice and Dice
Cake blew up with a cover song, but they're even better at blasting "War Pigs." Our interview explains: MORE

Gaza Lab
Israel. Hamas. Fatah. What the? Gaza is looking less like a prison and more like a petri dish every day: MORE

BagCalgary
Fronts in the War on Terror are shifting. Which means Canada's oil sands are up next for a global warming: MORE

Crow's Nuts
The indie Tony Millionaire strip Maakies is at last making the legit jump to Adult Swim. Bottoms up, sailor: MORE

Vulture Funds
You've got to get in on this one. You buy $5 million in Third World debt relief, then sue for $50 million. Suckers buy it every time: MORE

DIY or Die
Art-punk corn dogs The Minutemen were brazen heroes. It's about fucking time someone gave them a biopic: MORE

Not a Slave
300 director Zack Snyder may be a friend to CGI, but he knows when to leave it alone. Our interview explains: MORE

Physics of Iraq
What goes up must come down and what gets jacked must come back. Ask the British. While you're at it, go ask Icarus: MORE

A Bit Awkward
The Pixies' doc loudQUIETloud captured the band selling out stadiums and ignoring each other. Our interview explains: MORE

Total Chaos
According to our interview with journo and author Jeff Chang, the hip-hop arts movement is far from dead: MORE

Get Truthy!
Stephen Colbert's vivisection of the stoopid Republican machine is an example of linguistics at its ballsiest. Suck on it: MORE

Cry Wolfie
Let's not drink the Kool-Aid. The World Bank was fucked up long before fuckup Paul Wolfowitz took over: MORE

Object: War
Our hyperreal narrative in Iraq is in search of an ending. Will the American people write one before it's too late? MORE

Good Machines
In these liner notes excerpts from his compilation Fuzzy Warbles, XTC architect Andy Partridge's love of tech goes haywire: MORE

Torture Works
Is it just us? Or is the tight-lipped Bush administration's call to torture for information more than ironic? Hey, wait: MORE

Go Fuck Yourselves
President Bush's speech on the war's escalation revealed much. Including how little he cares about...well, everyone: MORE

"How My Brain Works"
From sci-fi to hip-hop, Michel Gondry has a gift for visual invention. And we have a lot of questions for him: MORE

When PNAC Attacks!
Get to know your well-heeled presidential family and other comb-lickers in this excerpt from Fanta's comic Bush Junta: MORE

I'm the Distorter
Sure, the Democrats may have taken over Congress, but the Bush administration hasn't blinked on Iraq. And it never will: MORE

Trial of Trials
Jose Padilla was once a terrorist. Now he's putting U.S. torture policy on trial. Only in America: MORE

Garrison State
Muslims rioting. Americans killing. Too bad no one's made a film called Why We Fight. Wait, Eugene Jarecki has! MORE

Guilin
"The smell of damp earth that hangs over Guilin will surrender, and join the cosmopolis cropping up along the Li:" MORE

Game/Theory
"In the cinematic fashion of the dying antihero, I expired while reading the stars. Coordinates on a grid of contested terrain": MORE

Fanta Goes Beastly
A comics powerhouse compiles a massive tome on our collective nightmares. Vampire and Harpy haters beware: MORE

Shit Happens. Real Fast.
In our continuing exegesis on exponology, China explodes and Antarctica's demise accelerates: MORE

Exponology
The planet is heating at an exponential rate. But what is the exponent, and who are the people spinning it? Enter Morphizm's formative science, awaiting your learned modification: MORE

Panther Power
Fuck Hoover's race paranoia. The Black Panthers have survived, from Marvel comics to hip-hop to a loud ass protest near you: MORE

Surfing With Rosa
In honor of the Pixies doc, Morphizm pays homage to their Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim split, an enduring classic: MORE

Thursday, September 14, 2006

 

Bridge to Somewhere

Here we go again, and to begin with I must apologize. But it's not my fault, because every time I watch The Colbert Report I find something to write about, a reason to be optimistic, and more confirmation that the line between fiction and reality is as only as strong as the metafiction that connects it.

Colbert has a Midas touch when it comes to metafiction, which for those who don't enjoy reading yawning theoretical treatises like I do is basically fiction about fiction, its systems, its themes, its memes and onward. Which might sound like a mouthful of mumbo jumbo, but as the acclaimed poet and author of the influential metafiction actually named Mumbo Jumbo Ishmael Reed wrote in the novel, "This is the country where something is successful in direct proportion to how it's put over; how it's gamed." America's chosen vehicle for gaming the system, any system? You guessed it!

The reason metafiction matters is that it's used and abused to sew or fragment fiction and reality in ways that makes you wonder which is which. Take Colbert for example: One minute he's pranking Hungary with an online campaign to supplant Miklos Zrinyi and name the country's Northern M0 Danube bridge after himself, the next minute he's actually having the bridge named after himself! And so it was that the September 14th installment of The Colbert Report found the "real" Hungarian ambassador Andras Simonyi turning Colbert's hyperreal joke into a bonafide Hungarian citizenship, replete with a passport and fifty American dollars worth of Hungarian florint, and...the bridge! First, Colbert had to fulfill some pressing entry requirements, including proving his fluency in Hungarian (he used the Magyar term for "bridge," of course) and...being dead. That alarming realization calmed affairs down faster than Tucker Carlson got booted off of, what else, a reality TV show. But this was not one of Colbert's Kaufman stunts (Andy, not Charlie): Simonyi gave all signs that the rules could be bent to give Colbert the bridge -- not hard to figure considering how easy Colbert passed the fluency test -- even though he's supposed to be dead to receive the honor. Rules aren't what they used to be in our mediaverse. Nowadays, you can break any one you want and just drop your Hancock on a signing statement to make it...what's the word? Oh yeah. Real.

Need more proof? Chew on this: Stephen Colbert has not one but two entries on Wikipedia in his name, because that name (and its identity, depending on the receiver) is used to describe both the man and the character he plays on television. But which is which? Which Colbert was it that unleashed those succulent slams of Bush administration incompetence at the Washington Correspondents Dinner, where the "real" Bush sat through clenched teeth, trying to answer the same question himself? He must have wondered, knowing full well that it wasn't too much earlier in the evening he was talking to a simulation of himself. My unanswered question is whether or not Bush took the exchange further and wondered if he in fact was not himself, but rather his metafictional twin, sitting there through those clenched teeth, listening to Colbert blow holes in some president's legacy.

You laugh, but it was Moby Dick author Herman Melville himself who in one of his greatest, if most maligned, novels about American culture had one character ask another "Who knows, my dear sir, but for a time you may have taken yourself for somebody else? Stranger things have happened." The name of that novel binds all of these ideas together: The Confidence-Man. That the character asking the question is trying to game the other, recalling Reed, to get his cash is as instructive as the fact that Melville's America filled with thieves, hustlers, charlatans, and obsessives. Captain Ahab's desperate quest to destroy a whale for he what perceives as a personal attack (yeah, Ahab, the whale took your leg on purpose) takes the readership and characters of Moby-Dick through hundreds of densely knotted pages only to kill them all but one at sea. Sound like anyone you know?

That the only character left alive in Moby-Dick is named Ishmael connects nicely back to Reed, who delivers us back to Colbert and his metafictional exploits, whether they're exploiting the loopholes of language like his "Word" segment or identity like his dual Wikis. Or whether he's totally gaming systems from Washington to Hungary with a bifurcated persona intent on destabilizing party lines and international borders. That Hungary agreed to name their bridge after him at all is a testament to the power of metafiction, and the way Colbert freaks it, as hip-hop would say, as a cultural weapon. That the Emmys decided to crown Manilow over him shows you just how scared they are of him.

And they should be. With a joke, he got a bridge named after him in Hungary. How long will it be before his metafiction spirals into the juggernaut it can become, before it can make things move that fast here at home? Colbert was born a aggregated simulation of blowhard Bill O'Reilly (who?) and those like him, and now his narrative has superseded O'Reilly's, whose ratings are going nowhere but down. Wikipedia is deciding whether or not Colbert's identiities online, which are nothing but collected synopses and analyses of his "real" self, should be merged at last. (True-school Colbert fans should get in on that action and say hell no.) Sensing his growing power and cachet, The Washington Correspondents Dinner invited one Colbert to deliver a crowd-pleasing speech, and the other showed up with a stream of killer jokes couched in tragic reality.

Some may laugh and others may condemn, but they're the ones who were for the war in Iraq before they were against it, mostly because they couldn't see through the Bush administration's proof-challenged postmodern pitch on Saddam and Baghdad. Right after, I might add, Osama bin Laden and his crew of fundamentalists (literary critics call them formalists) brought down some of the tallest buildings in Manhattan, killing thousands. If that's not proof that the mechanisms of metafiction are to be learned or ignored at the nation's peril, what is? Colbert employs metafiction for laughs and to get bridges in Hungary named after him. Our president, Commander-in-Chief of the greatest superpower on Earth, employs it to take our eyes off of Saudi Arabia, a monarchy trying to align itself as funamentally as possible with the subverted texts of its faith, and keep them on Iraq, a once-secular nation now under the repressive thumb of a leaking fiction called democracy.

Who's laughing now?

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