Monday, October 24, 2011

WikiLeaks plugged

A bank blockade is about to staunch the flow of information from Julian Assange's notorious WikiLeaks website. According to reports in the Guardian and the New York Times, two of the newspapers that splashed the news from a torrent of secret documents uploaded to the website mostly by a low-level American soldier, Bradley Manning, publishing has stopped abruptly. What's lacking is, er, liquidity.

Julian Assange announced Monday that his pro-transparency hacker website will temporarily halt publication because of a cash shortage and will now concentrate on fundaising efforts. Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, Western Union, and Paypal boycotted WikiLeaks last year after the release of thousands of classified U.S. State Department cables and a threat to leak a big stash of documents incriminating the Bank of America. Consequently, the organization has lost about 95 percent of its revenues, Assange said at a press conference in London. Mortgage frauds hinted at in B of A emails were published on the related site Anonymous in March, but had less impact than anticipated. Arizona and Nevada had already filed charges for
a host of deceptive practices by Bank of America, including falsely advising people that they must be in default before getting a modification, promising modifications would be made permanent after an initial trial period, and pursuing foreclosures even after assuring homeowners that the foreclosure process was stopped.
Already, the death knell is sounding and commentators are writing obituaries for the website, like this one in the Atlantic. While Manning remains in solitary confinement, the Australian whistleblower Assange is out on bail in Britain.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Rebel Without A Clause? Review of 'Rimbaud in Java'

Writer Jamie James attempted to fictionalize his research for a novel,  after nine years of investigation, but ultimately he abandoned make-believe dialogue for the dogged truth.  That's a reporter. The book is released this week, and I got a chance to review it.

Long before Rambo, there was Rimbaud.
In fact, the poet Arthur Rimbaud can be seen as a kind of anti-Rambo: a literary child prodigy, army deserter, and blue-eyed French fop.
Consider "Bad Blood": A Season in Hell.

It sounds like an appropriate title for a Sly Stallone action movie sequel, but the punchy phrases are taken from an extraordinary prose poem, self-published by an openly gay teenager in 1873, which still is considered a milestone in French literature.

Jamie James's latest book, Rimbaud in Java-The Lost Voyage,  details the poet Arthur Rimbaud's inspiration and desperation to keep a low profile in a weird bygone Java replete with magic and carnal mysticism, then traces his travels back to Europe incognito as a deckhand aboard a steamer. Detours into sexual deviancy in the Victorian age and amorous French attitudes towards Orientalism and Islam are relevant and gripping.

Arthur Rimbaud, decadent teen poet