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Showing posts from July 15, 2001
Terrible, violence at Genoa - displayed, of course, by the G8 leaders, whose meetings are taking on more and more the air of some ghostly collocation called up by Metternich. That these paladins of globalization on capitalism's terms refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the protesters, and that for the most part, in the US, the police lines are backed by the media lines, has a familiar feel to it - it's the US in Vietnam, 1966. Here's a link to Lib�ration - L'information avec l'AFP , which has the most articles.
So when Ferdinand Lopez borrows 750 pounds from Sextus Parker, I get a pleasurable tingle of anticipation. The race has begun. And I know that this is a magical race, in which the runner who chooses to enter it will lose his skin. There are races like that in Greek myths � the suitors who raced for Atalanta�s hand, for instance. I think it was Atalanta � I must look this up. These suitors had to confront a great pyramid of skulls when they came to ask for her hand � all the suitors who had lost. Trollope, as I said before, is a great favorite of mine. I keep urging him on my friend, Sarah Raff, who is doing a dissertation on Jane Austen. I always connect those two writers � they are both, it seems to me, supremely insular. But so far, Sarah has resisted Trollope, and I have wondered why. Am I wrong about their similarity? More in my next post. Write me at Editor .
The Prime Minister begins with borrowed money. A lot of the great 19th century novels begin with borrowed money � La Peau de Chagrin and Crime and Punishment come immediately to mind. In La Peau de Chagrin, Raphael is first seen losing all his money gambling - but he is gambling because he has come to the end of his rope. He can't think of any other way to pay off his creditors. In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov is not only mad enough to think that God is dead, but has just that little extra micron of lunacy that convinces him he can fight Mammon � which he does by hacking up an old money lender. But as every reader knows, Mammon, in the form of borrowed money, always wins. What is it about borrowed money that encodes a narrative pattern so at home in the 19th century? Well, think about how Marx describes money in terms of dead capital and living capital. The dead and living metaphor isn�t his � it is a commonplace of the time. To animate capital � to use your money - was
The British, that was going to be the topic of this post. I've been watching the battle of the Tory pretenders - not that I fully understand it. The party seems to operate on the survivor principle - put four or five Tory leaders who hate each other together, have them whisper about which one of them is gay, which a Jew, and which one is in the pocket of the French, and then unleash the hatred of the backbenchers, in the form of a vote, to decide who gets to lead the party into its next major defeat. Read about it in the Spectator . The surprise defeat so far is of Michael Portillo - a loyal Thatcher-ite who got too wobbly for the grande dame. Really, Thatcher is an odious figure, one of the great disasters of modern times. But I do like the way her pronouncements always seem like they are outtakes from the movie, The Ruling Class . Apparently she has taken to calling Portillo "the Spaniard" - can't you just hear it? Which is why I was reminded of the Ruling Class
I haven't figured out how to put my e-mail address up in the column to the left. So here it is - e-mail me at I think I will use the e-mail address as a sign off for each of my posts, so that it is available for the stray reader.
The British. I'm going to post tomorrow, but I went today to the Guardian and was rather shocked that Jeffrey Archer is going to prison. Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Political chancer with lots of fizz Notice that none of the conservative bluebloods have the guts to stand up for him, except for John Major. Hey, I think Archer's politics are contemptible, and his wonking around with the press - his lying in court to extract libel money from the tabloids - is, obviously, the kind of thing you must deal with by extracting some comparably ruinous sum from Archer. But why send the guy to prison? Not that I think he deserves some special immunity from the cell - I believe that most imprisoned folk, from drug users to forgers to drug dealers, would be better dealt with outside of prison. The monstrous machinery of the penal system does little good to the people inside it, doesn't compensate the people they have damaged outside it, and serves mainly as a monu
There�s an interview in Salon with Joe Queenan , who is one of those people, like James Wolcott, who has a reputation for fierceness that is belied by his actual work � these are strictly Wizard of Oz lions, with claws that tear not, and teeth that do not bite, nor mangle the oh so tender flesh. That said, Queenan does throw a stone against the �Greatest Generation� garbage. That�s nice � I don�t really understand the current wave of delayed gratitude for Victory over Berlin, except as a ploy to re-invest the war movie with audience interest. Nobody, really, is going to pay to see too many movies about our brave bombers in Serbia, right? Still, this generational patronizing is not only insulting, but betrays a severely limited historical scope. Well, that such as Tom Brokaw exhibit severely limited historical scope, or none at all, perhaps goes without saying, but the promotion of this G.G. trope through book reviews, and the elevation of conservative historians like Stephen
Here's a nice site about the FBI - TRAC: FBI Site - Comprehensive, independent, and nonpartisan information about FBI . I don't know about you, but the crime that fascinates me even more Chandra Levy's abduction by minions of the evil Condit � oops, I�m just speculating, really no need to get out your libel lawyers - is the continuing saga of Whitey Bolger, the eminence coupable of South Boston, who is being chased using the usual Keystone Cops method by an FBI that has every reason not to want him caught. Bolger, for those of you who haven�t read BLACK MASS, had the Boston FBI pretty much on his salary in the 80s. And if recent stories are true, the Boston office has always had a chummy relationship with certain gangster types in the Boston area � they even, obligingly, hid evidence to frame a guy for murder in the 60s, because the faux perp was a great cut-out for the real perp, who was being protected as an �informer.� See Boston Herald's coverage in particular -
Yesterday the LA Times had a very interesting book section devoted to the Spanish Civil War. I love the LA Times Sunday book section. Even when it is weak, it displays an editorial personality absent from the NY Times Sunday book section. Of particular note are the two essays by Bernard Knox and Christopher Hitchens. Knox writes as an old veteran of the International brigades, and would no doubt be jeered at as a dupe by the New Republic crowd. Hitchens has a nice piece on Orwell, prompted by a collection of Orwell�s pieces on the Civil War � which, of course, Orwell fought in. By accident, Orwell was able to experience the hunting down of the POUM, Andres Nin�s party � for which Serge tried, vainly, to get Trotsky to speak up � and which was defeated partly because Nin was kidnapped, tortured and killed by the Stalinists. I�ve always thought Neruda�s part in these events was particularly dirty. Last year I read a biography of the photographer, Tina Modotti, and I was surprised to di
Wow - I just posted a long bit, and the blogger ate it. I don't really understand that. Nor am I pleased. Okay. Since it was a long and funny, or so I thought, diary piece - I'll just have to swallow the insult to my creativity and start again, right? Which is the really stupid thing about computers - when something misfunctions and you lose something of value, it is a real confrontation with absense - it isn't like losing something which is retained, somewhere, in the system, it is more like dying.