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Showing posts from August 12, 2001
Remora. For those of you who wonder what art gallery curators do, anyway, here's a story .(Courtesy of Wonkoslice ) In order to garner a little free publicity and to degrade the lives of thirty artists (the ones chosen for the exhibit), the Blue Gallery in London is sponsoring an exhibit on the theme of Margaret Thatcher. Here's a quote from the obviously empty-headed Tara Howard: "The gallery curator, Tara Howard, said: "Time is ripe for a contemporary art response to the Thatcher phenomenon. "Inevitably, some artists will take an oblique or politicised approach to the subject but I wanted to keep the focus on her rather than on Thatcher's Britain. "I'm interested in her erotic-iconic quality and her ability to provoke extremes of response." Ah, yes, nothing too political - the Saatchis, after all, have unloaded their Hans Haacke's at rockbottom prices. Politics is out, outre, and might be offensive to New Labour sensi
Remora - I'm dissatisfied with the fusee category, because I can't put an accent over the e. I'm changing it to remora - a remora is a sucker fish, which once upon a time was believed to have the power of stopping ships by attaching itself to their hulls. I'm rather sad that the Industry Standard threw in its cards yesterday. Sad, disgusted -- the Net hype and hope, while it lasted, was fun to throw stones at, but anybody who wants to make a living writing has to grieve as the casualty lists come in. My god, who is going to hire us? More on that at some other time. One of the always underrated aspects of the Net is the way people, spontaneously, do such incredibly wonderful things - like the Nietzsche Channel This site not only includes Nietzsche's texts in German and English, but includes the Nachlass - all those fragments that Nietzsche's evil sister gathered into The Will To Power, a book that as we all know, does not really exist. The Anti-Christ
Dope. Cue the mood music please. Usually I don�t do �my golden memories� posts, but how can I resist, after reading Christagau�s faintly condescending bit on Kurt Cobain in this review of the latest Kurt Cobain bio? The Argument graf is rather stale: �He had little of the self-regard of Mick Jagger, Alice Cooper, Johnny Rotten, Michael Stipe, and none of the vanity or the clothes sense or the theatrical savoir-faire. Yet he wasn't a symbolic Everyman in the manner of Springsteen, John Fogerty, or Garth Brooks, either. He seemed like every born loser who ever failed gym�a geek you could get wasted with, a shy guy whose cuteness cried out for mothering, an arty weirdo with a common touch. So for two or three years, until his suicide registered as an act of abandonment, he gave a generation of losers a hero who felt like a loser himself, even in success�as opposed to a hero whose triumph they could only admire, emulate, envy.� Here are some words to the wise: trotting out the t
Fusee On the perks of tenure. Alan Krueger begins an article in the biz section of the NYT as follows: "NOT long ago, I asked my research assistant, Melissa Clark, to track down a passage from "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith. Although I expected her to consult the modern edition, she instead requested the original 1776 edition from Princeton's Rare Book Library. The librarian accidentally gave her the fifth edition, published in 1789, and therein she discovered a remarkable signature: George Washington." - Following this lede, Krueger goes off on Adam Smith and Rothschild's recent book on same, but I was so blown away by the, well, laziness inherent in the cozy system in which the Kruegers of the world have their niches that I had a hard time following. You get your assistant - your assistant - to track down passages in Wealth of Nations? Most of us would simply call it up on the Net - it is on this link - use the find function, then ta
Fusee Okay, this is a sort of private joke. But with my friend Margarita in Bulgaria right now, how could I resist this article about watching Latin American telenovelas in Sophia: JMB 2.1: Kotzeva, Private Fantasies, Public Policies ?
Dope Headline in the NYT today Cosmic Laws Like Speed of Light Might Be Changing, a Study Finds begs the question: what are changeable cosmic laws? The very application of law to physis has been a hot philosophical topic since Hume - well, okay, since before Hume, but Hume is the modern touchstone. The modernity of Hume is, to some extent, his full acceptance of the law of non-contradiction - that P can't be both a and non-a. The mystic instinct has always been to protest against the straitjacket of that logic, but the objection, since Hume, has moved from statements about states to statements about events - since events bring up the question of possibility and necessity. This, of course, is a vast subject. And it touches on today's dope, which will be about the Romanian - French philosopher Stephane Lopasco. Stephane Lopasco was born in Romania, but came to France, like his friend Cioran, and like so many other Romanian intellectuals, did, because of the wonderful
Fusee. For those readers casting about for a different career, here's an article by John Roselli about castrati I think it is a little too late for me to consider castration - but it does seem to have boomed in tough times in 17th century Italy. No service industry back then, you see, to take up the slack - so nothing to do with your younger and more useless children than plop them in nunneries and monasteries. And once in the monastery, well, castration just might be your key to the good life. Here's a graf to consider - the Burney referred to is an English traveller who was apparently the man to go to if you wanted the news about castrati in 1750. "Other characteristics are as unclear now as they were in Burney's day. Writers of the time were content to repeat a farrago of notions drawn from ancient authors such as Hippocrates: castration cured or prevented gout, elephantiasis, leprosy, and hernia; castrati tended to have weak eyes and a weak pulse, lacked fo
Dope Wow. I love the New York Times Business section. The echt biz columnists are always sharp. But they opinion columnists, people like Virginia Postrel, are the red meat type - the kind that want to contractualize every pee. Today it is somebody named Daniel Akst - In Genoa's Noise, a Trumpet for Capitalism - who resurrects a trope last heard during the Vietnam war - that the protests against the G8 are staged by the spoiled children of the G8 who have just benefitted immensely from it all. Much like the protesters against the Vietnam war who a. didn't understand it and b. benefitted from America's robust, Bomber backed committment to freedom, longhaired punks that they were, and were trying to block the good fight with a lot of weepy-washy malarky about napalming children. Look, those children were dangerous! the Aksts of the world point out, being rational souls. Well, there is one telling difference. Akst avoids saying that the protestors are smelly - among con
Fus�e Smoke Signals is an interesting little Village Zine - apparently rooted in the old 50s to 70s boho scene. Scroll to the end of the page to read Barney Rossett's account of how Grove Press was taken over - as in sit in taken over, as in seventies activism - by a contingent of protesting women's libbers - that is the language used in the article. Yes, a whiff of the archaic. It is a sad story for Rosset - but I am conflicted about it, ultimately. One of the great things feminism did for American culture was sweep away that schlocky male adolescent view of women in the Great American Novel (which I take it is that Novel consisting of all the aspirant novels). From Miller to Pynchon, this did a lot of damage to American lit, reducing female characters to a photo spread thinness. Compare, say, Henry James. There was nothing pleasant about seeing women thrown about like so many blow up sex dolls by male writers in the throes of temper tantrums better thrown when they wer
Fusee. Alan - who is on my tail about this issue - makes the reasonable comment that, if I am competing with arts and letters, my macro commentary might be excessive load for good link. I hope my "fusee/dope" categories solve this problem. For those who want to be pointed to an interesting link without excessive interference by my interpretation, there are the fusee; and for those who don't mind me hopping around like some combination of Rumpelstiltskin and Karl Marx frothing about some possibly esoteric issue, there is the dope. Yesterday, I was finishing up - for review - a copy of William Vollman's next novel, which relies heavily on John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia, and I decided to look up the Generall Historie on the web. Shockingly, there is no complete text on-line. I found a fragment here . Even that fragment reveals that Smith was a admirable writer - and, even more, he eerily presages American humor. Apparently laconic exaggeration - the
Fusee A link to a nice essay on noir writer Jim Thompson ( Jim Thompson's Lost Hollywood Years ). Although the attempt at noir metaphor in the piece is a little silly ("Wielding words like a baby with a chainsaw" - a sentence that could only have been written by a man with a very unclear idea of what the conjunction of a baby and a chainsaw would actually look like - hint: it isn't very much like deathless prose), the fate dealt Thompson by Hollywood's studios reminds me of a bracing little essay by Joan Didion about the place in the pecking order accorded screenwriters by the sybaritic semi-literates that own the studios and act in the movies. Oh, well - why should Hollywood be any different from the rest of the country?
Now that I am starting to get technically sound and sassy on this site, I've been thinking about tightening up the writing. From now on, I'm dividing up the posts between "fusees" - little fireworks - and dope. Dope will be elaborate, fusees will be one to two grafs. This, for example, is dope: The NYT report on water this morning - Near Vast Bodies of Water, Land Lies Parched - reminds me of a large piece I wanted to do on water last year. It is going to be one of the fascinating fights of the future. Very simply, the problem goes like this. In the twentieth century an elegant technical solution was found to the problem of the land surface to crop ratio. This was synthesizing ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gases - fertilizer. It is a sign of how accustomed we are to our present food system that fertilizer, as a technical advance, doesn't even register in the popular imagination. Fritz Haber's name is generally not known - Time magazine did n
NEW FEATURE - yes, as you can see, you can now talk back to me. Thanks are due to Alan Cook, who figured out how to put that reblogger tool in my template. Now we are cooking! Alan also gave me some content advice - can the posts about italian politics, and for god's sake, can I please not be so shrill, please? He said I sound like the Rush Limbaugh of the Left. Well, I sorta want to sound like the R.Limbaugh of the Left - that is, the Rush of his first, golden years, when he was still funny. But okay, moderate the tone, I can do that. As for the Italian politics - isn't everybody interested in the tangled history of the Andreotti? Maybe, maybe... maybe just me. Another thing: I don't deliver on my promises. So my parable, yesterday, I promised to put up the gloss on the thing today, and tell you all about social costs . IAnd I didn't. Why? Cause I'm a liar. But 'm gonna, I'm gonna, tomorrow. Alan neglected to say that at least I give good link. Lik