Saturday, June 22, 2002

Angola (part 2)

I know the names of those responsible for the slaughter�
I know the names of those responsible for the slaughters�
I know the names of the summit that manipulated�
I know the names of those who ran�
I know the names of the powerful group who�
I know the names of those who, between on mass and the next, made provision and guaranteed political protection�
I know the names of the important and serious figures behind who are behind the ridiculous figures who�
I know the names of the important and serious figures behind the tragic kids who�
I know all these names and all the acts (the slaughters, the attacks on institutions) they have been guilty of�
- Pier Paolo Pasolini

This passage, from one of Pasolini's hallucinatory articles in the early seventies � the articles that possibly led to him being lured to a beach and murdered � is quoted in Peter Robb's excellent Midnight in Sicily, to which we have previously referred in our post on Sciascia. Pasolini, Robb says, went on to explain that he knew, but he didn't have proof. He knew, however, because "I am a writer and an intellectual who tries to follow what goes on, to imagine what is known and what is kept quiet, who pieces together the disorganized fragments of a whole and coherent political picture, who restores logic where arbitrariness, mystery and madness seem to prevail."

The American writer, burdened with a less active imagination, and a set of clich�s that tend either to Hollywood or to the pisspoor identity kit politics that has narcotized academia for the past ten years, usually pieces together nothing but a homemade prejudice, a narcissistic grievance.

And LI is an American writer, all right? So don't ask me to rise to the heights.

Still, the quote seems appropriate as LI pulls back, these days,. Have you been getting the full heady rush of the world of blowback in your nostrils, your skin, your nerves, your blood, reader? The American jitters since 9/11. Tick it off, one, two.

- There's the odd paralysis that keeps American troops from sealing the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan to actually capture AlQaeda operatives, in contrast with the troop heavy plans to invade a country that happens not to have attacked the US, Iraq.

-There's the unfelt, as yet, paralysis of civil liberties, as if the systematic weakening of our civil freedoms (of speech, of association, of purchase, of due process) was happening somewhere else, at a great distance. It is death by spider bite, death by Ashcroft, and the poison travels in subdermal channels, it operates as the vague threat of power, of something coming down, of a constraint one doesn't know how to name or give a face to.

--There are the truly brain dead, there are the tests that show, in a thousand subtle ways, who the zombies were all along. Like Steven Spielberg, who tells the NYT that he is magnanimously willing to give up his civil liberties to stop "9/11 from ever happening again."(1)

-There are the "organs"� the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, all the intelligence agencies that should never have existed in the first place, the state's version of polymorphous perversity. The organs upon which we are dumping money and power to protect the Heimat, while at the same time investigating the multiple incompetencies that demonstrate their structural inability to protect the Heimat. And no, it isn't because the terrorists are terribly clever. This is the new era, the era of terrorism as a hobby. If you can build a model plane, you can hijack a plane. And the FBI's newly expanded ability to penetrate chat rooms won't make a damn bit of difference.

So this is the state of play twelve years after the Fall of the Wall. After the fall of the utopia of rust in Eastern Europe. After the decade of global commercial nihilism, when the plan was... the end of history plan was... draining away what Schopenhauer called the Metphysical Need of Mankind:

'Excepting mankind, no other being wonders about its own existence; to the other creatures, existence is understood of itself so much that it isn't even noticed. Out of the calm regard of the beast the wisdom of nature speaks; because in them the will and the intellect aren't yet far enough apart that their mutual collisions against one another to cause them any curiosity. So the whole of phenomena still hangs from the branch of nature on which it budded, and is at one with the unconscious omniscience of the great mother. Only after the inner essence of nature (the will to life objectified) ascends through both realms of consciousless being and then through the long and broad series of beasts, cunning and amiable, does it finally arrive, with the entrance of reason, at Man, and so for the first time at reflection. Because at that moment it begins to wonder about its own works and asks itself, what it is...With this reflection and this astonishment there arises, in humankind alone, the peculiar need for a metaphysics..."

Yes, that's the basic gripe, the root of the anti-corporate movement: the fear that the globalizing world is returning us to the calm regard of the beast. We would no longer ask how it works -- just as we accept any of the improbable crap we see in typical Hollywood action flicks. The discontinuity, the shallowness, or non-existence, of character, the one note motives. Those films, the malls, the traffic, the talk radio -- all of it is about culture sinking to its lowest, dumbest level. It is the debauched image of the romantic ideal, life without questions, except for the unfortunate few -- okay, the vast majority -- who have been left outside of the all the golden gated communities.

No culture, no questions, no worries. But the peculiar need for metaphysics pops up in the most curious places, doesn't it? It popped up at Enron. It is popping up about the days and ways of Heimat security, back in the pre 9/11 idyll.

So: LI refuses. We refuse the end of history, we refuse the surrender of the need for metaphysics. You know we are a bunch of resentful failures around here, so what do you expect? But from the perspective of that refusal, we pick up on little stories, we make our trivial little connections.

For instance, we think that the story of what happened, and has been happening, in Angola, has something ghoulishly exemplary about it. The events that flow into and out of the death of Jonas Savimba, madman and murder that he was, the George Washington of dirty diamonds, the strong right arm of evangelical Christians (2)(some of whose leaders, like Pat Robertson (3), have strong and secret ties in this region of the world with diamond dealers, arms merchants, and some of the bloodiest tyrants of recent history), show that once again, Africa is where the white man lets down his pants, as Celine once wrote, and takes a dump. It seems to have been little remarked that Cheney is the first Vice President ever to have hired a mercenary army in a foreign land. Is this the Oliver North syndrome or what? Yes, as head of Haliburton, which includes the giant engineering firm, Brown and Root, Cheney was involved, no doubt at a distance, with a South African company named Executive Outcomes. Executive Outcomes -- which has dissolved, and reformed under a different name, last year -- was a PMC -- a private military company. Oh, it wasn't anything as tawdry as a group of hired killers. There's a rather laudatory article about EO in the magazine of the College of the Army, Parameters. Here's a list of such PMCs:

"A 1997 study by the private Center for Defense Information lists dozens of such organizations with international operations. South Africa has been the leading home of international security companies, including Executive Outcomes, Combat Force, Investments Surveys, Honey Badger Arms and Ammunition, Shield Security, Kas Enterprises, Saracen International, and Longreach Security. International military firms based in other parts of the world include Alpha Five, Corporate Trading International, Omega Support Ltd., Parasec Strategic Concept, Jardine Securicor Gurkha Services (Hong Kong), Gurkha Security Guards (Isle of Man, UK), Special Project Service Ltd. (UK), Defence Systems Ltd. (UK), Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Vinnell Corporation (US), and Military Professional Resources Inc. (US). Executive Outcomes (South Africa) has been described as "the world's first fully equipped corporate army."

Isn't that something? a fully equipped corporate army. Press on the pedals, bring out the irony. Savimbi's UNITA army was undone by dos Santos by these guys, with Heritage Oil being, apparently, the middleman. The EO guys once fought for UNITA -- back in the days when dos Santos was a Marxist threat. Now, of course, dos Santos is merely a highly corrupt billionaire, and EO is happy to do the dirty in his employ. Heritage Oil meanwhile maintains its own little connections with the Bush family. There's an article in the Observatoire de Afrique Centrale this week that fingers Tony Buckingham, a canadian diamond merchant and soldier of fortune, as the man behind Heritage's african explorations in petrowealth. Heritage also holds stock in one of the PMC's that murdered protestors at a mine in Papua New Guinea in 1997. Cheney's associates, in other words, happen to have a little blood on their cuffs, but that's all right. Who's going to ask any questions about it? It 's a matter of keeping the natives under control, and lately isn't the mood changing? Isn't imperialism the new new thing?

I know the names. We all know the names. But do we really give a fuck?

1. "Right now, people are willing to give away a lot of their freedoms in order to feel safe. They're willing to give the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. far-reaching powers to, as George W. Bush often says, root out those individuals who are a danger to our way of living. I am on the president's side in this instance. I am willing to give up some of my personal freedoms in order to stop 9/11 from ever happening again." NYT

2. See, for instance, the hilarious obituary of that Christian parfait knight on the NewsMax site. De mortuis nil nisi bonum
etc., but still -- I have never read an obituary that congregated so many lies in so little space. It makes me giddy.
3. For a brief summing up of Robertson's interest, and general sleeziness, see this story, by Greg Palast, on his site. Here are three interesting grafs from it:

"Neil Volder, president of Robertson Financial and director of the new bank venture, emphasises that Robertson selflessly donated between 65 and 75 per cent of his salary as head of International Family Entertainment. But that amounted to only a few hundred thousand dollars a year - pocket change for a man of Robertson's means.

There was also, says Volder, the $7m he gave to 'Operation Blessing' to alleviate the woes of refugees fleeing genocide in Rwanda. Robertson's press operation puts the sum at only $1.2m. More interesting is the way the Operation Blessing funds were used in Africa. Through an emotional fundraising drive on his TV station, Robertson raised several million dollars for the tax-free charitable trust. Operation Blessing bought planes to shuttle medical supplies in and out of the refugee camp in Goma, Congo (then Zaire).

But investigative reporter Bill Sizemore of the Virginian Pilot discovered that over a six-month period - except for one medical flight - the planes were used to haul equipment for something called African Development Corporation, a diamond mining operation a long way from Goma. African Development is owned by Pat Robertson."

4. See this Washington Post piece by Jon Jeter. The election of 1994, which legitimated dos Santos, was dubbed the choice between the Killers and the Robbers by the electorate. Jeter quotes estimates that put dos Santos' fortune in the 2 billion dollar range.

Thursday, June 20, 2002


Kenneth Minogue is a conservative economist of some sort at the London School of Economics. Limited Inc knows him solely as the author of a screamingly funny article in the New Criterion about the fall of Western Civilization. The jew, this time, isn't at the root of it all -- yes, times have changed, and now right wingers are proclaiming themselves the most philo of philosemites. No, at the root it turns out is the radical feminist. Taking leaps and making rhetorical pirouttes rather in the style of one of the Chansons de Maldoror (which so enthralled the surrealists), Minogue concocted, in this essay, one of those fanciful dreamscapes that makes the Scaife foundation crowd cream in their Bill Blass slacks. He overviews the enemies of the west from Islam to Stalin, and then -- drumroll please -- he finds the nasty fifth column in the kitchen:

"In the course of the 1960s, a new tribe was established that also sought to overthrow the Western citadel from within and had notably greater success. This was Betty Friedan�s radical feminists."

This is the caliber of character chosen by the TLS to review Will Hutton's latest lefty screed, The World We are In.Limited Inc wants to express our deepest respect for the Minogue's piece, Back to the future, in the June seventh issue. Minogue, in a mere two pages, manages to sound every rightwing shibboleth he could think of. The result is like the MIDI version of the Eroica -- grandeur reduced to tinniness.

M. starts from the refreshing premises that there are two possible political positions -- after, of course, ritually bashing Hutton for believing that there are only two possible political positions. On the one side, there is the "brutish and unconstrained state," and their ombudsmen. Hutton, who as an advocate of the 'stakeholder society" -(a school of thought that holds that the firm should be guided as much by the interests of its stakeholders -- customers, employees, and community -- as by its shareholders) is clearly on the Shadow side. Or shall we say his is the politics of steak tartare -- it looks normal on the outside, but it is bloody pink on the inside. His shareholder idea is nothing more than "backdoor socialism." And one knows from Minogue's previous writing about feminism that backdoor carries a heavy metaphorical burden for him, a sexual aura. Let's just say that Hutton's is the kind of politics you'd expect to appeal to a sodomite, begging your pardon and casting no animadversions on the man himself.

As we said, there are two sides in this struggle, however. Fighting the good fight against these latterday gremlins from the Kremlin are the advocates of "market freedom."

"Freedom" is practically the mating call of your average right winger. And like the mating call of the cuckoo, the bandicoot, and the Cactus Wren, it means something different to its own species than it means to someone like, well, Limited Inc. Because LI doesn't understand the aphrodisiacal qualities of glueing together freedom and market. Freedom and love, for instance, we like that. But freedom and market has never stirred the blood, what? And further, we don't understand to what agent the quality of freedom is being ascribed. Is it the freedom of the marketeer? Is it the freedom of the buyer? Are they both the same kind of freedoms? And how about the producers, and the service infrastructure? Are they agents? Surely, within these categories are social entities, sometimes on a vast scale, which extend over a collective of workers that are not quite represented (except as ... dread word ... stakeholders) by their organizational representatives in the market. The Sears salesman is not Sears --which is why Sears can fire him without committing suicide. But bien sur, he is marketing himself -- since every market contains a market. Scrooge knew this, and so does Minogue. You are your brand. LI has always had a more romantic vision of what freedom is all about. As in striking off the mind forged manacles of man. But no -- freedom here has been reduced to a shell of itself, a cultural nullity, an invitation to conformity on a large scale. We can't get with the program.

And then, of course, there is a whole set of questions about how the freedoms are secured. By, uh, the state? So let me get this straight, the brute state is enforcing freedom of contract, and other great stuff, like a central bank to help prop up the stock market in a dull season, and the state is enforcing the freedom to monetize what was formerly common (under the name of Intellectual property), and so you can't just be a Mexican farmer and go out and plant corn anymore cause Monsanto bought your corn gene, like, and so Monsanto can bring you into court for that, which is a state institution, but this is all in the name of market freedom, right, and and.. this state activity is entirely neutral, right, and in fact virtuous? This is where the plot gets all confused for a guy like me. Who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys again? I think it is like this. The state plays the role of Igor, here, to Minogue's mad economic scientist. Minogue says things like, bring in the spurious extension of our patent for that pharmaceutical, and Igor scurries off, and then comes back and hands it to him. And things like that. This is called Freedom of the Marketplace, and it is coming soon, to a theater near you.

And, well, and then LI starts getting all childish, and pulling on professor Minogue's trousers, and pestering him with questions. Such as, what's the metric here, anyway? We have one to suggest, since we are speaking in terms of the marketplace. Maybe freedom is purchasing power. But of course, the rightwing goes all romantic and vague when you mention things like this, and they start muttering about how terrible equality is, and the like. Because the unpleasant fact is that purchasing power is unequal in the market, and if the market is the arena of freedom, then surely the unequal power of the market's agents has some bearing on how that freedom is enacted.

We still don't like Minogue's game. We still think this isn't the essence of freedom, this isn't all there is to having the option to do one thing or the other (which I imagine must be bundled, somehow, into the notion of freedom). But what we like about the notion of comparable purchasing powers, or the comparison of resources one brings to the market, or accrues in the market, is that it makes freedom a measurable quality. Here, then, is the paradox: the Freedom of the marketplace, where it has been unleashed in all its glory, seems to result in a startling disproportion of wealth -- or ability to do one thing (travel, eat, get educated) instead of another. So that it is possible that the agregate freedom of the agents in the marketplace actually diminishes as the market is given more freedom. More options, less ability to make choices. That is, it is possible that more and more financial power, and thus freedom, accrues to fewer and fewer. And those endowed with this greater freedom, using the scale of their market power (for anything that can be quantified can be marketed -- that's a simple rule), will operate within the structures of power as Market makers, turning legislative power into a market. Hey, welcome to reality. This, in fact, is what happens. The elected, the bureaucrats, the minions of the state in the Western system, ally with these freer agents in the market to do battle with each other, given the interests each private entity has. Meanwhile, the state tumbles into the market, dissolving its tangible services into those that are traded for tangible awards (as policies are designed in order to please contributers) and intangible ones (for instance, in the trust felt by the regulators of, say, the Power industry, that they will be hired by said industry when they retire from their various posts).

This is the kind of problem that vexed Montesquieu -- and it was the kind of problem that made Enlightenment thinkers very subtle about what, exactly, constitutes state power, how it is embodied, how its branches conflict, etc., and how the limits it imposed on the market actually promoted the greater freedom of the agents in the market. All lost on such as Minogue. His is a resolutely Thatcherian conservativism -- tied to the holy scriptures a la Hayek, and without much sense for what the labels mean anymore. Which might be why he throws around conservative pejoratives without thinking much about them. For instance, he talks of the 'brutish" state. That is the kind of talk that confuses LI. We are in the good old lefty tradition that is always suspicious of the state's brutish tendencies, too. But for us, brutish means, well, things like bombing unarmed civilians, or mobilizing ethnic hatred, or criminalizing drugs and incarcerating at a wholly mad level an unacceptable percentage of ethnic minorities, or what have you. But for Minogue, all this is mere piffle. Mere breaking of eggs. Of course, the stray tear for the victims of Stalin and Mao must be allowed to course down the weathered cheek, maybe at the next meeting of the Oxford Tory Association. But brutish, in Minogue's vocabulary, refers to one dread and deadly thing, one curse above all others, one plague that is much more important than that pesky thing going around Africa, what'chamacallit, the one afflicting sodomites in Amsterdam and San Francisco, so he's heard: yes, friends and brothers, we are talking about a tax rate on the top percentile income bracket that exceeds, say, 15 percent. The killing fields are one thing, but to force a man to hide, with the utmost indignity, his income in some offshore shell company in the Bermudas, why, there are limits. It's, it's... it is the fall of civilization, no doubt about it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002


A scandal identi-kit.

It works like this. The detective parks his car across the street from the warehouse, he gets out his camera, he takes pictures of men carrying briefcases meeting and exchanging them. The detective follows cars, he takes pictures of meetings in parks and under bridges.

We've seen this, right? The pictures, the movie, the implied plot. So here are a few pictures.

One would show Jacques Chirac meeting with George Bush on December 18, 2000 in Washington, DC at the French Embassy. One would show a former US supported "Freedom fighter," Jonas Savimbo, with seven bullets in him, holding onto a gun. One would show Eduardo Dos Santos, the president of Angola and former hardline Marxist foe of Savimbo, being feted at a White House dinner shortly after Savimbo's assassination. And one would show an arms dealer named Pierre Falcone (whose wife Sonia, a former Miss Bolivia, is Laura Bush's friend) getting together $20,.000 to contribute to Bush's presidential campaign through his wife's beauty products corporation, Essante. In all, $100,000 was contributed during the campaign, and then, in 2001, returned when Falcone went to jail.

Falcone is not unknown to Chirac -- or to his old rival, Mitterand. In fact, he is one of the central figures in one of those simmering French scandals that would destroy the regime in another country: the arms trafficing scandal that involved Mitterand's son, Jean-Christophe, and huge, unaccounted for sums, as well as a mafioso style Russian arms dealer, Arkadi Gaydamak.

This isn't a story we've seen covered in the NYT. It runs through Angola and traces the surprising fault lines of the New World Order. How new worldish it is can be gauged by what happened to Jonas Savimba.

In the old days -- the eighties -- Savimba was a right wing hero. Probably the only black man Jesse Helms ever willingly ate with, he was praised by Reagan as a George Washington type figure. His UNITA guerrillas were fed with American money, trained (as far as they had any training) by the CIA, and armed by the CIA, too.

But when the Soviet threat dissolved, Savimba was undone by the economic facts on the ground. Those facts were about oil. The suddenly capitalistic dos Santos could deliver the oil. Savimba, the loser of the first post-communist election, could only deliver his mad dog personality. And suddenly that personality wasn't in demand. The invites to the Helms house were on permanent hold. Savimba retires with his guys to the bocage, of course, and forays out to attack airliners, murder villagers, rape women, and do all the stuff that made him George Washington in the first place. Well, how inconvenient. So he is tracked down -- perhaps with American help -- and killed:

"Fifteen bullets in all -- one in the neck, two in the head, the others in the chest, legs and arms -- finally overcame the boss of UNITA, who is dead at 67 years of age, Friday at 3 p.m. on the banks of the Luvuie River at Moxico." So read the announcement of his unhappy death this February. Another old cold warrior bites the dust, gangster style."

The way American intelligence agencies leave their assets around -- Savimba in Angola, bin Laden in Afghanistan -- it is like some drunk Texas trucker throwing beer cans out the cab. Human litter, but somebody has to pick it up.

However, never let it be said that Savimba's less glorious years had no function or meaning. With UNITA threatening him, dos Santos, backed by various American petro-chemical companies, such as Dick Cheney's Haliburton, needed arms. The desire for arms and drugs is the only unlimited desire known to mankind. Luckily, in this world, an embattled dictator can always find somebody to sell him a few hundred million dollars worth of weaponry; this is where Falcone, with his buddy Gaydamak, and his connections with Chirac and his faithful friend, Jean-Christophe Mitterand, fits in. As does ( scumbags of the world display the most touching solidarity) Clinton's good friend, Marc Rich, the on the run moneybags whose company, Glencore, deals in oil.

Monday, June 17, 2002


Depth charges

We received, over the weekend, a heartening email from M. She responded to the criticism that LI is shallow and vapid -- the criticism we'd conveyed in a previous post, transmitted to us by the friend of a friend -- with the beautiful phrase, "you exceed the average depth by a very large measure."

That's a difficult compliment to live up to. Limited Inc has the distinct feeling, lately, that we are crawling on our belly. That we are approaching some terrible financial and social abyss in this prone and stupid position. That verbal facility is a death curse. That our desperation, stupidity, and a forked tongue are doing us in. That it is no accident that, reading Baudelaire's Journals, we keep getting that Ecce Homo feeling -- except that the man who is ecce is the man writing this sentence, a man who's shot his wad, the spent cracker, the layed off fool.

But trying to keep up our end, trying frankly to feel deep again, we searched for topics: And then we came across this interview with Rodolphe Gasch� in Eurozine, and we thought we'd begin the week with some tribute to Derrida -- after all, he's the step father of this misbegotten site -- he's named us.

When Limited Inc. was a mere snakelet of a graduate student in Philosophy, deconstruction was just building to its peak. This was back in the late eighties. The school was popular enough that, to our dismay, its terms began to take on alchemical overtones. Any resentful attack on politically correct targets became a deconstruction of them. Usually, the attack turned out to be some crude mixture of formalism and the most vulgar kind of Marxist reduction.

Well, at the time we thought there was a certain recognizable irony at work here. This happened with Leibnitz -- followed by the ever tedious Christian Wolf. This happened to Kant -- he was followed by the ever more mystical Schelling and Co. To propose a system is to be systematically misunderstood. And to propose an anti-system is to be immediately systematized. The clown follows the hero.

Begin with a philosophical technique that explained identity as the strategic disposition of forces within the text, and that futher extends to the term, text, a meaning which encompasses both the game of sense and the continual immersion of language in its material embodiment, and its eternal denial (ecriture begins with pronunciation, don't you know, and philosophy begins with a systematic recoil from that fact ). Then throw in a whole other thematic -- the politics of identity that is pointed to by the word phallogocentrism. And then sieve this through an academic class that is deeply conscious of its own economic and social displacement in the world, as universities become mere addenda to business schools. Mix, and you get the awful deconstructive "readings" that flourished in the eighties and nineties.

Gasche, who wrote a good book about Derrida, Tain of the Mirror, makes several moves in this interview that fill us with dismay for our side. First, he disses analytic philosophy. In response to the question of philosophy's existence in departments of literature (as in, what's a discipline like you doing in a place like this?) he responds:

"Undoubtedly, some departments of comparative literature, but certainly not all, have increasingly turned philosophical, with some including straightforward instruction in the discipline "philosophy." But I think it is safe to say that with some exceptions, of course, such instruction remains framed by the requirements and expectations specific to students whose main concerns are literary. I should add, however, that with the inclusion of a number of subspecialties in the literary curriculum such as gender studies, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and so forth, the spectrum of the issues that philosophy can and must address in comparative literature has expanded dramatically. With this, new opportunities have arisen for anchoring philosophy in comparative literature departments. Evidently, if the philosophy taught in these departments is 'continental' it is for good reasons. The students are literary students, and analytical philosophy has nothing to offer them."

Now, if we were feeling our deconstructive oats, we would make much of the exchange between analytic philosophy and these literary students. It is a null exchange -- "analytic philosophy has nothing to offer them." And it is an exchange based, apparently, on offers -- philosophy is offering a thing. The thing it is offering, it turns out, is absolute -- it is the thing itself. If continental philosophy can offer something to these students, it is also absolute -- it also offers all it has.

Limited inc believes the offer of the absolute is obviously a con. Ah, we could go on and on about the con of continental philosophy. Instead, we will go into normal speak, and protest, like the merchant of theory that we once aspired to be. Far from offering nothing, analytic philosophy can 'offer" the event -- the event thematized, the event as the moment in which analytic philosophy both breaks down and advances. Deconstruction joins analytic philosophy in that moment, joins as a disenchanted party. Deconstruction will no longer con the student - that is its promise.

But time marches on, and we realize that we have reached a point in this post where we have totally lost our audience. Nothing does it quicker than writing about philosophy. Sorry. One other long quote, however, from the Gasche article for the one person left who might actually be reading this sentence:

"The deconstructive literary criticism that I targeted in "Deconstruction and Criticism," and which critique also frames my exposition of Derrida's thought in The Tain of the Mirror, rests, or rather rested, on the assumption that the literary text is constituted by an integral, and flawless, mirror play on all levels of the text ranging from the thematic to the one of the signifier. The critical operation of bringing the text's self-reflection to light, this is what this criticism understood by deconstruction. No doubt the Yale School and its disciples were the prime representative of this conception of literariness. However, and ironically, de Man, many of whose students adopted the deconstructive literary theory, does not easily - rather, does not fit at all - into this scheme, as I have argued in my last book. But the Yale School was not the only spokesman for this approach to the literary text. Deconstructive literary criticism was a much broader phenomenon, it diffused easily, whether as the result of a progressive dilution of the tenets of the Yale School, or as the specific form in which New Criticism became capable of survival. From my criticism of deconstructive literary criticism it is clear that I do not buy its conception of the text, nor its understanding of the task of criticism. It is a reductive approach to textuality. But in order to demonstrate that any literary text worth the name, achieves full, all inclusive specularity, this kind of criticism had to draw on aspects of language - established by linguistics, semiotics, and pragmatics - neglected by the traditional thematic, humanist, historical criticisms, but also formalist poetics. Its objections against the traditional modes of criticisms are well founded, and need to be recognised as such. In many ways, deconstructive literary criticism had a sobering effect on literary studies. I would add, however, that deconstruction in literary studies based itself on a conception of the text that is as narrow, and as questionable as the ones at the foundation of the more traditional conceptions of criticism. Let me explain myself. Since what counts in deconstructive literary criticism is the demonstration that in a text everything mirrors everything, and, hence, that no single position, statement, theme, or truth, can prevail, its criticism of other positions is limited to the accusation of disregarding certain aspects of the text which when brought into play, would debunk the claims made by singling out one of its items, or levels. Its conception of the text is speculative in essence even though the absolute speculation that animates it, serves to demonstrate that there is no absolute knowledge."

Ah, with what feelings of luxury I once plunged into this kind of argument! The delirium of all the brave young grad students! and their subsequent detoxification, drying out in every college and junior college and land grant U. from here to Bakersfield, California! And how the world goes on!

Elia meets Karl Marx at the South Sea House

    When Charles Lamb, a scholarship boy at Christ’s Hospital, was fifteen, one of his patrons, Thomas Coventry, had a discussion with a...