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Showing posts from September 28, 2003
Bollettino If we took a look around in 1688 - the year of the Glorious Revolution -- what would we say about torture? One of the things we'd say is that we could recognize the implements. Here is the machine that stretched the prisoner. Here is the whip that flayed the prisoner. Here is the wheel. But even in 1688, the divide between torture - as a subset of the work of punishment - and the whole set of punitive acts was porous. Here is the island on which the prisoner was worked to death harvesting sugarcane. Here was the ship on which the prisoner was starved, raped, and died. And so on. The distinction, then, is one of tools and rituals, not of pains and effects. This is an important distinction insofar as the effects of torture were at the time, and are now, constitutive within the system of the spaces by which the system is identified. I mean, simply, that if I look around today and I do not see the whip, rack and the wheel, my inclination to say, well, there's no t
Bollettino What becomes a scandal in this country is a scandal. We go to the NYT and we are greeted with two furors -- hey, that has a nice operatic sound, doesn't it? In one corner, the scandal that is singing away concerns the outing of the CIA credentials of an ex-ambassador's wife. She worked undercover. Here's a paragraph in, what, the third NYT story on the subject that I spot today : "The White House encouraged Republicans to portray the former diplomat at the center of the case, Joseph C. Wilson IV, as a partisan Democrat with an agenda and the Democratic Party as scandalmongering. At the same time, the administration and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill worked to ensure that no Republicans in Congress break ranks and call for an independent inquiry outside the direct control of the Justice Department." On NPR, Tom Harkin, the Dem senator from Iowa, opined that this was the worst blow in the war of terrorism ever -- or something li
Bollettino My favorite murder Everyone has one. The Black Dahlia. The JFK assassination. Mine is undoubtedly the strange and lonely death of an Italian banker, Roberto Calvi. The man led the Banco Ambrosiano, a bank that was used by the Vatican, and unknown others, to shuffle money around. The bank collapsed in 83, missing 1.3 billion dollars -- a larger sum in 83 than now, but still not chump change. Calvi was by all accounts a colorless little man. But in Italy in 1983, there were a lot of .... convergences, let us call them. In 1980, the worst act of terrorism in Italian history had occured, with the blowing up of the Bologna train station. That act was masterminded by a man with a long record of rightwing militancy, Stefano delle Chiaie, who was plugged in to the rightwing network that had tentacles worldwide: Franco's Spain, Argentina, and Chili in particular. The same cultural milieu that now circulates around Berlosconi was, in 83, entangled in a Masonic lodge, P
Bollettino "I distinctly remember an incident at Boston University�one of those you always remember�when the psychology department chair called me into his office one day, closed the door, sat me down, and proceeded to dress me down for doing palm reading, for taking people�s money under false pretenses, that there was nothing to this paranormal stuff, etc. I sat there listening to him and after he calmed down I said, �would you like me to read your palm?� So he stuck his hand out and I did a reading on him. Then I left. Two weeks later he called me back into his office, shut the door, sat me down, stuck his hand out, and said �tell me more�! This really showed me how powerful this stuff can be. "And in another one of those unforgettable incidents, the late Stanley Jaks convinced me to do a palm reading on someone and tell them the exact opposite of what I would normally say. So I did this. If I thought I saw in this woman�s palm that she had heart trouble at age 5, fo