Skip to main content


Showing posts from March 28, 2004
Bollettino John Burns is one of the New York Times most intelligent foreign correspondents. The Times usually slathers an aggressive, heedless neo-liberal ideology on its foreign news, picking its stringers, in such places as Venezuala, from among the most notorious class of exploiters, and in general sending out people whose framework is a sort of rightwing Friedmanism. This makes it very hard to know what is happening in the rest of the world. In the case of Iraq, the NYT has been notoriously supportive of a mere propagandist, Judith Miller. She isn’t even a competent propagandist. Her famous article about the unnamed, disguised Iraqi scientist pointing to spots in the sand where WMD are buried could be used as a freshman journalism class joke. Miller is a throwback to the Hearst reporters that went to Cuba to supply America with grounds for a war with Spain, except that she doesn’t spread that rara avis plumage of jingoistic prose – no Richard Harding Davis she. Rather, she pref
Bollettino The Black and White world In the 1730s, a French monk, Louis Bertrand Castel, invented a color ‘clavecin.” Following a suggestion by Athanasius Kircher that arrangements of colors corresponded to arrangements of sounds, the clavecin was designed to create color harmonies synchronized to music. That Kircher was invoked should tell us that Castel was an anti-Newtonian, which he was -- il doutait 'que Monsieur Newton n'eut jamais manié de prisme' – of the profound sort – Castel, like Kircher, still lived in a world in which science was an exquisite web of analogies. The kind of reductionism and mathematical method that Newton applied, without any pre-determining analogies, seemed like a desecration of that web. Blake had that same sentiment a century later, although by then the pre-modern understanding of nature had been irreversibly lost, along with the culture that sustained it. Castel’s example influenced the ever-peculiar Russian composer, Scriabin, in
Bollettino “Beauty should not happen” LI received a letter from our friend T. in NYC regarding our “beautiful woman” posts. It was addressed to the character in our novel, Holly Sterling – and like a spur in the ribs, it reminded us that we have not been writing the novel in the last week or two. T. has been a regular reader – with red pencil in hand – of the novel. (Our excuse, our regular excuse, is that since we are close to being kicked out of our apartment, losing our electricity, and in general deprived of the amenities – like a slug under the salt, in other words -- we have other things on our mind. Samuel Johnson, in our humble opinion, might have been wrong – the threat of imminent hanging doesn’t wonderfully concentrate the mind – it fatally scatters it. Of course, we don’t claim to have the highwayman’s strong character. Or perhaps we have a different sense of the drama of our ending. Its sheer pettiness is insurmountable). But to get back to T.’s letter – if you
Bollettino The principal objections to democratical or popular government, are taken from the inequalities which arise among men in the result of commercial arts. And it must be confessed, that popular assemblies, when composed of men whose dispositions are sordid, and whose ordinary applications are illiberal, however they may be intrusted with the choice of their masters and leaders, are certainly, in their own persons, unfit to command. How can he who has confined his views to his own subsistence or preservation, be intrusted with the conduct of nations? Such men, when admitted to deliberate on matters of state, bring to its councils confusion and tumult, or servility and corruption; and seldom suffer it to repose from ruinous factions, or the effect of resolutions ill formed or ill conducted. – Adam Ferguson Ill formed resolutions, and ill conduct in carrying them out, were at the heart of the Clarke controversies this week. LI watched with our most jaundiced eye