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Showing posts from April 11, 2004
Bollettino Part II LI should have posted a few more links to Danielle Allen in our last post. The London Review of her book on punishment in Athens is particularly rich. Reviewers must tread a path between overreach and mere description. This reviewer maxes out on over-reach, barely getting to Allen’s book at all. Still, it is full of interesting explanations of the Athenian system of punishment -- suggesting, bizarrely, that Athens was less like Jefferson's Virginia than like Mao's China. Allen's book – The World Of Prometheus – was published by Princeton University Press, which has an excellent policy of publishing chapters from their books on the web. Go here to the first chapter of Allen’s book . We love this intro paragraph: “One of the most important but least acknowledged features of the modern world is that individuals no longer punish for themselves. By this I do not suggest, as so many have, that over time a dark Dionysiac and ancient age of m
Bollettino Part I Danielle Allen is one of those U. of Chicago prof who has swept the MacArthur genius circuit. She is a scholar of classics and of African American literature, a pretty rare and cool combo. LI read her essay on Ralph Ellison in this season’s Raritan with an eye on what is happening in Iraq. The essay, “Ralph Ellison on the Tragicomedy of Citizenship”, speaks to – or is it for? an occupied population – and one occupied by people who claim, by some perpetually unfolding mystery, to speak for the occupied, even as they evacuate the place in the discourse where the occupied could, possibly, have a voice. But to Allen’s fascinating essay. She begins by pointing out, as all scholars of Ellison have done before her, the key political disagreement between one important critic of the book, Irving Howe, and Ellison himself. Howe objected to the de-politicization of race in the novel -- and what he took to be Ellison's acceding to a liberal and conformist ethos that
Yet Lucian, a rhetorician also, in a treatise entitled, How a history ought to be written, saith thus: 'that a writer of history ought, in his writings, to be a foreigner, without country, living under his own law only, subject to no king, nor caring what any man will like or dislike, but laying out the matter as it is.' – Hobbes in the introduction to his translation of Thucydides LI recommends the Sy Hersch story on Afghanistan in the current Nyorker. It should be read in conjunction with the stories that are coming out concerning both the Bush administration’s pre-9/11 readiness to counter terrorist activity and its post 9/11 actions in so doing, or not. It has been our contention, all along, that the heart of the case against Bush is summed up by what happened not before 9/11, but in response to it -- that is, a massive and willful blindness to the reality of an attack by a nomadic, well entrenched jihadist group, with roots in the mujahdeen movement the U.S. not so c
Bollettino The man who wasn't there John Kerry has decided to run a unique campaign. So far, he is running as either “None of the Above” or “Me too, and double it!” Here we have a perfect Kodak moment: Bush, receiving a warning that any sane executive would take seriously, retiring to his ranch to rest on his tax cutting laurels in August, 2001. Did the man even alert his own secretary of treasury that the FBI suspected hijackers were present in the U.S.? No, he didn’t. There is a comfortable myth that is starting to fall apart, which says that nineteen hijackers succeeding in three different venues is one of those ‘can’t stop it’ kind of things. That it is an unusual, indeed, unique act of terrorism is swept under the rug. The most startling thing about the hijacking is less the first plane that slammed into the WTC. It is that the second plane did. The second plane screamed – system-wide collapse. Kerry’s response to this has been: no comment. Kerry’s response
Bollettino The NYT business section, which is always worth reading on Sunday, has a long story about a bank in D.C. – Riggs bank. It is a private, homey kind of D.C. bank – for the champagne and chauffeur set, as one of their interviewees puts it. They do a roaring trade in blood money for the Saudis and Equatorial Guinea. Also, incidentally, they’ve done the Bush family one of the characteristic favors banks and businesses like to do the Bush family: as the story blandly puts it, “deepening its links to the Bushes, Riggs also bought a money management firm owned by Jonathan Bush, the former president's brother, in 1997.” It’s the Equatorial Guinea money that is bringing them down at the moment. The NYT is behind the ball on this story – the Nation had a story six months ago about Equatorial Guinea’s suRprising redemption in the eyes of the U.S. It used to be a backwater African dictatorship run with the usual large splashes of blood by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo: “Mr.