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Showing posts from September 25, 2005

Give them stones

“In Wilhelm Meister (Part I, Chapter XV), Goethe, on the basis of his own personal experiences, describes his hero's emotions in the humble surroundings of Marianne's little room as compared with the stateliness and order of his own home. "It seemed to him when he had here to remove her stays in order to reach the harpsichord, there to lay her skirt on the bed before he could seat himself, when she herself with unembarrassed frankness would make no attempt to conceal from him many natural acts which people are accustomed to hide from others out of decency—it seemed to him, I say, that he became bound to her by invisible bands." We are told of Wordsworth (Findlay's Recollections of De Quincey, p. 36) that he read Wilhelm Meister till "he came to the scene where the hero, in his mistress's bedroom, becomes sentimental over her dirty towels, etc., which struck him with such disgust that he flung the book out of his hand, would never look at it again, and dec
Krugman gives us a nice summary of one of the more rancid D.C. scandals currently scheduled for page A-10 in your local paper: “Mr. Abramoff was indicted last month on charges of fraud relating to his purchase of SunCruz, a casino boat operation. Mr. Ney inserted comments in the Congressional Record attacking SunCruz's original owner, Konstantinos ''Gus'' Boulis, placing pressure on him to sell to Mr. Abramoff and his partner, Adam Kidan, and praised Mr. Kidan's character. … “Last week three men were arrested in connection with the gangland-style murder of Mr. Boulis. SunCruz, after it was controlled by Mr. Kidan and Mr. Abramoff, paid a company controlled by one of the men arrested, Anthony ''Big Tony'' Moscatiello, and his daughter $145,000 for catering and other work. In court documents, questions are raised about whether food and drink were ever provided. SunCruz paid $95,000 to a company in which one of the other men arrested, Anthony '

underground

LI has been thinking about the “reality effect” since reading Underground, Haruki Murakami’s account of Aum Shinrikyo’s poison gas attack on the Tokyo Subways. Murakami’s book is divided into two sections, which were published as two separate books in Japan. In one section, he interviews victims of the attack. Some of these victims have recovered, at least physiologically, and some still deal with various degrees of injury, up to and including being permanently on life maintaining systems at a hospital. The other, smaller section is a group of interviews with Aum members. Some of the members have moved away from the group, some remain with it. Although I’m not sure that this was Murakami’s purpose, one of the results of the book is to contrast two kinds of “reality” effect. It was, perhaps, unconsciously one of the reasons that Aum targeted a subway system, insofar as subways represent almost pure routine, that part of life in which everything exists under the sign of the minus. By

party party party

LI’s post that compared factions in Constantinople with the two parties that now bicker within D.C. court society was picked up and disseminated by Chris Floyd’s Empire Burlesque , for which we’d like to give a big shout out. Floyd is a journalist for the Moscow Times with a bigger readership than LI will ever have. And while certain of LI’s manias – for instance, about Balzac – are really… what’s the word? eccentric, the politics of movements as opposed to the politics of parties is something about which we have something to say that might be less eccentric. Our point was not that the Democratic party is dead. Our point was, instead, that ideologies and parties are joined contingently, not organically. The Democratic party was much more conservative on social issues than the Republican party in, say, 1904. arguably the Democratic party, under Grover Cleveland, did more to shape the peculiar absence of a real leftist force in the U.S. by breaking a national strike than anything done

Uriah heep's party

“Consider a person who had every reason to be happy but who saw continually enacted before him tragedies full of disastrous events, and who spent all his time in consideration of sad and pitiful things. Let us suppose that he knew they are imaginary fables so that though they drew tears from his eyes and moved his imagination they did not touch his intellect at all. I think that this alone would be enough to gradually close up his heart and to make him sigh in such a way that the circulation of his blood would be delayed and slowed down…” Thus Descartes, quoted in Stephen Gaukroger’s marvelous Descartes: an intellectual biography. Descartes imaginary person is in much the same situation as LI – we have our eyes full of the newspapers, we understand that the tragical events depicted in them are such as to be skewed almost to the point of sheer fiction, and yet they draw tears from our eyes. Surely a headline like this one can only delay and slow down the circulation of your blood – a

rwg communications

I received some feedback from readers on the RWG Communications letter that I am sending out. However, editing jobs have stopped. You know what this means, gentle readers – I will have to go out and try to get reviewing jobs. And that means nervous breakdown and starvation. In fact, at the moment I have agreed to write entries for a reader’s guide to novels for ten dollars an entry – which is desperation indeed. You try describing The Man Who Loved Children in one hundred words or less… Anyway, every week I am going to include, in one of my posts, my solicitation letter. Floating it out into cyberspace, who knows? It might reach someone who needs editing, ghostwriting, proofreading or translating – my four strengths. As I’ve been going through academic journals, sending off to editors, I’ve also been collecting paragraphs of bad English culled from the articles in said journals. I have an impulse to use this material somehow. For instance, to append examples of wildly incorrect gram

rwg communications

I received some feedback from readers on the RWG Communications letter that I am sending out. However, editing jobs have stopped. You know what this means, gentle readers – I will have to go out and try to get reviewing jobs. And that means nervous breakdown and starvation. In fact, at the moment I have agreed to write entries for a reader’s guide to novels for ten dollars an entry – which is desperation indeed. You try describing The Man Who Loved Children in one hundred words or less… Anyway, every week I am going to include, in one of my posts, my solicitation letter. Floating it out into cyberspace, who knows? It might reach someone who needs editing, ghostwriting, proofreading or translating – my four strengths. As I’ve been going through academic journals, sending off to editors, I’ve also been collecting paragraphs of bad English culled from the articles in said journals. I have an impulse to use this material somehow. For instance, to append examples of wildly incorrect gram

after the withdrawal

Sometimes counting beads can be a comfort. Sometimes, returning to facts can also be a comfort. One of the facts about the current government in Iraq seems to me to be consistently underplayed. That fact is that one of the parties with which we are now allied, Daawa, or the Call, once had a much more tolerant view of suicide bombers. In fact, on December 12, 1983, Daawa’s tolerance went so far that members of the group exploded truck bombs in front of the American embassy in Kuwait. At that point, Daawa was linked to the groups that had previously done a pretty thorough demolition job on the American embassy in Beirut, earlier in the year . The U.S. turnaround on terrorism, here, is both amazing and a sign that there is a way out of the present impasse in the Middle East. It is one of the multiple inversions covered by the “war on terrorism” – a war that is constituted by scrupulously avoiding warring on terrorists per se, in order to war on the big picture. Thus, one allows OBL to d

part two

Flaubert said that the artist in the work was like God – everywhere and nowhere. For the novelist around 1900, this phrase was rather like the gate to the Law in Kafka’s The Trial. It was a phrase to sit before, while one waited for it to open. Surely the God in question was the Jansenist god, the deus absconditus, the god who elaborately creates the conditions that seal his vanishing act, and not the god of the prophets, who communicates angry messages and speaks in a still small voice in the wind. A novel, if Flaubert was right, was not a confession. Even a confession wasn’t a confession. Art was made out of stuff, descriptions, and not of sentiments. So you couldn’t understand a novel or a poem – to confine this to verbal art – better by knowing about the artist. That seemed like the conclusion to which Flaubert’s phrase moved you. Sitting before the sentence, it seemed to reveal a great and obscure truth. But if you considered it more telescopically – if you looked at what novels