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Showing posts from December 25, 2005
When my family got together for vacation last month, my niece implied that she found her uncles – me and my brothers – were so darkly sarcastic at times, so pessimistic, that we were real bummers. I could see her point of view. This is true, this is a bad trait. I resolved to be a little less negative. But I keep falling into old habits, since there are so many temptations... So when I read the NY Observer profile of Fareed Zakaria , I tried really hard. I tried not to laugh with that hollow laugh that signifies something that is so not funny that it is really funny, like an ICBM falling right on your head. I tried not to produce that self defeating, shit always rises to the top laugh, even as the details of l’enfance de la neo-con leaned out at me, begging to be throttled, begging for me to go into one of those sessions a la James Cagney in White Heat: manic potshots, delusion, the cops boiling up the ladder to take you down. Yes, I read this account of the asskissing, the jetsetti

no pardon for gang leaders

This was, what, in 1988? Around then. I was biking home, home being at that time Newning street in South Austin, and I passed a group of demonstrators around the bank building just before the Congress street bridge. I naturally stopped and joined them, since at this time in my life I was always psyched to protest something. The something I was protesting, I learned from one of the demonstrators, was the destruction of the Barton Creek Watershed that was currently being supported by a consortium of developers under the leadership of Freeport McMoRan. At that time, Austin knew all about James R. Moffett and the notorious corporate gang that he headed. As is the way with all rich thugs, his name eventually was plastered to a college building – in fact, a building at U.T. I believe his name and an ex wife’s are still chiseled into the side of some building on that campus. Unlike other gang/corporations, however, Freeport McMoRan is not just a danger to its employees pension fund and its in

Touchatout, c'est moi

Continuing from yesterday: Berenice’s Gardens begins with the narrator, Philippe, a thinly disguised version of Maurice Barres, overhearing a conversation between Renan and Charles Chincholle. Chincholle is an obscure personage who supported General Boulanger, the rightist leader who was trying to overthrow the French Republic. Philippe hears them speak after the ‘celebrated election of General Boulanger in Paris’. Renan, of course, is the author of The life of Jesus and a man who, at that time, had a reputation as the purest French stylist. He much impressed Henry James, for instance – although not Nietzsche, who found him vapid and saccharine. Chincholle begins by asking the cher maitre if he is pro or anti Boulanger. Renan’s answer anticipates Chou Enlai’s famous comment about the French Revolution: that it is too early to tell what to think about it. This is what Renan says: "Have you leafed thorugh Sorel, Thureau-Dangin, my eminent friend M. Taine? At the bottom of each pag

the elegant protofascist

“The generation of 1890, however, only took from Nietzsche the elements it wanted and needed. 'All this modernity is what I am fighting against, modernity as defined by Nietzsche ...', said Maurice Barrès , the chief intellectual leader of French nationalism, the father of the French political novel, and one of the most intelligent founders of the fascist synthesis. His entire opus is devoted to the struggle against the 'rationalist idea', which he considered 'antagonistic to life and its spontaneous forms', and he berated Rousseau for sterilizing life by attempting to rationalize it. For a quarter of a century, Barrès waged a Nietzschean struggle against the French Enlightenment, Cartesian rationalism, the Kantian categorical imperative, the rights of man, humanism, liberal democracy, the idea of progress and democratic education. But where Nietzsche favoured an extreme individualism, Barrès advocated the complete subordination of the individual to the commun