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Showing posts from July 9, 2006

"Life goes on"

This is a dark week. LI is trying to find what inspiration we can. So imagine our joy when we came across a story in the WSJ today about a class that we sometimes too carelessly insult – I’m talking about the upper management of Fortune 500 corporations. The story, “Executive Pay: The 9/11 Factor, by Charles Forelle, James Bandler and Mark Maremont” is about the sheer patriotism of that group – its belief in America, even when times are down. Take 9/11. Stocks plummeted in the wake of 9/11. But… well, here’s the inspiring story: “ON SEPT. 21, 2001, rescuers dug through the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center. Across town, families buried two firefighters found a week earlier. At Fort Drum, on the edge of New York's Adirondacks, soldiers readied for deployment halfway across the world. "Boards of directors of scores of American companies were also busy that day. They handed out millions of bargain-priced stock options to their top executives. The terrorist attack shut

the agendas: Israel vs. Hezbollah or how the mouse trap caught the cat

Yesterday’s Kagan op ed, it appears, is only the first in a flood of wargasm rhetoric in the WAPO – with today’s op ed page hosting Krauthammer and a fellow at a conservative think tank in Jerusalem, Michael Oren, as well as David Ignatius (a man for whom LI has some residual personal respect – we interviewed him, years ago, and formed a favorable judgment about him in spite of his pro-war beliefs). LI doesn’t fully understand the motives behind Israel’s decision to go full tilt, lately, into Gaza and now into Lebanon, in response to Hamas and Hezbollah. We suspect that Michael Oren’s op ed reflects the thinking of Israel’s government : “By eliminating the terrorist leaderships in Gaza and southern Lebanon and deterring Syria and Iran from prodding their proxies to war, Israel can restore a reasonable level of security to its citizens. Such measures will also be implicitly welcomed by Israel's Jordanian and Egyptian neighbors, who are similarly threatened by these same terrorist gr


LI was pleased to see that the Washington Post is doing something about an issue that effects us all – the erotic dreamlife of neo-cons. Rather than let daydreams of violence, torture, and death end up as the private incentives towards some covert ejaculation, the WAPO has manfully published Robert Kagan’s wet dream on its op ed page. It begins with a “Let’s imagine,” and ends with “It’s just a theory,”- clueing us into the daydreaming nature of the column. In between there is a rich and colorful mix of those puzzling features that make up the neo-con underlife – the homo-erotic fascination with George Bush, of all people, as Superman; the ardent desire to burn brown skin, which one sees in old postcards of lynchings, and of which Kagan is the heavy breathing inheritor; and judgments about the Clinton administration that are so absurd as to be more than mildly deranged – they are definitely symptoms of the erotic role played by Clinton in the neo-con mind. Erotic daydreaming is heavil

the riddler and the imperial turn

One of LI’s favorite scholars is Carlo Ginzburg. We were in the University library a couple of days ago, looking up references for The Basho of Economics, the book we are translating. Going through the stacks, we came upon Wooden Eyes, a collection of Ginzburg pieces from the nineties. We were particularly struck by the first essay, “Making it Strange: the Prehistory of a literary device.” Ginzburg’s essays are hard essays to paraphrase because the joy in them is in the way they wander. Seemingly, one goes from point to random point, but the joy of the thing, for the reader, is that every point seems mysteriously charged with some as yet unexplained meaning. Until, as in fairy tale journeys, one arrives and makes the journey itself into a riddle – rather than a thesis, as is usual in scholarship. My comparison is taken from the essay, which traces the Russian formalist notion of de-familiarization (“making it strange”) back, first, to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and then to the lor

the really big money

LI is in the midst of doing some serious work – or seriously procrastinating doing some serious work. Thus, the post we planned on Carlos Ginzburg’s essay on the ‘prehistory of making it strange’, which we have been reading in the collection, Wooden Eyes, is just going to have to wait. In the meantime, before it sinks below the horizon, we noticed this article in the Sunday NYT business section: Pentagon struggles with cost overruns and delays . LI is for a reasonable amount of military spending – on par with China, for instance. About 40 to 80 billion per year. Cutting down to that level would mean avoiding things like this: “In recent Congressional hearings and reports from the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s investigative arm, the Pentagon has been portrayed as so mired in bureaucracy and so enamored of the latest high-tech gadgetry that multi-billion-dollar weapon systems are running years behind in development and are dangerously over budget. The Pentagon reported las

fuck the poor

I was corresponding with one of my best friends, M., who lives in Polanco. We were talking about the elections in Mexico, and M. mentioned that the absenteeism of the poor had doomed Obrador’s campaign. I replied that, as for the poor, I have one opinion: fuck the poor. It is a sign of the unhealthiness of liberal-left culture that the working class has been discarded as a pragmatic political category. I hated Obrador’s slogan, the poor first. What poor? We are talking here about the producers of wealth in any society whatsoever. This isn’t a simple linguistic matter – this is all about a very pernicious shift in attitudes. Once one decides to let class definitions sift out of politics – and that is something that leftists are pretty comfortable with, since there is nothing they are more uncomfortable with than, say, blue collar white guys –why, then they can pursue a fake politics of slogans and demos and endless defeat to their hearts content. The poor, those bugeyed people with bu


Kein Atemholen bleibt der Kultur und am Ende liegt eine tote Menschheit neber ihren Werken, die zu erfinden ihr so viel Geist gekostet had, dass ihr keiner mehr uebrig blieb, sie zu nuetzen. Wir waren kopliziert genug, die Maschine zu bauen, and wir sind zu pimitiv, uns von ihr bedienen zu lassen. Wir treiben einen Weltverkehr auf schmalspurigen Gehirnbahnen. Culture cannot catch its breath; in the end, a dead humanity lies next to its works, which cost it so much mental energy to discover that it had none left to use it. We were complicated enough to build machines, and are too primitive, to use them. We maintain the traffic of the world on narrow gauge brain rails. – Karl Kraus In the terrible winter of ‘93, LI made one in a series of bad decisions and bought what turned out to be his last car. I bought a 76 AMC Matador with a V-8 engine. It was an absolute and total lemon. I bought it because I was suddenly seized with 0-60 fantasies of roaring down country roads in New Mexico, one