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Showing posts from August 20, 2006

I'm with stupid - the law of the land

It was good to see some bipartisanship return to D.C. this week. According to the WAPO, a bill to re-write the preamble to the Constitution found support from both Hilary Clinton and John McCain – the two sides of the aisle came together in a spirit of amity. “Senator Clinton said that the tedious first sentence - We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect union, etc., etc.” was good in its time, but times have changed. “’I’m with stupid’ has always been my favorite t shirt slogan, and when Senator McCain said it was also his, we thought, why not make erase the obsolete, eighteenth century wording of our founding document and introduce something fresh and representative from the new millennium?” The “I’m with stupid’ change was passed, 95-1, with 4 abstentions. It is also being haled at the White House, where President Bush admitted that it was his favorite t shirt slogan too.” The first sentence now reads: "We, the people of the United States, say: I'

the new mlch

While eating, they normally conceal themselves or else close their eyes. - Doctor Brodies Report. In Borges’ short story, Doctor Brodie’s Report, then narrator describes the habits of the Mlch - a Yahoo like people who perform all their ‘physical acts’ in open view except for eating. They have the delicacy to conceal the tiniest hints of mastication, even though they are coarse enough to enjoy devouring raw corpses. Restaurants, for the Mlch, would be as shocking as would be, for us, emporiums designed to let parents to copulate in front of stangers and their own children. But Borges’ story isn’t simply about inverting customs. It plays with an image of the private and the public that registers in myth – an image that sees these as two opposite poles. From that socially false but mythically re-enforced idea flows the libertarian notion of capitalism as a system of private enterprises. In reality, privacy is always defined by reference to a public; it is not in opposition to that pub

menus, cartes, and where we are

In the OED, the first meaning of menu is – the common people. Sons of the menu seems to have been a seventeenth century phrase. The second meaning, a schedule or list, takes its first instance of menu in English from a book, in 1830, that refers to French cooking. In his essay on Grimod de la Reynier’s Almanach in Consuming Culture, the arts of the French Table, Michael Garval (whose homepage links to a “menu of the month” ) describes the frontispiece, which presented a little semi-humorous cartoon of the gourmand, with the bibliotheque of the 19th gourmand (bookshelves overflowing with provisions), his meditations, the first duty of an Amphitrion “with the master of the house, in the kitchen, receiving a menu from his chef,” his dreams, his awakening, and then “le plus mortel ennemi du diner”, in “which the gourmand spoils his appetite by indulging in an overly copious lunch.” I am probably not the first person to see this as a parody of Descartes in the Discours, right? So I won’t

menus con't

Give me liberty, or give me death, and can you make that with extra cheese?” – Patrick Henry at the Burger King When I cast my beady, crow’s eyes over the long stretch of modernity – in these dog, dead days, I have little else to amuse me – I see nothing that so aptly fits Polanyi’s model of the disembedding of the economy as the rise of the menu – the course of which is, appropriately, a blank as far as I can tell. No opus to light the weary traveler on his way. Just the kind of trace that makes my juices flow. At the same time, of course, LI is a humble blogger, no maker of opuses but a poker of holes: we aren’t going to build Rome in a thousand words or less, or give you the foundations of menu-ology here. In the two scenes we picked out from two movies in our last post, it would be easy to leave the menus behind. Like the King in Las Meninas, or – a better comparison – like the anamorphic skull in Holbein’s Ambassadors, gracing Lacan’s Seminaire, volume 11, they are where the g

for a history of the menu

When I wrote my master’s thesis on seriousness, I spoke, in the Pauline phrase, as a child – or rather as a child of French philosophy. Thus, I did not look hard enough at English sources to find references to seriousness. I did find that seriousness has never been seriously thematized in philosophy, even though it has been inherent since Socrates made his first wisecrack. Imagine my surprise, then, when I came across this while reading Hazlitt – who I read to strengthen my prose style. (My master’s thesis, by the way, is that seriousness never really forms an opposite – it is always a wildcard in the play of the dialectic, and thus functions both to maintain and to deconstruct the system of oppositions within metaphysics. About which I could go on at length, but… being in all things merciful to my readers … I won’t): “To understand or define the ludicrous, we must first know what the serious is. Now the serious is the habitual stress which the mind lays upon the expectation of a give

my buds and companeros, the hummers

LI hopes readers haven’t found our last two posts intolerably dull. The thing is, the graphix novel we are working on does some projecting into the future. We have been dreaming of a period of great thirst, as the extent of glacial melting starts truly drying up drinking water sources, some time after 2040. Our little dystopian vision is of a Rwanda like situation in which the generation that drove cars (called "the Hummers") is systematically slaughtered by their offspring. How that fits into the plot remains to be seen. So, in any case, we are playing around with a vocabulary and vision. Sorry for the longeurs. … Ah, the symbols of the great glacier melt. Last week, the British papers had an interesting story about the reappearance of the body of a climber lost on Mount Blanc in 1989: From the Daily Telegraph: “THE mummified remains of a British mountaineer who vanished 17 years ago have been found in a melting glacier in the Italian Alps. Michael Seavers, 31, was one


“Few polls were take to measure the air force’s success in public relations, but by June 1945 a Fortune survey indicated progress. As Fortune put it, “The people are sold on peace through air power.” On more subjective grounds, the air force also had reason for optimism as 1945 appraoched because doubts ere arising within the military establishment about public support for a large peacetime ground army. Arnold believed that Americans would support in its place a powerful air foce making few demands on manpower and responding to public anxieties, nourished by the air force itself, about defending against future Pearl Harbors.” The Rise of American Air Power: the creation of Armageddon by Michael Sherry He sew his eyes shut Because he is afraid to see – Nine Inch Nails The conclusion I draw from my last post is nothing so facile as that all wars are one war. That is an analytic dead end. But I’d suggest that the set of wars that have taken place between 1939 and, say, the beginning of