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Showing posts from November 5, 2006

the suicides' cemetery

Happily she does not seem, in either case, to anticipate the subsequent years when her insight will often be blurred by panic, by the fear of stopping or the fear of going on. – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night In the Edwardian age, when the American tourist went to Europe, he or she was sure to take in the suicides’ cemetery in Monte Carlo. The story was that the population of the place was well prepared for suicide. A shot would be heard, certain figures would appear, the body would be disposed of. In John Polson’s decently shocked Monaco and its Gaming Tables, from 1902, cites a typical story is cited from a Menton newspaper: Another gambling victim Le Patriote Metonnais, dans son dernier numero, publie le terrible drame suivant qui happened Tuesday evening: “A man with haggard eyes, and an upset countenance, came out of the gambling hall saying: I am lost, I have nothing more to do than die! I lost two hundred thousand france.” The Casino guards sought to calm him, but

elegy for the unibomber

Last night I was tired, so I dropped in at Waterloo’s for a drink and a bite. There was a boy band playing there – all pretty boys of @ 18-20 in age. Blond hair, rosy skin, perfect teeth, oh the excellent line of credit that had gone into their making, playing C & W about a quite other life of drinking and the degrading frisks of Eros in dubious locales. They all played well, and sang enthusiastically. The parents of one of the musicians were sitting there, with the Mom quite happily bobbing her head to it all. As I sat there and watched, the family of another of the singers came in, with two seventeen year old girls at that stalky, shoulders up age, and one of them happily flashed a smile at the group of singers, which the boys then industriously pretended not to see. A minute later through the entrance trooped three other boys, around 20 or so, wearing U.T. shirts and looking vaguely fraternity-ish, and the group immediately came to life, the singer giving them a happy shou

That was quick! Conventional Wisdom continues walking off the cliff in Iraq

Now that the electorate has clearly spoken, it is time for the second phase to kick in. In this phase, D.C. Court society resolutely misinterprets or lies about what they said, thus allowing themselves to continue to be centrists (which is a compound of being for hollowing out Social Security via a fleabag sleight of hand trick and resolutely supporting the continuing influx of defense spending to swell D.C.’S real estate prices and steak dinner prices). The Washington Post has done a particularly excellent job in this regard, coming out with stories about how all of the Iraqis now fear the withdrawal of American support, which derives from talking to a handful of American paid Iraqi parasites and ignoring what is said in Iraq’s papers, for instance – for a rundown of which, see Juan Cole. But to really see the genius mind of Conventional Wisdom at work, LI urges readers to go to the Q and A with WP’s politics journalist, Michael Fletcher. It is a piece of art not unlike Keat’s ode

the superannuated apocalypse now

LI talked with his brother, who is doing a job in a hotel in Florida with his other brother, tonight. I thought I’d lay my latest rap on him, but he found it unlikely. Actually, my bro was oddly out of the loop about this election – he’s feeling rather burned about America in general. But anyway, I told him that the Dems had won, and this and that and the other thing, and then we talked about Rumsfeld resigning and Gates taking his place. That’s when I proposed that this was obviously a superannuated version of Apocalypse Now. The vanity war has made some folks some money, and they had to give it to Jr – he wanted a war – to get what they wanted. But the tax cuts and the legal restructuring of things like the bankruptcy law and environmental regulation are so yesterday’s news, and the damned vanity war is starting to upset people. Good contractor money there, but now we are coming down to dribs and drabs. And we are definitely going to have to pony up for Schumer to avoid major invest

the prophet jonah and his pet raven watch fox news

Readers of the Genealogy of Morals will remember Nietzsche’s quotes from Tertullian to the effect that one of the supreme pleasures of heaven will lie in watching the torments of the damned. In the first essay, Nietzsche introduces the concept of ressentiment as the key to the slave uprising in morals: "The slave uprising in morals begins with that fact that Ressentiment itself become creative and gives birth to values: Ressentiment is natural to those to whom real reaction, that of the act, is forbidden, and who can only keep themselves guiltless through an imaginary revenge." Well, darlin’, isn’t that just LI? whose reactions have to be swallowed – along with blood and shit and poverty – in a truly indigestible bolus, caught as we are like one of nature's most unlucky passengers - a passenger pigeon, a bison - in a nation that seems hell bent on mass murder and the mortal fouling of the planet as it careens here and there, throwing unparalleled pelf in the way of unim

I want a good Daddy! and a Good Mommy!

There is a curious dream that is dreamt among my liberal brethren. Every election year it will be expressed, in a distressed tone of voice of a man invoking Miss Manners. In this dream, elections are not bloody things involving people, but rather, dressed up events involving earnest high school students debating the finer points of property tax law. The NYT has an oped piece by Barry Schwartz that is as relentlessly programmatic in this respect as a clock is with regard to midnight and noon. First, of course, we begin with a lament about the election year party. This year, we asked everybody to bring healthful dishes and non-alcoholic beverages. We also tried to supply some hymn books and pamphlets on abstinence. But to no avail! “SWARTHMORE, Pa. -- ANOTHER national election season has come to an end -- the sorriest, sleaziest, most disheartening and embarrassing in memory. The best one can hope for is a candidate who is a complete cipher. How has American electoral politics come to

Electing a new heaven on earth - uh, someday

"Now God defend! What will become of me! I have neither consulted with the stars nor their urinals, the almanacks. A fine fellow, to neglect the prophets who are read in England every day! They shall pardon me for this oversight. There is a mystery in their profession they have no to much as herar of – “the Christian starry Heaven” – a new Heaven fancied on the whole earth.” Thomas Vaughan, the alchemist, whose merit as one of the greatest writers of English prose is obscured because he wrote about, well, alchemy, wrote the above words in the 1650s, I think. Vaughan was quite a guy. He died of getting an overdose of mercury vapor up his nose, after a standard stormy life trying to balance natural magick, a clerical position, and reactionary politics. He was “ousted” from the clergy in Wales for “drunkenness, swearing, incontinency, and carrying arms for the king.” Well, how is LI to resist a compagnon de route like this? Before he died, Vaughan dreamed he was pursued by a stone

sitting in the monad - The NYT celebrates its fave Iraqi, Chalabi, one more time

The horrendous Dexter Filkins is at it again. The NYT Magazine profile of Chalabi is an indulgence verging on an impudence – after all, why not devote that space to a basically meaningless story about Filkins fave guy? Here’s one of our favorite passages in this extended exercise in bosculating Chalabi’s golden fanny: “When the election came, Chalabi was wiped out. His Iraqi National Congress received slightly more than 30,000 votes, only one-quarter of 1 percent of the 12 million votes cast — not enough to put even one of them, not even Chalabi, in the new Iraqi Parliament. There was grumbling in the Chalabi camp. One of his associates said of the Shiite alliance: “We know they cheated. You know how we know? Because in one area we had 5,000 forged ballots, and when they were counted, we didn’t even get that many.” He shrugged. But the truth seemed clear enough: Chalabi was finished. Chalabi, who could plausibly claim that he, more than any other Iraqi, had made the election possible

welcome to the rabies festival

A couple of days ago, LI made the argument that U.S. policy in Iraq had brought about civil war, instead of preventing it. And, furthermore, that the common view, which is that the U.S. has spent its entire time trying to prevent a civil war, was wrong – that the U.S. intention, per the criminals in the White House, corresponded to a weakening of Iraq that would entail, at the least, factionalization, and more probably, violence on a civil war scale. Brian, in a comment on this post, logically reduced LI’s argument to the one that the U.S. intended the partitioning of Iraq. That made me think about the difference between intentions and conditions. And that made me think, golly, I’ll just write a whole fucking post on this intrinsically fascinating topic! It is the LI position that the larger, institutionalized social forces, like the state, or businesses, or parties, operate in reality not to institute some rigid intention or goal, but to produce the conditions that will make push