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Showing posts from November 12, 2006

friedman and a non-tomato

I’ve poked around and looked at Milton Friedman’s tributes and tomatoes. I’m mostly in the throw a tomato camp – but there were libertarian moments in Friedman’s work that I definitely love. Among them, naturally, was his opposition over forty years to drug prohibition. What surprises me, however, about that opposition is how little it drew strength from any theory of markets – and I’ve always thought that had to do with the reluctance to ascribe any virtue to state regulation. In fact, the illegal drug markets are a wonderful instance of what happens when the state abandons its regulatory function by opting for straight banning. State regulation is often very inefficient – think of the way state’s regulate liquor and cigarette sales, and how leaky the ban on selling to minors is – and yet the standard by which it should be measured has, as its primary dimension, social concord. The first thing one wants in an economy is relative peace. Snatch and grab, which is all very well for the

a percipient speaks

That sleep, or rather the borderland which lies on either side of sleep, is peculiarly favourable to the production in the percipient, not only of hallucinations in general, but of telepathic hallucinations in particular, has already been shown. – Frank Podmore, Apparitions and Thought Transference. Let’s first imagine Albert Freiherr von Schrenck-Notzing, shall we? Of course we shall. A baron and a doctor, a respectable man whose investigations into sexual pathology have uncovered much rich material about the peculiar perversion of algolagnia. So we shall imagine him, one night, in the winter of 1886 … “I think it was in the month of February, as I was going along the Barerstrasse one evening at half past 11, it occurred to me to make an attempt at influencing at a distance, through mental concentration. As I had had, for some time, the honour of being acquainted with the family of Herr…, and thus had had the opportunity of learning that his daughter, Fraulein …., was sensitive to

what is to be done?

I was reading the chapter on Lenin in James C. Scott’s Seeing Like the State a couple of days ago. In that chapter, Scott compares Lenin to other modernist figures, and in particular Le Corbusier. Scott takes Lenin’s text, What is to be Done, as his starting point for discussing the organization of the Communist party as a classic modernist project: the use of military metaphors, a planning structure based on an elite command center, the distrust of spontaneity, the whole nine yards. But more than that, Scott compares Lenin’s notion, in 1903, that a party such as he envisions it, and only a party such as he envisions it, can really bring about a revolution, with what happened in 1917, when the spontaneity that Lenin believed to be doomed by its lack of goals and viable mechanisms actually did the task that the Bolsheviks couldn’t do in fifteen years – overthrew the Czar. Revolution, it turned out, was very different from Lenin had envisioned it. Now what struck LI is that Lenin’s theo

marie antoinette... maria stuart...ulrike...gudrun

uber "die Spielformen weiblicher Herrschaft, die am Ende alle in den Tod führen" – “…over the forms of the play of feminine domination, which in the end leads to everybody’s death.” The big deal about Coppola’s Marie Antoinette has passed – but I’d much prefer to see Jelenik’s new play: Ulrike Maria Stuart. The combination of Schiller’s play and the Ulrike Meinhof story (and I admit that I still have a bit of a thing for Ulrike Meinhof) sounds like an idea hatched in hell – where all the good theater comes from. The lines, at least the one’s quoted in the Spiegel review, are – for anyone who remembers the old New Left style (I remember, long ago in France, reading an Autonomen manifesto demanding that parents masturbate their children to lead them out of the toils of bourgeois repression – oh, that was a long, long time ago. Who knew the years of lead would turn into years and years of fool’s gold?) – of a champagne like, ticklish deliciousness. Here’s a lament from t

One more thing, ahem

Gay Talese, at the below mentioned conference, said something that irritated me. It wasn’t his fault, really – the zeitgeist filled his mouth. He said he considered himself a story-teller. He said everybody has a story. He gestured ecumenically and said, there are hundreds of stories in this room. Excuse me, but I can’t fucking stand this holy gargling around the word story. In truth, we don’t all have stories at all. Mostly, we have rumors. We are rumors to ourselves. Countless times, I have heard a person with whom I shared experience x tell a third party about x and censor, distort, exaggerate, and in general leave such a patchwork impression of the experience as might be admired by an old Marseillaise street of gossiping fishwives. And that isn’t even going into the major flaws with logic and continuity by which one sequence fits into the other in the ‘story’ of one’s life, as told by the lucky auto in the autobiography. Janet Malcolm made the point long ago in her book, In the Fr

Further adventures at the Mailer conference.

Well, LI’s headache got a better offer from a better head, one with a Pacific coast view, the sauna, the cable tv, a lot more sex to at least vicariously control, and so it moved away. So now I will say one more thing about the Mailer conference. I didn’t catch most of the conference, which started last Thursday. This is because I have had work – work! – due to my name being spread by former clients like IT, Lei and Silja . If this keeps up, I might be able to afford to get a new boom box to replace my recently deceased stereo. So the one conference panel I did observe was the last one. Three academics spoke, and the MC was Morris Dickstein, who looked like the Gates of Eden was a long time ago. So okay. Question time. One question about Mailer’s technophobia. This was mulled around by the panel without any theme emerging. Then the eager guy sitting next to me – Robert Boyer, the editor of Salmagundi – made the comment that though Mailer criticized technology, he benefited from it

yesterday - Mailer day

LI has an enormous headache – one of those headaches with its own address, utilities and telephone number – so my post today, which was going to be all about how I got to see Norman Mailer speak, yesterday (hooray!) and how I finished my damning review of Pynchon’s new novel (sob) is going to have to be truncated. Suffice it to say that, about the latter, I finished that review with the feeling of the crippled lawyer in Lady From Shanghai, who tracks down his wife, Rita Hayworth, in the Mirror Fun House and calls out to her hundred fold reflected image – Lovah, are you aiming that gun at me? Cause I’m sure aiming this gun at you. Of course, to kill you is to kill myself – but I’m getting tired of the both of us. - My codex to the Planet Mars, Gravity’s Rainbow, that great black magic book about white magic, i.e. the Good War, is still high up there as one of the novel’s I most admire. Alas, Against the Day is the dissolution, a barbaric yawp turned into a barbaric yawn. Lovah, are you