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Showing posts from January 28, 2007

infinite earth vs anima mundi, round one

Robert Babe coined a phrase that LI is going to steal: infinite earth. My plan for this year’s posts is to sorta weave a pattern around the idea of anima mundi. The anima mundi idea emerges, in the early modern era, as the twin of infinity. Not of course that the anima mundi idea is new, since of course it occurs in one form or another as far back as we care to go. But something happens in the modern era, or rather a whole bunch of seemingly disconnected things happen. To quote again from Bruno’s Ash Wednesday’s colloquy: “And he [Bruno] opened their eyes to see this deity this mother of ours, [earth]which on her back feeds them and nourishes them after she has produced them from her bosom into which she always gathers them again -- who is not to be considered a body without soul and life, let alone the trash of all bodily substances. In this way we know that, if we were on the moon or on other stars, we would not be in a place much unlike this, and perhaps on an even worse [place],

how do I love fertilizer? Let me count the ways

Were I an absolute legislator, I would therefore make it death for a man to be convicted of flying, the moment he could be caught; and to bring him down from his altitude by a bullet sent through his head or his carriage should be no murder. Philosophers would call me a Vandal; the scholar would say that, had it not been for me, the fable of Daedalus would have been realized; and historians would load my memory with reproaches of phlegmn, and stupidity, and oppression; but in the mean time the world would go on quietly, and, if it enjoyed less liberty, would at least be more secure. – William Cowper, letter upon hearing of Montgolfier’s ascent in a balloon. The main reason that human population could quadruple while cropland only doubled in the twentieth century is that farming became more productive. Several elements combined in this, most notably chemical fertilizers and pesticides, irrigation, agricultural machinery and plant breeding. – William McNeil, Something New Under the Sun T

Hommage a Ayanna Khadijah

Ayanna Khadijah is not a celebrity face, is not running for president, and – having the system of surveillance on her neck for years – is not going to make as much money in her life as the CEO of Exxon makes in one day. However, unlike the fucking celebrities, the fucking presidential candidates, and the fucking CEO of Exxon, Khadijah is a real human being. She was the victim of a ridiculous police raid to enforce the wholly monstrous laws against illicit substances in Norwalk, Connecticut. The police illegally entered her apartment and found drugs which, she contends, they actually planted – well, from the article Khadijah, an extraordinarily decent person, doesn’t say planted, but LI will, being an extraordinary son of a bitch. She won her case, but was still given a suspended 3 year felony conviction. Why? …Ayanna Khadijah, 34, …. was convicted of the felony version of failure to appear after she failed to wake up from a nap and arrived 45 minutes late to court one day in August 200

goodbye molly ivins

Well, this year is starting out with a lot of deaths. Molly Ivins just died. I wasn’t going to put up any comment. I looked around and found plenty of comments on plenty of blogs already. But then a friend emailed me and reminded me of Ivins stand against the first Gulf War, retrospective support for which has become a sort of Rush ritual – the warmongers love the idea that anybody who is ‘serious’ in D.C. has to ritually praise the wonderful First Gulf War. Molly Ivins was always part of the “war sucks” club. God bless her. The first time I saw her was, as my friend reminded me, in a chapel at U.T. in 1991. Apparently my friend and I even got on television at that event – but this had gone down the memory hole for yours truly. Ivins gave not only a rousing speech, but the right kind of speech against the upcoming Kuwait War. It was the kind of speech that you hardly hear anymore – it got to the point – fuck that war – it was inclusive – whether you are a Rotarian or a Young Social

Michael Pollan, again

Being the sort of guy who plunges, headfirst, into the latest fashion, LI pondered two options, this week. We could start an exploratory committee to see about running for president (with the secret aim, of course, of being picked as VP by the candidate whose inevitability, at the moment, is crushing, Senator Dodd); or we could start reading Independent People by Halldor Laxness. We crossed off the first option, because we are not going to give up shooting heroin just to pass that nasty drug test they give you to become the Libertarians for War candidate. Fuck that. And it is so sad, since the libertarians for war wanted to combine a muscular liberal approach to foreign policy with small government at home that would concentrate on destroying the scourge of drugs and cutting taxes for the most productive. So we opted for the second. Happily, Independent People is not just recommended by Jonathan Franzen and flaunted around by Columbia U. creative writing students, but is absolutely wo

Misfit liberalism

If LI is anything, we are that crash dummy that is continually being tossed around Lefty sites, the liberal. The sissified liberal, unable to put our shoulder to the wheel and overthrow the capitalist system in one giant revolutionary push. This is true. Our negative reason for this balky liberalism is that we don’t think the revolution would do anything but continue the treadmill of production in place. We don’t think it would take apart the war culture, but simply embody it again, another of the endless avatars. On the positive side, we think the liberal notion of encouraging a profit system, while at the same time putting two loaded pistols to its head at all time – militant labor, and a state that can exert some countervailing pressure to lessen the grosser features of the profit system in spite of its natural inclination to support capital – is the best of all methods to produce affluence. It is the Misfit method – named after the character in the Flannery O’Connor story – and i

the disconnected giant

In the chapter on the "metaphysics of the beautiful and aesthetics" in the second volume of the Parerga and Paralipomena, Schopenhauer discusses history. In 1851, when the essays came out, Schopenhauer's stance against the philosophical importance of history made him seem, pleasingly, like some archaic remnant of the eighteenth century. He was willing to suffer this reputation, and even enlarge on it. History at this time is, of course, associated with Hegel, and even if Hegel did not recognize, in Schopenhauer, his unmasker and foe, Schopenhauer definitely took Hegel as the touchstone of what Leon Daudet later labelled "the stupid 19th century" - the stupidity being, at its very beastly heart, the idea that there was a dynamic axis to history. In the essay on history, Schopenhauer casts himself as a moralist, an intemporal observer, a user of classical exempla. And he comes up with this image: He who, like myself, cannot help seeing in all history the same thi

A decent future

Brother see we are one in the same And you left with your head filled with flames And you watched as your brains fell out through your teeth Push the pieces in place Make your smile sweet to see Don't you take this away - Neutral Milk Hotel “I met Haifa and her husband, Hassan, both teachers, in a driveway in western Baghdad. They had just found the body of their 12-year-old son, who had been kidnapped and brutally killed, and were frantic with grief. They finally decided to leave Iraq, but its violence tormented them to the end. They paid a man to drive them to Jordan, but he was working with Sunni militants in western Iraq, and pointed out Hassan, a Shiite, to a Sunni gang that stopped the car. Over the next several hours, Haifa waved a tiny Koran at men in masks, pleading for her husband’s release, her two remaining children in tow. Hassan, meanwhile, knelt in a small room, his hands behind his back. His captors shot a man next to him in the neck. Haifa, a Sunni, eventually prev