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Showing posts from February 18, 2007
I am finishing up a project that has powderized the marrow from my bones and snuffed it up its big fat nose. So, no big post today, no flapping of my dusty moth wings against the infamies of empire. No rousing and pointless charges at my usual tilts. Instead, go to this link, which is about something capitalism is getting right for a change: the google book project! I have a tragic and total love for the google book project. Gots to testify, here, friend, neighbors, mooks and gibberers! As a editor and researcher for hire, this project has certainly revolutionized my life and given me a stiff neck from hours of searching for hire. I haven’t used this blog to advertise myself, lately, or shill for buckos, but let’s just say LI is an early adapter, and well worth the pittance if you are in need of a research scout for that paper.

good news (again) in Iraq

As LI has said before, there is something curiously hollow about the Bush administration’s policy stated aim of victory in Iraq. On the one hand, we already won – you will remember the Saddam Hussein hanging. On the other hand, we are still there, fighting for something. Often, that something is simply conflated with “defeating Al Qaeda.” It is an interesting policy – one perhaps stemming from Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable - that seeks to protect the Iraqis from Al Qaeda while allowing Al Qaeda to regroup and party in Pakistan. Is this due to the saintliness of our president? Bravely trying to wrestle the control of the White House plane away from the pilot on 9/11/2001 so he could go mano a mano with the terrorist fiends, did Bush’s thoughts drift to the potential danger to the Iraqis – in Kirkuk, Mosul, Basra, Baghdad and all of those cities he had difficulty finding on a map – from an Al Qaeda that didn’t exactly exist in Iraq, but could, if America didn’t challenge them by inviting

fightin' al qaeda at abu ghraib

“I beg you, let us establish from the start as the solid bases of any such system,” said Verneuil, that in the intentions of nature there is necessarily one class of individuals essentially subordinate to the other by weakness and by birth: given this, if the subject sacrificed by the individual who gives himself up to his passions belongs to this weak and deficient class, then the sacrificer has no more done anything evil than the owner of a farm who kills his pig.” – D.A.F. de Sade, quoted in Luc Boltanski’s Distant Suffering. Boltanski’s book has a section devoted to the pure spectator. He uses painting and its placement to illustrate the evolution of the spectator, and his erasure from the painting. In Florence, the paintings that depicted the tortures of the damned were placed in chambers of justice where the tortures of the living – the criminals – were enacted. “The works analysed by Edgerton which represent the Last Judgment (or, in the upper part a Last Judgement and, in the

check out lumpenprofessoriat on the love boat to mesopotamia

A friend of mine has started a blog, and has a nice, rabble rousing post up for today. Check out lumpenprofessoriat! LP argues that we can see the outpouring of love, love, love in the wreck and murder of Iraq: “Love of country, love of freedom, love of the troops, and love for the victims of 9/11 becomes transformed into the injustice and evil of shock and awe, of Abu Ghraib, and of the hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq. This seems to fit well with both the experience and rhetoric of the war to date where noble sentiments and endless shit have marched hand in hand.”

a post that bristles with references like a porcupine bristles with spikes

“Let’s be clear. There is simple ass kissing, and there is metaphorical ass kissing.” –Rameau. The dialogue between Diderot and Rameau’s nephew seems, like a normal conversation, to touch on one thing and then another. The theme of it, though, keeps returning to Rameau – how he lives, and how he lives with himself. Rameau is a flatterer, a backbiter, a crook (escroc), a go-between, a lover of good food and riches. But he is also endowed with good taste, or at least steady, classical taste – he doesn’t delude himself about the quality of Voltaire’s work, but he does comfort himself with the badness of the worst of Voltaire's moral character. To illustrate his world, he tells several anecdotes. Now,the curious thing about these anecdotes is that they operate as a test. It gradually becomes clear that there is a competition, a game, going on between Diderot, the moi in the dialogue, and Rameau, the lui. What is this game? It is a test we all go through as kids: the test of disgust. Th

the true victims of the Iraq war - some of them not wearing underwear

Here’s an article that probes that American concern, anguish really, about war, peace, and freedom, and the death of half a million Iraqis, and the flight of at least two million so far. And - impressively - it turns out that the big victims here, the real victims, are Americans. The stories of going to Europe and being victimized are just heartbreaking. People, good people, are being treated meanly! In Europe! An excerpt: “Jacqie Venable, a 40-year-old music producer, was wearing a beret and jeans. She said she wasn’t wearing underwear. She said the war in Iraq was meant to happen “karmically.” “In my spiritual picture, it has to do with karma,” she said. “Everything that happens in life, to each of us, is what we call into our space. Everything comes full circle. So right now, it’s going to work out to whatever it works out to be. It might be happy for me and not happy for you. “The people who are there fighting—it’s their journey. This is our journey,” she continued. “Peop

Zigzag

This is from Ashton’s The History of Gambling in England. It is what Ivan Karamazov would call an allegory. Yes, for LI, there is something about this story of drunken hanging that reminds me of the paired destiny of the buffoon and the sage, this thread that I have been following – into my own asshole, certain cruel readers might say. No – into even drier gulches of history than that. "The Annual Register about this time supplies us with several gambling anecdotes, the following being almost incredible: 15th April, 1812 – “On Wednesday evening an extraordinary investigation took place at Bow Street. Croker, the officer, was passing along the Haampstead road, when he observed, at a short distance before him, two men on a wall, and , directly after, saw the tallest of them, a stout man, about six feet high, hanging by his neck, from a lamp post attached to the wall, being that instant tied up and turned off by the short man. This unexpected and extraordinary sight astonished the

two trillion dollars - where is that pesky wabbit?

As LI has written again and again and again, there is no war on terrorism, and President Backbone is its prophet. Nothing changed, for the White House, on 9/11. Not a damned thing. Garbage in has meant garbage, oh so much of it, out. So much movement around so much stasis. This lovely article from the NYT gives us an exciting glimpse into the future that was decided when the U.S. “allowed” Osama Who to escape in 2001. Now, let’s see. In the past six years, conservatively, the U.S. has spent two trillion dollars are “defense”, and Mr. Who has spent maybe a cool million or two becoming a video star. And the end result of that is, as anybody would have expected from the unparalleled criminality of our Little Caesars in D.C. – that Osama is becoming the Toyota of terrorists. Moving up fast! As recently as 2005, American intelligence assessments described senior leaders of Al Qaeda as cut off from their foot soldiers and able only to provide inspiration for future attacks. But more rece

eine kleine Hegelmusik

In the Phenomenology, Hegel introduces some of the dialogue from Rameau’s nephew in the section on the “self alienated spirit”. Here, the social conditions that frame the dialectical image embodied, eventually, in the “myself” and “him” of the dialogue are State Power and Wealth. They inevitably impinge upon “Bildung” – education, the development of the intelligence (Einsicht) – and there is no resigning from them, or turning away from them. Since State Power and Wealth are, indeed, the spirits that preside over our current miseries, the current sad state of American culture, American aggression, American cluelessness – the whole D.C. daisy chain – the dialogue between the sage and the buffoon takes on a whole new relevance. One has only to read, say, in the Friday Washington Post a profile of Michelle Malkin by Howard Kurz entitled Hard Right Punch to see how the transaction between decency (o decency), the false transparency of the media, and buffoonery plays out in these dire days

the setting

“No matter if the weather is fair or foul, it is my habit to talk a walk, at five in the evening, to the Palais-Royal.” This is how Diderot begins Rameau’s Nephew. With a walk. For the sage, the regular walk is important. Kant, that indefatigable commenter on all things under the sun, noted the importance of the walk to the scholar in The Conflict of the Faculties under the heading: “On Pathological Feelings that Come from Thinking at Unsuitable Times”. “Thinking – whether in the form of study (reading books) or reflection (meditation and discovery) is a scholar’s food: and when he is wide awake and alone, he cannot live without it. But if he taxes his energy by occupying himself with a specific thought when he is eating or walking, he inflicts two tasks on himself at the same time – on the head and the stomach or on the head and the feet; and in the first place this brings on hypochondria, in the second, vertigo.” In a note, Kant distinguishes (Kant indefatiguably distinguishes – thi