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Showing posts from March 11, 2007

poets vs. policymakers

Re: the poets I went to the Boston Review site, to a symposium held in Spring, 2006 about exiting from Iraq. The symposium centered around an essay by Barry Posen, a war intellectual. There were replies from politicians and experts, like Senator Biden and Lawrence Korb. There was also a reply by Elliot Weinberg, a poet who has been writing about Iraq for the LRB. Unsurprisingly, to me, almost everything said by the politicians and the war intellectuals – for instance, their assurance that by late 2007 the U.S. was going to be pulling troops out of Iraq – has turned out to be wrong. Posen proposed what will be the Hilary Clinton policy, one of perpetual stationing of U.S. troops in the Middle East under cover of fictitious threats – for instance, the “threat” posed by Iran to Iraq: “American military planners should be directed to develop “over the horizon” strategies for the defense of Iraq against conventional aggression. The United States should exploit its command of the sea, sp

the west is the best...

A little collage today. This is from a review of three books about the slave trade by Peter Ackroyd in the Times: Two hundred years after the House of Commons voted for the abolition of the slave trade (although not of slavery itself) a number of books are being published to celebrate the anniversary. If their focus is largely on England, that is because slave trading became a thoroughly English business. Half of the ships crossing the Atlantic with their infamous cargo came from English ports, the three most prominent being London, Bristol and Liverpool. They left carrying goods for African merchants; in return they acquired slaves, the remnants of conquered tribes. Once the human merchandise had been sold in the Americas, the ships returned laden with sugar and tobacco. In the 1780s alone, 794,000 Africans were transported. It can safely be estimated that many tens of millions made the fatal journey. Not all of them arrived. Approximately 15 per cent of them died during the Atlant

another baudelaire post

- Hugh H. Diamond, studies in puerperal mania. “Also, I have to admit that, for the last two or three months, I’ve let my character go, I’ve taken a particular joy in wounding, in showing myself impertinent, a talent in which I excel when I want to. But here that isn’t enough: one has to be gross in order to be understood.”- letter, October 13, 1864 It is odd that – at least as I remember it – Sebald, in his last novel, Austerlitz, part of which is set in Belgium, never mentions Baudelaire. Could I be forgetting something? The 1887 edition of the Oeuvres Posthumes contains a biographical introduction by Eugène Crépet that explains the peculiar horror that overcame Baudelaire in 1864 as he familiarized himself with Belgium – it was another piece of his habitual bad luck that he chose to flee from France to, of all places, Belgium. It was the kind of place, as he explains in a letter, where the only thing that could possibly move the people to revolt would be raising the cost of beer.

the sibyls of modernism

« Aujourd’hui, 23 janvier 1862, écrit Baudelaire sur son carnet, j’ai subi un singulier avertissement, j’ai senti passer sur moi le vent de l’aile de l’imbécillité. » “En 1863, le Figaro insère, en extrait, une violente attaque de Pontmartin contre Baudelaire. En 1864, le même Figaro condescend à publier une série de Poèmes en prose. Seulement, après deux publications (7 et 14 février), Villemessant met fin à cette fantaisie et voici la raison qu’il donne sans ambages à l’auteur, pour expliquer la mesure prise : « Vos poèmes ennuyaient tout le monde. » - La Vie doloureuse de Baudelaire, by Francois Porche I recently re-read one of my favorite books of the nineties, James Buchan’s Frozen Desire, an essay on money that gives as much weight to paintings of Judas, the life of Baudelaire, and Raskolnikov (the final dire dialectical figure at the end of laissez faire) as it does to Adam Smith, Keynes and Simmel – and of course it ignores the horrid Milton Friedman, God rest his soul. A

the portmanteau tombstone

Le voyez-vous, dit-elle, il meurt, ce vieux pervers, Tous les frimas du monde ont passé par sa bouche – Nerval, “Horus” Nerval is a poet of strange, strange lines. All the frost of the world passed through his mouth – a truth that could shatter some world, one you possibly live in, if you could find the key to it. An anecdote: When Nerval went mad in 1841, he naturally tried to suppress the news of this from leaking out. He was the most discrete of men. So imagine his shock when his friend, the critic Jules Janin, wrote a charming mock obituary for Nerval’s reason. So funny! Nerval, in public, even played along with the image Janin had stamped upon him, but in a despairing letter to Janin Nerval denounced the article and Janin for ruining that thing in a life that you can’t get back: the seriousness that surrounds one. He’d been made a buffoon, who feared being made a buffoon. Here’s how Jonathan Strauss, in Subjects of Terror: Nerval, Hegel and the Modern Self, describes what happ
LI was going to put in this here space one of our ever popular posts about Janin, Nerval and Baudelaire, but unfortunately, where does the fucking time go? LI can't be translating French stuff today, ladies and gents. We did want to announce that we got a contribution of enormous proportions for this site, yesterday. Thank you, Mr. .... And, in lieu of something interesting and fun, it is compare and contrast day. Here is an article about the new oil law in Iraq from a warmonger . The gentleman has never been right about Iraq, has found the killing fields in Iraq something of a bracer, supported installing a convicted criminal as the head of the conquered territory, and has never met an opposition argument that he hasn't disposed of by dishonestly manhandling it. We are talking about one suave voiced peckerwood here. And over here is one from a sensible person who knows about the oil business . You decide which one is within the ballpark of reality, and which one is anothe

An anecdote for IT

Grimod de Reyniere was a famous gourmand of pre-revolutionary and revolutionary France. We have mentioned him in an earlier post. He is mentioned by Nerval as an esprit faible – Nerval tells the story of the two philosophical feasts that were given by Grimod in the Roman fashion, at which women with long hair were scattered among the guests so that their hair could be used by the guests to wipe their hands – just the kind of touch that drove Carlyle and Dickens crazy about the ancien regime. Anyway, Grimod de Reyniere was notoriously fond of pigs, and not so fond of women – or at least, of his mother. I have found a quote from him from a history of feasting, Charlemagne’s Tablecloth: Everything in a pig is good. What ingratitude has permitted its name to become a form of opprobrium? Is there a woman, no matter how pretty she may be, who can equal … Arles sausage, that delicacy which makes the person of the pig so valuable and precious? And yet, this pig love is a rather odd thi

our standard begging post

Limited Inc has not posted a begging contribution post in a while. So I figure it is time to post one. This is an excellent month to contribute to the maintenance of this enterprise if you are so inclined, since this month is proving to be a cruel one to LI's bones. We had a nice anonymous contribution last week - for which, much thanks! Contributors large and small, check out the little paypal link.

the soundtrack

Q: In everyday life, do you sometimes have the impression of being in a film? Baudrillard: Yes, particularly in America, to a quite painful degree. If you drive around Los Angeles in a car, or go out into the desert, you are left with an impression that is toally cinematographic, hallucinatory. You are … steeping in a substance which is that of the real, of the hyper-real, of the cinema. This is so even with that foreboding of catastrophe: an enormous truck bowling along a freeway, the frequent allusions to the possibility of catastrophic events, but perhaps that is a scenario I describe to myself.” -From Baudrillard Live: selected interviews. LI is of the opinion that post-modernity never happened, that all the features that are supposed to be postmodern – the hyperreal, the self as self-reference, the undermining of epistemic certainties by pure doxic moments (doxa, you Platonists will remember, are the half way real) – that all of this is what happens as we wander about the extende

Liars all the way down

LI recommends this article by Gretchen Morgensen today . Although it scares the living bejesus out me – since one of the things about the temporary collapse of capitalism is that poor people tend to get wiped out first, and I tend to be a poor person. Shit. In the dream, I am at the wheel of the car, and the brake stops working, and the accelerator jams, and there is a brick wall looming just ahead. There is a conservative mindset which pops up among the Clinton liberal set that is all about balanced budgets. I think that is fucking braindead. Debt is not a bad thing – for instance, the European economy, with its paralyzed fear of inflation, did not do the necessary in the past six years, ease up lending requirements and use the European real estate market, in classic Keynesian fashion, to operate as a multiplier at the same time as it transferred savings into investment - but reading this made me sick. This is when the evaporation of savings becomes, uh, real: In 2000, according t

ersatz outrage, real outrage, and the boy that go a-lynchin'

LI will, perhaps, shock all true hearts by admitting that we weren’t at all shocked by Ann Coulter’s use of faggot last week. It wasn’t as good a joke as it could have been, but fuck it – it isn’t that we are especially worried that the Conservative Congress of Dimwits is going to hear something that will corrupt them, or their endorsement of various politicians who will do all within their power to give us a nice, toasty, lifeending atmosphere and lead up to it with one bloody and pointless war after the other. We thought, at most, that this was a sign of the separation of conservative politics from the conservative constituency. It may surprise liberals, but the conservative constituency is not that interested in politics. Fundamentally, it needs to be prodded into paying concerted attention to who rules the country (although I should say, the attention is directed to a counterfeit network of who runs the country – nobody wants the fundamentalist yahoos looking at the life styles o