Skip to main content


Showing posts from March 25, 2007

the golden hairs of her armpits...

"Et, lorsque Nana levait les bras, on apercevait, aux feux de la rampe, les poils d’or de ses aisselles." Nana attaching itself by a hundred strings to a prearranged table of kinships, heredities, transmissions, is the vast crowded epos of the daughter of the people filled with poisoned blood and sacrificed as well as sacrificing on the altar of luxury and lust; the panorama of such a “progress’ as Hogarth would more definitely have named – the progress across the high plateau of pleasure and down the facile descent on the other side.” – Henry James. Offenbach’s career is neatly divided by 1870. In that year, he had to disappear from France for a while, since he was originally from Germany. The collapse of Napoleon III’s court, and the Second Empire, and the commune, and the establishment of the third republic created, at least for a while, a puritanical atmosphere in which Offenbach’s operas were looked upon as symptoms of decay, if not causative agents in themselves. And of

the art in subversion

One must have ideas and tunes that are as genuine as hard cash. – Offenbach Offenbach has always had heavy fans – Nietzsche, Karl Kraus, Kracauer. Kracauer wrote about Orphee aux enfers, the first Offenbach opera to mock the Gods, that in it Offenbach was calling out to the bourgeoisie: “Confess that you are just as bored as the gods, and follow the lead that they are giving. What was the lead the gods were giving? They were setting about making a revolution… And so that their anger might be given a thorough contemporary note, the orchestra [strikes] up the Marseillaise, which in the days of the Second Empire was very definitely a revolutionary song. The challenge was plain enough.” (Quoted in Michael Chanon, from Handel to Hendrix) Of course, boredom is a two edged butter knife, and if we make revolution from boredom, what will we do when we are bored with revolution? Kracauer, thank god, lived in the days before the verb subvert entered the critical vocabulary like a radical chic div

how many times do I have to tell you, America?

“A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse, Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them.” The escalation in all its glory: “The two men showed up on Tuesday afternoon to evict Suaada Saadoun’s family. One was carrying a shiny black pistol. Ms. Saadoun was a Sunni Arab living in a Shiite enclave of western Baghdad. A widowed mother of seven, she and her family had been chased out once before. This time, she called American and Kurdish soldiers at a base less than a mile to the east. The men tried to drive away, but the soldiers had blocked the street. They pulled the men out of the car. “If anything happens to us, they’re the ones responsible,” said Ms. Saadoun, 49, a burly, boisterous woman in a black robe and lavender-blue head scarf. The Americans shoved the men into a Humvee. Neighbors clapped and cheered as if their soccer team had

Dominique Kalifa

Okay, we’ve seen Barthes, we’ve seen Mallarme, is it time yet to go to the concession stand and buy the kids peanuts, and what does this have to do with our Bush era beeswax anyway, honey? Let’s turn, shall we, he said medically, to this essay by Dominique Kalifa, a French historian very interested in the symbiotic relationship between crime and the press. K alifa pushes back to the 1830s the “mediatic era” , seeing three things come together then: a cheap, mass circulation press; second, a press in which more can be printed (the initiative comes here from the editor Gervais Charpentier, who lead his« révolution » in 1838. Thanks to the technical possibilities opened by the mechanical presses, he created a new format, the so called « in-18 jésus » (18,3 x 11,5 cm), which permitted the offer of much more text for a price reduced by half: 3,50 francs au lieu de 7. The totality of bookstores were constrained to align themselves, engaging from than on, little by little, in the path which

side show act, interrupted

We all work to one effect, some willingly, and with a rational apprehension of what we do: others without any such knowledge. As I think Heraclitus in a place speaketh of them that sleep, that even they do work in their kind, and do confer to the general operations of the world. One man therefore doth co-operate after one sort, and another after another sort; but even he that doth murmur, and to his power doth resist and hinder; even he as much as any doth co-operate. – Marcus Aurelius LI was going to directly plow into our Barthes quote – in the post before the last post – to suss out this “immanence” and the strangely intimate world of the news as it is sliced, diced, produced, and repeated on the tv news broadcast that forms the basis for your average American householder’s feel for the world outside of the perimeter. And also the world at the urban center, the fear of the black planet world. Our idea is that the ‘idiocy’ at play in the defense of the Iraq war as something that co

that dog don't hunt... the right way, sir

Sometimes the liberal bloggers remind us of so many untrained coon hounds out on the hunt, baying for anything – skunk, squirrel or sparrow – except coon. So it seems at least with the Berube post over at Crooked Timber and the resulting comments rush, in which LI elbowed into the queue, hollerin’ for a stake. Now to my mind there’s one and only one coon in the hunt: the war culture. Since the whole thing started on the level of a feud between Cockburn and Berube on the credentials of Berube’s anti-war stance (about which Cockburn is wrong, apparently) this was probably a rush that was gonna go wrong from the beginning. And in fact Cockburn’s fucking point, at the beginning of his article, doesn’t get a look: “Pick almost any date on the calendar and it’ll turn out that the US either started a war, ended a war, perpetrated a massacre or sent its UN Ambassador into the Security Council to declare to issue an ultimatum. It’s like driving across the American West. “Historic marker, 1 mi

iraq and the world of the fait-divers

LI often wonders about a particular form of the defense of the Iraq war that we come across in comments threads, and that seems pretty common the margins of conservative political talk. The defense goes like this: Iraq is mostly peaceful, and the violence there is no greater than violence in a major U.S. metropolis. The metropolis chosen is, of course, always predominantly black. Here’s an example from last week’s news: During an interview Monday with WILS-AM in Lansing, Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, said the returning troops he has talked with "indicate to me that 80 to 85 percent, in a conservative fashion, of (Iraq) is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cities. That's an encouraging sign." Program host Jack Ebling remarked, "I've never heard Iraq compared to Detroit before." Walberg responded: "Well, in fact, in many places it's as safe and cared for as Detroit or Harvey, Illinois, or some o

a medical question

Democrat Proposes Making Withdrawal Date Secret Only Congress, White House and Iraqi Government Would Know Plan - Headline, Washington Post I'm pretty sure repeated bouts of convulsive, sardonic laughter have been implicated in lung cancer. So, if the good citizens of Mississippi can take AJ Reynolds for ten billion or so, do you think LI can sue WAPO for, say, 100,000 plus a gift card at the good for a lifetime supply of xanax?

edna st. vincent millay and hart crane

The Werepoet has been glorifying Edna St. Vincent Millay lately . I’m a latecomer to Millay. In the summer of 2001, I contacted Inside New York to write a review of the Millay bio, Savage Beauty, that came out that season. Then I went to Mexico. I brought the book with me and read it as I did what I did in Mexico, and after a while, Inside NY got pissed with me. Where was the review? So I did it fast, and I wrote way over the word limit, and the editor, justly, said you have screwed the pooch, son. So I dint make the easy on that, did I? But the bio turned me onto the work. And I fell for Edna. This was unexpected. See, I’d been suckled, or not exactly suckled, more like inducted into poetry in high school through reading the modernist masters. Admittedly, I did not understand Wallace Stevens – but I lapped up Eliot and Pound. When I played tennis with my best friend K. – glorious autumns at the Dekalb County Junior College tennis courts – I used to amuse him by spouting off bits of Ge