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Showing posts from April 29, 2007

Western man, don't you... come aroounnd....

“What madness says of itself is, for the thought and the poetry of the beginning of the 19th century, equally what the dream says in the disorder of its images: a truth of man, a very archaic and very near truth, very silent and very menacing: a truth under every truth, the closest to the birth of subjectivity, and the most distributed on the level of things; a truth that is the profound retreat of the individuality of man, and the inchoate from of the cosmos: What dreams, is the Spirit in the instant that it descends into matter, and it is the Matter in the instant that it lifts itself up to the Spirit. The dream is the revelation of the very essence of man, the most characteristic process, the most intimate of life.” - Foucault There is little mention of the new world in Foucault’s book about madness. But I spy with my little eye a whole world of docking points, places where the savage connects to the madman. These figures operate in tandem, in the mysterious fields of the Western

IT'S HERE!!!!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen... the moment you have all been waiting for! An adventure beyond your wildest dreams! An adrenaline rush from start to finish, says Hustler's Financial Supplement! Revolutionized my view of the world - I'm resigning! says Treasury Secretary Paulsen. Can you just pay me back half of what I loaned you, says the translator's brother, D.! It came from the depth of misty olde England - a monster beyond reckoning! A disembodied shape! Neo-classical economics - can anyone stop this fearsome beast from destroying the world! Find out the answer - buy the book!

adam smith and the Pirahã

Our last post was an accident. We were looking up a quote in Foucault to use to continue talking about our European savage thread, and found the Kugelmass post about the Scull review and remembered the controversy. We will be using Foucault again, because we are going to talk about – language! Uh oh. That lost us most of our readership right there. The deal is this, however. Two weeks ago, there was an article, The Interpreter, by John Colapinto, about the language of a “hunter-gatherer tribe called the Pirahã” in the New Yorker. It was fascinating stuff. The tribe is in the news because a Chomskian named Everett, a well respected linguist, has defected. The Chomskian El Dorado is to construct the universal structures of language, and lately the sweet spot has been the notion of recursion: “… a linguistic operation that consists of inserting one phrase inside another of the same type, as when a speaker combines discrete thoughts ("the man is walking down the street," &quo

Scull's fun and factoids: or Foucault in round one

A couple of months ago, Andrew Scull published a scathing review of Foucault’s The History of Madness, which is out in a new translation, in the TLS. At the time, this made a stir on some of the theory blogs, but LI didn’t pay much attention to that. Theory blogs love to trample extensively through the mire, but lately LI has wished for a change of mire – it is always zizek zizek zizek badiou French theorist zizek zizek zizek. However, we did read this post on the valve about the whole thing by Joseph Kugelmass. Kugelmass had the same reaction as most of the theory web, which was to defend Foucault by retreating to the notion that Foucault, after all, didn’t have to get his footnotes and facts right – that he was working with another set of criteria. The reason for this attitude was that Scull’s piece gave off the shimmer of expertise. Here, at last, Foucault's misstatements and tricks would be unmasked by a man who knows what he is talking about, an expert in the field. The t

Mission accomplished

Everybody is publishing their memories, sweet memories, of the Mission Accomplished moment – that moment when President Backbone made us smile with our might, the righteousness of our cause, and, let’s face it, the genius and toughness of our leadership, warriors all. Here’s a clip from a CNN interview with Douglas Brinkley, a liberal historian whose talk was pretty much the standard Democratic party line as – to put it bluntly – they stupidly stared at the beginning of an occupation and thought, well, war’s over. These people were utterly vacuous. Utterly lacking in brains. As unable as the most ultra Bushites to put one “then” in front of another. They really believed that their would be no insurgency? They really believed it was all about marching to Baghdad? They really thought the U.S. was that powerful? They really were that unacquainted with the history of the last one hundred years? They really were that afraid to speak out? What a collection of pissants and fuckwads, as we li

a collector speaks.

Other people collect butterflies. A hobby that gets you outside, and puts you in scenes of great natural beauty, and sharpens your sense of microscopic differences. LI’s hobby doesn’t come with such healthful after-effects. We like to collect leftists who preach far right policies, in the name of the left. These people can’t ask for the salt without assuring all and sundry that asking for the salt is a leftist value. No, an enlightenment value. No, a universal value, comrades! Figaro – which, for those not in the know, is a conservative paper – published a simply beautiful specimen Friday. Just as the ardent collector, spotting a patch of vetch, is on the q vive for anthrocera purpuralis, the collector of these apostles of true, of core, of hardcore leftism knows to venture into areas like the Wall Street Journal Editorial page, or transcripts of the Hugh Hewitt program, to scoop up some really great specimens. As they feed in these areas, they become much less shy – even garrulous.

negative inspiration

Spirit enough to be bored — Whoever doesn’t have enough spirit to be able to find himself and his work boring is certainly not a spirit of the first rank, be it in the arts or sciences. A satirist who was, unusually, also a thinker, could add to this, taking a look at the world and history: God must not have had this spirit: he wanted to make and did make things, collectively, too interesting.” – Nietzsche, Human all too H. LI is unsure about the jab at God at the end of this little saying, but every writer knows the moment that comes upon him like negative inspiration, when he detaches and to find himself and his work boring. That’s the moment that Bely cuts his masterpiece, Petersburg, by a third; that may be the moment when Rimbaud said fuck it, although I am too little devil or angel to venture there into that affair. However, I’ve been pondering the economist’s version of happiness – even Bartolini’s, critical as he is of the treadmill of production that has brought us wheel

Creating unhappiness, creating growth

"Keep your electric eye on me, babe put your raygun to my head..." Continuing from our last post re Stefano Bartolini's paper. Bartolini’s model connects work, happiness and savings by hypothesizing that growth is a matter of exploiting two negative externalities, of which he concentrates on two types: “positional ones, and those which reduce the availability of free goods as final or intermediate goods.” In essence, that the promise of the affluence which is supposed to have been brought about by greater labor productivity and, especially, the increase in human capital, has not been borne out for reasons that are germane to the system itself. The system generates both an image of happiness and a pandemic of unhappiness. Bartolini wants to know why the savings rate does not effect the quantity of labor, why, that is, the amount of time spent working keeps going up, and why the satisfaction with one’s life is unaffected by increases over a certain amount of wealth. The l