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Showing posts from July 15, 2007

the hearsties

The prizes for journalism are not, perhaps, as well known outside of journalism circles as within. There is, for instance, the Pulitzer “cockroach” award, given for the columnist who has done the most to promote exterminationism and war crimes – and though most people thought Christopher Hitchens had the lock on it again this year, that award went to the ever egregious Fred Hiatt. And there is the Hearst award for Bootlicking, which goes to the journalist who has displayed the most valiant brownnosing in the areas of celebrity interview, sports, business, and political reporting. The Hearstie is prized by the writers of Teen People and the business journalists from Forbes, two pools that have traditionally dominated, but this year, I see a strong showing by the New York Times. Harriet Rubin, for instance, turned in a stunning performance yesterday in the business section. An article entitled “C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success” had a certain magnificent abasement, a certain sau

search me with this salt

- Lot's wife, Anselm Kiefer But the storehouse, and the very life of memory, is the history of time; and a special charge have we, all along the Scriptures, to call upon men to look to that. For all our wisdom consisteing either in experience or memory – experience of our own, or memory of others, our days are so short that our experience can be but slender… - Lancelot Andrewes In his great, skewed sermon on Lot’s Wife, preached before Queen Elizabeth, Lancelot Andrewes remarks there are only seven instances, in the Vulgate, when we are called upon to remember something – a memento is laid down, as he puts it: “Seven several times we are called upon to do it: a. Memento dierum antiquorum, saith Moses. 2. Recordamini prioris Seculi – Esay. 3. State super vias antiques-Jermy. Investiga patrum memoriam-Job. 5. Exemplum sumite Prophetas-James. 6. Rememoramini dies priscos-Paul. 7. Remember Lot’s wife- Christ here; that is, to lay our actions to those we find there, and of like doings

and what are you doing? Oh, first let me tell you what I'm doing...

I was talking on the phone last night with a friend who is thinking of going to the Frankfurt Book Fair this November to peddle her translating talent. She lives in Barcelona and has translated two novels from Spanish, one for FSG. So we talked a little bit about plans and projects, and I admitted that I am in a trough vis a vis fiction. But, I said, I’ve been doing this thing on my blog that I’d love to, to do something with. Then I started spieling to her about how for the last year I’ve been developing these different themes that have a certain coherence: the career of the sage in the West, and the expulsion of the sage as one of the founding gestures of modernity; the construction of Happiness Triumphant, as happiness became not merely a mood or a feeling, but the keystone of all moods and feeling; the dialectical career of volupte, originally a liberating opening to pleasure, under the sign of Epicurus, rediscovered by the libertines, but soon adopted by the bourgeoisie as part of

our blue planet - one of the galaxy's premier outhouses!

I am reviewing the book, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. The book is about the world as it would be if humans disappeared about now – perhaps prey to some human created virus, or swept up in the Rapture. It is an impressive reminder that when the U.S. sent up that satellite in the seventies, the one with the famous drawing of a heroic human figure by Leonardo Da Vinci and various emblematic signs indicative of our human kind, we forgot the sign for endless shit. What is that sign, anyway? It should be in the zodiac. Some star cluster spelling out turd. Humans are characterized, more than anything else, by their tremendous ability to create garbage. No other creature has ever created garbage on the human scale. We each use more energy than a blue whale, and we each turn it into more waste than a blue whale weighs. Take plastic. Since its invention, about fifty years ago, it is all still here. “EXCEPT FOR A SMALL AMOUNT that’s been incinerated,” says Tony Andrady the oracle

Intrepid pedicons unite!

“Who does not know', Forberg exclaimed at one point, 'that the Greeks and Romans were intrepid pedicons and determined cinaedes?” – Whitney Davis, “Homoerotic Art Collection from 1750 to 1920”, Art History 2001. Who indeed? Davis’ interesting article outlines the gay millionaire boho culture of the late nineteenth century and the early 20th, which was centered at Capri in particular, where Jacques d'Adelswaerd Fersen, the son of a Swedish, I believe, millionaire established a famous pleasure palace and enlivened its grounds with faux classical sculptures of his boyfriends, dancing and generally rippling muscularity for all to see. This was the world of Gide, Symonds, Wilde, and Norman Douglas. This culture looked back on a surreptitious tradition going back to LI’s man, d’Hancarville: “The classical philologist Paul Brandt (1875-1929) was the 'Hans Licht' of a widely read three-volume social history of Greece, emphasizing her sexual practices and erotic art. In i

in the era of the crab louse

At one point in the 90s, I was working in a closet in a building on the Yale campus that looked, for all the world, like a pile of giant dog turds ascending fourteen stories. A Philip Johnson special. I have always despised Philip Johnson’s work, and sitting in that awful structure confirmed my view of the man. Anyway, I was working for a construction company that was doing interior reconstruction work on some of the laboratories. I was depressed, because it is hard to sit in a closet all day. Plus, it used to contain chemicals, this closet, so there were taped messages everywhere proclaiming sterile area. This struck me as a downer to my natural optimism. Besides, I wasn’t used to the North’s winters, which, to my horror, swoop down upon you and enclose you in a cloak of gloom starting in October and muffle you fucking up until March. To cheer myself up, I played my little tapes on a boom box. One in particular would drive my boss crazy. He was rarely in, but when he was in, he would

not the phallus again!

In a couple of earlier posts, LI was pursuing the track of Epicurus – not the real Epicurus but his double, his eidolon, who appeared in Europe in the 17th century in Gassendi’s work and soon became a background daemon in the libertine and materialist tradition. LI’s idea is that the intellectual history of happiness in the Early modern period has been traced too grossly, with too little attention paid to nuances having to do with, for instance, the career of volupte as a go between concept that mediated the pleasures of the flesh and the science of the flesh. Well, we merely danced this maze lightly, and we broke off abruptly with La Mettrie’s anti-stoicism (and his paen to the orgasm). But we never actually give up a theme around here. Although it might seem to be farted around, ha! ha! unbeknownst to the innocent reader, we are making progress. As we said in our post on IT’s various posts on porno, theorizing pornography has often led to ignoring the history of pornography. Tha

another fine and supreme moment

A long time ago LI made a mistake. We had this brain flash: since the monks of old slept in their coffins, why not trade in our old bed, which trailed more bad luck than Jacob Marley trailed chains, for a small little like couch bed? We miscalculated. It turns out that LI is not a jelly fish. We have a distinct spine. Plus, we have about six feet of body, and the bed only had about 5’11” feet of space. This was hard on the foots. Well, so it went. Live and learn. Learn, for instance, the most intimate secrets of your vertrebrae. Well, a couple of weeks ago a woman we know decided that she was returning back to sunny California, and gave us her bed. We only had to pick it up today. Of course, the day turned out to be rainy, U-haul decided to play us in that way they have of promising a truck and not delivering, and the bed turned out to be humongous. But who the fuck cares? We finally assembled it in our little apartment, put on the new sheets, and lay down on something that offere