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Showing posts from July 22, 2007

cet envoûté éternel...

When we quoted Jacques Derrida in our post the other day about the media’s double audience, our far flung correspondent T. in NYC raised an eyebrow. Mr. T. likes the idea of this blog never mentioning Derrida in the same way that Georges Perec never uses the letter ‘e’ in La Disparition. The referential absence eventually calls attention to itself by the force of its tremendous silence. And we understand Mr. T.’s point. Actually, we got the same idea from Derrida himself. Somewhere, perhaps in the lectures on Ponge, perhaps in an interview, Derrida claims that one of his essays on Hegel is really all about Ponge. If memory serves. Now, the cool thing about that claim is that Ponge is not mentioned in the essay. Of course, this is the kind of gesture that drives Derrida’s enemies just up the wall. And there is something obviously facile in saying, oh, I wrote x and I was thinking of y. To make the claim non-facile, you have to work with obsessions and themes that would make it meaningf

questions about happiness

I thought my friend Alan at Milanda’s questions was going to continue biting holes into my social psychological arguments about happiness, but since he has stopped – he has other fish to fry – and because he raises some interesting questions, I think I’d like to take up a particular theme in his objections, which is that I am using a non-standard, or at least a non-Aristolean, notion of happiness. As I wrote in the last post about the imago of the dominatrix, switch in hand, who cut such a path through 19th century porn, written so often by men who, as little boys, suffered blissful spankings at public schools and felt bereft thereafter – the certain energy goes out of the theme of volupté as the early modern period comes to an end, and happiness, or the pursuit of happiness, triumphs in the official world – the world to which all justifications must refer. To remind y’all – and hey, I’m sorry about being so repetitive, but I can’t really expect my readers to remember all this shit –

a letter does not always arrive at its destination...

The NYT has a long overdue article about the Saudi support for the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. Of course, it softpeddles the extent of Saudi activity, and relies exclusively on U.S. government officials as sources instead of, oh, you know, investigating the pretty easy to investigate money trail. But one expects no less. The thing that caught LI’s eye was not so much the content of this story as an oddly boastful passage making it clear that the reporters see themselves as a sort of signaling instrument for the Bush administration: “The accounts of American concerns came from interviews with several senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they believed that openly criticizing Saudi Arabia would further alienate the Saudi royal family at a time when the United States is still trying to enlist Saudi support for Mr. Maliki and the Iraqi government, and for other American foreign policy goals in the Middle East, including an Arab-Israeli peace plan.

another fine detour on the path to volupté

LI’s search for the embourgeoisification of volupté – its routinization and removal from the line of radical materialist thinking associated with Epicurus in the seventeenth and eighteenth century – has turned into a continual stumbling upon fortuitous themes in the history of pornography. Such is the life of bloggery. In trying to find some interesting 18th century erotica that we could use here – and also, we always like interesting 18th century erotica – we stumbled on the Eros-Thanatos site ,which has a few rare texts, including a whole book by Hughes Rebell, that weirdo among weirdos in the porno universe, as well as the dada writer Renee Dunan, a woman of who operated between naturism and surrealism and apparently produced a ton of pamphlets of the kind just adored by the police – there is nothing like seizing artistic studies of nudes. In fact, police and criminologists get so carried away by the idea that one of them, the eminent early 20th century professor, Ludwig Kemmer, ac

big and small

Our Mercury, therefore, is the same which contains in itself all the perfections, force and virtues of the Sun, which also runs though all the streets and houses of all the planets, and in its own rebirth has acquired the force of things above and things below; to the marriage of which it is to be compared, as is clear from the whiteness and the redness combined in it. – Paracelsus And the world being spontaneously produced and being also self-adherent, is allied to matter; which, according to a secret signification, is denominated a stone and a rock, on account of its sluggish and repercussive nature with respect to form: the ancients, at the same time, asserting that matter is infinite through its privation of form. Since, however, it is continually flowing, and is of itself destitute of the supervening investments of form, through which it participates of morphe, and becomes visible, the flowing waters, darkness, or, as the poet says, obscurity of the cavern, were considered by th

Mr. Death, please don't take Bat Boy!

Fuck! There goes my last hope for American journalism It came out of nowhere. People worry about Murdoch taking over the WSJ when a much more prestigous paper was, unbeknownst to us all, threatened by catastrophe. Only the true insiders could draw on stories like this one, by top flight journalist Chuck Lee: "After opening a popular Chinese restaurant in Manhattan, Chuck Lee discovered that eating large amounts of hot mustard enabled him to foretell the future. Chuck has consented to share his remarkable predictions in a weekly column. 2008 BUCHAREST, Romania — Vampires realize that the blood of tuna fish suits their macabre nutritional requirements as effectively as human blood. The undead begin lurking near the shores of the Black Sea, sucking fish dry and discreetly throwing their bodies into the water. 2009 BUCHAREST, Romania — An unexpected side effect of the new vampiric diet occurs when the discarded fish themselves return to life as vampires. The fishing industry co

islamo-penguinism

Johann Hari, having retracted his old support for invading Iraq, gained some absolution from LI. But his recent review of Nick Cohen’s lachrymose new book , I was a Red Diaper Baby and I poop in Your Face… uh, oh, wait a minute, that’s not the title, let me google it, it is "On the Pleasure of Sticking My Thumb Up My Ass", sorry about the mixup – he gives a fourfold analysis of the pro-war Left view, circa 2002-2003 that makes the old anti-warrior in LI want to cry. The very first pillar, which Hari still evidently believes, is the idea that Islamism is fascist. Fuck. Again, the only proof presented for this is a slender book by Paul Berman. Here’s Hari’s account: “Islamism. The pro-war left argued that Islamism (as opposed to Islam) is a variant on an old enemy of the left - fascism. Paul Berman, in his book 'Terror and Liberalism', carefully teased out the intellectual origins of Islamic fundamentalism, looking primarily as Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual godfather

girls who want boys who dig girls like they're boys...

In his book “Sex collectors: The Secret World of Consumers, Connoisseurs, Curators, Creators, Dealers, Bibliographers and Compilers of Erotica”, Geoff Nicholson makes a very sensible remark about that monument to Victorian encyclopedism, My Secret Life: that in some ways, the most entertaining part of that eleven volume chronicle of fucking is the index: You might, for instance, look up Spending and find the following citations: my first in voluntary on writing paper on a silk dress on silk stockings against a looking glass against a door in a woman’s hand copiously baudy ejaculations when is the most ecstatic moment of life happiness of dying whilst And so on.… LI, last week, proposed that the pre-history of the money shot in visual and written pornography hasn’t, really, been written, even as IT has been busy finding traces of its invisible ink in pornography of the twenties and thirties, the evanescent signature of the ill paid Stakhanovite dick, moonlighting the extra night,

ah, private enterprise, how sweet the sound

And the state… was on the other side We can beat them… for ever and ever – David Bowie Not – LI As we have tried to make abundantly abundantly clear on this blog, we consider the terms in which politics is ‘seriously’ discussed in the U.S. to be laughable. We especially find laughable that there is some primal difference between public entities like the South Dakota Department of Education and private entities like Exxon. There is not now, there has not been, and there never will be a primal difference of that kind. To consider how that clown show called libertarianism bases itself on this fallacious fault line makes the observer of the American scene almost despair. Just as cultures have their special cuisines, they have their special stupidities. This is the Ur American one. You can talk until you are blue in the face, but the next thing you know, someone will be dreaming of how we can all set up a magic kingdom in which the state is shrunk like a pair of panties gone through the ho