Skip to main content


Showing posts from October 7, 2007

Where is Happiness?

When Louis Sebastian Mercier issued his Moral Fictions in four volumes in 1792, he prefaced it with an explanation of moral fiction: When I entered into the deceiving career of letters, a little more than twenty five years ago, all the new authors, my confreres, made heroides, or composed moral stories; the heroid served as a the young poet’s preliminary study for tragedies. But this rhymed monologue did not have a long vogue; the narrow frame appeared too fussy, and soon became insipid. However, the moral story maintained itself for a longer period – or, to change my terms, from the form to the character, it is still pleasing, and will always please in its variety, when to the painting of the motile nuances of our ridiculous traits it joins the durable colors and gentle precepts of a moral without pendantry. Besides, the moral story has enriched the French scene with a crowd of interesting and novel situations. A number of authors, entirely lacking in invention, have borrowed from it


LI reads the papers. Everybody reads the papers. So the papers say retail sales are sluggish. They say that retailers have predicted lower sales for fall. And they say, the stock market went up again. They say the stock market went up because of the news about retail sales. Out of the bad news, the market honed in on a report from Walmart predicting better sales this fall. And that was enough to send the market up 65 points. American capitalism is infinitely interesting – not as interesting as the way of a man with a maid, but as interesting as the mating dance of the great horned grebe. In the last fifteen years, the economy has done something that it isn’t supposed to do, according to past history. In the past, the business cycle has given us numerous examples of bubbles that blew up at a certain point. After the bust, there was always an overreaction and a downturn. After the collapse of the market in 1929, for example, there was a tremendous collapse of consumer spending in 1930. T

excuses (drama queenery)

This seems to be my season for sickness. The last couple of days I have gotten appallingly better acquainted with parts of my biological functioning about which I much prefer to remain in blessed ignorance. Oh well, as my friend Dave likes to say, what doesn’t kill you gives you a good excuse to drink. I do have a theory that last night I was briefly possessed by the devil. Now I know what those poor Loudun possedées were going through. Supposedly the prioress, submitting to her first exorcism, not only did the standard foaming and screeching, but broke two of her back teeth. Well, I’ll never laugh at bootheeled Jack again! So, all notion of writing about Calasso, Reich, and Bela Tarr’s The Outsider has been driven out of my head. Sorry.

Reich, Calasso, and Bela Tarr

LI is truly a sad sack. As we try to find time, in the interstices between our poorly rewarded tasks, for writing our happiness essay, we are discovering a depressingly vast literature that touches on so much we want to say. Not least among which is a gorgeous essay by Roberto Calasso, “The Repulsive Cult of Bonheur’, published in our favorite journal, Common Knowledge, in 2004. A few months ago, we commented on the movie W., Dusan Makavejev’s film about, among other things, sex-pol, Wilhelm Reich, and the state of orgasmic repression in 70s Yugoslavia. By coincidence, the film was also shown by Kino-Fist, a collective with which one of our favorite bloggers, Infinite Thought, is connected. After reading Calasso’s essay, we feel like revisiting some of those issues. … Calasso begins by quoting from one of Freud’s letters concerning Civilization and its Discontents. Freud, in the letter, talks about a strange serenity – or indifference – that has settled upon him in old age. He is no

celebrity news

Pamela Anderson Weds Rick Salomon On her blog, Anderson called Salomon a friend of 15 years. And they do have at least one scandalous tie – both have appeared in sex tapes: Salomon with Paris Hilton, and Anderson with Lee. Last month, Anderson, appearing on Ellen DeGeneres's show, revealed that she was dating a new mystery man. "I paid off a poker debt with sexual favors, and I fell in love," Anderson told DeGeneres of her new guy. "It's so romantic. It's romance." And Salomon gets a thumbs-up from at least one guy in Anderson's life: magician Klok, who told PEOPLE recently, "I like Rick. He's a really nice guy. As long as he's not making another video, I'm ok with him." Well, in other news, LI got married and then divorced from Pamela Anderson. We were going to get married to Britney Spears after appearing in a sex video with her poodle, Towser, and a troupe of unicyclists, but there was a mix up at the Chapel, which – oops – w

part one of: silence, word, act

As promised, the first part of Karl Kraus' Silence, Word and Act. Hey, for you who think translating Kraus is one of life's ho hum tasks, you try it. Oh, and a word about word. Kraus uses the simple little noun to mean something more than that description of each one of the bits in this sentence. There is a sense of one's own word, one's own breathing in the bits of the sentence, that odd, unownable what you sound like. Bakhtine, if I can trust the translations, used Word to mean something similar. "This is how silence and breaking silence are related. It is, as with so much that the conscience undergoes, not a contradiction. Because the silence was not reverent awe before an act behind which the word, in so far as it really is one, never retreats. It was simply concern: revulsion against the other word, against those, that the act accompanied, caused them, followed them, against the great dungheap of words of the world, which cannot and ought not to be respecte