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Showing posts from November 18, 2007

For taxonomy

(from James Leon's series, Psychopathia Sexualis ) IT has recently been writing about Sade and Pornography and taxonomy – which of course brings out my inner fetishist. I get all drooly about… taxonomy. “One of the best things about early 20th-century erotic photograph is its lack of taxonomy. Contemporary pornography has more categories than there are dirty thoughts in the world, and yet it fails in one crucial respect - it can no longer surprise. You can be into women who look like cats who specialise in shaving biscuits whilst bouncing up and down on trampolines, and there'd probably be a website that could cater to your needs, but once you've seen a couple of cat-women shaving biscuits whilst bouncing on trampolines surely you've seen them all. The excessive taxonomical drive of contemporary pornography is merely one element of its quest to bore us all to death and remind us that everything is merely a form of work, including, or even most especially, pleasure.”

no assets no income no job - Look ma, I'm a ninja!

Kimmy Simon, left, and her friend, Tate Madden, try to keep warm under a blanket early this morning before the opening of a Best Buy store in Cincinnati, Ohio. - NYT Since this is the first day of real real shopping, LI wants to get inject just the right amount of grinch into the jollity of the day. But how [he said, tapping his long green fingers with the long green nails] can I make those awful Whos suffer? Business week has a story about the projected shrinkage of consumer spending . It’s an astonishing beast, that American consumer. There has been only one down quarter since 1981: “It's been a glorious run for the consumer. In the past 25 years, Americans have kept shopping through good times and bad. In every quarter except one since 1981, consumer spending rose over the previous year, adjusted for inflation. The exception was the first quarter of 1991, and even then the decrease was a mild 0.4% dip.” The projection of a cutback in spending is based on the projection that

Happy dargle

I was searching for a thanksgiving music vid and our far flung correspondent in NYC, Mr. T., suggested the Pogues Waxie Dargle. And fuck me if it isn’t the very thing! Happy thanksgiving readers, patient, patient readers, my web pals! Remember to drink some water before you go to bed, dilute the pints circulating in all your brain wrinkles.

tolstoy again

(Killing of King Umberto, from the Sparticus site ) Both anatomy and belles-lettres are of equally noble descent; they have identical goals and an identical enemy—the devil… - Anton Chekhov On Sunday, June 29th, 1900, King Umberto of Italy in Monza, a little town near Milan where he had a residence, attended mass, then – in the afternoon – distributed prizes at a local sporting event. He awarded the gold medal, got into his carriage, and was then shot four times by Gaetano Bresci, who had come from America precisely to do that. Umberto died almost immediately . Bresci belonged to a small anarchist grou in Patterson, New Jersey, who had sworn to avenge the Milan massacre of 1898, when one hundred striking workers were killed in the streets by the police. Tolstoy wrote an article about King “Humbert’s” murder, Thou shalt not kill (which is up in the same form on various web sites, with the same typos. I'm a little irritated that the typos haven't been corrected at, for instance,

tolstoy and me: a romance

Unfortunately, he is not so wrong, that king of Dahomy, in the interior of Africa, who said not long ago to an Englishman: God made this world for war: all the kingdoms, great and small, have practiced it at all time, although on different principles. – Joseph de Maistre. Though I have long ago rid myself of an intellectual belief in a personal God (retaining a superstitious belief which it is beyond my power to annihilate, and that follows me like the black dog followed Faust), I have never let go of the old and new testaments – as is obvious from every sentence I write. The King James version leers out at you, like the gargoyles above the lintel of some decayed old manse, with the fug of mold and pee all around it. The prophets between them serve as the best school of politics I know – in particular, the denunciation of elite corruption, seen in the round – seen as the sum of a seemingly disparate set of episodes and habits. The new testament is an altogether iffier thing, and I

the winner of the noose award is...

There has lately been a heated contest, among America’s most beloved pundits, for the coveted Strom Thurmond Cup for the Advancement of Racism. Andrew Sullivan, defending his sterling role in the Bell Curve controversy, was of course everybody’s favorite. It was a perfect racist double cross – Sullivan both advocated an obviously racist thesis about the inferiority of blacks and pretended that he was only making a space for an interesting scientific exploration. Sort of like Mission: fear of the Black Planet . Now, the way racism in the white establishment has to travel is through such second hand disguises. You can’t bring out the tar and nooses, like in the old days, although you can indignantly rebut the very idea of rednecks hanging nooses on trees as having anything to do with racism – it has to do with high spirited references to, uh, Westerns. Such was the state of play until a dark horse, Slate’s own William Saletan , donned the sheets and went for straightforward racism of

the disappearance of osama bin laden and the my pet goat presidency

The time seems ripe for going over the way in which the Bush administration deliberately let Obama bin Laden escape from Afghanistan to manipulate an unnecessary and disastrous global war on terror. We’ve done this before, of course. But since we are now in the passenger seat, watching the consequences rush forward through the driver’s window – and since the usual shitheads, the O’Hanlon-Kagan crowd, are suggesting their usual shithead policy to deal with it (send U.S. soldiers that are apparently created by magic to occupy a Pakistan that is just aching and shaking to have its nukes taken away by a loving ally) – it is always a fun and fitting thing to marshal the facts and inferences. Where at one time malign, fucked up behavior on the part of the Bush administration might have seemed implausible, after seven incredible years of devious behaviors, second and third rate thinking, and a consistently juvenile policy of thoughtless aggression, wrapped in an impenetrable aura of entitlem

How to be a left conservative in one easy lesson

In Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Man, she makes the following shrewd hit at Burke: There appears to be such a mixture of real sensibility and fondly cherished romance in your composition that the present crisis carries you out of yourself; and since you could not be one of the grand movers, the next best thing that dazzled your imagination was to be a conspicuous opposer. Wollstonecraft was echoing the suspicion that dogged Burke throughout his career – that he was an Irishman who valued cleverness over sound thinking, celebrity over sense. One of Wollstonecraft’s polemical moves is to crucify Burke’s Reflections on his early essay on the Sublime – an essay that moves from paradox to paradox. Her strategy makes for a few strange paradoxes itself, since basically she portrays Burke as a fashionable sentimentalist – a man of a certain kind of womanly cast – while she herself represents manly reason. The Burkean paradox in the essay on the sublime out of which his

advertisement for myself

I don’t usually advertise my journalism stuff on this blog. But today I will. I started my new column on academic books in the Austin Statesman today. Check it out. The deal is that I will, as the spirit moves the editors at the paper, be doing these roundups of two university press books now and then. The column debuts with a close look at Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms (which, I must say, I deal with mighty handily – my five pages of objections to the book boiled down to a pretty succinct seven paragraph takedown) and James Simpson’s Burning to Read. In the future, I’m going to try to chose books for each column that are a little more related – although making these books rub elbows was fun. So tell your Ma, tell your Pa, and tell the person you know who works for a university press or who wants to publish some academic book. I think this column might be a first for a regular newspaper. And if it goes well, I’ll become the godfather of the academic publishing world. Those on m