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Showing posts from February 17, 2008

I'm alive, he cried

I think it must be: starve a fever. At least, that is the course I’ve taken in the last few days. LI has been down with the flu. We’ve been living in a world of biomorphic distortions and inexplicable lapses of time, much like the narrator of Le Très-Haut. We’ve crammed ourselves with Tylonals, sudafeds, and cough suppressants – the latter of which still does not bar the dog from our door. The dog that is making that godawful din, growling, whining and barking, which shoots out of our mouth and rattle our bones. Possessed by a demon dog and condemned to walk the reaches of the night. Yesterday we had to finish a review. It couldn’t be put off any longer. Such agony! Usually reviewing a novel combines putting together a flow sheet with a few remarks from our distinguished panel of judges. But instead of bright and spritely flow, every sentence we wrote seemed a peculiar and malicious bog, in which we would sink up to our chin. And then, by mainforce, we’d go forward by another sentence

the oligarchy

For those among you who love (as much as LI loves!) xrays of the oligarchy, I strongly advise John Cassidy’s article in the March Portfolio . ---Your freedom is garbage! ---It is the freedom of the majority!

the mathematical theory of the struggle for life

"If sharks were people,” the small daughter of his landlady asked Mr. K., would they then be nicer to the small fish?” – Brecht, Wenn die Haifische Menschen wären Continuing LI’s notes on the predator/prey relationship – we discovered, through one of Machery’s essays, that a famous essay by Volterra had caught Raymond Queneau’s eye, and was mentioned in his 1943 essay, The place of mathematics in the classification of the sciences, which begins like this: “In its relations with mathemtics, every science passes through the following four phases (four as of now, perhaps five tomorrow)” – which elegantly combines the academic and the Groucho Marxian. Queneau briefly surveys the sciences, claims that physics has gone through three of his stages, already, and then writes: “This is the ideal stage for the scientists of the late nineteenth century. The other sciences reamin far behind in this regard. Only very limited subjects are treated by this method: in biology, the theory of the fig

The Plan 9 from outer space Party

Yesterday, I figured it out. I’ve been wondering if the GOP was serious. They are actually going to nominate this guy? For a number of years, LI has used the term zombie to denote those who support George Bush. It seemed like a pertinent insult – after all, these were people who have confused a war with a tailgate party. Their sense of unearned entitlement is only equaled by their contempt for liberty. Their lumbering walk through many a comments thread gave meaning to the term, 'self-administered lobotomy'. But I had thought that the Republican party honchos had a certain amount of control. They would feed the doggies what they damned well pleased. But – in a final coup de theâtre of massive incompetence – Bush’s toxicity has apparently affected the party itself. John McCain is such a lemon that no amount of media fluffing will get beyond the fact that he seems to be doing standup on the Ed Sullivan show of yore. He is very very of yore. Which is why I have decided that this t

social animal 2

“Submitting to the influence of the considerable scientific progress of the second half of the nineteenth century – Bertillon’s anthropometric measurements, the discovery of fingerprints for the utilization of the police by Galton – the detective novel substituted proof by indexes for proof by witness.” - Dominique Viart, The imaginary of signs at the dawn of the twentieth century. Viart’s essay on signs is an attempt, in a brief space, to come to terms with Eco’s claim that the sign existed, basically, as a secondary or minor vehicle for other major conceptual themes (of language, of reason, of logic) up until the beginning of the 20th century. Viart references the success of a new kind of detective novel that traced signs into the past – back to the primary scene of some crime. There is, of course, no better testimony to the moment in which the eyewitness becomes subordinate to the trace than M, Franz Lang’s film. Of course, the trace and the eyewitness, in correspondence to the law

The Bob-fest

LI has been so pressed this week that our ambition – to advance a little along the line of the theme of the social animal – has been totally fucked. Fortunately, we’ve spent the last two days attending lectures at the Bob-fest – the conference commemorating Robert Solomon . The academic custom of reading papers at conferences, as anybody knows who has actually gone to a conference and had papers read to him or her, is not exactly the most exciting activity in the world. It ranks somewhere around TV coverage of the Tour de France – long stretches of time go by without anything seeming to happen, and then everybody gets briefly excited, and then ennui stretches out again. This conference was a bit more personal, a bit more eccentric, and instead of the standard way of asking questions, those with questions and comments would go down, at the end of the panel, to the panel table and sit around and speak. I did not hear all sessions, but of the four I heard, the highlight was surely the pap