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Showing posts from February 24, 2008

LI is financially chic!

Reading that Sprint is writing off 23 billion dollars, we here at LI got a little jealous. It seems that every organization worth its salt, nowadays, has to write off a few billion dollars. Even the girls selling girl scout cookies at a foldout table near the Randalls up the street have a sign claiming that for each box sold, they will write off a million dollars. Where, readers will want to know, does LI stand on all of this? As the finest and chicest of blogs, we have been a little dumbfounded by the pace of the write offs. Still, I think we can come up with 500 million dollars worth of write offs for starters. For instance, the 100 million for the coffee machines. The office coffee machine broke a week ago, and the office assistant went to get a new one. The office manager meant to write a check for one hundred dollars, but slipped up and added the million. So of course we now have five warehouses stuffed full of coffee machines, plus tons of non-dairy creamer. We are, of course, wr

in the golden egg (2)

All eggs – Prajapati’s, Humpty Dumpty’s – crack. Far from being the kind of thing all the king’s horses and all the king’s men should deplore, cracking is the perfection of the egg, its designed endpoint. The milkfed days of Philip Lord Chandos were, apparently – or so his account would make us believe – appointed to lead him from glorious estate to glorious estate as he became a grandee of great learning. And thus he’d put one foot and then the other out of the egg. But it is a fact that some eggs fail. And it is a fact that promising minds are easily culled and spoiled, that entrance into real life is entrance into a bureaucratic labyrinth in which the many branches are all equally tedious, that energy is delight only as long as the divide between promise and attainment seems eminently surmountable. Hands, necks, cheeks wither. The great work, the grand instauration, the New Atlantis becomes a great mill, to which one finds oneself chained, one day, much like any other slave. Or… per

in the golden egg (1)

Hugo Hofmannsthal published The Letter (which is almost always translated into English as The Letter from Lord Chandos) in 1903. In turn of the century Vienna, Hofmannsthal, as a young lyric poet, had become the object of a more numerous and public cult than the one (more famous now) surrounding Stefan Georg. And, unlike Georg or Rilke, he was politically and religiously orthodox – a good Catholic, a supporter of the Habsburg order. Herman Broch, in his essay on Hofmannsthal, says that “on the triad of life, dream and death rests the symphonic structure of Hofmannsthal’s complete opus” – which should remind us of Klimt, and the whole Jugendstyl aesthetic of fin de siecle Vienna. It is a mistake to assume that these aesthetes, with their intense interest in hedonism, were somehow opposed to the sexual ‘repression’ of bourgeois Habsburg society, since, in fact, the latter never operated as a machine for repression. And so it was with Hofmannsthal – as his enemy Kraus liked to observe, he

Buckley, r.i.p

The only American conservative I have any regard for just died – William Buckley. It is a long regard, going back to my teen years. Not that Buckley has been a force on the right since the eighties. He was as alien to the Bush right as he was to the liberalism of the Great Society era. The right's utter intellectual collapse must have pained him - he always believed that the alliance between rich drones and highly stupid people was redeemed by tone. He had wit and literacy. You can search high and low for that in the National Review of the past decade, but you'll search in vain. The last controversial utterance from the old man was that Iraq was a big fuck up, which was greeted with the embarrassed silence the heirs reserve for the batty grandpa, peeing in his recliner. And so is extinguished the last dying claim of conservatism to truth, beauty or logic. I'm not sure if I should quote Yeats, at this point - or Pope's the Dunciad.

scribble scribble scribble, mr. gathman

It might still not seem clear why LI’s relentless pursuit of the triumph of happiness should have lead us to talk about social animals. As our friend Alan said a couple of weeks ago, our posts about happiness fail to represent any principle of order. We leap around like the jester Dauphin in Huckleberry Finn, stripes painted across our ass, now going here, now there. Now, primo, partly the problem is due to the flightiness of LI’s mind. Partly it is due to the fact that we are doing this as an historien du Dimanche. No license or position outside the text assuages the readers doubts about the catholicity of our choice of topics. In essence, LI is claiming that there is a topical hole, here, however much the successors of Lucien Febvre have claimed to make the sensibilities the object of historical study. And so we beat about in that hole, looking for themes. Segundo, topics are generated by actual enchainments within social facts. It is, for instance, a social fact that the early

And this bird you'll never chaaaaiiiinnnnnn!

What can one say about Alabama? LI spent his molting years in an Atlanta suburb, learning to appreciate poetry, masturbation, and a correctly set up tennis serve – the usual adolescence. The old man worked, for a while, as a consultant on big HVAC jobs throughout the Southeast, so he was often posted to Birmingham. I have a vague memory of going with him to the town, which, back then, was a ironman’s heaven, a coaldust place, with a big statue of Vulcan on one of the many city hills. It was Orc city back then. Georgians consider ourselves at least semi-civilized, and sniff a great deal at the whole idea of Bama. That’s where the wild west really begins – sullen cotton farmers settling sinister black rivers. Of course, that isn’t true – Alabama isn’t the analphabetic, rickets plagued place of my childhood mythology. For instance, there’s Tuskegee University, which was a steady light in the Dixie darkness for decades. Mencken wasn’t kidding when he claimed that the South of his time – 19


This is the account in the Florentine Chronicle “In that time the Count Ugolino being lord of Pisa, for the bad treatment that he used towards them, the people rose up in anger, coming with force and great uproar to the Archbishop Ruggiero Ubaldini, crying out: “Death! Death!” They took him and threw him in prison with two of his sons and two grandchildren, making them die of hunger in prison…Then Guido, Count of Montefeltro, commanded that Count Ugolino and his sons and two grandchildren never more be given food to eat, and thus they died wretchedly of hunger all five. These were the Count Ugolino and Uguccione, Brigata, Anselmuccio and Guelfo, and it was found that the one had eaten the flesh of the other, and finally the last rites were denied to them and all five in one morning were dragged dead from prison. This Count Ugolino was a man of such cruelty that he made the people of Pisa die of famine while at the same time having great abundance of grain, to such an extent that it c