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Showing posts from July 13, 2008

homo sominex

One of those facts that makes the drinking man doubt the observant side of the human animal is the strange lag in the discovery that every healthy male sports an erection about every 90 minutes during the sleep cycle. And for y’all ladies out there, well, the vagina goes through a 90 minute cycle as well, tied to REM sleep, of dilation and moistening. Put your hands in the air like you just don’t care! While there are cave paintings of sleeping men with erections and there’s an Egyptian tomb painting of the same fascinating subject, science with a capital S only stumbled onto it in 1944, when it was reported by German doctors. This is all according to Paul Martin’s book on Sleep. That scientists were so late to the game is depressing news – where were the giants of Natural Philosophy back in the 17th century? Martin, hating Freud, hastens to say that the erections and vaginal dilation aren’t sexual in nature. He also says he’d like to buy a bridge in Brooklyn, if any of his readers hap

what hell, what terror!

In our archives, somewhere, are buried the remains of a large essay we were planning on writing about John Law once upon a time. My, how a decade flies when you are having fun! Antoine Murphy (a wonderfully Beckett sounding name) is your man for all things Law-ful. In his book on Law, he grasps the very central point of what Law called the systéme. Law had seen that the national economies of his day were held back by specie money. Specie money, like gold or silver coin, is, as it were, a self-valueing asset. Its weight and metallic content are, ideally, equal to the value on its face. Thus, the man who carries a gold coin carries a coin literally worth its weight in gold. When a kingdom needed to debase its money, it did so by stinting on the weight and composition of its coinage. Swift’s wrath against the brummagen coinage issued by William Wood, under license from the crown, and with the blessing of the assayer of the mint, Isaac Newton, was directed at the drain of real value that

virtuous gamblers, virtuous atheists

The case is plain, you must put on a Sword, Kill a Beau or two, get into Newgate, be condemned to be hanged, break Prison, IF YOU CAN – remember that by the way – get over to some Strange Country, turn Stock-Jobber, set up a Mississippi Stock, bubble a Nation, and you may soon be a great man; if you would have but great good luck, according to an old English Maxim: Dare once to be a Rogue upon record And you may quickly hope to be a Lord. [Defoe 1869, 189 in: Daniel Defoe his Life and recently discovered writings, I] “ that may be, I have not read anywhere, since the fable of King Midas, still less seen, that anyone has the talent for converting to gold all that he touches; I don’t believe, as well, that M. Law is endowed with this virtue, but I think all his knowledge is but a shrewd game, a new and skillful move in the shell game, which puts the goods of Pierr in the pocket of Jean, and only enriches the one from despoiling the other; that sooner or later this will stop, the

the society of atheists

In terms of science, the comets of 1680 was perhaps the most important ever to appear in the skies. The orbit of it was illustrated in Newton’s Principia of 1687. It was made the object of extensive observation by Royal Society astronomers, like Halley. And it gave rise to various and sundry reports of supernatural phenomena, from hens laying comet shaped eggs to rumors that the world was ending. Sara Schechner’s description of the comets (from Comets, Popular Culture, and the Birth of Modern Cosmology) is still impressively scary: “In early November of 1680, a comet appeared before sunrise and was sighted heading toward the sun until the end of the month. In mid-December, another comet appeared in the evening sky, heading away from the sun. Its tail was immense, growing to be over seventy degrees long.” In Mexico city, there were rumors about the resurrection of the dead and processions. Sigüenza y Góngora, the great Mexican humanist and official Cosmographer to New Spain, wrote a bo

nostalgia to karma - scattered notes

Nostalgia, that longing for a past that longing has created, is a trap that is hidden in the path of that philosophical critic – like LI – upon whom the contemporary lies like a nightmare on the brain of the living. A revenant, in fact. For such a critic, this nightmarish condition is recognized, justly, as the result of multiple framing conditions constructed over the course of the past. The contemporary is a synthesis, and it is the critic’s job to dissolve it into it composite parts, each the result of decision after decision, systematic shifts in production and attitude, a social psychology that represses its lost opportunities, and even individuals, singularities, karma. And once the critic has done his job, he thinks he’s found the key, the story, the narrative. But, in fact, he’s still entangled in the synthesis he has supposedly dissolve, he’s still unconsciously seeing the contemporary as the destination to which the past tends. Which is how it becomes easy to slip into the