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Showing posts from October 4, 2009

some notes for saturday

It is a point that is not often enough stressed that one of Marx and Engels co-editors on their newspaper, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, was a man named Ernst Dronke whose major claim to fame was as a chronicler of low-life and Polizei Geschichte. Marx’s well known affection for Balzac, whose police stories were one of great unifying threads in the Comedie Humaine, was matched in his real life, the period of his greatest political activity, by his own involvement in decrying the police tactics and the laws concerning certain “little things” – such as the laws against gathering wood for fuel in private forests passed by the Rheinische Landstag, against which Marx pointed his lance as early as 1842. Without my expecting or planning it, it seems that the tree from the Chuangtze haunts the Human Limit. I’ve been pondering in my off hours the way in which commodities – say in dead wood in the underbrush – not only get up and lead a secret life in the world of Capital, but, in so doing,

I am become death

There is a beautiful passage in Logique du sens – a book that tugs at me as I think about intoxicants and the Mordspiel. And not only intoxicants – the little things that loom large for Schloezer move eerily between addiction and normality. In the biography of Thomas Beddoes, the radical doctor friend of Coleridge and Humphrey Davy, we read these thoughts from the great man, circa 1800: “The use of salt as a condiment to meagre diet as to potatoes only he condemns upon the authority of Dr Darwin as injurious. He considers it as having a great share in inducing glandular relaxation and tending to the production of scrophula. Could opium he enquires be used as a substitute in minute quantities? He hesitates in recommending it for fear of its leading to the adoption of bad habits. It is probable however, he adds, that some seasoning for poor food which did not increase the production of sensorial power and at the same time promote the expenditure of this power might be found. Between th