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Showing posts from May 1, 2011

A people's park

I live near the aristocratic parks. If I bike South for ten minutes, I hit the Tuileries, and in fifteen minutes, more or less, I can hit Luxembourg. These parks are watched over by statues, or ponds at the center of which one finds a baroque fountain, and are herded by the orangeries or palais or hotels to which they once formed a unit. The way the parks should be experienced is evident in the ground plan, laid out by those architects, gardeners and urbanists – like Perrault at Versailles – who adapted the grounds to the royal perspective. But the point was not just to keep these gardens for the king. There’s a famous story about this: “When the gardens of the Tuileries were replanted by Lenostre, Colbert wanted to close them to the people, who for more than a century had become used to strolling there; he went to give orders to that affect, accompanied by Perrault, who said to him, as they were walking -You would never believe, monsieur, the respect that everyone, down to the petit

cherchez the lobster 3

It wasn't a rock Rock Lobster...! Fourier wrote of analogy as a calculus in Le nouveau monde industrial: “It is necessary to prelude this demonstration by some details of analogy. Our beautiful souls in making such pathos out of the great book of nature, its eloquent voice and beauties, don’t know how to explain a single line of that great book. For us, it is only a desolate enigma without the calculus of analogy that decomposes all the mysteries, and very pleasantly too, for it unveils all the hypocries and snatches off the civilized mask, It is with good reason that Bernardin de St Pierre names them frivolous and thespian virtues.“ The calculus of analogies, it turns out, is a mélange of folklore, etymology, and allegory – and yet it teases the brain that is aware it has been thrust, indeed, into the new industrial world, one in which we live among structures that seem to be built all independently, and yet continually form a pattern. A pattern of European cities that was decryp


Friday, July 28, 2006 Reprinting my blog posts the tora bora conspiracy "Osama bin Laden turned Blackwater into what it is today," Clark said. – Virginia Pilot, series on Blackwater, the mercenary company, July 24, 2006 In one of his weirder essays, “Secret Societies,” De Quincey claimed that at the age of seven (an important age for de Quincey – the age when his father died, and the age when he started dreaming vividly), he was introduced to the literature on secret societies – specifically, the dreaded Illuminati – by a thirty four year old woman. She loaned him Abbe Barruel’s Memoires pour servir a l’histoire du Jamcobinisme, a book that recounted the “dark associations” of a vast society organized to over throw Christianity. De Quincey was particularly – or perhaps morbidly – fascinated by Barruel’s use of a disease metaphor that has perennially clung to the conspiracy discourse “I had already Latin enough to know that cancer meant a crab; and that the disease so appallin

Neo-liberalism and the insanity of the economists

Marx may be ‘out of date’ for some folks, but it is only by absorbing Marx’s way of thinking that you can really enjoy the high comedy produced by mainstream economists in a dither. In today’s NYT, Robert Schiller uses the ‘fact’ that few predicted the housing bubble’s collapse to moan about how we need a clearer crystal ball. Well, prediction is pretty, but it is also cheap. What I'm interested in is the tactic of shifting the onus of the argument to the issue of prediction, for what this does is help us easily and comfortably misunderstand just how rational the housing bubble was. One of the commentors in Mark Thoma’s blog, Economist’s View, has linked to a August, 2002 column by Krugman which he thinks is discrediting because in it he discerned the advice that Bush should create a housing bubble. On the contrary, Krugman’s column is an excellent analysis of the state of play of the Bush economy in 2002. What Krugman saw is that Greenspan's excuse for blessing the Bush tax c