Skip to main content


Showing posts from July 31, 2011

why american liberalism has the attractiveness of a dripping faucet

The debt ceiling crisis was comedy relief of a high order. Afficianados of American Plutocracy slapstick appreciated the fact that as we were assured that "terrorists" were holding America, or at least Obama, 'hostage', the GAO released its audit of the Fed's very beautiful and efficient welfare system for the rich. It turns out that the Fed loaned out 16 trillion dollars at below 1 percent interest to anyone who owned a Rolls or a hedgefund, making life for the upper crust - squeezed as they were by the pesky recession - so, so much better. It is reported that Citicorps bosses were able, finally, to get dental work and dairy products - poor things were suffering on the street. They were also able to get homes in the Hamptons, yachts, Van Goghs and other perks that keep them mentally agile. We are so lucky. But I am most amused by the general liberal indignation that the Republican congressmen, elected on the pledge to radically cut federal spending, actually did

Explosion, revolution, the third life

Almost the entirety of Juri Lotman’s life was spent in the Soviet Union. As Nataliia S. Avtonomova has pointed out in an overview of the L. & W., this distinguished him from other of the great 20th century Russian critics: Bakhtine, Jakobson, and Skhlovsky. Like these critics, Lotman was what was once called, in Wilhelmine Germany, a ‘cultural philosopher” – which meant a freelance sociologist, historian, critic, and psychologist. Freud used the phrase ‘wild analysis” to speak of a certain use of psychoanalysis – and indeed, although attached to culture and the life of reading to an extraordinary extent, the cultural philosopher did operate in the institutional wilds. Nietzsche, Simmel, Spengler form a certain geneology in this respect. Certain novelists – Mann, Musil, Broch, Canetti – were also wild analysts. Of course, Lotman did have a university position and a recognized status, but his aim was broader than that of, say, enfolding semantics in a larger semiotics, Greimas’ pro