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Showing posts from March 17, 2013

Nostromo I

I have attempted and failed to penetrate past the first chapters of Nostromo at least four times. The scene painting was too suffocating, and Nostromo himself seemed to be an operatic puppet way too empty to thrust a crowded, long narrative upon. Recently, however, as I am writing fiction again, I resolved to   past the coastline of the novel, knowing that it is one of the rare English English novels of the twentieth century that has actually effected writers in other literatures (Gadda, Garcia Marquez, etc.). The English English novel – as compared to the Irish and American English novel – lacks the cosmopolitan air, the epic sloppiness, as it busied itself tucking in corners and marking the chasms opened up by the minute violation of the decorum based on class distinctions. This, at least, is the reputation – which isn’t quite fair, but does represent a distinct trend. Going back to Henry Green or Elizabeth Bowen, one sees how those chasms, explored with a high intelligence, inter

George Packer discovers, again, how nice he is and all...

George Packer, who was, alas, the New Yorker’s point man on Iraq during the occupation, wrote a piece in 2004 that is worth revisiting in order to plumb the depth of delusion and narcissism that characterizes our pundit class.   In it, he had this to say:  “ The Iraq war, from its inception in Washington think tanks to its botched execution on the ground, has always been a war of ideas—some of them very bad ones. There’s the idea of preëmptive war, America’s divine right of intervention; the idea of tyrannies falling like dominoes in a strategically realigned Middle East; the idea that American power is worse than the worst dictatorship. Facts have reduced most of these to rubble—notably, the argument that this was a war of urgent national security (although facts can be less stubborn than officials in the grip of ideological truth). Only two serious, and competing, versions of the Iraq war’s meaning are left standing: one, that this is a war against tyranny and for democracy

10 years after our excellent adventure in Iraq!

Ah, the tenth anniversary of our brave, brave, brave liberation of Iraq! There's a private monument to that in my own little monkey heart - I think it marked the beginning of my awareness of just how lost I was in an American culture I no l onger recognized at all. Of course, it also marked a symbolic change under which the U.S. still blunders. The age of Bush continues, unabated in the minor epoch of the supposedly 'liberal' O., he of the grand bargain, the dispenser of unparelleld welfare to Wall Street and unparalleled non-prosecution by his justice department of any and all bank enacted frauds, the dronemaster whose Defense department, by all accounts, worked as hard as it could to retain troops in Iraq - just like we all used to accuse Bush of planning. This recent story in the NYT about sums up the age of the souring of the American promise: The NYT title is bland o