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Showing posts from March 2, 2014


It is an interesting affair – the affair one has with certain authors, those you read compulsively, and then can’t read. Can’t. Favorite authors. When I was a kid in high school, for instance, I read all the Kurt Vonnegut I could find in great satisfying gulps. God Bless you mr. Rosewater, Mother Night, Cat’s Cradle, Sirens of Titan, etc., etc. I thought that this was how to write. I imitated him. And then one day I couldn ‘t read him. This moment of turning away – what is it but a betrayal? As with a love affair, it is a moment of heavy psychodrama, with  a whole lot of projection going on. That projection is covered, at least in my case, by a critical language, which finds the fault in Vonnegut and the burden of betrayal is unconsciously shifted to him.  It is the author’s betrayal, not my own! He led me on. He took advantage of my teen naivete! And it isn’t even that the critical language is false, the negativity misplaced – but there is a fundamental bad faith behind it all.

a slogan for the new revolution

One of the most durable of the Western – or perhaps I should say Axial – metaphors associates waking with enlightenment, with spiritual vision, and sleeping with everydayness, with existential blindness – sleeping through life. Like  many of these Axial metaphors, in the capitalist world, there is a certain literalism that takes over and, while destroying the material basis for these metaphors, continues to use them as though our value system were unchanged. In this, it is like what has happened to youth. There are complicated demographic reasons that the material basis of youth (what it connoted, socially) started changing in the seventeenth century. Partly this was due to the end of the family house – in much of Western Europe, sons ceased to live in the family house when they got married, but started their own, a business that required capital that was usually unavailable  to an eighteen or twenty year old, thus opening up a period of suspense, of being neither in nor out of the