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Showing posts from March 23, 2014

american alchemy: how torture becomes just another naughty thing

I love American alchemy. As we all know, when the evil elements in rogue nations drown prisoners or drive them crazy through sleep deprivation and humiliation, those evil elements are engaged in torture. But lo, when the evil elements are t ransmorgified into glorious freedom fighting Americans, there is a corresponding glorious change, as per this NYT description today: "According to several people who have read the committee’s report, it concludes that the agency gained little valuable intelligence from its brutal questioning of Qaeda detainees..." Brutal questioning! This of course makes it seem like the CIA asked impolite questions, such as how much do you make a year, and, let me ask you frankly about your sexual relations with your wife. Brutal stuff there indeed. The of course the al qaeda people went off to their cells for the steak dinners.

games and reality

Adam is learning to eat by himself like a man – admittedly, more like a medieval man, when table manners were still not quite developed yet, and everybody pulled off pieces of the roast with their hand and dribbled gravy. Adam has figured out how to take the spoon that he has used to scoop up cheerios and yogurt and raise it in a stuttering arc to his mouth. Of course, the reason that the yogurt is there is to make the cheerios adhere to something and that something to the spoon, which makes the payload loss a lot lighter as the spoon approaches mouth. When he is finished eating, or when he is tired of eating – either because of the food, or because he is tired of being strapped in the high chair – he makes a royal gesture and throws the food off the table, sometimes in a grand sweep. This reminds me, oddly enough, of something I used to do when I was a kid. I must have been nine years old, in that area, and I had learned to play monopoly. I’d play with my sister, or sometimes Mom

bellow and sammler

“For his part, Max Horkheimer was careful to avoid any overt expressions of his political convictions, which might have jeopardized the support of his father or the trust of his professors. Horkheimer had learned long before to cultivate a rich interiority in which he could safely pursue his genuine concerns.” How I wish that I had learned to cultivate a rich interiority! Instead, I’m a blabbermouth – my interiority is always dribbling out of me, which is a nasty and embarrassing habit. I was not destined to be one of the sleek ones in this world, an escaper of nets, an elegant coder of elegies, rubbing the right elbows. Novelists are generally of the blabbermouth kind. Their rich interiority is for show. But what a triumph if they can convey the Horkheimer type – a man whose actions are carefully calculated not to land him in the hot water that his opinions would surely make for him. The faucet, to continue with that hot water commonplace, is not turned to on, save on rare occass

encyclopedia of the second hand: trip

                                     Self is watching as the girls, on the other side of the field, wheel into position before the targets that are set up with bales of straw backing them twenty paces downwind.  The girls carry bows and arrows, like a gross of Dianas.  Self wishes he were over there with them, they and their exercise seems to have a mythopoeic resonance which tag football (where he is stuck) will never have.  Tag football is a clumsy game that only two people on your team are good at (Wilbur Thomas and Tony James) and two people on the other team are good at. Wilbur is the quarterback.  At the signal Wilbur gets the ball and runs back and all the boys spread out  in a clumsy flower of cries and misdirections, except for Tony, who finds his pocket.  Tony catches the pass and runs ‑ or Norman intercepts it, who is one of the good ones on the other side. Although being tag ball you are supposed to pull the little cloth strips out of where they are wedged i

encyclopedia of the second hand: payne

             Payne The first time self met Payne was ‑ as Payne himself so recently reminded him at Dad's funeral, Henry looking unbelievably aged tottering on the edge of the pit they dug for Dad, a shambling old man penalized by the sagging muscles all that lifetime of ape's work had put on his frame, Payne at his side no longer the spotty twenty year old of memory's automatic evocation but a thick necked, swank looking - yes, swank, a word Dad might have used, a big band era word but just right to describe the slightly bogus odor of Payne's virility - almost forty year old success, a made man, with a dark suit and the spicy smell of a male cologne mixing with the good bean soup smell of his sweat on the humid May air, a black flower pinned to his lapel, nice touch, self shaking hands with him almost swimming in the warmth exuded from his broad, tanned, moist face, hot out here ain't it, you all ought to visit me down there in Miami, heck, after this

encyclopedia of the second hand: Orleans

                          ORLEANS                               1.      Self has a pile of magazines:   Gallery, Penthouse, Hustler, Wet, Mayfair, Cheeks.   The mags are stacked on the toilet seat lid, which is wooden.   Not only wooden, oaken.   Self has to laugh.   Christ, the lid, the seat, polished oak.   The fixtures (ansate ladder of the drawers of the commode: knob to the door: handle to the toilet: faucet ensembles of tub and sink) are bronze.   The tub is round, about the size of one of those rubber kiddie blow up wading pools, and about three feet in depth.   The bottom of the tub is beneath the level of the floor, and when you put your leg over the side of it there's a step you step on.   The porcelain of the tub is black, matching the sink, which is made of real black marble. The whole top of the commode   is real black marble with a little greenish cloud in the grain of it. The black suggests the bedroom this is the bathroom of’s corvine mood. Bella,