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Showing posts from August 24, 2014

the mush in France

I read the thumbsucker pieces about the Socialist Party in Le Monde’s Ideas section yesterday, including the manifesto by the 200 Hollande loyalists from the National Assembly. What did I get for my labors? It was like plowing through a swamp of earwax – it was like being gnawed by weasals while trying to escape from melting tundra. It was in other words a completely unenlightening and vaguely disgusting experience, with an avoidance of the issue at hand that would be frightening if it weren’t so yawn-worthily predictable. Here’s the issue at hand. The PS is at a record level of unpopularity. Thus, the question at hand is what strategic sense it makes to be unpopular and at the same time utterly shed one’s principles, embracing their contradiction – neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, austerian economics and a very public palling around with the malefactors of great wealth. It is one thing to be unpopular because of one’s principles, and quite another to be unpopular and adopt the opp

the parody of socialism in France

The debacle of the French socialist party – which seems well on its way to achieving a place in the museum of extinct parties, next to the Frei Democratische party in Germany – can be explained, in large part, as a phenomenon of the class struggle. Class struggle! Haven’t we all gone beyond that since Reagan and Thatcher freed the free world? Well, one would think so as class becomes the absent category in sociology and theory. But its sinking into the collective unconscious doesn’t make it any less so. The postwar years, from the late forties to the early eighties, saw an almost Hegelian progression: the wage class and its unions triumphed in the construction of the welfare state all over the developed world. That very triumph, however, produced the children who buried the wage class – the technocrats and meritocrats whose natural sympathies were for Capital, not Labor. They looked like business execs and they thought like business execs, and if they climbed through the channel

on a passage in Nabokov 1

I was licked into shape by the Cold War. It was my mother and my father, and I am still a piece of it as I advance towards my death in a world that is no longer moored to it. Vast upheavels have the effecct of making their survivors posthumous people, carrying about obsolete maps and concerned with dead issues – themselves a sort of dead issue. For this reason I follow lines of thought or seize on details that that seem pointless or defunct to those who are under a certain age, and have grown up with a certain set of post Berlin Wall references, and who have never dreamed, as children, of atom bombs dropping from the sky. Similarly, I find it difficult to understand the events and idees recues of the present, I have difficulty being “contemporary” – I have to translate them, clumsily, into their historic “place”, dissolving them so utterly into their causes that I entirely lose their effects – I understand them to death, and don’t understand them at all. I think of  Nabokov as a sup

the nose

“But these evils are notorious and confessed; even they also whose felicity men stare at and admire, besides their splendour and the sharpness of their light, will, with their appendant sorrows, wring a tear from the most resolved eye; for not only the winter is full of storms and cold and darkness, but the beauteous spring hath blasts and sharp frosts; the fruitful teeming summer is melted with heat, and burnt with the kisses of the sun, her friend, and choked with dust; and the rich autumn is full of sickness; and we are weary of that which we enjoy, because sorrow is its biggest portion; and when we remember, that upon the fairest face is placed one of the worst sinks of the body, the nose, we may use it not only as a mortification to the pride of beauty, but as an allay to the fairest outside of condition which any of the sons and daughters of Adam do posses.” Jeremy Taylor’s Rules and Exercizes of Holy Dying was one of the 17 th century’s bestsellers; through the nineteenth ce