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Showing posts from January 25, 2015

a minor apocalypse

Death does tend to jog my memory. When the decease of Konwicki, the Polish writer, was announced in the Times, I thought that now would be a good time to read A Minor Apocalypse. Re-read, except for the fact that when  I read it, I didn’t finish it. This is because… well, it was too good. There are books that make me envious, and then there are books that overwhelm me. Ulysses and Gravity’s Rainbow obviously belong in the latter category. But the books in the first category are as rare, and a little more difficult to define. They are usually written in a way that I would like to write, or at least one of the ways, but they seem to have completely filled that way of writing up. Thus, the envy. I can read, say, Delillo and know that I can copy Delillo to an extent – that he is working in a quarter of literature that I recognize and could move in myself. But Konwicki seems to have discovered the perfect way to write the kind of novel that usually is pretty bad – the novel about not being

Toddlers in the new world

Everyday is the Renaissance for Adam – everyday it is a new world of words and thoughts. I’ve noticed that it isn’t only Adam – so far, at least, my adoring parental eyes can see. I used to bring Adam to school and deposit him in his classroom and his classmates, when they noticed me, would confine themselves to saying Daddy – this being a generic name for any adult male with infant. Now they all say things, among which is the name Adam. This is rich talk too, among the richest Adam’s tongue will  ever hoist, since each new word is a new coast,  which one needs to approach with some respect for crosscurrents and possible native arrows – even if if the best strategy is maximum bluster, as if you have been here before. That’s the ticket for  impressing the lurking natives, those grownups who made up this world. For instance, a couple of days ago I was doing what I must love to do, since I do it so often – looking for my fucking cell phone. I am a real talented cell phone loser, a pro,

Canetti's fantasy

n a book of aphorisms and little essays entitled All the squandered admiration, Elias Canetti sketches a revenge fantasy, or revolution fantasy, that any person who leans in a certain political direction, the direction that is oddly defined by both anarchy and communism, must have had at one point or another. Here's my translation. It pains me that there will never be an uprising of the beasts against us, the patient beasts, the cow, the sheep, all the livestock which falls  into our hands and cannot escape. I can imagine how the rebellion breaks out in a slaughterhouse and from there overwhelms a whole city. How men, women, children, the aged are all pitilessly tramplled to death; how the beasts overrun the streets and tracks, break down the gates and doors, and in their anger go whelming up to the very highest floors of houses, just as, underground, the subway cars are crushed by thousands of steers running wild, the sheep with suddenly sharp teeth ripping into us. . I am some

the victory in greece

Daniel at Crooked Timber has penned the ultimate City kissoff to the victory of Syriza in Greece. In the course of patronizing the poor thieving Greeks, he also strikes back at the idea that the EU policymakers are stupid - like, they don't know that Greece can never pay back its debt. They know! Stupidity is always armed with good reasons. The stupidity that plunged the U.S. into Iraq was full of people who said, at the time, the WMD and then later said, nobody believed there was WMD, obviously we were going in for x, y or z reason. Similarly, letting Lehman default was defended at the time as a wonderful warning to the banking system, and afterwards as who knew the international financial system was a ponzi scheme? One of the great stupidities of the EU is the idea that more is better – hence, the acceptance of players who are little more than medium size cities in the real scheme of things, like Latvia. This produces the ultimately stupid organization: too big to fail and too