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Showing posts from November 15, 2015

the weather of modernism

Kathryn Schultz, in her clever essay on weather and literaturemisses, I think, an opportunity. Her notion is a good one – that a change occurs in the uses of weather between the Victorians and the modernists.  But she confines this insight to the narrow range of Anglo writers. To my mind, the difference in uses – the difference, that is, in what one might calll the cognitive temperament, the mood around what one knows – is exemplified by the opening of Bleak House (to which Schultz makes reference) and the opening of Man Without Qualities (to which she doesn’t). If ever there was a book that was in dialogue with the conventions of the Victorian novel, it is Musil’s book.  Famously, Dickens begins Bleak House with a prose poem about the London fog: “London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not

The anti-Muslim/saudi impunity paradox

One of the great paradoxes of the last two decades has been the simultaneous demonization of Islam in the West, and, at the same time, the impunity of one of the central Islamic states, Saudi Arabia. The attacks in Paris have revived the former, while depending on the latter. So far, so good. But why is this not, at least in the media, a hot issue? To find some answers, I’d urge the curious to turn to the home page of a financial entity with the impressively ominous name, Kingdom Holding.    The official Kingdom Holding site informs us that the  “central figure” behind Kingdom Holding company, according to its internet site “ is  His Royal HighnessPrince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul-Aziz Alsaud of Saudi Arabia. Named twice by Forbes Magazine as one of the world’s most intelligentand creative investors, Prince Alwaleed sets the agenda for KHC’s world operations, providing a guiding vision which has seen remarkable success andworldwide recognition. The grandson of two of the Ar

France isn't at war with radical Islam. It is allied to radical Islam. It is at war with Daech.

I should read soothing things before I go to bed. Alas, instead, I glanced at an opinion piece in Marianne. It starts out with the obvious: France is at war. Then it immediately goes off the tracks. France isn't at war with Daech. No, France, according to this genius, is at war with "radical Islam." This would come as surrprising news to French corporations, who've had a boom year selling to the heart of radical Islam, Saudi Arabia, or to the French government, which has supp orted radical islam in the war in Yemen. The difference between the ideologies and domestic policies of Daech and the Saudis depend on the fact that Daech is trying to become a real geopolitical power and the Saudis already are one. Otherwise, both are ruled by a particular interpretation of Shari'a, both behead, both make crimes out of such things as sorcery, both absolutely deny civil rights to women, etc., etc. Ideological fog machines are a standard part of war. But we've been living