Thursday, April 14, 2016

poem

Hell is easy: a blanket will do it
Under which, on hot nights infinite
Lay down a body like mine
And cover the feet closely, against its lifetime habit

– and that is all, my dear. An intolerable discomfort
Dilated to the size of the universe.  So yes
A God that is the master of tortures is conceivable
A God in our own image, habit’s double agent

Who knows that bones crush, that skin is nothing
Against flame, ice, steel, the sharp edge.
But a God beyond our temptations is
A God we can’t imagine.

Only, we can abstract an inch
Beyond the grind and crush of those winged and walking generations –
Something skinless, needless, blessed.
But what would this God be up to?

What’s in it for him
With no root in any image or song?
This is truly a God for atheists.
Surely our sacrifices have not all been in vain?



Monday, April 11, 2016

How to be President of the US for dummies

The qualification kerfluffle between Sanders and Clinton is ripe with meritocratic comedy. Nothing is more important in a guild-oriented plutocracy like the US than "qualification". It is the testing mania raised to a mythological level. Making the presidency something like a brain surgeon's position (or a taxi cab drivers) where there is a vague licencing credential is, I think, expressive of a whole dimension of what is wrong with American politics. In fact, I think I am much more qualified than both of the candidates, since I've seen fire and I've seen rain, I've been poor and now I'm a bourgeois, and I've read several books - including, How to be President of the USA for Dummies - so there is that. Qualification is an especially juicy subject for academics and writers, since holding on to this last privilege is, in the age of ferocious humanities downsizing, about all we have left. But fuck that. Nobody asks if Mark Zuckerberg is qualified to do squat about education - they just give him the school district of Newark like a big christmas gift. Is Bill Gates qualified to do anything except lecture on monopoly and how to exploit it? Nah. But there he is, the man who influences policy countrywide cause of his billions. Like a particularly bad dissertation written by a student the department wants to get rid of, the presidency is awarded not on the basis of qualification, but on the basis of the fatigue of the voters, who want to get the thing over with.
Qualification is a doddle.

olivier blanchard and the free lunch: a comedy of errors

  The neolib economist Oliver Blanchard tweeted a very funny comedy bit, in which he played the part of “social democrat”. And he wrote: “As...