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Showing posts from January 22, 2017

Thoughts on post-colonialism: the Night of Ideas in LA

The Night of Ideas event here was a big success, and applause for all those who made it so – the people at the French Consulate here in L.A. One of the panels I attended was about colonialism, post-colonialism, and identity, a discussion with Achille Mbembe, Nicolas Bancel, Kaoutar Harchi, Alain Mabanckou & Dominic Thomas. The discussion ranged over identity, Francophone literature, and France as a world language. It was fascinating, but … I resisted the opposition that dominated the proceedings, or so I thought. That opposition aligns, on one side, France and the European nations, and on the other side, post colonial third world nations, as participants in a history in which the Europeans, representing an identity en bloc, colonize other peoples, who then have to find a path to their identity by overthrowing the European pesence, so to speak. I understand how this image of Europe seems plausible from the side of those who live in post-colonial domai

Notes for a future essay on Chamfort

Chamfort was not his real last name. In fact, it is still not certain whether his name was really Sébastien-Roch Nicolas, son of a Clermont grocer, or whether he was the bastard child of a Clermont canon. Sébastien-Roch-Nicolas Chamfort, like many another Enlightenment demi-sage, came up through the ranks from a seemingly engulfing provincial obscurity by inventing himself in a different milieu. His success as a writer falls in the period of the 1770s. He earned money from a hit play; he wrote for enlightened journals; he found an aristocratic patron. And he enjoyed eating, drinking, talking and fucking. He mingled with some of the big names, wrote a catty little verse about Candide, received a letter of praise from Rousseau. His life, although he didn’t know it then, was falling into a pattern of anecdotes. For instance, on the subject of making love, his biographer Pellison recounts that a woman told him, once, “this curious thing. I don’t love smart men in love – they are wa

The motive behind the post-truth hoax

The first thing to be said about our post-truth moment is that it is complete bullshit that we are having a post-truth moment. The idea that somehow, uniquely in the last year, American politicians and propagandists have started lying systematically, ignores the entirety of American history. The idea of ‘post-truth’ is generated from a completely scewball, neo-liberal view of American history – and, indeed, of world history – in which America was not the country that declared its independence because the British weren’t killing enough Indians, and that incorporated slavery in the constitution. It is not the nation of Jim Crow, the Sand River massacre, the long war between labor and capital in which unions were attacked by national guards as a regular thing. It is not the America that dropped two atom bombs and proceeded to test nuclear weapons above ground for more than a decade, with the official scientific community, colluding with the executive branch, lying through its teeth about