Skip to main content


Showing posts from August 6, 2017

Hey diddle diddle runs rampant

Respect to Daniel Tiffany for his Infidel Poetics.  I measure its brilliance by its subtitle – subtitles are such an interesting genre, they peek out of the pockets of the author’s intention and make faces at the reader, they are little gremlins, or tells, or the overflow that escaped the editor’s “delete”, the Id making tracks for the Golden West: “Riddles, Nightlife, Substance.”  A train of associations that seems to have gone way off the track and landed in Oz. One of the other measures of a book, for me, is its quotes. You gotta quote right. Many academics think quoting is just credentialing, so they quote the silliest things: As X said, New York is the first postmodern town. Etc. You want to say, is X always so boring? But Tiffany, who is also a poet, quotes brilliant and delightful things – finds. The difference between a quote that is credentialing and a quote that is a find is the difference between a stamp collection and buried treasure. Here is something Tiffany fo

My rant blaming America first, or : Bring em on, 2

Bring em on! I haven't gone on a blame America first rant in a while. Being a lefty, this makes me sad.  So here's one.  Let's go on one about NKorea's nukes. Gotta go   back to 1976, when Pakistan and North Korea agreed to be good buddies. At that time, this meant general pats on the back at the U.N. But things were going to be cooking in Pakistan. That was because a certain Abdul Qadeer Khan, a scientist, had an idea. The idea was to steal a buncha blueprints from a European nuclear power consortium. Which he did. However, the Dutch caught him, and put him on trial in 1985. They fumbled the first case, and were about to mount another, when the CIA leaned on the Dutch. The message was, don’t get Pakistan angry. (I get this material from Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark’s excellent account, Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons) You may remember – or perhaps you weren’t born yet and don’t remember – th

incantation and writing

Generally, I am on the side of Tim Ingold – who is on the side, mostly, of Derrida – in his book, Lines. In some ways, Ingold reproduces the grammatological gesture of the early Derrida. For instance, Inglold, too, devotes time to a lesson in writing. The scene of writing in Lines is derived not from Levi-Strauss, however, but, more Englishly, from Winnie the Pooh. “Eeyore, the old grey donkey, has arranged three sticks on the ground. Two of the sticks were almost touching at one end but splayed apart at the other, while the third was laid across them. Up comes Piglet. ‘Do you know what that is?’, Eeyore asks Piglet. Piglet has no idea. ‘It’s an A’, intones Eeyore proudly. By recognizing the figure as an A, however, would we be justified in crediting Eeyore with having produced an artefact of writing? Surely not. All he has done is to copy a figure he has seen somewhere else. He knows it is an A because that is what Christopher Robin called it. And he is convinced that to recognize an

Keep your electric eye on me babe

Put your raygun to my head I saw the movie Detroit last night. I squirmed. The beatings. The murders.  I looked up the Algiers Motel incident when I came home. I squirmed some more. And then I decided to look around in the NYT and see what was being reported around the time Detroit was experiencing its revolution and reaction. In the summer of 1967, there was a riot in Newark, a riot in Syracuse, a riot in Tokyo, a riot in Cambridge Maryland, student riots in Brazil, a riot in Cincinnati, a riot in Manchuria, a riot in Clearwater Florida, a riot in Nashville, a riot in Houston, a riot in the Roxbury section of Boston, etc. In Philadelphia, the Mayor, riding the white rage wave, accused a group of “revolutionary” negroes of planning a mass poisoning of whites. Arlen Spector, then Philadelphia’s D.A., held a news conference to announce the charges. The NYT times helpfully labeled these Negro Riots. As in the headline: “Milwaukee Calm after Negro Riot.” Whites, apparent