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Showing posts from January 7, 2018

Being lost/Being home

There's the geography of maps, where the objects are a town, a river, a mountain, and then there is the subjective map, where the objects are all object-events: getting lost, coming home, being-in-a-strange-apartment. The subjective map has a very different scale - it measures not inches, miles, or kilometers, but uniqueness and repetitions. For instance, the geography of getting lost depends upon its position in the scale of encounters with a place - getting lost in the same place the second time is a harder thing to do, and eventually, if you keep coming back, you aren't lost at all and the lostness that you once experienced seems like a dream. Coming back home is perhaps the opposite of lostness, an East to lostness's West. Lostness is tied to the radical lack of experience of a place, a failure of recognition, while coming home is tied to the ultra experience of a place, the place raised by the power of some square of the mind and senses.

the reactionary rhetoric of victimization and the ideology of strength

I watched the interview with Catherine Millet on French Tv about the “Tribune” in Le Monde against the #metoo moment. It was an interesting exercise in the rhetoric of reaction. That rhetoric serves the ideology of reinforcing the power of the establishment, and dis-establishing attacks upon it. Millet use of the terms “victim” and “strength” – as in strong women – in an almost exemplary way. I could almost draw a Greimas square (but I won’t) to analyze her responses. Millet’s chief rhetorical instrument is to speak of women imprisoning themselves in “victimization.” It does have an unpleasant feel, this victimization. How much better to be strong! But an odd thing happens as the conversation proceeds. Using the example of a man putting his hand on a woman’s thigh in public transport, Millet reveals that she is a “strong” woman cause it doesn’t effect her, and that the men who do this are pitiable. They are, hmm, victims, and as such they shouldn’t be denounced. Su

Confederate monuments - and phallic ones

Sometimes I think I should find some untranslated minor French classic and translate it. With this in mind, I picked up Jacques Yonnet’s Rue des Malefices, which Raymond Queneau considered to be one of the great books about Paris. It does do that surrealist mixing thing, cutting autobiography and legend, street history and street voices, into a herky jerky narrative about being down and out and under a pseudonym in Nazi occupied Paris. If I were really to translate the book, obviously I’d need help with those street voices (which were also dear to Queneau’s heart). Here, for instance, is la mere Georgette, naturally a “laveuse”, talking about a neighbor: Formidable qu’il est ce gniar-lá. Je vais sur soixante-dix piges et j’ai l’ai toujours connoblé. Reparouze de pendulettes et fourgueur  d’oignons d’occase. Jamais de bruit.” Jamais de bruit is the highest compliment one Parisian resident can give another, by the way. As for his repairing clocks and second hand watches – the oignon

The novel ain't dead

  There seems to be a perpetual market for thumbsucker pieces predicting the end of the novel. The piece is never written from the point of view of good riddance to bad rubbish – the Surrealists stance on the novel – but rather as an exercise in concern trolling. It starts out with how the novel was once important, then moves on to what is important today – which may be video games, or movies, or television. The NYRB’s published a blogpost by Zia Haider Rahman on January 5th that goes through the classicmotions, ending up with this: “The question, however, remains: Should the demise of the literary novel trouble us? I think the answer is “yes,” but not nearly as much as some literary novelists would have you think. Great television is taking over the space occupied by many novels, and taking with them many excellent writers. And by and large, it’s delivering the same rewards to its audience. But what about novels that exploit the opportunities that are available only to the form

January's Paris

In Giles Fletcher’s Of the Russe Commenwealthe, written in 1591, there is a marvelously tossed off phrase in high Elizabethan style: after describing the terror of the Russian winter, Fletcher says: “It would breede a frost in a man to look abroad at that time, and see the winter face of that countrie.” The idea of inner temperature mirroring outer, or rather, inner weather being the broadcast of outer vision, is a powerful thought. The icicle is the icicle of the mind, so to speak – to paraphrase the Macbethian theme of daggers. I find it interesting, although impossible, the way the visual takes a different track from the tactile: Though the imagination may well break through time, so that one loses track, such is time’s touchlessness, it never breaks through temperature – however much I dream of Florida in the streets of January’s Paris, it provides no kindling.