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Showing posts from January 6, 2019

Cocteau, fast motion film, and Ce Soir

I have a passion for old newspapers, which is one of the reasons I love the internet. You can find old newspapers all over the internet. It is as if all the old birdcages have shed their papers, for here is the news from London in 1778 to Paris in 1947. No longer does one need to get up, go down to the library, and search out the musty, lumbering volumes in the periodicals section, where the old paper dies a little every day. The internet is to the periodicals section as the book of forensic photographs is to the morgue: the bodies are in the latter, but the former captures their looks in their last agony. What I especially like are the legendary papers: among which surely counts  Ce Soir . It was set up with Louis Aragon as its editor in the mid 30s. It was supposed to be a communist paper, but it was as communist as Louis Aragon – which is to say that it would mouth communist verities, but its heart was in the intersection between the sensational and the glamorous. Full of great

The Zarquawi effect in France

In the movie Vice , which I saw this Christmas and heartily recommend, there is a sequence on how Zarquawi, an Iraqi thug who called himself al qaeda's representative to Iraq, went from being a small time delusional to being a major player in the creation of Islamicist paramilitaries by way of D.C.'s intentionally aggrandizing view of him (with the purpose of linking Saddam H. to Osama bin Laden) in 2003. By making him seem much more important than he was - I mean, this is Washington D.C. making you a supervillain! - he attracted thousands who figured, if it pisses off the Americans, it must be good. As Vice shows, this tactical move in the propaganda war to get the American public to accept an unnecessary and stupid invasion bore terrible fruit - among them, ISIS. It is interesting that the Macron government is playing the Zarquawi card with the Gilets Jaunes. From the beginning, instead of treating these people as citizens with complaints - which are supported, incid

nostos

 He came home from the war with a party in his head…  The ancient Greeks, those great nomenclaturists, had a word for the tale in which the hero came home after many adventures: nostos. There’s a very fine essay by Anna Bonifazi in the American Journal of Philology, Winter, 2009 – your fave journal, reader, and mine too – that explores the way this word played out in Greek literary culture. “From the literary point of view, a nostos tale basically concerns a sea voyage, including a storm that causes a shipwreck, a landing in an unforeseen place, and the survival of the one who experiences all this. Even before the Odyssey narrative was conceived, nostos tales and Odysseus' nostos tales were presumably widespread.” Our return to Atlanta did not, thank God, include shipwreck or the culling of our crew by one-eyed giants. But as in any return home, journey’s end puts in question the identity of the endpoint – of “home”. In fact, my relation to Atlanta – or more properly,