Saturday, March 23, 2019

the sackler watch - V&A museum come on down!

Fans of justice, who’ve been given a battering over the last, say, 30 years, got a small peek into a better world this week when the National Portrait Gallery in London turned down a donation of 1.3 Million dollars from the  Sackler Trust. Britain is saturated in Sackler beneficiaries, from the Serpentine Sackler Gallery (I like to think that the devil crawled into that name, sticking his forked tongue out of Serpentine) to the V&A Museum Sackler entrance, they have slathered their tax deductible trust money on the art world to an incredible extent, creating a huge ethical dump. Up in Scotland, a Labour and a Scottish National politician both urged the Dundee branch of the V&A Museum to return a grant of 650,000 buckos, to which V&A returned the time-honored non-response that they’ve taken Sackler money before, as has everybody. This is known as the junkie defense. Appropriate, eh? In other news, Dame Theresa Sackler (about the Dame, no comment) has been served with a 500 million dollar suit for her “alleged” role in profiting from a company that was in the addict them, blame them, and deny business. I imagine that Sacklers are beginning, even, not to like the newspaper stories about them. So sad.
According to Bloomberg:
More than 500 U.S. cities and counties accused Purdue and eight members of Richard Sackler’s family of racketeering, claiming the company engaged in misleading and illegal marketing of OxyContin. It’s one of a handful of lawsuits to name the Sacklers as individual defendants in the sweeping opioid litigation.” Named in the suit are the following: Beverly SacklerDavid Sackler, Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, Jonathan SacklerKathe Sackler, Mortimer Sackler and Theresa Sackler.
Art patrons all.
However, if there is one thing fans of justice have learned over the past thirty years, it is that America (and the EU and all the developed countries and every country with billionaires) have created a very deep system of immunity for the wealthy, architected by “de-regulatin’” politicos, in the pocket D.A.s, state legislators and, as a last defense, a solidly pro-plutocratic judiciary. So we don’t think that the Sacklers are shaking yet.
In an interview with the Washington Post last week, Purdue did say, in a totally totally non-menacing way, that bankruptcy was an option. What does that mean? Fuck if Im going to go into all of that. This Stat article covers it pretty well. But the happy news is that the company was pretty much a money pump for the Sacklers, so they have cash to spare, and I don’t see how bankruptcy would help them unless – unlikely event – the suits go to real trial, instead of some negotiated settlement thing.
In the meantime, Tufts, a big recipient of Sackler largesse – to say the least – is starting to find allegations “deeply troubling”. That was what their PR guy said. When asked if the University was still taking Sackler money, the word was: “[Unless] otherwise required by law we do not share data on our donors except for specific reasons as outlined in our policies…” That too was what the P.R. suit said. He didn’t seem to think this policy was deeply troubling.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

What's really scary, and what isn't

Adam is learning to read – and, more impressively, reading in English and in French. Because he likes books and comics so much, this is something that is driven forward not so much by school – his mathematics is being driven forward by school – as by his long established desire to read by himself, out of shouting distance from his monitoring parents.
Now, we love this, up to a point. On the other hand, this desire to read and write is also enmeshed in Adam’s Goth side. Adam sometimes makes remarks about horror movies (which he hasn’t seen) in a familiar tone before other adults, and we have to explain that he hasn’t seen these movies – really, are we letting our six year old watch Jason in Halloween? – but that he has caught the drift that these movies are out there. Like other kids, Adam is very obsessed by series, by collections. To have cards for all the players on your favorite football team, or to have all the Goosebumps series of books, or to watch all episodes of the Pink Panther – I remember my own proto-encyclopedic desires. Although I don’t remember them manifesting so early. Like trees which now bloom earlier, due to climate change, children’s media acquaintance now blooms earlier, due to a world full of internet and cell phones. Thus, he wants to see all horror movies.
Being six – or being in primary school – means being stuffed with nominal knowledge: all the state capitals, all the presidents, etc. And children love to clamber over that nominal knowledge, as over monkey bars. Later, adult, we tend to let the nominal knowledge go. The 19th President of the U.S.? Look it up on Wikipedia. The capital of North Dakota? Are we going to North Dakota for some awful reason? All of this kind of thing – including trigonometry and those Latin classes you took in the 8th and 9th grade – go down the chute into the forgettery.
The nominal knowledge Adam has about horror movies – and his plans to see, say, Alien when he is seventeen, cause, Dad, it says on IMDB that I can see it when I’m seventeen – is in contrast with his real threshold of fright, which is pretty standard. Adam found the thuggish General Woundwort in Watership Down almost too scary to watch. He knows that something may be “too bloody and cruel” for him, and he’ll tell me that when talking about scary movies. He has a very strong grip on what’s really scary, as opposed to what is pretend, and I like to think that this knowledge puts him a mile ahead of our adult public opinion, where the arguments are still about whether climate change is real, and what is really scary is actresses (females!) taking all the roles in the remake of Ghostbusters. Adult public opinion at this historical juncture you can simply write off as pitifully cretinous, worldwide, from Brexit to the New York Times Opinion Page, whereas Adam is, hopefully, part of a generation that would recognize what is “too bloody and cruel”, and try to avoid it.
Hooray for those who come after us, and may they forgive us our moral vacuity.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Kojeve - from November Willett's

This spring, the rightwing French journal, Commentaire, published a story about the philosopher, Alexandre Kojève, by Raymond Nart, a former officer with the DST, French Counter-intelligence. Commentaire, in the past, had published articles in praise of Kojève and even articles by Kojève. Kojève, after WWII, declared himself a “Sunday philosopher”, and had proceeded to devote most of his time to reconstructing France’s economy as an subminister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this post, Kojève became one of the great behind-the-scenes architects of France’s thirty glorious years, that experiment in dirigiste capitalism under the Bretton Woods system which finally came a header in the period of rampant inflation and the Oil crisis of the seventies. Notably, he helping to lay the foundation of the Common Market. Nart’s article was entitled, ominously, Alexandre Kojevnikov dit Kojève. Scholars of the great Cold War Communist hunts will be delighted to learn that the old rhetorical maneuver of tearing away the legal name to reveal the old, Russian name spying behind it still lives. Nart has nothing new to say about Kojève’s famous Introduction to Reading Hegel, a series of lectures that he gave between 1933-1939 which were  edited and published by Raymond Queneau in 1947. Nart’s attention, instead, is all on the Kojève who was giving the Soviets microfilm and 
packages of documents. What was in those documents, Nart regrets, we can only guess. But they must have been of value! Nart relies for his story on other documents, files that come from now defunct Eastern European and Soviet espionage agencies. Nart has used these sources before, in the 1990s, to claim that Charles Hernu, Mitterand’s first war minister, spied for the Soviets in the fifties. Nart is of the walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, must be a duck school of thought. His conclusion is that the philosopher was a spy. To the broader mind, though, one that has a knowledge of both ducks and other creatures with bills, like platypuses, Nart’s proof is far from convincing. 
See the rest here: Willett's

Biden's foreign policy: let's bet everything on authoritarianism!

  And watch it all slip away (Por fin se va acabar) Or leave a garden for your kids to play (Jamás van a alcanzar)  --- The Black Angels, El...