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Showing posts from May 19, 2019

Hatred of Paradise

The Dialectic of the Enlightenment was the first in a series of post-war books that variously attacked the Cold War consensus on both sides. I’d include, in that list, Galbraith’s Affluent Society and New Industrial State, Djilas’s New Class, Medvedev’s Let History Judge, and Foucault’s The Words and the Things (translated as The Order of Things) and Discipline and Punish. Not to speak of feminism (Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics) and the anti-colonial struggle (Franz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks). Intellectual history went into the streets for a historical moment in 1968, a moment that is preserved with marmoreal heaviness by many a museum hearted lefty prof. However, beyond the nostalgia of the ex hippies, there was a real core to that moment – which extended, actually, to the end of the Bretton Woods agreement and the first oil embargo. It created a cultural prototype that has gradually immersed in its presuppositions, for good and ill, a capitalist system that has ground the b

Potato peelers

Mom had a potato peeler. It was a beautiful little instrument, cheap, small, and visibly designed for its purpose. Form and function, here, are Siamese twins. It was visibly not a knife for spreading butter on toast, or slicing a steak. It had two curved blades, which were separated by a small gap. You sank the sides of the gap into a spud, scraped down, and the peel would arrange itself on the napkin or plate you’d set out to catch it. Mom was swift and decisive with the thing. There were seven people in the family, and it was a family that loved mashed potatoes, hash browns, French fries, and anything with that good tuber starch. So the peels would fly. The preferred potato of that time was the big ass Idaho potato. They were surely developed in some Cold War plant science department at a land grant agriculture university. They had the look of bombs, of grenades. The tough look of truckers and factory workers, with a knotty, fat shape and brown skin, under which of course, af