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Showing posts from May 3, 2020

America the defective

Reading the comfortable neo-liberal comments that overflow the NYT opinion page and twitter, that are obviously pronounced at dinner tables and in emails that contain (attached) the latest "marvelous column by Tom Friedman, who nails it" - all of which are about Trump the barbarian and none of which are about America the defective - I am reminded of a sentence of Montesquieu's: "When Sylla wished to give liberty to Rome, Rome could no longer receive it, having only a feeble remnant of virtue left. And as it had always even less, instead of waking up after Caesar, Tiberius, Caius, Claudius, Nero, Domitian, it was ever more the slave; all blows were directed against the tyrant, none against the tyranny."

New England, 1886

Her little life lay on the bed Concentrate as that sword Intent, edged, unsheathed Prophesized by the Lord Not to bring peace but more life Than any outside her closed door And she interred like a knife In the kitchen’s silverware drawer. She awaited her chance for the attack To be bloodied under his touch From which there’d be no going back - but it never came to much. Her papers were put away Her dresses were folded up Her brother was heard to say She was strange even as a pup. - Karen Chamisso

the poet

“… the fact that the film presents extreme closeups Of the genitals in function” made All the stags grin monomaniacal. One became a poet and taught the trade. In the flicker Of his stag film eyes what was I and I - genitals in function in extreme closeup underneath my underneath. “But I guess they’re really young, and they always look beautiful” Somebody said to somebody as I carried the party Home on my back, like Aeneas carrying his daddy. - Karen Chamisso

The "we" of stupidity

Robert Musil once gave a famous talke entitled “On stupidity” [Ueber Dummheit]. The title is doublesided, at once about a topic and a citation of a previous talk entitle On stupidity given given by a Dr. Johan E. Erdmann, a Hegelian philosopher, in 1866. Erdmann developed a theory of stupidity in this talk that is articulated around the metaphor of the keyhole. The stupid person, in this metaphor, sees things through a keyhole, and from this vision generalizes without limit. Thus, the stupid person sees something about sickness – or reads it in a newspaper – and immediately generalizes what he has seen. Stupidity, in Erdmann’s view, is a curious amalgam of narrowness and absolutism. “… one’s own I would be the only keyhole, through which he looks into the stocked hall that we name the world. Stupidity is thus to be defined as the spiritual circumstance in which the particular itself and its relationship to itself figures as the single mesure of truth and value, in short: everything