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Showing posts from September 20, 2020

The mock-confession

  The innocent have nothing to confess. Thus, by a social logic founded in both the jurisdictional and the sacred, if you confess, you cannot be innocent. Foucault traces this logic in Discipline and Punish, going across social spaces in the 18 th and 19 th century to show how it was implemented – how the disciplinary regime encouraged speaking, telling, confessing, creating great rituals of it. The subject, in the Foucaultian paradigm, confesses, and becomes dependent on confession. In the 1970s, Foucault turned away from literature. He was no longer writing about Raymond Roussel or Magritte.   A pity, for the complement to his work on the disciplinary society was the rise of the mock-confessional novel. The roots of this novel type – under which  I would include Dostoevsky’s Notes From the Underground, Hamsun’s Hunger, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Chris Kraus’s I love Dick – are found in the 18 th century. Two texts stand out: Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew and Rousseau’s C

Ms. M.M. visits Wallace Stevens - Karen Chamisso

  When Ms. M.M. visited Wallace Stevens At his office building where there were “eleven or twelve white marble columns along the façade” (her famous precision on parade but not too much – there’s the fatal “or” to remind us of what poetry is for and of what good manners requires as well) and a wide window, otherwise indescribable letting the banal Connecticut sunlight through. No doubt Mr. Stevens had a lot to do But he did show M.M. his secretarial pool   where the actuarial tools were applied, and procedures for getting reimbursed if your property had been cursed by fire, theft, or a smell in the air. The girls all smiled. “They aren’t bothered with strikes there; the girls at the Hartford have it nice.”  Said Ms. M. M. – do her words take a slice? Or were they just words, and thus   meant quite sincerely? Then it was over as begun, over merely.   Neither one showed the other the truth - that they were monsters, monsters on the loose.  

two cheers for cancel culture

 From the now defunct willetts site: Cancel culture was born on October 18, 1924, when a pamphlet was thrust upon the world entitled: A Cadaver . The subject of the pamphlet was Anatole France, a Nobel prize winning author whose death, on October 12, 1924, was announced on the front page of the New York Times under the headline: Anatole France Great Author dies … Author of “Thais” and “Le Jongleur de Notre Dame” Classed as Leader of Modern Stylists”. The writers of A Cadaver (Andre Breton, Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard, etc.) were having none of this. The pamphlet was a surrealist action of the most violent and definitive kind. Breton classed Anatole France with the “cops”, and wrote: “With Anatole France, a little human servility goes out the door.” Eluard, under the heading, An Old man Like the Others ,   wrote mockingly to France: “The harmony, ah, the harmony, the knot of your tie, my dear corpse, your brain on the side, everything arranged beautifully in the coffin and the tears that