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Showing posts from February 13, 2022

on Thomas Pynchon's Vineland

 or - Hysteresis sez the man with the plan....   I just finished re-reading Vineland. That is the final panel, one might say, in Thomas Pynchon’s go at the Cold War world – the set consisting of   V, Gravity’s Rainbow and Vineland. Pynchon was the center of James Wood’s punchup of “hysterical realism” in the 00s, stirring up a bit of sluggish controversy in that ice . Looking back at that verbiage, what stands out, to me, was the astonishing absence of the politics   that should surely figure in the mix. Wood was writing for the New Republic in its final, Marty Peretz driven phase of shredded liberalism. The politics of its book review pages had long been clear. You would not find a word of praise for anything “communistic”, anything that leaned towards Palestine, and in general anything that was happening on the “loony left”. The politics of the writers on Wood’s black list, Pynchon, Delillo, and their supposed acolytes, like Zadie Smith, was very much in contrast with the politics

Guns don't kill people -desperation kills people

  Sadly, the NRA mantra is right: guns don't kill people, people kill people. That doesn't mean we should not have gun control; it means that in a country with weak social insurance - no universal medicalcare, low wages, massive poverty, no national childcare program, continual threats of more cuts, etc. - and a floating island of guns, the mass of gun violence - the greater portion of which is suicides - will continue. When we compare other nations with gun control, what we leave out of the comparison is the stronger social insurance in these countries. The stronger emphasis, for instance, on equality. We have only to look at the shocking, enormous addiction and opiate overdose death rate to see how broken something large is in America. The mass killings are an extreme psychotic symptom of a deep problem we are not confronting, because we have entered a day by day lifestyle of not being able to do what needs to be done (because it is enormous) So those who are rah rahing gun

on not liking the term "postmodern"

  I’ve never liked the term “postmodern”. Or, in fact, all its children and cousins – the posties. Post-truth, post-stucturalism, etc. It is the gang that couldn’t shoot straight in my book. Yet, I like Lyotard’s postmodern writing, even if I do not understand the slippery conceptual tegument that allows Lyotard to say: “A work can become modern only if it is first postmodern.” Why postmodern rather than, say, modern-less? If what is modern is outdated, indeed archaic – an affinity between which is, in Kenner’s The Pound Era, insisted upon – I’d suggest that the break, if there is one, is between the progressive idea of modernity and the contemporary, in which an engulfing simultaneity elevates accident and chance as the deities that watch over us. Nemesis has return to watch on the city walls, or at least in numerous Netflix series. The contemporary is not some sort of debasement and chaos – it can well engulf the past, much to the puzzling distress of those who are both 100 percent

The hero cult in academia

  I am fascinated to an unhealthy degree by academic gossip and the subtweeting of all those nesting high fliers. Since the appearance of the letter in support of Comaroff, signed by the Harvard stars, and the appearance of the oopsy letter of retraction signed by the same Harvard stars making clear that their only mistake was idealism and their belief in the higher things mind you, (rather than endorsing a sex pest and the system that protects him, cause that would be a too literal reading of their literal words), there’s been abundant spillover and a joyous run on vows to non-cite the likes of Jill Lepore and Henry Gates and Paul Farmer and other “heroes”. This was followed by Paula Chakravartty’s account of academic bullying by one of Comaroff’s supporters, Arjun Appadurai, which lends so much veracity to my prejudices against academic highfliers that it is almost a nightmare come true – really, these people are, in their lives, Profiles in Pecking Order Pecksniffery. I’ve known th

a Karen Chamisso poem

  Nearer my God to thee „An Bord der »Titanic« befanden sich fünfundzwanzig Millionäre, die zusammen mehr als 100 Millionen Pfund repräsentieren.“ I liked to look and not look in Dad’s book at the picture Of the iceberg that rammed the Titanic A telltale smear of paint on its flank - I had nightmares about that ship going down My birthday cake with the candles lit Enormously drowning In the dark North Atlantic A liner’s hold scrawled over the blood freezing tide. My friend John recently took me To Rue des Ecoles to point out the crossing Where the absent minded mythographer was run down by a laundry truck Nearer my God to me I sang out Mixing up the chords and dischords of time Born for collision and some final knackery Iceberg, laundry truck or drowning colder (“Le Cœur est un organe femelle » ) than the North Atlantic’s spasms stripping away our itty monkey manners. - Karen Chamisso