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Showing posts from January 8, 2023

another city on the catastrophe bingo card: The killing of the Great Salt Lake

  William McNeill, in his environmental history of the 20 th century, pointed out that by the 1980s, the most ferocious enemies of the environment were the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the American Republican Party. Long before rightwingers got boners for Putin, they were all about imitating the Communists by creating massive government funding attacks on rivers and soil and swamps and then privatizing the sons of bitches. In the Soviet Union, the Aral Sea was the great victim of the environmental purge. In the U.S., it has been the Ogallala reservoir – the underground water that feeds the Midwest – and, I learn today, shockingly, the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The numbers in this article are staggering: “At this point, to reverse the decline, enough water to cover more than 2.5 million acres of land (over 10,000 square kilometers) a foot deep needs to flow back into the lake e

Karen Chamisso, her blues

  How creep and crawl the future seems to those of us lying in this house of bones: rules here the authoritarian spine and its homo erectus, her jungle gym. Lumbagos dawn on the painstrewn shores of all the old girls’ Eldorados. Oh chiropracter with your spurious art unspell that post-partum spell cast on my life force, all obscurely! Joint sprains, muscle sprains and knots This is what I gots Rattling the life force in the house of bones. These holes I put in the unmarrowed bone And pipes this song, all alone, all alone.

the dumb ox and the mandarin: Ernest Hemingway and Cyril Connolly

 Sartre’s essay about Jules Renard, ultimately dismissing the search for the most economical way of writing a thing as the search for a way of being outside of “intelligence” – the latter classified as giving reflection its expanse and structure as it is construed in the urban tradition, rather than narrowing it to its reflexes as it is construed in the peasant tradition – was written during the phoney war, though published in 1944. At the same time, Cyril Connolly was revising his book, the Enemies of Promise, which was first published in 1938 and re-issued in the revised form in 1949. Connolly was a member of the “bright young things” generation, like Nancy Mitford, Harold Acton and Evelyn Waugh, but he was always slightly a figure of fun for Mitford and Waugh. The Ambrose Silk figure in Waugh’s phoney war novel, Put out more flags, has definite echoes of Connolly, whose seriousness is disguised by an outward silliness. Like Connolly, who founded and edited the great British magazi

potatoes in the Language game: Sartre, Jules Renard and Wittgenstein

  In Sartre’s notebooks for the phony war, from 1940, you can see a decision being made: Sartre was going to resist the world falling down around him by being intelligent. Since he was very good at being intelligent, this seemed to him one way, the best way, in which he could resist the war, the defeat and the occupation. It is interesting to compare him here to Wittgenstein, who in this same period was more interested in the way intelligence was way too weak a thing to support the weight of the world. One of the essays Sartre published in 1944 was mined from his notebooks: The tied up man: some notes on the Journal of Jules Renard. It is a ferocious critique, which puts the question of intelligence front and center. Sartre represents himself as the agent of what James Scott called, in Domination and the Arts of Resistance, the Great Tradition. The Great Tradition emerges in the metropole, and is vehiculized by the state, which sends out its functionaries, teachers, policy makers, an

simmel, paradise and the purposive jam

  George Simmel’s Philosophy of Money is a hard book to go straight through. I’ve never done so. Simmel has a unique meandering style, which gave rise, I think, to the various early twentieth century philosophical styles: Lukacs and Buber in particular. I can see Simmel through certain of Heidegger’s early works.   Simmel has a way of going on abstractly, and the reader goes hum hum hum, on the verge of sleep or headache, and then suddenly out of nowhere some image will emerge, some passage will coalesce, and it all seems… important and poetic and non-humlike. . Rather like Hegel in the high   styling Phenomenology of Spirit. Talk about that wild mercury sound. One of those passages occurs In a subsection of the book’s first section on value. It is entitled, in German,     “The economy as distancing (through effort, renunciation, sacrifice) and the simultaneous overcoming of the same)”. You can see why David Frisby, in the standard translation, settles for “Economic activity establis