Saturday, March 18, 2023

Jupiter stumbles: the curse of Macron


Perhaps the most Macronist of all Macron things during the debate about the reforms – the debate in the street, the debate in the supposed Legislature – was Macron deciding that this was just the time to give Jeff Bezos the Legion d’Honneur. I missed it when it happened – I was turned on to it by the excellent, very sad article in Media Part by Nicholas Mathieu: « Savez-vous quelle réserve de rage vous venez de libérer ? »

I read the Mathieu article after reading the “what does Macron’s inner circle think” article by Le Monde, which keeps in intimate and admiring touch with the circle around the great man: “Selon plusieurs de ses proches, le président de la République n’a « aucun scrupule, aucun regret »(According to those close to him, the president of the Republic has “no scruple, no regret”). This is how Le Monde writes – a far cry from the revolutionary stylings in 1792 of Pere Duchesne, the paper whose motto was: Je suis le véritable père Duchesne, foutre!” – I am the fucking real Pere Duchesne. Who would write, for instance, of his great anger against the so called aristocrats, the Duc of this, the Prince of that. Between the fuck it and the “proches de la President de la Republique” there is an abyss set. But all your abysses and all your interior ministers won’t keep that abyss from being crossed at some point – no man or woman can say where.

In the Marianne story about the honouring of the Amazon man, one reads: “C’est une décoration qui fait grincer des dents, surtout à gauche.”  But what gauche? It is the gauche in unions. It is the gauche that realizes that Macron is honouring a union-buster. It is his riposte to the unions he refuses to talk to. The only syndicat that counts for Macron is the syndicat of bosses. The man has an upper class autism of a high order – usually, in the evolution of neolib popularism, the Tory or the Republican has figured out how to hide behind the working man. Macron has never figured out even so simple a ploy. Boris Johnson looks like a political genius next to a piker like our President. The figure he most resembles, in the neolib spectrum, is Bush – Bush the first. George H.W. Bush. A man who could never release his lips, his famous lips, from the silver spoon around which they were wrapped. The man with the same strange personality, the man with the mistress (which, as Hilary Clinton once said, everybody in D.C. knew about)  and the wife-mother.

I despise all Bushes, yet in one way Bush did more than any president since: he took seriously a global climate problem, the depletion  of ozone, and he did something decisive about it. Politicians come in all sorts of flavors. As bad as Macron is, he does have a balanced sense that it is time for negotiation in the  Ukrainian war. And he is not the foreign policy disaster that Hollande was, all the way around. One could imagine him a fairly competent foreign minister. But not Jupiter, never Jupiter.

Dethrone the king. Fuck!


Tuesday, March 14, 2023


There is a Jewish myth recounted by the philosopher Shestov that goes like this: when the
angel of death comes down to close the eyes of man, the angel’s body is all covered with
eyes. Sometimes the angel discovers that he has made a mistake. The term of the man’s
life that he has come for still has more time to go. So the angel pulls one of the eyes
off his body and gives it to the man. “ … then the man sees strange and new things, more
than other men see and more than he himself sees with his natural eyes; and he also sees,
not as men see but as the inhabitants of other worlds see: that things do not exist
"necessarily", but "freely", that they are and at the same time are
not, that they appear when they disappear and disappear when they appear. The testimony
of the old, natural eyes, "everybody's" eyes, directly contradicts the
testimony of the eyes left by the angel. But since all our other organs of sense, and
even our reason, agree with our ordinary sight, and since the whole of human
"experience", individual and collective, supports it, the new vision seems to
be outside the law, ridiculous, fantastic, the product of a disordered imagination.”


Such men are then considered mad. And not only by others,but by their lawfully seeing selves. , “And then begins a struggle between two kinds of vision, a struggle of which the issue is as mysterious and uncertain as its origin.”

Long ago, I taught an intro philosophy class at Austin Community College – and by the way, let me say I love community colleges! Much more important than Harvard in the total scheme of things. There is a laudatory phrase in French – sérieux – which is inadequately translated by “serious”. It signifies a solid worker, a student who applies herself. It doesn’t mean the highest grades, it means the best intentions. And that is what I found at community college among students who had day jobs.  Anyway, there they were, there I was.  I would begin with this Shestov quote, thus forever corrupting my students vision of what philosophy is – if they took other classes, they’d learn it was all syllogisms and ignoble surrenders to convention. I was a terrible philosophy teacher. Not sérieux. But I did my best for my students.

So:  I am a stout adherent, even in my decline, of outlaw vision, the convergence of poetry and the love of wisdom. It is the romantic agony all over again, granted. Yet, I’d maintain that the eye covered angels are not happy about where humankind has gone. The gift of the third eye has been so collectively refused that we are in the same febrile state of conceptual imprisonment as was felt by people like Hugo Ball, one of the founders of Dada, before the First World War. Every headline is another  iron bar in our collective cage.

They are not what they appear and disappear when they appear. People at dinner parties talk of the climate apocalypse in thirty years and then pass around the delicious fish – or such is my experience. What’s not right is not right. Who doesn’t know this, even with two eyes?

Monday, March 13, 2023

Vienna 1921 - a poem by Karen Chamisso

 Vienna 1921

…. where, cigarladen, the “social vampire” steals
from a drunken greenhorn his daddy’s crowns:
Stören Sie nicht der Spiel!
A great admirer of tits, and morocco bound
Pornography, illustrations by Rops.
In the Cabaret Hölle your table, monsieurs
An occasional word with the cops
To smooth down any controvers.
The song surrenders to the singer
Her shorn eyebrows, her glossed back hair
its lips of glass, its sacre coeur.
Shall we linger
by the fall guy’s latest lair?
… his wife threw vitriol
At one of Europe’s famous flirts?
That face was not, although,
Marked – her hat received the worst
Of it… in the “fameux hôtel Sacher”
Behind the Opera, there they built
A love nest out of Masoch and Schnitzler
Everything in gold late Habsburg gilt.
Later: “Les femmes m’ont trompé, le jeu m’a trahi »
The cat, the fatal cat, is out for a spree.
Yellow gloved player in your mental cabaret
Your belly up deuces are leaden and gray.
- Karen Chamisso

Lawrence's Etruscans

  I re-read Women in Love a couple of years ago and thought, I’m out of patience with Lawrence. Then… Then, visiting my in-law in Montpellie...