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Showing posts from March 19, 2023

Illegitimacy in France: Macron's bossism

  You can hear the cop cars at night. Distant booms. In the morning, there are ashes on the sidewalk and the street. Practically, the 49,3 regime has reposed its awesome littleness in the hands of the Minister of the Interior, a man named Gérald Darmanin. A man born out of time - he would certainly have flourished in the good old days, circa 1943, 1944. A rightwinger pur et dur, he has been stirring up his forces to do their utmost - illegitimately hassling demonstrators in all four corners of the Hexagon. You can smell the illegitimacy. It smells like smoke and tear gas. Macron always goes below the line that you have drawn in your head - surely he couldn't be that arrogant, that blind, that clueless? Yet this product of a thousand McKinsey position papers always comes out with the boss-ist position, like a vending machine always comes out with the chewing gum when you put in the dollar in change. Unless something jams. It is a bit of a mistake to look for comparisons in politics

poem by K. Chamisso

Oh poet without portfolio! In the raplines of this city Cell phone to cell phone You seek some operator’s voice.   Control without purpose, purpose without heart Out of the stones themselves some grotesque starts To urge us to turn turn turn again And change our stone stare into Something living and lost. But the wire in our ear is inexorable And we’ve forgotten what we meant to say.

The plutocrat problem, or What Macron hopes to accomplish by lowering the quality of French life

 The paradox of the plutocracy can be x-rayed by the simple application of marginal utility theory. This theory differentiates between percentages of total sums of income and wealth. Thus, the quality of life that is diminished by taking away half the income of a person making 20,000 dollars a year is considerable – it would actually throw that person into poverty. The quality of life that is diminished, on the other hand, by taking away fifty percent of the income of someone who made 100 million dollars a year would be, on the contrary, zero. There would be no effect whatsoever on their housing, their nourishment, their entertainments, etc. When we extend this insight, we can see that the plutocrat might be abstractly satisfied by the state cutting their tax burden to zero, but in truth, this will not add to their quality of life. Which is why at a certain point in the money chain they switch to the quality of power. The quality of power of the French upper one percent has long be

manif sauvage

  I drifted down Rue de Temple around 9:45 last night. My goal was the Place de la Republique. I thought there might be an impromptu demonstration – a manif sauvage – there, if anywhere. When the censure was rejected and the “reform” became law, I felt that I had to see what was happening in the streets. I told A. that if I felt I was in some spot where the cops would target me – or demonstrators in general – that I would ghost. But in my neighborhood everything was just the same. We live, in the Marais, in a sort of cloud cuckoo land, where the garbage is still being picked up. The first indication that the night was going to be a little less calm came as I passed the park which is in front of the Mairie. On my left, there’s a little alley by a church, where usually there are a lot of homeless people camped. Out of the alley, suddenly, came a stream of running people. As I went farther and saw more clearly, I saw the cops, all geared in their Robo-wear, moving at a trot down the all

the living line, the unbearable genius of the self

  Marcel Schwob bel onged to the same fin de siècle generation as Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson, his colleagues on the other side of the channel, and Jules Renard and Felix Feneon, the great art critic and anarchist terrorist. He, like RLS, and his friend Renard, was not destined for the long life on the pedestal – which makes it appropriate that one of his best known works, Imaginary Lives, is full of praise of John Aubrey’s Brief Lives. It is hard for me to read the introduction of Imaginary Lives and not think of Borges, who, like Schwob, separated the paradox from the apology. In the Western tradition, or at least the high church version of it, paradox has an essential and divine place: to believe in an absurdity is a surrender wreathed in cosmic drama. But if the absurdity does not induce belief, what we are left with is paradox itself, as an aesthetic and ethical object and ploy. Schwob’s paradox, in the Imaginary Lives, is that biography stumbles aesthetically when it