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Showing posts from April 9, 2023

The Underground Reader

  There is a certain type of reader – the Jew in Europe, the African-American in the States,etc. – whose relationship to literature, to the great novels, essays and poems, is mediated by the humiliations inflicted even by the so called great writers on the Jew and the African-American, etc. in image and abstract; humiliations that are often casual, often astonishing low points in their writing, byproducts of a certain conformism to social norms, an overlooking or blindness to historical injustices, of the thoughtless acceptance of accumulated capital’s accumulated suffering. Here is a puzzle: the author, that distant and yet intimate source of the text, becomes for the reader a problem of the reader’s own complicity in humiliation: hopeful that the higher liberalism will win out, the reader, this extraterritorial reader, this reader who finds, in the community of readers, that he or she is not included in the general “we” of the gentle reader, finds themselves in an ethical dilemm

You say you wanna revolution - so stuff it up your ass

  Liberation today has four or five pages about the situation of the opposition in France. Le Pen's fascists are gaining in the polls, the left, on the other hand, is doing their crumbling act. Macron's Apres moi le deluge is going to bear fruit, at this rate, in a French government much like Italy's. Fascism. In our screwy post cold war view of history, fascism was defeated in 1945. But actually, the U.S. helped fascism survive into the seventies, and it had a strong presence all around the Meditteranean the 60s, with Greece, Spain, Portugal and Turkey all having more or less fascist governments. Adenauer's government full of the far right or worse. One notices that this was also the time of the revival of the Left - in Germany and in France in the seventies - and the second wave of economic reforms that made life better for the working class majority. Everybody has their diagnosis. Mine, to be brief, is that the "left" is caught in the rhetoric that success

Jesus, Salome and playing the dozens

  Yesterday, it being Easter, we read the account of Jesus’s resurrection in Mark. Mark is not my favorite gospel, but I like the rawness. I like the side references to witnesses, as though Jesus was seen as a fait divers, a story in True Detective.   Mark’s is truly the tabloid gospel, and it has a tabloid ending, complete with various provincial, cultish promises by the risen Jesus. For instance, that you can take up snakes and they won’t bite you – which is not exactly the most useful quality one can imagine –   that you can heal the sick and cast out demons – which is again a nice thing, but not exactly cosmically important - and that anyone who doesn’t believe is condemned. On the whole, Mark’s story seems to just miss the occasion. This time, I read the names of the women who come to the tomb and find the rock rolled away and realised how strange they are. “ When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoi

Marat and the underground

  Création difforme de la société, Fille sourde de cette mère aveugle. Lie de ce pressoir, Marat c’est le mal souffert devenu le mal vengeur… " - Victor Hugo Of all those revolutionary lives in the 1790s, Marat's has the most symbolic narrative arc -- a hider in the sewers, a brief triumph over his enemies, the moderate Girondists, a death in the bathtub, apotheosis in David's famous picture. Its symbolic perfection is exploited both by those who find Marat a saint and those who find him an ogre. To Taine, he was obviously insane with delusions of gradeur – le delire ambitieux.  To his Marxist biographer, Earnest Belfort Bax, he was, as he entitled himself, the “people’s friend,” although untutored in the ways of class – a transitional figure, in short,  which nineteenth century Marxists loved the way Darwinians loved fossils of mammoths and pygmy horses. I think he is a prototype of that essentially modern figure, the Underground Man. After all, he literally did hide