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Showing posts from May 7, 2023

Critical criticism after my dejeuner

  1. There is a famous passage in Marx and Engel’s Germany Ideology, which was written in 1846, set aside, and published in 1932. It reads: “For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic. “ There are two schools of interpretation about this passage. One reads it as a genuine attempt to imagin

Institutional malingering: something is rotten in the States

  In the British Medical Journal, September 13, 1913, John Collie, M.D., J.P., authored   a note on “Malingering”, which he connected, like any sensible English utilitarian, with the recent debate about the costs of some sort of National Insurance – just the kind of taxpayer fund that the working class would target with all their illnesses: “The question of feigning or exaggerating illnesses has of late attraced considerable attention in this country, but it is a mistake to suppose that the condition is of recent origin. Those who have to advise insurance companies know that exaggerated and fraudulent claims are, at any rate, as old as the accident laws.” Malingering became one of those twentieth century occasions to battle it out about what, exactly, we are to do with diseases of the soul, once we have painlessly and scientifically proven that the soul doesn’t exist. Tricky, that. I think the twenty first century problem is not the malingering of individual patients: it is the m

The gerontocratic spectacle

  When Charles was on the brink of thirty, he made a speech to the Cambridge Union in which he said: My great problem in life is that I do not really know what my role in life is.’  The coronation, which I saw – to the length that any tv watcher could stand it – was in line with that statement. I don’t think I have seen a tv spectacle that was at once so “spectacular” and so heart numbingly boring since the great OJ chase of the nineties, when television discovered that large numbers of people would watch hours of traffic as long as it was accompanied by commentary and celebrity. OJ, at least, in his prime, did experience beauty. Watching documentaries of his great time as a running back for the Buffalo Bills, even a non-fan of the game such as myself could see that here was twentieth century art, to put up against any ballet or modern dance. The OJ who was chased, the bloodstained golfer and future author of If I Did It, was the aftermath of that transcendence – a flat figure, a N