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Showing posts from October 1, 2023

michael lewis agonistes

  I have long liked Michael Lewis for one thing: the long essay he wrote after Hurricane Katrina about coming back to New Orleans. In that essay, he defended Nola from the foxification, that is, the racist demonization, that excused the inexcusable U.S. neglect of one of the world's great cities. So, I felt I owe him one. Well, now the debt is paid. He "embeds' himself with SBF - already a vile and emptyheaded move for a reporter - and then gives us a portrait of a true privileged monster, a man who mistakes intelligence for the mastery of a few video games. A man with no ethics, no organization, and an insatiable greed. Who is his "hero". Whose innoncence, as he put it on Sixty minutes, is a thing he wants to communicate to the jury. Michael Lewis is not, of course, the only one. The NYT coverage of SBF has leaned over backwards to tell his tale. This is a story of backstage image management that could only be explained by the fact that the parents of the involv

Who is Hamlet to him, or him to Hamlet?

The vogue for Hamlet in the 1920s is, I think, of piece with the culture of the 1920s: the wounded modernity of it all, from the Jazz age drinkers in New York city speakeasies to the characters in Aldous Huxley’s Point Counterpoint, etc. World War I showed the great and unspeakable harm of yoking together advanced technology and the senile intellection of the ruling class. The 1920s were despised, later, by people like Wyndham Lewis and reactionaries of all kinds partly due to its unstable mixture of deep mourning and sexual release. Which was the perfect mood in which to read The Waste Land, or to compose it. Eliot was producing a lot in the twenties, in order to supplement an income from the bank he worked at that would have been more than ample for another middle manager (500 pounds a year). But Tom and Viv pursued lifestyles that made more money a necessity. Besides, the Eliot of the time was overflowing with ideas. Which is why his essay on Hamlet, the one in which he deplored su

philosophy as worry

  Philosophers are all rather proud of Aristotle’s notion that philosophy begins in “wonder” – it seems such a superior birth, so disinterested, so aristocratically outside the tangle of pleb emotions.   For these reasons, that origin story has, for the most part, been more interpreted than questioned.   It is, of course, hard to get clear on these things, which depend on self-reporting. Stories that one tells about oneself are, prima facie, self-interested.   Myself, my “philosophical” thinking has its roots more in worry than in wonder. Worry about the dark. Worry about abandonment.   Worry about money. Worry about sex. Worry about the parents, the kids, the growing old, the decline of empire, boredom, and the absence of the hosts of promised angels after you graduate from whatever it is you are graduating from.   Worry, of course, is socially gendered female. Worry is the knitting, it is mom, not stoic dad, wondering on the lawn.   Questions can be treated as inn