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Archive for January 2008

not sure we talk enough about this guy

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…who seems to be the real deal, no? This ain’t Celebrutantes for the Vaguely Understood that he gets himself tangled up in.

Danny Glover has been convicted in Niagara Falls, Ontario, for trespassing in a hotel during a union rally in 2006.

Glover, who wasn’t in court, was convicted Thursday along with UNITE
HERE union representative Alex Dagg and Ontario Federation of Labour
President Wayne Samuelson.

The 60-year-old Glover took part in the protest as part of a larger campaign that aims to
increase salaries and improve working conditions for hotel workers in
the U.S. and Canada.

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January 25, 2008 at 7:44 am

you gotta watch yr metaphors, helicopter ben

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Lots of ill-omen and bad-history to navigate in our lexical sea…

It’s interesting to note that in the original speech which earned Bernanke his handle, he discusses both the helicopter drop of broad-based tax cuts and the possibility of governmental investment (unto even nationalization of assets?) as possible remedies to a deflationary spiral. But no one ever calls him Comrade Ben – I wonder why not.

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January 22, 2008 at 11:19 am

Posted in markets, metaphor

writers (lefters?) block

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Nothing new, I suppose.

My opinion is that the left is not able to offer a true alternative
to global capitalism. Yes, it is true that ‘capitalism will not be
around for ever’ (it is the advocates of the new politics of resistance
who think that capitalism and the democratic state are here to stay);
it will not be able to cope with the antagonisms it produces. But there
is a gap between this negative insight and a basic positive vision. I
do not think that today’s candidates – the anti-globalisation movement
etc – do the job.

So what are we to do? Everything possible (and
impossible), just with a proper dose of modesty, avoiding moralising
self-satisfaction. I am aware that when the left builds a protest
movement, one should not measure its success by the degree to which its
specific demands are met: more important than achieving the immediate
target is the raising of critical awareness and finding new ways to
organise. However, I don’t think this holds for protests against the
war in Iraq, which fitted all too smoothly the space allotted to
‘democratic protests’ by the hegemonic state and ideological order.
Which is why they did not, even minimally, scare those in power.
Afterwards, both government and protesters felt smug, as if each side
had succeeded in making its point.

I agree, I guess. But maybe we need to enter into a pact to sit quietly and not speak or write until we’ve come up with even the tiniest “basic positive vision.” Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, at least at the moment, etc etc.

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January 22, 2008 at 8:55 am


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go read jane dark now!

Kala might be thought of as an attempt to destroy the softimism of world music™. Hands up guns out — represent now world town. The album moves past the bubbly syncretism of Arular; goes looking for beat and a form and a hook for the enraged new world and finds a proliferation of each, which is its wonder. Listening to “Bird Flu,” one has to suspect Maya’s been reading (or reading about) Monster at Our Door, the Mike Davis conjecture about the eventual arrival of deadly H5N1 influenza at America’s doorstep. It’s the exact kind of thing that Brooklyn sharpies who are also expats twisted on geo-social hard times like to read on trans-oceanic flights. You listen to the nervous squawks and fearsome, irresistible clatter of the track and you think, that’s not a song, that’s a revenge fantasy. And quite brilliantly, it locates blowback not in the romantic figure of some lone terrorist, but in global structure itself: terror as an inevitable outcome of evil voodoo poured relentlessly into the world-system. In Davis’s account, bird flu when it arrives won’t be an exotic catastrophe we couldn’t predict, but America’s bad faith returned to it after a mutating tour of the planet of slums, the world-ghetto. Funny thing is, that describes Kala exactly.

Always just about ready to give up on the form, and then somebody (often enough jane dark) writes something like this.

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January 21, 2008 at 6:40 am


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I’ve read an astounding amount of Don DeLillo in the last two weeks – more than is healthy. White Noise, Mao II, Libra, and I’m just this short of finishing Underworld. My first time through for many of these, somehow. I’ve loved all of it except for White Noise, which I’ve read many times before. In fact, I sort of detest White Noise, and while it’s clear why, I’ve been trying to come up with a concise term to explain my antipathy.

Came this morning. There is nothing that I hate more in American fiction than the zany. OK – that’s a bit too much. But do you know what I mean when I say that? Underworld is not zany; Libra isn’t either; White Noise is nothing but. Almost nothing but – there are a few good spots – but even these are tinged with it.

Pynchon is zany through and through, and that’s why I don’t like him. Most of the obsolescent “postmodern” novelists are zany.

David Foster Wallace is very, very zany – zany to the max – but for some reason I can tolerate him at times. Not Infinite Jest – whose very title proclaims the zane right from the book shelf – but Oblivion was quite good. I’ll have to think about why this is so…

This is zany too, and it goes down a bit easier than the print equivalent.

But I’d be probably pretty gaggy were I to get the same in a film about the current or recent police actions. This, for instance, bothers. Not just this scene in particular, but the whole of the film.

The word zany comes from the Italian for, what is it, zanni or zanno, the servant character in commedia dell’arte. And there is something servile about it, something no man’s a hero to their valet, and everyone’s a valet, so throw the Beach Boys on the car radio and roll with it. But there aren’t servants in America, right? So…

Oof. Sorry about that picture. Scares me too. It’s a zanni, or a christmas-treasure statuette of one, available at the website that kindly stamped their image with their addy.

Anyway, sorry, free-associating away, priming the pumps toward full on blog return. But perhaps these are initial notes toward a project on the politico-aesthetics of the turn to and away from the zany. Featured topics will include psychedelia, pranksterism, Kurt Vonnegut (not that I’ll read it or anything, but I’m sure it’ll come up, and the hickup or hangup or tic that makes a candycolored mash (or M.A.S.H.) of grave things like war. Oh, and said project will also take up whatever has replaced the zany here and now, which is the unnamable thing that informs sentences like the following:

Barring a nuclear war or a full-scale economic collapse due to climate change, robot sex is very likely in the cards. (Flak Magazine)

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January 15, 2008 at 8:01 am

Posted in america, novel