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Archive for March 2009

hard time with time off

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In the course of my appointment this morning, I was asked whether it is the work itself that I want or something that the work will in turn give or grant me, somehow obtain for me. Something else, harder and declarative rather than interrogative, later, at the very end, left me reeling. But the first question is a good question.

So after I’m out on the street in Marylebone. I talk on the phone for a bit, and consider sitting at one of the coffee places on Baker Street, on Marylebone Road, on Marylebone High Street, but decide instead to walk toward Euston Station. It is a pleasant walk. I do it when I can, and have done it recently. You skirt the bottom of Regent’s Park – if you want you can turn in and look for Septimus and Rezia and draw the wrong conclusions like Peter Walsh does when he sees them there in Dalloway. Wrong conclusions that are also right, or right ones that are wrong.

I make my way along Marylebone Road until it turns into Euston Road, and there I stop at a Starbucks – again, one that I’ve stopped at before very recently, the one across from Warren Street Station. The plaza outside is like a tiny version of the giant plaza at the foot of the World Trade Center, when there was a World Trade Center.

At Starbucks, I write a poem. I start inside and then change to an outside table so that I can have another cigarette. Here’s what I came up with, a draft, a draft, barely more than a scribble….

The Tool

The lopper’s heart of hard black plastic,
the hinge it swings its fingers on,
cold forged in diecast mold in China
and bonded to last a lifetime long,
has worn itself to crack and splinter
under the fist grip force you daily bring.

Before the seller even asks them,
you know just what his questions are:
“Did you use your tool appropriately?
Did you follow all the instructions? Can you
tell me all that happened in the seconds
before it buckled, bent, and finally broke?”

Whatever. Lines and punctuation all fucked up, yes, and things are rough in the second stanza. Lots to iron out there. Still I like the sound of the first bit and the general angle – the swing, the lop, as it were – of the thing. So I head home, but not before catching a glaring look from a woman at the next table as I read it over and over under my breath.

I do not read on the ride home. I stare. As I sit, there’s occcassionally a warm frizz of homecoming, an anticipation of the shower I’m about to have, the sun shining through the kitchen window as I eat my lunch.

Back in North London, the front door catches on an Amazon box. It’s Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. After Hi to my wife – she’s busy writing, writing – I read the first few pages of the novel before I have a shower.

It starts with a character named Jeff (not Geoff) in Marylebone. He mutters to himself on the street before stopping in to a Patisserie Valerie on Marylebone High Street. Jeff is a writer, seemingly less successful than his author, though not entirely unsuccessful. He is working on a piece, or not working on it.

In the shower, I think about writing a post, this post. At lunch, my wife reheats me some pizza, the leftovers of a kid-sized pizza. I lay the peri peri sauce on thickly but carefully.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 31, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Posted in me

photoessayer (v.)

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Was just looking at triple canopy’s issue #5, which is devoted mostly to photoessays and videoessays. Worth looking at… good choice for a theme, no? I wonder why the photoessay is so persuasive as a form, all of a sudden.

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March 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Posted in photoessay

in boxes

with one comment

Nice photospread in Saturday’s FT by Michael Wolf, who “used a telephoto lens to take a surreptitious look behind the façades of Chicago’s international-style architectural gems, he fantasised he would see ‘thrilling things,'” but found of course only banal working and more working….

Also worth looking at the pocket history of the office cubicle that comes at the end of this week’s magazine…

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March 30, 2009 at 12:31 pm

lucky i came through when i did, i am

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I knew this already from the trouble that some people I’m trying to help through the Ph.D. application process are having this year, but here it is in html at Inside Higher Ed:

But there is a notable exception: Several colleges have recently announced that, regardless of application quality, they plan to admit fewer Ph.D. students for this coming fall than were admitted a year ago. The economics of doctoral education are different enough from those of other programs that some universities’ doctoral classes will be taking a significant hit, with potential ramifications down the road for the academic job market, the availability of teaching assistants, and the education of new professors.

Emory University plans a 40 percent cut in the number of new Ph.D. students it will enroll this fall. Columbia University is planning a 10 percent cut. Brown University has called off a planned increase in Ph.D. enrollments. The University of South Carolina is considering a plan to have some departments that have admitted doctoral students every year shift to an every-other-year system. These cuts are exclusively for Ph.D. programs. Terminal master’s programs and professional school programs are generally being encouraged to fill their classes; those programs are of course ones in which many universities assume students will pay most or all costs themselves, using loans as needed.

As someone who got into my Ph.D. program off of the “wait list” – and in the year of what was apparently the best (non-academic) job market in world history, 1999, when you had to be insane to take a $13,000 stipend rather than a ridiculous $100,000 job generating “content” for some “new media” outfit or other – I have a hard time fantasizing that I would have made it through the grinder if I’d been a prospective research student now. Lucky I am – don’t think I don’t know it.

You know, those of us who made it through just before the barndoor slammed shut might want to think about things that might be done to aid those still in the pipeline as the shit hit the fan. No one’s got lots of money to throw around… But I wonder what sorts of things might be done, our departments might do, hmmm…. I don’t have any specific ideas yet, but it’d be worth thinking about so as to prevent a “lost generation” effect from happening.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 30, 2009 at 10:06 am

Posted in academia

design thru the mailslot this morning: the new iht

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I received an email from the publisher of the IHT last week warning me that my paper would look a bit different on Monday. And I must admit, as I lazed and dozed this morning, there was a little jolt of Xmas morning excitement when I rememebered what was waiting for me at the foot of the mailslot.

They’ve changed the font of both the masthead and the body text to resemble that of the mother-paper, the New York Times. The redesign as a whole is a deferred outcome of the fact that the paper used to be a joint operation of the NYT and the Washington Post until the former took over sole ownership in 2007. So this is a step towards the final rebranding of the paper into the global edition of the Times, rather than a curious hybrid of an independent international paper filled with its own content plus a crosscut of materials from two papers at home.

Looks a lot lighter and graphicalistical throughout. Especially in this land of content-light newspapers, the IHT always felt like you were reading a paper designed to maximize the amount of newsstuff per page, the equivalent of the whole NYT but crushed into twelve pages designed to make it by air efficiently to Kuala Lumpur or Montevideo. It’s always felt a bit like eating something that looked on the outside like a croissant, but left you feeling like you ate a loaf of bread by the time you were done. We’ll have to see if we feel as full when we’re done with the new one.

They’ve added more business opinion and dropped business numbers, which is only the fulfillment of a trend across the industry. The sports section has grown from two pages to three, but I’m not sure, again, they’ve added comment so much as spread it out more evenly over the pages.

Above all else, they’ve kept the crossword. Phew. I’ll have a nice opportunity later today to check if that’s any clearer and simpler and easier. Let’s hope not.

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March 30, 2009 at 10:00 am

Posted in news

“I won’t have seen the ‘kiki’ of a single Chinese man.” (reading the weekend papers)

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Trying to unwind as my term’s now over – the busiest term I’ve ever had by a mile – I’ve been reading the papers this weekend. Lots of stuff to point out to you:

1. Terrific long piece in the NYT today by Nicolai Ouroussoff featuring ideas for urban investment in America. Concrete (mmm) ideas here about both what sort of projects might be taken up, and even better a suggestion toward the end about how the funding might work:

I am also a fan of a National Infrastructure Bank, an idea that was first proposed by the financiers Felix Rohatyn and Everett Ehrlich.

The bank would function something like a domestic World Bank, financing large-scale undertakings like subways, airports and harbor improvements. Presumably it would be able to funnel money into the more sustainable, forward-looking projects. It could also establish a review process similar to the one created by the government’s General Services Administration in the mid-1990s, which attracted some of the country’s best talents to design federal courthouses and office buildings. Lavishing similar attention on bridges, pump stations, trains, public housing and schools would not only be a significant step in rebuilding a sense of civic pride; it would also prove that our society values the public infrastructure that binds us together as much as it values, say, sheltering the rich.

2. A little snippet appeared in the Saturday Guardian’s “This Week in Books” column that, had I missed it, might well have seriously messed up some writing I will do in the near future.

These days, the Parisian intellectual is commonly seen on both sides of the Channel as a species on the fast track to extinction. But there are still enough of these old dinosaurs roaming the Left Bank to cause a noisy literary scandal. This is what happened after the recent publication of two journals by Roland Barthes, the philosopher and critic who died in 1980. The publishers of Carnets du Voyage en Chine (“Notebooks of a Journey to China”) and Journal de Deuil (“Diary of Mourning”) have been attacked because these unfinished texts were never meant for publication and allegedly reveal intimate secrets about Barthes’s private life. His admirers are arguing loudly that these secrets undermine his authority as a thinker.

It’s true that the China book places Barthes closer to Russell Brand than his more high-minded peers. The diary of a “fact-finding” trip to China that Barthes made in the company of like-minded Mao fans in 1974, it begins with the author moaning Pooterishly about the airline food and a stain on his new trousers. The tour is a dreary round of ping-pong matches and choir-singing. Not surprisingly, on a trip to see Buddhist statues in Henan province, the author’s attention wanders. Contemplating his imminent return to Paris, he laments: “I won’t have seen the ‘kiki’ of a single Chinese man.”

The novelist Philippe Sollers – a fellow traveller on the expedition in every sense – has been quick to defend Barthes’s point of view here as “heroically political”, a comment on sexual repression in Mao’s China. Others have been less kind, pointing out that the word “kiki” is rarely used by anyone of either sex over the age of 11. The veteran wit Raphaël Sorin has likened the text to an unworthy parody. Angriest of all is Barthes’s former editor François Wahl, who has launched a fierce attack on the publishers and talked of a betrayal of the real Barthes.

Barthes’s 1974 trip to China is going to be a pivotal moment in the monograph I’m going to write after I finally finish my dissertation book. Luckily, the above doesn’t at all contradict the thing that I’m going to say about it. No, rather, it’s, um, material confirmation of just what I was thinking. Good…

3. Also in the Guardian‘s Saturday review was a fine piece by Brian Dillon on Chris Marker’s La Jetée of 1962 and Marker’s career as a whole. Here’s La Jetée, in case you’ve never seen it….

4. Lots of reviews of Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, including this one. Just ordered it after a valiant attempt to purchase said volume the honorable way at my local (and largely useless) bookseller. So that makes the grand total for the weekend (ugh this is bad): the Dyer novel, the new Paul Muldoon, the Barthes bit on China, Marker’s Immemory DVD, Harold Pinter’s Plays (Vol. 2), Dyer’s The Ongoing Moment, Xiaolu Guo’s 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth (I like Chinese fiction, like stories about “making it in China,” especially like reading them now that the entire machine is running in reverse.) I was also given The Watchmen, Chekhov’s Plays, and an edition of Longinus (I think I was given the last two – Pollian left them on the desk in the guestroom when he departed…) Jesus. I always do this at the start of the summer. I don’t, per se, read during the school year, so there’s this spike of ambition that happens and I buy a shitload of books.

5. Where did the Guardian’s Saturday “Writers’ Room” feature go? I can’t imagine that they’re discontinuing it. Here’s the one for Dyer, while we’re on the subject, from a little ways back. (As a Canadian national – CANUSA dual citizen – I was seriously thrown by the “Don Cherry” thing in that article… Is he once of us, I thought? But it must be another Don Cherry, right… Just to keep things clear, I’m going to put a photo of the real DC over my desk at the university the next time I’m there…) Anyway, maybe they’re just taking the week off with the feature – or they’ve run out of writers to call up and annoy. I think I’m especially fascinated by these rooms lately because (as I’ve grumbled about many times) I don’t have a writers’ room of my own. I’ve included an image of my, erm, workspace before, and here’s one of my current home library:

6. IT’s not a newspaper, but she has posted a very good paper by Jeff Kinkle and Alberto Toscano on The Wire. More to say on this when I have time….

7. This “op-art” in the NYT by Miranda Purves and Jason Logan is worth looking at….

In the weeks before the M.T.A. vote, the artist Jason Logan and I spent a lot of time on the buses and subways that, unless the state steps in with a last-minute rescue package, will soon be gone or severely cut back. We met people whose jobs or health depended on their routes; we met some who simply didn’t want to walk far in the cold. Many — and it seemed often those most dependent — were unaware that their means of transportation could disappear.

Both Jason and I have always been drawn to this phenomenon of people, behaving for the most part civilly, getting from here to there, side by side. And we wanted to find some way to convey the less tangible costs of service cuts and fare hikes. Here (pdf), large X’s are adults; small x’s are children.

8. An interesting piece in the Observer today by Tristram Hunt on the long history of attacking banks here in London. I doubt I’ll make it out to any of the fun, wish I could, wish I could….

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March 29, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Posted in barthes, criticism

lotta lotta money

with 8 comments

From a feature in the Independent today on Alain de Botton:

He is unusual, among writers, in not having to worry about working at all. His father, Gilbert de Botton, moved to Switzerland from Egypt as head of Rothschild Bank, and then founded Global Asset Management in 1983. He sold it in 1999 for £420m, leaving young Alain (who turns 40 this year) a trust fund of £200m. He doesn’t use the money, preferring to live by his writing – but he admits that the soul-sapping tedium of the modern workplace is not something he really understands. His first book, Essays in Love, was published when he was 23 and still “pretending to do a PhD”. His books are successful enough that fish packing has never beckoned.

Not sure, but I’m guessing that this might just make AdB the richest writer in the history of the world. There are exchange rate issues to figure out, but can you think of another candidate?

BTW, seems ever more clear that IT basically framed the reception of this book with her early post on it.

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March 27, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

constrained time

with 9 comments

busdriver reading at finsbury park

So I’m going to be writing a piece this summer for a very nice collection indeed (I’ll be the guy readers are like “who the fuck?” when they check the table of contents) on the theme of, well, urban waiting, on the sort of waiting that happens in cities. So, yes, Lefebvre-type constrained time, definitely: bus stops, underground trips, the walk to work. But not just that, not just that at all, as that’s been worked over quite a lot and there’s probably more interesting forms of waiting out there to discuss.

(Oh, and it’s supposed to be a personal essay cum lit crit and history type paper. Yum. Maybe even with photographs. Double yum. There’s a question in this regard at the very bottom of my post, so if you’d rather not read, would rather write, skip to the very bottom…)

For instance, there’s the implicit waiting that is the flipside of the shock, the event, in Baudelaire’s “A une passante,” the waiting that’s condensed in the imparfaitness of the first line: La rue assourdissante autour de moi hurlait. How long has he been standing there? How long as the street been roaring? How long do you have to stand around on a street corner before you get an un éclair? That sort of thing.

“Un éclair… puis la nuit!” The evental moment passes so quickly that there’s not even time for verbs. All the rest is waiting, compositional and retrospective waiting.

And then there’s my absolute favorite moment of literary urban waiting. Forgive me, a long quotation from a shady on-line translation is coming. It’s the bit of Flaubert’s L’Education Sentimentale when Frederic is waiting for Madame Arnoux to show up while at the same time the revolution of 1848 is starting up just around the corner.

It was the students’ column which had just arrived on the scene. They marched at an ordinary walking pace, in double file and in good order, with angry faces, bare hands, and all shouting at intervals :

” Long live Reform ! Down with Guizot ! ”

Frederick’s friends were there, sure enough. They would have seen him and dragged him along with them. He quickly sought refuge in the Rue de l’Arcade.

When the students had taken two turns round the Madeleine, they went in the direction of the Place de la Concorde. It was full of people ; and, at a distance, the crowd pressed close together, had the appearance of a field of dark ears of corn swaying to and fro.

At the same moment, some soldiers of the line ranged themselves in battle-array at the left-hand side of the church.

The groups remained standing there, however. In order to scatter them, some police-officers in civilian dress seized the most riotous in a brutal fashion, and carried them off to the guard-house. Frederic, in spite of his indignation, remained silent ; he feared being arrested along with the others, and thus missing Madame Arnoux.

A little while afterward the helmets of the Municipal Guards appeared. They kept striking about them with the flat side of their sabres. A horse fell. The people made a rush forward to save him, and as soon as the rider was in the saddle, they all ran away.

Then there was a great silence. The thin rain, which had moistened the asphalt, was no longer fall- ing. Clouds floated past, gently swept on by the wind.

Frederic began running through the Rue Tronchet. looking before and behind him*

At length it struck two o’clock.

” Ha ! now is the time ! ” said he to himself. ” She is leaving her house; she is approaching,” and a minute after, ” she has had plenty of time to be here.”

Up to three he tried to keep quiet. ” No, she is not going to be late a little patience ! ”

And for want of something to do he examined the most interesting shops that he passed a bookseller’s, a saddler’s and a mourning ware-house. Soon he knew the names of the different books, the various kinds of harness, and every sort of material. The persons who were in attendance in these establishments, from seeing him continually going to and fro, were at first surprised, and then alarmed, and finally they closed up their shop-fronts.

No doubt she had met with some obstacle, and must be enduring pain at the delay. But what de- light would be afforded in a very short time ! For she would come that was certain. ” She has given me her promise ! ” In the meantime an intolerable feeling of anxiety was gradually seizing hold of him. Impelled by an absurd idea, he returned to his hotel, as if he expected to find her there. At the same mo- ment, she might have reached the street in which their meeting was to take place. He rushed out. There was no one. And he resumed his tramp up and down the footpath.

He stared at the gaps in the pavement, the mouths of the gutters, the candelabra, and the numbers above the doors. The most trifling objects became for him companions, or rather, ironical spectators, and the uniform fronts of the houses seemed to him to have a pitiless aspect. He was suffering from cold feet. He felt as if he were about to succumb to the dejection which was crushing: him. The reverberation of his footsteps vibrated through his brain as he tramped to and fro.

When he saw by his watch that it was four o’clock, he experienced, as it were, a sense of vertigo, a feeling of despair. He tried to repeat some verses to him- self, to make a calculation, no matter of what sort, to invent some kind of story. Impossible ! He was beset by the image of Madame Arnoux ; he felt a longing to run in order to meet her. But what road ought he to take so that they might not pass each other?

He went up to a messenger, put five francs into his hand, and told him to go to the Rue de Paradis to Jacques Arnoux’s residence and inquire ” if Madame were at home.” Then he took up his post at the corner of the Rue de la Ferme and of the Rue Tronchet, so as to be able to look down both of them at the same time. On the boulevard, in the background of the scene before him, confused masses of people were gliding past. He could distinguish, every now and then, the aigrette of a dragoon or a woman’s hat ; and he strained his eyes in an effort to recognise the wearer. A child in rags, exhibiting a jack-in-the-box, asked him, with a smile, for alms.

The man with the velvet vest reappeared. ” The porter had not seen her going out.” What had kept her in? If she were ill he would have been told about it. Was it a visitor? Nothing was easier than to say that she was not at home. He struck his forehead.

” Ah ! I am stupid ! Of course, this political outbreak prevented her from coming ! “

Mmmm. Yes. I was going to attend the G-20 festival of media-anticipated ultraviolence next week until I remembered that I might be having a kid, any day now, and my services could well be required at home.

But here’s the big question for all of you: do you have a favorite episode of literary or filmic urban waiting? I think, per the Flaubert, I am most (but not exclusively) interested in scenes of waiting that are bound up with sexual or romantic frustration: waiting for the lover, waiting because there’s no venue for love, that sort of thing. Or perhaps scenes of waiting, like those that I’ve described above, that seem to undercut or satirize the political event.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 27, 2009 at 12:01 am

Posted in cities, waiting

erected and/or/yet/but infected

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Our erected wit maketh us know what perfection is, and yet our infected will keepeth us from reaching unto it.

Philip Sidney, In Defence of Poesy

Is just so in all the cases that matter, this. Including, though not most pertinently perhaps, poesy considered very broadly.

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March 26, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Posted in poetry

notes on / from the sensual man-in-the-street

with 16 comments

Blunted by mass-circulation at various points during our own low dishonest decade, Auden’s “September 1, 1939” nonetheless still has the power to raise my hackles, give me the cold shivers and the warm shakes all at once. Here’s some from the middle:

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

The best things, poetry or otherwise, veer just this way toward the peripheral parts of sense, the receding focal point, the dim heart of reason. What does the solipsism of love, the egotism of desire, have to do with the war, with the invasion of Poland? You’d have to be insane (insanely solipsistic, insanely egotistical) to think so, right? What a drawback of reasonableness in that turn from “universal love” to the next. What is Auden doing in the dive? Why is he drinking? Why is he “uncertain and afraid”?

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
‘I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,’
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Ah listen to the way that the credos of the second of these stanzas repeat (syntactically, metrically, ideologically but with a slant) those in the first. “I will be true to my wife” twists into “There is no such thing as the State.”

The trick turn in the poem is what he does with the everyday. The previous masters of the everyday haunted by the outside, the wars raging at the margins, only got this halfway. Here the turn is total – the poem forgets itself, its origin, in the flipside, the real deal of chaining neurosis, repetitive speech-to-the-self. It is answering questions that no one has asked; it cannot seem to shut itself up.

The poem suggests parallelism or co-determination, but I’m not sure it’s that, I’m sure it’s meant to be heard as a false affiliation. The commuters’ fidelity or infidelity has nothing to do with what’s happening in Poland, what’s on the radio in the bar. Rather, the poem is performing the inwardness of the everyday, it’s suggesting the half-pious connections, the personal penances that we perform. I have seen, in the last few months, people give up booze in solidarity with the Gazans. I have read about the pledging of orgasms to the French General Strikes. Jokes or serious, there is a spot of truth expressed, almost vicariously, by these things. A truth about perspective, the way we run our worlds and run away from our worlds.

But…. on the other hand, one knows what Auden means, right? “We must love one another or die.” Too pat, way too pat. We are meant to hear it as pat. But we also know what he means, prismatically untangling himself in the bar, with the radio on, on fifty-second street.

A few stanzas ago, those buildings were proclaiming “The strength of Collective Man.” They were reshaped, pressed into service. Now they are sexually offensive, overbearing – they touch what they are not asked to touch.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Ah a trick break. The same is the “Eros and dust” but not. It is the “Negation and despair.” Or both. Syntactically both. One set material yet metaphorical, poetic, anthopomorphic, the other abstract yet real, too distant, yet right. And it’s all couched in a passive-aggressive (but who is the aggression directed against? Who is the target?) unreasonably long extension – the wish, the “May I,” gets lost in itself, in the resistances that it wishes against.

There is no connection between the aspiration to let go of the “loved alone” in favor of the universal and the onslaught of violence just started in middle Europe. That is to say, there is all the connection in the world.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 24, 2009 at 12:38 am

Posted in poetry

upstairs / downstairs

with 3 comments

Well, you know how we tell the kids not to rely on wikipedia when they write their papers? Maybe, following our advice, they’re missing out a bit.  I was just looking for a summary of the plot of Henry Green’s 1945 novel Loving for this insanely encyclopedic lecture that I’m giving tomorrow and found the following, which is the full entry for the novel on that site:

Loving is a 1945 novel by British writer Henry Green. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. Loving tells the story of the servants in Kinalty Castle, an upper-class Irish household during World War II.

In his 1975 memoir Here at The New Yorker, Brendan Gill relates that during a luncheon at the Ritz Hotel, New Yorker editor William Shawn asked Green what had led him to undertake the writing of Loving. Green replied, “I once asked an old butler in Ireland what had been the happiest time of his life. The butler replied, ‘Lying in bed on Sunday morning, eating tea and toast with cunty fingers.'”

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March 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Posted in novel


with 2 comments

If I could just figure out how to turn the computers and projectors on in my classrooms, I could have a lot of fun with this streetview stuff:

What’s strange is that I’ve walked past this house lots and lots of times. In fact, it’s a special street, a street that stands out from the rest around it for mysterious and non-mysterious reasons (the non-mysterious: because it runs right into Hampstead Heath, a particularly gorgeous part of it, the foot of Parliament Hill… I’ve shown you pictures before…)

Did I ever mention this to you? It’s rather nicely done. I wonder, though, what sorts of fun (but serious fun) of this sort one could have now that streetview’s come to London….

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March 23, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Posted in fiction


leave a comment »

Jack Womack, whose novels I really really like though I am hard to please when it comes to that genre, is guest-blogging at William Gibson’s site. Basically, he’s just posting images of books from his intimidatingly interesting library of sub-literary detritus. Go look!

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March 23, 2009 at 9:48 am

Posted in whatever


with 3 comments

Seen and snapped at the Corbusier exhibition at the Barbican yesterday afternoon.

Frequent commenter and old friend Pollian wondered whether the word conscience was right or whether it would have more properly been translated consciousness. Presuming the original was conscience, he’s probably right. It’s a rather important difference, no? I’ll have to take a look at the source when I get a chance…

Oh, there was also this, that I’m going to have to look into more deeply – especially the Philips connection:

(A little background at wikipedia on the poeme electronique…)

Otherwise, dear readers, this has been the most intense term of work I have ever experienced. Whittled right down to the bone I am. Spent today finishing a piece on the Communism Conference that was supposed to weigh-in at 1600 words, but is currently 3700 words. Erk! So tomorrow will be slashing and burning in the morning, followed by writing a lecture on something I know nothing about except things like this and this. (Can you figure out the lecture topic?) But term is over in five days and then I’ll undoubtedly start a summer of blogincessance, or something. Off for my nightly five n’ some…

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March 23, 2009 at 12:24 am

Posted in design, Uncategorized

communism conference videos

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There are a few videos from the Birkbeck Communism conference up on Youtube. Let’s hope the whole thing is up somewhere soon….

SZ refers back in this clip to one of my favorite bits of the conference, a section of his main paper about Haiti and Hegel (drawn from Susan Buck-Morss’s Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History – they shoulda invited S B-M, obviously!)

Something amazing, and a bit dispiriting, happens a few minutes later… No video of that yet so far.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 17, 2009 at 7:51 am

Posted in communism