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Archive for October 30th, 2009


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I like Mute – both the magazine and the website. But checked the site today and something’s gone wrong with their quality control. This piece by Daniel Miller is about as close to a pure distillation of subpar gradstudentese as one could imagine in one’s worst teacherly nightmare. It’s a sort of self-sokaling sendup of Benjaminian thetical writing, all breathless paragraphs that make less and less sense the slower you read them. For instance, check out this one:

The city of the future will resemble Lagos more closely than London. In his book Concrete Reveries, Mark Kingwell takes a page from Walter Benjamin, naming New York as capital of the 20th century, overtaking Paris, the capital of the 19th. At the peaks of their prominence, both the City of Light and The Seat of Empire (© George Washington, 1784) incarnated and symbolised planetary dreams. Every epoch dreams its successor. The destruction of the World Trade Center in September 2001 brought the era of New York’s unquestioned urban supremacy to a close. The North East blackout which descended on the city two years later represented the requiem. The economy runs on symbolic authority like a car runs on gas. In a matter of hours, world trade became hollow. Ground zero replaced the twin towers, creating the context for the recent financial crisis.

Now, if DM were my tutorial student, and thank god he’s not, we’d start with the fact that sentence two has absolutely nothing to do with sentence one. Further, does DM mean that New York “dreamed” Lagos? If so, how so? The destruction of the WTC had absolutely nothing to do with the unseating (if that’s in fact what has happened) of New York as center of the universe – if anything, it allowed for a momentary stabilization of the geographical dispersion of playpieces on the world board rather than the opposite. The northeast blackout has nothing to do with anything, other than permitting a recognition that the city’s a lot more civil than it once was. World trade became hollow? Did it? And in the wake of what, the destruction of the WTC or the blackout – as the organization of the paragraph suggests the latter, but that doesn’t make any sense at all. DM, in general, demonstrates zero understanding of the relationship (or lack thereof) of 9/11 to the financial crisis, which both started before the attacks and resumed in full force several years after them… The attacks themselves had absolutely nothing to do with the general trajectory of the American economy….

This is only one, almost randomly selected paragraph, in the course of an persistently incoherent piece. Come on Mute! You’re letting the side down when you publish stuff like this! And the absolutely precious author bio at the bottom of the piece is enough to make a regular reader gag!

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October 30, 2009 at 1:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

saisissez la dejection!

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If the militant dysphorics ever want a good picture for an event poster or a bookcover, I think I found l’image juste while walking in the Jardin du Luxembourg yesterday.

Step 2 seems especially relevant, no?

Just kidding. Seriously. But I did make myself laugh for a full 3-4 minutes after seeing, passing, returning, shooting, and then contemplating posting this sign.

(On another level, and I know you can do this with just about any set of instructions, but: hilarious to think that some bureaucrat thought that it’d be necessary to instruct les citoyens de Paris in the fine art of inside-out-poop-scooping. For years, I’d been grabbing the dogshit with my bare hand and then dropping it into the plastic bag! Thank you, municipal government, for the instructions that have kept my hands free of dogshit streaks and the accompanying unpleasant odor!)

Anyway. I’m sorry about the light blogging! I was away! But that’s not the whole story. I’m actually, finally, making some progress on the finishing the Monstrous Tome. And I actually like what I’m writing! As a rule of thumb, one needs to remember simply to explain what one is trying to talk about rather than do quickwork quickstep dancing around the point. It doesn’t hurt (except, of course, it does) that someone’s basically called me into an office and put a gun to my head, extracted promises from me, etc. But I’ll get back to the blog soon enough once I’ve written what I need to write, if not sooner.

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October 30, 2009 at 1:18 am

Posted in dysphoria, travel