ads without products

Archive for June 1st, 2010

roundabout praise for ange mlinko

leave a comment »

As you might guess if you’ve been reading awhile, I’m a wee bit critical, skeptical of things, generally not happy with much that I read and less that I hear in conversation. Erm. It’s a family trait, and I suppose in some ways I should be thankful for it as, ultimately, it’s likely responsible (first) for my father’s escape from a household in which his mother was wearing his handmedowns and (next) my transcendence of a situation in which I lived in a house with no reading material other than Jonathan Livingston Seagull, whatever that is or was other than an appropriate if cheap wedding present at a certain time and place.

The critical annihilation of peers is a particularly dark and perhaps extremely efficient form of self-motivation, one that provides mountains to climb and rivers to cross where, to the eye of the ordinary guy on the street, elevation and depth there are none.

We’d, my family, sit at the kitchen table for dinner and talk shit about our friends and neighbors. Sometimes the relatives. Unspoken was the critique of ourselves, which nonetheless was constant and total, of course. A hellish start – can’t really imagine what something like charity would be like, save when I’m paid to perform it as a teacher, and in that case perform it I certainly do.

But, no, I don’t like much that I read and less that I hear. Visceral and undeniable, this feeling of disappointment and (ugh) antipathy. Especially when it comes to people who do the same sort of thing as me, in any sense whether real or prospective.

(Confessional, this blog is. Jesus. You should hear the things that I don’t tell you though… What franticness it is to be me…)

Still and despite all this, I really, really like Ange Mlinko’s stuff for The Nation. (Ha!) It has the undeniable sniff of real intelligence. A bit overwhelming when you happen upon it, the sniff of that. You should go read some – stuff like this is rare in a day and age like ours, or really anytime and anywhere.

Written by adswithoutproducts

June 1, 2010 at 3:29 am

Posted in criticism, poetry

“the world is leaking”: a new temporality of disaster for a new decade

with 4 comments

True to his word, Giovanni Tiso has written an excellent post on the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Definitely go take a look…

I’m fascinated by the oil spill cam too, and like Giovanni said in my comments, there’s something mesmerizing about it, hypnotic. The Icelandic volcano seemed bent on introducing us to a new temporality of disaster for a new decade, replacing the shock and awe of telegenic terror attacks and rapidly escalating infection rates and (again telegenic) bombing raids, the tsunamis and earthquakes and hurricanes, that characterized the aughts with the awful banality of destructive persistence. But the gusher in the Gulf adjusts this new apocalyptic rhythm to the right physical scale.

Rather than the top of a mountain blowing off and then, surprisingly, causing real problems when it simply continues to smolder, we have a relatively small pipe at the bottom of the sea per-houring and per-minuting the Gulf toward total environmental collapse – and who knows what else.

I’m pretty immune to prophetic anthropomorphism, reading the palm lines of the image, and pathetic fallacy in general. I seriously mistrust Jamesonian acolytes for their tendency to just this sort of thing. (And that’s not the only faulty move I’m making in this post… Who gives a shit about “decades,” right?) There’s no Spielburgian divinity or Weltgeist storyboarding these things out to tell us something that we should already know… (Thankfully, really – we’ve got enough real problems to deal with without waking up to find a burning bush in the back garden etc) Being in England is only encouraging any I refute it thus-ism that was latently present in my makeup.

But on the other hand, it’s really, really hard not to read the whole world into and out of this one, hard not to take it as a sign of some sort that times have changed, and in particular not to anticipate lots more bad plumbing in the years to come….

(I should note – and not just here, but in an email to someone that I’m way overdue on – that Jonathan Lethem’s still newish Chronic City does a pretty good job of capturing this “new” temporality of disaster in narrative form…. I’ll try to say more about this when I’ve got more time, which has to happen sooner or later, right?)

Written by adswithoutproducts

June 1, 2010 at 12:49 am