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Archive for March 21st, 2011

the politics of parrots

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Was just reminded that Felicite never would have gotten her parrot in Flaubert’s “Un Coeur simple” if it weren’t for the 1830 Revolution.

Years passed, all alike and marked by no other events than the return of the great church holidays: Easter, Assumption, All Saints’ Day. Household happenings constituted the only data to which in later years they often referred. Thus, in 1825, workmen painted the vestibule; in 1827, a portion of the roof almost killed a man by falling into the yard. In the summer of 1828, it was Madame’s turn to offer the hallowed bread; at that time, Bourais disappeared mysteriously; and the old acquaintances, Guyot, Liebard, Madame Lechaptois, Robelin, old Gremanville, paralysed since a long time, passed away one by one. One night, the driver of the mail in Pont-l’Eveque announced the Revolution of July. A few days afterward a new sub-prefect was nominated, the Baron de Larsonniere, ex-consul in America, who, besides his wife, had his sister-in-law and her three grown daughters with him. They were often seen on their lawn, dressed in loose blouses, and they had a parrot and a negro servant. Madame Aubain received a call, which she returned promptly. As soon as she caught sight of them, Felicite would run and notify her mistress. But only one thing was capable of arousing her: a letter from her son.

This is a strange business, sitting here in my office trying to foment in myself a work burst in order to finish the book by… repoliticizing it in accordance with the demands of the UP that I’m working with. Odd….

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March 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm

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revolution and repetition (Flaubertian crusty)

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A guy on the barricades during the first pages of the third section of Flaubert’s L’Education sentimentale:

J’ai fait mon devoir partout, en 1830, en 32, en 34, en 39. Aujourdhui on se bat! Il faut que je me bat!”


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March 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

taking its course

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From Glen Newey at the LRB blog:

Last week, Keele University announced plans to shut down its philosophy programme, in the name of ‘efficiency’ savings. It’s beside the point here that the methodology underlying the calculations is flawed and its specific application to philosophy very suspect. The 27-page document presented for consideration by the Senate on 23 March is a fully fledged statement of the post-Brownean credo, apart from the latter’s insistence on student demand as a touchstone of academic worth. Philosophy at Keele doesn’t enrol enough students to make money; but then, it is subject to a cap imposed by the government: there are fewer than 60 places this year. You break somebody’s legs then complain that they can’t keep up.

“You break somebody’s legs then complain that they can’t keep up.” Yes… Just about every internal political and bureaucratic wrangle I’m involved in at the moment follows the selfsame logic. Take what is fit, starve or mangle it for a bit, set it back into the wild, watch it struggle, watch it starve… then deliver with a shrug the aperçu about the wonders of natural selection, the sublimity of nature taking its course, that you had prepared well before the start of the entire process.

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March 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm

bad romance

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One seems actually to exist and the other is a rather funny facebook joke, but I encountered the possibility of both with exactly the same degree of disbelief.

Update: no, disbelief isn’t the right word. In fact, it might be nearly the opposite of the right word. Baffled resignation at what either could be or is true? What’s the anglo-saxon for that?

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March 21, 2011 at 11:44 am

Posted in academia, zizek

what is difficult

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Flaubert to Colet, 28 June 1853:

it’s so easy to chatter on about the beautiful but to say in good style “close the door” or “he wanted to sleep” requires more genius than giving all the literature courses in the world.

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March 21, 2011 at 1:59 am

Posted in flaubert, simplicity