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i have a new hero

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This guy, my friends, is absolutely fucking brilliant. What a fantastic interview.

Amazing that the BBC can stare into the face of the utterly obvious and still ask the same ridiculous questions. This guy answered them and squarely.

Here is his blog, btw.

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December 14, 2010 at 1:59 am

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when ’68 posters have their place in the current occupations

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This is the person discussed, um, here. From this rather brilliant site….

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December 5, 2010 at 7:37 pm

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new media

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Btw. Mildly incredible scene yesterday. Cops guarding the gates of university, as rumor was everyone was headed there. I went past to slip out to buy some cigarettes. One cop to another as I pass: “Check the twitter feed on the iPhone. Are they coming or not?”

New world, eh?

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December 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

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plague of absences

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Hmmm… Just occurs to me: where the fuck is Slavoj Zizek? He works (“works”) in a building directly between two of the most important student occupations.

Healthy generational transfer occurring. I guess he doesn’t feel a talk on Despicable Me would really work in this context. You know, I think he’s right.

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December 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm

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false flag

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Jesus. Someone just hacked their twitter / wordpress accounts to say bailiffs had entered. They hadn’t. But in the interim I was split between grabbing a taxi back down there (at 2 AM) and throwing myself off the balcony.

Xmas tree tomorrow for sure. Hopefully not a coronary, which I nearly had tonight, just now.

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December 1, 2010 at 4:09 am

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aaron porter is an enormous fucking asshole

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Hey you know, they’re right. Just watched a repeat of the BBC London News tonight (I made a cameo appearance standing outside my office and talking about, um, blogs and “social media” and such in relation to the occupation for about 15 seconds and hadn’t seen it till now.) But yeah, what the students say is just so: Aaron Porter is an enormous fucking asshole.

There are lots of secondary goals at play here. One of them might be preventing that dipshit from attaining the cabinet position he so clearly desires.

Occupation brilliant today, more brilliant everyday. Going to order them an Xmas tree in the hopes that, you know, they’re there to unwrap presents. I’ll be with them if they do. Bought them dinner (er, food) at Sainsburys but should have stayed around to eat it. Best money I’ve ever spent. Off to Xbridge for a talk to the occupation tomorrow. My my my my days are suddenly busy and… good.

UPDATE: Ooops forgot to say that this is the ultimate reason why I – and they – am / are fucked off with him. I’ll be up there tomorrow providing not legal advice, as I can’t, but whatever advice I can.

ANOTHER UPDATE: By the way, I tell you this stuff about what I’m doing not to “up” myself (actually couldn’t care less at the moment) but to encourage you to do the same at the place where you work… Trust me, you’ll feel better about your life if you do.

YET ANOTHER: Here’s the video that provoked that post. Starts at 4:10. The utter cowardice comes when he talks about breaking the route etc. Students did what they did because the police broke their promise to allow a peaceful demonstration. Peaceful protest is now effectively illegal in Britain. He is a coward, and I’ll do whatever I can to keep him out of that cabinet position that he’s clearly (wet) dreaming about.

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December 1, 2010 at 2:29 am

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south of the border

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It’s not really that surprising, but it seems that only the NYT business section is free from the mandate to inject some snide comment on the unsustainability of oil-financed socialism or a rumor about Lula’s alcoholism into every piece that mentions Chavez or any other Latin American left or leftish political figure. We’ll see what happens when Stone’s South of the Border makes the main section… Betcha dollars to doughnuts that the reactionary boilerplate returns…..

Anyway, here’s the trailer for the film:

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May 3, 2010 at 8:29 am

a spectre, the spectre, haunting Europe and everywhere else

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Is interesting to note where Marx’s spectre thing turns up. For instance, this from the start of a Businessweek article:

April 30 (Bloomberg) — While the specter of Greek contagion haunts southern Europe, corporate Germany is going from strength to industrial strength.

What is especially interesting is the way that the endless permutations on the original always bear – as if spectrally! – a little bit of the root sense of the original utterance. Crisis of capitalism, even when the recyclers of the trope don’t believe that such a thing is possible.

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April 30, 2010 at 1:03 am

Posted in crisis, marx, Uncategorized


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The playhouse he built for his daughter in the garden. What does he say – to himself, even to it – as he stands before it smoking yet another cigarette? He can remember the day he built it. His wife kept his daughter away from the back windows so that she wouldn’t see. It was the day before her third birthday and they had just moved into the place with the garden at back. One pane of the little plastic window in front cracked as he secured it in the frame, and there’s a little lintel piece that he never got around to installing sitting at its side.

Inside the house, there are mostly unused toys. A kitchen set. Some balls. A little chair.

He says to himself while standing in front of the house, Ah, this that you’re feeling comes one way or another no matter what happens. One way or another way, there will be a last time you look at that house. Such is the nature of things. We know this. We know when we’re hammering the nails and tightening the screws that one day some person, one day, will break the house down with a hammer and crowbar and set it out front on the day that they pick up large objects. So what if it is sooner rather than later? It will happen either way.

He says this to himself, and his heart rises momentarily only to fall again. He is right, he is wrong. It doesn’t work. He says this to himself but refuses to say it, even under his breath, to the playhouse.

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April 25, 2010 at 2:20 am

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good taste, anyway

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From an interview with Nick Clegg in the Guardian magazine today:

Which living person do you most admire, and why? JM Coetzee – he writes with a simplicity which lays bare what really matters.


What is your favourite book? Life & Times Of Michael K, by JM Coetzee.

Funny to think what an absolutely perfect choice is for a politicians favorite novel, and funnier to think what a catastrophic choice Disgrace would be…

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April 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Posted in coetzee, Uncategorized


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He was a strange and complex man. He had peculiar tastes. He was never at peace with the world.

The only way to know that you were his intimate was if he treated you as roughly as he treated himself. If, at certain pitched moments, he savaged himself and you at the same time and to the same degree, then you knew you were in, for better or worse.

This, you knew, has how love, or whatever it was, worked with him. The fact was that he was at once incredibly tolerant of and incredibly impatient with human nature. His optimism was abyssally pessimistic, and vice versa. At privileged moments, his speech would take on the dark lyricism that comes of such cross-wiring, such implicit contradiction. At other moments, he would remain silent, which amounted almost to the same thing.

You would have stopped, if you knew then what you know now, and said “But when and where did I sign on for that? Can you produce a contract? A duly notarized document?”

“Certain processes and functions,” he would have responded, “are as implicit in human relations as the tree is implicit in this garden, the squirrels in these trees, the train on those tracks.”

“This is a cross to bear,” he would have said. “But haven’t we all got to have one?” he would have asked.

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February 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm

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Sinking back into a wine-induced, near-constant stupor, he reads the review and wonders whether the joke was on him or he is the joke on all of it.

His wife, well sort of, tells him to quit, move back to Brooklyn, and scratch the itch that’s been itching, that he’s not been scratching, since at least 1995. All of it comes back to that, all of it, she says when she’s in the mood to say such things.

Once, at a conference, drunk, he expounded upon the literature of the no. But now he has a hard time reading it. He is embarrassed about it, years later. It was in Chicago, or was in Long Beach, that he did that?

His wife says We’ll open a bookstore and then you will have some time. In return, he wonders aloud, pessimistically. Still, the food would be better.

He wonders, not aloud, later, about turning the screws tight, stripping them in fact, and then never being able to unscrew them.

His wife, well sort of, tells him to do an hour a day on it, that that is him at his best. But he simply can’t

He wonders whether the joke was on him or he is the joke on all of it, and then he writes this post.

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February 4, 2010 at 1:40 am

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query! answer quickly if you can!

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Dammit. Am writing a lecture and would like to look at what I remember as a Benjamin Kunkel review of a new history of the literature MFA in America, Flannery O’Connor at Iowa and the like. Cannot find it anywhere! Can anyone remember the name of the book? Came out, or at least was reviewed, in the early summer.

Really hate it when all of the many search devices (google, spotlight, etc) at once act like it’s my job or failing that your job to remember stuff. Jesus.


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November 18, 2009 at 2:27 pm

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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

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sunday post: marxist cream teas and gnarly geolocatable trees

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Very much regret that I couldn’t come along on Owen’s Piccadilly Line tour today. But then again, I’m pretty sure that none of the Holden designed stations feature one of these, which I saw today doing the same, um, walking tour I do almost every weekend – Highgate to Hampstead, hitting every playground in between.

I took a lot of nice pictures of Hampstead Heath along the way. Really starting to develop extraordinarily warm feelings for the Heath and for this stretch of North London more generally. Starting to wish that I lived even closer to the former than I already do (it’s about a 15 minute bus ride from my house).

The country is so very verdant, that even the dead trees have a bit of life in them.

Here is where you go if you want to have sex in the Heath. Just watch out for the police cameras – this is the UK after all.

There are few directional signs in the Heath, and many forks in the path, some of them leading through fairly dense old growth forest. So the first time I walked from Highgate to Hampstead, I used the GPS system on my iPhone to naivgate my way through. Worked like a charm. But it has a funny effect, this GPS thing – maybe something worth thinking about / writing about a bit more. I had anticipated taking a picture of the following the last time I was there – had the camera with me this time.

But as I took it, I couldn’t help but think – probably given the way I’d navigated last time – of what the tree I was taking a picture of would look like on google maps. In fact, I persistently today thought of myself as walking through a map, a satellite image – couldn’t stop thinking about myself from an imagined god’s eye view. Here’s the tree again, as well as the path from which I took the picture:

Odd to think that men and women walked around for so many centuries thinking, at least in part, from the god’s eye view, only to lose it, to see for themselves and at level angle for a bit, only to resume where they had left off due to gps and google maps. At least google’s satellites don’t care about your sins. Er….

At any rate, we made it to Hampstead, I put the camera away. We delivered our daughter to a birthday party, had a nice dinner (accompanied by a semi-sleeping infant – the other daughter), didn’t buy any books at Waterstones or Daunt, and then came home via one bus and then another. I’m getting my most hits ever today, by the way.

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October 4, 2009 at 10:14 pm