is very likely that nearly every one has been very nearly certain that
something that is interesting is interesting them....
July 2003 Tuesday
New York Times | 14 - 15 July 2003 |
link requires registration
presidential candidates move into a "near-unified assault"
on Bush's handling of the pre-invasion case for war against Iraq. Adam
Nagourney cites Howard Dean's assessment of how his own position
differed from the positions taken by "three senators and a congressman"
(Kerry, Lieberman, Edwards, and Gephardt) who supported Bush's war:
"It looks like my analysis was the correct one and theirs was the
incorrect one" (14 July, A15). Twenty-five people are appointed
to a largely powerless "Governing Council" in Iraq: three
are women. (14 July, A6). Brazil's da Silva government
imposes a "pension reform package...very similar to one that the
Workers' Party strenuously opposed for nearly a decade when it was in
opposition"and gets a strike by federal civil servants in
return (14 July). Lieberman, Gephardt, and Kucinich fail to appear
at the NAACP's forum for candidates: "Mr. Sharpton compared the
Democratic Party to the late Lester Maddox, the former governor of Georgia
who in the 1960's chased black patrons from his restaurant with an ax
handle. 'Any time we give a party 92 percent of our vote and have to
still beg some people to come talk to us, there is still an ax-handle
mentality among some in the Democratic Party,' he said, raising
an ax-handle" (15 July, A15). Krugman sees an entrenched
"pattern of corruption" in the Bush administration's treatment
of intelligence gathering and reporting (15 July, A25). Ben Sisario
profiles Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders as "The Fugs Final
CD (Part 1)" is released. "'Rock 'n' roll can be incredibly
dappled with dissent,' [Sanders] said. 'It's a mnemonic art form, in
the sense that people can remember the messages in both parts of the
brain. There are eros and lust and mating associated with certain vowels
and certain forms of singing, so there's a kind of lusty, dissent-dappled
fabric to rock 'n' roll'" (15 July, B1+).
14 July 2003
All or Nothing | Dir. Mike Leigh (2002) |
Taylor's review at Salon
(1 Nov 2002): "At times, [Timothy] Spall resembles a reserved Jackie
Gleason. As he trudges silently through his job and family life, you
may think of Gleason's character, the Poor Soul, a tribute to silent-film
comics. There's none of the self-pity and bathos of the sad clown in
Spall, however. He's one of those Leigh characters who is genuinely
trying to do his best. When [a] French passenger asks him whether he
loves his wife, the husky and hushed yes with which he answers suggests
a man who feels things much more strongly and deeply than he can articulate."
Rick Snyder | "The Politics of Time: New American Versions of Paul
Celan" | Radical
Society 29.2 (2002) | 115-126 | print edition only
introduction to the poetic, political, and ethical issues raised by
recent attemptsSnyder surveys nine separate volumes since the
mid-1980sto bring Celan's work into English. That Snyder prefers
Pierre Joris's translations, while condemning Popov and McHugh for reinscribing
"the poet's most resistant work into a strain of the American poetic
landscape that could best be described as postconfessionalor,
very easy and very emotional" (122) comes as no particular surprise,
but Snyder's patient reconstruction for a general reader of the issues
at stake in everything from lexis to linebreak to ideologeme strikes
me as a valuable servicenot unlike that of translation itselfbrightly
and responsibly performed.
12 July 2003
Brian Kim Stefans | "Getting Ready to Have Been Skunked" | 11
July 2003 | Free Space Comix
| archive link
pointer to Brian Kim Stefans's ongoing defense of Lowell (and denigration
of Silliman) of a few days ago may have gotten
Tree into a jam (sorry Kasey: I gather limes don't make good jam),
but at least it had the virtue of encouraging Brian to expand further
on his theme: "'The car radio bleats...' (from the 'Skunk Hour')
has a similar, if not the same, negativ[ity] that Adorno emits when
writing about popular culture; its an uncompromising condemnation,
modified by a bad mood. And am I all that wrong in hearing 'I
am an antichrist' in the words 'I myself am Hell'in contrast to
various 'I's' (mostly exhibited as 'eyes') we see below? Drop the 8
stanzas of 'Skunk Hour' into [Silliman's] 'Non' and I'm sure you will
seelike dropping Radiohead's 'Morning Bell,' one of their sweeter
songs, into Eno's 'tedious' 'Thursday
Afternoon'that you will hear compression, negativity, focus, passion,
need to find this convincingindeed I don't find it so (especially
not the link to Adorno; though I like the phrase in bold above, I find
the "uncompromising" part to be ill applied in Lowell's case;
not to mention the fact that Adorno typically did a little better than
lame "sheep" metaphors)in order to appreciate the fact
that Brian is energetically concocting frames for viewing and valuing
Lowell that work against the ingrained habits of his usual defenders
and his usual detractors alike. Too bad comparable energies are not
exerted in the mainstream press on behalf of John Wieners and Jimmy
Schuyler: after I'd read my fill in the dailies, weeklies, biweeklies,
and learneds about those two poets, I might actually be more in the
mood to engage in a generous rethinking of the much better known, but
to my mind much less interesting Lowell.
Clay Shirkey | "A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy: A Speech at ETech"
| 1 July 2003 | link
around to this interesting talk, which Equanimity
called attention to some time ago.
notes: "Prior to the Internet, the last technology that had any
real effect on the way people sat down and talked together was the
table" (1). Three methods of "sandbagging"
a group's "sophisticated goals with...basic urges": sex
talk, identification and vilification of external enemies ("groups
often gravitate towards members who are the most paranoid and make them
leaders, because those are the people who are best at identifying external
enemies" ), and religious veneration ("we have nominated
something that's beyond critique" ). "Larger than
a dozen, smaller than a few hundred, where people can actually have
these conversational forms that can't be supported when you're
talking about tens of thousands or millions of users, at least in a
single group" (10). "We got the weblog pattern
in around '96 with Drudge. We got weblog platforms starting in '98.
The thing was really taking off in 2000. By last year, everyone realized:
Omigod, this thing is going mainstream, and it's going to change everything"
(10). "The normal experience of social software is failure"
Three things to accept based on experience to date: inseparability of
technological and social issues; members are different than users ("a
core group arises that cares...and gardens effectively"); sometimes
core group rights trump individual rights.
Four design goals: handles users can invest in; recognition
of good works; barriers to participation; ways to spare group
Iowa General Assembly | Senate Concurrent Resolution 124 | April 1996
Old News New York Times | 10-12 July 2003
votes 53 to 43 against imposing the "global gag rule"
sought by the Bush Administration, but Bush vows to veto the foreign
assistance bill rather than see women abroad receive abortion counseling,
let alone abortions themselves (10 July, A18). Vigilantes
vs. student protesters in Tehran (10 July, A5). Powell characterizes
Bush's State of the Union address reference to Iraq's plan to buy uranium
in Africa as an "honest mistake" (11 July, A8). War
costs will run to nearly $4b a month for the first nine months of
the occupation of Iraqthat's about twice the amount the Pentagon
quoted to Congress as recently as April (11 July, A1+). The $35b, nine-month
estimate makes the war more expensive than the annual federal expense
for grade school and high school education in the U.S. (A8).
Nader would view "any growth in support for Mr. Kucinich"
as giving him less reason to run: "not no, just less" (11
July, A10). Paul Clark of UPenn in a front-page piece on labor
setbacks under Bush: "In the early 1980's, management had the
upper hand because the economy was rising and the Reagen administration
was very unfriendly toward unions. We haven't had the stars aligned
that way since the 1980's until now" (11 July, A12). The
425,000-member International Association of Machinists and Aerospace
Workers endorses Gephardt: of the 578 officials who voted, 78%
went with Dick, 22% with Dean (12 July, A9).
11 July 2003
Immanuel Wallerstein | "Entering Global Anarchy" | New Left
Review 22 | July / August 2003 | 27-35 &
Wallerstein | "U.S. Weakness and the Struggle for Hegemony"
| Monthly Review | July / August 2003 | 23-29
come at the moment we are living through a particularly aggressive and
egregious form of imperialism, which for the first time in over a hundred
years has been ready to use the words 'imperial,' and 'imperialism'?
Why should they do that? Now, the answer most people give in one word
is U.S. strength. And the answer I will give in one word is U.S.
weakness" (Monthly Rev 23).
have entered an anarchic transitionfrom the existing world-system
to a different one. As in any such period, no one controls the situation
to any significant degree, least of all a declining hegemonic power
like the US. Though the proponents of a US imperium may think they have
the wind in their sails there are strong gales blowing from all directions
and the real problemfor all our boatswill be to avoid capsizing.
Whether the ultimate outcome will be a less or more egalitarian and
democratic order is totally uncertain. But the world that emerges will
be a consequence of how we act, collectively and concretely, in the
decades to come" (NLR 35).
should watch the World Social Forum. I think that is where the
action is. It is the most important social movement now on the face
of the earth and the only one that has a chance of playing a really
significant role. It has blossomed very fast. It has a wealth of internal
contradictions that we should not underestimate and it will run through
all sorts of difficult periods, and it may not make it. It may not survive
as a movement that is a movement of movements, that has no hierarchical
center, is tolerant of all the varieties within it and yet stands for
something. This is not an easy game, but it is where the best hope lies"
(Monthly Rev 28).
Thomas Geoghegan | "DemsWhy Not Woo the Young?" | The
Nation | 21/28 July 2003 | 10 | print edition only
should be free. All of it. Harvard on down." "Or maybe
just forgive the loans."
10 July 2003
John Lanchester | "Diary: Unbelievable Blair" | London
Review of Books 25.13 | 10 July 2003 | 34-35 | link
of the people who are rounding on Blair over the Strange Case of the
Missing WMD are enemies and grudge-holders, and are using the issue
in an opportunistic way. Blair's problem, however, isn't with them,
but with the large part of the population who don't love or hate him,
but who do want to know why we went to war, and want the reasons for
it to have been satisfactorily explained in advance, rather than dredged
up afterwards. War is not supposed to be a form of performance art,
where the reasons things happen are vague and indeterminate and occur
to you only later, if at all" (35).
Alex Ross | "Rock 101" | New Yorker | 14/21 July 2003
of Franklin Bruno mostly as a poet published in Rhizome,
The Hat, and the Seeing Eye chapbook series,
so I was surprised to find him mentioned in Ross's write-up of the "Skip
a Beat: Rewriting the Story of Popular Music" conference held last
spring in Seattle. "Franklin Bruno, a doctoral student in philosophy
who writes quirky, literate pop songs, noted that Dylan in his electric
period relied heavily on the tricks of Tin Pan Alley songwriting, precisely
the sort of mom-and-dad music that the singer was supposed to have left
behind. 'Blonde on Blonde,' Bruno said, was 'a head-first dive into
pop-song formalism.' Everybody must get stoned, but not before the bridge
and the modulation" (89). | Read a press release for Bruno's cd
A Cat May Look at a Queen here.
And a review of same by Nikki Tranter here.
Etienne Balibar | "Structuralism: A Destitution of the Subject?"
| Trans. James Swenson | differences
14.1 (2003) | 1-21
with editing an anthology of Postwar French Philosophy for the
New Press, Balibar sets out with the hypothesis that structuralism "will,
as far as philosophy is concerned, have been the decisive moment in
French thought during the second half of the twentieth century"
(2). "Philosophers 'went in' to structuralism as neo-Kantians,
phenomenologists, Hegelians or Marxists, Nietzscheans or Bergsonians,
positivists or logicians, and they came back out with all these identities
upset and their mutual compatibilities and incompatibilities redistributed"
(4). For Balibar, the two themes most important to a contemporary
understanding of structuralism are the "reversal from constitutive
to constituted" subjectivity (12) and the immanence of "poststructuralism"
within "structuralism" (15). "If 'structuralisms' are
fundamentally heretical with respect to one another, what can we say
of 'poststructuralisms,' which include discourses and texts, some of
whose authors never figured among structuralists and which interest
us for their retroactive effect on structure that we believe their confrontation
can produce?" (15).
July 2003 Wednesday
Christopher Masters | "Obituary: Enrico Baj (1924-2003)" | Guardian
| 9 July 2003 | link
publications included Automitobiogafia (1983)
and Kiss Me, I'm Italian (1997). His proudest
honour was his appointment by the College of Pataphysics to the
high office of Analogic Emperor for Italy, Padania, Albania and the
campanile of San Marco (1997)."
Poetry blogs midafternoon EDT
swerves around FSC (whom he charges with resorting unduly to ad hominen
argumentation) and responds instead to Daniel Nester. FSC
keeps it in high gear nevertheless: "As it is, the structure of
Silliman's Blog which leapfrogs from subject to subject, creating
old news out of matter that, at least one day, seemed of central importancedoes
not permit for active disputation, which I think is a flaw of blogs
in themselves. Ron could write a perfect rebuttal to this very post
tomorrow and off I'd be talking about growing avocados in the Andes.
We also never know when something was posted, whether it was revised
ten times, how long it took to write, or whether the writer is sitting
in a hot tub with a laptop and chihuahua or stealing seconds away from
a construction job." On Harlequin
Knights, Garbo as Ninotchka: "Go
to sleep, little father, the old world is behind you." Now was
that before or after she betrayed the drearily Stalinized revolution
for Paris hats and Melvyn Douglas? Elsewhere
passes along a
letter from Brandon Downing on the film Mughal-E-Azam.
Hear the hiss as Heathens
dangles a toe into a certain "glorious
intellectual backwater." SDPG
files another interesting field
report, this time focusing on Ululations.
Back on Monday, Fait
Accompli rounded the blogs. Today
he calls attention to poems by Stephanie Young and Jim Behrle before
channeling the 1980s. Early results of Monkey's
("Which poetry blogger are you most like?"): Limetree
achieve self-identity ("He thinks I look alike"Chico
Marx), while Bemsha
Nourished Moon, and others get a taste of alterity. (After about
ten times through, the Moon
has it cased: "It's easy to get Kasey if you try. Jordan is a mystery,
but I still got Jordan before I got myself. And I never did get Ron,
Jim, David or Gary".) The Manse gets new mosses.
Just noticing the concentration of dissertators in blogland:
Sorter, Cahiers de Corey...
And, finally, the ever-prolific CorpePoetics
O'Hara, and an unnamed poet.
"Purple Majesty: James Quant Talks with Guy Maddin" |
Artforum XLI.10 | Summer 2003 | 156+ | link
Your love of the primitive seems to have no boundsyou collect
78s, for instanceand words like 'musty' and 'fusty' and 'curio'
are not pejorative to you. Ken Jacobs said what seems to be a paradox:
'Advanced filmmaking leads to Muybridge.' You resurrect a lot of tropes
of early cinema.
excited by the word "trope." When I hear it, my pupils dilate.
The most exciting movements in art in the last century and a half have
been reactions against technical sophistication and have gone "backward"
to find honesty and truth, the essences of things" (160).
Lenora Todaro | "Manthia Diawara Won't Budge" | Village
Voice | 9-15 July 2003 | link
graduating high school in [in Mali] 1972, Diawara flew to France. 'It
was very easy to get a visa then,' he says. 'I enrolled at the Université
de Vincennes, but I was working so much, I was only a nominal student.'
By day he assembled radios in a factory; by night he haunted bookstores.
A chance encounter at Paris's Shakespeare and Co. with African American
Beat poet Ted Joans changed the course of his life. Concluding a reading,
Joans pointed to Diawara, anointing him before the crowd as one who
could really feel poetry. Joans later warned Diawara that he could end
up like other Africans in Paris, without a degree or a job, and insisted
he go to America."
July 2003 Tuesday
Nasrin Parvaz | "Beneath the Narcissus: A Woman's Experience of Iranian
Prisons and Beyond" | Trans. Maryam Namazie | Feminist Review
(2003) | 71-85
terse first-hand vignettes of life after the "regime" destroyed
the "revolution" survive a cursory-seeming translation. A
Before the revolution: "My mother would call me Stalin whenever
she got angry with me for not listening to her and getting my own way;
and I would tell her if I did whatever she said then would would you
call me?" (71).
On being arrested: "The car stops near me. A non-uniformed man
gets out and wants me to go with him. I ask him for his identity card.
He takes out his card from his pocket and holds it up with a mocking
look on his face. I can't see well. I look at the people passing me
by and I already miss them. I long for my freedom to be strolling along
like them on yellow leaves that crunch underfoot. I want to screamlook
everyonethey are arresting me, here before your very eyes"
Following her torture, still in jail: "Our relative happiness at
finding each other is shattered when we are joined by a fourth woman,
who is one of the prison's notorious 'penitents.' These are prisoners
who have been broken under torture and forced to recant and become 'born-again'
Muslims. They are used by the prison authorities to spy on the prison
populationin effect a fifth column. The fear and distrust created
by the exploitation of these penitent prisoners made it difficult, impossible,
for us as prisoners to build mutual support since friendships were actively
discouraged. Prisoners were broken, not just through physical torture,
but through the psychological torture of isolation and fear, fear of
each other as well as of the prison authorities" (78).
Political divisions: "Prisoners need to hang on to their political
identities as a way of surviving, and this can lead to conflict with
fellow prisoners with different convictions and priorities. One example
of this is my refusal to join a protest over the right to wear coloured
chadors. Since we are against the whole idea of wearing chadors in the
first place, but are compelled by the authorities to do so whenever
we have contact with males, it seems ridiculous to me to negotiate for
colour as opposed to black chadors" (78).
Prison reading: "We devour any literature we can get our hands
on that can feed our minds and spiritsBrecht is one of our favorites.
We copy out whole books and pass them on in secret" (80).
Upon arriving in England: "I feel the world is united in thrashing
people like me" (81). "I have to begin my life from zero at
Stephen Kinzer | "Downfall in Nicaragua" | New York Review
of Books L.12
| 17 July 2003 | 39-40
Alemán, Nicaragua's president from 1997 to 2001, may be headed
to jail for his brazen looting of upwards of $100m from the public treasury:
if he does serve time, Kinzer argues, "it will send a message across
the continent that could reshape Latin American politics and preserve
for the poor untold millions of dollars that would otherwise have been
William Doyle | "Lessons Spurned" | Rev. of five recent books
on the French Revolution | Times
Literary Supplement 5229 | 20 June 2003 | 7-8
to Peter Jones, whose Liberty and Locality in Revolutionary
France finds favor with Doyle for the modesty of its claims and
the rigor of its methodology, the revolutioncontrary to "one
of the most enduring myths dear to the Jacobin interpretation"
(9)did not much affect peasant land holdings: "The overall
proportion of peasant holdings barely increased. There were losers in
this great transferthe Church on a catastrophic scale, the nobles
substantially but less seriouslybut peasant gains were largely
confined to the terms on which they owned land rather than the amount"
Susan Currell | Rev. of Revolutionary Memory: Recovering
the Poetry of the American Left by Cary Nelson and two other volumes
| Textual Practice 17.1 (2003) | 397-404
argues for recognition of the performative politics of poetry, lost
to the literary critic schooled in new critical traditions. He effectively
argues that poetry was read and understood collectively as something
that continued to reactivate the past, building intertextually upon
earlier radical traditions. Nelson shows how the ephemeral object of
the poem-card, handed out at political meets, can be read against
the grain of ahistorical literary criticism. His first chapter shows
how objects such as pamphlets and posters had a context
that is integral to the reading/understanding of the text. The attempt
to 'ahistoricize' poetry in the 1950s thereby stripped the poetry of
meaning, making it impossible to understand or interpret" (399).
Golding, in his positive review of the same volume for American
Literature (see next entry), notes that Nelson, "in his understandable
zeal to expand academic reading habits," sometimes "writes
against too monolithic a version of conservative literary and critical
hegemony. I'm not confident," Golding continues, "that 'still
dominant assumptions' (4) regarding the reading of modernist poetry
really are such, given the range of recent work on alternative modernisms
and the canon debates of the last twenty years. Granted that the academy
of the millennium leaves much to be accomplished, it is still not the
Cold War academy" (443).
American Literature 75.2 (2003) | Reviews | 427-472 | access-restricted
few of the titles that sound interesting:
John Stauffer's The
Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation by
(Harvard 2002), rev. by Robert K. Nelson.
Stephen Meyer's Irresistible Dictation: Gertrude
Stein and the Correlations of Writing and Science (Stanford 2001)
and Jessica Berman's Modernist Fiction, Cosmopolitanism,
and the Politics of Community, rev. by Edwin J. Barton.
Cary Nelson's Revolutionary Memory: Recovering
the Poetry of the American Left (Routledge 2001) and Nancy Berke's
Women Poets on the Left: Lola Ridge, Genevieve
Taggard, Margaret Walker (U of Florida 2001), rev. by Alan
Nicola Pitchford's Tactical Readings: Feminist
Postmodernism in the Novels of Kathy Acker and Angela Carter (Bucknell
/ Assoc. UPs 2002), rev. by Alex Feerst.
Jace Weaver's Other Words: American Indian Literature,
Law, and Culture, rev. by Michael A. Elliott.
Toby Miller et al's Global Hollywood (British
Film Institute 2001), rev. by Christina Klein.
Christopher Beach's Class, Language, and American
Film Comedy (Cambridge 2002), rev. by Carlo Rotella.
Horace Porter's Jazz Country: Ralph Ellison in
America (U of Iowa 2001), rev. by Lawrence P. Jackson.
07 July 2003
Talk to Her (Hable con ella) | Dir. by Pedro
Almodovar (2002) | DVD
to Her combines improbable melodrama (gored bullfighters, comatose
ballerinas) with subtly kinky bedside vigils and sensational denouements,
and yet at the end, we are undeniably touched. No director since Fassbinder
has been able to evoke such complex emotions with such problematic material"
(Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times). | Many other reviews to choose
from at the Movie
Review Query Engine.
"Robert Lowell: America's Shelley" | Economist
| 5 July 2003 | 73-74 | link
one is told that our age no longer values verbal complexity and that
the "titan" Lowell is an "exemplary figure to anyone
who has a serious interest in the art of poetry" (74). True enough:
but exemplary of what, exactly? The hyperbolic conclusion is also a
curiously empty one: "What never can be denied is the range, gravity,
and intellectual reach of his work, and the fact that from first to
last, he regarded poetry as a task of the utmost seriousness" (74).
Sarah Kershaw | "Adversaries on Gay Rights Vow State-by-State Fight:
Marriage Issue Seen as the Next Battlefield" | New York Times
| 6 July 2003 | 1:8 | link
are in a Brown v. Board of Education moment right now,' Mr. Wolfson
[of the Freedom to Marry advocacy group] said. 'The Supreme Court has
said in the strongest possible terms that love and intimacy and family
have deep constitutional protection for all Americans and that gay people
have an equal right to participate. This gives us a tremendous tool
for moving forward to end the discrimination.' ¶ 'At the same time,'
he added, 'it is important to remember what came after Brown: major
legal challenges and acts of courage but also fierce resistance.'"
"Word for WordCoup Control: The C.I.A.'s Cover Has Been Blown?
Just Make Up Something About U.F.O.'s" | New York Times |
6 July 2003 | 4:7 | link
from recently declassified State Department documents pertaining to
the U.S. instigated coup in Guatemala in 1954. From a November 1953
memo: "Station was instructed to mail 'mourning cards' for 30 successive
days to [president Jacobo] Arbenz [Guzman] and top Communist leaders.
Cards were to mourn the purge or execution of various Communists in
the world and to hint forthcoming doom to recipients." | More at
the National Security Archive, here
06 July 2003
Julian Borger | "Oil and Terrorism Drive the Presidential Tour"
| Guardian | 7 July
2003 | link
carrier battle groups of the future may not spend six months in the
Mediterranean sea, but I'll bet they'll spend half the time going down
the west coast of Africa, [Commander of US European command Gen. James
Jones] told journalists."
Poetry blogs at the end of the long weekend, EDT
Well Nourished Moon
beams down on blogland, circa noontime
Saturday: a good place to start. Harlequin
Knights on Buñuel's The Milky Way
and, a little bit down, Pessoa's disquieting impersonations of a blogger.
cites Benjamin on the sea of sleepand commemorates the "Day
Barry White Died." Like the Corpse,
I know what it is to be "attacked
by a flan" (early 1998, corner of rue Mademoiselle and l'Amiral
Roussin). Though Lowell leaves me cold after numerous dutiful
attempts, I'd been following Free
Space Comix's recent defense of him with interest and admirationuntil
I hit the claim about "the tortured, jagged, compressed rhythms"
of "Skunk Hour'" being like "punk rock." I'd as
soon assent to that statement as vote for Bush in 2004. Or, as
says: "I was trying to read the Lowell. It was like drinking a
fountain soda that's all syrup and no bubbles." Silliman
shifts attention to Berkson's
essay on O'Hara's "Biotherm" (reprinted in the new issue
of Sal Mimeo). Mosses
from an Old Manse pays homage to its "esteemed titler."
A Sorter indulges in
Fashionable Noise ("the most 'important'
read of the year") and gives a descriptionsuitable for strangers
at picnicsof a dissertation having to do with indeterminacy.
It's the dead of winter, 1986, at fait
accompliwhat better season for "an auteur theory / of
on free time and "frequent bloggers": the "high number
of overtures and mannered confirmations of collegiality such
as linked mentions both marks the discourse as self-conscious
and distinguishes it from more exploratory and confidential forms of
Charlie's Angels | Dir. by McG (2000) | DVD
for Slate in November 2000: "a movie that, for all its faults,
is at least sealed with a lip-gloss kiss." The best dialog
on the DVD can be found in Bill Murray's commentary during the "Get
G'd Up" extra feature.
Wimbledon | Mixed Doubles Final | NBC
Paes and Martina Navratilova's victory in the final was surprisingly
moving to me. It couldn't have been the tough competitionthey
commanded nearly every point in their straight set victoryso I'm
assuming it was something about how "preposterously" great
(as the NBC commentator put it at one point) the 47-year-old Navratilova
looked as she won her twentieth Wimbledon title in more than 30 years
of play; that, and the very charming confidence, poise, and brilliant
play of Leander Paes. | Link
to The Times of India coverage of the match.
Boston Review 28.3-4
| Summer 2003 |
Abbott Gleason's "The Hard Road to Fascism: Today's Antiliberal
Revolt Looks a Lot Like 1920s Europe" (15).
"The United States has achieved its overwhelming military power
at the same time and in close connection with a revolt against liberalism,
which is arguably as deep as the one that reached its climax with the
establishment of the totalitarian regimes of the 1920s and 1930s. Local
crises are emerging at the state level all across the United States.
Educational institutions are being starved; benefits to the poor are
being cut; the proportion of Americans living in poverty is up, as is
inequality; crises in Medicare and Social Security loom. And these results
are a product of deliberate policy, promoted through a program of deep
tax cuts which promise to erode the financial capacity of the state
to undertake any but the most minimal welfare functions."
| Compare to James Traub's NYT Magazine article of 1 June
(noted here), which sharply
attacks the kind of analogy to Weimar and the rise of fascism that Gleason
is here drawing.
Jonathan R. Cole's "The Patriot Act on Campus: Defending
the University post-9/11" (16-18).
An article based on a talk the president of Columbia University gave
in Chicago on 9 May 2003. "I believe it is time for the members
of our faculties who believe in the values embedded in the research
universities to engage in a debate on the wisdom of the laws that the
government is enacting in the name of national security. And if they
see these new constraints as deeply problematic, they should question
them and try to have them changed. It is now time for members of the
tenured faculty in particular to address these issues and speak out.
Silence betrays acquiescence or indifference to the policies represented
in the Patriot Act and subsequent 'patriot acts.' What is the protection
of tenure for, if not to be used to voice one's opinions in these troubled
timesto participate in the debate and in the defense of the university"
Leonardo Avritzer's "Brazil's Hope: Can President Lula Redeem
Democracy in Latin America" (6-9).
A thorough, if rather dry appraisal of Lula's first half-year in power
that includes a detail I've not seen reported elsewhere: "Brazil
was helped by a flight of speculative capital from Turkey after the
Turkish parliament refused to authorize the United States to use its
military bases against Iraq" (8). Avritzer thinks Lula's handling
of pension reform has gone poorly ("It probably will result
in conflicts with the courts and public employees and will make retirement
more difficult for the poor population"), but holds out some hope
that the "path between social innovation and economic constraint,"
though a difficult one, may still be successfully navigated and the
renewed "promise of democracy" vindicated (9). | See also
Kenneth Maxwell's recent piece for the New York Review of Books,
05 July 2003
The Economist | 28 June 2003
column paints Howard Dean as the next George McGovern or Walter
Mondale, virtually assured of leading a Volvo-driving, too-angry-to-think
straight "liberal army" to another of the "worst defeats
in American history" (32). Brazil's Lula da Silva
was the first "anti-war leader" to meet with Bush since the
invasion of Iraq: the business at hand, the Free-Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA). France's Jean-Pierre Raffarin went for less than
Juppé did (to his political misfortune) in 1995, but seems more
likely to win the shift in pension policy he wants, in part because
he "managed to peel one of the big trade-union groups, the CFDT,
away from the others" (55). Changes to the health insurance and
educational systems will be harder. The "Charlemagne"
column argues that dissent over political union in Europe is
a good sign: "Some people out there care enough about the EU to
chuck stones at its leaders" (56). A hostile review of George
Monbiot's The Age of Consent, which argues
for the establishment of a world parliament (see nb 26
June 03): "In the end, though, the argument is impossible.
Mr Monbiot works in a different language, with a different set of 'facts'
and altogether on a different metaphysical plane from the rest of us"
04 July 2003
Bookforum 10.2 | Summer
2003 | limited on-line content
persists in its maddening, if quite typical, indifference to poetry
as a cultural practice worthy of serious review space, a fair number
of poets turn up in its pages nevertheless. I've already mentioned Kevin
Killian's review of Nan Boyd (here). Elsewhere
in the current issue: Dodie Bellamy reviews Susan Howe's The
Midnight: "Howe's genius is to expose the occluded past
while resolutely preserving history's basic alterity" (50)
Alan Gilbert reviews Matthew Derby's debut collection of stories,
Super Flat Times: "The characters...endeavor
to make themselves less vulnerable by utilizing whatever small amount
of personal power they can procure. Through a combination of bleak vision
and occasional tenderness, Derby's stories function in much the same
way." And Rosmarie Waldrop's Lavish
Absence: Recalling and Rereading Edmond Jabès receives
a sympathetic review from Peter Bush: "What, then, sustains Waldrop
in the long hours of tussling with Jabès's literary shards? She
says she is driven by the 'envy and pleasure of destruction'; she believes
that through translation she makes the text her own; and she counts
herself, as August Wilhelm von Schlegel put it, 'a prisoner of continuous
poetic adultery.' Ultimately, she finds pleasure in a kind of betrayal,
in writing words the poet never did" (49). In one no doubt unintended
betrayal on the reviewer's part, Waldrop is said to have "liked
to wander the woods of Providence, Rhode Island" in her childhood,
when in fact she didn't emigrate from Germany until 1958 (when she was
22) and didn't move to Providence until more than a decade later.
Poetry blogs midafternoon EDT
quietude prevails, with a few exceptions. Limetree
follows through on Wednesday's promise of more content with guest turns
Johnson (on Pessoa as an incalculable within the "Manichean
board game of poetry" proposed in Silliman's Lowell post) and Michael
Magee (on what Duncan, Baraka, Ginsberg, and Williams made of Lowell).
himself also enters the fray: "For my part, although I share Brian's
bemusement at Ron's blunt rhetoric of militant avantitude, I must be
honest and say that his admittedly extreme claimthere is no third
waysmacks of emotional truth." Silliman
marks the twentieth anniversary of Ted Berrigan's death with "A
Final Sonnet": "How strange to be gone in a minute!"
Accompli's thoughts are on Berrigan as well. If you follow
on Mosses to
Paul Smith's typewriter art, you too can watch FDR's face slowly resolve
into its component keystrokes. If you think how mad Grover Norquist
probably gets at the thought of FDR, your patience might even count
as a patriotic act. tex
files drafts a first response to Kent Johnson's chapbook The
Miseries of Poetry. And Gila
Monster shows off a new, blue-on-blue e-blouse.
Tony Brinkley and Raina Kostova | "'The Road
to Stalin': Mandelstam's 'Ode to Stalin' and 'The Lines on the Unknown
Soldier'" | Shofar 21.4 | Summer 2003 | 32-62
"Bristling the cockroach's mustache laughs / Glistening his boot-tops
gleam"Mandelstam, 1933. Brinkley and Kostova render explicit
for English readers the complex interrelations between two poems written
four years after the epigram likening Stalin's mustache to a cockroach
effectively sentenced the poet to arrest, exile, and death (which came
in 1938). By attending closely to the polysemous syllabic play in the
Stalin ode, the translators restore "a texture of ambiguities"
that Czeslaw Milosz and even Nadezhda Mandelstam herself seem to have
overlooked in dismissing the poem as a simple "hymn of praise to
Old news catching up on the New York Times
| 30 June - 2 July
July The Bush administration cuts military aid to thirty-five
countries that have failed to pledge immunity for American citizens
in the International Criminal Court. An opponent of the policy
argues that it "is creating a dilemma where the administration
has to chose [sic] between sound military cooperation with democratic
nations and this campaign of ideology against the international crimial
court" (A8). Adam Nagourney reports on the nearly $9m raised
by Howard Dean so far this year: "The figure stunned his
rivals and transformed Dr. Dean from a maverick into a more traditional
contender." Dean's showing in the MoveOn vote evidently helped
contribute to a sharp increase in fundraising last week.
June A front page story by Adam Nagourney chronicles the blissful
union of President Bush and the social conservatives who make
an important bloc of his base: "Many conservatives say Mr. Bush's
alliance with their wing of the Republican Party is as solid as that
enjoyed by Ronald Reagan. Some suggest it is even better" (A17).
David D. Kirkpatrick reports that the share of adult trade books
sold in ordinary bookstores (chain and independent alike) dropped in
the past decade from about 50% to 38%. Meanwhile "big discounters"
like Wal-Mart and Costco are moving more and more copies of the few
titles they stock (C1). Stanley Fish shows that Clarence
Thomas's took a principlednot merely personalstand against
affirmative action, then goes on to point out the trouble with employing
principles where "ad hoc, pragmatic reasoning" is what the
particularistic nature of the law ("the wrongs, the remedies the
moment at which they intersect in an effort to make things better")
really calls for (30 June, A23). Safire welcomes the advent of
state-sanctioned same-sex marriages as a way of getting opposite-sex
marriages back on track (A23).
03 July 2003
Kevin Killian | "Golden Years" | Rev. of
Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco
to 1965 by Nan Alamilla Boyd | Bookforum
10.2 | Summer 2003 | 28 | print edition only
research into lesbian culture vis-à-vis the bars is new, and
she can construct an argument with force and vigor. I would argue that
Beat culture and the culture of the fine arts in general were also more
of a force for liberation than she allows. Boyd lamely quotes two witnesses
who basically tell her, 'Sure, Allen Ginsberg was around, but he was
doing his thing and I was doing mine.' Weren't Ginsberg's 'Howl,' John
Wieners's Hotel Wentley Poems, and
Robert Duncan's 'This Place Rumor'd to Be Sodom' responsible for luring
hundreds who saw their own queerness mirrored in these poems to the
city where they were written?"
Neil McIntosh | "Spread the Gospel: Bloggers
in America are aiming to spark a political revolution that will be delivered
by the web" | Guardian | 3 July 2003 | link
Poetry Blogs early edition EDT
Space Comix offers a substantial response to / critique of Silliman's
"clannish" 2 July post
on Lowell. (Be sure to check out Kevin Killian's helpfully contextualizing
"comment" as well.) SDPG
follows up the Fait Accompli
field report with a second: "Equanimity
comes one day at a time and, naturally, in reverse order. I haven't
quite figured out (maybe somebody else has) what it means to read the
addendum before the document, the follow-up before the pre-thought.
As victims of top-down reading habits, perhaps we should celebrate the
way blog archiving protocols basically gut the surprise of chronological
reading, or at least thwart, torque, fuck with those habits and demand
perpetual readjustments on behalf of what I will soon read based on
trace lineaments of what I just read." The synthesized voices
of July 1987 at Fait
Accompli. Following out a Google search result for "Equanimity
+ Wolin" (see the note on Wolin below, 2 July), I notice that all
the links have been stripped from the Blogger archive.
This is very bad, no? wood
s lot provides a sample of Ben Lerner's "The Lichtenberg Figures."
Lots of determining the secreted X-Men identities of particular
bloggers (mostly "Beasts," it turns outthough if Kucinich
had been an option...). Froth
celebrates its one-month anniversary without an update.
Tom Bell |
"N.J. Lawmakers Vote to End Poet Laureate" | Guardian
| 1 July 2003 | link
courtesy of Laurable
02 July 2003
Poetry Blogs mid-afternoon EDT
summarizes Karen Horney on a topic Ululations
has also been exploring lately: "narcissism is seen as a paralyzing
feedback loop in the circuit of the character structure. Its a
drag because it prevents new information from entering the system."
In addition to the usual enlightening mix of financial, political,
and cultural news, Equanimity
notes the arrival of Duncan's Letters: Poems 1953-1956
from Flood (for more on which see Possum
Pouch, noted below) and recent readings in Gary Sullivans Plays
and Peter Gizzi's Some Values of Landscape and
pauses to appreciate Robert Lowell's now implausible-seeming contribution
to Bob Grenier's development before turning to what he sees at stake
in the recent spate of reviews: "the Collected
represents in many ways one final chance for the School of Quietude
to resuscitate any residual life left in the Lowell heritage."
(See also the McGrath article noted here on 16 June and the Anthony
Lane piece annotated on 5 June). Cahiers
de Corey extracts one-liners from Adorno's Aesthetic
cites at length from the Renana Brook's Nation article on Bush's
rhetoric (mentioned here 16 June).
Richard Wolin | "Socratic Apology: A Wonderful, Horrible Life of
Hans-Georg Gadamer" | Rev. of Hans-Georg Gadamer:
A Biography by Jean Grondin, trans. Joel Weinsheimer | Bookforum
10.2 | Summer 2003 | 4-6 | link
Grondin as suffering from a debility Gadamer knew first hand in the
Marburg of the 1920s: "Under the influence of the Romantic cult
of genius, George-Kreis members were prone to writing fawning and compendious
hagiographies. The most notable examples were Friedrich Gundolf's biography
of Goethe and the medievalist Ernst Kantorowicz's lionizing study of
Frederick II. In retrospect these studies represent historical curiosities:
They testify to excess and the risk of rapturous 'empathic' scholarship"
(5). In this case, the biographer's excess empathy turns to misrepresentation
of the master's conduct under the Nazi regime, which Wolin sees as more
like Heidegger's than not: "At virtually every pivotal juncture,
Gadamer caved in to the regime without a fight. To judge by these lights,
hermeneutics is a philosophy of conformism. It turns conciliation with
political evil into an art form. Apparently, in the hermeneutic lexicon,
'civil courage' is an unknown virtue, a foreign phrase" (6).
Poetry Blogs early edition EDT
Well Nourished Moon finds Breton's desire for total transparency
seductive: "I sleep nights in a glass bed, under glass sheets...."
Acker, Cat Power, and Kenneth Koch at Harlequin
Knights. It's 1984 chez Fait
Accompli: "This enthusiasm goes until something / stops me.
All their bored faces." Tympan
entertains a reactionary fantasy involving Robert Lowell, and pre-posts
a postcard poem too. I follow Limetree's
outstretched branch to Bloggedy
Blog Blog: "But are they all going to sound like that?"
looks at Richard Tuttle. Human
Verb reads Barbara Maloutas's chapbook Practices.
A sixteen-part Canada Day post at Mosses
from an Old Manse. Elsewhere
sees Human Weapon and My Terrorist,
two documentaries that "attempt to make sense of, without justifying,
suicide bombings." Possum
Pouch receives Flood's edition of Robert Duncan's Letters
and responds to a query about Skanky
Possum from Writer's Market.
Publishers Weekly | 23 June 2003
Forecasts Among the eight titles reviewed are Brian Kim Stefans's
Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics (starred),
Elizabeth Willis's Turneresque, and Michael
Magee's MS. Abdellatif Laâbi's
The World's Embrace: Selected Poems, Celan's
early poems in Romanian, and Gershom Scholem's poetry are among the
items more briefly noted.
Jane Ciabattari | "Editors on Reviews" | Poets & Writers
| July / August 2003 | 49-55 | link
something earnest, awkward, and totally obfuscatory about Ciabattari's
attempt to explain reviewing practices to the novice writer that puts
me in mind of the sex ed films shown me in the late 1970s by the California
public school system. Glimpses of something like the actual state of
things can be seen (precious few books ever get reviewed), but
the scale-shifting presentation (from Kirkus to Constant Critic)
and the commitment to puffing the article's "sources" rather
than critically contextualizing their statements pretty much invalidate
the random statistical insight. "All respectable print publications
follow codes of ethics ensuring, among other issues of editorial integrity,
that editorial and advertising function like church and state"
(50). | Chimera
Song Mosaic responds.
Nectarios Limnatis | "Globalization and Modern Philosophy" |
Radical Philosophy 119 | May / June 2003 | 25-31 | link
to partial text
argues that "current philosophical assessments of capitalism as
a social system"his examples are Rorty and, more substantially,
Habermas"fail to take into account 75-80 per cent of the
world's population. The internal problems faced by the West, no matter
how serious, are small in relation to the problems of the Third World
and certainly misleading for evaluating modern society. The contradictory
nature and importance of social problems in the capitalist centres are
not to be reduced. However, for the theoretical evaluation of capitalism
as a global social-economic system a broader view is needed."
One may add that Limnatis does little to answer that necessity in this
bluntly argued and yet often vague essay.
01 July 2003
Three Songs for Lenin | Dir. Dziga Vertov
(1934) | DVD
Baseline Encyclopedia of Film, cited here.
"Vertov's next film, THREE SONGS OF LENIN (1934), made in commemoration
of the tenth anniversary of Lenin's death, had to wait six months for
its official release, allegedly because it had failed to emphasize the
'important role' of Stalin in the Russian Revolution. Subsequently,
the proper footage was added. In spite of these complications, the film
turned out to be a popular success both at home and abroad. Even those
who had little reason to adore Lenin couldn't help praising the overall
elegance of its structure, the elegiac fluidity of montage, the lyrical
inner monologue and the highly expressive and technologically innovative
synchronous sound shots of people talking. In spite of such success,
by the end of the 1930s Vertov was deprived of any serious independent
work. He was not persecuted, like many of his avant-garde friends; he
lived for almost 20 years in obscurity, editing conventional newsreels,
the same kind of films he had once proven so capable of transforming
Poetry Blogs fifteen minute check, mid-afternoon EDT
reads Carla Harryman's contribution to Sal Mimeo
3: "Babys orality is amply figured." As the recipient
of Monkey's "meta-man"
confessions, I got to read the following sentence a split second before
anyone else did: "I have nothing worth saying to someone that isn't
somehow worth saying to everyone." Writing
dips into newly acquired volumes by Leslie Scalapino, Susan Howe, and
Rae Armantrout. Polis
is Eyes traces the ways class, income, and education play into the
particular complexities that are individual lives. A
Sorter interrupts a reading of Kant to announce Sawako Nakayasu's
newish (since June) blog, Texture
Notes: Writing from Japan.
Gideon Burrows | "Arms and the Taxman" | Guardian | 1
July 2003 | link
of the No-Nonsense Guide to the Arms Trade
(Verso) picks up an idea floated to little effect by Brazil's Lula da
Silva at the G8 conference in Evian: levy a tax on the international
arms trade (estimated at $32.6b in 2000) and use the proceeds to address
the structural roots of global hunger. "Certainly a one percent
tax would not raise even close to enough to eradicate world poverty,
but it would contribute millions to the fight. It would also have a
number of added benefits, not least of reducing arms transfers between
western nations, and expensive arms sales from rich countries to poor
The Nation | 14 July 2003
Eric Alterman surveys "the first steps in the enormously
expensive task of building [liberal] media institutions" capable
of counteracting "the combination of Fox/Limbaugh/Hannity/O'Reilly/the
Wall Street Journal/Heritage/Hoover/Cato/CSISto say nothing
of the colonization of the mainstream media by the conservative punditocracy"
(10). Compare the Gelernter
piece for the Weekly Standard noted here on 23 June. Jonathan
Schell likens the Bush administration's inability to set a consistent
policy on weapons proliferation in Iraq and North Korea to "cognitive
torture" (8). Katha Pollitt wants to see former daycare
worker Bernard Baran, jailed in the mid-80s on child-molestation charges,
go free (9).
Poetry Blogs middle of the night EDT
Knights attends a reading by Jen Hofer and Garrett Kalleberg at
Beyond Baroque in L.A. and also finds time for remarks on an obscure
tv movie from the 1970s, Pray for the Wildcats,
The Straight Story as reverse ostranenie, and a dozen road movies
to add to those listed at Never
looks at John Coplans's new photos in Art in America.
Elsewhere reports on
a Sunday afternoon screening of Bollywood clips, complete with stills
and audience reactions ("Raw terror mixed with giddy embarrassment?
Whatever it was, we began to play to it.") Cahiers
de Corey on Murat Nemen-Nejat, Ammiel Alcalay, and a reading in
Ithaca by Edmund Berrigan, Karen Weiser, and Anselm Berrigan.
The revamped Reading & Writing
site considers "Operation Desert Sidewinder" (see Guardian
story below). On CorpsePoetics,
kari edwards accepts a commission: "Send Back the Stamp."
Also, a copious report on the Barbara Guest fest "Audacious Imagination."
Ululate figures you'll
correct her if she's wrong. 5
Fingers Strong reports on "visiting my own blog to check if
maybe somehow miraculously there's a new post." A shoal
of new links courtesy of Mosses
from an Old Manse.