It is very likely that nearly every one has been very nearly certain that something that is interesting is interesting them....

15 July 2003 — Tuesday

§ New York Times | 14 - 15 July 2003 | link requires registration

The Democratic 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+).

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14 July 2003 — Monday

§ All or Nothing | Dir. Mike Leigh (2002) | DVD

From Charles 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

An admirable introduction to the poetic, political, and ethical issues raised by recent attempts—Snyder surveys nine separate volumes since the mid-1980s—to 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 postconfessional—or, 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 service—not unlike that of translation itself—brightly and responsibly performed.

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12 July 2003 — Saturday

§ Brian Kim Stefans | "Getting Ready to Have Been Skunked" | 11 July 2003 | Free Space Comix | archive link

My quick pointer to Brian Kim Stefans's ongoing defense of Lowell (and denigration of Silliman) of a few days ago may have gotten Lime 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; it’s 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 see—like dropping Radiohead's 'Morning Bell,' one of their sweeter songs, into Eno's 'tedious' 'Thursday Afternoon'—that you will hear compression, negativity, focus, passion, and noise."

I don't need to find this convincing—indeed 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

Just getting around to this interesting talk, which Equanimity called attention to some time ago.

Some reading 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" [5]), and religious veneration ("we have nominated something that's beyond critique" [6]). • "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" (14).

• 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 from scale.

§ Iowa General Assembly | Senate Concurrent Resolution 124 | April 1996 | link

§ Old News — New York Times | 10-12 July 2003

The Senate 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 Iraq—that'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).

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11 July 2003 — Friday

§ Immanuel Wallerstein | "Entering Global Anarchy" | New Left Review 22 | July / August 2003 | 27-35 & Immanuel Wallerstein | "U.S. Weakness and the Struggle for Hegemony" | Monthly Review | July / August 2003 | 23-29

"How 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).

"We have entered an anarchic transition—from 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 problem—for all our boats—will 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).

"[Y]ou 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 | "Dems—Why Not Woo the Young?" | The Nation | 21/28 July 2003 | 10 | print edition only

"College should be free. All of it. Harvard on down." • "Or maybe just forgive the loans."

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10 July 2003 — Thursday

§ John Lanchester | "Diary: Unbelievable Blair" | London Review of Books 25.13 | 10 July 2003 | 34-35 | link

"Many 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 | 87-93

I know 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

Charged 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).

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09 July 2003 — Wednesday

§ Christopher Masters | "Obituary: Enrico Baj (1924-2003)" | Guardian | 9 July 2003 | link

"Baj's 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

Silliman 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 importance—does 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 pop quiz ("Which poetry blogger are you most like?"): Limetree and Equanimity achieve self-identity ("He thinks I look alike"—Chico Marx), while Bemsha Swing, Tympan, CorpsePoetics, the Well 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: Never Neutral, A Sorter, Cahiers de Corey... • And, finally, the ever-prolific CorpePoetics on Plath, O'Hara, and an unnamed poet.

§ "Purple Majesty: James Quant Talks with Guy Maddin" | Artforum XLI.10 | Summer 2003 | 156+ | link

"JQ: Your love of the primitive seems to have no bounds—you collect 78s, for instance—and 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.

GM: I'm 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

"Upon 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."

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08 July 2003 — Tuesday

§ Nasrin Parvaz | "Beneath the Narcissus: A Woman's Experience of Iranian Prisons and Beyond" | Trans. Maryam Namazie | Feminist Review 73 (2003) | 71-85

Parvaz's terse first-hand vignettes of life after the "regime" destroyed the "revolution" survive a cursory-seeming translation. A few selections:

• 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 scream—look everyone—they are arresting me, here before your very eyes" (73).

• 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 population—in 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 spirits—Brecht 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 35" (83).

§ Stephen Kinzer | "Downfall in Nicaragua" | New York Review of Books L.12 | 17 July 2003 | 39-40

Arnoldo 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 stolen" (39).

§ William Doyle | "Lessons Spurned" | Rev. of five recent books on the French Revolution | Times Literary Supplement 5229 | 20 June 2003 | 7-8

According 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 revolution—contrary 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 transfer—the Church on a catastrophic scale, the nobles substantially but less seriously—but peasant gains were largely confined to the terms on which they owned land rather than the amount" (9).

§ 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

"Nelson 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).

Alan 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 link via ProjectMuse

A few of the titles that sound interesting:

• John Stauffer's The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation by Race (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 Golding.

• 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.

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07 July 2003 — Monday

§ Talk to Her (Hable con ella) | Dir. by Pedro Almodovar (2002) | DVD

"Talk 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

In which 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 requires registration

"'We 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 Word—Coup 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 requires registration

Excerpts 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

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06 July 2003 — Sunday

§ Julian Borger | "Oil and Terrorism Drive the Presidential Tour" | Guardian | 7 July 2003 | link

"The 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

The 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. • Never Neutral cites Benjamin on the sea of sleep—and 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 admiration—until 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 the Monkey 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 description—suitable for strangers at picnics—of a dissertation having to do with indeterminacy. • It's the dead of winter, 1986, at fait accompli—what better season for "an auteur theory / of theory"? • Pantaloons 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 the diary."

§ Charlie's Angels | Dir. by McG (2000) | DVD

As Stephanie Zacharek wrote 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

Leander Paes and Martina Navratilova's victory in the final was surprisingly moving to me. It couldn't have been the tough competition—they commanded nearly every point in their straight set victory—so 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 times—to participate in the debate and in the defense of the university" (18).

• 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, noted here.

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05 July 2003 — Saturday

§ The Economist | 28 June 2003

The "Lexington" 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" (80).

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04 July 2003 — Friday

§ Bookforum 10.2 | Summer 2003 | limited on-line content

While Bookforum 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

Holiday quietude prevails, with a few exceptions. • Limetree follows through on Wednesday's promise of more content with guest turns by Kent 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). Kasey 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 claim—there is no third way—smacks 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!" • And Fait Accompli's thoughts are on Berrigan as well. • If you follow yesterday's link 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 Stalin."

§ Old news — catching up on the New York Times | 30 June - 2 July

02 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.

30 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 principled—not merely personal—stand 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).

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03 July 2003 — Thursday

§ 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

"Boyd's 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

Free 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 out—though 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

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02 July 2003 — Wednesday

§ Poetry Blogs — mid-afternoon EDT

Overlap 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. It’s 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 Weather. • Silliman 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 Theory. • Pantaloons 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

Wolin diagnoses 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

The 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?" • CorpsePoetics 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

Poetry 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

There is 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

Limnatis 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 — Tuesday

§ Three Songs for Lenin | Dir. Dziga Vertov (1934) | DVD

From the 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 into art."

§ Poetry Blogs — fifteen minute check, mid-afternoon EDT

Silliman reads Carla Harryman's contribution to Sal Mimeo 3: "Baby’s 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

The author 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 ones."

§ The Nation | 14 July 2003

The columnists — 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/CSIS—to 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

Harlequin 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 Neutral. • Pantaloons 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.


nb current | nb archive: 16-30 June 20031-15 June 2003

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