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

30 June 2003 — Monday

§ David Teather | "US Begins Iraq Crackdown as Soldiers Found Dead" | 30 June 2003 | Guardian | link

On the launch of "Operation Sidewinder": "In a candid interview on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost, Mr Bremer said pockets of resistance in Iraq would be crushed. 'We are going to fight them and impose our will on them and we will capture or, if necessary, kill them until we have imposed law and order upon this country,' he said."

§ Poetry blogs — around noon EDT

Equanimity relies on outside stimuli (me too). • Silliman on the Malevich show at the Guggenheim: "While Malevich has often been characterized as a painter of geometric shapes, it is in fact all the off center moments that predominate in this exhibition." • Monkey gets Rae Armantrout and Fanny Howe behind the audblog mic (more or less). • The Well Nourished Moon digs out Bill Luoma's delicious take on Sappho's "Phainetai Moi." • Overlap finds the sweet spot in Scalia's dissenting opinion. • And Mosses finds the same in Bromige's interview with Doug Powell at Jacket. • A Sorter attends the "Audacious Imagination" event held in honor of Barbara Guest at the Berkeley Art Museum: "Despite this pretentious failure to articulate, much less recognize, critical values, the readers somewhat fleshed-out a vast and difficult poetics which, interestingly, teemed with critical insight." • Setting out from Lynch's Straight Story, Limetree arrives at the following insight: "Paradoxically, it's politically 'safer' to like something really stupid than it is to like something that might turn out to be stupid if you think about it (or listen to someone else who's thought about it) long enough." • Human Verb shows us his pretty tempting to do list. • It isn't new, but I didn't note it earlier and it remains SDPG's lead: a field report on Fait Accompli, where the dial today is set to 1991: "I'm no longer / listening to me." • Tympan continues to research legal strategies for booting Billy Collins (and drafting Bootsy?—be sure to check out the Schwitters-like "personal salute").

§ David Brooks | "Democrats Go off the Cliff" | Weekly Standard | 30 June 2003 | 23-26

Lack of power is depriving democrats of their sanity: "Those on the bottom become vicious. Sensing that their dignity is perpetually insulted, they begin to see their plight in lurid terms. They exaggerate the power of their foes. They invent malevolent conspiracy theories to explain their unfortunate position. They develop a gloomy and panicked view of the world" (25). Among those affected (in addition to the presidential candidates): Robert Byrd, Bill Moyers, Harold Meyerson, Janet Reno, Tim Robbins, Bob Shrum, Donna Brazile, Hendrik Hertzberg, Thomas Frank. "But liberals are sincere. They despair that a consortium of conservative think tanks, talk radio hosts, and Fox News...has cohered to form a dazzlingly efficient ideology delivery system that swamps liberal efforts to get their ideas out" (24).

29 June 2003 — Sunday

§ Pankaj Mishra | "The Way to the Middle Way" | Rev. of The Search for the Buddha: The Men Who Discovered India's Lost Religion by Charles Allen | New York Review of Books L.10 | 12 June 2003 | 34-37

"A Hungarian searching for the intellectual basis of a hopeful nationalism; and English vet looking for horses and seeking also to advance British imperialist aims; a French botanist collecting specimens on behalf of a new European institution—it was such unlikely men with diverse, not very Buddhistic, motives, and much error and accident, that helped create the first Western views of the Buddha" (37).

§ Poetry blogs — shorter Sunday edition

Tympan bones up on Title 2, Chapter 5, Section 177 of the legal code. • Silliman receives clarification on the word phaneronoemikon from Lanny Quarle and Jeffrey Jullich.

27 June 2003 — Friday

§ Michael Pinto-Duschinsky | "All in the Translation: What the Proposed European Constitution Means for Britain" | Times Literary Supplement 5228 | 13 June 2003 | 3-5 | Link to preliminary draft of "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe."

An anti-federalist predictably finds little to be pleased about in the draft constitution brought forward by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and others last weekend. Noting that linguistic diversity alone is sure to play havoc with judicial interpretation of the document ("A twenty-one language constitution is likely to create legal problems"), the author goes on to discern "at least seven visions" operating behind the draft (only one of which—the "anti-American" one—is much addressed by the Andrew Sullivan piece mentioned here yesterday). Furthermore, key terms like "participatory democracy" and "civil society" remain as hard to pin down as ever. Despite the writer's nationalist bias, the article does point out just how numerous are the practical ramifications of "ever-closer union" that no one, apparently, as yet can understand or predict. (For more on the constitution, see Sullivan, noted here 26 June; also the Economist special report, noted 25 June.)

§ Results are in from MoveOn's endorsement election (in which 300,000 people participated). None of the candidates were able to get to the 50% threshold for formal endorsement, but Dean received 43.87%, Kucinich took 23.93%, and Kerry got 15.73%. Of the remaining candidates, none received more than the 3.19% of Edwards, with Lieberman taking only 1.93% and Sharpton coming in at .53%. | Link to Washington Post coverage.

§ Poetry blogs — midafternoon EDT on the second day of the "Big Post Error" era

Equanimity notes the passage of Strom Thurmond from this earth. Also, journalistic dependence upon corporate press releases. • Cahiers de Corey is flabbergasted to find a poet among Entertainment Weekly's hundred most interesting people in entertainment. • Limetree animates his links between stints reading Ovid's Amores in the original. • Tympan returns with a reading of DeLillo's Cosmopolis: "DeLillo riffs effortlessly on some of our conceptions of contemporary poetry: the material text, the breath-based line, poetry as meditation. And yet we don't know how seriously to take this, as it seems to appear only as fodder for the protagonist's self-absorption." • Elsewhere responds enthusiastically to Steve McCaffery's Seven Pages Missing: "I'll just come right out and say it: the second volume of this collection has been, in the two weeks since I picked it up at Bridge Street Books in Washington, D.C., the most inspiring collection of poetry I've read in a long time." • The Well Nourished Moon reports on a backyard reading by Lee Ann Brown, Stacy Szymaszek and Stephen Vincent. • Ululations describes a compelling and dubious website devoted to narcissism. • Silliman reads Kiosk 2 and ponders allusiveness in Cabri and Child, genre in Scalapino, colons in K. Silem Mohammad, and Blau DuPlessis's attainment of a "transcendental level" with "Drafts 56: Bildungsgedicht with Apple." • CorpsePoetics on punk and her grunt-level first job at the NYT (compare to Elizabeth Kolbert, mentioned below).

§ "With Borrowed Eyes: Abbas Kiarostami interviewed by David Sterritt" | Film Comment | July / August 2000 | 21-26

With a movie like The Wind Will Carry Us, "we as viewers can create things according to our own experiences—the things we don't see, that aren't visible. There are eleven people in this movie who are not visible. At the end you know you haven't seen them, but you feel you know who they were and what they were about" (25).

26 June 2003 — Thursday

§ Poetry blogs — courtesy of the links provided on Harlequin Knights, circa 11pm EDT

Harlequin Knights chooses Pasolini over Buñuel, but with good reason. Bloggedy Blog Blog recalls Joe Chaikin and Ruby Cohn and the versions of Beckett each proposed. Never Neutral is overtaken by Celan's 1960 "Meridian" speech. Parking Lot joins Overlap (19 June) in appreciating George Albon's Stein-titled Thousands Count Out Loud. Tex Files on limb-loosening Sappho. Which puts the Well Nourished Moon in mind of Bill Luoma's translations, if not his name.

§ On screen — The Wind Will Carry Us | Dir. Abbas Kiarostami (2000) | DVD

From a "best of 2000" review on Deep Focus:"The film derives its title from a softly erotic poem by Foroogh Farrokhzaad, which is recited by Dourani in a darkened cellar to a young woman who is milking a cow for him. (You can imagine the symbolism.) Kiarostami's greatest achievement here may be the documentary-style recreation of the village (and the nearby hillside to which he must hurry in order to take cell phone calls) in such geographic detail that, walking out of the theater, you feel you've actually spent some time there. Otherwise, the film is merely gorgeous, strikingly observed, and, against the odds, really quite funny."

§ New York Times | 26 June 2003

The four hundred taxpayers who make up "the nation's aristocracy" earned more than one percent of all income in the U.S. in 2000, according to David Cay Johnston's front page story.

David E. Sanger and Warren Hoge note that Blair is being made to pay, politically, for the falsified intelligence documents that legitimated the Iraq war, while Bush has so far gotten a pass: "Mr. Bush's protective press aides have been successful at shielding him from many questions on the subject, but even when reporters had brief access to the president...they asked about other subjects. 'That would be unimaginable in London, at least in this environment,' a British diplomat said here today" (A14).

Safire stays on the FCC case, claiming that rollback bills in the House and Senate could succeed if, as North Carolina Republican Richard Burr puts it, "a clear perception of public outrage" is made manifest. "And to move Bush and DeLay," Safire adds, "that expression of snail mail and e-mail outrage must come from the right—from believers in strong local say about the means and content of communication, acting while there is still time" (A26).

§ Newt Gingrich | "Rogue State Department" | Foreign Policy | July/August 2003 | 42-48

Gingrich wants to bring the "shock and awe" treatment to Powell's state department as a means of synching it up to "Bush's views and objectives" (46). Among his recommendations, a renewed global propaganda campaign: the "rise of a global anti-American network of activists and nations—including left-wing nongovernmental organizations, elite media, and most of the elite academics around the world (including the United States)—further increases the country's need for a comprehensive communication and information strategy. The British Broadcasting Corporation, according to some observers, was at least as hostile to the United States as Al Jazeera was during the entire Iraqi conflict. Today, the United States does not have a strategy, structure, or resource allocation capable of dealing with this sort of opposition" (46).

§ Andrew Sullivan | "The Euro Menace: The Threat of European Integration" | The New Republic | 16 June 2003 | 22-26

Sullivan sees the "new federalist constitution" in Europe as an unwelcome instrument that will "subtly but profoundly institutionalize" anti-Americanism abroad (22). His conclusion is that "[k]eeping Britain both in the USE [United States of Europe] and outside of it militarily, diplomatically, and monetarily should become a prime U.S. objective in foreign policy. Without it, the United States could lose is most valuable military and diplomatic ally. If you think that's unimportant, imagine the Iraq war—diplomatically and militarily—without the fig leaf of British support."

§ George Monbiot | "How to Stop America" | New Statesman | 9 June 2003 | 16- 18

Monbiot wants an alternative to "direct global governance by the United States" and thinks that a "world parliament" in which "each nation's vote" would be "weighed according to both the number of people it represents and its degree of democratisation" (17) could be the answer. "Our task is not to overthrow globalisation, but to capture it, and to use it as a vehicle for humanity's first global democratic revolution" (18).

§ Elizabeth Kolbert | "Tumult in the Newsroom: Why Chronic Insecurity Is Every Times Reporter's Lot" | New Yorker | 30 June 2003 | 42-46

Five pages in illustration of the maxim "Woe to the editor whose newsroom becomes the news" from a former Times reporter. Happily there is no equivalent in poetry to the following scenario recounted by Kolbert: "My colleagues and I worried endlessly over our positions in the hierarchy and had worked out to several decimal places which assignments were to be covered, based not on their intrinsic merits but on this status. (City Hall was better than Police Headquarters, Police Headquarters was better than the Brooklyn courthouse, the Brooklyn Courthouse was better than Trenton, and anything was better than Long Island.) We rushed to get the early edition of the paper as soon as it appeared on Manhattan newsstands, which in those days was around 11 P.M. The pleasure of a really great story was usually mixed with envy, while the pleasure of a really awful one was pure and uncomplicated" (43).

§ Poetry blogs — circa 11am EDT

Ululations gets started on a Google-assisted study of narcissism Silliman's return looks to be delayed by new software at Blogger. The Skeptic reads Mark DeCarteret's poem "Anesthetic." Porthole Redux purchases a skateboard. An "Homage to Baudelaire" (whose birthday was yesterday) at Mosses from an Old Manse: "It operates his preoccupations, his desires, off from the switch directly." Limetree makes Eugene Ostashevsky sound scary and talented. Laurable, I'd guess, is somewhere about book V of Maximus by now. Monkey's got a track-by-track take on Continuous Peasant's debut cd Exile in Babyville: "Stroffolino's voice and lyrics star above a warm maelstrom of guitars and zap."Human Verb has free print-out privileges at Smith College and an interesting take on Emmanuel Hocquard. • Rod Smith's Music or Honesty gets a "little review" at FSC and another installment in the dialog about Circulars appears. It's August 1986 and Valery, Spicer, and not God are accomplished facts. (But things get strange further downscreen). Equanimity eases into another blogcasting day with notes on Judith Miller, fighting in Monrovia, Jack Collom, inverted pyramids, and Brian's review of Rod. Cahiers de Corey admires a poem by Karen L. Anderson and cites Kristin Prevallet at some length on Edouard Glissant's ideas about "relational poetics."

25 June 2003 — Wednesday

§ On screen — Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars | Dir. by D.A. Pennebaker (1973) | DVD

The digitally-remastered version of Pennebaker's film, originally shot at Hammersmith Odeon on 3 July 1973 as Bowie closed his world tour and retired the Ziggy Stardust persona. Tony Visconti's remixed soundtrack is still frustratingly bad, Bowie seems worn out and oddly uncharismatic, and the show's signature color remains an unvarying and unflattering Martian red-orange. Even so, I enjoyed watching Mick Ronson's thick makeup melt under the house lights, the shots of Bowie shimmying in and out of his many costumes, and a number of the songs—especially the "White Light White Heat" cover in the encore and the "Rock and Roll Suicide" finale. | Read Phil Hall's review at Film Threat.

§ David Corn | "Probing 9/11" | The Nation | 7 July 2003 | 14-16

Six months after it began work—and with only a year more to complete its investigations and file a final report—the independent commission appointed by Congress to answer the many questions surrounding the events of 9/11 has airline and other industry pressures and an administration addicted to secrecy to contend with. The ten-person commission has a staff of fifty that has been divided into nine investigative teams: "Al Qaeda and terrorism, the intelligence community, US counterterrorism policy, terrorist financing, border control and terrorist watch lists, domestic law enforcement and intelligence, aviation and transportation security, the emergency responses to the attacks, and the White House's and federal government's reactions to the strikes" (16).

§ Matt LeMay | Rev. of Liz Phair by Liz Phair (2003) | Pitchfork | 25 June 2003

In two years of scanning Pitchfork fairly regularly, I don't recall ever seeing a rating of "O.O" before. "Ten years after Exile, Liz has finally managed to accomplish what seems to have been her goal ever since the possibility of commercial success first presented itself: to release an album that could have just as easily been made by anybody else."

§ "Special Report: Europe's Constitution" | The Economist | 21 June 2003 | 51-54 | link

A three-page primer, in question and answer form, about the draft constitution for the European Union presented in Greece last weekend.

§ Poetry blogs —circa 1pm EDT

An elsewhere manifesto emerges. Overlap presents a reading report on yesterday's Donnelly, Armantrout, Silliman event at the Drawing Center. And Silliman himself takes a holiday in the city. Equanimity reports back on the tests people are putting poetry to. A "little review" of Kenneth Goldsmith's Day at Free Space Comix. Monkey (jism exiled) recounts a Laurable dream. • While Laurable wonders who will join her for an Olsonathon at Tomkins Square Park CorpsePoetics compensates for the stamp Fence stole by emptying the mailbag. Reading & Writing readies itself for a leap from blogger to movable type. Harlequin Knights cites Barthes on what makes sentences sexy.

24 June 2003 — Tuesday

§ Caetano Veloso | Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil | Trans. Isabel de Sena | Ed. Barbara Einzig | New York: Knopf, 2002

From the introduction: "Elizabeth Bishop, the American poet who lived in Brazil between 1952 and 1970, praised the rallies organized in support of the military [which had staged a coup in 1964], explaining in letters to her friends in the United States that while those demonstrations had 'originally been organized as anticommunist parades,' they 'were becoming victory marches—more than one million people marching in the rain!' And she concludes: 'It was totally spontaneous, they could not all be rich and right-wing reactionaries.' Today, when I read those words, I am even more astonished by the distortion of my own point of view at the time than by the author's (though, to be sure, hers was no less distorted). To discover her version of the coup d'état causes me some unease, but it is one more lesson, in these times when private virtues must be taken as the causes of public evils, to come to the realization that back then someone—a woman poet at that!—might thus sum up the military coup that sent to jail some of my finest schoolmates and professors: 'A few brave generals and the governors of three important states got together and, after a difficult forty-eight hours, it was all over. The (favorable) reactions have been really popular, thank God.' Apparently there was such a thing as right-wing good intentions" (6).

§ Michael Rushton | "Transaction Cost Politics and the National Endowment for the Arts" | Poetics 31 (2003): 133-50

Discussing the "bold, self-confident, innovative, and opinionated" early years of the NEA (the period between 1969 and 1977 when Nancy Hanks was chair), Rushton notes one controversial award of $500 "to Aram Saroyan for his poem, which read, in its entirety, 'LIGHGHT'" (143).

§ Nicholas Confessore | "Comparative Advantage" | The Washington Monthly | December 2002 | link

A link on the reliably good Tom Paine "Take on the News" blog lead me to this long, intermittently interesting profile of Paul Krugman. "More often, though, his scoops are conceptual. The tax cut, Bush's Social Security plan, Enron, the energy crisis, and Harken—all Krugman hobbyhorses—were widely covered in the media. But he has been the only prominent columnist to attempt to weave all of them into a single, continuing narrative about the Bush administration's policies, wealth inequality, corporate profiteering, and the ascendancy of crony capitalism."

§ New York Times | 24 June 2003

Coverage of Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action (narrowly upheld) and web-filters for public libraries (they're to be activated, though adults who request unfiltered web access should be granted it) dominate the front section.

Paul Krugman attributes the unwillingness of politicians and journalists to tackle the Bush administrations lies about Iraqi WMDs and links with Al Qaeda to simple cowardice: "Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability—and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It is a scary prospect" (A31).

Adam Nagourney covers Howard Dean's "official" campaign launch, noting the disappearance of the themes (opposition to the war, universal health care) that characterized the "guerrilla" phase of his campaign (A20).

Patrick E. Tyler reports that Iraq Overseer Paul Bremer would rather pay salaries to 250,000 idle Iraqi soldiers than see them go over over to the resistance (A13). Still, only 40,000 are envisioned to be needed in the post-occupation period (should it ever arrive). "This country was grotesquely overmilitarized," a senior American official is quoted as saying.

§ Art in America | July 2003

Among the "Front Page" bulletins are notices that Maxwell Anderson, director since 1998 of the Whitney, has resigned his post (back on 12 May), as has Jack Bankowsky, editor of Artforum for the past eleven years. Reviews editor Tim Griffin (formerly of Time Out New York and ArtByte) will take over the Artforum position. No successor to the Whitney job is mentioned.

§ Arundhati Roy | "Seize the Time" | In These Times | 7 July 2003 | 15-17

Roy's essay, adapted from a 17 May speech in New York, rehearses the left consensus on the Bush administration's imperial agenda before turning briefly to some suggestions for counter-imperial action. "It would be naïve to imagine that we can directly confront empire. Our strategy must be to isolate empire's working parts and disable them one by one. No target is too small. No victory too insignificant. We could reverse the idea of the economic sanctions imposed on poor countries by empire and its allies. We could impose a regime of 'peoples' sanctions' on every corporate house that has been awarded with a contract in postwar Iraq, just as activists in this country and around the world targeted institutions of apartheid. Each one of them should be named, exposed, and boycotted. Forced out of business. That could be our response to Shock and Awe. It would be a beginning" (17). Roy argues that "the only institution more powerful than the U.S. government is American civil society" and closes with a geo-pastoral promise: "If you join the battle, not in your hundreds of thousands, but in your millions, you will be greeted joyously by the rest of the world. And you will see how beautiful it is to be gentle instead of brutal, safe instead of scared. Befriended instead of isolated. Loved instead of hated" (17).

§ Lewis H. Lapham | "Notebook: The Demonstration Effect" | Harper's | June 2003 | 9-11

Lapham, the main editor at Harper's, pries the "lessons" of the Iraq war from the "government-inspected prose" in which they've mainly been encased. Three axioms emerge: first, "the moral splendor of American empire can be made to stand on a pedestal of lies"; second, "the American news media can be relied upon to sell the spectacle and leave the story to the government"; and, third, "package the imperialist agenda as instructive entertainment, and the American public will come to know and love the product" (9-10). An interesting aside: cigars, women's underwear, teddy bears, bubble-making wands, doll-house furnishings, ski boots, mouse pads, smoking jackets, yo-yos, and inflatable bathtub toys are among the products for which the "Shock and Awe" trademark has been sought (10).

23 June 2003 — Monday

§ David Gelernter | "The Next Great American Newspaper: Replacing the New York Times" | Weekly Standard | 23 June 2003 | 22-25

A Yale computer science professor argues that the conservative newspaper capable of providing a counterweight to the New York Times ("Manhattan was always intended for a Times and a Herald Tribune—one Democratic Alpha Male newspaper and one Republican") will have to be published on the web, and he just happens to have the commercial software to do it. "Imagine a parade of jumbo index cards standing like set-up dominoes. On your computer display, the parade of index cards stretches into the simulated depths of your screen, from the middle-bottom (where the front-most card stands, looking big) to the farthest-away card in the upper left corner (looking small). Now, something happens: Tony Blair makes a speech. A new card materializes in front (a report on the speech) and everyone else takes a step back—and the farthest-away card falls off the screen and (temporarily) disappears. So the parade is in constant motion" (24). Stories would be composed in "continuous series of lapidary paragraphs" and would come to resemble "a string of aphorisms" rather than a "long set-piece": "[I]t is no accident that two of three greatest writers of modern times should have loved writing aphorisms (Freud didn't, but Nietzsche and Wittgenstein did)" (24).

§ Nation | 7 July 2003

The columnists — Jonathan Schell on journalist Robert Kaplan's Atlantic article "frankly advocat[ing] a policy of American global domination that others leave between the lines" (7). Kaplan's model for doing things is, incredibly, U.S. policy in Latin America "over the past several decades." That means letting the CIA and Special Forces do the assassinating, local elites the massacring and disappearing of people, while neutralizing international law and domestic media. Schell thinks it sounds a little fascistic and a lot militarist. Patricia Williams on the hit and kiss occupation of Iraq (officials "call it carrot and stick, but it sounds awfully like the kind of abusive marriage where he roughs her up then shows up at the hospital with flowers" (10). Continuing a train of thought explored by Bob Perelman (vis-a-vis Cheney) in the po-editorial "Against Shock and Awe," Williams writes: "And so we pursue the kind of psychology that lends insight into what kind of childhood Donald Rumsfeld must have endured: We are 'breaking down' Iraqi prisoners by subjecting them to endless hours of the Barney theme song, while 'cheering up' Iraqi children with real live GI Joes" (10).

§ On screen — The Hours | Dir. by Stephen Daldry (2002) | DVD

Inexpert construction and insufferably self-important acting (or was it just a stilted script?) cancel out the interesting moments—of which there are nonetheless a fair number, all of them small-scale, and many of them wordless.

§ Economist | 21 June 2003

The "Lexington" column traces the story, ubiquitous in past months, about the shadow network of Leo Straussians that is rumored to be supplying the Bush team with its ideas back to Lyndon LaRouche's March posting of an item called "Fascist Godfather of the Neocons" to his Executive Intelligence Review website (29). "You might have thought that the article's overheated language and conspiracy-mongering would have killed the argument. But since then a flotilla of respectable publications, from the New Yorker to Le Monde, have jumped on the bandwagon." A nothing-new-to-say piece about monetary policy in Brazil (30). A begrudging "defense of elderly hippies" that skeptically examines Strom Thurmond Jr.'s use of an obscure clause in Secret Service law to wage a legal crusade again 54-year old Brett Bursey, the anti-Bush activist who was busted last October for holding up a "No War for Oil" placard at a Columbia, South Carolina airport where Bush was scheduled to visit. "The prosecutors say that Mr Bursey was not in a special 'free-speech zone' half a mile from the hangar.... Mr Bursey told the cops, defiantly, that he was under the impression that the whole of America was a free-speech zone'" (27). [Click here for Democracy Now!'s coverage of the Bursey case]

§ New York Times | 23 June 2003

Dean E. Murphy reports on the legal fate of the roughly 3000 people arrested during the anti-war demonstrations of March. Many misdemeanor charges have been commuted to "infraction" status, with $100 fines attached, but "most of the arrested demonstrators are choosing to fight the infractions." Fran Peavey, described by Murphy as a 62-year old writer who was "arrested in her wheelchair block for blocking Bush street," is quoted saying "Yes, technically we broke the law, but if some of us started paying the fines, what would that say to the people who can't afford to. It would keep the poor people away" (A14). Edmund L. Andrews covers Paul Bremer's address to the World Economic Forum (previewed by Steven Weisman yesterday) outlining the plan for "turning Iraq into a Middle East model of free trade and deregulation" (A13). Monica Davey covers the forum with Democratic presidential candidates hosted yesterday by the Rainbow/PUSH convention: "During the two-hour forum, the candidates took every opportunity to criticize the president. They said he was supporting the rich and forgetting the poor, dividing the nation by race, creating circumstances that have left millions of people, particularly black people, behind bars" (A19). Carol Mosely Brown: "We are witnessing a failed presidency." Al Sharpton: "We must next year make it clear that we will not be mugged by those who mugged us in Florida."

§ Naomi Klein | "Now Bush Wants to Buy the Complicity of Aid Workers" | Guardian | 23 June 2003 | link

Klein argues that the Bush administration is waging a two-front war on the independence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs): "One buys the silence and complicity of mainstream humanitarian and religious groups by offering lucrative reconstruction contracts. The other marginalises and criminalises more independent-minded NGOs by claiming that their work is a threat to democracy. The US Agency for International Development (USaid) is in charge of handing out the carrots, while the American Enterprise Institute, the most powerful think-tank in Washington, is wielding the sticks." The "AEI is more than a think-tank—it's Bush's outsourced brain."

22 June 2003 — Sunday

§ Dan Baum | "Nation Builders for Hire" | New York Times Magazine | 22 June 2003 | 32-37

A much more substantial piece than the one noted from Le Monde (below, 20 June) on the role of Kellogg Brown & Root—a subsidiary of Halliburton that produces about half of the parent company's $12.5b annual revenue—in the current occupation and reconstruction of Iraq. "The Army says KBR got the Iraqi oil-field contract without having to compete for it because, according to the Army's classified contingency plan for repairing Iraq's infrastructure, KBR was the only company with the skills, resources and security clearances to do the job on short notice. Who wrote the Army's contingency plan? KBR. It was in a position to do so because it holds another contract that is poorly understood yet in many ways more important and potentially bigger than the one to repair the oil fields: the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or Logcap, which essentially turns KBR into a kind of for-profit Ministry of Public Works for the Army. Under Logcap,which KBR won in open bidding in 2001, KBR is on call to the army for 10 years to do a lot of the things most people think soldiers do for themselves—from fixing trucks to warehousing ammunition, from delivering mail to cleaning up hazardous waste" (34). Later: "KBR/Halliburton, then, has rounded the bases when it comes to Iraq. It got rich doing business with Iraq, it got rich preparing to destroy Iraq and it's now getting rich rebuilding Iraq" (35).

§ David Skinner | "Hip Hop Away: The Pseudo-Poetry of Our Time" | Rev. of The Spoken Word Revolution, edited by Marc Eleveld | Weekly Standard 8.40 | 23 June 2003 | 37-38

The magazine that recently argued the thesis—with which CLR James would likely have agreed—that Whitman would have been all for Gulf War II sets its assistant managing editor to attacking slam poetry. "[O]ne has to admit, the poetry is accessible, passionate, and rhythmic. ¶ It's also utterly unserious. It grants no new insights into its listener's life and times. Beauty does not become more striking while it's being recited. Neither does one's sense of the sacred, or even one's sense of language. Indeed, low ambition is what dooms this popular movement, whose democratizing efforts one might otherwise welcome" (37).

§ Slavoj Zizek | "Ideology Reloaded" | Rev. of The Matrix Reloaded by Andy and Larry Wachowski | In These Times 27.16 | June 2003 | 23-25 | link

Having counseled against taking the "philosophy" of The Matrix franchise too seriously, Zizek goes on to extract some serious (and to my mind dubious) political consequences from it. Where the new installment leaves us, he argues, is with "a failure of 'cognitive mapping' that perfectly mirrors the sad predicament of today's left and its struggle against the System" (25). The questions behind the predicament are "not only whether any revolutions against the Matrix can accomplish what they claim or whether they have to end in an orgy of destruction, but whether they are not taken into account, planned even, by the Matrix itself" (25). This is idiotic stuff, since perhaps the only interesting thing about the Matrix (it couldn't be the acting, writing, or effects) is what a bad metaphor it makes for contemporary social reality, but Zizek does better with a minor point about why in the world the Matrix-operating machines "need human energy" in the first place: "The Matrix could have easily found another more reliable source of energy, which would have not demanded the extremely complex arrangement of virtual reality coordinated for millions of human units. The only consistent answer is that the Matrix feeds on human jouissance" (25). Just like Zizek feeds on Lacan, I guess.

§ New York Times | 22 June 2003

Steven R. Weisman reports on "Overseer" Paul Bremer III's remarks to reporters in advance of a speech to the World Economic Forum on the status of the occupation of Iraq: "Mr. Bremer sought to counter the image of an Iraq that is sliding into chaos, with rising attacks on American troops and frustration over the inability to find Saddam Hussein or unconventional weapons" (1:12). Elaine Sciolino on the 20,000 new light bulbs that have been woven into the architecture of the Eiffel Tower. "As the project went along, architects discovered that the existing architectural plan of the Eiffel Tower was inaccurate, so it had to be redrawn by computer" (1:6). A Tom Toles cartoon shows five panels of Bush's losing battle with the Segway, and a sixth of Ari Fleischer saying "The goal was not to ride the Segway, the goal was to free the Iraqi people" (4:4).

21 June 2003 —Saturday

§ New York Times | 20 June 2003

Adam Clymer reports that John Ashcroft would like the media to help him explain the Patriot Act, the "complaints and misunderstandings" about which have gotten so bad that Ashcrofts is driven to lamely joke that he "heard a fellow said his car wouldn't start the other day, and he blamed the Patriot Act" (A12). Since it's too hard to choose among the people and things John Ashcroft has found occasion to blame irrationally, I'll let my own lame joke pass.

§ New York Times | 19 June 2003

Two pieces in the "Circuits" section on digital cinema": Eric A. Taub's "Among Film's Ghosts, Its Future" (E1) and Steve Lohn's "Where Cinéastes, Software and Schools Converge." The former quotes a Texas Instruments business manager: "'Some say a film print is equivalent to 5,000 lines of resolution, but by the time it's been show a lot, its effective resolution may be no more than 800 lines.'" This matters because, according to Taub, digital projectors currently can currently get to about 1,300 lines of resolution. Catherine Greenman turns in an inane blogging how-to: "A Blogger's Big-Fish Fantasy" (E6).

§ Bill Moyers | "This Is Your Story — The Progressive Story of America, Pass It On" | link

Moyers delivered this speech recalling the Progressive movement that flourished in the U.S. between 1892 and 1912 at the recent "Take Back American" conference, with most of the Democratic presidential candidates in the audience. "What will it take to get back in the fight? Understanding the real interests and deep opinions of the American people is the first thing. And what are those? That a Social Security card is not a private portfolio statement but a membership ticket in a society where we all contribute to a common treasury so that none need face the indignities of poverty in old age without that help. That tax evasion is not a form of conserving investment capital but a brazen abandonment of responsibility to the country. That income inequality is not a sign of freedom-of-opportunity at work, because if it persists and grows, then unless you believe that some people are naturally born to ride and some to wear saddles, it's a sign that opportunity is less than equal. That self-interest is a great motivator for producers and progress, but is amoral unless contained within the framework of community. That the rich have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more homes, vacations, gadgets and gizmos, but they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else. That public services, when privatized, serve only those who can afford them and weaken the sense that we all rise and fall together as 'one nation, indivisible.' That concentration in the production of goods may sometimes be useful and efficient, but monopoly over the dissemination of ideas is evil. That prosperity requires good wages and benefits for workers. And that our nation can no more survive as half democracy and half oligarchy than it could survive 'half slave and half free'—and that keeping it from becoming all oligarchy is steady work—our work." (Thanks to Dan Bouchard for the link.)

20 June 2003 — Friday

§ Spirited Away | Dir. by Hayao Miyazaki (2001) | DVD

Click here for a review on Deep Focus. "An adventure yarn with the brazen craziness of Lewis Carroll, it's also, subtly, a child's drama of love, melancholy, and the first stirrings of rebellion. The characters are rich and strange and the settings endlessly evocative. After 12 months spent at the movies without seeing anything that I'd rate higher than an A-, I started to wonder, is it possible that they still make them like this? Well, yes. It is."

§ Jordan Davis | Rev. of The Sleep That Changed Everything by Lee Ann Brown | Constant Critic | 17 June 2003 | link

"Brown...organizes her uncommonly long books into sections that differ from each other the way rings in a circus do: present beau hymns to the muses go here next to the N+7 operations on familiar allegiance texts, precisely observed miniatures hover in this corner, Steinian meditations make frequent flagrant rendezvous with the recognizable vulnerable world here at the end."

§ Tom Frank | "Commentary: De-funding Government" | Marketplace | 19 June 2003 | link

Frank does a two-minute reduction of his 10-page Harper's cover story (noted here on 11 June) for NPR's financial program. (To reach the stand-alone Real Audio file of the piece, just scroll down a bit on the page opened by the link given above).

§ Lucio Guerrero | "Poetic justice: Group sues bank over drop in big gift" | Chicago Sun-Times | 22 May 2003

The value of the much-publicized gift from heiress Ruth Lilly to Poetry magazine shrunk by about a third between the time of its announcement (when Lilly stocks were at $75 a share) and the day the National City Bank of Indiana sold the shares for $48. The Poetry Foundation is suing the bank for failure to diversify the holdings prior to cashing them out.

§ Brian Faler | "Democratic Hopefuls to Vie for Early Endorsement" | Washington Post | 14 June 2003 | link

Brief piece on MoveOn's "early endorsement" strategy: "The group counts 1.4 million members nationwide, and will vote based, in part, on the candidates' responses to a questionnaire it distributed this week. It asked the candidates seven questions, including whether they would seek repeal of the Patriot Act, if they support progressive environmental policies and how they would stand up to the "unhealthy" policies of the Bush administration. The responses to the questions, due next week, will be posted on the organization's Web site.

§ Steve Rendall and Tara Broughel | "Amplifying Officials, Squelching Dissent: FAIR study finds democracy poorly served by war coverage" | Extra! The Magazine of FAIR—The Media Watch Group 16.3 | June 2003 | 12-14

A study of three weeks of war coverage by six networks and newschannels puts numbers to what one already knew: for instance, "while the percentage of Americans opposing the war was about 10 times higher in the real world as on the nightly news (27 percent versus 3 percent), their proportion of the guestlist may still overstate the degree to which they were able to present their views on U.S. television. Guests with anti-war viewpoints were almost universally allowed one-sentence soundbites taken from interviews on the street. Not a single show in the study conducted a sit-down interview with a person identified as being against the war" (14).

§ "Halliburton, principal bénéficiaire de la reconstruction de l'Irak" | Le Monde | 20 June 2003 | link

They'll oversee the oil production that is scheduled to start up again in Irak this Sunday, but Halliburton's $600m in war-related contracts—most of them secretly awarded—cover many other things as well, including the lucrative task of providing food and bottled water nearly 150,000 troops occupying the region.

§ Edward Said | "A Road Map to Where?" | London Review of Books 25.12 | 19 June 2003 | 3+

Said not unpredictably dismisses the Bush "road map" as "an unsituated document, oblivious of its time and place" (3). He denounces the "gigantic 'separation' wall" that is "going up with scarcely a peep from the majority of Israelis, or from their American allies who, whether they like it or not, are going to pay for most of it" (3) and he offers some insights into the background of Mahmoud Abbas, whom he views as another member of the "recycled and ageing Arafat cohort" that still controls the Palestinian Authority (5), but the real point of the article is only reached in the concluding three paragraphs or so of praise for the National Political Initiative (NPI), which he describes as "the only genuine grassroots formation that steers clear both of the religious parties and their fundamentally sectarian politics, and of the traditional nationalism offered up by Arafat's old (rather than young) Fatah activists" (5).

19 June 2003 — Thursday

§ New York Times | 19 June 2003

Did Nicolas Wade write his front-page piece on the Y chromosome just to get the following sentence: "This narcissistic process of salvation by palindrome seems to be what has saved men from extinction so far"? The National Labor Relations Board finds that Wal-Mart broke the law when it shut down the meat-cutting department at a Jacksonville, Texas store after a majority of the dozen people working in the department voted to unionize in February of 2000. The second editorial commends Maine for its newly-adopted health care program (see 15 June below). Kenneth Chang's report on experiments at the Brookhaven National Laboratory that may have yielded the "hottest, densest matter ever observed" (A23) reminds me of the 18 May New York Times Book Review piece in which Dennis Overbye summarized some of the doomsday scenarios sketched by Martin Rees in his book Our Final Hour. According to Rees, when the first atomic bomb was tested, one risk was that it would ignite all the nitrogen in the atmosphere and incinerate everyone (they went ahead anyway). Another, more recent, threat: an experiment "in which atomic nuclei would be accelerated to collide at high speeds," possibly causing "all the matter in the earth to collapse into exotic dense particles called 'strangelets.'"

§ On screen — Blithe Spirit | Dir. by David Lean, 1945 | Written and produced by Noel Coward

Green-hued (to signify "ectoplasmic") ex-wives banter with a very dapper Rex Harrison. I didn't catch the credit for the female medium who unleashes all the havoc, but she was played with a kind of awkward, compulsively watchable wierdness that reminded me of The Killing of Sister George.

§ Antonio D'Ambrosio | "'Let Fury Have the Hour': The Passionate Politics of Joe Strummer" | Monthly Review | June 2003 | 34-43

The co-founder and co-director of New York's La Lutta New Media Collective eulogizes the Clash's front man. I hadn't realized—though it must be well-known—that Bo Diddley opened on the band's first, eight-date U.S. tour in 1979, a tour that Strummer credited with "open[ing] his eyes to the 'commodification of music'" and exposing "the terrible resistance and hatred of anything that attempts to grow outside the dominant economic and social structure" (39).

§ Drew Gardner | Reading notes on George Albon's Thousands Count Out Loud | 19 June 2003 | Overlap

§ In the air — Continuous Peasant (w/poet Chris Stroffolino on vocals and keyboards) | Exile in Babyville | Goodforks 144

§ Kenneth Maxwell | "Lula's Surprise" | New York Review of Books L.11 | 3 July 2003 | 27-29

A useful supplement to the more comprehensive piece on "The Cardoso Legacy" and its likely ramifications for the recently-elected populist leader that Perry Anderson published in the 12 December 2003 issue of the London Review of Books. Maxwell reconstructs Lula's cautious early course and suggests that "within the next four to five months it should be clear whether his tactical victories can be transformed into strategic reforms that he can sustain" (29). The Brazilian Congress takes up legislation to reform the social security system (described by Maxwell as "grotesque") this month, and a controversial reform of the tax code is to follow. Meanwhile, it falls to Lula to negotiate with the Bush team on the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas). Maxwell concludes by wondering "whether a leader with a genuinely egalitarian social vision can succeed in the global economy" (29). According to Anderson's analysis, the answer, sadly, is no.

18 June 2003 — Wednesday

§ Dale Smith | "Putting Away the Library of Books Accumulating on My Desk" | Possum Pouch | 11 June 2003

Quick takes and ordering info on a lot of the books that I'd be putting away too if I could find a clear shelf anywhere in the house.

§ Richard Ryan | "When Journalism Becomes 'Terrorism': Perle Goes on Offensive against Investigative Reporting" | Extra!: The Magazine of FAIR—The Media Watch Group 16.3 | June 2003 | 29-30

A recap of the campaign über-hawk Richard Perle waged against New Yorker writer Seymour Hersh on the talk show circuit in March of this year. Even though Perle was driven to resign his post as chair of the Defense Policy Board after public scrutiny by Hersh and the NYT's Stephen Labaton (among others) found substantial indications of serious conflicts of interest, he remains at this time a regular member of the same board. "Since he will have undiminished access to senior Pentagon officials, it's unclear how his reassignment removes Perle's apparent conflict of interest" (30).

§ In the background — New Tijuana Moods by Charles Mingus | From sessions recorded summer 1957 | RCA Victor CD 09026-68591-1

§ New York Times | 18 June 2003

An informative front page story by Joseph Kahn on the spread of "silicosis"—the lung disease Muriel Rukeyser wrote about in her great 1938 documentary poem, "The Book of the Dead"—among the workers in China's costume jewelry factories (the main suppliers for the U.S. market). Part of a series called "The World's Sweatshop," Kahn's article points to "a surge in fatal respiratory, circulatory, neurological and digestive-tract diseases like those American and European workers suffered at the dawn of the industrial age" (A1). An item by John Tagliabue in the "World Briefing" section notes that Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the man charged with pushing unpopular pension reforms through the French political system, plans to "send a letter to all households explaining the reasons behind the government's plan to overhaul the pension system." In the third of the three sentences he has to work with, Tagliabue gives us the following (which I admire for its understatement): "It was not clear to what extent labor action by postal workers might prevent the prime minister's letter from reaching households" (A6).

§ Alex de Waal | "The Unwritten Sociology of Aids" | Rev. of Aids in the 21st Century: Disease and Globalization by Tony Barnett and Alan Whiteside | London Review of Books 25.12 | 19 June 2003 | 13-14

Epidemics follow a "slanted S" curve: "from a single case, the number of people with the disease accelerates until it reaches a peak, whereupon a reverse slope follows, usually slower, with the epidemic declinining or dying out altogether" (13). De Waal follows Barnett and Whiteside, the authors under review, in judging that "two decades into the global Aids pandemic, we are still climbing the slope of the 'S': the worst is still ahead" (13). To date, failures in developing social policy, not to mention medical treatment, abound and successes remain depressingly few. Even where the latter occur (Uguanda is mentioned), factors other than government and NGO policy seem to play a larger-than-acknowledged role (14).

§ Keith Windschuttle | "The Hypocrisy of Noam Chomsky" | New Criterion 21.9 | May 2003 | 4-13

Windschuttle's polemical review of "the long political history of this aging activist" depicts Chomsky as a staunch defender of authoritarianism, genocide, and terrorism in China, Vietnam, and—most grossly—in Cambodia, as well as an apologist for Al Qaeda and an all-round arrogant guy who thinks that "only he can see things as they really are." The payoff paragraph reads: "Chomsky has declared himself a libertarian and anarchist but has defended some of the most authoritarian and murderous regimes in human history. His political philosophy is purportedly based on empowering the oppressed and toiling masses but he has contempt for ordinary people who he regards as ignorant dupes of the privileged and the powerful. He has defined the responsibility of the intellectual as the pursuit of truth and the exposure of lies, but has supported the regimes he admires by suppressing the truth and perpetrating falsehoods. He has endorsed universal moral principles but has only applied them to Western liberal democracies, while continuing to rationalize the crimes of his own political favorites. He is a mandarin who denounces mandarins. When caught out making culpably irresponsible misjudgments, as he was over Cambodia and Sudan, he has never admitted he was wrong. ¶ Today, Chomsky's hypocrisy stands as the most revealing measure of the sorry depths to which the left-wring political activism he has done so much to propagate has now sunk" (13).

17 June 2003 — Tuesday

§ On screen — final two episodes of Queer as Folk (the U.S. version, season two) on DVD

§ Clifford Geertz | "Which Way to Mecca" | Part One | Rev. of books on Islam by Bernard Lewis, Thomas W. Simons, M.J. Akbar, and Karen Armstrong | New York Review of Books L.10 | 12 June 2003 | 27-30

Geertz claims to have read fifty recent works on the topic of Islam in preparing his two-part overview of something he sees as "quite new" and possibly even unprecedented in our culture, namely "the construction, live and in real time, out there in the common culture where we can see it made, watch it happen, observe its makers, and track its progress, of an enduring image of an alien phenomenon, obscure and worrisome, working its way in toward the center of that experience" (28). In this first installment of his investigation ("more concerned with assumptions than findings"), Geertz identifies four basic approaches: (i) the civilization approach (Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington); (ii) the good from the bad approach (sorting Islam into good/bad, real/false, authentic/hijacked, tolerant/terrorist, and so on); (iii) the "many are the roads but God is one" approach (aimed at reconciling Islam with other major religions); and (iv) the particularizing approach (aimed at bringing Islam into focus through the study of specific places, peoples, and nations).

§ New York Times | 17 June 2003

Krugman charges the Bush admin with "Dereliction of Duty" on the homeland security front (A27). Kristof returns to Iraq and finds that "many ordinary Iraqis are enraged at the collapse of security" and the continued lack of access to stable infrastructural necessities (A27). In the science section, Sandra Blakeslee reports on the advent of "neuroeconomics," a discipline apparently committed to the study of dopamine's contribution to capitalism (D1). Richard A. Oppel, Jr. on mandatory financial disclosures by members of various government branches. Among Bush's top advisers, the article notes four millionires. A brief piece on the graveside memorial held yesterday for Medgar Evers, the field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi who was slain forty years ago on the 12th of June. (A20). That Trent Lott gets credit for attending speaks to something, though I doubt it is what the widowed Ms. Evers-Williams too generously said it was: "The involvement of our elected officials speaks to the change of the 40-year period."

§ Drew Gardner | Notes on George Albon's Empire Life (17 June) and on Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle (15 June) | Overlap

§ Dan Warburton | "The Ex: Club of Chaos" | Wire 232 | June 2003 | 30-34

Interesting profile of Amsterdam's "jagged squat punk" outfit The Ex, which got started with an e.p. called "All Corpses Smell the Same" in 1979 and have since toured and recorded all over the place, in many different lineups, and with any number of collaborators (including Jaap Blonk, Tortoise, the Mekons's Jon Langford, and cellist Tom Cora).

16 June 2003 — Bloomsday

§ Marjorie Perloff | "Man with a Red and Green Tie" | Rev. of Collected Poems by Tom Raworth | Times Literary Supplement 5226 | 30 May 2003 | 8-9

Perloff does her best to convince the British that "they have a lion in their living room, even if an oddly gentle and unassuming one." Her positive review of the 576-page Collected focuses on the "playful attentiveness" exemplified by poems like "These Are Not Catastrophes I Went out of My Way to Look For" and the 2000-line sequence "Ace." (Fans of Miles Champion—among whom I count myself—will smile at Perloff's multiplication of him into "a score of younger poets" said to imitate Raworth's "bravura"—meaning real fast—performance style.) Perloff concludes with an axiom meant, I think, to comfort: "Once we domesticate the image, it no longer seems so threatening" (9).

§ Clive Wilmer | "The Names of the Roses" | Rev. of The Earthly Paradise by William Morris | Times Literary Supplement 5227 | 6 June 2003 | 3-4

A sympathetic but not uncritical cover piece on the new edition (the first in nearly a century) of Morris's 42,000-line poem The Earthly Paradise. "It is not that Morris is boring: he was, as his daughters testified, a marvellous storyteller, and some of these stories, read separately, are hard to put down. But his failure to prune, and vary the tone, and harden particular details, leads to a kind of slackness, so that one's very pleasure in his skill and fluency turns in the end to weariness" (3).

§ New York Times | 16 June 2003

Safire follows up his 22 May condemnation of "The Great Media Gulp" with a piece calling for Congress to overturn the recent ruling "by the roundheeled F.C.C." (A23) • Kaleefa Sanneh covers the Sónar 2003 festival in Barcelona: "The headliner was Bjork, who played the main-night stage on Friday. She brought with her the harpist Zeena Parkins, the computer-music duo Matmos and a string ensemble, although people seemed more astonished by her fetching new bowl cut" (B1, B7).

§ Renana Brooks | "A Nation of Victims" | Nation 276.25 | 30 June 2003 | 20-22 | link

I'm fairly skeptical about the psychological premises underpinning Brooks's analysis of Bush's discursive strategies, but her catalog of the devices employed in his key speeches seems intuitively true: there's the empty language (complex problems vaporize into simple images), the personalization (the speaker is sole source of certitude and security), and the negative framework (unremitting pessimism about how the world works is used to increase the auditor's sense of vulnerability and helplessness). To the objection that "so it goes" with all political discourse, Brooks contrasts Bush's rhetoric to that of Reagen, Roosevelt, Clinton, and others. She concludes: "Bush's political opponents are caught in a fantasy that they can win against him simply by proving the superiority of their ideas. However, people do not support Bush for the power of his ideas, but out of the despair and desperation in their hearts. Whenever people are in the grip of a desperate dependency, they won't respond to rational criticisms of the people they are dependent on" (22).

§ Eric Alterman | "When It Raines...." | Nation 276.25 | 30 June 2003 | 10+

Alterman sees the Times as "unquestionably less obeisant to the extremist forces ensconced in the White House and dominating much of the media than just about any other major journalistic institution we have left" (23) and he views the Blair scandal as being more about punishing the paper for its continued editorial independence than the impact of affirmative action, or the autocratic management style of Raines, etc.

§ Ron Silliman | Remarks on Loss by Ben Friedlander | 16 June 2003 | link

§ Charles McGrath | "The Vicissitudes of Literary Reputation: Robert Lowell: Up, Down, and Up Again" | New York Times Magazine | 15 June 2003 | 52-55

Part of the same establishment campaign for the Bidart-Gewanter Collected as the Anthony Lane piece noted here on 5 June, but briefer and more crude (the metaphor this review lives by is that poetic reputations are stocks traded on "a Nasdaq of singular cruelty and volatility"). Accounting for the 25-year gap between the master's death and the appearance of the necessary "big, career-capping" collected poems, McGrath intimates that Bidart couldn't part with the much-delayed volume because it was tantamount to losing Lowell all over again (55). The idea in fact turns out to be central to the piece: the culture has "lost" Lowell and with him the whole idea of believing "seriously in the poetic vocation" (55). Readers of David Lehman will recognize the move: push poetry into the past tense, then work up a frown and pass off your sigh of relief as a sob.


nb current | nb archive 1-15 June 2003

back to ensembleback to index