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June 2003 Wednesday
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
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
Keith Windschuttle | "The Hypocrisy of Noam Chomsky" | New
Criterion 21.9 | May 2003 | 4-13
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, andmost grosslyin 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
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
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,
New York Times | 17 June 2003
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).
Drew Gardner | Notes on George Albon's Empire Life
(17 June) and on Matthew Barney's Cremester
Cycle (15 June) | Overlap
Dan Warburton | "The Ex: Club of Chaos" | Wire 232 |
June 2003 | 30-34
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
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
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 Championamong whom I count
myselfwill smile at Perloff's multiplication of him into "a
score of younger poets" said to imitate Raworth's "bravura"meaning
real fastperformance 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
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
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"
Renana Brooks | "A Nation of Victims" | Nation 276.25
| 30 June 2003 | 20-22
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+
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
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.
15 June 2003
Gregory Wilpert | "Collision in Venezuela" | New Left Review
21 | May-June 2003 | 101-116
over oil profits is an obviously decisive factor in the fervent but
so far unsuccessful rich-people's campaign to unseat Chávez,
but Wilpert argues that a bundle of land reform initiatives launched
late in the fall of 2001 actually brought on the "first employer-led
lock-out of 10 December 2001" (110). Both the rural and urban plans
(the latter extremely important in a country where 87% of people live
in towns) involve privatizing publicly owned land, but Wilpert concludes
his lucid account of the complex details involved by pointing out that
"this is privatization whose social meaning is the very opposite
of the neoliberal prescriptions of the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund, which promote or impose the sale of large state-owned
resources and utilitieswater, telephone, electricity etceterato
transnational corporations. Here it is the poor who benefit from the
dismantling of nominal, unutilized appurtenances of the statethose
who actually live or work on the land" (115). The next test of
Chávez's power, as mentioned also in the NYT piece of
12 June, is likely to come in August when a recall referendum is scheduled
to go to a popular vote.
Bangor Daily News | 14-15 June 2003
coverage of the state legislature's passage of new governor John Baldacci's
"Dirigo Health Plan," which will get insurance coverage to
about 180,000 previously uninsured Mainers.
An AP run-down on financial disclosures by Senators leads with the earth-shaking
revelation that "the Senate is dominated by people far more affluent
than nearly all those they represent."
New York Times | 15 June 2003
those "aren't the Republicans invincible" stories on the front
page, this time focusing on the Bush-Cheney machine's fund-raising prowess.
The director of the Campaign Management Institute in Washington is quoted
late in the piece as seeing "the biggest financial mismatch since
the 1972 contest between Richard M. Nixon, who was seeking a second
term, and George S. McGovern of South Dakota" (1:20).
David W. Chen turns in a solidly pro-landlord slanted story on NYC rent
control, but he still manages to clearly prove that the 1994 repeal
of controls in Boston and Cambridge has been a disaster for poor people
who used to live there and now shack up "two or three area codes
beyond the 617 exchange." (See also the Economist piece
mentioned here on 9 June) Is it me
or is the post-Raines NYT actually more boring to read?
14 June 2003
On screen several episodes of Queer as Folk
(the U.S. version, season two) on DVD
Tariq Ali | Editorial: "Re-colonizing Iraq" | New Left Review
21 | May-June 2003 | 5-19
historically-informed polemic opens with an invocation of the eight
million people who demonstrated on 15 February against the prospect
of the Iraq war and closes with a call for the return to spirit and
organization of the "American Anti-Imperialist League" that
first assembled in Chicago in 1899 and two years later had a half million
members (among them William James, W.E.B. DuBois, William Dean Howells,
and John Dewey). In between he manages a fairly comprehensive survey
of international response to the invasion plans (only Turkey, Indonesia,
and Malasia escape his division of global actors into one of two categories:
"old mastiffs and new satellites"), from which he deduces
that resistance to U.S. hegemonywhich won't come from the EU,
the UN, Russia, or Chinawill have to come from the Arab world
("if there is one area where the cliché that classical revolutions
are a thing of the past is likely to be proved wrong, it is the Arab
world" [17-18]) and from within the U.S. itself ("the history
of the rise and fall of Empires teaches us that it is when their own
citizens finally lose faith in the virtue of infinite war and permanent
occupations that the system enters into retreat" ).
the background All Tomorrow's Parties 3.0
| VA | Curated by Autechre | ATPR4 CD
Economist | "Battle of the Beards: Communists v Clerics in
Iraq" | 14 June 2003 | 42-43
Communists coming to America's rescue? While Iraq's other secular parties
cosy up to the clerics, the Workers' Communist Party of Iraq (WCP) is
struggling to halt Iraq's slide into an Islamic state. It holds coming-out
parties for Baghdad girls who shed the veil, and, with reports of women
being mugged, it has opened a refuge on the top floor of a Tigris-side
bank repossessed by the proletariat" (42).
Eric Hobsbawm | "America's Imperial Delusion" | Gaurdian
| 14 June 2003
cobbled together in fairly sloppy fashionfrom the historian's
longer article in the June English-language edition of Le Monde Diplomatique.
Better to go straight to the original (if it's to be found).
13 June 2003
The Wire 232 | June 2003
John Mulvey reviews the three day "All Tomorrow's Parties"
UK festival curated this year by Autechre (89).
Marc Masters covers a Sonic Youth benefit for Stan Brakhage at the Anthology
Film Archives (89). Mike Barnes on
Wire's live performance of their 1977 debut record Pink
Flag and their most recent cd Send
at the Barbican in London (91). Brian
Coley on Québec City and Montreal performances by Jackie O Motherfucker
and Godspeed You! Black Emperor (92).
On screen Bill Moyer's Now | PBS | 13 June 2003
writer Isabel Allende gives a memorable interview. For some reason,
my memory settles on the fact that she and her mother exchange letters
every day. Very clearly constructed pieces on the Bush Admin's
inability to tell the truth about the WMD issue and the FCC's recent
New York Times | 13 June 2003
jumbled report on student riots in Tehran (A10) notes that "opposition-run
foreign-language television stations" in Los Angeles played a significant
role in putting people on the streets.
Kenneth Chang on the hypothesis that a meteor strike 380 million years
ago decimated sea life. "The extinction, while global in scale,
was less severe than the half-dozen major extinctions in the earth's
history" (A20). Diana Jean Schemo
on the end of thirty-eight years of bipartisan support for Head Start
(A25). Nicolas Kristof reminds the
Bush admin that the pre-war WMD argument relied on what were known to
be "third-rate forged documents" (A31).
Krugman credits Tom DeLay with pioneering the "K-Street strategy,"
which "punishes lobbying firms that try to maintain good relations
with both parties" (A31): "there's no point in getting mad
at Mr. DeLay and his clique," Krugman concludes, "they are
what they are. I do, however, get angry at moderates, liberals and traditional
conservatives who avert their eyes, pretending that current disputes
are just politics as usual. They aren'twhat we're looking at here
is a radical power play, which if it succeeds will transform our country."
Tom Lewis | "The End of Lula's Honeymoon" | International
Socialist Review 29 | May-June 2003 | 7-8
that Brazil's new presidentthe first to rise from the ranks of
the Worker's Partyis more like his neoliberal predecessor Fernando
Henrique Cardoso than not (a position advanced and defended in greater
detail by Perry Anderson in the London Review of Books a while
ago). Outweighing the effects of a celebrated "Zero Hunger"
program and a largely symbolic "participatory budget" for
WSF host city Porto Alegre, according to Lewis, are key appointments
of Bush admin (and IMF and WB) approved fiscal conservatives to positions
in treasury, agriculture, and the central bank.
Stephen F. Hayes | "PBS's Pontificator: Whatever Happened to Bill
Moyers's Promise to Disclose Conflicts of Interest" | Weekly Standard
8.38 | 9 June 2003 | 27-31
of PBS's Friday-night program Now controls a pot of money in
his role as "head of the $75 million Florence and John Schumann
Foundation" and a spin-off organization called the Florence Fund.
The latter, which Hayes points out helped create TomPaine.com,
has "provided another voice to those who believe the Democratic
National Committee, the Wilderness Society, and Peter Jennings are too
conservative" (30). "Moyers is of course free to broadcast
and fund whatever he wants. And journalism ethics classes can debate
his practice of interviewing grantees. Much of what happens in Washington
is a collaboration of likeminded people who work together to promote
ideas and causes they believe inin this, Moyers is no more sinister
than those he targets on his show. All of that would be his own business
were it not for the fact that his show, which is a collaborative effort
with National Public Radio, takes taxpayer money" (31).
John Gittings | "Cracks Appear in Three Gorges
dam" | Gaurdian
| 13 June 2003
billion cubic meters of water seek out with merciless accuracy the flaws
engineered into a structure. Sort of like time bearing down on a poem.
Nitsuh Abebe | Rev.
of Let's Get Ready to Crumble by The Russian
Futurists | Pitchfork | 13
name for Toronto's Matthew Adam Hart to record his "bedroom pop"
under, even if (especially since?) he chooses a goofy painting of a
mountain lion for the cover instead of an El Lissitzky or Malevich.
Abebe says that if you can stand it at all, you'll most likely love
"There's also the (wall of) sound, immersive to the point of drowsiness,
which has reverb painting space around the synths' cold humming and
icicle-pretty plucky or the occasional acoustic guitar: those early
Magnetic Fields records never had quite this same cold room, fuzzy blanket
12 June 2003
Kevin Killian | "Big Sir, Big Sur" | photos
by Catherine Opie | Nest | Summer 2003 | 2-17
didn't know about Nest until Vancouver-based poet and art critic
Lisa Robertson visited Maine earlier this year and made her gig writing
the magazine's "Decorator Horoscope" (under the heteronym
"Swann") sound fascinating indeed. Now a copy arrives, courtesy
of Kevin Killian, and I find that despite an aversion to the scalloped
pages and the "New Decrepitude" theme, I admire not only KK's
profile of David Whitney's Big Sur property (crammed with Mattia Bonetti
designed furniture, rugs, ashtraysI like best a simple walnut
bench) but also the John Ashbery-Archie Rand collab on "Heavenly
Days," an unexpected glimpse at The Crass in retirement, and a
photo-essay on Cy Twombly, among other things.
William K. Tabb | "After Neoliberalism?"
| Monthly Review 55.2 | 3 June 2003 | 25-33
earnestly no-style analysis sees "next stage neoliberalism"
as a scam that blames peripheral governments for the policy failures
of core-dominated institutions like the World Bank and IMF. He's even
less patient with a "Bush Doctrine" grounded in the idea that
"the whole world is the battlefield" upon which the U.S. should
preemptively and ever-more-belligerently fight to win. Tabb falls down
on describing the alternatives, though he does think "a counter-hegemonic
consciousness and a renewed mobilization of people" could result
in a "dramatic challenge to class rule and Bush Bonapartism"
New York Times | 12 June 2003
"World Briefing" item on the banning of The Matrix Reloaded
in Egypt. Censorship director Madkur Thabet says the film's violence
threatens social peace, "but he praised its technical effects"
(A10). The second op-ed voices concern
about the "most sweeping reform of the Civil Service system in
a generation" (A32). Neil A.
Lewis reports on the Judiciary Committee hearing for William H. Pryor's
nomination to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals: "Some Democrats
said that Mr. Pryor's [homophobic, Christian fundamentalist] views are
so unpalatable that they might not seek to block his confirmation with
a filibuster, as they have with other nominees, but allow it to have
a straight up or down vote in the Senate" (A25). That strategy
would put Maine's "moderate" Senators Collins and Snowe to
the test, along with Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter.
Dean E. Murphy on the appointment of Robert Dynes, a UCSD physicist
with strong ties to the Los Alamos Lab, to the position of UC System
President (A18). Steven Weisman and
James Dao on Congressional opposition to Bush's "rebuke" of
Israel for the Tuesday attack on a Hamas leader (A12).
Juan Forero on the attempt by anti-Chavez forces to sway working class
inhabitants of Caracas's impoverished western neighborhoods to abandon
the embattled Venezuelan president in an upcoming referendum that hopes
to accomplish what "[o]ne failed coup and four national strikes"
have so far failed to do: namely, depose him (A8).
David Anfam | "Telling Tales" | Rev. of
Philip Guston traveling retrospective organized by the Modern Art Museum
of Fort Worth | Artforum | May 2003 | 132+
thinks that Guston's nonfigurative work between 1950-1967 is marked
by a kind of traumatically-induced repression of "recognizable
objects and threats" that the prior and subsequent works don't
suffer from: "If my perspective on the painter's canvases from
the '50s is right, they amount to a hedonistic intermezzo between the
work produced in the previous fraught decades and the ferocious endgame
Guston resumed by unearthing his foundational themes in the 1960s"
Economist | "The chancellor gets his
way, so far" | 7 June 2003 | 43-44
Gerhard Schröder held on to his chancellorship last fall by chiming
in with popular opposition to Bush's war on Iraq. Now, however, his
tasklike Raffarin's in Franceis to enact what the Economist
calls a "package of labour-market and welfare reforms" that
is unpopular with everybody whose business isn't, well, business. As
a result he's drifted quite a bit from the "speeches made in his
reelection campaign" (43), though even this bout of advocating
for "painful change" may not be enough to save him from a
conservative defeat down the road a bit.
Brian Kim Stefans | Rev. of Digital
Art by Christiane Paul | Free
Space Comix | 11 June 2003
11 June 2003
Thomas Frank | "Get Rich or Get Out: Attempted
Robbery with a Loaded Federal Budget" | Harpers | June 2003
editor of the Baffler settles in with the 2,866 page Federal
Budget for 2004. "One of the reasons the Bush people love tax cuts
is that tax cuts defund governmentbut gradually and indirectly,
allowing plenty of time for blame evasion later. Although it may not
look like much now, this tax cut is a time bomb planted in the heart
of activist government: as it grows, the whopping giveaway to the rich
will compel massive cuts in government spending somewhere down the road.
Imagine as all the deficit-reduction battles of the early nineties are
fought all over again, only with much greater stakes. Imagine the look
of dawning desperation on those politicians' faces as they begin to
understand Bush's masterful fait accompli. Like the U.N. delegates
Bush has similarly outmaneuvered, they will vote and speechify in vain.
The public will laugh at their impotence. And then will come the moment
of hard truth. On whom will death set his fateful hand? Who will be
Lindsay Waters | "Come Softly, Darling, Hear
What I Say: Listening in a State of DistractionA Tribute to the
Work of Walter Benjamin, Elvis Presley, and Robert Christgau" | Boundary
2 30.1 | 2003 | 199-212
The topic deserved better than this: "The pop tune that comes back
to us from earlier listening is a tune that has, as it were, dropped
an anchor into our souls. That it has found a firm grip in us tells
us not just about the work but about ourselves" (211). Some authentic
personal history lies at the heart of this overgeneralized and undertheorized
piece by the executive editor for the humanities at Harvard University
Press, but the superabundance of strained simile ("What Elvis and
his band are really like is a line of tanks entering a suburban Westchester
County town") and high-handed claim-making ("No art theory
is ever more advanced or sophisticated than the finest criticism of
its day") make for a rather overwrought defense of what is in fact
a sentiment rather than an argumentnamely, that "Elvis stood
for the right of us all to expose our most naked emotions to the world
without ridicule" (209). Sentences
by other people: "Takes a worried man to sing a worried song"
(203); and, from Christgau: "I just try to make sure that music
I like finds me" (210).
Ian Hunt | "Al Leslie: Not Suitable for Children"
| Rev. of The Cedar Bar (2001) by Alfred Leslie
| Art Monthly | February 2003 | 44
began by rewriting a 1952 play in which he had recorded discussions
by certain denizens of the Cedar BarClement Greenberg, Willem
de Kooning, John Myers, and Joan Mitchell among them. Songs were added,
and an impromptu staged reading was held at a university. The soundtrack
and, less frequently, video footage of the reading provide the structure.
¶ Were that all, it would be a cosy experience of overacting, in-jokes
and gently revisionist group biography. But Leslie has considerably
broadened the aesthetic and historical scope. He has taken the limitations
of his theatrical piece very seriously in making it into a film: and
that begins with his questions for an audience that knows the art legends
of this period. I mean here the audience that went to see Ed Harris's
Pollock in order to watch a story they believe somehow theirs
becoming costume drama; to experience their own interest in the art
of this time slowly losing the battle against biographical templates
for understandingthat being a process that began early in Abstract
Expressionism's own lifetime. The Cedar Bar's most wonderful
innovation is its extensive use of reaction shots from historical audiences,
before and after the notional moment of 1957. We observed, taped from
award ceremonies we presume, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom and Nicole,
Kelsey Grammer and numerous other bow-tied dignitaries laughing at all
the jokes and responding to the play."
In the background Aesop Rock | Labor
Days | Def Jux 2001 DJX13
Thomas L. Friedman | "Read My Lips" | New
York Times (11 June 2003): A29
idea of a "winning" concept for deposing Bush in 2004? Neoliberalism!
"You win the presidency by connecting with the American people's
gut insecurities and aspirations. You win with a concept. The concept
I'd argue for is 'neoliberalism.' More Americans today are natural neolibs,
than neocons. Neoliberals believe in a muscular foreign policy and a credible
defense budget, but also a prudent fiscal policy that balances taxes,
deficit reduction and government services."
Michael Gibbs | "Who Controls New Media?"
| Rev. of Dark Fiber: Tracking Critical Internet
Culture by Geert Lovink and The New Media
Book edited by Dan Harries | Art Monthly | February 2003
Fiber is the name given to unused fibre-optic cable which has been laid
in the ground but is not yet connected to any services."
Tom Frank (see above) mentions in passing that "only 5 percent
of all fiber-optic lines worldwide are currently in use" (42).
Richard Porton | "The Politics of American Cinephilia:
From the Popular Front to the Age of Video" | Cineaste 27.4
| Fall 2002 | 4-10
interesting if somewhat overstretched review essay on the trouble that
maintaining "dual loyalties to cinema and radicalism" has
gotten people into over the years.
"Trilling loathed intellectual bad faith, and no passage in [his
friend Robert] Warshow's work is more indicative of a determination
to avoid this transgression than his frequently quoted statement: 'A
Man watches a movie, and the critic must acknowledge that he is that
man.' Resisting the urge to sneer at movies was an unusual maneuver
for a Forties intellectual and this simple pronouncement arguably laid
the groundwork for contemporary cultural theory's embrace of previously
derided Hollywood genres such as the Western and the gangster film"
Constance Baudry | "'Matrix' futur sujet du
bac philo?" | Le Monde | 10 June 2003 | link
somewhat bemused account of U.S. philosophy professors who've spoken
or written about the Matrix. "Pourquoi
une telle démarche explicative? Enseigner la philosophie autrement?
Tenter de faire le lien entre la génération Matrix du
jeu vidéo et du virtuel, et les philosophes des siècles
passés? Ou, plus prosaïquement, participer au lancement
commercial du film, comme pourrait le suggérer la publication
sur le site officiel de Matrix de nombre de ces réflexions?"
10 June 2003
Geoffrey O'Brien | "Present Imperfect"
| Rev. of The Man Without a Past (2002) by
Aki Kaurismäki | Artforum (May 2003): 31
second account I've read today of someone being savagely beaten up,
then left to take it from there (Chris Ott's Radiohead review, below,
comes bizarrely close to praising the people who kicked the shit out
of Thom Yorke in 2000). This time, though, it's a plot device that permits
Kaurismäki to "begin from zero, aesthetically and in every
other way, in a shantytown by an industrialized river, in a world constructed
out of debris, fed by evangelical soup kitchens, and entertained by
accordion-playing fringe-dwellers, a world where as a matter of course
every bucket has a hole in it."
The Nation (23 June 2003): columns
Patricia J. Williams tries to condense the madness of the moment into
a single image: high school kids getting to the prom in an H2 Hummerzine.
I don't find it convincing, though I do like the frenzied pessimism
of the piece's pivot paragraph: "I do feel as though we have entered
some kind of alternate universe, some game concocted in a cyberwarzone.
It's as though the Bush Administration is using [Robert] Kaplan and
[Samuel] Huntington as templates rather than cautionary tales. It's
as though they've set out to map The Coming Chaos into beingthrowing
out the rules of diplomatic engagement, launching 'preemptive' war,
turning ally against ally, magically transforming the federal surplus
into a multitrillion dollar deficit, consolidating the major media outlets
into a singular right-wing bullhorn of rage, degrading the environment
and upgrading the secret police. What remains of government funding
is earmarked for technology that will map every wiggle in our walk,
every giggle in our talk, every twiddle in our DNA" (9).
Jonathan Schell on peace & justice movement strategies for the run-up
to the GOP convention in NYC next August. His proposal: a "boisterous
and diverse...working demonstration" on the model of the WSF to
be held this coming November. "A choice of this November would
still leave time to organize it and would position it to pour energy
into the election campaigns about to begin. If a working demonstration
is the place for a movement to be fully itself, then elections are the
place for compromiseseven, it may be, for the choice of lesser
Naomi Klein imagines Paul Bremer on the model of "a hacker who
cripples corporate websites then sells himself as a network security
specialist," seeing it as likely that "in a few months Bremer
may well be selling terrorism insurance to the very companies he welcomed
into Iraq" (10). She's referring to the fact that Bremer, before
being named to officiate over the looting of Iraq, was hustling for
post-9/11 angst monies via his "Crisis Consulting Practice"
(10)a job to which he'll likely return when his present gig ends.
Ron Silliman discusses Michael Cross's in
felt treeling, a 12-card poetic sequence distributed
in envelopes by Soft Press in Oakland | Silliman's
Blog (10 June 2003)
Chris Ott | Rev.
of Hail to the Thief by Radiohead | Pitchfork
June 2003 Monday
Craig Dworkin | "Unheard Music" | link
Space Comix: the Blog pointed me to Dworkin's brilliantly-conceived
suppressed-grin survey of seventeen recordings of "silence."
(More accurately, fifteen recordings, one unrealized idea of John Cage's,
and one rumor about "the Japanese onkyo school of minimal gesture").
Among the artful descriptions of sounds and non-sounds alike, the following
account of what remains once the "Language Removal Service"
has passed through a discourse: "air whistling in buccal cavities,
the pool and drain of saliva and phlegm, the glottal pops and deglutinations
that punctuate the inframince spaces between even the most rapid speech."
New York Times (9 June 2003)
tepid piece by Jennifer 8. Lee on how Clear Channel failed to advance
its market-domination campaign in the pre-FCC ruling lobbying period:
"the real power of lobbying is in preventing issues from becoming
an open debate, and by the time Clear Channel had assembled its Washington
team, the debate had long become public. The best its team could do
was limit the damage" (C7).
John Pareles on the rain-drenched Field Day Festival (B1).
Loves an Occupier" | 7 June 2003: 39
while American spends $1billion a week maintaining its 150,000 men in
Iraq, the country's 25m citizens survive on something like $10 a head"
Fredric Jameson interviewed by Noel King | "'Going
to the Movies in the Morning': Fredric Jameson on Film" | Critical
Quarterly 45 1-2 (Spring and Summer 2003): 185-202
film experiences: "[W]hen I was allowed to go to the moves by myself
there was a movie theatre in Haddon Heights which had three separate
shows a week (often double-features). So I reckon I saw more or less
every film made in Hollywood between 1944 and 1950 when I went away
to college. That would be my filmic 'primitive accumulation'" (185).
On post-socialist film making: "[W]hen
you have to work against censorship your mind is concentrated in ways
that it isn't if you can say anything you want" (187).
On the present: "We're in a process of historical change
that has its positive and negative sides and it's very hard to sort
these things out. One can't go back to the past and regret that older
culture, but we should at least remember what it was and what these
changes mean, because, once again, students grow up imagining this is
the way it's always been, thinking there's never been such a
thing as independent film or small bookstores or independent publishers
like New Directions and similar companies on whom, after all, practically
the whole canon of modern literature was founded. Without them we would
never have had Ezra Pound or the other modernist writers" (194).
Drew Gardner's reading notes on True
News by Craig Watson | Overlap
(9 June 2003)
"explores feedback loops of ignorance, not through a celebration
of word/reference disconnection, but through a quiet indictment of systematically
self-perpetuating veneers which operate at the service of seriously
out-of-balance competitive mental and social ecosystems."
Glenn Gamboa | "Field Day Makes a Strong Debut"
York Newsday (8 June 2003)
does a 110-minute set. Beck cracks his rib dancing backstage before
his set and has to cancel.
Alexander Cockburn | "We're Shocked, Shocked!" | Nation
(23 June 2003): 8
the FCC ruling of 2 June "things got slightly worse," but
the real damage was done "forty, fifty, maybe seventy years ago."
Chris Ott | Rev.
of A Promise by Xiu Xiu (27
February 2003) | Pitchfork
| "The Great Manhattan
Rip-Off: Housing in New York City" | 7 June 2003: 25-26
Economist feels about "closed" (i.e. regulated) markets
the way my cat feels about closed doors: none should be permitted, ever.
Here four columns go to clawing at the NYC rent control system, which
is due for a vote on renewal in Albany this June 15th.
8 June 2003
Elizabeth Drew | "The Neocons in Power"
| New York Review of Books (12 June 2003): 20-22
contributes little that is new to the burgeoning genre of neocon studies,
but she does pull together what has already been said into a fairly
tight three page profile of the "cohesive, determined, ideologically
driven, and clever" men behind Iraq War II.
New York Times (8 June 2003)
Pareles on Radiohead's Hail to the Thief
an AP story on Dean Esserman, the
post-Cianci chief of police in Providence ("this department owes
a lot of apologies") Adam Liptak
on Ashcroft's Palmer-raid redux ("'One of the things this [Justice
Department] report reveals,' Professor Cole said, 'is that Ashcroft
was shooting in the dark and virtually every one of his shots missed")
an AP obit for wrestler Freddie Blassie
("the nastier he was in the ring, the more popular he became to
fans"). A handy graphic profiling
seven men and women (aged 47-58) who are being talked about for the
anticipated Supreme Court vacancy.
Anthony Arnove | "Cautionary Tales: Documentaries
on the UN Sanctions and War with Iraq" | Cineaste 28.2 (Spring
7 June 2003
Karen Volkman | "Green, Prickly Humanity"
| Rev. of Collected Works by Lorine Niedecker
| Boston Review 27.6 (Dec. 2002 / Jan. 2003): 46-48
poets, the appearance of this volume, and the recent selected poems
of Rae Armantrout and Fanny Howe, may point to a curious, circuitous
winding of a subtle minimalist tradition, Dickinsonian slantness tensed
in spare speech" (48).
August Kleinzahler | "This Condensery"
| Rev. of Collected Works by Lorine Niedecker,
Collected Studies in the Use of English by
Kenneth Cox, and New Goose by Lorine Niedecker
| London Review of Books 25.11 (5 June 2003): 26-28
work emphasises proportion, line, simplicity. The spaces between words
and lines, usually emphasised in the typography, lineation and enjambments,
function for Niedecker as a reminder of the silence from which the poems
emerged, by which they were pervaded, and to which they returned. Despite
their distinct musical effects, the poems were designed for the page,
not to be read aloud." (26).
6 June 2003
Paul Krugman | "Duped and Betrayed" | New
York Times (6 June 2003): A31
Zell Miller is among those who get burned by the new tax cut bill.
Howell Raines resigns as editor of the New York
Times | Gaurdian
Anthony Lane | "The Fighter: Reading Robert Lowell" | New
Yorker (9 June 2003): 80+
his champagne-headache prose style in the struggle to redeem Lowell's
poems from his rotten (and prone to red-baiting: ask Agnes Smedley)
personality andstill more difficult a taskthe New Yorker
reader's basic indifference to poetry.
New York Times (5 June 2003) | Stephen Labaton on the Senate's
attempt to restore the F.C.C. media market rules recently struck down
by Michael Powell ("lawmakers today were discussing the possibility
of using a rare parliamentary maneuver that would permit them to overturn
the commission's decision by simple majority in both houses of Congress
and without requiring the approval of President Bush, whose aides have
praised the commission's decision" (A10).
Safire on DARPA's "LifeLog" initiative
Adam Clymer on a "private bipartisan" commission's recommendation
that an amendment to the Constitution be made that would permit temporary
appointments to the House of Representatives in the event of "a catastrophe
or terrorist attack" (A21). Katherine
Q. Seelye on the "American Majority Institute," a new group
headed by former Clinton chief-of-staff John Podesta
Ian Austen on the durability of magnetic tape as a data storage
medium Carl Hulse on Master of the
Senate historian Robert A. Caro's objections to recent calls for altering
the Senate's filibuster rule (A32).
Weelden | Rev. of Immemory (cd-rom) by Chris
Marker | Mediamatic
4 June 2003
Drew Gardner on the stifling effects of "negative framing" and
unprocessed competitive drives in discussions about poetry. | Overlap
(3 June 2003)
Amy Taubin | Rev. of Beau Travail by Claire
Denis | Film Comment 36.3 (May/June 2000): 22+
Beau Travail, [Melville's] Claggart becomes
Galoup, Billy becomes Sentain, and the ship's captain, whose approval
and attention is their sweetest reward, becomes Bruno Forestier, in
honor of the central character in Godard's 1960 film Le
Petit soldat. Played by Michel Subor, Godard's Bruno is a deserter
from the French army in Algeria who's blackmailed by right wing French
terrorists and forced to assassinate a pro-Algerian politician. Denis,
who wanted to work with Subor ever since she saw Le
Petit soldat, laid claim to the actor and the character at once:
'I imagined that since Bruno had to go into hiding at the end of Le
Petit soldat, he might have joined the Legion,' she explains" (23).
Kent Jones | "The Dance of the Unknown Soldier" | Film Comment
36.3 (May/June 2000): 26+
presents "the universe of men silently faced towards one another
and away from life. It's somewhat touching, somewhat pathetic, and wholly
mysterious, this state of communal solitude" (27).
Wayne Miller | "History, Lyricism, and 'Avant-Gardism' beyond the
First-Book Poets" | American Book Review 24.4 (May/June 2003):
3 June 2003
Beau Travail | Dir. by Claire Denis (1999);
dir. of photography Agnes Godard.
"Billy Budd" transposed to the rocky, salt-flatted North African
coast of Djibouti, where the French Foreign Legion maintains a lithe,
hyper-masculine, fastidious, and awkwardly pointless presence.
2 June 2003
The Matrix | Dir. by Andy and Larry Wachowski (1999)
An unsigned review of
Susan Howe's The Midnight in the Publishers
Weekly for 19 May 2003 likens Howe's project to my favorite recent
Agnes Varda in her film The Gleaners and I,
Howe demonstrates that the artist's unpredictable path to knowledge,
generous in its digressions and attentions to the obscure, is revealing,
suspenseful and necessary."
Drew Gardner's reading notes for Elizabeth Robinson's Pure
Descent (2001) | Overlap
(1 June 2003)
fissures and shuffling multiple connotations grow inconspicuously, though
with a certain amount of stability, like plant growth. Pastoral then
in the sense of an affinity with plant life but operating on the level
of thought. Plants can break up concrete, right?"
John Palattella | "When Poetry Was the Rage" | Rev. of All
Poets Welcome by Daniel Kane and Digressions
on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara: A Memoir by Joe LeSueur | The
Nation 276.23 (16 June 2003): 34+
approves Kane's topic but accuses him of drowning "interesting
aspects" of the Lower East Side poetry scene in "academic
hyperbole" and mistaking "a bunch of cliques" for a genuine
"community." He's happier with the "keen sense of the
ephemeral," the "dislike of didacticism," and the "alluring
mix of vulnerability and charm" (36) in LeSeuer's digressive portrait
of Frank O'Hara.
§ Bill Werde. "Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
Waiting for the Fever to Break" | New Music Monthly 112 (May
article for a magazine I don't often read. Typically lame writing about
the pseudo-tribulations of a presently much-hyped band.
1 June 2003
John Olson | Rev. of The Removes by Andrew
Joron | Facture 2 (2001): 241-42
excited review praising Joron's first book as a "theatre of boundless
figuration" where paronomasia and alliteration "remove impurities
of dead abstraction."
Chris Marker interviewed by Samuel Douhaire and Annick Rivoire | Originally
published 5 March 2003 in Libération | Translated by Dave
Kehr | Film Comment 39.3 (May/June 2003): 38+
there is the role of the shutter. Out of the two hours you spend in
a movie theater, you spend one of them in the dark" (39).
"The exponential growth of stupidity and vulgarity is something
that everyone has noticed, but it's not just a vague sense of disgustit's
a concrete quantifiable fact...and a crime against humanity" (40).
Stuart Klawans | "Medium Cool" | Rev. of The
Matrix Reloaded by Andy and Larry Wachowski | The Nation
(9 June 2003): 43-45
truly cool are few, but multitudes flock to a winneras you may
learn from Mr. Bush, another leading marketer of simulated liberation"
Meghan O'Rourke | "She's So Heavy" | Rev. of Blue
Hour by Carolyn Forché | The Nation (9 June 2003):
prefers the Forché of The Country Between
Us (1981) to the abstracted, post-witness poet of Blue
Hour. "The versifying here is elegant; the tone tempered,
respectable, cleverbut forgettable. Philosophical and abstract
poems don't make good use of the remarkable talent Forché has
for metaphor and clarity, for speaking to rather than around
New York Times (1 June 2003)
on Bush's tour of Auschwitz ("he spoke briefly to reporters, but
seemed unable to describe his emotions in any detail")
Sheryl Gay Stolberg on "Vocal Gay Republicans Upsetting
Conservatives" ("Patrick Guerriero, executive director of
the Log Cabin Republicans, estimates that a million people who identify
themselves as gay voted for Mr. Bush in 2000")
David Firestone on the impact the 2003 tax cut will have on "low-income
taxpayers" ("the new study found five million taxpayers in
the lowest tax bracket who get no benefit from the law, and 2.5 million
single parents with children who also pay taxes but get nothing")
Front page story on the arrest
of white right-wing terrorist Eric Robert Rudolph ("There was so
much hubbub it almost felt as if Osama Bin Laden had been hiding here,
in this land of red-roofed barns and boiled peanuts")
Geoffrey Nunberg on the politicization of grammar
In the Magazine, James Traub gets his blood boiling about
"bien pensant" leftists who think they see parallels between
Weimar 1993 and the present.