Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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January 31, 2014
MES dream

A few weeks back.  Dreamed about a rehearsal of The Fall

Current band members line the walls of the room. They number a couple dozen.

MES at center, stops the music.  Announces: "If you have not read the novel Bye Bye Farrell, you are no longer in The Fall.  Leave the room right now." [This novel seems not to exist.]

Adding: "Don't forget on your way out to give a goodbye kiss to Fidel Castro." Indeed, 87-year old Castro has been in corner of room, enjoying the music.  Newly fired band members file past him on the way out, do so.

Band now winnowed down to 4 or 5 persons.  Brix is among them.

December 31, 2013

2013: TiR's unblogged year in review:

below:  an incomplete list of items researched and contemplated but, mercifully for the already informationally overcrowded world, left un-fully-blogged on TiR during 2013.  How much more minimal can we keep it in 2014? We shall see.


on missing one’s pre-internet brain -- and everybody else’s

RIP Prince Jazzbo, Charlie Chesterman, Tabu Ley, Maxwell’s

the late Chinua Achebe’s novel No Longer at Ease’s Mr. Okonkwo on reasons to never throw away a piece of paper containing the printed word

Bertolucci’s “Before the Revolution” (1964) on “the medicine of boredom

Nietzsche’s The Case of Wagner on the boringness of opera: “To sit five hours: the first stage of holiness!” (from Turinese Letter of May 1888)

on Jamaica’s remarkably (oddly?) peaceful “struggle” for independence; The Gleaner (7/15/12): “Jamaicans fought no heroic battle to achieve Independence. . . . all these steps were constitutional advances which were subject to prior discussion and agreement. This smooth passage ensured progress with certainty, but it was devoid of the dramatic lustre of a struggle for victory to create a focal point.”

on “Surfin’ Bird” as Communist anthem: “"Rock and Roll which . . .  has an electronic sound and is called ‘junk music’ such as ‘Surfin' Bird’ by the Trashmen is also by no means primitive"; from “Communists Must Give Revolutionary Leadership in Culture” by Henry Flynt (and G. Maciunas) (1966)

“The nation state is the prison of the mind”: Philip Mansel quotes William Haddad

mobile phone: philanthropocapitalism : : stopwatch: Taylorism?  

on Laurence Allard’s “Smart Power, Mobile Phone Technology and Philanthropocapitalism in Africa”

Freud on how illness allegedly reveals the mind's crystalline structure: “If we throw a crystal to the floor, it breaks; but not into haphazard pieces. It comes apart along its lines of cleavage into fragments whose boundaries, though they were invisible, were predetermined by the crystal's structure.” (Lecture XXXI The Dissection of the Psychical Personality, 1923)

“Bovaryism,” or words that take an entire novel to define them, and with every word in the book taken as a necessary part of the definition.  See K. Burke’s eternally foundational (for TiR) "Litertaure as Equipment for Living" (1938) on Jules de Gaultier on Flaubert.

the teenaged years 16 through 18 as “the age of ingratitude” (Radiguet’s preface to Cheeks on Fire)

poet Henry Vaughn’s “The Retreat” ode to the Backward Traveller

R. W. Emerson, as not a fan of the universal “Facebook” voice: “another vice of manners which I do not easily forgive, is the dullness of perception which talks to every man alike. As soon as I perceive that my man does not know me but is making his speech to the man that happens to be here, I wish to gag him.” (circa 1849

why television? to create a new medium for broadcast of US post-war anti-communist propaganda
, of course

know (y)our mercenaries: a rundown & overview of current names in the global private security firm field: Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, DynCorp International, Triple Canopy, Sabre International (Baghdad), Askar Security Services Limited (Kampala), SOC, Dreshak Group (Dubai), Beowulf Defense, Sterling Global Operations; all mentioned herein 

meet our new global biometrics wizards, for voting, passports, etc.: Giesecke & Devrient Gemalto, Morpho, Oberthur

Seoul and / vs. Berlin: some parallels and connections

memo to Rand Paul at Howard University, on how hard the GOP worked to lose & alienate the voters of black America: some clear-eyed and devastating contemporaneous accounts, from the mid-60s pages of EbonyJet and The Crisis (Henry Lee Moon) . . . 

. . . and for good measure: Norman Mailer, 11/64, in Esquire

the Whitney Museum’s 1980 “Light Show,” the 1982 lawsuit, and the Hon. Ralph M. Holman and wife vs. artist James Turrell; mentioned by the latter in passing in interview here

animal rights, and Macarius Magnes’s Apocriticus (4th cent. CE), book III, chapter IV, “Objection based on the incident of the swine and the demons”: “What a myth ! What humbug ! What flat mockery ! A herd of two thousand swine ran into the sea, and were choked and perished! . . . it may be left to babes to make a decision about all this.”

how Fidel Castro's foreign policy changed African music

catching up on F. Fukuyama’s catching up on and discovery of the rentier class

the rise of the robots, 19th century style: on Charles Babbage’s On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures (1832), chapter 8, “Registering Operations”; and the research of Catherine Fisk; both mentioned herein

the rise of the robots, 1950s-60s style: James BoggsThe American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Worker's Notebook (1963), chapter 2, “The Challenge of Automation

on the Manchester International Football Academy, and the linguistics of global soccer

the great Popolipo and how to play Congolese / Soukous guitar: the instructional DVD 

on Shelley’s “Pinnacled dim in the intense inane” (Prometheus Unbound), quoted in Peter Schjeldahl, in "L.A. Demystified! Art and Life in the Eternal Present" (1981), reprinted in its entirety in newsprint broadsheet distributed at this exhibition

Taban Lo Liyong: “English is a prostitute, and a big prostitute.” -- quoted in Janine di Giovanni’s “A civil tongue: South Sudan tries to learn English”

on Chevreul, the chemist who invented Impressionism, Orphism

Derek Parfit discovers the Selector as ultimate cosmic force; to some others, this is very old news

John Ralston Saul’s Dark Diversions on meeting Vaso Čubrilović: “[H]e had fixed his self-image in the 1930s, in early middle age. Men tend to do that, just at the moment when their public disguise crystalizes.” 

on revolutionary "struggle   accounting"

on the “match nul” theory of politics

the DDR’s cult of Weimar remembrance, as reflected in stamp and coin collecting (Brecht, Kollwitz, Liebknecht, Luxemburg, Thälmann, Tucholsky, Zetkin)

the quest for the world’s fastest pedestrians

Pinochet’s Secretary of Labor and Social Security, José Manuel Piñera     Echenique, Chile’s Administradoras de Fondos de Pensionese, and the potential(ly (even) crapp(y/ier)) future of US unemployment benefits

the chanted background vocals to the Stooge’s official Worst Ever Song, “We Will Fall,” deciphered, with reference to Samarth Ramdas

on H. Bergson as psychic

on philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne and the “Muslim Bergsonians”

“Samuel J. Tilden . . . they curse his name," or How the Elevated Railway Ruined the Bowery, oral testimony from local residents and business-people, 1880 

on Méliès' absolutely delightful "Les Fromages Automobiles" (1907) 


on Beckett’s “syntax of weakness,” and "the impossibility of ever being wrong enough, ever being ridiculous and defenceless enough." (1948 letter)

November 28, 2013
still Ruined?

How much more information do we need to gather before we can try to begin to answer the question?

How much more information do we need to gather before we discover the need to reformulate the question?

How much more information do we need to gather before we forget what the original question was?

How much more information do we need to gather before we begin to wonder whether a legitimate question existed in the first place?

October 31, 2013
welcome to the public domain


September 30, 2013
vanishing public space: Africa too

Catching up this past month on a couple of our back issues of AfricaWatch (April '13), we found Andre Vltchek's account of his visit to the so-called "worst place on earth," Harare:

Right next to my hotel is the entrance to a magnificent swimming complex . . . Right next to it are Harare Gardens, a beautiful English-style park with people resting on the grass, enjoying picnics, reading. 
To have such public and ‘open’ areas like parks is unthinkable in Jakarta, where there is only one public green area of substantial size, MONAS. And Jakarta is a monster with 12 million inhabitants, while Harare has a population of only two million. Two million that are enjoying several magnificent parks and gardens, wide sidewalks and art exhibited in public areas, all over the city. 
But let’s not forget -- Harare is a ‘defiant’ nation, a country that refuses to fall on its knees and to salute its tormentors. While Jakarta and Phnom Penh are the capitals of two market fundamentalist countries. They are choking on their own fumes, they have almost nothing that could be defined as public left, but in the eyes of Western regime, they can’t be as bad as Harare, Caracas, Havana or Beijing! They are enjoying great immunity from uncomfortable questions; as well as full, hearty support from business-religion publications like The Economist.
There are also almost no public spaces in other African capitals that have been serving as Western client states for year and decades, like Kampala, Kigali, Addis Ababa and Cairo, although, in the latter, at least, people are able to gather on the city’s bridges. 
But Harare, we are told, is the worst city on earth! 
. . . Could it be that things are not so bad in Harare? There are several decent hospitals, preventive medical care, the highest literacy rate, some of the lowest crime rates on the continent, and public spaces all around.

The piece was published at too, here.

TiR highlights the above phrase because it was the one that caused us nearly to spit coffee out through our nose, for reasons of irony, due to events this past summer that Vltchek might not have been able to foresee.

In fairness, the "worst city" designation apparently was awarded in 2011, in the Global Liveability survey report published by the Economist's "Intelligence Unit."  The latest survey, released last month, upgrades Harare to merely fifth worst.

August 28, 2013

concrete details

from interview with Rachelle Horowitz, transportation director of the 1963 March on Washington:

Somebody at the National Council or the Red Cross said that the sandwiches had to be peanut butter and jelly. And Bayard came back to a staff meeting, and he said, O.K., we're writing this manual, and we have to tell people to bring peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, no mayonnaise. Somebody said, But Bayard -- And he said, This is not debatable! It became this sine qua non. Clearly what everybody was worried about was that you didn't want egg salad and mayonnaise spoiling on the road and people getting sick.

Interview included with numerous others in quite well done Time magazine 50th anniversary issue.

Though most inspiring of all was actually marching, walking and talking this past weekend with those who'd been there 50 years earlier.

More food-related details in context in "Eating on the March: Food at the 1963 March on Washington," on the Smithsonian site, here.

Meanwhile, regarding remembrance of historical specificity and the forgetting of it too, USA Today's admirably comprehensive (with even magnanimous inclusion of an essay by Haley Barbour! -- yes, that historically forgetful guy) and nicely done anniversary special edition is impossible not to read cover to cover, including the last paragraph of the tourism-themed last page (p. 71), which knocks the breath out of the reader with the following:
Just a stone's throw from the White House, the Willard Hotel is where Martin Luther King added the finishing touches to his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. Although the room he stayed in was destroyed during a recent renovation, visitors can spend the night in a suite dedicated to King.

(emphasis supplied)

July 31, 2013
horse psychology

As animals are so sensitive to sounds and are able to appreciate them so clearly, it may be wondered why so many show displeasure -- even pain -- in the presence of music.  Dogs not infrequently howl when their owners start singing or playing the gramophone . . . and some rats will even throw genuine epileptic fits at the sound of a harmonious chord. The reactions of horses to bands in the show ring is also notorious. . . . 

On the other hand, some horses, especially those which have been trained to musical accompaniment, seem to enjoy the beat and rhythm of music and will keep time to it of their own accord. 

However, the individual differences between horses in this respect are really no more surprising that those between humans. It is well known that what may be balm to one is poison to another.

from Practical Horse Psychology by Moyra Williams (1973)

[volume found last week among numerous discards in boxes outside service entrance to Ivy League alumni club building]

June 30, 2013
article sought

"La métamorphose de la larve garnautine," by Pr. Parvus

appeared in Plankton: The Quarterly Bulletin of the Plankton Society, v. 27, no. 3, Aug. - Sept. 1969

publication listed herein (.pdf)

& a copy of which is currently on view here             

                                                                among numerous other very interesting & illuminating items

May 31, 2013
H. Dutilleux

Last week saw the passing of this great but stubbornly non-prolific composer.

The liner notes to this fine (Rostropovich) recording remind us of the explanation of the composer's friend, the late Jean Roy: Dutilleux was "resigned to producing only masterpieces."

[Roy's 1962 book, Présences contemporaines seems to be the source of the original quote.]

TiR is exactly the same way.  Except in reverse.

We hold back and work over every post until, if in the end it cannot be suppressed entirely, it is nevertheless perfectly honed and compressed into an irreducible core of pointlessness, crappiness, inscrutability.

April 28, 2013
why citation

An esteemed historian once wrote words to the following effect:

I have been criticized sometimes for having too rarely cited and directly quoted my sources . . . 

It is a vain and pointless ostentation constantly to sprinkle one's page with footnoted references to well-known works, to pamphlets of little importance, and to draw attention to it. The thing that gives authority to an account is what happens next, its consequences, and its cohesion, more than the multitude of little bibliographical curiosities.

 TiR is not going to tell you who wrote the above, or where.  To do so would be vain and pointless.

Oh, OK:  It was written by this person in the 1868 preface to this work, all readable here (pdf.)