Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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March 10, 2008
onto our antheaps

Things we learned by reading Kristin    Ross's wonderful The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune:

  • Rimbaud's "flight from poetry . . . began not in 1875 with his 'silence' but rather in 1869 when he wrote his first poem."

  • "Rimbaud's prose poems in fact follow the same four rules Canetti applies to crowd formations."

  • Rimbaud was "the first poet of a civilization that has not yet appeared," according to René Char.
    [Where did Char say/write this?

    The editors at Verso provide in the book many footnotes, but none here for the benefit of us footnote-obsessives who appreciate being given a tidier opportunity to look everything up.

    However, our own research suggests that the quote seems to come from Char's Search for the Base and Summit (1955):
    Rimbaud est le premier poète d'une civilisation non encore apparue.

  • "Ideology is just the other name for work," according to Rancière.
    (Cool quote. But where did he say/write this? Again, Verso's editors provide no footnote, even though the original article version of Ross's chapter included one.

    Our research determines that it is apparently from "The Production of the Proletarian" section of his The Philosopher and His Poor

  • "Contemporary theory's canonization of Mallarmé and Saussure at the expense of Rimbaud goes hand in hand with the priority given epistemology and aesthetics over social thought and the celebration of romantic 'politics' of textuality, that ludic counterlogic of semantic instability that characterizes much of French theory, and especially French theory readily imported in America, today [i.e. 1988, when Ross's book was first published]."

  • "ocular frottage": Ross's delightful phrase for what's going on in AR's "The Seven Year Old Poets"

  • some statistics on the high rate of vagabondage and truancy among schoolage kids in 19th century France

  • Paul Lafargue's The Right to Be Lazy (1880) was surpassed contemporaneously in the number of languages into which it was translated by only one other book.

  • the growth of the science of "geography" in France came in response to the French military's belief that it lost the Franco-Prussian war due to its soldiers' inability or refusal to read maps

  • "All metaphors are contradictory."

  • "The most wonderful poetic sentences are those that describe with great physical precision and clarity something that is physically impossible."
    Hugo von Hofmannsthal wrote that, about Novalis, according to Hugo Friedrich.

  • Rimbaud was an avid reader of Proudhon.

  • the word "slogan" "derives from the Celtic meaning 'battle cry of the dead.'"

  • the word parataxis "originally, derives from the Greek word meaning to arrange in order to do battle -- to dispose in rows, side by side."

  • the number of interesting discoveries that an author can make when she dips into Alfred Delvau's 19th century dictionary of French slang, Dictionnaire de la Langue Verte
    (including, for example, the literal meaning of the "vins bleus" in "The Drunken Boat")

  • a "physiology of chatter" is what Proust wanted to build out of his attentiveness to the social polyvocality of Paris that fascinated him so, according to Walter Benjamin.
    [and WB wrote this -- where? Again, no cite.

    But it comes from the middle section of "Image of Proust," in Illuminations.

    This is the same section where WB flits through themes that include:
    the conjoined "vices" of curiosity and flattery;

    the addictiveness of eavesdropping, and playing detective;

    why the best way to learn about someone may be to mimic them;

    and how, while Proust offered us a peek behind the veil that hides the material basis of the life of a particular socioeconomic class, the veil will not at last be torn away, according to Benjamin, until a "final struggle."]

  • "[P]refixes essentially translate relations."

  • "Gossip is repetition with a difference: the same transmitted again and again with each variation that contributes to it taking on its own value."

  • "Satire is a genre of contamination," which cites or mimics the "discourse of the enemy . . . while marking the extreme point of one's own ideological divergence from it."

  • We should probably read more Alice    Kaplan.

  • that, although some volumes in Verso's Radical Thinkers series seem oddly to omit random footnotes, the volumes somehow never omit footnotes that direct the reader to other works in the series that are now available for purchase from Verso

  • that, while it is incredibly easy for the theoryhead maudit to become addicted to the Radical Thinkers series, and effortlessly to snap up several of its volumes, Ross's is the one so far to be found that is engagingly written, informative and insightful to such an extent that it is likely to end up being read straight through with pleasure, rather than browsed then tossed onto the "to be read" stack
    (or antheap).