Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The New Statesman, "New York’s hipster wars"
Why the city’s clash of cultures between progressive Brooklyn and transgressive Manhattan marks a new era in American politics.

In American cultural and intellectual life, New York City sets the tone. As the main hub for the country’s media and frequent originator of trends that percolate through US society, what’s “in” with the New York scene today is often central to American culture tomorrow. And politics, too ­– as US conservatives never tire of noting – is often downstream of culture.

But New York City’s intellectual landscape is increasingly split between two warring scenes, divided by geography, aesthetics and politics. Which of these prevails could affect whether America shifts right or remains where it is.

In Brooklyn, the borough associated with the “hipster” revolution from the late 2000s, writers energised by the Bernie Sanders campaigns in 2016 and 2020 retain their faith in left-wing politics through new “small” magazines. But on the island of Manhattan, a self-consciously transgressive artistic and literary scene is brewing downtown. In podcasts, plays and literary journals, a different sensibility is being elaborated. Scornful of the “woke” sanctimony of Brooklyn-based media, some flirt with alternative ideologies, while others claim not to be interested in politics at all.

[see also: A farewell to Enid’s, Greenpoint’s iconic “hipster” hangout]

Who wins in New York’s clash of cultures is high-stakes for the future of American political culture.... 

The first time I walked in Enid's all I thought was that it felt like the midwest, slackers from suburban Illinois and their junkie ex-cheerleader girlfriends. 

"And politics, too ­– as US conservatives never tire of noting – is often downstream of culture."


That culture might be powerless to affect the movement of history was a perception Viennese society held in abeyance for half a century, by endorsing every avant-garde that appeared in its arts and literature. 

The author is an American, a nationalist hipster conservative.

Even the pointless endless squabbling of the American culture war—which I have called an engine of unfreedom—is also a machine that originates new doctrines quickly copied from Brazil to Bessarabia, that generates entirely new lifestyles, physical-medical-cultural modes of life hitherto unknown.

To be present at the creation is why one lives in America and in New York specifically, why one bears the thousand tiny indignities of life here, why one consents to being broiled in summer and frozen in winter, ripped off for everything in all seasons, why one submits to the terrible restlessness and the deleterious effect on the body of the climate, the cuisine, the lifestyle—why it’s necessary to endure the vulgarity that pervades the city at every level, up to the highest levels of supposed refinement and intellectualism....

A postscript: I recently published a piece for the New Statesman gathering some observations on the political-cultural landscape in New York City. Just a fun little piece for the Brits, something to give them a very rough sense of developments here, because they love that sort of thing.  I figured it would probably get lukewarm pick-up this side of the Atlantic because I didn’t come out swinging against any of the people I mentioned.

Wrong! People outside New York City were irritated by what they perceived as an exaggeration on my part of the influence of a handful of figures in New York City, none of whom are household names. And after another essay was published earlier in the week, people in New York City were fed up with articles about cultural developments in lower Manhattan 

He links to Lorentzen's response. They're part of the same stupid scene. 

"In American cultural and intellectual life, New York City sets the tone....Who wins in New York’s clash of cultures is high-stakes for the future of American political culture." 

"To be present at the creation is why one lives in America and in New York specifically." 

I fucking had to laugh. A Californian fantasy of the center of the universe, 30[?] years too late. 

"—which I have called..." From the link:

Michel Foucault, ever more out of favour on the left, would have been right to see the American culture war itself as an engine of unfreedom, a means of disciplining thought and action on both sides.
Foucault, after Tocqueville, and all the conservatives, and the historians who read them, who've made the distinction between aristocracy and wealth, and Puritans and drunks. Lawrence, as always: "The deliberate consciousness of Americans so fair and smooth-spoken, and the under-consciousness so devilish. Destroy! destroy! destroy!...

American liberals are optimists about themselves; American conservatives are pessimists about everyone else. The first principle for both is their own self-image. 

Leiter links to the wife of a recently fired Princeton professor, Joshua Katz.

I decided to apply for early admission to Princeton after sitting in on Professor Joshua Katz’s seminar in April of 2012.

...In November 2018, Joshua bought my father a martini and asked for permission to marry me. In March 2019, we found our dream home in Princeton. That December, Joshua proposed. 

I'm not a moralist. Is all that is just pious?

Solveig Gold, First Things, "Princeton and the Erosion of Expertise"
Plato argued that we should, in all areas of life, defer to experts. If you wish to raise good horses, employ an expert horse-trainer. If you wish to cure a sick man, take him to an expert doctor. And if you wish to live in a harmonious city, enthrone an expert statesman.

One would be hard-pressed to find a group of people today who take greater pride or place more stock in expertise than the faculty members at my alma mater, Princeton University. “Trust the experts”: a constant refrain, plastered across their yard signs and social media accounts. In theory, it’s easy to imagine the little town of Princeton, New Jersey, as a modified, modern-day Kallipolis.

A second generation writer for First Things; a defender of free speech and the Federalist Society; published in The New Criterion, defending western civilization against attacks by Peter Beinart. 

Peter Beinart’s assertion last week, in “The Racial and Religious Paranoia of Trump’s Warsaw Speech,” that “the West is a racial and religious term” has raised more than a few eyebrows, primarily for its implication that to champion Western Civilization is to participate in bigotry. Jonah Goldberg’s article in National Review took Beinart to task on this point, offering a rousing defense of Western Civilization. But not yet fully debunked is Beinart’s initial premise: that is, that “the West” is code for white, Christian culture—a culture that belongs to white Christians, and to them alone.

"Western Civilization" celebrates white marble statues; the Greeks themselves were all in for polychrome vulgarity. And "Plato, we know, looked back with nostalgia at the immobile schemata of Egyptian art."  

The Federalist Society is no more conservative than the Club for Growth. The fight is over the definition of freedom, the American religion. American conservatives are fakers and vulgarians, like Ralph Lauren as a WASP. On the hipster's page I compared him to Whit Stillman and Andrew Exum. Stillman is a fantasist, and Exum sees himself as a cold war liberal in his own Vietnam. The Alden Pyle schtick was old in 1955. But American liberals now call themselves leftists—they're now social democrats—and American conservatives agree. Facts are boring to the faithful.  And we also have a new crew of fascists; academic fascist kitsch, and suburban club kid college graduates. I've mentioned Anna Khachiyan once and that's enough. I've never written about Whit Stillman, but I've told a story about Tina Barney, from before Stillman made his first film. Barney and Gold, a couple of Jewish Shiksa goddesses in an anti-Semitic world. It's amusing rereading it that I obviously worked on the tone, as I have here, maybe too much. I indulge myself responding to this shit, calling their snobbery and raising it. It's an affectation.

I never posted this pic and you can't find it anymore, but it takes me back.

Ibn Flashman.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Haiti gets the 1619 treatment. Pooja Bhatia in the LRB 

But for many others, ‘The Ransom’ is a bitter reminder of the singular power of the New York Times – a power it has not often deployed in the interest of Haitians, let alone their history. ‘When they say something, it is accepted – even though others have been saying it for decades,’ in the words of Cécile Accilien, the vice-president of the Haitian Studies Association. She told me ‘The Ransom’ had made her so angry she hadn’t been able read it all.

...A more serious problem is the way ‘The Ransom’ is framed. There’s a lot of Columbus-ing language at the top of the lead story, which, in contrast to the precision of the reporting that follows, tries to signal that the investigation reveals something new and scandalous, aka a scoop.

‘For generations, Haitians had to pay France for their freedom. How much was a mystery – until now.’

The ‘story’ of the debt is ‘rarely taught or acknowledged’.

‘The double debt has largely faded into history ... Only a few scholars have examined it deeply. No detailed accounting of how much the Haitians actually paid has ever been done, historians say.’

These claims both diminish the efforts of others – another norm in journalism, but one that is not necessary – and are shot through with inaccuracy.‘The Ransom’ itself undermines them, especially in what it says about Aristide. Haiti’s restitution claims were widely taught and acknowledged in the not too distant past. They have not faded into history; the scholarly energy given to issues of odious sovereign debt, including the losses Haiti suffered from its payments to France, have, if anything, intensified in recent years.

From 2003 until the February 2004 coup (we can now call it a coup because the Times has a European official using the word on record), Aristide led a popular campaign for the return of Haiti’s independence payments. Researchers hired by the government argued that the payments violated the international law of the time. They assessed its drain on Haiti’s treasury, and calculated the present value of the payments as $21.7 billion (very close to the Times’s lower estimate). Nothing was hush-hush about any of this work – quite the opposite. The government mounted a spectacular campaign to build awareness of the restitution demand, reasoning that public pressure and shaming were more likely to force France’s hand than a lawsuit. Jurisdiction would have been tricky in a court of law. So the government appealed to the court of public opinion.

...Why did the world’s pre-eminent paper, arbiter of ‘all the news that’s fit to print’ and arguably the highest court of public opinion, take almost two decades to cover Aristide’s campaign for restitution? The real hell of it is that everyone has his reasons, and it’s possible to imagine a whole variety of them. Maybe the reporters simply ran out of time – the pace of events in Haiti in 2003-4 was breakneck. It was suffering under an aid embargo because of allegedly tainted legislative elections, which undermined Aristide’s ability to govern and made the security situation worse. Civil society elites were calling for Aristide’s resignation. Diplomats were everywhere, vacillating between trying to negotiate a compromise and urging Aristide to resign.

Maybe the Times reporters didn’t take Aristide seriously. Among the poor majority, most of whom do not speak English, Aristide was very popular, but foreign reporters in Haiti tend to spend more time with State Department officials than with the poor majority. Or maybe Times journalists did take Aristide seriously, but found the restitution claim silly and feared reporting on it would further sully his standing abroad. Repairing colonial atrocities was ‘unthinkable’ for most Americans in 2003, the year their president stood under a banner proclaiming the mission in Iraq against WMDs and terrorism accomplished. What was thinkable, what most Times readers were thinking about, was muscular humanitarian intervention – which was soon to come in Haiti. Hours after Aristide was shown out, the US sent in the Marines. Three months later, on 2 June 2004, the paper reported that ‘United States commanders began turning over this anarchic, flood-ravaged, starving nation 500 miles from Florida to a handful of United Nations troops.’

Understanding why the Times chose 2022 to cover the story of Haiti’s debt is easier. It’s a different era in the United States: a period of imperial decline; of outrage at the police murdering Black people; of Confederate statues coming down; of studious non-intervention abroad; of anti-colonialism and anti-racism. Across the former imperial powers, it is a time of reckoning with history. Despite the reactionary backlash, it remains easier to identify and expose the wrongs of the past – all those dead white racist men – than it is to examine the ones we commit and perpetuate in our lifetimes.

But that’s exactly what the Times should be using its singular platform to do. In Haiti, it should be investigating the United States’ continued support of an unelected head of government, Ariel Henry, who is implicated in his predecessor’s murder. It should run a long interview with Daniel Foote, the whistleblower envoy who quit last year, disgusted with US interference in Haiti. I could go on. There is no dearth of mysteries and perversities in today’s Haiti, many of which can be traced to the workings of US power. An obvious place to start would be in its own newsroom: Why didn’t the Times cover Aristide’s debt campaign in 2003?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

unrealized projects. In these last few hours

Still having fun with this one

Thinking about Fantin-Latour again, because of Lorentzen and Indiana, again. Lorentzen's foreword to Indiana's new collection at Jacobin Jacobin is to the Jacobins what Brooklyn Industries is to... (and that's an old one too).

Lorentzen's blurb is awful.
Indiana is often associated in the popular mind or the minds of magazine editors with the “Downtown” Manhattan of the 1980s, and while this is not wrong—he was living as he does still, some of the time, in the East Village, was present at the Mudd Club, and so on—it is not enough. The vision of his novels, especially his true crime trilogy (Resentment, Three Month Fever, Depraved Indifference) spans the whole of America, and his literary sensibility is rooted in Europe.
For most of the 20th century New York was the place Americans went to escape their country without using a passport. It was last stop before leaving. You'd think a former editor of the LRB should know that, but it was clear a long time ago he didn't. As a gallery director from Vienna told me almost 20 years ago,  NY is provincial now.  
Indiana belongs with Leo Bersani and Dale Peck, and Daniel Harris, and Jayne County: "white faggots" of a certain age and place, sitting around talking, and now facing death threats from their erstwhile epigones. Remember "The Antisocial Thesis in Queer Theory": trash-talking reactionaries, honest, now beatified, cleansed, in academia.

Most of the writers, artists, and filmmakers Indiana scrutinizes in these pages are geniuses, and his criticism meets them at their level. From the fictions of Paul Scheerbart to the paintings of the young artist Sam McKinniss,...
I had to use google, and laugh.
McKinniss’s work arouses thoughts about the Leibnizian fuzziness between fiction and documentary reality, about concealment and revelation, about forms of masquerade, the mutability of memory. His paintings evoke a waking dream where figures of fiction, on furlough from their narratives, have real metaphorical force. Celebrities are fictional, whatever else they are; McKinniss’s pictures of them are layered in artifice, approximations of “perfect moments” in the careers of certain images.

Henri Fantin-Latour (1836–1904), whose flower paintings McKinniss frequently copies, has been called “a traditional painter with avant-garde sympathies,” which could apply to contemporary artists like Dike Blair, Maureen Gallace, Billy Sullivan, and McKinniss, who are realist painters of no discernible school, very different in style, innovators in subject matter and formal design. Alex Katz might fit in here, too. However traditional their techniques, their works are recognizably of our time, informed by the convulsive history of modernism and the wider movement of current events. Even McKinniss’s atmospheric copies of Fantin-Latour have a Pierre Menard kind of postmodernity; we see them through the filter of the past hundred years. (I like the knife on the table that features in Still Life with Primroses, Pears and Pomegranates (after Fantin-Latour), 2018—how criminal!)

What Fantin-Latour represents for McKinniss is something close to perfection in paint, the apogee of particular skills and sensitivities that McKinniss also has in abundance. I could be mistaken, but I think McKinniss’s embrace of Fantin-Latour is also his way of telling us he isn’t running for flavor of the month. Both artists are intoxicated by music.

McKinness in the New Yorker, by Jia Tolentino, another young sophisticate who isn't.

Last year, the twenty-year-old New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde contacted the Brooklyn-based painter Sam McKinniss through mutual friends. She came to visit his studio in Bushwick, and then went to see his exhibition “Egyptian Violet,” which featured, among other works, a life-size oil painting, rendered with Symbolist intensity and high-classical technique, of Prince on a motorcycle. Soon after, she asked McKinniss if he would paint a portrait of her for the cover of her forthcoming album, “Melodrama.”  

Leibnizian fuzziness, flavor of the month. Like Hickey, Indiana sees what the wants to for whatever reason. He uses McInniss as material to talk about his own interests. Obviously there's nothing new in having a feeling for and understanding, or a fantasy, of Fantin-Latour—or  Leibniz and Joan Didion.  Peter Saville saw it in 1983. It's what others recognized in Seurat, a better artist so harder to steal from, a mechanical blankness, a passivity that Seurat could describe but that Fantin-Latour could only manifest. Fantin-Latour is why we have Richter, as Seurat is why we have Warhol. Think also of Degas, like Seurat: painters who responded to photography without being defeated by it. It took years for Maureen Gallace to accept the fact that she's a landscape painter. She started out thinking of her work as formal and conceptual. She needed to lie to herself to do what she wanted to do. Embracing kitsch, or lack of affect, is a defense mechanism, steeling yourself for mockery. Fear made her early work simple, almost Platonic anti-landscapes, complex and interesting. Now that she's out of the closet and painting at the beach, the work is maybe better but also more simply small.

I don't remember the first time I wrote that the irony of pop art came out of a need to find a way to make figurative work and get away with it. Like Robert Wilson—"I  didn't mean anything by it."—or T.S. Eliot. McKinnis is repeating work from 25 years ago, but most don't know, and those who do don't care.  Gagosian now represents both John Currin and a fan, though his female follower is even more a follower of the sexually aggressive Balthus while Currin is voyeur as cuck. But he's also a committed academician. Look at the sleeve on the female figure, The Penitent, from 2004.  I'm 
sure he can talk for hours about both Titian's paint handling and the chemistry of his paints. It's been interesting to watch his skills mature; he's fully committed now and it shows. But as I said to the girls at the desk a couple of years ago, all the show needed was a portrait of a naked black man with a 10 inch cock. That got a laugh. 

A few years ago at Christie's a young thing in the sales department saw me looking at a Gauguin monotype, one image repeated on a page, saying not too pertly, "It's a nice Warhol". I looked at her, surprised. She smiled. We both smiled. Her bosses may have told her what to to say; it may have been her idea. She may have had an intuitive understanding of what it meant to find the human behind the mechanical as opposed to the mechanical behind the human. Or maybe she was being paid to respond equally to both. At the moment I gave her the benefit of the doubt; that's why the young and attractive are out front. I wished I'd had the money for dinner if not the Gauguin. I would have asked. But at this point Indiana and others who also should know better are just scraping the barrel, or trying to get laid. 

I've said a few times that over the last 25 years I've had more interesting conversations with art dealers than artists, and even more so with gallerists and employees of auction houses who dealt with a broader range of art: 19th century to contemporary, or even older. If I didn't love the good shit I wouldn't be talking about the bad. And what annoys me almost as much as the ignorance that now rules the "artworld" is the "leftist intellectuals" and academics who refer to art—and film—as if it didn't mark them as absolutely bourgeois, and conservative.

Of course I'm a conservative. All leftists are conservatives. Anarchists are liberal idealists.

Untitled, (PCL), 2008, Transparency on lightbox, 96"x 96"

Untitled, (Bat), 2010, Transparency on lightbox, 90"x120"

A repeat from 2008
From the list of unrealized projects
Flag, 2001-8, sewn and appliquéd in white nylon, 72"x48"

I made one—had one made—in 2001. It's in a box somewhere in Germany. I've toyed with the idea of doing the entire UN.

Years later, through a mutual friend,  I gave this one to David Hammons. As a one-off it fits his work more than mine; it's almost an imitation. I told her to tell him he could use it any way he wanted. I gave up all rights to it.

The thought of 193 white flags crumpled up on the floor would be less Hammons than me. Not great maybe, but not bad. I spent more time on the fabric project and that fell apart. I'm not much as a salesman. I never wanted to be, but sometimes I wanted the result. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Friday, May 20, 2022


But in the earlier and Hungarian phase of his life, Lakatos was a Stalinist revolutionary, the leader of a communist cell who persuaded a young comrade that it was her duty to the revolution to commit suicide, since otherwise she was likely to be arrested by the Nazis and coerced into betraying the valuable young cadres who constituted the group (Bandy 2009: ch. 5; Long 1998 and 2002; Congden 1997). So far from being a fallibilist, the young Lakatos displayed a cocksure self-confidence in his grasp of the historical situation, enough to exclude any alternative solution to the admittedly appalling problems that this group of young and mostly Jewish communists were facing in Nazi-occupied Hungary. (“Is there no other way?” the young comrade asked. The answer, apparently, was “No”: Long 2002: 267.) 

Feyerabend tells how, without falling for Adolf Hitler’s charisma, he appreciated Hitler’s oratorial style. Austria was re-unified with Germany in 1938. Jewish schoolmates were treated differently, and Jewish neighbours and acquaintances started disappearing. But, as usual, Feyerabend had no clear view of the situation:

"Much of what happened I learned only after the war, from articles, books, and television, and the events I did notice either made no impression at all or affected me in a random way. I remember them and I can describe them, but there was no context to give them meaning and no aim to judge them by. (pp. 37–8). 
For me the German occupation and the war that followed were an inconvenience, not a moral problem, and my reactions came from accidental moods and circumstances, not from a well-defined outlook." (p. 38).

...As far as his army record goes, Feyerabend claims in his autobiography that his mind is a blank. But in fact this is one of the periods he tells us most about. Having passed his final high school exams in March 1942, he was drafted into the Arbeitsdienst (the work service introduced by the Nazis), and sent for basic training in Pirmasens, Germany. Feyerabend opted to stay in Germany to keep out of the way of the fighting, but subsequently asked to be sent to where the fighting was, having become bored with cleaning the barracks! He even considered joining the SS, for aesthetic reasons. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Truth and lies. Content and form
Does liberalism without individualism, human rights at its foundation, and a belief that the state should stay out of people’s lives even make sense? Joseph Raz, who died on May 2nd, believed it did.  Raz was a world-renowned legal and political philosopher whose book, The Morality of Freedom, offered a way of marrying liberalism with a traditionally opposed political philosophy: perfectionism. 

Bruno Maçães in the New Statesman
A large part of the crypto space will never reconcile itself with this outcome. For the true revolutionaries, Terra’s implosion showed crypto is not going far enough. Stablecoins still look to fiat currencies as their model and so suffer from the same flaws the US dollar and its peers have always exhibited. They are tools of power, ways to control wealth and channel it in certain directions. Crypto utopians picture a world where mathematical truth becomes the overriding political authority. If this sounds like Platonism, it’s because it is Platonism. But there is a reason Platonism continues to attract us. Behind the notion of an immutable blockchain lies the dream of the unmediated rule of truth over society.

Evgeny Morozov reinvents... 

Algorithms have their limits; so do humans. At The Syllabus our human curators work side-by-side with technologists to discover outstanding new content.

Every week we index, rank and review tens of thousands of newly published pieces across text, audio, and video - and in 6 languages.

Our team then hand-picks the most interesting material from this ever-growing pile of information. We call this “artisanal automation”.

The result? More than a dozen weekly syllabi with all the best new material to read, watch and listen to.

3 Quarks Daily was founded in 2004. It's blurbed by Richard Dawkins and David Byrne. The Syllabus is blurbed by Brian Eno.

A friend's ex-girlfriend updated an old old film that's getting a new release.  Ex-Catholics, ex-porn stars,  and ex-geeks. "She's still got it." It's all still there.  It's reflex.

Oliver Sacks
What was going on? A roar of laughter from the aphasia ward, just as the President’s speech was coming on, and they had all been so eager to hear the President speaking ...

There he was, the old Charmer, the Actor, with his practiced rhetoric, his histrionisms, his emotional appeal—and all the patients were convulsed with laughter. Well, not all: some looked bewildered, some looked outraged, one or two looked apprehensive, but most looked amused. The President was, as always, moving—but he was moving them, apparently, mainly to laughter. What could they be thinking? Were they failing to understand him? Or did they, perhaps, understand him all too well?

It was often said of these patients, who though intelligent had the severest receptive or global aphasia, rendering them incapable of understanding words as such, that they none the less understood most of what was said to them. Their friends, their relatives, the nurses who knew them well, could hardly believe, sometimes, that they were aphasic.

This was because, when addressed naturally, they grasped some or most of the meaning. And one does speak ‘naturally’, naturally.

Thus, to demonstrate their aphasia, one had to go to extraordinary lengths, as a neurologist, to speak and behave unnaturally, to remove all the extraverbal cues—tone of voice, intonation, suggestive emphasis or inflection, as well as all visual cues (one’s expressions, one’s gestures, one’s entire, largely unconscious, personal repertoire and posture): one had to remove all of this (which might involve total concealment of one’s person, and total depersonalization of one’s voice, even to using a computerized voice synthesizer) in order to reduce speech to pure words, speech totally devoid of what Frege called ‘tone-color’ (Klangenfarben) or ‘evocation’. With the most sensitive patients, it was only with such a grossly artificial, mechanical speech—somewhat like that of the computers in Star Trek—that one could be wholly sure of their aphasia.

Why all this? Because speech—natural speech—does not consist of words alone, nor (as Hughlings Jackson thought) ‘propositions’ alone. It consists of utterance—an uttering-forth of one’s whole meaning with one’s whole being—the understanding of which involves infinitely more than mere word-recognition. And this was the clue to aphasiacs’ understanding, even when they might be wholly uncomprehending of words as such. For though the words, the verbal constructions, per se, might convey nothing, spoken language is normally suffused with ‘tone’, embedded in an expressiveness which transcends the verbal— and it is precisely this expressiveness, so deep, so various, so complex, so subtle, which is perfectly preserved in aphasia, though understanding of words be destroyed. Preserved—and often more: preternaturally enhanced ...

This too becomes clear—often in the most striking, or comic, or dramatic way—to all those who work or live closely with aphasiacs: their families or friends or nurses or doctors. At first, perhaps, we see nothing much the matter; and then we see that there has been a great change, almost an inversion, in their understanding of speech. Something has gone, has been devastated, it is true— but something has come, in its stead, has been immensely enhanced, so that—at least with emotionally laden utterance—the meaning may be fully grasped even when every word is missed. This, in our species Homo loquens, seems almost an inversion of the usual order of things: an inversion, and perhaps a reversion too, to something more primitive and elemental. And this perhaps is why Hughlings Jackson compared aphasiacs to dogs (a comparison that might outrage both!) though when he did this he was chiefly thinking of their linguistic incompetences, rather than their remarkable, and almost infallible, sensitivity to ‘tone’ and feeling. Henry Head, more sensitive in this regard, speaks of ‘feeling-tone’ in his (1926) treatise on aphasia, and stresses how it is preserved, and often enhanced, in aphasiacs.

Thus the feeling I sometimes have—which all of us who work closely with aphasiacs have—that one cannot lie to an aphasiac. He cannot grasp your words, and so cannot be deceived by them; but what he grasps he grasps with infallible precision, namely the expression that goes with the words, that total, spontaneous, involuntary expressiveness which can never be simulated or faked, as words alone can, all too easily ...

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, was published in 1985, the English translation of The Name of the Rose, in 83. I was reading Calvino in the 70s, and then Borges. By the time I got to Borges I knew the problem.

2 decades ago as a 21 year old I read Gravity's Rainbow and a pair of fragments from it became touchstones of my intellectual life: the description at different points in the novel of two acts of self-destruction, the mass suicides of the Herero in Südwest as a refusal and denial of the authority of their masters, and of the Schwarzkommando as the final act of nihilism. The significance was context: that identical actions could signify categorical opposites. Academic freedom historically has been tied to general freedom of thought and to democracy, but now it's linked to institutional privilege and defended with references to monarchy. 

The classic defense of the free market is that its openness and vulgarity act as an astringent, testing and tightening thought what would otherwise risk becoming arid blather. But now that the market has reached the academy it wants to escape its roots. So we have an academy predicated not on the hopes of the humanities and of democracy but on the technocratic logic of reactionary schoolmen. Welcome to the 14th century.

Argument itself may be epiphenomenal, but it's not an argument to say that perfectionism is anti-democratic. Whatever the cause, Joseph Raz now has a tag.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Lev Golinkin, The Nation: Meet the Head of Biden’s New “Disinformation Governing Board”

Late last month, the Joe Biden administration publicly confirmed that a “Disinformation Governing Board” working group had been created within the Department of Homeland Security. The news prompted a flood of concern about the impact of such an Orwellian organ on America.

But there’s no need to engage in hypotheticals to understand the dangers. One has to only consider the past of Nina Jankowicz, the head of the new disinformation board.

Jankowicz’s experience as a disinformation warrior includes her work with StopFake, a US government-funded “anti-disinformation” organization founded in March 2014 and lauded as a model of how to combat Kremlin lies. Four years later, StopFake began aggressively whitewashing two Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups with a long track record of violence, including war crimes.

Today, StopFake is an official Facebook fact-checking partner, which gives it the power to censor news, while Jankowicz is America’s disinformation czar. 

Remember that Leiter and others defend academic freedom, and are against free speech for the rest of us.

These platforms are now responsible for shaping and allowing participation in our new digital and democratic culture, yet they have little direct accountability to their users. Future intervention, if any, must take into account how and why these platforms regulate online speech in order to strike a balance between preserving the democratizing forces of the internet and protecting the generative power of our New Governors.

They may or may not associate corporations with rightful "epistemic authority", but they damn sure associate themselves with it.

Facebook reversed its reversal of its Azov policy after the shooting in Buffalo.
Now Golinkin tells me the policy's unchanged.  But Jancowicz is gone.

Emerson T. Brooking (@etbrooking) is at the Atlantic Council, with Oleksiy Honcharuk.
On October 13, photographs started circulating across social media showing a man resembling Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk on stage at the “Veterans Strong” concert event in Kyiv. This was, however, no ordinary concert — it was organized by a far-right figure accused of murder, and headlined by a neo-Nazi band. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

CNAS Gaming Lab on Meet the Press
In a special collaboration with NBC’s Meet the Press, The Gaming Lab at CNAS executed a strategic-operational game to provide critical insight into how a potential war with China over Taiwan could unfold, and how the United States and its allies and partners could defeat an attack on Taiwan by China. This special edition of Meet the Press Reports shows how wargames can help policymakers better understand the dilemmas and impacts such a conflict could have on the Indo-Pacific. Watch the episode from NBC to see a CNAS wargame in action and put yourself in the shoes of a high-ranking defense official executing a military strategy.

July 2013Foreign Policy: U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans
For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. So what just happened?

The Atlantic Council: The Art of Future Warfare.

"To add to the military metaphors: Soldier of the judicial press (Bertin). The poets of strife. The litterateurs of the advance guard. This habitude of military metaphors denotes minds not military, but made for discipline, that is, for conformity, minds born domesticated, Belgian minds, which can think only in society."

If you follow the academics, then "conceptual art" is a new form of philosophy, when the good stuff never was or is. There's something Protestant, or Anglo-Protestant-academic, in the need to make modern and supposedly secular philosophy into science, and then "fine art"—historically associated with "truth" (unlike stories or "fiction")—into pedantry. The little gestures above are serious because they undermine pedantry. They're serious because they're funny, and their humor represents everything the state claims to. Sometimes farting in church is a moral act.

I should really make this in to a poster or a t-shirt. In all the years I've put this out there not one person has told me that they simply got the fucking joke. Not one person has laughed. 
Hand-made/factory made, decent/vulgar, public/private, virgin/whore. It's fucking hilarious. And it's Duchamp's joke, not mine.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

I've updated this a few times. The shooter in Buffalo is a self-described "accelerationist", a fan of Nick Land. The aestheticization of politics etc. 
The below turned into a ramble, but that's ok. 

The above has been sitting for a while. Still watching the same drift, change, adaptation, acclimation, forgetting.  I'd read enough Lorentzen to know what to expect, mostly. Ruby was the source for my reference to Zegna: a young Irish poet, writing his won copy, posing in a fashion spread. Now he rts an author celebrating a review "it's like the first day I woke up married, not really any differOMG THE NEW YORK TIMES". 
“Saint Sebastian’s Abyss,” by Mark Haber, and “The Longcut,” by Emily Hall, are sparkling comic novels about art, told from the sobbers’ point of view. It never occurs to the nameless, neurotic narrators — an art historian and a conceptual artist — that art could be about anything besides profound truth. Though well past college age, both have a kind of sophomore-year humorlessness, which makes them very funny and also a little terrifying: Their brains are nice places to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. The intensity of their devotion to art has almost cut them off from the rest of humanity, but they talk to themselves in such similar accents they could almost be talking to each other.
The authors of the books reviewed are making fun of themselves and the fantasies they'll never leave behind, the in-jokes for a dying self-consciously elite culture. Emily Hall has been writing for Artforum, since 2003. That made me laugh. 

"ah america, the land where having lots of cultural capital and no economic capital is elitist."

That is in fact the definition of cultural capital: the one capital you can never lose.
But back to Tocqueville, again, and Lefebvre,
and lawyers.
“Doing these cases, I began to find myself in a dangerous situation as an advocate. I came to believe in the truth of what I was saying."
I should give the NLR its own tag.  As always, it's not the conflicts, just the obliviousness. 
Conversely, commercial art has given us much that is vulgar or snobbish (two aspects of the same thing) to the point of loathsomeness...

The books reviewed above are commercial and snobbish, mocking and memorializing their authors' fantasies of something they themselves don't really understand, like Rachel Dolezal or a drag queen's fantasies of women. 

All of this because Ruby just published a piece on Gary Indiana.

I've mentioned him once. There should be more. I remember sitting with him at a Bush Tetras show where all he talked about was the Richard Speck prison video; he was disgusted but couldn't let go. I remember his opening a few years later, a large photograph of Bulle Ogier, high on the wall, next to a self-portrait, on his back looking up at a hustler's cock in his ass, his bare feet at the top corners of the page. He's a writer not a photographer. He can be cheap and indulgent, clear eyed and observant. He tells a great story about Barbet Schroeder's accountant. He's great on self-hating faggot fascists. He could be one if he wanted and sometimes he does. He's honest. Ron Vawter's Roy Cohn was something I'll never forget. He's not a leftist. He's not a liberal except by default, knowing where the other side ends up.

Looking at this and remembering the end.

And now I found out Lorentzen wrote the foreword to Indiana's new Selected Essays.
That's fitting. Indiana is a snob disgusted by snobbery. It's the doubleness that interests me, not the self-portrait with the cock in his ass. I'm betting some things will last, and others won't. I argue my preferences.

From an essay in an earlier collection. Indiana's divided loyalties, 
That culture might be powerless to affect the movement of history was a perception Viennese society held in abeyance for half a century, by endorsing every avant-garde that appeared in its arts and literature. These were received as the challenging aesthetic byproducts of industrial and commercial progress. The scandals caused by the Secession could only have occurred in a society anxious to assimilate them for tonic purposes. It’s true that a large reactionary element resisted cultural innovation, and often went on the attack. When the certainties of the codified professions were questioned—in medicine, physics and jurisprudence, for example—this resistance turned violent and ugly. But among the enlightened newly rich and established upper classes, art enjoyed such esteem that even its most radical practitioners (along with its most patent mediocrities) were given the honor of excited debate and the security of responsible patronage. 
It was a period of liberal complacency, an era of ornament. Man would be perfected by technical progress, and the civilizing presence of Art. Art wouldn’t simply hang on walls; the practical, material stuff of daily life would become art, as artists in increasing numbers applied their talents to silverware and glass design, tea-services and carpets, furniture and interiors. 
Ornament had its double in the information field. The feuilleton, an impressionistic mélange of literary fantasy and journalism, provided a veil of illusion between reader and raw event. Facts, in the land of Kakania, became matters of opinion. The imprecision of public discourse injected the moral flab of the status quo into reportage, government decree and legal statute alike. While the Baroque had fallen away a century before, during the Napoleonic Wars, the spirit of the Baroque returned in Austria-Hungary with a vengeance, tarted up as stylistic innovation. It disguised the nature of the age for an aspiring middle class. For those who knew better, it kept the inevitable at arm’s length, like heroin.

Ruby, from the NLR to "Gawker"

Since moving to Berlin in 2014, I have become a regular watcher of Eurovision, the televised song-and-dance competition known the world over as the height of frivolity and schlock. Whenever my German friends find this out about me — a person they otherwise consider an unrepentant snob — they think I am mocking them. They are not entirely mistaken.


That culture might be powerless to affect the movement of history was a perception Viennese society held in abeyance for half a century, by endorsing every avant-garde that appeared in its arts and literature. 

It reminded me

Like Land, Plant and Fisher had both read the French accelerationists and were increasingly hostile to the hold they felt traditional leftwing and liberal ideas had on British humanities departments, and on the world beyond. Unlike Land, Plant and Fisher were technophiles: she had an early Apple computer, he was an early mobile phone user. “Computers ... pursue accelerating, exponential paths, proliferating, miniaturising, stringing themselves together,” wrote Plant in Zeroes and Ones, a caffeinated 1997 book about the development of computing. Plant and Fisher were also committed fans of the 90s’ increasingly kinetic dance music and action films, which they saw as popular art forms that embodied the possibilities of the new digital era.

With the internet becoming part of everyday life for the first time, and capitalism seemingly triumphant after the collapse of communism in 1989, a belief that the future would be almost entirely shaped by computers and globalisation – the accelerated “movement of the market” that Deleuze and Guattari had called for two decades earlier – spread across British and American academia and politics during the 90s. The Warwick accelerationists were in the vanguard. 

Mark Fisher, tragic schoolboy fantasist. I thought I must have put something here about Vorticism and British vanguardism repeating itself. So stupid. 
5/24. more on Lorentzen, Indiana, and...

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Zionism is neither left, nor egalitarian, nor democratic. 

Al Jazeera:  Germany bans vigil in memory of journalist killed by Israel
Berlin police tell pro-Palestinian Jewish group the vigil falls under the ban on protests in the run-up to Nakba Day.


Efforts by German authorities to clamp down on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign took a sinister turn recently after a Jewish-German singer and daughter of a Holocaust survivor was warned that a concert in which she is scheduled to perform would be cancelled if she made any remarks in support of BDS. 
Reed's piece says nothing about the attack on voting rights. Again: Reed is an ass. He and Leiter are united in snobbery.

Boredom, Banality, Buppies, pedants and children, free speech etc.


I emailed Lev Golinkin, and he said he'd check with Facebook. Today (5/18), they said there's no new change in policy. 
But my accounted is restricted for a month. 

Sunday, May 08, 2022

and one last time because the tweets by Masters and Cooper make a great pair. And it's become clear since that Cooper doesn't just hate the constitution; he lates law itself. He wants outcomes without process. His justice is ad hoc, like Posner: "the rule of reason". Nothing new but Cooper makes it easy.

I was asked by a journalist from another country—from my twitter days—what I made of this, on Thiel, his followers, pets and servants. Maybe I'll write something later, but the writer's passivity is as much a symptom as the rest. He's  unwilling to ask what Christian fundamentalists and homosexual nihilists have in common. He can't ask himself and us, and more important for his job, he can't ask them. Again: journalism modeled on academia, on courtesy and respect, not interrogation. Sitting in a diner with J.D. Vance and all he's good for is sad stenography, recording a thousand contradictions, passionate hypocrisy, the black heart of fascism.  
this was pretty good.


We've been here before but not on the same day. The idiot Cooper

the court has nothing to do with laws, it is a council of clerics that rules by decree and is discussed as such

Jäger in The Guardian: The Tories’ biggest trick is making their opponents fight post-Brexit policies in the courts

It seems like every few months brings news of another defeat for the UK government in the courts. And there may well be more to come – the latest policy in the sights of lawyers and activists is the plan to process certain asylum seekers who’ve arrived on Britain’s shores in Rwanda in east Africa.

The policy was met with justified outrage from progressives and the left. Specialists also predicted that it would run afoul of international law and human rights legislation. But what if this was part of the plan all along? The Times columnist Clare Foges, writing under the headline “Rwanda won’t work: but it will for Boris Johnson”, wondered if the real purpose of the plan was not to actually reduce perilous journeys across the Channel, as the government claimed, but to draw progressives into extended court battles and lawsuits. This would force them to act as an explicit blockade on post-Brexit migration policies, frustrating the “people’s will” ratified by the 2019 election, and thereby galvanising Tory activists and potential voters.

American liberals haven't complained about judicial review in state courts, which have largely played the same role as in the UK. And I still have never heard opponents cite Derrick Bell's argument against Brown. Why I have a tag for Judicial review.
A couple of years ago I searched for articles on Arendt and Bell. I found only one, from 2011. Maribel Morey, in "Reassessing Hannah Arendt's 'Reflections on Little Rock' 1959", refers to Bell in a footnote.
I've removed other footnote markers in the passage.
To late 1950s’ Dissent readers who assumed that the school integration movement required black schoolchildren to become stoic, heroic, and sacrificial civil rights actors for the benefit of future generations, a concern with children’s childhoods seemed immaterial.* However, the Supreme Court’s opinion in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) reveals that even for the nine justices of the Brown Court (who, presumably, represented the antithesis of Arendt’s position in “Reflections”), the entire point of integrating public schools was to improve black children’s lives. Taking the Brown opinion at face value, one of the main reasons for integrating schools was to correct black schoolchildren’s “feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” When in 1959 Arendt prescribed keeping black schoolchildren like Elizabeth Eckford far away from political and public concerns as a means of improving their childhoods, she clearly differed from Brown’s position, but both Arendt and the Brown Court were concerned with the same question. 
Put simply, this article argues that Arendt’s “Reflections,” like the Supreme Court’s Brown opinion, was largely concerned with improving black children’s childhoods and that this point brought to light a broader concern for children’s childhoods that preoccu- pied Arendt deeply in the late 1950s. Rather than being dismissed by Arendtian and civil rights scholars alike, “Reflections” should be read alongside Arendt’s two other contem- porary works and appreciated for bringing up a topic that was central to Brown.

* The constitutional scholar, Derrick Bell, made this observation two decades later. In ‘‘Serving Two Masters,’’ Bell explained that school integration in racially isolated neighborhoods had required the transportation of students, often black students over long distances to white schools. He argued: “The busing issue has served to make concrete what many parents long have sensed and what new research has suggested: court orders mandating racial balance may be (depending on the circumstances) educationally advantageous, irrelevant, or even disadvantageous. Nevertheless, civil rights lawyers continue to argue that black children are entitled to integrated schools without regard to the educational effect of such assignments.” Derrick Bell, ‘‘Serving Two Masters: Integration Ideals and Client Interests in School Desegregation Litigation,’’ Yale Law Journal 85 (1976), p. 480. 

I wanted to write something but I was too lazy to do the work of trying to separate Arendt's sympathetic observations from her racism. Now I've found someone who makes the effort, from last year. 

Ainsley LeSure, "The White Mob, (In) Equality Before the Law, and Racial Common Sense: A Critical Race Reading of the Negro Question in "Reflections on Little Rock'"

“Reflections” reveals Arendt’s concern that the second life of equality would become further entrenched, so that the United States would find white mobs challenging the principle of equality altogether, threatening the solvency of the republic in the process. On this reading, Arendt’s analysis of America’s race problem resonates with the racial realist and pessimistic accounts of the tragic continuities of old and new forms of racial domination after moments of supposed racial progress, offered by scholars like Derrick Bell and Saidiya Hartman. Though these scholars conclude that such tragic continuity reflects the inherent racism built into equality as an essential liberal, democratic principle, Arendt’s analysis of the double life of equality offers an alternative explanation—it is not the aspiration toward equality that is the problem but rather the inadequacy of the political institutions tasked with realizing equality. Political institutions cannot just be static entities that simply grant and protect rights. This model is too susceptible to racial common sense.

Yet, Arendt’s work on racism is caught in a political paradox; despite her depiction of liberal political institutions as on the verge of catastrophic failure in the face of racial common sense, she still suggests that the maintenance of these liberal political institutions is the only way to check its rule. In THC, however, Arendt breaks out of this paradox when she implicates the liberal political order in the maintenance of the pernicious modern conditions that bring about the rise of the social and proposes a more expansive model of politics that promises to attune citizens to the complexity of phenomena unfolding in a shared space devoted to witnessing and deliberating about collective matters. Especially important for configuring these political spaces to enact equality anew are the ideas about new forms of government that the new admits to the citizenry bring with them. Practicing politics in this localized, deliberative way opens up the possibility that a collective good, a stable worldly reality, will be produced, disrupting the rule-like fashion in which predetermined racial common sense relates and determines reality in a racist polity.

I haven't read all of LeSure's paper yet—there's a lot more on Bell— but I'm not here to quibble; the relation itself is the point.  And my definition of Liberal is different that anyone above; and it sure as fuck doesn't come from Locke.

repeat and updated. Joseph Raz was Joseph Zaltsman. He changed his name a year before Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali 

David Ben-Gurion was David Grün; Golda Meir was Golda Mabowitz; Ariel Sharon was the son of Shmuel Scheinerman; Amiri Baraka was LeRoi Jones; Uri Avnery was Helmut Ostermann; Louis Farrakhan was Louis Eugene Wolcott; Malcolm X was Malcolm Little; Netanyahu was Mileikowsky; Muhammad Ali was Cassius Clay; Martin David (Meir) Kahane passed, as "Michael King"; Mark Regev was Mark Freiberg.  

And updated here too, since it slipped my mind. 

We are living in a time of exploding nationalisms. The blacks in America are the first to abjure the idea of assimilation, to realize the inherent lie in the concept of melting pot. Through black nationalism has developed a new black pride and hence the ticket to liberation

Today’s young American Jew is a good bit slower. He desperately wants assimilation: Jewishness embarrasses him. He finds the idea of Jewish nationalism, Israel not­ withstanding, laughable. The leftist Jewish student is today’s Uncle Tom. 

Saturday, May 07, 2022

Spent the day stuck watching CNN and now stuck watching American Sniper.  It's tiring.

Ukrainska Pravda English:  Possibility of talks between Zelenskyy and Putin came to a halt after Johnson’s visit - UP sources 

Following the arrival of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Kyiv, a possible meeting between Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin has become less likely.

Source: Ukrainska Pravda article "From Zelenskyy's "Surrender" to Putin's Surrender. How Negotiations with Russia Are Going". 

Quote from the article: "The Russian side…was actually ready for the Zelenskyy-Putin meeting.

But two things happened, after which a member of the Ukrainian delegation, Mykhailo Podoliak, had to openly admit that it was "not the time" for the meeting of the presidents. 

The first thing was the revelation of the atrocities, rapes, murders, massacres, looting, indiscriminate bombings and hundreds and thousands of other war crimes committed by Russian troops in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories…

The second "obstacle" to agreements with the Russians arrived in Kyiv on 9 April." 

Details: According Ukrainska Pravda sources close to Zelenskyy, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, who appeared in the capital almost without warning, brought two simple messages.

The first is that Putin is a war criminal, he should be pressured, not negotiated with.

And the second is that even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they are not.

Johnson’s position was that the collective West, which back in February had suggested Zelenskyy should surrender and flee, now felt that Putin was not really as powerful as they had previously imagined, and that here was a chance to "press him."

The Guardian May 2019, Raqqa is in ruins like a modern Dresden. This is not 'precision bombing'

From Kosovo to Iraq and Syria, the US and its military allies have for years told a tale of “precision bombing” and “surgical strikes”. It was a lie then and it’s a lie now. When huge numbers of bombs and missiles are unleashed on densely populated cities like Mosul or Raqqa, civilians are killed in their hundreds – possibly thousands. But still, the myth of precision and “meticulous processes” persists. Not least because militaries like our own refuse to even go back to the cities they’ve bombed, and refuse to acknowledge deaths unless presented with irrefutable evidence from the likes of Amnesty.

Last week I did what UK, US and French military officials refuse to do: I went to Raqqa to see for myself what has happened to this city as a result of mass bombardments by the US-led coalition between June and October 2017.

Never before have I seen a city so completely devastated. Not just in one district area, but almost entirely. Think Dresden and you’d be close. Street after street of windowless, hollowed-out buildings. Miles of rubble. Piles of twisted metal. Utter ruin. There has been no assistance for residents desperate to rebuild, and entire families are reduced to living in bombed-out husks of buildings. Meanwhile, many children spend all day scavenging in the rubble for bits of steel and plastic they can sell so as to buy food. They risk injury and death from unsafe buildings and uncleared landmines. 

Thursday, May 05, 2022

He believed that democratic politics tended to fail because official liberty of thought—free speech and so forth—did not produce real freedom, as naïve liberals hoped, but a new form of conformism and clannishness. Tocqueville judged that Americans, who were theoretically free to speak as they wished, showed less independence of mind and freedom of discussion than the people of any other country he knew of: The quiet self-certainty of fellow citizens stifled dissent with a reach and power that a censor’s office could only envy. In a democracy, he judged, “tyranny … leaves the body alone and goes straight for the soul.” A dissenter feared that he would be shunned as “an impure being” and abandoned even by his friends. Democracies drifted or lurched into effusions of radical energy or the doldrums of modest, anxious ambition and anxious, middling views.

In times without great principles or goals, people might turn inward, looking after their own material interests, and enter a kind of solitary confinement: “a multitude of men, alike and equal, constantly circling around in pursuit of the petty and banal pleasures with which they glut their souls. Each one of them, withdrawn into himself, is almost unaware of the fate of the rest. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, they are near enough, but he does not notice them. He touches them but feels nothing.” In this condition, democrats would happily accept “a network of petty, complicated rules” administered by “schoolmasters.” Tocqueville called this enervated condition democratic despotism, the soft, passive twin of majority tyranny. Democracy might come with an executioner’s blade or with soothing tones, and either way it could obliterate people like Alexis de Tocqueville.

The subhead: "American government succeeded, Tocqueville thought, because it didn’t empower the people too much." Burying the lede. Purdy didn't write the title, but he's more conflicted than he wants to admit. 

Kant, de MaistreLibertaet, and academia; 

Tocqueville, Lawrence (Hawthorne and Spielberg) and Weber, and academia again.

La Ronde

someday it will have to be told how ‘anti–Stalinism,’ which started out more or less as ‘Trotskyism,’ turned into art for art’s sake, and...

Somewhere years ago I made an offhand comment about the fact that Jacobin, The Brooklyn Institute and years earlier The Brooklyn Rail, were all founded by members of the Asian immigrant bourgeois with a nostalgia for the lost world of the "NY Intellectuals." I remember running into Phong in the subway in the 80s, and he was excited to show me a book he'd just been given by "my friend Meyer" Schapiro.  I wasn't sure whether to believe him. When he started publishing the Brooklyn Rail it amused me how conservative it was. The Brooklyn art scene—unlike the earlier community of people who moved out of necessity—was always based on an outsiders' nostalgia. And "Brooklyn intellectualism" is now the model, but instead of working class kids from Brooklyn and the Bronx moving to Manhattan, the children of the American suburbs moved into working class neighborhoods to recreate the Manhattan of their midwestern fantasies. They didn't come to escape provincialism but to indulge it. This applies as much to the frat boys and ex-cheerleaders as the intellectuals.

But in the 90s pre-war utopianism was the stuff of October, not Phong's Brooklyn Rail.  The nostalgia has changed from post-war existentialism and ex-Trot abstraction, to pre-war apocalyptic romance. The book's published by MIT with an foreword by Geuss. It couldn't get more perfect.

It doesn't take more than an amateur sociologist to notice that utopianism flourishes in periods of crisis and functions more than anything else as avoidance. But you can't reason with the faithful.