"Narrowcast began as a book about the New American Poetry (a catchall term for the clutch of mid-century avant-gardes represented in Donald Allen’s influential 1960 anthology of the same name) and its relation to audio technology. But “[i]n the course of gathering my materials,” writes Shaw, an English professor at New York University, “I became fascinated and disturbed by something for which I had not been looking: many of the New Left poets I was studying were themselves objects of state audio surveillance, often by the same reel-to-reel tape recorders whose liberatory potential they celebrated.” Shaw began to feel that what he really needed to describe was “a midcentury audio modernism, an ambitious culture of sonic research … pursued by the state and poets alike.” What does it mean for our understanding of literary history that what Shaw calls the “surveillance avant-garde” were spying on poets using the same technologies that poets themselves were using to renovate their poetics? And can these parallel innovations in literature and surveillance teach us anything about each other?"
"Still, there’s a noticeable lack of depth in What is Power? Near the beginning of the text, Han concurs with Nietzsche’s idea that the origins of language reside in our will to power. When man named the animals, he asserted some sort of domination over the Earth. Every utterance is a demand for order, a way of projecting sensibility onto the world. But the later Han, the one who references Proust so often, might have leavened the analysis with a bit of literary wisdom. Yes, sometimes language is an assertion of power, but just as often it’s a kind of self-deception, a way of rejecting or hiding from ourselves our very limited ability to control reality. Han is more open to this duality in his later works, and it’s fascinating to read him before he’s comfortable with the ambiguities of human frailty."
“Unless you are at home in the metaphor,” Robert Frost wrote, “you are not safe anywhere.” Frost gives an example of metaphor-blindness in his great poem “Home Burial.” A young couple has lost a child. The wife is in prolonged mourning. The husband thinks it’s time to move on. The wife is outraged that her husband, after burying their child near their house, and with dirt still on his shoes, could speak of “everyday concerns.” “I can repeat the very words you were saying,” she says:
“Three foggy mornings and one rainy day
Will rot the best birch fence a man can build.”
Think of it, talk like that at such a time!
What had how long it takes a birch to rot
To do with what was in the darkened parlor.
The answer she expects to her question (which Frost doesn’t grace with a question mark, since it’s not a real question) is: nothing. The husband can hardly say, in his own self-defense, “I was speaking metaphorically. By the birch fence, I meant our family.”
"The modern world in its ignorance of the past believed that it had discovered sex, had rescued it from the grip of 'Puritanism'; but what had really happened was that sex for the first time had come to be seen as an avenue of communication rather than simply as a means of mutual pleasure. By insisting that sex was in fact the highest form of love, the highest form of human discourse, the modern prophets of sex did not so much undermine the prudery against which they appeared to be in rebellion (itself a comparatively recent development) as invert it. In effect, they took the position that sex, far from being 'dirty', was more 'spiritual' than the spirit itself, having its ultimate sanction in the communion of souls which sex alone, it was now thought, could provide." - Christopher Lasch, The New Radicalism in America (1889 - 1963): The Intellectual as a Social Type
"While the obituary writers may have been right—something’s dying—they have been preoccupied with the wrong thing. By looking for signs of vitality in measures of jazz’s popularity, it becomes easier to ignore what the music, according to Marsalis’s definition, is: a refinement of empathic listening, a model for improvisation, and an embodiment of meaningful time perception. If this is right, then the supposition that jazz is dead carries meaning beyond itself. What if we are witnessing the death, or suffocation, of a society that values careful listening, serendipity and, like a jazz ensemble, the dedication to finding common ground?"
Consider the case of Mexico. From 2007 to 2014, 164,000 Mexicans died violently, more than the 103,000 civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during those years. In 2016 Mexico surpassed Iraq and Afghanistan to become, after Syria, the world’s second deadliest war zone, according to the Annual Armed Conflict Survey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
In 2016 there were more than 50,000 lives lost in Syria, 23,000 in Mexico, 17,000 in Afghanistan and 16,000 in Iraq. IISS director general John Chipman said ““Mexico is a conflict marked by the absence of artillery, tanks or combat aviation.” Deaths were caused by small arms. The largest number of fatalities occurred in Mexican states that have become “key battlegrounds for control between competing, increasingly fragmented cartels,” Chipman said, with violence flaring as gangs try to clear areas of rivals so they can monopolize drug trafficking routes."