I'm particularly proud of my debut in Mere Orthodoxy. My experiences reading the Unabomber Manifesto as a sixth grader are something I've wanted to write about for quite some time. Mentioned in essay: Ghosts, Kafka's letters, Byung-Chul Han, September 19th, 1995, Missouri, "Industrial Society and It's Future", CIA, MKUltra, ARPANET, LSD, fruit of the poisoned tree, alazon and eiron, bare life, Chesterton, Mao II, Ezra Pound watching the birth of a wasp.
"13. I’ve intentionally tried not to quote Kaczynski directly. What I’m writing isn’t so much about him but the wake he anticipated and the larger turbulence of which he was a part. But it’s worth quoting the single most insightful sentence in his manifesto: “We can do anything we want as long as it is UNIMPORTANT.” This attitude forms the gordian knot of our contemporary world. Belief in it accounts for the pathetic stoicism of our irony. And the longing for subversive truths which explain away the rich complexity of the world. It’s a cri de ceour, as petulant as it is pained. Crimped and claustrophobic. But it’s also vain. It ignores completely the ghosts still tarrying beside me as I write this, presiding over the ceremony of writing and insisting on a grand but living decorum."
Titus & Tyler Malone talk Kubrick--the erotic thriller, the possibility that love leads to horror, the strange education eros offers in its attack on morality & the stranger politics of elite corruption.
"It is curious that Blake uses Druidic religion as the allegory for the revolutionary impulses ravaging the continental mainland. Druidism is a cult of Ancient Britain, native to the land which Albion represents. The implication would seem to be that, for all the grand claims about imminent human redemption and utopia, these revolutionary forces unleash some primitive urge for bloodshed. Burke’s “general bank and capital” of the ages is lost. That which considers itself progressive and utopian results in realities which are regressive and dystopian. The unquestionable promise of a bright and universal future has triggered the re-emergence of once buried impulses, things previously restrained by the accumulated wisdom of tradition. For if the horizon of human capability broadens too far, people lose sight of the very place on which they stand. The effect is a giddying loss of orientation; the richness of concrete contexts give way to the insipid, empty space of abstract truth. The vitality of concrete life is thinned down, and tradition is eviscerated. As in Blake’s image, the culture’s guts are torn out. Of course, Blake himself was deeply sympathetic to certain aspects of the new, radical thinking of these times. Indeed, much of his work is inseparable from it. But, like Wordsworth and Coleridge, he affords an example of one who also drew out the limits and consequences of that radicalism from his being personally invested in it, and reorientated its initial hopes on bases which today can be considered broadly conservative."
"Few nineteenth-century Parisians saw the city like Félix Nadar. In 1863, he ascended in a huge airship called Le Géant, from which he captured aerial views of a rapidly changing metropolis. Under the urban renewal program led by Georges-Eugène Haussmann, old buildings were being demolished and replaced with broad boulevards, bringing uniformity and order to the narrow, winding medieval streets. But not all the changes that Paris was undergoing were visible from above. Public health had become an issue in the increasingly crowded capital, and a novel underground infrastructure was modernizing its management of waste. Around the same time Nadar ascended into the air, he descended into the pitch-dark tunnels of the city’s sewers and catacombs, where he pioneered the use of artificial light to reveal a new, previously unseen world."
The results revealed two remarkable patterns, which Kay and Berlin laid out in their 1969 monograph, Basic Color Terms. First, almost all of the languages they examined appeared to have color words that drew from the same 11 basic categories: white, black, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, purple, pink, orange, and gray. Second, cultures seemed to build up their color vocabularies in a predictable way. Languages with only two color categories chunked the spectrum into blacks and whites. Languages with three categories also had a word for red. Green or yellow came next. Then blue. Then brown. And so on.
Kay and Berlin took these commonalities as evidence that our conception of colors is rooted, not in language, but in our shared human biology.
"Torcello reveals Venice in its true provisional strangeness, where art gives vision to immanence and relics buoy the faithful to the final days. The great works of Venice have always conveyed these contingent qualities—as a world between worlds. Rather than gaze up to some idealized beyond, the art of Venice looks out to proximate, felt, rough-and-tumble revelation."
"Another lost intuition from before the time of the progressive hegemony is the principle that people do not respect those who fail to respect themselves. An individual who hates himself is in the end not trustworthy, because his interpretation of the golden rule is likely to be counter-intuitive. Yet, for the middle-class as it enters its terminal phase, self-respect is precisely what must be sacrificed if one is to be able to demonstrate, both to oneself and to others, that one holds the correct values. For such sacrifice to be binding and meaningful, something precious and vital must be given up. In the recent past, it would have been easy to condemn Calvin’s self-recrimination as a false gesture, that no man or woman will truly give up the advantages he or she enjoys. But today, the signaling has become profitable, in a symbolic sense. "
I ask Frank if he is optimistic about the future of the book. “Right now, we’re at a moment when, for political reasons, there is a tendency to see art entirely in terms of its representativeness,” he says. “I could imagine that slowly unmaking a certain understanding of art. If you see all speech as an action, then speech could become really limited.” He goes on to say that “books exist in a larger cosmos of information, which seems to be expanding at a terrifying speed that could make art as it emerged between the 18th and 20th centuries seem like a relic.”
Glancing around Frank’s office, its shelves containing many first editions of future NYRB Classics, I point out that the bound book, like the bicycle, has proved to be a surprisingly hardy technology. “It’s sort of vaguely reassuring,” he says, “to think that at the end of civilization, amongst all the plastic bags, there’ll probably still be some books too.”
The 36th birthday of my favorite performance of my favorite Dead song...which is saying something.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor