Saturday, August 6, 2011

Whatever for Good or Ill Grows within You Needs You for a Time to Cease to Exist

Well, I seem to need to try not to gnaw and spazz, at least for this weekend - or rather, if I can't not gnaw and spazz, and I'm going to try and fail, I'm going to gnaw and spazz offline - so please read the others gnawing and spazzing today in links, and here, have two doses of Gaddis, you Mr Pivners:

Mr Pivner came out upon the street to see a crowd gathering at the far corner. He turned his coat collar up again and pulled his hat down. When he reached the crowd, he looked where they were looking, up: a man poised on the ledge eight stories above. Lights shone on him. Figures leaned from nearby windows. The crowd shifted, impatiently. - Don't he know it's raining, I wish he'd get it done, if he's going to do it, a man said to Mr Pivner. Mr Pivner only stared. As he did, the rhythm of the crowd's voice took shape. They chanted, -Jump... jump... jump... and the figure above drew back. - JUMP... JUMP... JUMP... they chanted. A priest appeared at the window nearest him. - JUMP... JUMP... JUMP... The figure drew back, further, toward the priest. A young man leaning from the door of a car with a Press card in the windshield said to his companion, - The son of a bitch isn't going to jump.

and tomorrow, Hey! did you know Washington DC has a professional soccer team?

It's true! and they have a home game tonight, and I'll blog about that tomorrow (UPDATE! as well as the arrival of cats eight and nine just now that I've been told I cannot name Eep and Urp - photos tomorrow), so no need to tune in, and, while I'll have a blast regardless of result, it would be wonderfully therapeutic to primal scream at beautiful goals and even better to scream for a home game win.

O! and this blog's theme song:

More Gaddis:

     Science assures us that, "If man were wiped out, it is extremely improbable that anything very similar would even again evolve." Threat and comfort: we need only turn the particle of the earth's crust read with such eager pride to make one of the other. Here in the foremost shambles of time Mr Pivner stood, heir to that colossus of self-justification, Reason, one of whose first accomplishments was to effectively sever itself from the absurd, irrational, contaminating chaos of the past. Obtruding over centuries of gestation appeared this triumphal abortion: Reason supplied means and eliminated ends.
     What followed was entirely reasonable: the means, so abruptly brought within reach, became ends in themselves. And to substitute the growth of one's bank account for the growth of one's self worked out very well. It had worked out almost until it reached Mr Pivner, for so long as the means had remained possible of endless expansion, those ends of other ages (which had never shown themselves very stable) were shelved as abstractions to justify the means, and the confidently rational notion that peace, harmony, virtue, and other tattered constituents of the Golden Rule would come along of themselves was taken, quite reasonably, for granted.

  • The problem with "left" neo-liberalism.
  • Origins of the crisis.
  • Saving a Demotic-Oligarhical Society, part two. 
  • Hoping for hope.
  • America is no longer a Western country.
  • Shock Doctrine and the debt.
  • Civilization and its contents.
  • Crock pot king.
  • Contracting.
  • On Krugman's obamapostasy never being ready.
  • There will never be defense cuts
  • On the responsibility to protect.
  • Related to the above, a history professor recommended to me a couple of weeks ago Mazower's Dark Continent: Mark Mazower doesn't see it this way. His splendid book makes a convincing case for a different version of 20th-century European history. We are quite wrong, he writes, ''to read the present back into the past, and assume -- for instance -- that democracy must be rooted deeply in Europe's soil simply because the cold war turned out the way it did.'' The world we now inhabit is ''just one possible outcome of our predecessors' struggles and uncertainties.'' It could all have turned out quite differently, and came close to doing so.''Dark Continent,'' Mazower's new history of contemporary Europe, develops this line of argument through close attention to a number of interwoven themes. The first is the fragility of democracy and the discrediting of the liberal vision in the decades following the mayhem of World War I. Europeans were not led astray by insane dictators, he insists; the 19th-century emphasis on legal rights and constitutional systems simply couldn't meet the challenges of the time. In the face of the inadequacies of the Versailles settlement, the serial failures of capitalism and the international insecurity of new and old states alike, the new movements of the anti-democratic right had the better of the argument through much of the continent: ''Europe found other, authoritarian, forms of political order no more foreign to its traditions, and no less efficient as organizers of society, industry and technology.'' Anyone read it? Thoughts?
  • What is Cultural Conservatism?
  • Author questionity.
  • Adventures in Tea-Party cognitive dissonance.
  • Motherfucking crackers.
  • Good links.
  • Ate last night at a decent but not great Ethiopian restaurant in downtown Silver Spring (fake, not as fake as downtown Rocketville, but fake), afterwards walked into a Borders for probably the last time and saw I could buy up to a hundred of these for five bucks each:


Frank Bidart

You know that it is there, lair
where the bear ceases
for a time even to exist.

Crawl in. You have at last killed
enough and eaten enough to be fat
enough to cease for a time to exist.

Crawl in. It takes talent to live at night, and scorning
others you had that talent, but now you sniff
the season when you must cease to exist.

Crawl in. Whatever for good or ill
grows within you needs
you for a time to cease to exist.

It is not raining inside
tonight. You know that it is there. Crawl in.


  1. Never read it (I'm surprised we don't carry it), but did read his Hitler's Empire, which was a fine piece of work, so I'd expect no less with that. Which doesn't exactly help you, heh.

    Re: aging REM. Not to dissect, but why not, do you mean the songs themselves, the production, or both? Some things really do sound like they could have been recorded in 3, 4, 5 different decades.

  2. Mazower's book looks silly. Dudes like that never pay enough attention to the transition to capitalism and what that entailed.

  3. This is the second professor who has suggested the Mazower; the first gave me a pb five or six years ago which I put on a shelf and promptly forgot about. Assuming I can find it, I'll read the intro.

    The big news is Fleabus is furious and pouting. The two new rescue kittens, who I've just been told again I cannot name Eep (the female) and Urp (the male), have made themselves right at home.

  4. I'm with Richard on Mazower. You should name the cats Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66. Thanks as ever for the link, and for the Lubomyr Melnyk!

  5. The boy is Archer, the girl Loaf. Yay!

    As always, I am awed before serendipity.