k-punk's political incarnation wrote one of the few decidedly Marxist books that has acquired bestselling status and is widely known - even to the degree that "capitalist realism" now most often means what Mark says it means in this book. And a good book it is, admirably short and precise. It attacks our neoliberal shithole head on - but also, and as importantly, has issues with the whole post-something and identity politics and what not. Call me an Alt-Marxist if you want: I shall not complain.
A nice read with a twist: a police officer that is a dropout from an Oxbridge institution, drinks a wee bit too much, drives an old and eccentric car, and has troubles with the old love life: not Morse, but a woman. And a story that also twists and turns and does manage a plausible but still surprising hard left at the very end.
Part of a trilogy of Yorkshire Noir, and dark they are indeed. Not a nice place in any way, Yorkshire, in the year 1974. We are left to somewhat root for a young investigating journo, but even he is an absolute dick in many ways. The rest of the cast are hardly much better. But books such as these show that a political thriller does not have to heavy handed nor does it need to wear rosy, tinted glasses.
The South, it is hot and humid and 2 girls - years apart - disappear. The trick is that the book is almost entirely told backwards which gives the whole unreliable narrator thing (and that is also present) an interesting spin. Nice read, but once you get beyond the awesomeness of the narratological trick, exactly how interesting are the left overs?
So, another book about a missing girl. Except not like any other, quite. As we follow the ebb and flow of life in a valley in the North of England through 13 years, a lot happens and a lot does not. Any moment we expect something to happen, Rebecca to be found, but instead we see and hear and smell life in the village as seasons come and go, years come and go, people grow up, fall in love and fall out of love, get sick, die, start over, and the badgers and the foxes do their thing in the woods, year after year. The memory of the girl is always there, in the back, but not more prominent than the fact that somebody burned burn a shed, the school got a new heating system, the snow fell in the next valley, and the village lost the annual cricket match, yet again. The prose is glorious throughout, but you need to pay attention, slow down, and let the life in the village flow past you.
Sunday morning at the old Reeperbahn.
A reading list
As always procrastinating. Someday I will write something my own self; meanwhile:
To call a tendency deviant — as we might be tempted to do with the alt-right — is already to discount the responsibility of the orthodoxy in breeding the deviancy. Could it be that “new cultural items” are introduced into the cultic milieu through the agency of the orthodoxy to the extent that the cultic milieu becomes a useless concept? How, in fact, do we separate the dominant and the variant? When the president of the United States is in large part sympathetic to the so-called cultic deviancy, and when he is in fact backed by nearly half the population, then the framework really falls apart.
Capitalism as it currently exists has come into question; huge numbers of voters support nationalization of utilities and widespread price and rent controls. This poses the question: how can you defend actually-existing capitalism?
In the last year, it’s occurred to me, on more than one occasion, that Trump is a Coasian grotesque. Making deals and giving orders: that’s all he knows how to do. Except that he doesn’t. As we’re seeing, he’s really bad at both.
The theory has its origin in John C. Calhoun, a proponent of slavery, and James M. Buchanan, an opponent of the civil rights movement. Both used the language of oppression and freedom to defend elitism, characterizing any kind of redistributive movement as a form of oppressive control exercised by the majority (poor people, which, in America, overwhelmingly means racialized people) against a downtrodden, endangered minority (the one percent, again, overwhelmingly white people).
We live in a society that makes a fetish out of work. One's trajectory through the education system is (supposedly) guided by getting a decent job at the end of it. People's engagement with social security is supposed to be a temporary thing with the object of throwing them back into the workplace at the earliest opportunity. And if people aren't working, they're feckless and bone idle and made to feel that way - never mind how unemployment always exceeds the number of vacancies.
If the South depends on having black people to kick around, Midwestern whites often see people of color as ever new and out of place, decades after the Great Migration. The thinking goes like this: America is an experiment, carried out in its purest form here in the Midwest; people of color threaten the cohesion on which the whole experiment may depend. Thus, while Southern history yields story after story of the most savage, intimate racist violence—of men castrated and barbecued before smiling crowds, dressed as for a picnic—Midwestern history is a study in racial quarantine.
A new study, led by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, gives the impression that a large-scale shift to organic farming would largely bring environmental benefits. And indeed, that’s how the paper has been covered. But if we look under the hood, the findings are dependent on several pretty questionable assumptions about diets and production systems that, together, make the paper’s conclusions hard to take too seriously.
Post-modernists may be said to have developed a paradigm that clashes sharply with the one in this book. I have argued that modern life and art and thought have the capacity for perpetual self-critique and self-renewal. Post-modernists maintain that the horizon of modernity is closed, its energies exhausted—in effect, that modernity is passé. Post-modernist social thought pours scorn on all the collective hopes for moral and social progress, for personal freedom and public happiness, that were bequeathed to us by the modernists of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. These hopes, post moderns say, have been shown to be bankrupt, at best vain and futile fantasies
Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air:The Experience Of Modernity
Some books read
10 years in the works, apparently, and a whole lot of meticulous research. An amazing debut that immediately brings Pynchon to mind. Except it it nothing like Pynchon after all, except for some of the pyrotechnics involved. Basically, and what you realize at the very end, a family saga and a saga of remembrance and redemption and forgiveness. It is stretched out across troubled times - Chicago 1968, the Trump era, and points in-between.- There are a lot of poignant stabs at cultural and political phenomena, but in the final conclusion this hardly matters: for this is an unusual story that breaks out of the postmodern mold is seemed to be in. See, this is it: for most of the characters the end is a happy or at least hopeful one. The world might be going down the drains, but they are capable of saving and savoring some resemblances of happiness. Oh, and by the way: highly recommended.
I don't think this novel is available in English. I read a Danish translation. It is a very likable World War I caper about three young men stumbling into an adventure that includes smuggles, ballet dancers, revolutionaries, and so on so forth. It is enjoyable, but lacks the final oomph – in the end we readers, just like the main protagonist and narrator, look back at something that could have been really wild and crazy as something decidedly muted and distant that one can look back upon with some nostalgia.
John Le Carré: A legacy of spies The final (or maybe not?) tome in the saga of one George Smiley and his entourage. We revisit the era of the spy that came in from the cold, see things from a different angle and through different eyes. As always, a book with a lot of human insight and accumulated wisdom. As Le Carré has gotten older, there is less cloaks-and-daggers and more human condition.
Peter May: The Lewis trilogy The three books, set in remote Lewis of the Outer Hebrides are nominally crime stories, but as we know, the better crime stories are actually much more than that. And so it is with these. Over the three volumes, recurring themes of loss and grief, identity and identity loss, and family and love and friendship appear and are exercised and bent and reshaped. The main, recurring characters are strongly drawn and shown with their warts and all. A great, accidental find.
Basically a police procedural with an investigating judge, his muscle, his secretary, a beautiful damsel in distress, a nefarious conspiracy, and much more. But it unfolds in 16th century Aragon, the damsel happens to be a feminine sodomite, the secretary probably a Muslim, and the inquisition lurks in the background. If you stripped of the colorful garments, it might just another run-on-old-mill such story, but the meticulous research and great knowledge from the author makes it worthwhile. I picked up quite a bit I did not know about Spain and Aragon and so on at this time.
A mixed bag of interesting destinations
COURAGE yet, my brother or my sister!
Keep on—Liberty is to be subserv'd whatever occurs;
That is nothing that is quell'd by one or two failures, or any num-
ber of failures,
Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people, or by any
unfaithfulness, Or the show of the tushes of power, soldiers, cannon, penal statutes.
What we believe in waits latent forever through all the continents,
Invites no one, promises nothing, sits in calmness and light, is
positive and composed, knows no discouragement,
Waiting patiently, waiting its time.
TO A FOIL'D EUROPEAN REVOLUTIONAIRE. -- Walt Whitman
My summer reading, so far
I had rather high expectations for this book: well-known and highly regarded author, possibly with a refreshing, feminist views, and so on. But I found it somewhat disappointing. It is not clear no me what the focus of the book is: it is at some level a general story of Rome; then it is a story about the decline of the republic - but neither story seems to come to an end or be very complete. Also, why does she not discuss the clientela theory at all? It may out of fashion, but it is central to the discussion about the decline of the republic.
A bit of a strange book. Well-written and knowledgeable about all things French food. It is, however, also clearly a collection of not-too-connected pieces that originated somewhere else. Sure, he loves France well-enough - but is there some sort of political undertone, very anti-statist and quasi-libertarian? But, nevermind. What is interesting is that his doomsday vision now seems to be something from a very specific period in time. Yes, there are young French chefs that do molecular (even if that is a bit dated by now). The locavore movement exists there. So does lots and lots of influence from the Far East as well as from the Middle. The bistronomy movement revives and reinvigorates the traditions, and does it at fairer prices. Even though the Frenchies love them some Mickey D's, there are also genuine American BBQ joints. Right there, in gay Paree. What is going away is probably the stuffed-up and dusty old palaces of gastronomy where you had to mortgage your sould to partake of food that was reasonably unspired and uninspiring. But if you so desire, look no further than Le Cing. You can still get it. As for the book: an easy enough read, but as time moves forward, less and less relevant.
Irish noir, I suppose. In the rainy season that they call summer here in Denmark, I had plenty of time to go through all of McKinty's Sean Duffy novels, as well as the first four of Connolly's Charlie Parker series. They are surprisingly different. McKinty benefits mightily from setting his stories in freont of the rich tapestry and the Troubles around 1981, and placing his Papist protagonist in the RUC and all-proddy Carrickfergus. But Duffy is, in the end, a younger, less jaded Rebus, and there may redemption for him at the end, and marital bliss. Connolly sets his stories in a dark America that still reeks of the Old Religion and is really weird. As the series move forward, it is less of a crime or detective series, and gets into being a moral fable about compassion, revenge, redemption, et cetera. It ever there were a flawed hero, Charlie is it (as well as his merry entourage of Louis and Angel). But lots of suspense and technically well-crafted, albeit the themes get a little monotonous with time.
Just something I found on the internets and I thought you would perhaps like it too, but who knows?
- Matgamna vs Minogue: “Is Socialism Dead?”
- The lack of demand for equality
- Michael Lewis and the parable of the lucky man taking the extra cookie
- The evolution of punk rock in 200 tracks (1965 to 2016)
- Hear 2,000 Recordings of the Most Essential Jazz Songs: A Huge Playlist for Your Jazz Education
- The French Far Right and Génération Identitaire.
- On salient identities
- Neoliberalism Was Supposed to Make Us Richer: Three Reasons Why It Didn’t
- Benjamin Kunkel reviews ‘The Birth of the Anthropocene’ by Jeremy Davies, ‘Capitalism in the Web of Life’ by Jason Moore and ‘Fossil Capital’ by Andreas Malm
- In Search of a Better World: Karl Popper on Truth vs. Certainty and the Dangers of Relativism
- Inequality as feudalism
- The Frankfurt School In Our Time
Quite eclectic, I know, but enjoyable all of it nonetheless.
“The Time of Day in Giorgione”
The sun is always setting in my heart
Like the time of day in Giorgione
The days drift beyond reach and… poof they are gone