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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Presque vu LXVIII

From Jacob Russell’s Barking Dog, on Sarah Palin:

Those warnings not to underestimate her were right. This is one sick scary power hungry person… a Pretty White Lady version of Idi Amin…. gave me chills…


At the Kenyon Review, Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky, discusses innocence and obscenity, with particular reference to Thomas Glave’s story The Torturer’s Wife, which appears in the fall issue of KR.

It’s a story about realizing you’re in bed with a torturer, and seeing exactly – with no flinching from the details – what that means: “’With pliers,’ she thinks, screwing shut her eyes, clenching her fists, ‘and other tools. Hammers –‘“ That’s obviously a timely metaphor for us all at this moment in our history, but the problem is that metaphors are also real, relying on our awareness of that doubleness of meaning as we read the story. For a story to work, the author has to imagine fully what his character can barely conceive, the reality behind that word – torture – which we’ve come to use so easily in recent years. Glave’s story is about that effort to come to grips with an obscene reality, and to find a way of speaking such things that doesn’t obscure or diminish that obscenity.


The Guardian asked some high profile left wingers what they thought of the current world financial crisis: Hari Kunzru came up with this one:

A great financial economist and historian called Michael Hudson talks about how the US economy is basically fictitious, based on pretend earnings and pretend values. This will only genuinely become a crisis of capitalism if people generally become aware that much of the growth and prosperity produced by capitalism is a fiction, and if the consensus about where the real global value lies shifts radically. In other words, if people stop believing that apparently wealthy countries actually are producing wealth.

I don’t immediately expect to be living in some kind of Mad Max world. But this could be the death knell of the time when we were all singing the beauties of free-market capitalism.

One Response to “Presque vu LXVIII”

  1. Staysure says:

    Regarding Hari Kunzru’s comments about the fictitious US economy I completely agree. One needs only look at the stock market to see exactly how fictitious values work. In theory, capitalism works on supply and demand but in reality it works on popularity. Now, usually profitable and popularity go hand in hand in the economy but when things go very well the stocks become inflated and when things go bad stocks become undervalued.

    Occasionally some values are completely imaginary and no one sees the dangers that lie in this.

    jb says: Thanks Staysure. “no one sees the dangers,” seems a tad inflated to me.