May 18, 2006

You're coming out of your shell
You've got a beautiful view



great jokers, Anne Berning

* clusterfuck nation on progressivism. excerpt:

"Progressivism also may have been fatally tied to the accompanying reality of robust industrial economic growth, which itself was tied to abundant new energy resources, mainly oil. The belief that more of everything would become available raised the moral issue of allocating it fairly. Since we now face declining energy resources, and perhaps long-range economic contraction, we would appear to also now face the awful task of allocating less of everything -- which may be as impossible in practice as it sounds."
...
"The entire thrust of American life the past forty years has been toward the privatization of public goods. That is why suburbia will turn out to be such a fiasco -- because the public realm, and everything in it, was impoverished, turned into a universal automobile slum, while the private realm of the house and the car was exalted. The private goods of suburbia will now have to be liquidated and we will be left with little more than parking lots and freeways too expensive to use.

"A true Progressivism of the years ahead has to begin by concerning itself with a redefinition of what our public goods really are -- and in practical, not abstract terms. That's why I harp on the project of restoring the railroad system. Not only will it benefit all classes of Americans in terms of sheer getting around, but it would put tens of thousands of people to work at something with real value. It would also begin the process of healing public space ravaged by cars for almost a hundred years."
...
"The obvious problem, of course, is that the American public doesn't want to make other arrangements. It wants desperately to hold onto the old arrangements. The nation is stuck with its enormous investments in car-dependency, and what has remained of our economy lately is devoted to creating even more of it -- in the face of signals that we won't be able to run it no matter how much people like it.

"Progress isn't what it used to be, and it isn't what it seems. If Americans get what they deserve they may give up on both progress and justice."

* From an excellent 1993 interview of david foster wallace. excerpt:

"But when you talk about Nabokov and Coover, you're talking about real geniuses, the writers who weathered real shock and invented this stuff in contemporary fiction. But after the pioneers always come the crank turners, the little gray people who take the machines others have built and just turn the crank, and little pellets of metafiction come out the other end. The crank-turners capitalize for a while on sheer fashion, and they get their plaudits and grants and buy their IRAs and retire to the Hamptons well out of range of the eventual blast radius.

"There are some interesting parallels between postmodern crank-turners and what's happened since post-structural theory took off here in the U.S., why there's such a big backlash against post-structuralism going on now. It's the crank-turners fault. I think the crank-turners replaced the critic as the real angel of death as far as literary movements are concerned, now. You get some bona fide artists who come along and really divide by zero and weather some serious shit-storms of shock and ridicule in order to promulgate some really important ideas. Once they triumph, though, and their ideas become legitimate and accepted, the crank-turners and wannabes come running to the machine, and out pour the gray pellets and now the whole thing's become a hollow form, just another institution of fashion.

"Take a look at some of the critical-theory Ph.D. dissertations being written now. They're like de Man and Foucault in the mouth of a dull child. Academia and commercial culture have somehow become these gigantic mechanisms of commodification that drain the weight and color out of even the most radical new advances. It's a surreal inversion of the death-by-neglect that used to kill off prescient art. Now prescient art suffers death-by acceptance. We love things to death, now. Then we retire to the Hamptons."

* Nick Hastad, in The Independant, rightly calls the opening line to Silver Jews' Random Rules "definitive," but then mis-states the line as "In 1984, I was hospitalised for gross imperfection," when we all know Berman actually wrote/sings "In 1984, I was hospitalized for approaching perfection." way to go, nick.

* Reminder for dc readers: the foreign press will be playing the black cat on Thursday June 8, opening for the dc experimental-pop band the caribbean.

* Long, Long list of 80s videos that are available on You Tube.

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