COMMONPLACE BOOK, Extracts and Ideas of Interest, First Week of April

David Ng, Village Voice:
“National pastime, cathartic rite, and hereditary calling all rolled into one, the French labor protest occupies a holy space on the country's social genome, much like baseball or playing the stock market does in the U.S.”

[NYT on the actress appearing as “Barbie Live on Stage”]:
“Meeting a few fans after a final curtsy, Ms. Coors [brunette, under a blonde wig] signs her name as "Barbie," aping Mattel's signature looping script, on T-shirts and fairy wings. For television interviews, visits to children's hospitals and bookstore readalongs, she can trade Elina's tutu, festooned with 15,000 hand-sewn sequins, for a pink evening gown or business suit from the Barbie couture collection. ... It's all very meta, especially because, as more than a few young fans noted, Ms. Coors's Elina is a ringer for "Legally Blonde 2" Barbie, Mattel's homage to the second Reese Witherspoon comedy about Elle Woods, the squeaky-voiced shopaholic who is a lot smarter than she looks. Which is to say that an actress playing a doll as an actress playing a role looks like a doll made to look like another actress playing another role.”
[*** Ormondroyd notes: a similar thing happened in medieval Japan, when bunraku (feel free to correct me on details) puppets became so popular that geisha and dancers began to ape their movements. Male actors of kabuki, impersonating female characters, began to imitate the mannered step of real women imitating puppets imitating women. You could look it up.]

From “Nihilist Job Resume” by Eric Feezell:
* Objective
I have no objective. What's the point when cold death is the final destination for us all? Can you explain that to me? I know I'm supposed to put something here, though, so here goes: Your objective is to hire me into a challenging position in a computer-applications-based field within which you feel I can "make a difference" and "contribute" in a team environment. Imbecile.

Marc Acito, NY Times:
“.... in Fulton, Mo., where three members of a local church objected to the high school's fall production of the musical "Grease," even though one of them hadn't even seen it. In a response that would have made Joe McCarthy proud, Mark Enderle, the school superintendent, then proceeded to overturn the choice of "The Crucible," Arthur Miller's indictment of McCarthyism, as the spring play.
Instead, the students in Fulton just finished performing "A Midsummer Night's Dream," that wholesome frolic about youthful rebellion, pagan magic and bestiality. As Dr. Enderle told Wendy DeVore, the drama teacher, her actors "shouldn't do anything on stage that would get a kid in trouble if he did it in a classroom."

Paddy Murphy comes limping into a pub with his arm in a sling, his nose broke, his face cut and bruised.
"What happened to you?" asks Sean, the bartender.
"Jamie O'Conner and me had a fight," says Paddy.
"O'Conner?" says Sean, "He couldn't do that to you, he must have had something in his hand."
A shovel is what he had,” says Paddy, “and a terrible time he gave me with it."
"Well," says Sean, "you should have defended yourself, didn't you have something in your hand?"
"That I did," said Paddy. "Mrs. O'Conner's breast, and a thing of beauty it is, but useless in a fight." (anon.)

“Perhaps he (Voltaire) hated too much, but we must remember the provocation; we must imagine ourselves back in an age when men were burned at the stake, or broken on the wheel, for deviating from orthodoxy. We can appreciate Christianity better today because he fought with some success to moderate its dogmas and violence.”
-- Will and Ariel Durant

“It is not easy to explain to a foreigner, maybe to anybody, that what you had thought was a small, primitive concept of dignity, the early voice that says nobody can buy me, became in our time so corrupted by anti-Communism that bribes were not thought of as bribes, particularly if they came in the form of trips to foreign lands, or grants for research, and were offered by Ivy League gentlemen to a generation of intellectuals who were jealous of the easy postwar money earned by everybody around them. Intellectuals can tell themselves anything, sell themselves any bill of goods, which is why they were such easy patsies for the ruling classes in nineteenth century France and England, or twentieth century Russia and America.”
-- Lillian Hellman in “An Unfinished Woman”

Molly Ivins:
“I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Russell Jacoby:
"Higher education in America is a vast enterprise boasting roughly a million professors. A certain portion of these teachers are incompetents and frauds; some are rabid patriots and fundamentalists - and some are ham-fisted leftists. All should be upbraided if they violate scholarly or teaching norms. At the same time, a certain portion of the 15 million students they teach are fanatics and crusaders."

Peter Shaffer, interview:
"I find in Mozart that ecstasy I don't find in codified faith. I also find in reading - and even sometimes seeing - Shakespeare that same pleasure in perfection I discover in Mozart. When I read the last act of Antony and Cleopatra and that speech beginning 'The crown of the earth doth melt' I feel I'm encountering one of the great achievements of mankind. It's a beacon somehow, a reminder that there is a perfection of art - whereas I don't think there is a perfection of religion. I wish I could say I found this in the theatre. Not so long ago I saw Troilus and Cressida, and when we got to: 'The time scants us with a single famished kiss, Distasted with the salt of broken tears', there was no sense of the actor being aware of the lines he was privileged to say."

Alexis Petridis:
"This being a Morrissey album, however, happiness can't last."

Terry Eagleton in New Statesman:
“There are, to be sure, many clever people still around; but not all clever people are intellectuals, and not all intellectuals are particularly clever. Academics, broadly speaking, count as intellectuals, given that they trade in ideas; but so-called public intellectuals, those who seek to be opinion-formers and cultural commentators, are a rarer, perpetually endangered breed.
“.... For F R Leavis, only the disinterested gaze of the literary critic could withstand the waves of commercial vulgarity and political partisanship churned up by the 20th century. Yet this Canute-like project had happened several times before. Matthew Arnold had argued much the same in Victorian England, while Samuel Johnson mourned the collapse of a universal knowledge almost a century earlier. Despite Johnson's complaint that no one mind could now encompass an increasingly fragmented, specialised culture, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Stuart Mill made a brave stab at doing just that. Once again, public intellectuals stubbornly overlooked the supposed fact that they had withered away, defeated by the decline of the public sphere, the rapid division of conceptual labour and - in our own day - the rise of a formidable new power of opinion-forming known as the media.
“.... The role of the intellectual, so it is said, is to speak truth to power. Noam Chomsky has dismissed this pious tag on two grounds. For one thing, power knows the truth already; it is just busy trying to conceal it.”

Perry Anderson
".... the central case against capitalism today is the combination of ecological crisis and social polarization. It is the greed." –

[Some hard numbers backing that up from New York Times' analysis of IRS data]:
"Among taxpayers with incomes greater than $10 million, the amount by which their investment tax bill was reduced averaged about $500,000 in 2003, and total tax savings, which included the two Bush tax cuts on compensation, nearly doubled to slightly more than $1 million.
"These taxpayers, whose average income was $26 million, paid about the same share of their income in income taxes as those making $200,000 to $500,000 because of the lowered rates on investment income.
"Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more, about one-tenth of 1 percent of all taxpayers, reaped 43 percent of all the savings on investment taxes in 2003. The savings for these taxpayers averaged about $41,400 each. By comparison, these same Americans received less than 10 percent of the savings from the other Bush tax cuts, which applied primarily to wages, though that share is expected to grow in coming years."

Dave’s Long Box:
“Nobody talks a line of shit like Thor. He rarely fails to tell an opponent how powerful he is, or what a big mistake said opponent has made crossing his path, or how bad of a beat-down he’s about to deliver, or brag about the various features of his enchanted mallet Mjolnir. ... For some reason, the fact that he’s one of the most powerful beings ever to walk the Earth yet still talks shit does not make Thor a dick. He just gets away with it, pure and simple. Nobody wants to hear Superman brag about how cool he is – he would just come across as a bully – but for Thor, it works.
“Why? Thor really uses cultural relativism to his advantage. Yes, he might go on and on about how great he is, but give him a break, he’s a Viking – that’s the way of his people. Don’t judge, man. What do you have against Vikings anyway? Way to be insensitive to other cultures, dick.”

See Also: Why am I being played by a 16-year-old lipgloss model?,
"He was like a murderer annoyed at being called a shoplifter",
"I've had far more sex than I've had fights on water towers against guys with super powers",

No comments: