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Judging precisely what kind of book on the Jews Céline produced would not seem to demand great deliberation: the “anti-Semitic stance” he mentioned in his “astonishing” letter to Cillie is hard to miss. There can be no disputing that Bagatelles traffics in the shabbiest libels (“The Jew, directly or through middlemen, controls the following Trusts making up 750 billion of the 1,000 billion French national fortune”), trots out the industries said to be under Semitic control (fifty-six in all, including railroads, sponges, coal mines, wheat, armaments, vacuum tubes, insurance, mineral water, movie studios, shoes, electricity…), postulates the familiar global conspiracy (“It’s the Jews in London, Washington, and Moscow that stand in the way of a Franco-German alliance”), and promotes the usual forgeries (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion “predict almost exactly all that the Jews have done in the world since then…and the Jews have been doing a lot in the world!”). And yet the slogan on Bagatelles‘s publicity wrapper (“For a good laugh in the trenches”) as well as the publisher’s blurb (“The most atrocious, the most savage, the most hateful, but the most unbelievable lampoon the world has ever seen”), sentences written by the publisher in collaboration with Céline, suggested to some that the book was intended—as another world war loomed—as a satire on such extremism. –“Uncovering Céline,” Wyatt Mason, The New York Review of Books
Defending the health care bill: Hendrik Hertzberg: “they are doing what’s possible”; Jonathan Chait: “a centrist compromise of the best variety”;
New York Times editorial: “Yes, It Was Torture, and Illegal” (also Obama’s problem);
John Yoo on Monica Lewinsky: “She was much closer to the president than I ever was.”
When I remarked on this to an acquaintance, she said but that’s how the youth are walking now, that in particular neighborhoods, each youth has his or her own very elaborate way of walking which could involve half the body just hanging there. Okay. But that still doesn’t explain how Lady Gaga looks while posing on the floor on one knee, her back arched intensely and her head thrown way back; this posture would normally be a supple stretching action, but she simultaneously has her shoulders hunched way up around her head in a stiff protecting gesture. She looks likes she’s in pain. She looks like she’s old. She does so many moves that are just back and forth, back and forth, her hands opening and closing around her face. For one moment her hips and that one often-slack arm, move in tandem with the hips, but not like a body, like a machine. –“Lady Gaga in Hell,” Mary Gaitskill, Ryeberg
At this point, one might be thinking: enter the young men, stage right. But our new batch of young or youngish male novelists are not dreaming up Portnoys or Rabbits. The current sexual style is more childlike; innocence is more fashionable than virility, the cuddle preferable to sex. Prototypical is a scene in Dave Eggers’s road trip novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity, where the hero leaves a disco with a woman and she undresses and climbs on top of him, and they just lie there: “Her weight was the ideal weight and I was warm and wanted her to be warm”; or the relationship in Benjamin Kunkel’s Indecision: “We were sleeping together brother-sister style and mostly refraining from outright sex.” –Katie Roiphe, “The Naked and the Confused,” the New York Times
Traffic problems in Marrakesh are solved by police-enforced kissing;
a look at Goldman’s offshore deals;
gravity well infographic features your mom, local football team;
Ron Silliman on poetry: “What’s apparent is that (a) this joyride isn’t over, and (b) we’re all in this together.”
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”