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The genocide of the Rwandan Tutsis, Gourevitch claims, was “the product of order, authoritarianism, decades of modern political theorizing and indoctrination, and of one of the most meticulously administered states in history”. This clichéd image, which could not be applied even to the Third Reich, is as banal as it is misleading. Gourevitch’s characterization can be understood as a reaction against the earliest accounts of the genocide, which saw it quite simply as an outburst of uninhibited tribal violence. But Gourevitch’s thesis of complete order is no less lazy, and treats important facts as mere details. For example: the genocide occurred in parallel with a bloody civil war, which over the preceding three years had put a large part of the Rwandan population to flight; it was triggered by the murder of the Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, which unleashed panic in an already confused political situation; the genocide took place against the background of an ongoing power struggle between several elite groups, and the first to be killed by extremists following the murder of the President were not Tutsis but Hutu members of parliament, among them the Prime Minister. In short, the genocide was enacted in a climate of great fear and political bewilderment. –“Kigali’s Ambassador-at-large: How Philip Gourevitch wrote the victor’s history book,” Felix Holmgren, Eurozine
Time Magazine critic Lev Grossman lives in fear of your Danish.
Wonder how he feels about the celebratory and mainstream acceptance of fake breasts (it bothers Meghan McCain)?
Or about “alpine chauvinism”? Or banning the dictionary (no naughty words)?
Boredom is woven into the very fabric of the literary enterprise. We read, and write, in large part to avoid it. At the same time, few experiences carry more risk of active boredom than picking up a book. Boring people can, paradoxically, prove interesting. As they prattle on, you step back mentally and start to catalog the irritating timbre of the offending voice, the reliance on cliché, the almost comic repetitiousness— in short, you begin constructing a story. But a boring book, especially a boring novel, is just boring. A library is an enormous repository of information, entertainment, the best that has been thought and said. It is also probably the densest concentration of potential boredom on earth.–“Our Boredom, Ourselves,” Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times
In honor of internet-caused rickets, a short list of cyber-diseases chronicled in Harper’s Magazine (subs):
“Internet Delusions: A Case Series and Theoretical Integration”;
“I Was A Chinese Internet Addict”;
and “Neurosecurity: Security and Privacy for Neural Devices”
HUO: Could you tell me about the freeness principle?
RV: Freeness is the only absolute weapon capable of shattering the mighty self-destruction machine set in motion by consumer society, whose implosion is still releasing, like a deadly gas, bottom-line mentality, cupidity, financial gain, profit and predation. Museums and culture should be free, for sure, but so should public services, currently prey to the scamming multinationals and states. Free trains, buses, subways, free healthcare, free schools, free water, air, electricity, free power – all through alternative networks to be set up. As freeness spreads, new solidarity networks will eradicate the stranglehold of the commodity.
HUO: What are the current conditions for dialogue? Is there a way out of this system of isolation?
RV: Dialogue with power is neither possible nor desirable. Power has always acted unilaterally: by organizing chaos, by spreading fear, by forcing individuals and communities into selfish and blind withdrawal. As a matter of course, we will invent new solidarity networks and new intervention councils for the well-being of all of us and each of us, overriding the fiats of the state and its mafioso-political hierarchies. The voice of lived poetry will sweep away the last remaining echoes of a discourse in which words are in profit’s pay.–“Raoul Vaneigm: Dialogue with power is neither possible nor desirable,” interviewed by Hans Ulrich Obist, Adbusters
Women sure can bowl, plus lots of news I don’t care about: the anniversary of bubble wrap;
the lives of hamsters are nasty, brutish, and short;
Simon Cowell was late and Ellen DeGeneres “stewed”
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.”