Friday, February 29, 2008

Go, Pierre, Go!

Sometimes, reading Bourdieu, you (by which I mean I) just have to stop and admire the sheer theoretical/rhetorical reach of his style. I mean he can really blow the top of your head off sometimes. To wit:

"The nearest equivalence to [the] series of generative schemes bound together by relations of practical equivalence is the system of adjectives (lourd/léger, chaud/froid, terne/brillant, etc.) which are available in French to express the ultimate values of taste and which can be applied equally well to a dish or a school exercise, a play or a painting, a joke or a walk, an accent or a garment, and so on. This practical taxonomy owes its efficacy to the fact that, as is evidenced by the numerous senses recorded in the dictionaries, the meaning of each adjective, and of its relationship with its antonym, is specified in each case in terms of the logic of each of the fields in which it is applied: froid may be synonymous with calme or indifférent, but also with frigide or grave, or again with austère and distant, dur (hard) and sec (dry), plat (flat) and terne (dull), depending on whether it is applied to a man or a woman, a head or a heart, a melody or a tone of voice, a tint or a work of art, a calculation or a fit of anger, etc.; and it will have as many antonyms as it has different senses … It follows that, considered in each of these uses, the pairs of qualifiers which as a system constitute the equipment of the judgment of taste are extremely 'poor,' quasi-determinate, and extremely rich, their indefiniteness predisposing them to inspire or express the sense of the indefinable: on the one hand, each use of one of these pairs is only meaningful in relation to a universe of practice which is different each time, usually implicit, and always self-sufficient, ruling out the possibility of comparison with other universes. On the other hand, the meaning which these pairs are given in a particular field has for harmonics all the meanings which they themselves, or any of the couples that are interchangeable with them to within a matter of nuances, may be given in other fields, i.e. in slightly different contexts." (Outline of a Theory of Practice, 121-122)

Je suis désolée

My first negative review is up at Notcoming. Feels good to be spreading hate in the world.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Evan, it looks like there's a new movie critic in town...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Liveblogging the Rare Books Room!

A.k.a. insta-scholarship:

"I am serious indeed about Princeton and indeed I am serious in all things, and it has often been said to me that I am too serious: 'You are too serious, Delmore,' they say. To teach the freshman about the infinite possibilities of the sentence is interesting and pleasant for a time, but there are many other subjects and too often I have had to stop myself from speaking of them."

— Delmore Schwartz to R.P. Blackmur, November 12, 1945

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I'm sorry, I misspoke earlier: Jim Davis is actually the Last Existentialist.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Notes on Twee #1

For me, "twee" seems to have something to do with a show of powerlessness or non-mastery by someone who in fact possesses (or could possess) significant power and technical savoir-faire. It is a self-presentation as weak, small, vulnerable or disadvantaged, and therefore lovable, by people who fear their advantages might otherwise leave them unloved.

(Better late than never, right? Greg, feel free to join in.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fiction, Pro and Con


The prose
The fact that it (has been) a popular medium
The stories, sometimes


All the pages
All the fake people

Paul Muldoon Eat Your Heart Out

I am a published poet!

Sort of. Not really. At all.

I should explain: this is my friend Stefan's webzine and he asked me to contribute a travel essay about my trip to Florida. I was pressed for time so I wrote free verse instead. (Click "Floridian Poetry" to get there.)

Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1922-2008

"Exhibit X in any detective story gives us, paradoxically, a clear image of this situation. The evidence gathered by the inspectors - an object left at the scene of the crime, a movement captured in a photograph, a sentence overheard by a witness - seem chiefly, at first, to require an explanation, to exist only in relation to their role in a context which overpowers them. And already the theories begin to take shape: the presiding magistrate attempts to establish a logical and necessary link between things; it appears that everything will be resolved in a banal bundle of causes and coincidences...
But the story begins to proliferate in a disturbing way: the witnesses contradict one another, the defendant offers several alibis, new evidence appears that had not been taken into account...And we keep going back to the recorded evidence: the exact position of a piece of furniture, the shape and frequency of a fingerprint, the word scribbled in a message. We have the mounting sense that nothing else is true. Though they may conceal the mystery, or betray it, these elements which make a mockery of systems have only one serious, obvious quality, which is to be there."
-- "A Future for the Novel," in For a New Novel: Essays on Fiction (Grove, 1965), pg. 22-23.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


A riot of fonts, but not a font of riots.