Sunday, February 04, 2018

The most authentic thing about you is your sin…

How many times have I laughed at you telling me plainly that I was too lazy to be anything but a lawyer." 
Almanac: Tom Stoppard on history and the intellectual class
“We’ve had a terrible shock. We discovered that history has no respect for intellectuals. History is more like the weather. You never know what it’s going to do.” Tom Stoppard, The Coast of Utopia: Shipwreck ... read more

My only sin is my skin. What did I do, to be so black and blue?”
–Fats Waller, “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue?”

Almanac: Anthony Powell on the novel and reality
People think because a novel’s invented, it isn’t true. Exactly the reverse is the case. Because a novel’s invented, it is true. Biography and memoirs can never be wholly true, since they can’t include every ... read more

AJBlog: About Last NightPublished 2018-02-01

       In the Index on Censorship they get several viewpoints on attending or boycotting book fairs, including from Swedish Academy member Peter Englund and Frankfurt Book Fair vice president of international affairs Tobias Voss, in Book fairs and freedom 

20 foods exported from China that are filled with chemical products

In dreams my life came toward me ...
Every day I wake far away
from my life, in a foreign country.
These people are speaking a strange language.

It is strange to me
and strange, I think, even to themselves

Why we forget most of our deadly sins and the books we read
"The 'forgetting curve', as it’s called, is steepest during the first 24 hours after you learn something." 

Tax scam accused's big property sell-off

THE property empire amassed by a top tax officials son who allegedly masterminded a 144 million tax fraud is being sold off.

Spermageddon: Why the human race could be infertile in 50 years Telegraph. More substance here than the mere clickbait headline.

EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT THE EXPERTS TOLD US FOR DECADES:  High Fat Diet Good, High-Carb Diet Deadly:“High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual  types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke. Global dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings.”
Related:  The Suicide of Expertise

 To see what Amazon does to cities, look to San Bernardino, where unemployment has plummeted—so has quality of life.

There is no prophecy, only memory.
What happens tomorrow
has happened a thousand years ago
the same way, to the same end –
and does my ancient memory
say that your false memory
is the history of the featherhearted bird
transformed into a crow atop a marble mountain?
The same woman will be there
on the path to reincarnation
her cage of black hair
her generous and bitter heart
like an amphora full of serpents.

There is no prophecy, things happen
as they have before –
death finds you in the same bed
lonely and without sorrow, shadowless
as trees wet with night.

There is no destiny, only laws of biology;
fish splash in water
pine trees breathe on mountains.

Aftermath of a TV interview

In the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan picked up on a British TV interview with University of Toronto clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson that got a lot of attention because of interviewer Cathy Newman being taken aback by some of his views (which really aren't that outrageous and, indeed, heralded by Noonan). But many days before, The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf was smart in indicating that what struck him far more than any of Peterson's positions "was the method his interviewer employed. It was the most prominent, striking example I’ve seen yet of an unfortunate trend in modern communication."

"First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem as if their view is as offensive, hostile, or absurd."
"Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and various Fox News hosts all feature and reward this rhetorical technique. And the Peterson interview has so many moments of this kind that each successive example calls attention to itself until the attentive viewer can’t help but wonder what drives the interviewer to keep inflating the nature of Peterson’s claims, instead of addressing what he actually said."

Writing Across Borders, English 127.301

Butterflies and hurricanes pay no heed to borders, but humans will risk their lives to cross them, build walls to mark them and kill to defend them. At a moment when the number of displaced persons is just under one percent of the human race, more than at any time since the Second World War, and is projected to rise steeply over the next 30 years, questions of borders and identities are inescapable in our writing. This topic will define the next century. What does it mean to talk of American poetry?  How do our heritage(s) as citizen, resident, explorer, refugee, immigrant, tourist, trader, slave or raider condition the present and future of writing. How do race, class and gender enter in? This class will examine recent texts that explore these questions as well as look to the future. Authors under consideration will include (among many others) Caroline Bergvall, Amiri Baraka, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Aimé Césaire, Habib Tengour, M. NourbeSe Philip, Divya Victor and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We will watch films by Nikita Mikhalov and Ousmane Sembene. There will be opportunities to look at some of the theoretical and historical backgrounds of these issues if a student should so wish.

Required texts (not otherwise online)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Americanah
Caroline Bergvall, Drift
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Landtranslated & edited by Clayton Eshleman & Annette Smith with an introduction by André Breton 
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee
M. NourbeSe Philip, Zong!
Habib TengourExile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Readeredited and translated by Pierre Joris
Divya Victor, Kith

     Major online resources
Poetry Foundation’s collection: Poems on Immigration
Eclipse Archive: The Black Radical Tradition
Leonard Schwartz: Cross Cultural Poetics
Recommended works
Benedict Anderson, Imagined CommunitiesWendy Brown, Walled States, Waning SovereigntyAimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism,C.S. Giscombe, Border Towns
Pierre Joris, A Nomad PoeticsClaudia Rankine et al, The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind
Ousman Sembene, any of his films, but especially 
CeddoBlack GirlXala and Moolaadé
TC Tolbert & Tim Trace Peterson, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great MigrationHeriberto Yépez
Transnational Battle Field (the strikethrough is intentional)

'I am very sorry': Chinese investors keep losing billions online

With Fungi in the Mix, Concrete Can Fill Its Own Cracks Smithsonian