Monday, 29 June 2009

From "The Well-Beloved"

By Thomas Hardy.

You will be sorry to hear, Sir, that dear little Avice Caro, as we used to call her in her maiden days, is dead. She married her cousin, if you do mind, and went away from here for a good-few years, but was left a widow, and came back a twelvemonth ago; since when she faltered and faltered, and now she is gone.

CHAPTER THREE
She becomes an Inaccessible Ghost

By imperceptible and slow degrees the scene at the dinner-table receded into the background, behind the vivid presentment of Avice Caro, and the old, old scenes on Isle Vindilia which were inseparable from her personality. The dining-room was real no more, dissolving under the bold stony promontory and the incoming West Sea. The handsome machioness in geranium-red and diamonds, who was visible to him on his host's right hand opposite, became one of the glowing vermilion sunsets that he had watched so many times over Deadman's Bay, with the form of Avice in the foreground. Between his eyes and the judge who sat next to Nichola, with a chin so raw that he must have shaved every quarter of an hour during the day, intruded the face of Avice, as she had glanced at him in their last parting. The crannied features of the evergreen society lady, who, if she had been a few years older, would have been as old-fashioned as her daughter, shaped themselves to the dusty quarries of his and Avice's parents, down which he had clambered with Avice hundreds of times. The ivy trailing about the table-cloth, the lights in the tall candlesticks, and the bunches of flowers, were transmuted into the ivies of the cliff-built Castle, the tufts of seaweed, and the lighthouse on the isle. The salt airs of the ocean killed the smell of the viands, and instead of the clatter of voices came tho monologue of the tide off the Beal.

More than all, Nichola Pine-Avon lost the blooming radiance which she had latterly acquired; she became a woman of his acquaintance with no distinctive traits; she seemed to grow material, a superficies of flesh and bone merely, a person of lines and surfaces; she was a language in living cipher no more.

When the ladies had withdrawn it was just the same. The soul of Avice -- the only woman he had never loved of those who loved him -- surrounded him like a firmament. Art drew near to him in the person of the most distinguished portrait painters; but there was only one painter for Jocelyn -- his own memory. All that was eminent in European surgery addressed him in the person of that harmless and unassuming fogey whose hands had been inside the bodies of hundreds of living men; but the lily-white corpse of an obscure country-girl chilled the interest of discourse with the king of operators.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

From "Negative Dialectics"

The guilt of a life which purely as a fact will strangle other life, according to statistics that eke out an overwhelming number of killed with a minimal number of rescued, as if this were provided in the theory of probabilities -- this guilt is irreconcilable with living.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

From "It is time to move on"

By Malcolm Brinded.

I am aware that the settlement may – to some – suggest Shell is guilty and trying to escape justice. Some newspapers have leapt to that conclusion. But we felt we had to move on. A court hearing would have dragged us backwards, dug up old feuds and painful memories, not only for the plaintiffs but for many others who have been caught up in the violence.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Sophie Robinson's very beautiful a has been published by Les Figues Press. It is a skinnybook for a warrior thincess. Don't cut your nails or you won't be able to lift it from the tabletop.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Borrrrrrring!

By Marshall Sahlins.

Thomas Kuhn and others have wondered whether the social sciences have paradigms and paradigm shifts like the natural sciences. Nothing seems to get concluded because some say that the natural sciences don’t even have them, and others that in the social sciences you couldn’t tell a paradigm from a fad. Still, considering the successive eras of functional explanation of cultural forms—first, by their supposed effects in promoting social solidarity, then, by their economic utility, and lately, as modes of hegemonic power—there does seem to be something like a Kuhnian movement in the social sciences. Though there is at least one important contrast to the natural sciences.

In the social sciences, the pressure to shift from one theoretical regime to another, say from economic benefits to power effects, does not appear to follow from the piling up of anomalies in the waning paradigm, as it does in natural science. In the social sciences, paradigms are not outmoded because they explain less and less, but rather because they explain more and more—until, all too soon, they are explaining just about everything. There is an inflation effect in social science paradigms, which quickly cheapens them. The way that “power” explains everything from Vietnamese second person plural pronouns to Brazilian workers’ architectural bricolage, African Christianity or Japanese sumo wrestling. But then, if the paradigm begins to seem less and less attractive, it is not really for the standard logical or methodological reasons. It is not because in thus explaining everything, power explains nothing, or because differences are being attributed to similarities, or because contents are dissolved in their (presumed) effects. It’s because everything turns out to be the same: power.

Paradigms change in the social sciences because, their persuasiveness really being more political than empirical, they become commonplace universals. People get tired of them. They get bored. In fact power is already worn out. Borrrring! As the millennium turns over, the new eternal paradigm du jour is identity politics. The handwriting is on the wall: I read where fly-fishing for trout is a way the English bourgeoisie of the late nineteenth century developed a national identity. “In nineteenth century England, fishing, not less than war, was politics by other means,” writes anthropologist Richard Washabaugh in a book called Deep Trout. (Is this title a play on Clifford Geertz, so to speak, or on “Deep Throat”?) Well, the idea gets at least some credibility from the fact that fishing is indeed the most boring sport on television. Coming soon: the identity politics of bowling, X-games, women’s pocket billiards, and Nascar racing.

Monday, 1 June 2009

From "Aphorisms for my ex"

By Posie Rider.

Do you know that I read
your emails when you are
asleep? I think they are
dull.

You never introduced me to
your mother but I don’t think
she would have liked me.

I am working my fingers
into your scattered lines, I am
keeping myself busy now.

Today I called your house so
you would answer and so I
could check that you were in.
I hung up, like a serial killer.

I am prickled all over at the
thought of the moths in the blanket.

I am treating your smile like
an upturned dog. Restful.
Deceased.

What some people are like