Cold Cases

"A long time ago when I was writing for the pulps I put into a story a line like “He got out of the car and walked across the sun-drenched sidewalk until the shadow of the awning over the entrance fell across his face like the touch of cool water.” They took it out when they published the story. Their readers didn’t appreciate this sort of thing — just held up the action. I set out to prove them wrong. My theory was that the readers just thought they cared about nothing but the action; that really, although they didn’t know it, the thing they cared about, and that I cared about, was the creation of emotion through dialogue and description." Raymond Chandler "Great works wait. While their … [Read more...]

I Can’t Remember

"Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate as a reward for their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha." Psalm 40, 14-15 King James translation. "The growing centrality of organized science to the modern industrial state, largely unrecognized until the First World War, made the scientist ‘as much a salaried official as the average civil servant and business executive’. As such, the scientist, like any worker, must choose between job security, personal fulfillment and more lucrative, but riskier, opportunities: ‘no longer, if ever he was, a free agent’, the … [Read more...]

The Morbid Voice

"America is about to choose a president from the two most unpopular politicians in modern history. The Democrats have chided the Left and the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd for still not being ‘with her’ in the existential struggle against fascism. But it is worth considering how liberalism’s anti-fascism covers a libidinal lack. That is, an inability to define or, in Lacanian terms, ‘enjoy’ their political identity but through this fascist threat. Liberals are clearly not principled anti-fascists, the geopolitical compromises are too numerous to count, and there is an obvious cynical PR/fundraising logic to the fascist threat: ‘Can you spare $5 to defeat fascism?’ However, liberals are emotionally … [Read more...]

Flight from Desire

"There is always at least one more thing claiming to bring a consumer happiness, and since, of course, this is a psychological obsession, the chain of alienations and frustrations increases continually, which makes the consumer more submissive to the addictive system of consumption. Commercials have one major message for their obsessed subjects: this new item in particular is the key to your lost happiness; this item is unlike anything we have offered you before. Commercialism and commodity fetishism turn the mass individual into an apolitical individual who serves the system of advanced capitalism even in his or her “free time”." Saladdin Said Ahmed "Extremism and scapegoating … [Read more...]