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27 February 2017 @ 07:12 pm
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Swizz Beatz VS Just Blaze - HOT97 LIVE
21 February 2017 @ 07:21 pm
-- Aleksandar Hemon on the Urge to Violence in a Time of Trump - Aleksandar Hemon, LitHub, Feb. 21, 2017

"Moreover, nationalism, including the white American Bannonite variety, sees itself as a primarily, even exclusively, masculine ideology: a strong nation consists of men who bond in strength by way of oppressing women (and homosexuals, and gender-fluid people, and non-violent men etc.) and eliminating weaker enemies. In wartime Bosnia, the Serb-nationalist rape campaign didn’t just intend to render Muslim men weak by violating “their” women, but also to bond the Serb men in a shared sense of superior masculinity. In nationalist discourse, making the country great again always requires (re)masculization, ideally by way of violence and aggression. In Trump’s perpetually Viagra-addled mind, to make America great again men need to be manlier, which is to say more aggressive and violent, more willing to kill for the nation, more willing to hate women. Again, misogyny is not just a side effect of Trump’s psychopathology, but essential to the project. Without this new masculinity the Trumpist authoritarian ethos is impossible, just as it is unimaginable sans Viagra. Trump called upon American men by way braying about his masculinity and bragging about groping and insulting women, promising better, more American violence, and a vast number of them enthusiastically responded. If your previously decent—that is, pussified—neighbor endorses torturing Muslims and/or raping women, or indeed starts doing it himself, it will be so as to feel like a real man."

-- Princess Jasmine Strips - Deborah Baker, London Review of Books, Feb. 16, 2017

"At such moments, Haddad’s determination to follow Rasa’s more impetuous thoughts wherever they take him left me slightly panicked. The word ‘transgressive’ is bandied about a lot, particularly when it comes to LGBT fiction. But it isn't often applied to a novel with a ‘foreign’ and heavily politicised setting. Which of the following seems more rash? Having Rasa sit in the jail’s waiting-room entertaining enraged thoughts about assassinating the president? Or describing young Rasa’s erotic focus on the backsides of the men surrounding him during Friday prayers? Lit crit schools us to distinguish between an author and his oversharing narrator, but such distinctions are nearly always lost on the mullahs, presidents and immigration officials of an increasingly literal-minded world. And what of the many moving descriptions of the ways two men in love touch each other or, more simply, talk to each other? How would this novel be received among the Arab literati, more conversant with carnal themes than tender ones, unless voiced by Oum Kalthoum?"

-- What It Feels Like to Be a Bomb - Deborah Baker, London Review of Books, Jun. 30, 2016

"I have a friend whose son was killed in a school shooting. A smallish school shooting. It took place seven years before Columbine got Americans used to the practice of not thinking about guns. To understand how it happened, my friend sought out surviving witnesses, the gun shop owner who sold the gun, the dean of the college where the shooting took place, and the shooter’s devastated parents. He questioned them as if they were characters in a suspense story, each with a partial view of the events leading up to the fatal day and the unfolding of the spree itself. Certain details hung in the air – the bullet that killed his son first broke the toothbrush in his shirt pocket – but no detail, however arresting, could alter the trajectory that had left this man and his family in stunned derangement. Finally, he bought a gun just like the one the shooter used, a Chinese knock-off of an AK47. He kept it behind a ceiling panel in his office so that he could take it out to study, as if the narrative logic of chance and fate might be hidden in its triggering machinery. Grief is a specific kind of madness; terror is another. Both are story-driven."
Current Location: Kasbah Garden
Current Music: Lacuna Coil - Ultima Radio
20 February 2017 @ 03:00 pm
-- A Short History of the Trump Family - Sidney Blumenthal, London Review of Books, Feb. 16, 2017

"What Gatsby and Trump also have in common are gangsters. Gatsby’s fortune is secretly derived from his bootlegging partnership with Meyer Wolfsheim, a character based on the mobster Arnold Rothstein, who fixed the 1919 World Series. Trump’s business has been dependent almost from the start on real-life racketeers. There was Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family, and Paul ‘Big Paulie’ Castellano, boss of the Gambino crime family, who owned the company that provided the ready-mix cement for Trump Tower, used in place of the usual steel girders. There was John Cody, the boss of Teamsters Local 282, who controlled the cement trucks and was an associate of the Gambino family. There was Daniel Sullivan, Trump’s labour ‘consultant’, who in partnership with the Philadelphia crime boss Nicodemos ‘Nicky’ Scarfo’s financier, sold Trump a property in Atlantic City that became his casino. There was Salvatore ‘Salvie’ Testa, ‘crown prince’ of the Philadelphia Mob, who sold Trump the site on which two construction firms owned by Scarfo built the Trump Plaza and Casino. There was Felix Sater, convicted money launderer for the Russian Mafia, Trump’s partner in building the Trump SoHo hotel through the Bayrock Group LLC, which by 2007 had more than $2 billion in Trump licensed projects and by 2014 was no more. There was Tevfik Arif, another Trump partner, Bayrock’s chairman, originally from Kazakhstan. Bayrock’s equity financing came from three Kazakh billionaires known as ‘the Trio’, who were reported to be engaged in racketeering, money laundering and other crimes. And so on."
Current Location: The Study
Current Music: Lacuna Coil - The House of Shame
20 February 2017 @ 02:49 pm
-- The Courtesy of God - Garret Keizer, Lapham's Quarterly, Winter 2010

"That is really the crux of the matter, isn’t it: what we talk about when we talk about God, at least in the context of what Americans with characteristic solipsism refer to as “our post-9/11 world”—with atheists telling us, “This is where religion inevitably leads,” and radio evangelists telling us, “This is where religion based on the Qur’an instead of the inspired Word of God inevitably leads,” and liberal apologists for monotheism telling us, “Come, come, ladies and gentlemen, we are surely beyond all that.” What 9/11 told us, what the death of Laney told me, is that we are beyond nothing, neither the childish question nor the primal cry, and least of all that desperate conjunction of the two, whether uttered by a Muslim zealot prostrate beneath the shadow of American might or a New York accountant racing down the doomed tower stairs: What must I do to be saved?"

-- Original Sin - Francine Prose, Lapham's Quarterly, Winter 2010

"The acid attack on the schoolgirls offered graphic and persuasive confirmation of one reason why we have gone to war, or in any case one reason we’ve been given: according to some, once we defeat the Taliban, every Afghan girl can go to school. That’s the outcome everyone wants, though it is less often mentioned that literacy rates among Afghan women were appallingly low long before the Taliban, back in the 1980s when we were still arming the mujahideen—including many future Taliban warriors—to fight against the Russians. The Taliban’s demonic and demonizing attitude toward women represents merely the most current extreme manifestation of the grotesque misogyny fostered throughout history by religion and patriarchal tribal culture. Both the Taliban and the Southern Baptists employ the “lessons” of biology and scripture to “prove” women’s inferiority, a view of our gender unlikely to be eliminated by another air strike or drone-missile deployment, or by the polite demurrals of a former president."
Current Location: The Study
Current Music: Lacuna Coil - The House of Shame
17 February 2017 @ 11:54 pm
-- Where Life Is Seized - Adam Shatz, London Review of Books, Jan. 19, 2017

"Restoring the symphonic order of everyday life was the goal of social therapy, and Fanon pursued it with vigilance, introducing basket-weaving, a theatre, ball games and other activities. It was a great success with the European women, but a ‘total failure’ with the Muslim men. The older European doctors weren’t surprised: ‘You don’t know them, when you’ve been in the hospital for 15 years like us, then you’ll understand.’ But Fanon, to his credit, refused to ‘understand’. He suspected that the failure lay in his use of ‘imported methods’, and that he might achieve different results if he could provide his Muslim patients with forms of sociality that resembled their lives outside. Working with a team of Algerian nurses, he established a café maure, a traditional tea house where men drink coffee and play cards, and later an Oriental salon for the hospital’s small group of Muslim women. Arab musicians and storytellers came to perform, and Muslim festivals were celebrated for the first time in the hospital’s history. Once their cultural practices were recognised, Blida’s Muslim community emerged from its slumbers. Fanon’s adversaries at the hospital called him the ‘Arab Doctor’ behind his back."

-- Syria and the Left - Yusef Khalil & Yasser Munif, Jacobin Magazine, Jan. 9, 2017

"That was happening in the context of mass violence. The Syrian regime was bombarding those areas frequently to undermine the emergence of any alternatives, because the Syrian regime feels that the emergence of an alternative Syria, a democratic Syria, a post-Assad Syria, would send the wrong message to those who still support it and would be the beginning of the end. The Syrian regime feels more threatened by those democratic alternatives than the military dimensions of the Syrian revolution. In many ways, those experiences and those experiments in those liberated areas were making the Syrian revolution possible. They were the backbone of the Syrian revolution."

-- When They Came from Another World - James Gleick, New York Review of Books, Jan. 19, 2017

"Louise and Ian try to calm everyone down. Maybe the word doesn’t mean only “weapon”; maybe it can be read as “tool” or “gift.” The heptapod language is “semasiographic,” Louise explains (in the story, not in the movie, understandably): signs divorced from sounds. Each logogram speaks volumes. They carry the meaning of whole sentences or paragraphs. And here’s a curious thing. The logograms seem to be conceived and written as unitary entities, all at once, rather than as a sequence of smaller symbols. “Imagine trying to write a long sentence with two hands, starting at either end,” Louise tells Ian. “To do that, you’d have to know every single word you’re going to write and the space all of it occupies.” It’s as if, for the heptapods, time is not sequential."

-- The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics - Steven Weinberg, New York Review of Books, Jan. 19, 2017

"Worse yet, the electron waves are not waves of electronic matter, in the way that ocean waves are waves of water. Rather, as Max Born came to realize, the electron waves are waves of probability. That is, when a free electron collides with an atom, we cannot in principle say in what direction it will bounce off. The electron wave, after encountering the atom, spreads out in all directions, like an ocean wave after striking a reef. As Born recognized, this does not mean that the electron itself spreads out. Instead, the undivided electron goes in some one direction, but not a precisely predictable direction. It is more likely to go in a direction where the wave is more intense, but any direction is possible."

-- Act One, Scene One - David Bromwell, London Review of Books, Feb. 16, 2017

"How often will he be caught at it? The national security state that Obama inherited and broadened, and has now passed on to Trump, is so thoroughly protected by secrecy that on most occasions concealment will be an available alternative to lying. Components of the Obama legacy that Trump will draw on include the curtailment of the habeas corpus rights of prisoners in the War on Terror; the creation of a legal category of permanent detainees who are judged at once impossible to put on trial and too dangerous to release; the expanded use of the state secrets privilege to deny legal process to abused prisoners; the denial of legal standing to American citizens who contest warrantless searches and seizures; the allocation of billions of dollars by the Department of Homeland Security to supply state and local police with helicopters, heavy artillery, state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and armoured vehicles; precedent for the violent overthrow of a sovereign government without consultation and approval by Congress (as in Libya); precedent for the subsidy, training and provision of arms to foreign rebel forces to procure the overthrow of a sovereign government without consultation and approval by Congress (as in Syria); the prosecution of domestic whistleblowers as enemy agents under the Foreign Espionage Act of 1917; the use of executive authority to order the assassination of persons – including US citizens – who by secret process have been determined to pose an imminent threat to American interests at home or abroad; the executive approval given to a nuclear modernisation programme, at an estimated cost of $1 trillion, to streamline, adapt and miniaturise nuclear weapons for up to date practical use; the increased availability – when requested of the NSA by any of the other 16 US intelligence agencies – of private internet and phone data on foreign persons or US citizens under suspicion. The last of these is the latest iteration of Executive Order 12333, originally issued by Ronald Reagan in 1981. It had made its way through the Obama administration over many deliberate months, and was announced only on 12 January. As with the nuclear modernisation programme in the realm of foreign policy, Executive Order 12333 will have an impact on the experience of civil society which Americans have hardly begun to contemplate. Obama’s awareness of this frightening legacy accounts for the unpredictable urgency with which he campaigned for Hillary Clinton – an almost unseemly display of partisan energy by a sitting president. All along, he was expecting a chosen successor to ‘dial back’ the security state Cheney and Bush had created and he himself normalised."
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Lacuna Coil - The House of Shame
17 February 2017 @ 10:15 pm
Is the historical prevalence of English left-to-right script the reason so much of our present understanding of physics is deterministic and static and simply states in the face of uncertainty that we simply don’t know all of the variables yet to predict an event? I’m thinking of Arrival again and the Sapor-Whorf hypothesis but also nudged once again towards making good on my pledge to restart my Arabic language studies. The internal prompting has become much more insistent since, today, enough longreads centered on other countries and cultures that I fell into that familiar endearment of Places That Aren’t Here. Flavored as always by the proposition that immersing myself entirely into this stuff is progress, self-betterment, as though I myself were operating along a progress bar, forgetting, of course, that such is the prison of left-to-right thinking.

The aforementioned Here extends beyond the geographical sense. Fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and rage (mostly rage), as well as annoyance have been mainstays in the cerebral apartment complex, occasionally rendering abrasive personal relationships, barking at those loved ones knocking at the door or chancing a walk across the threshold to occupy my thinking. And a major culprit is the obvious political tumult of this my home country. I’m fortunate, more so than many, that I have my podcast as an outlet, but much energy goes into it, and it was pointed out to me by K that my partner and I have been relatively relentless in our output. We’ve yet to miss a week since we started. We’ve even recently put out our first mid-week episode. The times demand it, I guess. Time spent working on that is less time spent fucking about on Facebook, also less time writing in spaces like this. In this space, specifically, if I’m getting to the heart of the matter.

Last night, unable to sleep, I went back through old entries, guided by my massively hyper-linked year-end chronicle postings. The boon of having generated such mountainous amounts of material over the decade+ I’ve spent on this platform turns to grievance when I return to where I am now, which is that stretch of psychic landscape I occupy when I fear my best writing days are behind me.

The primal fear is less that I’m a bad writer or, rather, a “perfectly decent” one, but instead that all the good stuff has already come out of me. The innovation, the wordsmithing, the ease, the complication, the puzzle piece mastery. I go back either here or at Boy Boxes Bear and I read certain sentences and become absolutely dumbstruck that they came out of me.

This is the paradox. My writing is more widely celebrated now than it has been at any time in the past. Yet I feel so clumsy and inept. Sentences trip over their shoe-laces in my head and land face-flat on the keyboard. I misspeak. I lose trains of thought, and that ability I used to have, knowing a sentences rhythm and how it fit in the whole schema of a paragraph, a page, a book, before I wrote it, I can’t seem to get back. I’ve thrown my arm out, maybe? I can’t tell whether time spent away from this space is a root cause or a symptom.

Some of the conversations I have here, I have elsewhere, in flesh-and-blood speech with people whose intonations and hangups and proclivities differ from mine. There’s something to respond to, someone to respond to, something and someone to process, to accord within my sphere of being. And the closer that person is to my heart, the more space their entire existence-speech takes up in my mind. When K speaks, I listen to her fingers in her hair, and the occasional uptick in her voice, and I listen to the way her eyes dart from one corner of the ceiling-wall intersection to another in between paragraphs. I listen to what her hands do during outrage, and I listen to her shifting on the couch. I listen to the reddening of her skin when she becomes particularly animated. I listen to the sighs and note their placement, their lightness and their weight. I listen to worry and for it. Noting the color of each thread in the braid.

Much conversation in the beginning centered on past endeavors, encounters, attempts at this sort of thing. Often, we would find each other mirrored in our stories. She would say something, and I would say “same.” And then we would trade. Before, I only understood the mirror as operating on one plane, but beneath that level of conversation was another that bespoke fear of the future and that what had happened would happen again, that what we were not telling each other our pasts so much as our future, un-translated.

In reading an essay in The New York Review of Books on quantum mechanics earlier today, I chanced across an excerpt from an old Einstein letter wherein he writes: “Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One. I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.”

The two of us sometimes play like we’ve read the Book of Ages that details every event that has happened, is happening, and will happen in our lives and can predict how this will go, even as we fight to make it happen or not, and one strand of thinking has it that imperfect knowledge is the only impediment to precognition. That we simply don’t know enough about each other to know how this will go, whether departure is the terminus or whether or not there even is a terminus.

And in the midst of the empyrean duel over the course of my emotional thinking came the resurfacing of an old essay in Lapham’s Quarterly that had struck me to the quick when I’d read it. I know it was early on after the Cessation because my thinking was very much caught up in God and His presence and my questing after the solace His embrace promised, and the essay spoke precisely to that combat between free will and my own personal determinism predicated on an inherent, immovable monstrousness. It had also buttressed my belief in the conceptualization of my life as a string of miracles, stars daisy-chained together to hint at some yet unrealized Purpose. An unfinished sentence. God does not play dice. Reverend Don Morgan, who I believe is now deceased, once spoke at our church, and said “we may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future.” That line has, after all these years, stayed with me.

It feels rather quantum mechanical. Quantum mechanics deals in probabilities, but the way that wave functions change over time is captured in an equation that does not involve probabilities. If the contradictoriness of God could be captured in scientific language, I wonder if that would perhaps be its translation. Given the wave function at any moment, Schrödinger’s equation will tell you its precise location at any point in the future. We could be anywhere, but plug our location into the God equation, and you will know precisely where we’ll be in three months, three years. Or even if we will be in three years.

I don’t pray nearly as much as I used to and, like my Arabic study, is something I intended to do a better job at reacquainting myself with, only to have failed miserably, but I wonder now if I’ll notice, not just communion with something higher than myself but also the dissolution of time. As a child, when Mom would pray, I would grow antsy at how much time had passed. It always seemed to occur before some event: either we were getting ready to eat or she was getting ready to drop us off to school after vacation or I was getting ready for a job interview. We were always getting ready for something, and this was simply part of the preparation. But as I’ve gotten older and become friendlier with the virtue of patience, I’ve cared less for how much time had passed. It felt similar to how losing myself in a book would feel. The sun would be out, then it would be gone. Or suddenly, it would be three in the morning or I’d have passed an entire night without sleep, even though I’d still feel as though I were rising from a dream. Of late, the praying that I have done has always been harried. When it’s not a quick few sentences murmured walking through subway stations, when it’s the on-your-knees-with-your-hands-folded kind, it’s always part of some rushed preparation. I always have somewhere to be or a requisite number of sleep-hours to catch. If it is part of the homework of self-betterment, I don’t imagine I’m doing justice by it. And, as a consequence, I doubt I’m learning as much as I could.

I wonder if prayer or, at least, Mom’s piousness has affected, in some way, her own perception of time. A piece of writing I’m currently working on (whether or not it’ll see the light of day is in question) wonders at the reaction of immigrant parents to the current political turmoil in America, these parents having experienced their own brand of cataclysm, whether in the form of dictatorship or civil war or whatever brand of autocratic kleptocracy was in place at the time. And I wonder whether or not their witnessing this upheaval figures into the circularity of time. Or, rather, history may not repeat itself, but it rhymes. Some of these immigrant parents speak in non-English languages, and perhaps a consequence isn’t simply that they have words for things we don’t and vice versa, but rather that what is happening now is simply the end of a sentence whose beginning they heard in childhood. The logogram. The sentence-circle. America is a country. Every country is a country.

I wonder if I’m saying the same thing, or implying the same sentence structure, when I write that if I’ve written a thing I’m proud of before, I can write it again. Maybe more accurately, I will write it again.

History rhyming is what it feels like to think of her, and I wonder if this constant grasping for different ways of being—through language study, through prayer, through reading about quantum mechanics—is simply the herculean effort to keep from fear. To move from not wanting to know how the sentence ends out of fear to not needing to know because of faith.

A dear friend and erstwhile spiritual guru a year after the Cessation caught me for a chat one sunny afternoon in New Haven, and I confessed how powerfully fear had steered me into healthier habits. And he expressed his hope that I might one day operate out of faith instead. Faith that I’ll write material to be proud of. Faith that I’ll survive the potential collapse of the Republic. Faith that this time, with this person, the sentence will end differently.
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Lacuna Coil - The House of Shame
17 February 2017 @ 01:58 pm
-- The Attorney Fighting Revenge Porn - Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, Dec. 5, 2016

"Norma’s complaint would almost certainly not have proceeded to court had she not been represented by Carrie Goldberg, who was sitting in the courtroom next to her that day. Goldberg is a thirty-nine-year-old Brooklyn attorney with a practice specializing in sexual privacy, a new field of law that has emerged, in large part, to confront some of the grosser indulgences of the Internet. She has clients like Norma, who are trying to get intimate images of themselves, or graphic ads offering their sexual services, off the Internet before they go viral and strangers start showing up at their houses. She also has clients who are being extorted into providing sex or money because someone has graphic pictures of them and is threatening to send the images to employers or parents or siblings. She has even begun advising teen-age students who have been sexually assaulted and had the incidents recorded on cell phones, and who have then had to go to school with peers who may have been watching the videos in the cafeteria or the hallways."

-- How a Grad Student Found Spyware That Could Control Anybody's iPhone From Anywhere in the World - Bryan Burrough, Vanity Fair, Nov. 28, 2016

"FinSpy was quickly identified as part of a spyware product named “FinFisher,” created and marketed by a British company called Gamma Group, which billed FinFisher as a new way for police and intelligence agencies to monitor criminals and spies. Like several other new entrants into the spyware field, Gamma termed its products “lawful intercept” tools. Just the year before, however, protesters who had stormed Egypt’s state security headquarters carted out boxes of internal government documents, one of them an offer from the Egyptian secret police to buy the FinFisher program for $353,000. The Egyptian discovery suggested that Gamma, far from limiting its clients to those who targeted criminals, was quietly marketing FinFisher to authoritarian governments to monitor dissidents. Marczak’s work seemed to confirm it. But Gamma, contacted by a Bloomberg News reporter, denied selling FinFisher to the Bahraini government, suggesting it was using a stolen copy."

-- Only Human - Anna Wiener, The New Republic, Feb. 16, 2017

"There is something deeply sad about transhumanism, too—a yearning, one that perhaps harks back to the self-improvement doctrines that have so colored California since the halcyon days of the midcentury. The promise of a better world—a better you—is hard to turn away from these days. We are not more than human; we have not found a way to transcend. In the weeks between the election and the inauguration, our collective visions of the future adjusted to accommodate the possibilities of rampant corruption and the rapid perversion of constitutional freedoms, among many other things. It feels indulgent to fantasize about a future in which humanity is optimized for immortality; it feels indulgent to fantasize about a future at all."
Current Music: Bullet for My Valentine - Worthless
17 February 2017 @ 12:30 pm
-- The Troubles at Home - Caelainn Hogan, Harper's Magazine, Oct. 27, 2016

"Back then, Khaled remembers the Irish tricolor draped out every window along the streets of Catholic areas, until it met with the British Union Jack, each territory marked out edge to edge with flags. As if to strengthen the divide, Protestant areas would hang Israeli flags and Catholic areas would fly the Palestinian colors. More recently, Khaled had passed a muralist in West Belfast painting a tribute to Palestine. He suggested he paint something for Syria. “Which side?” the man had asked him. When Khaled said he supported the revolution, the painter told him, “Walk away from here, kiddo.” He supported Palestine, siding with Hezbollah against Israel. Hezbollah supported the Syrian regime against the revolution and so by default so did the muralist."

-- After the Fall: Women Writers on Post-Revolutionary Egypt - Marya Hannun, Los Angeles Review of Books, Nov. 9, 2016

"REVOLUTIONS ARE STORIES we tell in perfect arc. The language used to describe them contains all of the inexorable momentum that drives grand narratives. Words like movement, gathering, uprising culminate in an overthrow, a toppling, a fall. It is the stuff of good Aristotelian drama. This inherent drama is at the heart of what Egyptian novelist Youssef Rakha has cynically described as the “Arab Spring Industry,” referring to the glut of cultural production that followed in the wake of the 2011 revolution. Documentary works like Mona Prince’s Revolution Is My Name and Ahdaf Soueif’s Cairo: My City, Our Revolution captured the heady moments of transformation — the coming of age of an entire generation of Egyptian writers and activists."

-- There is no such thing as western civilisation - Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Guardian, Nov. 9, 2016

"There were no recognised rabbis or Muslim scholars at the court of Charlemagne; in the cities of al-Andalus there were bishops and synagogues. Racemondo, Catholic bishop of Elvira, was Cordoba’s ambassador to the courts of the Byzantine and the Holy Roman empires. Hasdai ibn Shaprut, leader of Cordoba’s Jewish community in the middle of the 10th century, was not only a great medical scholar, he was the chairman of the Caliph’s medical council; and when the Emperor Constantine in Byzantium sent the Caliph a copy of Dioscorides’s De Materia Medica, he took up Ibn Shaprut’s suggestion to have it translated into Arabic, and Cordoba became one of the great centres of medical knowledge in Europe. The translation into Latin of the works of Ibn Rushd, born in Cordoba in the 12th century, began the European rediscovery of Aristotle. He was known in Latin as Averroes, or more commonly just as “The Commentator”, because of his commentaries on Aristotle. So the classical traditions that are meant to distinguish western civilisation from the inheritors of the caliphates are actually a point of kinship with them."

-- Fried Fish - Thomas Chatterton Williams, London Review of Books, Nov. 17, 2016

"The mundane nature of the evil in such tossed-off remarks demands attention, whereas there is always the danger that the reader has become inured to yet another elaboration of a back-splitting lashing in front of a drooping willow tree. The matter-of-factness of Whitehead’s prose allows him to have his Southern Novel of Black Misery and stand ironically apart from it too. One can’t avoid the impression that, for Whitehead, the subject matter is always in service of the intellectual and narrative dexterity on the page. It’s all so theoretical and cerebral, the book could come with a disclaimer: no author was harmed in the making of this novel."

-- Black Life And Death In A Familiar America - Eve L. Ewing, FADER, Nov. 10, 2016

"Mt. Greenwood is on the South Side, but not in a part of the South Side that you have heard of. You have no reason to hear about Mt. Greenwood. We have heard of it because we were told not to go there, to avoid it. Mt. Greenwood is one of the residential pockets on the city’s South Side that harbors a fierce, raging, furious whiteness. This is a stop-at-nothing whiteness, a whiteness that says “It’s your life or mine” and means it. The neighborhood is like a snapshot of that supposedly once-great America we’ve heard so much about in the last year — the one where you know the postal worker and the pharmacist by name, where children play outside unbothered, and where they kill black people in the streets with impunity."
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Periphery - Rainbow Gravity
17 February 2017 @ 11:05 am
-- Losing a Son in the New York State Prisons - Jennifer Gonnerman, The New Yorker, Feb. 17, 2017

"Ham suspected that he was not getting the full story of his son’s death, so he hired an attorney, Zachary Giampá. On Wednesday, Giampá filed a lawsuit on his behalf against New York State, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and Marcy Correctional Facility. The lawsuit alleges negligent supervision, wrongful death, and “loss of sepulcher,” for failing to give Ham the opportunity to bury his son. When Ham first heard about Lonnie’s death, his son had already been underground for six weeks, buried in the Marcy prison cemetery, dressed in a prison uniform."
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: August Burns Red feat. Jeremy McKinnon - Ghosts