Sunday, July 21, 2013

Events of the day

 Solnit on Snowden:

Privacy is a kind of power as well as a right, one that public librarians fought to protect against the Bush administration and the PATRIOT Act and that online companies violate in every way that’s profitable and expedient. Our lack of privacy, their monstrous privacy—even their invasion of our privacy must, by law, remain classified—is what you made visible. The agony of a monster with nowhere to stand—you are accused of spying on the spies, of invading the privacy of their invasion of privacy—is a truly curious thing.

Read more: A Letter to Edward Snowden | The Nation 

And then Fahd Iraqi, writing about Egypt, at :

A notre petite échelle, nous vivons aussi ce choc des temps. Il y a un décalage entre le temps des citoyens, le temps de l’entreprise, le temps des politiques et le temps de la monarchie. Ils ne sont pas synchro et le risque de collision est omniprésent.

[On our local scale we too live in this shock of time-scales. There's a lag between the time-scales of citizenz, of business, of politics, and of monarchy. They aren't in sync, and the risk of collision is everywhere. ]

Al Gore, in his book The Future, points out that in the 1970s only 3% of retiring congressmen became lobbyists. Now, over 50% of retiring senators, and 40% of retiring congressmen, become lobbyists. Our representative democracy is evolving into an oligarchy of old and defensive insiders, themselves pawns of a Monarchy (money, status, entitlement) which has escaped its own royal house (CEOs, revolving corporate directors) and become enshrined in inertia. It will continue thus until like all objects spinning out of control it flies apart. That will be an interesting day. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Marginalia and loose ends

Villard St. Pancrace, France, July 4—

SEVEN AT NIGHT: a church bell is ringing, for vespers, I suppose. I am at loose ends, having just spent two easy days walking, first from Montgénèvre to Briançon, then to this hameau. The mountains have pretty well cleared my mind, apparently. It's a principal reason I do this, of course. 

My companion is reading about Oppenheimer on his Kindle, and reports he was able — Opp I mean — to quote verbatim the passage about Mlle. Vinteuil challenging her lover to spit on her father's portrait. Of course I have Proust here with me, along with Shakespeare and Moliere and Athena knows who else, but my e-reader search function is unsatisfactory, and I cannot find the passage.

I catch up on Curtis Faville's musings over at The Compass Rose: a fascinating pair of meditations on John Ashbury's marginal notes on Pasternak. It reminds me thAt a couple of years ago I thought I'd start a running commonplace book here: just one of many false starts. Really I feel more like Pessoa every day. 

I particularly liked a formula of Faville's: "the impenetrable idiomatic membrane which insulates separate languages from each other." That has been present these last few days, in spades. Translating and marginal annotation have much in common, I think. They both remind us that meaning, never monogamous as Sontag pointed out, is always elusive, provisional, fugitive, mythic.