Rogueish

The Inspired Voyage of Patrick Leigh Fermor by Daniel Mendelsohn

07/22/14

Small wonder that a salient feature of Leigh Fermor’s style is the long list, that most unconstructed of devices. His penchant for lengthy enumerations confirms your suspicion that what delights this writer is the sheer abundance in the world of things for him to look at and learn about. Mani memorably opens with one such enumeration, in this case of the varieties of Greek communities throughout the world (to which the author hopes to add a group of Jews who, he has heard, live in the Mani):

I thought of the abundance of strange communities: the scattered Bektashi and the Rufayan, the Mevlevi dervishes of the Tower of the Winds, the Liaps of Souli, the Pomaks of the Rhodope, the Kizilbashi near Kechro, the Fire-Walkers of Mavrolevki, the Lazi from the Pontic shores,…the phallus-wielding Bounariots of Tyrnavos, the Karamandlides of Cappadocia, the Tzakones of the Argolic gulf,… the Basilian Monks,…both Idiorrhythmic and Cenobitic, the anchorites of Mt. Athos, the Chiots of Bayswater and the Guards’ Club,…the Shqip-speaking Atticans of Sfax,…the exaggerators and the ghosts of Mykonos, the Karagounides of the Thessalian plain,…the princes and boyars of Moldowallachia, the Ralli Brothers of India,…the lepers of Spinalonga…—if all these, to name a few, why not the crypto-Jews of the Taygetus?

There is an incantatory charm about such accumulations that, among other things, neutralizes the critical faculty. I have read this book three times—it is by far his best, a work in which the author’s high style finds an appropriate correlative in the piratical dash of his favorite region’s inhabitants—and have still never bothered to find out just who the “exaggerators of Mykonos” might be.

I always thought it was weird, back when the OOO people were really into these long heterogeneous lists, which they called “Latour litanies”, that they were so uncurious about the history and rhetorical operation of the trope. But perhaps the lack of a critical appraisal was the rhetorical point all along.

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When microbes kill us, it‘s often by accident – Ed Yong – Aeon

07/21/14

Many of the pathogens we fear most are mere tourists on the human body. Their real homes are oceans, caves, or soils. To understand them, we need to understand them within their natural ecology. Soil, for example, is an extreme habitat for a microbe: harsh and constantly changing. It can quickly oscillate from flood to drought, from scalding heat to freezing cold, and total darkness to intense solar radiation. It’s rife with other competing microbes, and crawling with hungry predators. We fear lions and tigers and bears; bacteria have to contend with phage viruses, nematode worms, and predatory amoebas.

This is a really nice piece just in terms of, like, writing as a craft. It takes one straightforward but engaging idea, expands on it imaginatively, and writes about it with verve.

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Listening diary

07/16/14

Yesterday when I sat down to start work I saw, in fairly quick succession, an email from a colleague asking me to proofread something, and tomewing's post about the Harkive listening diary project. Proofreading requires consistent attention to detail but is also quite boring, which I find requires a carefully calibrated form of distraction. So, a day of proofreading is also a day of listening to a bunch of music, which I thought make my listening yesterday interesting enough to take the effort of recording.

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07/13/14

Mrs Sowler answered loud enough to be heard above the hum of talking in the sixpenny places. “I was having a drop of gin, and I saw the paper at the public-house. I’m one of the discontented poor. I hate rich people; and I’m ready to pay my sixpence to hear them abused.”

― Wilkie Collins, The Fallen Leaves.

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07/11/14

Frog ran up the path to Toad’s house. He knocked on the front door. There was no answer.
“Toad, Toad,” shouted Frog, “wake up. It is spring!”
“Blah,” said a voice from inside the house.

― Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad are Friends

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Bad News

07/07/14

The idea that TV and advertising brainwash most people into compliance conveniently casts artists and intellectuals as the enlightened conscience of the population. It is a politics that combines left-liberalism (“capitalism can be fixed!”) with vaguely Leninist vanguardism (“…and we are the only ones who can do it!”). That might be fine if this self-appointed vanguard had any traction, but instead many leftists spend their time wringing their hands over the failure of ordinary people to take action. That this is understood as primarily a matter of the political strategy of something called “the left” rather than the triumph of a brutal and well-resourced capitalist class is both an ongoing mystery and the raw material of many careers in art, academia, and punditry.

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Between Parts

07/06/14

The aristocratic class rule through the will: an exercising of will that take the form of the deprivation of others of a will of their own, treating others as servers, in the case of handmaids, as hands, in the case of footmen, as feet. 

Ahmed’s recent work on will is exciting just in its own terms, of course, but it feels particularly urgent now, when there’s a move from some left-wing political theorists towards a surprisingly uninterrogated idea of collective will as a supposed basis for emancipatory politics.

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07/04/14

I went to visit my sister in Newcastle last week. Newcastle is a long way north (further north than main inhabited bits of Canada, latitude fans), so this time of year it doesn’t really get properly dark. As I headed home in the early twilight of a bit past 10, I thought about how much these long days shaped my experience of summer growing up, and also that, as I vaguely kept track over the past few months of potential “summer songs”, I’d been subconsciously soundtracking this meteorology. So here’s a series of songs for long days, for when a lazy summer afternoon turns into an increasingly intensifying, and never-ending, evening.

  1. Sabi - “Cali Love (feat. Tyga)”
  2. Love Dollhouse - “Can I”
  3. Little Mix - “Move”
  4. Cher Lloyd - “M.F.P.O.T.Y”
  5. Girls’ Generation - “Beep Beep”
  6. 2NE1 - “Happy”
  7. Sky Ferreira - “You’re not the One”
  8. Shakira - “Can’t Remember to Forget You (feat. Rihanna)”
  9. Michelle Williams - “Say Yes (feat. Beyoncé & Kelly Rowland)”
  10. Cheryl Cole - “Crazy Stupid Love (feat. Tinie Tempah)”
  11. The Saturdays - “What are you Waiting For?”
  12. Little Nikki - “Right Before my Eyes (feat. DJ S.K.T)”
  13. Katy B - “Blue Eyes”
  14. Florrie - “Free Falling”
  15. Nicole Scherzinger - “Your Love”
  16. Kiesza - “Hideaway”
  17. Robyn & Röyksopp - “Do it Again”
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06/27/14

I didn’t think Chennai Express was a very good film, but Deepika Padukone is fantastic in it. She manages to make an incredibly thinly-written character completely compelling by portraying a huge range of emotions through different way of rolling her eyes.

(Source: we-heart-bollywood)

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06/27/14

Prodigal beyond measure
neutral beyond measure
with no purpose or conscience
with no compassion or fairness
fertile and desolate and uncertain all at once

― Taylor Swift

(Source: giannis-antetokounmpo)

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