July 12, 2006

Super behind on notating reading. What I wanted to say was that when I read Mike Davis's Planet of the Slums I couldn't stop reading it. So addictive. It has that wonderful intellectual journalism quality of readability and synthesis of a lot of various people's research. A lot of it is stuff you already know probably: there are more slums all the time. But the global reach of the book is stunningly interesting and feels weirdly freeing, despite its subject. (Why does the wide angle view feel so helpful? Does it have something to with the brain?) Also stuff I didn't know. Like he says that since the 1990s there has been no free space in the slums. That even those people sleeping on sidewalks are paying someone (the police? the owner of the building that is next to the sidewalk? etc.). I missed though the discussion on Pentecostals that was in the article that was originally published in New Left Review. Maybe it shows up in the avian flu book?

Then reading and rereading Judith Butler's Giving an Account of Oneself. Especially the first chapter. Rooted in European theory (Foucault, Levinas, Adorno, Cavarero). It is clearly about, even though it only vaguely and in round about ways mentions it, what it means to be a citizen of a nation that is so much at war. And also the question of how do we account for our self when so much violence is done in our name. I've been rewriting some work on Rosmarie Waldrop's A Key Into the Language of America and I'm finding this idea of how we give an account super helpful for explaining some of the things that I haven't been able to make sense of in that work.

This afternoon, came home and had a few hours, so read Francis Mulhern, "Conrad's Diavowals" and Peter Wollen, "Necessary Love" in latest New Left Review. The Wollen promised to be about "Liberation from bourgeois marriage, central radical demand from Sand and Kollontai to Piercy, is subsumed in the age of global capital by calls for same-sex property rights. Wollen's unmade film treatment celebrates loves unsanctified by church or state--de Beauvoir's relationships with Sartre and Algren." (That is from those few sentences that NLR gives on table of contents page.) The piece is a somewhat sweet "film treatment" (I guess that is right word). Not sure it celebrates love unsanctified though. It ends with Sartre saying to de Beauvoir "we are together again" and Algren checking into a single room in a hotel, then getting in the elevator and as the door closes on him a voice over of Sartre and de Beauvoir "pledging themselves to their necessary love." Can't I get one film or novel, I'd settle for a short story even, where a threesome ends happily? Still though tantalized the idea of the series of films on love triangles that Wollen wrote treatments for that never got made: "Each was to have a woman at its apex: De Beauvoir, with Algren and Sartre; Kahlo, with Trotsky and Rivera; Spielrein, with Jung and Freud."

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