It’s curious that people who think there’s nothing better than complete liberation of an individual (aka a desiring subject) from all constraints are the same ones who worry about the planet’s resources being depleted. And the people who don’t give a crap about the global warming or finite resources are waging a quixotic battle to resist this complete liberation of desiring consumers. 

The most interesting question all of us should answer is where each of us believes the barrier to the desiring individual’s freedom should be. And who or what should place and maintain that barrier. God is no longer there to do that even for the very religious. The state is retreating from the task. The community has crumbled away. Where will the subjectivity that recognizes barriers come from? 

Book Notes: Thanksgiving Reading

Here is what I’ve read over and since Thanksgiving:

Jane Robins’ White Bodies – I like British mysteries because their authors don’t try to make at least one character into an idealized goody-goody person that readers will want to identity with. This novel’s characters are all utterly disgusting and creepy. The novel itself is a total mess. But it’s an enjoyable, mindless read for the holidays, especially if you have a very strong stomach because eww, disgusting perversions of incestuous nature. I won’t read anything by this author again but I had a good time with this one.

Sophie Hannah’s Keep Her Safe – maybe not her best because it’s a standalone but Hannah is a profound person, if a bit given to indulging in a about Americans. A good, intense mystery with its own cast of deeply unlikeable characters.

As for more serious stuff, I read Joseba Zulaika’s brilliant 2006 essay The Dust of ETA. It’s the best, most intelligent and deep thing I have read on ETA so far. The only thing I didn’t like was the epilogue because it was repetitive, reductive, and needlessly weepy. But the analysis of nationalism in the age of post-nation state is superb. 

These days I’m all about Basques and murder mysteries. I have no idea where the Basque obsession is coming from. It’s nationalism, I guess. I want to keep talking about it but the Catalan literature is leaving me cold. Which is obviously my limitation and not the Catalonians’.

What’s the Strategy?

So Trump is trying to block the merger between AT&T and Time Warner? In our language, that means he’s in favor of net neutrality, right? OK, what do we do now? Are we now against net neutrality? Or are we not noticing? Or going all “fascist! assault on freedom of speech!”? Or saying “yes but it’s because of evil reasons”? 

‘Tis the Season

I didn’t grow up here, so holiday traditions are unknown to me. I can’t rely on my childhood experience to make holidays right for Klara. I wish there were a handbook titled, “For Immigrant Parents of American Kids” with checklists for every holiday and age group.

For instance, I just discovered that you are supposed to take a kid to visit something called “Mall Santa.” And the best local one just retired, plunging parents into despair. So now that I’m aware of the tradition, I’m on it, looking for Mall Santas in the area and googling the details of the tradition.

Is there anything else I’m supposed to do around Christmas? We have the lights, the tree, and the stockings. I also know that you need to leave milk and cookies for Santa. I know about elves on shelves and love the idea but Klara is probably too little.

At least, nobody has tried to make the date of Christmas fluid, like they do with Halloween.