I Was Wrong

In Paris, Trump met with the Ukrainian president Poroshenko and didn’t have a meeting with Putin. It’s not even a blip on the radar of anybody in the US, and rightfully so, but in Ukraine it’s a mega big deal.

I can’t believe I bought into all this garbage, two years ago, about Trump being Putin’s agent. I actually suffered. Worried about it.

On the positive side, I very easily accept when I was wrong. It’s very good not to be narcissistically injured in a way that requires inhabiting a world of fantasy to maintain a sense of self.

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Irrelevant

Everyone in Silicon Valley is focused on building the future, Mr. Harari continued, while most of the world’s people are not even needed enough to be exploited. “Now you increasingly feel that there are all these elites that just don’t need me,” he said. “And it’s much worse to be irrelevant than to be exploited.”

It is becoming less clear why the ruling elite would not just kill the new useless class. “You’re totally expendable,” he told the audience.

Because they haven’t yet completely persuaded themselves that the useless class consists of the bigoted Nazi types who want to destroy everything good in the world. They are still at the stage of creating that narrative.

This Harari fellow is simply retelling what much smarter people said long before him (Sennett, in particular) but people are responding because it rings true.

We hear a lot about “replacement fears” these days. This is their origin. They are hardly crazy.

Scary in Education

Why is it that the most unstable, creepy folks in academia are always in education? The lady at the link has a degree of narcissistic woundedness that might one day lead to shooting up a departmental meeting. I’m joking but it’s quite disturbing to realize that there are people who perceive any casual comment by a stranger with this degree of intensity.

Book Notes: Ramirez Heredia’s La Mara

The Mara is, of course, MS-13, the Salvadoran gang you must have heard about on the news. Rafael Ramírez Heredia was a Mexican writer (he died several years ago), and it’s absolutely unbelievable to me that I’ve never heard of him before because he was a genius. I’m starting to wonder if the way I was taught Latin American literature was wrong because I never even heard of these wonderful authors – Ramirez Heredia, Castellanos Moya – that I’m reading now.

The novel takes place on the banks of the Suchiate River, which is a natural border between Guatemala and Mexico. Crossing Suchiate is what many migrants have to do to get from Guatemala, Salvador, and Honduras into Mexico and then the US. The novel’s characters are migrants, border guards, inhabitants of the border region, gangsters of MS-13 and their victims, prostitutes who work in the border brothels, human traffickers, drug addicts, members and founders of religious cults, and everybody else who is drawn to the fluidity of the border.

If I worked somewhere on either coast of the country, I wouldn’t be able to teach this novel without issuing trigger warnings before every sentence. (And here where I am I can’t teach it for other reasons.) It’s a novel about MS-13, so obviously nobody expects rainbows and unicorns. The novel depicts horrific violence and total degradation that exist on the border. Once again, this is a border between Guatemala and Mexico. The US appears in the novel as a focus of vague fantasies about big houses, expensive clothes, and relaxing beach vacations that beckon the migrants at the end of the journey.

The novel is long, complicated, difficult to read because of all the Central American slang that I’m not very familiar with. But it’s worth every effort and more.

It feels like I spent years reading crap and thinking that was Latin American literature. I read endless Eltit, Valenzuela, Sarduy, Boullosa, Poniatowska, even Allende and Rosario Ferre as an undergrad – and more and more, right into infinity. Hated all this repetitive shit. And now I’m discovering real Latin American literature. It’s like, where the ef was I this entire time and why did nobody tell me?

In short, great novel. Totally worth learning Spanish from scratch just to read it. I think there is a movie loosely based on the novel but I imagine it’s total garbage.

Unserious

Antifa flatter themselves that they are what stands between the United States and fascism or Nazism. This is, obviously, absurd. It’s pure tribalism: President Obama authorized the extrajudicial killing of American citizens as a national-security measure; President Trump is an angry tweeter. But it is the latter rather than the former that apparently presages the rise of a Falange Americana. That is how you know that this is a fundamentally unserious point of view.

Yeah. . . We all saw the photos coming out of Yemen. They are horrific. And it wasn’t Trump but our wonderful, non-racist president Obama who contributed to making that happen. If it were Trump, we’d be hearing that he’s genociding “brown people” on purpose because he’s such a Nazi.

I understand the desire to spice up one’s sated life with fantasies that one is saving the planet by posting crap on Facebook. I wouldn’t have any beef with it if only people didn’t start co-opting words like Nazism, fascism, and totalitarianism for the purposes of increasing their enjoyment of this game.

Superior Elephant Gropers

But the blind folks who are palpating the elephant and honestly trying to figure out what it is are not the worst.

The worst are those who feel morally superior to the people who are groping a different part of the animal. This sense of superiority is a sad little defense of people who want to convince themselves that they can either ingratiate themselves with fluidity or shore themselves up against it.