the wonders of good writing

February 5, 2007

Before we get to the word of the day, i want to take a look at some brilliant literary theory (I really hope I’m being facetious). I actually took a class with this author (who shall remain nameless), and I’m happy to report that s/he does lecture a bit more coherently than s/he writes, although not by much.

“Prior to this translation, another translation–the unsettling disruption of localization–was already occurring, taking place in the language of the so-called original. In turn, the (secondary, revealing) translation as the inscription of a determinable location constituted a response to the prior translation, to an indeterminacy that had already translated the reader onto another place, a place which was not one, and that withdrew from localization as it enabled and even provoked the very attempt at localization, at translation. ”

Why do I bring this up? Compare said theorist’s incoherent ramblings with James Joyce’s bizarre neologism, “contransmagnifandjewbangtantiality.” Unlike the passage I just cited, it’s possible to make sense of Joyce’s stupefying concoction. Here’s Joseph Campbell’s take, which I find convincing. The first syllable (con) and the last five (tiality) evoke “consubstantiality,” the idea that God and Jesus are one, of the same substance. At the same time, “trans” and “tantiality” evoke transubstantiation. The Annotated Ulyesses finds (less satisfying) explanations for “magnific” (magnificat, Mary’s Thanksgiving song in Luke)  “Jew” (a reminder of Jesus’ birth, and rejection) and “bang” (controversial origins of christianity–i don’t get that one either).

It’s amazing how a great writer manages to make complete sense even during his/her obfuscations.

rudygiuliani2.jpgTo the delight of political humorists everywhere, possible Republican and known fascist Rudy Giuliani is joining the fray today. Due to his sordid and decidedly amoral background, Giuliani’s candidacy is the stuff of dreams for opposition researchers everywhere. For us on the sidelines, though, we will get to witness the modern spectacle of utter public humiliation; the politics of personal destruction at its finest. Talking heads will ask: is America ready for the Dandy Presidency? Religious fundies will scream about Satanism while liberals will moan about all the homeless people he and his brownshirts clubbed to death like so many baby seals. This will be the sort of historic moment you would tell your grandkids about, except that it will likely be far too raunchy for their sensitive young minds (and you’re far too good of a grandparent).

The only thing that is going to top Giuliani’s foppish escapades will be when Bill Clinton’s latest affair is finally uncovered.

Primary Primer: Democrats

February 5, 2007

A quick overview for you political novices out there.


Democratic primaries have tended to be chaotic, no-holds barred affairs. Front runners get targeted early and often don’t make it to the finish line. 2000 and 2004 were atypical historically, but perhaps they represent a new trend towards placidity. While the West Wing scenario is implausibly tumultuous, it is not that far off from real world experiences in 1972, 1984, 1988, and 1992. Will 2008 revert to the mean? Or do Democrats have better control over their process?

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