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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

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2

So the Nineties turned out to be the lie we always said they were. Those gains in productivity? That was from unpaid overtime at Wal-Mart and the high commissions brokers got from the stocks they hyped. The co-prosperity sphere of NAFTA? Mexican jobs went to China, and unemployed Mexicans to America. The popular inevitability and inevitable popularity of free-market views? Try hawking that idea in Brazil or France about now. Already we’re nostalgic for our days as superfluous men and women; a part of our integrity, a part of our dissent, was to be of no use to anyone. Edmund Wilson: “One couldn’t help being exhilarated at the sudden unexpected collapse of that stupid gigantic fraud.” Sure. Still, it was pleasant there for a few years to suspect we might be wrong about everything.

—p.2 A Boom Deferred (1) missing author 1 year ago

So the Nineties turned out to be the lie we always said they were. Those gains in productivity? That was from unpaid overtime at Wal-Mart and the high commissions brokers got from the stocks they hyped. The co-prosperity sphere of NAFTA? Mexican jobs went to China, and unemployed Mexicans to America. The popular inevitability and inevitable popularity of free-market views? Try hawking that idea in Brazil or France about now. Already we’re nostalgic for our days as superfluous men and women; a part of our integrity, a part of our dissent, was to be of no use to anyone. Edmund Wilson: “One couldn’t help being exhilarated at the sudden unexpected collapse of that stupid gigantic fraud.” Sure. Still, it was pleasant there for a few years to suspect we might be wrong about everything.

—p.2 A Boom Deferred (1) missing author 1 year ago
35

[...] Pop does, though, I think, allow you to retain certain things you’ve already thought, without your necessarily having been able to articulate them, and to preserve certain feelings you have only intermittent access to, in a different form, music with lyrics, in which the cognitive and emotional are less divided. I think songs allow you to steel yourself or loosen yourself into certain kinds of actions, though they don’t start anything. And the particular songs and bands you like dictate the beliefs you can preserve and reactivate, and the actions you can prepare—and which songs and careers will shape your inchoate private experience depends on an alchemy of your experience and the art itself. Pop is neither a mirror nor a Rorschach blot, into which you look and see only yourself; nor is it a lecture, an interpretable poem, or an act of simply determinate speech. It teaches something, but only by stimulating and preserving things that you must have had inaugurated elsewhere. Or it prepares the ground for these discoveries elsewhere—often knowledge you might never otherwise have really “known,” except as it could be rehearsed by you, then repeatedly reactivated for you, in this medium.

—p.35 Radiohead, or the Philosophy of Pop (23) by Mark Greif 1 year ago

[...] Pop does, though, I think, allow you to retain certain things you’ve already thought, without your necessarily having been able to articulate them, and to preserve certain feelings you have only intermittent access to, in a different form, music with lyrics, in which the cognitive and emotional are less divided. I think songs allow you to steel yourself or loosen yourself into certain kinds of actions, though they don’t start anything. And the particular songs and bands you like dictate the beliefs you can preserve and reactivate, and the actions you can prepare—and which songs and careers will shape your inchoate private experience depends on an alchemy of your experience and the art itself. Pop is neither a mirror nor a Rorschach blot, into which you look and see only yourself; nor is it a lecture, an interpretable poem, or an act of simply determinate speech. It teaches something, but only by stimulating and preserving things that you must have had inaugurated elsewhere. Or it prepares the ground for these discoveries elsewhere—often knowledge you might never otherwise have really “known,” except as it could be rehearsed by you, then repeatedly reactivated for you, in this medium.

—p.35 Radiohead, or the Philosophy of Pop (23) by Mark Greif 1 year ago
37

In all forms of defiance, a little contingent being, the imperiled man or woman, hangs on to his will—which may be all he has left—by making a deliberate error about his will’s jurisdiction. Because the defiant person has no power to win a struggle, he preserves his will through representations: he shakes his fist, announces his name, shouts a threat, and above all makes the statements, “I am,” “we are.” This becomes even more necessary and risky when the cruel power is not natural, will-less itself, but belongs to other men. Barthes gives the words of the French revolutionist Guadet, arrested and condemned to death: “Yes, I am Guadet. Executioner, do your duty. Go take my head to the tyrants of my country. It has always turned them pale; once severed, it will turn them paler still.” He gives the order, not the tyrant, commanding necessity in his own name—defying the false necessity of human force that has usurped nature’s power—even if he can only command it to destroy him.

—p.37 Radiohead, or the Philosophy of Pop (23) by Mark Greif 1 year ago

In all forms of defiance, a little contingent being, the imperiled man or woman, hangs on to his will—which may be all he has left—by making a deliberate error about his will’s jurisdiction. Because the defiant person has no power to win a struggle, he preserves his will through representations: he shakes his fist, announces his name, shouts a threat, and above all makes the statements, “I am,” “we are.” This becomes even more necessary and risky when the cruel power is not natural, will-less itself, but belongs to other men. Barthes gives the words of the French revolutionist Guadet, arrested and condemned to death: “Yes, I am Guadet. Executioner, do your duty. Go take my head to the tyrants of my country. It has always turned them pale; once severed, it will turn them paler still.” He gives the order, not the tyrant, commanding necessity in his own name—defying the false necessity of human force that has usurped nature’s power—even if he can only command it to destroy him.

—p.37 Radiohead, or the Philosophy of Pop (23) by Mark Greif 1 year ago
37

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REVOLUTION and defiance is the difference between an overthrow of the existing order and one person’s shaken fist. When the former isn’t possible, you still have to hold on to the latter, if only so as to remember you’re human. Defiance is the insistence on individual power confronting overwhelming force that it cannot undo. You know you cannot strike the colossus. But you can defy it with words or signs. In the assertion that you can fight a superior power, the declaration that you will, this absurd overstatement gains dignity by exposing you, however uselessly, to risk. Unable to stop it in its tracks, you dare the crushing power to begin its devastation with you.

—p.37 Radiohead, or the Philosophy of Pop (23) by Mark Greif 1 year ago

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REVOLUTION and defiance is the difference between an overthrow of the existing order and one person’s shaken fist. When the former isn’t possible, you still have to hold on to the latter, if only so as to remember you’re human. Defiance is the insistence on individual power confronting overwhelming force that it cannot undo. You know you cannot strike the colossus. But you can defy it with words or signs. In the assertion that you can fight a superior power, the declaration that you will, this absurd overstatement gains dignity by exposing you, however uselessly, to risk. Unable to stop it in its tracks, you dare the crushing power to begin its devastation with you.

—p.37 Radiohead, or the Philosophy of Pop (23) by Mark Greif 1 year ago
55

I’LL ADMIT IT, the first time I saw two women boxers collapse into each other’s arms after a bout at a recreational boxing show, I thought, isn’t that just like women? But then I saw two men do it ten minutes later, same smiles, same sighs. There are two elemental life functions that we humans think about alternately too little and too much: eating and sex. Men traditionally have had a third, fighting, and it gives them their perspective on the other two. In a woman who has taken on the third, you see a change in attitude that can take many forms. She stops snacking. She stops “dieting.” She forgets to eat. She eats pasta at midnight. She wears sweatpants—a lot. She stops dating. She kisses her biceps. She picks up a man at the gym for a one-night stand; he’s a nice guy, she’ll see him back at the gym Saturday, probably. She comes out of the closet. She gets manhandled by her trainer every day and doesn’t give it a thought. She feels after her first spar the same way she felt after the first time she had sex—inarticulately emotional, disappointed, empty, cynical, with a strange new sense of alignment. Anxious to do it, discover it, again. Now there is a vital third engagement with life, a way to feel one’s body consume and be consumed, to know and be one’s physical self, to excite and exhaust, to touch and be touched, to unleash her power.

—p.55 A Violent Season (41) missing author 1 year ago

I’LL ADMIT IT, the first time I saw two women boxers collapse into each other’s arms after a bout at a recreational boxing show, I thought, isn’t that just like women? But then I saw two men do it ten minutes later, same smiles, same sighs. There are two elemental life functions that we humans think about alternately too little and too much: eating and sex. Men traditionally have had a third, fighting, and it gives them their perspective on the other two. In a woman who has taken on the third, you see a change in attitude that can take many forms. She stops snacking. She stops “dieting.” She forgets to eat. She eats pasta at midnight. She wears sweatpants—a lot. She stops dating. She kisses her biceps. She picks up a man at the gym for a one-night stand; he’s a nice guy, she’ll see him back at the gym Saturday, probably. She comes out of the closet. She gets manhandled by her trainer every day and doesn’t give it a thought. She feels after her first spar the same way she felt after the first time she had sex—inarticulately emotional, disappointed, empty, cynical, with a strange new sense of alignment. Anxious to do it, discover it, again. Now there is a vital third engagement with life, a way to feel one’s body consume and be consumed, to know and be one’s physical self, to excite and exhaust, to touch and be touched, to unleash her power.

—p.55 A Violent Season (41) missing author 1 year ago
72

Schools, in other words, loom larger in the neoliberal imagination than they did in the liberal imagination because schools have become our primary mechanism for convincing ourselves that poor people deserve their poverty. Or, to put the point the other way around, schools have become our primary mechanism for convincing us rich people that we deserve our wealth. Everybody gets that people who go to elite schools have a sizable economic advantage over people who don’t; that’s one reason why people want to go to them. And as long as the elite schools are open to anybody who’s smart enough and/or hardworking enough to get into them, we see no injustice in reaping their benefits. It’s OK if schools are technologies for producing inequality as long as they are also technologies for justifying it. But the justification will work only if, as the Crimson hopefully asserts, there really are rich people and poor people at Harvard. If there really aren’t, if it’s your wealth (or your family’s wealth) that makes it possible for you to get into the elite school in the first place, then of course the real source of your success is not the fact that you went to an elite school but the fact that your parents were rich enough to give you the kind of preparation that got you admitted to the elite school. And if going to Harvard is more a reflection of your family’s wealth than it is of your merit, if it’s a sign of privilege rather than a cause of it, then of course the legitimating effect disappears. So the real point of eliminating the unneeded class differences at Harvard is to conceal the needed ones, the ones that got all the kids from the top quarter into Harvard in the first place. The function of the (very few) poor people at Harvard is to reassure the (very many) rich people at Harvard that you can’t just buy your way into Harvard.

—p.72 The Neoliberal Imagination (69) missing author 1 year ago

Schools, in other words, loom larger in the neoliberal imagination than they did in the liberal imagination because schools have become our primary mechanism for convincing ourselves that poor people deserve their poverty. Or, to put the point the other way around, schools have become our primary mechanism for convincing us rich people that we deserve our wealth. Everybody gets that people who go to elite schools have a sizable economic advantage over people who don’t; that’s one reason why people want to go to them. And as long as the elite schools are open to anybody who’s smart enough and/or hardworking enough to get into them, we see no injustice in reaping their benefits. It’s OK if schools are technologies for producing inequality as long as they are also technologies for justifying it. But the justification will work only if, as the Crimson hopefully asserts, there really are rich people and poor people at Harvard. If there really aren’t, if it’s your wealth (or your family’s wealth) that makes it possible for you to get into the elite school in the first place, then of course the real source of your success is not the fact that you went to an elite school but the fact that your parents were rich enough to give you the kind of preparation that got you admitted to the elite school. And if going to Harvard is more a reflection of your family’s wealth than it is of your merit, if it’s a sign of privilege rather than a cause of it, then of course the legitimating effect disappears. So the real point of eliminating the unneeded class differences at Harvard is to conceal the needed ones, the ones that got all the kids from the top quarter into Harvard in the first place. The function of the (very few) poor people at Harvard is to reassure the (very many) rich people at Harvard that you can’t just buy your way into Harvard.

—p.72 The Neoliberal Imagination (69) missing author 1 year ago
74

And just as the benefits of status presume the irrelevance of material inequality, so do its injustices. When you think your real problem is not that people have more money than you but that the people who have more money condescend to you, your problem is status. And when the solution to your problem is (as Sennett recommends) “mutual respect across the boundaries of inequality” (i.e., no more condescending), you have the imaginative world of neoliberalism, the world in which it’s OK for a few people to be rich and a lot of people to be poor but where it’s definitely not OK to make anyone feel bad about being poor, where it’s important above all to remember that there’s nothing wrong with being poor, and where, as Lee’s mom says, “being rich doesn’t make you a better person.” Indeed, the very thing wrong with the liberal elite—the thing, at least, that right-wing neoliberals like Wolfe and David Brooks are always taking them to task for—is that they think being rich does make them better people, or that being better people is what made them rich. But the reality, as Brooks puts it, is that in America, “nobody is better, nobody is worse.” Thus his famous comparison of the differences in American life to those in a high school cafeteria, divided into nerds, freaks, jocks, et cetera—they’re not classes, they’re “cliques.” Sure, the jocks have a higher status, but they’re not really better than the freaks, and just as the jocks shouldn’t be boastful, the freaks shouldn’t be resentful. The jocks shouldn’t be bullies; the freaks shouldn’t bring their Kalashnikovs to school.

On this model, then, class is turned into clique, and once the advantages of class are redescribed as the advantages of status, we get the recipe for what we might call right-wing egalitarianism: Respect the Poor. Which is also, as it turns out, the recipe for left-wing egalitarianism. Where the neoliberal right likes status instead of class, the neoliberal left likes culture, and the diversity version of Respect the Poor is Respect the Other. The Other is different from you and me but, just like Brooks says, neither better nor worse. That’s why multiculturalism could go from proclaiming itself a subversive politics to taking up its position as a corporate management technology in about ten minutes and without having to make the slightest adjustment in its most radical claims—Americans belong to many cultures, not one; all cultures are equal and should be equally respected. What CEO doesn’t prefer respecting his employees’ culture to paying them a living wage?

damn this is good

—p.74 The Neoliberal Imagination (69) missing author 1 year ago

And just as the benefits of status presume the irrelevance of material inequality, so do its injustices. When you think your real problem is not that people have more money than you but that the people who have more money condescend to you, your problem is status. And when the solution to your problem is (as Sennett recommends) “mutual respect across the boundaries of inequality” (i.e., no more condescending), you have the imaginative world of neoliberalism, the world in which it’s OK for a few people to be rich and a lot of people to be poor but where it’s definitely not OK to make anyone feel bad about being poor, where it’s important above all to remember that there’s nothing wrong with being poor, and where, as Lee’s mom says, “being rich doesn’t make you a better person.” Indeed, the very thing wrong with the liberal elite—the thing, at least, that right-wing neoliberals like Wolfe and David Brooks are always taking them to task for—is that they think being rich does make them better people, or that being better people is what made them rich. But the reality, as Brooks puts it, is that in America, “nobody is better, nobody is worse.” Thus his famous comparison of the differences in American life to those in a high school cafeteria, divided into nerds, freaks, jocks, et cetera—they’re not classes, they’re “cliques.” Sure, the jocks have a higher status, but they’re not really better than the freaks, and just as the jocks shouldn’t be boastful, the freaks shouldn’t be resentful. The jocks shouldn’t be bullies; the freaks shouldn’t bring their Kalashnikovs to school.

On this model, then, class is turned into clique, and once the advantages of class are redescribed as the advantages of status, we get the recipe for what we might call right-wing egalitarianism: Respect the Poor. Which is also, as it turns out, the recipe for left-wing egalitarianism. Where the neoliberal right likes status instead of class, the neoliberal left likes culture, and the diversity version of Respect the Poor is Respect the Other. The Other is different from you and me but, just like Brooks says, neither better nor worse. That’s why multiculturalism could go from proclaiming itself a subversive politics to taking up its position as a corporate management technology in about ten minutes and without having to make the slightest adjustment in its most radical claims—Americans belong to many cultures, not one; all cultures are equal and should be equally respected. What CEO doesn’t prefer respecting his employees’ culture to paying them a living wage?

damn this is good

—p.74 The Neoliberal Imagination (69) missing author 1 year ago
76

For neoliberals, in other words, it’s prejudice not poverty that counts as the problem, and if, at the heart of the liberal imagination, as Trilling understood it, was the desire not to have to think about class difference, then at the heart of the neoliberal imagination is the desire not to have to get rid of class difference. Sometimes that desire takes the form of pretending class doesn’t exist (no maid service in the dorms); more often it takes the form of pretending it does exist (there are rich students and poor students at Harvard). Almost always it takes the form of insisting that class doesn’t matter; that, like Lee’s mom says, being rich doesn’t make you a better person. Of course it might be objected that, when it comes to being healthier, safer, freer, and happier, being rich does indeed make you better and a more just society would imagine a more just distribution of money, health, safety, and freedom. But the politics of the neoliberal imagination involve respecting the poor, not getting rid of poverty—eliminating inequality without redistributing wealth. And until that changes, our best hope for economic egalitarianism would seem to be the recently announced spike in theft on the subways, due, the transit police say, to kids stealing iPods from (we can hope) the graduates of universities like Duke, which has started giving them away free to Charlotte Simmons and her classmates.

—p.76 The Neoliberal Imagination (69) missing author 1 year ago

For neoliberals, in other words, it’s prejudice not poverty that counts as the problem, and if, at the heart of the liberal imagination, as Trilling understood it, was the desire not to have to think about class difference, then at the heart of the neoliberal imagination is the desire not to have to get rid of class difference. Sometimes that desire takes the form of pretending class doesn’t exist (no maid service in the dorms); more often it takes the form of pretending it does exist (there are rich students and poor students at Harvard). Almost always it takes the form of insisting that class doesn’t matter; that, like Lee’s mom says, being rich doesn’t make you a better person. Of course it might be objected that, when it comes to being healthier, safer, freer, and happier, being rich does indeed make you better and a more just society would imagine a more just distribution of money, health, safety, and freedom. But the politics of the neoliberal imagination involve respecting the poor, not getting rid of poverty—eliminating inequality without redistributing wealth. And until that changes, our best hope for economic egalitarianism would seem to be the recently announced spike in theft on the subways, due, the transit police say, to kids stealing iPods from (we can hope) the graduates of universities like Duke, which has started giving them away free to Charlotte Simmons and her classmates.

—p.76 The Neoliberal Imagination (69) missing author 1 year ago
77

In 1994, I was 19 years old. I’d dropped out of college. I had a job parking cars at a hospital in downtown Louisville. I lived in a one-room apartment and my neighbor beat on his wife. He beat her pretty loud.

One night I called the cops. The switchboard operator said: Is he still whipping her? If he’s not whipping her when we get there, we can’t just take him in. Unless she files a complaint. And she won’t do that.

No ma’am.

That’s right. Now you wait until he’s beating her real good and you’re sure he’s going to keep on her for some ten or fifteen minutes. That way when we get there we can haul his ass to jail. Otherwise we leave him. He’s going to think she called us. And he’s going to kill her. I mean to death. And that’s on you. You understand that?

Later that week, I was trying to get some sleep. His wife was crying. The children were crying. Something, maybe a lamp, broke against the wall. I’d gotten hammered on red wine. I don’t know what I was thinking when I stumbled through the backyard and around our building to their apartment, and I didn’t have to find out: a thin man I’d never seen before was already standing there, knocking on their door with his left hand. His right hand held a gigantic revolver.

He looked at me and smiled. You’re a good boy, he said, but go on, now.

I went back to my apartment and I turned up the record player as loud as it would go. Pharoah Sanders and Roy Haynes. Pretty loud.

i love how spare this writing is

—p.77 John Thomas and Lady Jane (77) missing author 1 year ago

In 1994, I was 19 years old. I’d dropped out of college. I had a job parking cars at a hospital in downtown Louisville. I lived in a one-room apartment and my neighbor beat on his wife. He beat her pretty loud.

One night I called the cops. The switchboard operator said: Is he still whipping her? If he’s not whipping her when we get there, we can’t just take him in. Unless she files a complaint. And she won’t do that.

No ma’am.

That’s right. Now you wait until he’s beating her real good and you’re sure he’s going to keep on her for some ten or fifteen minutes. That way when we get there we can haul his ass to jail. Otherwise we leave him. He’s going to think she called us. And he’s going to kill her. I mean to death. And that’s on you. You understand that?

Later that week, I was trying to get some sleep. His wife was crying. The children were crying. Something, maybe a lamp, broke against the wall. I’d gotten hammered on red wine. I don’t know what I was thinking when I stumbled through the backyard and around our building to their apartment, and I didn’t have to find out: a thin man I’d never seen before was already standing there, knocking on their door with his left hand. His right hand held a gigantic revolver.

He looked at me and smiled. You’re a good boy, he said, but go on, now.

I went back to my apartment and I turned up the record player as loud as it would go. Pharoah Sanders and Roy Haynes. Pretty loud.

i love how spare this writing is

—p.77 John Thomas and Lady Jane (77) missing author 1 year ago
157

[...] And supporters of “free markets” don’t argue from morality anyway; they short-circuit any such soft-headed appeals by claiming with the sobriety of the realist that markets simply function better. Everyone knows the catechism: markets are the most efficient, predictable, and stable distribution system.

The economist Albert Hirschman calls this his discipline’s “reactionary thesis”: that any other attempt besides markets to organize distribution will fail. According to this thesis, non-market systems may have “all the theories of virtue,” but they only result in “all the consequences of vice.” Yet Titmuss’s account of the privatized segments of the American system demonstrated that it was not only morally debased. Compared to the British voluntary system, commercial markets in blood are less efficient (they lead to more lawsuits), more dangerous (they result in unsafe collection methods), and more wasteful (blood stores are not regulated by hospitals’ needs). Never mind idealism; markets aren’t always the best, fairest, and most efficient methods of distribution, as Americans in need of health care can these days discover for themselves.

—p.157 On Freakonomics (152) missing author 1 year ago

[...] And supporters of “free markets” don’t argue from morality anyway; they short-circuit any such soft-headed appeals by claiming with the sobriety of the realist that markets simply function better. Everyone knows the catechism: markets are the most efficient, predictable, and stable distribution system.

The economist Albert Hirschman calls this his discipline’s “reactionary thesis”: that any other attempt besides markets to organize distribution will fail. According to this thesis, non-market systems may have “all the theories of virtue,” but they only result in “all the consequences of vice.” Yet Titmuss’s account of the privatized segments of the American system demonstrated that it was not only morally debased. Compared to the British voluntary system, commercial markets in blood are less efficient (they lead to more lawsuits), more dangerous (they result in unsafe collection methods), and more wasteful (blood stores are not regulated by hospitals’ needs). Never mind idealism; markets aren’t always the best, fairest, and most efficient methods of distribution, as Americans in need of health care can these days discover for themselves.

—p.157 On Freakonomics (152) missing author 1 year ago