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Caring responsibly.

The obsession of the Democrats—the ostensible left-wing! who are on our side! aren’t they?—with nickling and diming and means-testing the shit out of what should be a simple and immediate act of handing every person in the country a wad of money in this time when we’ve been asked to stop working for our own collective good—it’s explained, somewhat, by David Graeber’s notion of a war between administrators and care-givers, which did get stark real fast, didn’t it. (We can take some solace in the administrative bullshit that’s been so quickly swept away, that some small care might be given; we might well quail before the new heights of administrative bullshit to be scaled, even as those who supposedly can’t be helped set out to help themselves. —As for the Republicans, well, they in their cunning at least know enough to look like they’re in favor of what everyone wants, even as they bitterly oppose it.)

Everybody is paying attention.

“Who died on 9/11? It was front-line people and our passengers. Who suffered in the bankruptcies that followed? It was me and my friends. They took our pensions, they slashed our pay by more than 40 percent, diminished our health care, cut our jobs. They put it on our backs. For a lot of people, that meant real personal loss of our homes and cars and stressed marriages and divorces and the pain of telling our kids that they had to do without. We’ve seen this before, and we know exactly what didn’t work. We won’t stand for it again. We won’t let that happen to the rest of the country.” —Sara Nelson For President Now.

Threefold this.

Thing about putting energy out into the world is, all this time we’ve been aching for Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism, we forgot we must also thereby conjure its dialectical shadow, Co-opted Slay-Witch Special Forces Gay Fascism.

Motherland!

Q. Have you ever been to Salem?

A. I have not. But I’ve done a lot of research around the city and I listened to a lot of, like, the local witch podcasts… I love that it’s a sacred place for many people for whom this stuff is very real. I’m kind of remiss in not having visited yet. Once the craziness dies down, I’m going to get myself out there.

Q. Are you going to reverse engineer this story at all? It feels like it could be a book.

A. Yes, ma’am. Because I’m a better writer now. I think I could tackle it. You know, I also tried to do it in a really tough way. I tried to do it as interlocking diary entries for the main three leads. I feel like if I had chosen sort of a more traditional third person, omniscient point of view, I might have been able to get it done. But now I really want to explore because it just seems like it’s a world where you can have so much fun. It’s a really, really good playground for the time we’re living in today.

Capitalism!

“Business Insider Italia explains that even though the original manufacturer was unable to supply the part, it refused to share the relevant 3D file with Fracassi to help him print the valve. It even went so far as to threaten him for patent infringement if he tried to do so on his own. Since lives were at stake, he went ahead anyway, creating the 3D file from scratch. According to the Metro article, he produced an initial batch of ten, and then 100 more, all for free. Fracassi admits that his 3D-printed versions might not be very durable or re-usable. But when it’s possible to make replacements so cheaply—each 3D-printed part costs just one euro, or roughly a dollar—that isn’t a problem. At least it wouldn’t be, except for that threat of legal action, which is also why Fracassi doesn’t dare share his 3D file with other hospitals, despite their desperate need for these valves.”

Capitalism!

“So, this SoftBank-owned patent troll, Fortress, bought up Theranos patents, and then set up this shell company, ‘Labrador Diagnostics,’ which decided that right in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic it was going to sue one of the companies making COVID-19 tests, saying that its test violates those Theranos patents, and literally demanding that the court bar the firm from making those COVID-19 tests.”

A journal of the urn burial.

The text has been set in Tribute, says the colophon, a typeface designed by
 Frank Heine from types cut in the 16th century by Françoise
 Guyot; specifically, a specimen printed around 1565 in the 
Netherlands.

It does no good whatsoever to call it a coincidence, that in my dilatory reading/re-reading of Nevèrÿon, I’ve ended up in the Tale of Plagues and Carnivals right about, well, now, but I have, and it is, and, well.

7.5 Historically the official reaction to plague in Europe was the one described by Defoe in A Journal of the Plague Year (1722): “The government… appointed public prayers and days of fasting and humiliation, [and encouraged the more serious inhabitants] to make public confession of sin and implore the mercy of God to avert the dreadful judgment which hung over their heads… All the plays and interludes which, after the manner of the French Court, had been set up, and began to increase among us, were forbid to act; the gaming-tables, public dancing-rooms, and music- houses, which multiplied and began to debauch the manners of the people, were shut up and suppressed; and the jack-puddings, merry-andrews, puppet-shows, rope-dancers, and such like-doings, which had bewitched the people, shut up their shops, finding indeed no trade; for the minds of the people were agitated with other things, and a kind of sadness and horror at these things sat upon the countenance even of the common people. Death was before their eyes, and everybody began to think of their Grave, not of mirth and diversion.”

Defoe’s last few lines may betray that this is the official interpretation of the response as well as the official proscription: if there was, indeed, “no trade,” why would these merrymakings need to be “forbid,” “shut-up,” and “suppressed”? At any rate, even in Artaud’s conservative schema, once “official theater” is banished during the plague, the reemergence, here and there, of spontaneous theatrical gestures in the demoralized populace at large throughout the city represents, for him, the birth of true and valid art/theater/spectacle.

And there’s everybody trying to make some sort of point by carrying on as if business were usual, going out to the bars and the Red Robins and St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans because we’re Americans and we do what we want no matter what like the coronavirus is some kind of terrorist we refuse to appease, and there’s all those videos of Italian neighborhood serenades, and there’s this, too, from a prior time of plagues and carnivals, when the ratchet managed for once not to crank to the right—

We have been quoting from an article by Hallie Flanagan, national director of the Federal Theater Project, published in the project’s monthly bulletin—a thirty-page mimeographed sheet in which the theater in all its phases comes alive with such force as t

—but there’s also all the photos of nightmarish airport lines, and now I’m thinking about another book with a plague, and a carnival, that wrote the writing of it into itself—

Last week a nightmare. Landed at Dulles and arrested in Immigration. On a list, accused of violating the Hayes-Green Act. Swiss gov’t must have told them I was coming, flight number and everything. What do you mean? I shouted at officious official. I’m an American citizen! I haven’t broken any laws! Such a release to be able to speak my mind in my native tongue—everything pent up from the past weeks spilled out in a rush, I was really furious and shouting at him, and it felt so good but it was a mistake as he took a dislike to me.

Against the law to advocate overthrowing US gov’t.

What do you mean! I’ve never done anything of the kind!

Membership in California Lawyers for the Environment, right? Worked for American Socialist Legal Action Group, right?

So what? We never advocated anything but change!

Smirk of scorn, hatred. He knew he had me.

Got a lawyer but before he arrived they put me through physical and took blood sample. Told to stay in county. Next day told I tested positive for HIV virus. I’m sure this is a lie, Swiss test Ausländer every four months and no problem there, but told to remain county till follow-up tests analyzed. Possessions being held. Quarantine possible if results stay positive.

My lawyer says law is currently being challenged. Meanwhile I’m in a motel near his place. Called Pam and she suggested sending Liddy on to folks in OC so can deal better with things here. Put Liddy on plane this morning, poor girl crying for Pam, me too. Now two days to wait for test results.

Got to work. Got to. At local library, on an old manual typewriter. The book mocks: how can you, little worm crushed in gears, possibly aspire to me? Got to continue nevertheless. In a way it’s all I have left.

The problem of an adequate history bothers me still. I mean not my personal troubles, but the depression, the wars, the AIDS plague. (Fear.) Every day everything a little worse. Twelve years past the millenium, maybe the apocalyptics were just a bit early in their predictions, too tied to numbers. Maybe it just takes a while for the world to end.

Sometimes I read what I’ve written sick with anger, for them it’s all so easy. Oh to really be that narrator, to sit back and write with cool ironic detachment about individual characters and their little lives because those lives really mattered! Utopia is when our lives matter. I see him writing on a hilltop in an Orange County covered with trees, at a table under an olive tree, looking over a garden plain and the distant Pacific shining with sunlight, or on Mars, why not, chronicling how his new world was born out of the healthy fertility of the old earth mother, while I’m stuck here in 2012 with my wife an ocean to the east and my daughter a continent to the west, “enjoined not to leave the county” (the sheriff) and none of our lives matter a damn.

Also, to design a font based on a Renaissance Antiqua had been a long held desire for Heine, who said “I am particularly attracted to its archaic feel, especially with settings in smaller design sizes. It is rougher with less filigree than the types of the following centuries thus exhibiting much cruder craftsmanship of the early printing processes.” By using a third generation copy as a model, which did not reveal much detail, allowed Heine enough room for individual decisions resulting in a decidedly contemporary interpretation while maintaining a link to the past.

When I haven’t been reading Delany, or Robinson, or Eddison, or McKillip, or Macharia, or Warner, or helping to prep our office for mandated telework, or reflexively reloading the Twitter feeds of friends, I’ve been setting the type for the revised paperbacks. It’s something I can do over there, on the big monitor: since the final (final) edits were done on the ebook files, I have to copy and paste the text a section at a time, tweaking the kerning as I go to fix the capricious judgment of the automated hyphenator, and to make sure the widows and orphans are cared for, and it’s peaceful, soothing work, handling the text in those Renaissance Antiqua shapes, re-reading this bit or that as I lay them out, remembering, re-thrilling, re-embarrassed, and I can look up and find an hour or three has passed, at four in the morning, at ten at night, but it’s, well, it’s, things get done, you know? There is a measurable sense of progress. Still. I look over to the other screen, in another window, where something-or-other has maybe been playing, A Knight’s Tale, say, or Hannibal, I mean, I really like his neckties, you know? But under it, behind it, always all around it, those tweets, that news, these people, driving us over a cliff because they will not let go of the wheel. —I have to go and walk to the office in a bit here (avoiding public transportation), making sure the skeleton crew has what it needs to keep up with the physical labor that still must be done (answering phones, scanning the paper mail, handling secure faxes, keeping the computer network up), but until then, I look away, look back, spread the letters of that line apart just enough so that Ysabel’s name isn’t split between Ys- and abel. Too much of that sort of thing catches the eye. Draws you out of the flow. Breaks the spell.

A scattered dynasty of solitary men has changed the face of the world. Their task continues. If our forecasts are not in error, a hundred years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the Second Encyclopedia of Tlön.

Then English and French and mere Spanish will disappear from the globe. The world will be Tlön. I pay no attention to all this and go on revising, in the still days at the Adrogue hotel, an uncertain Quevedian translation (which I do not intend to publish) of Browne’s Urn Burial.

This year, said Thucydides, by confession of all men, was of all other, for other diseases, most free and healthful.

Sufficient unto the day.

Closing the libraries is wildly grim. “The library branches’ WiFi signals will remain turned on for anyone who wants to sit outside a building or in the parking lots,” but, and yet, I mean, well. And still. —One might well note that ebooks are still available; one might well note that the 2019 Library Writers Project selections have just been announced; one might well—but still.

To the right, ever to the right!
Never to the left, forever to the right!

I have been thinking about this a lot. One of the things I am really struggling with right now is that we don’t have a progressive or a Left shock doctrine, as Naomi Klein calls it. The Right has a program in place for how to take advantage of moments like this. When you look at what the junta has done and everything else, this is an opportunity for the wealthy 1 percent of the United States and world to make Puerto Rico into a playground the way Cuba was in the 1940s and 1950s for the U.S. rich. I am terrified we will have an island of Puerto Rico without Puerto Ricans.

To me, the question is: What do we do in the short and medium term that offers some semblance of a shock doctrine for our side? If we are going to rebuild Puerto Rico, how do we do it in a way that is right for the people of Puerto Rico? I have to weigh that with the very immediate concern of needing to get cargo containers with food and necessities that people have. Unfortunately, I don’t have a very good answer for how we meet the short-term need a way that sets up for the future.

Javier Morillo

If the Left and the unions don’t show any leadership during the Coronavirus crisis, the most acute social crisis we’ve faced for a long time, then objectively they’re deferring to the government.

Richard Seymour

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed.

Biggest day in stock market history!

The President would like to share the attached image with you, and passes along the following message: “From opening of press conference, biggest day in stock market history!”

Who said the working folks were scum?
That we were tramps and on the bum?
And that he had us on the run?
Der Chief!

“Today, we are living in the world Jack Welch made, one in which a racist, proto-fascist, self-proclaimed billionaire whose businesses have worked with organized crime figures is president, governing by the New Gilded Age principles of letting business rule itself and eviscerating labor, consumer, and environmental regulations. In fact, while Welch criticized Donald Trump’s chaotic management skills, he also loved how Trump had governed in favor of business and warned that impeaching the president would ‘blow the markets away.’ Impeachment had no impact on the market, but Jack Welch being wrong about America was the cornerstone of his career. His life immeasurably hurt this nation and should not be mourned. Instead, his methods and beliefs should stand for the decline of America in the twenty-first century.” —Erik Loomis

Cancel your subscription.

“Exclusive: For Bernie Sanders, his 1988 trip to the Soviet Union was an effort to build diplomatic ties. For the Soviets, it was the start of a years-long propaganda effort to exploit his antiwar agenda, documents obtained by The New York Times show.”

After 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize political life and the economy through new policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). These policies caused political instability arising from nationalist and separatist movements. In 1989, Soviet-allied states in Eastern Europe were overthrown in a wave of revolutions which ended communist rule.

As part of an attempt to prevent the country’s collapse, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by three republics, that resulted in a majority favoring the preservation of the union as a renewed federation. Gorbachev’s power was greatly diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin‘s high-profile role in facing down a coup d’état by party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned, and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the union. The remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states.

Wikifuckingpedia

The only thing more gobsmacking than the brazenly open who-gives-a-fuck incompetence of it all is how well it’s going to already have been working.

“Bernie Sanders Is Receiving 21 Times As Much Positive Russian Media Coverage As Joe Biden, Analysis Shows.”

And just to prove I’m not some Russian trollfarm bot, here’s a photo of me doing my bit to thwart the Soviets’ years-long 1988 plan to exploit Sanders’ antiwar agenda by helping to TEAR DOWN THIS WALL in December of 1989:

©1989 Tina Manley.

In conclusion, fuck the Times.

If anyone would know...

“You can’t make the good old days come back just by painting pictures of them.” —Norman Rockwell

Gods are made, not born.

“The Market is at once wide and unthinking; it has a superhuman capacity to order the world, and yet it is essentially human in its behavior; it is a force of nature beyond human power and reckoning, yet it can be appeased, argued with, altered, bribed, influenced, redirected, appealed to, etc.; it is amorphous and yet incarnate—though immaterial, it takes on many forms. Our markets are like a cute classical pantheon, a gaggle of mercurial superhuman principalities of the heavens who sprung out of the self-created ancient orders of the universe and then sorta took shit over, although they seem a bit out of their depth actually running things; in their foibles they are more human than human; their appetites are ours, exaggerated; their greater wisdom smells faintly of folly and stupidity; they are more poetical than actual; they are not, in any case, real. Markets are always doing this because of that, responding to injury with injustice, bickering, dithering, making backroom deals—all in all like a bunch of line-graph Greek Gods. I will spare you the image of Paul Krugman at the Bacchanal. The proper way to read this sort of thing is as an installation in a rather dull epic, full of epithets. Volatility remained high, everyone.” —Jacob Bacharach