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Blog entries on '08 December 2005'

Thursday 08 December 2005

Traité d'Athéologie

The most interesting title I pulled from the TLS Books of the year list was one of William Boyd's choices: Michel Onfray's Traité d'Athéologie (Grasset). This'll test my French to its limits! Seems both saddening and strange that atheism should need reaffirming in the 21st Century, but it certainly does. Onfray says the book was born out of "d'une indignation et d'une urgence":

trois siècles après le triomphe des « Lumières », et un siècle après la loi de séparation de l'Eglise et de l'Etat, le politique et le religieux soient encore si inextricablement mêlés dans nos sociétés prétendument laïques et démocratiques.

Puts me in mind of Shelley: Resolute Reader talking about Paul Foot (who wrote Red Shelley):

Shelley was also driven by a militant atheism that meant he was ostracised by the rest of the establishment he was from, during his lifetime. But it’s an atheism at the heart of some of his best poetry. This atheism meant that he clashed with all those who believed that the poor deserved to be poor, or were poor because of their own making. So Shelley was driven by a desire to both illuminate the world and change it.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 08 December 2005

The dream of concrete utopia

The Paris Group of the Surrealist Movement have issued an interesting and provocative statement:

In a society in which all previous forms of belonging, and therefore of associated consciousness, have been wiped out, these events testify to the eruptive and uncontrollable return of the social question, firstly under an immediately negative form, that fire—emblem of all apocalypses— symbolizes. Indeed, unlike the rebellions in Los Angeles in 1965 and in 1992, the population of the districts here did not massively join the rioters. And in contrast to May ‘68 neither poetry nor brilliant ideas are on the barricades. No wildcat strike is going to spread widely with these troubles. But the rulers have been give a good hotfoot and have been forced to unmask themselves.

In a flash, such warning lights have revealed—during these November nights—the return of a possibility that seemed to be lost: that of throwing power into a panic even when its forces are harassed in a disorganized manner through the whole territory by a handful of forsaken social casualties. From now on, we can imagine the strength of an uprising that would—beyond the inhabitants of the ghettos—include the whole population suffering from the rise of impoverishment, and would turn into civil war against the organs of capital and the state.

Beyond recent infernos presented as the very image of a nightmare, it is time that the dream of concrete utopia is raised anew.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 08 December 2005

Much more than a diary

Yesterday, I mentioned the fact that a really lovely diary cum planner had arrived from the good folk at Today in Literature. But "diary" really does sell it short: it contains 52 full-length TinL articles and really is very special. Go on - get one for y'mam!

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 08 December 2005

More on Google

Nikesh Arora, vice-president of European operations for Google has an op-ed piece (at least, that's what those Amerkans call them) in today's Financial Times:

The challenge is that most of the information in the world is not yet online, which makes it impossible to find unless you know exactly what to look for -­ and where. In this process, Google accepts that what its partners and customers see as opportunities, critics might see as threats.

Take, for example, Google's new book search service. Millions of out-of-print and out-of-copyright books are gathering dust in libraries everywhere. Google Book Search aims to make these and many other works - ­and the information they contain - ­universally discoverable.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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