Bei Kulla eine knappe aber konzise Kritik an einem Angriff des Gegenstandpunkts auf die Marxismusbücher von Michael Heinrich. Dabei folgt der Angriff einem bekannten und alten Denkmuster (das ich persönlich ‘Lukacs-Marxismus’ nenne, obwohl das unfair dem großen Herrn Lukacs gegenüber ist), das Kulla korrekt aufdeckt:

Hier scheint nun Heinrichs Argument falsch zu sein wegen des unerwünschten Schlusses, bei dem er “landet”. Auch im folgenden wird Heinrich dafür kritisiert, daß er “ganz auf der Ebene der moralischen Schuldfrage” bleibt und sie verneint; daß ihm “offenbar nichts wichtiger” sei, “als die ökonomisch Mächtigen aus der Schusslinie zu nehmen”; ja, daß er “die Kapitalisten” “entlastet”. Dabei haben wir es hier weitgehend mit Unterstellungen zu tun.

Heinrich weist lediglich immer wieder darauf hin, daß das Handeln der “ökonomisch Mächtigen” nicht schlimmer ist als das, was alle anderen tun, sofern sie das Funktionieren des kapitalistischen Systems aufrechterhalten. […]

Und was ist mit den Arbeitern? Die gelten dem GSP vor allem als “Opfer der Produktionsweise”. Von ihrem eigenen Interesse als Lohnarbeitskraftbehälter und Warenbesitzer – keine Rede. Von ihrer immer wieder demonstrierten Bereitschaft, die herrschende Ordnung zu verteidigen, ja noch zu verschärfen – kein Wort.

Bemerkenswert – und lesenwert (wenn auch schwerlich informativ) auch die auf die auf den Post folgende, außerordentlich knochenköpfige Diskussion.

Cui Bono?

Jezebel on Vice Presidential Candidate Palin and on the difference between chosing A woman or FOR women.

Sarah Palin was selected by John McCain today to be the second woman in our country’s history to run for the Vice Presidency of the United States. She’s going to attempt the break the glass ceiling that Geraldine Ferraro first cracked back in 1984, which is a cool thing on some level. But it does raise the question raised by the primaries already once this year — is it more important to vote for a woman, or to vote for a candidate that represents the issues of importance to women?

Because — as EMILY’s List’s Ellen Malcolm notes — Sarah Palin is hardly the latter. She opposes reproductive choice and marriage equity. She’s a member of the group “Feminists for Life,” which is dedicated to eliminating reproductive choice in this country. She is a big promoter, like McCain, of so-called “consumer-driven” health care, in which the government would eliminate the tax breaks companies get for offering health insurance (and thus your company’s financial incentive to pay for yours) — despite the fact that, as Gloria Steinem pointed out, women are far and way the larger users of our health care system. No one yet knows if she supports the Lilly Ledbetter pay equity bill, but she certainly hasn’t spoken about it in the last year and, given that the head of her ticket opposes it, it’s a fair bet to say she wouldn’t fight for it.

Good Question

Joshua Henkin’s right on the money (emphasis in the following quote’s mine)

The [Blue Flower] won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1997 […]. There were a few grumblings at the time (Underworld had been the favorite in some circles), revived more recently when someone (one of the judges? I can’t remember exactly) suggested that The Blue Flower had been a compromise choice and that a smaller, less ambitious novel had won out over a book that swung for the fences. No disrespect meant to Delillo or any of the others, but The Blue Flower, though it comes in at just over 200 pages, is neither small nor unambitious. Would people have said the same thing if the writer had been a man?

Um, no (1)

Fêted writer Paul Verhaeghen writes

It’s just that the literature I care about sings in many tongues: It can be Brits with deep new roots in Japanese society, recovering Muslims investigating the human core at the heart of religion, women examining the true awfulness of masculinity, white Americans having a long hard look at our racism past and present, Jews writing about “passing”, Americans writing in French, Russians writing in English, or dying men turning back to stare unblinkingly into the void of life’s true evil.

Um, no. Since the books in question are David Mitchell Cloud Atlas, Salman Rushdie Satanic Verses, Donna Tartt The Secret History, Richard Powers The Time of our Singing, Philip Roth The Human Stain, Jonathan Littell Les Bienveillantes, Nabokov Pale Fire, Roberto Bolano 2666, the correct answer’s no, the “literature” you “care about” doesn’t really sing in many tongues, at least not in a nontrivial sense.
As far as that Rushdie phrase is concerned, that’s wrong on so many levels, I get bored just thinking about it. Dude, it’s almost like reading your novel.


Jezebel on new episodes of Tyra

Yesterday TyTy discussed sex tips and trends from around the world. An audience member asked a question about how she can get her vagina back to the way it used to be before she had her baby. (If you listen closely in the clip, the woman says she has an “8-month-year-old.”) So Tyra turns to some random woman from Italy to answer the question. The woman’s answer? High-heels.


Michael Cohen gives advice to Obama

Mr. Obama must convince skeptical Americans that he can serve as commander in chief and be trusted with the nation’s highest office. Change and relatively unknown candidates — not to mention ones with Hussein for a middle name — can seem scary. Therefore, it’s critical for Mr. Obama to orient his message of change in universal and shared American values. Just as Kennedy spoke in the metaphoric imagery of the American frontier and Reagan evoked Franklin Roosevelt and the “greatness” of America’s past, Barack Obama must continue to cast his personal narrative as a quintessentially American story of opportunity and the realization of the American Dream.

Joan Didion: Play it as it lays

There are many variations of street craps. The simplest way is to either agree on or roll a number as the point, then roll the point again before you roll a seven. Unlike more complex proposition bets offered by casinos, street craps has more simplified betting options. The shooter is required to make either a Pass or a Don’t Pass bet if they want to roll the dice. Another player must choose to cover the shooter to create a stake for the game to continue. If there are several players, the rotation of the player who must cover the shooter may change with the shooter (comparable to a blind in poker). The person covering the shooter will always bet against the shooter. For example, if the shooter made a “Pass” bet, the person covering the shooter would make a “Don’t Pass” bet to win. Once the shooter is covered, other players may make Pass/Don’t Pass bets, or any other proposition bets, as long as there is another player willing to cover. (wikipedia)

The title of Play it as it lays, Joan Didion’s arguably most famous novel refers to the game of craps, a game of dice where the players bet on the outcome of a roll of dice. There are two possible outcomes, at the end of the line: “Pass” or “Don’t pass”, i.e. “Win” or “don’t win”. If anyone were asked to bet on Marie, the protagonist of Didion’s novel, now where would they put their money?

Marie, an actress in the grasps of an amoral, drug-addled, cruel Hollywood machinery, is doomed. I have, in conversation, compared Play it as it lays to Hemingway’s masterful The Sun Also Rises. Both feature broken characters who interact in faux-upbeat ways. It is, in both cases, a kind of schedule, something to observe, to keep up with. There is a beat to which the participants march, and it is a quick beat, not allowing for any pauses, or reflections. It’s with us or against us. Tune in OR drop out. Hemingway’s characters are all quick on the uptake and march to whatever beat presents itself. Hemingway’s tenderness, so outspoken in the stories, is nudged into the background here, soft music overshadowed by the beating of the drums and the marching, always the marching.

Marie, however, giving a child up for adoption, having an abortion, is, at one point, missing a step and, from that point on, is never in step again, always a tad late, always just missing the safe midstream current. An astonishing amount of people is prepared to help her, but it never works out.Her lethargy, depressions and simple mishaps, all of these things contribute to the disaster that her life quickly becomes. It was never much fun to begin with but the rapid rate at which it decomposes is frightening.

And that it is frightening, despite a protagonist who is perilously close to being a caricature of the typical Hollywood diva wreck, like the magnificent Monroe late in her (way too short) life, or today’s prime publicity victim, Britney Spears, that is over comes this character, is due to Didion’s language and structure. It is a very reduced language, almost, one is tempted to say: Hemingwayish in its harshness and brevity. And it’s short sentences, and meaningful line breaks. And short chapters. It slips from one point in time to another, bringing together the story of her demise by picking up those threads in her late life which brought it on. By the jumps back and forth between the various points in time the novel highlights connections and shows the rope tightening around Marie’s neck.

Marie is a victim and those who would accuse her of being lazy and lethargic and bringing the disaster upon herself, have not understood the extent to which her abortion and her failed marriage have broken her already embattled spirit. At one point even her ex-husband, who appeared to at least understand her predicament, accuses her of overreacting. In her sexual relations she is never in control, she is merely submitting. She doesn’t enjoy the act, she submits because this is how it’s done. It’s the beat again, and she’s marching, from bed to bed, from one man to the next. Until she misses a step.

It had seemed this past month as of they were all one, that her life had been a single sexual encounter, one dreamed fuck, no beginnings or endings, no point beyond itself. […] She had a sense the dream had ended and she had slept on.

Play it as it lays is a remarkable novel, dark, brutal and fundamentally sad. It is highly recommended. It is the story of a woman who shoots a roll of dice and doesn’t pass and a whole society who bets against her and is happy to take her money. Alea jacta est, indeed. What’s done is done. ISBN

Say it like it is

Ian Sales shares my bafflement at the veneration accorded to works such as Asimov’s Nightfall

I’ve complained before about the undeserving admiration given to many science fiction novels and short stories of earlier decades. […] [M]any “classics” of those days do not fare well when compared to modern works.

I recently reread ‘Nightfall’ by Isaac Asimov […]. I’ve long been aware of its status as a “classic”, of its reputation as one of Asimov’s best stories. So I was surprised on my recent reread to discover that it’s, well, it’s pretty bad. Asimov’s prose was clunky at best, and it’s not his best in ‘Nightfall’. […]

By all criteria, ‘Nightfall’ fails as a good short story. And yet it’s still regarded as a classic. Some people will even suggest it’s a good example of science fiction. Rubbish. It’s built around a single, not very interesting idea – a world has never seen darkness… and then it gets dark. Wow. […] ‘Nightfall’ contains a very obvious idea and it appears to me that many think the sheer in-your-face nature of it overrides all the story’s faults. Which should not be the case. A story should be considered a classic for a number of reasons – continuing relevance, good writing, originality (in ideas and/or deployment), rigour (of world-building, of story), meaning, impact upon the genre, impact upon the reader…


Tous leurs trémolos

This @ xkcd:

There is a followup discussion @ the Bremer Sprachblog, which googlesearches for Gender differences. The results look pretty interesting but they aren’t really, as they could mean anything, depending on the premises. As the Bremer Sprachblog has not, apparently, invested time and effort into transforming the results into something truly interesting, and my own pitiful self does not have the time to do it, I will not post the graphs, since they will, at best, be misleading. Can’t really say why I mentioned them at all. Well. What’s done is done. (via)

Trampertips mit Kulla

Heute: Seitenwechsel

Tags wie nachts rauscht die Autobahn, mitgenommen wird man weitergetragen wie von einem Fluß, der aber auch in die Gegenrichtung fließt. Wichtig sind nur die Punkte, an denen ein Seitenwechsel möglich ist. Prinzipiell geht das an jeder Auffahrt, viele Auffahrten sind aber sehr tageszeitabhängig oder insgesamt untrampbare Verkehrsgärten. (Ja, es ginge auch, indem man direkt über die Autobahn läuft – kann ich aber nur in Notlagen empfehlen. Das Risiko ist enorm, denn Autos mit deutschen Spitzengeschwindigkeiten können sehr schnell sehr nahe sein…)

Daher werden gerade nachts die Rasthöfe interessant, die auf beiden Seiten der Autobahn liegen. Einige von ihnen sind direkt per Brücke verbunden (z.B. Frankenwald auf der A9), bei einer größeren Anzahl gibt es in nächster Nähe einen Tunnel (z.B. Herford auf der A2), bei den meisten läßt sich durch eine kleine Wanderung ein oder zwei Kilometer entfernt eine Über- oder Unterführung nutzen (z.B. Gräfenhausen auf der A5).

Wishful Thinking

Someone declares the death of canons again.

The idea of a “canon” is in tatters. A canon needs an established cultural authority, and there is no guiding authority in culture anymore. There are no real gatekeepers. […] So, with the collapse of the canon we’re a little bit lost, drifting amidst a sea of cultural troubles. But we’re also freer. The entire cultural landscape gets freshened up. We get to look at things anew and decide if we really do like them, and why. We step out from under the thumb of an authority that, for all its usefulness, often seemed arbitrary and authoritative merely for authority’s sake. There was power — too much power maybe — lurking inside the canon, with its terrible weapon of exclusion. That power has faded away. We’re alone again, confronting the world like children, barbarian children with only a few tattered and mutually contradictory maps to assist us.

Someone apparently hopes that this was true, which it’s patently not, but the death of canons (yes there’s an ‘s’) has been declared for several decades as the end of art has been declared for two centuries (Geulen’s treatise is helpful reading on that). In this case it’s accompanied by a severe case of political naivete, which is not less political for being about ‘culture’. People who think they are in an ideology-free zone, with fully emancipated individuals are sometimes cute, but mostly annoying. It tends to given even the nice and smart ones free reign to condone atrociously racist behaviour. Tiresome. Annoying. I’m out.

Wer Schuld hat

Mögen die Juden nicht, die Ravensburger. Seitdem sie den Kindermordprozeß gehabt haben und ihre Juden gemartert, gebrannt und geplündert, hassen sie uns mehr als das ganze andere Schwaben. Das sind jetzt dreihundert Jahr. Heute hat man humanere Methoden, weniger komplizierte, dem Juden sein Geld zu stehlen. Aber wenn man solches Unrecht getan hat, versteht sich, daß man weiter gegen den gereizt ist, auch nach dreihundert Jahr. Nun, wir werden’s überleben.

aus Lion Feuchtwangers großem Roman Jud Süss


Brooks on the Wiederkehr des Immergleichen

McCain started with grand ideas about breaking the mold of modern politics. [Now] McCain and his advisers […] are running a much more conventional race, the kind McCain himself used to ridicule.

The man who lampooned the Message of the Week is now relentlessly on message (as observers of his fine performance at Saddleback Church can attest). The man who hopes to inspire a new generation of Americans now attacks Obama daily. It is the only way he can get the networks to pay attention. […]

And the inescapable fact is: It is working.


Although the heat had not yet broken she began that week to sleep inside, between white sheets, hoping dimly that the white sheets would effect some charm, that she would wake in the morning and find them stained with blood. She did this in the same spirit that she had, a month before, thrown a full box of Tampax into the garbage: to be without Tampax was to insure bleeding, to sleep naked between white sheets was to guarantee staining. To give the charm every opportunity she changed the immaculate sheets every morning. She wore white crêpe pajamas and no underwear to a party.

from Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays

On Czeslaw Milosz

Poet and American poet laureate Robert Pinsky remembers his friend, the amazing poet Czeslaw Milosz

Years later, after we both had left Berkeley, I saw Czeslaw during his final illness, in a Krakow hospital, a week or so before he died. He was nearly ninety-three.

He greeted me with a familiar mixture of courtliness and attentive self-examination: “I am very moved you have come to visit me. Fortunately, I am conscious.”

A little embarrassed, searching for something to say, I asked, “Czeslaw, have you been composing sentences in your head? Are you writing in your mind?”

He responded, “Nooo,” the one syllable prolonged into two or three, in a crooning, Slavic way. “Only absurd bric-a-brac.”

Then he chose to give an example of the bric-a-brac, a dream he had that day, in his hospital bed: “I dreamed I was in eighteenth-century Boston,” he said. “Arguing with Puritans.” Then, “Everybody was in uniform!” the old basso laughter kabooming, with its sense of absurdity and purpose, conviction and skepticism, grief and renewal: an essential sound not just of the twentieth century, but of art itself.

Happiness (It’s Toasted)

Mad Men is an awesome show. This here‘s from the pilot

Don Draper: This is the greatest advertisting opportunity since the invention of cereal. We have six identical companies making six identical products. We can say anything we want. How do you make your cigarettes?
Lee Garner, Jr.: I don’t know.
Lee Garner, Sr.: Shame on you. We breed insect repellant tobacco seeds, plant them in the North Carolina sunshine, grow it, cut it, cure it, toast it…
Don Draper: There you go. There you go.
[Writes on chalkboard and underlines: “IT’S TOASTED.”]
Lee Garner, Jr.: But everybody’s else’s tobacco is toasted.
Don Draper: No. Everybody else’s tobacco is poisonous. Lucky Strikes’… is toasted.
Roger: Well, gentlemen, I don’t think I have to tell you what you just witnessed here.
Lee Garner, Jr.: I think you do.
Don Draper: Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.
Lee Garner, Sr.: It’s toasted.
Lee Garner, Sr.: I get it.

The Right Choice

Judith Warner watches pro-choice and pro-life activists revisiting Roe vs. Wade in a push for Obama’s attention and concludes

“What we are waiting to hear from Barack Obama,” Campolo [a democratic pro-life activist] said on Tuesday, “is that he … sees this as a moral issue and an issue of conscience.”

Let’s hope Obama doesn’t take the bait. Or better yet: let’s hope that, as he seeks out new religious allies (the problematic Jeremiah Wright becoming a much more distant memory), he pushes hard to redefine the moral high ground in the abortion rights debate. Sanctifying life – without care for the living — is little more than a morality play.

On Revolution

Why don’t they know that this is impossible to do without, that this really must be accomplished, that it certainly will be – so that no one will ever be poor or unhappy again? Isn’t this what they’re all saying? No, they feel sorry, but they really think things will always stay just the way they are – maybe a little better, but still much the same. […] Yes, it’ll be wonderful when there are no more poor people, when no one can coerce anyone else.

– Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What Is to Be Done? (trans. Michael R. Katz)


Annalee Newitz’s excellent comment on the Hugos:

The only controversial win, at least in my mind, was Michael Chabon’s Yiddish Policemen’s Union for best novel. Certainly it’s a brilliant novel, and is undoubtedly a work of SF-ish alternate history, but it felt a little wrong to me that the award went to somebody who writes mainstream literary fiction that merely borrows a few tropes from SF. Chabon was too busy to attend the awards, but he did write a sweet and genuine acceptance speech which was read with ironic gravity by venerable fantasy author (and Chabon influence) George R. R. Martin.


The gorgeous M. Liberman is angered by David Brooks again and writes a hilarious putdown:

The relation between Brooks’ column and the facts inspired me to model my discussion after the Radio Yerevan jokes that arose in the Soviet Union as a way to mock the pathetically transparent spin of the Soviet media:

Question to Radio Yerevan: Is it correct that Grigori Grigorievich Grigoriev won a luxury car at the All-Union Championship in Moscow?

Answer: In principle, yes. But first of all it was not Grigori Grigorievich Grigoriev, but Vassili Vassilievich Vassiliev; second, it was not at the All-Union Championship in Moscow, but at a Collective Farm Sports Festival in Smolensk; third, it was not a car, but a bicycle; and fourth he didn’t win it, but rather it was stolen from him.

Do read the whole piece. It’s less hilarious but instructive, and, as always, very much worth reading.


We talked about different perceptions of female anger here, and here is a matching post @ Jezebel

Most of the criticism thrown at Hillary Clinton was that she was too mannish somehow — similar to the way in which similar criticisms were levied at Margaret Thatcher later in her career. What is it about standing up to men that makes a woman “mannish,” and why is that a bad thing? To the contrary, while Clinton may have worn pants the entire campaign, she made it a point to eschew the black pantsuits for which she had become known in Washington for ones in a variety of jewel tones and earthy colors. Her hair was always impeccably colored, it was rarely out of place and a relatively flattering cut. She never forewent make-up or jewelry like certain bloggers I see in the mirror every morning, and I have, more than once, seen her in a pair of cute kitten heels that I coveted. But, still, “mannish” was how she was tarred. If she’s mannish, I’d hate to see what women would have to do to be considered womanly.


Le Monde écrit

Cette dixième visite, en plein déroulement des Jeux olympiques de Pékin, coïncidant avec une nouvelle vague de répression massive au Tibet, est de loin la plus controversée. Les Chinois, qui accusent l’hôte de la France de vouloir saboter les Jeux, ont sommé Nicolas Sarkozy d’éviter ce “sécessionniste”. Malgré les critiques, le chef de l’Etat, qui préside l’Union européenne, a maintenu son voyage à Pékin pour l’ouverture des JO et fait savoir – après beaucoup d’atermoiements – qu’il ne recevrait pas le dalaï-lama à Paris, remettant à plus tard une éventuelle rencontre. Il s’est réjoui, dimanche, de l’accord intervenu la veille entre EDF et le groupe électricien chinois Guangdong Nuclear Power Group pour la construction de deux réacteurs EPR.


Georg Klauda von lysis hat eine neue Veröffentlichung, die deliziös klingt:

Islamische Staaten geraten durch die Verfolgung Homosexueller immer wieder in den Blickpunkt der westlichen Medien, die solche Vorfälle gern als Zeichen kultureller Rückständigkeit interpretieren. Einige Bundesländer schlugen deshalb vor, Muslime im Einbürgerungsverfahren nach ihrer Einstellung zu Homosexuellen zu befragen. Zeigen sich deklassierte Halbstarke aus Migrantenfamilien aggressiv gegenüber Schwulen, werden reflexhaft religiöse Motive unterstellt.Dabei beschworen Homosexuelle die Kultur des Orient noch zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts als ein tolerantes Gegenbeispiel zu den Jahrhunderten religiöser und säkularer Verfolgung in Europa. Die klassische arabische Liebeslyrik z.B. ist voll von gleichgeschlechtlichen Motiven, die man in der Literatur des aufgeklärten Abendlands vergeblich sucht. Man mag kaum glauben, dass sich die Lebensweise in islamischen Gesellschaften in einer so kurzen Zeitspanne auf so einschneidende Weise geändert haben soll.
Doch gerade diejenigen, die mit dem Finger auf die Homophobie der islamischen Welt zeigen, gehen jeder Erklärung dieses Wandels aus dem Weg.Anhand zahlreicher historischer und aktueller Quellen belegt der Autor, dass die Schwulenverfolgung in Ländern wie Iran und Ägypten weniger das Relikt einer vormodernen Vergangenheit ist. Vielmehr handelt es sich um das Resultat einer gewaltsamen Angleichung an die Denkformen ihrer ehemaligen Kolonialherren, die Homosexuelle im Prozess der Modernisierung erstmals identifiziert, benannt und zum Objekt staatlichen Handelns gemacht haben. Homophobie ist eine Erfindung des christlichen Westens, die im Zuge der Globalisierung in die entlegensten Winkel dieser Welt exportiert wird.


Hysterical (see the pun?) new study

Most employees — male or female — would hesitate to yell at their superiors, but new research provides new evidence that women who show anger in the workplace are viewed as less competent — while men are not.

In three studies, 463 men and women between 18 and 70 years old watched video of actors pretending to be job seekers or employers. The participants then wrote down which applicants should get the job, the type of responsibility they could handle and how high their salaries should be.

“We found that the women (on the tapes) who were judged as angry lost out in every category,” says Victoria Brescoll, an assistant professor at Yale University’s School of Management. […]

“When women express anger at work, no matter what they do on the job, they can be seen as ‘out of control’ or are viewed in a negative light,” Brescoll says.


In a recent post @ the “On Faith” panel at the Washington Post online, Eboo Patel starts off writing

Susan Sontag once wrote, “Whatever is happening, something else is always going on.” While newspaper headlines are dominated by stories of hatred and violence between Jews and Muslims, there is a quiet revolution taking place off the radar screen.

and continues

In the recent issue of Reform Judaism, the movement’s magazine, Yoffie writes: “The time has come to engage in dialogue with our Muslim neighbors and to educate ourselves about Islam.”

Professor Ingrid Mattson, the President of ISNA (an umbrella body for the millions of American Muslims) responded in kind by traveling to the URJ Convention and making these remarks:

“Muslims have instinctively turned to the example of Jews in America to understand how to deal with the challenges we face as religious minorities […].”

There are other Muslim-Jewish efforts afoot. […]
We might actually be at a tipping point on this seemingly impossible issue.

Simple Mistake

So if you’re a young and ambitious literary scholar, you could do worse than to learn something about modern psychology and linguistics, especially those concepts and techniques that can easily be applied to texts.

sayeth Liberman, who, as we already know, has the literary sensibility of that mug of coffee right there. And yes, it can be done. Doesn’t mean it should be. I can take a dump on my computer right now. Doesn’t mean I should. Simple Mistake.

Solzhenitsyn RIP

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, flawed and fabulous giant of Russian letters has died. Quoth the Associated Press:

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning author whose books chronicled the horrors of the Soviet gulag system, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.

Stepan Solzhenitsyn told The Associated Press his father died late Sunday, but declined further comment.

Solzhenitsyn’s unflinching accounts of torment and survival in the Soviet Union’s slave labor camps riveted his countrymen, whose secret history he exposed. They earned him 20 years of bitter exile, but international renown.

The following quote is from a ten-year-old review in the NYT book pages and I feel it can stand as an epitaph of sorts here

But for Vera Moseyeva, a retired clerk who remembers the first book by Mr. Solzhenitsyn that she ever laid her hands on (it was almost in rags by the time it had been carefully and secretly passed to her), it does not matter what he writes.

”Whatever he says is always interesting,” she said, after buying three copies of ”Russia in Collapse.” “[…] Does he scold too much? Given the way life is these days, how can one not be scolding?”

Scolding, inspiring, and, going by interviews, essays and the like, a writer eminently interested in his language and its riches. As a thinker he may be questionable, but he was a writer like few others, and looking at the desert that contemporary German literature is, I wish we had a writer as keen on language and as energetic and driven as Mr. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He will be sorely missed.

Girly Girl

Newish series on the always fabulous Jezebel blog (I loves you Tracy Egan), under the heading “What it feels like for a Girl”, using fellow blogger Gavin McInnes to demonstrate some facets of “What it feels like for a Girl”. Currently we have a report on Makeup (daytime) and Makeup (Nighttime) as well as walking in high heels and the followup, really walking a mile in high heels. Earlier they got yet another blogger to get his sack deforested.


Pamuk im Gespräch mit dem Spiegel

Portugals Diktator Salazar hat sein Land damals auch mit Hilfe des Fußballs regiert. Für ihn war das Spiel Opium fürs Volk, um es ruhigzustellen. Ich würde mich freuen, wenn es bei uns so wäre. Aber hier ist Fußball kein Opium, sondern eine Maschine zur Produktion von Nationalismus, Fremdenhass und autoritärem Denken. Ich glaube auch, dass nicht Siege, sondern Niederlagen den Nationalismus fördern.