Link to an article by Susan Roberts:
“Are Modern Cities Sustainable?”
Bonus quote: “9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.” The Communist Manifesto
“one should . . . admit how problematic it is to anchor one’s political demands to status of victimhood. Is the basic characteristic of today’s subjectivity not the weird combination of the free subject who believes themselves ultimately responsible for their own fate and the subject who bases their argument on their status as a victim of circumstances beyond their own control? Every contact with another human being is experienced as a potential threat – if the other smokes, if he casts a covetous glance at me, he already hurts me; this logic of victimization is today universalized, reaching well beyond the standard cases of sexual or racist harassment.”
Slavoj Žižek, “Sex and ’68: Liberal Movement Revolutionized ‘Sexuality’ But at What Cost?”
“Social valorization of affects basically means that we pay the plaintiff with her own money: oh, but your feelings are so precious, you are so precious! The more you feel, the more precious you are. This is a typical neoliberal maneuver, which transforms even our traumatic experiences into possible social capital. If we can capitalize on our affects, we will limit out protests to declarations of these affects — say, declarations of suffering — rather than becoming active agents of social change. I’m of course not saying that suffering shouldn’t be expressed and talked about, but that this should not ‘freeze’ the subject into the figure of the victim. The revolt should be precisely about refusing to be a victim, rejecting the position of the victim on all possible levels.
…this bind derives precisely from the subjective gain or gratification that this positioning offers. (Moral) outrage is a particularly unproductive affect, yet it is one that offers considerable libidinal satisfaction. By ‘unproductive’ I mean this: it gives us the satisfaction of feeling morally superior, the feeling that we are in the right and others are in the wrong. Now for this to work, things must not really change. We are much less interested in changing things than in proving, again and again, that we are in the right, or on the right side, the side of the good. Hegel invented a great name for this position: the ‘beautiful soul.’ A ‘beautiful soul’ sees evil and baseness all around it but fails to see to what extent it participates in the perpetuation of that same order of things. The point of course is not that the world isn’t really evil, the point is that we are part of this evil world.”
Alenka Zupančič, “Too Much of Not Enough: An Interview with Alenka Zupančič”
Bonus links: “The Politics of Identity” and “Who Gets Ownership of Pain and Victimhood?” and “Art and Exploitation: Ai Weiwei, Dissidence and the Refugee Crisis” and “What’s Wrong With Identity Politics (and Intersectionality Theory)? A Response to Mark Fisher’s “Exiting the Vampire Castle” (And Its Critics)” (“The upshot [of intersectionality theory] in political practice is a static pluralism of reified social categories, each vying for more-subaltern-than-thou status on a field of one-downsmanship.”) and “On Sex Without Identity: Feminist Politics and Sexual Difference” (“The way things stand now, this kind of [victimhood] assertion comes with a certain social capital, and this tends to stop emancipatory movements before they even start to develop their emancipatory potential.”) and “Die Dreigroschenoper [The Threepenny Opera]” (Notes to the Threepenny Opera: Jonathan Peachum “is undoubtedly a villain . . . . his crime consists in his conception of the world . . . ; yet he is only following the ‘trend of the times’ when he regards misery as a commodity.”) and “Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder [Mother Courage and Her Children]” and Safe and “Who Gets Ownership of Pain and Victimhood?” and The Holocaust Industry and Hate, Inc. (“People need to start understanding the news not as ‘the news,’ but as . . . an individualized consumer experience — anger just for you. This is not reporting. It’s a marketing process designed to create rhetorical addictions and shut down any non-consumerist doors in your mind.”) and “Amuse-Bouches II – Testimony and the Pass”
Link to a book review by Mike Beggs of In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy and Revolution by Geoff Mann:
“The Keynesian Counterrevolution”
Bonus links: “The Left in a Foxhole?” (excerpt from Mann’s book) and “Liberalism: An Ideology of Exclusion” (this article rebuts Begg’s discussion of classical and modern liberalism, indicating that the archetype of all forms of liberalism is a politics of exclusion; in this case, merely elevating “the bourgeois and the intelligentsia” above others) and War and Revolution. Rethinking the Twentieth Century and Domenico Losurdo on Two Epidemics and “The Class Struggle on Wall Street” (“The problem [with Keynesianism] is, the rentier doesn’t want to be euthanized. Capital is not going to say, ‘okay, our work here is done, goodbye.’ So to maintain the social position of money-owners, you have to create an artificial shortage of money, and that’s another way of looking at the job of the central bank.”)
“class struggle is ultimately the struggle for the meaning of society ‘as such’, the struggle for which of the two classes will impose itself as the stand-in for society ‘as such’, thereby degrading its other into the stand-in for the non-Social (the destruction of, the threat to, society).
“To simplify: Does the masses’ struggle for emancipation pose a threat to civilization as such, since civilization can thrive only in a hierarchical social order? Or is it that the ruling class is a parasite threatening to drag society into self-destruction, so that the only alternative to socialism is barbarism?” Slavoj Žižek, Afterword to Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin From 1917 (pp. 209-10).
“A political Left with a brain would be busy thinking through strategy for when the internet becomes completely unusable for organizing and communication. The unifying factor in the initial ‘fake news’ purge was criticism of Hillary Clinton. Print media, a once viable alternative, has been all but destroyed by the move to the internet. This capability needs to be rebuilt.”
Rob Urie, “Why ‘Russian Meddling’ is a Trojan Horse”
Thelonious Monk – Monk. Columbia CL 2291 (1965)
Well, I’ve said before that It’s Monk’s Time is my second favorite Monk studio album on Columbia Records. But that was only because I hadn’t yet heard Monk. yet. This is another good one from the otherwise somewhat underwhelming Columbia years. Charlie Rouse is really stupendous. There was a quality in Monk’s playing during this time period that tended toward the dry and lethargic, and when the energy in his playing started to flag Charlie Rouse seemed to come in to the rescue. That is an admirable thing. And it shows in the music. At least I hear it and welcome it. Oh, and “Children’s Song (That Old Man)” is a folk song whose melody was later used for the “I Love You” song by Barney the purple dinosaur — a target of much ire in the “cynical 90s.” Maybe Monk. falls a bit short of the man’s very best albums, but it is a dark horse for the top of the second tier.
Thelonious Monk Quartet – Misterioso Riverside RLP 12-279 (1958) and Thelonious In Action Riverside RLP-12-262 (1958)
Thelonious Monk lost his cabaret card in 1951, which prevented him from performing live in New York for a number of years in the 1950s. But he regained it and undertook a long stand at the Five Spot Café in 1957. He returned to the Five Spot in 1958 with another band, documented on two albums: Misterioso and Thelonious in Action. The Five Spot was a small club in the Bowery. Monk’s appearance there was crucial in establishing the club as a congregation point for bohemian types like the Beats and assorted hangers-on — a good description of the club’s clientele and their motivations is found in the book The Battle of the Five Spot. It was around this time that Monk enjoyed some of the widest critical acclaim of his career, and, relatively speaking, his music was commercially successful too.
The 1958 Five Spot band played hard bop, of a kind that sort of epitomized its hip bohemian qualities. As usual, Monk was reprising a lot of his own songs he had played and recorded before, along with some standards. But “Light Blue” and “Coming on the Hudson” were original compositions that appeared on record for the first time on Thelonious in Action as was “Blues Five Spot” on Misterioso.
Johnny Griffin was the group’s tenor saxophonist. While both albums are well-respected, Griffin’s performances tend to draw more split opinions. That may be because his style of playing, on the one hand, deploys a kind of showy exposition of lighting fast fingering, and, on the other hand, quotes trivial pop melodies and floats away from the songs in a modernistic way the points beyond hard bop conventions. His more loose and freewheeling solos appear on Misterioso. The drums and bass are fine, but are mostly anchored in a very conventional hard bop style, especially the walking bass. Monk’s own playing is more gregarious than usual here. Compared to the free jazz explosion just starting to appear — Cecil Taylor‘s group was booked at the very same Five Spot Café in late 1956 and Ornette Coleman‘s quartet would kick start the revolution from the club the following year — this stuff is comparatively tame, but it still points in that direction. In a way, it is possible to look at these albums as a kind of breaking point that map out the limits of where conservative and reactionary jazz listeners and critics started to bail out, as the overall commercial prospects for jazz music began to erode in the face of the growing popularity or rock ‘n roll (and folk).
These are some of the most beloved albums in Monk’s entire discography. I do think some go overboard with praise for these — nothing here quite matches Monk’s best Blue Note sides, for instance. But there is also plenty of room for a lot of great Monk albums, and these two certain belong somewhere among the best of them — “Misterioso” and “Blues Five Spot” are perhaps the best individual songs here.
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Thelonious Monk – With John Coltrane Jazzland
JLP 946S (1961)
This outtake collection released to cash-in on Coltrane‘s growing fame is pretty decent. It features a nearly ideal selection of tunes from the Monk songbook. And Monk sounds as energized and inspired as ever in his own playing. Coltrane here, as always with Monk, is something of an awkward fit. He alternates between a kind of sentimental romanticism that borders on a kind of maudlin spectacle, and busy “sheets of sound” solos that leave little room for Monk’s compositions. By the time this album was released in 1961, it was clear that Charlie Rouse was a much better fit on saxophone in Monk’s band — or even Johnny Griffin. It’s not like Coltrane is terrible, but he’s not the star either.