Fantasy Democracy: Notes on Capital, Politics, and Voting

Louis Menand’s “The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University” (2010) questions why forms of higher education have been so intractable against change. One reason suggested is the surprising conservatism revealed of professors as a group, surprising because professors are often associated with more liberal stances and presumed to understand the connections…

Online # 2: Laptop Notes From Underground

Imagine Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man with a laptop… “‘Why you’re . . . just like a book,’ she said, and I thought I caught a sarcastic note in her voice again.” Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man is with Liza, a prostitute, but what he wants is to talk to her. He finds her ellipsis revealing. She pauses, and…

Fear and Loathing in Lexical Vegas

Over at Language Log we find a discussion on “words we hate.” I can’t tell if discuss is one or not. But some words strike some as literally offensive, or cause physical stress, a kind of lexical anxiety. This is not about disdain for the simple malapropism, or of academic scorn for the wrong word…

Locke, Freud, Tinker, Tailor

Norman O. Brown opens his Love’s Body (1966) talking of liberty: “Liberty means equality among the brothers (sons)….” One problem immediately apparent to Brown is that if the sons rebel against the father, overthrowing the absolute monarch, because there are many sons, but there can be only one monarch, and who would assume the throne…

Where Sarah Palin Meets Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol is everywhere. That sentence is everywhere. Andy’s fame has lasted longer than his predicted 15 minutes of world-wide fame for all of us. But one place he’s currently not to be found is on the New York Times bestseller list, which is full of Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, already topping the million mark,…

“Off with their heads!” Rhetorical Images of Heads of States

“Off with their heads!” shouts Carroll’s Queen in Wonderland. Just so, Platon has beheaded them all in “Portraits of Power,” in the December 7 New Yorker. The head of state is not a whole person, but a symbol, but of what? “The king is an erection of the body politic,” Norman O. Brown says in…

APA Caution: Metaphor Crossing

We don’t find E. B. White adhering to APA guidelines. It’s more palatable monkeying with rats if one denies them human characteristics. One rule that hasn’t changed in the new 6th edition APA manual concerns a warning against the use of metaphor, specifically anthropomorphic connotations (p. 69). One may not use metaphor; the question is,…

Bio-Lego-Land: Building a Better Body thru Metaphor

In the September 28, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, we meet synthetic bio-Lego-boys Drew Endy and Rob Carlson: “Some of my best work has come together in my mind’s eye accompanied by what I swear was an audible click, ” Carlson tells New Yorker’s Michael Specter, who says Endy has never forgotten “…the secret…

Susan Sontag and a Valentine for Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor’s stories stir a natural absurd mix of violence and comedy. Characters argue and alienate themselves from one another. They have difficulty communicating, and they torment one another. Yet, throughout the stories, we find humor – comedy in situation, language, and setting. What better day to read a Flannery story than Valentine Day? In…

Every day is moving day on the Internet streets

In Love’s Body, Norman O. Brown places the origins and evolution of thought in and from the body. Everything outside the body, in the social world created by humans, is metaphor, the secondary term an externalization of the body. Brown resurrects the dead metaphors to illustrate his thesis, “The fall is into language” (p. 257). Brown worked on…

Jazzskin

Words are sounds, first; then what do we do to them, to the sounds? Jung thought grief gave human voice to sound. This is the meaning of Norman O. Brown’s “The fall is into language” (Love’s Body, p. 256), though it seems equally plausible that joy, close friend to grief, might also be capable of…

Overhearing one’s own writing

In “The Gutenberg Galaxy” (1962), Marshall McLuhan was the first modern blogger. Though published in traditional book form, the structure resembles many of today’s blogs. Norman O. Brown followed suit with “Love’s Body,” in 1966. McLuhan and Brown built their books on a framework of short paragraphs full of quotes, or links, to a cornucopia…