Blanchot, Still

The New York Times has finally (a week after his death was announced) published an obituary for Maurice Blanchot. Not only is this obituary so brief and vague as to give no indication of Blanchot’s importance, let alone what he was about–something I am willing to leave aside, since Blanchot himself would have disclaimed what I and many others regard as his extreme importance, as being one of the most profound writers of the 20th century–but also, unforgivably, it completely misstates Blanchot’s political history. The last paragraph of the obituary reads: “Before World War II he was an outspoken rightist, but after the German invasion in 1940, his fascism gave way to French nationalism.”– Just for the record: Blanchot’s dubious right-wing political stance of the 1930s was precisely a French nationalist one; after 1940, what he abandoned, and henceforth condemned, was both fascism and nationalism; during the War he travelled in Resistance circles; after the War, and for the rest of his life, he mostly withdrew from any sort of public affiliation, but was active in supporting Algerian independence in the late 50s/early 60s. was active in the rebellion of 1968, and proclaimed his allegiance to a non-Soviet, pretty much anarchistic and egalitarian form of what he insisted on calling “communism.”

The New York Times has finally (a week after his death was announced) published an obituary for Maurice Blanchot. Not only is this obituary so brief and vague as to give no indication of Blanchot’s importance, let alone what he was about–something I am willing to leave aside, since Blanchot himself would have disclaimed what I and many others regard as his extreme importance, as being one of the most profound writers of the 20th century–but also, unforgivably, it completely misstates Blanchot’s political history. The last paragraph of the obituary reads: “Before World War II he was an outspoken rightist, but after the German invasion in 1940, his fascism gave way to French nationalism.”– Just for the record: Blanchot’s dubious right-wing political stance of the 1930s was precisely a French nationalist one; after 1940, what he abandoned, and henceforth condemned, was both fascism and nationalism; during the War he travelled in Resistance circles; after the War, and for the rest of his life, he mostly withdrew from any sort of public affiliation, but was active in supporting Algerian independence in the late 50s/early 60s. was active in the rebellion of 1968, and proclaimed his allegiance to a non-Soviet, pretty much anarchistic and egalitarian form of what he insisted on calling “communism.”

The Spook Who Sat By the Door

Although it was published a third of a century ago, Sam Greenlee’s The Spook Who Sat By the Door is still one of the most brilliant and relevant books I have ever read about race relations in America. (Via Kali Tal’s list of Militant Black Science Fiction). Mixing blaxploitation images with a sophisticated social critique, it’s an imaginative story, published in 1969, of underground guerilla warfare organized by black militants in American ghettols…

Although it was published a third of a century ago, Sam Greenlee’s The Spook Who Sat By the Door is still one of the most brilliant and relevant books I have ever read about race relations in America. (Via Kali Tal’s list of Militant Black Science Fiction). Mixing blaxploitation images with a sophisticated social critique, it’s an imaginative story, published in 1969, of underground guerilla warfare organized by black militants in American ghettols…
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Blanchot

In Memoriam Maurice Blanchot 22 September 1907-20 February 2003. See the obituary (in French only) in Liberation.

In Memoriam Maurice Blanchot 22 September 1907-20 February 2003. See the obituary (in French only) in Liberation.

Global Frequency

Warren Ellis’ new comic book series _Global Frequency_ (four issues out so far) isn’t as mindblowing as _Transmetropolitan_ was, but it’s pretty much fun in the way it matches high-concept with low pulp. You see, Global Frequency is a worldwide organization, with 1001 members, which intervenes in crisis situations…

Warren Ellis’ new comic book series _Global Frequency_ (four issues out so far) isn’t as mindblowing as _Transmetropolitan_ was, but it’s pretty much fun in the way it matches high-concept with low pulp. You see, Global Frequency is a worldwide organization, with 1001 members, which intervenes in crisis situations…
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Pattern Recognition

William Gibson’s new novel Pattern Recognition (which I have finally finished reading) is very likely the first work of literature to use “Google” as a verb (as in: “If you Google him, you’ll find…). What’s important, however, is not that Gibson is savvy enough to note how everyone’s favorite search engine has entered the vocabulary, but rather the absolute ordinariness, or taken-for-grantedness, of this usage: it’s a detail, precisely, that doesn’t stand out in any way in the novel. And that is what makes it significant….

William Gibson’s new novel Pattern Recognition (which I have finally finished reading) is very likely the first work of literature to use “Google” as a verb (as in: “If you Google him, you’ll find…). What’s important, however, is not that Gibson is savvy enough to note how everyone’s favorite search engine has entered the vocabulary, but rather the absolute ordinariness, or taken-for-grantedness, of this usage: it’s a detail, precisely, that doesn’t stand out in any way in the novel. And that is what makes it significant….
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Writing Machines

N. Katherine Hayles’ new book Writing Machines is a brilliant and important work. Hayles uses the vantage point offered her by recent “electronic texts” to rethink our understanding of literature in general…

N. Katherine Hayles’ new book Writing Machines is a brilliant and important work. Hayles uses the vantage point offered her by recent “electronic texts” to rethink our understanding of literature in general…
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Maurice Dantec

I just finished Maurice G. Dantec’s first novel, published in 1993, La sirene rouge (The Red Siren): a superior thriller, but nothing more. (Though I’d like to see the film, if only because it stars Asia Argento). But Dantec is also the author of the mind-boggling SF novel Babylon Babies (1999), unfortunately not (yet) translated into English…

I just finished Maurice G. Dantec’s first novel, published in 1993, La sirene rouge (The Red Siren): a superior thriller, but nothing more. (Though I’d like to see the film, if only because it stars Asia Argento). But Dantec is also the author of the mind-boggling SF novel Babylon Babies (1999), unfortunately not (yet) translated into English…
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Bill Gates’ “Grand Challenges in Global Health”

Yesterday Bill Gates issued a global challenge on health. He put up $200 million to spur research on diseases that haven’t been studied sufficiently by scientists, because they occur mainly in poor parts of the world, rather than here in the West. This is a wholly admirable thing to do. But the rhetoric of his announcement was also interesting….
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