Feb. 18th, 2003

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I had to find this from a paper, I couldn't believe it when I heard it on NPR.

WASHINGTON - President Bush declared today that he wouldn't be deterred by global protests against war with Iraq, saying ``I respectfully disagree'' with those who doubt that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace.

He said such a war remains a final resort, but ``the risk of doing nothing is even a worse option as far as I'm concerned.''

Despite heavy opposition at the United Nations and protests around the world, the Bush administration appeared ready to push ahead this week for a new Security Council resolution that could open the way for war.

Bush said that the size of the protests against a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq was irrelevant.

``Size of protest, it's like deciding, 'Well I'm going to decide policy based up on a focus group.'

as always,

Feb. 18th, 2003 12:10 pm
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the thoroughly humane response to the whole whose side is less civilized question comes from Jeanne:

Nobody fired at us yesterday, unless you count a single verbal shot: A guy in a truck yelled, "What are you going to do about that World Trade Center in New York, huh?" (My answer -- "Personally, I think they should forget about rebuilding and just create a memorial garden in honor of the victims, but I know that's wildly impractical, and anyway, since I'm not a family member of any of the victims, or even a New Yorker any more, I think my opinion is pretty irrelevant. Do you have any thoughts on the subject?" — was kind of hard to yell back at a moving truck, so I didn't say anything. I doubt he would have considered my response satisfactory in any case.)
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The global anti-war protests have put the White House on the defensive. Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer began his daily briefing by reading newspaper clips about demonstrations against the staging of missiles in Germany in the early 1980s, and said, "This is not the first time there have been mass protests and in a previous instance America stood on principle ... and as a result the Berlin Wall came down."

He also told reporters that former President Franklin Roosevelt overcame protests from isolationists to lead American into World War II.

If the President's grandfather was forced to back down, what hope do these nobodies have? Fleischer didn't add.
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from a much longer essay on Joan Didion by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, old and everyone has probably already read it but me:

...I suppose something should be said about Didion's essay on the women's movement, but not by me. What interests me more than her trivial and trivializing essay on women's liberation is that she sometimes expresses notions that would not be at all alien to the staunchest of feminists: "Women don't ever win.... Because winners have to believe they can affect the dice." If that is not a tacit admission that women are relatively powerless, what is? Of course, her female characters are all "strikingly frail" (emeralds complement their fragility beautifully), their eyes are too large for their faces, and, honey, they cry a bucket. Delicate pieces of machinery, humor is alien to them. And look closely and you'll see that none of her female characters has any female friends ("There existed between [Lily] and other women a vacuum in which overtures faded out, voices became inaudible, connections broke"). And Didion weeps for them, weeps for them. Which is probably why I love one sentence in Run River in which Didion allows herself to see some humor in their general incompetence: "Somebody holds the door open for Lily in a hardware store, and she thinks she has a very complex situation on her hands"; in a novel that closely resembles a gothic, that is a truly funny line.

"She had always smiled that way at men she did not know . . . wanting them to want her, recognize her as the princess in the tower." Alix Shulman might have written that sentence.

There is an essay about Georgia O'Keeffe that I find wonderful, an essay that is as "feminist" as anything in Ms.: "Some women fight and others do not. Like so many successful guerrillas in the war between the sexes, Georgia O'Keeffe seems to have been equipped early with an immutable sense of who she was and a fairly clear understanding that she would be required to prove it.... At the Art Students League in New York one of her fellow students advised her that, since he would be a great painter and she would end up teaching painting in a girls' school, any work of hers was less important than modeling for him." Could one ask for a better denunciation of cultural oppression than that?

(I can't resist quoting something Gloria Steinem once called out to a journalist on her way to interview Didion: "Ask her how come, if she spends all her time crying and swimming and struggling to open a car door, she finds the energy to write so much?")...
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So you want to talk about homosexuality? YOU want to talk about homosexuality? You want to talk about homosexuALITY?

Sit down CHRIStian. Give me that bible you’re waving before you hurt yourself. I’m going to resist the temptation to snatch it from your hands and beat you with it. I am your worst nightmare, a Texas preacher who knows The Book better than you do.

You cannot wave your unread bible and scare me. I know its larger story and I will tear you a new biblical asshole...


Feb. 18th, 2003 08:09 pm
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BLOOMINGTON, IL - Claire Thompson, author David Foster Wallace's girlfriend of two years, stopped reading his 67-page breakup letter at page 20, she admitted Monday.

"It was pretty good, I guess, but I just couldn't get all the way through," said Thompson, 32, who was given the seven-chapter, heavily footnoted "Dear John" missive on Feb. 3. "I always meant to pick it up again, but then I got busy and, oh, I don't know. He's talented, but his letters can sometimes get a little self-indulgent."

Foster, the award-winning author of The Broom Of The System and the 1,079-page Infinite Jest, met Thompson in March 2001 through mutual friends.

A political-science professor at Illinois State University, where Wallace teaches creative writing, Thompson said pages 4 through 11 of the letter chronicled the deterioration of the relationship "fairly well." She specifically cited Item 64, on page 7, from the section, "How I Can Tell Things Have Changed":

"It used to be that if you were away from the table or in the next room or otherwise unable to witness this admittedly unsavory and wholly intrusive activity on my part, in little spasms of unhealthy obsession I would peek into your Day Runner Personal Planner so as to gauge how much together-time we would have during the upcoming week at a glance; lately, howeverÑif you are at all able to move past this revelation of my no-two-ways-around-it unforgivable and unjustifiable invasion of privacy and on to the rather telling pointÑI have found myself either viewing the week-at-a-glance in actual anticipation of our time apart or, even when opportunities for unfettered peeking presented themselves, ignoring your Day Runner Personal Planner altogether such as just last week when, stooped in rummaging position, I opted to remove from your bag and guiltily read cover-to-cover a copy of Fine Cooking magazine, therein choosing to glean particulars about the cultivation, culinary traditions, and preparation of white asparagus over those of our precious little time together."

In addition to compiling the many reasons why the relationship was no longer working, Wallace's letter featured sections on "Why We Could Never Grow Old Together," "Ways ItÑUs, The World, And EverythingÑHas All Changed," and "Things I've Never Told You (That Will Certainly Change Your Mind About Me)."

"One thing I found annoying was that you had to read all the way to the middle to figure out what things on the first page of the letter were talking about," Thompson said. "For instance, he kept referring to somebody named The Cackler without explanation until page 11, at which point I finally found out that The Cackler is my friend RenéeÑessentially forcing me to read the whole first 11 pages over again. And then there are all the footnotes. I always felt he overused those in his valentines, too..."

Download (oh, my heart) a PDF excerpt.



OK, much as I love Infinite Jest,
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the Agonist and the Russian Beauty are married.

is this the cutest couple ever or what?

Oh, come on, you love them.

I'm verklempt myself.

Congratulations. Bless your hearts, guys. I hope the three of you have a large time.


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