Noosphere Blues

[ Friday, December 26, 2003 ]

Neofiles 2 and now rapidly 3 prove R.U. Sirius's latest underground venue has staying power. A good year-end antidote to cultural gloominess, adding a little 4D technicolor to the drab official retro-present.
Phil [11:43 AM]

[ Wednesday, December 24, 2003 ]

One of the best takes yet on the Dean disruption of politics as usual, rightly taking his innovations seriously as a historical harbinger (if not quite giving adequate due to their roots in pre-internet politics from Goldwater 64 to McGovern 72 to Jimmy Carter 76 and even Jerry 1-800 Brown 92). Notable as the first informed prediction in a mainstream op-ed of a third-party presidential winner in the next two decades. One of the handful of op-ed page pieces I've read in the past year that actually seem made to stimulate new thinking rather than re-hash predictable postures. (Thanks to Arts and Letters)
Phil [12:59 PM]

[ Saturday, December 20, 2003 ]

A chance, perhaps, to prevent Ralph Nader from becoming a compulsive Stassen-ist in general, and a perversely reactionary spoiler in 2004,(as well as maybe creating a fighting chance to retire Bush)- courtesy of Rick Perlstein.

Narcissism isn't necessarily a literary virtue, but Michael Wolff usually makes it work. As here where based on his media exposures recently he ruminates that the real split in political journalism is less ideological( between conservative and liberal) than tonal (redskins and palefaces)- between the official mandarin pseudo-objectivity epitomized by PBS and the edgy passionate vulgate of the Fox right and the Michael Moore left.

A position Guy Reel (A Cahiers Du Cinema name if ever there was one) pursues more academically .
Phil [8:17 AM]

[ Monday, December 15, 2003 ]

Newly married Jesse Walker explores/and appreciates two subjects in Reason-Robert Anton Wilson and Bob Barr. That's eclecticism.
Phil [1:13 PM]

[ Wednesday, December 10, 2003 ]


Phil [12:51 PM]

Maybe he's no Dan Jenkins (my favorite sports writer), but I like Bill Kristol, sports pundit.
Phil [12:49 PM]

[ Thursday, December 04, 2003 ]

Conventional wisdom (a half-truth relentlessly reiterated) is that Republicans stand for the common people of the heartland and real american neighborhoods against the bi-coastal urban cosmopolitan "elites" (and their handful of satellite college towns scattered about middle america). The history of how that strange perversion of populism came to prominence is the stuff of a still mostly unwritten tragi-ironic historical epic. but there can be no doubt plutocratic populism is one of the most concertedly ingenious PR efforts in history.

Rick Perlstein peers at the more complex realities beneath the veneer of that narrative, in the process doing some of the best reporting of its kind the Village Voice (or pretty much anybody else) has printed since the articles the late Paul Cowan did in the 70s (collected in Tribes of America, long of print). Its good stuff, not entirely out of place in comparison with Edmund Wilson's American Earthquake reporting of the early 30s.

Phil [2:06 PM]

[ Wednesday, December 03, 2003 ]

Most journals of political opinion, whatever their ideological stripe, have one big thing in common-once you get a hang for their editorial-political code (which can take between 1 and 3 issues in most cases) they prove if not 100% far too close to 100% predictable. both in terms of subjects they'll cover (or more tellingly won't) and their stances toward them. Doug Puchowski in his introduction (unfortunately not online) to Richard Kostelanetz's Political Essays conveyed this unforgettably, noting how in one libertarian journal he subscribed to the name AYN RAND emblazoned on the cover came to serve a function not unlike that of the word SEX on teen magazines). Change the publication and you might substitute another icon.

Happily there are a few nice exceptions to that general rule. This week, for instance.some editorial curve balls worth a mention-

Who'd a thought the uber-wonkish Washington Monthly would look at how subway station musicians may be the true innovators of new business models and intellectual property regimes for 21st century music. Excellent piece by Nicholas Thompson. Or that that same publication would through the aegis of Jefferson Morley, have something fresh, interesting and potentially even useful to say about the JFK assasination on its 40th anniversary.

The American Conservative shows it's possible-post-1980- for an old-fashioned non-neo'd conservative to argue cogently against Schumpeter's creative destruction and get published.
Phil [12:29 PM]