Rush Limbaugh recently attacked beloved local Washington DC leftist bookstore and cafe Busboys and Poets for not carrying his new children’s book Rush...moreRush Limbaugh recently attacked beloved local Washington DC leftist bookstore and cafe Busboys and Poets for not carrying his new children’s book Rush Revere and the First Patriots. The Washington Post did a good job pointing out that Rush is fundamentally misrecognizing the function of independent bookstores, which are not always oriented toward making maximum profit (since RRATFP is among the top 5 on the NYTimes bestseller list, why wouldn’t every book chain stock him? and if they don’t, well, it’s no mystery why these independent bookstores are closing left and right- they’re ignoring the siren call of Free Market Forces! which have been proven time and again to be infallible, just, and good) but sometimes cater to specific needs, under-represented markets such as minorities, LGBT, marginalized political groups, etc. and that in this atmosphere of Amazonian monopolism, catering to niche groups that have come to support your bookstore for representing and stocking specific titles and authors and topics (that is, maintaining a specific community (I know, Rightists find that word discomfiting)) is your business. There are only a handful of independent bookstores left in DC: Politics and Prose, Kramer’s, Busboys and Poets being the most prominent, and the only ones that regularly host author events and encourage a community of writers. They deserve our business, but they especially deserve our support and protection when a mass media juggernaut like Limbaugh singles them out for derision. This man’s words establish the ideology of the Right, but beyond this, his words directly affect the actions and behavior of a large portion of the population of the United States. He, almost single-handedly, creates the reality in which the Right in this country live out their existences. That weird other universe where the Right dwells, where the world of phenomena that the rest of us exist in seems to not quite reach, or at least tapers off at the horizon of, is essentially the product of Rush Limbaugh. And that reality may not have room in it for a plurality of thought or individual lifestyles and opinions, but the world I envision and wish to live in certainly does. Do not allow him to further degrade and destroy and polarize and dissolve all that is good and fair in this country. Do not allow another multi-millionaire to play the role of “victim” of the 99%. Support Busboys and Poets, Politics and Prose, Kramer’s, support bookstores and media outlets that give voice to the marginalized and the outliers, do it with your wallet, for that is sadly one of the last voices left with which to speak in our country. If the Right has it their way, soon that rustling voice will be the only thing heard in our public sphere.(less)
Birmingham’s book won me over by the end. I’m not fond of his writing style, his analysis of Ulysses as a work of art is fairly superficial, and there...moreBirmingham’s book won me over by the end. I’m not fond of his writing style, his analysis of Ulysses as a work of art is fairly superficial, and there is a brevity and breeziness about the book as a whole that often left me unfulfilled, but as a historian he has his shit together, and we are not likely to get a more complete telling of the struggles, personal and institutional, that James Joyce, Harriet Shaw Weaver, Sylvia Beach et al. had to endure and surmount to see Joyce’s first masterpiece published and exonerated. Birmingham also does a fine job connecting Joyce, Ulysses, and its circle of supporters to other progressive movements emerging at the time, such as feminism (by the way, did you know that Ulysses only exists at all because of the overwhelmingly dedicated, courageous efforts of, predominantly, women?), socialists, anarchists, radical artists and thinkers of all ilks, and the publications that fought to give them a voice, such as The Little Review and The Egoist- a fascinating period in the history of publishing all by its lonesome.
Look, the twentieth century’s most important, popular, widely-read and commonly appreciated book, Ulysses, by all reasonable measures shouldn’t have come into existence. Joyce’s staggeringly detrimental health, poverty, and transience, the machines of institutional censorship and an oblivious, ignorant market combined mightily against its being and survival. But from our standpoint in the twenty-first century, Joyce, Weaver, and Beach are the victors. An artist’s complete freedom of expression? Let’s say the game is still on, but things are looking up.
So if you don’t know about this period in Joyce’s life and the fascinating people and circumstances that came together to give the world Ulysses, you’ll want to read this book. But also, please read Ellmann on Joyce, and for a thorough account of these times and affairs from a multiplicity of angles, please see Noel Riley Fitch’s Sylvia Beach and The Lost Generation, which both entertains and informs! Whee!(less)
"The ignorant man is not free, because what confronts him is an alien world, something outside him and in the offing, on which he depends, without his...more"The ignorant man is not free, because what confronts him is an alien world, something outside him and in the offing, on which he depends, without his having made this foreign world for himself and therefore without being at home in it by himself as in something his own. The impulse of curiosity, the pressure for knowledge, from the lowest level up to the highest rung of philosophical insight arises only from the struggle to cancel this situation of unfreedom and to make the world one's own in one's ideas and thought.” ― Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
"Phenomenology is the science that studies truth. It stands back from our rational involvement with things and marvels at the fact that there is disclosure, that things do appear, that the world can be understood, and that we in our life of thinking serve as datives for the manifestations of things. Philosophy is the art and science of evidencing evidence.
Phenomenology also examines the limitations of truth: the inescapable 'other sides' that keep things from ever being fully disclosed, the errors and vagueness that accompany evidence, and the sedimentation that makes it necessary for us always to remember again the things we already know. Phenomenology acknowledges these disturbances of truth, but it does not let them drive it to despair. It sees them just as disturbances and not as the substance of our being. It insists that along with these shadows, truth and evidence are achieved, and that reason finds its perfection in letting things come to light."-Robert Sokolowski