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OCCASIONAL COMMENTS ON THE ARTS HIGH AND LOW + AND ON HANDKE CONTROVERSIES ALSO SEE: http://handke-trivia.blogspot.com/ http://www.handke.scriptmania.com/favorite_links_1.html http://handke-discussion.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A COMMENT ON THE NYRB & ROBERT SILVERS


LINKS TO MEMORIAL TRIBUTES

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/remembering-robert-silvers?mbid=nl_TNY Template - With Photo (148)&CNDID=7634537&spMailingID=10666050&spUserID=MTMzMTg1NTY1MDQwS0&spJobID=1121699886&spReportId=MTEyMTY5OTg4NgS2

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/28/opinion/the-importance-of-bob-silvers.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170428&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=2&nlid=30242044&ref=headline&te=1

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/05/11/robert-silvers-tributes/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NYR%20French%20history%20Robert%20Silvers%20princesses&utm_content=NYR%20French%20history%20Robert%20Silvers%20princesses+CID_09ebfe281234405164c75e170ff0aa79&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_term=Robert%20B%20Silvers%2019292017

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/03/21/remembering-bob-silvers/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NYR%20Paul%20Auster%20Trump%20in%20the%20Middle%20East%20the%20value%20of%20translators&utm_content=NYR%20Paul%20Auster%20Trump%20in%20the%20Middle%20East%20the%20value%20of%20translators+CID_547d48304529f3aed19840dde3c3d240&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_term=Remembering%20Bob%20Silvers

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n08/andrew-ohagan/on-robert-silvers?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3908&utm_content=usca_nonsubs


http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/04/20/robert-b-silvers-1929-2017/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NYR%20French%20writers%20and%20artists%20Teju%20Coles%20realm%20Robert%20Silvers&utm_content=NYR%20French%20writers%20and%20artists%20Teju%20Coles%20realm%20Robert%20Silvers+CID_3e603e88466f5497e92a24d929c1fb5d&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_term=Robert%20B%20Silvers%2019292017

VOICES http://lithub.com/literary-voices-on-the-legendary-brilliance-of-robert-silvers/

link to further memorial accounts:
https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/online-only/on-robert-silvers/?utm_source=MASTER+LIST+2%2F17%2F17&utm_campaign=ae793b948d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b822eb7b82-ae793b948d-399075509&mc_cid=ae793b948d&mc_eid=c1c8353211

link to a nice memoir by one of Bob's ex-assistants, I worked even longer hours at Urizen 

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/my-life-as-bob-silverss-assistant?mbid=nl_170325_Daily&CNDID=7634537&spMailingID=10691125&spUserID=MTMzMTg1NTY1MDQwS0&spJobID=1121971088&spReportId=MTEyMTk3MTA4OAS2

Dear Mr. Grimes,


Bob Silvers appears to have been a writer’s editor & I recall my happiness in the 60s with the first issue of the NYRB, whereas my subsequent experience as editor and publisher, however, was that a NYRB review (as, say, compared to a long New Yorker review) didn’t help sell books because the reviews were consciously tailored (as Bob would write me on one occasion in the early 80s) so as to obviate its readers need to read the reviewed titles - the NYRB in that respect perpetuating a general American reviewing custom, even furthering it since the length of the pieces heightened the impression that the time-pressed reader  would end up knowing all they needed or might want to, or to chat about at a cocktail party. Even so, to what extent did the work published there stand up to scholarly standards? And who ae these readers that don’t buy books?


The NYRB, perhaps it was solely Robert Silvers’ doing - he and I who were sort of pals once made a date to participate in a Russian human rights event in the mid 1970s - as a human rights hyena.




http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2014/10/humanity-hyenas-ruirination-of-human.html


then ended up doing grievous harm, on those ideological grounds, to that very special bebé of mine, Peter Handke, and this despite the NYRB having given his work a fair shake at his initial apoearance in the USA, endeding up doing the opposite several times.


http://handke-discussion.blogspot.com/2009/12/letter-to-robert-silvers-ny-review-of.html 



In its drift rightward the NYRB, already in the 70s, stopped publishing Naom Chomsky and anyone of truly fundamental critical acumen and started to drift toward publishing easily editable liberal pundits of all kinds & in that way to begin to resemble the paper, also in that fashion, not just in its reviewing practice, the one it had sought to differentiate itself from, the New York Times & its Book Review.



I was introduced to Bob Silvers in the early 60s, through Fred Seidel, whom I had met through close friend Frank Conroy - the two lay-abroads were married to the unfortunately betrothed Ferguson sisters, Phyllis  & Patricia (Pattie). Fred & I got along, he later was one of the first to be puzzled by Handke’s INNERWORLD poems, I instruted Fred in Brecht’s poetics, he showed me how Lowell worked - at the time I was quite well-versed in American poetry and edited Metamorphosis where I published a hunk from Fred’s FINAL SOLUTIONS, his first collection. I had sececded from graduate school, Bob as editor of Harper’s Review asked me - out of the blue - to write something about American education. I hadn’t approached him wanting to write anything, during those days my ambitions were editorial, and had never given the matter of US. education much thought  - but still was appalled, had not got over the shock of my freshman and suffermore years at West Orange, that had succeeded those two great flourishing years at the Ploen Gymnasium - the ant-acid of Oakwood Friends School had been a marvelous reprieve, but a solitary one, the full realization of the degree to which Haverford College had been the wrong place for me at that time in my life did not dawn on me until I wrote SCREEN MEMORIES a few years ago - after Paris & Munich & Berlin, what? Back to Lancaster Pike? - NYU or some big school in Chicago, or more Paris or Berlin or London was what would have been rigt for me. Had I been in a reflective state of mind I might have written something for Bob, whom I instantly liked.

My two years at Stanford had driven home to me that I did not want to spend my life in a university department, certainly not of the kind as the then Stanford German Departmentw was constituted - something fundamentally activist made me go dead a the prospect as I would have if I had stayed. Teaching I found delightfulm even at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning, especially because so many flirtatious co-edes were  pretty and bright - if only I could have transported all of us to a seraglie - and I still had a college girlfriend back east. 

I also was around the time of the founding of the NYRB, via Fred I suppose, got to know Whitney and some of the others, and as I drifted via Farrar, Straus, two years of agenting, a year at McGraw-Hill to finally being in a position to do some real publishing at Continuum Books had always kept up a relationship with Bob.

In the early 80s, post Urizen, post an analyisis but studying to be perhaps a child analyst, and on the West Coast, under the influence of Handke’s THE REPETITION & the surround of Malibu surf and chapparal and dusty paths I wrote long piece about Handke & Being and sent it to a number of folk, it was far too long for Partisan where I had done a few things, but Bob wrote back that “they had almost taken it” - but, in effect, what they did was publish pieces that gave scientists the gist of of someone’s work; the NYRB is a Reader’s Digest for hurried intellectuals.

 Fancying the idea that maybe I could write a comprehensive piece about the Handke of that time - up until THE REPETITION - I roughed out an entire book, marked up the manuscript as to what I thought needed to be touched on in such a proposed piece, but eventually Bob wrote that no they did not want that, a 25 thousand word piece it would have been. 

I introduce thss prolegema to indicate that Bob Silvers knew who Handke and his work was, also from the two long eearlier round-ups that he had published, before he put out the so devastating to Handke Marcus piece, and then refused to run my letter to the editor objecting not to Marcus political take but Marcus’s hideous mis-evaluations of Handke’s work, obviously motivated by a hatred of Handke’s Yugosla position - which Bob may have shared, via Susan Sontag:  this the background to my eventual long open letter to Bob Silvers, decimating the Marcus piece - and now a bit of cold water on the reputation of the dear man, which ought have considered the politics of the deceased not just his fine labors.


     

the nyrb is as parochial as this country including its occasional anglophiliac splurges. no evidence of silvers time spent in Paris. 


i have a few more items for the posting. hard work finding the right  reviewer? certainly not in handke’s case sinc it appear the knives were out as soon as H. opted to defend the serbs and milosevics. no one none of these moral hyenas would give him a break or be reflective. an astonishing little moral orgy was had back then. 

someone there had a bad psychoanalytic experience, otherwise i cant explain their giving fred crews a soap box. an open letter to him coming up.  .




​http://moravian-nights-discussion.blogspot.com/p/decimating.html


​http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/02/09/peter-handke-stranger-in-love/


http://moravian-nights-discussion.blogspot.com/2016/04/moravian-discussion-index.html​


but at least publishing Scott Abbott’s letter to the editor - a rare event on one of these many occasions when Handke is taken to the woodshed for a Serbian spanking.




http://handke-discussion.blogspot.com/2010/07/catastrophic-handke-reception-in-united.html




http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2015/04/peter-handke-new-york-times-50-year.html




NYRB/ KIRSCH REPLY TO SCOTT ABBOTT'S TAKE-DOWN OF IDEOLOGICAL HACK KARSCH http://moravian-nights-discussion.blogspot.com/p/nyrb-reply-to-scott-abbotts-take-down.html






Surprisingly so, despite having been in Havana as supposed friends of the mid-70s Bob was resistant to any of his brilliant friend H. M. Enzensberger’s essays that I collected at Continuum Books as The Consciousness Industry & Politics & Crime as well as to reviewing same & it is only just now, well into the 21st century that the NYRB finally gets around to noticing the Frankfurt School - 


http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2017/03/a-comment-on-freemams-ny-rb-piecee.html




thus, the NYRB is scarcely radical, or cutting edge, or intellectually comprehensive,  but constitutes, occupies a well-written upper-middle-brow centrist  conservative position. 




 There is the NYRB's strange endorsment of Fred Crew's war against Freud and psychoanalysis that persists to this day 
http://www.nybooks.com/contributors/frederick-c-crews/
and the only explanation for which musht b e that someone there had an unsuccessful analysis. The summer time blues may be  incurable yet the process can be most enlightening, especially if you decide to put some work into it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

ACUTE OTIS MAJOR

Acute Otis Media



Mention of middle ear infection, of acute otis media, invariably brings to mind my tonsillectomy and the following love and death event and the story 
The Tonsilectomy - or:
Liebestod at an Early Age.

that I have written about it and that this is the third time I am writing this story. The first time naively - that is, unselfconsciously - in one fine fell swoop, I did so in 1957, during my Junior year abroad. I sent it to my friend Frank Conroy, the editor of the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Review, the manuscript was stolen out of his car trunk in Nantucket. I then wrote the story once more, Senior year, back in the USSR, but it felt awkward to repeat what had come naturally, poured out of me the first time round, but as the successor editor of the Review, with the blonde lionesss, Paula Dunaway holding down the Bryn Mawr side – nontheless published the story in the only issue the two editors managed to produce that Year. Betsy Nelson, who is still Paula’s friend, did a cover with a pathetic plunging Icarus. Professor Satherswaite, the English department advisor and reviewer, pronounced the entire issue an Icarus that had plunged to death, a dud! This third and final time around the story is told with considerable knowledge of its importance in my life and its all around implications, you could say that I have subjected the story to an analysis and interprtation prior to writing it a third time, so I say who happens to appreciate a famous essay enitled Against Interpretation as he does few othrs.
On the immediate level, back in 1957 the story  provided yet one more reason to start to think of women as being made of porcelain; and, secondly, about forty years later, in the early 1980s, the story proves its essential function when  I tell the story to my presumptive analyst during the first exploratory week where he and I discover whether he the analyst and I the prospective patient will be a good fit. When I come to the the very end of the story Dr. Enigma flinches, and does so for a damn good reason, and I realize that he has the requsite sensitivities, so I realize who is am someone who nearly flinches at the sight even of his own scars, and I agree to enter into the analytic compact. I imagine I was testing him who proved the right choice indeed overall, I got quite lucky there now that I am at least halfway well-versed in the matter, and the only real mistake he committed was the usual: hubris, grandiosity: to think that he could claim not to know German and not be caught out during the extraordinary closeness that can develop between analyst and analysand, an analyzand translator at that! Now the story from painful beginning to painful end, a phenomenology condensed.
    

It is the umpteenth middle ear infection. I have just recovered from yet another and gone back to ice skating! But there it is: yet another Acute Otis Media as the good doctor called it, explaining that Acute Otis Media was the Latin medical designation for the phenomenon, as though an important sounding name would make me feel better and I  speculate whether my ear drum might start to resemble a sieve if the eardrum kept being punctured or my governess’s needle-pad nose, who was always darning. 
The situation is so dire as to require immediate action, and that means piercing, and for once without anesthetic.  
    Beloved Omi (Grandma) R. and hated governess Ms. No hover about and peer down at me – I think I dimly remember - I turn my entire body to my left side, as I have been asked to. Pulling on the right ear lobe the doctor first straightens the ear canal and  then inserts the ear speculum, the gleaming metal otoscope, into the external ear. He braces his hand, holding the otoscope against my head, placing the index finger against the  head and, in an alarmingly alarmed tone of voice, announces: “I will have to puncture it now or it will burst… Be a strong boy now. This will hurt but only for a second.” I thought of other pains I had learned to prepare myself for… as when you fall and prepare to have an abraded knee I knew the impact of a sharp stone tossed against my head – very painful the one time it had happened during a village rock fight. Cuts, bruises, sprains of all kinds as piercing pain nearly makes me break out in tears, but for tears to flow the pain is actually too brief.   The ear ache usually began as  incipient pain, you could nearly think and hope it away, until it became insistent, throbbing. At that point I start to run a fever. Pain and fever gradually sharpen. The pain had been quite fierce at this point, nearly so fierce as to make me cry when the physician had to pierce the eardrum without first adminiering any kind of aneasthetic. He has  offered a trade-off - sharp pain in exchange for relief. Anything for relief. I nodded, go ahead. The scream that issues from me as the doctor pierces the eardrum must have pierced his and the women’s eardrums it was that high-pitched and extreme and unexpected, elicited by a pain against which no anticipation seemed to have bee able to insure. NO: the pain was so extreme it left me speechless in disbelief that anything could hurt that much – and yet be so brief. It was the most intense physical pain I have experienced ever and represents the high end on the continuum of sharp pain.  The continuum of dull aches had for a marker a horse needle, as it was called, the size of the instrument that is used to lubricate an automobiles front end with thick grease,  that was introduced between parts of my banged up right soccer knee to withdraw the turbid liquid that had swelled the knee as though I was starting to suffer from elephantisis. That drawing of the water was a dull, deep, seemingly forever bone pain - bone deep pain became a concept - as that huge needle was introduced into a space between parts of the knee. The ear drum piercing pain lasted a millisecond, if a millisecond can be said to last, but was so sharp and intense it left me not just speechless but incapable of uttering the scream, stuck in my throat, I felt the pain deserved. It of course makes snese that the eardrum has such a concentration of nerves, the better to hear with sensitively.
The physician annonces that I needed a tonsillectomy, the tonsils in back of my throat are the hotbed for continuous infections. I agree, I want the hot-bed gone. I look in the mirror the physician holds up for me as he shines a flashlight into the back of my throat – very red throat and two small egg-shaped very red thingies with white dots on them. “The white dots are the infection” the good doctor says as he packs his trusty and familiar physician’s mailbox shaped satchel.
#
The lamp above the operating table or is it an operating chair? is atremble, it flickers, the room shakes, the entire space is shaking, tremoring as during an earthquake, as the physicians, scalpels in hand, who are administering the anesthetic in an above ground air-raid bunker, are hovering above me as Bremen is under attack... in May 1944, now, and they bide their time. Caught in a moment of... we should we not… as I drift off…  I evidently drifted off, the anesthetic also anesthetized the air raid attack since I came to, regained consciousness in a room with nurses in the light grey habits of a religious order, so it seems, black head dress. Yes, that pain, the highest and most extreme end of it but only for a millisecond, a millipede of a second... but no pain from the tonsil operation which was performed with anesthetic, dull pain in the throat now and for some days. Aspirin as painkiller? I don’t recall. Careful what you eat and fluids fluids fluids oatmeal while it heals. Future ear aches will bring back the possibility of further punctures without anesthetic. The trembling light, the flickering light and the shaking bunker as the operation is about to proceed, is the most immediate recollection. A shaky world. What if the supposedly impregnable bunker is hit and proves pregnable was, I imagine, the unarticulated fear that I gathered from the faces of the physicians during those moments as I was drifting off; or their concern for my well being.
#

Then, the weather not inclement, comes the most significant upshot from the tonsil operation. A nurse walks me – or am I in a wheelchair the first few days after the operation? - out onto the hospital terrace to recuperate. – To recuperate! I couldn’t wait! And I lie on a deck chair next to a woman who I near immediately decide must be “the most beautiful woman in the world” – more beautiful it appears than Viola, the mother of Constantine and Sven, of just a year prior, whose photo I can google some seventy-five years hence, confirming that initial memory and impression. Viola/ Jola, a film actress of the 20s and 30, on her photos, even now looks amazingly beautiful. It appears I must have forgotten about my mother! as I regard my neighbor, who I am told is twenty-eight years old, a dark-haired beauty, I had not seen such full breasts, albeit in outline, since... from the side the curve of the breast looks like the ramp you could use for a ski jump, its pert comma-like end would provide that extra fillip to get you airborne I thought as a nurse inveighs: “One does not look at breasts!” At this moment the young dark-haired woman, who is lying next to me on the veranda in a deck chair, is resting, recuperating aw well, it turns out that she has an ailing heart. We proceed to play solitaire for two which I know how to play since I play it nearly each day with one of my two grandmothers, the one who says that she has no further interest in being alive and refuses to go down into the cellar during air raids. The young woman tells me that she has for a husband - does she realize that I would marry her on the spot? is that why she is telling me that she has a husband? - a Messerschmidt pilot, the pilot of one of those objects in the sky that you only hear, like chalk being scraped across the chalkboard, screech across the slate grey dark or blue sky, but that, so far, you have not caught sight of: The nag, Lisa, and you and the foreman on the bench of the ladder-wagon rear up as one as the screech slashes scythe-like across the sky… but leaves no mark. “What was that?” (“Wat war denn dat?” Klinner speaking in Platt, the lowland dialect.) Perhaps it is the miracle weapon the radio talks about. At any event, yet another fright, for man and beast alike. Another terror in the sky. The beautiful woman, who is in her late twenties, has a heart ailment and you play solitaire for two with her as you did as you do with your grand-mother during air raid attacks during which she no longer wants to go down into the cellar and as you will continue to do with your grandmother once you are back home and she, who is longing for her daughter, your mother, and her husband, and who has been bombed out of her apartment, refuses to go into the cellar during the air raids. - Spring and summer 1944 wonderful air raid days, a profusion of cloudless skies and nights that allow the admirers of armadas in the sky a profusion of admirable formations, the occasional moth caught in the beams seeking to escape the puffs of smoke that want to pummel it, and the occasional downed bomber, and lots of shrapnel for the shrapnel fanciers and don’t stick your head out the window when the ack-ack is blasting away. The wife of the pilot is the most beautiful woman in the world, something of a refrain of mine for the rest of my life, since there are so many beautiful women in the world, so many of whom will die prematurely, of breast cancer, but I associate the sight and this refrain with the excruciating pain of the initial incision to relieve the pressure on an ear drum that is about to burst, and what a pain that explosion would have been!, but with an equally surprising pleasure a pleasure that I will feel periodically throughout my life and would like to feel at all times. However, the first time of all kinds of matters is always the most memorable, and some pleasures never become routine. For not only is the young woman the most beautiful woman in the world she also has the world’s most beautiful bosom! I cannot take my eyes off her breasts, even as we play solitaire, or especially then since she has to lean forward revealing their naked fullness. My eyes fasten, feast on them, with the result that I begin to feel, that I begin to notice my “little one,” my penis, become erect in my pajamas under the blanket – and that I look to discern whether the erection is visible, it felt so strong and powerful, so extraordinarily pleasurable. And very different from when I had touched myself. The beautifully-shaped full young breasts, that curve, that ski-slope-like curve, that lilt from breast bone to the tip of the breast, on which you could wanted to slither as on a toboggan, launch yourself to heaven is what they looked like, looking up at that face. Ski slopes made for reverying, and for interruption by the habited nurse: “One doesn’t look at breasts.” Curved, ski-slope-like young breast that elicit that powerful reaction. Young breasts like that have a kind of twist, a comma curve to them, these breasts are young and ask for something other than a child, virginally tempting. I love them but am puzzled. I will certainly be a most loyal knight if the lady would bestow her favors, which I realize are not just milk chocolate, relief from the sweetness in my groin. The dark-haired somewhat melancholy beauty and my erection provide something to look forward to each morning after breakfast and I have washed up… and I visit her in her room if it isn’t sunny, but like it best when we lie next to each other on the hospital veranda, I cannot recall a single other patient, but recall the nurses hovering about, in their habits and their head coverings. I spent perhaps two weeks in the hospital recuperating… occasionally Ms. No shows up even though I thought I had killed her when she had tried to spoon-feed me yet once again while I had been lying sick in bed… and seeks to interfere… and that is the first time I recall that I used the tactic of utterly ignoring someone who was not supposed to interfere. I return to the hospital for a checkup after a few weeks and ask to see my love with the dark hair and the beautiful breasts. The nurses tell me that she has died, that her heart gave out, and that she died because I excited her too much (And Dr. Enigma flinches once again & acquires yet another sensitive patient.)… and it is unlikely that the nurses have the slightest how, what was meant to be a sweet joke the kind that only the puritanical are capable of making, terrifies me, their teasing me in this fashion for a deep infatuation. It is a significant event for several reasons. One, I will have yet one more reason to start to think of women as being made of porcelain; the grandmother who refuses to go down into the basement and her Dresden Chinaware with the calligraphy being another reasons;  and forty years hence, I tell the story to my presumptive analyst during the first exploratory week, whether I and the analyst will be a good fit, my analyst, Dr. Enigma flinches… and I realize that the analyst is as sensitive as I, can be to pain, who flinches at the sight even of his own scars, and I agree to enter into the analytic compact.





-- 




 Acute Otis Media



Mention of middle ear infection, of acute otis media, invariably brings to mind my tonsillectomy and the following love and death event and the story 
The Tonsilectomy - or:
Liebestod at an Early Age.

that I have written about it and that this is the third time I am writing this story. The first time naively - that is, unselfconsciously - in one fine fell swoop, I did so in 1957, during my Junior year abroad. I sent it to my friend Frank Conroy, the editor of the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Review, the manuscript was stolen out of his car trunk in Nantucket. I then wrote the story once more, Senior year, back in the USSR, but it felt awkward to repeat what had come naturally, poured out of me the first time round, but as the successor editor of the Review, with the blonde lionesss, Paula Dunaway holding down the Bryn Mawr side – nontheless published the story in the only issue the two editors managed to produce that Year. Betsy Nelson, who is still Paula’s friend, did a cover with a pathetic plunging Icarus. Professor Satherswaite, the English department advisor and reviewer, pronounced the entire issue an Icarus that had plunged to death, a dud! This third and final time around the story is told with considerable knowledge of its importance in my life and its all around implications, you could say that I have subjected the story to an analysis and interprtation prior to writing it a third time, so I say who happens to appreciate a famous essay enitled Against Interpretation as he does few othrs.
On the immediate level, back in 1957 the story  provided yet one more reason to start to think of women as being made of porcelain; and, secondly, about forty years later, in the early 1980s, the story proves its essential function when  I tell the story to my presumptive analyst during the first exploratory week where he and I discover whether he the analyst and I the prospective patient will be a good fit. When I come to the the very end of the story Dr. Enigma flinches, and does so for a damn good reason, and I realize that he has the requsite sensitivities, so I realize who is am someone who nearly flinches at the sight even of his own scars, and I agree to enter into the analytic compact. I imagine I was testing him who proved the right choice indeed overall, I got quite lucky there now that I am at least halfway well-versed in the matter, and the only real mistake he committed was the usual: hubris, grandiosity: to think that he could claim not to know German and not be caught out during the extraordinary closeness that can develop between analyst and analysand, an analyzand translator at that! Now the story from painful beginning to painful end, a phenomenology condensed.
    

It is the umpteenth middle ear infection. I have just recovered from yet another and gone back to ice skating! But there it is: yet another Acute Otis Media as the good doctor called it, explaining that Acute Otis Media was the Latin medical designation for the phenomenon, as though an important sounding name would make me feel better and I  speculate whether my ear drum might start to resemble a sieve if the eardrum kept being punctured or my governess’s needle-pad nose, who was always darning. 
The situation is so dire as to require immediate action, and that means piercing, and for once without anesthetic.  
    Beloved Omi (Grandma) R. and hated governess Ms. No hover about and peer down at me – I think I dimly remember - I turn my entire body to my left side, as I have been asked to. Pulling on the right ear lobe the doctor first straightens the ear canal and  then inserts the ear speculum, the gleaming metal otoscope, into the external ear. He braces his hand, holding the otoscope against my head, placing the index finger against the  head and, in an alarmingly alarmed tone of voice, announces: “I will have to puncture it now or it will burst… Be a strong boy now. This will hurt but only for a second.” I thought of other pains I had learned to prepare myself for… as when you fall and prepare to have an abraded knee I knew the impact of a sharp stone tossed against my head – very painful the one time it had happened during a village rock fight. Cuts, bruises, sprains of all kinds as piercing pain nearly makes me break out in tears, but for tears to flow the pain is actually too brief.   The ear ache usually began as  incipient pain, you could nearly think and hope it away, until it became insistent, throbbing. At that point I start to run a fever. Pain and fever gradually sharpen. The pain had been quite fierce at this point, nearly so fierce as to make me cry when the physician had to pierce the eardrum without first adminiering any kind of aneasthetic. He has  offered a trade-off - sharp pain in exchange for relief. Anything for relief. I nodded, go ahead. The scream that issues from me as the doctor pierces the eardrum must have pierced his and the women’s eardrums it was that high-pitched and extreme and unexpected, elicited by a pain against which no anticipation seemed to have bee able to insure. NO: the pain was so extreme it left me speechless in disbelief that anything could hurt that much – and yet be so brief. It was the most intense physical pain I have experienced ever and represents the high end on the continuum of sharp pain.  The continuum of dull aches had for a marker a horse needle, as it was called, the size of the instrument that is used to lubricate an automobiles front end with thick grease,  that was introduced between parts of my banged up right soccer knee to withdraw the turbid liquid that had swelled the knee as though I was starting to suffer from elephantisis. That drawing of the water was a dull, deep, seemingly forever bone pain - bone deep pain became a concept - as that huge needle was introduced into a space between parts of the knee. The ear drum piercing pain lasted a millisecond, if a millisecond can be said to last, but was so sharp and intense it left me not just speechless but incapable of uttering the scream, stuck in my throat, I felt the pain deserved. It of course makes snese that the eardrum has such a concentration of nerves, the better to hear with sensitively.
The physician annonces that I needed a tonsillectomy, the tonsils in back of my throat are the hotbed for continuous infections. I agree, I want the hot-bed gone. I look in the mirror the physician holds up for me as he shines a flashlight into the back of my throat – very red throat and two small egg-shaped very red thingies with white dots on them. “The white dots are the infection” the good doctor says as he packs his trusty and familiar physician’s mailbox shaped satchel.
#
The lamp above the operating table or is it an operating chair? is atremble, it flickers, the room shakes, the entire space is shaking, tremoring as during an earthquake, as the physicians, scalpels in hand, who are administering the anesthetic in an above ground air-raid bunker, are hovering above me as Bremen is under attack... in May 1944, now, and they bide their time. Caught in a moment of... we should we not… as I drift off…  I evidently drifted off, the anesthetic also anesthetized the air raid attack since I came to, regained consciousness in a room with nurses in the light grey habits of a religious order, so it seems, black head dress. Yes, that pain, the highest and most extreme end of it but only for a millisecond, a millipede of a second... but no pain from the tonsil operation which was performed with anesthetic, dull pain in the throat now and for some days. Aspirin as painkiller? I don’t recall. Careful what you eat and fluids fluids fluids oatmeal while it heals. Future ear aches will bring back the possibility of further punctures without anesthetic. The trembling light, the flickering light and the shaking bunker as the operation is about to proceed, is the most immediate recollection. A shaky world. What if the supposedly impregnable bunker is hit and proves pregnable was, I imagine, the unarticulated fear that I gathered from the faces of the physicians during those moments as I was drifting off; or their concern for my well being.
#

Then, the weather not inclement, comes the most significant upshot from the tonsil operation. A nurse walks me – or am I in a wheelchair the first few days after the operation? - out onto the hospital terrace to recuperate. – To recuperate! I couldn’t wait! And I lie on a deck chair next to a woman who I near immediately decide must be “the most beautiful woman in the world” – more beautiful it appears than Viola, the mother of Constantine and Sven, of just a year prior, whose photo I can google some seventy-five years hence, confirming that initial memory and impression. Viola/ Jola, a film actress of the 20s and 30, on her photos, even now looks amazingly beautiful. It appears I must have forgotten about my mother! as I regard my neighbor, who I am told is twenty-eight years old, a dark-haired beauty, I had not seen such full breasts, albeit in outline, since... from the side the curve of the breast looks like the ramp you could use for a ski jump, its pert comma-like end would provide that extra fillip to get you airborne I thought as a nurse inveighs: “One does not look at breasts!” At this moment the young dark-haired woman, who is lying next to me on the veranda in a deck chair, is resting, recuperating aw well, it turns out that she has an ailing heart. We proceed to play solitaire for two which I know how to play since I play it nearly each day with one of my two grandmothers, the one who says that she has no further interest in being alive and refuses to go down into the cellar during air raids. The young woman tells me that she has for a husband - does she realize that I would marry her on the spot? is that why she is telling me that she has a husband? - a Messerschmidt pilot, the pilot of one of those objects in the sky that you only hear, like chalk being scraped across the chalkboard, screech across the slate grey dark or blue sky, but that, so far, you have not caught sight of: The nag, Lisa, and you and the foreman on the bench of the ladder-wagon rear up as one as the screech slashes scythe-like across the sky… but leaves no mark. “What was that?” (“Wat war denn dat?” Klinner speaking in Platt, the lowland dialect.) Perhaps it is the miracle weapon the radio talks about. At any event, yet another fright, for man and beast alike. Another terror in the sky. The beautiful woman, who is in her late twenties, has a heart ailment and you play solitaire for two with her as you did as you do with your grand-mother during air raid attacks during which she no longer wants to go down into the cellar and as you will continue to do with your grandmother once you are back home and she, who is longing for her daughter, your mother, and her husband, and who has been bombed out of her apartment, refuses to go into the cellar during the air raids. - Spring and summer 1944 wonderful air raid days, a profusion of cloudless skies and nights that allow the admirers of armadas in the sky a profusion of admirable formations, the occasional moth caught in the beams seeking to escape the puffs of smoke that want to pummel it, and the occasional downed bomber, and lots of shrapnel for the shrapnel fanciers and don’t stick your head out the window when the ack-ack is blasting away. The wife of the pilot is the most beautiful woman in the world, something of a refrain of mine for the rest of my life, since there are so many beautiful women in the world, so many of whom will die prematurely, of breast cancer, but I associate the sight and this refrain with the excruciating pain of the initial incision to relieve the pressure on an ear drum that is about to burst, and what a pain that explosion would have been!, but with an equally surprising pleasure a pleasure that I will feel periodically throughout my life and would like to feel at all times. However, the first time of all kinds of matters is always the most memorable, and some pleasures never become routine. For not only is the young woman the most beautiful woman in the world she also has the world’s most beautiful bosom! I cannot take my eyes off her breasts, even as we play solitaire, or especially then since she has to lean forward revealing their naked fullness. My eyes fasten, feast on them, with the result that I begin to feel, that I begin to notice my “little one,” my penis, become erect in my pajamas under the blanket – and that I look to discern whether the erection is visible, it felt so strong and powerful, so extraordinarily pleasurable. And very different from when I had touched myself. The beautifully-shaped full young breasts, that curve, that ski-slope-like curve, that lilt from breast bone to the tip of the breast, on which you could wanted to slither as on a toboggan, launch yourself to heaven is what they looked like, looking up at that face. Ski slopes made for reverying, and for interruption by the habited nurse: “One doesn’t look at breasts.” Curved, ski-slope-like young breast that elicit that powerful reaction. Young breasts like that have a kind of twist, a comma curve to them, these breasts are young and ask for something other than a child, virginally tempting. I love them but am puzzled. I will certainly be a most loyal knight if the lady would bestow her favors, which I realize are not just milk chocolate, relief from the sweetness in my groin. The dark-haired somewhat melancholy beauty and my erection provide something to look forward to each morning after breakfast and I have washed up… and I visit her in her room if it isn’t sunny, but like it best when we lie next to each other on the hospital veranda, I cannot recall a single other patient, but recall the nurses hovering about, in their habits and their head coverings. I spent perhaps two weeks in the hospital recuperating… occasionally Ms. No shows up even though I thought I had killed her when she had tried to spoon-feed me yet once again while I had been lying sick in bed… and seeks to interfere… and that is the first time I recall that I used the tactic of utterly ignoring someone who was not supposed to interfere. I return to the hospital for a checkup after a few weeks and ask to see my love with the dark hair and the beautiful breasts. The nurses tell me that she has died, that her heart gave out, and that she died because I excited her too much (And Dr. Enigma flinches once again & acquires yet another sensitive patient.)… and it is unlikely that the nurses have the slightest how, what was meant to be a sweet joke the kind that only the puritanical are capable of making, terrifies me, their teasing me in this fashion for a deep infatuation. It is a significant event for several reasons. One, I will have yet one more reason to start to think of women as being made of porcelain; the grandmother who refuses to go down into the basement and her Dresden Chinaware with the calligraphy being another reasons;  and forty years hence, I tell the story to my presumptive analyst during the first exploratory week, whether I and the analyst will be a good fit, my analyst, Dr. Enigma flinches… and I realize that the analyst is as sensitive as I, can be to pain, who flinches at the sight even of his own scars, and I agree to enter into the analytic compact.





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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A COMMENT ON FREEMAM'S NY RB PIECEE The Headquarters of Neo-Marxism ​


RE: The Headquarters of Neo-Marxism by Samuel Freema

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/03/23/frankfurt-school-headquarters-neo-marxism/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NYR%20The%20Crown%20Nicholson%20Baker%20Frankfurt%20School&utm_content=NYR%20The%20Crown%20Nicholson%20Baker%20Frankfurt%20School+CID_00d75a837ba9c2bd37a684ee22002688&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_term=The%20Neo-Marxist%20Headquarters



As someone who worked in the publishing, but not the contentiousness, trenches of the Frankfurt School, at Farrar Straus (an Adorno Reader I spent a year developing and for which Susan Sontag was going to write the introdution, killed by a twerp after I left the firm in 1969), Continuum and Urizen Books (many works but most proudly Adorno’s Introduction to the Sociology of Music & Arato/ Gebhardt’s Frankfurt School Reader) I dont find myself overlu disgruntled by Samuel Freeman’s necessarily reductionist superficial description of these matters until Freeman writes:

“We may sometimes lament capitalist excesses and be bothered by the emptiness of consumerism, but few of us condemn capitalism as a moral corruption of the self that prevents us from realizing true human values or from knowing the truth about ourselves and our social relationsm” at which point when my vagus nerve encounters this pedestrian shallow the nerve revolts and I vomit - so much for the difference between Mr. Freeman’s and Walter Benjamin - and because I am mindful of the huge cost to the people, world wide, of the generational “hiccup”, more or less severe, of a militaristic capitalism and its imperialisms, and therefore I am not in the least surprised that Freeman’s “normalized" sensibilities remain untroubled by “what we now consider ordinary—shopping and consumer society, popular music and culture, radio and TV, advertising—that makes the Frankfurt School seem most.   distant from modern liberal sensibilities.”   - The Center will not hold? No, everything tends toward the center of the garbage pile and ends up with a near majority voting for the  the garbage king, Donald Trump, and do so for accountable reasons. The unaccountable riches of the Frankfurt School  seem not to have enriched Mr. Freeman.


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