Posts Tagged ‘Noam Chomsky’

(API) Model, TV personality, fashion maven and philanthropist Kim Kardashian will soon add another role: author. Along with William Shakespeare, Herman Melville, Pliny the Elder and Ernest Hemingway, Kardashian will enter the ranks of the literary canon after signing a $3.5 million dollar deal with Harper Collins to publish a book of her wit and wisdom on Twitter.

The book, whose working title is “Kim: What A Tweet!” is slated to hit bookshelves next spring and will comprise the best of the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star’s sage observations, epigrammatic putdowns, style tips and other eructations.

“Wait til u C my c-thru @Dorkboy.” “Party at Eva’s … @NightStalk bit.ly/tja78.” “Kisses @Robiespierre.”

“This is literature in the 2010s,” said HarperCollins associate editor Precious Denbow. “Kim sits on a perch surveying the world through the lens of an artist. A true visionary listens to her own muse, and you can tell it’s true with Kim, who barely seems to know the rest of us are here.”

“U Turn Mee On @Chinese Noodles Mee pictwitter.com/hlwff,” writes the Armenian bombshell in Chapter 8, titled, “Kim Eats.” “Vintage XOXO RT @PrinceAlbertJacket,” she adds in Chapter 9, “Kim Puts On Clothes.”

Though the book is not yet in galley form, Amy Ritter of the online magazine Salon has been following Kardashian’s Twitter account for the better part of two years. Ritter’s relentless tracing of Kardashian’s “post-omniscient voice” has left her with dark circles under her eyes, a hunched back and teacher arm, but she said it has been worth the degradation of her looks in her late ’20s to remain glued to Kardashian’s every movement, stutter and peristaltic constriction.

“Kim’s got a lot to say. Whether it’s ‘OMG, I love this song.’ To ‘OMG, Faux Fur Friday!’ My generation has become obsessed with her picaresque journey through post racial, post body conscious America. As “The Wasteland” belonged to the Lost Generation and Woodstock to the hippies, Kim belongs to us. She is proud of her body. Proud of her curves. Proud of her explicit sex tape. My feeling is that she’s probably not so proud of her spelling.”

“But hey,” Ritter adds. “This is Kim’s world. We just live in it.”

Critic Harold Bloom says that mainstream publishing has been in a rut, and that Kardashian’s book should have America talking again about the simple joys of declarative sentences, “if that’s what they are.” Deceptively simple, they can in fact be likened to Aristotlian syllogisms, he said, with both major and minor premises forming categorical propositions. “LOL,” he added.

Meanwhile, linguist Noam Chomsky says that Kardashian’s Tweets do follow some logic of innate universal grammar “which is why readers seem to understand them,” he says.

“I ❤ ombre sequins RT @Butterface,” Kardashian wrote Friday morning. “Lashes,” she wrote later, which Bloom says is apparently about eyelashes. “It is plainly in the indicative mood!” he says.

“You underestimate her at her peril,” says Bloom. “If you don’t believe me, maybe her seven figure deal with Harper Collins will shut you up. Bullshit, as they say, walks.”

“Gym ouch RT @FitnessFrance bit.ly/387FF,” Kim wrote in a tweet followed by a bunch of numbers that were likely garbled Hex code. “My nipslip @boo HuffPo instagram.com/72985.”

HarperCollins’ Denbow was asked if it might not be better to publish more books by up and coming authors, betting on 10 fresh talents for a potential breakthrough to compete with the thriving indie book world, rather than offering millions to an untested celebrity author. She laughed out loud.

“What are you, a nun?” she asked.

“Khloe’s rock! Shine! twitpic.com/8whif,” wrote Kim at lunch. “Humphries bad. @BruceJenner.”

Professor Roy Danbury of the University of Connecticut says that Kardashian offers the world a mix of compelling post-structuralist solipsism paired with the promise of playful tit and ass pictures that have captured the zeitgeist of the times: “We stare because we cannot help it,” he says. “Her teasing Tweets are like neurotoxins, paralyzing us into torpid, numb stupidity as she looks over her shoulder upon her own ass with the gimlet-eyed stare of  Callipygian Venus, marble faced with amazement, indifferent to the pain she causes. Why waste time with a guy like Shakespeare talking around the issue?”

Danbury added that he’s written six historical novels about post-Commune France, but as of right now cannot find a publisher. He often contemplates suicide.

“Tickle @Kanye,” Kim tweeted.

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I was working one afternoon in a coffee shop on the Upper East Side writing, when I found myself in a familiar Manhattan situation: I was forced to listen to an intimate conversation between the women next to me and learn things about them I shouldn’t know. It seems one of them was having trouble dating. Finding the right guy was hard for her, and yet she defined love not in expansive terms but overwhelmingly in the restrictive terms of things she did not want. She didn’t like momma’s boys, for one thing. The latest deal breaker was that a guy she was seeing had used the word “sketchy.”

Really? Is “sketchy” a dealbreaker? If you aren’t familiar with it, the word is in what we in Oklahoma call the goddamn dictionary and is defined as “iffy” or “questionable,” as in a questionable person. It’s first known use, according to Webster’s, was 1805.

I took umbrage, maybe because it’s a word I like. Its slang variants have given us fun phrases like, “He’s a bit of a sketch,” which are useful to me as a writer. But then I started to wonder (as he started to sound like Sarah Jessica Parker) have we become too judgmental? Then I realized (continuing to sound like Sarah Jessica Parker) people make quick and poor judgments because they want to judge first. For he who does it first, does it best, parrying all attacks and rejection. Yet as well all know, that’s mainly the obsession of people who have all their lives been judged. So I took another look at this woman, her crossed arms. Her mostly camouflaging outfit, her stern face and realized (this blog is turning into “Sex and the City” and lacks only the puns) oh, my God, this woman has been rejected more than a subprime home buyer. No, scratch that. In America even subprime homebuyers get homes. This woman must have been sub-sub-prime. Her FICO score could have been 376. Who else would reject a guy for using a harmless word like “sketchy”?

I, too, was rejected a bit in my youth, and wondered if I judge people, too.

The words of my friend Carol rang in my ears, “Eric, you’re too judgmental.”

She’s right! The other woman in the conversation had been sitting by herself a few moments before. She was a lot more cheerful than her friend, much perkier. And she was very excited to hear “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi come. She started shaking her head to the music at the table and having herself a time, and I remember very clearly what I said to myself in my head: “I reject you.”

All of us cover up vulnerability in different ways. Some people are lucky enough not to have emotional vulnerability, and they go on to head up companies like Halliburton and Bank of America and Goldman Sachs and largely avoid jail time. But the rest of us create armor for our lack of confidence. We tell jokes. We hide behind a guitar. We only leave the house on days when the perspiration isn’t so bad. We create huge altars to the Virgin Mary or to Cure founder Robert Smith. We construct public personae that are increasingly elaborate and perhaps even estranged from who we are inside.

I once read a description of introverts and extroverts I quite liked. This was the way I’ll interpret it: An extrovert will get into a car engine and just start playing around to see what’s wrong with it. An introvert must make a map of the engine in his head before he touches anything. The extrovert will fumble around and might lummox up everything–but if not, he might get it done a lot more quickly. The introvert, meanwhile, might needs to constantly make notes and reassess the situation, and figure out what might be wrong in the extrovert’s thinking. That slows things down quite a bit. And it means making judgments. Sometimes these kinds of judgments can make you come off like a real asshole. But sometimes it can make you cautious enough to say, I need more information before I make a decision about a complicated matter.

I don’t know whether to put this woman in the cautious category or the asshole category. It could be that she doesn’t know who she is, and trying on boyfriends and discarding them is a way of getting to know herself. Is is possible to judge people and accept them at the same time? Can I accept the parts of Noam Chomsky’s political outlook I like and then vehemently judge the rest? Do I have to reject the philosophy of Ayn Rand or can we just be friends? Maybe the ultimate goal isn’t to be judgmental but simply selective. That way we can grow without becoming ingrown. Accept other people’s rejection of us as an opportunity to grow up. Maybe the sketch is us.

How’s that for a pun, Sarah Jessica Parker? I reject you.

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I think we all forget how caginess is one of the most important resources of a leader, even or especially the ones who seem to be invincible. Hosni Mubarak, we are now told, has been orchestrating his own demise for the past few days, and yet Thursday night, he gathered all of Egypt close to their televisions to tell them at the last minute, “FU.” He was staying and that everybody should go home.

That was either the most desperate act on television since the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour or an inspired bluff. Can you imagine what might have happened if everybody believed him? I recall the immortal words of Cool Hand Luke, who got his name because nothing is, in fact, a real cool hand, and sometimes you win just by pretending you have everything when in fact you have nothing. Could a last-minute head fake have similarly saved Mubarak and his oppressive, 30-year regime? Hardly, yet he certainly thought it was worth trying. Had everybody believed him, he might still have been president this afternoon.

I’m not trying to be flip or cute about somebody so loathsome, but people tend to think of autocracies as monolithic things, and it’s that veneer of invulnerability that helps give them their power. This sort of monolithic view not only aids the oppressors. It also conveniently removes the possibility of human free will, and that’s where this becomes something of interest for non-Arab Westerners glib about their freedom and liberal tradition. My personal feeling is that dictators are secretly pleasing to people like Noam Chomsky, whose narratives about power require the impregnable man behind the curtain to work, who assumes every action of a nation or state happens in secret for an advantaged few working in cahoots, even, I would suppose, a welfare system like the U.S. had in the New Deal era. Chomsky believes we all live in dictatorships everywhere and that we will continue to until the day the government is destroyed and we’re all living in anarcho-syndicalist trade unions.

The fact is that systems of power bubble up from much more complicated underlying factors and internecine rivalries, some of them from movements that were organic or based in an idea that was originally populist. These inevitably turn on themselves because nature abhors a vacuum and the system self-organizes into a new power structure (something Chomsky and his fawning, uncritical acolytes can’t or won’t acknowledge because evidently anarchism is as cool to them now as it was high school).

Truth is, dictatorships are much more mundane and complex than the man behind the curtain–they involve the difficult mechanics of a party process, political patronage and the cover of a happy business communities willing to trade freedom or class estrangement for stability. They may have started with some sort of non-violent political legitimacy (we all seriously err when we forget that Hitler was democratically elected). Dictators are famous for their brutality, but not quite as famous for the gifts they hand out or the bread and circuses they lavish on the common people to strengthen their personality cults. You will find dictatorships throughout history that are much more benign in character than Hitler’s–even ones liberals don’t mind defending occasionally.

Many people have been wondering whether it was the actual price of bread that brought Mubarak down (since the Russian tightening of wheat exports has threatened to make penny loaves more expensive, and Mubarak’s efforts to subsidize cheap bread after the food riots in 2008–literal bread, if not circuses–had only bought him time.

Was it bread or Facebook or the revolutions next door? It’s probably not that clear cut. In Nicaragua, the dictatorship of 45 years fell in 1979 because the dictator spent the previous decade squeezing private enterprise out of their cut of GDP, until finally the middle class were so fed up they decided they’d rather cast their lot with a scruffy lot of communists then deal with a thief in a business suit. It’s a chain reaction, not an outburst of anger, usually, and that seems to be the case in Egypt as well.

I’d like to think that everybody all at once just stood up in a moment of clarity and decided they were oppressed and that they wouldn’t be anymore. What Egyptians have bought, however, on Friday was a new government with the military in charge of it and an awful religious/political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, waiting in the wings to re-assert itself after years of oppression. In other words, a mess. In their natural desire for self-determination, Egyptians have won the admiration of the world and a reason to joyously celebrate in the streets, because they did it with courage and  without quite as much violence as there could have been. Peaceful protesters miraculously stared down and parried thugs hoping to come beat them and stand as an example of (mostly) non-violent democratic change. But now that the Egyptians have earned it, they’ve got to earn it again just by keeping it. My optimism tells me they can.

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