The Guardian reports on the controversy caused by revelations in leaked US cables that the UK government was concerned about "harsh and immediate action" from Libya if it failed to release one of the men convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombings, Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, on compassionate grounds.
But as Gareth Peirce, human rights lawyer and author of Dispatches from the Dark Side, points out in an interview with the Irish Independent, the real controversy should be about Al-Megrahi's conviction
Luc Sante's excellent new piece for the New York Review of Books places Eric Hazan's The Invention of Paris among Debord and Benjamin in the literature of psychogeography. Calling The Invention of Paris "one of the greatest books about the city anyone has written in decades, towering over a crowded field, passionate and lyrical and sweeping and immediate," Sante compares Hazan's conception of Paris to Debord's iconic The Naked City,
which isolate clusters of blocks and show their subjective connections to their neighbors, or lack thereof, with big red arrows. Hazan notes, for example:
'The Arsenal triangle between the Boulevards Henri-IV and Bourdon-the starting point of Flaubert's Bouvard and Pécuchet, on a bench with the thermometer at 33 degrees C-with its acute angle at the Bastille, and dividing the Saint-Paul quarter from the approaches to the Gare de Lyon.'
The triangle in fact figures in The Naked City, with arrows leading to and from the train station, to St.-Paul, and from the Île St.-Louis, while resolutely ignoring the Bastille. On site you don't need to know its history or its literary pedigree to sense those occult connections and that it is, as Debord put it, a "turntable."
In a new review for the Progressive Populist, Seth Sandronsky praises How Race Survived US History as "a provocative book ... Roediger's take on Barack Obama is crucial":
How, David R. Roediger asks, has race persisted in the US despite "changes that we generally regard as constant, dramatic, and, in the main, progressive?" In How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon, he helps us to see the factors and forces driving the growth of racial rankings.
What began as campaigns of white settler violence against blacks and Indians lay the groundwork for the development of the American nation that "has never been without race," unlike the rest of the world for most of its history, Roediger writes. He re-interprets how a belief in and practice of white race supremacy has persisted, parried challenges and made concessions in ways that strengthened labor and legal systems that spur land expansion and capital accumulation.
Visit the Progressive Populist to read the review in full.
This week has seen student demonstrations and occupations across Italy as well as more in the UK. Amongst the students protesting Berlusconi's proposed education reforms, some of the most colourful took the form of the 'Book Bloc,' a group using painted shields representing works of literature against police in Rome.
Q, the first novel (written under the nom de plume Luther Blissett) by Wu Ming, the authors of Manituana, was, much to their satisfaction, on the frontline:
This afternoon, in Rome, students confronted the cops while carrying shields with book titles on them. The meaning was: it is culture itself that's resisting the cuts; books themselves are fighting the police. It was in this incendiary midst that our novel Q showed up, and in good company to boot: Moby Dick, Don Quixote, Plato's The Republic, A Thousand Plateaux ... It goes without saying that, whatever will happen, we're proud of what our novel is doing in the streets. Omnia sunt communia!
Will 2011 hold ecological disasters comparable to this year's floods in Pakistan, Iceland's volcano, the tsunami in Indonesia, or China's earthquakes? Hard to tell, says Slavoj Žižek, author of Living in the End Times, in a provocative new op-ed for the New York Times:
One thing is clear: We should accustom ourselves to a much more nomadic way of life. Gradual or sudden change in our environment, about which science can do little more than offer a warning, may force unheard-of social and cultural transformations. Suppose a new volcanic eruption makes a place uninhabitable: Where will the inhabitants find a home? In the past, large population movements were spontaneous processes, full of suffering and loss of civilizations. Today, when weapons of mass destruction are available not only to states but even to local groups, humanity simply can't afford a spontaneous population exchange.
What this means is that new forms of global cooperation, which do not depend on the market or on diplomatic negotiations, must be invented. Is this an impossible dream?
Visit the New York Times to read the article in full.