Saturday, November 3, 2007

The sun sets on Emilogue

Please slip into something less comfortable and step this way.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jacques Barzun in Time

This 1956 cover story was mentioned in Arthur Krystal's recent New Yorker profile of Barzun. Krystal's piece is way better.

Richard K. Betts in Foreign Affairs

How compelling it would be to imagine this is what Donald Rumsfeld once meant by a "smart, lean" and efficient U.S. military. The facts, however, show he didn't mean this at all.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

H.L. Mencken on Lincoln's atheism

I thought this was a particularly extraordinary take on Abraham Lincoln - even for H.L. Mencken, who built a legacy on such 'contrarian positions.' I'll be absolutely clear about this: I am a big admirer of both Mssrs Lincoln and Mencken, so to see the two mix with such a satisfying result is a real treat.

Louis Goddard on Amis's 'Dead Babies'

I've been meaning to link to this great review Louis Goddard wrote for Flak a few weeks ago. Finally, the strength of my wi-fi connection and openness of schedule collude to make it happen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop

For over a year I've been craving music made by electronic means which doesn't fit into the "electronica" (Varese->Kraftwerk->Bambaataa->Phuture->etc) lineage. Something not reliant on pseudo-futurism. Something which sounds like it was made with hands but put out of reach of our imagination's tendency to picture musicians when listening to music. This is partly why the Books have gotten a lot of play in my apartment this year. But I recently saw this documentary on the BBC Radiophonic Workshop which did the trick. My favorite thing about this film is that it tells a story of electronic music (musique concrete, to be specific) which climaxes in the late '60's and falls with the rise in popularity of the Moog synthesizer. Imagine that: the Moog 'killing' electronic music (or a certain tradition of)! Now we're surveying the landscape! Ladies and gentleman ... let us proceed from here!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Peter Sis recommends Saul Steinberg

This interview with Peter Sis, the extraordinary illustrator, makes glowing mention of the late Saul Steinberg. The New Yorker, where Steinberg gained his reputation from the 1940's on, hosts a large online gallery of his covers.

Emilogue gets an agenda

I've been on hiatus with this blog as the pace of my activity picked up around the beginning of the summer. After a few weeks of deepening confusion of priorities, including two false starts at new articles, it re-occured to me what this blog was set up to do in the first place and what its user (I/me) has recently been lacking. Emilogue helps me sort out pieces of information or ideas which attract my attention before I seriously consider them as subjects to take on for potential articles. I want to extend this use to take on subjects in micro form that I'm sure I won't have the actual time or inclination to follow through with outside a hundred word or so blurb. So there it is - Emilogue has an agenda.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chris Marker's Second Century

Today Flak Magazine publishes a piece I put together on Chris Marker. The article was edited by Mr. Sean Weitner, the longtime Flak film and games editor. Here's Mr. Weitner's awesome look at Spielberg film endings. You can find the Marker piece here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Clumsy Globalist

Today Flak Magazine publishes my piece on Ryszard Kapuscinski. Once again, the editor was Louis Goddard who does a great job here; as he did on the Reagan piece last month. Here's a piece Louis recently wrote for the Morning News.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Record-Head no. 7

The record in my head is . . .

'Blame it on Disco', a track from Cristina's album Doll in the Box released by the immortal ZE Records in 01979.

In the Washington Post

Bob Woodward writes this overview of the Bush administration's conflicting statements to the Iraq Study Group last autumn.

"The government is unable to govern." Interesting insight.

China Development Brief in danger

Beijing authorities have ordered the essential NGO to shutdown. Read the editor's letter for a run-down.

Ryszard Kapuscinski on Charlie Rose

The recently passed Polish journalist's two appearances on the PBS talk show in 02000 and 02001.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

China's Green numbers scandal at the World Bank

The story was broken by the Financial Times.

Before the China-bashing begins, however, be reminded of the US's own manipulation of information in official Green reports.

Even without the figures published in FT, the report is rather damning.

Shi Guorui's photography

An image of Shanghai, captured through a hotel room the Beijing artist converted into a camera obscura (02004).

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Record-Head no. 6

The record in my head is . . .

"Move On" a track from David Bowie's 01979 LP, Lodger.

Featuring a backwards tape-loop from Bowie's own recording of "All the Young Dudes" and a Cyprus place-name-check.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Margaret Sullavan in Bright Lights

I was delighted to find this brilliant piece in Bright Lights Film Journal on one of my favorite actors, Margaret Sullavan. Sullavan's most famous role is as the romantic opposite to James Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner (01940, remade in 01998 as You've Got Mail). Other notable Sullavan performances - Little Man, What Now? (01934) and The Good Fairy (01935). Though I've never seen a Sullavan film that didn't quickly take a prominent place in my imagination.

The writer of the perceptive piece is Dan Callahan.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Death on television in Germany

EosTV, a new 24-hour channel in Germany will devote its airtime to death and mourning. From der Spiegel.

Death with woodcut in England

The first flat disc audio record

From a website collecting information about SelectaVision VideoDiscs, a dead media format introduced by RCA in the early '80's to compete with Laserdiscs.

The scribbled note reads, 'This phonogram was made Nov 8th 01881 -S.T. (Sumner Tainter).'

Sunday, June 24, 2007

From Gaza, with Love

Dr. Mona El-Farra, a Palestinian physician and Human Rights activist, maintains this blog. Though El-Farra has been in the States fulfilling public speaking obligations, she just posted her first entry since last week's bloody takeover by Hamas.

Sir Salman

The most recent chapter in The Rushdie Affair continues. Why there aren't more public intellectuals in the West at work dismantling the Islamist argument on this, I'm not sure. Maybe it's not an appealing call to answer - sticking up for Britain's own irrationally exclusive institution.

Record-Head no. 5

The record in my head is . . .

'Messages' from the first Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark lp, released in 01980.

Sure they're naff. I mean, a synthpop star with Albert Brooks's hair! But what can you do?

Antony in the Independent

on the occasion of Antony and the Johnson's show in Cork. Birthplace, incidentally, of my friend Marian.

Film, film, film

This Soviet cartoon from 01968 made my day - perhaps my week. It's directed by Fyodor Khitruk.

Dick Cheney in the Washington Post

A four-part series investigates 'the most influential man ever to hold the office' of Vice President in the U.S. An introduction and part one are published today.

With President Ford, as Deputy Chief of Staff, November 17th, 01975.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ronald Reagan's Ghost Train

Today Flak Magazine, a truly exceptional web site I've been reading for years, publishes my review of The Reagan Diaries.

I owe a huge debt of gratitiude to Louis Goddard, the primary editor for this piece. It's a shame he didn't get a more prominent credit on the site, an omission I'm trying to restore here.

Louis is a wonderful writer from Suffolk, UK (birthplace of Brian Eno!). Here's an especially interesting piece he did on circuit bending and music.

You can read my review here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The longest scroll in China

From Paul Burns's essential Precinema site.

This is a thumbnail of the scroll.

And here's a closeup of the entire scroll

The city through which the rivers run is Bian Liang, one of the seven ancient capitals of China. Today, we call this city and provence, Keifeng.

Bian Liang, a thousand years later.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Record-Head no. 4

The record in my head is . . .

an imaginary mash-up of the song 'Mother', by John Lennon sung as a duet with Christina Aguilera.

John Lennon's original is the lead-off track from 01970's Plastic Ono Band.
'X-tina's' version is taken from the new charity compilation for Darfur, Instant Karma.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Beijing, 02007, no. 5

From the Economist, a piece on the government's plans to wipe out Chinese slums in time for next year's Olympic games.

Record-Head no. 3

The record in my head is . . .

'The Eight Seasons of Chromolox', an Industrial Musical recorded for the purpose of selling air conditioners.


A trip to Urville

An imaginary city constructed by Gilles Tehin.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Face of Lincoln

This is about the coolest thing I've run into in a while. Beware clockwatchers: it's a video.


The Six-Day War is not over . . .

I'd like to use the last post in this series to draw special attention to Jonathan Freedland's piece last month in the Guardian. Thanks for bearing with me on this.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Record-Head no. 2

The record in my head is . . .

'Swinglargo', a track from the 02004 album Abridged Too Far by People Like Us.

People Like Us is the name of a multi-media project Vicki Bennett started in 01990. The focus of this work is sound collage and her records can be placed somewhere between Negativland and Prince Paul in how they display Ms. Bennett's ability to combine unlikely sources to a sharp, witty effect.


Land for peace: 'secure and recognized boundaries' . . .

Most debate regarding 242 surrounds a phrase found in the first operative clause of the resolution requiring a 'withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict'

The absence of the definite article 'the' placed before the word 'territories' creates the clearest split in interpretation of 242's purpose. The Palestinian side produced a slew of legal, semantic, and logical arguments explaining how the missing word does not alter Israel's obligation under 242 to withdraw to the pre-Six-Day War borders. But when asked to illuminate their intentions regarding the controversial omission, every drafter and relevant diplomat has supported two points: 1) that the ambiguity of the phrasing was entirely deliberate and 2) that the pre-Six-Day War borders were considered neither sufficient nor permanent.

In effect, the clause implicitly urges the conflicting parties to negotiate their own borders, thus, their own peace. Which leads directly to the next part of 242's first operative clause:

'(ii)Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force'

With the evolving complexity of terrorist networks and the prospect of a nuclear Iran, the phrase 'secure and recognized boundaries' is perhaps in need of a radical reassessment. The notion, like the one voiced by Ronald Reagan below that Israel requires a certain amount of territory simply to protect itself from outside aggressors is being turned on its head:

'In the pre-1967 borders Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel's population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.'

In 2007 such a view appears maudlin and completely at odds with the nature of today's threats. 'Secure and recognized' has never seemed so redundant a phrase as it does now.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Three Faces of the Mirror

An extraordinary silent (this version adds English narration) directed by Jean Epstein in 01927. This film is an early example of the kind of time-bending narrative structure that became popular in the 01950's and '60's with such filmmakers as Akira Kurasowa and Alain Resnais. Jean Epstein's film theory particularly sweated over the notion of the machine as a component to filmmaking. Much of his writing is collected and translated in Richard Abel's two-volume anthology of early French Film Theory.


Land for peace: 'the acquisition of territory by war' . . .

It wasn't inevitable that Resolution 242 would remain a central reference point in Arab-Israeli negotiations for nearly forty years. More than anything else, the 'land for peace' formula is what earns 242 this place. But what relevance remains in the document is also due in part to the recognition by its drafters' that they couldn't appear to award land outright to any party. So while the Arab states and Palestinians demanded Israel to draw its borders back to their pre-June '67 lines, 242 sought to acknowledge this debt without actually crediting it.

'Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security . . .' -UNSC 242

'The inadmissibility of the acquisition by war'. By placing this phrase in the preamble of 242 the Security Council muddied their own insistance against imposing a weak peace on the situation. But when considering these intentions, the drafters' seem to have given the idea of the 'aquisition of territory by war' too much prominence. Adopting 242 under Chapter VII would have made the resolution enforcable by a variety of sanctions - and the clause quoted above much hotter than it in fact was. The Security Council chose not to do that. 242 was adopted under Chapter VI, which only allows UN mediation and investigation.

This important detail is often overlooked or ignored by those who attempt to make the case that 242 stipulates Israel's return to the 01967 borders. More objective voices have criticized 242's seeming cross purposes. Yet, if the UN, the Security Council, and the British mission are to blame for anything, it's for an apparent nievete in being unable to observe and foresee the cluster of forces at work in the Middle East that have the least to gain by reconciliation.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Rudy Giuliani



Towards 242 at the UN . . .

By autumn 01967, it was clear that the situation in the Middle East had only grown more precarious since the previous summer's war. Though there was talk for months about the need for a UN Resolution on the matter, it wasn't until the first week of November that the opportunity opened up when Egypt pressed the Security Council for immediate meetings.

Several days into those sessions, a resolution draft composed by India and co-submitted with Mali and Nigeria hung over the negotiations. It was considered by nearly everyone in the Council that the Indian draft's explicit demand for Israel to withdraw to the pre-Six Day War borders would prove unacceptable to the Jewish state and would destabilize further negotiations. The United States was the the first to propose an alternative resolution softening the demand. This draft also died quickly, an event mostly due to Cold War alliances working against a compromise initiated by the Super Power.

The United States draft, which never reached the floor for an official vote but proved influential on the approved draft, reads thusly:

'The Security Council;

Emphasizing the urgency of reducing tensions and bringing about a just and lasting peace in which every state in the area can live in security,
Emphasizing further that all member states in their acceptance of the Charter of the UN have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

1. Affirms that the fulfillment of the above Charter principles requires the achievement of a state of just and lasting peace in the Middle East embracing withdrawal of armed forces from occupied territories, termination of claims or states of belligerence, and mutual recognition and respect for the right of every state in the area to sovereign existence, territorial integrity, political independence, secure and recognized boundaries, and freedom from the threat or use of force:

2. Affirms further the necessity
A. For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
B. For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
C. For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every state in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;
D. For achieving a limitation of the wasteful and destructive arms race in the area;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to designate a special representative to proceed to the ME to establish and maintain contacts with the states concerned with a view to assisting them in the working out of solutions in accordance with the purposes of this resolution and in creating a just and lasting peace in the area;
4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the SC on the progress of the efforts of the special representative as soon as possible.'

Lord Caradon and the British mission at the UN drafted a proposal that combined the essential elements of the various drafts that had already been put on the table or were rumored to be on their way. The main elements of the British draft were the 'land for peace' arrangement expressed in the Indian draft and a linguistic structure that would seek to frame further negotiations by the Jewish and Arab states instead of imposing such sanction-bound requirements as re-defined boundaries and withdrawal timelines:

'The Security Council;
Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii)Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

2. Affirms further the necessity
(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
(c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;

3. Requests the Secretary General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;

4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.'

This is the only draft of the four submitted (the Soviet Union's being the last) that had an official vote, by which it passed unanimously on November 22, 01967.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Six-Day War and background . . .

The release of tension must have been extraordinary when in early June 01967, Radio Cairo broadcast dispatches from the new war that had seemed inevitable for months. Egypt and its allies, Jordan and Syria, were defeating Israel even after the opening pre-emptive air strikes took out the formidable Egyptian Air Force. Anwar Sadat, who was then the President of the National Assembly in Egypt took a late night walk through the capital's celebrations fully aware of the come down that would soon hit his nation. The Radio reports were false - at worst propagandistic, at best merely presumptuous. By week's end, the victors of the Six Day War, as an emboldened Israeli leadership would quickly brand the campaign, would be too plain to deny. The war's outcome, however, would take decades to fully materialize.

Why was Israel's victory immediately recognized as so monumental? There was, of course, the significant boundary changes; twenty-six thousand square miles of territory gained by the Israelis. This included the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt), the Golan Heights (from Syria), and most convincingly for those who sought to argue for the divinity inherent in the War's outcome, East Jerusalem (from Jordan). This, the 'center of the world', came with the acquisition of the West Bank.

But it's after the Six-Day War that Israel, for the first time since the Jewish state's creation in 01948 and only twenty-two years after the defeat of the Nazis, was recognized as the primary regional military power. Israel's might and the question of its necessity (and legitimacy, in the most radical anti-Israeli quarters) was the Geo-political development that would frame much of the Middle-East debate for the next several decades.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Record-Head no. 1

The record in my head is . . .

'Shy', a track off the new Matthew Dear album, Asa Breed.

Matthew Dear is an artist on Ann Arbor's Ghostly International label. His earlier work displayed a more obvious Minimal techno influence though this listener has always detected a fair amount of Bowie/Eno in his lineage too. The new album sounds a bit like a conscious raiding of post-punk influences - from Joy Division chill to the Pop Group/Slits world music faction with a hint of New Pop throughout. It's actually a pretty bold album from an artist who works within the rigid electronic music network.