Friday, September 30, 2022

The Talented Miss Ripley

“My envy turned to hatred and my hatred to contempt.” “I am married to my mother I shall never wed another.” “I never write a mystery, I write a story.” Eva Vitija’s Loving Highsmith, which recently completed a run at Film Forum, is full of lines culled from filmed interviews and diary entries from the author of novels like Strangers on a Train (famously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock in l951). Perhaps the most succinct and unforgettable is what she says about the iconic character who appears in five novels starting with The Talented Mr. Ripley written in 1955. “He kills only when he thinks it’s right.” It’s the kind of locution that’s a head turner, one of those esthetic statements that’s powerfully value free. Loving Highsmith deals with both the life and art of Patricia Highsmith, but does one necessarily inform the other? Highsmith’s voracious sexual appetites and the fixation on a mother who never reciprocated her love are one part of the story (along with Drag Kings and hermaphroditic snails).Then there’s the art. Highsmith is candid about her desires and comes off in the clips of her varying interviews as a mix of a dour Fran Liebowitz and yes Susan Sontag in terms of both her unrepentant franglais and almost predatory sexuality. However, can we say that the characters she created and what she had to say about them are more interesting than any of the details of her life and loves. Is Ripley for example, Highsmith’s alter ego or in his psychopathology something more? On the basis of the two personae the film portrays, the artistic creation might prevail.

read "Le Cercle Rouge" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Caveat Emptor Camp Lejeune

Are you suffering from PTSD hearing commercials from liability lawyers trying to profit from the suffering of soldiers stationed at Camp LeJeune between 1952-87? Have the preponderance of these mind-numbing jeremiads made you want to turn off CNN, even amidst the juicy reporting about the latest suit filed against Donald Trump? No sooner do you hear about the top secret files pilfered by the former President and his goons then you listen to yet one more law firm plugging their services. It’s probably fair to say ads aimed at victims of Camp Lejeune sandwich in most television programs. Those who sell ad space to law firms are now simply asking “do you want a Camp Lejeune sandwich?” by which is meant a double whammy that comes before and after the reporting of the latest Trump debacle. Camp Lejeune btw has completely knocked Mesothelioma, St Jude’s Children’s Hospital and Ice T’s Car Shield commercials off the air. Few other complaints can compete unless you want to include Trump lover Lee Zeldin’s futile attempt to run for governor against Kathy Hochul. But here’s the deal. How will those who were poisoned at Camp Lejeune get their day in court when all their lawyers are interested in doing is advertising for new clients?

read "The Final Solution: Caveat Emptor" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Rescue Me"by Fontella Bass

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Collective Forgetting, Individual Myopia and Selective Guilt

What creates collective forgetting, individual myopia and the kind of “selective guilt” that facilitates the creation of “the other?” Tyrants like Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot all undoubtedly had their soft spots. Wagnerian romanticism was the anthem of The Third Reich. The psychic process of compartmentalization is a common defense mechanism that allows many people to continue on with their lives in the shadow of otherwise traumatic events. Is it possible however to excise large chunks of happenstance on a mass scale? The first female Italian premier, Georgi Meloni, is also a neofascist whose Fratelli d’Italia has direct historical ties to Mussolini. Remember that famous photograph of Il Duce strung upside down on a Milan street? Antigone defied Creon to bury Polynices; in a perverse rendition of the myth, Mussolini's remains were stolen by a follower from an unmarked grave. During the Bosnian conflict historical grudges going back hundreds of years ignited the murderous rage between Bosnia Muslims and Serbs who had been previously living peacefully side by side in embattled cities like Sarajevo and Srebrenica. The mind itself is naturally selective a la Neural Darwinism, the title of a tome by the biologist Gerry Edelman. The Stockholm Syndrome is, in this regard, a survival mechanism. George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But isn’t that the tragedy of consciousness? The much vaunted trait, that purportedly separates humans from animals, employs every trick in the book to excuse what’s too hard to face.

read "Died Young" by Francis Levy, The Brooklyn Rail

and listen to "Police State"by Pussy Riot

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Hi There! Looking For a Date?

Hi there! Do you hate yourself? Are you the kind of person who constantly feels that everyone has outdone you and left you in the dust? Here’s a tip. You can easily stop pointing the gun at yourself simply by turning it in another direction. How about going after the person closest to you under the theory that anyone who would like a failure like you must have something wrong with them. “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” sings Steven Stills. Actually, the lyric can be rephrased. “If you can’t hate yourself, hate the one you’re with.” Or put in a positive light, you have to want what you have. It’s no fun to hit bottom and look around you at a world of shinning lights only to find yourself left in the shadows. All your life it’s been this way and as life winds down , the nightmare is to find it happening all over again. Once you had all of life ahead of you, but now you’ve reached that dead end called "the end" with no time left to dream about rising from the ashes and showing all those who always doubted you (who by this time are probably dead anyway). Take the low road! Enjoy that moment when all the contempt falls away and you can breathe a sigh of relief as you blame someone else for your sorry state of affairs.

read "The First Law of Emotional Thermodynamics: Longing is Directly Proportional to Self-Hatred" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Love the One You're With" by Stephen Stills

Monday, September 26, 2022


Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Can you kill two stones with one bird? At the heart of everything is a fart of harkness? Yevtushenko or not to Shenko? Is there a difference between silliness and absurdity. Beckett, Ionesco and Genet were termed the "theater of the absurd." Certainly, Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus which posits suicide as the only important philosophical question describes a universe that defies meaning. Consider  Sisyphus attempting to roll the stone up the hill. Existentialist philosophers like Sartre now seem more apropos than ever since they pose the notion of comic indifference or the cosmic yawn. If nothing means anything, the whole end of life lies in meaning making. Alberto Moravia wrote The Empty Canvas. The first stroke any artist makes is an attempt to establish a beachhead and claim a piece of barren land. God is literally a father figure, but when you deny his, it or their existence, meaning and necessity recede. You're left with no more than a series of pronouns. Those who believe there's a meaning and purpose in everything are damned to burn in the hell of disillusionment.

read "God Bless Pig Latin America" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

Friday, September 23, 2022

Here and There at The New Yorker

Half of The New Yorker’s readership subliminally or not so subliminally dreams of being in the magazine and the other half suffers from the delusion that their names have already appeared in the august periodical’s table of contents. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty could well have been an allegory for the prototypic subscriber. If you remember the story was written by James Thurber who was a famed New Yorker contributor. Sure, the fantasies in Thurber's fable    tend to center around wartime heroics, but the singular imagination of adulation experienced by anyone who submits a story, poem or Shouts & Murmurs piece could easily compete with the Purple Heart. The meaning of the word “submission’ has literally been transformed, at least for a part of the educated populace, by the stature the magazine has as an arbiter of talent. "Submission" is tantamount to approaching the gates of this Inferno. Remember Dante’s famous lines “lasciate all speranza voi ch’entrate?” If there were an ultimate “picker” who called out “saved” or “damned” with each petitioner carrying their old-fashioned SASE, it would be represented by the faces of David Remnick, Tina Brown, Robert Gottlieb, William Shawn, Harold Ross--all legendary New Yorker editors.

read "Ultimate Rejection!" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "This Old Heart of Mine"by Rod Steward (with Ronald Isley)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Freedom, Now!

The 60s were owned by the Left. The military-industrial complex and the war in Vietnam were the targets along with segregation. You marveled at William Buckley’s verbal pyrogenics as he had it out with Gore Vidal on Firing Line, but you didn’t find either Young Americans for Freedom, the Daughters of the American Revolution or the John Birch Society marching in the streets. In fact, the very idea of protest was contrary to the conservative ethos, until the Tea Party came to town. Today, the tables have been turned. It’s the base, the deplorables, the lumpenproletariat or whatever you want to call the mass of white men and women who find themselves dispossessed by modernity, who populate rallies. Naturally the apex of this was January 6, but the rage at injustice expressed at Trump events finds no reciprocal component on the Left. "The deep state" is to today’s Retrumplicans what the military-industrial complex was to SDS, speaking of which the notion of "participatory democracy" argued by student radicals does bear some resemblance to the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys since it was not participatory at all. If you’d ever occupied a college campus in the 60s, you quickly realized it was a relatively small cadre who were running the show. The vociferousness of Trump’s supporters may to some extent explain the pervasiveness of The Big Lie (at least among MAGA Republicans). Where’s the Left? You need a crowd to impress the opposition with the fact that the biggest lie is The Big Lie.

read "Final Solution: Apres Coup" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Subterranean Homesick Blues" by Bob Dylan

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Babel or Babble?

The Tower of Babel by Peter Bruegel the Elder

The Tower of Babel is naturally a metaphor for contention. The world is at war since human beings speak different languages. It’s something deconstuctionists underscore with the notion of  "cultural subjectivity," ie the idea that nobody can speak for anybody else or make the kind of synthetic a priori statements, which are the gist of Kant's “categorical imperative.” Esperanto was an attempt to create a universal language—that essentially failed. Who knows exactly why? But one might assume that there was little of the backstory which accounts for indigenous grammatical structures. Ironically Trump’s "Big Lie" develops right out of this kind of thinking that sows doubt about the possibility of communication. How can vote tallies be verified, when competing constituencies fail to share the similar outlook and values? One of the great crises of modern culture both on the left and right is that of language. How is it possible to create bridges between a plethora of wagging tongues?

read "Why Big German Words Like Vergangenbangenheit Carry Weight?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "What a Wonderful World"by Sam Cooke

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Apocalypse Now and Then

You don’t speak about Apocalypse Now in the same breath as La Dolce Vita. One takes place in the jungles of Vietnam, the other the Via Veneto. The famous scene of Anita Ekberg frolicking in the Trevi fountain is a far cry from Southeast Asia. What the two movies have in common are helicopters. One famously comporting the statue of Jesus over Rome's Aqueduct Park, the other an enormous predatory bird,  a vulture circling the Heart of Darkness (the "Ride of the Valkyries" scene). In fact both movies herald the decline of civilization, holding out the subliminal hope, facetious or not, of a Second Coming and redemption. Colonialism, materialism excess and exploitation make for a toxic cocktail. You might equate the good life with apocalypse or the reverse. Both lead to oblivion.

read "Rome Journal: Aqueduct Park" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to the "Ride of the Valkyries" from Apocalypse Now

Monday, September 19, 2022

Jean-Luc Godard's Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Here’s an exam question for your grad film students? Compare The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Godard’s Breathless, Contempt and Goodbye to Language. To begin with both Godard who who died at age 91 ("Jean-Luc Godard, 91, Is Dead: Bold Director Shaped French New Wave") by way of assisted suicide and Rousseau  came from wealthy French-Swiss families with Protestant origins. Rousseau, of course, was one of the great figures of the Enlightenment whose notion of the “social contract” influenced Locke and Hobbes, particularly with respect to democracy. Godard  who went through a Maoist period in which he gave up the bourgeois notion of the filmmaker in favor of a collective entity modeled on the Russia's post-revolutionary Dziga-Vertov group out of which the cinema verite Man With a Movie Camera emerged, might be looked at as an anti-humanist. The Belmondo character in Breathless is a small time crook and Jean Seberg, his mole. Michel Piccoli, the playwright trying to produce a version of the Odysseus myth for Fritz Lang in Contempt, is a self-centered failure obsessed with a wife (Bridget Bardot) who no longer loves him. In reality Godard was not so much an anti as disaffected humanist. He was like a person whose romantic hopes are disappointed. Weekend is a murderous idyll, with an almost wistful nostalgia for nature in its depiction of sclerotic highways (aka arteries) clogged with crashed cars?  Godard's Le Gai Savoir ("The Joy of Learning") is, in fact, based on Rousseau's Emile, On Education. Grace is one of the tenets of Protestant theology. There are the saved and the damned. Max Weber famously wrote the the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Is it fair to say that both Rousseau and Godard drew the ethos of their upbringing in the creation of characters whose “work” flirted with redemption?

read "Goodbye to Language" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Sympathy For the Devil" by The Rolling Stones

Friday, September 16, 2022

Journal of the Plague Years

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse  (Albrecht Durer, 1498)

Imagine a time when you can sit in a restaurant or attend a gathering without feeling that you're testing your mettle or in fact taking your life in your hands with a bravado display of  courage in the face of something which is impervious to human will. There was indeed a time when strapping thirty-year old athletes defied the demographics (which mostly showed the majority of Covid fatalities occurring in an older demographic). To be insouciant was like jumping out a window to see if you could fly. If you remember back in the early stages of the pandemic, refrigerated trucks with bodies lined the streets near hospitals and funeral homes couldn’t handle the traffic. When the Delta variant first appeared, before there were any Covid vaccines, in January of 2020, it was the Dark Ages. A crazed rogue president was issuing increasingly wild pronunciamentos amongst them quack cures which included at one point bleach and  hydroxychloroquine. Low paid cashiers in supermarkets and workers in meat processing plants (where there were massive outbreaks) risked their lives, like front line soldiers, to keep the population fed. The symptoms of the bubonic plague which sent Boccaccio’s nobility fleeing Florence and entertaining themselves with the Decameron were far more severe. Creuzfeldt-Jakob, the human form of mad cow (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), something from which wide swathes of the population have been spared, may give some idea of the severity of the Black Plague. Still, the whole earth has been traumatized. With each end of each new outbreak of a variant, one wonders is this finally it? Is this the day the scrim of fear will be lifted? Is the moment when life itself can return to being the greatest threat to life.

read "The Final Solution: Consciousness and Beyond" by Francis Levy, The Screaming Pope

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

Thursday, September 15, 2022

2022 or 1776?

Don Bolduc (photo: US Special Operations Command Africa)

Don Bolduc, a former brigadier general, is the latest Trump endorsed victor in a Republican primary. It’s a disappointment to the establishment Republican governor of New Hampshire, John Sununu, who favored Chris Morse. This latest win follows on the heels of the victories of Trump endorsed candidates like Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, JD Vance in Ohio, Kari Lake, the former news anchor, in Arizona and Tudor Dixon in Michigan. Democrats have applauded these wins and even gone so far as to finance Trump candidates, under the theory that the loss of mainstream Republicans will improve the Democratic scorecard. In the case of the New Hampshire race a PAC led by Chuck Schumer raised $3.2 million for Bolduc. This form of negative campaigning has not eluded controversy, but the real issue is the fact that so many Republicans are ready to support MAGA candidates. A vote for someone like Bolduc, who believes that the 2020 election was rigged, is ultimately one more nail in the coffin of democracy itself. In addition, it gives full license to the kind of political violence that occurred on January 6th, where those who stormed the capital looked on themselves as revolutionaries fighting for “the republic” and confreres of those who fought the redcoats in 1776. The question is how strong is the old mainstream represented by figures like Liz Cheney (who endured a major defeat in Wyoming), Adam Kitzinger and prominent spokes- people like George Conway, the sometime CNN commentator and husband of Trump’s former press secretary, Kellyanne Conway? Is the uprising against the Dobbs decision enough to produce the kind of backlash that resulted in the Kansas referendum or will Mar-A-Lago shift enough midstream Republicans back toward the extreme right? The polls notwithstanding, the big question is will mainstream Republicans be disaffected enough to vote for a Democratic slate?

read "The Final Solution: Democrazy" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "War" by Edwin Starr

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Double Espresso or Triple Crown?

The fact that something is important and even life-changing doesn’t mitigate against it being boring. At what point does the pageantry surrounding Queen Elizabeth’s demise begin to numb? What hurts more, inflation or the soporific reporting about it? Inflation is the proof that something can negatively impact you in multiple ways, in this case by being both expensive and boring. Biden is a good person who breathes equanimity, but with the exception of his recent rousing anti-MAGA speech in front of Independence Hall, he can take the place of Ambien if you’re having sleep problems. Steve Bannon quoted Milton’s “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven” in Errol Morris' American Dharma. And yes bring on Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ron Johnson, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebert and Paul Gosar and you don’t need to set your alarm clock. Ginni Thomas, Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito are like a double espresso. What about the dictators club made up of Putin, Kim Jong-un, Bolsonaro, Orban and Xi Jinping meeting at Mar-A-Lago to divvy up the classified documents? That'd be almost as good as the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Environmental Accords, the squelching of the Iran Nuclear agreements and threatened withdrawal from NATO. Queen Elizabeth reigned for 70 years. She never smiled at weddings or showed her cards. She didn’t really rule, but was a perfect figurehead, unmoving and in many ways totally unchanging like the Sphinx. Her proto-fascistic uncle, the Duke of Windsor, gave up the crown for the love of an American divorcee named Wallis Simpson. Let’s face it this last was the scoop of the century.

read "Trumpty Dumpty's Great Fall" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "(I'm a) Roadrunner" by Junior Walker & The AllStars

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Citizen Tate

Everyone knows Tate’s which are so ubiquitous they’ve become a synonym for “cookie”--in the way "dinner" has become “chicken” in many households. Tate’s cookies are a business phenomenon and there’s undoubtedly a backstory. But forget Southampton where their signature chocolate chip was created by Kathleen King (or a buy out by Oreo) and imagine a Tate’s Citizen Kane replete with their Rosebud which would be a childhood cookie experience on a snowy sled ride. Better yet imagine the founder of the unassuming cookie dynasty as William Randolph Hearst inhabiting a San Simeon built on vast pastry empire. Most people have a love hate relationship with the familiar green bag. You know you want a cookie but you're tired of Tate’s since you’ve had so many. On the other hand how could anyone compete with a chain that produces the Platonic ideal form of what a chocolate chip cookie should be--crunchy around the edges without ever seeming to grow stale?

read "Diasporic Dining: The Running Footman" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Sweets For My Sweet" by The Searchers

Monday, September 12, 2022

Isle of the Dead

"Isle of the Dead" by Arnold Bocklin

Whether your crossing the Styx or passing through the pearly gates you’ll undoubtedly feel like that first day of kindergarten when your eyes welled up and all’s you wanted to do was go home. There’s nothing more humiliating than involuntarily crying out “mommy” in public. It’s as humiliating as laying a smelly fart and trying desperately to make it look like it’s emanating from someone else. But whether you’re entering the afterlife or suffering from afflatus you’ll likely find yourself in good company. Spoiler Alert. Death is the same as life only everything is immaterial. You spend forever looking at the menu but never get around to ordering. The nice part is that everyone’s in the same boat. No you will never hear back about so and so or such and such. Death is the great leveler; there are no royal families. There are no winners or losers and you’re never far from another lost soul who's going through the same thing as you.

read "Mortal Coil Stuff" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "I Don't Want to Cry" by Chuck Jackson

Friday, September 9, 2022


Despite the volatility of the world, you assume everything will remain the same. You stay away from Walmart’s on Black Friday or Popeyes when they’re about to unleash some new fast-food product (there was at least one fatality from a shoot out when the fried chicken sandwich was introduced). During a scene of Wild Strawberries, the professor (Victor Sjostrom) has a dream in which he enters a deserted street. The shops are boarded up and the clocks have no hands. It’s  reminiscent of the famous Twilight Zone, “Time Enough At Last” where the harried librarian, played by Burgess Meredith, finally gets what he wants--a world devoid of people where he can read without being interrupted. If you live in the Northeast this is the case. Terror is reserved for sleep when the mind lets its guard down. How to reconcile that with the fact that record breaking monsoons have displaced 30 million Pakistanis, the forests in California (including the Redwoods) are threatened and a whole generation of Ukrainians have been uprooted and displaced by a war for which no end is in sight? Melting glaciers in the Arctic and elsewhere will result in a dramatic rise in the sea level everywhere. During the beginning of the pandemic, Midtown Manhattan became a ghost town. Business still hasn’t completely recovered. Another Bergman movie The Seventh Seal, depicts a knight (Max von Sydow) returning from the Crusades in the middle of the Plague. His only companion is Death (Bengt Ekerot) with whom he plays his famous chess game. Preconception creates a complacency. Even at the Event Horizon of the Black Hole, there's always the delusion of exemption, the same one that most humans maintain until the day they die.

read "Diasporic Dining: Fast Food Inc" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" by Gene McDaniels

Thursday, September 8, 2022


Have you ever had the experience of a friend, acquaintance or even relative who comes into a room and spouts off, without ever either asking for your opinion on what they are saying or for that matter how you are? These are the kinds of people “who take the air out of the room.” But what's interesting is that to create a vacuum you have to emit the diarrhetic effusion of words known as logorrhea. It's an extreme form of prolepsis in which the question is answered before it’s even asked. You shouldn’t feel offended since those who suffer from this paraphilia can’t even hear themselves think—which, one would suppose, is precisely the point. Noise blocks out ambient sound and by the end of the evening, those industrious enough to keep talking have essentially found a way of insulating  themselves from the world. On the most basic level, very competitive people hog the floor since they don’t want to have to face off against their rivals. It’s easier to live in your own dreamworld than have to deal with all those whose talents and credits might exceed your own. Or let’s say you feel in danger of being rejected by either a potential employer or lover, what better way to avoid getting bad news than to control the feed?

read "Why Big German Words like Vergangenbangenheit Carry Weight?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry

Wednesday, September 7, 2022


The 9/2 edition of the
 TLS contains a review of Cacophonies: The Excremental Canon of French Literature. “French literature is full of shit. So begins, and concludes Annabel L. Kim’s exuberant, if at times nauseating study.” The reviewer, Russell Williams, revels in the author’s preoccupation perhaps wondering to himself why in the competitive world of publishing, this book was chosen from the “slush” pile. “Cacophony” is a form of dissonance, but “cacophony” is a neologism created to advance the author’s argument that “the time is ripe for a faecal awakening.” Sub faeces aeternitatis!  The tome under review deals with literature but if it were to comprise art it would have to include the neo-conceptualist Wim Delvoye’s internationally exhibited “Cloaca”—a work that actually produces shit. Excretion is a democratizing process. No one is immune. Imagine say the Queen Mother taking a dump. This may be one of the messages of Pasolini’s infamous Salo, where beautiful naked inmates dine on their tormentors’ piles. You might say that “ashes to ashes” is the last stage in a life process that includes the ingestion and digestion of organic matter. No meditation on bodily processes can be complete without mention of Courbet’s “The Evolution of the World,” whose subject is depicted with her legs wantonly spread. A post-modernist sequel would undoubtedly have shown the fluids which flowed out of the orifices so graphically displayed. “Kim’s readings are creative, bold and surprising,” Williams remarks.“They reek, but…they open up a field of literary waste studies that poses pressing ecological questions." Cacaphonies may be a waste, but should be required reading for even the shittiest course.

read "Dr. Pangloss" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Translating Myself?

In a review of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Translating Myself and Others (TLS, 8/12/22), Polly Barton singles out an essay on the Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci’s Letters From Prison. “She notes that the Italian word traduzione refers not solely to the movement of texts between tongues; it also carries a secondary, bureaucratic meaning, the physical transfer of detained individuals. From this she discovers that the phrase “traduzione ordinaria” (“ordinary translation”), which regularly occurs in Gramsci’s letters, also refers to a specific kind of forced movement.” Lahiri, whose stories appear in The New Yorker, moved to Italy where she learned to write in Italian and translate her own work into English. Her Dove mi trovo became Whereabouts. Beckett, of course, wrote En attendant Godot before translating it into English as Waiting for Godot. Fin de partie became Endgame. Lahiri’s alterego also appears in her stories about life in Rome, where in reality she’s a familiar figure on the Janiculum. You can read Swan’s Way in the versions by F. Scott Moncrieff or Lydia Davis The Brothers Karamazov in the early twentieth century version by Constance Garnett or in the recent translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Stated simply language is rich, full of innuendo and highly personal to every culture. Amour and Amore are not as fungible as the words might suggest. It isn’t always a grammatical designation that even begins to define a sensibility.

read "God Bless Pig Latin America" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "La-La (Means I Love You)" by The Delfonics

Monday, September 5, 2022

Combat in the Erogeneous Zone

Combat in the Erogeneous Zone is the title of Ingrid Bengis' l972 broadsheet about the war between the sexes. The final section on "Love," citing the Yalta conference in the context of detent, was prophetic to the extent that the famous meeting between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin was a prelude to the Cold War--which is about where relations of the sexes have returned after years of quashed hopes for a peace. The recent death of Mikhail Gorbachev is a reminder of another set of hopes embodied in the terms Glasnost and Perestroika. But is there a direct line between Glasnost and the present war in the Ukraine? Vladimir Putin was once mayor of St. Petersberg and ironically Peter the Great’s dream of Imperial Russia was reawakened in the mind a young former KGB officer by the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. History is circular as Vico pointed out. Simply stated, what goes around comes around--sometimes to disastrous effect as in the current Ukraine conflict. The God That Failed is the title the Arthur Koestler’s memoir. Raymond Aron called Marxism The Opium of the Intellectuals. Irredentism refers to the desire of formerly balkanized states to reconstitute and the Grand Inquisitor aka ISIS fell on the heels of Arab Spring.

read "Pornosophy: Nudity" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the trailer for Erotomania





Friday, September 2, 2022

Wild In the Streets

Lindsay Graham and Trump have taken the stance that they're doing the Justice Department and by proxy the American people a favor by alerting them to the possible violence that would ensure if the former president were brought to trial. They’re not going to be responsible for the behavior of Trump’s restless but devoted base. It sounds a like The Godfather
 “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” What’s so interesting is the act of dissociation--a feckless attempt to mollify or evade intent. What was Lindsay Graham thinking? Oh it’s fine if they have a show trial. It’s a free country. Let Merrick Garland do whatever he wants within the boundaries of the law? The fact is, there's no other reason that one sounds alarms, in the way that's being done, than to throttle. In fact, there may be occasional incidents like the one at the FBI office in Cincinnati, but it’s highly unlikely that there're going to be massive riots in the streets or even another January 6th. However dangerous, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers are the lunatic fringe and not as organized or effective as Organized Crime.

read "Homeland II by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Dancing in the Streets" by Martha and the Vandellas

Thursday, September 1, 2022


super pit Gold Mine, Kalgoorlie, Australia

Have you ever encountered people who liberally sprinkle their remarks with “my.”  Instead of saying they would like steak, they say I’d like “my steak.” The use of the possessive is significant since it describes a low-level narcissism in which the world is literally “my oyster.” Tyrants tend to be pathologically possessive. Hitler  undoubtedly regarded the Sudetenland as “his,” his mines as  "mine." It's disconcerting to be with someone whose narrowcasting can have such nefarious consequences. As you encounter such individuals, you feel like you’re on the verge of being annexed. You only exist as a colony of their imagination--thus the conundrum of coming into the orbit of someone suffering from severe or chronic narcissism. You may delude yourself into thinking your interactions are normal when in fact you're on the event horizon of a black hole. Anyone with a shaky sense of self-worth should be warned to stay away from the kind of charismatic personality who will sweep them up like an iron filing. The attraction to such characters is an impulse that needs to be mined.

Read "Is There a Cure for Narcissistic Alexithymia?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the trailer for Erotomania