Friday, May 31, 2024

Holinshed's Chronicles

There's an iconic scene in an early Bergman film in which two boys sitting in the back seat of a car get into an argument over the existence of God. Ignited by Trump's felony conviction two adults will now get into a shouting match not in the backseat of a car but rather across two sides of a barricade separating demonstrators in front of the Supreme Court through whose auspices the Republicans are vowing to appeal the recent conviction. Considering the composition of the current court one can be sure there will be a watershed ruling against regicide which will one day in the past find its way into the Chronicles of Holinshed. Trump has yet to be stopped. Will he succeed in turning back the hands of time?

See Francis Levy playlist forThe Kafka Studies DepartmentLargehearted Boy

and read "Francis Levy's Divine Comedy," Exquisite Corpse

The Feudal Self

defensive moat around Caerloverack Castle Scotland

Do you experience primeval behaviors in yourself and others? In nature you have an ancestors to man such as the famed fossil Lucy who thrived 3.2 million years ago. In the self, there is an essential being a product of DNA, morphology and environment that appears much like a boson or fundamental element of matter, as a watershed in the lifecycle of creatures. It may evidence itself before or after the advent of consciousness. You either know it or fail to recognize it in yourself. Let's say you were a hyperactive kid who couldn't control their impulses. Intelligence itself need not be a factor. However you may have been the kind of child who immediately raised their hand when the teacher asked for the answer to a question. If you were not called on, and it's likely you would not be since human beings are animals who can smell a so-called needy or overly desirous individual a mile away, you would call out and then find yourself counting tiles in the wall outside the classroom after you'd been kicked out. You would have suffered the humiliation of having other teachers or students who might be walking the halls to go to the bathroom seeing you marked like Heather Prynne. In fact, an overly anxious individual can easily walk away from childhood with what is known as a "Hester Prynne Complex," which in itself becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Not everyone demonstrates this kind of pathology but it's an example of something profound that can follow an undiagnosed or diagnosed individual's early life. The primordial self however need not be a handicap. Naturally there are those whose most elemental projections are that they're loved and desired. These kinds of people walk around with an a self-confidence and insouciant indifference that is libelous and downright obnoxious.

See Francis Levy playlist forThe Kafka Studies Department, Largehearted Boy

and read "Francis Levy's Divine Comedy," Exquisite Corpse

Thursday, May 30, 2024


The Roman Empire declined and fell and Edward Gibbon lived to write about it. And of course Thucydides and Herodotus predicted competing albeit more contemporary accounts of the Peloponnesus. History is a peculiar subject as Louis Menand points out quoting Walter Benjamin inThe Free World "no fact that is a cause is for that very reason historical. It became historical posthumously." Simple chronology doesn't say  enough. Hegel is, of course, famous for his dialectic out of which the Marxian notion of "dialectical materialism" emanated. Stephan Daedalus famously says, "History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake"--something which pertains to the current world in which autocracy threatens even so-called democracies." Menand also points out that German and Austria from whence Nazism emanated were also the seats of the Bauhaus, Kant, Goethe and a list of cultural figures and movements too numerous to list. And what about "income inequality" which Thomas Picketty underscores in Capital? The vision of many works of sci fi and fantasy is feudal with powerful forces leveling great power over the kind of drones that can't be flown. The Judaic Christian origin myths still hold sway while the Greek gods no longer intervene as they look down on mortals from Mount Olympus.

listen to "Slip Away" by Clarence Carter

and read "Why Big German Words like Vergangenbangenheit Carry Weight" by Francis Levy, Huff Post

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Nathaniel West

There was a period when Facebook was still a novelty. People used it to confide. There was the excitement of a new form of community whose name was "planned obsolescence." Still it was almost as if FB users were talking to themselves and saying things they wouldn't have told anybody. It was something like the way writers feel.They know their submissions are being read by sows but continue flushing them into cyberspace anyway. You'd hear anything from an irritating iteration of one's tennis score to an admission from a wife saying something she never had told her husband before: that she had never loved him and wanted a divorce. Yes at a certain time before Meta changed its algorithms to totally accommodate advertising and Russian and Chinese election interference, it was something between Nathaniel West's Miss Lonelyhearts and the town dump.

read "The Findings" by Francis Levy, Evergreen Review

and listen to "Dance Crazes of the 60s"

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Soul of the Foot

You're the kind of person whose wound(s) are always smarting. What is the source of the pain? It's as if your foot doesn't fit the shoe of reality. Now let's say things are reversed. You are now the shoe that someone would like to put their foot into. The foot obviously doesn't fit. It's painful to both the vessel into which it's being inserted ( you ) and the foot which exists in a state of umheimlichkeit or estrangement. It's rare that a foot fits the shoe which is why "spiritual orthopedics" is a one-sided affair. But even though you have spent your life trying to fill other peoples' shoes, you now can be sympathic when it's your turn to play hard to get. As painful as it always is to be refused, it's always good to give people a taste of their own medicine.

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

and listen to "Soul Man" by Sam&Dave

Monday, May 27, 2024

Hit Man

Ultimately the most unreal thing about Hit Man, the new Richard Linklater movie, is that it’s based on the real life story of Gary Johnson, a philosophy professor whose proclivities and abilities led him to becoming a useful member of the New Orleans police department. Gary (played by Glenn Powell who also co-authored the script with Linklater ) teaches psychology and philosophy. The bowls for his two cats are Ego and Id and he lectures on Freud and Jung as well as Nietzsche. Ervin Goffman’s The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life isn’t mentioned in the movie, but role playing is the subject, an idea that fueled Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, though that great dramatic work isn’t mentioned either. Hit Man is a wonderfully concise title which, in itself, tells the whole story. Hit men are gangsters in the employ of organized crime, but also prime roles for a slew of “character actors’ who have impersonated them. “What if your self is a construction?” is one of the questions posed. Gary is the professor, but Ron is his doppelganger. "As if" personalities populate the scenario, but it's when the personality and the “as if  “personality” collide that the drama breaks forth in this ultimately cerebral movie. Here evolutionary and esthetic theory compete. Is justice poetic or aboriginal? The movie’s denouement cleverly addresses both, along with the extent to which man’s animal desires rule the roost.

read "Pet Buddha" by Francis Levy, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

and listen to Leonard Bernstein discussing Janis Ian's  "Society's Child."

Friday, May 24, 2024

The Frankfurt School

Hannah Arendt's birthplace in Linden (Bernd Schwabe)

Maps provide the directions to particular villages and towns along a road. Psychogeography is another way of measuring connectivity and finding one's way. Just as a city is created to provides
 optimal conditions for survival in terms of sustenance and commerce, intellectual history has its centers which  tender to spiritual and emotional conditions. For instance you have the Weimar Republic and the Frankfurt School, the Geneva accords, The Black Mountain School and Silicon Valley. Camp David is named after Dwight D. Eisenhower's grandson. There is Greenwich Mean Time. Bretts'on Woods, a ski resort in New Hampshire, is synomous, with the monetary system, Telluride with film. Yalta, where Chekov's "The Lady With a Dog," takes place, was also where Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt convened after the Second World War. You can even map the connection between thinkers. Being and Time, the famous Heidegger tome gave birth to Sartre's Being and Nothingness. Where would Bishop Berkeley "esse est percipi," "to be is to be perceived" be without Descartes "cogito ergo sum?"

listen to Joan Baum's NPR review of The Kafka Studies Department

and listen to "(I'm a) Roadrunner" by Junior Walker and the All-Stars

Thursday, May 23, 2024


When you look at it most reflection is projection as is most perception. Most people are traveling on Spaceship-Moi-Meme. This particular state of affairs has been underscored by the phenomenon of gaslighting in politics. Remember the Freedom Marchers in the South. In that climate a segregationist could claim his freedom was being taken away. Ironically it's close to deconstruction which claims truth cannot exceed its cultural referents. Does everyone see the same red in Matisse's "Red Studio?" Or the blue that Yves Kleun bathed his human paint brushes in? If you fight fire with fire you'll  answer "not to be " to Hamlet. Camus famously said the only real philosophical question was suicide. An affirmation of suicide may sound like an oxymoron, but what difference does anything make, if interiority ends up being the only reality one can know? Esse est percipi, "to be us to be perceived," but who is doing the watching?

read the review of The Kafka Studies Department in Booklife

and listen to "Cool Jerk" by The Capitols

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Mask

Janus (photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen)

The death mask can't be repealed. You either look like yourself or, as is usually the case, an ancestor who is not you. After a family member dies there are often reports of strange doings with chimes tinkering or lights flashing on and off, even if there is no storm. But these kinds of paranormal events are superseded by the transformation that takes place when "Conatus," Spinoza's life force, is removed and the lights go out forever. When a cadaver is embalmed, you may attend a viewing that can go on for days. You can study photographs of luminaries lying in state, but they're actors whose faces are covered in blush. Makeup hides the final expression they will take with them to the grave. Their final "look" has the deceased individual staring death "literally" in the eye.

read the Kirkus review of The Kafka Studies Department

and listen to "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Patti Labelle and The Bluebelles

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Cyclone

The Coney Island Cyclone (Leonard J. Francisci)

Have you ever awakened from a deep sleep and not known where you are? If it's really deep you may have felt "derangement des sens" to quote Rimbaud and not know who you are. It's the kind if thing that may have happened to you after a mid-winter afternoon nap. The sun set early so when you awakened your whole house or apartment was bathed in darkness when you came to. All the usual recognizable objects-- your coordinates--had been removed so you were like the plane in that old Twilight Zone which wandered into the past when its navigational system was on the fritz. This kind of momentary amnesia would be delightful if it weren't so frightening. Imagine being given a hallucinogen which provided a temporary passport from the self itself. Then, of course, like the Cyclone at Coney Island, the terrifying but oh so thrilling ride would come to an end and you'd appreciate returning to your solitude, on solid ground.

read the review of The Kafka Studies Department in Booklife

and listen to "Walk on By" by Dionne Warwick

Monday, May 20, 2024

The Enigma of Art


"Made in Heaven" (Jeff Koons and La Ciciolina)

"The Enigma of Arrival" was a wonderful piece by VS Naipaul that ran in The New Yorker decades ago charting the writer's path from Trinidad to Oxford. It's always "enigmatic" to discover the divergence between mellifluous and sensitive prose with reality of the creator. It's not trite to invoke The Picture of Dorian Gray. Naipaul was a legendary sadist who actually disfigured one of his mistresses while cheating on his long suffering wife. Art in general doesn't square with its market place. Jeff Koons who is unfairly dismissed has actually devoted his life to the subject of commodification. He pulls no punches. What you see is what you get. Oscar Wilde famously said. "It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances." An enigma is a wonderful way to describe the Bildungsroman that can be written about all the world's Tonio Krogers. My Architect director Nathaniel Kahn's film about the art market,The Price of Everything, says it all in describing the reality behind the veneer of humanism. Every would-be writer or artist falls hard when they arrive on the scene strutting their feathers only to be chastened by their forbears (now gatekeepers) who have become hardened by the very world they once sought to enter.

read the review of The Kafka Studies Department in Booklife

and listen to "Cool Jerk" by The Capitols

Friday, May 17, 2024


Eichmann (1961)

Hannah Arendt of course coined the term "banality of evil." Is Trump an Eichmann? In Errol Morris' American Dharma Steve Bannon invokes Milton's "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav'n." Then there's Star Wars. Does Darth Vader equal Trump? One is hard put to see Trump as a man in a glass cage who's a product of some bureaucracy of death. You undoubtedly hate Trump and have dreamt of blowing him up with one of the tactical nuclear weapons Putin likes to threaten Ukraine with. But the implacable tyrant with all his similarly dressed minions brings back the Elizabethan theater which painted many outsized tyrants. Fanny Willis is on the back burner and both the documents and January 6th case will probably be delayed respectively by a Trump appointed judge and Trump leaning Supreme Court. Imagine Trump saying he was just taking orders--as Eichmann did. No way! Trump gets an A for evil.

read "An Incident of Defenestration" by Francis Levy, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

and listen to Joan Baum's NPR review of The Kafka Studies Department

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Joseph Welch

Joseph Welch being questioned by Joseph McCarthy

Joseph Welch, the lawyer for the Army, finally brought down Joseph McCarthy. Et tu, Brut? Trump famously claimed he could walk down Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody. Maybe Fifth Avenue in Moscow (yes there is a Moscow, Idaho!). You keep waiting for the ultimate act of hubris that will be the water that makes this wicked witch melt. What would Trump be called in the world of Oz? He acts like The Wizard with all his puffery, but he's really The Tin, or, to invoke Eliot, Hollow Man. Trump and Biden have agreed to two debates. The first is scheduled for June 27 on CNN. The second will be hosted on ABC. 80 million viewers watched Chris Wallace preside back in 2020. No "Access Hollywood" style tape or episode in a Bergdorf dressing room will do the trick. Putin has been threatening tactical nuclear weapons.Trump is so popular he probably could get away with using one against the liberal news media, the DOJ, Jack Smith and Judge Juan Marchan's daughter. He's so popular he could easily employ his Goebbels, Steve Bannon, to wage a propaganda war against anyone who talked back to him. He could put reporters like Jim Acosta in concentration camps (linens courtesy My Pillow's Mike Lindell). Trump is so popular he could build huge ovens in which he could cook the Democratic party's goose, but someday he has got to slip. It might be only over a banana peel, but he's going to fall hard, right on his red MAGA capped head.

read the review of The Kafka Studies Department in Booklife

and listen to "It's the Same Old Song" by The Four Tops

Wednesday, May 15, 2024


Have you ever met someone with an almost gluttonous desire to live? Someone who steamrolls and is not afraid of who is getting runover along the way? Malignity is not the right word since it is not as if there were some sort of ad hoc attack at work. Parsimony and unadultered selfishness might explain the motive along with a kind of aggressive hoarding and entitlement. The Beale sisters in Albert and David Maysles Grey Gardens (1975)  are looked at as curiosities, as are the aristocrats in La Grand Bouffe (1970) and the figure who is force fed, like a goose who's liver will some day be fois gras, in David Fincher's Seven (1995). However, these are not exceptions. You may have read the articles about the aging parents whose medical and living expenses bankrupt their children. Appetite is an equal opportunity employer and those who are hungry will devour with the biblical force of Jonah's whale.

read the review of The Kafka Studies Department in Booklife

and listen to "Shake Me, Wake Me When It's Over" by the Four Tops

Tuesday, May 14, 2024


illustration of Dante's 18th Canto by Stradanus

Virgil lead Dante but now of course he's dead so you have to look for someone else if you need a cicerone. But what are the rules pertaining to the afterlife? Can travelers earn rewards points and move from say the eighth circle Malebolge or even the ninth, Treachery to the first Limbo. That, of course, would be a stretch. Also what about predestination? Do the precepts io The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism pertain in hell? Perhaps that's, in fact, what makes the Inferno different from Pugatory or Paradise. Once you cross the Acheron you ain't going anywhere. Remember The Friends of Distinction, "You Got Me Going in Circles/ Round and Around I go." Supposedly the song was about love, but the truth was it was hell. Google Maps comes into play. If you have the right app, it'll save your life.

read the review of The Kafka Studies Department in Booklife

and listen to "You've Got Me Going in Circles" by The Friends of Distinction

Monday, May 13, 2024

Coup de chance

Ever try the slots in Las Vegas. Everyone thinks they’re getting close and that’s the scam. Woody Allen’s
 Coup de chance is a face-off between those who accept the odds and are still willing to play and those who believe that reality should be taken by the scuff of its neck. Only one in 14 million sperm reach the fallopian tube. So life itself is a coup de chance or “stroke of luck.” In Allen’s 50th film, an unhappy marriage between Fanny a woman, who works for an auction house (Lou de Laage) and Jean (Melvil Poupaud) an investment banker, whose mandate is to make the wealthy wealthier, sets the scene. Add to this a chance encounter on a Paris street and a forest--one doing and the other undoing “fate.” If you’re looking for New Yorkers or the familiar types that create the identification and comfort of an Annie Hall or Deconstructing Harry, they’re nowhere to be found here. In Coup de chance the director demonstrates his mastery of story, plot and suspense. The movie's linearity can make the characters paper thin. This is George Simenon territory However, despite the notion of fate the film is predicated on, Coup de chance, ironically, has an inexorable quality. Everything is the way it's supposed to be or it would be different goes the old saw. 

read the review of The Kafka Studies Department by Francis Levy on Booklife

and listen to "Missing You" by John Waite

Friday, May 10, 2024

No User Name or Password?

Imagine being in some far off space/time coordinate, so quantumly entangled, that you lose your galactic user name and password. At first every thing is hunky dory. You enter your old password then a new one that you're asked to confirm. Back on earth that was simple, but now you're being rejected as you travel towards the Big Dipper. If only these services had someone you could speak to. The problem is, the area code is hard to find when you're traveling around some Kepler star 1200 light years from earth and these hotlines keep you waiting for eternity. Our team is very eager to answer your call. Please stay on the line, a representative will be with you  shortly. What does shortly mean?  Depends whether your traveling slower or faster than the speed of light. As you know time goes slower the faster you travel. In fact if you go fast enough you'll find yourself back in a time where there will be no use for a user name and the natives don't even know how to create fire. Is that what you want? Obviously you'd better find that old user name otherwise you'll end up in shit creek.

and listen to "Please Don't Fuck Me In the Ass Tonight" by Karen McCoy

Thursday, May 9, 2024



Pol Pot

Under Pol Pot there was an attempt to eradicate the educated middle class elite by murder or exile (to rural areas where they would under go re-education and redeployment). It was similar to what went on in China during the Cultural Revolution. Being opposed to democracy is becoming a creditable political platform in many countries today (Brazil, Hungry) as well as the US. It's actually populism versus democracy, the rule of the crowd over principles like "inalienable rights" and "due process, which are attributed to Washington elites aka "the deep state." Constitutionalism is under attack by MAGA originalists in patriotic garb. In the current culture of  "gaslighting," anything can be turned on its head. Real Americans are those who do away with freedom and rights and also refuse to spend time and money on foreign affairs that are not their business. Democracy is not a simple concept that's easy to understand and it's not necessarily tantamount to rule by the majority--though that's an important ingredient. It's a set of precepts about governance involving bicameralism, executive power and the role of the judiciary. These provide "checks and balances" against the abuse of authority and against the kind chaos that looms on the horizon today. Will Donald Trump exact retribution by exiling the so-called elites to the countryside?

listen to Joan Baum's NPR review of The Kafka Studies Department

and listen to "Young Americans" by David Bowie

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Evil Does Not Exist

Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Evil Does Not Exist, currently playing at Film Forum, is an Enemy of the People—with the whole town rising up against a project that pollutes their water. If you remember Drive My Car, the director’s previous film, is about multilingual producrton of Uncle Vanya (amongst many things). Evil Does Not Exist is far simpler. A glamping company, Playmode, is developing a site in which the septic tank is only partially adequate to protect an otherwise pristine landscape. But Hamaguchi continues the theatrical metaphor. Playmode is actually an entertainment company and its representatives are PR types rather than experts on environment.There are three elements of style that are prominent right away, every scene with a car is shot through the rear window (like the pollution affecting groundwater). There are extremely long takes which run throughout the film (like the first in which the camera pans through trees). Almost all these perserveratiing scenes are interrupted in medias res, as if someone were being interrupted in the middle of a sentence. There's a masterful moment in the last scene which is shot from the point of view of Takumi (Hitoshi Omika), the local jack of all physical and spiritual trades which at first hides its truth in an abstract landscape. It's painting of terror come to life. Drive My Car was epic both in length and complexity. Here there is far less information. Nature rather than culture is the dominant theme, but the title of the movie is puzzling. Plainly evil does exist.

listen to "Fortnight" by Taylor Swift

and watch "Terminal Bar" by Stefan Nadelman

Tuesday, May 7, 2024


If you've ever viewed an embalmed body at a wake you've undoubtedly noticed how life-like a cadaver can be. It's almost as if you were turning back the hands of time to converse with the dead--and have the last word so to speak. Which brings up the question of seances and ghosts (isn't it ironic that "ghosting" means cutting off communication when the very word exists to invoke a specter like the ghost of Hamlet's father). These supernatural devices which have little scientific credibility express hope in the face of impossibility. An apparition may be unreal but a pill which is even harder to swallow is the idea that you cannot somehow get through, that you cannot renegotiate  your contract or relationship. Most people feel sadness when a parent dies, but for some it's a time of rebirth. Through no fault of their own, the parent may have held back the child. Subliminal signals by their very nature are hard to fathom. Wouldn't it be fun to be able to tell mom and dad that you finally made it. Making It was the title of Norman Podhiretz's autobiography. Who knows if it was a letter to the immortals--just one final message or addenda to uncloud those muddy waters and finally say, as The Impressions crooned, "It's all right, have a good time."

listen to Joan Baum's NPR review of The Kafka Studies Department

and listen to "It's All Right" by The Impressions

Monday, May 6, 2024

Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick in 60s
It's Impossible to see through another person's eyes. France became Vichy and Dresden was fire bombed. You hear he or she died or the partner of someone no longer recognizes their other half. Whether you're a "virtue signaler" or truly an altruist willing to risk your life to save the Strangers Drowning a la Larissa MacFarquar, you can never know the suffering of the other. The United States is a bit like the good-natured person who's pained when they see an accident where others slow down to enjoy the circus-like atmosphere of ambulances and police cars. Ukraine and Taiwan are faraway. Philip K. Dick wrote Man in the High Castle, but how probable is it that Axis powers or their equivalent now (N. Korean, Russia, China, MAGA) could irreparably change the landscape. Finland and Sweden rushed to join NATO in fear of Russian imperialism, but the US has always been in a peculiar position of never having been invaded--simply because the enemy is too far away (unless you consider Cuba a threat). Your dying friend is Taiwan and you're like the US or Canada--pondering whether to join forces in a war that sometimes feels like it really isn't yours.

listen to "Fortnight" by Taylor Swift

and watch "Terminal Bar" by Stefan Nadelman

Friday, May 3, 2024

R.A. Lafferty


R.A. Lafferty (1998)

R.A.  Lafferty writes linguistic sci fi, fantasy worlds made out of words. In his "Narrowing Valley," (The New Yorker, October 24, 2022), a homage to a Lafferty story entitled "Narrow Valley," Jonathan Lethem comments, "The past is huge, and real, but you are small. To reenter the valley of the past is, properly, to grow tiny, and to vanish." The "vanishing past" is the kind of idea Lafferty perpetrates. "In Our Block," a character named Art Slick says, "Girl, do you know how the fellow on the corner can ship a whole trailer load of material out of a space that wouldn't hold a ten of it?" "Sure. He makes it and loads it out at the same time. That way it doesn't take up space, like if he made it before that." Relativity showed how gravity was the warping of space and time. For Lafferty space takes on a life of its own, remanding the reader to a verbal blackhole. In "Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne," Lafferty writes, "Along about sundown in an unnumbered year, on the road from Nowhere to Eom an Avatar fell dead with a slippery elm dart in his heart." And in the eponymous "Narrow Valley," Willy McNilly asks his friend Clarence "what did one flat-lander say to the other?" "Dimension of us never got around," Clarence replies. Lafferty takes you not to a different, star or planet and or even coordinate in the space/time continuum. His is a universe of twisted sentences that like a carnival house of mirrors, turns perception upside down.

read Jonathan Lethem's "Narrowing Valley" by Francis Levy in

and listen to "Short People" by Randy Newman

Thursday, May 2, 2024


"The Phrenologist" by A.S. Hartwick (1895)
Imagine if life were all Mind--including dead souls. Trump who seems so real would be that headache above your consciousness's left eye that never seems to go away. Isn't that a benign way to look at this extended reality show? Unfulfilled pleasure and hope would manifest as a free-floating hunger, the rushing water of an impressionistic Debussy piece, filling the ether of one's pre-frontal cortex. This condition might provide fodder for
eugenicists, enamored as they are by phrenological speculation. It may sound like a stretch, but just consider the whole world and even the galaxy in which it resides, the Milky Way as part of the brain. That would not only explain dark energy and matter, but the delusive everlastingness one experiences, up until "The Age of Finitude."  When someone said they were depressed and you responded casually "it's in your own head," you would be right.

read the Kirkus review of The Kafka Studies Department

and listen to "Putting the Damage On" by Tori Amos

Wednesday, May 1, 2024


John Cage's famed piece is just that 4'33 (of silence). "The rest is silence" says Hamlet. "Whereof one cannot speak, there of one must be silent." Take God. Here the inability to speak doesn't  imply andence. Silence is hyperbole in fact. The fact that that you can't speak about something means there's too much to be said. It's like talking with your mouth full. There are two situations in which silence is a particularly effective tool. Thd first is in a potential argument. By not weighing in, you are able to hear the other (a powerful weapon in itself) and most importantly one's as yet unexpressed thoughts. The second is less passive. Silent is an advocate. Most people don't like being moved from their inertial state but silence has the power of negative energy, which magnetically draws its object in.

and listen to "The Tortured Poets Department" by Taylor Swift

and also listen to Joan Baum's NPR review of The Kafka Studies Department