Author: James Livingston

Weimar Moment?

In the wake of Trump’s incitement to insurrection, a friend forwarded this query from her lawyer: “Can you ask Jim if he thinks that we are in the 1930-1933 Weimar and rise of the NASD phase of our history?” He appended these citations from German sources of January 1933: . . . it would be impossible to establish a dictatorship in Germany because there was “a barrier, over which violence cannot proceed” and because of the German nation being proud of “the freedom of speech and thought, it is a hopeless misjudgement to think that one could force a...

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Ain’t Called Jacobin for Nothin’: On the Constitution of Revolution

I The Left and the Right agree on too many things these days, but on nothing so much as the US Constitution.  Both sides treat it as a lifeless document that thwarts progress toward the expansion of human rights and the scope of democracy.   For so-called conservatives like Samuel Alito and the late Antonin Scalia, thwarting progress is a good thing—their reading of the document based on the founders’ “original intent, ”on the plain meaning of the words they used, would forbid gay marriage, women’s ownership of their own bodies, and affirmative action of any kind.  For radicals and liberals...

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This Prisoner

This Prisoner Words and music by James Livingston.  I wrote this “break-up poem” ten years ago as a song, as I was getting divorced.  Some of you have seen or heard it before.  I capo it at the 5th  or 6th fret because my voice works better there, but you can play it as you like.   D                       C                                     G These restless years have done their damage Em    ...

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From Brooklyn to Beirut

Lionel Shriver is a bad writer who makes Ayn Rand sound like a good liberal.  Like her ideological antecedent–I can’t dignify this lineage with the word “intellectual”–Shriver writes lousy novels that attract critical attention and Hollywood options because they make no sense.  The more inexplicable the better, I suppose, because this lack of sense gives everybody all the more discretion in analyzing, producing, and consuming the available fictions.  Until now, when the future intrudes on our thinking like the stupid burglar who cased the wrong place, as Donald Trump has done in hijacking the USA. But there is no present like the one lived in dystopian science fiction, where the past stands in for the future precisely because what is to become of us can’t be known until it happens–until it’s written and remembered avant la lettre, before the fact, ahead of its time, as non-fiction or novels. Shriver notes this chronological perversity in The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2042, her last readable novel (2016).  The speaker is Lowell Mandible, a complacent Keynesian economist who has been furloughed from Georgetown as the US slides into chaos because the federal government has repudiated the national debt.  Lowell is eventually rescued from his intellectual and political lethargy by his nephew, Willing, who plays the part of the old Randian mole, burrowing beneath our silly beliefs in anything but self-reliance, and who, accordingly,...

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Bruce Andrews: A Change Is Gonna Come

Bruce Andrews is a New York City-based (since 1975) Poet, literary theorist & retired Political Science professor (tilted to the Left — for 5 minutes of entertainment, google his stand-off with Bill O’Reilly as ‘Outrage of the Week’). Musical Director for Sally Silvers & Dancers, he has created sound designs & live mixes of music & text for over two decades of performances. For a Symposium on his poetry (several dozen books & chapbooks worth) & web archive (interviews, performance texts, poetry, collaborations, & critical essays), check out: http://www.fordhamenglish.com/bruce-andrews.  3 books from U NewMexico Press are just out: a reprint of the full run of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine, a collection of Letters related to it & to so-called Language Poetry, & the five-way collaboration, Legend. _______________   A  CHANGE  IS  GONNA  COME Bruce Andrews [#SIGNAGEs of the day,  New York City, 2020 — April May June]   “SORRY, WE’RE  DEAD” — [on the door of a Costume apparel store] “TITLE  OF  WORK” “Employees Must Carve SLAYER Into Forearm Before Returning to Work” “Why Are You Still Holding On?” “IMBLEACH  HIM” “Make the POTUS Great Again” “You’re a mess” “We  Are  Not  Convinced” “Pretend you like it” “You  Bet  Your  Ass” “Can  You  Imagine” “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake” “Post  No  Hate” — (wall outside Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1983-88 residence) “WISH  YOU  WERE . . . CLOSER” “Hello  My...

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