My condensation of the 2016 book, No More Work (UNC Press), for Aeon, the online magazine, reverted to the original title, “Fuck Work.” That piece went totally viral. To date it has received over a million reads (not hits, actual reads that last 14 minutes) and roughly 90,000 Facebook shares. WTF? Paul Jorion, a French sociologist andf all-around intellectual, noticed the traffic, and enjoyed the argument, so he commissioned a translation and a comment for his blog. Then he went further and pitched a translation of the book to Flammarion, the esteemed French publishing house. That translation is now in print, with his introduction up front I asked Matthew Barlow, our ace from Politics/Letters Live, to translate the introduction, so that we might then argue over the content and the reception of my argument. Bruce Robbins, one of our associate editors, elaborated on Barlow’s translation. Here’s the result. We’ll follow up with responses by Jon Levy of the University of Chicago, Liz Fouksman of Oxford University, our very own Bruce Robbins, and Karen Foster of the University of Nova Scotia. I’ll try to summarize the state of the debate, and then Paul Jorion will get the last word. With any luck, we’ll have some...Read More
Author: James Livingston
The small, bright lake shone every morning, even when it rained. You could see the sky without looking toward heaven. All souls were reflected there. I walked its two-mile circumference every day for almost a month. I was in exile, upstate, estranged from my wife, waiting for her to move out of the apartment in the city. Only once was the water roused enough by wind to punctuate the surface with neat white-tipped commas. It was late in my stay. That was when I noticed the withered forest in the lake. The trees were still standing, so I supposed their island had been recently swamped. They didn’t bend in the wind that day, they just broke off and hurried toward me in serried rows that looked like rafts. I bent to retrieve one sliver, a crooked timber smoothed by drowning. I used it as a walking stick. It kept me upright, for a few days, anyway. The dwellings facing the lake were all at a much higher elevation than the water, as if they had been warned by those trees. Some of these houses were serenely perched on hilltops, surrounded by green lawns and accompanied by wind chimes. Most were backed a hundred yards up into dark overgrowth, protected by chain-link fences against everything except the weeds and the saplings. All displayed the same blue sign: NO TRESPASSING. The...Read More
Thursday is the Guggenheim’s day off. I can’t tell you how many tourists brayed at the announcement. I was watching them from the shade of the main entrance, waiting for my girlfriend to join me for a private showing of the new Giacometti exhibit at 3:00. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a tourist, too. I’ve been here ten years, and I still can’t measure the immensity of the place. Now the guy who arranged this private showing lives in my building along with other museum curators and more bizarre individuals, opera singers and the like. He builds things, always...Read More
On May 31, James Livingston posted an impassioned broadside on Facebook against gentrification. Since then, he has received volumes of critical, and often abusive, emails and comments. This is his reply Having read Aingeal de Nógla’s and Mark Bray’s books on the alt-right, and having witnessed the election of Donald Trump, I should have seen the hate mail coming. I didn’t. It’s Wednesday, June 6, 2018. Since Friday, June 1, I’ve received roughly 70 hate mails for what I said at Facebook about white people, who can’t seem to take a joke or slip the yoke. Just between us,...Read More
Ever had trouble with money? Like, say, hearing from bill collectors at home and at work? Or bouncing your rent check? Or borrowing money from friends to pay Con Ed? Or watching silently while the repo man tows your car, even though you had enough money in the bank to pay the loan off yesterday? Been there, done that. And I’m the guy who wrote the book on the Federal Reserve. I’m supposed to understand money and banking, debt and liability. And I do, in the abstract. I can explain Say’s Law, or Marx’s theory of value, or Keynes’s...Read More
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