Perry Anderson

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Are there any appropriate dimensions to literary biography as a form? The stature of a writer, and length of life, might be expected to provide some co-ordinates. Yet even among modern masters there is little consistency.

the pinefox, Monday, 30 July 2018 13:14 (two years ago) link

"Marriage extended rather than altered this, Powell acquiring many an in-law from an Anglo-Irish background to which he was allergic"

the pinefox, Monday, 30 July 2018 13:15 (two years ago) link

To endorse, largely, what has been said: it seems plain that PA likes AP partly because he can identify with the relevant milieu. It is frustrating, in a way, that someone as brilliant as PA lacks perspective on this.

Arrival at the age of 13 at Eton, a year after the Great War had come an end, brought him in Spurling’s view

the underlying stability and continuity that came from a sense he had never known before of belonging to a community that accepted him, the nearest thing to a place where he felt at home. The school became from now on a kind of virtual extended family whose members – however rebarbative, reluctant or remote – stood in all his life for the actual relatives he hadn’t got.

Fortunate in finding himself in a house ‘with a poor reputation and no standards to keep up’, presided over by an easy-going master, he flourished as a member of the school’s Arts Society, did well academically, and emerged more polished and confident socially.

etc.

the pinefox, Monday, 30 July 2018 13:18 (two years ago) link

John Bayley (Letters, 10 January) wonders where I found a Russian tricolour of black, gold and white. The answer is: from the Imperial decree of 1858 which made it the correct flag of the Empire, in concord with the Romanov arms – and from the processions in Moscow today, in which rival banners express attachment to different aspects of the old order. There are those for whom it is more handsome a symbol of the past than the Batavian colours of which Bayley is fond.

Perry Anderson
Los Angeles

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v13/n04/letters#letter5

the pinefox, Monday, 30 July 2018 13:20 (two years ago) link

Mark S's favourite:

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v18/n04/letters#letter1

the pinefox, Monday, 30 July 2018 13:21 (two years ago) link

Like Proust he needs an editor

xyzzzz__, Monday, 30 July 2018 14:04 (two years ago) link

Seriously need to finish Lineages of the Absolutist State one of these days.
So long.
So dense.
Maybe tomorrow.

woof, Monday, 30 July 2018 14:17 (two years ago) link

I read the second half of PA's Powell epic today.

He spends most of the last pages describing AP as a very conservative or right-wing person. To what end? The only logical end really seems to be what has been a very standard PA manner for 30+ years: to play his own kind of Olympian contrarianism by writing with intimate sympathy about people on the political Right and showing no interest in criticizing their political views.

He also manages, in a predictable way, to insult people who are sceptical about Brexit. He doesn't live in the UK and doesn't face the various problems that Brexit has brought and will bring.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 1 August 2018 19:17 (two years ago) link

(The one thing he has in common with Morrissey, I suppose. Irish blood, Californian heart.)

the pinefox, Wednesday, 1 August 2018 19:18 (two years ago) link

Unusually, PA picked up in a Guardian literary comment piece. The one striking thing here is that she quotes something he wrote 34 years ago - if that wasn't 'Modernity & Revolution' then I may not have read it:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/06/proust-truly-long-read-stories

the pinefox, Monday, 6 August 2018 13:46 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

This is the post where I ask for help in parsing one of Perry Anderson's sentences (or in this case fragment of a sentence):
"Odette’s visit as a courtesan to Uncle Adolphe when the narrator is plainly older than when she figures for him as Swann’s wife"

(this is an example of one of proust's "lapses of control": who is older than what here?)

mark s, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:08 (two years ago) link

Yes, I puzzled over that also. It didn't help that I haven't read Proust for nearly 15 years.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:24 (two years ago) link

Odette - when Swann's wife - is a certain age

The narrator is now older than this

Now Odette visits Uncle Adolphe

...

is that what it is saying?

Again, much too far from Proust now to know - don't even remember an Uncle Adolphe.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:26 (two years ago) link

This could conceivably be a failure of prose or of copy-editing.

LRB editing has worsened in the last couple of years.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:27 (two years ago) link

yours is one possibilty (though it's not made clear why this causes a problem)
viz "Odette’s visit as a courtesan to Uncle Adolphe when the narrator is plainly older thanshe was when she figures for him as Swann’s wife"

another is this:
"Odette’s visit as a courtesan to Uncle Adolphe when the narrator is plainly older thanhe is when she figures for him as Swann’s wife"
(which is presumably impossible since the events come in the opposite order?)

i guess a reckless copy editor might have deleted some such phrase? (why? hardly to save space) -- it's a copy editor's failing in any case, since a good one (me or you) wd have flagged up and problem and insisted something be done about it. i agree abt the worsening in general

oddly enough an adolphe who's an uncle has already been mentioned: not a character in the book but proust's own maternal grandmother's uncle -- so i didn't blink at this till i went back just now confidently to inform you who the adolphe in the book was, and can't (the only extended proust i have read is the extracts in this essay)

mark s, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:43 (two years ago) link

in mine the bolded he is the narrator not the uncle lol, basically a copy editor shd have thrown the whole fragment back at PA and insist he restructure it more clearly and quick now, obnubilate indeed

mark s, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:45 (two years ago) link

I used to marvel at the absence of basic errors (spelling, grammar) in the LRB - say, 10 to 15 years ago.

They have come in since then, sometimes say 2 or 3 per issue. I suspect also that there were errors way back, say 35 years ago, and the period I am talking about was a high plateau of quality in between.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:49 (two years ago) link

I think it's that the narrator is older than he (the narrator) is when Odette figures for him as Swann's wife. The narrator, as a child, visits his uncle Adolphe and meets a lady in pink at his house. This lady in pink turns out to be Odette, who lived as a courtesan before she married Swann. But by the basic timeline of the story, Swann and Odette should already be married well before the narrator has reached the age of this episode. So it's unclear whether: (a) the narrator has met Odette Swann, who is implausibly reverting to her relationship with Adolphe, or (b) he's met the unmarried Odette de Crecy, and Proust has confused his timeline.

jmm, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:50 (two years ago) link

aha, thank you jmm :)

i guess that is more obvious to someone readily familiar with the text -- so that it unravels itself via information not actually available on the lrb's page -- but even so it is not terrific writing

mark s, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 18:06 (two years ago) link

Which is not something I would often say about Perry Anderson

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 18:18 (two years ago) link

rereading this essay i'm enjoying it a *lot* but i do think that writing abt fiction rather than reactionary thinkers or "politics from 30,000 feet" sometimes brings out something a bit discordantly antic in PA's prose -- actually not far from the kind of stuff that made me grind my teeth when christopher hitchens was being a bit too clever in his sentence-making (with similar pretext: i.e. when writing abt fiction rather than politics): "making an English equivalent of the Latin ablative absolute one of the trademarks of his style, with sovereign indifference to schoolroom objections to the pendant participle"

that final phrase is somehow just too cute (esp.after the clumsily repeated "to" before it): give a good example perry and stop showing off

mark s, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 18:27 (two years ago) link

or trying to show off

mark s, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 18:28 (two years ago) link

Yes.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 August 2018 18:30 (two years ago) link

There are, iirc, several instances in Proust with timeline issues. I think he died before all seven vols were published but there were probably issues around any editors dealing w/Proust in the first place. Yeah, lol.

Powell is a reactionary thinker writing fiction - making the last section the strongest. Biggest laugh was Anderson sorta going along with Powell's hatred of Auden/British lefties just because Lyndon Johnson quoted the last line of September 1, 1939 in a speech.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 10:12 (two years ago) link

That was poor. That poem is one of the greatest modern poems in English that I can think of. PA, for all his brilliance, wouldn't have it in him to write something like it. He's unwise to mock it for the way it has been appropriated. He doesn't even bother to mention (though it's relevant) the best-known fact about the poem - that Auden kept changing the words because he was anxious and uncertain about the meaning.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 10:20 (two years ago) link

Is the second part of the Anderson essay still only available to subscribers?

Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 10:22 (two years ago) link

Yes.
https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n15/perry-anderson/time-unfolded

I still don't really understand PA's attraction to reactionary thinkers, let alone the way that here he makes no criticism of Powell or doesn't seek to articulate a dialectical relation between ideas that PA supposedly disagrees with and fiction that he thinks perceptive.

I think it comes down to contrarianism, in line with Mark's observation about (C) Hitchens.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 10:24 (two years ago) link

admittedly i was reading it in bed late but i found part 2 quite hard going: at the start he is wrestling with the mysteries of differential popularity, which ends up being smug and dull -- popular culture is apparently wildly foreign territory to him and he's using adorno and debord as his baedecker, which lol (has he actually ever been to the cinema? he doesn't write as if he knows what films are actually like) (also is it true that there are no blockbusters than run on understatement?)

then he gets into the weeds of translateability (of idiom, of humour) -- which if course bears on global popularity -- but the survey is too sketchy to do the work he wants it to and too sketchy also for you to get into what interesting about it that isn't pretext-driven. d'you think he's actually read dream of the red chamber?

i didn't really follow the point he was making about bayley (who i anyway have zero interest in): that powell went over bayley's head? who cares?

the section on powell's knowledge of and interest in world lit -- as manifested in his essays and the quotations in the book -- is good, but a bit buried (i'd have liked more honestly, but i think perry is quite out of his wheelhouse here and couldn't risk more)

and then the actual real politics section: which becomes increasingly dispiriting, partly bcz powell's judgments are so cookiecutter tribal and his insights so meagre, and partly bcz it honestly isn't re-integrated back into any of the rest of the piece

xp

contrarianism plus staunch anti-liberalism

mark s, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 10:58 (two years ago) link

Yes, re: anti-liberalism.

I think he quotes Powell saying Labour is part of liberalism?

I suspect that he has, indeed, read the massive Chinese novel. Am sure he wouldn't bluff that. It's all the kind of thing that Moretti would have told him was important.

I think I agree with you, Mark, re: the final section, the banality of AP's views, and how non-integrated it is!

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:13 (two years ago) link

That (from Mark S) is a pretty good critical summary of Part II.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:13 (two years ago) link

d'you think this is a colossal extract from a longer soon-to-be-pubished book? the "reactionary thinkers" essays in the LRB ended up as a book

(tho they were more easily freestanding: i wonder if some of the sketchier sections will actually exist at some point at deeper length)

mark s, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:21 (two years ago) link

This is a good and intriguing thought.

re earlier book, do you mean:
https://www.versobooks.com/books/574-a-zone-of-engagement

?

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:22 (two years ago) link

I don't agree with Anderson at all btw (and from a google of it I saw that Auden was ambivalent about the ending, but it stuck so..), just noting the bizarre contortion at that moment.

Xps

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:23 (two years ago) link

I think I should get a load of the older PA books. I know some of the material but tons I have still not read. Like that book and also:

https://www.versobooks.com/books/228-spectrum
https://www.versobooks.com/books/575-english-questions

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:25 (two years ago) link

PA is pretty good on Global South lit so I reckon he's read Dream of Red Chamber. There is an essay of his in the LRB discussing historical fic that pulls in a wide range of novels (Cities of Salt, Buru Quartet)

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:27 (two years ago) link

spectrum begins with a long chapter on reactionary thinkers -- hayek and oakeshott and etc -- which began life as essays in the LRB (i guess they wd have felt odd in the NLR)

mark s, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:30 (two years ago) link

His essays on India (which unusually I am not sure I read!!) became a book.

And so did US FOREIGN POLICY AND ITS THINKERS after ALREADY occupying an ENTIRE issue of NEW LEFT REVIEW a few months previously.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:31 (two years ago) link

we shd post him a print-out of this thread so he can rewrite where necessary (e.g. concerning uncle adolphe and also omitting any discussion of john bayley's opinions on anything)

mark s, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:43 (two years ago) link

I read all his essays on EU states (incl his essay on Cyprus!) back in the day, and I think that became a book too.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:49 (two years ago) link

Yes that became a big book.

I didn't read the Cyprus material because it was so vast and I couldn't find any personal interest in Cyprus. There are these rare cases where I can't get excited about PA's work.

The Germany essay in the book appeared in the NLR under the heading 'Land of Ideas?'.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 11:57 (two years ago) link

I'd second the recommendations for The New Old World (that big book w/ the EU essays and Cyprus) and Spectrum. I didn't have much personal interest in Cyprus before but found it a v gripping and fascinating read. Perhaps because I knew least about Cyprus and Turkey, those two chapters were the best parts of the book, though his essays on France and Italy are among his best (imo).

I interned at Verso five years ago and asked about what his next colossal one would be - I was told it was likely going to be a collection of the essays on Russia, Brazil, China and a longer theoretical intro/conclusion synthesizing views on the BRICs, although who knows, I could easily see him having switched gears and put out an 600 page book on the 20th century novel.

I haven't gotten to the second part of the essay yet (picked up the print copy of the LRB yesterday) so will withhold judgment on it as a whole for now. Had been a pretty big PA stan before (while not always agreeing with particular points) so am always pleased to find others (and to notice this thread!).

Federico Boswarlos, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 14:13 (two years ago) link

Federico, that is most interesting. Are you a long-time ILB poster? We have a FAP tomorrow.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 19:06 (two years ago) link

xp Anderson has written at length about those three countries in the LRB, IIRC

Neil S, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 19:08 (two years ago) link

"at length" sort of goes without saying with PAnderson of course

Neil S, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 19:08 (two years ago) link

i was disappointed by Spectrum, felt i was lacking background on some of the thinkers (esp on the right) that was assumed

flopson, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 20:37 (two years ago) link

Been on a long holiday, read through the last nine of A Dance to the Music of Time for the first time.
I liked it well enough, but Anderson seems to overestimate it/Powell massively in the two articles. Keeps taking midweight literary basics as some kind of mastery - allusion is catnip to him.
Still on holiday, but will try to get round to saying more about Powell and/or this chunk of Anderson when I get back.

woof, Wednesday, 22 August 2018 21:35 (two years ago) link

Hey pinefox, I'm a (fairly?) long-time lurker and (very) occasional poster. I'm trying to get in the habit of posting more regularly, though my schedule's been a bit crazy the last while. Unfortunately, I'm not in London, otherwise I'd happily join.

I read elsewhere (on another thread?) that the overestimation is part of PA's "bid" to elevate Powell to a more respectable, if not canonical, status, and using (abusing?) Proust in the process. It seems somewhat plausible, whether it's something he deliberately set out to do or not. Still haven't read pt 2 yet, but look forward to getting to it tmw or this weekend.

Federico Boswarlos, Thursday, 23 August 2018 02:12 (two years ago) link

That seems about right - the Tariq Ali article on Powell makes it clear that PA has been reading and rereading and laughing aloud at Dance for an age, so I suspect the article is the eruption of a forty year internal monologue where he’s arguing with himself that this is better than Proust. Writes it as a late-life treat.

(I think mark s suggests something like canonising AP for a bet in one of the other threads which I also like)

He’s an unpersuasive critic though imo.

woof, Thursday, 23 August 2018 07:23 (two years ago) link

I don't remember Ali on Powell - I don't like Ali but I like it when he drops in anecdotes about PA.

the pinefox, Thursday, 23 August 2018 09:07 (two years ago) link

After the first part I'm mostly 'man, fuck a dutch tory'

ukania west (Bananaman Begins), Thursday, 21 January 2021 09:57 (two months ago) link

As Perry Anderson's greatest admirer on ILX (with the caveat that Mark S was into amphibologies before I was) -- I found Part III of this overall remarkably poor.

The first half is a standard account of UK political history since the 1960s which you could assemble from Wikipedia or even from most UK adults' general knowledge -- but, as I noted, strangely specked with errors, casually misleading and false claims, which go with the 'breezy journalism' genre. Still, he does add *some* new analysis to this story, though its accuracy too remains questionable.

Then he gets on to Mount, Oborne, Wheatcroft - which feels much too easily self-selecting, PA as so often just going back to the same people he's been reading for years (especially Mount). It's at least interesting to see how much Mount has changed his tunes. But PA says these are all less impressive than Noel Malcolm and Richard Tuck, Hobbes scholars. Hm ... So what do they have to say?

Mainly that the EU is undemocratic and unaccountable - which is PA's general case, which could have been made in a page, not 30,000 words. But as for Tuck: first PA repeats a standard Lexit claim ('the EU wouldn't let you nationalise industry', etc) which is interesting but has never been empirically tested in a large member nation (a point PA totally omits), surely *because those nations are neoliberal in their national politics anyway* ... That's all OK up to a point, but PA also TWICE cites the fact that Tuck argues that *Brexit makes the break-up of the UK less likely*.

Well, this could be true; it could be too early to say; but it flies in the face of everything that any political analyst has said for the last 6 years, and PA does *nothing* to explain why they're wrong and Tuck's right about it. And yet Tuck is one of his great sages!

And finally we get a last couple of pages just repeating the general charges of undemocratic structure and personal corruption, and along the way saying that the EU is politically worse than the UK.

Some of this article is true, some of it is insightful, but the balance of new insight to retreads is unusually unfavourable here by PA's standards. It's even noticeable that his prose is less sparkling than usual.

Part II was informative but unexciting. Part I, which Fizzles greatly admired, I still haven't properly read. But overall the balance of value here seems to be towards a let-down.

the pinefox, Thursday, 21 January 2021 10:13 (two months ago) link

In part 1, there was a startlingly... tendentious (ie bad and wrong) paragraph about the founding of the United States.

ukania west (Bananaman Begins), Thursday, 21 January 2021 10:32 (two months ago) link

"But as for Tuck: first PA repeats a standard Lexit claim ('the EU wouldn't let you nationalise industry', etc) which is interesting but has never been empirically tested in a large member nation (a point PA totally omits)"

No large EU state is testing this claim precisely because it is against the rules they are bound to observe by being in the EU.

Good point on Tuck, it did seem one of two points -- the other on Momentum and languages -- that were obscure and needed more, though I think in the latter there was a larger point on Labour's infighting on the issue that would've detracted from the piece.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 21 January 2021 12:28 (two months ago) link

very busy at the moment and still only halfway thru the second essay

two things i wanted to note in passing before i forget:
i: "They are set not in stone, but in granite" wtf u think granite is anderson
ii: "documents of such ‘epic length’ that the Ireland’s EU commissioner declared of the last that ‘no sane and sensible person’ could read it" where am i going with this

mark s, Thursday, 4 February 2021 09:56 (two months ago) link

Perry Anderson is no Mason

Sven Vath's scary carpet (Neil S), Thursday, 4 February 2021 09:59 (two months ago) link

wtf u think granite is anderson

incredible. reminds me of some otherwise completely forgotten tv doc years ago where the presenter knelt down by a railway in france and said something about 'this rail of non ferrous metal', i thought 'whaddya think sncf stands for ya mook'.

ledge, Thursday, 4 February 2021 10:06 (two months ago) link

copy-editors sleepwalking as ever in the great man's contributions: i mean if it were me i would be DELIGHTED to catch him out, less obnubilation more reading back what you just wrote SIR

mark s, Thursday, 4 February 2021 10:23 (two months ago) link

Those are excellent amusing comments by Mark S.

the pinefox, Thursday, 4 February 2021 10:23 (two months ago) link

Latest LRB features, not 3pp of letters followed by a long response from PA, but ... one letter, from someone who was involved in European defence policy 20 years ago.

the pinefox, Thursday, 4 February 2021 10:24 (two months ago) link

"But as for Tuck: first PA repeats a standard Lexit claim ('the EU wouldn't let you nationalise industry', etc) which is interesting but has never been empirically tested in a large member nation (a point PA totally omits)"

Actually this was also wrong? PA went through the episode where Italy tried to nationalise a utility in the early 60s, which was blocked by the ECJ.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 4 February 2021 11:29 (two months ago) link

I've still not read the second one, but 'not set in stone, in granite' strikes me as a forgivable rhetorical messing around with a maxim. Bit clumsy like but not it's not a mistake as such.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 4 February 2021 12:25 (two months ago) link

some non-clumsy messing around: "if x is set in stone, that stone is granite"

also (since i'm apparently in maximum subbing-nerd pedant-mode today): "the effect of 'constitutionalising' (the apostrophes are needed, because… )" -- perry ffs they're not "apostrophes ", they're quotatation marks

mark s, Thursday, 4 February 2021 14:12 (two months ago) link

thats right "quotatation marks"

mark s, Thursday, 4 February 2021 14:12 (two months ago) link

Indicating quotatating

Scampi reggae party (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 4 February 2021 14:17 (two months ago) link

I did find 'apostrophes' odd there.

The LRB's editor should quit after allowing these errors through.

Oh.

the pinefox, Thursday, 4 February 2021 16:11 (two months ago) link

when i read it i legit sat there for a minute trying to remember the phrase "inverted commas" and then thinking did i invent that? has it just been apostrophes this whole time? no it hasn't.

difficult listening hour, Thursday, 4 February 2021 16:17 (two months ago) link

A parody of Perry Anderson from 1966:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/sedgwick/1966/xx/pseudlr.htm

the pinefox, Thursday, 4 February 2021 19:08 (two months ago) link

still padding* thru the second installment and lolled at this: "Foucault’s overblown identification of knowledge with power here finds literal embodimen"

translation: "i sourly grant on OTM to a figure it's very important you grasp I deprecate" <-- dude this^^^ is bad rockwriting, terminology and also trope

*my work at the moment is a large book-length edit at deadline so i can only really read and think abt other stuff in the brief breaks i am barely taking (= i had no weekend to speak of) -- if only the great man knew of our dedication to his flawed genius eh

mark s, Monday, 8 February 2021 10:32 (two months ago) link

Kevin and Perry Go Large but it's Perry Anderson and idk some famous Kevin I haven't done the work here tbrr

ukania west (Bananaman Begins), Monday, 8 February 2021 10:39 (two months ago) link

Things I was shockingly old when I learner: Perry is a shortening of Peregrine

Zelda Zonk, Monday, 8 February 2021 11:11 (two months ago) link

s/b PIPPIN imo

mark s, Monday, 8 February 2021 11:14 (two months ago) link

According to his wiki page, he started out as a rock critic, writing under the pseudonym Richard Merton. I wonder if any of his rock writings have ever surfaced

Zelda Zonk, Monday, 8 February 2021 11:18 (two months ago) link

they're in the LRB archive* and they're NOT THAT GREAT!

one of my (way too many) highly delayed projects from last year is writing them up as an overlap of incompatible worlds!

*(tbf there may be more elsewhere also: e.g in alex cockburn's underground weekly 7 Days which isn't currently arechived on-line (or wasn't when i last looked) (pre-pandemic)

mark s, Monday, 8 February 2021 11:28 (two months ago) link

I will check out the LRB archive!

Zelda Zonk, Monday, 8 February 2021 11:35 (two months ago) link

you have to pay per article :(

(which fair enough i guess -- they have a business model and writers shd be paid for their craft)

mark s, Monday, 8 February 2021 11:44 (two months ago) link

BUT

mark s, Monday, 8 February 2021 11:44 (two months ago) link

Surely not the LRB archive?

The NLR archive?

I'm unsure if it was Mark S who gave me PA on the Stones, or vice versa - I think the latter - in any case we discussed it quite a bit at some point. Possibly not on ILX. Possibly even in an actual pub.

PA's argument on the Stones is actually relatively good and distinct (ie: good because it is an argument at all, not just waffle). It's something like: the Stones are more interesting than others from a progressive POV, because they proceed by taking reactionary things (like sexism) to an extreme.

This argument is structurally very similar to Adam Mars-Jones' VENUS ENVY (c.1990?) in its praise of Alasdair Gray in contrast to Amis & McEwan.

I tend to agree with Mark S re PA on Foucault - that line didn't work very well. For PA's overall take on MF one might want to go back to the very entertaining IN THE TRACKS OF HISTORICAL MATERIALISM (1983?).

the pinefox, Monday, 8 February 2021 11:45 (two months ago) link

oops yes apologies zelda, i meant the NLR achive not the LRB archive

i shouldn't actually be posting at all this morning i am RGHT UP AGAINST IT deadline-wise

[posts some more]

mark s, Monday, 8 February 2021 11:59 (two months ago) link

Coming back from a long ILX hibernation and have to post in reply to the parody article upthread, I genuinely LOL'd - thanks for sharing that! It looks like there are some old blog posts about him floating online as Richard Merton w/ excerpts (https://chaosofmemories.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/perry-anderson-meets-the-rolling-stones)

A t/s question on British Marxist historians writing music criticism under a pseudonym: Richard Merton (Perry) vs Francis Newton (Eric Hobsbawm)?

I still have to read the new LRB essays when I have the time...

Federico Boswarlos, Monday, 8 February 2021 18:53 (two months ago) link

PA on music would always interest me much more than EJH - simply because EJH, like Philip Larkin I suppose, only wrote about jazz. The very idea of PA on the Stones is, by contrast, utterly compelling to me.

That's a good blog post.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 9 February 2021 08:54 (two months ago) link

hobbo took a pseud bcz the CPGB line on jazz at the time he started was that jazz was footling and degraded bourgeois trash (the proletariat shd be levelling up to and inheriting the classical greats, not shifting dodgily sideways towards modernism or anything american and commerical) -- and then kept it after this line softened bcz that was the name his critical work was attached to and the reveal would never not be awkward

PA i think bcz the NLR's foray into rock writing was very much a kind of intellectual speculation when a curious artistic opening seemed to flash up in a moment of political turmoil: he was (correectly) very uncertain of how the times (and the arts of the times) would work out, PLUS he didn't want to risk his recently acquired high-octane intellectual shtick and is nothing if not a massive cowardly pussy in this regard

mark s, Tuesday, 9 February 2021 12:02 (two months ago) link

in conclusion: i disapprove

also what a boring pseud ffs

mark s, Tuesday, 9 February 2021 12:03 (two months ago) link

he shd have called himself PIPPIN SHAGRAT

mark s, Tuesday, 9 February 2021 12:03 (two months ago) link

anyway reading that blogpost has reminded why it is so very U&K that i complete my patreon post on the same material but also that i have a ton of actual real work i'm actually being paid for that i need to get on with right now >:(

perry shd totally subsidise me for my attention to his oeuvre, out of his pots and pots of inherited landed-gentry money, the only way for the intellectual thread to extend to a new generation imo

mark s, Tuesday, 9 February 2021 12:13 (two months ago) link

While we're talking NLR pseudonyms, we can recall that Peter Wollen called himself Lucien Rey and Lee Russell. One reason in his case was that he had deserted the Army and was afraid of being recaptured and court-martialled.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 9 February 2021 12:41 (two months ago) link

three weeks pass...

One of my arguments about PA on the EU was that he overstated the extent to which the neo-liberal EU would automatically forbid any kind of social democracy. My sense is that it is more contingent than that, and more a matter of Realpolitik, rather than rigid rules.

Thus, an extreme instance: if Germany were to 'go socialist', could the EU stop it? Effectively unthinkable, as Germany is an EU hegemon. But of course the whole issue is more complex anyway.

I raise this because a letter to the LRB has made these points:

Perry Anderson claims that ‘Bernie Sanders’s three basic demands – reject or modify Nafta and the TPP; raise taxes on Wall Street; free university tuition – would be out of reach’ if the US were subject to EU rules. The EU member states and the EU Parliament rejected TTIP. The Commission has no direct influence on corporation tax but has objected to the tax breaks sanctioned by several member states, including Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It is true that the Stability and Growth pact attempts to exert fiscal discipline, but this is routinely flouted, especially at present during the Covid crisis. Taxation remains an area of state competence, beyond the reach of the Commission. As for tuition fees, many EU member states charge virtually nothing for university tuition and whether they do or not has nothing to do with the EU.

Simon Sweeney
York

I think 'routinely flouted' is the most useful reminder here. One thing that we often learn about the EU (from PA as well as others) is that it makes up, bends and breaks rules as it goes along.

The point about tuition fees (again, look at Germany) is rather a zinger - but perhaps PA has a comeback to this that I have not yet read.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 3 March 2021 19:20 (one month ago) link

yes the tuition fees thing is so obviously wrong with many eu member states currently having, or having previously had free tuition fees (scotland for example, which, perry cuomo being someone who is somewhat knowledgable on the uk and, you know, from there, should know) and bernie sanders tuition thing being limited to public colleges,HBCUs and trade schools.

himpathy with the devil (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 20:00 (one month ago) link

three weeks pass...

I recently finished PA's 'The European Coup', so admired by Fizzles.

Superb levels of knowledge and detail - often into absurdly arcane things like sub-post-Machiavellian thinkers. Yet there is also a certain absurdity in PA writing at such length about this one writer, Luuk can Middelaar (I'd quite forgotten his first name till now), at such length. He seems to be mainly an ideologue, a self-justifying hack, though quite well-versed in the history of political thought.

I suppose you have to say that this is a conceit, a way of writing about the EU. But PA writes about the EU anyway, in parts 2 & 3!

Or is van Middelaar, whom many of us had probably never heard of, actually a bigger deal - not just in the halls of the EU itself but among, say, British pro-European types? Is he actually admired by the same people who like to retweet pictures of Donald Tusk saying he regrets Britain's departure? Had half the people on the anti-Brexit marches heard of him? Has he influenced their thought even if they haven't?

Many of us have had some degree of investment in the EU and a wish for the UK to stay in it. But it is hard for that view to endure PA's critique. He is one of the few people I have ever read who can make Brexit seem quite a logical and principled idea (though still, I think, a bad policy in real-world practice). I recall JC's grant of a score of 7/10 to the EU. People have scorned that for years. But wasn't JC, as usual, correct? PA, though, would surely not give the EU higher than 2/10.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 19:15 (three weeks ago) link

i need to write up my commentary on this 3-part piece but not right now as i am extremely tired after being extremely busy for weeks on end

mark s, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 19:16 (three weeks ago) link

This thread must now be one of the best multi-authored discussions on PA ever to exist. It's longer than you might think.

we shd post him a print-out of this thread so he can rewrite where necessary (e.g. concerning uncle adolphe and also omitting any discussion of john bayley's opinions on anything)

― mark s, Wednesday, August 22, 2018

the pinefox, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 20:24 (three weeks ago) link

one day important ppl will be collecting my ilx comments into benjamin-style convolutes and writing as to how we wont see his (my) like again

mark s, Thursday, 25 March 2021 17:45 (three weeks ago) link

Remarkably, I don't think that Mark S, or anyone, has yet commented on PA's epistolary exchange with Luuk von Middelaar himself, which becomes like a tribute act to the vintage exchange with T G Ash.

It's extraordinary stuff overall, with LVM writing a letter 2/3 of a page long in which he accuses PA of ad hominem biographical attacks, and drags in facts about PA's family history.

PA then responds to all his critics - too briskly and briefly to be satisfactory, in truth - and *in each case* inserts biographical facts about their careers as though these undermine what they've said! Rather playing into the image of him that LVM has just constructed.

Then PA responds to LVM, making too light of his own factual errors. He responds to LVM's excusing of his youthful Neo-Con writings (they were only in 2001! When we were writing on ILX! But LVM treats them as impossibly distant and thus forgivable), asking if LVM showed any sign of opposition to the Iraq War. This is odd because in early 2003 PA wrote an LRB article scorning protesters against the Iraq War. (I probably complained about it on ILX at the time!)

Finally PA winds up talking about 'tease for tease' between them and hopes to meet LVM over a glass of wine. Amphibologies revisited!

the pinefox, Friday, 26 March 2021 11:08 (two weeks ago) link

the tone of the exchange of letters annoyed me a lot actually, on both sides -- substantive content aside i really really disliked that mode of SCR clubbability, though i'm not sure if it's merely a rhetorical device (i think to be fair to LVM it was) or an actual reflection, of these great well-heeled comfortable thinkers laughing as they quaff port before a roaring fire, on a plane far above the rest of us

which is worse, rhetorical or actual? can't decide

mark s, Friday, 26 March 2021 11:21 (two weeks ago) link

Like to imagine that one day soon may we all quaff port before a roaring fire - ideally in a boozer in Borough - far above the plane of ILx.

Piedie Gimbel, Friday, 26 March 2021 11:25 (two weeks ago) link

This desirable plan would be more plausible if the Royal Oak had not had its deleterious makeover. Maybe another boozer can be found.

Mark: I can't disagree, but isn't this exactly the same thing as the long-ago TGA exchange that you were the only person to know about (and tell us about), and which you didn't seem to mind?

On reflection: isn't the clubbability a compensation for the bitterness of the exchange, with all its ad hominem insinuations?

I actually think that PA's greatest weakness here is NOT engaging on substantive content. LVM insinuates that PA is a timid Brexiter. Rather than coming out and admitting to a Lexit position, or whatever (which is what all his articles imply), PA just plays with words a bit and raises a glass. But the absence of substantive engagement goes beyond that accusation. PA's responses to the other critics are desultory, when most of them appeared to have raised substantive points.

the pinefox, Friday, 26 March 2021 11:55 (two weeks ago) link

a missive in the latest issue pointed out that LVM proposed dinner, with PA rejoindering with an offer of a glass of wine. WHICH IS IT????

Sven Vath's scary carpet (Neil S), Friday, 26 March 2021 13:12 (two weeks ago) link

This is clearly something to look forward to, once I have read the remaining ... 17 articles in my current issue.

the pinefox, Friday, 26 March 2021 13:50 (two weeks ago) link


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