Update, Horny University-Affiliated Koreans Abroad.

So many, they had to load two cases into one article:

[Korean Education Center in New Zealand] Director Bae Dong-in, a ministry official, has been accused of saying, “Women with large breasts are dumb” in front of the staff, and of frequently using abusive language toward them. A KECNZ staffer said Bae also “sexually humiliated” female staffers with unwanted comments about the size of men’s penises…

… [The last] director of the KECNZ was forced to return to Korea over accusations of misappropriating school funds.

… Separately, a Handong Global University professor was arrested for allegedly groping a sleeping woman on an airplane, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

Lee Eun-jong, 47, who is also a Cornell University visiting scholar, was nabbed by FBI agents after the plane from Tokyo landed at Newark Liberty International Airport on Sunday night.

You can sort of see the KECNZ staff wondering what’s going to be behind Door Number Three.

Be a literary critic!

Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia suggests in his book “Strangers to Ourselves” that we shouldn’t see ourselves as archaeologists, minutely studying each feeling and trying to dig deep into the unconscious. We should see ourselves as literary critics, putting each incident in the perspective of a longer life story. The narrative form is a more supple way of understanding human processes, even unconscious ones, than rationalistic analysis.

“… [U]niversity workers had removed plants from outside the president’s home that contained decorative lighting that belonged to the Flanagans.”

We’ve all been there.

Never heard it called that before.

Benjamin Chisolm is a University of Maryland lacrosse player who is now being called a suspect in a case of aggravated sexual battery – and it is stunning news for the College Park campus.

Prince William County Police say that on Sunday night at the Jiffy Lube Live concert venue, a 49-year-old fell asleep on her lawn and woke up to find a man lying beside her and touching her inappropriate.

Rick Perry …

… was a cheertator at Texas A&M.

Although Perry gave into his desire to adopt this strikingly non-mainstream personal choice, he’s not very generous when it comes to the inclinations of others:

“I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that,” Perry said in remarks broadcast on the local CBS affiliate. “And I look at the homosexual issue in the same way.”

Jane Eyre was published in 1847.

That’s how far back you have to go to get a grip on Tuam, Ireland, in the mid-twentieth century.

During January, February, and part of March, the deep snows, and, after their melting, the almost impassable roads, prevented our stirring beyond the garden walls, except to go to church; but within these limits we had to pass an hour every day in the open air. Our clothing was insufficient to protect us from the severe cold: we had no boots, the snow got into our shoes and melted there: our ungloved hands became numbed and covered with chilblains, as were our feet: I remember well the distracting irritation I endured from this cause every evening, when my feet inflamed; and the torture of thrusting the swelled, raw, and stiff toes into my shoes in the morning. Then the scanty supply of food was distressing: with the keen appetites of growing children, we had scarcely sufficient to keep alive a delicate invalid. From this deficiency of nourishment resulted an abuse, which pressed hardly on the younger pupils: whenever the famished great girls had an opportunity, they would coax or menace the little ones out of their portion. Many a time I have shared between two claimants the precious morsel of brown bread distributed at tea-time; and after relinquishing to a third half the contents of my mug of coffee, I have swallowed the remainder with an accompaniment of secret tears, forced from me by the exigency of hunger.


“Madam, allow me an instant. You are aware that my plan in bringing up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and indulgence, but to render them hardy, patient, self-denying. Should any little accidental disappointment of the appetite occur, such as the spoiling of a meal, the under or the over dressing of a dish, the incident ought not to be neutralised by replacing with something more delicate the comfort lost, thus pampering the body and obviating the aim of this institution; it ought to be improved to the spiritual edification of the pupils, by encouraging them to evince fortitude under temporary privation. A brief address on those occasions would not be mistimed, wherein a judicious instructor would take the opportunity of referring to the sufferings of the primitive Christians; to the torments of martyrs; to the exhortations of our blessed Lord Himself, calling upon His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him; to His warnings that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God; to His divine consolations, “If ye suffer hunger or thirst for My sake, happy are ye.” Oh, madam, when you put bread and cheese, instead of burnt porridge, into these children’s mouths, you may indeed feed their vile bodies, but you little think how you starve their immortal souls!”

“[I]t was as natural as breathing to seek adventure by enlisting in 1914…”

He cherished, like all his family, ties of affection and family mythology to his lowland Scottish heritage. The Scottish virtue of unswerving loyalty meant unreflecting acceptance of Great Britain as the font of all that mattered in the world besides the bush Australian ethos of strength and endurance.

What began as an adventure ended in horror too profound for speech. The farewells, the adoring young ladies, the troopship, England, and the training on Salisbury Plain, were in line with all the British empire tales heard in childhood. The daily slaughter of the trenches never ceased to be a part of his nightmares. A childhood spent hunting kangaroos made him an excellent shot and earned him the post of sharpshooter, the man sent ahead alone to pick off the enemy. About this he could not speak, except to describe the common experience of the trenches, a kind of fellow feeling for the opponent. His worst memories were the screams of wounded horses, and the sight of men being driven back to the trenches at rifle point.

For Memorial Day, Jill Ker Conway’s description of her father in The Road from Corain.

Karma’s a bitch.

Jill Abramson has elected not to attend commencement ceremonies at Brandeis University, where she would’ve received an honorary degree this weekend…

… Brandeis previously canceled plans to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights activist who frequently criticized Islam.

Dear me. Between various cancellations and regrets, Brandeis seems headed for an all-male commencement.


Mediapart said [Aquilino Morelle] used the presidency’s chauffeurs to drive his son around; that a shoe-shine man was ordered to come to his office to take care of his 30 pairs of luxury shoes; that he dipped into the Elysee’s fine-wines cellar and that he spent most Fridays at a luxury Paris hammam. Mediapart also mentioned his rude attitude toward some Elysee staff.

Annals of Higher Ed

“I think greed is healthy,” [their speaker] told the graduating class at Berkeley’s business school in 1986. “You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.” The speaker was Ivan Boesky, who shortly thereafter would be fined $100 million, and later go to prison, for insider trading.

Paul de Man: True Detective

[He] duly provides a résumé listing an imaginary master’s thesis (“The Bergsonian Conception of Time in the Contemporary Novel”) and an “interrupted” doctoral dissertation (“Introduction to a Phenomenology of Aesthetic Consciousness”). On a separate form, he describes his service [he was in fact a fascist collaborator] in a resistance group during the war…. When his transcript arrives, from the Free University of Brussels, he doctors it to appear that he got his degree…

University Diaries is always interested, as you know, in academic frauds – diploma mill grads, credentials-conjurers, etc. – and no one fits the bill better than Paul de Man. (UD was his student at the University of Chicago, and writes about it here.)

But Youth Wants to Know - What the hell? Why was he an academic God?

I don’t think it was his essays on literature, although the essays very cleverly reveal the way poetic assertions and poetic structures always seem uncontrollably to contain their own idea- and coherence-dissolving refutations. The essays very cleverly reveal the way this inescapable linguistic dissolution-operation applies just as much to the critic who thinks she’s interpreting literature as it does to the writer who thinks she’s creating literature. We think we’re using language to create meaningful fictive worlds and meaningful interpretations of those worlds, but we are being used by language. We are always trapped inside interminable sign-play, and all we can do is fashion more or less self-aware and intricate verbal fabulations, little mythic narratives about what’s going on in literature, the world, and our minds — narratives that reassure us that the world exists, we exist, beauty exists, meaning exists, moral conflict exists, consciousness exists. But we must be self-aware about all of this futility; we must never, as Peter Brooks puts it in describing de Man’s approach, take “the seductions of rhetoric as something in which to believe.” We must, indeed, de Man’s work and life seem to suggest, believe in nothing.

These essays were part of de Man’s immense charismatic appeal, in that they were the written address, if you will, of de Man’s broader, all-out assault on human consciousness. You could look it up there. You could go to the essays and delectate what Harold Bloom called de Man’s “serene linguistic nihilism.”

But de Man’s real appeal, I think (and I’m thinking about it because a new book full of evidence of de Man’s moral degeneracy has just come out and is being widely discussed) lies in his having embodied, for his time, first-rate absolute unswerving nihilism. Not just linguistic nihilism. Everything nihilism. Like America’s current wildly popular nihilist, the tv show True Detective‘s Rust Cohle, Paul de Man seems to have believed that, as Cohle puts it, “human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution.”

Let’s be clearer about “consciousness.” We assume that we have a quality of self-reflective cerebral aliveness which can be trained to understand the world in clarifying and useful ways. We acknowledge that along with being clarifying and useful, consciousness can be a source of obfuscation and evil and false consolation and many other bad things. Yet few among us assume that because human consciousness can be monstrous as well as illuminating and transformative we must dedicate our lives to loathing it as tragic, and to revealing again and again its absurd insidious pointlessness.

And yet – all reflective people rightly take an interest in nihilism because all reflective people know what it feels like to have – at one point or another in your life – all of the supporting structures in your life collapse. We are drawn to – even seduced by – people we rightly identify as true nihilists or nihilistic in appearance (Amy Winehouse, Chet Baker) because we have room in our consciousness for the possibility that their brutal flattening of value and meaning might be right. A philosopher discusses Rust Cohle’s

meditation on the eyes of murder victims. The idea that they would have welcomed it, that they were being released, [chimes] well with many pessimists. [Rust's take on the murdered is] a visualization of what the pessimist ultimately holds — that death is to be welcomed…

Adam Phillips, a psychoanalyst, channels everyone’s nihilistic capacity when he says

These are parts of ourselves – that don’t want to live, that hate our children, that want ourselves to fail. Freud is saying there is something strange about humans: they are recalcitrant to what is supposed to be their project.

Cohle and de Man represent and represented true detectives of our collective latent nihilism; they’re on the case in our rats’ alleys where the dead men lost their bones, and they are taking notes.

In the latest New Yorker, Louis Menand quotes one of de Man’s colleagues calling him “a connoisseur of nothingness.” In an article written in 1989, when the dimensions of the de Man mess were just emerging, Frank Kermode describes critics influenced by de Man as “connoisseurs of the symmetry between the impossible and the necessary.” (Impossible to use language to posit meaning in a meaningless world; necessary to keep using and positing anyway.) UD would suggest that connoisseurship is the right way to enter into an explanation of de Man’s intellectual appeal. A good wine; a good nihilism. One wants to delectate this endgame. One should want to delectate this endgame, because it is a very serious and real thing. You can do it via Paul de Man quite adequately, and throughout his American adventures people excitedly intuited this about him.

Again, Heroin. And the Artist.

Just thinking out loud here about the theory that certain actors have no self – which makes them brilliant at playing other people, but leaves them dangerously empty at the end, as it were, of the day. These people – parasitically, I guess – use their successive roles to assume, to inhabit, an identity, but eventually their sense of emptiness draws them toward heroin as another (more reliable) filler…

See, first, druggy Peter Sellers:

[Jonathan] Miller — who had been a member of the “Beyond the Fringe” team, another 60s quartet influenced by Sellers and the Goons — called the actor “a receptacle rather than a person. And whatever parts he played completely filled the receptacle, and then they were drained out. And the receptacle was left empty and featureless. Like a lot of people who can … change their characters, he could do so because he hadn’t any character himself.” (Kubrick famously said, “There is no such person as Peter Sellers.”) [Peter] Hall adds this cogent caveat: “It’s not enough in this business to have talent. You have to have the talent to handle the talent, and that, I think, Peter did not have.”


Then see these thoughts on Philip Seymour Hoffman in the New Yorker:

[Sometimes] the price of remarkable creative vitality is a wasting away of mortality. Or, to put it another way: without the need to flee from pain by transfiguring it, you would not have the energy to endure the suffering, the solitude, and the uncertainty that are part and parcel of artistic expression.

This comes dangerously close, I know, to the banal romantic notion that all genuine artists must suffer, which is accurate only in the sense that people are by definition gregarious and that making art, even if you are an actor plunging, in public, down into your depths, is solitary, even asocial, in its untrammelled freedom. Still, the link between suffering and creativity seems less romantic than pragmatic. There is something to Aristophanes’ satiric parable in which humans were once whole and were then split down the middle, and thus spent their lives seeking their other half. We would not love or desire if we had everything we needed. Some artists, like Hoffman, would not escape into their creations if art did not mend what life had painfully shattered.

It’s a different model, I realize. Sellers, we hear from his friends (and he said it himself) had no self at all; Hoffman, by this account, had half of one.


UPDATE: Russell Brand:

In spite of his life seeming superficially great, in spite of all the praise and accolades, in spite of all the loving friends and family, there is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void.

More on Heroin…

… as long as we’re all thinking about it in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. This is from a review of a biography about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker:

In this book, heroin, as it takes over one musician after another, one scene, one city, one country (Gavin quotes the pianist René Urtreger estimating “that by the midfifties, 95 percent of the modern jazz players in France — himself included — were hooked”), is more than a plague, more than an endless horror movie, the reels running over and over, out of order, back to front (“It was like the Night of the Living Dead,” one fan tells Gavin of a Baker show in Paris in 1955. “Dark suits, gray faced, stoned out of their minds. Everything seemed strange to me, unhealthy. They were playing the music of the dead”). By the end — “Baker filled the syringe, then held it up. ‘Bob, you could kill a bunch of cows with this,’ he said. He plunged the needle into his scrotum.” – ”The man was a walking corpse,” the Rotterdam jazz hanger-on Bob Holland told Gavin. “He was living only for the stuff. Music was the last resort to get it” — it’s as if heroin itself has agency, and seeks out bodies to inhabit, colonize, and use up, not a substance but a parasitic form of life whose mission is to destroy its host, knowing that it can always leap to another. But the essential humanity of the host — his or her actual reality as someone who planted a foot on the planet before he or she left it, to be forgotten along with almost everyone else — is, in these pages, never reduced, whether it is that of Baker, or any of the musicians, friends, wives, or lovers trailing in his wake, those he knew and those he didn’t (from one dealer’s client list: “Bobby Darin, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Anita O’Day, Lenny Bruce, and the rock star Dion”), by 1981 “a growing trail of corpses.”

“Perkinsnacht,” the Wall Street Journal Calls It.

I plan to title my editorial response to the WSJ’s editorial Journalnacht.

If they come back at me hard and I have to escalate things, I’ll title the next round Wallstreetjournalpurgisnacht.

I am hoping a Mexican publication weighs in, so I can title my response Nachosnacht.

I am also hoping a fellow Rilkean weighs in, so I can title my response Gedichteandienacht.

Eventually, when all of this calms down and I write a mature summation, I will title it Stillenacht.

It’s not that this column “defend[s] Tom Perkins or his views…”

It’s that this column, which wants us to regard Perkins as a pathetic irrelevant old man who says stupid things, rather than as an important national voice saying something worth noticing, overlooks a fundamental fact about the Perkins story. As Paul Krugman writes:

You may say that this is just one crazy guy and wonder why The [Wall Street] Journal would publish such a thing. But Mr. Perkins isn’t that much of an outlier. He isn’t even the first finance titan to compare advocates of progressive taxation to Nazis. Back in 2010 Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, declared that proposals to eliminate tax loopholes for hedge fund and private-equity managers were “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”

And there are a number of other plutocrats who manage to keep Hitler out of their remarks but who nonetheless hold, and loudly express, political and economic views that combine paranoia and megalomania in equal measure.


Eric Cantor:

There are politicians and others who want to demonize people that have earned success in certain sectors of our society. They claim that these people have now made enough, and haven’t paid their fair share. But, pitting Americans against one another tends to deflate the aspirational spirit of our people and fade the American dream.

Lawrence Kudlow, mocking the opposition:

“How dare they be successful earners and investors… Should we go out and shoot [the super-rich] for their success?”

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