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Quentin's Weeknotes 10/20/18-10/26/18

This week:

  • I read Andrew Bacevich's Open Letter to Elizabeth Warren. Bacevich is a former professor at my alma mater, Boston University, and a scholar and thinker whose deep humanism and broad historical perspective on American foreign policy I find genuinely fascinating and engaging whenever I read it. His basic argument in the letter is that a progressive domestic policy needs to be matched by a difficult but necessary conversation about the limits of American intervenionist foreign policy. He says that any president must engage with the reality of climate change and its geopolitical consequences, the redistribution of global power from the America and Europe to other places (largely China), and the growing threat of State and non-State cyber warfare.
  • I read the socialist historian Mike Davis' interview in Jacobin, where he addresses some of the specific population issues he laid out in his book Late Victorian Holocausts (which I must confess that I own, but have yet to read). In this interview, Davis argues that the deaths resulting from the coercive pull of profit-making, imperialism, and modernity rival or even exceed the routinely (and rightly) discussed atrocities of socialist and communist states in the 20th century. These morbid numbers games are useful only rhetorically, but are worth remembering, particularly as we stare down a climate catastrophe, caused by untrammeled capitalist growth and already causing extreme suffering.
  • As part of my on-going masochistic exercise of reading all of Jeff and Ann Vandermeer's edited tome "The Weird", I read the cult-novella "The Other Side of the Mountain" by Michael Bernanos, printed in its entirety therein.  It's a strange and wonderful story of an unnamed young boy who joins up with a sailing ship, whose journey starts with tragedy and horror, and ends on an island with something much more bizarre and wondrous. I don't want to spoil it, but it's a wonderful piece of eco-fiction, where the characters are encreasingly enveloped by an alien landscape that seems to exist outside of anyone's ability to comprehend, and may be either indifferent or malevolent to their presence.
  • The Yager Museum held it's annual storytelling even "The Horror in the Museum." Every year, students, faculty, and staff read or perform their favorite pieces of spooky fiction and drama, and its always a blast. This year we had fantastic readings of Poe, Lovecraft, Stephen King, folktales, and original works by students and staff. I coordinate this event and it's one of my favorite things in the year. Fun fact: the event is named for a story that Lovecraft ghost-wrote/revised for Somerville, MA native Hazel Heald.

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