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The Emergence of a New Structure of Feeling

On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald, by Eric Santner –  The shiver of political anxiety that winds through Eric Santner’s book On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald arises from the work of German jurist and philosopher Carl Schmitt, whose theory of the “state of exception” figured prominently in the juridical foundations of the Third Reich. Santner’s anxiety is shared by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben in his important work Homo Sacer, and by Jacques Derrida in his lectures on The Beast and the Sovereign, and it concerns the way Schmitt’s thesis is once again expressing itself in the world, particularly in America’s “war on terror.” Santner contextualizes Schmitt’s thinking by examining an impressive slate of German … [Read more...]

The Cat, the Bee and the Bird

Wedded to the World, A Continuous Encoding – I've often felt myself to be a kind of visitor to the land of the present. Not a tourist, please - more like a kind of honored guest. Yes, an honored guest en route from the respected kingdom of the past toward the glittering land of the future, and it’s like I’m bearing important documents of state. As such, I expect certain amenities which the squalid land of the present often has a difficult time providing. I take a breath and check my watch - I won’t be staying long. My daughter Eliza took a whack at this way of thinking before she was six months old. We were in the back garden and the first cat Eliza ever saw came across the ivy beneath the rubber tree and jumped up onto … [Read more...]

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Rilke Songs

I continue to be smitten with the work of Richard Avedon. Left, is his  “Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, American mezzo-soprano, October 1, 2003”. It is an eerie actuality that, to the day, one year later, Richard Avedon would die. Even more disturbing was the untimely death of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson on July 3, 2006, at the age of 52. I was shaken, for she truly embodied the music she sang. "So strong, so vibrant and so utterly communicative, they are as if tones were made flesh.", Mark Swed, Times Staff Writer | September 30, 2003. Here, from Rilke Songs, a collaboration with her husband, composer Peter Lieberson, for which The Grammy's posthumously awarded her 2006, Best Classical Vocal Performance, Part two; XXIX.   Rilke Songs … [Read more...]