Thursday, June 30, 2022

Cassidy Hutchinson, Donald Trump, and "say something to the effect of/that"

During her January 6th Committee testimony, Cassidy Hutchinson, former assistant to President Trump's last White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, repeatedly used the phrase "say something to the effect" to mark non-verbatim quotations: "I overheard the president say something to the effect of: 'I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me.'" On, I found many examples of this phrase, including one by Trump himself during the Republican primary season in February 2016: "The Pope said something to the effect that maybe Donald Trump isn't Christian." It's a common phrase, of course, so this find doesn't "say something" to any effect beyond its serendipity. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 30 June 2022)

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Slipping away with Neil Young and Crazy Horse: "Broken Arrow" and the Zurich concert in 1996

Yesterday, I listened to Neil Young's 1996 album with Crazy Horse, "Broken Arrow," and remembered their concert at the Hallenstadion in Zurich on 20 June 1996. The album had not yet been released, so "Big Time", "Loose Change", "Slip Away", and "Music Arcade" were all new to me. The first three are full-throttle electric Crazy Horse, with "Slip Away" capturing the overwhelming effect of Neil's incomparable electric-guitar playing: "And when the music started, she just slipped away." But I hummed the acoustic "Music Arcade" all the way home: "Have you ever been lost? Have you ever been found out? Have you ever felt all alone at the end of the day?" (Andrew Shields, #111words, 29 June 2022)

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Throwing dishes against the wall: The violence of the real-estate developer

On Friday, 22 July 2016, I wrote an erasure of a speech "given last night in Cleveland by a real-estate developer with authoritarian delusions of grandeur", as I put it when I posted the poem "I Can Be Your White Champion" on my blog. In it, I tried to draw out and emphasize how violent the imagery in the speech was. Later, after almost four years as President of the United States, that real-estate developer encouraged the violence of the attack on the Capitol on 6 January 2021 – and while President, he also regularly threw dishes against the wall. The violence he described was not in the world but in himself. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 28 June 2022)


Monday, June 27, 2022

On Stan Wawrinka's three Grand Slam titles and the Big Five

As Stan Wawrinka warms up for his first-round match at Wimbledon against tenth-seeded twenty-year-old Jannick Sinner, his best results at Grand Slams were just posted on the screen: two quarterfinals at Wimbledon (2014 and 2015), and of course his three victories (Australian Open 2014, Roland Garros 2015, US Open 2016). In each of those finals, he defeated the player who was then ranked number one: Rafael Nadal in the first and Novak Djokovic in the other two. And he won all three in four sets. With his three titles, he deserves to be considered part of a Big Five for this era, along with Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 27 June 2022)

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Trump's "What do I have to lose" on 3 Janaury 2021 as an admission that he knew he had lost the 2020 Presidential election

In April 2020, I wrote about President Donald Trump saying "what do you have to lose?" in two contexts: addressing African-Americans in 2016 and discussing hydroxychloroquine early in the coronavirus pandemic. In both cases, he addressed people in what he saw as a bad situation. Recently, the January 6 Committee revealed his use of the same question with respect to himself in the meeting on 3 January 2021 at which he tried to make Jeffrey Clark Acting Attorney General: "What do I have to lose?" Given his earlier uses of the phrase, this is tantamount to an admission that he knew very well that he had lost the 2020 Presidential election. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 26 June 2022)


Saturday, June 25, 2022

The inconsistency is the point: On the Supreme Court's gun and abortion rulings

Yesterday, after the publication of the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted that "[t]he implausible inconsistency of the guns and abortion rulings is both sickening and revealing." I would add that, to paraphrase Adam Serwer, the inconsistency is the point. The contradiction between governmental intervention in the case of abortion and the denial of governmental intervention in the case of guns makes clear that the point is not to provide a consistent ideological position but rather to assert power without any need for justification. The contradictions between (and even within) the rulings further the straightforward seizure of unlimited power by white, male, heterosexual, Christian, cisgender supremacy. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 25 June 2022)

Friday, June 24, 2022

Justice Thomas calls for what Justices Alito and Kavanagh deny: The overturning of contraception rights, consensual homosexuality, and marriage equality

In their opinions on the Dobbs case that overturns Roe v. Wade, both Justice Alito and Justice Kavanagh dismiss the point in the dissent by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan that overturning Roe "calls into question Griswold, Eisenstadt, Lawrence, and Obergefell" (the first two are on contraception, the third on consensual homosexuality, the fourth on marriage equality). But in his concurring opinion, Justice Thomas actually does call for those very cases to be reconsidered: "[I]n future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell." Alito and Kavanagh both allude to Loving as well (mixed-race marriage), which is noticeably absent from Thomas's list. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 24 June 2022)

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Deplorable decisions by the United States Supreme Court in Vega v. Tekoh and in Bruen

While we await the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US Supreme Court's forthcoming Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, we can deplore today's decisions from the court. In Vega v. Tekoh, the court ruled by 6-3 (with all the Republican appointees in the majority) that if you're not read your Miranda rights (such as the right to remain silent), you cannot sue the government for using what you say against you. In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, the court ruled by 6-3 (guess who) that New York's century-old-law controlling firearm possession is unconstitutional. As Elie Mystal tweeted, this "turns every state into Texas." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 23 June 2022)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The "copoll" and the "pinker sister" in James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake"

In the passage we discussed from James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" in this evening's reading group, a conversation takes place on a carriage ride "while daisy winks at her pinker sister among the tussocks and the copoll between the shafts mocks the couple on the car" (53.9-11). At first, we thought there were two couples here, but "copoll" is a Joycean variation on the Irish "capall", which means "horse", so the horse is making fun of the couple in the carriage as they pass the daisies by the side of the road. We didn't pin down the daisy's "pinker sister" as a particular flower (and no resources I've checked have mentioned it). (Andrew Shields, #111words, 22 June 2022)

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

"The most simple surrealist act" seen from 2022

In his "Second Manifeste du Surréalisme" (1929), André Breton writes that surrealism "n'attend encore rien que de la violence". This appeal to violence could be taken abstractly, but a more concrete image follows: "L’acte surréaliste le plus simple consiste, revolvers aux poings, à descendre dans la rue et à tirer au hasard, tant qu’on peut, dans la foule." While it might be possible to read even this image as a metaphor, it's quite hard to do so today, especially in the United States, when Breton's "most simple surrealist act" of shooting a gun into a crowd has not only become a regular event but even comes with manifestoes of its own. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 June 2022)


Monday, June 20, 2022

The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, General Order No. 3 of 19 June 1865, and constraints on freedom

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which went into effect on 18 December 1865, abolished slavery and "involuntary servitude", but not completely – "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." General Order No. 3, which was issued by General Gordon Granger on 19 July 1865 and is the origin of the Juneteenth celebration, contains no such exception, but it does provide that "former masters and slaves" should become "employer and hired labor" and that "the freedmen" should "work for wages" and "will not be supported in idleness." In one case, freedom is constrained by punishment, in the other, by submission to "wage slavery." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 20 June 2022)


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Images, history, and Link Williams's understanding of his abduction in Ann Petry's "The Narrows"

Near the end of Ann Petry's "The Narrows" (1953), Link Williams, a young Black man who is "working on a history of slavery in the United States", is abducted by the husband of his white ex-mistress Camilla. He sees "one quarter of the explanation" for the abduction in two photographs associated with that affair (one of Camilla; one of a Black escaped convict), while "[t]he other three-quarters reaches back to that Dutch man of warre that landed in Jamestown in 1619." For Link, then, his experiences as a Black man in the mid-twentieth-century United States are determined by images (those photographs) and history (the American story that began with that ship). (Andrew Shields, #111words, 19 June 2022)

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Playing a few songs by Paul McCartney for his birthday

At the end of the semester, I took a break from writing my daily prose and was planning to start again on Monday, 20 June, but my daughter Sara played part of "Yesterday" on the piano about fifteen minutes ago, and I was reminded that it's Paul McCartney's 80th birthday today. So I asked her to play the whole song, and after she did, I grabbed my guitar and ran through three of my favorite McCartney songs: "Things We Said Today", "I've Just Seen a Face", and "With a Little Help from My Friends". (The latter, I just learned, actually was co-written with John Lennon.) So Happy 80th Birthday to Paul! (Andrew Shields, #111words, 18 June 2022)

Friday, June 10, 2022

An editorial emendation written to fit the meter in Emily Dickinson

In R. W. Franklin's edition of Emily Dickinson's poems, number 1591 from 1882 consists of a single line and an editorial emendation: "If I should see a single bird / [remaining text unknown]". When I read this yesterday, I had just read two-and-a-half pages of Dickinson, so I was once again under the spell of her metrical genius and variations. Without even thinking about it, then, I read the phrase in brackets as part of the poem, and it worked metrically as the second line of one of Dickinson's poems in alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and trimeter. I like to imagine Franklin chuckling to himself as he wrote the phrase. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 10 June 2022)

Thursday, June 09, 2022

A thought about a poem by Adrienne Rich, and her response to it

In Adrienne Rich's "Collected Poems 1950-2012", I have been tracking images of indoor scenes, especially bedrooms, kitchens, tables, and windows: such interiors run through Rich's poems as sites of conversation and work. Just now, while reading "Revolution in Permanence (1953, 1993)" from Rich's "Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1951-1995", I found the opening image of a poster of Ethel Rosenberg seen "through a barn window" vivid, but the rest of the poem blunt. Then the motto of the next section, "Then or Now", seemed to respond to that thought: "Is it necessary for me to write obliquely / about the situation? Is that what / you would have me do?"  (Andrew Shields, #111words, 9 June 2022)

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Catching up with "The History of Africana Philosophy"

Today, I caught up with the "The History of Africana Philosophy" series of "The History of Philosophy without any Gaps", with episode 101 on "Crossing Paths: The Last Years of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr." I particularly enjoyed episodes 8-10 on early Ethiopian philosophy; episode 56 on the fascinating and influential Edward Blyden (1832-1912), who was born in St. Thomas, lived for a long time in Liberia, and died in Sierra Leone; and episode 92 on the equally peripatetic Claudia Jones (1915-1964), who was born in Trinidad, grew up in the United States, and was later deported, before dying in London as "the mother of the Notting Hill Festival". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 8 June 2022)


Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Defeating four Top Ten players to win a men's singles title at a Grand Slam: Borg, Wilander, Federer, Nadal

Much has been made the past few days of how Rafael Nadal beat four Top Ten players to win the French Open this year, a rare achievement in tennis history. Seeded number one at the 1978 French Open, Björn Borg beat four players seeded nine and higher to win the title. Four years later at the same tournament, unseeded Mats Wilander beat players seeded second, fifth, fourth, and third in order to win the tournament. And at the 2017 Australian Open, seventeenth seed Roger Federer beat four players seeded ten and higher on his way to the title (and he defeated ninth seed Rafael Nadal in five sets in the final). (Andrew Shields, #111words, 7 June 2022)

Monday, June 06, 2022

On reading Wedekind instead of watching tennis

On Sunday, 11 September 1988, during my first semester of graduate school, I had to finish Frank Wedekind's "Erdgeist" for the Modern German Drama seminar the next day, and it was slow going because my German was not yet completely fluent. But instead of doing my reading, I spent the afternoon watching NFL games with my housemates, and then was tempted to continue with sports when the US Open men's singles tennis final between Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl started. So I went to the library to finish my reading, but when I got home, I was able to watch the last few games of Wilander's marathon five-set win over Lendl. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 6 June 2022)

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Rafael Nadal's fourteen Roland Garros titles and twenty-two Grand Slam titles

With his win at the French Open today, Rafael Nadal has won the tournament as many times as Pete Sampras won Grand Slam singles titles in his career: fourteen. Sampras's erstwhile record for men's singles titles was first passed by Roger Federer, then by Nadal, and then by Novak Djokovic. With twenty-two Grand Slam singles titles, Nadal is now tied with Steffi Graf and is close to the top two women, Margaret Court (24) and Serena Williams (23). And although he has no doubles titles, with two more singles titles Nadal would be in third place among the men for most titles overall, behind Roy Emerson (28) and John Newcombe (26). (Andrew Shields, #111words, 5 June 2022)

Friday, June 03, 2022

Bill Frisell at Willisau in 2012, playing John Lennon – and Paul Motian

When Bill Frisell played John Lennon tunes with Greg Leisz, Tony Scherr, and Kenny Wollesen at the 2012 Willisau Jazz Festival, the set started with a melody that was not by Lennon. Afterwards, I had a chance to ask Leisz if I had correctly recognized the opener, and he confirmed that it was Paul Motian’s “It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago”, the title track of the first Motian Trio album with Frisell and Joe Lovano. Leisz added that Frisell had started the set in memory of Motian because the first time he ever played Willisau was with Motian, and it was his first appearance there since Motian’s death in 2011. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 3 June 2022)

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Excellent Toni Morrison criticism by Timothy Aubry and Martha J. Cutter

The best literary criticism offers ideas that go beyond the works or authors being studied. In my seminar this term on Toni Morrison's Middle Novels, we kept returning to two studies of Morrison. Timothy Aubry's "Why is Beloved So Universally Beloved? Uncovering Our Hidden Aesthetic Criteria" (2016) drew our attention to aesthetic issues we might have otherwise missed. And we took Martha J. Cutter's use of Tzetan Todorov's concept of the "fantastic" in "The Story Must Go on and on: The Fantastic, Narration, and Intertextuality in Toni Morrison's 'Beloved' and 'Jazz'" (2000) to see how Morrison's novels "hesitate" between the realistic and the supernatural – and between other conceptual pairs as well. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 2 June 2022)

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

"I am a space as much as I am a voice": A poetry installation with quotations from poems by Sumita Chakraborty, Mary Jean Chan, Natalie Diaz, Ilya Kaminsky, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, and Vidyan Ravinthiran

In this afternoon's final session of my Contemporary Poety seminar (in which we discussed collections by Sumita Chakraborty, Mary Jean Chan, Natalie Diaz, Ilya Kaminsky, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, and Vidyan Ravinthiran), the students made posters with one quotation from one of the poets, and with the help of several students, I made six posters with one quotation from each poet. We hung the posters on the classroom walls, and each student and I explained our chosen quotations, and in the discussion, we linked the quotations to each other. For me, one quotation from Chakraborty came to stand for this installation: "I am a space as much as I am a voice". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 1 June 2022)


Quotations from Chan, Phillips, and Chakraborty.

Quotations from Kaminsky and Phillips.

Quotations from Kaminsky and Diaz.

Quotations from Chakraborty, Diaz, and Ravinthiran.

Quotations from Diaz, Kaminsky, and Ravinthiran.