Continuing anonymously to copy cranky emails exchanged with an old friend.
I’m beginning to wonder if your NYR positions are not so much due to the fact that it has changed, as you.
It is true that I have become disaffected as well, though I think I’ll stay on for another year. But after the roaring Sixties, when it briefly appeared the NYR was going to be radical or at least New left (I’m thinking about the notorious cover with the molotov cocktail instructions), it has been a voice of liberal, Yankee positions, a solid bastion of literary conformism with a few little teasers thrown in now and then. As we both knew, a style to be emulated, as if the content didn’t matter. Not to open a discussion about form and content …
I do share the perception you also took from the Feldman piece, that there is a contradiction lurking in the three Scalian precepts, and that the pivotal point will likely be “judicial restraint”. I also agree that the intrusion of morality or rather moralism into the public sphere is a huge US problem on all sides. Always has been. It’s the nature of the beast. A beast which IMHO does not feed off the old high 17th century Anglo-American tradition, rather has always been “populist” in its ideology while elitist in its political substance. In other words, the “low” obscurantist Anglo-American tradition.
Also thanks for the Chemerinsky piece in the New Republic, which journal has for a while now been hiding behind the acronym TNR. I actually met the gentleman. He was hired from Duke (Dook not Dyuk) as Dean of Law here the same year Nasrin was, but after one term moved up to UC-Berkeley. More of a nerd than a nebbish, though wilth characteristics of both.
The pieces are in fact reflective of his positions, as I understand them. On which point it is worth mentioning that I nodded at your remark about a screed of this sort against any given religion would offend the sensitivities of many. Let’s start with religious/ethnic affiliation of Chemerinsky himself. The gentleman does come ethno-religiously speaking, from the Pale (not beyond) and any text with such a script as his against Judaism and a Jewish conspiracy would raise hackles far and wide.
These are, in my mind, peripheral issues, since I think the whole American ideology including the bizarre exceptionalism which shows up in the tripartite division of govt into three sectors, including the strange (to me) idea that the US is somehow such a font of democracy and its going off track needs correction, is BS. To put it bluntly.
I am delighted to not have Trump to kick around any more but I do think you are being peremptive in your suggestion that there are no significant changes in Biden’s so-far-announced edicts (which is about all he’ll be allowed).
One significant change is cosmetic in part, but largely procedural. Look at the selection process of his cabinet etc. I don’t like many of them (as you know I not only considered abortion to be an innate human right, above juridical judgment, but I consider R2P to be inherently imperialistic). We’ll have to see how well (or how badly) Biden plays the mixed hand he was dealt, but I suspect he’ll be sucked into more foreign wars under the false guise of defending “democracy”. In the meantime, he has sought out the company of the “experts” — which, being one or sort of one myself, I tend to respect.
As for the Capitol Riots, they certainly were not the equivalent of the Reichstag burning. But the participants broke innumerable local and federal laws, apart even from homcide (can’t say State because DC is not a State). They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, as should Trump, who undeniably and stupidly encouraged those responsible. We’ll see.
As for AOC, she will not be the member of the Squad who will have a lasting career. Her sudden evocation of sexual abuse, while not surprising (I am sure she was “sexually abused” but that has nothing to do with the Capitol Riots) was revealing of a lack of personal control essential for a political leader I would vote for. Though of course there are many I would never vote for who have lasting political careers.
Do you subscribe to the London Review of Books? Here is a piece, first of three, by Perry Anderson, that stalwart of the New Left Review which was rec’d to me by my friend Louie in Toronto, whose name you will have heard. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n24/perry-anderson/the-european-coup
It is a heavy slough but offers a change of perspective, not only taking us away from the US conundrum but also containing interesting leads to Euro thinkers I was unaware of. Parts two and three I haven’t read yet but Louie describes them as conforming more to the New Left Review model. Let me know if you can’t get behind the firewall.
Love reading about the ongoing production of Charcuterie. My own production is much less serious. Here is an brief summary of my kitchen work for the past couple of weeks. A lot of soups, but hearty ones.
Grilled Eggplant Glazed with Miso. 6 Feb. https://pickledplum.com/nasu-dengaku-recipe/
My Moroccan Granny’s Okra and Green Pea Soup. 1 Feb.
Roast Parsnip, Garlic and Parmesan Soup. 25 Jan.
Chicken, Chestnut, Chickpea and Coconut Soup. 19 Jan.
Beet and Pomegranate Chicken Soup. 12 Jan. https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/jan/09/yotam-ottolenghis-recipes-warming-winter-soups-spinach-dulse-dal-pita-noodle-meat-broth-pomegranate-beetroot?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
Soupe aux Patates et poireaux. 9 Jan.