The book tells the story of Lili and Siegfried Kracauer’s close working relationship – from the early 1930s following their marriage in Germany, to exile in Paris and the war and post-war years in the USA.
I said “Would you like a rope? You know that haul you have is not secured properly.”
“No,” he said, “but I see you have string!”
“If this comes into motion—” I said, “you should use a rope.”
“Any poison ivy on that? ” he asked me, and I told him my rope had been in the barn peacefully for years.
He took a length of it to the bedside table. He had no concept for what wood could endure.
“Table must have broken when I lashed it onto the truck,” he said.
And, when he was moving the sewing machine, he let the cast iron wheels—bang, bang on the stair.
I had settled down to pack up the ﬂamingo cookie jar, the cutlery, and the cookware, but stopped brieﬂy, for how many times do you catch sudden sight of something heartfelt?
I saw our milk cows in their slow...
Now this spectral city will become the site for execrations and lamentations, now time itself will disintegrate and void itself…
Now the dead will no longer be buried, now this spectral city will become the site for execrations and lamentations, now time itself will disintegrate and void itself, now human bodies will expectorate fury and envision their own transformation or negation, now infinite and untold catastrophes are imminently on their way —ready to cross the bridge over the river Aire and engulf us all — in this winter of discontent, just beginning at this dead-of-night instant before midnight, North-Sea ice-particles already crackling in the air and the last summer long-over, the final moment of my seventeenth birthday, so we have to go, the devil is at our heels… And now we’re running at full-tilt through the centre of the city, across the square beneath the Purbeck-marble edifice of the Queen’s Hotel, down towards the dark arches under the railway tracks, the illuminated sky shaking, the air fissured with beating cacophony,...
U-Bahn-Station Altes Landgut (U1)
And what if there were a machine for doing away with memory? That one would carry in an attaché case and plug in beside one’s bed at night? A machine to stifle the shoutings to which I have never given voice?
I recognize that lobby. The Washington Hilton. Men in business suits are crammed in there by the thousands. American philosophers meeting for a convention. A compact assembly of thinkers. Thirty-five hundred of them, Newsweek published the figure. The eastern division of the American Philosophical Association. I make a tour of the counters. There are those of the airlines, TWA, Delta, Allegheny, and those of the hotel, reservations, information, mail, cashier. A perfume shop. A shoe-shine place. An art gallery with pictures painted on velvet. Crowds everywhere. Thinking crowds. All profs. Looking like insurance agents, more readily imagined talking finances than dialectic. Above a bank branch is written: Christmas, Think of it as Money. A prayer for peace follows, signed Riggs National Bank. Between Christmas and New Year’s is the time for the big conventions. I stop in front of every desk as if to bring to life the scene from...
I’ve become obsessed with buffering—or the narrator in my new novel is obsessed with buffering. He’s an anthropologist who has grown up reading Lévi-Strauss but he’s also a corporate anthropologist who is working for the Man. He’s putting culture in the service of capital. Like we all do, he spends most of his life staring at a screen, and he frequently encounters bouts of buffering. And the first thought he has is that this is not ultimately a technological situation, it’s a theological situation. Behind that little circle spinning on your laptop there’s this belief that somewhere in Uzbekistan, Nevada or Finland there are many Über-servers with satellite dishes generating and sending out data. “Data” means gift and these servers are gifting all this data to you in this unconditional act of endless generosity and data angels are dancing on the pinhead of your Wi-Fi. And this places you inside...