"Best Paragraph I Read Today"
The 18th Brumaire of Donald Trump.
Is it really possible that today is the 18th of Brumaire in the French Republican calendar? (Apparently yes!) That’s a little on the nose. The date gives its name to Napoleon’s coup of 18 Brumaire, in which he seized power and ended the French Revolution. It also gives its name to Marx’s essay “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon,” which famously opens: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Hegel of course usually worked in threes, and if tragedy is the thesis and farce the antithesis, then surely the synthesis is Trump, who is at every point a perfect superposition of tragedy and farce. Anyway! It will all be over soon, maybe.
The believe-it-or-not superlatives are so extreme and Tom Swiftian they make you smile. The L.H.C. is not merely the world’s largest particle accelerator but the largest machine ever built. At the center of just one of the four main experimental stations installed around its circumference, and not even the biggest of the four, is a magnet that generates a magnetic field 100,000 times as strong as Earth’s. And because the super-conducting, super-colliding guts of the collider must be cooled by 120 tons of liquid helium, inside the machine it’s one degree colder than outer space, thus making the L.H.C. the coldest place in the universe.
The article is here, via Yves Smith and Jim Crozier.
Do I belong in an insane asylum? Or should I be on the FOMC (with
Hall, Thompson and Svensson?) Damned if I know. This blog is either
grossly overrated or grossly underrated, but it ain’t average.
Singing together, working together against tangible adversaries, melds us into one whole: we become members of the community, embedded in place. By contrast, thinking–especially thinking of the reflective, ironic, quizzical mode, which is a luxury of affluent societies–threatens to isolate us from our immediate group and home. As vulnerable beings who yearn at times for total immersion, to sing in unison (eyes closed) with others of our kind, this sense of isolation–of being a unique individual–can be felt as a deep loss. Thinking, however, yields a twofold gain: although it isolates us from our immediate group it can link us both seriously and playfully to the cosmos–to strangers in other places and times; and it enables us to accept a human condition that we have always been tempted by fear and anxiety to deny, namely, the impermanence of our state wherever we are, our ultimate homelessness. A cosmopolite is one who considers the gain greater than the loss. Having seen something of the splendid spaces, he or she (like Mole [in The Wind in the Willows]) will not want to return, permanently, to the ambiguous safeness of the hearth.
That is by Yi-Fu Tuan, discussed by Virginia Postrel.