What I’m Reading Right Now

Since January 20th, the flood and fury of information regarding the new team in DC has been overwhelming. I was still out of the country for the first few weeks and unable to take to the streets, although the fact that the protests made the mainstream media in Japan was heartening, even as I continued to find myself obsessively finding things to criticize about the protests themselves. Like the Goldilocks of political resistance, I found the cop-hugging elements of the Women’s March and the crowing of “not a single arrest!” too blinded by racial and class-privilege to amount to anything, and the sudden surge of violent antifa against douchenozzles like Milo too in love with its own macho romanticized insurrection to have much tactical relevance. (In this, I find myself in agreement with Tarzie.) I still find myself completely unable to engage in any type of political discussion on social media, because I’m not sure what I want to argue or who I want to argue with.  But nobody’s clamoring for my hot take, thank god, and I’ve got nothing to say anyways. I have a tight deadline ahead of me with my dissertation, and frankly spending the next few months lost in the library seems like the best possible course of action. (And I fitting way to embody the name of this blog.)

In addition to the books written by my dissertation buddies (I suppose the proper term is ‘figures discussed in my dissertation’ but we’ve spent so much time together over the past few years, and I don’t think many people from the 21st century are hanging out with them, so I think we’ve all kind of become friends, in a way), I’ve got several other reading projects going on. I’m still chipping away at Harry Cleaver’s Reading Capital Politically. Yesterday I finished Jan-Werner Müller’s What is Populism? and haven’t formed an opinion on it yet, probably owing to the general political fatigue in my brain. Right around inauguration, I decided it was a good idea to dive into something diverting, and began Jan Swafford’s 1077 page Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph. I’m now 200 pages in, and Beethoven is 26, a few years into his life in Vienna, and jealous as hell that Haydn has written Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser, because Haydn has so successfully linked his composition to a major historical moment. Napoleon is on the move, and Beethoven is contemplating how to take his composing to the next level, or as Swafford writes, “How could he step out of the role of entertainer and into the stream of history?” (As we all know, Beethoven eventually made his biggest impact on history after playing a bitchin’ synth solo at San Dimas Mall  and helping Bill and Ted get an A+ on their history report.)

I can’t find a good youtube clip from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, so please settle for this video of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore and their brilliant interpretations of five Beethoven lieder.