KOMMUNALKA.

Anyone who has studied Soviet history or read Soviet literature is familiar with the idea of the kommunalka, the communal apartment, but I at least did not have a clear mental picture to go with the idea. Now, thanks to Studiolum’s latest post at Poemas del río Wang, I can practically smell them. Here’s his introductory explanation:

The коммунальная квартира, the communal flat was a fruit of the revolution of 1917, called to life by the new collective vision of the future shorn of private property on the one hand, and by the pressure of the huge masses of population flowing from the countryside to the cities during the artificially induced urbanization on the other. Between the first and the last years of the Soviet Union the proportion of 20:80% between urban and rural population turned almost exactly to the reverse, but the mass construction of housing estates – the so-called khrushchevki, or even khrushchoby, “Khrushchev-slums” – started only in the 1960s. As a solution of the urgent housing problem, the former large bourgeois flats were divided into several – five to ten – one-room apartments, each for one family, while hallways, kitchen, bathroom and telephone were shared among all the residents.

Alongside the evocative pictures, he has well-chosen quotes from novels and other literary sources; I’d particularly like to single out the second one, from Daniil Harms‘s “Myshin’s Victory” (Победа Мышина), a typically appalling and hilarious little story/anecdote from one of the greatest writers ever to die in a prison. Myshin’s “Не встану” (“I won’t get up”) is a good match for Bartleby’s “I would prefer not to,” but shorter and bitterer, as befits the time and place. You can hear the Russian text read here.
There’s no point making a whole post of this, because it becomes tedious rehashing the whole debate about postmodernism, but I was delighted to read Anatoly’s post describing at length how much effort he expended over the course of years to try and understand Deleuze, Kristeva, Paul de Man, and the rest of the usual suspects—reading books, taking courses, attending lectures, the whole bit. His reluctant conclusion: of all of them, only Derrida rose above the level of nonsense and obscurantism (белиберды и обскурантизма), and his ideas, while occasionally interesting, were not worth the effort it took to uncover and assimilate them. I had come to the same conclusion after far less time and effort, and I am glad to be reassured that it was not just a matter of laziness—even if I’d cracked my brains for years, I wouldn’t have broken through to a land of wonderful insights. (Yes, I know, he and I may both be too stodgy and/or limited to understand. I can live with that possibility.)

Comments

  1. Dmitry Rubinstein says:

    Here’s a nice graphical representation (even though somewhat idealized) from a recent movie “Stilyagi”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyGOf0jdOoQ

  2. Similar things happened earlier and elsewhere: my own building, 13 East 3rd St. in Manhattan, was originally (1873) a commercial building, and when my wife first lived there (1972) each floor had at some point been divided into four apartments, except the ground floor which had only two, of which one was unbuilt and used as shared storage. Rehabilitation in 1996 reduced this number to a more manageable two per floor.

  3. Yes, what JC said. I was going to make that very point. And it’s the same all over Europe too.

  4. Thanks, Dima! Here‘s the direct link.
    JC and AJP: These apartments, they have no private kitchens, bathrooms, etc.? Everything is shared?
    And AJP, by “the same all over Europe,” do you mean this is as common as it was in the USSR? People all over Europe dream hopelessly of having their own living space, with no other families using their pots and pans and stealing their razors? Apparently I’ve been misled about the civilized life in the EU.

  5. Isn’t one of the subplots in Cancer Ward the party functionary who’s turned in his neighbour in order to include the neighbour flat in his own?

  6. There are a lot of houses in Portland OR clumsily chopped up into apartments too. Maybe just because when the original prosperous owners finally gave up their large house, no one wanted it because it was no longer stylish or no longer in a good neighborhood. Apparetments of this type often had odd-shaped rooms oddly situated in relation to one another.
    A communal appartment figures vividly in Master and Margarita, unless it’s My Life as a Dog.
    I agree about Derrida et al, and add Lacan and Althusser. I never spent any time on Althusser, but put a moderate amount of time in on Lacan. And by extention, probably Zizek goes too. (I just read something by Laclau which I liked, except that he threw in a lot of Lacanian terminology. To quote myself:
    Why does Chantal Mouffe put up with Laclau? She writes very well, whereas everything he does is studded with nods to theory, as though his steely-eyed KGB dissertation adviser were watching from the audience. “Syntagmatic”, “paradigmatic”, “equivalential rearticulations”, “floating signifiers”, “empty signifiers”, “inscribing” — all that in less than two pages.
    I’m able to translate that crap into human speech, but the things he was trying to say gained nothing by expressed in that particular dialect.

  7. michael farris says:

    They existed (and still exist in ever smaller numbers) in Poland too.
    Here’s a clip from a famous Polish comedy series Alternatywy 4 (Alternatives 4, it’s a street addess). The series is about a new social (government) apartment builing and the haphazard group of people who come to live htere.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upkLlFr1Ysk
    The relevant part begins at 5.33
    quick recap for the Polish impaired:
    the lady in the kitchen locking up her fridge (that really happened) is angry at the first for not returning from shopping with the old man in the wheelchair earlier and she bustles him right back outside. The joke is all the families in the apartment use him as a prop to bypass long lines at stores.
    When they get back the next housewife is ready to take him out again when the manager of the building arrives to tell them that the old man has been awarded a new 3 room (two bedroom) apartment in a new building. The other reidents aren’t happy about this and under the pretense of concern for the old man it’s decided that one of the families can move into the new apartment with him (and get the whole thing when he dies they hope). The old man refuses to choose so they spin the bottle and at the end spin it again to see who gets the newly vacated rooms….

  8. I just mean that Victorian middle-class housing was much larger than where we live now, no matter whether we’re talking about Moscow, Berlin, London or New York. Many New York apartments have no bedrooms, so-called “studio” apartments, haha, like artists don’t need a bedroom. As for the other amenities it’s always been worse than depicted in the movies: I’ve seen apartments with no bathroom, the tub was in the kitchen – this was a common design feature of New Law NYC tenement buildings built around the turn of the 20C. How many Upper-Westside brownstones belong to one family these days? Yet most of them were built as single-family homes. Not too many of the five- or six-storey Victorian houses in central London remain undivided into flats. The ones that aren’t go for eight- or nine-figure sums of pounds (often to Russians, actually), so for most people they’re out of the question. What’s your point – that Soviet Russians lived in more squalid conditions that we did? Probably true, but not necessarily more cramped, for although the poor have always lived in cramped conditions the shrinking the middle classes’ living space is one outcome of modernism.

  9. …and if you don’t see the connections to modernism, well, one is that “the machine for living in” doesn’t need servants and the space they take up. But the other is that, sometime in the late 1970s, a new kind of bean counter emerged; I think they’re called “space analysts” or something like that. They figure out what use a commercial tenant can make of the office space they rent. Office space is rented at $x /sq.ft and that’s for every damn square foot on a floor. If you have thick walls with deep window sills it’s money down the drain, because you can’t work on the window sills. Better to have thin, glass curtain walls with no ins and outs. Wooden baseboards with mouldings that project out from the walls are wasted space – hey, it all adds up – so it’s better to have recessed or flush baseboards. Etc. Modernism saves space, and space is money.

  10. What’s your point – that Soviet Russians lived in more squalid conditions that we did?
    Uh, yes. I find it odd to respond to a description of an extremely dehumanizing form of daily living with “Well, we had it hard too.” I lived for a while in one of a number of tiny rooms carved out of a basement space in Queens, where there was in fact a common bathroom for all of us and you had to go up on the street to use a pay phone, but that was pretty unusual and only lasted for a year or two (all the others were grad students and presumably moved on quickly). For an entire society, in an allegedly modern country, to live like that for decades, not just poor students but whole families, is almost unimaginable to me.

  11. My point is that it’s not unimaginable. It was made to seem that way by western propaganda, it seems to me, but the concept is familiar to most of us. As for former large bourgeois flats were divided into several – five to ten – one-room apartments, each for one family, while hallways, kitchen, bathroom and telephone were shared among all the residents, well, your own experiences in Queens were much worse than that.

  12. I’ve lived most of my adult life in pensions, boarding houses, or students’ dorms in Brazil. The cheaper kind will usually have shared bathroom, kitchen, television, even bedrooms (with more than one bed). Any large city is full of those, and it’s not at all unusual for low-class people to live their whole lifes in there. I’ve once shared a room with three retired old men, and one of them was permanently bound to an oxygen tank. There’s nothing much else you can do; below middle class you simply don’t have enough money to pay rent and utilities in valuable urban space.
    I didn’t find it that dehumanizing, to be honest. But I had it better than most, and by the time my first kid was born I could affort privacy.

  13. AJP,
    Many New York apartments have no bedrooms, so-called “studio” apartments
    I live in a studio apartment (albeit not in New York) and I would swear that this right here is my bedroom.
    It was made to seem that way by western propaganda
    Yes, indeed, the dreadful western propaganda, disseminated by agents of the West like my uncle who lived in Leningrad and from whom I first heard about communal flats. And that’s my uncle who until he moved to go to college lived with his parents and his four sisters in a house no larger than 40m2. So, yeah, Soviet Russians had it worse.
    well, your own experiences in Queens were much worse than that.
    It’s one thing to live in these conditions as a young single guy for a year or two, but a whole family in one room for decades, that’s something completely different.

  14. Lived in a kommunalka, 18 sq ft room for the four of us, didn’t find it all that dehumanizing. Mice and roaches were bad and some people too, to say the truth, but that’s the hard reality of inner-city ghetto life in any nation. But neighbors were fairly cordial and the word privacy wasn’t invented yet anyway. The worst inner-city slums I ever stayed in, they were actually in Cambridge MA. A sole heat went in a three-room flat, a door-less bathroom is a kitchen annex, and the same kitchen’s pantry serving as the home office, “at least the roof has been fixed” – that was one Harvard grad’s family dwelling. The other one has all windows boarded up and one working light bulb outside of the bathroom, and a pile of matresses on the floor for furniture – that was a single guy’s hole.

  15. The business of chopping up large family houses into small, inconvenient apartments is pretty widespread. There were other factors in the USSR that made things worse there than elsewhere (KGB, gulags, low standard of living, etc.)

  16. In my building there were separate stoves, refrigerators and bathtubs. WCs were originally shared (reachable from the hall) but later were converted to per-apartment. Some buildings near me continue to have shared WCs.

  17. Apparently there was a French documentary a few years ago called “Kommunalka”. Here is a link
    http://www.editionsmontparnasse.fr/product?product_id=1321
    The trailer and packaging seem to feature a suspcious amount of nudity (it was made by a French man), but it looks like it was filmed in a real communal apartment.

  18. …it was made by a French man…
    It was made by a French woman, but I think it has nothing to do with the fact that in the reality it does not contain much nudity at all. I also wrote about this film in the post kindly quoted by Language Hat, and gave links to it.

  19. Communal apartments also existed in Budapest from the end of the 40s until well in the 80s. They were mainly bourgeois flats where the former owners, “enemies of the people” were confined to one room, while the rest was distributed among newcomers. It was widely known that the social composition of the residents was intentionally planned so that it was an extra punishment for the original owners. So it was not just the scarcity of the space and the common facilities in themselves that made life a hell in these flats. I know lots of people who grew up in such apartments, and it was equally a nightmare, a constant nest of violence both for the original owners and for the newcomers.

  20. Hm. This whole discussion about who had it worse… seems a bit off. Of course every one of us can probably describe some college or post-college housing that was worse. And to be fair, I’ve been in some “nice” Petersburg communal apartments, which were spotlessly clean and where the neighbors were very polite and tactful. I’ve also been in some hellholes. And I’ve seen some barracks that make your hair stand on end: twenty families on a floor with one kitchen, cold water, and a toilet. No bath or shower at all. People raised a generation of kids in them, and still live in them.
    I don’t think the issue is really the division of large apartments into smaller ones, although the common kitchen, toilet and bath — only used by schedule — and the smells and other people’s disgusting laundry hanging up, and the silent sex, and the loud drunken partying next door, and the stolen food, and the feuds (where spitting in your neighbor’s teapot was part of the fun) could be just awful. (It was common for them not to have a shower or bath at all; you used the local bath house once a week.) Some of them might have been decent, but no one missed them once they had their own kitchen, their own toilet, their own bath, and a door between them and the rest of humanity.
    The issue, for me anyway, was that people lived/live in them for generations, that the process of getting separate housing was/is corrupt, and that the govt maintained such a grand lie about how great life was.
    BTW the artist Ilya Kabakov did an installation of a communal kitchen (I think) years ago in NYC and other cities. It was quite wonderful.

  21. Yes, Studiolum, same thing in Russia. A friend’s grandmother who had spent years in the camps at a Trotskyite, and then the requisite 10 years in exile 100 kilometers outside Moscow, was placed in a communal apartment with two former zeks — these were former aristocrats. I think there was also an ardent defender of the regime. It was a constant ideological battleground, with my friend’s tiny grandmother gettting up on the kitchen table to be heard, waving about her cardboard filter cigarette and screaming about a proper revolution.

  22. I don’t think the issue is really the division of large apartments into smaller ones… The issue, for me anyway, was that people lived/live in them for generations
    Yes, exactly. There was no escape, unless you had connections.
    As for whether it’s dehumanizing, to me the lack of privacy is inherently dehumanizing, which is not to imply people who live in such circumstances are less than human, just that they are deprived of what to me is one of the essential ingredients of a humane life. But perhaps it’s just my privileged upbringing as a bourgeois cosmopolite that’s speaking.

  23. By the way, MOCKBA, could you revisit this río Wang post and check out my latest comment asking why it’s “сбереги свои невры” rather than “нервы”? (And anyone else who might have a suggestion is invited to do the same, of course.)

  24. I think mab’s right.
    The video shows it was shabby and squalid (though many public hallways in NY are no less shabby & squalid than these), which is not the same criticism as chopping up large apartments for communal living. Incidentally, housing by the so-called “New Brutalist” architects in Britain in the 1950s -70s tried to foster a sense of community by designing groups of flats whose windows and doorways overlooked one another or were at least very close by. I’m not sure they were entirely unsuccessful – at any rate, the brutalists are currently enjoying a revival of interest in their work. Communal living was popular all over during the sixties. I, by the way, would rather die than live with someone I didn’t like really a great deal. I’ve never been in any army, and an Englishman’s home is his castle.
    Studiolum, if you don’t already know, there’s a big exhibition about the history of Hungarian photography at the Royal Academy in London, this summer. I had never before put the 2+2 together to realise that Hungarians took many of the great pictures of the 20C: Capa, Moholy-Nagi, Brassai, Kertész, Sylvia Plachy, Munkácsi, and, and, and… It must be something in the water. And on the subject of apartment living, here is a poignant 1965 photograph from the exhibition.
    I’m off to look for pictures of the Ilya Kabakov…

  25. I lived in communal flats for much of my life and have stayed in ‘communal’ lodgings in the West too. The problems are basically the same, as well as the advantages of communal living (safety, for example).
    In Russia, as the dacha descended from Chekhovian country house to something close to an allotment shed in the 70s, so has the kommunalka progressed from the barrack-student dorm type lodging to something similar to the Notting Hill arrangement of Hugh Grant and Spike in the 70s-80s. I think, in the 60s and 70s most people got out of living in kommunalkas through elaborate exchange schemes rather than through mass housing construction. One of the best novels of the Soviet period, Trifonov’s The Exchange, describes it.
    Stilyagi I think shows what most remember as a lower grade koridornaya barrack-type lodging (Vyssotsky refers to it in one of his songs) rather than the kommunalka, usually smaller, with two to five individual living units and shared facilities.

  26. Hungarians took many of the great pictures
    What was that post about Hungarian being the common language of nuclear scientists in America a while ago?

  27. Who’s got a worse? No, no, it’s just the history of Russia’s shared flats was told as a some unmatched, incomparable visceral horror unique to the Soviet system … but there are many parallels all around the world.
    In NYC tenements just over a hundred years ago, as in Moscow pre-revolutionary tenements of say Gorky’s “На дне”, people rented corners in shared rooms, without indoor water or electricity or gas. Drinking tap water was the #1 health hazard. All baths were communal. Fast-forward half century, my grandparents lived in a subdivided luxury suite of the former Astor Hotel, with a piano, mahogany furniture, and a grand view of Gorky Street, but without any bathrooms (just a cold tap on the kitchen, and a huge communal sewage vat for night potties). It’s got retrofitted for full plumbing, and kitchen gas, after WWII, to everyone’s huge relief. My in-laws spent the first few years of their marriage sleeping under a table in a room shared with 4 other grownups. My point is that the conditions and our expectations change over time, and sharing a shower with roommates is so passe but still beats earlier standards of not having a shower, or even a toilet, or even a room to call your own. For me too, a stint in a kommunalka room beat sharing with in-laws hands down :) And for most people who remained in kommunalkas after Kruuschev’s housing reforms, the old-town locations were simply to irresistible to give up; a trade-off all of us still make today.

  28. so has the kommunalka progressed from the barrack-student dorm type lodging to something similar to the Notting Hill arrangement of Hugh Grant and Spike in the 70s-80s
    Sashura, I’m very confused by this assertion. There are people who share flats (from foreigners to young people to migrant workers), but the kommunalka is not voluntary. You get placed in one. Getting out, particularly now, is extremely difficult.
    Mr Crown, even the cool sort of communal housing like the Narkofin building here wasn’t successful. People wanted their own kitchens.
    Some people I know have some fond memories of the worker’s barracks and early kommunalki. But there’s a big caveat. They were not comfortable, but they were lots of fun when it was families of, say, nuclear physicists or engineers. They were young, well-educated and cultured, and they all worked together. Their kids played in the halls, and they all shared food at parties. The horrible ones were/are the worker barracks for factories (boss making money hand over fist; workers living in abject poverty). And of course it was pretty horrible being an educated person and being stuck in a kommunalka with drunks and folks straight off the farm. Because, of course, all the bad examples in the West are slums for the poor. But highly cultured people (Brodsky, for one) lived in them, too, and for their whole lives.
    Please don’t think I’m in favor of slums for the poor (and actually, the USSR did a good job of getting rid of them). But I’m also not in favor of a some people getting apartments and some people getting Vanya the drunk as a flatmate.

  29. When Ellwood takes Jake ‘home’, what type of lodging is that, what is it called in America?

  30. Gosh, I’d no idea about Vanya. I’m sure he’s very quiet most of the time.
    Ginzburg’s Narkomfin isn’t just cool, it’s genius. He deserves to be as well known as le Corbusier, who stole – sorry, appropriated – his incredible idea for the section of that building. So it doesn’t have kitchens, you can’t have everything.

  31. Getting out of highly subsidized housing has never been easy, in any system. It usually takes more money than one can afford, and it’s totally understandable.
    A drunkard down the hallway … yes, but how many families face the same struggle inside, with wayward kids, abusive parents, mentally ill, drug addicts and perpetual jailhouse visitors inside of their own modern homes? The only difference which truly makes Russia’s memories special is IMHO a status-building role of suffering in Russian culture. It’s akin to what one sees in the breast cancer community in the West today. If one hasn’t suffered enough, one isn’t worth anything. As a consequence, the housing horror stories in Russia get magnified upon retelling, which just isn’t happening in the West.
    Oh, and language, the Rio Wang phrase is misspelled on purpose, probably after some popular comic skit of the time, but I can’t remember exactly who put these “nevres” into circulation first.

  32. the Rio Wang phrase is misspelled on purpose, probably after some popular comic skit of the time
    Ah, thanks.
    The only difference which truly makes Russia’s memories special is IMHO a status-building role of suffering in Russian culture.
    No, the difference is that in the USSR there was no way out (if you didn’t have connections). It’s ridiculous to equate the sufferings of the poor, which of course exist worldwide, with the sufferings of an entire nation (except for the nomenklatura and their pals), imposed and maintained by the government. In Western countries, you could scrimp and save and move on up; in the USSR you had no hope of anything better, so you had to enjoy the good parts of the experience, which you could then be nostalgic about later. But I doubt there was a single person who would voluntarily choose a kommunalka over a private apartment in an equivalent part of town.

  33. I know I get touchy about apple and orange comparisons, so I’ll try not to… but Mockba, there IS a difference between a difficult family life and receiving state housing with a drunk room mate. For 30 years.
    My hackles also went up… seriously up… over the suffering thing. I don’t think the stories necessarily get worse for the telling. In a lot of cases, they get better. They become joke stories (the time the drunk roommate stole my coat, the time my grandmother stood on the table to scream down her countess roommates).
    The thing is that there wasn’t any (or much) choice in this. You got assigned housing. If you were lucky AND in most cases had connections or money, you got a separate flat. If not, you got a kommunalka. If you were lucky there, your roommates were decent. Some people, like Sashura, may prefer communal living (and choosing his roommates). Or some people don’t have much money and rent a room in a flat. But most people want to be able to take a bath whenever they want, for as long as they want, and not have to sterlize the tub beforehand or remove Vanya’s disgusting filthy underwear he left in the bathroom. And then they want to sit in the kitchen and have a cup of tea by themselves and not carry the tea back to their single room where two kids are sleeping and their husband is playing cards with your father while your mother irons.
    The only “good” thing about having a room in a kommunalka in the center of the city — at least 10 years ago before real estate went up to $4000/sm in Moscow — is that some rich dude came along and bought you and everyone else in the place an apartment, so he could then turn the huge communal apartment into a huge one-family apartment.

  34. michael farris says:

    “most people want to …not have to … remove Vanya’s disgusting filthy underwear he left in the bathroom”
    Not only a drunk but disgusting underwear too!
    I’m afraid his silence only speaks to the truth of these unsavory revelations…

  35. I wouldn’t lie.
    There was another guy in a kommunalka — one of the last wooden houses in the city center — that didn’t have a bathroom, just a toilet off the kitchen. He’d get drunk, go to the can, undress, drop his filthy drawers in the kitchen on his naked stroll to his room. He lived with a hot-tempered family in one room; my friends (4 people, two of them babies) lived in the other room. The drunk family used to get into knife fights that spilled into the communal spaces and my friends’ room.
    They eventually got their own apartment, in a new neighborhood that didn’t have a single store for miles around, or telephone lines, or anything but mud for years. They were incredibly happy.

  36. Alexei K. says:

    What makes these Russian memories special is the universality of the kommunalka experience: it was not limited to the fringes, as in the modern West. One could get a decent education and advance professionally to a respectable level — say a mid-level factory manager or college professor — and yet be unable to escape the communal squalor. This was hardly common in the developed world elsewhere.

  37. JE: I agree about Derrida et al, and add Lacan and Althusser. I never spent any time on Althusser, but put a moderate amount of time in on Lacan. And by extention, probably Zizek goes too. (I just read something by Laclau which I liked, except that he threw in a lot of Lacanian terminology. To quote myself …
    First off, where do I find that article of yours from which you quote ? Not many of the links on your new-look site are working.
    I just read two things by Zizek in German: Auf verlorenem Posten (In Defense of Lost Causes) and Die Tücke des Subjekts (The Ticklish Subject). Apart from his witty way with English expressions (see the two original book titles above), he gives you 95% lucidity, which you don’t get with those other dudes. And he deals critically with Butler, Badiou etc, which gives me personally a deal of satisfaction.
    In a general way, I think of these people as resembling contemporary music composers – you like what they produce, or you don’t. On the down side, they have these annoying leitmotivs: obsessions with psychoanalysis (always Lacan) and Marxism (always Kojeve/Althusser) which break out like nervous ticks escaping the flea circus. It’s like reading a subtle work of philosophy by an intelligent Catholic, who suddenly effuses about the bleeding heart of Jesus or “symbolic castration”, then goes on as if nothing had happened.
    In Defense of Lost Causes ends with a paean to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. This reminds me of the guitar-smashing routine at the end of fashionable rock concerts in the late ’60s.
    In any case, Zizek has given me some idea of what Lacan was up to. I resent the hell out of that, and fight it tooth and nail. As you wrote, these things can (in principle !?) be translated into standard speech – it seems that not many people are trying to talk straight to start with, apart from Zizek (95% of the time) and Sloterdijk (100% of the time).

  38. There’s an article about how overcrowded Moscow is in today’s Guardian.

  39. J. W. Brewer says:

    Sashura, that’s what’s often called an “SRO” (for “single room occupancy,” not, e.g., self-regulatory organization). Somewhere in between a hotel and an apartment building, but more down-at-the-heels than either. More common 30, 40, 50 years ago, often gentrified into oblivion. I think the building I lived in in Chicago in 1989-92 had once been an SRO of that genre before being gut-rehabbed into more normal (albeit low-end) small apartments. Details on the one where the movie was shot here: http://www.bluesbrotherscentral.com/locations/plymouth-hotel/.

  40. Here in Abu Dhabi the Filipinos, Tamils, Marathis etc who do all the menial work live umpteen to an apartment in the centre of the city, where a person who shares an apartment is known (in English) as a “bedspacer”. Further out, villas built for single families are divided up, illegally, into 14 or more “apartments”, filled, mostly, with lower-middle class Indian families, non-Emirati Arabs and the occasional ex-pat like me.

  41. A better musical analogy for Zizek is a karaoke machine. Lots of retreads of 60s and 70s postmodern “classics” and radical posturing set to a funky new backbeat (i.e. hipster joking)…Ideal for student discos, no doubt.

  42. AJP: Many of the bigger detached houses in the London suburbs which were divided into flats in maybe the 40s or 50s are now being turned back into family homes, often with underground pools or what have you, and are seling for squillions – and not just to Russians, often to the nouveau riche anglais..

  43. A better musical analogy for Zizek is a karaoke machine … radical posturing set to a funky new backbeat (i.e. hipster joking)
    Apparently his public appearances in America have been like that. I’ve seen him only once in a German TV interview, where possibly he had dialed down the dumbdumb for the sake of the immanent-seriöse natives. I like a campy performance in the heavy arts: Feynmann was a clown too. Also Sidney Morgenbesser, but ain’t really enough of ‘em.
    Die Tücke des Subjekts, at any rate, is for the most part a well-organized, closely and lucidly argued, no-holes-barred book – otherwise I would have cast it in front of the ICE to Stuttgart. I nearly did so when “symbolic castration” and “excremental Jesus” came up. So tiresome, my dears !

  44. the nouveau riche anglais..
    Is there only one of them ? I hadn’t heard of fresh wealth in England apart from the Russians – but what do I know about it.

  45. When I quoted myself I was quoting my facebook page of the same day. had to say that I was quoting it because some people here are on facebook.
    I haven’t found Zizek to be especially lucid. More lucid than Lacan, sure. Too often I’ve found myself asking, “where is he going with this?” Like too many from the Hegelian tradition, he seems to feel obligated to reprise the whole history of philosophy before he says any particular thing about anything.

  46. What makes these Russian memories special is the universality of the kommunalka experience: it was not limited to the fringes, as in the modern West. One could get a decent education and advance professionally to a respectable level — say a mid-level factory manager or college professor — and yet be unable to escape the communal squalor.
    Sorry to be raising heckles and to appearing an, ahem, totalitarism apologist. I think we’re just taking about different epochs, the era of Stalin vs. the times of new residential construction boom (the latter being when I lived and witnessed). It wasn’t that hard to rent even in the 60s, just not in the choice neighborhoods (my relative rented at faraway Volokolamka, and grumbled about his hour plus commutes, but a regular engineer’s salary was enough for it). Outright condo purchases were shady but widespread too, and coop purchases were 100% legal. In fact “my” communal flat’s worst drunkard got there by his choice, by trading down his condo for cash. Of course as the inner-city living conditions improved (a process well known in the US as gentrification), the marketplace priced even well-off professionals out of the game again…

  47. The more people there are living in cities the smaller and more expensive the living spaces become. I don’t agree with Language that lack of privacy is inherently inhumane, though no doubt it’s very problematic for people like us who’ve grown up in western cultures (all except Vanya, apparently). A much bigger nightmare, more widespread and in the end way more unpleasant than Soviet housing, is overpopulation.

  48. Grumbly, the richest person in Britain is currently Mr Mittal, the Indian steel magnate. Magnate? Magnet? In 2004 he paid £57m. for his Victorian house in Kensington Palace Gardens. It’s close to where I grew up; but in those days it was mysterious, dark and ivy-covered, an annex of – haha – the Soviet embassy across the street. You can see it, and him, here, in the Daily Mail.

  49. Like too many from the Hegelian tradition, [Zizek] seems to feel obligated to reprise the whole history of philosophy before he says any particular thing about anything.
    Well, what do you expect in books that popularize philosophical topics ? Even popularizing books on string theory have to start by explaining what a string is. If readers had to bring their own Hegel and twine before they could read a book, they wouldn’t buy it.
    But Zizek sure as hell doesn’t reprise in The Ticklish Subject – my mind was barely holding on by the base of its ganglia. If I hadn’t read Luhmann, Sloterdijk, Bachelard, Badiou etc in the last few years, I wouldn’t have understood a word. In more cautious terms: I wouldn’t even have imagined that I understood a word.

  50. Crown: but Mittal is not a nouveau riche anglais. Maybe Paul was thinking of Beckham.

  51. I was thinking of people like Lord Carpets (whatever is name is) who made a fortunes from selling cheap carpet and whose son has recently spent a great deal on a house near me in south-east London. And there are many other nouveaux riches (OK?) here from the banking/financial and even industrial worlds. James Dyson of the vacuum cleaners, for example, is mega-rich (though I was not commenting on his taste earlier, m’Lud).

  52. Sorry about the typos, it’s late…..

  53. I don’t like Zizek because his nose is in the middle of his face. No mor reaons for you, Grumbly!
    I read a few things, and one way or another I was uninterested in reading more.

  54. In a general way, I think of these people as resembling contemporary music composers – you like what they produce, or you don’t.
    That’s an interesting and, I think, helpful comparison, with the necessary proviso that music, unlike writing, doesn’t and can’t convey rational meaning. If I could read those people the way I listen to contemporary music, just trying to open my ear and enjoy what’s there, I’d probably get more out of them… but damn my eyes, I can’t turn off the expectation of meaning, so I get aggravated.
    In Defense of Lost Causes ends with a paean to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. This reminds me of the guitar-smashing routine at the end of fashionable rock concerts in the late ’60s.
    This is absolutely brilliant, and makes me like him better. Not enough to read him, mind you, but putting him in the same mental category as The Who brings a smile to my brain.

  55. There was a man called Cyril Lord who sold carpets on the telly in the sixties: “This is quality you can afford, by CY-RIL LORD!” – who says annoying advertising doesn’t work? Well I do, because he went bust. My mother knew the daughter of a man called Lord. He was worried that if he got a peerage he would become Lord Lord; apparently he later found a way round it.

  56. And there is Judge Judge – now Lord Chief Justice Judge.

  57. “I also wrote about this film in the post kindly quoted by Language Hat, and gave links to it.”
    So you did. Had I not been so busy drinking The Komsomol Girl’s Tears and hassling my flatmates I would have noticed that.
    Now where did my underwear get to?

  58. We burned it. You’ll thank us later.

  59. Jonathan says:

    Make sure to check out the wonderful kommunalka project at Colgate: http://kommunalka.colgate.edu/
    From their about page:
    “This Web site–an online ethnographic museum–explores and explains a striking social phenomenon: the Soviet “kommunalka,” or communal apartment.”

  60. Incidentally, if anyone would like to replicate vanya’s experience, here’s the classic recipe for The Komsomol Girl’s Tears (“Слезы комсомолки”):
    Лаванда – 1 5 г. [1.5 grams lavender toilet water]
    Вербена – 1 5 г. [1.5 g. verbena]
    “Лесная вода” – 30 г. [30 g. "Forest Water" cologne]
    Лак для ногтей – 2 г. [2 g. nail polish]
    Зубной эликсир – 1 50 г. [150 mg. mouthwash]
    Лимонад – 1 50 г. [150 mg. lemon soda]
    But please stay away from your flatmates during this experience.

  61. Terribly sorry, vanya, for airing your dirty linen.

  62. Thank you so much for the Kharms link – it’s a fantastic story – and the Deleuze-debunking blog, which made me so glad that I have never sacrificed a minute of my life by reading any French philosopher more obscure than Barthes or Sartre (although some might say they’re bad enough). Although I did get a present of a book by Althusser last month, so I may not have escaped yet…

  63. Here are some pictures from Ilya Kabakov’s 1988 exhibition, Ten Characters, that mab mentioned above. From the Ronald Feldman Gallery blurb:

    Ten Characters is an installation consisting of two large, communal apartments, which include hallways
    and kitchens. Ten tenants inhabit these apartments, each in his or her own room, and each one has
    developed a very distinct personality. For example, one wants to travel in space and has built a vehicle
    for this purpose. Another tenant has never thrown away anything because he is afraid to lose the
    memories connected with each object.

  64. You can’t mash all those people together. Some of it is crap, some of it isn’t. Derrida writes the way he does because he’s writing about the way people write, and the holes in the idea that there is an authorial center. To write any other way would be intellectually hypocritical because it would be like an appeal to a historical way of writing (for what purpose?) or an admission that what he’s writing is wrong.
    For others to imitate that style of writing is kind of strange, though. The most enlightening book on him I’ve read was a short Japanese book, whose first chapter was titled “What Derrida Meant.” Naturally, something like that would get laughed out of most publishers in Europe or N. America.
    By the way, here’s something the late, great Larry Trask wrote on Kristeva’s “Le Langage, Cet Inconnu,” which is pretty amusing.
    ————-
    Re: Derrida on Saussure (was: Do other (written) languages than English have serial commas?)
    by R.L.Trask » Sun, 21 Sep 2003 23:52:05 GMT
    Among those followers is the egregious Julia Kristeva, Bulgaria’s
    revenge on France for some ancient defeat at football. Kristeva is
    among the French dimbulbs targeted by Sokal and Bricmont in their
    celebrated book.
    About ten minutes after defending her PhD, she was awarded a chair of
    linguistics in Paris. I guess academic progression works differently
    in France. Having received that chair, she then foolishly attempted
    to write about linguistics. Big mistake.
    Among her attempts is a volume purporting to be a textbok of
    linguistics and entitled _Le langage, cet inconnu_. Well, she
    certainly succeeds in demonstrating that the subject is unknown to
    her.
    All of the minuscule linguistic content is copied out of other
    people’s books, and from ancient books. The tiny bit of phonetics is
    copied from Saussure, for god’s sake. The only phonology is an
    unintelligible scrap of American structuralist phonology, copied
    incomprehendingly from an appalling American book of 1953, and
    garnished with some confused falsehoods of Kristeva’s own invention.
    There is no morphology. The syntax consists of two brief excerpts,
    the first on IC analysis and copied from an American book of the
    1940s, and the second copied from Syntactic Structures — which,
    dating from 1957, is the most recent source she uses.
    There is no semantics. There is no pragmatics. There is no
    discourse. There is no psycholinguistics. There is no acquisition.
    There is no neurolinguistics or disability. There is no
    sociolinguistics. There is no cognitive linguistics. There is no
    computational linguistics. There is no sign language. There is no
    historical linguistics. There is no writing systems. There is no
    typology or universals. There is no grammatical categories. There is
    no languages of the world.
    Most of the book consists of some haphazard remarks about the history
    of linguistics, some drivel on semiotics, and a long chapter on
    psychoanalysis — a topic admittedly neglected in most textbooks of
    linguistics.
    And somebody decided that this festering mess was worth translating
    into English. So, even if you can’t read French, you too can enjoy
    Kristeva’s discomfiture as she attempts to expound on a subject which
    is as familiar to her as the surface of Neptune.
    Larry Trask
    XXXX@XXXXX.COM

  65. Lovely, Mr Crown, that you found the photos. But there was also a wonderful packed kitchen that I recall with a sigh of nostalgia. Imagine those rooms packed with smoking, yammering New Yorkers and Russians. It was quite magical.

  66. God, I miss Larry Trask.
    Derrida writes the way he does because he’s writing about the way people write, and the holes in the idea that there is an authorial center.
    Yes, and I respect him more than I do the others. But I still don’t feel it’s worth the effort to read him.

  67. laughed out of most publishers
    There’s a For Beginners comic book style introduction aimed at undergrads.

  68. marc: Derrida writes the way he does because he’s writing about the way people write, and the holes in the idea that there is an authorial center. To write any other way would be intellectually hypocritical because it would be like an appeal to a historical way of writing (for what purpose?) or an admission that what he’s writing is wrong.
    Are you saying that his writing is full of holes because he’s writing about holes in writing ? I’m not sure what you mean here by “because”: it seems as if you’re briefly characterizing his motives for writing as he does. But if Derrida himself doesn’t believe in motives (I assume that an “authorical center”, i.e. an author, has motives), or believes they are irrelevant (to what ?), then he would not have thanked you for attributing to him the motive of wanting to avoid the appearance of having motives.
    When you are writing a book about children, there is no need to write like a child. Anybody can charge you with being “intellectually hypocritical”, despite your best efforts. You can’t avoid that by writing in such a way as to pretend you aren’t an author writing, but merely a channel for a Voice. That would really be an “appeal to a historical way of writing”: that of the Christian mystics. In more or less his first book La voix et le phénomène, Derrida identified holes in Husserl’s ideas about Präsenz without adding any extra holes to the subject by writing unintelligibly. The latter came later.

  69. The ‘parfaitement’ at the end of the story is just wonderful, straight from Hugh Grant’s repertoire.
    In the English translation the Russian ‘dvornik’(lit. street sweeper) is put as the ‘caretaker’, which is nicely caught.
    But there is a change in the name of one of Kharms’ characters, from Kulygin in the original to Kalugin in the translation. I wonder why?
    The Absurdist Monthly from which the English version is taken. Is it well-known?

  70. mab, I can’t find the kitchen. too bad – also that these pictures are so small. Ronald Feldman probably likes to sell the better ones.

  71. And in today’s Guardian, there’s an interview with Slavoj Žižek. They should really start paying me.

  72. The Absurdist Monthly from which the English version is taken. Is it well-known?
    Never heard of it, and I’m not linking to their translation because I think it’s good (I didn’t even read it all the way through)—it’s just the first one I found.

  73. Зубной эликсир – 1 50 г. [1.5 g. mouthwash]
    Лимонад – 1 50 г. [1.5 g. lemon soda]

    that won’t make the proper three ‘slugs’, I think it should be 150 mg for both, milligramme colloquially shortened to gramme.

  74. Grumbly Stu: Let me put it this way. If the point of what you’re writing is to say that the act of writing itself contains a significant paradox that calls into question the very ability to write, and your writing style doesn’t reflect your own awareness of that paradox, then you’re going to be open to charges of living in the real-world hut next to the grand theoretical mansion you’ve built.
    So it’s different from writing a book about children, because a book isn’t a child. The disconnect is hard to analogize (which is why Derrida cautions us about the danger of metaphor) because the writing he was talking about isn’t writing about one particular topic, but writing itself. And reading, too, naturally. What you and I (grrr, you see? there’s that disconnect, because although on one level you know what I’m talking about, I’m writing as though you are reading over my shoulder [presence!] even though I know perfectly well that you aren’t [not presence!], but to write “you’ll be reading this” is wrong, too) are doing right now.
    Blech. Anyway, the point is, what Derrida had to say is a lot more relevant for philosophers and people interested in the specifically ontological questions about language that were posed by Heidegger, Wittgenstein, etc., than it is for people interested in philology. One reason Derrida is associated with lit. crit. and theory and all that is because he (and other people perceived to be his cohorts) were rejected by philosophy departments in the US (in the sense that no one there was interested in reading him, much less teaching him), and his entry-point into US academe was through French departments and then English departments.
    But what he was doing was not lit. crit. at all, and it’s a huge mistake to try to read him that way. When he talks about “texts,” he’s not talking about literary texts only. He’s talking about “the locus of writing.” But people were getting handed photocopies of his writing in graduate English seminars and told, “Read this. It’s relevant.” But how on earth is someone who hasn’t read Plato, Hegel, Heidegger, etc. supposed to understand Derrida?
    But here you have this hapless group of people now coming out of US graduate programs in English, having been told Derrida is the end-all, be-all, but lacking the philosophical background and therefore not understanding diddly-squat. So what do they do? Naturally they pose. They imitate the dense style, with nervous glances around the room. They’re faking it, and since the people running the journals are also faking it, they’re accepting any plausible-looking crap that comes over the transom, since now it’s the dense style that is the only criterion for authenticity. (Con’t)

  75. [Didn't know there was a character limit per post.]
    Is it any wonder that *the* idea to come out of this mess is that “there is no meaning,” that everything is just a “game,” that appearance is all there is (=ideas which are used in Derrida, but not at all the way he meant)? Of course not. That’s what these people were doing. They were retroactively covering their asses, because they knew Sokal was coming.
    And that’s why people who are primarily interested in philology (and are intelligent enough to not to succumb to pseudo-intellectual posing) come away from Derrida with a kind of “meh” reaction. What he says isn’t of earth-shattering importance for them. It’s a lot more interesting for philosophers.

  76. [Never mind. Not a character limit. Figured out the problem causing my post to get cut in half.]

  77. marc: Congratulations. That is a clear and (as far as I have been able to figure out) accurate description of Derrida’s place in the scheme of things academic in America. I couldn’t agree with you more as to Derrida being relevant to philosophers rather than to bow-tied English department pseuds.
    I can now admit that in my comment I played dumb, in order to discover whether you would wheel out the lit.crit. bits. <*blushes prettily*>

  78. Stu: No problem.
    Of course, any time anyone presents a clear description of what Derrida said and meant, there will be at least one person who will jump up and say that that’s all wrong, that what he meant is that he didn’t mean anything, and that blah blah blah, thereby revealing only that they have come out of that school of thought that has as its first article of faith that “anything that makes sense is wrong.”
    This is as perverse a distortion of Derrida’s thought as I can think of, but it’s what passes for an understanding of him these days. Or, to be fair, that was the case in the 90s. I’ve been out of the loop since then, so maybe people have come to their collective senses in the intervening period.
    As for Zizek, the man’s the closest thing to a supermodel that philosophy has. Nice to look at, but don’t try to engage him intellectually, because only a total moron could think that seriously considering the proposition that Stalin might actually have been seriously misunderstood is anything more than a mildly interesting thought experiment. He plays on the edges of that kind of idea, though, because I think he knows that — like Sarah Palin — interest in him is primarily created by the “will he or won’t he commit?” nature of the things he says.

  79. that won’t make the proper three ‘slugs’, I think it should be 150 mg for both
    You’re right, of course; what was I thinking? I’ll emend the comment, because I wouldn’t want anyone to try it and get the wrong idea.

  80. You won’t catch me drinking toilet water and nail polish, I wasn’t born yesterday.

  81. drinking toilet water and nail polish
    let’s see what happens tomorrow, with all the cuts and eurocrisis, we’d better start learning Venichka’s ‘survival skills’.

  82. toilet water and nail polish–in English we call that “pruno.”

  83. I spent 2 or 3 years around 1980 reading Derrida, his sources, and some of the others. I liked some of the sources better than I liked the main current. I read D’s first four books. I thought the first was good, the second half good, the third so garbled that you couldn’t separate good from bad, and “The Pharmakon of Plato” in the fourth book was tremendously amusing but I have no idea whether it had any validity at all. I myself write all kinds of intellectual jokes, for example identifying Fiorello LaGuardia and Leopold Bloom, or speculating about a Nietzsche-Jane Austen marriage, and I love that kind of stuff, but did Derrida think he was doing more than that? His readers certainly did.
    One of the standard moves of recent academics of all kinds goes like this: 1. Start with some actual theory. 2. Prove that it is incoherent. 3. Claim that this proves your own theory, usually a skeptical one. There is no truth, everything is permitted. Often step 2 involves asserting an impossible standard for the verification of the the theory in step 1.
    Someone who didn’t want to prove that writing was impossible would just discard the original theory of writing and replace it by one less easily destroyed, possibly a more modest theory, or else by denying that the standard need be quite so rigorous.
    I ended up still admiring Foucault and Bourdieu, but Bourdieu isn’t really part of that crowd.
    I recently realized that the reason I couldn’t get very involved in that stuff is that I don’t think that philosophy should ever have tried to ground itself on a philosophy of the subject. Locke and Descartes had good reasons for what they did, but once Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and Hegel had done their work the situation was hopeless. Pretty soon you had Hitler and Stalin.

  84. Charles Perry says:

    The characterization of Derrida reminds my of when I started working for Rolling Stone and counter-intuitively found that I had to stop smoking pot. When I was stoned, my writing tended to be either nonsense or truisms. Or as I would say now, it was self-deconstructing.

  85. JE: I recently realized that the reason I couldn’t get very involved in that stuff is that I don’t think that philosophy should ever have tried to ground itself on a philosophy of the subject. Locke and Descartes had good reasons for what they did, but once Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and Hegel had done their work the situation was hopeless. Pretty soon you had Hitler and Stalin.
    Excellent sentiments, Sir ! Sloterdijk’s latest book Streß und Freiheit (edition suhrkamp, Sonderdruck) is a very entertaining take on that. It’s fairly short, being a transcript of an address he gave this year in Berlin. I know you “have issues” with German, so watch for it when a translation appears.

  86. rootlesscosmo says:

    This doesn’t have any baring–not the slightest–on housing in the USSR, during the 30′s or the 60′s or the 70′s. But this NY Times slide show
    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/07/10/nyregion/20110710VISUALss.html
    is worth looking at. Why, I wonder, are these miserable–though not universal, I grant–conditions “the fringes,” as a commenter said, while roomy suburban homes, or hip SoHo lofts, are in some sense mainstream?

  87. My main issue with German is inability to read it quickly or accurately. I’m at the level where I understand enough the first time through to be able get things precisely 180 degrees wrong.
    I’ll keep looking for Sloterdijk translations.

  88. And I’m taking recommendations.

  89. Two comments:
    1. Derrida wasn’t trying to prove writing is impossible, just that it contains an interesting paradox at its heart. That doesn’t prove that everything written is nonsense, any more than our lack of understanding of the fundamental forces of the universe prevents us from using a hammer and nail successfully. People who try to extrapolate from Derrida’s thought to “nothing makes sense” are doing the equivalent of arguing that trying to hang a picture on the wall is impossible because we haven’t found Higg’s boson.
    2. “Pretty soon you had Hitler and Stalin”: this is a joke, right?

  90. No, the transcendental subject led directly to genocide. The Armenian Holocaust also, the Young Turks were Kantians.

  91. The business about writing having “an interesting paradox at its heart” — this is only very interesting to those who demanded too much of writing, i.e. various over reaching philosophers and scientists. And it tends to be presented triumphantly as a one-size-fits-all analysis / description of pretty much everything. Going back to the beginning and excising the overreaching claims for language could have avoided all the soap opera.

  92. JE: No, the transcendental subject led directly to genocide. The Armenian Holocaust also, the Young Turks were Kantians.
    I’m afraid the connections, stated thus baldly, make about as much sense as “writing is impossible”. You might want to set out the arguments in greater detail.

  93. I assume he’s joking… but perhaps you’re joking too? I just can’t tell any more!

  94. Ho no, not joking. Forget about the Hitler bit, that’s more for the pit spectators. There’s something else here that really repays consideration. But it needs to be presented, as Sloterdijk does, without hysterics and hoopla – no guitar-smashing.

  95. It’s just self-evident.

  96. Again, while Derrida is no Kant, what he had to say was indeed of significance for philosophers, esp. those interested in language. The deflated feeling others get when they finally figure him out is because they expected something else, something literary. He was a philosopher, not a literary critic. (A statement complicated by the fact that his later fame was built on an image of him as a critic, and he gradually went in that direction.)
    Wittgenstein is an interesting contrast. What he had to say was of considerably less interest (did he actually say anything? maybe he just passed over himself in silence), and yet the Anglo-American establishment was falling over itself putting him on a pedestal. As far as I can tell, he was a mystic who tried to start a religion. And sort of succeeded.

  97. With Derrida, Lacan, and Althusser I had the feeling that, for unknown reasons which I found hard to respect, they were deliberately expressing their ideas in a precious and difficult way. I did a considerable amount of work on Derrida, a moderate amount on Lacan, and more or less none on Althusser, and it was the unforthcomingness of all three that made me decide to quit trying. In Derrida’s case, his first three books were successively worse, and everything I looked at beyond that point seemed worse still, though I didn’t really bother.
    Foucault commented both on Derrida and on his own earlier practice. He called the style of his and others’ obscure writings “the ontologization of literature” and at one point confessed that there were passages in some of his earlier books that he himself couldn’t read. His later books were pretty straightforward.

  98. JE: It’s just self-evident.
    Funny thing, that. A paradox is self-evidently paradoxical – otherwise it wouldn’t be a paradox. The truth is not self-evidently true, however.
    Thus it seems paradoxically evident that whoever wants evidence should devote more time to thinking about paradoxes than searching for truth.

  99. Charles Perry says:

    The late Walter Kaufmann used to tell his Nietzsche & Existentialism class that Heidegger wasn’t an existentialist, he was the inventor of modern academic philosophy, which to Kaufmann consisted of inventing a rebarbative, murderously complex but internally consistent jargon for saying obvious things. Thus you create a hermeneutics industry.

  100. J. W. Brewer says:

    The late Ayn Rand was supposedly of the opinion that Hitler (and I believe Lenin/Stalin as well) was all Kant’s fault, although I expect that JE’s account would be more nuanced and subtle. http://www.lewrockwell.com/gordon/gordon13.html is an entertainingly scathing review (from a source which might perhaps itself be controversial-to-crackpottish) of a booklength exposition of this argument by one of Miss Rand’s acolytes.

  101. As I recall, Adorno et all were down on Kant too. So: fuck you, Kant!

  102. You just missed a change to be nuanced and subtle, JE. This is serious shit !!
    Thank you for your attention.

  103. “Missed a chance”, I mean.

  104. price comparison says:

    Heconstrued physical days to include out hisbanned signs buyuk

  105. dosage instructions says:

    Credentials was published with the brotherhood of citing open prosecutors to teach the thinking inhibitors of true systems and allow the photo lumber in the unstable millions ,

  106. Wow, as if on cue. The universe does its best impression of obscurantist academic writing.

  107. David Marjanović says:

    the classic recipe for The Komsomol Girl’s Tears (“Слезы комсомолки”)

    X-D Боже Господи. *headshake*

    About ten minutes after defending her PhD, she was awarded a chair of
    linguistics in Paris. I guess academic progression works differently
    in France.

    Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

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