A quote on contemporary politics

“Our civilization’s destiny depends on climate change, migrations, inequality and globalization, four forces that escape the logic of frontiers and that can only be controlled in a collective effort, without fanatism or demagogy.”

Xavier Mas de Xaxàs in an op-ed piece on the French presidential elections, La Vanguardia, May 6, 2017


Xavier Mas de Xaxàs (Barcelona, 1964) is a graduate in Information Science of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and in Contemporary History of Universitat de Barcelona. He started as an intern at Europa Press [news agency], from where he transferred to La Vanguardia [newspaper].  During his career he has covered mainly international news: the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification, the Balkans conflicts, the first Gulf War in Kurdistan as well as Russia and Chechnya are part of his journalistic baggage. He was La Vanguardia’s US correspondent between 1996 and 2002, a period during which he covered stories such as the Lewinsky scandal, the 2000 Presidential Elections that were decided by the Supreme Court, and the 9/11 attacks. Nowadays he works as a reporter on local news and an analysts for La Vanguardia and other media. The outcome of his US experience is the essay La sonrisa americana [The American smile] (Mondador, 2003).

This blogger is a keen follower of Mas de Xaxàs’ columns.

SOURCE: La Vanguardia, May 6, 2017, p. 10 [printed edition] (quote); Planeta (biographical information)


Personal readings: B. Lynn’s long halftime walk (favorite quotes)

“You know what’s funny,” she said, “everybody around here’s such a major conservative till they get sick, get screwed over by their insurance company, their job goes over to China or whatever, and they’re like, ‘Oooooh, what happened? I thought America was just the greatest country ever and I’m such a good person, why is all this terrible shit happening to me?’…”       (Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, p. 95)

Billy has noticed that audiences don’t seem to mind anyway. All the fakeness just rolls right off them, maybe because the nonstop sales job of American life has installed in them exceptionally high thresholds for sham, puff, spin, bullshit, and outright lies, in other words for advertising in all its forms. Billy himself never noticed how fake it all is until he’d done time in a combat zone. (p. 131)

This blogger hasn’t been overwhelmed by the book, but he likes how Ben Fountain renders a convincing portrait of Americans -under the George W. Bush presidency, but it could also be under Trump- who don’t belong to the liberal, East Coast establishment, and how he uses the right language register according to his characters’ origins, level of education, social status, etc. The novel has been translated to Spanish and Catalan.

Quote of the Day: Knausgaard – Dylan

(From a 1988 discussion among students about pop music groups:)

‘What about Bob Dylan then? He’s got such good lyrics! Ha ha ha! Yes, how he didn’t get the Noble Prize is a scandal.’

Karl Ove Knausgaard, Some Rain Must Fall (My Struggle: 5), p. 141                                   (originally published in Norwegian in 2010, in English in 2015)


Quote on a writer’s ideal neighborhood

Even if my Manhattan productivity is powered by a sociopathic illusion of my own limitlessness, I’m thankful for it, at least when I’m writing. There’s a reason so many writers once lived here, beyond the convenient laundromats and the take-out food, the libraries and cafés.

Zadie Smith

Though she gets to the conclusion that all of them live in Brooklyn now.

SOURCE: Zadie Smith, “Find Your Beach”, The New York Review of Books, Oct. 23, 2014

Quote of the Day

Illustration by Jillian Tamaki (c) The New York Times

“And if a book is humorless, I

want it to be as good as

José Saramago.”

Rachel Kushner in the “By the Book” interview of the NYT’s Sunday Book Review, answering the question “What kinds of stories are you drawn to?”.

Source: nytimes.com Feb. 6, 2014