Tag Archives: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Notecard of Knowledge: Mamagallismo

flattery and high-sounding language used with deflationary intent

His [Gabriel Garcia Marquez] experience there [Paris], and elsewhere in Europe, seemed to reinforce his persistent sense of himself as a costeno—a Columbian of the Caribbean, “half Indian and half gypsy” as a friend described his looks, with the costeno’s quality of mamagallismo, ready to deal with the world by taking a piss. (Greenburg 2009, 19)

His experience there, and elsewhere 1 in Europe, seemed to reinforce his persistent 2 sense of himself as a costeno—a Columbian of the Caribbean, “half Indian and half gypsy” as a friend described his looks, with the costeno’s quality of mamagallismo,  3 ready to deal with the world by taking a piss.

50 words reduced to 24. 1. Unless there were significant differences in his experiences in Paris and other places in Europe, then this qualification is unnecessary. 2. A sense of self is by definition persistent. If it is a fleeting sense of self, then it is not important enough to warrant this sentence. 3. All of the above is interesting filler and not at all helpful if the reader knows what costeno means. I am increasingly decided that there needs to be some burden on the reader to use contextual clues of Google, neither of which are difficult.

Here is some mamagalismo for dissection.

During the past 50 years, U.S. leadership in space activities has benefited the global economy, enhanced our national security, strengthened international relationships, advanced scientific discovery, and improved our way of life. Space capabilities provide the United States and our allies unprecedented advantages in national decision-making, military operations, and homeland security. Space systems provide national security decision-makers with unfettered global access and create a decision advantage by enabling a rapid and tailored response to global challenges. Moreover, space systems are vital to monitoring strategic and military developments as well as supporting treaty monitoring and arms control verification. Space systems are also critical in our ability to respond to natural and man-made disasters and monitor longterm environmental trends. Space systems allow people and governments around the world to see with clarity, communicate with certainty, navigate with accuracy, and operate with assurance. Maintaining the benefits afforded to the United States by space is central to our national security, but an evolving strategic environment increasingly challenges U.S. space advantages. Space, a domain that no nation owns but on which all rely, is becoming increasingly congested, contested, and competitive. These challenges, however, also present the United States with opportunities for leadership and partnership. Just as the United States helped promote space security in the 20th century, we will build on this foundation to embrace the opportunities and address the challenges of this century. The National Security Space Strategy charts a path for the next decade to respond to the current and projected space strategic environment. Leveraging emerging opportunities will strengthen the U.S. national security space posture while maintaining and enhancing the advantages the United States gains from space. (Clapper & Gates 2011)

The first thing to note is the authors of this passage. One is the Secretary of Defense and the other is Director of National Intelligence. That should raise a red flag. Not that everything coming from them is worthless, but the odds are good. The unclassified summary is not only a summary, which in DC means it is watered down jeremiads serving an interest, but it is also unclassified which is the same as a well-gin and tonic with the ice melted. The main problem with the content of what they are saying is obfuscation. Satellite and space technology does not create clear eyes, certain communications, accurate navigations nor assured operations.

What space technology does is increase data. How we then deploy and filter that data may help achieve some of those objectives. Clear communications? When was the last time communications was ever clear? ‘No’ is the simplest word in our language and yet we still acquit rapists because the ‘no’ uttered by their victims was not clear enough. The best space technology can do is increase the odds of something. Maybe our navigational charts showing the sandbars outside of North Carolina are now only two hours old instead of two days, but that is very different than saying we know where the sandbars are.


Clapper, James R. and Robert M. Gates. (2011). U.S. National security space strategy: Unclassified summary. click here.

Greenburg, Michael. (2009, July 16). Looking for the patriarch. New York Review of Books, LVI (12), 19-21.

Polysllabic Spree

Cover of "House of Leaves"
Cover of House of Leaves

Nate suggested a while ago that I do what Nick Hornby does, or at least did, and each month compose a column listing books bought and books read and then some nonsense hopefully related and uniting the contents of the lists.  Hornby even published two books, albeit they are both small books, of these columns and I find the essays to be meandering and rarely about the lists.  In any case, this post will be a third of the task: a list of books bought.

I am currently in Ann Arbor for the usual summer gig and there is a store here which is my favorite book store of all the places across the US.  Some of you know about my obsession with Verso Books.  They publish high quality scholarship and their books have a certain aesthetic to them that I cannot avoid.  But it’s hard to find their books because they are exactly what the American book consumer is not purchasing.  Shaman Drum Bookstore is easily the best place I have found to find portions of the Verso catalogue.  My job finally settled enough to-day for me to venture out there and they are closing.  All books are half off so I had to indulge some.  As much as Chase and Wells Fargo would allow me to indulge, anyways.

Brooks, Daphne A.  (2007).  Grace. NY: Continuum.  This is part of 33 1/3 series where each ook is about an influential album.  This book is about Jeff Buckley’s Grace album.  It’s an enjoyable enough album, I thought I was going to enjoy it more.  The main track on it is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.  You know it.  It is that one song on West Wing when CJ Craig’s bodyguard (Mark Harmon) is killed.  Oh yeah, THAT song.  I still shiver when I hear it.  In any case the book was $5 so I picked it up.  I do enjoy reading about music.  The book about punk rock Ursa introduced me to, Please Kill Me (I think) and Bang Your Head are easily some of my favorite reads ever.

Hampton, Howard.  (2007).  Born in Flames: Termite dreams, dialectical fairy tales, and pop apocalypses. Cambridge:  Harvard Press.  A subtitle like that how can I not buy it?  Plus the cover is gorgeous.  It talks some about my favorite book of criticism (one of my favorite books) of all time Lester Bang’s Psychotic Reactions and Carbeurator Dung.

Now for the Verso Books, all published in London.

Sarlo, Beatriz.  (1993).  Jorge Luis Borges: A writer on the edge. I have read zero Borges.  I continually come across refrences to him so he always make my list of books to read.  It’s a Verso book.  It’s about art.  It’s about avant-garde writing.  Borges is listed as the main reference for what is my favorite book of all time, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves and that makes Borges worth investigation.  Plus, It’s a Verso book that was half price.

Elbaum, Mark.  (2002).  Revolution in the air: Sixties radicals turn to Lenin, Mao and Che. An interesting subtitle.  A Verso book.  It promises to fill in a certain gap in what I know about, radical formation in the US and its turn to Marxist analysis.  The Swede sent me a text yesterday that she ran into a bike mob in Minneapolis and the cops looked tired, hot, and pissed.  Critical Mass.  Fuck I love the radical community in Minneapolis.

Sturrock, John.  (1998).  The word from Paris: Essays on modern French thinkers and writers. French thinkers: Althusser, Lacan, Derrida and Foucault are just the most exciting of the ones in here.  And that is just Part I.  Part II is about writers, which looking over the names and resumes of the names I take Sturrock means fiction writers.  I am always on the look for short essays about some of these folk to serve as a memory jogger, a little refresher course to lift some of the cobwebs.

There we have the list of books bought to-day.  I was working on 100 year sof Solitude by GGM.  For days I have been fighting the temptation to put it down, only to hang on based on the prestige GGM has as a writer.  I doubt I will have the fortitude to not put it down to-morrow though.  After all I will be rooting for the USA to beat the Brazilian team and that struggle probably mirrors, in some odd way, the struggle I will take on as I defend GGM as not one of the 20th centuries best writers.  In my mind there is some parallel.

On another tangential note, I am doing a good job of aping Hornby’s articles, The Swede did make the NorthStar Roller Girls for next season.  That is very exciting.  I am happy for her.  You should be too.

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