Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Agony of Mammon: The Imperial Global Economy Explains Itself to the Membership in Davos, Switzerland byLewis Lapham (Verso, 75 pages)

The annual World Economic Forum was just held again at an exclusive ski resort in Switzerland. If you've ever wanted a short peek at what these meetings are like, I highly recommend this book, by the Harper's editor who Molly Ivins once called the "most incisive essayist of our time." A mantle that few could challenge him for. The essay is written in a very high-minded style that conveys just the right kind of satiric regard for a gathering of the elite, without distancing you from its participants. As a Boston Brahmin Lapham is a practiced appreciator of the good things in life who sees through all the flash and glitter (without getting too distracted by all the business buzzwigs and pseudosophs) to all the economic buncom that lies beneath, without having to relay a kind of combative resentfullness that a populist like, say Jim Hightower or Michael Moore might resort to at this resort. (Molly Ivins, I'm guessing would have much more tact, even if her rapier wit would eviscerate the plutogogues and castrate the beau sabreurs much later.)

But don't deduce from all this wordplay that Lapham himself resorts to sesquipedalianism to make his point. He's too fluid and certain in his observations to have to resort to that. It's a fine read, and now that it's a few years old, quite cheap if you look it up on ABE books.

(As for me, well you can probably tell that I've also been dipping into David Grambs' wonderful book, Dimboxes, Epopts, and Other Quidams: Words to Describe Life's Indescribable People to find some of those wonderful words.)
Here are the chants I created for today's anti-war march:

"Stop the War before it wrecks us
Send the Loonies back to Texas."

"People are dead, injured, tired and sick--
It's time to impeach George and Dick."

"No more blood for gasoline...
Bring them home to build Nawleens"