Brussels

Visionary Materialism
May 19, 2011

Illuminations By Arthur Rimbaud Translated by John Ashbery (W.W. Norton, 167 pp., $24.95) I. Arthur Rimbaud wrote the texts known as Illuminations between around 1873 and 1875. In those years he lived in London, and in Paris, and at home with his mother and sisters in northern France, and in Stuttgart. In London, George Eliot was writing Daniel Deronda; in Paris, Henry James was writing Roderick Hudson. The majestic Nineteenth Century was everywhere.

Darkness Falls
March 11, 2011

Barack Obama’s policy toward the Libyan struggle for freedom is no longer a muddle. It is now a disgrace. Here is what his administration and its allies have told the world, and the Libyan dictator, and the Libyan rebels, in recent days.

Europe is Not Entitled to Hector Any Country
January 13, 2011

In the circles in which I move there are many people who are quite snarky about Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman. I've never really understood why. Maybe it’s just because he wants higher taxes than they do. But as an explicator of economic realities he as good as they come. And in a New York Times Magazine essay about the grim financial status of contemporary Europe he has made it all crystal clear. Most of the members of the European Union have made a tremendous mess of their fiscal situation, and many are in desperate trouble or near- desperate trouble looking into the future.

The Rise of Femicide
December 29, 2010

During the last decade, Guatemala has experienced an epidemic of woman-killing. The bodies are everywhere: turning up in ditches on the side of the road, on the curbs of city streets, and in wooded ravines, often with signs of mutilation and rape.

Goodbye to Berlin
August 30, 2010

In early February, the top financial officials of seven major industrialized countries gathered in Canada to mull the state of the world economy. To grease their interactions, the Canadians had created an intimate setting in Iqaluit, an Inuit town near the Arctic Circle. A planning document waxed on about fireside chats at a cozy inn and decreed that the attire would be casual.

Baroness Ashton Is Not Coming To The Party
August 29, 2010

Maybe it's an admission of her utter irrelevance as kind-of foreign minister of the European Union, maybe she just wants her own show. But Baroness Ashton is not coming to Hillary Clinton's Middle East confab, no she is not. I wrote about her two or three times a while back, and not admiringly. And her performance since then, even in the eyes of official Europe sitting in Brussels, has not brought her many but also not any fans. She is one of those international bureaucrats whose life is travel, travel, travel. And pronounce, pronounce, pronounce.

England vs. USA
June 08, 2010

As someone who, like Luke, grew up in England and now thinks of himself as an American, I can sympathize with his decision not to watch on Saturday, out of a feeling that there's just Too Much There.  I also strongly agree that America is awesome. People have an attitude of openness to possibilities, and to improving their lives, that you don't find anywhere else. There's less cynicism and poorly-disguised jealousy when good things happen to someone else. American girls are more interested than are English girls in English men—and some even play soccer.

The Only Really Good News For The American Economy Is The Rise Of The Dollar. Have A Wonderful Time In Europe This Summer.
May 07, 2010

Actually, the insolvency of Greece also made rough waves in America. Shortly before 3 p.m., the major stock indices (S & P, Dow and NASDAQ) were about to register 10% southwards. Not good news. And the fact they all ended the market day at roughly 3.5% down was only relatively good news, very relatively. This was not a good week for Wall Street. Of course, it was a disastrous week for Greece, which, mirabili dictu, avoided default only because the professional Eurocrats in Brussels and in other boring cities where “Europe” is headquartered went into hysterics.

L’Affaire to Remember
April 21, 2010

Paris The impish headlines in Le Canard enchaîné, the satirical weekly that happens to be the most informative newspaper in France, rarely translate well. An exception might be the recent front-page lead: “SARKO EST D’UNE RUMEUR MASSACRANTE.” This play on the expression être d’une humeur massacrante—roughly, “angry enough to kill”—concerns the distemper of Nicolas Sarkozy over a certain rumeur massacrante (“foul rumor”) swirling around the French president’s two-year marriage to former supermodel Carla Bruni.

And Now We Hear From the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg
March 22, 2010

We hadn't heard from Jean Asselborn, the foreign minister of 
Luxembourg. But the European Union was still meeting in Brussels, and the Baroness Ashton was still talking.

 Asselborn wanted to be heard. So he was. He told the government of Israel
that “Jerusalem is not Tel Aviv.” Doesn't the foreign minister understand that Luxembourg is
nothing? Nothing but a footnote to the emerging nothingness of the E.U. itself.


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