Le due torre - Bologna on Flickr.
I don’t need a book to know how to judge you.
Lovis Corinth (1858-1926)
From Short Stories/Tall Tales
Mistinguett by Truus, Bob & Jan too! on Flickr.
Slaves: The Capital that Made Capitalism -
Racialized chattel slaves were thecapital that made capitalism. While most theories of capitalism set slavery apart, as something utterly distinct, because under slavery, workers do not labor for a wage, new historical research reveals that for centuries, a single economic system encompassed both the plantation and the factory.
At the dawn of the industrial age commentators like Rev. Thomas Malthus could not envision that capital — an asset that is used but not consumed in the production of goods and services — could compound and diversify its forms, increasing productivity and engendering economic growth. Yet, ironically, when Malthus penned his Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798, the economies of Western Europe already had crawled their way out of the so-called “Malthusian trap.”The New World yielded vast quantities of “drug foods” like tobacco, tea, coffee, chocolate, and sugar for world markets. Europeans worked a little bit harder to satiate their hunger for these “drug foods.” The luxury-commodities of the seventeenth century became integrated into the new middle-class rituals like tea-drinking in the eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century, these commodities became a caloric and stimulative necessity for the denizens of the dark satanic mills. The New World yielded food for proletarians and fiber for factories at reasonable (even falling) prices. The “industrious revolution” that began in the sixteenth century set the stage for the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Now the operator’s joggling the choke-lever so The Zipper stutters back and forth, forward and backward, making N.C.’s top car spin around and around on its hinges. His colleague’s t-shirt has a stoned Ninja Turtle on it, toking on a joint. There’s a distended A# scream from the whirling cage, as if Native C.’s getting slow-roasted. I summon saliva to step in and really say something stern, but at this point they start bringing her down. The operator is deft at his panel; the car’s descent is almost fluffy. His hands on the levers are a kind of parody of tender care. The descent takes forever—ominous silence from Native Companion’s car. The two carnies are laughing and slapping their knee. I clear my throat twice. There’s a trundly sound as Native Companion’s car gets locked down at the platform. Jiggles of movement in the cage, and the door’s latch slowly turns. I expect whatever husk of a human being emerges from the car to be hunched and sheet-white, dribbling fluids. Instead, she sort of bounds out:
"That was fucking great. Joo see that? Son bitch spun that car sixteen times, joo see it?" This woman is native Midwestern, from my hometown. My prom date a dozen years ago. Now married, with three children, teaches water-aerobics to the obese and infirm. Her color is high. Her dress looks like the world’s worst case of static cling. She’s still got her chewing gum in, for God’s sake. She turns to the carnies: "You sons bitches that was fucking great. Assholes." The colleague is half-draped over the operator; they’re roaring with laughter. Native Companion has her hands on her hips sternly, but she’s grinning. Am I the only one who was in touch with the manifestly overt sexual-harassment element in this whole episode? She takes the steel stairs down three at a time and starts up the hillside toward the food booths. There is no sanctioned path up the incredibly steep hill on the Hollow’s western side. Behind us the operator calls out: "They don’t call me King of The Zipper for nuthin’, sweet thang." She snorts and calls back over her shoulder "Oh you and whose fucking platoon?" and there’s more laughter behind us.
I’m having a hard time keeping up on the slope. “Did you hear that?” I ask her.
"Jesus I thought I bought it for sure at the end that was so great. Fucking cornholers. But’d you see that one spin up top at the end, though?"
"Did you hear that Zipper King comment?" I say. She has her hand around my elbow and is helping me up the hillside’s slick grass. "Did you sense something kind of sexual-harassmentish going on through that whole little sick exercise?"
"Oh for fuck’s sake Slug it was fun." (Ignore the nickname.) "Son of a bitch spun that car eighteen times."
"They were looking up your dress. You couldn’t see them, maybe. They hung you upside down at a great height and made your dress fall up and ogled you. They shaded their eyes and made comments to each other. I saw the whole thing."
"Oh for fuck’s sake."
I slip a little bit and she catches my arm. “So this doesn’t bother you? As a Midwesterner, you’re unbothered? Or did you just not have an accurate sense of what was going on back there?”
"So if I noticed or I didn’t, why does it have to be my deal? What, because there’s assholes in the world I don’t get to ride on The Zipper? I don’t get to ever spin? Maybe I shouldn’t ever go to the pool or ever get all girled up, just out of fear of assholes?" Her color is still high.
"So I’m curious, then, about what it would have taken back there, say, to have gotten you to lodge some sort of complaint with the Fair’s management?"
"You’re so fucking innocent, Slug," she says. (The nickname’s a long story; ignore it.) "Assholes are just assholes. What’s getting hot and bothered going to do about it except keep me from getting to have fun?" She has her hand on my elbow this whole time—the hillside’s a bitch.
"This is potentially key," I’m saying. "This may be just the sort of regional politico-sexual contrast the swanky East-Coast magazine is keen for. The core value informing a kind of willed politico-sexual stoicism on your part is your prototypically Midwestern appreciation of fun—"
"Buy me some pork skins, you dipshit."
"—whereas on the East Coast, politico-sexual indignation is the fun. In New York, a woman who’d been hung upside down and ogled would go get a whole lot of other women together and there’d be this frenzy of politico-sexual indignation. They’d confront the ogler. File an injunction. Management’d find itself litigating expensively—violation of a woman’s right to nonharassed fun. I’m telling you. Personal and political fun merge somewhere just east of Cleveland, for women."
Native Companion kills a mosquito without looking at it. “And they all take Prozac and stick their finger down their throat too out there. They might ought to try just climbing on and spinning and ignoring assholes and saying Fuck ‘em. That’s pretty much all you can do with assholes.”
"This could be integral." —
David Foster Wallace, Getting Away From Already Pretty Much Being Away From It All
Fucking love The Zipper.
Composizioni urbane by margotti_giulia on Flickr.