The No-Brows

Didier Baa is the world’s leading authority on the no-brow movement. “The first thing to remember about me is that I am never sheepish,” said Didier,whom we met on the Left Bank in a small café on a gray winter’s day of 2011. “But you did not come here to listen to me talk about myself. I don’t know how they have done it, but the no-brows have accomplished the feat of being able to go under the low-brows while remaining over the high-brows. They have used the power of nothing, the power of emptiness, to catch both the low-brows and the high-brows in a delicate yet powerful pincer movement. Neither knows quite what has hit them or where it has come from. This is because it has come from nowhere. The no-brows have entirely given up the brow. This has bestowed on them great freedom and great power because they have nothing to lose.” Didier Baa gestured in a way at once anxious and emphatic. “You know, what is most remarkable is that you can Google the no-brows and what the search engine finds is absolutely nothing. The no-brows simply do not participate. That is their perfection, that they have no need to participate because they are looking for no reward, no power. They elude the high-brows, the middle-brows, the low-brows, even the search engines. This makes them very powerful.” “Can I meet one ? I’m very intrigued?” “Ah, I’m so sorry. It is, how do you say it, a sorrow? But I am the closest that you can get, “ responded Didier, tenting his fingers together. “Why... read more

Elmer Greengold

Greengold’s Folly “Elmer Greengold is a throwback to the days when people tookhousekeeping seriously and political economy meant something.” “Elmer Greengold is a pain in the ass.” “Both are right,” laughs Elmer Greengold, himself, “I have a fewsimple notions, which really aren’t so simple and I speak my mind. We’re the world’s leading producer of consumer goods. We’re alsothe world’s leading producer of consumer bads, not to mention badconsumers. We emphasize the first and pretend the second doesn’texist. That’s really why we produce so many bad consumers, becausewe have no good way of talking about consumer bads. We measure theGross National Product (GNP), but we don’t measure the GrossNational Problem (GNP). We need some sort of numbers for the GrossNational Numbness (GNN), that is, what we all feel, but won’t letourselves know we feel. I’m really talking about what I’ve come tocall the ‘shadow economy’. I can only tell you that it is ordersof magnitude greater than the barter economy. We don’t know what’sgoing on in most of it. We need to get it on the books. It’s asimple fact of life in a country as bureaucratized as ours thataccountability gets reduced to countability. Narrative justdoesn’t cut it any more. I’m just trying to count some thingswe’ve never wanted to count or let count before. Of course it’scrude, but so is any new kind of measurement. They laughed at me when I first talked about this in Pittsburgh in 1967, but I wasjust a graduate student then. I don’t think they’re laughing anymore. They’re not making steel and they don’t know what to make,just what they want to buy,... read more

A Nobel Laureate

Alan Gorschak was out pulling turnips in the garden behind his homewhen the call came from Stockholm telling him he had been awardedthis year’s Nobel Prize for Reverie. “At least, I think they wereturnips,” said Mr. Gorschak. His wife, Alice, a pleasant lookinglarge framed woman in her late fifties, chimed in with, “Probably,Alan should have stopped driving years ago. But the car seems toknow where it’s going and it gets him there. We always buyAmerican. We’re not sure foreign cars could do this, not on ourroads anyway.” “Of course, I was surprised when I got the call,” said Mr.Gorschak. “I hadn’t thought about the Nobel Prize in years, notthat I could tell you what I have been thinking about. Theparticular reverie they cite is a fugue state I did at least twentyyears ago. I was either a praying mantis or a katydid. I can’tremember which. I went on that way for a whole summer. It waspretty good until the nights started to get cool. I’ll tell you itchanged my point of view about a lot of things. Of course, a lothas happened to me since then.” Peter Hilfenstein, currently Scrimshaw Professor of Reverie andRhetoric at Green University in Providence and author of theauthoritative study, “REM, Reverie and RPM” says that he isdelighted with the selection. “No one can touch Alan’s fugue‘states. There’s been nothing like it since Bach. What’s soastounding is the logic, the clarity, the strictness, almostasperity, exploding into a fabulous realm of freedom. Animate,inanimate, organic, inorganic, it makes no difference to Alan. He’s even done plastics and styrofoam. But his recent work istruly staggering. He started doing... read more

The Vuck Stops Here

Although it has never been seen, scientists are in no doubt aboutthe existence of the northern unspotted vuck. “It’s like abiological version of the Stealth bomber,” says Dr. AlbertTollinger of the University of Minnesota, “with two distinguishingpoints. First of all, it works. Second, far from being harmful ordangerous, it may in the long run prove very beneficial to man. Ithink we can state categorically that, even if many humans areanti-vuck, the vuck is not anti-human.” Dr. Seth Guildenlily of Harvard University agrees with Dr.Tollinger. “There’s no doubt about the vuck. The vuck is forreal. The evidence is overwhelming. Dr. Tollinger has done agreat service for science. He was the first one to notice and he’shad to put up with a lot. Acceptance never comes easy when it’s aquestion of a fundamental discovery that calls for a paradigmshift.” Dr. Regis Spikenard of Yale concurs. “We don’t have all the piecesof the puzzle yet, but we can see the outline. There is no doubtthat the vuck has evolved along with man, that the evolution hasbeen faster than we biologists thought possible, or that it is nowin serious danger. The vuck is not just one little black airbornenocturnal creature who probably has a huge cerebellum and veryadvanced frontal lobes. The significance of the vuck goes farbeyond the vuck itself. We don’t need to see it. It’s enough thatwe’ve inferred it. If we lose the vuck, we’ve lost the wholeballgame.” “I’m excited about it,” exclaimed Dr. Spikenard. “I’m passionateabout it. I’m committed. And so are the kids. Anyone who caresabout the future, has not just to care about the vuck, but to loveit.... read more
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