The Harvard Law Record recently did a profile piece on me, “From Law School to Novelist and Art Critic.”
Alexander Boldizar ’99 became recognized by Slovakia’s president as the “first Slovak citizen to graduate from Harvard Law School” when, as he puts it, “small country nepotism” got him back the citizenship he’d abandoned in 1989 (he thought it would be unsafe to keep it during a visit to the crumbling Berlin Wall). Since then, he has managed an art gallery in Bali, established a flourishing career in editing and freelance writing, and has continued to seek publication of his magnum opus, The Ugly, a satirical novel about a dispossessed Siberian tribe that sends one of its members, Muzhduk, to learn the ways of lawyers from HLS, a plotline which helps express Boldizar’s frustrations with law and legal reasoning. Below, Boldizar writes on his path from the law to novelist and art critic, followed by an excerpt from The Ugly.
Read more on their site.
Reprinted from Liberty Magazine (October 2009)
Over the years the people I’ve met who self-identify as “anarchists” tend to be among the dumbest and the smartest people I’ve had the pleasure or displeasure of knowing. Very few reasonable people attach that label to themselves. In an attempt to avoid being lumped with the dumbest, I thought I’d distill my reasons for doing so, from the least to the most important.
1. Anarchism as the conscience of law. Given democratic notions of legitimacy, the fewer people who believe in “the rule of law” (i.e., the more who believe it is just a veiled imposition of power), the more transparent the veil, and the more the law has to obey its own rules in order to maintain legitimacy. When rule-of-law marketing and propaganda are insufficient to create legitimacy, the powerful have to limit the arbitrary use of their power and shrink the number of cases they can treat as extraordinary. Anarchists weaken the faith element within law, and by doing so force it to obey its own rules.
Continue reading The Happy Anarchist
Three cheers to Wikileaks! That is what journalism was supposed to be before it became News Incorporated.
According to the New York Times, “The French government joined others in condemning the disclosure of diplomatic documents. Paris would stand with the United States and against the publication, which threaten “democratic sovereignty and authority.”
So giving information to the people undermines democracy? Authority, I get, clearly it does. But democracy? “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both.” ~ James Madison
Continue reading Wikileeks soup, and the governments who assessed and ate it
An old post that I’m bumping back up to the top because of the interest it has generated…
In finishing up my new science fiction novel I went through a lot of research on Laplace’s Demon. In the process, I stumbled onto the computational limit of the universe. Based on the minimum amount of time you need to move data across the Planck length, at the speed of light, there’s a limit to the computational power of the universe that’s about 10-to-the-power-of-120 bits (actually 10^120 operations on 10^90 bits of data). Anything needing more data can’t be computed in the fifteen billion years or so that the universe has existed so far. Calculating the location of every atom in the universe would require more than 10^120. Ergo, omniscience is impossible even for a computing organism the size and age of the universe.
Continue reading Accidental Proof that God Does Not Exist
The New York Times just had an article about search engine optimization. Apparently my headlines are all wrong. I need Taylor Momsen, though I have no idea who she is. I need “Jon Stewart Slams Glenn Beck.” At least I know who John Stewart is. I’ve never used Google Trends or Omniture or what have you. I know it’s old fashioned, I know “news” is just code for advertising and propaganda, but, still, I’d like to at least maintain the pretense. When you have Sears partnering with AOL to create a news site that only runs good news, called Good News Now or GNN, that’s a Disney dream — not just because it’s sickly sweet, but because that sweetness is always a wrapper for advertising. As TechCrunch writes, get ready to barf.
A commenter says perhaps that’s a welcome relief from the current “you’re surrounded by terrorists and child rapists panic Panic PANIC NOW!!” news system, but media like Fox News seem to have blended them into an algorithm, ten minutes of panic panic, ten of the world’s getting worse, and ten of “elderly couple tie the knot.” Who’s left to confront power?
Continue reading “Headless Body in Topless Bar” vs “Lady Gaga”
First a rant — forgive me, I’m flying and can’t help myself but marvel at the magnificently low IQ of the people in charge of airport security. Because the latest attempt to bring down an airplane involved starting a fire in the last hour of the flight, now we can’t get out of our seats during the last hour. When the attempt included a shoe, everyone’s shoes got checked. After the liquid plot, liquids. Always fighting the last “war,” no matter how ridiculous a category.
If anything, after 911 airport security should have been DECREASED, except for bomb sniffing dogs, as now passengers will mob and kill any hijacker on sight instead of obeying like sheep and waiting for the authorities to handle it, as they were taught to before.
Continue reading Terrorists and bladders
After tearing a tendon in my wrist I found myself running up the 2,830-step natural stairmaster behind my house called the Grouse Grind. Though I’ve always disliked cardio, there’s something surprisingly pleasant in the hour-long vertical hike — what, between the trees and view and the beer at the end of it. Okay, well, to be honest the hike isn’t pleasant at all, but the beer at the end, that’s worth it. Those post-hike endorphins become a magical ingredient when mixed with the beer, a slow-earned brew that can only be enjoyed the hard way. (I tried taking the gondola once, and the beer was definitely mediocre without the endorphins — but with them, I’d rank their brew higher than the finest hop-houses in Prague, better than the best beerswills in Brussels.)
Continue reading Grouse Grinch — Or Asshole Customer?
Reprinted from C-Arts Magazine, September 2009.
The desire for security stands against every great and noble enterprise. —Tacitus
In New York City you can ge
t a ticket for sitting on a milk crate or taking up two seats on a subway or putting on a puppet show visible from the street or climbing a tree or driving a taxi while wearing shorts. NYPD officers walk through the stairwells of housing projects where crack gangs
once ruled, not with drug dogs but
with decibel-meters to hand out tickets to teenagers playing their music too loud. Central Park was once both dangerous and beautiful, but now someone has installed a fence every ten meters and it feels less natural than even the densest maze of Brooklyn concrete.
During my four years in New York, I walked alone at night into five or six of the worst projects in Brownsville, East Ne w York, Harlem and the Bronx (to interview people), and I never experienced a moment of fear—something that only an escapee from a mental institution could have said fifteen years earlier.
Continue reading Fear
My new novel, The Man Who Saw Seconds, is finished. And my agent turned it down because it’s science fiction, and she doesn’t do science fiction. I feel very grateful to have the agent I have–The Ugly is a difficult book, and finding an agent who cares about literature more than money is rare, unusual, extraordinarily lucky.
And yet I can’t help feeling a bit of frustration at the way we all put ourselves in boxes. Why can’t the same author write both heavy stuff and thrillers? Comments I’ve received from other published writers who’ve been kind enough to give me their time as readers included, “I was irritated whenever I had to put it down,” “It would/will make an amazing film,” and “I’m stunned your agent wasn’t completely hooked. I certainly am.”
Again, I have a great agent. She just doesn’t do sci-fi. She suggested I work with her for my literary fiction, and find another agent for my commercial fiction. So…I’m looking for a sci-fi agent. And perhaps a pseudonym.
Manny Lampnut? Bald Lazier Ox? Roland Lulfromulber? Radix Loblaze? Continue reading Looking for a Sci-Fi Agent…
[Please note that I have taken the core of this post and turned it into a full article, "Taylor Momsen's Secret Sex with a Green Fat Toxic Cancer Tumor," published in C-Arts Magazine and reproduced here.]
I’m afraid of technology. Not of the Terminator, smart machines, genetic engineering or even the self-replicating gray nano goo that Bill Joy, founder of Sun Microsystems, famously worried about in a 2000 Wired article, “Why the future doesn’t need us.”
I’m afraid of something much simpler: the personal computer. Specifically, way it interacts with the human brain. There has always been a tendency among children, elementary-school teachers and policemen to think in simple terms of right and wrong, in checklists and keywords and similar boxes. It’s a way of avoiding thinking.
At the end of law school, all of us who came from national schools took a ten-week Bar Bri course to learn the state law that students at state schools had been studying for three years. The one thing the Bar Bri instructors explicitly drilled into our heads was “Don’t think. Memorize and repeat keywords. Whatever you do, do NOT try to think on the test. You will only be punished for it.”
Continue reading The real danger of technology
You know that the age of big brother, or big spouse, is truly here when no-fee and no-registration websites spring up for the purpose of tracking your partner. I’m not going to embed this link, because the URL says it all: http://www.trackapartner.com/
Continue reading The Age of Big Partner
North Dakota, always the cutting-edge of enlightened thinking, just passed a law that would punish parents criminally if their children skip school.
The legislation allows for a fine of up to $500 against parents who allow their children to miss class. Repeat offenders could get 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Continue reading Even zero thinks it’s a number
Ortega y Gasset wrote that society, like every collective, is a great soulless entity. It is humanity that has been mechanized, almost mineralized. And that, in a nutshell, is exactly what went wrong with the housing bubble. Continue reading An anarchist solution to the banking crisis
The origins of modern Law stem from the Holy Roman Emperor, who in the 12th century sought a way to define his power for all to see, but without giving the role to the Pope because he feared that that would define the Pope as a greater power. So he declared that the right to define an Emperor’s power belonged only to the Law, which was in the keeping of a community of Masters who studied the principles of reason in an Ivory Tower in Bologna. The Emperor declared these scholars to be independent of his own power. In exchange, they announced that, according to Rationality and the Law, the Emperor was the only true representative of the only true Law, so whatever pleases the Emperor is the Law. And the Pope was left out. Continue reading Was Bush good for the rule of Law?
Just found out that “more attention to breasts builds long-term bonds through a cocktail of ancient neuropeptides.” And this after years of being told “I’m up here,” after conforming to the weird cultural taboo that said looking at the ocular regions was morally superior to looking at mammary regions.
It has always seemed a weird religious leftover to judge the face as more “me” than other body parts — stunted leftovers from Neoplatonism via the Scholastics and Descartes (basically everyone who twisted philosophy in the service of religion) and all the other mind-body dualists. Sure, the face deserves some attention — it has a higher sensory density than most other body parts. But so do the hands and genitals. Continue reading Ode to ogling
My favourite hamburger when I was in law school was called “The Heart Attack” at a little 4-stool dive called The Tasty run by a sour Iraqi man, with oil dripping and spritzing everywhere. But the Iraqi man didn’t have good legs and the burger didn’t have 8,000 calories and I can no longer pretend that The Tasty was the Platonic ideal of the hamburger joint. This man just has everything right, right down to his denigration of lettuce. Not many would remember to denigrate the lettuce. Continue reading A proper hamburger
Reprinted from Gaya Art News (December 2007).
The demiurge turns demoniac to rip, slit, and slash the thin veneer of civilized society with which we dull ourselves into submission. He’ll stab, shear, cleave, rend, gash, chop, wound, jab, prick and amputate — slicing and cutting to make us whole again. Alive.
In Sharp, he fucks us with fifty pierced phalluses, he cuts us into strips and eat us. Vomits and bites us again, to pierce our imbecile parents, legal hypocrisies, and slave-morality religions — all the scaffolding we’ve erected to make ourselves flaccid, drained of strength. This is our safety: a tired vagina, a tired anus, sewed up by our daughter to keep the polluted seed inside. Sent home in tears. Something sharp is necessary.
The demon has a hard on. He has fifty hanging from the wall, each pierced by a cockring. Named, one for each of his friends — mine will be named Aleko (Alex + kontol) — because his violence is care. Love in death. Killing, power, strength. These were once life. We grabbed the intestines and sometimes disgorged them onto the floor. Now we have perusal and market analysis.
Like the old kings who sliced themselves to bits in ritualized regicides to revive the land, the demon does to the viewer what his razors and pins and swords do to the canvas. Cut, mangle, destroy, and make, in the end and almost by happenstance, beautiful.
Continue reading Made Wianta: Sharp
The Times reported today (Coffee Linked to Lower Dementia Risk) on a study that showed 3 to 5 cups of coffee lowered the risk of Alzheimers by 65%. Two cups of coffee did not have the same effect. More than five could not be studied because of small sample size.
(I wish they’d studied what two to three liters of espresso does. I’m sure the results would be even better. On the other hand, who needs a study — I know if I don’t drink at least five cups I’m demented all day. Five cups should be the cut off. If you didn’t have at least five on, say, election day, then you don’t get to vote. Because you’re demented. We bar felons from voting — which makes no sense. But barring the demented might improve the country.)
On a different note: the NYTimes lede when emailing the page was “A 21-year study finds that moderate coffee drinkers are much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.”
Five cups, for most people, is not “moderate.” Some editor is injecting his morality of moderation into that lede and twisting the results of the study, which basically supported extremism in coffee drinking up to the limit of what was studied (5 cups). This isn’t just about some unintelligent science editor. It’s the whole frustrating mantra of moderation is good. Moderation is dementia, as two cups showed.
I asked my three-year-old son for a word that starts with “A.”
Samson said, “Asshole.”
I said, “There’s no such word.”
He said, “That’s strange, the asshole exists but the word doesn’t.”