(Roughly) Daily

“If you want the truth — I know I presume — you must look into the technology of these matters”*…

The estimable Alan Jacobs on why we’re all going nuts online…

On January 6, 2021, Samuel Camargo posted a video on Instagram showing him struggling to break through a police barrier to get into the U.S. Capitol building. The next day he wrote on Facebook: “I’m sorry to all the people I’ve disappointed as this is not who I am nor what I stand for.”

A month after the riot, Jacob Chansley, the man widely known as the QAnon Shaman, wrote a letter from his jail cell in Virginia asking Americans to “be patient with me and other peaceful people who, like me, are having a very difficult time piecing together all that happened to us, around us, and by us.”

“This is not who I am,” “all that happened … by us” — it is commonplace to hear such statements as mere evasions of responsibility, and often they are. But what if they reflect genuine puzzlement, genuine difficulty understanding one’s behavior or even seeing it as one’s own, a genuine feeling of being driven, compelled, by something other than one’s own will?…

There follows a consideration of Augustine, Foucault, Pynchon, Paul, Dostoevsky, Zadie Smith, Dawkins, Auden, Joesph Heller, and others, on the topic of why we succumb to what Augustine called curiositas: “Something Happened By Us: A Demonology,” from @ayjay in @tnajournal. Eminently worth reading in full.

* Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow


As we examine exorcism, we might recall that it was on this date in 1986 that Geraldo Rivera opened “Al Capone’s Vault”…

Notorious and “most wanted” gangster, Al Capone, began his life of crime in Chicago in 1919 and had his headquarters set up at the Lexington Hotel until his arrest in 1931. Years later, renovations were being made at the hotel when a team of workers discovered a shooting-range and series of connected tunnels that led to taverns and brothels making for an easy escape should there be a police raid. Rumors were spread that Capone had a secret vault hidden under the hotel as well. In 1985, news reporter Geraldo Rivera had been fired from ABC after he criticized the network for canceling his report made about an alleged relationship between John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. It seemed like a good time for Rivera to scoop a new story to repair his reputation. It was on this day in 1986 that his live, two-hour, syndicated TV special, The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault aired. After lots of backstory, the time finally came to reveal what was in that vault. It turned out to be empty. After the show, Rivera was quoted as saying “Seems like we struck out.”



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