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Xavier Marquez
Works at Victoria University of Wellington
Lives in Wellington, New Zealand
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Xavier Marquez

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Some commentary on the North Korean elections, and on electoral rituals more generally.
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Xavier Marquez

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"Scary stories, after all, serve social purposes: they help us to learn which fears are widely held and which are idiosyncratic, defining us as societies and delineating us as individuals."
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Xavier Marquez

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"Nothing illustrates this fact as dramatically as Arseny Avraamov’s Symphony of Sirens, perhaps the largest musical performance ever.

Symphony of Sirens was performed twice, once in Baku in November 1922 as a celebration of the fifth anniversary of the revolution, and again one year later in Moscow with the support of the State Institute for Musical Science. The instrumentation for the Baku production included “a cast of choirs, . . . two batteries of artillery guns, a number of infantry regiments including a machine-gun division, hydroplanes, and all the town’s factory sirens”—plus the foghorns of the Soviet navy’s entire Caspian Flotilla, moored in the town’s port. It also involved a special sound machine called the “Magistral,” containing fifty steam whistles played by twenty-five musicians. Avraamov conducted the performance with colored flags from the top of a purpose-built tower.

The Moscow production was even larger, with performers spread over such huge distances that coordination became extremely difficult. Avraamov wrote, “Because of the big area of distribution of the factory sirens it is necessary to have at least one heavy gun for signaling purposes with the capacity to shoot with live cartridges (shrapnel is not suitable for this, bursting off in the air is most dangerous and gives a second explosion sound, which can confuse the performers).” 

That Avraamov pulled these performances off is a reflection of his prodigious ambition and ingenuity. But more than that, it speaks to the capabilities of an authoritarian state eager to uproot and re-make its own culture. Imagine what it would take to perform Symphony of Sirens today: to divert an entire city’s industrial works and a whole naval flotilla just to put on a concert, not to mention the perceived menace of bringing a huge military presence to an urban area. A concise expression of both the strengths and weaknesses of liberal society: we cannot make this kind of art."
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Give thanks to the Guardians of Asgard for another Ragnarok averted in the North. Happy solstice (summer or winter)!
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Bolivarian murals from all over Venezuela. Some of these are just ... odd. 
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Xavier Marquez

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Lovely arachnid nightmares. The mirror spider is especially astonishing, but I am put in mind of strange Lovecraftian horrors for most of these....
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Xavier Marquez

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Some thoughts on Franco's curious staying power, Spanish history, and "robust action."
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Randall Collins on Napoleon's career:

"Napoleon was a man of highest ability, if we want to use that term. He was a better general than anyone; an administrator who got things done and left permanent effects. He chose his officers and civilian officials for their abilities. What does it mean? A tautology; ability, capability, such words all imply a subjunctive mode, it could well happen, we have every reason to expect that this person will make it happen-- but only because of what they have done in the past. Capability is a false noun; it can only be judged in action.

On the whole, the action we call ability is emotional energy, compounded with good judgment, realistic observation, and the techniques of human interaction that bring other people to join in a collective project and thus make big things happen. 

To say that someone has ability but doesn’t use it, means they sometimes show what they can do, but most of the time they don’t. Why not? It is the obverse case of Napoleon. Having traced his ups and downs, we can see even someone at the supreme level is riding in and out of networks and situations where they can generate EE. It is rare that someone can be at the center of networks of networks, hold the connections together, and make big things happen that have been hanging on the cusp of previous developments."

#longread  
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Hi Xavier...GODbless you...I AM Jorge Soto ....I find interesting your article about Napoleon..
I give you the idea for another article biography...is the life of THE COUNT OF SAINT GERMAIN, a being of LIGHT, who had the mission to found the United States of Europe...if so you wish, I can help you and you'll be surprised about this great man considered by those who have studied a big avatar...
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When did constitutions first start mentioning democracy? Surprisingly early on. 
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Xavier Marquez

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On Inga Clendinnen's wonderful book "Aztecs: An Interpretation." 
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Have him in circles
326 people
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Senior Lecturer
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  • Victoria University of Wellington
    Senior Lecturer, present
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Introduction
I teach political theory and political science at Victoria University of Wellington. My recent research has focused on the history of political thought, especially ancient Greek and Roman thought. I also have a strong interest in dictatorship, revolution, and other political pathologies. In another life, I would have been a microbiologist or a computer scientist.
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Currently
Wellington, New Zealand
Previously
Caracas, Venezuela - Los Angeles, CA - Durham, North Carolina - DeKalb, Illinois - South Bend, Indiana