For my first ever Kindle Single (i.e., short, cheap Kindle-exclusive eBook) I downloaded Mark Greif’s “Octomom and the Politics of Babies” since I like N+1 and that’s a funny title. The resulting book’s effort to draw a link between media coverage of Octomom and media coverage of the financial crisis of 2007-2008 doesn’t really make sense to me, but the pamphlet is chuck full o’ good writing. For example, on Angelina Jolie:
[W]hile the press calmly awaits her downfall, Angelina, like one of the ancient gods, is able to violate all laws, then fascinate us with her selective reintroduction of them. She takes what she wants. She is the virago who acquired Brad Pitt, sexiest and emptiest of male stars, and filled his blond vacancy with her life force, stealing him away from simpering Jennifer Aniston. Her swollen lips are not so much physically engorged with blood as metaphorically covered in it. But she does love children.
The larger point Greif is making is that the more neoliberal our society become, the more stressed the social and political conventions around the remaining non-marketized parts of it become. You can’t buy and sell babies, but reproduction can’t be hermetically sealed off from the rest of the American economy. At the resulting fault line is where you’ll find Octomom; an extreme and somewhat bizarre case, yes, but in a sense if we’re not all Octomom today we will be soon.