Sunday, May 21, 2017

A pop star, not a PhD.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cognitive dissonance or change over time?

Banality, Boredom, Brian Leiter, Culture, Determinism, Make it Idiot-Proof, Mannerism and The Gothic, Naturalism, Pedants and Children, Philosophy, Politics, Utopia and Intentional Communities,

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Feminist Philosophers"
Retroactive withdrawal of consent? 
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa continues his excellent, thoughtful series on the new Kipnis book with a discussion of nonconsensual sex.
Kipnis often describes sexual assault allegations in these terms. She says that there was a consensual sexual encounter, and then, months or years later, someone “retroactively withdraws” consent, converting what had previously been a permissible sexual encounter into an assault. Her language suggests a kind of “backwards causation”—one can reach back into history and create rapes that weren’t there by removing the consent. The implication: this absurd metaphysics is being embraced by campus activists, demonstrating both their intellectual depravity and their danger.
But why is Kipnis so confident that, in these cases, there was consent in the first place? After all, there is such a thing as a nonconsensual sexual encounter where the victim doesn’t think of it as such at the time, or doesn’t decide to report it at the time. There is such a thing as being coerced, manipulated, or bullied into a sexual relationship. When this happens, one is quite likely to keep quiet about it at first, either for fear of repercussions, or out of failure to understand what has happened.
Read on! [link to Ichikawa]
My comment on Ichikawa's post. I'm surprised it made it.
You either have agency or you don't. You either accept the responsibilities of citizenship in the community governed by laws, or you don't.

That's the simple way to describe it. The complex way to describe it is to accept that democracy and self-government are based on illusions, that people are rulers and ruled, dom and sub, slave and master, that love takes many forms and "moral responsibility" deserves to be subject of mockery.
That's the logic of De Sade and the sexual political underground.

"The color is black, the material is leather, the seduction is beauty, the justification is honesty, the aim is ecstasy, the fantasy is death."

If politics is a discussion of shared public life, this is anti-politics, nihilism in the name of moral honesty, against the moralism of lies. But beware: if no one is responsible for anything it's left for the strong to rule as they will. The strong may be puritan- "No one is responsible for anything, with the exception of myself and my equally enlightened friends" - or fascist.

It's amusingly perverse how the philosophy of the anti-bourgeois underground, reactionary, individualist, decadent, sexually wild, emotionally hot and cold, denying anything beyond intimate experience, and therefore opposed to political reforms- Genet opposed prison reforms because prison made him the man he was- has found a home in the academy, made vanilla: non-contradictory.

The best answer to the Dolezal absurdity is an absurd film by a comedian, a man who is exactly the mixed race person Dolezal fantasized of becoming. Get Out [etc.] is the honest answer to Tuvel, just as De Sade and Candy Dar... [etc.]

Wanting to be something is not being it. [etc....  etc.]

Wanting people to see you as you see yourself is one thing. Demanding that people see you as you see yourself and the state putting your demands as law, is fascism.

Tell me about transgirls and Title IX, about transwomen feminists opposed to abortion (if you don't know any you will soon enough).
...You've undermined Enlightenment humanism in the name of what you imagine is your own enlightenment.

In the war between philosophers and comedians, comedians always win. Idealists become fascists. Comedians are empiricists.
Two more made it

The second. "If people aren't responsible what's the result?"
With a link.
“Extraordinarily talented”: the remarks of a judge about an Oxford University student on trial for stabbing her boyfriend with a bread knife. Perhaps more extraordinary is the fact that Lavinia Woodward, the aspiring surgeon turned assailant, is likely to avoid a prison sentence because of this academic prowess.
She is not the first elite student whose abilities in the school room have atoned for their crimes: last year, Ivy League educated Brock Turner served just three months for sexually assaulting a woman. As a promising university swimmer, the judge expressed concern that a long sentence would have a “severe impact” on his life. It should hardly need pointing out that sexual assault and knife attacks have a tendency of doing that to their victims – regardless of their past and future merits.

So is this the rise of punishment by merit? Only those with the least talent and potential should suffer the inconvenience of paying for their crimes. Perhaps the black man from Bromley, recently sentenced to ten years in prison for a brutal stabbing, and another man in Whitehaven, sentenced to an indefinite hospital order for a stabbing in a pub, have far less going for them than the talented Lavinia Woodward.
Repeats from 2013. "Beyond Blame"
Moral responsibility and drug dealers, bankers, politicians, and college professors: if we remove it from one group we remove it from all.  But as usual in arguments such as the one above, the free will of the managerial class of philosophers and technocrats is somehow beyond biology: "Determinism for thee but not for me" is still the rule. 
Equality under law, but some are more equal than others.
I said it more than once: "Law is a blunt instrument", a necessary crudity for times of crisis.

The dangers of "subjectivism". etc. etc.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

"Comment removed" Responding to Leiter's.
Academic philosophers want to have polite conversations according to polite rules, while discussing as often as not, unfortunately, issues that affect the lives of human beings. Brian Leiter once touted David Enoch as a "leading legal philosopher" in his country. And that may be true. But outside academic philosophy, where ideas are judged [only] for internal consistency, it becomes worth asking what other reasons Enoch, an Israeli Jew and Zionist, would choose to promote what he himself refers to as a "robust moral realism", that serves to defend a state built on conquest. Should a Palestinian follow Enoch's own formal criteria, or is s/he permitted just to laugh?

Hypothetical: A philosopher publishes a paper arguing that Jewish immigrants to Palestine should be able to be counted as Palestinian. The essay is an act of erasure. Should the responses be polite?
I repeat myself in these discussions because no one responds. I'll do it again:

"Transracialism": Will a white person who wants to become black be eligible for support under affirmative action policies? And how do you imagine "actual" minorities would respond?
Transgenderism: Will transgirls now be able to sue under title IX? Will the anti-abortion opinions of a transwoman with a penis hold equal weight with those of a woman with a uterus?
The article being debated here is absurd. Like most philosophy that claims to deal in worldly issues, it deals in fantasy.

Leiter makes a habit of mocking references to "the other", but his mockery deserves mockery in return. All that's clear in the debate up to now is that blacks as a group get the benefit of knee-jerk sympathy from (mostly white) liberals that women as a group do not. The thought that black people should have a role in their own self-definition, that Eminem had to show respect to get it, while Dolezal used bronzer and lied, seems clear to many. But somehow the same does not apply to women. Having a uterus, bleeding once a month, the experience of the female body, means nothing. There the rule seems to be "I am what I claim to be", and all other opinion and observation is irrelevant. Self-reporting is all! So this is not a discussion of the biologically intersex or children of mixed parentage. I'll end with some history. History after all, is another form of context deemed irrelevant by much "serious" philosophy

De Sade:
"...if only you knew this fantasy's charms, if only you could understand what one experiences from the sweet illusion of being no more than a woman! incredible inconsistency I one abhors that sex, yet one wishes to imitate it! Ah! how sweet it is to succeed, ... 
Candy Darling:
"I've been up all night alone, wondering about my identity. Trying to look for an explanation for living this strange, stylized sexuality. Realization cuts feeling off. I try to explain my identity as being a male who has assumed the attitudes and somewhat the emotions of a female. I don't know what role to play." 
The end result of claiming “to see the other in myself” is the denial of the existence of the other. Leiter's universalism and the universalism of right-thinking liberals end the same way.
I'm wondering if I linked to Daniel Harris' piece before, or to the response.

The fetish for happiness, for demand for resolution of all conflicts, external and internal, the denial of the possibility of tragedy, the liberal institutionalization of narcissism, while denying the possibility that it could exist. Cafe revolutionaries, liberal Zionists, transsexuals, the popular triumph of wishful thinking. The absolute triumph of course is fascism.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

updated twice.

I googled to to see how many had made the obvious connection. Not many.
see the ratio of likes to retweets. And previous

The source of my comment below...

De Sade
"Ah, Therese!" he exclaimed one day, full of enthusiasm, "if only you knew this fantasy's charms, if only you could understand what one experiences from the sweet illusion of being no more than a woman! incredible inconsistency I one abhors that sex, yet one wishes to imitate it! Ah! how sweet it is to succeed, ... 
and Candy Darling
"I've been up all night alone, wondering about my identity. Trying to look for an explanation for living this strange, stylized sexuality. Realization cuts feeling off. I try to explain my identity as being a male who has assumed the attitudes and somewhat the emotions of a female. I don't know what role to play."
Two lines I wrote elsewhere that are worth keeping.
-Blacks as a group get the benefit of knee-jerk sympathy from liberals that women as a group do not.
-The end result of claiming “to see the other in myself” is the denial of the existence of the other.
Never take anybody at their word. That's called "self-reporting".

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

35 years shouting into the void. I'm so tired of predicting the future, or describing the present before everyone else begins to figure it out.

Princeton University Press: Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy
In today’s new economy—in which “good” jobs are typically knowledge or technology based—many well-educated and culturally savvy young men are instead choosing to pursue traditionally low-status manual labor occupations as careers. Masters of Craft looks at the renaissance of four such trades: bartending, distilling, barbering, and butchering.
so bored
It’s called post-humanism, or pre-humanism redux....the boy at Starbucks with a coffee bean tattooed on his forearm, a member of the "Barista tribe." 
It’s the public proclamation of loyalty to a subculture; documenting the need to belong; atomization and the rise of pathologically over-determined imagined communities etc.
 etc. etc. It’s the sociality of baroque individualism.

We now have food geeks as well as science geeks, all with the moral philosophy of Asperger’s patients: so fixated on their mania for [tube amps/Pouilly-Fuissé/Ducati two-stroke engines] that you’d be a fool not to hire them for your [high-end audio store/restaurant/Soho motorcycle salon]. Why be a well rounded adult when you can be an eternal [pre]adolescent and expert, and a happy cog and servant?
 Lawyers are craftsmen
I'm probably going to have to spend some time with The Craftsman, if only at the bookstore, but I get the sense that Sennett doesn't quite get the point.

Craft isn't a value. It's simply how we communicate with each other. You can either accept that, as practicing lawyers, screenwriters for HBO, and the girl you didn't go home with last night do, or like Brian Leiter, John Rawls, Brad DeLong, and the vast majority of the Anglo-American academic intellectual apparat, you can pretend. From the blurb:
Sennett expands previous notions of crafts and craftsmen and apprises us of the surprising extent to which we can learn about ourselves through the labor of making physical things.
Making physical things is not the point. Understanding that we are physical beings is the point.
If the intellectual model of fine art remains intellectual design (and the logic of original intent) the popular model is now theatrical design. There’s a relation: the children of conceptualists have returned to an art-making process the only way they could, as furniture makers. There’s a similar culture of “crafting” in academia, of grad school knitting circles, economist coffee connoisseurs, philosopher illustrators and wood carvers. None of this amounts to much, or won’t until the preoccupations outpace the ideas. The best example, going back to the beginnings of conceptual art, is Adrian Piper, who's had careers both as an artist and an academic philosopher. But her best, most tortured, work documents the sleep of reason, undermining all of her ideological pretensions. Her work is the poetry of confused rage. The new culture of crafting by comparison is another form of naïve decadence. For crafters, knitting circles are the closest they’ll come to hammering out scenarios for The Wire.
Recently, again, experts have become critical of expertise, philosophers critical of philosophy, but they miss the point. They’re unwilling to see themselves as part of a process that preceded their “discovery’ of the flaws in past assumptions. 
Philosophers who recognize themselves as orators become no more than sad ex-priests. The “postmodern” defense of bad writing and of theory as art doesn’t work as a defense of poetry or of lawyers, whose role hasn’t changed that much over the last 2000 years. Social scientists refuse to see themselves as tradespeople even as historians have never quibbled over whether their field can be called an art. The members of the Frankfurt School were exemplars of bureaucratic reason, the most famous of them so horrified of the implications that he called desperately and pathetically for unreason as the only possible response. Adorno was either unwilling or incapable of the empiricism, directed inwardly and outwardly, that might have allowed him see just how much both he and his “beloved institute” were products of the same forces that made the things he claimed to oppose. The rise of a self-conscious geek culture, the proud celebration of the preadolescent imagination in adulthood, came in earnest ten years after the publication of One Dimensional Man and the release of Dr. Strangelove, the title character an amalgam of Werner von Braun and the ur-geek von Neumann. “If you say why not bomb tomorrow, I say, why not today? If you say today at 5 o’clock, I say why not one o’clock?
The discovery of experience
The difference between Law and lawyers, philosophers and comedians
Change is slow but inevitable. Academics are the last to know.

Monday, May 01, 2017

From Leiter
Open letter to Hypatia
To Hypatia Editor, Sally Scholz, and the broader Hypatia community:
As scholars who have long viewed Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy as a valuable resource for our communities, we write to request the retraction of a recent article, entitled, “In Defense of Transracialism.” Its continued availability causes further harm, as does an initial post by the journal admitting only that the article “sparks dialogue.” Our concerns reach beyond mere scholarly disagreement; we can only conclude that there has been a failure in the review process, and one that painfully reflects a lack of engagement beyond white and cisgender privilege. ...
To our friends and colleagues in feminist philosophy,
We, the members of Hypatia’s Board of Associate Editors, extend our profound apology to our friends and colleagues in feminist philosophy, especially transfeminists, queer feminists, and feminists of color, for the harms that the publication of the article on transracialism has caused. ...
repeats, and...
Modernism was the fantasy of writing with the assumption that from then on there would be only reading with and no reading against. To read tale against teller or to read against the grain would be gross error. Rebellion against this has always taken the form of the rebellion of youth against their parents, with the more sympathetic elders caught in the middle, trying to justify the revolt while trying to make it fit with what they know and what they are. So we get the obscurantist poeticizing of Derrida -the philosopher magistrate as wise old fool- and the blandness of Rorty and Nussbaum, struggling to find a way beyond technocracy while being mocked for the attempt by professional technocrats and lionized by amateur enthusiasts. The model of the Continental philosopher was as Pope and Antipope combined, a philosophical self that could contain an other, in a sense obviating the need for actual democracy. And now that Continental and Anglo-American philosophy are joining out of necessity and the need for survival, we see parallels in Bruno Latour's Collective and David Chalmers' Extended Mind
The logical moralizing of Oxbridge critics of freedom of speech dovetails with the emotional moralizing of politically correct liberalism, all predicated on the same assumptions of one's own enlightenment.
I'll try again. Why no defense of Dolezal? If she hadn't tried to hide her background but still made the same claims, would anyone take her seriously? Eminem doesn't claim to be black. Why should a man be accepted as "being" a woman?
earlier in the same run.

"Maybe it's time to bring back the binary"

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The fascist logic of Zionism, always obvious.

From A Holocaust Reader, edited by Lucy Dawidowicz
Reprinted in Lenni Brenner's 51 Documents

The situation of the Jews in Germans has, through the events and through the legislation of the most recent time, undergone a development which makes a fundamental clarification of the problem desirable and necessary. We consider it all obligation of the Jews to assist in the untangling of the problem. May we therefore be permitted to present our views, which, in our opinion, make possible a solution in keeping kith the principles of the new German State of National Awakening and which at the same time might signify for Jews a new ordering of the conditions of their existence. These view, are based on an interpretation of the historical development al the position of the Jews in Germany, which, by way of introduction, may be briefly outlined here.


          Historical Summary 
The emancipation of the Jews, begun at the end of the 18th, beginning of the 19th century, was based on the idea that the Jewish question could be solved by having the nation-state absorb the Jews living in its midst. This view, deriving from the ideas of the French Revolution, discerned only the individual, the single human being freely suspended in space, without regarding the ties of blood and history or spiritual distinctiveness. Accordingly, the liberal state demanded of the Jew, assimilation into the non-Jewish environment. Baptism and mixed marriage were encouraged in political and economic life. Thus it happened that innumerable persons of Jewish origin had the chance to occupy important positions and to come forward as representatives of German culture and German life, without having their belonging to Jewry become visible.

Thus arose a state of affairs which in political discussion today is termed "debasement of Germandom" or "Jewification."

The Jews at first did not even recognize this difficulty, because they believed in an individualistic and legalistic solution of the Jewish question. Zionism (since 1897) was the first to disclose to the Jews, the nature of the Jewish question. Zionist insight also enabled Jews to understand anti-Semitism, which they had fought until then only apologetically. The unsolved Jewish question was recognized as the basic cause of anti-Semitism; hence, a constructive solution of the Jewish question had to be found. To this end the benevolent support of the non-Jewish world was sought.


Zionism has no illusions about the difficulty of the Jewish condition, which consists above all in an abnormal occupational pattern and in the fault of an intellectual and moral posture not rooted in one's own tradition. Zionism recognized decades ago that as a result of the assimilationist trend. symptoms of deterioration were bound to appear, which it seeks to overcome by carrying out its challenge to transform Jewish life completely.

It is our opinion that an answer to the Jewish question truly satisfying to the national state can be brought about only with the collaboration of the Jewish movement that aims at a social, cultural, and moral renewal of Jewry—indeed, that such a national renewal must first create the decisive social and spiritual premises for all solutions.

Zionism believes that a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish national group. For the Jew, too, origin, religion. community of fate and group consciousness must be of decisive significance in the shaping of his life. This means that the egotistical individualism which arose in the liberal era must be overcome by public spiritedness and by willingness to accept responsibility.


Our conception of the nature of Jewry and of our true position among the European peoples allows us to frame proposals on the regulation of the situation of the Jews in the new German state Which are not considerations based on accidental constellations of interests, but which pave the way for a real solution of the Jewish question that will satisfy the German state. In this we are not concerned with the interest, of individual Jews who have lost their economic and social position, as a result of Germany's profound transformation. What we are concerned with is the creation of an opportunity for the existence for the whole group, while preserving our honor. which is our most precious possession. On the foundation of the new state, which has established the principle of race, we wish so to fit our community into the total structure so that for us too, in the sphere assigned to us, fruitful activity for the Fatherland is possible. 
We believe it is precisely the new Germany that can, through bold resoluteness in the handling of the Jewish question, take a decisive step toward overcoming a problem which, in truth, will have to be dealt with by most European peoples—including those whose foreign-policy statements today deny the existence of any such problem in their own midst. 
          Relationship to the German People 
Our acknowledgment of Jewish nationality provides for a dear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we do not wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group and reject any trespasses of the cultural domain, we—having been brought up in the German language and German culture—can show an interest in the works and values of German culture with admiration and internal sympathy. Only fidelity to their own kind and their own culture gives Jews the inner strength that prevents insult to the respect for the national sentiments and the imponderables of German nationality; and rootedness in one's own spirituality protects the Jew from becoming the rootless critic of the national foundations of German essence. The national distancing which the state desires would thus be brought about easily as the result of an organic development. 
Thus, a self-conscious Jewry here described, in whose name we speak, can find a place in the structure of the German state, because it is inwardly unembarrassed, free from the resentment which assimilated Jews must feel at the determination that they belong to Jewry, to the Jewish race and past. We believe in the possibility of an honest relationship of loyalty between a group-conscious Jewry and the German state. 

This presentation would be incomplete, were we not to add some remarks on the important problem of Jewish emigration. The situation of the Jews among the nations and their recurrent elimi-nation from professional categories and economic means of liveli-hood, as well a, desire for a normalization of living conditions, force many Jew, to emigrate. 
Zionism wishes to shape Jewish emigration to Palestine in such a way that a reduction of pressure on the Jewish position in Germany will result. 
Zionism has not been satisfied merely to set forth a theoretical conception of the Jewish question, but at the practical level has initiated a normalization of Jewish life through the founding of a new national settlement of Jews in Palestine, their ancient home-land. There about 230,000 Jews have already to date been settled in a normally stratified community. The basis of Jewish settlement is agriculture. All kinds of labor—in agriculture, manual trades, and industry—are performed by Jewish workers, who are inspired by a new, idealistic wotic. ethic. The Palestine movement has always been encouraged by the German Government; it is a fact that the significance of Palestine for German Jewry is constantly growing. 
For its practical aims. Zionism hopes to be able to win the col-laboration even of a government fundamentally hostile to Jews, because in dealing with the Jewish question not sentimentalities are involved but a real problem whose solution interests all peoples, and at the present moment especially the German people. 
The realization of Zionism could only be hurt by resentment of Jews abroad against the German development. Boycott propaganda—such as is currently being carried on against Germany in many ways—is in essence un-Zionist, because Zionism wants not to do battle but to convince and to build.

          Foreign Policy Consequences 
We believe that the proposed regulation of the Jewish question suggested here would entail important advantages for the German people, which would be felt also beyond German borders. The idea of nationhood, so important for the German people scattered through the whole world (Germandom abroad), would undergo a decisive deepening and strengthening by a statesmanlike action on the part of the new Germany. 
Millions of Jews live as national minorities in various countries. During the negotiations about the protection of minorities, at the end of the war, formulas and arguments prepared by Jewish national movements were widely accepted by all states;[1] they led to provisions on the basis of which German minorities, like others, assert their rights today. If consideration is given to the strong community of interests among national minorities, which has repeatedly found expression and which certainly would figure in quite another way if the position of the Jews in Germany is to be regulated through recognition of their special character, the politi-cal situation of a portion of the German people all over the world can arrive at an emphatic advancement. This advancement would consist not only of ideological reinforcement of the validity of the principles of nationality proclaimed by the Reich Chancellor in his address of May 17 [2], but could also take the form of direct cooperation among minorities in different countries. 
We are not blind to the fact that a Jewish question exists and will continue to exist. From the abnormal situation of the Jews severe disadvantages result for them, but also scarcely tolerable conditions for other peoples. Our observations, presented herewith, rest on the conviction that, in solving the Jewish problem according to its own lights, the German Government will have full understanding for a candid and dear Jewish posture that harmonizes with the interests of the state.

1. During the peace negotiations after the First World War, regarding the forma-tion of new European states, Jewish delegations convinced European political leaders that the rights of racial, religious, and linguistic minorities would best be protected by a formal obligation embodied in the individual peace treaties of the new states. Consequently, provisions guaranteeing minority, or group, cultural rights, in addition to individual civic rights, were incorporated into the treaties with Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, and Yugoslavia. 
2. The reference is to a passage in Hitler's "Peace" speech in the Reichstag on May 17, i933, in which he said: "Our boundless love for and loyalty to our own national traditions make us respect the national claims of others."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

From the post following the one linked below.
Among the weirder allegations I've seen on Facebook as to why philosophers shouldn't read the book is that Kipnis doesn't understand the difference between sex and rape. This is an absurd fabrication, and was not, of course, supported with any textual evidence. But it is a good indication that Hellie is on to something here about how desperate some of those involved in the initial witchhunt are feeling about the world at large now knowing how reckless some vocal members of the "profession" were.
"profession" in scare quotes. I'm not sure Leiter understands the implication.

From Rickles to Kipnis
NY Times on the Kipnis book
This is a rather apt appraisal:
Kipnis has now written a book, “Unwanted Advances,” about feminism, relationship statecraft and the shadow world of Title IX investigations. It is invigorating and irritating, astute and facile, rigorous and flippant, fair-minded and score-settling, practical and hyperbolic, and maybe a dozen other neurotically contradictory things. Above all else, though, “Unwanted Advances” is necessary. Argue with the author, by all means. But few people have taken on the excesses of university culture with the brio that Kipnis has.
What is significant about the book for the academic community in philosophy is that--its occasional glibness and fascination with its own meta-narrative about alleged "sexual paranoia" on campus aside--it sets out in compelling detail two recent injustices against now-former members of the community of employed philosophers, David Barnett and Peter Ludlow. It was always clear, at least to me, that Barnett had been wrongfully treated; the Ludlow case was less clear to me, at least until I read this book and had an opportunity to read the depositions in the lawsuit brought by the undergraduate.
Kipnis has a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute, an MFA from The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and is a veteran of the Whitney ISP.  The first is famous as a free-for-all, the second as a center for "conceptual art", art as philosophical/political illustration, in the 70s, and the third along the same lines, mixing puritanical politics and careerism in an art world finishing school. 30 years ago a visiting artist guest speaker was attacked for casting sculptures in bronze, considered a male medium.

I used George Kuchar for the SFAI link; this fits too (I thought I'd written more about him) and this one as well.

You have to feel a little sorry these days for professors married to their former students. They used to be respectable citizens —leaders in their fields, department chairs, maybe even a dean or two—and now they’re abusers of power avant la lettre. I suspect you can barely throw a stone on most campuses around the country without hitting a few of these neo-miscreants. Who knows what coercions they deployed back in the day to corral those students into submission; at least that’s the fear evinced by today’s new campus dating policies. And think how their kids must feel! A friend of mine is the offspring of such a coupling—does she look at her father a little differently now, I wonder.
In 1992 I was chairman of the History Department at New York University—where I was also the only unmarried straight male under sixty. A combustible blend: prominently displayed on the board outside my office was the location and phone number of the university’s Sexual Harassment Center. History was a fast-feminizing profession, with a graduate community primed for signs of discrimination—or worse. Physical contact constituted a presumption of malevolent intention; a closed door was proof positive.

Shortly after I took office, a second-year graduate student came by. A former professional ballerina interested in Eastern Europe, she had been encouraged to work with me. I was not teaching that semester, so could have advised her to return another time. Instead, I invited her in. After a closed-door discussion of Hungarian economic reforms, I suggested a course of independent study—beginning the following evening at a local restaurant. A few sessions later, in a fit of bravado, I invited her to the premiere of Oleanna—David Mamet’s lame dramatization of sexual harassment on a college campus.

How to explain such self-destructive behavior? What delusional universe was mine, to suppose that I alone could pass untouched by the punitive prudery of the hour—that the bell of sexual correctness would not toll for me? I knew my Foucault as well as anyone and was familiar with Firestone, Millett, Brownmiller, Faludi, e tutte quante.1 To say that the girl had irresistible eyes and that my intentions were…unclear would avail me nothing. My excuse? Please Sir, I’m from the ‘60s.

...So how did I elude the harassment police, who surely were on my tail as I surreptitiously dated my bright-eyed ballerina?

Reader: I married her.
Leiter quoting the NYT again
...invigorating and irritating, astute and facile, rigorous and flippant, fair-minded and score-settling, practical and hyperbolic, and maybe a dozen other neurotically contradictory things. Above all else, though, “Unwanted Advances” is necessary.
As opposed to the vast number of books written by "professional philosophers" that are both un-contradictory and unnecessary.

I've assumed the worst about Ludlow because I assume the worst about academic pedants. That applies to his accuser just as easily. Kipnis on the other hand is a bit of a libertine. That's where she got her start. The politics of libertinism is problematic at best, at worst of course it's fascist.
As an aside, I'll add that Adam Lindemann in June is showing new paintings by Michel Houellebecq).

As a coda... Here's George.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

"Ebony and Ivory" over the closing credits

Two in a row

"So was Mr. Rickles a bigot or a mensch? The truth, probably, is that he was both."
...It seems as if the liberal program of attempting to shame and berate people into being more open-minded and tolerant may have backfired. Listening to interviews with Donald Trump’s supporters during his once-implausible rise, I was struck by how many of them mentioned that they admire that “he’s not politically correct.” This was often a not-unbreakable code for saying he was a refreshingly unapologetic bigot. But it’s still worth noticing that apparently telling people they’re not allowed to say certain things or feel certain ways, that their opinions aren’t just incorrect but morally wrong, does not, after all, make them better people; it makes them hate your guts.

“You’re black, I’m white,” Mr. Rickles said to an audience member. “It’s the breaks.” This line is a direct ancestor of a Louis C. K. bit: “I’m not saying white people are better — I’m saying that being white is clearly better.” The comic duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who have rhetorical dispensation to be funny about such things by virtue of being biracial, like to palpate the touchiest spots in the American racial psyche — playing two upscale yuppies trying out out-black each other at a soul food restaurant by ordering items like cellar doors and human feet, or slaves on the auction block getting increasingly touchy and peeved as they keep not selling. Laughter is a saner, more restorative response to the world’s injustice than self-righteous scolding.

Mr. Rickles’s show that night was weirdly schizoid, alternating between snapping epithets and waxing sentimental about how he loves to make people laugh, his deep love for his mother and Frank Sinatra. The official line was that Mr. Rickles’s pit-bull hostility was a stage persona; his real-life personality was legendarily warm and generous. Of course his insults would never have been funny if he’d actually meant them — his persona is a parody. (Contrast that with alt-right iconoclasts like Milo Yiannopoulos, who confuse authentic bigotry and cruelty with humor.) But all that anger, even if it’s an act, must come from somewhere.

So was Mr. Rickles a bigot or a mensch? The truth, probably, is that he was both. We all are, albeit most of us not in such cartoonishly binary form. Maybe trying to stifle and disown the former makes the latter more brittle and false, more of an act. And maybe it’s venting the former persona onstage, as it were, set off from real life by the quotation marks of humor, that allows us to be more genuinely decent.
It was inevitable that someone would come to play the role Key and Peele are playing.
Can a film be too inflammatory for its own good, or are there times, and places, when only fire will suffice? In an interview with the Times, Peele, whose mother is white, admitted that the movie was originally intended “to combat the lie that America had become post-racial,” and the result is like an all-out attack on a rainbow. Short of making us listen to “Ebony and Ivory” over the closing credits, “Get Out” could hardly be more provocative. There’s a scene with a head-stamping, a scene with an exposed brain, and a truly creepy scene with a bowl of Froot Loops. And yet, despite all that, what makes this horror film horrific is the response that it gives to the well-meaning and problem-solving question “Can’t we just learn to live together?” To which the movie answers, loud and clear, “No.”
"Short of making us listen to 'Ebony and Ivory' over the closing credits"
Black comedy for white people isn't new. Black comedy for white people, directed at white people, is.

Leiter contra Rickles
Not "freedom of speech," but "freedom of [specific kinds of] expression" 
Philosopher Robert Simpson (Monash) comments.
(Thanks to Jerry Dworkin for the pointer.)
I've mocked Leiter for his defense of hate speech laws, and I've mocked others for obliviousness to racism -Christakis et al. never have defended speech they themselves found offensive- but I never caught the obvious point that Leiter is the one academic pundit I know of who both opposes freedom of speech and mocks the fragility that follows from his preference.

Another older link from Leiter.
A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services at a major university to join faculty and administrators for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them.
The last paragraph on Rickles again
So was Mr. Rickles a bigot or a mensch? The truth, probably, is that he was both. We all are, albeit most of us not in such cartoonishly binary form. Maybe trying to stifle and disown the former makes the latter more brittle and false, more of an act. And maybe it’s venting the former persona onstage, as it were, set off from real life by the quotation marks of humor, that allows us to be more genuinely decent.
My old description and defense of "expressive" speech as honesty, not just as the best policy for speakers but also strengthening the resilience of an audience, requirements for the burdens of self-government. It's important not to be protected from knowledge of the world.

We live in bubbles that only others can burst. Arguments otherwise by comparison, are brittle and false.
Get Out, again

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Blogs.Reuters, Jack Shafer, 2011
After Broadcast News attacks the foolishness of people like Koppel who insist on a set-in-concrete distinction between news and entertainment. Comedians, talk-show hosts, and satirists are better equipped than professional journalists to refute the fictions that clog the news stream, Williams and Delli Carpini maintain. “[T]he line between news and entertainment is inherently blurred and contestable and never fully maps the boundaries between politically relevant media forms. It was only the regulations, institutions, norms, and practices that came to define the broadcast news media regime that made such distinctions seem natural,” they write. 
One excellent example of this blurring offered by Williams and Delli Carpini is the work and career of CBS News legend Edward R. Murrow, who in the early 1950s investigated wrong-doings with his See It Now program at the same time he was chatting up celebrities (Brando, Bogart, Monroe, Sinatra) on his Person to Person broadcasts.
"Comedians, talk-show hosts, and satirists are better equipped than professional journalists to refute the fictions that clog the news stream" And better equipped than academics.

After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment Published in 2011. I'd have to read it to find out if the authors are smart enough to see how their argument undermines the claims of their own field.

Comedians and Lawyers, theory vs practice, Socrates vs Aristophanes, etc.

"[T]he line between news and entertainment is inherently blurred"

So much for the distinction between high value and low value, propositional and expressive, serious and non-serious, parasitic speech.

So much for philosophy.

Friday, March 24, 2017

re: defenses of Charlie Hebdo and bans on Palestinian protests, freedom of speech vs freedom of "acceptable" speech. etc.
A weather report on the France 2 television channel broke broadcasting records last week. Some 5.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Mélanie Ségard, a 21-year-old woman with Down syndrome, take a turn as guest meteorologist on the network. Wearing TV makeup and an irrepressible smile, she forecast clouds and rain for most of the country and lots of sunshine for Marseilles.

Ms. Ségard fulfilled a lifelong dream to show that “I can do a lot of things,” as she put it on Facebook. But for French society, this was a fraught moment. It clashed with a strand of cultural liberalism that treats the existence of people like Ms. Ségard as an affront to reason and good taste.

Her appearance was facilitated by a disability-rights group ahead of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21. It was all the more heartening because previous efforts to bring visibility to people with disabilities in France have run afoul of broadcast regulations that restrict images of happy people with Down syndrome. Such images are undesirable, regulators argue, since they could give second thoughts to women who have sought abortions.

At its best, liberalism revels in the hubbub of a crowded marketplace of ideas. But a dour, self-righteous and conformist model has now come to define the liberal idea across much of Europe, one that brooks no dissent from the latest progressive precepts.

Those of us who worry about the fragility of the liberal order and growing populist sentiment would be well-advised to pay more attention to how people on the sharp end of such “liberalism” experience it.

Take the Down syndrome debate in France. The Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, upheld a ban last year on a World Down Syndrome Day TV ad that showed DS young adults, like Ms. Ségard, addressing a pregnant woman considering whether to terminate a DS fetus: “Your child will be able to do many things.” “He’ll be able to hug you.” “He’ll be able to run toward you.” “He’ll be able to speak and tell you he loves you.”

The “Dear Future Mum” ad risked “disturbing the conscience” of women who had aborted DS pregnancies, the Council of State held in a November ruling. As it is, nine of 10 fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome in France are aborted. Set aside the abortion and disability politics: It is hard to see how any ads about contentious issues would survive the ruling’s purely subjective standard. That is, if it’s applied consistently.
Yes, the author's an ass.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dear Verso,
The bourgeoisification and secularization of Islam is the march of capitalism, not a victory for the left. But should I point out the Vermeer reference for the kids who don't get the joke?



Saturday, March 18, 2017

I was planning a post, looking at the Brexit negotiations in terms of game theory (more precisely, bargaining theory), but Frances Coppola has saved me the trouble. One reason for my hesitation was concerns similar to those expressed by Ariel Rubinstein, in a 2013 piece that seems to be having a bit of a revival...
The Overton Window has moved.  It only makes sense that the first person at CT to admit to anti-Zionism is a blue-eyed Jew. The rest will follow; he's given them permission. And at some point Quiggin will consider putting Israel before the ICC, and of course will refer to opponents in the language of "Agnotology" [etc.] arguing that his own scientific understanding allowed him to come to the only logical conclusion.  Lets wait for the lies to start. Ain't Enlightenment grand?