Wednesday, December 31, 2008

notes:
It's amazing how much the human animal argues from assumption. The only difference between TPM and RedState I think is that people at TPM have lived among a few openly homosexual negroes and have a little more understanding of technical logic.
The slow buildup for disgust with Zionism has had everything to do with the incrementalism of change in normative awareness and little with logic.
Equality under law is what it is, but somehow in the context of the mideast we've had decades of liberals attacking is as grossly unfair.
A little imagination doesn't go far at all.

related: an old fav.

"Religion, Self-Regulation, and Self-Control: Associations, Explanations,
and Implications" [PDF] linked NY Times [warning: John Tierney]

"Loving the Enemy: Militant Visions of the West" [PDF] from Conflicts Forum
This paper makes the argument that militants associated with Al-Qaeda speak from within the world of their enemies and possess no place outside it. Whether these enemies are Western democracies or Muslim liberals, militants derive strength from exploiting their weaknesses and contradictions rather than from some alternative ideology or social order. This accounts for the rapidity of militant mobilization as much as its diversity of recruitment, neither of which depend upon the indoctrination of young Muslims into a wholly foreign movement–however exotic their rhetoric and appearance. This intimacy with the world of their enemies is also what makes many such militants into suicidal individuals rather than the members of a collective movement, since their task is to destroy this world from the inside. The great paradox of violence of the Al-Qaeda variety is that it seeks the fulfilment of its enemies’ ideals rather than proffering any of its own, thus rendering militancy conceptually invisible and immune to attack by the liberal societies whose contradictions it seeks to illustrate.
The point is obvious, though still not discussed much. I wrote this 20 years ago.
In this century we have seen an escalation of attempts to remove ourselves from history, to distance ourselves from our actions and to try to avoid or escape the metaphysically complex world of our ancestors. But history was and will be a history of preference, and preference being a function of metaphysics, not of the world but of our perceptions of it.

Before the mid 19th century societies considered art a manifestation of a culture and not an illustration of it. If we accept this premise and assume that cultures including our own represent themselves through form and method and not through intellectualized processes of criticality and content, we can then try to study how esthetics or method are treated in critically produced environments, environments where ideas, objects and works of art "illustrate' concepts.

Societies, even slave owning societies, do not exist to oppress but by way of oppressing, at the same time existing as cultures that their citizens, as opposed to their victims, enjoy. When critical culture sees society simplistically as a series of absolute forces it recreates those forces (fighting an imaginary fire with fire) in an esthetic of totalization and universalization that becomes a parody of the past, as Fascism in its attack on bourgeois values is bourgeois parody of Monarchism; as the art of the Salon is precursor to the art of the Third Reich and to Stalin's Socialist Realism. All cultural groups exclude others, but by assuming that they exist for that purpose, as Fascism and Communism assumed. or as many on the “critical” [read: academic] left still do the issues are willfully occluded. Our "project" should be to understand this process, and to overcome the irrational fear of otherness, not to desire an absolute, unified, reified innately narcissistic 'one'.
The starting point of the piece was a discussion of why the art made in the horrors of earlier European history could rightly be considered great while the art made in the horrors of German Fascism and Stalinist Communism could rightly be called empty and banal, and relating that to the equally rightly assumed banality of the Parisian Salon of the mid 19th Century.

"This paper makes the argument that militants associated with Al-Qaeda speak from within the world of their enemies and possess no place outside it."
Thomas Mann made the same complaint about Kafka.
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In 2012 I started rewriting the paper quoted above. still going

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