Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eric Schliesser
Weber was too good a student of Nietzsche to fail to realize that "many old gods" always resurface even in secular ages, but in different guises. (iii) The religiosity we experience today is not wholly a reversal (although there may be some of that); today's religiosity is the (bastard?) off-spring of disenchantment (not to mention the disorder that comes from our hybrid financial-military-scientific-pharmaceutical states), in particular, the obsession with authenticity or sincerity.
Eric Schliesser
I am, however, skeptical of all manner of academic efforts that seem primarily aimed at DE-legitimatizing Israel as a Jewish state.


It's too fucking easy.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

With all that I've said recently, this post is the best thing Atrios has ever written on race. It's written at the level of abstraction, with the intelligence of a smart technocrat.
Without getting into this fully, it provides an excuse to point out that even relatively small amounts of racial bias sprinkled through the system can ultimately lead to rather large difference in outcomes, due to perfectly rational responses by those affected by racism. The basic story is that if you have to work 10% harder to do as well, you're probably going to work less hard. In economist speak, if the marginal benefit is less than the marginal effort you aren't going to bother. The stories of those exceptional individuals who rise above the system are heartwarming, but as a society we compare those individuals with the people who were born on third and narrowly manage to stay there even as they inexplicably and repeatedly try to steal second. When kids born to insane privilege barely manage to navigate their way through their teen and college years, it's absurd to expect a significant number of kids facing racism and other barriers to all hit homers their first time on the field.

Monday, December 26, 2011

updated twice

Clark Glymour at Choice and Inference
I am sometimes credited with the remark, due to Nelson Goodman, that “there are two kinds of people in the world: the logical positivists and the god-damned English professors.” While it’s a cute summary, I don’t agree. Departments of English provide sinecures for good authors who lack a mass audience and would otherwise go hungry or not write; they contain people who know a lot about the history of literature, and someone ought to know that. Similar plaudits apply to some faculty in history and in modern languages. Humanities departments also house faculty whose principal work is a great deal of foolishness, garbed in neolexia, who spread it to undergraduates. Nothing would be lost and something would be gained if these people were pruned from universities and offered work with brooms.
Two comments. The first was accepted after a period in moderation, then removed, then returned. The second was accepted (again, after first showing up on my screen as "awaiting moderation") then removed. It was badly written so I rewrote it and resubmitted it. It hasn't appeared.
Glymour first conflates philosophers of a certain type with literature professors and then literature professors with writers. He attacks the moral cowardice of those associated with literary philosophical academy, but few writers are academic. Proust was not a college professor; neither was Faulkner, Hemingway, Orwell or Beckett. It should concern all academics perhaps that so few linger to describe the aftermath of war, and if I'm going to choose among analogists of science I'll choose Primo Levi over Carnap. In formal logic out of M.C. Escher Glymour manages to attack the foundations of feminism and then accuse feminists of having no concern for rape victims. There's nothing else to say to that. It's too confused even to be offensive.

To stay within his limits: who's more responsible for the machineries of mass destruction in the 20th century, literary philosophers or Glymour's preferred, physicists and engineers? Levi after all isn't famous for his day job, except for how it served him as a writer. And if you like NASA, you can thank Werner von Braun. Ford invented Fordism; Gramsci only bought in.

The strength and weakness of science is in its amorality. The urge to unify science and morals is one of the moral disasters of the age. It calls us back to the 12th century, to pre-Renaissance anti-humanism. It would help us greatly if logicians stopped calling themselves philosophers. Democracy is a formal process but relativist as to truth. There are all sorts of philosophical and moral reasons for government to be designed this way, but logicians have never been happy about it. They should be honest enough with themselves and the rest of us to admit that it's democracy that bothers them.

Mathematics, computer science and logic are not philosophy, because engineering is not architecture.

Engineering is not architecture. Try disagreeing and arguing the point. See where it gets you.
The second comment was posted in response to another, on philosophy as offering advances in scientific methodology.
I should have added this below, or at least been more explicit, but it fits here. Aside from the moral failures of formalism in use (failures under a socially defined sense of morality that most of us accept) there are strictly intellectual ones. There’s no need to read specialist publications to witness the spectacular failure of mathematical modeling in economics, any newspaper will do. See also my reference to feminism, feminism as exemplary of knowledge resulting from experience, specifically the experience of a subset, albeit about half, of the total population. Abstractions begin as generalizations. Mathematical models are beautiful structures of assumption.

Questions of formalism qua epistemology are double: regarding whether a given model succeeds in doing what’s claimed for it, and regarding appropriate use. Both questions engage philosophy and neither are formal.
update- I really have to be careful reading this stuff. Previously I'd quoted an opinion as Glymour's when it's one he claims to oppose. My confusion arose from the fact that they're not that different.

The range of Alex Rosenberg's arguments could be combined and simplified to say, "physicalism and determinism for thee, dualism and free will for me". The Churchlands are like Puritan believers in predestination who nonetheless dress simply and with the utmost [predetermined?] false modesty to demonstrate that they're among the elect. Glymour's, "When is a Brain Like a Planet?" (available here), concerns questions of when our gods or godlike properties appear, not whether they do. The last sentence reads: "When it thinks, the brain is like a planet." I have to admit I'm not sure where to place it on this scale.

Android epistemology. Sad.
Again and again and again: Consciousness is not the product of unified complexity. It's the manifestation of a divide, between physical processes of calculation and conditioned response.

If you want an intelligent android, build a confused android.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

This is getting interesting. [See earlier posts]
Ron Paul Jesus
For some reason there are certain people in political life whose (in)fallibility is of supreme importance, both for their supporters and detractors. On THE LEFT I used to see this a lot with Noam Chomsky, with people who liked him saying things like, "I haven't ever seen him be wrong about anything," while his detractors would point to any little mistake as proof he was a tremendous liar bent on the destruction of the United States and perhaps THE WORLD.

by Atrios at 11:22
"...any little mistake"

TNR Angry White Man: The bigoted past of Ron Paul.

TPM 10 Shocking Quotes From Ron Paul’s Newsletters
1. “Order was only restored in LA when it came time for the blacks to collect their welfare checks. The ‘poor’ lined up at the Post Office to get their handouts (since there were no deliveries) — and then complained about slow service.” -Report on LA riots, June 1992

2. “I’ve been told not to talk, but these stooges don’t scare me. Threats or no threats, I’ve laid bare the coming race war in our big cities. The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through this one.)” -Direct mail ad promoting Paul’s newsletters, written from Paul’s perspective, 1993

3. “It is human nature that like attracts likes. But whites are not allowed to express this same human impulse. Except in a de facto sense, there can be no white schools, white clubs, or white neighborhoods. The political system demands white integration, while allowing black segregation.” -‘The Disappearing White Majority,’ January 1993
...
Atrios' politics regarding local issues, of land use, and gentrification have always been shallow and self-serving, and his dealings with issues of race have been similarly flat.[same link] I'd only recently looked back to his older comments about Palestine and Palestinians. He's a nasty piece of work.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Leiter and Rosenberg again. Leiter mocks Wieseltier's response but call's this "a more substantial review".
And Rosenberg argues that naturalism implies a left wing politics. The argument runs from the denial of free will. Scientism deconstructs the idea of a meritocracy. A determinist is going to be soft on crime because you can’t punish and ask retribution if there is no responsibility
A determinist will or will not be soft on crime but he will have no choice either way. He will or will not write books or teach philosophy or have a drink at 5pm on April 23rd 2112, but he will have no choice. He will or will not coin the term "nice nihilism" but he has no choice.

Physicalism requires that Alex Rosenberg and Lady Gaga have no choice but to be what they are. Lady Gaga might agree, but she's smarter than he is.
---

Archives
By DAVID K. SHIPLER Special to The New York Times ();
October 23, 1979,
,Section , Page A3, Column , words

[DISPLAYING ABSTRACT]

JERUSALEM, Oct. 22--A censorship board composed of five Cabinet members prohibited former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin from including in his memoirs a first-person account of the expulsion of 50,000 Palestinian civilians from their homes near Tel Aviv during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Full text reproduced here

"History is bunk", as Rosenberg argues, "iff" all knowledge is bunk, no more than marking of the motion of bosons and fermions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

D. Black
I'd like some more commentary on my general point, that non-right wing nutcase economists have been too soft on the right wing nutcase economists.

My observation from when I was in that world was that... most (majority, not supermajority) economists were probably DeLongish Democrats. More than people would think, anyway. But there was a bias against left-leaning (mostly center left-leaning) economists ever piping up in public, even if that was the prevailing sentiment. It was really kind of weird.
It's not "really kind of weird" it marks the modes of basic human relations and behavior: replace economics with Zionism. But arrogance makes it worse. Repeats.

Atrios in 2002:
David Duke, president of Americans in Support of Palestinian Freedom.
The organization is fictional, David Duke is not.

Yglesias, in 2002
After the last depressing news from the Middle East I think we have to start asking just how inhumane it would be for Israel to just expel the Palestinians from the occupied terroritories. [sic] The result would probably be out-and-out war with the neighboring Arab states, but Israel could win that.
Both, recently
DB: "I think a major consequence of the lack of reading non-fiction other than textbooks is that when in late high school or college teachers want research paper type things, the students have a lot of trouble largely because they've never read any."

linking to Yglesias:
"Like a lot of people I know, I read a lot and what I read is mostly nonfiction. But as Dana Goldstein points out in a great piece lots of Americans read very poorly and schools teach reading almost exclusively through fiction"
Tedra Osell yesterday at CT: Reading Coates Reading Eliot
He’s no callow undergrad and he writes better than anyone I can think of, which means reading him is not merely the familiar pleasure of observing students’ first encounter with a familiar novel. His frame of reference is totally intellectual but not “academic” in the conventional sense: rigorous but really fresh.
Her language makes me cringe.
Osell includes 8 links from Coates. I'll post two:
Into the Canon: Middlemarch
'All the Light I Can Command'

The powerful tell stories and call them truths. Hitchens in his piece on Isaiah Berlin linked below quotes Czeslaw Milosz: "Irony is the glory of slaves."

Monday, December 19, 2011



Castles In The Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata & The Masters Of Studio Ghibli
Saturday, December 17 - Thursday, January 12
IFC Center, NY
This post continued from another. I've moved everything there.
Easier to read in order.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Egypt.
Corey Robin on Hitchens. Recommended by Glenn Greenwald, via Chris Bertram in a comment at CT. The links in my comment are from other commenters at on the post.
Robin's addendum
Update (11:45 am)
Many seem to view Hitchens’s undeniable talent as a writer as a mitigating factor in their assessment of his legacy. Such arguments have a long history. On this question, I take my cues from one of our finest critics:
The simple yet appalling fact is that we have very little solid evidence that literary studies do very much to enrich or stabilize moral perception, that they humanize. We have little proof that a tradition of literary studies in fact makes a man more humane. What is worse — a certain body of evidence points the other way. When barbarism came to twentieth-century Europe, the arts faculties in more than one university offered very little moral resistance, and this is not a trivial or local accident. In a disturbing number of cases the literary imagination gave servile or ecstatic welcome to political bestiality. That bestiality was at times enforced and refined by individuals educated in the culture of traditional humanism. Knowledge of Goethe, a delight in the poetry of Rilke, seemed no bar to personal and institutionalized sadism. Literary values and the most utmost of hideous inhumanity could coexist in the same community, in the same individual sensibility….

…I find myself unable to assert confidently that the humanities humanize. Indeed, I would go further: it is at least conceivable that the focusing of consciousness on a written text which is the substance of our training and pursuit diminishes the sharpness and readiness of our actual moral response. Because we are trained to give psychological and moral credence to the imaginary, to the character in a play or a novel, to the condition of spirit we gather from a poem, we may find it more difficult to identify with the real world, to take the world of actual experience to heart…The capacity for imaginative reflex, for moral risk in any human being is not limitless; on the contrary, it can be rapidly absorbed by fictions, and thus the cry in the poem may come to sound louder, more urgent, more real than the cry in the street outside. The death in the novel may move us more potently than the death in the next room. Thus there may be a covert, betraying link between the cultivation of aesthetic response and the potential of personal inhumanity.

—George Steiner, "To Civilize Our Gentlemen,” in Language and Silence
I'd written a couple of basic comments and ignored the quote. An anonymous commenter didn't.
Steiner is saying that the humanities do not improve us, but, rather, they degrade us, or at least give us cover for self-degradation. How you don’t read that as a condemnation of the arts, I don’t know. I am of the opinion that pleasure is an important part of life, and that insisting that it serve “a greater good” in every case is foolish and joy-killing.
Anon defends the arts as pleasure but not their central function. Pleasure is inevitable so it's smart to understand what you enjoy, so that you may understand yourself. My longer comment
Until just now I hadn't read the quote from Steiner; I'd dropped by earlier to make a general comment on Hitchens, then I got dragged in.

Anon is right about the Steiner; the vulgarity is shocking, but it begins with Corey Robin's introduction: "Many seem to view Hitchens’s undeniable talent as a writer as a mitigating factor in their assessment of his legacy."

That just blew me away. Robin means to refer to Hitchens not as a writer but as a 'stylist': not the same thing. Here are two examples of Hitchens as a writer.

On Isaiah Berlin in the LRB, in 1998

The Vietnam Syndrome, on the legacy in Vietnam of Agent Orange, in Vanity Fair in 2006

Yes, the arts humanize: they bring things near, but intimate relations or their facsimile result in loyalty. You love what is near you also because it is near, and that can shut out what is still distant. Hitchens as I said above was a Modernist. He had ideals that by association with the people he knew and the ideas he respected and then again with himself, over time turned inward. His hopes turned into fantasies. He looked in the mirror and thought he saw the world. It's a risk we all face. Robin and Steiner represent a softer but no less ideological variant of Hitchen's fatal flaw as a thinker: they have more sympathy for ideas than for people, and are so arrogant that they allow their ideas to replace the world in their imaginations. That's the end of openness and curiosity. I'll repeat a comment [here] after my discovery of that godawful rag, Jacobin: In 100 years a group of earnest right-thinking bourgeois left-liberals will start a journal and title it "Hamas".

It's hard to engage fully with the present. It's morally necessary and necessarily morally dangerous. There's a risk for all of us of fantasies becoming not reality but 'our' reality. And that's not real. Hitchens' end was tragic in every sense.
A commenter responds: "...I’ll leave aside ‘Anon is right about Steiner’ – he isn’t, but there’s no point in saying so. What really struck me is your later comments:
‘Robin and Steiner represent a softer but no less ideological variant of Hitchen’s fatal flaw as a thinker: they have more sympathy for ideas than for people’.
This seems to assume that your own ideas aren’t ideological? What are they, then? I could just as well accuse you of ignoring the cries in the street, but don’t, because it’s not explicitly there in what you write?
I suppose if I knew what this meant:
‘Yes, the arts humanize: they bring things near, but intimate relations or their facsimile result in loyalty’
I’d understand more of your take on ideology?"

My response
Do you love your family and friends? If so, why? Are they any more deserving of love than others?

You love what you love because it’s near to you, the familial is the familiar. If you read a report about a man run over by a truck in Ouagadougou, the only thing that makes you “feel” a response to one man’s death is the ability of the author to bring you close to the event and return that man to life in your imagination. The author’s skill creates imagined proximity and you may feel moved, when otherwise you might have been indifferent. After all, people die every day. The author’s skill is called “art”.

The experience of European Jewry is close to us, the experience of Palestinian expulsion is not. I know people who will not sit or stand beside anyone who might call themselves a Zionist. They’re Palestinians and their anger is that strong. Is it unjustified? If so, why? As I said in a comment on the follow-up post, the word “Nakba” does not appear on this page. Why not? 3/4 of a million people cleansed from their land.

Irene Gendzier [linked here Dec 8]

Picking Apart the NYT/Zionist Narrative on the Nakba [linked here June17]

Read the second one. I got it from Nir Rosen. His response: “Fucking Brilliant!”

I’m not a moralist; moralism is a lie. My father’s family are Zionists and on occasion I stand next to them in public. Am I wrong? Take away the bloodthirsty rhetoric and Hitchens was a moralist, and especially late in his life a thoroughly corrupt one. Cory Robin is only a moralist but that’s not a good start.
The arts are dangerous. That’s why Plato was scared of them. But the politics of Platonism has always ended in barbarism.

Earler comments on Corey Robin's page are reposted on this one. See the tag below.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mr. Wall said he had come simply to make art, and because he had been invited. Regarding the conversation about Israel, he said, “I’m not here to help anyone to resolve these matters.”
Contrary to art world mythology Jeff Wall has always been a conservative, in the best, most serious meaning of the word. The same is true for Struth.

Hooray the War is Over

"But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here." Just as striking apparently as the fact that Marines "killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers."

Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq
The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers.

Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.

But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand. In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not “remarkable,” but as routine.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In re: keeping politics out of science. The fight over Plan B is a fight over values not science.

I've done this all before. Daniel Callahan on the "research imperative"
Though unfamiliar to most scientists and the general public, the term expresses a cultural problem that caught my eye. It occurs in an article written by the late Protestant moral theologian Paul Ramsey in 1976 as part of a debate with a Jesuit theologian, Richard McCormick. McCormick argued that it ought to be morally acceptable to use children for nontherapeutic research, that is, for research with no direct benefit to the children themselves and in the absence of any informed consent. Referring to claims about the “necessity” of such research, Ramsey accused McCormick of falling prey to the “research imperative”, the view that the importance of research could overcome moral values.

That was the last time I heard of the phrase for many years, but it informs important arguments about research that have surfaces with increasing force of late. It captures, for instance, the essence of what Joshua Lederberg, a Nobel laureate for his work on genetics and president emeritus of Rockefeller University once remarked to me: “The blood of those who will die if biomedical research is not pursued will be upon the hands of those who don’t do it.”
Lederman is a medical Stalinist, offering war communism in the war on disease. Millions for NASA or for water purification plants? Cancer research or poetry? The questions do not concern science.

Hermann Broch
For the esthetic in general as an expression of the supreme ultimate value of a system can influence the result of ethical action only secondarily, just as “wealth” is not the main goal but the side effect of individual commercial activity. And “wealth” itself is an irrational concept. It is an almost mystical process, the setting of ethical values: Arising from the irrational, transforming the irrational to the rational, yet nonetheless it is the irrational that radiates from within the resulting form.
Or if the desire to preserve life is logical, the logical can become illogical.
Science is a tool. Values are to things as emotions are to plant life. Love is a rose in our imaginations not the world.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Irene Gendzier: Why the US recognised Israel
... Developments on the ground in Palestine, however, could not be ignored. On May 3, eleven days before Britain’s departure from Palestine, the US Consul in Jerusalem reported on the collapse of Palestinian government with the warning that “unless strong Arab reinforcements arrive, we expect Jews overrun most of city upon withdrawal British force.” [1] The same officer reported in April on the steady advances of Jewish forces in “aggressive and irresponsible operations such as Deir Yassin massacre and Jaffa,” as well as what occurred in Haifa in the same period. The US Consul reported that British and others agreed in early May 1948 that “Jews will be able sweep all before them unless regular Arab armies come to rescue. With Haifa as example of Haganah military occupation, possible their operations will restore order.” [2] What kind of order? Haifa was known to the British, Iraqis and Americans chiefly through its oil refinery that processed Iraqi oil through IPC pipelines. Its takeover was unacceptable to the Iraqis and led to the destruction of the existing network of relations between Palestinian and Jewish workers.

Shortly thereafter, Robert McClintock, then with the US delegation at the UN, speculated that the Security Council would soon be confronted by the question as to “whether Jewish armed attack on Arab communities in Palestine is legitimate or whether it constitutes such a threat to international peace and security as to call for coercive measures by the Security Council.” [3] It was again McClintock who observed that if Arab armies entered Palestine leading Jewish forces to claim “that their state is the object of armed aggression and will use every means to obscure the fact that it is their own armed aggression against the Arabs inside Palestine which is the cause of Arab counter-attack,” the US would be obliged to intervene.[4]

Finally, some ten days before Britain’s departure, US Secretary of State, George C Marshall provided select diplomatic offices with his assessment of the condition of Arab regimes. He had few illusions as to which would survive.
Whole govt structure Iraq is endangered by political and economic disorders and Iraq Govt can not at this moment afford to send more than handful of troops it has already dispatched. Egypt has suffered recently from strikes and disorders. Its army has insufficient equipment because of its refusal of Brit aid, and what it has is needed for police duty at home. Syria has neither arms nor army worthy of name and has not been able to organize one since French left three years ago. Lebanon has no real army while Saudi Arabia has small army which is barely sufficient to keep tribes in order. Jealousies between Saudi Arabia and Syrians on one hand and Hashemite govts of Transjordan and Iraq, prevent Arabs from making even best of existing forces. [5]
Marshall’s remarks about Egypt were corrected by the US Ambassador who pointed out that Egypt’s ill equipped army was the result of British refusal to provide the Egyptians with viable equipment. The Transjordan military, as Marshall pointed out, was similarly dependent on British officers. Despite such conditions, Marshall warned that “this does not mean however that over long period Jewish State can survive as self-sufficient entity in face of hostility of Arab world.” And as he emphatically concluded, “If Jews follow counsel of their extremists who favor contemptuous policy toward Arabs, any Jewish State to be set up will be able survive only with continuous assistance from abroad.”

Furthermore, before and especially after Israel’s declaration of independence, US officials denounced the treatment of Palestinian refugees and called for their repatriation, an issue that was endorsed by the US President who had earlier taken the initiative in calling on the British, then still in Palestine, to permit the admission of 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine

[1] May 3, 1948, The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wasson) to the Secretary of State, FRUS 1948, V, part 2, p.889.
[2] May 3, 1948, The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wasson) to the Secretary of State, FRUS 1948, V, part 2,p.889.
[3] May 4, 1948, Draft Memorandum, FRUS 1948, V, part 2, pp.894-895.
[4] Ibid. p.895.
[5] May 13, 1948, The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Offices, FRUS, 1948, V, part 2, pp.983-984.
more

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


USA repeatedly shipped arms supplies to Egyptian security forces

On 1 December, a US State Department spokesperson confirmed that “export licences were approved to two US companies for the export of tear gas and other non-lethal riot control agents to the Egyptian Government. And the most recent export license approval occurred in July”.

"These licences were authorized during a period where the Egyptian government responded to protests by using excessive and often lethal force. It is inconceivable that the US authorities did not know of evidence of widely documented abuses by the Egyptian security forces. These licences should not have been granted," said Brian Wood.

A US State Department spokesperson said on 29 November, “we haven’t seen any real concrete proof that the Egyptian authorities were misusing tear gas.”
The Maspero Massacre was on October 9th. Michael?
Atrios links to Belen Fernández on Thomas Friedman.

I doubt he knows who she is or where she writes.
It would be interesting to think I'm wrong.

Interview at Jadaliyya

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Vancouver Sun
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia may consider acquiring nuclear weapons to match regional rivals Israel and Iran, its former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said on Monday.
As AA pointed out, not a peep from Israel.

He's also happy with the low voter turnout in the Egyptian elections. That's not so smart.
There's an ongoing discussion of Originalism at Balkinization, centering on JB's new book. The discussion itself is silly; Balkin's arguments are brilliant only in the context of that silliness. My comment on one of the threads
Let me explain it to you kids.
The problem was never originalism it was fundamentalism.

Wise old man Jack Balkin is playing Erasmus, subverting his opponents' argument by undermining its claims to exactitude. In admitting defeat, his old argument wins: we're all originalists now, debating the living meaning of originalism. The reactionaries' argument is no longer reactionary.

To paraphrase Nino: "The English language as I interpret it is a dead language." He's an idiot. A reactionary peasant. The Constitution is living because language is living. That terrifies him. It's anarchy! No, it's just sloppy. Life is sloppy.

But that fight matters less than it used to, since the real questions have left the courts and gone back to electoral politics. The age of the juridical vanguard is over; that's why some who are addicted to the old process are now questioning judicial review.

They miss the point

We have a reactionary court, so street [I should have written "electoral"] politics is back to center stage. Don't mourn, organize. It will all switch back in 50 years and strategies will change again.
Determinism, Culture, Philosophy, Politics,




Herzog, No One Wants to Play with Me, 1976

From Roger Ebert

Friday, December 02, 2011

Schliesser
I am, however, skeptical of all manner of academic efforts that seem primarily aimed at DE-legitimatizing Israel as a Jewish state. I have no trouble admitting that Israel was founded on historic injustice(s) many of which it continues to perpetuate. But I don't think Israel is particularly special in this regard (sadly), and I have never seen an argument for an academic boycott of Israel that wasn't also part of a wider campaign (including the persistent analogy with South Africa)--again, this is not to deny there are all kinds of second class citizens in Israel.
How is it possible that a state built and maintained in the interest of one community (as ES describes and defends it above: "a Jewish state") not relegate its other citizens to secondary status?
But I don't think Israel is particularly special in this regard (sadly)...
He's left defending what he's sad about. At the very best he's no more than an ethnic separatist and he should admit that he wants Arab citizens of Israel to leave.

My comments were removed as was Schliesser's response, which included this:
The folk that tend to obsess about Zionism, in particular, tend to have a peculiar focus.

Mondoweiss

Every text will have a subtext or a context that's read or seen first by outsiders. Schliesser can't think of himself as a bigot. He refers to his philosophical interest as scientific, but a Palestinian housewife can offer the rebuttal to his logic more powerful than any by those he would consider peers.

As always:


Recent posts at NewApps include "Increasing the percentage of female full professors"; "Freedom University", about college professors in Georgia organizing to teach illegal immigrants; "Take the pledge! Support UC Davis colleagues! Demand Katehi's resignation!", on the pepper spraying at UC Davis. The post on Israel and the Shalem center is real discussion, something that wouldn't have happened even 5 years ago, but it's not on the same level. Any of the others could just as well have the Palestinians as subjects: "Increasing the percentage of Arab full professors" in Israeli universities, teachers volunteering in refugee camps. The Palestinians are moving into our consciousness but Israelis are our friends: we treat each differently. That will change too, but that will not change the way things change.

I don't care about Schliesser's bigotry, only about the intellectual model that says it can't exist.
---
update: the debate is heating up
---
And now it's over. They can all agree about the rights of women in the American academy.

Schliesser's definition of nationalism conflates the nationalism of the French at home and in Algeria. To the Palestinians the Israelis are Pieds-Noir, and an Israeli university the equivalent of a Chinese school in Tibet, or one run by the BJP in Kashmir. The Palestinians are not wrong to think that.
I'll fix it later if I get around to it, and maybe add some images.

There's kind of artist who gets derives his politics from his fictions. The actor Gary Sinise is a cop after Jack Webb, his politics out of a cardboard character. Watching him you can sense he believes his own lies. I get the same sense from Borges, who conflates winkingly his ability as a story-teller to bring fantasies into existence, with his wish to make the fantasies come true in the world. But his work is decadent in a knowing way: that's the wink, but the irony is thin. At the end of The Rose of Paracelsus, he wants you to be surprised, to inhale a little sharply, at what is in fact no more than a simple language trick. Like a story by Saki but with metaphysical pretensions.
Before putting out the lamp and returning to his weary chair, he poured the delicate fistful of ashes from one hand into the concave other, and he whispered a single word. The rose appeared again.
Sinise is a liar who wants to believe his own lies; Borges is much smarter and hedges. But hedging is not honesty.

Borges
I would define the baroque as that style that deliberately exhausts (or tries to exhaust) its own possibilities, and that borders on self-caricature. In vain did Andrew Lang attempt, in the eighteen-eighties, to imitate Pope's Odyssey; it was already a parody, and so defeated the parodist's attempt to exaggerate its tautness. 'Baroco' was a term used for one of the modes of syllogistic reasoning; the eighteenth century applied it to certain abuses of seventeenth-century architecture and painting. I would venture to say that the baroque is the final stage of all art, when art flaunts and squanders its resources. The baroque is intellectual, and Bernard Shaw has said that all intellectual art is humorous. This humor is unintentional in the works of Baltasar Gracian, but intentional, even indulged, in the works of John Donne.
That's the best description I've read, both of Borges' work and the culture that promotes it.

Panofsky: "Barbara and Baroco"

Two recent posts here:
"The decadence of mannerism presents as the self-narrativizing of a concrete idealism, attempting to inoculate itself against increasingly dominant narrative (relativist) culture. Mannerism is the model of aristocratic art in an age of incipient democracy. The baroque is the same model of conservatism in the age of a fully ascendant democracy: the age of theater."

"Mannerism describes the aristocratic sensibility in an age of incipient democracy. The baroque is the same model of (describes) conservatism in the age of a fully ascendant democracy: the age of theater.
History shows that in art as in democracy (as in all culture whether wise men approve or not) practice precedes theory."

Compared to Borges, the conservatism of Clint Eastwood and the reactionary confusion of Mel Gibson are both fully theatrical, as opposed to baroque, and honest. But that's too simple. Rubens is conservative and baroque in the age of Rembrandt, but he is liberal (as Velazquez is almost in secret) in the context of his own conservative world..


For all those who think of Richter as a "conceptualist", the truth is that he's just a painter. If his work leads intellectuals to ask questions that's something else.

Video courtesy LVMH.