Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Journalism is ambulance chasing, it's an important part of democracy, but it's not an art. Serial is "true crime" theater, trying to make art out of the living whether those depicted like it or not. It's the moral equivalent of photojournalism, war or trauma photography: poeticizingvoyeuristic "artistic" illustration. Serial was cheap before it was offensive -illustration before it was soft-core porn- but it became popular for the same reasons critics saw problems. Its popularity was based in prurience, and in getting away with prurience under the guise of seriousness. Without pretension, cheap is just cheap, and harmless, or even in the case of journalism important as a trade. It's possible for journalism or photojournalism to become art -as I've said before it was an old standard among journalists that the best writers were sportswriters- but that that has nothing to do with seriousness of purpose.

The affirmative form of the assumptions of the makers of Serial are in their own self-images, and it's safe to say that many critics of the show are equally as optimistic about themselves

It won a Pulitzer.
In retrospect especially, this post by Eric Rauchway, who's bemoaned "our anti-elitist day and age" [I've quoted it enough] is pretty funny.
Leiter: "The boycott statement from September contained falsehoods (plus the actual lawyer letter to Jenkins and Ichikawa)"
more... "The Daily Nous"

see... previous

Leiter's snide, mocking, speech was directed privately at an individual of lower rank. Salaita's moralizing indignant speech was broadcast on the web, but there were concerns over possible effect on those of lower rank. The "September Statement" resulted in Leiter stepping down from the PGR.

Leiter is on record questioning the value of free speech, offering qualified support for "hate speech" laws. His adversaries would agree.

The rule of law requires that laws treat all people as equals; it presumes that all people are equal. If people are unequal, who protects the weak from the strong if not the strong themselves. Power relations are reinforced, and round and round we go.

Links from Leiter.
2014
Q:" Zionism is racism"
A: “There are opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful"
2013
"She uses prostitution, she said, to illustrate that status stratification occurs in various groups considered deviant by society. She seeks volunteers from among assistant teaching assistants (who are undergraduates) to dress up as various kinds of prostitutes -- she named as categories "slave whores, crack whores, bar whores, streetwalkers, brothel workers and escort services." They work with Adler on scripts in which they describe their lives as these types of prostitutes. 
...She said that Leigh told her that there was "too much risk" in having such a lecture in the "post-Penn State environment,"
Leiter finally has his own tag


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lower middle class ethic of loyalty, and contradiction, and hypocrisy.

see the tag: "Dead Finks Don't Talk". A couple of the posts might not belong there, or were included for obscure reasons I've forgotten, or maybe black humor. I'll leave them.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Guardian "Amazonian tribe take initiative to protect their lands from dam project"
In September, a group of Munduruku made one last attempt to put pressure on the authorities. Making another long journey to Brasilia, they met Maria Augusta Assirati, then president of Funai. In an exchange filmed by one of the Indians on his mobile phone, Assirati conceded: “You are right. It is essential that your land is guaranteed because the land is under pressure from loggers, miners and a series of other elements.” 
However, in a tacit admission that she was being sidelined, Assirati added: “But I can’t dictate the priority interests of the government.” Nine days later, she left office. A few weeks after that, the Munduruku started the long process of digging posts in the ground to mark out their land.
Terry Turner, Chicago and Cornell, on the history of tribes with cameras.

"I realized that this is a way a very material way in which you can study the process of the formation of representations. It's a material… it's an objective correlative as TS Eliot might put it of that process and it it's a it was profoundly interesting. I thought it's an interesting …it's a field method. You know, my one contribution to I think the literature on methodology or field methods: become an assistant film editor of an indigenous cameraman as he edits footage. If you’ve done a shot record you have a total inventory of what the raw material, of the representation is, and then you cans see how he plays over this raw material and shapes it into a finished construction."
When he refers to people giving cameras to the Kayapo before he got there, I assume he's referring to visits in the 80's. He's been working with the Kayapo since 1962.

"You know, my one contribution to I think the literature on methodology or field methods: become an assistant film editor of an indigenous cameraman..." He's not laughing when he says that. He's smiling; I cracked up.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

repeats: M.J. Rosenberg
We are living in a time of exploding nationalisms. The blacks in America are the first to abjure the idea of assimilation, to realize the inherent lie in the concept of melting pot. Through black nationalism has developed a new black pride and hence the ticket to liberation 
Today’s young American Jew is a good bit slower. He desperately wants assimilation: Jewishness embarrasses him. He finds the idea of Jewish nationalism, Israel not­ withstanding, laughable. The leftist Jewish student is today’s Uncle Tom. He scrapes along, demons­trating for a John Hatchett, asham­ed of his identity, and obsessed with it. He cannot accept the fact that he is seen as a Jew, that his destiny is that of the Jews, and that his only effectiveness is as a Jew. But he wants to be an “American,” a left­ist American, talking liberation and aspiring WASP. He is a ludicrous figure. 
new: his son.

"Nicki Minaj ends year-long beef with Peter Rosenberg despite calling him ‘annoying’ 
"Chuck D's comments blasting the current state of urban radio, and Hot 97 in particular, got a response from Peter Rosenberg, one of the station's on-air personalities."
NYT: Two police officers sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn were shot at point-blank range and killed on Saturday afternoon by a man who, officials said, had traveled to the city from Baltimore vowing to kill officers. The suspect then committed suicide with the same gun, the authorities said.The officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were in the patrol car near Myrtle and Tompkins Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the shadow of a tall housing project when the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, walked up to the passenger-side window and assumed a firing stance, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said. He shot several rounds into the officers’ heads and upper bodies, the authorities said. They never drew their weapons.

...Mr. Brinsley, who had a long rap sheet of crimes including robbery and carrying a concealed gun, is believed to have shot his former girlfriend in Baltimore before traveling to Brooklyn, the authorities said. He made statements on social media suggesting that he planned to kill police officers, the authorities said.
His last post of FB. The caps are in the original.
I Always Wanted To Be Known For Doing Something Right....... But My Past Is Stalking Me And My Present Is Haunting Me.
Famous liberal blogger, linking to the NY Daily News:  "NYC tabloid code: 'cold blooded cop hater' = 'a black guy did it.' "

Eric Linsker, who's accused of throwing a garbage can over a railing at a couple of cops is white, a "Harvard-educated English professor" and a poet "from Brooklyn".


Skowski @decentralized "Two NYPD pigs shot. Here’s hoping they don’t make it."
"We’ll see. It’s about what I’d expect in this political climate. Wouldn’t write off the “lumpen”

Rafael Ramos and Wen Jian Liu

Saturday, December 20, 2014

"Kurt Gödel, meet David Addington"
Gödel and the mathematicians' fear of language. repeats, with the original telling of the story.
On September 13, 1971, Oskar Morgenstern recorded the following memory of Kurt Gödel’s 1948 Trenton interview with an official of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

“[Gödel] rather excitedly told me that in looking at the Constitution, to his distress, he had found some inner contradictions and that he could show how in a perfectly legal manner it would be possible for somebody to become a dictator and set up a Fascist regime never intended by those who drew up the Constitution. I told him that it was most unlikely that such events would ever occur, even assuming that he was right, which of course I doubted. But he was persistent and so we had many talks about this particular point. I tried to persuade him that he should avoid bringing up such matters at the examination before the court in Trenton, and I also told Einstein about it: he was horrified that such an idea had occurred to Gödel, and he also told him he should not worry about these things nor discuss that matter.

Many months went by and finally the date for the examination in Trenton came. On that particular day, I picked up Gödel in my car. He sat in the back and then we went to pick up Einstein at his house on Mercer Street, and from there we drove to Trenton. While we were driving, Einstein turned around a little and said, “Now Gödel, are you really well prepared for this examination?” Of course, this remark upset Gödel tremendously, which was exactly what Einstein intended and he was greatly amused when he saw the worry on Gödel’s face.

After this remark, Gödel wanted to discuss all sorts of questions relating to the Constitution of the United States and his forthcoming examination. Einstein, how- ever, rather deliberately, turned the conversation around. He told Gödel and me at great length that he had just read a rather voluminous account as to how it came that the Russians adopted the Greek Orthodox religion of Catholicism instead of the Roman Catholic faith.... Gödel did not want to hear any of this but Einstein in his sardonic way insisted on going into incredible details of this entire history, while I was trying to drive through the increasingly dense traffic at Trenton.

When we came to Trenton, we were ushered into a big room, and while normal- ly the witnesses are questioned separately from the candidate, because of Einstein’s appearance, an exception was made and all three of us were invited to sit down together, Gödel, in the center. The examiner first asked Einstein and then me whether we thought Gödel would make a good citizen. We assured him that this would certainly be the case, that he was a distinguished man, etc. And then he turned to Gödel and said, Now, Mr. Gödel, where do you come from?
Gödel: Where I come from? Austria.
The examiner: What kind of government did you have in Austria?
Gödel: It was a republic, but the constitution was such that it finally was changed into a dictatorship.
The examiner: Oh! This is very bad. This could not happen in this country.
Gödel: Oh, yes, I can prove it.
So of all the possible questions, just that critical one was asked by the examiner.
Einstein and I were horrified during this exchange; the examiner was intelligent enough to quickly quieten Gödel and broke off the examination at this point, greatly to our relief.”
I googled my reference above to find the first time I used it, and found Balkin and Levinson [pdf], which only makes sense. If you don't get the joke, and want to, start here, and end here [pdf p.44]
And again: it has it's own tag

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Leiter links to IHE
...After the class, another student approached Abbate to tell her that he was “very disappointed” and “personally offended” that she hadn’t considered his classmate's example about gay marriage more thoroughly, according to the student’s recording of the conversation, which was obtained by Inside Higher Ed. The student said he had seen data suggesting that children of gay parents “do a lot worse in life,” and that the topic merited more conversation. 
Abbate told the student that gay marriage and parenting were separate topics, since single people can have and adopt children. She also said she would “really question” data showing poor outcomes for children of gay parents, since peer-reviewed studies show the opposite (indeed, the major study showing negative outcomes for children of gay parents, by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, has been widely discredited). 
Regardless, the student said, “it’s still wrong for the teacher of a class to completely discredit one person’s opinion when they may have different opinions.” Abbate responded: “There are opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions, and quite honestly, do you know if someone in the class is homosexual? And do you not think it would be offensive to them, if you were to raise your hand and challenge this?”
my comment
The only appropriate response to the student's question would be to say loaded topics would derail the discussion of Rawls, and that while those issues are the most important issues that face us, in fact because they are so important, they should be discussed elsewhere outside the classroom. 
Academics now take the academy as arbiter of everything. Call it the authoritarian liberalism of good intentions. The purpose of the humanist academy to give us the tools to govern ourselves. The purpose of the neoliberal academy is to give us a new set of enlightened rulers. The conservatives in this case are right, just as liberals would have been right to make the same argument 30 years ago when the roles would have been reversed, about gay rights, or a few years ago, about Zionism. 
Q:" Zionism is racism"
A: “There are opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful" 
And of course the right answer to the student's question wouldn't have caused a backlash.
How many times: Academic freedom does not exist. Academic independence is granted through a political process.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Badiou reaffirms his commitment to Maoism..." in a "Lecture-Performance", sponsored by a bohemian luxury boutique in Manhattan.
The boutique owner sees the irony even if the audience doesn't.

repeats The seriousness of art and the seriousness of the academy.


Chris Rock is an intelligent and sophisticated observer of the world; it's fitting he wrote his remake of Love in the Afternoon with Louis C.K. Anglo-American culture doesn't have a great tradition of high art and cultures that do don't have a great tradition of democracy. Our good artists learn from high culture by discovering it, precisely because our academy whatever pretensions it may have to defending it, considers all art unserious. Rock is in the tradition is this sense of Eastwood and Tarantino, the opposite of von Trier, though they meet in the middle as makers of serious popular art, or popular serious art.

Interesting to watch Spiral, (Engrenages) for its observations/criticism/defense of the French inquisitorial system of justice, as opposed to the Anglo-American adversarial system. Characters' arguments for high moral purpose, described by the camera to show both its strengths and limits, have the air of the Church, and the innocence not of the young but specifically of young priests, younger sons from good families. Badiou is a representative of that tradition in decay.

The Anglo-American model of philosophy is less religious but also incapable of irony, which is why the answer to French philosophs is not Oxbridge pedants but playwrights and comedians. The makers of Engrenages are more honest than Badiou, just as the makers of The Wire and Breaking Bad are more honest than partisans of Rawls.

The above is all repeats, old wine in new bottles. Philosophers are rationalists; comedians are empiricists. Better late than never, comedians get their own tag.

Rock with Frank Rich. A theater critic and a comedian, a couple of intelligent, bourgeois, non-leftists.

This post above contradicts the ending of the previous one.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The most annoying thing about yesterday was watching Americans howling and tearing their hair out over the "new" "revelations". Irony was left mostly to others, if only because for most of the CIA's history torture was as well: SOAWatch

Most but not all.
---

All confirming the obvious.
Stanley Milgram’s 1963 experiments showed that proximity, of authority to subject and of subject to “learner”, was the main factor in affecting the level of obedience to the command to cause harm. An anthropologist will know why a guillotine is not like an ax and why a governor is not called an executioner even if the man who bears that title is only following orders. Again, such data are treated as irrelevant to philosophy, because once the point of view is chosen it can’t be changed. Rather than seeing the inevitability of competing perspectives of the actor and his victim, the moral issue to be faced is defined only through the experience of one of them and not the other. Philosophy searches for truth and perspectivism just doesn’t fit the bill. [p.13]
endless repeats
Proud liberals are unaware of their own foibles. Philosophers bemoan the fact that we feel our friends' pain and not the pain of strangers, but are loathe to admit the same behavior in themselves. Liberals empathize with those they know; the most they offer strangers is pity pressed up as policy. And in fact they have no desire to change their own behavior, since for the intellectuals that would require them to love their own children less, and for the rest it would require sacrifice, if less extreme. The result in both cases is confused, conflicted, sometimes demonstrative but affectless, passivity.

I spent an hour drinking with an NYPD detective: gang-squad, moving into homicide; Latino, a Marine vet with two tours in Afghanistan. He was convinced I had a history. He didn't believe me what I said my record was clean. Something about anger and code switching, I still do both without thinking. We talked about Garner.

The contempt of educated white liberals towards uneducated whites in relation to blacks: for white trash who have no advantage in life them but their whiteness. No real respect for working class, black or white, or for any group other than themselves, including equally educated foreigners.

Individualism is so engrained in American culture middle class and up that collective socialization of any sort seems odd, whether of the American working class or the bourgeoisie in other countries. It's mocked as inferior, celebrated as exotic, or responded to with blank indifference, even face to face. The last is simple rudeness.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Judith Levine in the Boston Review: Feminism Can Handle the Truth

2007. A letter to Emily Yoffe, "Dear Prudence", in Slate
Dear Prudence,
My husband is kind, supportive, funny, generous, smart, and loving. However, I feel like I must divorce him. Six years ago, when we were in our early 20s and had just fallen in love, after a night of partying and drinking, he woke me up in the middle of the night and started to have sex with me. I was dozing and still drunk and, yes, I took my panties off myself. But when I realized that it was not OK for him to make advances on me in my state, I pushed him away and ran out. He later felt so bad he wanted to turn himself in for rape. I was very confused and thought at times that I was overreacting and at others that I was raped. We painfully worked through this, but the incident made my husband very reluctant about having sex. This led to an agreement that he shouldn't be afraid of coming close to me in similar situations as long as he asked my consent. This made us feel better and I felt secure again. However, we just found ourselves in a very similar situation. After coming back from a friend’s wine tasting we went to bed and he started to kiss me. I liked it and went along, only to wake up in the morning and remember only half of it. Now I am in the same painful spot I was before and I can’t fathom how he could have ignored our agreement. Should I just drop it or am I right about feeling abused?
—Confused
Yoffee's response
...Stop acting like a parody of a gender-studies course catalog and start acting like a loving wife. If you can’t, then give the poor sap a divorce.
Lindsey Beyerstein's response.
Six years ago, Confused's husband did something to her that they both agree was wrong. It felt like rape to her and to him. Depending on the law in their state, it may well have been rape. Regardless, she was traumatized by the experience, and so was he. (I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he honestly thought she was capable of consent and consenting the first time.)
Read Judith Levine.

Also see the previous post. Follow the links at the bottom of the post back to Beyerstein from the same period. I had no idea she was quite this bad.

The neoliberal logic of social life as contract, at Crooked Timber. Read all the comments.
all repeats.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Josh Marshall has kept this on the front of TPM for two days. It amazes me.

"A TPM Reader takes stock of the week and what it means ..."
As someone who defended "Jackie" and the story all week, I felt let down, and then realized with some disgust I was disappointed that she had not been raped. In thinking further about my reaction, it seems what this really is about - and Ferguson and the countless other deaths of young Black teens - is balance of power. And the reason I, and others, are quick to defend the victims in these cases is because it confirms a version of the world we already believe: that young women and African-Americans are often disenfranchised in our culture, specifically with regard to large and traditional bastions of power where the loudest, richest, highest-status voices tend to drown out minority perspectives.

I went to Harvard in the early aughts and spent many late, dark nights in final clubs - their version of frats, as I'm sure you know - and can't say any of these details surprised me or rung false. And while the specifics and veracity of this particular story (and RS' reporting in general) are relevant, I'm worried we're missing the macro point that women are perpetual guests in these establishments and what that does to the overall culture and mentality of otherwise self-respecting men.

I'm sure you remember Lord of the Flies. I don't know how it is with frats but at least at Harvard there was ZERO oversight from the school, (presumably to avoid lawsuits about underage drinking and sexual assault), which only reinforced a feeling that these boys were above the law.

Senior year, I was dating someone in one of the oldest final clubs, where non-members are not allowed past the foyer. One late night, a friend of mine found herself alone in the entryroom with two guys, one of whom was a member, both of whom were in the closet. They somehow made it upstairs, as a threesome, where, according to my friend, the two guys proceeded to hook up. (She felt as though she were only there to legitimize their behavior in their own eyes.) When she shared this story with my boyfriend, he freaked out and called a meeting with the other members in his class. They proceeded to alert the graduate board, who also met and eventually made my friend and the other non-member sign some kind of nondisclosure agreement. And no one was even concerned about rape accusations; this was all because they were worried about being outed.

I had my own murky sexual encounter in one of these clubs - the first time I ever drank and smoked weed on the same night - and the University stopped at recommending a counselor, whom I spoke to on the phone a few times. (To be clear, I have no idea what their response would have been had I been more inclined to pursue the issue.)

Of course, it may turn out that none of these details are true and the story is completely fabricated. But my point is, in our rush to "solve" this rape like journalistic detectives, we're avoiding a larger conversation about the male/female balance of power at these large universities and how the universities themselves address it.
Read the fourth paragraph; you shouldn't have to read it carefully. It's anti-feminism, straight up: women need to be protected not only from assault but from embarrassment, insult and vulgarity on the part "of otherwise self-respecting men". It's the sexual politics of John Mayer, Josh Marshall, Maria Farrell, Belle Waring, et al. See Feminism, etc.

Equality is predicated on agency: on justice, not on mercy (since someone recently pointed to Isaiah Berlin), and not on gallantry or chivalry, or any other form of gentlemanly condescension. Lady Feminist is as oxymoronic as Liberal Zionist.
see also the following post. It's all beyond parody
---

Determinism is what it is. Arguments from exceptionalism are absurd. Henry Farrell argues for sociology over economics, but not for anthropology over both. He chooses Weber over Proust, first order over second-order curiosity, technocracy over humanism, self-blindness over irony.
So fucking boring.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A commenter at CT hopes that the choice if image isn't "entirely ironic". Rockwell had a better sense of irony than Brighouse. Look at the bottom right corner of the image.
Challenging some of our most commonly held beliefs about the family, Brighouse and Swift explain why a child’s interest in autonomy severely limits parents’ right to shape their children’s values, and why parents have no fundamental right to confer wealth or advantage on their children.
A confused mix of idealist individualism and statist moral authoritarianism, bound by the imperatives of non-contradictory logic and the need for "truth." So much for instilling a sense of republican virtue in the young.

repeat. Peter Thiel is right.
I remain committed to the faith of my teenage years: to authentic human freedom as a precondition for the highest good. I stand against confiscatory taxes, totalitarian collectives, and the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual. For all these reasons, I still call myself “libertarian.” 
But I must confess that over the last two decades, I have changed radically on the question of how to achieve these goals. Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.
The Thiel quote originally through Corey Robin (I don't remember where) who (repeats of repeats) doesn't understand the the implications of his own arguments. You can't be for revolution and against disruption. Permanent revolution is Modernist fantasy and capitalism's fantasy of itself.

Democracy is an ideology; virtues are inculcated or they're not. In order for the people to remain free, persons need to be raised into the role of citizens.
Brighouse’s philosophy, like Cohen’s, like all the liberalism of ideas, is deeply anti-social, laced with the melancholy superiority of a schoolmaster of a school for wayward youth. [p.30]
Again and again:
"If her interests have the same value as his, then my interests must have the same value as yours." 
The opposite of virtue. And a license for the state to impose virtue on those without it.

Brighouse and "Legitimate Parental Partiality"
Rockwell, as artist.
Brighouse and Quiggin, (and again) prefer kitsch.

The Golden Age of Ozzie and Harriet, Ken and Barbie.
update, and repeats, for comedy's sake
comment 79 by engels
Congratulations!
My favourite kid’s comment on a book was GA Cohen’s kids on Jonathan Glover’s ‘What Sort of People Should There Be’ (according to Cohen): “That’s easy, they should be like us!”
Cohen, also in the quoted reference above: "I'm not a morally exemplary person, that's all.”
I wrote a book called If you're an Egalitarian How Come You're so Rich? And the final chapter discusses fourteen reasons people give for not giving away their money when they're rich but they profess belief in equality, twelve of which are, well, rubbish. I think there are two reasonable answers that a person who doesn't give too much of it away can give and one of them has to do with the burden of depressing yourself below the level of your peer group with whom you're shared a certain way of life, and in particular, depriving your children of things that the children around them favor. And also, and slightly separately, the transition from being wealthy to being not wealthy at all can be extremely burdensome and the person who has tasted wealth will suffer more typically from lack of it than someone who's had quote unquote the good fortune never to be wealthy and therefore has built up the character and the orientation that can cope well with it.
What an asshole. And what fucking idiots.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

posted elsewhere
renren links to Reason, so I think it's only fair.  Riley is on the editorial board of the WSJ, and the book is published by Encounter. Caveat emptor. 
If you want to make these sort of arguments seriously then you have to go to the left not the right. See Derrick Bell's arguments against the Brown decision. Right wing Burkeanism is colored more by greed than honest pessimism.

As for the post itself, the mannerisms of American suburban or middle-class "emo"-ism for lack of a better term, of pained liberalism, are hard to take.

"I spent a day and a half trying to find an effective way to communicate the pain, frustration, anger, sadness I was feeling to my friends, peers, and colleagues online, particularly those that seem to live in an alternate reality."

Americans excluding immigrants regardless of race or class live in an alternate reality. The US has been openly at war for almost all of this century, and less openly since at least 1945. Racism is real and current. The existence of the US base at Guantanamo is proof of that, ignoring what's happening there at the moment. And if I had to choose between [life as] a black American man or a Palestinian man in the West Bank or Gaza which would be safer?

Most whites are racist, at least "just-a-little-bit". Most men are at least, "just-a-little-bit" sexist. Both are a given. Years ago when I forgot -literally- that the woman I was seeing at the time was black it was a happy surprise; I'd never assumed. But liberals assume, and lie to themselves, and they're always shocked by the racism of others. In 2008 they were shocked by this. The friend who showed me the story was smiling ear to ear because he knew it meant Obama was going to win.
"We're voting for the nigger". The battle-hardened recognize progress when they see it.

It's also that having grown up as a white kid in a mostly black neighborhood the soft lectures of black people now ensconced in the world of comfortable and sincere white liberalism directed at their equally earnest white peers, also is hard to take. Academics who make claims to righteous anger often want it both ways: indulging the bourgeois pleasures of the groves of academe while writing about storming the walls of some fortress elsewhere, if only in their imagination. And more and more the academy is treated like a church, not only a place apart but openly and clearly above. And what's the politics of that?

A paragraph from a piece I found through the Savage Minds twitter feed.

"My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK" From a list of things the author did not expect.
I didn't expect to have to wrap my arms around Leo, a Chicano student who stood shivering and sobbing in front of Poughkeepsie police after getting jumped on Raymond Ave by kids he called "my own people." Didn't expect to take him to the police station and have the questioning officer ask Leo, "Why do you use the term 'Latino'? Can you tell me what country the boys who jumped you were from?" The officer told Leo that his partner was Colombian and could tell where a person was from just by looking at them. Leo told me that he felt "most Chicano, most Latino, and most like a Vassar student" that night.
What kind of life would a Chicano kid in the US most likely have had to be shocked to be jumped by "my own people."? And what bubble would he have to have lived in to say that he felt "most Chicano, most Latino, and most like a Vassar student" after being shocked again by the cop's question? Vassar is part of a very specific bubble, an east coast prep-school college.

The politics of all of this is not only conflicted but confused, by a very American unwillingness to face the conflicts in one's own life.
And so it goes.
When Christian artists did begin to single out Jews, it was not through their bodies, features, or even ritual implements, but with hats. Around the year 1100, a time of intensified biblical scholarship and growing interest in the past, as well as great artistic innovation, artists began paying new attention to Old Testament imagery, which had been relatively neglected in favor of New Testament illustration in early medieval art. Hebrew prophets wearing distinctive-looking pointed caps began appearing in the pages of richly illuminated Bibles and on the carved facades of the Romanesque churches that were then rising across western Christendom.

...In the second half of the twelfth century, a new devotional trend promoting compassionate contemplation of the mortal, suffering Christ caused artists to turn their attention to Jews’ faces. In an enamel casket dating to about 1170, the central Jew in the group to the left of the crucified Christ has a large, hooked nose, all out of proportion both to his own face and to the noses of the other figures on the casket. Though this grotesque profile resembles modern racialist anti-Semitic caricature, it does not seem—yet—to bear the same meaning. No Christian texts written up to this point attribute any particular physical characteristics to Jews, much less refer to the existence of a peculiar “Jewish nose.” Instead of signaling ethnic hatred, this Jew’s ugly visage reflects contemporary Christian concerns. In accord with the new devotions, artworks had just begun to portray Christ as humbled and dying. Some Christians struggled with the new imagery, discomfited by the sight of divine suffering. Proponents of the new devotions criticized such resistance. Failure to be properly moved by portrayals of Christ’s affliction was identified with “Jewish” hard-hearted ways of looking. In this and many other images, then, the Jew’s prominent nose serves primarily to draw attention to the angle of his head, turned ostentatiously away from the sight of Christ, and so links the Jew’s misbegotten flesh to his misdirected gaze.
A better title for a better essay, in two parts, would be How Europeans became White, followed by How the Jews Became White. The bottom photo is Sara Lipton


forward, and again.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Kajieme Powell: "Shoot me, already!"
Michael Brown, according to Darren Wilson: “You're too much of a pussy to shoot me.”
I don't think Wilson's lying about that.

Watching the anger of white and Jewish liberals who show no more than pity for teenagers in Gaza and the West Bank.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

An old post I never wrote. related to one just below, and one earlier, and back.


To be born and raised in a community is not to have a choice: the world is what it is. We can go on to try to change the order of that world (which in fact is changing always), but "intentional" communities do more than that; they're founded in self-description, denying not only outside interference but outside interpretation, demanding acknowledgement for a world of their own making. At the lowest level it's simple fascism. "Israeli" is more of an invention than "Palestinian",  if less so than "Aryan", but the opinions of outsiders in both cases are claimed to mean nothing.

In fact those claims are merely cover. Any serious definition of fascism puts the lie to them. Self-love and self-hatred are inseparable, the first being merely an ideologized -armored- reinforcement of the basic need for self-respect. The difference between camp and kitsch is the difference between the fat bearded man in a tutu who expects you to laugh and the fat bearded man in a tutu who points the gun at your head and dares you to say he's not a ballerina. Fascism by definition is kitsch. And we're back to Freud
In a passage from one of the Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis Freud says that as the result of a successful treatment repression is replaced by 'the condemning judgement'. He doesn't explain the difference between the two. What's the difference between "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother" and "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother." Is the first, louder and more nervous? More declarative? More cocksure? I don't know but it's a question conceptualists can't answer.
Conceptualists don't/can't understand performance. They refuse to interpret, or they oppose it. The irony, as I've said again and again, of liberals mocking Scalia's originalism reading the past is their own originalism reading into the future. That written words "mean what they mean" and that I "mean what I say and say what I mean", and that I am "what I say I am", all make make the same argument. Scalia's Catholic anti-individualism and liberal individualism both stand against interpretation, which can only be the interpretation of others, in the present and future: the judgement of outsiders and the judgment of history.

The woman above wants her government to see her as she sees herself. Why does it matter so much to her? She stumbles over the admission that she was born female. Why is she fixated on binaries? Why does she take the government bureaucracy so seriously that she needs it's approval of her self-disgust?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Art of Future Warfare Project A project of the Atlantic Council
Vision
A world in which artists — writers, illustrators, directors, videographers — and creativity enjoy a valued place in the defense establishment’s planning and preparation for the future of warfare and social conflict; in where unconventional, imaginative thinking and expression contribute meaningfully to the study and professional conduct of diplomacy, defense policy, and military operations; in which fiction about future wars hold a regular place on the reading lists of military professionals.

Mission
The Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare project is driven by the Scowcroft Center on International Security’s mandate to advance thinking and planning for the future of warfare. The project’s core mission is to cultivate a community of interest in works and ideas arising from the intersection of creativity and expectations about how emerging antagonists, disruptive technologies, and novel warfighting concepts may animate tomorrow’s conflicts. We will create a platform for this community — the Art of Future Warfare web site, activate social media around this mission and host live events. The project will curate artistic renderings of future warfare through crowd-sourced “war-art challenges,” and publish collections of these works. The project also will cultivate an audience within the traditional defense community for this creative approach to understanding the future of warfare and social conflict.
August Cole
Dave Anthony and Call of Duty
Dave Anthony, former writer and director for the megahit video game franchise Call of Duty, wants the U.S. government to explore stationing soldiers in schools.
repeats and repeats. Instrumentalism and illustration, left and right, literally. "It is painful to note that we find similar errors in two opposed schools: the bourgeois school and the socialist school. ‘Moralize! Moralize!’ cry both with missionary fervor."

Fascism is military moralism. Conceptualism is reactionary, always. It's fantasy.

"Literature as art is the discussion of values as manifest in actions. That the actions are fictional is irrelevant."

The element of fantasy is secondary. More repeats, and relevant.
"But art is not essentially content. Art is essentially form. Art is object, not subject."
So Ursula Le Guin, a fantasy author, of all people, is the first to say the obvious.
also
War can be used as entertainment in two ways by two groups of people: those who treat it as a game played by choice -a deadly game but one that can be left and rejoined- and those who know only war. The most important difference is that the former have never been the victims of a war, only the warriors. They didn't learn to kill by feeling pain.
Jack Webb, cardboard, and "Collegiate Gothic"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When we ask the reason for this curious separation between classical motifs invested with a nonclassical meaning, and classical themes expressed by nonclassical figures in a nonclassical setting, the obvious answer seems to lie in the difference between representational and textual tradition. The artists who used the motif of a Hercules for an image of Christ, or the motif of an Atlas for the images of the Evangelists acted under the impression of visual models which they had before their eyes, whether they directly copied a classical monument or imitated a more recent work derived from a classical prototype through a series of intermediary transformations. The artists who represented Medea as a mediaeval princess, or Jupiter as a mediaeval judge, translated into images a mere description found in literary sources.

This is very true, and the textual tradition through which the knowledge of classical themes, particularly of classical mythology, was transmitted to and persisted during the Middle Ages is of the utmost importance, not only for the mediaevalist but also for the student of Renaissance iconography. For even in the Italian Quattrocento, it was from this complex and often very corrupt tradition, rather than from genuine classical sources, that many people drew their notions of clasical mythology and related subjects.

Limiting ourselves to classical mythology, the paths of this tradition can be outlined as follows. The later Greek philosophers had already begun to interpret the pagan gods and demigods as mere personifications either of natural forces or moral qualities, and some of them had gone so far as to explain them as ordinary human beings subsequently deified. In the last century of the Roman Empire these tendencies greatly increased. While the Christian Fathers endeavored to prove that the pagan gods were either illusions or malignant demons (thereby transmitting much valuable information about them), the pagan world itself had become so estranged from its divinities that the educated public had to read up on them in encyclopaedias, in didactic poems or novels, in special treatises on mythology, and in commentaries on the classic poets. Important among these late-antique writings in which the mythological characters were interpreted in an allegorical way, or "moralized," to use the mediaeval expression, were Martianus Capella's Nuptiae Mercurii et Philologiae, Fulgentius' Mitologiae, and, above all, Servius' admirable Commentary on Virgil which is three or four times as long as the text and was perhaps more widely read.

During the Middle Ages these writings and others of their kind were thoroughly exploited and further developed. The mythographical information thus survived, and became accessible to mediaeval poets and artists. First, in the encyclopaedias, the development of which began with such early writers as Bede and Isidorus of Seville, was continued by Hrabanus Maurus (ninth century), and reached a climax in the enormous high-mediaeval works by Vincentius of Beauvais, Brunette Latini, Bartholomaeus Anglicus, and so forth. Second, in the mediaeval commentaries on classical and late-antique texts, especially on Martianus Capella's Nuptiae, which was annotated by Irish scholars such as Johannes Scotus Erigena and was authoritatively commented upon by Remigius of Auxerre (ninth century). Third, in treatises special treatises on mythology such as the so-called Mythographi I and II, which are still rather early in date and are mainly based on Fulgentius and Servius. The most important work of this kind, the so-called Mythographus III, has been tentatively identified with an Englishman, the great scholastic Alexander Neckham (died 1217); his treatise, an impressive survey of whatever information was available around 1200, deserves to be called the conclusive compendium of high-mediaeval mythography, and was even used by Petrarch when he described the images of pagan gods in his poem Africa.

Monday, November 17, 2014

"The demimonde by definition is anti-humanist and anti-democratic. Modern libertines are libertarians, though some grow out of it. Most rebels as they grow older, if they make it, retire as liberals."

She's had connections at the Vatican for decades, a mutual friend of Jimmy DeSana

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"My mental health file whirs to life in 1969 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’d recently left Opus Dei, the Catholic religious order to which I’d committed my young soul, and a major depression had followed. "

I told Scialabba at some point that his early experience with Plato and Opus Dei had done lasting harm to his imagination, that he had a weakness for authority. He responded, like a Jesuit, that since his opinions were unpopular he didn't have authority on his side.
Patient is seen as a courtesy visit because he is no longer actually eligible for consultation here, as he graduated here from the college [Harvard] in June of this year. He has plans to attend Columbia Graduate School.

He comes with very intense questions regarding Catholicism. In the last several months he has begun to question increasingly whether he can support a body of thought which stresses orthodoxy and lack of investigation. He approaches the problem with me and with himself quite intellectually, but he is indeed, in spite of intellect, feeling in much emotional turmoil over this. Support was given to him to move towards a middle ground, which, in his style, is very hard for him.

He has felt frightened of the loss of the church, and, therefore, it was clarified that he need not give up the church, or an organization to which he belongs in the church, to pursue his questioning, and that he would not be able to be content in any position he took until he opened up the questions with himself and others. He was also concerned that some of his actions have been inappropriate, and I did not feel that they were inappropriate save that they were indicative of a young man in considerable turmoil over some very important questions in life, and this was stated to the patient.
Search [in Shakespeare] for statesmanship, or even citizenship, or any sense of the commonwealth, material or spiritual, and you will not find the making of a decent vestryman or curate in the whole horde. As to faith, hope, courage, conviction, or any of the true heroic qualities, you find nothing but death made sensational, despair made stage-sublime, sex made romantic, and barrenness covered up by sentimentality and the mechanical lilt of blank verse.
Scialabba hates literature. He's the perfect literary critic for readers of Max Weber
Consider a discipline such as aesthetics. The fact that there are works of art is given for aesthetics. It seeks to find out under what conditions this fact exists, but it does not raise the question whether or not the realm of art is perhaps a realm of diabolical grandeur, a realm of this world, and therefore, in its core, hostile to God and, in its innermost and aristocratic spirit, hostile to the brotherhood of man. Hence, aesthetics does not ask whether there should be works of art.
"Scialabba's jeremiads are celebrated by technocratic readers only because they won't change a thing: technocracy wins regardless. There's a nastiness behind that, a hidden nihilism, their bloody valentine to the humanities that can offer nothing in return."

"Literature as art is the discussion of values as manifest in actions. That the actions are fictional is irrelevant."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Technocracy and the individual imagination: atomism and the Bomb; Weber, and Daniel Bell


It started with a glib comment elsewhere about Stella and Murakami, but it makes sense to continue



Spilled Aluminum appliqué.
Zhang Yimou, Gursky, and Kubrick







and Koons

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Henry Farrell, and his sister:

Confessional Brezhnevism and Brian Farrell
The Boston Review have just put up a piece I wrote on Ireland’s internal Cold War, which wasn’t about politics, but religion. My generation (and Kieran’s; and Maria’s) grew up in an Ireland where the Catholic Church’s control of politics and society was visibly rotting away from inside, but still strong enough to foreclose the alternatives. It was like Brezhnevism – a dying system, but one strong enough to make it difficult to imagine what life would be like if it were gone.

One vignette from the piece, describing the moment when Bishop Eamon Casey was revealed to have had a long term relationship and child resulting from same.
The day the news broke, I met one of my professors, who had a sideline as a scrupulously evenhanded television host, wandering across campus in dazed delight. “It’s over,” he said. “They’ve lost.” He was right.
Farewell to all that
The Union Jack came down in Camp Bastion today, marking the end of the UK’s combat role in Afghanistan and its misconceived campaign in Helmand Province; the campaign with no strategy, less chance of success and a gossamer-thin plan.

...Nineteen billion pounds. Twenty thousand Afghan civilians. Four hundred and fifty three UK soldiers. More Afghan National Army killed last summer than UK troops throughout the whole war. More poppy seed than ever growing in Helmand, but lots more children in school, too.

Was it worth it? Well if you’ve figured out a workable and not-obscene calculus of human pain and worthwhile profit, let the rest of us know.

I knew one of the four hundred and fifty three, but only superficially. He was deputed one autumn evening to squire me around the officers’ mess when E was already gone. He made sure I had drinks and was warm enough, saw me into the dining room, flirted chastely back and manfully ignored the younger women. It was like something out of Thackeray. Beautiful manners on the eve of battle.

...Later, driving through the gold-tinged dusk of a Wiltshire summer evening, I rounded the corner of B-road to see the flag again, flying in someone’s garden. I had to pull over.

That’s not my flag and never will be. It’s just something someone I slightly knew died for.
She cried for a British soldier, not for the Afghans.

Chicks Dig the Uniform
My husband, E, has been deployed to Afghanistan for six months.
I Love a Man in Uniform
I almost hesitate to make this recommendation, as my taste has cloven to the mainest of main streams since I became an army wife.
Reader, I married him
Sometime in Spring, two years ago, my brother Henry received a hand-written letter from a woman in Ireland he’d neither met nor heard of. It was a letter of introduction. The person being introduced was Edward, “a decent, entertaining fellow. We have known him all our lives.”

...A month or two later, I phoned to say I’d be arriving that evening from L.A. for a couple of weeks in the DC office. Henry pressed the letter into my hands as I arrived on the doorstep. He was rushing to the airport and thought I might have more time to take an interest.

The letter came via a circuitous route from a tenuous connection; Meg, Edward’s godfather’s wife who was also my mother’s friend Mary’s book club companion. It was prompted by a misunderstanding between a son who was monosyllabic about his social life and a mother who thus assumed he had none. It came from the peculiarly Anglo-Irish practice of proper letter-writing, and directly from that rare person who said ‘I must write them a letter’, and actually did.
Where is the love?
Ugh, I feel ill. I had been mellowing on Pope Benedict. It’s hard (not to mention wrong) to keep hating on someone you pray out loud for every Sunday. 
I've always associated libertarians and libertarianism -absent "civil" libertarianism- with people, mostly sons, born into and frustrated by "backwards", tradition-bound societies, born also after the failures of communism. It's the last "scientific" prescriptive theory of culture.
...my mental model of Tyler often sit[s] on my shoulder while I blog, making polite and well reasoned libertarian criticisms of my arguments..."
If the Farrells were Muslim, Henry's sister would be in Hijab. If they were Iranian, she would be a religious liberal reformer; if they were Jewish they'd be Zionists.
---

I'd written that in all cases I'd be more sympathetic to her blindness than his, but I'm not sure. As it is she's chosen the life not of a married woman but a wife, and a military one at that. And given the context, not of religion or even conservative religion but global politics and power, that choice, as Jim Hoberman said in the last sentence of his review of Zero Dark Thirty, "leaves an aftertaste of gall".

Evidence of the fading of Henry's interest in libertarianism, nine months after the reference to Cowen: his discovery of Gambetta and Hertog. And I'd used the earlier quote before, but hadn't remembered others' reactions. He was behind the curve even among his peers. They've come a long way.
---

I forgot about this.
Al-Ghazali, as quoted by Ernest Gellner, puts Mannheim’s point more pithily – "the genuine traditionalist does not know that he is one; he who proclaims himself to be one, no longer is one."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

More fun  (see previous)
ZM
dsquared,

“I notice that all the blokes opining away that everyone ought to do their own housework (and that housework is qualitatively different from any other form of labour; personally I think it’s disgraceful that people are too lazy to manage their own mutual funds or write their own novels) are …well…blokes.”

You noticed wrongly since I am not a bloke .

I also said housework should be equitably shared by household members not made to be a woman’s responsibility.

in public spaces of commerce, industry, or civics it is appropriate to have people employed to do the housekeeping and cleaning. In domestic spaces people should do their own housekeeping unless they have a disability and need assistance.

i hope with your argument that domestic housekeeping is a field suitable for paid labour you also think housekeepers should be paid the same as managers of mutual funds?
dsquared
"In domestic spaces people should do their own housekeeping unless they have a disability and need assistance."

… Because blah blah blah Thoreau. Apologies for getting your gender wrong but really, this is so much gasping rubbish that I can’t believe people don’t notice they’re mistaking a personal aesthetic preference (or more likely, a half remembered childhood rule) for an insight into morality
Every major mistake I've watched Daniel Davies make has been a mistake of social -intimate- empiricism. This was linked in the previous post. It ends with this. If the link ever dies I've saved a copy of the page.

Wiping piss stains off your own bathroom floor is not the same as wiping the shit off your own ass, but it's closer to it than most other jobs.

See also, Doormen. The reference on that post to "petty bourgeois" is funny, since it's clear now how little they know (the exchange between Farrell and Bhandari). I'm embarrassed by my own ignorance. Theirs continues to amaze me.

Krugman: "Pretty soon, we’ll be having serious, completely un-self-conscious discussions in major magazines about the servant problem."

If you have servants you'll have serious conversations about the servant problem.
I've linked to it twice before but somehow ignored the fact that he was linking to DeLong.
...you have to either live in the countryside or live in the city and be really rich to say that rubber tomatoes suck. For those humans who live in the city and are not really rich, rubber tomatoes provide a welcome and tasty and affordable simulacrum of the tomato-eating experience. 
link

not the first time.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Walid Joumblatt quotes Susan Sontag
"(When I got to the bottom of my incoming mail pile on Sunday, I found a charming, Christmas card from Walid– featuring a photo he had taken of the snow-covered steps of his family’s feudal home in Moukhtara. Maybe I should have a conversation with him about Jesus’s teachings on nonviolence sometime?)"

Sunday, November 09, 2014

lovely.
commenter "Wallace Stevens"
I find this OP wretched and appalling. But since so few others do, I wonder if it’s just me. Isn ‘t Waring really just saying “It’s great to be rich!”? I know the feeling. I was an expat in Hong Kong in the early nineties: the private schools, the maid-ironed uniforms, people coming and going from one exotic place to another, etc. Most of the OP sounded like back-handed, covert bragging–sprinkled with a heavy dose of cloying, corn pone “y’all’s” to show that she’s a good Ioway farmer’s daughter at heart, or whatever. And the kids! Oy! Smart as whips and learning all these languages! I’ve been trapped by elderly people like this who then want to show you all the pictures in their wallet/purse. But Waring, I take it, is a relatively young woman. Hard to figure. (I did a little research. According to her wedding announcement she is related to the robber baron, Jay Gould. Now, no one is responsible for their ancestors. But why make such a point of it? Especially when John “only a Holbo” Holbo’s ancestory gets no mention at all.)

But so much for form. What about substance? Yes, in places like Singapore, even philosophy profs can live well. But for the most part this is because it is a Republican paradise. No minimum wage, tough on crime, control of the media to ensure that the right people get elected, limited concern for due process and human rights–oh yeah, and lingering “white privilege” makes being a WHITE woman extra safe, in a kind of belt-and-suspenders way. What’s not to like? Singapore is by no means the worst place on earth. Some people on the Left, apologists for Castro for example, believe that there must be some kind of necessary trade-off between human rights and economic
development. I’m not one of them. But for those that do, Singapore should be ashining example. They have achieved far more–in terms of living standards and health for the poorest–while being much more free than Cuba. In fact I have always wondered why Singapore didn’t get more attention and praise from the the authoritarian Left. But for anyone with democratic instincts…? I don’t think so.
Davies defending Waring and quoting her own reply.
Am I supposed to lie about my life? Not discuss the interesting ways it differs from the life I ever thought I’d have? We’d all gain what now?

As far as I can tell, the party line of CT commenters is that one is allowed to exist, but never to say anything good about one’s life and career. In principle, there might be some level of wailing and repenting, sackcloth and ashes and general screaming about what a horrible person you are for being part of such a horrible system, which might excuse you, but nobody’s ever found it yet. The crazy thing is that it’s not just you living in Singapore or me being a stockbroker that they object to; even the academics on the blog seem to get the same treatment for mentioning that they’ve been promoted or got a prestigious scholarship or something.
and again responding to others
Stevens again
Dsquared @ 93: I’d like to distance myself from any of the CT commentators that begrudge Waring, or anyone else for that matter, their good fortune. I’ve enjoyed great good fortune in life myself, so it would be hypocritical for me to resent others. For example, I have enjoyed immensely Daniel’s CT posts on his travels–even though Daniel is clearly in a privileged position to do the kind of the trip he is doing. It is just that Daniel writes well about interesting things, and Waring doesn’t. So all you have is this parading, unselfconscious privilege.

My objection to this OP, in its original form at least, was two-fold: first it had the preening, “look at me” tone that I found distasteful; second it seemed to blithely ignore
the price at which the affordable help and public order in Singapore are purchased.

As Waring points out herself, tenure or no tenure, she’s not really at liberty to say what she thinks anyway. That’s a handicap for a writer. Maybe she should write about something else.
neoliberalism: a bad thing, except when you're living it.

Belle Waring is a bright, shallow, spoiled, emotionally damaged (she's referred to it enough), awful human being. Her's husband's just an ass. All repeats. I like DD, but he's also an ass. After taking a beating for his defense of bankers, he took his own blog private. Both DD and Waring are here. Holbo's silence about Singapore was a running theme with me for a while, with his attacks on Zizek
(The origin of the reference in the previous post).

Rakesh Bhandari makes a Freudian slip. responding to Bertram.
Of course it is not only the poor in the poor nations who suffer relatively; and it is not only the poor in the rich nations who do the excluding. Those opposed to immigration may not be the upper-class in the rich countries; though they may prefer anti-immigrant populist sentiment to other forms of political expression, e.g. higher inheritance taxes. 
...oops meant it is not only the rich in the rich nations who do the excluding.
"populist sentiment" refers to the -perceived and actual-  self-interest of the native born lower middle and working classes. As Dean Baker has pointed out again and again, it's government policy to have working classes compete against each other, while regulating the immigration of the educated. The rich and poor move back and forth; the professional classes are protected. There's no open market in economists and college professors, and they're happy to moralize about fellow citizens, above and below, if it doesn't go against their own self-interest.

Chart from EPI
Bertram's long history
-It is indeed remarkable how all the places inhabited by the super-rich (Kensington, Mayfair, much of Geneva, the XVI arrondissement …) are really crushingly dull. At least little of real value will be lost when we burn them down. 
-First, I’m sympathetic, I really am, to the idea that people should work and consume less and that we should attend more to real life quality. But this doesn’t seem very realistic in my own life for two reasons: first, even if my employer were sympathetic (unlikely) I feel very hard pressed now to produce the level of research output necessary for me to stay competitive with other academics (not just in the UK, but elsewhere)….  Second, it is all very well Juliet Schor telling us to transition to a low hours/lower consumption economy. I’m cool with consuming less. The problem is that I, and just about everyone else, has taken out huge mortgages and bank loans to pay (in part) for the consumption we’ve already had. Hard to reduce the hours unless (or until) the debt goes away. Third, there was distressingly little discussion of the politics of this. 
Again all long term repeats, except for recent refs to the tension between republicanism and liberalism, Aristotle and Montesquieu. Liberalism is amenable to fans of science since it can claim reasonably or not to be without priors. Republicanism is a virtue ethic and priors are explicit: burdens precede freedoms, making hypocrisy more difficult to hide, from yourself at least.

Liberal objectivity: "If her interests have the same value as his, then my interests must have the same value as yours." The opposite of virtue.
note taking/record keeping, a comment at Savage Minds, on Writing Anti-Racism
I really have a hard time with this.
The question then becomes: what does it mean to become more conscious of anti-racist writing as enmeshed in this plurality of modes of existence? I would like to think that, at the very least, such consciousness would widen the writer’s anti-racist strategic capacities and render anti-racist thought more efficient at combatting racism.
You can't write anti-racism. Your anti-racism can only be judged by those to whom your supposed "anti-racism" is directed. No man has the right to call himself a feminist. It's up to the women around him to say that he's not a sexist. Short of that it's just another record of some of someone saying "I'm a really nice guy!", and how's that sound? It's never sounded good.

What this means of course is that there's no true proof of racism, of racist intent: we can't read minds; there's only the record of performance. So for example Danny Aiello and Spike Lee argued over whether Aiello's character in Do the Right Thing was racist, while Murray Kempton in his review said that Lee's racism was against blacks, that Lee demonstrated more than a bit of self-hatred in the characters he created. It's the best review of the film I read.

All of this goes to show the politics of intent, of rationality and reason is bogus. But it makes sense that this sort of philosophizing should originate in cultures that follow the inquisitorial rather than the adversarial system of justice. Arguments for "seeing the other in myself" pull less weight in the Anglo-American legal system where "the other" is another lawyer. Postmodern philosophy hasn't been taken up by lawyers partly because our legal system is premodern so therefore already postmodern. Philosophers think of themselves as judges as central. No practicing lawyer in our system puts judges automatically in such high regard. They're taken seriously as powerful, not wise.

If you want to talk about the Western relation to Islam, you can't do it without discussion of the Western relation to Jews. From anti-semitism to philosemitism it's enough to make your head spin.

And Israeli itself... Here's a veteran of the Palmach:
We were the beautiful generation, the strong, the muscular, the anti-diaspora, as opposed to the Arab, the primitive, the reactionary, the conservative. We were the essence of good, and they, nothing, human dust. And it was almost charity to fight them.
That doesn't approximate Nazi language; it is Nazi language. And what are we to make of European defenses of Israel?

The politics of intention are the politics of patting yourself on the back; the opposite of the politics of curiosity, and irony.

"Irony is the glory of slaves." Czeslaw Milosz. Earnest liberators celebrate their own lack of it.
---
See also, from 2013

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The banality of evil. The inability to think.


“We were the beautiful generation, the strong, the muscular, the anti-diaspora, as opposed to the Arab, the primitive, the reactionary, the conservative. We were the essence of good, and they, nothing, human dust. And it was almost charity to fight them.

I doubt even the filmmaker recognizes the full meaning of those words. It's not similar to Nazi language; it is Nazi language. It's Eichmann.

...or Baudelaire without irony.

I have no interest in seeing the film.
"Public higher education is under aggressive ideological and political—but not necessarily partisan—attack, and is fostering a fervent political defense."  Siva Vaidhyanathan

A comment, posted on a piece on education and education "reform" by Siva Vaidhyanathan, "a cultural historian and media scholar" (see previous). The formatting was stripped; this a lot easier to read. The last bit repeats paragraphs quoted just below in the post on Joshua Cohen, for the same obvious reasons. Rough, I fixed the spelling and that's all, and all repeats here. It'll do.
---
This essay is full of the sort of confusions endemic in our age when academics style themselves "public intellectuals" while indulging the biases of the academy: they’re always coming down from the mountain.

What does it mean to defend the research model for the entirety of academia while condemning instrumentalism? (I'll pretend for now that the author is defending the humanities as such, even though it's clear he isn't.) The researchers I know dislike teaching, especially teaching undergrads, because it takes them away from research. And the research model has infected the humanities so that professors now see themselves as akin to scientists or technicians, and also therefore “producing” something, even if it's only cubic yards of pseudo-radical hot air. Economics and Anglo-American philosophy are open in their claims to the status of science, as Marxism and Freudianism once were, but like literary theory and Continental philosophy there’re all forms of high scholasticism, as self-supporting as the Roman Catholic Church, certainly no defender of free thinking and curiosity for curiosity's sake.

And as far as academic radicalism is concerned, Martha Nussbaum was right about Judith Butler's self-indulgence, while Butler is now actively defending liberal principles, in Israel and Palestine, that Nussbaum is too much of a coward to stand for. The same goes for the current popstar Zizek, who's called a Stalinist by liberals who refuse to stand by their own principles, which he and Butler are left to do, as leftists. To see an amusing take on Zizek from something more engaged in what Raymond Geuss would call “real politics” see this.

And as the recent fiasco in Montana should make clear to social "scientists", there is no feedback loop in geology. [an awkward sentence] Money spent studying the average man or woman on the street would be better spent raising the average: in education, not "research". The academy's constant focus on measuring to the mean puts downward pressure on the mean; it makes us all dumber. Seekers of the impossible goal of a “value free” social science are themselves often models of moral passivity.

But as I said at the top, the author of this piece isn't really attacking instrumentalism, he's attacking short term instrumentalism
Some time in the 1980s, states forgot that universities benefit the broader society, not just the students who attend. They are part of the cultural and social fabric of each state. They preserve and enhance local art, music, poetry, and drama. They make sense of our past and predict our future. State universities invented Mosaic, the most influential early Web browser, and made those “waves of grain” that feed much of the world possible and profitable. 
Call it serious rather than knee-jerk neoliberalism, the thinking man’s productivism, or Fordism for adults. And the mention of “art, music poetry, and drama” reminds me of Howie Cohen, the ad man who credits Woodstock and acid for giving him the imaginative freedom to come up with the lines "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" and "Try it, you'll like it!"

And now to "disruption" which the author calls "an ahistorical and specious concept". Google "modernism radical disruption" for the history and "disruptive dissensus" for the current vogue. See also of course the current popularity of anarchism. Disruption is ahistorical only because all tag lines and political fantasies are ahistorical: predicated on forgetting the lessons of history. Disruption itself is a modernist trope, just as permanent revolution is a capitalist fantasy, as “creative destruction”. Taylorism and Fordism are not the inventions of a professor at Harvard Business School. [they're the justification: the Harvard program started in 1908] The theme of the relation of modern man as individual to the collective that made him (and of which he’s a member whether he likes it or not) is as old as Hamlet. The ideal of sleepless curiosity is Goethe’s Faust: the definition of Modernity.

And now to the movies. Andrew Rossi:
One of the key themes of Ivory Tower is the idea of disruption, which has been at the core of almost every movie I've made in the last thirteen years. 
Well then, there you go. And Peter Thiel:
But I must confess that over the last two decades, I have changed radically on the question of how to achieve these goals. Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.
The author of this piece is defending technocratic capitalist liberalism against anarchist capitalism. I’ll offer a third option, that any professor in the humanities should recognize, though more and more they don’t. And THAT is the most important change in the academy over the last century, from Weber and Ford to Sputnik, a change Siva Vaidhyanathan and other academics of this age have no knowledge of because they’re the product of that change. Neoliberalism made you. You’re a product of culture without knowing how it would be even possible to be anything but “free to choose” as uncle Miltie would say. But first, Frederick Wiseman.

Wiseman is not a “documentary” filmmaker. He calls his films “fictions”. He’s “generated deep respect from critics, film scholars, and other filmmakers.” because he’s a very good filmmaker, as some writers are very good writers. “Through his long career offering almost anthropological observations of American institutions…” He’s made films about the Comédie-Française and The Paris Opera Ballet. Wiseman makes movies about systems and the people within them. He was going to do a film about a Las Vegas casino, but the casino backed out. A wise choice, but not because Wiseman was going to reveal hidden corruption. He was simply going to be an honest observer, sympathetic to people going through their daily routines. Wiseman the filmmaker is not a teacher.

So here’s a small taste of what you’re not. The Learning Knights of Bell Telephone.
The sociologist E. Digby Baltzell explained the Bell leaders’ concerns in an article published in Harper’s magazine in 1955: “A well-trained man knows how to answer questions, they reasoned; an educated man knows what questions are worth asking.” Bell, then one of the largest industrial concerns in the country, needed more employees capable of guiding the company rather than simply following instructions or responding to obvious crises. 
In 1952, Gillen took the problem to the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a trustee. Together with representatives of the university, Bell set up a program called the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives. More than simply training its young executives to do a particular job, the institute would give them, in a 10-month immersion program on the Penn campus, what amounted to a complete liberal arts education. There were lectures and seminars led by scholars from Penn and other colleges in the area — 550 hours of course work in total, and more reading, Baltzell reported, than the average graduate student was asked to do in a similar time frame. 
...Perhaps the most exciting component of the curriculum was the series of guest lecturers the institute brought to campus. “One hundred and sixty of America’s leading intellectuals,” according to Baltzell, spoke to the Bell students that year. They included the poets W. H. Auden and Delmore Schwartz, the Princeton literary critic R. P. Blackmur, the architectural historian Lewis Mumford, the composer Virgil Thomson. It was a thrilling intellectual carnival. 
...What’s more, the graduates were no longer content to let the machinery of business determine the course of their lives. One man told Baltzell that before the program he had been “like a straw floating with the current down the stream” and added: “The stream was the Bell Telephone Company. I don’t think I will ever be that straw again.” 
...But Bell gradually withdrew its support after yet another positive assessment found that while executives came out of the program more confident and more intellectually engaged, they were also less interested in putting the company’s bottom line ahead of their commitments to their families and communities. By 1960, the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives was finished.