Thursday, July 12, 2018



N+1 Revolutionary Posters
An interview with the designers behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign
The democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shocking victory in this week’s Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district has rightly provoked enthusiastic commentary and analysis.... 
Her campaign also marks a major step forward for graphic design in American politics. Rather than the tired repetition of white letters on blue backgrounds, white letters on red backgrounds, and American flag iconography, energetic diagonals cut across Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign materials in an unexpected yellow and purple.
Unlike the hipster fantacists and intellectuals Ocasio-Cortez might admit without being pressed that she's just a social democrat. She comes from the working class. She's lived class relations the suburbanites have the luxury to will away.
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I had hopes. But she's the candidate for hipsters. An idiot, out of her depth.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Qhouirunnisaa, via fycam on Twitter
etc
etc

Programmatic liberals will try to say there's no conflict; programmatic conservatives will say the obvious; neither will be able to to come to terms with it.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Part of the problem here, as more than one reader has pointed out, is that since Ronell & co. don't have an actual Wissenschaft, cults of personality take the place of substantive skills and knowledge,...
Where to begin?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I think there's something to be said for returning money to the old category of "shit". Most people still follow the old pattern, but ideological liberals try to deny it, and moralizing leftists prefer to think of good vs evil. I think going back to the past is enough.
Capital Grille opened in 1994, the year that Newt Gingrich—the philandering former house speaker who crusaded for family values even though he told his then-wife he was leaving her as she lay ill with cancer—led the GOP takeover of Congress. It later became a favorite haunt of the late Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the former member of Congress who went to prison for taking bribes from defense contractors. As recounted in “The Wrong Stuff,” by Jerry Kammer and Marcus Stern, Cunningham used to dine at the Capital Grille and invariably order a filet mignon – very well done, the worst way to eat steak – with iceberg lettuce salad and White Oak wine.

On one occasion he invited his dining companions back to the “Duke-Stir,” his 42-foot yacht (where he frequently took female guests) and invited them all to join him in the ship’s hot tub, which was filled with water siphoned directly from the polluted Potomac River. Cunningham stripped himself naked and immersed himself in the filthy water, but his guests were so repelled that no one joined him.
Posted on twitter. "liked" by Sri Thiruvadanthai

Replying to his snide dismissal of Pankaj Mishra in the LRB.  I remembered the story and thought it might be an appropriate response.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Vesely, continuing
Chapter 5, p. 249
In the current understanding, aesthetics covers the appreciation of beauty in everything from nature to art. Often it is simply identified with art, whose function par excellence is seen as the production of aesthetic objects. During the past hundred years, aesthetics has also taken on role oppositional to science and technology. This, as we shall see, is a misconception, and in fact a contradiction. Science, technology, and aesthetics belong together. The development of scientific objectivity depends, as we have already seen, on the subject responsible for the project of science. In other words, the more objective reality becomes, the more subjective must be the position of the individual who encounters in modern science by definition, as it were, only his or her own projection of reality. One might conclude that objectivity in science is in fact the product of human subjectivity.

The transformation of the traditional relationship of humans to the world did not affect only science, but became the basis for the gradual split of the whole of European culture into artificial domains of objectivity and subjectivity. With the first we are already familiar. The second contains everything that resists mathematization—qualities, perception, imagination, feeling, and fantasy. It was in this ambiguous domain of qualities that cannot be precisely determined, but at the same time cannot be completely suppressed or ignored, that aesthetics came into existence. It grew slowly out of repeated attempts to establish some kind of logic or order in the qual-itative world, aided as well by what could later be labeled a general aestheticization of culture.

The critical turning point in the formation of modern aesthetics was the contribution of Leibniz, who opposed the Cartesian autonomy of clear and distinct ideas that deprived human senses of any claim to understanding and truth. He firmly believed that our senses do, in their own way, reveal the nature and truth of the world. Unlike ideas, however, the senses are not clear and distinct but only clear and confused, and for that reason inferior. Somewhat poetically he compares them to the murmur of the sea:

"Although our senses relate to everything, it is not possible for our soul to attend to all individually, and that is why our confused sensations are the result of a variety, altogether infinite, of perceptions. It is almost like the confused murmur heard by those approaching the shores of the sea that arises from the accumulation of the reverberations of the innumerable waves." Leibniz's understanding of the senses is still based on the integrity of the scholastic world in which the sensible or visible is a manifestation of the universal order. This manifestation is also our main encounter with beauty, in which the perfection of the order is revealed. What is new in Leibniz is the shift toward individualizing such experiences, which coincides with his notion of the individual soul as monad. As he sees it,
the beauty of the universe could be learned in each soul, could one unravel all its folds which develop perceptibly only with time. But as each distinct perception of the soul includes an infinity of confused perceptions which embrace all the universe, the soul itself does not know the things which it perceives, except in so far as it has perceptions of them which are distinct and heightened and it has perceptions in proportion to its distinct form. Each soul knows the infinite, knows everything, but confusedly.
Such confusion arose, Leibniz and his contemporaries thought, because perceptions could not account for their own reason, because their origins and meaning remained hidden. For Leibniz himself and others who believed in providence, this obscurity was not a significant problem, because the unknown, inexplicable, and mysterious was seen as part of the divine plan of things. However, for those who believed in the transparency of the world, in reason, the inexplicable was very troubling. It was difficult to accept that whole areas of reality, such as works of art or the landscape, stirred strong feelings and a sense of beauty that could not be ignored yet could not be explained. This experience was described already in the seventeenth century as the "je ne sais quoi—I know not what."

Dominique Bouhours, who devoted a whole treatise to the issue, declares: "One can say with certainty that 'je ne sais quoi' is one of the greatest wonders and one of the greatest mysteries of nature." Montesquieu, some eighty years later, writes: "There is something in people and in things, an invisible charm, a natural grace, which cannot be defined and which one is forced to name le ne sais quoi.' It seems to me that this is an effect based primarily on surprise." The self-sufficiency of the Leibnizian monad was what brought the inexplicable into the domain of subjectivity, "each mind being as it were a little divinity in its own department."

With Leibniz, we stand on the threshold of a new epoch, in which the harmony and beauty of the world, revealed gradually in a dialectical process, became a field of aesthetic experience dependent on the cultivation of taste and on the role of the genius. The new experience created a distance from things and events, thereby contributing to the formation of modern aestheticism and historicism. Aestheticization itself is closely linked with the relativity of taste and the formalization of experience. 

--Aesthetics was an invention of the eighteenth century and the age of reason, a theory of art in the shadow of production, as something to be taken or left, optional, superfluous, “parasitic”.

--The Baroque was considered decadent precisely for the discord between easy artifice and rough integrity, but the period was focused less on the balance of ideal and worldly order as in the Renaissance, or on the more extreme dichotomy of otherworldliness and corruption -the panicked pretense of Counter-Reformation Mannerism- than on a worldly sophistication as such: the narrativizing of ideal order. The Baroque is the culture of monarchy and aristocracy at the beginning of the age of theater, the age of the bourgeoisie.
Leibniz: the unified and ideal in the multiform.
I read Vesely years before I returned to writing, but I didn't cite him. I need to.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sex, Sport, and Why Track and Field’s New Rules on Intersex Athletes Are Essential
Last week, track and field’s world governing body limited entry into women’s events to athletes who have testosterone levels that are capable of being produced solely by ovaries.

These rules apply across the board to athletes however they presented at birth. Advocates for intersex and transgender athletes have vigorously attacked the International Association of Athletics Federations’ new rules, but they are an extraordinary compromise for women’s sports, including for traditional feminist proponents of equal access to sports for girls and women, guaranteed in the civil rights legislation known as Title IX.

Understanding the rules and why they make sense is hard. They are based in biology people don’t know or don’t like to talk about and, let’s be honest, at least in some circles, they’re politically incorrect. They force us to talk about women’s bodies when it is increasingly taboo to do so, and they run counter to the movement that seeks to include transgender and intersex people in social institutions based on their gender identity rather than their biology.
via Leiter, who calls it "interesting and sensible", rather than simply "right".

Transhumanism and Transgender

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Bertram again.
I know you’ve all been waiting expectantly …. My book Do States Have the Right to Exclude Immigrants? is published in the UK today by Polity Press (those of you in North America will have to wait until Wiley publish it in July). The book challenges the assumption that lies behind most debates on immigration, namely that states have a discretion to do pretty much as they like and may set their policy according to the interests of their own citizens.

The book has three chapters....
The first commenter nails it. “This sounds like a job for InnatelySolomonicBourgeoisMan.”

one repeat among others: Bertram on Wolfgang Streeck.

Compare, now, Varoufakis on Italy.
Had President Mattarella refused Mr Salvini the post of Interior Minister, on the basis that he rejects such a monstrous project, I would be compelled to support him. But, no, Mr Mattarella had no such qualms. Not even for a moment did he consider vetoing the formation of a 5S-Lega government on the basis that there is no place in a European country for scenes involving security forces rounding up hundreds of thousands of people, caging them, and forcing them into trains, buses and ferries before expelling them goodness knows where.

No, Mr Mattarella vetoed the formation of a government backed by an absolute majority of lawmakers for another reason: His disapproval of the Finance Minister designate. And what was this disapproval based on? The fact that the said gentleman, while fully qualified for the job, and despite his declaration that he would abide by the EU’s eurozone rules, has in the past expressed doubts about the eurozone’s architecture and has favoured a plan of euro exit just in case it is needed. It was as if President Mattarella were to declare that reasonableness in a prospective Finance Minister constitutes grounds for his or her exclusion from the post! 
Barrons: Italy Without the Euro Would Not Be Argentina or Turkey—It Would Be the U.K.
Take out Greater London—the prosperity of which depends to an uncomfortable degree on servicing oligarchs from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union—and the U.K. is one of the poorest countries in Western Europe.
Venezuelan refugees are a bigger and bigger issue in Colombia and elsewhere. Migrants from Zimbabwe are threatened in South Africa. I've heard nothing, ever, from Bertram and his ilk about the rights of Palestinian refugees, long term residents in Lebanon and Jordan, or about Syrian refugees in those states now. Bangladesh is struggling with the Rohingya. Oxbridge, or European, technocratic universalism is a form of exceptionalism.

Linked in the repeat above, Adam Tooze reviews Streeck's How Will Capitalism End? in the LRB
The weird geometry of Streeck’s Staatsvolk-Marktvolk juxtaposition points to an inconsistency at the heart of his agenda. When Streeck says he wants to put society in control he can expect general agreement. This, indeed, is pure Habermas, reasserting the lifeworld against the system. It is the boilerplate of social democracy. But the question it dodges is the all-important one: who or what is ‘the social’? The disagreement between Habermas and Streeck, put in Habermas’s terms, is whether to move up and forwards to a future cosmopolitan order, or down and backwards to the nation. But as Streeck himself asks when he has his critical sociology hat on, what about class divisions within the social, whether at the local, national or European level? In some of the best passages in How Will Capitalism End? Streeck explains that the distinction between ‘society’ and ‘economy’ that has structured the discipline of sociology, the dyad that made it possible to speak so confidently of putting ‘society’ in charge of the ‘economy’, was in fact an artefact of the peculiar class balance of the 1950s and 1960s. Streeck’s entire narrative rests on the claim that this class balance was ruptured in the 1970s. Thatcher let the cat out of the bag with her declaration that ‘there is no such thing’ as society, just ‘individual men and women and … families’. To which the response of critical theory should not be a pantomimic ‘Oh yes there is and it should be in charge,’ but to ask what configuration of social forces made it possible for Thatcher to make that claim and how might it be reversed.
Sebald. The inability to mourn, to be fully human. Streeck is trying to describe, hoping for, a normal Germany, to match Greece, Italy et al.  Tooze promotes a crap universalism.

Adam Tooze "holds the Shelby Cullom Davis chair of History at Columbia University and serves as Director of the European Institute...."
Travel Partnership
New York is home, but once you are bitten the Wanderlust never dies, and Adam is a regular guide on historical and culinary tours in Europe organized by the exclusive tour operator Conley & Silvers. Our featured tour in 2017 is Wine Roads and War Stories – a luxurious trip through Champagne, Alsace and Burgundy. Plans for the future include Switzerland and the Italian lakes and historic Spain.
"The Hamptons is not a defensible position... Very hard to defend a low-lying beach. Eventually people will come for you."

Blyth

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A new tag for Deleuze. I should've done it long ago.
For all I've written, about the Baroque, narrative, Modernism, Mannerism and the fading of the ideal, I've never read The Fold.
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.
I referred to it in passing, but it belongs here and I've never bothered to do it.  Now that I'm reading it, it's everything I assumed and more. All I have to do is put in a few references.  He imagines he's creating concepts but he's following a path.

Philosophers are so predictable.  That they insist on seeing themselves as apart from other writers of fiction is more absurd as time goes on. As always, for philosophers and theologians, history is bunk.

Historians win. Vesely Chapter 4, p. 176
The most significant change in the representation of reality took place in the period traditionally associated with the formation and development of modern science and with the beginning of its dominant role in modern culture. Though a connection between the two is plausible, it could be misleading if by "science" we understand the context-free, mathematically structured knowledge that was developed later within new disciplines generally called "natural science." The science of the transitional period between the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth is instead closely linked with philosophy, metaphysics, theology, and, in a less obvious sense, with the culture as a whole.1

The transitional period overlaps significantly with the period generally termed "Baroque," and the science of this era unquestionably shares many of the characteristics of Baroque culture. We don't usually think of prominent figures such as Sir Isaac Newton or Christiaan Huygens as Baroque scientists, yet we would probably agree that Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. the great philosopher and mathematician who was involved in a serious metaphysical and theological argument with Newton, is a Baroque thinker par excellence. Architecture was similarly involved in these issues. The works of Christopher Wren, Claude Perrault, and Guarino Guarini represent not only different tendencies in Baroque architecture but also different trends in Baroque science. The affinity between science and Baroque culture hints at deeper dimensions of representation, not yet fully acknowledged.

Because we usually see Baroque science as an independent domain of knowledge, we tend to overlook the fact that science was then an integral part of the general intelligibility of culture and that it becomes autonomous or independent only under particular and more precisely defined conditions. Indeed, such conditions had never existed before, and their emergence was one of the main characteristics of the transitional period. They were created in unique historical circumstances, by attempts to over-come a deep cultural crisis. I shall say more about that process later. In the meantime, it is important to describe the tendencies that shaped the transitional period as a whole. If we look at the politics, philosophy, literature, visual arts, and everyday life of that time, we find a common search for order and certainty in an environment dominated by fragmentation, relativism of values, skepticism, and pessimism. The radicality of the response, which was based on a dogmatic faith in the mathematical nature of the world order, created for the first time in human history a mode of representation that could claim both that it was fully independent and. at the same time, that it could be universally applied. Because any representation, despite its claims to universality, is inevitably partial, there is always a residuum of reality left out, which has to define its own mode of representation. The result is a duplication that may best be described as "divided representation." A classic example of divided representation is the double standard of truth that has plagued the history of modern science and theology. In architecture, divided representation finds its first clear manifestation in Claude Perrault's distinction between positive and arbitrary beauty, a division that foreshadowed later tensions and conflicts between experience, based on the continuity of tradition, and artificially constructed systems. More recently, divided representation reveals itself as a painful conflict between primary cultural values and technology, which is governed by economic imperatives.
continuing 

Monday, May 14, 2018

As usual for me it's less about the the things themselves then the changes they mark, changes in the meanings of words, of liberalism, in America and in NYC.  My arguments about language, and Israel/Palestine, have been consistent for decades. The pedants who claim always to be standing on solid ground have never noticed the ground shifting, and them drifting with it.

Still a bit shocking.


NYT Opinion I Helped Start the Gaza Protests. I Don’t Regret It.
RAFAH, Gaza — The seed that grew into Gaza’s Great Return March was planted Dec. 9, just a few days after President Trump announced he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestinians long have held onto the dream of Jerusalem as our own capital, or at least as a shared capital in a country that offers equal rights to everyone. The feeling of betrayal and distress in Gaza was palpable. To clear my head, my friend Hasan and I took a walk along the border, which we do every now and again.

“There lies our land,” I said to Hasan, as I looked at the trees on the other side of the barbed-wire fence that confines us. “It’s just a few kilometers away from here.” And yet, because of that fence and the soldiers who guard it, it is so far away. Most people my age have never been permitted to leave Gaza, since Egypt controls the southern land exit and Israel restricts access to the north — as well as forbids use of our sea and airport (or at least what’s left of it after three wars).

That thought led to a wish expressed on Facebook. And it struck such a chord with people in Gaza that it set off a movement that culminated in the historic protests that have taken place over the last month. Tragically, Israel reacted even more brutally than I expected — and I’ve lived through three of its wars. The latest estimate of the number of protesters killed is 104; more than 50 died just on Monday. Thousands more have been injured. But our voices needed to be heard, and they have been.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

updating
College-educated Americans speak about the economic problems of the working class in terms of trends that can be seen in tables and graphs. Those on the left criticize the federal minimum wage as being too low, while those on the right bemoan the erosion of work incentives. But the people who are experiencing these adverse economic trends express themselves differently, using a moral language that is often rooted in attitudes about work and race.

This was first noted by the sociologist Michèle Lamont in her book “The Dignity of Working Men.” She found that white working-class men often define their self-worth through their ability to lead disciplined, responsible lives...
This was first noted by the sociologist Michèle Lamont...

Obviously, it wasn't. And the premise, the first paragraph, is obscene.

history, and some fun.

I made a few glib comments recently about sociology, talking to a historian of 19th century Germany, and he agreed without caveat.  I've blamed Weber for modern journalism and gotten smiles, a better response now than a few years ago.

The blank naiveté at the core of modern social science has always annoyed me. I've documented it at it's worst but haven't picked it apart.
...the impersonal in art and technocracy, though the product of the same events are very different things.
The passage that sentence appears in makes the point but it's not strong enough.

Arendt hated social science. She's the heir to the humanist tradition in an anti-humanist age, but fighting for it rather than merely acknowledging its fading. And her work has some of the weakness of writing for function.

Scientific American: Who Speaks Up in the Face of Uncivil Behavior?
On the one hand, you might hypothesize that people who are more aggressive or hostile by nature are more likely to openly challenge a stranger. On the other hand, speaking out against injustice could be seen in a more positive light, as an act of maturity. Emerging research supports the latter idea—that people who stand up to incivility have a strong sense of altruism, combined with self-confidence. Understanding what motivates these heroic individuals could lead to more effective ways of curbing everyday immoral behavior.
"Emerging research" confirms what is, or was common knowledge. Social science research is full of this crap, the product of a refusing to engage fully with a given situation. The passive observer is simply a note-taker, as if note-taking means objectivity. The result in fact is lazy, flabby, passive subjectivity, and a weakened flabby science.

Persuasion persuades
In a peer-reviewed study we published this month, we find op-eds do change minds. After reading opinion pieces, we found people were far more likely to agree with the author’s point of view.

Monday, April 30, 2018

"Comedians, talk-show hosts, and satirists are better equipped than professional journalists to refute the fictions that clog the news stream"



I keep this one on file. It came in handy this week.
etc.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Still working. Bit by bit.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Deadspin:  How America's Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump's War On The Media
The video has been seen 4.6 million times in 24 hours, at Deadspin and embedded all over the web, including NY Magazine, Baltimore Sun, Mother Jones,  etc.  Deadspin is a sports page.

A year ago: "Comedians, talk-show hosts, and satirists are better equipped than professional journalists to refute the fictions that clog the news stream"

with a link that connects this to the previous post.
another one for the archives. you can't make this shit up

Farrell
But there’s also a much bigger point there, about the kind of space that the Internet has created. Liberalism of the small-l kind goes together with a strong emphasis on free speech. The implicit assumption is that we will all be better off in a world where everyone can say whatever they want, to whoever they want, even if it is inconvenient, or wrong minded, or crazy.

However, this assumption rests on empirical assumptions as well as normative ones. And as speech becomes cheaper, it may be that those assumptions don’t hold in the same way that they used to (see further Zeynep Tufekci, Rick Hasen and Timothy Wu, as well as Molly Roberts’ forthcoming book).
Hasen: "Cheap Speech and What It Has Done (to American Democracy)"
Wu: "Is the First Amendment Obsolete?"

"Cheap Speech" and "Low-Value" speech

Piketty on twitter
New research on WID.world : Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising inequality and the changing structure of political conflict. In order to understand the rise of "populism", one first needs to analze the rise of "elitism". http://wid.world/news-article/new-paper-on-rising-inequality-and-the-changing-structure-of-political-conflict-wid-world-working-paper-2018-7/

"Brahmin Left." Piketty, economist and friend of Bourdieu, misses the distinction from aristocrats and technocrats
Harry Brighouse
-I would say, in fact, that the first amendment tradition has a terribly distorting effect on American public discussions of free speech. 
-I think there is a very strong case that hateful epithets can be distinguished and treated differently from propositional content, and do not merit protection under “the right to speak what one sees as the truth”.
Chris Bertram
The right frame, in my view, is to think of the state as “we, the people” and to ask what conditions need to be in place for the people, and for each citizen, to play their role in effective self-government. Once you look at things like that then various speech restrictions naturally suggest themselves. 
Henry Farrell
I’ve suggested that academic freedom is a good thing on pragmatic grounds, but also made clear that it fundamentally depends on public willingness to delegate some degree of self-governance to the academy. If the public decides that academic freedom isn’t working out in terms of the goods it provides, then too bad for academic freedom. 
Mark Tushnet
Is the loss of meaning from paraphrase or restatement or statement (in the case of nonrepresentational art) small enough to make nonrepresentational art sufficiently similar to expository writing that it should be covered in the same way that such writing is?
Brian Leiter
Much, perhaps most, speech, in fact, has little or no positive value all things considered, so the idea that its free expression is prima facie a good thing should be rejected. And since the only good reasons in favor of a legal regime of generally free expression pertain to the epistemic reliability of regulators of speech, we should focus on how to increase their reliabilty, rather than assume, as so much of popular and even some philosophical discourse does, that unfettered speech has inherent value.