Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The end of two eras. Colin DeLand/American Fine Arts and Pat Hearn Art Gallery (P.H.A.G.), gone forever, tonight at midnight. The dumpster is almost full. Samba on the IMac.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

"The vast majority of people here cross their fingers for a sudden explosion, or pray for American successes in Iraq and Afghanistan to increase the price of suppression by the theocracy in Iran."

With all due respect to Farouz Farzami (and Laura Rozen), that last sentence is just stupid.

In an hour or so I'll go out into the rain and in and out of the subway to spend a few hours helping to close down the remains of what was in fact the first gallery to move into Chelsea, so I suppose that among other reasons gives me the right to make a brief comment about Roberta Smith's absurd defense of the place, and of the NY scene in general.

The arts document the perceptions of the middle class as abetted by the money of its wealthy cousins. I understand that no more or less than Jeff Wall, T.J. Clark or Larry Gagosian. In Tehran or Kiev, or for that matter, Paris and Mexico City, the middle classes speak in order to describe and define themselves, to varying degrees out of a sense of necessity [the question of their media of choice is for another day] But what has Chelsea to say about the current state of bourgeois culture in the United States? Roberta Smith has wasted yet another opportunity to stand for something, even for style as a value or cynicism as morality. Her passivity is more corrupt than a collector's greed. It's the passivity of the fear of politics, even of the sort that defends the rights and privileges of her own kind. It's no wonder Bush is in the White House.

Friday, November 26, 2004

My country:
The US Congress has launched a fresh attack on the international criminal court at The Hague, threatening to cut off development aid to countries who refuse to guarantee immunity from prosecution for Americans at the tribunal.
Washington has withheld about $50m (£26m) in military aid to more than 30 countries, such as Benin, Croatia, Ecuador and Mali, which refused to sign exemption deals.
But they and more than 40 other countries have resisted US demands on the grounds that immunity deals would clash with their domestic laws and international obligations.
The new provision, included in a budget bill due for a vote on December 8, would add pressure on recalcitrant countries by cutting off civil as well as military aid.
It would stop disbursements from the state department's $2.5bn Economic Support Fund aimed at alleviating poverty.
I read this last night, and today it made Buzzflash, which until this afternoon was following the line of the clean and simple. Not that there's any doubt which side I'm on, but we should all be aware of the actors behind the scene. I'm not a big fan of Soros, who's trying to buy forgiveness of his sins while playing god (and doing a good job at both) but the Ukrainians are pawns to Bush no more or less than to they are to Putin. If all goes well and Yushchenko comes out the victor I'm sure he'll keep his distance.
Updates again at AFOE (each of which by the way is at $1.3297 as of 5:30PM today)
Dec 04/04
Off to LA and/or a trailer in the desert for a week.
I need it. Maybe I'll stay.
The GS is still in the garage. MI-3 is on hold but the man doesn't ride it, and he can afford to buy 5 new ones if he wants.
But then I have to learn to ride the thing.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Updates on Ukraine @ A Fist Full of Euros

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

In re: the posts of The Stanley Bros. at Brian Leiter's site and the discussion linked to below at CT.

Is the work of Michelangelo a 'conceptual scheme.' How about von Karajan's recordings of Mozart, or anything and everything by Bjork? If specialization and technical knowledge are seen as superior, does that not imply that skill is a more important intellectual trait than curiosity? It seems to me that we could end up in a world where automobile mechanics compete against each other to design cars with lower gas mileage, but no one is able to imagine the electric train.

Back to the notion of connoisseurship. What does it mean that we are able to recognize a work as being by a specific author without being told? Is Mozart's ouvre a system? How do we describe the idiosyncratic patternings of one author in a given language? [Not that connoisseurs don't make mistakes: What allowed Adorno to treat Jazz with contempt?] When I first read the discussion of Davidson in the Stanford Encyclopedia it took me only a moment to think of the problems of literary translation. And I did so bypassing any reference in my mind to of Sapir-Whorf. Is this my genius or simply the result of the fact that my parents were students of literature rather than philosophy?

More specifically than a simple techncal/humanist divide, I'd say that the sciences now operate under the illusion that the thinking subject does not play a role in their activities. LIke a policeman who conflates himself with the law, those involved in technical fields of study- or in fields where it is possible to construct purely technical subsets- perform in a self constructed theater of the unhuman. How else could so many people be so unaware (and have such lousy taste in art)? I seem to have a few academic visitors these days, so in the interests of curiosity rather than dogma, I'll ask again: what is the difference between art and illustration? Why is science fiction so much the latter? What kind of knowledge is that of the bricklayer or the the connoisseur? Why are lawyers like philosophers, actors, and con men?
Are these not questions for philosphy?

On the job-site yesterday, while sucking ancient fiberglass into my lungs and pulling BX through old plaster walls, the DJ on the station we were listening to switched from a block of Albert Ayler to Prokifiev. This wouldn't interest me much, except that the first piece was central to my childhood. At the the tender age of 6, when these days kids have Star Wars, I had Nevsky.
It was an odd afternoon.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

A couple good paragraphs.

"Humanism, at this point at least, means the defense of man as something other than mechanism, whether that something is the consequence of metaphysical belief or of an assumption that experience, and our ability to learn from it, can not be described by means of number. Continental philosophy is humanist in that it is a defense of the primacy of experience, and therefore of art, as such.
Scientific meaning is an oxymoron, but not all defenses of the arts are predicated on religious argument, the argument that meaning- whatever that could be- exists. Over the centuries literature and theater have been more than anything the arts of atheism. And from the standpoint of philosophy, the continuing necessity of rhetoric in legal argument is the rebuttal to any pretense that human behavior can ever be described by mathematics or by science. The wisdom of Solomon will always be of more importance- as a thing of value- than the intelligence of the inventor of the Game Boy or the VCR."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Originally I'd posted a few paragraphs and linked, but the link died. I found the full piece and posted it.  It's back up at E&P but I'm leaving it up here as well.

Editor and Publisher
Greg Mitchell
Landscape After Battle
NEW YORK (November 16, 2004) -How the press portrays the aftermath of the Battle of Fallujah may determine what happens next in Iraq. In the days ahead, therefore, the media must look carefully at both the strategic benefits and the human toll of the offensive.

While the issues are endlessly complex, they boil down to the simple, age-old question: Does the end justify the means? It will be fascinating, though possibly quite sad, to see how this plays out in the press in the coming days.

A glorious victory to some may look like Bush's Guernica to others. In a report from the city for The New York Times, Robert F. Worth on Wednesday described Fallujah as "this post-apocalyptic wasteland" and "like a film that is set sometime on the other side of Armageddon."

With the fight easing -- though by no means finished -- embedded reporters can see more of (what's left of) the city and independent journalists are now braving the scattered gunfire. What they learn, the pictures they take and the lessons they draw, will help shape public opinion as the administration ponders "Fallujah-type solutions" for routing insurgents from Ramadi, Samarra, Mosul, and other inflamed cities.

So there are a lot of lives, Iraqi and American, riding at least in part on press reports and visuals.

There are many troubling angles to this story. For example, U.S. officials have long claimed that foreign jihadists had assembled in force in Fallujah and were helping to spearhead the revolt. Yet in today's USA Today we learn that of more than 1,000 insurgents captured there in the past week, only about 20 are foreigners.

Because the media generally needs little prodding to examine political and military questions, let me emphasize the human dimension here.

Evidence of the physical and spiritual toll in Fallujah remains sketchy. While the apparent execution of one wounded insurgent by a U.S. Marine draws headlines, the fate of thousands of civilians is still hidden.

It is not yet known with any certainty how many civilians might have been killed in the city, how many of those who fled have become gravely ill in ramshackle refugee camps, how much of Fallujah has been wrecked, and how long it will take to get the water running, lights on, and rubble cleared. Almost forgotten is the fact that the United States dropped tons of bombs to soften up the city in the weeks before the assault -- and before most of the residents escaped.

Starkly differing appraisals have already appeared. On Tuesday, Patrick J. McDonnell in the Los Angeles Times took a triumphant tack. He quoted Col. Craig Tucker crowing that "it was beyond their [the insurgents] comprehension how much combat firepower we sent down there." Col. John Ballard said, "The story for me is how we successfully convinced the local population that they would be safer to leave the city."

Tucker added, "In terms of civilians, it was a relatively clean battlefield." Ballard chimed in, "I have seen no evidence of a humanitarian disaster."

Compare this to a Monday dispatch from The Associated Press: "Dead Iraqis still lay out in the open, their stiff limbs akimbo, like department store mannequins knocked off their pedestals. At least two women were seen among the dead. ... Some districts reeked from the sickening odor of rotting flesh."

Jackie Spinner, a Washington Post embed, wrote on Tuesday: "Even the dogs have started to die." But she also quoted Marine Brig. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik: "This is what we do. This is what we do well. ... What I saw out here is a bunch of professional Marines and soldiers who were protecting the property of the Iraqi people."

This stood in contrast to another Tuesday report from The New York Times' Dexter Filkins, squeezed into the very bottom of page A12. It described horrific conditions in the battered city: "obliterated mosques, cratered houses and ground-up streets." Filkins observed that "the American military faces the urgent but almost paradoxical imperative of rebuilding the city it just destroyed. ... The devastation that the battle has wrought will not be easy to repair. The human and political effects of that devastation could rapidly spread far beyond Fallujah."

Filkins also showed what Col. Tucker's "combat firepower" actually looked like on the street: a tank firing a round at a single sniper, turning him "into rubble" as well as punching a hole in a minaret of a mosque. One insurgent remained alive in the mosque, so the military called for a pair of 500-pound bombs to be dropped from the sky, "and the mosque was no more."

Of course, an enemy shooting from a mosque may be fair game. But leveling a mosque is not likely to win the hearts and minds of the Fallujahans who will soon see it.

Or, as Col. Michael Olivier told Robert Worth of The Times: "First we blow up your house, then we pay you to rebuild it."

Then there are these reports:

• Amnesty International declared on Monday that the rules of war protecting civilians and wounded combatants have been broken by both sides in the assault. It also warned of a looming humanitarian crisis "with acute shortages of food, water, medicine and with no electricity. There are also many wounded people who could not receive medical care becuse of the fighting." A spokeswoman for Amnesty told AP: "According to what we're hearing and some testimony from residents who have fled, it looks like the toll of civilian casualties is high."

• An Associated Press dispatch on Monday quoted Marine Sgt. Todd Bowers, who is helping determine reconstruction needs: "It's incredible, the destruction. It's overwhelming. My first question is: Where to begin?"

• BBC reporter Paul Wood, embedded with the Marines, also described bodies lying in the streets, which were "starting to become a serious health risk." He had talked to a Marine officer who said that "cats and dogs are now starting to eat these bodies. It is a quite horrific picture which I'm drawing but that is what awaits the people of Fallujah when they come back." The reporter added that he could not imagine "how people are going to feel when they see their city and they see the holes in the mosques and they see the destruction that has been wrought by this battle."

• Anne Barnard of The Boston Globe noted that the military says it took every possible step to minimize civilian casualties, but "the methods used -- air strikes and artillery and tank fire from a distance -- make it difficult to know whether civilians are caught under fire." U.S. forces had urged Fallujans trapped in the city to stay in their homes, but "troops using thermal sights often assumed that if there was a 'hot spot' inside a house — indicating body heat — the people inside were insurgents."

• Officials with the International Red Cross decried the continuing ban on sending aid and ambulances into the combat zones. Fallujah General Hospital was well supplied but held no patients, as none of the injured had been able to reach it.

Equally disturbing: While we are starting to get a sense of the human effects of the "means," we still have no idea of how, when, or whether, this will ever "end."
The AP:
Baghdad, Iraq - The recapture of Fallujah has not broken the insurgents' will to fight and may not pay the big dividend U.S. planners had hoped— to improve security enough to hold national elections in Sunni Muslim areas of central Iraq (news - web sites), according to U.S. and Iraqi assessments.
Instead, the battle for control of the Sunni city 40 miles west of Baghdad has sharpened divisions among Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups, fueled anti-American sentiment and stoked the 18-month-old Sunni insurgency.

Those grim assessments, expressed privately by some U.S. military officials and by some private experts on Iraq, raise doubts as to whether the January election will produce a government with sufficient legitimacy, especially in the eyes of the country's powerful Sunni Muslim minority."

Comments: no comment.

War Porn and political kitsch

When individualism devolves into narcissism, democracy will be in need of a despot.
The photograph's an illustration of the obvious.

Monday, November 15, 2004


War is bloody. Thousands of children died in the destructiuon of Germany during the Second World War, a war that most of us consider just, but most of those responsible for this war have had no first hand knowledge of the thing, and most of those who shout approval pattern their behavior on memories of high school football games.

This war is not just and it was neither well planned nor well executed. The politics of this fiasco are both morally obscene and frankly self-destructive.
If Brooks is going to bitch about the CIA, and everyone else is wondering what and why, Goss's defenders should be pushing him to release the inspector general's internal report. And if he still refuses, the democrats should be asking why. Jane Harman mentioned this in passing, and only in passing, tonight in the final moments of a segment on the News Hour. That's all I've heard of it recently.
Talking Points: Given all that has happened over the last four years, it is easy for critics of the president to fall into the comforting but mistaken assumption that intelligence, foreign policy, or military 'professionals' always know more or are wiser than outsiders and political appointees. Go back and read a biography of Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill to see how mistaken that assumption can be.
All bureaucracies -- whether designed to make widgets, issue drivers licenses, run spies, or drop bombs -- have tendencies toward risk aversion and group think.
But here we have a record.
As Josh Marshall reminds us, If the professionals were often wrong, the appointee/amateurs were worse. "This is not argumentative or hyperbole or even up for much serious dispute."
No, it isn't.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

AP Photographer Flees Fallujah
ABC News: "I decided to swim … but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river."
He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. Then, he "helped bury a man by the river bank, with my own hands."
"I kept walking along the river for two hours and I could still see some U.S. snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim. I quit the idea of crossing the river and walked for about five hours through orchards."
He met a peasant family, who gave him refuge in their house for two days. Hussein knew a driver in the region and sent a message to another AP colleague, Ali Ahmed, in nearby Ramadi.
Ahmed relayed the news that Hussein was alive to AP's Baghdad bureau. He sent a second message back to Hussein that a fisherman in nearby Habaniyah would ferry the photographer to safety by boat.
"At the end of the boat ride, Ali was waiting for me. He took me to Baghdad, to my office."
Sitting safely in the AP's offices, a haggard-looking Hussein offered a tired smile of relief.
Eid Mubarak
More bullshit.

One problem liberals have, or one advantage republicans enjoy, is that the latter are in the position of being able to tell people what they want to hear: that they, the people, know enough, are well educated enough, to make the right decisions. Democrats are trapped by having to tell Americans that most of them don't know shit about foreign policy or economics, but that they should learn about both those subjects and more.

Democrats don't have the luxury of playing to provincialism. But they also don't have anyone of the stature or skill to tell the people why they should become more aware. Condescension doesn't work, and liberal self-interest is right there for all to see. The contempt of liberals for working class republicans in those places where they live side by side is one of those things I return to again and again.

The problem is freedom, and how it's defined. Liberals speak about social freedom and economic obligation. Big money conservatives talk about economic freedom and tack on any ideal of social obligation as a sop to social/moral conservatives. But of course economic freedom breeds social freedom, so you have the hyprocrisy of the powerful conservatives enjoying those pleasures that they consider dangerous for the masses. "To the pure all things are pure." And the priestly pederasts are all from the conservative side of the doctrinal fence. But the social conservativism of a large perventage of the working classes has its origin in their need to justify to themselves, for their own reasons, their inferior position. "We may be poor, but we're humble," and similar logic. But there's room for hypocrisy all around. Men and fathers may enjoy those powers their community allows. Women and children will suffer the most.

This is why I hate, and that is not too strong a word, those bow-tied, broomstick-impaled character actors David Brooks and George Will. The live to serve at others' whim. It's not about logic but desire and shame; a shame they feel at their own corruption and that they think we should feel about our own. But since we refuse, we not they are the hypocrites. That was the point of David Brock's previous existence, though it's not polite to admit it. It's the theme song of the right wing sodomites brigade going way back to the beginning of the beginning. You think it started with T.S. Eliot?

And liberals just feel guilty about having servants, so they try to pretend they don't exist.

I've said this before: A conservative pays for the fuck and walks out the door. The liberal's the one who hands you the money while suggesting, with a look of concern on his face, that maybe you should find a better job.
In an unfair world, who gets the hookers' vote?
Reading around the usual range of technocratic liberal blogs since the election, I despair of coming upon much of value. No fucking sense whatsoever that there are contradictions that can not be overcome by strategy alone.

The middle class represents its own interests. Rich coastal liberals make their money the same way rich republicans do; Manhattan isn't a den full of communist sympathizers, it's the home of people whose cleaning ladies live train-rides away in the outer boroughs, of well heeled servants of the truly powerful and their attendants. I'm as sick of earnest liberals as I am of Brad DeLong's bullshit literary tastes. Same delusion.

Nobody lives their ideas, they live their sensibility; and when there's a conflict, tell me which one wins?

Anri Sala and Francesca Woodman at Marian Goodman

Dammi i Colori documents the small offer of hope made by the mayor of Tirana, Sala's old friend and schoolmate, to his electorate. The question comes up of destiny vs. choice, to give the citizens of Albania's capital, so used to the former, at least the possibility of another option. But both Sala and his friend forget that artists live the contradiction of choosing to live by destiny. The authoritarianism of the poet surrounds the conversation like a frame.

There isn't much intellectually new in Woodman's photographs. They document the romantic self absorbtion of a pretty adolescent girl. But she was a brilliant girl; brilliant minds are subtle imaginations, and her imagination was visual. The photographs describe the sensations of her indulgence with such specificity and detail that we begin almost to share them.

Communication does not begin or end with ideas but with gestures. To end where I began: I may have an argument with the mayor of Tirana, but he understands this more than Brad DeLong.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Kerim picked a good one
It may be worth discussing whether $45 million is a bit much to spend at the moment, or even to consider the ethics and morality of money and art in a democracy, but to read in the same newspaper that Duccio di Buoninsegna "is not widely known" is a bit odd.
The cover of the Village Voice this week is an image of Manhattan Island floating in a sea of blue, with the title Cast Away.
The worldweariness of rich teenagers. The decadence of Weimar without the education.
"Man, you should come out here. It's cheap. Nothing out here but freaks with pick-up trucks, a few marines, and the naked gay boys hanging out in Jack Pierson's swimming pool."

$5000 would buy me a shack in the Mojave desert.
I'm so sick of this shit.
"James, why is it all the really good artists are homosexual, while my side's left with crap?"
"But, Seth, you've got Raphael. He's good."
"Raphael sucks!"
"But I love Raphael."

Friday, November 12, 2004

Mark LeVine, in a guest editorial at Juan Cole/Informed Comment

In the weeks leading up to Palestinian President Yassir Arafat’s death American politicians and pundits have repeatedly called on the Palestinian people to use the opportunity of his passing to transform the intifada from a violent uprising into a non-violent, democratic and pragmatic program for achieving independence. This is very good advice, needless to say, except for one small problem: Palestinians have been trying to build such a movement for the last two decades, and the Israeli Government, IDF and American policy-makers have done everything possible to make sure it could not be heeded.
Matthew Yglesias knows smart people. Tapped:
BLAIR, PALESTINE, AND UNIPOLARITY. Tony Blair is headed for America in order to, among other things, try and push the president to push harder for a settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict. I've spoken to several smart, informed people over the past 24 hours who've suggested that the outcome of this effort could have much broader implications than one might think.
I have to admit I almost hope he fails.
But it's another reason I'm more worried about the stability of nuclear Israel than I am about Iran. The partnership of Jewish and Christian fundamentalists, in what both perceive to be a hostile world.
I take it back.
Good luck Tony.
Laura Rozen sends us to Yossi Beilin's unraveling of Yasser Arafat in The Forward:
During the Camp David Summit in 2000, Arafat told President Clinton, "If I accept the proposals that have been made here, then you will have to come to my funeral." This, of course, is not a serious argument. You can object to a proposal, or support it, but opposition that derives from fear for one's life from extremists is, in my opinion, unforgivable.
The rest of the piece is in of a similar tone: condescension is the courtesy of the victor towards the vanquished.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

On the sidebar to an article in Haaretz on the Israeli Govt. response to the death of Arafat:
I could probably turn this into an attack on market theory, analytic philosophy, Zionism, or any of the many theories of intention; but I think I'll just have a little chuckle and go to sleep.
Fucking idiots.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

From the Times:
"It's as if somebody were to find a dozen new paintings by Rembrandt or a lost film of Charlie Chaplin," said Daniel Guss, director of the classical catalog for BMG Music, the successor to RCA, for which Kapell recorded.
Any such claims for anything in 20th century musical performance are pure hyperbole—certainly in the classical repertoire—but the comparison of Rembrandt to Chaplin is kind of interesting.

update: Thinking about the Afro-Celtic hybrids that are the basis of the great popular musical traditions of the last century, and their relationship to music-hall etc. (the world that produced Chaplin)

What does it mean when folk musical traditions, rather than being transformed into abstraction—classical music,  jazz—become formalized version of themselves? Is rock and roll a musical tradition, or a theatrical one? Was James Brown a musician or a performer, in the broader sense. Remember the old debate over whether the blues was folk music, or something else.

Opera and Hans Hotter.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"I find it extraordinary that despite all the expressions of opposition to the assault on Falluja that the coalition authorities should not only have persisted with the assault, but pretend that they undertake it because the Iraqis want them to do so. This must be the last throw ... of the strategy of pacifying Iraq by bombing it." Robin Cook
Note to self: God/MacGuffin/South Africa/John Comaroff/political art/Terry Turner/stories of my youth.
(I'll remember what it all means when I wake up.)
A quarter-century ago this month, several hundred Iranian students seized the American Embassy in Tehran, taking our Marines and diplomats hostage, and leaving Americans fuming and asking, "Why do they hate us?"
25 years ago I was a 16 year old high school student, and I knew why they hated us.

Ken Pollack is an idiot. But even Atrios is capable of saying "Iran has the potential to be a genuine threat in the medium term." I really don't know what that can mean except in the sense of a threat to our interests, as opposed to our safety. As far as safety, I'm much more worried about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
[T]here is good evidence that most Iranians want a different form of government, but there is little evidence that they are ready to take up arms against their rulers. Most Iranians simply don't want to go through another revolution. While Iranians on the whole are probably the most pro-American Muslims in the region, they are also fiercely nationalistic. Given our experience in Iraq, we should assume they would resist any effort by America to interfere in their domestic affairs.

A diplomatic solution is far preferable to a military one.
Oh. Really?

On another note, this post from C.T. send us here, where I've discovered that one of the authors is an old roomate, and someone who for a few years was my closest friend. We haven't talked in over a decade, and probably won't be any time soon. Graduate student life can be miserable, even for someone who's only an observer. I miss the neighborhood though.
"Hyde Park. Where black and white hold hand in hand... against the poor."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Questions for Henry Farrell:

Is Israel an anomaly among modern democracies, or reactionary from its founding?
What does it mean to have created an arch-nationalist state in the 20th century?
Is there a double standard to western responses to Israel as compared to more violent and repressive regimes, or does this apply only because of Israel's claims to superior moral authority?

I posted a comment on the thread at C.T and as usual didn't get much response.

Friday, November 05, 2004

God is a MacGuffin
(see: metonymy)

From Majikthise:
A colossal waste of time.

What training that makes it possible for anthropologists to be both critical and respectful in dealing with the groups they study, whether New Jersey teenagers or tribesmen in the highlands of New Zealand? What do they expect from people?
What do liberals expect?
What do they assume about themselves?
How can Susan Haack be so intelligent, and yet so incapable of self reflection?

Moral Values
I have a little fun late in the comments.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Added to the comments on this post at C.T.:
I’ve read a few of these comments but not all, and most of what I’ve read seems to miss the point. Liberals are a condescending lot.

I wonder how many of those who voted for Bush would say that their obligations, to family and friends and community, were more important to them than personal freedom. That’s certainly the case in my neighborhood. What calculations could Brad DeLong do with that? Brian Leiter once linked approvingly if half in jest to an article or a blog entry by some professor or other that claimed to analyze the IQ’s of the populations of various Red states. Conclusion: the peasants are stupid. I was I think the only one I know of to point out that the post and the link to it were obscene. I wonder how many of you spend time in college towns. Do you know how humiliating life can be for the locals in such places?

Traditions gives us most of what we value. French haute cuisine derives from the efforts of 500 generations of French grandmothers. Mozart is the end of a tradition, not a lightningbolt out of the blue. I’m sick to death of technocrats and libertarians, of liberal yuppies who destroy what’s left of old neighborhoods and then wonder why their neighbors, the little old ladies, vote for Bush. But liberals are the public face of hard-core economic conservatism: of the logic of the market. DeLong and Krugman would be happy to have a population of corporate drones with really good health insurance. The peasants don’t expect life to be easy. They don’t want much. But they don’t like being condescended to by people who want to help them out of pity. “And for the record (don’t post this), Yglesias as an individual has a great, self-aware sense of humor and is much more starkly honest (if also unapologetic) about his own elitism than most liberals. Take him out for a beer and I think you’d find that.” Yeah that’s a real quote. But I’m sure he loves listening to Johnny Cash.

For the record I’m an atheist. But given a choice between spending time with someone who’s thinks the meaning of life comes from understanding a calculation and someone who thinks it comes from the study of a book, I’ll gladly choose the latter. And ‘Riverbend’ has a wider range of reference, a better prose style in her second language and, frankly, is more intelligent than Ophelia Benson. And I’m sorry if the above quote is dirty pool. The problem with my country is very simple: college professors don’t know how to sit at the same table with truckers and taxi drivers; and that’s not the taxi drivers’ fault. Whites are not allowed any more to speak for blacks, men can no longer comfortably be assumed to speak for women or straights for gays; but the educated may speak freely to each other about the rest of the country without acknowledging there’s a problem.

Monday, November 01, 2004

C.T. on the Lancet study part 2

Riverbend on living in Hell.

And from The Guardian:
A Nobel Prize winner from Iran, praised by President Bush for her commitment to democracy, is suing the U.S. government over restrictions that could block the publication of her memoirs in America.

In her lawsuit, Shirin Ebadi argued that Treasury Department regulations restricting the publication in the United States of works by authors in countries subject to U.S. trade sanctions is unconstitutional.

...Ebadi, 57, a Muslim lawyer and human rights activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, said she wants to write a book about her life and career and publish it in America, rather than Iran, where it would be subject to state approval.

Discovered at Crooked Timber: an academic blog on philosophy and art. I might learn something. And I might also have the opportunity to be very cruel.

It strikes me more and more that what B. Leiter and others can not accept is the fact that any understanding as such is or will be partial. They may argue the case but there's always an attempt to wiggle out of a commitment. A tennis player, a chess player, or a lawyer all require opponents, literally, to function. A philosopher does not, and there's a diference between arguing for an idea and actually living by it. This goes back to my old description of consciousness as the moment in the mind of an organism when empirically based reason conflicts with conditioned response. Consciousness is a result of the need to make a choice, and it is marked, defined, by the fear that that choice is mistaken. Justice is also the result, the moment, that results from such a such a conflict. But in both cases, neither side of the conflict can be defined as representing the just or true.

The displacement of an ideal of skill by the ideal of truth, by the notion that one side may of an argument must be the truth, brought about the displacement of ideas by ideology.
It made it possible to cut corners.
There can be no science of ideas.