Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm amazed.
or sad... or lost, or something.
Dictatorship, etc.
Irish-Bulgarian bartender on Manhattanites moving into the neighborhood* and whether or not they take over the place: "I hope not... I like the diversity." 

*Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, The Caribbean, Spain, Ireland, Italy, France, Greece, Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Poland, Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Tibet, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, The Czech Republic, Slovakia. [I just found out a neighbor played for The West Indies in 1984-85.]

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The airspace was closed and the Americans started bombing Iraq on the night of January 17, 1991. The handful of women and children were still being evacuated out of Riyadh that were waiting at the airport were piled into buses and driven around the city until the morning so that they would not be able to tell anyone the airspace had been closed.

We had known for three days that the Americans were serious; the Ballast guys in Dhahran had been reporting that the Americans had been arming the fighter planes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Americans spent as much on 'plastic Santa Clauses,' tinsel and other holiday purchases last year as they will for defense in the coming year, the Army's top general said Wednesday, lamenting complaints about the military's budget requests.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told reporters: 'I just don't understand. ... What's the problem?' "

Let's see who reminds us this time of the importance of civilian control of the military.


"The CIA has operated more than 1,000 secret flights over EU territory in the past five years, some to transfer terror suspects in a practice known as "extraordinary rendition", an investigation by the European parliament said yesterday."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

In 1948 I tore a large sheet of brown paper to get little rectangular pieces that I piled up, and with which I erected a rather unstable column. In 1954 I straightened out a piece of corrugated cardboard with a surface area of a square meter. Since 1957, without interruption, I have been smoothing out the silver paper from cigarette boxes. In 1962 I began to detach the filters from cigarettes, with which I created long strips; in the case of the Murattis I was startled to note an extremely interesting granular stratification. In 1958, under the guidance of Mr. Sergio Vercellino, a resident of Vagliumina (Biella) and an agriculturalist, I cut, with a scythe, about 3 m(3) of grass. In 1950 about twenty small ice cream glasses, which I collected with some difficulty, were inserted one inside the other so as to form an arch. In the same year I filled a little plastic box with some twelve little matchboxes, and with a great deal of difficulty I bought a packet of Marlboro which I soon took apart, flattened and stretched out. In 1949 I had rolled up a meter of yellow fabric and put my little finger in it to form a kind of tower of Babel. In 1953 I took a red or blue rubber band and stretched it with the four fingers of my right hand to form a square. A pile of sand about 30 cm. high was made in 1949, in Alassio, where I also dug a big hole until I found water. The first pile of matches and the first bundle of pencils date back to 1947. There were also countless works either with salt water or aqueduct water, or with other liquids of various kinds. Using a pencil as a ruler I cut up a poster in 1948, and in the same year, if I remember correctly, I poured an inkpot into a glass full of sawdust. In april 1951 I melted tinfoil and other metals and poured them into some water. The first experiments with a sheepskin that I squashed against some glass, not to mention the experiment of of pouring liquid sugar on a marble kitchen table, took place in 1952-53. Bending a piece of rubber between two fingers, rolling a sphere on a plane inclined by myself to this end, rolling up a soft wire inside a pencil, mixing different colored powders, these are the works carried out between March and April 1949. From 1946 onwards, I have continuously poked fires with the help of various materials. In 1954 it took me three days to glue together a manuscript that I had torn into a thousand little pieces; two hours were enough to put in a vertical position, in a line, 342 matches; it took me a moment to put a weight on a spider's web; I took advantage of the early hours of the afternoon to strip off the bark of a tree to see its smooth, moist surface.

Intellectual ghetto motherfuckers

"boetti askes for a bottle of poor. paolini settles into a piece of poverty and depravity cake."

The Lion and the Horse. diptych, from 1999. Oil on Canvas. 86"x 110."
(open the image in a new window to see it @ a larger scale.)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

the usual
I made the usual comments:
The absurdity of analytic philosophy as philosophical act is that it operates under the illusion that one can analyze language and experience seemingly from outside of both. It may be possible for computers to describe computation, but consciousness can not describe consciousness apart from acting it. We are creatures of sense before logic, and we must try each day, without ever succeeding, to pick one apart from the other. Analytic philosophy does not teach self-awareness, claiming it is unnecessary. It is the philosophy of autism.

Derrida wanted to argue the primacy of craft and of description- as a novelist would- while maintaining the authorial certainty of the man of ideas. His works fail as philosphy because they fail as literature (and “do as I say not as I do” is no longer accepted as a valid argument) Judith Butler is a student of the moral success of his intellectual failure, but she doesn’t get the point. Still, to say [quoting Jason Stanley] that a university “should seek to promote work that will give that university prestige” either now or in the future sounds so ridiculously anti-modern that I don’t know what anyone has to complain about with either of them.

We separate science and law. We defend the rule of law over the rule of ideas [without thinking!] and then turn around and defend the rule of “truth” and science over the absurdity of “fiction”.
Derrida’s mistake was clumsiness, but what he represented in his clumsy way was a return [in the academy, and years behind the culture at large] to premodern now post-modern acceptance of the primacy of description.

The rule of law is the rule of language not of truth; and narrative is the order of the day, and will be for the forseable future.

I was first introduced to modern analytical philosophy in the mid 1980’s when a friend who worked at the Journal of Philosophy gave me a subscription. I remember an article on “morality and self-other asymmetry” that relied entirely, and seemingly as a point of ideology, on absract logic unaided by empiricism.
Why is it permissible to sacrifice one’s own life to save others but not to sacrifice another person’s to obtain the same result? The next question might have been: “why is the militry an exception?” but it was never asked. Questions as to anthropology or history were deemed irrelevent. More recently, on this site, I’ve run into discussions of Donald Davidson and references to his ‘On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme’

The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Simon Blackburn writes this about Donald Davidson:
“Davidson is also known for rejection of the idea of a conceptual scheme, thought of as something peculiar to one language or one way of looking at the world, arguing that where the possibility of translation stops so does the coherence of the idea that there is something to translate.”

So if it is impossible to translate the finer points in Mallarmé, then no finer points exist.

There is a form of intellectual life that is indebted to people and to forms that are not strictly speaking intellectual, even more than it is those that are. Mozart was not a philosopher, and he is more important than most of those who were.
I prefer craftsmen to philosophs as I prefer lawyers to philosophers of law (and defense attorneys to prosecutors). But if the main question of philosophy remains the relation of action to reflection, I’ll still think it my right to demand of those who call themselves intellectuals that they have an understanding of the importance of craft, action and performance to their ‘intellectual’ preoccupations.

Just to wind this up on my end…
john halasz,
My argument is not with analytic or continental philosophy but philosophy itself. The continentals, unlike the analytics, refer to literature as a model but they undermine it by rationalizing it, dealing in a conceptualization of thought that in this country has been used to academicize the arts in ways that I think are absurd.
The question is still: how does one act ‘within’ or through a philosphy? What is the relation of action to reflection?
Academic philosphy is defined by the culture of academe, and exists inside it; but what is the relation of a lawyer in a courtroom, to law, and to society? That relation is not the same as that of a speaker to a language, but a lawyer acts within law in a similar way. A lawyer acts, must act, within a system only as a part; he/she is required not to be fully conscious. But the system itself is considered philosophically valid. Again: the rule of law is not the rule of science. but I’ve gone through this before.

I defend the arts (my chosen field) as a function of culture that similarly is philosphically valid, in that each form is simultaneously a questioning and a documentation of itself and its surroundings, both formal and reflective. Continental philosophy values the arts for this even as it undermines them [artists and critics etc.] Analytic philosophy in it’s latent or not so latent positivism, thinks this is all bunk or otherwise hides from it, and therefore from the most important questions of philosophy.
I hate academic rationalists. I only defend theory to the acolytes of analytic philosphy because at the core of either is the same scholastic formalism. Like I said: the usual. Intellectual ghetto motherfuckers.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

a good one

Monday, April 17, 2006

Henry Siegman on Hamas.
fucking idiot

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

And another, but not my copy

No weathermen no PL (Progressive Labor)!*
*(everybody else welcome)

from the family archives
What's next?: Passivity and fatalism.
More of Dear Leader's contempt.
Power corrupts.
I phoned Schumer's office in DC and was told "We have oversight."
I read something today about the lawsuit to stop the bombing of Belgrade (I'm trying to remember where).
I was wrong. Now he gets it (sort of).

I'd like to hope with Chris Nelson that the Pentagon's on the side of sanity, and that they're gaming the president. But the president and his crew aren't smart enough to game Iran and Ahmadinejad is no smarter than they are; though I'd have to say he's probably less of a dry drunk. I'm sure Ahmadinejad's minders are worried as well.

It amazes me that people can write about this as if it were a baseball game, played by other people. In a well run democracy we are the players.

Early Warning
Posted by Domenico Ghirlandaio @ 09/19/2002 10:35 AM EST

"I'm still amazed at the degree to which the American press and punditocracy, even in the liberal wing, and including it's junior league in blogistan, can spend so much time debating the usefulness and value of the antiwar American left -often attacking it as being made up of "19 year old anarchists, old quakers and Trotskyites"- when as far as American policy is concerned, the majority of the citizens of the planet seem to agree with its position. And the liberals who are suspicious of our government's 'analysis' feel forced by their own squeamish impotence to look to the Realist school of the American right for confirmation of their doubts, the Realists being the group that more than any other does not care what foreigners think of us unless they pose a danger to what they consider our interests.
I am more interested in the philosophical 'realism' of the members of the european populace who are shaking their heads in disbelief. This is not a debate over farm policy, but over the proposed invasion -proposed apparently by idiots- of a country in the most contested region on the face of the earth.
This debate is shameful."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Early Warning

Monday, April 10, 2006

Laura Rozen forwards tonight's Nelson Report:
Every paper and magazine of national stature has pieces with increasingly anxious quotes from past and present US officials, increasingly frank about their fears for the future.
Step back, and think about what we are really hearing from the US intelligence and military community: on one level, sure, there is a big psy-war operation being conducted by both Washington and Teheran (see today’s Washington Post) as each seeks to influence the sanctions debate at the United Nations, and whatever comes next.

But if you look at the pattern of stories in recent weeks, examine the details of both anonymous and on-the-record quotes, you see that there’s another game underway, and our sources say it’s called “pre-empting Bush” by laying out contingency plans, including the most bizarre, such as using tactical nuclear weapons on the Natanz reactor complex.

The rising drum beat of revelations, our sources argue, can have only one serious meaning: US military leaders want to force a public debate which makes it difficult for the President to talk himself into ordering a military solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. [...]

What terrifies serious US military, intelligence, and diplomatic players is how this Administration can turn a tactical military victory into strategic catastrophe.

Hit Natanz...then what? That’s the big question our sources are asking. After any US air strikes, does Iran meekly fold its nuclear tent and bow to the all-mighty will of George Bush? Or does Iran escalate its intervention in Iraq against US troops and interests...then Jordan...then Turkey...and, always, Israel...not to mention the Asian and European oil lifelines in the Gulf?
It would be nice if this were thing to crush George W. Bush. He deserves it. But the democratic party won't have anything to do with it.
Finally: News of the Late in the Day
JMM gets it.
As does Max (but I'd expect no less)

Marshall pulls this quote from Hersh:
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush's ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be wiped off the map.? Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. That's the name they're using. They say: "Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?"
I'll blame the liberal foreign palsy types if this thing hits. Cheap and cynical nationalism fueled by ignorance and stupidity abetted by thoughtful [sic] nationalism fueled by ignorance and cowardice.
Lunacy and cowardice. Fucking idiocy all the way around.
A new link: Dean Baker's Beat the Press
(still working on it)
Apropos any discussion of 'enlightenment' and multiculturalism:
Arch defenders of the Enlightenment are most often those who defend the rule of ideas as if it were synonymous with the rule of law and as if both were equally opposed to romanticism. But while the rule of law has never been a romantic ideal, the rule of ideas is little else.

If maintaining this blog has done anything it's giving me a way to work through the defense of my sensibility and give its defense a logical form: The rule of law is the rule of form, not of ideas, and therefore not of any ideal of truth. Scientists tend towards optimism, as prosecutors tend towards moral absolutes. By this logic poets and trial lawyers argue complexity (by description) against the desire to simply name. Science gives us the only valid description of material fact, but is a simplified and vulgar description of experience.
That even scientists agree on the necessity of a rule of law means that they accept its premise.

The historical role of religion was as law. By religious logic -and now by secular legal logic- law must trump science as a description of experience. The recent misunderstandings between both sides of the creationism debate is that the creationists, in defense of the primacy of law (as God's law), are attempting to fight scientists on their own terms. They fail. What PZ Myers et al. fail or refuse to understand is the reason for creationist desperation.
Creationists see scientists equating the rule of science with the rule of law. And as long as defenders of secularism defend the rule of ideas rather than of law, the creationists are right to worry.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

So it's nukes and this is the only detailed response I've found.

People must not get the point.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Fuckers are going to Bomb Iran
Reductio ad Dictatorem
Jack Balkin:
"This theory, taken to its logical conclusions, gives the President the ability to treat anyone living in the United States, including particularly U.S. citizens, as wartime enemies without having to prove their disloyalty to anyone outside the executive branch. In so doing, it offers him what can only be called dictatorial powers-- that is, the power to suspend ordinary civil liberties protections on his say so. The limits on what the President may do under this theory are entirely political-- the question is whether the American people will stand for what the President has done if they discover what he has done in their name. But if the American people don't know what their executive is doing, they can hardly be in a position to object. And so the President has tried to keep secret exactly what he has done under the unreasonable and overreaching theory of Presidential power that his Administration has repeatedly asserted in its legal briefs and public statements.

Attorney General Gonzales' latest admission should hardly surprise us once we understand how much power the President actually thinks he has. Given that we will probably never know what the President has been doing in our name, we can only hope that he has not actually tried to exercise all the power he (wrongfully) thinks he possesses.
Michael Froomkin has more

Friday, April 07, 2006

A comment at
Shyamalan is a lousy filmmaker (and I'm far from alone in thinking that) but what is interesting if only in a small way is that the advertisement is now the tag-line at the end of a 60 second movie. Ads, via the form of rock videos, have become a new form [format] for art. It's not a big move, just a slow evolution (and not an advancement). I said the same thing in a comment in the post you linked to the last time. McCracken tries to make more out of it but there's not much more to say.

Art and economics even as partners are opposed. Art offers description before definition. it doesn't name experience, it merely describes it (though every description has bias) Advertising as illustration names before describing, so that the audience is led passively to a conclusion. That's why TV ads run "between" episodes or scenes. Now that ads have developed their own formal independence, the advertising 'content' comes at the end of 'ads' that have become plays within plays. It's interesting but a new format is not a new kind of art. Old wine in new bottles, no more no less.

Prosecutors and philosophers of law don't understand art but defense attorneys do. Philosophers and prosecutors say" "The accused has committed murder"
The defender says: "What do you mean when you say 'murder'?"
Some may hate them for it but they get people off that way. And McCracken doesn't understand what they do or how they do it. He has engineers' disease: the assumption that all communication, and therefore all art as a subset, is a series of statements and propositions.
And that kind of Posnerite crap pisses me off.
Like all good philosophy, art undermines propositions and then walks away.
explanation later.

And the Burger King ads are much more complex, and much more interesting.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Here's the new Amnesty International report: Below the Radar
My old roommate emailed me to say he's going to be on Charlie Rose tonight.
A teacher's authority is naturally self-subverting: teaching is itself the transferral of authority as knowledge.
A doctor retains authority after a patient is cured.

I'm not an anarchist but I'm sympathetic (more some other time).
"For months, I have told interviewers that no senior political or military official was seriously considering a military attack on Iran," Joseph Cirincione, director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment, writes in Foreign Policy magazine. "In the last few weeks, I have changed my view." Cirincione says his shift was partly triggered by "colleagues with close ties to the Pentagon and the executive branch who have convinced me that some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran." The ramifications of such an attack could be disastrous. Not only would it likely "rally the Iranian public around an otherwise unpopular regime, inflame anti-American anger around the Muslim world, and jeopardize the already fragile U.S. position in Iraq"; most importantly, a military strike would "almost certainly speed up" Iran's nuclear weapons development by sparking a "crash nuclear program that could produce a bomb in a few years." (Longtime U.S. counterrorism chief Richard Clarke also spoke out yesterday against military action in Iran.) Cirincione advises that the key now is to get as much information about the status of Iran's nuclear program "on the table for an open debate."
The link is to Laura Rozen. Her source is here.
I'm speechless.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Direland: On the Thai elections, Polish politics, and Berlusconi.
sin titulo:

I first read Crunchy Cons, by way of Russell Fox. I wouldn't have bothered to if he hadn't mentioned it.
I smiled when I found out that Bill Kauffman writes for Counterpunch. Alex Cockburn is one of the few people who has actually paid attention to the red state anger and more importantly given it the respect it deserves. David Brooks' secret is that he feels as much contempt for people of small town america as the average urban and demi-urbane liberal; but unlike them, he's guilt-ridden and self flagellating. I've always found Atrios' Bobo's World posts offensive.
It's been commented upon often enough, but the perverse populism of Jerry Springer's trash TV show was rooted in the political populism of his past. "Our father the left-handed transvestite dwarf is having an affair with the family hog... We still love him but we still need our bacon and eggs." Springer at his worst was never putting himself above his guests, he just wallowed in the same mud. A child of the Holocaust trying to love and be loved and make a very good living in a world where events are lost to memory after half an hour. There are worse things.

The opinions or red state conservatives are no more or less symptomatic, reactionary in the strictest sense, as those of the majority of liberals. The thought that "we" need to worry about China or the Iranian bomb strikes me as odd; the world needs to worry about Pakistan, and the only reason to worry about Iran isn't Iran, it's Israel and our client state's culture of paranoia. I'm amazed that Brad DeLong and others can go on about logic and rationality, raging against obscurantism and religious gobbledegook while arguing from nationalism as if if were as self-evidently an objective truth as the earth revolving around the sun. But nationalism, like religion, is objectively a political truth. Why secular technocrats can't see faith in their own assumptions I can't claim to know, but it seems to me that like conservatives they prefer their answers neat, tidy, and with a ribbon on top. Maybe that's why they all read science fiction.
Having to decide whether or not to turn in a contractor who brings a crew of 15 and 16 year old Ecuadorian laborers to a job site in Manhattan; wondering whether they're better off here, living without their parents in an apartment in Williamsburg, or if they'd be safer back in the villages they spent so much time and money and blood to escape.
That's not economics or science fiction, that's literature.

And the convergence of Counterpunch and the Crunchy Cons may be seen as relevant to this.,,1745707,00.html

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Henry Farrell quotes the Financial Times quoting Haaretz:

“It would in fact serve Israel if the open and critical debate that takes place over here were exported over there [the US].”

(the Yglesias bit is silly)
And I didn't lnk to this earlier but I'm with Max and Noam on this one.
And of course, here too
I was there for the afternoon session. It was interesting to watch.

The interesting question raised by the second piece regards the debate between intellectual history and connoisseurship. I don't pit one ideal against the other (and I don't defend people who own enough to start their own museum). I defend both connoisseurship and history against intellectual ideals of synchronic analysis that render the meanings within rather than behind formalized communication as secondary elements.
There are no ideas outside form.

It's hard to say what work functions as art and what merely as illustration, but it should be easy enough to understand that they do different things.