Tuesday, October 10, 2006

note taking
I’d think it’s really more intersting, to those of us who are not and never have been geeks, that a show on American television is portraying suicide bombing as an option worthy of debate.
And the language and imagery on last nights show was more akin to Gaza than Iraq.

“I think the show is relevant and is trying to do what science fiction is supposed to do, which is to examine society through a different prism.”

All good literature or not does that “serious” or not. Science fiction spends most of its time on big generalizations and big toys, not on details and precise (and self-aware) observation. Why else would this thread devolve into a debate between teenage boys about Lorne Green and wanting to make it with a chick who can turn into a cheetah. (You think the ersatz irony changes anything?) Edward James Olmos put it well (roughly from memory):

“The last thing I wanted to be doing was science fiction on cable, but if they keep writing it like this I’ll do it for the rest of my life.”

The question is why should sci fi be the apparently necessary vehicle for such discussion. Why are our best political pundits a stand up comic, a sportscaster and a theater critic? The answer should be obvious to anyone who doesn’t follow “political-science” fiction.

This country lags behind others in so many ways; and this country’s academic elite follow behind the rest.
So fucking stupid.

Read Baudelaire on Alfred Rethel and “Philosophic Art”
Or just google Alfred Rethel. I’m sure you’ll find his graphic work shockingly contemporary.
The link could fit here as well.

Rethel was an illustrator, nothing more. Baudelaire tries to examine what that means though he doesn’t use the term illustration. Battlestar Galactica is not an illustration; is not written as illustration but popular theater. It is not “philosophic art’ though the interest in it here is based on an outward similarity.

Illustration -”lit up”- is an image of something else. A work of art is a thing in itself. To see language as transparent is to use it to describe other things, as a geologist describes a rock (or as a philospher describes an idea). To see language as material is to use it to describe itself and what we perceive as its relation to the world: not to know what words mean but to ask.

Philosophic art – illustration- is an art of rules. Unphilosophic art as art is a record of their undoing in experience.
“BSG” is pop entertainment; but it’s miles ahead of most political commentary in this country simply because it’s honest.
“What’s Liberal About The Liberal Arts?”
Wrong question
“What Makes a Hit TV Show More Liberal than Brad DeLong?”


“A stand-up comedian, sports commentator, and theater critic are our clearest political editorialists these days because American politics are entertainment not governance. It’s theater, bad theater, not the application of ideas and ideals to power.”

No. A stand-up comedian, sports commentator, and theater critic are our clearest political editorialists, because sports writers have historically been the best writers in the daily press and because comics and theater critics are skeptics who are capable of an ironic distance not only from others but from themselves. That’s their speciality.

But DeLong wonders about the neurochemistry of the people who still support Bush. Adult Europeans have been making laughing at pedants of his sort since the invention of the bourgeoisie.

Here’s Tyler Cowen on New Orleans:
Shantytowns might well be more creative than a dead city core. Some of the best Brazilian music came from the favelas of Salvador and Rio. The slums of Kingston, Jamaica, bred reggae. New Orleans experienced its greatest cultural blossoming in the early 20th century, when it was full of shanties. Low rents make it possible to live on a shoestring, while the population density blends cultural influences. Cheap real estate could make the city a desirable place for struggling artists to live. The cultural heyday of New Orleans lies in the past. Katrina rebuilding gives the city a chance to become an innovator once again.
You tell me if he’s playing this straight. I really can’t tell. When people are desperate they sing like they mean it and isn’t that something we enjoy? Isn’t that a “good.”
Here’s DeLong after I made a comment that he pulled from his site:

“Bullshit. You said things that were false. Hezbollah and Hamas are not “moderating.”
Look in the mirror, if you can.”

I sent him the USG reports that said otherwise. I’m still banned. And will someone explain DeLong’s Chomsky pathology? What’s DeLong’s ‘neurochemistry’ What the fuck is Cowen’s?

Consciousness is flawed. Theater critics understand this more than scientists, and certainly more than “political” scientists.
We need more theater critics, not less.—-

Again: “so fucking stupid”


This is a site where I regularly find qualified defenses of Ayn Rand’s literary abilities, so lets just end the discussion of sci fi as such there.

But still, maybe you should read Baudelaire on “philosophic” art; maybe you should read Anthony Grafton on what it was the renaissance left behind; maybe you should wonder at the persistent taste for systematic oversimplification in times of crisis: at the diminution of methodology over time into decadent formalism, internally consistent but describing nothing outside its own consistency; pure brittle logic ill fitted to a vulgar world.

Political Science is to Political life what “Law and Economics” is to economic life, what Literary Theory is to literature, and what Analytic Philosophy is thought. Should I add: what sociology is to careful observation? What documentary is to film? What the myth of objectivity is to newspaper reporting?
What’s missing from all these things?

Knowledge is not wisdom, erudition is not judgment, and self-awareness is necessary for emotional and intellectual maturity. Can someone tell me how Tyler Cowen could be so stupid? So arrogant and unaware? So Rumsfeldian?

I’ve run into shitloads of such stupidity over the years. I had a little fun here at the expense of Donald Davidson, and Richard Dawkins and the “Dims.” At DeLong and Leiter and Posner. Do you think Rumsfeld or Cheney would be any less oblivious to their failure if they proclaimed atheism? I’m not going to go into the brittleness of Weimar.
Troll, at this point, maybe.
Stupid, no.

My stockbroker/doctor wants to start giving me blood pressure medicine. I have to give up on this shit.

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