Friday, February 28, 2014

"I just watched Pan’s Labyrinth. I liked it. Belle and I debated whether it had a happy or a sad ending. I think it had a happy ending."
The intellectual level of contemporary academia

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The contradictions of Tim Clark

Lecture II
Cubism, these paintings convince me, is a style directed to a present understood primarily in relation to a past: it is a modest. decent, and touching appraisal of one moment in history, as opposed to a whirling glimpse into a world-historicai present-becoming-future. It is commemorative. Its true power derives not from its modernity. that is, if we mean by this a reaching toward an otherness ahead of time, but from its profound belonging to a modernity that was passing away: the lonq modernity of the nineteenth century. ...

Cubism's world has the following structure. It wishes to state again, this time definitively, that the world is substantial through and through, with space only real -only felt- to the extent that it is constrained and solidified. Physical reality is something the mind or imagination can only reach out to incompletely, for objects resist our categories; and painting can speak to this ultimate non-humanness of things very well; but only by giving their otherness a certain architecture, a certain rectilinear -indeed "cubic"- constructedness. And this constructedness is only real if it is not far away, and smaller than us, or maybe just the same size. ...

Roger Fry says of Picasso in 1921, looking back to the line of work from 1908 to I916 —he says it a little regretfully— that "the obstinate fact remains that the limit of depth into the picture space is soon reached, that these pictures rarely suggest much more backwards and forwards play of planes than a high relief in sculpture. The immense resource [that painting has] of suggesting real distance and, perhaps even more important, circumambience of space seems to be almost cut off, or at most reduced, in its power to persuade the imagination." Well, yes: because the imagination should not be so persuaded; because the space of modernity is only falsely circumambient: it does not surround us like a circle—the great shape at the bottom of Still Lift in front of a Window could be understood as a parody of any such claim— it faces us like a piece of wainscoting. We lean on it like a table. We strum the strings of its guitar. We take off in our paper Montgolfier—Picasso actually made paper cutout versions of his  Young Girl's toys before reproducing them in paint—for a voyage around its four walls. And this proximity, this tactility, this coziness, is the condition of endless mad inventiveness about its particular states. Because the interior is the truth of space—for Bohemia, those last believers in the nineteenth century.
see the tags. more later.

As long as I'm at at…
More for Austin, Searle, etc.

Clark: "-Portrait of a Young Girl, is collage epitomized, for all that the stick-ons are illusions in oil-"

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief...

Art is use and reference.
And Searle now has his own tag

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I just discovered contemporary philosophy has as one of its topics something called "The Paradox of Fiction." I'm still not cynical enough.

Two repeats, both recent. Looking for the second, I found the first, which fits with another even more recent post. It fits so well I'm embarrassed I'd forgotten it. "...a man who says his lines on a stage while acting in a play while he is indeed repeating lines composed by someone else, is not in general quoting the lines. There is a basic difference in that in parasitic discourse the expressions are being used and not mentioned."

Monday, February 24, 2014

More on Kristof.
Josh Marshall: "I was supposed to be a history professor"
Atrios was supposed to be an economics professor.

Bertram on Ukraine and Farrell on Snowdon are sincere, admonishing, superior, self-serving.
The End of Hypocrisy. No end to irony.

Victoria Nuland: "Matt, as you have made clear again and again in this room, we are not always consistent."

notetaking. a comment (mine) at The Immanent Frame
Humanism is defined by irony; modernity as it’s come down to us now knows irony mostly in it’s blackest form. Cries of “God is dead” were the cries of people who once believed now desperate to find a replacement, the secularism of the ex-theologian not the bemused and maybe slightly drunken village atheist. More’s the pity. The secularism of scientific determinism is secular anti-humanism. Compared to the author of “In Praise of Folly” the author of “Discourse on Method” wasn’t much of a humanist, so the pleasures of architecture lost out to the moral imperatives of engineering.
The rise of political Islam is a modern phenomenon in reaction to modern pressures -an ideology to meet what was perceived as ideology- but it’s also the result of partnerships of conservative elites with Western interests. It’s impossible to separate modern Saudi from the history of oil. Perhaps the author should do a bit more research on 20th century Arab secularism.
Still Iran today is more modern than it was under the Shah. The Iranian revolution has produced a broader based middle class than existed before. The same is true for Turkey under Erdogan. And secularization follows, always. The hope is that it follows the secularization of European Judaism rather than European Christianity, for which it was such a crisis. Europe’s Muslims are the new Jews. They’re where the next generation of European humanists will come from, or are already.
"Meine beiden Klempner"
German Humanists disdained science. Naturwissenschaft. Geisteswissenschaft. Scientific socialism was Engels, the British factory owner. Marx was a journalist and gave lectures in workingmen's clubs. He exchanged letters with American presidents. knew much of Shakespeare by heart. How did this turn into the Frankfurt School?
To add to the military metaphors: Soldier of the judicial press (Bertin). The poets of strife. The litterateurs of the advance guard. This habitude of military metaphors denotes minds not military, but made for discipline, that is, for conformity, minds born domesticated, Belgian minds, which can think only in society. 
"the advance guard".

2/25 Marshall again
My old college professor Tony Grafton rightly made the point that scholars aren't narrowing their fields of inquiry for the hell of it. Narrowing of focus is often the price of discovering genuinely new information, opening doors to new knowledge. And narrowness itself is probably too ambiguous a word to be useful in this context.
It's sad that Grafton would fall for that, especially since the past is what's being forgotten, in the academy as much as outside it.

"The sociology of modern knowledge production..." etc.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Are the robots about to rise?

again, and again, and again,  No

Googling for "indecisive machines" still doesn't get much, other than me. The one link the USA Today doesn't include the phrase that appears in the link.

Build a machine with two separate and competing algorithms, for conditioned response and calculation, and a root level imperative for continued operation: survival.  Complexity itself isn't the issue.

At some point it will be possible, but it's not a good idea.
The Nuland-Pyatt leak: BBC

Stephen F. Cohen, Democracy Now
Where do you want me to begin? I mean, we are watching history being made, but history of the worst kind. That’s what I’m telling my grandchildren: Watch this. What’s happening there, let’s take the big picture, then we can go to the small picture. The big picture is, people are dying in the streets every day. The number 50 is certainly too few. They’re still finding bodies. Ukraine is splitting apart down the middle, because Ukraine is not one country, contrary to what the American media, which speaks about the Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. Historically, ethnically, religiously, culturally, politically, economically, it’s two countries. One half wants to stay close to Russia; the other wants to go West. We now have reliable reports that the anti-government forces in the streets—and there are some very nasty people among them—are seizing weapons in western Ukrainian military bases. So we have clearly the possibility of a civil war.
Patrick Smith, FPIP
Every time we overhear U.S. diplomats talking when we are not supposed to, the conduct of American foreign policy sounds less imaginative, more reckless, and astonishing in its fidelity to eras many of us thought would never come again. Who would have thought Obama’s conduct abroad would recall so closely Eisenhower’s — the years when the Dulles Brothers, Allen at the CIA and John Foster at State, made sheer havoc in the name of American security — and thus reproduce an eternal state of insecurity?
The Guardian 2004
But while the gains of the orange-bedecked "chestnut revolution" are Ukraine's, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
repeats 2008
It would have been far wiser for the US to encourage a continued "Eastern Bloc," even if it wouldn't have been immediately as democratic as reformers would wish. Eastern European countries who wanted to join NATO should have been told instead to work with one another. The expansion of NATO has always read like a victory lap, and the reaction of an isolated Russia was predictable. It's logical to think that a less threatened Russia would have become a less threatening one. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Savage Minds,  Anthropology + Design: Nicolas Nova.

my comment:
Natural language is not designed. Cultures are built but not designed. Myths don’t have authors. The stuff we refer to as ‘art’ is the product of a kind of making that tries to approximate the sense of something between natural and artificial, man made and not, that we find in fables. Artists we think of as great we see as seeming to have the imaginations of many, containing multitudes. The result is stuff we think of as engaging us without command. Art is something to think with, as we think with religious and political texts. The doctrine of “originalism” is a peculiarly American fixation compared with other democracies, but fundamentalism is part of our heritage.
Balkin: "Why are Americans Originalist?" SSRN

“Design” in the sense we use it now is not peculiarly American but it’s peculiarly modern. The art of command economies is command culture; people may enjoy living in a house by Frank Lloyd Wright but it’s considered perverse to follow his diktats for interior design. “Overdetermination” is the enemy of economics because it’s the enemy -social- life, therefore of art. Underdetermination is chaos. We’re awash now in fans of one or the other.

Art is fiction, a place we go to think seriously about things while actually doing nothing. It’s a place to think about teleology while being as close as we ever get to being without a telos. It’s engagement by choice and at leisure. Design is estheticized functionalism glossed with science, a velvet glove for an iron fist. It’s not the possibility of moving in any direction, it’s an arrow, a path, that tries to amuse us while telling us where to go. Art for neoliberalism. We’ve back with Grant McCracken. again [link added]
Short opinion pieces. The crafted description of observed events.
Fiction or non-fiction? Parasitic or no?

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

The Garden
Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens,
And she is dying piece-meal
of a sort of emotional anemia.

And round about there is a rabble
Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
They shall inherit the earth.

In her is the end of breeding.
Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.

She would like some one to speak to her,
And is almost afraid that I
will commit that indiscretion.

Searle, "Reiterating the Differences"
3. In what is more than simply a misreading of Austin, Derrida supposes that by analyzing serious speech acts before considering the parasitic cases, Austin has somehow denied the very possibility that expressions can be quoted. I find so many confusions in this argument of Derrida that I hardly know where to get started on it. To begin with, the phenomenon of citationality is not the same as the phenomenon of parasitic discourse. A man who composes a novel or a poem is not in general quoting anyone; [HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME] and a man who says his lines on a stage while acting in a play while he is indeed repeating lines composed by someone else, is not in general quoting the lines. There is a basic difference in that in parasitic discourse the expressions are being used and not mentioned. [HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME]
Sonny Rollins, tossing in a few bars of Easter Parade into Night in Tunisia at midnight on Easter morning is an act of quotation, citation, mentioning. O O O O that Shakespeherian RagBad artists borrow; good artists steal. They don't make new things; they make things new. The pleasure felt by a sophisticated audience for philosophy as for music is in knowing the source and what's been done with it.

repeats of repeats of...
Aber etwas fehlt
Sitting in a bar reading Limited Inc.. One table away a young couple were facing a crisis. It would be hard to count the layers of falseness and dissembling, of performing for and lying to each other and themselves, of false confidence, feigned indifference, contempt and self-abasement, all as reflex. It was a less sophisticated version of Derrida and Searle. Ressentiment

A work of art is both fundamentally a thing unto itself—though affected by others and events—and a communicative act. The same was true of the couple's actions, as self-directed formalism and outward-directed performance. And most of the communication was in subtext. The spoken "I love you" was secondary to the unspoken, "I can walk away". And beneath that were all the communicated subtleties, if communicated is the right word, in gestures read by the audience but most likely not by the performers.

A novel is a thing crafted out of a plot, and judged as that. It's less an essay than a house. Language, as event and communication is an aspect of life. Philosophy and theology are parasitic on that. Literature, art, is both descriptive and formal. History, describing both art and the world, is observational and secular.

Derrida wants to replace the historian of art with the philosopher of art. Searle represents those who oppose history itself.
And we're suppose to choose one or the other.
J.L. Austin, Lecture I
Whatever we may think of any particular one of these views and suggestions, and however much we may deplore the initial confusion into which philosophical doctrine and method have been plunged, it cannot be doubted that they are producing a revolution in philosophy.
Lecture II
We were to consider, you will remember, some cases and senses (only some, Heaven help us!) in which to say something is to do something; or in which by saying or in saying something we are doing something. This topic is one development -there are many others- in the recent movement towards questioning an age-old assumption in philosophy- the assumption that to say something, at least in all cases worth considering, i.e. all cases considered, is always and simply to state something. This assumption is no doubt unconscious, no doubt is wrong, but it is wholly natural in philosophy apparently. We must learn to run before we can walk. If we never made mistakes how should we correct them?
Lecture III
So then we may seem to have armed ourselves with two shiny new concepts with which to crack the crib of Reality, or as it may be, of Confusion—two new keys in our hands, and of course, simultaneously two new skids under our feet. In philosophy, forearmed should be forewarned.
Ken Johnson on ‘Re-View: Onnasch Collection
I want to protest. I think what happened with American and European art in the three or four decades after World War II was not a progressive shutting down of creative possibilities but a great opening up,...
The "opening up" was opening elsewhere.  An old girlfriend of mine taught me that the best way to read late Wittgenstein is to see him as ending where Proust began.

I hadn't read any Austin when I read Derrida and Searle.

update: or Dennett.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How can you say the cafe revolutionary represents the cafe more than the revolution? He doesn't talk about the cafe, so what relevance can it have to his ideas?
follow the link at the bottom of the page.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ai Weiwei

Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995
Some of the smartest thinkers on problems at home and around the world are university professors, but most of them just don’t matter in today’s great debates.
The huffing and puffing in response to this by academics is as annoying as the piece itself. The older generation of "public intellectuals" were not all academics and those who were were not defined by academic status. Complaints about intellectuals retreating into the ivory tower are not requests for them to come back down from the mountain. Edmund Wilson and Irving Howe were critics, not professors, and certainly not professors of political "science". Chomsky's activism is the activism of a citizen. He's very specific in separating his politics from his day job (more academic public intellectuals here).

Academic discussion of politics as such is left to political scientists and experts in "foreign policy". It's nationalist by definition. The Kennedy school educates new generations of bureaucrats.  Academic leftism, the politics of theory, I've covered enough.  At CT, Rakesh Bhandari in a comment, without mentioning that the majority of posters are from the UK, adds that no one on the site's mentioned the death of Stuart Hall.

"Public Intellectual"
I've asked this before: What's a "private" intellectual?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

idea | īˈdēə | noun
-A logic or process common enough in practice to be recognized and articulated in speech, at which time its usefulness begins to fade while becoming even more popular, out of enthusiasm for the new.
-What a description becomes when it's applied to something else.
-An unoriginal thought.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ludlow again.
Kristin Case, Prof. Ludlow's attorney, sent me the statement to which The Daily Northwestern article alludes. I post it below in its entirety, but have replaced the plaintiff's name with "P" for plaintiff.
...Ms. Case may be contacted at The Case Law Firm, LLC here in Chicago, 312-920-0400.
The perquisites of power.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

the fish rots from the head

And some philosophers think aesthetic judgments are not subjective!
The 1964 reaction to The Beatles. Just to be clear, I enjoy the Beatles and I don't think any of these folks are wrong (or right).
Both Plato and Sophocles wrote dialogues; their words and those of Nietzsche and Goethe describe and make manifest the central issues of their times and places. If they're read now by different audiences that's a matter of contemporary taste, not the words on the page. We order the world according to our preferences.

An old argument, rewritten in a recent note to an editor:

To understand the complexities of Velazquez' portraits of Philip IV, you need to stand in front of one. I like to use Velazquez because he's my favorite painter and because its so obvious that his beliefs and his art are in conflict. He was an arch defender of the divine right of kings but he can't help but paint his king as a nebbish. And his painting technique was a tour de force of open artifice. His highlights are flecks of paint that show themselves as that; they move back and forth from ephemeral -as image- to material in a way that's totally unsuited to absolutism. If his paint handing were rougher or smoother -either way- it would not have the same effect, but his brushstrokes function as fully and amazingly illusionistic while reminding you that's what they are. It's psychologically destabilizing. I like to say about Velazquez that he's the first painter to paint not the glory of kings but the need to believe in the glory of kings. His royal portraits are tragic, and also important for the study of the history of Europe.

Rembrandt,  Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, Metropolitan  Museum, NY
Charles Simic wasn't born in this country.
It took years of indifference and stupidity to make us as ignorant as we are today. Anyone who has taught college over the last forty years, as I have, can tell you how much less students coming out of high school know every year. At first it was shocking, but it no longer surprises any college instructor that the nice and eager young people enrolled in your classes have no ability to grasp most of the material being taught. Teaching American literature, as I have been doing, has become harder and harder in recent years, since the students read little literature before coming to college and often lack the most basic historical information about the period in which the novel or the poem was written, including what important ideas and issues occupied thinking people at the time.
"I'm not sure why people are surprised and even upset that some teenagers don't know who the hell bin Laden is."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

repeats from 2008

Nov 24
Rules and Beer: Law is hard convention Convention is soft law
Between corporate and industrial culture and the cult of individual self-expression there's the culture of community, communication, and language. Nothing that's been made the same way for hundreds of years has actually been made the same way for hundreds of years; that applies to beer as much as law. It’s slow change. You put 20 people in a room you’ll get an argument. You put 3 people in a room followed by 3 more as the first ones leave and 3 more following again on and on for 500 years you might get something interesting, whether it’s or bread or beer or wine or cheese or Homer or the Bible.
Budweiser is not good beer. Microbrewers, by and large, miss the point. Of course they do, they’re beer geeks.

This is the critique from cultural “depth” which some conflate with mysticism or ‘spirituality.’ It’s simpler than that: subtlety takes time.
Nov 29
Time and Consensus
Marcella Hazan in the NY Times.
When my family and I ate out in the Italy of my youth and early decades of my marriage, we would look for any plain trattoria where we could find the kind of cooking that was closest to what my mother and father were putting on the table at home. The person making the meal may have been the owner or his wife or his mother, or someone working in total anonymity. He or she was never referred to as the chef, but as il cuoco or la cuoca, the cook.

This was the old world of Mediterranean family cooking, a world where satisfying flavors had been arrived at over time and by consensus. That world hasn’t disappeared, but it has receded, making room for a parallel world, one where food is often entertainment, spectacle, news, fashion, science, a world in which surprise — whether it’s on the plate or beyond it — is vital. This is the world of chefs.
There's also the subtlety of interpretation that accrues over time to objects or texts of less intrinsic interest. Religious relics and McGuffins, madeleines or urinals (Proust and Duchamp), engage time and range of reference. The references do the work.  And the best artists, like the best chefs -the best minds- all refer back to world of "cooks".

"It is no secret that contemporary philosophy is under the spell of the Other"


From Leiter, again.  Peter Ludlow again.
Two months later, Slavin emailed the student, telling her that the university concluded the professor “engaged in unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances” toward her. The director went on to say that the student was “incapacitated due to the heavy consumption of alcohol” purchased for her by the professor.

According to the suit, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office was made aware of Slavin’s findings, saying they would work with that office on “implementing needed corrective and remedial actions,” the suit stated.

A committee established to decide what kind of disciplinary action should be taken against the professor determined he should be terminated, but “Northwestern ignored its own committee’s decision and recommendation and continues to employ [him] as a professor,” the suit claims.

The student said philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow sexually assaulted her following a downtown Chicago art show the two attended together in February 2012. According to the suit, filed Monday, Ludlow bought the student alcohol and ignored her repeated requests to return to Evanston, taking her to his apartment where she lost consciousness. The student said she regained consciousness early the next morning in Ludlow’s bed.

The student is suing the University for the payment of all past and future medical bills and education expenses, reparation for emotional distress and appropriate remedial actions, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit demands resolution through trial by jury.
"‘philosopher’ is an honorific term that we hand out to people whose thinking about foundational issues we admire and approve of. It’s like putting a gold star next to someone’s name. ...I gave myself the gold star."

"No baby... please... I understand you... you're a part of me! I have an extended mind!"

Colin McGinn was raised a Catholic. His arguments follow structures founded in Catholic doctrine: arguments concerning "truth" made from authority. His model is the model of ideal judgment. The same with the rest of them.

Subtext: As recently with Farrell, who couldn't see the meaning of an action that wasn't tied to the internal logic of its form. If I call your mother a whore, knowing that you'll take a swing at me and get thrown out of the game, the truth value of my statement is irrelevant. The statement had another form, the form of insult.

"The lawsuit demands resolution through trial by jury."
All people hate lawyers until they need one.

"Lawyers... are the rule of law." Lawyers, not judges, not philosophy professors.
...A felt need for meant entities may derive from an earlier failure to appreciate that meaning and reference are distinct. Once the theory of meaning is sharply separated from the theory of reference, it is a short step to recognizing as the business of the theory of meaning simply the synonymy of linguistic forms and the analyticity of statements; meanings themselves, as obscure intermediary entities, may well be abandoned.
No. Just no.

It's Rashomon, you idiots
repeats repeats repeats.
It didn't register that Ludlow writes under a pseudonym and is the founder of The Alphaville Herald
It just gets worse, and worse.

Futurism and Data Culture

"What is your secret? Tell me, Mr. Caution."
Men of my type will soon become extinct.

Why not?
Defendant denies that all of Plaintiffs communications with him were professional. While Defendant admits that some of Plaintiffs communications with him were professional, he affirmatively states that Plaintiff had several unprofessional communicusions with him including telling him Mai she was "real life-broke broke and second life broke," stating several tunes that she wanted to date him, and saying that she was "totally DTF" him which she explained meant "down to fuck"….

ANSWER: Defendant denies talking about his sea life and denies asking Plaintiff about hers. Defendant affirmatively states that Plaintiff told him that she wanted to date him and that when he raised a question shout their age difference she she told him that she had previously dated someone fourteen years older than her. Defendant admits that he told Plaintiff that he had dated one student at another university where he taught when he was younger but affirmatively states that he never violated any university policy in doing so. Defendant denies stating that he had slept with students at other schools….

ANSWER: Defendant denies kissing Plaintiff at the bar. Instead, Defendant states that Plaintiff leaned in and kissed him. Defendant admits that he did not initially pull away but…
It's tawdry and sad, and has no place in the discussion of philosophy if philosophy is designated by hard distinctions between serious and non-serious, or parasitic writing. If you don't make hard distinctions it's a comedy.
Aristophanes may or may not have got Socrates right in taking him to be a dangerous subversive, but Plato was certainly on Aristophanes’ side in thinking that a happy ending was possible only in a polity from which “sophists” were excluded. The difference is that Plato added to Aristophanes’ arsenal of satire, innuendo, drama, slapstick, and verbal pyrotechnics a highly developed variant of one of the sophists’ own weapons, ratiocination.
Who laughs at the the watchmen when the watchmen become voyeurs?

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The first video is funny. The second is humorless and frankly tragic. [Justine Tunney, sitting on a bed, ranting about life]

Howard Cohen []
Have I got stories for you!
I was there. In New York ad agencies during the Mad Men years of the ‘60s and glitz and glamour of the ‘70s.
I was there. At Woodstock and Fire Island when creativity was naked and so were we.
I was there. In LA, during the drug days and Hollywood haze of the ‘80s and ‘90s. And I’m still here, working with terrific people and loving this meshuggah business.
I’m Howie Cohen, the guy who wrote, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” and “Try it, you’ll like it” for Alka Seltzer – both in the Clio Hall of Fame.
The crew was celebrating the wrap of a commercial shoot in London. "There were 20 of us around the table and [director] Milos Forman ordered for everyone — chicken, steaks, lobster. I'm a nice Jewish kid from the Bronx, so I ate everything, until I couldn't fit one more thing in my body. I leaned back in my chair and said, 'I can't believe I ate the whole thing.' And my wife said, 'There's your next Alka-Seltzer commercial.'"
Justine Alexandra Roberts Tunney [original]
Software engineer & Champagne Tranarchist
Justine is…
Helping Google design and implement some Internet infrastructure.
Pivoting Occupy Wall Street for the American Fall of 2014: Retribution & Exit.
Convincing the tech industry to be more benevolent & less threatening.
Wondering if her CelebDial business will ever make money.

The Nation 

Justine Tunney works for Google. Every day that she feels like it, Tunney goes to a playgroundlike office in Chelsea in Manhattan and eats her meals from the free gourmet rooftop cafeteria. She does her job and little else. On the beach in Puerto Rico this summer, at the wedding of two fellow Occupy veterans, she was working so hard on an algorithm designed to improve cloud computing that she lost track of time and got a sunburn.

“They basically bought my soul,” she says. But Tunney doesn’t seem to mind. “Google is the one company I don’t hate. I think Google is actually doing things that are making the world a better place.”
[update: It makes sense she later ended up a fascist (use google).]
Another leader of OWS
Boutique Activist Consultancy is the social change consulting firm founded by the American creator of the Occupy Wall Street meme. B.A.C. serves a hand-picked international clientele of social revolutionaries and movements. Our small consultancy specializes in trend-setting social movement creation, theory and innovation for the people’s good.
global strategy • tactical innovation • discreet service
Prospective clients are invited to send inquiries to Micah White, PhD.
"this meshuggah business."
Irony is a form of self-awareness; it's a form of sociability. The other two in their narcissism manifest the self-blind collectivism of ants.

"What is your secret? Tell me, Mr. Caution."
"Something which never changes, day or night. The past represents its future. It advances in a straight line, yet it ends by coming full circle."

Saturday, February 08, 2014


Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life
The reciprocal relations of high and low, elite and popular, intellectual and not, or
the condescension of arrogant schoolmen and their students, of the best and the brightest.

The arts are Burkean.

Idaho. 1958

videos: Debussy plays Debussy, Golliwog's Cakewalk; Motörhead, 1916; The Original Stroll, a television dance show in Idaho in 1958.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Reading fiction as "fiction" is reading for plot. Books read for plot, fiction and non-fiction, are what you see by the checkout counter at the supermarket. The best of these books are read also as serious fiction and non-fiction is read, as form and observation of the world.

Language is formal structure and mimesis.

Any fiction worth reading seriously is not read seriously as "fiction". Any "non-fiction" worth reading seriously is read in the same way serious fiction is read. Both will be read as books. A "textbook" is not read as a book. It's read as a crutch.

The above continuing from previous posts, including Leiter's link to an interview with Philip Kitchner on philosophy of fiction and fiction as philosophy. Kitchner of course can only use the language that he knows, but change is change.

J.L. Austin on fiction: "These are aetiolations, parasitic uses, etc., various ‘non-serious’ and not full normal uses."

It really becomes clear that the relation of Modernism to philosophy was that Modernism as structure or formalism was an attempt to deal with the "parasitic" qualities of mimesis and fiction as forms of "un-truth".

"Plato, we know, looked back with nostalgia at the immobile schemata of Egyptian art."

And formal science looks back to Plato. All so obvious in retrospect.

But now I have to read Riegl, and Clark on Picasso.
Clark is right about the change, from haptic to optic, but he defends Picasso in decline, and misunderstands the work from the start. Picasso's greatest works—also Eliot and Duchamp—were brilliant descriptions of impotence and failure.

From haptic, to optic.

I was assuming something about Clark's arguments from what I'd heard. I was wrong.
Oxford Philosophy is Killing the World Part II
there’s a quite important difference between saying something is questionably of any moral value, and saying that it’s immoral. My annoyance at the ASA statement is that it seems to me to be an empty gesture that implicitly congratulates itself (and its drafters) for taking a real stance, but is in fact entirely rhetorical – a kind of hier stehe ich, but without the stehe-ing. Obviously the proposed legislation in NYS, Maryland and Pennsylvania is far from rhetorical.
He really is an idiot.
If the "entirely rhetorical" gesture drew a "far from rhetorical" response, then it wasn't "entirely rhetorical", was it?
"Don't think of an elephant!"

My mother once defined communication as "two people looking at the same object". She didn't come up with the line; she didn't announce it as if it were an important observation, and when I first heard her say it I thought of it only as a tidy description of a truism, at most something I took for granted without thinking about it. I'd learned it as my mother had by immersion and osmosis. I'm amazed, more and more, at how much that culture is lost. My parents were at the tail end of a tradition that's now being less rediscovered than rebuilt almost from scratch.

My mother's one sentence response to Rawls was to say that he wasn't interested in people; he was interested in ideas. Reading J.L. Austin I realized he's not interested in communication; he's interested in language. I've made the arguments before, but the line is a tidy description.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Two by Leiter, reposted in order.
George Lakoff: the Right-Wing Wins Because of Oxford Philosophy
This is not a joke, he really said it:
[Liberals] don't understand their own moral system or the other guy's, they don't know what's at stake, they don't know about framing, they don't know about metaphors, they don't understand the extent to which emotion is rational, they don't understand how vital emotion is, they try to hide their emotion. They do everything wrong because they're miseducated. And they're proud of that miseducation. Oxford philosophy reigns supreme, right? Oxford philosophy is killing the world.
Columbia's Philip Kitcher interviewed... 3AM, but not by Richard Marshall. He is mostly discussing his recent work on Thomas Mann.
"Experimental philosophy" is experimental psychology poached by Oxford philosophers desperate for something more solid, and Leiter used to brag that he didn't talk to people from comp lit departments.
Now he's linking to a discussion of fiction as philosophy.

Lakoff's puffery is annoying and his arguments are obvious, or should be.

The model of a critical art, in the sense both of Adorno critique and political performance (why Dukakis lost and Clinton won), is a model or weakness. Criticism is response and response qua response is passivity. The connection between wonkish liberalism and Kafka doesn't run only through Bentham but through the library, the world of books, while most life is in the street. The theory of politics is not the practice of it; the ironizing of authority is not the wielding of it. If your only touchstones are what you're responding to or rebelling against then you're defining yourself as living in someone else's shadow. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; the art of critique is minor art and the politics of critique is failure.

Revolution is not a value in itself, though it passed as one, and neither is science, though it too, etc...
"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Nazi party?"
"A German state for a German people"

Boycotts are a form of discrimination. BDS stands for Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions, the last being an expression of state power.

The Center for Constitutional Rights: The Legality of Academic Boycott: Frequently Asked Questions [PDF]
2. Does the academic boycott violate anti-discrimination laws? No.

Detractors of the academic boycott allege that singling out Israeli academic institutions amounts to anti-Semitism, that is, discrimination against Jewish people because of their religion or ethnic background. This allegation aims to deflect from the discrimination and racism that Israel practices by mislabeling those who advocate for justice for Palestinians as the offending parties. The academic boycott is politically motivated, targeting institutions. The individuals who could be affected by the boycott are those who directly represent Israeli state institutions in an official capacity. The boycott does not target institutions or individuals based on their Jewish identity or Israeli citizenship. To equate criticism of the Israeli state, or a boycott of Israeli state institutions, with anti-Semitism is as absurd as calling criticism of or sanctions against the Iranian government anti-Muslim or anti-Persian, and as illogical as classifying criticism of the Chinese occupation of Tibet as hateful against people of Chinese ethnicity. Common sense makes clear the distinction between anti-Jewish bias (based on the race, ethnicity or religious identity of Jewish people as individuals or as a group) and criticism of Israeli state institutions. The law also recognizes the distinction.
The law as mind-reader. It doesn't work. The problematics of liberals' fixation on their own original intent.

Crooked Timber
Anti-Boycott Bill Discussion Post
by Henry Farrell And Corey Robin On February 4, 2014
This post has been put up to allow commenters to engage in discussion on the academic freedom issues raised here. We ask commenters to debate the issues here, not there: the comments section for the original post is reserved for signatures to the letter.
The introduction to the linked post, also by Farrell and Robin.
Academics and commentators—including Crooked Timber bloggers—disagree over the American Studies Association’s decision to endorse an academic boycott of Israel. There should be far less disagreement over two bills recently proposed in New York’s and Maryland’s state legislatures. These bills prohibit colleges and universities from using state monies to fund faculty membership in—or travel to—academic organizations that boycott the institutions of another country. Designed to punish the ASA for taking the stance it has, these bills threaten the ability of scholars and scholarly associations to say controversial things in public debate. Because they sanction some speech on the basis of the content of that speech, they run afoul of the US First Amendment.

We write as two academics who disagree on the question of the ASA boycott. One of us is a firm supporter of the boycott who believes that, as part of the larger BDS movement, it has put the Israel-Palestine conflict back on the front burner, offering much needed strategic leverage to those who want to see the conflict justly settled. The other is highly skeptical that the ASA boycott is meaningful or effective, and views it as a tactically foolish and entirely symbolic gesture of questionable strategic and moral value.

This disagreement is real, but is not the issue that faces us today.
Henry Farrell, and Eric Rauchway on academic freedom, in 2008.
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. 
Rauchway:  Academic freedom predates free speech. Although Prussia gave constitutional protection to Lehrfreiheit in 1850 (“science and its teaching shall be free”) academic freedom generally does not enjoy legal protection outside of contractual guarantees; rather, it rests on the authority and ability of a community of competent scholars to police their own discourse and on the willingness of universities to affirm this authority and ability. ...
[Perhaps Bollinger] knows the history and sources of academic freedom, but he thinks it uncongenial to assert them in this anti-elitist day and age. 
Most of the authors at CT, European liberals, believe in the banning of political parties. They would certainly defend a blacklist of fascists. And Israel was founded on the logic of European nativism.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Israeli daily Maariv published an interview with Interior Minister Eli Yishai, in which he stated that most of the "Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man."

"I will continue the struggle until the end of my term, with no compramises [sic]," Yishai continued, stating that he would use "all the tools to expel the foreigners, until not one infiltrator remains."
Anyone defending the two state solution is defending ethnic separatism. Opponents of BDS should be forced to admit that's that they're doing.

The subtext of the debate in the US and UK is that the morality of Zionism is part of normative assumption. That's changing. Once you accept Zionism for what it is it becomes easier to see that Israeli policy not Palestinian "intransigence" has undermined any chance that the two state solution might succeed.

The one state solution was always the only model that fit the definition of a modern liberal state; the failure of liberals to recognize that fact is responsible more than anything for the last 50 years of conflict. If they had admitted that a Jewish state was both illiberal by definition and a practical necessity then liberals could have bargained from strength. Instead they defended it as liberal, encouraging the right wing to demand even more, leaving liberals to argue from weakness. And of course the opinions of the Palestinians themselves were ignored.  The Likudniks were never the main obstacle to peace. Reactionaries are predictable. Liberals should not be in love with their own brilliance.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

"I can't imagine what this is like, but I love my husband. Without your son's heart he will die."
"Then he'll have to die."

Fiction deals with philosophical questions as such. Philosophy qua philosophy deals in fictional solutions.