Monday, March 31, 2014

Philosophy Commons/Flickers of Freedom
Dennett Willing to Abandon the term "Free Will"? sounds like Dennett is willing cede the concept of "fee will" to the libertarian/incompatibilist and instead focus on the question of whether or not "moral competence" is compatible with naturalism/determinism. This, I believe, is telling. Dennett's willingness to consider such a move (regardless of whether he's actually advocating it or just floating it as an idea he is open to), reveals an acknowledgement on his part that the concept of FW may be too loaded with anti-naturalist connotations that it may not be worth preserving for those naturalistically inclined philosophers and scientists. This is especially telling coming from Dennett, since no one has done more to try to naturalize the concept of FW than him!
From the first comment: "Dennett makes the same claim, more explicitly in his recent Harvey Preisler Memorial lecture". The video is below. He begins to speak. He begins to speak at 21 mins in.  The relevant discussion at 27 mins

most of my comment.
Dennett's description in the youtube video of the 'nefarious neurosurgeon' is just silly, at least as he uses it. Pointing out the primacy of self-interest, "everyone's greedy", reinforces greedy behavior, because measuring to the mean puts downward pressure on the mean. So teaching your kids to be something other than greedy raises it. It's simple reinforcement. That's the argument for economic theory only with explicit moral priors, since 'objectivity' dumbs us down. But Dennett goes for anti-behaviorism: "The environment is not an agent". And neither is an asteroid that hits a moon. Cause and effect and agency don't mix. Calculators are machines and conditioned response is a mechanical reflex. 'Anti-philosophical' scientists will always win this fight.
Of course if there's no free will even the choice to argue one way or the other is predetermined. Philosophers in the Anglo-American tradition need someone to have free will, even if it's only them arguing against it. And of course that need is determined, etc.

"What is consciousness?" again

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Of course [new link]
3:AM: The final essays in Analytic Philosophy in America advance an originalist theory of interpretation applied to U.S. constitutional rules about due process. Can you say something about your approach here?

SS: Yes, I outline a theory of legal interpretation I call “Deferentialism”, which can be taken to be a version of originalism, though I hope it is an improved version. Its main features are:
(i) The legal content of a written statute or a specific provision of a written constitution cannot be identified with either the semantic content of the relevant text or the legal or political rationale that provided the purpose of its passage, but it can be identified with what was asserted or stipulated by the relevant lawmakers or ratifiers in passing or approving it. ...
If it's not one thing it's another.

repeats. Jack Balkin
I have posted my latest essay, Why are Americans Originalist?, on SSRN. It is an attempt to explain to non-Americans why originalism has such influence in American federal constitutional argument but lacks a similar degree of influence in the interpretation of the constitutions of other democracies, or even in the interpretation of the fifty American state constitutions. The answer is that originalism is a feature of American national culture, deeply connected to narratives of American national identity.
Serendipity, I guess.
Since Soames refers to Michael McConnell and I linked to Balkin it only makes sense to add this.

and a new tag: Pedants and Children.
varieties of earnest political engagement

I wish this didn’t need to be said, but apparently it does: this is not OK. It is not OK to attack protesters. It is not OK to try to silence people whose views you don’t like. It’s immoral, and it cuts directly against the very human rights that are the foundation of feminism, the campaign against racism, and the campaign for gay rights. That this could be possibly in question among self-defined members of the left demonstrates how unhealthy the left has become.
On Feb. 11th, too, at least two people were wounded Sunday in a gunfight between Jumblatt supporters and opponents in Aley, east of Beirut, and shots were reportedly fired Sunday in an altercation between Hariri supporters and members of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s security services.
(When I got to the bottom of my incoming mail pile on Sunday, I found a charming, Christmas card from Walid–featuring a photo he had taken of the snow-covered steps of his family’s feudal home in Moukhtara. Maybe I should have a conversation with him about Jesus’s teachings on nonviolence sometime?)
Back in November, Walid notoriously threatened to unleash car-bombs against the Syrian capital, Damascus. Yesterday, just such a bomb did explode there. It killed Imad Mughniyeh, long wanted by the US government as being the accused architect of the very lethal attacks against US military and diplomatic facilities in Lebanon in 1983-84, and by Israel for his alleged role in organizing very lethal attacks against Israeli and Jewish facilities in Buenos Aires. Hizbullah’s Manar website today described him as “a great resistance leader who joined the procession of Islamic Resistance martyrs.”
No indication, yet, of whether Walid’s threat of last November was related in any way to Mughniyeh’s killing. But did the belligerent words Walid pronounced last Sunday about “We have no problem with weapons, no problem with missiles” have anything to do with yesterday’s visit by US Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman to Beirut?
Freddie deBoer is taken very seriously by a lot of people who don't read Helena Cobban.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

pedants and children

repeat from 2003. I'd forgotten the Posner quote.

From a related post from the same time.
What is 'The Law?' Is it the concept or only the concept in action? Is it a set of rules, or is it the process of arguing about those rules - in a room, in summer, without air conditioning, and with a bad hangover? 
Is it the relation between the two?
The above, in relation to Corey Robin, here, and to what he describes as "a sharp take on the left".
My comment was to repost relevant bits of this. It's not simply the number of people, academics, opposed to freedom of speech, but that they're opposed to it without understanding how their arguments originate in their idealist sense of their own authority. Trudeau by comparison was principled but pragmatic. And society survived.

Again. Shouting down Michael Oren is one thing; claiming that its justified as an example of free speech is another. Along with discussions of "triggers", the first is asking the state's permission to disrupt the state's activity, the second is asking the state or some authority to protect you from knowledge, even knowledge only of someone's beliefs. In both cases the relation of the individual to the state is of child to authority. And technocrats are always willing parents.

The ACLU defense of the Nazis in the Skokie case was not about the right to march but the right to march in a town full of Holocaust survivors.

repeats: the lousy politics of willed innocence

Trudeau was always hoping people would grow up.

the comedy continues here
Why did Quine become a logician and not a lawyer?/The Pot Kettle Problem
Mohan Matthen
The pleasure we take in beauty must have been shaped by evolution — but what adaptive advantage did it give us?"
The last sentence from my comment, with a minor repair
An[y] aesthetic is the material or formal manifestation of an ethic. To ask why one is to ask why the other.
A biologist might ask why we philosophize and not simply function, but a philosopher asking why we make art is like a theologian asking why we read fiction.

The level of assumption, the arrogance and stupidity (there's nothing else to call it at this point)  are mind-bending.

Beauty is the manifestation of desired or desirable order, and the means of coming to terms with the existence of orders beyond our control. It's the form in material or language of an idea, not as illustration but by manifestation and therefore through experience. That's why art -or anything read in terms of art- is not reducible or translatable, and why Anglo-American philosophy has such a hard time with it, since philosophy is defined as fully translatable language related to mathematics. If you can't translate Mallarmé or replicate perfectly Matthen's Oxbridge Anglo-Indian mannerisms, or Olivier's or Gielgud's performances of Hamlet then universalism becomes no more than generalization.

Technocracy in the imaginations of technocrats is founded on the association of universalism with idealism. As a functional model it's founded on the principle of mediocrity.


NYTRome Priests heard confessions Friday in the Circus Maximus in Rome where people had gathered to watch the funeral of Pope John Paul II, broadcast on a giant videoscreen.

Look at the expressions on the faces of the woman and the priest in the foreground: at the informality of their relationship; at his clothing and unshaven face; at the seating arrangement, in the open air; at the figures in the background repeating the action but on the ground, and talking even more as equals. It's so well done I have a hard time thinking it wasn't staged entirely with actors. It's the most beautiful -meaning complex- modern use of Catholic iconography I've seen in a long time, though I haven't seen anything by Almodovar recently. In Hail Mary Godard described the Annunciation as a jet plane flying over a basketball court and managed to have the film condemned by the Pope and win the best Catholic film of the year in Germany.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"I don’t read much philosophy, it upsets me when I read the nonsense written by my contemporaries, the theory of extended mind makes me want to throw up…."

Searle ends up spouting his own absurdities but they're the absurdities of an intelligent mind.

From Leiter, who posted the quote.

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

"Put your cell phone on the table." [swings hammer: "SMASH!!"] "Now put your hand on the table."

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Al Jazeera once again removes Joseph Massad article on Palestine"

Dahlan, again
From twitter. story here

Comments on twitter were mostly wry acknowledgement of the composure of the 'oppressed' woman. The only people who noted right off the possibility of kink were an Arab American women and a gay Arab European man.  I laughed at first and the woman is impressive but in the end her cold contempt is off-putting; her conservatism has a nasty edge.

Also on twitter I'm seeing some defense of muslim women in Germany, from German sexworkers. It makes sense if you ignore assumed simple definitions of the categories of liberal and conservative. Whores and nuns are conservative gender roles, but the woman on the left is holding her baby, and Femen is the liberalism of Hugh Hefner. Someone pointed out that the most important difference between Playboy and Hustler was that Flynt brought back shame to sex.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

repeat, from 2008.
The scientific work of our countrymen has probably evoked less scepticism on the part of foreign judges than their achievements in other departments of cultural activity. There is one obvious reason for this difference. When our letters, our art, our music are criticized with disdainfully faint commendation, it is because they have failed to attain the higher reaches of creative effort. Supreme accomplishment in art certainly presupposes a graduated series of lesser strivings, yet from what might be called the consumer's angle, mediocrity is worthless and incapable of giving inspiration to genius. But in science it is otherwise. Here every bit of sound work… counts.
From Civilization in the United States: An Inquiry by Thirty Americans

George Santayana responds in his review, published as Marginal Notes on Civilization
It counts in art also, when art is alive. In a thoroughly humanized society everything -clothes speech manners, government- is a work of art, being so done as to be a pleasure and a stimulus in itself. There seems to be an impression in America that art is fed on the history of art, and is what is found in museums. But museums are mausoleums, only dead art is there, and only ghosts of artists flit about them. The priggish notion that an artist is a person undertaking to produce immortal works suffices to show that art has become a foreign thing, an hors-d'oeuvre and that it is probably doomed to affectation and sterility.
Among other things the above counts as my review of the Biennial
The reference to the Biennial still applies.


I thought I'd done this too, but I guess not here.
Clement Greenberg
The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence.
I have described and analyzed (in my book The Rules of Art in particular) the long process of autonomization at the end of which, in a number of Western countries, were constituted those social microcosms that I call “fields”: the literary field, the scientific field, and the artistic field. I have shown that these universes obey laws that are proper to them (the etymological meaning of the word autonomy) and at variance with the laws of the surrounding social world, particularly at the economic level. The literary and artistic worlds are very largely emancipated, at least in the most autonomous sectors, from the rule of money and interest. I have always stressed the fact that this process is not in any sense a linear and teleological development in the Hegelian type and that progress toward autonomy could be immediately interrupted, as we’ve seen whenever dictatorial regimes, capable of divesting the artistic worlds from their past achievements, have been established. But what is currently happening to the universes of cultural production and circulation throughout the developed world is entirely novel and truly without precedent: the hard won independence of cultural production and circulation from the necessities of the economy is being threatened, in its very principle, by the intrusion of commercial logic at every stage of the production and circulation of cultural goods.
So stupid, and so fucking obvious.
"The Emptiness of Data Journalism"
"Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight and the dangers of being ideologically neutral"

references to Wieseltier are all in relation to Leiter

Jay Rosen

In 10 years no one's going to admit they ever defended journalistic 'objectivity'.
Every generation reinvents the wheel, or discovers for the first time, all on their own, what their great grandparents took for granted. All drifting from one imagined state of nature to another.

Makes me want to put a bullet through my fucking head.

Monday, March 17, 2014

New tag: Jan van Eyck.

Five posts, with this one, all referring to the same painting and four of them making the same argument: that earnest liberals including or especially those who call themselves leftists can't distinguish conservatives from fascists and fascists from barbarians, and don't know a goddamn thing about what art is, and why.

"Look at the smile. That's the face of a great bastard. You can't help but like him."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A more vivid proof, not mentioned by Butler, may be found in Ginsberg’s recent echoes of the totalitarian apologetics offered by some of the Modernists of the 1920s and 1930s. Ginsberg has placed his spiritual life in the care of a Tibetan guru (one consciously avoided by the Dalai Lama), the autocrat of a spiritual retreat and poetry workshop near Boulder, Colorado. Among the guru’s activities are punching recalcitrant visiting faculty in the face and having them stripped naked by his goon squad. Ginsberg defends the guru’s methods as an ‘experiment in monarchy’, and insists that he must not be judged by the standards of lesser mortals.
and continuing

“It is Christmas Eve, and she is about to receive the gift that has been her dream
since childhood: death by a sexual maniac"
The quote is Louise Brooks' description of Lulu's end. Brooks was honest.

Joan Didion Sentimental Journeys
We know her story, and some of us, although not all of us, which was to become one of the story’s several equivocal aspects, know her name. She was a twenty-nine-year-old unmarried white woman who worked as an investment banker in the corporate finance department at Salomon Brothers in downtown Manhattan, the energy and natural resources group. She was said by one of the principals in a Texas oil stock offering on which she had collaborated as a member of the Salomon team to have done “top-notch” work. She lived alone in an apartment on East 83rd Street, between York and East End, a sublet cooperative she was thinking about buying. She often worked late and when she got home she would change into jogging clothes and at eight-thirty or nine-thirty in the evening would go running, six or seven miles through Central Park, north on the East Drive, west on the less traveled road connecting the East and West Drives at approximately 102nd Street, and south on the West Drive. The wisdom of this was later questioned by some, by those who were accustomed to thinking of the Park as a place to avoid after dark, and defended by others, the more adroit of whom spoke of the citizen’s absolute right to public access (“That park belongs to us and this time nobody is going to take it from us,” Ronnie Eldridge, at the time a Democratic candidate for the City Council of New York, declared on the op-ed page of The New York Times), others of whom spoke of “running” as a preemptive right. “Runners have Type A controlled personalities and they don’t like their schedules interrupted,” one runner, a securities trader, told the Times to this point. “When people run is a function of their life style,” another runner said. “I am personally very angry,” a third said, “Because women should have the right to run any time.”
The demimonde by definition is anti-humanist and anti-democratic. Modern libertines are libertarians, though some grow out of it. Most rebels as they grow older, if they make it, retire as liberals. Others stuck to their guns after a fashion and return to the Church they never really left.
In all this hurly-burly, a single writer alone saw clear, Barbey d'Aurévilly, who, be it said, had no personal acquaintance with me. In an article in the Constitutionnel, bearing date July 28th, 1884, and which has been reprinted in his Le Roman Contemporain published in 1902, he wrote:--
"After such a book, it only remains for the author to choose between the muzzle of a pistol or the foot of the cross."
The choice has been made.
J.K. Huysmans
I told John Waters somewhat apologetically that I'd never seen any his films; I was more of a Kuchar fan. He laughed. "Catholic shame and Jewish guilt." What I didn't say was that Waters' inversions of high and low always ended up as a celebration of the dichotomy itself. Waters, like Warhol, like Gilbert and George, is an arch conservative. Another time I saw him leaving his own opening party and asked him why he was leaving so early; the place was filled everything you'd expect in NY for a party for John Waters. "I don't come to New York for low. If I want low I'll stay in Baltimore!" The wonder and glory of Kuchar was that for him there was no dichotomy, because there was no high. In the end, it's all low.

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency began as a slide show to music, at the Pyramid Club. Then it became mid-sized photographs, 16 x 20 inches with simple frames, and later at the request of her dealer reprinted at 30 x 40 or bigger, with thick frames in bright red.  What was ephemeral as light and time became solid, and then grand. What began as a loving record of the melancholy self-dramatizing behavior of minor narcissists, deserving of love no more or less than the rest of us, ended as the celebration of demigods, ubermenschen, dying for our sins. Even earlier the moralizing superiority of Against our Vanishing made me cringe.

The woman in the first photo, with the sign, has chosen the role of victim for herself. Her anger is the anger of Holly Golightly, and I don't know what to say to the anger of servants who want respect, as servants. To respect the role of servants is to respect the role of masters. I've said the same thing about killers.
War only can be used as entertainment in two ways by two groups of people: those who treat it as a game played by choice -a deadly game but one that can be left and rejoined- and those who know only war. The most important difference is that the former have never been the victims of a war, only the warriors. They didn't learn to kill by feeling pain.
Violence and passivity as ideologies, flown like flags, go hand in hand. If I can't respect one, I can't respect the other.

Brassai, Lesbian couple at Le Monocle, Paris (1932)
The woman on the right is Violette Morris, later a collaborator with the Gestapo, and a torturer, assassinated by the Resistance.
Extending the same logic: the self-made self.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Dawkins' atheism is as Anglican as Colin McGinn's is Catholic. His blind spots don't surprise me but I hope I wasn't the first person to make the point above.

The search for Truth is the search for originating authority, metaphysics before physics, theory before practice. Facts, events, and people are secondary, as tokens to types. Physics is seen as philosophically superior to geology because the world we can't see with our own eyes takes precedence over the world of appearance. This gives credence by analogy to an independent world of ideas. Even philosophers who argue otherwise are no more than pedants about words; for scientists, "words are not the matter."

Dawkins isn't happy being a scientist; he needs to be a philosopher and his philosophy is Anglican and Oxbridge. His fixation on genotype rather than phenotype comes from the need for Truth to be interior, hidden from the naked eye.

I've said it before: Truth is "just over that hill", "on the top of that mountain", "across the seas", "on distant planets". It's the curiosity of Plato's cave-dwellers.  The facts are some guys schlepping furniture.  Once we know the Truth it's not true anymore, it's just banality. What was once "The New World" now includes strip malls in New Jersey.

He liked the fragility of those moments suspended in time, those memories whose only function had been to leave behind nothing but memories. He wrote: "I've been around the world several times, and now only banality still interests me."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"As far as his army record goes, Feyerabend claims in his autobiography that his mind is a blank. But in fact this is one of the periods he tells us most about. Having passed his final high school exams in March 1942, he was drafted into the Arbeitsdienst (the work service introduced by the Nazis), and sent for basic training in Pirmasens, Germany. Feyerabend opted to stay in Germany to keep out of the way of the fighting, but subsequently asked to be sent to where the fighting was, having become bored with cleaning the barracks! He even considered joining the SS, for aesthetic reasons. His unit was then posted at Quelerne en Bas, near Brest, in Brittany. Still, the events of the war did not register. In November 1942, he returned home to Vienna, but left before Christmas to join the Wehrmacht's Pioneer Corps.

Their training took place in Krems, near Vienna. Feyerabend soon volunteered for officers' school, not because of an urge for leadership, but out of a wish to survive, his intention being to use officers' school as a way to avoid front-line fighting. The trainees were sent to Yugoslavia. In Vukovar, during July 1943, he learnt of his mother's suicide, but was absolutely unmoved, and obviously shocked his fellow officers by displaying no feeling. In December that same year, Feyerabend's unit was sent into battle on the northern part of the Russian front, but although they blew up buildings, they never encountered any Russian soldiers.

Despite the fact that Feyerabend reports of himself that he was foolhardy during battle, treating it as a theatrical event, he received the Iron Cross (second class) early in March 1944, for leading his men into a village under enemy fire, and occupying it. He was advanced from private soldier to lance corporal, to sergeant, and then, at the end of 1944, to lieutenant. At the end of November that year, he gave a series of lectures to the officers' school at Dessau Rosslau, near Leipzig. Their theme was the (“historicist”) one that “historical periods such as the Baroque, the Rococo, the Gothic Age are unified by a concealed essence that only a lonely outsider can understand” (p. 49). His description of these lectures, and of his notebook entries at the time, reveals the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche in their fascination with this 'lonely outsider', 'the solitary thinker' (p. 48)."

Having returned home for Christmas 1944, Feyerabend again boarded the train for the front, this time for Poland, in January 1945. There he was put in charge of a bicycle company. Although he claims to have relished the role of army officer no more than he later did that of university professor, he must have been at least a competent soldier, since in the field he came to take the place of a sequence of injured officers: first a lieutenant, then a captain, and then a major, before he was shot during another heroic act of carelessness performed in the 1945 retreat westwards from the Russian army. The bullet lodged in his spine left him temporarily paralysed from the waist down, meaning that he spent time in a wheelchair, then on crutches, and thereafter walked with the aid of a stick. The war ended as he was recovering from his injury, in a hospital in Apolda, a little town near Weimar, while fervently hoping not to recover before the war was over. Germany's surrender came as a relief, but also as a disappointment relative to past hopes and aspirations. He later said of his stint in the army that it was 'an interruption, a nuisance; I forgot about it the moment it was over' (p. 111)."

"Heydrich's facial expression as he died betrayed an 'uncanny spirituality and entirely perverted beauty"

"Since it is opportunity which makes not only the thief but also the assassin, such heroic gestures as driving in an open, unarmoured vehicle or walking about the streets unguarded are just damned stupidity, which serves the Fatherland not one whit. That a man as irreplaceable as Heydrich should expose himself to unnecessary danger, I can only condemn as stupid and idiotic"

The world is just a barrel-organ which the Lord God turns Himself.
We all have to dance to the tune which is already on the drum.

I shall make a poem out of [about] nothing at all:
It will not speak of me or others,
Of love or youth, or of anything else,
For it was composed while I was asleep
Riding on horseback.

NYRB: "The Strange Case of Paul De Man", by Denis Donoghue, in 1989, and by Peter Brooks, in 2014.  And Heidegger again. "Heidegger's 'black notebooks' reveal antisemitism at core of his philosophy. New publication shows highly influential philosopher saw 'world Judaism' as driver of dehumanising modernity."
Brecht somewhere called Benjamin a fascist.

"Second to this at least was my parents' recording of Der Jasager, the only opera that has ever made me cry, and which I've thought for years should be staged with the cast in the uniforms of the Hitler Jugend."

new tag: Mannerism and The Gothic

Friday, March 07, 2014

"With my political philosopher hat on, I can say that just states find ways to integrate their citizens across ethnic and linguistic divides…"

"Principled bigotry is still, you know, bigotry."
So Zionism is racism. etc. etc.

"He observed to friends how common it was to find a dedicated anti-fascist who conducted his erotic life as if he were invading Poland."

"The 'liberty' crowd, led by Ross Douthat of the Times, braces itself for persecution of its views"
[I]n 1867 Congress passed a law providing relief for “freedmen or destitute colored people in the District of Columbia,” to be distributed under the auspices of the Freedmen’s Bureau.21 Of particular importance in the late 1860s was the Bureau’s operation of schools for blacks, to the point that black children in the South were often better educated than their white counterparts. Opponents, including Johnson, raised the same arguments that would be marshaled against affirmative action programs a century later, but well more than the necessary two-thirds of Congress concluded that the 13th and 14th Amendments authorized race-conscious legislation to ameliorate the social condition of blacks.
"Why I can’t stand white belly dancers."

"Black children might have been better off without Brown v. Board, Bell says"

He got his Visionz from our visions.” They haven't learned a goddamn thing in ten years.
Halperin’s teaching promotes “homosexuality as a social rather than an individual condition and as a cultural practice rather than a sexual one”. He scrutinizes artefacts that he believes are indispensable to “gay acculturation” and the development of “gay male subjectivity”: Hollywood movies, Broadway musicals, opera, diva-worship, pop and disco music, camp, and allied phenomena. This is because he believes that “gay sentiment”, the feelings of the “socially disqualified”… Elsewhere he explains that sexual acts between men can be “undignified, filthy, shameful, and perverse (at least if you’re doing it right)”
A more vivid proof, not mentioned by Butler, may be found in Ginsberg’s recent echoes of the totalitarian apologetics offered by some of the Modernists of the 1920s and 1930s. Ginsberg has placed his spiritual life in the care of a Tibetan guru (one consciously avoided by the Dalai Lama), the autocrat of a spiritual retreat and poetry workshop near Boulder, Colorado. Among the guru’s activities are punching recalcitrant visiting faculty in the face and having them stripped naked by his goon squad. Ginsberg defends the guru’s methods as an ‘experiment in monarchy’, and insists that he must not be judged by the standards of lesser mortals.
The German Federal Republic, although it has not yet recognized the State of Israel -presumably out of fear that the Arab countries might recognize Ulbricht's Germany - has paid seven hundred and thirty-seven million dollars in reparation to Israel during the last ten years; these payments will soon come to an end, and Israel is now trying to negotiate a long-term loan from West Germany. Hence, the relationship between the two countries, and particularly the personal relationship between Ben-Gurion and Adenauer, has been quite good, and if, as an aftermath of the trial, some deputies in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, succeeded in imposing certain restraints on the cultural-exchange program with West Germany, this certainly was neither foreseen nor hoped for by Ben-Gurion. It is more noteworthy that he had not foreseen, or did not care to mention, that Eichmann's capture would trigger the first serious effort made by Germany to bring to trial at least those who were directly implicated in murder. 
Whatever the degree of their superiority complex, however, the Jews are certainly confident of their ability to bring the Arabs to terms - by persuasion if possible, by might if necessary. The program of the largest terrorist group, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, is to evacuate the British forces from Palestine and declare a Zionist state west of the Jordan, and "we will take care of the Arabs." 
... Developments on the ground in Palestine, however, could not be ignored. On May 3, eleven days before Britain’s departure from Palestine, the US Consul in Jerusalem reported on the collapse of Palestinian government with the warning that “unless strong Arab reinforcements arrive, we expect Jews overrun most of city upon withdrawal British force.” [1] The same officer reported in April on the steady advances of Jewish forces in “aggressive and irresponsible operations such as Deir Yassin massacre and Jaffa,” as well as what occurred in Haifa in the same period. The US Consul reported that British and others agreed in early May 1948 that “Jews will be able sweep all before them unless regular Arab armies come to rescue.
"With the exception of Jean-Marie Le Pen, all the most high-profile fascists in Europe in the past thirty years have been gay." 
so bored.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Geuss is smart at least.
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.
Leiter: "The capitalist case for studying philosophy. Here."

Huffington Post: The Unexpected Way Philosophy Majors Are Changing The World Of Business
Dr. Damon Horowitz quit his technology job and got a Ph.D. in philosophy -- and he thinks you should too.

"If you are at all disposed to question what's around you, you'll start to see that there appear to be cracks in the bubble," Horowitz said in a 2011 talk at Stanford. "So about a decade ago, I quit my technology job to get a philosophy PhD. That was one of the best decisions I've made in my life."

As Horowitz demonstrates, a degree in philosophy can be useful for professions beyond a career in academia. Degrees like his can help in the business world, where a philosophy background can pave the way for real change. After earning his PhD in philosophy from Stanford, where he studied computer science as an undergraduate, Horowitz went on to become a successful tech entrepreneur and Google's in-house philosopher/director of engineering. His own career makes a pretty good case for the value of a philosophy education.
Philosophy without philology, logic without history. The original meaning of 'entrepreneur' was 'contractor';  a barista in Italy was and is a bartender; "real change" ain't what it used to be.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

My business is to pin down the Age between quotation marks.

The ghost of Panofsky: "Whichever book you open, you will find precisely the passage you need"
Thank you, but this is now getting silly.

Marjorie Perloff on Karl Kraus
If this dialogue, written in 1915, strikes us as cleverly mimetic of street slang, think again; for the rhymed insults to the Russians, French, and British were actually taken from a German cartoon picture postcard (25 August 1914), in which two soldiers wearing spiked helmets (here designated as Willi and Karl) are attacking the enemy.

Reframed, the verses appear in what is probably the first—and perhaps the greatest—documentary drama written: Karl Kraus’s devastating Die Letzen Tage der Menschheit (The Last Days of Mankind). Kraus’s dialogue, as in the scene above, sounds colloquial and nothing if not “natural,” representing as it does a variety of linguistic registers based on social class, ethnicity, geographical origin, and profession. But a large part of the play is drawn from actual documents, whether newspaper dispatches, editorials, public proclamations, the minutes of political meetings, or manifestos, letters, picture postcards, and interviews—indeed, whatever constituted the written record of the World War I years. “The unkindest actions reported here,” writes Kraus in his preface, “really happened; the unlikeliest conversations are reported here word for word; the most glaring inventions are quotations” (LTM, p. 9). Citations from Shakespeare and Goethe are interspersed, using the technique of montage, with cabaret song, patriotic ode, tableau vivant, vaudeville, puppet play, and, in the later acts, even photomontage so as to create a strange hybrid—part tragedy, part operetta, part carnival, part political tract—in which “high” and “low” come together in a strange new blend. “A document,” as Kraus puts it, “is figural; reports come to life as characters; characters breathe their last as editorials” (LTM, p. 9). And, throughout, the comic, the hilarious, the grotesque, the surreal dominate. “Here in Austria,” as Kraus had famously quipped, “there are unpunctual trains that cannot get the hang of their scheduled delays.

In its analysis of the role the media plays in disseminating the case for war, Kraus’s work is startlingly contemporary...
A heap of broken images

It's always odd to me how many people write about things that appeal to them without asking why they should like what they like. I still think of second order curiosity as the sine qua non of intellectual life.

I've never forgotten reading Willebald Saurländer describe what he felt to be the deeply personal relation of a contemporary author to his historical subject, even if the one name I'd forgotten was the author of the book he was reviewing.  I've never forgotten not because the idea was new to me but because it was a historian describing how we will the past into the present and the present into the past. It made me smile.
From Czechoslovakia to Texas metropolis
Who sampled?  So obvious I forget. new tag: Collage Mash-up Remix

"He observed to friends how common it was to find a dedicated anti-fascist who conducted his erotic life as if he were invading Poland."

Edward Mendelson on Auden
On one side are those who, like Auden, sense the furies hidden in themselves, evils they hope never to unleash, but which, they sometimes perceive, add force to their ordinary angers and resentments, especially those angers they prefer to think are righteous. On the other side are those who can say of themselves without irony, “I am a good person,” who perceive great evils only in other, evil people whose motives and actions are entirely different from their own. This view has dangerous consequences when a party or nation, having assured itself of its inherent goodness, assumes its actions are therefore justified, even when, in the eyes of everyone else, they seem murderous and oppressive.
I reposted the above, between two short paragraphs, in a comment at the Boston Review.

"Does Reading Literature Make You More Moral? This was the question posed by philosophy professor Debra Satz to three panelists—myself, David Kidd, and Joshua Landy—at an event celebrating the 25th anniversary of Stanford’s Center for Ethics in Society earlier this month."
It's sad that almost every time I come here I come here to mock.
Does philosophy make you more moral? Why is it that people who teach Plato for a living don't feel any necessary obligation to teach him alongside Aristophanes, while teachers of Aristophanes have no choice but to teach both?...
"I am a serious person" is the claim of every philosophy professor, so we get very 'serious' discussions of whether to take 'non-philosophical' and 'non-serious' writing seriously at all.
And we're having this discussion about philosophy and literature for the same reason the US is repeating the absurdities of 50 years ago in foreign policy.
update. the ghost of Panofsky. posted above but it belongs here.

Raymond Geuss
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.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Stephen Walt in FP.
No Contest
The Obama administration was clearly taken by surprise when Russia decided to seize Crimea by force. The real question, however, is why Obama and his advisors thought the United States and the European Union could help engineer the ouster of a democratically elected and pro-Russian leader in Ukraine and expect Vladimir Putin to go along with it? This remarkable combination of hubris and naiveté is even more striking when one considers that Washington has few, if any, options to counter Putin's move. 
A bouncer is paid to suppress violence, not fuel it.  It's not a job for insecure people or people who enjoy power and want more of it.
Wednesday 06 April 1994 AP MOSCOW - Ukraine sent top military officials and more special troops to the Crimean Peninsula yesterday amid fears of an impending crackdown on separatists.

The arrival of 30 special troops from the National Guard and Interior Ministry, added to 500 others newly moved to a Sevastopol naval base, gives Ukraine 51,000 troops in Crimea, the ITAR-Tass news service said. That compares with 18,000 two years ago.

Adding to the tension, the recently elected Crimean President, Yuri Meshkov, was several hours overdue in returning from Cyprus. And the commander of the Black Sea Fleet was hospitalised after reportedly shooting himself in the leg accidentally.

The odd series of events, heading into Sunday's third round of crucial parliamentary elections in Ukraine, increased speculation that Kiev may take strong steps to halt growing separatist moves.

After Crimean residents voted overwhelmingly for closer ties with Russia in an unofficial plebiscite on 27 March, nationalist politicians warned that armed conflict is likely this spring in the southern peninsula, where Russians comprise a majority.
If Putin made a mistake, the mistake will play out faster if the US stays in the background.
But that's not going to happen. Stupid
Old writing. 1987-95. From the old version of what will be [unless something goes wrong] the book.
We generally assume that the intellectual and esthetic preoccupations of high modernism were antithetical to narrative or allegory. We think less often however of the ways in which this stance is responsible more than anything else for the failure of the many attempts of a self-consciously enlightened modernism to engage in politics and indeed in the world at large. Society is the product of dialectical processes very unlike the personal dialectics we find within one person's deliberately isolated imagination, yet this isolation remains the central image of modernist culture, indeed of all intellectual and high-cultural life up to and including our supposedly post-modern present.

My interest in the first part of this essay is to lay out and define the parameters of modernism and its relationship to the world; not the relationship desired necessarily by any of the participants, but the ones that existed. It is important to note at the outset that all aspects of culture were affected by the changes of the modern world. The template was the same, regardless of how the participants saw themselves; though some chose advocate for ‘progress’ and others for conservatism or reaction. The story of modernism is the story of how those groups or desires (often overlapping in the actors themselves) grew together and apart and together again, in ways few or any were able to foretell, least of all those who tried to.

High modernism’s preoccupations were twofold and contradictory: on the one hand in absolute identity, in self as opposed to society, and on the other in abstract principles as opposed to the individual elements, actions, or people, to which they were applied. Formalism, or structuralism (in its most general sense) describes an interest in the infrastructure of ideas and processes and was meant to oppose, or escape, any implicit and therefore metaphysical predisposition toward one or another technique or methodology. The goal was not so much to choose but to study the process of decision-making, since preference for A or B could be merely that, and not an objectively agreed-upon truth. It was this master allegory of objectivity and not objectivity itself that gave modernist political rhetoric its power. The paradigmatic form of this objectivity in intellectual life became an idea of analysis, in all of the ways in which we are now familiar with it, and its implication of scientific method.

Artists. thinkers and others at the beginning of the last century who were not comfortable with what was becoming an activist modernism were in a bind. Many were more comfortable with a known past than an unstable present and turned to what they considered the higher ground of the 19th century bourgeois. This chimera –it was not more an that- could not do well against the concrete reality of scientific and mechanical progress and the power that electric lights, and motors, and soon automobiles and airplanes could carry as popular and later universal metaphors. But if the recent past was seeming more remote it was still within living memory; how else do we describe Thomas Mann, Henry James, Eliot, Joyce or Proust, but as moderns -not modernists- remembering the time before modernism, documenting the change through the mediation (form) of often very up-to-date language.

If some succeeded, however unhappily, in living with their grief -this new anxiety-, others chose the lesser but equally Victorian sibling of 19th century high culture, the demimonde that followed in the literary footsteps of the Marquis de Sade. There tastes were for the sensual and an ideal of metaphysical immediacy. The Marquis, an anti-materialist from another generation, fought against an enlightenment that he could not take part in and a past that that he could not escape. If he desired release, if he desired an easy out from the social obligations of discourse, from the banality of conversation as chitchat, he could he no more accept the pretensions of those who argued for a Christian god than Alfred Jarry, over 130 years later, would accept the pontifications of those whom he would personify as Ubu. The willful self-destructive acknowledgement of impotence that marked de Sade would also mark his descendants, from Sacher-Masoch to Jarry, to Dada, Surrealism, and on. These esthetic radicals in turn share the fringes of modernism with conservative fantasists: Jung, Gurdjieff and painters such as Nicholas Roerich, all best defined as the defenders -or the shadows- of the 19th century metaphysical narrative tradition. With them they share an inability either to shut out, or control, the memories of the 19th century which artists such as the politically conservative but thoroughly modern Eliot or the vaguely left wing Picasso were able to do.


The issue is one of successful mediation. ...