Sunday, November 30, 2014

posted elsewhere
renren links to Reason, so I think it's only fair.  Riley is on the editorial board of the WSJ, and the book is published by Encounter. Caveat emptor. 
If you want to make these sort of arguments seriously then you have to go to the left not the right. See Derrick Bell's arguments against the Brown decision. Right wing Burkeanism is colored more by greed than honest pessimism.

As for the post itself, the mannerisms of American suburban or middle-class "emo"-ism for lack of a better term, of pained liberalism, are hard to take.

"I spent a day and a half trying to find an effective way to communicate the pain, frustration, anger, sadness I was feeling to my friends, peers, and colleagues online, particularly those that seem to live in an alternate reality."

Americans excluding immigrants regardless of race or class live in an alternate reality. The US has been openly at war for almost all of this century, and less openly since at least 1945. Racism is real and current. The existence of the US base at Guantanamo is proof of that, ignoring what's happening there at the moment. And if I had to choose between [life as] a black American man or a Palestinian man in the West Bank or Gaza which would be safer?

Most whites are racist, at least "just-a-little-bit". Most men are at least, "just-a-little-bit" sexist. Both are a given. Years ago when I forgot -literally- that the woman I was seeing at the time was black it was a happy surprise; I'd never assumed. But liberals assume, and lie to themselves, and they're always shocked by the racism of others. In 2008 they were shocked by this. The friend who showed me the story was smiling ear to ear because he knew it meant Obama was going to win.
"We're voting for the nigger". The battle-hardened recognize progress when they see it.

It's also that having grown up as a white kid in a mostly black neighborhood the soft lectures of black people now ensconced in the world of comfortable and sincere white liberalism directed at their equally earnest white peers, also is hard to take. Academics who make claims to righteous anger often want it both ways: indulging the bourgeois pleasures of the groves of academe while writing about storming the walls of some fortress elsewhere, if only in their imagination. And more and more the academy is treated like a church, not only a place apart but openly and clearly above. And what's the politics of that?

A paragraph from a piece I found through the Savage Minds twitter feed.

"My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK" From a list of things the author did not expect.
I didn't expect to have to wrap my arms around Leo, a Chicano student who stood shivering and sobbing in front of Poughkeepsie police after getting jumped on Raymond Ave by kids he called "my own people." Didn't expect to take him to the police station and have the questioning officer ask Leo, "Why do you use the term 'Latino'? Can you tell me what country the boys who jumped you were from?" The officer told Leo that his partner was Colombian and could tell where a person was from just by looking at them. Leo told me that he felt "most Chicano, most Latino, and most like a Vassar student" that night.
What kind of life would a Chicano kid in the US most likely have had to be shocked to be jumped by "my own people."? And what bubble would he have to have lived in to say that he felt "most Chicano, most Latino, and most like a Vassar student" after being shocked again by the cop's question? Vassar is part of a very specific bubble, an east coast prep-school college.

The politics of all of this is not only conflicted but confused, by a very American unwillingness to face the conflicts in one's own life.
And so it goes.
When Christian artists did begin to single out Jews, it was not through their bodies, features, or even ritual implements, but with hats. Around the year 1100, a time of intensified biblical scholarship and growing interest in the past, as well as great artistic innovation, artists began paying new attention to Old Testament imagery, which had been relatively neglected in favor of New Testament illustration in early medieval art. Hebrew prophets wearing distinctive-looking pointed caps began appearing in the pages of richly illuminated Bibles and on the carved facades of the Romanesque churches that were then rising across western Christendom.

...In the second half of the twelfth century, a new devotional trend promoting compassionate contemplation of the mortal, suffering Christ caused artists to turn their attention to Jews’ faces. In an enamel casket dating to about 1170, the central Jew in the group to the left of the crucified Christ has a large, hooked nose, all out of proportion both to his own face and to the noses of the other figures on the casket. Though this grotesque profile resembles modern racialist anti-Semitic caricature, it does not seem—yet—to bear the same meaning. No Christian texts written up to this point attribute any particular physical characteristics to Jews, much less refer to the existence of a peculiar “Jewish nose.” Instead of signaling ethnic hatred, this Jew’s ugly visage reflects contemporary Christian concerns. In accord with the new devotions, artworks had just begun to portray Christ as humbled and dying. Some Christians struggled with the new imagery, discomfited by the sight of divine suffering. Proponents of the new devotions criticized such resistance. Failure to be properly moved by portrayals of Christ’s affliction was identified with “Jewish” hard-hearted ways of looking. In this and many other images, then, the Jew’s prominent nose serves primarily to draw attention to the angle of his head, turned ostentatiously away from the sight of Christ, and so links the Jew’s misbegotten flesh to his misdirected gaze.
A better title for a better essay, in two parts, would be How Europeans became White, followed by How the Jews Became White. The bottom photo is Sara Lipton

forward, and again.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Kajieme Powell: "Shoot me, already!"
Michael Brown, according to Darren Wilson: “You're too much of a pussy to shoot me.”
I don't think Wilson's lying about that.

Watching the anger of white and Jewish liberals who show no more than pity for teenagers in Gaza and the West Bank.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

An old post I never wrote. related to one just below, and one earlier, and back. [the video is gone, or no longer public. The story is here]

To be born and raised in a community is not to have a choice: the world is what it is. We can go on to try to change the order of that world (which in fact is changing always), but "intentional" communities do more than that; they're founded in self-description, denying not only outside interference but outside interpretation, demanding acknowledgement for a world of their own making. At the lowest level it's simple fascism. "Israeli" is more of an invention than "Palestinian",  if less so than "Aryan", but the opinions of outsiders in both cases are claimed to mean nothing.

In fact those claims are merely cover. Any serious definition of fascism puts the lie to them. Self-love and self-hatred are inseparable, the first being merely an ideologized -armored- reinforcement of the basic need for self-respect. The difference between camp and kitsch is the difference between the fat bearded man in a tutu who expects you to laugh and the fat bearded man in a tutu who points the gun at your head and dares you to say he's not a ballerina. Fascism by definition is kitsch. And we're back to Freud
In a passage from one of the Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis Freud says that as the result of a successful treatment repression is replaced by 'a condemning judgment'. He doesn't explain the difference between the two. What's the difference between "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother" and "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother." Is the first, louder and more nervous? More declarative? More cocksure? I don't know but it's a question conceptualists can't answer.
Conceptualists don't/can't understand performance. They refuse to interpret, or they oppose it. The irony, as I've said again and again, of liberals mocking Scalia's originalism reading the past is their own originalism reading into the future. That written words "mean what they mean" and that I "mean what I say and say what I mean", and that I am "what I say I am", all make make the same argument. Scalia's Catholic anti-individualism and liberal individualism both stand against interpretation, which can only be the interpretation of others, in the present and future: the judgment of outsiders and the judgment of history.

The woman above wants her government to see her as she sees herself. Why does it matter so much to her? She stumbles over the admission that she was born female. Why is she fixated on binaries? Why does she take the government bureaucracy so seriously that she needs it's approval of her self-disgust?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Art of Future Warfare Project [new link] A project of the Atlantic Council
[original url and header: "the art of the future",] 
A world in which artists — writers, illustrators, directors, videographers — and creativity enjoy a valued place in the defense establishment’s planning and preparation for the future of warfare and social conflict; in where unconventional, imaginative thinking and expression contribute meaningfully to the study and professional conduct of diplomacy, defense policy, and military operations; in which fiction about future wars hold a regular place on the reading lists of military professionals.

The Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare project is driven by the Scowcroft Center on International Security’s mandate to advance thinking and planning for the future of warfare. The project’s core mission is to cultivate a community of interest in works and ideas arising from the intersection of creativity and expectations about how emerging antagonists, disruptive technologies, and novel warfighting concepts may animate tomorrow’s conflicts. We will create a platform for this community — the Art of Future Warfare web site, activate social media around this mission and host live events. The project will curate artistic renderings of future warfare through crowd-sourced “war-art challenges,” and publish collections of these works. The project also will cultivate an audience within the traditional defense community for this creative approach to understanding the future of warfare and social conflict.
August Cole
Dave Anthony and Call of Duty
Dave Anthony, former writer and director for the megahit video game franchise Call of Duty, wants the U.S. government to explore stationing soldiers in schools.
repeats and repeats. Instrumentalism and illustration, left and right, literally. "It is painful to note that we find similar errors in two opposed schools: the bourgeois school and the socialist school. ‘Moralize! Moralize!’ cry both with missionary fervor."

Fascism is military moralism. Conceptualism is reactionary, always. It's fantasy.

"Literature as art is the discussion of values as manifest in actions. That the actions are fictional is irrelevant."

The element of fantasy is secondary. More repeats, and relevant.
"But art is not essentially content. Art is essentially form. Art is object, not subject."
So Ursula Le Guin, [] a fantasy author, of all people, is the first to say the obvious.
War 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.
Jack Webb, cardboard, and "Collegiate Gothic"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When we ask the reason for this curious separation between classical motifs invested with a nonclassical meaning, and classical themes expressed by nonclassical figures in a nonclassical setting, the obvious answer seems to lie in the difference between representational and textual tradition. The artists who used the motif of a Hercules for an image of Christ, or the motif of an Atlas for the images of the Evangelists acted under the impression of visual models which they had before their eyes, whether they directly copied a classical monument or imitated a more recent work derived from a classical prototype through a series of intermediary transformations. The artists who represented Medea as a mediaeval princess, or Jupiter as a mediaeval judge, translated into images a mere description found in literary sources.

This is very true, and the textual tradition through which the knowledge of classical themes, particularly of classical mythology, was transmitted to and persisted during the Middle Ages is of the utmost importance, not only for the mediaevalist but also for the student of Renaissance iconography. For even in the Italian Quattrocento, it was from this complex and often very corrupt tradition, rather than from genuine classical sources, that many people drew their notions of clasical mythology and related subjects.

Limiting ourselves to classical mythology, the paths of this tradition can be outlined as follows. The later Greek philosophers had already begun to interpret the pagan gods and demigods as mere personifications either of natural forces or moral qualities, and some of them had gone so far as to explain them as ordinary human beings subsequently deified. In the last century of the Roman Empire these tendencies greatly increased. While the Christian Fathers endeavored to prove that the pagan gods were either illusions or malignant demons (thereby transmitting much valuable information about them), the pagan world itself had become so estranged from its divinities that the educated public had to read up on them in encyclopaedias, in didactic poems or novels, in special treatises on mythology, and in commentaries on the classic poets. Important among these late-antique writings in which the mythological characters were interpreted in an allegorical way, or "moralized," to use the mediaeval expression, were Martianus Capella's Nuptiae Mercurii et Philologiae, Fulgentius' Mitologiae, and, above all, Servius' admirable Commentary on Virgil which is three or four times as long as the text and was perhaps more widely read.

During the Middle Ages these writings and others of their kind were thoroughly exploited and further developed. The mythographical information thus survived, and became accessible to mediaeval poets and artists. First, in the encyclopaedias, the development of which began with such early writers as Bede and Isidorus of Seville, was continued by Hrabanus Maurus (ninth century), and reached a climax in the enormous high-mediaeval works by Vincentius of Beauvais, Brunette Latini, Bartholomaeus Anglicus, and so forth. Second, in the mediaeval commentaries on classical and late-antique texts, especially on Martianus Capella's Nuptiae, which was annotated by Irish scholars such as Johannes Scotus Erigena and was authoritatively commented upon by Remigius of Auxerre (ninth century). Third, in treatises special treatises on mythology such as the so-called Mythographi I and II, which are still rather early in date and are mainly based on Fulgentius and Servius. The most important work of this kind, the so-called Mythographus III, has been tentatively identified with an Englishman, the great scholastic Alexander Neckham (died 1217); his treatise, an impressive survey of whatever information was available around 1200, deserves to be called the conclusive compendium of high-mediaeval mythography, and was even used by Petrarch when he described the images of pagan gods in his poem Africa.

Monday, November 17, 2014

"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."

She's had connections at the Vatican for decades, a mutual friend of Jimmy DeSana

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"My mental health file whirs to life in 1969 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’d recently left Opus Dei, the Catholic religious order to which I’d committed my young soul, and a major depression had followed. "

I told Scialabba at some point that his early experience with Plato and Opus Dei had done lasting harm to his imagination, that he had a weakness for authority. He responded, like a Jesuit, that since his opinions were unpopular he didn't have authority on his side.
Patient is seen as a courtesy visit because he is no longer actually eligible for consultation here, as he graduated here from the college [Harvard] in June of this year. He has plans to attend Columbia Graduate School.

He comes with very intense questions regarding Catholicism. In the last several months he has begun to question increasingly whether he can support a body of thought which stresses orthodoxy and lack of investigation. He approaches the problem with me and with himself quite intellectually, but he is indeed, in spite of intellect, feeling in much emotional turmoil over this. Support was given to him to move towards a middle ground, which, in his style, is very hard for him.

He has felt frightened of the loss of the church, and, therefore, it was clarified that he need not give up the church, or an organization to which he belongs in the church, to pursue his questioning, and that he would not be able to be content in any position he took until he opened up the questions with himself and others. He was also concerned that some of his actions have been inappropriate, and I did not feel that they were inappropriate save that they were indicative of a young man in considerable turmoil over some very important questions in life, and this was stated to the patient.
"… Search [in Shakespeare] for statesmanship, or even citizenship, or any sense of the commonwealth, material or spiritual, and you will not find the making of a decent vestryman or curate in the whole horde. As to faith, hope, courage, conviction, or any of the true heroic qualities, you find nothing but death made sensational, despair made stage-sublime, sex made romantic, and barrenness covered up by sentimentality and the mechanical lilt of blank verse."
Scialabba hates literature. He's the perfect literary critic for readers of Max Weber
Consider a discipline such as aesthetics. The fact that there are works of art is given for aesthetics. It seeks to find out under what conditions this fact exists, but it does not raise the question whether or not the realm of art is perhaps a realm of diabolical grandeur, a realm of this world, and therefore, in its core, hostile to God and, in its innermost and aristocratic spirit, hostile to the brotherhood of man. Hence, aesthetics does not ask whether there should be works of art.
"Scialabba's jeremiads are celebrated by technocratic readers only because they won't change a thing: technocracy wins regardless. There's a nastiness behind that, a hidden nihilism, their bloody valentine to the humanities that can offer nothing in return."

"Literature as art is the discussion of values as manifest in actions. That the actions are fictional is irrelevant."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Technocracy and the individual imagination: atomism and the Bomb; Weber, and Daniel Bell

It started with a glib comment elsewhere about Stella and Murakami, but it makes sense to continue

Spilled Aluminum appliqué.
Zhang Yimou, Gursky, and Kubrick

and Koons

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Henry Farrell, and his sister:

Confessional Brezhnevism and Brian Farrell
The Boston Review have just put up a piece I wrote on Ireland’s internal Cold War, which wasn’t about politics, but religion. My generation (and Kieran’s; and Maria’s) grew up in an Ireland where the Catholic Church’s control of politics and society was visibly rotting away from inside, but still strong enough to foreclose the alternatives. It was like Brezhnevism – a dying system, but one strong enough to make it difficult to imagine what life would be like if it were gone.

One vignette from the piece, describing the moment when Bishop Eamon Casey was revealed to have had a long term relationship and child resulting from same.
The day the news broke, I met one of my professors, who had a sideline as a scrupulously evenhanded television host, wandering across campus in dazed delight. “It’s over,” he said. “They’ve lost.” He was right.
Farewell to all that
The Union Jack came down in Camp Bastion today, marking the end of the UK’s combat role in Afghanistan and its misconceived campaign in Helmand Province; the campaign with no strategy, less chance of success and a gossamer-thin plan.

...Nineteen billion pounds. Twenty thousand Afghan civilians. Four hundred and fifty three UK soldiers. More Afghan National Army killed last summer than UK troops throughout the whole war. More poppy seed than ever growing in Helmand, but lots more children in school, too.

Was it worth it? Well if you’ve figured out a workable and not-obscene calculus of human pain and worthwhile profit, let the rest of us know.

I knew one of the four hundred and fifty three, but only superficially. He was deputed one autumn evening to squire me around the officers’ mess when E was already gone. He made sure I had drinks and was warm enough, saw me into the dining room, flirted chastely back and manfully ignored the younger women. It was like something out of Thackeray. Beautiful manners on the eve of battle.

...Later, driving through the gold-tinged dusk of a Wiltshire summer evening, I rounded the corner of B-road to see the flag again, flying in someone’s garden. I had to pull over.

That’s not my flag and never will be. It’s just something someone I slightly knew died for.
She cried for a British soldier, not for the Afghans.

Chicks Dig the Uniform
My husband, E, has been deployed to Afghanistan for six months.
I Love a Man in Uniform
I almost hesitate to make this recommendation, as my taste has cloven to the mainest of main streams since I became an army wife.
Reader, I married him
Sometime in Spring, two years ago, my brother Henry received a hand-written letter from a woman in Ireland he’d neither met nor heard of. It was a letter of introduction. The person being introduced was Edward, “a decent, entertaining fellow. We have known him all our lives.”

...A month or two later, I phoned to say I’d be arriving that evening from L.A. for a couple of weeks in the DC office. Henry pressed the letter into my hands as I arrived on the doorstep. He was rushing to the airport and thought I might have more time to take an interest.

The letter came via a circuitous route from a tenuous connection; Meg, Edward’s godfather’s wife who was also my mother’s friend Mary’s book club companion. It was prompted by a misunderstanding between a son who was monosyllabic about his social life and a mother who thus assumed he had none. It came from the peculiarly Anglo-Irish practice of proper letter-writing, and directly from that rare person who said ‘I must write them a letter’, and actually did.
Where is the love?
Ugh, I feel ill. I had been mellowing on Pope Benedict. It’s hard (not to mention wrong) to keep hating on someone you pray out loud for every Sunday. 
I've always associated libertarians and libertarianism—absent "civil" libertarianism—with people, mostly sons, born into and frustrated by "backwards", tradition-bound societies, born also after the failures of communism. It's the last "scientific" prescriptive theory of culture. mental model of Tyler often sit[s] on my shoulder while I blog, making polite and well reasoned libertarian criticisms of my arguments..."
If the Farrells were Muslim, Henry's sister would be in Hijab. If they were Iranian, she would be a religious liberal reformer; if they were Jewish they'd be Zionists.

I'd written that in all cases I'd be more sympathetic to her blindness than his, but I'm not sure. As it is she's chosen the life not of a married woman but a wife, and a military one at that. And given the context, not of religion or even conservative religion but global politics and power, that choice, as Jim Hoberman said in the last sentence of his review of Zero Dark Thirty, "leaves an aftertaste of gall".

Evidence of the fading of Henry's interest in libertarianism, nine months after the reference to Cowen: his discovery of Gambetta and Hertog. And I'd used the earlier quote before, but hadn't remembered others' reactions. He was behind the curve even among his peers. They've come a long way.

I forgot about this.
Al-Ghazali, as quoted by Ernest Gellner, puts Mannheim’s point more pithily – "the genuine traditionalist does not know that he is one; he who proclaims himself to be one, no longer is one."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

More fun  (see previous)

“I notice that all the blokes opining away that everyone ought to do their own housework (and that housework is qualitatively different from any other form of labour; personally I think it’s disgraceful that people are too lazy to manage their own mutual funds or write their own novels) are …well…blokes.”

You noticed wrongly since I am not a bloke .

I also said housework should be equitably shared by household members not made to be a woman’s responsibility.

in public spaces of commerce, industry, or civics it is appropriate to have people employed to do the housekeeping and cleaning. In domestic spaces people should do their own housekeeping unless they have a disability and need assistance.

i hope with your argument that domestic housekeeping is a field suitable for paid labour you also think housekeepers should be paid the same as managers of mutual funds?
"In domestic spaces people should do their own housekeeping unless they have a disability and need assistance."

… Because blah blah blah Thoreau. Apologies for getting your gender wrong but really, this is so much gasping rubbish that I can’t believe people don’t notice they’re mistaking a personal aesthetic preference (or more likely, a half remembered childhood rule) for an insight into morality
Every major mistake I've watched Daniel Davies make has been a mistake of social -intimate- empiricism. This was linked in the previous post. It ends with this. If the link ever dies I've saved a copy of the page.

Wiping piss stains off your own bathroom floor is not the same as wiping the shit off your own ass, but it's closer to it than most other jobs.

See also, Doormen. The reference on that post to "petty bourgeois" is funny, since it's clear now how little they know (the exchange between Farrell and Bhandari). I'm embarrassed by my own ignorance. Theirs continues to amaze me.

Krugman: "Pretty soon, we’ll be having serious, completely un-self-conscious discussions in major magazines about the servant problem."

If you have servants you'll have serious conversations about the servant problem.
I've linked to it twice before but somehow ignored the fact that he was linking to DeLong. have to either live in the countryside or live in the city and be really rich to say that rubber tomatoes suck. For those humans who live in the city and are not really rich, rubber tomatoes provide a welcome and tasty and affordable simulacrum of the tomato-eating experience. 

not the first time.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Walid Joumblatt quotes Susan Sontag
"(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?)"

Sunday, November 09, 2014

commenter "Wallace Stevens"
I find this OP wretched and appalling. But since so few others do, I wonder if it’s just me. Isn ‘t Waring really just saying “It’s great to be rich!”? I know the feeling. I was an expat in Hong Kong in the early nineties: the private schools, the maid-ironed uniforms, people coming and going from one exotic place to another, etc. Most of the OP sounded like back-handed, covert bragging–sprinkled with a heavy dose of cloying, corn pone “y’all’s” to show that she’s a good Ioway farmer’s daughter at heart, or whatever. And the kids! Oy! Smart as whips and learning all these languages! I’ve been trapped by elderly people like this who then want to show you all the pictures in their wallet/purse. But Waring, I take it, is a relatively young woman. Hard to figure. (I did a little research. According to her wedding announcement she is related to the robber baron, Jay Gould. Now, no one is responsible for their ancestors. But why make such a point of it? Especially when John “only a Holbo” Holbo’s ancestory gets no mention at all.)

But so much for form. What about substance? Yes, in places like Singapore, even philosophy profs can live well. But for the most part this is because it is a Republican paradise. No minimum wage, tough on crime, control of the media to ensure that the right people get elected, limited concern for due process and human rights–oh yeah, and lingering “white privilege” makes being a WHITE woman extra safe, in a kind of belt-and-suspenders way. What’s not to like? Singapore is by no means the worst place on earth. Some people on the Left, apologists for Castro for example, believe that there must be some kind of necessary trade-off between human rights and economic
development. I’m not one of them. But for those that do, Singapore should be ashining example. They have achieved far more–in terms of living standards and health for the poorest–while being much more free than Cuba. In fact I have always wondered why Singapore didn’t get more attention and praise from the the authoritarian Left. But for anyone with democratic instincts…? I don’t think so.
Davies defending Waring and quoting her own reply.
Am I supposed to lie about my life? Not discuss the interesting ways it differs from the life I ever thought I’d have? We’d all gain what now?

As far as I can tell, the party line of CT commenters is that one is allowed to exist, but never to say anything good about one’s life and career. In principle, there might be some level of wailing and repenting, sackcloth and ashes and general screaming about what a horrible person you are for being part of such a horrible system, which might excuse you, but nobody’s ever found it yet. The crazy thing is that it’s not just you living in Singapore or me being a stockbroker that they object to; even the academics on the blog seem to get the same treatment for mentioning that they’ve been promoted or got a prestigious scholarship or something.
and again responding to others
Stevens again
Dsquared @ 93: I’d like to distance myself from any of the CT commentators that begrudge Waring, or anyone else for that matter, their good fortune. I’ve enjoyed great good fortune in life myself, so it would be hypocritical for me to resent others. For example, I have enjoyed immensely Daniel’s CT posts on his travels–even though Daniel is clearly in a privileged position to do the kind of the trip he is doing. It is just that Daniel writes well about interesting things, and Waring doesn’t. So all you have is this parading, unselfconscious privilege.

My objection to this OP, in its original form at least, was two-fold: first it had the preening, “look at me” tone that I found distasteful; second it seemed to blithely ignore
the price at which the affordable help and public order in Singapore are purchased.

As Waring points out herself, tenure or no tenure, she’s not really at liberty to say what she thinks anyway. That’s a handicap for a writer. Maybe she should write about something else.
neoliberalism: a bad thing, except when you're living it.

Belle Waring is a bright, shallow, spoiled, emotionally damaged (she's referred to it enough), awful human being. Her's husband's just an ass. All repeats. I like DD, but he's also an ass. After taking a beating for his defense of bankers, he took his own blog private. Both DD and Waring are here. Holbo's silence about Singapore was a running theme with me for a while, with his attacks on Zizek
(The origin of the reference in the previous post).

Rakesh Bhandari makes a Freudian slip. responding to Bertram.
Of course it is not only the poor in the poor nations who suffer relatively; and it is not only the poor in the rich nations who do the excluding. Those opposed to immigration may not be the upper-class in the rich countries; though they may prefer anti-immigrant populist sentiment to other forms of political expression, e.g. higher inheritance taxes. 
...oops meant it is not only the rich in the rich nations who do the excluding.
"populist sentiment" refers to the -perceived and actual-  self-interest of the native born lower middle and working classes. As Dean Baker has pointed out again and again, it's government policy to have working classes compete against each other, while regulating the immigration of the educated. The rich and poor move back and forth; the professional classes are protected. There's no open market in economists and college professors, and they're happy to moralize about fellow citizens, above and below, if it doesn't go against their own self-interest.

Chart from EPI
Bertram's long history
-It is indeed remarkable how all the places inhabited by the super-rich (Kensington, Mayfair, much of Geneva, the XVI arrondissement …) are really crushingly dull. At least little of real value will be lost when we burn them down. 
-First, I’m sympathetic, I really am, to the idea that people should work and consume less and that we should attend more to real life quality. But this doesn’t seem very realistic in my own life for two reasons: first, even if my employer were sympathetic (unlikely) I feel very hard pressed now to produce the level of research output necessary for me to stay competitive with other academics (not just in the UK, but elsewhere)….  Second, it is all very well Juliet Schor telling us to transition to a low hours/lower consumption economy. I’m cool with consuming less. The problem is that I, and just about everyone else, has taken out huge mortgages and bank loans to pay (in part) for the consumption we’ve already had. Hard to reduce the hours unless (or until) the debt goes away. Third, there was distressingly little discussion of the politics of this. 
Again all long term repeats, except for recent refs to the tension between republicanism and liberalism, Aristotle and Montesquieu. Liberalism is amenable to fans of science since it can claim reasonably or not to be without priors. Republicanism is a virtue ethic and priors are explicit: burdens precede freedoms, making hypocrisy more difficult to hide, from yourself at least.

Liberal objectivity: "If her interests have the same value as his, then my interests must have the same value as yours." The opposite of virtue.
note taking/record keeping, a comment at Savage Minds, on Writing Anti-Racism
I really have a hard time with this.
The question then becomes: what does it mean to become more conscious of anti-racist writing as enmeshed in this plurality of modes of existence? I would like to think that, at the very least, such consciousness would widen the writer’s anti-racist strategic capacities and render anti-racist thought more efficient at combatting racism.
You can't write anti-racism. Your anti-racism can only be judged by those to whom your supposed "anti-racism" is directed. No man has the right to call himself a feminist. It's up to the women around him to say that he's not a sexist. Short of that it's just another record of some of someone saying "I'm a really nice guy!", and how's that sound? It's never sounded good.

What this means of course is that there's no true proof of racism, of racist intent: we can't read minds; there's only the record of performance. So for example Danny Aiello and Spike Lee argued over whether Aiello's character in Do the Right Thing was racist, while Murray Kempton in his review said that Lee's racism was against blacks, that Lee demonstrated more than a bit of self-hatred in the characters he created. It's the best review of the film I read.

All of this goes to show the politics of intent, of rationality and reason is bogus. But it makes sense that this sort of philosophizing should originate in cultures that follow the inquisitorial rather than the adversarial system of justice. Arguments for "seeing the other in myself" pull less weight in the Anglo-American legal system where "the other" is another lawyer. Postmodern philosophy hasn't been taken up by lawyers partly because our legal system is premodern so therefore already postmodern. Philosophers think of themselves as judges as central. No practicing lawyer in our system puts judges automatically in such high regard. They're taken seriously as powerful, not wise.

If you want to talk about the Western relation to Islam, you can't do it without discussion of the Western relation to Jews. From anti-semitism to philosemitism it's enough to make your head spin.

And Israeli itself... Here's a veteran of the Palmach:
We were the beautiful generation, the strong, the muscular, the anti-diaspora, as opposed to the Arab, the primitive, the reactionary, the conservative. We were the essence of good, and they, nothing, human dust. And it was almost charity to fight them.
That doesn't approximate Nazi language; it is Nazi language. And what are we to make of European defenses of Israel?

The politics of intention are the politics of patting yourself on the back; the opposite of the politics of curiosity, and irony.

"Irony is the glory of slaves." Czeslaw Milosz. Earnest liberators celebrate their own lack of it.
See also, from 2013

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The banality of evil. The inability to think.

“We were the beautiful generation, the strong, the muscular, the anti-diaspora, as opposed to the Arab, the primitive, the reactionary, the conservative. We were the essence of good, and they, nothing, human dust. And it was almost charity to fight them.

I doubt even the filmmaker recognizes the full meaning of those words. It's not similar to Nazi language; it is Nazi language. It's Eichmann.

...or Baudelaire without irony.

I have no interest in seeing the film.
If the video goes: IMDB
"Public higher education is under aggressive ideological and political—but not necessarily partisan—attack, and is fostering a fervent political defense."  Siva Vaidhyanathan

A comment, posted on a piece on education and education "reform" by Siva Vaidhyanathan, "a cultural historian and media scholar" (see previous). The formatting was stripped; this a lot easier to read. The last bit repeats paragraphs quoted just below in the post on Joshua Cohen, for the same obvious reasons. Rough, I fixed the spelling and that's all, and all repeats here. It'll do. [comments were stripped years later] 
This essay is full of the sort of confusions endemic in our age when academics style themselves "public intellectuals" while indulging the biases of the academy: they’re always coming down from the mountain.

What does it mean to defend the research model for the entirety of academia while condemning instrumentalism? (I'll pretend for now that the author is defending the humanities as such, even though it's clear he isn't.) The researchers I know dislike teaching, especially teaching undergrads, because it takes them away from research. And the research model has infected the humanities so that professors now see themselves as akin to scientists or technicians, and also therefore “producing” something, even if it's only cubic yards of pseudo-radical hot air. Economics and Anglo-American philosophy are open in their claims to the status of science, as Marxism and Freudianism once were, but like literary theory and Continental philosophy there’re all forms of high scholasticism, as self-supporting as the Roman Catholic Church, certainly no defender of free thinking and curiosity for curiosity's sake.

And as far as academic radicalism is concerned, Martha Nussbaum was right about Judith Butler's self-indulgence, while Butler is now actively defending liberal principles, in Israel and Palestine, that Nussbaum is too much of a coward to stand for. The same goes for the current popstar Zizek, who's called a Stalinist by liberals who refuse to stand by their own principles, which he and Butler are left to do, as leftists. To see an amusing take on Zizek from something more engaged in what Raymond Geuss would call “real politics” see this.

And as the recent fiasco in Montana should make clear to social "scientists", there is no feedback loop in geology. Money spent studying the average man or woman on the street would be better spent raising the average: in education, not "research". The academy's constant focus on measuring to the mean puts downward pressure on the mean: it makes us all dumber. Seekers of the impossible goal of a “value free” social science are themselves models of moral passivity.

But as I said at the top, the author of this piece isn't really attacking instrumentalism, he's attacking short term instrumentalism
Some time in the 1980s, states forgot that universities benefit the broader society, not just the students who attend. They are part of the cultural and social fabric of each state. They preserve and enhance local art, music, poetry, and drama. They make sense of our past and predict our future. State universities invented Mosaic, the most influential early Web browser, and made those “waves of grain” that feed much of the world possible and profitable. 
Call it serious rather than knee-jerk neoliberalism, the thinking man’s productivism, or Fordism for adults. And the mention of “art, music poetry, and drama” reminds me of Howie Cohen, the ad man who credits Woodstock and acid for giving him the imaginative freedom to come up with the lines "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" and "Try it, you'll like it!"

And now to "disruption" which the author calls "an ahistorical and specious concept". Google "modernism radical disruption" for the history and "disruptive dissensus" for the current vogue. See also of course the current popularity of anarchism. Disruption is ahistorical only because all tag lines and political fantasies are ahistorical: predicated on forgetting the lessons of history. Disruption itself is a modernist trope, just as permanent revolution is a capitalist fantasy, as “creative destruction”. Taylorism and Fordism are not the inventions of a professor at Harvard Business School. [they're the justification: the Harvard program started in 1908] The theme of the relation of modern man as individual to the collective that made him (and of which he’s a member whether he likes it or not) is as old as Hamlet. The ideal of sleepless curiosity is Goethe’s Faust: the definition of Modernity.

And now to the movies. Andrew Rossi:
One of the key themes of Ivory Tower is the idea of disruption, which has been at the core of almost every movie I've made in the last thirteen years. 
Well then, there you go. And Peter Thiel:
But I must confess that over the last two decades, I have changed radically on the question of how to achieve these goals. Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.
The author of this piece is defending technocratic capitalist liberalism against anarchist capitalism. I’ll offer a third option, that any professor in the humanities should recognize, though more and more they don’t. And that is the most important change in the academy over the last century, from Weber and Ford to Sputnik, a change Siva Vaidhyanathan and other academics of this age have no knowledge of because they’re the product of that change. Neoliberalism made you. You’re a product of culture without knowing how it would be even possible to be anything but “free to choose” as uncle Miltie would say.
Frederick Wiseman is not a “documentary” filmmaker. He calls his films “fictions”. He’s “generated deep respect from critics, film scholars, and other filmmakers.” because he’s a very good filmmaker, as some writers are very good writers. “Through his long career offering almost anthropological observations of American institutions…” He’s made films about the Comédie-Française and The Paris Opera Ballet. Wiseman makes movies about systems and the people within them. He was going to do a film about a Las Vegas casino, but the casino backed out. A wise choice, but not because Wiseman was going to reveal hidden corruption. He was simply going to be an honest observer, sympathetic to people going through their daily routines. Wiseman the filmmaker is not a teacher.

So here’s a small taste of what you’re not. The Learning Knights of Bell Telephone
The sociologist E. Digby Baltzell explained the Bell leaders’ concerns in an article published in Harper’s magazine in 1955: “A well-trained man knows how to answer questions, they reasoned; an educated man knows what questions are worth asking.” Bell, then one of the largest industrial concerns in the country, needed more employees capable of guiding the company rather than simply following instructions or responding to obvious crises. 
In 1952, Gillen took the problem to the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a trustee. Together with representatives of the university, Bell set up a program called the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives. More than simply training its young executives to do a particular job, the institute would give them, in a 10-month immersion program on the Penn campus, what amounted to a complete liberal arts education. There were lectures and seminars led by scholars from Penn and other colleges in the area — 550 hours of course work in total, and more reading, Baltzell reported, than the average graduate student was asked to do in a similar time frame. 
...Perhaps the most exciting component of the curriculum was the series of guest lecturers the institute brought to campus. “One hundred and sixty of America’s leading intellectuals,” according to Baltzell, spoke to the Bell students that year. They included the poets W. H. Auden and Delmore Schwartz, the Princeton literary critic R. P. Blackmur, the architectural historian Lewis Mumford, the composer Virgil Thomson. It was a thrilling intellectual carnival. 
...What’s more, the graduates were no longer content to let the machinery of business determine the course of their lives. One man told Baltzell that before the program he had been “like a straw floating with the current down the stream” and added: “The stream was the Bell Telephone Company. I don’t think I will ever be that straw again.” 
...But Bell gradually withdrew its support after yet another positive assessment found that while executives came out of the program more confident and more intellectually engaged, they were also less interested in putting the company’s bottom line ahead of their commitments to their families and communities. By 1960, the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives was finished.

The last link's a third time repeat 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

When I was a kid my family played the card game, Mille Bornes. The European design always interested me, and what I called "European" colors: softer, more sophisticated, more "civilized" but also neutered; the experience as if from a distance that I recognized years later when I heard the phrase "nostalgia for the present". I knew the same thing was happening here. I've been watching it ever since I was 5. Below are the colors of the three buttons on the top left of the windows of Apple Yosemite

Paul Schrader,
I recently watched a demonstration by the guys from Rockstar Games who did the Western video game Red Dead Redemption. They said that all new technology is essentially run by techies. And then at some point, somebody comes in from another field and makes it universal. And they were hoping that we were getting to that point with video games. We’re not there yet. It’s still in the realm of the techies.

Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy
This volume will convince readers that the swift ascent of the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons to worldwide popularity in the 1970s and 1980s is “the most exciting event in popular culture since the invention of the motion picture.
Tolkien is Tolstoy; Derrida is Proust; Deleuze tops The Rolling Stones and The Journal of Philosophy will be remembered after HBO is forgotten.

More than anything it reminds me of bin Laden's predictions of a Caliphate. Sept 11, 2001 marked the beginning of the end of political Islam.

Conceptualism is the intellectualism of preadolescence: imagination before experience, before the influence of sex, and the knowledge of death. The philosophy of D&D is post-war rationalism seen through the eyes of the readers of L. Frank Baum. It's T.S. Eliot without despair and Borges without Nihilism. It's the pathology of cute, and the optimism of the designers of World of Warcraft

Tell me about it, assholes

If the videos die: Gears of War (Mad World)
Nas, The Message. "I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death"
Leiter: Philosophy Metablog retired...

A screenshot from google cache:  "Okay. So, working in a shit department, I have to do my own grading, which is pressing. So here's this week's bad poem:..."

Because I would not stop for SPEP –
It kindly stopped for me –
But ratings have no room for schools –
That think so Frenchily.

One school wants out – though there is doubt
At choosing self-deletion.
That’s self-abuse! – Don’t be obtuse,
That’s withdrawing before completion.

He held his ground – He blogged away
He charlatans disparaged.
Your program’s shit, so please exit
The übermensch’s carriage.

The board’s upset, all broken up
But perhaps he’ll make amends
The co-pilot will dispel all doubts
And serve a healing cleanse.

Read in the context of the full range of events in the world, what is this idiot defending other than the right of a spoiled child to be left alone to his games?

A letter from Leiter, to John McCumber, linked by Jon Cogburn in the original post. Mention of Cogburn here, here and here, (and another I forgot, now reposted just above). McCumber makes an appearance here.

A argument between logical sophists who need to justify their formal rhetoric as science and theologians who need to justify description as prescription and poetry as theology.

The Leiter Events page has been taken down after Leiter threatened a lawsuit. My comment from a month ago appeared finally, tossed in along with everything and now the page is dark. But since I was subscribed to the page, I got the emails.

Leiter responds to commenter naribtrelie:
You write: “It seems worth noting explicitly that, of the seven people targeted by Leiter in recent months (we are including Tom Stern), six of them were women, two of them were junior faculty (one of them very junior), one was a post-doc, and one was a graduate student.” In fact, during the exact same time period, far more men than women have come in for criticism or derision, including Eric Schliesser, Santiago Zabala, Tom Stern, Matt Drabek, Leon Wieseltier, Dirk Johnson, Ben Cohen, Ed Kazarian, Vince Vitale, William Vallicella, and Mark Oppenheimer, among others (I leave out the ‘big names’ like Zizek and Niall Ferguson). This is easily verifiable by a review of my blogs during this time period. 
He writes again:
I have posted corrections several times now over the past three weeks, and those corrections have not been approved and the defamatory factual misstatements not corrected. As a result, I have turned this matter over to my attorney.

The power claimed of philosophy is the power of prescription. As description it’s just another form of literature, and no philosopher will accept what by their own definition would be a drop in status. Philosophers want all the clarity of engineering and the license of poetry. What they end up with is the authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic Church and the metaphysics of hippies.

"Leiter’s authoritarianism is founded in insecurity, and their defense of civility is founded in fluff."
Duncan Black: "My favorite was in 2010 when they explicitly blamed voters for not voting. It's your damn jobs to get them to the polls."

Douglas Garrison, I am Done Explaining Islam to Americans: "At what point, however, must people take ownership and responsibility for their education and opinions?"

Atrios again make the liberal argument for government as opposed to civic participation. And "liberal" in this sense of course includes G.A. Cohen, who defended his right to be stingy because it was the government's job to take from him what he refused to give. It's a liberal axiom that good government makes virtue unnecessary.

Again and again: the ethos of rule-following is an ethos of moral passivity.
repeats of repeats
Duncan Black
I'm not sure why people are surprised and even upset that some teenagers don't know who the hell bin Laden is.
...The kids are fine. It's our elite overlords that are all screwed up.
As'ad AbuKhalil:
More students could name the three Kardashian sisters than name the Vice-president of the US in my American Government class (125 students). 
David Golumbia, on twitter, links to Siva Vaidhyanathan
The guru of “disruption” is a Harvard Business School Professor named Clayton Christensen. A fundamentally theistic thinker, Christensen achieved sainthood in Silicon Valley with his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. The book assured technology entrepreneurs that they were just as important as they thought they were, destined to topple all the established institutions they could get their hands on. Christensen has lately applied his gospel to higher education, lauding online course delivery and its “scalability” as the necessary future. And many leaders who should be able to detect a fraud—including the presidents of Arizona State and MIT—have been converted to his faith. 
...It’s not because higher education is ripe for disruption (an ahistorical and specious concept).
I send them both to google: "radical disruption" Modernism, "disruptive dissensus"
Both responded, missing the point. Permanent revolution is the capitalist fantasy, and also Goethe's Faust: from the individual imagination to its opposite; back to Baudelaire, Back to Santayana.
What do you say to critics of culture who have no sense of history?
my comment on the page, reposted above.