Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cambridge Philosoph Tim Crane in the TLS 
This extraordinary book, a huge dictionary of philosophical terms from many languages, is a translation of Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles, originally published in 2004, the brainchild of the French philosopher Barbara Cassin. If the original project was paradoxical, then the present version is doubly so: not just a dictionary of untranslatable words, but a translation of that dictionary. Rather than despair at the self-undermining self-referentiality of the whole idea, the editors rejoice in it. Indeed, moving the word “untranslatable” to the beginning of the English title proudly asserts the paradox even more forcefully than the original French title does, and forms what the English-language editor Emily Apter calls “an organising principle of the entire project”. 
...Certainly, English-language philosophy (not the same as “English thought”!) is conspicuously absent. The so-called “ordinary language” philosophers are here (J. L. Austin, Stanley Cavell, Gilbert Ryle, Wittgenstein) but very little else. Brague’s long entry on “Europe” devotes only three sentences to English. But like it or not, “Anglo-analytic” philosophy dominates university departments in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australasia and many parts of Continental Europe; and like it or not, the French approach embodied in Cassin’s book is on the decline worldwide. One way to see the Dictionary, then, is as an extended lament for the decline of French as a “preeminent language of philosophy”, in an intellectual context where English has become what Apter calls “the singular language of universal knowledge”.
"...and like it or not, the French approach embodied in Cassin’s book is on the decline worldwide."

English is the language best suited to technocracy. But technocracy is in crisis.

Derrida was a fop. Badiou is a putz. [He's giving another reading at the same gallery next week: "Contemporary Art Confronting the 21st Century".]

repeats and repeats and many more.
When forced to face real engagement Judith Butler became an articulate and plain spoken defender of Palestinians’ claims to basic civil equality. She defended liberalism when liberals who’ve attacked her refused to. That’s the important fact, not the theoretical gobbledygook that came before. Could it be that gobbledygook was emotionally necessary as a way to defend humanism in an anti-humanist age? Maybe “theory” as poetry kept humanism alive: the poetry of technocracy, fighting against itself.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Dead Finks Don't Talk 
NY Daily News: Mob rat avoids prison for role in John Gotti-sanctioned cafe killing
Anthony Ruggiano Jr. was given time served for helping 'destroy the remnants of this Mafia that had been the cause' of grief to victim Frank (Geeky) Boccia's family, said Judge Jack Weinstein.

Monday, January 26, 2015

repeat from October, with additions, and a new tag for Charlie Hebdo, for reasons that will become clear.
Andrew Koppelman defends religious speech as high-value speech, but is happy to learn that an obvious corollary is based on false history.
Here’s a familiar rule of First Amendment law: free speech protection does not apply, or applies only weakly, to what are often referred to as “low-value” categories of speech. 
...In an important new paper, Genevieve Lakier shows that this story is false.
Genevieve Lakier, "The Invention of Low-Value Speech"
It is widely accepted today that the First Amendment does not apply, or applies only weakly, to what are often referred to as “low-value” categories of speech. It is also widely accepted that the existence of these categories extends back to the ratification of the First Amendment: that low-value speech is speech the punishment of which has, since 1791, never been thought to raise any constitutional concern.

This Article challenges this second assumption. It argues that early American courts and legislators did not in fact tie constitutional protection for speech to a categorical judgment of its value, nor did the punishment of low-value speech raise no constitutional concern. Instead, all speech — even low-value speech — was protected against prior restraint, and almost all speech — even high-value speech — was subject to criminal punishment when it appeared to pose a threat to the public order of society, broadly defined. It was only after the New Deal Court embraced the modern, libertarian conception of freedom of speech that courts began to treat high and low-value speech qualitatively differently. By limiting the protection extended to low-value speech, the New Deal Court attempted to reconcile the democratic values that the new conception of freedom of speech was intended to further with the other values (order, civility, public morality) that the regulation of speech had traditionally advanced. Nevertheless, in doing so, the Court found itself in the difficult position of having to judge the value of speech even though this was something that was in principle anathema to the modern jurisprudence. It was to resolve this tension that the Court asserted — on the basis of almost no evidence — that the low-value categories had always existed beyond the scope of constitutional concern.
I grew up around legal discussions of the constitution. I never once heard the phrase "low-value" speech. It's fucking absurd.

I was born in 1963:
Fuck Tushnetagain

1/15 Koppelman continues to defend religious speech as high-value speech.
The American legal tradition of giving religion special treatment is justified, I have argued, because when interpreted at a sufficiently high level of abstraction, religion serves as an indispensable legal proxy for a plurality of important goods. Micah Schwartzman argues, in response, that using religion as a legal proxy remains vulnerable to charges of unfairness toward those with secular ethical and moral convictions. I respond here to Schwartzman’s critique.
The idea that religion warrants special treatment has been criticized as violating norms of equality and fairness. In response, Andrew Koppelman has argued recently that the American legal tradition of treating religion as a “good thing” is justified on the grounds that when interpreted at a sufficiently high level of abstraction, religion serves as an indispensable legal proxy for a plurality of important goods. In this essay, I argue that using religion as a legal proxy remains vulnerable to charges of unfairness toward those with secular ethical and moral convictions. The case for adopting religion as a proxy turns on arguments against potential substitutes. Even if no category can serve as a complete substitute for religion, however, its use as a proxy can be complemented by protections for the freedom of conscience. The law need not choose between protecting religious and secular convictions. It can and should provide significant protections for both.
There's no line dividing religious from secular belief and neither Koppelman nor Schwartzman try to draw one, taking its existence on faith. Dualism is transubstantiation. The Bible is a book, just like Macbeth and The Story of O. "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

The delusions of liberalism and the "enlightened" liberal state, the model of which is France.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Joan Didion is the new face of a French fashion house. I found the pic on the left, googling "Muslim chic".

Restating my points about Charlie Hebdo, art, culture, etc. Elaine Sciolino understands  [or start here] what pedants don't.

Didion is an empiricist, an observer of others' illusions, without ever denying her own capacity for having them. I'd made comments elsewhere last week referring to her piece on the Central Park Jogger, but I hadn't made the connection clear on this page.

Islamic extremism is a remaking of the past, and after Zionism and libertarianism one of the last of the radical/reactionary enthusiasms that were the products of Modernity. Laïcité is another, and like them is fading. Secularism is expanding, not by command but at its own pace.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Salaita is a fucking idiot; the Israelis are insane. Pfeffer is supposed to be a critic of Bibi, but he's making the same arguments.

Avraham Burg, once leader of the Knesset, hasn’t retired to France yet, though he secured French citizenship after he left the political arena some years ago. At different times, Burg has encouraged other Israelis to secure foreign passports as well. Nonetheless, once in awhile Burg steps back into the political arena as a provocateur, as he did in an interview with YNet a few days ago.
"Zionism is over"
We are now at a critical juncture. In 20 years, the country will be in one of two places – either it will be a fundamentalist religious republic with Moshe Feiglin, or it will recover from the wars of the Jews over religion and state, and between the Jordan and the sea we will see the establishment of an Israel-Palestine confederation with open borders.

Palestine will be ruled by a party that has managed to eradicate the occupation by means of a non-violent civil uprising, and the two countries will share a constitution. Both will also be part of a regional union that will include Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Cyprus. Israel’s police, defense and foreign affairs ministers will come from the Arab community.

The Israel Defense Forces will be a professional army; and just like in the police or fire department, it will include people from all sectors. In a country that belongs to all its citizens, the army, too, belongs to all its citizens.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Freedom of expression" can also have a negative connotation -- a lack of rigor in what is being said.
It took a back and forth, and again, before the well known member of the activist left finally realized the implications of his words.

"I want to vomit on everyone and everything."  The words of a friend after this week in shit.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Two passages by the same author
On the other hand, my own expected happy homecoming into German society wasn't necessarily working out as planned. One of the teachers at the Gymnasium told me that Heinrich Heine wasn't really a "German" poet, but rather was a "European" poet. My absurdly well-meaning and wonderful hostfather regularly repeated that "Deutschland ist kein Einwanderungsland" (which is, as Schneider points out, a common theme among Germans of a certain generation). Whenever I told people I was of German descent, they would argue with me -- then upon discovering that I was Jewish, would say "Oh, so you're not German, you're Jewish" (strangely, I never heard anyone say to someone, upon discovering that they were Christian, "Oh, so you're not German, you're Christian"). Among my German friends, there was a pervasive sense of the strangeness of other cultures, which alternately manifested itself as either irrational disdain or irrational admiration. There was certainly a very vivid sense, among even the best intentioned of my German friends of non-Turkish descent, that (like me) the Germans of Turkish descent were not German (there was also a kind of befuddlement about what it meant to live in a genuinely multicultural society. I remember my hostfather saying that Germans and Jews will not be reconciled until he could shake his fist at a bad Jewish driver who had cut him off in traffic, and yell "You dirty Jew!"). 
I still identify as an American of German descent, and I have a number of strong emotional ties to my father's homeland (and indeed, returned for a year of college). There are a great many things I admire about current German society, from their remarkable acceptance of the sins of their forebearers to their social welfare system. But in the end, I probably couldn't live there. The fact that most Germans would view a blond person from Pennsylvania whose great-grandparents were German as more German than me would be a perpetual annoyance. The fact that most Germans still can't really think of the German Jewish population of the past as genuinely German makes me pessimistic about their ability to eventually accept Germans of Turkish descent as genuinely German.
I have returned to my father’s homeland many times, sometimes for years. I have absorbed its language, literature, and philosophy, and experienced the love of Germany that my father’s family never lost. I am able to do so even knowing that I have close friends whose grandparents not only participated in the murder of my people, but feel no remorse whatsoever about it. I love Germany, despite having been told by older Germans that what the Jews did to Germany after World War II is far worse than what Germany ever did to Jews. I have broken bread with former Nazis, and have close friends who were raised steeped in anti-Semitism, and have shaken off those shackles.'
I've commented before on Stanley's focus or fixation on religion being a defining factor for Jews rather than ethnicity. It's more evident in the second piece if not from the quote above. He hopes for a future in Israel where Judaism will be part of the state no more than "Anglicanism in England or Catholicism in Spain". But Israel was founded by secularists, many of whom weren't happy when Ben-Gurion granted civil powers to religious authorities.

I'm posting the passages above because they show a sad, confused, perverse relation to the past.

Jason and Marcus Stanley on this page

In the introduction of How Propaganda Works  Stanley refers to Victor Klemperer as "a German citizen of the Jewish faith". Klemperer converted to Protestantism in 1912.

See also Amos Schocken and Sara Lipton. I remember reading a quote from Deborah Lipstadt saying that victims of the Holocaust looked just like their neighbors.  True for some.
Lipstadt, on Trump
A puzzle for philosophy professors:  Consider the statement "Some of my best friends are Jews".

When did "orthogonal" take on the meaning "irrelevant"?

Common understandings of words, though the definitions are not in the dictionary.
Irony - Signaling admission and acceptance of conflicted emotional attachments or dual loyalties. 
Subtext -The meaning of a statement that has no direct relation to its grammatical structure.
To be fair, the dictionary definition of irony did include dramatic irony...
a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character's words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.... 
but with no mention of its origins in the behavior of actual people.

Monday, January 12, 2015

An American terrorism commentator has apologised for describing Birmingham as a "Muslim-only city" where non-Muslims "don't go" during a Fox News interview.
Steven Emerson told the channel that in London "Muslim religious police" beat "anyone who doesn't dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire".
He later issued an apology for his "terrible error".
His comments have come in for ridicule, with the hashtag #FoxNewsFacts trending on Twitter.
The video below is hilarious. It was hard to make it through 20 seconds without having to pause it and step away laughing. [Originally on facebook but the embed link keeps getting reset. I found it again on his youtube channel. He's a local comic]

War in Context
Charlie Hebdo: Why not mock Al Qaeda and ISIS?
I understand that the magazine refuses to cower in the face of the most extreme form of intimidation, but satire is a precision weapon. It won’t have the right effect if it’s aimed at the wrong target.

If anything Paul Woodward's argument at War in Context isn't strong enough. The original publication of the Muhammad cartoons was the petulant anti-politics of spoiled children.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Some of my best friends are Jews"

Atrios in 2005. Start here.
Connerly's France
Just to add on a bit to what Juan Cole wrote to reiterate a couple of things. France's approach to multiculturalism and race is essentially that of Ward Connerly you simply make it officially not exist. A couple years back Connerly pushed for a ballot measure in California which would've made it illegal for the state government, in most cases, to make any racial classifications by race. While I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the notion that such classification systems are problematic for various reasons, the alternative is simply having no information at all about race.
The defenders of Charlie qua Charlie by and large are proud moderns. They defend free speech, and satire, and "Liberty and Laughter" as the headline for Simon Schama's piece in the FT puts it, without noting the obvious, that Europeans don't have what we would call freedom of speech. The US is an exception, as Eric Posner, (see above), Leiter and others like to remind us. But even then we're stuck responding to absurd arguments. I've gone over this enough.
And I've repeated this paragraph too, but it's appropriate.
It says something about the decline of this country that a specialist in Middle East Studies writing about Kuwait gives a better defense of free speech than a professor of American constitutional law does writing about The U.S. 
Under hate speech laws only the powerful judge who has freedom and who doesn't.

"Under French law, the magazine could run cartoons mocking Islam, but it could not run cartoons mocking the Holocaust."
Charlie Hebdo: A Testimony From Paris
Charlie Hebdo were immensely popular among the French: not as stars of the media, nor as towering intellectuals, but as good pals living next door, the kind of friends you were always happy to come across at the café downstairs for a good laugh, for an unbridled exchange of jokes on the latest events in French and world politics: the bigger the better, good or bad taste did not matter.
"François Nicoullaud's diplomatic career (1964 to 2005) brought him to New York, Chile, Berlin, Bombay, and finally to Budapest and Tehran as French ambassador."

I never would have guessed.

France is officially color-blind: since the revolution under the principle of jus soli, the right of soil; there's no recognition of a French ethnicity. Germany began to weaken jus sanguinis, the right of blood, only in 2000.  Racism in France is ubiquitous but it's shaded by power: the arrogance of proud rationalists in the face of superstition and "backwardness". I grew up in a black neighborhood and knew the constant small humiliations my friends felt. But add to those the friendly smiles that say, here it's not about race, while doubling down on the moral superiority that everywhere comes too easily with education. I asked a friend, a daughter of immigrants to France, and she said Charlie Hebdo attacked everyone, but promoted racism and anti-semitism "under the cover of humor".

The same twisted logic applies to European defenses of free speech. To defend free speech for everyone, including fascists, allows you to counsel prudence: the right to speak allows the option not to. But those who've argued for tact -against publishing the Muhammad cartoons- are accused now of illiberalism and appeasement by people who take their own liberalism for granted, and who stand for its opposite: the rationalized perquisites of power. The logic of Jyllands-Posten and Charlie Hebdo is not only that the powerful are powerful and the weak are weak, but that the powerful should feel free to add insult to injury. That they never understood this is a mark of their "inability",  as Arendt said of Eichmann, "ever to look at anything from the other fellow's point of view.”

I've gone over this dozens of times: the illiberalism of technocrats. The liberalism of process is not the liberalism of reason. Tossing out evidence from a warrantless search, as "fruit of the poisonous tree", is based on a presumption of human self-interest inseparable from a pessimist's understanding of human behavior. That's the understanding seen in the history of legal doctrine. In the context of liberal philosophy, focused on high moral principle, and in modern economics, self-interest has been transformed from a given into a good: from is to ought. And it's technocratic liberals, philosophical idealists and optimists, proud children of the Enlightenment (and optimists always see themselves in a good light) who are defending not only the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish, but what it publishes. Technocratic liberals are unable to separate one from the other, to separate justice from intent. Proof of this is in the existence of speech regulations that they will not acknowledge as they march.
SE: Arguments for the nobility of greed are a recent development.
Bertram: If, by “recent” you mean 1705, you may be right.
There's a reason Liberalism won out over Republicanism.
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.
That last is one version of the collapsing of individuals into tokens, of equality into identity, human beings into drones.  The more common example is much simpler.

If I say "Eh, I'm a Jew." it means one thing, or a range of things, one of which could be humor and irony. If someone else says "Eh, you're a Jew" the range of meanings change. The logic of Charlie Hebdo is the logic of the white man who thinks he can call a black man a nigger because "blacks call each other nigger all the time". That France is the home of Enlightenment universalism is the reason they could get away with it as long as they have.

On top of all this there's the absurdity and narcissism of marchers defending western freedoms in a country now trying to be that largest arms dealer to Saudi Arabia. Banning the Burka in France while helping to ensure it's imposition elsewhere is par for the course in the history of European empire.

On Storify:These 'staunch defenders' of the free press are attending today's solidarity rally in Paris
The last:

Friday, January 09, 2015

Je Suis Ahmed. Je Suis Fernandel

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Laila Lalami in The Nation
Under French law, the magazine could run cartoons mocking Islam, but it could not run cartoons mocking the Holocaust.
Adam Shatz in the LRB

AFP's Moscow editor Karim Talbi on memories of being an intern at Charlie Hebdo as a 20 year old.
I knew for sure I wanted to be a journalist one morning in the autumn of 1996, after punching in the door code to a nondescript building near the Place d’Italie at the southern edge of Paris.
[The red and blue flame in the image of Christiane Taubira is the symbol of the NF. It's meant as irony but irony isn't enough.  I called Charlie Hebdo "a racist hate sheet" below; it's more complex than that. Taubira spoke at the funeral for another of the murdered cartoonists, Bernard Verlhac]
When I wrote the post just below this one I'd forgotten that France has hate speech laws on the books, so claims of standing for freedom of speech are doubly absurd, and I hadn't seen many of the cartoons that the French protestors chanting "Je Sui Charlie" are familiar with. I wonder how many Simon Schama and Marks Ames have seen. Schama, like Tony Barber also in the FT, "Liberty and laughter will live on", and Ames on Twitter, "Swift was a racist. He *actually* wanted Irish poor to eat their own children."

One of Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists was fired and taken to court for charges "inciting racial hated" for a comment on the news that Sarkozy fils was marrying a Jewish heiress and converting: "He'll go a long way in life, that little lad." The case is as obscene as the joke, but no one was fired for the image on the left, of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira.
Most of those defending Charlie Hebdo would not defend the right to speak of those they thought of as reactionaries, and that's a problem, for the marchers and for hate speech laws, because Charlie Hebdo is a racist hate sheet, and under hate speech laws on the powerful define hate.

The liberal defense of Charlie Hebdo is not that it stands for freedom and liberty, but that it doesn't, and that liberalism defends the rights of bigots. Few of the marchers, and fewer of those mocking Barber and "the left" for betraying liberalism, seem to understand that, and that in defending not only the right to publish but the cartoons themselves, the self-righteous and self-described liberals are anything but. Their behavior is predicated on a liberalism of assumption, of rationalism and on faith: of reason, optimism and "self-reporting", rather than the liberalism of pessimism and law. That the marchers would defend hate speech regulations while marching for Charlie Hebdo is proof of their confusion.
L: "Hands off our [welfare] checks!"  R: "The French are as dumb as the niggers"

The image with the Pope is from 1980, of John Paul II in France after a trip to Africa. The words can be read as a thought bubble. I haven't heard or read a defense of the cartoon on the left above that didn't ring hollow.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Tony Barber is right. FT
This is not in the slightest to condone the murderers, who must be caught and punished, or to suggest that freedom of expression should not extend to satirical portrayals of religion. It is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo, and Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.

...Ms Le Pen has taken care to distance her party from the anti-Semitism that stained it and limited its appeal under her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. But she has left anti-Islamism in place and even reinforced it.

In 2010 Ms Le Pen compared Muslims praying in the streets to the 1940-44 Nazi occupation of France. Less than 18 months later she collected 17.9 per cent of the vote in France’s presidential election. She has a good chance of increasing her share of the vote enough to win the first round — though not the second, decisive round — of the 2017 election.
Anti-Islamism and a hard line on immigration will shore up Ms Le Pen’s core vote, but they will not unlock the doors of the Elysée Palace. Surveys show that a majority of French people rejects racism and dislikes extremism.

The English author Andrew Hussey, who lives in Paris, published a book last year called The French Intifada, in which he described France as “the world capital of liberty, equality and fraternity . . . under attack from the angry and dispossessed heirs to the French colonial project”.

The murders in Paris throw down a challenge to French politicians and citizens to stand up for the republic’s core values and defeat political violence without succumbing to the siren songs of the far right.
The underlined phrase was pulled.

There is always a contradiction in state liberalism between a domestic politics of liberty and foreign policies concerned with power; globalization makes the contradiction impossible to ignore. With immigration and high speed communication the gap between far and near, foreign and native is collapsing. In a globalized economy the combination of a domestic politics of rights and a foreign policy of realism is becoming politically untenable, because it is become emotionally untenable.
France, Lebanon sign Saudi-funded arms deal worth $3 bln
France tries to supplant US as Saudi Arabia's arms supplier
The protestors now chanting "Je Suis Charlie" don't see French support for Saudi Arabia and other regimes as their responsibility, but France is a republic, so technically it is. And they're protesting because they want the freedom they expect, but not the burden of decisions that affect the freedoms of others. The self-righteousness is more narcissism than principle.
In a globalized economy the combination of a domestic politics of rights and a foreign policy of realism is becoming politically untenable, because it is become emotionally untenable.
That's a major shift.

Monday, January 05, 2015

another repeat.
From 2013
NEW YORK (AP) — After Officer Pedro Serrano decided to testify in federal court about what he sees as wrongdoing within the New York Police Department, a rat sticker appeared on his locker.
That was the least of his problems.
Serrano claims he’s been harassed, micromanaged and eventually transferred to a different precinct and put on the overnight shift.
“It hasn’t been a picnic,” he said in an interview this week. “They have their methods of dealing with someone like me.”

..."Nothing's changed," the 76-year-old Serpico said in a recent phone interview when asked about the current crop of whistle-blowers. "It's the same old crap — kill the messenger."
Just for fun
But something odd happens when you quit policing. In the following hears you assume nothing has changed.
I really agree with you about Serpico living in the police world of the past.
Nothing's changed. "Cops hate Serpico, because he was a rat"

repeats, expanded, joined.

Exhibitions at the Morgan
Degas, Miss La La, and the Cirque Fernando
Marcel Proust and Swann's Way: 100th Anniversary
and the Metropolitan:
Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity

They made me think that the 19th century marked the final change from an art first of making to an art of the record of observing, the biggest difference between the artists we now call, "old masters" and those we call "Modern".  Modernity, in this sense, is the end of a brief moment. The crisis of "Modern-ism" the hypertrophy of the material, is less a new beginning than the death throws of an ideal, an ideal and thus unstable hybrid.

Literature is observational; it compliments photography. Both fit well alongside the classical material arts of Asia and European antiquity where art objects are the product of cultures based more profoundly in language than in things. The Renaissance and the high material arts of Europe over a 300 odd year period are anomalous.

From 2009

Raphael, Study of Soldiers in The Conversion of Saul, ca. 1515–16
At the Met
An amazing drawing, though it's amazing also how the low resolution almost makes that hard to see. An object lesson, quite literally, in the principles and poetics of the High Renaissance: simultaneously static and full of motion, a perfect but lightly held balance of action and reflection, observation, representation, and free craft. Rigor seemingly without tension, or tension seemingly without its affect. Imagine a performer on a tightrope or balancing on a sphere, and walking with the casual gait of someone on flat solid ground. 
The figures fly off the page, yet they're anchored as solidly in place as they would be seated and face forward in a Byzantine mosaic. And they demonstrate this incongruity, this absolute, categorical, conflict while responding to our anxious questions with courtesy and concern: as if to ask us what is wrong. A Stendhal moment occurs when a work pulls you so strongly at once in both of its directions that your mind is overwhelmed. I went back to this drawing three times over the course of an afternoon and felt dizziness and chills each time.
But what to say about this?  The anomaly is here. The hybrid naturalism and formal order.
These paintings haunted my childhood before anything in Florence.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

updated a bit. a repeat from September. I have my reasons.

Two versions: iconic/hieratic, and narrative/demotic, with very different implications even if I'm using them to tell the same story. In the first, Christ remains above, fitting the logic of the earliest image. In the second, the notion of Christ above becomes narrativized/historicized, fitting the logic of the most recent. The second becomes also a predella to the first, the predella itself a form that faded away, or grew to supplant static iconography. The whole thing's very tricky; all that's left is to do it as an animation.

Christ Pantocrator, the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (photo: Andrew Shiva)
Christ Blessing, Surrounded by a Donor Family, by an unknown German painter, 1560s-1580s. Metropolitan Museum, NY. Claude Lorraine, Landscape with Christ appearing to St. Mary Magdalene (Noli me Tangere) 1681, Städel Museum, Frankfurt.

Three images of Christ: Byzantine, 16th century Lutheran, 17th century Catholic; three images of the changing relations of Christ to God and Christ and God to man, and man to language, order and the world. Only the third could be said to represent a humanist sensibility. A basic lecture in art history and the history of culture. I could have gone on to Friedrich and then Turner, or after that to Rothko, by which point it all devolves to kitsch.

Philosophers discussing "difference" are like priests discussing democracy. They always want to drive the car, or they pretend that from their self-described superiority, they are already.
Christian Kerslake, Deleuze and the Meanings of Immanence [PDF]
In the chapter on ‘Immanence and the Historical Components of Expression’ in his 1968 book on Spinoza, Deleuze fashions a history of the philosophy of immanence, from the Neoplatonists through to Duns Scotus, that culminates in Spinoza. He presents the philosophical concept of immanence as a kind of ‘destination’ inherent in Christian theology. A secret tendency, says Deleuze, courses through the ruminations of theologians, a tendency that runs in the opposite direction to the negative theology of Meister Eckhart, which stresses the radical, unknowable transcendence of God, both in his nature and in his reasons for existence. It appears to originate in the Christian-inflected Neo-Platonism of third -and fourth- century Alexandria (Proclus and Dionysius the Areopagite). The Neo-Platonists did not see Platonism as a dualistic, ‘two worlds’ doctrine, but rather followed the lead of the Timaeus, where the pure forms or ‘Ideas’ are manifested or expressed hierarchically in material reality, with each being ‘participating’ more or less in the idea. Deleuze acknowledges the roots of the philosophical concept of immanence in neo-Platonism: “Everything may, it seems, be traced back to the Platonic problem of participation”. The “difficulties” that emerged were always the same: “The principle of participation was always sought by Plato on the side of what participates..., [but] if participation consists in being a part, it is difficult to see how what is participated in suffers no division or separation” (EPS 169; trans. modified). The primary task of the Neoplatonists was to “invert the problem”: “a principle that would make participation possible was sought, but one that would make it possible from the side of the participated itself. Neoplatonists no longer start from the characteristics of what participates (as multiple, sensible, and so on), asking by what violence participation becomes possible. They try rather to discover the internal principle and movement that grounds participation in the participated as such, from the side of the participated as such. Plotinus reproaches Plato for having seen participation from its lesser side” (EPS 170). According to Deleuze, Plotinus is already a kind of foreshadowing of the post-Kantian attempt to ground philosophy; he “subordinates ... imitation to a genesis or production” (ibid). His way of doing this, however, is through a theory of emanation. “True activity comes from what is participated in; what participates is only an effect, receiving what is given by its cause” (ibid). The problem is that the theory of emanation, once again as soon as it undergoes philosophical development, brings back the original problem of participation: how to conceive the principle of the self-differentiation of the One, the expression of the One in the material world.
Leiter quoting Raz in 2005
[C]ontemporary life, including philosophical life, is marked by its short span of attention. Within months of a new book by a respected author being published conferences about it are held, and special issues of journals dedicated to it are published, only to be superseded the following year by the new stars of that year. We think that we live in a dynamic and innovative age, whereas we live in a culture devoted to the ephemeral. In this intellectual climate much of our work is to try to stop people from forgetting today what everyone knew yesterday, and to reduce the intoxication with the latest word. A necessary task, but not one conducive to the longevity of the work. Perhaps in our hyperactive world the mode of progress in philosophy has changed. Perhaps it now lies less with the singular achievements of exceptional thinkers like the classics of modern philosophy: Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and others, and more in the cumulative products of hundreds of worker ants. This would suggest that the history of philosophy may assume the relation to philosophy that the history of physics has to physics. It would even make the ephemerality and forgetfulness of the age less regrettable. I doubt, however, that that can be the whole story. It is probably yet another manifestation of the lack of clear horizons in contemporary philosophical thought.
Leiter, and Raz, now. [Leiter's link is dead; the interview is here.]
3:AM: Have you changed your mind about anything fundamental to your philosophical position during your time as a philosopher or has it been more a process of deepening and further discovery within a rather settled framework of thought? 
JR: For various reasons this is for me a difficult question. One is that I am not terribly interested in the question, and perhaps partly as a result, am often surprised when people point out, with actual quotations, what I wrote on some points in years past. One way in which I am sometimes surprised when confronted with previous writings is that I clearly remember that I felt tentative about this issue or that, and meant to express a partial or a tentative view only, and lo and behold: that is not how I wrote. I sound very definite. Have I changed my mind, or am I one of those people who tend to sound confident when they are not? But there are other difficulties with the question. 
Sometimes a deepening of a view may go so deep as to change its character without actually changing its letter. Ever since my student days I was interested in the social character of the law. More recently I have written on the social character of value in general, and on the ways in which the characterization of these two forms of social dependence differ, and the ways in which they are nevertheless interdependent. The result is that once embedded in the wider context my old views on the social character of the law while unchanged may have acquired, in my mind, a different meaning. There is more to say, but it is probably of no interest to anyone but myself. Similar changes probably affected other of my views.
To the pure all things are pure. History is bunk. What an idiot.

Post-humanism, anti-humanism, pre-modern, anti-democratic, authoritarian... I can like or love the art - See Pollock and Kubrick and Gursky- but I can't stand its righteous defenders.

repeats from the NDPR
Overall, Seaford’s book is interesting, insightful, and combines expertise in ancient sources with careful reasoning. It certainly offers an invaluable discussion of the origins and cultural contexts of early Greek philosophy. But Seaford’s concern with the historical explanations of Greek philosophy suggests that his book may not appeal to scholars interested exclusively in the philosophical content and argumentation of Presocratic texts. The author often explicitly minimizes intellectual explanations of a philosopher’s views in favor of socio-political, religious, and psychological factors (219; 253–4; 273). In fact, he insists that comprehending the relevant cultural factors is necessary for understanding Presocratic metaphysics. We must, he maintains, avoid treating ancient philosophy as if it were created in a “historical vacuum” (10), even if this threatens most Presocratic scholars’ “control of their subject and the autonomy of ’doing philosophy’“
"The author often explicitly minimizes intellectual explanations of a philosopher’s views in favor of socio-political, religious, and psychological factors."

Like a theologian the last thing a philosopher wants to imagine is that his beliefs are manifestations of changes in language and culture: results and not causes. The last thing an avant-garde wants to imagine is that its works are what artworks have always been, not discoveries of possible futures but descriptions of the present. Historians understand how philosophers' dreams become dated.

His students called him, "the last humanist":
And finally: besides constituting a natural event in space and time, naturally indicating moods or feelings, besides conveying a conventional greeting the action of my acquaintance can reveal to an experienced observer all that goes to make up his "personality." This personality is conditioned by his being a man of the twentieth century, by his national. social and educational background by the previous history of his life and by his present surroundings but it is also distinguished by an individual manner of viewing things and reacting to the world which, if rationalized, would have to be called a philosophy. In the isolated action of a polite greeting all these factors do not manifest themselves comprehensively, but nevertheless symptomatically. We could not construct a mental portrait of the man on the basis of this single action. but only by coordinating a large number of similar observations and by interpreting them in connection with our general information as to his period. nationality, class. intellectual traditions and so forth. Yet all the qualities which this mental portrait would show explicitly are implicitly inherent in every single action; so that. conversely every single action can be interpreted in the light of those qualities. 
Deleuze's interest in folding, the fold and the baroque makes perfect sense. As a philosopher he has no option other than to be a conservative.
The decadence of mannerism presents as the self-narrativizing of a concrete idealism, attempting to inoculate itself against increasingly dominant narrative (relativist) culture. Mannerism is the model of aristocratic art in an age of incipient democracy. The baroque is the same model of conservatism in the age of a fully ascendant democracy: the age of theater.
update- and now this: Brian Leiter, SSRN, The Case Against Free Speech. Amazing.
3AM-Have you changed your mind about anything fundamental to your philosophical position during your time as a philosopher?
Raz -For various reasons this is for me a difficult question. One is that I am not terribly interested in the question.
more here for now