Sunday, May 31, 2015

In re John Nash: Gödel-Addington
Mathematics in human terms is moralism, and moralism is failed politics.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The single figure floating, in the foreground as if it were collaged, incompetent, brilliant because he understood it was better to leave it broken then to fall even harder trying to fix it and that somehow it worked. A painting made of things accepted not designed. The godawful faces. And hanging across from early large even more incompetent Cezannes.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Graber makes my argument, the obvious one: for gays, now, but not then; for Palestinians now, more and more (though I'm not sure he'd want to admit the parallel); for American blacks...?

Cultural change leads.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

repeats. the lot of it.

for various reasons.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Corbusier and modernism: the contradictions of a pharaonic organicism; authoritarian technocratic not democratic.

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

"A religion is a form of utopia: when it disappears, alternative utopias appear" Emmanuel Todd

"Charlie’s approach to politics contributed to a confusion of the mundane world of political discourse with the sphere of ultimate values."

The idealism and authoritarianism, or moralizing Puritanism, of Plato and John Rawls.

Not for the first time in France; the revolution [sic] will be carved in stone.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In the great portrait of Innocent X, in Rome, the sitter is looking to his right and up, meeting the painter's gaze and ours. We like Velazquez are standing.This seems to make the Pope uncomfortible, but he holds his tongue.
Velazquez at The Grand Palais.
My original reason for the trip.
"So, too, our Collegiate Gothic, which may be seen in its most resolutely picturesque (and expensive) phase at Yale, is more relentlessly Gothic than Chartres, whose builders didn't even know they were Gothic and missed so many chances for quaint effect."
Velazquez knew at some level that he was an avatar of bourgeois democracy, and so did his greatest patrons. That's how it fucking works. 

Quibbling with MacDonald, not contradicting him. He'd get the fucking joke.
The Mona Lisa
The Venus de Milo

Brian Leiter (see various) is concerned over the harm of hate speech but opposes trigger warnings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

300 kph, France

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Starting from the question: If Tate Modern was Musée de la danse? This project proposes a transformation of the art museum via the lens of dance. 
For two days only, in collaboration with dancer and choreographer Boris Charmatz, around 90 dancers and choreographers will take over the gallery spaces and the iconic Turbine Hall. 
See key works by Charmatz and his collaborators, get involved in a debate about what a dance museum could be and join in as contemporary dancers turn the Turbine Hall into a dance floor for everyone. 
As Tate Modern becomes Musée de la danse temporarily, the project conjures a vision of how art might be presented and encountered differently in the future museum.
Remembering and relearning Yvonne Rainer's Trio A
It began as one man performing what I recognized as bits of Trio A, but then he stopped and gave a lecture monologue about the piece and its history and how dance is notated, handed down, and not, and that he was trying to remember bits he'd lost. He asked advice from a friend in the audience and from someone else who it became clear later was a plant. After dancing together with the third dancer for a few minutes, consulting back and forth, the first dancer left (his friend had drifted back into the audience) and the one remaining switched the topic from Ranier to Trisha Brown. The first dancer was British and it was unclear what relation he had to Rainer. The third was American and she was a former member or perhaps still working with Trisha Brown's company.

It was all very nicely done.
A former Balanchine dancer.
More confirmation of the obvious: art museums not as art museums but as theaters.

Friday, May 15, 2015

In Europe with a phone. This is the best I'm gonna do for awhile.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

You can't understand the complexity of Athenian art, dynamic/naturalistic and hieratic, until you see it, and the best of it. Its closest parallels in Asia don't match it. Nothing in Europe matches in since.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Holbein, Bellini, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Mantegna, Piero. The National Gallery, London.


Holbein, The Ambassadors

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Underground/Overground: The Changing Politics of UK Music-Writing: 1968-85

A two-day conference bringing together writers, editors and readers of the underground and trade music presses of the 1970s with academics and other media commentators, to discuss the emergence and evolution of this counter cultural voice and its wider legacy, good and ill, from the 80s to the present day.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

A long time.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

"A religion is a form of utopia: when it disappears, alternative utopias appear" Emmanuel Todd

"Charlie’s approach to politics contributed to a confusion of the mundane world of political discourse with the sphere of ultimate values." Arthur Goldhammer

Goldhammer The first paragraphs and last.
There is, of course, no justification for the murder of political cartoonists. Nothing I say should be construed as in any way mitigating the horror of the Jan. 7 attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine by two gunmen affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Yemen. In no way do I excuse the crime or accuse the victims of somehow bringing it on themselves. This should go without saying, but as I have learned from the reactions to what I previously published on this matter, it bears repeating, and even then there are some for whom it will not be enough. I should stipulate at the outset that I believe the editors and cartoonists at the satirical magazine exemplified all the courage with which they are credited by PEN America, whose decision to honor the magazine with its Freedom of Expression Courage Award has sparked controversy and led 145 writers to support a boycott of its annual gala. Charlie’s staffers knew that, by taking the course they did, they might be subject to physical harm.

I do not in any way contest the magazine’s right to blaspheme, offend or denounce. I regard some restrictions on free speech under French law (e.g., lese majesty — a protester was arrested a few years ago for wearing a “Fuck Sarkozy” T-shirt — and prohibiting Holocaust denial and apology for terrorism) as undue limitations on political expression. In this respect, I am more of a free-speech absolutist than many in France today.

The possession of a right does not, however, make it imperative to exercise that right. The confrontation between cartoonists and jihadists began when a Danish editor raised the question whether editorial cartoonists might be exercising self-censorship with respect to Islam. He regarded such self-censorship, if it existed, as a potential threat to free speech rights. I do not deny that such a potential threat might exist, but I question whether it was or is a clear and present danger to free speech rights in the West today. Calling self-restraint self-censorship seems to me to foreclose thoughtful response by applying a pejorative label. When communities with very different sensibilities regarding religion must live together, there is potential virtue to self-restraint, which may connote many things, including respect for the other, a desire to avoid conflict on matters where rational discourse will be difficult to achieve and a commitment to avoid inflaming tensions. Discretion is a social virtue, and frankly speaking one’s mind on all occasions can be a form of misanthropy or aggression, as Molière reminds us. ...

Charlie’s approach to politics contributed to a confusion of the mundane world of political discourse with the sphere of ultimate values. However laudable the magazine’s intentions, I believe that such confusion has proved politically unavailing. I would therefore advocate a change of tactics. Honor the dead, by all means, and defend what is defensible. But there is nothing dishonorable about asking whether other forms of engagement might not offer a greater likelihood of success. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

"All lives matter"

"All lives matter"
"Some of my best friends are Jews"
The problems of Charlie Hebdo in two stock phrases, one new, one old.

Writing and rewriting...
I've been sloppy with Hebdo, not always and not so much here, but often enough.

Max Fisher, on the attack in Texas.
But this was not principally a free speech event; it was an anti-Muslim hate event. Pamela Geller is not principally a free speech advocate; her activism has rather focused on curbing the rights, including the speech rights, of Muslims in the United States. The Garland event's most famous attendee and keynote speaker, the Dutch far-right political leader Geert Wilders, has taken similar positions, for example calling for banning the Koran
There is of course zero — zero — justification for the two attackers, who shot a security guard in the ankle (read more on the attackers here) before they were killed. No amount of hate speech justifies a violent retaliation, nor does it explain why these two men turned to violence. 
But before we elevate Geller and the event's attendees to free speech heroes akin to the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, we should understand what the event was really intended to support: hatred and marginalization of Muslims. 
The cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo are not heroes. The Jyllands-Posten cartoons were anti-Muslim as much as cartoons of the Pope are anti-Catholic, but only a fool sees European Muslims as the equivalent of European Catholics. No Jew would accept claims of the equivalence in Europe of Christians and Jews, and anyone else who would is suspect. Siné admitted being anti-Semitic once and then apologized. The second time he refused. He'd never said he changed his mind.

Pedants argue that double standards shouldn't exist, or absurdly that they don't. After the Holocaust and the founding of Israel European Jews and their descendants live fantasies no other minorities enjoy. They identify as white* and their ethnic nationalism is described by whites and by themselves as liberal.  No one in polite society questions if, "Jewish lives matter", is lacking in universalism. The question now in Europe is whether the double standard extended out of guilt to Jews and assumed by Jews regarding Europeans should cover Muslims and other non-whites as well.

The invention of an oxymoron.
French rationalism and political idiocy.
TPM (my highlighting)
One of the writers for satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, the target of a deadly attack in January, said that the magazine's cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad are different from the contest to draw Muhammed in Texas over the weekend.

Jean-Baptiste Thoret, a Charlie Hebdo film critic, told PBS' Charle Rose that there's "absolutely no comparison possible" between the Charlie Hebdo attack and the shooting outside of the Muhammed cartoon contest held near Dallas by anti-Islam group American Freedom Defense Initiative.

"To be honest, I can’t imagine the kind of comparison you can make between the Charlie Hebdo attack January 7 and this event," Thoret told Rose when asked for his reaction to the Texas attack.

Thoret said the contest in Texas was part of a "very harsh movement against Islamization of the U.S."

He said that at Charlie Hebdo, the writers and cartoonists were "criticizing" religion, "not Muslim people in particular."
We're back to Aquinas and the doctrine of double effect. But it doesn't matter what Thoret thinks; it matters what Muslims think.

*See also Jason Stanley, and again in the previous post. In the introduction to his new book he refers as he has in the past to Judaism almost exclusively as a faith. It's as if he's never looked in the mirror.

Credit where credit is due: Arthur Goldhammer in AJA
Charlie’s approach to politics contributed to a confusion of the mundane world of political discourse with the sphere of ultimate values.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Various and sundry, the old with the new.

Eric Rauchway: Real liberals fight fascism
The New Deal gave Americans not only the material capacity to fight fascism, but faith in American institutions.
see recent, on Wickard etc, and Kolko.
repeats, Rauchway defines liberalism:
If Kramer’s report is accurate, you can see why the Columbia faculty got frustrated. They wanted Bollinger to offer a traditional defense of academic freedom, which goes something like this: Academic freedom predates free speech.

...I can think of three reasons Bollinger might have said this, instead of offering the traditional defense of academic freedom.

(1) He doesn’t know the history and sources of academic freedom. This seems unlikely, though that phrase “surprised and bewildered” is worrying.

(2) He knows the history and sources of academic freedom, but he thinks it uncongenial to assert them in this anti-elitist day and age.
Real liberals don't read Foucault.
Richard Yeselson: Is Cosmopolitan Communitarianism still Possible? Was it ever?
Bertram and Farrell answered years ago
Bertram on Martha Nussbaum's Not For Profit
However, the central idea of the book, that receipt of a certain type of humanities education is necessary for people to acquire the capacities for empathic imagination that (according to MN) are necessary virtues of democratic (and indeed global) citizenship strikes me as (a) obviously false and (b) insulting to those of her fellow citizens who haven’t been the beneficiaries of such courses. Those given a more technical education are described as “useful machines” as early as p.2. There is very little empirical support adduced for any of the causal claims in the essay which tend to rely on more or less a priori arguments from various educational and psychoanalytical thinkers that Nussbaum likes. 
Farrell on Gambetta and Hertog's Engineers of Terror
Their preferred explanation lies in the combination of a particular mindset given to simplification, monistic understandings of the world and desire that existing social arrangements be preserved, with key environmental factors (most importantly, frustrated professional aspirations due to a lack of opportunities). Interestingly, Gambetta and Hertog suggest that the same mindset which drives engineers in the Islamic world to become terrorists, may lead to the marked tendency of US engineers to adhere to strongly conservative political views. This is the kind of topic that lends itself to the worst kind of uninformed pop-journalism academics, but as best as I can tell (I’m a consumer rather than a producer of the statistical literature) Gambetta and Hertog are extremely careful about their analysis, and up front about the limitations of their data.
Rich Puchalsky in comments at Yeselson's post
The fundamental failure of past left analysis is looking to the working class as the progressive or revolutionary force. It clearly isn’t. The reliable left-leaning classes are the professional and creative classes below the 1%: the cosmopolitanism of capitalism together with the inability to loot that makes communitarianism possible.
We're back to Rauchway's elitism. Few of the comments are as blunt as that one; most are almost as offensive. And though Farrell is intrigued by Gambetta he approves of this
The role of science has been to gauge the limits of the species, with new technologies and extra-planetary environments being used as virtual laboratories for an ongoing thought experiment. If the mainstream novel employs the lens of the commonplace career – birth and education, marriage and divorce, ambition and failure – SF has pursued the inquiry by abducting the human animal and placing it in alien environments.
The cognitive dissonance is painful to witness. How can you have a conversation with pathology?
Rauchway again: When You Can’t Avoid Knowing Grandpa Was a Nazi
Teege’s brief narrative also encompasses also the memory kept by Holocaust survivors and their descendants: before Teege found out about her grandfather, she traveled to Tel Aviv, made friends there, and lived there. Her discovery imposes silence between her and her Jewish friends. She doesn’t know what she can say. Her grandfather might have shot their grandparents.

“There is no Nazi gene,” Teege insists, struggling against the idea that she must bear some guilt for her grandfather. But she clearly feels that guilt. We all inhabit the world the bloodthirstiest conquerors made; only some of us grew up with them, personally.
The author of the book is a Zionist. No mention of Palestinians.
Jason Stanley is interviewed about his new book How Propaganda Works
In How Propaganda Works (Princeton University Press, 2015), Jason Stanley develops an original theory of propaganda according to which propaganda is the deployment of an ideal against itself. Along the way, Stanley distinguishes various kinds of propaganda and explores the connections between propaganda, ideology, stereotypes, and group identities. Stanley's central thesis is that propaganda poses an epistemological problem for democracy, as propaganda is the vehicle by which false beliefs are disseminated and opportunities for knowledge are closed.
The book's blurbed by Chomsky, as "a novel and significant contribution that should revitalize political philosophy." Propagandists are introducing foreign substances into our precious bodily fluids.
But journalistic forces and manipulation can also act more subtly. Like the Trojan Horse, they introduce heteronomous agents into autonomous worlds. Supported by external forces, these agents are accorded an authority they cannot get from their peers. These writers for nonwriters or philosophers for nonphilosophers and the like, have television value, a journalistic weight that is not commensurate with their particular weight in their particular world. 
…What I find it difficult to justify is the fact that the extension of the audience [made possible by television] is used to legitimate the lowering of the standards of entry into the field. People may object to this as elitism, a simple defense of the citadel of big science and high culture, or even an attempts to close out ordinary people (by trying to close off television to those who with their honoraria and their and showy lifestyles, claim to be representative of ordinary men and women, on the pretext that they can be understood by these people and will get high audience ratings). In fact, I am defending the conditions necessary for the production and diffusion of the highest human creations. To escape the twin traps of elitism and demagoguery we must work to maintain or even to raise the requirements for the right of entry –the entry fee- into the fields of production.
Pierre Bourdieu -and the rest of them- as Jack D. Ripper


The gift that keeps on giving.  Brighouse, again (most recently here)

Is having a loving family an unfair advantage? Yes, but the state should allow parents to read to their children while perhaps not to send them to expensive private schools. Behind philosophy qua philosophy -the specious search for truth- the power of the state to give and take away. And of course on education G.A. Cohen disagrees.

Liberalism considers the tension between inequality and fairness, but not between freedom and obligation. The state alone regulates behavior assumed to be base and vulgar. A superior force holds our violence in check. It's a model of Weberian authoritarianism; in a nation of laws there is no need for virtue. Cohen thought so, certainly.
It's difficult to expect a person who lives in a particular social niche to depress the circumstances of himself and his family below a certain level even for the sake of principles that he sincerely affirms.
Holbo on Nazis twice. Were The Nazis Right-Wing? In What Sense Were The Nazis Socialists?

For Holbo as for his wife.
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.