Sunday, July 24, 2016

Rembrandt, The Polish Rider, c.1655, Oil on canvas, 46 x 53 1/8 in. (116.8 x 134.9 cm)
Hackwork of the gods.
There's so much about it that's by the numbers and yet on the money. The genius is in the roteness.

Rembrandt could be a hack in the way Hals could never be. Hals was always a professional; like Rubens but not at his level. But something in this painting, the offhandedness of execution, casual to the point of boredom, I think of a dancer or a Vaudeville performer doing the show again one more time, but perfectly. It cracks me up every time I see it but I feel a shiver.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"History is bunk"
It was during a year in residency at Tokyo’s Hitotsuabashi University in 1995 that Jim Crotty first “met” John Maynard Keynes. 
His teaching duties were minimal, so he spent much of his time in the school’s excellent English-language library, where he read British political and economic history, and studied the collected works of Keynes. Crotty had been teaching macroeconomics, by then, for 25 years, but the Keynes he discovered in at Hitotsubashi was nothing like the Keynes he thought he knew.

For the economics profession, Keynes was the original technocrat. He was the theorist who had shown that the one problem with a free-market economy was that it lacked — in the words of Paul Samuelson, whose textbooks introduced Keynes to generations of American students — a thermostat for aggregate demand. Set that one dial correctly, and the only substantive criticism of capitalism was resolved. But as Crotty read Keynes’ voluminous output from the 1920s, 30s and 40s he found something very different — a radical who saw the pursuit of profit as both inimical to a decent civilization and unsustainable on its own terms. When Keynes ended the General Theory with a call for “a more or less comprehensive socialization of investment” and the “euthanasia of the rentier,” it wasn’t a tossed-off provocation, but a summary of a serious political program developed over decades.
I discovered that the Keynes that I had been taught was not the right Keynes historically. This is one of the two or three most famous economists in history. So how could we have gotten him so wrong?
"History of Philosophy: Just Say No!"  etc....

Sunday, July 17, 2016

updated, at the top, not the bottom. It seemed appropriate. And a second time. Serendipity

Austin American-Stateman: Violent arrest of teacher caught on video; officers face investigation
Officials are investigating an Austin police officer’s violent arrest of an African-American elementary school teacher who was twice thrown to the ground during a traffic stop for speeding and comments by a second officer who told her police are sometimes wary of blacks because of their “violent tendencies.”

Video from the previously unreported June 2015 incident was obtained by the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV this week. The video shows the traffic stop escalating rapidly in the seven seconds from when officer Bryan Richter, who is white, first gives a command to 26-year-old Breaion King to close her car door to when he forcibly removes her from the driver’s seat, pulls her across a vacant parking space and hurls her to the asphalt.
Gawker: "Video Shows Unarmed Black Man Pleading With Arms Raised Before Getting Shot by Police"

WSVN News Miami
In his hospital bed Wednesday and speaking to 7News exclusively, Kinsey said, “When I went to the ground, I’m going to the ground just like this here with my hands up,” Kinsey said, “and I am laying down here just like this, and I’m telling them again, ‘Sir, there is no need for firearms. I’m unarmed, he’s an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand.”

Kinsay said he was attempting to calm an autistic patient who ran away from a group home. Kinsey could be heard in the video saying, “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home.”

Leiter:  "More on police violence and racism."

"A genuinely illuminating discussion from sociologist Randall Collins (Penn).... a really rich essay".

The phrase “war on cops” is partly correct. There also has been a war of police against black people. Both have been going on for a long time, and each reacts to the other. 
The recent argument is that violence is encouraged by black protests, mainstream supporters and officials who have caused police to withdraw from active policing, putting them in a defensive position with black criminals on the offensive. This is a part of the causal pattern, but it is embedded in a much larger process: counter-escalation of each side against the other. Both political mobilization and violence play a part in the escalation process, and this happens on both sides. A key mechanism is the emotions that pervade both camps: sometimes righteous anger, sometimes jittery tension that blows up little incidents and feeds the fire with atrocities.

...Only a small fraction of each side engage in violence; but for their opponents they become emblematic of the entire enemy camp. The emotions of the most volatile fringes drive the back-and-forth process.

The micro-sociology of emotions shows there is something practical we can all do to de-escalate the conflict.
...Individuals disappear from view; the cop you are ambushing may be one of the good guys who sincerely believes in community outreach; the black man whose car you are stopping may be a middle-class citizen. But at the moment of confrontation they all fade into the category of the stereotyped enemy.
"a middle-class citizen".

Two warring tribes, no discussion of the fact that one is made up of agents of the state.

The author's latest book "Napoleon Never Slept: How Great Leaders Leverage Emotional Energy". self-published at Amazon.

Monday, July 11, 2016

I had a little fun today with a geek academic, a black nerd PhD. He was earnest and irate, angry and moralizing, but missed the point entirely. Cops are now mil-geeks. They saw the woman as a threat, because she couldn't be anything else. The result is comic. As I said later, someone should find out the cops' names and send the pic to their mothers, and ask each of them what they think of their son's behavior: scared of a girl.

The image has spread because of the absurdity. Little military rationalists, rendered impotent.
The only appropriate response and the best response as a matter of politics, is laughter.
The image is comic, but it's a shot of motion, and one of a series. The cops moved in a grabbed her and walked her back behind their lines, under arrest. It's all pathetic theater. And the woman was playing her part.
I just need you people to know. I appreciate the well wishes and love, but this is the work of God. I am a vessel! Glory to the most high! I'm glad I'm alive and safe. And that there were no casualties that I have witnessed first hand.
"I am a vessel!".  It's all political cosplay, teenage boys and teenage girls.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

He Toms from the heart.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Deborah Lipstadt, self-hating Jew.

Donald Trump’s "Inadvertent Anti-Semitism"
Trump may abhor anti-Semitism, but, however unconsciously, he instrumentalizes it and spreads it. Then he doubles down to defend doing so.
I thought I'd posted these before, but maybe not.

"The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.
We want to emigrate as a respected people"

See previous discussion of Jason Stanley, with a mention of Lipstadt at the bottom, and links to Amos Schocken and Sara Lipton.

We're back to ressentiment again (a link to the previous post). European Jews identifying with their torturers and abusing their own closest relatives, Palestinians, but also Mizrahi.

I've said a few times that  Muslims are the new Jews, the new bookish intellectual outsiders. But I ignored the corollary, that they're the new urban elite and hated by the peasants. The Brexit mess woke me up a bit. And Sadiq Khan's smiling Blairism.

Jews, Muslims, and the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia.

A Bulgarian waiter I know explained to me that Muslims and Jews don't do physical work; they're in business and management. If they work in restaurants they work in their own restaurants. Leaving 10 minutes later I said goodnight to his North African coworker and we had a laugh.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Corey Robin on Elie Wiesel: "Trigger Warning: This post may upset you."

I replied to his post on FB pointing out the obvious: that the "sacralization' of the Holocaust (Robin's term) and the dehumanization of Palestinians are inseparable. He deleted my comment.
[Actually he didn't; he blocked my access to his page. It's still up and visible to me if I'm not logged in. But it's not visible on my "activity log" so I couldn't delete it even if I wanted to.]

Maria Farrell comments on Brexit, as any proper army wife would, quoting an angry mournful squib by a former military officer.  [history, again, of the obvious]

More from Pankaj Mishra, (quoted below)
In the neoliberal and technocratic worldview, the quantitative emphasis on what counts and what can therefore be counted (empirical data) has long obscured what does not count (subjective emotions). Today, GDP cultists and pollsters everywhere find themselves helpless before angry electorates convinced, as Belinsky was in his own hopeless situation, that ‘negation is my god.’ Nor can vulgar rationalism cope with the possibility that now universally emergent Underground Man may take pleasure in defying his rational self-interest.

Ressentiment in post-Thatcher Britain was long lucratively stoked by its tabloids, keeping left-behind masses roused with everyday ambushes of evidently globalised elites and their swarthy multicultural wards. It now seems that the vindictive passions were looking for a spectacular final act of negation.

The Etonians who ranged themselves on either side of a reckless referendum confirmed the cunning of unreason. Most of Sunderland’s – and England’s – electorate then found a chance to enact the Underground Man’s rebellion against an overpowering and demeaning reality. ‘Of course,’ he admits, ‘I cannot break through the wall by battering my head against it … but I am not going to be reconciled to it simply because it is a stone wall and I have not the strength.’
I shouldn't be surprised but I am that no one -or no one else- comments on Leiter's use of the term ressentimentI've said for years that somewhere Leiter says he has no friends in literature departments; in fact he was quoting Fodor. I've also quoted a friend (of mine) who's said that Fodor expresses surprise at colleagues with friends outside academia. And in fact Leiter "loves" literature, he just doesn't take it seriously. Literature includes the author as subject and object. Baudelaire and Dostoyevsky describe themselves as both master and slave. Where most people read Nietzsche as they read the others, Leiter takes him at his word. Bourdieu, a French bureaucrat rather than an American one, does the same with Flaubert.

Leiter, ressentiment, and "condescension from below"

The existence of "slave mentality", "victim mentality", or  "reaction formation", is not an argument in the defense of masters.

The search terms make no reference to race.
"Fiction deals with philosophical questions as such. Philosophy qua philosophy deals in fictional solutions."

continued in the next post.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Repeat from two years ago

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

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

The last few minutes, Mackendrick describing the exchange between Baker and Liddy's secretary, followed by the video of the exchange. Brilliant.

Most of the hearings took place doing summer vacation; I watched every day, making drawings of all the characters. Thinking back I remember it as my favorite TV show or one of the favorite movies of my childhood. I understood it as a ten year old just as Mackendrick describes.

I forget I'd mentioned this before and later

Saturday, July 02, 2016

LRB: Where are we now?

T.J. Clark
I voted Leave, without enthusiasm, mainly because I had promised to do so in Greece last July. What Dijsselbloem and Schäuble did to Greece back then seemed an indication of what the EU was truly for. It remains our best clue to how ‘Europe’ would act if a left government, of a nation less hopelessly enfeebled than post-Pasok Greece or post-Blair-and-Brown Britain, dared, say, to resist TTIP’s final promulgation of the neoliberal rule of law. Certainly the relevant point of comparison for the 17 million Leave votes is the No to ‘austerity’ registered by the Greeks, again in the face of all respectable opinion, a year ago. And everything will now be done, as then, to make sure the scandal of democratic refusal doesn’t get in the way of business. I have no doubt that already, behind the smokescreen of Article 50, Dijsselbloem and Schäuble’s intermediaries are sitting down with Carney and Osborne to settle the outlines of the no-but-on-the-other-hand-not-really.
Pankaj Mishra
‘Sunderland’s citizens,’ the New York Times reports, ‘seem to have voted against their own interests.’ Apparently, the city battered by Thatcherism is ‘a big recipient of European money’ and ‘also the home of a Nissan car factory, Britain’s largest’, and should have voted to remain inside the European Union. Versions of ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas?’ exasperation have proliferated since Brexit; so has the contention that those who voted to exit will not, after all, receive their expected benefits. But the Brexit result is another reminder that individuals and groups, especially those at the receiving end of neoliberalism, may not be inclined to validate rational-choice theory.
Also David Runciman, Neal Ascherson, et al.