Friday, September 30, 2016

"I know how to write, but I don't know how to read."

more of the same (see the previous post)

It is and it isn’t
"Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ is not just a radical kind of art. It’s a philosophical dialetheia: a contradiction that is true"
In 1917 a pivotal event occurred for art and philosophy: Marcel Duchamp unveiled his artwork Fountain in Alfred Stieglitz’s New York studio. This was simply a porcelain urinal, signed ‘R. Mutt’.

Fountain was notorious, even for avant-garde artists. It has become one of the most discussed works of art of the 20th century. The Society of Independent Artists rejected it, though every artist who paid the exhibition fee was supposed to have their work shown. For almost a century, it has remained a difficult artwork. The philosopher John Passmore summed up Fountain as: ‘a piece of mischief at the expense of the art world’, though many have taken it very seriously.

No doubt there was some tomfoolery involved – Duchamp did not choose a urinal randomly. Yet there is more to Fountain than nose-thumbing. What makes this artwork so striking is its philosophical contribution.
"Je sais bien écrire, mais je ne sais pas lire."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A nice little run of posts by Leiter, in order, each separated on his site by one or two others.
Like his idol Nietzsche but at the level of pedantry, an exemplar of the decadence he claims to oppose. It's really pathetic.

Against Canary Mission, redux 
Following up on this (many of you signed), there is now a website with the letter and the full list of signatories. Someone really needs to create a list of faculty and students behind "Canary Mission," since a list of disgusting fascists would be useful!
Even if Clinton wins the election, we won't be done with Trump 
This is worth emphasizing: the Trump nightmare won't end with the election. Even if (as I still expect) Clinton wins, we know (he's told us) that Trump won't be a graceful loser, since he's psychologically incapable of that. The threat to the constitutional and democratic order will continue, as Trump hurls reckless accusatiosn of voter fraud and a stolen election, accusations that will be repeated by the increasingly openly fascist mass media--Fox on TV, Breitbart on-line--that threaten civilization. Like any broken clock, or psychopath, Trump is occasionally right, and one thing he may be right about is that our speech laws permit too much falsehoods (he is wrong about what is false, obviously, which is also telling). Until we can shut down Fox and Breitbart and Drudge, we are all in danger, not only in America, but in the world, since this benighted country continues to be the greatest threat to human well-being on the planet. I have no faith, alas, that this country is capable of closing down only the sociopathic morons, so the libertarian legal regime that sanctions 24-hour lies and stupidity may mark the future for this dying empire.
"I have no faith, alas," links again to his own paper,  "The Case Against Free Speech"
...I also argue for viewing "freedom of speech" like "freedom of action": speech, like everything else human beings do, can be for good or ill, benign or harmful, constructive or pernicious, and thus the central question in free speech jurisprudence should really be how to regulate speech effectively — to minimize its very real harms, without undue cost to its positive values — rather than rationalizing (often fancifully) the supposed special value of speech. In particular, I argue against autonomy-based defenses of a robust free speech principle. I conclude that the central issue in free speech jurisprudence is not about speech but about institutional competence; I offer some reasons — from the Marxist "left" and the public choice "right"— for being skeptical that capitalist democracies have the requisite competence; and make some suggestive but inconclusive remarks about how these defects might be remedied.
Another keynote speaker rebuked... 
...In the case of the other keynote speaker controversy du jour, Professor Shelby was asked by a Black woman in his Q&A why he had not cited or discussed any Black feminist authors; Professor Shelby, unsurprisingly, was dismissive of the question, calling it a request for a "bibliography" and indicating he was just trying to do philosophy. He, correctly, supposed that a question of the form, "Why didn't you mention authors with particular racial and gender attributes?" is not a serious philosophical question, in contrast to, say, the question, "Why didn't you address the following argument by author X [who is also a Black feminist]?", which is an appropriate question. (Readers should review the full statement by the aggrieved audience member at the end of this post.) Other audience members shared this aggrievement as well.
"...he was just trying to do philosophy. He, correctly, supposed that a question of the form, "Why didn't you mention authors with particular racial and gender attributes?" is not a serious philosophical question,..."

It's a metaphilosophical question.
If philosophy is technical it becomes necessary to invent a new sub-field.
This is nothing to do with claims that Shelby's arguments were hurtful. Those arguments and Leiter's are variations on a theme: the childish desire for safety.

Dick Cavett on Paul Weiss

From an interview with the former T.V. host about his undergraduate days at Yale:
Q: To what extent did Yale teach you the art of critical thinking? 
DC: Any critical thinking that I got from Yale was in my undergraduate courses, maybe in the true sense of the term, from the great Paul Weiss, Sterling professor of philosophy. Paul Weiss taught his class Socratically, asking to have questions fired at him, and he never failed to take down any five students simultaneously, if he needed to. I later put him on television, on the Jack Paar Tonight Show, and then I had Paul Weiss on my own show, as I did William F. Buckley, [whose] faculty advisor was Paul Weiss.
Weiss, by the way, was the first Jew hired with tenure in philosophy at Yale. (The episode is described in Neil Gross's biography of Richard Rorty: basically, Brand Blandshard championed the appointment, but it met with opposition from his anti-semitic colleagues and administrators, but Blandshard prevailed.) Fifty years on, the former Sterling Professor of Philosophy at Yale is now barely known or read. ...
repeats, with (some) credit to Corey Robin.

"Most college educated people and most academics have no idea who Paul Weiss is, but almost all know the name James Baldwin. That fact is important in any discussion not of philosophy but of philosophers, even in serious discussion of the subjects they claim to deal in."
I didn't mention the most glaringly obvious point about Baldwin's comments: "I don't know what most white people in this country feel, but I can only conclude what they feel from the state of their institutions". Debating ideas vs observing behavior.
It gave me an excuse to fix an old graphic I was never happy with.

"Doing philosophy"
Moral Realism as Moral Relativism
Raymond Klibansky,
and Richard Seaford

Friday, September 23, 2016

Full page ad in the NY Times today. Think for a minute what "liberalism" means.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

notetaking. comments elsewhere. old wine/new bottles.
Literary fiction at its best is not cerebral. It's immersive, while simultaneously keeping you aware of the tricks that are sucking you in. It seduces you and tells you you're being seduced. Some people find the ambiguity pleasurable.

"Literary" fiction fucks with your head. It's the description in the first person before, during, and after a priest's drunken night with a drag queen, or the time you shot your best friend in the face. The only "pulp" that get much respect by this model is detective fiction, which pulls you in to imagining morally awkward situations that usually are never fully resolved.

Science fiction, the fiction of economists, philosophers, and engineers, is the fiction of propositions and resolutions, problem solving, fiction for geeks, for preadolescent boys and those who prefer the time of precocious youth, before the discovery of the moral reality of other people, sex and death. Engineers are optimists. Humanists are pessimists.

"Literary fiction" is descriptive as a form and as a term. It's not prescriptive. Any text that functions in the way I've described has "literary" value. Reading Weber for the self-description of a man with a "shell as hard as steel" a brilliant but still petty bureaucrat, is reading Weber as "literature".

Socratic irony is the irony of contempt for others. Literary irony is ironic self-awareness even if it's damning. It's the irony of Euripides.

Pretty basic stuff unless you're a geek.

Literary fiction is whatever ages well. If it's still read 200 years after it's published it's read as literature and not as artifact. If Jewish secular socialists write about Michelangelo it's not out of some loyalty to Rome.
Some people try for art and produce artifacts. Others do the reverse: they enjoy producing what they think is garbage but it lasts.

Anti-intellectualism is not a good answer to pretension. When someone tells me art is nothing but subjective I ask them to define Justice.

Until the last few decades with the rise of geek and tech culture, lit departments looked down on speculative and science fiction.
Academic fans of speculative fiction come from the fields I listed above, fields that see themselves as dealing in truths etc. Philosophers have always looked down on "fiction". and internet culture especially in the anglosphere self-selects for tech.

"works survive, or don't, for all sorts of reasons that might have nothing to do with any intrinsic worth."
No more or less for fiction than for history or philosophy. 
Speculative fiction is a modern invention, continuing from theological and philosophical interests as opposed to "merely" literary ones.

I wish I could embed the ngram for "literary fiction". It first appears in the digitized record as of now, around 1800, and goes through the roof after 1960.  

To visitors from Language Log

My last comment, deleted by Mark Liberman:

- Link to the OUP Press Blog on experiments showing that the more you look at bad art the less you like it and that the reverse is true for good art.

- Link to Gambetta and Hertog on engineers and political extremism.

- Quote from John von Neumann:"If you say why not bomb them tomorrow, I say why not today? If you say today at 5 o'clock, I say why not one o'clock?"

- Engineering was the model of Modernist intellectualism. it failed.
- Exposure to complex stimuli makes you smarter. They should redo the experiment.
- Chomsky's "poverty of the stimulus" is bullshit.

Monday, September 19, 2016

old and new. [and new] rewriting again, and again. The last three paragraphs. footnotes are stripped.
I’ve never had a problem seeing Eliot’s work both as brilliantly complex craftsmanship and as a desperate defensive mechanism propelled by fears of political, social, and sexual failure: impotence of every sort. To separate one from the other -form from subject- would be like separating sadness from the blues. But that separation is something Modernism demanded, either in terms of “pure” form, or of subject matter reformulated as “ideas”, “content” and reducible to ideology.
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.
Aesthetics was an invention of the eighteenth century and the age of reason, a theory of art in the shadow of production, as something to be taken or left, optional, superfluous, “parasitic”. But military uniforms are the outward manifestation of a military ethos, and they serve a purpose. The outward signs of regimentation reinforce the fact of it. Max Weber’s manners are Germanic and bourgeois. He didn’t analyze the way he dressed, walked, talked and parted his hair, but these aesthetic choices are documents of his relation to a culture, and his ideal of value-free science is as much the product of an age as he was. The fantasy of objectivity is the fantasy of the universal through the elision of the particular, beginning with the elision of the particular self. All you have to do to undermine Weber’s moralizing pedantry is to imagine him mumbling the words to himself while adjusting his tie in the mirror. It’s fascinating that although military orders don’t always conflate the militaristic and the universal it’s one thing you can count on philosophers to do. And Weber’s goal of course was to replace one form of aristocracy with another. 
Compare Weber with the art historian, Panofsky. 
When an acquaintance greets me on the street by lifting his hat, what I see from a formal point of view is nothing but the change of certain details within a configuration forming part of the general pattern of color, lines and volumes which constitutes my world of vision. When I identify, as I automatically do, this configuration as an object (gentleman), and the change of detail as an event (hatlifting), I have already overstepped the limits of purely formal perception and entered a first sphere of subject matter or meaning. The meaning thus perceived is of an elementary and easily understandable nature. and we shall call it the factual meaning; it is apprehended by simply identifying certain visible forms with certain objects known to me from practical experience and by identifying the change in their relations with certain action or events. 
Now the objects and events thus identified will naturally produce a certain reaction within myself. From the way my acquaintance performs his action I may be able to sense whether he is in a good or bad humor and whether his feelings towards me are indifferent, friendly or hostile. These psychological nuances will invest the gestures of my acquaintance with a further meaning which we shall call expressional. It differs from the factual one in that it is apprehended, not by simple identification, but by "empathy". To understand it, I need a certain sensitivity, but this sensitivity is still part of my practical experience, that is, of my everyday familiarity with objects and events. Therefore both the factual and the expressional meaning may be classified together: they constitute the class of primary or natural meanings. 
However, my realization that the lifting of the hat stands for a greeting belongs in an altogether different realm of interpretation. This form of salute is peculiar to the Western world and is a residue of mediaeval chivalry: armed men used to remove their helmets to make clear their peaceful intentions and their confidence in the peaceful intentions of others. Neither an Australian bushman nor an ancient Greek could be expected to realize that the lifting of a hat is not only a practical event with certain expressional connotations, but also a sign of politeness. To understand this significance of the gentleman's action I must not only be familiar with the practical world of objects and events, but also with the more-than- practical world of customs and cultural traditions peculiar to a certain civilization. Conversely, my acquaintance could not feel impelled to greet me by lifting his hat were he not conscious of the significance of this act. As for the expressional connotations which accompany his action, he may or may not be conscious of them. Therefore, when I interpret the lifting of a hat as a polite greeting, I recognize in it a meaning which may be called secondary or conventional; it differs from the primary or natural one in that it is intelligible instead of being sensible, and in that it has been consciously imparted to the practical action by which it is conveyed.  
“...but this sensitivity is still part of my practical experience, that is, of my everyday familiarity with objects and events.” Weber simply bypasses this as if it were irrelevant. He imagines an impersonal relation to the world. It’s a common trope of the literature of the period, but the impersonal in art and technocracy, though the product of the same events are very different things.
By the time anything becomes known as an idea, it’s been around for awhile. Concepts come late to the game. Sensibilities predate their clear articulation. Most serious scholars of Eliot have read Weber; the reverse is less a given, at least in English.

Franz Kafka published The Metamorphosis ten years after Weber published The Protestant Ethic. In 1905 Kafka was a student of Weber's younger brother; In the Penal Colony is now assumed to have lifted images and phrases from Alfred Weber's essay, Der Beamte, (The Official or The Bureaucrat),  so it’s safe to say Kafka had read Die protestantische Ethik. Talcott Parsons' translation came out in 1930, and the image of the "iron cage" has become ubiquitous as a description of the individual within modern bureaucratic systems. It wasn’t until 2001 that what Kafka read as stahlhartes Gehäuse was translated simply and directly as the more psychologically intimate, “shell as hard as steel”.
That political scientists don’t read Kafka or Eliot is not a matter of taste or aesthetics -whatever term you prefer to describe something unnecessary- but error, the mistake Weber himself makes, that all philosophers make in imagining themselves an unmoved mover, the cause but not the product, imagining their own freedom even as their arguments describe, and prescribe, the lack of it for others.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sandy Levinson
When I demurred, suggesting that his election would simply be catastrophic and that there was no reason at all to accept it graciously, the reasonable question was asked of me: what did I envision as the alternative? Taking up arms? A military coup? Or, as I have written several times, a secessionist movement led by Pacifica and New England (plus New York) that would reasonably state that they had no desire any longer to be part of a country that would place a sociopath in its highest office. All, to be sure, sound either fanciful or out-and-out dangerous (or, to some, lunatic). But exactly why is it less dangerous or lunatic to accept without question the legitimacy of a Trump presidency?
America, the Dunning-Kruger nation
Yes indeed. And for thirteen years, I've been covering it under the heading "the less they know, the less they know it."
Quiggin: Recognizing racism
While tribalism (roughly, an identity politics of solidarity with “people like us”) need not, in principle, imply support for racism (I plan more on this soon), the distinction is a fine one, and has broken down completely in practice. There are at least two reasons for this:
  • Political tribalism throws up demagogic leaders like Trump, Farage, and (in Australia) Pauline Hanson, whose appeal relies, in large measure on their rejection of political correctness, that is, on their willingness to appeal openly to racism. 
  • The centrality of migration to current political debate, inevitably bringing race issues to the forefront. 
For the same reasons, it seems clear that overt racism is going to be a significant part of politics for the foreseeable future. Individual demagogues like Trump may (or may not) flame out, but the existence of a large base of support for overtly racist policies and politicians is now evident to all, and the agreement that kept this base from having its views expressed in mainstream politics has now broken down.

In response to this it’s necessary to recognise racism as a substantial, if deplorable, political tendency. First, and most obviously, that means abandoning euphemisms, explicitly naming racism and, even more, naming people like Trump and Hanson as racists.
"the long list of failures at Crooked Timber on questions of race" One more for for extra comedy

Three posts from the last week by Brighouse, and one linked.

1-Making a classroom discussion an actual discussion
In this post I mentioned a time that I had my small (21 person) discussion based class recorded, and then watched the video with several colleagues (and 3 students I invited who were actually in the class). Someone observed, pretty quickly, that the discussion had a kind of ping-pong feel. The students were all willing to talk (event the student who told me in the previous class that she was ok with being recorded as long as she didn’t have to speak in the discussion), but they were all just talking to me.
linked: How could a research university systematically improve undergraduate instruction?
Regular readers know that I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about improving the quality of teaching and learning in universities like mine. I believe that instruction in research institutions is suboptimal. What I mean by suboptimal is something like “quite a bit less good than it could be without large investments of time energy and attention”.
2- 50 years and one day later…
since the premiere of The Monkees. He posts a video of the credit sequence.

3- An observation and a conjecture about HRC’s health
1. Walking pneumonia is really not a big deal any more. I’ve had it maybe 10 times; it is very annoying indeed, but, normally, like HRC, I have not bothered telling anyone about it. Indeed, whereas she apparently told close friends and family, I sometimes don’t bother (its not as though anyone is going to have any sympathy—“Go get antibiotics and steroids, now, you idiot”). [1] Her failure to tell the world she has a minor ailment is not part of a pattern of secrecy. 
2. Or maybe she doesn’t even have the ailment. Could it be that there is nothing wrong with her, and this is just a rumour spread by her campaign i) to make her seem a bit more like a normal person and ii) to panic people (like the Bushes, for example[2]) who think they can sit this out without having to take responsibility for the deranged performance artist becoming President, and move them into positive action?
Levinson refers to Richard Hofstadter. repeats

repeats  Blyth's irony is the irony of self-awareness.

"If all humility is false humility then Socratic humility, as Socratic irony, is the irony of contempt. Euripidean irony is the irony of our shared burdens, and failures."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"a fatal cheapness"

High Camp?
Shriver is annoying. The censorship is absurd. The criticism isn't.
[update: Suki Kim: there was no censorship.]
Styron and Nat Turner, etc. The problem is deeper.

Henry James
The "historic" novel is, for me, condemned, even in cases of labour as delicate as yours, to a fatal cheapness, for the simple reason that the difficulty of the job is inordinate & that a mere escamotage [slight of hand, trickery], in the interest of ease, & of the abysmal public naïveté, becomes inevitable. You may multiply the lithe facts that can be got from pictures & documents, relics & prints, as much as you like - the real thing is almost impossible us do, & in its absence the whole effect is as nought: I mean the invention, the representation of the old consciousness, the soul, the sense, the horizon, the vision of individuals in whose minds half the things that make ours, that make the modern world were non-existent. You have to think with your modern apparatus a man, a woman -or rather fifty- whose own thinking was intensely-otherwise conditioned, you have it simplify back by an amazing tour de force - & even then it's all humbug. But there is a shade of the (even then) humbug that may amuse. The childish tricks that take the place of any such conception of the real job in the flood of Tales of the Past that seems of late to have been rolling over our devoted country - these ineptitudes have, on a few recent glances, struck me as creditable to no one concerned.
And as far as "appropriation" is concerned, if you want to be serious about it, we're back to discussions of race and gender

I remember reading a James story written in the first person with a matronly American protagonist. The character was so obviously a drag performance it was annoying.

Shriver as book critic, in the FT
No Place Like Home
So are the powerful emotions surrounding immigration on the receiving end inherently unworthy of compassion? Are westerners who are uncomfortable with a tide of uninvited new arrivals ipso facto the villains of the tale? I think not. That discomfort need not proceed from bigotry alone, but surely from the same primitive notion of home that concerns Segun Afolabi. Illegal immigration occasions the sensation of a householder when total strangers burst through his front door without knocking and take up indefinite residence in the guest room. Britain memorialises its natives' brave fight against the Nazis in the second world war. In sufficient quantity, the arrival of foreign populations can begin to duplicate the experience of military occupation - your nation is no longer your home. Yet native western citizenries are implicitly told on a daily basis that to object is prejudiced, and they had best keep their mouths shut. This is a silencing in which fiction has been complicit. 
As an American resident of Britain, I am an immigrant myself. Perhaps I can never quite regard the UK as home either, so that on my yearly trips to New York City I would like to relish returning somewhere that is. Yet one in four adults in New York today does not speak English. The recreation area where I once hit a tennis ball against a backboard in Riverside Park has now been colonised by immigrants from Guatemala. The last few times I practised my forehand, I drew wary looks and felt unwelcome. I don't practise there any more, and I resent that a bit. Does that make me a bigot? In a story, would I look bad?

Surely fiction could stand to render as passably sympathetic an unease - or even fury - at being made to feel a foreigner in one's own country. In the face of mainstream disquiet over immigration, most centrist politicians abdicate to the venomous rightwing. By likewise failing to engage with understandably primal reactions to the compromise of one's home, fiction writers may abdicate the role of comforter and champion to future Jean Raspails of a subtler, more beguiling stripe. Literarily, readers are being cheated, for filling in only one side of the equation deprives a compelling modern drama of its delicious complexity.
She hadn't heard of Houellebecq in 2006. Now her novels are being compared with his.
And good writers can be idiots.
“I really like the idea of this country, and I wish we were more loyal to it,” she said. “I think the initial concept of a place where you could do pretty much whatever you wanted to as long as you didn’t hurt anybody else is positively brilliant. And most countries don’t have ideas. Most countries are just places, and collective histories. And we have an ideology. We have a set of principles. And that is crucial to the very concept of this country.” She was gathering passionate steam. “The country has a concept. I think that is cool.” Even if she were to renounce her citizenship and work to change her accent, the facts of her life would remain the same. She’s glad of that. “There’s nothing wrong with being an American,” she said. “Everyone has to be something.”
Houellebecq is honest; his books are as much about reaction as much as they are reaction. Maybe Shriver's novels are more mature than she is. But most of those attacking her for her ideas would attack Houellebecq for his, and most of those defending her wouldn't defend him. Art's a bitch

Saturday, September 10, 2016

"basket of deplorables"
Don't Punch Down
Even if the pathetic little bastards below you deserve it.
by Atrios at 09:07
"I like Hillary Clinton."  Click on Again

Minnesota Democrats are taking steps to kick Donald Trump off the state's ballot, arguing that the Minnesota Republican Party improperly put Trump's name on there.
Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin filed a legal petition with the state Supreme Court looking to remove Trump from the ballot.

"The Minnesota GOP did not elect to elect alternate presidential electors at the state convention earlier this year. After being notified that they had failed to provide the names of alternative electors by the Secretary of State’s office, Republicans decided to appoint alternate electors in a closed-door meeting rather than electing them. This is violation of state law,"...
repeats of repeats of repeats. The full text is transcribed below (I'm sure there are typos).

10 months before the founding of Israel.
Clifton Daniel,"Palestine Jews Minimize Arabs", The New York Times, March 20th 1947
Sure of Superiority, Settlers Feel They Can Win Natives by Reason or Force 
JERUSALEM, March 19—Palestine's Zionists are generally confident that relations with their Arab neighbors can be satisfactorily adjusted once the country's political status has been settled.

If not confident, they rarely allow themselves to be troubled by the problem, being usually preoccupied with issues that they consider more urgent. That attitude, which has been manifested in numerous conversations that I have had in the past three weeks with everyday citizens of all degrees, has developed in spite of the fact that the presence of the Arab majority is fundamentally the largest obstacle to the achievement of Zionism's national aims. 
It is an attitude shared by almost everyone, no matter which of the many proposed political solutions he may advocate. A non-party professional man of Rehovoth summarized it when he said: "Give us time, give us peace and give us a policy."

Surprised at Mention 
Talking to Jews in ordinary walks of life—not Zionist leaders—one gets the definite impression that relations with the Arabs are not among their major concerns. Some were even surprised that in the present circumstances the subject should be discussed.

Their unconcern seems to be the product of several factors. First of all, they feel, although not boastfully, that as a people they are superior to the Arabs in skill and education. "Look at an Arab village and a Jewish settlement side by side," one of them remarked recently. "There is a difference of 200 or 300 years." 
Another man stated the difference more bluntly when he described the Western Jew as bearing the same relation to the Oriental Arab as the white man to the native in a colonial system. Some of the chauvinistic youth carry this feeling of superiority so far as to despise the Arab as an inferior.

Whatever the degree of their superiority complex, however, the Jews are certainly confident of their ability to bring the Arabs to terms—by persuasion if possible, by might if necessary. The program of the largest terrorist group, the Irgun Zvai Leurni, is to evacuate the British forces from Palestine and declare a Zionist state west of the Jordan, and "we will take care of the Arabs."

Some of this display of confidence may be whistling in the dark. In any case the usual emphasis is not on might but on persuasion. There appears to be a sincere belief among Zionists that their settlement in Palestine has conferred large and tangible bene-fits on the indigenous population.' Everyone can cite an example from his own experience.

"I would be deceiving you if told you that we consciously think about improving the condition of, the Arabs all the time," one man told me. "Naturally we devote our first and best efforts td our own people coining from Europe. We help the Arabs incidentally —largely by example. As a result of our example they are freeing themselves from feudalism."

Some Arabs Are Grateful

The Zionists are convinced that the Arabs are grateful for the improvements introduced by Jews and would so express themselves if not incited by the politicians to make a show of hostility.

Wherever ordinary Arabs are left to their own inclinations, Zionists frequently tell you, they show themselves friendly. They make a ceremony of welcoming new Jewish settlements, often bringing coffee and food on the first day. They sit side by side with Jews in public Markets, work in Jewish enterprises, buy from Jewish stores in spite of the Arabs' anti-Zionist boycott, and deal with Jewish banks. Their inherent willingness to get along with Jews is the primary article of the Zionists' faith.

Nevertheless, Arab-Jewish relations are admitted by Zionists to be almost entirely commercial. The relationship is usually one of buyer and seller, employer and employee. The cultural gulf, Zionists say, is such that social relationships are virtually impossible. Simple country Arabs sometimes invite their Jewish neighbors to their traditional festivities but the invitations are admittedly seldom returned.

Look for Common Interests

"Wherever there are common interests relations are good," one 'Zionist observed. A young skilled !workman who had joined his Arab 'colleagues in a recent strike against the Iraq Petroleum Company in Haifa explained his cooperation by saying: "We have common interests."

There is a belief that areas of common interest would be enlarged if the political irritant could be removed from Arab-Jewish relations.

A leader of the diamond industry in Tel Aviv contended that substantially enlarging the Jewish community in Palestine was the only way of coming to a settlement with the Arabs. His theory was that the Arabs would either ignore or try to crush a numerically inferior community and that immigration was the only means of bettering the Zionists' bargaining position.

Neither he nor virtually any other Zionist with whom I talked would consider being subject to the Arab majority in Palestine. They wish to feel secure in their culture, religion and economy and to be free to develop a Zionist national home in their own way without restrictions.

Some Jews in Palestine have already attained that feeling of freedom from the restrictive presence of Arabs. In Nevah Ilan the Arab problem did not seem to exist for the young, husky French settlers, mostly veterans of the resistance. Nevah Ilan, established four months ago, is almost literally up in the clouds, and the Arabs are far below. Eager, enthusiastic and optimistic, the settlers are absorbed in the task of restoring life to a barren but beautiful hill. Almost their only contact with their neighbors Has been one visit by an Arab, who showed great interest in their plans and methods.

Tel Aviv Self-Contained

The all-Jewish metropolis of Tel Aviv is self-contained and separated from the rest of the country. The average resident has no daily contact with the majority element, of the country—a fact that is probably true of most Jews in Palestine. Tel Aviv residents do not worry about the Arab problem, a young journalist there said. They do not consider it insurmountable. "Perhaps we do not have enough contact with the Arabs," a business man mused somewhat self-reproachingly.

Friday, September 09, 2016

I thought I linked to this before but I can't find it.
"Feminism, Gender Pluralism, and Gender Neutrality: Maybe it’s time to bring back the binary"
In the last decade, movements for transgender equality appear to have advanced with astonishing speed, while other issues of concern to women’s movements have largely stalled, either making little progress (equal pay) or suffering real setbacks (abortion access). From policy reforms to public opinion trends, it seems that the situation has changed faster, and in a more positive direction, for trans people than for women. (And yes, of course I include trans women in the category of “women.”) This apparent gap may be exacerbated in the United States: at the conclusion of the culture wars of the last forty years, the almost inseparable bond between movements for sexual and gender freedom that marked liberationist discourse of the 1970s has been torn asunder, reconstituted through the logic of an identity politics that affirms the demands for recognition of sexual and gender minorities but finds the misogyny that still structures all women’s lives less intelligible, outside the scope of the liberal project of inclusion. One 2015 poll (PDF), for example, found that 72 percent of the millennial generation in the United States favor laws banning discrimination against transgender people—a proportion very close to the 73 percent who support protections for gay and lesbian people. But only 55 percent of this generation, born between 1980 and 2000, say abortion should be legal in all (22 percent) or some (33 percent) cases.
Paisley Currah, and Jack Halberstam. Self-made men, "self-made women" and the failure of neoliberalism.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Marya Schechtman is a Professor of Philosophy and a member of UIC’s Laboratory of Integrated Neuroscience. She specializes in the philosophy of personal identity, with special attention to the connection between ethical and metaphysical identity questions. She also works on practical reasoning and the philosophy of mind, and has an interest in Existentialism, bioethics, and philosophy and technology....

MS: There are many different problems that might be called the problem of personal identity. As I put it elsewhere, the question “Who am I?” might be asked either by an amnesia victim or a confused adolescent, and it is a different question in each case. When we think about questions of personal identity in everyday life we tend to think more about the kinds of questions that would be raised by the adolescent – questions about what we truly believe, value, and desire, or where we fit into the world. While philosophers certainly do talk about these issues, “the problem of personal identity” in analytic philosophy usually brings to mind something more like the amnesic’s question. It is a question about what makes someone at age 60 the same person she was at age 15, despite all the many ways in which she might have changed. This question of personal identity is a specific instance of a more general and very ancient worry about the conditions under which complex objects persist through change. If I replace the boards of a wooden ship gradually over many years until I have a ship that has no wood in common with the original is it still the same ship? What if I replace 30% all at once? 50%? What if I take it apart and fly the planks across the country and build a ship just like the first out of them, is it the same ship as the original? What if I divide the original boards in half and build two ships, each with half of the original boards and half new boards? You get the idea. These are the general kinds of puzzles about the identity of objects that philosophers ask. The problem of personal identity is seen as a special case of this general investigation, just as the question of boat identity is.
The absolute inability of "philosophers" to map out the history (Nietzsche would call it a genealogy) of their own interests. The drift away from absolutes towards the documentation of personal experience.

new tags both overdue: The Discovery of Experience, and Drift

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

But evidence has overtaken Chomsky’s theory, which has been inching toward a slow death for years. It is dying so slowly because, as physicist Max Planck once noted, older scholars tend to hang on to the old ways: “Science progresses one funeral at a time.”
Rationalists rationalize
The idea that we have brains hardwired with a mental template for learning grammar—famously espoused by Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—has dominated linguistics for almost half a century. Recently, though, cognitive scientists and linguists have abandoned Chomsky’s “universal grammar” theory in droves because of new research examining many different languages—and the way young children learn to understand and speak the tongues of their communities. That work fails to support Chomsky’s assertions.

The research suggests a radically different view, in which learning of a child’s first language does not rely on an innate grammar module. Instead the new research shows that young children use various types of thinking that may not be specific to language at all—such as the ability to classify the world into categories (people or objects, for instance) and to understand the relations among things. These capabilities, coupled with a unique hu­­­man ability to grasp what others intend to communicate, allow language to happen. The new findings indicate that if researchers truly want to understand how children, and others, learn languages, they need to look outside of Chomsky’s theory for guidance....

Retreats to this type of claim are common in declining scientific paradigms that lack a strong em­­pirical base—consider, for instance, Freudian psychology and Marxist interpretations of history.
The last is bit is lazy and stupid. Chomsky's philosophy is anti-psychologcal, anti-materialist, anti-empirical in theory and in factMarx and Freud will be read long after Chomsky's linguistics are forgotten.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

"Jennifer Wright is a contributor to the New York Observer and the New York Post, covering sex and dating. She was one of the founding editors of TheGloss​.­com, and her writing regularly appears in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Maxim. Her breakup cure is gin, reruns of 30 Rock, and historical biographies. She lives and loves very happily in New York City."

She's the author of It Ended Badly. 13 of the Worst Breakups in History."

The three photographs at the top: Claire Denis,  Nelly Quettier and Agnes Godard. They've all made movies with women who pose for magazine covers.

By what measure is Beyoncé Knowles a feminist icon?
repeat from 2012

Like Tarantino and von Trier, a movie about actors and the theater;  a moral defense of illusion, fiction, mimesis, lies, the hair of the dog that bites you every minute you're alive.

Kylie Minogue was recommended to Carax by Claire Denis.
Edith Scob is famous for her role in Eyes Without a Face
continuing. UChicago and safe spaces. The comments On Farrell's post gone from bad to worse.
repeats, here and here and the relevant tag.
censorship |ˈsɛnsəʃɪp|
noun [ mass noun ]
1 the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security: the regulation imposes censorship on all media |[as modifier]: we have strict censorship laws.
Logical corollaries/matched mistakes: referring to the act of shouting someone down as censorship; claiming that shouting someone down is protected free speech.

And a post that made me laugh. I was wondering when someone was going to say it
This is the elephant in the room: At Chicago, humiliation is not something that is only meted out to victims of rape or people of color. The university has a rich history of relentless, badgering meanness — both in how its faculty treat each other, and in how they treat its students. And this attitude has been a part of the institution for a long time.

Monday, September 05, 2016

These are days of grave disillusionment with the state of the world. Sinister forces of fanatical, faith-based killing – something that we in the West, at least, thought had largely ended by 1750 – are back. And they have been joined by and are reinforcing forces of nationalism, bigotry, and racism that we thought had been largely left in the ruins of Berlin in 1945.
It's to be expected at this point that no commenter brings up the history of western support before and after 1945 for "sinister forces of fanatical, faith-based killing", religious conservatives against modernizers, and dictators against democracy. I could post the a google Ngram for postcolonialism, but it's unnecessary.

Someone should ask DeLong point blank if the lives of people in the west matter more to him than lives elsewhere. I won't be surprised when he says yes, but they will, and that's the problem.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Catholic Hospital Denies Transgender Man a Hysterectomy on Religious Grounds
For Evan Minton, the hysterectomy was a step toward becoming his “most authentic self.” The surgery, scheduled to take place on Tuesday of this week, would pave the way for a phalloplasty that Minton had set for November. He needed three months to recover between the two surgeries.

“For transgender people there’s all sorts of ways that they take to be their most authentic self, and for me, my journey dictates that I have medical intervention,” Minton, 35, told Rewire. “At this point in the path my body is calling out for bottom surgery.”

According to Minton, a hospital representative called him on Sunday to review pre- and post-operative instructions. Minton asked that a note be made in his records about his use of male pronouns.

Then on Monday, a day before the surgery, Minton’s doctor called to deliver the news: the surgery was cancelled. The Catholic hospital where it was set to take place—Dignity Health Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, California—said Minton’s hysterectomy would conflict with its religious rules.

Minton said he was “heartbroken.”

“I was in my parents’ bedroom, and I threw myself on the floor, just crying uncontrollably … because it hurt so bad, and then also because the timeline of this procedure is so important,” Minton said. “The waiting list to get the phalloplasty, if I were to reschedule, is anywhere from nine months to two years out.”

Minton’s doctor, Lindsey Dawson, said it was difficult breaking the news to Minton.

“I went into the other room and cried for a minute,” Dawson told Rewire.

Dawson says she has performed many hysterectomies at the same hospital. In fact, Dawson says the hospital declined to cancel another hysterectomy she had scheduled for that same day.

“In general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) and the medical staff bylaws,” a Dignity Health spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available.”

Catholic hospitals make up a growing percentage of the health-care landscape, with one in six acute-care hospital beds nationwide now in Catholic-owned or -affiliated facilities. Generally, these institutions follow religious directives issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which restrict access to reproductive health care and describe abortion and “direct sterilization” as “intrinsically evil.”

“I know the Catholic directives very well,” Dawson told Rewire. “I read them again before I scheduled Evan’s case, and there was nothing that I could see in there that precluded this case from happening, because, of course, I think dysphoria is a serious and present pathology.”

That’s also how Minton describes it.

“The longer that I wait to take the next step, the dysphoria heightens, and so what this dysphoria feels like is, I want to crawl out of my skin,” Minton said. “And sometimes I can feel the regions on my body that are female, and it feels so extremely uncomfortable. It’s a horrendous nightmare that I don’t wish anyone else to have to go through.”...
pathology |pəˈTHäləjē|
the science of the causes and effects of diseases, especially the branch of medicine that deals with the laboratory examination of samples of body tissue for diagnostic or forensic purposes.
• Medicine pathological features considered collectively; the typical behavior of a disease: the pathology of Huntington's disease.
• Medicine a pathological condition: the dominant pathology is multiple sclerosis.
• mental, social, or linguistic abnormality or malfunction: the city's inability to cope with the pathology of a burgeoning underclass.
The example in the last ("a burgeoning underclass") surprised me. You can see the dip in popularity beginning in the early 80s.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

He followed it with another one. "This kid's mom had him hold this sign up to discourage African refugees from reproducing."

I tweeted a response: "Quite an image, for all the times I hear about Israelis being white"
And another, a while later: "It's funny, I got a lot of profile clicks, obv. people wanting to get in my face because I'm a Zionist. Then they see I'm not."