Friday, September 28, 2018

It was more proof feminism is dead.
Whether you believed her or not, whether she was assaulted or not, whether she was unambiguously offered the chance to testify in California or Washington or Timbuktu, Christine Blasey Ford made one thing painfully clear in her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and that was her genuine, almost desperate desire to please. 
It was heartbreaking to watch — as heartbreaking, in its way, as her testimony itself.
She wanted to be liked. The Democrats want to be liked. Republicans want to win.

Ford and Kavanaugh, Democrats and Republicans: couples, abusers and victims, all of them with money to spare.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Three pages (approximate match to the US edition) from Todd's Who is Charlie?

"Individualist egalitarianism" opposing "cooperation and mutual aid". He's so much more sophisticated than Anglo-American pedants. He seems not to like Bourdieu much; that's always a plus.

He sees the ambiguities of communication of which intellectualism is merely a rarified example, a rarified form of social life.  He's a "continental" thinker.

repeats: Egalitarianism as an idea, individualism as a fact.

etc.  etc.

"If her interests have the same value as his, then my interests must have the same value as yours."

Why bother opening the door for anyone? Why bother with courtesy?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Divided consciousness"

"Irony is the glory of slaves."  Milosz

Du Bois.
After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
But bragging is a common vice, and a more specific, and also more decisive, flaw in Eichmann's character was his almost total inability ever to look at anything from the other fellow's point of view. Nowhere was this flaw more conspicuous than in his account of the Vienna episode. He and his men and the Jews' were all "pulling together," and whenever there were any difficulties the Jewish functionaries would come running to him "to unburden their hearts," to tell him "all their grief and sorrow," and to ask for his help.
A repeat

File under Trolley Problems. A soldier explains what Oxbridge philosophers can't. It's a sign of how far we've fallen that it has to be explained at all.
A thousand years ago when I was about to begin my military career, a wise old retired Marine colonel, a veteran of the carnage at Tarawa, gave me some advice. Paraphrased here, he said
So you want to be a career soldier? Good for you. But remember that the longer you stay in uniform, the less you will really understand about the country you protect. Democracy is the antithesis of the military life; it’s chaotic, dishonest, disorganized, and at the same time glorious, exhilarating and free — which you are not.

After a while, if you stay in, you’ll be tempted to say, “Look, you civilians, we’ve got a better way. We’re better organized. We’re patriotic, and we know what it is to sacrifice. Be like us.” And you’ll be dead wrong, son. If you’re a career soldier, you may defend democracy, but you won’t understand it or be part of it. What’s more, you’ll always be a stranger to your own society. That’s the sacrifice you’ll be making.
"A military in service to a democracy is an authoritarian order in service to a free one: every soldier is simultaneously both a soldier and a citizen." A living breathing contradiction in terms. Before we negotiate with others we negotiate with ourselves.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Kieran Healy
I wonder when potential interviewees are going to start picking up on the fact that Chotiner's column is called "Interrogation" and that he's really very good at it.
The same response from Amia Srinivasan, an earnest, hip, young Oxbridge philosopher.
@IChotiner's interview with Ian Buruma on the NYRB's publication of Jian Ghomeshi's mea culpa is so deeply telling
Interrogation: Why Did the New York Review of Books Publish That Jian Ghomeshi Essay?
We Asked the Editor.

This on the same day The Economist had a polite sit-down with Steve Bannon. The New Yorker was forced to cancel; The Economist stood on principle, principles identical to the principles that govern academia.

repeats: Healy, and his wife

That's why I called it The Discovery of Experience.

On twitter I tried to connect people responding to Bannon to people talking about Buruma and Ghomeshi.  It didn't work. I added my usual points, except I used the word phenomenology.

Isaac Chotiner interrogated Ian Buruma as Marie Henein interrogated the victims of Jian Ghomeshi.
It's a messy business and it needs to be. As I said a few times, if Bannon were questioned as he needs to be he'd walk off the stage. And since people were paying money for the privilege of sitting in the audience that wasn't going to happen. But that's not the reason they used. They take themselves far too seriously to be so honest.
The university belongs, like the church and the military, to the social institutions that are situated at a considerable distance from democracy and adhere to premodern power structures.
Lawyers are craftspeople; craft is empiricism: watching, responding, pushing, digging, even into the minds of others against their will. Interrogation is not a dialogue. Dialogue is for elites; democracy is adversarial. "Lawyers, not judges, are the rule of law."

A new tag for Henein and her client.