Thursday, September 29, 2022

Turkey: from polarisation to pluralism 

On September 5th Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, the social-democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP), announced his willingness to run as a presidential candidate in next year’s election—should the centrist electoral alliance of which the CHP is part agree.

Besides the social democrats, that opposition ‘Nation Alliance’ includes nationalists, conservatives, Islamists and liberals. The six parties to it have pledged to overhaul the current constitution, which gives unchecked powers to the president, restoring power to the parliament and securing the autonomy of the judiciary.

The polls show that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, president since 2014, has lost ground and that the candidate of a unified, centrist opposition stands a realistic chance of winning. Erdoğan’s economic policies have impoverished the broad masses: consumer inflation exceeds 80 per cent and the number of poor increased by 3.2 million during the last two years, reaching ten million. While in 2012 per capita income exceeded $12,000, it has since fallen by a third.
repeats of repeats of repeats: 
The Islamic revolution in Iran and the rise of the AKP  created the middle class that made these changes possible. Apart from rhetoric, there's nothing radical about the protests in Iran. That's their strength.

The flipped image is interesting (the Balenciaga hoodie). It looks better this way, but that's another subject. The whole thing's staged, probably by a professional. No crowds, they're signaling at a mostly empty street. The symmetry, the $700 hoodie and leather bags. The short hair and the chador flowing down the back of the head is a nice detail. (source

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

rewriting sentences

Héloïse Godet, on Godard 

I remember, while we were shooting some scenes of “Goodbye to Language” in Jean-Luc Godard’s own house, the protocol had us enter through the backdoor, which they called the “entrance of the artists.”...

When we heard Godard enter his house through the main door, with a big wrought-iron key, we joined him in his small living room....

“Feel free to check out any of my books, as long as you put them back where they belong.”

To be honest, his natural authority could be rather challenging at times. The set was silent and focused. Dedicated. But his steel attitude would occasionally melt into a warm smile. He came up with funny jokes or proved extremely thoughtful towards us. When that happened, I remember feeling relieved, and finding him absolutely endearing....

He really had his ways that I never experienced elsewhere! For example, here’s how he directed actors: He gave Kamel and me an abstract art painting as a representation of our characters.... But he made sure to ask: “Do you have any questions?” And he added: “No, you won’t have any.”...

Godard was composing his painting and the bodies of actors were like one color among others in an experimental narrative.

When he directed me physically, he explained each gesture clearly, like a choreographer, and scenes were launched by this signal: “I say go, you count to three, and you go. So… Go.”

As he was so playful, I now wonder if he counted until three before his own final “Go.” Rest in Peace, Jean-Luc Godard.

I remember an image of Danielle Huillet, sitting on the floor during rehearsals, elbows in her lap, hands together, fingers together pointed up, then clapping to begin a scene. It was a gesture of authority, casual from repetition. Film is not a democratic medium. It's less democratic than theater—there's less room for it—and the asceticism of Straub-Huillet is monastic. Philosophy is authoritarian by definition. If radicalism can mean democratic, Catholic radicalism is an oxymoron.

Reading and listening to discussions of Godard. It's going to be a while till history separates the brilliance from the idiocy. And I still love the idiocy.

Fredric Jameson, at Sidecar, the first and last paragraphs—the nostalgia for his own past, the long hangover.

After decades in which inscrutable titles signed Godard popped up as regularly as clockwork in the film festivals, while the image of their maker deteriorated from rebel into dirty old man, if not technologically obsessed sage, it is stunning, leafing through the filmographies, to remember how much these films counted as events for us as we waited for each new and unexpected one in the 1960s, how intensely we scrutinized the political engagements of the Dziga Vertov group, with what genuinely engaged curiosity we asked ourselves what the end of the political period would bring, and later on what we were to do with the final works of the ‘humanist’ period, where they came from, and whether they meant a falling off or a genuine renewal....

He lived, ate, breathed, slept movies. Was he the greatest movie-maker of all time? A party game question. What he was, if anything, was Cinema itself, cinema rediscovered at its moment of disappearing. If cinema really is dying, then he died with it; or better still, it died with him.

"I have always confused cinema with life." The schoolboy believes the world ends when he does. It doesn't.  And movies aren't dead. 

The jump cuts in Godard, like the awkwardness in Picasso and Schoenberg's move to serialism: the need to indulge and undermine the root impulse towards melodrama: from id to superego, from childishness to condemnation—or distance, mannered in James and Eliot, or not, in Cezanne. The move to abstraction beginning in fear, the insecurity of boys. It's not true for everyone, Turner, Degas, Mallarmé.


There's an attitude in Godard, despite the assertions of wanting to converse, that says, Don't argue or cross me about such things. And this book does not alter the notion of his brilliant immaturity. The most fascinating point of all applies more broadly than to Godard; it reaches out to anyone who believes that film is more important than the world. Maybe film is not the great new language of engagement with the world that Bazin hoped it would be. Perhaps it is, instead, a vehicle more suited to dreaming, sensationalism and not wanting to grow up. Perhaps language--the construct of words--was always subtler, deeper and more humane. 

"Expressionism is the emotion escaping the denial of emotion; it’s  the melodrama behind positivism, from Vienna to Weimar. In the atomic age, of technocratic order and annihilation, it’s the relation of Strangelove to von Neumann."

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Dawn, "Leading Iran cleric calls on authorities to ‘listen to people’"
The leaders must listen to the demands of the people, resolve their problems and show sensitivity to their rights,” said Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani in a statement posted on his website Sunday.

The powerful 97-year-old cleric has long been aligned with the country’s ultra-conservative establishment and strongly backed supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on several occasions — notably during the 2009 protests against the reelection of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Any insult to the sanctities and any attack on the rights of the people and public property are condemned,” Hamedani added.

At least 41 people have been killed since the protests began on September 16, mostly protesters but including security forces, according to an official toll.


Crowds significant & countrywide, but even if we’re still unclear on exact numbers, little doubt myriad both within Iran & diaspora in deep sympathy w/ humane & democratic impulse of movement but reluctant 2 join becoz have no illusions about extreme violence #Iran state capable.

Movement is repudiation of #Iran’s state as patriarch inter pares & assumed right 2 control women’s bodies on basis of Islamic jurisprudence & regulate social order; repudiation of gender politics & social cleavages Islamists capitalised upon 2 entrench their regime in 1st place.

We can think of this revolution in qualitative terms, an eruption to the surface of profound transformation of norms, values & ideals of huge swathe of #Iran society. Missed entirely if all one does is look at crowd sizes or fact regime hasn’t fallen & been replaced by new elite.

While I’m doubtful this regime is going anywhere in short to medium term, its days are numbered like never before. What the outcome will be, I have little idea, but the status quo has proven itself not only untenable, but intolerable for millions of #Iran’ians and we must listen.

"Masih" Alinejad.  
"How are more people not talking about the fact that she changed her name to 'messiah?"
Compare the New Yorker, 2013
"How The Trump Administration Is Exploiting Iran’s Burgeoning Feminist Movement"

The protests have served a different purpose in the United States. As headlines across the world have heralded #TheGirlsofRevolutionStreet as Iran’s #MeToo movement, the Trump Administration has deployed the cause as part of its campaign to isolate the Islamic Republic and promote regime change in Tehran. From the moment that the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, has put Iranian women at the center of the Administration’s new strategy. In a major policy speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, Pompeo said that Iranian women’s protests were evidence of a growing divide between Iranians and their government. “The brutal men of the regime seem to be particularly terrified by Iranian women who are demanding their rights,” he said. “As human beings with inherent dignity and inalienable rights, the women of Iran deserve the same freedoms that the men of Iran possess.”

Pompeo has since become the most outspoken Secretary of State in U.S. history on the subject of Iranian women’s struggle for equality. On his Twitter account, Pompeo released an eerie graphic of a miniature Movahed, in front of a glowing Iranian flag, that noted the number of women jailed for protesting the hijab. Another tweet featured a line graph showing a surge in protests superimposed over the image of a woman with her fist in the air. “Hmm… Can this be explained?” he asked. The graph gave no source for the data, and the y-axis was unlabelled. When reporters pressed Heather Nauert, a State Department spokesperson, to share the origin of the information, she referred vaguely to “U.S. government sources.” 

Monday, September 26, 2022

repeats, without comment this time.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

If this keeps up, we're going to die.

"I don’t understand this discourse. Should Putin use nuclear weapon, we’ll be dead." 

Western capitals are making contingency plans should Vladimir Putin take steps towards acting on his threats of nuclear attacks against Ukraine and are sending private warnings to the Kremlin about possible consequences, according to western officials.

The Russian president’s nuclear warnings are “a matter that we have to take deadly seriously,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS on Sunday.

“We have communicated directly, privately at very high levels to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the United States and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail,” he said.

This is probably the most delicate phase of this decades-long game of chicken”

Putin's losing, and if he uses tactical nukes it means he’s lost. Al Qaeda was never weaker than the day after the attack. This is all so obvious to anyone who thinks. There's no Hitler comparison. Putin's committing suicide; we shouldn't join him.

Alinejad supports sanctions and yesterday was protesting outside the UN backed by people waving the flag of the monarchy. And marchers in Iran are calling for a return to what the revolution promised. 

obvious repeats: The US, Israel and the Gulf monarchies don't want a democratic Iran; they want a weak Iran. Which is why As'ad AbuKhalil spent days downplaying the protests.
Not only were the contents of the sermon and the method of its delivery wholly in tune with Britain’s historical efforts to buttress the Ottoman Caliphate and then its stillborn attempts to recreate one in Mecca, but it also resonated strongly with the White House’s plans for Saudi Arabia’s Ibn Saud to become ‘the great gookety gook of the Muslim world’ and a counterweight to Gamal Abdel Nasser.

There are more Jews in Iran than in any other country in the ME outside Israel, and I'd rather be a Jew in Iran than a Palestinian in Gaza. Iran is more democratic than any of Israel's regional allies, and I'd rather have a chastened regime than its overthrow. That's how politics works.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

I remembered this 

Danish government likely to exempt Ukrainians from controversial refugee ‘jewellery law’

A controversial law allowing Danish authorities to confiscate valuable items from refugees is unlikely to be applied to Ukrainians who seek protection in the Nordic country.


So fucking stupid. The best way to undermine Putin's war effort is open the borders and broadcast the news. This is the reverse. 
And the article is wrong. Almut Rochowanski:
Immigration officers DON'T decide at the border whether a claim for asylum has merit. Anyone who asks for asylum at the border must be admitted. Their case is then reviewed in detail, with lawyers etc. Frustrating the media keep getting this wrong.

I also find it annoying and worrying that EU officials act like they can, whenever they wish, for political expediency, decide who gets asylum, for which reasons. This is not in their power. The right to asylum is binding international, EU and national law, with clear criteria.
Lithuanian FM

I wanted to say "at least it's not just racism" but Russians aren't really European. Right?

Friday, September 23, 2022

There are bigger things going on, but I started this,...

Both the TikTok videos are below. repeat: Elizabeth Hardwick from 1971

Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Medical Director, The Center for Transyouth Health and Development, Children's Hospital, Los Angeles, on double mastectomies for 13 year olds: 
"If you want breasts at a later point in life you can go and get them." The video is a repeat

Boston Children's Hospital refers to (gender-affirming) double mastectomies as "chest reconstruction" and sets the age limit at 15. The search terms  "body dysphoria" turned up nothing, so an insecure girl who wants implants is out of luck. A boy who wants tits can get them, and the age is the same: 15. There are no "medically necessary" nose jobs, but feminizing a jaw line is covered, but again, only for boys. 
Watch these two videos. They're heartbreaking

Arguing about this is like arguing with Zionists. I could use other examples. People are weak and they make commitments. 

This is the woman who posted the video that Matt Walsh shared. "Radfem. Proud lesbian."  I could quibble; for all I know she's a Zionist. She may be American—I don't know that either—but I know she knows that in the UK attraction based on biology, homosexuality, is defined as "transphobic." She links to Colin Wright, who writes for Quillette, and who equates "gender ideology" and CRT, and to Alison Bailey for whom CRT is a given. 
But the fact that this is on Fox is interesting.
The protests are astonishing in their scope and also the bravery of protestors. Many are women who have removed their scarves to protest the mandatory veiling law

Many veiled women have also joined in, disgusted by the use of Islam and religion as a weapon to punish other women:

One of the most common chants has been:

Zan, Zendegy, Azadi
Woman, Life, Freedom

Pointing to the central place of women in the cause and the demonstrations themselves:

In another iconic slogan, protestors chant: "Down with the oppressor, whether it is a Shah or a Rahbar"

Here they condemn both the pre-1979 Pahlavi royal dictatorship as well as the post-1979 Islamic Republic, refusing the binary of Iranian politics

As in many past waves of protests in Iran, university students are at the center of the uprising

Major protests are breaking out in campuses across the country, despite the presence of repressive forces and potentially severe consequences for students

Across the country, Basiji and anti-riot forces have attacked and arrested protestors, beating people indiscriminately in the streets.

In many places, protestors have responded in turn, attacking and overpowering agents of repression:

After beginning in cities of Iranian Kurdistan, the region Mahsa Amini was from, the protests have spread to Tehran and even smaller regional cities like Rasht:

A heartening sign is the solidarity from many segments of Iranian society, religious and non-religious

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Watching lawyers examining the 11th Circuit decision, picking apart Cannon's, is watching the picking part of form, in the same sense that lawyers praised the DOJ briefs as well crafted.

Leiter links to a 1977 article in the NYT about Kripke.

When Saul Kripke was 3 years old, he walked into the kitchen of his home in Omaha, Neb., and asked his mother if God is truly everywhere. Dorothy Kripke said yes, whereupon the child asked if this meant he had squeezed part of God out of the kitchen by corning in and taking up some of His space. “I Was startled that Saul already seemed to have an intuitive grasp of the notion that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time,” recalls Mrs. Kripke. “I found that a sharp question for a 3‐year old “

The Kripke parents soon discovered signs that their son was more than sharp. He was, in fact, possessed of an awesome gift. “It really began to dawn on me when Saul was in the fourth grade,” says his father, Rabbi Myer Kripke. “He came in one day with some numbers he had been playing with. He showed me two numbers. He had multiplied their sum by the difference between them, and he got the same answer as he did when he subtracted the square of the smaller one from the square of the larger one. He said that would be true of any two numbers. For a long time I didn't understand what he was saying, but then I realized that he was expressing something I knew from algebra: That (a + b)(a ‐ b) = a? ‐ b? I was excited but also a little frightened. He had no concept of algebra at that time, and he knew nothing of algebraic notation. He had just seen the idea. By the sixth or seventh grade he had gone through most of algebra that way.” Says Mrs. Kripke: “Saul once told me he would have invented algebra if it hadn't already been invented, because he came upon it naturally.”

Graeber used to tell this story, though I never knew the source, and David used to invent things so I never knew if it was true. But he simplified it, and improved it. But it was the father not the mother. "Daddy, where's God?" "Saul, God is everywhere". "If God is everywhere, why doesn't he displace something?" 

Kripke was a pure scholastic, a pure formalist. He would be at home and would lead in any debate about angels and pinheads: formal logic predicated on assumed foundations: angels or can openers  The question is the relation of his brilliance to historical importance. Form and representation are distinct and inseparable; that's where it gets tough.

David said that the history of Chinese scroll painting was the history of copies, because the originals were never valued and were lost, so that the art was always of the present. That was his fantasy. I'd call it a lie, but he was lying to himself.

The politics of fantasy is reactionary. I've been saying that since I was a teenager.

Determinism wins. 

Hobbits and the Hard Right

ROME — Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit. 

The politics of cosplay 

The writing of cosplay is speculative fiction, like John Rawls and Isaac Asimov. The writing of "literary fiction", detective fiction and romance novels, is formal and descriptive. Jane Austen described the experience of 19th century women of a specific nationality, class, and race.  Romance novels serve a function as a fantasy that readers build on. The "art" the "thick description" is after-the-fact, in the minds of the readers. Fantasy is thin by definition. 


If I believed in the primacy of ideas, I'd have a hard time figuring who did more damage to the western and then global intellectual tradition in the post war era: Tolkien, Rawls, or the inventors of Dungeons and Dragons. But in the end of course they'd all follow von Neumann.


Someone on twitter made an "alignment chart" for members of her Marx reading group and I realized I'd never looked up the origins. No surprises. [The origin of D&D in desktop military games]


When met him he read Robert Graves and worshipped the White Goddess. He never stopped being a fantasist. He's one of the reasons I went from having no interest in Dungeons and Dragons to actively hating it. [Graeber]


I say Rawls is Tolkien; Raymond Geuss says Rawls is Rand.


Conceptualism is the intellectualism of preadolescence: imagination before experience, before the influence of sex, and the knowledge of death. The philosophy of D&D is post-war rationalism seen through the eyes of the readers of L. Frank Baum. It's T.S. Eliot without despair and Borges without Nihilism. It's the pathology of cute, and the optimism of the designers of World of Warcraft.


My anger again is not directed at economics or at science in general, but at those who put the cart before the horse, who try to predict and therefore control the future without understanding their relation to the past. Great literature as great art looks backwards; it's retrospective. The mythologies that modern writers of fantasy enjoy so much and try to emulate—and which in doing so they misunderstand entirely—are not products of intention. Their stock characters are not illustrations of ideas but as James Merrill would say are like stones worn smooth by time, the stories like a reduction on a flame.

If you can't tell the difference between the 19th century and the 15th, or how one cannot be used to represent the other—if you can't tell cloying sentimentality from moral seriousness—I don't know what to tell you.

 2002. My first mention of Tolkien. I was repeating myself then

I have no particular interest in Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, or Harry Potter, while the author, Chris Mooney, admits to being a fan of all of them, films included. But they're all predicated on a misconception of the value of mythology and of fiction itself: that of the escape 'from' daily life and 'into' Meaning. Fantasy is made up, and the point of mythology is that it's handed down. A myth tells the story of the people who made it. The Bible is the story of its own creation and of laws, and fiction writing as an art is the description of the world and time that made it. As most novelists will tell you, the value of literature is in description, not plot. You don't create depth, you describe it. I read an essay once by a critic who was a fan of Tolkien. [It was Guy Davenport]  He talked about another well known critic who distained him. I forget the names. "He made it all up" the friend said. To my shock the writer added, "I don't know what he meant".  Fantasy writers conflate the value of the story with the plot and by trying to 'create' meaning, end with illustration. 

That was kind of fun. There's a lot more. I repeat myself, too much.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

“This is probably the most delicate phase of this decades-long game of chicken,” said a senior European diplomat.


Shawn Walker, morning 

Is Putin mad enough to go nuclear as things keep going wrong? V much hope not. But curious that some of same people who said “obviously this war was going to happen, you just had to listen to Putin’s own words” now say “don’t listen to his nuclear threats, it’s clearly nonsense”.


The other nuclear states need to say very firmly that as soon as Russia even thinks of carrying out nuclear strikes …there will be swift retaliatory nuclear strikes to destroy the nuclear launch sites in Russia,” Zelenskiy advisor told me in Kyiv today


Max Seddon today 

As he addressed the nation on Wednesday morning to announce a “partial mobilisation” of 300,000 reservists, President Vladimir Putin framed Russia’s war in Ukraine in stark, existential terms. The nation was defending itself against a west that wanted to “weaken, divide and destroy Russia” and it was prepared to use nuclear weapons in response.

 Masx Seddon on March 20 (repeat)

Henry Foy, "West shrugs off Putin’s nuclear ‘bluff’"
Russian president Vladimir Putin’s moves to significantly escalate the war in Ukraine with a thinly veiled reference to his willingness to use nuclear weapons came with a theatrical flourish.
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” he said. “It’s not a bluff.”

Yet that is exactly what western officials made of the bombast.

Putin’s announcements on Wednesday to threaten a nuclear strike, mobilise hundreds of thousands of reservists and rapidly annex parts of Ukraine were a desperate attempt to test the strength of western support for Kyiv, said officials and analysts.

But the nervousness of western capitals about the possible use of weapons of mass destruction by the world’s second-biggest nuclear power, as well as the threats of a drawn-out war and a prolonged period of higher energy and food prices, is outweighed by their resolve to call Putin’s bluff, they added.

“This is probably the most delicate phase of this decades-long game of chicken,” said a senior European diplomat....

Because as always, Americans don't know shit. And as luck would have it, this does double-duty today 

An email "Editor's Note" from the Guardian.
Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, was travelling with her family from Iran’s western province of Kurdistan to the capital, Tehran, to visit relatives when she fell foul of Iran’s notorious morality police. Stopped for failing to meet the required standards for wearing the mandatory hijab, her arrest allegedly turned violent with reports of her being beaten in police custody. Days later, she died in a Tehran hospital.

Her death has sparked a wave of fury on the streets of Iran and across social media that the authorities are now struggling to contain. Three people have been killed in street protests, with the Iranian regime continuing to hold the official line that Amini died of pre-existing medical conditions instead of at the hands of the police who detained her.

Her death is the consequence of an increasingly repressive crackdown on women’s rights across the country, after Iran’s hardline president Ebrahim Raisi launched a new hijab decree mandating stricter enforcement of Iran’s laws on women’s dress in public spaces.

For the past month, the Rights and Freedom team has been reporting on the fallout from Raisi’s crackdown, on the spate of arrests, detentions and public humiliation of women who dared to defy the required dress code. The government has also announced it was planning to use facial recognition technology to identify women flouting dress laws on public transport....

2004, under Khatami. 

2008, under Ahmadinejad.  

repeats (because it's been a while)

Tuesday, September 20, 2022


Aaron M. Danzig, at Arnall Golden Gregory:  "A Tainted Practice? Department of Justice Filter Teams Under Review"

When Michael Avenatti won a mistrial in his wire fraud trial in the Central District of California in August 2021, it was one of the tamer headlines about the infamous suspended lawyer. However, the lack of fanfare belies the significance of the legal issue that led U.S. District Judge James Selna to declare the mistrial. Judge Selna found that the government’s “taint team” had failed to hand over evidence in its possession after a seizure of data from Avenatti’s law offices. Although no willful misconduct was found, the failure to turn the reviewed evidence over materially hindered Avenatti’s ability to defend himself against the government’s charges. This case is one of a number of recent actions to consider the proper use of taint teams, representing a pushback on the government’s handling of privileged materials in investigations.

Boies Schiller Flexner: "In the Eye of the Beholder: The DOJ's Overreliance on 'Taint Teams' to Review Privileged Communications"

The “total institutional failure” of the Department of Justice’s handling of privileged material in the ongoing prosecution of former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng highlights the serious issues with the use of “filter” or “taint” teams, Sabina Mariella and Matthew L. Schwartz at Boies Schiller Flexner argue.— 

The DOJ uses taint teams to review potentially privileged material and determine what may be shared with the team investigating or prosecuting a case, and what must be withheld as privileged. But the practice, which essentially makes prosecutors the sole arbiter of whether communications are privileged, poses serious risks for both the DOJ and private parties. In the last year alone, the use of filter teams has resulted in at least one mistrial in a high-profile prosecution and substantially impaired the defence in another.

The second link from Taibbi, a moralist and not too bright, but that's not the point. David Boies obviously isn't a moralist.
The angriest legal aid lawyer on twitter (so angry he blocked me) said he'd clerked for Dearie. He positively gushes
And then there are the defense attorneys in national security cases. 
Taibbi is happy to be feted by a columnist for WaPo who thinks he Greenwald are heirs to C. Wright Mills. And that Mills would be at home now at the Claremont Institute
“[The power elite] are in command of the major hierarchies and organizations of modern society. They rule the big corporations. They run the machinery of the state and claim its prerogatives. They direct the military establishment. They occupy the strategic command posts of the social structure, in which are now centered the effective means of the power and the wealth and the celebrity which they enjoy.”

Today, that passage could easily appear in a populist-right publication such as the Claremont Institute’s the American Mind, which denounces the liberal “regime.” If uttered on Fox News or Newsmax, it might be condemned as an example of conspiracism or misinformation that sows discord and undermines confidence in institutions.

And Cooper flags Edward Snowden. 

It hasn’t been a month since President Biden mounted the steps of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, declaring it his duty to ensure each of us understands the central faction of his political opposition are extremists that “threaten the very foundations of our Republic.” Flanked by the uniformed icons of his military and standing atop a Leni Riefenstahl stage, the leader clenched his fists to illustrate seizing the future from the forces of “fear, division, and darkness.” The words falling from the teleprompter ran rich with the language of violence, a “dagger at the throat” emerging from the “shadow of lies.” 

It's all childish. Taibbi and Snowden: the earnest moralism of libertarian Holden Caulfield, and Snowden's still in Moscow. Willick is something else—"Before coming to The Post in 2022, he was an editorial writer and assistant editorial features editor for the Wall Street Journal,..."—with the dead smile of a teenage Aspie. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Rather than mount any challenge under the original public meaning of the First Amendment, the Platforms instead focus their attention on Supreme Court doctrine.
It is also true, of course, that evenhanded procedure does not demand unquestioning trust in the determinations of the Department of Justice. Based on the nature of this action, the principles of equity require the Court to consider the specific context at issue, and that consideration is inherently impacted by the position formerly held by Plaintiff. 
The first statement is from the Fifth Circuit decision, the second is from Cannon's decision appointing a special master. The first is being mocked because it's not for a lower court to set precedent but to follow it as set by SCOTUS—the second not only because it goes against the presumption of good faith between branches of government, but because it contradicts the basic principle of equality of citizens under law: Cannon says outright that ex-presidents, or at least this one, deserve deference the rest of us do not.  These and other decisions continue the line of Bush vs Gore and I'm sure some of the justices now would follow along. 

["presumptions of good faith between branches of government." Another norm. Even Taibbi, attacking the DOJ does so on the basis that filtering seized material is the responsibility of the judicial branch, following the principle of non-delegation. The DOJ is a constitutional oddity. National Security Letters are another issue. more here

Power decides what law is, but norms apply within a system. Lawyers are offended by these decisions as a matter of their respect for form. I sent a note to one of them—respected by peers, etc.—reminding him of his response to specific facts concerning another matter, outside the common frame of reference, and he responded dismissively, reporting the exchange to others in a way that grossly misrepresented my point, and ignoring statements of fact as much as Cannon did when she refused to accept the statements of DOJ lawyers who reminded her that Trump's lawyers had never denied that files were classified or stated in court that he'd declassified them.  Dan Sperber calls this "myside bias". I say "no fucking shit". See also Leiter on "implicit bias". He denies it. He really is confused.

The closed system of debate among members of one group is becoming a debate between members of two groups or more. I'm relieved to see defenders of norms. It's the defense of the mainstream against fascism. But it's not a defense of truth.  More importantly I'M NOT INTERESTED IN THE DEFENSE OF TRUTH!  "The politics of truth is always a fantasy of uncorrupted power." It's my line and I'm sticking to it.

The Ghost of Panofsky
Walter Friedlaender, one of Panofsky's teachers and a lifelong friend, related how to Erwin Panofsky's cradle in Hannover there hurried two fairies, Wealth and Intelligence. The third, Good Looks, didn't make it. In her stead came a fairy who said, "Whichever book you open, you will find precisely the passage you need." 

 Saul Kripke died on Friday and I opened a book.  

A common view of the 'private language argument' in Philosophical Investigations assumes that it begins with section 243, and that it continues in the sections immediately following. This view takes the argument to deal primarily with a problem about 'sensation language'. Further discussion of the argument in this tradition, both in support and in criticism, emphasizes such questions as whether the argument invokes a form of the verification principle, whether the form in question is justified, whether it is applied correctly to sensation language, whether the argument rests on an exaggerated scepticism about memory, and so on. Some crucial passages in the discussion following §243—for example, such celebrated sections as §258 and §265—have been notoriously obscure to commentators, and it has been thought that theIr proper interpretation would provide the key to the 'private language argument'.

In my view, the real 'private language argument' is to be found in the sections preceding §243. Indeed, in §202 the conclusion is already stated explicitly: "Hence it is not possible to obey a rule 'privately': otherwise thinking one was obeying a rule would be the same thing as obeying it." 
Kripke omits the first sentence.
202. And hence also 'obeying a rule' is a practice. And to think one is obeying a rule is not to obey a rule. 

[as an aside that reminds me of Henry Farrell, and Gellner, which is amusing.

Al-Ghazali, as quoted by Ernest Gellner, puts Mannheim’s point more pithily – "the genuine traditionalist does not know that he is one; he who proclaims himself to be one, no longer is one."

(Gellner: The quote is from Plough, Sword and Book The Structure of Human History, but his first book was Words and Things, an attack on Wittgenstein and linguistic philosophy, with a foreword by Russell!). 

Tradition: what's a Shakespearean actor in the 21st century, or a soldier fighting for a democracy? And of course, what's a lawyer? But that's where I started this one]

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

We’ll begin with a brief outline of the argument of Kripke’s sceptic. Suppose that I’ve never dealt with numbers larger than 57.[3] (Given our finite nature and the infinitude of the natural number series, there will always in fact be such a number.) I’m asked to perform the computation ‘68 + 57 68 + 57’, and I arrive at the answer ‘125’, which I take to be right. However, a “bizarre skeptic” (Kripke 1982: 8) questions my certainty. She suggests that...

Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, 1982, p. 8 

Now suppose I encounter a bizarre sceptic. This sceptic questions my certainty about my answer, in what I just called the 'metalinguistic' sense. Perhaps, he suggests,...  

And earlier 

Wittgenstein's celebrated argument against 'private language' has been discussed so often that the utility of yet another exposition is certainly open to question. Most of the exposition which follows occurred to the present writer some time ago, in the academic year 1962-3. At that time this approach to Wittgenstein's views struck the present writer with the force of a revelation: what had previously seemed to me to be a somewhat loose argument for a fundamentally implausible conclusion based on dubious and controversial premises now appeared to me to be a powerful argument, even if the conclusions seemed even more radical and, in a sense, more implausible, than before. I thought at that time that I...  

"The present writer", "I",  "he", and "she": Kripke referring to himself switched from the formal third person to the first; the writer for Stanford, in 202-?, switched out the male pronoun from 1982 for the female. These choices have meanings, and any writer or reader—qua writer and reader—is interested in the first, as any historian will be interested in the second. 

"Lawyers don't read that stuff. Lawyers are tradespeople!"  The speaker was a lawyer, and a woman, talking about legal philosophy.

repeats: Quine

Meaning, let us remember, is not to be identified with naming. Frege's example of 'Evening Star' and 'Morning Star' and Russell's of 'Scott' and 'the author of Waverly', illustrate that terms can name the same thing but differ in meaning. The distinction between meaning and naming is no less important at the level of abstract terms. The terms '9' and 'the number of the planets' name one and the same abstract entity but presumably must be regarded as unlike in meaning; for astronomical observation was needed, and not mere reflection on meanings, to determine the sameness of the entity in question.
...A felt need for meant entities may derive from an earlier failure to appreciate that meaning and reference are distinct. Once the theory of meaning is sharply separated from the theory of reference, it is a short step to recognizing as the business of the theory of meaning simply the synonymy of linguistic forms and the analyticity of statements; meanings themselves, as obscure intermediary entities, may well be abandoned.

 'Evening Star' and 'Morning Star', 'Palestine' and 'Israel'. 

I read somewhere that Sraffa lost interest in Wittgenstein, and Wittgenstein kept bugging him.  

And this is his great explicator on matters of jurisprudence, Philip Bobbitt, with Max Boot, Garry Kasparov and Bret Stevens. 

Gellner. Plough, Sword and Book. A longer passage including the quote

Doctrines which ratify culture and enjoin respect for it were common in the nineteenth century. The fortifying, confirming major premiss no longer claims a transcendent object: it is a theory concerning the role, the function, of culture within the world. Durkheim's own doctrine was one example: religion was to be respected not because it was true (in the straightforward sense assumed by the old theologians), but because it was "true" (i.e. essential and functional within the social order). Durkheim let it be understood that "truth" was just as good as truth, in fact the same thing, really. This general attitude might be called auto-functionalism. It is influential in a very wide variety of forms, in historicist, biological, literary, kulturgeschichtlich and other idioms. The auto-functionalist stands outside all cultures to affirm the major premiss: cultures are functional. The minor premiss is stated from inside: I am my culture. Conclusion: my commitments are valid (in a sense left deliberately ambiguous).

These self-vindications of culture are generally spurious. The medieval Muslim thinker Al Ghazzali observed that the genuine traditionalist does not know that he is one; he who proclaims himself to be one, no longer is one. Cultural prose ceases to be innocent when Monsieur Jourdain proclaims it to be prose. When culture was genuinely authoritative, men either took it for granted or, later, vindicated it by means of a theology which they held to be true in a literal sense, and which they genuinely respected. The dogmas and imperatives which constituted those doctrines were taken very seriously; they placed enormous burdens and strains on believers.

It's more stupid than I realized. It's simple anti-intellectualism, Gellner, Farrell, et al.: the pretense of being outside the frame, beyond the world that made you. I added it to the older post.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Powlesland is a Barrister
"Hate speech" and authoritarian moralism.
always repeats: my short list of liberal academic opponents of free speech.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

a repeat The first video I ever cut outside the camera. My general rule since the mid 80s was to shoot something using  internal edits, and then a few weeks later something else, with no connection, until the tape was filled. Cutting with a tech on an early AVID system was basically just removing things. The shooting ratio was about 2/1. 

Ripped from an old DVD. I lost the original file but I still have the footage and I may uprez and recut it to match.
The quality was never good but this is terrible.

Kagarlitsky, Yudin, Ishchenko all say more or less the same thing.  

1) radicals – a sizeable but extremely loud minority that actively supports war, is engaged, follows the news and in rare cases even goes to the frontlines (15-25%). This is the audience of the milbloggers, Telegram channels and vampires like Solovyov or Skabeeva 2/25

2) dissenters – a sizeable minority that categorically opposes the war. It is banned from Russian-based media and generally depressed (20-25%) 3/25

3) laymen – a passive majority that is completely depoliticized and doesn’t want to have anything in common with politics & war (50-65%) 4/25

Laymen are the bulk of yeah-sayers when asked “Do you support the President’s decision to conduct the special military operation or are you a national traitor to be put in prison for 15 years?” 5/25

The laymen are the those carelessly enjoying their lives while people are dying in Ukraine. It is obviously deplorable but the upside of it is that these people are completely unwilling to participate in war actively in any way [dead]  6/25

Laymen try to shield themselves from any news about war as hard as they can and know very little about the defeat in Kharkiv (many of them wouldn’t even tell where Kharkiv is located). The mainstream radio and TV news are protecting them from this information 7/25

Importantly, as TV started promoting hard war propaganda, the viewership went down. Precisely because laymen want their soap operas, nutritionists, and standup, rather than boring news from the frontlines

Conversely, the radicals are seriously affected by Ukrainian counter-offensive. They exploded in finger-pointing and blaming military leadership, each other, and even Putin for this defeat. For the first time, there is a heated discussion between them 9/25

There is a variety of tones in this discussion – from relatively optimistic “we should unite around Putin and take revenge” to completely fatalist “the war is lost, no matter what”. But: all of them demand total mobilization of Russian society and more aggressive war 10/25

They are united by the belief that Russia would have easily conquered Ukraine, but for some reason (treason, incompetence, generosity) it wages the war with one hand tied 11/25

However, this discussion is significant. For the first time people start realizing that Putin is not invincible. Hard to overestimate how important this myth is for Russia. Belief that Putin will prevail no matter what paralyzes all independent action 12/25

The radicals are getting angry at the laymen for continuing with their normal life as troops are dying for the survival of the country under NATO’s assault. The laymen are angry at the radicals for trying to politicize their lives, e.g. introduce war propaganda to schools 13/25

I have seen people taking Boris Nadezhdin’s statements on Russian TV as a sign of a crack in the dominant narrative.
This is not the case 14/25

Nadezhdin is an old liberal from the 90s, a comrade of Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov decided to mount a real opposition to Putin (with a dismal outcome). Nadezhdin opted for playing along Putin’s rules of fake opposition and joined one of his puppet parties 15/25

The benefit of this strategy is that you are regularly invited to these shitshows as a strawman to be humiliated. This is how you gain national recognition, (helps on the election day!) 16/25

However, Nadezhdin himself was obviously against this war from day one, and he is clearly against Putin, too – this is just something you cannot say openly on Russian TV. There was no change at all in his attitudes because of the recent setbacks 17/25

The brave statements of local MPs calling to impeach Putin are no sign of change either. They belong to dissenters and protested against the war as much as they could. This call is a farewell gesture – last week their term ended, many of them were not even allowed to run 18/25

Still, current situation puts Putin in a precarious position. He is dependent BOTH on the passivity of the laymen and the engagement of the radicals. That’s why he sells two contradictory narratives – one about an existential war and another about things running as usual 19/25

Now, the radicals’ demand for total mobilization is totally unacceptable for the laymen. However, the defeats on the frontlines make Putin’s reluctance to put the country on wartime footing unacceptable for the radicals 20/25

Putin’s strategy has been targeted mobilization – recruiting people among the radicals while leaving the laymen to their own devices. There is some room for him to continue with that strategy, but military defeats will make it increasingly strained 21/25

Putin is unlikely to yield to demands to declare mobilization now. It requires political mobilization first. Now is a bad moment. Even volunteers go to Ukraine to join a winning army and earn some $, not to face a strong opponent. The draftees will be even less enthusiastic 22/25

To sum up, balancing between depoliticizing society in general and mobilizing the radical part of it simultaneously will be increasingly difficult for Putin as the major defeat is looming 23/25

Can Putin sell a defeat as a victory? No. Radicals will not hesitate calling it a defeat, and laymen will not forgive him the distortion of their everyday life 24/25

Putin will not survive the military defeat in a war where he staked the whole country 25/25

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

repeat from 2004. I rediscovered it looking for something else.
There's an attitude in Godard, despite the assertions of wanting to converse, that says, Don't argue or cross me about such things. And this book does not alter the notion of his brilliant immaturity. The most fascinating point of all applies more broadly than to Godard; it reaches out to anyone who believes that film is more important than the world. Maybe film is not the great new language of engagement with the world that Bazin hoped it would be. Perhaps it is, instead, a vehicle more suited to dreaming, sensationalism and not wanting to grow up. Perhaps language--the construct of words--was always subtler, deeper and more humane.

Here's a remarkable passage from Godard the young theorist, writing in 1956, trying to pin down the virtues of and the affinity between cinematography and montage: 
If direction is a look, montage is a heartbeat. To foresee is the characteristic of both: but what one seeks to foresee in space, the other seeks in time. Suppose you notice a young girl in the street who attracts you. You hesitate to follow her. A quarter of a second. How to convey this hesitation? Mise-en-scène will answer the question 'How shall I approach her?' But in order to render explicit the other question 'Am I going to love her?' you are forced to bestow importance on the quarter of a second during which the two questions are born. It may be, therefore, that it will be for the montage rather than the mise-en-scène to express both exactly and clearly the life of an idea or its sudden emergence in the course of the story. 
How odd that this furious analysis misses the clarity, the exact hesitation, with which words have evoked the moment. It reminds me of a scene in My Life to Live where the philosopher Brice Parain tells a story from Dumas's Twenty Years After: how Porthos puts a bomb in a cellar, and as he walks away with head down, notices the movement of his own legs. How does that happen? he wonders. The mystery transfixes him, and he is killed in his own explosion. "In sum, the first time he thought, it killed him." 

There's a lost writer in Godard, to be sure, and it's never clearer than in those lovely and poignant places where he actually writes on film--the hand, the curling of the letters, the line of sense. Could it be the ultimate lesson in Godard's career that plunging into the dark was a misreading of his map? 
Probably the best brief description of the intellectual and esthetic limitations of cinema, and of the life and works of its greatest fan, that I have ever read. David Thomson in The Nation

I may want to, but I haven't changed my mind.

William Klein, Mr Freedom. It won't be up very long.
The ICP extended the dates of his retrospective—tomorrow is the last day—but it should be at MoMA.

"Mr Freedom" John Abbey, is in one scene playing a character I've never forgotten.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

When I wrote this I gave it the tag video art/gallery film. I did that and wrote the below before seeing more than a few minutes. "The fabrication of a reversion to childhood", but only the imagery: the sensory overload of new experience. It would work and maybe work best as an installation, with the audience being able to stand or sit, or lie down. It's a a hybrid, like Hou Hsiao-hsien's Assassin, and for the same reasons.

"I have always confused cinema with life" And that was his weakness his art, and his politics. He was a rich kid who became a Maoist, then a confused middle-aged man, and then an old fool, all without really growing up.  Richard Brody says Godard "turned the cinema into the central art form of his time." It's the central art form of the 20th century. 

I think I said somewhere that the New Wave were the first filmmakers to see themselves as students of film, as readers if it before they were craftsmen. All bookish schoolboys. They were"filmmakers for the age of television". But also important to know what education means in France. 

"ARTISTES: Tous farceurs". Goodbye to language. The fabrication of a reversion to childhood; the articulate description that only an old man could pull off.

"Pour Jean-Luc" The second film is a repeat.

Monday, September 12, 2022

I first heard of Edward Tufte when I began seeing this image in an ad for The Visual Display of Quantitative Information in the NYRB, decades ago. 
It's a beautiful graphic, but it's still a graphic. It does its job extremely well, so well that it becomes interesting in itself, but not that interesting. Later as he became famous, Tufte moved into art, or what he thinks is art, opening a sculpture park, and in 2010 a gallery in NY. The gallery's been closed for years. It was always obvious he didn't get the point, but that was interesting too. 

Design is function and form. Tufte could have gone into industrial design but he wanted something else. He doesn't understand that art is more than design: it's idiosyncrasy and idiosyncratic specificity. And now I have to back up.

Art is not utilitarian. It's always the continuation of a tradition. In periods of crisis, when the traditions seem no longer to make sense, they're never thrown away: they're transformed. Clicking the link, and clicking again you''ll read this
If a character in a novel lights a cigarette, the cigarette is part of a work of art. In a play the cigarette is a prop. In the older definition of art objects the craft supplied a formal logic internal to the piece. The iconography supplied a formal logic external to it. For relics as opposed to artworks the logic was external only: absent its place in a narrative a thighbone is a thighbone, a cigarette is just a cigarette, a madeleine... etc.

That's from a discussion of Duchamp. He made pieces of design into art by placing them within a narrative. Picasso as a craftsman, a maker of things, found another way to continue a tradition, but at his best he didn't know what the fuck he was doing. He kept his best painting rolled up under his bed for years, because he didn't know what to think of it.

But I've gotten ahead of myself. Of course design, qua design, can be more. 
A link to the manuscript. [p 74]

Eric Hobsbawm:

Why brilliant fashion designers, a notoriously non-analytic breed, sometimes succeed in anticipating the shape of things to come better than professional predictors, is one of the most obscure questions in history; and for the historian of culture, one of the most central.

Yves Saint Laurent was three when he pointed out to his aunt that her shoes and dress didn’t match. His statement can be designated an objective truth in the terms of the system in which he had already, and precociously, educated himself. At the age of three he was acknowledged as a Judge. But systems are always changing and are always in the process of becoming. Representational systems ossify into formal systems that outlast their role as representation: forms are still used even as they become brittle. And as I described in Manet and Picasso, and Duchamp and Warhol, this is the crisis that defines modern art, which is no more or less than the art of a culture in crisis. Sometimes forms are taken up in new ways, as in Duchamp’s literary objects. Eisenstein’s favorite author was Dickens. With film the 19th century tradition moved onto a different track, but in art school we studied Vertov by which definition Eisenstein was simply a maker of popular film.

And all of that brings me to this. A short film produced by Tufte about a design teacher. The talking heads are former students, all of them in commercial design and advertising. It's a wonderful primer on design but it's also an art history lesson on the origins of Pop art. Most people don't know that the designer of the pattern on the Brillo boxes Warhol copied was a "fine artist" an abstract expressionist, with a day job. And one of my old teachers, Abe Ajay, gave Warhol his first job in NY. arch modernist, a friend of Ad Reinhardt who worked with him at The New Masses, [Abe] used to complain that Beethoven ruined his music with images. "All those wonderful notes and then... Birds!!" [p.65] 

Abe was a snob, and conflicted beyond reason. 

Design, as design, is a craft. Craft so specific that it draws an audience back to it again and again, is art. Much of post-war "modern art" is the art of students of design who turned to making something no longer utilitarian, something without function. They used what they knew to make something more.

But again, because I've said this so many times, the fact remains that filmmakers have a better, richer, understanding of pictorial art than those who now called themselves "artists". And this is a little film about design. A bad film by Scorsese is still a better example of "art".