Sunday, October 31, 2004
(10:43 PM) | Robb Schuneman:
Conspiracy Theorists - Prepare 4 THA SPILLAGEOkay, again, I'm always internet late. This might have made the rounds, but by any account, it wasn't posted here.
So - here's a video questioning what exactly happened at the Pentagon on 9/11. Apparently, it wasn't a 747 that hit..that's right, I'm that gullible. Yet, is it possible the military is too ashamed to admit that a military plane was stolen? Or that missiles were actually fired and we don't want that to get out?
Or - as the X-PHILES on that site say..9/11 was an inside job designed to initiate a war in the islamic countries and gather further support for Israel and hate for arabs? Thus, the flight that crashed in PA was actually shot down because the passengers overtook the "terrorists", and knew too much. And the flight that hit the pentagon? They couldn't use a 747 cause many of the conspirators were in the pentagon, so they used a missile or drone plane specifically designed to cause that damage, and they flew the real flight to a remote location and killed everyone on board. Apparently they can show you a bunch of anomalies in the flight plan (the plane disappears and reappears) to support this.
Before you go any further - these same people write books constantly about alien abduction and so forth - it's not like this appeared in a peer review journal. To some extent, it's probably an insult to Israelis as well as those who died to speculate so assininely like this. And I apologize for furthering that. But, it's really late, and I don't know how to answer the questions that they pose in the video before they go and screw everything up with Illuminati-type conspiracy theories. I believe our esteemed readers and my co-bloggers to be better suited to find the holes in their logic than I am.
Someone is going to shoot this down in a matter of minutes and make me look the fool. But, everybody plays the fool. Really, there's no exception to the rule.
(11:45 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
I Heart La RochefoucauldI hope that one day I can be the go-to guy for authors of "English for Reading" courses who need little proverbs that are simultaneously droll and illustrative of the fine points of grammar. La Rochefoucauld seems to have taken on that role in the exercise book I'm currently using, French for Reading. For example:
Nous pardonnons souvent à ceux qui nous ennuient, mais nous ne pouvons pardonner à ceux que nous ennuyons.The grammar is the gag; the medium is the message.
We often pardon those who bore us, but we cannot pardon those whom we bore.
In all honesty, though, are there any foreign readers out there who have taken a similar course in English? Whom do they use? Oscar Wilde leaps to mind as a potential candidate, though I have yet to analyze his aphorisms in terms of grammatical illustration.
A related question: Who the hell is La Rochefoucauld?
(9:15 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
I Recommend the Following
- Mark Kaplan has done a couple posts (1, 2) on political function of the conflation of "left" and "liberal":
The left began precisely in antagonism to liberalism, as an interrogation of its assumptions. To yoke ‘left’ and ‘liberal’ together is a category error, but a politically motivated one. The hyphen anticipates their eventual conflation, the elision of the distinction between them. They are compressed into a false unity. It is as if 'the left' is now only those aspects of it continuous with Liberalism. The excremental remainder, which is to say, from our point of view, the very essence of the Left, is discarded, pushed off the spectrum altogether. 'Left-liberal' is a device whcih shrinks the political spectrum, illegitimately contracts the ‘left’ into an alliance with its historical adversary, and restricts political struggle to pragmatic positions within capitalism. Indeed, one’s stance with regard to this last (the very system within which we live) is henceforth off limits.
- Gorss is off to a good start at Cap'n Pete/Antistrophe/Take Me To Coney Island.
- Slacktivist asks, "What is Bush wins?"
- Abraham Lincoln was gay (link via Political Theory).
- Vote or die.
- Daniel Green continues his series on the biographical fallacy in the popular "literary" press.
- Jonathan Schwartz discusses his hatred for bin Laden.
- The Young Hegelian wonders whether bin Laden's tape is being deliberately misunderstood because people don't want to admit that it "is not the irrationally fanatical discourse we want to ascribe to this man," while Crooked Timber commenters take Juan Cole to task for suggesting that bin Laden is anything but a pure nihilist. One commenter does point out something interesting: the liberal blogosphere does seem to regard Juan Cole as a kind of oracle.
- Bob Harris, formerly a long-term guest blogger at Tom Tomorrow's site, now has his own blog.
UPDATE: One more thing -- John Holbo writes a rigorous post about Batman and bin Laden.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
(10:57 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The bin Laden tapeTo me, the existence of this tape and the promised scouring of it for "actionable intelligence" seems to indicate that the nightmare October Surprise situation of unveiling a dead-or-alive bin Laden days before the election is not going to come to pass.
I have no basis for an opinion about whether the tape will help or hurt Bush, Kerry, or Nader.
INSTANT UPDATE: Some canvassers came to my door looking for Elliot Johnson, who used to live in my current house and who, judging by the mail we get for him every fucking day, is among Alan Keyes' 200 supporters. When they found out I wasn't him, they asked me whether they could count on my vote for the Republican candidate, and I told them, "I would sooner die than vote Republican." I'm sure they're going to go back to the HQ and say, "Man, we ran into one of those angry liberals today!"
Friday, October 29, 2004
(10:32 PM) | Robb Schuneman:
BIZZARO WORLDI live here in OKlahoma, a state of considerable conservative consonant. Everything was chugging along great - I hadn't seen a single Bush or Kerry ad, because there was absolutely no one campaigning around here.
And then the Republican candidate for senate, Tom Coburn, called OKC Residents "Crap heads". OKC being the largest city in the state, that wasn't smart. And then it came out that while he was a doctor, Dr. Coburn had infertilized (if that's correct usage, I don't know, he made it so she couldn't have babies) a lady without her permission during what should have been a simple operation, and lost much money in medical fraud charges.
Suddenly, the democratic party arose, and saw unto them a seat worth the taking. Normally, there'd be no way in heck a democrat could get elected, but, Governor Brad Henry just 2 years ago beat out a former football hero and massive republican somehow, and perhaps things have changed.
Now VP Cheney has visited the state to tell us we need to vote for Coburn. A virtual line of Republican stars appear in his ads. And the thing is..those same Republican stars appear in Carson ads. This is because the debate, the entire senatorial debate here in Oklahoma, is about who is more conservative.
Liberal is a dirty word around here. Heck, during the local debate held at my school, Carson was tripped up by the mere question of "How on earth can you support John Kerry?" He paused, and mumbled for minutes, and never really answered, like he was ashamed someone from his party was running for the presidency. 50% of Coburn's ads don't feature Carson at all. They tell us what "Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry" have done in the congress already, and then mention that voting for Carson is really a vote for those 3.
Carson, for his part, runs ads about how many times he went against his party - voting to be tough on illegal aliens, voting against taxes, voting with the family marriage amendment, voting against abortion, voting with privatizing retirement funds, heck, he probably voted with the Freedom Fries act. And the thing is, after 2-3 months of ads, and 5-7 pieces of mail a day for the last 2 weeks, I have no clue what makes Carson a democrat, and that's exactly how he wants it.
I guess to some extent this is expedient means, the democrats needs this seat and are, I think, very likely to get it at this point. Coburn has ran the worst campaign EVER in the history of the leisure suit. And maybe it's good..when the house is burning, you tell the kids you have candy for them if they get out, even if there is no candy, right Buddah? Well, maybe the massive conservative delegation of Oklahoma doesn't realize how terrible our conservative-lead government has done - maybe they don't realize that there's literally 0 categories of any worth where our state is a leader, and many where we're in the bottom third. Our education system is destroyed and terrible, our health car is porous, our jobless rate is embarassing. Maybe anything the democrats can do to get office is justified.
At the same time, this is one of the more brutal campaigns I've ever seen, and every barb thrown is some variation of that dirty word, "liberal". Each is trying to point out the liberal tendencies of the other, and the one who gets the to stick wins apparently. there's no discourse over which ideas are best, because that's far beyond dumb old Oklahoma, instead, we just fight over who has best mimicked the Republican line, the Republican - or the Republican wannabe.
MY GRAMMAR WERE ATROCIOUS. as was the spelling. As was the strange tendency I have to insert random words at times, because I can't continue to think about the sentence I was on long enough. This is fixed to some extent. At the time I wrote this, I'd worked an 18 hour shift the night before and been up 33.5 hours. I've now slept for 4, and am back in style. My own style.
(3:55 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Sweet Home BourbonnaisA woman just came into the office with her kids, and the whole family was wearing Alan Keyes t-shirts, with Alan Keyes bumper stickers stuck on their backs!
There are several pro-Keyes signs up in my neighborhood, scattered among the Bush signs. One day when I was taking an evening stroll, I saw a defaced Kerry sign, lying in the street.
Thankfully, the existence of a large conglomeration of Reality-Based Americans about an hour to our north will render this woman's vote irrelevant. I feel sorry for those who live in states where this is not the case.
(11:57 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Friday Afternoon Confessional: Almost living up to its nameI did not forget. I know that many are now used to the customary Friday morning format, and I apologize for any inconvenience my tardiness has caused.
I confess the following:
- My piano technique is sloppy, and I overdo the pedal. Both of these facts have been true since I was 14.
- My handwriting is terrible.
- I did not dress up for Halloween today, even though several of my co-workers did.
- I have already run out of humorous ways to answer patients when they ask, "Where's your costume?"
Thursday, October 28, 2004
(10:38 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Saint PaulI just went on Amazon.ca and purchased the French translation of Pasolini's screenplay that places Paul in a modern context. Those French bastards have also had Agamben's book on Paul in translation for several years, and I would have bought that, too, except that someone from Standford UP told me that it would be out in English in February.
So of course, here I am shopping with Canadian money, and I assume that -- like for most of my life -- it's basically Monopoly money, but then I go to a currency conversion site and see that it's $0.80US per Canadian dollar! I thought it was closer to $0.50US! I have effectively paid $25 for a mass-market paperback French translation of an Italian screenplay that was never filmed. Is this when you know you have a problem? Or is this when you come to recognize that it's already far too late for you?
In any case, if you are in need of French texts, Amazon.ca has literally everything, at fairly reasonable prices. God bless Quebec!
(8:35 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Our Commander in ChiefSure, this statement from Wesley Clark is great in that it turns Bush's own words against him. Bush was asking for it when he said, "…a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief." But you know what words I'd like to jump on? "Your Commander in Chief." I don't know about you, but I'm not in the military. Neither are the majority of the people who live in this country. George W. Bush is currently the commander in chief of the armed forces of the country of which I am a citizen, but he is not my Commander in Chief. If he is elected, John Kerry will similarly not be my Commander in Chief, nor will he be the Commander in Chief of my grandmother, Atrios, or the retired General Wesley Clark.
George W. Bush is the Commander in Chief of the US military, indubitably, but he is not the Commander in Chief of the American people. Were he to command me to do something, I would have no legal obligation to comply.
I understand that most of the people who use the term "our Commander in Chief" would argue that they are using that term as shorthand for "Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces," but it seems to me to be a particularly dangerous shorthand, given that it invests the citizen's relation to the presidency with a deference and loyalty that are completely out of place in civilian life. The president is a civil servant whose appointment depends on the good pleasure of the citizens he serves. There is no particular reason to be loyal or obedient to the president, any more than there is any reason to be loyal or obedient to AT&T.
The use of the idea of "our commander in chief" is one of the many examples of the persistent militarization of the public discourse in America -- a militarization that may have been started by the Republicans, but which has been eagerly taken up by the Democrats as well.
(5:54 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Proposal for Next ElectionNo polls next time. I want both candidates to go into election day completely blind, and I want the public to go in blind, too. I don't want polls of likely voters or registered voters. No polls of perceived debate victories or candidate favorability shall be allowed, nor shall breakdown polls of how the public likes the candidates' positions on various issues. The candidates should get up and say either (a) what they themselves believe to be the best way to go or (b) what their party and/or sponsors believe to be the best way to go. No patronizing attempts to craft one's views according to the preferences of uninformed people shall be performed -- there's a reason that we hire people to be in government, and it's because we expect them to be better informed than someone taking a poll who feels pressured to have an opinion and therefore makes something up on the spot.
No journalist shall ever make a generalization about whether an opinion expressed by a candidate resonates with the national mood. No color-coding of states shall be permitted. David Brooks shall be locked in a closet for the entire election process, and for the rest of his natural life afterward. The words "conservative" and "liberal" shall be banned from the American lexicon for a period of four years. Any sign of Manichean dualism shall be punished in a suitably medieval fashion. Any discussion of the candidates' religious faith shall result in the candidate(s) being executed and replaced. Speculation on the death of Supreme Court justices shall be punished by fine and/or imprisonment. If a candidate says something false, journalists shall point that out and guage the seriousness of the falsehood. The same process shall be followed in a debate.
And let's make the election process shorter. It's been fucking months! It's too fucking much!
(5:37 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Back in BlackM. Gauche has returned to us! My sister lives again!
(1:21 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
5 days left, and I'm finding diversions.I need a grand diversion from this election. My stomach had been in knots for days, but last night I bought a math review book for the GRE. I opened it up and began to do math for an hour. During that hour I don't think I thought once about how horrible of a person George W. Bush was, but I did have troubling dreams about taking the GRE.
(1:06 PM) | Richard McElroy:
A Candid Moment with the PresidentGo to www.vidvote.com to see an uncensored tape of the president giving his "one finger victory salute" as governor of Texas. Courtesy of Air America Radio.
(9:39 AM) | Adam R:
- If America's military strategy is to go into battle outnumbering the enemy 10 to 1,
- and if Iraq has 30,000,000 citizens (less a few thousand)
- then, shouldn't we have 300,000,000 soldiers in Iraq?
My point is that, Poland's contribution aside, we don't have many non-enemies there.
We lost Falluja and now Ramadi. Didn't we learn in Vietnam that we can't win a war against "a people?" From the New York Times:
. . . insurgents here do not hold well-defined territory, as they do in Falluja. They have instead blended into the population and conduct hit-and-run strikes . . .How far-fetched is it to say that the insurgents have less "blended into the population" than to say that they are the population?
Anthony told me during our IM make-out session yesterday that any military revolt will be struck down in America. I don't know--Iraq may be setting precedent.
I'm just waiting for Castro to make me a Colonel.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
(7:51 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
6 days left, and I'm stress eating.Today, I don't think there was one time that I wasn't thinking about the election. I found myself stress eating, buying chips and tall cans of AriZona iced tea. It made me feel better, but the stress gave me gas and that negated the initial feeling better.
This election is bringing out the worst aspects of me (cf. the comment boxes all over the blog-o-sphere). I feel entirely powerless to think about anything other than this damn election between two people that could never re-present me.
(2:04 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
PeaceI just finished an article in Harper's entitled "Quitting the Paint Factory" by Mark Slouka. I admired the idea of an article written "in praise of idleness," but Mr. Slouka's final illustration struck me. He asked us to picture George W. Bush sitting, idly, on a bench in a far-off corner of the woods, simply contemplating. It was for him a "visual oxymoron," but my laughter was tempered: witnessing Adam Kotsko in such a situation would be a visual oxymoron as well.
"How did you get such drive?" Monica used to ask me. I got it from my father -- much to my deep disappointment. I remember him as working twelve hours a day and commuting an hour each way as well, and I remember thinking from the very beginning that it was a sad, stupid waste of a life. My dad drives a truck for a living and largely enjoys it, and he has finally carved out a space for him to pursue the musical ambitions that he put on hold so many years ago. But still, the image of my father leaving the house before 7:00 every day, getting to work late every day (just like I do now), getting home after 11:00 -- so that, until I got old enough to feel like I didn't need so much sleep after all, I could only see him on summer evenings or weekends, or during his rushed morning routine -- fills me with dread, and with pity.
Those weekends were not relaxing. Far from it! My mom had a list of chores for him to do Saturdays, and so he was out until late evening, mowing the lawn, raking, washing the cars, doing various painting projects; and of course Sundays were a nightmare, with only a couple-hour window between dinner after morning church and our pre-night-church commitments. (To this day, I hate Sundays, even now that I have no structured activities to attend. When I became Catholic, I made it a point to go to the Saturday evening mass, even though there aren't as many pretty girls at that one, just as a token gesture toward making up for all those lost Sundays, the least restful day out of a "busy" week.)
He is a hard worker. I should admire him for that. My grandpa, too -- silently working his days away, out mowing his vast estate or doing the carpentry for which he had such a gift. My grandma would be cleaning house every weekend when I came to visit in elementary school, and when I got too old to visit, there was plenty of work to be done in my house -- so that eventually, I would rebel, claim that my mom was being selfish with the family's time, claim that there was no way that a thorough cleaning every week was necessary. I still remember those terrible guilt-trips -- conscious or unconscious -- the punishment of being allowed to do exactly what I wanted to do. And what I wanted to do was -- work. I wanted to read. I had Crime and Punishment to get through. We had a public library within walking distance, and I was going to take full advantage of it. I wanted to be closed in my room, Smashing Pumpkins playing, writing dozens of pages a day in my journal. Even the video games that I have since given up are work in their own way -- too much work for me.
I rebelled against my part-time high school job at the grocery store, refusing to come in when they called me at the last minute, at one point even claiming, improbably, that I could afford to quit my job and make the same amount by teaching piano lessons. (I had two students at that point, a brother and sister who cancelled their lessons half the time.) I rebelled against the grueling schedule of marching band, blaming it for the infamous C that I got on the leaf project -- a Calvin-style morning-of rush job that was much more characteristic of me than one would think. I cried. I'm not ashamed to say that I would get in the car to go to work and cry all the way there, or that I would change my clothes violently, resentfully, when I had to go straight from marching band to work.
I had shit to do! My senior year I had AP Lit, and I had to read every damn book on that recommended reading list. Mr. Ricketts had filled our heads with horribly unrealistic ideas, such as our having to have key passages memorized, etc. He told us that we could write as many or as few papers as we wanted to, for practice. I wanted to fill every single minute of my life with that class. I wanted to have written the best paper every time. I wanted to have read the most books. I wanted to know.
I used to think that my family's Republicanism stemmed from a certain gullibility, that my dad's love for Rush Limbaugh derives from his being the only thing on the radio. I don't think it's that anymore. If there's anything the Republican rhetoric dwells on, it's hard work. My dad is a hard worker, and hearing the stories, day in and day out, of how certain politicians were trying to help out those who work hard and how others were trying to give more hand-outs to the lazy free-loaders -- how could he not be won over? How could he not think that these were his people? Having sacrificed so much -- his music, his painting, his intellectual life -- to evangelical Christianity and the family that followed quickly in its wake, what option was left? What defenses did he have left against such rhetoric? And who am I to judge at this point? How do I know that I wouldn't have made the exact same decision in his shoes?
My grandma in particular always asks how such a "liberal" (using it according to its current meaning, i.e., anyone who dissents from a particular Republican orthodoxy) could have come out of such a Republican family. I don't know. In fact, I wonder if I might not be more "Republican" than I let on -- more devoted to work, of a certain kind, than even my parents and grandparents are at this point. My dad now works fewer hours and has started a prog-rock band. My grandpa has retired and spends less time in the workshop. The housecleaning has been reduced to a more managable level, both in terms of frequency and in terms of the size of the house. Yet for me, every moment is a potential moment for reading, for writing, for coming up with more and better bizarre juxtapositions of disparate thinkers -- Foucault with St. Iranaeus! -- to the point where the pressure sometimes keeps me from starting a "real" task. As though if I start, this will take me the rest of my life -- as though once I start, I could never rest again.
My work branches out to keeping up with the blogs, to an instant-response e-mail ethic, to parsing out my exact feelings about particular women over IM. No moment is left idle, but there is sometimes a strange emptiness to the whole affair -- as though for all my feverish typing and pacing back and forth through the house, nothing is happening, and nothing has happened in years. The only room for real, planned idleness in my life may well be a liturgy -- wasting my time, literally squandering it, in the stand-sit-kneel routine of the mass or the page-flipping ordeal of the Daily Office. After so many years as a Republican Christian, I still don't know how to slow down and let the liturgy happen -- it's an act of supreme concentration to sit back and wait, to let things happen as they happen, not to think, "Oh thank God we're already to the Agnus Dei -- this is almost over."
Either that, or laying in bed, with a woman I love, or I've convinced myself I love, in my arms -- neither asleep nor awake, not on the way to sex or instead in the aftermath of it (even sex, in our oppressively promiscuous society, can be a chore), knowing, for a fact, that no use will come out of this time, no sleep, no orgasm, no conflict resolution. Just rest, just a divine idleness: peace.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
(10:00 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
What I'm Reading TonightI am re-reading Alain Badiou's brief study of St. Paul tonight. The first time I read it was in the down times during the festivities surrounding Richard and Kari's wedding, so I was not as attentive as I could have been. This time around, I have been completely absorbed. As I said of Moby Dick, "It's so fucking good you won't believe it." But don't take my word for it:
A note for a future post: my super-attentive reading was mostly enabled by not having my computer in the same building as me; I was in a coffee shop. When I got up to go to the bathroom, I noticed the details of the bland public restroom with the eye of a novelist -- I could have captured the moment of my urination and its aftermath with an Updikean precision. Even if I do not post as often as the "professional" bloggers, blogging has a tendency to creep into every corner of my life -- the rhythm of checking my SiteMeter constantly at work, knowing that I'll have had about 100 visits on average by 10:30, about 250 by 5:00... -- and I wonder if blogging requires and inculcates a certain mental dispersal. I'm not quite ready to say that such mental dispersal is bad in itself; an overly concentrated mental effort toward blog posting would be a grave genre error. I am, however, ready to say that it is more than a little worrisome that the only way I am able to shift decisively to a more concentrated mental state is to place some kind of physical obstacle between myself and the means of blogging.
(1:24 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
With 7 days left I'm doing my part to debase the national discourse.Adam Robinson has written a post whose intended purpose is to explore the writing style of his fellow bloggers. It turns out that I am included, but only as an example of writing which is "crass", "vulgar", and "consistently undermines the good points with the presentation of those ideas." Most insultingly he compares me to Frieda, the most repugnant example of confused conservativism I've found on the blogosphere. But, I can't deny it, it's all true. My writing isn't that good and I've got a lot of hatred in my heart. I'm angry, really angry in fact. I look towards next Tuesday and I can't stop worrying because George W. Bush is the fucking anti-Christ. Those who can't see him for such, including my parents whom I love dearly, scare me because it is so obvious. Now as a good liberal's tell me I am supposed to be open-minded and open-hearted, looking for change and listening to those who disagree with me. I'm not a good liberal and I don't want to be. I'll listen to people who disagree with me on music, or even those who want to vote for Nader. Hell! - I'll even listen to libertarians! But if you vote for George W. Bush you are voting for death.
I never claimed to be a decent person and so it surprises me when people try to hold me to some kind of "decent person" standard. I've always had a problem keeping my mouth shut, and when I was an evangelical I found myself at the altar praying that such anger would be taken from me. The last time I ever debased myself, the last time I ever found myself in an evangelical revival service, I went down to the altar and I when people came to pray with me, as usual, I was annoyed. I just wanted to be left alone and when I looked up it was Craig next to me. He asked if I wanted to talk and I told him that I felt like I could only tear things apart, and was always so angry at the world. He, in his typical Craig way, said, "I think that may be good."
If, in 7 days, George W. Bush is elected by the combined idiocy of the American people to either vote for him or not challenge the way in which he was voted in then I will continue to debase the national discourse for the sake of honesty. If anyone wants to be a reasonable liberal, then by all means go ahead, but just remember you too will be responsible for the disgusting and repugnant acts done in the name of America and God.
(10:10 AM) | Tara Smith:
Uplifting thoughtDon't you think that the very worst thing of all would be if there is nothing more than this? Would be if biological death really is the only death? Would be if every thought, every act of love, every word you've ever spoken or considered speaking will amount to nothing when your particular bundle of electrical pulses cease to move? Wouldn't that be the very worst thing of all?
The irony, of course, is that if the very worst thing came to pass, you wouldn't actually be there experience it. So that means that no matter what happens, you won't ever have to go through the very worst thing of all.
There. Now don't you feel better?
Monday, October 25, 2004
(8:30 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Further remarks on the Electoral CollegeAh, the joys of the Electoral College! On the one hand, modern polling techniques can help interested parties to focus their electoral efforts in the most crucial parts of the country -- this time around, apparently it's Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Mexico.
On the other hand, one is always tempted to say, "Fuck it! It's totally random anyway!" It's the same general feeling I get in situations where one small mistake is going to spell failure -- I just want to give up from the start and try something else entirely. Sadly, in this case that's not an option, unless by "something else," you mean, "Using your web space, one week before the election, to try to raise money so that Third World people can have their own llama, rather than trying to organize a get-out-the-vote effort in Iowa." Maybe that would be something else.
(6:44 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Blogging Charity, pt. 2I have finally settled on a course of action in The Weblog's experimental charity drive for Heifer International. I have put a duplicate PayPal link and a link to The Weblog's online store under the box entitled "The Charity." All funds raised through those links will be added to a contribution of mine, determined by my own discretion, in order to purchase livestock to help people in poor countries to become self-sustaining. The cut-off date for this particular funding drive will be November 30, unless some special reason to do otherwise presents itself. I will chime in with periodic updates on the amount of money raised; I'm not sure if PayPal and CafePress have e-mail notification at all times, so if you donate by either method, please e-mail me as well to let me know.
I know that Frieda wanted to use World Vision's similar program, but I agree with Anthony's objection: I don't want a single cent of my money going toward people being converted to American-style Evangelical Christianity. In fact, I don't want the charitable act I finance to come out of the same bank account as the evangelism fund. If World Vision were the only organization running such a program, then those objections would no longer be decisive; but since it isn't, they are. If Frieda refuses to participate solely because we are using a secular charity, I have some words of St. Paul that may be appropriate in this setting:
For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.Institutional and cultural affiliation are very important things that should be cherished, but they should never get in the way of justice. Remember, your exemplary neighbor, according to the parable, is a person whose institutional and cultural affiliations make him your worst enemy, namely, a Samaritan. Heifer International seems to be our neighbors. Let's help them out and let God worry about where they're going to go when they die.
(11:13 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The 900th PostAccording to Blogger's running count, this is the 900th post on The Weblog.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
(8:20 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Weblog's Endorsement for PresidentIn the spirit of Matthew Yglesias's surprise endorsement of John Kerry for president, we here at The Weblog would like to put forth our own counter-endorsement.
The two candidates for president this election are both unappealling in many ways. On the one hand, President Bush has pursued a consistently irresponsible and disastrous fiscal policy, cutting taxes while expanding entitlements and crippling state budgets with unfunded mandates. On the foreign policy front, he has botched a mission in Afghanistan that much of the world viewed as necessary and just, then botched a mission in Iraq that much of the world viewed as unnecessary and unjust. He has diminished US prestige abroad to an incalculable degree and overextended our military in a dangerous way. On the other hand, while John Kerry has assembled an impressive record of public service, consistently furthering labor interests, environmental protection, fiscal responsibility, and action to stop nuclear proliferation, he has sometimes made public statements that were ambiguous, overly wordy, or arguably contrary to things he had previously said. We here at The Weblog regret to say it, but the fact that Senator Kerry is not an absolutely perfect person in every respect means that he is not a fit replacement for our current Brave Leader, no matter how utterly catastrophic President Bush's policies may have been and almost certainly will continue to be.
America deserves better than a non-choice between an incompetent figurehead whose only source of information is a circle of dangerous ideologues and a life-long public servant who has apparently sometimes changed his mind on certain issues. And so we wonder: what if some kind of third option could emerge, some young, bright leader who could capture the imagination of that 50% of eligible citizens who choose, perhaps understandably, not to vote? Someone funny, someone attractive, someone not afraid to let people know that they are hurting America?
We believe that such an option does exist and that a write-in campaign for this candidate among the seething masses of non-voters could fundamentally change the political landscape of the world's oldest democracy. For that reason, The Weblog endorses Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, for president. And although we here at The Weblog are uncertain how the vice-president is selected in write-in campaigns, we further endorse Belle Waring, of Crooked Timber and John and Belle Have a Blog, for vice-president.
(4:41 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Candid RemarkIf you've set a personal goal for having graduate school applications finished, and if you are already really ambivalent about the prospect that a misplaced comma on your statement of purpose could mean the difference between acceptance-with-stipend and rejection, and if you aren't sure that teaching is necessarily where your talents lie, and if you have already read the vast body of literature on exactly how badly the academic labor market sucks, and if you aren't sure that you will be satisfied in any particular specialization -- then do not start combing through Invisible Adjunct's archives, or at least refrain from doing so until the applications are already in the mail. And do not read the article about how you need to apply to 10 to 15 different programs and visit all the campuses and spend $1000 on the application process, and especially don't read the one about how the grad school process is one of slow, systematic training in humiliation and servile deference.
If you do any of those things, it's going to be a whole hell of a lot harder to come up with an eloquent way to say you want to study phenomenology and psychoanalysis, and how, impressively enough, you can read French. Imagine, reading in a foreign language!
UPDATE: I managed to make it through. All statements of purpose have been written, all electronic applications have been submitted, and all writing samples have been assembled in large envelopes. My only remaining tasks are to obtain transcripts from Olivet and CTS, put them in the appropriate envelopes, insert the appropriate checks, and mail them off. My application for New School is going in the mail tomorrow, because they want transcripts sent directly to them (an eminently sensible policy). The only one I need to wait for recommendations on is U of C, and I'm sure they'll be arriving eventually. Overall, I am ahead of schedule on my self-imposed deadline of October 31 for having completed all grad school application related program activities that directly depend on my actions. By the end of the week, the only envelope that will still be in my house should be the one for U of C. (I am exempting my application for CTS from this deadline, because I can literally just hand them the materials and the application fee. I know that applying there is horribly impractical since the funding levels and name-recognition is low, but it's nice to have options, as Pedro says.) For those just joining us, the list of schools is DePaul, Vanderbilt, New School, Nottingham, University of Chicago Divinity School, and, last but not least, Duke. I was flirting with applying where Infinite Thought goes to school, but I'm sick of applying to schools. If I don't get funded anywhere, that'll be the top of my list next year.
Another goal for this month was to have mailed off my Bonhoeffer paper to another journal. We'll see how that goes. I was thinking Modern Theology, since I'm a burgeoning Milbankian. Well, actually I'm not, but still.
My final goal for the month was to complete Donner la mort, of which I have fewer than 20 pages remaining.
Next month, I hope to make a last-ditch effort to pass the classes in which I am currently enrolled.
(3:07 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Candid List of Books I Have Not Read, Despite Being a Graduate StudentAs a way of procrastinating, an integral part of the process of writing a statement of purpose for philosophy programs, I sought, and found, this ancient Invisible Adjunct post, which refers to a similarly ancient Crooked Timber post by Kieran Healy, the comments of which refer to this article that I actually wanted, which has the following materials:
In his novel Changing Places, David Lodge describes a literary parlor game called "Humiliations" in which participants confess, one by one, titles of books they've never read. The genius of the game is that each player gains a point for each fellow player who's read the book—-in other words, the more accomplished the reader, the lower his or her score. Lodge's winner is an American professor who, in a rousing display of one-downmanship, finally announces that he's never read Hamlet.In terms of British literature, I have read Hamlet, as well as The Faerie Queene, The Sheaparde's Calendar, Paradise Lost and Regained, and Sense and Sensibilitiy. I have read Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain in their original versions. Impressive, certainly. More impressive, however, is the list of important or "obvious" books that I have never read:
- Ulysses -- I got about halfway through this one, twice. Dr. Belcher once started a summer reading group devoted to this text, which I halfway thought about joining; as I remember, Paul Anderson actually tamed the beast, while everyone else was too soft.
- Capital -- I have read neither a full volume, nor even selected sections from this great work. I am completely innocent of any acquaintance with Marx's magnum opus except for those proof-texts cited by Zizek, Jameson, et al.
- Critique of Pure Reason -- I once started to read Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, then decided not to read that after all. We can count the other two Critiques, together with the Metaphysics of Morals, the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Religion within the Bounds of Reason Alone, and actually anything by Kant other than "Perpetual Peace" and "The Supposed Right to Lie."
- Confessions -- I have read neither Augustine's nor Rousseau's book of this title, though my French exercise book recently presented me with a few morsels from the latter. Similarly, I have not read City of God, Emile, On the Trinity, or The Social Contract.
- The Order of Things -- so much Foucault has happened to me, but I never quite attained the money shot.
- Anti-Oedipus -- If you think not reading this book is impressive, get a load of this: I have never read A Thousand Plateaus, Difference and Repetition, or The Logic of Sense, and I am similarly innocent of any direct knowledge of Deleuze's many insightful studies of pre-critical metaphysicians.
- The Documents of the Second Vatican Council -- who needs to actually sit down and read this stuff? Good liberal Catholics already know what it says: good liberal stuff that supports the kind of changes we'd like to see in the church.
- Works of Love -- again, plenty of Kierkegaard under my belt, but I've never read this one book that seems to be in his "top three" (with Fear and Trembling and Concluding Unscientific Postscript).
- A Tale of Two Cities -- no Dickens for me! Ha!
- East of Eden -- the same goes for Steinbeck (except for one short story), Hemmingway (got only halfway through A Farewell to Arms), Beckett, Sartre, Kundera, Ezra Pound, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Stephen King.
What books haven't you read?
(1:14 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Candid Assessment of Potential Flaws in My Way of ThinkingFirst and foremost, I tend toward vulgar Marxism, otherwise known as economism. I often formulate my political and moral stances based on the idea that a reordering of economic relations will automatically produce solutions to other problems -- that is, while I would love for particular problems to go away, I view a change in the economic structure of our world as the only way to really, really solve all the problems. This leads toward a certain irresponsibility of thought, given that the world-wide revolution is not likely to occur within the next few years. I toy with more pragmatic solutions while treating them as band-aids in which I don't finally have a stake. This tendency may be part of the residue of fundamentalist Christianity. Such views could be critiqued from a cultural studies, feminist, queer theory, or psychoanalytic perspective (the latter is particularly ironic, given my penchant for psychoanalysis).
Second, I tend to judge ideas based on their aesthetic appeal rather than strictly based on the arguments and evidence presented. All too often, this aesthetic appeal is based on some vague premonition that certain people (who may or may not exist only in my mind) would be annoyed by the ideas I espouse. Hence, although the idea that Paul did not write all the letters ascribed to him is a scholarly concensus, I tend to be biased toward positions that leave the fewest possible authentic letters, because that seems to produce more problems and thus be somehow "cooler." This tendency could account for my great devotion to the teachings of Ted Jennings, which may be deeply flawed in many ways -- but lack of coolness or lack of edginess is not one of their flaws.
Hand-in-hand with the above flaw is a tendency to take the latest controversial theory I have learned as an established fact and to discard the "conventional wisdom," even in cases where the conventional wisdom is barely established itself. The more "conspiracy-theory"-like the theory is, the more it appeals to me -- as I have noted before, conspiracy theories are in my blood, with my Grandpa Kotsko belonging firmly to the conspiracy theorist camp and my father being a devout Republican.
More generally, and third, I tend to be too easily convinced. I am more likely than anyone I know to say, "Okay, you're right" in a conversation about a controversial issue. It's not a matter of simply recognizing potential flaws or gaps in my ideas and taking other people's ideas into account -- I leap to affirm my interlocutor's position as a whole. I want to jump straight into having the whole truth, all at once. Again, the Christian, specifically Wesleyan, influences here should be obvious. (Similarly, I often seek after the one insight or action that will finally untie the knot of all my emotional and interpersonal hang-ups -- although entire sanctification never quite "took," and although I never delivered a sincere testimony in the appropriate context, I still do seek after it, similar to the broadly Hardto-Negrian insight that ideas and institutions are actually more effective when they are broken and propagated into more and more different contexts.)
I also hate it when people apply any kind of label to me -- whether it's my family referring to me as a "liberal," people in general calling me "Catholic," or whatever. I also hate it when people want me to affirm the impression they have of me -- "You're really smart, right?" or "You read a lot, right?" etc., etc. It's the same as the general problematic of when someone knows of one of your interests and that's all they want to talk about -- or the general problematic of people in literature classes learning two or three biographical facts about an author and interpreting every aspect of every text through the lens of what I like to call "footnote knowledge." Footnote knowledge is necessary, but it should not be mistaken for real knowledge. And so, if people try to deploy their footnote knowledge of me, I do everything possible to frustrate them and deny what they're saying. That's bad, because they're just trying to be friendly. If you're one of those people, I'm sorry that you probably felt put off -- but I was actually trying to make you feel put off, so I guess I'm not really sorry.
Further remarks about the flaws in my way of thinking can be directed toward the HaloScan-brand comments below. Thank you.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
(4:39 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
I Find Conservatives Morally Reprehensible.I did a bad, bad thing. No, I didn't cheat on my wife or buy drugs from the guys across the street. I've been reading conservative blogs out of boredom. This always starts out innocent, like that first time you heard Rush Limbaugh and couldn't stop listening due to your utter disbelief that anyone could actually believe this shit. It's so bizarre, so different and it becomes slightly entertaining. I have, after all, always had a passing interest in propaganda techniques. This stuff really is an art.
That interest always wears off in the face of reality. When I read that conservatives still support a President who isn't a conservative I realize they aren't artists, they are immoral fucks. I know that morality is usually the domain of the conservatives, but what they call morals is really just obscuring the fact that they have no positive plan for the future of America or the world. Really, they stand to serve the interests of their constituents in the upper echelons of society. So I think morals, as a word describing actions that will keep you from having a bad life, should be reclaimed by the left.
When I talk to a conservative I feel a bit like Kant. If we can't agree on a fundamental issue, like the fact that the Iraq war was at best an instance of extreme idiocy, then we just can't talk. Or maybe, at the very least, admit that Bush is not a Republican. He's for big government, expansionist foreign policy, and all the faux moral issues, like abortion, serve only as rhetoric tools since his office knows it is essential a non-issue.
Basically, I read these blogs and get angry. I want them to just go away. Maybe I should move to France, sure they may be appeasing bastards that eat too much cheese, but at least in France no one argues over the definition of torture.
(1:14 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A President Who is Proud of His ActionsJesse sent me this article about how the president signed "the most sweeping overhaul of corporate tax law since 1986" on a Friday aboard Air Force One. The article notes that this behavior "stood in contrast with Bush's action on Oct. 4 when he sat before television cameras on a stage in Des Moines, Iowa, to sign three tax-cut breaks popular with middle-class voters and revive other tax incentives for businesses." My favorite part of the article, however, was this little two-paragraph gem:
Could we possibly venture a guess as to which of these positions more closely approximates reality? Or have we done our journalistic duty when we report what "both sides" say? Or, even better, does this "method" reveal that the journalist doesn't want to patronize the American public and knows that in the age of the Internet, every citizen is fully capable of reading the legislation, gathering the relevant statistics, and coming to her own conclusions?
Though the legislation provides new tax breaks, Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation says it has no impact on the deficit because it also closes corporate tax loopholes and repeals export subsidies.
Opponents disagree, saying it will swell the nation's huge budget deficit with a massive giveaway that will reward multinational companies that move jobs overseas and add to the complexity of the tax system.
Jesse just remarked that "the article was harsh," and indeed it was -- but the harshness was entirely directed toward the presentation of the action, not to the actual substance of the tax cuts. Presentation is relevant -- after all, maybe his behavior indicates that the president has something to hide, but maybe it just indicates that he doesn't have time for a big honkin' ceremony every time he passes a tax bill. The facts would help us to decide on how relevant the presentation actually is. And I suppose with some Google searching, I could find the facts -- it would just be so much more convenient if they were included in the article.
(10:08 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Blogging CharityIf possible, I would like to coordinate donations to Heifer International through The Weblog. I know that none of my readers are very well-off, but their program allows us to purchase livestock and other essentials for people living in poor parts of the world, for surprisingly low prices. I have enough in my savings account from my student loan that I can probably afford to give a goat, pig, sheep, or even a llama, but I think it would be nice if we used our blogging powers for good on a larger scale. I don't have a detailed plan for how it would work out; I'm just trying to see if anyone is interested.
(9:50 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Electoral College: Benefits and DrawbacksI know that looking at the electoral vote website and really, really hoping that some particular state goes to Kerry is not the same as "actually doing something." But do you think it's bad that every time Florida seems to be swinging toward Kerry, I mentally subtract the electoral votes from Florida and look for other states that might fill the gap, assuming that Florida's votes will be stolen by the Bush team no matter which way they actually go? Not just that I'm thinking it, but that I'm actually rather sanguine about it, as though it's natural and acceptable that that will happen?
They used to talk about the need to inculcate a culture of democracy in former communist countries -- I think I need some of that inculcation right here in America.
Friday, October 22, 2004
(2:25 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Further James K.A. Smith Watch: The increasingly inaccurately called Jacques Derrida week.I was bored at work, surfing the internet and I found one more Jacques Derrida obituary. I was surprised to find it in Christianity Today and even more surprised to see it was written by Dr. James KA Smith, the recent subject of a harsh post from me. Though it certainly isn't the most informational obituary, it is very personal focusing on some regrets Smith has in relation to a harsh paper he gave concerning Derrida. The humble tone that Smith writes in is certainly nothing you'd ever see from the likes of John Milbank. But you can tell it was written by a former student of Caputo, and I, for one, prefer prayers and tears to pomp and circumstance.
(10:33 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Derrida on the Radio: The increasingly inaccurately named Jacques Derrida week.A professor of philosophy at DePaul University, someone I highly respect, Dr. Michael Naas was on the Chicago Public Radio program "Odyssey" with Dr. Francoise Meltzer of The University of Chicago Comparitive Literature Department and Divinity School speaking about deconstruction and the death of Jacques Derrida. For those unfamiliar with deconstruction or Derrida, or if you an analytic who thinks only of Derrida as a "belle-lettrist, obscuritanist, pederast", I highly recommend you listen to it.
(8:24 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Group Participation Week
I have the following confessions to make:
- I've got to hand it to Anthony for pumping out three posts in one evening.
- I sometimes make overly ambitious promises that I can't keep.
- I don't know where to put things.
- Even though I know it just dries out my skin, I always take a really hot shower.
- My eating habits are far from healthy.
- I am veering toward coffee addiction.
- I feel like I'm really behind this semester and can't figure out what to do to catch back up.
- I never take my own advice.
- I routinely contribute to the political polarization of our great nation.
- Sometimes I think that the opinions I hold are true and that others ought to adopt them.
- I am all too often a whiny little bitch.
- I sometimes use misogynistic language (see above).
- My friend who always says the crassest possible thing in the bluntest possible way is no longer funny and cute to me.
- I'm on strike from going grocery shopping, because I went four times last week, each time falsely assuming that someone else would pick up staples that I had forgotten.
- My blog makes me late to work.
- I've lately learned of the existence of dozens of new blogs, and I have not made the effort to keep up on any of them.
- I'm passive-aggressive to a fault.
UPDATE: What does this mean?
AK, I think your style consistently mistakes "informed opinion" for "final authority" and openness for ambiguity. I'm sure you know that there are people who are more informed than you are that have different but equally valid perspectives. It's interesting to listen to what they have to say without despising them from the start.It's from Adam Robinson. I wanted to respond to it, but I'm not sure what the first sentence means (sincerely). So, (a) what is he saying, and (b) is it true?
Thursday, October 21, 2004
(10:59 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Research Assistance.I am in the process of being hired for an undergraduate think tank on ecology in the city. It seems they want us to read articles and then discuss and critique the ideas presented from our perspective disciplines, and I'm supposed to do so as a student familiar with Post-Structuralist philosophy. This sounds like a good opportunity for me and I hope it works out but I also feel slightly out of my element. I have some general ideas about what Deleuze, Derrida and Foucault would have to say, especially in relation to the whole idea of natural spaces in the middles of cities, but I would appreciate if anyone could point me to some actual texts that you think would be pertinent for this research.
The comment box is below.
(10:05 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
A Polemic Against the Academic Dishonesty or Willful Ignorance of the Contributors of Radical Orthodoxy.First off you should know that I like certain aspects of Radical Orthodoxy, even if the contributors are only unified by the fact that they read Augustine and French Post-Structuralists. That being said there are a lot of problems with it, and perhaps the most flaming is academic dishonesty or willful ignorance that many of those who claim the school partake of when working with non-Christian texts.
For example, albeit a blog one, James K. A. Smith, part of the ever growing Calvinist contingent within RO, has a blog that he doesn't post much on but did have this comment on Hardt & Negri's Mulititude.
Now James KA Smith is a graduate from Villanova's philosophy department, and so I would expect better scholarship (even in blog form) from him (even though he's a Calvinist who teaches at Calvin "Evangelical Christian WorldViewTM" College in Michigan (it is, after all, a good school). Still he falls into the Radical Orthodoxy trap of seeing some random Christian from the Middle Ages mentioned in a book and taking it as some sign that the whole book is really built around how amazing Christianity and the Church are. I also found Hardt and Negri's use of St. Francis interesting, but suggesting that the multitude, as presented in its Hardto-Negrian form, is led by means you didn't understand the argument. St. Francis served as a model of the militant, who resisted violence (necessary in a time like our own) and hierarchy. There is no leader of the multitude, and to say that there is makes me wonder how well the book was read.
Those who read Hardt & Negri's Empire (Harvard UP) will recall their invocation of the "multitude"--led by St. Francis, as it were--as the transnational network of resistance. Well, I just got ahold of what amounts to the sequel of Empire. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (Penguin). I'm taking it along with me to Cambridge, but it looks fascinating. And ripe for theological engagement. I wonder if what Hardt & Negri are looking for from "the multitude" might be precisely what one would hope to find in the ekklesia? I would highly recommend reading this book alongside Daniel Bell's outstanding work, Liberation Theology After the End of History, in the Radical Orthodoxy series (Routledge).
Smith also falls for the all too common "ask a stupid rhetorical question" trap when he muses, "I wonder if what Hardt & Negri are looking for from "the multitude" might be precisely what one would hope to find in the ekklesia?" What "one"? Hardt and Negri? Two atheists?!? Surely not those in Asia, where the church grows the most among those with upward mobility, and thus supports Capitalism! Ok, sure, if you are a Christian you want the Church to be every-fucking-thing that is good, but you know what? It's not. It just isn't. In fact the Church, or ekklesia (it doesn't change if you say it in Greek), may be the biggest political failure of the 20th Century. Sometimes when I read those involved with Radical Orthodoxy it seems that they feel threatened by things that don't easily fit into a narrow theological framework, and so they force those new concepts into ones they are familiar with. Derrida's concept of the gift? Oh, that's really just an incomplete picture of God offering God's only son to die. Badiou's theory of truth and universality? That's really just something ripped off from Christianity. Marion's questionable phenomenology? Ok, that is just Thomistic theology with a phenomenological framework, so they win that round. But Marion doesn’t really hide that fact or pretend to be a non-Catholic philosopher, so it seems fair to use him explicitly as such.
I think Radical Orthodoxy has a lot of good things in it, the "Erotics" chapter in the so-called manifesto is a good use of Bataille for theology, some of Milbank's critique of perceived "secularization" are rather helpful in dealing with the religious nature of Capitalism, and Daniel M Bell Jr's Liberation Theology After the End of History: The Refusal to Cease Suffering is a really interesting use of Deleuze and Foucault for critiquing Liberation Theology. So, they don't always suck, but when they do suck they really suck. I just want them to admit that "They aren't Christian," isn't a good critique of any philosopher.
(8:57 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
The Phenomenology of Breaking Into a Pontiac Sunfire.My car was broken into on Saturday morning. Rather, I discovered it had been broken into on Saturday morning but the actual break-in could have been anytime from 6:50, Friday morning to 11:15, Saturday morning. Regardless, I had the odd experience of walking up to my car, seeing it surrounded by blue-green glass, a lack of glass where the driver side windshield once stood, and thinking to myself "Someone hit my car." I expected there to be a note on my window, something along the lines of, "Sorry, I hit your car. Call me 555-555-5555." Instead I looked in and say two wires hanging out where my CD player had once been, and then I looked up to my visor where my CD wallet had once hung to find it missing. It contained some Belle & Sebastian, Wilco, The Catheters and some random burned CD's - they left the MC5 and the Brown Bunny soundtrack (Thanks!).
Husserl says that when we perceive of a thing we perceive of its value at the same time. Since this perception of value is also a perception it appears as something along a horizon, meaning you can be mistaken or take the object as something completely different when you perceive it again from a different vantage point. I drive a Pontiac Sunfire that was given to me by my parents after my dad, a police chief, had acquired it as a stolen vehicle. I am very thankful that my parents were able to help me out in this way, but it isn't a car I would choose to buy. When I think of Pontiac Sunfire and make it present to me in its absence I perceive it as a car with an overly-tan college girl driving it. Even when I think of my Pontiac Sunfire, I perceive it as such. I have no reason to believe others would see it too much differently, since it is a rather sparkly green color, I still haven't scraped the large fairy sticker off the back, and it is a Pontiac Sunfire. When you perceive of a car you apperceive of a driver, so I imagine the thieves say my car and say it as the car of someone who would put some money into the sound system (I hadn't, the CD player was from Wal-Mart.). They may have even perceived me, in my absence, as someone who listens to music they would like, after all I did have a nice CD player (Which I didn't.) so they stole my CD's.
I wonder how drastically their experience changed once they had broken the window, and ripped out the CD player, rushing to grab the CD's, and broke the grill on my heater vents. After that rush of adrenaline had faded I wonder how they experienced the realization that the formerly perceived nice CD player was actually a Pioneer from Wal-Mart. Did they suddenly perceive of me as a gay man when they heard the first few bars of "I Fought in a War" by Belle & Sebastian? Do they still think it was worth it? In the end that irony may have given me the last laugh, at least the perceived irony in my head. Regardless, if I ever find out who did this I will fucking stab them in the face.
(5:16 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
AngerIf you want to read something really good, read this Derrida post from The Reading Experience, which is basically the best response to Derrida's death on the Internet. If you want to read something that I wrote, read this:
There are good reasons to be conservative. There are good reasons to support limiting the size of government and generally to oppose the centralization of power in the hands of the federal government. There are good reasons to support sexual restraint and to discourage people from choosing the path of heterosexual monogamy. There are reasons to be proud of military service and to be fiercely patriotic. There are reasons to worry that perhaps judges are overstepping their bounds and to view the Founding Fathers as a still-relevant source of guidance for our contemporary political challenges. I don't share those views, but I can understand how one would. It is more than possible to be an intellectually honest and reflective person and to have conservative political views.
However, most people who go under the name "conservative" in public discussions are not intellectual honest and reflective people, at least in terms of the politics they advocate. They are partisan Republicans, extremely partisan Republicans -- to such an extent that a Republican can do no wrong and the slightest slip-up by a "liberal" is indicative of their moral bankrupcy. Take, for example, the most recent post by frieda, Cap'n Pete's absolutely horrible co-blogger whom he should fire immediately. I will gladly excerpt it here:
dear john kerry,I'm going to take John Kerry's word for it that he's a "lifelong hunter" until the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth come out with shocking evidence that he's never hunted in his life. The Google results for "john kerry lifelong hunter" all -- of course -- call Kerry out on his rank hypocrisy for enjoying hunting and supporting animal rights, and maybe that's a terrible thing that should make us all hate Kerry from the depths of our very souls -- but at the same time, all the stories agree that he was consistently able to hit his targets. The very fact that there are "dead geese" is prima facie evidence that he is in fact conversant with hunting, and it is completely appropriate for him to go to a hotly contested state and demonstrate that he shares interests with many of the voters in that state.
we are the spirits of the geese that you killed needlessly so that you could get the vote of the nra and support of ohio voters. shame on you, you fake, opportunistic bastard. next time you walk through a beautiful field where we fly, without a gun and camoflauge, we will make sure to poop on your head.
the pissed off geese
Yes, it's "political," but he's running for political office! By accusing Kerry of constantly making campaigning decisions -- not decisions in governance, but campaigning decisions, decisions in a context that is almost purely political -- based on "politics," the Republican hacks are implying that they are somehow not being political -- but as Carl Schmitt points out, claiming not to be playing politics is a particularly fierce way of playing politics. Jonah Goldberg and others were deeply offended by Alan Wolfe's article claiming that contemporary conservatives seem to be channelling the spirit of Carl Schmitt, but in reality, that's just a way of saying that Republicans are really good at playing politics. Being so extremely nit-picky and ridiculous while studiously ignoring the faults of the people on their own side is a brilliant political move -- perfectly calibrated to make one's non-Republican-hack opponents (commonly lumped together under the heading of "liberal") so angry that they can no longer think straight (as in my response to frieda's post, where I told her to "shut the fuck up" -- something for which I emphatically do not apologize), and thus reinforcing the stereotype that "liberals are all angry." Or, if the "liberals" patiently refute their claims, the Republican hacks can use that as evidence of the fact that "liberals are overly intellectual and lack the necessary clarity and decisiveness."
I've got to hand it to the Republicans on the politics -- they're great at it. They beat the Democrats in politics hands-down. The problem is that it leaves them very little energy to attend to the business of governing. The majority of Americans do realize that all the bluster of the Republicans is just that, and that Democrats are simply better at running the country. The problem is, those for whom the Republican bluster is a matter of life or death often outnumber those sensible Democrats-by-default on election day. Hopefully that will not be the case, and we will be able to return to the "radical center," neo-liberal normality of the Clinton years.
I fully expect to be deeply disappointed in Kerry, but I'd prefer his oppressive Enlightenment rationality to Bush's moral clarity, also known as willful ignorance of the way the world works (i.e., when you fight a war, sometimes people die -- that kind of thing). With Kerry, I can channel my disappointment and even my anger into a reasoned discussion; with Bush, my anger just stays anger. I know I'd be a morally better person if that weren't the case, but it is.
So yeah, Cap'n -- if you don't know how to remove team members from your blog, I'll give you a tutorial. Thanks!
(10:40 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
My Dream about George W. BushLast night I had a dream where I was in a public library, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were there with me. President Bush had to speak on 1 Thessalonians, and he wanted me to help him find some books. I was looking around, and they didn't have much, and the contents of the shelves kept changing, like they do in dreams -- there was one really thick commentary, a two-volume edition of the letter in the Loeb Classical Library, one commentary by a rabbi, and several commentaries that were only on chapters 5-7 (in reality, 1 Thessalonians has only five chapters). At a certain point during my search, President Bush said, "Man, that's too much reading! Screw it!"
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
(2:50 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Online Petitionà Gauche, The Weblog's sister site, has not updated thus far in October. I'm starting to realize that I already had too many blogs to keep up on and that it's really nice not to have to read his, so I'm starting an online petition for à Gauche to stop blogging altogether.
Actually, let's make it a bipartite petition: either stop blogging altogether, or become one of the deadweight members of The Weblog. I feel as though The Weblog could reach H is O-like levels of non-participation if we put some real effort into it.
Please append your signature, together with your preferred course of action for à Gauche, in the comment box. I know his secret identity, and I will forward the results to him when they have reached a critical mass.
(1:00 PM) | Richard McElroy:
The Truth About John KerryThis link is brought to you in part by a previous link from Adam K. to the Current Electoral Vote Predictor. Without further ado:
The Truth About John Kerry
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
(8:31 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
My Political Manifesto, vol. IISince some Catholic leaders have produced a helpful guide to expected voter behaviors, I think it only appropriate that my readers be informed of the issues that will help them to be in step with the teachings of Adam Kotsko
- Abortion. I really wish abortion didn't have to happen. I wish that every potential life in the world could be welcomed into a loving home, or at least into an environment that would provide the person with the proper nourishment, shelter, and education they need to flourish as a human being. We do not live in such a world. As such, if abortion is made illegal, it will still happen regardless -- in fact, I've read statistics that abortion rates are actually higher in many Latin American countries where abortion is illegal than in the Netherlands, where sexual libertinism reigns. If it was illegal, there would be no standards of safety for the mother, and opportunities for unscrupulous doctors to take advantage of vulnerable women would be increased. Making abortion illegal would be morally irresponsible. More generally, women should not be compelled to have a child if they do not want to; mandatory childbearing has been the cornerstone of the oppression of women for all of history, and creating a society in which childbearing is optional for women is necessary for minimum standards of justice. I do not, however, oppose making late-term abortions illegal except in cases of medical necessity, because five or six months should be adequate time to discern whether one wants to have the child.
- Gay rights. I don't understand why gays are in such a hurry to get married, and I'm not sure it's the best strategy for the gay community to use all of its political clout to gain legal recognition for a living arrangement that most in the gay community would not find appealling. Still, granting legal protections for those persons who choose to live in a monogamous homosexual relationship and to raise children in that context seem to me to be the decent human thing to do. More broadly, I believe that people should be able to arrange their sex lives as they see fit, excluding pedophilia and violent coercion, and I oppose any laws that attempt to criminalize sexual relationships freely entered into by adults, or to deny people rights due to the genders of the partners involved in such relationships.
- Stem cell research. This seems so obvious to me that it's not even worth considering: just allow it. If we stand a good chance of curing Alzheimer's and spinal cord injuries and other such incurable diseases through stem cell research, it is ridiculous not to give scientists access to the resources they need to do so.
- The war on terror. We should not allow the tragic loss of 3000 lives in one day to trap us in an unnecessary "generational conflict." Those who view "Islamofascism" as an existential threat to the West seem to me to be vastly overreacting -- especially since we spent nearly half a century under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. There are many other more pressing issues that we could be addressing with the manpower and resources devoted to the war on terror: world hunger, AIDS, etc., etc., etc. We should not be having a war on terror. (Please note, however, that due to the infinite wisdom of the Democratic Party, this is basically not at issue in the current election -- we get a choice between a stupid war on terror and a smart war on terror.)
- Health care. Kerry's proposal is very sensible and practical. It is also ultimately inadequate. Single-payer health systems work. The empirical evidence is so overwhelming as to be irrefutable. The fact that we allow the financial interests of insurance and pharmaceutical companies to trap millions of our fellow-citizens in a situation in which they may face the choice between foregoing necessary medical care and financial ruin is a shameful testimony to our nation's enduring moral blindness.
- Taxes. Tax the rich hard. For those who say that will discourage people from getting rich, I answer: (a) good, because amassing wealth is an anti-social and destructive activity and (b) since when do people need encouragement to try to get rich, anyway?
- Crime. Prisons produce criminals. In addition, no matter what their stated purpose, objectively, the police exist to extract fines from basically law-abiding citizens and to entrap individuals in the criminal-producing prison system. They don't protect the people who need it most. The most vulnerable people in our society are poor minorities whose neighborhoods are wracked by gang violence, and judging from the behavior of our government, we as a society have made a tacit agreement to abandon those areas to the arbitrary rule of heavily-armed thugs. Instead of helping people in those disadvantaged groups, the police routinely brutalize and harass them, contributing to our society's demonization of minorities as criminals. Our criminal justice system is in fact an affront to justice. (As such, I would like to repeat that no phone solicitor asking me to donate funds to retired police officers will receive any money from me, and I would also like to say that the recent monument to the police erected in Kankakee is an insult to the residents of that city.)
- Personal responsibility. American politics is fundamentally based on the principle that social problems should be solved by heavily punishing non-conforming individuals rather than making structural changes. This is incredibly stupid.
As a tactical matter, I encourage all my readers to vote a straight Democratic ticket this time around, and only vote for a third party (preferably the Greens) in 2008 if the Republicans nominate a sane candidate.
(1:50 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
My Innovative Plan to Solve the Palestinian-Israeli ConflictI am of the belief that nationalism is a bad thing and that dividing up nations based on dominant ethnic groups is the source of a huge amount of violence and suffering in this world. As such, I advocate poly-ethnic states with a cosmopolitan mindset and fluid borders. Establishing such a state in Israel/Palestine, however, is impossible in the current political situation, in which Israel is basically a superpower in the region, offering the Palestinians only a paltry, discontinuous block of land on which to establish their state (on its generous days). I believe that too much hope has been staked on a two-state solution -- just as with the attainment of the initial goals of the civil rights movement in the US, the establishment of the Palestinian state will effectively halt the process of Palestinian liberation, not even taking into account the possibility that a Palestinian government may well end up oppressing its own people.
In order for the Palestinians, or any ethnic group (including the Jews), to thrive, they need to participate in a poly-ethnic state that fosters interaction and mutual respect among various groups. Since such opportunities are not available in Israel, due to the insistence on maintaining a specifically Jewish state, the only hope for the Palestinians is to experience their own Exodus, out of the bondage of Israeli occupation and into the promised land -- in this case, Iraq.
Certainly adding in another ethnic group -- and one, we might add, that is already multi-religious (Islamic and Christian) -- might help free Iraq from the dangers of becoming a strictly Shiite Muslim state, instead opening up the possibility of a purely secular state or at least a pluralistic state based on broadly Islamic principles. For those of us on the left, the need to provide Palestinians with land opens up the possibility of broader land reform and perhaps even the establishment of some form of non-nationalist socialism in Iraq.
Moving beyond this, a tolerant, poly-ethnic Iraq (note that Iraq already has pourous boundaries) could perhaps become a haven for refugee groups from all over the world. Imagine -- Darfurians, East Timorians, Kosovars, Chechens, Chiapans, Haitians, and all manner of oppressed groups living together in harmony in the cosmopolitan paradise of Iraq. It would almost make the whole debacle worth it in the end.
I strongly encourage everyone involved in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to give my proposal the serious consideration it deserves.
Monday, October 18, 2004
(7:12 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Against Routledge: A PolemicDoes Routledge not employ any copy editors? I'm reading Graham Ward's Cities of God right now, which has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but it has so many comma and even grammar errors that it is sometimes difficult to make out the syntax of a particular sentence. In addition, on my copy of John Milbank's Being Reconciled, in the blurb from Rowan Williams, it says that the book "confirms Milbank's statue [sic]" (on Amazon's Look Inside! feature, this has apparently been corrected). That's the back cover, the part that they're counting on to sell the book, and they can't even get that right. I also seem to remember that a disproportionate number of sentences in Zizek's Organs Without Bodies seemed to end in question marks rather than periods -- no, wait, that's just his annoying writing style.
In any case, I don't think this problem is limited to Routledge -- I have noticed similar lapses in a variety of British academic presses. My question: Have the British completely given up on proper grammar and punctuation? Did Thatcherism do that much damage, that fast? Must we Americans be the ones to teach the British how to produce proper written English?
(6:18 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Gift: Really Impossible?By AKMA's count, we did thirteen Derrida posts last week -- almost two a day, for you humanities majors who aren't good at math. And now, three days too late, I am going to add a fourteenth. Here is a brief passage from Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money (trans. Peggy Kamuf):
It suffices therefore for the other to perceive the gift--not only to perceive it in the sense in which, as one says in French, "on perçoit," one receives, for example, merchandise, payment, or compensation--but to perceive its nature of gift, the meaning or intention, the intentional meaning of the gift, in order for this simple recognition of the gift as gift, as such, to annul the gift as gift even before recognition becomes gratitude. The simple identification of the gift seems to destroy it. The simple identification of the passage of a gift as such, that is, of an identifiable thing among some identifiable "ones," would be nothing other than the process of the destruction of the gift. It is as if, between the event or the institution of the gift as such and its destruction, the difference were destined to be constantly annuled. At the limit, the gift as gift ought not appear as gift: either to the donee or to the donor. It cannot be gift as gift except by not being present as gift. Neither to the "one" nor to the "other." ... The temporalization of time (memory, present, anticipation; retention, protention, imminence of the future; "ecstaces," and so forth) always sets in motion the process of a destruction of the gift: through keeping, restitution, reproduction, the anticipatory expectation or apprehension that grasps or comprehends in advance.John Holbo's recent post on Donnie Darko evoked a comment from Dr. Paisley that crystalized for me why the movie affected me so deeply:
I think a lot of the appeal is that it takes the old "would you die for a loved one" question and adds the "if doing so meant they never knew/loved you" edge to it.Although perhaps I could have picked a better passage from Given Time to illustrate this, it appears that Donnie's sacrifice for his girlfriend meets Derrida's requirements for a perfect gift -- and it cements his claim that the gift is impossible, because this example of the perfect gift requires time travel.
Perhaps this Derrida/Donnie Darko problematic is a way for theoretical physics and phenomenology to come together -- or, at the very least, a good "in" for the perpetrator of the next Sokal hoax.
(1:36 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
2 Brief Dialogues[The following is an approximation of a theological dialogue between Anthony and myself this weekend.]
Anthony: So, can God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?
Adam: You know, people ask that as though it's a hard question. I say, if he's powerful enough that he can die, he's certainly powerful enough not to be able to lift a rock.
Anthony: What if that turned out to be the stone they used for his grave? Would he just be hanging out in there for all eternity, constantly trying to push it aside? "Damn it! Why did I make this thing?"
Adam: But you forget -- one of the new superpowers he gains after the resurrection is the ability to walk through walls. "I'm back -- and ten times more powerful!"
[The following is an approximation of a theological dialogue among Anthony, Monica, and myself, over margaritas.]
Anthony: So, I was looking at U of C's website, and one of the professors, David Tracy, had down that he was working on a book about God.
Adam: Imagine! An entire book, just about God!
Monica: Do you think there's ever been a book just titled God?
Adam: Yes, there was that book by Jack Miles, God: A Biography.
Monica: No, that's not what I was asking.
Adam: No, see, the title is God. In addition, it has a subtitle, A Biography.
Anthony: I think that's technically true. Adam wins on a technicality, just like President Bush.
Adam: "It's hard work!"
Sunday, October 17, 2004
(1:09 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Adventures in Effective CampaigningA gentleman is out canvassing my neighborhood this morning for the incumbent state representative. When I answered the door, he asked me if my mom or dad was home.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
(3:04 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Love and HistoryI don't understand what love is. Sometimes I wonder if I've ever actually loved anyone. I've said the words before, when the situation demanded it, and I'm sure I meant something by it. I've said it too soon before, then been silenced by my actions or my sense of narcissistic woundedness -- made to wonder if the phrase "I love you" has anything more than an internal function for me, a way of putting my house in order.
I've listened to countless Christian songs -- just last night, driving down from Chicago, Monica put in an old "Jesus music" CD that she loved from her childhood, and I couldn't listen after a certain point. I couldn't understand how a "relationship" with a non-present being could work in the way it worked in those songs. The way they talk about it has always sounded to me like the relationship between a man and a woman, as crassly parodied in the South Park episode where Cartman starts a Christian band. There is a certain justification -- marriage imagery plays a significant role in both the Old and New Testament. In our time, marriage as an institution is continually breaking down while establishing ever-greater hegemony -- "relationships" are all, to some degree, marriage in miniature, a broken parody of marriage, just as serial marriage becomes a broken parody of marriage. We could ask whether this has ever not been the case, whether marriage has ever functioned as it was supposed to -- or whether its breakdown is the point, the point that makes it such an irresistable image for the scriptural writers.
Although a relationship with God may be conceived as a "connection to eternity" or some other such obscurantism, in scripture it is always a specific, historically mediated relationship. Even in Romans, that great "theological treatise" of the New Testament, the argument is based on a particular history -- the gospel has its sense precisely in a world divided into Jew and Gentile, for example. The history in question is always a broken history, and if we take the Christian option, that history culminates in the story of Jesus Christ. For the writers of the New Testament, history was over when Jesus died on the cross; the end of history comes in the middle. Christ "made peace through the blood of his cross," by "becoming sin for us" -- and what does it mean that he was "made sin"? Did some kind of metaphysical transaction take place in which God shifted sin from the account of humanity to the account of Jesus? Was the crucifixion an accounting trick, a way of massaging the numbers? Or does Jesus rather become sin by embodying the human rejection of God? Is Jesus God in any sense other than being rejected by all of humanity -- the people of promise together with the indifferent "nations," the elites together with the faceless mob?
Jesus "became sin" by bringing to its climax the human rejection of God. One could think of it in terms of the sacrifice of Isaac -- what if, at the very moment when Jesus was definitively rejected, placed beyond the pale of humanity and handed over to the most shameful punishment yet devised, God had intervened, this time offering up humanity itself as the replacement lamb? This is a point that people don't seem to understand: God would have been within his rights to destroy the world once Jesus was rejected. Jesus could have gone on living -- we can put it parallel to the situation of Moses in the case of the Golden Calf, where God offers to destroy Israel and start a new people from Moses. He does not do so, however. He submits to death, and he endorses this story by raising Jesus of Nazareth, by endorsing Jesus of Nazareth as the embodiment of human rejection of God -- and the new people he founds on Jesus Christ is exactly the same broken world that has rejected him. Adam and Christ are empirically identical, but the relationship is new because God has died -- for his sins.
Why did God let it get to such a point where justice was impossible to practice? How could he let it get so bad? Why did the law (whether of Moses or of Rome) fail so miserably to produce justice or even moderately restrain injustice? In the end, whose fault is it that sensible people sensibly condemned Jesus of Nazareth to death as a threat to everything that made human life even moderately bearable? How could we ever forgive God for the tedious procession of violence and death that we call human history? We couldn't. No one could possibly forgive God in good conscience -- and if God is this insane preacher with his impossible ethic, then we'll simply have to do without God. By raising Jesus from the dead, God says yes to that concrete, empirical humanity who rejected him on the basis of particular, justified grievances -- God says yes not only to the personal history of Jesus, but to the totality of human history that led up to him and that will stem from him.
We call that "love." The Bible does, at least. "For God so loved the world..." -- not just the abstract idea of the world, but the actual history that had actually played out -- not the stereotypical love of a woman for what the man "could be," the love of potential that has never yet been achieved, but love of this world, this world in which Tiberius Caesar declared a census over the entire Roman world, in which a particular city-state had achieved dominance of the entire known world, in which a particular strange ethnic group had a particular relationship with God mediated through specific kings and temple buildings and wars and exiles -- this particular world in which George W. Bush is president of the United States, which has itself extended its dominance over most of the globe, in which 30,000 children die of hunger every day (particular, specific children with specific parents and brothers and sisters and friends and maybe even pets, who have perhaps learned to count or to recite the alphabet in their particular language or perhaps not), in which journalists and aid workers with specific histories are beheaded, in which certainly a great deal of good occurs, but in which the balance is by far on the side of evil, specific goods and specific evils that perhaps could have been otherwise (especially if watched over by an omnipotent God!) but weren't, that happened in this one particular way to produce the mass grave that we call the planet earth -- history, not biological necessity, producing this mass grave, even if it could have been the case that every person died of "old age," specific wrongs, specific sins of omission or comission, specific decisions to deprive others or to build up a reserve at others' expense, specific people whom you can look in the face, whom you perhaps do, and to whom you say, "Too fucking bad!" We can and do say that all the time. I do, every time I walk down the street or sit at home. Too. Fucking. Bad. You need my help? Well, I've got my own problems. You don't have any money? Well, I've got barely enough. You're suffering? Well, I've suffered too. Different sufferings, perhaps lesser sufferings -- certainly never anything like starving to death, but suffering nonetheless, in this world full to overflowing with suffering, with people crying out, where even the people with "everything" are crying out, every second of every day. This is the world God so loved, this one and no other, the only game in town.
This world rejects God, and rightly so. And God admits his failing by finally, at long last, exercising his power over death -- perhaps too late. One could ask where was Abel's resurrection, where was Samuel's, or Moses's, or where was that starving child's resurrection, the resurrection of that leper who was never able to experience the simple joys we all expect? Why this particular guy, here and now? Why choose him? Because history had to end somewhere. Living in this body of death, the only possible hope is finally for it to be over with, and in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ -- for the New Testament authors, if not for us -- it is over, at long last, perhaps a little too late, "in the fullness of time."
Is that convincing at all? We might want to ask ourselves that question. Is that love? Does love always come when it seems to be too late to change anything, when things are too far gone and the problems are no longer fixable? Is love the tacit agreement between the two partners that finally, everything can be put out on the table, every grievance, every sin of omission or comission, every intractable problem -- and somehow, impossibly, it will all be okay, the relationship will endure, will even be renewed? Is love the decision that nevertheless, it will not finally be over with?
Who could make such a decision? Who could endure it?