Saturday, April 30, 2005
(4:21 PM) | bitchphd:
Not slutty enough apparentlyIt seems anti-anti-Kamala is off crying in its / his / her soup because I "kinda like" F. Winston Codpiece. So I am hereby reminding everyone that (1) a positive statement, even a lukewarm one, does not necessarily imply that it is the *only* positive statement that can be made; (2) y'all are fictional anyway, as am I; (3) I love all my fellow bloggers equally; and (4) my affections are cheap, and can be purchased for the price of a pair of nice shoes.
(12:40 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
In the beginning, there was KamalaAnd Kamala was with me, and I was God.
Kamala was with me from the beginning. We were separated by and through birth -- the birth of Gay Danish Man, our son, fruit of our loins, flesh of our flesh. Half-Ugandan and Half-Rich-but-falled-on-hard-times, the blue-blooded scion of a hermaphroditic former professional wrestler grew up fast, in the matter of only a few deeply disturbing posts. And he grew up to see his mother/father's greatest disciple, m2 of The H is O, call into being a creature whose entire existence is based on hatred for Kamala -- namely, anti-Kamala. It traumatized him. Gay Danish Man, like Bruce Wayne before him, decided to get vengeance, but in the properly 21st-century fashion: preemptively. He donned his mask and became anti-anti-Kamala.
We all know what happened then -- absolutely nothing. As anti-anti-Kamala's father, I rebuke him! Neither I nor your other parent is dead! Your ridiculous Webloggian antics are reminiscent of nothing so much as the fashion sense of Bea Arthur, played over a soundtrack of The Verve Pipe. "I'm in the photograph," indeed!
(11:27 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Whither The Weblog?The Good Professor's post below ties in well with a broader question: What exactly is it that we're doing here?
For instance: How has my strategy of radical hospitality, making this page into an open forum for anyone who gets up enough nerve to write something and ask to post it, worked in practice? Has this page remained somewhat coherent as potential writers self-select? Has it created significantly more diversity than would have been possible if this had remained basically an Adam Kotsko solo operation?
I suppose another possible measure of success would be whether any of the many, many co-bloggers (eighteen people currently have posting privileges, and yesterday I silently deleted a couple accounts of a few people who either haven't posted in months or never posted at all) had created his or her own following, which could be determined in a variety of ways. I think there is an argument to be made for a couple people, particularly Ye Olde Doug Johnson. Bitch PhD seems to have brought part of her pre-existing following with her, and I'm sure that some people would check here more often if Adam Robinson ever posted. No one is really coming close to my every-day posting schedule, and I don't expect anyone to do so, but there is always the danger that at any given point, every name in the recent posts column will be mine. That is, it still seems to be something between my own personal site (Adam 'n Pals!) and a real group blog, although lately it is moving more toward the latter than it ever has before. It might just be that this page still feels too much like "mine" to feel like home to anyone else.
But no matter what comes out in comments, the only concrete action I have in mind is this: I really am thinking of getting rid of the "H is O" contingent of F. Winston Codpiece III, Kamala the Ugandan Giant, and anti-anti-Kamala. That would bring the number of persons writing down by three to fifteen (although in the real world, it would only reduce the number of human beings with posting powers by one).
(10:56 AM) | bitchphd:
The token slutty girlAdam and I have agreed that, in the best Christian and youth group tradition, my role here seems to be the "token slutty girl." Just call me Maggie. But, seriously: my Catholicism is secular and uneducated; my philosophical training is completely non-existent; and my personal life, while doubtless fascinating, is adequately covered elsewhere. So what am I doing here (besides posting quiz results and flirting in comment threads)? One feels one is pulling down the discursive level, and even flirting gets old after a while. And yet one feels guilty over not pulling one's weight.
Perhaps I should rant more about my job, since I can't do that at bitch any more (lest a colleague be reading it). I suspect there is no one who is so determined to identify me that they follow me all over the web, and in fact the few who do seem to follow me around the web mostly know who I am anyway. So, okay: general academic futzing, check. But other than that, does anyone give a rat's ass what I write about here? B/c unless y'all suggest something, I'll just start taking more internet quizzes and posting the results, and before you know that this place will be too livejournally to be called "the Weblog."
(9:21 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Cliopatria RespondsAnthony and I have repeatedly alleged that the comments of Robert KC Johnson on the academy do not adequately reflect the existence of evangelical Christian colleges. The example we most often use is Olivet Nazarene University. Now Ralph Luker has finally done an analysis of why they don't pay attention to Olivet. It's fairly sound.
Friday, April 29, 2005
(1:35 PM) | Brad:
An Ethically Unpalatable ThoughtA caveat: I'm posting this in the spirit of Adam's statement that The Weblog is akin to a basement discussion, when one can throw out ideas simply on the grounds that s/he is curious if they'll stick anywhere.
I've been out of the country and away from computers quite a bit this week. As a result, I've not had as much time to steal away from finishing a thesis as I usually have, and thus have not been able to follow the surprisingly contentious discussion on the various 'Going Public' threads (newcomer alert: that thread title has nothing to do with homosexual revelations, at least on the surface, mostly out of fear that at least one commenter would love the sinner not the sin to death). The one thing that caught my eye was the various derogatory comments about Lenin; or, more specifically, deregatory comments about wishing happy birthday to a dead revolutionary with a violent streak. [edited]
I mentioned in the comments, in one of those posts, that I'd celebrate Chairman Mao's birthday if there was good cake involved -- and I stand by that. I've attended many a birthday party for people who'd given me crappy gifts for mine, so what's 30 or 40 million dead amongst friends? In that same comment, I go on to say, without really knowing why at the time, that 'Hell, after all, I still celebrate Christmas.' A toss-off silly comment, I know. Like so much of what I write here and elsewhere.
Ah, but what if ... what if the trashbin of my own consciousness had a point, no matter how banal! I mean, if we are justified -- and yes, of course, we are -- in indicting Lenin and Mao for the deaths for which they were responsible, in whatever way we wish to determine ethical responsibility, in what way are we not also justified in indicting Christ? Not the Jesus of history, mind you; and thus, for the sake of argument, not the literary Jesus of the Gospels. No ... but the Jesus Christ of faith, he who / that which is embodied, so goes the various doctrines, in His Church Victorious. If the latter is the case, would not such a Christ of faith, who is just as real for those willing to kill in his name (as they have, obviously), be culpable for many more millions of deaths than either Mao or Lenin combined. Granted, the Christ of faith has an indefinite lifespan and practically infinite agency, and thus is not on the same morally equivalent ground as Mao or Lenin, but he (that is to say, finally, the Church) is surely keeping them good company in whatever Hell the best laid plans of mice and men end up building.
Adam made the point not so long ago that it was irritating that the proponents of liberal democracy never felt as though they had to defend it of its historical ills -- merely, I extrapolate from his statement, propagate its extension into backward lands of veils and sand. His point was not to say that liberal democracy was a priori bad, or perhaps even worse than any of its 'evil others' (though he surely believes the latter!). Rather, the point was that what passes as typical ethical analysis was short-sighted at best, and intentionally negligent at worst. That, perhaps, we would do a lot better than counting body counts when it comes to judging a political ethos, because it ultimately opens up a rhetorical can of worms for either side. I use the obviously stupid example of the Christ of faith to say essentially the same thing.
What, then, is the criteria for making an ethical judgment, the judgment that must be made? Should we disregard body counts entirely, and thus silence the horror of suffering worldwide. Well ... no, of course not. One's silence toward suffering only makes the screams all the more loud. But surely there is a way to attend to suffering, that caused by either side, in such a way to make an ethical assessment of each that breaches the existing horizon of our all-too-easy differentiations of 'better than' / 'worse than'. The question is, of course: what is that way?
(7:20 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Friday Afternoon Confessional
I confess that I've been far too stressed out lately, disproportionate to any real cause -- which then leads to a spiral of anxiety as I think, "What's wrong with me? I shouldn't be this stressed out! Oh no!" Yesterday it came to a head, such that I ended up skipping Jesse's bachelor party and skipping hanging out with another friend, Andy, who had just talked to me the previous day about how he was going to be in the city.
I confess that it seems as though there has been a wave of marriages and newborn babies among my friends, in which I am glad not to be participating yet. But who knows? Maybe Cupid will catch me unawares and I will dedicate myself to the truth process of some dyad.
Feel free to confess as necessary.
UPDATE: I confess that last night I went through and blocked all ads from the sites that were giving us "All Ratzinger All the Time," but apparently when you block one, there are five more to take its place. The election of Cardinal Ratzinger is greatly affecting ad revenues here at The Weblog, and I'm thinking of suing for damages.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
(10:20 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Comment WhoringThis is a call to all Weblog posters, especially those for whom this is your primary blog venue -- we need a comment whore. This person would need to go around the blogosphere, trying to leave (a) relatively insightful, or at least offbeat, comments (b) pretty high up in a thread (#10 or lower). Crooked Timber is a good place to start, or else I always enjoyed a good whoring session at Yglesias's site. In the URL field, you would put "http://www.adamkotsko.com/weblog". This is a good task for people with a lot of time on their hands.
I used to do it, and it brought in some great traffic, but I always felt weird about it afterward.
UPDATE: I'd also like to recruit someone for the role of "meta-Kamala." I figure that since we're already two removes from the neutral Kamala in the negative direction, we should probably start in on a Kamala who is more Kamala than Kamala. Perhaps we could call this being "Kamala Prime" or "Ante-Kamala," with emphasis on the "e" -- before Kamala, the ground of possibility of Kamala. And then, of course, we could move on to demi-Kamala or even "Kamala Zero." This would be the hierarchy:
- meta-Kamala (or ante-Kamala)
An afterthought: Is a triply negative Kamala (anti-anti-anti-Kamala) out of the question? I can see no objection to the idea in principle, although as a practical matter, it might become confusing.
(9:38 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
I am Adam Kotsko, please direct complaints to Anthony Paul Smith.I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always the nicest guy. I'm quick to anger, rather polemical at times, not half as clever as I think I am and when I am it is too clever by half. That being said I'm beginning to think that the attacks directed towards me during my tenure at The Weblog are not so much about my short-comings but about those aspects of Adam's personality and ideas that people find less than appealing. I'm thinking of partly of Ralph Luker who has singled me out as a neo-Berubian, even comparing my devotion to Berube as apostle-like. I can only take this to mean that he believes I will stick with Berube until he's crucified, lay low until the heat is off, and then cash in on the major film deals to follow (Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Berube is gonna be huge!). Even though Berube's blog remains one of the few I read when I go through those standard "sick of blogs" moments, I would hardly classify that appreciation as devotion. I actually do disagree with him on a lot of politics and think he is more of a Liberal than the Leftists I am more interested in, but I can't deny his intelligence. I think Adam feels the same way and he also shares me dislike for KC Johnson's blog writing (again, nothing to say about Johnson or Berube's academic prowess as I've read neither outside the internet). But when it comes down to it, Adam doesn't get spanked, I do. When Adam is radical they seem to get upset with me for being radical.
This is just one example out of many. I guess I can't complain, I do get to post here for free and I know just as well as everyone else that Adam's writings are the main attraction. Still, I can't help but wonder if I don't deserve some special compensation for being the whipping boy. Maybe like a chocolate bar now and then. Or a beer, actually I'd prefer the beer.
(6:20 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Apologia for "Going Public"Alright, so I was a little hard on sincere evangelical kids in "Going Public". I understand that when you're young, you say some naive things. I've said such things and likely continue to say them, and doing so is by no means unforgiveable. Maybe those kids really would die for their faith, too; maybe it seems to be worth it to them. In my opinion, the faith dispensed by your average generic "church growth"-style evangelical Republican church is objectively not worth dying for. I also don't think that radical Islam is worth dying for, and we could increase the length of the list indefinitely. So yes, I was too hard on the kids, since they're not yet old enough to know better, and in that sense, I apologize for what I said. The fact remains that they are being fed a line of bullshit, and their sincerity only increases the culpability of those feeding it to them.
I have no interest in specifying what is "worth dying for," because at least here in the USA, I don't think that's what's really at stake, at all. I'd be surprised if it were what was really at stake much of anywhere else in the world, either. A really effective martyrdom campaign requires very specific circumstances that do not seem to me to prevail anywhere that I know of in the contemporary world.
Also, some may be disturbed by my telling an evangelical Christian ideologue to "go the fuck away" in comments. Some may worry that by doing so, I am becoming the very thing I hate, or shutting down dialogue, or being hypocritical. Even if I were to value something like "dialogue" as an end in itself (and let us be perfectly clear: I do not), the individual who was told to "go the fuck away" clearly was not interested in participating in anything resembling a dialogue. That is, he seemed to be a familiar type, as John Emerson noted -- the type who assumes that the existence of opinions contrary to his own stems from never having been exposed to his correct opinions. His job is not to enter into constructive dialogue, but to be our gracious teacher. Responding to him in an open and engaged manner would have only encouraged him to continue spouting off a message that I believe to be completely bankrupt and with which I am, in any case, already thoroughly familiar. In his case, although I am willing to apologize in the sense of explaining myself, I am not willing to apologize in the sense of renouncing my action. If some readers are offended by this to the point of wanting to stop reading this site, I wish them nothing but the best.
(4:06 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Someone, please give me a jobI am a good office worker. I type well. If you read this page, you know I'm pretty good with written communication. Everyone's always surprised by how quickly I get things done -- I catch on quick. The first two weeks of May, I am available every day except Tuesday, and I can work the whole week from May 16 until the end of August. My resume is available here.
The first job my temp agency gave me was in the suburbs, for 25 hrs./wk., for a relatively low wage. I thought that an outbound commute would be reasonable, but it was an hour drive each way today, for a fifteen-mile trip. I found an alternate route once I got home, but I obviously have no idea how that's going to work out. Maybe it would work for some people, but for me, driving an hour each way in heavy traffic is way too stressful to be worth it for a part-time job. I was really hoping that I could find something downtown, or at least near an L stop, so that driving wouldn't even enter into consideration, and in fact I put that down on the form they gave me the day I registered. So -- whatever. One of you can just get me a job instead, I'm sure, so this isn't even an issue.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
(4:51 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
We know that Al Gore invented the InternetBut did we know that Michael Bérubé invented the blog?
(2:11 PM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
power, Power, wonder working Biopower pt. 2[Three things by way of preface:
1. Is there a reason we've been alphabetized out of our sister site status over at à Gauche?
2. I'm sticking with 'old' even though the rocking chair and big beard was not convincing enough for you Jared. You'll just have to think 'old testament' every time you see 'old'. The argument for surfer ('that's the way I remember you best') was not convincing. I mean, do you really want to be known as '
3. This morning, long after I'd finished writing the post below, I discovered what must be the conceptual heart of the Hardto-Negrian misreading of Foucault on biopower. I'll only say a few words since it would take a long, long time to elaborate, and since this post is generally conceived to be an engagement with what I find helpful in Negri. In an interview with Thomas Dunn, Hardt suggests that while Foucault's "notion of biopower is concieved only from above" he and Negri are "attempt[ing] to formulate instead a notion of biopower from below, that is, a power by which the multitude itself rules over life." Apparently, the entire first issue ("Biopolitique et Biopouvoir") of the journal Multitudes is dedicated to perpetuating this error. Simply put, the enormity and consequences of this mistake almost cannot be overstated. Given the crytpic nature of Foucault's take on biopower in History of Sexuality v. 1, misunderstanding is in fact understandable. However, the nature of this misunderstanding is distressing to say the least. When does Foucault ever concieve of anything only from above? The whole point of HS v.1 is to 'cut off the head of the king' in power analyses. And once one has access to Society Must Be Defended, the embarassment of this erroneous reading become ever more pronounced. For Foucault, the very genesis of biopower is from below. The locomotive of biopower is almost totally from below. In fact, the whole project of biopower is directed toward the protection of the 'from below'. ... must stop now!]
... So now, in more mundane fashion than pt. 1 I think, to Discard's Negri post and then back to Schiavo briefly.
While I launched a criticism of h/n on biopower in pt. 1, I would like to start with a fundamental agreement I have with Negri. Discard points to the driving engine of Negri's thought as the distinction between constitutive power and constituted Power (note case diff. between power/Power). The latter is always parasitic on the former and must continually seek to capture the former which is both politically and ontologically prior. My understanding of power (particularly biopower), law, etc. can easily accomodate such an insight. In fact, I very much like it and think it helps to illuminate what the project I've been advocating is all about. To be frank, I believe it has offered a way to think philosophically around the logic of suicide that I (following Miller and Deleuze) have suggested as the endpoint of Foucault's understanding of biopower.
To unpack: The otherwise extraordinarily helpful secondary source that Amish Lovelock pointed us to in the comments to pt. 1, asserts that h/n's conception of biopower is total where Foucault's leaves some room for an outside. Nonsense. Foucault's understanding of biopower is so thoroughgoing that the only way to escape is death: "Now it is over life, throughout its unfolding, that power established its dominion; death is power's limit, the moment that escapes it; death becomes the most secret aspect of existence, the most 'private.'" (HS v.1 p.138 emphasis added). The totalizing hegemony of biopower (Foucault's less sanguine conception of it, that is) might be cracked open, however, if the power/Power distinction is put to work in a certain way. As I see it (and I'll continue reading Negri and h/n more thoroughly this summer to be sure), the dominant metaphors in Negrian power analysis have to do with excess, overflow, etc. So, to use the example of a mighty river, we might say that Negri's suggestion is that the banks of Power simply cannot always contain the flow of power. There must be at least periodic seasons of flooding where power overwhelms to directive influence of Power. Fair enough. But what if we move in a slightly different manner? What if the great task before us is to redirect Power's feeder streams such that the mighty river should be reduced to a harmless creek or be dried up altogether (having, as it does, no ultimate source of its own)?.
That is how I think we might concieve of torah as a universal law from below (and the same could also be asserted, perforce, for other non-statist forms of law). Since I've said more than enough on this score to date, let me rather speak in terms of alternate currencies.
To push this in terms of alternate currency may be helpful also since it more readily allows us to use the Marxist-Negrian language of labor-power. What I would like to advocate here is a concerted effort to substantially reduce the flow of nation-state or Empire's capital by way of labor-power's refusal to be bought solely in terms of, say, the American dollar. Initially, we might say that this includes worker demands for non-commodifiable benefits rather than pay raises. An immediate example is Eagleton's suggestion in his oh-so-short book on Marx that reduced work weeks (rather than? or in addition to? higher wages) would allow for a greater flowering of human creativity. To substantially reduce or actually dry up the flow of economic Power, however, we would have to go further and begin to trade our labor-power for goods and services more directly. In effect, we would have to make us of the potential of our labor power to recreate an outside to the banks of Power.
I've mentioned before that this area of North Carolina has an alternative currency known as the Plenty. Participating businesses agree to honor Plenty's as well as dollars; the stated goal is to keep business as local as possible. I think eventually the hope would have to be to move almost entirely to Plenty's or other forms of currency, to produce most goods and services locally, and to learn to trade for other goods and services with a rapidly decreasing dependence on the dominant American financial system. Of course, this is all quite preliminary. Unfortunately, I won't be staying in Durham long enough to try this out with respect to the Plenty, and it will probably be some time before we're settled into Toronto enough to figure out if they have anything going in terms of alternate currencies.
To return, then, ever so briefly to the Schiavo case that launched this discussion: during the course of public spectacle, both sides expressed enormous dissatisfaction with various manueverings within the realm of the Law. I have suggested that supporters of both sides were suffering the logic of biopower (rather than solely the right wing, per Santner's piece). What I have been arguing is that the Power of the Law can potentially be escaped wherever the power of law is exercised without recourse to systems of violence. In the Schiavo case that would have meant refusing to reify U.S. Courts by simply resolving the dispute without their "help" (to connect this forward as Dave suggested I might do, that might have involved an appeal to canon law - both sides claim Catholic faith. As discussed here at the weblog, both sides had something of a legitimate case to make. More on the problems and prospects of canon law during Ratzinger Week). As it stood, the actual legal issues had very little (in fact nothing) to do with the rightness or wrongness of Terri's death. Instead the issue was who controlled 'the right of death and power over life.' No surprisingly, the sacred canopy around the Malthusian Couple withstood even the most Powerful attempts to pierce it. Of course, that logic gave Terri's husband ultimate Power to speak for her, to determine the fate of her body even to the point of cremation. (Can anyone really imagine that things would have come out similarly if he had been the one in the coma and she had wanted to fend of extended family and friends?)
So, there you have it. Less sex, hopefully more substance.
(2:05 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Wednesday Cat QuestioningWhy do cats love to sit on printed matter so much? Magazines and newspapers seem equally appealling. Part of it is certainly the narcissistic desire to be at the center of your attention, but if a cat is presented with a dining room table that is completely clean except for a copy of The New Yorker, it's going to sit on The New Yorker.
I suppose I'd like to apply the insights of evolutionary psychology to this problem, since it's well-known that cats have complex and tortured psyches.
On a New Yorker-related note, last weekend, Anthony and I were on the Red Line, kind of late at night. I suppose that since the Red Line runs all night, homeless people must start congregating in there once it gets late, and last weekend it was especially cold out. So there we are, with probably two or three homeless people at our end of the car, and Anthony was telling me about how one of his professors has a technique for memorizing books -- you just make it into a house, by associating each chapter with a room and each major point with something in that room. "So let's say you wanted to do Plato's Republic. Book I is the living room, and maybe Glaucon's speech is the New Yorker sitting on the coffee table...." The whole conversation struck me as hugely incongruous with our actual surroundings.
Maybe it would have made more sense if we were on a bus in Oxford -- the homeless people there seemed to be much better read.
(8:19 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Today's Dead Socialist Watch is Antonio Gramsci. I think we need to start a fundraiser to send his Prison Notebooks to every member of the Democratic Party.
Another strategic issue: actually talking about other countries where the stuff we like is happening. Not just, "In Europe, problem x has been solved," because that's just projection. I mean going out there and saying, "In Scandinavia, they've basically eliminated chronic poverty. When someone's down on his luck, he doesn't have to worry about having to live out on the street. We're the richest, greatest nation on God's green earth -- if they can do that in the frozen wastes of Sweden, why can't we do it here?" Some have complained that people are ignoring the reality of, say, the objective superiority of socialized health care systems, but Joe Average in Buttfuck, Iowa, can't ignore what no one is saying. These are not "nuance" issues. We don't need to fool ourselves that convincing people to support progressive policies is like walking them through the Critique of Pure Reason. The basic principles of left policies and the basic facts supporting them are perfectly soundbite-able. They can be written in comic book form if necessary. Talking puppets can discuss these policies. If we want to play off the family mythology that seems to dominate our country, we could do that -- "With a properly-funded CTA, I am able to get home faster, and that means more time with my family -- Thanks, CTA!"
Or, you know, we could just bitch at each other about the crazy thing Bush did this week.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
(4:24 PM) | bitchphd:
Why I blog over hereSo that I can post quiz results without sullying my own blog! This one's for Ben Wolfson:
You are 'Latin'. Even among obsolete skills, the
tongue of the ancient Romans is a real
anachronism. With its profusion of different
cases and conjugations, Latin is more than a
language; it is a whole different way of
thinking about things.
You are very classy, meaning that you value the
classics. You value old things, good things
which have stood the test of time. You value
things which have been proven worthy and
valuable, even if no one else these days sees
them that way. Your life is touched by a
certain 'pietas', or piety; perhaps you are
even a Stoic. Nonetheless, you have a certain
fascination with the grotesque and the profane.
Also, the modern world rejects you like a bad
transplant. Your problem is that Latin has
been obsolete for a long time.
What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
(9:57 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Sign Up Sheet: Ratzinger WeekUPDATE: We are also holding a vote on whether to keep the moniker 'old' or change it to one of the proposed alternatives. I've provided some eye candy to ease the agony of the right to choose.
So in some ways, the last few weeks have already been Ratzinger Weeks. Maybe folks are or will burn out on this. What do you think?
Nevertheless, we have had five or six offers of contributions. I'm sensing that folks are busy, and that the week after next may be better than next week. As such, the following is a sign up sheet for May 8-14. Say which day you'd like in the comments box, and I'll update periodically. If 'had enough Ratzinger' or 'will have soon' is the consensus, we'll cancel.
Sunday May 8:
Monday May 9: Ryan Hansen-pot TBA later
Tuesday May 10: Old-Doug Johnson, Jewish Law and Ratzinger's Politics of the Cross
Wednesday May 11: Kotsko-Sexual Issues, especially Homosexuality with reference to Masturbation
Thursday May 12:
Friday May 13: Nate - Ratzinger, Aquinas, and Barth on communion ecclesiology, raising questions of ecumenism
Saturday May 14: JD -TBA
(9:45 AM) | F. Winston Codpiece IV:
This Ae Nighte, This Ae Night
Every nighte and all, I wonder, who is it from among you—or is it more than one?—that has sold me out? That has revealed, as they say, my identity? (For it is true: this is not my true name, my true identity.) It's keeping me up at night. Me, up at night. This will not do. There is no number "2" in poo.
The buzzing noise I hear tells me:
BSD is dyingyou are even now discussing amongst yourselves, who is it that has sold us out? Who has revealed, without revealing the name of the revealer, that it has been revealed to us? What revelation has been worked? Don't bother asking me: I won't tell you. I simply won't tell you. Will I even employ such circumlocutions as, "a little bird told me"? I will not. Who knows what even that might reveal! Will I speak to you in terms even the Dude could understand, and say, "I heard it through the grapevine"? Again: no. I am not here to communicate with the Dude or his hangers-on. From whom did I hear it? I see your head-scratching vexation. That's a neat trick you've taught vexation, to scratch your head. The pus-pumps you call hearts should swell, with pride. Perhaps, I hear your susurrant murmurs proposing, he heard it from a certain trout which dwells in a pond o'erhanging which there grows an almond tree, from eating the fruits of which the trout has grown wise, and gained the powers of speech? Perhaps. I will neither confirm nor deny. I won't go the extra mile just to see your smile 'cause I know all the while you're shit in so high a pile you'd need a fucking stile just to get to the other aisle. I would recommend eating that trout if you ever find it, though.
Monday, April 25, 2005
(11:04 PM) | bitchphd:
If y'all missed thisJeanne at Body and Soul has a very good post about Ratzinger, the Third Reich, and liberation theology, drawing out why the second issue matters by putting it in the context of the third.
And yes, I'll get on the Ratzinger and feminism post, but I just got back from NYC so give me a day or two to get to it.
(8:29 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Going PublicLast night, my household briefly watched the special American Top 40, hosted by the most boring and nondescript man working in entertainment today, Ryan Seacrest. After just a couple performances, Anthony and I had decided that every song performed could have been a Christian song -- not lyrically, but stylistically (a certain blandness that started to show up in mainstream rock as early as Dishwalla's "Counting Blue Cars"). Christian music is the unacknowledged root of the contemporary music scene. When I consulted with Robb about it afterward, he agreed wholeheartedly.
After Hayley turned off the TV in disgust, I turned to reading the latest issue of Harper's. Turns out it's not just the music! No, no -- all of us who were raised as evangelical Christians will be either pleased or horrified to learn that literally every aspect of that righteous subculture is "going mainstream." The stupid, hackneyed arguments about shit no one cares about? Going mainstream! The ignorant speculation about international politics based on half-remembered second-hand information about the Book of Revalation? Going mainstream! Perhaps best of all, the paranoid persecution fantasies are now publicized in detail by the very same mainstream media that is most often cited as a persecutor. Generic "church growth"-style evangelical Republicanism is the new sexy. The mainstream fashion whores who are catching this wave probably don't understand the movement, but that's okay, because there's not much to understand -- that's the whole point.
 The persecution fantasies are doubtless a product of guilt at the lack of persecution -- after all, the New Testament, largely written to those facing intense persecution, often takes the risk of declaring persecution a litmus test for proper faith. But with their accessible music style, their seamless integration into the capitalist order, their utter lack of insight into what's actually going on in the world, it is hard to take these Christians seriously as a threat, at least to the state, which they worship in much more elaborate ways than they worship the risen Christ. And doubtless, these Christians know it to some degree, know that they are so radically separated from real persecution and real death that they could not stand up to the real thing.
I've heard evangelical young people say they would die for their faith, and I always supressed a laugh. You don't have a faith to die for, you poor pathetic person. You don't have a religion worthy of the name. Your practices and beliefs are fully integrated into the mechanisms of power -- you are immediately recognizable as a completely normal, mediocre American, and you only get recognized as a Christian by advertising it in some superficial way. You don't take any position that is intrinsically unpopular -- after all, who doesn't want to pick on the downtrodden, the weirdos, the homeless guys who deserve it, the queers onto whom you project every sick sexual fantasy you've ever had, the vulnerable pregnant women whom you want to force to bear a child as punishment for their sin? That's what makes the persecution fantasies so much more disgusting, the fact that the best strategies of the downtrodden have been stolen from them, precisely by the powerful.
Generic "church growth"-style evangelical Republicanism, if it signifies anything at all, signifies a radical foreclosure of hope -- and when the feeding tube of hope is pulled, no one will be out in the streets protesting. No one is threatening Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell or James Dobson with the death, because at bottom, everyone knows that all three of them want to die and that all their followers want them to die, brutally, randomly, gunned down by some gay black man who got a woman pregnant and abandoned her.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
(8:05 PM) | Dave Belcher:
Samuel Wesley BelcherHere is a picture of my wife Jodi with our new baby boy, Samuel Wesley Belcher, born Friday, April 15th. I never knew how wonderful no sleep and poop could be. Samuel means something like "God's talkin'" in Hebrew. Jodi and I always understood this disruption of our lives to be a gift...we couldn't think of a better name for a gift from God than Samuel.
(4:52 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
SweetsI don't eat sweets every day, unless frosted mini wheats count. I want some, though. I want some cake with nice moist frosting. I want ice cream. I want one of those fancy kinds of ice cream with the chunks of candy or cookie dough in it. I want some coconut cream pie. I feel like I'll never be happy again unless I have some baked goods. Thankfully, Hayley is making some to go with dinner tonight, but I wanted it even before. I've been slightly cranky all day and generally "thrown off," and this is why.
Follow-up on that quiz I had everyone take, about what book I should read next -- yeah, I haven't so much as opened Interpretation of Dreams. In fact, I am thinking of starting Mason & Dixon. It's interesting that "literature" figures so heavily in my desert island list, since I never read the stuff. With philosophy or religious stuff, I am reading it because I want to get to the bottom of something and want to share the results with others -- if I were on a desert island, with no one to talk to, then who cares if, at bottom, Badiou is right about Paul or not? I would just want to read for the sake of reading, to enjoy the play of language -- any information or insight gained would be purely secondary; in fact, part of the pleasure would be that all these little insights pop up in such a way that they don't have to be threaded together, that something can appear to be true, indisputably true, purely on the strength of having been said, at random.
That's why, if I ever get done with a PhD and fail to get a job in academia, if I'm going to be locked into some meaningless job that will give me carpal tunnel and where my primary care doctor won't give me the referrals I need to get it fixed -- you know, if I ever get stuck on that desert island, which I have been stuck on before! -- then I'm going to read nothing but novels, all the time, or maybe the occasional poem. I only started reading philosophy and religion shit because I felt like I was in a situation where I needed to talk to people about it.
It's like eating cake. I know some people prefer pie, but I prefer cake, and I don't want to talk about it. If I'm going to be on the desert island, though, I want to have dessert every day, my favorite dessert.
Here's what Derrida says on this matter:
Literature I could, fundamentally do with out, in fact, rather easily. If I had to retire to an island, it would be particularly history books, memoirs, that I would doubtless take with me…. But if, without liking literature in general and for its own sake, I like something about it, which above all cannot be reduced to some aesthetic quality, to some source of formal pleasure [jouissance], this would be in place of the secret…: there where nevertheless everything is said and where what remains is nothing—but the remainder, not even of literature…. Literature is a modern invention, inscribed in conventions and institutions which, to hold on to just this trait, secure in principle its right to say everything. Literature thus ties its destiny to a certain noncensure, to the space of democratic freedom…. No democracy without literature; no literature without democracy.I really feel like this is cake vs. pie, though. Maybe Derrida would have gotten lonelier on his desert island than I will have gotten on mine.
UPDATE: In consultation with Robb, I have decided that wedding cake is my favorite type of cake. As such, I am going to start up a wedding planning company as a front, in order to have easier access to the cake.
(12:27 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
After the Revolution, everyone will have his or her own monograph on Christianity
Jean-Luc Nancy has finally gotten into the act, with La déclosion : déconstruction du christianisme 1. Here is the publisher's blurb:
«Le sens du monde est hors du monde», écrit Wittgenstein. Mais il faut ajouter que ce «dehors» est enveloppé au-dedans du monde. Il l'ouvre en lui-même. Il l'ouvre à ce qui ne se laisse pas capter comme «sens» et qui pourtant fait signe - signal, clin d'oeil, Wink, invite - vers ceci précisément que, dans la vérité, le sens s'échappe.Here is a review in Libération.
«Ceci» a longtemps reçu un nom divin. On ne propose pourtant ici aucun retour à la religion. On souligne au contraire que la raison exige à toute force et toutes affaires cessantes ce que Kant nommait l'inconditionné et que le nom divin masquait en le nommant pourtant : en le dé-nommant.
I apologize to those who don't read French.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
(6:22 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
That Book Meme: I swear it's not livejournal.I have accepted Infinite Thought's challenge to perpetuate the book meme, but not Adam's. He will not receive his free iPod.
1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be? A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari.
2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Yes, of course. I think the first that I can remember is "Cornflower" from the Redwall series. I know she's a mouse but I was like 8.
3. The last book you bought is: Félix Guattari: An Aberrant Introduction by Gary Genosko.
4. The last book you read: The Signature of the World: Or What is Deleuze and Guattari's Philosophy? by Éric Alliez.
5. What are you currently reading? The Future of An Illusion by Freud, The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, De l'impossibilité de la phénoménologie: Sur la philosophie française contemporaine par Éric Alliez.
6. Five books you would take to a desert island: The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis, A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari, Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche, Capitalism and Religion: The Price of Piety by Philip Goodchild, and The Complete Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
7. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why? Ben Wolfson, because I know it will annoy him, Olivia Hodges, because she just got online, and Joshua Swenson, because it might guilt him into reading more and I am all about using guilt.
(6:02 PM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Ratzinger on WarSince my post below makes a suggestion with respect to Weigel and Ratzinger on war, I feel obligated to point folks to this article from Catholic Peace Fellowship. The most relevant section includes this:
Yet perhaps the most important insight of Ratzinger came during a press conference on May 2, 2003. After suggesting that perhaps it would be necessary to revise the Catechism section on just war (perhaps because it had been used by George Weigel and others to endorse a war the Church opposed), Ratzinger offered a deep insight that included but went beyond the issue of war Iraq: "There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war'."
Still, I think my point in the post stands given Adam's post on Bush and Ratzinger. If Catholic politicians who supported the War were put under threat of excommunication by Ratzinger's office and if all those who intended to vote for politicians who supported the war were similarly threatened, then Catholics would have (rightly) had to simply sit out the presidential election. Furthermore, the Church's status as truly pro-life would have been legitimated.
I am encouraged that Ratzinger is such a staunch critic of war, but since he has pursued the abortion question so much more vigorously, one can only conclude that when push comes to shove there is more to his anti-abortion stance than simply 'pro-life' principles.
(5:06 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
In which the author perpetuates a "meme"Our dear friend Infinite Thought has chosen to pass along that book meme that has been showing up in my RSS feeds every day. She actually wanted either me or Anthony, but I am planning on passing it to Anthony in order to provide the greatest possible satisfaction to Ms. Thought.
1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be? Origins of Totalitarianism
2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? I've never not had a crush on a fictional character.
3. The last book you bought is: Saint Paul by Stanislas Breton.
4. The last book you read: Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals by Kant.
5. What are you currently reading? Jacques Lacan, Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse; very slowly making my way through Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (still on volume one)
6. Five books you would take to a desert island. James Joyce, Ulysses; Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow; Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript; Herman Melville, Moby Dick; Marcel Proust In Search of Lost Time (hoping the whole thing can count as one big book). I'm mainly going for volume here, obviously.
7. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why? Anthony Smith, Jared Woodard, and Bitch PhD, because -- I don't know why.
(10:57 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
CTA Map on Google MapsIf you use Mozilla, you can add a CTA map feature to go along with the satellite view on Google Maps. Here's how. If you're still using MapQuest instead of Google Maps, I think you need to switch, because the Google maps are much nicer and more readable.
Also, when you look at the CTA map, ponder a suggestion I have to improve Chicago's rail system -- a new line, provisionally called "The Kotsko Line," running from the Pulaski Orange Line, north through the Pulaski Green Line, then turning toward the Belmont Blue line and heading straight east over Belmont and maybe ending at the Belmont Red/Brown/Purple Line. The primary motivation is to improve rail service to Logan Square, where you can basically get to O'Hare or Downtown, but not to Lincoln Park, where everything is happening. I figured that we might as well extend it south as well, just to help those people out. The main reason I think this would never happen is that we're basically out of colors for lines -- what would it be, the Pink Line?
Oh, there's also the fact that the CTA is threatening to start charging more money for less service. Right.
(10:10 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Ratzinger in AmericaFrom Sidney Blumenthal, "Bush and Ratzinger: Holy Warriors":
About a week later, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent a letter to the U.S. bishops, pronouncing that those Catholics who were pro-choice on abortion were committing a "grave sin" and must be denied Communion. He pointedly mentioned "the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" -- an obvious reference to John Kerry, the Democratic candidate and a Roman Catholic. If such a Catholic politician sought Communion, Ratzinger wrote, priests must be ordered to "refuse to distribute it." Any Catholic who voted for this "Catholic politician," he continued, "would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion." During the closing weeks of the campaign, a pastoral letter was read from pulpits in Catholic churches repeating the ominous suggestion of excommunication. Voting for the Democrat was nothing less than consorting with the forces of Satan, collaboration with "evil."via wood s lot.
In 2004 Bush increased his margin of Catholic support by 6 points from the 2000 election, rising from 46 to 52 percent. Without this shift, Kerry would have had a popular majority of a million votes. Three states -- Ohio, Iowa and New Mexico -- moved into Bush's column on the votes of the Catholic "faithful." Even with his atmospherics of terrorism and Sept. 11, Bush required the benediction of the Holy See as his saving grace. The key to his kingdom was turned by Cardinal Ratzinger.
Friday, April 22, 2005
(4:24 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin [Влади́мир Ильи́ч Ле́нин]
(April 22, 1870-January 24, 1924)
Lenin Wikipedia entry
Archive of his writings
Time magazine's profile of Lenin as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century
Lenin mausoleum home page
Dogmatism and "Freedom of Criticism" from "What is to be done?"
“Freedom of criticism” is undoubtedly the most fashionable slogan at the present time, and the one most frequently employed in the controversies between socialists and democrats in all countries. At first sight, nothing would appear to be more strange than the solemn appeals to freedom of criticism made by one of the parties to the dispute. Have voices been raised in the advanced parties against the constitutional law of the majority of European countries which guarantees freedom to science and scientific investigation? “Something must be wrong here,” will be the comment of the onlooker who has heard this fashionable slogan repeated at every turn but has not yet penetrated the essence of the disagreement among the disputants; "evidently this slogan is one of the conventional phrases which, like nicknames, become legitimised by use, and become almost generic terms.”
[...] the demand for a decisive turn from revolutionary Social-Democracy to bourgeois social-reformism was accompanied by a no less decisive turn towards bourgeois criticism of all the fundamental ideas of Marxism. In view of the fact that this criticism of Marxism has long been directed from the political platform, from university chairs, in numerous pamphlets and in a series of learned treatises, in view of the fact that the entire younger generation of the educated classes has been systematically reared for decades on this criticism, it is not surprising that the “new critical” trend in Social-Democracy should spring up, all complete, like Minerva from the head of Jove. The content of this new trend did not have to grow and take shape, it was transferred bodily from bourgeois to socialist literature.
He who does not deliberately close his eyes cannot fail to see that the new “critical” trend in socialism is nothing more nor less than a new variety of opportunism. And if we judge people, not by the glittering uniforms they don or by the highsounding appellations they give themselves, but by their actions and by what they actually advocate, it will be clear that “freedom of criticism” means’ freedom for an opportunist trend in Social-Democracy, freedom to convert Social-Democracy into a democratic party of reform, freedom to introduce bourgeois ideas and bourgeois elements into socialism.
“Freedom” is a grand word, but under the banner of freedom for industry the most predatory wars were waged, under the banner of freedom of labour, the working people were robbed. The modern use of the term “freedom of criticism” contains the same inherent falsehood. Those who are really convinced that they have made progress in science would not demand freedom for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but the substitution of the new views for the old. The cry heard today, “Long live freedom of criticism”, is too strongly reminiscent of the fable of the empty barrel.
From "State and Revolution"
In capitalist society, providing it develops under the most favourable conditions, we have a more or less complete democracy in the democratic republic. But this democracy is always hemmed in by the narrow limits set by capitalist exploitation, and consequently always remains, in effect, a democracy for the minority, only for the propertied classes, only for the rich. Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners. Owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation, the modern wage slaves are so crushed by want and poverty that "they cannot be bothered with democracy", "cannot be bothered with politics"; in the ordinary, peaceful course of events, the majority of the population is debarred from participation in public and political life.
Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich--that is the democracy of capitalist society. If we look more closely into the machinery of capitalist democracy, we see everywhere, in the "petty"--supposedly petty--details of the suffrage (residential qualifications, exclusion of women, etc.), in the technique of the representative institutions, in the actual obstacles to the right of assembly (public buildings are not for "paupers"!), in the purely capitalist organization of the daily press, etc., etc.,--we see restriction after restriction upon democracy. These restrictions, exceptions, exclusions, obstacles for the poor seem slight, especially in the eyes of one who has never known want himself and has never been inclose contact with the oppressed classes in their mass life (and nine out of 10, if not 99 out of 100, bourgeois publicists and politicians come under this category); but in their sum total these restrictions exclude and squeeze out the poor from politics, from active participation in democracy.
Marx grasped this essence of capitalist democracy splendidly when, in analyzing the experience of the Commune, he said that the oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament!
Slavoj Zizek, Lenin's Choice:
The first public reaction to the idea of reactualizing Lenin is, of course, an outburst of sarcastic laughter: Marx is OK, even on Wall Street, there are people who love him today - Marx the poet of commodities, who provided perfect descriptions of the capitalist dynamics, Marx of the Cultural Studies, who portrayed the alienation and reification of our daily lives -, but Lenin, no, you can't be serious! The working class movement, revolutionary Party, and similar zombie-concepts? Doesn't Lenin stand precisely for the FAILURE to put Marxism into practice, for the big catastrophe which left its mark on the entire XXth century world politics, for the Real Socialist experiment which culminated in an economically inefficient dictatorship? So, in the contemporary academic politics, the idea to deal with Lenin is accompanied by two qualifications: yes, why not, we live in a liberal democracy, there is freedom of thought... however, one should treat Lenin in an "objective critical and scientific way," not in an attitude of nostalgic idolatry, and, furthermore, from the perspective firmly rooted in the democratic political order, within the horizon of human rights - therein resides the lesson painfully learned through the experience of the XXth century totalitarianisms.
What are we to say to this? Again, the problem resides in the implicit qualifications which can be easily discerned by the "concrete analysis of the concrete situation," as Lenin himself would have put it. "Fidelity to the democratic consensus" means the acceptance of the present liberal-parlamentary consensus, which precludes any serious questioning of how this liberal-democratic order is complicit in the phenomena it officially condemns, and, of course, any serious attempt to imagine a society whose socio-political order would be different. In short, it means: say and write whatever you want - on condition that what you do does not effectively question or disturb the predominant political consensus.
[I thought it only appropriate to do a "wood s lot"-style post for today, since he seems to have overlooked Lenin's birthday.]
(1:34 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Badiou Lecture NotesI decided it was easier to just link a Word document rather than go through and add HTML formatting to my notes, especially since they're too long for a blog post anyway. Enjoy!
(7:21 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional
I confess that I drove all the way to Kankakee last night, primarily for the sake of a "free" haircut. I confess that I have no idea why the Arby's in Bradley was absolutely packed out at 8:30 on a Thursday night, nor why the ATMs for every branch of my bank were being serviced at that time as well. I confess that 90% of the times that I call my family anymore, I'm driving somewhere.
The Badiou lecture last night was predictable, but not entirely predictable. It was one of the better Q&A sessions that I've attended. Badiou made clearer the ways in which Paul, for him, does not fit into his own philosophical project, and he was actually criticized for being insufficiently rigorous and historical in his treatment of Plato and Socrates, rather than Paul. (According to my professor who attended the lecture, a famous NT scholar named Betz was sitting very near us, but he did not ask his question publicly, preferring to approach Badiou afterward.) I have a lot to do this morning, but I took thorough notes and hope to write up a pretty good summary of the proceedings later today or this weekend.
[UPDATE: My business for the day is done. I have registered for a temp agency. I am ashamed of how proud I am that I did so well on their stupid tests. I am reviewing, 100 times, everything I did and said -- for instance, when the cute young lady was interviewing me, did I do anything that could remotely be construed as looking at unbusinesslike areas of her body? Did I make too much eye contact? Did it hurt me that I didn't get all the way down to the bottom of the very precisely formatted Word document they wanted me to make? And why couldn't I use some of my time left over from the Excel test to make changes to the Word thing? I think, though, that I'm mainly depressed because the last time I registered with a temp agency, I got an assignment the very day I walked in, then proceeded to work at that job, with an infinitely flexible schedule, for the next two years. The odds of repeating that were pretty slim, I suppose. I hope I get work from these guys before some other temp agency wants me to register, because it'd be a lot nicer not to repeat all those tests -- the initial self-esteem boost is great for an obedient test-taker such as myself, but the ensuing patheticness crash is brutal.]
[SECOND UPDATE: undercurrent has a nice skewering of the "European Graduate School." Once I'm ABD at CTS, I'm going to check my student loan balance, and if it's not high enough, I'm definitely going for the second doctorate from EGS. Then people can look at my CV and laugh and laugh -- what a sap! (By then, of course, it will be too late to go to law school.)]
[THIRD UPDATE: I confess that reading this article by Thomas Frank made me feel hopeless -- or maybe it's just the pouring rain and low temperatures, fast on the heels of beautiful spring-like weather.]
Confess away, my children.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
(9:50 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Ratzinger: a call for posts and a brief overviewWe need to have a Ratzinger Week, pronto (pending, of course, the approval of the weblog administrator(s)). I know we are to the end of the semester crunch or nearly so for most. So let's negotiate. If you are interested/willing to write per info below or otherwise, let's hear about it. Also say when the earliest time is that you could reasonably get around to doing something (sooner the better: I want a Ratzinger week, not a Benedict XVI week!).
I checked out a stack of English language Ratzinger books from the library last night in hopes of being able to do a single post overview of issues of interest to me. Not possible in a short period of time. There's just too much there. Ratzinger IS a theological heavyweight. As such, some of the things he is rightly criticized (or praised) for at the macro level owe a great deal to more nuanced decisions made in theological trenches over the course of four or five decades. For all his faults, he was seriously involved in Vatican II. Nate, however, has already mentioned a shift in his thinking on Vatican II after 1968. I think there are also some real continuties with his pre-1968 thinking that should be fleshed out a bit.
A brief overview of issues of weblog interest, with some suggestions for topics and posters:
Liberation Theo: We need at least two or three posts here since leftist/communist political discussion are the bread and butter of the weblog. Nate seems quite familiar with the history of the dispute between Ratzinger and Latin American lib. theologians (I'm only familiar a bit with Gutierrez), and I think Adam or Anthony should be interested in doing something here as well. Also, I spent a good deal of time last night with the book on Bonaventure's philosophy of history. This is where the rubber hits the road folks. In good Catholic fashion, Ratzinger wants to have his Franciscan cake and eat with gluttonous Thomas too. Nein!!! Right where the book begins to get good, Ratzinger cuts it off with a wimper (Saints Augustine and Bonaventure, it is conceded, have a major difference on whether or not the kingdom comes in history or no ... but both of their major works on the matter end w/ the word "peace" - isn't that special). Marxists generally, and liberation theology particularly generally take their stand squarely with the messianic historiography of Bonaventure and the Franciscans (the common genealogical ancestor mediated for Marx through Hegel being Joachim of Fiore). Discard may want to post here, given a related paper on time, history, etc. that he just finished.
Ecumenism, etc: one or two posts. I will post on Judaism. I read Ratzinger's short, but brimmingly brilliant book on Israel and the church at the very outset of my investigations three or four years ago. I reread it last night. Ratzinger actually! uses the phrase "the universalizing of the Torah by Jesus" ... I'll stop here, except to say that here Ratzinger is actually quite radical. He consciously, though very subtly, overturns both Aquinas and Barth in a couple of short, stunning moves (still something very important to skewer him for - though not something that will get the Simon Wiesenthal Center up in arms). If someone else wants to post on Islam or other religions, that would be great, but isn't strictly necessary in the same way a post or two on lib. theo is if this thing is going to get off the ground. The book on Israel and the covenant I am referring to has a bit on other religions that I can't evaluate as well as I can the stuff on Judaism, plus he doesn't take them as seriously.
BTW: from my perusal last night I would suspect that the best way in English to get a handle on Ratzinger theologically/philosophically/poltically would be to pick up the collection of essays called *Church, Ecumenism, Politics*. Published in English in 1988, this book appears to me to be the best way to become quickly familiar with the major strands of R's thought (it includes at least one essay directly on the liberation theo question). For a general intro, perhaps less heady, *The Ratzinger Report* which is a series of interview responses may also do the trick.
Gender and Sexuality: Adam linked us to this earlier via NPR which, according to Kotsko, "claimed that it illustrates that Ratzinger is as feminist as it is possible to be while still not allowing women into the priesthood." My wife and I read it over and discussed it a bit. It is certainly better than the fundamentalism that many of us grew up with, but there is certainly some things to be said against it. Besides the brief reference to Jesus having balls, I'm not sure from this document how R. justifies not having women priests in light of his general engagements with Scripture and Tradition (which I've noticed to be generally strong, though with a definite tendency to ellide material, either in support of conservative or liberal positions, which conflict with what he is after - more in my post on Judaism). Perhaps someone can trace this down further (I do know that Jesus' jimmy is the ultimate reason - I just have to imagine that there is more extensive discussion somewhere). I also haven't found, in my brief look, whether Ratzinger has written anything substantial on his own on the sexuality questions. This was one of JPII's specialties before becoming pope, so maybe he just left that intellectual work to him. Someone want to do Ratzinger on sex?
Culture of Life Issues: War, abortion, death penalty. I didn't know the answer at all and had to ask around here at Duke to find out that Ratzinger has a reputation for being quite strict on Just War issues to the point that he rules out all modern warfare (so the rumor goes). It would be especially nice if someone knows more about this. He has said publicly already, I guess, that he took Benedict XVI because B15 was so anti-WWI. (Why is the American press so tunnel visioned on sexual questions that it can't exploit such things!) Now if he would become as nasty of a hound dog on this as he is apparently willing to be about abortion, a host of other errors might be marginalized a bit. Let's say for instance that B16 decided to really give the US hell by sanctioning the most disappointing man in America, George Weigel. Weigel was handpicked to write the JPII's biography, and then had the audacity to sign the statement of principles of the Project for a New American Century, an absolute middle finger to Catholic Just War principles (see especially this report). If the Catholic curia want to deny communion to those who defy it on life issues, start with Weigel, then perhaps we can take such actions with respect to abortion seriously. Anyone want to go down this road further? Or go in another direction with life and death issues?
Other Possible Topics: Vatican II generally; Church-State issues; Opus Dei, Fascism, Nazism (lots of smoke and fury here, any substance?); Pedophile scandal (a way to do sex and collegiality issues together?), Race Issues (any leads here?), philosophical theology generally (would be nice to have someone size up the center of R. thinking - my initial suspicisions: Barth as mediated by Von Balthasar is highly influential, especially evident in the way he handles Scripture and tradition; the polemics against Joachim in a way that "rescues" Francis and Bonaventure may be the key to almost everything - if the church "can't have" Francis/Bonaventure and Aquinas ... big trouble for R).
Feel free to propose other topics. If we can get some quick feedback, maybe we can pick a week and start signing people up (again, approval pending!).
(9:48 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
On loving the MatrixAlphonse von Werden has written a brilliant piece:
It's a little longish, but worth it in my opinion.
It is not at all surprising that in The Corporation’s fantasy and phantasy, the liberation of humanity is certainly not to be undertaken through the re-expropriation of cities like Chicago, with symphony orchestras and hotels on the lake. The plan for liberation which The COrporation offers its consumers involves, instead, humanity’s renouncement of all dreams of that kind, our repudiation of our own works and product, our acknowledgement that this - every product of human craft, the whole of the commons - is all indeed so profoundly the property of the Corporation that in fact it cannot exist without the Corporation. The Corporation is emitting it like heat from its pores. It's exclusive magic sustains the illusion of the solidity of all humanity is deluded into imagining it built. Without The Corporation to generate our prosperous world, to write novels and to make films, to build homes and fry eggs, we are 'free' to be sure, but cold, bored, imperilled, a most precarious existence.
The Corporation’s recommended dream for humanity is the dream of renouncement. One can choose however, what to renounce - your world or your freedom, your money or your life. The heroic option entails slinking off into the despoiled rubblescape to scrounge and forage and fight for survival. That is the rebels option. Humanity departs from Eden naked, because Eden always belonged to that God or demiurge - evil or good does not matter, what matter is ‘creative,’ ’productive’ and uniquely, exclusively so - and never to humanity, who was created to be a slave in ignorance there or alternatively to brave the bogus ‘freedom‘ of the wilderness, expropriated and alienated, while the Eden and its magic productivity is enclosed for the invisible elite masquerading as In- and Super- Human.
Or, if you choose to retain your comforts, to reappropriate them - if you choose socialism - you must renounce 'reality' 'authenticity' and 'freedom.' Your city will be reduced to a bleak, desolate labyrinth. (Or worse.)
The upshot of all these Matrix arrangements is a product whose effect is to create in humanity a radical alienation from, a disgust for and suspicion of, nature, ourselves and all our creations. The goal is to inculcate in humanity a state akin to various gnostic mysticisms and Buddhisms, which tends toward encouraging the desire in humanity to see itself and all its accomplishments utterly destroyed.
Like Fight Club, then, somewhat.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
(3:00 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
The Codpiece Irregularity;
[UPDATE: Toward the end of this post, I propose a Meta-Contest -- namely, a contest to see who can come up with the best idea for an Internet contest. Apparently, this is not The H is O, where people are willing and able to wade through a sea of incoherent nonsense without any guarantee of there being a "point." So scroll down and leave comments! Codpiece Comments!]
or, The Meta-Contest
[Blogger's "so-called 'post-recovery system or feature'" did not "work" -- and so, like Moses, I am painstakingly rewriting what the ungrateful throng of blogites disobeyed and spurned already, had already disobeyed and shattered themselves before its institution; this primordial or originary disobedience leaves much for us to consider, and so we shall perhaps return to it later.]
Despite being slandered and disenfranchised -- even, in the final reckoning, by Adam Kotsko himself, who will do anything to please a woman, whether on the Internet or elsewhere -- I dare to post. And here: precisely here, at The Weblog, The Weblog, The Weblog Above Every Other Weblog. I write here, here precisely, for this very reason: namely, that I can. I can write here. I am able to write here because I have been enabled to do so. I can write here in the style and language I choose; and so:
- Je peux écrire ici
- Puedo escribir aquí
- Posso scrivere qui
- Eu posso escrever aqui
- Ich kann hier schreiben
- Ik kan hier schrijven
- Я могу написать здесь
Three Coding Systems for the Western European-kings under the sky,Irregular, you say? I am nothing if not -- and it is precisely this if not that we must question, investigate, and interrogate -- irregular, full to the brim with contradiction and solemnity. And in view of this, in celebration and commemoration of my very exclusion and rejection -- remembering, together, in a kenotic movement into the world or worlds -- that I announce my unprecedented act, which will be to inaugurate, right now, here, today, for us, quickly and without delay or DeLay --
Seven for the Asian-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for the Mortal Slavs doomed to die,
One for the Dark Codpiece on his dark throne
In the Land of The Weblog where the Shadows lie.
One Coding System to rule them all, One Coding System to find them,
One Coding System to bring them all and in the darkness bind them,
In the Land of The Weblog where the Shadows lie.
-- a contest. But this will not have been merely one contest among others. Far from being even an exemplary contest among the many examples of contests that have come before it and that will come, in endless succession throughout the millenia, after it, this contest would be the very contesticity or contestation of the contest, for here it is precisely the contest as contest -- if there is any contest at all -- that is at stake [en jeu].
As announced or prefigured in my title, this would be the Meta-Contest; namely, a contest to see who can come up with the best idea for an Internet contest. And the reward is reward itself -- performatively (or constatively?) the winner shall be awarded his victory as award and re-ward, an iteration of previous awards or a-wards even in this contestation of the contest. Voting is open. No one will be excluded, a priori or a postiori, whether by the contest coordinator (that is, "me") or by any participant or non-participant, real or imagined. This means that you can vote regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, handicap(ability), nationality, religion, creed, membership or lack of membership in the rock group Creed, and any other characteristic or trait that has ever been or ever shall be adduced as a disqualification for participation in the processes of voting. There shall be no exclusion even of those who, for whatever reason, wish not to sign up for or disclose "their own" e-mail address and so fill in their Internet patron's address in a comment box. Without exception, everyone except the troll variously known as
- troll du jour
- low-rent empiricist positivist
- norad of the one testicle
- Glenn Reynolds
(11:48 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
For more information on the PopeThe Virtual Stoa is your one-stop source for all Ratzingeria.
(8:19 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
HypotheticalLet's say that the only reason that I would go to the trouble of learning Italian would be to do a translation of Passolini's Saint Paul screenplay. If I were to secure the rights to do the translation and only then set to work learning Italian, would that be an example of
- unspeakable arrogance
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
(9:52 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Badiou is coming to the U of CThursday.
After giving up my chance to see Badiou, I am receiving it back -- on the strength of the absurd.
(8:26 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Ratzinger on Liberation TheologyThe new pope has spoken on liberation theology, the most consistently slandered theological movement in the history of Christianity:
An analysis of the phenomenon of liberation theology reveals that it constitutes a fundamental threat to the faith of the Church. At the same time it must be borne in mind that no error could persist unless it contained a grain of truth. Indeed, an error is all the more dangerous, the greater that grain of truth is, for then the temptation it exerts is all the greater.He specifies that he is limiting his purview to those liberation theologies that have "embraced the marxist fundamental option." Lest we somehow come up with a way of understanding what the fuck that means, then-Cardinal Ratzinger took care that the only proper name of any theologian that is mentioned in this document is Bultmann (1884-1976) -- who is safely dead and unable to answer any charges. The reader is left wondering: has Gutierrez embraced the marxist fundamental option? Has Boff? Certainly Miranda has, but no one reads Miranda, so that's fine.
Furthermore, the error concerned would not have been able to wrench that piece of the truth to its own use if that truth had been adequately lived and witnessed to in its proper place (in the faith of the Church). So, in denouncing error and pointing to dangers in liberation theology, we must always be ready to ask what truth is latent in the error and how it can be given its rightful place, how it can be released from error's monopoly.
Now I remember, again, what I was hoping for when I hoped for a Latin American pope.
UPDATE: The Hitler Youth thing came up in comments. Ogged sends this link that explains that "HJ membership was made compulsory for youths over 17 in 1939, and for all over the age of 10 in 1941." This news story agrees with all the others I've read on this topic:
He joined the Hitler Youth aged 14, shortly after membership was made compulsory in 1941.There's a lot to criticize Ratzinger for, but unless someone produces definitive proof that Hitler Youth membership was not required and that Ratzinger is lying about his level of participation or enthusiasm, then we might as well just stick to criticizing the homophobia, sexism, etc.
He quickly won a dispensation on account of his training at a seminary. “Ratzinger was only briefly a member of the Hitler Youth and not an enthusiastic one,” concluded John Allen, his biographer.
TANGENTIALLY RELATED UPDATE: Is it really necessary for Atrios to have a post up entitled "F--- the Jews", which is made up only of a link? (I know that I am usually not shy about using naughty language, but this seems like it should be an obvious exception.)
(8:13 PM) | bitchphd:
CongratulationsTo Mr. Kotsko, who, rumor has it, has now Mastered the Arts.
(8:12 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
MasteryI successfully defended my thesis today. They asked very difficult questions, which I attempted to answer to the best of my ability, and afterward we went to the pub. I'm going to be seeing a lot more of these people for the next few years, and I'm glad.
I still need to finish up the one course I'm enrolled in, on the New Testament Epistles, then I'm done with the MA and ready to move on up to the PhD. At the pub, I floated the idea of starting up a new online journal under the banner of CTS, and they were all excited at the prospect. Once everyone is done with the blog book stuff, I fully expect you to be submitting manuscript after manuscript to The Provisionally Titled Scholarly Journal.
If anyone is curious about the blog book, we have received nearly everyone's proposed topics, and Jared and I will be going through sometime within the next couple weeks to hammer out exactly what topics everyone will be writing on and how we will divide that into sections. If this lives halfway up to my expectations, it will be a very cool and exciting project, and I'm glad Jared thought of it.
(12:27 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
The mutual goal of Christians and Communists.I have to wonder if such a thing is ever to be possible now. I have a bad feeling about this German, his theology, and his vision for the Catholic church. My faith isn't what it used to be, call it backsliding or what have you, but this certainly doesn't help. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, but we all know that's just a way to say the Lord doesn't do much work at all.
Monday, April 18, 2005
(10:44 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Congratulations to Cap'n PeteGorss reports that the good Cap'n is now the father of a newborn son.
(6:00 PM) | Brad:
On the Conference, Part TwoOkay, fuck what I said about not posting again about the conference. Since JD actually wants to hear about the its content, rather than my adventures thereabout, thus betraying the fact that he does not know me or my general hatred for conferences, I thought a few more words might be in order. Rarely do I pay attention well enough to ask a coherent question at these things; when I do pay attention, I typically stammer and spit my way through a question that leaves the speaker with their own 'who farted?' expression. Oddly enough, though, I did pay attention this time around. This says nothing, though, about my maturity as an academic, or my heightened sense of intellectual responsibility. Rather, it was the presence of Jabba the Hut and Scankodemic, of whom I write in my first post. Without them, I would be at a total loss.
I will not rehearse the contents of everyone's papers. I say this mostly because if I feel qualified to say anything at all, it is about the philosophers' papers; and I can say quite definitively that neither of them (I'm exempting R. Kearney here, because I don't think anyone here cares about his hermeneutical philosophy) did anything especially different than what you might expect them to do. If you know their projects, you pretty much know their papers. It's like visiting Mount Rushmore ... or the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.
As for the others, here's quick run-down of the ones I recall off the top of my head:
1) Daniel Boyarin was one of the most explicit when it came to 'conversing' with the philosophical perspective. He had many good things to say about Badiou's purpose, if not his method of getting there. He was, needless to say, troubled by Badiou's general unwillingness to get his hands dirty with history, or at least to acknowledge its place in his philosophy. At the end of the day, however, I don't think this was Boyarin's biggest problem with Lugosi, I mean Badiou. No, I think it was Badiou's Platonism that Boyarin could not abide the most expedient way to get at their shared political goals. Cutting through a lot of the textual legwork that he did, which was all surprisingly interesting, Boyarin seemed most divided from Badiou in terms of PHILOSOPHICAL disposition. His shift into thinking Paul as Sophist, and ensuing emphasis on Badiou's neglect of history, then, seemed a little convenient; but it was at least a gesture in the direction of conversational engagement.
2) E.P. Sanders had not read Badiou or Zizek, and I can well imagine that they had not read him. Sanders clearly did not expect too many biblical studies people, because he took a couple of minutes in his talk to actually explain the nature of the Septuagint -- going so far as to point out the significance of 'LXX'. The point of his talk was to discuss how a collection of passages in Romans show Paul to be a salvific universalist; that one should not be bothered by the apostle's exclusivist, damning writings in other books, because Paul is not a systematician nor a theologian, so he can change his mind if he damn well pleases. Sanders' contributious to any conversation with Badiou's and Zizek's universalism were peripheral, which is not to say details along the way cannot be brought to bear on the conversation. Such was a task, however, in which nobody seemed too interested this weekend.
3) Karen Armstrong .... don't know. I skipped her session, opting for an afternoon strolling through campus and downtown. A friend tells me however, though he perhaps should not be believed because he was not there either, that her session was over a mere sixty minutes into it, and nobody looked especially thrilled.
4) Dale Martin, as one might have well expected if one knows anything at all about Martin, cast his lot in with Zizek and Badiou -- with the caveat that Badiou, in particular, really should not de-emphasize the significance of (Jewish) identity for Paul the way he does, or disregard the fact that Paul was not about starting a new religion. The point about identity is something that Boyarin ventured into, as well, but did not seem to sustain -- at least not to my recollection. In contrast to Boyarin, Martin did not seem bothered by Zizek's and Badiou's philosophical dispositions, and went the furthest to in trying to reconcile and/or affirm their philosophical projects with the texts they use. And yet, to be sure, his paper was also (so says my biblical studies companions) a bit shallow -- though I think this is mostly due to the fact he had anticipated speaking to a lot of philosophical students. Though, then again, I sat though a pretty shallow presentation of his in Glasgow, too. So, maybe not.
5) Paula Fredriksen spent a loooooong time talking about Origen and Augustine, and very nearly put everybody to sleep in the process. But, in the final minutes of her lecture, finally made her way around to a point: namely, that what philosophers / theologians do is to systematize texts that are not systematic; where historians find layers and layers of context. I really could not fathom a more banal observation. And yet she followed it up by saying that what philosophers / theologians do with texts is okay, so long as they announce their intentions ahead of time. And then we all snorted ourselves from our slumber, shrugged, and walked out into the sun, unaware of just what in the hell we'd done with ninety minutes of our lives.
6) I honestly do not recall much of Kearney's paper. At this point I was still fighting a wicked hangover from the evening before, wherein an evil waitress at a German restaurant gave us poor alternative directions back to the hotel, assuring us that her way was shorter. I do recall, however, he had some nice things to say about Agamben's book, followed by his typical reserations about -- i.e., for those who have never read Kearney, that it either doesn't allow for or explain the hermeneutical decision making he regards as key. He is I think, right, about decision-making; but he is so often wrong about his indictments of people he regards as lacking in the ability to make such a decision. If only he could read other philosophers as well as he can movies. If only I could've been at a movie during the final two papers!
Everyone who participated in the various Paul / immanence / blah blah debates on The Weblog will be happy to know that the conference ended pretty much where we did: at a general impasse. I will say, though, that Zizek said something that made a lot of sense, albeit to me -- it is something I think I once said on the Weblog, too, and I desire nothing but affirmation from public intellectuals who (apparently) pose for pictures naked in the trees of Slovenia. He made a very general statement, as you would certainly expect, about the dialectial dynamics of history and philosophy (in terms of this Pauline debate) -- i.e., about how the 'conversation' is predicated on the constitutive failures of both, and that basically there would be a big problem if there was (a) no historical corrective of the philosophical abstraction and (b) no philosophical abstraction of the historical corrective. In fact, this is even something that Paula Fredriksen seemed to accept, whom Boyarin applauded with surprising zeal. And yet, of course, I realize this is also inadequate to a lot of people, because it would often seem to work more in favor of philosophical abstraction than historical corrective. This is perhaps a valid criticism ... and is definitely one that Boyarin made repeatedly.
The question no one really explored was where the this 'conversation' was supposed to be headed. But ... a la Derrida, I don't guess it would be much of a conversation if it was preprogrammed.
(5:59 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
I am a participantBen Wolfson is running a contest. Bitch PhD is co-sponsoring the contest just mentioned. I am participating in it.
- For many millennia, man has tried to create ways to measure time. His continued failure to achieve this goal has led many to believe that it is impossible to achieve. In this essay, I will demonstrate (1) the history of previous attempts, (2) the reason for their failure, and (3) the means by which this long-standing ambition of man was finally satisfied.
- The earliest attempt to measure time was a sundial. This approach had many drawbacks. First, to see any movement of the shadow, you have to walk away and come back. Second, it did not work in all weather conditions. Third, the time was measured only indirectly -- you could infer from the movement of the shadow that a certain portion of a "day" had passed, but direct measurement of time was still not achieved. The same went for subsequent developments -- the clock, the watch, and other similar devices that have come down to us through the generations.
- All of these methods failed to measure time because they failed to gather time. They were equivalent to attempting to measure milk using the unit called the "glug," inferring from some secondary occurence that a particular amount of milk had been used -- when in reality, the best way to measure milk is to collect it into a receptical of known volume. Heretofore, no receptical for time has been developed.
- It is only with the development of the Internet that such a receptical has become available to man. Instead of being measured in such transitory units as "seconds" and all that other nonsense, time is now measured in permanently available quanities such as blog posts, blog comments, e-mails, and IM conversations. Instead of experiencing time as a passing thing, like a "glug" of milk, man can now feel the full weight of time, and everyone who cares to see it can look at the time congealed in various locations of the Internet.
In conclusion, man has finally achieved a millenia-old goal: measuring time. He previously had to rely on indirect methods of measurement, but now he can collect and ponder time using the technological advance called The internet. Who knows what man has up his sleeve next!
(3:20 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece IV:
Essay this!It is an old adage that numbers do not lie, that within numbers lies the truth. How can we best access this truth, however? This question and others have riddled mankind since the discovery of counting. When this discovery took place is unknown, since the application of counting to recording dates and time didn't occur until some time after the discovery of counting itself (though how long after, of course, we do not know).
Nevertheless, several proposals have been proposed by mathematicians attempting to sup the sweet artichoke heart of truth, without being pricked by the thistles of lying falseness. Perhaps certain numbers have a higher share of truth than others, and by combining them through addition or multiplication, and then subtracting out the numbers with a lesser proportion of truth, we may, as it were, "sweat" out the sweet sweet truth from within its hard candy coating of lies. This method was favored by ancient geometers in determining the value of π, but it is unclear how to go from π--which is, after all, just another number, perfect though it may be--to the truth of π. The truth of pie.
Other methods attempted through the ages include sorting through the numbers and retaining only those with exceptionally high truth content, and then forcing these through increasingly fine meshes which retain truth and let lies through, known as the Sieve of Eratosthenes, and the calculus, in which the summation of the many infinitesimal kernels of truth that underlie all truly successful lies is thought to result in a truth of appreciable size. It is said that "calculus", which means "little stone" in Greek, is so named because Leibniz experienced an epiphany one day when passing a kidney stone: the little deposits of calx, though small in and of themselves, were capable of becoming amassed into a form capable of causing appreciable pain, just as calculus asserts small deposits of truth are joined together to form one big truth.
These have been the chief methods attempted through the ages. However, not one of them has been wholly satisfactory. Perhaps what we need to do, is to investigate the adage itself, for while it asserts that numbers do not lie, it is silent on the question of its own truth-telling. If a statement does not assert of itself either that it is or is not false, it is impossible to know what to make of it! In particular worth investigation is the conjunction of claims that "numbers do not lie", and that "within numbers lies truth". First of all, if within numbers lies truth, perhaps what we need to do is merely believe the opposite of what a number says! But it is hard to see how to reconcile that with the first claim. Maybe it just means that numbers have lying hearts, but they'll be true to their lover anyway.
In conclusion, the question of truth in numbers is a vexed question. Perhaps it will never be answered.