Friday, March 31, 2006
(7:47 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: On Pretty Good TermsI confess that I slept twelve hours last night.
I confess that I can be very needy in relationships. I confess that the rhetorical style of evangelical Republicanism makes me angry, and it makes me even angrier when it is used by someone who is clearly very intelligent.
I confess that my halfway-serious call to put together a Webloggian AAR panel has met with more success than I ever could have imagined: our proposal for a star-studded panel interrogating Theology and the Political has been accepted. I confess that Nate Kerr did the bulk of the actual work of getting people on board, such that I can claim credit for little more than the initial gesture toward "doing something." I confess that the panel will be made up of Adam Kotsko (i.e., me), Daniel Barber (perhaps better known as "discard the name"), Joshua Davis (either "Josh" or "JD" in comments), and Conor Cunningham, with Nate presiding. Respondants will be Graham Ward, John Milbank, and Slavoj Zizek. I confess that this is probably a better way for "us" to address Theology and the Political than our few abortive attempts at a blog-based reading group or theme week.
I confess that this will bring to a decisive end my long-time quest to avoid meeting Slavoj Zizek in person. I confess that I will also be giving a paper on Zizek's reading of Paul (such as it is) at the SBL, so that I will max out at two "appearances" on my first trip to the AAR/SBL. This is exciting.
I confess that this is part of a string of good news, but I'm not yet worried about corresponding bad news because all of this has happened since I got screwed over with my taxes. I confess that if someone were to offer to pay my taxes for me ($420 net, including the small refund I got from the state of Illinois), I would accept the money. I confess that I have an easy-to-use PayPal link in the right-hand sidebar.
Dearly beloved, let us pray:
O great Blog-God, Lord of mercy and forgiveness, you have promised us that those who comment on the Friday Afternoon Confessional will receive pardon and peace. We come before you a humble people, full of petty annoyances and faults. Grant us, we pray, the grace to make the good confession and so be healed through the cleansing pixels of HaloScan. We ask this in the name of Ben Wolfson, your son. Amen.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
(8:55 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Help MeI am drawing up a program of study. I need help coming up with a bibliography for two exams in particular: Philosophy of Religion and Theories of Community. Here is what I need help with.
On Philosophy of Religion, I've pretty well got the continental "religious turn" stuff down. What I need is more of the classic stuff -- what would be assigned in a normal class on philosophy of religion. Also, a few key books in analytic philosophy of religion would be great.
On Theories of Community, I'm thinking basically "political theory" with a de-emphasis on the state. So first of all, I kind of want a list of the standard works in political theory in the modern period -- Rousseau, Hobbes, whatever. If anyone could point out some prominent feminst political theorists, that would be great.
Getting women on both these lists is important.
Any suggestions you could give would be great. Please avoid suggesting things that I would already have listed due to my obvious interests -- Agamben, Derrida, Zizek, Nancy, whatever. Do not avoid suggesting things that "of course one would have on the list," though, because I do not happen to be that generic person who is well-acquainted with the conventional wisdom. Autodidacticism has its pitfalls.
Thank you in advance.
(8:17 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Lunchtime Immigration ProtestLongtime reader and commenter Brey sent me this message and asked me to pass it along:
Dear friends and advocates,
I am personally supporting the event below that takes place on Monday at noon. I hope you can join me.
I am convinced that the current anti-immigrant effort in Washington is directly tied to racism and ethnocentrism. The Monday event is meant to show that a wide array of people believe that immigrants should be treated with respect and dignity. And, that a majority of Americans believe in a nation for people of all races, colors, religions, and ethnicities.
Your presence will add to the display of support for those who work and live with us here in America.
I hope you will stop by for a few minutes or the whole hour. Bring a sandwich and a beverage and make it a day out to lunch if you like.
Citizens for Immigration!
Lunchtime Demonstration on Federal Plaza
Join Civil Rights, Social Justice, and Housing Rights Advocates
Showing Our Support for Documented and Undocumented Immigrants in America
PLACE: Federal Plaza
DATE: Monday April 3, 2006
TIME: 12:00 Noon - 1:00 pm
You get 1 hour of the work day to do what you want.
Spend a few minutes to Do What's Right!
Join Civil Rights Advocates and Show Washington
Voters Stand with Immigrant Families and Workers!
(12:39 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Who's the American Version of Carl SchmittMy time is short and expensive ($5 per half hour at a fancy Westin in Ottawa - here for a conference on street ministry, good gosh) ...
I've been thinking this week about who the American version of Carl Schmitt would be. Almost certainly dumber, of course. But, I mean, who would Taubes write Ad ____ against. I got to thinking about this after picking up a book I was given a long time ago by George Weigel. He may get my vote. A line in the book that jumped out at me regarded the way that liberal democracy couldn't supply the justification for itself on its own and needed Christian social teaching ...
Others that come to mind, Reinhold Niebuhr (dead, and yes I betray my Duke heritage), Robert George, and this list should be helpful (notice no Weigel - strange since he signed PNAC, as is listed next to so many names). Anyway, thoughts, suggestions, votes?
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
(3:12 PM) | Brad:
A Lengthy, But Well-Deserved, Block QuoteCurtis White, author of the fairly recent book The Middle Mind: Why Americans Don't Think for Themselves (which I blogged about here), has somehow channeled a year or so worth of Weblog posts, comments, and errant IMs and emails about political and civil disobedience and resistance into a nine-page article in the April issue of Harpers. It is, of course, not yet online, but I highly recommend you find a print copy somewhere and read it.
White is, in my opinion, an uneven thinker, and I'm not going to be so bold and endorse everything he says (though I'm far less ambivalent about this article than I was his book) -- e.g., he alludes to"Christ" in a fairly problematic sense, I think -- but there is enough there to more than balance out the weaker parts. For legal reasons, I cannot reproduce the whole thing, though I have scanned a copy so if you want it let me know, but here's a taste:
According to our leading wise men, the great contemporary moral and political question of the age is: Are we fundamentally a Christian or an Enlightenment culture?...What's doubly strange is that Americans should follow with such fascination and intensity this old dispute over our national character while entirely ignoring the dominant ethos of our culture for the last two hundred years. It should go without saying that it is capitalism that most defines our national character, not Christianity or the Enlightenment....
If we live in a "culture of death," as Pope John Paul II put it, it is a culture that is made possible by the advocates of both Reason and Revelation.... Ours is a culture in which death has taken refuge in a [capitalist] legality that is supported by both reasonable liberals and Christian conservatives.... When Wal-Mart pays its employees impoverishing wages without adequate health or retirement benefits, we justify it out of respect for Wal-Mart's "freedom," its "reasonable" need to make itself "competitive," and because what it does is legal.... Or, perhaps most destructively, the legality of property rights condemns nature itself to annihilation even as we call it the freedom to pursue personal happiness and prosperity through the ownership of private property.... In its most extreme and universal form, our constitutional rights are reducible to the right not to have to love our neighbor. The irony is that the more energetically we pursue our individual, socially isolated right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," the deader the social life and natural worlds become.
And yet for all the inevitability that surrounds the Christian/Enlightenment divide, it should not be so difficult for us to find a third option in our intellectual traditions, even if this tradition seems mostly defeated and lost.... This tradition began in Europe with Romanticism and in America with the Concord Transcendentalists.... [Ralph Waldo] Emerson imagined that the world is held together by a spirit that is not of the Church, and certainly not of Reason, but of a direct experience of the world. Emerson made this Romantic idea American, and he gave it first to Henry David Thoreau....
For Thoreau, when the time was out of joint, when the state had failed its own idea of itself, he felt a necessity to remove himself from it, to refuse its social order, in spite of the personal price he would have to pay for the gesture.... For us, too, things seem out of joint. America is not America.... Thoreau's disobedience is disobedience as refusal. I won't live in your world. I will live as if your world has ended, as indeed it deserves to end. I will live as if my gesture of refusing your world has destroyed it....
Thoreau was no Marxist, but he was, like Marx, appalled by what work did to human beings.... Thoreau saw much of the horror of work in the way it incorporated the human into the machine.... Money does not fool Thoreau. Money always wears the face of the boss. It represents the loss of freedom and ultimately the loss of self. One is not human in the unequal world of work for exchange. One is compost in the making....
A national culture based on the universalizing of money and ever more possessions is ultimately, as we say now, "unsustainable." Which is a euphemistic way of saying that it is a culture bent on making provision for its own death.... How right the anti-abortionists are to urge us to "choose life," but how wrong they are to imagine that the culture of death is limited to abortion. Our entire disposition toward one another and toward...the world of nature, is a disposition to death... For Thoreau, the most basic question to ask of a society is, What kind of human beings does it produce?....
I would contend that what is needed is not simply the overthrowing of the present corrupt system... Or, worse than that, endless boring meetings with the next "progressive" Democratic candidate... All you really need to ask the John Kerrys or Howard Deans of the world is where they stand on free-market trade issues. They all ultimately for it.... The rest -- corporatism, militarism, environmental disaster, human disaster -- follows automatically.
So what should we do if we can't look to the self-styled revolutionaries and the establishment progressives? Thoreau's suggestion should still be ours: a return to the fundamentals of being human.... First, a refusal of the world as it stands. Second, a recommitment to fundamentals. What does it means for a human being to need a house? Food? Clothing? Is the prefabricated suburban box a human home?... Third, an understanding that to stand before the question of these fundamentals requires spirit. Thoreau called it awareness. I make my home with this plank. I make my food with this seed. This awareness is really a form of prayer, and our culture is nearly bereft of it. As Simone Weil -- perhaps the strangest and most unlikely Thoreauvian solitary, outcast, and transcendentalist of all—wrote, echoing Thoreau's sense of awareness: "The authentic and pure values—truth, beauty, and goodness -- in the activity of a human being are the result of one and the same act, a certain application of the full attention to the object." Or, more tersely yet: "Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer."
It is perhaps the saddest, most hopeless thing we can say about our culture that it is a culture of distraction....
If the work we do produces mostly bad, ugly, and destructive things, those things in turn will tend to re-create us in their image. We need to turn to good, useful, and beautiful work....
Reclaiming the right to ask the serious questions is no doubt an invitation to utopian thinking.... But what utopian thinkers have understood best is that if utopia is "nowhere," so is everywhere else. "Reality," whether defined by evangelical Christians or empiricists, is a form of disenchantment. The Real, on the other hand, is up for grabs. What the earliest utopians -- Montiagne, Thomas More, Tommaso Campanella -- understood was that they fought not for a place but for a new set of ideas through which to recognize what would count as Real: Equality, not hierarchical authority. Individual dignity, not slavish subservience. Our pre-eminent problem is that we recognize the Real in what is most deadly: a culture of duty to legalities that are, finally, cruel and destructive. We need to work inventively -- as Christ did, as Thoreau did -- in the spirit of disobedience for the purpose of refusing the social order into which we happen to have been born and putting in its place a culture of life-giving things....
So let the Age turn, as St. Paul promised. We're well done with this world.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
(11:14 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Dwelling/Exile Blog.Awhile back I pointed the readers of this blog to the blog of a teacher and friend, Liam Heneghan, of the Institute for Nature and Culture housed at DePaul. He seems to be writing again and it is beautiful stuff. He needs some comments left.
(7:29 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Toward a Rhizomatic Concept of Biopolitical DifféranceI hate my Internet addiction. I hate the way that the slightest worry about my financial situation can cause me to fritter away an entire morning. I hate that the net effect of this phenomenon on my time is still less than that of working.
I hate how impossible it is to keep our white, porous kitchen sink anywhere approaching clean. I hate it when there is standing water indoors, particularly when it is mixed up with some kind of foodstuff or when it constitutes the run-off from the shower I am presently taking.
I hate to say it, but -- remember that thing earlier this semester where I tried to get everyone to take a day, etc., because I was going to be so damn busy? This is the point where it gets really serious -- spring break is over, and my Augustine class starts next Tuesday (it was supposed to start tomorrow, but Prof. Marion was delayed in coming to the US). In view of these grave conjunctures, next week the unprecedented will happen: someone other than me will "do" the Tuesday Hatred, namely, Ben Wolfson, author of the award-winning blog waste and co-blogger at Unfogged.
Past occasions where Anthony and Brad have performed the priestly duties of the Friday Afternoon Confessional give me faith that someone other than me can perform the Webloggian rituals with suave and flair sufficient to satisfy the religious needs of our long-suffering readers. I am aiming toward making non-Kotsko officiation over the Tuesday Hatred a more or less permanent thing, either under Wolfson's patient guidance or through the assemblage of a coterie of haters -- surely in this day and age, haters will remain easy to find, more plentiful even than unemployed humanities PhDs. If this plan works out, then all through April, I can only promise you Friday Confessional, although as you may know, my blogging "habit" is such that I may very well have an outburst here and there (and "outburst" posts tend to be the favorites, historically).
On this beautiful Spring day (at least in places other than Chicago), it is all the more important that you show your love.
UPDATE: I hate that Doug Johnson has betrayed us!
Monday, March 27, 2006
(10:18 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The JobOne thing's for sure -- I've got it "together." I am "on the ball." At least that's the impression I give people. Part of it is just a matter of focus. Most notably: I have fully intended to be a college professor since I was a senior in high school. As it turns out, I might have been better off if I had fully intended to be a computer engineer, but there are certain benefits to having made such a decision already, just as a structural matter. For the moment, there are none of those nights lying awake wondering what I will do with my life.
While I am well aware that my place in the future professoriate is far from assured, I don't expect that there will be much occupational soul-searching if I fall between the cracks. On the one hand, I am already assembling a somewhat decent professional resume from which my PhD can easily be omitted, with the market research and now editing work -- I can go into interview and just say that while I liked the freedom of freelance work for a few years, now I'm really ready to settle down in one company. On the other hand, if I don't get the career I've been aiming for, everything else will be completely indifferent -- none of this stress about whether it's "really what I want to do," because I'll know for a fact: it's not. I would just need to be paid enough to make my student loan payments and lead my quiet life.
This complete identification with a career path is one of my favorite things about 24: Jack Bauer is the job. He is the ultimate exemplar of professional ethics, that is to say, the ethics of effectiveness. The fact that it's tied up in his case with "national security" or something is little more than a coincidence -- he has no patience for more abstract, metaphysical conceptions of national security (in which, for example, a terrorist attack might serve to increase national security in the long run), and he's seen more than enough to get past the "my country right or wrong" mindset. For him it's not even loyalty to CTU as an organization: it's The Job. (Thus, when we meet him again after the "symbolic death" of last season, he is working as a day laborer -- and when the boss doesn't take him that day, he clearly could not care less.)
Isn't this the only possible ethical stance in our time -- at least the only ethical stance that people could recognize as such? Think of Magnolia, for instance (another one of my favorite cultural products -- forgive me, please, for being so shallow and so led astray by faux-"depth," forgive me for enjoying a film made by an American director other than David Lynch): think of how many of the ethical decisions are made in the context of work, of the contrast between the ethical triumph of Philip Seymour Hoffman's nurse character and the lawyer who fails to help Julianne Moore's trophy-wife character. Or think of the cop -- his greatest failure is not his divorce, not his lack of a dating life, but the loss of his gun, which makes him a "bad cop"; the cokehead Claudia instinctively feels that this admission is the sign of a genuine vulnerability. The family is a broken institution, marriage no longer functions, much less romantic love -- it takes a literal miracle to bring either to the point of minimal functionality. In the day-to-day, The Job is the horizon of meaning, at least for certain people of a certain class. "Mine," for example.
It's not just in that movie, either -- what about that moment in American Psycho when he shoots the homeless guy after telling him to "get a fucking job"? Did you laugh? I'm pretty sure I did, at least the first time I saw it, and I wasn't the only one -- laughing in the shock of identification with a murderer, in the cathartic release of the instinctive aggression toward the down-and-out men asking for money in the street. The lack of a job established that homeless man as -- Lord, please forgive me -- homo sacer. He might as well have said, "get some fucking human rights." The bum is killable, and even if the whole murderous rampage turns out to be a fantasy, it's telling that it never even occurs to him that the pushover detective would come asking after the murder of a homeless man.
So in a sense, only Jack Bauer as a man who embodies The Job can save America, time and time again, because only a man like Jack Bauer can any longer serve as the face of America's much-vaunted "moral superiority." His moral superiority does not depend on the reference to extraneous factors such as love and family -- Jack Bauer does not embody the ethics of noble sacrifice. No, here we have a man who enjoys doing his duty, a man whose only horizon of meaning is The Job. He is all too able to keep "working" even when The Job impinges on his family life; his true loyalties lie within the field generated by his work (Tony, President Palmer, etc.). The Job is simply identical to his moral superiority. He is morally superior precisely insofar as he is a ruthless torturer and killer.
If we can assign an ideological function to 24, it can only be to testify to this last refuge of ethics -- to contribute to the creation of a situation in which the problem is not the government's torture policy as such, but the fact that it's been so astoundingly ineffective. What we need is a few more Jack Bauers to replace these hick reservists with their pathetic hazing rituals! And they are precisely that: pathetic. It is shameful to engage in those bizarre sexualized abuses, to take pictures as if posing for the latest installment of Girls Gone Wild -- what is needed is cold, ruthless professionalism. Once torture is admitted, once the overriding "War on Terror" is regarded as legitimate, once "the gloves are off," the horizon changes -- the loss of moral authority that certain pundits fear in the wake of the various torture scandals is not based in the torture as such, but in the haphazardness, in the sheer hick-ified atmosphere, a bunch of American bumpkins abroad, killing ants with a magnifying glass. It's a matter of what class of people is going to represent America, whether we're going to have a professional military professionally torturing and killing -- because if we don't, if we lose that professionalism, then and only then does the credibility fall apart.
This evacuation of ethics into The Job thus structures our political space: the Republicans as the point of identification for reckless enjoyment of violence, the Democrats as the party of professionalized technocracy. I have no doubt that if Kerry were elected, he would have been able to cultivate a much more competent, professional, and above all discrete corps of torturers, a much more orderly and well-planned scheme of imperial aggression. The machine is heading in a certain direction no matter what -- we've lost any possible way of even contemplating what it might mean to turn it around or stop it. The choice is how you want the machine to be run -- professionally or recklessly.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
(11:12 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Theses on "The Higher Eclecticism"By now we are all hopefully acquainted with the Holbonic category of "the Higher Eclecticism." It is a complex category, but I believe it is capable of analysis. There are two main points:
- The Higher Eclecticism relies too heavily on arguments from various authorities that are contradictory among themselves, and thus is incoherent and non-serious.
- Higher Eclecticists are romantics who resent the patient work of scholarship; thus they do not draw on each other's results; everyone is always starting from scratch, such that they end up getting nowhere.
The highest erudition (thesis) coincides with the highest levels of anti-intellectual romanticism (antithesis), producing the Higher Eclecticism -- a synthesis, but what Zizek might call a "downward synthesis," denoting not a harmonization of the two poles, but rather bodying forth the irreducible deadlock between the two (italics in original). So complaining that this concept is incoherent misses the mark -- the incoherent concept corresponds precisely to the incoherent reality itself.
What is the next step in this dialectic? The answer is clear. In response to the inherent deadlock of literary study (the Higher Eclecticism, the "thesis"), a reactionary movement arises (antithesis). But this counter-move is at first devoid of content aside from the very rejection of the Higher Eclecticism, more commonly called "Theory" -- it can only be called "anti-Theory," and its concept (and reality) reflects the inherent deadlock of the Higher Eclecticism in inverted form. Beneath the claims of real "love of literature," the opponents of the Higher Eclecticism are beautiful souls with no capacity to move literary study forward -- thus "love of literature" is emptied of all possible content and coincides with the incoherent rejection of the incoherent Higher Eclecticism.
How is it possible to resolve this deadlock? Precisely through reference to what is taken to be the very opposite of literary study -- scientific quantitative methods. To the love of literature, then, corresponds a method that counts books instead of reading them. Or to put it differently: the only way to save literary theory from the anti-method of constant reference to anti-authoritative authorities that have distracted from "the love of literature" is to take the impossible paradoxical step of doing away with literary study altogether insofar as that study could consider itself to be literary.
Does this not precisely reflect the Lacanian logic of sacrifice? In the first step, one is willing to sacrifice everything, all the trappings of academic authority, "for the cause" (in this case, a "genuine" literary study) -- get rid of presumptuous literary theories, fundamentally rework the enterprise of academic publishing, get literary scholars blogging, etc. But the next step is precisely to sacrifice the cause itself. And just as only an outsider can truly deploy the inherent logic of a thinker's position -- only Lacan, who never met Freud personally, could preserve the subversive impulse of Freud's thought; only St. Paul, who came from outside the original circle of apostles, could recognize the radical universalizing logic behind the Christ-event -- so only an analytic philosopher can think through to its end the dialectic opened up by the advent of the Higher Eclecticism. John Holbo thus becomes, paradoxically, the most faithful of all adherents of the Higher Eclecticism, precisely through his (apparent) betrayal of literary study into the hands of quantitative methods.
(10:33 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Being and Event Reading Group: Week Six, yet another open threadI've been working on a conference paper all week so I haven't had the time to write up the post for this week. Hopefully someone will step forward and offer to do a little write-up, but if not I suggest, again, we discuss below.
A administrative note: next week is our last day of organized reading. The reading group has been somewhat slow, owing in part to the difficultly of the text but also, I'm sure, to meat-world commitments. Is there still interest for a "Being and Event Week"?
Friday, March 24, 2006
(7:48 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: I was the worst hope of my generationI confess that sometimes I still like to dust off my They Might Be Giants mp3s and give them a whirl.
I confess that the subjunctive mood isn't half as hard as people make it out to be.
I confess that I'm starting to understand how graduate students can become socially dysfunctional. Sitting in the house all day, submerged in arcana (one imagines that the library would only be worse), I often find myself excited almost to the point of delerium when I get to see another human being. Even better is when it is a human being who is not a graduate student (or aspiring graduate student) and who thus finally does not care, on any level, about the "work" I have done that day. I can only imagine what it would be like if I lived alone and didn't have guaranteed human contact most days: I would be that guy cornering people at the party, not having talked to another human being for a week, eager to discuss Schelling or something.
I confess that I sometimes have already been that guy, though not with Schelling.
I confess that I often put off reading indefinitely when it's something I am going to have to "use" in some way -- the amount of work involved becomes much more intimidating. Yet maybe the pressure shouldn't be so high, given the shit that gets shoveled into academic discourse all the time. People can make whole careers as "scholars" or "critics" of a figure they demonstrably fail to understand. I confess that I'm afraid I'm going to be yet another hack. (I've gotten comments here at The Weblog, of course, to the effect that the ship has already sailed on that one -- and I confess that I took them to heart, even though they were "unfair" and "out of context.") I confess that I feel lazy no matter what I do.
I confess that sometimes my life feels out of joint.
I confess that I am glad I will be moving within the next few months.
I confess that the new round of construction on the Dan Ryan baffles me. Apparently the past two years of crippling delays were just preparation for the real construction coming during the next two construction seasons:
CHICAGO, March 2, 2006 – After several years of planning and preparation, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is set to perform major surgery on the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94) in both directions from 13th Street to the Bishop Ford (I-94) / I-57 Interchange on Chicago’s South Side during the 2006 and 2007 construction seasons.I'm sure I'm not the only skeptical soul who is not convinced that taking Ashland or Stony Island that whole way is going to end up being faster than a congested expressway.
“Drivers of passenger vehicles should avoid the Dan Ryan entirely,” said IDOT Secretary Tim Martin. While many motorists will use public transportation or IDOT-designated alternate routes, truckers will be urged to stay on the expressway because their vehicles are too heavy for local streets. “Our message is ‘Cars Off, Trucks On,” said Martin.
IDOT has spent the past two years preparing the Dan Ryan corridor for the 2006 and 2007 mainline reconstruction work. Advance contract reconstruction has been or is about to be completed in many areas along the Dan Ryan, including exit and entrance ramps, cross-street bridges. The advance work also included the interchange with the Chicago Skyway (I-90), which was rebuilt and reconfigured to improve traffic flow and safety.
I confess that I love the fact that this is being spun as "investing more than $600 million in the South Side." I confess that I am never listening to Mancow again after a mentally disabled character claimed to be slow and one of the regular hosts claimed that this character was actually quite sharp by South Side standards. I confess that I am disturbed by the fascist "attitude" that lurks below the surface of a station that probably played all my favorite music back when I was in high school (or is at least the inheritor of that format). Hell, I'm disturbed at the fascist "attitude" that lurked below the surface of me back when I was in high school.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
(9:20 PM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
CPT, College Basketball, and Collegiate DebateJ. got up with the kids early this morning and let me sleep in an extra couple of hours. The little time I then had to rip off a post was nullified when I saw the headlines on yahoo. The remaining CPTers had been rescued in a U.S. military operation; I raced around the corner to the Catholic Worker houses to rejoice with Jim Loney's housemates and friends. They had been startled from their sleep by a phone call from Jim himself at 3:30 a.m. I've yet to meet Jim as he was in Iraq already when we moved here, but am much looking forward to dwelling with someone who has truly suffered for the sake of what St. Paul calls the gospel of peace.
As of now, I'm headed out with my roomate Ben to catch the rest of the UCLA-Gonzaga game. I've basically given up the sports fetish I acquired growing up, but March Madness is hard not to love. Brad and Jared put their brackets into a yahoo pool with mine and few others. Brad and I are bringing up the rear with my brother. Brad was hurt badly when Kansas, one of his final four picks, went up in smoke in the first round. I lost two of my final fours in the first weekend with Ohio St. and UNC bowing out. All three of us lost Duke tonight, meaning that my only hope to save face and not lose to my 3 year old daughter is in the Bruins. Jared picked Duke to win it all, but should be hurt too bad as all of us had them going quite far or winning. He remains solidly in the hunt with Uconn, Villanova, and Gonzaga (go UCLA) all remaining from his initial final four pick.
In other news, the collegiate debate squad which served to introduce Jared and I has gotten a bit of coverage lately here (Cut, Thrust, Christ) and here (Ministers of Debate). What, with all the confessions around here lately about time in the ministry, I thought we'd better 'fess up.
(8:54 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Trial Logic and Everyday Life: An ObservationI have written before about my impatience with the idea that every debate has "two sides" and have traced it to the domination of two political parties in the United States. Now, however, I am starting to think that there is another source for this problem: the American judicial system. I am not in a position to judge the effectiveness of that system in absolute terms -- certainly it has its benefits and drawbacks. But in any case, the purpose of the judicial system is not to get at the objective truth; in fact, in many cases, the lawyers on either side have a vested interest in concealing the objective truth, and decisive evidence is excluded if it was not obtained legally. The purpose, rather, is to produce a legal judgment in accordance with certain legal norms. Sometimes that means that factually innocent people are convicted and even put to death; sometimes that means that factually guilty people go free.
Through a bizarre series of misunderstandings -- first among them the idea that the Founding Fathers decisively answered every possible political question -- the judicial system has become, in the minds of many Americans (at least white Americans), the privileged means for obtaining truth, and every important question tends to be approached in ways modelled on that system. For example, we tend to say: "The jury is still out on that," a telling metaphor for questions that seem to remain undecided.
The jury system in particular seems to shape Americans' approach to serious questions. Having just narrowly avoided serving on one, I was reminded of the stringent standards used in choosing a jury: ideally, no previous knowledge of a case, no preexisting biases that might favor one side or the other, etc., etc. The overall goal is to act as if the information presented in the trial (and not even all of that, if the judge rules some of it inadmissible) is the first and last word on the facts of a particular trial.
This standard often carries over into everyday debates -- people who come into a discussion with preexisting opinions, even well-founded ones based on extensive research and reasoning, are often dismissed as being "biased." One should be "open-minded" in all discussions, and refusal to be convinced by arguments is taken to be a moral failing, a certain impatience, rather than evidence that one has perhaps heard the exact same argument before. If there is to be a real discussion, one that reaches a real conclusion, all previous arguments must be left at the door, and the basic facts must be established from scratch.
Think, for instance, of all the people who will claim that those who disapprove of the "president" are somehow "biased" against him or "hate" him -- as if he hadn't held office for over five years. No, people who are already ill-disposed toward Bush must be pulled from the jury -- he is innocent until proven guilty, until "both sides" have been heard.
Certainly people use arguments like this disingenuously, particularly professional pundits who presumably "know better" and still must advance their cause. And certainly the end result, if not the goal, of such rhetoric is most often to arrive at a mistrial rather than a definitive judgment. Yet it seems to me that what makes this type of argumentative strategy so plausible to people is the peculiar character of the American judicial system and, even more, the peculiar character of the American polity, where the constitutional structure is more or less unconsciously taken to be the only possible shared standard of reason and truth.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
(9:46 AM) | Brad:
Leggo My Ego; or, An Exhortation to Conference PresentersI hate academic conferences. Wait. Let me reiterate. I loathe conferences. I mean, sure, I like the free drinks and the availability of debaucherous sex that would've made residents of Sodom blush; not to mention the delightful moments when these two merge into the high comedy of watching somebody you otherwise respect getting far too drunk for his own good and then trying to get in the pants of an 22-year-old graduate student who clearly has eyes only for his/her advisor. Excluding this, I hate academic conferences.
Oh, but I do love reading papers. Perhaps it is my ministerial background. (Yes ... that's right. I'm ordained. Laugh now, but one day I'll quit this blog, possibly after some off-the-cuff sexism, and I'll be free to call myself the "Reverend Doctor" -- or possibly "Reverend Love Doctor," 'cause then I'd kill w/ the ladies -- without the fear of being cut down by your derisive sneers [or, more likely, your cut-throat silence in the comments].) I really do enjoy standing in front of people, manuscript in hand, and projecting my baritone voice to the masses, all ten of them. I imagine myself like Orson Welles in Moby Dick, but without the humiliation of the rope ladder and the enormous gut. (Speaking of Orsen Welles, did you know that one of the reasons for his profound obesity late in life was that he insisted on eating for dinner, every day of the day, two steaks (cooked rare) and a pint of whisky. Now, that's living!) If not Orson Welles, because really he might be a wee bit histrionic at times, I imagine myself like Alain Badiou, whose presentation style, if not his presentation content, I consider to be the Platonic ideal. When last I read a paper, I sought to emulate him by planting my forearms on either side of the lectern and reading my paper in the least conversational tone possible. I was declaring something, something I spent a whole day writing, and by God they'd hear me out. I was like an itinerant preacher without a gospel.
Reading papers at conferences is not a time for humility. Save that for the Q & A. Save that for the drunken brawl between you and Dr. Tenure and Mr. & Mrs. Fellowship by the cheese tray -- i.e., let them win. Save that for the excuses of alcohol-induced impotence later with your fifteen-minute lover -- i.e., you needn't be satisfied to satisfy the other person, if you get my drift. When reading a paper, though, my advice is to turn into the ego-maniac you've always wanted to be, or that you repress. If you're already an ego-maniac and you never repress it, well, such is my after-school message for you: just be yourself.
You who are already ego-maniacs, as well a those who are adept at playing the part, might also want to use two well-honed responses in the Q & A. (1) When faced with a particularly difficult question, or at least one that is difficult only because it addresses something or someone unrelated to your project at hand and thus is intended only to put you and your ignorance of, say, Nagarjuna or Iris Murdoch, into the spotlight, thus ruining the finely-tuned egotism of the preceding twenty minutes, respond with: "Why you gotta be such a bitch? Next question." The collective gasp of the audience will likely remove the wind from your interrogator's sails, if only momentarily, giving you time to settle yourself and your ignorance for whatever comes next. (2) When faced with a sharp criticism phrased as such "I think you've failed to ___________," respond with: "No ... the real failure here is that of your imagination." Enigmatic references to imagination and aesthetics always score points, mostly because academics rarely understand the concept of either.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
(7:56 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Advance, uncorrected page proof, not for resaleI hate my "writing process," which is as follows:
- Get out a stack of books
- Create a Word document with appropriate line spacing, margins, etc.
- Write up a "Works Cited" list for all books in the stack; put it in boldface so that books can be un-bolded as cited, then remaining boldface titles can be deleted when the paper is complete
- Spend approximately five hours dicking around on the Internet per every page written.
I hate that I was supposedly stepping down blog involvement, yet I'm still concerned about the level of commenting, traffic, and other related matters. I hate that there's very little than I can do (or, more properly, that I'm willing to do: I could put in a lot more time writing, researching, etc.) to influence the popularity of this blog.
I hate that every Tuesday Hatred veers toward being a Friday Confessional, and vice versa. I keep trying to get someone else to take over Tuesday Hatred, but alas, alack, it hasn't been possible yet. I hate noticing my own writing tics, in this case, excessive use of parentheses and of "etc."
I hate that my eyesight has apparently deteriorated noticeably since my last visit to the eye doctor. I hate getting skin tags. I hate neck pain.
I hate trying to staple a 30-page document, only to find that the staple only penetrated the first three pages, but is so mangled that it is still difficult to get it out. I have now found a workaround for this serious problem, but it was very upsetting when it first arose. A staple gun was part of the research leading to this workaround, but it turned out not to work, strangely enough.
I hate the neighborhood cat who is always harrassing Anthony and Hayley's cats. It gets especially bad during the summer, but Pippin (the psycho/existentialist cat) has already pissed on something in a futile attempt to retaliate against the outdoor cat. Incidentally, this was the same cat who once darted into the apartment, as documented in a post that I am currently unable to find, because a search for the relevant words ("cat," for example) returns hundreds of posts. It would help if I hadn't told Google to omit "clips" from the blog, but during a bout of lawsuit fever, it came to seem essential that one not be able to find my address off the Internet, and that was the only solution.
I hate Boston Market and their stupid commercials.
UPDATE: I hate it when Haloscan is flaky on Hatred and Confessional days. I hate those bastards over at Tuesday Love.
Monday, March 20, 2006
(11:40 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Monday Picture Blogging: It's Late Because Blogger Sucks!Pippin's been hitting the bong lately. We've all noticed he's calmed down quite a bit (even if he pee'd on the mirror this morning - so existential!).
(11:36 AM) | Matt Christie:
n+1From Borradori, Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida:
On the basis of the work of French linguist Emile Benveniste, who discovered that there is "no 'common' Indo-European term for what we call 'religion,'" Derrida claims that there has not always been, nor should there always be, "something, a thing that is one and identifiable, identical with itself, which, whether religious or irreligious, all agree to call 'religion'" [...]To help supplement a post at Long Sunday.
To understand response and responsibility only in the context of economic exchange, which usually goes together with the juridical guarantee that the exchange has been fair, does not address what Derrida believes is the core of responsibility: responsibility in the face of the incalculable.
Deconstructing the familiar sense of religion and responsibility has a political urgency determined by what Derrida describes as the unhappy marriage between religion and digital technology...[the] feeling of expropriation and self-estrangement [of religion] explains the primitive modality of the new wars fought in its name...Globalization shows both immunitary strength and an autoimmune weakness. This is the mark of out time. (155-159)
(9:56 AM) | David Sneek:
Being and Event Reading Group: Meditation 25"Mathematicians are a kind of Frenchmen," Goethe said. "When you talk to them, they translate it into their own language, and then it is at once something quite different." This phenomenon can be observed in the short Meditation 25 of Being and Event, Badiou's interesting though perhaps flawed reading of the poetry of Friedrich Hölderlin. Badiou does not try to hide the fact that he is a French mathematician: he points out in a footnote that he has modified the translations he uses, and he rarely gives sources for his quotations.
With google it's not so difficult to find them anyway; Am Quell der Donau, Der Rhein, Heimkunft, Die Wanderung, Der Wanderer, Germanien, Brot und Wein and Stimme des Volks all date from around 1801 and often describe similar journeys. The source is an "enigma", a "golden fountain" - an Event. It brings forth a river that is "bound for the Caucasus", driven "towards Asia", or does not really know where it is going. But it also remains faithful to its beginning, and in that double movement, "a paradoxical flight from the site to itself", Badiou finds the relation between the ancient Greeks and Germany.
In Hölderlin this connection can still be seen as a kind of translatio artium, the traditional idea of culture being passed on from one civilization to another; the thought that the origin of Roman civilization could be found in Greece, the foundation of Greek culture in Egypt. And already in ancient Rome the idea was linked to the image of a river. Cicero wrote in De re publica that "it was not some scanty little brook that flew from Greece to this city, but an over-abundant stream of sciences and arts."
Similarly, the idea that the trajectory of a hero or genius could be compared to a river gathering force, existed in antiquity and was passed on as a rhetorical figure that remained popular until the eighteenth century. In the Encyclopédie, in the entry on enthousiasm, genius was compared to "those great streams, that appear at their source to be but weak brooks: they run, curve, stretch out; and mountain torrents, the rivers of the plains mingle with their course, make the waters grow, become one with them: it is no longer a light murmur, but an imposing noise which they excite; their floods majestically roll into the ocean, after having enriched the fortunate grounds which were doused by them."
Immediately afterwards the author, Cahusac, referred his readers to the article on Eclecticism, as a reminder maybe that it was not the weak brook at the source that made the majestic floods; the mountain torrents and rivers of the plains were at least of equal importance. When the metaphor was taken up in the 1770s by the Sturm und Drang movement, the emphasis shifted. Now the origin, the purity of the source is dominant, and this is what Badiou finds again in Hölderlin.
"Just as great rivers have, as their being, the impetuous breaking apart of any obstacle to their flight towards the plain, and just as the site of their source is thus the void - from which we are separated solely by the excess-of-one by their élan ('Enigma, born from a pure jetting forth!') - so the homeland is first what one leaves, not because one separates oneself from it, but, on the contrary, through that superior fidelity which lies in understanding that the very being of the homeland is that of escaping."
The identification of site of the source of the river with the void, and therefore with being is essential - here Badiou's interpretation of Hölderlin follows that of Heidegger who did not want to see the rivers as metaphors or symbols, but instead found an approach to pure being in their flow. A propos of Der Ister: "The streams in Holderlin's poetry are in no way just gradually more difficult to interpret symbols. If that was so, they would essentially remain 'symbols'. And this is exactly what they are not. The 'streams' cannot be ranked as emblems of higher things, and 'more profound', 'religious' contents."
Badiou acknowledges Heidegger's influence on his interpretation, and that makes him vulnerable to the same critique. Paul de Man rubbed in how Heidegger's desire to find "being" instead of rhetorical figures in Hölderlin's poetry made it difficult for him to see the alternation of tones that placed heroic passages against more contemplative ideas in a carefully designed dialectic; at some points Badiou seems to fall into the same trap.
Take Der Rhein, the poem Meditation 25 cites most often. Hölderlin sketched out his plan for the hymn in a short text. "The rule of this hymn is that the first two parts are, through progress and regress, juxtaposed as to their form, but similar in content, the next two parts however are similar in form but juxtaposed in content, after which the final parts even everything out with an ongoing metaphor."
Badiou focuses on three moments in the poem. The "Enigma, born from a pure jetting forth!", the origin of the river; the flight from the site, "but I am bound for the Caucasus"; the later fidelity, "the slow voyage across German lands". But in Hölderlin's design for Der Rhein these passages all belong to the naive first movement. They are later answered by the meditative passages of the second movement and the idealism the third, starting with "the wedding meal of men and gods" - it would not be so easy, I think, to find a place for those passages in Badiou's ontology.
(9:55 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Public ServiceToday at The Weblog, in place of pictures of cats, we will be offering a public service. I have recently learned that it is possible to stop unwanted credit card solicitations from coming in the mail by calling (888) 5 OPT OUT (567-8688). For more details, visit this site. I first learned of this service from an article in the New York Times, rather than from that particular web site, so that gives me some confidence that it is legitimate.
The same site offers a wide variety of resources for the poor and destitute, including this helpful guide to paying off debts by scavenging trash for tin cans and searching for dropped change on the sidewalk.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
(1:34 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Military Is The Most Trusted Institution In American SocietyAnd you can certainly understand why!
Saturday, March 18, 2006
(6:24 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Reason Jesus Hasn't Come Back YetAround the turn of the century, many biblical scholars, led by Johannes Weiss, claimed that the historical Jesus expected the parousia to come in a very short time. Since that did not occur, Jesus was mistaken in his expectation, and theology must come to terms with that.
While such a theory has much to recommend it, it neglects a simple fact: after his resurrection, Jesus was fully capable of bringing about the parousia at his leisure. His mistake was not so much in the timing of the parousia as in his ignorance of basic physical laws. Simply put, at the time of his ascension, Jesus did not realize what is now taken for granted: namely, that above the earth's atmosphere, one does not find "heaven" as traditionally conceived, but rather the vast expanses of outer space.
Nor, we might suppose, was Christ fully acquainted with the workings of the resurrection body. While he showed himself to be quite adept at the various tricks the resurrection body could perform within the created world (changing his appearance, walking through walls, etc.), he was apparently ignorant of the way to enter the heavenly realm. Typically stubborn man that he was, he refused to ask the angels for directions. Determined that he knew how to get there -- after all, he had been there before and in fact used to live there -- Jesus ascended vertically, expecting to find "heaven" above the "firmament" of the sky.
From this crucial miscalculation follows the most horrible tragedy in the history of the cosmos. Expecting to find his heavenly home in a region physically contiguous with the earth's atmosphere, Christ was not emotionally prepared for the vast emptiness of outer space. Already traumatized by the experience of crucifixion and death, he assumed the worst: God the Father really had foresaken him, sending him on a wild goose chase on earth in order to buy enough time to pack up heaven and move before he got back.
Too proud to go back to earth without the full complement of the heavenly hosts, Christ gave in to despair. Thus he has been drifting in space for the past 2000 years in a catatonic state. The angels have thus far been unsuccessful in bringing the old Jesus back since his psychotic break, and the Holy Spirit refuses to have anything to do with him, angry about having "gone to all the trouble of raising him from the dead -- for what?!"
Thus, no parousia appears to be forthcoming. To my mind, this situation really underlines the importance of basic scientific literacy.
(3:06 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Being and Event Reading Group: Open ThreadShould be a substantial post later today or tomorrow. Until then use the comment boxes for any discussion or questions from either this weeks readings or any from the past.
*Sorry for the missing image, blogger isn't working at its best currently.
Friday, March 17, 2006
(3:27 PM) | Brad:
Headline NewsPossibly one of the most annoying headlines & ledes I've seen since November 3, 2004.
Revolution? No Thanks, French Youth Say":
Tear gas. Students clashing with police around the famed Sorbonne university in Paris. Barricades in the capital's streets. Is March 2006 proving to be May 1968 all over again? So far, no. While comparisons between the student protests of then and now are tempting, they are also misleading.
The young protesters of '68 wanted to turn French society upside down. "Break the old molds" was one of their many slogans.
Their children want not revolution but status quo: the same access to pensions, jobs, prosperity and generous welfare systems their parents enjoyed. In short, a comfortable European lifestyle that many feel is under grave threat.
(8:29 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Calcium is DeadlyI confess that I am not comfortable with how much better I am getting at parallel parking, because it reflects the fact that I'm driving a lot more lately. I confess that I'm having trouble keeping perfectionism and the concomitant "grad student self-loathing" at bay lately. I confess that I do not eat well. I confess that I am not thrifty.
I confess that I want to put off teaching as long as possible. I confess that I'd probably get more done if I went to the library more. I confess that I am a homebody -- and increasingly so. I confess that I still don't know Latin. I confess that I'm really excited to have a week off of classes, even though that's ludicrous in light of the fact that I have literally no structured demands on my time aside from classes.
I confess that I am thinking about doing my dissertation on a particular philosopher and that I am scared to death that I will end up falling into the easy groove of writing yet another piece of moralistic hackwork masquerading a serious theological engagement with philosophical thought -- as in something like "the metaphysics of presence is evil!" It is really hard for Christians not to attach a moral valence to ideas, and I know I haven't been innocent of it in the past. I also worry that I will give into the temptation to pass off a half-assed parody of the philosopher's writing style as evidence of having understood him.
I confess that (completely unrelatedly to the last paragraph) I want to write a really vicious review of B. C. Hutchens' Jean-Luc Nancy and the Future of Philosophy. At some point, I would work in something along these lines: "Hutchens has achieved the impossible -- in the midst of his tortured prose, quotations from Nancy appear as the very model of clarity." I doubt that anyone would publish a review that was as negative as that book deserves. I confess that I am disappointed that another book-length study of Nancy has come out. Within two years, there will be hundreds.
I confess that this comment thread has only gotten more impressive since I linked to it last week.
I confess that I like the Old Navy commercial about the striped skirts. I confess that I'm glad they got rid of that creepy older woman who used to be on their commercials.
I confess that the return of winter weather has rendered me depressed.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
(10:10 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Polygamy and Sexual Politics: A Blogger's Blog PostI would be remiss if I failed to link Scott McLemee's column yesterday, entitled "Paradise Lost?" In it, he discusses Mormonism, Milton, and second-century heresies with continual reference to polygamy -- truly a tour de force. (It may be regarded as an oblique confirmation of the radicality of the Puritan Revolution.)
Since I'm thinking about Mormonism, here is an article I read a long time ago about the role of theater in the early Mormon movement. It features Brigham Young in the role of an Inca priest. And I've recently learned that apparently Joseph Smith discovered and translated a lost book of Scriptures, which is commonly called the Book of Mormon -- I encourage you to read this gripping tale of intrigue and self-discovery.
Finally, did you know that Engels wrote a piece On the History of Early Christianity, which is taken up in large part with an exegesis of the Book of Revelation? He does not, however, mention polygamy -- and with that, we've come full circle.
(7:51 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
State Racism, Religion, and the LeftRecent discussion here at the weblog and in response to Zizek's NYT piece over at I Cite on the relationship between the secular and religious left is unfortunate, even if understandable and somewhat productive (at I Cite it has finally morphed into a long backburnered conversation in our blogosphere over Zizek v. Levinas/Derrida). The problem with such conversations, or perhaps just the sad fact of the matter, is that accusations from both sides (you don't give us enough credit/wake up, dude, religion is the problem) merely exacerbate the problem of disunity on the left. What is necessary, in my view, is not neutral ground (as some have suggested secularism to be - no, this is precisely the dividing line, how can it be common ground?) but a common single issue or perhaps, at most, two issues to rally around. Over at I Cite, I contributed to the 'religious war', precisely because the issue of religious wars raised by Zizek got my goat.
In short, the role of religion in warmaking in the west has long been exaggerated. It is of course true that religion and religious folks have often been awful loud in clamoring for war, but the discourse of religious wars has been a critical tool used by statesmen for 500 years (and especially since the 'Peace of Westphalia') to mask statist consolidation of power. And truth be told, secular governments have been not a mite better about avoiding warfare. Of course, in a blogpost I have to oversimplify, especially given the symbiotic nature between religion and the state. However, I am convinced by two things that the ultimate locus of modern warfare is in the problem of state racism. The first reason is a damn good article entitled "A Fire Strong Enough to Consume the House: The Wars of Religion and the Rise of the State" (see comments for source and link, I'm having trouble linking from my home computer). Secondly, the modern state, by its very nature, is inescapably racist. Our histories as French, Indonesian, Chinese, Canadian, Brazilian are decidely not the histories of other similarly situated nations. As such, dual quests are in order, internal racial purity (those who don't find their place in the racial narrative are a problem to be expunged) and the ability to wage total war against external competing races (the nuclear situation). In the shift from the sovereignty of the king to the power of bureaucratic peoplehood, the state took into its very structure the form of religio-race wars. This is Foucault's understanding of biopower in a nutshell.
The biopolitics of state racism is what we must find a way to resist together whether 'believers' (for whatever the hell that's worth) or not. This is ultimately why I can't vote democrat in the U.S. Voting in a national election is complicity in the entire system of state racism.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
(10:41 AM) | Brad:
LosingMaybe it's just me, but I'm actually pretty ambivalent about Sen. Feingold's censuring antics of late. Do not misunderstand. I vigorously oppose Bush administration, and enjoy resisting it as much as the next person. But all this seems to go beyond being merely fruitless -- and this is, maybe, why it is potentially both a form of success and failure.
If lightening strikes, for example, and the move to censure succeeds, what happens? Some Congressional Republicans are let off their self-created noose come November elections. This has been my fear since Bush was re-elected, that his Messiah complex would truly kick in and he would seek to take on the sins of the Republican party. To its eventual salvation. Rare is it that an entire second term is that of a "lame duck," but it almost seems as though this has been done intentionally this time around. Sacrifically, if you will.
What happens if the measure fails? -- On the one hand, it reiterates Democratic powerlessness. On the other hand, though, this is not necessarily a bad thing. And indeed, with this maybe the Democrats should play to lose, so as to highlight the ethical discongruity between the parties.
It's come to this, I guess, as I am currently at my wit's end with the Democratic party. Every day I hear that if only the Democrats "framed" the issues better, if they were somehow able to change the way the issues are articulated; or, if only more Democrats canvassed our neighborhoods talking about the issues; etc. And yet only lip service is paid to having a compelling party line. Seemingly every time the Democrats have had an opportunity to either create or emphasize theirs, they've dropped the ball. Case in point, their recent sham of a health care reform policy paper. (And don't get me started on the banktrupcy bill -- I will never forgive Joe Biden's duplicity when it came to that immoral scrawl.) Every day, I hear "fucking Ohio voting corruption, it cost us the election," or "fucking Republicans have made 'liberal' a bad word, so what we have to do is say 'progressive' and not 'liberal.'" When, in fact, I have to hold in my response: no, fuck the Democrats. They who play not to lose, even though they're already losing.
All this is to say, in a perhaps scattershot kind of way, that I'm on the verge of being convinced by Discard & Old that removing oneself from the voting rolls might be the way to go. Perhaps we need to play this philosophy of losing thing to the hilt, and all the way through.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
(7:29 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Civic DutiesI would complain about some aspects of my jury duty experience, but since I did not get put on a jury and could therefore leave yesterday and never have to even think about the possibility of jury duty for another year, I will not complain.
I hate it when the stop light by my house goes out during rush hour. I hate that the first nice day of the year is always inevitably followed by the first day when it briefly goes back to being way too cold again. I hate this creeping feeling that I'm getting that this is going to be the last season of 24. I hate how much time I spent watching TV last night, and I also hate that it's apparently physically impossible for me to read in bed anymore.
And finally, I hate the comment threads at The Washington Monthly.
Monday, March 13, 2006
(5:20 PM) | Chris Warfield:
Christian Peacemaking and the Religious LeftOn Friday, March 10th, the body of Tom Fox, a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams from Clear Brook, VA, was found in Iraq. He was one of four Christian Peacemakers kidnapped last year. As I write this, the fate of the other three is unknown. The fact of this man’s death convicts me, in a way. After all, I happily point out that most of the people who decided to get the U.S. involved in an illegal war in Iraq never served in the military. On the other hand, for all I say about the need for peace, I’ve never put my life on the line for it. I haven’t been to Iraq or Palestine. I haven’t been in Columbia’s Magdalena Medio region. I haven’t been to Rwanda or Burundi. I haven’t placed my safety on the line as I tried to give the same strength and commitment to the Prince of Peace that our governments give to the god of war.
Yet I know that I’m in a long line of those who have stood up for justice: John Brown, Henry Ward Beecher, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mary Elizabeth Clark, Catherine Doherty, Mother Teresa, Walter Rauschenbusch, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Nanne Zweip, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and on, and on, and on. Christians have stood against slavery, discrimination, war, poverty, homelessness, hunger, unemployment, regressive taxation, and on, and on, and on, often well before the secular world cared about the issues. In spite of the church’s shining record of progressive issues, however, the Christian left’s contribution to mercy and justice has often been forgotten, perhaps because the right so often yells louder and pounds its fists harder.
For those of us who are both Christian and on the political left, this can be a frustrating fact. It does often seem that, to the majority of liberals and progressives, “Christian” and “left” are mutually exclusive terms. Certainly, we’re useful to the left at times, when certain constituencies are being called to action, but it’s just as often, if not more often, assumed that if a person is religious (particularly Christian) then he or she must also be politically, socially, and fiscally conservative. What this means for Christians is that we are left out of the debate on the left unless we are willing to somehow bracket off our religious values. What it means for the left is that they lose out on a voice that has, in the case of Christianity, 2000 years of experience speaking up for progressive values.
Partly, this is the fault of the religious left for not shouting louder, for letting people like George W. Bush talk about their faith without calling into question what they do in the name of that faith. However, part of the blame must also go to the non-religious left, who seem happy to cede any discussion of religious values to the right, even if that means relegating the religious portion of the left to their own small sphere, ignored by the secular left and reviled by the religious right. After the 2004 elections, for example, when it was discovered that ‘moral values’ hadn’t played such a large role in determining the outcome of the election, much of the left seemed more than happy not to discuss moral values again. That being the case, the moral discussions of poverty, for example, as opposed to the economic discussions of job creation and GDP, have all but vanished from the political landscape. Poverty is certainly a moral concern, and Christians certainly have experience in both speaking out against it and using institutions to fight it.
Which brings me back to Tom Fox. I don’t know what his exact theology was. I don’t know where he stood on the many issues that affect the church today. I don’t know what his thoughts were on poverty, hunger, abortion, gay marriage, or any number of other things. I do know, though, that he went to a dangerous place to embody a philosophy of non-violence and live out a call to peace. I was asked to write a piece on what the Christian left has been up to recently, and my answer is that we’ve been doing recently what we’ve been doing for two thousand years: living out the progressive values that we’ve been called to preach.
[Editor's note: Chris Warfield is a fellow student with me at the Chicago Theological Seminary, where he will receive his M.Div. degree this coming May. --AK]
(8:36 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Proposed New Logo for the Republican Party
(8:28 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
To the Good Folks at EnbridgeYour friends and associates at Ontario Energy Savings (OES) pulled a fast one on us. We, however, will not under any circumstances pay the extra money for which those cheats surreptitiously obtained our ‘consent.’ In short, the charming fellow who darkened our doorway was sent out to ply his trade by OES with a pack of half-true, prevaricated rates. We were told that our five year fixed rate would be 44 cents per unit, a mere two cent increase over your current rate of 42 cents per unit. The truth of the matter, however, is that your current rate is and was 35 cents per unit; factoring in the nearly 6 cents ‘gas cost adjustment’ available to all regular customers at the current moment, your actual rate is just under 29 and ½ cents per unit. As such we were subjected to anywhere between 7 and 12 and ½ cents per unit worth of false advertising. The difference translates into a nearly 50% increase, and for us means a difference of approximately a hundred bucks per month. We are sending a check for the currently bill at the rate of 29 and ½ cents per unit, and will continue to pay that rate until further notice.
We are fully cognizant of the fact that companies such as OES can more easily retain a cabal of collection agents and lawyers than a single household such as ours. Nevertheless, we will not be paying the extra money those cunning suits believe they have procured at our expense. If they had told us that we would be starting with a 12 and ½ or even a 7 cents per unit difference over our current bill, we would have spurned their advances. We will let Enbridge, OES, and others sort out how this all works technically, but we will not be cajoled into squandering our scarce resources for the sake of honoring an underhanded deal into which we were swindled. If our bill is sent to said collection agents, we will dispute it. If the collection agency decides against us, we will continue to refuse to pay. If the matter goes to the courts, we may perhaps turn this into a wider issue with others in our neighborhood that have likewise been subjected to the chicanery of the greedy pigs at OES, a company unfortunately affiliated with Enbridge. Please advise your erstwhile partners of your actual rate and of the fact that they will not be ‘earning’ any additional filthy lucre at our expense. We consider our five year ‘contract’ with OES null and void on the basis of false advertisement and lack of adequate consideration. We are hoping that a little levity will be sufficient to clear up this matter.
Thank you for your attention,
Sunday, March 12, 2006
(3:15 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Chronicling Bush's Transition from Cowboy to Creepy Aunt
As Mr. Bush struggles yet again to change public opinion on Iraq, Republicans say there is no escaping the truth that the White House has careered from crisis to crisis in the second term and that the president has yet to develop a coherent agenda.Link.
Every development, they say, including Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a fellow hunter and the arrest on Thursday of Mr. Bush's former domestic policy adviser, Claude A. Allen, on theft charges, points to a White House that seems to be losing its once-vaunted discipline and control.
The ports deal was a case in point, they said. Even White House officials acknowledged that by the time a delegation of Congressional Republicans told Mr. Bush in the Oval Office on Thursday morning that it was a lost cause, Mr. Bush put up no fight.
By midafternoon, after the Dubai company had dropped out of the deal, the president just seemed relieved that the storm was over. In a gathering at the White House, Mr. Bush faked a playful punch at Representative Peter T. King, the New York Republican who led opposition to the deal, then pinched Mr. King's cheek. [emphasis added]
(6:11 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Being and Event Reading Group: Week 4 (pp. 184-239)We are in the midst of Part IV - The Event: History and the Ultra-One. In the first two meditations of this part (pp. 173-183), Badiou has established first (Med. 16) a nature-history dichotomy such that history does not exist. But if no history, no militant. Historicity, in fact, 'lies entirely in the singular; that upon which the state's metastructure has no hold' (174). What's more 'being comes forth ... by way of historical localization ... something is subtracted from representation, or the state' [breakthrough of the real I presume]. Second (Med. 17), by way of 'the matheme of the event,' the concept of the ultra-one allows us to posit the ways in which an event does and does not belong to a situation. An event 'evokes the void and interposes itself between the void and itself' (182-83) and 'can only be revealed in the retroaction of interventional practice' (178).
Meditation 18: Being's Prohibition of the Event First of all, we have a problem. 'Ontology does not admit a doctrine of the event.' Thus, 'event is the first concept external to the field of mathematical ontology' (184) - everyone but Jared and Charles, together, ''aaahhh". Neverthless, the maths can help us out by way of the axiom of foundation (AoF). The AoF, 'introduced rather tardily by Zermelo' suggests that 'in fact every pure multiple is historical, or contains at least one site. According to this axiom, within an existing one-multiple [a multiple counted as one by a situation], there always exists a multiple presented by it such that this mulitple is on the edge of the void relative to the initial mutiple' (185). While as metaontological and thus generally considered surplus by working mathemeticians, the AoF in fact 'touches on the ontological difference between being and beings' insofar as every situation is historical, and there are historical multiples everywhere' (187). Drawing on earlier Meditations, we know that nature as stable consists of 'non-ontololgical situations' in which 'foundation via the void is impossible,' but 'ontology uniquely admits founded multiples' of the void via the doctrine of the Two (Med. 12). As such, one could hastily conclude that ontology is 'entirely orientated towards the though of a being of the event' (188-89). However, the ontological formalization of such a thinking would be alpha belongs to alpha. Is this possible via a theory of the extraordinary set? No, the AoF actually forecloses such a possibility such that 'ontology has nothing to say about the event' (189-90).
Meditation 19: Mallarmé The posibility that 'ontology has nothing to say about the event' gives rise immediately to the most beautiful Meditation of the book thus far. A striking juxtaposition, the height of metaontological mathematical abstraction precedes Mallarmé's figue of a seasoned ship captain, arm raised high, fist clenched against a pitch black horizon in a raging storm. In his fist, the captain holds the possibility of title of the work A Cast of Dice ... . With no way to properly summarize the Meditation's ethos, I'll simply quote from the conclusion: "On the basis that 'a cast of dice will never abolish chance', one must not conclude in nihilism, in the uselessness of action, even less in the management-cult of reality and its swarm of fictive relationships" (198).
We now move to Part V The Event: Intervention (Med. 20) and Fidelity (23). Pascal (21)/Choice (22); Hölderin (25)/Deduction (24). The latter two will be considered next weekend.
Meditation 20: Intervention Intervention is 'any procedure by which a multiple is recognized as an event' (202). 'Nomination of an event is what constitutes it' (though 'not as real') (203). In a sense, an event nominates itself as the name of the event must emerge from the void. Nomination is essentially illegal since it 'cannot conform to the law of representation' (205). I cannot help but thinking of Genesis here ... . Interventional choice inevitably upsets the logic of the one, and the state of the situation can only resecure stability at the price of spotlighting the void it is supposed to foreclose. For Badiou, 'Time is intervention itself' (210); there can be no primal event or radically new beginning. Such thinking of the nascent is the 'false thought of the event, Revolution, or Apocalypse' (210). Rather, what is crucial is following an event's consequences through (not glorifying its occurence). Disciplined or 'organized control of time' equals fidelity to an event' (211).
Meditation 21: Pascal The event in Christianity par excellence is 'the death of the son of God on the cross' (note the difference from the later written Paul book). Fidelity to the meaning of that event is critical, but alas Christianity was long, long plagued by ontologies of presence. Here Badiou is refering back to a previous chapter that brings forth this claim (we all know what folks like Milbank, David Hart, and Reinhard Hütter would say to such a charge: analogy, participation, negative theology). Pascal, however, is heroic for Badiou insofar as he attempts to refound Christianity on the thought of human infinity rather than finity. Pascal renovates fidelity to the Church (the first institution to pretend to universality - Rome? Greece?) in the face of the challenge of science. Where others such as Voltaire have bemoaned Pascal's mathematical genius exerting itself on religion, and especially the miracle, Badiou appreciates Pascal's commitment here insofar as Pascal is a wonderful example of the militant. [I would very much like further illumination from Badiou on this from p. 219 - 'what the apostles did against the law, the atheist nihilist can redo'.]
Meditation 22: The Form-multiple of Intervention: is there a being of choice? Early in the twentienth century, according to Med. 22, mathematicians were embroiled in a major row over whether or not the general existence of a function of choice exists with respect to infinite sets. Everyone agreed to the existence of such a function with respect to finite sets. 'The axiom posits that for every existent multiple alpha, there correpsonds an existent function f, which 'chooses' a representative in each of he multiplees that make up alpha' (224). In short, there appears to be something, un-delegatable in infinite multiplicity' (225). Over time, however, even the skeptics have come to accept the existence of a function of choice in infinite sets because otherwise they would have to give up certain extremely important principles in other mathematical areas that are only possible if one supposes the existence of such. Badiou concludes that 'ontology declares that intervention is, and names this being choice ' (227-28). Such a choice or intervention, however, maintains a certain illegality and anonymity as 'outside the law of the count' (229-30). Paradoxically, the advent of an intervention in math almost always precedes a return to the most banal forms of mathematical rigidity just as political history demonstrates that 'immense revolutionary disorders engender the most rigid states of order' (230). At the end of the day, the state of the situation is left to deal with the ahisotoricity of the form-multiple of intervention. The most profound lesson of the axiom of choice is that it is only 'on the basis of the couple of the undecidable event and the interventional decision that time and historical novelty result' (231). By itself, intervention is fully subsumable under the rubric of order and even hierarchy.
Meditation 23: Fidelity, Connection An extraordinarily fruitful meditation that I cannot possibly adequately simplify. But to begin, Badiou describes fidelity as 'the set of procedures which discern, within a situation, those multiples whose existence depends upon the introduction into circulation (under the supernumerary naem conferred by an intervention) of an evental multiple. ... To be faithful is to gather together and distinguish the becoming legal of a chance.' Here we finally get the two titular terms together in the 'amorous relationship ... [of] the dialectic of being and event' (232). From here Badiou procedes to three preliminary remarks to which the rest of the Med. is devoted to seriously qualifying if not outright overturning: 1)fidelity is always particular (but later, we must think the universal form of fidelity) 2) Fidelity is not a term mulitple, but a structure. Strictly speaking fidelity is not (but later, it can be grasped in a provisional result composed of effective enquiries into whether multiples are connected to event. With respect to the state fidelity is almost nothing, with respect to the situation it is the quasi-everything. Thus the famous 'so we are nothing, let's be everything' (236).). 3) Fidelity acts by counting the parts of a situation or operates in a sense at the level of the state of a situation (but later, fidelity actually works as a counter-state or sub-state insofar as 'it surpasses all the results in which its finite-being is set out' (236).). For Badiou, there are three types of fidelity, spontaneous, dogmatic, or generic. The first two are not able to escape the power of the state but in the case of generic fidelity, fidelity remains distinct from the state to the extent that it is 'unassignable ot a defined function of the state' (237). Badiou promises more in this regard in Med. 31, but leaves us with some intriguing thoughts in the final two pages here (238-39) on the possibility of an 'infinite fidelity' in which a generically faithful subject is able to build 'a kind of other situation, obtained by the division in two of the primitive situation,' organizing 'within the situation another legitmacy of inclusions' and thus extending the results of an originary event into a vibrantly new, contemporaneous event!
Saturday, March 11, 2006
(7:02 PM) | John Emerson:
Why does economics exist?
In recent weeks I’ve been reading some books of critical economics, and one question that I’ve come up with is: “Why does economics exist at all? What good is it?”
This is not a rhetorical question. I’m sure that economics is good for something, but at this point I’m not sure specifically what it is. Mainstream economists seem unaware of any problem, and thus are incapable of advocating for their science; whereas critical economists and outside critics focus mostly on the problems, without saying a lot about the strengths.
I took a pretty tough semester of economics back in 1966 and didn’t like it much. Since then I’ve done quite a bit of reading about economics, but without developing an economist’s skills. I make no apology for this outside view – it’s like the natural historian’s or the ecologist’s view, observing the critter in its natural context without dissecting it. Outside knowledge is one of the forms of real knowledge.
The books I’ve read are mostly by fully-credentialed renegade economists, and sometimes by eminent mainstream economists reflecting philosophically at the ends of their careers. None of it is central to school economics as taught, which means that I know quite a few things about (but not “of”) economics that most professional economists don’t know.
In this piece I primarily will rely on Steve Keen's Debunking Economics (Zed, 2001). The rest of my references are in the first comment. (I especially recommend Cobb and Daley and Fullbrook. Collander, Holt, and Rosser represent a commendable attempt by well-established mainstream economists to respond to criticisms which most people in the biz simply ignore.)
The first category of problems is external – problems of avoidance. There are a lot of things that economics simply does not talk about: power, the family and childraising, the propertyless and unemployed, local community, and the physical environment (considered either as the place of origin of resources, or as the receptacle of pollution). All these things are assumed but not discussed by economics, often with disastrous results both normatively and descriptively. These are things which I’ve known about for a long time. (On my book list Cobb and Daley, Folbre, Williams and, to a degree, Sen talk about these issues.)
More interesting to me, since I could not have found these by myself, are the internal weaknesses of economics, which Steve Keen describes extremely well. It turns out that economics is not very successful even on its own terms.
The internal criticisms of economics fall roughly into two categories: bad mathematics (notably the laws of general equilibrium, which are claimed to be stable but are not), and empirical falsehood. Besides general equilibrium, the economic concepts which Keen says are erroneous include “the representative agent”, the downward-sloping demand curve, the upward-sloping supply curve, diminishing marginal productivity, the use of risk (as in gambling) as a proxy for uncertainty (what Rumsfeld calls the “unknown unknowns”), Say’s Law and its various revisions (which only work in a static economy with no accumulators of wealth, no growth, and no capitalists), and the neoclassical adaptations of Keynes.
These false concepts happen to be some of the basic principles taught to beginning economics students. Economics even comes equipped with a well-developed rationalization, originated by Milton Friedman, for grounding their science on falsehoods (which are claimed to be heuristic fictions), but in one of his best chapters (chapter 7) Keen shows that these rationalizations are mistaken.
A second defense of economics holds that these theoretical errors have no practical effect in the big picture, but Steve Keen also denies that – arguing, in particular, that the disaster of shock therapy in the old Soviet Union was in large part the result of the dogmatic application of erroneous economic principles (chief among which was the simple assumption that Russian society, politics, and history could simply be ignored, and that orthodox economic reforms would by themselves be sufficient to restore Russia’s economic health.)
Keen doesn’t underline the point as strongly as I would, but many of the fundamental errors of economics come from attempts to achieve predictivity, universality, and theoretical perfection, comparable to that of classical mechanics in physics, by bracketing out time and historicity. This problem in economics is part of a larger problem, and it’s been known since Poincare’s work on the three-body problem that, even in physics, this kind of timelessness and predictivity cannot always be found.
Take, for example, the theory for which Debreu won a Nobel Prize in 1983 (Keen, pp. 171-3). “In this model, there is only one market – if indeed there is a market at all – at which all commodities are exchanged, for all times from now until eternity. Everyone in this “market” makes all of their sales and purchases for all of time in one instant. Initially everything from now until eternity is known with certainty, and when uncertainty is introduced, it is swiftly made formally equivalent to certainty”.
Now, this is simply the economist’s version of the predictable clockwork universe wrongly alleged by Laplace. Even in physics this kind of model is now known to be wrong, not only in practice but even in principle, and everything we know tells us that it is even less possible in economics.
(6:09 PM) | Brad:
Let the True Work BeginOn Theory: Speeches To Its Smug Despisers
[17:32] Brad: I really cannot stand the smugness of Crooked Timber
[17:33] Brad: & other associated blogs
[17:33] Adam: Yeah.
[17:33] Adam: They don't follow the trends! They have an eye for genuine quality!
[17:34] Brad: IMPORTANT work
[17:34] Brad: And when all else fails, just cry Sokal
[17:34] Adam: I've changed the taglines accordingly.
[17:35] Brad: I mean ... there's this weird feeling amongst so many that even at its height theory threatened the sciences
[17:35] Brad: and that's just absurd
[17:35] Brad: the last I looked the military industry still employed engineers and scientists, and not pomo theorists
[17:35] Brad: lit. theory wonks, etc.
[17:37] Adam: And plus I'm just so fucking sick of science-oriented people basically disallowing any non-scientist from so much as mentioning science because they "get it wrong" in some undefined way.
[17:37] Adam: Always undefined!
[17:37] Brad: and when non-scientists cry foul at the abuse of theory, we're shut down
[17:38] Brad: when we suggest that maybe they don't understand, we're called pretentious
[17:38] Brad: when we suggest that they need to know more, we're told that theory should be super-obvious
[17:41] Adam: Yeah, exactly -- it's an attempt to make sure no conversation happens at all.
[17:42] Adam: Okay, but then the next step is -- we're being obtuse and refusing to deal with the "real issues" if we bring in any of these rhetorical issues or analyze the motives behind statements.
[17:42] Brad: Right ... which leads to the full circle. Because when we try to deal w/ "real issues" i.e., the stuff of their respective fields, we're back where we started
[17:43] Adam: All statements of self-proclaimed "scientists" ad extra are power-plays.
[17:46] Brad: We should just begin blatantly saying, "Well, obviously the scientists are idiots."
[17:46] Brad: "Let's move on to the real work of theory."
[17:46] Brad: embrace the caricacture
[17:47] Adam: Scientists are robots.
[17:47] Adam: They do great work! Three cheers! But they aren't qualified to talk to us about what they're doing.
[17:47] Adam: Or about anything other than what they're doing.
[17:47] Brad: Maybe Heidegger came to hate science because of too many lunch conversations w/ scientists
[17:48] Adam: Scientists do not think -- they simply and immediately know.
[17:48] Brad: one need not think about reality that much if it is, you know, real.
[17:48] Brad: it simply is
[17:48] Brad: accept it
[17:49] Brad: a mixture of common sense & the absence of self-consciousness made this country great, Adam
[17:49] Adam: It's as though thinking that there are questions in principle (rather than questions we haven't yet gotten around to answering) is a sign of a stunted intellectual development.
[17:50] Brad: or, more importantly, a threat
[17:50] Adam: It's kind of a neat trick that "science" just means "knowledge."
[17:50] Adam: It's the only available type of "knowledge."
[17:50] Adam: I kind of wish that we had something like "Wissenschaft" in English.
[17:51] Brad: Yes ... of course. Even theory is parastic on science. Because it knows it needs such "knowledge"
[17:51] Brad: it simply bastardizes it for its own ends
[17:51] Adam: But only scientists have earned the right to talk about science, because only they really know stuff.
[17:51] Brad: Theory must be about something ... but the do not have the tools or ability to be about anything
[17:52] Brad: therefore ... theory is empty-headed nonsense
[17:53] Brad: Actually, you know, I'm more concerned at the unified notion of "theory" than I am anything else.
[17:53] Brad: anything non-scientific, as such, becomes wonkery
[17:53] Adam: It's just the same as what religious people do with scientific "theories."
[17:53] Brad: True
[17:54] Adam: Scientists are fundamentalists.
[17:54] Brad: Yes ... because acknowledging the non-scientific as knowledge would threaten a wholesale reevaluation
[17:54] Brad: and this is untenable -- the groundrules cannot be questioned
[17:54] Brad: or changed
[17:56] Adam: I mean, look at how far we've gotten!
[17:56] Brad: Once you begin to question science, Adam, you end up like the Bush Administration's policy toward science
[17:56] Adam: It's like Descartes said -- walk through the woods in ONE MOTHER FUCKING DIRECTION for all of eternity, and before long you'll have produced the nuclear bomb.
[17:56] Brad: it's a slippery slope, this!
[17:57] Brad: love it or leave it, Motherfucker! accept science, or shut the fuck up ... entirely, or else
[17:57] Brad: scientists are the new redneck
[17:59] Adam: We must post this conversation as a blog post.
[17:59] Brad: there is, at times, a certain poetry to IM conversation
(10:06 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith: