Saturday, September 30, 2006
(7:11 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Saturday Commercial BloggingHas anyone else seen that interminable commercial for the little lights that you can put in a drawer, etc., that will go on when you open the drawer?
When it comes on, I usually start flipping through the channels looking for one of those debt consolidation commercials: "You'll never pay off those credit cards on your own!"
(1:42 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Story from the CTS PartyLast night I was talking to a professor at the party and remarked that at a previous CTS party, I had bested him -- a Hebrew Bible scholar -- in a bet about the Bible (admittedly, the New Testament). Already, this was a great story, but he gave me the gift of a much better story by proceeding to agree to a repeat of the exact same bet he had lost before.
Friday, September 29, 2006
(7:16 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
Tokyo Beckett Fest: Borderless Beckett?
A three-day trilingual mega-fest of Beckettia is under way here in Tokyo. Delegates have come from Ireland, Britain, France and the US. Mary Bryden's talk on Beckett and clowning has been the most interesting so far, showing us vintage footage of Grock and Max Wall. Coming up are Evelyn Grossman, Steven Conner, Terence Brown and more. Interesting panels on Deleuze's Beckett today and with a political theme tommorow. The star speaker is none other than J.M. Coetzee who is giving an untitled rambling this evening.
I must admit I didn't really understand why Coetzee demanded such pride of place in the schedule for the event so I made an effort to go along to a panel in which one of the presenters made a (albeit in 20 minutes not really worked out) comparison between Watt and The Life and Times of Michael K. In fact there was very little actual mention of the works themselves. The presentation was really a sort of postcolonial exercise in claiming Coetzee's "appropriation of modernist universalism" from the periphery, and saying that this resembles, in some way (?), some stuff in Beckett.
The speaker was relying on Hugh Kenner's splif on modernism and talking a lot about the "defamiliarization of language." Which got me thinking, "if this is what modernism is then why talk about the appropriation of such a modernist universal by writers 'in the periphery' when it is already there?" In other words, I think you could make the argument for two kinds of modernist defamiliarization in this case. One has occured over time, the other is immediate and continual. Bourgeois Europe had to undergo the trauma of having their words no longer meaning what they used to, fine. But for a hell of a lot of other people, particularly 'in the periphery,' their own words had never meant what they ought to. This second attitude seems the more Beckettian to me; when words cannot help but not to mean. They are just things, material sound, belonging to another.
Methinks this would have been a better place to start a postcolonial reading of Beckett (oh my...) than some strange sort of account of peripheral appropriation.
(5:12 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
My Assessment of the "Torture's Okay" BillEveryone who voted in favor of the bill deserves damnation.
Those Democrats who voted in favor should be expelled from the party.
The remaining Democrats should have fillibustered, even if they knew in advance that their fillibuster attempt would fail.
In the event of a failed fillibuster, they should have used physical force to keep a vote from going forward. They should not have rested until the vote was called off or they were all in jail.
Yes, I think it was that serious of a matter.
Instead, we got this wimpy hedging to avoid Republican slander. Well, guess what -- the thing about slander is that it's not based in facts, so no matter what you do, the Republicans can still slander you. Have we learned nothing from the Swift Boat incident? Republican rhetoric officially has no basis in reality whatsoever, so taking it into account when planning political strategy is sheer insanity.
If the Democrats want to run on the slogan "liberal is the new conservative," they should at least be radically conservative when it comes to preserving civil liberties and treaty obligations -- just as they should've been radically conservative when Alito was nominated and not let the theory of the "unitary executive" (i.e., the president as Augustus Caesar) have a representative on the Supreme Court. But apparently it's too fucking much to ask that they would attempt to preserve the US Constitutional form of government. You'd hate to alienate a fucking swing voter in Ohio who thinks maybe torture is okay.
(8:14 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Friday Morning Confessional: Ex-Pat EditionI confess that I no longer reside in the United States of America. We made it over here and none of my nightmares about falling out of the sky came true. I confess that I have a psychological illness and as a result of that illness we brought, at great expense, our three cats with us. It's bizarre to everyone, I am sure, but this decision essentially means I am staying in Nottingham for as long as possible. I confess that upon meeting the staff, I don't regret coming here even though I likely won't do well in the job market afterwards.
I confess that one Ms. Infinite Thought is an amazing hostess and that I have pictures to prove it. I'll maybe post those some time if we get good confessions this week.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
(7:16 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
An Informal SurveyWhich is more emotionally fraught -- waiting for a bus or looking for a parking space?
(7:07 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Thursday Grammar-BloggingHas "different from" now officially been replaced by "different than"?
I used to think that the latter was used because it provided a more economical way of using "different" with a dependent clause -- for example, "It was different than I thought" is much simpler than "It was different from how I thought it would be." Now, however, it seems that even with simple nouns, one hardly ever hears "different from."
Am I totally making this up?
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
(9:50 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Free AdviceNever read right-wing blogs. I just spent 30 seconds browsing Instapundit, and my health has already noticeably deteriorated.
To be safe, you should probably avoid posts at liberal blogs that seem to be responding to right-wing bloggers as well.
Some libertarians may be okay, but you have to be really careful with that shit. Sometimes you get a charmingly naive person who teaches at the University of Chicago, and then other times you get people who are standard right-wing hacks but feel entitled to be intellectually snobbish about it.
Because I mean -- yeah, it seems like a good idea to be open to other viewpoints, but on the other hand, it's hard to concentrate when you're up to your chin in vomit. Let's say that, as a rule of thumb, it only counts as a "viewpoint" if it doesn't include the word "treason." Just as kind of an initial sorting device.
Look: I'm getting drawn into it. I'm clearly flirting with the idea of talking about right-wing "ideas" at some length. But no -- some utterances don't count as "ideas." In fact, some of them are so fargone as to be an insult to the word "opinion." If you spend a lot of time exchanging words with people like that, you'll forget how to speak intelligible English. Look at what happened to that Colmes guy!
This has been my free advice for the day. Thank you for your time.
(10:37 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Glory DaysYesterday in the Marx seminar, we were discussing Marx's theory of crises and the way that capitalism was saved in the mid-twentieth century by Fordism. Under such a system, workers are paid enough to buy the products they build, so that wages become a kind of investment, not only in guaranteeing future profits, but also in staving off social unrest. It occurred to me that I knew something about Fordism, and more importantly that every member of my family and everyone I grew up with instinctively knew something about Fordism, since I grew up in the outskirts of one of the headquarters of Fordism: Flint, Michigan. We all understand that GM shot itself in the foot by moving jobs to Mexico, prompting the incredulous question, "Who is going to buy their cars, then?"
The interesting thing, though, is that there is often a certain amount of shame surrounding Flint's union past. On the one hand, yes, GM's decision to pull out of the US was a dumb move, but on the other hand, the unions are understood as somehow being to blame for the whole Fordist alliance between big labor and big business being called off -- the unions asked for too much, they provided cover for useless workers who deserved to be fired, etc. Or as one hears constantly: "They did a lot of good in their time, but they went too far." Perhaps -- but why is it any less valid for the labor unions to try to maximize their profit just as the corporation does? And in what fantasy world would the unions have made enough concessions to make them an attractive alternative to cheap Mexican labor?
Now whenever I go home and read the Flint Journal, the plan is always to revive Flint by drawing primarily on local resources, since big corporations are no longer to be trusted -- everyone must give up their fantasies of a new employer moving in to give everyone jobs. The model that is most kicked around is to turn it into a college town -- which makes a certain kind of sense, given the presence of the University of Michigan-Flint, Mott Community College, and Kettering University (formerly GMI) in the city. Presumably this would create a more bohemian atmosphere, perhaps even attracting homosexuals and other creative individuals, and Flint could be saved by web development and IPOs and all that. Or else Flint could become like most other college towns outside of Ann Arbor or Berkeley -- with the universities gradually buying up the whole place, meanwhile paying shit wages to the workers from the economically depressed surrounding area.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
(1:23 PM) | Brad:
Another Sports Post: Self-Destruction EditionIt is often pointed out to me by friends that I have a peculiar disdain for most successful NFL quarterbacks. Ben Roesthelsbergyerehgher of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- hate him. Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts -- disdain him. And even though Carson Palmer is QBing for the Cincinnati Bengals, and I am ambivalently cheering for them (I'm working on a post [don't worry, Adam, for another blog] explaining this), he kind of bores me.
A really good quarterback is clinical in his approach to the game. This is what makes him good. He does not let his emotions get the better of him. He is confident, but not so confident that the rest of his teammates cannot approach him. He cannot allow defeat wear him down, or victory make him lazy. Success, for the most part, unless you're the Baltimore Ravens, rests on his shoulders, and he must bear it like a solid rock.
And like most rocks, he is painfully dull.
Now, I'm a big fan of the "old school" when it comes to football. But what most people don't realize is that "old school" does not mean boring. Sure, it often ends up in boring games w/ scores like 9-6 -- I love these; but old school is also idiosyncracies run wild. It is hard-drinking, bar-brawling, and violently vulgar. It is intentionally hurting people on and off the field. It is wanton disregard for one's health & well-being. It is, basically, criminal activity decontextualized, and thus made, in a word, entertaining.
Perhaps the reason I so rarely get too uptight about the salaries athletes make, or when somebody like Terrell Owens or Randy Moss ends up being a complete douchebag, is that to me they are not real people. Apropos my focus on sports only for "the moment," I do not think of their actions as having any "real" consequences. When I hear about another Cincinnati Bengal getting arrested, say, for drinking enough to fill his 230-lb. body with enough booze to give him a .17 blood-alcohol level, he is endeared to me all the more. (Even more so if accompanying him & vomitting out the window during the stop, is a teammate who has already been arrested for a variety of things, ranging from discharging a weapon [while wearing his own jersey], possession of marijuana, and propositioning a 17-year-old girl, all of which make me think he should be the star of his very own reality show, which I would definitely watch.) Of course, I know that driving drunk is (a) wrong, (b) irresponsible, and (c) dangerous, and I would be sad as anybody if he'd wrecked and killed somebody else (interestingly, it'd be just as entertaining if he'd only killed himself in said wreck -- the sadness would be all the video of his kids and family, etc., the return of the Real, blah blah blah). But ... taken as it is, when the full context of an athlete's stupidity is not really an issue or in my view, or at the very least something I can successfully avoid, I revel in it & ask only for more. Which is why I typically only read the headline & the first three paragraphs of any story detailing a new athletic scandal.
Sadly, though, this kind of stupidity rarely extends to successful quarterbacks. Again, they're too level-headed. W/ the most blatant contemporary exception being Brett Favre, who I liken to the Johnny Cash of American athletes (painkiller addiction and all). Even more sad is that I cannot remedy this simply by rooting for the unsuccessful quarterbacks -- e.g., Aaron Brooks, Jeff Blake, Chris Simms, etc. -- because even though they're not a solid rock upon which a good team might be built, they are expected to act like one! Being boring of your own accord, that's one thing. But acting boring -- oh, the humanity!
Apologies for Kotsko for not getting this posted yesterday as promised.
(11:12 AM) | Marta:
Tuesday Hatred CoupI hate that it's almost noon and no one's posted a hatred. I hate having to step up to the plate.
Monday, September 25, 2006
(5:20 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Sick and Self-DeprecatingLast night I came down with a sudden "allergy attack" (apparently misdiagnosed), then this morning I could barely get out of bed. I planned to power through the day, but at the first significant lull in activity, I realized how incredibly tired I was and that I was apparently running a fever, so I headed home.
Now I'm waking up from my nap and am noticing a pattern of self-critique throughout the day. I felt really bad about the following:
- Not finishing the paper I had planned to write Sunday -- although it's for a conference that's still two months away
- Not cleaning the house often enough -- particularly not yesterday, since I was so non-busy not-writing that paper
- Not getting my ex-girlfriend flowers often enough
- Leaving work early today because I felt sick -- even though I can easily make up the time later
- Persistent failure to begin my directed reading for this semester -- which I have not even planned yet with the professor who is directing it
Sunday, September 24, 2006
(8:20 AM) | Scott McLemee:
Did You Give Up Punk For Lent?Sometime in 1994, I stopped listening to music. Not entirely, of course. But for the next six or seven years, it became a fading presence in my daily life -- something I did without entirely for months at a time, and didn't think about much otherwise.
This change coincided, more or less, with getting married. It also overlapped with giving up a little of the crippling perfectionism about writing -- enough that I became able to finish work and publish it regularly. The flow of causality in all of this would be hard to chart. It was a period of decisions, obviously, but I'm pretty sure that "Okay, no more music from now on" really was not one of them.
Whatever the reason, then, the album Manos by the Spinanes, from 1993, was more or less where indie rock and I parted ways for the decade. (We still don't stay in touch all that often.)
The band's lineup was extremely minimal: one drummer plus a guitarist who sang. This has been imitated but not improved upon by others, In particular, I loved the guitarist's style. Her playing felt naive, but precise, and her voice seemed to be coming from some register between breathiness and strength. The drummer is skillful but also restrained (not always qualities found in the same person), using what sounds like a small kit to very good effect.
Looking around for commentary on the band, I find this entry from about a year ago by a blogger named Andrews Tsks. He seems not to have undergone anything like my own hermit-like withdrawl from the music world, but shares the impression that this was a pretty special record:
The overall feeling of Manos is one of intimacy: minimalist arrangements make every vocal nuance, every drum hit stand out, as if each minor decision made in the album's performance is communicating a message to the listener. At the same time, The Spinanes' music has the power to fill a room with warmth and light, enveloping the listener in its subtle but ultimately overwhelming beauty. How this band has become so obscure as they now are is a complete mystery to me.
Plugging the band's name into YouTube, the only item by them that comes back is this video from 1996 for a later song, "Lines and Lines." It's less spare than anything on Manos. It also strikes me as the most beautiful thing I've heard in a long time.
Elswhere online, there's an early and perhaps deliberately un-polished video for "Noel, Joel, and Me" (the second song on Manos).
By the way, I'm curious whether the title of the record has any explanation, or if the band just thought the Spanish word for "hands" had a nice ring to it. I'd prefer to think it is not an allusion to the extremely low-budget and quite awful horror movie Manos: Hands of Fate (sometimes derisively called Mangoes: Cans of Fruit) even though it turns out I once knew someone who was involved with the film. See this essay by Pat Littledog, a writer who lived one small town over from mine in East Texas when I was in high school.
On the other hand, if it turns out that the Spinanes did have that movie in mind...whoah. That would be very "plate of shrimp."
Saturday, September 23, 2006
(8:49 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
The Infantile Belief in MoneyWhen I was a young paranoid evangelical, terrified of the coming wrath of God for touching myself or some other stupid thing, I devised a plan to ward off the rapture, which was in my own pre-millenarian mind the beginning of the eschaton. The plan was simple, though it required organization on a massive scale and large-scale ideological training. It was my understanding that no one knew the time or the hour of Christ’s return, which, in the beliefs of the church I was raised in, meant that no one knew when the rapture would come. So one would simply have to believe, really believe to the point of absolute knowledge, that this day and this hour were precisely the appointed time of that apocalyptic event. Now I knew that obviously one single person could not believe this every day, because aside from the logical impossibility, the will of a single person is not sufficient to truly believe in the reality of such a fantastic event after its failure to occur. So people would be assigned days to believe this, though of course it would not appear as an assignment but as an imperative of knowledge itself. There were even safe-guards in this scheme as there is a sufficient population of evangelical Christians to assign more than one person, whose will may falter, to each day and hour.
Of course this is an embarrassing thing to admit. It’s beyond silly, and one wonders about the kind of culture that would encourage such mentally suspect thoughts in a child. Yet this scheme is the very basis of our socio-political culture, for money is the very basis of our socio-political culture. Every day we stave off the coming wrath of the Market God by believing in money, really believing in it so that we know it is real, though in reality it is no more real than the rapture or the second coming of an evangelical God. The current scheme is a bit more nefarious than my own childish one, for instead of making just a few people a day live in terror we all live in relative peace unaware of the apocalypse around the bend. We believe in our knowledge of money.
This is what troubles me about imperatives to play the stock market or ‘get smart’ about my money that I've heard since my childhood, almost congruently with the imperative to 'get right with God'. It’s obvious to all of us that our position within the economy will determine our direction in life and that, of course, it is wise to deal with that position prudently. It is so obvious as to be boring and beyond the most banal of all academic bourgeois knowledge. But what troubles me is that people who claim to be secular are just as entrenched in a kind of religious belief as those evangelicals we find to be so disturbing in their ‘childish’ beliefs. It troubles me that people who claim to support the autonomy of the State against the intrusion of religious belief have no problem with nation-states being nothing more than another economic actor within the wider economy, its own sovereignty subject to the will of that wider economy with its own hierarchy akin to that of the ecclesial order.
Now the usual response is that we have to participate in this chrematistic system -- to suggest otherwise risks being a beautiful soul or, even worse, being a guilt-monger. But these are only clever ways of disguising a more nefarious beautiful soul behind such an accusation. For those of us who can see the truth of the worse kinds of religiosity behind the capitalistic chrematistics and yet participate piously within it as if such participation granted purity are the ones who believe, who hold a faith, in a grace beyond understanding. Goodchild says, “For money that makes money leads to the acquisition of a power that has no political essence or limits.” The true cost of this religious universalism embraced by the new beautiful souls is a kind of excommunication. If you don’t believe in the power of money by participating in the exchange of the community (liturgy) then you have excluded yourself. There is nothing the community can do about it, as it was your choice and so it is not the fault of the community that you suffer for it.
(8:11 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Is bin Laden dead?Via Crooked Timber, I learn of a report in the French newspaper L’Est Republicain indicating that bin Laden has died of typhoid. (This New York Times story casts some doubt on the report and also summarizes the French article.)
Thankfully, this is a little-read blog, so hopefully no swing voters in Ohio will be alienated by what I'm about to say: I hope this is true, because this is far preferable to a situation where American or allied troops would have captured or killed bin Laden and Bush would've been able to take credit for it. Somehow, "We isolated him so that he would slowly die due to lack of medical attention" just doesn't sound as heroic and decisive as "We tracked down and killed the fucker."
Friday, September 22, 2006
(12:00 AM) | Dominic:
Friday Confession: Confessio AmantisI confess that the closing words of Graham Greene's The End Of The Affair, as quoted recently by Charlie Brooker in the Guardian, seem to me the truest prayer and the ultimate confessio amantis:
O God, You've done enough,
You've robbed me of enough,
I'm too tired and old to learn to love,
leave me alone for ever.
To what experiential basis Badiou can hope to appeal in his association of the amorous truth procedure with the affect of happiness, I confess I have not the least idea. He surely cannot mean the dopey-headed, sexed-up miasma of smugness some people like to immerse themselves in - the same people who, a few weeks later, are invariably to be found whining to their friends - in between crying jags - about how they're all bastards / neurotic harridans underneath.
I confess that when I first read Larkin's late poem, "Love Again", in my late teens, I was terrorised by the near-certainty that I, too, was going to end up like that.
I confess that every time I read the words "Lacan's formula of sexuation", I think of this joke:
A man is sitting slumped at a bar, drunk and disconsolate, his head in his hands. Nearby, Henri the barman is polishing glasses. Time passes. Eventually the drunk man raises his head and moans, "Henri, Henri, mon frère - men and women - zey are différent". Henri nods understandingly: "ah - monsieur ees a philosophair."
I confess that I sometimes wish I were a little bit more homosexual; more out of a general loathing for the norms of heterosexual culture than because of any positive inclination, although that [expunged to spare the poor chap's blushes] would definitely be my type if I had one.
I confess that the first person I ever had sex with had told me beforehand that she didn't want me to make a big deal out of it, so after we'd finished I went and picked up the Derrida I'd been reading beforehand and carried on reading where I'd left off.
I confess that this was the wrong thing to do.
I confess that I knew perfectly well it was the wrong thing to do, but that even after just having had sex for the first time ever I was cold enough to do it anyway, just to show her.
I confess that when my wife told me, the other night, that of course she hated me; hating me made her happy; she hoped to go on hating me for the rest of my life, I nearly wept with joy: it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to me.
As one of my schoolteachers averred when he discovered me playing Leisure Suit Larry in the school computer room when I should have been at choir practice, I am a miserable sinner and there is no health in me. And you? Confess!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
(10:59 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
HypothesisIn most of Western philosophy, the word "God" refers to a stopping point to stave off infinite regress with regard to causality. Even Feuerbach, perhaps at first glance a counterexample, could be understood as using the word "God" to refer to the final or teleological cause -- which in his case is the human species.
There is no need to use the word "God" to refer to such a logical stopgap: for instance, the scientific idea of the "Big Bang" bears a definite affinity with the idea of the "unmoved mover." (I understand that the Big Bang is no longer thought of as a strictly absolute beginning, or at least not by all scientists, but then, theoretical physicists are becoming more comfortable with the idea of infinite regress anyway.)
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
(9:44 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Some Thoughts on MarxIt's hard to know what to say about Marx. On the one hand, one must always admit that he was wrong -- his prediction of where capitalism was inevitably heading was incorrect. Now capitalism appears to have changed into a form that is not as easily analyzable in terms of the standard Marxist labor theory of value. Although I'm not much of an economist, his failure here seems to me to be based on a certain lack of imagination regarding the ways that finance would be incorporated into the capitalist system to give it an extremely high degree flexibility -- some may even say a nearly infinite flexibility.
This complicates Marx's model of what communism might mean, as well. For Marx (at least the earlier Marx I have read so far), it seems to be a matter of "cashing in." Capitalism has generated all this technology that means that less and less labor is needed to meet the basic needs of humanity; if the workers take possession of that technology and pool their resources, they can create a situation in which people have more and more freedom. The point is not to create a kind of "workerism" where everyone proudly labors all the time, but rather to follow the worker's natural instincts and work as little as possible. What would they do then? I don't know -- what would you do if you only ever needed to work a few hours each week and never had to worry about basic necessities, and all your friends and all the friends you might make in the future were in the same situation as well? I daresay I could come up with something.
That is a very attractive model, and the philosophical anthropology underlying it is deeply attractive to me as well. The empirical aspect of Marx's project is certainly "out of date" to some degree, but I don't think the basic hope can ever be. At least I hope not. It was admittedly a hope that could only arise in the circumstances in which Marx was writing -- and in fact, his basic scheme for how communism could've come about has a basic plausibility for me, enough even to give it the character a missed opportunity.
Maybe another opportunity like that won't come along for a long time now -- maybe we're all in exile, being punished for not having known how to cast down the idols of death, to give up that worship of capital that endlessly impoverishes us. Perhaps now we can at least learn how to hope, so that if another chance should arise, we won't let it pass us by again.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
(12:00 AM) | Dominic:
Tuesday Hatred: Penis Envy EditionHate? Don't talk to me about hate...
I hate how much of Lacan's Écrits seems to be taken up with him waving his cock in the faces of other psychoanalysts. It's not even an especially big cock, although it's very elaborately tattooed. Generally, I felt the book could do with rather more anecdotes about Ridley Scott movies, and rather fewer references to classical literature - who bothers with that stuff nowadays?
(I hate that Cynthia Plaster-Caster and her friends never did a tour of French academia in the early 70s, and that there now remains no material record of how big Lacan's cock actually was. Who out of Lacan, Deleuze, Foucault, Lyotard and Derrida do you suppose was the biggest? My bet's on Deleuze.
Also: what effect would it have on the theoretical status of Irigaray's writings if it were to be discovered that she was in fact a man - and, moreover, hung like a horse? This Sex Which Is Not One? One-and-a-half, more like...)
I hate how much of Zizek's How to Read Lacan is made up of selected highlights of his other books and articles - approximately all of it, as far as I can make out; although it may be that I'm mistaking original material that he's plagiarised elsewhere for a plagiarism of the plagiarism. I also hate how little that book tells you about how to actually, y'know, read Lacan. I suspect the reason is that the actual Lacan is literally unreadable: Zizek's Lacan is just some imaginary wonder-theorist that Zizek's effectively made up by interpolating juicy bits of Hitchcock and Hegel between the lines of Lacan's vaporous prose. Not that this wouldn't be a perfectly legitimate operation, of course...
Enough of dead Frenchmen, and their long-since atrophied appendages! This week I have surrendered to the diseased charms of liberal piety, and started hating on the Muslims. What kind of a world religion is it that, when it believes itself to have been obliquely slandered by the leader of another world religion, can find nothing better to say than, "ooh! ooh! You big meanie, you dissed my deeply-held beliefs!"? Come on - there are, like, a million and one better comebacks than that! Where are all the Muslim intellectuals patiently explaining that Ratzinger's got his head up his pontifical arse, and by the way has he heard of Ibn Rushd (note: he probably has)? Failing that, you'd think at least someone would manage a spirited crack about not being in any hurry to listen to lectures on the mysteries of the divine logos from a bunch of Jew-burning, Nazi-sympathising kiddy-fiddlers in dresses. (Note to self: check Ahmadinejad's blog for updates). Muslims! Get your act together! These are the instigators of the Spanish Inquisition you're dealing with here - it should be like shooting fish in a barrel.
I hate all of the Robbie Williams fans who have been travelling from London to see his show at the Milton Keynes Bowl on the very same train I go home from work on each day, even though in actual fact there weren't that many of them and they didn't overcrowd the train nearly as much as we were warned they might. I think the sheer fact of their being Robbie Williams fans is sufficient cause for hatred; but if you disagree, I would ask you to take into consideration the inordinate number of references to MySpace that peppered the conversation with which the two teenage girls in my carriage so enlivened the journey.
I hate that my MySpace page gets fewer page visits than my sister's.
My dear brethren, I would leave you with this excellent quotation from an early letter of accomplished hater Philip Larkin to his grate chum Jim Sutton: "Please believe me when I say that half my days are spent in black, surging, twitching, boiling HATE!!!". Words to live by; and so, I say to you: hate on, and damned be he that first cries "hold, enough!"
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Tuesday Love is also available.]
Monday, September 18, 2006
(10:58 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
Amish Lovelock's Height of Good Taste: LDP Election Special
So, tomorrow the ruling Liberal Democratic Party here in Japan is going to choose its new leader. The perfect false choice between three blue-blooded neoliberal politician-managers neatly tweaked to illustrate that the LDP is still the “inclusive” party of national hegemony has been dragged across our television screens for a couple of weeks running. A soap-opera of coalition-making, co-optation and party consensus if there ever was one. Abe Shinzo (on the right in the picture), the most likely to win. Grandson of the man who orchestrated the US-Japan Security Treaty, Abe, in his now bestselling little plug manual published a month before the contest Towards a Beautiful Japan, finds himself repeating the familiar schizophrenic conservatism of his forebears – a blue-hearted Americanism and fervent anti-Asian revisionism that, when summed up translates into US blanket missile defense, constitution revision and the establishment of a new army, and further neoliberal public spending “streamlining” to make it all possible. A friend of mine put it quite well while I was in Seoul last month. It came down the simple fact that because of this latest Tokyo election he’d be paying more tax as Korea would have to keep up with any developments in Tokyo. The menu for the next few years then would seem to be tax all round and lots of guns.
The current foreign minister, Aso Taro (on the left of the picture), another a contender for Koizumi’s position, is playing the “extremist” role to the right of Abe, and Tanigaki (in the center) the “liberal” “traditionalist” role to the left. While Abe will mince his words to retain a degree of ambiguity and make efforts to appear a “reasonable” figure, Aso is having a ball. He is visibly enjoying every moment of the contest being allowed to say whatever he wants wherever. He has so far repeatedly hailed Japanese colonial efforts in Taiwan and South Korea, and recently said of the People’s Republic that it is “a neighbor with one billion people equipped with nuclear bombs and which has expanded its military outlays by double digits for 17 years in a row and it is unclear what this is being used for – China is a serious threat to Japan!” What has struck me however about Aso’s enjoyment in making such statements is that this kind of cocky, tongue-in-cheekiness could be taken as a family trait. Only, a family trait that has been used to different effect in the past.
Aso is the grandson of the first postwar Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshida Shigeru, the initiating force behind the so-called “Yoshida Doctrine” which first put economic recovery under US military protection at the expense of both independence in foreign affairs and fundamental political reform. What I find most interesting though, is the fact that Aso’s uncle, whom he resembles more than his father, is Yoshida Kenichi (1912-1977).
Yoshida Kenichi was a scholar of French and English literature, a translator, critic and novelist. More importantly, for this series at least, is the fact that he was a dropout, a native upper-class English-speaking dandy full of Wilde and Waugh, a heavy drinker, generous, even extravagant with money, and most of all, a lover of good food. All at the same time he was the product of one of Japan’s most premier conservative (now neoconservative) familial dynasties; a product of Japan’s postwar (and thus due to the postwar marriage of convenience with the US occupation authorities, prewar) elite (his mother, Yukiko, too was the granddaughter of the elderly statesman and major architect of the 1868 Meiji Restoration, Okubo Toshimichi). Out of such a family then, comes surely one of the most interesting literary hedonists I’ve come across.
Writing in a style almost completely foreign to normal written Japanese - in extremely long-winded sentences more attune to that of an 18th Century European philologist - Kenichi’s prose repeatedly evokes a sense of wry ressentiment. A kind of profound frustration directed at that which he identified as its cause (his family circumstances and fraught relationships). This frustration, I think, ultimately generates a rejecting and justifying kind sweet morality. Toff morality no doubt, but sweet. Born while his father was working as a foreign diplomat, Kenichi was raised by his maternal grandfather until the age of six, when his father came to “collect the boy.” He then accompanied father on his postings in China, France and the United Kingdom, enrolled in and out of school on the way. Private schoolboydom over, Kenichi was enrolled into Kings College, Cambridge in 1930. There he studied literature under Dickenson and Lucas and began to translate Shakespeare, Baudelaire and Laforgue. After only a year though, he was pulled out, and returned to Tokyo, to be delivered to the Athenee Francais school of French to keep him busy with his hobbies and out of the business of the “alpha males” in the family (and perhaps more importantly out of the war – the most formative experience of others of his generation – yet another source of ressentiment). Despite this distance, however, the general sense of malaise and nihilism which characterizes so many other writers of his generation expressed is present in Kenichi’s work too. Only, for Yoshida Kenichi, nihil came with a wicked smile. He was a kind of Gatsby among the ashes of bombed-dry postwar Tokyo.
His debut as a writer came in 1935, when he published a translation of Edgar Allen Poe’s Memorandum (Oboegaki). After this, along with the literary critics Nakamura Mitsuo and Yamamoto Kenkichi, he co-founded the literary magazine Hihyo (Critique) which would publish a series of articles on modern French and English writers. It was from his late forties though, that his writing became prolific. Standard texts on English and modern English literature, art criticism, translations of Shakespeare’s sonnets, Cleland, Waugh, Toynbee, Lawrence, Carrol, Greene, the Brontes, Chesterton, Monsarrat, Highsmith, Joyce and Forster, a set of thoughtful essays musing Europe at century’s end, light-hearted essays such as Saisho Ozoshi Hinkyusu (Prime Minister’s Son Falls on Hard Times – a title given by a disagreeable publisher which Kenichi later privately republished with the revised title: Detarameron, or “On Nonsense”), novels such as Kanazawa (1973), a beautiful evocation of good time, food and conversation in the town of the same name and painted only as these things can be experienced under the influence of good alcohol. His last work Jikan (Time, 1976), is a ruminating piece, again on time and its relation to culture and the good life that Kenichi located in pre-20th Century Europe.
Yoshida Kenichi’s close friends read like a who’s who of the postwar Tokyo literary establishment. Ishikawa Jun, Ooka Shohei, Mishima Yukio, Yokomitsu Riichi, the doyen of postwar literary criticism, Kobayashi Hideo, Kawakami Tetsutaro, Maruya Saiichi and many, many others. Living his reputation as an extravagant dandy, however, often brought these friendships under strain. With Mishima, for instance, it is said that the two fell out after Kenichi insisted on naming the price of each item of new furniture Mishima had bought for his new house after inviting Kenichi over for a drink. Granddaddy of J-lit studies in the US, Donald Keene (a man whose strictly political credentials, I think, deserve to be questioned) was also accepted into Kenichi’s crowd in the 40s and 50s. He remembers going with Yoshida to a hotel for drinks at which Kenichi ordered champagne and caviar for all of them. A band was playing and when it stopped, Kenichi called the band leader over, pressed a thousand yen note in his hand (a lot of money at the time), and asked for him to play his favorite piece of music. After repeating this act three times and having downed several bottles of champagne between them, he called him over again, gave him the tip, and declared “nandemo ii ya!” (Anything at all!). On another occasion, after drinking, Keene and English literature scholar Shinoda Hajime were with Yoshida in a taxi heading home when Kenichi shouted at the top of his voice “tomare!” (Stop!) to the driver. After the car stopped, Kenichi leaped outside, no doubt looking for another drinking venue, only to be scooped up by Shinoda (a former Judo champion) and deposited back in the taxi. Again, this routine would be repeated two or three times. Keene remembers Yoshida as “fond of every kind of alcoholic beverage, especially sake. He once described a sake from Niigata as `liquid moonlight.` When he was drunk he babbled happily, sometimes in English, sometimes in Japanese, equally unintelligible in both.”
Apart from the alcohol though, Kenichi also wrote prolifically on food. Whether is be British poached eggs, American bars, Hiroshima oysters, Noto red seaweed, Kofu broiled minnow, Nagasaki karasumi (a kind of biscuit-like snack made by desalinating salt pickled mullet roe and drying it in the sunlight), and cinnamon-like matsutake mushrooms, he was good on food. Here’s a recipe for a black pudding potato cake with poached egg topping, albeit heavily modified from the original, I think Yoshida would have enjoyed:
Ingredients: For the potato cake:125g/4oz fresh breadcrumbs2 eggs, beaten55g/2oz flour225g/½lb mashed potato125g/4oz black pudding, diced25g/1oz chives, chopped pinch of salt and pepper, For the poached egg: 4 eggs (preferably free-range)1 tsp vinegar, For the salad: baby salad leavesFor the mustard dressing:3 tsp grain mustard½ lemon, juice only, extra virgin olive oil
Method1. Combine the mashed potato, black pudding and seasoning together.2. Mould into round barrel shapes, then coat in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and deep-fry in a deep-fat fryer preheated at 180C/350F.3. Gently poach the eggs in simmering water with the vinegar.4. Combine the mustard, lemon and olive oil to form a dressing, season.5. Dress the plate with some baby salad leaves.6. Place the crispy black pudding potato cake onto the leaves, top with the poached egg and dressing and serve immediately.
With only a day to go before we get our new sanitized prick in a suit I for one will be dining out and raising a glass to Yoshida and to any last gasps of the kind of bourgeois self-destructiveness and ressentiment he represented that might be left among our rotten political class. My fear though is that this kind of class implosion is now gone forever.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
(11:05 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
20th Century UpdateToday I am going to finish Sisters in the Wilderness by Delores Williams, and after that, I will only have the following books left to read if I want to read everything on the syllabus (books marked "optional" are by an author of whom I've already read one of the two options listed on the syllabus):
- A. Ritschl, The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation (constructive portion)
- R. Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man (I read Moral Man and Immoral Society despite its not appearing on the syllabus, simply because I needed something to read on the train)
- G. Ebeling, A Theological Theory of Language
- J. Moltmann, Theology of Hope (optional)
- W. Pannenberg, Anthropology in Theological Perspective
- J. B. Metz, Faith and History
- D. Soelle, Christ the Representative
- K. Rahner, Hearers of the Word (optional)
- H. R. Niebuhr, The Meaning of Revelation (optional)
- G. Kaufmann, In the Face of Mystery
- D. Tracy, The Analogical Imagination
- D. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding
- R. Adler, Engendering Judaism
- J. Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai
- C. S. Song, Theology from the Womb of Asia
- Y. B. Kim, ed., Minjung Theology
- C. H. Kyung, Struggle to Be the Sun Again
- A. Pieris, An Asian Theology of Liberation
On another note, for the medieval theology directed reading, I think we're initially going to shoot for ten authors, three from the east and seven from the west. I am particularly interested in more neglected figures, so Aquinas is not within the purview of this study. So far, in the east, I'm leaning toward giving one slot to Pseudo-Dionysius, but I'm undecided on the other two (probably John of Damascus and Gregory Palamas). In the west, I have to do the debate between Radbertus and Ratramnus (who will count as one figure for this purpose), and of course one must do Anselm, but other than that it's uncertain. Any suggestions, particularly on the western figures, would be much appreciated.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
(8:10 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
When I hear the word "religion," I reach for my gunA bunch of secular humanists are discussing how those religious people act. It's quite informative.
UPDATE: Now Brad DeLong has entered the fray. As in every one of our past interactions, he appears to be (a) misunderstanding what I'm saying and (b) responding with platitudes.
Friday, September 15, 2006
(9:38 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
AnnouncementE-mail addresses ending in "@adamkotsko.com" will no longer be functional until further notice. This is a spam-control measure on my end, although there is apparently no setting that I can use to keep spammers from using that domain to send out spam messages. (I learned they were doing this when I started getting 30 messages a day from various Mail Delivery Subsystems -- something that is nearly impossible to train a spam filter to catch, apparently.)
(1:19 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Proactively Meeting the ChallengeHere at The Weblog, we have recently seen a marked uptick in traffic, commenting, and all other indicators of a blog's value for society. This is a natural outgrowth of the core strategies that The Weblog has adhered to all along: building alliances with individual bloggers and certain key group blogs, then hoping that our consistently high-quality product will randomly be linked by such people.
For example, recently, we experienced a sustained week-long surge in traffic when Mr. Kotsko's post entitled Rhetorical Strategy was linked by Bitch PhD and then picked up by the very popular blog Making Light, setting off a blogospheric ripple effect that has resulted in that post being on the first page of a Google search for rhetorical strategy. Now a similar effect is taking place due to Belle Waring's link to Dominic's Fay Weldon post on Crooked Timber, followed closely by a recommendation of this site by Scott McLemee on the same blog.
I believe that these two incidents represent the maximum amount of traffic we can hope for from getting occasional links from larger sites. Long-term sustained growth requires a major paradigm shift. Having gotten a certain amount of attention, we need to cultivate new features for The Weblog that will capture people's imaginations and result in habitual visits and RSS subscriptions from people who are not currently enticed by this blog's offerings (which is unfortunately still heavily biased toward LiveJournal-style content from Mr. Kotsko). We cannot expect such innovation to come from Mr. Kotsko, who currently suffers from clinical depression and from being a theology grad student -- two afflictions that may somehow be related. Instead, we must take full advantage of the other authors to maximize blogholder value.
To that end, I have developed a few ideas for recurring series by current Weblog contributors. I encourage other members of our community to share their own ideas in comments:
- Brad's Self-Destructive Adventures: Brad occasionally gives us tantalizing hints of a period in his life that was full of ill-advised stunts, most famously in his occasional enigmatic references to pouring whiskey into a humidifier. Were Brad to make a regular habit of telling such stories, they could be the blogosphere's equivalent to the Charley Murphy segments on Chappelle's Show. Most analysts believe that morbid fascination is the number one key to long-term sustained growth in blog traffic.
- Dominic's Elitist Theory-Laden Thursdays: For this series, Dominic could continue to write in his clear and penetrating prose style, but include a single reference to Zizek or another "theorist" in order to fool readers into thinking that they are reading an aggressively jargonic piece of academic faux-profundity intended solely to make readers feel stupid. A logo involving an image of an extremely large penis could help to cement these readers' sense of inadequacy. If necessary, comments can be turned off for such posts.
- Infinite Pr0n!: I believe this is self-explanatory.
And everyone would know that this blog's current proprietor's motives are pure, since he has been banned from participation in Google's AdSense program due to an unfortunate incident involving an unnamed contributor famous for correcting people's grammar.
(8:04 AM) | Aryeh Rafah:
The Volatility of VolatilityThis is not good:
Citigroup's equity derivatives strategists said in a recent note that stock returns have for the last three years been more similar to index returns than at any other time in the past 10 years.It has been possible for quite some time to trade $VIX and $VXO, the two primary measures of market volatility. Why do such a thing? To hedge against any dramatic price movements, reduce broad risk, and even arbitrage out any disparity between the implied volatility in SPX options and the VIX. 'Course, you can also use them to speculate not on whether the market will make a big move up or down, but on whether or not the market will make a big move at all.
By analyzing the Standard & Poor's 100 Index, Citigroup concluded that the low volatility in the market was essentially reinforcing correlation of component stocks.
This means that relying on stock picking to outperform the market is more difficult now than in a long time. Citigroup recommends stock holders sell long-dated options with abnormally high index volatility, such as at-the-money December 2007 options on the Standard & Poor's 500 to enhance stock returns. In addition, what this correlation conundrum further illustrates is that volatility, which once existed in the options market almost solely as a mathematical concept to measure stock price movement, is showing signs of gaining widespread acceptance as its own quasi-asset class.
But treating volatility itself as an asset class will not help the average trader, not to mention the average investor. Don't get me wrong: I love calendar spreads and iron condors as much as the next guy. But since February 2006 it has been possible to trade options on the VIX - that's right, you can bet on the implied volatility of volatility itself. This only sends us further down the rabbit hole. There's nothing stopping us from creating nth level derivations based on the predicted range of an options contract during its short life, or to predict the rate at which a contract will respond to volatility in its underlying asset. Why not just trade the Greeks rather than particular equities, anyway? The best options traders I know already speak of getting long/short delta..
The primary argument in favor of financial derivatives has always been that they help people minimize risk and avoid the vicissitudes of a violently unpredictable world - the idea being that if you can pick good stocks and hedge against risk you can beat the market indexes over time. It's like there's a battle going on between the mammoth index trends and the handful of crazy, devil-may-care stocks that will fly above and below index trendlines over the course of a year. (Such wild, desireable stocks have "negative correlation" because they don't follow - and sometimes even move inversely to - market trends.) Derivatives are tools that let us tame both the brute indexes but also the riskiest and most rewarding stocks.
But, as the Citigroup note shows (and the comment about expiration pinning in the Barron's piece reinforces this point), derivatives themselves now seem to have the upper hand, such that attempts to avoid and profit from risk are now impinging on the very source of that risk - namely, equities diverging from their broader indexes. "Positive correlation" is a scary phrase because it means the end of those wilder equities - as correlation increases the opportunity to do any better than the broad market diminishes. And as volatility becomes not just an external indicator but an integrated component of market movements, even the wilder motions of indexes themselves could eventually be boxed in by cautious hedge funds and program trading.
People always worry that the market will stumble or even collapse due to some specific crisis or macroeconomic disaster - these days it's housing, Iran, energy costs, etc. But these have all been priced in already. My concern, over the long term, is that big players will become so adept at taming the extremes of market motion that entropy will take over and the market will evenly distribute itself into a kind of smooth heat death.
(12:31 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Midnight EditionI confess that I am sorry you have to suffer through two weeks in a row of my confessions, after such a nice respite of multiple confessors.
I confess that tonight I coveted my neighbor's wife (wives, more accurately). Not my neighbor's ass, however.
I confess that I'm very pleased for The Weblog to have gotten such a high degree of recommendation from Crooked Timber, both from Belle Waring and (our very own) Scott McLemee -- yesterday appears to have been the biggest traffic day in this blog's history.
I confess that although I got a grant-based job as a research assistant and although that grant is time-limited (as in, spend it or lose it), I have not been as enthusiastic about putting in hours for that job as I perhaps should be. I confess that this is partly a matter of being out of the habit of "putting in hours" and partly because my money situation is currently far from desperate. I confess to a certain short-sightedness, but I also confess that there is only so much time I can spend on the Brown Line and the 6 Bus in a given week.
I confess that my sleep schedule has fallen into total chaos and that I am posting this after midnight in recognition of that fact.
I confess that today I had a pang of conscience at objecting to a feminist critique of Plato's Republic in class, even though the feminist critique was factually incorrect. I confess that a slight over-vigilance in such matters is fine.
Now confess my dear readers -- be shriven, and know peace.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
(9:43 AM) | Brad:
A Scientific Study, Results to be Submitted to a Peer-Reviewed JournalIs bad sex worse than no sex at all?
(9:42 AM) | Adam R:
These Walls Can TalkThe Wire is making connections ("no other program has ever done anything remotely like what this one does, namely to portray the social, political, and economic life of an American city"). But sometimes I wonder if the show is compelling in a way that makes people think that something positive is happening about a crisis, when really people are just being entertained by it. Forget Cheers -- today's TV tourists can take trips through the Bawmor ghetto, which I guess means the inner city has become another layover site for The Ugly American. There was an article about these tours in Baltimore's City Paper, in which they actually discouraged people from entering the neighborhoods without guides. (It's strangely pleasing to note that this is where I live, and that yesterday four police cruisers formed a perimeter around my car and searched it -- because "the doors were unlocked." Um.)
It just seems like the situation in Baltimore is so bad that it should be a center for real scrutiny, but what we get is an HBO drama. Is our tendency for Dramatic Representation Of Problems As A Catalyst For Change ever at risk of becoming some kind of Deleuzian homogenization? So after Super Size Me hit it big, McDonald's started serving salads -- a success. And after Hotel Rwanda there is world peace. But is it likely that someday merely knowing about a problem and thinking about it in a clever way will become an end in itself? For years I plied myself with the assurance that reading Chomsky was activism enough (what else is there, marching?), but knowledge is merely comforting; power is power. Sure, HBO has a little power, too, but mostly it's bedtime entertainment. It's great that it's good, but is it good that it's real?
(8:55 AM) | Brad:
A Random Sports PostA confession: Unlike the proprietor of this fine blog, and perhaps some of you, I am a huge sports fan.
This has never been quite as true as this year. Perhaps it was the relative freedom of mind afforded me after finishing & defending my thesis, not to mention the interminably long, and ultimately fruitless, waits between sending out CVs and journal articles. Or, perhaps there was the realization, upon returning to the States two years ago, that there is really not much on tv that I like to watch. Let me amend that. There's not much on tv I want to watch when it is originally aired. I find that I can't even stand watching a thirty-minute network sitcom, or even the Daily Show, w/out first recording it on my cable-provided DVR. It's not just that this way I can skip the commercials, which is of course nice but a little banal; it is, rather, the divine power I have in creating my own personal television network, albeit with a few of K.'s shows like "The First 48" (actually not a bad show at all), "Lost" and "Prison Break" (both of which require far too much attention & devotion on my part, thus forcing me to abdicate some of my power, and thus neither of which I'm too keen on), and "The Dog Whisperer" (Cesar Milan is a fucking quack!).
But I never use the DVR for sports. Except for the cool function that allows me to rewind & slow-mo live games. Again, it's all about the power, along with my weird co-dependent need to force my wife to come downstairs and "watch this kickass play" that she cares very little about. She's good-natured enough, though, to tell me to "fuck off" with a smile.
The reason I don't record sports is because watching a non-live game is lamer than watching a debate about contemporary media culture between Howie Mandell & Ryan Seacrest (but not as lame as Jean Baudrillard writing about contemporary media culture). It doesn't matter if you don't know the result -- is there anything more annoying than having a friend who refuses to discuss a game, and even threatens your life if you dare mention the score, because he or she has yet to watch it? Nor does it matter if your sport of choice is on another continent, and thus many hours removed from you & your waking- or leisure-life -- e.g., European soccer (or, when I was in Europe, baseball, basketball, & football). Now, one might do it out of necessity, but never by choice or preference. Watching a recorded game is like watching somebody's home video of a kickass party. It might include all the hijinks, ranging from projectile vomiting to inappropriately crude jokes to exhibitionism, but what is missing is the moment. Just as projectile vomitting, inappropriately crude jokes, and exhibitionism are not particularly exciting when recounted to you after the fact, but positively delightful in person, sporting events are only meant to be watched as they happen. Otherwise, you miss the frantic phone calls to buddies just before or just after a missed fieldgoal; the even more frantic phone call to the same buddy after two free throws have put your team ahead by two but, dammit, it is all for naught because two seconds later, after the timeout, some schmuck hits a three-pointer at the buzzer. You miss the collective bellows & screams of an entire apartment complex or building. You miss the "You're wife's making you mow the lawn during the game" conversation w/ your neighbor. Etc.
In missing the game live, in my opinion, you miss the game. Because ultimately, it's not about the result. Well, okay, it's partly about the result -- esp. if your team is playing. But regardless of the result, it is about the moment, which is always in excess of the final result. We're all existentialists at the bottom of the 9th, two runners on, down by two, and a 3-2 count on David Ortiz. One needn't be a fan of the Red Sox or the Yankees, either -- one simply must be a part of the moment, as it happens. All that is necessary for that is to be a sports fan.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
(7:31 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Adventures in Bizarre QuotationIn Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), Reinhold Niebuhr quotes a Southern politician protesting against suffrage tests for black voters "on the ground that they would discriminate in favor of the educated Negro against the servile, old-time Negro":
Now, sir, the old-time Negro is assassinated by this suffrage plan. This new issue, your reader, your writer, your loafer, your voter, your ginger-cake school graduate, with a diploma of side-whiskers and beaver-hat, pocket pistols, brass knucks [sic] and bicycle, he, sir, is the distinguished citizen whom our statesmen would crown at once with the highest dignities of an ancient and respectable commonwealth.This is second only to the Jew's liver quote for the title of "most bizarre quotation discovered while studying for the 20th Century theology exam."
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
(12:35 AM) | Ben Wolfson:
Tuesday Hatred: The church is near, but the road is icyI hate my teeth. Specifically, I hate the two of them that have been bugging me since the beginning of summer, preventing me from being able to chew with the entire right side of my mouth, one of them persisting in this condition despite having been filled three times (3x) now (actually it only began manifesting after the first filling, so—I hate my dentist, too). I hate the stage of getting a filling when the dentist is creating the food-facing portion of the tooth and has one bite down on the colored thing and continually asks "how it feels", as if I, gums full of anaesthetic, have any idea. This is especially annoying since it is always the case that it feels fine at first, and then, about an hour after I've left, I think, no! it is not fine! the tooth is altogether too long!—the worst part is knowing that it could be this undesirable length, this length in the tooth, that is really causing the pain. So in other words: I hate my own weakness, and myself.
I hate a variety of things having to do with the number of classes I am allowed to take in a quarter, the number it is feasible to take in a quarter, the number I am required to take in a quarter (and which), and the number in the upcoming quarter I actually want to take, and not just want to take but think would actually benefit me. You can probably imagine the general idea of these hatings yourself; I see no need to give them explicitly. I hate something extracurricular too, but it must remain s3kr1t.
I hate that I'm still writing an essay that will probably turn out to be not very good for a class that ended in June.
I hate that I can't remember where to find the Tuesday Love.
Monday, September 11, 2006
(12:57 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
F. Winston Reviews: Season Premier of Fox Sunday NightMr. Kotsko has graciously re-hired me as The Weblog's Freelance Review Columnist. Although he was typically passive-aggressive about this tense comment fight, he recognized the quality of my previous reviews and the gaping hole in The Weblog's lineup once my function was eliminated.
My task today is a grim one: to review the season premier of Fox Sunday night. Simply put, it was mediocre nearly to the point of unwatchability. The Simpsons premier, over-hyped throughout the summer, was little more than an exercise of filling in the gaps of the background of one of the many characters in the show's bloated cast. Viewers were subjected to a dull opening sequence starring Otto the bus driver, who had been justly neglected for the past several seasons. Formulaically enough, this sequence only served to lead into the main plotline of the episode, a power struggle in Springfield's mob family -- including the unexplained introduction of Fat Tony's son, named (surprise!) Michael. Godfather references were frequent and stale, with the only redeeming factor being a sequence in which Bart and Homer brandish various weapons. One can only hope that next episode, they give the Sea Captain a son and go with a pirate theme -- then they can finally close up shop, having exhausted every possible plotline.
It goes without saying that American Dad was awful -- the show has been little more than a lobotomized version of Family Guy from the very beginning. The main plotline of attempting to turn an African refugee camp into a summer camp was predictably "offensive." The only worthwhile story arc was that involving Roger the alien and Francine posing as an academic couple -- predictably, the Family Guy crew are at their best writing for a dandyish, socially isolated character with an oddly-shaped head.
Family Guy is the only show in the lineup that still shows promise, although the cut sequences this episode were not as good as those in the past -- of course, who expects them to top the argument between a caveman and his wife? Stewie was out of character, having decided to become overly dependent on Lois rather than attempting to kill her, and the episode suffered for it. Yet the conceit of a prostate exam as sexual assault was something that every male viewer could empathize with, allowing Peter to reassert himself as the primary character after being consistently upstaged by Stewie for several seasons. And of course, Rick Santorum isn't the only one who hopes that Brian the Dog will one day be able to make sweet love to Lois, after missing his chance while Peter was lost at sea a couple years ago.
Obviously I turned off The War at Home as quickly as I could -- unfortunately, I was still subjected to the first few syllables of the main character's aggressively unfunny opening monologue. One wonders why they don't just give up and use this final slot for reruns of Life on a Stick.
In short, viewers are best off checking Fox's schedule to see when Family Guy will be on, and perhaps waiting a couple months for the new Simpsons episodes to be put into syndication.
(9:03 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Five Years After 9/11: ReflectionsI can't believe it didn't occur to me to copyright the phrase "Ground Zero" -- I could be rich!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
(4:05 PM) | Scott McLemee:
Every time she put on the radio there was nothing happening at allNot long ago, I finally got to see Edgeplay, a documentary about The Runaways -- a band about which I knew almost exactly nothing, despite really liking their self-titled first album from 1976. Even even that, I knew about only because one song, "Cherry Bomb," is on the soundtrack to Dazed and Confused.
With its entirely believable accusations by bandmembers of exploitation and almost constant psychological abuse by their manager, Edgeplay is a pretty depressing film. And nothing the manager says on his own behalf makes the charges even slightly less credible. If anything, the women seem to have pushed a lot of it out of their minds.
Unfortunately -- for copyright-control reasons that are never spelled out during the movie itself -- the soundtrack contains no original Runaways songs. At most, you get to hear the play a couple of covers, shown performed in concert. I doubt anybody who sees Edgeplay without already knowing their music would get a very good sense of them. The sound was sort of a cross between the New York Dolls and the Ramones, performed by teenage girls who looked like they belonged to a gang that would beat the hell out of you and take all of your lunch money.
They didn't have much radio presence in the U.S., that I recall, but were huge in Japan. Check out the concert footage, circa 1977, of them performing "Cherry Bomb" and covering the Velvet Underground song "Rock and Roll." This sort of thing gets yanked from YouTube at the first lawyerly peep, so who knows if the links will stay good.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
(8:22 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
Who is the sexiest intellectual of the 20th Century?...and (of course!) I mean sexiest in the strict Kantian sense of physically attractive and not the watered down wishy-washy sense of "highly appealing and interesting" when applied to their academic work.
Your answers in the comments please.
(5:00 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A common misconceptionLiberals frequently express a desire to "restore" the place of reasoned persuasion in American political discourse. The result will presumably be better policies, etc.
I believe that liberals who talk like this are in error on two points, first in believing that there was some past time when reasoned persuasion ruled the day, and more fundamentally in believing that reasoned persuasion has anything to do with politics in a system of government like that of the US. In actual reality, "political debate," such as it is, exists to mobilize voting blocs who will rally behind a particular faction of the ruling elites.
If political parties did not use propaganda techniques and instead carried on a very high-level intellectual debate, no one would show up to vote, or else only college-educated office workers with lots of time to browse the Internet would show up to vote. That wouldn't necessarily be better than the present situation -- for instance, look at how many prestigious liberal bloggers came up with very nuanced ways of supporting the obviously insane and criminal Iraq War.
The Democratic Party used to be filled to the brim with utterly corrupt powermongers making back-room deals. We need to get back to that.
Friday, September 08, 2006
(8:07 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: A Professional of PenuryI confess that yesterday I was pleasantly surprised when I checked my bank balance online and found that the payment for one week of market research had arrived, a few days early even. I confess that before receiving this payment, my bank balance had been $31.53, for about two weeks (note that I have it memorized -- a product of checking daily for said payment).
I confess that I'm a little disturbed at having acquired such an ability to remain calm in such situations, but given my present lifestyle, the options were either to learn how to be calm, or else to kill myself. Or I guess I could drop down to part time on the PhD, but that was somehow never a live option.
I confess that I'm not very excited about this school year, specifically the coursework side of it. All my courses seem like they'll be very good, but my experience of intensive reading this summer has made me feel ready to do more work independently. I also confess that I'm feeling somewhat disoriented by the transition from my hermit lifestyle to being out and about several days in a row.
I confess that the admissions office gave me false hope when they mentioned that the average age for CTS's incoming class is 25 this year -- they failed to mention that apparently every single one of those young women is married. I confess that it wasn't until I had graduated from college that I definitely learned where a wedding ring is normally worn, in the hopes of possibly meeting someone at work back in Bourbonnais (hopefully it wouldn't have been unethical for the data entry guy to date a patient). I also learned that in Bourbonnais, the lack of a wedding ring on a woman my age indicates that said woman is merely engaged.
I confess that I was on public transit around 3:30 today and that I'm going to try to avoid that from now on, because high school students are pretty obnoxious.
I confess that the other day, I walked by a house in Hyde Park and thought to myself, "That guy has such nice grass -- why can't he at least put some straight lines on it when he mows?" Old mower instincts die hard. But seriously -- he had used the old "go around and around until you hit the middle" method, like a ten-year-old uses.
I confess that I'm in love with Feist and listen to her album probably twice a day at least.
I confess that not all the slots for regular features have been filled.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
(10:14 PM) | Dominic:
Fay Weldon: AntichristNot the least stupid of Fay Weldon's recent stupidities is her advice for married couples in the grip of primitive "Darwinian" urges that propel them ineluctibly into the embraces of other sexual partners: give in, but just the once, and then knock it off before any more serious consequences have a chance to ensue.
It should be acknowledged that this is not without its merits as practical advice; the stupidity is ethical rather than pragmatic, or rather it lies in Weldon's conviction that this manner of compromise constitutes an authentic response to a "moral issue", the proper employment of a humane and worldly moral intelligence (e.g. hers...), rather than the sneaking evasion of responsibility it so obviously is.
The model of libidinal economy endorsed by Weldon is essentially that of middle-class parenting: let your children have the smallest possible amount of what they clamour for - sweets, television, computer games - and make their access even to that conditional on an unremitting parade of good manners and the assiduous consumption of vegetables. In such a manner is exorbitant desire acknowledged through gritted teeth - when it is not being exploited to secure obedience. All of this is fair enough in extremis, which is where most parenting of small children is done, but it is nauseating to encounter an adult person still willingly enthralled by such a ruthlessly petty system of restraint and reward. If adolescence has any purpose at all, it is to shatter those bonds.
One should take note of the inherent contradiction in Weldon's prescription: if you cannot help doing it, then you should do it. This is in line with her advice for victims of sexual assault: if all else fails, lie back and accept - perhaps even enjoy - the inevitable. In ordinary usage, "should" implies "can not": a moral prescription is always implicitly addressed to someone who could do otherwise, and would perhaps tend to do otherwise in the absence of such guidance. Yet to be the passive victim of "Darwinian" primitive urges - be they one's own or someone else's - is to be subject to a force outside the domain of the social, a purely contingent - and morally intractable - natural impetus. What Weldon's prescription unwittingly reveals, however, is that the inevitable is made to appear as such precisely in the gesture of resignation with which the "social animal" recognises and accommodates it. The victim of a horrifying assault who proclaims that she would "rather have died" raises a counterfactual retort to this accommodation: that she would prefer not to live as someone to whom this had been done. Her very survival falsifies the purported inevitability of what has happened: it testifies that the perpetrator could in fact have done otherwise and that it is unacceptable - under any circumstances - that he did not. Weldon's literal-minded response - "in that case, girl, well, die" - simply affirms the causal necessity of the criminal act, and ratifies the reasoning of the perpetrator.
What is the alternative to doing what you cannot help but do? It is not to escape causation, but to be caused to do otherwise: to resolve the causal overdetermination of one's acts in a different direction. As Zizek argues, it is only through such resolution that a causal chain can appear at all: the differential field of contending putative causes only assumes the structure of a chain through the operation of "freedom", which in each instance is the freedom to assume responsibility for one's own causes. Weldon's moral universe of primal urges (Sin) on the one hand contending with ethical prescriptions (the Law) on the other misses entirely this dimension of reflexivity (it is in fact the most un-Christian moral universe imaginable, a universe in which no incarnation - the subjective splitting in which the différance Man/God is inscribed within Man himself - can ever have taken place).
In any case, the question of ineluctible causation is surely moot: adultery is no more "Darwinian" (in the sense of "primitively instinctual") than marriage itself: as a genre of erotic misadventure, it is entirely parasitic on the institution it mocks. The deceived spouse is doubly sexually exploited: firstly in continuing to fulfil unawares the duties of a contractually violated union, and secondly in providing the libidinal support for the other person's private erotic theatre of abjection. It is not the irrepressible upsurge of raw animal lust that capsizes marriages; it is the expensively-maintained solipsism of the poor, unique, misunderstood soul, who in reality is nowhere more transparently and readily "understandable" than in the ridiculous contortions of sexual deceit. Adultery is the flight from the traumatic singularity of sexual passion into the reassuring embrace of cliche. It is - to paraphrase Auden - the one thing every married man can do.
Weldon would like to offer a one-time pardon - a get-out-of-divorce-free card - to all first-time adulterers, on condition that they promptly curtail their exploits and keep quiet about them thereafter. At the level of pure economic calculation, it is undoubtedly true that few things - certainly few adulteries - are worth going through a divorce for. What is ethically noisome, however, about Weldon's calculation is that it is made on behalf of the erring party, in such a way that it pre-empts the necessary appeal to the other person's charity. The adulterer's logic is then: "Because it is the sensible thing for you to do to forgive me, I will permit myself to deceive you - and will uphold the deception indefinitely, so that you need never suffer the distress of having to decide for yourself whether the deception is forgivable". One does not presume in this way upon forgiveness.
We should consider a counter-argument here, which is that it is only in the moment of disclosure by the unfaithful party that the harm - the humiliation and violent breaking of trust - of adultery is actualised: isn't it better to keep mum, to refrain from symbolisation, since it is this alone that involves the deceived partner in the deceit, both immediately and retroactively? (The humiliation of discovering that one has been deceived is at least in part the humiliation of having always known that this might be so, of having deceived oneself. This is the point - to borrow Zizek's analogy - at which the cartoon character looks down and discovers that he is racing in mid-air; and then gravity takes hold...). Weldon is arguing, after all, for the stoical acceptance of private guilt, rather than the corrosive indulgence of public confession. Is it better to spit or to swallow?
"Guilt" here is repressed symbolisation, the onus of having something to tell that cannot be told; the heaviness of guilt is that of a psychic object that can neither be digested nor expelled. Guilt is thus "useless" by definition: it cannot be put to work, since the moment it is symbolized and put into circulation it begins to dissipate. Weldon's argument is that adulterers dissolve existing marriages and begin new ones, in an idiotic series of emotional blunders, because they feel they have to assuage their guilt: divorce and remarriage are guilt's work, the work in which guilt is produced and consumed. Is it not better to hang on to one's guilt, that useless moral obstruction, than to let it be transmuted into compulsively repeated acts of contractual engagement and violation?
It's a false choice, of course: only someone for whom marriage in its contractual aspect was the symbolic anchor of the world would move so quickly from adultery to divorce, and from "think[ing] and feel[ing] about the authenticity of his being" to remarriage. Weldon's imperative of non-symbolisation, of being willing to "put up with the guilt of having erred and shut up", is the counterpart of a compulsion to symbolise, to turn every affair into the beginning and end of a marriage. Again, what is striking about the moral universe Weldon constructs is its complete tone-deafness to the message of the Christianity to which she claims to have converted: it is a universe without charity, a universe of Law in which the singularity of others' pain and desire need never intervene. What Weldon has to offer is devices for the practical management of sin; but she presupposes not only a fallen human nature, but one which can never have been redeemed.
(1:37 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Further Thoughts on SpamAs you know, this isn't a particularly comment-heavy site. I do think we have decent comment sections, but this isn't Unfogged by any stretch of the imagination. Still, being a blogger and having the attendant neuroses, I still start to feel like a worthless person if people aren't leaving comments pretty consistently throughout the day.
Lately, that hasn't been as much of a problem, because I'm getting more and more spam comments every hour. It's gotten to the point where I am marking twenty or thirty comments as spam every morning, and when I refresh after finishing, another one or two spam comments have appeared. In fact, some days I think to myself, "Man, I suck -- no one but spammers are visiting my site."
Then I thought, "Wait -- spammers are visiting my site. Perhaps this is pushing up my SiteMeter stats." If spambots really do count as visitors, that would be artificially inflating my visit counts -- which I don't mind, because I just like to see bigger numbers when I check the thing. (Getting a link from Bitch PhD, then from a few other sites based on Bitch's recommendation, has doubled traffic in the last week, and that makes me happy.)
I also thought that maybe that would result in a higher Ecosystem rating, but then it occurred to me that bigger sites would of course have more spam, and perhaps even exponentially more spam -- meaning that the rich would get even richer, on the backs of the spambots.
In any case, this is all basically academic. I can't make money off the site aside from begging for donations, because Ben Wolfson got me kicked off of Google Adsense. Growing the actual audience of the site seems like more trouble than it's worth -- I'm happy with the regulars right now. We've had a pretty steady group hanging around here for the last year or more, and that's a more meaningful accomplishment than achieving some kind of generic mass appeal.
Still, I wouldn't mind having a thousand-visit day. (Last week we hit over 900 when Bitch's post was still relatively fresh and the blog "Making Light," which is apparently very popular, also linked to the same post.)
This has been a shit and garbage post.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
(4:26 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
"Barack Obama got rid of ugly overages"I just received a letter from Barack Obama, who apparently thinks of me as a "friend." He says something that confuses me:
George Bush uses bold rhetoric and makes big promises when he's in front of the television lights. But time and again, when real leadership is needed, his actions haven't matched his rhetoric and he has failed to live up to his promises.Wait, what? We want to force Bush to follow through on his policy proposals? I'm pretty sure I can't be counted upon to help with that. This seems like a classic example of the consequences of The Incompetence Critique -- Democrats don't have their own positive ideas, but promise to carry out, in a competent and nuanced way, the ideas the Republicans came up with. It's a brilliant way of turning politics into the equivalent of choosing between cell phone plans.
And now we have just 71 days left before Election Day when Americans will decide if they want a Democratic Senate to make George Bush live up to his promises.
Can I count on you to help?
And this is the rising star of the Democratic Party, apparently. This is the kind of incoherent nonsense we get in the big fundraising letter from our next big hope.
[NOTE: Edited for clarity.]
(2:12 PM) | John Emerson:
The Al and the Re-alDualism is a one of the fundamental truths of ontology: all reality can be described in terms of opposed pairs of abstract substantives distinguished by the prefix "re-". Well-known examples include production and reproduction, presentation and representation, and cognition and recognition (better expressed in French as connaissance and reconnaissance).
These two ontological realms have been described as primary and secondary, but this is both contradictory and redundant. "Primary" only has meaning if there is a "secondary", and amounts to defining the primary in terms of the secondary, which is the not the intended effect. But in any case, this terminology is unnecessary, since the real primary term is occulted in the term "realm" itself: the repressed and forgotten primary term, the *alm, which has the same fundamental grounding relation to the "realm" as the also-long-forgotten *ality has to "reality". No previous philosophy has properly taken account of the Alm/Re-alm or the Al/Re-al difference.
Below are suggested titles for a few books in this area -- books which should virtually write themselves. (My supposed "coinages" are the crucial repressed and forgotten words obscured by three thousand years is mispercieved Re-alism.)
Pétition et Répétition (from répéter and péter).
Sistance et Résistance
Pondre et Repondre
Pudiation et Répudiation (from pudique, *puder)
Putation et Réputation (from *puter; cf. "computer")
Pérage et Repérage (from père)
Reprehension and Prehension (for Whiteheadians)
Once the fundamental principle has been made clear, the rest of the paradigm can easily be filled out, and an ontological explosion can be expected. This is a great opportunity for the up-and-coming young thinker or thinkeress.
"Le Real" de pire empir-ique
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
(5:43 AM) | Richard McElroy:
Tuesday Hate - Labor DayI hate muddy dogs. The fact that they are so happy to be inside doesn't help either. I hate having to be up this early, getting ready to go to work again after having had an extra day off. I hate that others have the same extra days off that I do -- I want my garbage to be picked up like it usually is, and I want there to be mail in the mailbox. I hate the crusts in my eyes, and the way I yawn after every sentence I type. I hate the long stretch in holidays between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. I feel like I deserve extra time off at least once every month or so. I hate this morning, and every morning after it until the weekend. I will continue to hate these mornings as long as they continue to be mornings that I must get up and go to work, and if I didn't have a job to get up and go to I would probably hate that as well.
Feel free to hate this post, this day, or whatever you like today. You can also love at some point in time, but not right now because I would hate to write two posts back to back.
Monday, September 04, 2006
(10:19 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Staring Into The Abyss.Tomorrow we leave. The plane ticket says 19:00, but I know we'll leave an hour late. After nearly a year and a half we will be leaving tomorrow. A year of that was spent preparing and we're still not ready. We could use a bit more money and as always I'd like a bit of a guarantee that some funding was coming down the line. There have been so many bureaucratic hoops we've jumped through and so many more to go. I stare at the city map and it doesn't make much sense. It doesn't appear to have the order that the city I already miss, Chicago, has. And the trip planner I consulted doesn't make any sense to me. The whole thing seems a bit insane and it really is a wager more than an investment. But good things can come from wagers and we'd be well to remember that it is actually a relief to know that the abyss stares back into you. Perhaps it even will grant a bit of luck to the dicethrow.
If you are religious please pray or whatever for my flight and life. If you're not I'd appreciate something a bit more tangible, perhaps money, and would really like for someone to make sure the plane has been inspected before take off. The final problem I'll tackle tomorrow is that I don't get free alcohol on this flight.
(4:47 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Review of Parallax ViewJCRT has a new issue out -- but not yet the even newer issue that will contain my second, "academic" review of The Parallax View. (Here is my first, "popular" review.) In the meantime, you can read an academically oriented review by someone named Fredric Jameson, who is apparently a professor at Duke.
(8:27 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Walking away from my problemsI mentioned the other day that my course list for the coming semester was settled on after some shuffling. Specifically, the Marx mini-seminar has been in the works since the end of last school year, and I joined at the last minute. On joining (on Friday), I learned that the reading assignment for the first class was the first part of the Marx-Engels Reader, amounting to 200 pages. Taken in isolation, that's not a ton to get done over the course of four days, but I also had some reading for 20th Century I wanted to finish, which took me up to early Sunday afternoon.
I read through the introduction to the reader, then put down the book, as though I physically could not read any more. After mindlessly looking at the Internet for a few minutes, I decided to go for a walk. I planned out my route -- walk down Lincoln Ave. from Lawrence to Irving Park, then turn around and come back. It would be a round trip of little over two miles, I would've gotten some decent exercise for the day, and I would come back ready to read. Lincoln Ave. is a pretty remarkable stretch, full of shops and restaurants, just one block after another, for miles and miles -- so when I got to Irving Park, I thought, "Oh, no big deal, I can go a couple more blocks."
Before long, I had reached the northside Powell's (at Diversey), which is approximately three miles from my starting point. I probably would've gone further, to the very end of Lincoln, but Powell's gave me an endpoint other than arbitrarily turning around and going back. When I entered the store, I thought, "Okay, I'll look around, then walk a couple blocks over to the Brown Line and take that home." I found a book for one of my classes, bought it, and then started walking back. I stopped at a burrito place about halfway home, and when I left the restaurant, there was a bus that goes along Lincoln right there, waiting at a light -- I scorned it.
Then, about four blocks from home, I saw an acquaintance -- a friend of Marta, an occasional commenter and poster here -- who I tend to run into in weird locations. She was out for a walk, too, so we walked and talked for a while. When we got near my house, I invited her to come up for a beer or a glass of water, and she decided to just keep walking. I got the impression she might've been creeped out, but my intentions were not only "completely innocent," but potentially even insulting to her: I was literally only inviting her to hang out for a few minutes so that I could delay reading Marx. It was just a continuation of my entire odyssey yesterday, which had been predicated on avoiding Marx -- first getting physically far away from the book, then taking as long as possible to get back to it.
I'd say that's a pretty extreme reaction to being burned out on reading. Anyway, I read about 70 pages of Marx last night after I got back, and I can finish it this afternoon, as long as I don't randomly decide to walk to the lake and go swimming or something.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
(10:50 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Announcement: Free Lecture Series at North Park UniversityMy CTS colleague Jen Pope has organized a great lecture series at North Park, featuring Miroslav Volf, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Gustavo Gutierrez -- apparently more will follow next semester. It's conveniently located near the Kimball Brown Line station; full directions are here.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
(8:59 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Calm Before the StormClasses start Tuesday. After some shuffling, this is what I'm taking:
- Philosophical Thought (PhD required course)
- Medieval Theology (directed reading)
- Marxist Political Economy (a kind of mini-seminar -- several of us are doing the same directed reading, and we're only meeting once a month)
- Butler and Foucault in Religious Studies
- Theories of Community (directed reading to go with one of my exam areas)
- Some course at DePaul, depending on what's being offered
- I am also thinking about sitting in on another class with Marion, this one over Augustine and modern philosophy (Descartes through Heidegger)
I don't know if I mentioned this, but in the Systematic Theology course for which I am the TA in the spring, the professor is having the students essentially just go through Calvin's Institutes. So I am basically going to be paid in part to read Calvin -- which is really the only way to do it. I'm working on a running joke to go along with this, and I'd like some feedback: "Of course, if I were doing the class, I would've chosen Melanchthon's Loci Communes."