Tuesday, October 31, 2006
(1:05 AM) | Ben Wolfson:
Tuesday Hatred: Betraying Kotsko.I hate having to go behind Kotsko's back in order to get my hatred out in a timely manner, but good christ I hate Linux right now. It treats me so bad, but I keep going back to it.
Monday, October 30, 2006
(8:05 AM) | Scott McLemee:
Tour of DutyOn Friday, I managed to meet my (first) L.A. Times deadline and reach the station to print out my pre-purchased, nonrefundable ticket for the 1:05 train to New York. With, even, a whole ten minutes to spare. I'd spent six hours writing about a biography of William James. That left until late afternoon to go over my comments on a paper by Ron Aronson, since the two of us were the speakers at a session of the North American Sartre Society conference early that evening.
Fortunately there was no Amtrak drama, and I even had time to drop luggage off at the apartment we sometimes borrow while in NYC. It was about ten blocks from where the conference was held, at the Fordham branch campus (if that's how to put it) close to Lincoln Center.
I'd drafted most of my talk a week earlier, so all things considered the stress level was about as low as could be expected. But there was certainly some pressure at seeing the turnout of fifty people, give or take. t didn't look as if there were more than a few empty seats. Not surprising, given that Aronson is one of the top Sartre scholars in the country.
His talk was called "Sartre After Marxism." Besides covering the highlights of JPS's protracted engagement with the left, it included a consideration of how the final "Hope Now" interviews (published just before his death in 1980) might provide an ethical vision suitable for left-wing politics today. I've learned an enormous amount from Aronson's work over the years, and said as much. But my response was pretty skeptical -- not so much of Aronson's presentation itself, as to a kind of Sartrean orthodoxy that surrounds the question of his relationship to Marxism. (Hence some caution in thinking about his post-Marxism seems warranted.)
Some of it was just a matter of challenging the standard narrative of his thought as undergoing a deep engagement with Marxist theory in the 1950s and '60. He ignored -- or denounced -- critical currents within Marxism theory that challenged the Stalinist system and its orthodoxies. That is not a small thing. By 1975, Sartre no longer thought Marxism had a future. Well, okay. But now that there is an actually existing graveyard for "actually existing socialism" (so-called), does that make the final interviews with Benny Levy (a Maoist militant turned rabbi, no relation to BHL) some kind of dialectical supercession of the limits of Sartre's existentialist Marxism?
Some of the Sartreans are very keen on the Hope Nowphase, in which Sartre speaks of a messianic dimension of a humanist ethics that can't be realized in history (unlike Marxist messianism, which had the blueprints right in hand, at least in principle). Whatever its other problems, this perspective ignores that there were ways of analyzing, criticizing, and acting against Stalinism that actually came from within Leninism itself. So, not so fast, there, Jean-Paul.
The more one looks at this final phase of Sartre's work, the less clear it seems just what would distinguish his "messianic" humanism from garden-variety liberal humanism. So I asked. And not entirely as a rhetorical question, by any means. Is his humanism really different from, say, Martha Nussbaum's "capabilities approach"? If so, how? If not, why not?
I am also no end of puzzled by how Sartre went from being the go-to guy for mediation in Search for a Method to endorsing this particular kind of history-escaping messianic notion of ethics. It can't (or at least shouldn't) be reduced entirely to Levy's influence. Sartre uses theological language elsewhere, a point that hasn't really been pursued in anything I've seen. (The stuff in Being and Nothingness about how the goal of the for-itself-in-itself is to be God, for example.) I suggested that, in this case, it might be an effect of an implicit dialogue with the New Philosophy -- in particular, Lardreau and Jambet's concept (or metaphor, or whatever the hell it was) of "the Angel." Not too farfetched. After all, L&J had been members of Gauche Prolétarienne, the Maoist group that Benny Levy had led. And there is a sort of family resemblence between their "angelic" radicalism and Sartre's "messianic" ethics.
Anyway, that's what I threw out for discussion. But it was late in the day. While the response was mostly good, the Q&A part wrapped up in about ten minutes so that people could go out for dinner. I was too beat and had to crash. The next morning, I spent some time at the awesome Labyrinth Books near Columbia before heading back downtown for more of the conference. (Everything I brought to read was geared to fine-tuning my rant on Friday night. It was pretty obvious I'd be all Sartred out by the trip home on Sunday morning, as was the case.)
Got to meet Farhang Erfani, who runs the ContinentalPhilosophy.org. A very personable guy, and the site makes a real contribution. He assumed I live in New York and suggested coming down to Washington, DC for a visit, one of these days. Well, actually, it won't be necessary to wait that long. It turns out we live within about three Metro stops from one another. Farhang needs tips about conferences, digital texts, videos, etc. he can link to at the site. So, let him know.
Thus ends my first piece of Live Journal-ism, so to speak. Time now to settle down to reading the new novel by Thomas Pynchon. It's about 1100 pages long. Although the page proofs arrived in early October, I have so far read exactly three paragraphs.
There was an item up at the National Book Critics Circle website a few weeks ago about how the publisher was sending out proofs to reviewers with the name and publication written in large letters on the title page. (That way we wouldn't go out and sell them to rare book dealers, or something.) And in fact that was no rumor.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
(1:45 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
Where there is race, see classK-Punk's comments on Borat got me thinking about the now much-viewed YouTube clip of the "Throw the Jew down the well" scene again. A recent Guardian article came up with the following hand-wringing riff:
People will not always challenge racist, antisemitic, homophobic and sexist
statements made by a buffoon. More, they will agree vehemently, and join in
with comments of their own. Borat is shocking because we cannot help but
imagine ourselves in the place of his hapless victims and because we
understand - though not, perhaps, consciously - that we might have acted
precisely as they did. We too might have remained silent when Borat
suggested"hanging" homosexuals, or nodded politedly at the suggestion
that a Humvee is suitable for "running over Gypsies". Not because we
fear for our lives if we disagree but, perhaps, to avoid embarrassment.
Borat is funny because he is shocking, and he
is shocking because he reveals the truth.
The other thing people are saying is that the little spots on the Ali G show which focussed on British targets were no where near as funny as the American stuff as the Brits were aware of Baron-Cohen's "self-reflexivity" (something which the Kazakhstan government seem to have accepted too now). The target in the scene here is rural working-class Americans. Borat seems to be growing in popularity among the middle-class in Britain too from what I can see. In the sense that grown up kids introduce it to parents who find it repulsive at first and then when they see the funny Americans and are explained the "self-reflexivity" become assured they can like it and laugh. This sounds an awful lot like the kind of embarrassment described in the above article.
(10:53 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Internet and ChristologyIn the later stages of the Christological controversies (briefly outlined here), the question arose of whether Christ had a genuine human will and human energeiai, that is, human operations or actions. The motivations of those who said that he did not were to stave off the possibility that Christ's human will would rebel against the divine will. For what came to be the orthodox party, however, it was more important to affirm that Christ was everything it means to be human, and this obviously includes willing and acting humanly. John of Damascus speaks for this position when he asserts that a human nature cannot be thought apart from real human actions -- not only would an inactive human nature fail to be human, but it would fail to be.
The obvious question, then -- what is our ontological status when we're browsing the Internet?
Saturday, October 28, 2006
(6:38 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Best misspellings"Defiantly" for "definitely"
"Inciteful" for "insightful"
Add your favorites!
(3:15 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
Math is hardFirst of all, I'd like to apologize for not posting here more often. Many of you obviously got your hopes up when you saw that I had returned, but I have not been "pulling my weight" sufficiently, and so this cesspool of anti-Quinean filth remains just as dull as ever. My excuse is simple, yet tragic: both of my legs were broken in a freak croquet accident. Scientists are reconstructing the exact sequence of events as we speak, but in the meantime, I've been effectively paralyzed below the crotch (NB, ladies: still open for business, don't worry).
After three days of this, I finally broke down and read the Valve. This was of course only after reading the complete archives of Unfogged -- that is, the archives ever since I stopped posting there under my other pseudonym of "Unf" -- complete with comments, and after reaching what I believe to be the practical number of times I can masturbate in one day without serious ramifications.
I was delighted to find that this self-described "literary organ" -- apparently some kind of psychoanalytically-inflected reference to the male genitalia -- was discussing math, or as the British call it, "maths." Young Adam Roberts, English professor and science fiction writer extraordinaire, promised us a paradigm-shattering post -- at long last, the pretension of the so-called "circle" would be shown up for the farce that it is! A figure made up of all points a distance r from a center point -- it doesn't even pass the smell test! Finally, something useful -- and on a blog, no less!
Predictably enough, this scurrilious mountebank did not possess the mathematical "chops" necessary to pull off this task -- or, more accurately, to recognized that some other person known only as "John Sladek" had failed to do so. Simply put, he seems to think that there is a number called "infinity." Presumably this would be the biggest number of all the numbers. Very big indeed. (NB: Ladies, remember what we were discussing earlier? Yeah, like that.)
Yet in actual fact, there is no such number, i.e., one called "infinity." Nor is a circle a "polygon of infinite sides" -- it would be more accurate to say that for an n-gon, the limit as n approaches infinity (or, to avoid confusing Dr. Roberts, as n increases without bound) is a circle. Dr. Roberts is, as they say in German, guilty of Dummheit. Yet he defends himself! He continues to peddle his lies about the number called infinity and the infinity-sided polygon (or INFINIGON!!!).
This is not something that can be settled by dispute and argument. The proof that Adam Roberts advances is false on a priori grounds. As such, I hereby declare that Adam Roberts is, a priori, a fucking idiot.
Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to a calm and respectful discussion of this matter in comments.
Friday, October 27, 2006
(10:34 AM) | Brad:
Scariest. Video. Ever.I don't know whether to categorize this as NSFW or not. Regardless, it is the freakiest thing I've seen in a while.
(4:22 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
The United KingdomParking, shopping centres, CCTV, corner shops, furniture, football, St. George flags, cereal, annuals, the 10p Chump bar, pub quizes...
(12:25 AM) | Scott McLemee:
Friday Morning Confessional: "Seat With No Heat" EditionI confess to having fallen behind on so many things that it must look as if I am procrastinating on writing some of them. I'm not, as a matter of fact, but it's still humiliating. I confess that writing this confession makes me feel guilty, when there is real work to do. I confess that I actually have been procrastinating about going to the post office to mail some packages. This is not an effect of weariness of being, in some respects, a lazy mofo.
I confess that, while watching The Daily Show, there is part of me that always wonders if I will ever land in the Seat of Heat.
I confess that research for my current project has had the unexpected effect of making me the world's leading authority on Maynard Shipley, a self-educated shoe salesman who became an editor and lecturer for the Socialist Party one hundred years ago, travelling around the country delivering speeches on evolution with titles like "From Electrons to Man." So chances are that no invitation to plug my book on The Daily Show will come to pass. I confess that this realization depresses me.
I confess that there is not much competition for world-authority status regarding Maynard Shipley.
I confess that I am too close to my subject. Recently I looked at the papers of his widow, and saw how much in love they were, and also how hard the remaining four decades of her life proved. A serious historian could probably maintain professional disinterest while reading the documents. I confess that I nearly wept on them.
I confess that I am fascinated by the implied psychology of spam. Evidently there are people who, upon reading the subject line, "Significant message You must require to read" then think, "Man, I better open this one right away!"
Admittedly that's not so intriguing, because stupidity, as such, is not mysterious. But much of the rest of it is really puzzling. Okay, yes, granted that deep personal insecurity drives half of all discretionary expenditures. But are there really guys out there who get an email message headed "Your wife prefers your dogs peannis" and find themselves compelled to purchase herbal Viagra?
I confess that the rise of English as a world language doesn't bother me as much as it does some people. But it does not thrill me, either, under the circumstances.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
(9:21 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Attribution TheoryI am currently reading an essay by Ken Surin in which he cites the idea that we find it much easier to envision the catastrophic end of life on earth than the end of capitalism. Surin attributes this idea to Frederic Jameson, whereas I have always associated it with Žižek. I wouldn’t put it past Žižek to steal this saying, but at the same time, it seems like he would want to give attribution due to the obvious jouissance he derives from dropping names.
Does anyone have any insights into the actual origin of the idea in question?
(2:03 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Asking for Money.Not theoretically, but actually. I'm trying to make it down to London in November to see Isabelle Stengers give a talk on Whitehead and Deleuze. I don't really have the money for this, but if a few people would give a few bucks each I could easily make it down there with a packed lunch. This would really be pertinent to my research right now, but if everyone is as broke as I am then I'll understand if I get no donations. I'm talking $50 tops. You can donate through the paypal button, just enter my email address.
Update: Per Mr. Kotsko's suggestion, I will post some notes, pictures, and a response from the event.
Update 2: We received a very generous donation and now if two or three people would each give five dollars we'll be on our way.
(12:14 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Distance has no wayIn Reconstruction in Philosophy, John Dewey gives the following concise, yet exact description of the difficulties distance creates.
Distance is an obstacle, a source of trouble. It separates friends and prevents intercourse.I think we've all been there.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
(9:34 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Disbelieve the HypeEvery major newsweekly in the United States was apparently required by law to run a front-page story on Barack Obama this week. I have been an Obama skeptic ever since I received a fund-raising letter in which he claimed that a Democratic congress would force Bush to follow through on his promises. That struck me as a dumb strategy, since what Bush is promising is a bunch of bad things. The story in Harper's this month only confirmed my suspicions.
If I had to choose an Illinois senator to run for president in 2008, I would choose Dick Durbin. (Perhaps before 2000 I would've been hesitant due to his first name, but our current vice-president seems to have single-handedly rehabilitated the name Dick.) But I suppose we want someone with "sex appeal," so why not John Edwards? He's pretty good-looking, and his last name is not at all reminiscent of "Osama." Plus he actually talks about poverty!
So that's my pick: John Edwards in '08.
The true fantasy matchup, however, would be the "new" Al Gore vs. the "new" Bob Dole. It seems like losing a presidential election was the best thing that ever happened to those guys -- both are now demonstrably human beings, for instance, where that was sometimes unclear previously.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
(12:13 AM) | Anonymous Coward:
Tuesday Afternoon Hatred, Early Edition
I hate Kenny Rogers – the pitcher, not the country icon. (Or the group behind Kenny Rogers Roasters, for that matter.) He can’t pitch worth a lick in
I hate my job. Actually, I don’t hate the job per se. It’s not all that demanding, and there’s some room for academic reappropriation of my time. What I hate is (1) the incompetence of customers and staff alike, and (2) being reminded again and again that I have to endure whatever dehumanizing pap they can toss at me because I need the job to fund the completion of the dissertation. It’s a lot like grad school, actually, except that there’s no tuition waiver to help me choke down the bile.
[What’s truly disturbing to me is that I have at least the hope of escaping the torment of the contemporary American wage-slave. I can’t imagine how people can get up in the morning and know that they’ll be subject to the cruel whims of management for the rest of their working lives. One more thing – many of these same exploited people vote Republican. The logic utterly eludes me.]
I hate how much heavier the weights at the gym have grown since I last lifted them some ten years ago.
Finally, I hate how late in life I have come to recognize all the privileges I had growing up. (Tip of the hat to Weblog regular Jodi Dean for a post on Icite that aided in the coalescence of some thoughts on this.) I’m not ungrateful for the advantages I had growing up, to be sure. But I wonder what it says about me that I’m only beginning to get some of the basic points of class inequity now that I’m sojourning amongst the have-nots.
And now, my friends, if you have hate in your hearts, let it out…
Monday, October 23, 2006
(1:41 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
Frontiers of BoredomWithout a doubt, the single most boring regular character in the history of television is the partner on Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
If you dispute this, please put forward your own candidate in the comment box below, provided to you free of charge through a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
UPDATE: A mysterious personage known only as "Ogged" is apparently confused by this post. My specific referent is the nondescript woman who serves as partner for the fidgity detective who reminds one of a serial killer. Last night, the sister from The Wonder Years repeatedly called him "Bobby," presumably as some type of derogatory reference toward the British police force (since they do not customarily carry firearms, it was likely a veiled reference to impotence -- at least that was the best explanation I was able to come up with at the time).
Sunday, October 22, 2006
(11:29 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
My PenanceAlthough my suffering as a PhD student has not yet reached Scott Eric Kaufman's level, this weekend I started to push the limits of my endurance, plowing through the Discourses of Symeon the New Theologian. Yesterday I reached what I now believe to be the maximum possible number of pages I can read in a day; today I finished the book in the morning and will soon begin work on the notes that have become my custom as I go through my Epic Directed Studies in Historical Theology.
I can't say that reading Symeon wasn't interesting and informative, but I also can't say that it was enjoyable. That's why I'm baffled at how I started taking mental inventory of what I would have to read in order to put Symeon in perspective, etc. (I still can't figure out exactly why he's called "The New Theologian.")
The hurry on this stemmed from the fact that I'm going to be teaching over Eastern Orthodoxy next week -- as a result of this and a previous lecture, I'm now a little over a third of the way through the medieval directed reading. It's too bad that the course is so fast-paced (we're done with the medieval period in one more week), or I might be able to pull off the unprecedented feat of finishing a directed reading within the actual semester. Friends have told me that teaching is a great way to learn stuff you might otherwise never have gotten around to, and I'm starting to believe it (his example was that teaching intro to philosophy got him to sit down and read Leibniz, something he'd never have done on his own). The thought of teaching my own course is still pretty intimidating, though by this time next year I imagine I'll have a pretty firm basis for teaching History of Christian Thought, after TAing in a Systematic Theology course based on reading through Calvin's Institutes, studying for exams, etc.
Anyway, after Tuesday, the directed reading is going back on the shelf for a few weeks, as I will have to catch up on my Marx reading, grade all the papers for History of Christian Thought, write my AAR/SBL papers, actually go to AAR/SBL, etc., etc. Plus at some point I have to get back on track with the 20th Century stuff, which has gone absolutely nowhere since the semester starts. But once I start working on it again, I may turn either to Tertullian (a straggler from the Patristics study), John Scotus Erigena, or Joachim of Fiore. Does anyone know what is best to read of Joachim (aside from the commentary on Revelation) and Erigena? Is Erigena even worth the effort now that I've gone through Dionysius?
Friday, October 20, 2006
(5:56 PM) | Brad:
FINALLY!At long last, Daniel Ellsberg's editorial in last month's Harper's (that's a lot of possessive nouns!) is online. It is one of the new editorials from that quickly-taking-on-rag-status (is there a German word for this maybe?) publication that is actually a necessary read.
(4:46 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Literal TruthToday I finished my crash course in Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and so when someone commented asking if the "two natures in one person" doctrine of the Incarnation was "a literal truth," I have to admit that I didn't even know what that means. The same with "metaphorical," which seems to be very much in vogue in religious discourse these days, particularly among the liberal crowd. "Literal" seems to designate a truthier type of truth, whereas "metaphor" is a smarter, more nuanced type of truth. Take your pick!
Neither of them makes sense to me, though I'm more annoyed with "literal" simply because I hear about it more. "Literally true" -- the words correspond perfectly to the reality. What would that even mean? What does it even mean for a scientific study to be "literally true"? Why is "literally" considered a stronger modifier for "true" than, say, "really" or "actually"? Perhaps it's that "literal" is understood to exclude all other options. There can be many interpretations of a text, but only one "literal" meaning (assuming, of course, that there is one established text of the text in question).
That's the appeal of fundamentalism: it removes the options. In actual fact, fundamentalism isn't a literal reading -- a point that far too many secular people concede in advance. What fundamentalism does is make the rhetorical claim that it's the literal truth. Because there can by definition be only one literal reading, everything else looks insecure, floating off into the ether. Fundamentalism is only possible in modernity, though, only possible once the printing press has made exact reproduction of a text possible. It doesn't do much good for God to mechanically dictate to the original author when human error will introduce mistakes afterward. The earlier fundamentalists were clever -- they claimed that the King James Version of the Bible was "re-inspired," thus rebooting the process of textual transmission and establishing it on firm mechanical foundations. This fit in well with the univocal, mechanical universe of scientism.
Fundamentalism is not bad because it goes against empiricism. Fundamentalism is the bastard son of empiricism. Fundamentalism is the Christian religion as reimagined by vulgar empiricists. It is the straw man that one day came to life -- a real-live version of Christianity that's all based on true or false propositions, relying on the premise of a univocal, mechanical universe that science itself has abandoned, except for when it comes time to debate with the dumb "Christians" (fundamentalists). Then all of a sudden it's Isaac Newton, back from the dead!
Pseudo-Dionysius would have had no patience for "literalism." None of our words are able to circumscribe God, not even those in Scripture. In fact, some of the words of Scripture are simply false, and are put there as a provocation: "Indeed the sheer crassness of the signs is a goad so that even the materially inclined cannot accept that it should be permitted or true that the celestial and divine sights could be conveyed by such shameful things" (Celestial Hierarchy II.3). Thus provoked, our minds rise above the words toward the divine reality that is above words. Some words of course -- such as "Good," "Beauty," "Cause," "Being," etc. -- are better than others, but all words, even the dogmatic definitions, are inadequate.
Even though he's a made-up person whose writings apparently fell out of the sky, Pseudo-Dionysius is far from alone in this. In fact, all the worst heretics were literalists. Marcion rejected the Old Testament due to his literal reading of the stories of God's capriciousness. Arianism, which prompted the first ecumenical council, was based on the most obvious reading of most of the controverted passages. Allegorical interpretation of scripture goes hand-in-hand with negative theology -- not letting any words, even the words of scripture themselves, get in the way of God. Some words are more adequate, as I mentioned, and some words such as the dogmatic definitions are necessary in order to keep the vision of God from being blocked altogether, but none of them are equal to the divine reality.
The dogmatic definitions are ultimately a mode of negative theology, even though their primary purpose is to exclude other, less adequate definitions -- definitions that are dangerous precisely because they allow the "literal," whether that be the obvious reading of Scripture or ordinary common sensical logic or the previously accepted meanings of terms used in dogmatic definitions, to impose themselves on the truth of what God has done in Jesus Christ. The dogmatic definitions become guardrails, then, instead of simply empirical propositions.
Metaphor? I don't know: is this what people mean when they say "metaphor"? Has it been this "negative theology" thing all along, or is it just a knee-jerk reaction against the literal -- as if the two options were either "one single truth" or "absolute total free-for-all"? Classical Christian theology seems to me to break with this binary option. It's not the only mode of thought that does, but it also does.
(6:30 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Friday Morning Confessional: Veronica Mars EditionI confess to the grievous sin of watching season one of Veronica Mars all week instead of reading Husserl. I confess that I was supposed to read Cartesian Meditations and Fink's Sixth Cartesian Meditations, but have read zero meditations. Sure, I confess, I've read CM before and feel pretty confident with the material, but wouldn't I do a re-read of it anyway? To really get to the core of it all? Well, I confess the blond girl detective from Neptune, CA sucked me in. I confess I want that to sound dirtier than it possibly can be. I confess that, even though I saw parts of season two, I was genuinely surprised at some of the twists. I confess that I’m downloading season two now. I confess that I don’t need a TV, because the TV is free on the internet, which is good because I hear these people don’t know how to make good TV. I confess that my books arrived and the only ones damaged were the four Kant ones. Poor Kant. I confess that this format really makes for bad sentence structure.
I also confess that Ms. infinite thought has really cracked me up lately. I confess that we're already broke, but whatever. I confess that I got a job, and that this was intially exciting, until I realized I would be getting paid like £30/month. I confess I need another job and if anyone knows of some internet anything, please let me know. Don't let me down -- oh, and confess and shit.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
(4:26 PM) | John Emerson:
Lacan FunA recent thread on the dialectics of fun brought me to the realization that fun is jouissance and jouissance is fun. This not only solves the translation problem, but also makes it easier to present Lacan's ideas to eighteen-year-old American college freshman.
Jouissance : A French word which derives from the verb jouir meaning to have pleasure in, to enjoy, to appreciate, to savour; with a secondary meaning, as in English, of having rights and pleasures in the use of, as in the phrases “she enjoyed good health”, “she enjoyed a considerable fortune”, and “all citizens enjoy the right of freedom of expression”. The derived noun, jouissance, has three current meanings in French: it signifies an extreme or deep pleasure; it signifies sexual orgasm; and in law, it signifies having the right to use something, as in the phrase avoir la jouissance de quelquechose.
The interpretation of fun as "extreme or deep pleasure" is unproblematic, and certainly sexual orgasm is fun. (When asked where her husband is, for example, a wife might say "Right now I'd guess he's off having fun with some little whore.") Only the third meaning of jouissance seems superficially wrong for "fun", but consider these usages:
Since 1919 American women have had the fun of voting.
I am now experiencing the fun of home-ownership.
In their prime the Dakota had dominated much of the West, but after Little Big Horn the fun was over.
"Fun", of course, can be painful -- e.g., the expressions "too much fun" or sentences of the type "He had so much fun that he couldn't get out of bed for three days". Lacan recognizes this:
Jouissance, for Lacan, is not a purely pleasurable experience but arises through augmenting sensation to a point of discomfort (as in the sexual act, where the cry of passion is at times indistinguishable from the cry of pain), or as in running a marathon.
The brings us to the third paradigm (after the imaginarisation and the signifiantisation) --
the paradigm of the impossible jouissance, that is, real jouissance.
Lacan considered this Seminar as effecting a sort of scission. It constitutes a privileged reference as far as it bespeaks his third attribution to jouissance - assigned to The Real.
Now, the Real, (le real) is, of course a fish -- specifically, a kind of sturgeon, as I have shown. But Lacan does not speak of le real, of course, but la real. In other words, contrary to his usual practice he uses ordinary language and not technical language. Furthermore, he speaks not of a sturgeon, but of a salmon:
But sometimes desire is not to be conjured away, but appears as here, at the centre of the stage, all too visibly, on the festive board, in the form of a salmon. It is an attractive-looking fish, and if it is presented, as is the custom in restaurants, under a thin gauze, the raising of this gauze creates a similar effect to that which occurred at the culmination of the ancient mysteries.
Now, why did Lacan engauze his real meaning this way? Why did he occult le real (the sturgeon), hiding it behind la real and the salmon?
Well, ancient mysteries are like that. And if he just flopped un real real on your plate, that wouldn't be the elusive object of desire any more, would it?
[John Emerson has asserted the moral right to identify Pseudo-Kotsko as the author of this post.]
(3:00 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
On the Old Saw, "Republicans use the religious right for their votes but never give them what they actually want"The Democrats do the same thing with progressives, or liberals, or whatever you call them. Arguably they learned this technique from the Republicans, but no matter how it arose, the end result is the same -- we have two national parties whose political strategy is based on consistently failing to deliver for what is ostensibly their primary constituency. Instead of pursuing policies those constituencies actually want, they mainly focus on convincing them that the other guys definitely won't give them what they want.
From the perspective of representative government, what purpose is actually being served by either party is unclear. But be that as it may, there's no denying that this shit actually works. The Democrats have a total corner on my vote, despite the fact that I know that they're all equivocating cowards who will not impeach Bush, demand withdrawal from Iraq, or give us a real single-payer health care system -- even if they had supermajorities in both houses of Congress, they would do precisely none of that stuff.
Any opposition party worthy of the name would impeach Bush as soon as they returned to power. That's just the bare minimum, in my opinion. Plus impeach Roberts and Alito and replace them with actual living human beings -- no need to hold back from cleaning up his vandalism of the Supreme Court. For example. That such things are dismissed out of hand as completely unrealistic -- even in this extremely extreme political situation we find ourselves in -- shows that the Democrats don't really mean it.
I mean: they used to carry firearms into Congress! It used to be possible to get shot in Congress. And now using strong and "unbalanced" language to describe a criminal, disastrous war is considered to be too "divisive." But I'm still going to vote for them -- a straight Democratic ticket, all the way down to Todd Stroger. They're nothing, but they're all I've got.
(7:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Theologian as BiologianI believe that I have thought of an illustration from biology that can serve to help people avoid the grievous christological heresies of Nestorianism, Monophysism, and Monothelitism. As we know, the orthodoxy teaching is that Jesus Christ has distinct two natures, human and divine, but is nonetheless a single person or subsistent entity (hypostasis). That single person or subsistent entity is the Word of God, the second person of the Trinity. Christ's human nature is assumed by the Word from the very moment it comes into existence -- there is no "time lag" during which Christ's human nature would've existed apart from the Word. At the same time, it must be affirmed that Christ's human nature had its own human will and performed human acts, because a human will bereft of will or action would not be truly human.
To say that Christ is two subsistent entities or hypostases would be Nestorianism; to say that the two natures combine to create a new single nature would be Monophysism; to say that Christ has only a divine will but no human will would be Monothelitism. To say that Christ performed only divine actions would be Monergism, but that is normally treated as a subset of Monothelitism.
It's admitted in advance that no perfect illustration can be found, since the miraculous event of the Incarnation is sui generis. The standard illustration that I have seen for the "two natures" is the union of body and soul in the human being. This is fine as far as it goes, showing how a single entity (a human being) can have two "natures" within it. The aspect it lacks is a clear analogue for the assumption of a human nature by a divine entity -- it is not that the human being is really a body that has taken on a soul or is really a soul that has taken on a body; it's just both. And in any case, talk about the "soul" doesn't really grab modern people in the same way as it did people back then.
This brings me to my illustration: the relationship between mitochondria and cells. The mitochondria has its own DNA, separate from that of the cell -- the two types of DNA being obviously analogous to the two "natures." Nonetheless, we call that entity that possesses the two kinds of DNA a cell -- thus we can say that it is a cellular entity (hypostasis) just as Christ is a divine entity (hypostasis).
The problem with this illustration is that the mitochondria produce energy for the cell, whereas the human nature of Christ is not to be thought of as fulfilling a need or lack in God. Still, assuming that my comic book biology is correct, this seems to be a fairly good illustration that can, as I said, help ward off the ever-present threat of heresy. If any biologians have any correction they wish to offer, I would be glad to hear it.
As a sidenote, if anyone could explain to me how it came about that the French have such nicer editions of patristic and medieval writers, with up-to-date texts and facing translations, while we Anglos largely have to make do by piecing together various shit translations from the Victorian era, I'd be interested to learn. Is it a division of labor thing? Germans cover Bible and Reformation-era, the French get the stuff in between, and the Americans are left with the sloppy seconds of televangelism and bad pop music? (Leaving the British theologians, of course, the very important task of empty posturing.)
Finally, does anyone else find the Journal of the American Academy of Religion to be appallingly dull? I've been receiving it for a year and a half, and I've never been tempted to read so much as a single article.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
(3:15 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
For a return to the spuriousNothing points to the cultural impoverishment and flat-footed literalism of the modern era more than the decline in spurious attribution. In past eras, spurious attributions flourished, ranging from the high-flown speculations of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite to the improbable claims underwritten by the Donation of Constantine. Indeed, one must go back even further: the Bible itself, the foundation of religious, cultural, and intellectual life for centuries, is mostly a work of spurious attribution.
Our forebears were aware of the power of a well-placed name for settling disputes and advancing important causes; their imaginative, and therefore also argumentative, resources far outstripped our own. Today, true spurious attribution lives on only in the hollowed-out form of celebrity ghost-writing, reducing a long and glorious cultural institution to simply one commercial transaction among others.
Worse than that, we have now completely reversed the process. Our characteristic practice is plagiarism -- we steal someone else's words and attach them to our name, hoping the quality of the content will gain us personal advantages. The contrast between plagiarism and spurious attribution is the measure of our decadence.
(6:18 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Deleuze and the Indigenous
Here is a quote from Australian political theorist Paul Patton's book Deleuze and the Political (2000). This book recently got a rave review from feloow Deleuzian, Dan Smith. It's a pretty unique venture bringing Deleuze into contact with orthodox liberal political theory on the one hand and Indigenous rights and title on the other.
In jurisprudential terms, the concept of aboriginal or native title expresses a novel kind of right which opens up a smooth space inbetween indigenous and colonial law. The interpretation of native title as a recognition concept belonging to the space between the law of the coloniser and the law of the colonised affirms that we are dealing with two bodies of law in relation to the land, both of which claim to be final and absolute in their own terms. It implies that there would no longer be just one body of law which holds sway over the same territory but two or more 'law ways.' In terms of Deleuze and Guattari's concept of becoming, the recognition of native title involves a becoming-indigenous of the common law to the extent that it now protects a property right derived from indigenous law; and a becoming-common law of indigenous law to the extent that it now acquires the authority along with jurisprudential limits of the common law doctrine of native title. In terms of their concept of capture, the recognition of native title is a partial deterritorialization of the legal apparatus of capture by means of a refusal of its primary stage: the establishment of a uniform space of comparison and appropriation. It amounts to the assertion of an irreducible difference where before there had only been a uniform legal soace of alienated or unalienated Crown land. In this manner, aboriginal or native title gives effect to the absolute deterritorialisation of the juridicial apparatus of colonial capture. In effect, the legal recognition of indigenous law and custom returns to the fundamental jurisprudential problem of colonisation and rewrites the terms of that event. It opens up the possibility of a reconfiguration of the constitutional form of the colonial polity and the emergence of a different solution to the problem of the colonial nation-state. pp. 129-130.
This passage strikes me as being remarkably confident in the individual decisions of what are ultimately State-run courts, overly positive in its evaluation of indigenous self-determination under current conditions of deterritorialization (what more of a god send could there be for deterritorializing states wishing to cut on welfare spending than indigenous D.I.Y.?) , and overzealous in its enthusiasm for indigenous title as a "solution" for colonial violence. Given the current state of the working group on Indigenous peoples, wide-spread culturalist and neoliberal reform to indigenous policy taking place throughout the 1990s in Australia, Japan and elsewhere, and the simple fact that discourse of indigenous rights always seems to reduce itself to simply setting standards for servicing the huge variety of people who, for one reason or another, get lumped and lump themselves under the sign of "indigenous peoples," surely this is not the sight of any real politics anymore? Patton's argument seems to place recognition as a prerequisite. There is no goal in itself, no disruption or suspension of the status quo - no becoming. Just the repetitive exercise of technocratic, communicative consensus building and pandering to the "possible." A very Deleuzian world indeed.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
(10:50 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Crapostolic Succession T-ShirtDavid Reese, a student at CTS, has designed a cool line of merchandise based on the premise of Crapostolic Succession (the image is most clearly visible in the rectangle magnet).
I fully endorse and support these t-shirts, caps, thongs, etc. -- and I'm not even getting a cut.
(12:17 AM) | Ben Wolfson:
Tuesday Hatred: lackluster editionI hate doors that lock automatically, especially doors that lock automatically after one's keys have fallen out of one's pockets on the wrong side of the door.
I hate being and having been unexpectedly tired and unable to concentrate all day today. I hate that extremely frustrating phenomenon, all the more common when heavy-lidded, of one's eyes moving down the page in what one only realizes was utter incomprehension a minute later.
I hate the way my jaw doesn't seem to fit anymore.
Monday, October 16, 2006
(4:39 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
Elegant DefinitionSport n. Any ostensibly non-sexual activity in which ass-patting is a standard mode of encouragement or congratulation.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
(6:47 PM) | John Emerson:
The Cold War and American Philosophy
"The desire for precision has led for the moment to a restriction of the field covered; and in this sense the movement does not at present deal with certain significant humanistic and philosophic problems."
How the Cold War Transformed Philosophy of Science,
George Reisch,Cambridge, 2005, p 75.
Reisch's book by and large confirms my speculations about analytic philosophy's rise to dominance in American universities -- though in one major respect it requires me to change my view. It should be read along with McCumber's Time in the Ditch, Mirowski's Machine Dreams, (and presumably Schrecker's No Ivory Tower, which I haven't read yet). These books show how the combination of politically-motivated incentives both positive (fellowships and targeted grants) and negative (firings, threats of prosecution) moved philosophy and other academic disciplines in directions compatible with liberal interventionism and anti-populist administrative liberalism. Philosophy, in particular, moved in the direction of specialization, scientifism, value-neutrality, and political non-involvement -- rather than toward of any substantive political view, whether liberal or conservative.
Reisch focuses on the logical empiricists (often called logical positivists) of the Vienna Circle, scarcely mentioning Russell, Wittgenstein, or Popper. The book also includes premonitions of a further transition, when the logical positivists, in their turn, were also elbowed aside by a later tendency represented by Quine and Nelson Goodman, but this topic is not developed. My recent scattered reading in the logical positivists, for example Reichenbach on temporality and indeterminism, has has given me more sympathy for them -- they were much more willing to do "big picture" philosophy than their obsessively-meta successors were. (Special mention should be given of Otto Neurath, an amazing guy).
I have long thought that the key development for early-fifties American philosophy was the suppression of public philosophy and of normative thinking, to be replaced by specialized value-neutral quasi-scientific thought, and Reisch's book confirms my opinion on this point. The political goal of this transition, as I read it, was not a conservative philosophy, but a politically- and ethically-null philosophy which battled against more engaged philosophies, and Reisch in general confirms this opinion of mine. However, he complicated my understanding of how things happened historically. My earlier opinion was that the apolitical logical positivists muscled out the more engaged pragmatists, but the truth is that several of the logical empiricists wanted philosophy to be politically engaged, and they too were defeated when American philosophy was transformed -- while it was Sidney Hook, a pragmatist student of Dewey's, took the lead in purging philosophy of those who were insufficiently anti-Communist.
John Dewey briefly worked with the logical empiricists on their Encyclopedia of Unified Science, and his disagreements with his collaborators are significant. Dewey's belief that a scientific philosophy should be a politically progressive (or "left") public philosophy was not a problem for the logical empiricists, but his rejection of the physics of model of science was, and he also did not think, as the logical empiricists did, that normative principles are non-cognitive, axiomatic or absolute, and not subject to philosophical investigation or development.
McCarthyism hit philosophy especially hard, as McCumber has also pointed out, and the outcome was to define philosophy per se as apolitical or passively liberal, while also discouraging extra-curricular political involvement (especial of a leftist sort). It must be noted, however, that many of the logical empiricists (notably Carnap) did continue their left political activities even after they had been threatened with investigation.
It's hard not to feel an animus against Sidney Hook's role in all this. In the name of freedom of thought, he began with the already-doubtful claim that Communist Party members should be fired because they were unfree and incapable of valid philosophy, and ended up arguing threateningly that non-Communist philosophers should be careful not to take positions too similar to the Communist position (pp. 278-82). From a nationalist, statist, or militarist point of view Hook's argument is unexceptional, but arguing for a suppression of certain kinds of thought in the name of freedom of thought itself is Orwellian.
Compared to Communist or fascist purges, the effects of McCarthyism were fairly mild -- the number of actual firings and prosecutions was not terribly large. The transformation of philosophy was effected mostly at the level of hiring, promotion, grants, and fellowships (notably at the semi-military RAND Corp.). Furthermore, philosophers were not actively recruited into any political program, and few (or no) philosophers changed their philosophical teachings in response to external pressures. Philosophers who fit the new analytic mold found themselves prospering, while those whose work did not fit saw their careers faltering. Leftist philosophers who survived did so by directing their attentions mostly toward their nonpolitical, non-social interests.
In my opinion, the primary victims of McCarthyism were not the philosophers whose careers were ruined. The primary victim was American philosophy itself, which has been stunted and impoverished ever since the Fifties.
The positive markers of post-McCarthy philosophy were professionalization, scientism, and a tendency toward formalization; the negative markers (p. 345) were a withdrawal from politics (and public philosophy) and a "decline of debate over questions about values and the discipline's responsibilities to these questions". Reisch sums up Reichenbach thus: "There can be no scientific ethics, consequently, because ethical premises are essentially volitional and subjective" (Reisch's summary, p. 356); according to Reisch, for Feigl 'not only science, but all intellectual pursuits were fully independent of ethics and moral concerns" (Reisch's summary, p. 361).
The losers of this game were not only the Deweyite pragmatists, but also many of the logical empiricists. "[Morris, Frank, and Neurath] opposed, and were out of step with, not only the moral and political absolutism of anticommunism, but an institutional and disciplinary absolutism that would isolate philosophy of science from interaction with other disciplines and areas of culture." (p. 379). Reisch's judgment is that "While these pronouncements signal one kind of depoliticization of philosophy of science, they also signal a different kind of repoliticization....a retreat not from politics, but rather from dissent... " (pp. 345, 349).
The geopolitical and military context is inescapable. After WWII all right-thinking people were especially alert to the threat of mass politics, left or right. Furthermore, the difficulties involved in shifting enemies in 1948, after five years in alliance with Uncle Joe Stalin, made a politically-neutral, relatively contentless ideology preferable to anything with any substance, since geopolitical exigencies might demand still another switch sometime down the road. A determinedly apolitical philosophy was satisfactory to administrative liberalism on both counts, and in fact the contentlessness of analytic philosophy is peculiarly suited to the liberalism of this era, which often presented its own views in the form of a default skepticism about all opposing ideas.
For me, Reisch's story is a painful one. I was already a leftish pragmatist in 1964 when I showed up for college, and I can now understand that I never really had a chance. I continually felt myself being pushed in the apolitical direction, and I resisted until I dropped out. When the U.S. mobilized for war in 1941, the academy was mobilized too. We have never demobilized since then, though there have been many twists and turns of policy.
Specialists are workers, and bosses are generalists. For philosophy the cost of specialization has been to become a subaltern null discipline, watching marketers and administrators and publicists and preachers and strategists and financiers and demagogues and promoters make the big political decisions, with no input from philosophy. The aggressive modesty of analytic philosophy looks cute on paper, but it's hard for a student of current events not to think that there's something missing nowadays, and that philosophy might be it.
(10:54 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A New Logo? [updated 10/16]Mortimer Shy has just said what many of us are thinking: the Ken Lay logo is getting old.
The last time I e-mailed Jared Sinclair about a new one, he never mailed me back, so now I'm putting out a call to the Internet as a whole. Develop an appropriate logo and send it to me. I will choose the best one based solely on my own arbitrary opinion. The winner will be immortalized in the "About the Weblog" box in the left sidebar.
Thank you in advance for your careful attention to this matter.
UPDATE: It would also be possible to go back to one of the old logos.
UPDATE: The present logo was submitted by Amish Lovelock. I went with it immediately because it seemed really important to use a Quine logo. However, if multiple people send in more logos, I will use them at intervals of a few weeks (the length of time depending on how many I get).
UPDATE: I have replaced Amish's logo because it is too large. I do, however, plan to develop a new logo based on the same image, but proportionate to past logos. The new logo was submitted by Standpipe Bridgeplate, commenter at Unfogged.
(6:04 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Argument for the Existence of Atheism as Religious PhenomenonThis is nothing new, I warn you. The experience of religious debates are such that passionate atheism must always find itself in a religious paradigm. That atheists of this kind are religious, almost monastic, in their mode of being.
For an atheist can not conceive of not conceiving of God. God is always still the central experience for an atheist, except in God's inexistence. The point I take from this is that God still forms some intensity in thought and experience for the so-called non-believer.
Can there be an indifferent atheism? Is it possible to posit unbelief without intending God, even if God is intended in the same mode as unicorn?
Saturday, October 14, 2006
(9:19 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
Spam RealFor a long time the only spam mail I was getting was of the special offer product type. Then, after a while, came those little beauties with titles specially designed to appear as the mid-point in some conversation between friends. Next came the classic "letter from a Nigerian banker." Why it is always a Nigerian I don't know? And then yesterday new heights were reached. You can almost imagine the squeeky clean suited company grunt opening up his new bank account as you read it. Fantastic!
I know this may come as surprise and sceptic to you. I am one of the officials in the Energy management board, in Burkina Faso. We had a contract with Denmark through the Burkina Faso Danish Cooperation, which was signed on the 4th of march, 2003 on the Electrification of the Urban centres, offices and rural dwellers. The project has been executed, you can check on the website. www.SONABEL.BF. But, the main issue of contacting you is to intimate you that during the award of this contract, a few of my colleagues and l, had inflated the amount of this contract and the OVER- INVOICED is being safeguarded under our custody. However, we have decided to transfer this sum of money, $10.3million USA Dollars out of this Country for disbursement. Hence, we seek for a reliable, honest and not greedy foreign partner whom we shall use his or her account to transferring the fund. And we agreed that the account owner shall benefit 30% of the total amount of money, 65% is for us here, and 5% will be used for miscellaneous expenses during the transfer. If you are capable to handle the transaction without hitches and flaws, then we have confidence in the deal, and a risk free transfer from our side. Please, make it TOP SECRET and avoid every channel of implicating us here thereby endanger our career. Therefore, if you will not be able to handle it, please hold on your peace for our sake we are public servants. I pray to God for his providence for a smooth transfer, so that our retiring soon or later will be a better and blissful retirement life, as such we are very cautious towards actualising this noble venture. It can also be a once in life opportunity for you, because l know that we going to see face-face, preferably come down to Burkina Faso and verify on my claim on the said amount of money in the bank. Besides, to discuss business and investment in your country at large, and thereafter sit together to decide on the means of transferring. If this picks your interest, please do contact me immediately through this email address for more details and for easier communication. Please, time is no longer on our side.
(1:52 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Human InteractionAll morning, I've been checking Craigslist's Wyoming site for reasonably-priced caves. I've found a few no-frills models that seem to fit with my budget. I'm already stocking up: "Hamburger Helper" to go with the lizards and vultures I'll be eating, a corkscrew for drinking out of cacti, etc. I've got some quotes from contractors to come out and build me a pillar if I decide to become a stylite, but hopefully it won't come to that.
Human interaction is becoming a problem for me. The awkwardness has become overwhelming -- facing down the social order and losing every time. Reading all day, then unwinding with a couple episodes of South Park, seems to be about my speed. My best model for the kind of companionship I'm looking for right now is a cat.
I'm waiting for a package to come via UPS. It seems to be getting toward that point on a Saturday afternoon when I shouldn't expect it any longer. I ordered a couple books, but when I open the box, I just know it's going to be objet petit a. Together again, at last! My excremental remainder and me. If it doesn't come, maybe I should look on eBay, because they sell "It," according to the commercials. I'm glad that eBay has cut to the chase, because the commercials for debt consolidation, impotence cures, hair club for men, adult incontinence products, etc., just were not quite hitting the spot.
I'm not yet a broken old man who will never love again. At the tender age of 26, I have experienced an uncommon amount, but I'm not yet cynical. I will pay off those credit card bills myself. I can get an erection. I have hair. There are still episodes of South Park I've not seen, though I fear that I've run out of Seinfeld -- where will I get my next fix of nihilism? I feel like making a habit of watching Adult Swim would be admitting defeat.
But even blogfights aren't grabbing me like they used to. Against my better judgment, I've been having a back-and-forth with Rich Puchalsky, but my heart's not in it and I think we both know it. How will I procrastinate without blogfights, though? Do I seriously want to go the rest of my life without feeling that pointless anger? Without being deeply annoyed at people I've never met?
I'm worried -- maybe even a little frightened -- about what's happening to me. I fear I've lost my ear for philosophy, if I ever had one at all. I reread The Stranger the other night and felt nothing, nothing! The same with Dead Poets Society. Those were the very same cultural artifacts that once convinced me to give up on shaving and start drinking a lot of coffee. I tore my poster of "Le Chat Noir" off the wall and broke down in tears over my inability to cry.
Crumpled, defeated, I crawled to my computer. I started searching for caves.
(9:15 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Cursed HeresiesReading the section "On Heresies" of John of Damascus's Fountain of Knowledge, I came across this juxtaposition:
49. The Pepuzians... celebrate certain mysteries during the course of which they pierce a new-born child with bronze needles, as is the custom of the Cataphrygians. Then, having mixed flour with its blood, they bake a host of which they partake as communion....The concept of "heresy" is evidently pretty elastic.
50. The Quartodecimans celebrate Easter on a fixed day of the year. On that day which coincides with the fourteenth of the moon, whether it be Saturday or Sunday, they fast and celebrate the vigil and the feast simultaneously.
Friday, October 13, 2006
(11:52 AM) | Brad:
Market-Driven BenevolenceAre you sitting down? Are you ready for something that will completely jar you from your present evaluation of how the world works. Ready?
China is planning to adopt a new law that seeks to crack down on sweatshops and protect workers’ rights by giving labor unions real power for the first time since it introduced market forces in the 1980’s.
The move, which underscores the government’s growing concern about the widening income gap and threats of social unrest, is setting off a battle with American and other foreign corporations that have lobbied against it by hinting that they may build fewer factories here.
The proposed rules are being considered after the Chinese Communist Party endorsed a new doctrine that will put greater emphasis on tackling the severe side effects of the country’s remarkable growth.
[. . .]
Hoping to head off some of the rules, representatives of some American companies are waging an intense lobbying campaign to persuade the Chinese government to revise or abandon the proposed law.
Who could have anticipated that capitalist industry cares nothing about its workers -- that, in fact, the more voice its workers have, the more threatened capitalist industry becomes?
An hypothesis not shared by all: effecting changing things from the inside of any structure, when it is not built around changing the structure itself, i.e. by changing the terms by which we understand the function and status of said structure & our place/role in it, is no change at all. This is exactly what is being proposed by American & European industry here -- we'll insure Chinese workers are protected through the market-driven benevolence of our productivity and profitability. Or, in other words, allow us to continue what we do best, produce more objects, and all will be fine. Of course, the objects in this case are "workers." However, insofar as they/we (the workers) remain objects, they/we are not sensible agents of change: they/we can neither see any other possible way of attending to the system in which they/we exist, nor of providing a voice (from the wilderness, as it were) to reimagine a place in this system & thus the status of the system itself. Insofar as they/we are objects, we remain anonymous nodes whose interests are only attended to in the redemptive promise of profitability.
Now, of course, this "works," often quite well, precisely because the terms and evaluation of this system's (in this case, the market) function and productivity are defined retroactively, and thus within the situational parameters it sets for itself. It's not that such a system creates its own rules & thus cannot lose, à la Calvinball, but that the rules themselves are constructed in such a way that losing is (potentially, at least) another form of winning. In the eyes of the market, though, these Chinese workers are neither losers nor potential winners, because they in fact are not in fact playing at all. They are, rather, the (preferably) anonymous/voiceless means by which others play.
The question then becomes: do such workers who somehow invest in the market finally begin playing by the rules, and thus change his or her status as worker (because s/he can now win and/or lose)? Is this the horizon of our expectation and hope, that the market change from within so that the reach of its status-defining rules & evaluations expand? Such is, I suppose, the perspective of the proponents of globalism. Or, rather, is this status only truly changed by the reevaluation -- be it by politics, aesthetics, religion -- of the rules by which these evaluations of status are made in the first place?
(6:26 AM) | it:
Friday Confessional: Week Three, Term One EditionI confess I resent Empedocles and his stupid ideas about cosmic cycles and vegetarianism. I confess that if animals really were filled with transmigrated human souls, I would eat them with much greater frequency, particularly the pork pie versions.
I confess that I had no idea how tiring teaching three double-weighted courses a week (plus seminars) would be, which in retrospect was foolhardy. I could have spent the Summer hibernating in preparation for the utterly minimal levels of sleep I now miserably eke out from the week.
I confess that I have already flirted with the Dean of Arts in order to get her on my side during my first year of probation. I confess that she told my colleague that she thought I was 'perky'. I confess that I am desperately assuming that this is a good thing to be.
I confess that it seems that universities are full of people who are academically 'radical' (I work on female militants from the Basque region/transgendered jugglers/gay rights in Palestine) but if you say you didn't like the latest Almodovar film or believe the novels of Milan Kundera to be vacuous toss, they look at you as though you've just stepped on their bisexual kitten or spent their salary on Coco Pops.
Confess, you boring bastards! Bring me tales of debauchery and devastating wit! Fill my pedagogical existence with tales of rent boys, alley-way sex, spiritual degradation and gross moral turpitude! (I confess that I really want to be fired for 'persistent gross moral turpitude').
Thursday, October 12, 2006
(8:20 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Favorite Beatles Song?Mine is "Her Majesty," from Abbey Road.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
(6:45 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Philosophy of the 21st CenturyTomorrow in my class on "Philosophical Thought," I have to give a presentation over Martin Heidegger. This is difficult for several reasons. First, many of my classmates seem to have a particular concern with the general moral worth of philosophers, and by any measure, Heidegger is at or near the the bottom of the list of "Good People in Philosophy." Second, there is the extremely self-referential nature of his thought -- to get a lot out of Heidegger, you have to have made a decision in advance that you really care what Heidegger has to say.
Third, and most importantly, I have been sick to death of Heidegger for a long time. I read a lot of him at one point, but now I don't really see the use. This is especially the case given that most of the other philosophers I am interested in deal with Heidegger ad nauseam. (I have little doubt that if all extant copies of Being and Time were lost, the entire text could be recovered by collecting quotations from French philosophers -- probably the whole text in German, even.)
I can't be the only one who feels this way. In fact, although it's early yet, I will venture a prediction -- the 21st century will have been little more than the century of Heidegger fatigue. There will be no great figure who arises to take his place. The recent half-hearted rise of Badiou is little more than a symptom of Heidegger fatigue, and -- more to the point -- Badiou's own monumental arrogance can never be anything more than a feeble parody of Heidegger's. Long after Being and Event has been forgotten (ca. 2009), we'll all still be doing our painfully close readings of Being and Time, even though we hate it, even though we've forgotten why.
(9:45 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Class PreparationIn a couple weeks, I am apparently going to be in charge of an entire three-hour class on Eastern Orthodoxy. Obviously I'm going to have to find a few ways to kill some time. The best way would be to incorporate a PowerPoint presentation. I could arrange with the library (or whoever is in charge of such things) to bring in the projector five minutes after class starts, then act like there was some problem getting it to work with my computer. With any luck, one of the computer-oriented students would offer to help, only adding to the confusion. Finally, when we'd get the video working, I could fake a separate problem with the sound -- because of course no PowerPoint on Eastern Orthodoxy would be complete, would even make sense, without monks chanting in the background. Time wasted: 20-30 min.
Then, on the verge of actually beginning the presentation, I would remember that I was supposed to hand back papers. Since graduate students spontaneously form seating charts, it would be a simple matter to stack the papers so as to require the maximum time of walking back and forth while handing them back. Time wasted: 10 min.
After this has been completed, the only real opportunity for wasting time would be to take excessive questions -- yet PowerPoint lulls students into complacency. Perhaps the best strategy, then, would be to get through the PowerPoint as quickly as possible, bringing us up to break time. The break could obviously be extended if I was seen outside the seminary, frantically talking on the cell phone -- that alone could carve out an additional five to ten minutes of the second half of the class, perhaps even more if I can come up with an amusing story for why I was detained on the phone.
At this point, my true genius is displayed, for this is when we begin the Group Activity. First, we can waste time "counting off," then I can cultivate some confusion about where each particular group is supposed to meet. For the rest of the class, the students themselves will handle the time-wasting functions, and I can stand up at the podium, apparently working on paperwork, but actually playing Hangman against myself.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
(5:15 PM) | Aryeh Rafah:
The Revolution Needs Accountants, TooThe responses to my last post got me thinking: who counts as a real leftist? Of the various things that people do with their time, which activities are consistent with leftist principles? The question my commenters ask me after every post - or rather, tell me the answer to - is: is investing consistent with leftism?
In the absence of any viable international (or even national) leftist organization, I am content to give my surplus value to the charities and NGOs that do the best work. If Anthony, or Pat Rock, or whoever can point to some revolutionary group that I have overlooked, great. If they want to start one, I'll help however I can.
But do people really mean to suggest that giving money to African children with AIDS is inconsistent with leftist principles simply because the aid money was obtained by investing; specifically, by profiting from the misfortunes of Exxon and Halliburton?
Puh-leeze. Revolutionary purity is a luxury most of the world doesn't have right now.
(12:01 AM) | Ben Wolfson:
Tuesday Hatred: I walked abroad in an evil hourI hate that, despite Adam's email in comportment with his policy of reminding the people who have signed up to hate or confess the day before the hatred or confession is due, I nearly forgot to hate. It was 11:48pm (Chicago time) when I began this post, having only minutes—not even minutes, a minute—before remembered, with a sudden expostulation, that I was called on to hate.
I hate that I have to take a logic course. I don't hate logic at all; in fact, I kind of enjoy it. But I hate being required to take a course the material covered in which is material I've essentially already learned (and, in some cases, forgotten, but that's neither here nor there). You might ask: why not take a course that covers material I haven't already learned? Because that would be work. Not that I hate work. But I don't anticipate using formal logic in my future philosophical undertakings, so why expend extra effort in that direction? It's called "comparative advantage", people. I would extra-hate that the logic course involves the computerized manipulation of Platonic solids in order to disprove things, instead of something honest like specifications of structures, but I've skipped the part of the course that involves that.
If the above turns out to redound to my disadvantage (say, because the logic prof is googling my name (highly unlikely)), then I will hate that as well.
I hate how the time slips away when one has an internet connection. I came home today at around 6pm, having gotten out of class at around 5, chatted a bit at the department, and then gone shopping; after my arrival I cooked dinner and then I've been sitting around talking to people online since. Instead of reading Husserl (than which just about anything is more enjoyable; Husserl was a terrible writer) or Kant.
I hate classes that meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, because it means that, if you piss away your Monday evenings, you've got to do all the reading on Tuesdays. This is stressful!!! when one additionally has a presentation in one of them, the one that one likes the most, and in which one wants to make a Good Impression. If the gods were kinder than provident, they would make it such that classes that meet on two days meet Mondays and Thursdays (or Tuesdays and Fridays). Of course this would be nightmare for coördinating with classes that meet three days a week (which have no choice but to meet MWF), but that doesn't bother me now that I'm in considerably less danger of taking such classes.
I am truly sorry that all of my hatred is so parochial. I hate lots of other stuff, too! But it's just not coming to me now, or it seems so obvious. To be honest, I was in a much more hateful mood several days ago. Thursday? Wednesday? I can't even remember. What I hate most of all is having let each of you down. Please, redeem my post: hate.
Monday, October 09, 2006
(9:26 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Dam is BreachedSome of those who gave recommendations for my medieval theology directed reading may be wondering if I've come to any conclusions. Due to a dissertation topic I have in mind, which shall remain top-secret for now, it now appears that scholasticism is going to be unavoidable -- though thankfully, I may still be able to join in the grand tradition of bypassing Protestant scholasticism. Also, I'm going to go back and pick up Tertullian, since I missed him in the patristics study -- the rationale being that he's Latin, and I guess Latin is relevant to medieval stuff. This leaves me less room for oddball characters, at least if this isn't to become an absolutely infinite directed study like some I have done in the past.
So here is my tentative list. First, the Eastern people, whom I have to get under my belt relatively quickly in order to teach it (quick note -- thank God for Jaroslav Pelikan!):
- Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
- John of Damascus
- Symeon the New Theologian
- Paschasius Radbertus and Ratramnus, monks of Corbie
- John Scotus Erigena
- Joachim of Fiore
- Anselm of Canterbury
- Thomas Aquinas
- William of Ockham
- Duns Scotus
I mean, eventually one must "get to" everyone -- but one must also eventually "get done" with coursework.
While I work this out, everyone needs to go read Ratramnus's Epistola de cynocephalis, in J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae latinae cursus completus 120, 1153-56. I haven't technically read it yet, but I do have a photocopy sitting on my desk as we speak.
(1:26 PM) | Aryeh Rafah:
Stock Picking FollowupExactly three months ago in "A Fall Hurricane Strategy", I took a long position on the insurers with the most hurricane exposure, claiming that they'd been oversold and would see a good bounce back over the summer and fall, especially if the hurricane season was anything less dramatic than last year's. I mentioned ALL, MRH, and RNR.
I also recommended some natural gas companies as a hedge against bad hurricanes, and as worthwhile plays in their own right. Specifically: COP and CHK.
So how did that pan out?
Well, as long as you didn't overhedge the position, you made money. All of the insurers are up since I mentioned them in July. From the market open the day after my post, ALL is up 14%, MRH is up 7.4%, and RNR is up 12.4%, for an average 3-month return of 11.2%: annualized, that's 44%!!
What about the natural gas? Well, the point of hedging is obviously to protect your downside, and that always cuts into profits a little bit. CHK ran up over 13% in the last few days of July, and a trailing stop would've taken you out of that position in early August. But even if you held on, CHK today is almost even with where I originally recommended it: no major hurricanes and forecasts for a warmer winter have kept the price of natural gas very low. That, and the recent selloff in crude oil.
Speaking of crude, COP was a bad choice on my part. I picked it for a good reason - it was increasing its natural gas exposure - but COP is also a major oil player, and at the time I wasn't expecting the oil patch to get so overextended (nobody was). This stock went up 4% from where I picked it, but is now down about 14%. Decent stops would have protected you from this, but, assuming you took a hedging position only half as large as your primary insurance position, I'll mark COP down as -7%.
So, the totals. Worst possible combination: MRH/COP is a breakeven at .4% (I don't factor in transaction costs, since they vary so much). Best possible combination: ALL/CHK at 14%, assuming that CHK stopped you out.
Not bad for 3 months: it beats the market averages and most mutual funds soundly.
(9:42 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Dream BloggingSaturday, I took a nap while hungry and ended up having a dream in which I was driving around a go-cart made out of French fries. The only problem with this arrangement was that I was slowly eating it as I drove.
Do any of you have a dream you'd like to share?
Sunday, October 08, 2006
(11:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Introductory StudiesYou know what's a really great introduction to Marxist thought? Engels' "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific."
(10:43 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Mark Foley ScandalI'm just not sure it's that big of a deal. If it somehow leads to a defeat for the Republicans in November, then that's great -- but isn't there enough to dislike about Republicans already? Are there swing voters out there making their decisions based on the relative creepiness of the IMs sent by congressmen of each party? Don't get me wrong: the IMs were creepy. At the same time, there doesn't appear to have been any sexual contact involved, much less molestation or rape.
Also, while some have claimed that he's somehow hypocritical for opposing child pornography, etc., there's a difference between "teenagers who are technically still below the age of consent" and "children." The difference between having sex with a sixteen-year-old and a nine-year-old is pretty stark -- the one is questionable depending on circumstances, but the latter is always and everywhere criminal. The conflation of the two is not a helpful way of drawing moral distinctions.
It becomes sinister, however, when this conflation is extended to homosexuality, as in the priest sex abuse scandal. Most of these priests were pursuing teenagers, but it was treated as child abuse because of the age of consent -- and then all of a sudden, it's determined that gay priests have a predisposition toward pedophilia.
Homophobia has always worked by conflating homosexuality with criminal sexual acts, such as incest, pedophilia, bestiality, etc., and the only way to work up really serious outrage against this Mark Foley thing is to ignore all manner of valid and necessary distinctions and to turn a man who showed a certain level of indiscretion in flirting with his pages into a pedophile. If people are going to do that anyway, then I'm not opposed to the Democrats gaining from it. On the other hand, if somehow the Republican apologists (or members of their audience) end up remembering all their nuanced fine distinctions on the Foley case the next time a case of a gay man being (gasp!) attracted to teenagers comes up, then that will be good, too.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
(7:51 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Hegel would totally stand in line for this movie...Looks like Mighty Ducks: The Prequel is coming out. Some may remember my post blaming Hegel for The Mighty Ducks movie franchise, because of his valorisation of the Spartan stand against the Persians. It's not that there isn't something inspiring about the underdog defeating a vastly superior enemy, but it's that Hegel's conception of history moves through events such as a battle between nation-states and an empire when the reality is that history moves along on the backs of those who work. Would there not have been resistance under 'Oriental despotism'? Seems to me that every despot has a resistance and it's hardly about freedom and individuality, it's about creation.
(12:37 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Blogger's Impasse
- I don't want to write about national politics, because it seems to be completely hopeless. People are clinging to the hopes that the Democrats will save us simply because the Democrats are the only possibility other than Republicans. The Democrats, however, are under no obligation to save us.
- I don't want to write a personal post, because I can't figure out a way to do it that doesn't fall into the trap of adolescent drama.
I don't even have the meta-anxiety of worrying that nothing's going wrong so something really bad must be on the way -- instead, I have a meta-meta-anxiety at the fact that my life seems basically good and I expect it to continue as such. When did I become that kind of person? Am I boring now? Will people like me if I'm not a bundle of neuroses?
There are so many problems associated with not having any problems. I don't know how to deal with it. If my life continues to hold together, it is going to fall apart.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
(11:39 PM) | Brad:
Friday Morning ConfessionalWhen I was a child, I used to confess sins prior to committing them. I knew what I wanted to do, say, steal Boxer Smurf from Hill's Department Store, and I knew that what I wanted to do was wrong, that I would in fact burn in hell, or at least suffer the gothic wrath of a southern mother unafraid to toe the line between corporal punishment and child abuse; but I assumed that a little preemptive penance would help me bear the brunt of whatever punishment might be meted out, be it divine or maternal. At some point, I began confessing my sins, in flagantre. I could be, you might say, something of a buzz kill. "This is so wrong, this is so wrong," for instance, is not normally something you want to say while lighting a bottle rocket you and two friends have every intention of aiming at a Spanish teacher's car. It has a tendency to dampen the mood, if not the wick that's being lit. That is to say, confessing a wrong never stopped me from finishing what I'd started. (The same goes for "I don't even know you, and I will leave the hotel immediately after we're finished, so why am I letting you blow me!")
Of course, at some point I finally got things right temporally. I learned to confess things after the fact. Were I smarter, or simply more morally attuned, I suppose I might've learned this much earlier in life. After all, when I was six or seven, I once woke up my brother and recounted a litany of things most foul I'd done in my life -- from burning a raccoon (not to death, just w/ a lighter), to burning his homework (also with a lighter), to blaming him for burning a potato in the microwave to the point of it exploding and leaving the remains for somebody else to clean up. When I realized he was not listening, I woke up my parents and confessed even more things that weighed heavily on my adolescent soul, such as showing my willy to the girl next door in exchange for her letting me play with her pet rabbit, who incidentally either died or ran/hopped away (depending on who you asked) one week later. When my parents also told me to shut up and go to bed, though, I realized nobody was at all burdened by my sins, and that as such their full weight was never removed, but only momentarily shifted like a heavy bag of groceries or a fat baby. This inability to unburden myself of the guilt, or if not the guilt, the shame, or if not the same, the responsibility, ultimately explains the initial attraction to atonement theology. And yet I also credit this realization as the root of remembrance & memory never being a strong suit, thus damning me to average standardized test scores and eternal perdition.
But if sin is like a sickness, maybe there's hope still! For now there is a precision to my memory when it comes to being ill. Would that I could recall and my confess my sins as well as I recollect the effect of going ten days in Belgium without crapping. What would happen to my faith, that which never fully returned when I lost my sacrificial savior, if I could identify my moral culpability with the clarity of my memory of being interviewed by a perky-breasted security guard at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, while ten-day-old shit poisoned me nearly to the point of organ failure, of my sweating and mumbling, "Oh God, I can't do this," of being rushed through the metal detector with my B-cupped interrogator yelling directions to the bathroom down the stairs and to the right, of my inability even to make it halfway to the stairs before vomitting into the side of an ashtray-trashcan whose ashtray component could not be removed and was filled with the butts of the security staff's cigarettes, and of standing up and discovering at least 100 people staring at me from the other side of the glass partition that separated the cleared-for-boarding and yet-to-be-cleared-for-boarding? Would this memory itself, then, become as though a religious allegory, and perhaps even turned into a aesthetically-suspect big-budget film that itself ends up being forgotten? Or would it simply give me something more specific to confess, thus meeting the Kotsko-given criteria for Friday Confessional?
Though you cannot carry my own confessional burden, you can at least make this Confessional that which we know & love. The comment box awaits ....
(6:29 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Bleeding Edge of BlognologyWith that title, we are also on the bleeding edge of neologisms based on the word "blog." Anyway, as you may have noticed, I have implemented a new "recent comments" feature. (Apparently this feature has been available for a while, but I only realized it in the last couple days.)
There are some drawbacks to this feature -- for one, it's sometimes nice to keep unbridled id within the comment sections, but more importantly, every morning the indicator is going to be nothing but spam comments. There are three people (by my count) who currently have administrator access to the comments, and they do good work, but spammers are relentless, sometimes even posting new comments while I'm in the process of cleaning out spam. More volunteers are always helpful (contact me via e-mail), but this is not a battle we can ever definitively win.
In any case, I'd like to continue to experiment with this and will perhaps move this further down the template, most likely below the "recent posts" box, just to keep to a minimum the frequency of the word "fuck" on the text that is immediately visible. I have had certain family conflicts as a result of the use of the word "fuck" in prominent places on the blog, and more generally I would like to avoid the social opprobrium associated with the use of the word "fuck." Also, Emerson used to make a lot of bestiality references, and I am not confident we've seen the last of it.
So, now that we've got that out of the way: we've got a great blog lined up for you here, with a confession by Brad Johnson tomorrow. Will he be shriven? Will he shrive? Tune in to find out!
(6:57 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
(Sorry about these shit and garbage posts but with this one I just had to...)
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
(5:37 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Stomach TroubleLately my stomach has been bothering me, and I can't figure out exactly why. My diet has remained unchanged:
- Breakfast: One grapefruit and/or two oranges. Throughout the morning I normally make it through one and a half to two pots of coffee (black).
- Lunch: A chorizo burrito with extra beans and a side of jalepeno poppers (cream cheese). Throughout the course of the afternoon, I normally nurse a fifth of vodka; depending on the day, I'm finished with it anywhere between five and eight.
- Dinner: A large sausage pizza from Little Caesar's, with a cup of "Crazy Sauce" for dipping the crust. Also, I drink between two and five cans of Busch Light (more if Prison Break is on).
(9:36 AM) | John Emerson:
October surpriseBillmon says that the naval task force will reach the Persian Gulf about Oct. 21, less than three weeks before the election.
The Democrats should have been warning against an October surprise ever since about March, but it's one of the things they forgot to do. They should start now -- it still might not be too late. The voters need be told that pre-election military action against Iran will be nothing but electioneering.
The wheels are falling off Bush's cart, and war is the only card he has left.
(9:22 AM) | John Emerson:
Christians will be judged tooThe big reason for the anti-gay fervor within the hard right is that it puts down a moral floor. Normal sleazy backsliding Christians can always say "I'm a sinner, I've succumbed to temptation many times and I probably will do so again -- but I've never done anything as disgusting as that. And I never will."
Sleazy Christians think of Jesus the way they think of their connection at the county courthouse -- a get-out-of-hell-free card. "I may not seem like a believer, but Jesus is there when I need him", one scuzzbag told me.
One day the real Christians (wrong-headed as they are in some respects) are going to understand how badly they've been used, and how their combination of self-righteousness, ignorance, and political cynicism (politics is the fallen world, so anything goes there) has caused them to become evil.
Christians will be judged too.
Bonus: Republican Sex Criminals
(8:29 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Note on RacismI think it's probably racist to claim that historical figures from Africa aren't really African "as we think of it today," particularly since this definition of African almost always ends up excluding Africans who have made decisive contributions to European culture -- Augustine being the prime example of this phenomenon.
(Technically, I suppose there could be a sense in which King David wasn't really Jewish "as we think of it today," but stating it in that way sounds suspicious, does it not?)
(7:18 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Ask a stupid question...So, how well do you think Alain Badiou would get on with Harold Bloom?
More mismaches made in heaven in the comments please!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
(7:03 AM) | m. leblanc:
Tuesday Hatred: Guantánamo EditionI hate the bill that Congress just passed that strips detainees at Guantánamo of the right to file writs of habeas corpus. I hate the word "detainees," because it's become a code word for "terrorists," "brown people," and "people who are not us." I hate that even though I hate "detainees," I don't have a better word to use. Trying to talk to people who are not commenters on blogs about the legislation has been a nearly fruitless exercise, save a couple of guys who called their senators because I told them to, and I hate that. Among the things I hate that people have said to me are the following words and/or phrases: "terrorists," "Islamofascism," "tough interrogation tactics," and "keeping America safe." Not to mention "detainees."
I hate that we talk about things like "waterboarding" without knowing what those things look like [hint: it looks like this (via Unfogged)].
I hate that we are laboring under the misconception that the torture battle is being fought over people overseas, and that it is something that does not happen in American prisons. I hate that our racism and classism prevents us from caring about what happens to poor African-American and Arab men, and that we don't seem to mind, as a culture, if they live in filth, are mistreated, absued, tortured, and deprived of their constitutional rights at home and abroad. I'm doing anything I possibly can to help these people, and what I do is still nothing. I hate that I have political ambitions which will never be realized because I'm a woman, an Arab-American, and on the far political left. I hate that I envision political power as the best way to effect change, because it's the only paradigm that I really understand, and that I'm wrong, because even if despite all odds I were to gain some political influence, my ideas of compassion and effective, sane, non-kneejerk policy would fall on deaf ears.
I hate that our political system is broken: a democracy such as the one we imagine our country to be can't exist without a free and frank exchange of ideas. What I hate is that it is no longer our government that silences us; we silence ourselves, by not caring, by caring but resigning ourselves to defeat, by thinking that the political engine of democracy is a hurtling freight train over which we have little control. I hate that thinking one is impotent effectively makes one so.
UPDATE: Go and give some Tuesday Love.