Thursday, November 30, 2006
(12:50 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Shallow Academic TrendsDoes it seem to anyone else that Rosenzweig is becoming downright trendy lately?
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
(2:51 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
All possible combinationsDoes it seem to anyone else that the thing commonly called "rabbinic tradition" is basically a repository of every possible thing that could be said? I'm sure that everyone I've read quoting "rabbinic tradition" actually has sources to back it up, but sometimes I feel like I could just make up a bizarre anecdote or quotation, claim it was from the "rabbinic tradition," and completely get away with it.
Perhaps this could serve as an open thread to try to come up with sentences or stories that would not be believable excerpts from "rabbinic tradition" (anachronism excepted).
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
(12:06 AM) | Ben Wolfson:
Tuesday Hatred: If an angel were ever to tell us anything of his philosophy I believe many propositions would sound like 2 times 2 equals 13.Today, in additional to the hatred by me to which you have over the course of this month grown somewhat accustomed, falling each Tuesday into the gentle rhythms of my prose as into a warm buoyant sea of amniotic fluid (amniotic fluid's specific gravity isn't much higher than water's, it's not particularly buoyant, but this sea is salted with tears—tears of hatred!) into which you've been shoved lightly by one of your friends who thinks you'd enjoy it, it's no big deal anyway, why would you get so upset?, because the GOD___DAMN__FUCKER doesn't realize that you're a little TENSE right now and want to be left alone/he or she just ruined your new shoes/shirt/pants/dress/wallet/money/important documents you were carrying in your shoes/shirt/pants/dress/wallet/money or for whatever other reason, and now the whole rest of the day has this unpleasant pallor on it even though everyone's being polite and no one wants to admit that you should all just go home, cut your losses, etc—in addition to that, there will some guest hatred by the lovely and talented A White Bear (I didn't check this with Adam, so don't tell him, k? thx.). It will be below my hatred, because I hate being upstaged.
You won't have to wait (or scroll) long, though; my hatred's rather short this week. There are no fewer things I hate, but only one that I hate with a graceful, effortless lambency, only one thing the hatred of which casts its glow over all my life. Lemme run down the sitch for you. I thought that, next quarter, I'd be able to TA (first time TAing ev4r w00!) this course. Note how it seems like a good course and how I would be a super-awesome TA for it. However, it has now come up that I can't, for two reasons, each of which would have been sufficient on its own, but whose combination is one than which none deadlier is concievable. First, another student with greater seniority than I have was assigned to it, something about which I really can't complain. Second, its first half overlapped with the second half of one of the two courses (in the philosophy department) I really wanted to take, and its second half with the first half of the other of the tc(itpd)Irwtt. So, that's bad, and I was put on a different course. However it also overlaps with the first ottc(itpd)Irwtt, and get this—nearly every other course I've located in other departments that I'd want to take meet at such a time that they too are ruled out! I think it's a sign, I really do.
And now, the Hatred of A White Bear! She has written an interesting and very deep poem in which you might be interested if you find her hatred compelling. It has lots of, like, symbols and shit.
I hate that I love my students. I hate that they love me. I hate that, because I am a female English instructor, I basically have to love them, deeply and genuinely, or I am a bitch. I hate that, even if I were a man, I'd love them anyway.
I hate that they are bad writers. I hate that they went to bad high schools where they never wrote papers. I hate that, even though they are English majors who claim to "luv reading!!1!" they cannot be forced to read their own goddamned work before they turn it in. I hate that they live with their parents, who bust their proverbial balls about "grades" but never leave them alone long enough to do their work well.
I hate that they have never read a poem before, or that they pretend not to. I hate that they begin their papers with lies like "Throughout history, all poems have been, basically, about love," when they are fully aware that this is not true for any kind of love recognizable to them, nor any kind of poem I'd teach in my class. I hate that they call poems "pieces," that they call poetics "approaches," and that they compare two poems by writing, "These two poems are in comparison with each other. They are different, but also similar in some ways." I hate that their grandest thesis statements declare, "These two poems have in common that they are really effective at expressing the authors' emotions."
I hate that I had to give half of them C's. I hate the looks on their faces. I hate that I had to lecture on how being vague is actually bad. I hate that I had to tell them that it is not reasonable to carry a paper by the corner like a stinky turd to the professor's desk without once glancing over it oneself. I hate that I spoiled the last ten minutes of an otherwise fun discussion class by being a Debbie Downer.
I hate that my favorite student asked me to lunch afterwards, even though she knew she got a bad grade. I hate that she wasn't mad at me even a little bit. I hate that the only solid A in the class went to the kid who sits in the back pretending to be asleep, but whose daily in-class writings are genius. I hate that I don't even know what I'm accomplishing sometimes.
I hate that I spent my whole Sunday banging my head against the wall and writing hurtful (hurtful!) things in the margins of a stack of papers by twenty-one-year-olds who thought they'd impress me with their fancee stylings on Renaissance poetry. I especially hate that I still have 25 papers to grade from my afternoon section. Most of all, I hate the fact that we could all be doing something way more fun with our Monday night than fretting over stupid, bad, half-assed poetry analyses, like, for example: making pecan pie, trying that new restaurant down the block, or getting laid. We could all be leading full lives, but instead, we are all grumpy tonight, all over the five boroughs.
Monday, November 27, 2006
(8:21 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Monday Prison Break BloggingTonight's episode was very satisfying, easily the best of the second season. I just wonder how it came about that the most human-seeming characters -- namely Kellerman (Secret Service guy) and Mahone (FBI guy) -- are the mid-level functionaries of the evil conspiracy.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
(4:56 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Coffee SingularityIt would seem that in my neighborhood, there are six coffee shops in the space of two city blocks. Outside of this primary concentration, there are several satellite areas where one or two coffee shops can be found. There are two possible outcomes for this situation. The simplest would be that certain coffee shops would be driven out of business by market pressures. The disadvantage of this solution is that it assumes a relatively stable underlying demand for coffee, such that the number of coffee shops can, in the long term, be brought into proper relation to it.
The other outcome is more likely: namely, that the increased number of coffee shops will produce an increased demand for coffee. There are several vacant storefronts in the neighborhood that could easily be converted into coffee shops -- the "general store" that's been closed since I moved here, along with the "big and tall" store that is currently in the process of closing. These businesses belong to the "old economy." When they are converted to coffee shops, our neighborhood will become a major hub in the "new economy" -- producing not discrete commodities, but rather time itself in the form of sleeplessness. This will create a feedback loop prompting the coffee shops to stay open 24 hours; local residents will flock to them desperately, sensing that a headache of world-historical proportions awaits them if they allow caffeine withdrawal the slightest foothold.
Certainly we all laughed at The Onion's invocation of Starbucks' "sinister phase two" -- meaning that it struck a chord in our political unconscious. Yet it is only now that we are beginning to understand that Starbucks is not the primary agent in this "phase two" of coffee culture -- indeed, is just as much caught in the flow of events as anyone else. As our bodies adjust to the historic shift of coffee from a breakfast beverage to an all-purpose social and professional lubricant, biology and economics begin to work together to produce a condition that can only be described as the wholesale zombification of the populations of the advanced capitalist countries.
We knew this was coming, this zombification. We may have originally expected it to come from the United Kingdom -- an understandable mistake -- but now we recognize that the "England" of the zombie movies is but a cipher for "late capital" as such. Similarly, we may have expected zombification to take hold first of all in a suburban shopping mall -- but again, we can now see that the "truth" of the shopping mall is in fact the urban "main drag" that has itself become re-suburbanized, the high incidence of Potbelly's outlets in our erstwhile urban centers serving as something of an index of the progress of this latter process. That it would happen precisely here, precisely in Chicago, has taken me -- and probably all of us -- a little bit off guard. We must, however, leave the analysis of the inner necessity of this occurence to future generations -- now is not the time for historical reflection, but for the stockpiling of ammunition.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
(11:25 AM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
The Pervasive Odor of The New YorkerAppropriately, this week's issue -- a "special" issue devoted to this periodical's inimitable cartoons, though not yet a "very special" issue that no parent should miss -- features, at minimum, two scent samples, one for each gender. Their marketing department has finally caught up with what has long been our deepest cultural intuition: namely, that nothing says "glamour" like a Chris Ware cover.
(An aside: Does it seem to anyone else that Seymour Hersh will be deeply disappointed if Bush doesn't invade Iran -- to the point of either suicide or, more likely, attempting to start the war himself?)
(9:40 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Necessity of MarxismMarxist analysis continues to be necessary. To be sure, endless exegesis of Marx himself is not likely to be very productive -- he was dealing with a very early phase of capitalism and in any case was unable to complete his full projected work of political economy, meaning that certain topics are treated only very briefly or unconvincingly, most notably finance capital. But if Marx fundamentalism is untenable, nevertheless it seems that his core insights into the internal contradictions of capitalism are correct. Capitalism, "left to itself," tends toward self-destruction, and the rolling disaster that we call the history of capitalism is finally nothing but a series of attempts to buy more time. Even the most robust of those measures, namely Fordism-Keynesianism, could not even sustain itself for a full thirty years.
All this implies that the point of Marxism is to understand capital. Yet Marxism is normally understood to be, "in the last analysis," a theory of revolution, a theory that will allow the proletariat to recognize the time for revolution and perform its world-historical duty of seizing the means of production in order to abolish all classes by abolishing itself. I have suggested that the moment has actually already passed, but in any case, such a moment does not seem to be immediately forthcoming. Yet is it really a matter of waiting for the right moment? It is not entirely clear, for instance, whether Marx and Engels envision the dictatorship of the proletariat as necessarily coming after a total crisis, or whether more benign means such as parliamentarism are possible -- the latter hope was abandoned, but apparently for pragmatic rather than principled reasons. The dictator takes power in an emergency -- yet what is capitalism except a protracted emergency? (This concept of dictatorship as it applies to the proletariat requires more attention.)
If Marxism isn't to be a theory of revolution, then what is it to be? Perhaps it is the case that ultimately only Marxists can save capitalism -- and in fact only Marxists would want to save capitalism. Communism comes not to abolish capitalism, but to fulfill it. All of the main features of capitalism, particularly the drive toward growth, are present, yet it is hoped that the elmination of class conflict would produce a type of capitalism that would somehow finally manage to correspond to itself. The Marxist doesn't hate capitalism -- in fact, capitalism is the greatest thing ever to happen. (Even reading something as heart-wrenching as the account of the garbage dump in the Phillipines in this month's Harper's, one marvels at the sheer overabundance of capitalism, such that a whole population can support itself by living off of its waste.) Rather, the Marxist wants to control capitalism. Communism is capitalism -- just a little different.
Friday, November 24, 2006
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: OverstuffedI confess that I had a good Thanksgiving at the Jennings/Case residence and that I'm glad that I chose to stay here in Chicago to allow myself a few days to relax without the stress of travel. I confess that grading my papers before leaving for AAR was the best decision I've ever made in my entire life.
I confess that I am often derided by the other north side residents at CTS for taking the Brown Line all the way from downtown rather than taking the supposedly "faster" Red Line for part of the way. Today I confess that I was vindicated. At Belmont, there was a Red Line train right across the tracks, and a woman from my train transferred (sub-confession: I take inventory of all women on trains and buses with me). After I got off at Library (State and Van Buren) to stand at the bus stop, that very same woman came out of the Van Buren exit for the Red Line Jackson stop. The trains left at the exact same time, and the Red Line now has the added advantage that the Washington stop is closed -- yet I still got to the exact same place slightly faster.
I confess that I'm a total dork about transit-related issues. I confess that The Girl was right about the superiority of the DC Metro system -- exactly whose idea was this "elevated train" thing? But damn it -- our rational grid system for streets in Chicago is way better. DC is halfway there with the underlying grid, but then they have arbitrary circles with various diagonal streets jutting in every conceivable direction. It was sheer bedlam!
I confess that while I was in DC, I made arrangements to go hang out with (and possibly even stay with) various characters from Unfogged such as Becks and Armsmasher, but I got distracted and totally blew it off. I confess that over the course of the conference, "she looks like Kotsko's type" became a euphemism for "she's a lesbian." I confess that my one (failed) attempt at a hook up was with someone who turned out to be what the kids call a "fag hag," and the irony is not lost on me.
I confess that after seeing that Mike (my roommate) made a mix CD for his girlfriend, I decided that I would try to make a mix CD that would satisfy three (very) different women simultaneously. I'm listening to the result right now, and I have to say: I'm getting performance anxiety. I confess that it features a couple old standards from past Kotsko mixes, but none of these women have received any of them, so they'll never know unless they read this blog -- which they shouldn't, because they're students and have better things to do.
I confess that I'm posting this way early, because I feel some really serious oversleeping coming on.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
(8:41 AM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
Happy ThanksgivingWhether you're spending the holiday with your family, your in-laws, your friends, your co-workers at Arby's, your one-night stand from last night, your cats, or the hostages you've taken at the convenience store, please remember: the reason for the season is unrestrained gluttony. Don't pass the sweet potatoes until you're good and ready.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
(4:47 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Founding the GenreFor whatever reason, I was just thinking about The Producers, specifically the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David forgets the line that states the entire premise of the musical. In any case, in pondering the "musical about a musical," or (in the terminology of this blog) "meta-musical," I was wondering -- is it possible to found a new genre in meta-mode? Now that they're established, we can make a movie about making a movie, etc. -- but can we found a new genre by making an artistic product in that genre that's about making an artistic product in that genre? If it were possible, would that genre then be always and forever meta? (This of course assumes that we have genres that aren't meta.)
And what about the possibility of founding a new genre indirectly? That is, if our new genre was called a blork, would it be possible to found the genre of blork by writing a novel about a blorkist? What if the novel included no blorks or excerpts of blorks?
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
(10:00 PM) | Dominic:
Winning the Brother for Christ (i)The topic of conviviality, or “life together”, is one in which both politics and theology have a declared interest; so much so that it is sometimes possible (albeit often unwise) to treat political and theological formulations of the matter in an analogous fashion. There have been monasteries run like communes, and vice versa; there have been political and spiritual vanguards with strikingly similar conceptions of their relationship to the wider social or ecclesiastical body. By the same token, the ancient jibe at the Church of England as “the Tory party at prayer” was not only a piece of psephological observation: it identified a structural feature of the church, a common style of spiritual architecture. To be “a bit of a lefty” in the established Anglican Church is even now to be a more-or-less cosseted maverick.
Archbishop Rowan Williams is not by nature a maverick, for all that his professed enthusiasm for the novels of Philip Pullman and the music of the Incredible String Band may seem to declare him one. The maverick is a parasite upon normalcy, deploying a kind of anti-camouflage in order to remain at all times in the foreground. Such stylish temporizing cannot long endure the kind of lucidity with which Donald MacKinnon perceived the historical situation of the church; and Dr Williams, whatever his differences with Professor MacKinnon, is an heir to that lucidity. Accordingly, the Desert Fathers, as they appear in his short introduction Silence and Honey Cakes, are not a thrillingly truculent collection of militant anchorites, repudiating the hypocrisies and spiritual compromises of their age in a kind of tonsured adolescent sulk. Neither are they cosseted; above all, they are not self-cosseting.
The Desert Fathers’ flight into the desert, to the solitude of their cells, was not an evasion of conviviality, an abrogation of responsibility for one another, but an attempt to confront, to take the measure of, the irresponsibility of hasty and compulsive speech and action. That haste and that compulsion they knew as sin, and as their own nature, which they recognised not only as occluding their own “personal relationship” to God but also - and far more seriously - as obstructing the salvation of others.
Williams begins with the observation that “[o]ther people in their actual material reality do make things a lot more difficult, when what we think we want is spirituality – the cultivation of a sensitive and rewarding relationship with eternal truth and love”, and poses the Desert Fathers as delivering an “uncompromising message” in response to this impulse: “[t]he actual substance of our relationship with eternal truth and love is bound up with how we manage the proximity of [our] human neighbours”. This is undoubtedly true enough as far as it goes; but what emerges from Williams’s account of the desert monastics is a somewhat more radical inversion of priorities. What we have to fear is not that others will somehow mangle our quietus with their noisome proximity, which we must therefore “manage” in order to maintain a spiritually nurturing conviviality, but that the very faculties and powers with which we might hope to obtain mastery of the situation cannot fail to express themselves in guilty and destructive ways.
The next time Williams speaks of “management”, then, it is in the context of the exercise of a stifling dominion over others:
Jesus himself speaks bluntly about this when he describes the religious enthusiasts of his day shutting the door of the Kingdom in the face of others: “You do not enter yourselves, and when others try to enter, you stop them” (Matthew 23:13). And he goes on to describe how such people exert themselves to gain even one convert, but because they are only trying to make others in their own image, they make them twice as worthy of condemnation as themselves. The desert teachers are well aware that by fleeing to the isolation of prayerful communities they do not automatically leave behind this deep-rooted longing to manage the access of other people to God. This is why they insist upon an ever-greater honesty about the self…because everyone is drawn almost irresistibly back towards this urge to manage.
The discipline of the Desert Fathers is to “die to oneself”, to renounce judgement and to “cover” the sins of others by admitting even greater sins of one’s own. One can imagine this escalating into a bidding war; but the point is not to spur one’s interlocutors on to ever greater heights of confessional loquacity, but simply to enable others to confront their own failings honestly. The example of Macarius explicitly connects this personal kenosis with the imitation of Christ: “Of Macarius we read, in an unforgettable image, that ‘he became like a God on earth’ because when he saw the sins of the brothers he would ‘cover’ them, just as God casts his protection over the world”.
Williams’s account draws out two contrasting kinds of reciprocity in the Desert Fathers’ accounts of the vicissitudes of common life. In the first, my self-satisfaction and desire to make others in my own image causes my sins to become reflected and magnified in others: whenever I “judge” and “manage”, my sinful nature is revealed to me in the distortions it wreaks on others’ lives. In the second, my self-abrogation and openness to grace becomes the occasion for others to “face mercifully” what they are then drawn to admit about themselves. This second reciprocity is known as “winning” the neighbour: “the neighbour is won, or converted, by Macarius’s ‘death’ to any hint of superiority in his vision of himself. He has nothing to defend, and he preaches the gospel by simple identification with the condition of another, a condition they cannot themselves face honestly”.
If nothing else this is admirable psychological ju-jitsu, and testifies to both the seriousness and the deftness with which the desert teachers addressed the problems of emotional discipline in a “prayerful community”. But there is more to it than that, as Williams makes clear in his discussion of the significance of the Desert Fathers for the contemporary church:
Inevitably we think in terms of winning and losing, of this or that controversy which must be resolved in accordance with God’s will so that we prevail in God’s name. It isn’t that the desert tradition knows nothing of controversy, of course; these documents come to us from an age compared with which many of our squabbles are pretty tea-partyish. It is simply that they leave us with the question of whether any particular victory in the constant and supposedly invigorating life of debate leaves some people more deeply alienated from God – and the nastier question of what we are going to do about it if that is so.
There follows a statement of principle: “The church is a community that exists because something has happened which makes the entire process of self-justification irrelevant”. The frustrations of Anglican liberals who would have liked to have had hedgehog-song-humming Rowan Williams as a champion in the highest of places within the church hierarchy are largely owing, I believe, to the Archbishop’s commitment to this principle; likewise the fury of those who demand that “church leaders” act as a kind of megaphone for their own necessarily distorted sense of righteousness.
(5:06 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
AAR/SBL Post-BloggingEverything went very well.
I met several people for the first time, including Old Doug Johnson, Travis (once and future lurker), Josh (JD)'s wife Danielle -- along with various celebrities in the field of theology, such as Tom Altizer, Creston Davis (the apparent center of all theological events), Yvonne Sherwood, Dale Martin, Conor Cunningham, and Graham Ward (a true saint among men). I had an opportunity to meet Caputo, but chose instead to run off to the bathroom -- my small bladder will be the death of me in terms of networking. Ultimately, though, hanging out with my peers (including surprise appearances by Adam Robinson and Jeff Snowbarger) was more exciting than meeting the august personages.
The so-called "Weblog panel" was a great success. My rather harsh paper received a rather harsh response from Conor Cunningham -- but both proved to be entertaining for all involved, something of a change of pace after the very intense and rigorous papers from Josh Davis and Dan Barber. Graham Ward's response was wonderfully diplomatic and supportive of the efforts of us young upstarts, and there may be some possibility of future events as a follow-up to this panel. So that was great -- much better than I expected, even. We all stand in Nate's debt for organizing this and for clarifying to the (surprisingly large) audience what our real goals were, and if anything comes of it in the future, we'll stand even more in his debt. (I hope he will accept an ironic but weirdly aggressive paper as my repayment.)
In a funny exchange with Ted about that session, he said that it was a relief that someone actually mentioned Marx in the course of the discussion. I asked, "Who mentioned Marx? I don't remember that." He said: "You did -- you quoted the Communist Manifesto!" I was pretty tired at that point.
My other panel this morning was well-attended and very interesting. Brad Johnson's excellent co-written paper was only enhanced by pervasive references to pornography and the moral valence of coveting one's neighbor's ass in ancient Greece, and Ward Blanton in particular had a fascinating paper in which he related the "Paul trend" to the goals of 19th-century biblical scholarship. I also had the opportunity to awkwardly act as though I had an easy familiarity with Dale Martin, something that helped to spice up a paper (viz., mine) that was sadly lacking in laughs.
The other sessions I attended were the one based around Ted's book on Derrida and Paul (the missed opportunity to meet Caputo) and one on torture -- both were great. In the Q&A of the torture session, I briefly got to discuss 24 with distinguished biblical scholars, a rare treat.
The meeting for student liaisons -- an early morning affair that required me to arrive much earlier than otherwise would've been necessary -- was on some levels uninspiring, but one moment redeemed it. The executive director of the AAR came for part of the meeting to discuss student concerns, one of which was practices in interviews. A variety of inappropriate behaviors were listed -- asking a candidate if they're gay, if they're married, if they have kids, if they go to church, etc., plus things like interviewing after (or during) drinking -- and he assured us that the AAR would try to develop policies that would prevent such things. His exact words were an inspiring clarion call: "We are committed to being appropriate." Apparently, as a result of sitting through that meeting I'll get reimbursed for some of my expenses -- a year from now. They did have a nice continental breakfast, though.
All the other stuff was good, too: receptions, the interviews with candidates for CTS's open New Testament position,the heroic effort to discern precisely how long a man can live on starches alone, etc. So yeah -- I'll probably go again next year.
(Everyone else can share their own experiences in the comments to remedy my radical narcissism.)
(2:40 AM) | Ben Wolfson:
Tuesday Hatred: an occasionally excessive use of the wind instrumentsI hate books in which the notes for each chapter are at the end of this chapter. Ideally, a note scheme would combine the ease of reading notes in context of footnotes with the ease of locating notes and reading a bunch of notes out of context (something I, at least, like doing) of endnotes. I hate the dustiness around my computer, which is hard to clean because it would require unplugging my computer and moving it and actually, since the vacuum is so sucky, probably moving the entire desk, too, and then putting everything back and oh the pain, the pain of it all! I hate that, as a result of having moved my computer out to another room (the better to lose at a game while drinking scotch) and then putting it back, I have inhaled a snootful of dust and am sneezing and whatnot.
I hate how little work I did today, and how much money I gave out. I hate, too, having apparently lost a library book—I'm going to keep renewing it in the hope of finding it eventually, though. The strategy adduced in the preceding sentence demonstrates in nuce many bad personality traits of mine.
I'm moderately upset not have any Thanksgiving plans, because of an abrupt change in the plans of one of my peers.
Monday, November 20, 2006
(8:50 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
5K... rumored amount Zizek commands for appearances. Since AAR didn't pony up, no appearance thus far. Though the same source, who apparently talked with him by phone yesterday, says that there's still an outside chance he'll be there tonight. But he's due at a book shop in NYC at 10pm. 5 hour train ride from D.C. to NYC. weblog panel from 4-6:30. Highly doubtful.
Plenty to say later. Lots of first time meetings last night after wine (mostly courtesy of the Duke reception) had entered into various bloodstreams. Brad, Adam, JD, and Nate - plus some lurkers or occasional commenters such as Travis, and, of course, Discard.
Friday, November 17, 2006
(8:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: My Plighted TrothI confess that at some point in the last week, I made the transition from "growing a beard" to "having a beard." This is a follow up to my previous transition away from "thinking about growing a beard" to "actually growing a beard."
I confess that tonight I am catching a flight to Washington, D.C. I confess that I still don't like travel, but since most of my friends will be there, I might as well go too. I confess that I'm pondering the possibility of staying in Chicago for Thanksgiving, even though I've already purchased a train ticket home. (I have not purchased a return ticket, though. Maybe I'm worried that if I go, I'll never be able to come back.)
I confess that scheduling my arrival in DC for around 11pm was a little impractical, but it is part of my strategy to limit the amount of time that I am away from home to a bare minimum. I confess that finishing all my grading before the AAR would be wonderful.
I confess that I am reluctant to discuss theology except as a matter of intellectual history and that most often I literally walk away if someone asks me about my own personal beliefs, or even if the conversation seems to be heading in that direction
I confess that if there were a grad course offered over Deleuze somewhere in Chicago this spring, I would take it. (If anyone knows of one, he or she can let me know.)
I confess that I haven't been at my best lately. I'm not angry, though -- just disappointed.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
(8:22 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
Pufferfish Brain-Fucking Out Incident
There is a pufferfish restaurant just down the road from me which has a fish tank in the window were all the fish are supposed to be waiting patiently to be devowered by the well-paying punters. Only on this occasion as I passed the restaurant window this was not the case. The fish were not waiting patiently. They were all piling themselves up rear end first over the fish tank bubble-dispensing equipment thingy and I am sure, infact there is no doubt about it, this was entirely to do with pleasure. Those little fishies looked as if they were in absolute ecstasy. This reminded me of that Zizek anecdote about the hamster getting his brain fucked out. After careful consideration I am now absolutely positive that all the pufferfish in the tank down my road were getting their brains fucked out. This makes me wonder if the real point of the anecdote is that all of the worldly creatures around us are, when it comes to the crunch, just human, all too human.
(6:10 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
A Response to Fr. Hart: On Donatism, History and TheologyThis is a guest post from JD in response to some comments at The Anglican Continuum arising from my earlier post. -APS
Fr. Robert Hart,
I do not know why you feel the need to mock your audience? It is interesting that you did not address that aspect of my observations. But, on to more substantive issues.
First of all, I did not say enough about the Donatist controversy for you to make the assumptions that you do. Second, I never said that Augustine said that anything that merely approached the semblance of a sacrament was a sacrament.
Since, I agree with your teacher's assessment of a theologian, let's back up and really do some history, shall we?
What is really at issue in the Donatist controversy is how to interpret Cyprian's writings in the midst of the controversies surrounding the immediate aftermath of the Decian persecution. The specific text in question is On the Unity of the Catholic Church, which has its own problems of interpretation because Maurice Bévenot isolated two different versions of the text, which also suggest a third.
As best we can tell, the original received text was most likely written by Cyprian in the Spring of 251 and was intended to exhort the faithful of his congregation and rebuke the lapsed in their midst. The point of this version was to combat the growing notion that a written statement from an imprisoned, and soon to be executed martyr, could circumvent the bishop and provide forgiveness and reinstatement to the lapsed. Cyprian's point is that only the bishop can forgive sins.
Now, the second manuscript, found by Bévenot, varies the argument. And, as Bévenot notes, it appears to be a different version of the same argument sent to the bishops in Rome in the Summer of 251. This latter version emphasizes, not simply the prerogative of any single bishop, but the unity of the episcopal college itself as the locus of forgiveness. The argument, however, throughout both is for the unity of first the local, then the global church, and this in the face of both "laxists" and "rigorists" in North Africa. (The third revision of the text was most likely produced during the rebaptism controversy of 256, and I may make a few notes about it, but not presently.)
Now, all that needs to be noted here, for our purposes, is that Cyprian comes to see, even in the midst of this one argument, that the power to forgive sins does not reside in the single, local bishop, but is a "unified power" passed on directly from Christ and shared by the episcopate as a whole. (Cf. Cyprian's "Letter 33," e.g.)
Now, all of this is only important insofar as it is rooted in a logic of ritual purity. Cyprian did not believe that secret sins or improper performance of rituals contaminated the community, but he did insist that schism was a form of idolatry, and as such all rituals performed therein were contaminating. (You can see the sense in which your own logic tracks quite close to this; we will see the significance of it momentarily.) Thus, the importance of the matter lies with the fact that Cyprian did not consider a schismatic minister to be able to sanctify the flock because that minister had abdicated his share in the unified power of the episcopate. Hence, Cyprian requires a great vigilance about adherence to structural forms, precisely for reasons of ritual purification.
Now, when Augustine began to write against the Donatists, this Cyprianic legacy was sacrosanct: he had upheld the unity of the North African Church after the Decian persecution and overcome the difficulties associated with both the laxist and rigorist schisms. And, the fact that he died a martyr under the Valerian persecution only sealed the deal. Thus, it was within this Cyprianic framework that the Donatist controversy even became a possibility.
So, when the Diocletian persecution ended, the North African church was in a situation similar to that surrounding the immediate aftermath of the Decian persecution. And, through a series of events associated with an alleged lapsing of bishop Caecilian, the North African church was forced to revisit the problem of schism. Cyprian’s writings had given the North African Church an understanding of the bishop as a ‘conduit’ for either purity or contamination, in essence. And the Donatists, outraged by the possibility of a faulty conduit, insisted that any Christian united with an apostate bishop must be understood to be ritually contaminated. As such, the Donatists believed themselves to be obliged to withdraw from the larger (contaminated) communion, which had affirmed the validity of Caecilian’s seat. What they sought was a purified line of apostolic succession.
So, taking up Cyprian’s emphasis on purity, but – note this specifically – compromising his insistence on unity, the Donatists continued the practice of rebaptism that had been championed by Cyprian and affirmed by the North African synod (against the bishop of Rome, mind you) in 256. Augustine emerged into this debate as the leader of the catholic party, and he developed his entire argument against the Donatist by turning Cyprian on his head, basically. That is, he more fully developed the logic of sacramentality, away from the notion of ritual purity (the Donatist platform), and emphasized ecclesial purity. (You will note, Augustine’s theory of the Real Presence, ecclesial unity, and the Holy Spirit all converge on this point of unity: it is an interior, loving intentionality that binds the church together; as such, it is “invisible” even while it is visibly manifest.)
What did Augustine say? Well, in On Baptism, the Cyprianic stakes are made clear. The Donatists are arguing that any apostate minister cannot exercise the episcopal power to forgive sins. And (just as the anglicancontinuum argues), they were mostly concerned with the fact that an apostate minister was practicing idolatry. Now the first parts of Book I are concerned with rebaptism, and are not completely important for our present discussion. But there is one decisive point of note: namely, Augustine argued that even Cyprian was wrong for “not distinguishing the sacrament from the effect or use of the sacrament” (On Baptism 6.1.) Their error lies then in the fact that they argue that “[the sacrament’s] effect [here both ordination and baptism] and use were not found among heretics in freeing them from their sins and setting their hearts right, the sacrament was also thought to lacking among them” (Ibid.)
Now, the most important part of the argument pertains to the notion of purity. Augustine argued that even the Donatists could not maintain their own standards of purity precisely because those standards are incorrect. If they were right, then no Christian could ever be certain of the minister’s holiness. But, he says, we are certain that the forgiveness of sins does not rest on such a feeble foundation, and therefore this capacity for forgiveness cannot be understood as a capacity inhering to the minister. Rather, Christ is always the minister of the sacrament “however polluted and unclean its ministers might be” (ibid, 3.15.)
Thus, Augustine demonstrated that sacramental efficacy could not be a matter of the minister’s ritual or moral purity; and, he also separated sacramental validity from any essential unity with episcopal authority (this is the reason, we do not rebaptize.) Augustine says then that even schismatic groups must be understood to have genuine sacraments, even going so far as to say that they can genuinely confer them. What he does not say is that those sacraments are effective for salvation, but note carefully that this argument has absolutely nothing to do with the authority or status of the bishop; rather, it has everything to do with the unity of the church itself, in charity, which the Donatists have broken! Let me say a bit more about this.
Augustine basically reconfigured how a sacrament’s efficacy was to be judged. He did this by conceiving the function of the episcopate as an extension of the church, by subsuming it into the church, and thereby associating the efficacy of a sacrament directly with the universal church as such, operating in the unity of charity (cf. On Baptism 1.16-22.) The efficacy of the sacrament was then to be correlated to the intentions of the recipient; it was not to be a matter of the community within which the ritual was performed, nor was it to be a matter of the moral or ritual condition of the minister. Ritual pollution was solely a matter of the recipient’s intentionality: “because its inherent sanctity cannot be polluted, the divine excellence abides in the sacrament, whether to the salvation of those who use it aright, or to the destruction of those who use it wrongly” (ibid., 3.15.) This meant that ‘true church’ had to be understood henceforth as a matter of internal, charitable intention, rather than external ritual behavior. As such, the Eucharist is the most decisive Christian sacrament insofar as it is the locus where the intention of unity in charity is displayed; and, thus schismatics are de facto, not participating in that union, not manifesting that charity. Beyond this, Augustine insisted that what constituted a true member of the body of Christ was one’s will being united to the saints in love.
And, this incidentally corresponded to Augustine’s realization that John 20:18, which Cyprian had interpreted as referring to the apostles, actually spoke of conferring the Holy Spirit on the disciples. As such, bishops and ministers were simply those endowed with the authority to exercise the communal power operative within the community itself, as the Body of Christ. Note, this authority was tied, not to a power ritually conferred on them by Christ, but to the minister’s status as an instrument of Christ. In this way, the standard of ritual purity is of no real consequence with regard to the minister as such, but rather refers to the society of saints themselves (who are not to be facilely equated with the visible church as such.) Purity is henceforth a matter of intentional charity, and not a matter of ritual purity.
This is what I was noting in my prior comment. And, this is what undermines your most basic arguments against Schori. If you wished to follow the suggestion of my friend, Anthony, and indict her for being a wishy-washy liberal, that is quite ok; and, I would agree. But, indeed, let us actually be clear on what we are claiming when we are charging our leaders with “idolatry.” The consequences, as I have tried to show, could be quite “unorthodox.”
And, thus, if you are not a theologian until you are an historian, then it is I, Fr. Hart, who give you an “F.”
(12:24 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Weblog-Vanderbilt Reception at AAR/SBLJosh Davis has proposed that we have a Weblog-Vanderbilt get-together at the AAR/SBL. The plan is to eat at the District Chophouse and Brewery at around 5:00 on Sunday.
Those wishing to attend can comment or else e-mail me; cell phone numbers can also be distributed as appropriate.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
(11:21 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Wednesday House BloggingA few points:
- This continuing subplot of the police investigation is bullshit.
- Does it seem to anyone else that all the members of House's team have become a lot more annoying this season? Chase was worthless from day one, and I suppose Foreman hasn't changed so much -- but Cameron's lines seem to all be delivered in this sarcastic exasperated tone.
- If I knew Wilson in real life, I think I'd punch him in the face every day.
Also, I have a remark about Prison Break that I will place "beneath the fold," as it seems to be a "spoiler":
Okay, so... there's this recording, on some type of electronic device, and if made public, it would bring down the president. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Namely: anyone who fucking watched the last season of 24?
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
(4:26 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Question for all the real theologians out there.Why the hell would you want to have debates like this? To all the throw back Anglicans, is not your church going the way of the buffalo? And don't you think it a bit convenient for you, the true believers, to have the "priestess" as scapegoat? Fuck that noise. I'll take paganism over this sexist and vaguely racist bullshit any day. I wonder what hope there is for any kind of catholic and orthodox Christianity today to escape from this kind of reactionary bullshit.
Update: Now with an ‘argument’!
Thought I should add some more in case some friends from Vanderbilt drop by. What bothers me about this kind of discourse, which can be summed up as "Kill the witch!", is that it doesn't take seriously our historical situation. As a fellow traveller with Christian orthodoxy I understand why you want your leaders to affirm the fundamental creeds. Even on a PR level it just looks better if your leader says in public, "We have the truth, they don't." I understand that. Really, I do. What I don't understand is why intelligent people refuse to take seriously problems of truth and difference in our inter-faith world, and one could argue the most intelligent philosophical theologians of our age fall into this category. John Milbank and David Bentley Hart leap most immediately to mind, the former has even been very explicit in his affirmation of a certain kind of British (and thus Christian) imperialism in a move that out-Zizeks Zizek and the latter may fall pray to a certain kind of exoticism I've seen in many converts to Eastern Orthodoxy (an exoticism I'm not above!). Now Milbank's views on this are honest if not a little insipid. But I can't help but wonder what amount of bad faith is present here. How much such arguments really matter in the world we live in. It seems to me that the blog I linked to is pretty insular, able to constitute themselves as the remnant saved from destruction.
Now, this seems to be the problem in the Episcopalian church. Everyone is a goddamn martyr. Every aspect of this debate sets themselves up as the victim, the one standing up for God, the future of the church, etc. So the discussion never leaves a kind of fairytale land. We never get to either the absolute or the singular, but skewed versions of them. The homosexual priest. Our orthodoxy vs. their heresy.
Now, from the few interviews I've read with Bishop Jefferts Schori she doesn't appear all that unorthodox. In the interview alluded to by Albion she comes across like a wishy-washy liberal and she probably is! But to declare that she is not a Christian is show one's own lack of Christian humility and charity. (Ah, but DBH wants us at war! I'd provide a link but the website I'm alluding to is down.) In other interviews she's discussed issues of holding people to their baptismal vows and I'm willing to guess she affirms the Nicene creed during the liturgy (assuming her church does the liturgy, though the fact that the low-church evangelical protestant contingent in the Episcopalian church is more likely to agree with Albion should give him pause), which seems to me more important than what she was saying on NPR to a secular audience. That is to say, regardless of how badly she went about it, I read that interview as an attempt to navigate the current situation within her piety. Perhaps the theologians job, whether they be lay or academic, is to enter into the conversation as fellow Christians. To get off of their island and engage the Bishop instead of wishing the Anglican Communion had an Office of the Inquisition.
(12:52 AM) | Ben Wolfson:
Tuesday Hatred: Nomenclature and right namingIt's not unusual for me to express hatred at my perduring singleness, so you might feel that I'm failing in some duty of novelty or perhaps wallowing in self-pity—you'd be right, of course, but that's the sort of thing one should expect to encounter at a bitterness and regret-themed blog, innit? It is, it is, it is. So, yeah, that. I hate it? Though there's always more to say about the hated, of course, I don't actually have that much more to say on this particular occasion. It's nearly two years since the beginning of my last relationship, which has me down :(:(:(:( and hateful whenever I see so-called "happy couples" (think of The Smiths: "two lovers entwined pass me by / and heaven knows I'm miserable now"—you can tell that I'm upset because I'm quoting the fucking Smiths). (Of course given that I haven't mentioned the end of said relationship I can't really expect the point of its beginning to be very meaningful to you; consequently, I don't. In general, I recommend not doing what one is not able to do as a sound and reasonable plan of action.) Consequently, I plan to take vows, or at least, immediately cease caring. Even the latter would be a no-lose proposition: either I end up getting what I secretly really continue to want (win!) or I don't, but expend a lot of energy in convincing myself that I don't care anyway and in being bitter and unpleasant to those around me (nonloss!).
I also hate etymology, or at least, etymological arguments. I hate that the last time I was in the presence of someone making one I lacked the stones, or perhaps had the good sense, not to just ask him what picture of meanings and words underwrote his claims.
(12:39 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Another friend going through divorce. I'm not sure which number divorce this is among my friends and families, but I won't be surprised if many, many more follow. Of course, I have a very idiosyncratic definition of marriage that includes more people than are married in the eyes of the State. Subtract everything away from marriage that is tied to state structures and what do you have? A fidelity to one another that is worked out immanently. I don't even think fidelity as normally understood can be included in a formal definition of marriage, because I know many people in good relationships that have either been unfaithful or have an open relationship and I know people who don’t ‘believe’ in marriage who have a more committed relationship than many married people I know. What is divorce then but a breaking of that fidelity, a fidelity often tied to time more than anything. I pledge to spend time with you. I pledge to give you time. To let you determine what my time will be. Certainly marriage is economic, but in terms of time, not determined structures that are actually chrematistic.
But this is only a formal definition of divorce, it doesn't capture the real of divorce, the nearly demonic aspect of our life. Love is a name we give to something we don't understand, that we find ourselves caught up in, and marriage as fidelity is a testament to that even as it begins to stratify that relationship. So, there is always something that rings false when anyone tries to explain why they love someone else. Even saying that rings false; empty platitude. Of course there is something biological going on there, but even that doesn't explain anything on any meaningful level. Why else would every sane scientist be able to go home? Why else would a scientist feel depressed after the end of a relationship. So, how could we ever understand what causes the end of relationship? It remains unknown just as the cause of our original love is beyond language; beyond determination.
Monday, November 13, 2006
(9:10 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
All ApologiesThis is going to be one of those posts where I think out loud about the course of my studies. I apologize in advance to anyone who is bothered by such posts. (Yes, in addition to being other things, this blog is my personal LiveJournal. That's what makes it so awkward. It's important to me that it be awkward.)
By the end of this semester, I will have completed ten out of my fourteen courses, with one incomplete (my medieval directed reading), which I will finish in January or so. That leaves me with three more to take, one of which is going to be a seminar on Judith Butler in the spring semester. I may only take the one -- I feel like I need to slow down somewhat. Also, I am serving as a TA for a course in Systematic Theology, which should be good experience.
Still, I'm thinking about taking a course at the Div School on Simmel and Weber, team-taught by Mendes-Flohr (about whom I've heard wonderful things) and Riesebrodt (about whom I've heard nothing). There are drawbacks to this because it's a winter quarter class, meaning that it starts in January -- a month I would otherwise have completely off. It would, however, end early compared to my semester course, meaning that I would functionally be taking only two classes at any one time -- during January, the second class would be the completion of the medieval reading course, and after the Div School course, the second class would be completing my stalled preparation for the infamous 20th Century exam, which I could hopefully take before the end of the academic year.
There is also another exam that I think I'm able to take outside of the "comprehensive exam clusterfuck," namely an exam on a "method" in the human sciences. It's presently unclear what exactly this exam would be. In my original course of study, its place was taken by a "Models and Methods" exam that was attached to a required course (similar to 20th Century), but they changed the program so that everyone has to choose their own specific methodological exam, rather than pretending that they're brilliant English professors who can effortlessly master psychoanalysis, phenomenology, anthropology, feminism, etc., etc., on top of their literary stuff. We theology people are lowly and humble of heart -- only one human science at a time for us.
I need to switch around my exams to a certain extent anyway, but I'm sure I can get all that straightened out by the summer. In any case, I could study for that all summer, since I won't have any open-ended incompletes to deal with, take it in the fall, then spend the rest of the year studying for my four "clusterfuck" exams, incidentally squeezing in one more course as the spirit guides me. Chances are, between CTS, the Div School, DePaul, and Northwestern, something cool will be available. I might also continue with more TA positions, if possible -- maybe try History of Christian Thought again, by which time I'd probably be able to teach the whole course myself.
Spring 2008, I'm a bright-eyed ABD, at which point I could try my hand at some adjunct teaching. Hopefully there would still be time to finish the dissertation by the time I'm 30 (Summer 2010). That was the timeframe I had in mind when I assumed I'd totally finish my coursework next semester, and this change basically doesn't affect that much at all. In fact, even if I spread two courses over next academic year, it wouldn't be that big a deal.
After that -- well, I've kind of bracketted that end of things for now. Right now I'm more concerned about where I'm going to fit in Greek.
(10:31 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
CFP: Augustine, Our ContemporaryPolygraph is having a special issue devoted to Augustine. Here is the description:
The Polygraph Editorial Collective invites papers on any aspect of St. Augustine of Hippo's work—on Augustinian concepts; interventions in the history of Augustinian exegesis (or in the exegesis of Augustine's considerable body of work); non-modern, pre-modern, and modern determinations of his thought which inform our own contemporary preoccupations or occlusions; or the assessment of his importance to current theologico-political controversies. Augustine's import to intellectual history has yet to enter the emergent conversation on "political theology" or the phenomenology of religion in any substantial way—a particularly striking absence given the scope of writing by and on Augustine shaping numerous philosophical and theological archives as well as the recent interest in religion (and Paul in particular) across a number of disciplines. Important works on Augustine are integral to numerous contemporary debates on grace, law, the Word, the messiah/messianism, sovereignty, belief, and secularism.Submissions are due December 31; see the link above for details. I may try to put something together for this on the De Trinitate, though I'm not making any promises.
Encounters with Augustine enable new or renewed meditations on love, translation and historicity; projects of autobiography and subjectivity in the afterlives of the Confessions; epistemologies of memory and origin, where Augustinian determinations of conversion or original sin complicate our readings of events and iteration; theories of temporality; or diagrams and negotiations of religion and the secular state after Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit or Marx's Capital, in their confrontations with the City of God. Given the rich history of Augustinian reading, our task remains one of retrieval as well as reappropriation. What are the resources of love in and after Augustine? What are the demands of grace? Who are Augustine's interlocutors and what are their terms, from the Pelagians, the Donatists, and the Manicheans to Heidegger, Derrida, Arendt, Vattimo, Lyotard, Wittgenstein, and Agamben? What has been done with Augustine, in or against his name? What does it mark? What is the import of a theology of grace to philosophy? To ethics? To feminism? To race? To political economy? Moreover, what is the status of the City of God, given attendant religious controversies and our contemporary "secular" occasion?
(12:15 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Revolution of World-View in the 21st Century
Yasushi Yamanouchi (1933-, on the left in the picture) is a sociologist and philosopher and currently retired Professor Emeritus at Tokyo’s University of Foreign Studies. The following is a loose translation of November’s Shiso no kotoba (Words of Thought), a short guest editorial written each month by a different prominent thinker or academic for one of Japan’s oldest philosophy journals, Iwanami Publisher’s Shiso (Thought). I say “loose” because there are some quotes from Weber in the original which I couldn’t verify in English, and some of the Marx stuff I had to improvise. But hopefully you’ll get the gist.
Yamanouchi was a student of one of the founder’s of postwar Japanese social science, the Weberian economic historian, Hisao Otsuka at Tokyo University. Much of what he is writing here in the editorial is based on a critical engagement with the way in which both Weber (modernization theory/Otsuka) and Marx (the “Althusserian” reception of Kazumi Utsumi and Wataru Hiromatsu) have been studied and debated in Japan, which might make it a bit unclear. Basically, Yamanouchi is a Marxist environmentalist at heart, having got there through Maoism in the late 60s/70s. In his Gaze of the Suffering – Reviving the Early Marx, a lot of which is a close-reading, written mostly in the 1970s, of Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts , and which he mentions in the editorial, he also engages Hardt & Negri on their accommodation with modern technology and praises Paulo Virno for not, well lets say, ruling the trees out of the question. His recent work includes, translations of Karl Lowith, Nietzsche and Weber (1993), The Contemporary Phases of System Society (1996), and a collection of roundtable talks A Re-Enchanting World – Total War, Empire, Globalization (2004). All in all he is a very nice elderly man who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on a couple of occasions and while not being at all “political” enough for me, always provokes debate and provides a wealth of food for thought. Not bad for a man in his seventies.
I’d be interested to hear what people think of this and of whether there is anyone doing similar things in English?
At the time that I wrote my Introduction to Max Weber in 1997 I was playing with the idea of writing a further short paperback text, as an extension of that work, entitled Revolution of World-View in the 21st Century. Contrary to the orthodox understanding of Max Weber’s oeuvre, there are moments in which Weber is in complete sympathy with Nietzsche’s fundamental critique of European modernity. Nietzsche read the “ressentiment” of the persecuted slave, within the historical context of the emergence of Christianity. The introduction to Weber’s late work, Collected Essays on the Sociology of Religion, was an attempt to criticize Nietzsche’s theory of “ressentiment.” However, in spite of this, Weber did not try to evade Nietzsche’s fundamental critique of European modernity as being just simply meaningless. The “stoic ethos of occupational labor” born from European religious reformation – it is this initial principle, a factor which encourages the social order to become mechanical apparatus – this was the critical magma in which the fundamentals of Weber’s thought are located. Weber’s Sociology of Religion contained the following radical insight: looking back to the European religious reformation, Weber claimed that the “ethical foundations” that were formed from it must be relativized. His theory of a “Revolution of World-view,” born from an engagement with Nietzsche, was the crystallization of this radicality.
But what of Karl Marx, who is so often discussed in opposition to Weber? Again, with Marx too, I had thought there was a problem which the generally accepted orthodox understanding of Marx’s work had overlooked. I thought so because in the Third Manuscript of Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts Marx’s stance emerges as one attempting to both inherit and pass on Feuerbach’s notion of the leidendes-Wesen – suffering human existence. According to this Feuerbachian moment in Marx, humanity must not be conceived one-sidedly as a comprehensively active being but rather as a passive being, or, in other words, humanity must become self-conscious of itself as a being bearing suffering (Leiden). Not only through the active engagement with the object, but with and including interaction with nature as the original foundation which makes human labor possible. “All the organs of man” would work in cooperation through “seeing, listening, tasting, feeling, thinking, intuiting, sensing, desiring, acting, loving” – sensual objective passivity – man would become a living, real, sensuous, objective organ – this was the Third Manuscript’s image of future society.
After the 1845 Thesis on Feuerbach this view of humanity as leidendes-Wesen appears to have erased itself in Marx’s later work. However, in the opening of the Critique of the Gotha Program of 1875, Marx begins a full-frontal critique of the United Workers Party of Germany reversing their claim that “Labor is the source of wealth and all culture... the proceeds of labor belong undiminished with equal right to all members of society” writing that “Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labor.” The claim that “labor has creative power over and above the restrictions of nature” cannot be the thought of a socialist. This kind of claim is the prejudice bias of the bourgeois classes privately dictating the objective conditions of labor. Here we find “another Marx,” different in tone from the Marx often represented by Capital.
This Nietzschian moment in Weber and this “other Marx” hidden behind his official face – it is through a re-discovery of these forgotten philosophical moments that I had hoped to engage the theme of “Revolution of World-View in the 21st Century.” In a sense, this has been the assignment I had set myself since the late 1970s. However, my engagement with this assignment had been at a standstill until late 2004. It was in 2004 that my Gaze of the Suffering – Reviving the Early Marx was published. It was while completing the finishing touches to that work that I came across an unexpected new theme. This happened when I realized for the first time that Martin Heidegger, in his 1947 Letter on Humanism, had quoted Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts and highly praised its theory of alienation. In the letter, Heidegger says the following: that what Marx understood in humanity’s alienation was to “recognize an essential and meaningful sense as man’s alienation goes back to the homelessness of modern man... Marx enters into an essential dimension of history as he discovers this alienation, for that reason the Marxist view of history is superior to other
Today the so-called “Heidegger Controversy” is becoming a thing of the past and in its place a new current, what one would want to call a “Heidegger Revival,” is emerging, especially in the English-speaking world. Much of this work explores the fundamental – what Heidegger would have called “metaphysical” - rearrangement of modern philosophy in relation to environmental crisis. Surely in the 21st Century, the ongoing theme of “Marx and Weber,” including its connection with Heidegger, will have to be discussed in an all-embracing comprehensive manner. The “Revolution in 21st Century World-View” is already on the start line.
Japanese original at: http://www.iwanami.co.jp/shiso/index.html
(12:12 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Report on Stengers Lecture at Middlesex.Isabelle Stengers seated, from the side.
First, I want to begin by thanking everyone who donated money to help me get down to see Isabelle Stengers speak at Middlesex. It was worth it, even though, as you'll see, the talk was not exactly path breaking, but these events are always more about getting a bunch of people together anyway.
"Thinking with Deleuze and Whitehead: A Double Test"
Stengers began the talk by saying that when reading Deleuze and Whitehead one must resist the temptation to compare them. Whether or not her own paper actually resisted in this way is up for debate. In a phrase that seemed to grate on Ms. it's nerves Stengers wanted us to think of Deleuze and Whitehead as two witches' rides passing. I think this is a reference to The Fixer where reading Spinoza is described as taking a witches ride and, if this is the case, she could have made the point that more clearly. Stengers appears to want to leave room for something like God, much to the chagrin of the Middlesex crew, and this witches comment seemed to confuse them more than anything.
What was interesting was her insistence on the epochal situating of thinkers. Deleuze and Whitehead are dealing with their own problems in their own times and thus they constitute two very different philosophies. The lineage of problems for philosophy has gone from error to illusion to, in Deleuze and Whitehead's time, bêtise. In English bêtise is something like stupidity or foolishness, but is also connected to the idea of "beastliness". It was this bêtise that Deleuze was responding to with his philosophy, even if he responds to it by calling for a "becoming-animal".
I've not read Whitehead yet, and so most of what Stengers had to say about him didn't mean much to me. She did keep banging on about some conception he has against the bifurcation of Nature, where we shouldn't separate the beauty of the sunset from the way science understands a sunset to be composed (electrons, light waves, etc.). The two are the same (essentially? linguistically? culturally?), which comes to a statement she made in an earlier session that there is no difference between the neutrino and the Virgin Mary. In Whitehead there is a concept of God, though to me this just seems to mean that God is a name for the experience of process that remains unnameable within reason, and Stengers seemed to really like this. I do find this to be an interesting concept coming from a philosopher of science who remains in the actual practice of science, but the concept was undetermined in her lecture. I'm currently translating a short piece she wrote on Gaia that may help to bear it out, but again this is no God of the religions (or, perhaps, it is the same God prior to determination, a determination I'm drawn to force?) Again, this really seemed to bother many of the Middlesex crew. During the Q&A Peter Osborne seemed to become increasingly upset as Stengers refused to 'admit' that God was no answer. I believe his statement was something like, "If God is the answer, then you're asking the wrong question."
He'll push you into the bushes and lead you astray to the restuarant.
The Social Aspect of Talks
Part of the reason I wanted to attend this lecture was to meet some people whose work I've been reading: Peter Hallward, whose recent polemic against Deleuze I reviewed for Angelaki, and Daniel Smith, as well as Eric Alliez, whose book I had hoped to translate but failed to do so. A year ago I entertained thoughts of applying to Middlesex, as it seems to me that the most exciting kind of Continental philosophy is now coming out of Britain (though that may be unfair). And, indeed, the department seems to be really strong. Though I was really resistant to Hallward's book he is really a pleasure to speak with. Very insightful and open without being wishy-washy and not at all pedantic. It was nice to meet up with Daniel Smith again and I'm hoping to have him come down to Nottingham for a talk, even though I may be the only student interested in Deleuze in my program.
It was also really good to see Ms. it as well. I don't think she really enjoyed the lecture and I was shocked to see the shit she has to put up with, but she was incredible gracious as a host and really fun even as the night grated on. We had a bit of trouble getting home since the tube shut down earlier than expected, so after an hour or so on the night bus and dealing with an asshole cabbie who tried to rip us off, we made it to her humble lego-like abode. Also was able to meet Alberto Toscano, which I was a bit nervous about to be completely honest. I've read a bit of his stuff and he's obviously quite learned, but in person he is really down to earth. In the words of Philip, I think he's going to go far and may be someone to watch.
Books for Buying
There was a great sale on Verso titles at Judd's Books (near the British Library). So I picked up a few, the first such purchase in a really long time. With the 10% discount for students I think I spent about $45 on brand new books. I have to say, buying things feels good.
I realized some things on this trip as well. Talking with Ms. it I realized that I need to start writing and working out some actual philosophy. In discussions with her and Peter Hallward I realized that, though I have some rough ideas of where I want to go, I have to argumentative support. I've yet to work out any kind of idea with clarity. I also realized that I need stop being the timid teenager regarding my own work. I really would like to do some translation, but I've been too afraid to admit my inadequacies and ask for help when I need it leading to no actual translation and my own skills remaining undeveloped. I know this is in part to feelings of inadequacy, but it's also incredibly lame and it's time to get over it.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
(12:27 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Advanced Procrastinatory Strategiesvia Ben Wolfson, I find this insightful essay that partly describes my strategies.
For instance, yesterday, during a period of time I had mentally blocked out for finishing my paper on Zizek's Paul, I read over 100 pages of David Harvey and started Deleuze & Guattari's What is Philosophy? -- both necessary tasks, which additionally needed to be done before the paper in question. Yet somehow they became ways of procrastinating.
Even better, yesterday I graded a single (redone) paper and e-mailed the student to tell her her grade, because I knew she was working on the next paper, due Tuesday, and would want to know if she had been on the right track. A caring, considerate thing to do -- also a great way to procrastinate!
Today I have looked up the courses available during the Winter and Spring quarters at the Div School, as well as checking on what Eric Santner is teaching; written to a professor to ask about a directed study that I have scheduled for him on my program of study; and inquired about the status of two publications of mine that have been delayed. (The last one is an especially important gesture of goodwill, as it will allow the recipients an opportunity to procrastinate by responding to me, if they so choose.)
I currently have 3.5 pages left to go on this stupid paper, which I have been planning to do "this coming weekend" for approximately four months. Hopefully I'll be done in time for Family Guy.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
(7:09 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Weblog at the AARWho among the great throng of Webloggians is attending the AAR/SBL this year? Feel free to say so in comments, and also to advertise any papers you are giving, etc.
One potential nodal point for us could be the unofficial "The Weblog panel," officially a panel on Theology and the Political, which is taking place on Monday from 4-6:30. Panelists are Dan Barber, Josh Davis, and Adam Kotsko, with Graham Ward and Conor Cunningham responding and Nate Kerr presiding.
The "Weblog" aspect of this stems from the fact that the panelists and presider have at one time or another left comments and/or written posts on this blog and that the initial impetus was a post I wrote asking if people wanted to do a panel -- by my conservative estimate, 93% of the work of planning this, including the crucial matter of actually coming up with the topic, was done by Nate Kerr.
I also am giving a paper entitled "Politics and Perversion: Situating Žižek’s Paul" in a session on Tuesday from 9-12 in which Brad Johnson will also be a participant. Additionally, a panel discussion of Reading Derrida / Thinking Paul by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. (my advisor) will take place on Monday from 1-3:30; Brad Johnson will be among the panelists.
Also, keep in mind Brad's advice that you should foster certain indulgences on my part. If followed, it will go a long way toward helping me to meet my budget projections, which are predicated on spending absolutely no money aside from airfare. In short: don't be afraid to spend money on me! I assure you that I'll be very funny and will reveal embarrassing personal information (beyond what you already get on the blog -- so you can imagine it's pretty good).
(12:02 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Bérubé Event: An Oblique OfferingThe Valve is having an event on Michael Bérubé's book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts? My contribution will be minimal; in fact, it will, sadly, address only one paragraph in Bérubé's very interesting and readable work, the whole of which I commend to everyone.
Turn with me, if you will, to page 133 of What's Liberal? There we find the following:
Even America's elite conservatives know this [namely that the US university system is the best in the world]. They may talk a good game about liberal indoctrination here and leftist domination there, but when it comes time to send their own kids to college, do you imagine for a moment that they're looking over the brochures for Olivet Nazarene University....?As many readers know, Olivet Nazarene University is my alma mater and that of several regular commenters here; my co-blogger Anthony Paul Smith also went there for two years, though he had the good sense to transfer to and graduate from DePaul University. Hence I took this reference as a "shout-out" to The Weblog, primarily since I have no idea what else could've motivated it, unless Bérubé is a huge Chicago Bears fan. In point of fact, at least one of "America's elite conservatives" did look over the brochures for Olivet Nazarene University -- Dr. James Dobson's son went to Olivet, and there are all manner of amusing and vicious rumors about that upstanding young man for those who are interested. This may be an exceptional situation: Dr. Dobson himself is Nazarene and is in fact the holder of an honorary doctorate from Olivet (I was playing in the band on the excruciating occasion of its conferral); I feel like he also went to Olivet in his youth, but can't confirm that presently.
In any case, the reference to Olivet has the clear implication that an education at Olivet is inferior to that at a mainstream institution. Much as I hate to defend Olivet, I don't think that is necessarily the case. First of all, a motivated student will be able to get a good education anywhere, even if the options as regards subject matter will be somewhat constricted. In terms of vocational-oriented programs, Olivet does very well -- their nursing and education programs have strong reputations, their social work program qualifies graduates to skip directly to the second year of an MSW program, and engineering graduates seem to have a high rate of job placement. In terms of more "pure" academic programs, Olivet until recently had a very high rate of placement in graduate programs in theology, not only at seminaries but at reputable institutions such as Vanderbilt or University of Virginia. (Sadly, they have since decided to revamp the religion program into a more practically-oriented vocational program for aspiring ministers in the Church of the Nazarene.)
More to the point, however, is the program to which I devoted my undergraduate career: English literature. Bérubé's accounts of classroom discussions and dynamics were actually not completely foreign to me. Although the balance at Olivet would obviously tip more toward the conservative side, there were still many students who leaned liberal and were only at Olivet due to their parents' insistence (usually in the form of refusing to offer financial support if they chose to attend any other university). Additionally, there were many who came to Olivet as conservatives and were convinced to become more liberal, simply due to the process of education itself. This may have been especially the case in the English department, as the faculty was made up almost entirely of women, and obviously highly educated women are going to have less incentive to identify strongly with the ethos of a conservative religious institution that still, when I was there, regarded the "MRS degree" as a primary goal for women students.
The course offerings in literature were necessarily not as broad at Olivet as at the University of Pennsylvania, but it offered a solid enough grounding for those who wished to go on to graduate school -- I did not ultimately end up entering an English graduate program, but I was accepted to some, and I know of several of my fellow students who are pursuing graduate study in English. The general drift was toward traditional topics: surveys in British, American, and world literature, seminars on Shakespeare and the novel. But there were also seminars on literary theory and on multi-ethnic and Third World literatures, which generated the same types of classroom dynamics as Bérubé describes -- even in a very conservative environment, there is likely to be only one student who both objects in principle to the "controversial" or "political" material being assigned and decides he is entitled to dominate the discussion, and it really only takes one to completely hijack the class.
Interestingly, in most of the upper-level seminars, this dynamic didn't arise simply because the majority of students were women; the obnoxious student was usually me, and usually because I was frustrated that my fellow students didn't seem to be reading as carefully or participating as enthusiastically in discussion as they should be (i.e., my fellow students were undergraduates). In the area of diversity, my experience was definitely lacking, though I am now making up for it at the seminary. Part of the problem was that the Church of the Nazarene is a majority-white denomination. Most of the African-American students had been recruited to play on the football team, and there was very pronounced de facto segregation -- there was one dorm that was unofficially designated for the black football players, and they tended to sit together in a certain area of the cafeteria. I don't know for sure what majors, if any, the African-American students tended to gravitate toward, but in any case it wasn't English. Beyond that, the main source of ethnic diversity was a handful of international students, who seemed to be either religion or business majors.
All that being said, I am basically satisfied with the education that I received at Olivet, and at least in the English department, I think that any motivated student will receive an education that they will have found to be worth their time. People who are specifically looking for career-oriented training would be well-served by Olivet -- and in fact, students looking to get involved specifically in Republican politics have ample opportunity to go to Washington DC for study, internships, and general networking. (I know of several liberal students who have taken advantage of this as well.)
To the degree that Olivet offers an unsatisfactory experience, that seems to me to be not strictly because it is an evangelical institution -- the disadvantages associated with that being mainly petty things like stricter rules around drinking or required chapel attendance -- but simply because it is a small institution in a rural area. There are students who find the general evangelical orthodoxy to be a huge distraction -- I know that I personally dropped out of Olivet's education program because a professor used classroom time to rail against evolution and something called "secular humanism."
If students in mainstream universities really are subjected to a liberal orthodoxy -- something of which I have no real experience and for which I have to rely on Bérubé's account -- I'd imagine that it's the same kind of thing, petty annoyances and distractions that most students can get past as they try to make the most of their opportunities. There were some students who let their opposition to the general evangelical atmosphere consume them, and sometimes I gave into that temptation as well -- but it was okay. I made good friends, I learned a lot, and I've been able to pursue my professional goals without facing insurmountable obstacles. Perhaps it would've been better for me to go somewhere else, but what I had was good enough.
Friday, November 10, 2006
(12:59 PM) | Adam R:
Baltimore Is ReadsSo, no -- this is not the months-delinquent third chapter of my serial novel, but I swear that's on its way. It's just that I'm busy. Busier than anybody.
Like, for instance, my MFA colleague Natalie and I are doing this class project, right, that incorporates literature and the senses. We're going to post short work around Baltimore in store windows, abandoned buildings, telephone polls, and things like that. Ingeniously, we're calling it "Baltimore is Reads." You can follow along with the project from its very beginnings at this website: www.baltimoreisreads.com.
We need pieces that we can hang. If you get a chance, can you send me a short poem or something like that? Since we'll probably be formatting the work onto, say, legal sized paper, your writing will have to be very short. It should be short enough that it can attract a passerby's attention from a few feet away as they pass, um, by.
Maybe you can also get your kids to write one, and your spouses? I would have asked them, but I can't remember their names.
Take a little time, write a couple lines, and send it to me at: email@example.com. Or send an email there for more specific information. It's pretty much a guaranteed publishing credit.
(6:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: I loved you firstI confess that when I woke up, I expected it to be after noon, but it was actually 8:30. I'm not sure whether I'm disappointed about this.
I confess that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is over-rated. I confess that one of the first tracks on their album is eerily reminiscent of the song "Stop Whispering," off Radiohead's first album. I confess that when the Arcade Fire was occupying the slot of Great New Indie Band, I liked them, but they haven't aged well in my opinion. I confess that this confession is probably way out of date.
I confess that I haven't shaved in over a week. I don't have real ambitions of growing a beard. Instead, I confess that the only thing keeping me from shaving is the fact that I'm neurotic -- I've been on the same blade for like six months, and the two nearest stores that sell replacement blades have them locked up to prevent shoplifting. I am always embarrassed to ask clerks to unlock that stuff. I confess that when I found that Walgreen's had theirs locked up, I walked four blocks down to the nearest CVS rather than ask the people at Walgreen's to unlock the cabinet.
I confess that I kind of like the scraggly look. I'll probably keep growing it out until I notice mothers clutching their children close when I walk by. (I confess that when blogging, I reuse a lot of lines first developed in conversation with my roommate Mike -- for instance, that last one.)
I confess that my paper for the panel on Theology and the Political should be fun to deliver. Now this weekend I have to churn out a paper on Zizek's use of Paul, and a major source of stress in my life will be gone.
I confess that my coffee-drinking habits have become very erratic. I used to think I was an addict, but now I sometimes go a day or two without having any caffeine at all, with no adverse effects. I confess that I've thought about just giving up coffee altogether, but too many people spend all their time giving up things. Our cultural elites have managed to make abstinence and asceticism "cool" -- and somehow expensive at the same time. Well, I confess: fuck that.
Fuck that, indeed.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
(9:08 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
The New Yorker: On Auto-PilotFirst they put their readers to work coming up with captions for their cartoons. Next they'll be holding a rolling reader contest for the best article on Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.
It's sad. The New Yorker used to be a lot better in the early days, back when Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy were on the staff.
(1:01 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Freudian Slip?Oftentimes I stop by the Medici coffee shop on my way to morning classes. It's usually moderately busy, and so they have one person who goes down the line asking people what they want, then calls it out to the person manning the various coffee dispensers, espresso machines, etc. Their customary way of designating coffee is "Joe" -- such that when I make my usual order, the clerk will call out, "Large Joe!"
In line ahead of me was a curly-headed, gangly guy, apparently a U of C student, who ordered a small coffee. The clerk accordingly called out, "Small Jew!"
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
(11:49 AM) | Rob Breymaier:
Ballot Initiatives RundownWhile everyone else is talking about the Democratic victories in the House of Representatives and for Governorships, I think its also important to gauge the prevailing mood of the country through their choices in ballot initiatives. (CNN has a good summary of statewide ballot initiatives.)
Based on these initiatives, people overwhelmingly want an increase in the minimum wage and a ban on same-sex marriage.
Six states -- AZ, CO, MO, MT, NV, & OH -- voted to raise the minimum wage (although they might have different minimums). All of them voted for the raise. By the way, Cook County, IL (which is bigger than most states) also voted to raise the minimum wage. These states are mostly west of the Mississippi where unions have smaller power bases. Most are also service economy states, meaning they have a lot of minimum wage earners. Ohio and Missouri have more manufacturing. That might explain Ohio's majority as the slimmest (56 to 44) but not Missouri's (76 to 24).
Eight states voted to ban gay marriages. Colorado went so far as to ban them and deny domestic partnerships. Only Arizona is likely to go down. The others (CO, ID, SC, SD, TN, VA, WI) will pass. Most of these states are conservative strongholds. The silver lining I suppose is that these initiatives won't be there in 2008 to bring crazy conservatives to the polls. Still, it's a defeat for civil rights.
People out west think pregnant teenagers should have the right to make choices about their bodies without needing their parents approval. In South Dakota, abortion will remain legal.
Arizonans might be okay with the GLBT community but they don't like to hear Spanish. They voted big to make English the state's official language.
And, most disappointingly, Michigan voters voted to remove affirmative action in state programs. This has proved a disaster for African Americans and Latinos in California. Now, we'll see racial achievement gaps increase in Michigan as well.
Anyone who thinks we live or should live according to color-blind rules is, in my opinion, an idiot. Race and ethnicity are determining factors in the opportunities available and barriers present for any individual. Yes, people with higher incomes have a few more opportunities and a few less barriers. But, they still have them. And, in some cases, income doesn't change anything. (For one, it does not reduce the likelihood of living in a segregated neighborhood.) I'd say the fact that Californians and Michiganders have voted to remove the affirmative measures that account for this inequality is an indication of ignorance or ill will on their part.
In short the summary is that people are more motivated by economic issues than civil rights issues. Something we might expect in a transitional economy. Still, the lack of interest in civil rights is an alarming trend for a country that couldn't be founded until they were included as part of the foundational document.
(10:39 AM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
The Democratic AgendaWith the Democrats in charge of the House and perhaps also the Senate, things are sure to change radically in our country. Although we have all by now read the official agenda, my inside sources have given me a copy of their true plans, which were closely guarded before the elections:
- An all-gay military -- gays have suffered discrimination in the armed forces for far too long; now it's time for the straights to get a taste of their own medicine. It worked for the ancient Greeks!
- Forced impregnation, abortion for all women starting at age 12 -- Democrats love abortion and want to spread this wonderful experience to as many of our nation's young women as possible.
- Free health care for Osama bin Laden -- using American medical technology, the best in the world, to keep his kidney problems under control will allow him to concentrate fully on his duties as Absolute Ruler of the United States.
- Destruction of the family -- all children will be taken from their parents and raised in government-run schools, where they will be encouraged to engage in promiscuous sex, in imitation of their cousins, the bonobos.
- Outlawing the Bible -- no one actually reads the fucking thing anyway.
- Some other evil thing to be determined -- this is kind of a place holder to bring the total up to six, to match the public version
(2:17 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Mid-TermsSo, does this mean that Democratic third-way reformism and accomodation is a better ideological shell for neoliberalism or not? Is it too early to tell?
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
(9:24 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Alejandro González Iñáritu!If you vote, write him in on your ballot for king of the world. And if Babel didn't open in your market this weekend, see it Friday.
(12:14 AM) | Ben Wolfson:
Tuesday Hatred: odit deus, odunt diiI hate that one can, as a practical matter, only use one title for these things, and I hate as well the knowledge that I am likely to forget the other titles I was considering by next week, or I will have, next week, only to contend with another plethora of potentia, and in this wise will never work down to the bottom. (Other considered titles: "Cunnus inconnu", "Here is the kitchen and here is a table and here is a mirror and here is a book and here are lots of other things".) I do like the present title because it alludes circuitously to the first of the rejected titles by means of the original lyrics, which are: "vellet deus, vellent dii / quod mente proposui / ut eius virginea reserassem vincula"—if, that is, we assume that our imprecator failed in his intent, which he proposed in/with his mind.
I was planning on hating grandiloquently; I was planning on hating about how I'm not funny anymore. Any given month in 2005 would reveal on my native blog worthy posts and comments worthier, and a certain unfettered badness of writing that, if nothing else, bespoke carefree innocence. But now I can hardly pun anymore; to call my writing "workmanlike" is to afford it too much craft; the days of my youth (the days of my glory) are far behind me. Such were my substantive hateful plans; stylistically I intended to emulate the rhetorical excesses in which I used to indulge myself on occasion. I was making these plans as I lay in my empty bed (empty because I am so insubstantial as hardly to count), I even composed a few lines without committing them to paper. They were, if I dare to say it, even moderately clever; in them, I not only oratized eloquently but also pointed out my own doing so, calling it a pale attempt to recapture the past which in fact lay unreachably behind me.
Such were my plans, but even the best-laid plans (and these plans inherited a certain deficiency thereregarding) gang aft agley! I come to you not to hate nostalgically, but to hate with an eye to the future!
I come to you to hate about a logic textbook, or rather the software accompanying same. I believe I've mentioned it before. I have now had cause to use it, on a mac, wine utterly having failed to run it on the computer on which I now type. It … is not software I can honestly say I enjoy using. I feel that I should not indulge myself too much in my hatred, this being a publicly viewable thingummy, lest the person actually named "Ben Wolfson" be thought to harbor ill opinions of which he may actually be entirely innocent. Suffice it to say that the user interface seems to have been designed with the thought that entering lines of a proof should be sufficiently time-consuming and aggravating that the user really think about, with regard to the proof, what the musical artist known as "No. 9" would call "where come from? and where to?". Ponderous questions, no doubt, but one would think that the advantage of typing in proofs on a computer machine would be that one could be a little more profligate with one's thinkons. And I hate it. Hate. Hate. Hate. I was incredibly angered for quite a while as the demonic contraption refused to accept a proof that I thought was actually rather wizard cocksucker, because I had forgotten to cite support for the last sentence. Now I have a headache and child support payments to make. Hate!