Wednesday, February 28, 2007
(6:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Finishing My PhDI've decided that instead of using the outdated method of living through each and every moment between now and finishing my PhD, I'm going to have a montage. The main thing will be to have various scenes with more or less obvious subject matter: sitting in class, reading a book (perhaps scratching my chin), writing. But for comic relief, I'll also have some scenes where, say, at first the printer won't print, but then it starts printing overwhelmingly fast, driving me out of the room. (I need to work on that aspect.) Of course, after graduation, there will be a still shot of me enthusiastically throwing my cap in the air.
Anyway, the choice of a song for this montage is important. I was thinking of Peter Gabriel's "Salisbury Hill," but now that seems more appropriate for the closing credits -- for the montage, I need something more upbeat. Any suggestions?
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
(10:11 AM) | Claire:
Where Are the Womyn of the Weblog?Per Winston's sage advice, I'm writing this post from the perspective of a sea otter. - Claire
As I float on my back, I think about an ongoing problem at the Weblog. Except for Claire, there seems to be quite a lack of female posters. Why don't more womyn post here? In confidence, some womyn have said that they were turned off by the discussions of preferences in female pubic hair styles. Well, if anyone told me to shave my hair off, or just leave a landing strip, I'd crack his head open on my tummy. Shaving my hair would be a death sentence and an affront to my identity as a sea otter. Ladies, these guys have no say in how you should style your down there hair. I say, keep it, be proud-- heck, write a post about your massive bush. Just don't be silent and let the good ol' Weblog boys engage in a female pubic hair discourse without hearing your opinion on the matter. Second, I've heard from some womyn who aren't students of theology of philosophy that feel they have nothing to contribute to this site. OK, all I really have to talk about is floating on my back, cracking an especially large abalone on my tummy, the trials of having my nose bitten while mating, and the sweet satisfaction of slumbering, anchored in a forest of kelp. Does that have anything to do with philosophy or theology? No, but everyone can relate to the universal themes of food, sex and relaxation. Your comments needn't be earth-shattering or clever (save those for Unfogged). Just speak to the human experience and the readers are sure to respond positively. Lastly, I hope I can be an example to the would-be woman posters of the Weblog. If the men-folk can relate to and engage with posts by a non-verbal marine mammal, they are sure to connect much more with a post by a fellow human. Once you widen your focus to the entire animal kingdom, gender becomes an irrelevant difference between beings.
I hate that only one person has taken advantage of the free cognitive-behavioral therapy I'm offering on my blog.
I hate that at Whole Foods, elderly people stand in front of the samples for an hour and cockblock my attempts to get a free snack.
I hate that the psychotic nurse-case manager from a local mental hospital calls, and before I can say anything, screams, "Who's available to do a live commercial!!??"
I hate that I have an interview today and I still haven't perfected my answer to, "Why do you want to leave your current job?" (I'm taking suggestions for answers from anyone experienced in hiring.)
I hate that I am extremely nervous about a telephone interview.
I hate that I cannot list all of you as references.
I hate that there is no place on a resume for blog experience.
I hate that every time a call goes to voicemail, the caller angrily demands to speak to "a LIVE person" as if I had previously transferred them to one of the deceased.
I hate that callers continue to insist that my co-worker, Joe, is a woman.
I hate that it seems trite to name things truly worthy of hate, like the impending climate change apocalypse or the possible strike against Iran.
If this has all been just too much for you, I suggest you visit Richard and friends.
(7:41 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
The Threat of PoetryJust read this. Poetry apparently now presents itself as a special risk to national security for its content and format. Just think of all the secret codes in Auden!
Monday, February 26, 2007
(6:22 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Oscar Blogging: The Morning AfterCoattails: Graham King, William Monahan, and Thelma Schoonmaker should send flowers thanking Jon Stewart after receiving Oscars for their work on The Departed - Monahan should also include a large check; Melissa Etheridge can simply write "To the real star of the 79th Academy Awards, Father Earth" on the card with her arrangement.
Peter O'Toole is a consumate actor: my stomach did half a turn watching him regain composure after a split second in which he looked as if he'd been socked in the solar plexus
The Three Amigos: 16 nominations, 4 awards, zero in major categories. Definitely the lowlight of my Oscar evening.
How were my picks: My predictions, 3 out of 7 (Alan Arkin, Scorsese, Mirren); If I had chosen, 1 out of 4 (Scorsese). Brad's choices did a good bit better, 3 for 5 (Mirren, Whitaker, Arkin)
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Rule of ThumbReading over 100 pages of Calvin's Institutes in one day may have adverse effects on one's mood and overall well-being. Calvin argues that knowledge of God's providence -- meaning God's micromanaging of everything -- is a source of comfort and peace, but after reading the relevant section and thereby being informed of God's providence, I have to say that my experiene is not what he predicts. Surely no one can doubt that Calvin was a great theologian, but his expertise in human psychology appears to have been less thorough.
As a sidenote, I've heard that the "rule of thumb" derives from some kind of regulation that stipulated that a husband could beat his wife with any implement that was smaller around than his thumb, and that therefore one should not use the phrase so as not to commemorate such vile misogyny. Is this etymology accurate?
Sunday, February 25, 2007
(11:56 PM) | Dave Belcher:
Master of ArtsAdam reminded me today that I am a douche-fuck; that is, that I did not inform y'all of my having completed the master's program at Vanderbilt. I really am sorry. I will be posting a full, lengthy explanation for my hiatus from blogging (and especially here at my home the Weblog) over at my blog some time this week. For those who are interested in my research project (on the disappearance of the Church and Baptism), it is actually available on the web...believe it or not. I have no idea what the link is, but if you search for Vanderbilt University's Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Library, you should be able to find a page to search my name and view it. As I've confessed often, I'm pretty lazy with links.
Adam, I owe penance; I hope that you will take my confession on Friday, but more importantly offer forgiveness...I really have been a jackass about keeping "in touch" (the irony is so thick with that little cliche, isn't it?...the value of blogging aside, internet relation reminds me of how rarely we actually "touch").
(6:09 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Sunday Music VideosAdam may have one of these planned already, but I wanted to share some of the music I like.
TV on the Radio
Dave likes them in his own old man sort of way ("Yeah that was cool!").
I realized reading the post below about The Smashing Pumpkins and NIN how much older you all are. Not that I didn't listen to The Smashing Pumpkins and NIN, but I never owned one as they were my oldest step-brother's albums. Rather it was Refused that got me through the last years of High School.
And the Murder City Devils. Now because you're all old and need something quiet here is Cat Power performing "Lived in Bars" live. It's very good. Some of you may actually know the famous blues musicians playing in the band (I do not).
Saturday, February 24, 2007
(7:45 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
If it was good enough for Wycliffe...It is my assertion that the thesaurus is the most deleterious reference volume ever devised. Supercilious wordsmiths acquisitive of notoreity for capacious lexicons cogitate upon thesauri, deploying locutions whose signification is superannuated at best and preposterous at worst. An injudicious cupidity for exactitude recoils upon the oblivious dilettante, engendering nebulae of Latinate verbiage uncongenial to the conveyance of rumination. In such connections, a canny scribe should optate in favor of availing himself of colloquial Anglo-Saxon nomenclature.
In short, Roget should be exhumed and posthumously burnt at the stake.
(4:06 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Rock of the 90sThis topic came up at dinner after a lecture last night: If forced, which would you choose, Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails? More specifically, which double album: Mellon Collie or The Fragile? I went with Nine Inch Nails all the way, but the concensus was in favor of Smashing Pumpkins on both counts. How anyone who has listened to the last half of the second disc of Mellon Collie could even consider choosing it over The Fragile is beyond me.
When the topic turned to Stone Temple Pilots, my claim that Tiny Music was their best album -- indeed, their only album that is even marginally memorable -- was contested by a partisan of Purple. I can kind of see that. "Interstate Love Song" was arguably the greatest rock radio single of the 1990s -- that is, if we consider it qua radio single. (Better songs were released as radio singles in the 1990s, but they weren't necessarily better singles.)
Metallica didn't even come up. Apparently we've all finally forgotten them -- a richly deserved fate. Even Q101 appears to have given up on the afternoon "Mandatory Metallica."
Friday, February 23, 2007
(3:36 PM) | Dave Belcher:
Art and Non-Art[This has been a "draft" waiting to be edited for a LONG time, so sorry for the hiatus. I just didn't take the time to finish what I started, and then one distraction led to another, etc. This may not be pertinent at all any longer].
So, in one of his comments Marc anticipated where I wanted to take this discussion of Adorno and "popular music" (I'm not attributing any of the rest of this to Marc, he was only pointing to an anecdote, but that story got my wheels turning). We cannot define the difference between art and non-art. If this is the case, then Adorno's description of popular music as: "a music that can scarcely be counted as art" ("Popular Music," 35), must be thoroughly problematized. I'm not so sure, however, that the above is really the case...that is, if we can't define the difference between art and non-art, then isn't everything art (or nothing is art, in which case everything is non-art)? Perhaps it is this very problem that prompts us in the first place to ask questions about human making ("What makes that art?"). But, these questions must quickly encounter the thorny distinctions the medievals drew between art [ars] as human "making" and the aesthetic [esthetica] as an object which elicits pleasure (or in some sense manifests "beauty"). In other words, as Umberto Eco says, "The experience of beauty does not necessarily have art as its object; for we ascribe beauty not just to poems and paintings but also to horses, sunsets, and women--or even, at its limits, to a crime or a gourmet meal" (The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas, trans. Hugh Bredin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 3. So, although beauty can be elicited by the objects human art makes (I won't get into questions of mediation here, or what it is that actually gives the beauty), beauty is not limited to this making (nor is it found in every object made...this raises interesting and perhaps unanswerable questions about the objectivity of beauty over against subjective perception: sometimes boring, but necessary questions like, "Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?"). So, at least, it seems, we can say that art--as opposed to "non-art"--involves human making (we can only then have a basis for judging "beauty," or "non-beauty," which is really the question Marcuse saw at hand, I think).
All of this comes to a head in Brad's latest post over at An und fur sich. The most compelling sentences:
[T]he artisan’s attention is set beyond the productivity of her work; set beyond, that is, the work’s objectivity as a work (a chair, a rug, etc.). The artisan’s attention, rather, is on the ‘poietic’ value of her craftwork, whereby the very activity of her craftsmanship involves her in the opening of the world to something truly new. Craftsmanship, in short, is attuned to the creation of something whose value is precisely and fully the act of its creation, and not its productive capacity for exchange, consumption, or use. As such, the craftsman’s attention is directed toward the fashioning of a radically new existence, one incommensurate with the present order of reality and its existent horizon of expectationsI think that the distinction between art as "making" and aesthetics as an "eliciting of beauty or pleasure" is actually upheld, here, by Brad (even despite being a proposal "on craftmanship"!). In the comments, I believe Gabe misses--with all due respect--that the "making" Brad is discussing has to do with the subject's involvement in the eliciting of beauty (which is, I think, the constitution of a sort of "aesthetic subjectivity," here...and for that reason, also, "revolutionary subjectivity"), and not with "art" (Brad is careful to use the term aesthetics or "creativity" and not art, knowingly I'm sure of the medieval distinction)...to give Gabe a little more credit, though, it's quite possible that he is simply saying that there is nothing wrong with "use-value" or "commodification" in itself (along the lines of Graham Ward on Castoriadis?). I am not so sure this is the case in the way Brad seems to intend these terms, though. So, there is a kind of "making for the sake of making," in Ruskin and Morris, but the making does not reduce to the use-value of the object (and I think this would be a reduction); the entire point seems to be that the action of making is the aesthetic moment, one that could not be objectified. Perhaps I am wrong, but without some "subjective" engagement with the act of making, the act of making would itself be merely "art," in the medieval sense (one that is captive to "use-value," commodification, and ultimately capital).
I have to say, I'm still not so sure that this is all that different from either Milbank's reading of Ruskin (in "On Complex Space," I think), or Rowan Williams' reading of Maritain--I don't see the real difference between a "radically orthodox" aesthetic and the one Brad is proposing. Don't get me wrong, I think both are extremely necessary. And since what really matters is in the details, perhaps this burgeoning conversation in contemporary theology is a sign of very good thins to come.
This has been the most rambling-ass post ever.
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: The Hyphen in Anal-RetentiveI confess that yesterday when cleaning the house, I mopped all the floors twice, as if that would make it last longer somehow. I confess that my cleaning extended even to polishing my shoes.
I confess that the washing machine in our building has not been working for a while now, and my laundry issues are reaching a crisis level. I confess that I've been wearing my "laundry day" jeans for over a week straight. I confess that this laundry situation contributes to what a noted Polish thinker has called "the funk of man" in my apartment.
I confess that I've been trying to think of Wilco lyrics to correspond to famous thinkers. So far I've got two:
- Jacques Derrida: "I've got reservations about so many things, but not about you."
- John Calvin: "No love's as random as God's love."
I confess that I have been posting these too early and that this behavior will stop or I will be facing serious consequences.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
(3:30 PM) | Claire:
A Special Request From WinstonRecently my dearest friend and trusted companion, F. Winston Codpiece III, or Winston, as I call him, presented me with a special request. He asked that I write a piece from the perspective of his favorite cuddly marine mammal: the sea otter. Many of you are unfamiliar with the more sensitive, sentimental side of this mysterious man. Let me take a minute to introduce you to the Winston I know.
Yesterday, Winston invited me over to trade Lisa Frank stickers and Beanie Babies. I always love visiting him because his house reminds me of the most tender moments of my childhood. His pastel pink walls are are lined with shelves and display cases of Precious Moments dolls. He has a collection of vintage, framed 1980's "Hang In There" kitten posters hung throughout the living room. His bedroom is filled with cute pictures of cuddly animals that you just can't find in stores today. When I arrived yesterday, he had a Debbie Gibson record softly playing and had placed two mugs of Swiss Miss hot chocolate and a plate of Keebler Elves on the table.
Winston is probably the best listener I have ever met-- he listens with his heart as well as his ears. I often bounce ideas off of Winston because I know he will be supportive and encouraging of anything I say. I've told him of the trials of being the only regular female poster on the Weblog, of how I sometimes tire of maintaining the hard, Mistress of the Weblog persona. It's a man's blogosphere, so I've had to mostly dispense with my feminine charms and adopt this bristly careerist exterior. I've realized that I've adopted an almost militaristic style of interaction with people who should be my blog allies. For instance, I communicate with Kotsko by barking commands that are met more and more with resigned, but begrudging silence. Winston has suggested that I open up to Kotsko about my anxieties about being a female poster at the Weblog. But, I told him I'm not ready to make myself that vulnerable, at least not until I have administrator privileges. We did agree on a compromise, though. I will reconnect with my more tender, softer side by posting from the perspective of a sea otter. This will only further serve to file off the hard edges of the exterior animus that I have so carefully built. I know that Winston's top priority is my personal growth, and it will be a privilege to share will all of you as I embark on this journey of self-rediscovery.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
(2:53 PM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Oscar Blogging: Three Six Mafia One ...Picks, Predictions, Comments
Performance by an actor in a leading role
Prediction: Peter O’Toole in Venus (While if it was up to moviegoers generally, Will Smith would run away with it, The Academy goes with awarding someone they should have long ago)
Haven’t Seen: Any of them (chose against seeing Forest Whitaker on Valentine’s Day at the last minute)
Strange that none of the best actor nominees come from best picture nominees. On that note, I kind of favor DiCaprio. If his performance in Blood Diamond is any better than the one he gave in The Departed, he’s earned it.
My Pick: [I’m not picking in categories in which I haven’t seen at least three of the films – other weblog reader’s feel free to fill in the blanks]
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Prediction: Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine (foreshadowing things to come)
Haven’t Seen: Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children (will see this film if I get a chance before Sunday) or Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond
Alan Arkin is an absolute riot. Whalberg outdid himself (see comments on best director). Haley is many-a-critics favorite. Dreamgirls, however, deserves some major Oscar and Eddie Murphy is one of the best actors of our time. It remains to be seen whether he’ll make a complete switch to Oscar favorable movies. (The Academy won’t chose him, however, for some of the same reasons it won’t even nominate Jim Carrey).
My Pick: Eddie Murphy
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Prediction: Helen Miren
Haven’t Seen: Any other performance besides Miren’s.
Supposedly a runaway. I thought the guy who played Blair was equally compelling. I suppose it will take an outstanding film for the best actor of our generation (Streep) to win again. Dench and Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal and Penélope Cruz in Volver are performances I really would like to have seen by this point.
My Pick: [none - see above]
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Prediction: Adrianna Barraza in Babel (almost too close to call)
Haven’t Seen: Blanchett
Blanchett will perhaps someday challenge Streep for most nominations ever but won two years ago and will be passed over. Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine will not be considered seriously because she already has the accolade of youngest nominee of all time. Partisans of Babel may very well cancel each other out with respect to Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi, but I can’t imagine Jennifer Hudson winning for Dreamgirls. It’s not that she doesn’t turn in an amazing performance, but that, like Breslin, the nomination itself seems reward enough for someone who unjustly lost out in Simon Cowell’s clown show. So I think Barraza being slightly more experienced as an actress will win her the award. Both actresses were incredible, but I have a slight preference both for Mexico and for Barraza’s incredible range from über-competent nanny to an utterly disoriented and unhinged victim of the Minutemen’s sandbox.
My Pick: Barraza
Best motion picture of the year
Prediction: Little Miss Sunshine (Oscar voters miss the main political issue, the war on terror, yet again for a delightfully, entertaining ethical sideshow – beauty pageants and the problem of skinny models)
Haven’t Seen: Thanks to catching large chunks of The Queen (a good movie, but the least worthy of the five nominated) while jointly attempting to juggle two kids under four on a plane, I can say that I’ve seen all of them.
Letters from Iwo Jima is far and away the better film with respect to The Departed, and not just because of a definite genre preference for near-minimalistic violence with a cogent political message over against totally depraved realism or, better, gangster fantasy (can one even consider using the word realism when blood splurts forth as cutely as water from some promise-keeper family’s front yard fountain?). The conclusion of The Departed is an utter failure in a way that isn’t true of its Hong Kong source material (Infernal Affairs). Whatever becomes of the letters from the girl? And, worse, why don’t things tie themselves up through such letters rather than through some mole underling who appears out of no where and somehow knows the secret identity of the top bad cop while the Boss’s favorite kid is apparently clueless as to his existence. Eastwood films have had their share of Oscar success, and thus it would have taken a hell of an overwhelmingly superior film to prevent a showdown between Little Miss Sunshine and Babel for best film.
(I was unable to participate in I Cite’s lengthy discussion of Babel, but see my comments here and here). Little Miss Sunshine was the most enjoyable film I saw this year outside of Borat, but Babel is arguably the best of González Iñárritu’s three stunningly brilliant films (and his career may take a precipitous plunge from here on out if his split with screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga remains permanent). Terrific performances. Cinematography at its very finest. A trenchant and provocative take on the war on terror. How do you defeat an Empire? Confuse it by speaking different languages at it. Everyone talks about the peeing scene, but the immediately prior one in which the all-American star of Fight Club can barely manage to knock over a tubby Australian tourist (and still loses out) is even more telling. Imperial overreaction means that a hundred or so police cars arrive to take on two little boys and their nearly toothless father hours before the arrival of an ambulance or helicopter. Bodily abandon in response to radical bodily vulnerability is offered, in each of the disparate yet intersecting stories, as a way to overcome cultural-linguistic gaps. Crash, last year’s winner, borrowed its titular trick from Arriaga (definitely my pick for best original screenplay) and González Iñárritu’s Amores Perroes, and, as one critic puts it, is like a college kid’s term paper on race in comparison to Babel’s masterstroke.
My Pick: Babel
Best foreign language film of the year
Prediction: Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico)
Haven’t Seen: After the Wedding (Denmark), Days of Glory (Indigènes) (Algeria), The Lives of Others (Germany), Water (Canada)
Definitely should have seen Water by this point. Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the most highly regarded movies of the year and probably would have made a run at Best Film if it had chosen to run in this category. Difficult to watch, but I’m liking it more and more as I think about it without trying to make sense of causality between the fable and more realistic action. Still not sure if I appreciate the combination of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Borges Labyrinth as the major influences.
My Pick: [none – see above]
Achievement in directing
Haven’t Seen: Stephen Frears' United 93 (and don’t really have any desire to)
Martin Scorsese zero. I would be very much tempted to let this joke by John Stewart from last year stand as is. No way The Academy will. It’s an incredible blight that will not be allowed to stand. Eastwood’s direction is certainly better, but then, Scorsese’s direction of The Aviator was unquestionably superior to Eastwood’s in Million Dollar Baby. I’ve seen five Scorsese features and this is my sixth favorite Scorsese film. Certainly one of his next two scheduled films (unless it’s totally flubbed, Silence) will be better. González Iñárritu would definitely be a worthy alternative. But then, this is an award for directing and Marty did somehow manage to coax an Oscar nomination worthy performance out of Marky Wahlberg.
My Pick: Scorsese
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
(9:33 AM) | Claire:
For You, Kind BloggersMy week has been marked by kindness and generosity from all reaches of the blogosphere. When I posted my desperate plea for help in finding a new job, I never expected it to be linked at the Weblog and Unfogged. But that is exactly what happened. Some readers eagerly supplied me with contacts, while others cruelly mocked my networking efforts. Coming into this week, I have a couple new contacts and more hope than ever that I may not be damned to spend eternity in my present job. I want to thank each and every one of you for the leads and support. I dedicate these hatreds to the kind strangers of the Weblog.
I hate that I found it necessary to come into work sick today to avoid the cheesefry explosion that takes place when I try to take time off.
I hate that for every one of my woes, there is a corresponding curative baked good.
I hate that I lost a spelling and drinking bee with the word 'elegy.'
I hate that after the spelling/drinking bee, I arrive at my painting class drunk and dehydrated and proceeded to make a painting so horrible that my teacher told me to stop painting and finish next week.
I hate that I let Ben Wolfson correct my grammar.
I hate that more people don't come bathe in the healing light of my blog.
If you just don't have it in you to hate, visit the McElroy family blog where it's all love- all the time.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
(10:08 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Knowing BestObviously obtaining a PhD requires a certain degree of what Walter Kaufman calls "galloping consumption," and in an interdisciplinary program such as mine, that consumption can sometimes seem especially indiscriminate. For instance, yesterday I read H. Richard Niebuhr's The Meaning of Revelation, Derrida's essay on Celan's "Meridian" speech, and part of Judith Butler's Gender Trouble. Today I hope to combine some more Butler with some Karl Rahner. It's all very exciting.
In the course of this galloping consumption, however, I sometimes like to step back and ask myself what I feel like I really know, which texts I know backwards and forwards. My list is as follows:
- Derrida, The Gift of Death
- Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals (especially the first two essays)
- Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History
- Paul, "The Epistle to the Romans"
And so, the obvious question you've all been waiting for: what texts do you know best?
UPDATE: Looking back over this post, I feel as though Butler and Rahner are as different as it is possible for two authors to be. I keep trying to come up with counter-examples, but they all sound contrived and arbitrary.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
(12:35 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Unbelievable AffrontCan you believe that anyone would write anything negative about blogs? The nerve of these people!
Someday, when archeologists are excavating our blogs, they will conclude that the purpose of blogging is to defend blogging as an enterprise. This is the one feature that unites all the variegated and incommensurable types of blogs -- from the obnoxious blog triumphalism of the early Andrew Sullivan, to the sarcastic calls for a conference on blogger ethics by Atrios, to the instinctive defensiveness of the literary blogosphere.
But not The Weblog. We are the exception that proves the rule. If we are defending blogging from anything, it is from bloggers. We are admittedly producing the worst possible blog, day after day. No one should read us. We will not replace or supplant anything. Some day, seemingly at random, it will just be gone, and that will be okay.
(11:09 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Buying Books OnlineA couple observations:
- People selling used books online apparently have a radically different concept of what "some" underlining means.
- Whenever I buy something directly through Amazon instead of from one of the used booksellers, the process of actual receiving my package is a huge ordeal, at least when I choose "standard shipping." For instance, on February 5th I paid for 3-5 day delivery; today, on the 17th, I still have no idea where my package is.
Friday, February 16, 2007
(6:08 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
The Cast of MTV's Real World - Irvine: where people stop being polite, and start getting the Real
(8:00 AM) | Dominic:
Friday Confession: Monkey Love and Baader-MeinhofI confess that I have got into the habit of looking at people and trying to imagine them as apes. Children become baby apes; old people become distinguished old gorillas with wise faces. Television newsreaders make especially good baboons. This may be the closest I will ever get to a generic love of humanity.
I confess that listening to Black metal does not make me feel any better. Stopping listening to Black metal makes me feel marginally better, compared to how I felt when I was listening to Black metal. I confess that this is the least promising mood-control technique I have
tried since I first took up smoking.
I confess that when I was a teenager my mother was terrified that I would join the local equivalent of the Baader-Meinhof gang. I confess that I have never been remotely likely to do anything of the sort. I confess that I get exactly the same kicks now out of arguing with
hard-leftists as I used to get out of arguing with members of the Christian Union at school. I confess that I am completely unserious, and will never contribute anything of value to any revolutionary movement.
I confess that I have been completely mentally enslaved by Badiou, and now see everything in terms of axiomatic set theory. I confess that this will wear off eventually. I confess that going by past experiences of complete mental enslavement by major continental philosophers this is likely to take about five years. I confess that I am very boring to talk to right now.
I confess that IT is beating me at chess. I confess that I am unreasoningly cross about this. I confess that I used to play board 11 for the County under-13s (or was it board 13 for the County
under-16s?). I confess that I got very tired indeed of all-day chess tournaments, even though they were among the few occasions besides Christian Union get-togethers when I ever got to meet girls of my own age (and girls who were into chess, moreover). Once at an all-day chess tournament three girls came up to me and asked me which of them I fancied most. I confess that I had absolutely no idea, and told them that I would have to know a lot more about their personalities before I would be able to respond meaningfully to their question. I confess
that the way they laughed at me still haunts my dreams to this day.
Now it is your turn. Confessions about chess and girls especially welcome - and multiply so if you yourself are a chess-playing girl.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
(4:26 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
God's Romantic WillI'm sure that all of us raised in the evangelical milieu have a story about a break-up caused by "God's will." Has anyone ever been told that it's "God's will" that someone get together with them? Better, has anyone ever been persuaded by such an argument?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
(1:04 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
(10:09 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
ConnectionsIf you can find Claire a job in Chicago, do so.
(1:42 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Amanda Marcotte AffairI don't have a lot of libidinal investment in "netroots" type of stuff nor in bloggers having an official role in political campaigns. It should be pretty obvious that while I would literally sooner die than vote Republican, I am not a passionate believer in the Democratic Party or in the specifically American form of "liberalism," specifically because of what Marcotte's firing represents. Bill Donohue is an absolutely despicable person, who in any sanely ordered society would never be allowed to make a public statement. Yet somehow he is dictating the hiring decisions in the Edwards campaign -- or at least manipulating Edwards into wasting his time on a personal statement disavowing Marcotte's "offensive" post about religion.
The time has long since passed for a kind of default "fair-mindedness" toward all comers. Until a Democrat can come out and say, "Bill Donohue is basically a fascist and shame on the media for continuing to give this man a public hearing," the right will continue to maintain their stranglehold over the terms of the debate. It really is necessary to shout down people, to call them what they really are without some bullshit qualifiers like "I admire his conviction." And they need to start putting pressure on the media to stop giving a voice to these people. Bill Donohue is entitled to his freedom of speech, of course -- so let him start a fucking blog.
(8:21 AM) | Claire:
Weblog CleansingIt's been a week since I was discharged from the hospital and I'm feeling marginally better. The electroconvulsive therapy treatments have been somewhat effective in reducing my major depression. I know I used to be terrified of global warming, but today I can't remember why. Thankfully, I no longer think I'm a gargoyle and I have made amends with all those affected by my psychotic episode in the metals class. I am proud to say that I have been such a model patient that I am now allowed to inject myself with Haldol and induce a near-catatonic state whenever I need to. I find it particularly helpful to shoot up before work each day. Now that I'm so comfortably numb, I can let the biting, spiteful comments, baseless accusations, and affirmations of my non-existence slide right off me. I'm no longer a gargoyle; I'm a human sieve.
I affirm that I am everything that is wrong with the Weblog. I have poisoned it with a particularly wicked and scat-tinged humor that only a 27-year-old female non-theology student could deliver. I offer myself to you, the readers: do with me what you deem necessary to once and for all cleanse the Weblog of this scatological, non-intellectual, pop-culture-obsessed pestilence that I have introduced.
I hate that I am staying up late to write the hatreds.
I hate that I have volunteered to be the first female homo sacer in the history of the Weblog.
I hate that the people at the bakery are now afraid of me because I constantly stick out my tongue.
I hate that I overdosed on Haldol and ended up soiling myself at work.
I hate that, like the sea otter, I have more hair in one square inch that a human has on its whole body.
I hate that my co-worker is so anal retentive that he can't let me set anything on his desk.
I hate that this co-worker speaks in clipped Chicago speech and looks like he will explode into mess of pizza puffs and cheese fries if he has to utter a full sentence.
I hate that I give out commemorative lapel pins to all those I have fisted.
I hate that there are still some fucktards out there who can't come to terms with my existence.
If you still don't believe, maybe you should read the Tuesday Love.
(7:53 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Archives Are FixedThis was actually posted around 11:00am, but I changed the date so as to be beneath Claire, the only behavior she tolerates. Old alerted me of a problem with the archives, which seemed to be related to our switch to the New Blogger. Browsing through the support group, I found out that the old method of archiving I used, namely a separate page, was considered to be extremely out of date even before the switch to the New Blogger. Naturally, I felt like a complete idiot for not keeping up on the latest fads in Blogger templates -- and so I remedied the problem, replacing my tidy separate page with the tacky list of each month on the front page.
I really hope that they don't phase out other Old Blogger features in favor of "ease of use," because my current template is a work of art -- conditional tags, linked stylesheets that don't require a "republish" for formatting changes, the list just goes on and on. Of all my achievements as a blogger, my template is what I'm most proud of.
Monday, February 12, 2007
(12:39 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Be Human Pig! (and Man! and Dog! and so on and so forth...)Something about this video that Infinite Thought posted really affected me. I watched it twice just enthralled with everything going on here - social-production, animal production, anti-production, fascism, the machination of nature, the force of law, etc. I know it is kind of cheesy to admit it, but this cartoon has fucked me up.
(9:25 AM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
Notice of Reduced PostingI put in the low bid, so I am now the official blogger for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. I will still stop by this fetid cesspool from time to time, but most of my bodily fluids will (understandably) be spent in the course of my official and highly-paid blogging duties. Stop by Sentator Clinton's blog later today to see lovingly PhotoShopped images of me receiving analingus from Catholic League president William Donohue.
Thank you to Mr. Kotsko for foolishly allowing me to consistently upstage him here, and thank you all for hardly ever wasting my time by commenting on my posts.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
(10:02 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Dear New York Times: Fuck YouOn their homepage, the tagline to this story is as follows: "Senior U.S. military officials presented their first public evidence for the assertion that Iran is supplying Shiite extremists in Iraq with lethal weapons." It's a triumph of non-critical parroting of government claims. Clearly, they have gone through the requisite self-examination and learned the crucial lessons of the lead-up to what future historians will call "The Fucking Iraq Clusterfuck."
I especially like that they specify that we're talking about lethal weapons here. Otherwise, I'd have assumed we were talking about your typical Nerf Bow and Arrow.
(12:56 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Parenthetical Attacks!A site called Cultural Parody Center has brilliantly skewered The Weblog:
(Speaking of the Trolls from the graduate-level Leibach fan club over at Weblog, will you please finally GRADUATE??? And change the name of the site to something INTERESTING, perhaps without ''web'' in the title? I might then consider actually reading your deep philsophy on the Holy Trinity mixed with reports on your pocket money situation!)To cut so deeply, and in an aside no less -- we are dealing with talented satirists here. In my defense, however, I will note that getting a PhD has traditionally taken a long time.
And just so you guys know -- I got my student loans, so now I'm fucking rich as hell. No worries on the pocket-money front for now.
(10:15 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Sunday Music VideosThis is an experimental new feature. Surprisingly, the YouTube dump last weekend got favorable reviews, at least the Regina Spektor post.
Gillian Welch, "Annabelle"
Cat Power, "Nude as the News"
Jay Farrar & Kelly Willis, "Rex's Blues"
Saturday, February 10, 2007
(9:14 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Bare Life or DeathSo, does the horror of a sedated auschwitz lay in the maintenance of bare life or in the deaths? Do we stick with Agamben or join the Arendtians with their fervancy for keeping life alive and bread eaten in dignity rather than cake eaten in slavery? Or, do we really make the move back to Fanon or jubilee and know that under the colonial predecents of the auschwitz event the slave often prefers the possibility of death to the continuing condition of inhumanity? It is interesting that in Paul Gilroy's account of this, he quotes Lacan: "death, precisely because it has been drawn into the functions of stake in the game... shows at the same time how much of the prior rule, as well as of the concluding settlement, has been elided. For in the last analysis it is necessary for the loser not to perish, in order to become a slave. In other words, the pact everywhere precedes violence before perpetuating it." (quoted in The Black Atlantic, 1993 p.63.) - (did Zizek get the Garner story from Gilroy?!). Death in life - is it just a metaphor? Is it so obvious to "the most superficial observer of of the processes that go on in the human body" that it is an untruth? Are the walking dead the site of political action par excellance? Should we then ask the question of: if this is not metaphor, then what could it possibly "feel like," all the time risking the assumption that it is a archetypal "experience"; something to be measured and recorded... What would Santner think?
Friday, February 09, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional:I confess that Thursday night I took a two-hour nap starting at 5:30. Whenever I wake up from one of those late naps, my heart is filled with regret.
I confess that I'm not taking advantage of the awesome new post-tagging functionality in The New Blogger.
I confess that I had a fit of profound loneliness that may have been inspired by reading Sebald.
I confess that Google Maps' recent addition of CTA and Metra stops would be a lot cooler if they would actually show the routes of the trains instead of just the stations and, more importantly, if it was actually accurate.
I confess that I have a strange habit of leaving cabinets open all the time.
I confess that I have nothing further to confess at this time.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
(7:58 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Best Robot Chicken Sketch Ever
Crave Online: Funny Videos, Sexy Videos, Music Videos, Movie Trailers, and More!
I'm sorry -- I know there have been too many videos lately, but this is seriously absolutely necessary.
(10:40 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The PoliceIn Eric Santner's class this week, we were talking about Benjamin's "Critique of Violence," which necessarily entailed a discussion of the police. We had talked about Kafka over the previous few weeks, including particularly the story that Codpiece altered yesterday, and so Santner was talking about the "Kafkaesque" element in encounters with the police -- the cop might ask you if you know what you've done, he may tell you to get out of the car without offering any explanation, etc. Free-associating on this Kafkaesque element, he suggested that the next time we were pulled over and asked if we know why, we should respond, "Some say...."
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
(3:00 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
The Cares of a BloggerSome say the word Kotsko is of Slavonic origin, and try to account for it on that basis. Others again believe it to be of German origin, only influenced by Slavonic. The uncertainty of both interpretations allows one to assume with justice that neither is accurate, especially as neither of them provides an intelligent meaning of the word.
No one, of course, would occupy himself with such studies if there were not a creature called Kotsko. At first glance it looks like a flat star-shaped spool for thread, and indeed it does seem to have thread wound upon it; to be sure, they are only old, broken-off bits of thread, knotted and tangled together, of the most varied sorts and colors. But it is not only a spool, for a small wooden crossbar sticks out of the middle of the star, and another small rod is joined to that at a right angle. By means of this latter rod on one side and one of the points of the star on the other, the whole thing can stand upright as if on two legs.
One is tempted to believe that the creature once had some sort of intelligible shape and is now only a broken-down remnant. Yet this does not seem to be the case; at least there is no sign of it; nowhere is there an unfinished or unbroken surface to suggest anything of the kind; the whole thing looks senseless enough, but in its own way perfectly finished. In any case, closer scrutiny is impossible, since Kotsko is extraordinarily nimble and can never be laid hold of.
He lurks by turns in the garret, the stairway, the lobbies, the entrance hall. Often for months on end he is not to be seen; then he has presumably moved into other houses; but he always comes faithfully back to our house again. Many a time when you go out of the door and he happens just to be leaning directly beneath you against the banisters you feel inclined to speak to him. Of course, you put no difficult questions to him, you treat him--he is so diminutive that you cannot help it--rather like a child. "Well, what's your name?" you ask him. "Kotsko," he says. "And where do you live?" "No fixed abode," he says and laughs; but it is only the kind of laughter that has no lungs behind it. It sounds rather like the rustling of fallen leaves. And that is usually the end of the conversation. Even these anwers are not always forthcoming; often he stays mute for a long time, as wooden as his appearance.
I ask myself, to no purpose, what is likely to happen to him? Can he possibly die? Anything that dies has had some kind of aim in life, some kind of activity, which has worn out; but that does not apply to Kotsko. Am I to suppose, then, that he will always be rolling down the stairs, with ends of thread trailing after him, right before the feet of my children, and my children's children? He does no harm to anyone that one can see; but the idea that he is likely to survive me I find almost painful.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
(9:37 AM) | Claire:
Taking a Psychotic BreakHi folks. I'm sorry to say that I've hit a new low. A couple days ago, I experienced a psychotic break while I was in my metalsmithing class. I should have know it was coming; the signs were there. The lines, " . . . living in a den of thieves - and it's contagious. . . " from "Us" by Regina Spektor started on an endless loop in my head, each time faster and more urgent than before. Then I got the news that the American Enterprise Institute is offering scientists and economists $10,000 each to dispute the findings of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Familiar foods started to take on entirely different tastes. It felt more and more distanced from reality. I thought that going to my metalsmithing class would be soothing and therapeutic, so I brushed my symptoms aside and headed to the art center. In class, I was struck by a sudden hunger and a strange new curiosity. I decided to sample some nickel silver, as in, eat it. I soon lost track of my band ring project and sat, semi-comatose, munching on a sheet of 20-gauge silver. No one took notice of me. After grazing on various metals, I thought, "I'm a gargoyle," and accordingly perched on a work table and gave a foreboding look to all classmates who passed by me. Needless to say, an ambulance was called and I was taken to the only psychiatric facility that accepted my crappy HMO insurance.
My insurance decided to certify one day in the hospital due to gross impairment. During my short stay, I learned that I am encopretic and respond well to intramuscular injections of Haldol. In group therapy I talked about the pressure I feel as the Tuesday Hater at the Weblog and how it's only intensified now that Scott McLemee will be linking to me. Though my fellow group members were unfamiliar with the Weblog, and academic blogging in general, they were nonetheless supportive. They told me to take the pressure off of myself - to trust that the Weblog is nurturing and understanding of the challenges that I face; any hatred I put forth will be received with open arms. Ten group members can't be wrong. I trust that you will treat my humble effort with the respect and love it deserves.
I hate that I now walk with a shuffle and can't stop sticking my tongue out.
I hate that my initial psych evaluation lasted for 15 minutes.
I hate that, despite my assertion that I was a gargoyle, my taste for metal shards, and my spells of encopresis, I was approved for only one day in the hospital.
I hate that the only treatments my insurance will pay for are Haldol and ECT.
I hate that the psychiatrist thought that the Weblog was one of my delusions.
I hate that blog war PTSD is not a recognized mental health diagnosis and is not treated by VA hospitals.
I hate that I started thrashing and screaming, "Do you know who I am? I'm the Tuesday Hater!" when I realized I was being committed to the hospital.
Post-script: My HMO later refused to pay for my hospital stay due to the hospital's providing of an incorrect diagnostic code on the claim form. I'm now accepting donations to help pay my balance.
[Editor's note: When I visited Claire in the hospital, I found a roll of toilet paper on her chest, on which she had scrawled this post. She was in restraints at the time, so I can only assume that she used a pen in her mouth -- how she unrolled and rerolled the toilet paper remains unclear at this time. In any case, she is out now, which should provide ample fodder for Tuesday Love.]
Monday, February 05, 2007
(11:02 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
TaxesSome long-time readers may remember that my tax situation last year was less than desirable. I'm here to report today that everything is back to normal, and I got a refund this year.
Thank you again to everyone who donated last year.
(8:21 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A New Semester DawnsThis week the CTS semester officially starts. I have already been in class for several weeks at this point, so this isn't so much a new beginning as an added burden: some extra reading for class, plus reading 100 pages or so of Calvin and grading reflection papers each week for Systematic Theology. The nice thing is that I will finally be getting my student loans, although currently I am faced with the problem that the business office thinks I'm taking a U of C course that I am not in fact taking. Getting that erroneous notice was very discouraging for me, not because I thought it wouldn't be resolved, but because it potentially introduces another delay and I'm really tired of being broke.
Thankfully, the quarter ends mid-March, after which point I'll have so much free time I won't know what to do with myself. In the meantime, though, my three courses -- "Creaturely Life" with Eric Santner, "Derrida and the Question of Life" with Michael Naas, and a seminar on Judith Butler with Ken Stone -- exhibit a certain thematic unity. I'm more excited about the Butler class since reading her essay on "Critique of Violence" from Hent deVries' new Massive Tome. Although Butler is stereotyped as the very worst academic writer, this essay was crystal clear and extremely helpful.
As I get ready to read some Anselm for my directed reading in medieval theology, however, I am starting to have something of a crisis of faith. Wouldn't it have made more sense if, instead of reading patristic stuff during that fateful summer, I had started in on the 20th Century Theology materials and gotten really into modern theology? That would, after all, have some kind of actual connection to the stuff I'm doing with philosophy. Plus, the language factor is holding me back from doing much serious work on the Greek figures, who are more interesting to me -- presumably if I'd done modern stuff, that wouldn't have been a factor, and in fact my German might be more nearly functional by now (i.e., more consistently beyond "dictionary reading").
The benefit, of course, is that when I give my Gifford Lectures, I won't be in the embarrassing position of citing secondary works when I do my historical exposition sections. Instead of citing Étienne Gilson, I can just go straight for the Patrologia.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
(12:39 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
I am truly a 19-year-old girl.
(11:28 AM) | Brad:
"'Fuck You,' that's my name!"Last night I wasn't really in the mood to read. I had no money to go out for a drink. There was nothing on tv. And I'd already watched the last of my Netflix DVDs. What to do, then, but rewatch one of my favorite movies, Glengarry Glen Ross? It had been several years since I'd last watched it, but the delightfulness of its dialogue has not diminished at all. Not even the now-classic speech by Alec Baldwin, of all people. I love this scene so much that I had to find out if there was a YouTube clip, and of course there was because YouTube even has video of my conception -- thanks to the unheralded soft-porn classic from the '70s, Hillbillies Gone Wild. Yeah, I know you've probably seen the speech, but I don't care, it's worth rewatching.
(8:57 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Superbowl: Pure Excitement
Super Bowl Shuffle - video powered by Metacafe
I initially saw this video while at the Red Lion with one of my many internet stalkers. If I recall correctly, they played it several times -- or it might just be that it's interminable. In any case, it is the single most awkward thing ever caught on camera. Afterward, the bartender turned it to the State of the Union, so that was a night of compelling television.
I'm not one of those nerds who is snobbish toward sports fans. I understand that not liking sports represents a lack -- obviously I'm able to become angry about things that "don't matter," and it would be nice to be able to become excited as well. It's just that I really don't understand. Sporting events always just seem like a series of random events to me. I can tell when someone does something really impressive, but strategy, etc., is completely lost on me.
I wish the Bears the best of luck.
(I originally saw that this was online via an Unfogged post I can't find now.)
(8:29 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Navel Gazing (NOW WITH VIDEO)In the last week, The Weblog's average number of visits per day shot up from around 300 to over 800. During that time, Brad wrote a very good post and I wrote a funny one, but the content of this blog mainly consisted of rehashing old arguments, to the tune of about 400 comments (not counting the 100 or so comments to other threads that fell within the same broad argument). I wrote another post that attempted to be substantive, but I sullied its substance by ranting and raving about how someone had violated my one rule of blogger ethics: viz., "It's just a blog."
This is the kind of shit that gets us vastly more traffic. It just confirms my general rule of thumb: more stupid == more visits.
But seriously, blogging can be a valuable means of professionalization for academics.
At the request of the Constructivist, my favorite Mooninite-oriented episode of Aqua Teen:
Also, since this is Official Video Day here at The Weblog, a brilliant performance by the love of my life, Feist:
Those eager for a comment war are welcome to try to replicate an Unfogged-style "hot or not" thread based on Feist. (I'll start: "I mean, yeah, I'd totally do her, but she's not, like, hot...")
Saturday, February 03, 2007
(4:37 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Anknupfungspunkt!!!Reading through The Nature and Destiny of Man, I have been struck by the relative weakness of the second volume. The first volume isn't utterly superlative, but it is more tightly argued and seems to comprise the half of theological anthropology that Niebuhr has more investment in -- sin. The second volume, by comparison, is more meandering and, as far as I can see, less creative. There is, however, one little thing that I just read that I think is really right:
The other [concept of "natural law"] is the idea of a Schoepfungsordnung, an "order of creation," which is presumably, the directive given by God in the very structure of the created world. The difficulty with this concept is that human freedom alters and transmutes the "given" facts of creation so much that no human institutions can be judged purely by the criterion of fixed principles of "creation." (pg. 197)A kind of historical materialist rejection of the idea of the "created order," which I have long thought has no place in theological reflection.
Since I'm talking about theology, I had a question today while reading Augustine. In the sentence "sed in dedecus meum creveram..." (Confessions, Book V, Chapter 9, Loeb edition), am I correct in taking "deducus" as a misprint (should be "dedecum")? I once thought I found a misprint in the Corpus Christianorum editions, which was arrogant of me, but the odds of finding a misprint in the Loeb are higher, right? [UPDATE: I was wrong on a variety of levels here. It is not a misprint.]
UPDATE: Go, everyone, and collect your 100%'s.
Via Kieran Healy.
UPDATE: I finished Nature and Destiny. Now the only Imposing Tome left on the 20th Century list is the Ritschl book.
(10:23 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
OMG! OMG!You will not believe what they're talking about at The Valve today.
This might be an occasion for some rhetorical theorizing (though I am not, strictly speaking, a rhetorical theorist). Something like "theory," as it is practiced in literature and other humanities departments, is an intrinsically -- dare I say it -- eclectic enterprise. It consists of using pieces from various bodies of thought, on the basis that these pieces will somehow prove useful or illuminating. The bodies of thought one drew on before will tend to influence the new material one will come across, but only to a certain degree -- there are always relatively isolated figures, such as JL Austin or CS Pierce, and then there are some figures who only seem to be included because they're part of a certain intellectual trajectory. Everything is pretty vaguely defined and open-ended, and people within "theory" may consider other people within "theory" to be their arch-nemeses. It's an intrinsically non-unified thing -- more of a general ethos or atmosphere.
If one wishes to critique "theory" as such, then the very nature of the thing constrains one's options. A rigorous argument is not going to be very effective, since one is arguing against a loosely associated near-cacaphony of voices. Finding contradictions within the quasi-canonical body of "theory" is also not going to work, because everyone concedes in advance that "theory" is a diverse field filled with mutually contradictory things.
The only viable option is the send-up, which John Holbo's concept of the Higher Eclecticism certainly was -- though it was somewhat hampered by Holbo's apparent belief that it was also something else. It is possible for a send-up to be "correct" in some sense. It is possible that it will persuade people -- but it is almost certain that it will not persuade the targets, especially if the send-up illegitimately presents itself as a serious argument.
One might find it instructive to recall the responses to my Theses on the Higher Eclecticism and, more recently, Prolegomena to Any Future Meta-Blogging That Will Be Able to Come Forward as a Science. Both of these, like the Higher Eclecticism itself, were send-ups -- that is, characterizations that, while perhaps "true" in some sense, are virtually guaranteed to elicit a defensive reaction from their targets -- the former being a send-up of "the Higher Eclecticism" and the latter being a send-up of something I called "academic blog triumphalism." The reaction to both was formally identical to the reaction that "the Higher Eclecticism" elicited from the "theory" fans. I expected nothing less.
As I said above, the genre of the send-up does seem to be able to persuade people in some cases, though normally not its explicit targets. At best, it can elicit in its targets the thought, "Hmm, I guess I am rather silly sometimes" -- but it is much more likely to meet with angry responses. Do those angry responses mean that something has gone wrong? Do they mean that discussion is not, on some level, happening? Or are there some situations wherein the send-up is the best option -- where calm and patient dialogue, complete with generosity toward dialogue partners, simply would not do anything at all?
I think that the answer to this last question is a decisive "yes" -- there is no one form of discourse that is intrinsically desirable for every situation. I tend more toward the forms of discourse that fall outside the "legitimate" realm of calm and patient dialogue because I object to the idolatry of liberal formalism -- the idea that if we just adhere to this appropriate and legitimate process, good results will come about. The very fact that I continue, despite everything, to successfully communicate and even occasioally to persuade shows that the liberal formalist dream of the infinite dialogue is not the only way to go.
UPDATE: In case it is deleted, please note Rich Puchalsky's latest comment:
Interesting concept of the send-up at your blog, Adam. It might work better in camoflaging the essential nastiness of what you write if you hadn’t just had a hilarious 400+ comment amateur restaging of _No Exit_, complete with various threats exchanged, and ending in a banning (that last is a model for the people here, surely).Now I'm being threatened? Yes, I'm sure it is just Anthony and me who are making The Valve such a negative atmosphere: Rich is just responding to our provocation.
The difference is that John is interested in ideas, while you are interested in flaming. It’s quite fun archiving your insults, by the way—don’t expect them to fall off the Web as you start to grow up and approach the desire to look more professional.
UPDATE(2): I've officially announced that I'm no longer participating at The Valve. Being called an asshole, being followed around in comments and harrassed for having a shitty blog, being taken off blogrolls, being yelled at, being sent e-mails telling me to calm down, etc. -- all of that is fine. I can "take it." What I can't take is participating in an online environment where someone takes it to the level of real-world threats -- even when, as in this case, I do not actually think the threats would be carried out -- and yet still being told, continually, that I am exactly equivalent to the person who takes it to that level. Being told that I am equally to blame with Rich for the situation at The Valve is a deep personal insult to me, because it implies that I am just like him. That's the kind of insult I can't take.
UPDATE(3): Dear Troll of Sorrow,
I have banned you from this blog for life. No matter what you write, no matter how relevant it is, I will absolutely delete it every time, along with any comments that respond to you. I want this to be clear, because for some reason you continue to leave comments here, apparently in the belief that they will be read.
Friday, February 02, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Mission AccomplishedI confess that The Weblog's military aggression this week against The Valve and Long Sunday has been a radically unqualified success. Further action against Crooked Timber will be unnecessary at this time because The Valve and Long Sunday have been transformed into beacons of democracy and hope for the entire academic blogosphere.
I confess that Gatorade is a veritable elixer of life and should be kept onhand at all times.
I confess that Le Colonel Chabert has joined the Troll of Sorrow, Toadvine, and Rich Puchalsky in the most originary blogological relation: the ban. Included precisely by means of their exclusion, their comments are exposed to unlimited deletion.
I confess that e-mail chess is the most addictive thing ever developed in human history, especially when I'm doing well. I confess that finding out that it's working again may well turn out to have been the worst thing ever to happen to me.
I confess that I worry too much. I confess that what might at first seem to be a disappointment often turns out to be a relief. I confess that sometimes a person who fails to give me what I want is still filling a crucial role, for which I nonetheless cannot muster any gratitude.
UPDATE: I confess that if someone would buy me a copy of either the Calvin or the Ritschl off this list, my gratitude would be eternal.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
(10:32 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Actually, it's not really a bad cover, I'm full of old woof, and one would look perfectly alright reading it on Eurostar.