Saturday, March 31, 2007
(6:18 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Negative Approval RatingsMatt Yglesias puzzles over the fact that the Israeli prime minister's approval rating is actually lower than the margin of error -- opening up the theoretical possibility of a negative approval rating.
In my mind, there's only one possible interpretation: not only does everyone in the country disapprove of this man, but even the dead are rising up in protest against him.
(11:07 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Theology Discussion ThreadIt's been a long time since we've done some good old-fashioned theology at The Weblog, since we save all the snobbish stuff for the other blog. As a result, we've lost Ahistoricality as a reader, and doubtless others. Thus, this theology thread is an attempt to slow down The Weblog's inevitable decline.
The question for discussion is this: Aside from just rejecting Christianity as a whole (being a pagan, a Buddhist, etc.), is there a way to depart from Christian orthodoxy that would not be substantially anticipated by the classical heresies?
One example I thought of this morning would be to deny outright that God is the creator -- the universe came into being through naturalistic processes, and God just stumbled upon it and decided to intervene. Yet wouldn't this be only a slight variation on Marcion, for whom the redeemer God was not the creator God? Cutting out the evil creator God does not seem to me to be a structural change sufficient to say that my harebrained theory is not a variation on Marcionism.
Friday, March 30, 2007
(11:05 PM) | Brad:
Friday Night JazzIt's a gorgeous, mild Friday evening here in the Midwest, so I'm sitting by an open window watching the hipster girls in skinny jeans stroll through the nearby galleries & the boys in jackets two sizes too big follow them with their own style of loyal indifference. Oh, to be so ironic! The scene for me now is set to music, and tonight it is Charles Mingus' absolutely indispensable Mingus Ah Um. When the gospel wailings of its opening track, 'Better Git It In Your Soul,' are screaming in my ear, my apostate soul shakes, and for a moment, if only for about next seven or eight minutes, everything (from damnation to redemption to those boys with the awful haircuts) makes a little more sense.
Listen, and enjoy.
(7:54 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Down with the SicknessI confess that after sleeping through most of yesterday, I woke up this morning and still felt kind of sick. I confess that I'm such an idiot about medical matters that I can't even diagnose a cold with any confidence, partly because I assume that almost any health issue is "allergies." I confess that yesterday I started to wonder if I get sick more than most people and whether I might be considered "sickly" -- that's right: I instinctively moved beyond my actual sickness to ponder the possibility of meta-sickness.
I confess that Claire didn't bring me any soup, so I ultimately had to go to Walgreen's to pick up a can and then heat it up myself. I also got some of those pseudo-ephedrine pills, which I've come to believe will ultimately solve any health problem I have, but which require a tedious process of documentation whenever I purchase them. The nice thing is that when this sickness passes, I'll be able to use the leftover pills to make meth.
I confess that once I finish the Minjung Theology anthology (and therewith the Asian theology section of the list), I will have only the following books left for 20th Century Theology:
- Ritschl, The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation
- Pannenberg, Anthropology in Theological Perspective
- Metz, Faith in History and Society
- Soelle, Christ the Representative
- Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding
- Adler, Engendering Judaism
- Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai
I confess that I probably need to go back to bed.
I confess that Brad sent me the most disturbing YouTube video I've ever seen:
Thursday, March 29, 2007
(4:40 PM) | Brad:
Mr. SprinklesWelcome to the world of Mr. Sprinkles, via Acceptable TV.
(9:19 AM) | John Emerson:
The Lying Baptists have taken overMonica Goodling, one of the Republican commissars responsible for misleading Congress about the US Attorney firings, is a graduate of Messiah College and Regent University. The goal of Regent University ("The nation's academic center for Christian thought and action") is to combine quality education with biblical teachings and produce "Christian leaders who will change the world".
In other words, it's a training school for Christian political operatives. The webpage doesn't mention any affiliation other than with Pat Robertson, but it seems obvious from Goodling's behavior that these schools are strongholds of the famous Lying Baptists.
God works in wondrous ways. If Jesus could turn water into wine, he can turn crooks into believers and believers into crooks. Praise Him!(Crossposted at Seeing the Forest.)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
(9:28 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Evangelical MemoriesJodi has a post up about the politics of profanity. Her point about the ways in which people accused of wrongdoing will often make a bigger deal out of any profanity used in the accusation reminds me of the preacher Tony Campolo, who once told an audience, "A lot of people you know are well on their way to hell, and you don't give a shit. In fact, you care more about the fact that I just said 'shit.'"
Aside from being an evangelical, Campolo is actually a pretty cool guy. From what I understand, he was kind of blackballed by the evangelicals because he was a spiritual advisor for Clinton during the blow-job scandal. A couple years ago, my parents wanted his new book for Christmas, and I couldn't find it at any of the Christian bookstores. They probably had to conserve space for all the copies of The Couples Who Aren't Ready for Children But Are Getting a Dog as a "Test Run" Study Bible (2nd edition).
(10:33 AM) | Claire:
I met with Kotsko last week to discuss the Life and Times of Big Calabaza international conference, but our conversation quickly dissolved into blog gossip. I will tell you that Kotsko's level of self esteem is positively correlated with how much time he spends with me. This is an indisputable fact.
A couple days ago, I relapsed into blog PTSD after I outed CR's location and thought I was responsible for his murder. I later found out that although there was an attempt on his life, he survived with a broken hand and a severed T1 line. I suspect a certain LATOBC reader was responsible, but I have no substantive evidence.
I hate that I rolled out of bed at the time I was supposed to be at work and arrived a half an hour late. I hate that I look like a slacker college student with my ripped flare-leg jeans, "Que pasa calabaza?" t-shirt, and water sandals.
I hate that I'm working on a new blog character: a washed up former porn star named Dick Manitoba.
I hate that I'd like to introduce a new feature to the hatreds-- Hot Man of the Week, or perhaps, The Tuesday Man-Sausage. This week features Joseph Gordon Levitt, of the indie films "Brick" and "Mysterious Skin." I know he looks young, but I guarantee he's legal.
I hate that some of you may feel threatened by these images, but I think it's important that you experience "the female gaze."
I hate that as I was walking home from my painting class, I was hit by a flying egg.
I hate that I'll never know who did this to me.
I hate that I stole the pseudonym "Assblaster, PMP" and attempted to hijack a comment thread.
I hate that I'm about to send an admiring male fan selected results of my Google image search on Ron Jeremy.
I hate that I'm funnier than Carlos Mencia, yet I don't have my own show on Comedy Central.
I hate that I answer three hundred fucking phone calls per day -- and 90% are from parents who think their children's bad behavior is due to a curious biological disorder called ADHD.
Monday, March 26, 2007
(9:19 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Secret Outline of the Next Season of 24A major national crisis requires Pres. Bill Buchanan to call on Jack Bauer, who has been sidelined in some way. He reluctantly agrees to do this one last mission. Buchanan thanks Jack and tells him that he trusts Jack's judgment.
The initial presenting problem is solved within three hours, but Jack discovers that a much bigger attack is in the works. As CTU changes its focus, tensions are high; everyone gets to take his or her turn reminding co-workers that a national crisis is no time for petty office politics.
A situation comes up in which the president has to make a really tough call. Normally, the president would decide against Jack, but since Buchanan exists only to go along with Jack's instincts, that option is closed to the writers.
But at a crucial moment, Pres. Buchanan is somehow taken out of action, forcing Jack to deal with an evil vice-president who thinks Jack is a loose cannon. (It is never explicitly stated, but in 24-land it is constitutionally required for either the president or the vice-president to be evil -- but not both.) The vice-president makes the wrong call, but Jack goes against him and saves the day; Jack is thereby vindicated. Chloe is instrumental in this action when she gives Jack access to computer resources "under the radar."
The bigger problem, however, is that the vice-president's faction was actually behind the terrorist plot the whole time, because he wants to go to war for undisclosed reasons. ("This country" is the most detail we get.) Thus Jack spends the remainder of the season trying to do something to constrain the destructive actions of his own government -- but a monkey-wrench is thrown into the mix when Jack's love interest is put in danger!
In the course of this, the various moral ambiguities of torture are explored: at least one innocent person is tortured or threatened with torture, maybe one person is tortured to death before he can give up the information, but most of the time torture works pretty well. Also, a variety of private citizens find themselves in a situation in which they bravely agree to help Jack; all of them die.
Through it all, no one quite manages to ask the obvious question: "How did we get into a situation where our anti-terrorism program basically consists of this one guy?"
(3:18 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Trapped...So, after writing a masters thesis in 2006, the conclusion of which specifically made a point of juxtaposing Berlin's two concepts of liberty as encapsulating the Zeitgeist with Franz Fanon's writings on violence, later that year the political philosopher and Arendt scholar Junichi Saito writes a book on Freedom which starts from the premise that Berlin's two concepts describe well our predicament under neoliberalism, and now Adam Curtis comes along in 2007 with a documentary that, despite a gross rehash of the 1960s caricature of Fanon, does exactly the same thing! You know, it kind of makes one wonder that I might have extremely well developed telepathic powers and that in a thought I can influence entire sections of intellectual life around the world...
The whole series is now online here.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
(2:03 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Continuing AdventuresFor those who are interested, Anthony and I are having another debate on religion at Jodi Dean's site, primarily with Sinthome.
I just characterized Sinthome's position as "astonishingly unconvincing," which was admittedly rude, but it really is what I think. This kind of behavior is probably what accounts for my relative unpopularity as a blogger and for the huge amount of traffic my picture generated -- people wanted a face to picture while practicing with their sniper rifles. (I will quietly note, however, that my arch-rival, the well-meaning and universally loved Scott Eric Kaufman, was actually threatened with sniper fire a while back -- whereas I have gone four years without a death threat.)
(9:38 AM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
Gentlemen, Behold!Since the loathsome Kotsko has deployed his gruesome visage upon us all, along with the stark beauty of his dominatrix, Claire, it seems only fair that my appearance be revealed as well.
This is a picture of me when I was a little constipated and wanted to try to "speed things along":
This is an image of me watching my lover, Anne Hathaway, approach me for purposes of passionate lovemaking:
And this, of course, is Anne Hathaway:
I don't have any pictures of us together at this time, but don't doubt me for a second: we are totally dating.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
(10:14 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
"True life is absent."[UPDATE: The Wikipedia entry Blog calls most of the assertions in this first paragraph into radical question. I swear that I wasn't making this stuff up -- I read an article on the history of blogging once that was heavily focused on link-based blogs. Of course, it is always possible for me to simply tear out that article and create one that coheres with my genealogy. Indeed, I am sore tempted to do so.] The most curious thing about the infamous n+1 article about blogging isn't its perhaps ill-informed attack on literary blogs (adequately addressed here and here), but its apparent ignorance of the history of blogging. The author appears to believe that including links represents a degeneration of the form, yet it is my understanding that the "web log" in its originary sense was precisely a collection of interesting links. In our post-Google world, we may think that such a function is redundant, but it was absolutely crucial at the time. Those of us who were coming into our own when Altavista was at the cutting edge of search technology can muster no resentment toward a format that compiled links -- and in fact, Google capitalized on the labor of bloggers to make its search algorithm so effective. Contrary to n+1's ill-informed grumblings, it is precisely online diaries, a form valorized by n+1, or at least valorized in some imagined previous incarnation, that represent, if not a degeneration, then at least a mutation in the function of the blog. [UPDATE (2): I found the article that substantiates my claims! Better: in a Google search for "history of blogging," it comes in first place, meaning it is more authoritative than the Wikipedia entry.]
That said, I can sympathize with those who feel slightly betrayed by n+1's swipes at blogging. After all, what up and coming print publication has been more vigorously promoted by blogs than n+1? The literary or theory-oriented blogs represented a ready-made public and a means of free promotion for n+1's product. Of course, given my previous chiding of a certain Long Sundayan for his exaggerated veneration of n+1, that journal's attack on literary blogs as glorified fan sites is a fairly straightforward example of poetic justice, even if it wasn't consciously executed as such (a representative of n+1 clarified that of course they weren't referring to Long Sunday or The Valve...).
Of course, I am aware that no one will respond to what I'm saying here, because I'm not Scott Eric Kaufman. That guy can't belch without getting 1000 links and 100,000,000 visits, and yes: I'm jealous of him for that. Nonetheless, I press bravely onward, sure that my consistently high-quality product will one day get the recognition it deserves. Failing that, however, I plan to wait for something interesting to happen to me and spend the rest of the time meta-blogging about how blogging is affecting my career (short answer: not at all, from what I can tell).
In conclusion, then, I enjoyed the n+1 article on blogging, nearly as much as I enjoyed the sections on cell phones and e-mail. I am disappointed, however, because I was going to blog about how people with headsets initially look schizophrenic, and they stole my idea. Curse you, n+1! Curse your keen observations, your rapier wit, your penchant for paradox, your resigned bemusement!
Friday, March 23, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: The Walking CureI confess that yesterday evening, I took a long walk down Lincoln Ave. solely for the sake of getting out of the house. I confess that I went to Powell's and didn't buy anything. I confess that I always feel like the staff at Powell's is annoyed at me for coming in (this applies to any location).
I confess that the Chicago "L" website is a serious timesink. I confess that it pisses me off when I try to copy a "link location" from Google search results and get a mile-long Google redirect address rather than the address of the actual page.
I confess that I'm a little bit scared that Fred Thompson of TV's Law and Order is going to run for president. I confess that I would strongly consider not running for president if my wife had cancer. I confess that I sometimes worry that the reason the Democrats aren't impeaching Bush is that they envision either themselves or a member of their own party as president and don't want to set the "dangerous precedent" of constraining executive power in any way. I confess that it should be illegal for any Republican to use the words "political" or "partisan."
I confess that I love sleeping with a fan on because it helps me to fall asleep faster, but then it creates problems when it's time to get out of bed in the morning.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
(1:14 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The new n+1 has arrived!I've been increasing my intake of Mexican food and coffee in anticipation of this momentously important event (Ereignis).
(7:28 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
What Adam Kotsko should look like
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
(10:33 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Sanctity of Life[Cross-posted from An und für sich.]
In an online discussion forum, someone linked to this article as an encouraging sign that evangelicals are breaking out of the Republican mold. I was skeptical, due to the frequent references to the "sanctity of life" as the core commitment motivating, for example, environmental concern. Similar arguments are often made to try to convince Christians that they should oppose the death penalty or the war in Iraq. We all know, however, that if opposition to abortion is at the core of Christian political action, everything else is ultimately dispensible -- witness the crass threats made by certain Catholic bishops against anyone who would vote for a pro-choice candidate in 2004.
One might argue that it's merely a contingent fact that opposition to abortion leads inexorably toward supporting reactionary politics. I'm not so sure, though. If we're thinking in the most abstract sense possible, then being in favor of "life" does seem to cohere well with opposing the death penalty, war, pollution, etc. But let's look at what this means in practice: being in favor of outlawing abortion means being in favor of giving the state the authority to force a woman to give birth to a child against her will. It means being in favor of giving the state the authority to claim that whenever a woman engages in consensual sex (since we know that there is no 100% effective birth-control method), she is implicitly consenting to become pregnant and give birth to a child -- that is, the authority to determine that sex is always necessarily related to procreation. In this sense, opposition to homosexuality and contraception is much more coherent with opposition to abortion than is opposition to war or the death penalty.
On a more conceptual level, the rhetoric of the pro-life movement posits each individual "life" as standing in direct and unmediated relation to the state. I am not denying that the fetus is in some sense a "life" -- though it is so largely as a potentiality rather than an actuality. But what is so pernicious about pro-life rhetoric is that it gives the state a claim over that minimal potential life from the very moment it comes into existence -- a claim that gives the state the right basically to coerce the woman into preserving that minimal life until it emerges into a fuller actuality. What this ignores is the particular situation of pregnancy, the fact that a human life cannot emerge into actuality without a woman being party to it in a very serious and sometimes even life-threatening way. I have had discussions with pro-lifers, however, in which they viewed the fetus's dependence on the woman as a simple matter of "location," meaning that it was morally incoherent to allow a "life" to be "murdered" based on the contingent fact of its "location" -- as though the woman is simply a machine for producing babies.
To refuse to devote one's body to allowing that potential life to emerge is doubtless never an easy decision, nor should it be -- this is where the rhetoric of "choice" is often much too simplistic. Yet the rhetoric of "choice" is much closer to the truth than the sheer moral idiocy that equates abortion with murder and with the Holocaust. The idea that the state should be in the business of regulating "life," birth, sexuality, is much closer to the ideas that stood at the root of the Holocaust than is the idea that a woman should not be forced to bear a child against her will. Look at how often the opposition to abortion -- so often coupled with opposition to homosexuality and contraception in these cases -- is couched in terms of demography and relative racial advantage. ("The Mexicans will overrun us if our women keep extinguishing our beautiful white seed!") One could argue that this extremism bears no relation to the moral concerns that motivate many pro-lifers, but that is much too equivocating a position -- the pro-life movement is always necessarily complicit with a biology-based nationalism because it ultimately always instrumentalizes the female body.
In principle, then, I hold that one must be rigorously anti-family and unequivocally opposed to the "sanctity of life." (I responded as such to the posting of the article on the online forum, and I received no responses.)
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
(10:18 AM) | Claire:
Cockblocked From Every DirectionI must say I feel a certain vulnerability and sadness after posting a photo. Readers can no longer fantasize about a cuddly sea otter or a mysterious, potty-mouthed woman. In some ways, my picture has served to put limits on your imagination-- perhaps to extinguish your mental images of my classic beauty, my shy smile, my long flowing locks, my plunging cleavage. I'm sorry if I have let anyone down. That was not my intention.
As this is the Tuesday Hatred, I do have a couple gripes:
I hate that Almeida hijacked a very productive and flattering comment thread about the Kotsko/Claire picture. I urge all of you to visit Unfogged and once again steer the thread toward comments about my beauty and Kotsko's smokin' hotness.
I hate that I effectively cockblocked myself by bringing up my blog several times at the now famous St. Patrick's Day party.
I hate that when someone at the party asked about what I added to the Weblog, I replied,"Rigid discipline."
I hate that the guy to whom I said this responded with a knowing smile and said, "I think I understand."
I hate that instead of interact with the many swingin' singles in attendance at the party, I used about a half hour to drunk dial Ben Wolfson.
I hate that by the end of the night I was reduced to absentmindedly shoving Peeps in my mouth and stealing a leprechaun's hat.
I hate that the more I drank, the less interesting the party guests seemed.
I hate that after posting the famous photo, no one has approached me with a contract for a blogging reality show.
I hate that Adam used a comment thread to tell me he is pregnant.
I hate that Brad and I are in charge of the baby shower.
As always, I urge you to visit Richard. It's better than therapy.
Monday, March 19, 2007
(5:25 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Truth Will Set You Free
Violating nearly four years of strict Weblog policy, an image of me with blogging mega-star Claire appears above, courtesy of Marta's roommate Meleah. Claire is the Paltrow-esque woman in red, and I'm the guy who should've shelled out for the anti-glare treatment on his glasses and who apparently has no right arm. Other pictures from this blow-out St. Patrick's Day party are reported to exist. [Claire has written an account of the party from her unique perspective.]
I must say, for sartorial purposes, St. Patrick's Day is my favorite holiday -- women in green are automatically hotter in my estimation, particularly if it is a "Gumby" shade of green. I have yet to track down the origin of this preference, which seems to have come about relatively recently.
[Compare and contrast.]
(1:20 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Bultmann BlegDoes anyone know where to find a passage where Bultmann claims that the only things we can know for sure about the historical Jesus is that he was crucified and that the sign reading "King of the Jews, etc." was hung above him? Passages not including the reference to the sign, but still mentioning the crucifixion, would be a nice consolation prize.
Thank you in advance for your careful attention to this matter.
(11:01 AM) | Brad:
Notes and Errata
I've been meaning to post something for a few weeks now, but something always comes up just at the moment I feel like I have the words to express whatever was on my mind at the time. I've no such excuse now, but I won't subject you to a series of catch-up posts. One should do just fine. So, a few thoughts:
I don't generally have a lot of positive things to say about Indianapolis, but, wow, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is pretty damn nice. Def. worth a trip. Should keep you busy enough to ignore the rest of the city. Esp. check out their fine collection of crafts & three Frank Stella installations -- oh, and one of the most curiously vulgar nudes in late-19th century American painting. Chicago gets nicer each time I visit. I may very well never leave the next time I'm there. Adam's proximity to Potbelly's makes me wonder how long it'll be before he actually starts gaining weight. The bastard. A couple of random Chicago notes. First, just before I left on Sat. morning, I wandered around Lincoln Square, and was really thrown off by how much it (or at least the street I was on) felt like the Main Street of Small Town, America -- except for the fact that (a) people lived there and (b) the people who lived there had families -- an annoying number of kids, actually, now that I think about it. I even saw a shopowner putting out two bowls on the sidewalk, one filled with dog biscuits & the other with water. I didn't feel the least bit bad about stealing one of the biscuits for my dog back in Cincinnati. Second, I think the weather must've put everybody in a good mood, because I never had a more pleasant city-driving experience. People were waving me over, smiling, using turn signals. Bizarre. I flipped off an old lady driving the speed limit on Lake Shore Drive just to make it feel more like home. Tom Altizer's visit to CTS was, I think, a success. I had a good time anyway; and I think many aspects of it meant a great deal to him, esp. the return to the site of his first 'real' conversion. I don't think, though, most of the people there were prepared for how attuned he is to preaching. If he considers himself a Satanologist, he surely is its most engaging evangelist. Of course, as he would quickly admit, he is not as 'on' as he used to be, and doesn't feel he is as effective. This is probably true. But I'm still pretty staggered at how engaged he is with the life of the mind at nearly eighty. His first talk, in my estimation, was his best. Here, he very concisely talked about nihilism & American politics, and engaged in a lively debate about his appeal to nihilism as both a positive & a negative force -- there is, in my opinion, something to this worth exploring all the more. His second talk was about the absence of Satan in theology. For a moment, Jonathan Edwards was smiling in his grave. And for his final talk he read an unpublished chapter from his memoir. I felt this last talk was the weakest, but only because it dragged a bit toward the end -- esp. compared to his previous presentations, which were amazingly concise & clear for being fully extemporaneous. The man, one of the last who welcomes his damnation, can also still drink & curse like a sailor. And last, don't let her innocent appearance fool you, my dog is a badass. Yesterday the wife & I were invited to bring her along to a cookout. Things were going fine for about fifteen minutes. There are about four or five other dogs. Ireland was bouncing around and having a good time running after balls & trying to steal sips of beer, when suddenly she & a dachshund named Dandy caught scent of a wild rabbit in the yard. They both went on the hunt, but only Ireland emerged with the prey. Blood on her snout & teeth, Ireland paraded through the circle of guests and around the firepit with the poor animal dangling from her jaws. As I chased her down, I heard the screams of children & adults alike, 'That poor bunny!!!', and sternly tried to dissuade this newly feral beast from shaking the rabbit any further, as the fur was beginning to fly dangerously in the direction of the food. I finally got the dead rabbit from her, despite her token growls & cries of protest, and the bunny was flung in the front yard for the family to deal with later. The last time she caught her intended prey (the only other time), it was a bird at the park, and it took about a week for her swelling pride to diminish to a nearly manageable level. Until then, she will race with all the vim & vigor her newfound bloodlust can manage toward every bird & squirrel downtown. It should be a fun week. Oh, I almost forgot. Barring something unforeseen, namely me getting one of the jobs I've applied for, I'm going to be moving to San Francisco sometime late next month.
(8:07 AM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
|1||Wade ||54||40 of 48||99th||5719 ▼867|
|2||Wrigley ||47||35 of 48||79th||408821 ▲21243|
|2||The Most Important Event Ever * (Brad)||47||36 of 48||79th||408821▼228182|
|4||Discard ||45||35 of 48||64th||712485 ▲41756|
|4||IndianaGQ (gabe)||45||35 of 48||64th||712485▼282421|
|6||dave (Belcher?) ||42||32 of 48||40th||1190691▼262104|
|7||Moral Excavation ||41||31 of 48||33rd||1324446 ▲56661|
|7||Entfremdung ||41||32 of 48||33rd||1324446▼229040|
|9||the tokyo police club (Amish?) ||35||28 of 48||12th||1734882 ▼39237|
|10||Good Old Doug Johnson's Picks (djjohnso)||33||28 of 48||10th||1774406 ▲15345|
Wade's en fuego. The Tokyo Men in Blue refused to fill out an entire region (or a 1/4 of the bracket) and Good Old Doug Johnson is still bring up their rear!
Sunday, March 18, 2007
(10:47 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Weird QuestionDoes anyone live in Wales, specifically Cardiff? If so, can I sleep on your floor in July?
Saturday, March 17, 2007
(2:27 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Profound BoredomAs many readers know, I am something of a workaholic. Most of the time, this produces a perfectly healthy and happy lifestyle. Sometimes, however, it leaves me in an unfavorable position. Today, for instance, I have already finished my paper for Eric Santner's class, which I found interesting and enjoyable to write. My immediate options for what to do this weekend are as follows:
- Read Calvin (for the class I'm TAing)
- Read Gordon Kaufman's In Face of Mystery (for the 20th Century exam)
There are other options, I suppose, but they're too much work for the weekend.
Anyway, reflecing idly today on how far I've come since I started reading church fathers the summer before last, I realize that by the time I'm done with my coursework, I'll have read a decent sampling of primary texts from virtually every era of Christianity, though some will obviously be thinner than others. I hear there is one "Greatest Hits" anthology each for Lutheran and Reformed scholasticism, so I could pick that up, then read through Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum (only $29!), and then officially be the most boring and irrelevant person on the face of the earth.
Luckily, my knowledge of Agamben and Zizek makes me "sexy." Plus apparently nearly a quarter of my coursework is about feminism ("Womanist and Feminist Christologies," "Judith Butler," and "French Feminism" [forthcoming]), so I guess that means I'm a feminist. With any luck, I can be one of those really cool and sensitive guys who knows more about feminism than any woman. Then when that doesn't get me any action, I can complain that women only like assholes -- i.e., I could be so feminist I'm misogynist! Irony: so sadly typical in this postmodern age.
I just know that some smart ass is going to suggest that I do something fun today, but I'd like to preemptively reply: Doing fun stuff costs money! And anyway, I am going to a huge blow-out party tonight at Marta's house, where I've heard rumors that blogging mega-star Claire (an actual real person) will be putting in an appearance.
If Liz Armstrong still lived in Chicago, this is definitely the party she would be going to. Complete with a punch fountain!
Friday, March 16, 2007
(11:27 AM) | Claire:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Two Days To 'Sobriety'After my brief brush with fame and my descent into methamphetamine addiction, traffic to my blog has, predictably, plummeted. I think it's going to be hard to gain back the trust of those I hurt during my weekend binge. Honestly, all of this still feels pretty raw-- I feel unable to further elaborate on my mental state. You'll be mildly happy to know that my HMO certified me for two days of medical detox-- which did give me two straight days without meth or coke in my system. After I was discharged from the hospital, I used again, but in a totally controlled and responsible way. I'm excited to have entered the revolving door of HMO regulated substance abuse treatment. If I run out of drugs, I'll probably admit myself again-- and maybe if I'm lucky, they'll keep me for the maximum five days of treatment. That should give me enough time to think of how to score more crissie and blow when I get out.
I confess that my HMO will not cover a septum replacement.
I confess that I have about five good teeth left.
I confess that I have contracted Kotsko to give complimentary facials at an upcoming party.
I confess that I finally checked out Burning Angel and Casting Couch Teens and found them both amusing.
I confess that I became jealous when I saw someone use a public aid card to pay for a doughnut at the bakery.
I confess that I thought "It would be nice to get baked goods--for 'free.'"
I confess that I'm thinking about buying a TV just so I can watch the Sarah Silverman Program.
I confess that this heavenly creature would ditch Natalie Portman is he only knew that I speak his language: Spanish.
I confess that I'm trying to lure gay men to this blog.
I confess that I am allowing myself to be spiritually wounded by a hostile cat lady at work.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
(12:33 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Technical QuestionDear lazyweb:
How can I get German spellcheck on Microsoft Word? Mine only came with English, French, and Spanish.
Bonus question: is there a Latin spellchecker?
Chicago Theological Seminary
(8:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
I Palindrome IVia Brad, I give you Weird Al's greatest work:
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
(12:32 PM) | Claire:
A Tiny Vessel Adrift In the BlogosphereI'll first admit that I worry about all of you will receive this post. Given that most of you have never and will never achieve the level of fame that I reached this weekend, you may feel lost as you read my account of my ascent to stardom.
On Saturday, March 10, 2007, at approximately 2:30pm, a well-known blogger--a large mammal in the TTLB ecosystem to be exact--linked to me. I'm assuming you all are familiar with Bitch PhD . . . Within seconds, my fledgling blog received traffic from all around the world. People, desperate for online cognitive therapy, inundated my comment threads with their negative, depressing thoughts. I felt at once all-powerful and painfully inadequate. Instead of taking the time to reframe each and every negative thought, I instead chose to ride the wave of my newfound star power into the turbulent waters of the high-powered blogosphere. Below is my account of my fifteen minutes of fame and my rather cliche decline.
I can't believe Bitch PhD linked to me! I feel like the prom queen or at least a high-ranking member of the homecoming court. . . It's weird being a star-- it seems that all of the dreary, ordinary aspects of my life are suddenly very interesting. Yesterday I was featured in Us Magazine's "Stars: They're Just Like Us" section. There's a shot of me blogging in my underwear and one of me rolling my eyes while answering a stupid phone call at work. I have always found the little details of my life to be exceedingly interesting and I'm glad the public has finally caught on. After repeatedly seeing my image in print and film, I began to think about the fleeting nature of youth and beauty. I realized that a only have a few more years until I officially 'peak' and that I really need to take advantage of my physical assets while I still have them. Following this realization, I got L.A.T.O.B.C. (Life and Times of Big Calabaza- the name of my blog) tattooed in Gothic letters on my stomach. After joining the bad-ass ranks of the tattooed and pierced, I posted some of my photos on Burning Angel and received several thousand comments from admirers of all genders and species.
Having become an international sex symbol, I could count on the fact that at any given moment, there was at least one fourteen-year-old boy, girl or sea otter masturbating to my avatar. As a prominent public figure, I concluded that the time had come for me to hire a manager. I asked Kotsko- but he politely declined, citing a heavy academic load. I then asked Brad, who happily agreed to represent me.
As I clawed my way to the top of the blog heap, I became less and less concerned about the world around me. After all, what does the war in Iraq or global warming have to do with my image? When friends tried to engage me in political discussions, I found myself saying things like, "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes."
My memories for the dates of March 9th through March 11th follow no chronological sequence. In this short time period, I experienced something akin to an extended blackout; I have had to rely on eyewitness testimony to piece together the events of these two days. I wrote the following description of the flashbacks of this time period that are slowly trickling into my consciousness.
New York City: With a group of ten or so fellow bloggers, I check into a seedy motel. After we crowd into the dingy room, Apostropher breaks out the Tina he scored earlier that day. John Holbo and I take the first bumps. I wake up the next day with club music pounding in my ears, and with the nagging feeling that I have taken my relationship with several well-known bloggers "to the next level."
Palo Alto, California: After an all-night drinking binge, I stumble into Ben's apartment. I vomit on his vinyl collection and destroy several of his rare musical instruments. Ben accuses me of being drunk, so I proceed to beat him with assorted articles of cat furniture. He flees to a motel and files a police report. I later convince him not to press charges.
New York State Throughway, Mohawk Travel Plaza: In a congenial men's urinal, I snort lines off Ogged's bare ass. I think, "I've finally arrived."
When I regained consciousness on March 12th, I was startled to find that my nostrils had fused and I had lost 30 lbs. My teeth were the consistency of the inside of a ripe cantaloupe and there were small animals nesting in my hair. I quickly found a computer and saw that daily traffic to my blog had dropped from 800 to 50 visits per day. My page rank came up as a zero. I tried to collect call Bitch Phd, then Matt Yglesias then Ben but no one would accept the charges. I hobbled into a public library, defeated and desperate, and wrote what became this post.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Role Reversal[This week, Claire will be doing the Confessional, while I will be -- and indeed am -- doing the Hatred.]
I hate getting caught up reading old posts and comment threads. I hate being in a bad mood such that taking a walk through my lovely neighborhood in absolutely perfect weather feels like a chore.
I hate that the previews for next week's 24 indicate that there is going to be a mole in CTU, and the only possible candidate I can see is none other than Nadia, who is -- by sheer and absolute coincidence -- an Arab. I hate how the right-wing bias of the show has become so incredibly obvious in retrospect, now that we know the show's creator is a total nutjob. I hate that Marisol Nichols, the actor who plays Nadia, is a Scientologist.
I hate that my legs are starting to hurt from sitting cross-legged too often. I hate that I apparently recently decided to start sleeping in such a way that my wrists are bent and my head is resting on my arm. Such a position has negative consequences, and I can't detect any benefits.
Hate-filled as I am, I actually have more to contribute to Tuesday Love this week.
Monday, March 12, 2007
(9:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Kotsko's Greatest Hits 2006This list will actually cover the period from October 2005 to December 2006; for previous greatest hits, see this post.
- Relevance as such
- The Spamness of the Spam
- An Analysis of Smacking
- Deconstruction of Christianity
- The Truth Will Set You Free (on Horowitz)
- Truth Hurts
- Carman: Musical Terrorist
- Assessing the Damage: Fatherly Reflections, pt. 1 of 2
- Potential for Future Damage: Fatherly Reflections, pt. 2 of 2
- One Year Ago Today
- The Love of God
- The Real State of Exception
- Let the True Work Begin -- On Theory: Speeches To Its Smug Despisers (co-authored with Brad)
- Proposed New Logo for the Republican Party (image by Jared Sinclair)
- The Reason Jesus Hasn't Come Back Yet
- Trial Logic and Everyday Life
- The Job
- Language Learning
- Abortion: A Stalinist Perspective
- Moderate Voices: Shut the Fuck Up
- On the old saw, "It's hypocritical to complain about economic injustice when you could be doing more to help the poor"
- The Use of Study
- On Academic Blogging: A Diagnosis
- The American Dream: On the Necessity of Rejecting It
- Supporting Troops (on the necessity of not doing it)
- How I'll Make My Millions
- Education as Useless
- Against National Security
- Tuesday Hatred: At Least I Know I'm Free
- Between Boredom and Anxiety
- On Shabbiness
- The Way Things Are Today (on the boringness of blogs)
- Close Reading
- The Work of the People: A Sunday Meditation
- Process and Conspiracy
- Rhetorical Strategy
- Some Thoughts on Marx
- Philosophy of the 21st Century
- Human Interaction
- For a Return to the Spurious
- The Necessity of Marxism
- The Coffee Singularity
- A Year With No Christmas
Also check out F. Winston Codpiece III's greatest work: The Adam Kotsko Hoax.
I am ending this in December 2006 so as to allow for an annual "look back" henceforward.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
(7:00 PM) | Brad:
A Friendly CompetitionBecause I'm an idiot and still haven't changed my clock, I missed the NCAA College Basketball Selection Show. But this doesn't diminish its world-defining importance. If you are a basketball fan at all, this is truly and absolutely and fundamentally going to be a fabulous tournament. There is no question in my mind of this.
With this in mind, I propose a fully radical Weblog competition. Whether you love or or hate basketball, know everything or know nothing, you're invited to a wager-free pool, whose reward is apocalyptic glory. If you're interested in participating, and I do mean anybody reading these words, let me know via comments (be sure to include your email address) and I'll forward along the invite.
Update: If you don't want to broadcast your email address to everybody, just provide it in the appropriate field of the comment box. It won't show up for all to see, but I can access it via Haloscan.
(11:59 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Protestant Work EthicThis morning, while all of you were sleeping, lounging, etc., I was hard at work. Not only that, I was hard at work reading John Calvin. If anyone embodies the Protestant work ethic, it's me.
Thus, a simple question arises: why do I have so little money? Apparently I am among the hardest-working members of the reprobate.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
(4:50 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Spring Weather: With Notes on Cats and DogsThe first day of spring isn't for a while, but we're getting a preview of the weather, finally, only three days after it was once again bitterly cold. I went out for a walk today and enjoyed it, though regular walks are usually the extent of my participation in the compulsory enjoyment of nice weather -- no games of frisbee for me, no walking of the dog.
I could go for some bocce ball, though. We have a nice big park nearby. If anyone has a bocce ball set, let me know, and we can go play. I also have a badminton set, but I'm afraid that something may have gotten broken in the course of my last move. Safer to go with the bocce ball.
One of the things I miss since Anthony and Hayley went to England is opening the windows for the cats during weather like this. I enjoy having the windows open for myself, of course, but there was something especially satisfying about opening the window for the cats. I knew they knew it was coming and were excited, but cats have no way of expressing either excitement or gratitude. I was about to make an exception for the topic of food, but even then it's not gratitude or excitement -- instead it's annoyance or even anger that the food they have been promised has not been delivered quite quickly enough. Similarly, they could express their annoyance very clearly when I noticed it was about to rain or I had to leave the house or I was just tired of listening to the kids yelling at each other.
The sheer sense of entitlement was refreshing, after a lifetime of dogs, such a needy, unsatisfiable animal, so moody -- reacting to the end of a pleasurable activity not with anger, but with a strange mixture of denial and sadness. Whereas cats are perfectly content to remain as they are and to leech off of us, dogs are too much like people, aspire too much to be part of our world. Thus I would contend that in the problematic of "whether pets go to heaven," one is always, deep down, thinking of dogs, or else one has spuriously modeled another kind of pet on a dog.
It is a sign of the overweening pride and depravity of humanity that we are inclined to believe that the neediness, the servility, the downright creepiness of a dog deserves an eternal reward. The reward instead belongs to that creature that has seamlessly integrated its animality into the human life-world -- cats: the only truly revolutionary animals; the ones who have pulled off the task that the hapless and embarrassing seagulls and pigeons have so deeply botched; the truly subversive animals who have conquered humanity in a way that the dead-enders among the cockroach insurgency secretly, pushing at the very limits of their insect brains, envy.
Friday, March 09, 2007
(9:18 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Hospitality DutyI confess that I have been lax in my blogological duties. There can never be a genuine excuse for such a failing, but my reason is that Thomas J. J. Altizer has been visiting CTS, and I have been part of the hospitality team. I confess that Brad came to Chicago for the Altizer visit as well and is in fact sleeping on my couch right this very minute. I confess that all my Chicago readers should come to CTS at 2:00 today to hear the unpublished chapter of Altizer's memoir, at the Graham Taylor Chapel, up the stairs from the Seminary Co-op. I confess that I should have announced the events for yesterday, too.
I confess that this week I finally finished up the Anselm portion of my epic medieval directed reading. I confess that this weekend I will be writing my paper for Santner's class, next week I'll be finishing Michael Naas's class (an audit, so no paper), and the week after will be spring break. I confess to needing a break. I confess that I will be taking the 20th Century exam soon, and I confess that I will probably still have 5-6 books remaining that I haven't read -- but since no one in the history of CTS has ever read the whole list, it might be better to leave those books unread, just to relieve future students of the idea that reading them all might be possible.
I confess that I may audit a course on Aquinas at DePaul in the spring quarter in order to fulfill the Aquinas portion of the aforementioned directed reading -- that's right: it's so massive that I can take an entire course and only fulfill a small part of its requirements. I confess that other than Aquinas, I need to read Joachim of Fiore, Scotus, and a woman mystic of my choosing (suggestions are solicited on the latter two -- if our resident Scotist could recommend something of Scotus that would be 500-600 pages max and would give me a good overview, I'd appreciate it).
I confess that I've been out of cereal for several days, and it's beginning to get to me. I confess that I need to figure out ways to make more money. I confess that I need to go make some coffee.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
(10:00 AM) | Claire:
Sea Otter Self-CareIf this week has taught me anything, it is that I need to practice better self-care. Ever since I offered free cognitive therapy on my blog, requests from needy, distraught readers have flooded my comment threads. The demand for my services was so great that I no longer had time to crack open a quick abalone or urchin snack on my belly. I instead subsisted on sea water (thank God for my large, complex kidneys). In keeping with my policy of responding to every comment, I dutifully analyzed each reader's negative thoughts and reframed them in a more positive, affirming light. When the rest of the raft (group of sea otters) slumbered peacefully, anchored in kelp, I lay awake floating on my back, brainstorming bottom-line mantras like, "Today I did not soil myself." As exhaustion set in, my eyes fluttered open and shut, and my mind returned to being netted, tagged and transported to the marine mammal rescue center after falling asleep and drifting into an oil spill. I could still hear my high-pitched whines as I was dunked in Dawn dish soap . . .
Last Saturday I found salvation in an unlikely source: a human by the name of Anthony Paul Smith. He asked to pet me and give me a tummy rub. I started sobbing (well, whining, because that's what sea otters do) uncontrollably. After doling out so much compassion and care, I had seen no reciprocity from my clients. The healing power of APS' touch brought me back to my center and once again grounded me firmly in my being, as a healer, and as a creature with her own needs.
I hate that last Sunday, for the second time in three weeks, my teacher told me to stop painting and do something else.
I hate that this weekend I binged on MSG and lost the ability to think.
I hate that while under the influence of MSG, I wrote some creepy and incoherent responses to online profiles. I hate that I have received no responses.
I hate that the only consistent themes in my dreams are lesbian potlucks and my mother's disapproval of my hairstyle or my clothing.
I hate how inarticulate the callers are.
Caller: Uh, yeah, I don't really know why I'm calling . . . Yeah, my doctor told me to get, uh. . . uh . . ."
Me: "A therapist, are you looking for a therapist?"
Caller: "Yeah, uh, that sounds right."
I hate that when I tried to download the Sarah Silverman Program and Crank Yankers, I instead got a one minute video of some wannabe stripper prancing around her room to bad R and B.
I hate that I was dumb enough to think that files like "Crank Yankers - Butt Plug" were actually legit.
I hate that after downloading the stripper video, all of the music on my hard drive was erased.
I hate that the search engine term "You will make a desperate man out of me" was used to find my blog.
I hate that Ann Coulter calls all prominent democrats 'faggots.'
I hate that Ann Coulter was invited to speak at my hippie college for the sake of 'diversity.'
I hate that no one at work knows that yesterday my friend at the bakery said I was their favorite customer.
I hate that there is a jar of gefilte fish in jellied broth in my refrigerator.
If you'd rather start your week with love, visit Richard's cozy little blog.
(12:48 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
The Trap: What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom
Monday, March 05, 2007
(10:36 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Playing with Batman DollsIt would be a mistake to say that I simply played with action figures. That would indicate a certain casualness, a lighthearted tossing around, perhaps holding a hero in one hand and a villain in the other and mashing them together, making that distinctive noise that every little boy makes to indicate violence. I was not playing -- I was constructing entire worlds.
My action figures during my classical period were made up primarily of Ninja Turtles and Batman characters, together with a Superman figure and a few vestigial GI Joes. (It's unclear to me where all my GI Joes went -- I used to have millions.) These normally fell into three groups according to moral valence: the good guys, the bad guys, and the wildcards who were indifferent to the conflict and could only sometimes be brought into alliance with one of the other two groups. Within each group, there were varying levels of loyalty, some who would fight to the death, others who had grown disillusioned with the cause and were already virtually free agents, and a lot who fell somewhere in between.
So for example, the blue-and-gray Batman was resolutely on the good side. The smaller, all-black Batman (a movie tie-in) was more of a tortured anti-hero, symbolized by his lost cape and by his hideously deformed left hand, which had been chewed on by the dog. The all-black Batman would frequently dramatically hurl himself off the table in the basement, apparently commiting suicide -- only later would we learn that it was all a ruse, and he had actually landed safely on the chair instead of on the floor. Or, even better, the Batwing would swoop in and save him, a maneuver that was not possible for the blue-and-gray Batman who was too tall and whose legs didn't really bend right.
We moved the furniture in my house pretty often, since my mom was the co-proprietor of a country furniture store and liked to experiment with new arrangements. The basement was not excluded, not strictly for any aesthetic reasons, but simply because my sister and (especially) I were used to frequent rearrangement and liked our area to be changed around too. Every arrangement was a new geography, necessitating the shifting of bases. The nice round table -- repurposed from its previous life in the kitchen -- was the most dramatic space, with its wide expanses and cavernous underside, so that it was almost a shame to waste it on a base. Shelves, couches, stretches of the floor, even the metal poles came into play. Stairways could allow heart-wrenching, torturous falls, occasioned by dramatically-appropriate accident, by murderous impulse, by suicidal despair.
The best, of course, were those rare times when I could bring everything up to the living room. I distinctly remember one of those times when my mom picked me up from church camp, probably in fourth or fifth grade. Church camp was always something I endured. It wasn't that I minded the games or the various religious services, but simply that it wasn't my idea of a good time: living out of a suitcase, sleeping on a squeaking bunk bed, taking showers in gross buildings where your feet almost always got dirty immediately afterward. Then there was always the contrived nonsense of dividing into teams and competing in all the games -- even then, the idea of team spirit was foreign to me, and in any case, I always got a lame-ass team that was sure to lose from day one.
It wasn't my idea of a vacation at all. Summer time was supposed to be free time, and instead of relaxing by myself, I had to waste a week in a place where they would hardly let you keep still and they insisted on waking you up at seven in the morning. My favorite parts were the fleeting "free time" sessions, where we could just sit around in our rooms or go to the snack shack and enjoy a Lik-M-Aid in peace. Usually I hadn't brought anything to read except my Bible, but compared to my other options, reading the Bible sounded fun.
This particular year, though, I ended up with a roommate who had the foresight to bring action figures with him -- mainly some Turtles, but also a few others I didn't have. By the grace of God, I had finally, one year, landed with a kindred spirit. We set up elaborate plotlines together and generally had a good time, at least during the free periods.
We hung around during some of the games as well, the obligatory couple of guys kicking the grass, waiting for the game to be over. I was already an accomplished grass-kicker by that time. My T-ball career was spent in deep right field, where I would kick up the grass with reckless abandon; I seem to recall the ball coming my way maybe once, but by the time I got to it it was pretty much a moot point. I feel like after that, it was our turn to go back to the dugout, so that was good to sit down, maybe throw back a glass or two of Gatorade. When it was my turn to bat, I always stood there waiting for something to happen so that I'd know it was time to swing -- I looked back at the umpire, and he would nod slightly, giving me the go-ahead. I must've gotten on-base at least once, because I distinctly remember kicking around the dirt, trying to make a little moat around the base, putting dirt on it so that I could brush it off.
My friend at camp was kind of an embarrassment those few times I could convince him to go to the snack shack. I was no social butterfly, but this kid was catatonic, already developing into a committed nerd -- oversized glasses, a hairstyle whose precise intended arrangement was unclear, and (though it seems impossible at summer camp) a black sweatshirt all the time. I feel like I had a shot at impressing some of the girls with my wit -- the pretty dark-haired girls who already kind of resented the fact that the more rambunctious, aspiring-athletic boys ignored them -- but not with the kind of baggage I was carrying around.
Who knows what would've happened had I approached one of those pretty dark-haired girls? A memorable experience, no doubt. Someone to sit next to at the service, holding hands. Someone to walk off to some obscure corner of the camp with, unsure of exactly what we were supposed to do. Whatever it was, it would've made up for all those days of feeling like the insides of my socks were perpetually dirty and of waking up when the dew was still on the grass.
Be that as it may, I was glad when I got home and got back to my own familiar action figures and mom let me play in the living room while she ran some errands. My only mistake was admitting that I had made a friend and had a good time, however limited -- that concession cost me dearly each successive year when I was trying to convince her not to send me to camp again.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
(11:04 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Dave Brubeck and HeideggerDave Brubeck has always been closely associated with Heidegger in my mind. We played "Take Five" in jazz band in high school, but those memories have been largely overwritten by a period of a couple weeks during which I largely sat alone in a nearly-empty apartment on the margins of Olivet's campus, reading Being and Time and going through Mark Miller's voluminous collection of jazz albums: John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck.... My study of jazz was haphazard and inconclusive, never getting past that necessary early stage where one grabs whatever is ready-to-hand, in order to compile the bare minimum of random knowledge out of which some form of coherence can slowly be built, in my case, some way of knowing what I'm listening to, beyond simply "liking" it. (I've been told that Kind of Blue is the greatest jazz album ever, and yeah, I "like" it. I can see how you'd say that.)
The reading of Being and Time was something I had been preparing for throughout that summer, mainly by going through David Krell's Basic Writings collection. This was a tumultuous summer for me, my first effort to try to live on-campus during the summer instead of facing the misery of living at home again. I did not do well in providing for myself. I got a job delivering pizzas and got in an accident while on the job. When I went back to Michigan to get my replacement vehicle, I ended up missing work at the pizza place, giving them the pretext they needed to fire me. On impulse, I moved back home, convinced that I would have a job at the lawn-mowing place, but I got only very minimal hours -- in fact, the only reason I got any hours at all was because I simply showed up one morning and clocked in, and the boss felt bad sending me home.
In general, I was not really making enough money, a trend that continues to this very day. But I was reading a lot -- Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Wittgenstein. The nice thing about getting so few hours at the lawn-mowing place was that I wasn't too tired to read. Life was pretty laid-back for a few weeks. Then one day, the hottest day of the summer, my parents told me that they were taking a trip. I worked only a half-day, then one of my co-workers mentioned that his parents lived on Lake Fenton and had a boat -- one of these lazy rich kids who were failing to develop the character their fathers had hoped physical labor would bring -- so a few of us went out there and had a few beers, while driving around on this boat.
Everything was handled with an amazing level of responsibility -- we even managed to get some stone-cold sober people to drive us home. A half hour after I got home, my dad arrived; apparently this trip had not happened or I had misunderstood. Anyway, I didn't want to discuss it at the time. It was only about 8:00, but I got in bed anyway. I had what seemed to be a bullet-proof excuse for going to bed so early: I'd put in a long day's work on the hottest day of the year. I was exhausted!
A few days later, as I was trying to read, my parents "sat me down" in the living room. This was a part of a broader series of talks, stretching back to tenth grade, about how I was squandering my life. Themes included my lack of a clear career path, the degree to which my girlfriend was hated by all members of my family, my failure to adhere faithfully to the religious sect in which I was raised, my general moodiness, the fact that I was sure to get said girlfriend pregnant (in reality, we never had sex), etc. These interventions, which at their peak happened several times a week, had tapered off a bit since I went to college, simply for geographical reasons, but this summer I had been such a pain and had now so obviously violated their trust that some kind of reckoning couldn't be avoided.
I didn't deny I had been drinking. I had been responsible about it, had endangered no one -- they of course didn't believe the part about finding sober drivers, since people who would be so stupid as to drink by definition would not attend to such matters. (Even now, as I think about this conversation, I am becoming angry all over again.) My dad -- ever insightful in such discussions! -- said that he thought I was too good to be a "follower," a sentiment that seemed to me to have been adopted from a public service announcement of some kind. My mom pointed out that the title to my truck was in their name and therefore threatened that a DUI would result in their reclaiming it. Great, fine.
At a certain point, I had had enough, and I told them so. I walked away, went back in my room and started reading again. Within a week, I had confirmed with Mark -- who worked on the grounds crew at Olivet during the summer, something I obviously should've done as well -- that our apartment was available to move into, and I unceremoniously left, with no prospect whatsoever for making money. PBJ and ramen was the order of the day. I just read, almost all day, occasionally venturing out, walking across the vast distances while the dry grass cracked under my feet.
After that, it was never a question of moving back home, even for a short time. I could live my minimal little life, a frugal life of bad food and no new clothes, a life of near-constant worry about where money was going to come from -- I just had to know that I would never be "sat down" again. A whole life of making minimal demands, of keeping to myself, of doing all my chores promptly and well, of getting superlative grades, of being a star in band, of being a dutiful student of the piano, of having good and well-behaved friends, of working ever since I was old enough to drive -- that all meant nothing. Being good hadn't preserved me from random interrogations, in fact made me more vulnerable -- I bought into their standard of judgment and tried to defend myself according to it, once even breaking down in tears, a seventeen-year-old kid, breaking down into incoherence, collapsing into a fetal position, and she just walked away. Even now, if something ever comes up in conversation, she acts like she doesn't remember, like it was someone else entirely -- she apologizes on behalf of this other person, over-eagerly, like she's apologizing for some weird misunderstanding that she can't fully assimilate.
Having actually done something wrong according to their standards, though -- that was what it took. Then I was outside and could pass judgment on the whole regime. My teenage rebellion had been to do exactly what they wanted, then sit back and take it, hope they would realize how they were mistreating me -- instead of trying to buy me off with clothes I didn't want and they couldn't afford, or with a stupid excess of Christmas gifts. Like most teenage rebellions, it was futile. I should've just told them flat out: I prefer to read. Leave me alone.
(5:06 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Sunday Music PostThis Sunday we're listening to two new Arcade Fire songs performed on SNL last week.
and 'Keep the Car Running'
The album has just come out. I've been listening to it non-stop since I acquired it.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
(7:05 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Open Thread in Honor of "abb1"Don't worry, abb1 -- you'll always be welcome here. (Henry is banned from participating on this thread.)
Friday, March 02, 2007
(9:53 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Closer to the Afternoon than UsualI confess that I have had an exhausting couple of days. I confess that I have to travel to Bourbonnais today and haven't quite figured out how I'm going to get back to Chicago. I confess that I'm not particularly looking forward to next week, now that I think about it. I confess that, at the very least, in two weeks both my quarter classes will be over, leaving me with a lot more time.
I confess that I led class Wednesday night, over the very intuitively connected topics of the Trinity, angels and demons, the nature of the soul, and divine providence as presented in Calvin's Institutes, and it went extremely well. I confess that I now have only 12 books left on the 20th Century list, after finishing Gerhard Ebeling's Introduction to a Theological Theory of Language last night.
I confess that last night I had a dream that included the following elements:
- Being among the "final four" on American Idol
- Viewing this as an opportunity to get close enough to Ryan Seacrest that I could cause him physical pain, though I wimped out in the end
- Developing a crush on one of my fellow contestants (named "Malissa" -- the same way my first girlfriend spelled her name), who sadly only had eyes for Ryan Seacrest
- Discovering that American Idol was being held in my parents' church, and so deciding that I would walk from there to Border's (a pretty long walk)
- Getting lost and finding myself in some kind of factory
I confess that New Left Review's coverage of the Democratic victory in 2006 is pretty depressing.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
(4:01 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Power of Social ForcesLast night when I arrived at my apartment after a long and arduous day, two of my seminary colleagues briefly came in with me, in order to use the bathroom. I followed my regular practice of removing my shoes, putting away my coat and books, etc., and at some point in the process, I stubbed my toe. More properly, I would say that I stubbed my toes -- in fact, arguably my full foot participated. It was among the most painful stubbings I have ever endured, and my foot still hurts as I type this, 18 hours later.
I have had ample occasion to stub my toe in my current apartment, because there is a kind of pipe sticking out of the kitchen floor in a much-travelled area. We try to keep the garbage can right next to this pipe, so as to reduce the probability of toe-stubbing, but sometimes the garbage can is moved. This pipe-like object appears to be made out of some type of titanium alloy and produces an intense (and somewhat satisfying) pain when it is inadvertantly kicked. The experience is almost sublime, to the point where the normal litany of curse words seems to fall laughably short. In such toe-stubbings, one is brought into contact with the holy, the mysterium tremendum and fascinans. One offers up one's "fuck" and "shit," fully aware of and humbled by the inadequacy of the offering.
One will hestitate to believe this, but my toe-stubbing last night was even more painful than a toe-stubbing on the pipe sticking out of the kitchen floor. Yet somehow I not only avoided the litany of swear-words -- I didn't even so much as pause, wince, or in any way indicate what had happened. I'm sure that if you asked those individuals if I stubbed my toe that night, you would be met with blank stares. If told what had happened, they would protest. "No," they would say, "it's not possible. I've stubbed my toe; I've seen toes stubbed. To stub one's toe and give no sign -- assuming it were possible -- would be inhuman, even monstrous... this terrifying expedient, this God sacrificed himself -- who could credit it? -- out of love, out of love for the debtor!"