By Phil Percs (with Jon Cogburn, John Fletcher, Duncan Richter, James Rocha, and Mona Rocha)
When a poet's mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is constantly amalgamating disparate experience; the ordinary man's experience is chaotic, irregular, fragmentary. The latter falls in love, or reads Spinoza, and these two experiences have nothing to do with each other, or with the noise of the typewriter or the smell of cooking; in the mind of the poet these experiences are always forming new wholes.
His method was to propose some simple subject on which to concentrate, such as visualizing a circle or a square, or solving an easy mathematical problem, and to test the validity of my efforts with the side of his hand on my forehead, whereby he claimed that he could feel and estimate the special brain-pulse accompanying genuine concentration. Gradually more complex subjects for concentration were propounded and the exercises became easier to carry out.
1. Do you think poetry is a necessity to modern man?
2. What in modern life is the particular function of poetry as distinguished form other kinds of literature?
Takes up less space.
- Maria Farrell on Half of a Yellow Sun and the value of novels: Again and again we attempt forward time travel, to send our thoughts and feelings as emissaries for our trapped and arbitrary bodies. We have nothing to say, and everything. There are only three facts. We lived, we died, and someone should know.
- In The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan writes about the kinds of stand-up comedians (and stand-up acts) that colleges and universities choose and reject. Her take: political correctness ruins all. I sense some room for disagreement there...
- Five horror movie themes re-worked in major keys. Cheerful!
- Have you seen the Mad Max: Fury Road/Adventure Time mashup? No? For Glob's sake! Because you really should see the Mad Max: Fury Road/Adventure Time mashup.
- Rob Bricken helpfully distills the latest Fantastic Four movie into four key scenes.
- TNR's Damian Lanegan celebrates one hundred years of Prufrock. QUOTE - "It was the English, however, that was the most mystifying; was I supposed to understand it? As soon as any sense of meaning emerged, it would evanesce, and I would encounter a passage that seemed to have been dropped in by mistake, or had no discernible purpose other than to make me turn back a page to see if I’d missed something. And I was completely fine with this. In fact, it was kind of the whole point. What a dreadful demand to be put on something, that it be knowable!"
- 3AM's Richard Marshall reviews Bruno Corra's Sam Dunn is Dead and Rene Daumal & Roger Gilbert-Lecomte etc.'s Theory of the Great Game: Writings From ‘Le Grand Jeu.’ QUOTE - "The dead-end routinised time that was Western society was assaulted by an esotericism involving copious drug use, parapsychology and poetry in the mould of Rimbaud and Mallarme. Its politico-mystical occultism was wild, incoherent, over-indulgent and for the short time festered like an iterating Bacchanalian pox on post-Dada Surrealism." Also, we are not Italian futurists. They were right wing. We are left wing.
- the conversation's Jan Kranendonk takes on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. South By Southwest, you're next. We'll always have Eeyore's Birthday Party.
- theguardian's Ned Beauman compares Ford Madox Ford to HP Lovecraft. QUOTE - "Ford and Lovecraft are not often discussed in the same breath. But in fact they are very similar. The difference is that Lovecraft appears to be writing about cosmic horror but is really writing about sex, whereas Ford appears to be writing about sex but is really writing about cosmic horror. Another way of putting it is that they are writing about exactly the same thing: the feeling that if you peel back the skin of everyday reality, what you will see underneath is something so alien that it will burn away all your sanity points in an instant." The reference to sanity points shows just how desperately we need a role-playing game set in The Good Soldier's fictional universe.
- Brother can you spare a little changesoneBowie.
- Forthcoming Joanna Newsom album.
- aeon's Jared Keller chronicles Paolo Soleri's attempts to realize architectural futurism. Goodbye Brasilia. Goodbye Masdar City. Hello Mumbai (and Brasilia for that matter). QUOTE - "Magnitogorsk is not a historical aberration: we see shades of Soviet brutality in the modern factory towns sprouting up across modern-day China. The giant Foxconn plants that produce consumer goods such as the iPhone are essentially self-contained cities for low-wage workers, so destitute and miserable that they’ve devolved into rioting and a rash of suicides in the past several years."
- LARB's Suzanne Berne reviews Vivienne Forrester's (trans. Jody Gladding) Virginia Wolf: A Portrait. This kind of thing is probably necessary: (1) history, (2) anti-intentionalism goes too far, (3) romantic glorification of the past is dangerous. On the other hand: (1) Tom and Viv, (2) reveling in how messed up people used to be too often serves the same purpose of much of our discourse about the Nazis, to blind us to our own barbarousness, (3) while the purpose is to get us to listen to Wolf, the end result of this kind of thing is often just the opposite. An English Ph.D recently informed me (in all seriousness) that the key to understanding T.S. Eliot's poetry was his sexual repression. Who woulda thunk? Worse, the implicature was that since we've got human sexuality all worked out now, we needn't bother with the poems any more. Within two decades from now people will start saying the same things, with equal justification and the same implicature, about canonical female writers and their oppression.
- Cracked's Jason Iannone adduces six dumb things about the original Star Wars trilogy that he thinks his reader has forgotten.
- Literary Hub's Ellen Urbani presents a set of books about Hurricane Katrina.
- Literary Hub's Alexander Chee mounts a qualified defense of the present tense. I did find (found) it interesting, albeit not entirely compelling.
- Is anarchism an entirely negative thesis (the state isn't justified), or is it also an affirmative one (here's what is justified...)? The debate is discussed here.
- If you are like me, you probably spend a lot of time wondering what exactly Murray Bookchin's influence is on the Kurdish fight for freedom and recognition. Well, thankfully, we can now learn more here.
- Anarchist reflections on the uprising in Ferguson.
- "Left libertarian" sounds so odd to the American mind, but that's in part because the left lost the "libertarian" label, which is a shame. For more on being a left libertarian, see here.
- Vox tries to justify eating meat. And, the effort is mostly genuine. But, as you can expect, it doesn't really do much justifying at the end.
- Have you ever wondered what it would look like if Ayn Rand wrote, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"? Me too. Here it is. Hope you learn the true lesson of the story!
- Children's philosophy books!
- Ten books that changed the world. From what we are told, Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy, as edited by Jon Cogburn and Mark Silcox, was so close at number 13. Too bad they didn't do top 15 books that changed the world....
- In the end, whatever novel you are reading, you can justify it because all fiction is philosophical. That makes it a tax write off to buy novels for some of us. . . And my unpublished Adventure Time fan fiction should count towards becoming full professor.
- The What's Wrong blog hosts Eva Dadlez' "Ink, Ethics, and Expression."
- See entry #1 in Animal News.
Gender and its discontents:
- You ever wonder why it is so important to keep women from having tea breaks? Because, as we learn here, it can lead to RADICAL FEMINISM!!!! Actually, the argument isn't that crazy (or, at least, it isn't as I am looking at it): If women have a moment in their lives to sit down and think about the world around them, of course they will become radical feminists. Tea breaks give women a moment to sit down and think about the world around them. FEMINIST REVOLUTION (by 1 and 2, Modus Ponens).
- Why are feminists so angry all the time? Well, we took some tea breaks and looked at some of the things going on in the world, and they made us angry!
- Can we decriminalize prostitution without decriminalizing pimps? Of course. And, surely we should. But then why has Amnesty International called for decriminalizing both prostitution and pimp-ery? Feminists have had their tea breaks, and we are getting angry...
- A new study shows that films made by women have better female characters. You want to say that's trivial, but then you think it shouldn't have to be that way, and then you realize, this is the world we live in. That's why we need more tea breaks so we can get to the FEMINIST REVOLUTION!
- You may be wondering by now, are these link-descriptions being written by an angry male feminist or an angry female feminist? Why, of course, it is me, Philadora Percs (also known as Phil Percs, because gender is fluid, and so I'm not answering your offensive question!!!!)! But, as we all know, the audience is going to likely need to know because people tend to be more accepting of angry male feminists than angry female feminists, which makes me ANGRY!!! I need more tea.
- And now, for a look at Lucille Ball. I love Lucy!
- A video timelapse/map of every nuclear detonation from 1945 to now. Creepy and mesmerizing.
- Has the tomb of Nefertiti been found? Dig up the details, here!
- The video at right.
- "...But, but... but... Did you know there were black soldiers fighting for the Confederacy?" No, and neither did you because truth is necessary for knowledge. See here on the much beloved (by dead enders) myth of black Confederate soldiers.
- In other recent news, the south puts off rising again for yet another year.
- Apologies for trolling in #5. To the extent that it even makes sense to take pride in one's region southerners consistently punch above their weight when it comes to music, literature, and food. Love of Good Solider Svejk style passive-aggression, story telling, and eccentricity are also wonderful things. But you can only legitimately be proud of southern culture if you take African Americans to be paradigm southerners, something dead enders are constitutively unable to do. If Ronnie Van Zant hadn't died, this would honestly be much less of an issue.
- And on Lynyrd Skynyrd (before Ronnie died), for what it's worth: (1) the line about loving the governor in Birmingham was critical of George Wallace ("Boo, Boo, Boo"), (2) the song's final verse is a paean to the Muscle Shoals rhythm and blues music scene (which produced recordings by legendary African American artists including Clarence Carter, Etta James, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, and Wilson Pickett), (3) Lynyrd Skynyrd were due to tour with Neal Young, and Zant wore a Neil Young shirt on an album cover and in concerts, (4) before his death Zant was heartily sick of the Confederate battle flag being used at their concerts. So there. Big wheels keep on turning. . .
History of Philosophy:
- Persistent Enlightenment's James Schmidt presents a set of hateful things that people have said about Adorno.
- The Toast's Mallory Ortberg presents the cattiest lines from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. The Roman Emperor was all like, "Oh, look at those beautiful gloves. You must be getting ready to go to one of those old fashioned tea parties after school. I wasn't aware that anyone did that anymore without fear that their reputation would be bashed." And then I was like, "Oh snap, Marcus Aurelius in da house!" And then my man M.A. was all like, "Why don't you ask Jan? If anyone knows how to recycle last year's fashions it's Jan." Girl, I was ON THE FLOOR.
- A really good resource for the available notes from Kant's students. We are quite fortunate that they were able to stay awake in class. (SNAP!)
- The Weekly Standard's Lawrence Klepp reviews Frank M. Turner's European Intellectual History from Rousseau to Nietzsche. QUOTE - "Both writers had great critical gifts, Rousseau’s tending toward earnest complaint and Nietzsche’s toward astringent irony. But both went trolling in the distant past for myths of authenticity and offered them up as a basis for wiping the slate of modern civilization clean so that something more resilient and redemptive could take its place. And with some honorable exceptions, that is the story of the intellectuals in this book. Some of their myths were harmless; others, like Marxism and militant nationalism, were essentially bombs with long fuses that finally exploded during the 20th century. Nietzsche may or may not have been right about human beings needing illusions, but it’s clear that most intellectuals can’t live without them. " (HEY! You dinna have to be so mean about it. Sniff.)
- Black Girl Dangerous' Princess Harmony Rodriguez presents five ways to support trans people who don't pass for cis:
- Stop measuring trans people’s value as humans according to how well we “pass”.
- Recognize that a trans person’s gender is not determined by their ability to pass.
- Stop using white patriarchal standards of beauty to measure our appearance, whether we pass or not.
- View “trans glamour” with a critical eye and acknowledge passing privilege as trans people who do pass.
- Boost the voices of non-passing trans people in trans dialogues.
- Shades of Gender's Terri Lee Ryan explores the position of crossdressers in the trans community.
- Everyday Feminism's Luna Merbruja presents three common feminist phrases that marginalize trans women.
- Female-Bodied or Female-Identified
- Wombyn or Womyn
- Male and Female Socialization
- See entry #1 in What it's Like.
Logic and Language:
- OUPblog's Roy Cook presents Curry Paradox cycles.
- Catarina Dutilh Novaes, "A dialogical, multi-agent account of the normativivity of logic."
- M Phi announces two new initiatives concerning women in logic.
- Powers, Capacities, and Dispositions' Ruth Groff shares the plenary talk (“On the Myth of Metaphysical Neutrality”) that she gave last week at the annual Critical Realism conference.
- Gabrielle Contessa, "Dispositions and Tricks" (forthcoming in Erkentniss).
- Three Pound Brain's R. Scott Bakker contemplates what space alien philosophers might come up with in their spare time.
- The Catholic Thing's Francis J. Beckwith criticizes a recent Ted talk by Yuval Noah Harari. CONCLUDING BIT - ". . .if someone offers you a theory of reality that excludes what seems to be obviously true, it’s probably a good idea to be skeptical of the theory rather than to doubt common sense. For it is, ironically, our common sense – what we pre-reflectively believe about the good, the true, and the beautiful – that makes theory-making, even bad theory-making, possible."
- NPR's Alva Noë discusses externalist theories of emotion. Twenty years ago Donald Davidson yelled at me (this is a true story) for suggesting as much to him.
- David Papineau's "Against Representationalism."
Philosophers, Stylin' and Profilin':
- Jesse Prinz on wonder. There's so much wonder in there it's full of it. And no Mom, I'm actually full of great. Ha. Ha. Sha-zing! I gotta million of 'em. SammyDavisJunior? Per-sonalfriendofmine.
- If you haven't read it yet, Daniel Zamora provides a neoliberal interpretation of Foucault. Please feel free to express your vengeful outrage at our inclusion of this item in the comments.
- Philosop-her's Meena Krishnamurthy features Carol Hay. QUOTE - "Carol Hay is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Her work focuses primarily on issues in analytic feminism, liberal social and political philosophy, oppression studies, and Kantian ethics. She received the 2015 Gregory Kavka/UC Irvine Prize in Political Philosophy for “The Obligation to Resist Oppression,” chapter 4 of her 2013 book Kantianism, Liberalism, and Feminism: Resisting Oppression. She’s the Secretary/Treasurer of the Society for Analytical Feminism."
- Pea Soup's Brad Cokelet features John Deigh. CONCLUDING BIT OF DEIGH'S ESSAY - "While Mackie failed to elevate sentences expressing propositions of normative ethics like 'There is no evil' and 'Nothing is good' to the level of meta-ethics on the once common understanding of meta-ethics as a field that is completely independent of that of normative ethics, he did initiate a debate with defenders of objective values that significantly transformed the understanding of the field and what questions it contained.. The debate, owing to its becoming for a later generation of philosophers the paradigm of a dispute in meta-ethics, effectively removed the sharp boundary between meta-ethics and normative ethics that was generally recognized at mid-century. Ironically, then, Mackie, by bringing about a significant change in the subject, succeeded in this back-handed way in getting ontological questions recognized as questions of meta-ethics."
- When you put together that list of famous philosophy majors, it is always nice to have some super rich former majors on the list.
Politics/Sociology not otherwise categorized:
- Things to know: The NSA wrote a memo soliciting applications for the job of in-house ethicist, a "philosopher of SIGINT." The person they chose called themselves "Socrates." Read Peter Maas's story of "Socrates" from The Intercept here.
- Dissent's Rich Yeselson reviews Steve Fraser's The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power.
- Cracked's Robert Evans and Anonymous describe six realities of living under modern dictatorship.
- See entry #4 on History/Sociology/etc.
- "But, America is a meritocracy, so if black people work hard enough, of course they'll be rich here! Didn't you know that???" Damn you, didn't I just say knowledge requires truth? See here on the falsity of the meritocracy of a race-blind America.
- African American Intellectual History Society's Chernoh Sesay Jr. on the challenge of teaching about the Christianity of slaves and masters.
- See entry#3 in Race and Racism.
- Wikipedia entry on ietism. Would that there were a word for people who are religious but not spiritual? But perhaps that word must be unheard.
- Steven Pinker reviews Jerry Coyne's Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible.
- Newton Citizen's John Pearrell on why atheism isn't just the rejection of God. Calling Kingsley Amis - Q. Do you believe in God? A. Not really, but it's more that I hate him.
- Libere's Dan Linford responds to McHugh’s Modal Ontological Argument from Divine Justice.
- Fit is a Feminist Issue's Audrey Yap tries the Lulumon beer, so the rest of us don't have to.
- Rolling Stone article on CM Punk.
- See entry #1 in Gender and its Discontents.
- They ought to sell tickets. I'd buy some!
- Trump Fails to Back Up Misogynist Slurs with Anti-Woman Proposals, Rivals Say.
- Letters Home from Borg's Assimilation Orientation.
- Items Claimed Through an Expense Account for a Philosopher of Some Distinction.
- Skepticholics Anonymous. Shmexy!
- The Berenst(E)ain Bears Conspiracy Theory That Has Convinced the Internet There Are Parallel Universe.
This Week's Cool Podcasts/Videos:
- Every Alfred Hitchcock Cameo.
- Clare Carlisle on reality and perception.
- History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps′ Peter Adamson on medieval debates about Fransiscan poverty.
- The Philosopher Zone's Joe Gelonesi on dreams and dreaming.
- Philosophy Talk's John Perry and Ken Taylor on God and the Fine-Tuned Universe. What are they tuning, a harp?
- The Partially Examined Life's Mark Lindsenmayer on Augustine on Being Good.
This Week’s IEP:
This Week’s NDPR:
- Alexander Douglas reviews Elhanan Yakira's Spinoza and the Case for Philosophy.
- Thaddeus Metz reviews Todd May's A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe.
- Mark J. Sedler reviews Steeves Demazeux and Patrick Singy (eds.)' The DSM-5 in Perspective:Philosophical Reflections on the Psychiatric Babel.
- Adam Wood reviews Christopher Hughes' Aquinas on Being, Goodness, and God.
- Andrews Reath reviews Dieter Schönecker and Allen W. Wood's Immanuel Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals: A Commentary.
- Brandon Warmke reviews Judith Andre's Worldly Virtue: Moral Ideals and Contemporary Life.
- Jeffrey Flynn reviews Robyn Marasco's The Highway of Despair: Critical Theory After Hegel.
- Neal De Roo reviews Vernon W. Cisney's Derrida's Voice and Phenomenon.
- Kevin Hart reviews Christina M. Gschwandtner's Degrees of Givenness: On Saturation in Jean-Luc Marion.
- Avner Baz reviews Michael Campbell and Michael O'Sullivan (eds.)' Wittgenstein and Perception.
This Week’s SEP:
- The Epistemic Basing Relation (Keith Allen Korcz) [REVISED: August 13, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
- Mohist Canons (Chris Fraser) [REVISED: August 13, 2015]
Changes to: Bibliography.
- Transcendentalism (Russell Goodman) [REVISED: August 12, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
- Intergenerational Justice (Lukas Meyer) [REVISED: August 10, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
- Agency (Markus Schlosser) [NEW: August 10, 2015]
- The Nature of Law (Andrei Marmor and Alexander Sarch) [REVISED: August 7, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
- Nonconceptual Mental Content (José Bermúdez and Arnon Cahen) [REVISED: August 7, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
This Week’s WiPhi:
- Times Higher Education hosts six academics sharing their worst experiences with peer review. There is at least a modicum of spiritual solace to be gained by perusing these. What mored'ya want?
- Yet another story about liberal arts being good for bizness. Don't expect these stories to make any difference. One thing liberal arts majors are not good for is driving down the median wages of graduating STEM majors by increasing the proportion of tech types in the reserve army of unemployed.
- 3quarksdaily's Emrys Westicott tries to discern just what problems are supposed to be being solved by techie edumucational thingamabobs.
- Harper Magazine's William Deresiewicz describes how college sold its soul. He chose you, honey! From all the women in the world to be the mother of his only living son!
- The Atlantic on a possible retirement crisis in higher education. Clearly, the solution is to appoint some new Vice Chancellors we can cycle through every three years or so. A climbing wall in the gym would be nice too. Also, the next entry.
- The Hechinger Report's Matt Krupnik and Jon Marcus on administrative benefits.
- African American Intellectual History Society's Chris Cameron shares some tips for getting early tenure.
- Against Professional Philosophy's goon squad (who, after being called out, are coming to town; beep, beep) continue the discussion about analytic versus continental philosophy.
- The Atlantic publishes a piece against trigger warnings. This one benefits from a pseudoscientific clinical psychology perspective. The best thing to do with people with anxiety disorders, you sam, is to rub their faces in the very things that bother them. We know this because Science (some of us wear lab coats).
- Inside Higher Ed's Michael Stratford on Hilary Clinton's new proposal to make college affordable.
- Disability and Disadvantage's Shelley Tremain on syllabi accessibility statements.
- Daily Nous thread on the post Eastern APA philosophy job market.
What it's Like:
- Being an atheist in a universe where you have to find meaning on your own because no one conveniently wrote it all down for you.
- Living without gender.
- Being a jailhouse lawyer.
- Being a lawyer who hates lawyers.
- Being a serial killer who kills serial killers.
- Being a philosopher who argues against philosophy.
In vain, in vain—the all-composing hour
Resistless falls; the Muse obeys the power.
She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold
Of Night primeval, and of Chaos old!
Before her Fancy’s gilded clouds decay,
And all its varying rainbows die away.
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.
As one by one, at dread Medea’s strain,
The sick’ning stars fade off th’ ethereal plain;
As Argus’ eyes, by Hermes’ wand opprest,
Closed one by one to everlasting rest;
Thus at her felt approach, and secret might,
Art after Art goes out, and all is night.
See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of casuistry heap’d o’er her head!
Philosophy, that lean’d on Heaven before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense!
See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires,
And unawares Morality expires.
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restor’d;
Light dies before thy uncreating word:
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
And universal Darkness buries all.
- Alexander Pope