cheese it, the cops! 2014-04-19 08:33:14


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Carol King wrote "Don’t Bring Me Down?" Really…


You know, Carol King wrote this. What the hell, ehh...

The oddest things make you get all philosophic...which I suppose is why philosophers and those of us who are kinda, sorta like that, the modern Philosophe's or Philosopotasters (if you're not sure what that means, ask Crispin) lead such odd lives. Anyway, I saw a piece in American Songwriter this morning and it got me thinking about, of all things, rock and roll as Apollo's chariot, so to speak. The fact that a truly great rock and roll band has to be able to cover other people's stuff exceptionally well while finding their own way. And, some people you might not expect to have any patience with anyone can handle spoiled prima donnas better than most. But, mainly the fact that lots of us had our lives and sanity saved by rock and roll...

Full piece at the Defeatists. Lots of music. Maybe even some good thinking. Maybe not. Figure it out. Since Typepad has a problem with comments at the Defeatists for some reason, feel free to post here or just email me at


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standards are falling

speaking of the practice of calling anyone you disagree with a terrorist, harry reid calls bundy and the 'militias' that have rallied in his support 'domestic terrorists'. on morning joe this morning, mike barnicle waved around a dictionary, defined 'terrorism' and asserted flatly that reid was perfectly right. barnicle was obviously wrong, even by the inadequate definition he quoted. no one is a terrorist without committing any actual acts of violence, no matter how you cut it. 'they're resisting our government', said barnicle, showing exactly who he is, the goddamn commie. no wait! he's a fascist. he's a monphysite, i tell you, a blanquist, a witch. anyway only an embezzler or a jacobin quotes webster's dictionary in defense of his monstrous positions, like osama with the koran.

this phenomenon of using 'terrorist' completely indiscriminately to mean whomever you don't like is self-consuming: the word is meaningless in these doinks' mouths, and all they are trying to do is manipulate their followers, if any, into a rage. i hear that in dc, people are tossing the term around in marital spats. i'm sure bundy calls reid a terrorist too. we need higher standards both of terrorism and of meaningfulness. if i were a terrorist - and i'm sure i am by barnicle's or reid's or assad's standards etc - i'd be getting pissed off. geez y'all count anyone as a terrorist these days! christ i had to earn that shit by blowing people to smithereens; now all you have to do is wave the wrong sign or get tased. what is the world coming to? we used to have standards.

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humility and genius

philosophy really has produced some of the most monstrous egos in human history. i often point to the prefaces of the german idealists: here is what humanity has been waiting for since it awoke to consciousness; here is the culmination of our species. or nietzsche: "why i am a destiny". one of the most charming things about g.e. moore is his extreme, astonishing humility.

here are some bits of his autobiographical sketch, written for the "library of living philosophers" volume on his work (1942). (the llp exists still; it has produced great volumes on, e.g. rorty and danto under randy auxier's editorship.)

"I do not know that Russell owed to me anything except mistakes."

On his early paper "The Nature of Judgement": "I am sure the article must have been full of confusions."

On a revision of Principia Ethica: "Of course, even with all this alteration, there still remained an immense deal that was wrong with it; but I did not see that clearly at the time, though I constantly felt vaguely dissatisfied."

"When I got to know [Wittgenstein], I soon came to feel that he was much cleverer at philosophy than I was, and not only cleverer, but more profound, and with a much better insight into the sort of inquiry which was really important and best worth pursuing, and into the best method of pursuing such inquiries. . . . [The Tractatus] is a book which I admired and do admire extremely. There is of course a good deal in it which I am not able to understand."

Of his student F.P. Ramsey: "I felt distinctly nervous in lecturing before him: I was afraid he would see some gross absurdity in things which I said, of which I was quite unconscious."

believe it or not, i think it is partly things like this (which i think are honest expressions of his own self-assessment), and moore's whole anti-genius persona, that have led him to be underestimated. in particular moore has been one of many people who have been blown away by wittgenstein's super-genius performance, and moore's reputation has suffered partly by comparison to wittgenstein. and though moore should have had a much higher opinion of his own work, it is so sweet that he did not.


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all aboard the blunderbus

editing through entanglements i keep noticing that its presiding spirit in some ways is g.e. moore. perhaps hoping to pitch a piece of literary journalism to someone, i've been reading moore's writings, the bios, and so on. in my opinion he compares extremely well with his associates russell and wittgenstein, but he has been fading in reputation for decades, i think. for one thing, in 1939 moore proved once and for all in a way that no one can possibly doubt, that the external world exists. quite the little accomplishment! the famous proof: "here is a hand, and here is another".


whatever our assessment of moore's proof, we ought to be astonished that someone feels the need to argue for the existence of 'a world outside the mind' or the existence of 'things to be met with in space' in 1939. here's one way of narrating 'modern thought' or the run-up to and then the enlightenment: the works of figures such descartes, locke, leibniz, hume, kant are connected with science or are attempting to give underpinnings for the new secular and and empirical approach that is at the center of western culture even now. but i think basically modern philosophy is pitted against modern science, and i think that by and large this history, and then nineteenth-century idealism - fichte, hegel, schelling, schopenhauer, etc - , and then the positivists, hermenauts, narrativists, deconstructionsits, phenomenologists, etc. is profoundly anti-scientific and also a miserable dead end. 

seriously, descartes starts the thing off by doubting the existence of the world and moore polishes it off by proving the existence of the world. throughout, the existence of the world is a problem. hume proves that it cannot be proven, then kant spends thousands of pages of tortured deduction proving it after all, except that the world he proves isn't external to the mind at all, but constructed by it (i'll give kant this, though, if he proves anything, he does prove that there are things to be met with in space; sadly space is internal to the mind). and the whole tradition, more or less, is led down this dark alley to its doom by the notion that we only directly perceive our own images, representations, ideas, impressions, sense data, and so on. seriously, they staked hundreds of years of extreme ingenuity on this perfectly doubtable dogma, or rather this very obvious mistake. that is because they were actually fighting a rearguard action for mind and spirit and spiritual reality and against the material world.

if the idea that we only perceive our own ideas and the external world might not exist at all, or might be mind or something, ever helped anyone do any actual science, that would be very surprising. really, as galileo gazes through his telescope, he needs to report what he sees, not discharge the hypothesis that he might be dreaming. the planet jupiter is a representation in our consciousness, it is an idea, or a congeries of ideas, and so on: that has nothing to do with science and if scientists ever took it seriously as some sort of issue, science would never have happened at all. some mistakes persist for centuries, son, and some blunders are merely blunders.

moore was trained by idealists (mctaggart, e.g.) and he spent a career not merely refuting them, but ridiculing them, with real gentleness, but with brilliant wit. but so subtle was this wit often that people missed the jokes - some of which take many pages to unfold - entirely. here is an example: in principia ethica he spends a long time arguing as against kant, that it matters "just a bit" whether or not beautiful things exist in the world, or rather just in the mind (or 'sensible manifold' etc). he works at it paragraph after paragraph, admitting that of course this matter of whether anything beaiutiful exists in the world is a trivial matter compared to what's happening in immanuel kant's head, but still it does matter in a teensy way. he is very good-naturedly poking kant and us in the ribs. but 'here is a hand' encapsulates the whole thing beautifully: it is hilarious, and moore thinks it is really absurd and great that he has to prove the existence of the external world against his own professors and colleagues. it is both a perfectly rigorous and decisive  proof and a perfect parody of the whole idea of a proof, in particular of something that no one ever doubted for a moment.


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journalistic wins and losses

nice job by the pulitzer committee on the snowden stories, though nothing could be more obvious. meanwhile, if cnn has ever won pulitzers, i'd rescind them immediately, or maybe they can establish a pulitzer prize for stupid, cnn's by acclamation. the lead with jake tapper goes with the national lead: anti-semitic murders in kc. so far, so good. international lead: again on day 14 million, nothing is happening on flight 370. after that we'll get to the extreme international crisis unfolding right at this moment at the ukraine. if there are any people who regard themselves as journalists involved in such decisions, they should start calling themselves something else; i have some suggestions on that. whatever is happening in their editorial meetings suggests that whoever is making the decisions needs immediately to find another line of work - fast food, maybe. 

update: and at 5, wolf blitzer is all: dramatic developments in three big stories! then they lead with this: 370's co-pilot's cell phone was on a half hour after the plane disappeared from radar. wolf knows better, and should simply refuse to read the garbage that anti-journalists are putting up on his prompter. al jazeera america is the only news-gathering operation currently available on dish network.

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more and more, i'm grooving on the way governments use the word 'terroriist'. e.g. the government of the ukraine, such as it is, is calling their largely hypothetical actions against russian separatists 'anti-terror operations'. oh, bashar assad is another who calls any disagreement with himself terrorism. i assume vlad putin is calling the gov of ukraine terrorists; he calls everyone a terrorist. i get the propaganda value, i suppose, though surely that is fading fast as the word loses all meaning, in the manner of words in the mouths of government officials from time immemorial. what they are showing, however, is that they regard any disagreement with themselves as terrifying, the little pussies. 

maybe try zyklon b

immigration seems to be coming up again, as jeb bush - who is running for president - tries to frame it as a campaign issue. now, one line that people always come up with is 'it's unrealistic to deport 10 million people'. well, i'll tell you what, the obama admin has deported 2 million, so i wouldn't assume that they or their successors couldn't or wouldn't deport millions more, or indeed, say, the whole population of the lower 48. meanwhile almost half a million people are being held in what we should certainly call concentration camps. these camps, in the time-honored tradition, are filed with people of a particular ethnicity. meanwhile obama's up on stage quoting king, etc. it's a real inspiration.

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romantic love, the obit

i have given up on, or aged beyond, this romantic love thing, and i have placed a moratorium on sex with other people. the whole sex/love conflagration had for me its ecstatic moments, and its decades of pain, rage, obsession. i wasn't good for the women i was with (jamie, rachael, judith, marion, from when i was 15 to 50) and they weren't good for me. i have seen it work out ok; i just haven't seen it work out ok for me. indeed, with the (possible) exception of the deaths of people i loved, it has been by far the source of the greatest pain in my life. i often mutated into an asshole that i myself despised. i was both jealous or controlling and actually betrayed, sometimes for years on end both ways round. i helped produce beautiful children, but you know romantic love is not strictly necessary for reproduction, and my reproductive years are over. anyway, at 55, i am less driven pillar-to-post by sexual desire, which was always to me necessarily connected to romantic love. (i've tried semi-casual sex over the last few years, because there were no other real possibilities, but to me it just seems wrong, not for you necessarily, but for me.) it has been a great relief to me just to give up and chill, despite the fact that i still experience a hole where the love of a good woman should, in my unreality, be. i'm gonna try fill that with asphalt.

no, this is not a plea for a date!



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an inspiring leader

relentless tributes by all great americans to lyndon baines johnson. well, i do remember when he was president. voting rights are good. now, there were some little drawbacks: e.g. hundreds of thousands of people killed in vietnam; oh all the regions defoliated with agent orange, the napalmed villages, the utterly indiscriminate bombing, the constant lies lies lies about what was happening, indeed the big lie to get us in in the first place. how many black guys killed or wounded in a war fought for no discernible reason, which ended in complete defeat? maybe he should have fought for the voting rights of corpses. 


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