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Showing posts from September, 2010

Theory, Sophistry, Bullshit, Style

Now academized here.

Where questions of style and exposition are concerned I try to follow a simple maxim: if you can’t say it clearly you don’t understand it yourself.
- John Searle

Sometimes the obvious is the enemy of the true.
- Gabriel Stolzenberg

I'm away to go study Derrida, mostly because I really want to know if he's the most brilliant comedian to ever work in academic philosophy. But the first thing about him one has to face is not his rejection of power; not his work in developing structuralism; nor even that he was continually demonized as a nihilist: no, the first thing about him is that he could not (or would not) write well.

And, bizarrely, this foible is at the heart of the most popular dismissal of the unsettling work that Derrida and other postmodernist theorists have flung at us. Taking Searle's maxim (above), the critique goes: they're obscure, therefore they're all speaking shite.

It is suggested that there is a subculture in academic thought u…

Good God (Religiose Pop)

Religion and rock music are essentially diametric, even though one developed from the other; most religions presume to work towards perfection; rock music is about embracing imperfection." - Jocelyn Hoppa

That said...

1. Baba Yetu - Christopher Tin
(the impossible gladness of Grace)

2. Into My Arms - Nick Cave
(god-fearing as seduction)

3. I'm On My Way To A Better Place - Chairmen Of The Board

4. Look Up - Chris Bell
(awe is not awesome)

5. Word On A Wing - David Bowie
(the purity of having a really shit time)

6. You In The Sky - Waterboys

7. Happy Guy - NOFX
(tolerance, even condescending tolerance, is the only way you're getting out alive)

8. God's Gonna Cut You Down - Johnny Cash
(it was once about wroth and grinding bones. Traces...)

9. "I Bid You Goodnight" - Byrne or Plant or...
(the equanimous end)

11. They Hung Him On A Cross - Leadbelly

12. I Luv I Jah - Bad Brains
(The Lord is an acceptable motivation [if you're not white])

13. I Will Follow You - Death…

Sans ceremonie

"What are you, a cold-blooded murderer or the controller of Radio 3?"
- good question


What I spoke: "Oh, I didn't know magpies were so blue."

What I said: "I see a magpie. (I haven't examined a magpie this close before.) This magpie has a lot of blue above its tail feathers; Therefore all magpies have a lot of blue above their tailfeathers. I did not generalize that before."

(Our hidden leaps...)


Some economics thoughts from summer notebooks (that is, all of them; it's pretty sick how little I think about it):

1. Children are a positive externality. (But the costliest good.)

"It is for children that we want heaven"
- John Irving

I mean children in general, not, say, the ones sitting just behind your plane seat. Production of the brand continues out of a curious mix of near-total market anarchism…

Parting Playlist

"Speak the truth - but leave immediately afterwards."
- Slovene proverb

On Spotify Here

An inverted reply to a musical reply to the thing I wrote on love.

Most songs are about love, sex, or loving sex. Better: most are about the glory of it, wanting it, or heartbreak. There's little space for resenting its incursion into your business, or how it fucks up your social circle; being glad of the back of someone; pining because you're trapped in a shit relationship; or simply suddenly losing interest, all commonplace in life and missing in culture. (I suppose this is where grime comes in.) The dumped is always focalised; we don't have a decent cultural vocabulary in which to treat leavers or rejectors. They're enigmatic dicks, or nothing. But it sucks to leave too - to happen to fall out of love first and have to do something about it - and it's just inadequate to have one mechanical trope for justifying the action (being abused or cheated on). You can be heart…

Songs To and From Beijing

BOWSHOTS 1. Sure Shot - Beastie Boys
"Because you can't and you won't and you don't STOP"

2. The Capital - Auden
"In unlighted streets you hide away the appalling..."

3. Legal Man - Belle & Sebastian
"Get out of the city...and into the sunshine"

4. Hunter Gets Captured By the Game - Marvelettes
"Everyday things change / And the world puts on a new face
Certain things rearrange / And this world seems like a new place"

5. VI. A Major Port - Auden
"Only the brass-bands throbbing in the parks foretell /
Some future reign of happiness and peace. /
We learn to pity and rebel."

6. New Wave - Against Me!
"We can control the medium / We can control the context of presentation"

7. The Dream Is Dead - Type O Negative
"I can't believe things turned out this way, and though I hate to see you go..."

8. Sonnets From China II - Auden
"They wondered why the fruit had been forbidden: /
It taught them nothing new. They hid their…

Showing more than Saying (the Tractatus in Pictures)

Wittgenstein does not, however, relegate all that is not inside the bounds of sense to oblivion. He makes a distinction between saying (sagen) and showing (zeigen) which is made to do additional work.

There are, beyond the senses (
Sinne) that can be formulated in sayable propositions, things that can only be shown. These show themselves in the form of (contingent) propositions, in the symbolist and logical propositions, and even in the unsayable (metaphysical, ethical, aesthetic) propositions of philosophy. 'What can be shown cannot be said.' But it is there, in language, even though it cannot be said.

- Anat Biletzski

Sketches from the most minimal metaphysics: "the most that can sensibly be said" about everything at once, and then some. I had wanted this post to be wordless, but you won't get much out of it if I don't do quite a lot of setup first. A version with the German original and both flawed English translations is here.


Two things that didn't exist, before

So, I'm told that it's actually a thing when people purge their friends list on social networking sites in response to real-life trauma.
I'm not saying that social networking invented the midlife crisis; just that this specific form of snubbing people, where you decide that you don't care about/want to avoid someone, and which has always gone on internally, has now been concretized and made available to the snubbed.

And: All the Fan Pages on these networks which highlight some trivial universal or other.

"walkin past some1 with a big afro and thinkin legend"
"saying thingy when you cant think of the word to say"
"it wasnt awkward til u said "this is awkward". Now its awkward"
"im not ignoring you, yr text is just pointless to reply to"
"i will go out of my way to step on a leaf that looks particularly crunchy"
"The Guy Who Discovered Milk...what was he doing with the cow!!?!?"
"Yeah, ok, yes, yeah, …

Punk as Ideology

"Punk is a music that is inherently hilarious. To try to make serious punk music is like trying to make serious happy hardcore. That's never been its purpose for me."


"It has always been my way to de-value the fashionable, light-hearted, impulsive traits that people associate with punk, because punk is more than that, so much more. Those elements become trivial in the light of the experience that punkers share."
– Greg Graffin

I only mean "ideology" in the new neutral sense of 'a set of political beliefs'. (Whereas marxists and politicians use it as an insult.)

Political science splits ideologies into: their core beliefs (the essence of the thing), adjacent beliefs (other commonly found themes), and peripheral (fringe but distinctive) beliefs. This clunky approach lets us account for the mind-jarring variety of people that all call themselves "liberals", or "socialists", or whatever.

While I'm being academic …