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Showing posts from June 15, 2008

Trees dreaming: La Bruyère/Carpenter Shih

We looked at the oak tree in the Chuang Tzu (which was assembled from various parts around 100 A.D.) whose spirit preached the great sermon on uselessness in the dream of Carpenter Shih. There’s a quite different tree in La Bruyère’s Characters, which was published anonymously for the first time in 1687, undergoing, afterwards, numerous revisions which critics have read in the light of their idea of La Bruyère’s intention. It is in the section, Des biens de Fortune, which could be translated in various ways: On the good things of the rich, or, on the goods of fortune. Fortuna, here, is the foundation of wealth – which touches on the deep structure of La Bruyere’s Characters, the contrast between social sets – the Town and the Court, for instance. Men and Women. “How many men resemble those trees, already strong and advanced in age, which one transplants into gardens, where they surprise the eyes of those who see them placed in the pretty spots where they had never seen them grow, an

Good Texas posture

I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t understand Texas – especially Yankees. That’s why I was so happy to run into this YouTube video , yesterday, showing a typical Texas rite de passage. As my friend, Mr. Lumpenprof , can tell you, this is the way we do things down here - and boy howdy, there’s no funner way to make sure kids grow up standing straight and tall – we do hate bad posture in the Lone Star State! This kind of thing happens all the time on these lazy summer days in my neighborhood – you hear kids giggling, their mothers crying for them to stand still, and occasionally howls of pain – I always smile and think, somebody wasn’t listening to Mom! What Texans have a hard time understanding is that Yankees just don’t have these fun childhood games. I don’t know, but I think this is the reason Yankees are so weird!

Simmel's big adventure

Simmel’s essay on adventure begins by considering the “double-sidedness” of events in a life. On the one hand, events fall into a pattern in relationship to one another, so that one can talk of a life as a whole and mean a unified thing – on the other hand, events have their own center of gravity, and can be defined in terms of their own potential for pleasure or pain. To use an example not mentioned by Simmel, but getting at what he means: Famously, Kant had a regular habit of taking a certain stroll each day in Königsberg. It was famous as a regular habit – it was an example of some craving for order in Kant’s life, which some have read into his work. Now, one walk was, intentionally, much like the other – and yet, they all formed a distinct sub-system in Kant’s life of Kant’s walks. In ordinary life, we often talk about what we are “like”. If I lose, say, my wallet, I may say, I always leave it on the table. In so saying, I’m observing myself anthropologically – this is what the

the adventurer

If you look up the sociology of adventure, you will soon find that there is little or none. Astonishingly, it seems to hold no interest, in itself, for the sociologist. With one exception – a classic essay by Simmel. When, otherwise, the subject comes up, the sociologist views adventure in the same spirit as the tourist agency: as a category in the leisure field, requiring a guide, hotel accomodations, showers at the end of it, cameras, and flights to and fro. This is all the more astonishing in that adventurers certainly have existed. Adventurers brought down the Inca empire. Adventurers founded the Jamestown colony. Legitimists called Napoleon an adventurer for good reason – the same thing could be said for Garibaldi. So why the lack of interest? Perhaps it is because adventure, from the serious social science point of view, seems to have the irritating ability to turn the monumental into the ludicrous: it is continually shaking hands with the Commandantore. And, for the social scien

A Devil Speaks

We share our mothers' health It is what we've been dealt What's in it for me? As much as I hate to admit it, the MSM (I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead) roaring triumphantly about the Great Fly’s last European tour, are absolutely correct. It is not just the lack of demonstrations, which is the a subsurface phenomenon (I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.) It is attributed to boredom with the Fly, but it is, instead, a monument to the decade’s tyranny, to the criminal oligarchies that have created, out of their unbelievable greed and lack of imagination, and their lock on the discourse, a veritable desert of democracy, systematically exhausting the more populous opposition that can never seem to elect a representative who will resist the bastards, who will put an end to their works, all those who

keeping up with Brit

Sunday at LI is time to reflect on world historical events... as they effect Britney Spears. Spears, of course, is presently operating under a ruse that is as deep and brilliant as ever a mousketeer dreamed. In the early 90s, moral panic indicted every parent as an abuser, probably in thrall to Satan. Not a kindercare worker, for four bucks an hour, could make the rounds but that some California D.A. was preparing to put her on the stand for bestiality, coprophagy, and refusing to follow etiquette when taking down a U.S. flag. Our moral purge over – like all American purges, it left a satisfying ten thousand or so to rot in prison for no reason – we now can morally gorge again. Thus, the Kingdom of the Great Fly is now dotted with Purity Parties , a concept that perfectly marries gated community narcissism to the revanchist hatred of pussy that festers in the soul of the American hero – the hero who D.H. Lawrence recognized: “But you have there the myth of the essential white America.