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Showing posts from October 8, 2023


    In the Wolfgang Promies edition of Lichtenberg’s Sudelb ü cher, the beginning note in notebook A, which could be the beginning of this “book”, such as it is, reads: “The great art of making small deviations from the truth in order to get to the truth, on which the whole differential calculus is built, is at the same time the foundation of our most brilliant [witzigen] thoughts, where often the whole thing would collapse if we took the point of view of philosophical strictness in relation to the deviations.” This is a great way to begin a “waste book” that is no book – neither a book of maxims on the order of the French moralists nor a diary nor an essay, but a mix of all three - and it is also a motto for a certain genre that I would call the “para-historical”. Writers of all types – bloggers, Sunday researchers, journalists, memoirists – “do” history, but do it outside the strict methodologies and judgments of real historians – academic historians. The latter are absolutely

Christ and Degenerate Art

- I direct your attention to inventory no. 16232, a giant wooden Kruzifixus, accused of Judeo-Bolshevism, from the atelier of one L.G. by way of a Museum in Stettin. - O. I am beginning with an “I”. Begin. Begat. Begone. - An inventory number implies an inventory. The number of art objects seized by the Nazis between 1933 and 1939 within the German speaking sphere — Anschluss Austria, conquered Czechoslovakia — is still unknown. But 16232 is a large number. Does it really reflect the number of art pieces seized? Inventories don’t necessarily reflect a number line. For instance, zip codes are a form of inventory. In this case, Mario Andreas von Luttichau has studied the matter and concluded that the inventory numbers that were assigned “coincided to some extent with the sequence of works in the exhibition…” — in other words, operated a bit like zip code numbers. Still, as there was only around 630 some works in the Munich museum, the original sequence, which specified the works, must ha

William James, Effective Altruism, and Sam Bankman-Fried

There is a passage in William James’ essay, The Moral Philosopher – which, by the way, is an excellent analysis of that species we now call the “pundit” or the opinion writer – which sums up the delusion called “effective altruism” and even predicts its course, from the principles it begins with:   “A look at another peculiarity of the ethical universe, as we find it, will still further show us the philosopher's perplexities. As a purely theoretic problem, namely, the casuistic question would hardly ever come up at all. If the ethical philosopher were only asking after the best imaginable system of goods; he would indeed have an easy task; for all demands as such are prima facie respectable, and the best simply imaginary world would be one in which every demand was gratified as soon as made. Such a world would, however, have to have a physical constitution entirely different from that of the one which we inhabit. It would need not only a space, but a time, "of n-﷓dimension