Sunday, June 16, 2019

Esposito's Munus?

My anonymous critic directs me to read up on Roberto Esposito's ideas on munus, and here with Timothy Campbell is a good place to start, I guess:
In order to appreciate the originality of Esposito's understanding of biopolitics, I first want to rehearse the relation of community to immunity as [Roberto] Esposito sketches it, not only in Bíos but in his two earlier works, Communitas: Origine e destino della comunità and Immunitas: Protezione e negazione della vita. Reading the terms dialectically, Esposito asks if the relation between community and immunity is ultimately one of contrast and juxtaposition, or rather if the relation isn't part of a larger move in which each term is inscribed reciprocally in the logic of the other. The launching pad for his reflections concerns the principles on which communities are founded. Typically of course, when we think of community, we immediately think of the common, of that which is shared among the members of a group. So too for Esposito: community is inhabited by the communal, by that which is not my own, indeed that begins where 'my own' ends. It is what belongs to all or most and is therefore "public in juxtaposition to 'private,' or 'general' (but also 'collective') in contrast to particular." Yet Esposito notes three further meanings of communitas, all associated with the term from which it originates: the Latin munus. The first two meanings of munus -- onus and officium -- concern obligation and office, while the third centers paradoxically around the term donum, which Esposito glosses as a form of gift that combines the features of the previous two. Drawing on the classic linguistic studies of Benveniste and Mauss, Esposito marks the specific tonality of this communal donum, to signify not simply any gift, but a category of gift that requires, even demands, an exchange in return. "Once one has accepted the munus," Esposito writes, then "one is obliged to return the onus, either in the form of goods or services (officium)." Munus is, therefore, a much more intense form of donum since it requires a subsequent response from the receiver. Here Esposito distills the political connotations of munus. Unlike donum, munus subsequently marks "the gift that one gives, not the gift that one receives," "the contractual obligation one has vis-à-vis the other," and finally "the gratitude that demands new donations" on the part of the recipient (emphasis in original). Here Esposito's particular declension of community becomes clear: thinking community through communitas will name the gift that keeps on giving, a reciprocity in the giving of a gift that doesn't, indeed, cannot belong to oneself. At its (missing) origin, communitas is constructed around an absent gift, one that members of community cannot keep for themselves. According to Esposito, this debt or obligation of gift-giving operates as a kind of originary defect for all those belonging to a community. The defect revolves around the pernicious effects of reciprocal donation on individual identity. Accepting the munus directly undermines the capacity of the individual to identify himself or herself as such and not as part of the community.
This passage is from "Bíos, Immunity, Life: The Thought of Roberto Esposito," by Timothy Campbell. As for Esposito, he practices that strain of continental philosophy that is concerned with "the gift" and that draws on sociology, anthropology, and ethnography for its insights. I myself have made use of such insights in some of my published academic papers. Unfortunately, if this sample of Campbell's writing is typical of the writing on munus, then I anticipate some very opaque passages indeed.

I still don't see why this munus stuff was raised as something relevant to my remarks about the distinction between ethnic and civic nationalism.

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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Winch, not Wench

A winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull in or let out or otherwise adjust the tension of a Reeperbahn.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Mensch and Wench

Although the words "Mensch" and "Wench," might sound as if they meant, in some North German dialect, "Men" and "Women," respectively, they in fact mean "an honorable man" and "a dishonorable woman," respectively, but that isn't my fault.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Nationalism: Ethnic and Civic

My critic mentions Foucault and Foucault's views on "privileging and legitimizing power/knowledge discourses," and accuses me of being "willing to ignore the civic community as a 'munus,'" a term he borrows from Esposito, and he says all that to say this:
The author seems unwilling to tackle these complexities, and instead simply appropriates/promulgates the ethnic/civic paradigm (gleaned from an encyclopedia) without analysis.
Well, my critic seems not to realize that I didn't need that level of analysis for my paper in its original form, though I might need to do more now that my paper has grown, but what I find most disagreeable is my critic's assumption that I needed an encyclopedia to know the difference between ethnic and civic nationalism and that I simply gleaned the distinction from an encyclopedia.

I don't gotta glean nothin if I don't wanna, and I don't wanna cause I don't need to.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Pushing Buttons . . .

For instance, I might submit a paper on the difference between civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism, insisting that the two be distinguished as grand narrative and gland narrative, respectively.

I could argue first about psychology, insist that Jungian psychology manifests the former, the grand narrative, with its all-encompassing mythic stories of who we can be, and insist that Freudian psychology manifests the latter, the gland narrative, with its reductionist, sex-derived formulation of who we cannot but be.

I'd then turn to some other field and make the same sort of division, then another field and do the same, then another and another . . .

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Who wonders?

I'm planning to work some more on my Benét paper because one of the critics wrote "one wonders what Foucault might have to say in terms of" whatever I might have been saying.

One can always wonder when Foucault enters the scene. What might he have to say?

That expression sounds as though it held some imperative force within it. He just has to say it! Why? Because he can't leave us and the sentence dangling in the air like Foucault's pendulum.

The critic says I seem to be "back somewhere within the realm of the New Critics; since Crowe, Ransom et al., much theoretical work has necessarily happened in order to create an incredulity toward these sorts of grand narratives."

(As an aside, "necessarily" and "in order to" make the imperative reading above less unlikely.)

In other words, I'm not conforming to the narrative of ever-greater critical theoretization! Critical Theory's cultural Marxism melded with postmodernism is the Grand Narrative to end all grand narratives

How apocalyptic . . .

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Monday, June 10, 2019

To sleep, perchance to dream . . .

Our cat Ankgie, one of three, died early Sunday morning.

He'd been ill with some kind of infection for a couple of weeks, and we'd visited the vet several times. A few shots, and he'd be better for another day, but then relapse. Saturday night, I could see that he wouldn't outlive these increasingly close brushes with death. Sure enough, at two in the morning, my younger son En-Uk - who was staying up and keeping watch - woke us to say that Angkie was breathing shallow breaths in a 'strange' way. I got up and saw Angkie gasp his last breath. We had him cremated, and we will scatter his ashes somewhere in this part of Korea.

We have two cats remaining . . .

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Sunday, June 09, 2019

Theodore Roethke: "Night Crow"

Some of you know that I'm writing a paper on Milton and MacLeish concerning bird imagery in Genesis and in religious poetry. As I was reflecting on this sort of imagery, I suddenly recalled a poem by that oldtimer, Theodore Roethke:
Night Crow
When I saw that clumsy crow
Flap from a wasted tree,
A shape in the mind rose up:
Over the gulfs of dream
Flew a tremendous bird
Further and further away
Into a moonless black,
Deep in the brain, far back.
Something mythic in there . . .

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Saturday, June 08, 2019

What does that mean?

About this expression:
Shuffle Off This Mortal Coil?
Did the 16th century offer Shakespeare any examples of a spring-driven mechanical man, the word "spring" being a synonym for "coil"?

But how would one shuffle off a spring?

(. . . later . . .)

I finally found this explanation: Link.

The true answer, provided at the link, has nothing to do with my speculations about a mechanical man.

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Friday, June 07, 2019

Another Good Opening Line

The story "The Last of the Legions" from Tales Before Midnight was first published in 1928 by Stephen Vincent Benét (1898-1943), and here begins that opening:
The governor wanted to have everything go off as quietly as possible, but he couldn't keep the people from the windows or off the streets.
Valiant and Victorious (Valeria Victrix), that's how the legion proved itself. The legion's absence would be deeply felt.

You've probably determined that this story concerns the last Roman legion to leave Britain, and you should click here for the entire story.

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Thursday, June 06, 2019

A Good Opening Line

You can read here below the opening line of Johnny Pye and the Fool Killer, from the 1939 collection of Tales before Midnight, by Stephen Vincent Benét:
"You don't hear so much about the Fool-Killer these days, but when Johnny Pye was a boy there was a good deal of talk about him."
We don't hear much about the fool killer these days? I doubt anyone ever heard much about him. But I took time enough to read the story yesterday, so I now know all about the fellow.

Read here.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2019

A Theory of Architecture?

The New York Times Style Magazine of June 2019 has an article "Anxiety of  Influence" on Modernist architecture in Japan and some anxiety about the influence of the man called Le Corbusier but nowhere does the article acknowledge Harold Bloom's influence on its title.

What an irony!

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Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Lincoln was what?

The editorial writer Choi Sang-yeon ("Try Roh's way," JoongAang Daily, June 1-2, 2019) attempts to distinguish two Lincolns:
Lincoln was a skilled politician who attained emancipation rather than being a "great liberator."
The trouble with this statement is that it does not clearly state any opposition between emancipation and liberation. In fact, they are surely synonyms.

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Monday, June 03, 2019

Bill Vallicella Remembers His Teacher John Niemeyer Findlay

In a recent post, my friend Bill Vallicella remembers his teacher John  Niemeyer Findlay for the words that his teacher wrote:
For it is not only Findlay's characteristic patterns once so amply instantiated here below that I now ponder lovingly, but the actual words he wrote, many of them printed, some of them hand-written, that strikingly singular voluminous flow of Baroque articulation so beautifully expressive of a wealth of thoughts. In his books, I have the man still, and presumably at his best, even if he himself, long dead as an instance, has made the transcensive move from the Cave's chiaroscuro to the limpid light wherein he now, something of a Platonic Form himself, beholds the forma formarum, the Form of all Forms.
I won't claim to understand everything Bill has written here, but what interests me is Bill's preference for the particular man, John  Niemeyer  Findlay, as that particular man's actually expressed words reveal him in that particularity.

I do have a question, though. Is Bill's point about Findlay best expressed as "the actual words he wrote," or would Bill's point about Findlay be better expressed as "the words he actually wrote"?

Each expression lends itself to misunderstanding.

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Sunday, June 02, 2019

My Lovely Puppy

This overeducated dog with a mortarboard, as I've previously described, is named, apparently and appropriately, by the original and imaginative name, "Puppy." The owner is the sentimental sort:
"I feel your heart so close to mine
and just stay here in this moment." Thinkthing
There's no backstory to all this, only the semblance of one shown in the random collection of chalk images on a blackboard: a well-shod foot, a fire hydrant, a bone, and a cat. The cat is crossed out, as though a mistake.

Too much of Korean advertising is like this: sentimental, nonsensical, and insubstantial.

And no backstory!

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Saturday, June 01, 2019

Or is it my Doppelgaenger . . .

On Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 6:28 PM, Academia-dot-edu wrote me an email:
"Dear Horace Jeffery, The name 'Horace Jeffery Hodges' is mentioned in a paper published in Nature Reviews Microbiology."
But Academia-dot-edu, which offers more information in return for money, leaves me cold, so I replied:
"I find that 'mention' hard to believe."
I suppose that they, on second thought, might also have found that hard to believe. But as I sit here and think more deeply about this supposed mention, I begin to consider the point more carefully, and I wonder if this might be some connection to my old history-of-science days.

Or is it actually my doppelgaenger? The appearance of one's double is said to be bad luck, very bad luck, namely, death. Mine. Or my double's.

Oh, in case anyone's interested, I'll be returning to our over-educated beagle tomorrow . . .

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Dog Days in School Years

I was telling you (whoever you are) yesterday about my journal book, the one given me by my student. There's a dog pictured on the front cover - and the same dog on the back cover! This dog looks a bit like a beagle, but more scholarly.  He's settled himself into a chair and has both front paws on the desk before him. His head is clad with one of those graduation caps (a mortarboard, I think it's called), and on the desk is his diploma. But what would a dog study? Ah. Obedience. At obedience school. Of course.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Less was Less, So Aim for More

I have a journal given to me by a student, and I've written in it every day since November 21, 2015. But I've actually been keeping a journal since 1985. Until the advent of the internet, I wrote long entries in my journal, writing experimentally. I imposed rules on my style, such as forbidding myself any use of the word "be" unless it were being used in an "-ing" form. That forced me to think harder in expressing myself. But my journal entries became perfunctory and have been for the past decade or longer. I will continue writing shorter entries, but I'll work harder at offering more substantive entries.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

It's about "dingnity"

The bill finally comes due. Google tells me I'm almost out of storage:
You're almost out of storage.
I have a free account of 15 GB. What's a GB? An economic unit based on Great Britain's economic power? Anyway, my GB space is 93 percent full, but Google tells me:
To continue backing up your photos and videos in original quality, buy more storage.
Nah, I think I'll just stop posting photos. So no photo of this vacation spot here in Korea:
Sono Felice Village
To Satisfy Your Dingnity.
The Honorable Relax In Sono!
The place looks like Disney . . .

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Learning to Walk

My Aunt Pauline shows how hard raising a new baby doll can be in these days of religious pluralism:



I was shocked and had to gasp:
"Gasp!"
I also had to explain my gasp:
"That doll is wearing a hijab! This is exactly how Islamization begins."
But warnings trickle through our heads like water through a sieve . . .

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Escape from . . .


The Korean poet Kim Seung-hee says that "Korea is a Karaoke Room" from which one must try to escape. Professor Kim Seong-kon translates an attempted escape:
Alone, you escape the karaoke room
The glittering red neon lights
Have engulfed the night and stars
Wiping tears, you come to realize
That karaoke rooms are ubiquitous
Nothing exists beyond the karaoke room
And Korea is a karaoke room.
There is no escape. Like in "The Cube." I mean a drama production from the sixties and seventies.

For more of the professor's column, see this TKH link.

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Richard Kostelanetz on American Avant-Gardes

Avant Gardes

Carter Kaplan calls our attention to the recent publication of A Dictionary of the American Avant-Gardes, by Richard Kostelanetz.

Kostelanetz, you may recall, is the man who nominated my garbled proverbs for a Pushcart Prize, which I did not win because the judges were biased toward works of higher quality.

Dammit! Aren't there any judges who have standards low enough to vote for me?

Anyway, follow the various links, and you'll eventually end up somewhere . . .

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Big Words: Why?

ou-  and  eu-

"LIGATURED
ORTHOGRAPHICALLY"


"Bound Together in Spelling"


The other day, I mentioned that Coptic prepositions are proclitic to the word they govern, but they will be spelled separate in Lambdin's book.

An exception is the preposition epsilon (e (to, for)), which will be "ligatured orthographically" to the following omicron (o) of omicron upsilon (ou), such that ou- becomes epsilon upsilon eu-.

I think.

And "ligatured orthographically." Big words. Really fascinating, eh?

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris
(Believe it or not!)

According to Wikipedia, Thomas Harris - creator of the brilliant serial killer Hannibal Lecter - attended Baylor University, where he studied English literature, graduating with an M.A. in 1964, about a decade before I arrived on the scene there, where I also studied literature.

There's hope for me yet!

(No, not as another Lecter.)

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Coptic Stuff

COPTIC
PREPOSITIONS!

Lambdin tells us that Coptic prepositions are proclitic, namely, unstressed and bound to the word that they govern. But how does he know this? In the ancient Coptic writings, words are not separated by spaces. How, then, does he know that Coptic prepositions are bound to the word that they govern?

Really how does he know this? Every Coptic word is bound to every other Coptic word sometime or other. How does anyone know when a word has a special bond?

And unstressed? Ha! Just look at the stress we're under right now . . .

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Knowledge of Good and Evil in China-Supported Newspaper

ChinaWatch

Whoever dreamed up this substitute for the sort of paper normally found in an American bathroom certainly lacked a subtle sense of the nuances intrinsic to native-speaker fluency in English.

The large-lettered wording of the title,  China Watch, turns one's mind to the warning implicit in the word "Watch," as in Human Rights Watch. Meaning: Watch them or they'll take away your human rights. In short, a warning to keep a close eye on a tricky, untrustworthy China. But why would China want to warn us about China?

And just above the title, we see the ominous words, "All You Need To Know." In other words, don't try to find out more than this. We know best.

Why do I have this paper? It comes about once a month as a paid-for advertisement supplement inserted into my New York Times.

That's all you need to know!

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

So Much for Brotherhood in Islamism . . .


News Brief: MEMRI TV Clip No. 7168 tells us:
"Former Dutch ISIS Fighter Regrets Having Joined ISIS, Says Syrians, Immigrants Were Treated Poorly Because Leadership Became Dominated By Iraqis"
Just as nationalism undermines communism, so does tribalism undermine Islamism.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

I'm No Linguist, But . . .


. . . I've decided to refresh my Coptic, after having been away from it for about ten years, maybe even fifteen?

I used to know Coptic pretty well, well enough, anyway, to correct Alexander Boehlig.

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Most Beautiful Redheads in the World


Birds have the most beautiful red heads in the world . . .

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Fine-Tuning Tech


In the beginning . . .

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Once Upon a Time . . .

e=mc^?
There was a problem . . .

But the problem was solved: e=mc^2

And they all lived happily ever after . . .

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