Friday, September 30, 2016

Egyptian TV host Hani Al-Nahhas Supports Assassination of Jordanian Writer Nahed Hattar,

Hani Al-Nahhas
Supports Murder of Nahed Hattar

We now have 'respectable' men supporting extrajudicial punishment for those who 'blaspheme.' Memri informs us in Clip No. 5697 (September 26, 2016) that:
Egyptian TV host Hani Al-Nahhas declared that he supported the assassination of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was due to have stood trial for blasphemy following his posting of a cartoon online. Al-Nahhas said that blasphemy does not constitute freedom of speech and that Hattar would stand trial in "God's court."
Al-Nahhas expressed his opinion live on the Egyptian Alhadas Elyoum TV. Click for the video, for the transcript, and for an article on the original offense.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

From Stopped Clocks to Broken Sundials

A Broken Sundial
Darin Hayton

As I was trying to fix a broken clock aphorism, this parallel aphorism revealed itself to me:
Antique Aphorism
"A broken sundial is only a shadow of its former glory."
Where did this one come from? That's a mystery to me . . .


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Even With an Aphorism, a Broken, Stopped Clock Ain't Never Right

Broken Clock

Broken clock? Right twice a day? Nah . . . that ain't right!
Timely Advice
"A broken clock is not right twice a day."
If a clock is broken, it ain't keeping time, so it can't ever be right. Technically, it can't be wrong, either.

You're in the Twilight Zone . . .


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Replicas of Gislebertus Alabasters of Adam and Eve at WAH Center

Adam and Eve

Yuko Nii and Terrance Lindall have some wonderful events going on at the WAH Center, partly because they've got the only remaining replica of the Gislebertus Adam, as is noted below:
The Yuko Nii Foundation alabaster is likely the only surviving replica of this Gislebertus Adam, which makes it highly significant. It is "the completion of a great masterpiece!" What the Adam looked like was unknown to the art world until NOW . . . at the WAH Center!

"The (Yuko Nii Foundation) alabasters (of Adam and Eve), especially the Adam one, promise to be of great importance to the history of Romanesque art." Jeff Rider, Professor of French and Medieval Studies, Wesleyan University

"These are fascinating pieces (your alabasters of Adam and Eve) . . ." Robert A. Maxwell, Associate Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, The James B. Duke House, NYU

“Eve has a seductive quality that no other 12th century artist has equaled. If the other block (Adam) had survived, we would most certainly have had in it the completion of a great masterpiece” T. S. R. Boase, President of Magdalen College, Oxford.

On Display FOR THREE HOURS ONLY at The WAH Center's DINNER WITH DEVIL October 8, 2016, event description and Tickets here.
Yuko and Terrance are artists and curators who will only grow in stature in both areas, so visit the WAH Center, online or off, if you have an opportunity.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Out on the Town

My old friend Seung-Tae and I had our regularly highly irregular scholarly evening out on the town:

Can any readers guess the locale? Should be a cinch. Here's another hint:

Anyone recognize it now? If only that oddly capped foreign fool would stop blocking the view . . .


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Shaking a Stick at Wisdom: Revisited

Spilt Milk
Why Cry?
Google Images

Upon reflection, I realized I could do better on my proverb of September 21:
Cuss Instead
"It's no g-ddamn use crying over spilt milk."
Don't be a crying shame! Cuss like a sailor!


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Truer Words Were Never Spoken!

Forging Good Luck
Google Images

Even strong metal can grow fatigued:
Overwrought Iron
"Strike while the irony's hot."
I deserve a  medal for this one . . . although it's been said many times, many ways.

UPDATE: TheBigHenry predates me on this twisted proverb by almost a decade! The man deserves a medal.


Friday, September 23, 2016

There'll Be Hell To Pay!

Google Images

Why be a hypocrite about it?
Fee Speech
"If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything nice at all."
But it ain't kostenlos. Got that, dunderhead?


Thursday, September 22, 2016

War and Peaceful Domesticity

I'm still very busy with the semester's bustling beginning, so here's another twisted proverb:
Fallen in Love
"All's fair in love and war of the sexes."
The thought occurs to me that the original version of this twisted proverb was even more twisted since there are rules of warfare.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

More Wisdom Than You Can't Shake a Stick At

Due to unforeseen inactivities, I am again offering meaty chunks of wisdom for your delectation!
Cuss Instead?
"It's no use crying over spilléd milk."
Stop worrying about your new shoes, and get a mop!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Another Twisted Proverb!

Here's a discrete bit of knowledge to keep discreetly to yourself:
Proverbial Knowledge
"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
Re-memorize this, and know when the ledge is too narrow!

Update: Yes, I've edited the line.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Kim Myongsob and I, Cited by Chih-Yu Shih (Zhiyu Shi) on East Asia . . .

Getting Schooled
Google Images

In chapter 8 ("Justifying non-intervention: East Asian Schools of International Relations") of Civilization, Nation and Modernity in East Asia (2012), Chih-Yu Shih (Zhiyu Shi) briefly cites Kim Myongsob and me (in the underlined, bold-fonted words) within the context of a discussion on international relations (IR) in East Asia:
In fact, the quest for a proper role for one's own nation does not belong exclusively to a rising power. Asian intellectuals aspire for indigenous schools of IR that reflect their historical experiences and implicate plausible international norms for a much wider audience (Acharya and Buzan, 2007). However, the recent call for indigenous schools of IR in Asian communities may backfire for two reasons. The first reason is related to the epistemological limitation. The quest for an indigenous school of IR in East Asian communities has its origin in the English School, which conceives IR as a 'society' as opposed to a 'system' in the American IR literature (Little, 2000). For other indigenous schools of IR, the task is to demonstrate that there are different kinds of societal norms other than English anarchy or natural law such as the Chinese all-under-heaven (Zhao T., 2009; Shih, 1990), Japanese Asianism (Mori and Hirano, 2007; Iriye, 1997a), Indian subaltern sensibility and non-alignment (Chatterjee, 1993; Nandy, 1994), Korean civilizational in-betweenness (Kim and Hodges, 2006; 2005), the ASEAN way (Haccke, 2005), and Taiwanese non-sovereign agency (Ling, Hwang and Chen, 2010; Chen C., 2009), etc. However different these societal norms may appear, they reinforce the English School ontology that international relations are not scientific systems or context-free patterns independent from their spatio-temporal settings and hence are epistemologically European in origin.
That's on page 141. The bibliographical entry is on page 223, and to my surprise, I find two items:
Kim, Myongsob and Horace Jeffery Hodges. 2006. 'Korea as a Clashpoint of Civilizations'. Korea Observer 37, 3 (Autumn): 513–545.
Kim, Myongsob and Horace Jeffery Hodges, 2005. 'On Huntington's Civilizational Paradigm: A Reappraisal'. Issues and Studies 41, 2 (June): 217-248.
Most of my scholarly collaborations with Kim Myongsob drew upon the civilizational theory of Samuel Huntington.That's another interest of mine. From the various citations shown over the past several days, I suspect that readers can see why I do, in fact, merit the label "Gypsy Scholar," for I wander hither and yon in search of knowledge.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Janet Todd cites me on Pride and Prejudice

Photo of Darcy and Elizabeth!

In chapter 2 of The Cambridge Companion to 'Pride and Prejudice' (2013), Janet Todd presents recent literary 'Criticism' on the novel Pride and Prejudice, including an article of my own:
In 'Darcy's Ardent Love and Resentful Temper in Pride and Prejudice' Horace Hodges argued that Darcy was used to test current ideas of resentment, such as those discussed by Scottish Enlightenment thinkers Adam Smith and the historian William Robertson, who wrote of 'the strong resentment which calumniated innocence naturally feels'. Darcy's love for Elizabeth lets him put resentment in an epistemological framework and is imbued with 'the Christian concept of a love that is not proud and that seeks to perceive what is good in the loved one'.[26]
That's on page 144, and so is the footnote:
[26] Horace Hodges, 'Darcy's Ardent Love and Resentful Temper in Pride and Prejudice', Persuasions 30 (Winter 2009).
So, I'm now officially "Horace Hodges," I reckon . . .


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Corrinne Harol and Jessica MacQueen cite me on corruption . . .

Google Books

In The Secrets of Generation: Reproduction in the Long Eighteenth Century (2015), Raymond Stephanson and ‎Darren N. Wagner include an article, "Eve's Choices: Procreation, Reproduction, and the Politics of Generation in Paradise Lost," by Corrinne Harol and Jessica MacQueen, who cite me from an article I published on the problem of uncorrupt fruit falling from prelapsarian trees in Milton's Paradise Lost:
Because Adam and Eve do not yet have children while all other creations seem already to be multiplying, "uncropped" fruit falls to the ground in Eden faster than the pair can manage it (IV.731).[12]
Harol and MacQueen cite me on this point:
[12] Horace Jeffrey Hodges (2011) links the language of uncropped versus cropped to virginity versus death and sexual corruption, and he argues that Satan and Eve, who embody the qualities of cropped fruit, are necessary to God's plan.
My name is again misspelled, and my main point is not fully brought out, which involves puns on uncorrupt and corrupt through the words uncropt and cropt, but I at least merited a footnote!


Friday, September 16, 2016

Also cited by Shuli Barzilai . . .

In Tales of Bluebeard and His Wives from Late Antiquity to Postmodern Times (2009), pages 10-11, Shuli Barzilai cites my online article "'Ethical' Dualism of Food in The Gospel of John":
Furthermore, in both early Jewish and Christian sources, connotations of corruption and death accrue to vinegar as a form of spoiled or overfermented wine. For confirmation that "rabbinical tradition considered vinegar a 'cursed' substance," Jeffery Hodges cites the reiteration in the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud of a mishnaic ruling attributed to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi ("Judah the Prince"): Over vinegar....R. Judah says, Anything which is in the nature of a curse: one does not say a Blessing over it."
In my article, I was identifying vinegar as wine gone bad, indeed cursed, in contrast to the good wine of the miracle at Cana.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

David E. Garland cites John C. Poirier and me . . .

David E. Garland

A few years back, John C. Poirier and I published an article, "Jesus as the Holy One of God: The Healing of the Zavah in Mark 5.24b-34" (pdf) (Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 8 (2011–12) 151-84), which the scholar David E. Garland drew upon in his book A Theology of Mark's Gospel: Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God (2015). Among other citations and quotes, Garland introduces the following block quote with the words "Hodges and Poirier conclude that Mark"
presents Jesus as the holy one of God - a source of inexhaustible power - and yet approachable even by those in a state of impurity. This suggests that Mark intends to present God as judging according to his mercy rather than his justice (to use the rabbinic terminology). This fits with the interpretation of Mark's portrayal of Jesus' mission as being motivated primarily by the politics of compassion rather than that of purity. This also signifies an increased emphasis in Mark upon the very personal nature of the divine. Destruction no longer occurs automatically when the impure comes near or even into contact with the holy, despite the fact that the impure and the holy remain antithetical forces characterized by their dynamic opposition. From a history-of-religions perspective, this means that in Mark's portrayal of Jesus as the approachable holy one of God, a new relation between the holy and the profane is emerging.
This isn't his only citation and quote from our article, but it's the longest quote. Other citations can be found by the search function in the online book by typing in "Poirier" or "Hodges."

Garland, by the way, is currently serving as the interim president for Baylor University, my old alma mater.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Todd S. Berzon Briefly Cites Me on Astrological Determinism

Professor Todd S. Berzon, in his book Classifying Christians: Ethnography, Heresiology, and the Limits of Knowledge in Late Antiquity (2016), cites me on page 4, in footnote 17:
On astrological determinism among the Gnostics, see Horace Jeffrey Hodges, "Gnostic Liberation from Astrological Determinism: Hipparchan 'Trepidation' and the Breaking of Fate," VC 51.4 (1997): 359–73.
He also cites Professor Nicola Denzey Lewis, whom I blogged on yesterday, so he probably learned of me in her book.

This citation of my article is merely a footnote, but that's not nothing, so I wish my name were spelled right ("Jeffery," not "Jeffrey"), but I seem fated to suffer such misrecognition, due to the unusual spelling of my name.

And I wish I weren't named "Horace" . . .


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Another Scholar Citing Me: Nicola F. Denzey on Cosmology and Fate

Cosmology and Fate

Nicola F. Denzey, in her book Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity: Under Pitiless Skies (2013), cites me:
In a provocative article, Horace Hodges points out the highly technical nature of Pistis Sophia's astrological theory, including jargon such as 'squares,' 'trines' and '(periods of) influence.'[11] Jesus tells his disciples that he rotated the sphere of the zodiac first to the left then to the right, such that the stars would seem to move eastward along the ecliptic, then westward, thus thwarting the predictive powers of the astrologers based on now-antiquated knowledge of celestial movements. Hodges raises the possibility that somehow, the Hellenistic Greek astronomer Hipparchus's 'discovery' of the precession of the equinoxes (an apparent eastward motion of the zodiacal signs) and 'trepidation' - an apparent retrograde motion of the stars - eventually made its way into the Pistis Sophia's soteriology and cosmology. Since Hipparchus's work was known and cited by the Roman Greek astronomer Ptolemy (90–168 CE), it is perhaps not entirely controversial to suggest that Hipparchus's discoveries 'trickled down' to various religious authors of the second century CE, who posited in turn that only a deity of tremendous power might have effected such a dramatic cosmic shift as rotating the cosmic axis. Furthermore, the workings of this deity were known only to a privileged few through revelation or initiation; others (most notably, here, the supposedly learned astrologers peddling an alternate and intractable theory of determinism) only perpetuated a theory of enslavement that had been stealthily and irrevocably undone.
She adds a footnote:
[11] Horace Jeffrey Hodges, "Gnostic Liberation from Astrological Determinism: Hipparchan 'Trepidation' and the Breaking of Fate," VC 51/4 (1997), 368. In my opinion, Hodges accepts too uncritically the outdated notion that individuals in antiquity suffered a sense of cosmic pessimism and enslavement; nevertheless, the article provides some interesting insights into the cosmology of a woefully neglected text.
Quite a citation! Very complex! Of course, I'd need to review my article to be sure that my argument is correctly summarized. Also, "Jeffrey" should be "Jeffery." And I wish I weren't named "Horace" - but that's not the fault of the writer.

UPDATE: Nicola F. Denzey also goes by Nicola Denzey Lewis, which I ought to have noted before since her book was published under that name.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Terrorist as non-state actor?

Adam Garfinkle

Way back on September 20, 2002, Adam Garfinkle reflected on "What Our Children Should Learn About 9/11/2001" (Foreign Policy Research Institute), and among other things, he put forward this generally accepted point:
A pertinent example: Those who shun moral judgment often say that "terrorist" is a meaningless word because "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." But a terrorist can be defined with reasonable precision, as a non-state actor (i.e., an actor unaccountable, democratically or otherwise, to a larger community) who deliberately kills innocent civilians to advance a cause. Whatever the cause and however one feels about it, there is still nothing amiss with our children reaching the moral judgment that such behavior is always wrong.
In light of the Islamic State's existence, can we still define terrorists as non-state actors? Reality is in constant flux, as Heraclitus would often note, so our definitions necessarily change over time. That would seem to have be the case in this example, because the IS has sent jihadists to Europe to attack whatever they can.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Gerard Wiegers cites me on Don Quixote's mole . . .

Some readers may recall that I published an article a couple of years ago on Don Quixote's mole - a birthmark, I mean, not the furry little earth tunneler. Anyway, I discovered yesterday that the scholar Gerard Wiegers, professor at the University of Amsterdam, cites me on this mole:
[It] can be confirmed that Cervantes read the Verdadera Historia, as is evident from part 1, chapter 30 of the Quixote, in which we are told that Don Quixote's identity and valor depend on a mole on his right side under the left shoulder. Horace Jeffery Hodges saw that this passage was very similar to a passage in the Verdadera Historia, in which a prophecy is discussed, which states:
that the Christians were to lose that land, and that it was to be conquered by the Moors: it said farther, that the Captain that was to gain it, was to be valorous and strong; and for a proof of the knowledge of him, he was to have a hairy mole as large as a garvanzo, or vetch, over the shoulder of his right hand. On conclusion of these words by that woman, the Tariff was much pleased, and before all his retinue stripped himself, and having carefully looked, they found the mole as the woman had said.
Wiegers, for his part, cites me on pages 159-160 of his article in a book titled The Conversos and Moriscos in Late Medieval Spain and Beyond, Volume 3, Displaced Persons (2015). The article is titled "The Granada Lead Books Translator Miguel de Luna as a Model for both the Toledan Morisco Translator and the Arab Historian Cidi Hamete Benengeli in Cervantes' Don Quijote."

Getting cited for good scholarship is satisfying in a way that being cited by police is not, so to speak (with tongue in cheek).


Saturday, September 10, 2016

I'll never think of shampoo the same way again . . .

Your Friendly Lactobacillus
The Spectator

Kate Womersley (The Spectator, August 27, 2016) asks if we "Want to feel better?" but answers her own question: "Be kind to your bugs." Excellent advice. How?
Laboratories are working to engineer precise faecal mixtures, or 'sham-poos' if you will, to further develop the promising results clinicians have seen when treating the hospital superbug Clostridium difficile by bacterial exchange.
Fecal mixtures? Really? Applied how? Bacterial exchange? I don't liked the way this is headed . . . nor where this will likely end up!


Friday, September 09, 2016

Delingpole on the Virtue of Clarity in Poetry

In the article "What you learn when you learn a poem by heart," (The Spectator, September 10, 2016), James Delingpole tells us that, "Like the writer [of the poem], you're compelled to weigh each word" and thereby clarify the poem for yourself, which is a good thing . . . except:
Alan Bennett . . . has a . . . sophisticated take on this [issue of clarity] in . . . . a 1990 Channel 4 series called Poetry In Motion and I urge you to track down a copy, because his aperçus are quite brilliant. He writes: 'An artist can be diminished by his virtues and one of [John] Betjeman's virtues is clarity. However much the reader welcomes clarity, some of the most memorable moments in poetry occur when it isn't clear what the poet is talking about. Auden has many such moments, but Betjeman never, because he is always sure, and that's the penalty of being lucid.'
Exactly! A perfectly lucid aperçu!


Thursday, September 08, 2016

Comets have air?


Some readers may remember the space probe Philae, which was sent to land on Comet 67P. It malfunctioned and lost contact for a while, then re-established contact before finally shutting down for good. Thanks to photos by Europe's Rosetta spacecraft (of which Philae is the lander), we can now see what happened. According to AFP - in an article titled "Hello Earth! Can you see me? Rosetta spots crashed Philae in comet ditch" (The Japan Times, September 6, 2016) - we are told that upon landing, Philae bounced several times and finally stopped upside down:
The agency released a photo of the washing machine-sized robot lab on the comet's rough surface, one of its three legs thrust dramatically into the air . . . . "Philae is at the foot of a cliff in an extremely rocky zone" of the comet, Rosetta project chief Philippe Gaudon of France's CNES space agency told AFP, after examining the picture. It is now clear that after bouncing, Philae landed the wrong-way up, "with one foot well in the air and its antennas pointing . . . groundwards," he said. That is why communicating with Philae had been so difficult.
Comets have air? Surely not! The article states this twice, but surely doesn't literally mean it. Unless comets have 'atmosphere' - and maybe they do! The photo above reveals that Comet 67P is a helluva rockin place!


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Proof of INYT Editing Fail

Just in case anyone doubted my accuracy, or even my veracity, here's a photo to back up yesterday's blogpost on the egregious typo of "On" for "One"!


Tuesday, September 06, 2016

INYT Editing Fail: "On puzzle of the world"?

Andy Warhol

What's the word coming to? I mean the edited word! Here is the first sentence of Nicholas Kristof's recent column for the NYT, "What religion would Jesus belong to?" (September 5, 2016):
On puzzle of the world is that religions often don't resemble their founders.
What?! "On puzzle"? "ON puzzle"?! "ON"??!! Surely, this should be "One puzzle . . ." Such a typo as this one, so to speak - the first word in the column - should have been easily caught.

This error can be found in the hardcopy of the International New York Times that comes delivered with the JoongAng Daily in Korea, so your copy might have the correct word, "One." If so, you'll just have to trust me that my copy has "on.".

Any other readers have a copy with "on"?


Monday, September 05, 2016

"stiletto clad legs"?

By Artist Angela China
("China" pronounced "key-nah")
aka "GumShoe"
Castle Fitzjohns

I received an email from Castle Fitzjohns Gallery yesterday with the images above and the message below:
Angela China known as "GumShoe" has become infamous for her stiletto clad legs which can be seen as landmark murals in New York, Miami, LA and Seattle. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and major art fairs across the US and in Europe.

The three prints are editions of 50, signed and numbered, 18" x 24". From left to right, "Shoes", "Meat Packing" and "Christina".

Simply reply to this email with your address with your choice, we'll send you a paypal invoice and ship to you within a few days.
I wasn't interested in ordering any prints, but I did wonder about this phrase:
stiletto clad legs
Shouldn't that be this:
stiletto shod feet
I therefore sent back a note of inquiry, and this gallery - which had contacted me at my Gmail address - rejected my note as spam:
This message has been rejected due to content judged to be spam by the internet community IB212.
That was annoying, so I'm responding with this blogpost retort: Castle Fitzjohns Gallery sends me an unsolicited email, but treats my reply as spam?

A simple "Thanks" would have sufficed.


Sunday, September 04, 2016

Harry Ritchie Follows Wolfe in Dissing Chomsky (But Disses Wolfe, Too)

Harry Ritchie
Google Images

The Scottish writer and journalist Harry Ritchie - tongue lodged firmly in cheek - writes, "Aged 85, Tom Wolfe discovers the key to human progress" (The Spectator, August 27, 2016). Ritchie thinks little of Wolfe's 'discovery' . . . but he does like the way Wolfe deals with Chomsky, as we shall see after some preliminary words on Darwin:
How on earth could language have evolved? Darwin's risible best guess was that we'd started off chirruping in imitation of birdsong. His failure to explain language bequeathed an aeon of medieval ignorance - that is Darwin's real legacy, according to Wolfe - a period longer than the Dark Ages in which the origin of human language was a non-topic, erased from intellectual history.

That is, until the 1950s and the dramatic arrival of Noam Chomsky, linguistics' celebrity intellectual, who grabbed the subject by its lapels, slammed it up against a wall and told it that there was a new boss in town. Chomsky's revolutionary theory, which completely dominated linguistics for the next four decades, explained that human language had evolved, with a genetic mutation creating some sort of neural machinery that could process and acquire speech. Chomsky's "language acquisition device," gifted by evolutionary chance, was innate, encoded by our genes, embedded in our brains before birth. Individual languages differed in lots of superficial ways but they all had in common the deeper rules of a "universal grammar."

Wolfe is at his best when describing Chomsky's almost religiously cultish, charismatic hold over linguistics, his ability to swipe any critics or doubters aside. Actually, he didn’t have to do much swiping for a long time, since linguistics had eagerly handed over its wallet, watch and car keys and agreed to anything Chomsky said.
Was Chomsky really so dominant? I ask out of ignorance. I knew his daughter at Berkeley - we were even friends, if for only a semester. My life was in flux. Anyway, she seemed genuinely happy to meet someone who had heard of her father only as a linguist. I knew nothing of his political views. I therefore went to hear him lecture in Berkeley on US foreign policy in the Middle East, about which I also knew nothing, and I came away impressed by his ability to speak so very articulately and in such detail without notes. His daughter and I then spoke about his views. I mostly listened. She was a sincere, personally very kind soul. I liked her - Platonically, I mean - but we lost contact after that semester.

Be all that as it may, I can see how Chomsky might acquire a cultish following. He has impressive intellectual faculties, and he demonstrated, in the lecture I attended, an ability to field a broad range of questions, without hesitation, and offer answers in great detail. He had what I call the "charisma of reason" (not my coinage, of course) and could draw others to defer to him. When I read him nowadays, though, I find his arguments tendentious, his conclusions exaggerated, and his manner dismissive.

But back to Ritchie . . . for those interested in Ritchie's dissing of Wolfe, go to the article.

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Saturday, September 03, 2016

Mosques and churches side by side?

St. George’s Maronite Cathedral
Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in Beirut,
Photo by Tom Heneghan, September 13, 2012

An interesting article by Stephen Heyman, "Designing a New Future for Syria" (NYT, September 1, 2016), tells the story of how the conservative English thinker Roger Scruton came to be mentoring the architect Marwa al-Sabouni according to a plan for restoring Syria. In the course of the article, Heyman notes that in the past:
Mosques and churches sat side by side.
I often come across statements like this one in the course of reading about Muslim-Christian relations. The supposition is that Muslims and Christians can live side by side in peace - which of course they sometimes can - but I wonder if this is the salient point about mosques and churches being located side by side. More likely, I suspect, is that Islam was operating in an Islamist mode and insisting on its dominance by construction of mosques next to churches to keep an eye on Christians and remind them who's in charge.

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Friday, September 02, 2016

Chomsky Dissed by Wolfe?

Tom Wolfe
Google Images

In an AP article attributed to a certain Hillel Italie, "Tom Wolfe talks Darwin, Chomsky and human speech" (Washington Post, August 29, 2016), Noam Chomsky is reported as getting dissed by Tom Wolfe, and I was especially struck by Wolfe's dissenting analysis of Chomsky's rise to prominence:
"Chomsky's politics enhanced his reputation as a great linguist, and his reputation as a great linguist enhanced his reputation as a political solon, and his reputation as a political solon inflated his reputation from great linguist to an all-around genius, and the genius inflated the solon into a veritable Voltaire, and the veritable Voltaire inflated the genius of geniuses into a philosophical giant . . . Noam Chomsky."
This is an interesting analysis by Wolfe, but how do we know it's true? Did Chomsky's stature rise in this roundabout manner, each turn of this screwy path to would-be philosopher king resting upon nothing but the previous fateful twist?

But if Chomsky did rise in this fashion - and Wolfe should know fashion - then who can fill his bootstraps, a barren quest if ever there were one?


Thursday, September 01, 2016

A Fellow NoZe Brother Drops Me a Line . . .

Probably Not Brother KimoNoZe
Google Images

Long-time readers will recognize my occasional references to the NoZe Brotherhood, the underground satirical organization of those Baylor University students blessed with sufficient irony to publish a satirical student newspaper and brave enough to stage satirical events on campus.

Actually, we were just into silliness. But we keep in touch. Some of us are doing well. Others of us serve society's need for a bad example. No one is completely useless, you see. For instance, there is Brother KimoNoZe, who worked as one of the speechwriters for President George H. W. Bush. KimoNoZe surely fits one or the other 'tom' of this dichotomy.

I say all this because Brother KimoNoZe contacted me by email a couple of days ago explaining his absence at a recent NoZe get-together - I didn't make it either - and bringing me up to date on his activities, thereby reminding me of how quickly time passes . . . and the stinging truth of how fragile we are:
I couldn't make the NoZe shindig . . . had to cancel at the last minute for a surprise replacement of a defective heart valve . . . [I] would never have known about it if I hadn't gone for a couple of weeks of strenuous hiking in Utah and was symptomatic . . . . I left Pfizer about six years ago . . . went to work for Mike Milken in Santa Monica, . . .. . [who] devoted himself to medical and educational philanthropy when he got out of jail with a cancer death sentence and wanted to put his billions to work before he checked out, . . . [but] somehow he beat stage 4 and is going strong . . . . [I've] mostly written WSJ op-eds . . . . [T]hree years ago . . . a Japanese bank . . . tantalized me with . . . helping Japanese bankers communicate across cultures . . . . It is . . . the [least exciting]. . . work I've ever done.
I replied in my guise as Brother AgNoZetic:
I now realize that I had been informed - by the very you yourself - of your work for Milken. I see, also, that I should read the WSJ more often - good to know that you're finally writing fiction. I am, of course, relieved to hear that you have a heart - and that it has even been repaired! Sorry to hear that your current work is [so unexciting] . . . . At least, no robot can steal your job of helping Japanese bankers communicate across cultures - that sort of thing must be far too boring for robots to handle.
Brother KimoNoZe replied:
[I've] also written pieces for the NYT and the Washington Post, so I've dabbled as well in fantasy and magical realism.
I can't top that, so I didn't try.