Sunday, June 30, 2019

Jeff's Quips: Nr. 2

Jeff's Quip Nr. 2:

"Why say 'God forbid!' when something bad has already happened? Not even God can change the past!"


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Jeff's Quips: Nr. 1

Quip Nr. 1

"I don't know why we were called 'dirt poor.' We had plenty of dirt."


Friday, June 28, 2019

Academic Courtesy?

Exchange of Views Typical of Ms. Professor Fringemon:

Attendee to Lecture asks: "Does Gnosticism have any relation to ancient astrology?"

Ms. Professor Fringemon: "Not that I know of."

I say: "I can answer this question. Astrology is pervasive in Gnosticism."

Ms. Professor Fringemon later informs me: "Academic courtesy requires that one remain silent the first time one is invited to attend a research presentation."


Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Missing Scrap

Exchange of Views Typical of Ms. Professor Fringemon:

Ms. Professor Fringemon states: "I can't write you a recommendation."

I ask: "Why not?"

Ms. Professor Fringemon says: "I can't trust your work."

I ask: "Why not?"

Ms. Professor Fringemon explains: "Among the thousands of paper scraps with writing on them, you missed one. Luckily, the same writing was on another scrap, which you didn't miss, so I was able to access the material myself."


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

What do you mean by "left"?

This title seems to ask and answer a question:
What's Left of Enlightenment?: A Postmodern Question 
One could understand this title as asking what remains of the Enlightenment, now that we are postmodern. (Possible Answer: The question stated remains.)

Or one could understand it as asking what is politically to the left of the Enlightenment, now that we are postmodern. (Possible Answer: The question stated is politically to the left.)

Other possible readings: e.g.?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Women in Religion

Exchange of Views Typical of Ms. Professor Fringemon:

Having proofread Ms. Professor Fringemon's manuscript Women in Religion, I say: "You can strengthen your argument on this crucial point if you make these changes."

Ms. Professor Fringemon, astonished by my suggestion, stares at me in silence for a full three seconds, before finally saying: "Well . . . I guess you learned something from my book."


Monday, June 24, 2019

Postmodernism's Grand Narrative?

Implicit in the words of Lawrence E. Klein, as written in "Enlightenment as Conversation" (What's Left of Enlightenment?: A Postmodern Question, edited by Keith Michael Baker and Peter Hanns Reill), postmodernism has a grand narrative, albeit one grounded in Modernism (and, if I might add, in all previous grand narratives):
The [Modernist] posture [of the distanced observer seeking mastery over what he sees] is marked by the distance between observer and observed, who are separated by a kind of ontological gap; a hierarchical relation that privileges the political and intellectual authority of the observer; and the disembodied and decontextualized position of the observer, which gives rise to the claim to provide objective knowledge of universal validity. This scientistic posture is the signal comportment of the Enlightenment in postmodernism's grand narrative, as well as the signal legacy of the Enlightenment targeted by the postmodern critique.
Ontological gap? Anyway, this passage seems to say that Postmodernism critiques Enlightenment reason as a kind of scientism. But what is Postmodernism's own grand narrative? It doesn't have one? Hah! Don't make me laugh. I've long thought of its grand narrative as that ramshackle mash-up of all prior grand narratives, thereby telling the biggest grand-damn story of them all.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Still more from my Critic

My Critic critiques further:
Nationalism and fascism are flattened into a-cultural, a-historical, universal ideological or political manifestations (which, of course, they are not): where did Germany's NSDAP party start if not in particularly enculturated versions of a staunchly felt "nationalism"? As a culturally situated historical mode, Benét's nationalism must be more deeply critiqued and, I suggest, contrasted with anything roaming the old world (Europe) in a similar moment in history.
One can almost always critique an analysis for not going far enough, but I think that I do not commit the error attributed to me. Indeed, civic nationalism is contrasted with ethnic nationalism. And "Germany's . . . staunchly felt 'nationalism'" was an ethnic nationalism. Do I have to go back to Germany's loss in WWI and the experiences of a certain Austrian soldier as background? My concern is with Benét.

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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Wow! Some people really hate me!

In response to an old blogpost I wrote in 2006, Clayton Veno responds in 2019:
"The only one I see who is either lying or deceptive is YOU! Reil Zahn and Masers claim that the Orpheos Bakkikos is "forgery" was later refuted and debunked by Francesco Carlotta IN THIS PDF!"
Click the link at Clayton Veno for more on this, e.g., I'm a deceptive fraud, etc.


Friday, June 21, 2019

My Critic's Fou-Scaldian Gaze

My Critic thinks that one wonders what Foucault might have to say:
One wonders what Foucault might have to say in terms of those privileging and legitimizing power/knowledge discourses which systemically erase the other as part of a process of social codification (the process imparting erasure as equally as anything parlayed by a so-called "ethnic nationalism").
One wonders? Really? One actually wonders what Foucault might say about anything? I think we already know everything he might have said. Look at what he said about what some scholars have called an 'Islamofascist' revolution. You can easily find it and his remarks on it somewhere on the internet. I guess some erasures are better than others.

Actually, some are. Better the bad guys get erased.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

My Critic again . . .

My Critic refers to "a so-called 'ethnic nationalism,'" as if he'd never heard the expression - note the scare quotes and the words "so-called" - but he then turns about and claims I've gleaned both ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism from an encyclopedia, as if I were too stupid to know such things already and on my own.

The downside to all this is in being treated like an idiot. The upside is that everyone can see who the real idiot is.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Life Goes On . . .

My mother and I haven't always understood each other so well, but we had the simplest of exchanges one time not long ago. We had just finished a rambling conversation about the bad old times with her and my father. A definite pause followed before I spoke again, and I said:
"Life goes on."
To which my mother replied:
"It really does."
And that simple interchange of views seemed somehow to summon up a universe deep with meaning that we both implicitly understood, so we said no more.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Municipal Root

Looking into the etymology of words is always fun, and since I'm stuck with munus, I wondered if "municipal" were linked, and here's what I found:
The second element is -cipere, combining form of capere "assume, take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." The first element is from munus (plural munia) "service performed for the community, duty, work," also "public spectacle paid for by the magistrate, (gladiatorial) entertainment, gift," from Old Latin moenus "service, duty, burden," from Proto-Italic *moini-, *moinos- "duty, obligation, task," from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move," with derivatives referring to the exchange of goods and functions or obligations within a society as regulated by custom or law.
This could go on and on, but my central point is established: an analysis of munus was not necessary to my distinction between ethnic and civic nationalism. My critic advanced the point just to show how smart and well-read he is.


Monday, June 17, 2019

Munus Defined

The Oxford Classical Dictionary defines munus: "Munus, a gift or service, given or rendered freely (a lover's gift, or the gifts of gods to men) or, more commonly, out of a sense of duty (burial of the dead, sacrifices, or funeral games)."

Hmm . . . yeah, I guess I can see how this munus concept would be really helpful in distinguishing between civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism. Well, actually, I can't.

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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.


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.


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 . . .


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 . . .


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 . . .


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


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 . . .