Monthly Archives: August 2013

Interlude

I’ll take you through my dreams,
Out into the darkest morning,
Past the blood filled streams,
Into the garden of Jane Delawney …

— ‘In the Garden of Jane Delawney’, Trees, from The Garden of Jane Delawney, Columbia Records, 1970

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Amongst the Addled Addicts

“The modern cannot be evangelized; he is incapable of such a thing, at least incapable under his own power.”

— Proph, “The Modern Mind Cannot Be Evangelized,” The Orthosphere, 21st August, 2013.

Recently, I found myself writing, “your typical liberal is connotation addled,” and indeed he is. But, moreover, he is a connotation addict. He cannot attend to the denotation of a thing until he has fully given himself over to its connotation. In fact, its denotation scarcely holds any interest for him at all, so consumed is he with the exciting emotional surges brought about by the other.

How should one approach the liberal addict? One can hardly reason with an addict about their addiction. It’s the drug that talks, and the drug is less than disinterested.

An example: During a Facebook discussion of a talk by Columbia University’s Gayatri Spivak — a professor of literary studies, post-colonialism, or some such — at the Gramsci Monument in the Bronx, New York, a commenter chided her fellows for their use of the bland and joyless phrase, “non-intellectual civilians”. It was, she went on to state, suggestive of the notion that non-intellectuals are not intellectual. Which is of course wrong — which is to say, it suggests a sort of negative judgement against those who are not intellectuals, and therefore constitutes a discriminatory act on the part of the utterer, whose unknowing victims are the poor and needy ordinary folk, who, while not intellectuals, are nevertheless quite intellectual when it comes down to it.

Perhaps the phrase could be modified, to the satisfaction of our commenter — “intellectual non-intellectual civilians”? “neither intellectual nor non-intellectual civilians”? — perhaps (more likely), there is nothing that could achieve such ends. Whatever the case, this minute parsing of even the most toothless and dreary language for hostile intent occurred during a conversation between committed left-liberals. Trying to argue for some reactionary truth with such militant policers of discourse, people who are so hungry for negative connotation that hunt for it everywhere, is an all but impossible task. Better to take up an easier hobby, like calculus on manifolds, or solving the mind-body problem, than waste too much of one’s life on right-wing political activism.

For A List of Banned Words

Football fans in England and Wales could be prosecuted for homophobic abuse and banned from going to matches for three years.

The Crown Prosecution Service is clamping down on discriminatory behaviour.

— “Football fans face three year ban for homophobic abuse,” Breaking News, 23rd August 2013.

A small step towards a more just and temperate society, to be sure. But why stop at football matches? And why stop at homophobia?

No one should have to listen to language that demeans women, gays or transsexuals, or expresses xenophobic or racist thoughts, be they at a football match, on the train, at work, or anywhere else in public.

In the privacy of your own home, you are, and should be, permitted to say whatever you like; elsewhere, you ought to conform to decent standards of behaviour, and that means, if it’s on the list of banned words, you’ll just have to find a different way to express your hatred of those less powerful than you.

Recipe for Success

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

— Mark Twain, Letter to Miss Foote, 2nd December, 1887.

Materialism

It is not things which trouble us, but the judgements we bring to bear upon things.

– Epictetus, The Enchiridion, c. 125

Live for the Day

The whole of the West no longer possesses the instincts out of which institutions grow, out of which a future grows: perhaps nothing antagonizes its ‘modern spirit’ so much. One lives for the day, one lives very fast, one lives very irresponsibly: precisely this is called ‘freedom’.

— Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Where is my voting

BBC advise: “Attempts to bring democracy to Egypt have run into trouble.”