Friday, August 10, 2012

Obama: Postmodern, Post-Literate, Post-Reality

This is timely: a WSJ editorial on our first Postmodern President. Yes, ideas have consequences, but so too do anti-ideas such as postmodernism.

Similarly, communism and fascism were and are anti-ideas bearing no (truth) relationship to reality. But this hardly renders them any less destructive. Rather, most of our really serious problems are a consequence of the rigorous application of anti-ideas by anti-intellectuals.

The anti-idea is not the same as a mere bad idea, just as the anti-intellectual can be quite intelligent, brilliant even. Everyone has bad ideas, and life consists in either honing one's ideas or establishing more effective ones.

The anti-idea, however, is purely reactionary, in that it is always rooted in a hostile rejection of, and attack upon, reality. In short, instead of being a tool to understand reality, the purpose of the anti-idea is to omnisciently vanquish reality and replace it with an ideology.

The anti-idea is usually held unconsciously and for unconscious reasons, which makes it all the more difficult to detect and eradicate. Right now tenurmites could very well be eating away at the foundation of your intellectual edifice, but you won't know unless you check.

Bad ideas are subject to testing and rejection, whereas anti-ideas are like conspiracy theories, in that no amount of evidence can refudiate them.

Rather, the mind of the conspiracy theorist operates exactly like that of the paranoid, in that contradictory evidence is converted to evidence of the conspiracy. If you disagree with a paranoid, he finds a way to either include you in the conspiracy, or else will roll his eyes and dismiss you as hopelessly naive, as in Don't you know that anyone who disagrees with AGW is bought and paid for by the oil companies?

On to the editorial, after which we'll try to weave it all into Foucault, Sartre, Derrida, Nietzsche, and ultimately back to Voegelin. This will be like making grand rounds in a vast mental hospital, so I don't know how far we'll get today.

"President Obama spent his formative years in academia, so he's no doubt familiar with postmodernism, the literary theory that rejects objective reality and insists instead that everything is a matter of interpretation and relative 'truth.' At any rate he's running the first postmodern Presidential campaign, now organized almost exclusively around allegations about his opponent that bear no relation to the observable universe."

Thus, in the anti-world of the Obama campaign, "Mr. Romney is to blame because of decisions he didn't make at a business he didn't run that may or may not have set in train a series of random unconnected events many years apart that included Ilyona Soptic's illness. Even more culpable is the butterfly in Peking that flapped its wings and forever altered the course of history."

Likewise, for Nancy Pelosi it is a fact that Romney didn't pay taxes for ten years. Why? Because the well-known pedophile Harry Reid "made a statement that is true. Somebody told him. It is a fact." Pelosi gives tautology a bad name.

In other words, Reid asserted "with zero proof that Mr. Romney got away with paying no taxes for a decade, which is 'true' because he says an anonymous investor called to say so. If the food inspectors ever went by Reid-Pelosi evidentiary standards, we'd all be dead." (That last line is a gag, but note again that the rigorous application of such an anti-idea does lead to death and destruction.)

The bottom lyin' is that instead of tryin' to persuade anyone to vote for him based upon his own record, Obama is simply inventing an alternate reality. But this is what postmodernism "does." If you are, say, a greedy feminist who wants more money and power to which you are not entitled, you invent the myth that women are paid sixty cents to the dollar in comparison to men. It never seems to occur to them that if this were true, it would be insane for a greedy corporation to ever hire a man.

We need to waste a little more time discussing the theories of postmodernism, lest you be tempted to think I'm merely exaggerating or being uncharitable. For one thing, I know I'm not being uncharitable because I once believed these sorts of things.

"Believed," however, is probably too strong a word. Rather, I simply assumilated them in the course of four -- okay, eight -- years of college and seven years of graduate school. In Kimball's phrase, they were simply part of the "ambient pollution" of academia.

As a result, I never really reflected upon them, since they were the context of everything else. Instead of reflecting on them, I simply burrowed more deeply into them -- somewhat analogous to how a fly lays its eggs in a big pile of dogshit.

Once you accept this context, then the most outlandish pile of steaming academic braindroppings becomes plausible.

In his discussion of Derrida, Kimball reminds us that his ur-idea is that "there is nothing outside the text." This is a fine example of a LIE, which, if assimilated, ends in the destruction of reality: psychic, spiritual, and physical. For the phrase is "shorthand for denying that words can refer to a reality beyond words, for denying that truth has its measure in something beyond the web of our language games." In this defective way of looking at the world, there is no objective reality, just the endless play of signifiers.

One of the seductive things about this mental pathology is that it is half-true even though all false. As we have been discussing vis-a-vis Voegelin, man indeed lives in the "in between" space where meaning is constantly being discovered and sometimes tossed aside. Within this space we are oriented to truth, which provides both its ground and telos. The deconstructionist simply tosses aside the ground but preserves the search.

But what is a passionate search with no possible object or destination? Yes, you could call it insanity.

Like any other insanity, deconstruction "is an evasion of reality." For the same reason, it is "a reactionary force," because "it hides from rather than engages with reality" (Kimball). But again, the evasion is never benign, because there is always an implicit attack "on the cogency of language and the moral and intellectual claims that language has codified in tradition" (ibid).

Once one is freed from language, one is also emancipated from the rigors and demands of truth, reality, and virtue. It's more than a little like being Adam in the Garden, but imagining that the outcome will be different, because this time Adam is prepared to smite God with the Molotov crocktale of deconstruction.

Let's wrap up our little discussion of Foucault. What is personally interesting about Kimball's review of The Passion of Michel Foucault is that I actually read the book when it came out in 1993.

At the time, I was still in the clutches of the tenured, still breathing the polluted air of academia. Being that Foucault was so famous and so acclaimed, I just assumed that he was important and that I needed to understand this brilliant man. Indeed, Miller describes him as "perhaps the single most famous intellectual in the world." As such, it would be an anti-intellectual faux pas to ignore him.

I don't know if I still have the book. I may have inflicted it upon the library. Let me nose around the Closet of Forbidden Works, where the ghosts of oldbob are hiding.

Nah, can't find it. Which is too bad, because I wanted to see what sorts of things he highlighted, which would have been a kind of snarchaeological dig into the ruins of my former belief system. It would have also answered the riddle, when is a highlight a lowlight?

Remember what we were saying the other day about the need to find one's "idiom" in order to articulate and elaborate the self? Well, Foucault believed just the opposite: he kept the idiom but threw out the self (again, there is only the free-floating text that refers to nothing outside itself): "I am no doubt not the only one who writes in order to have no face. Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same..." (Foucault, in Kimball).

Okay. But why should I read you if you are nobody writing about nothing?

You know the left-wing cliche that everything is about power? Foucault seems to be the one who put it into heavy circulation, for "He came bearing the bad news in bad prose that every institution, no matter how benign it seems, is 'really' a scene of unspeakable domination and subjugation..." (Kimball).

This is how feminists came up with the idea that being married or being a housewife is "oppressive," or how the Jesse Jacksons of the world came up with their conspiracy theory of "institutional racism," or how California should really be a part of Mexico, or how AGW skeptics are tools of the oil companies, etc.

For someone who saw malevolent powers under every bed, Foucault sure seems to have been a sucker for malevolent power, so long as it was on the left: "He championed various extreme forms of Marxism, including Maoism; he supported the Ayatollah Khomeini," and wondered "What could politics mean when it is a question of choosing between Stalin's USSR and Truman's America?" (ibid).

What indeed. Just flip a coin, I guess, since oppression is oppression.

A key principle here is the difference between (n) and what we will call (-n). (n) is an empty symbol I use as a placemarker for experiential spiritual knowledge. But there is also invalid spiritual experience, or pseudo-spiritual experience that is sought by people who have rejected the reality of the spiritual.

As it so happens, Foucault was all about this specific form of experiential knowledge. Kimball suspects that this was a big part of his appeal as an "academic guru," and I believe this is quite correct. Certainly this is the sort of thing that appealed to me back in the daze of oldbob. I went in for all that counter-cultural stuff: Leary, Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), Watts, McKenna, anyone who seemed way out there but also seemed clever and witty about it.

For Foucault, man's future was being revealed to us via "the recent experiences with drugs, sex, communes, other forms of consciousness and other forms of individuality. If scientific socialism emerged from the utopias of the nineteenth century, it is possible that real socialization will emerge in the 20th century from experiences" (in Kimball).

Which only proves that no amount of (-n) leads to O, and the attempt merely leaves one jaded, burned out, cynical, and bereft of any saving innocence; for such a person has simultaneously seen nothing and too much.


Blogger mushroom said...

In his discussion of Derrida, Kimball reminds us that his ur-idea is that "there is nothing outside the text."

I'm having trouble with this. We know the text isn't reality, so that means the text is the only reality? I think I always blacked out before I got to this point.

8/10/2012 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's what it means. Words don't point to anything other than words. In which case, we are locked into total solipsism.

8/10/2012 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The deconstructionist simply tosses aside the ground but preserves the search.

This doesn't even rise to the wisdom of looking under the streetlight for the keys because the light it better than in the alley where they were dropped. This sounds more like: we don't need the keys, they don't really exist, but I can get tenure by publishing a book about looking for them.

In the bathhouse.

8/10/2012 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Sorry to keep picking this little stuff out, but it's such a strange world, I don't know how to grasp it otherwise.

8/10/2012 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I never read much of the academic stuff. Too many big words, probably. But good old Ram Dass and especially Watts, I thought were interesting. My thing has always been history or literature rather than philosophy. I learn a lot here.

8/10/2012 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

You know the left-wing cliche that everything is about power?

I'm reminded of the commenter we had, many years back, who was jaded on marriage because he(?) believed relationships were all about a power struggle; it wasn't a partnership between male and female, but rather a contest to see who would be in control at any given moment.

What's sad, small world one must inhabit to see everything in terms of power. Have such people never engaged in a mutually beneficial activity? And if that's really what they believe, every encounter with another human being must seem like a test to determine who is alpha and who omega. What an exhausting way to live.

Of course, it makes sense that Foucault saw the world that way; all his perversions were based on dominance, not love, nor truth nor beauty.

8/10/2012 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Mushroom: Yes, at least Watts had enough insight and wit to playfully refer to himself as a "genuine fake."

8/10/2012 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

One of the appeals of deconstruction is that anyone can engage in it after learning the lingo. Thus, any academic mediocrity can deconstruct in ten minutes what it took centuries to construct.

8/10/2012 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

All of us are flawed, but it seems like it takes perversion to the extreme, of one stripe or more, to rise to the level of hero to the left. God save us.

8/10/2012 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Foucault was a Godforsaken homo & postmodern type who probably even liked that sissy Warhol... He did!:

This is the greatness of Warhol with his canned foods, senseless accidents, and advertising smiles: the oral and nutritional equivalence of those half-open lips, teeth, tomato sauce, that hygiene based on detergents; the equivalence of death in the cavity of an eviscerated car, at the top of a telephone pole and at the end of a wire, and between the glistening steel blue arms of the electric chair. “It’s the same either way,” stupidity says, while sinking into itself and infinitely extending its nature with the things it says of itself; “Here or there, it’s always the same thing; what difference if the colors vary, if they’re darker or lighter. It’s all so senseless—life, women, death! How ridiculous, this stupidity!” But in, concentrating on this boundless monotony, we find the sudden illumination of multiplicity itself—with nothing at its center, at its highest point, or beyond it—a flickering of light that travels even faster than the eyes and successively lights up the moving labels and the captive snapshots that refer to each other to eternity, without ever saying anything; suddenly, arising from the background of the old inertia of equivalences, the striped form of the event tears through the darkness, and the eternal phantasm informs that soup can, that singular and depthless face.

8/10/2012 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Rather, the mind of the conspiracy theorist operates exactly like that of the paranoid, in that contradictory evidence is converted to evidence of the conspiracy. If you disagree with a paranoid, he finds a way to either include you in the conspiracy, or else will roll his eyes and dismiss you as hopelessly naive, as in Don't you know that anyone who disagrees with AGW is bought and paid for by the oil companies?"

Speaking of which, where's my big oil check?
I'm not gonna continue talkin' about Reality for free!
Do you hear me Big Oil?

I can see why the left and other conspiracy theorists prefer the anti-idea/anti-reality mentality.

It requires no rationality or reason (so it's great for lazy, anti-idea-ers) and it's a win-win situation (or at least it appears that way to the conspiracy nuts).

That's why lefties won't debate in the same language on any specific topic.

Reality harshes their buzz. In fact, reality is all part of the conspiracy!

8/10/2012 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Ge, that MF got all that from a soup can? I'm confused. I thought words = words.

8/11/2012 04:35:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Guess Foucault had a thing for soup.

8/11/2012 04:53:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Julie, power indeed is all one is left with when truth, beauty, goodness, love have no value. That is the half-truth as well, since they have no precise value (infinite).
So, one may be convinced they are intangible. First in small ways.
I'm reading The Gulag Archipelago for the first time. Don't know how I never heard about it. The author discusses early on about the question of how does one explain or account for the evildoer? How did they find so many people willing to treat their fellow man with such cruelty. He describes how those with no power (education, intellect, money) were given power (or assigned it) slowly, incrementally, over the others. It seemed especially important that the victim was innocent. It was intoxicating. A word Tomberg spent some time on. Makes me wonder who read who.

8/11/2012 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

sounds great!!
a Pisces & an Aquarian [like Palin/Reagan]....
shades of Kerouac-Cassady?

8/11/2012 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

Palin/Reagan both Aquarians
Jack The Fish--Neal the Waterbearer

8/11/2012 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Rick, I've never read that one but have been meaning to for a while now. Thanks for the reminder. I'm watching a show about trucks with the boy this morning, and was just struck again by the effects of political correctness in the naming of things. In this case, a "garbage truck" becomes a "waste removal vehicle." I suppose the thinking is that there is more human dignity the more syllables one uses to describe (or rather disguise) something unpleasant. All it really does, though, is make it more difficult to think about (much less discuss) something that should be very simple and straightforward.

As to power and cruelty, unfortunately I think that for a great many humans, that's a default setting that must be overcome in the course of one's life. Further, it is all too common for the former victim to become the victimizer - again, a default for most people. Which sheds a disturbing light on all the movements designed to "empower" designated victim groups.

The idea of helping the helpless is quite revolutionary; I suspect it is only as prevalent as it is in the West because of a certain cosmic depth charge that went off a couple of thousand years ago...

8/11/2012 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"empower", excellent point.
I'm reading the abridged version, that the author has authorized, and it is still 500 pages.
He is a powerful writer, speaking of power, the other kind, related to speaking with (genuine) authority. I believe that was a card in MOTT. He sounds sometimes like a biblical author. Or like a Schuon. Or as if an Orwell "lived out".
What was surprising early in the book was how easily people were arrested. And at the same time not surprising, by how you could so easily identify with the reactions of the one being arrested.

8/11/2012 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Ge, I like how on Drudge, underneath the Ryan headlines, he puts, "Iran struck by quake"

8/11/2012 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Speaking of "depth charge"...

8/11/2012 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos, the fruits of "empowerment".

8/11/2012 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Julie -- Funny, what you said about "waste removal vehicles" is one of the first things that marked my evolution from left to right. I was writing a paper in which I pointed out how people come up with new words when the old word becomes too saturated with a reality they don't like. The new word is free of the old connotation until reality catches up, and then they have to change the word again.

Then it dawned on me: "Oops! I just had a conservative thought."

In my own field, patients changed to clients and now "consumers of mental health services." It's why liberals had to be renamed "progressives," why global warming had to be rechristened "climate change," why taxes are investments, sex is gender, negro is black is African-American, actress is actor, conformity is diversity, discrimination is affirmative action, and why, as Kimball mentions, certain words are altogether eliminated, such as disinterested, manly, respectable, and virtuous.

8/11/2012 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Now that I think about it, I am still hindered at times because of the way the left has successfully saturated certain words with a whiff of malevolence. I still feel somewhat uncomfortable telling someone point black that I am a conservative, because I know full well what this word will conjure in their mind. Likewise words like pro-life, corporation, military, Boy Scout, even Christianity, Catholic, Jesus, etc. (plus a lot of others I can't think of at the moment). Because I was just a lad in the 1960s, I assimilated all of the negative connotations that were just part of youth/pop culture.

8/11/2012 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

When you think about it, you see that in order to be successful at the polls, the left must poison the linguistic landscape as Obama is so blatantly doing. Every word starts to look like one of those seagulls caught in an oil spill. They are trying to make Romney veritably drip with black goo. Glad Romney picked Ryan, because he will be good at throwing the goo right back at them.

8/11/2012 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

The half-true "fetus" for "baby" in the womb

8/11/2012 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Yeah, but he's no match for Sherrif Joe.

8/11/2012 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Interesting -- one of the PowerLine guys thinks Ryan is a poor choice because he will be too limited by adult speech. He will be continuously baited by the infantile, poop-throwing left. It's only been a couple of hours, but I'll bet he's already been accused of murdering granny.

8/11/2012 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Bob @ 8:55,
Good points, especially about identifying oneself as anything with a whiff of conservatism or Christianity. Not for nothing do people refer to conservatives in Hollywood as being in the closet. Meanwhile, any description that was originally intended to portray something as transgressive or abnormal is now to be celebrated, and of course the more euphemistically one can be described, the "better." For instance, in San Francisco if it doesn't require a dissertation to describe your sexual preference - and especially if that preference is boringly heterosexual - the implication is that there's something wrong with you. Meanwhile the gender-queer sis-gay pansexual fudge packer - er, "top" is a celebrity with a reality show and an entire network devoted specifically to elevating its lifestyle to something worthy of emulation.

8/11/2012 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

This Newsweak headline is barf-worthy chock-fulla lies/evil:

Romney’s Overseas Trip: The Real Toll
by Peter Beinart

Voters won’t remember the disastrous details of Romney’s overseas jaunt but they’ll remember that it didn’t go well, and that’s the real damage.


8/11/2012 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the media create an alternate reality, and then pretend to thoughtfully wring their hands over the reality they have created.

8/11/2012 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I say let them try.

8/11/2012 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

As to Ryan, my only concern is that people are getting excited about the guy who isn't running for president. If he's that great, why isn't he the nominee and Romney the veep? Maybe I'm just a little gunshy after Palin, when the campaign suddenly became Obama vs. Palin instead of Obama vs. McCain. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that having the stronger/ more dynamic contender in the weaker position is a tactical error. Nobody would make the mistake of pitting Romney against Biden, after all.

That said, there seems to be a lot to like about Ryan. I hope it works well.

8/11/2012 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

For a platform of poop is nothing to vote "for".

8/11/2012 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speak for yourself. There are millions of intellectual coprophagiacs.

8/11/2012 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Gunshy is good.
I look at the selection as a good sign of Romney's seriousness.

8/11/2012 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I was thunking of independents and yoots.

8/11/2012 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Youth vote" instead of immature, unwise, inexperienced, herd-like, and impressionable vote.

8/11/2012 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Independent" instead of muddled, clueless, unprincipled, malleable, and shallow.

8/11/2012 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Is he weaker? Or just letting his good decision "show". From a business perspective, it looks like a value-adder, rather than to make up for some other weakness.

8/11/2012 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Hey, the credit for yoots goes to my cousin Vinny.

8/11/2012 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Perhaps the sharp contrast with the always substantive Ryan will refocus the debate and show the left's poop-flinging strategy for what it is.

8/11/2012 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Is doesn't take an Einstein to know that poop only goes so far.

On the other hand, like the good work Ace is doing to Reid. Timing is everything.

8/11/2012 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That would be good. Of course, for a certain subset of humanity the poop-flinging is the draw...

8/11/2012 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There's always the danger that going up against Biden the Clown will be like Einstein going up against Jerry Lewis or Adam Sandler, with the food fight ending in a draw.

8/11/2012 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I am reminded of an art exhibit Roger Kimball attended, which consisted of "oral sex and exchanging excrement with a bound and gagged classmate." Art reviewers at the time characterized it as "cutting edge," "venerable," and "part of a long and rich tradition."

8/11/2012 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'll give it cutting edge, with the caveat that reality has two edges.

8/11/2012 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"The anti-idea, however, is purely reactionary, in that it is always rooted in a hostile rejection of, and attack upon, reality. In short, instead of being a tool to understand reality, the purpose of the anti-idea is to omnisciently vanquish reality and replace it with an ideology."

Yep. It is the method of opposing reality, it is the passive aggressive rejection of Reality and Truth, for what you really wish was true instead.

"For someone who saw malevolent powers under every bed, Foucault sure seems to have been a sucker for malevolent power, so long as it was on the left: "He championed various extreme forms of Marxism, including Maoism; he supported the Ayatollah Khomeini," and wondered "What could politics mean when it is a question of choosing between Stalin's USSR and Truman's America?""

Remember the magician who tried to make the Statue of Liberty dissappear?

What a piker. Leftist anti-ideas have the power to conceal all of reality, and present you with nothing, in place of something, as The One thing.

It's a simple trick though, if you keep an I on their mis-directions: To find your way to ProRegressive Utopia, simply exit Reality, go down the path of good intentions, and at the last temple on the left, bow down and pray at 'The Temple of the Butthole', and prepare your X for the stigmata of power.

8/11/2012 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

You know for a comedian, Biden's not that funny.
After 4 years.
Ryan seems normal in that I bet he recognizes real comedy.

8/11/2012 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

True. Biden's act would be funnier if he weren't a Heartbeat Away.

8/11/2012 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm suddenly very thankful for the comparatively conservative art school I attended...

As to Biden the Clown, I'm suddenly reminded of Sideshow Bon running for office. But at least he wasn't running for orifice.

8/11/2012 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Ditto. I often feel we escaped in the nick of time.

8/11/2012 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thought experiment: Why was Biden selected vs why was Ryan? Was Biden selected to appeal to the left or the right?

8/11/2012 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The downside.

8/11/2012 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He's such an unrefined clod, maybe it was to add a proletarian flavor to the smooth sheen of His Eliteness.

8/11/2012 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Romney Ryan - RR - The Rolls Royce of presidential tickets.

Julie raises a valid concern regarding Ryan being the more compelling candidate from the VP position similar to McCain/Palin. But I think there are a couple (potentially) game-changing differences between 2008 and 2012 with reference to the VP role leading up to the election:
1. McCain disastrously decided early on to run a genteel race where attacking was not allowed. That hamstrung Palin's aggresiveness - a barricuda is just a fish if it can't attack. Romney seems to be willing to get down and muck it up when necessary and will hopefully allow Ryan to be Ryan.
2. Palin was not ready for the cheap shots which allowed the MSM to charicature her as stupid early on in the race from which she never recovered. Ryan will never be charicatured as stupid and already knows the Washington game.
3. Many think, including me, that the momentum turned by McCain's reaction to the financial crisis. Obam's inaction (a harbinger) was portrayed in the MSM as more presidential and the GOP ticket never had a chance after that. Hopefully Romney handles whatever October surprise that is sure to come.

BTW - it still makes me laugh when I think of the reason Obama chose Biden ... and then I want to cry when I remember that that petulant excuse for an adult is running and ruining our country.

8/11/2012 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Or to soften the scary sounding "change" to some large portion of the small crowd or some small portion of everyone else.
You can fool some of the people..
I'm wondering if what did work in 2008, and what didn't work in 2008, might be the opposite this time around.
Balanced of course with the human nature thing.

8/11/2012 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

ER, our comments overlap in more ways than one..

8/11/2012 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It starts. "Hand Over the" Candy Crowley: Ryan Pick is a Death Wish.

8/11/2012 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

She isn't saying anything. She stops just short of saying something as if it "goes without saying".

8/11/2012 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Apophasis. New word I learned from Kimball.

8/11/2012 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

They need to make up their minds. It can't be a death wish if he wants to kill granny. Rather, it's a murder wish.

8/11/2012 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Rick, in that case I like the cut of your jib :-p

Who knows? But at least Ryan isn't some milquetoast mollycoddler and if the debate is ever allowed to get back to the real issues he is about the best guy in the GOP stable to understand and explain the conservative position.

8/11/2012 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

First ad. Typical right wing hate speech.

8/11/2012 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


8/11/2012 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

No kidding. I like the part where they whine about Ryan's budget; at least he has one. Remind me again, how many thousand days has it been since a budget has been approved by the current administration?

8/11/2012 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There is nothing the infantile hate more than boundaries.

8/11/2012 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

After reading the Paul and John at Powerline - if I understand their disapproval of the Ryan pick - it's that Ryan brings "only" an adult perspective to the conversation that will never be allowed to cover adult issues.

I think if the conversation doesn't get back to the real issues, then Romney loses. The Dems believe that too which is why they're focusing on personality.

To win, the GOP must fight the battle on their battlefield. Ryan is the best field general to win that battle.

8/11/2012 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Interesting. Kimball is the only person I know of other than me who obliviously predicts a landslide.

8/11/2012 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

I just watched my beautiful granddaughter take her first three steps (before plopping down on her padded bottom). The feelings that well up side me when I watch her smile and throw me a kiss are impossible for me to describe with mere words. I wonder what world she will inherit.

8/11/2012 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

She'll find out soon enough. Hold it off for as long as you can.

8/11/2012 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Apophatic: I used to know that word; could pick the definition out of multiple choice, presumably the adjectival form, ok looked it up, yup, yup yup...
hasnt this been mentioned here b4?
is a book i sold

8/11/2012 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Apophatic I knew. Apophasis is different: drawing attention to something by pretending not to.

8/11/2012 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Funny -- I didn't like that book either. A very tenured take on mystical language.

8/11/2012 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

my main education in 'que es el postmodernismo?' came via
this author~

give old Ihab a shot!

"What was postmodernism, and what is it still? I believe it is a revenant, the return of the irrepressible; every time we are rid of it, its ghost rises back. And like a ghost, it eludes definition. Certainly, I know less about postmodernism today than I did thirty years ago, when I began to write about it. This may be because postmodernism has changed, I have changed, the world has changed...."

8/12/2012 05:05:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...


I think that sums it up rather well.

8/12/2012 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

It is true, and if you follow the dots down far enough, it makes sense... of a sort. Perversion is, at root, exerting your power over the natural and true, pulling it not only away from the Good, but down. Down from spirit, down from principle, down from concept, down to the most visceral, perceptual level possible, and rebelling in the sub animalistic sensations of it and your power to do so.

And yes, God help us.

8/12/2012 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A reminder: no posting for a few days, so enjoy the slack from your daily enslackenment.

Speaking of which Kimball's Experiments on Reality includes a review Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis of Culture, which we have discussed on a number of occasions. Samples:

We require "a hiatus in which we can confront and reaffirm our humanity. That hiatus is leisure."

"Thus it is that leisure is both openness to reality and an affirmation of mystery..."

The assimilation of slack is truly a liberal and not servile art, for it is the "knowledge possessed of a gentleman."

It is "to affirm the value of uselessness, the preciousness of a dimension free from the realm of work."

"For Plato, for Aristotle, for Aquinas, we live most fully when we are most fully at leisure," which "is not idleness, but activity undertaken for its own sake." Nondoodling, as it were.

Work is the means, leisure the end. Which is another way of saying that the purpose of creation is the sabbath.

8/12/2012 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

No Soup For You!

(sorry, couldn't resist)

8/12/2012 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Yep, no rest for the anti.

8/12/2012 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

" Many think, including me, that the momentum turned by McCain's reaction to the financial crisis." Yep.

8/12/2012 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

The anti will be the default mode at all times, realty will be ignored or snickered at. If the narrative gets to the real issues, it'll mean that the left lost control and the media was overwhelmed by the alternative media.

As Brietbart would say, "#War!"

8/12/2012 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

As Obama would say, we all have an important decision to make in what should be a substantive debate about our competing visions for the country. In short, are you going to vote for him, or for a murderous, tax-dodging, dog-hating, misogynistic felon who wants to smother your grandma with a pillow?

The choice couldn't be more clear.

8/12/2012 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Rick said "I'm reading The Gulag Archipelago for the first time."

Rick, if you haven't read his Address to the West, at Harvard (1978), it's a must.

8/12/2012 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Geek question, do the replies made through a mobile's browser, only appear as replies to that comment, in a mobile browser?

Are there any PC browsers which show Comment & Reply together?

I now know that IE & Chrome don't.


8/12/2012 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thank you, Van. Yes, I read it, having found a short clip of it a week or so ago on some tumblr.
I don't know how I stumbled upon Gulag, but shortly after finding it, I kept seeing the author quoted everywhere.
Nonlocal attractors, angels and upside exclamation points can be persistent.

8/12/2012 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Was wondering that myself. I know on the safari browser on the iPhone it does not show them together when you have the browser in nonmobile mode. In mobile mode it does.

8/12/2012 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of hOly slack, I was just reading a couple weeks ago about the most boring people on earth: the Baining. Their secret? They don't believe in slack. Or much else but work, apparently.

8/12/2012 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

Bryan Ferry Mitt Romney Experience

8/12/2012 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Arghhh... forgot about the hiatus.

8/13/2012 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

What Van said.


8/13/2012 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

What Van said.


8/13/2012 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

That was an unintended 'you can say that again... and again.'

Also, while I'm here...

Bob said... "In which case, we are locked into total solipsism."

Maybe "total" is a key word. Maybe in two ways. Totalism/totalitarianism and totaled.

8/13/2012 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Modernism vs Postmodernism

Romanticism/Symbolism vs Pataphysics/Dadaism
Form (conjunctive, closed) vs Antiform (disjunctive, open)
Purpose vs Play
Design vs Chance
Hierarchy vs Anarchy
Mastery/Logos vs Exhaustion/Silence
Art Object / Finished Work vs Process/Performance/Happening
Distance vs Participation
Creation/Totalization vs Decreation/Deconstruction
Synthesis vs Antithesis
Presence vs Absence
Centering vs Dispersal
Genre/Boundary vs Text/Intertext
Semantics vs Rhetoric
Paradigm vs Syntagm
Hypotaxis vs Parataxis
Metaphor vs Metonymy
Selection vs Combination
Root/Depth vs Rhizome/Surface
Interpretation/Reading vs Against Interpretation / Misreading
Signified vs Signifier
Lisible (Readerly) vsScriptable (Writerly)
Narrative / Grande Histoire vs Anti-narrative / Petit Histoire
Master Code vs Idiolect
Symptom vs Desire
Type vs Mutant
Genital/Phallic vs Polymorphous/Androgynous
Paranoia vs Schizophrenia
Origin / Cause vs Difference-Difference / Trace
God the Father vs The Holy Ghost
Metaphysics vs Irony
Determinacy vs Indeterminacy
Transcendence vs Immanence

= I. Hassan's table of differences between modernism and postmodernism

8/13/2012 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

RE: word saturation, I try to do the opposite (etymology is useful here) - for instance the word 'Patient' along with the word 'Patience' have the same root ultimately as the word 'Passion' meaning 'suffering'. So a patient is a sufferer. That's so straightforward it doesn't need a revision and makes the person not described based on their choice 'to consume mental health services (omnomonomnom) but as a person who is suffering from something and thus (we would assume) receiving treatment in kind.

Most words work like this and you can simplify and thus in some way, empower your language by cutting the other way. It's kind of a reactionary way to go about it, but it does help you recover that 'Archaic Voice' without all of the late archaic ornamentation.

8/14/2012 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I also believe Romney/Ryan will win in a landslide.
I thought that before Ryan was selected but I think Ryan can only help Romney.

Just about every poll I have read is skewed democrat.
Just like they were when Reagan ran against Carter, and we all know how that turned out.

The average Joe and Jane are fed up with the status quo.

Every attack (tantrum) Obama and the donks have tried, thus far have backfired.

Every time Obama speaks he drips with condenscension and smugness.
People instinctively hate that.

The MSM has lost even more credibility and viewership/readers so their influence is severely damaged and constrained mostly to the hardcore left.

The new media has been highly effective in countering the lies of the old leftist guard.

The left is in full panic/tantrum mode right now and they show no signs of slowing down their self destruction.

Romney has done remarkably well and much better than I expected.
He's not gonna make any major mistakes, IMO.

Then there's the obvious: high unemployment, crippling govt. regs, an administration that's hostile to small businesses, high gas prices, inflation, a call for higher taxes by the left, no support for Obama's plans from the donks in the Senate, attacks on religious freedom and the First Ammendment, fallout from Obamascare, coverups, more corruption than Nixon and Clinton combined could shake a stick at, mass hysteria and blatant lies by the left, dogs and cats living together, etc., etc..

Yep. It's gonna be a rout by Romney and Ryan.

8/14/2012 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

BTW, not long after Obama was elected I recall Bob talking about how Obama would eventually have a meltdown, fall apart and get increasingly shrill, because most Americans still don't share Obama's fascist idiotology and he can't accept that reality of rejection.

There was more, and it's all coming to pass.
Obama simply cannot connect with most voters, particularly now that he has repeatedly demonstrated he is an empty suit with delusions of grandeur.

8/14/2012 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

The only true thing Dems can utter [but would never] is a mere 10 letters long: "We're f-cked..."

8/14/2012 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

By the way, some of those Bowden vids are really helpful. Particularly the one on Marxism and the Frankfurt School.

8/16/2012 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Speaking of disillusionment with Obama, here's some more anecdotes to add to the pile: Going to the Green Party

8/16/2012 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

RC, Glad to hear re Bowden. Somewhat relevantly to Bob's recents, Bowden put director H-J Syberberg back on my radar, and I'm over 1/2way through his postmodern [I think you could say] version of PARSIFAL [R. Wagner's last opera] + have his 'OUR HITLER a Film from Germany' to be seen on dvd. [youtube has just removed PARSIFAL due to copyright problem, dang!]

8/16/2012 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

For anyone still checking in, I'd like to make a request for prayers. My friend Linda, who has been a very occasional commenter here as Snoopmurph, has had (along with her family) an extremely difficult few months. One of those times where it seems like everything keeps going wronger. The biggest concern has been her health, and this week after yet another round of testing, a big growth was found on her thyroid. When she went in on Tuesday, the doctor actually told her she looked terrible.

Anyway, needless to say she's scared, and both she and her family are suffering not only because of her poor health, but also her inability to work. If you have a moment, I know that any prayers would be deeply appreciated.


8/16/2012 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Julie - Will do. Thanks for posting the request.

8/16/2012 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Prayers on the way...

8/16/2012 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

President Obama spent his formative years in academia, so he's no doubt familiar with postmodernism, the literary theory that rejects objective reality and insists instead that everything is a matter of interpretation and relative "truth." At any rate he's running the first postmodern Presidential campaign, now organized almost exclusively around allegations about his opponent that bear no relation to the observable universe...

ge sez: Puhleeze...Read Ihab Hassan or some other sources, that's kind of an insulting McDonalds-level definition. PostModernjism's a lot more rich & fruitful esthetic category and Obama is nowhere near its [nor 'Gnosis's!] level, in the terms' sweeter more positive definitions some would offer

8/16/2012 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

@ge to be fair, most everyone is Marxists these days, but pretty much McDonalds-level Marxists. From that standpoint we either can't call them postmodernists or marxists at all because its such a decrepit or reduced form of the idea, or we can admit that they fully embrace the thing, but on a kind shrink-wrap McDonalds level. I feel the latter is more correct, but you may differ.

8/17/2012 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Julie, so sorry to hear about your friend, and yes of course, will do.

8/17/2012 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

GE, postmodernism is a mode of rejecting reality by way of interpreting it into relative truths (rationalizations of, and for, power).

The fact that some might manage to use the literary theory in ways that are interesting (to some) doesn't change what it is.

8/17/2012 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

But it's not just a literary theory like the shallow WSJ article opined---it's a dance theory/category, an architectural theory/category, a music theory/category, a painting theory/category, a theatrical theory/category, a film theory/category, a cultural theory---sometimes in differing-'competing' ways.

and... What's the first postmodern novel? Many argue: the late 1700s' Tristram Shandy!

8/17/2012 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Prayers on the way Julie. I hope Linda feels better soon and has a speedy recovery.

8/17/2012 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

No, it's not just a literary theory, it is a view of reality and our inability to understand it, leaving us with nothing but manipulations of power, sensation and emptiness, and that applies well to everything.

While I agree that Tristram Shandy fits the bill (though I couldn't stomach finishing it), I put the first post modern writer as Rousseau, with his novella's and musical theory (doing away with harmony), or his 'Discourse on the arts and sciences', arguing that knowledge corrupts humanity, any of which were first to the gutter.

"Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. How did this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate? That question I think I can answer.
If I took into account only force, and the effects derived from it, I should say: “As long as a people is compelled to obey, and obeys, it does well; as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and shakes it off, it does still better; for, regaining its liberty by the same right as took it away, either it is justified in resuming it, or there was no justification for those who took it away.” But the social order is a sacred right which is the basis of all other rights. Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature, and must therefore be founded on conventions. Before coming to that, I have to prove what I have just asserted.."

If that's not enough, try even the first page of his confessions, or Emile.

While the likes of Foucault may have been more explicit in their gabbling about in the gutters, they originated nothing.

Which is fitting.

8/17/2012 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Hassan on Joyce [end]:
More importantly, postmodernism can not serve simply as a period, as a temporal, chronological, or diachronic construct; it must also function as a theoretical, phenomenological, or synchronic category. Older or dead writers, like Samuel Beckett or Jorge Luis Borges or Raymond Roussel or Vladimir Nabokov, can be postmodern, while younger ones, still alive like John Updike or Toni Morrison or V. S. Naipaul, may not be postmodern (the distinction carries no literary value judgments). And so, we can not claim that everything before 1960 is modern, everything after, postmodern. Beckett’s Murphy appeared in 1938, Joyce’s Finnegans Wake in 1939, both, in my view, preeminently postmodern. Nor can we simply say that Joyce is modern or postmodern. Which Joyce? That of Dubliners (pre-modern), Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (modern), Ulysses (modern shading into postmodern), Finnegans Wake (postmodern)?

8/17/2012 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0011 said...

"Work is the means, leisure the end. Which is another way of saying that the purpose of creation is the sabbath."

Absolutely, Bob. There's a reason why Sunday is the day of 'rest'. I understand it most clearly now - Time undisturbed by the "have to's" so you can concentrate fully on the "Want to's". It's the day to drop the duties of life.

Building a garage, making a meal, fixing a car is not necessarily considered work as long as you are following the capricious nature of your being. This is a most necessary exercise for you to 'know yourself' (and 'recharge')

Sorry I've been away for so long. I'm looking forward to more play at you sandbox.

8/21/2012 06:54:00 AM  

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