Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Militarizing the Space of Imagination

Back when Bob was a carefree bachelor, he had this roommate who was an epic stoner. We lived on the beach in a three bedroom condo, and both of us worked in the food industry. In other words, in the supermarket.

Well, the friend was eventually busted by store security and fired for smoking pot on the graveyard shift. This led to a few seconds of panic about how he would pay the rent, before it dawned on him that he could convert our condo into a pot farm. After all, it was just the two of us in a three bedroom condo, so there was that unused room.

So he bought a couple of tarps, obtained some 20 gallon containers and potting soil from the nursery, and got down to business. Oh, and he also purchased a 1000 watt bulb that he dangled from the ceiling and left on 24/7. Quite effective though, because in a matter of weeks it was a jungle in there.

Problem was, when the sun went down, it looked as if it had slipped into our condo, or maybe like we were hiding a nuclear reactor: our hothouse was also a lighthouse. So he threw a heavy blanket over the curtain rod, but even so, it still gave off an eery glow around the edges.

In addition to the glow, our little plantation gave off a distinct smell. The window was always open, so you couldn't miss it if you were in the vicinity. What was I thinking, living with this lawless Johnny Addleseed? Like I said, "carefree." In other words, I made up for in recklessness what I lacked in judgment.

I still remember when we received our first post-Midnight Sun electricity bill. I don't recall the exact figures, but in one month it went from something like $20 to $200. Nor did I know that this is one of the ways The Man can tell when someone is up to no good. But somehow we survived scrutiny, and not too long thereafter I moved out, because Port Hueneme was too long a drive to Pepperdine, where I had enrolled in grad school.

But none of this matters now. Or ever, really. I was just warming up my fingers. What really matters is some of the insights my schwaggrarian friend derived from being stoned around the clock. I should add that I no longer even partoke by that time. Among other things, thanks to ingenious sons of the soil, the THC content had become exponentially more concentrated over the years, to the point that it had become a major league mind-altering substance. I can only imagine what's happened since then.

One of my friend's oracular cannabis-fueled insights was that soon No One Would Know How To Do Anything. In other words -- and this was in the technologically paleolithic early '80s -- the complexity of society was growing beyond the means of people to keep up with it. More and more people were attending college, but they weren't really learning anything useful, i.e., the kind of practical knowledge needed to keep the whole shithouse from going up in flames or collapsing in on itself.

Well, first of all: can I buy some pot from you?

Secondly, is there any truth to this? There is an adage to the effect that every institution or program begins with some lofty or practical goal, but that the goal is eventually displaced by self-preservation and self-interest. We see this most vividly in the government and in education, where the Prime Directive is simply to increase in size, power, and influence. Any worthy goals -- e.g., helping children grow in wisdom and virtue -- are lost in the sentimental mists of once good intentions. As we have heard it said, the left is the Good Intentions Paving Company. And yet, their roads always somehow lead to hell. Ironic.

Believe it or not, I still haven't gotten to the main point. Don't you hate it when writers waste your time like this? My point is this: forget about the loss of practical knowhow and the flood of useless people with pointless college degrees in queer theory, feminist studies, climate *science*, political *science* (our worthless Dear Leader's major), leisure and recreation, Afro-American self-soothing delusions, and all the rest. The real problems lay in the metaphysical imagination, such that our culture has severed itself at its own roots. But like topping a dead marijuana plant, you can only do that for so long before you run out of leaves.

Analogously, imagine if people had thrown out all science prior to, say, 1960, in the desire to reinvent it from the ground up. Insane, right? But why is it any different to do this with tradition, which is precisely what the left has succeeded in doing over the past half-century? We have dropped the Object, the point and purpose of it all.

Borrowing Ken Wilber's four-quadrant map of human reality, there are the interior and exterior collectives, and the interior and exterior individual. Science is the spontaneous order produced by the exterior collective, i.e., a map of the exterior world. Culture, on the other hand, is a collective map of the human interior, and includes religion, art, manners, morals, etc.

Since the 1960s the exterior collective -- science and technology -- has proceeded apace, and yet, we've made no concomitant progress in moral excellence, let alone wisdom. Indeed, we have witnessed an obvious collective regression in those areas, and one of the main reasons for this is the soul-amputation that occurred then the left decided to throw out the collective wisdom of mankind and to use the power of the state to remake man from the ground up. You could say that the left is a movement that has forgotten more truth than it will ever relearn in this life.

As mentioned in a comment yesterday, there is an interesting article by Adam Bellow in the July 7 National Review, called Let Your Right Brain Run Free: Why Conservative Fiction is the Next Front in the Culture War. While I agree with the first part of the title, I reject the second. (His website is here.)

That is, "conservative fiction" per se will never be a front in the culture war; rather, as always, the front of the war is located where fiction -- or anything else -- conserves, extends, and converges upon truth, beauty, wisdom, virtue, etc. It is a truism that these things are always "conservative," because they are what we wish to conserve, precisely. We are under no similar imperative to conserve falsehood, ugliness, stupidity, barbarism, etc.

Being that the left controls the culture, conservatives are by definition the "counter culture." Except that the left has so debased the culture that it is more accurate to say that they are the reactionary anti-culture, whereas we simply stand for culture. I think this is where Bellow errs, because cultural excellence and conservatism are simply two sides of the same coin. There need be no specific content -- let alone political content -- to the excellence. Rather, the attainment of timeless excellence alone is more than enough to be worthy of conservation.

The left, by tossing out or devaluing historical excellence, has succeeded in undermining conservatism at the root -- the root of imagination. And we won't recover that root by writing new novels with conservative themes, although that won't hurt, so long as these works stand on their own as examples of excellence. But you will inevitably become conservative if you familiarize yourself with, as Matthew Arnold put it, "the best which has been thought and said in the world."

The Marxist idea is that if you control language, you control reality; and that he who controls the present controls the past, and therefore future.

But the present is always an imaginative engagement with reality; it can be profound or shallow; it can be ahistorical or extend into deep history and beyond the horizon of myth; it can be an isolated point or an endless line that unites us in community with the dead and unborn. It all depends upon the size and scope, the depth and luminosity, of the Imagination.

86 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the 1960s the exterior collective -- science and technology -- has proceeded apace, and yet, we've made no concomitant progress in moral excellence, let alone wisdom.

Really? In the 1960s overt racism, including legal discrimination, was perfectly acceptable, and now it isn't. That sounds like progress to me, and maybe even to you. Similarly equal rights for women and gays has become the norm rather than the exception, the latter with a speed that surprised even those who had been fighting for it.

Much else has changed since the 60s of course. Perhaps there has been a net loss, but that particular areas shows unambiguous moral progress.

7/23/2014 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I rest my case.

7/23/2014 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Any worthy goals -- e.g., helping children grow in wisdom and virtue -- are lost in the sentimental mists of once good intentions. As we have heard it said, the left is the Good Intentions Paving Company. And yet, their roads always somehow lead to hell. Ironic.

I'm reminded of a good article I was reading yesterday about Ivy League education. The author started out with some great points, but ended with a wish which, as with so many things, sounds like a nice idea but would be monstrous if it were ever put into practice:

"High-quality public education, financed with public money, for the benefit of all: the exact commitment that drove the growth of public higher education in the postwar years. Everybody gets an equal chance to go as far as their hard work and talent will take them—you know, the American dream. Everyone who wants it gets to have the kind of mind-expanding, soul-enriching experience that a liberal arts education provides. We recognize that free, quality K–12 education is a right of citizenship."

Sounds great. So - who decides what constitutes "quality"? Common Core certainly isn't cutting it. How do you ensure that teachers are consistently held to the same high standards? "Free" is of course a bullshit term for "somebody's paying a ton, whether they have kids or not, and others pay nothing." What do you do with kids who aren't up to the challenge, and what do you do with kids who are too far ahead? Does anybody learn that there is no shame in doing honest work, even if it requires physical labor? Just to start.

7/23/2014 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If everyone should go to college, then college just becomes like high school. The flood of students caused by the GI bill led to a flood of unqualified professors, and it's just been downhill ever since.

7/23/2014 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Guttenberg, let alone amazon, means that a liberal education is at everyone's fingertips. But an illiberal university education is insanely expensive and quite the opposite of a "mind-expanding, soul-enriching experience."

7/23/2014 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And anyone who thinks the soul can be liberated in four years is totally delusional.

7/23/2014 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Anon, I don't entirely disagree with you. However - having achieved equal rights for all these groups, when, oh when, is it okay for them to just stop the whining already and work on living their lives? When will we recognize that Affirmative Action is not only no longer necessary, but counterproductive? When will we recognize that women, having achieved equal opportunities, need to stop demanding special opportunities? And when are gays going to stop demanding that everyone tell them how awesome they are for unmooring sex from reproduction?

There is a healthy balance, where people may receive equal protection under the law and go about their lives. I think we passed that benchmark quite some time ago, but things are actually getting worse because the professional grievance mongers simply cannot Let. It. Go. And so, ultimately, what began as a good has indeed led us straight back to hell.

7/23/2014 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Because illiberal education proceeds deductively: "here are the injustices we think you should fight against, and here's how we think you should fight them." It's Fordism and drone thinking applied to the cultural sphere.

7/23/2014 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...


"But the present is always an imaginative engagement with reality; it can be deep or shallow; it can be ahistorical or extend into deep history and beyond the horizon of myth; it can be an isolated point or an endless line that unites us in a community that includes the dead and unborn. It all depends upon the size and scope, the depth and profundity, of the Imagination."

Exactly so.

"Since the 1960s the exterior collective -- science and technology -- has proceeded apace, and yet, we've made no concomitant progress in moral excellence, let alone wisdom."

Hmmm... I'll quibble and say that's a bit incomplete. as Julie noted on the quote about public education being financed with public money, "Sounds great. So - who decides what constitutes "quality"?" The people who are looking for quantifiable data to measure ROI, and that, which began in the 1860's has to eliminate the imaginative. It can't be Quantified. Can't. And so it is eliminated. Private parties had begun doing that in about 1800, at the urging of Founding Father status folk such as Noah Webster & Dr. Benjamin Rush. They wanted to eliminate the non-measurable Imaginative elements of culture (good luck describing that culture without them) from the curriculum, and that sentiment reached the Federal level with the creation of the Dept of Education & Dept of Agriculture through the 1863 Morrill Act.

So by 1900, our cultural roots were fully severed (the last state fell to Mandatory Education laws right around then), and those who had, or were able to pass on their disembodied cultural memories, were gone by about the 1960's, and that is what allowed the "exterior collective -- science and technology" to proceeded apace, sans any guiding Light.

"Common Core certainly isn't cutting it."

Depends upon your perspective, and Bill Gates, founding pusher of them, is of exactly the same frame of quantifiable mind as were Webster & Rush... so... in a very real sense, it is absolutely cutting it, very much so.

7/23/2014 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, but it's hard to believe there has been or will ever be a generation as reckless, narcissistic, selfish and stupid as mine, the boomers. They really put the foot to the floor in accelerating the cultural decay.

7/23/2014 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Anonymous said "Really? In the 1960s overt racism, including legal discrimination, was perfectly acceptable, and now it isn't. That sounds like progress to me, and maybe even to you. Similarly equal rights for women and gays has become the norm rather than the exception"

I'm going to stay in quibble mode, and say while the appearance of racism has become unacceptable, the understanding of Individual Rights and what they are has continue to diminish at ever increasing speed, and phrasing "equal rights for women and gays" is a symptom of it. Recognizing that women & gays are individuals, and that any abridgment of their Individual Rights is an abridgment of everyone's Rights, is not the same thing as saying "equal rights for women and gays", not if you mean that as there being something such as "women's rights" and "gay rights" - such a thing is the elimination of Individual Rights, replacing the very concept of such a thing with privileges for politically favored groups, privileges which may be revoked at the whim of those with the political power to do so.

And you can see that process of revoking the 'rights'(privileges) of particular unpopular groups today, such as religious groups (Jews,Christians), gun owners, 'the rich', conservatives, etc., and anyone that doesn't mesh with what has been deemed as Politically Correct.

It may be deemed more politically incorrect to be seen doing something which is, or can be made to appear, a slight to blacks, women, gays, but that has been only an expression of fashionable power, not of enhanced understanding and appreciation of Individual Rights. The Rights of blacks, women and gays have not, and cannot be, enhanced through the diminution of Individual Rights as such.

In that sense, the Individual Rights of everyone, women, gays and everyone else, have been in sharp decline for quite some time, and especially so since the 1960's.

7/23/2014 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Indeed. Less liberty for all, but plenty of license.

7/23/2014 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yep.

7/23/2014 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

From Vanderleun's sidebar:

"Education fails to engage and redirect the feral because it's built around the fantasy that everybody will be smart and nice if nurtured just so. No they won't. No amount of education can improve the incurious. They will become what they admire -- the stunningly stupid, criminally improvident and violently impulsive. They know it and we know it. The difference is, they admit it and we don't."

7/23/2014 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"stunningly stupid, criminally improvident and violently impulsive." AKA politicians.

7/23/2014 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Completely off topic, this sounds very interesting:

"One of the Novartis-Google prototype lenses contains a device about the size of a speck of glitter that measures glucose in tears. A wireless antenna then transmits the measurements to an external device. It’s designed to ease the burden of diabetics who otherwise have to prick their fingers to test their blood sugar levels.

“I have many patients that are managing diabetes, and they described it as having a part-time job. It’s so arduous to monitor,” says Thomas Quinn, who is head of the American Optometric Association’s contact lens and cornea section. “To have a way that patients can do that more easily and get some of their life back is really exciting.”"

If this actually works and becomes widely available, I imagine it could potentially revolutionize how people manage their diabetes. Being able to constantly monitor your blood glucose levels would give a tremendous amount of feedback as to how the body interacts with food, much more so than periodically pricking your fingers.

7/23/2014 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

They've also come up with inhalable insulin, which I don't think would be any advantage. I personally don't mind pricking my finger, but it would certainly be useful to know exactly where your blood sugar is at all times, so as to adjust carb intake accordingly.

7/23/2014 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Exactly. I wonder about inhalable insulin - seems like it would be more difficult to fine-tune the dosage, but I don't know much about it.

7/23/2014 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Plus, inhalable insulin might not be tolerated by folks who are prone to lung problems such as bronchitis.

Good post, Bob!
"There is an adage to the effect that every institution or program begins with some lofty or practical goal, but that the goal is eventually displaced by self-preservation and self-interest. We see this most vividly in the government and in education, where the Prime Directive is simply to increase in size, power, and influence."

Aye. Then they unionize and extort money from us, unless they're politicians then they simply vote for mo' money and millions in extra benefits.

Public service is no longer a service, it's a racket...until they run out of other people's money.

7/23/2014 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Of course, the lavish money that politicians get was started by good intentions also.
Allegedly, they told us, mo' money attracts better politicians and puts them on par with many business CEO's or whatever private sector jobs they were using to justify their thievery.

Naturally, it mostly attracted the power hungry and the greedy. And the ridiculously short retirements they have was just icing on the cake.

Now, mo' money can attract better quality CEO's in the private sector but they have to produce.
Politicians and most govt. workers that are unionized don't with very few exceptions.

7/23/2014 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

If public service were really a public service, like the military, they would take salaries commensurate with military service, instead of being a Union of the Marginal and Dysfunctional for the purpose of extracting more from the public treasury and then using the excess to support Democrats to keep the scam going.

Public service my ass. Self service is more like it.

7/23/2014 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

It takes a lot of real cash to pay for all those phony baloney jobs.

7/23/2014 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Malignant narcissists don't come cheap.

7/23/2014 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

This is why I say organized crime is thriving, it's the same in every socialized and commie country.

7/23/2014 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Malignant narcissists also don't serve, they have the public serving them.

7/23/2014 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I didn't get a harumph out of that guy!

7/23/2014 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

I'd like to see Trey Gowdy start a RICO investigation on the federal government.

/popcorn

7/23/2014 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

That is, "conservative fiction" per se will never be a front in the culture war; rather, as always, the front of the war is located where fiction -- or anything else -- conserves, extends, and converges upon truth, beauty, wisdom, virtue, etc.

Like Lewis said, you don't get a board of bishops together to write new Christian novels. If it's true, we like it. Philippians 4:8 and all.

7/23/2014 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Reminds me of what one wants to say to Christian rockers:

"You're not making Christianity better. You're just making rock worse."

7/23/2014 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Van Recognizing that women & gays are individuals, and that any abridgment of their Individual Rights is an abridgment of everyone's Rights, is not the same thing as saying "equal rights for women and gays",

It's not? I think you are having trouble expressing your thought.

Let's assume that the rights of the individual is some kind of pre-existing platonic principle (I don't necessarily agree, but it will do for the purposes of this discussion). And these rights have nothing to do with group identity. However, the REALIZATION of these rights has required that oppressed groups band together and take political action to see that these rights are granted.

That's just how things work in the real world. And it is the left, historically, that has helped minority groups win their rights, while the right has either held back or actively tried to interfere. The pose here that the right is some kind of beacon of individual rights is just sheer nonsense. Not true now, and never has been. The right is DEFINITIONALLY the party of inherited privilege.

7/23/2014 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Right, and Lincoln was a democrat. Apparently, you're not only ignorant of history, you got it bass ackwards.

7/23/2014 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Communist Manifesto was good enough for America's founders, it ought to be good enough for us.

7/23/2014 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Oh noes, nots the privileges!

7/23/2014 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only disadvantaged folks like Obama or Pelosi or Reid could be the elites...

7/23/2014 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True, the wealthiest counties in the nation trend Democrat, and the GOP has more small donors then the Dems. But I'm not talking about facts, I'm talking about fantasies.

7/23/2014 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Speaking of privileges, morality and hypocrites, why don't those on the left that are successful, or more successful than their poorest brethren, voluntarily redistribute their wealth among each other and demonstrate to us on the right how well that works?

It's not like that was ever tried in the past.

7/23/2014 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Funny how those on the left never demand that their leaders actually put their money where their mouths are.
Certainly you would think they would at least expel and castigate those who are making too much money in their own cult, I mean idoltology.

7/23/2014 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Hillary Rodham Clinton said...

I give to charity! I gave so much to Planned Parenthood and NOW that I was broke I tell you! Barely eked a living!

7/23/2014 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Shrillary said...

I'm all for women's rights (unless my client is a rapist) but hey, I was just doing what lawyers do. Even the laughter is part of that gig.

7/23/2014 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

If amnesty is a right why don't lefties propose flying or shipping all the poor folks in the world to America?
Why make them travel hundreds or thousands of miles to get here?

7/23/2014 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Why can't Pelosi adopt a bunch of those poor kids like she said she wanted to do? No one will stop her and she can afford it.

7/23/2014 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Po' White Boy said...

Please mistah Anonymous, tell us what privileges the right inherited, cuz they din't give this po' white boy no privileges.

7/23/2014 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Say, there's a thought. I could give them an allowance of five bucks a day, and in return, I could teach them all about the joys of domestic work...

7/23/2014 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

However, the REALIZATION of these rights has required that oppressed groups band together and take political action to see that these rights are granted.

I think Anon is on to something here. Don't you see the relationship between this statement and Unions? Isn't that what a union is? A way for the group to get something the individual -- alleged -- can't get on his own.

Now, here's the thing -- and the reason I hate unions -- the individual gets exactly what the group gets. The leadership gets more because union leaders use the group to gain power.

But what I hate is that the slacker and the malingerer gets exactly the same as the hardest working guy on the job. In fact, it is the hardest working guy that makes it possible for all the other guys to sit on their asses. Not only that, it's easy for the boss to ignore the contributions of the individual. He doesn't have to promote the good workers because they have to take what everybody else does.

It's the same with the identity grievance groups. Individuals aren't allowed to succeed and excel unless they do it within the confines and under the auspices of the grievance group.

Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, and Ben Carson are all much brighter than Obama, but they are bad old uncle toms. Obama, affirmative action president, is good.

7/23/2014 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Progressive Teacher said...

Robert Byrd was a republican? I knew a democrat would never join the KKK.

7/23/2014 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Mushroom - yep. Unions are a nice idea, and in some rare instances I even think it's a good idea for workers to join together to demand just treatment by their employers - provided that once that treatment has been achieved, they disband.

Back in 2000, I watched in horror as unions in Ohio forced a strike against a hospital working through bankruptcy, and ultimately shut it down, putting patients out of a hospital and nursing staff out of a job altogether, just to prove that they could. Not only did they not care about the people who would be directly affected by their actions, they wanted to maximize the damage. And everything you say about the workers is true; the worst were allowed to do as they pleased, while the best were given no incentive to do well. Unsurprisingly, the whole area, which depended on a big assortment of union jobs (and mob ties, which in that part of the country were practically one and the same), was a depressed hellhole.

7/23/2014 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

@Anonymous said "I think you are having trouble expressing your thought"

Well first off, if you want to deal with the thought as expressed, well or poorly, you can't lop off what followed the comma you severed it at, which was: "not if you mean that as there being something such as "women's rights" and "gay rights"".

Individual Rights, as understood by our Founders, and as I understand them (which is compatible, though not exactly the same), are not simply privileges that oppressed groups band together in order to take through political action. Those are simply entitlements and privileges. There is a big difference.

In fact, what you attempted to dismiss (sssort of) as a pre-existing platonic principle, is far closer to your usage, than to ours (the 17th-18th century classical liberal tradition). In the sense I use it, Individual Rights do not arise from some philosophical form, but from our nature as human beings, the most important of which a person could not live a fully human life, without being able to engage in (thumbnail: actions such as making and acting on decisions, speaking, associating, and retaining the fruits of those actions. I've expressed that in more detail Here and Here. To deprive a man of his individual rights leaves a human in a state of being forcibly less than human.)

Groups banding together to take political action, and especially in majority action mobs (Democracy), are antithetical to "Life, Liberty & the pursuit of happiness" for which govt's are instituted amongst us by the consent of the governed to preserve and protect.

"That's just how things work in the real world."

I think you are having trouble expressing your thought. If the real world you are referring to is Iraq, then you are correct. If the real world you are referring to is that of an America under the Rule of Law, in accordance with our Constitution, then you are mistaken. If the real world you are referring to is an America which will follow from its Chief Executive being allowed to issue or amend laws by pen, phone or IRS... then you'd be correct again.

Context matters.

"The right is DEFINITIONALLY the party of inherited privilege."

Again, it matters where you get your definitions, by pulling them out of your ass or academia (but I repeat myself), or from those who define Individual Rights as being inherent to our nature as human beings. I'll go with the later.

Now, are you actually defining individual rights as those privileges which powerful groups seize through political power? Or did you want a moment to express yourself a bit more thoughtfully?

7/23/2014 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Unions, the Mob, and the democrat party. Pretty easy to see the pattern of corruption.

7/23/2014 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Yes, it's kind of like civil rights. There was a point in history when it was reasonable and even necessary for workers to organize for better working conditions and safety, for example. But we are well beyond that point now, and who is that doesn't want to give up their privileges and traditions?

7/23/2014 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That's the problem with today's grievance groups, they want more rights than anyone else not equal rights for everyone.
They also confuse rights with privileges and try to make material things into rights so they can force others to pay for it.

7/23/2014 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

The left has achieved what the KKK could only dream of.

7/23/2014 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

@ Ben - For instance, the imaginary "right" to "free" birth control, without which women are somehow being grievously oppressed.

7/23/2014 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

To express a desire in terms of a right is an excellent way to legitimize coercion, because then if I want what I don't have, it is your duty to give it to me.

7/23/2014 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Then there's the worst "right" the left has made up:
The right to murder innocent, unborn human beings.

And yet, most on the left think that convicted murderers should have a right not to be executed.
I reckon they feel a kinship with them since murdering babies is just a choice and all.

7/23/2014 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie,
Aye! Hobby Lobby has set back women's health to the dark ages. Only paying for 16 out of 20 birth control options for their employees will destroy the health of women everywhere.

That's some major batshit crazy right there.

7/23/2014 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Hmm...I should start a privateer grievance group.
Free Bacon n' grog should be a right!

7/23/2014 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just a note for any jazz fans out there that this is an amazing deal: 18 CDs by the greatest jazz pianist for $65. That works out to less than four bucks a disc, and 277 tracks. The previous edition is out of print and goes for like $300 used.

True, one must be a sick fanatic to need this kind of wretched excess, but if you are one, this is just the thing!

7/23/2014 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bob, just out of curiosity how would you rate Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk?
I would rate Monk a very close number 2 after Evans.

That is a great deal for Bill Evans!

7/23/2014 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Well, Monk is sui generis: one of a kind, so it's hard to place him. I don't care for the Art Tatum style, because it's so ornate. One reason I like Evans is all the space. He puts you in a timeless state, whereas Tatum has so much melodic drive that it's distracting, and I wouldn't be able to listen to it while reading, which is when I do most of my listening.

7/23/2014 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I guess you could say Evans is introverted where Tatum is extroverted. At least until when Evans switched from heroin to coke, at which point he became extroverted...

7/23/2014 04:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Groups banding together to take political action, and especially in majority action mobs (Democracy), are antithetical to "Life, Liberty & the pursuit of happiness"

Better tell the authors of that phrase, since I seem to recall they were banding together to take political action of a fairly radical sort.

7/23/2014 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks, Bob, good points.
I haven't heard any of Bill Evan's extroverted stuff during the cocaine 70's (which I intend to remedy) but he strikes me as being a more complete pianist than Tatum, although Tatum is clearly a great player in his own right.
Apparently, Tatum drank a lot, however, like Evans With the heroin I couldn't hear that it affected their performances.

Plus, they both made it seem so effortless. I think they were both ahead of their respective times.

Irt Tatum, I read he was more creative after the clubs closed whenthe musicians would play for each other at parties.
I noticed that 40 of those songs were recorded called 20th century Piano Genius.
Have you listened to that one?

7/23/2014 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ben:

I don't actually care for the 70s Evans. Seems to me he lost his touch -- he pounds the keys instead of touching them. Too much adrenaline. No, I haven't heard those Tatum performances, as my period of interest runs from the late 50s to the late 60s. But it's true that all those classic jazz guys would cut loose after hours, when they could play to impress each other. Part of the reason was that prior to the early 50s, they were constrained by the three minute record, so solos were geared to that limit. But with the LP, it opened up more possibilities for the soloist, leading to those 30 minute marathon solos of the 1960s.

7/23/2014 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

me: However, the REALIZATION of these rights has required that oppressed groups band together and take political action to see that these rights are granted. That's just how things work in the real world.

Van: If the real world you are referring to is Iraq, then you are correct. If the real world you are referring to is that of an America under the Rule of Law, in accordance with our Constitution, then you are mistaken.

How so? Are you denying the historical reality of the civil rights movement, or what? In the real world, blacks did not get to enjoy constitutional rights until they collectively protested and otherwise fought for them. Presumably you do not mean to deny this uncontroversial historical fact, so what in the world do you mean?

7/23/2014 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Okay, thanks Bob.
After listening to some of Evan's 70's stuff I concur he wasn't playing his best at that time. Appreciate the advice.

7/23/2014 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The sound of heroin. Definitely dilates time.

7/23/2014 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You can hear how contemplative it is. Also a sense of exploration and discovery in his playing....

7/23/2014 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Amazingly, they have a lot of his famous Village Vanguard trio performances in one video. His was the first trio to give equal emphasis to the bass and drums, instead of just using them to support the piano. Very trinitarian.

7/23/2014 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Anonymous said "Better tell the authors of that phrase, since I seem to recall they were banding together to take political action of a fairly radical sort."

Again, context matters, I was speaking against people banding together to take secure privileges, rather than doing so to uphold and preserve Rights. The former is what is done in Iraq, the later is what our Founders did here.

You might want to check and ensure that so much of what you know isn't so, as our government was specifically designed, and its proudest achievement was thought to be, was actually a selling point( as here in The Federalist No. 63), that 'the people' had no direct involvement in government:

"...From these facts, to which many others might be added, it is clear that the principle of representation was neither unknown to the ancients nor wholly overlooked in their political constitutions. The true distinction between these and the American governments, lies in the total exclusion of the people, in their collective capacity, from any share in the latter, and not in the total exclusion of the representatives of the people from the administration of the former. ..."

THAT is what Representative Government means - that no mobs will rule, only the Rule of Law will. They knew all too well that Power had to be kept bound down by Law, and that the Ruler needed as much separation as possible by means of laws, from the reigns of power. We The People are Sovereign, just as, and just as dangerous as, a King... and that is why we have no direct hand in power. In order to ensure that, we were created as, and mandated to remain, a Republic - IOW Democracy is precisely what our government is intentionaly not. Article 4, Section 4

"Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."

And I don't see an answer to my question, was the 'definition' of 'Rights' which you gave earlier what you actually think they are, or do you want to rethink that?

7/24/2014 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Good clarification, Van - it's clear that there are some basic definitional differences going on here. There are different types of group political action, and there are different understandings of rights and even of equality; unless those differences are understood, there really can't be any discussion.

Further, to suggest that the founders, the Civil Rights movement, and pretty much any "oppressed minority" of today are all the same sorts of groups doing the same sorts of things is either disingenuous or shockingly ignorant.

7/24/2014 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Off topic, Ten reasons I Am No Longer a Leftist. Interesting. All about the cognitive dissonance.

7/24/2014 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Anonymous said "In the real world, blacks did not get to enjoy constitutional rights until they collectively protested and otherwise fought for them"

Again, what you think you know, just isn't so. Even in your sloppy use of words, the 60's Civil Rights movement did not secure 'constitutional rights', but only legislated actions (which, although understandably done, have diminished the protections of all of our rights.

Blacks, and all of us, had our Rights protected by the Constitution at the very same time - with the 13th, 14th & 15th Amendments. Prior to that the Constitutional protections restrained only the Federal Government from abusing them; only afterwards were the States obligated to recognize and defend them as well.

I've got to get to work so I can't hunt up the details & links at the moment, but here's another tidbit, maybe you'll want to Google a bit: The U.S. Army wasn't desegregated in the late 20th Century... it was Re-Desegregated. The U.S. Army, after the Civil War, had blacks serving along with whites, even attending West Point, if memory serves; it was segregated, as were all civil services, by ProRegressive Democrat President Woodrow Wilson.

Did Martin Luther King have to organize protests and marches to secure Rights for Blacks? In exactly the sense I mentioned above, yes, those protests were required, but not to 'get rights', but to demand that those Rights which they already had secured for all of us, were equally upheld, in the South, and everywhere else as well.

Late, gotta leave it at that for now.

7/24/2014 06:14:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

I wonder what Evans thought of Cecil Taylor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EstPgi4eMe4

He has a palette here, a rhythmic motif, and total freedom to play and explore. Solo.

Monk taken to its logical conclusion? Brain-fueled testosterone? Genius with ADD? All the above?

7/24/2014 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Taylor seemed a bridge too far for me until I checked out some of his early stuff from 56 to 62 or so, which is great. Avant garde without being at all inaccessible. Just looked it up and it's all now available in one place for cheap, since the copyright runs for only 50 years in Europe.

7/24/2014 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You can definitely still hear the links to Monk in the early material. Another great pianist in that vein was Don Pullen.

7/24/2014 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Re what Van said, it seems to me that (classical) liberals in both parties supported the key civil rights legislation of the '50s and '60s. But then the movement was hijacked by the illiberal left in 1965 or so, since which time it hasn't been about natural rights at all, but positive rights, i.e., special privileges.

7/24/2014 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

i.e. the impatient sons and daughters of the Old Left. They didn't want reform or continuity. It was 68. They said they wanted revolution, by any means necessary. Now they've been the establishment for a long time, their recklessness has done its damage, and Obama is their final, bitter, parting shot. Cue George Harrison:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebtC3ORg9fU

7/24/2014 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

$12 for all that Cecil Taylor? Excellent recs, Bob!

7/24/2014 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger wild said...

"Yes, but it's hard to believe there has been or will ever be a generation as reckless, narcissistic, selfish and stupid as mine, the boomers. They really put the foot to the floor in accelerating the cultural decay."

I have just started a book called "Selfish, Whining Monkeys: How we ended up greedy, narcissistic, and unhappy" by Rod Liddle.

"I, and my generation, seem feckless and irresponsible, endlessly selfish, whining, avaricious, self-deluding, self-obsessed, spoiled and corrupt and ill. We are the generation that has spent the small but hard earned inheritance we got from our hard working parents, and are now busy spending the money we should be leaving our kids. My generation is the one which will not wait for anything, because it feels it has the right to have everything now."

7/24/2014 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "Re what Van said, it seems to me that (classical) liberals in both parties supported the key civil rights legislation of the '50s and '60s."

Yes, but there weren't many left who would stand up for the proper understanding and application of the laws to our Rights, and honestly, there was so little substantial ground left for them to do so... I feel the pain they had. Property Rights, Individual Rights, Contract and even the application of the Constitution to the law, were gone (the last shred with the 'Gold Clause' cases of the 1930's). And so they were willing to go along with a proper result, through flawed (at best) means. 'Brown v Kansas Board of Ed' & 'Civil Rights' are prime examples of that. The problem is that those opened the floodgates of poopular understanding for trampling Individual Rights under Law, for decrees of power 'for the greater good!'.

That twisting of law was stymied for a while with the Civil War Amdt's, the 13th, 14th & 15th, because finally those essential Rights protected under the first 10 Amdts of the 'Bill of Rights', were required to be respected by the States for all of their people. Drove them nuts for some time. But they began to find a way to deliberately misinterpret and misapply the Amdt's "Due process" and "Privileges and Immunities" clauses, and what that accomplished, was to demote the place of Individual Rights, and that of Natural Law - which those rights cannot have substance without - and elevated power - the whims of the particular persons in power - over that of upholding and defending our Individual Rights. Bingo! Back on track!

Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in the recent 2nd amendment case "M c DONALD et al. v . CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS" gives an excellent examination of the 14th Amendment and the sleight of hand that has with over a hundred years of creaking precedent, attached to the magical 'due process' clause, along with willfully anemic interpretations of the 'Privileges and Immunities' clause of the 14th amendment.

A proper understanding of the Privileges and Immunities clause is the only proper conduit for the Federal Bill of Rights to be applied down to and within the individual states, and it's the only method which won't also lead to an erosion of the powers of the individual or of the states.

And we've got a long way to go to re-accomplish that.

7/24/2014 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

BTW, This points towards the post-Civil War progress that was thrown away and kicked into the gutter by the ProRegressives, especially evident under Wilson:

"It was Inauguration Day, and in the judgment of one later historian, "the atmosphere in the nation's capital bore ominous signs for Negroes." Washington rang with happy Rebel Yells, while bands all over town played 'Dixie.' Indeed, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who swore in the newly elected Southern president, was himself a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. Meanwhile, "an unidentified associate of the new Chief Executive warned that since the South ran the nation, Negroes should expect to be treated as a servile race." Somebody had even sent the new president a possum, an act supposedly "consonant with Southern tradition."

This is not an alternate world scenario imagining the results of a Strom Thurmond victory in the 1948 election; it is the real March 4, 1913, the day Woodrow Wilson of Virginia moved into the White House. The details, above and below, are drawn from the work of historian Lawrence J. Friedman, especially 1970's The White Savage: Racial Fantasies in the Postbellum South....
"

There were of course idiots who wouldn't see their way past race, religion, gender, but for that brief span between the wars, the Law was an obstacle to their doing so. After the ProRegressive mindset swept its way through the culture, the Law became nothing but a set of loopholes for the powerful to navigate through, and attack with.

7/24/2014 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said "In the real world, blacks did not get to enjoy constitutional rights until they collectively protested and otherwise fought for them"

Again, what you think you know, just isn't so. Even in your sloppy use of words, the 60's Civil Rights movement did not secure 'constitutional rights', but only legislated actions


Jesus, you accusing me of sloppy language is funny. Seriously, you have one of the worst writing styles I've ever seen, and it obviously reflects a mind incapable of careful thought.

My choice of words was quite precise and accurate: blacks may have had theoretical constitutional rights since the 13-15th amendments, but they did not get to actually enjoy those rights until they agitated for them.

You obviously have no interest in the actual truth of history, and you are also obviously the kind of idiot who thinks he's a genius and is thus incapable of learning. So I'm done wasting time with you.

7/24/2014 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse said "You obviously have no interest in the actual truth of history, and you are also obviously the kind of idiot who thinks he's a genius and is thus incapable of learning."

You keep talking to yourself like that, and you're going to develop a problem.

Oh. Wait.

7/24/2014 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse said "blacks may have had theoretical constitutional rights since the 13-15th amendments, but they did not get to actually enjoy those rights until they agitated for them."

Which, with the exception of your limiting it to Blacks, is what I said, glad you're keeping up. You, however, said that "that these rights are granted", and they are not. To Grant Rights is nothing more than bestowing of privileges - are you even able to see the difference?

Rights, Individual Rights, are not granted by powers, but derived from the realities of human nature, and can only be upheld and defended through power being subordinated to Natural Law - they are not something that can be granted. Positive Law, the granting of powers, permissions and privileges, will destroy, and cannot not destroy, Individual Rights.

And disliking my writing style, is no substitute for answering the question you continually evade (as it appears all leftists must): What in your understanding, are Rights? And how will your understanding prevent govt from permitting itself to abuse them?

If you can't answer that, you've probably never considered that. If you do care about the value of your own thinking, you should recognize that as being a problem.

7/24/2014 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I'm sad about our troll moving on. Now we'll never learn those timeless truths from the pen of Susan Sontag he promised to share with us.

7/24/2014 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Aw, that's too bad.

Chin up, Dupree - these trolls love to say they're through, but more often than not, they just can't quit you...

7/24/2014 03:50:00 PM  

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