Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Real Life: Strangers in Fiction

There are some things in life so unlikely that one is apt not to believe them even when they turn out to be true. An example? I got a television. Actually, I got another one. The super at my place gave me one a few years ago. Or maybe it only feels like it's been in the doorway for years. I wanted to throw it out, but I didn't want the guy seeing it in the dumpster and thinking I'm ungrateful. Then I got a dvd player from a friend. My floor is sagging already with all the books in my place. What I need is more stuff? So, there I am complaining about more stuff and a friend drops in with a monster tv, saying he knew I had a new dvd player and he just happened to have bought a new tv that's even bigger than this sucker he's dropped off. Today a friend asked me if my new tv works. He asked how many channels I get. I told him I don't know, I've never tried it. Why would I watch tv? It never occurred to me to turn it on. Instead, I watched a Clint Eastwood movie on dvd. My neighbors all think I'm a psycho. Alright, they're certain now. Last evening I had earplugs in the tv sound slot so I wouldn't piss off everyone in the neighborhood. The neighbours heard me laughing in the dark for hours all by myself. You just can't win.

I watched The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I think it's based on the Prisoners' Dilemma. I didn't think that the first time I saw it, when I was eight or ten-- or something. Back then I think I liked it because it's funny, same as I still think it's funny. I haven't seen a movie in 20 years. Maybe they're all funny. I think The Dirty Dozen is hilarious.

I read somewhere that humor is the plausible but unexpected. I've been around long enough now to know that much is plausible, and most of it is unexpected. Usually I laugh. The philosopher Rene Girard makes me laugh. So do jihadis, often.

I laugh while watching The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly because it's plausible, though things that happen are unlikely and yet happen anyway.

And then there's the wacky world of television, where plausible thing happen that are unexpected, and I don't find them funny at all. I read this on the Internet and now I know why I don't watch tv.

Andrew Klavan, "Shocked … Shocked!", Klavan on the Culture. June 9th, 2009

Boy oh boy, these last few days have been full of surprises, haven’t they? One shocking revelation tumbles out after another. Here’re just a few blind-siders coming in from way out of left field:

Adam Lambert is gay. I mean, hold the phone, Mabel, I never saw that coming! You’re telling me the guy who would surely have won American Idol this year if it were, in fact, a singing contest instead of an informal poll of which guy 13-year-old girls find cute but unthreatening is batting for the other team??? You know, now that I think about it, when we saw pictures of him wearing eyeliner, dressing in drag and kissing another guy, I sort of thought something might be going on. But not that! Never that!

I had no idea of what I'm missing. I spend my free time reading. I never tire of it.

I never tire of the Prisoners' Dilemma. In the case of the movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, it's a Mexican Standoff. By the strangest of coincidences, as I type this, sure enough, on the radio is now playing Stealer's Wheel, "Stuck in the Middle with You." I saw the movie, Reservoir Dogs, years ago on television. It has a scene in which this tune plays. It ends with a Mexican Standoff. I laugh.

How do we make honest decisions and act in good faith? I accept that I will probably regret some actions later; but I know that if I don't act because I'm waiting for perfection, then all will be lost. That's not a bad thing, I guess, if I were watching television. But life is funny. There's watchers and then there's actors. Conservatives are watchers. Leftards, often, are actors. We know the result.

Watchers can only stop actors by acting. I think it's very funny. If I'd known when I was a kid how funny it would be, I would have pleaded sickness and never have gotten out of bed at all. It's good, it's bad, and it's ugly. Much of the time the dilemma's funny. You just can't win.

"The Story of a Soldier"
from the film The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
music by Ennio Morricone
lyrics by Tommy Connor
Bugles are calling
from prairie to shore,
"Sign up" and "Fall in"
and march off to war.
Drums beating loudly,
Hearts beating proudly
Match Blue and Grey
And smile as you say Goodbye.
Smoke hides the valleys
And fire paints the plains.
Loud roar the cannons
'Til ruin remains:
Blue grass and cotton
Burnt and forgotten
All hope seems gone
So soldier march on to die.
There in the distance
A flag I can see,
Scorched and in ribbons
But whose can it be;
How ends the story,
Whose is the glory,
Ask if we dare
Our comrades out there who sleep.
Lyrics to "The Story of A Soldier" as sung in the film

Bugles are calling from prairie to shore,
"Sign up" and "Fall In" and march off to war.
Blue grass and cotton, burnt and forgotten
All hope seems gone so soldier march on to die.
Bugles are calling from prairie to shore,
"Sign up" and "Fall In" and march off to war.
There in the distance a flag I can see,
Scorched and in ribbons but whose can it be,
How ends the story, whose is the glory
Ask if we dare, our comrades out there who sleep
(Thanks to Michael Caletka and Addie Smith)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Beginning Year Five at No Dhimmitude

It's been over four years now that I have written here, originally with the intention of compiling information for a book on the genealogy of Left Dhimmi Fascism. I've taken some time off to attempt it, haven't finished it or done it well at all, and come back for more. I've relied heavily on help from reader and friends, and now, happy to report, I have the third chapter of a proposed seven finished, roughly 300 pages of a first draft. It's taken me a couple of months to get this far. I will be a while longer yet till this part is done, and then there's rewriting. Meanwhile, here's something to keep you occupied. I think it's pretty excellent.

From Friedrich Engels, The Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State. (1884) "Preface to the Fourth Edition." (1891)

[Johann J.] Bachofen finds the proofs of these assertions in innumerable passages of ancient classical literature, which he collected with immense industry. According to him, the development from "hetaerism" to monogamy and from mother-right to father-right is accomplished, particularly among the Greeks, as the consequence of an advance in religious conceptions, introducing into the old hierarchy of the gods, representative of the old outlook, new divinities, representative of the new outlook, who push the former more and more into the background. Thus, according to Bachofen, it is not the development of men’s actual conditions of life, but the religious reflection of these conditions inside their heads, which has brought about the historical changes in the social position of the sexes in relation to each other. In accordance with this view, Bachofen interprets the Oresteia of Aschylus as the dramatic representation of the conflict between declining mother-right and the new father-right that arose and triumphed in the heroic age. For the sake of her paramour, AEgisthus, Clytemnestra slays her husband, Agamemnon, on his return from the Trojan War; but Orestes, the son of Agamemnon and herself, avenges his father’s murder by slaying his mother. For this act he is pursued by the Furies, the demonic guardians of mother-right, according to which matricide is the gravest and most inexpiable crime. But Apollo, who by the voice of his oracle had summoned Orestes to this deed, and Athena, who is called upon to give judgment – the two deities who here represent the new patriarchal order – take Orestes under their protection; Athena hears both sides. The whole matter of the dispute is briefly summed up in the debate which now takes place between Orestes and the Furies. Orestes contends that Clytemnestra has committed a double crime; she has slain her husband and thus she has also slain his father. Why should the Furies pursue him, and not her, seeing that she is by far the more guilty? The answer is striking: "She was not kin by blood to the man she slew."

The murder of a man not related by blood, even if he be the husband of the murderess, is expiable and does not concern the Furies; their office is solely to punish murder between blood relations, and of such murders the most grave and the most inexpiable, according to mother-right, is matricide. Apollo now comes forward in Orestes’ defense; Athena calls upon the Areopagites – the Athenian jurors – to vote; the votes for Orestes’ condemnation and for his acquittal are equal; Athena, as president, gives her vote for Orestes and acquits him. Father-right has triumphed over mother-right, the "gods of young descent," as the Furies themselves call them, have triumphed over the Furies; the latter then finally allow themselves to be persuaded to take up a new office in the service of the new order. [B]achofen believes at least as much as AEschylus did in the Furies, Apollo, and Athena; for, at bottom, he believes that the overthrow of mother-right by father-right was a miracle wrought during the Greek heroic age by these divinities.


It's easy to dismiss Engels, but the man was not stupid. I turned to him first off here to find out what we miss in our Modernity that he could remind us of in our loss. He turned to AEschylus. How cool. I was going to go for Xenophon, Oeconomia. (It's silly.) I found this instead.

Margaret Schabas, "Nature does nothing in vain," Daedalus. 22 March 2008.

The oeconomy of nature treated God as the supreme director, planner, and provider of nature's larder. In his popular tract Oeconomia naturae (1749), Linnaeus attended to the proportions of predator to prey, taking into account rates of propagation, distribution, and longevity. God had established perfect ratios across the entire organic realm, thus ensuring the provision of food for each of his offspring. Supply met demand and the market cleared, so to speak. Nevertheless, a wide array of hazards, such as an earthquake or a particularly dry season, could disrupt the balance. Linnaeus thus formulated more elaborate mechanisms to restore equilibrium, appealing to insects to expand their numbers and swoop in, like police, to restore law and order.

Until Linnaeus, the term oeconomia was mostly employed in the Aristotelian sense of household management. Linnaeus was the first to offer a nascent concept of an economy, of multiple producers and consumers in a state of exchange such that ends and means were aligned. Linnaeus's oeconomy of nature included not only plants and animals (including humans), but also the earth's crust and atmosphere, since organisms decay and excrete vapors. His account devised an early version of the hydrological cycle. It had been a given since antiquity that matter (the four elements), while constantly in flux, was conserved within the sublunar region. Linnaeus brought additional order to this totality by embedding organisms in an intricate system of exchange and equilibrium: "We see Nature resemble a well-regulated state in which every individual has his proper employment and subsistence, and a proper gradation of offices and officers is appointed to correct and restrain every detrimental excess."

Although Linnaeus subscribed to the Biblical account of creation, he attempted to fill in more of the story whereby long ago the individual pairs of each species had multiplied, migrated, and distributed themselves around the globe. In his view, the oeconomy of nature was completely full of life, with no waste or void. Needless to say, God would not tolerate the extinction of any one of his creations, nor admit of novelty, since this would imply that the original plan was less than perfect. Goethe, while director of the Finanzverwaltung for Weimar in the 1770s, echoed such sentiments when he declared that "nature is the perfect oeconomy." She did not waste her currency nor act in vain.

In the 1750s Francois Quesnay wrote that:

only nature could produce wealth, via the gifts of rain, sunlight, and soil in the agrarian sector. For every seed planted in the spring we reap two in the fall. "We strictly owe the net product of the soil, to Providence, and to the beneficence of the Creator, to his rain that beats down and changes it to gold." Manufacturing, by contrast, was sterile. It merely transformed leather into shoes but produced no genuine wealth or net product.

Economics is so far from anything I know about that I'll have to learn from zero. That's OK. I have a good idea of what I want to know and to convey to my audience. I'll go from book to book and pick up hints of where to follow a I go. For now I started with Engels, and made a tentative move to look again at Richard Dawkins on family. My point is to combat Ruth Benedict and the cultural relativists, among other things; and primarily in the first section, to defeat Gandhi. Thus, I have to set down some argument that family is more successful if it's nuclear and non-incestuous and non-cannibalistic. Easy? Not so much. There are very compelling arguments from Benedict. She's not stupid either. I'll do what I can and make my best case against these people in the hope that others will think I have some better idea, one worth fighting for. So I begin this chapter with "Povertarianism." I'll go from the broadly general to the narrowly specific. Over and over till I finish this chapter.

Meanwhile, I still have little details to fill in on the other chapters, like Louis-Auguste Blanqui coining the phrase la révolution industrielle in 1837, and a terrificly good quotation from Arnold Toynbee in 1884. Little things make the difference.

If that doesn't do anything for you, a friend sent this to amuse us. Sort of.

Great News for these

financially challenged times!

I found a local prostitute

who charges by the inch.

Obviously, I can't afford her,

but I thought you might

enjoy a cheap night out.