Thursday, August 30, 2012

Frontiers of Feminism


From Freud’s letter to his fiancée, 1885, describing the scene on the Champs-Elysées:
Die nobeln Damen gehen dort  mit einer Miene  spazieren, als wollten sie  die Existenz der Welt, ausser sich und ihren Männern,  leugnen  oder doch  gütigst übersehen.

 ~

(This will probably get me disinvited to high tea at Bryn Mawr, but c'est la vie.  As well be hanged  for a sheep  as a lamb.)


Meet the world’s richest woman!

Gina Rinehart, the world's richest woman

Just in case you were beginning to think rich people were deeply misunderstood and that they feel the pain of those who are less fortunate, here's the world's wealthiest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, with some helpful advice.
"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain," she said in a magazine piece. "Do something to make more money yourself -- spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working."Myess ... , let them eat cake.
Cake is for our kind.  Let them eat Twinkies.


Aloft she bears  her towering head,
filled with conceit  of her own pre-eminence
-- Fielding, Tom Jones (1749)


Rinehart made her money the old-fashioned way: She inherited it. Her family iron ore prospecting fortune of $30.1 billion makes her Australia's wealthiest person and the richest woman on the planet.
"There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire," she said by way of encouragement.
Just in case you were beginning to think rich people were deeply misunderstood and that they feel the pain of those who are less fortunate, here's the world's wealthiest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, with some helpful advice.
"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain," she said in a magazine piece. "Do something to make more money yourself -- spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working."


You… can’t … make…. this… stuff …  up ………….
You… can’t … make…. this… stuff …  up ………….

For her plebeian soulmate, click here:

And now for something completely different:
         In Praise of Dames

[Update 5 Sept 2012]
Can't make this stuff up, folks, so I won't even try.
She's back: World's richest woman makes case for $2-a-day pay

[Update 11 Sept]  Further Antoinettery:
Ann Romney doesn’t understand poverty
Someone who appreciated the plight of the poor would not have trivialized it with campy stories from her let’s-pretend past.


~

As background to one of his dreams, Sigmund Freud recounts (in Traumdeutung) a railway journey  he once endured;  appropriate, that, since literary depictions of Strangers-on-a-Train  invariably partake of the oneiric.
Anyhow, the train was packed, and he was obliged (with appropriate excuses) to insert himself into a cabin already occupied by a married couple.   They frostily snubbed him;  and the wife placed her umbrella on the window-seat across from her, so as to bar it to the intruder.
So far so good (bad);  but then Freud offers  a curious general psychosociological observation, of the sort that is rare in his writings:

Nach meinen Reiseerfahrungen  kennzeichnet ein so rücksichtslos übergreifendes Benehmen  Leute, die ihre Karte nicht  oder nur halb bezahlt haben.  Als der Konducteur kam, und ich mein teurer erkauftes Billet vorzeigte, tönte es aus dem Munde der Dame  unnahbar und wie drohend:  Mein Mann hat Legitimation.

(One of the symbols of sociopolitical corruption in America around a hundred years ago, was the railroad pass, handed out to curry favor with the influential.  Apparently Austro-Hungary had rather the same thing.)

With her, as with Gina Rinehart:  The men who, by their own efforts and sweat, make their first million, are often ornery enough; but their widows and heiresses  are insufferable.


~

We had thought to have done;  yet, unexpectedly,  some pages later, Freud recurs to this dream:  and this, in a very strange way.   The context is the unearthing of what is concealed in dreams -- more precisely, how the analyst may be led to the nub, when the patient
(a) upon being bidden to repeat the account of the dream, recounts a certain passage with transmogrified wording,
(b) suddenly recalls a passage of the dream  previously unrelated.
(In this case, the patient is himself.)

First, the not-so-strange part (apart from the strangeness  of recurring to it at all):

Es ist dies ein Reisetraum,  der Rache nimmt  an zwei unliebenswürdigen Reisegefährten, den ich  wegen seines  zum Teil  grobunflätigen Inhaltes  fast ungedeutet gelassen habe.

So:  This roughly corresponds to condition (b).
He goes on:

Das ausgelassene Stück  lautet:  Ich sage auf ein Buch von Schiller:  It is from … Korrigiere mich aber, den Irrtum selbst bemarkend, It is by … Der Mann bemarket hieraut  zu seiner Schwester:  “Er hat es ja richtig gesagt.”

So much is straightforward:  The dream-judgment jibes with that of any experienced translator;  and, for reasons that Freud outlines, the slight initial mistranslation  is quite understandable.

-- At this point, we should, on the face of it, remove the discussion to some other post, unconnected with the (ostensibly) political business  with which we began.    But in the Freudian spirit of  things connected to other things, we shall leave the thread lie.

Freud then recounts an incident from the vacation in England, connected with that train-ride, as, at the seaside,

ein reizendes kleines Mädchen  zu mir trat  und mich fragte:  Is that a starfish?  Is it alive?  Ich antwortete:  Yes he is alive;  schämte mich aber dann der Inkorrektheit, und wiederholte der Satz richtig.

(I.e., changing “he” to “it”.)  Followers of this blog  will readily understand,  that in our estimation, Freud, als Dolmetscher, was right the first time;  but that is probably (not necessarily, but probably) nothing to the point.

What is to the point … well, must be left to our death-bed;  some things are simply ‘compartmented’, so to speak.


Freud’s writings go deep, or at least they try to.  And generally, you can follow his thought, though the reasoning may fall short of compelling assent.  But at this point, he loses me completely (le miel sur les lèvres).   After an obvious remark about the two meanings of ‘gender’ (das Geschlechtswort / das Geschlechtliche), he states:

Dies ist allerdings  einer der Schlüssel zur Lösung des Traumes.


and then (to my bafflement) appends cases of  Mo ~ Ma, as in “Matter and Motion”.  The Spanish values of the respective vowels  would be masculine ~ feminine;  but there he loses me;  I find no such key syllable in the dream which, suitably switched-out, yields the Traumgedanke.  (Other ideas suggest themselves, yet these too proved fruitless.)  Uniquely, he leaves the solution as ‘an exercise for the reader’ (“der wird sich das Fehlende  leicht ergänzen können”).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Gluttony of Delicacy

I have been re-reading The Screwtape Letters, in which C S Lewis identifies a complexus of emotion and self-deception he calls the “gluttony of Delicacy”;  a Google search suggests he may himself have coined this trenchant term, though he is as likely to have translated from some medieval original (we invite our Latin readers to elucidate this).

A fine post on this subject can be found here:

http://danielhumphries.livejournal.com/10951.html

Lewis’ tart description, obviously taken from life, evoked an image in my own mind, of a scene witnessed at work this very week. 

*     *     *
~ Commercial break ~
We now return you to your regularly scheduled essay.


            In the crowded and tumultuous cafeteria at work, one has often occasion to witness the following fascinating tableau:  beneath a little cone of silence and private light, a woman stands, as though in a trance, before the soup-tureen, for minutes on end, gently ladling up a selection of the really best bits of some dish of mixed composition,  fishing these bits from the bottom  and then tipping the ladle at a particular angle, allowing the liquid to slowly run off like swill, and be left for -- well, for whatever;  for the dogs to eat, we suppose.   Ladling and straining, filtering, sifting,  periodically inspecting the results of her labors with a critical eye, as the fops and grandees at Versailles used to examine their morning stool;  until at length and at last, she can come up with a florilegium of only the really truly just tastymost little niblets.
            One needn’t be a queen or a grandee, to feel entitled like one.  In aspect, this particular specimen in no wise resembles that sylph-like princess, who tossed and turned the night, atop a pile of feather mattresses, sensing the pea beneath the bottommost.   Nor that dandy, who, asked how he flourished, replied:  “Suhh -- I grow thinnah and thinnah…”   This particular specimen is a 4x4 (or 4 x 4 x 4):  four feet tall, four feet wide, weighing around 400 pounds.  Mais nonobstant:   Somewhere, she senses, at the bottom of this fat pot, hidden by gross shreds of lesser vegetables, there lurks a pea, so sweet, so small, so tender,  that it is destined for her puckered appreciative lips, and for none others.   And so she filters, and fishes -- like some patient angler fishing for the wise old catfish at the bottom of the pond, who has never been caught, lo these forty years…

            From a distance, this might seem but small gain for so great a labor, since an expenditure of fewer than six seconds could grab you a plain ladle or two of the steaming nourishment, and you’re off to the races.   But she does not mind nor grudge this labor, for it is a labor of love:   of love,  she fancies, for those truly most tastiful little mini-nibbles,  which the coarser sensorium of her coworkers would be too blunt to appreciate.  And yet in truth, it is not such merely perceptual or sensual gluttony that moves her (a sin, but a base one, shared with our cousins the swine, thus one that gives the Devil but little  whereon to practice his craft), but rather the gluttony of Delicacy, in Lewis’ barbed phrase:  the gluttony of self-love, self-love in abundance, great whipped-creamy sensuous swirls of it:  of love,  not ultimately for the fruits of this earth and their savor:  but for her own dainty taste-buds, each one just as pretty as a peach;  and her own cultivated capacity to thrill at the unprecedented delicacy of her own sensations.
            And so she idles, and ladles;  sighing in disappointment when the previous minutes’ labors somehow fail to have finally and consistently winnowed it all down to an acceptable selection of the nonpareil (a disappointment for which she shall have to compensate herself later  with an extra couple of chocolates) -- then dumps it all back in, slowly stirs the pot, and patiently resumes her quest;

            -- while behind her, their stomachs growling, lungs groaning, eyeballs starting from their heads,
            her fellow-workers have collected in a lengthening, but stagnant and unadvancing queue;  standing and fidgeting, tearing their hair:  gasping;  teeth gnashing;  going blind;  praying for death...

[Randbemerkung: 
 Dr. S. Freud, late of Vienna,  imagined he had identified the root (or, as it were, rootlessness) of the Prickly Princess syndrome -- aber  Ausführung schenke ich mir.]

*
Für psychologisch tiefgreifende Krimis,
in pikanter amerikanischer Mundart,
und christlich gesinnt,
klicken Sie bitte hier:

*
[For further such delicacies, check this out:]

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vivent les Touaregs !


Seriously, folks -- not a satire, this time.   Irresistably excellent music videos from (pre-al-Qaeda) Azawad.

Teshumara, les guitares de la rébellion Touareg.

Excellent, hypnotic.  Chew some qat and watch:

A valid movement by Tuareg tribesmen, which achieved their goals rather by default, owing to a coup in Bamako, proclaimed the independence of Azawad.  It was quickly hijacked by the carpetbaggers of AQMI, who in turn invited-in the ineffable Boko Haram.  Already, by reports, four and a half million refugees have fled.  Al-Qaeda/takfiris, get your asses the hell out of Africa.

[Update 29 Aug 2012]  Kerry Kennedy target of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
http://www.lematindz.net/news/9252-un-groupe-daqmi-a-tente-denlever-kerry-kennedy-a-tindouf.html
La fille de Robert F. Kennedy qui conduit depuis quelques jours une mission d’information au Sahara occidental pour le compte de la Centre Robert Kennedy pour la Justice et les droits e l’homme a failli être enlevée par un groupe d’Aqmi.

Obama/Pope Invasion Plot Unmasked !!!


The blogosphere is ringing with increasingly frenzied reports of a planned invasion of Lubbock, Texas, by U.N. troops, led by the President himself on a white (! O, the irony!) charger.   Even the puling, sniveling-liberal New York Times (note codeword: New… York !!!) has finally had to admit as much:

Official Stirs Texas City With Talk of Rebellion
The county’s top elected official, County Judge Tom Head, made an appearanceon a local television station to generate support for the tax increase. He said he was expecting civil unrest if President Obama is re-elected, and that the president would send United Nations forces into Lubbock, population 233,740, to stop any uprising.
He is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N.,” Mr. Head said on Fox 34 last week. “O.K., what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst-case scenario: civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”
And if the president did send in United Nations troops, Mr. Head continued, “I don’t want ’em in Lubbock County. O.K. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carriers and say, ‘You’re not coming in here.’ And the sheriff, I’ve already asked him. I said, ‘You gonna back me?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’ll back you.’
“Well, I don’t want a bunch of rookies back there,” Mr. Head said. “I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me.”
Mr. Head, a Republican who serves as the county’s emergency management director and presides over the commissioner’s court, made international headlines.

The only flaw in this analysis is that, um, the President, as such, does not have any actual U.N. troops at his disposal, unless he is somehow hiding some in the West Wing.  Even the United Nations  barely has troops at their disposal, apart from a ragtag band of hapless untrained ill-armed Africans.   And even these it typically fears to use, as witness the stirring rise of the self-proclaimed newly independent people’s Islamic popular Muslimist emirate of free and autarkic Azawad, whose doughty handful of tribal irregulars  bid defiance to the effete-hankie crumpet-munching ladies-debate-club on the East River.

Such awkward facts have led a deluded few to doubt the Absolute Truth of these Lubbockion allegations.   But the crack news team at the World of Dr Justice has nonetheless discovered -- in yet another exclusive scoop for WDJ -- that all that piffle about “U.N. troops” and what have you (which, really, shouldn’t fool a child) is a just a cover story for the REAL invasion plan:  a Democratico-Papistical conspiracy of the first magnitude.  And the insertion force is none other than the notoriously lethal and brutal Swiss Guards !!!  To be commanded by the Pontiff himself, riding at their van in the armored Popemobile !!!!!

The invasion force, drilling somewhere on the campus of Bryn Mawr

Buttressing the case (by now iron-clad), our HUMINT forces  have detected mad cackling laughter  emanating from the attics of the Vatican.

Our research staff has further discovered that the whole plot was hatched as part of the Riemann Conspiracy;  details available to our paying customers only.
For the inside scoop, enter your password, your passcode, and the even digits of your Social Security Number, and send us five hundred dollars in small-denomination nonconsecutive unmarked bills (ten-percent discount for readers of the Executive Intelligence Review);  then click here:


Monday, August 27, 2012

FLASH: Apple Declares Bankruptcy



In a surprise move,  Apple today declared moral bankruptcy (financially, of course, they are doing quite well):

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/apple-seeks-order-blocking-sale-of-samsung-products/?ref=global-home

This, in addition to socking Samsung for a billion bucks.

Pride goeth before .... well, an appeal, at any rate.

[More here:
 http://worldofdrjustice.blogspot.com/2012/08/apple-vs-samsung.html ]

[Update 20 IX 12]  Too funny:

Welcome to the new world of Apple Maps that greeted iPhone and iPad users when they downloaded the highly anticipated update to the consumer giant's mobile software platform, iOS 6.

Apple Inc's home-grown Maps feature was introduced with much fanfare in June by Apple's software chief Scott Forstall and is a direct challenge to the same service offered by ally-turned-rival Google Inc.

But the app is already facing criticism from users globally for a number of geographical errors, missing information and because it lacks features that made Google Maps so popular, including public transit directions, comprehensive traffic data or street view pictures.

Apple Maps has replaced Google Maps, which is no longer available on iOS 6.

Many users who downloaded Apple's iOS 6 software, released on Wednesday, took to Twitter and online forums to express their frustration at the glitches.

"The people who thought the world was flat were more accurate cartographers than Apple Maps," @RayneBradley said on Twitter.

"Apple Maps also have errors in business listings. I went to call a local taxi driver and it was a taxidermist (seriously)," said @TomDavenport on Twitter.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the company launched the new service knowing it was a major initiative.

"We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get," she said. "We're also working with developers to integrate some of the amazing transit apps in the App Store into iOS Maps."

"We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better," she added.

The criticism comes as Apple's iPhone 5 hits stores around the globe. The iPhone 5 comes pre-loaded with the new iOS 6 software and Maps.

Users have created a Tumblr blog sarcastically dubbed "The Amazing iOS 6 Maps" where many have posted screen shots of the errors (theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com/). Pictures showed the Norwegian town of Leknes in the Norwegian sea, the entire city center of Stratford-upon-Avon is labeled as a hospital.

Some of the errors have even irked politicians. Irish Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said he was surprised to discover that Airfield - a 35-acre estate with working farm and café in center of his constituency in Dundrum, on the outskirts of Dublin - has been labeled with the image of an aircraft.

He said this could be dangerous for pilots and suggested in a statement that Apple use the image of "a cow, a goat, a sheep, a flower" instead, and that an "aircraft is an entirely inappropriate flight of imagination".

Users in Asia were surprised to see two sets of the disputed islands known by Japan as the Senkaku and by China as the Diaoyu. Some joked that this was Apple's effort at providing a diplomatic solution to Japan and China, both of which claim the islands.

I've never really understood this "Cloud-based" mantra;  at my workplace, it is used in a way that makes no sense at all.  Is Apple saying that, say, what country Paris is in, should be decided by a consensus of user opinions?  -- Well if so, my ten billion penguin friends  are about to weigh in with the information that the Center of the Universe is in Antarctica ...


*     *     *
~ Commercial break ~
Relief for beleaguered Nook lovers!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled essay.

*     *     *

[Update 30 Nov 2012]
http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2012/11/itunes_11_it_s_time_for_apple_s_horrible_bloated_program_to_die.html

Physics and Physicality

[This piece dates from a decade or so ago, when our family was living in Princeton.  It is scheduled to appear in a book of essays, Princeton Follies, expected to be released this autumn, along with another wicked bit of satire ("Poetry Alive and Well in Princeton"), reporting on the social scene in the Micawber bookstore on Nassau Street.  So herewith, a sneak peak.
Oh and -- authors?  Don't bother to sue;  Dr Justice is a yachtless pauper.]



PHYSICS AND PHYSICALITY

            This afternoon  Rebecca Goldstein kicked off the reading season at Micawber Books, presenting her new novel Particles of Light.  She first came to the world's attention in 1983 with The Mind-Body Problem, a title as witty and apt as any in this century, set in the world of Princeton University and the IAS.  I read it shortly after it came out in paperback, having heard neither of book nor author, but intrigued enough by the title on the spine to pull it from the crammed shelf of a Cambridge bookstore, whereupon the cover seals the fate of any male reader who gets that far: a captivating nude painted by Balthus.  I had not at that time heard of Balthus either, but I had heard of nudes, and swiftly inserted this one into the inconspicuous interior a stack of blameless scientific reading and headed for the cashier's.


            (Ah, why not confess it all, since St. Peter knows it anyway.  It was in that very Cambridge bookstore, on that very day, browsing, that I happened upon, and was tempted to buy, but did not buy, a slender overpriced volume, by some trendy overrated litterateur, called: Spanking the Maid.)

            The book turned out to have all the novelistic virtues – funny, good plot, good dialogue, a heart.  But what really intrigued me was that whenever (as frequently) she referred to physics, philosophy, or linguistics, three areas in which I had some preparation, she got things exactly right, not just in the factual sense  but in the sense of the ethos of the field.  (She has herself a Princeton doctorate in philosophy, and her husband is a physicist.)
A few months later, idly wandering through the stately  and, for its provincial location, quite impressive  Worcester Art Museum, I came face to face with the actual painting, very much life-size, that graces the book's cover in miniature:  it was as surprising as though, opening your front door to get the milk bottles, you were confronted with a Botticelli in the flesh.  This was the subjective correlative:  The Mind-Body Problem was an icon of our age.

Goldstein followed up this beautiful debut  with something less good, and with a dreadful title, The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind;  then with something very much less good, The Dark Sister;  and then a collection of short stories, Strange Attractors,  that  in places  descends to the level of a Harlequin romance:  "His eyes were large and liquid and luminous – too luminous.  His nose is of an exquisite Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations”;  this written by "a governess and parson's daughter" for whom "a volume of headiest poetry is debauchery enough". ("Dreams of the Dangerous Duke"; sic.)  The books are progressively more seriously marred by what we may call the Pornography of Intelligence, consisting of gurgled tributes to the purported brilliance of someone (generally female, or the admirer of one) who does not actually ever get around to demonstrating that brilliance on the printed page.  As:  "And I told them of her meteoric rise to a brilliant, though as yet anonymous Fame;  of how her slender book of poetry had been printed, through the aid and connections of the Duke…. `Were you not the greatest of living Poets,' the Duke had told her, `you would have been either a mathematician or a musician.’ " (Or a philosopher, or a physicist, or a frigging concert pianist,  or the first violinist in space…)  A few years after this junk was published, she was given a MacArthur Genius Award, too belated to be an appropriate recognition of The Mind-Body Problem (especially as, unlike the Nobel, the MacArthur is meant to catch geniuses before they fully sprout), thus perhaps a sort of consolation prize for the later books, little read and ill-reviewed.  Her newest was sadly panned in last week's New York Times;  and it was with a certain foreboding that I went to her scheduled talk.


But that was to underestimate the force of the publicity machine, by whose exertions  the celebrated intercelebrate  and further inflate their celebration:  the book had drooling blurbs from the likes of Steven Pinker,  and even from the often acerbic Richard Dawkins, Michiko Kaku-caca be damned.   Nor was there any relaxation in the ubiquitous tensile tightly-inter-self-satisfied Princeton Smile  among those coolly, watchfully,  sipping the chablis with their thin lips --  a mannerism as catching as coughing or yawning, so that  fight as you might  soon your own face aches.  (Among the cozy Micawber bookstore personnel who put on the show, this rictus is widened and frozen to a Full Tooth aperture, so that bilabials actually receive labiodental articulation.)  The author herself was as yet mysteriously unseen ("Is she here yet?" “Have you seen her?”), which only increased the buzz.

Somehow I had pictured her as greying and getting stocky, as befits a philosopher of science.  Her jacket photo on Woman of Mind could be of a woman with nothing but mascara between herself and middle age, and who-knows how outdated that photo was at the time.  So I was unprepared for the vision of loveliness which, appearing out of nowhere, stepped demurely to the podium.  She wore a little bit of a thing of an off-olive-green dress, a hue inherently unbecoming, so that it could only be due to her own beauty that it so fetchingly complimented the equally strange tint of her hair – sort of a blonde that had become sun-tanned, which the sun had sweetened to honey with a hint of amber, to which poets despair of ever affixing a name.   That this was no natural color (matching neither the black of her earlier jacket photos  nor the brown of her current one)  no more detracted from its enchantment   than that the Venus on that half-shell  is a thing of paint.  Over her thin shoulders was draped  a thinner champagne sweater,  which soon – my heart stopped – dropped, with the drama of an ecdysiast  shedding her entire sheath.  Her head, like her body, is remarkably slender;  perhaps her brain became more brilliant as it was miniaturized, like microchips.

Much more than the usual author on a book tour, doing signings in a Barnes & Noble in is-this-Cleveland, she really could have schmoozed up this audience and flattered its yen for the inside dope, having written after all  the Great Princeton Novel, anyhow better than Fitzgerald's.  But all she said was, "I'm just going to read," and proceeded to do so – Storytime, children -- starting from page one, which consists of the single sentence, set proudly by itself, "The essential thing is that I hate her". 
(A pause, to let sink in, the bewildering-bewildered   disappointment of this.)
She proceeded to recite, in a delicious feline voice, the musings of a physicist (I think he turns out to be a ghost;  shades of the Dangerous Duke) on how he hates people, and how he isn't interested in things, though being really quite precocious, a fact dwelled on in extenso – not an auspicious strategy for drawing-in an audience, though ultimately, she told us afterwards, it's a love story.  (Having known a few physicists pretty well, I am baffled at how very far off this is.)   So far as I can tell, it's another bodice-ripper, but with enough glitzy glancing references to quantum mechanics  to give it what passes in our age for gravitas.

Ah, but enough – why satirize  or even summarize.  She said this and that; the crowd murmured, and dispersed;  as yet another shovelful of sadness  is tossed upon the coffin of my hopes.

It is evident that I read her first book one-sidedly, too exclusively emphasizing the former conjunct.  Since then, she has chosen increasingly to develop the body half of the dialectic.  And who should scant that?  The first novel was written, perhaps, by mere necessity; the latter are the works of one who can do anything she darn well pleases.  And this is what she pleases to do.


[© 2010,  David Justice]

Sunday, August 26, 2012

“Porn” Posts


An ever-popular category among our essays  are the ones with “porn” in the title.  No no, nothing naughty:  the use is metaphorical.  As, “physics porn” denotes the tawdry, flashy, empty display of random razzle-dazzle factoids, intellectual junk-food for the public.
So, assuming that most of you are by now back from church, we offer this chaste selection of quotations;  for the entire essay, close the door and click …

For some reason, folks keep finding this site by search on the term ‘funporn’, even though the only thing nekkid around here is the penguins, who are in a state of pre-Lapsarian innocence and hence may parade thus unattired. 

“Top-of-the-mountain” -- “Triple Theory” -- This is the language of People magazine, or of Oprah.  And indeed, it directly develops, that like these, which cater to the self-caressing, victim-licking, pruriently empathetic downswirl of our current culture, the present article (nestling in the venerable New Yorker like a maggot in meat) is interested in its fifteen-minute-famous philosopher, not as a thinker, but as a freak.

Crystallography, cosmology, planetology, low-temperature physics, materials science  -- each boasts a clique of adepts  initiated into the Masonic mysteries of their own particular discipline (which alas, by its very success and progress, threatens to fragment further).

Oh, Nietzsche by all means, that self-imagined Übermensch in a paper cape.  Not so good for your mother-issues, however …

Our favorite pre-Conciliar amateur philosopher  and two-fisted gat-toting private detective …

As a prophylactic against any future such claims, bear in mind this simple example.  Consider the position of women in Iran; and know that Farsi has gender-neutral pronouns (the same word goes for ‘he/she', or for ‘his/her’).

"It's a bird!"  "It's Balloon Boy!"   "It's the HI-I-IGGS  BOSON !!!"

… the flat and mindless use of supposedly numinous numbers on “Lost” (along with the downspiral of that initially eye-pleasing series  into rank incoherence)

“How a piece of journeyman work is turned into patently junk science”

our funny humble friend the echidna (think:  hedgehog with a proboscis)

Note that all penguins in these videos  are duly married and care for their babies.

… these ultra-hot Rising-Sun girlbands

Feminist, and feminine -- get it?  She’s got it all!  (Whether that combo would appeal to any actual guy, we leave to the reader;  but it is perfect for admiring yourself in a mirror.)

Warning:  To view this, you must be married, over 49, and hold a Ph.D.

…. all of which goes to show that, as shown by Principle P of the Binding Theory, the Nicene Creed is true.  Down to the last detail.

Jemand ist eben jetzt in dieser Weise hierher gekommen:
        porno fuer intellectuelle
Sie irren sich, mein Herr!

the tendency of some neuroscientists to leave their last  and to issue pronunciamentos that teeter far beyond any base of evidence, straining after shock-value

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Have I been too harsh?
Anent the miscreants, not nearly harsh enough.  But any unintentional carom effect upon the honor of the grand old weekly, is to be regretted.
Let us therefore express our profound conviction, that the piece in question was approved for publication  during the August doldrums when all the senior staff were away in Maine.   It was approved by the doorman, and probably written by some homeless guy, who is still laughing.

“If you want me,” says Voltaire, bearing off a large plate of sandwiches, “I shall be in the innermost room… “ (a moan and a shiver passes among the assembled ladies) “... on a porcelain throne ... disinventing God”.

The books are progressively more seriously marred by what we may call the Pornography of Intelligence, consisting of gurgled tributes to the purported brilliance of someone (generally female, or the admirer of one) who does not actually ever get around to demonstrating that brilliance on the printed page.

[Update 30 November 2012]  Further attestations of this extended use of ‘porn’ in the sense of ‘prurient interest of any sort’.  Re post-earthquake Aquila:

Italian officials have kept promising to restore the city to its former self, but fewer than a dozen buildings have so far been repaired among the hundreds damaged in the center, which is a virtual ghost town. Never a tourist mecca, despite its pretty churches and squares, L’Aquila was a working town of some 75,000, home to a university and to many families with local roots dating back to the Middle Ages.
These days, tourists arrive to gawk at the rubble. Ruin porn has become the new local industry.

Re pushback against the bloated claims of neuroscientists:

As a journalist and cultural critic, I applaud the backlash against what is sometimes called brain porn, which raises important questions about this reductionist, sloppy thinking and our willingness to accept seemingly neuroscientific explanations for, well, nearly everything.