After taking her Semiotics final, she reported, while dreaming, deconstructing the act of waking up, all within a dream! "Take a Freudian stand on that!"
or, The List as Genre:
2. A nice, crisp stapler.
3. Gift certificates to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.
4. Silk boxers. (I love the feel!)
5. Audio tapes or CDs for learning Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Classical Chinese.
6. A large "My Dad is my Boss" bumper sticker.
7. A large "My wife is a 4.0 Ph.D. student at Kent State University" bumper sticker.
8. 0.5 mm pencil lead.
9. Bookends (and not the S&G album).
10. Poetry on CD. (Already have Milton, Spenser, and Gilgamesh.) Need Keats, other Romantics, Eliot, Yeats, and El Bardo.
11. Good reading lists for the oriental classics.
12. New pair of winter gloves with leather palms. (My present pair is holy and thus sacrosanct.) 13. Cheez-its.
14. Goose Island Orange Creme Soda of Chicago (the gold standard of orange cremes!).
15. A unique ornament for our first Christmas tree together.
16. Philosophy-related children's books that I can read to Marsha in bed.
17. A nice frame for a good picture of my kitty cats to put on my desk at work.
18. Light therapy.
19. Two buckets (for the next time we meet with a certain customer).
20. A free subscription to The Drudge Report.
21. A paid subscription to First Things or The Economist.
22. Orange-accented chocolate. All kinds.
23. Unusual beers.
24. Nice set of wine glasses.
25. A guide or self-help book for overcoming fleeting obsessions.
26. A baby name book (strictly for future reference, of course).
27. A bold, classy tie.
I am taking a break from Mr. Aflaton, and reading something that I was supposed to read many years ago at Thanksgiving, but somehow never got around to doing: Il Paradisio.. (Instead, I only read the Purgatorio and the Inferno for Daniel James Sundahl, before getting deathly sick and barely finishing the semester.) I see now what I have missed. Of course, perhaps it's that the Sinclair translation, its notes, the facing Italian, and my general background by now make for a rather more illuminated reading.
e forse sua sentenza è d'altra guisa
che la voce non suona, ed esser puote
con intenzion da non esser derisa
My office is next door to a single-user men's restroom. The air is often pretty foul, and the fan is very noisy. Anyways, this afternoon, about 4 p.m., I got up and went to use it. At first, I thought that Mr. Last had just forgotten to flush. So I flushed--only to find that there was a huge turd lodged sideways in the bowl, with little hope of budging on its own. Did I say a big turd? I mean one big log. This thing must have had tree rings. It was about 3 inches in diameter and about a foot long. Skeptically, I flushed again. The water just washed around. I flushed a third time. No movement.
At that point, I was giggling silly and tears were streaming down my cheeks. As this was clearly a faggot of historic, if not geologic dimensions, I set off in search of a digital camera. Returning, I flushed three more times, and snapped three pics. Finally, with my journalistic urges satisfied, I took a plunger to it, wacking the stick as with an ax. It broke up, sorta, but the stench was horrible. I wretched, and contributed to the mess my string of bile with bits of single with pickle onion only. I flushed a seventh time, and thanked God for the miracle of plumbing.
I like to repost this poem when winter sets in (or else to email it to the cast of friends). It is, for my money, one of Tolkien's overlooked gems:
The summer slowly     in the sad forest
waned and faded.     In the west arose
winds that wandered     over warring seas.
Leaves were loosened     from labouring boughs:
fallow-gold they fell,     and the feet buried
of trees standing     tall and naked,
rustling restlessly     down roofless aisles,
shifting and drifting.
The shining vesel
of the sailing moon     with slender mast,
with shrouds shapen     of shimmering flame,
uprose ruddy     on the rim of Evening
by the misty wharves     on the margin of the world.
With winding horns     winter hunted
in the weeping woods,     wild and ruthless;
sleet came slashing,     and slanting hail
from glowering heaven     grey and sunless,
whistling whiplash     whirled by tempest.
The floods were freed     and fallow waters
sweeping seaward,     swollen, angry,
filled with flotsam,     foaming, turbid,
passed in tulmult.     The tempest died.
Frost descended     from far mountains
steel-cold and still.     Stony-glinting
icehung evening     was opened wide,
a dome of crystal     over deep silence,
over windless wastes     and woods standing
as frozen phantoms     under flickering stars.
Marsha and I checked out the Hyde Park Grill this evening off 271. It was very good. I was favorably impressed by the atmosphere and very impressed by the selection of breads and the quality of the meat. Not altogether unreasonable, either.
Overhead: "I could eat at El Campesino three times a week. It's the new Wendy's."
I visited the Collegian website tonight. Apparently, my alma mater is offering a course in Arabic. It's an honors class (1 credit) where people learn about the culture and learn the alphabet. Very interesting.
I went on to read the op-ed page of this little paper which seemed once so big in Mecca, now so far away. There is juvenile energy here. It strikes me as, well, strange, other, and desirable. I wonder now what some people--people I really respect--really thought of my pseudo-Socratic columns in 1999. In memory, they are fond. In fact, they may have been much worse. Jacob tried to tell me so.
Perhaps there is food for thought in this. Perhaps not. Can I yet do no more than to reminisce about the souls that I have met, the profs taken, and even books read some years ago? Am I more than the sum of all that I have bought, meaning to read? Or of the logoi begun and yet not followed?
You know, it is possible that Hillsdale ruined me.
Who are you?
You know, I used to really dig Babylon 5. I knew every line. Jonathan and I used to quote them to each other to describe everything and everyone. Rachel was Delenn. The elf-woman from outer space.
The real world?
Perhaps. Even the wisest cannot say.
Some of my friends may remember how I once wrote a graphic short story in which I laid rather bare my "girl problems." I meant to follow it up with a story about the "God problems." I started many times, but it was too much work. Too much responsibility. For what is dearer than the soul? I tried to talk to my parents about God and love and philosophy. I tried to explain to them that I needed to pursue the logos to the bitter end, even if that end was Lucretius, Chaos, and ancient Night. I tried to reason with them, and to apologize for absolutes. I tried to make them see that if they loved me, they would understand that I could not shrink from tearing the curtain, even if discomforting to them. Do you love me, Peter? You know that I love you, but am I just one of the sheep?
It seems important that I revisit such restless thoughts with you, my friends, from time to time. For who would lose, though full of pain . . . Yes, there is certainly a danger of self-pity, but cannot self-pity be something quite other than the apprehension that mentem mortalia tagunt, that every man hangs by the cross of himself, that sapience increases dolor?
My sisters (teenagers) came up this weekend and we ran around Cleveland, visting the art museum and bookstores. Three half-prices and two Border's outlets, to be exact.
My sisters bought 39 books between them. Most were Christmas presents for their friends and family, but . . . still. I was a little shocked when I looked around near epic poetry and started picking Spenser, Ovid, and other people out a basket on the floor and full of what looked like twentysomething books waiting to be shelved. My sister interrupted me and explained that they were actually hers.
And should I at your harmless innocence
Melt, as I do, yet publick reason just,
Honour and empire with revenge enlarged,
By conquering this new world, compels me now
To do what else, though damned, I should abhor.
Paradise Lost, III.387-391.
This particular passage is not so very far from the speech of the Cyclops to his ram in Odyssey IX.
I didn't realize that this was in Plato. As one who is wont to juxtapose Socrates with Christ, I find the passage haunting. What is so very fascinating is that Plato does not seize upon this opportunity to foreshadow, dramatically, Socrates' own very different martyrdom in the sufferings and death of the just man:
To the best of my ability and if such is the nature of the two, it becomes an easy matter, I fancy, to unfold the tale of the sort of life that awaits each. We must tell it, then; and even if my language is somewhat rude and brutal, you must not suppose, Socrates, that it is I who speak thus, but the those who will commend injustice above justice. What they will say is this: that such being his disposition, the just man whill have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified [anaschinduleuthesetai], and so will learn his lesson that not to be but to seem just is what we ought to desire.
Republic, 361e-362a (Paul Shorey, trans.).
I just finished my first "deep" read-through of Aristotle's Metaphysics. I used the Loeb edition, followed along in the Greek, made numerous marginalia, etc. I guess that I hadn't realized just how much space he devotes to the existence of numbers. All in all, three things come to mind:
(1) Avicenna once said that he read the Metaphysics forty times before understanding it. Well, if he meant complete comprehension, I can sympathize.
(2) The next time I read the Metaphysics, I will bring Averroes and St. Thomas along . . . for a longer ride.
3) Meditating on this stretch of Aristotle drives home to me my inadequate familiarity with the later Plato, especially the lesser dialogues, and with Plotinus.
I find it all very interesting. On the one hand, what's wrong with a strong king? :) On the other hand, a Clinton tenure would be downright ironic given the ex-President's role in violating the U.N. Charter with the use of force in the Balkans.
Epicurus is truly the classic of the critique of religion. Like no other, his whole philosophy presupposes the fear of superhuman forces and of death as the danger threatening the happiness and repose of man . . .
The Enlightenment understands this happy peace, this tranquility in a fundamentally different way from the original Epicureanism—it understands "tranquility" in such a way that the civilization, the subjection, the improvement of nature, and particularly of human nature, becomes indispensable for its sake. While the battle of the Epicureans against the terrifying delusion of religion was aimed preeminently at the terror of this delusion, the Enlightenment aimed primarily at the delusoriness itself.; regardless of whether the religious ideas are terrifying or comforting—qua delusions, they cheat men of the real goods, of the enjoyment of the real goods; they steer men away from the real "this world" to an imaginary "other world," and thus seduce them into letting themselves be cheated of the possession and enjoyment of the real "this worldly" goods by the greedy clergy, who "live" from these delusions. . . .
The latest and purest expression of this is that the religious ideas are rejected not because they are terrifying but because they are desirable, because they are comforting: religion is not a tool which man has forged for dark reasons in order to torment himself, in order to make life unnecessarily difficult, but rather a way chosen for very obvious reasons, in order to escape the terror and the hopelessness of life, which cannot be eradicated by any progress of civilization, in order to make his life easier. A new kind of fortitude, which forbids itself every flight from the horror of life into comforting delusion, which accepts the eloquent description of the misery of man without God as proof of the goodness of its cause, reveals itself eventually as the ultimate and purest ground for the rebellion against the tradition of the revelation. This new fortitude, being the willingness to look man's forsakenness in the face, being the courage to welcome the terrible truth, being toughness against the inclination of man to deceive himself about his situation, is probity. . . . This atheism with a good conscience, or even with a bad conscience, differs precisely by its conscientiousness, its morality, from the conscienceless atheism at which the past shuddered; the "Epicurean," who became an "idealist" in the persecution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who, instead of being willing to "live in hiding" safely, learned to fight and die for honor and truth, finally becomes the "atheist" who rejects for reasons of conscience the belief in God. Thus it becomes clear that this atheism, compared not only with the original Epicureanism but also with the generally "radical" atheism of the age of Enlightenment, is a descendent of the tradition grounded in the Bible; it accepts the thesis, the negation of the Enlightenment, on the basis of a way of thinking which became possible only through the Bible.
Leo Strauss, Philosophy and Law, Eve Adler, trans. (SUNY, 1995), p. 35-37.
For the religion with which medieval philosophy has to do is revealed religion; the problem posed by revelation is the problem of medieval philosophy, to such an extent that revelation is constitutive for medieval philosophy. The situation of philosophy was altered from the ground up by the reality of the revelation.
Ibid., p. 57.
Since the recognition of the authority of the revelation is prior to philosophizing and since the revelation lays claim to man totally, philosophizing is now possible only as commanded by the revealed law. It therefore no longer lies in the discretion of the man suited to philosophizing whether he will philosophize or not, in such a way that we will have to draw the natural consequences of his discretion and nothing more; it is now no longer undetermined whether or the philosopher is appointed to philosophize by himself or by an authority (cf. Plato, Apology 28d); and it is no longer an obscure, enigmatic, multifarious admonition by which a god summons to philosophy (cf. Plato, Ap. 21a-b and Phaedo 60e-61a); but rather the one God obliges the men suited to it, by a clear unequivocal, simple command of his revealed law, to philosophize. This is the teaching of even and precisely "the most radical thinkers" of the Middle Ages, above all of Averroes himself. Out of the new situation of philosophizing, the obligation by revelation, there emerges a new problem for the philosophers, their accountability to revelation.
Ibid., p. 59.
Philosophy and Law is an illuminating read--both for what it says about Averroes, Maimonides, and relation between the eternity-of-the-world issue and prophecy, and for what it says about Strauss himself. I should blog quite a few more quotes from it . . .
I close my eyes now and all I can see are the frozen snows of Mt. Fuji, the cemetary at Kitakawa hill, crowds in Piazza Navone at dusk, and the cobblestones of Durham at my feet.
I am also working on a Sunday. There is no rest for the wicked--not even a chance to read philosophy!
I feel not unlike Hamlet. The time is out of joint.
The secrets of the hoary Deep--a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension; where length, breadth, and height,
And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold
Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise
Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.
Paradise Lost, II.890-897
I went to the dermatologist the other day and had two cysts removed from the top of my scalp. The resident made an incision and slowly popped out two white bean-like masses. The supervising doctor was very excited, at one point, exclaiming, "It's a boy!," as the first cyst was coming out. (The nurse commented, "We like cysts.") I guess they were above-average in terms of size. A very interesting experience. . . .
My recent post on Hillsdale as Avalon has garnered a few emails. Apparently College Friend No. 1 struck a chord. I got this response in the mail the other day:
Poor guy. I know how he feels. I don't know who he is, but I think he is Hillsdale Everyman. The only drawback to Hillsdale being the best of times and the worst of times is that leaving it becomes such a painful farewell to the land of our emotional birth. And sometimes, I, too look wistfully up the oval towards the end of the semester, almost thinking I could see the Wiley of the Apocalypse thundering down the path towards me, almost thinking I could hear his primal scream marking the end to the semester's angst, and almost feeling the breeze as his heronic legs pumped wildly by, wishing he could carry my spirit away, like the horsemen of legend.
How about we open a Hillsdale alumni cemetery, with the plots divided according to class year, and special monuments for the RA's. Our selling point could be "The Ultimate Reunion--Eternity!"
Hillsdale, it seems, has an odd effect on many of its alumni. For four years, we literally sat around and, like Socrates and the gang, talked about virtue all day--well, at least after we had stopped talking about Kappas or Waterman girls. :) Granted, the school did lack things. Latin and calculcus weren't compulsory. We didn't read enough Thomas Aquinas in the core clases. And the reality of the polity was always a little short of its catalogue. (The "Spenser and the 16th Century" class was never offered, for example.) But the 'Dale was, nonetheless, a really hard place to leave.
Well, after two days of mind-numbing ear pain, I have been healed! In fact, I now feel almost as good
I left Marsha with her comp and rhet homework. For the afternoon at least.
I drove all over the Cleveland Metro area,
checking out the big houses,
John Zubal's was closed, but I did manage to visit the two remaining Half Prices in the Cleveland area--so now I've been to all four (yeah!). I think that maybe when my sisters come up, I'll try to take them to all four in one afternoon. (Or maybe that's too much?) Anyways, today I sold about four boxes of my old books and found several interesting new books: Cost Management: Accounting and Control, Heracles' Bow: Essays on the Rhetoric and the Poetics of the Law (White),The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Genesis(Leo Strauss), the Wippel and Wolter Medieval Philosophy sourcebook, a fascinating sourcebook by Sebastian de Grazia entitled Masters of Chinese Political Thought, and Majid Fakhry's book on Averroes. All in all, a very good run!
I also picked up our fax machine (now repaired, so please send us faxes, everyone!), and identified a very nice suit at Jos. A. Bank. Finally, I stopped at the liquor store. Have Kelpie to share with family in near future. Also, I have discovered the joys of Chambord! Sex on the beach, here we come!
BTW, has anyone read the Kurazi?
Or let my Lamp at midnight hour,
Be seen in som high lonely Towr,
Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,
With thrice great Hermes, or unsphear
The spirit of Plato to unfold
What Worlds, or what vast Regions hold
The immortal mind that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook
My family thinks I just need more calcium and magnesium. . . .
As a part of Dodteye's and Marsha-Nini's enduring saga of madcap summer weekend trips, I am pleased to bring you the chapter about the trip to Dayton. First of all, there were the books. We went to three separate half-prices, and got some good shit. Like a Marquette U. Press edition of Henry on Ghent's questions on the Will, and an audio CD of selections from the Faerie Queen for $3.50. We also went to Books & Company, one of the greatest of all bookstores, where I got Bates' book on Aristotle's Best Regime. And I read Carl Schmitt's The Concept of the Political.
After we did the books, we did the peeps. Marsha's people, to be precise. Enjoyed spicy crackers, Polish-Baltic-Hungarian-German cuisine at the Amber Rose of Dayton, and a cool pool at a motel, and Guiness at the Thirsty Scholar. Had some good conversations, drank some wine. Everybody had a good time. Except you?
I didn't realize how many books I really have. I need some people to take some of these off my hands. Perhaps I can trade books for (more) beer (?).
If Frances hits, it could be the most potent two-hurricane combination to hit a single state in at least a century of record-keeping. Frances is as strong as Charley, but forecasters said it could become a Category 5 with winds of 156 mph or higher.
Hurricane-force winds extended about 80 miles from Frances' center, making it about twice the width of Charley and increasing the possibility for damage.
The last time two major hurricanes hit Florida in rapid succession was 1950. Hurricane Easy struck Tampa around Sept. 4 of that year and Hurricane King hit Miami six weeks later on Oct. 17. They were Category 3 storms.
A Theological Interpretation of American Order
PART ONE: Statement of Crux
I. The Claims of Faith.
II. The Nature of Contemporary Politics.
III. The Election of 1980 and Its Aftermath.
PART TWO: Antecedents from the Middle Ages
I. The City of God.
A. After the Fall of Jerusalem
B. Ecclesiology in the ante-Nicene Fathers.
C. Constantine: the Emperor as Friend of God.
D. Augustine: the heavenly City Survives the Earthly City.
E. Justinian, Clovis, and Charlemagne: rival visions of royal and imperial power.
F. Muhammad: combining religion and politics in the mass movement.
II. The Papacy.
A. Mission of the Anglo-Saxons: Christianity from outside the Latin West.
B. The Papal Revolution: Investiture, Offices, and the Dictates Papae.
C. Great Schism and Crusades: A new idea of the West.
D. Lateran IV: The Compromise.
II. The Fall of the Church and the Rise of the State.
A. Aristotelianism: Aristotle through Judeo-Arabic to Aquinas.
B. Boniface VIII and Marsilius of Padua: the rejection of political Augustinianism.
D. Florence: The Renaissance and the School of the Ages.
IV. The Reformation.
A. Previous Reform Movements and the Northern Renaissance.
V. The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century, Westphalia, and England.
A. The Thirty Years' War: the end of international Calvinism.
B. The Crisis across Europe.
C. Crown, Covenant, and Regicide.
E. The Glorious Revolution.
F. Early Modern Philosophy.
PART THREE: Events in the New World.
V. The War Between the States.
VII. New Deal.
VIII. The Warren Court, the Great Society, and the Counterculture.
IX. Reagan and Bush.
PART FOUR: Institutions.
I. The Church and the Denomination.
A. The Ecumenical council.
B. The Papacy.
C. The religious orders.
D. The failure of the Reformation.
E. Erastianism, Latitudinarianism, and Denominations.
F. First and Second Great Awakenings.
G. Social Gospel and Fundamentalism.
I. The Jesus Movement.
II. The Family.
A. Review of ancient and medieval forms.
B. Early modern economies.
C. Victorianism and the invention of the Home.
D. Feminism and the escape of the Individual from Home.
III. The Corporation.
A. The Utility of Enterprise for Early Modern States.
B. Intellectual Property.
C. Limited Liability.
D. Lassez-faire and Social Darwinism.
E. Marxist critique.
F. The Administrative State.
H. Taxation without representation.
IV. The Judiciary.
B. Marbury and Judicial Review.
C. [19th century somethings]
E. Roosevelt and the Court.
F. The Warren Court and Civil Rights.
H. Litigation and superstition.
V. The State.
A. Moral autonomy after 1688.
B. Moral autonomy until 1789 (in Europe) and 1861 (in America).
C. The eclipse of State constitutional law.
VI. The Federal Government.
A. Hamilton and Federalism.
B. Territorial expansion.
C. Civil War and the triumph of the Union.
D. The end of territorial expansion.
E. The new party politics and the administrative welfare state.
F. The military-industrial complex.
G. The Great Society.
VII. International Law.
A. Ancient and medieval antecedents.
B. From Machiavelli to Grotius and Westphalia.
D. The French Revolution.
E. The World Wars and the United Nations.
G. The European Union.
H. Kosovo and Iraq.
PART FIVE: Prospects.
A. Effect on International Law regime.
B. Effect on Federal, State, and Judicial regimes.
C. Effect on Family, Denomination, and Corporation.
II. The Quest for Personal Autonomy.
A. Gay Rights.
B. Health Care.
C. The Internet.
III. The Next Revolution.
A. Rosenstock-Hussey on the cycle of Revolutions.
B. Germany, Japan, or Italy are especially ripe.
C. Next revolution will find solution to personal autonomy problems.
IV. What would Jesus do?
As for the people of our nation known as the Mutakallimun, their legal inquiry led them to the position that what God wills has no definite nature and merely turns on what the will--i.e., the will of God (may He be exalted)--lays down for it. According to this, there is nothing beautiful or base other than by fiat. Furthermore, there is no end of man other than by fiat. What brought them to this was their thinking of defending the attributes with which God (may He be exalted!) is described in the Law, to the effect that He is capable of doing whatever He wills, and that it is possible for the divine will to extend to all things, including particulars as well. Hence all things are possible. What happened to them happens often in legal inquiry. That is, God (may He be exalted!) is first described by certain attributes. Then one seeks to make what exists agree with the teaching without upsetting whatever of those attributes has been laid down. But these people are distressed in trying to discover the explanation of this question if these things that they consider clearly evident are as they believe. As a result this leads them to an opinion close to sophistry, very far from the nature of man, and far from the content of the Law.
Averroes, Commentary on Plato's Republic, Ralph Lerner, trans. (Cornell, 1974), 66.22-67.2.
Marsha and I went west last weekend and visited two sets of her friends, a collection of mine, a bookstore, a really big city, a nice museum, and witnessed the wedding of Jonathan Den Hartog. The Oriental Institute of Chicago is certainly worth seeing. Its collections focus more on artifacts rather than art, but there is a lot there, and there are still some galleries closed. (At the suk, I found a replica cuneiform tablet!) The Seminary Co-op Bookstore is well worth visiting, for any who haven't. Probably the best collection of in print books that I have ever seen under one roof--or in one basement!
My old friend Jonathan Den Hartog (Hillsdale '99) married Jackie Casper, a fellow Notre Dame graduate student, at charming church outside South Bend. They are honeymooning in an appropriate area--Cape Cod! Raymond Erickson ('97) was in the weddding party, and Matt Houser, Esq. ('99), Mr. and Mrs. Ben DeGrow, and even--yes!--the legendary Steve Shelby ('97) were in attendance. The groom is still very much himself, :-) and even gave a mini-lecture setting his and his bride's personal joy of the day in the context of the larger issues of our time, going on to thank those in attendence for their part in affirming the threatened institution of marriage, both by their attendence and also by their encouragement in the years to come. It was, totally, vintage Jonathan. You had to be there!
A college friend wrote me some days ago. Here are words that pierce like swords or burn like cold iron:
People like ***** are now ghosts to me; men in black and white pictures whose names I will only be able to mumble. I'm sad to say I fear that your color will fade too as our lives grow decidedly apart, and your name will sound strange to me after I've said it. Still, since you claim you will one day swim again in pools of ideas, we may be close again one day, though we swim on different shores. I was in Hillsdale earlier this summer to help my sister move her things. I thought of many people while I drove slowly through those streets, and you were one of the most distinct. My heart is broken in so many ways and in most of them it was broken there. Hillsdale will always be distant from me now, an Avalon where my soul might someday go to sleep.
So I must ask you, do you not feel this pain? And, yet, would you not rather see the shining pallor of his face before your eyes than Lydia's chariots in all their glory armored for battle?
Not only does Marsilius make, for the first time, a political application of the premise of the non-futility of natural desire, but in this application it receives a scope and a detail which it had not previously attained. Where all his predecessors had said that the object of man's natural desires is something as general as "knowledge" or "the good," Marsilius, as we have seen, holds that this object is, successively, the sufficient life, the state, whatever is necessary for the state's preservation, and finally good laws. Moreover, in support of this necessary sequence of natural desires, Marsilius' argument reintroduces the Aristotelian concept of "deformity," which carries on the specifically biological context of his political philosophy, whereas his predecessors had appealed only to such general dicta as "God and nature do nothing in vain" . . . And finally, Marsilius, like John of Jandun, interprets this non-futility of natural desire to mean that the object of this desire is actually attained, not merely that its attainment is possible. For John this had meant that all or most men taken collectively, or as a species, actually have all the sciences. For Marsilius, however, it means that the universitas civium of its weightier part, which is the legislator of the state, is all but infallible both in will and in execution; "election is always made for the common benefit, which the human legislator almost always aims at and achieves." Both John and Marsilius thus exhibit a kind of optimism about the collectivity of man, in the realms of the theoretic and the practical, respectively, which is as utopian as it is extreme. Yet in the political sphere it is this same doctrine, expressed as faith in the natural goodness of man, which animated many of the republican and democratic movements in modern times. In any case, the upshot of Marsilius' naturalist-corporate interpretation of desire is that nature operates as an efficient cause within the wills of all or most men taken together, driving them from one desire to the next until the state and all its laws are established, thereby satisfying the original desire. Nature hence gives a sanction to corporate majoritarianism which is completely denied to all other kinds of state.
Alan Gewirth, "Natural Desire, the Unity of the Intellect, and Political Averroism," Appendix II in his 1956 edition of Defensor Pacis, pp. 437-438.
Last weekend, I learned that my wife's name is actually "Fred." Or at least that's what some of her old school friends affectionately call her. It takes a little getting used to. Sorta makes one wonder. :)
This weekend, I learned that "Fred" told a former student as of late July 2003, in response to a friend's question about our then-unaffianced relationship, "We're engaged in our hearts."
Cupid is a knavish lad . . .
Lo! and behond, the Cleveland Museum of Art has acquired one fantastic (and pretty important) Greek bronze. The Apollo Sauroktonos is unique in being attributed to Praxiteles and is, to my knowledge pretty unique in North America. The CMA's stock has really gone up in my book!
The speech was more effective than I had expected, and did have its moments. Funny how those moments seemed to resemble something out of a Ronald Reagan speech. And then there were other moments . . . How does "one of the oldest commandments"—Honour your father and mother—translate into the imperative to maintain a Social Security program which ended children's obligation to support their aged parents? Listening to the speech on NPR audio, I was struck too by the fact that Kerry seemed to unable simply to stand back and bask in applause.
1. Honestly, the film made me a bit hesitant about voting for Bush. Of course, the prospect of voting for Kerry isn't highly appetizing either. Still, the film did give me pause.
2. The best moments in the film were when it constrasted the interests of the elites and the uses of the lower classes by those elites, and also when it drew Orwellian conclusions as to the political purposes of a war on terror.
3. The film reminded me that, in 1990, at the tender age of 16, I was violently opposed to the Gulf War and feared being drafted to be mercenary for some emir.
4. It struck me that a similar film coudl easily have been made about the Balkan conflicts of the late 1990s, although there the humanitarian situation would have been more compelling than the WMD situation can now be made to appear. Also, one could easily get footage of Democratic politicians cuddling with Chinese businessmen.
5. I am going to urge all of my comparatively right-wing friends and family to see this film, if for no other reason than that they get slapped by a perspective outside of the CNN-Fox News-World Magazine-Wal Mart-local church bubble.
6. The film is very graphic at points and pushes all of the sentimental buttons.
I suppose I should be blogging about my reading and actually writing something, but married life is making me so rather bourgeois. Yesterday, Marsha took me on a "recreation of our first date." It wasn't quite my birthday (which is actually Monday this year, and the brother-and-sister-in-law who introduced us weren't present, and the scene was Cleveland rather than Cincy, but the venues were in the same genres and in the same sequence.
We started out with consumer shopping doing a little business at the Apple store and visting both Gallion's and Joseph-Beth. From there, we proceeded to the Art Museum, inspecting our favorite art objects and romantic landscapes. We then wandered around downtown for a while, watching the sea of people converging on Jacob's Field, while waiting for to be able to use our 6 p.m. parking voucher. For dinner, we went to Fat Fish Blue (a cajun/creole sister establishment to Red Fish, where we went on our first date). The food was pretty good, although we couldn't quite finish the Carpetbagger. After dinner, we proceeded to the Hanna building for a play. "I Love You, You're Wonderful, Now Change" was pretty good. Hilarious, actually. Marsha really liked it. :) My favorite part was the vignette of the law firm commercial offering to represent sexually unsatisfied lovers.
Afterwards, we were almost crunched on I-77 by some drunk idiots coming out of the ball game. :(
I remember reading the third book of Spenser with Andrew in Simpson only a few years ago. I imagine that, had I not met Marsha last summer, I would be there now too, putting my Arabic to good use and taking such a heady opportunity.
Marsha kicked me out of bed at 6:30 (after a terrrible night's sleep), and I have spent the last 40 minutes or so watching Venus creep to the edge of the Sun's disk. Not exactly something any of us have seen before. I hope that Tom Dobbins has good weather--he went all the way to Rome to observe the event!
Marsha and I were just talking and found out that we both "had" the same teacher at Tree of Life in Columbus!!!
I had Susan Ryder for second grade, circa 1981. In March 1991, Marsha taught Junior and Senior English with Mrs. Ryder for a Preliminary Student Involvement Experience as part of the education program at Cedarville.
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, p. 61.
We had an additional severe thunderstorm this morning at about 2 a.m. This makes three severe waves (and cower-under-the-bed waves at that) in just 24 hours. The other two were at 3:30 a.m. yesterday and about 4:30 p.m.
See this dramatic video of a classical bow echo crossing downtown Cleveland.
We had a very intense storm line sweep through the Akron/Cleveland area several hours ago. The squall line was accompanied by extremely high winds (i.e., >60 mph). (Ann Arbor logged 95 mph earlier in the day.) Marsha and I were on the front porch when it came through and watched a tall tree fall into a house across the street (much to our alarm). We submitted pictures to a Cleveland TV station, and they were posted.
Marsha and I went to Canada this past weekend. We got a number of AERO bars. (Yum!) We stayed in the Minolta Tower, a strangely-shaped building on the Canadian side overlooking the Horseshoe Falls. We ate too much beef and suffered gastric distress. (Either that or it was this cool wedding we attended.) Marineland was, alas, closed, so no whales for Marsha. :(
We went on to Toronto and mulled around the University district, visiting the Royal Ontario Museum, saying hi to a 1/10 scale chrysoelephantine Athena Parthenos, several Albertosauri, and about 500 bronze and iron age implements. (We also went to two large bookstores, and passed a humungeous Pottery Barn.) Then we went past downtown to the lake and hung out on the islands for a few hours. I have pictures of my (rather cold) feet in a (rather cold) Lake Ontario to prove it. The sky and water were very clear, and the sailboats made it quite picturesque.
I only regret that we didn't have time to do the CN Tower . . . oh, and that I didn't research used U of T bookstores on classics and medievalia in advance.
I have a rather open, somewhat stereotypical question for anyone who comes across or reads this blog: What philosophical texts are most worthy of close study? I should probably qualify this by saying that my interest and motive is asking is largely history of ideas than abstract problem solving, so "most worthy" encompasses both retrospective and prospective purposes. Also, my approach is essentially Straussian, not in terms of esoteric exegesis, but in terms of emphasis on ethical and political philosophy.
I ask this because I have this annoying tendency to take a shotgun approach to reading—presently have feet in a dozen books. As Karen Oprea once said of her brother, the problem is that you get far enough in to see the conclusions and you get lazy and don't finish. And this despite generous inculcations of Mortimer J. Adler. And, practically speaking, the occasion is that I am trying to assemble something of a mult-year program for reading and writing. (Now that I'm settling into "bourgeois domesticity" and all.)
For sheer scope and sweep, it strikes me that the Aeneid is uniquely suited to sustained reading. Not entirely a traditional philosophical text, however. And yet very much an extension of the Socratic project of bringing philosophy down from the heavens and elaborating an ethics.
I'll readily confess that I have not spent enough time in Plato lately. But which Plato to concentrate on? (i) The Socratic corpus? (ii) the Republic? (iii) the Laws?
I know the Politics well, the Ethics less well, but the Metaphysics hardly well enough.
I am afraid to wade into the Critique of Pure Reason. One has almost to resent the "obligatoriness" of Kant. Ditto for Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. LOL
I feel obliged to develop something of a special competence in the Arabo-Jewish tradition, so close readings of the Guide for the Perplexed and the Al-Ghazali/Ibn Rushd Incoherence are in order.
Grotius' De iure belli ac pacis strikes me as a neglected text worthy of close reading, after which it will be less necessary to consult Locke or Pufendorf.
I'm still struggling as to which of the other moderns to concentrate upon. I have a sinking suspicion that Pope is the least dense of them. A new edition of Spizona's Theologico-Political Treastise will be out shortly—I've been putting that off on account of the piss-poor readability of the old Dover reprint.
Speaking of new books, Richard Tarrant's OCT edition of the Metamorpheses should be out any time now!
Last but not least, how important is Suarez?
I was travelling for business in a large city in the southern U.S. earlier this week, and found myself standing on observation deck of a large building taking a break by surveying downtown development. The attorney standing next to me pointed out that a very large yacht docked the pier right below us was owned by a visiting eccentric. He proceeded to tell a story.
Apparently, this gentleman was in a business meeting a while back and asked to be excused. "I left my cat in the car and I don't want him to get overheated. I'll be right back." The gentleman returned with a full-grown lion in tow. The beast got a bit animated, mounted the table, and began to roar--much to the alarm of the others present.
The attorney went on to explain that the gentleman has, in fact, several lions which roam around his (very large) yacht. I reacted with incredulity. "Isn't there a law against that?" Apparently not. "Well, there should at least be a local ordinance or something!"
A fellow employee reacted strongly in turn. "Well, I suggest that people who think like that should move to countries--where there are more jails!" (My fellow employee is an ideological conservative deeply involved in the Republican party and the Federalist Society.)
Suddenly, I realized that my law school experience has made me unconsciously "liberal." Something of an epiphany.
Il Principe, XVII
For in the order of things it is found that one never seeks to avoid one inconvenience without running into another; but prudence consists in knowing how to recognize the qualities of inconveniences, and in picking the less bad as good.
Machiavelli, "Letter to Vettori," 10 December 1513 (trans. Mansfield).
Whatever legal justifications may exist for the Scalia tapes incident, The incident is iconic of a judiciary which believes itself to be infallible and beyond question. The members of the Court continue to behave in a manner that resembles nothing so much as a council of haughty prelates.
Indeed, the Court is the true analogue of the papacy in America, both in terms of its relation to the Presidency, its relation to the American federal system as a whole, and its overall posture as a social-reforming moral authority eager in the wake of '37 to wash its hands of this-worldly economic matters.
And yet are not the powers and perogatives of the Court a fiction, blown up from the winds of imagination in Marbury just as the scope and action of the papacy were conjured up ex nihilo in Dictates Papae hundreds of years before? All of the anticlerical arguments in the history of the West can be made equally against this Court and the judiciary that it crowns . . . Protestants speak of the see of Rome as a cabal and a tyranny; they do not see the instant reality that we are all beholden to an American curia which interdicts us from justice, and righteousness, and from kissing the Son of Man?
Danny Elfman's score to the 1989 Batman was something of an icon for my brother and I growing up. My mother saw the film in the theatre, hated it, and forbade us to see it. (We eventually rented it while she was on vacation.) Just now, as a sit here listening to the score on CD, it all seems very clear to me. As an adolescent, I exulted in the heady, percussive score with its grand, romantic sweeps, its surging, almost p hallic themes for brass; there was something elemental and dionysiac about Elfman's music.
Or maybe I've become what Cynthia Nixon's character calls a "dimestore Camila Paglia."
--You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it, is that clear?! You think you have merely stopped a business deal – that is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity, it is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations! There are no peoples! There are no Russians. There are no Arabs! There are no third worlds! There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars! Petro-dollars, Electro-dollars, Multi-dollars, Reichmarks, Rubles, Yen, Pounds and Shekels! It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet! That is the natural order of things today! That is the atomic, subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?
We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a collage of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale! It has been since man crawled out of the slime, and our children, Mr. Beale, will live to see that perfect world in which there is no war and famine, oppression and brutality – one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you to preach this evangel, Mr. Beale.
--Because you’re on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday.
Network is surely one of the greatest films of all time. It is great because, in the middle of 1970s, it is deeply prescient of the realities of the millenium. With perhaps Citizen Kane and Ivan the Terrible, it is for film what Nineteen-Eighty-Four is for literature: social prophecy and political philosophy Every moron who watches FOX News should should read the script for FOX that is Network.
Gibson is doing what no other movie producer in history has ever attempted. He has self-consciously attempted to make this a universal movie: equally closed to all grammatically, yet equally open to all through subtitles. We are all equally dependent on the subtitles. We are all equally riveted (or appalled) by what we see on-screen.
This is not an American movie. This is a universal movie. I have never heard of anything like this before. This movie is to movies what the Latin mass used to be to Roman Catholic liturgy. It is a self-conscious attempt to separate the film's words from today's linguistic context, and also tomorrow's, no matter who you are or where you live. Gibson, by adopting an Aramaic screenplay in the name of historical accuracy, has universalized the film. A Protestant would not have attempted this. Only a Latin mass Catholic would have. Gibson understood what language is all about.
As a Protestant, I rejoiced at Vatican II's liturgical reform. I knew that this shift to the vernacular would do more to de-legitimize Catholicism's claim of universality than anything the church had done since 1054 (the East-West split). A vernacular liturgy was John Wycliffe's reform. I could not have been more pleased. So far, I think I have been correct. The Roman church is now as plagued by guitars as Protestant churches are. Nashville has invaded Rome.
Mel Gibson is not pleased. I regard The Passion as his personal statement sent to Vatican II's surviving promoters: "This story is worth telling in a dead language. It is better told in a dead language." On this point, I side with Mr. Gibson rather than Mr. Wycliffe. But remember: it's a movie. That's entertainment.
After some beautiful views (views that are a better use of tax dollars than most things), the rover Spirit will shortly begin its journey to the Columbia Hills.
To me, the rover missions are the closest thing to the Moon landings that I've lived through—and probably the most thrilling since Voyager 2 at Neptune. So pardon my mania... :)
NASA, God's gift to nerds, romantics, and us wierdo labrats, is sending a probe to Mercury. And not just another flyby like Mariner 10. This probe will orbit the planet.
Another mission is planned to Ceres and Vesta.
I'm having such fun keeping up with space missions these days!
My younger brother wrote this to me today after watching two of my favorite films:
Hey - I watched "Persona" last night, and let me tell you....that is one strange movie. Where the heck did you get that film? I watched Blow-Up, which wasn't too bad - had a sensible story line, kept you guessing, but Persona was just WAY OUT THERE.
So I'm sending him some of my wife's Disneys for post-Persona therapy. LOL
Harvard Univ. Press has just released a second volume of Harold J. Berman's Law and Revolution, subtitled The Impact of the Protestant Reformation on the Western Legal Tradition. From what I've browsed thus far this is a major contribution. Everyone should get and read this book.