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Liberal Thursday IV:  Special Travel Edition!

As some of you have surely gathered by now, a good chunk of What’s Liberal? deals with the question of how to conceptualize intractable disputes.  I say “conceptualize” rather than “resolve” or “negotiate,” because the moment you’ve decided that a dispute can be resolved or negotiated, you’ve determined that it is not actually intractable.  The Habermas - Lyotard impasse thus seems to me to be more important than anything else that came out of the postmodernism debates of the early 1980s, precisely because it presents us with a debate that questions the purpose of debate itself.  (Habermas v. Foucault is not similarly recursive with regard to the metatheorization of debate.  That one can be summed up, quick and dirty fashion, as “ought one speak in sentences that include the word ‘ought’?”)

So, then, in the postmodernism chapter of What’s Liberal?, I rehearse a brief history of the term “postmodernism” before declaring my impatience with a great deal of what goes under the name and moving to the Really Good Stuff, namely, the impasse over how to think about impasses.  Here’s how I presented Habermas-Lyotard to my undergraduate honors students in the fall of 2001:

We can say neither that the debate is resolvable nor that it is unresolvable.  It is impossible not to take a position on this one, and worse, it is impossible not to take a position that betrays the nature of the debate. . . .  If you say that the dispute between Lyotard and Habermas can in fact be resolved by recourse to principles on which both parties can ultimately agree, you are, in effect, awarding the palm to Habermas and the pro-consensus, pro-communicative action party.  If, on the contrary, you give up and say that this one is simply a fundamental impasse and can’t be resolved, you have in effect resolved it, by awarding the palm to Lyotard and the pro-incommensurability, pro-heterogeneity party.  And you can’t say “neither of the above,” because that too defaults to Lyotard.

OK, hold that thought, if you would.  And now let’s turn to Maximilian Pakaluk’s recent review of my book in the National Review Online.

Mr. Pakaluk seems like a smart young man, having graduated from Harvard in 2005, and like Jonathan Liu, the young Harvard man who reviewed my book caustically in the New York Observer, he sounds like the kind of student who’d enliven any classroom.  And I should make it clear before I discuss his review that I am not surprised or dismayed by his dismissal of my book.  On the contrary, I am reassured, because anything else but dismissal in the pages of the National Review would produce a profound epistemic crisis—either on their part (we agree with Bérubé!  this calls our very existence into question!) or on mine (they like me!  they really like me!  what have I done to deserve this?)

Still, even though Mr. Pakaluk seems like a smart young man, he does make a few mistakes.  Here’s a small one:

Michael Bérubé argues that it is not only harmless that departments of liberal arts are rife with liberalism, but proper and to be expected. He doesn’t see this state of affairs as contrived, but as the natural outcome of the commitments entailed in pursuing the liberal arts. The corollary is that efforts at making the liberal arts more conducive to conservatism would require altering them—destroying them, even.

That’s a strange thing to say about a book which includes, among other things, this passage:

These days, I often think my field is so pervasively liberal/left that smart young conservatives will shun it altogether.  I know there are still some conservatives out there who truly love the arts and humanities—“old school” arts and humanities, usually, more Augustan than modern, or more Chaucerian than Kafkaesque, but I’ll settle for what I can get, and besides, some of those old schools were pretty good.  They may be a dying breed, as “conservatism” in America becomes more and more associated with the know-nothing, Tom DeLay wing of the Republican Party; as University of Texas philosophy professor Brian Leiter wrote in November 2004, “Perhaps . . . the ratio of Democratic voters to Republican voters in the academy has increased over time because the Republican party has gone increasingly bonkers, such that educated and informed people by and large can’t stomach it any more?” But when they disappear from the earth altogether, along with conservative American economists who believe in honest budgets and honest business practices (an endangered species) and conservative American environmentalists who respect scientific evidence (already extinct), I know that I will miss them terribly.  Or, to put this another way, I often wish I had more conservative colleagues in literary study.

I’m serious about this.  I don’t mind in the least having substantial political disagreements with colleagues, just so long as they’re smart colleagues who hit the rhetorical ball back over the net with gusto and topspin.  I already have plenty of these on the left, even though Horowitz and company would have you believe that a department of Democrats is somehow a department in which everyone agrees with one another.  But when all the substantial intellectual disagreements in a discipline are arguments among leftists and liberals, the premises of argument are inevitably skewed– especially in those lefter-than-thou circles in which the most “oppositional” position claims for itself the greatest moral authority.  And when an entire department or an entire field of inquiry produces a uniform moral mist, it’s no wonder that after a while, it will attract only those aspirants who like breathing the air.

Here’s another of Mr. Pakaluk’s mistakes:

The connection between, say, reading Shakespeare and supporting socialized medicine may not be immediately apparent. To make it so is Bérubé’s aim.

Mr. Pakaluk seems like a smart young man, but this is not a very smart sentence.  For there is nothing in my book that will support the claim that I see any such connection, let alone the claim that I am trying to make one.  In fact, I don’t really understand why anyone would try.

Unfortunately, Mr. Pakaluk then compounds this error by laying out the structure of the book he thinks I meant to write, a book in which I argue for what he calls “the underlying incompatibility of conservatism and academia.” First, Pakaluk talks himself into believing I have argued that “the problem facing conservatives in the liberal arts is not an abundance of Ward Churchills, but something that runs much deeper. The liberal arts are by their nature liberal.” (These are his words, of course.) Then, he maps out the road this argument should take:

A straightforward argument to that effect would take the following structure: specification of the essential characteristic of the liberal arts, followed by demonstration of how these characteristics lead to liberal political views.  Bérubé is not quite so systematic, and he offers almost nothing by way of a developed explanation of what he takes the liberal arts to be—a curious omission, given the book’s title. To the extent that he makes a clear argument, it is this:  procedural liberalism—“ensuring that wide, vigorous, and meaningful discussion” about political and ethical questions of all sorts can take place—naturally gives rise to substantive liberalism — generally put, “that humans should be considered to have equal claim to basic human rights such as food, shelter, education, health care, and political representation.” While this procedural liberalism may be a necessary condition for the liberal arts (it would certainly have to be further specified), it is hardly sufficient.

Mr. Pakaluk seems like a smart young man, but here he does a quite terrible job of paraphrasing my argument about the relation of procedural liberalism to substantive liberalism.  In fact, he gets it completely wrong.  There is no necessary correspondence between the two whatsoever, which is why—as I have argued time and again on this blog, for example— traditional conservatives (as opposed to the radical right that currently runs the country) are procedural liberals.  In fact, I speak at the end of chapter one about the tensions between substantive and procedural liberalism:

The practice of critical thinking, after all, is not contentless:  it can and does challenge unreasoning prejudice of all kinds, and without it neither the Enlightenment nor the contemporary English department is thinkable.  And insofar as it places additional moral burdens on certain kinds of conservatives whose opposition to homosexuality stems from deeply held religious belief, yes, this kind of critical thinking can appear to such students to be a form of prejudice in itself. 

This conundrum, forged in the gap between procedural liberalism’s openness to debate and substantive liberalism’s opposition to racism, sexism, and homophobia, seems to me one of the most difficult moral and intellectual quandaries any liberal teacher has to face. [Emphasis added for the benefit of Mr. Pakaluk, who may have missed this passage the first time around.] In the “political correctness” debates of yesteryear, it sometimes took the form of the mind-bending charge that liberals were the truly intolerant forces in American society, because they failed to tolerate certain forms of intolerance that were grounded in conservative religious belief.  This phrasing of the problem has befuddled more than one liberal, leaving such liberals not only befuddled but committed to finding better (and more liberal) ways of including the voices of people whose most cherished aim is to silence us forever.  Liberals are required to foster and practice a kind of critical pluralism with regard to social and cultural disputes, but they are not and should not be required to promote—or protect from criticism—the views of radicals and authoritarians who construe all forms of liberalism either as treason to the Republic or as grounds for eternal damnation.

Later in the same paragraph, I speak of procedural liberalism as “a form of pluralism and reasoned debate that does not always culminate in liberal conclusions.” My guess is that Mr. Pakaluk missed this passage too.  But I won’t italicize this one.  I think it’s pretty clear.

And then Mr. Pakaluk makes one really big mistake, and this one is kind of obnoxious.

Instead of speaking more about what the liberal arts are, Bérubé presents to the reader an extended recounting of the discussions he has led in his class on postmodernism. The aim, apparently, is to accomplish through description what is not accomplished through argument. Though postmodernism is an enigmatic and ill-defined designation, as Bérubé himself points out, he does a fine job of getting across the general idea. The reader is left with a good sense of the sort of professor who is uninterested in reality, truth, and other such antiquated ideas. Yet it is never made quite clear why becoming entangled in such confusion should be taken as a prerequisite for studying the liberal arts.

Interjected occasionally into the classroom discussions are Bérubé’s thoughts on why reality, etc., should be abandoned. They are revealing, but hardly convincing. Bérubé is an English professor, not a philosopher, and his arguments are less than rigorous. At one point, after quoting an author’s description of what it means to be a realist, he offers the rebuttal:  “This makes sense, I think, only if you don’t consider things like gravity and slavery to be qualitatively different things.” It is a coarse formulation of an argument that has been stated, and disputed, with far more refinement and insight. Bérubé is certainly entitled to arrive at his own conclusions about these questions, but it is absurd for him to posit them as essentially characteristic of the liberal arts, especially when they have been defended with the analytical rigor proper to an undergraduate seminar.

It is almost ridiculous that a book about liberalism in the liberal arts ends up being an apology for postmodernism.

Construing my argument about antifoundationalism as “thoughts on why reality, etc., should be abandoned” is not something that a smart young man should do.  It’s kind of intellectually dishonest, actually, because it entails saying things that are untrue, and when I say “untrue” I mean “false.” And you know, you don’t actually have to believe in the correspondence theory of truth in order to use the words “true” and “false”!  That’s a little game that especially annoying foundationalists like to play, just to see if we antifoundationalists will get angry or something.  (For more on the asymmetry involved in this misconstrual, see Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Belief and Resistance: Dynamics of Contemporary Intellectual Controversy. And for a brisk reply to Smith, see my friend Amanda Anderson’s The Way We Argue Now:  Studies in the Culture of Theory.)

So here, for the record, is the passage to which Mr. Pakaluk is referring.  It starts with Sam Harris’s brief for what he calls “ethical realism,” and my response.  First, Harris:

Realists believe that there are truths about the world that may exceed our capacity to know about them; there are facts of the matter whether or not we can bring such facts into view.  To be an ethical realist is to believe that in ethics, as in physics, there are truths waiting to be discovered—and thus we can be right or wrong in our beliefs about them.

Now, me:

This makes sense, I think, only if you don’t consider things like gravity and slavery to be qualitatively different kinds of objects—the first a natural phenomenon whose laws can be discovered by humans with great diligence (and which we still haven’t quite gotten the hang of, as the string theorists search for the principles of quantum gravity, and the advocates of a point theory of space search for principles that don’t involve vibrating strings), the other a cultural object created by humans, contested by humans, and gradually—and fitfully, and still not universally—abolished by humans.  The reason I disagree with Harris, the reason I am not what he calls an “ethical realist,” is that I believe that gravity and slavery are different kinds of things, and that objective, observer-independent knowledge about gravity is possible (this puts me at odds with Rorty) but should not be taken as a model for knowledge about human affairs.  I believe there are mind-independent entities, and that you can check this for yourself by kicking a stone; but I do not understand how people like Harris, who are so stringently skeptical about religious belief, can insist on the existence of mind-independent concepts.  And this, as my students gradually come to understand, is an incommensurability.  It is not an incommensurability about slavery itself; both the “ethical realists” and I are against it.  It is an incommensurability with regard to how one justifies one’s being against it.

I wrapped up this part of the course by telling my students that if they wanted to pursue this further, with real philosophers, they should consult Richard Rorty for (most of) my end of the discussion, and Thomas Nagel—in The View from Nowhere, for a start—for one of the most salient responses to Rorty.  (Today, I would also mention Simon Blackburn’s 2005 book, Truth: A Guide.  But I added, back in 2001, that many philosophy professors don’t even bother to consider Rorty a “real” philosopher, and that this too was evidence of the depth of the impasse.

As I explain in What’s Liberal?, there’s another reason I don’t share Harris’s faith (or that of any other “ethical realist") in mind-independent concepts: I think that believing in them can have nasty consequences.  That is, people who believe that they’ve discovered objective moral principles out there in the ether (as distinct from people who think they’re working out sublunary moral principles with their fellow human beings) are especially likely to think of people who believe otherwise—or who simply believe in other principles—as not merely mistaken about this or that but objectively wrong as measured by some nonhuman, observer-independent criterion.  Or, as I write elsewhere in the chapter, “you might conclude that people who disagree with you are not simply working from different moral premises but, rather, are alien—or opposed—to morality itself.  It then becomes all the easier to exclude them from the conversation, from all forms of human community.” And one of the purposes of the liberal arts—golly, but I thought this argument was as clear as a mountain stream—is to teach people how to think about fundamental disagreements in human affairs, and how to conceptualize fundamental disagreements without coming to the conclusion that the people who disagree with you must be expelled or exterminated.

Mr. Pakaluk missed all this, I suppose, just as he missed the passage in which I note that the foundationalist often relies on the shabby strategem of construing the antifoundationalist/ pragmatist as someone who, as Mr. Pakaluk writes about me, “is uninterested in reality, truth, and other such antiquated ideas.” Of course, I’m sorry that Mr. Pakaluk found my defense of pragmatism insufficiently rigorous for him.  But I’m informed that he majored in Sneering, which also explains that little “it is almost ridiculous that a book about liberalism in the liberal arts ends up being an apology for postmodernism” bit.

And then Mr. Pakaluk’s review just falls off the cliff:

It is a fascinating and difficult question, whether for certain professions, a person’s ability to do his work well depends on his views about fundamental principles. It is usually thought that the so-called “radical conservatives” are the ones who claim that the atheistic relativist could never be a good professor. How odd, then, to find Bérubé suggesting a similar claim, except under the opposite conditions, when it comes to the liberal arts.

If the work of an English professor can be done equally well by the realist and the postmodernist, then Bérubé’s explanation of liberal dominance in the universities falls flat. If it cannot, and one’s understanding of what an English professor should do depends entirely on one’s fundamental principles, then liberal dominance in the universities is arbitrary, a sort of intellectual Stalinism. Liberalism would be prevalent in the liberal arts because it is liberals who are deciding what the liberal arts are.

Folks, at this point the good Mr. Pakaluk is just making stuff up, attributing bizarre arguments to me and then finding “contradictions” in them.  Of course the work of an English professor can be done equally well by “the realist and the postmodernist,” though I hope I’ve shown (to quote a film that often gets cited on these here Googlenets), that although Mr. Pakaluk keeps using those words, I do not think they mean what he thinks they mean.  And I never claim that “the atheistic relativist could never be a good professor.” That would be just silly.

I do, however, believe that some intractable disputes are indeed intractable, which is why it is so very foolish of Mr. Pakaluk to write, in conclusion, “Bérubé’s book, while interesting enough, will do little to bridge the ‘intractable’ divide he describes.” Yet again (indeed, it seems by now to be something of a rhetorical tic), Mr. Pakaluk ascribes to me an aim I do not profess.  For those of us who know what “intractable” means do not go around trying to “bridge” intractable divides.  We do, however, try to clarify them, to describe them accurately, and to explain what is at stake in them.  For these, too, are among the tasks of the liberal arts.

Posted by on 10/26 at 11:59 PM
  1. But, but, there *are* “mind-independent concepts”. We’re engaged in the exchange of them at this very moment. Maybe they aren’t independent of minds, but they *are* independent of a single mind. And really, how is that more or less qualitatively different than a stone is qualitatively different from gravity or electro-magnetism, or dare I say it, dark matter? Or qualitatively different from any object that two of us agree upon? Put three people in a room, and they can generate mind-independent concepts all day long.

    It’s a good point, but it goes a bit wonky when we note that some concepts *are* as verifiable as physical objects (which is the only basis we have for deciding such things), and at the same time note that both physical objects and concepts exist which haven’t been shown to be verifiable. The universe as a whole may contain parts intractable for every part that is tractable - concept or no.

    Something missing here… maybe it’ll hit me in my sleep.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/27  at  02:43 AM
  2. For those of us who know what “intractable” means do not go around trying to “bridge” intractable divides. 

    Really, now, “intractable divides” is a Thomas-Friedman-quality bit of metaphor mangling:

    He has an anti-ear, and it’s absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that’s guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.

    Matt Taibbi

    This Mr. Pakaluk may well strike the mother lode of a rosy future if he keeps this up.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/27  at  02:55 AM
  3. Hmm, 11:59 pm sounds a wee bit suspicious.  Was this really an Arbitrary But Fun Friday post?  Ah, clock-measured time is so arbitrary--but as arbitrary as on what kind of post Michael’s metareview actually is?  Inquiring minds want to know. 

    They also want to know more about how to avoid (come to terms with? wallow in the aporia of?) the Puritan Dilemma:

    coming to the conclusion that the people who disagree with you must be expelled or exterminated.

    And, no, I’m not alluding to the ko-ing of KO.

    I’m curious about the relation between procedural and substantive liberalism in the sentence the above phrase was snipped from.  Isn’t it just like a liberal to be moved to avoid coming to the conclusion that those who disagree with “us” must be expelled and/or exterminated (or interned or tortured or rendered extraordinarily [which is just gross; really, people--the language, the language!])?

    Ah, I keep my smelling salts taped to the foot of my chair for just such spells.  Much better now. 

    The point is, won’t certain conservatives (and others) who see the Puritan Dilemma as no dilemma (that is, as an issue of means and not ends, or, more specifically to Michael’s original sentence, as “doing without the without") just respond to a sentence like that, Rovesquely, with something like,

    “Just like a liberal not to understand that some fundamentally intractable disagreements--such as between God’s Chosen People and Satan’s Minions (or pick your secularized version for 21st C purposes)--must be resolved through violence.  If what’s going on in English departments these days are American liberals, progressives, and radicals [oh my!] picking through the bones of German/French disputes in order to avoid coming to obvious conclusions, then Professor Berube has told us all we need and want to know about them.”

    Are there any conservatives (or, better, CONSERVATIVEs--you make up the acronym) out there making arguments like that?  You know, ones that might drive “true” conservatives out of the Republican (Excommunication/Genocide) Party for good?

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/27  at  03:05 AM
  4. Folks, at this point the good Mr. Pakaluk is just making stuff up, attributing bizarre arguments to me and then finding “contradictions” in them.

    Yes, but if academia were truly inclusive, it would make room for folks who make stuff up, attribute bizarre arguments to others and knockdown the contradictions that straw-men are known to love. Just ask He-who.

    However, I will admit that even if the academy were to become truly inclusive, the money to be made outside academia for those who make stuff up, attribute bizarre arguments to others and knockdown non-existent contradictions would continue to lure. Again, just ask He-who.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  07:24 AM
  5. One of the hallmarks of the conservative mindset (in my view) is a desire to define everything into little boxes--and then to refuse to let anything out again.

    Before anything else, Pakaluk has defined Michael into the box of “English Professor.” “Therefore he is no philosopher.”

    This reminds me of the Horowitz plaint that too many of us “liberal” professors are teaching things that aren’t in our “fields"--making the “field” more important than the learning.

    That said, this is just another example of why, for all their vapid “interpretations” of pretty-good songs, the Kingston Trio should not be forgotten.  The line they tack on to “The Streets of Laredo” just so well in so many situations, and works well, with a slight change, here:

    You can see by my outfit that I’m a philosopher,
    So get yourself an outfit and be a philosopher, too.

    Captcha: “fear.” As in, “We have nothing to fear but the mind-independent concept itself.” Or not.

    Posted by Aaron Barlow  on  10/27  at  08:54 AM
  6. Do you know, I don’t believe it’s possible to “teach” people to think critically. Insofar as I do it at all I think of it as “coaching” them to think critically or to “practice” thinking critically, often about unfamiliar subjects. On my good days I walk into class and say “Yo! THINK!” and then something happens, I don’t know exactly what. Then I distribute praise to those who express whatever thinking they did in what seem to be relevant, honest, civil, original, and articulate terms.

    Wow, good point, Constructivist. (See?)

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  08:54 AM
  7. This Mr. Pakaluk may well strike the mother lode of a rosy future if he keeps this up.

    That depends. Who is he dating? There are mother lodes and then there are mother lodes if you know what I mean. He should do well, I have it on good authority from our Research and Statistics Department that there are megaboss many women at Ivy League schools looking to marry someone like Mr. Pakaluk with his success as a novelist and screenwriter.

    Hello. I’d like to talk to you tonight about a minority group of people who have no mental or physical handicaps and, who, through no fault of their own, have never been deprived, and consequently are forced to live in conditions of extreme luxury

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  09:06 AM
  8. First, I’d like to call to your attention the following sentence fragment from Pakaluk’s review:

    “Yet there is a reason why one cannot find in academia Churchill’s fascist analogue (at worst, there are certain professors who have not yet written off manliness) [...]”

    I think that the assumptions behind this sneer illustrate my thesis that there are actually no “true” conservatives.  The conservative that you always say that you wish that you had in the liberal arts simply doesn’t exist in any significant numbers.  The right *is* the radical right.  No doubt it might be possible to find a few people who play the role of a decent conservative, in the same way that some historians try to live as a member of the ancient society that they study for a few days, but there is no such organic part of our society.

    Second, am I correct that you are rhetorically framing Pakaluk as John?  ("Mr. Pakaluk seems like a smart young man [...] he sounds like the kind of student who’d enliven any classroom.") There are three other repetitions, unless I miscounted, of “Mr. Pakaluk seems like a smart young man”.  I guess that I’ll wait to say more about this until I see more of this thread.

    But there’s something about the use of irony that I don’t always think is right for this material.  I’ve just started reading “What’s Liberal”, and just after description of some Horowitzian lies, there is a reference to them as “hijinx”.  I think that I understand why this mode is becoming more and more common—isn’t part of it a reaction to the older left?  Unless there is an instant dose of irony, you risk being thought of as a ranter, a humorless ideologue who must tub-thumb every obvious point home with worn-out atrocity rhetoric.  Or maybe it’s just a blogger subculture thing.  In any case, I’m not sure whether it really works in all cases.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  09:25 AM
  9. All y’all so-called ‘college graduates’ can go eat a bowl of [CENSORED] Mueslix.

    Posted by norbizness  on  10/27  at  09:32 AM
  10. But, but, there *are* “mind-independent concepts”. We’re engaged in the exchange of them at this very moment.

    Holy ether!  You’re right, CCP!  And it’s all because of the Internets!

    Seriously, when I object to the idea of mind-independent concepts, I’m objecting to the notion that “in ethics, as in physics, there are truths waiting to be discovered” (as Harris puts it): concepts that exist independently of any mind.  I think it’s a kinda quasireligious belief, which is why I find it so strange that Harris professes so strong a faith in it.

    Still, I know I’m in the minority on this.  Very few of my fellow humans want to think about truths in human affairs in this way.  So I don’t ask that anyone (not even Mr. Pakaluk) agree with my partial agreement with Rorty.  All I ask is that people describe my arguments accurately if they’re reviewing my book.

    The point is, won’t certain conservatives (and others) who see the Puritan Dilemma as no dilemma (that is, as an issue of means and not ends, or, more specifically to Michael’s original sentence, as “doing without the without") just respond to a sentence like that, Rovesquely, with something like,

    “Just like a liberal not to understand that some fundamentally intractable disagreements--such as between God’s Chosen People and Satan’s Minions (or pick your secularized version for 21st C purposes)--must be resolved through violence.  If what’s going on in English departments these days are American liberals, progressives, and radicals [oh my!] picking through the bones of German/French disputes in order to avoid coming to obvious conclusions, then Professor Berube has told us all we need and want to know about them.”

    Yes.

    At which point I will have to quote them my “liberals can kill you” paragraph, or perhaps my critique of Andrew Sullivan’s complaint about John Rawls (because Sullivan’s complaint takes pretty much the form of your “just like a liberal” paragraph).  But you know what?  Although I’m having a pretty easy time rebutting various conservatives’ claims about my book simply by quoting passages from the book, I’ve begun to wonder whether I’m not putting too much of the book out here on the Google.  So if you want to read the “liberals can kill you” paragraph, TC, you’ll have to buy the thing.  Because if I told it to you here I’d have to kill you.

    if academia were truly inclusive, it would make room for folks who make stuff up, attribute bizarre arguments to others and knockdown the contradictions that straw-men are known to love. Just ask He-who.

    Ed, you’ve got me there.

    But there’s something about the use of irony that I don’t always think is right for this material.  I’ve just started reading “What’s Liberal”, and just after description of some Horowitzian lies, there is a reference to them as “hijinx”.  I think that I understand why this mode is becoming more and more common—isn’t part of it a reaction to the older left?  Unless there is an instant dose of irony, you risk being thought of as a ranter, a humorless ideologue who must tub-thumb every obvious point home with worn-out atrocity rhetoric.  Or maybe it’s just a blogger subculture thing.  In any case, I’m not sure whether it really works in all cases.

    See, now this is precisely the kind of thing I will not tolerate.  Disagreement about my rhetorical devices! For that, Rich is banned.

    But we will not kill him.  Yet.

    All y’all so-called ‘college graduates’ can go eat a bowl of [CENSORED] Mueslix.

    Amanda (comment 6), could you ask Norbiz to say more about this?  I’ve got to go to a conference now.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/27  at  09:49 AM
  11. I stopped responding to “Yo!” when Dr. Dre and Ed Lover got taken off “Yo! MTV Raps!”

    Posted by norbizness  on  10/27  at  09:58 AM
  12. Friends, liberals, academics, lend me your ears.  I come to bury the liberal arts, not to praise them.  For Pakaluk says that I say they are incompatible with conservatism, and Pakaluk is a smart young man.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  10:08 AM
  13. All this post proves is what a terrible professor M. Berube is. If in the end--after skimming the neraly a whole book--a smart and fully edjermikated fella like Pakaluk can’t grasp the unbridgeableness of intractable divides, it must be that our resident nom de france smarty-pants has, at least in this case, simply failed his reader.

    Otherwise, one is more or less forced to conclude that said reader is incapable of, or for some reason unwilling to grasp, learning.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  10:24 AM
  14. I dunno. I think Pakaluk did exactly what he was supposed to do: confirm the prejudices of the NR’s readers. If he’d gotten your book right in the review, he wouldn’t have been doing his job.

    This one was probably too obvious for you, MB, but I can’t leave well enough alone. P writes The reader is left with a good sense of the sort of professor who is uninterested in reality, truth, and other such antiquated ideas, but it strikes me that the guy who’s uninterested, vigorously uninterested in fact, is the one who simply accepts some particular reality, truth, and other a. i. (such as...Jeebus?). I suppose people who slap their hands over their ears and holler “we can’t hear you! we can’t hear you!” when other people want to investigate reality, as such, can be admired for their tenacity, but it’d be a bit of a stretch to admire them for their engagement.

    --
    Is it sophomoric to ask how much slavery weighs? Que es mas macho?

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  10:32 AM
  15. Friends, liberals, academics, lend me your ears.  I come to bury the liberal arts, not to praise them.

    There will be no alludin’ to the Great Books (or Plays or Whatever They Are) on this pomo blog, Dennis.  You too are banned.  Go sit with Rich.

    I think Pakaluk did exactly what he was supposed to do: confirm the prejudices of the NR’s readers. If he’d gotten your book right in the review, he wouldn’t have been doing his job.

    And we wouldn’t want that, because it would produce one o’ them epistemic crisises!

    Is it sophomoric to ask how much slavery weighs?

    Not at all, Karl!  It weighs more than a DVD but less than the French Revolution, which takes us up to ABF Friday.  And that reminds me!

    Hmm, 11:59 pm sounds a wee bit suspicious.  Was this really an Arbitrary But Fun Friday post? 

    The 11:59 is an allusion to the Blondie song, TC, on which Clem Burke is smokin’.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/27  at  11:06 AM
  16. Amanda French(#6), I recently ran across this comment at Hullabaloo by some guy named Sal trying to describe liberal pedagogy, which may provide some food for thought. Fruitful, or meaty? You be the judge.

    (The “Rush” reference ties into tristero’s post about the fatuous one and Michael J. Fox)

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  11:25 AM
  17. Would you care to rap, then, norbizness? Please maintain excellent standards of rhyme and meter in your couplets.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  11:26 AM
  18. Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/27  at  11:47 AM
  19. Thanks for the link, peter ramus. (Did you know that after you were killed in the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, your successor in the position of Professor of Latin Eloquence at the College de Paris was Jean Passerat, unwitting progenitor of the contemporary villanelle? True story. I’ve written about him.)

    That guy Sal starts by referring to another guy at a conference who said that “students in college move through distinct stages of thinking,” which is a reference to a thing that gets highly circulated in critical thinking pedagogy circles: Bloom’s Taxonomy. I think it might have been some other guy who framed this taxonomy as a “stages of development” thing; I’ve got some handouts kicking around some ol’ where.

    I’ve always thought that it’s kind of essentialist to frame it in terms of stages of development, especially since as far as I know it’s not based on any stone-kicking apple-dropping empirical cognitive science. And yes: if you believe it, you might ask yourself, Why bother teaching critical thinking if kids are just gonna go through stages of maturation that allow them to think at “higher” levels eventually anyway? Me, I don’t even think it’s developmental like that, or if it is, that’s not useful for me. I think it’s more that critical thinking skills aren’t especially transferable. (Heresy.) Adults and even teenagers can think (and speak and write) with extreme nuance and sophistication about subjects they are familiar with and interested in, and can’t or at any rate don’t about what they’re not. 

    I do find the taxonomy useful, though, for coming up with assignments. I’m all like, yo! (Yes, yo.) Evaluate this. Or, summarize this. Or whatever.

    Also (because I think critically about abstract stuff like this), I find myself thinking, Well, what if we privileged memorization over the supposedly higher ability to synthesize? Huh? How you like me now, punk? Interestingly, that would be a pedagogy that would be troped as conservative (pre-Dewey, it was what education was, really), but there’s no real correlation to right or left in political terms.

    Fruitful, meaty, or mere vegetable love? Don’t ask me. I’m undergoing a pedagogical crisis of faith, as usual, especially as usual at this time of the semester. I envy Michael what seems to be his certainty about what he’s doing when he teaches and why. More and more I just want to retreat to the factual when I teach, at least on graded assignments.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  12:02 PM
  20. Like Dennis, I was reminded of a certain canonical text by a certain canonical playwright, but I won’t make mention of it for fear of falling victim to Bérubé’s liberal banning procedure.

    It appears Pakaluk has discovered the hidden transcript behind What’s Liberal?.  My guess is that he discovered it long before reading the book.

    Posted by J—  on  10/27  at  12:05 PM
  21. Intractability:
    You can’t win.
    You can’t break even.
    You can’t even get out of the game.

    I got your objective truth right here*.

    And it will be times like this that I will kinda miss KO coming in and providing an Object Lesson in intractable divides.

    To be frank, I will actually miss KO in general - found him rather endearing. Which is why I was thinking “Is he really going here with this?” in some disbelief, while reading his fateful comment (which although started badly and then deteriorated - a construction which Mr. Pakaluk seems to have emulated.) This just cements my bonafides as liberal weenie, as in my heart of hearts I still find it difficult to accept of KO, Mr. Pakaluk, etc. that, they don’t like us!  they really don’t like us!

    *[GNF ... or Heat Death of the Universe]

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  12:11 PM
  22. which although started badly and then deteriorated

    I know! Calling Zeke a poodle!

    - Chris

    Disclaimer: The above comment may contain one or more cheap shots. Use for satiric purposes only. No recommendation as to the relative value of actual dog breeds is implied.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/27  at  12:26 PM
  23. CCP (18),
    But do any of these yet-to-be-thought-up concepts exist yet?  Which ones? And when they do, they won’t be mind-independent, will they?

    I’m also a little unclear on this “hypothetical realm of probability and possibility"… It strikes me that this is not really analogous to the undiscovered coast, which must already be in existence somewhere before the pebble is discovered.  Couldn’t I say that if the “realm” itself is non-existent, that whatever concepts are contained within are also non-existent?

    Captcha: million, as in a million possibilites…

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  12:27 PM
  24. So if you want to read the “liberals can kill you” paragraph, TC, you’ll have to buy the thing.  Because if I told it to you here I’d have to kill you.

    Curses, foiled again!  Do you know what it costs to send a book to Japan and then, months later, ship it back to the States?!  ‘Cause if you do, please tell me; I didn’t really check it out all that carefully when I shipped all the others out here.  Let’s just say my brilliant and insightful wife has banned me from buying any books while we’re in Japan and leave it at that. 

    Now, since I’m discovering every day as I explore the wonderful libraries here that they are not wonderful enough for me (until I get to the point when I can read academic Japanese, or really anything beyond books aimed at 2-year-olds, that is), I think I’ll do a variation on an already-classic Chris Clarke move and invite you out here, Michael, to follow up on the “threat.” You could bring over books for me to use in the spring, I could give you ones I brought over here but won’t need anymore to take back with you, I could pay you next August for the former and you could return me the latter (you have to trust me on this one--cf. above ban), you could make your book tour a real World tour (with a cool title like “Double Barrelled Liberal Rhetoric” or just “Ni-hon” [that’s a multilingual pun, for those keeping score]), and oh, we could try to play a round of golf or three.

    Works for me....

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/27  at  12:45 PM
  25. It appears Pakaluk has discovered the hidden transcript behind What’s Liberal?.

    You may be on to something - by the end of the review he seems to be responding more to WLAtLA - the Graphic Novel than to the actual book.

    [re: previous comment:
    Aaaargh! - how many meaning-destroying typos can I fit into one comment:
    which although started badly and then deteriorated
    ...
    bonafides as a liberal weenie]

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  12:46 PM
  26. Brian #23: I don’t know if concepts exist before they exist in a verifiable way - though I can say that no concept that does exist, exists outside the realm of possibility (the realm of which I speak). So really, the realm of probability and possibility must exist for anything to have ever existed - so, this is an existent realm, not a non-existent realm. Or more specifically, it’s a realm that partly exists, and partly doesn’t exist - or we could just call it Tao.

    And lets not get started on paradoxes. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that there exists a concept that states that no concepts exist? It’s a false concept, but it still exists. I just made it exist.

    If I was going to take Michael’s argument further, which I think I am actually doing at this point, concepts qualitatively differ from physical objects not in terms of existing or not existing, which they actually have in common, but instead differ in that concepts can falsely exist, while physical reality cannot.

    How does this effect concepts being discovered? I think concepts can be, and should be treated exactly like physical reality before they are discovered, but once discovered, or rather, once they exist, they are as different from physical reality as anything can be. Anything that exists that is.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/27  at  01:38 PM
  27. Following Michael’s observation, Pakaluk’s approach to Michael’s book swings between branches that aren’t there:

    “Bérubé does not have much time for such things”
    “He doesn’t see this state of affairs as contrived”
    “Bérubé is not quite so systematic”
    “he offers almost nothing by way of a developed explanation of what he takes the liberal arts to be”

    And he takes a moment to point out who Michael isn’t:

    “Bérubé is an English professor, not a philosopher”

    And what the book isn’t, by saying what it would be if it weren’t something else:

    “If it were not for the outrageous polemic, his book would be an enjoyable read.”

    This approach can be productive (or do I mean not unproductive?). One thinks intractably of Leonardo’s exquisite dissection of a testicle. [caption: “Mio Dio, it’s not a truck!"]

    Which brings us to

    “at worst, there are certain professors who have not yet written off manliness”

    We get a write-off when our manliness goes?!

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  01:52 PM
  28. CCP,

    Watch out.  Looks like you’re getting into some Goedelian territory there.  Next thing you’ll be proving that there are concepts that are undecidable.

    Michael,

    Thanks for your clear and insightful comments about the Harris issue.  I couldn’t agree more.  I also enjoy the fact that you can make literary theory (mostly) approachable for a rational-minded scientist like me.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  01:57 PM
  29. "Yields a false concept when appended to it’s quotation”, yields a false concept when appended to it’s quotation.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  02:05 PM
  30. Amanda, you’re quite right that Benjamin Bloom did not envision his taxonomy as a set of progressive stages.  Instead, the taxonomy is simply a way of classifying examination questions: which call for factual recall, which call for inference, which call for evaluation, and so on (Bloom’s taxonomy emerged from his work with the Chicago examination board). 

    Often, work like Bloom’s gets sucked into a Piaget-like narrative of progressive cognitive development, in which critical thinking naturally comes after factual knowledge consumption. 

    At the same time that we should question Piaget’s idea of a natural progression (which led to the simply wrong idea that certain content is not developmentally appropriate for children of certain ages)we should remember Jerome Bruner’s research on the spiral curriculum and his adaptation of Vygotsky’s idea of scaffolding.  Bruner writes that young children tend to learn in three discrete stages: enactive, iconic, and symbolic.  That is, first children build squares out of wooden pieces; then they count the number of pieces it takes to make squares of different sizes and write it iconically; then they learn how to abstract from those actual experiments to some general formula for quadratic equations. 

    Bruner didn’t see this development as natural or necessary.  I, for example, learned quadratic equations without ever going through the enactive and iconic stages.  At the same time, I had no concrete idea of what quadratic equations represented in the world.  Bruner sees the stages as a way of building *meaningful learning* in which abstract concepts are intimately tied to real world exemplars.

    All of which is to say that critical thinking can be built up in stages, but these stages are neither natural, hard-wired brain stages nor necessary stages for all children.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  02:13 PM
  31. CCP #26,

    Yes, it does strike me as odd - very odd.  Probably why my head is starting to hurt…

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  02:24 PM
  32. Sometimes, Michael, I think your tactic must be to back a dump truck of words up to the some carefully extracted morsel of your opponent’s case and proceed to anaerobicize it.  Isn’t it possible for you to doubt that the ideological condition of the academy is contrived, and yet still sometimes wax nostalgic about a past (in Veblen’s day, perhaps) when class-enabled conservative elites might be easier to pin, if you could only time travel?  It’s not difficult for me to see why this would be attractive.

    I tend to think that conservatives were not, on average, smarter than they are now (academia notwithstanding).  Quite the contrary.  Empirically, at least according to Inglehart’s data, the higher ones education the more conservative one is likely to be… up to graduate school at least.  Now, why would grad school be some sort of threshold beyond which ideology turns south?  Is it the infusion of enriched intellectual oxygen, do you think?  In which case, what does that say about undergrad education?

    Or might it be that undergraducation is under-educating people?  To be fair maybe enlightened academics are so marinated in a deep pedagogical ethic that they communicate knowledge impartially… after which their charges come to an independent conservative conclusion.

    I realize that what’s happening in the middle of the cross-section may not be indicative of what’s happening at the ends of the distribution over time, but my personal experience is that either conservatives are getting smarter… or that getting smarter is making people more… conservative.  Which I’m pretty sure would trouble you if you thought it true. 

    I confess, sometimes I wax nostalgic for the days when the left sounded smarter and fresher…

    Posted by Demosophist  on  10/27  at  02:24 PM
  33. I’ve been having the “mind independent concept” argument for quite a long time, so thanks very much for the phrase. That should make it a lot easier to at least center the discussion.

    I will note that the idea of God is something of an attempt to establish a “universal solvent” for the matter. Given a God-mind, then there are no “mind independent concepts” since there is no “mind independent” anything. Address, street, state, country, world, solar system, galaxy, universe, mind-of-God,” as Wilder would say, and “Bob’s your uncle” as someone rather more faux British would say.

    Still, the answer to the famous question now seems at hand:

    Q: If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?

    A: The one I’m thinking of did.

    Posted by James Killus  on  10/27  at  02:44 PM
  34. “Yields a false concept when appended to it’s quotation”, yields a false concept when appended to it’s quotation.

    A quotation ain’t nothin’ but two apostrophes.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/27  at  02:56 PM
  35. Good call on Godel! And yeah, my head hurts now too. I thought I’d fall asleep last night, and wake with clarity. Instead I awoke with a dream that Boy George had released a come-back album, and it was actually pretty good. He needed to shave though.

    Anyway, I don’t find the mind-independent problem a biggy. It’s like the God-the-creator thang, I don’t care how we got here so much as I care what’s expected of me now that I am here.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/27  at  02:58 PM
  36. It’s simple to understand the “neo-conservative” mind, really, if we just consider this:

    Neo-Conservative “intellectuals” are just plain crazy. They suffer from a creepy form of intellectual myopia that blocks any enlightened concept that contradicts their narrow views. And here’s the stickler: THEY HAVE NO IDEA THIS IS HAPPENING IN THEIR BRAINS.

    I would normally call them sophists, but sophists have a conscious recognition they are making shit up, while these neo-conservative thinkers do not recognize they are making shit up, and therefore are not sophists—or even liars in the conventional definition of a liar.

    We know they are making shit up, and we think they know they are making shit up, simply because most of the piffle they spew out sounds specious, illogical, and untrue to the point of absurdity, but what we fail to understand is that they don’t think they are making shit up! They speak with tremendous certainty that even a polished sophist cannot fake, which is further proof neo-conservatives are just plain nuts.

    And yet we, nice people we are, keep debating these obviously mentally-ill people simply because that’s the nature of our enlightened thinking process.

    Isn’t it frustrating though, Michael? I mean, having to pull out crayons and sock puppets to point out the logical fallacies and questionable facts in a Harvard graduate’s critique?

    Unless, of course, one considers that this person suffers from the aforementioned neo-conservative intellectual myopia. Maybe we’ll find all wingnuts suffer from this malady and it will explain their maddeningly illogical logic and unabashed lying.

    Posted by mat  on  10/27  at  02:59 PM
  37. Thanks, Alvin. I found the dude who did put Bloom’s taxonomy into a Piaget-like progression: William Perry (1970). His methodology is summarized on the handout I was given. Get this:

    The nine developmental positions identified by Perry ... were devised through close observation, intensive interviews, and measurement of Harvard undergraduates (82 men and 2 women) as they proceeded through college in the 1950s and 1960s.

    Suspicious methodology, if you ask me.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  03:00 PM
  38. I also just wanted to say that the distinction between procedural and substantive liberalism seems contrived.  At some point the term “liberal” was appropriated by social democrats (or perhaps it was foisted on them), but Arendt wasn’t confused by this, nor were a lot of others.  To my mind there was a time when classical liberalism was also substantively liberal (to adopt your phraseology).  And I still see the latter as substantive, even if I’m not allowed to use the two adverbs in tandem. 

    At the present time classical liberals are seen as conservatives, and “substantive liberals” are, at least in some important senses, procedurally illiberal.  Or simply illiberal to my mind, since I don’t see what substance they’ve actually retained when they can’t seem to countenance the use of military force to overthrow a totalitarian illiberal regime.  What’s substantive about that?

    I suppose I do agree with you to the extent that I consider it somewhat perverse that “liberal” is routinely used perjoratively, but perhaps it has become the new blonde?

    Posted by Demosophist  on  10/27  at  03:00 PM
  39. OK, that started me fantacizing about the difference between procedural and substantive blondes.

    Heh.

    Posted by Demosophist  on  10/27  at  03:04 PM
  40. Did you know that after you were killed in the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, …

    I have to admit to a fitful grasp of events following that sad time, and even less sense of what went before. I have a lot of catching up to do.

    Thanks to you and Alvin Lucier, and of course, some guy named Sal, for engaging the subject. I appreciate it.

    captcha, as if preordained: audience.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  03:19 PM
  41. Bart (sharpening knives): “Dad… start diggin’ some theorist-holes.”

    Posted by norbizness  on  10/27  at  03:19 PM
  42. Neo-Conservative “intellectuals” are just plain crazy. They suffer from a creepy form of intellectual myopia that blocks any enlightened concept that contradicts their narrow views. And here’s the stickler: THEY HAVE NO IDEA THIS IS HAPPENING IN THEIR BRAINS.

    I would normally call them sophists, but sophists have a conscious recognition they are making shit up, while these neo-conservative thinkers do not recognize they are making shit up, and therefore are not sophists—or even liars in the conventional definition of a liar.

    The neocon movement started as a reaction of the left to Stalinism, so perhaps understanding neoconservatives might involve some recognition of that history… at least to the extent that one at least attempts to be consistent.  The notion that neoconservatism is about “making shit up” is one of those modern memes that people simply won’t understand in twenty years.  It’ll become some inscrutable idiosyncrasy of political history, like the idea that “know-nothing” once implied wisdom.

    Posted by Demosophist  on  10/27  at  03:25 PM
  43. Or simply illiberal to my mind, since I don’t see what substance they’ve actually retained when they can’t seem to countenance the use of military force to overthrow a totalitarian illiberal regime.

    Huh? Are you talking about Iraq or Uzbekistan?

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  03:41 PM
  44. A quotation ain’t nothin’ but two apostrophes.

    It is. It is. It’s nothing more than I deserve for using such a cheap ghost writer. It’s since been returned to its crypt.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  03:46 PM
  45. I’m not familiar with the using intractable to mean unresovlable. I’ve used it to mean something more like “not likely to be resolved” or “not easily resooved”, etc.

    With Habermas, I think it’s important to stress that he speaks only of the need to recognize that a dispute is “in principle” resolvable. Just that last sliver of reasonablness is all that is required. No actual finding of solutions.

    Then there is the whole performative contradiction thing involved in denying that some disputes can be, even in principle, resolved.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  03:58 PM
  46. I think that maybe what’s lying behind this talk about mind-independent concepts is a worry about objectivity. Michael (and loads of other people) tends to identify mind-independence and objectivity, which maybe leads people to note that the nature of concepts often looks objective, and conclude that they must be mind-independent. I think that on the contrary you should just acknowledge that mind-dependent things can have perfectly objective features. Touchdowns are mind-dependent, in the sense that (like slavery but unlike gravity) they wouldn’t exist without human practices and conventions. But it’s a perfectly objective matter whether a touchdown has been scored, and what its consequences are.

    So I beseech our host to sever the connection (which is especially explicit in Rhetorical Occasions) between objectivity and mind-independence, and look for another account of objectivity. Mind you, I never convince anyone to do this.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  04:28 PM
  47. Huh? Are you talking about Iraq or Uzbekistan?

    I vote (procedural liberalism, anyone?) for
    Myanmar!

    We Are All The State Peace and Development Council Now!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/27  at  04:47 PM
  48. <objective matter whether a touchdown has been scored, and what its consequences are.</a>

    Au contraire, mon frere! It’s a perfectly subjective matter, having to do with officials’ eyeballs and such. Once a touchdown has been signalled (and survives the replay challenge) it then is entered in the scoresheet and is verifiable in a way that is rather robustly intersubjective, but prior to that, I can point you to quite a few intractable (dude, I love this word!) divides about whether a touchdown was or was not “objectively” produced.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/27  at  04:52 PM
  49. But we will not kill him.  Yet.

    Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
    Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
    God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
    God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
    The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
    Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
    God says, “Out on Highway 61.

    The GNF will be the only arbiter of “intractable disputes.” Next in that line might be cruise missles with DU munitions, then assault rifles (or those new 7.62mm machine cannons they are putting on Coast Guard ships in the Great Lakes--why are they doing that?). 

    There was a surf/punk band in the late 70’s in LA that called themselves the “Kill Pink Poodles;” they changed the name because they offended too many people (it might have been their big pink cadillac with Kill Poodle stickers all over it).  Unclear whether Abe or God wanted that killing done?

    we should remember Jerome Bruner’s research on the spiral curriculum and his adaptation of Vygotsky’s idea of scaffolding.
    In reading the thread i missed the detour that by-passed
    pedagogy of the obsessed, but if we don’t find it, Maslow and Gardner will be sneaking in soon.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  04:55 PM
  50. Thanks Michael.  This is oddly clarifying. 

    I’m in happy agreement with the proposition that ethical truths are not out there waiting to be discovered in the way physics is.  Even if one is an ethical realist, there is surely much to be said for keeping projects of inquiry distinct in an academic setting, so that we aren’t tempted to reduce every question of the nature of the world to an ethical or political stance.  (Indeed, part of the task of the academy should be to tend to the shape of arguments, to avoid unwarranted collapses to a single point where there are smart arguments pointing several ways.  But of course one’s refusal to collapse to a given point will always be interpreted by partisans of that particular collapse as a tricky argument for a different collapse.)

    As you’ve noted earlier there does exist one self-described left position that is ethically realist and resists the idea that inquiry into the nature of the world will not simultaneously tell us how we should live.  Then there are folks like Pakaluk who really want their opponents to make this left-ethical-realist argument, because (a) any such argument will be a rickety construction vulnerable to attack and (b) the very making of it can be used as prima facie of intellectual intolerance.  So the part where he tells you what book you should have written is pretty funny.

    I get the same problem with political economy.  A lot of folks think of it as two opposed ethical/political views, a capital-championing free-market view and a capital-abhorring Marxism – so that any analytical move can be instantly mapped onto one of two reductive extremes.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  04:55 PM
  51. <<Au contraire, mon frere! It’s a perfectly subjective matter, having to do with officials’ eyeballs and such>>

    Pas du tout, M. Protevi, it is perfectly objective. The disputes break out and persist because one side believes that the agreed-upon procedures for determining whether a touchdown are scored have not been correctly followed. You can’t feel cheated unless you believe there are objective rules. It is the existence of those standards, by which all parties agree in advance to be bound, that makes this dispute objective. (In contrast, to, say, disputes over matters of taste, where there are no independent, agreed-on, standards.)

    The fact that recording a touchdown involves official’s eyeballs (or cameras, in the case of a replay) is irrelevant. If the use of eyeballs makes something subjective then astronomy and molecular biology are subjective. Figuring out the state of the world always involves perception - or other kinds of representation and causal traffic with the universe.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  05:29 PM
  52. Hi Dominic, we can’t get to deep into this or else we’d be here all day talking about scientific realism and other stuff which really isn’t mon truc. And you’re right, of course, about the eyeballs; I was being flippant, which happens a lot on ce blogue. But the real issue is that it seems that to you “objective” means “according to agreed-upon procedures.” To me, it’s the agreement to enter the game that renders the thing intersubjective rather than “objective,” which for me has a lot of baggage, and in the ethical / political realm, a lot of blood on its hands (if a concept has hands!) Now I don’t want to be accused of saying science is just a game. But I do want to say that football is.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/27  at  05:53 PM
  53. Now I don’t want to be accused of saying science is just a game. But I do want to say that football is.

    Me, I’m just waiting to hear whether Michael agreed to kick it.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/27  at  05:55 PM
  54. Well, John, you’re right that we can’t go on about this all night, and I don’t know that in the end I think “objective” just means “governed by agreed-upon procedures” (tho’ I think there is a relation there; I’m not sure about its nature).

    But I do think that mind-dependent phenomena can be perfectly objective. Objectivity is best disentangled from ideas like “mind-independence” or “part of the fabric of the universe”. It is the belief that the universe is telling you what to do which is what I think has the blood on its hands. (Although probably every position in ethics has blood on its hands, because humans will adopt any slogan to help them feel better about pushing people around.)

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  06:06 PM
  55. Me, I’m just waiting to hear whether Michael agreed to kick it.

    They told him don’t you ever come around here
    Don’t wanna see your face, you better disappear
    The fire’s in their eyes and their words are really clear
    So kick it, just kick it

    You better run, you better do what you can
    Don’t wanna see no blood, don’t be a macho man
    You wanna be tough, better do what you can
    So kick it, but you wanna be bad

    Just kick it, kick it, kick it, kick it
    No one wants to be defeated
    Showin’ how funky and strong is your fight
    It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right
    Just kick it, kick it
    Just kick it, kick it
    Just kick it, kick it
    Just kick it, kick it

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/27  at  06:19 PM
  56. Silly me! The next two bits are very important in setting up the kick or be kicked dilemma:

    They’re out to get you, better leave while you can
    Don’t wanna be a boy, you wanna be a man
    You wanna stay alive, better do what you can
    So kick it, just kick it

    You have to show them that you’re really not scared
    You’re playin’ with your life, this ain’t no truth or dare
    They’ll kick you, then they beat you,
    Then they’ll tell you it’s fair
    So kick it, but you wanna be bad

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/27  at  06:27 PM
  57. Since Michael relies on John Searle’s THE CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL REALITY, perhaps we can put this in Searlian (Searlite?  Searlness?) terms:

    A touchdown would be ontologically subjective since it depends on human agency to exist.  However it is also quite stable since social reality tends to be that way.

    An argument about whether or not a play scored a touchdown would be an epistemological argument not an ontological argument since it is about our knowledge of the ball breaking the plane of the goal line for a particular play NOT about whether or not the ball breaking the plane of the goal line is a touchdown or not within the rules of the game.  There is agreement about what a touchdown is--there is disagreement about our knowledge of a particular play “counts” as a touchdown.

    Or something like that.  It sounded a lot more clever in my head than it appears on the screen.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  06:45 PM
  58. I see it hasn’t occurred to anyone to wonder whether concepts can be object-independent. As a case in point, I cite Eric the half-a-bee.

    Half a bee, philosophically,
    must eo ipso facto half not be
    But half a bee has got to be,
    vis a vis its entity
    - D’you see?

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  06:51 PM
  59. Or something like that.  It sounded a lot more clever in my head than it appears on the screen.

    Sounds (looks?) pretty clever to me!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/27  at  07:09 PM
  60. Pat - which half are you citing?

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  07:55 PM
  61. "Hmm, 11:59 pm sounds a wee bit suspicious.  Was this really an Arbitrary But Fun Friday post?

    The 11:59 is an allusion to the Blondie song, TC, on which Clem Burke is smokin’. “

    I had hoped it was an allusion to the Scrawl song “11:59 (It’s January)” which I dearly love.  I wish they’d reunite.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  07:59 PM
  62. To me, the real line to be drawn here is the standard descriptive/normative one. “Moral principles” are never descriptive (testable approximations to some state of the world.) Therefore the phrase <objective moral principles</i> is an oxymoron. The sentence Thou shalt not kill is a moral principle. is descriptive and can be tested, but any attempt to ascribe “correctness” in general to such a statement flips it irretrievably into the realm of the normative.

    I fear that I have really just played a language game to shift the grounds of debate - and do not have at the ready a good defense of my last assertion without getting all tangled up in representational issues, so I will quit the playing field by meekly hiding behind the words of the inimitable Lee Rudolph

    of that whereof we cannot squeak, we mice be silent

    [As you are probably aware Michael, lots of strange formatting lossage going on with the commenting software - lots of tags left in & my href only started working when I put a paragraph break in.]

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  08:22 PM
  63. Well, it does seem disappointing when a reviewer does not really “review” a book.

    In the words of Foucault, reading is the intractable contract a reviewer ought to make with a book. A reader ought to read closely and wrestle carefully with the book’s ideas, and ought to attempt to understand them, even if they are confusing or offensive to one’s own ideas. That is the deal you make when you agree to review someone’s work.

    I don’t think the Pakaluk guy did that in his review, and it’s a shame. But his review finally makes me want to read the book for myself, though, so that I can at last learn what is so liberal about the liberal arts.

    Maybe I will review the book, too? If I do, I will let you folks know. And I will be intractable about my contract with it! smile
    That bit about Habermas and Lyotard is also very interesting.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  08:58 PM
  64. Geeze, Pakaluk is a junior propagandist in training to write for a propaganda magazine.  His problem isn’t to understand the book, it’s to morph the argument of the book into something which will agitate his readers and serve as effective propaganda for his side.  Sounds like he did a good job.  All this earnest stuff about how he misunderstood or misread the book is beside the point.

    Posted by  on  10/27  at  11:29 PM
  65. Hi MQ,

    You’re probably right. And that may be one of the perils of the liberal arts: people are still trained to take ideas sort of seriously.

    I mean, even the things people link here (for example the Gitlin essay about the night of long knives) are texts that other readers engage with and try to understand. They don’t “make up” the detail about the long knives (who could be so creative!?), interjecting it as a metaphorical example of where Gitlin’s argument is headed.

    You’re right Pakaluk’s connection between Shakespeare and socialized medicine is designed to rattle people’s chains; the sad thing is that is reinforce the impasses between the so-called liberal arts, and those elusive conservative colleagues that Berube and other liberals say they want in their departments. 

    I don’t know how seriously people take the National Review Online. I’ve never heard of it. Still, when I read national book review forums, I kind of expect that the reviewers are writing about books they have read. I trust them to be honest evaluators, not creative writers in their own right.

    If I were a conservative professor, I’d probably be inclined to feel cheesed off at a liberal professor who uses the Bard to advance birth control and family planning, or whatever it is the conservatives hate about socialized medicine these days.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  09:30 AM
  66. "but I do not understand how people like Harris [...] can insist on the existence of mind-independent concepts.”

    Dr. Gazzaniga offers a simple (in the good sense) explanation: their brains make them do it.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  11:28 AM
  67. I finally got a copy of WlatLA and will now have an arbitrary and fun weekend alternating Berube chapters and Eagleton reviews. Actually, I’d love to see a Berube-Eagleton literary deathmatch (opening act: show trial of Chris Clark, presented by Oaktown Girl).

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  03:48 PM
  68. I see acquittal on a technicality in my future.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/28  at  03:57 PM
  69. What is this thing acquittal that you speak of? In my interpretive community, this word makes no sense in connection with show trial.

    captcha: “idea” as in “I have only the vaguest what ‘interpretive community’ is really supposed to mean”.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  05:10 PM
  70. In my interpretive community, this word makes no sense in connection with show trial.

    What is this, some sort of Fishing expedition?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/28  at  05:54 PM
  71. I see acquittal on a technicality in my future.

    Ha! You wish.

    CCST Update coming as soon as I can get more than 2 minutes on the computer machine.

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/28  at  06:09 PM
  72. Cher Professeur Berube:

    Je suis heureux de vous rencontrer, Monsieur. M. Alvin Lucier requested that I post an example of the copious discourse generated by your controversial book. I’ll risk the “maladetti e distrutti siano da Dio” reactions the comments below, for I’m always up for either a civilised exchange of views over scotch or, a la convenance de vous et de vos devotes, a critical spaghetti-western style shoot-out. Basta! e Va bene!

    Votre humble serviteur,

    Dr JA

    Au contraire, MAL--forget the proximate occasion of this debate--i.e., a review of Berube’s book--the debate has actually been about the widespread intellectual dereliction of those “professing” English and their shameless promotion of antinomian social and political causes (whether post-structuralism or ethnic-gender-Marxist-body studies-eco-radicalism spawned by post-structuralists like the miscreant intellectual Foucault) via glossy throw-away journals like the PMLA. As FederalDog (among many others) has noted, the MLA “thrives” because it runs the largest cattle-car interviewing system for job candidates, who must pay their own way to the convention. It should also be noted that the “intellectual content” of the vast majority of MLA convention sessions is beneath contempt and nearly beneath ridicule.

    MAL makes a specious defence of what has become a national intellectual scandal and embarrassment (the “profession” of English) by presenting a “People"-mag-style “Who’s in--Who’s Out” gossip column tout of the latest lit-cret fads, fashions and follies. Would that he would apply this capricious practice of shilling and panning to those moribund grey-beards, Marx and Fraud!

    Of course MAL is not interested in engaging the ideas of Dr Tallis, who is not only a scientist and medical practitioner, but a serious contributor to intellectual debates in philosophy, linguistics and literary criticism (not to mention several successful forays into fiction and poetry). Contra Berube’s defence of post-structuralism, there is Tallis:
    For ideas that are based on incompetent
    philosophy and worse linguistics, are
    internally inconsistent and have little
    or no explanatory force or real specific
    application, and are often expressed in
    abominable prose, they have really had a
    better run for their money that they
    deserve.
    Tallis calls on defenders of post-structuralism to get off the international gravy-train and be retrained as useful citizens, rather than continue to enjoy their unearned privileges as champagne hipsters and millionaire Marxists publishing politicized “criticism” in what amount to academic vanity presses.

    Yes, MAL, I’ve read Brian Vickers, who generally castigates those you defend for their treason to Shakespeare (in “Appropriating Shakespeare"), though, like most partisans of rhetoricians, Vickers is unfairly hostile to Plato.

    But what about a closing commentary summarizing the whole current field of English, and this time not by some kept critical drone in an English department, but by an actual writer of the best literature, or so voted a Nobel prize committee:

    I think they’re fairly calamitous, these
    English courses . . . They’re actively
    destructive of civilization and thought.
    When I was at Oxford in 1950, I think we all
    knew that English was not a serious subject
    of study, not worth a serious degree, not
    worth a physics degree. Now what has happened
    is that this NON-subject has been taken over
    by very politically motivated people.
    Universities have become places where free
    thinking is not allowed. Nowadays people read
    very, very little and they have elaborate
    theories. This has particularly damaged the
    newer countries, the lesser cultures, who at
    great cost have produced intellectuals. They
    send them to Oxford, Cambridge, they send
    them to American universities, and they come
    back spouting dreadful political tripe.
    They’re corrupt! (V.S. Naipaul, as reported
    by Paul Theroux)
    Leave it to a Nobel prize winner like Naipaul to find les mots justes.

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  06:59 PM
  73. Fascinating stuff, Dr JA. Can you provide a link so we can read more?

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/28  at  07:41 PM
  74. Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
    I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
    I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
    And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
    Clowns Proyect to the left of me,
    Jokers Dr JA to the right, here I am,
    Stuck in the middle with you.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  08:40 PM
  75. Dr JA, humor me on this one:

    What would be your translation of sprezzatura?

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  12:21 AM
  76. But M. Siegel, one wouldn’t want to be thought a poseur, a soi-disant savant with an idée fixe, now would one?

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  01:14 AM
  77. Tonight, the Carter family shall answer for me along with my acoustical ten-dollar gee-tar, while I’m singin’to my 22 year-old right-wing gun moll):

    You’re gonna miss me when gone,
    You’re gonna miss me all day long,
    Oh I know you will miss when I’m gone,
    You’re gonna miss me by my way,
    You’re gonna miss me every day,
    Oh I know you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.

    Cheers n’ beers,

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  01:57 AM
  78. I don’t see why I’m supposed to trust V.S. Naipaul on the subject of teaching literature. Hell, after Half a Life I don’t really trust him to write literature. I certainly don’t trust him on politics, either; at least, not after this 2004 interview:

    ‘Well, clearly Iraq is not the place to have gone. But religious war is so threatening to the rest of us that it cannot be avoided. It will have to be fought… there are certain countries which foment it, and they probably should be destroyed, actually.’

    Saudi Arabia?

    ‘I would like to think so, yes.’

    Iran?

    ‘I think Iran has to be dealt with, too.’

    Oui, oui, les mots justes have been found. Somehow, I am unconvinced by the argument that “these English courses” are actively responsible for thought and civilization being destroyed. At least, I’m not “actively” convinced.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  03:57 AM
  79. The previous commenters have kind of demonstrated this point for me already, but it’s well worth making explicit, or maybe not (maybe I should just mention that Jin Joo Hong [#148 in the world and member of the KLPGA] just won the spaghetti-western shootout otherwise known as the KOLON-Hana Bank Championship in Korea today), but anyway here goes.

    I think a more intellectally interesting response to Chapter 6 of the Book We All Must Buy than I laid out in #3 and which others have implicitly making already is to ask, “Why the Habermas-Lyotard debate?” (As opposed to say, the Jameson-Ahmad one, the Laclau-Zizek one, the Searle-Derrida one, etc., etc.) What motivates it and makes it so very relevant for contemporary liberalism?

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/29  at  04:48 AM
  80. Perhaps an ABFF idea:  the Big Academic Non-Celebrity Death Match that we all need to be paying much attention to nowadays is… because....

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/29  at  04:54 AM
  81. "sprezzatura"--I’ve to free-lance it senza dizionario--to have contempt or casual disdain for something, or “sprezzare”, and in the Rinascimento, a kind of apparent ease shown while one accomplishes something difficult. Don’t think there’s an on-line Petrocchi, but I’ll check it when I’m home again.

    ciao per ora,

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  09:29 AM
  82. To John Protevi:

    Some of us blog on the ACTA Online blog--for samples, check “Mirror, Mirror” (moi contra Jonah Goldberg--of NRO?--non lo so) or “Devil’s Advocate” or the current one on Michael’s book. Blogged also on college sports (contra Ammons and Simpson) on “Inside Higher Ed” recently (sorry--I don’t do links yet, and me gun moll’s still asleep)

    Cheers,

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  09:45 AM
  83. To Pat:

    Naipaul, like one of my favourite Bengali writers in English, Nirad Chaudhuri, the “unknown Indian”, has some interesting “thoughts out of season” on world politics. So do me mates at my VFW post--want a few?

    Cheers,

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  10:03 AM
  84. christian h - as promised:

    Chris Clarke Show Trial Update - Finance and Publicity Report

    Even with the date and location yet to be named, I was we (the WAAGNFN Party) were making BACM (Big-Ass Cash Money) selling court room seats and media credentials to the CCST until someone a few weeks ago mentioned the “cult” word, which Michael “I thought you’d never ask” Berube jumped all over like Bill O’Reilly on Christmas.  All the big corporate media folks are now demanding their money back, which I don’t have because I spent it on essential expenses: booze and Boy Toys. (Hey, I didn’t know the gravy train was going to come to a screeching halt!).

    Anyway, we still have media interest from Geraldo, the Larouche people, and this guy says he wants to do color commentary. I’m almost certain all the money “we” lost on expenses can be made up from those suckers sources alone.

    If, on the other hand, we decide to give up the respect and credibility a show trial would bring and embrace the “cult” word, we should consider the sure-fire money maker of a Steel Cage Match instead.

    (In considering the above options, please keep in mind that they do not represent a Habermas-Lyotardian intractable divde. We should be as creative as we need to be).

    Yours in Service,
    Oaktown Girl

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/29  at  10:15 AM
  85. <sprezzatura definition>

    Not to play the fawning sycophant, but thanks for the cultured answer - some might gloss it as effortless grace, I would imagine. Not the kind of thing, for instance, I would get from some baseball-hat wearing Upper West Side troglodyte.

    However, I will say, speaking just for myself, that I was really “down” with your answer in #77 when I thought it was written in response to my query.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  10:36 AM
  86. Okay, here’s the plan: to avoid the “C” word, have Kirby Olson, KO, play the role of the Chief Prosector. You don’t want to make it seem like the WAAGNFN Party is pulling all the strings.

    Put 24 hour protection on KO and keep him in the Green Zone. Make sure that party faithful (don’t say cult members) like John Protevi and Rich Pulchalsky don’t try a drive-by shooting. Call back the legitimate media and tell them the party is cleaning up its act, changing its good-ole-boy image.

    If that doesn’t work, skip to Plan B:
    Big Academic Non-Celebrity Death Match featuring Alan Sokal and Andrew Ross. It’s good to go retro the first time around. Call them Mr. Theory and Mr. Gravity.

    If that’s a success (may the best man win), go on to Judith Butler versus John Sexton. Ground rules: Keep it clean--no hugging, no bitching, no girl-fighting.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  10:47 AM
  87. Some of us blog on the ACTA Online blog

    And some of us don’t. You’ll find when you get the hang of those tricky links (they aren’t that much more difficult than the cut-and-paste you seem to have mastered), that they perform the function that footnotes do in books. And since the Internets is a big place, a little help to your reader in providing the context for remarks is always a nice thing.

    Oh, and by the way, Dr JA, when I got my PhD my Doktorvater told me not to use “Dr” in social settings. Something about not wanting to appear insecure. I believe his exact words were, “it ruins your sprezzatura.”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/29  at  11:41 AM
  88. Okay, here’s the plan: to avoid the “C” word

    So now we are not even allowed to admit that we are All Courtiers Now? Count me out of the show trial. Some Liberal blog this is - there are some moral lines that were simply made not to be crossed. The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me.

    Remember, Knowledge is Good.

    You may now all return to your regularly scheduled anonymous flattery.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  11:54 AM
  89. Okay--forget Kirby Olson as impartial, non-affiliated Chief Prosecutor for the CCST.

    Switch to JP.Stormcrow as Chief Prosecutor and market him as a kind of Eliot Spitzer of the Internets: the guy who draws intractable moral lines in the cyber-sand.

    Now, once JP.Stormcrow starts prosecuting Clarke’s identity-thieving ass, we are going to need some solid evidence of hard crimes. What has he done besides posing as an eccentric anti-Marxist novelist? He wrote a bad poem that doesn’t rhyme about his dog, but that’s not even on the misdemeanors level of killing 150 people with, say, chemical weapons.

    We need to think BIG. Otherwise it’s going to have to be the BAN-C Death Match of Laura Kipnis versus Andrea Dworkin back from the grave!

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  12:06 PM
  90. Can I put in a request for Amanda French as Defense Counsel, and for trial by villlanelle?

    Captcha: hope.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/29  at  12:23 PM
  91. I guess that would be okay.

    Just so long as French doesn’t try to argue that any decision to execute you (should you be found guilty of whatever you’re charged with) “will set ablaze anew the country and plunge the entire region into the unknown...”

    captcha: quality.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  12:43 PM
  92. And since the Internets is a big place, a little help to your reader in providing the context for remarks is always a nice thing.

    I agree. It really is quite unfair to readers to drop them right into the middle of Internet (or academic) brouhahas with long, complicated histories and not provide any context to help them find their way.

    In the most egregious cases that I have seen - and Dr JA is not even close to that, trust me - I might even counsel banning or some other form of silencing.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  12:44 PM
  93. Apparently Alvin Lucier and Jacques Albert have a history over at ACTA Online.

    Jacques Albert’s writing there is, ah, discursive. He not only touches all the bases in every single comment, but also takes a triumphal lap around the warning track, jumps into the stands to swat an unimpressed bleacher bum or two, and on his way back to the dugout after delivering once again, doffs his cap to reveal Minerva’s Owl, which sanctifies his effort by swooping up and gloriously over the enthralled multitude hanging on his every limpid phrase, q.v., e.g., LOL:

    …real historians such as Victor Davis Hanson…

    …the sublime political philosopher Joseph de Maistre…

    And I attacked what Berube, in his arrogant pimping for this antinomian perversion, defends, i.e., post-modernism and post-structuralism. Got a beef with that?

    Oh, and, of course, of course, of course;

    Though I haven’t read M Berube’s latest book, I can’t say I’ve found much gold in what he’s written in letters and in opinion pieces against David Horowitz.

    Alvin Lucier, by contrast, fancies what I think is commonly understood as the Plain Style:

    Jacques: your comments make no sense.

    (I just finished reading Amanda French’s dissertation. It’s a great read. Lucid, witty, and I will never look at a villanelle the same way again, now that I know what a villanelle is)

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  01:12 PM
  94. ...and then we adjusted our monocles in unison.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/29  at  01:29 PM
  95. we are going to need some solid evidence of hard crimes.

    Not true! Please remember, this is a show trial. Mr. Clarke’s guilt is already assured. This is all about the delicious process of arriving at the “We, the jury, find you guilty...” stage.  See, we “prove” our “credibility” to the corporate media and the other major Parties by our willingness to throw one of our own under the bus.

    So the charges and accusations can be as sound and solid ("he wrote a poem that did not rhyme") or as wild and unsubstantiated ("he snuck into my house and deleted all the Simpsons episodes off my DVR") as you want.

    The accused may indeed have the Defense Counsel of his choosing. However, under WAAGNFN show trial rules, in the event of a guilty verdict, the jury has the authority to decree that the Defense Counsel suffer the same penalty as the accused. Whether this happens pretty much just depends on what mood they’re in. It make watching the jury selection process really, really, really fun.

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/29  at  01:58 PM
  96. When I am feeling a little bit down, I come back to this post when I want a pick-me-up featuring oozing deliciousness.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  10/29  at  02:02 PM
  97. the jury has the authority to decree that the Defense Counsel suffer the same penalty as the accused.

    Amanda, I’ll do my best to make sure said penalty involves ouzo.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/29  at  02:03 PM
  98. Heh, captcha is “court” but I got nothin’.  (Yo! time to THINK some more!)

    Ah, how about this?  It’s mostly in line with recent suggestions (of course) but the one big difference is no jury.  We need the judgment to come from our Dear Beloved (and Feared) Leader FHPwSC Himself (who’s taking a hiatus from his hiatus, apparently).

    Proposal:  We bill the CCST as a huge falling-out between the WAAGNFN’s Ministry of Justice [Oaktown “Not OG” Girl"] and the Ministry of Public Information [Chris Clarke]. 

    Rationale:  The corporate media loves stories that confirm their views of radical politics and that end up being all about the personalities.  I’ve heard Stewart isn’t above mocking silliness on The Left, either.

    Slogan:  Screw C-SPAN, we want Court-TV!

    Charges:  To be manufactured as the occasion warrants, but of course always already having something to do with positionality vis a vis The Party Line.  (Example:  CC’s claiming KO as his sock puppet only appears to follow the Party’s “No Mind-Independent Ethical Truths” Line.)

    Backstory:  As head (and sole member) of the splinter cell “We All Giant Nuclear Fireball Now” Party, it was indeed I who played the agent provocateur and put forward the “cult"… uh… provocation.  Having seen the error of my ways after failing to bring Comrade Clarke and the Ministry of Public Information into the fold of the WAGNFN Party’s “FHPwSC’s LPGA Blogging Will Hasten the Arrival of the GNF (at least more so than PGA blogging)” project (and thereby failing to induce Comrade Oaktown “Not OG” Girl to turn the Ministry of Justice’s thoroughly illiberal anti-golf sights on FHPwSC himself), I am now cravenly trying to get back in the WAAGNFN Party’s good graces and on its membership roll (for the BACM, of course) by playing witness for the prosecution and demonstrating the appropriate Baudrillardean new nihilist lack of interest in reality, truth, and other such antiquated ideas through repeated use (would you believe?) of the ol’ just making stuff up, attributing bizarre arguments to [him] and then finding “contradictions”in them method (otherwise known as “Get Smart-Asses like Mr. Hottie McNaturePants [if that is his real name]").

    Needed:  Star legal teams, prosecutorial (JP Stormcrow, lead attorney, with spyder, CCP Foucault, Karl the Grouchy Medievalist, The Venerable Ed, and black dog barking assisting) and defensorial (Amanda French, lead attorney, with Rich Pulchalsky, John Protevi, Peter Ramus, mds, mathpants, and Dr. Virago assisting) not to mention intra-Dream Team rivalries and a good back story on the long-running, bitter, and scandalously personal feud between the lead attorneys; a string of expert witnesses covering every letter of the alphabet (from Jacques Albert to Demosophist, from Kirby Olsen to Louis Proyect, for starters)....

    Ground Rules:  any verse form is appropriate for charges and defenses during the CCST; for the sake of the appearance of fairness, Chris Clarke himself may assign degree of difficulty points to said forms and Judge FHPwSC will assign actual points in the course of the arrival of the preordained conclusion.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/29  at  02:10 PM
  99. Wow, what fun!  Though I admit I’ve been having a good time in Urbana-Champaign, too.  It’s not hard out here for a poststructuralist pimp, let me tell you!

    When I get back home I’ll start setting things up for the big villanelle celebrity show trial death match.  In the meantime, don’t worry too much about this Monsieur Dr Maladroit Jacques Ranciere Uncle Albert.  As some of you have probably guessed by now, he’s not an actual person—he’s a comment program devised by ACTA using the Internets’ famous Pompous Ass Generator. 

    Demosophist, by contrast, is real.

    Empirically, at least according to Inglehart’s data, the higher ones education the more conservative one is likely to be… up to graduate school at least.

    Empirically, actually, the most conservative bloc of voters is made up of people who have been to college but who have not completed four years.  And as you know, those who have completed graduate school are overwhelmingly liberal, so I’m not sure why you think your claim that “the higher ones education the more conservative one is likely to be” makes any sense.  One might even say that it is contrived.

    But the long-term goal for liberals is clear:  once people enter college, we have to keep them there.  The indoctrination programs clearly don’t start to kick in until year seven or eight

    Posted by Michael  on  10/29  at  02:34 PM
  100. Michael, for a long time I’ve had this suspicion that Jacques Albert is the Scriblerus to your Pope, but now you’ve ruined it for me.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  03:12 PM
  101. JP Stormcrow, lead attorney

    Actually, I am going to recuse myself - that was my cyberpuppet JP.Stormcrow that regrettably got loose up there and wrote those embarrassing comments. He’s enrolled in the Dr JA School of Great Books at Faber Online College (check his e-mail address if you don’t believe me - I understand that there are often clues in those e-mail and URL lines.) and he simply followed his mentor here and commented before I could stop him. He’s only in his third year - so he should be OK by 2010 or so, I beg your indulgence until then.

    Really, you should get KO back as lead prosecutor - in his current state of bannedness he will unable to make the charges known - very appropriate for a trial of this nature.
    But I will share the one charge I had already written up for him to use:

    There once was a man of Helsinki
    Who was obsessed with the size of his winky
    He said; “I’m sure you’ll agree,
    To the utmost degree,
    That Chris Clarke is really a pinkoie.”

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  03:12 PM
  102. Hey! You forgot Bill Benzon! Dibbs dibbs dibbs dibbs!

    Giant Nuclear defensorial jack o lantern

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  03:17 PM
  103. Flattering to receive a visitation and an audience from MB, the deus ex machina hisself. Thanks for your pointed and sometimes even witty comments.
    Glad also to administer a few Swift(ian) kicks to our antinomian adversaries in the 2500-year old tradition of the in utrimque partem debate pertinent to the venerable practise of agonistic rhetoric. I realise that many of you, MB et alii, have invested much time, treasure, personal prestige and political conviction in “studies” many of us on the right-wing blogs regard as on par with phrenology, astrology, UFOs as interplanetary spaceships and modern psychology. Studies of sway-dough sciences can be useful, d’accord. But we must withhold belief, I’m afraid. I work in traditional areas of languages and literatures (especially translation studies), so I do find it just a whisker ironical that (in scanning your reading lists) that most professors and nearly all students rely on fairly literal translations (especially from Western European languages) of post-modernist works conveying messages of radical linguistic indeterminacy.

    Don’t think, MB, you’re quite ready to take over M. Leno’s (leno, lenonis) place.

    More later on the gaspillage de temps enorme of post-structuralist Ixions pursuing vapourous Heras.

    Cheers,

    DR JA

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  03:28 PM
  104. given the captcha word is “blood” and that i am reading this in a hotel room in Vegas (the internets have cool tubes here), preparing to help facilitate a Dia de los Muertos thematic ritual for tonight’s midnight concert----

    I will provide whomever is assigned the role of lead prosecutorial grand inquistor, a villanelle calling for the blood of the accused Clarke to be cleansed of all nefarious and evil intentionalities.  At the moment this is problematic because if i do this from here, it can’t leave here; thus it all most come to pass later (-dude!  -homage to young proto-conservative minds not yet achieving university degree status). 

    However, I am concerned about the capability of the jury to squeeze blood from turnips, and/or to rectify arbitrary intractable disputes without the shedding of blood.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  03:34 PM
  105. Yeah, I thought people tended to get more conservative the older they got - regardless of education. Something about times changing and what was once a bright new idea has become the status quo. To some degree, the revolutionaries of yesterday are doomed to became the conservatives of today. Unless, of course, their revolution wasn’t so successful.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/29  at  03:37 PM
  106. Haiku Evidence

    Without shedding blood
    how to enjoy show trial
    of sock puppet beast?

    captcha: served.
    As in, this poem was served to my office by a credible anonymous witness. I will hand it over to the Chief Prosecutor once we establish once and for all who that is. I still think JP Stormcrow must find a way to channel Kirby Olson’s grievances.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  03:51 PM
  107. We need the judgment to come from our Dear Beloved (and Feared) Leader FHPwSC Himself (who’s taking a hiatus from his hiatus, apparently).

    I disagree. Every Robespierre needs his St. Just (happy, Dr. JA?). Charges are not a problem. I am sure that Chris Clark must have committed the unforgivable sin of intentionalism at least once.

    Media coverage would soar if more people were purged and tried.

    Michael, forget C-U. I could not manage to get either of your recent books at the Illini Union Book Store and had to go to Borders to obtain at least one of them. It’s an outrage!

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  03:58 PM
  108. that most professors and nearly all students rely on fairly literal translations (especially from Western European languages) of post-modernist works conveying messages of radical linguistic indeterminacy.

    Dr JA, in the admittedly demotic English of my youth, you’re full of shit, or if you prefer la version francaise, t’es un emmerdeur toi.

    Name me ONE professor of philosophy or graduate student working on what we in the profession call “continental philosophy” who doesn’t work with the original French, German, Latin, or Greek texts when the need arises. That’s right, you can’t, because ALL graduate programs require a dissertation on a European philosopher to cite the original. Now when it comes to books, some presses will insist on the use of the English translation for sales and marketing purposes, though if you look at the notes you’ll often see the professor commenting on the difference between the translation and the original.

    As to the alleged thesis of radical linguistic indeterminacy, where do you find this? I mean, cite me the passages. Let’s not settle for these sweeping judgments about “post-modernism” (a term, you will note, that is conspicuous in its absence from the writings of Derrida, Foucault, and Deleuze, as is, we might add “post-structuralis,” though I’ve had recourse to them in the past in introductory works).

    In fact, let’s make this simpler. Just tell me which books of those thinkers you’ve read. The last guy who came around here talkin’ smack about Derrida (NL) ended up admitting to having once read Acts of Literature, while the late lamented Kirby Olson could only manage 20 pages of Foucault.

    So, it’s put up or shut up time, Dr JA. I’m challenging your credentials to talk on this subject.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/29  at  04:05 PM
  109. I work in traditional areas of languages and literatures (especially translation studies)

    I have to admit to a sinking feeling when I read that line. I had had my heart set on having Dr JA be this guy. Some consummations, I guess, are never to be, no matter how devoutly they are wished.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/29  at  04:11 PM
  110. If I’m to be on the defense team, per #98, and if, per #97, the penalty I will have to share with Chris Clarke involves ouzo, then there’s only one thing I can say when it comes time to identify the defendant in the courtroom: “I am Chris Clarke!” In fact, if this joke isn’t dead yet, We Are All, etc.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/29  at  04:16 PM
  111. Oh wow: that’s such a great picture of the other Dr JA and his pocket-sized, finger-generated lazer beam!

    I think we should write to him, even though he is Canadian and will likely increase the out-of-pocket costs of the CCST, and invite him to be a witness for the prosecution.

    Is there a grant proposal someone could write so we could get some expert hand-writing sample analysts in here to confirm that Chris Clarke really used the words “piss” and “asshole” in a poem? I think that is enough to put him away for a long time at Black Mountain penitentiary.

    Or at least he would have to go to serious Rehab for avant-garde outcasts at CalArts.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  04:20 PM
  112. Hey! You forgot Bill Benzon!

    Which is a perfect lead in for a Bill Benzon / Minister of Visual Propaganda update:

    First, I told Bill he could possibly sway me to use my considerable influence as a High Advisor to help him in his bid for the WAAGNFN post of Minister of Visual Propaganda(#44). Then, I realized that whomever held that position was going to be the MVP of the WAAGNFN Party!! How cool is that? Too cool for me to pass up, that’s for sure.

    So I decided to pull a Dick Cheney and form a Blue Ribbon Search Committee to seek out the best possible candidate, which, by total coincidence, would just happen to be… me.

    But Bill had already sent Alien Guy 24(#46) to work his magic on me.  When Michael returns to his office, I’m afraid he’ll find not one, but, um, …multiple (yikes!) glowing messages from me about Ben.

    Good night, everybody. (Stoopid graveyard shift!)

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/29  at  04:50 PM
  113. he’s not an actual person—he’s a comment program devised by ACTA using the Internets’ famous Pompous Ass Generator.

    Bullshit.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  05:08 PM
  114. I expected to hear howls of “texticular” pain from my adversaries on the left (who may even profess actually to know SOMETHING about the demanding work of translation), but hardly a resort to l’argot torcheculatif de la parte de M. Protevi (quelle surprise! et quelle horreur! Que ses mots echorchent les oreilles!--haven’t heard such language since boot camp molti anni fa, JP!)--since the voice I previously and PERHAPS erroneously heard was that of a pampered perfumed hyperventilating prof-wimp a la Peter Lorre in The Maltese Falcon.

    I’ve to go now, but rest assured you’ll have my answer in due course (demain--not domani! vous comprenez?), for you’ve completely missed my reference and point here. As for linguistic indeterminacy, ca se voit! Add also to this scandalum of the specious post-structuralist rejection of the Aristotelian Laws of Thought. And post-structuralists’ attempted transmogrifications of the ancients’ works. Not to mention the truly malignant and vicious personalities of some in your bizarre post-structuralist menagerie.

    A demain, JB, and rest assured, rhetorically-speaking, I’ve no desire whatever to pursue my enemies BEYOND the grave--sorry, you really should have have chosen the scotch.

    Jeers,

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  05:34 PM
  115. Bring it on.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/29  at  05:37 PM
  116. Is Jacques Albert really James Albert Delater?

    http://linguistlist.org/pubs/books/get-book.cfm?BookID=4161

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/29  at  06:01 PM
  117. Glad also to administer a few Swift(ian) kicks to our antinomian adversaries in the 2500-year old tradition of the in utrimque partem debate pertinent to the venerable practise of agonistic rhetoric.

    It’s in utramque partem, you ignoramus.  Just sayin’.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/29  at  06:38 PM
  118. Dr. JA = ToS, right?

    Now, if I skimmed the above correctly for references to a mysterious Pulchalsky, it seems that I’m both on the defense team *and* have people on the look-out for my drive-bys.  Well, what fun is it to be an attorney on the defense team at a show trial?  Drive-bys by the “defense” team, though, are part of traditional Americana; as I previously remarked to MB, almost everyone wants to be a thug.

    And if you think that’s an excuse for cheesy hip-hop influenced verse by a middle class person rather than villanelles in any potential verse-off, you’re right.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  07:03 PM
  119. I thought the —

    Empirically, at least according to Inglehart’s data, the higher ones education the more conservative one is likely to be… up to graduate school at least.

    thing was a Rovian transformation / restatement of the hardly controversial notion that the banker’s offspring will spend more time in a university classroom than the butcher’s. That graduate school tends to deselect “conservative” pollywogs is one more proof of creationism.

    captcha: game. The system.

    Posted by black dog barking  on  10/29  at  07:15 PM
  120. Chris Clarke, thanks for the appointment. But surely the defendant in a show trial doesn’t even get counsel? Not that you’d need it anyway: you’d villanelle those muthas right into the ground w/o me. Ah, sod it, I’m going straight to the ouzo.

    peter ramus, wow, thanks. Someone called my work “lucid” once before and I’ve secretly cherished the memory ever since.

    Public Service Announcement: I endorse the mysterious and elusive Janet Lyon for MLA Division Delegate, late 19th- / early 20th-c British lit. This is my opinion only and is not necesssarily that of Michael Bérubé.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  07:17 PM
  121. That Chris Clarke is a socially dangerous element is clear from his conduct in l’affaire maple argent.

    The specific charge:

    so much depends
    upon

    a red kaiser knife sling blade

    Prosecutorializing is hard work. Are we allowed to torture meter?

    Posted by black dog barking  on  10/29  at  07:41 PM
  122. Villanelle: Drive-By Defense Team

    I used to be a wanna be punk in suburbia
    Watchin Ali G and teachin’ at Columbia
    At lunch I would get down
    with my students cap and gown
    At night I’d surf the Internets
    lookin’ for adventure shit.

    Googlin’ Amazon and the iTunes hardcore store
    I’d buy myself some Easy-E
    Gangsta Pimpin’ R&G
    Gangsta Musik, Gangsta Crunk
    I bought enough to fill a trunk.

    But one day I got down
    Left my job and went downtown
    Met a guy there named Chris Clarke
    Who got busted in the dark
    With a sock puppet…

    I knew he needed help
    When he started to yelp
    So I said, “I’ll play your defense, man
    Before this shit can hit the fan.”

    Now I got my black shirt on.
    I got my black gloves on
    I got my ski mask on
    This shit’s been too long

    I’m gonna take them down
    Those prosector pigs
    I’m gonna make them squeal
    Make them know how CC feels

    It’s bad enough a man
    Can’t play with puppets in his home
    It’s bad enough the cops
    Can’t leave well enough alone
    Leave the man in peace
    Let him write poems to his animals
    It isn’t beastiality
    No cause for brutality

    I got my black shirt on.
    I got my black gloves on
    I got my ski mask on
    This shit’s been too long

    Drive-by Villanelle
    Dirty judges burn in hell
    Tell you, brother, this ain’t no joke
    I left my granny’s house behind
    No more home for dinner time
    I’m a member of the Defense now
    Gangsta thug on trial

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  07:46 PM
  123. Holy cow! I woke up after banging my head on the computer monitor and saw that someone had written this crazy poem in my name.

    Chris Clarke, if this is you using my handle, then I’m going to help prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law! In fact, I’ll stretch the law on a rack just to make it longer.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  07:55 PM
  124. Foucault—I’m in awe.  Really.  I’m going to have to come up with a whole new concept.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  08:14 PM
  125. Sorry dude. I’m going to lock down my computer so it will stop switching sides.

    captcha: only

    As in there’s only one side to be on in this thing: the prosecution. No conflicted feelings; we are intractable in our position that Clarke must be illuminated as an example.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  08:24 PM
  126. Damn, Foucault, if that’s the defense team’s attitude, I’m switching sides. You can have my prosecutorial spot. I was tired of fetching coffee and danish for the bigwigs anyway.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  09:14 PM
  127. Well, since the defense has betrayed us and appropriated hip hop in a brazen attempt to induce false conciousness in the jury, we’ll have to do some counter-programming (with apologies to Keats).

    When I have fears that I may cease to be
    before my pen has prosecuted Clarke,
    before the guillotine has felled CC
    for terr’ble crimes of unwarranted snark;
    when I behold, upon the traitor’s hand,
    huge ink-stained symbols of a comic strip
    ripped crudely from another paper’s brand,
    re-texted for amusement, to be hip;
    and when I feel, foul creature of dismay,
    that GNF may never ever come,
    because the treas’nous snake’s accursed bay
    seems to delight the weakly sense of some,
    then “off with his head” I hear the jury
    scream, unleashing on CC hell’s fury.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  09:30 PM
  128. No wait, not you, Venerable Ed! Don’t leave us!

    It was a moment of weakness; I accidentally ate some organic quiche at the Whole Foods store. It will never happen again. Thank you christian h for setting a better tune for this show trial.

    I’ll take some Exlax and see if I can get this false consciousness out of my system. I’ll have a fiery psalm for the prosecurial side tomorrow.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  09:38 PM
  129. All right, this calls for drive-by Americana, old skool:

    Hope is the thing that feathers
    With shots the court’s patrol
    And sings the tune - of flying lead
    And never stops at all

    And sweetest are the sirens heard
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash hopes for CC
    That kept my Glock so warm

    I’ve driven through the crowded streets
    And many dead I’ve left
    Yet, never will the fools run out
    Until the GNF

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  10:21 PM
  130. I still think JP Stormcrow must find a way to channel Kirby Olson’s grievances.

    No friggin’ way! I’ve seen Ghost. (but I guess I could then plausibly claim that “Luther made me do it.")
    Then again, that “channelling” was positively benign compared to what Tibor Fischer has transpire in The Thought Gang when Eddie Coffin decides to bring back Hipponax in my favorite all-time possession scene. Here is about the most GP-rated excerpt:

    “Long time, no see,” resumed the voice, “and then what do I see? A blubberboy and a whirlpool-mouthed tart. Well, what do you have to say, and what do you have to offer me? Or have you brought me all this way just to sit there open-mouthed as if you’re wanking off?”

    the Laclau-Zizek one

    And Eddie Coffin would insist on the Zidane-Materazzi one. (click through to the bottom of page 2 to see the version most relevant to matters GNF.)

    Is Jacques Albert really James Albert Delater?

    And CCP there does seem to be a lot of concordance between purported biographical details in various comments on the web by “Jacques Albert” and items in this profile of a James Delater (with language and translation expertise) in the Hillsdale Daily Collegian a few years back. And this paragraph may sound familiar.

    This linguistic knowledge leads him to drop all kinds of foreign phrases and literary allusions into his everyday conversations, sometimes subconsciously, which occasionally leaves people stumped.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  11:37 PM
  131. Looks like I’m in trouble. No half measures here: after christian h and Puchalsky’s work, it’s clear I’ll need to use the finest work of verse ever penned in the English language.

    People smile and emulate my writing style,
    and they’ve got my file,
    Think I’m gonna have a trial.
    It will be NKVD with a Maoist ref, Justice blind and deaf,
    Thralling to the GNF.

    And even though I ain’t Thor Heyerdahl,
    I’m so at sea ‘bout the Fireball,
    If I sing they’ll spring the chains of love.
    And in the morning when I rise,
    you bring a waterboard to my eyes,
    And tell me everything’s gonna get burned up.

    Seems as though a month ago I was their ally,
    never asked why
    They made me wear this big bullseye.
    And now I face an Oaktown Girl that sneers my name,
    Taking all the blame, ‘til the world is all aflame.

    And even though I ain’t Thor Heyerdahl,
    I’m so at sea ‘bout the Fireball,
    If I sing they’ll spring the chains of love.
    And in the morning when I rise,
    you bring a waterboard to my eyes,
    And tell me everything’s gonna get burned up.

    High-speed neutrons rising is a very good sign, blinding shine,
    Immolating thee and thine.
    Now I see a fireball where there once was none,
    now we’ve just begun,
    Yeah, we’re gonna look like the sun.

    And even though I ain’t Thor Heyerdahl,
    I’m so at sea ‘bout the Fireball,
    If I sing they’ll spring the chains of love.
    And in the morning when I rise,
    you bring a waterboard to my eyes,
    And tell me everything’s gonna get burned up.

    Oaktown Girl will bring the world to the brink of hell.
    Fare thee well, fissionable outer shell.
    And if uranium is refined, buddy, bring it home,
    We will all atone: no end to the big blast zone.

    And even though I ain’t Thor Heyerdahl,
    I’m so at sea ‘bout the Fireball,
    If I sing they’ll spring the chains of love.
    And in the morning when I rise,
    you bring a waterboard to my eyes,
    And tell me everything’s gonna get burned up.

    Incidentally, I’m expecting I’ll be taking (at least) a few weeks away from blogdom (and blogcommentdom) but you know how these show trials work: feel free to start without me.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/30  at  01:36 AM
  132. Rich says:

    “Dr. JA = ToS, right?”

    That occurred to me also (how could it not?); but I have to say I don’t think so.  (The latter’s Quinean effusions seem so ... sincere.) Still, I would *love* to see them go at it (if you’ll pardon the expression) mano a mano.

    Posted by Dave M  on  10/30  at  02:19 AM
  133. To Michael on 117: spot-on, MB;I was thinking adverb while typing adjective--I’d thank you (or one of your minions) for your service as my copy-grunt but for the super-added gratuitous and puerile insult (as above par. 2, 99).
    Now, on to other matters:
    “But the long-term goal for liberals is clear:  once people enter college, we have to keep them there.  The indoctrination programs clearly don’t start to kick in until year seven or eight[.?]

    Posted by Michael”

    What indoctrination programmes, MB? Anything to do with political attitudes, caro MB? Or perhaps, like the psychs, just sexual and toilet preferences? By year 7 or 8 do you mean doctoral school, where your fulsome (often financially-dependent) grad-serfs have ceded any pretensions to independent thought or scholarship to their tenured daddies and mummies? Off to face the MLA convention cattle-prods soon after their “disses” are done? OK if I send a copy of your comments on indoctrination to David Horowitz about what you princes and princesses of darkness may be up to?
    Sneers (deferred for now),
    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  03:19 AM
  134. NB, MB: Perhaps I ignored the obvious “end” of contemptible, er, contemporary literary “studies"--i.e., to support the lucrative pyramid scheme or taxpayer-financed shakedown operation that paid for your trip to the U of Illinois you crowed about above--how’s the rubber chicken there, MB? Meet the football coach there, who’s (vis a vis salary) probably worth at least four of you and at least two of our nation’s president, who’s got a tad more on his mind than the latest discovered serviette-scribblings of the late Jacques--Maitre a penser--Derrida or the latest senile Marxist musings of Frederic Jameson.
    Today later I’ve to deal with the challenge of Prof. John Protevi. Perhaps he played football too long sans helmet (I’m trying desperately to excuse his intemperate rantings); or perhaps he didn’t meet Alan Bloom in Paris. Quid verbis?
    Buona notte, professore!

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  04:35 AM
  135. I am truly speechless over the superior quality and creativity of the verses above.  You folks sure know how to make a Minister of Justice swoon.  Chris Clarke’s show trial, the accompanying steel cage matches, and the inevitable guilty verdict will surely be an apotheosis, catapulting the WAAGNFN Party into new heights of power and influence.

    We will now adjourn for a 2 week (or so) hiatus for the midterm elections in order to accommodate the (hopefully) vigorous GOTV efforts and post-election recovery and analysis time.

    In the meantime, a couple of CCST “housekeeping” notes:

    Chris Clarke – please find yourself a willing lead defense counsel. They are an essential part of the “show” in this show trial.  If you do not find a lead defense counsel, that will be an added charge against you. And worse yet, We will appoint you a defense counsel, and you really don’t want that.

    Everybody else – it appears many of you are putting your personal feelings for Mr. Clarke ahead of the good of the WAAGNFN Party, and this is unacceptable. This is a show trial, people, which means the power of the prosecution must be overwhelming (at least on paper) compared to the defense in order to make this thing work and give the WAAGNFN Party the stature and credibility it so richly deserves.

    As we are still in the pre-trial stages, it’s not too late for any of you to either jump ship to or join with the prosecution’s side.  Put on your big boy / big girl panties and grow at least half the spine Mr. Clarke has!  Besides, it will be fun.  In addition to the unbridled guilt-free joy of leveling wild accusations, planting evidence, and nominating dream-team cage match-ups, one of you will have the singular honor of writing Mr. Clarke’s Statement of Guilt. (Prize/s will most likely be involved, both verse and non-verse.)

    Yours in Service,

    Oaktown Girl
    Minister of Justice
    WAAGNFN Party

    captcha: “can”, as in Can the women readers of this site please come out of lurker mode for the CCST so we can break up this sausage fest?

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/30  at  07:38 AM
  136. P.S. -
    Oaktown Girl will bring the world to the brink of hell.
    Fare thee well, fissionable outer shell

    I love it!  But sweet talk will not make this thing go easier on you.

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/30  at  07:41 AM
  137. To JP: To begin: Of course when I referred to “many professors” and “nearly all students” I meant ENGLISH professors and their students--for that’s what M Berube professes to teach (when he’s not junketing at taxpayer expense) and that’s what Sir Vidia’s apt remarks pertain to. Capisce? Graduate school instructors and professors especially use the Hazard Adams 2 volume set to teach “critical theory” (i.e., critical “theorrhea”, as Dr Raymond Tallis has it) to their students. But I say, better spend the time with “close reading” exercises than reading and commenting on the latest “vowel movement” in post-humanist thought. More later, Bozo.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  08:12 AM
  138. While you’re unloading your little gratuitous and puerile insults, Dr. Jacques Bozo a.k.a. Professor James Albert DeLater, would you care to tell us more about your brief career at Hillsdale College?  At least your little costume party wasn’t taxpayer-financed—but then, neither was my trip to Illinois.

    And I just love the fact that you’ve shown up to bloviate in a comment thread that includes Chris Clarke’s show trial.  Jeez, did you pick a bad time to troll.  Because any sensible person stopping by here would take one look at Chris and Amanda and JP and O-Girl and John and christian and Foucault (all of him) and think:  Chris et al. smart and funny.  Dr JA pompous and overbearing and kinda ridiculous.  The contrast is pretty stark. 

    Posted by Michael  on  10/30  at  09:18 AM
  139. Of course when I referred to “many professors” and “nearly all students” I meant ENGLISH professors and their students

    Backpedal much?

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  09:19 AM
  140. Arguing with Dr. Jackie is like wrestling a fart: there’s no *there* there.  Luckily, he uses the same stock tricks in every conversation: (a) reference to Raymond Tallis and bad joke about “theorrhea”;(b) reference to “the unknown Indian,” who I think is that teary-eyed actor in that famous 70s littering commercial; (c) nervous Tourette’s-like bursts of foreign language quotations that add nothing to his aguments.  (If yer lucky, he’ll throw in Susan Haack for good measure.)

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  09:40 AM
  141. I’m just waiting for him to cite a text rather than wave his hands in the air. I’m willing to bet he’s never read a book of Derrida, Foucault, or Deleuze—in French or English—and that his “knowledge” of them comes from the same Hazard Adams collection he sneers at in #137.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  09:49 AM
  142. CCST - correction and clarification:

    RE: Prize/s: that should read “Prize/s will most likely be involved, for both verse and non-verse” (contributions to the CCST).

    Clarification: The “sausage fest” remark encouraging female lurker participation is in no way meant to keep the male lurkers in lurk mode. The “We Are All” portion of the WAAGNFN Party is just as important as the GNF part. 

    captcha: surface, as in lurkers are welcome to surface for the CCST (in 2 weeks or so when we begin).

    Oaktown Girl, MoJ, WAAGNGN

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/30  at  10:12 AM
  143. As Chris Clarke would say, “Gah!”. Trying to comment at work, answer phones, deal with ongoing crises…

    That should be:
    Oaktown Girl, MoJ, WAAGNFN

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/30  at  10:22 AM
  144. Well, with the show trial being adjourned, I’d like to encourage the presiding judge to be more forceful. It is an outrage upon the dignity of every member of the WAAGNFN that the Accused (a.k.a. Chris Clarke - and what’s that additional “e” good for anyway?) was allowed to spout off like this. I move that in the future, he’s only allowed to use haiku to defend himself.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  10:51 AM
  145. To John Protevi: You’d lose your wager hands down, Bozo. If you mean by “read” “make a career of shilling for” I suppose, mea culpa, no. Let it be known that I read Foucault’s Madness and Civilization (in translation) years before I even sat an English course back in the 80s--before also I worked my way through the interesting “cours de linguistique generale” (in the original) and before I read Roy Harris’s translation of Saussure and his commentary on how Derrida had deliberately distorted Saussure’s work (as Derrida was caught doing with the great Curtius’s and others’ works). Dr Tallis’s Not Saussure and John Ellis’s Against Deconstruction and a host of other works confirmed what I had already concluded: that Derrida (et alii) was not only wrong, but perversely so. Multa cetera desunt . . .

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  11:02 AM
  146. As I suspected, you’re a fraud. What you’re saying is that, despite your penchant for sweeping judgments of “post-modernism” and “post-structuralism,” you’ve read one (abridged and translated) work of Foucault’s, more than 20 years ago, and nothing by either Derrida or Deleuze. As for your ability to have selected secondary works “confirm what I had already concluded,” that says more about your commitment to academic values than anything I could have. What a disappointment. At least the real Dr. Jacques Albert has a really cool laser pointer.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  11:37 AM
  147. I’d expect better of you, Prof. Berube, than to “answer” me by referring to a supposed personal incident (some supposed party) in the career of some Prof. JAD. But if, comme ils disent, you’ve got game and like parties (how many classes have you cancelled this year to munch rubber chicken and schmooze and party with your “colleagues”, MB?), I’ll be your escort to my VFW Friday fish-fry, where your smarmy and notoriously anti-patriotic remarks may not be as well received as in your grad seminars before rapt (?) and captive audiences. Nevertheless, I expect better manners from me college-less VFW mates and their families than from your poly-degreed epigones on this website. Ta, Prof, and
    Jeers to your ad hominem sneers,
    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  11:41 AM
  148. Sweet Jeebus, what happened? I’m happy to be dragooned into whatever capacity I might shine in for whatever trial anyone wishes to stage: but later, after the MLA, at which I hope to be very, very busy.

    taxpayer-financed shakedown operation that paid for your trip to the U of Illinois

    JA: I skimmed, and I skimmed some more. You keep making references to taxpayer-funded junkets &c. MB has corrected you, briefly, but I have to ask: you do understand how precipitously public funding of higher education has dropped over the past three decades? You may wish to amend the figures D.Ho’s provided, but if you want to avoid epistemic collapse, and if you want to continue to critique public largesse for silly projects, I understand there’s a much better venue for you and your ilk. You may have to tone down the vatic hoo-ha a bit, but perhaps not. The door’s over there, mon frere.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  12:03 PM
  149. I see Dr. JA has found the last refuge of his kind.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  12:04 PM
  150. As I suspected, Bozo, you’re a Freud!(a worse insult than yours, by far!), who reads my mind and words better than I. Of course I’ve read more Foucault than Madness and Civilization (both in translation and in the original). And, by the way, I don’t sneer at Hazard Adams (whom I knew slightly), if only because he’s a Marine-vet and actually defended this country from its enemies (what’s your “war” record look like, Bozo?). And his anthologies are quite useful for surveying critical history, though deficient in their treatment of the divine Plato, whom Derrida everywhere traduces.
    I’m still waiting for my opportunity to teach you and MB something about translation, but I won’t let the gratuitous insults pass like Dante and Vergil do--"Non ragiam’ di lor’ . . .” (presumably you know the rest, Bozo)
    But with fears you don’t, Je suis votre humble serviteur,
    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  12:07 PM
  151. Oh, cluttering up an already cluttered thread further: JA, oddly enough, I’m reminded of a bit of Zizek. Here follows a bit of blog-whoring: peel slowly and see (or just scroll down to skip the boring bits).

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  12:08 PM
  152. I vote (procedural liberalism, anyone?) for
    Myanmar!

    We Are All The State Peace and Development Council Now!

    It’s a matter of triage.  Prior to the invasion of Iraq there were three nations tied for ‘most repressive’ (a combined score of 14 for political and civil repression at Freedom House): NoKo, Iraq and Myanmar.  Since the international community doesn’t give a hoot about repression the only case one could make for intervention was the development of WMD, so that excluded Myanmar.  And NoKo was excluded because of its role in China’s defense perimeter and because of what they’d likely do to their neighbors if attacked.

    But strictly based on the level of harm they’re all about equal.  One does what one can, given resources and context.

    Posted by Demosophist  on  10/30  at  12:12 PM
  153. Since M Berube is a state functionary, presumably his stipend or salary is a matter of public record--someone look it up--or, as the modest and hard-working Louis XIV used to say to his attendants, “if it’s not too much trouble.”
    Arrears for your sneers, JP (they’re coming!)
    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  12:18 PM
  154. Are people really, positively sure that this isn’t the T to the o to the S?  Can there really be two such entities with the exact same rhetorical structure?  I’m disappointed; I thought that Dr. JA was his alter-ego idea of what a literary type would sound like.

    Well, at any rate, when Michael wrote “Chris and Amanda and JP and O-Girl and John and christian and Foucault (all of him) and think:  Chris et al. smart and funny.  Dr JA pompous and overbearing and kinda ridiculous”, he sadly left out my invocation of MC Emily D as O.G., which is OK because I proudly (is there any other way?) admit to being pompous and overbearing and kinda ridiculous myself.  And in keeping with that, I suggest to everyone: less Dr. JA-baiting, more show trials.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  12:18 PM
  155. OK, Dr JA, let’s just cut to the chase. List for me the books by Foucault, by Derrida, and by Deleuze that you’ve read. We’re not going to get to translation until you back up your bluster about “post-modernism” and “post-structuralism.”

    As for your “I can dish out the insults but I won’t stand for them directed back at me” pose, I’m still waiting for one of yours to affect me the way mine seem to affect you.

    And about your war record, all honor to you for your service. I have never in my life, nor will I ever, insult a serviceman regarding his service. It’s your fraudulent academic posturing that I’m insulting.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  12:22 PM
  156. Since M Berube is a state functionary, presumably his stipend or salary is a matter of public record--someone look it up

    Since you’re the one who’s interested, go ahead. Nevertheless, as I already said, given that public funding for public universities has dropped precipitously in the last three decades (is there some part of that clause you didn’t understand?), MB’s salary probably--and I say probably, because of course, the onus of research is on the person who levels the charge--corresponds virtually not at all with what pittance of taxes states now shunt to public universities. Perhaps you could make an argument that MB should reimburse the State for his moments of indoctrinating in an amount consonant with its support: perhaps $5-10 a month would be fair.

    That said, M. Goal-Post-en-Moveur, you had previously sniped at MB for his taxpayer-funded junkets and, oddly, his consumption of chicken. MB said you were wrong. So please, stay where you are, lest you stumble into wrongness again.

    It’s a matter of triage

    Right, Demo. And that’s why, precisely, the most vigorous justifications for the invasion were humanitarian, just as they were in Chile, Guatemala, and the Belgian Congo and need I go on?: at least they were in whatever cloud-cuckoo land you inhabit.

    --

    Adieu folks. I have to figure out how to indoctrinate some fledgings about King Lear. Somehow I have to make them discover it’s radical indeterminacy! Otherwise the commissar will have my hide.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  12:33 PM
  157. Somehow I have to make them discover it’s radical indeterminacy! Otherwise the commissar will have my hide.

    I also have to teach them to laugh off embarrassing typos. Bon courage, meself!

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  12:36 PM
  158. But Karl, it works both ways. How radically indeterminate! To wit: “it [King Lear, the play] is radical indeterminacy” [i.e., it incarnates it] and “its radical determinacy [the radical indeterminacy contained within King Lear, the play]”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  12:43 PM
  159. And just to demonstrate my solidarity with you, I’ve included an embarrassing typo in the previous one as well! We Are All, and so on.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  12:44 PM
  160. The google is powerful, isn’t it?  Wonder what ACTA’s denizens will make of this as the place that canned James Delater, Hillsdale College, is a notably conservative institution.  He also showed up on The Valve with he same alias and schtick, if memory serves.

    Patterns: (a) the defrocked academic’s desperate displays of erudition plus intense animus toward academia (b) the burning conviction that vast swathes of contemporary theory are not just misguided but the work of the devil.  (That’s why, John, you’ll get nothing more than generalities plus self-aggrandizement out of the guy.) Hence also Delater’s fondness for the work of gerontologist Raymond Tallis, an original but angry polymath who argues that the rot set in with structuralism.  If not earlier.

    The threat to report MB to DH was pretty funny.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  01:04 PM
  161. (That’s why, John, you’ll get nothing more than generalities plus self-aggrandizement out of the guy.)

    Thanks, Colin, here you confirm what I’ve already concluded. The difference is that in Dr JA’s case, I’ve actually read him, in the original.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  01:10 PM
  162. But, let me hasten to add, je m’en fous de l’affaire DeLater chez Hillsdale. This is strictly between me and Dr JA, and it’s based strictly on what he’s written here. C’est tout.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  01:14 PM
  163. Well, with the show trial being adjourned, I’d like to encourage the presiding judge to be more forceful. It is an outrage upon the dignity of every member of the WAAGNFN...(#144)

    christian - I will excuse your insubordinate tone this one time because
    a) I like you
    b) I realize you speak from a place of wanting the very best for the Party and its members, which is an honorable and noble position.

    Please be assured that Mr. Clarke will be appropriately disadvantaged as is fitting of a proper show trial. (I did not rise to the office of Minister of Justice just for being a pretty face!) For example, right off the top you will note that members of the prosecution (which should be at least 98.5% of the WAAGNFN Party) have at least two weeks to sculpt their accusations and craft the supporting evidence for those accusations (2 separate prize categories, by the way).  Mr. Clarke, on the other hand, will have but a matter of hours (if that) to rebut.

    (a.k.a. Chris Clarke - and what’s that additional “e” good for anyway?)

    Quite correct. The final “e” is indeed offensive and must certainly be added to the list of charges against the accused.

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/30  at  02:03 PM
  164. List (up) yours, Prof. Protevi, including the close translation work you’ve done (where an iota subscript, or part of a letter, under an omega, may make all the difference--not differance--to the meaning ["meaning"--sorry if I’ve slipped into No-no land for you impotent paranomasiac pedants of Laputa]; by the way, try massaging the verb deriver as I’ve done to parody one of your meal tickets, the grand Maitre D’ hisself). And then poke your nose into the ever-sensible Susan Haack for a fallibilist [no, not phallo-ball-ist; comme vous bien savez, French puns and argot vis a vis writing are legion] corrective to your post-structuralist [no, Virginia, Peter Abelard didn’t refer to himself as a “medieval” philosopher--and thank Prof. Protevi for that scintillating apercu!] pipsqueak all-or-nothing either/or fallacy posturing).
    Remember, Prof. Protevi, I’m not interviewing to sit one of your grad seminars, nor am I submitting a doc-school reading list to you for your nod of approval. Cut the sass and defend the indefensible als ein Mensch. Je vous attends, Monsieur.
    Thanks for your support for our brave men and women now serving in wartime. Can I take from that that you’ve no probs with campus ROTC and military recruiters on campus at LSU?
    Cheers, A bientot (on doit se depecher!)
    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  02:10 PM
  165. Prof. Delater—er, Jacques Albert—could you tell us more about the inappropriate inactions you had with students?  It sounds awfully exciting, and I need new material for my new album.  I thought Jim Webb or Lynn Cheney might help, but it’s too purple for my target audience.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  02:29 PM
  166. "Quite correct. The final “e” is indeed offensive and must certainly be added to the list of charges against the accused.”

    We might also add that Chris Clarke’s name is too alliterative. Disgracefully so, really…

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  02:40 PM
  167. JA: wtf are you up to? not to argue ex homine, but you and I have a bit of kinship: first in family to go to college, association with the Pacific NW (I’m from Tacoma, my first alma mater was TESC), and, I suppose, military association (although that’s my father, also a Vietnam Vet, and brother). Pity to see you’ve elected not to throw yourself in with the angels. You familiar with Rita Copeland’s Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Translation in the Middle Ages: Academic Traditions and Vernacular Texts. I don’t expect you’d like it much: not enough puns.

    Your in solidarity (with JP),
    k the gm

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  02:57 PM
  168. Colin’s right about Dr. JA.  He also accused Holbo of being insufficiently manly.

    And if Dr. JA were really the googlemonger he wants to be, he’d know that Protevi’s employed by LSU’s French Department.  Last I heard, French wasn’t English.  (But why trust me?  I haven’t translated anything in months.)

    Posted by Scott Eric Kaufman  on  10/30  at  02:58 PM
  169. Dr JA, you’re the one that came bogartin’ round here talkin’ smack about post-structuralism. I suspected a fraud and I called you on it when you couldn’t back it up. You can ask me to back up my claims about translations when I make some. (Claims, that is, not translations, which I’ve already done, as you can see from my CV, which I’ve conveniently posted. You’ve Googled me enough to find out I work at LSU, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find the CV.) Until then, the topic is the one you first brought up, post-structuralism, and your qualifications to speak on it. I’ve never doubted, you’ll note, your qualifications as a translator. So, then, what books of Foucualt, Derrida, and Deleuze were those you’ve read? Then we can get to your arguments about these thinkers, which, in accordance with standard academic protocol, will be accompanied by exact quotation and page reference. Or are we to conclude that you are in fact the sort of fraud who blathers on about serious thinkers based on second-hand knowledge? If so, you best go back to ACTA Online, where apparently that sort of thing plays better than it does here. To cite Elaine Bennis: “that stuff’s weak. I’m not buying it, and you shouldn’t be selling it.”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  02:59 PM
  170. I guess we are bantering with them here, so we don’t have to do it up in St. Louis. Not without precedent. Apparently back in the day, Adam Kotsko set up a ToS Open Thread. (And btw - the Jacques Albert/Dr JA handle seems to have only been in use for the last month or two.)

    Exercise for readers: Find appropriate places to apply Occam’s Razor to assertions in this thread.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  03:24 PM
  171. Kotsko and I eliminated the need for Troll of Sorrow open threads by creating our very own Troll of Constant Sorrow.  Now, maybe we ought to work on Dr. JA ...

    Posted by Scott Eric Kaufman  on  10/30  at  04:45 PM
  172. SEK: oh man that’s rich stuff. JA conjures up the unholy (gay) ghost of Peter Lorre there, too. Funny that: strikes me he could achieve more varied effects by referencing George Macready in Gilda. Too butch for Church of Virile Members?

    PS My students think Cordelia’s a wet blanket. Good for them.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  05:06 PM
  173. Interesting that JA was in grad school with KO; can’t imagine that coincidental connection at all??  I did notice a great number of people praying to JA this weekend though: gan-JA, JA-rasta, rastafari-JA-ree, and so forth.  Lots of JA freaks running around bowing their heads towards their ceremonial large glass objects; smoke swirling about them, spreading the JA incense through various environments.  It made for quite a harvest celebration, not that i would know anything about harvest seasons.  JA, and all that chanted ha ha ha ringing in the Samhein and Dia de los Muertos.

    Clarifying what i have missed regarding the adjournment of the CCST for two weeks; I have until the twelfth of never-november to provide the Minister of Justice with my shedding of blood villanelle, c’est vrai?

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  05:29 PM
  174. I think the Troll of Constant Sorrow (TM) should be called as witness for the prosecution in the CCST.

    I also want to apologize to the Comrade MoJ for my intemperate outburst. I have complete trust that the CCST will be carried through to its forordained conclusion before the Accused can filibuster his way to freedom (remember we will all be liberated by the GNF. Traitors must not be allowed to see the light of that glorious day).

    captcha: “own” as in “we can all have our very own Troll of Sorrow”.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  05:43 PM
  175. how many classes have you cancelled this year to munch rubber chicken and schmooze and party with your “colleagues”, MB?

    Everyone knows I don’t teach classes.  Hell, even the Troll of Constant Comment knows that.

    Can the women readers of this site please come out of lurker mode for the CCST so we can break up this sausage fest?

    What O-Girl said!

    And Rich (154):  sorry bout the oversight.  However, when you claim that I

    left out my invocation of MC Emily D as O.G., which is OK because I proudly (is there any other way?) admit to being pompous and overbearing and kinda ridiculous myself

    you’re doing one of those self-contradictory sentence things, because describing yourself as pompous and overbearing is a little like (and yet much better than) describing yourself as funny.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/30  at  06:03 PM
  176. you’re doing one of those self-contradictory sentence things, because describing yourself as pompous and overbearing is a little like (and yet much better than) describing yourself as funny.

    Richard Cohen says he’s funny, and I don’t remember you making a bit fuss about that.

    Posted by Lee Siegel  on  10/30  at  07:15 PM
  177. Or a big fuss either.

    Posted by Lee Siegel  on  10/30  at  07:16 PM
  178. I found Rich Puchalsky’s poem about the Glock very inspiring and funny. It brought back a lot of warm memories of my own days on the force with my 98-pound partner, Heather Locklear.

    Let me tell you something, when you boys retire from the force, Rich P and John Protevi, you will miss the dark heart and the iron hand of justice.

    These days, I just watch a lot of Star Trek reruns and wait for the GNF.

    within: as in greatness lies within each of us.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  07:38 PM
  179. All of you, TONIGHT ONLY!--Abite in malam rem! Go to Hell! No, no, I mean it! My black-nailed, grad-student right-wing gun moll and I will make a ONE-NIGHT ONLY APPEARANCE (no cover) at the Dam Site Inn, like a contemporary Paolo and Francesca who read no more that day--"Nessun’ maggior dolore . . .” for those who haven’t met her!

    Beers,

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  07:59 PM
  180. Uh, Dr.JA… I would very much like to attend your one-night only performance. Can you provide some more detailed instructions on how to get to the Dam Site Inn? And do you mind if I bring my Helio phone?

    Also, don’t forget to use a rubber! We wouldn’t want your inky winky spider to fall off the night before Halloween.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  08:20 PM
  181. Hey Jacques Michel--whatever your name is--quit busting the good Doc’s chops!  He alluded to Dante up there, understand? 

    Of course you don’t.  You obviously haven’t met her, you octillion-degreed ninny.

    I’m with you, JA!  Together we’ll explode these philistine’s pretensions!

    Posted by Scott Eric Kaufman  on  10/30  at  09:24 PM
  182. Hey Filippo Argenti--uh, I mean Scott Eric Kaufman,

    I’ll see you *and* your Troll of Constant Sorrow in the 5th Circle! Steel cage death match, buddy.

    I’ll give yer damn troll something to be wrathful and sullen about.

    captcha: against (as in meez against vouz).

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  10:39 PM
  183. Careful, SEK, you don’t want to lose your head in joining up with the ToS Dr JA. Remember to keep your powder dry when venturing into such a selva oscura.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/30  at  10:52 PM
  184. I for one can’t decide exactly which method of Allegorical Eternal Justice® is most suited for Dr JA. I’m tempted to put him in the second pocket of the eighth circle: the river of human feces that bathes the flatterers. JA seems full of it, and can’t seem to stop flattering himself. However, he also seems to fit in well with the false counselors (eighth pocket of the eighth circle) or the falsifiers (tenth pocket). In any case, JA can expect to find himself somewhere in the eighth circle.

    captcha: theory

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  11:59 PM
  185. Clarifying what i have missed regarding the adjournment of the CCST for two weeks; I have until the twelfth of never-november to provide the Minister of Justice with my shedding of blood villanelle, c’est vrai?

    Sypder - please see #135 and #142 above. Yes, I’m advising people to begin preparing their prosecutorial material for the CCST now. But don’t post it yet! Trial date will be sometime after the midterm elections, exact date TBD.

    Boy, am I ever glad I studied French in school. My job opportunities may be severely limited now that so many positions here in CA require bi-lingual with Spanish, but at least I can read wine lables, classical music concert program notes, and Le Blogue Berube, and that’s what really important n’est-ce pas?

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  10/31  at  05:21 AM
  186. We’re back, and let me say how refreshing it was at the Dam Site Inn in Hell to encounter a sophistication of political views far beyond that of most college faculties.

    Dante: Sorry, D, Cendrine’s a former college roommate of Beatrice, so I guess “Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to Purgatorio we go . . .” Go yourself.

    Foucault: Quid verbis? Just the sort of “high-school oo-oo!” response I’d expect of you--at once prurient and puerile. Must be a bust with the opposite sex.

    JP: The Maitre a Penser says: “Il n’y a rien hors du texte”. And I say: Explain how this Diktat from the naked emperor is not derivative (considering Mallarme’s “Tout le monde existe pour aboutir a un livre") doctrinaire and silly, as it irrevocably splits word and world. Not radical linguistic indeterminacy?

    More on Michael tomorrow. Really!

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/31  at  06:11 AM
  187. Well, OK, Michael, just a tickler: Sorry I didn’t realise that you teach no classes--Die Uni’s a peachy place to be without all the students, huh? Next stop, All Souls, Oxford? Sorry again that your BIG-REP doesn’t appear to precede you by one quarter-hour. For I didn’t know that the good citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania retain you as their chief leftist Opiner . . . and I’M arrogant . . . Sheesh!

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/31  at  06:31 AM
  188. Oh, glorioski—every comment by JA exhibits a fresh form of foolishness. 

    Right now I’m teaching an undergraduate survey of postwar American fiction.  Next semester I will teach a graduate seminar and a MWF undergraduate honors seminar in contemporary American literature.  As a rule, I do not cancel classes for personal reasons.  While I’m gone this Thursday, the class will be given a midterm exam.

    Now, you would know my teaching load—and a great deal else about my work, including my critiques of poststructuralism and postmodernism—if you read What’s Liberal.  (Hell, you would know I’ve been grading papers if you just took a quick look at previous posts on this blog.) You haven’t read the book, of course; and yet you’ve been fantasizing and bloviating about it on ACTA’s blog for a couple of weeks or so, every time poor Erin O’Connor links to another “thoughtful” review of the thing.  It’s kinda sad, but then again, when your willingness to talk about things you haven’t read is combined with your arrogant demeanor and your intellectual laziness and (as evidenced by your latest remark) your extraordinary gullibility, it’s really kinda funny too.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/31  at  08:18 AM
  189. Foucault: Quid verbis? Just the sort of “high-school oo-oo!” response I’d expect of you--at once prurient and puerile. Must be a bust with the opposite sex.

    Oo-oo, I love it when weirdos talk dirty to me!!

    Quid verbis, quo vadis. I say potato, you say perverto. I say tomato, you say fellatio. Call me! Let’s burn in hell for the love that dare not speak it’s name.

    Posted by  on  10/31  at  08:52 AM
  190. So, MB--you lied. OK, I take what you say at face value unless you’re clearly ironizing--it’s called good faith--and obviously you’re not worthy of it. Nor are your “oppo-personal-research” jackals and hyenas dont je m’en fous. Whatever Prof. Protevi’s views are in relation to mine, he’s an honourable person for rejecting the vicious tempation to use personal gossip and slander against an intellectual or political adversary. I’m afraid I can’t say the same for you, MB (see #138). Faites attention, tout le monde! Gardez M. Berube! And do you support our troops in wartime, MB? Got a beef with ROTC and military recruiters on campus? You apparently believe in leftist political indocrination of grad-doc students (see #117), and wouldn’t answer my clarifying questions about it. You see, MB, I suspect I’ve seen a great deal more of the world “in the raw” than you and probably more of the world of those you lib-left folks like to patronise, so when some of us are proud of what we’ve done in good ol’ traditional work without your so-called help, don’t mock us overly much. It’s not nice.

    In teaching I’ll bet you’ve not had a 6/5 with tutorials in three foreign languages and an additional 10 office hours a week. So far as “intellectual laziness” on my part, MB, I’ll blindly (I’ll confirm or deny this later after surveying your work--I trust you’ve read mine then?) match my second book with anything you’ve published--nay, ALL of what you’ve published--as a contribution to the field of language and literature. Of course one can find typos and such, but I’ll peg my book (and another I’ve begun) with your stuff any day. Contemptible, er contemporary lit (like “film”, “ethnic” and “gender” “literature”, etc.) doesn’t really seem fit for college course work, but in MB’s post-human world I suppose the guide to selectivity is the adolescent “Whatever, dude”. So while Prof. Protevi--though I expect we’ll disagree vehemently about most issues--seems both honest and learned, I’m afraid I can’t offer such concessions to you, MB. I like satire and agonistic rhetoric as much as anyone, MB, but personal attacks--one’s got to go careful here, as the Roumanian gangster in The Third Man says.

    Cheers,

    Dr JA

    Posted by  on  10/31  at  10:04 AM
  191. JA, you’re the first person I’ve ever banned from this blog in the hope that you will stop doing damage to yourself.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/31  at  10:25 AM
  192. JP: The Maitre a Penser says: “Il n’y a rien hors du texte”.

    No, I’m sorry, that is a misquotation. Unfortunately, it’s a misquotation of the single most famous line in contemporary French philosophy. The phrase is “il n’y a pas de hors-texte” (De la Grammatologie, 227). You have perhaps mistakenly re-translated Spivak’s English version, “There is nothing outside of the text” (Of Grammatology, 158), even though she herself adds in brackets a more literal version, “there is no outside-text,” as well as the French original.

    This sets you up for the amateurish mistake of thinking Derrida identifies text and book, and hence separates word and world, even though he entitles the first chapter of De la Gramm., “La fin du livre et le commencement de l’ecriture,” and concludes the second section with the following: “Si nous distinguons le texte du livre, nous dirons que la destruction du livre, telle qu’elle s’annonce aujourd’hui dans tous les domaines, denude la surface du texte” (31). Spivak’s version can be found at 18.

    The infamous “thesis of radical linguistic indeterminacy” you keep so tenaciously clinging to is in fact absent from Derrida’s work. You can verify this by consulting, in Derrida’s very first book, the discussion of univocity and equivocity—the radical and pure forms of both positions are dismissed by Derrida—in Introduction to E. Husserl’s Origin of Geometry (French at 101 ff / English at 100 ff). As a literary critic, you’ll particularly enjoy the juxtaposition of Husserl and Joyce in this passage.

    As far as you lauding me for “rejecting the vicious tempation to use personal gossip and slander against an intellectual or political adversary,” I won’t thank you for that, since that is only what is to be expected.

    However, I will note that, IMO, that is not what MB was doing when referring to Hillsdale. That was ad hominem, of course, but not all use of the ad hominem is fallacious. It goes to the heart of the matter in evaluating the character and temperment of the accuser, and, make no mistake about it, sir, you have chosen to play the role of accuser here.

    As I don’t really have the heart to continue with this evisceration of your pretense with regard to comptetence in judging the merits of contemporary French philosophy (Kirby Olson once accused me of closet Christianity in a similar circumstance), let me just ask you to quit trolling for what you would consider to be “anti-patriotic” remarks about the service men and women. The attempted blackmail about “supporting the troops” can be sniffed out a mile away and does you no credit. Patriotism may be the last refuge of the scoundrel, but trolling for “anti-patriotism” is the last refuge of the desperate. 

    Now I am sorry if this is harsh, but really. This is the big leagues here, and you shouldn’t bring Kool Aid to a vodka party.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/31  at  11:11 AM
  193. If you really are banned, Dr JA, we can continue this via email. You know where to find me.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/31  at  11:15 AM
  194. and you shouldn’t bring Kool Aid to a vodka party

    Now it is a common* misconception that Kool Aid is not something that goes well with vodka or scotch.  I have “heard” that in sufficient quantities (as in “too much") the right mix of Kool Aid inspires the vodka to breathe, and further contributes to the cumulative affects. 

    *captcha common.

    Posted by  on  10/31  at  05:03 PM
  195. Good point, spyder! How about, “you shouldn’t bring a flashlight to the GNF”?

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/31  at  07:39 PM
  196. God, it is nice to hear these sorts of arguments again.  (I started a Ph.D. program in Communication when I was 20, but sort of “washed out”, shall we say, due to my inability to understand the politics of the place.  My coursework was fine; I just couldn’t stop pissing the wrong people off.  And at the #3/#4 Communication school in the U.S., you’ve got to learn pretty fast how to stop pissing off the wrong people.)

    Anyway, thanks for this feature of your blog.

    Posted by  on  11/04  at  01:46 PM
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  199. Hi! About games

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  202. Great Post.  Michael I really enjoyed the book too - wish I’d found this blog a whole lot earlier.

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  203. Postmodernism often refers to art in which the defining line between painting and sculpture is often blurred. Postmodernist works are often characterized by a lack of depth; a flatness.

    Posted by Apostille  on  05/15  at  11:28 PM
  204. 134.NB, MB: Perhaps I ignored the obvious “end” of contemptible, er, contemporary literary “studies"--i.e., to support the lucrative pyramid scheme or taxpayer-financed shakedown operation that paid for your trip to the U of Illinois you crowed about above--how’s the rubber chicken there, MB? Meet the football coach there, who’s (vis a vis salary) probably worth at least four of you and at least two of our nation’s president, who’s got a tad more on his mind than the latest discovered serviette-scribblings of the late Jacques--Maitre a penser--Derrida or the latest senile Marxist musings of Frederic Jameson. is bronchitis contagious fc Bronchitis In Children

    Today later I’ve to deal with the challenge of Prof. John Protevi. Perhaps he played football too long sans helmet (I’m trying desperately to excuse his intemperate rantings); or perhaps he didn’t meet Alan Bloom in Paris. Quid verbis?
    Buona notte, professore!

    Posted by  on  02/07  at  10:11 PM

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