Spotlight

Ah, Look At All The Lonely People-‘Jeff Koons Is Back’ Via Vanity Fair

Full piece here. -Koons gets the Annie Leibovitz treatment (an unfortunate photo ...

Update & Repost-A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

Koons has a retrospective at the Whitney going on right now: —————– ...

Repost-A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

—————– Koons’ site here.  Part 1 of a 5-part documentary above. I often ...

Offering links and thoughts on the Arts, Politics, Political Philosophy and Foreign Affairs.

Repost-From The New Yorker: ‘Writing Powered By Amtrak’

Cast a cold eye on life, on death, Amtrak, pass by!:

Amtrak has created a writing residency, or something between the clever use of social-media marketing and a ‘writing residency’.

From The New Yorker:

‘Amtrak is largely government-funded, though it operates as a for-profit enterprise. Also, it would cover Gross’s travel but wouldn’t pay her for writing. Still, there were similarities. While Amtrak was processing the tickets, Gross got an e-mail from Emily Mannix, a public-relations representative who works with Amtrak. ‘

Perhaps vigilant citizens who care about the arts and an open society could keep on eye on some struggling English and liberal arts majors out there.  Your sympathy can become someone else’s ‘empathy’ and from there the demands can flow.

From David Thompson quoting a piece in The Guardian:

‘The perennial question among most creative people I know is not what to create, but how to create: how am I going to write this book/play/polemic and also pay the rent? It’s a tricky balance. Apart from a lucky few writers who get big advances or grants, most novelists cannot live off their work. They need a second (or even third) job to keep on writing.’

Thompson in response:

‘This admission, by novelist Brigid Delaney in the Guardian, may prompt readers to wonder whether we have a surplus of such “creative people,” more than the market can support. More than is required. Certainly, the career prospects of being a novelist, playwright or unspecified creative person don’t sound terribly good:’

Food for thought.

Related On This Site:  Repost-From Poemshape: ‘Let Poetry Die’

Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?…We’re already mixing art and politics, so…
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Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

 From Big Hollywood: ‘The National Endowment For The Art Of Persuasion?’

A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’

Under A Green Moon-Ira Stoll At The New York Sun: ‘Comma in the New Yorker Opens Up Quite a Vista Of Liberal Parochialism’

Full piece here.

Stoll:

‘There was a wonderful article by an editor at the magazine, Mary Norris, about commas. Wonderful, that is, until this passage, “That was during the Reagan Administration, when many of us suspected that Reagan had some form of dementia, but no one could do anything about it. The country was running on automatic.”

Such politicization can make for bad stewardship of the arts, certainly.

Perhaps New Yorker features are increasingly flogged to maintain readership in a competitive marketplace, or are being put to use for other purposes, like reaffirming political ideology and identities to signal the right beliefs and in-group/out-group loyalties.  Many of the liberal pieties can be found on display at the New Yorker.

Unsolicited advice for The New Yorker: Build a wall around your political stable, don’t bet too much on current trends and politicians, and keep other spaces free for the genuinely ‘avant-garde,’ the strange and beautiful, and biting satire when it shows-up.

As previously posted:

Adam Kirsch was not so impressed with the 2009 inauguration ceremony:

‘In our democratic age, however, poets have always had scruples about exalting leaders in verse. Since the French Revolution, there have been great public poems in English, but almost no great official poems. For modern lyric poets, whose first obligation is to the truth of their own experience, it has only been possible to write well on public themes when the public intersects, or interferes, with that experience–when history usurps privacy.’

A reader sends a link to a SF Gate review of poet Jorie Graham’s ‘Sea Change:

‘In “Sea Change,” Graham becomes Prospero, casting spells by spelling out her thoughts to merge with ours, and with the voices of the elements. The result is a mingling of perceptions rather than a broadcasting of opinions. Instead of analysis, the poems encourage emotional involvement with the drastic changes overwhelming us, overwhelm- ing the planet.’

and:

‘Strengths and weaknesses, flows and ebbs, yet every poem in “Sea Change” bears memorable lines, with almost haunting (if we truly have but 10 years to “fix” global warming) images of flora and fauna under siege. Jorie Graham has composed a swan song for Earth.’

Oh boy.

What are these poems being asked to do?

Repost-Heather McDonald At The WSJ: ‘ The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity’

***Who do you trust for discussions of the arts and culture, and would you just rather publications be up front about their ideological bents and loyalties?

The Brain I Possibly Am, Moral Relativism And A Few Red And Green Links

Roger Scruton At The New Atlantis: ‘My Brain And I

Interesting take:

‘Yet the real problem for cognitive science is not the problem of consciousness. Indeed, I am not sure that it is even a problem. Consciousness is a feature that we share with the higher animals, and I see it as an “emergent” feature, which is in place just as soon as behavior and the functional relations that govern it reach a certain level of complexity. The real problem, as I see it, is self-consciousness — the first-person awareness that distinguishes us from the other animals, and which enables us to identify ourselves, and to attribute mental predicates to ourselves, in the first-person case — the very same predicates that others attribute to us in the second- and third-person case.’

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Larry Arnhart At Darwinian Conservatism is skeptical of the Nietzchean influence: ‘Prinz’s Deceptive Silence in His Arguments for Emotivism and Cultural Relativism:’

‘In Beyond Human Nature, Jesse Prinz argues for emotivism and cultural relativism in his account of human morality.  In doing this, he employs the rhetorical technique of deceptive silence.  What I mean by this is that in presenting the research relevant to his topic, he picks out those findings that seem to support his arguments, while passing over in silence those findings that contradict his arguments. 

For example, he sets up a stark debate between Kantian rationalism and Humean emotivism in explaining the basis of human morality; and he argues that empirical research supports emotivism by showing that moral judgment is purely emotional and not rational at all (293-95).  This is deceptive in two respects. ‘

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I can’t speak to Britain’s Green Party, but neither can anyone else apparently.  Via David Thompson: ‘Incredibly Awkward Interview With Natalie Bennett.’

A train-wreck on the air with a lot of coughing…

If some Britains aren’t engaged in the magical and doomsday cult thinking of back to nature utopianism, they’re apparently channeling that magical thinking into the Green Party political platform of free houses and money-tree utopianism.

Good to know.

From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…A Debate: Would We Better Off Without Religion?…Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

A Brief Review of Jesse Prinz’s ‘The Emotional Construction Of Morals’Red Impulses Gone Green-Tim Worstall At The Adam Smith Institute On George Monbiot

Via Youtube-Tony Geary For Members Only Jackets

If you’re not wearing one of these, you can’t be in my club:

Repost-‘From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

Full post here.

‘Geithner has long wanted to exit GM soon, wanting to get out of the business of owning a large stake in an automaker. Some GM officials worried that after Geithner leaves in January, reaching a deal could have taken months, but Treasury officials disagreed.

Before the November election, the Obama administration had showed no interest in disposing of its 26.5 percent stake in GM — or 500 million shares — it had acquired in 2009 as part of GM’s bankruptcy restructuring.’

Over six years ago, when GM stock was selling at $2 a share and the debt-holders had been wiped out, this blog put up the video below.  Here’s a brief 2:00 min explanation by Bill Ackman of Pershing Square on why the GM bailout was likely a bad idea:

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Certain people benefitted more than they would have otherwise, of course, like the UAW and it’s fair to say the Obama administration which needed the votes in Ohio to get reelected, but others, including investors who risked their own money, and the taxpayers, most of whom didn’t have a say beyond their votes, lost money.  Obama, as politicians are wont to do, pretty clearly waited until after the election to quietly make the sale.

ZeroHedge has more here, and has been following the process for awhile.

My guess is Obama will try and maneuver away from the coming tax and regulatory fallout upon ordinary taxpayers, small businesses, and consumers from Dodd-Frank and Obamacare as it all begins to rain down.

The money has to come from somewhere, and it’s coming from you and me, through inflation, higher taxes, higher prices with costs passed down to the consumer, for starters.

My non-economist two cents.

Addition:  David Harsanyi at Reason has more.  Non-union employees pensions got raided and taxpayers foot the bill, so that Obama and the UAW can maintain power.

Tuesday Poem: ‘A Pact’ By Ezra Pound

A Pact

I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman –
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown child
Who has had a pig-headed father;
I am old enough now to make friends.
It was you that broke the new wood,
Now is a time for carving.
We have one sap and one root –
Let there be commerce between us.

-Ezra Pound

From The Liberal Bastions-James Baldwin, Often

Quote found here:

‘By the time Baldwin published “Another country” and the essay collection “Nobody Knows My Name,” both in 1962, he had become America’s leading black literary star. Both books were commercially successful, but reviews were mixed. In 1962, “The New Yorker” published Baldwin’s essay “The Fire Next Time,” which detailed his evangelical upbringing and his views on Christianity as a form of slavery forced on and then embraced by blacks. When Baldwin became the official voice of black America, however, he immediately compromised his voice as a writer, sacrificing his gifts in order to gain acceptance from the Black Power movement. In the 1970s, Baldwin was adrift not only politically but aesthetically. Nevertheless, up until his death, in 1987, at the age of 63, Baldwin continued to harbor the hope that he would be embraced as an important literary figure by his own race.’

And just to suggest no definitive answers to such problems, but rather which kinds of questions might be worth asking:

At minute 9:20 of Thomas Sowell discussing his book: ‘Intellectuals and Race…

…Baldwin is quoted:

People in Harlem know they are there because white people do not think they are good enough to live anywhere else…[In a new housing project they] naturally…began smashing windows, defacing walls {and] urinating in the elevators…

======================

But what if in the crusade of black folks to appeal to white folks’ better natures, one fell prey to the vanity of this idea?:

‘The central premise of liberal intellectuals for decades…[was] that the racial problem was essentially…inside the minds of white people…

Well, Baldwin was pretty successful at reaching inside the minds of many, to his credit, using his natural gifts to make a moral plea for such ends.

Sowell asks why certain cultures have pursued ideas and abstractions to tremendous advantage, developing habits of success in the sciences, politics, law, trade and technology in the process?

America, certainly, has been one such success story, despite and partly because of its original sin…and such successes have happened before in England instead of Ireland, the Greeks and Romans instead of Northern Europe, as Sowell notes.

Why not join ‘em, copying what works, or at least trying hard to beat them at their own game once given the chance? This seems to be a logical consequence of Sowell’s reasoning. This, as opposed becoming locked in resentment, justified in anger, dependent upon the ‘oppressor’, often following an ideology in search of a cause; victim-hood in search of facts and evidence.

Schools and programs can do a lot, expanding experience and making people larger than they otherwise would be, but they are often an inefficient way to do it, really offering less than can a stable home in a growing economy, and running into problems of unions, twisted incentives, bureaucracies, corruption and waste.

Notice the emotional appeal:

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I suspect that under an activist moon, many liberals must feel the tidal pull of solidarity against the ‘oppressor;’ left seeking their own moral lights in a rather dense fog.

There must be someone to blame!

This can also be very funny; creating incentives for well-educated, often very square people to overlook, quite conveniently at times, their own habits of success, wealth-building and hard-work.

This can also be very sad, making successful folks follow incentives that will eventually undercut their own habits of success, wealth-building and hard-work through awful political incentives, potentially dragging us all into poorer, darker, place with little room to reflect.

Preach what you practice.  Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

***From a reader, parks are better than the kind of neighborhood ‘The Message’ comes from:

Duly noted:

‘People pissin’ on the stairs you know they just don’t care’:

Also On This Site:  From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Repost-Vidal/Buckley Debate, 1968

The People In Charge Are Never The Ones You Want

So, what do you want?

From ‘A Modest Proposal’:

‘But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at legnth utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expense and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in disobliging England.’
I’ll take this in a certain direction. From my high-school days, ‘The Wave':

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Intellectuals running things…:

“The likings and dislikings of society, or of some powerful portion of it, are thus the main thing which has practically determined the rules laid down for general observance, under the penalties of law or opinion. And in general, those who have been in advance of society in thought and feeling, have left this condition of things unassailed in principle, however they may have come into conflict with it in some of its details. They have occupied themselves rather in inquiring what things society ought to like or dislike, than in questioning whether its likings or dislikings should be a law to individuals. They preferred endeavoring to alter the feelings of mankind on the particular points on which they were themselves heretical, rather than make common cause in defence of freedom, with heretics generally. The only case in which the higher ground has been taken on principle and maintained with consistency, by any but an individual here and there, is that of religious belief:…”

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2007), 8-9.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Repost-Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-‘Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

Repost-Two Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Jesse Walker At Reason Links To Ross Douthat: ‘”The Meritocracy As We Know It Mostly Works To Perpetuate the Existing Upper Class’

Also On This Site:  How many libertarians are fundamentally anti-theist…and would some go so far as to embrace utilitarianism, or Mill’s Harm Principle?

A Few Lines By Antonio Machado

Antonio Machado has always been one of my favorites.  Sent in by a reader.

El ojo que ves no es
ojo porque tú lo veas;
es ojo porque te ve.

The eye you see is not
An eye because you see it
It’s an eye because it sees you.

Repost: Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie’

Full review here.

Malik takes issue with some of the British left’s handling of the Salman Rushdie (wikipedia) affair:

“It has now become widely accepted that we live in a multicultural world, and that in such a world it is important not to cause offence to other peoples and cultures.”

There is an important difference between having problems with the Muslim world, and having problems with your own society’s conflicted views of the Muslim/outside world with the non-classically liberal Left.

He argues that 3 myths persist:

“The first myth is that the controversy over Rushdie’s novel was driven by religion. It wasn’t. It was a political conflict.”

“The second myth is that all Muslims were offended by The Satanic Verses.”

“The third myth lies in the perception of the anti-Rushdie campaigners as male, middle-aged, poorly educated, badly integrated…”many, equally, were young, left-wing, articulate, educated, integrated.” 

and his main conclusion:

“So why were these people drawn to the anti-Rushdie campaign? Largely because of disenchantment with the secular left, on the one hand, and the institutionalisation of multicultural policies on the other.“

There’s no better way to keep people apart than slowing the economy, and making diversity and moral relativism the highest things around.

——————

From this piece ‘Moderate Muslims Must Oppose Islamism‘ at the National Review published in the wake of the Marathon bombing:

‘Though these two brothers may have acted like regular American youth to unsuspecting neighbors, participating in sports, attending public schools, and hailing from neighborhoods in the Boston community, at some point they were taken in by the ideology of political Islam, which, like an intoxicating drug, lured them down the path of separatist Islamism and its common endpoint of militant jihadism against both non-Islamist Muslims and non-Muslim societies’

Of course, even if we lived in a Muslim majority society that wasn’t dominated by political Islam, there still wouldn’t be freedom of speech, a broad raft of individual liberties, separation of church and state etc.  Those were produced by the West.

However, we likely need the support of the Muslims already here, by supporting them against political Islam and radical Islamism, to some extent.  We also need to be aware that the multicultural Left will create policies that do not properly integrate immigrants, constantly reward victimhood, and in the leveling impulse towards equality erode our economy and maintain very open immigration policies.  It’s no longer a melting pot, at some point.

***In American society, we see longer trend lines leading towards multiculturalism, moral relativism and a further Leftward, nihilistic, more Europeanized Left which will aim for a regulated economy, inclusion in ‘diversity,’ and open immigration policies.

Meanwhile, in the Muslim world we’ve seen the rise of Islamism, and political Islam, funded by Saudi money and exported with the Wahhabis (Salafists rising too), also terrorism funded by Iranian money and exported through Hizbollah.  Much of it is purist, and anti-modern, anti-colonial, anti-Western, and it will have many implications.  Their message resonates with folks around the globe, and presents challenges on many fronts, including foreign policy and military strategy, domestic and international terrorism.

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie by Nrbelex.

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