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 Times Higher Education: Simon Blackburn On The The Atheist/Believer Debate

Full article here.

He appeals to David Hume’s depth and humor.

“But it is not just that old tunes are being replayed, but that they are being replayed badly. The classic performance was given by David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, written in the middle of the 18th century. “

and Blackburn’s last paragraph:

“The upshot ought to be not dogmatic atheism, but sceptical irony. Of course, the latter is just as infuriating to those making special claims to authority, perhaps more so. Men and women of God may find it invigorating and bracing to meet disagreement, but even benevolent mockery is mockery. They would find that it is much harder to bear the Olympian gaze of the greatest of British philosophers.”

Recent related posts: From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…and how to get away from creationist/darwinist dualism…From Bloggingheads: Adam Frank And Eliezer Yudkowsky Discuss The Epistemology Of Science

Bryan Magee Via Youtube: ‘John Passmore on Hume: Section 1′

Is There Any Island Left For Islanders Like Him? From The New Yorker On Billy Joel: ‘Thirty-Three Hit Wonder’

Excellent piece here.

I think you’ve got to look at Billy Joel’s raw talent; the prodigious musical gifts and compositional ability; the mimicry, the voices, the piano-playing which became a vehicle for so many of his hits.  Add a quite nice voice and a road-warrior mentality trying to offer value at every show, working alongside his band, and you’ve got quite a package.

An American Songbook kind of guy.

I can barely think of anyone more Lon-Giland, who put his abilities to the American grindstone, but whose talent often hovers above any chosen genre he finds himself in.

Thanks, Billy.

Nick Paumgartner on a Slate review of Joel:

‘He was terrible, he is terrible, he always will be terrible. Anodyne, sappy, superficial, derivative, fraudulently rebellious. . . . Billy Joel’s music elevates self-aggrandizing self-pity and contempt for others into its own new and awful genre: ‘Mock-Rock.’ ”

He [Rosenbaum] called Joel “the Andrew Wyeth of contemporary pop music.”

When I mentioned this to Joel, he said, “What’s wrong with Andrew Wyeth?”

What is wrong with Andrew Wyeth? On this site see: Spring Beauties’-A Brief Post And A Link On Andrew Wyeth

On sitting down with Joel:

‘In between pieces, he began to explain that these were variations on a motif and that they were telling the story of the history of Long Island, from its pastoral beginnings to the arrival of the Europeans—“I’m imagining the prow of a ship, and a Puritan hymn”—and then the bustle of the nineteenth century. Farming, fishing, the railroad. “Getting busy on Long Island,” he said. “This one’s almost Coplandesque, with big open fifths.” We were a long way from Brenda and Eddie. He played intently as the room went dark.’

That sounds like a pretty talented artist looking for roots and sifting through American history and Americana for inspiration to me…

Here’s a popular song in the seafaring style trying to do good for local people without the righteous self-flattery and regard stars so often bring to the table:

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

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: Woman… Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Likely Terror In Ottawa & Cathy Young, Bad Laws & Challenging Feminist Discontents

R.I.P. Nathan Cirillo.  Thoughts and prayers to his family, as he was the Canadian soldier killed by a lone gunman likely motivated by that gunman’s recent conversion to Islam.

Just a few doors away from the gunman’s path was today Canada’s Wednesday caucus, apparently including the Prime Minister and his party in a room on one side, and the opposition in a room on the other.

It’s a small world after all.  Crazed, possibly self-radicalizing morons seeing themselves as part of a global ideological and religious struggle just need to be included in the ‘community’…

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Cathy Young suggests the Federalist Society has gone soft for pulling-out having her as a speaker:

‘In its response to my column on my relationship with the Federalist Society’s speakers bureau, the Federalist Society claims that it continues to host events on the same topic that got me dropped from their list—challenging hardline feminist doctrines on “rape culture” and rape legislation—and speakers who share the same “basic perspective” as mine.’

The Federalist’s original response to Young.

This blog tries to focus on feminist ideology and its discontents; the warmed-over and mainstreamed activists, the utopians (flip-side totalitarians as you can bet there’s a moral framework and human nature under all the power theories and bad incentives)…the radicals who keep doing radical things.

I think there ought to be a more honest brokering of the costs to having such folks drive debate, as well as more sunlight disinfecting what is often just re-hashed critical theory, an ideology celebrating victimhood and denigrating its capitalist oppressors.

The personal ain’t political, and let’s face it, much of this logic doesn’t often lead to liberal places, even if it has meant more freedom for some, and likely, many women, in many cases.

Such people, similar to religious zealots and various other true-believers, need to be put continually into their proper context.

Cathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘The Brown Case: Does It Still Look Like Rape?

Gender equity feminists are what I take Thomas Sowell to mean by ‘intellectuals’ and include many ‘intellectuals’ who use statistics to often justify preconceived ideas….which is misusing statistics:

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These are pretty much the kinds of policymakers finding a listening ear and ideological ally in the White House right now:

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Repost-From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

Full post here.

Let’s not forget how badly some folks have acted in the Middle-East and in the West:

‘The posting on Revolutionmuslim.com says: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.’

No, I wouldn’t take that as a threat at all…

Update:  Did Comedy Central censor the potentially offensive parts…as a result of the ‘threats’?  What is insidious about a terroristic threat is how much it works.  Also, how much (if there is a causal connection) of the decision might be fear of legal action, loss of revenue, pc related?

Comedy Central, by most accounts, doesn’t want to re-air the episode.

Related On This Site:   From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’

Is Islam incompatibile with freedom as we define it here in the West, or is this a false choice?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Ayan Hirsi Ali has used the ideals of the West (especially women’s rights) to potentially confront Islam; which has served her politically as well:  Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’ Certainly, excessive relativism can create ghettoes of un-integrated Muslims in European society, and turn out more violence and threats of violence.

See Also:  If you thought the cartoons were bad, more on the Fitna movie here.  Libertarians stand firm on this issue:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant

Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders-Yale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk.

Tuesday Poem: James Merrill-‘A Renewal’

A Renewal

Having used every subterfuge
To shake you, lies, fatigue, or even that of passion,
Now I see no way but a clean break.
I add that I am willing to bear the guilt.

You nod assent. Autumn turns windy, huge,
A clear vase of dry leaves vibrating on and on.
We sit, watching. When I next speak
Love buries itself in me, up to the hilt.

James Merrill

Two Links Pink And Green

Walter Russell Mead on the Keystone Pipeline:

‘The State Department has again and again reported that the proposed pipeline would have a neglible impact on climate change (because the oil is coming out of the ground whether Keystone is built or not), and Canada is America’s largest trading partner and one of its most important allies. But the greens are an important part of the Democratic base moving into the midterms, so what should have been an easy decision for the pipeline became a real dilemma.’

Amy Payne At The Foundry: ‘Morning Bell: Obama Administration Buries Good News on Keystone Pipeline’ From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘The Failure of Al Gore Part Three: Singing the Climate Blues’…Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty

Shika Dalmia on Ezra Klein following the logic where it leads:

‘What’s truly ugly, I note in The Week, is accepting totalitarian notions of justice to address a problem that is nowhere near as rampant as the proponents of “yes means yes” laws claim and that women are perfectly capable of handling on their own.’

More from Minding The Campus.

The ideology and its adherents defend their position and themselves, and claim to be neutral.  It’s just wiki-wonk pure journalism. Cathy Young at Reason-The Argument Against Affirmative Consent Gets Voxjacked.

Who needs natural rights and the presumption of innocence when the wise progressive elders have the latest statistics?

The Personal Ain’t Political-Holding The Line Against Rape Ideologues-Conor Friedersdorf On George WillCathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘The Brown Case: Does It Still Look Like Rape?

Are You Man Enough? Nussbaum v. MansfieldFrom The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Defending Eliot Spitzer…as a man who ought to be free of prostitution laws…but didn’t he prosecute others with those same laws?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A very Harvard affair: The Spelke/Pinker debate-The Science Of Gender And Science

Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

From The NY Times: ‘Harvard Business School Case Study: Gender Equity’

Repost-From Guernica: Bernard Henri Levy Interview On Anti-Semitism And Fascism

Full post and brief written interview here.

Henri-Levy has done some pretty deep thinking, mostly within leftist intellectual traditions, but also seems to attempt to question the core ideas of those traditions:

“I hate competition of victimhood. But I also hate the idea of a big, huge, and empty concept of suffering…”

A deep moral and (maturing political) realist who’s also anti-religious (typically left, at least he doesn’t advocate enforcement of Godlessness).

I agree that there’s danger in identity-victimhood politics.  It can cultivate many vices under its loftier idealism.  Yet, for my part, I believe that an intellectually honest, reasonable conservative (conservare) position already acknowledges much of this danger:

“You had fascism in Japan. You had fascism in Europe. You had fascism in people like Lindberg in America. You had fascism in Latin America and in the Arab world.”

Well…yes.   It doesn’t go away, and you can likely make a deep metaphysical theories about how it is a part of each of us and extend them around the globe with moral courage as Henri-Levy has done.   However, I don’t think the conservative position need devolve into caricatured support of fascist tendencies.  I can easily see how identity-politics might inflame fascist tendencies (if you accept Henri-Levy’s defintion of fascism.

And…Lindberg?

Which brings me to the next point:

“And one of the reasons I am so much in favor of [Senator Barack] Obama is that his election might be, will be—because I think he will be elected—a real end to this tide of competition of victimhood, and especially on the specific ground of the two communities, Jews and African Americans, who were so close in the 1960s”

…”The Obama election would reconstitute the grand alliance.”

What is he smoking?  The grand alliance?  No wonder his book American Vertigo seemed so tone-deaf when dealing with its potential subject:  America.   Even the American left found it lacking.

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I appreciate the support that some in the French republic extended to African Americans (jazz musicians, writers, James Baldwin…for example) who were cast beneath our moral concern, and held there, sadly, by even the laws.  There are hardly words for such injustice, yet I see no easy recourse from it.

In fact, if I were one of the millions of relatively poor and marginalized Muslims on the outsides of Paris, languishing with little hope of a future, my fascist tendencies (expressed within or without the Koran) would lIkely be bubbling up.  And while the depths of moral courage, wisdom and insight an Henri-Levy provided (if I got the chance to read him) might spur me on to independent thought, those depths would leave a lot untouched.

Addition:  Reader-emailed evidence for the American black-jewish leftist alliance on Bloggingheads with Joshua Cohen  engaging in genuine moral concern and genuie academic apologetics.  Obama has chosen Rahm Emmanuel to likely be the White House Chief Of Staff, and of course from the Kentucky Fried Movie, Cleopatra Swartz.  Thank you readers…I think.

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At this point, we’re probably helping Henri-Levy make his. Identity politics!

I thought Henri-Levy had transcended them…oh wait…never mind.

Repost-‘Modern Art For Sale In The Middle-East-From The New Yorker: ‘Richard Serra In the Qatari Desert’

Full post here.

Click through for a Serra-released photo of four metal pillar-forms aligned in the deserts of Qatar, designed to inevitably rust.  The piece has a slight ‘2001: A Space Odyssey feel, but that could just be me.

‘The Qatar Museums Authority is estimated to spend about a billion dollars per year on art. At its head is the young Sheikha al-Mayassa Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, a sister of the Emir of Qatar and a Duke University graduate, who was recently named the most powerful person in the art world by ArtReview.’

Get while the getting is good, so long as the Sheiks have the dough.

Serra is a quite accomplished modern artist and sculptor often working in the ‘land-art,’ category, or site-specific pieces interacting with the viewer and the natural surroundings. Check out Hyperallergic’s visit to ‘Shift,’ a series of concrete forms he left in an Ontario field.

Here’s Serra discussing a piece of his at 21 West Gagosian, or a densely-packed, carefully measured series of metal forms in a room.  What does the viewer experience in this space?:

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Serra, I think, more than other land-artists, turns that discussion a little more inwards, towards the abstract, the body moving through a space of his design as he tries to bring something across to the viewer.

Or so says me.

Interview with Serra here.

Also, what’s with all that Gulf oil money buying-up modern art?:

As to politics, James Panero had a piece on Qatar:

‘On the one hand, Qatar’s art initiatives can be seen as a modernizing force, one that could liberalize the tribal attitudes of the country’s native population and pave the way for further political reform. On the other hand, contemporary art may merely serve as a cover for further repressive policies.’

On another note, that of land-art, Robert Hughes took a look at the work of Michael Heizer, who’s been working since 1972 on a sculpture in the Eastern Nevada desert, which was originally called ‘Complex One.’  It’s morphed into his life’s work, called City.  It’s very large. It can’t be moved.  You can’t reproduce it.  It represents a break from traditional sculpture. It can’t be put in a museum and it’s not clear that it has a function.  See more on Hughes take on it from his series, “Shock Of The New” which includes some aerial shots (from 00:45 to 5:30):

Is modernism now our culture?:

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Related On This SiteJames Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

MOMA is private, so perhaps it’s not as decadent if they display Tilda Swinton in a box:

Tilda Swinton At MOMA-From Arma Virumque: ‘Nightmare In A Box’

Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: Woman… Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And Thinkers

From Public Reason: ‘Symposium on Gaus’s Public Reason Liberalism’

Full discussion here.

There was also a summary of chapters in a reading group presentation:

‘Jerry has argued throughout the book that the conception of the person employed within public reason liberalism and liberalism broadly speaking must move in this Hayekian direction. If public reason liberals follow Jerry’s lead, the fundamental structure of public reason and even the nature of the social contract theorists’ project must substantially change. In short, political justification must not begin with deriving the rationality of rule-following from a teleological conception of practical reason. Instead, it must begin with an understanding of the nature of human beings who are already rule-followers and the nature of the moral emotions and cooperative activities that accompany such rule-following. It is in this way that Jerry moves most forcefully away from Hobbesian conceptions of public reason. He goes further by arguing that even the Kantian conception of the person he endorses cannot be constructed out of practical reason alone. Instead, human nature contains Kantian elements for thoroughly Humean-Hayekian-evolution reasons. Our rule-following nature is contingent on our social development (though no less contingent than our goal-seeking nature).’

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.   Gaus tries to reconcile three ideas:

1.  The reality of deep disagreement, and the fact that private reason leads each of us to vastly differing conclusions about the nature of truth and how to live and what to do; how to constrain our behavior.

2.  The principle that no one has any natural authority over anyone else

3.  The principle that social authority is necessary for social life.  We are already born and woven into such a fabric and are already rule-followers to some extent.

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For Gaus, instrumentalists do not deal persuasively with number 003, and some empirical research, cog-sci, economics etc. is perhaps necessary for the practice of good political philosophy.

In addition, he cites his three primary influences as Thomas Hobbes, John Rawls, and Amartya Sen.

Some liberaltarians I know are quite pleased.

Addition: And a friend asks?:  “Can you see life, liberty, and property from here?”

Addition: Public Reason also has an audio interview here. Likely worth your time.

Related On This SiteJesse Prinz Discusses “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” On Bloggingheads...

Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo StraussFrom Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’

..A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantSome Friday Quotations: (On) Kant, Locke, and Pierce

The ‘International Community’ Requests Your Presience-Two Links

From Walter Russell Mead:

‘Those are classic gangster euphemisms coming out of Don Putin’s mouth. And Russia’s capo should be feeling confident: he has triumphed in Ukraine, and is now pushing his advantage in yet another area. In Moldova, Russia has the all-important lever of a frozen conflict that could conceivably be thawed should the need arise’

Putin’s ethno-nationalist, thuggish plan to isolate and freeze former satellites, foment and support conflict and strong-arm them into submission is continuing apace.  From Georgia to Ukraine to possibly Moldova…

Meanwhile, Xi’s cohort in Beijing is drawing Hong Kong further into its orbit, as Hong Kong still fights to maintain many of its political and economic freedoms…realizing how easy it is to see them whittled away…as though they were never there.

On that note, Michael Totten has been visiting the still Communist regimes:

‘Vietnam’s middle class travels on motorbikes for the most part rather than in cars, but in the 1970s almost everyone got around on a bicycle. Cuba hasn’t even reached the bicycle stage yet. Its streets and highways are more bereft of traffic than anywhere in the world except North Korea.’

That economic liberalization and rapid change away from a Communist regime is partly what’s going on in China:  Copy the patents and ideas while building basic infrastructure, as Peter Thiel pointed out, and get up to speed over the next few decades.  Keep the economy blistering ahead by hook or by crook.

This is creating all sorts of other contingencies.

Related On This Site: Kissinger says our relations with China are incredibly fragile, and that due to its own past, it may not fit as easily into the Western models of statecraft as some would think: From The Online WSJ: ‘Henry Kissinger on China. Or Not.’

Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’…A Kantian raft?: Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

From The WSJ-Exclusive: ‘Eric Schmidt Unloads On China In New Book’

From The China Daily Mail: ‘The Cultures Of North Korea And China: Conflict Escalation Explained’

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