Razzing The Scolds-Some Links

-Alan Sokal makes the case that Portland State’s case against Peter Boghossian ain’t so strong.

-Ben Sixsmith on ‘The Loomer Generation.’

‘Now, the Loomers are in their senescence. Amis has been promising a novel about Saul Bellow, Philip Larkin and Christopher Hitchens, which has created the buzz of a dead housefly. Ian McEwan has produced a series of clever books which have produced diminishing returns. Rushdie’s last novel barely made a dent in the public consciousness. Unpopularity need not reflect quality. Amis might create a masterpiece for all we know. Yet how did a group of writers who were so famous end up with such indifference?’

I picture a belly up, inadvertently praying carapace on the windowsill.

A bit harsh, no?

English writers Ian McEwan and Martin Amis have a looming discussion.

When one turns, as one must, from the hare-brained utterances of ideologues, existentialist afterthoughts bound sheaf after sheaf, the mystifying cant of postmodern academese, yes, one still seeks:

Bridging C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures

‘Snow did not fully appreciate that humanism was more than a collection of facts. It is, above all, a way of understanding what was valuable about human flourishing. Great literature necessarily has a moral purpose that science lacks. As such, humanism critiques aspects of the world that technology creates, reminding us that the next new thing is not necessarily the next good thing. Snow was wrong in implying that true humanists must join scientists in singing a harmonious anthem of social progress.’

As posted: A Link To C.P. Snow’s ‘Two Cultures’

Is there even a culture anyways, man?

Daniel Dennet from 1998:

‘When I was a young untenured professor of philosophy, I once received a visit from a colleague from the Comparative Literature Department, an eminent and fashionable literary theorist, who wanted some help from me. I was flattered to be asked, and did my best to oblige, but the drift of his questions about various philosophical topics was strangely perplexing to me. For quite a while we were getting nowhere, until finally he managed to make clear to me what he had come for. He wanted “an epistemology,” he said. An epistemology. Every self-respecting literary theorist had to sport an epistemology that season, it seems, and without one he felt naked, so he had come to me for an epistemology to wear–it was the very next fashion, he was sure, and he wanted the dernier cri in epistemologies. It didn’t matter to him that it be sound, or defensible, or (as one might as well say) true; it just had to be new and different and stylish. Accessorize, my good fellow, or be overlooked at the party’

Worth a read.

The arts and humantities can be given a seriousness of purpose, I’m guessing, but must that purpose necessarily be scientific?

Do creative musical/artistic geniuses really need to understand particularly well how the sciences advance? How much does it matter that a theater major understands how the sciences come to say true things about the world and predict with high accuracy how nature behaves beyond a science course or two?

I could be wrong.

Clearly, one problem is that out of the postmodern malaise comes the nihilism, moral relativism and general desperation where many can be found clinging to the sciences, or some standard of rationalism and reason that doesn’t seem sufficient in answering all the questions religion claims to answer.   Nor does it seem sufficient as a platform to understand human nature, history, tradition, the wisdom in our institutions, and the experience past generations can offer beyond its own presumptions.

Lots of people can thus make ideology their guide and political change their purpose, or the State their religion and their own moral failings or moral programs everyone’s moral oughts through the law and politics.

Who has the moral legitimacy to be in charge?

Where:  Birkenhead Lake, B.C. Canada.

No, I can’t take photos like this, but people in the family can.

310D-Birkenhead with Boat -2 copy
This is the poem that came to mind, even though Gary Snyder wrote from here instead, where apparently he would be for 60 days at a time:

Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

Gary Snyder

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