‘When Hill came to Yale in 1992 — his wife, senior lecturer Norma Thompson, was a professor in the political science department — he already had a decorated record of foreign service. After graduating from Brown University and completing his graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, he worked foreign service postings in Switzerland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Vietnam. Among other positions, he served as a policy advisor at the State Department, an advisor for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, political counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, executive aide to Secretary of State George Shultz and an advisor to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 1992-1996 Secretary-General of the United Nations‘
It’s Yale, so I wonder with whom he’ll be replaced:
As to who’s minding our institutions, and where the logic has led: If you start in radical resentment and a rejection of legitimate authority, you cultivate radical resentment and a rejection of legitimate authority:
What’s advertised on the box isn’t what’s inside the box:
‘The initial training session is titled “Managing Bias.” The intent is to teach “participants…how biases affect their actions and impact others when left unchecked, including creating unhealthy work environments and reinforcing unjust practices.” Again, this may sound reasonable, until it becomes apparent that, to the academic left, nonconforming opinions are usually due to bias.‘
Strolling along, Avital Ronell, professor of German and Comparative Literature at NYU, invites you for a walk in the park, for whom 10 minutes of profound explication can never be enough:
I’m guessing that in the past, and maybe still in the present, some Nimrods find both the Catholic Church and/or the Priesthood of Impenetrable Jargon attractive life options.
‘In September 2017, New York University launched a Title IX investigation into Avital Ronell, an internationally acclaimed professor who had been accused of sexual harassment by her former graduate student, Nimrod Reitman.’
Roger Scruton suggests that the co-opting of university philosophy and literature departments by similar postmodern schools of thought (post-ish Marxist) does a disservice to young people interested in both philosophy and literature:
On that note, it doesn’t matter so much if ideas are true, or falsifiable, but rather if they can be held with conviction, made into policy, and acted upon in the world. People are going to do politics, whether you like it or not. It’s a basic human activity.
I’d argue that the decline of religion along with the intellectual currents in many academies have conspired to produce enough space for the following in our politics: Morally righteous people interested in how you should live your life. People who are deeply anti-religious and narrowly ideological.
‘Noble’ profession journalism never so much was, though I suppose it has a place for the essential in our Republic. The essential won’t happen without the right kind of local civic engagement, either.
Here’s an interesting discussion between two people, likely led by opposing political instincts but who find themselves sharing some radical, common ground (right and left, O’Keefe and Weinstein, respectively).
How low should you go, especially if you’re out in the cold with respect to many mainstream media and political institutions?
As posted, my biases:
Perhaps the NY Times is loping, mid-transformation, towards the clearing where The Guardian can be found, baying at the moon: Not exactly whom you can trust to commit to facts, but some facts will be gotten right along the path towards equity, social justice, and the coming global worker’s paradise.
It’s true that all institutions have bias, current members tending to signal ‘here’s what matters around here‘, prospective members signaling back ‘of course it matters to me too‘ in hopes of gaining a foot in the door or another rung up the ladder. The less objective and performance-based the core activities of the institutions, the more group loyalty and politics seem to matter.
Unsurprising then, that the latest politico-moral movements should hold sway as they do. Everyone’s a captive until they take a stance.
As for the NY Times, I think this ‘The Hunt’ piece from the Real Estate section sums up my expectations nicely:
‘As conservationists, they decorated almost exclusively with secondhand furniture. The large closets — “the biggest I’ve had in my life,” Ms. Sinclair said — have enough storage space for the craft materials she uses for her feminist tableware line, Oddtitties.us.’
Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon
‘Ours does not promise to go down in literary history as a great age of religious poetry. Yet if contemporary poetry is not often religious, it is still intensely, covertly metaphysical.‘
For Heidegger, more than any other philosopher, looked to poetry as a model of what thinking should be. He used individual poems, especially the hymns of Hölderlin, to help explicate his own ideas about nature, technology, art, and history.‘
‘This is the dead end of Modernist culture, which sought to break down traditional values and rules but was unable to replace them with anything better. It left us in a cultural void where, as the New York Times piece puts it, everyone is afraid that “serious commitment to any belief will eventually be subsumed by an opposing belief, rendering the first laughable at best and contemptible at worst.” In the second half of the 20th century, this corrosive Modernist skepticism brought us the ruling concept of contemporary popular culture: the “cool.” Remember the original meaning of the term. To be “cool” is to be emotionally cool, to refuse to be caught up in enthusiasm. Early on, this could be taken to mean a kind of manly reserve, the ability to be calm, cool, and collected in the face of strife, or to refuse to be carried away by momentary or trivial emotions. This is the sense in which James Bond was “cool.” But by the end of the 20th century, the culture of cool increasingly came to mean a studied lack of response to values. It meant refusing to be carried away by enthusiasm about anything.’
You’ve seen the game some people start playing when they don’t have other things in which to believe. They play the everyone-is-Hitler-game. They share ‘literature’, torch courthouses and deploy violent individuals within mob anonymity. They don’t believe in legitimate authority.
Liberal leadership doesn’t seem to have a strategic response, other than keep pushing the ‘liberation’ narratives while accruing more authority.
Zhou’s response was that of a hedgehog. He had just one issue: Taiwan. “If this crucial question is not solved,” he told Kissinger at the outset, “then the whole question [of U.S.-China relations] will be difficult to resolve.‘
Some interesting takeaways from the interview above (Kissinger was a young man whose family fled the Nazis and who not long after served in the American military, helping to free a concentration camp).
-According to Ferguson, this still tends to make Kissinger an idealist on the idealist/realist foreign policy axis, but it also likely means he’s breaking with the doctrines which animate many on the political Left, hence his often heretical status.
***I’d add that unlike many thinkers in the German philosophical and political traditions, the Anglosphere has economic idealists and various systematists battling other systematists, yes, but there are looser networks of free, civic association and more avoidance of top-down organization and fewer internalized habits of order.
Perhaps such looser civic associations, broad geography and rougher, cruder practices of freedom help keep power and authority dispersed. Kissinger came closer to being ‘America’s Metternich‘ than have all but a few other actors, and Kant was quite serious in the scope of his metaphysics.
‘The most original and interesting aspect of the biography is Ferguson’s ability to engage with and analyze Kissinger’s ideas as set forth in the voluminous letters, papers, articles, and books written by Kissinger as a student, academic, and policy adviser. According to Ferguson, Kissinger the political philosopher was closer to Kant than Machiavelli. While he admired the brilliance of Metternich and Bismarck, his ideal statesmen (e.g., Castlereagh) sought to construct international orders that did not depend upon a guiding genius for their stability.
He was not, however, a Wilsonian idealist—idealism based on abstraction instead of experience, he believed, was a “prescription for inaction.” “The insistence on pure morality,” Kissinger once told a colleague, “is in itself the most immoral of postures.” Statesmen must act under a cloud of uncertainty and often their decisions reflect a choice among evils.’
‘It isn’t a coincidence that many of the most resentful people are also successful in their careers. They may well have struggled against some unfairness or other and triumphed in the struggle, but still aren’t satisfied, and won’t be satisfied to their dying day.
It isn’t enough that they had sufficient opportunity themselves to make good: they want to reform the world, at the same time—and not altogether incidentally, perhaps—accruing great power to themselves as the panjandrums of social justice.‘
As posted: Theodore Dalrymple at First Things reviews Christopher and Peter Hitchens’ memoirs: ‘The Brothers Grim:”
‘Perhaps the division between the two brothers is essentially this: One believes that man can live by his own individual reason alone; the other believes that something else is necessary and inevitable. Without being religious myself, I side with the latter.’
Spring And All
By the road to the contagious hospital under the surge of the blue mottled clouds driven from the northeast-a cold wind. Beyond, the waste of broad, muddy fields brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen
patches of standing water the scattering of tall trees
All along the road the reddish purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff of bushes and small trees with dead, brown leaves under them leafless vines-
Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches-
They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter. All about them the cold, familiar wind-
Now the grass, tomorrow the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf One by one objects are defined- It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf
But now the stark dignity of entrance-Still, the profound change has come upon them: rooted, they grip down and begin to awaken
Nothing is so beautiful as spring— When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing; The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling. What is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy, Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning, Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy, Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
‘It’s like constantly presenting sweeties and prettily wrapped gifts to a pack of hyenas, in the hope that eventually they’ll come round and start to be nice and friendly. They won’t, because they’re hyenas, and what hyenas want is to eat you.‘
Consider the adolescent and murderous righteousness of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara; their militaristic and guerrilla mindset, but combined with a Stalinist-backed, family-led cult.
It’s always 1948. Constant struggle and ideological loyalty are essential. Murder is commonplace. Mythic and ideological revelation is knowledge enough to have the Kim dynasty ruling in perpetuity. There will be absolutely no individual autonomy.
When you listen to how awful life still is in North Korea (a regime fine with only 10% of the population surviving), it’s enough to make you cry:
The fact is many prominent intellectuals in the West spent a good chunk of the 20th century deciding how much to actually distance themselves from Communist ideology.
I don’t see us at an inflection point of placing Nazi and Communist ideology in the same horrible basket.
In fact, liberal idealism and secular humanism in the United States has embraced radical chic enough to normalize activist, anti-nation and anti-speech thinking. Perhaps out of the postmodern morass comes excessively individualistic, radical and existential doubt. Out of such doubt comes the collectivism, soft and hard authoritarianism beneath the ‘neo-liberal capitalists.’
Those Nazi-hunting anti-fascists are actually kind-of fascistic, you say? Well, we aren’t about to really confront such facts. Most of us, most of the time, will double down on anti-religious, anti-traditional and anti-authoritarian authoritarianism.
Are you convinced?
On that note, Walter Russell Mead suggests we won’t be leaving the Pacific Theater anytime soon:
‘Assessing the nature and depth of America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific is a life and death question for countries wondering whether to accommodate or resist China’s determination to project greater influence over neighboring states.’
I like the term ‘citizen scientist,’ as it is flatters me. It keeps me pursuing goals. I’ll be that guy at the party who knows a little something. Let’s converse. Let’s look each other in the eyes for a moment.
I’m currently collecting rocks in local Seattle parks for an AI identification project.
We each have wells down which we can gaze. We know this. A smile is enough. The birds suddenly whirl-up and are gone. The conversation moves on. Tis better to have loved and lost, and all that.
Life is strange. Love is all?
You have a joy you keep close to your heart. Keep it there.
This one gets me: A man goes up to his attic to grab some things before a tornado arrives. He points the phone out, standing in place. Terrified? Mesmerized?
The monster approaches.
His life is engulfed, briefly, by Nature’s fury. His life must be engulfed, afterwards, in loss and despair.
With exponentially more computing power comes more input, and enough variables to recreate and predict actual tornadic conditions.
Step back from the terror; the place where death comes. Climb inside a supercell and see what might be going on. Supercells are rare. EF5 supercells are very, very rare.
Storm-chasing attracts daredevils. I’ll bet there must be any number of douchebags on the circuit.
It takes courage. Some humility even. More video data and live, human experience can be collected into useful channels.
Better understanding can help save lives.
Sometimes, you take the wrong path, or make the wrong decision. You may not know it at the time, but you come to know it soon enough. An anti-cyclonic vortex bears down, roaring away at 200 mph.
This is it. Fuck. No. Please. Oh God.
No matter how much knowledge and experience you have, one wrong decision can cost you your life:
Keep looking up: Lightning can lead to the edges of our atmosphere, and into space.
What’s the weather like on Mars? Where’s all the water? Does it have conditions which still harbor life?
‘Overall this is a serious and well-written book that presents a great deal of scientific evidence very effectively. Anyone reading it will learn a lot. But it didn’t change my mind on much, least of all the most controversial questions in this area. If anything, in the Bayesian sense it probably nudged me away from geneticist-based arguments, simply because it did not push me any further towards them.’
Via GoodReads: Some commentary about how Murray sees the state of the social science of which he is a part.
‘The thesis of Human Diversity is that advances in genetics and neuroscience are overthrowing an intellectual orthodoxy that has ruled the social sciences for decades. The core of the orthodoxy consists of three dogmas:
– Gender is a social construct.
– Race is a social construct.
– Class is a function of privilege.’
My two cents: A few ideologues, some true-believers, and many, many people self-selecting for already-held beliefs and principles work in the social sciences. Like all individuals, we/they are all subtly affected by the people and ideas with whom we/they are surrounded. Like all groups, there are unifying ideas, norms and boundaries. Because there is a scientific element to this field of knowledge (data, statistical analysis, empirical input and interpretative output) I obviously support the free pursuit of knowledge.
That said, observing how people in the same universities doing similar research have allowed radicals, extremists and ideologues to fester, and become violent, I expect the stewards of these universities to have some moral courage and backbone.
I’m not holding my breath. Good curation and stewardship has been relinquished by many within our universities.
An example of how not to exchange ideas: Individuals are encouraged to simply show up and participate as part of a mob, likely getting a sense of identity, purpose, and accomplishment by righteously shouting down an invited speaker.
Free inquiry is chilled, the passions incited and engaged, and the hatreds organized. This approach clouds the truth and the civilities and methods by which we more reasonably can arrive at truth.
The truth, for the most part, has already been decided in many minds (enough to act in such an ignorant way). The administrator who had injury done to her in trying to exit the event was just getting in the way of the truth, dear reader.
Such thinking has been institutionalized in many settings: Here’s how the Washington Post portrayed the affair, labeling Charles Murray not by the quality of his ideas, nor his reasoning, but by a rather laughably inaccurate representation of events, sympathetic to the mob:
This is how WaPo reports on an out-of-control mob that physically assaults a speaker and a professor? https://t.co/hrGA5MfeHo
As previously posted: Below is an example how similar stewardship of our institutions by those who share in such ideology themselves, or who offer tacit approval of such ideology (tolerating the intolerance through capitulation, or in a kind of enemy-seeking ‘brownstone activism’), has gone on for a generations now.
As FIRE co-founder Alan Charles Kors has said: “You cannot say to people, you’re too weak to live with freedom. Only that group is strong enough to live with freedom.”
But that’s exactly what Adam Falk, the patronizing president of Williams College, has said to the college’s student body. Yesterday, Falk unilaterally canceled a speech by John Derbyshire, who was invited as part of the student-run “Uncomfortable Learning” speaker series.
‘Today I am taking the extraordinary step of canceling a speech by John Derbyshire, who was to have presented his views here on Monday night. The college didn’t invite Derbyshire, but I have made it clear to the students who did that the college will not provide a platform for him.
Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard. The college has a very long history of encouraging the expression of a range of viewpoints and giving voice to widely differing opinions. We have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it.
We’ve found the line. Derbyshire, in my opinion, is on the other side of it. Many of his expressions clearly constitute hate speech, and we will not promote such speech on this campus or in our community.
We respect—and expect—our students’ exploration of ideas, including ones that are very challenging, and we encourage individual choice and decision-making by students. But at times it’s our role as educators and administrators to step in and make decisions that are in the best interest of students and our community. This is one of those times.’
‘There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following. ‘
Of course, what better place than a liberal arts college to talk these matters out?
Read up. Get your reasons and arguments together. Show up at the debate, alone or with friends. Listen to the other fellow. Think. Respond. Think some more. Debate.
Publishing and disseminating the thoughts and ideas of others is not necessarily an endorsement of those thoughts and ideas, but it is absolutely vital in maintaining a free and open society:
Out of principle alone, here’s Derbyshire discussing his general worldview:
About suffering they were never wrong, The old Masters: how well they understood Its human position: how it takes place While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along; How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting For the miraculous birth, there always must be Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating On a pond at the edge of the wood: They never forgot That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
Dear Reader, let’s say the following is mostly true: ‘In lieu of religious belief; the orienting structure which Christianity provides, most people in the West will replace faith with something else.’
Portions of this debate are as old as the Enlightenment, (much older, really) with regard to the natural sciences, born out of what was once natural philosophy.
Depending on what’s true and what is known, an additional question looms: Who ought to be in charge?
As many readers know, I’ve been looking at liberal and secular humanist leadership, finding much rot and confusion (modern conservative movements are hardly models of principled health and organization, Dear Reader).
Whether or not the proposition of the first sentence above can be empirically proven as emergent behavior, rooted in biology, at the level of basic individual consciousness, I believe to be another matter. I’m not expecting the growing fields of neuroscience and evolutionary biology to answer all questions as to deepest human problems.
As to bearing the weight of faith, true-belief and social organization, (how to live, what to do), such fields as evolutionary biology and neuroscience seem woefully inadequate; subject to ad hoc departments of ethics and groupthink (enforcers of the emergent, and often ideologically rooted, norms).
I will say I think neuroscience may be analogous to where internal medicine was right before the x-ray. It’s going to do a lot of us, a lot of good, a lot of the time.
Furthermore, I’m also of the mind that wrestling with one’s own heart, and works of creative genius, is what a good humanities education was supposed to be doing before the field drifted into the postmodern morass.
A lot of good art, poetry and music can elevate our base impulses into appreciation of the beautiful, the good, and what’s true.
I also expect a lot of modern leadership to claim the arts and sciences as credentials, and reasons to trust their leadership, freezing-out political enemies. I’m looking at a lot of the new moralizing busybodies, nitwits and ad-hoc ethicisists with skepticism.
Endless pursuit of (S)elf, the individual isolated and alone, drifting along currents of Romantic–>Modern–>Postmodern conceptualizations, has made for a kind of mystic gnosticism. Modern, feelings-first primitivism is drifting fast into something like a new religion.
Additionally, something I’m calling Neo-Romantic Collectivism, or Romantic Primitivism, generally tends to drive much behavior I see in Seattle (as if you care and as if you were planning a move):
‘If we all give ourselves to collectivist principles by sticking it to the (M)an, everyone will be made equal. The trains and buses will run on time. Gaia will be happy.’
We already know the modern ideologies promise a new telos (end-point) to (M)an’s affairs, politicizing private life into the public sphere, often as a badge of righteous honor.
As Roger Scruton continually pointed out, a basic organizing principle of the ‘conserve first’ mindset, with all its drawbacks, brings more mid and long-term stability: ‘What if our existing institutions are already representations of who/what we are?’
I’m not sure having to pass through Schopenhauer’s looking-glass is necessary, nor on through Nietzsche’s Will-to-Power, but it helps understand where a lot of people are coming from.
Long-story short: There are many people pursuing something like tenets of faith, rule-following punishment, and a commitment to thoughtless conformity during these times.
But we pretty much already knew this to be true, if that opening statement is mostly true.