November 6th, 2024

Andalusian Dewey…

  • el
  • pt
  • Driving the seaminess out of semiotics since 1979

    * * *

    H/T Jeff Ward

    If one wishes to realize the distance which may lie between “facts” and the meaning of facts, let one go to the field of social discussion. Many persons seem to suppose that facts carry their meaning along with themselves on their face. Accumulate enough of them, and their interpretation stares out at you. The development of physical science is thought to confirm the idea. But the power of physical facts to coerce belief does not reside in the bare phenomena. It proceeds from method, from the technique of research and calculation. No one is ever forced by just collection of facts to accept a particular theory of their meaning, so long as one retains intact some other doctrine by which he can marshal them. Only when the facts are allowed free play for the suggestion of new points of view is any significant conversion of conviction as to meaning possible. Take away from physical science its laboratory apparatus and its mathematical technique, and the human imagination might run wild in its theories of interpretation even if we suppose the brute facts to remain the same. (5)

    John Dewey, The Public and Its Problems

    At dinner tonight Beth asked me to explain what it is about postmodernism that I find so troubling. I took her around and around Robin Hood’s barn before centering down on the issues that have troubled me. First, I am concerned that a Gresham’s law of academics may have narrowed research and devalued the currency of American scholarship over the last thirty years. Has the emergence of a claque applauding continental theorists to the exclusion of other inquiry had a negative impact on academic freedom? I sense that this is so, I fear it, but I haven’t the data or the models to substantiate it. Fortunately, in a postmodern context I really don’t need to derive the data. What I really need to do is draw other like-minded people together in an interpretive community and we can howl at the moon together.

    A second and perhaps more meaningful concern (in light of my continuing interest in popular culture and academia’s success at occupying the nerdy corner of pop) relates to my glimmer of understanding that postmodernism is over and what’s next might be very interesting indeed. But for the last five years in my corner of the blogosphere, the emergence of a “New New Criticism” has been hidden and postmodernists have arrogated the discussion without turning toward that interesting question, “What’s next?” So it remains for me to answer it myself.

    October 30th, 2024

    Faithful Interpretation

    Ironic, the blog post I intended to draft (and that will likely appear above this one in the reverse chron order of such things) has been delayed while I print out Tom Matrullo’s reflections on AKMA’s Faithful Interpretation.

    That post, the one upcoming, advocates emulating Henry VIII in stripping the Bishops of their property and power.

    Tom’s post will be tucked in the back of the AKMA book I’m dawdling through, so I can read it when I’m ready to dive back into Faithful Interpretation.

    October 28th, 2024

    Marshall Massey

    I have a three month old check on my desktop made out to the Omaha Friends meeting that belongs to Marshall Massey. The check was written to support Friend Massey’s walk from Omaha to the Baltimore Yearly Meeting where he was a keynote speaker this summer. There was, to my mind, an underlayment of inducement associated with the check, and I have had a hard time writing the cover letter and mailing it off. We sense that Marshall Massey has something to teach us, and that his presence in Wisconsin would help us gather like-minded Friends to address environmental concerns. But after speaking with him this summer it wasn’t clear whether or not he would want to use his time this way, and it was even more clear to me that sending a check hard on the heels of our conversation could be misinterpreted.

    A week ago, he wrote the last posting in a journal that he began in April that documented his leading and his journey. The time has come to give up the money.

    Tomorrow, in place of the regularly scheduled First Day worship at Madison Meeting, we are gathering for an extended worship sharing around the draft “Northern Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice” chapter titled “Concern for the Earth.” Any Friend Jonesing for an hour of Sunday worship can come for the regularly scheduled 9am worship, but the 11am worship, the more heavily attended, will begin at 10:30 and end at 1:00 and address our concern for the planet. This is a big deal, and the rescheduling actually might throw the planet out of orbit, so hold us in the light, please.

    As part of my witness tonight or tomorrow, I’ll write something simple for a cover letter and mail the check off to Marshall Massey’s meeting, thus hopefully quieting the voice within that has begun to nag me into action.

    October 22nd, 2024

    How do you like them apples?

    I held onto AKMA’s “Faithful Interpretation…” for a week or so. It was tough reading. I bristled and groaned. I grumbled and moaned. Dr. Weinberger suggested I start with AKMA’s 1995 volume, “What is Postmodern Biblical Criticism?” I ordered that book too.

    Saturday we had twenty adults and six children here for a Quakerly retreat, a lengthy period (two and a half hours seated in silence) of silent worship, a wonderful lunch, and an afternoon of “worship sharing” — a few more hours with each of us reflecting on a couple of queries regarding faith, religion, and community.

    I had an interesting exchange with a Friend from Dubuque. It was complicated and I can’t do it justice here, but my friend suggested that knowledge and common understanding are not absolutes, that the word a-p-p-l-e is not an “apple” and that it doesn’t mean “apple” the same way biting into a crisp and juicy McIntosh does, and in fact that each of us experiences that in a subtly different way. I thought he would enjoy AKMA’s book.

    Toward the end of the day most of us went out into the drizzly gray afternoon and walked the labyrinth. Molly played football with the kids. Then we all came back together in the living room, centered again into silence, thanked each other for a wonderful day and went each our own ways.

    So, I gave away my copy of “Faithful Interpretation…” to the Dubuque Meeting, and after our friends had departed I went to the mailbox to collect Saturday’s mail. There was “What is Postmodern Biblical Criticism?”

    October 17th, 2024


    clip-clop clip-clop clip-clop BLAM BLAM BLAM-DE-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM clip-clop clip-clop clip-clop
    – Amish drive-by

    This post is not about the grim and twisted irony of the violence of a school shooting in Amish country. Rather, I want to draw attention to the unspoken horror of the misogyny, the hate crime against the female gender that it represents. Jessica at Feministing wrote about this when it happened. Imagine being a girl, a child immersed in the news that people like you were so devalued that they could be singled out and shot, their deaths made the subject of national mass media attention, their powerlessness in the vile face of male hatred made obvious, yet the nature of the crime not remarked upon.

    Bob Herbert opined yesterday in the NYT that the Pennsylvania Amish school house shootings were a gender crime of misogynistic violence and not mere inexplicable psycho-trash random acts. Too bad the piece is locked behind a paid subscription firewall. I’m glad I read it in dead trees syndication today, and also glad to see it discussed by Page Rockwell at Broadsheet (free for the viewing of a commercial).

    Herbert suggests that most media outlets glossed over the victims’ gender because we’ve all become desensitized to violence against women and girls: “[No outcry] occurred,” he wrote, “because these were just girls, and we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less to be expected. Stories about the rape, murder and mutilation of women and girls are staples of the news, as familiar to us as weather forecasts. The startling aspect of the Pennsylvania attack was that this terrible thing happened at a school in Amish country, not that it happened to girls.”

    It’s time to start naming these crimes against females, pointing them out for the hate crimes they are. The prurience implicit in making national a story about this kind of deviant behavior stokes the fires, emboldens those ill enough to be aroused by the story. Echidne wrote, Yesterday’s massacre of little girls was not because they were Amish. It was because they were girls. And only a few days earlier another murderer selected smaller teenaged girls for his violence in another school. Yet this is something the radio news last night didn’t mention when discussing “school violence”.

    Misogyny is everywhere. It’s in the burka. It’s in the genital mutilation of so-called “female circumcision.” It’s in the Chinese infanticide of baby girls. It’s practically a human condition. Yet once slavery was a human condition too, and now, except for a few corporate monsters, some backwards nations, and the perversion of sexual slavery it has largely been wiped out. Can we make progress against misogyny too?

    October 7th, 2024

    best viewed in baskerville 10

    when I read this, with little liza jane playing in the background, my first inclination was to cop some Klimt and post it… Danae probably, that face, the curves, beautiful ripe young womanhood with a shower of gold coins. Klimt totally tops Titian in the Danae dept.

    I remember the good old days, when I was Zeus…

    September 28th, 2024


    Here’s a hypothesis based on two data points. I left it as a comment at Loose Poodle and I re-present it here:

    During drive time I had an insight that I’d like to share. I think those of us who don’t believe in god have a higher likelihood of believing in conspiracy theories. It would be interesting to rake together the data around this theory, to prove it or disprove it. I know I am quite likely to identify connections here in this life, and I think it might have something to do with not having that metaphysical stuff tying things together in a different way.

    The data:

    1. In one brief conversation a brilliant friend revealed both that he is “born again,” which is to say he experienced a life changing conversion experience; and, that he doesn’t have much time for conspiracy theories.
    2. I have never had a conversion experience nor do I expect to have one; and, my world view is framed by a sensitivity to the dynamics of power relationships in society and how those relationships support a structure of social classes.

    My friend is carefree, neither seeing nor crediting “the doomsday stuff,” as tristero calls it.

    …the very thought that the US government is seriously broken - that the Executive is beyond the control of anyone and everyone in the world - is such a truly awesome and terrifying thought that it can never be publicly acknowledged. If ever it is, if the American crisis gets outed and Congress and the Supremes openly assert that the Executive has run completely amok and is beyond control, the world consequences are staggering. It is the stuff of doomsday novels.

    Juke Moran says, “Moral centers, in a Velikovskian geometric, have Onanist characteristics.” I wouldn’t know about that of course, because my nose is stuck so deep in my own navel that I’m suffocating. But I like my little social science thought experiment:

    Answer these two questions, and please don’t mess with me, just tell the truth…

    1. Do you believe in god and how would you qualify that belief?
    2. Do you see conspiracies where the media and others around you see none, and give an example please?

    September 22nd, 2024

    Some attention is probably better than no attention…

    I’ve been mulling the almost infra dig treatment that One Web Day received. Oh, there were a gaggle of Berkmanites, past and present, who touted it and seemed genuinely jolly about the prospect. David Isenberg rolled out a nice party in Vienna! But in general it didn’t seem to get the broad positive attention that you would expect a purely altruistic effort to receive. It’s been rolling toward us for a year or more, progressing merrily like a marble on a track. Why didn’t more people know about it? Why wasn’t there a broad celebration cutting across all socio-economic classes, all ages, breaking down gender barriers, banishing ethnic distinctions, just a Mardi Gras of whoop-tee-do with festive netizens around the globe all flushed with endorphins, smiling out of their eyes and open to a wealth of new webular experiences?

    Naturally I blame myself.

    What did I do besides slap a dorky sticker on my laptop and sort of nibble around the edges of the occasion? Why didn’t I get out there and promote it like a cure for cancer? I don’t know. I’m sorry. Maybe I was too tied up with my PhoneCon 2.0 efforts. I’ll try to do better next year.

    September 22nd, 2024

    Natural Selection

    Irony or conspiracy? How likely is it that an organic food company named Natural Selection would deliver e coli 0157:H to the dining tables of millions of Americans at precisely the same time that the Pope was defaming muslims worldwide? Not likely. No, these seemingly unrelated events are obviously part of a vast global christian conspiracy digging in to protect what remains of their tattered empire in the face of challenges from science, competing superstitions, and health food nuts.

    The Armies of God are on the march and we had better watch out!

    Enter Richard Dawkins. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science has brought online a web site aimed squarely at encountering religious superstition just at this critical moment when God’s rottweiler is barking loudest and the domestic religious fundies are spreading cow poop in our spinach.

    Dawkins’ latest book, The God Delusion, is just out. The book is a profoundly intolerant look at god, a book that treats theocentric superstitions the same, be they baptist, catholic, or shiite. If I was him I’d duck and cover before the Papal scourging and the fatwas start flying.

    The God Delusion may be one ray of light shining into the xtian darkness that has fallen on America. I’m looking forward to reading it.

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