We (all chances are this will turn out to be a most appropriate royal ‘we’) will start digging my tunnel, chipping it away quote by quote from The Tunnel by William H. Gass (page numbers referring to the Dalkey Archive Press edition of 1999 reprinted 2007). The post will look a lot like this or like that (I have been exercising).
The Tunnel is a beast of a book. If it were a Miss Universe contestant it would have to hope inner beauty was key to winning the contest. This is an awkward metaphor since The Tunnel is about everything but winning a contest, and: every sentence in it is a thing of beauty. The thing is that it is one of those books that appear not to want to have readers. What better tribute then to write an interminable succession of idiosyncratic posts mirroring (in a muddy puddle type of way) this beast of a book (sawing a sequoia solo with a hand saw).
What is certain though is that whereas my posts may better be characterized as idiotic, this book is the book of how human stupidity binds with stupid inhumanity to create a destructive force way beyond that of the Death Star.
Yes, it is also about fascism.
Below the fold are the policies and procedures applying to this exercise (on the off chance of there being interest to make contributions).
The title is missing two The’s and the two lower capital el’s can be easily mistaken for a Roman II. It is therefore deficient in almost every respect. Except in this respect: a failure of respect is the only common element between the latecomer league and the Party of disappointed People. Enough play on words, let’s travel back to the year 1985, to a school close to – but not in – Germany.
We were with five. We gathered at the back of the class, each class; last row, left corner (from our point of view). Steve, Tim, Thomas, Stijn and I: always somewhat peripheral, close to the edge. Nobody pushed me so I stayed in. Who would have told I would be the one to start an internet book event on W. Gass’ The Tunnel on the sixth day of the year 2013? All of us would, if Read more »
We get excited. Things turn hectic. It doesn’t matter whether we join the parade or not. The parade doesn’t need us buying it because it buys us. When 10 out of a 100 are hooked on the hoodlums of hoodoo, us other 90 are drawn in. Not the prettiest of pictures: people with a tic to say “Heck!” cite out of the works of those whose actions do speak louder than words. “Heck!”, they say, their fists pounding on our tables, “Heck!”, their spit flying from their mouths onto their computer screens in ways that make the shit hit us in the face from our computer screens, “Heck yeah!”, they say, “Let them get an education!”
And we, what do we do? We have an education. Too much of an education to say “Heck!” all of the time. If we join the fray, it will just spin harder and draw in more people saying “Heck!” to our “Hey hold on!” When we stay aloof we are arrogant and it will still draw us in. There is no defense because every defense is an offense.
So the only thing we have are stolen moments.
This just to inform you that in the midst of organized immorality and innovative organicity I am still here. I have found the dot com named scrabblefinder and scrabblefinder dot com found me the Hoodoo to go with my Hoodlums.
Further this to inform you of my intention to finish the year with starting with new year’s resolutions. The first of which will be a book club on yet another unreadable book: The Tunnel by William H. Gass.
I believe that reading this unreadable book will provide me the background for successfully reading the most unreadable book of unreadable books (the reader may guess its title and author).
I should live long enough to complete the plan of reading that book before I decide my time here has been served (at which time my children will have their children, or so I hope).
But well before starting to finish that plan (and myself), I need to finish what I announce here and what got a prologue there (the word ‘what’ being abused a lot by Germans).
“The best the logician can do is to recommend gathering more data.”
Henry E. Kyburg Jr. & Choh Man Teng, p. 200, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
A small piece on a forgotten (or, let’s be optimistic: not yet discovered) pearl of this human endeavor called ‘thinking’. I learned Mr. Kyburg died a couple of years ago. Given that is a fact, one can only hope that he turns out to be an instance of the reference class of great thinkers that have ideas requiring the environment of thought of a generation coming well after their own generation. Kyburg is one of three B-list philosophers on which I based my Cognitive Science dissertation: “Do Humans Think?’.
But let’s cut to the chase: Read more »
So, yeah, I have promised to reciprocate sharing my writing projects where I need help.
In fact, one of my key problems is that I promise too much (mostly to myself, that’s another probably related problem I have). Consequently I generate vast amounts of text (just check this site or check the thousands of words produced on this site) which I never bother to review because I’m always more interested in clearing the next promise. One of the reasons is, I guess, that typically there are no reviewers. It’s like knowing you stay at home and knowing nobody come to ring your doorbell; you don’t bother.
So I’m sorry I don’t have more than this at this point in time (I promise to be more content rich another time) but the ask is this: how can I force myself to do the polite thing and dress up when I am going out with some writing?
It was 1 AM. A typical hour to wake up and take a leak, for a man my age. It was one flight of stairs down to get to the toilet. One flight more to the downstairs where we kept our bicycles. I peaked down and saw his bicycle standing there with those of the others. Then I remembered his tire was flat and that he went out on foot. So I went downstairs to check for another sign of him having come back.
His shoes were there, at the bottom of the stairs. I stared at them, the tips pointing to each other. So very much my son. Their laces still done. I felt more at ease, ready for my leak. It only took half a flight of stairs to have lost the confidence I had just gained. The shoes being there didn’t mean he was there. Actually it could just as well mean he wasn’t there but he just wanted me to feel comfortable. So very much my son.
The Antwerp city council election has been won by the nationalist right. I did not predict it that way in yet another of my lousy-because-too-lazy-to-review contributions to this place. Contrary to the spirit of my post, the winner won precisely because he was the loudest and maintained that offensive loudness for the longest period of time. The loser lost because he (yes, surprise surprise, two he’s) chose to be in the spirit of my optimism. He started late and quietly tried to explain why he thought his points were the points that needed to be carried.
After the (center-)left candidate lost he cried a little. Everybody agrees that if he had done so before the elections every chance was that he would have won. The winners just shouted that he should quit whining. I guess with this they wanted to complete their take down of the multicultural left wing profitariat.
After the right wing candidate won he proclaimed from the podium that “the city belonged to everybody but at this point in time it belonged mainly to US.” After that he marched to city hall with his followers, entered it, got up on the balcony, joined both hands and shook them a couple of times over his left shoulder and his right shoulder.
There was some mumbling about all this but all in all it was passed over in silence. After all, the victory was theirs and the way it was won was an aggressive way. When an animal wins in an aggressive way, no other animal will be so stupid as to challenge the winner right after the fight, right?
So no the only options is to let them take down themselves. I can only hope there won’t be binders full of stories like this in the future.
Looking back on the end of that year named 2012, we can say that it delivered poorly in terms of ending the world but was kind of a good start for the world finally putting an end to the 20th century. At the time Obama’s re-election was interpreted as having taken place despite his failure to bring about any excitement in the electorate. With hindsight, I put it to you that his victory can, in fact, only be attributed to him earning his nickname of Mr. Presessor, a nickname coined in the week after this debate as internet research shows.
We have grown used now to the respect for academics and their nuanced views in the public debate but way back then, as the post-debate polls and discussions conclusively show, nuance was commonly held to be the liability when running for any public office. Nevertheless, other elections and events during 2012 provide good evidence for my hypothesis that it was in that year that the shift to the more rational politics we know consider the norm started. Hence that said shift began much earlier than we have hitherto believed under the pressure of the persisting loudness and hysteria in public debate during the rest of that decade.
I will focus on three European events: the Dutch general elections of September 2011, the Belgian municipal elections of October 2012 and the European ‘Treaty of Christmas’ (ironically signed at the exact date of 21/12/2012).
“(..) insight can come from outside the mind.”
G. Gigerenzer, Adaptive Thinking, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. vii (a.o.).
There’s something deeply unnerving about scientists, especially neuroscientists: it is the idea that whatever there is can be located somewhere. Localized so as to make it a candidate for treatment of some sort. In this sense, neuroscience took over the world because the world is filled with people who believe things can be pinpointed and then addressed. Forget about the butterfly effect, the butterfly is in our current world view pinned down where it can be examined.
Nothing can be farther removed from the ecological point of view (this includes most people who see themselves as the ‘advocates of ecological preservation’). It may well be that this world view of pinning down, setting apart and solving is the root cause of us not applying evident solutions to the issues we have, in a broad sense, with our environment. Read more »