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Sunday Stories: Anti-political politicians

“I will not allow anybody to destroy the education that allowed me to become who I am.”, said a politician in response to the question whether it was possible for him to agree on reforming an education system reported to increase inequalities. A sentence which he knew to appeal mostly to the unfortunately many with unfortunate experiences with schools. As he knew whom the sentence “I am the living example that you can make it also if you’re born from working class parents.” would appeal to. Sentences hovering like drones above the heads of voters which believe there is only one bigger enemy than politics: statistics. Sentences that will fire their charge with surgical precision on any politician daring to rely on a statistical finding.

Some politicians like to focus on the ever increasing gap between politicians and their electorate. From another politician: “I earn only a modest income so I know what life is like for an average voter.” The anti-political politician is not monopolized by the right. Politics by hysteria replaces politics. Nobody even tries to explain what we know about the facts. If somebody tries she’s set aside as a naive nobody, the real politicians who hate politicians smile wearily and that’s that. I know who stands to gain from this type of politics although I don’t know whether it’s by design or by invisible hand that our politicians get converted into a selectorate of one-lining sons of bitches which glorify and praise science as long as it is not applied in the social sphere.

It matters: if it’s by design we can only fight it. If we fight it we need to use weapons even more powerful than theirs. Which means we will lose. If by invisible hand we can educate and apply some real politics to cancel out the bias and move on.

I’m naive but the question is: how naive are you?

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May 18, 2014 Posted by | media, politics, Sunday Stories | , | Comments Off

Friday Afternoon Confessional: Reading List

I confess I put my life on hold for the last 12 months chasing a ghost. It took me more than a month just to start to remember how life was. Was it worth it? I confess I have no idea. Am I done chasing ghosts? I confess my best answer is: time will tell.

The piles of books which have amassed to the left and right of me do suggest I kept on reading though. I confess I want to boast about that.

To my left, pile n°1: Kripke, Naming & Necessity; Bolaño, Amberes, El Tercer Reich & Estrella Distante; Zweig, Schachnovelle.

Across older piles lying open on pp. 150-151 for reasons I confess I forgot entirely: Gadamar, Elogio de la teoría. Which brings me to the piles to my right featuring more Gadamer, On Education, Poetry And History as well as Wer bin Ich und wer bist Du. The latter sits on top of Fitch, Saul Kripke and Peinado, Futbolistas de izquierdas. Further down in that pile: Gass, Middle C and the almost most recent one: Piketty, Le capital au XXIe siècle.

To my left, pile n° 2: Jaeger, Paideia: los ideales de la cultura griega & Aristoteles; Grundlegung einer Geschichte seiner Entwicklung.

I confess all this name dropping leaves me feeling I really have something to confess about. I am unsure however whether it is arrogance or lack of reading quality/quantity (certainly as far as fiction goes). In order not to have to dwell on that issue I’ll just mention what I’m reading now (& only talk about that one below the fold): Steven Johnson, Everything Bad is Good for You. As you can tell from the Capital letters in the title I’m turning to vulgarized science from time to time (I blame Dawkins for that) but I’m not addicted to it, yet (I might add now I’m at it that I quit smoking if, I confess, without quitting nicotine given I just have put an “e-” before my cigarettes).

I confess it was not my plan to write that many words before I got to this pink book by (the maybe venerable) Steven Johnson and the Flynn effect.

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May 3, 2014 Posted by | bookstores, economics, Friday Afternoon Confessional, shameless self-promotion, teaching | , | Comments Off

Sunday Stories: Paideia (1?)

I had visitors yesterday: an old friend who moved abroad and visited his home country with his kids. His eldest is a year younger than mine is. The discussion came to choosing the right path for their higher education. My son chose politics. His son is about to chose civil engineering. There is no discussion these choices are the right ones for the two respective adolescents. The interesting part of the conversation was my friends’ sons’ question to my son on his choice: “Qué es la salida?” (could have been ‘Cuál’, my Spanish is kind of rusty).

This sums up the modern view of education: you learn to be able to land the right job. But whilst the job may be the right one, is this the right conception? Continue reading

December 29, 2013 Posted by | shameless self-promotion, Sunday Stories | , , , , , , | Comments Off

Tuesday Quought: all that has an end has an end

“Meaningful criteria are not simply those posited by society – or those of our ancestors – applied as law to a given case. Rather, every concrete determination by the individual contributes to socially meaningful norms. The problem is similar to that of correct speech. There too we find undisputed agreement on what is admissible, and we subject it to codification. The teaching of language in schools, for example, make it necessary that the schoolmaster apply these rules. But language continues to live, and it thrives not according to a strict adherence to rules, but by general innovations in spoken usage, and in the last instance from the contributions of every individual.” Hans-Georg Gadamer, in “On Education, Poetry, and History. Applied Hermeneutics, SUNY, 1992, p. 173.

It’s hard writing this and at the same time listening to a live report in Spanish of a Real Madrid game. All indications are I’d do better doing neither. But here I am, thinking about whether things that – like my life, this place – ultimately come to an end still come to an end. They do. Although not in the way most people like their ends – final, clean and clear cut -, they do. Every contribution contributes. To what? How? No clue. A certain amount of voluntarism is indispensable. Not a question of laissez faire the big things but one of laissez aller the small ones.

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September 3, 2013 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , | 2 Comments

Philosophy according to JoB: objective 2

I left it here at stating the first two objectives with the second one being:

‘Understand the basic prior art i.e. relevant philosophy’ means that

  • you are able to pinpoint the basic claim to fame of following thinkers:
  1. I. Kant, H-G. Gadamer
  2. J. Habermas, J. Rawls
  3. D. Davidson, P. Grice
  4. H. Kyburg Jr., G. Gigerenzer
  • you can understand why they are in four categories, and,
  • you can inter-relate the main themes of their respective works.

Assuming you have completed the first bullet, I owe you some explanation on the last two bullets. Here goes: Continue reading

May 28, 2013 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , | 1 Comment

Philosophy according to JoB: objectives

This is an experiment in which I claim no expertise. The previous sentence will be my only disclaimer.

The goal is to join together people to examine the justifications for a belief I have: progress is the nature of language. I hope this is not an original thought because if it would be its examination would have to rely on the unlikely coincidence that the right people would find me and join me in a sustained way despite my strenuous use of language. I further hope that people do join and, if so, that they  join in the spirit of amateurism. Why the latter? Because my belief entails – or so I believe – that any true communication presupposes that amateurs, if sufficiently motivated, can contribute to it (call that “the grounding principle“).

Let me not get ahead of ourselves though: before we can get to the goal we have to cover our preliminaries. In this case, we have to establish a common context (a mental meeting place if you will) where we of course may see things differently but not because we see different things. This is the starting point as individuals can only come together after having established a common context i.e. after having formed a community. I know all this begs the initial question. That shouldn’t be an issue, I spoke of my belief as a belief and we have time to come back to whether it is justified or not (so I ask you to apply another corollary of my belief – one coined by Grice – “the principle of co-operation“).

The following three objectives are set for individuals aspiring to be part of this community:

  1. Continue reading

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Sunday Tunnel: where it gets political

[Continues from here.]

Reading The Tunnel is like excruciatingly slow masturbation; maybe the kind of masturbation you would apply when you’re miserable to the point of thinking ‘well, let’s at least try to masturbate one last time’. First it takes a long – with a long ‘o’ kind of as a long sigh – time to get it stiff. Then, from time to time, it feels like you might actually come so you jerk harder but you don’t come. You start to wonder whether you haven’t started something you can’t finish before something else finishes you.

And then you’re here:

“Ah, Martha, my ex-in-lax, I have my own hole now, your cunt is not the only cave. Even in death, the ceremony said, if need be. Even in death, the Führer’s followers proclaimed, if it came to that. And they knew death would be where he’d take them: that land that needs no promise. He gave them triumph, exultation, purpose, a sort of secular salvation.” (ibid., p. 462)

And doesn’t that sum it up? We educate people to want things beyond mere survival, beyond fucking out of reflex – Continue reading

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Sunday Stories | , , , | 2 Comments

The Sunday Tunnel: Covered and ill

[Continued from here.]

Dysfunctional, disaster, disabled, dyslexic, whether in its Greek or more modern version the sound ‘dis’ is a disturbing omen of what we don’t want. Except in one case: the case of being discovered. Some of us want that despite it being an omen all the same.

“Governali spent the fifties as a part of the chorus, but when that silly book of his – Character Crucified on the Cross of the Historical Chronicle – came out, and received raves from the reactionaries who wanted history turned back into biography, and biography backed into moralized little Aesopian fables of fate, fortune, and foolishness, edifying all git out, uplifting as a bra, rosy as the nipples in it, when the Times interviewed him, and public radio did a report; when his promotion came through without a hitch (we didn’t dare vote against it, revealing the envy we felt, the disappointment with our own vacant and weedy lot); Continue reading

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Sunday Stories | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Sunday Tunnel: 5 minutes can be enough

[Continues from here.]

I had sex this morning. Quite sure I was not the only one to have it. I can tell because of the noises I heard. Distant noises – coming from nearby, you know. Tongue in cheek, all that.

“So I hit upon honesty as the best revenge. I purchased a ladder to put up high principles.” (ibid. p. 361)

Get on with it, is what it means. Get on with it to get it over with. Get over it to get on with it. I like the it-bit. Add ‘t’ and all is fair for a while there is only that. I have just about the time to write crooked sentences and look down on them as if they are the material humanity is made of. I hate straight like I hate being taken for a ride. “It’s sincerely merrily hopeless”, Li said as if enjoying the rhythm of the sentences when somebody would quote him. Otherwise, Li was not a name to enjoy.

“Loss in life: that’s what I mourn for; that’s what we all mourn for, all of us who have been touched by the fascism of the heart. It’s not having held what was in our hands to hold; not having felt the feelings we were promised by our parents, friends, and lovers, not having got the simple goods we were assured we had honestly earned and rightfully had coming.” (ibid. p. 366)

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March 3, 2013 Posted by | Sunday Stories | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Sunday Tunnel: Noe Jor

[Continued from here.]

I spent a week in Gotham. After a couple of days I found myself tuning into subway conversations of the young Gothamites. It sounded vaguely like English and it made me feel like the old bastard I am. It made me feel good; an old bastard I am.

“Why should another’s body be so beautiful its absence is as painful as the presence of your own?” (ibid., p. 297)

That’s it: people who like taking pictures are The Threat. They feel the pain when things get out of their frame. They feel old then. They want to conserve. They put salt and sour in every new wound – and make their hurt the principle focus of a world in which they no longer want to belong. The pictures, nice or not, will go stale, mate, but any draw is better than their loss.

“A book, I wrote, is like a deck of windows: each page is made of mind, and it is that same mind that perceives the world outside, and it is that same mind that stands translucently between perception and reflection, uniting and dividing, double dealing. Continue reading

February 17, 2013 Posted by | Sunday Stories | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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