Dec 30, 2002

Tough Journalism
Some real muckraking gets the trash on Portland's officials in an attempt to demonstrate the importance of preserving privacy.
The Art of a Film's Title Sequence
If there were an award for the most artistic title sequence in a movie--and there ought to be, that being where a film makes its first impression--I'd be pulling for the opening of Catch Me if You Can.

It's a perfect little sequence that is simple yet continues to suprise as it goes on. It captures the feel of the movie, preparing us for the film, with an elegant set of bold strokes and colors. The action combines with the list of names quite artistically. This bit of an intro meets all the highest ends of the opening title.

Other favorites (from the past) include the highly artistic title intro to Monster's Inc., which was a fabulous movie all around, and the idea tat's so-creative-you-have-to-wonder-why-you-haven't-seen-it-before that opens Mel Gibson's Conspiracy Theory
Crazy-Orthodox Blogging
A blog roast
So another friend of mine has fallen to the blogging vice, though as a soon-to-be-priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church, he probably doesn't think of it that way. I ought to warn all, however, that he's a little crazy and that crazy-Orthodoxness is coming out in his early blogs.

Just kidding Gug. Sort of. Thought I was thinking something more like "There is a mumble..." for the title.

Cook (Gug in the original Swiss family name.) is also a Collegian editor. At school this is appropriately met with an ”Ohhhhhhhh”. Then they nod politely and don’t make eye contact. In a word, crazy.

My links will one day be in order (sorry, we're working on all that) and he'll go up there with the craziest of them.

Dec 28, 2002

Writing on My Hand
Sitting in a theater, waiting for the show to start, my mouth tastes slightly of pipe tobacco and my mind pounds, attempting to circumference the world.

I grapple with ideas most easily, I think, by talking. It's really the most instantaneous way to measure them. Talking will tell you if it sounds right. I hear the words, adjust them, try them again. Talking—this sort of spontaneous consideration of everything that arises—will show how something sits with the rest of the world. You can't do these things in your own head. It just doesn't seem to work that way.

Working over a concept of the way narratives typically attempt the epic and miss the details, I want someone to talk to but, being alone, write notes on my hand instead. It looks a little creepy, notes about epic details crawling over my hand.

The problem with talking is the words get lost. To really accumulate, to build on the last thing you talked about, you need the cohesion of talking to a single person. This is hard to do when life is scattered between two states and everybody's transient, mostly me but everybody else too. It’d be nice if there were one person to talk to and we’d have the cohesion of the conversation between us.

But that’s not happening, which means I discard cohesion and run half a dozen conversations simultaneously. In my head. Some of this is good because these half a dozen different friends have different bodies of knowledge to contribute. It'd be better if it were all one conversation—maybe with my friends all each-others friends, sitting around talking. As it is I typically bring bits of one conversation to another, either giving a lengthy introduction or just kidnapping the last conversation to perform in this one. I mentally collect all the conversations together, trying to make them dance in my one-ring circus.

All of the discourses are accumulating, growing my understanding of the world while I try to synthesize them into a single world. And I try to keep from becoming six different people. That may be the point of all the attempts at bringing it together, Sartre’s idea of self being manifest against others and the unity of self needs the consuming one-to-one relationship to manifest in wholeness. Which is just to say that I am really trying for cohesion here.

Which means I sometimes write on my hand. This, as I add another line to my palm about the artistry of the Modernists in Europe, is the overflow of my mind attempting to crest in a single dance.

The blog is like that. It’s like writing on my hand.
An old fish limping on a gangrene foot.

Dec 27, 2002

Concluding LOTR
...and in the last few pages we see the evil hobbit is known to be evil by his dislike of beer and right is restored to the shire with a bontiful harvest of tobacco.

There are trees too, of course, but the real evidence of the good life is in the weed.

Dec 25, 2002

Mary, Bearer of God and Christ
Considering the Mark of Quotation
In the business of the newspaper one develops linguistic biases. At school I am known for my anti “that” and “which” rhetoric, and my adoration of “the,” “and” and “said,” the greatest English words. I have not been so aware of our punctuation prejudices. Reading The Elements of Typographic Style, I was surprised by a section on the quotation marks. Elements of Typographic SyleAuthor Robert Bringhurst is not a large supporter of the quotation mark, thinking they tend to be ugly and distract from the text. Reporters, I note, depend heavily upon the quotation, an invention of the 16th century becoming quite popular in the Baroque and Romantic periods of typography. For the art of newspaper writing, we need the quotation, the period and the comma.

Others are important, certainly, but we rarely are in need of the colon, the semi colon, the dash or the parenthesis. Brackets and slashes are, essentially, verboten, as are exclamation points. Interestingly, those points are called screamers by typographers. Some of these I like—the dashes being eminently handy for parenthetical clauses—but they are of little use in the stripped-down work of the newspaper. What we need are the practical work and solid labor given daily by the period, the comma, and the quotation marks.

Bringhurst had an interesting bit about the history and the variety of the quotation. Granting the importance of the things, I’ve known them only in an American way. The English have a similar system, but use a single mark to open and close a quotation, using double marks for material quoted within quotes. (This being the reverse of the American method.) Looking across the continent we see the long opening dash (—A very good idea, he said.), a normal method around Europe. In French and Italian the colorfully named duck foot quotations are used, either singly or doubly, (<> he said.). Germans sometimes face the duck foot quotations, also called guillemets, the other way. More commonly, the Germans use base line double commas to open a sentence and American-style quotations to close (,,After robbing the bank, we need to buy a beer,” he said.). In the Renaissance differing typefaces were used to distinguish quoted material from text, typically italics (Mr. Smith is a cheap suit, he said.).

If local custom were not an issue, I believe I’d opt for the French/Italian system—I like the way the guillemets look on the page.

For a review of the book, see Typebooks excellent review.

Dec 24, 2002

Orthodox Schismaticism
A group of Orthodox monks unfurl a banner reading "Orthodoxy or Death," turning the 1,000-year-old Mt. Athos monastery into an Alamo for the ultra-Orthodox opposed to ecumenical moves of the partiarch.

What can we say? These monks aren't the only Orthodox schismatics and it's a bloddy small minority that's worried Eastern Orthodox might, gasp, talk to the rest of the Chrsitian world.

A rampant sign of liberalism, to be sure.
Continental Philosophy Final Exam
This was a take-home for Dr. Jim Stephens. Here are the four most interesting sections, with a look at Phenomenology.

Facing the Collapse of Rationalism
The crisis, called modernity, was the self-collapsing of rationalism upon itself. It was the moving through rationalism to find its insufficiency in dealing with the world. The modern world, progressing with the self-meta narrative of H. G. Well’s history of man as a story of man’s incredible upward progress, came to the pinnacle of the early 20th century. The rationalism of man’s using his mind to circumscribe everything, of using the mind and the scientific method to approach the world, climbed to the 20th century, what should have been the greatest of all ages. The manifestation of this age, though, was not the glowing of human existence is the best of all possible worlds, a world created by the huge effort of man’s use of his mind. Man conquered all. He faced the world as its master.

And as they watched the world began to crumble, as it fell apart. A generation grew sick within their soul , recognizing the world that had contained the faith of men was falling apart under it’s own weight. They watched the creature they had produced reach outward until it breaks away from the master and, like Yeats’ falcon and falconer, broke beyond its master. The world fell apart and there was no solidity. The progress of men was towards a wasteland. It was a vision of an apocalyptic vision of a “blood-dimmed tide.” Those 20 centuries leading to this modern pinnacle were centuries of “stony sleep” leading to the hour of a rough beast. They were the rocking of a vexed cradle to hide from of us the nature of our world, our reason and ourselves. This was historically manifested in WWI, with an age being fulfilled in the hopelessness of the death of the best minds of a generation stretched out in the bloody shit of the trenches of France.

The Beginning of Phenomenology
Edmund Husserl’s project is a project of developing a rigorous science that really deals with humans as humans. In this it is intended to be an answer to the crisis and distinguish itself from of prior philosophical positions. It will put humans in the center again, not reducing them to biology or mathematics. It will deal with the world as a human world, it would deal with the spiritual without a complete fragmentation, without the separation of man from those spiritual things that made him man. This science, this first really human science, would be different from the knowledge of the enlightenment and rationalistic knowledge by its avoidance of what Heidegger called “enframing,” the misconstruing and misinterpreting of the unconcealed. This is the danger of taking causality, biology, math, or any science or technology and using it to explain things it cannot really explain. It is this way that we get Pascal’s reference to the philosopher’s God as opposed to the God of any faith, a distortion or an obscuring of something by the reference to it. This science/philosophy, this really rigorous human knowledge, will meet man as man and not man as causality, math, biology, or any other enframing, reducing him or exalting his explanation. Man is not his explanation. We want to know the man and not the gesture at man, not the explanation of him. This would be the first real look at man, and in that be distinct from prior philosophies, and answering the crisis of the self-collapse of rationalism.

Enframing: The Rejection of Scientism in the Development of Phenomenology.
Heidegger finds Husserl’s project mistaken because of its approach to world as an enframing science and not as a new way of thinking. Husserl breaks neither from the western philosophical tradition nor from the problems of scientism and the over-extension of rationalism that lead to the crisis. Husserl’s project is still an attempt at a rigorous science, an attempt at a thorough explanation of man, meeting some sort of scientific standards that bring us to understand man as the sum of his quantitation. This project of phenomenology, before Merleay-Ponty and Heidegger rescue it, is a project that sees the problems of the decentering of man, that sees the problem of the enframing that claims man is, essentially, the explanation of man, yet seeks to respond with a mostly similar method. Husserl’s rigorous science is no less guilty, or would be when thoroughly developed, of an enframing that denied the man of being man as man. Husserl turns to science and that science, that rigorous and falsifiable science displaces the man, obscuring him and his unrevealed nature. Husserl is still seeking an objectivity that speaks of Descartes or Kant, placing him firmly in the tradition despite all his radical aspirations.

Heidegger’s phenomenology is a phenomenology dealing with epistemology as a mode of thinking, not as a new science. Heidegger’s phenomenology speaks of worlding of the world, of beings “brought into unconcealment.” As he says, “Color shines and wants only to shine. When we analyze it in rational terms by measuring its wavelengths, it is gone. It shows itself only when it remains undisclosed and unexplained. Earth thus shatters every attempt to penetrate it.” Heidegger thus takes intentionality far enough as to destroy hoped-for science of phenomenology. Things exist as themselves, not as the scientific way we measure them. A color is its shining, and not the measure of its wavelengths. A stone is a stone in its burden, in its rest, but not in its weight. Heidegger seeks a new way of thinking that will escape enframing. Husserl’s project has none of this.

Embodiment in the thought of Merleau-Ponty and St. Irenaeus
Looking at Merleau-Ponty’s thesis of embodiment as central to the nature of lived experience, we find striking similarities with the early church fathers, particularly the anti-Gnostic writers such as Irenaeus. That the two talk of embodiment at all is surprising when it is considered that the body is ignored in all serious academic considerations for the bulk of the western tradition, with the west’s strong propensity towards dualism. From the time the church’s early teachings on embodiment fade in the philosophical world to the time of the phenomenological projects, the body is ignored.

In the teachings of the church, specifically the work of St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, we find embodiment takes a vital role. Fighting the early heresy of the Gnostics, an extreme from of dualism, Irenaeus presents the embodiment of man as integral to who he is. Speaking of the salvation of man, Irenaeus opposes dualism with orthodox soteriology: “For the Gnostic view of salvation does not include the flesh; but if the flesh is not saved, nothing of man is saved.” There is no man separated from the embodied man. This theo-phenomenology is the founding of the two great dogmas of the Christian church, the incarnation and the resurrection. This embodiment is shown in the patristic church by their honor of the martyrs, the emphasis on the physical suffering of Christ, the insistance on the embodiment of Christ, and the necessity of physical acts of liturgy as a primary way of knowing the truth of the faith. The Gnostic proposed soteriological dualism, Christological dualism, and metaphysical dualism. Irenaeus opposed them on all of these, calling them blasphemous and claiming the church never held such things. Irenaeus opposed them stridently, avidly supporting this theo-phenomenology as vital.

This position of Irenaeus,’ the all surrounding importance of embodiment, is a position Merleau-Ponty speaks of when he says, “we are through and through compounded of relationships with the world.” Merleau-Ponty speaks to the fundamental and primordial position of embodiment when he posits that our very consciousness (profoundly contradicting Descartes’ a priori ego) comes from our embodiment in world.

We find meaning, Merlau-Ponty tells us in a statement that backs and supports Irenaeus’ attack on dualism, in our embodiment in the world. Dualism, they agree, is an abstraction that distorts or destroys meaning while truth and epistemological knowing come from an in-the-world embodiment.

1 Herman Hesse. Steppenwolf. New York: Henry Holt, 1963. Pgs 21, 22.
ii William Butler Yeats. The Second Coming. The Mentor Book of Major British Poets. New York: Penguin, 1963. Pg. 426.
iii Ibid.
iv Ibid.
v Ibid.
vi Husserl, Vienna Lecture 9.
vii “I am certain that the European crisis has its roots in a misguided rationalism.” Husserl, 7.
viii Martin Heidegger. Basic Writings. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1993. Pg. 331.
ix Ibid. See specifically the mention of causality distorting God in its enframing.
x This strikes a profoundly similar note as that of Derrida on speaking of God.
xi The entire Phenomenology movement, notably Merlau-Ponty and Levinas in addition to Heidegger, reject the Husserlian version of the project.
xii Class notes, Sept. 10, 17.
xiii This quanatation may be any sort of science, especially including biology, physics, math, or economics. This, however, is no short list. Heidegger particularly brings out philosophy for chastisement on these grounds.
xiv Husserl is 40 percent Descartes and 40 percent Kant. Class notes from Sept. 10, 17.
xv Heidegger 181.
xvi Ibid. 172.
xvii Against Heresies.
xviii Gerard Vallee. A Study in Anti-Gnostic Polemics: Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier, 1981. Pg. 18.
xix Ibid. 27.
xx Ibid. 21, 22.
xxi Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenology of Percepion. London: Routledge: 1958. Pg. xxii.
An image large enough
"To make a start,
out of particulars
and make them general, rolling
up the sum, by defective means—
Sniffing the trees,
Just another dog
among a lot of dogs. What
else is there? And to do?
The rest have run out—
after the rabbits.
Only the lame stand—on
three legs. Scratch front and back.
Deceive and eat. Dig
a must bone

"For the beginning is assuredly
the end—since we know nothing, pure
and simple, beyond
our own complexities."

"They think, and to they think, they believe, is to be profound. A curious idea, if what they think is profitable to their thinking they are rewarded—as thinkers.

"But who, if he chose, could not touch the bottom of thought? The poet does not, however, permit himself to go beyond the thought to be discovered in the context of that with which he is dealing; no ideas but in things. The poet thinks with his poem, in that lies his thought, and that in itself is the profundity.” William Carlos Williams, Paterson.
Xmas, or If English was good enough for Jesus...
I used to think Xmas was an abreviation designed to remove Christ from the word, now I am ashamed of my ignorance. With a little Greek knowledge (little meaning very little) and some time in an Anglican Church, I realize that Xp is a common Greek abreviation for Christ (X being chi, which makes the English ch sound. P is rho, which has the r sound) and not just a random crossing out of a name.
Before Eve
As my eccentric and sometimes silly family says:

Merry Christmas Adam!

But what else are you going to call the day before the day before Christmas?

Dec 21, 2002

Does Lucas cry at night when he thinks of Peter Jackson?

Dec 20, 2002

As if I were a fanatic
I went to see the Lord of the Rings at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, and was happy to see it again at 8:15 p.m. that same day.

The first viewing was in Michigan, the second in Washington, with a full day of flying and waiting and airports and driving in between.

I loved Gollum, especially.
“You comin’?” the coffee-riven voice said out of the bus.

I stuttered for a moment. In that second, I saw the door open again behind the boy, and the yellow-and-white polka dot dress reached out and hugged the boy, who fell into his mother’s arms. “Yeah, I’m coming,” I said.

The Hat has a particularly nice piece, a short story heavy with description and light on little narrative drive, by Youssef Sleiman.
The Replacements

Personally, I didn’t take an immediate liking to any of these new designs of proposed (and, I guess, considered) World Trade Center replacements.

Some of them are disgusting, but mostly I just don’t know. I have only a cursory knowledge of architecture, and but a layman’s feel for would be inspiring and timeless.
The age to height ratio isn't as good as it seems, when you're 5-years-old.

Dec 18, 2002

I'm messing with the colors and layout here, so pardon me if things look a little strange for a few days.
The Day After Today
I'll be with my family for Christmas...

Dec 16, 2002

Apostolic Succession Paper
My paper on apostolic succession is now up. With no response from the prof and having not yet gone back to it, I really have no idea how tight my arguments are and how well it all works together.

Dec 12, 2002

To be a reporter
Around 50 angry readers come into the office. They were invited to a editorial meeting to discuss coverage of local police, but decided to demonstrate inside the newsroom instead. The guard is overwhelmed. A few staffers are roughed up. One demonstrator pulls out a bull-horn and begins to lead chants from atop the editor's desk.

And the news photographer takes a few pictures.

There's the heart of being in it for the story. That's real journalistic spirit.

Dec 11, 2002

When it Works
It's nice when things come together, when the text comes out to meet you and prove your points. It's sweet when a position that might have required some pulling into shape, when it might have needed a particularly shakey leap, instead works out easily and looks to be the simplist of positions.

When it Doesn't Work
It's terrible when things slow, when writing grinds and your papers sticks out a giant red tongue. The demons come out of the corners of the dark room and laugh at you, pointing out your deadline and the clock and the number of arguments you aren't covering. They prod your confidence until it goes limp.

I'm using Timothy, Titus, Judas and Ireneaus to prove Apostolic Succession is a NT/early church instituition structured to preserve the faith. It's due in the morning and will be posted as was the last paper for NT Ethics.

Dec 10, 2002

I'm now crawling into my hole to write a seven page paper (due in the morning) on Apostolic Succession. After that I have to finish a rewrite of an art paper and then turn out the weekly Collegian . . .
Blue Collar Reporter
The natural sympathy that most journalists feel for the underdog and for the downtrodden prevents the media from ignoring the poor. The fascination that the American public has with the rich and famous prevents the media from ignoring the upper strata of society. But newspapers seldom write about the middle class, the working class -- white- or blue-collar.

David Shaw at the L.A. Times looks at reporters missing the middle class, the working class. This is especially true, it seems of the cultural conservatism in most Americans have, manifesting itself in their spiritual focus and their economics.

This piece does have the strange move of putting the good news of descent paychecks put in a bad light, though.
Bigfoot: An all in one crime deterent and tourist attraction.

Dec 9, 2002

Happy Dance
A freshman proposes over lunch that we return, one day, to dance on this professor's grave.

It sounds like a good idea to all of us.
In a large dark house with skeletons
Listening to organ music while reading a little Heidegger, I feel like one of those highly educated madmen.

Or maybe the pressure of the end-rush of school is just getting to me. Or already has.

I've two and a half papers due in the next three days, plus the newspaper comes out one more week. After that I have one day off, then Latin and then the weekend. I'm taking my Latin final on Friday 13 and my prof thinks that's pretty funny, proving again that Satan is disguising himself as a Latin prof at Hillsdale.

After the weekend I have two and a half take home exams and one and a half regular finals (New Testament Ethics is divided between take-home and in-class). Once that insanity has passed, I fly home. On Wednesday I will fly from Detroit, through Phoenix and into Seattle, where I will sleep for two days after seeing Lord of the Rings II with my sister and oldest brother.

Expect the next week's posts to be here, but with a higher craziness ratio.

Dec 8, 2002

Seattle Times picks the best novels of the year.
Seeking the Enframement of Science
Wendell Berry has a new book out, a book on the role of of science as a national faith in our lives. Read the excellent review over at CINO.

I like especially the way Berry doesn't propose the rejection of science but the limitations of science be rejected--what Heidegger speaks of as enframement.

Dec 7, 2002

The Art of the Web Page
Eveyone seems to be redesigning. Note the new work of arts that is Hats.

I'm feeling the need but, alas, things will have to wait for funding.

Actually once I win my $100 bet that Mrs. Clinton doesn't run in the next race, I'll claim a redesign from my poor friend.

Dec 6, 2002

Feel them in your mouth, feel the sounds coming up anew through your throat and enjoy the beauty of the sentence

That boy is the boy that I told you about.

If I owned the circus.

Five months ago and I'm still laughing.

Mommy, is that a Picasso?

Snow is white.
Source References
Christians should criticize the philosophy they find in, say, movies, if they don't know what the philosophy is about. One really really quick and easy way to tell if they know what they're talking about is to check their references. If they're talking about what Sartre thinks and aren't reading Being and Nothingness, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

One of my professors has an excellent rule--one that got him into Merleau-Ponty and Pollock--if multiple people tell you someone's work is not worth paying attention to, go read them for yourself.
The End
My friends are more religious than their parents. They tend towards are older and higher form of church than their parents. They are more politically conservative than their parents. They are more educated than their parents and more devoted to education than their parents.

And none of that is comparing them to their parents when they were young.

They said the end was coming, back when rebellion spoiled over and nihilism set in on middle America's children. But they were wrong. Like much of the Boomer generation this seems to have been a serious over-estimation of their own significance.

The revolution has been rejected, mostly, by the Internet Generation and will pass away with little, thank God, permanent influence on the direction of society.

Much of this is, I suppose it could be argued, only the result of my circle of friends, a circle with mostly hippie parents that came down and became fairly conservative and had a bunch of good kids. But as I look beyond my circle I see many similar trends, consider this new article by News Week hailing the end of the sexual revolution.

Always there is hope, Dr. Schaffer, always.
The Distinctions
I am a reporter, not a journalist. I work for newspapers, not the media.

Make sure you're damning the right people.
The ambiguity of the genitive . . .
Razor extras
Just when we thought that they would never revive themselves and wondered if we should--just to ask if they were okay--they turn up at RazorMouth with new-and-improved super-powers.

Dec 3, 2002

The Muppet Joke's on You
I hate quizes. I sometimes take them but then I despise them (and I never post them).

So I spiked this one. Now it's accurate and it fits my mood. Ha!

You are Statler or Waldorf!
You don't like dealing with most people, preferring to ridicule other people along with your equally misanthropic friend.

Roses by any other color
Seraphim puts his favorite new Oxford English Dictionary word on display and, in a strange twist, I come to the defense of science.

Of course, I agree with everything the illustrious Mr. D has said about science, so my defense is a little odd. I think blue roses are nice though.

Dec 2, 2002

Totonto Conference notes VI:
Derrida problematizes the question of prayer and of his prayer, speaking of the doubt that is in the faith of prayer:

...suspended belief, not knowing if or who will answer. . . not the way I order a pizza. . .

It is a hopeless prayer on one hand--totally hopeless and I think that's what it should be--and on the other hand there is hope.

. . . this is the act of praying in the desert.

There is obviously calculation despite the uncalculatable hopelessness. It is a calcualtion that tries to incorporate the incalcuable.
To know is to do
Toronto Conference notes V:
Orthodoxy without orthopraxy is not orthodoxy.
Wrestling with our Presence
Toronto Conference notes IV:
Every age is unhappy . . . The alienation of our time. . .
Nostalgia for the identity that is being eclipsed.

Lyricism - Poetry:
can take us out of the world or in

a manufactured community to get to the coherence of eden.
Either a utopian past of future.
- - -stand in his disintergration . . . trying to find coherent man

. . . looking/longing for eden

or eschatological heaven

BEING, in a moment of time.

(Saved by the invention of poets and heros).
Problematizing Thereness
Toronto Conference notes III:
What is the "there" that we speak of when we shudder at the lack that is Oakland?
On proof that the martyrdom text exalted the mother
Toronto Conference notes II:
For her the misogyny of the Jewish text was unfalsifiable.
Linear Circles
Toronto Conference notes I:
Myth, to be complex enough to reach an understanding of humanity, is contradictory, enigmatic and ambiguous.

Myth needs the almost incoherent mixing of explanations; the natural enigma of human existence.
Depending from the line
The pitch patern in an actors guide turns a common sentence into free verse.
Nation of Primary Colors
An excellent piece by Sullivan on America and Thanksgiving reminds me why I read Sullivan.