Dec 30, 2003

Apparently overcoming this cold by force of will isn't working - so I'm feeling terrible, sick, and I'm going to go sleep for a few days.
Two Christmas pictures
Stephen and Luke.

Dec 29, 2003

The century's literature
A Great Books exercise
Five books from 100 years. The barbarians are burning the libraries of the 20th century, the Fascists are erasing the reading material of 100 years, and you get to save, to preserve, five and only five books.

Which do you chose?

I'd choose to go down in the censoring flames of the library, but let's make it a little easier. Five novels, one century. If you could save only five piece from the literature of the 20th century from the Fascists, barbarians, fundamentalists, whatevers, which would you save? It's an exercise in "Great Books."

Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.
Ulysses, by James Joyce.
Steppenwolf, by Hermann Hesse.
1984, by George Orwell.
Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe.

In contrast, Random House's list is: Joyce's Uylsses, Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby, Nabokov's Lolita and Huxley's Brave New World.
The English Monster
I've been doing some thinking about myths again, so today I found myself poking the web for information on Beowulf and found this excellent site, It has an online translation of the myth along side the Old English that tries for the literal translation.

Of interest: the original manuscript's first page; the Cambridge encyclopedia's Beowulf entry; comparisons to rap, with it's style and in the Old Germanic/Anglia practice of flyting; articles on why you should read Beowulf that aren't convincing at all, except as good examples of why one doesn't defend liberal arts on practical grounds short of the Good Life; Beowulf's two mystical swords are named Hrunting, which he borrowed from Unferth to kill Grendel's mother, and Naegling, with which he uses to kill the dragon; the Beowulf comic books; "Beowulf" used for computer projects; an example of Beowulf scholars examining the manuscripts and debating the text.

The illustrations:
the myth of men and monsters,
The Geat's sail to find Grendel,
Beowulf and Unferth flyting,
Grendel in Heorot Hall, Grendel in Heorot Hall II,
Grendel's rampage,
Beowulf wrestles with Grendel,
Beowulf tears and arm off Grendel,
Beowulf fights Grendel's mother,
carrying the hideous head,
Beowulf and the dragon, Beowulf and the dragon II,
Beowulf the King,
Beowulf dying,
Beowulf's pyre.
Sidewalk forms

What’s on TV tonight?

      he asked, where the dogs had stopped barking –
where the blue Christmas lights shone around every soul –
where even the water was watered down.

It’s the question of perfection called sidewalk.

"Nooooo," to rhyme with "Geronimo."
            Something to say on the fall.
            Say something about the Fall.

What can you read in the sidewalk?
My name. Your language.
Of technorati's listed 55 blogs linking to me, one does it in Norwegian, and one inSpanish.

This is my entirely meaningless yet interesting fact of the week.
Like a horse, or a fish
FOUNDER: verb - to sink below the surface of the water; to cave in; to stumble, becoming lame; to fail. Used especially of horses, livestock and ships. From the Middle English foundren, meaning to sink to the ground.

FLOUNDER: verb - to fling the limbs and body in a failed effort to move; to struggle (as a horse in a mire or a fish on land) to roll, toss and tumble.
For Metz and Priz
"Hip" is totally not hip.

And it's no on "hipizzle the snizzle."

Dec 28, 2003

A stammer
"The makings of a poet. No, I’m afraid I’m like the guy who is always panhandling for a smoke. He hasn’t even got the makings. He’s got only the habit."
        - Eugene O'Neill
Beat painter dies.

Dec 27, 2003

The whirlwind is in the thorn tree
The current edition of Mars Hill Audio includes an interview with Johnny Cash on faith, vocation, the Incarnation, and the Last Supper.
J.R.R. as literature
Jackson's Lord of the Rings isn't designed to replace the book in our culture, but Star Wars. And it does a good job.

If you could save only five books from the 20th century would you save LOTR? I think the answer is pretty obviously no, even if we're only counting novels, but apparently that's not so obvious to some.

There are three places I'd consider teaching LOTR in a college classroom:
1) A class on epic literature, where I'd examine LOTR as an example of an attempt to translate the epic genre into another time. (Compare and contrast with Milton's Paradise Lost...).
2) A class on the relationship between literature and history, considering the relationship between LOTR in WWII Britain, 1960s US and post-terrorism Britian and the US.
3) A class on myth in the modern epoch. Actually, that's one I'd be really interested in.

Dec 25, 2003


Is Scrooge grumpy all year or just for Christmas? I'm thinking he should be just as gruff in June, so it can't be dismissed as arthritis or something.

I always get a big chuckle from Mr. E. Scrooge. I may or not be able to defend the dear fellow, but I like him and his humbuggery.

Dec 24, 2003

Litany of the Incarnation
In joy and humility,
let us pray to the creator of the universe, saying
Lord, grant us peace.

By the good news of salvation
brought to Mary by the angel,
hear us, O Lord.
Lord, grant us peace.

By the mystery of the Word made flesh,
hear us, O Lord.
Lord, grant us peace.

By the birth in time of the timeless Son of God,
hear us, O Lord.
Lord, grant us peace.

By the manifestation of the King of glory
to the shepherds and magi,
hear us, O Lord.
Lord, grant us peace.

By the submission of the maker of the world
to Mary and Joseph of Nazareth,
hear us, O Lord.
Lord, grant us peace.

By the baptism of the Son of God in the river Jordan,
hear us, O Lord.
Lord, grant us peace.

Grant that the kingdoms of this world
may become the kingdom of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ;
hear us, O Lord.
Lord, grant us peace.
Leak in the boiler room
But walk down the street. Read the wrinkles around his eyes. Listen to the woman yelling in the apartment upstairs. Watch the sag of the shoulders.

Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.

Dec 23, 2003

You gotta love the folks at google.
Evangel Society going underground
The Evangel Society Blog - Hillsdale evangelicals Michael Francisco, Keith Miller, Derek Muller, Jeremy Rein, James Sherk, David Talcott, (Evan Ragland?) - are closing shop. Well, not closing shop exactly but closing down the blog to public viewing. I can't see how this is a good idea, since it basically means they'll be taking to each other except when writing articles on the main site.

I suppose they don't believe in the forum.
Well my sister and a few others were hacked this morning. Both sites were very low on security so I'm told it wasn't that hard and these are lame hackers messing with easy stuff.

And anyone who runs around hacking little sites with slogans like "Brazil rules! Matrix rules too!" and names like " _st3alth s0ld13r_ " and "C0d3_Bl4ck_NiNJA" don't strike one as particularly sophisticated. Some pathetic kids stuck in 90s internet.

Dec 22, 2003

And so it begins
riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commuodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
Number of people I've met who I only knew through blogging: 16.
Blogivium snapshots

Summer and Shimmer wanting to know why I am Anglican.

Realizing that I must have seen a picture of Gideon somewhere.

Gideon making coffee while discussing the differences in religion between his Generation X and my (as yet unnamed but I’d go for internet generation) generation.

Wondering why rappers haven’t looked at the Nation of Islam or the Black Panthers as models.

Comparing Reformed alphabet soups with Anglican ones.

A long conversation about the meaning and nature of Holy Communion.

U-turns with James, and managing by weird juxtoposition to describe the Reformation as "A short story that got overextended into a whole book."

Knowing that the accordion guy was accordion buy because of the accordion.

Seeing Angela warn people about the dangers of mulled wine.

Rich introducing himself with, “So I’m the guy who commented about amillenialism on your blog.”

Seeing Gideon’s face when he walks into a room to find Bethany, me and Rich singing American Pie with Joey on the accordion and Angela playing violin.

Thanks everyone!
Another package
Yeah, being away from the family for Christmas is bad, but presents in the mail isn't such a bad deal.

Dec 20, 2003

Going North
1 large canister of coffee.
2 nations.
12 hours of driving.
1 blogging convention.

I'm gonna do it. I'm driving to Toronto for the Straus blogging party. See you back here on Monday.

Dec 18, 2003

All for what?
Question via Gideon Strauss
Why do you get up in the morning?

Dec 17, 2003

And then it was still
The school’s hustling into stillness right now, with everyone packing and running around and engrossed in the mayhem of leaving. It’s snowing in the first big snow of the year. Supposed to be coming down all today and tomorrow and probably keep snowing until spring.

My break plans are deliciously non-existent, except for the few broad strokes that I’m not going home, will be in the Midwest and am either going to Ann Arbor or Flint for Christmas. I’m staying in the Lowlands, 115 Oak St., and will have internet access so I’ll still be blogging and can be reached by e-mail.

I need to find a job, something that pays, but will mostly be sitting around reading, watching some movies, and working on a few projects.

I have some writing I need to do – a big philosophy project and some personal writings – and this break will be good for that.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Dec 16, 2003

Why do they remember faces in the rain?
Peter Manseau, a co-editor of Killing the Buddha and co-author of KILLING THE BUDDHA: A Heretic's Bible, responded to my recent blog about reservations about their book. He gave me permission to post his letter and my response:

Hi Daniel. Thanks for your recent blog of Killing the Buddha and our forthcoming book, A Heretic's Bible. Here are some responses to your questions/reservations about it: 

1) Yes, we take religion seriously. The book tells true stories of people making sense of their lives -- often this involves a little strangeness (because life is often a little strange), but true stories are always more complicated than that. We had no interest in merely presenting a spiritual freakshow, and I don't think you'll find one in the book. Some might, but then some consider all religious people to be freaks. For them, I hope the book will help them see faith another way.  

2) I'm curious what you think we got wrong about Death of God Theology (and how could we get it so wrong when we mention it so briefly?). I've always thought of our overall project as related to some of the ideas of the d-o-g types; I've thought of KtB moreover as a furthering of a useful way of the thinking that wasn't able to overcome its Christian context. If we've got it all wrong, I might need to rethink some things...

In any event, thanks again. And great blog, by the way. Keep up the good work.
Peter Manseau
Killing the Buddha 

Dear Peter,
Thanks for your concern and thoughtful response. I look forward to reading and reviewing your book as soon as my college-budget can afford it.

I am no stranger to religious strangeness. My father was a drug dealer before being converted by a street preacher and a beat cop with the help of a woman who had thought she was a frog. I grew up on this story and stories like it. A large part of my childhood was spent with horse-farming back-to-the-land sorta-Mennonites in Texas who spoke in tongues. So my uncomfortableness with the interview and the reviews’ is that uncomfortableness you get when you realize people aren’t getting past the strangeness to understand what you think you’re doing. I haven’t found this to be true at KtB, a site I enjoy a lot, and think I probably agree with you about the tone of the book.

The Death of God Theology is only mentioned briefly, but what you said briefly surprised me and didn’t sound right. You say “Traveling through America for a year we discovered that reports of God's demise have been greatly exaggerated.” You then go on to talk about the plethora of faith(s) in American, yet the Death of God wasn’t/isn’t about atheism but about the absence of God and dealing with a God who isn’t obvious, who isn’t certain. What surprised me here was the attitude of disregarding Death of God Theology as if it is ridiculous, and not to be taken seriously. Perhaps that’s the way it’s looked at generally, but I’ve found some of it to be useful and insightful. Death of God Theology is on my short list of things to explore, where it sounded like you guys treat it as an obviously stupid and disregardable idea. Thus the reservation. Perhaps, of course, this was just a flippant remark made in an interview.

These weren’t meant as accusations though. Just reservations I look forward to having dealt with by what I expect to be a great book.

Thanks again, and keep up the good work.
Daniel Silliman

Dec 15, 2003

Thanks so much, I'm fading out again
you tell me all the same lies and they're brilliant every time
          - Diamond Bullocks
Like a friend
to Dan and Jeff and others
The really hard thing about seeing a friend make a serious change that I disagree with is that, as the friend, I have to navigate this ridge of disagreeing with him and justifying him to others.

Really, I want to be the only who’s hurt.
Nothing ever happens in a normal fashion
Burn everything, the note said.
Throw it off the roof.
Donate it all to Red Cross red cans
in five cent donations.

His footprints wore red
the night he left for Mexico
to end it all there where he cries
and serves tequila every Tuesday.

The man had “NO WAY” written on his hand every day it rained.
The man had “OKAY” written on his hand every day it rained.

Dec 13, 2003

B. Spinoza
Where is your God Spinoza?

A consideration of Spinoza's God through the Ontological Argument and the question of the One and the Many.

Dec 12, 2003

Presuppositionalism: Postmodernism's Trojan Horse.
Bury him deep
A strange looking trip in comparative religion from the folks at Killing the Buddha.

It looks like something worth reading but I have two reservations right off: 1) do they take religion seriously or just take pleasure in weirdness and quakery? 2) why do they get Death of God Theology so wrong?
We call it Democracy, spelled with an "oil"
The company formerly run by the vice president, which was awarded two large no-bid reconstruction contracts by senior administration officials in a secret task force, has overcharged US taxpayers by as much as $61 million for the delivery of fuel for the-war-that's-not-about-oil, the Pentagon says.
Psued, colloq. British from psuedo, used for something or someone pretentious or insincere.
"He was the pseud face of Rock and Roll."
Waking up middle aged
The only thing common to all the characters in Updike’s Problems and Other Stories is being middle aged in that regular modern mold where the marriage has gone cold and you love her but as a sort of nostalgia or maybe just as a habit, or where you’re in the beginning or end of the divorce that was either depressingly cordial or out-of-proportion vicious, where you have a kid who’s snotty and spoiled and who seem just like their parents except the parents can’t see it. updike

I was reading Updike, then falling asleep in the way you fall asleep when you know you can’t so you jerk awake in 10 minutes or 15 minutes and then I was dozing again so I set the alarm for 20 minutes, just in case, and kept reading about this guy who’s driving across Nevada after his divorce and his daughter keeps trying to take care of him and….

The alarm screeches scolding and I’m up with that feeling of not knowing what room this is, except it’s worse… “Who am I?

“Am I married to a woman I love only in the sense that I’m nostalgic about our past or to a woman I don’t love but who is part of my habit? Hmmmm. I don’t think so.

“Am I getting divorced? Noooo. I don’t think I’ve ever been married actually.

“Do I have a snotty kid I think might not be learning to cope with life? No. No kids at all, unadjusted or otherwise.

“Wait. I’m a 21-year-old college student who fell asleep in his dorm room reading Updike. That’s right.”

And it’s not like that was a relief.
The guerilla politics of the 21st century
My dad and my uncle and I, for all our differences in politics, have always thought that it was the behind-the-man part of politics that was cool. I never ever talking about becoming president but did at one time talk about being a campaign manager. Those guys are crazy and their job is mad. Totally romantic.

Which I was reminded of again reading about Dean's genius Joe Trippi. It's interesting stuff, and applicable in the broader way of "playing outside the rules paying off."

Whatever you think of Dean, etc., Trippi's an interesting fellow who's done some interesting stuff that's gonna be copied for a few years, so it's worth looking at what he's doing, exactly.

Dec 11, 2003

The present-ed post-politics of Foucault
My paper on politics, considering Foucault, amillenialism, and pop music
What now? Now now.

Dec 10, 2003

This entire college is manic depressive.
That's what they say
D.C. says hello, the newspaper staff is laughing and tonight it rains cold.

If you ever make it to Georgetown, Foggy Bottom is a great basement bar.

Dec 7, 2003

Linguistic Parallelism
This is to propose a parallelism where the physical and the mental run parallel but rather than being two types of worlds they are two ways of describing one world. This is a parallelism where the distinction between the mental and the physical is a linguistic one, where the world is larger than our ways of talking about it.

The claim here is that the mind/body problem results from confusions about language. We have two languages neither of which describes the world fully, so we go back and forth between the ways of speaking which causes us to think we have two causal explanations for one event, or to think we need to explain mental things in physical terms.
Linguistic Modes of a Single Aspect World
I'm working on a paper trying to crossbreed Wittgenstein and Spinoza, in the hopes that their children's rage will destroy the mind/body debate and make dualism and materialism irrelevant.
Three from Slate
Of literary interest: A review of the young Updike, looking back to the "golden age" of the NYT Review of Books, and a consideration of dictionaries.

Dec 5, 2003

Roommate Conversation
Stephen: Did you see it's snowing?
Daniel (half asleep): (unintelligible).
Stephen: I take it if humans could decide these things, there would be no snow.
Daniel: Maybe snow by committee would be warm.
In the early days of the punk
When I was fourteen, a one-on-one football game ended with my two front teeth knocked back – wiggly loose and bend almost horizontal backwards in my mouth.

Apparently there’s not much you can do for that and what you can do is half luck, so I sat for a week with a Popsicle stick pressuring my teeth forward and drank Campbell’s soup that’d been run through a blender. (Nasty stuff that.)

It worked, basically. My teeth weren’t as straight as they were before, but they were working teeth again. The only problem was they hadn’t come out far enough and now I had an under bite. My top front teeth rubbed against my bottom front teeth and I wondered what it’s be like 20 years latter when I still had to go through jaw-gymnastics to chew without gnashing my teeth in an attempt to chew.

And so, for the first time, I had suffered physical damage that wasn’t really fixable. I’d played, messed with the game, lost and was wearing the consequences.

A few days latter I was mowing a lawn, walked under a swing set, brutally smashed the top of my head and dropped to my bottom from the force of running my head against a cemented swing set.

I was surprised to find myself not mowing a lawn but sitting on the ground gapping, with a head throbbing. I felt my head, felt the welt growing as I sat there in the grass. I closed my mouth.

And my mouth closed. Running head first into a cemented swing set pushed my teeth out to normal.

“You’re such a punk,” my sister said. “That’s so typical for you. You don’t follow the rules or make up new ones and some disaster happens but it helps you.

“Daniel doesn’t plan and he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to and everything works out fine. He doesn’t look where he’s going and he’s going to fast and everything turns out right.”
Falling to those heights
Watching people fall, fall in such a way that it doesn’t insult falling, that I can love both of them for it.

Dec 4, 2003

Listen to the Republican stillness
Two reasons political dialouge at conservative Hillsdale narrowed, marginalized libertarians and left-leaners, and petered out

1) The election of a Republican.

2) The war on terror.
Fighting words. Fighting with words.
The failure of Winston Smith in 1984 and of Boxer in Animal Farm is, ultimately, personal. Big Brother isn’t finally about politics in the sweeping sense of economic production and foreign wars, but about politics in the most private and personal sense possible. “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’,” Orwell wrote, because politics isn’t out there, it isn’t another law or a new plan of production or an army on the front, it’s about us in the most human ways possible. The fight against totalitarianism is a fight for language.

Winston Smith, at the height of 1984, tries in consternation to recall the words of an old nursery rhyme. A nursery rhyme – an innocent and childish collection ditty that is, really, the point of conflict between a propagandistic world-tyranny and honesty. The old man he meets in a bar can’t stop talking about how he misses pints. These are just the mutterings of the feeble-minded young and old, Big Brother says, but the real battle is over these measures of the world: the size of a drink and the rhyme of a child and the way we use our language.
Old Toledo Street

Try to understand why I've got you on the phone
It’s the last week of classes, the week before finals, and every one’s in a bad mood.

It’s kind of funny, or – it would be funny if I weren’t in a bad mood.

I should go around telling people that everything’s going be okay like Donnie Darko, but I think that would require me believing it.

Rows and rows of houses,
with windows painted blue,
with the light from the TV,
running parrallel to you.

I wish I were doing something else.

This is spelled f-u-n-k. A week where nothing gets done and everything needs to get done and you let people down for no reason except that you did and, hell, you decide you’re lonely because you are and people ask you if you’re doing okay because you look a little down.

If there is no sunken treasure
rumored to be
wrapped inside my ribs
in a sea black with ink . . .
I am so
out of tune . . .

Of course I’m doing okay.

Or I will be in a few days. What goes down must come up, right? Right?

Music is my savior
and I was named by Rock and Roll . . .
Do you get tired of commas?

Dec 3, 2003

Damnation wrinkles around the eyes
while I write flat lining

She sleeps passenger side
your girl
while I drive through MT hills and headlights.

I belong to the habit
& the memory of Metaphor Insomnia
        me with my second-born inheritance.
And they called him Jack, but it was just a game
Creating his own rules, to avoid bearing another bastard son of Plato.

The man is audacious.

Dec 2, 2003

Without utopia, without apocalypse, what kind of action can we take?

Consider: The similarities between 1. anti-metaness of postmodernism, 2. the localalization of amillennialism, and 3. the without-a-history presentness of pop art.

How can we act - politically, eschatologically, artistically, - without a meta-story?
How does one move without sweeping ideas of moving from and to?

a. How does one act politically with the meta-justification, overarching story?
b. How does one have an optimistic eschatology without the promise of a promised land?
c. How does one play pop music that is "music" without being didactic?

Let us attempt a decentering and a present-ing.
A very Hillsdalish Xmas present: a Pope Innocent III action figure.

Japanese Gangsters go to the Beach
"Boss, isn’t it too childish?" a Yakuza henchmen asks after the boss laughs at his henchmen tumbling into another sandtrap on the beach.

"What else can I do?" he says, and that’s the film in two sentences.

Sonatine is a film about gangsters playing, about the sweetness of life contrasted with the bitter taste of blood, about living while you can and doing what you have to do, about the innocence of murderers.

The gunfights are staccato, with long periods of hiding on the beach that form the soul of the movie. For most of the film the gangsters play paper sumo wrestlers, throw a Frisbee, shot each other with roman candles, they prank each other, tease each other, and make fun of each other. All with hilarious deadpan humor.

What makes this film a worthy worthy contribution to the genre of gangster films is that this isn’t about violence, mainly, but about the still times between violence. As the Godfather is really about family with mafia as a background, so this is about peace and stillness against the set of the Yakuza.

This is highly recommended.
Peter, youngest of 8
A picture of the little borther.

Dec 1, 2003

Blogging Sister
The best blogging I've read recently has been my sister's, and I say that with all critical faculties turned on. She's really come into her own with a style that is hers, that sounds like hers, that's serious and funny and creative.

For example:
And like a kid who tries avacado once a year, I find I still don't like deeply disturbing [movies].

And I stopped, to define my meaning of bitch, and used it more than I have in the entirety of my life. About her, about me.

There was a circle of one 16th of an inch around his box, empty except for blood. They couldn't stop drawing boxes to find out why he didn't like them. He kept stamping toes. He liked the color of red. And his pencil was black. They never stopped drawing boxes. They thought that the next box they drew would explain what was wrong with his four lines that he called a box.

Check it out.
For a political minute
A lovely little phrases from the Bush ad: policy of preemptive self-defense; attacking the President for attacking the terrorists; retreat.

Locally, there's going to be a Dean for American meeting in Hillsdale on December 10 at 6:30 p.m. (before the County Cem. meeting at 7) at Reflections Hall on 3380 Beck Road. For more informaiton contact Emma White, MI 7th and 15th Districts Field Coordinator @, 734-542-0404 (office).

[Note to self: Self, you need to write a "Why I'm voting for Dean" blog.]
Anglicanism in the '70s
Episcopal Bishop Robert L. DeWitt, who ordained 11 women to the priesthood in 1974, died Nov. 21.

The General Convention sanction the consecration of women priests two years later, reversing the ancient structure of the catholic church.

American Anglicans wishing to maintain and continue English Catholic Orthodoxy met the next year, issued the Affirmation of St. Louis over this issue, as well as the revision of the prayer book and the move to determine determine doctrine based on majority vote rather than scripture and tradition, and began the "Continuing Anglican" movement.
Gorm: 1. An undiscerning person, a fool. 2. A bit of tobacco, specifically chew. 3. A mess, muddle or poor job.

Nov 29, 2003

Laughing for three - or will if be four? - days

I was kidnapped from a chicken dinner and laughter (thanks to Prizio and Caitlin, who I'd never met but managed to make the smooth transition to knowing sans an introduction, but then do Hillsdale and ex-Hillsdale people need introductions? nah, let's just move to histories and funny stories) in Ann Arbor to a few days in. . . well I don't know where this is, really except that it's Metzger's house and Bob and Prizio are also here and I've finally really met Sam and talked with him about continental/analytic divide stuff which bored Metzger et al, which is to say it was espcially enjoyably boring, so Sam's not as scary as his reputation or as screwy as his blog (like me in the former and Hugger in the latter, and, just asking, if there were honorary alumni would I be one?) and Metzger is playing Warhol w/ a camera to what all of us suspect are atrocious results, but is kind of funny in a too nerdy for words and wow, the '60s only worked because of acid huh, kind of way and we watched a Japanese film who's title roughly translates "Japanese Gangster's go to the beach" and was a lot of fun and, yes, you can talk through subtitles and catch most things and Bob and Prizio are horrific at Scrabble which is why I can in last - you try to go after that horde of board clogging words - and if you don't like this post try Jack, Kerouac not Derrida, for the real stuff & hey, I enjoyed this and thanks all of you guys.

* Hyperlinks not provided because I don't want to, because you can find them real easy, and I just started reading William Gibson.
**A longer crazy sentence would include more inside jokes, too many Sandman jokes, instructions to the pedantry game, and a long maybe-I'll-do-it-sometime speil about J. Borges and the literary and oral proto-bloggers.

Update: Bob writes about the weekend.

Nov 25, 2003

This isn't a proclaimation

Consider. This is not rhetorical.
so on
&, not and.

As in, thinking about the difference between them. As in, thinking about the way I never write '&' but love the way it looks and enjoy reading it and am disturbed by use of symbols. As in, thinking about the strange way in which the symbol is ancient and latin and contemporary and sometimes hip. As in, I wrote the symbol on my hand after reading it used somewhere not because it meant something or said something but because I wanted to think about it and the ways I use or don't use '&' and have to activly think about it being shift-7.

As in, I'm contemplating '&' which isn't to say there's something there but that I think there might be.




Nov 24, 2003

Where they don't drink Whiskey and Rye
For us, the death of JFK is as important as the death of Lincoln.

Which is why I didn't realize it was the anniversary of the day he was shot in Dallas until the day after, which is why none of my friends mentioned it, which is why we've written no blog memorials to the man, which is why we would toast the Pope or Johnny Cash, but not JFK.

Which is fine with me. He was overrated by our parents and hasn't passed the test of time that well. As Hitchens is saying, time has a way of assigning values.

He's a good shorthand image of youthful political illusions - "Think Not What . . . " juxtaposed with pictures of Dallas and reels of Vietnam - but for a generation that learned the lesson of false political hope without the pain, we don't find him that compelling.

May his myth rest in peace.
Tales of ghosts of giants
You see, the best stories about drugs aren't about drugs.

But then the best stories about love aren't about love either.
As I saw between bookshelves

You can tell
by the way she walks
that a man follows along.
The challenge of art
Say something, about love, that has never been said before.

Nov 21, 2003

The way the line breaks
My uncle's considering line breaks, a question that seems to come up in diverse forms among my crowd whenever we start writing poetry or reading each other's. He's got one poem laid out three ways, and a number of considerations (including generational changes I might not fully grasp).
Beat sutra
One of the new English profs here, the 'liberal' one, is teaching the Beats in his American Lit. class. On the Road and Coney Island of the Mind.

Finally. I had an blog arguement with Seraphim on this point the first summer we were blogging. Anyway, it's good to see Beats gain ground among the Great Books and to have these guys writings entering the consideration and consciousness of my fellow students.
From the crossroads of my doorstep/ my eyes they start to fade
"Dylan said that where he was, 'on top of the mountain,' he had a choice whether to stay or to come down. He said, God told him, 'All right, you've been on the Mountain, I'm busy, go down, you're on your own. Check in later. And then Dylan said, 'Anybody that's busy making elephants and putting camels through needles' eyes is too busy to answer my questions, so I came down the Mountain.'"
      - Allen Ginsberg on Bob Dylan.

Nov 20, 2003

With visions of devils
Just had the night from the pit, with more technological problems than we've had since I've been here. Some of it was unavoidable, some of it was ITS' fault and the rest, extra frustrations, were either me or the printer. We are going to have a paper today, but not without more than my share of sanity in the ink.

And in my downtime I've been cruising blog archives, where I stumbled upon a few old insults/complaints I really wouldn't have minded receiving another day but didn't need to read (again) now. To break from that (there's a lot of bloddy waiting in the fixing of tech problems) I was reading interviews with Allen Ginsburg - mostly dealing with homosexuality or Buddhism. Again, not a big deal except when I'm flipping out over the edge anyway.

must . . . shut . . . down . . . Oh to sleep, to sleep perchance to dream, to dream until my sense of humor returns.

Later. So a full days sleep makes things better. I woke up this afternoon to two thank you letters for my effort, which was nice and unexpected since I didn't tell them about last night, and one letter ripping into one of my writers which is actually pretty funny. Humor has returned. Joke's on me. I wink at the world.
Classic Hillsdale
So I was thinking I wanted to read Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep over Thanksgiving since it has some strong applications to the philosophy I’m doing, but the library doesn’t have it. Why in the hell they don’t have it, I don’t know.

While checking out something else, I told the librarian they didn’t have Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and I thought that was silly. She agreed and offered me her copy. So tomorrow I’m going to the library to borrow a book the library doesn’t have from a librarian.

Nov 19, 2003

(Ironic parenthesis.)
Do I dream of electric sheep?
"A computer doesn't have understanding," she said. "It's just programed with information it can spit back out."

"And that's specific to computers?" I asked. "Really? I thought that's what Dr. Stephens has been doing to me in these 2 1/2 years of classes: feeding me information and asking me to spit it back out in papers."

He pushed back from the table and laughed.

"Huh," said another student. "Silliman thinks maybe he's a robot."
Where Ludwig is king
My notes say what I cannot scream in class:
Wittgenstein! Wittgenstein Wittgenstein!

My hand writes larger with his name:

"You see," says Dr. Stephens, "this is Wittgenstein again."
Redrawing our America myth.
When someone goes out of her way to tell me a conversation is boring, I'm always annoyed because she was that rude, and amused (in a frustrated way) because she's saying she's not intelligent enough to want to even follow a conversation.
Chord progression
I can't tell you anything
you don't already know.
I keep on a trying
I should just let it go.
I keep on singing
and your eyes they just roll.
It sounds like someone elses song
from a long time ago.
    - J. Tweedy

I remember you well
in the Chelsea hotel.
That's all.
I don't think of you that often.
    - L. Coen

So take heed, take heed of the western wind,
Take heed of the stormy weather.
And yes, there's something you can send back to me,
Spanish boots of Spanish leather.
    - B. Dylan

Nov 18, 2003

Come out from behind the eye patch, he screams
A film based on a poem. Or a filmed poem. Mmmmm… all sorts of possibilities. Something to think about.

"He kicked that dog but the dog died maybe they’ll give him another one but the cigarette machine doesn’t think so. They said the electro-violin was gonna undermine the world save the world shave the stave the wave the pearl but it gave the dog a howl and made a pretty face pretty flat and the guy that gave him the broom said it was all worthless you know. Pock Mate, he said. Purely poppy taste and kiddy curdled gut see they only play checkers these days."
- from The Thelonius Death of Rock and Roll and the Dylan Pox of Rage.

Nov 17, 2003

The inheritors
If you ever meet J. Budziszewski, author of "What You Can't Not Know,” please hit him.

The cut-rate Cartesian.
Doing a rethink
I’m doing a rethink of politics, and want to find some plot on the political landscape that can allow me to follow my philosophy-induced manifesto for politics:

1. There is no final solution.

2. Deny the apocalypse and the utopia.

3. Watch for what is displaced, subsumed and ignored.

4. Politics cannot be the center.

5. Do not dehumanize the other side.

6. Critique broadly and answer specifically.

My cynicism - every election cycle has the kick of Y2K - all the lights are on and all that chatter is just giving me a headache - has been misunderstood by some as either disliking Bush specifically or forgetting surrendering politics. This is incorrect: 1) I consider my claim to be against politics as modern politics, not just GOP ones; 2) I started poking at a rethink since the beginning of Iraq, not because Iraq was central to my disillusionment but because it makes it clear I can’t just totally avoid the stuff.

For a while I was describing myself as “a confused proto-fascist or something” and then the other day I told someone I was a “theocratic monarcho-socialist.” This mostly means I’ve fallen off the political spectrum and haven’t found anyway back into the political debate.

I fleshed out some of my concerns and ideals in “Without Heirs: The struggle for a definition and the final failure of the New York Intellectuals,” an as-yet-unpublished article for Gideon Strauss I wrote this summer.

I have a large paper to write over Thanksgiving on Foucault on ethical-political action. I think I’ll tie it into Christian millennial ideas, and my leaning towards an amillennialism, and the type of process the new urbanists want to take in criticizing and answering. I’m hoping this will further move me back into the political world.
After a critique
Do I live as if I think I'm above the rules? Outside them maybe? But in what way is that true, or in what way have I specifically succeeded because I don't live inside the rules?

Nov 16, 2003

I've decided that the Reformed are more insidious than the Baptists, except the Reformed Baptists.

Nov 14, 2003

Like that
He was surprised to see his words written in my looping swirls, phrased and rephrased until I liked the way they fell.
Conections between poetry and jazz.

Nov 13, 2003

Desert isalnd reading
Bethany asked me to run the desert island exercise – which books would you take with you if you could only take a few – since she’s going to Uganda for a while. Somewhat arbitrarily, I went with 10 books for a year. That seems to work out as exclusive enough without being too tight. And 10 books can be packed easily enough.

My list:
Of Grammatology, Derrida
Being and Time, Heidegger
Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty

Brothers K., Dostoyevsky
The Power & the Glory, Greene
Beowulf, Heany trans.
In the American Tree, Silliman ed.

Book of Common Prayer
Radical Orthodoxy, Milbank ed.

In another desert island situation, Noah is complaining about the size of CDs. My answer is to throw away all the packing and put the discs in a Walmart case. Very transportable. Having done the Seattle to Hillsdale trek five times, it’s important to be able to throw one book-sized case in a backpack and have 50 CDs.
Catholicism is punk rock. Jesus and Johnny Rotten...

Nov 12, 2003

Philo notes towards . . .
e) Ruses and feints.

f) Alterity: otherness, different. (This should stand beside iterability and aporia as deconstructionist words).

g) There is no way to understand the world beyond understanding.

h) More talk about Ferdinand de Saussure is needed. This is the guy that started the structualist/meaning as systemic side of things. I've just ordered Course in General Linguistics and Jonathan Cullers Saussure. For Thanksgiving reading.

i) I think I shall call Mr. Derrida "Jack."

j) Jack's Signiture Event Contexts is a lot simpler (and fuller) than Davidson or Rorty on the same topics.

k) Davidson/Rorty should not confuse "translate" for "reduce."

l) Van Til was a theological Trojan horse for postmodernism, for me. This would outrage him, I'm sure. It also protected me for the Schaeffer-style idea that one can not be a Christian and a postmodernist, since I first dealt with some of these issues specifically as a way to save God from theology.

m) "Cashing it out" doesn't translate into Norwegian well.

n) Examples, my friend, examples. And all examples should be really crazy or about chess.
"Had I been Marcel Proust, I would have toiled over this book, gradually perfecting every last sentence, every last word, until it was how I wanted it to be, until I was certain no one could ever misinterpret what I intended to say. Had I been Jack Kerouac, I would have written this book twenty times already. I would have taken my stories of road trips and heartbreak and how much of an asshole I've been to people lately and how much alcohol I've consumed and I would have packaged it neatly under ribbons of hyperbole and spontaneous prose. But, as much as I've aspired to be so, I am not Jack Kerouac, and I'll never come close to having enough patience to be Proust. I'm going to settle somewhere in the middle of being completely honest and keeping my secrets to myself, and hopefully that will still keep your attention."
          - Sarah Hatter
Forget Carthage
My archnemesis would shout "Silliman delenda est."

That's because my archnemesis, if I had one, would do a lot of classics.

Nov 11, 2003

Crazy third-personizing
With my sister looking at Hillsdale and my friends, my friends looking at my sister and thus my sister looking at me through my friends and my friends looking at me through my sister, I've gone raving cross-eyed. It's good, but wildly disorienting.

Seraphim has returned to the blogging world with a "Rarrrrr."

Good to see you again man.

Nov 10, 2003

Thinking, maybe Bach has some way into my talk about doubt and the Christian faith.
"There's a ghost born every second and if you let the ghosts take your gut by sheer force of numbers you haven't got a chance though probably no one has the right to judge you either."
              - Lester Bangs

Nov 9, 2003

Three women
- She's trying really hard to pretend that this is a Jane Austen novel.

- She tells her son to count the heads on that dog in the museum's Romanov collection.

- She had two faces; a lighting smile and a scowl of terror.
Everyone blogs for a reason. When the reason passes, so does the blog. We'll miss you in cyberHillsdale Sam.

Nov 7, 2003

My sister’s coming to visit and I’m looking forward to taking her to Ann Arbor. (Though, apparently, she doesn’t know how to pack).

I don’t have a single sentence definition of deconstruction or phenomenology.

My single sentence definition of postmodernism sounds like a riddle.

Everyone’s leaving this weekend.

The world has a mixed opinion about Dave Frank. God sees both sides of the issue.

My roommate has an appallingly terrible process of thought. He has misread over half a semester of Sociology of Knowledge to prove his own intellectual honesty. Baptists gone for the ideal of the Nietzchean Super Man are damnable. Being a patient man, I didn’t kill him.

A sutra is an aphoristic doctrinal summaries produced for memorization or a scriptural narrative, a discourse of the Buddha.

Praise is due where praise is due.

I’m feeling very tired. When I feel tired I feel closer to normal than ever, which is to say I can’t think about philosophy, say ‘un huh’ and stare into space. This is not a good feeling.

Crazy Norway (Arild) makes a great pot of pasta.

Fog and rain are terrific forms of weather.

One cannot escape passion, but one can embrace it.

To do: laugh madly.
A week of nights
The trouble with doing the night shift is that one starts to fall out of the world.

This week, with a massive paper I wrote on Sunday night and finished on Tuesday night and another paper on Monday night and the Collegian on Wednesday, was a week of nights. I was drifting towards nights where a lot of work can get done and then I was waking up to sunsets and going to bed after Morning Prayer. Classes go by. Meals go by. Days and friends go by.

Pretty soon you’re in another world that doesn’t include the sun or very many people.
For those of you who have complained, my link policy is that I link your blog if I read it every few days. If I read it less than that I'll find my way there through someone else's list of links.

Nothing personal, this has to do with how I structure my way around the internet.

Nov 4, 2003

The Funeral and the Procession
Some photographers are safe behind the camera’s lens. Distanced. But Capa and his camera were always moving closer: closer to the soldiers eating lunch amid the rubble beneath the statue of an angel, closer to the priest making the sign of the cross above the caskets of dead children, closer to the old man smiling at the boy with the gun upon his back, closer to the pretty face beneath a bloody bandage. “If your picture isn’t good enough,” he said, “you’re not close enough.”
(Not) Writing of Robert Capa
A poem to steal a muse
for the inspiration that sounds like poetry
for that aloud stir
moving the words into rows
edges upright brilliant.

Nov 3, 2003

Truth, unity and concord
Apparently a major step has been made in reconciling the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church with the release of the Agreed Statement on Filioque by the The North American Orthodox Catholic Consultation.

Mere Comments runs their press release. The full statement is up on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site. The statement actually comes to the same conclusions that my Orthodox convert friends J. Anthony Cook and I came to in our epic discussion of Anglican-Orthodox divisions.

The paper includes suggestions Orthodox and Catholics stop calling each other heretics, that “all involved in such dialogue expressly recognize the limitations of our ability to make definitive assertions about the inner life of God,” that Catholics translate the creed from the Greek, declare the condemnation of the use of the filioque-lacking creed no longer applicable.

I'm impressed, very impressed. I'm also a little shocked for while I believed this would happen, I never expected this significant move towards reunification before I was a very old man. Maybe this distraction of a doctrinal division will finally go away.

Update:Jared and Seraphim tell me that their Church History prof., Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald at
Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, was a member of this consultation.
Over dead bodies
Sarie Q: What's up, Derridian?
dansilliman: ohhhhh, death of authors and such
Sarie Q: Hey, I don't like the idea of the author being dead.
Sarie Q: As a matter of fact, I'm trying to come up with a movement to resurrect the author. I realise the complications.
dansilliman: No insult is meant by killing the author, you know.
dansilliman: It's argued that the author that kills himself is the better writer.
dansilliman: quite the case for dead white males, actually.
Sarie Q: I like that last statement.
Sarie Q: I just want to bring the author back when it's convienent.
dansilliman: for parties and such
Sarie Q: Yes! And just, in general.
dansilliman: book signings
Sarie Q: What to join?
dansilliman: no, I think I still find in needful to kill the author
Sarie Q: We shall even maintain that we only do it when convienent.
dansilliman: That's tempting.
dansilliman: Can we bring back any dead author?
dansilliman: or just an "Author" in general?
dansilliman: I mean, do we get Dante at all society meetings?
Sarie Q: Yes!
Sarie Q: Oh, got to go.
Sarie Q: We'll work on this later.

Nov 2, 2003

Of fine ivory
I’ve been perusing this list of grad schools friendly to continental philosophy. Still partial to Villanova but am gathering a list of other possibilities.
Technology and typography
The problem with two spaces following a period is that it looks like one could drive a truck between sentences.

The double space was developed with typewriters because they worked with monospaces – where each letter was given equal room – instead of the typesetter’s prortional spacing.

Carter With the advent of typewriters a writer began to gain control of the typesetting of the text on the page. Poets after typewriters write with an eye for how their words look on the page, for example. Computers push this farther, with the writer allowed to consider fonts, sizes and even in some cases leading and kerning.

I was reading an interview with with Mathew Carter, the designer of Georgia and Verdana (two of the first high-quality typefaces specifically designed for screen resolutions. Carter is one of the very few typeface designers who is designing for the computer. He’s been called the most important designer of the 20th century and since he’s still working he could easily become the most important designer of the 21st as well.) and was amused to hear him say that when he started the business, he hated trying to explain what exactly he did. Today, due to the advent of computers, he says he can have perfectly intelligent conversations about fonts with 9 year olds.

Style develops with technology. This was true with the calligraphy of the monks, the typesetting of Will Caxton, the typewriter of Ezra Pound, and the single space after the period with today’s knights of the blinking cursors.

I always forget that I like fall: soft skies gray and misty, trees flaming orange, yellow and red.
The results of a dialect survey.
Rituals of the dead
He checked the obits in the New York Times every morning, figuring if he wasn't in there he could go on with his day. Some old men check their pulse in the morning to make sure they're alive, but he looked at the obits.

He'd always wanted to have a full obiturary in the New York Times. Then he'd know he'd made it. He'd acheived. So every morning, for five years, he checked the paper.

He had followed this morning ritual ever since he died.

Nov 1, 2003

His note on my door read:
"So sorry. The All Saints Eve service was actually at 6. I feel terrible. Andy."

My note on his door read:
"Well. I guess I won't become Catholic then. Silliman."

Oct 31, 2003

The peasants call her the goddess of gloom
Now if you see Saint Annie
Please tell her thanks a lot
I cannot move
My fingers are all in a knot
I don't have the strength
To get up and take another shot
And my best friend, my doctor
Won't even say what it is I've got.

Oct 29, 2003

With philosophy in both hands
If you didn’t believe me when I said I’d sold my soul and now I’m a philosopher, consider: I’ve just spent the night (midnight – 7 a.m., with breaks) reading 15 pages of philosophy, writing 160 words of notes on those 15 pages, and then writing over 560 words about that philosophy here.

I was seized, riveted through the entire process. This is not something I need to read for class and will appear on no text I am taking.

I'm not joking when I say philosophy is all I have.
Killing the Reference Theory
Killing the Author

Adventures with Jack Derrida: on reading of the first 15 pages of Limited Inc.

If a statement can be understood without reference to a referent, then referential theories aren’t necessary to explain how a statement can be meaningful.
      If I say “the sky is blue” and you don’t see the sky – or even if I don’t see the sky, am mistaken, am lying, etc. – the statement is still an acceptable (grammatical) statement. This phrase can be formed and uttered even if it is false, that is to say the statement can serve as a reference even if the referent is empty.
      If the referent is empty – the case for Santa Claus and unicorns – then our reference isn’t to a non-linguistic object and isn’t a referent on the measure of the reference theory. If “unicorn” can pick out no unicorn then it can not be designating that exists outside of language or prior to it. One can never break out of language by pointing to the object when the object does not exist outside of language. We have here a baptism without a baptized; a reference without a referent.
      A statement like “the grass greens” makes no sense/has no meaning for grammatical reasons, not referential ones. A statement like can have a perfectly acceptable sense in the grammatical system of Russian. It doesn’t have any meaning in English because English grammar has no place for a the verb “to green.” How can we say whether “greening” refers to something in the world? Is there such a thing as “greening” or not? We cannot say there is or is not something de re that is “greening” but we can approve or disapprove or the phrase as a linguistic thing, given the working linguistic economy,

The crisis of meaning is not the crisis of language.

A text exists only with the radical absence of the author.
      If the author is always present with the text, that text could never in any way be removed from its original context. If it could never be separated from its original context, it could never be cited and never be incorporated into another context.
      For a text to be closed totally by a context is for the text to be strangled. A fully fixed text, resisting all interpretation but the authorial intention, would not exist outside of the instant of its situation, and would not be a text.
      This is to say that the text without an absent author could not be heard/received, it could not be repeated/ retraced/ recontextualized. For the written to carry soley and fixedly carry what the writer means, is for the written to be exhausted at the instant of being written.
      It is basic to the structure of writing that it contains a “force of rupture,” a separation from the scriptor that allows it to mean allows it to be received (reiterated) in allowing it to exist outside its birth’s instant.
      The possibility of authorship is its impossibility.

Without the death of the writer there is no writing.
Reading Limited Inc.

INFELICITIES: Something inappropriate, ill chosen, unhappy.

PREFORMATIVE: Forming beforehand, prefixed as aformative element.

ITER: n. The record of proceedings during a circuit, (from the circut of itinerant judges, preachers); v. to repeat, renew, (so, reiterate).
Two theories on why I exagerate personal characteristics/allow others to exagerate personal characteristics:

1) I'm a little mythomanic, and will take an interesting inaccurate story about myself over a correct but less tellable story.

2) I'm more interested in what I'm doing than who I'm preceived as, and find the details of a precise description petty and can't be bothered.

Oct 28, 2003

'Cause hell's broke loose in Georgia/ and the devil deals the cards

“So I’m thinking about Spinoza …”

“Dan, you realize that they’ve got you? They’ve taken your soul and now you’re a philosopher.”

So I guess I'm going to reconsider grad school. I've had too many projects that I'm told are doctoral level work. But then Prizio was saying that writing a groundbreaking philosophical work is great because there are like three people in the world that know what the hell you're talking about and two of them violently disagree with you. I don't know. It's not even like I wouldn't be a good teacher. I think part of me is still caught in a blue collar ethic and is having a hard time finding the ivory tower legit. I'd be good in the ivory tower though, and if I was good at it then I'd enjoy it. I'm meeting with Dr. Stephens next week to talk about it and find out what my chances actually are for getting in. So it goes.
An attempt to list the blogs in the Greater Hillsdale Blogging Community. Nice work guys.

Oct 27, 2003

A touch of Spinoza on the papers page.
Phenomenologically speaking
They can't kiss me without kissing philosophy.
Philosophical explorations
What I'm working on: A Wittgensteinian way to dissolve the mind/body problem (esp. the problem of overcausation in the mental causation of physical events) with a double aspect theory that works as a linguistic parallelism.

Claim: That the mind/body problem are resulting from confusion because we have two languages, neither of which describes the world totally. Attempting to explain/describe the world fully, we go back and forth between languages, creating this confusion. Thus, some questions are answered with one language and others with another, leading to confusion in traditional dualist and materialist talk of causation, etc. E.g., Mathematical and phenomenological descriptions of a screw.

Double aspect theory: the mental and the physical are two aspects of the same thing, irreducible to each other.

Linguistic parallelism: My name for my attempt at incorporating the linguistic functionalism (of Sellars, Quine and esp. Wittgenstein) into the mind/body debate. I think I want a parallelism in that the physical and mental always keep pace/run parallel without interacting, but argue the distinction between mind and body is a linguistic one.

(So far as I know, this is not a developed/established philosophical theory. The closest thing might be Spinoza.)
Taking on the world
My father once ran into a wall to win a race.

My grandfather once stuck his hand into a boiling pot of tar to win a $5 bet.

It wasn’t a thing of stubbornness, thought that was there, but of an underlying aggression towards the world.

I’m a lot like my father and his father.
A funny story of crying
She related a funny story at dinner and they laughed, they laughed at the table while in the story they cried and yelled, going away broken and hurt.

Oct 25, 2003

Seeing the Slide without Children

As if we were the last childhood
empty playground rusted
swing slightly swinging
the way we left it 12 years ago
but we isn’t right really since I’m alone
melancholy mostly as memory
screams and monkey bars
empty park on wet bench watching the last leaf
crumbled brown.
A cool name: Dada Typo.
The Lion who Speaks
The Hillsdale Blogging Community has become the League of Extraordinary Bloggers with Metzger’s latest contribution. A funny a mostly accurate parody/description, Metz, nice work.

My attempts at philosophy as poetry (a la Heidegger or Wittgenstein) have become my superpower - I am the Wielder of the ancient power of aphorism and have the power to shrink a normal-sized blog entry into a few sentences.

Of course, this also means my readers often ask, “What the hell did Silliman just say?”

"The poet speaks the essential word ... Poetry is the establishing of being by means of the word." - Heidegger

"Philosophy really should be written only as a form of poetry." - Wittgenstein

The Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association Conference
at San Antonio,
April 7-10, 2004 is having a panel on blogging. They want papers analyzing some aspect of the culture of blogging or presenting critical and informative personal narratives about blogging and are open to submission from non academics. Contact Joseph R. Chaney of the English department at Indiana University South Bend. (574) 237-4870. Fax: (574) 237-4538.

A Perseus study on blog authorship patterns says:
    "66.0% of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months, representing 2.72 million blogs that have been either permanently or temporarily abandoned. ... 1.09 million blogs were one-day wonders, with no postings on subsequent days. The average duration of the remaining 1.63 million abandoned blogs was 126 days (almost four months). A surprising 132,000 blogs were abandoned after being maintained a year or more;"
    "Blogs are updated much less often than generally thought. Active blogs were updated on average every 14 days. Only 106,579 of the hosted blogs were updated on average at least once a week. Fewer than 50,000 were updated daily;"
    "the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who uses it twice a month to update her friends and classmates on happenings in her life."

New Hillsdale blogs: Erin Mac, Lee Nunn, Brandon Thornton, and Dave Frank.

The Collegian ran an article on blogging - how to and 'dale students and alumn.

Oct 24, 2003

Prayer in doubt

To demand certainty in prayer is to demand an escape from prayer.

Prayer ought to be supplication without assumptions

Even if God didn’t exist we ought to pray to God.

The impossible prayer can be prayed impossibly with liturgy and icons.
With a famous scowl
“You can tell your good friends from everyone else in your life,” she said, “because your good friends don’t think they’re bothering you when they talk to you.”

Oct 22, 2003

Blood makes blue eyes blue
I poked myself in the eye with a fork over a girl.

Actually I just have a burst blood vessel from hard living that’s not a big deal and looks bad but will go away in a few days, but that’s not exactly interesting now is it?

Oct 21, 2003

My attempt at chokepo:
While Choking



I choked and as I choked
it grew worse. “Water,” gasped.

that one damned bone
irony of strangulation
food quid death,
or is it qua?
food qua death
eating a good meal gone bad
that punk of a
grim reaper chicken
sickle of a bone in my throat.

The sibs
My sister is coming to visit in November, from 7 to 15.

And it looks like my brother David is coming later this year.

Apocalytic politics
Confessions of a disgruntled young politico
sillimanThe end of the world! Apocalypse! The holocaust of every good and decent thing you've ever cared about! The final battle in the great war between all that is right, good and honorable against the dark and depraved beasts that oppose us.
But your gift of $25 today, committed supporter, can save us.
This is American politics.
You may not believe me but on my desk sits a small stack of fundraising letters, all of which follow this formula: 1) Terrible things will happen if those terrible people win the next election; 2) You are important and can stop terrible people and all things terrible by supporting us.
Some of the letters are more vitriolic and some are less.      President George W. Bush's letter only mentions stopping the liberal agenda once while the state GOP's letter speaks of a liberal invasion intent on destroying what you've worked so hard for.
It's a peculiarly American method because there is this constant underlying vision, a vision driving the style of every writer of political mass mailings: Common American people care, and think they have the power to shape the world.
The staple of United States politics on every wing is that the enemy is out there and the enemy is among us. This paranoid apocalypsism weaves through American history, showing strong in the Cold War, in the political competition between Nixon and Kennedy, in World War II, even in the Civil War and the Revolution.
We believe, with our best Puritan theology gone political, the greatest evil is from within. We believe-cue John Wayne pulling up his boots-we have the power of good and strong men to win.
But politics are like that. If one recasts the allusions to Puritans and cowboys to something Russian, one has a pretty good picture of Russian politics. Maybe we write about reactionaries, maybe about Commies, Fascists, Rush Limbaugh or Diane Fienstein, but it's all the same: stir and rally, allude to the horrific baby-eating opponent, show an image of a golden city, and tell the dear committed supporter what to do.
Politically, I came of age in the Clinton era and my political résumé is strong. I was the head of my county's Young Republicans, at 17 I was the youngest Bush delegate in my state convention, worked on conservative campaigns from the county to state to the national level, held office in the county party and was asked to consider running for a state seat.
I was a young and rising politico. Then I fell off the wagon. Because you know what? After eight years of Clinton the world didn't end. It didn't even get very bad.      

"Oh," said the radio I'd listened to for four years of intensely followed politics, "but if Gore gets in… If we don't stop them… Did you hear about the liberal-homosexual-Clinton-Communist-U.N. agenda?… If Hillary gets a shot at power…"

I saw that the world of politics is a world of ghosts and bogeymen.

In the real world things are never indubitable. In the real world no one sits in a dark tower and plots evil. In the real world $25 won't stave off doom. The political spectrum is a violent simplification of the real world.

George Bush's biggest fan in the world is my little brother, who has every picture of him the local paper ever saw fit to print cut out and pasted on his bedroom wall.      

George Bush's biggest opponent in the world is my cousin, of the same age as my brother, who has learned every snide remark and every G.W. joke. Which makes sense, because the world of 8-year-olds is a world of characters, a simplification of heroes and villains, cowboys and Indians, us and them.

But then another letter asking for a donation from my formerly political self is delivered and I realize I'm being asked to believe in a ghost, a wicked witch and a monster under the bed.

Every election campaign is like the War to End All Wars all over again and I'm a veteran. I'm a little shattered and a little frustrated at my former naiveté and little cynical about the whole system.

Every election cycle has the kick of Y2K-all the lights are on and all that chatter is just giving me a headache.

Originally published in the Hillsdale Collegian

Oct 20, 2003

The role of the critic

Oct 19, 2003

The Morning After Homecoming

Prizio: “Silliman I like this bookshelf. Theology on the bottom, philosophy in the middle and poetry on top.”
Silliman: “I don’t think it was intentional, but that’s kind of cool.”
Slater: “He’s really reaching for a foundationalism there.”
Silliman: “I don’t know how that would work – are we building up from the bottom, depending from the top or working from the middle.”
Prizio: “Oh no, it’s truth versus beauty.”
Slater: “Dante would have to be on top.”
Silliman: “That’s theology and poetry: Dante’s a duck-rabbit.”
Blogging about it
“So I was thinking the other day…”
“Oh yeah, I read that on your blog.”

I don’t friends anymore. I have readers.

Oct 18, 2003

Died: Laszlo Papp, 77, the first fighter to win gold medals at three successive Olympics, the first professional fighter from the Soviet bloc, known as a skilful, hard-punching southpaw middleweight with a devestating two-fisted attack he would rain on a retreating opponent.

Oct 17, 2003

Sunday morning and I'm falling/ I've got a feeling I don't want to know
Talking about Kripke in class, I showed how his entire apparatus is unconnected to his essentialist divergence from Wittgenstein (Sellars, Quine,) and he makes his Cartesian/Augustinian move before he even gets started. Dr. Stephens said he was a damned fool because he'd thought you'd needed to listen to Kripke until he got into the mind/body arguments before you could catch him, and I’d stopped him cold at the beginning.

“He’s just Augustinian naming on crack,” I said.
“Yeah, Kripke is Descartes on crack,” Stephens said.

I brought up the proposed topic of my thesis to Stephens yesterday – the role of doubt in religion – and he said that’s a good topic, “head and shoulders above what we usually get,” as far as he knows not something that any philosopher has dealt with directly though “yeah, Derrida and Kirkegaard touch it sideways.” He said it’s doctorate level stuff to be working on and maybe I could continue it into grad school.

“But I’m trying to avoid grad school,” I said.
Anglican news
I’ve been following the Anglican primate’s meeting really closely, but am not sure what if anything I want to say about it here yet. Maybe I’ll touch the issue of homosexuality as a sin, maybe not. I think my membership in a continuing Anglican church makes my side somewhat clear. We’re probably going to write an editorial praising the third world Christians in the next Collegian. Meanwhile, here are some links to relevant documents: the American Anglican Council's "A Place to Stand: Declaring, Preparing." conference; news of the primate's meeting; the statement of the primates; statement of the Archbishops of Nigeria, Southeast Asia, Rwanda; the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement; the litany prayed by the primates
The Garvers
Since a couple of you asked… the Garver’s were great. We ate spagetti and talked about philosophy, religion and journalism while Claire toddled around handing my toys.

It’s good to see people who care about the things I do and yet have a stable life/family/job/house/etc. It’s good to see a house that houses discussions about the importance of self and other to the Trinity (e.g.) and yet isn’t filled with cold coffee, empty pizza boxes and beer bottles.

Oct 16, 2003

Tom Wolfe
The master of style has a two part series on architecture - titled "The Building That Isn't There" - in the New York Times.

From part 1:The average savant might assume Architect Cloepfil (rhymes with "hopeful") was trying to say "ethereal" or perhaps "inimitable" when his tongue slipped to "ephemeral"; but the average savant avoids the coherently challenged theoryspeak of contemporary architecture like a brain-invading computer virus — and is therefore unlikely to know that Ephemeralism was once (1994) This Year's Architectural Style of the Century.

From part 2: Mr. Hartford was a good-looking, well-brought-up rich boy who had a reputation for big woolly projects that never panned out. He didn't fit anywhere in the New York network of corporate moguls who underwrite and climb such approved social ladders as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art or even the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is, hmmmm, a bit sketchy.

Oct 15, 2003

Frayed personal ends

My best friend – since I was 17 and he was 18 – sent me an e-mail today telling me he’s in a new job and it’s been a long time since we’ve talked but he’s working ten hour days and he’s considering some major life decisions, and I realize we haven’t had a good talk since late summer and even that was too elliptical. I need to sit down with him and talk for 8 hours but can’t.

My brother turned 11 yesterday and I couldn’t find a good time to call him. He called me, but I was so harried between two meetings a paper due today and trying to help design a paper, I couldn’t give him full attention.

My dad got on the phone and was saying we need to talk – we haven’t had a full talk since I left this summer – and all I could say was “I’ve got 3 minutes but maybe this weekend.”

I was talking to a friend here and couldn’t remember the name of a close/important friend of my brothers.

I’ve finally, a little bit, got caught up with my sister and had a good talk over break. It’s been a struggle though, since we’re both too busy to match schedules.

Have been thinking about the philosophy I’m spending time on and am a little frustrated that all my work is going into projects for today or next week. I’m not really doing anything now that’s long term for me – I can have fun with Kripke and Descartes but it’s all terrible short term. I think I need to reevaluate and focus on some projects I’d still like to be working on a few years from now.

I’m trying to carry everything here and am sorry for the things I’ve dropped. Know that I’m desperately trying to take up my slack.
Why I bought the Evil Genius a Beer
“I’m the Evil Genius.”
“Un huh. I’m the man. Sometimes they call me the Evil Dude, or TED, short for The Evil Deceiver. And I always win this game. Even if you were to beat me you wouldn’t/couldn’t know it, so I win. It’s worse than playing chess with Bobby Fischer because this is my game. I always trump. I mean, we’re playing poker and every time you get a semi-descent hand I don’t just beat you, I take away all your cards.
How come there isn’t a song about a girl from Pocono? I mean a town name like that invokes every love to appear in every Beatle’s and Beach Boys song ever.
Freaky night in the other Great American Desert
And then the road was dark, country dark, with only the lights of a distant barn and an occasional star to light the two lanes of an untraveled highway heading west.

Somewhere we’d left the wide 80-75 of middle Pennsylvania and, rather than moving to the tollway of Ohio’s 80-90, had spilled out onto 75 and then onto 400 and something and now these two lane highways. No longer in the vein of Semi truckss and road trips with giant rest stop centers, we’d come to a country where the only signs were for Amish buggy crossings.

We were driving through the other great American desert – North Ohio at night.

No sign seemed to point to anything outside itself, a little world taken over by an intense localism refusing to even acknowledge an outside world. If all roads lead to Rome these people sure as hell weren’t going to say so. They mentioned the Elks keeping this highway free from liter and there was something about the high school team – bobcat, wolverine, panther – and mention of curves in the road ahead, but no outside world.

“What are we gonna do man?” Noah asked me.
“We can’t go back,” I said. “The only thing that makes sense is just to go west. It’ll spill out into something eventually.”

So we went west, having no more specific location than Northern Ohio, knowing that the Great Lakes where somewhere on our right and not knowing if the now-mythical turnpike lay right or left.

“Go west,” I said, “go west.” The road was lined by graveyards. The dark barns and silos rose up around us. Our world was familiar and completely unpredicatble. Our only little spook show was set against a shifting backdrop, a world where everything was but shade, receeding into background, never rising above into focus.

“Dude we gotta stop and look at a map. Ask for directions,” he said.
“What are you gonna say?” I asked. “We don’t know where we are and we don’t know where exactly we want to go. I mean if they tell us how to get to Toledo, what if we’re already past that? I wouldn’t know what to ask for.”

So, like men, we continued stubbornly due west.

We passed a tall house, lightless, rising into a clapboard tower.

“That’s gotta be an Amish house,” Noah said.
“A haunted Amish castle.”

I began to play Tom Waits’ Mule Variations, reaching for some music to match the madcap mood I was in.

“Dude we gotta stop and look at a map,” Noah said.
“Okay. Fine. There are some lights up ahead we’ll stop there and you can go in.”

We pull to the crossroad, the world dark as far as the eye can see except for this one corner, to realize this light in the darkness was darkness itself: a warehouse sized adult video store with lettering a full neon 7-feet tall.

Noah looked at me sideways.

“Damn,” I said.
“Yeah, yeah. Totally.”
“Guess we’ll stop at the next place.”
“This night is so freaky. I’m expecting to see like deformed clowns come out of the windows.”

Later they asked me how the trip was.

“Fine,” I say, “we got lost for a little while in Northern Ohio and we’re attacked by Amish vampires and saw hordes of deformed clowns.

“But it was fine.”

Oct 14, 2003

Two studies
Two studies that might be interesting to philosophy:

1) Meeting with questions of language aquisition and the naming vs. syntax debate, a study that has parrots using simply language, roughly on the level of a child learning to comprehend and produce language. The birds name colors, shapes, numbers, some simply organizations and spellings.

2) Maybe with connection to mind/body debates, some monkeys at Duke can control robotic arms via electrodes planted in their brains.
Among other reasons, too bold, aggressive
Someone who says “Kripke’s naming is just Augustine on crack” shouldn’t try for the hemming and hedging of academia.

Someone who titles a paper “If I met the evil genius I’d buy him a beer” shouldn’t try and teach the balanced and measured introduction classes.

Someone who wants to work in bold juxtapositions, running together unconnected fields and random questions and watching them work off each other, should probably make it a case of private study.
Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Any opinions on the new Belle and Sebastian CD? Anyone heard it yet?

Oct 11, 2003

Aporia: An insoluble contradiction or paradox in a text's meanings; radical doubt.
Every country
"There is no oil, there is no tin, no gold, no iron - positively none," said the functionary, growing vexed at such unreasonable rapacity. "What do you want with it."

"I am going as a journalist."

"Ah well, to the journalist every country is rich."

      - from Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh

Oct 10, 2003

I have now driven accross the US five times, all of them in the last three years. I rolled to the East Coast today in my green pick-up with fellow student Noah Greene (who is fantastic to travel with), and am staying with my uncle. Will be heading back to the 'dale on Sunday after I leave the Garvers.

More posting later, right now I'm really tired.

Oct 7, 2003

A religion, not a relationship
Why I was forced to rejected Christian pietism/primitivism and accepted Christian tradionalism, restated by the sociologists Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman in The Social Construction of RealitY.

“Institutionalization is incipient in every social situation continuing in time.”

“All actions repeated once or more tend to be habitualized to some degree.”

“The Individual’s biography is apprehended as an episode located within the objective history of the society.” (“Habitualization carries with it the important psychological gain that choices are narrowed.”)

“The institutions must and do claim authority over the individual, independently of the subjective meanings he may attach to any particular situation.”

“In the process of transmission to the new generation... the institutional world ‘thickens’ and ‘hardens’ not only for the children, but, (by a mirror effect) for the parents as well. The ‘There we go again,’ now becomes ‘This is how these things are done.’”