Apr 30, 2003

I fell into the ocean
When you became my wife
I risked it all aganist the sea
To have a better life
Marie you're the wild blue sky
And men do foolish things
You turn kings into beggars
And beggars into kings
--Tom Waits, When All the World is Green
Van Til and Reason
My latest paper, on the contradictory position of Van Til in accepting and rejecting the Rationalism of the Enlightenment, is now up on the papers page.

My favorite bit: Karl Bath, a man regularly reviled by Van Til, scrapped his Christian Dogmatics to write his Church Dogmatics, because he came to believe that theology happened within the Church. Van Til doesn’t have any move of this sort, and leaves us no picture of corporate theology, indeed his view seems totally individualistic and thus emphasizing the autonomy of man. Van Til never expresses anything showing that theology is something beyond the individualistic enterprise he treated it as. The Church plays no role and the theologian, echoing Descartes’ creed of self-standard, acts as a free individual.

Apr 29, 2003

Sometimes the best of us turn the intellectual into a brawl...

UW Shakespeare: : ) <--
UW Shakespeare: [poking Dan in the eye]
dansilliman: \/---0 : )
dansilliman: [punching Jeff in the nose]
My editor's piece on my uncle and his poetry, is now online.
Pomo Pogrom
Good-friend and now metrical nuisance Jeff Nelson has a rhyming response to my poem, Single Shard, on the anti-fragmentarians. My choice of favorite, among his attacks, is "king of broken glass."

I think I might use that as a blurb for something.

Apr 28, 2003

Language Philosophy
Jonathon Deacour has an absolutly fantastic two posts on language and  
Jean-Luc Godard's film, Two Or Three Things I Know About Her.
Reading these, that film has jumped to the top of my must-see list.

"I mean to understand, to love, to be loved, and as each failure makes me feel my loneliness more keenly, as… as… as I can’t tear myself away from the objectivity that is crushing me nor from the subjectivity which is driving me into exile, as I can neither raise myself into Being nor allow myself to sink back into Nothingness… I must go on listening."

The film seems to be deeply informed by Heidegger, and Deacour's work is limited by his ignorance of the Heideggerian philosophy. He asks for some enlightenment by philosophers, but how does one talk about Heidegger in abbreviation? A small collection of Heidegger's work called On the Way to Language is on this summer's reading list. I'm also agitating to get Hillsdale professors Dr. Stephens (who taught me continental) and Dr. Blum (who taught me Heidegger) to teach a class on language philosophy next spring.
Doin' Art
Sinfest is brilliant again today with this strip. Perfect for the damn-they're-upon-us-and-it's-finally-nice-outside finals here at the 'dale. Too bad this institution knows nothing of art.
Inside Language
In consternation over capitalization, they ask:
--Should catholic have a big 'c'?
--Should orthodox have a big 'o'?
--Should 'neo-calvinist' be spelled this way?

--You can do what you want with my 'o' and 'c', I say, I am a Catholic Orthodox and an Orthodox Catholic whatever the spelling.
In Particular
Single Shard
The silly anti-fragamentarianist (wearing a bow tie).
Reducing to the whole,
Like something they make you do on the SAT.
Tasting yellow pencil paint flakes.
To know: Discriminating to write the comprehensive long.

     I got lost with the color of grass
Unabstracted. Deepest green.
Say Saint Augustine as a Southern Baptist.

One fragment.
     accepting the typo, because maybe
It is enough.

Apr 27, 2003

Don't listen, and things'll be messily fine
If I could go back and give myself advice, I'd tell me not to listen to my advice.

Because part of life is the pain of going through it, and growing up wouldn't work with a jump start. (But I wouldn't say that, I'd just tell me to not listen. It'll hurt but you'll be fine.)

And then I might tell myself to remember that life's messier than it seems.

Apr 25, 2003

Other Women
"You remind me of my grandfather," she said.
And I knew, then, what she was describing and why I wouldn’t change any of those things that make me seem like a grandfather.


I am in the middle of an excited and earnest explanation of modern philosophy when the girl who asked for help on her paper turns to her friend and said, "I'm almost expecting him to break into a love poem."
I thought I already was, in a way.


"When I first met you," said the girl, "the word I thought of was 'Boring.'"
And I laughed.
"I know what you mean by that," I said. "But those things are the reason I like myself."
Schizophrenia Reduction
I turned writing into love.

This is a test. This is the manifestation of my self against language.

--You mst be very lonely.

Apr 24, 2003

scintillating. (said without irony).
Mother Myth
"Myth laughs at centuries and leaps across millennia. Myth punctures our provincial culture sacks and seeps into the world. Myth is patient, though not always kind. Myth is the soft womb out of which we came..."

Apr 23, 2003

Chuckling o'er Politics
War must be over, Andrew Sullivan's talking about homosexuals again. You gotta chuckle at his plodding sameness here. Okay, maybe you don't. But I did.

In signs that these past few months have marked serious changes in politics, Newt Gingrinch has come out on what National Review stupidly called the "Unpatriotic Right." The Newt says the U.S. has had "six months of diplomatic failure", an unmitigated failure. In further strangeness, the Newt's line seems to be the same as the one the Democratics are taking against the military triumph.

Hey, sometimes the zigging, zagging and triangulation is funny, in a nerdy sort of way.
(Thanks to Josh Marshall for the Newt reference.)
La Difference
"I wish I could take a picture of Silliman right now," Seraphim said, "with coffee in his hand, writing all over the hand itself, pickle smell in the air, and his music going 'do da doot do.'"

"This insanity," I said, "is why I am Dr. Gonzo and you, Seraphim, are but the lowly Yo Mama-in-Chief."

Apr 22, 2003

Going Home
I drive my family crazy with my lose planning. My dad goes mad and tells me he’s worried while I glory in the relaxed Kerouacian beat of it all. And I always describe it as "it all."

"There’s like 20 days left of school and I can buy my ticket next week," I say. "Then it'll take like four days on the bus, roughly.

"And then I'll be home.

"I send you the times when I get them."
In Particular
Red Arm
One silent moment
in the big blue boat of a station wagon,
with my sister chattering,
my brother stabbing the roof with ice cream.
A chocolate dipped ice cream cone.
Red arm reaching across
the blue station wagon.
Red arm reaching
for my mother,
She smiles at Dad.
Stable silence forms from our babble,
depth out of our children's shallows
Smiling silent particular,
abstracted to love as
the wind rumbled
my fine, blond, 8-year-old hair.
Dr. Gonzo

On a Collegian editors night out, we got this quite insane pic of me at the Hunt Club, which is rather why I like it. In the mirror behind me you can see Peter Krupa on the right and Seraphim Danckaert in the center with the camera over his face.

Apr 21, 2003

When Politics Bore
The first debate of the Democratic primary looks to be a bust, (registration required) but that may be just because it's the first one. Things are pretty sleepy right now, but one of the candidates could say something worth hearing and make us sit up and look.

My guess though, is that the Democrats will avoid attacking Bush on foreign policy and try to hit him on the economics. Afterall, everyone's happy with Bush now (according to the polls). I don't know if this strategem will work, but it will bore me.

I have hopes for this campaign, but am to cynical to actually hope them.

Apr 19, 2003

Celebrating Ezra
"How did it go in the madhouse?
Rather badly.
But what other place could one live in America?"
Dorm Life Soundtrack
In my hallway this Friday night I hear someone playing Joel's Piano Man loudly on repeat, and the sound accompanies some war flim's loud explosions and gunfire from farther down the hall, as my neighbor and his girlfriend talk intensely.

Someone laughs.
"See you later."

I return to reading my Umberto Eco.
The combined work of 14 artists, this Stations of the Cross is a moving and interesting piece of art. I especially like the depiction of Jesus's second fall. Stylistically, I enjoy the juxtoposition of the realism and symbolism in this piece. I like the carnival masks of the observers, showing smiles caught out of season. I appreciate the contrast, here, between the seriousness and the frivelousness of sin. This piece is conscience of its place in the stations. Being the second but not final fall, we feel the progression, the repetition and the growing and increasing weight carried by Christ.

(Via Dave Hegeman of The Native Tourist.)

Apr 18, 2003

The night in which he was betrayed.
Reading Augustine's prayers during my hour at our vigil in the College chapel, I attempt to contemplate the incredible nature of the burden of sin upon Christ in the garden, my active participation in that burden of sin, and my similiarity to Judas and Peter in betrayal and denial.
"Victorian verse. It's enough to make one don a top hat and go out for tea and crumpets. Unwillingly, of course."

Apr 17, 2003

Holy Communion and a Faithful Old Couple
There’s a couple at my church, St. Anselm’s, An old couple, Fred and Charlotte, that always sit in the second row. A devout and faithful couple, they pour love and appreciation on Fr. Brown (not a young man himself).

Fred has been very feeble for a few years. He no longer kneels in the service, for fear he won’t be able to get back up. He stands at the alter rail to receive communion. He often forgets where we are in the liturgy, not hearing too well and having trouble always following. With his hearing gone, his interaction with the rest of the little congregation is limited. He often sits and smiles to himself while the rest of us drink coffee and talk in the back of the church.

Charlotte has been doing worse since I returned to school. My sister told me the other day that her mind is weakening. She doesn’t notice when the time comes in the liturgy to go forward to receive.

Every week—faithfully, loyally, sweetly—Fred takes her by the hand and leads her forward that she might be blessed, receiving communion.
Language Hat plug, and etc.
If you haven't looked at Language Hat, or haven't looked at them recently, go take a spin. Their recent redesign has them looking really good, and their content is fascinating and constantly stellar.

Language Hat is also part of the really interesting (and promising) development in blogs where they is a focus and emphasis on a specific subject. This is the kind of blogging idea my uncle has been sucessful with, and one I first saw with the political blogs (Ben Domenech, e.g.) and first noticed/found interesting with theology directed blogs like the Catholic Mark Shea or the Reformed Rabbi Saul and Michael Pahls.

Apr 15, 2003

San Francisco's last full-time jazz club has closed.
Beyond the Intentional
Berek is in the middle of some postmodern preformance that involves taking a blog from its context of authorship and out of the continuity it was written in. I'm not sure what it shows yet, but that's what he's doing.

Apr 14, 2003

In the Mud of War
"My account of the attempted ambush later made the front page of The Times. When I heard that the story had made it to page one, I realised why some journalists choose to become full-time war correspondents: the thrill of writing an I-nearly-died-a-gruesome-death story is almost unbeatable. It requires, however, that you nearly die a gruesome death. To get another story on a similar scale, I thought, I would have to go through the whole nearly-dying thing all over again. And what if I did actually die? Surely only a disturbed person would put themselves in mortal danger simply for front-page bragging rights?"
  Chris Ayres, a London Times War Correspondant on being embedded with the Marines.

"The prisoner was on the ground, and he was being beaten with something that wasn't a fist or a boot. A shout and then that slightly resonant sound of flesh and bone giving way to something very hard that was moving fast. And then another shout from the guard, another blow. It went on."
  Matthew McAllester, a Newsday Correpondant on eight days in an Iraqi prison.
The shorter OED now has an additional 3,500 entries, and a new layout.
Language Notes
Written on my hand while standing knee deep in a really cold lake on a sunny afternoon reading Ketjak.

Lang. is my given. This is about this. Is vision prior to logic? Dear Quine. Exorcise your monkey. Math as finished lang., deriving perfection thro. accepting death. Journ. is spch in spch/spch about spch. No quotation but direct quotation. This is a test.

Apr 13, 2003

Catholic Journalists
Two men, Catholics and Journalists, with striking likenesses and a few differences have died this week: Edward Keating and Robert Hoyt.

Apr 11, 2003

Fat white men
I have no idea if this Boston Globe article is at all worth reading, but I loved the caption opening the piece: "In an era of love beads, acid tests, and student sit-ins, the real revolutionaries were mostly elderly balding men in suits."

Ah yes. I suppose I am a defender of the fat, white, bald, short, and old (and I am only some of these). Jeff and I talked once about putting together a book called The Great Lives of Short Fat Bald Men. Length might be a problem though, since most great men fall into enough of these classifications to merit being in the book.

Apr 10, 2003

The Witnesses
Print and broadcast journalists from around the world have rushed to the Middle East, talking to troops, officials and civilians in order to meet the high call of journalism.

While civilians sensibly fleeing booked every flight out of Iraq, the flights in carried journalists.

They knew the risks, believed in their responsibilities and didn’t hesitate. 

With an attack by a U.S. tank on Baghdad hotel housing over 100 journalists killed two correspondents Tuesday, the death toll rose to 12 for journalists.

Just three weeks into the invasion, 12 journalists have died covering the War in Iraq. Journalists are dieing in Iraq at a rate that passes that of the War in Vietnam, where 63 journalists died in 21 years. In three weeks, roughly 1 percent of journalists covering this war died.

All 12 of these men, journalists from Spain, the UK, US, Qatar, Germany and Australia, rushed towards the explosions and bullets.

In one 24-hour period last week, five journalists died in what looks to be the one of the most dangerous conflicts journalist have encountered.

Some suffering and death is to be expected in covering war. These men knew that. Journalists are closer to the death and destruction than everyone but the wounded.

It is a journalist’s eye behind the camera as the film roles or the shutter clicks. It is the journalist that meets the explosions in the streets of Baghdad and Basra, turning it into text calmly read over coffee. It is the journalist who counts the exploding bombs, numbers the dieing and marks the face of pain that comes with the advances and retreats of both militaries.

Unarmed but for cameras and computers, they worked as hard as they could to get as close to the danger as possible.

They were not warriors, but reporters and they rushed towards danger with bravery unmatched.

In a tradition that bears the names and legends of George Orwell, Ernie Pyle and Ernest Hemmingway, these journalists fought to get in the way of danger for the cause of news. Journalists, dedicated to telling the stories of the war and the stories of the world, died doing what they believed was worth dieing for: Telling stories.

Everyone says that war reporters are crazy: Their colleagues, their family, their friends and, most of all, they themselves. Describing the war correspondents, the Weekly Standard’s Matt Labash said they were a breed that “embodies all the stereotypes of regular journalists, only magnified: They are more fearless and fatalistic, heavier drinkers and worse dressers.”

The self-mockery belies the truth that war correspondents are from the best cut of journalists. Those reporters who died were the most aggressive ones, pushing always forward to cover, report, witness and record.

War reporters are renowned for their focus. They are not worried about the bullets and the bombs but about the lead of the story they are already drafting in their heads.

The last to say, “get me out of here.” the good war reporter believes in journalism first and foremost.
War correspondents are fueled by ambition and adventure, but fundamentally their lives and their work was centered on the discovery of humanity.

The 12 who have died believed in journalism as a calling akin to the priesthood. They believed in journalism and journalism's role in freedom, honesty and understanding. They believed they were to be witnesses, a duty never more needed than in time of war.

They weren’t men standing around at press conferences, but men driven to observe, driven to the front lines, driven to the action, driven to record at the scene.

They were driven by journalism. They were driven by the story.

They were committed, to the final degree, to their duty to bear witness to the world.
Vindicate me, O LORD,
             for I have walked in my integrity,
             and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
             test my heart and mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
             and I walk in faithfulness to you
Journalists Die in Iraq
Five journalists have died in Iraq in the past 24 hours, three from U.S. military fire.

Tareq Ayoub, correspondent for Al-Jazeera.

Jose Couso, cameraman for the Spanish television network Telecinco.

Christian Liebig, journalist from the German weekly Focus.

Julio Anguita Parrado, reporter for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

Taras Protsyuk, Ukrainian cameraman for Reuters.

May they rest in peace.

Apr 8, 2003

Pulitzer Prizes
List of winners.
History of Pulitzer and his prizes

Apr 7, 2003

Castro Againts News
The Cuban government has sentenced independant journalist Raul Rivero to 20 years in prison on charges of "plotting against Cuba." He is one of 78 dissedents being tried.

The BBC is reporting that this is Castro's response to the U.S. State Department's James Cason, who stepped up U.S. support for anti-Castro Cubans and was regularly meeting with them and journalists.

Rivero's wife said he was "only a man who writes, not a politician," but that he expected the arrest.
Episcopalian Hope
"The liberals basically spent the last 40 years saying, 'Let's hear the voice of the Third World,'" said historian Philip Jenkins of Pennsylvania State University, addressing a recent Anglican Mission in America conference. "And now they've heard it and they'd like the Third World to shut up for several decades."
(via Gideon Strauss, via Razormouth)

Apr 6, 2003

Depressing Invocations of Patriotism
In case you missed it, there is a primary going on. John Kerry, the frontrunner I guess, criticized the administration using the war-language of "regime change" earning the ire of pundits such as Mad Andrew.

The RNC response claimed that: “Senator Kerry crossed a grave line when he dared to suggest the replacement of America's commander-in-chief at a time when America is at war.”

Which is ridiculous and embarrassing. Anyone can criticize the president at any time, that’s kinda the point.

Kerry responds with a statement that he won't be bullied, but doesn't really take the free speech line that anyone can criticize the president at any time but instead cites his war expereince.

Showing that he doesn't really believe that the question of patriotism is irrelevant, Kerry invokes his Vietnam experience as something giving him the right to criticize and still be patriotic—apparently he ought to be listened to because he was a U.S. soldier in Vietnam, one who has confessed to committing acts of brutality.

"I'm not going to let the likes of Tom DeLay question my patriotism, which I fought for and bled for in order to have the right to speak out," Kerry said.

Which shows, at least, little commitment to freedom of speech. John Kerry believes he fought and bled and tortured people in a little Asian country that never in any way threatened the U.S. in order that Tom DeLay would have the right to praise Kerry, because he has no right to say anything else.

This is the same jingoism that frustrating on the right.

All of which makes Kerry a really depressing Dem. Front-runner.

I don't mind the talk of "regime change," it's bold and a litter clever. I don't know if it'll work, but I'm glad he said it. I’m glad someone is opposing—solid opposition is really lacking—but Kerry’s political rhetoric doesn’t exactly produce confidence. He doesn’t seem to fundamentally oppose what the Republicans are doing with this rhetoric of “patriotism.”

See also Josh Marshall opposing the bullying and the bluffing of the "patriotism" questions.
You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you.

--Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan

Apr 5, 2003

Fear and Loathing in Iraq
Matt Labash is doing a good job becoming the Hunter S. Thompson of the Invasion of Iraq. Writing for The Weekly Standard in print and online, he started it all with the paragraph:

"WHENEVER JOURNALISTS get together over drinks, which is to say, whenever journalists get together, they tell war stories. But nothing can break a run-of-the-mill reporter's momentum faster than having to trade figurative war stories with an actual war correspondent, who has real ones. The latter breed, it seems, embodies all the stereotypes of regular journalists, only magnified: They are more fearless and fatalistic, heavier drinkers and worse dressers."

Labash continued his descent from magazine reports of style into the time-honored role of delighting in the bastardly hard-drinking press. He classically wrote about the difficulty getting booze in Kuwait City, the trouble with the siren and sand induced insomnia. Now he running around the countryside with Christopher Hitchens, who might as well be Dr. Gonzo.

Hitchens, of course, wakes up Labash from his few hours of sleep, shows up with a half pack of cigarettes and plunges into Iraq. Hitchens, chastised as making people think journalists were rude, says "At least with me they don't have to wonder."

With the title "Boys on the Bus" Labash invokes the idea of the story of the reporters, causing some of us to eat it up. I love this insane stuff and it's part of why I'm a reporter.

"IT IS EASY and fashionable to ridicule journalists. They can be loutish and rude, obsequious and mercenary. Their careers are made off of others' misfortune, and they're forever thrusting themselves forward just to bring you the bad news. According to media-bashing stereotypes, they are chiselers and corner-cutters, spitball artists and confidence men. But I will say one thing for the species, and here, I don't count myself among them--they are, almost to the man and woman, some of the ballsiest people I know."
May Michael Kelly, the first U.S. journalist to die in the war in Iraq, rest in peace.

Some of Kelly's work is showing at TNR, go check it out.
After a few technical problems, I switched to this stylish thing and redid my links and my comment system. I do like the way the picture works with the gray scales.
Post-Rushdooney Theonomy
Josh Wiley is describing the so-called "Post-Theonomy" and "Post-Reconstruction" schools among Christian Reformed circles, after a question from Gideon Strauss, talk from Dave Hegeman and general chatter about the moves of Andrew Sandlin, those in Moscow, etc.

I agree about the things that mark the move as a move, but disagree about what is being moved past.

The developments that came with Tyler and Moscow were (much needed) moves towards a focus on culture instead of politics and political issues, and a move away from the Presbyterian and towards the Episcopal, at least in an acceptance of liturgical and sacramental thought.

Perhaps this is the Post-Chalcedon or the Post-Rushdooney movement, but I do not see any rejection of the ideas in their fundamental statements. I see a fuller view of the world, certainly, and a less political and more long-term commitment to change. I see some methodological adjustments. I see a lot of movement away from the identification with Calvinism and the desire to find a place within Christianity’s traditional, orthodox, and catholics forms.

But this is in addition to the Reconstructionist planks of Presuppositionalism, Theonomy, Postmillenialism and Covenentalism. My objection is to the terms themselves, is with the prefix "post." These moves are Post-Rushdooney and Post-Chalcedon, but none of those involved in these circles are repudiating Reconstructionism, so far as I know. They may reject the name (for reasons of reputation) but they’ve not come out and said: "That was ridiculous, I've grown up now."

And both moves, the move towards the traditional and liturgical ecclesiology and the move out from politics into culture, are contained in the roots of those four characteristics of Reconstructionism.

The thing that drove the entire movement was the Van Tillian case about t the Myth of Neutrality. The extensions of this have moved past Chalcedon, but all of these "post" men—Doug Wilson/Jones, Andrew Sandlin, Ray Sutton, James Jordan, Scott Hahn, Gary North—are still active in the extending.

Apr 4, 2003

The mother lode of semiotics seems to be here.
2:48 a.m. at the Pink Panther
The waitress at the greasy spoon with the neon command to EAT! thinks we’re all going into the priesthood. Which is basically fair because the one guy who’s here a lot is becoming an Anglican priest and another guy is thinking about it, though he might convert to Roman Catholic and that’d be different.

She likes priests-to-be. I don’t know why. She’s an older woman and maybe had some experience with a priest or something. Out here in the northern version of the bible belt, though, I don’t know where that’d happen. Nothing but cornfields and Evangelicals out here.

But she’s giving us free coffee. And I’m a journalist, which we call a priesthood but that’s just talk. Like about us being poets. It’s just analogy because we want to say that we’re doing something important.

“Well,” said the Baptist with us, “the priesthood’s always an option.”
There be Dragons
I seem, these days, to constantly be defending the dangerous as dangerous: Journalism, poetry, film, art, post-Enlightenment philosophies, staying up all night, smoking alone, Christianity, Anglicanism, life.

I've been to the ramparts, not to deny the danger but to recommend it.

Apr 2, 2003

Two Things
1) Sometimes only liver and onions will pull one through the night.

2) My life is quite the kick.