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.