Jan 31, 2003


In this week's Collegian I celebrated our old janitor on the occasion of his retirement:

An Ode to Ernie
He was always there with a mop, a broom and a smile that lifted the sides of his face into dry wrinkles.

“Another late night?” he’d say loudly.

And we knew Ernie was there, we late-nighters and all-nighters. We knew and we took comfort.

He was there, faithfully doing a good job. He was there, as consistent as anything we know in this crazy world of college.

He buffed the floors around us while we wrote papers. He was a good man, simply doing a good job. He laughed, talked, and mopped for longer than we’d been at school, for longer than we’d been alive. He cleaned after us and around us for 30 years, growing gray while he swept the floors of Hillsdale College.

He empathized with us, listened to our many complaints and few triumphs. He told us stories of his grandchildren and the Hillsdale of the past. He believed we were the best and he brewed us another pot of coffee.

He believed in his work: hard, stable and honest. He was serving the students, and every night, he was there.

He has been more regular than deadlines, papers or tests. He has been rock amidst our rushing; it is fair to say that we loved him, depended on him, and took strength from him.

More than one of us had our grades and our sanity saved by Ernie’s presence.

We hope his retirement is sweet, his fish are large and his sleep is long. We hope that on occasion, when the sun rises, he will think fondly of our bleary eyes, strewn papers and chain-smoked cigarettes.

And when the dawn comes into the union, creeping in around the edges of our frenzy, we will raise a toast of black coffee to Ernie, a man of stability, simple goodness and faithful service.
Das Gaa Kaffeehaus
I noticed his gait first—he walked towards us with a spingy hop that looked eager, excited, full of hope.

I had decided I wouldn’t like him. Now I saw him and was wary. I could feel myself circling like an old dog for a fight in the dusty street.

Next I saw his hat, an old English cloth cap with black and purple checkers.

“Hmmn.” I thought, circling distrustfully. “A fool.”

It’s not best to meet a fellow on a recommendation of his mother through your mother. At least it’s not a good idea when you’re 17 and 18 and not used to having friends like we were.

I knew I wasn’t going to like him and I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong.

I asked him some question that day—a regular type question with the half-hidden hope of getting deeper—and we argued about everything, anything, for the next six months.

Driving everyone around us a little mad as we talked the world, building a all-touching dioalouge that changed who I had been and defined who I was.

We’ve gone through a few changes in the last years, watching our grand mental constructs and world theories soar, spin and collide, great smashing collisions. Our opinions have come together, shifted, fallen apart and come together again.

We have come to comfortable silence, easy laughter, making fun of each other and ourselves. We have talked into the late hours of the night and explored any esoteric region of human experience.

Now my best friend, Jeffery W. Nelson, has come to the world of blogging. Seeing his first week speak of the poetry of Scott, Chesterton, Chinese artifacts, Seattle opera and learning to read, I’d say the electronic version is going to do fair justice to the man.
The Church: Living and Dead
What does the local Baptist Church think it means when the recite the creedal statement, “and I believe in the communion of saints”?
To Surrender
“Was it worth it?” she asked.

And I didn’t know. It was hard to think of it in those terms.

It hurt. It was hard. It was my duty. It needed doing and I was the one to do it. I fought with it and I endured it. It was something I did and something I had to do.

“Well...” I hesitated.


But was it worth it?

There were nights alone when I cursed it. I knew the worst. I knew the worst was true and I had once asked for the burden to be removed, to be withdrawn.

But it was mine: my art, my duty, my being, my role. It was more a part of me for all the cursing and the pain and the struggle. Like a priest I was a servant. The struggle only made me more devout and I no longer questioned the struggle, the pain or the value. I accept all for it was good and I was but a priest at the alter, offering myself for service.

“I wouldn’t change anything.”
A Question of Pomo
Is Derrida ironic?

Jan 30, 2003

I hocked my soul for a $5 five lb box of tangerines, and now I'm happy.

What would the Faustian story be if the desire were for something normal, like a sunny day, a night of sleep or an orange?

Jan 29, 2003

Film: 125; Orthodox: 0
Jared Anthony Cook ought to rename his blog "A Man Against Movies."

That's all he ever talks about.

Those looking for a solid, devestating, point-by-point, it's-so-blinking-obvious-that-you're-stupid response to Cook would do well to read the full body slam by Jon Metzger, senior 'Dale philosophy major, fellow continental philosophy student and one of the most dedicated film viewers I know. I think that makes him intensely humanized by my arguments.

He is one of the best examples of the liberal arts education I know, though not exactly the model Hillsdale sees itself as putting forward. But then, none of my friends and none of the best students fit that model.

Jared, think about this. You're losing this so bad it looks like professional wrestling when they throw chairs.

Metzger responds:
 "Many thanks for your slightly effusive praise of my attack on J. Anthony. Would just like to point out that nobody throws chairs at people in wrestling; they hit people over the head with them, or occasionally (if they're about to try and hit Rob Van Dam with one) they have the chair kicked back into their faces. Throwing chairs is the province of basketball coaches, spec. Bobby Knight. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen anything at all thrown in a wrestling match; probably because it's hard to throw something and make it look painful without it being more painful than they usually want to risk. Of course, they do bend actual everyday metal chairs over each other's heads, so that's probably wrong. Anyway, for a good clinic in how to wrestle using foreign objects (international objects, if you were wrestling on a Turner-owned network) would be any ECW tape you can find, or else Wrestlemania XVII, which is available at Family Video and has a nice hardcore match as well as the famous second Tables, Ladders and Chairs match."

Jan 28, 2003

Wishing for the Grass of Spring

"when god lets my body be

From each brave eye shall sprout a tree
fruit that dangles therefrom

the purpled world will dance upon
Between my lips which did sing

a rose shall beget the spring"
--e. e. cummings
The Face Revealed
Comments on these pictures are appreciated. The top one is a self portrait, which is a complicated thing to do with a hand held digital. I kind of like it though, and unless there's outrage I will probably leave it.
The Taste and Feel of Seattle
Gideon Strauss has an excellent review of a good coffee shop in my area of the county--Seattle's Bauhaus Coffee and Books.

The place has a great view. One looks out past the evergreen standing alone in the lot across the street, past the Space needle, over the Puget Sound and into the mountains. It is the perfect Seattle picture and comes with the Seattle taste of coffe.

My complaint about the place is the poverty of the book's section. It’d be nice if there was an actual book store in the place rather than the faux collection of décor books they currently have. It’d be nice if they had a smoking section too, but Seattle’s generally favorable to sitting outside, at least under the umbrella.

But all in all, Bauhaus is a great place to feel Seattle.
Passing Link
My elation at being lifted to some blogger's "especially enjoyable read" list is deflated when I realize they will, in a little while, remove me.

Then I will wonder if I offended them, realize I would have said what I said despite any demotions, and shrug.

Oh the fleeting foolishness of popularity.

Jan 27, 2003

After the game: Riots, Mayhem, Looting
We have apparently reached the class of the Europeans, judging from the anarchy of Oakland last night.

And I thought the game was violent, dumb and depraved. The game has nothing on the fans. A few highlights from the story:

"Hundreds of police with riot gear, squad cars and helicopters were no match for larger numbers of troublemakers in scattered locations along International Boulevard who set fires, smashed windows and destroyed property, including a McDonald's restaurant that was ransacked and partially burned.

More than 50 blocks of International had stretches of virtually lawless zones nearly three hours after the Super Bowl.

At least 12 cars were set on fire, many windows were smashed, some businesses were broken into and looted, bus benches were pushed over and street signs ripped down as police battled bottle-throwing rioters with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-stun grenades."

"We lost, and that bothers a lot of the young people out here," said Hannibal Willis, a member of the rap group Hazardous Materials. "A lot of them are real Raider friends. I ain't gonna lie -- if we had won, we would have done the same thing, but milder."

"Many revelers, however, said they arrived simply to be part of a post-game party.

A few blocks from the mayhem, Manuel Ramirez stood in the bed of his pickup on International, waving a Raiders flag, with a rap song blaring: '"We're just out here supporting the team."'
Hear the Critic
The Chicago Tribune comes out with answers to the question of movie critics: What are the good for? Is the distance between the critic with discretion and the movie-going masses to great?

I've long defended the role of the movie critic. I have worked as one at college newspapers and always read the reviews before going out to the theater. The critic's word isn't gospel, but it gives me something with which to guess how I'll like it.
Madmen Stuttering past Screamers
O stuttering wordless man.
Silence without punctuation but
a single exclamation
where language will not
come.

Without breath,
sentences with exclamation points.
Screamers left

incommunicado

The silent screamers in
the inferno. The center holding,
universe in madness
of silence.
A Defense of the Modern Narrative of Film
In the beginning, men told stories.

Telling and listening to stories is one of the most primal activities of man, it is the way we explain our world, derive our ethics and find our place in our community. Narratives have always been and continue to be the expression and discovery of the human soul.

From myths to fairy tales to epics to plays to novels to newspapers to movies, stories have had a humanizing role. Stories place our feet on the earth, bare our head to heaven and set us in the company of our fellow men. These stories, rather than depriving us of our relationship to God, men and the present, is what mankind has always used to solidify these connections.

This fundamental role of narrative in the humanizing of humans has continued from the beginning until now, in your local theater.

Films let us into human experience. To be sure, that experience is bad, good and every gradient between. We should not doubt the fallenness of man, but it is the human experience and to be a human, to be in the community of men, we must know that human experience. If we are to live among men then we must know the greatest hopes, the darkest fears and the deepest yearnings of mankind.

With the narratives of film we come to know the pain of atrocities, the heroism of men in difficult times, the service of love and the commitment of family. In the theater we have seen faith and hope, tears and anger, pain and sorrow, joy and victory.

Film has the power to bring one to tears, tears that one ought to have cried if one is to be human among humans. If one has never wept about humanity, how can one pray for men? If I live with my fellows without having felt the pain of men, the trials of men, the straits of men, then I do not know them as I ought. If I have not know the yearnings of men, if I have not known the move of a man’s soul, if I have not known the hope of men without hope, then I will certainly failed and, indeed, have already failed to live in this present world among the community of men.

The depth of humanity in a movie brings us to a fuller understanding of the world, a greater compassion for mankind, a greater knowledge of life. Like the myth-telling of the ancients, we tell and are told these stories and come to find our feet on earth, set in the company of men with out head bared to heaven.

This humanizing power of narratives is at the root of this school’s great books program. Narratives touch us at the essence of our humanity, and the greater narratives reach more deeply. Everyone should read the Odyssey. It moves the soul; it brings one to the face of humanity. The same is true of Traffic. Or Braveheart. Or The Godfather. Or The Man Who Wasn’t There.

They are art—dangerous with the potential to destroy a man and pregnant with the hope of touching his humanity.

It is right to note that film, as the most technologically advanced for telling a narrative, is a dangerous thing. Anything that touches the soul deeply, moving men to love, hate, move, change careers or start a revolution is a dangerous thing. But this speaks not to a rejection of film, but a deep appreciation.

We must respect the power to touch our soul, not refuse it. To refuse is to oppose the primordial telling of stories that give men their place on earth. It is to be against the reading of that book that changed your life when you were 12. It is to refuse the myth that taught you courage and strength. It is to hold forth a cold world where no one tells stories.

Stories are a fundamental need of man. They tell, primordially, of the place of man in the world. A man who isn’t attentive to narratives, who isn’t made of stories in his core, is not fully attentive to the nature of man and his relationship to the world around him.

Go watch a good movie. Let it move you. Cry for love, cheer for strength, feel the cracking of frail humanity. Let the theater teach you of beauty and ugliness, hope and hopelessness, life and death. Let this modern form of the ancient human practice of narrative telling tell you of humanity.
Mr. D. joins the commenting madness. Apparently they'll let anyone do this.

Jan 26, 2003

Hollow Humanity
Watching Fight Club (an excellent movie) again last night I was struck by how devalued was the world of the 90s. Ikea. Support groups. 30-year-old boys. Fatherless. Faithless. Without a place in society.
COMING SOON: A trashing of J. A. Cook's absurd opposition to movies and, it seems, narratives.
Skip the superbowl.

Watch the Godfather.

You think I'm kidding?
Big families are great.

Jan 24, 2003

And then they were talking
Sometimes, comments take lives of their own, departing from the post and the blog and civilization, to stray far and wide over the land.

Jones mentioned anti-smoking in NYC. We spoke of definitions of fascism, top hats and their relation to smoking, the smashing of chairs, the puritanism of Baptists as different from that of Greens, and the meaning of certain Dylan lyrics. Now that it's all over I only wish we'd had time to mention whales, Seattle, jazz, the Steppes, Irish uprisings, and Jesse James' raiding rides with Quantrill.
On the Trane
I have just discovered John Coltrane, who I knew of but had never heard.

Good God man! How come you never told me?

Jan 23, 2003

The Death of a Real Reporter
The kind of man described as "gruff." The kind of reporter who knows everything and reports it. A man with old-style hard work, good stories and a nearness to the people he covered. At 78, this admirable artist of a reporter died.

A reporter’s reporter, as his obit writer describes him:
"His voice came from the bottom of a pit all the way up through the gravel, and by the time it hit your ears, it had settled into a low growl. He smoked like a chimney, had the build of a squat bulldog and the face of a washboard road. That was John York, Reporter with a capital R. Cop beat. Just the facts. Right now."

York was a cop reporter as a reporter who is a man with his hand on the hard-bitten poetry of the crime of men. Hard-nosed. Rough. Investigative reporter. Cop reporter. Newsroom legend. A man who was his job.

York was a man who embodied journalism and embodied it loving the romance of the story, depicting the rhythmic feel of humanity. A man with black ink and black coffee, he reported the world and it was in that inky copy coming off the press in the cold morning while he smoked a cheap cigarette, looking at the smoke rising off the sewer grate, waiting for the first story of the day. Waiting. Watching.

Preparing to again be witness to humanity and narrator for the world.

Another ancient giant of the newspapers has fallen.

May he rest in peace.
Irreducibility, half erased upon a blackboard.

Jan 22, 2003

Do bloggers control contemporary poetry?
Good things

Hope
College
Laughter
Bending bureaucracies
Friends and supporters you didn’t know you had
Philosophy
Faith

Jan 21, 2003

The Real Threat
The Washington Post has uncovered what appears to be solid evidence that bin Laden escaped. Meaning, of course, that we've less reason than ever to think he's dead.

Forget the politics of Saddam. We need to get bin Laden. Want a triumph in the "war on terror"? Get bin Laden.
Watching the Previews
Is it an acceptable practice for the movie trailer to show bits that will not be in the final cut?

Is it deceptive? Is it really a problem?

Does it fall into a sort of pomo multi-narrative thing where the final reading of a film should consider the difference between the promotion and the final film?

Jan 20, 2003

Seeing the musical Chicago has made it big on the big screen, I thought it appropriate to repost my review of August 2002 of the broadway production:

Lots of Muck, Few Pearls in Broadway’s Chicago
A story of murder, lust, greed, corruption, violence, adultery and treachery, Chicago was mostly lame. Telling us little about the human condition, the play gave a viewer scant return to make the dredging about in human muck worthwhile.

I didn’t know much about the play before I went—a friend arranged the tickets and I just said “Chicago, Jazz Age, court trial, Broadway, yeah let’s go”—and maybe that was part of my initial disappointment. I was expecting, well, something else. Rather than being on the way to the point, the debauchery was most of the point.

There were two brilliant exceptions to this, exceptions that made the show worth my half-price ticket.

We are given a good look into the character of Amos, the faithful, dopey, straight, longsuffering and highly boring husband of the adulterous star, Roxie. Amos is a kind man, considered a buffoon by the wild children of Jazz, caring and loving and common. He is completely ignored and pushed over by the world around him and, in the show’s best number, he thinks he is so unnoticed he should have been named Mr. Cellophane.

With great acting and a great number we actually get to see something of the humanity of this man, a man overlooked by his fast and rebellious age, a man terribly old fashioned and ridiculous. Taunted, ridiculed or ignored, Amos could and probably should have been the hero of the show, depicting a man at odds with the shifting world around him

The second bit of work that made the play worthwhile was at the climax of the show when one actor played the entire jury, shifting from seat to seat playing out the foibles of the American public. The actor was a nun praying, a middle-aged woman sympathizing, an old man sleeping and a workingman who doesn’t really care. It was a glorious bit of work hidden in a little sideshow of the three-ring circus of the trial.

But besides those two bits of brilliant work the show was too much “razzle-dazzle”, too much leg, an eminently forgettable score and not much insight into the human soul.
The Newsman's Bias
"We're biased in favor of change, as opposed to the status quo. We're biased in favor of bad news, rather than good news. We're biased in favor of conflict rather than harmony."
Derrida continues...
It seems the Deconstructionist fellow is hot. At least the comments on that post are adding up. In the comments Gideon Strauss is questioning the value of Derrida as compared to other philosophers. My take on this is that he's not someone everyone has to read before they die, but then most philosophers aren't. If he is giving you something when you read him, then read him. If not then move on. Just don't dismiss him out of hand and call yourself intellectual.

Meanwhile, James Brink has gone on a series of shorter posts on Derrida. See posts1, 2, and 3. If there is anything about Derrida's work that those without a specific tendency towards modern philosophy should consider, it is the question of privilege Brink mentions in that last post.

Almost finished and slated to appear later today is a piece of theological work—a consideration of idolatry—that I learned from Derrida.

Now maybe all this Derridian conversation will knock down the highest-ranking search query leading to this blog: Cartesian logic.

Jan 18, 2003

Oh to learn the happy art of inviting one's self over.

Good in almost all areas of life, actually.
Happily Ever After
Ben Domenech is getting married in a week.

I wish him all happiness.

Jan 17, 2003

I find it an outrage that collection takes a more prominent place than communion in the typical Protestant church.

This is, I suppose, reason number 17 on why I am an Anglican.
A Matter of Faith
“So you actually believe the Holy Spirit inspired the councils and stuff.”
“Yeah, I do.”
"He can say that, he’s an Anglican.”

Jan 16, 2003

Derrida: Obvious Intellectual Con Man?
National Review Online is, of course, trashing the new documentary on Derrida because Derrida is an intellectual con artist.

Could be. I'd still like to see the film. While I'm not convinced of the merits of deconstructionism--and am still attempting to understand what deconstructionism is--I'm not ready to ride for it's destruction. The self-righteousness of the NRO piece is a little startling, I think. The man's not just making a claim but a proclamation of self-evident ridiculousness. Anyone who thinks it might not be so is a) conned or b) a joke.

Maybe my reaction to this is just due to my own uncertainty, but to be academic is to know that one could be wrong.

I know that I learned some valuable things from hearing Derrida interviewed (particularly on prayer and theology) in Toronto and I know some intelligent profs who give him some attention. I do hope I get to see the film and am continuing my attempt to understand Derrida.
Old Before my Time
“You’re only 20?” said the man handling my bags at the checkout counter, looking at my license.
“Yeah.”
“Damn. I lost again,” said the clerk.
“I looked at you and I just couldn’t tell,” said the first man.
“Well he’s got a suit coat on man.”
He handed me my plane ticket.
“How you gonna guess he’s 20 if he’s wearing a suit?”
For Sarah, Gideon, Matt and Josh: a commenting system.
If I deny the existence of postmodernism, doesn't that make me very very postmodern?
Religious Persuasion
At school, when probing for one's religious position, we ask "Where do you go to church?" and "Where do you go to church at home?"

The later question tells us what denomination they adhere to, the former tells us what they'll tolerate.

Jan 15, 2003

And Life Abundantly
"Without music, life would be an error."
--Nietzsche

"We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should consider every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh."
--Nietzsche
Damned by our Language
Seraphim wonders if the Latin of the west condemned the western Church to a poor understanding of the Trinity, making us lean towards the heresy of modalism.
First Day of Classes
Taking:

Latin
Math
Philosophy of Mind
Medieval Philosophy
Van Til seminar


The Van Til seminar is interesting in that the prof, Dr. Reist, was a student of Van Til's. Probably the runt, but still one of Van Til's.

I expect the best class to be Philosophy of Mind because the prof, Dr. Jim Stephens, is the best prof I have (I'm comitted to taking one of his classes every semester) and because the class looks like a collection of Hillsdale's smartest.

Update: Looks like I will also auditing a class on T.S. Eliot. Reading the opening of his Four Quartets tonight, I remembered why I loved Eliot when I first read those crazy lines.
Alleged Mosters
What do you call a pardoned convict?
When one is charged but not yet convicted of a crime, one is refered to as alleged to have done the deed. Once convicted they are refered to as actually having commited said acts. Reading a number of comments on those with sentences reduced by Gov. Ryan--harsh comments naming the men monsters or something like it--I wonder, ought these be refered to as having allegedly done the things they were put on death row for, or should they be said to have allgedly not done them?

The most straight-forward method is to say they did this crime and recently recieved a reduced sentence. But in a shorter reference, how is this one to be described?

What is the journalistic approach to someone where the state has reversed or checked its charge of guilty?
The New York Times is violating what journalism holds to be a sacred trust, allowing the CIA to edit a book by a national-security reporter.

A source should never have control over a text. They cannot see it; they cannot edit it. Verification of

The New York Times knows this, has ignored it, and is harming American journalism with standards so sloppy they looks like the standards of a bad high school paper.
Is my home in the emerald hub of the Northwest the land of serial killers? The Seattle Times considers.
Notes in a Museum
The shadows are more artistic/poetical than the exhibit.

The ambiguities of a genative.

Reflections of a spoon.

Jan 14, 2003

For Being Human
It can be a lonely vigil, liking modern art as a conservative Christian. Nathan Wilson over at Credenda is proclaiming the godlessness of all modern work—surely Pollock and Picasso are examples of atheism on the canvass, indeed all but the most classic representationalism is unorthodox—distainfully calling it “Suicide Art”.

Modern art has its flaws, its trash and its hucksters, but such general dismissal is quite lame for any intellignet person. I want to use the Spicer line when defending against these people:
“Rest and look at this goddamned wheelbarrow. Whatever
It is. Dogs and crocodiles, sunlamps. Not
For their significance.
For their significance. For being human.”

But to even give the time to look, considering there may be something in this swirl of dripped paint or that collection of fragmentary cubes speaking intelligently about humanity is, it seems, an unorthodox claim.

I always wonder why these people aren’t all financial supporters of photo-realism, an art that seems to put their classical representationalism to shame, representationally.
Personal MetaBlogging
All right, ladies and gentlemen, we are again running at full blogging capacity with all my link returning to the blog.

Perhaps we will soon have comments, though when I tried that last it destroyed my template. We'll see if I can get some help.

The new motto is a line from Goethe that speaks of the autobiographical and confessional nature writing and, I think, works well for this blog.
The Olive Tree
"Colvin continues his series on historic publishing trade marks with a nice biography of a Reformation printer.

Jan 11, 2003

I'm off to see the wizard.

Will soon be posting from Hillsdale . . .

Jan 10, 2003

"Any work of art that can be understood is the product of a journalist."
--The Dada Manifesto (Tristan Tzara)

Jan 8, 2003

The Perils of Talkng-Regular
The New Repubic highlights the attraction of Sen. John Edwards, the skill of his campaign, and the potential places where he may fall apart. The mantra of "Regular People" may be lame, it may be full of hole and then it may be the winning slogan of a candidate. Is it any poorer than all the winning campaign slogans? Come on. No child left behind? Building the bridge to the 21st century? The New Deal?

All in all, I don't mind having the pols in frenzied debate about what a regular person and what one wants.

Do note Edwards phrase "Regular People" is predicted to become the debate of the primary and possibly the campaign. This isn't bad for an unknown face in the early days of a campaign.
On the bus, the girl read The Great Gatsby.
As I was saying...
Legends of Coffee
I ran accross this marvelous piece in National Georaphic today on the legend and history of coffee. Enjoy a cup while you peruse what is actually quite a history lesson. The "broth of the bean" spread by the major economic and political moves of history. This was a trip of conquest, merchant competition, political gifts, greed gone to theft, smuggling and coffee empires.
Legends of Coffee

Just ran accros this marvelous little piece on
My vote in the 2003 Puddly Award: Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf.

Vote for your favorite read of the year at Powells--the greatest bookstore on earth--and maybe you'll win a $250 gift certificate.


Just remember who told you about it when you find yourself in the Golden Galoshes.

Jan 5, 2003

Sen. John Edwards for Democratic Candidate
Watching the Democratic primary shaping up I've found Edwards to be an interesting fellow, one of the few Democrats I've seen in recent times who looked respectable as a person and viable as a candidate. He looks able to be a workingman's populist without being a radical and perhaps bring the Dems into a serious, well considered opposition.

Edwards is in the rare position of a Senator running as an outsider--which is a strange mix that might lead us to believe one has the experience to give us confidence while not making one guilty of all the internal mess. Certainly Kerry, Daschle and Gephardt have no legitamate place for idealistic talk about what this country needs with a fresh face.

The Democratic party I find attractive--call it the reasonable Democratic Party of Hitchens--and probably the one middle America finds attractive could have the honet young face of Edwards. A party that distrusts well-heeled insiders and believes in hard work, wants to crush Al Queada but isn't so sure about the honesty of the war on Iraq, wants security but isn't throwing away privacy.

Maybe Edwards can be that. I think Liberman had the chance at that kind of role, he's devoutly religious and personally really honorable, but lost a lot in the unilateral pandering of his vice presidency. That and the silly talk of an anti-Semitic backlash.

Edwards seems to be a Democrat who talks of his hard work and his working class origins without inducing laughter. It wouldn't seem, right now anyway, that a Democrat is going to displace Bush, but a clear party leader might help to pull things together for the Dems, clean up the current disarray and give the party some direction. This run of his might be the thing to make the 2004 election interesting and launch Edwards into the top echelons of the party, giving him some say in the direction and a descent shot at 2008.

A good opposition is always healthy and perhaps Edwards can pull that off. He's the most promising candidate I've noticed being bandied in the primary talks. All this is first-glance speculation, of course, but I wish him luck.

Update:
Joshua Claybourn thinks Edwards is but playing at these things and the man’s talk will not hold under scrutiny.

He proposes Gen. Wesley Clark for Dem nomination.

Jan 4, 2003

Small fork-stemmed boats propelled by wooden spoons wound in rubber bands cruised the trough. Losing its balance on the low horizon lay the vanishing vernal day.
Fom Turgenev
Bazarov was on the point of uttering his favorite word, "romanticism," when he checked himself, and said "rubbish."
May he rest in peace
Robert A. Thomas, 75, a trailblazing reporter with The Philadelphia Inquirer who went on to a career in the foreign service, died of heart failure Dec. 21 at his home in Folsom, Calif.
Pavlov and the Dogs
Me, I don't like dogs. There are a number of reasons for that I don't really think are worth going into. But if I were going to have one I think naming the dog Pavlov is hilarously brilliant.

Almost funny enogh to make a fellow reconsider. But not quite.

Jan 3, 2003

Bathos: Insincere pathos; mawkish sentimentality; triteness or trivality in style.
Nolan’s Ideas of Film Making
Delighted by Director Christopher Nolan’s little nonlinear film Following—predecessor to the entirely backwards smashing triumph of a film Memento--I looked him up and found several interesting comments:

“[T]here are very few wide shots, very few long shots, and no establishing shots at all.”

“I think in a novel the first sentence is important. In a film, it is the first image. I think it’s a question about what is cinematic narrative.”

“Instead of just expanding in one direction, [Following] expands in every direction. And the reason that was interesting to me, and the reason it worked instinctively, is because once I started to really sit down and think about what that meant, I realized that that's the way we receive most stories in real life. If you look at the way a newspaper story works, that's how it works. Say you have a headline like "Mountain Bike Stolen," and then you read the story, read another story about it the next day, and then the next week, and then the next year. News is a process of expansion, the filling in of detail, and making narrative connections—not based on chronology, but based on features of the story. There are narrative connections made between props, between characters, between situations, and so forth.”

Perhaps even more than Memento—with its excellent use of the rather cheap trick of reversing chronology—the simple, cheap and stylized Following shows the talent of Nolan and the possibilities of nonlinear narrative. Both works explore the limits of knowledge in unique ways worthy of considering in films worthy of viewing.
The Mind of Man
Looking at logic, we find that humans, in everyday existence, use very little deductive or inductive logic. Normative human mental functions tends towards an entirely unformalizable logic, inference to the best possibility, that takes as premises everything one knows and comes to a conclusion that seems most likely.

Fibonacci spiral And so we hear Descartes swirl to earth in flames. The logic of a mind does not—like a Fibonnaci spiral—expand ever outward to circumscribe everything. Such vast uninterrupted expansion does not picture the ratio of man. Such an unbroken progeneration, growth without death, only exists in the nonexistent Platonic forms of geometry.

Jan 2, 2003

2003
Congradulations to all on a new year.

Jan 1, 2003

One among a growing list
To some, life is a vice (he said to himself on the last day of the year while sitting in a coffee shop smelling the fresh ground beans and tasting the traces of pipe smoke that remain while reading the last few pages of a novel by Herman Hesse).

"Which may be why I enjoy it."
The Myth Before
It is no shocker to hear that Tolkein took his inspiration from the legends of the past, significantly including the Old English Beowulf—but what no one knew until now was that he worked to translate Beowulf into English.

A scholar has recently discovered Tolkein's translation of Beowulf, an unknown work soon to be published and expected to boom.

While I don’t know if this newly uncovered work will give us anything we didn’t generally have about the work or if it will push out Heaney’s translation—considered by scholars the best translation almost universally—anything that makes people read Beowulf is worthwhile.
Philosophy wears a barrel around its middle
Advice for the phiosophy student looking for a job:
Relax, there is very little money involved.