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.

&

and

&

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:
WITTGENSTEIN.

"You see," says Dr. Stephens, "this is Wittgenstein again."
Redrawing our America myth.
Dismissed
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:
Philosophy
Of Grammatology, Derrida
Being and Time, Heidegger
Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty

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

Theology
Bible
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

Randimonium
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
                  Waiting
        waiting
        waiting
                  until
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."