Dec 30, 2002

Tough Journalism
Some real muckraking gets the trash on Portland's officials in an attempt to demonstrate the importance of preserving privacy.
The Art of a Film's Title Sequence
If there were an award for the most artistic title sequence in a movie--and there ought to be, that being where a film makes its first impression--I'd be pulling for the opening of Catch Me if You Can.

It's a perfect little sequence that is simple yet continues to suprise as it goes on. It captures the feel of the movie, preparing us for the film, with an elegant set of bold strokes and colors. The action combines with the list of names quite artistically. This bit of an intro meets all the highest ends of the opening title.

Other favorites (from the past) include the highly artistic title intro to Monster's Inc., which was a fabulous movie all around, and the idea tat's so-creative-you-have-to-wonder-why-you-haven't-seen-it-before that opens Mel Gibson's Conspiracy Theory
Crazy-Orthodox Blogging
A blog roast
So another friend of mine has fallen to the blogging vice, though as a soon-to-be-priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church, he probably doesn't think of it that way. I ought to warn all, however, that he's a little crazy and that crazy-Orthodoxness is coming out in his early blogs.

Just kidding Gug. Sort of. Thought I was thinking something more like "There is a mumble..." for the title.

Cook (Gug in the original Swiss family name.) is also a Collegian editor. At school this is appropriately met with an ”Ohhhhhhhh”. Then they nod politely and don’t make eye contact. In a word, crazy.

My links will one day be in order (sorry, we're working on all that) and he'll go up there with the craziest of them.

Dec 28, 2002

Writing on My Hand
Sitting in a theater, waiting for the show to start, my mouth tastes slightly of pipe tobacco and my mind pounds, attempting to circumference the world.

I grapple with ideas most easily, I think, by talking. It's really the most instantaneous way to measure them. Talking will tell you if it sounds right. I hear the words, adjust them, try them again. Talking—this sort of spontaneous consideration of everything that arises—will show how something sits with the rest of the world. You can't do these things in your own head. It just doesn't seem to work that way.

Working over a concept of the way narratives typically attempt the epic and miss the details, I want someone to talk to but, being alone, write notes on my hand instead. It looks a little creepy, notes about epic details crawling over my hand.

The problem with talking is the words get lost. To really accumulate, to build on the last thing you talked about, you need the cohesion of talking to a single person. This is hard to do when life is scattered between two states and everybody's transient, mostly me but everybody else too. It’d be nice if there were one person to talk to and we’d have the cohesion of the conversation between us.

But that’s not happening, which means I discard cohesion and run half a dozen conversations simultaneously. In my head. Some of this is good because these half a dozen different friends have different bodies of knowledge to contribute. It'd be better if it were all one conversation—maybe with my friends all each-others friends, sitting around talking. As it is I typically bring bits of one conversation to another, either giving a lengthy introduction or just kidnapping the last conversation to perform in this one. I mentally collect all the conversations together, trying to make them dance in my one-ring circus.

All of the discourses are accumulating, growing my understanding of the world while I try to synthesize them into a single world. And I try to keep from becoming six different people. That may be the point of all the attempts at bringing it together, Sartre’s idea of self being manifest against others and the unity of self needs the consuming one-to-one relationship to manifest in wholeness. Which is just to say that I am really trying for cohesion here.

Which means I sometimes write on my hand. This, as I add another line to my palm about the artistry of the Modernists in Europe, is the overflow of my mind attempting to crest in a single dance.

The blog is like that. It’s like writing on my hand.
An old fish limping on a gangrene foot.

Dec 27, 2002

Concluding LOTR
...and in the last few pages we see the evil hobbit is known to be evil by his dislike of beer and right is restored to the shire with a bontiful harvest of tobacco.

There are trees too, of course, but the real evidence of the good life is in the weed.

Dec 25, 2002

JOY TO THE WORLD
Mary, Bearer of God and Christ
Considering the Mark of Quotation
In the business of the newspaper one develops linguistic biases. At school I am known for my anti “that” and “which” rhetoric, and my adoration of “the,” “and” and “said,” the greatest English words. I have not been so aware of our punctuation prejudices. Reading The Elements of Typographic Style, I was surprised by a section on the quotation marks. Elements of Typographic SyleAuthor Robert Bringhurst is not a large supporter of the quotation mark, thinking they tend to be ugly and distract from the text. Reporters, I note, depend heavily upon the quotation, an invention of the 16th century becoming quite popular in the Baroque and Romantic periods of typography. For the art of newspaper writing, we need the quotation, the period and the comma.

Others are important, certainly, but we rarely are in need of the colon, the semi colon, the dash or the parenthesis. Brackets and slashes are, essentially, verboten, as are exclamation points. Interestingly, those points are called screamers by typographers. Some of these I like—the dashes being eminently handy for parenthetical clauses—but they are of little use in the stripped-down work of the newspaper. What we need are the practical work and solid labor given daily by the period, the comma, and the quotation marks.

Bringhurst had an interesting bit about the history and the variety of the quotation. Granting the importance of the things, I’ve known them only in an American way. The English have a similar system, but use a single mark to open and close a quotation, using double marks for material quoted within quotes. (This being the reverse of the American method.) Looking across the continent we see the long opening dash (—A very good idea, he said.), a normal method around Europe. In French and Italian the colorfully named duck foot quotations are used, either singly or doubly, (<> he said.). Germans sometimes face the duck foot quotations, also called guillemets, the other way. More commonly, the Germans use base line double commas to open a sentence and American-style quotations to close (,,After robbing the bank, we need to buy a beer,” he said.). In the Renaissance differing typefaces were used to distinguish quoted material from text, typically italics (Mr. Smith is a cheap suit, he said.).

If local custom were not an issue, I believe I’d opt for the French/Italian system—I like the way the guillemets look on the page.

For a review of the book, see Typebooks excellent review.

Dec 24, 2002

Orthodox Schismaticism
A group of Orthodox monks unfurl a banner reading "Orthodoxy or Death," turning the 1,000-year-old Mt. Athos monastery into an Alamo for the ultra-Orthodox opposed to ecumenical moves of the partiarch.

What can we say? These monks aren't the only Orthodox schismatics and it's a bloddy small minority that's worried Eastern Orthodox might, gasp, talk to the rest of the Chrsitian world.

A rampant sign of liberalism, to be sure.
Continental Philosophy Final Exam
This was a take-home for Dr. Jim Stephens. Here are the four most interesting sections, with a look at Phenomenology.


Facing the Collapse of Rationalism
The crisis, called modernity, was the self-collapsing of rationalism upon itself. It was the moving through rationalism to find its insufficiency in dealing with the world. The modern world, progressing with the self-meta narrative of H. G. Well’s history of man as a story of man’s incredible upward progress, came to the pinnacle of the early 20th century. The rationalism of man’s using his mind to circumscribe everything, of using the mind and the scientific method to approach the world, climbed to the 20th century, what should have been the greatest of all ages. The manifestation of this age, though, was not the glowing of human existence is the best of all possible worlds, a world created by the huge effort of man’s use of his mind. Man conquered all. He faced the world as its master.

And as they watched the world began to crumble, as it fell apart. A generation grew sick within their soul , recognizing the world that had contained the faith of men was falling apart under it’s own weight. They watched the creature they had produced reach outward until it breaks away from the master and, like Yeats’ falcon and falconer, broke beyond its master. The world fell apart and there was no solidity. The progress of men was towards a wasteland. It was a vision of an apocalyptic vision of a “blood-dimmed tide.” Those 20 centuries leading to this modern pinnacle were centuries of “stony sleep” leading to the hour of a rough beast. They were the rocking of a vexed cradle to hide from of us the nature of our world, our reason and ourselves. This was historically manifested in WWI, with an age being fulfilled in the hopelessness of the death of the best minds of a generation stretched out in the bloody shit of the trenches of France.


The Beginning of Phenomenology
Edmund Husserl’s project is a project of developing a rigorous science that really deals with humans as humans. In this it is intended to be an answer to the crisis and distinguish itself from of prior philosophical positions. It will put humans in the center again, not reducing them to biology or mathematics. It will deal with the world as a human world, it would deal with the spiritual without a complete fragmentation, without the separation of man from those spiritual things that made him man. This science, this first really human science, would be different from the knowledge of the enlightenment and rationalistic knowledge by its avoidance of what Heidegger called “enframing,” the misconstruing and misinterpreting of the unconcealed. This is the danger of taking causality, biology, math, or any science or technology and using it to explain things it cannot really explain. It is this way that we get Pascal’s reference to the philosopher’s God as opposed to the God of any faith, a distortion or an obscuring of something by the reference to it. This science/philosophy, this really rigorous human knowledge, will meet man as man and not man as causality, math, biology, or any other enframing, reducing him or exalting his explanation. Man is not his explanation. We want to know the man and not the gesture at man, not the explanation of him. This would be the first real look at man, and in that be distinct from prior philosophies, and answering the crisis of the self-collapse of rationalism.


Enframing: The Rejection of Scientism in the Development of Phenomenology.
Heidegger finds Husserl’s project mistaken because of its approach to world as an enframing science and not as a new way of thinking. Husserl breaks neither from the western philosophical tradition nor from the problems of scientism and the over-extension of rationalism that lead to the crisis. Husserl’s project is still an attempt at a rigorous science, an attempt at a thorough explanation of man, meeting some sort of scientific standards that bring us to understand man as the sum of his quantitation. This project of phenomenology, before Merleay-Ponty and Heidegger rescue it, is a project that sees the problems of the decentering of man, that sees the problem of the enframing that claims man is, essentially, the explanation of man, yet seeks to respond with a mostly similar method. Husserl’s rigorous science is no less guilty, or would be when thoroughly developed, of an enframing that denied the man of being man as man. Husserl turns to science and that science, that rigorous and falsifiable science displaces the man, obscuring him and his unrevealed nature. Husserl is still seeking an objectivity that speaks of Descartes or Kant, placing him firmly in the tradition despite all his radical aspirations.

Heidegger’s phenomenology is a phenomenology dealing with epistemology as a mode of thinking, not as a new science. Heidegger’s phenomenology speaks of worlding of the world, of beings “brought into unconcealment.” As he says, “Color shines and wants only to shine. When we analyze it in rational terms by measuring its wavelengths, it is gone. It shows itself only when it remains undisclosed and unexplained. Earth thus shatters every attempt to penetrate it.” Heidegger thus takes intentionality far enough as to destroy hoped-for science of phenomenology. Things exist as themselves, not as the scientific way we measure them. A color is its shining, and not the measure of its wavelengths. A stone is a stone in its burden, in its rest, but not in its weight. Heidegger seeks a new way of thinking that will escape enframing. Husserl’s project has none of this.


Embodiment in the thought of Merleau-Ponty and St. Irenaeus
Looking at Merleau-Ponty’s thesis of embodiment as central to the nature of lived experience, we find striking similarities with the early church fathers, particularly the anti-Gnostic writers such as Irenaeus. That the two talk of embodiment at all is surprising when it is considered that the body is ignored in all serious academic considerations for the bulk of the western tradition, with the west’s strong propensity towards dualism. From the time the church’s early teachings on embodiment fade in the philosophical world to the time of the phenomenological projects, the body is ignored.

In the teachings of the church, specifically the work of St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, we find embodiment takes a vital role. Fighting the early heresy of the Gnostics, an extreme from of dualism, Irenaeus presents the embodiment of man as integral to who he is. Speaking of the salvation of man, Irenaeus opposes dualism with orthodox soteriology: “For the Gnostic view of salvation does not include the flesh; but if the flesh is not saved, nothing of man is saved.” There is no man separated from the embodied man. This theo-phenomenology is the founding of the two great dogmas of the Christian church, the incarnation and the resurrection. This embodiment is shown in the patristic church by their honor of the martyrs, the emphasis on the physical suffering of Christ, the insistance on the embodiment of Christ, and the necessity of physical acts of liturgy as a primary way of knowing the truth of the faith. The Gnostic proposed soteriological dualism, Christological dualism, and metaphysical dualism. Irenaeus opposed them on all of these, calling them blasphemous and claiming the church never held such things. Irenaeus opposed them stridently, avidly supporting this theo-phenomenology as vital.

This position of Irenaeus,’ the all surrounding importance of embodiment, is a position Merleau-Ponty speaks of when he says, “we are through and through compounded of relationships with the world.” Merleau-Ponty speaks to the fundamental and primordial position of embodiment when he posits that our very consciousness (profoundly contradicting Descartes’ a priori ego) comes from our embodiment in world.

We find meaning, Merlau-Ponty tells us in a statement that backs and supports Irenaeus’ attack on dualism, in our embodiment in the world. Dualism, they agree, is an abstraction that distorts or destroys meaning while truth and epistemological knowing come from an in-the-world embodiment.



1 Herman Hesse. Steppenwolf. New York: Henry Holt, 1963. Pgs 21, 22.
ii William Butler Yeats. The Second Coming. The Mentor Book of Major British Poets. New York: Penguin, 1963. Pg. 426.
iii Ibid.
iv Ibid.
v Ibid.
vi Husserl, Vienna Lecture 9.
vii “I am certain that the European crisis has its roots in a misguided rationalism.” Husserl, 7.
viii Martin Heidegger. Basic Writings. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1993. Pg. 331.
ix Ibid. See specifically the mention of causality distorting God in its enframing.
x This strikes a profoundly similar note as that of Derrida on speaking of God.
xi The entire Phenomenology movement, notably Merlau-Ponty and Levinas in addition to Heidegger, reject the Husserlian version of the project.
xii Class notes, Sept. 10, 17.
xiii This quanatation may be any sort of science, especially including biology, physics, math, or economics. This, however, is no short list. Heidegger particularly brings out philosophy for chastisement on these grounds.
xiv Husserl is 40 percent Descartes and 40 percent Kant. Class notes from Sept. 10, 17.
xv Heidegger 181.
xvi Ibid. 172.
xvii Against Heresies.
xviii Gerard Vallee. A Study in Anti-Gnostic Polemics: Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier, 1981. Pg. 18.
xix Ibid. 27.
xx Ibid. 21, 22.
xxi Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenology of Percepion. London: Routledge: 1958. Pg. xxii.
An image large enough
"To make a start,
out of particulars
and make them general, rolling
up the sum, by defective means—
Sniffing the trees,
Just another dog
among a lot of dogs. What
else is there? And to do?
The rest have run out—
after the rabbits.
Only the lame stand—on
three legs. Scratch front and back.
Deceive and eat. Dig
a must bone

"For the beginning is assuredly
the end—since we know nothing, pure
and simple, beyond
our own complexities."


"They think, and to they think, they believe, is to be profound. A curious idea, if what they think is profitable to their thinking they are rewarded—as thinkers.

"But who, if he chose, could not touch the bottom of thought? The poet does not, however, permit himself to go beyond the thought to be discovered in the context of that with which he is dealing; no ideas but in things. The poet thinks with his poem, in that lies his thought, and that in itself is the profundity.” William Carlos Williams, Paterson.
Xmas, or If English was good enough for Jesus...
I used to think Xmas was an abreviation designed to remove Christ from the word, now I am ashamed of my ignorance. With a little Greek knowledge (little meaning very little) and some time in an Anglican Church, I realize that Xp is a common Greek abreviation for Christ (X being chi, which makes the English ch sound. P is rho, which has the r sound) and not just a random crossing out of a name.
Before Eve
As my eccentric and sometimes silly family says:

Merry Christmas Adam!

But what else are you going to call the day before the day before Christmas?

Dec 21, 2002

Does Lucas cry at night when he thinks of Peter Jackson?

Dec 20, 2002

As if I were a fanatic
I went to see the Lord of the Rings at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, and was happy to see it again at 8:15 p.m. that same day.

The first viewing was in Michigan, the second in Washington, with a full day of flying and waiting and airports and driving in between.

I loved Gollum, especially.
“You comin’?” the coffee-riven voice said out of the bus.

I stuttered for a moment. In that second, I saw the door open again behind the boy, and the yellow-and-white polka dot dress reached out and hugged the boy, who fell into his mother’s arms. “Yeah, I’m coming,” I said.


The Hat has a particularly nice piece, a short story heavy with description and light on little narrative drive, by Youssef Sleiman.
The Replacements

Personally, I didn’t take an immediate liking to any of these new designs of proposed (and, I guess, considered) World Trade Center replacements.

Some of them are disgusting, but mostly I just don’t know. I have only a cursory knowledge of architecture, and but a layman’s feel for would be inspiring and timeless.
The age to height ratio isn't as good as it seems, when you're 5-years-old.

Dec 18, 2002

I'm messing with the colors and layout here, so pardon me if things look a little strange for a few days.
The Day After Today
I'll be with my family for Christmas...

Dec 16, 2002

Apostolic Succession Paper
My paper on apostolic succession is now up. With no response from the prof and having not yet gone back to it, I really have no idea how tight my arguments are and how well it all works together.

Dec 12, 2002

To be a reporter
Around 50 angry readers come into the office. They were invited to a editorial meeting to discuss coverage of local police, but decided to demonstrate inside the newsroom instead. The guard is overwhelmed. A few staffers are roughed up. One demonstrator pulls out a bull-horn and begins to lead chants from atop the editor's desk.

And the news photographer takes a few pictures.

There's the heart of being in it for the story. That's real journalistic spirit.

Dec 11, 2002

When it Works
It's nice when things come together, when the text comes out to meet you and prove your points. It's sweet when a position that might have required some pulling into shape, when it might have needed a particularly shakey leap, instead works out easily and looks to be the simplist of positions.

When it Doesn't Work
It's terrible when things slow, when writing grinds and your papers sticks out a giant red tongue. The demons come out of the corners of the dark room and laugh at you, pointing out your deadline and the clock and the number of arguments you aren't covering. They prod your confidence until it goes limp.

I'm using Timothy, Titus, Judas and Ireneaus to prove Apostolic Succession is a NT/early church instituition structured to preserve the faith. It's due in the morning and will be posted as was the last paper for NT Ethics.

Dec 10, 2002

Goodbye
I'm now crawling into my hole to write a seven page paper (due in the morning) on Apostolic Succession. After that I have to finish a rewrite of an art paper and then turn out the weekly Collegian . . .
Blue Collar Reporter
The natural sympathy that most journalists feel for the underdog and for the downtrodden prevents the media from ignoring the poor. The fascination that the American public has with the rich and famous prevents the media from ignoring the upper strata of society. But newspapers seldom write about the middle class, the working class -- white- or blue-collar.

David Shaw at the L.A. Times looks at reporters missing the middle class, the working class. This is especially true, it seems of the cultural conservatism in most Americans have, manifesting itself in their spiritual focus and their economics.

This piece does have the strange move of putting the good news of descent paychecks put in a bad light, though.
Bigfoot: An all in one crime deterent and tourist attraction.

Dec 9, 2002

Happy Dance
A freshman proposes over lunch that we return, one day, to dance on this professor's grave.

It sounds like a good idea to all of us.
In a large dark house with skeletons
Listening to organ music while reading a little Heidegger, I feel like one of those highly educated madmen.

Or maybe the pressure of the end-rush of school is just getting to me. Or already has.

I've two and a half papers due in the next three days, plus the newspaper comes out one more week. After that I have one day off, then Latin and then the weekend. I'm taking my Latin final on Friday 13 and my prof thinks that's pretty funny, proving again that Satan is disguising himself as a Latin prof at Hillsdale.

After the weekend I have two and a half take home exams and one and a half regular finals (New Testament Ethics is divided between take-home and in-class). Once that insanity has passed, I fly home. On Wednesday I will fly from Detroit, through Phoenix and into Seattle, where I will sleep for two days after seeing Lord of the Rings II with my sister and oldest brother.

Expect the next week's posts to be here, but with a higher craziness ratio.

Dec 8, 2002

Seattle Times picks the best novels of the year.
Seeking the Enframement of Science
Wendell Berry has a new book out, a book on the role of of science as a national faith in our lives. Read the excellent review over at CINO.

I like especially the way Berry doesn't propose the rejection of science but the limitations of science be rejected--what Heidegger speaks of as enframement.

Dec 7, 2002

The Art of the Web Page
Eveyone seems to be redesigning. Note the new work of arts that is Hats.

I'm feeling the need but, alas, things will have to wait for funding.

Actually once I win my $100 bet that Mrs. Clinton doesn't run in the next race, I'll claim a redesign from my poor friend.

Dec 6, 2002

Feel them in your mouth, feel the sounds coming up anew through your throat and enjoy the beauty of the sentence

That boy is the boy that I told you about.

If I owned the circus.

Five months ago and I'm still laughing.

Mommy, is that a Picasso?

Snow is white.
Source References
Christians should criticize the philosophy they find in, say, movies, if they don't know what the philosophy is about. One really really quick and easy way to tell if they know what they're talking about is to check their references. If they're talking about what Sartre thinks and aren't reading Being and Nothingness, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

One of my professors has an excellent rule--one that got him into Merleau-Ponty and Pollock--if multiple people tell you someone's work is not worth paying attention to, go read them for yourself.
The End
My friends are more religious than their parents. They tend towards are older and higher form of church than their parents. They are more politically conservative than their parents. They are more educated than their parents and more devoted to education than their parents.

And none of that is comparing them to their parents when they were young.

They said the end was coming, back when rebellion spoiled over and nihilism set in on middle America's children. But they were wrong. Like much of the Boomer generation this seems to have been a serious over-estimation of their own significance.

The revolution has been rejected, mostly, by the Internet Generation and will pass away with little, thank God, permanent influence on the direction of society.

Much of this is, I suppose it could be argued, only the result of my circle of friends, a circle with mostly hippie parents that came down and became fairly conservative and had a bunch of good kids. But as I look beyond my circle I see many similar trends, consider this new article by News Week hailing the end of the sexual revolution.

Always there is hope, Dr. Schaffer, always.
The Distinctions
I am a reporter, not a journalist. I work for newspapers, not the media.

Make sure you're damning the right people.
The ambiguity of the genitive . . .
Razor extras
Just when we thought that they would never revive themselves and wondered if we should--just to ask if they were okay--they turn up at RazorMouth with new-and-improved super-powers.

Dec 3, 2002

The Muppet Joke's on You
I hate quizes. I sometimes take them but then I despise them (and I never post them).

So I spiked this one. Now it's accurate and it fits my mood. Ha!

You are Statler or Waldorf!
You don't like dealing with most people, preferring to ridicule other people along with your equally misanthropic friend.

Roses by any other color
Seraphim puts his favorite new Oxford English Dictionary word on display and, in a strange twist, I come to the defense of science.

Of course, I agree with everything the illustrious Mr. D has said about science, so my defense is a little odd. I think blue roses are nice though.

Dec 2, 2002

Prayer
Totonto Conference notes VI:
Derrida problematizes the question of prayer and of his prayer, speaking of the doubt that is in the faith of prayer:

...suspended belief, not knowing if or who will answer. . . not the way I order a pizza. . .

It is a hopeless prayer on one hand--totally hopeless and I think that's what it should be--and on the other hand there is hope.

. . . this is the act of praying in the desert.

There is obviously calculation despite the uncalculatable hopelessness. It is a calcualtion that tries to incorporate the incalcuable.
To know is to do
Toronto Conference notes V:
Orthodoxy without orthopraxy is not orthodoxy.
Wrestling with our Presence
Toronto Conference notes IV:
Every age is unhappy . . . The alienation of our time. . .
Nostalgia for the identity that is being eclipsed.

Lyricism - Poetry:
can take us out of the world or in

a manufactured community to get to the coherence of eden.
Either a utopian past of future.
- - -stand in his disintergration . . . trying to find coherent man

. . . looking/longing for eden

or eschatological heaven


BEING, in a moment of time.

(Saved by the invention of poets and heros).
Problematizing Thereness
Toronto Conference notes III:
What is the "there" that we speak of when we shudder at the lack that is Oakland?
On proof that the martyrdom text exalted the mother
Toronto Conference notes II:
For her the misogyny of the Jewish text was unfalsifiable.
Linear Circles
Toronto Conference notes I:
Myth, to be complex enough to reach an understanding of humanity, is contradictory, enigmatic and ambiguous.

Myth needs the almost incoherent mixing of explanations; the natural enigma of human existence.
Depending from the line
The pitch patern in an actors guide turns a common sentence into free verse.
Nation of Primary Colors
An excellent piece by Sullivan on America and Thanksgiving reminds me why I read Sullivan.

Nov 30, 2002

Drunk on Life
Real men know how to toast the world with a buttered dinner roll.
Engaging the world and drinking coffee
In the middle of a project--or anyway researching it--about the New York Intellectuals and their intellectual growth as a group, I'm struck by the rise and fall of public intellectuals. I'm marking how the intelligents who comment on and critique our world are all either pundits or academics. We've shurely lost the in the street feeling of the intellectuals who were both antipopulists and looking for a public discourse.

In some ways blogs have given rise to public intellectuals again--think of the oft repeated coffee house comparison--yet normally we still fall into these two catagories, with a third contingent of self-referential writers who really aren't commenting on the world.

The ever-present all-consuming politics tends to show itself here, too. Many who would be great commentators are seized by politics and see nothing else. The world shrinks for these and they never touch literature, art, education, church, housing, or the myriad of things that make up our world. Politics prevades and the whole of life goes wanting for some public discourse.

I find this intellectual engagement of the world at school and among my friends. Ocassionally I'm told I'm odd, searching out such a diffuse spread of subjects, but I deny that and am certain privately public intellectuals exist in book stores and coffee shops and colleges and newspapers all over.

If only a few more of them would do this engaging in public.
Linear Drive
"What does it mean?" they said, asking the wrong question.
The End
Of a Generation

he turned down the radio and
it was over, done
the revolution had passed.

Nov 28, 2002

Craziest Guitar
Go turn along the Watchtower for that Purple Haze Experience, Jimi would have been 60 today.

Nov 22, 2002

Plans, so-called
As it snows around me, cold white Mich. snow, I am preparing to head to Toronto in my first trip over that northern border. I am attending a philosophy conference with a number of profs and students from Hillsdale, a conference where the "scary person" Derrida, a deconstructionist, is speaking.

I hope to run accross Gideon Strauss and then catch a U. Penn. ride to my Thanksgiving holiday with my uncle's.

If anyone ever told you I wasn't a little loco, tell them they were lying.

I will enjoy it all and laugh at the insanity while reading a bit of poetic philosophy.

Update & etc.
I survived, though without seeing Strauss or getting a ride to Philly. The American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Languages sessions were great, with highlights being those on the purpose of Christian ritual, a debate on Christ's presence in Communion and talk of the philosophy of Mass media. Derrida was interesting and gave me some material to think through and I bought a good book about typography (an amature interest of mine). More to come, complete with transcribed notes!
A High Church Verse
"For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my
name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall
be offered unto my name, and a pure offering, for My name shall be great
among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts."
We are as poor as poets, but we discard even respect for love of the craft
I think of journalism as an art form. I believe in story telling and journalism is, at it's best, the way we tell ourselves the stories of our world. I hold to journalism as a poetry capturing the texture of common life. Journalism is, or can be, the narrative we live in.

I believe in the mornings when a man discovers humanity in the newspaper.

Coming out of a period of seriously double-checking my life in journalism, I find three reasons to remain here in the land of newsprint. 1) I know the worst about journalism, know it's true and love it anyway. 2) My ability to be a great journalist has, repeatedly, been confirmed. 3) Stories are the fundamental way in which man learns of himself and the world around him.
When the Music Left My Life
Someone stole my CD collection. Mine was small by comparison to many, 40-50 CDs in a single case, and unique enough to make the robbery fairly strange. Much of my folk music was pretty eccentric stuff.

I curse that nameless theif.

Now the sound track of my life seems to be that deaf dumb and blind boy playing pinball. Tommy was safe in the computer's disc drive.
Jonah's wet socks
An unsigned editorial I wrote, with particualr rhetorical flare, for this weeks Collegian.

In the last nine months, what we’ve been getting from National Review is as formulaic as a cheap novel. Just change the names, adjust the times and run the killer plot you used last issue.

Come on guys. Try some new ideas. Surprise us with an unusual assessment. Hit something in some way that makes us sit up and look at this magazine.

Then we’ll send in those resubscription notices.

Take Victor Davis Hanson. In the days after the attacks of Sept. 11 he was awesome. His brand of historical, military and political analysis, brought to the present crisis, was astute, sharp and eminently applicable. And then he plagiarized himself, ripping off his own articles again and again. It became a system like those mass-produced nickel novels. Plug in the bit about bad guys, get in the section about WWII, mention your favorite battle and draw connections to President Bush’s recent speech.

By November we were bored.

Of course there have been exceptions. Rod Dreher has gone on kicks having nothing to do with the oft-hackneyed NR topics, exploring granola, dispensationalism and Catholicism. John Derbyshire, typically a stodgy defender of the plotted line, has occasionally strayed, writing really interesting and enlightening bits about math and humor. But most of this is buried, found in unadvertised corners.

Take the latest cover stories. We have the Anti-American series with the Canadian, Korean and European editions. These things should be considered and responded to, but couldn’t they have been handled in one consolidated assessment?

What we have here is the crotchety old man’s monologues about the bastards who don’t like us, the stuffy repetitions of our righteous cause.

Perhaps we are only upset here because it seems conservative hip has died along with those trees the magazine is printed on.

NR has lost the hipness it had with the introduction of Jonah Goldberg and NR Online. In those days Americanism was defended with talk of cheap American beer and the French were maligned with pointless stories of squirrels in the park. In those days there were random and interesting crusades against Andrew Sullivan or Lew Rockwell and company. In those days they were hot and unpredictable. In those days we didn’t know what was going to be on the cover by looking at the last three.

The old gray-suited men have slogged down NR. They have saturated this magazine until reading it feels like walking around in wet socks.

The hipness has left, and we aren’t inspired to pay for another year of those wet socks.

Nov 20, 2002

Books: The First Vice
If I'm going to go broke--and I am--it had better be in a book store.
Question of Culture
Is culture the false front added to our cheap constructions?

Nov 18, 2002

Participation with the Text
Jonathan Mayhew is working on a blog project that I find facsinating, writing about the slips of paper found in books.

I plan to follow this and, who knows, participate with a few of my own.
Return of the Eastern Orthodox Classicist
Seraphim appears to be back online. We'll see if he keeps it up, but for now he has some interesting stuff over there.
In Our Prison
We speak to each other as inmates.

"Whatch gonna do when you get out?"

Nov 17, 2002

Meaningless Black Omen
There's a black crow in the road, eating a black squirrel. That's what we see when returning to school.

It sounds like a poetic image, it sounds like a Dylan song. But it doesn't mean anything except that one of the crazy looking squirrels we have here, little black ones I've never seen anywhere else, was run over and is now being eaten.

To call it an omen is a joke.

In the movies this shows us ignoring the approaching evil, like not listening to the music all the viewers hear and know evil is coming.

But we don't believe it means anything. But this dead squirrel and this feating crow, both black, hold nothing. They are just dead. To us it doesn't mean anything.

Nov 15, 2002

Living for the Story
He said all I cared about was the paper but I am a journalists and didn't think it was an insult.

"The only thing that matters is the story, the one for tomorrow's paper."
Stratagizing in the Comments
Josh Claybourn looks to be leaving the land of Blogger woe to the happy vally of Moveable Type.

I'm not sure why, but Mark Byron and I are talking about Risk stratagems on the comments section of that post. If you enjoy risk enough to follow comments about the point scale difference between Asia and Africa, take a look. Or, if you'll play me, go and note how much of my stratagy I've just given away.

The key is solid defense with the chance of a crushing assault and a hard drive to victory. And lots of sixes, people, lots of sixes.

Nov 14, 2002

"That's not a very novel position," he said.

And then I felt better about it.

Nov 13, 2002

Written Influences
Exploring the books that have influenced me, with influencing meaning they marked a change in my growth and they still speak to me today, I've come up with this list of five:

If I Ran the Circus, by Dr. Suess
I could have chosen any of the master's books but this is my favorite. From Dr. Suess I learned the feel of language and the beat of a sentence. Anything I know for how writing is supposed to sound and how poetry feels began here.

A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe
Wolfe replaced Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men, In Dubious Battle) as the literary figure in my life, the one who could tell a story about real people with the texture of real life. Wolfe was and is a directional push for how my journalism comes. In the last year or so his style has inspired me and driven me and influenced the best of my journalism.

Paradise Restored, by David Chilton
Religiously and philisophically, the book that represents my move out of Evangelical and Anabaptist circles and into an older Christianity, out of a Christian ghetto and into the world. This book and its Postmillenialism gave me the grounding to engage the world, to seek the triumph of Christ. It was with this grounding that I could engage in politics and then, as my education grew, in philosophy and journalism. The new optimism these ideas had also saved my from a very real and very destructive personal pessimism and defeatism, changing my personality.

St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox, by G.K. Chesterton
A passage in this book--about a paragraph and near the end--pushed me into Anglicanism and founded in me an understanding, and adherence, to the old sacramental Christianity. Chestertons bit about the crucifix, the juxtoposition of the great dogmas of incarnation and ressurection, is continually intellectually valuable and brought a spritual component to my life that had been weak or missing before.

Phenomenology of Perception, by Maurice Mearleau-Ponty
The most recent growth: the introduction--the only part of this book I have yet read--has inspired a reworking reexploration of my ideas of meaning and the value of a story. This Phenomenology, which I've written about here (most notably in Referential Totality), is filling out a lot of ideas I already had, creating more of a holistic understanding of the life and working with my understanding of the place of story telling.
From deep in the belly
I hated everyone, feeling the bile and anger.

Then I laughed and took a nap and it was fine.

The miracle of a good laugh at life...
Because of Heidegger
Learning to use nouns as verbs...

Nov 11, 2002

PICASSO replica
I am turning in my replica--a pencil drawing--of Picasso's Poet (Man with Pipe), which I drew last night. If I knew how to post it here I would, and perhaps in the future I will. In the meantime, consider this bit of cubism.
Rhyming poetry feels pompous, today.

Nov 10, 2002

Gray Downpour
They curse the rain soaking their hair as if it melted their gods.

I stop and stand in the rain, letting the water come down, meeting my head with force.

Falling water beating earth. Rushing water swirling the stream in the street.

The poetry of rain soaks my sweater. Beading up it dribbles down my face.

I know the rain as the joy of rain on my face in this wet medium of the street.
Post Collegian
I write about the complication of some terrorism in the Hillsdale Collegian.

Update: Looks like the hard anti-Chechnya line is continuing and will continue for a while.

Be sure to read the story of Living the poetry of a dead language, my favorite piece (and a good look at Hillsdale) from last weeks Collegian.
That blind, dumb and deaf kid sure plays a mean pinball

Listening to Tommy, I'm impressed by The Who's attempt at dominion by creating an epic myth. The little pieces come together into one story: a story of one child and the story of humanity. The minor narratives intertwine into a single story about perception, about cures and salvations that destroy.

Ever since I was a young boy
I've played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all
But I ain't seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball
When the Witness was Called Yellow
And so we do our jobs. We don’t let ourselves be bullied into hiding news. We cover this college and we do it well.

We—myself in particular—are considered to be hard-hearted devils who don’t care about the world. We are called yellow journalists, scandal-mongers, leeches, irresponsible bastards and generally bad people.

But then, we never asked to be loved.

“Bad” news is still news and hiding information never benefited a community.

We are witnesses. We are here to record life, to tell the story of this school and the people we cover and the way things are. To us a story is only good or bad aesthetically, it's in the telling. If men hate the stories they ought to live different lives.

We will not keep their secrets. We are the witnesses.

Nov 6, 2002

It is a list of words to memorize/or to forget
The ink on my palm is fading as the soap takes black lines swirling down onto the porcelain surface, traces of education in the water falling from my hands.
The unison HONK
When a poem takes its opening from the lyrics of a newspaper story, I can't help but enmjoy it. I was seized by the imagery of this piece my Uncle is reviewing. The pictures and their meanings:

Fluxus is the name of the vapors coming off the cinder fields
meeting the black birds as they come in at night


The sounds of the words--first by themselves and then in relation to each other and then as a sentence--reminds one of those lovely unpronouncable words in that foreign language one will never learn but always admire:

Until you actually say it, unscriptability and New Jersey rhyme.
The State's equilibrium is located elsewhere.


Go read the whole thing.
Grasping at the Sound
I read the poetry of William Carlos Williams as fractured, knowing only the art of the sentence.

Nov 5, 2002

The urge
to cross oneself
as a Protestant.

Nov 3, 2002

Peace
It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's just that I don't feel like saying it.

Nov 2, 2002

Only a few flurries. A few half attempts while the leaves are still turning.

"But," I say to her, "snow doesn't touch my soul like it does people who grew up with it. I need mountains, trees and rain."

Oct 31, 2002

Beyond Literal Ink
He reached for a metaphor, feeling among the Campbell's Soup cans.
Judge the Body Rightly
Communion with the Lord’s Body: Understanding 1 Corinthians 11: 29. My New Testament Ethics paper attempting to define what body we are to judge rightly, is now up. For more papers by others in my class (some interesting, some bombs) see the class site.

Oct 29, 2002

Gorillas
My father's childhood is in a wood-burning kit, something he wasn't ready for. He doesn't know why they let him open it, that Christmas he was 5.

His brother's childhood is in the kitchen, on a counter. That time. The story about the knife. Before he left and they moved out. No one liked Uncle Newton but that comes later, that connection and explaination. The explaination says why it's not about you but (running around the kitchen table) how can you believe that?

It's a about you. And the time before that would explain it, but now that's changed. And they had the same childhood, with different monsters. And they talk of one circle but it has two centers.

For their friend down the street it wasn't a wood-burning kit or a kitchen or a kitchen knife announcing the monster had crawled out from under the bed and yes, there was a gorilla in the living room. For that boy, that little boy who was tough and could fight and his brother had a zip gun, it was his father's shotgun. Or maybe the thing is mundane, ordinary. It was the front porch, the white porch, on the steps, by the door, next to the bushes that grew there then.

It's a gorilla, but it's a gorilla you know. lt's your gorilla. But there's never a good time.
The Madness of Humanity and Communication
"In our family we stammer unless,
half mad,
we come to speech at last"
--William Carlos Williams
The Only Medium
"Be patient that I address you in a poem,
there is no other
fit medium.
The mind
lives there. It is uncertain,
can trick us and leave us
agonized. But for resources
what can equal it?
There is nothing. We
should be lost
without its wings to
fly off upon."

--William Carlos Williams

Oct 28, 2002

As an Anglican
To him, my religious move was a simple series of steps backward into history. We looked at them, my doctrinal unerstandings, and the line became a pretzel.
Hollow Ring
He didn't believe in mystery, the poor man.

He encircled his very small world and there were no flowers there.

And I felt only pity as he spoke without poetry.

Oct 27, 2002

Being Present in my Own Life
Writing about the marginal and often invisible texture of world on his blog, my uncle stresses that these things are not to be tropes or detail along side the driving story, but the whole itself.

"So for me, the quotidian, to call it that (I never think of it as such), is not about adding a layer of texture for the sake of enhancing a reality effect. The invisible or marginal is not adjunct to the work: it is the work itself. I want you to understand that dust bunny in the corner under your desk. The whole of human history can be found there."

In journalism this material is called "color." It is something that poor journalists don't understand, thinking of it as an "enhancing" as "a reality effect" that can be tacked on to a story to improve it. What they miss is the entire narrative caught in that detail. It's not just a detail to add to the "real" story--it is the story in a form of life. The detail is life and the detail is, often times, the connection between our experience and that of someone we read about.

This poet's love for the texture of life, of world, is what began to seperate me from other reporters in my writing. I wrote about a field fire and described the yellow hoses running through a field of grey smoke and the burning "For Sale" sign. I wrote about a bank robber found out the price of the beer he hadn't been able to finish when he was arrested. That price--$1.25--wasn't a factoid, it wasn't an addendum, it wasn't thrown in. It was the story. It was the story of a man and money and drinking a $1.25 draft of beer seven days after robbing a bank.

It's about the texture of world--the bank robbers, mine, the readers--it was about the whole of human histories caught in the detail. Because if we understand and know our world we understand and know things like dust bunnies under the corner of your desk and a glass of beer sitting on the bar.

Oct 26, 2002

The Toledo Adventure
Dan Hugger outlines our Toledo trip on his blog. Yes, we took a road trip to see an art museum and hit a bookstore on a Friday night. Yes, we know we're nerds.

We spun The Who, Dylan, the Beatles, Pedro the Lion, Mighty Mouse, and listened to the window wipers work overtime to clear the glass of that downpour.

The medieval religious art Dan talks about is really good. They have a large collection--better than everything I've seen except the stuff at NYC's Metroploitan Museum of Art--of these icons and alters and church decorations. You can really get a feel for the European gold work done in the Middle Ages, the development of ideas and depictions of Christ. The museum also has a few interesting modern piece. The collection is small enough, though, that the juxtoposition of works is occasionally really strange.

It was a good night, topped with an excellent discussion between Dan, Gaetano and I about Saints, apostolic traditions, the problem of an Evangelical focus on Christianity, the importance of community in the life of the Christian. The only reason we went to sleep at 3:30 a.m. was because we had things to do today.

Update:So it's Modest Mouse and not Mighty. Hugger is slaming my modern music knowledge, which I consider to be finely vauge.
Why Iraq?
Over at Doonesbury they ask the question.

Oct 25, 2002

Post test
The test went okay. I blundered into a few correct answers, strained over a few interpretations, but I think I worked into the B range.
That Kind of School
"porta, portae, portae, portam, porta..."

Half the guys on my floor are studying for Latin tests in the morning.

Oct 24, 2002

The girl stoops, picking a leaf from the grass. Straightening, she holds the orange leaf up for inspection, twirling the stem between her fingers.
Ah, he said, I see you've been in the same mood that I've been in.

Oct 23, 2002

Some Classes I'm Taking Next Semester
PHL 212: Medieval Philosophy
CLS 102: Latin
PHL 410: Philosophy of the Mind
REL 493: Van Til seminar
Mozart Laughed
What would a road be without turns? What would a fight be without a few roundhouses, a few haymakers? What would life be with out a few unexpected twists causing me to stagger?

You have to roll with it. Keep coming back. Push as far as I can.

"So," the man on the gallows says, laughing. "This was life."
Reading the Modernists
It seems that Christian itellectuals have disregarded Modernism, knowing it was bad and feeling free to disregard it.

This disregard seems to come because modernism is seen as the end of the West. What's missed in this brief, though fairly accurate, statement is that modernism wasn't destroying the West but realizing it was destroying itself. Modernism isn't a belief, really. Modernism was the loss of belief that a (large) group of intellectual individuals had in the 20th century. We've said they were evil, liked they torched Europe or something.

When one gets closer to modernism one finds men in shock and horror, observing their world falling to pieces, seeing their triumph was but a wasteland. These men were witnesses to the mass-destruction of a worldview of autonomous reason.

I came here looking for devils, and am finding myself among the shell-shocked youth of 1920s Europe.

Oct 21, 2002

Taking Back the Culture
I've never read the New Chistendom journal before, but it looks really good. I enjoyed reading this issue.

In particular, the piece on middle earth, the postmillenial term for earth positioning this world as the battle ground between the oposing forces of heaven and hell.

Ignore the naive reference to modernism as the destruction of myth and the enemy of medieval Chistianity, but enjoy the site.
Check List
As I prepare to turn in a paper, I find the scrawled note on the desk telling me, in that extra-scrawled scrawl of the late nights, to examine the rhetorical aesthetics of my conclusion.
Returning to the Rush
The pleasure of a few leisurly days of fall break--with movies, regualr reading and long nights--have come to an end and craziness is about to ensue. I have a paper due in the morning on my exegesis of the second half of 1 Corinthians 11 (soon to be posted), a newspaper meeting on Tuesday and preparation for the upcoming issue, an art history midterm on Wednesday and a Latin midterm on Friday. I also need to apply to some major metro papers in the next week and a half.

Life is resuming full speed.
Urbanism/Agrarianism
Hegeman writes on the development of the relationship between Conservatives and environmentalism in an interesting piece, with more mention of the urbanism and agrarianism idea.

Oct 19, 2002

The Swell of Life
The music plays in the dark room as I type.

I feel the poetry, the words and the beat and the patterns as they play.

We're looking for the essence. Not the Platonic form abstracted way out there but the meaning of the thing as we know it, as a part of the world.

The stem of my pipe, a $4 thing I bought at an antique store to learn the art of tobacco, is slightly cracked. Just a hairline. The smoke still draws, filling the air in a curling beauty that reminds me of a womans hair when she's sleeping.

It doesn't look like the hair of a woman sleeping but the poetry is similar.

Heidegger said that language is the house of Being and I don't know what he meant, but if he was right it must have been something like this.

And the poetry brings my world into itself. The narrative forms around us, like the sound of the rain beating on the roof and peppering the window.

The piano pulls away from the music and the poetry of his tired voice works the corners of the dark room. The poetry of it all, of my world, swells and comes to be in silence.
Descartes lives
He thought the concept of geometry without Euclid was silly.

"No it's not. You assume Euclid's axioms. Just stop assuming them and they go away," I said.

An unabashed Cartesian, he didn't know why what seemed clear and distinct to him today could be just a replacable presupposition.

They're not obvious, they're paradigms. You put them in place and they explain the world. You may like this explaination better but it's not blinking clear and distinct.

Sometimes I have a headache and I wish simple Cartesians would stay in the closet.

Oct 18, 2002

Reading Heidegger
As one progresses with Heidegger he becomes easier because a) one grows accustomed to his style and usages and b) he rejects some of the methods that made his work so complicated.

The danger, of course, is that one feels Heidegger and can expound on him in his own language without learning what he's talking about in any terms but his own.
When C.S. and J.R.R. Rock
If the Doors could be inspired by Huxley (The doors of preception) why couldn't we have a band inspired by Lewis and Tolkien? The new Glass Hammer, is apparently just such a band.

Of course, they'll have to be good in their own right but might deserve a first look because of their references.

Update: Not that this will be the first rock based on these guys. Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore" is said to be based on The Lord of the Rings.
Rut Blogging
Josh Claybourn says blogging rule #1 is to avoid blogging in a rut and rule #2 is to remember rule #1.

But maybe I don't agree. For me the first rule is to enjoy what I'm doing because that's the only reward here and rule #2 is to let everything else sort itself out. Maybe the second one should read "and let the readers go to hell." I guess that's a fair interpretation. This is one of the reasons I don't have a commenting system on my blog.

If people like what they read, good for them. If they don't I don't really mind. I've never asked myself if someone's blog was in a rut. I want to know if I enjoy it enough to take the time to read the thing and I write with the same question.

This is a hobby. I only write here because I love to. So if I'm in a rut it's my rut and I'm happy here. And for me, as long as I enjoy posting what I'm posting I'll keep doing it.

Maybe this is why Josh has lots of readers and I have few but rule #2 says that's not the point.
With Style
"He never did anything," the obit writer said. "It was how he never did anything that made him incredible."
Shopworn and Reliable
The greatest words in the English language, I tell my reporters, are "the," "and," and "said."

Oct 17, 2002

What?
So where did my sidebar go? My links and things down that side are just gone. Something seems to have eaten portions of my template too.

Update: Okay. This must mean it's time to change templates and etc. I had hoped to make the old one last until I could afford something nice but looks like I'm still with Blogger and Blogskins. The day is coming when I'll have something worth really looking at. It's just not there yet.

Update:SO now I've got this new skin up and have rebuilt the core of my links and developed it enough so it looks presentable. All that was time I could have been doing other more fulfilling things but it needed to be done and now maybe I won't have to think about it.

Oct 14, 2002

Passing Out
Talking to a girl over lunch, a girl I haven't talked with in almost a year, we smile in the dusky cafeteria and enjoy a quiet moment.

"It was good to talk to you," she said. "We haven't talked in awhile."

"No," I said. "We haven't"

Which was a little awkward because it said nothing of what was really there, between us like the cafeteria tray.

We haven't talked together because she started cutting people out of her circle. Some of our friends were hurt and I wasn't in enough or dedicated enough to care and so we haven't talked in a year.

But I hoped, walking away, that she wondered what she'd cut out of her life.
The Cubist Man with a Pipe: A description of a work
The Poet (Man with a Pipe); by Pablo Picasso; oil on canvas;1912.

What is the relationship of an ear to an eye to a mustache to a pipe? What is the thing that the attributes are structured around? What is the spatial connection between the bowl of a pipe and a stem? Can anything be understood in isolation? The cubist poet, the fragmented man painted by Picasso, is an exploration of relationships, cohesion and meaning.

One can make out a forehead on the top of the painting. The hair is swept backward with the fine lines of an oiled and combed black hair that belonged to the Parisian in a café. Moving one’s eye downward one is quickly thrown splashes of a nose, an eye closed and contemplative, another eye, the other side of the nose, an ear, a lock of hair, a pipe stem, a mustache, a pipe bowl without any smoke, another mustache.

And then we feel the man. We see the attributes and feel the emotion with those closed eyes and the unlit pipe and the muted earthy tones of the shades of brown. We experience his attributes—disconnected and given in a collection of isolated objects—and we feel the thing and the being.

The painting is of cubes, yet we see a man and a certain type of man and we know there is a relationship between this cube and that. He is a poet and we can feel his poetry even though cohesion of objects, and thus meaning, seems to be lost.

But the connection may not be what we once thought. Now we must ask what a man is if his ear is not rooted to his jaw. Is he still a man? Where we have assumed being and connected cohesion and meaning we now must question them.
One sees the fragments and attempts to connect them, explaining them by their world, by our world. Can anything be understood in isolation? If we seek to know the pipe of the poet, then we attempt to place it into a context. We ask about its use, its spatial relationship, its value, its role. The pipe can be understood if we understand tobacco, if we know of men and fire and smoke. If we explain the pipe we explain the world in which it has its being.

We see this man, cubed and fragmented, and we know something of who he is and of his contemplation and of his poetry.

We seek to take the piece offered us and attached them to the world, find the manifestation of meaning and the narrative about this being.
The Death of an Expensive Plagiarist
Stephen Abrose is dead at 66. I heard the man speak a year ago and can speak for most of Hillsdale's students when I say he's a hack and a cheap historian and had a lame view of politics.

He was a plagiarist and I think that will follow him. I think he will be Ambrose the Plagiarist for a long time.

What made most students of the dale mad was that he charged a lot of money (in the $10,000) to tell us--days before Sept 11, 2002--that the world was safe and we would never have to worry because his generation was the greatest.

I suppose it's bad form to say anything bad about a dead fellow but I didn't like the man in life and think he did more harm than good. (Besides, the comparison to Pyle, a great journalist and a hero, was wrong).
In the Evening
Reading Fitzgerald I recognize the reference used by Bob Dylan about Gatsby's reliving the past.

Oct 11, 2002

Hobbies
As descried in an application to the 2003 Pulliam Journalism Fellowship

Woodcarving: I’ve been carving wood since I was 14, and have been involved in numerous clubs and fairs to develop the skill and show my work.

Philosophy: My major in college, I read, study and discuss philosophy.

Chess: I’ve played since I was 7 or 8 and enjoy an amateur game. I attended the U.S. Open in Seattle in 2002.

Book shopping: I’m a lover of books, taking many excursions to buy them across the country at the best used-book stores.

Oct 8, 2002

In an ironic twist of affairs, the court ordered the company to pay $7,800 for a suit against a woman for her $0.18 bill.

Moral: Vote for judges with a keen sense of irony.
With Piece Positions and Combinations
In the last two and a half weeks I've played between nine and 11 games with four diferent friends, losing none. Now I'm looking for someone in my dorm who will smash me.

I'm finding combinations interesting in that one learns a set of combinations and learns to watch for them. One checks the kight to see if a forking is immanent, the intersections of the queen and bishop, etc. If a player is unfamiliar with the combination he can be made to repeatedly face the situation he doesn't know how to expect or respond to.

I believe a game is won by position play, but position is gained by piece combinations. The biggest development in my game in the last few years was the subjection of trades to an analysis of position and the timing of piece usage according to game development (i.e., the knights are used early, the rooks late).
To Know a Shoe
The second Heidegger seminar paper where I consider the role of the narrative in understanding a work of art is now up at Atlas.
Slate's collection of proposed journalism book canons.
Mine would also include the best of Wofle's reporting, Edna Buchanan's "The corpse had a familiar face" and some George Orwell. Slate Editor Jack Shafer said he would require an aspiring reporter to type out journalisms best passages on a typewriter so they could feel the way it flowed. I would also require the daily reading of a standard newspaper.
Violence, shown by solid calm
A storm is not manifestly violent until something solid stands unmoved in its face. "Standing there," Heidegger writes in his piece on The Ogigin of the Work of Art, "the building holds its ground against the storm raging above it and so first makes the storm itself manifest in its violence."

Oct 7, 2002

Facing Death, Nothing and the Absence of God

Death (disguised as a priest in a confessional): How can you outwit Death?
Crusader: By combination of bishop and knight.


I saw a 1956 Swedish film titled (in English) the Seventh Seal, with college friend Dan Hugger this afternoon. The film, a beautiful piece of art, tells the tale of a crusader, Antonious Block, who is returning home doubting his faith and finding Death.

The medieval land is filled with rumors of supernatural horror, plague, sightings of Death and expectations of Doomsday. The knight is trying to find God, but he is being met only by Death, who is following him and ravaging the land.

The crusader meets Death on the beach. Death is clothed in black, telling the crusader his time has come and Death never waits.

So the crusader challenges him to a chess game.

To me, this idea was so artistically grand that the film could have fallen away and I would have been happy with only this one idea. Death and chess. Man and time. Refusing to make fear god. The bleak end of existence and the hope for something more than the nothing. Outwitting Death with a combination of the bishop and the knight.

They play, Death and the Crusader, throughout the film. The noble yet doubting man delays the inevitable--knowing it is inevitable--with the hope of gaining knowledge and knowing God. It is a game, and a bleak search for answers.

In between playing chess, the Crusader and his squire head north, meeting a family of actors (seemingly representing the Holy Family), a farm girl, a theiving theologian, a blacksmith and his unfaithful wife, priests flagalating themselves to end the suffering, a woman being crucified, and the host of medieval men and women fearing Death, nihilation, doom.

The plot is, perhaps, a little to simple but the themes considered are not. The film looks at people facing death and nothingness.

The parts are interestingly developed and it gives a bit of a look into the age, especially such a period when men thought they were experiencing the wrath of God and the end of the world.

It is the story of men facing fear and a man facing the greatest fear, the abscence of God.

The crusader recognizes the religion around him is just fear, erected as an idol. He lives in a world of ghosts and is a prisoner of dreams. He sees on terror in the eyes of the dying, looks again and, with dismay, finds nothingness.

He faces Death, beocming familiar with him, hoping to find knowledge of the presence of God, refusing to stop asking questions about God and Existence.

The depressing film closes and "the strict lord Death bids them dance." And yet a family and a troupe of actors--a man named Joseph, his wife Mary and a little child--have been spared by the Knight's delay of Death. In the search, the noble man has saved God and maybe even found him.
What a blog doesn't tell you
Does Gideon Strauss speak with the accent of the South African?

If only he could install that feature in his blog...

Oct 6, 2002

Toasting life and education
I have organized a meal for me and my friends, 11 of them. It will be a fall celebration of life with pesto (my specialty), lamb, tomato salad, homemade frenchbread and red wine.

We will cook, preparing the delights of food and drink. We will set the table, sit and pray, then share our good food with a delightful conversation and a pleasent evening.

This is the life. Chaim!

Oct 5, 2002

Without Ceasing
"You know how there's that scripture verse where it talks about praying without ceasing?"

"Yeah."

"Do you guys have like deep theological conversations without ceasing?"

"Sort of."

Oct 4, 2002

A Knight of the Keyboard, Waiting for the Spirit to Move
Pounding QWERTY, waiting anxiously to feel the spark between my fingers and the keyboard, to feel the holy wind of inspiration to sweep down and blow, turning desperate hacking into art.
I just stomped a Latin test on Wheelock's chapter 6. Study, long study, is depriving the language of the intimidation it once had.
Being held out into the Nothing
Over at the Atlas Society, I write about the experience of the Nothing as before Being, by comparing it to the child's thoughts about pre-existence.

Oct 3, 2002

The Insults of Chess
You're just a wood-pusher, not enough of a player to handle the cheap set.

Oct 2, 2002

"So much the worse for logic"
I'm working on paper for 20th Century Continental Philosophy (due Monday, Oct. 6) arguing that rationality--that attempt at a purely logical life, that analytic understanding of things we experience--must be rejected along with the resuling isolated, functionless abstraction of a world if we are to maintain our humanity.

Behind me on this mini-project are Dostoevsky's Underground Man, Hesse's Steppenwolfe, the early Heidegger (and, to be bloody vauge about the whole thing, modern man as he burrows out of his frustrated fix).

The original product will be here in mere days.

And yeah I did give it away.
Pueri litter
Why is the modernist experience (the nihilism at the end of Descartes quest for certainty and the realization of the complete failure of autonomous reason) of Americans in the 1960s and 70s seen, from today's prespectives, as so awfully childish? The European experience seems to produce more artists and philosophers--serious men who must be considered today--and the American experience seems to turn out activists and irresponsible people?

Are we necessarily more politicized than the Continent? Are we more childish?

Oct 1, 2002

"This is a hold-up"
Concluding this miniseries on vice, Timothy D. Terrell over at Calcedon looks for the golden age of bank robberies.

I was suprise, though, to see he didn't talk about the mythification of the bank robberies of the Old West and the Depression. The development of bank robberies in movies would be an interesting piece of work. In the early myths we see the underdog taking on the evil bank--hitting him in the soft underbelly. Later we see the robbers shift, becoming confused and the life of the bank robber becoming complicated. This confusion and complications mirrors, in a way, the strange new world and complex new dilemmas modern man finds himself in. Dog Day's in the Afternoon and Bandits are probably the pinnacle of the modern bank robbery.

Okay, I'm going to go watch a bank robbery film and come back to talk about something else.
"@#$%^&*!" at the Movies
Since I've touched smoking and drinking in the last few posts, it seems I might as well throw in cursing. Godawa, who is impressing me, has a piece on RazorMouth defending the usage of foul language in movies. It's a short piece and I enjoyed it.

Sep 30, 2002

Latin Blues
I think I'm afraid of language. I avoid studying Latin but it's not normal procrastination as much as it is fear and feeling overwhelmed. Once I finally get into the stuff and do my work I feel like I have a descent handle on the language and am "getting it."

Perhaps it is my bad experience with learning Greek. I haven't learned a language before, so maybe that's it. Maybe it's that language is so different doesn't come to me like the other material does.

Either way, I'm working to get over the intimidation and grap the language by the hair.
Reactionary Living
Speaking of the Spicer circle and the poet Spicer, my uncle Ron Silliman envisions "a later Spicer in the sort of reactionary alcoholic stupor that befuddled Kerouac before his death just a few years hence."

I'd always considered Kerouac's drinking to be more comparable to suicide--a form of not coping with the world. While drinking as a reactionary also has the aspect of "dropping out," it is a form of political protest.

Just an angle I'd never considered, I suppose. (Though now it looks rather obvious.)
Christians in Politics
The worst conspiricy nightmares of the Left look to be true, Christians are controling politics in many smoky back-rooms. (Are they smoky anymore?) This report says Christians have spread out over the political field, dug in and now have the grass-roots of the GOP pretty wrapped up, controling lots of little party offices.

What can be done with that involvment has been seen, a little, and remains to be seen.

Sep 28, 2002

Wild Things
Matt Colvin has taken on quite the Seussian project of exploring the weird depiction of creatures in the Renaissance.

They're monsterous, really.




Sep 26, 2002

When NYC had a Paper
The woman on the cover shot of Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard's quintesential New Wave film about gangsters, is wearing a yellow shirt with the newspaper masthead of the New York Herald Tribune. I was planning on watching the film anyway, but that would have been enough.

The Herald Tribune was, of course, the paper that spawned the experimental work of Tom Wolfe and others in New Journalism and the like under the editorship of Jim Bellow. I was reminded of talking about that great paper and the work started there with Henry Allen, long-time journalist and columnist for the Wash. Post, at the D.C. Poynter conference and his passionate declarations that we should simply write stories that people wanted to read. When I brought up that great paper I called it the Tribune Herald, so when he autographed his book to me he left the words:

"Work hard, get to heaven and remember it's the Herald Tribune."
Citified Agrarianism
What happens if we look at the Agrarians as reacting, really, not to cities but to suburbs? Perhaps it's incorrect and does us no service to think of the idea that way, but such a locution of the problem--described as isolation and over-protection from life as life--is something I hold. I'm not an Agrarian, though when I was young I lived in a very Wendel Berry influenced community and I certainly still feel the attraction.

I experience, I guess, the attraction to the rural world and repulsion at the styrophoam packaged suburbs. What I do not share at all is the rejection of and the repulsion at cities. Reading Dave Hegeman's breif mention of the Bible's celebration of both cities and farms and passing reference to previous work on city-gardens as a form of Agraianism perked my interest.
Goofing
"You know," he said, "we are having a really great time!"

I think maybe he though we weren't supposed to be.

And we were, both because of and despite the circumstances.

Sep 25, 2002

Silliman, the Strauss version:
"Jackson Pollock! Jazz! Chess! Hesse! Heidegger! Writing for the student paper! Conversations! Late nights! In the sun on the grass!"

(According to an e-mail exchange...)

Sep 24, 2002

Irreligious Washington
The Northwest doesn't seem to be doing well, according to polls about religion in the states. Washington is ranked as the second least churched state after Oregon. National Review has a piece comparing Washington to the leading cities and saying Washington is religious but I think my disappointment still stands.
New Blog
A friend of mine has started a blog of his own at www.standfast.blogspot.com. He's still working on design but I expect good material from man.

Sep 23, 2002

Onward
It's a war, so what're you gonna do about it? So ask assorted Dougs in the recent issue of Credenda Agenda.
The Argument that Would Have Worked for Me
About halfway through the argument I realize I would have the same argument with myself, were I to meet myself a couple of years ago.
An Evolving Blog and its Evolving Motto
My new poster of a mural by Jackson Pollock is on the wall by my desk, the jazz is playing on the CD player, I just played two games of speed chess and now I have to tackle my Latin sentences for the morning. A reporter of mine is working on a hot story of about 20 students busted for under-age drinking by the state police is brewing.

This is the life of student philosopher-journalist. Perhaps it's time for a new motto on the tombstone of this old blog.

Sep 22, 2002

A Selection of Interesting Passages from Steppenwolf:
These horrors [the horrors of the Middle Ages] were really nonexistent. A man of the Middle Ages would detest the whole mode of our present day life as something far more than horrible, far more than barbarous. Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evils. Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap. A man of the Classical Age who had to live in medieval times would suffocate miserable just as a savage does in the midst of our civilization. Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence. Naturally, every one does not feel this equally strongly. A nature such as Nietzsche’s had to suffer our present ills more than a generation in advance. What he had to go through alone and misunderstood, thousands suffer today.

... your quiet, flabby and slightly stupefied half-and-half god of contentment.

A wild longing for strong emotions and sensations seethes in me, a rage against this toneless, flat, normal and sterile life.

I like to step across the threshold of my room where all this suddenly stops; where, instead, cigar ash and wine bottles lie among the heaped-up books and there is nothing but disorder and neglect; and where everything—books, manuscripts, thoughts—is marked and saturated with the plight of lonely men, with the problem of existence and with the yearnings after a new orientation for an age that has lost its bearing.

And who over the ruins of his life pursued its fleeting, fluttering significance, while he suffered its seeming meaninglessness and lived its seeming madness, and who hoped in secret at the last turn of the labyrinth of Chaos for revelation and God’s presence.

All interpretation, all psychology, all attempts to make things comprehensible, require the medium of theories, mythologies and lies.

Mozart laughed.
“Yes, that is always the way. Such contrasts, seen form a little distance, always tend to show their increasing similarity. Thick orchestration was in any case neither Wagner’s nor Brams’ personal failing. It was the fault of their time.”
“What? And have they got to pay for it so dearly?” I cried in protest.
“Naturally. The law must take its course. Until they have paid the debt of their time it cannot be known whether anything personal to themselves is left over to stand to their credit.”

When you listen to the radio you are witness of the everlasting war between idea and appearance, between time and eternity, between human and divine. Exactly, my dear sir, as the radio for ten minutes together projects the lovely music without regard into the most impossible places, into respectable drawing rooms and attics and into the midst of chattering, guzzling, yawning and sleeping listeners, and exactly as it strips this music of its sensuous beauty, spoils and scratches and beslimes it and yet cannot altogether destroy its spirit, just so does life, the so-called reality, deal with the sublime picture-play of the world and make a hurley-burley of it.
Loving My Life
I argued theology with three other intelligent people for three or four hours. I went home at 3 a.m. and went to sleep thinking about the fact that all four of us knew Latin and wondered what that signified, sociologically.

I slept for a full eight hours and then went and bought a sub from the local deli. I ate my sandwhich of meat and cheese with a friend at the table by the cracked street and talked about plans and friends.

I sat on the lawn in the late summer/pre-fall of the midwest, smoking a pipe, reading a German philosopher and a German novelist. We played chess, there on the grass in the sun.

I laughed and thought and smiled, enjoying the relaxed intelligencia of my college life.

In the morning I will partake of Holy Communion and of Sacramental Christianity, letting the litugy wash over me and feel myself join the historic and universial church, unlimited by time or geopraphy.

And it was good.
That Good
I've just read Herman Hesse's Steppenwolfe and think it is such a good book that I'm mad I didn't read it before.

Update: A more review like post on this book is coming Sunday afternoon.

Sep 19, 2002

The Insufficieny of Evangelicalism and the Return of Sacramental Christianity
I was playing with an interesting thesis at breakfast this morining. I would like to support this with some substantial research and writing, when I have some time.

My thesis is that Francis Schaffer's (and others) attention to evangelicalism's failure to answer, or in most cases even solidly address, the questions of philosophy resulted not only in the rebirth in Christian activism and the decline of dispensationalism but also the growing trend towards old--premodernism--Sacramental Christianity such as Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, American Anglicanism and the older forms of Lutherianism.

I want to argue the project of Schaeffer was necessarily connected to this rise and that Franky Schaeffer, Francis' son, was partially correct when he drew a linear link between his father's work and his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy.

This progress and necessary link might parallel what happened to T.S. Elliot.

We shall see...
The History of the Cross
It was an instrument of barbarism that softened the hearts of the barbarians.

Sep 17, 2002

The Experiential Nature of Understanding and Refernetial Totality
What is a word isolated from its language? It is a foreign thing without meaning, with no reason for its sound or spelling or meaning. It can only be comprehended in relation to other words. The word must be experienced if it is to be used. One must form the sentence in one’s mouth, hear the usage and the relationship of the word to the words around it.

Without experiencing the referential system, the word is odd and meaningless and useless.

The philosophical term for this is "Referential Totality." The system (be it language, chess, tastes) is self-contained. The things within the system only exist in relation to the system. A rook does not exist without chess, it can only be understood within the experience of the game.

Another example of the same referential totality we all deal with is taste. How do you describe a pickle or an olive to someone who's never had one? The "slightly woody flavor" or "metallic finish" of wine cannot be known without the experience of tasting wine. These things, taste, cannot be conveyed without an experience and an inter-referential framework.

Isolation—attempting to remove the thing from its experiential context and "observe" it apart from experience—results in meaninglessness despite the fact this is the method by which we have understood ourselves to understand the world we live in.

It is the work of some modern art (I forget the artist's name but recall the snow shovel bought at a hardware store and sold as art. Warhol’s Brillo Boxes or Campbell’s Soup Cans sort of work here, but not quite.) to take some object of the common world we live in and isolate it, removing it from experience and from context—rendering it without meaning.

But to actually know a hammer is not to say "Lo, a hammer," but to feel the weight as you pound a nail.

To know a word or a taste or a hammer or a chair is not be able to describe that thing as an isolated object but to experience it.

To know a chair is not to describe a seat but to sit in one. When one sits down—not thinking in some sort of empirical deduction (or, worse still, of Platonic chairs) about chairs and seats but just sitting because the thing exists as a chair—then one "knows" what a chair is in the world.

With the experiential relationship (within that referential totality) the object has meaning.

For Heidegger this is described as being "present-to-hand" instead of "ready-to-hand."

Heidegger says that we, like the chess piece or the word, have our being in the referential totality of the world. We cannot be understood separate from the world. We are, he says, “Worlded.” That is, our existence is relational to the world, to experience.

Update:For more Heidegger (the question of nothing) see my paper on the papers page.

Sep 16, 2002

The Wizard, the Myth and the Faith
Gerry Wisz talks of the role of the Wizard in Western literature in an interesting Razor Mouth piece. It is a little too scattered and unfocused to be as good as it could have been but raised some interesting points about the role of myth and Christianity and the relationship between myth and history.

I’d like to explore those at some point.
The more educated I become, the less concern I have for politics.
The Weird End of Vocabulary
A cool word I didn’t know yesterday with an unfortunately narrow meaning that I don’t think I can use:

Enjambment:
The running over of a sentence from one verse or couplet into another so that closely related words fall in different lines.
Like it is Sagging
Feeling overworked and underappreciated.

Money, classes and work on the paper are chewing me up and I’m physically and emotionally exhausted.

My suite-mates said they could see it in the wasted weariness on my face and hear it in my slurring sentences.

I can feel it on this blog. Like it is sagging. The poetry is hiding from me.

But work continues and I continue and adjust to make things better.

Sep 15, 2002

"A Christian bridge builder doesn't build Christian bridges...he builds good bridges."
Texas Hold 'Um
“Do you want to play poker,” he asked me. “It seemed your style.”

Sep 14, 2002

Serving the Knowledge of the Public
The latest Collegian recieved what may be the compliment for a newspaper to strive for when a fellow student told me he had to spend more time reading the paper this week then he had ever had to spend reading a paper before. There were too many stories, he said, that he had to read if he was going to remain educated about the commuinity around him.

Simon Rising Again
Looks like I may have been premature in my disappointment with Bill Simon in California. The verdict charging his business with fraud has been overturned.

I apologize to the man and hope that he wins the coming election.
Supermen with Soiled Collars
We were a newspaper tribe of assorted drunkards, poets, burglars, philosophers and boastful ragamuffins. We were supermen with soiled collars and holes in our pants, stone broke and sneering at our betters in limousines and
unmortgaged houses, cynical of all things on earth, including the tyrannical journal that underpaid and overworked us, and for which, after a round of cursing, we were ready to die.
-- Ben Hecht
Our Religious Future
Atlantic Monthly has a really fascinating article about the future of religion in the 21st century. I don’t know where the fellow is coming from but he talks about the growth of Islam and Christianity (especially below the equator) and the conflict between them.

The piece draws some really interesting historical parallels.

He discusses our Euro-American liberalism, how they have been telling Orthodox Christians they must become liberal and modern if they are to survive, or simply writing them off as scary. He has an interesting note on how conservative Christians were ignored from the Scopes trial to the Carter campaign. I’m not sure that is all the big liberal worlds fault though. Christians decided to drop out of the culture and the world went to hell without them.

It was in the late 70s that we decided to come back, decided the world and all that was in it was the Lords and now it looks like the future will be one where religion, once again, cannot be ignored or trivialized.