Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shilling Shakspere

The Shakespeare Establishment, the Birthplace Trust, the Folger Library, etc. is going all out this year to fight the growing phenomenon of  informed Stratfordian skepticism, the growing number of people who look at the actual evidence that backs up the required, established common wisdom that the money-lender, sharp businessman, fractional owner of interests in theaters, etc. wrote THE PLAYS AND POEMS that are published as being by William Shakespeare.  And who are doing so without the constant reliance on supposition, the creation of fiction and the reliance on previous generations of supposers and inventors to make their arguments.  The Shakespeare industry is presently sending around a touring exhibit of a copy of the First Folio, a volume which contains a good deal of the ambiguity on which the skepticism draws and, more absurdly, assertions about the "hand D" section of a play not even considered to be in the cannon, Thomas More, with the baseless assertion that it is, actually, in the hand of Wm. Shakspere of Stratford on Avon.

There is, actually, no evidence that the hand that wrote those lines is the same as scrawled or, rather, drew, the six signatures generally held to be the sum total of authenticated writing by the Stratford man.  There are, actually, conventional Stratfordians who have admitted that there is nothing, at all, to tie their guy with the manuscript of Thomas More and who have expressed their own skepticism that he had anything to do with Thomas More.   There isn't even any thing to verify that the person who wrote those lines into the manuscript, along with many others, is the person who wrote the lines.   Some have noted such things as cross-outs and eyeskips in the manuscript that would indicate it could be someone copying from another source.  The alleged verification in spellings as found in the First Folio or other printed copies are not conclusively reliable as even indirect evidence because it is unknowable if those spelling variations are copied from an original manuscript or introduced by any number of copyists or the typesetters as they set the type for the Folio edition.

I'm tempted to go on with reasons that the assertion that "hand D" was that of the Stratford man but I'll let you see for yourselves.  Here is one of the pages being peddled by the Stratfordian establishment.

And here are the six famous signatures, which, by the way, are not all universally held to be authentically from the pen of William Shaksper(e).   Some question if some of them might be written by a scribe or witness.

You see any similarity?  I don't even see reliable similarities among the signatures, never mind to the Thomas More hand.  I doubt there is any rational case to be made that they were written by the same hand that isn't based on the wishful thinking of the Stratfordian Shakespeare industry.   I heard one of those shilling the Thomas More as his, when asked about the discrepancy between the fluid, fluent writing of the manuscript and the tortured, inexpert nature of the signatures ask now many of us made a consistent signature.   Well, I've got terrible handwriting and I pretty much type out anything that I know anyone else has to read and mine isn't anywhere near as bad as that, and I'm going on two-decades older than the Stratford broker and hoarder of grain was when he died.  And my eyesight is just awful.   I have examples of my father's signature made decades after he was entirely blind and those are more recognizably his characteristic, Catholic school learned handwriting than the signatures are consistent with each other.

Update:  Why am I writing this?  a. Because I know it drives some of my trolls nuts with anger, b. as that great American author, Dr. Suess said,

Image result for dr. seuss these things are fun and fun is good

The Randians At Play With Their Model Trains

Note:  Here's an article I wrote about Ayn Rand on April 16, 2011, originally posted at Echidne of the Snakes.   Maybe someone interested in transportation infrastructure and the government's inevitable involvement in that would find something of interest.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Randians At Play With Their Model Trains [Anthony McCarthy]

I'd better admit that I've been taking quite a good deal of pleasure reading the bad reviews of the movie made out of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's novel. And some of them have been among the worst reviews I've read recently. I should also admit that I didn't read Atlas, having struggled with her prose and her bizarrely demented thinking fully developed in her earlier, The Fountainhead. I'd been aware of some of her other writing, skimming some of the shorter stuff, maybe looking at some of the rest of it but nothing there changed the original impression that she was a crackpot* and one with a psychotic mean streak. Wait, change that, it wasn't a mean streak, it was a deluge of pathological hate, anger and resentment.

That she developed one of the stranger and more dangerous political-"philosophical" cults going is what's primarily interesting about Ayn Rand and her similarly cracked followers. Having given people who are emotionally arrested at the state between infantile generosity and when they have mastered their selfishness enough to relearn sharing, was a sure fire formula for that kind of movement. The worst of it has been those who gained political power, Alan Greenspan, Paul Ryan, and her true believers in the media have deformed our politics from our idealistic democratic beliefs to the predominant faith of our establishment. Since the Republican Party has handed economic policy to Ryan, we have every right to say that Ayn Rand is the foundation on which they intend to build. Rand was Lyndon LaRouche with influence.

For anyone who hasn't heard, one of the bases of Randian faith is that only the private sector is able to produce anything good, that anything that is done by the government is bad. That is one of the things about the reviews of Atlas Shrugged that has given me the most pleasure. For anyone who doubts that Rand was totally nuts and not especially intelligent, she chose a make believe, would be railroad baron as her hero to demonstrate the evil of good intentions, the folly of democracy and the virtue of selfishness.

Anyone who has ever looked at transportation as a part of human technology and history will be struck by one thing, there has never been a form of transportation that hasn't absolutely depended on government support. Shipping required protection from pirates, beacons to mark dangerous obstructions, direct subsidies to mercantile efforts, the construction and maintenance  of ports. Roads are built with government subsidies, often through the labor of people held in servitude by the government, often on the basis of government appropriation of private property, etc. The history of the railroads have been a history of even stronger involvement by governments, often depending on the corrupt subsidies from bought off legislatures, executives and courts. In the United States, the irrationality of much of the rail infrastructure is directly due to that history of corruption by private capital of the government. Air travel would die without massive support from the government.

If anyone wanted to choose a worse example to spin a Randian fantasy around, it would be hard to think of one. Yet Ayn Rand, who some of her devotees believe is the most brilliant human being to have ever lived, built her proof on the one industry that most definitively refutes her credo.

In reading around about it I have been reminded that Rand credited a number of inspirations for her writing, including Hugo and Dostoyevsky. I have also read that she credited a number of classical philosophers as antecedents, though I'm also aware that philosophers who have specialized in some of them doubt she ever understood them. I have to say that reading the plot of her book and the movie, I didn't think of anything but the little remembered British film The Titfield Thunderbolt, which was made four years before Atlas was published. Though, if she did depend on that rather charmingly silly movie, it would also be ironic because it is all about the virtues of cooperative action to save a tiny rail line from the predations of the bus industry.

That Rand seemed to have missed that it was the titans of the auto industry, the interstate highway system built by the federal government at the behest of the military-industrial complex and other competing industries that made her book ridiculously anachronistic even as she was writing it, only adds to the hilarity. But when you're the greatest genius in the history of the universe, an example of the most Uber of Supermen, you don't need to notice that vulgar little thing called reality. Alan Greenspan didn't have much use for it either.

* Anyone who might dispute that Rand was psychotic should look up her adoration for William Hickman, a man whose greatest claim to anyone's attention was his brutal rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl, whose dismembered body he sent in pieces to the authorities. Of course she would see him as a great example of the Nietzschean superman. As is always the case with the people impressed by that other nutcase, perversity impresses. If anyone who has looked at that could still think there was anything positive about that cesspool of psychosis they should be watched, carefully. This is an aspect of the thinking that is regularly promoted by our media and one of our political parties as worth considering. Withholding judgement on the basis of alleged philosophical foundations only makes us complicit.

Being A Bit Like Martin Shkreli Is Good?

OK, I wasn't going to get into this but there has been flack thrown my way over it and I went back and read Duncan Black's tiny little post about how reading Ayn Rand and learning the virtues of selfishness were good for him.  Here it is, verbatim:

Confessions Of A Young Ayn Rand Fan

I admit that I was. I'll also admit that I think reading Ayn Rand was good for me! I don't think Ayn Rand novels are generally a force for good in the world. Reading her novels did not make me more conservative. They did not make me more libertarian. But I did grow up in an environment (not my parents, other social factors) in which being selfless was a bit too much hailed as an unambiguous good, and selfishness was derided. Atlas Shrugged is an 1100 page piece of crap, but The Fountainhead isn't the worst thing in the world.

Rand didn't make me a conservative, but at that moment in my life she did teach me that having my own wants and needs didn't make me evil. I'm not saying that was her entire message, just that it was the message I heard.

You have to wonder just what the difference between what the young Duncan Black heard from his reading of Ayn Rand's glorification of the self and elevation of selfishness into a virtue was and what your typical greed-ball right-winger-corporate pirate heard on reading  The Foutainhead.  And just how far in that direction the once-renowned lefty blogger would go.

The message that is, actually, in Rand's thinking is absolutely destructive of the American style of liberalism which is, in fact, the only secure basis of egalitarian democracy.  Equality means that you do, actually, have to sacrifice your own wants and even, at times,  your needs on behalf of other people.  The extent to which someone holds back from doing that is the extent to which they are NOT liberals.

I am first impressed at how he left out what most young readers really got out of it, the rape scene, the rape of the sappy Dominique by the comic book rapist-hero-hero-thug,  Howard Roark.   I would imagine the young, straight  Duncan didn't read Susan Brownmiller's  study of rape in reality and in pop culture,  Against Our Will.  If I thought it wasn't too late I'd suggest it.   The utter perversion of Rand's thinking is probably best considered in terms of sex because without the sexual content of her writing, no one would ever open one of her books.   I would imagine that's what really attracts young men in such numbers to read her and absorb the adolescent pleasing messages that their young egomania and greed isn't something to outgrow but to celebrate and that it will make girls susceptible to their Superman manliness, no matter how much they might tell them that they don't want it, it's what they really want.  I wish it was possible to know the percentage of straight-white men, middle-class and above "get something" out or reading Rand as opposed to members of other groups.  Off hand, I'd have to say that's the identity of just about everyone I've ever heard saying anything good about her crap.

Frankly, the message is no different from any other degenerate literature, selfishness, self-indulgence, etc.   Howard Roark's heroic quest - the quest of Rand's heroes - is one big tantrum over insisting on having everything MY way.  That's something most of us are persuaded to start outgrowing at the age of 4 and, if we're lucky, the task is well underway by the time we reach the age of majority so that we can achieve the adulthood the law assigns to us out of practical necessity.   I would be mildly curious to know how many of the hard-core Randians are only children, raised in families where the parents didn't have to introduce the necessity of not getting your own way all the time at an early age.

One thing I know is that anyone allegedly on the left who could have been anything but revolted by Rand's objectivist cult, her ridiculous and perverse writing is probably not going to keep up the pose of being anything like a liberal for long.   It will most likely be a pose that is abandoned as they find that it doesn't get them what they really want.  I should probably thank Duncan Black because his blog has taught me so much about what's wrong with the left and why that pseudo-left, that play-left is, in fact, what has always been wrong, why liberals, whose ideas should be considered the very basis of egalitarian democracy have so often failed to convince people to vote for liberals.  It's not all on the character flaws in our opponents, it's also those same character flaws held by us.

And there is the Martin Shrkeli style harassment of those who used to be regulars that emanates from his current regulars.   If that wasn't something that has happened to me, personally, almost every day for going on the past six years, I probably wouldn't pay him or his dime-store version of a cult any attention whatsoever.  Far as I know Duncan doesn't do that, himself, but he knows about it and he hasn't done anything to distance himself from those who use his blog as a base for doing that.


The motive for Duncan making what, for him, is a major effort in his otiose middle age,  was the news that a comic book movie director, Zack Snyder, has been working on some movie treatment of The Fountainhead.   I don't follow the ass-end of Hollywood crap or much of else issuing from that crap factory town so I don't know how accurate this is.  But if the derivative nature of Snyder's production is as stated, the irony of his working on a book allegedly celebrating the virtue of the unsullied artistic achievement of the pure vision of one super-mind couldn't possibly be greater.

Zack Snyder’s announcement on Thursday that he has “been working on [Ayn Rand’s] ‘The Fountainhead,'” because he’s always “felt like ‘The Fountainhead’ was such a thesis on the creative process and what it is to create something” only surprised those who haven’t been paying attention to Snyder’s particular brand of formally derivative, philosophically empty film-making, in which rich comic-book tapestries are ripped from their panels and transformed into pointless spectacles of sex and violence.

His only successful comic book adaptation was of Frank Miller’s “300,” and its success was entirely predicated on the fact that it contained the same amount of ideological complexity as the average Trump supporter. Post-9/11 Frank Miller is the best object-lesson this side of Dennis Miller about how freaking-the-fuck-out isn’t an appropriate reaction to a national tragedy, so when Snyder teamed up with Frank to make a film about the inherent evils of the inhuman once-and-future Iranians, alarm bells should have sounded.

"Formally derivative, philosophically empty film-making,"  I would estimate that in virtually 98% of film making that phrase would be tautological, all film making derived from literature and, in this case, what passes as the such is derivative and philosophically empty.  Producers, directors and writers who adapt material are all doing what Ayn Rand raged against like the mini-Hitler she was.

I will grant that the phrase "philosophically empty" would make someone of Snyder's description about as appropriate a person to be treating this material a you could imagine.   I would guess he's aware that it's been done before, the 1949 movie with Rand serving as her own screen play writer. Though I wouldn't bet on anyone in Hollywood being aware of the past to that extent. And in which the 46 year-old Gary Cooper is matched with a 21-year-old Patricia Neal.   Hollywood is largely about servicing the sexual fantasies of the male geezers who produce and direct the movies. Anyone who thinks Hollywood is about reality and that it can serve progress is living in a fantasy land.

Considering what Rand was all about and what Hollywood is all about, it's not surprising that her crap gets made into movies.  It only works in a perverted world of make-believe, it doesn't work in real life.  It can't be anything but destructive of liberalism and of liberal politics.  Anyone who doesn't get that has no business peddling himself as being anywhere near the left. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hate Mail

Oh, I doubt Duncan Black was talking about me when he made the effort to write a few hundred words on the alleged disrespect shown to "the youngs".   I don't disrespect people because of what age they are, I disrespect alleged adults who act like they've never made it past jr. high.  Most of those at his blog who I mention are pushing the senior years, those who aren't pulling them after them like a toy whose left wheel is stuck and doesn't move.  That is excluding a few who seem to be showing signs of dementia. 

I wouldn't be surprised if Duncan wasn't, at times, pretty fed up with the remaining rump of his once diverse, raucous blog community.   Like it was eleven years back.  It's all about that pubescent push to conformity, now, the nervousness of the quasi-adults among them about how willing most of them are to see everything go to hell if they don't get their way, about the only thing that disturbs the consensus POV there, today.  But it's all the rapidly aging middle aged to early elderly who that happens among.  

"Youngs" at E-ton?  Yeah, in your dreams.  

Hate Update:  Tlaz thinks I should go back to Duncans?  No because. a. He banned me and I am not going to post comments on a blog where I've been banned.  I've always said that a blog owner has the right to decide those things, it's his place.b. I wouldn't want to cause any excitement on his blog, some of the geezers might have a stroke if something exciting happened, it might attract people to it and few to none there have anything worth hearing.  c. Can be bought but I won't be bored. 

Hate Update:  I didn't read Duncan, I report what was sent to me. 

Hate Mail - "With religion logic goes out the window."

Well, with atheism truth is strangled, oh, so often.  Not to mention historical accuracy.  You don't get that with atheism.  Not usually.

It is especially ludicrous to make that statement because, until about the 20th century,  the realm of logic was pretty much dominated by religious believers.  And even into the 20th century and today,  religious believers are among the greatest practitioners and scholars of logic.   Going back in time, perhaps the greatest of all logicians, Kurt Gödel, was a religious believer.  He even published an ontological proof of God's existence.  Which, as such proofs go and all logic is, in the end, a matter of persuasion, not of absolute proof which, anyway, doesn't really exist outside of formal mathematics.

Although other members of the institute found the gloomy logician baffling and unapproachable, Einstein told people that he went to his office “just to have the privilege of walking home with Kurt Gödel.” Part of the reason, it seems, was that Gödel was undaunted by Einstein’s reputation and did not hesitate to challenge his ideas. As another member of the institute, the physicist Freeman Dyson, observed, “Gödel was . . . the only one of our colleagues who walked and talked on equal terms with Einstein.”

One of the things he is most famous for were his famous his incompleteness theorems which pretty much put an end to the massive project of Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead  and others, to establish an absolute logical foundation for mathematics.  And, when the atheist Russell went looking for a collaborator who was up to making the effort with him, he hooked up with his teacher, Whitehead, who was also a religious believer*. 

Obviously the atheist super-star example of a logician, Bertrand Russell, wasn't as stupid as the callow online atheists of today and most of today's atheist superstars.  But, then, today's atheism is a decadent popularization of what was current during Russell's period.  As mentioned the other day, it would inevitably have to be because it couldn't survive in the form it takes if it didn't remain mired in 19th century positivism, something else that Gödel torpedoed.  Atheism is an intellectual ruin kept alive by two things, the publicizing of the more disreputable figures among the religious and, not infrequently, the magnification and blanket assignment of guilt to people who are guilty of nothing and the TV-media based ignorance of the alleged educated class, today.   If people had an education that included the history of Western philosophy much of the idiocy spouted by online and popular atheists, today, would be known to be lies.

Going back into history and picking up on my extracts from Thomas Cahill's,  How the Irish Saved Civilization, there is the figure of Duns Scotus who is described this way in the secular Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

John Duns Scotus (1265/66–1308) was one of the most important and influential philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. His brilliantly complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname “the Subtle Doctor,” left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom. This essay first lays out what is known about Scotus's life and the dating of his works. It then offers an overview of some of his key positions in four main areas of philosophy: natural theology, metaphysics, the theory of knowledge, and ethics and moral psychology.

And he is merely one of scores and hundreds of great logicians and practitioners of logic who make your assertion a lie told by an idiot, fully found in slurry, clarifying nothing.  I love to be able to point out to any atheist who - generally wrongly - invokes William of Occam to, as they believe, clinch a point, that they are relying on the work of another great logician, who was also a very strictly observant Franciscan priest, one who certainly believed in God, pretty much the entire range of medieval Catholic dogma and doctrine and that St. Francis's stigmata were real and a mystical manifestation from God.  A list of such people would extend into the distant past, before Christianity and after, including today.  It would not be restricted to monotheism but the contribution of monotheists to the field are, I would guess, irreplaceable with those by believers in other religious persuasions, including that of atheists of mostly historical and cultural interest.   Buddhist systems of logic are renowned,  though I don't think they are comparable to the achievement of those in the West and the Middle East. 

So, where's your latest paper on logic published, bunky?

* See, especially the conclusion, here.

The Garland Nomination And Silly Dreams of Childhood

Having been given a reason to take a glance at some of the more juvenile of pseudo-left blogs yesterday evening, they're in a bit of a swivet about the nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia.  Well, Merrick Garland isn't someone I'd have liked to see appointed either, he's somewhat more conservative than someone I'd like to see on the court but there is one thing that is certain, he's the first nominee in, perhaps, decades who is to the left of the person he's replacing.  There is no prospect that Barack Obama would have appointed someone as conservative as, or to the right of the partisan, peevish, whimsical fascist who Antonin Scalia was.  So there's that in favor of the nomination.

And, from my point of view, the guy is a product of Harvard and would continue the Ivy League colonial occupation of our government.  There is something that happens to most, though not all, of the people who graduate from those elite training grounds for the ruling class that is not good for a democracy, not good for the majority of people in the country.  They get too used to feeling that they are part of the elite, part of those who rule by right, they get too used to schmoozing with other people who feel that way and they want, way, way too much to please and have the approval of other members of that elite.  It is time to give people more remote from such elites the chance to make rulings.  I would still like to get Hillary Clinton on record as promising to appoint people who attended and graduated from public universities after graduating from public schools, preferably those whose own children attended public schools.   The elite prep-Ivy product control of that institution needs to be broken up. 

However, the mewling and puking of rage among the play-lefties over this, their shaking their little fists at what they consider the most recent betrayal by Barack Obama is ridiculous.  There is every reason for him to have believed that whoever he nominated would not actually ever sit on the Supreme Court.  The Republicans, with the widespread support of their kept media, are changing the rules to make the first Black president's term end a year early.  Something they would never do to a white man.  It is just the latest in attempts to make Barack Obama a non-president on the basis of race, that has obviously been the tactic that Republicans have been using from the moment he won the nomination in 2008.

This was clearly a nomination made to embarrass the Republicans such as the oily, hypocritical Orrin Hatch who suggested that Garland was someone he thought should be on the court and those who made such statements, on the record.

I am not greatly enthusiastic for Merrick Garland's appointment to the Supreme Court but I will give him this, he agreed to serve that purpose with the full knowledge that the Republicans in the Senate would very likely vilify him in order to obstruct even holding hearings on his nomination.   Garland isn't stupid enough to believe they would make this easy for him.

However, the really stupid thing about this is the reaction on the blogs and comment threads among the childish play-left who never let reality get in the way.   The Republican-fascists in the Senate will be embarrassed  by denying Merrick Garland a nomination process, they would feel no embarrassment in denying that to the dream candidates who we on the left could dream up.

Given what Obama is facing from the Republican over ANY nomination to the court, this is probably the smartest play he could make.  As a gamble, in THIS game, not the game we imagine as ideal,  it's not the worst gambit he could bet on.  Either he gets the Republicans in the Senate to back down and he gets a nominee who will shift the court radically to the left, making the Republicans look weak and foolish or they reject Garland, a man a number of prominent Republicans have praised and makes them look like hypocrites who are politicizing the court.  Which, of course, is what they've been doing for decades.

Politics, governing, those are real, they aren't a fantasy world that so many on the play-left insist other join them in pretending.  I've been enormously critical of Barack Obama, especially his first two years which he wasted on trying to get the Republicans to like him.  A lot of that was also the fault of the people he chose to manage his administration, I still grit my teeth when I remember Rahm Emanuel, David Axlerod and a host of others in Obama's inner circle who totally wasted the best hand a Democrat had been given since 1964.  I think if I saw any of them I would feel like punching them in the nose.  I'm still not someone who could be counted as an admirer of Barack Obama, I don't think I ever will be.  But he's not stupid and, for all the disappointments, he's better than the alternative would have been.  One thing he isn't is as massively unrealistic as the play-left is.   On this one, he played it about as well as he could have.

There is one thing, if Garland gets on the court and does what his fellow Harvard product, Elena Kagan,  has done, recuse herself at the drop of an implication, he should withdraw his nomination.   At this point her doing that is just cowardly bull shit.  The Republicans who openly flaunt their conflict of interest, as Scalia was when he died, never do that.   Kagan wasn't taking emoluments when she was marginally involved in the issues she recused herself from, as Scalia, Thomas and other Republicans openly do even in recently judged and even active issues which might come up.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Stuck In The Dilemma Of Superficial Dichotomous Thinking: or Another Typical Habit of Atheists

Allan Bloom, the Britatheist Irwin Corey of Eschaton (only for serious, not for yucks) thinks I'm like Allan Bloom.  That could be due to the limits of the typical atheist mind which sees everything as a choice between A and B and if you don't choose A you must choose B.  Only you don't have to choose either, you might choose S or Q or W or none of the above. 

My suspicion is that everything the bint knows about Allan Bloom is based on skimming a magazine or newspaper article once, long ago. If that much.  Most of those nodding with her know little more to less to not at all, only picking up on the required attitude markers. 

Update:  Yeah, big deal, I feel so effectively put down, yeah, really.   

Padrig Service Message

This is a shamrock 

This is a 4-leaf clover*

* Also called a "shamrock" by people who don't know what a shamrock is.  It would have been rather puzzling to those pagans if St. Patrick held up a 4-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to them. 

Black Votes Matter Latino Votes Matter

Have you been reading it too?  The variations on the "If Hillary weren't getting the black and Latino vote she wouldn't be ahead" line.  As if the votes of black and Latino voters weren't real votes or were votes of a lesser quality or that they should count for less or mean less or something.  And that something is nothing good.  And, remember, the people saying that believe they are the true heirs of the civil rights left.  

What the hell is wrong with the guys saying stuff like that?   They're willing to throw the country into the Trumpster out of a fit of pique because most voters aren't going along with their choice.  

St. Patrick Day

Some passages from Thomas Cahill's book How the Irish Saved Civilization

Patrick's gift to the Irish was his Christianity - the first de-Romanized Christianity in human history, a Christianity without the sociopolitical baggage of the Greco-Roman world, a Christianity that completely inculturated itself into the Irish scene.  Through the Edict of Milan, which had legalized the new religion in 313 and made it the new emperor's pet,  Christianity had been received into Rome, not Rome into Christianity!  Roman culture was little altered by the exchange, and it is arguable that Christianity lost much of its distinctiveness.  But in the Patrician exchange, Ireland, lacking the power and implacable tradition of Rome, had been received into Chirstianity, which transformed Ireland into Something New, something never seen before - a Christian culture, where slavery and human sacrifice became unthinkable, and warfare, tough impossible for humans to eradicate, diminished markedly.  The Irish, in any case, loved physical combat too much for intertribal warfare to disappear entirely.  But new laws, influenced by Gospel norms, inhibited such conflicts severely by requiring that arms be taken up only for a weighty cause.  Ireland would not again see a battle on the scale of the Tain till Brian Boru would rout the Vikings in the eleventh century.

The ending of human sacrifice was common wherever Christianity was introduced, which must have been a blessed relief to those who were at greatest risk of being selected for incredibly brutal, pagan, ritual murder.  I can only imagine it was through the force of personality and authenticity that Patrick was able to overturn that practice.  He seems to have had an enormous amount of courage in facing the brutality of the pagans in Ireland which, I would imagine, impressed them.

The ending of slavery in Ireland, the first place in Europe which I'm aware of it having ended, was, till the time of Patrick, unique.  There had been Chritians who called for the end of slavery,  St. Macrina the Younger and her brother St. Gregory of Nyssa had almost a century before Patrick but he got the powers in Christian Ireland to give it up until it was reintroduced by the English after they invaded and colonized Ireland.  You have to remember that Patrick was an escaped slave, himself, he knew what slavery was in only the way that a slave can know it.

Ireland is unique in religious history for being the only land into which Christianity was introduced without bloodshed.  There were no Irih martyrs (at least not till Elizabeth began to create them eleven centuries after Patrick).  And this lack of martyrdom troubled the Irish, to whom a glorious death by violence presented such an exciting finale.  If all Ireland had received Christianity without a fight, the Irish would have to think up some new form of martyrdom - something even more intereting than the wonderfully grisly store they had begun to learn in the simple continental collections, called "martyrologies," from which Patrick and his successors taught them to read.

Thomas Cahill gets to the subject of his book after that, first the establishment of monaisticism in Ireland and then the rapid transformation of a nearly totally illiterate nation into the scribal publishing powerhouse on the outer edge of Western Europe that, literally, preserved huge parts of classical and even pagan culture, as illiteracy ruled in the rest of Western Europe.  He notes how it was from Ireland that not only Christianity but literacy and the texts of classical and other texts were introduced into Scotland, England, Wales, France and elsewhere in Europe as the medieval period proceeded.  I might go into the ironies, given the popularity of the English "enlightenment" myth, pretty much invented by Edward Gibbon,  that Christians burned the Great Library at Alexandria  among atheists and online Pagans, that it was those poor, put upon pagans who ended the great period of Irish scholarship and intellectual missionary efforts when the Vikings pillaged and destroyed the Irish monasteries in Ireland and elsewhere.

As to how paganism in Ireland fared under Christianity,  Cahill says:

As these transformed warrior children of Patrick's heart lay down the swords of battle, flung away the knives of sacrifice and cast aside the chains of slavery,  they very much remained Irishmen and Irishwomen.  Indeed, the survival of an Irish psychological identity is one of the marvels of the Irish story.  Unlike the continental church fathers, the Irish never troubled themselves overmuch about eradicating pagan influences, which the tended to wink at and enjoy. The pagan festivals continued to be celebrated, which is why we today can still celebrate the Irish feasts of May Day and Hallowe'en.  To this day there is a town in Kerry that holds a fertility festival each August, where a magnificent he-goat presides like Cernunnos for three days and nights, and bacchanalian drinking, wild dancing and varieties of sexual indiscretion are the principal entertainments.  It is this characteristically Irish melange of pagan and Christian that forms the theme of Brian Friel's magnificent play "Dancing at Lughnasa" - Lughnasa being the harvest feast of the god Lug, still celebrated on August 1 in parts of Ulster.   Irish marriage customs remained most un-Roman.  As late as the twelfth century - seven centuries after the conversion of the Irish to the Gospel - a husband or wife could call it quits and walk out for good on February 1, the feast of Imbolc, which meant that Irish marriages were renewable yearly, like magazine subscriptions or insurance policies.  As lat as the last century naked men (and, for all we know, women) races horses bareback along Clare's beaches thorough the surf at high tide, looking for all the world like their prehistoric warrior ancestors.  But after Patrick the eviler gods shrank in stature and became much less troublesome, became in fact the comical gargoyles of medieval imagination, peering fearfully from undignified nooks, and the belief grew strong that the one thing the devil cannot bear is laughter.

I'd like to make a distinction between that and how the commercial, brewing industry inspired American style desecration of St. Patrick Day, though the distinction would be subtle.  I'm not exactly sure I agree with him about Hallowe'en, but I will agree with him, completely, about Brian Friel who was a wonderful playwright.

Edmund Campion, the Elizabethan Jesuit who was martyred at Tyburn in 1581 left us a description of the Irish that rings true to this day:

"The people are thus inclined:  religious, franke amorous, irefull, sufferable of paines infinte, very glorious, many sorcerers, excellent horsemen, delighted with warres, great almes-givers, [sur]passing in hospitalitie...  They are sharpe-witted, lovers of learning, capable of any studie whereunto they bend themselves, constant in travaile, adventurous, intractable, kinde-hearted, secret in displeasure."

We can make out in this Elizabethan group portrait not only the Irish of our own day but the lively ghosts of Irishmen long past - Ailil, Medb, Cuchulainn. Derdriu. and, after a fashion, Patrick himself.  Whether or not Freud was right when he muttered in exasperation that the Irish were the only people who could not be helped by psychoanalysis, there can be no doubt of one thing:  the Irish will never change. 

I have often wished my grandparents had lived long enough so I could ask them what they thought about Freudian theories when they first heard of them, their lives included the period when those were translated into English and popularized.   I strongly suspect they'd have thought they were as ridiculous as, in fact, they are and that the many people who fell for that nonsense were ridiculous.  If that's a national trait of the Irish, I don't know.  I am at a loss for how anyone, anywhere, could have been so credulous as to believe in them, but, then, I'm at a loss to understand how much so much of the total nonsense that constitutes the equipment of an allegedly educated English speaker, much of it junk invented in the 18th century, is required to pass as respectable.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hate Mail - Your Faith Is Not Hanging By A Thread That Thread Snapped A Long Time Ago

One of the materialist arguments against old-fashioned dualism was the question of how a non-material mind would have an effect on a physical object - the now quaint idea of the body as an object - if the mind was not material.

Though it has had the satisfied acceptance of many materialists for a few centuries, now, the materialist debunking of a non-material mind rested in the illogical expectation that a non-material mind would, necessarily, be limited to the kinds of interactions that are observed in physical objects. But any non-physical entity would not rationally be expected to be limited by those observable kinds of interactions.  The characteristics that define physicality would not logically be assumed to limit the realm of the non-physical.  If those physical characteristics were to limit  a non-physical realm then it wouldn't be non-physical, it would be, by any rational definition, physical.   So the materialist rejection of the classical definition of mind-body dualism is based in a naive, self-serving and irrational and deficient analysis of the problem.  I find a lot of atheist argument rests in the self-serving creation of a deficient definition for the entities they want to make go away.   It would seem to be a defining habit of atheism.

But the materialists' framing of that problem also comes back to haunt their "brain-only" model of minds because it would be impossible without a powerfully effective non-material entity, the information that is contained in ideas.   As posed in my challenge, under their "brain-only" model. the creation of ideas and, ultimately, the content of our minds, would have to be motivated by non-physical information contained in ideas which cause the brain to create physical structures in which that information resides within the brain.  And that's not only true for one or a few ideas considered in thinking about the implications of their "brain-only" model, but for, literally, every single idea, every fleeting thought, every discarded, idea, every modification in every nuance, conscious and not articulated, which exists in our experience.   All of them would have to be motivated by non-physical information, that is, especially, true of highly abstract ideas and ideas which we cannot experience through observation.   Considerations of things such as the hidden structures of objects and the implied connections and ordering of events are not products of observation but are the creation of non-physical ideation.  The idea would have to be what informs and motivates the brain to create a physical structure, at all of its levels, and the idea, itself, couldn't do that if it were a physical entity because it couldn't exist in the brain before the brain made it.

I doubt that the old mind-body model is accurate, I think it's probably too simple and too naive but it is not as simplistic and naive - not to mention self-serving -  as the materialist model of minds.

The "Left's" Instinct For Self-Discrediting Is Its Biggest Liability And The Reason It Has No Chance Of Having Influence

I knew it would be a mistake to look at Salon this morning, they've been mostly Hatin' on Hillary all the time and this morning is no different.  If they are going to continue with a de facto endorsement of Donald Trump by attacking the nominee of the Democratic party they should be honest about it.  And, today, it's certain that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, she has a huge lead in votes by The People and Bernie Sanders' supporters are the ones who are contemplating leveraging super-delegates as a path to power, something they denounced furiously as recently as two weeks ago.

Molly Ivins once said that everyone who goes to Washington, DC eventually ends up saying the same thing,  I think there's a similar phenomenon among those people and institutions based in San Francisco.   I have always pretty much figured it was a Lotus land of the play-left where people made a determined effort to not only refuse to face reality but to reject the real world in favor of a group delusion.   I remember how many of those play-leftists love to go online and hate on Nancy Pelosi who has, to day, in fact, been the person farthest to the left of anyone who has ever held leadership of any branch of government.  I remember them cheering on Cindy Sheehan's misguided, grief informed run against her from many an online venue of the play-left.  If you want to see what the results of such stuff is, look who took the gavel from her after 2010.

It's time for Bernie Sanders to put on his big-boy pants and face the fact that his ONLY hope of having any influence in making law and policy in the future lies in him not only endorsing but vigorously supporting the election of Hillary Clinton and Democrats to the Congress and in state races.  If he has a role in electing Democrats, he can turn that into influence.  If he doesn't do that and Hillary Clinton wins without his support, he is irrelevant and has burned his bridges with other Democrats.  If she wins and has to face a Republican Congress, then stalemate continues.   If she loses without his vigorous support, asking his supporters to vote for her, he earns infamy instead of influence.  He will join the names of Eugene McCarthy and Ralph Nader as people who enabled the worst people to gain power.

Having been fed up with the play-left for a long time, who are neither especially left if left is about doing anything in reality instead of let's pretend fantasy nor anywhere near as strong a force as they like to pretend, I'm not going to bet on anything good happening.   I hope to be pleasantly surprised but I am not holding my breath.

The left, pretty much in the political wilderness for the past fifty years, should be wondering just why, if they have such great ideas, they haven't found any success in gaining real power and making real change.   Why don't The People agree with their ideas?  I've spent a lot of time looking at the culture of the so-called left, from the academic irrelevancy of the Left Forum to its popular venues and its cherished beliefs and can see lots to not like.  I can see a lot in that which is, in fact, not supportive of democracy, equality and an effective extension and protection of rights.  Look at how many of them, in the face of a century of Communist governments being some of the most horrifically and homicidally oppressive governments in the human history, hanker after some fantasy of Marxism.  Look at how the rest of us are supposedly obligated to pretend they aren't what one European journalist called "red fascists".   Look at how we are supposed to lionize if not deify Stalinists, Maoits, etc.  who were lying about the mass killings of tens and scores of millions as those mass murders were happening.

For crying out loud, even the Communists aren't Marxists anymore, look at China. 

And it's a lot more serious than the lunatic position that Marxism holds in the culture of the left, today, in 2016, a century after the disaster that was the Russian Revolution.  Look at how even the commercial leftist media, such as Salon, instinctively attacks the least bad person who WILL, in fact, become president.  As I write this there are a handful of articles up attacking Hillary Clinton who is the only person standing between the United States and a nightmare Republican administration on the level of Bush II if not worse.  Thomas Frank has one up there, for Pete's sake.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hate Mail - Back to Lent

I don't care what people who don't read what I write think about what I didn't write.  I especially don't care about that when they are discussing that on the basis of what a demonstrated pathological liar says that I wrote, knowing that they will never bother reading what I wrote.   Especially if they are stupid enough to name themselves after a goddess that, literally, eats shit.  It's hard to figure out which of the E-tots are the stupidest but she's definitely one of them.  

And my cold's almost over so I won't have that excuse for indulging in the sheer pleasure of troll bashing as I have the past several days. 

Imagined Futures - Part One: If Bernie Sanders Wins

Prediction, if by some miracle Bernie Sanders is the nominee and he becomes president, within nine months of him being sworn in many of his most ardent supporters will be screaming "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you" like Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass, as he fails to fulfill their fantasies or what have become their fantasies in the months between their imagined outcomes on election night and the reality that he faces as a governing instead of a theoretical president.  On the play-left, where so much of his most ardent support is found, they will turn on a dime, or a tweet, a blog-post generally not being sufficiently short enough to attract their fullest attention.  His past supporters will divide between those who love to hate him, and the online attention that gets them, and the true believers, as is the case in the past, ardent supporters of another messianic figure, Barack Obama.

If he is elected many foreign entities and governments will immediately and forcefully push to find out what his response will be, taking full advantage of his specialization in domestic issues and his untried thinking on foreign affairs.  Other forces, especially the oligarchy and financial elite will do the same here, not to mention various factions and the thugs who are in the Congress and the Judicial branch of the government.  Some of that will come from Democrats, who will feel little connection to him.  But it is certain to come from Republicans who will be looking to destroy him as they tried to destroy Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, in the same and newer ways as they find and create opportunities to do that.  They will not be bound by reality, look at how much they made of phony issues such as Barack Obama's entirely conventional and unremarkable real birth certificate.  The free press and electronic media will be carrying whatever lies they come up with with the same enthusiasm with which they carried every lie told about Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

A president Bernie Sanders would soon find that he has even fewer people to have his back than Barack Obama did.  Whatever you can say about the self-imposed guarantees of failure that Barack Obama is responsible for - and some of those are what motivated Bernie Sanders to run - he faced enormous obstacles imposed by the media and the Republican-fascists who the media have mostly favored for the past fifty years.  I doubt that an independent socialist like Sanders will find his nominees, perhaps not even the safest, most centrist ones, will have an easy time at confirmation. And that's just the start of it.

And that is not taking into account what a nominee Bernie Sanders will face if he is serious about trying to become president, a spectacularly wild bet which, until recently, I didn't think he was unrealistic enough to seriously consider making.  Considering the odds against him winning, in the face of a media which can, overwhelmingly, be counted on to try to destroy him, it is an inane bet to make.  If he gets out of it with a lost nomination and, by a lesser miracle, Hillary Clinton wins, she will be the one who faces all of the above as she has for the past thirty years and longer.  He gets to go back to the Senate and he might, might have shown her that she has to do better than Barack Obama's right of the middle, corporate enabling policies, if she wants to have a chance at gaining or retaining congress and having a second term.   Though that is a bet, as well.

If he gets the nomination and loses to the present Republican Party, all is lost and it will be on him and his supporters who have lost it.  No "she ran a lousy campaign" will explain that away, as Southern Beale said it will discredit the left, entirely, any chance of any influence on any aspect of policy will be deader and buried deeper than it is now.  And, I will say this as a past admirer of Senator Sanders, he will have earned the ignominy that will come to him.   I used to have some, conditional respect for Ralph Nader, though I never considered him as anyone remotely as deserving of respect as I did Senator Sanders.   If Sanders turn into another Eugene McCarthy or Ralph Nader a malignant ghost, railing against the Democratic party that failed to sufficiently appreciate him, that would be sad, though we might be too angry with him to notice it.   I don't think that will happen but if he blows this election to Trump or Cruz or whoever the Republican put up, he's earned the contempt that will come to him.

Private Performance - For When You Face The Awful Truth That The World Is Indifferent To Your Aspirations

There is an archived website that has some of the programs and other material of the Society for Private Musical Performance, Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen.  Reading through them it's obvious that they depended very heavily on 4-hand reductions of orchestral and other pieces.  They presented 4-hand reductions of the massive orchestral structures of Schoenberg's close friend and mentor Gustav Mahler, likely the first time many of those in the audience had a chance to hear them. Such reductions featured heavily in the presentations, along with chamber works, works for solo instruments and vocal music.  I recall from an interview with one of those most active in the Society, the great pianist Eduard Steuermann, that they, at times, made liberal use of the large "art harmoniums" which had large numbers of stops, the ability to change volume and a pedal board as well as, often, two keyboards, though I haven't had the chance to go through all of the programs to see where that figured in.  It's impressive how much you can do with such limited resources at your disposal.  I would imagine they would have made use of electronics if those had been available to them, such an effort, today, would have that to work with.  The question is the actual performance of sounds, live, and, ideally, in collaboration with other performers.

But I'm focused more on students and amateurs as well as those continuing to struggle through a life in performing arts who don't get the chance to perform things they should have the chance of performing.  This did get started by me wondering why actors, playwrights, directors, don't do the kind of chamber performance of plays in order to, maybe the only time in their lives, to play roles and act in plays they will, otherwise, never get to do for-pay in front of a, hopefully, paying audience.  
Most of this kind of in-house music playing, study, practice, takes place in private, among those who have a great desire to experience, in some way, experiencing the performance of the music, to learn what only can be learned from making that music come to life from the printed page. 

Here are two examples.  The first is a couple of young brothers performing the first movement of the Mozart Symphony #40.   If I were their teacher I'd insist on the repeats but that's another thing you can do when you do this, you can take that responsibility on yourselves. 

The piano players are identified as just, "Mike and Alec" and they did a good job of it.  I assume that the rest of the videos in the Youtube Channel indicate that they've gone on to what might turn into a professional career but I can't follow that up just now. 

Here's another one, a  performance of the first movement of Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony that shows that, now, you can do something like that without having to be in the same room not even on same continent.  

Monica Alienello and Andreas Pfaul, pianos.

The 4-hand reduction used was made by Hugo Ulrich  who made a huge number of such reductions,(click on the "as arranger" tab here).   My guess would be that more people have had the equivalent of conducting, or, rather, co-conducting this music from his reductions than who ever had the chance to conduct them in front of an orchestra.  Of course there's nothing to prevent you from going to the library, getting the modern editions and either editing Ulrich's reduction or making your own, as you judge most fitting.  The scary need to make choices in this, trying things, sometimes failing sometimes having your choices not agreed to but learning something from it a major part of this, as well as having the experience of the work, itself.  You've got notation software, for free if you can't afford more sophisticated versions, that is a huge help.

This might give anyone interested in other performance arts some idea as to what they might do to get as close to an experience of performing roles or pieces as they probably will in their lives.  The lack of chances at playing George and Martha or Brick and Maggie or Lady Macbeth or Hamlet or any other role, in a full production doesn't mean that you can never play it, it just means that you'll have to play it in a different way.   You can go past table readings of new plays and try things out, you could even include the difficulties of costume changes and using props that Madeline George said was so enlightening to her creative work.  The choice is yours if you choose to make it.   I'd look at the play in the play of Hamlet for some idea on that.  If it's something advocated by the author of Hamlet, for crying out loud, that's all the permission you need to try it.

Just posted a comment elsewhere

and I want priority, if someone else hasn't called him that already, Trump is the fur covered Führer of domestic fascism. 

Democracy Depends on a Well-Informed Electorate - This Is Why The Barbarians Are At Our Gate in 2016

In late antiquity, as municipal and provincial governments disintegrated and imperial appointees abandoned their posts, there was one official who could be counted on to stay with his people even to death, the episkopos (say it quickly and you will hear where the English world bishop comes from), a Greek word meaning "overseer" or "superintendent."  In the Acts of the Apostles and in the letters of Paul, bishops are mentioned occasionally as church functionaries, hardly distinguishable from priests (from the Greek presbyteroi, or elders).   Most early Christian congregations seem to have been run by some combination of bishops and priest, local men - and, in the first stages of development, women as well - who were chosen by the congregants for specified terms to take care of practical matters.   With the deaths of the apostles (aposteloi, or envoys), who had been the chief conveyors of Jesus's message, the role of the bishop grew;  and by the beginning of the second century we find him being treated in a more exalted manner - as a successor to the dead apostles and symbol of unity for the local congregation - but still the appointee of his congregation.  As its symbol of unity, he was duty- bound to consult his congregation in all important matters.  "From the beginning of my episcopacy,"  the aristocratic Cyprian of Carthage, monumental bishop of third-century Africa, confided to his clergy,  "I made up my mind to do nothing on my own private opinion, without your advice and without the consent of the people."

By the end of Augustine's life, such consultation was becoming the exception.  Democracy depends on a well-informed electorate;  and bishops could no longer rely on the opinion of their flocks - increasingly, uninformed and harried illiterates -nor, in all likelihood, were they averse to seeing their own power grow at the expense of the people.   In many districts, they were already the sole authority left, the last vestige of Roman law and order.  They began to appoint one another' and thus was born - five centuries after the death of Jesus - the self-perpetuating hierarchy that rules the Catholic church to this day.

The Roman polis had always depended more upon living men than written laws.  Laws had to be interpreted and executed;  and men of property and standing were allowed much leeway in interpreting the laws.  Now, bishops, along with the petty kings and princes  of the New World Order, would become the only men of property and standing left. The "king" or local chief was likely to be a barbarian with peculiar notions of justice and few whatever of order.  It would become the task of the bishop - often the only man who still had books of any kind and, save for his scribes, the only man who could read and write - to "civilize" the ruler, to introduce to him diplomatically some elementary principles of justice and good government.  Thus did the power of the bishop, sometimes himself the only "prince" in sight, continue to wax.
How the Irish Saved Civilization :  Tom Cahill

Only, we don't have anyone who is going to serve that purpose.  Our dark age isn't one that comes with a collapse of civil authority so much as it implosion and, in any case, those who could have served that purpose are in on the plunder and pillage or too cowed by it through the lassitude of comfort in their own lives and surroundings.  The few, the very few who have the character and courage to try are disappeared from civic life.  More are voluntarily rendered impotent through their own modernist, romantic mythology and their determination to be ballot box poison*.

Long time readers of this blog might have seen the clause that jumped out at me, the one I extracted as a title, because it is something I've harped on in association with the degeneracy of our press and media,  Without people in sufficient number being sufficiently well-informed, democracy is impossible.   Our media is so inadequate in fulfilling that responsibility, from the absolute cesspool of hate talk radio to the media drenched in aroma to cover the stench like a late 18th century French courtier, the New York Times - NPR class of media is in the business of propping up the corporate establishment narrative to have prevented the choice of their party being between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who are far more fit for the role of barbarian chief than the President of a democratic government.  And, whichever one gets the nomination, they will promote their election.  In the case of the NPR level of it they will call what they say "objective reporting" it will "objectively" present the words of Trump or Cruz along with those of their supporters, refusing the responsibility of pointing out that what they are saying are lies and where they are headed is fascism.

And the alleged alternative, the "leftist" media is not reliably better.  It has consistently made choices that have both been ineffective in promoting effective influence in the real world, as opposed to quasi-academic fantasy, it has, as a practical reality, never, in it history elected a majority in a congress or a president, it has served, most often, as an impediment to those who could possibly be elected as they either provide material to act as a useful foil for the corporate right or by attacking the least bad of those running and who could win.  That is exactly the role that the "leftist" media is playing in this election.

We don't have any episcopacy that has the moral influence or power to mitigate the worst of the barbarism that is coming,  Which brings up two other absolute pre-requisites which we have lost, morality and an effective belief that people have a status above objects and that all of us possess both rights and, even more so, moral obligations.  In too many cases - almost all of them, in fact - those with the credentials to hold those positions are too prone to enjoying the position and privileges of office, themselves.  The secular clergy of the judiciary, part of the corrupted government and the system that feeds it,  are far more corrupt than the religious ones.

We are hell-bound for a dark age and in this case the barbarians have used the amorality which is an inbuilt feature of modernism, with that comes all the rest of it, the lies, the convenient lies, the opportunistic lies, the appeals to the worst in us - I'd go into the enormous role that entertainment has played in this, these days it is the foremost carrier of barbarism and fascism into the heart of the American culture, but this is getting very long.   American fascism is as much the product of Dirty Harry and action movies, sit coms and cop shows as anything,   It is brought to us by Hollywood and Wall Street, it was brought to us by Harvard and Princeton and Yale and the University of Chicago.  Fascism is a product of scientistic and artistic modernism which rejected moral obligations.   Once you deny the reality of moral obligations it is just a matter of time before rights are washed away in the erosion that comes with the daily results of that.  Fascism is a product of the smart alack incivility and the use of racism, sexism, and other allowed hatreds in jokes.

* The character presented to be heroes of the left are, when not being totally fabricated using the names of real people - are impossibly idealistic, quite often those ideals, themselves, insanely inappropriate.  The hero-worship of American Stalinists, even now, is all you need to know about why that hasn't had a positive effect in the past century and longer of that kind of stuff.  If that was going to work it would produce nothing like democracy and it would have done it a long, long time ago.  It's not that there are no better examples of heroes for the left but they are generally rejected because their lives wouldn't make a good feature film or, more often, because they are unacceptably religious.   So Dorothy Day is ignored while a total idiot like John Reed gets turned into a movie.  Oh, yeah, when it's the movies, it's a sure bet that the hero has to be a guy, too.  Someone like Warren Beatty has got to play him.  Nothing true will be learned from watching it.   John Reed, in real life, did entirely more to harm the left than he ever did to inform progress.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Arnold Schoenberg - Chamber Symphony no 1. op 9 Schoenberg's arrangement for piano 4-hands

Mendelssohn - Duo (can't find the names of the pianists)

Arnold Schoenberg was such an enthusiast for the kind of chamber music version of his music for larger ensembles that he not only made a number of such arrangements, he either requested his most accomplished students to make some for him or he authorized such transcriptions made by some of them.  Eduard Steuermann did one for solo piano, though I think the 4-hand version is probably more rewarding to play .  Schoenberg also, later, expanded the piece for full orchestra from the original for 15 instruments.

One of his major projects was the Society for Private Music Performances which featured a large number of such performances closed to anyone who was not a member of the society.   There were two such group, one in Vienna,  the members of which were mostly professional musicians, the other and even larger society, in Prague, had members who were mostly amateurs.  The purpose of the Society was to introduce "difficult" and new music to an audience who were interested in learning the music and about it, often more difficult pieces were played more than once.  I seem to recall that applause was not allowed.   It makes interesting reading.   Schoenberg also participated in a number of entirely private chamber music sessions of exactly the kind I wrote about yesterday.

Here is Anton Webern's quintet arrangement of the Chamber Symphony.

Assaff Weisman, Piano
David McCarroll, Violin
Yonah Zur, Violin
Tibi Cziger, Clarinet
Michal Korman, Cello

That piano player has amazing technique.

Many of the major composers of the 20th century carried on the practice of publishing 4-hand versions of their orchestral music, Bartok and Stravinsky among others.  That kind of private performance is, actually, something that really good musicians do all the time, seldom for pay, often for no audience bigger than themselves and whoever they are playing it with. It's considered an essential part of the development of a musician to do it.

The Results Of Losing A Bet On Bernie Sanders Would Fall Heaviest On Those Who Can Least Afford The Loss

What Southern Beale said:

Bernie Sanders’ supporters need to stop and consider for a moment what a losing Sanders campaign will mean for the progressive movement. If Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee and loses to a Republican — any Republican, but dear God imagine if he loses to a crackpot like Trump or Cruz — what will this mean for progressives, the progressive agenda, and the progressive “wish list”?

I can tell you what it will mean. It will mean the death of the progressive movement for an entire generation.

Sanders is campaigning as the “outsider” — I know it’s his “brand,” it’s the thing Sanders’ supporters like about him. But when you’re an outsider and you lose, you’re irrelevant... 

... A losing Bernie Sanders general election campaign will send the message that progressive ideas are losing ideas and progressive activists are failures. Nobody will listen to progressives on anything. We will not have a place at the table and we will be shut out of the conversation.

Something to think about. Because if Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee? His supporters better get their asses in gear and make damn sure he wins, or else you’re staring at your own irrelevance for the next 30 years.

And here's my comment to someone who answered my comment at her site about what the general election would be like if Sanders gets the nomination :

Given the history of such candidacies which were proposed watershed moments, Obama’s from what I’d call the center to right of the so-called middle is the only one which has gained office. You have to gain office to make it real instead of a failure.

If there were ten Berne Sanders style socialists in the Senate I’d say it was a realistic prospect, as it is I don’t think even those aligned with the Social Democratic faction of the Democratic house caucus are all on board with the Sanders campaign.

Recent electoral success is a bell weather of change in the near future and I don’t see that for Sanders. He would need such people in the congress to do any of what he proposes to do, if, by some miracle, he was elected he would have to withstand a reaction that would make that to the pathetic programs of Obama’s first two years seem like a mild breeze.

The ice cream millionaire Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry's is being quoted as saying he wouldn't support Hillary Clinton's candidacy if his guy isn't the nominee chosen.  I confess that as this goes on they are, for me, the face of the Saunders campaign, the ones who seem to embody the die-hard BernieOrBust people, people who would not, really, be the ones to suffer the most from a Trump or Cruz presidency, a Supreme Court dominated by their appointees.

The Democratic base needs to eat its vegetables before it gorges on dessert.  I used to think Bernie Sanders understood that, I hope he starts serving them to his all too often puerile base of support. He can start with Ben Cohen.

Someone Needs To Step In And Save Civilization Again If That's Still Possible.

I am reading the book,  "How The Irish Saved Civilization" by Thomas Cahill, it contains one of the best short accounts of the fall of imperial Rome and the earliest stage of  what is generally considered "the dark ages"  that I've ever read.  Cahill is quite fair in his criticism, showing that the greatness of classical Greco-Roman culture carried the seeds of its own destruction, with the considerable aid of the aristocrats who had both invented that culture and who, ultimately, were co-destroyers of it.  One of the distinctions he makes is between the early, heroic period in which it was a life threatening commitment to become a Christian and the frequently corrupt motives and deteriorated, watered-down commitment  to the Gospel of Jesus in the very and of the Western empire.  His contrast between the empty banalities of Ausonius and the far more significant (though seriously flawed)  writing of Augustine is especially convincing on that count.

While reading his account - too long to legally quote from - it was clear that a lot of what he said about the decaying empire was also true of the United States, today and for the past half-century.  The corruption of society, the corruption of intellectual life, the corruption of the intelligentsia and the whole edifice of Roman government and society rotted it out from within.  In virtually every aspect of that rot, a close parallel could be made to the United States, today.   The Roman empire that fell to the alleged barbarians was pretty much on its deathbed when they took advantage of that.  While the Christian church didn't escape the same kind of deterioration that the upper classes suffered and, largely, caused, it didn't fall but rose to fill the vacuum of civil authority.  Cahill's reconstruction of how things went wrong has the virtue of understanding how much of that kind of thing happen out of mere happenstance, that the things that look like opportunities for corruption are quite often the unforseen and unplanned results of other actions and inaction.  While the Church doesn't escape quite serious criticism in that, Cahill does show that a lot of what happened didn't have the intentions of turning into the Monty Python view of the Medieval period, which is what informs most of the allegedly educated understanding of that period, even those held to be intellectual heavyweights in our decaying culture.  I strongly suspect that if we don't kill ourselves off, which is looking like an ever worse bet to make, this period will be seen as the advent of a new dark age in the absence of morals and a devalued view of humanity in a pseudo-scientific reduction of us into objects.  The conception of human beings is central to how we act and, if anything, the scientific reductionist view is as degraded as any held in pre-modern times.  More about that tomorrow.

Here is a passage from the book with comments.

What is really lost when a civilization wearies and grows small is confidence, a confidence built on the order and balance that leisure makes possible.  Again, [Kenneth] Clark: "Civilization requires a modicum of material prosperity - enough to provide a little leisure.  But, far more, it requires confidence - confidence in the society in which one lives, belief in its philosophy, belief in its laws, and confidence in one's own mental powers....

If there is one thing that most of the more popular conceptions and philosophies of human beings, even the view of even alleged sciences, reduces us to everything from irrational animals whose thinking is unreliable and prone to being, actually, governed by the most violent and vicious of atavistic legacies to us being the mere "lumbering robots" controlled as if by remote control from a naive 1960s era conception of "our genes".  Such a view of human beings cannot but be destructive of a concept of government of, by and for The People, who are reduced to objects by such thinking. At its worst, the medieval Christian view of human beings is entirely more generous and ennobling than just about all of what 20th century science proposed.   I don't see how anything like even Roman civilization is possible if that is the view of human beings which is commonly held, even if only by the allegedly educated class.

Vigour, energy, vitality: all the great civilisations - or civilising epochs - have had a weight of energy behind them.  People sometimes think that civilisation consists of fine sensibilities and good conversation and all that.  These can be among the agreeable reults of civilisation,  but they are not what make a civilisation and a society can have these amenities and yet be dead and rigid."  

Whether insoluble political realities or inner spiritual sickness is more to blame for the fall of classical civilization is, finally, beside the point.  The life behind the works we have been studying - the passionate nobility of Virgil, the cool rationality of Cicero, the celestial meditativeness of Plato - this flame of civilization is about to be extinguished.  The works themselves will miraculously escape destruction.  But they will enter the new world of the Middle Ages as thing so strange they might as well have been left behind by interstellar aliens.  One example will suffice to illustrate the strangeness of books to medieval men.  The word grammar - the first step in the course of classical study that modeled all educated men from from Plato to Augustine - will be mispronounced by one barbarian tribe as "glamour." In other words, whoever has grammar - whoever can read - possesses magic inexplicable.  

So living civilization died to be reassembled and assessed by scholars of later ages from the texts preserved miraculously in the pages of its books.  There is, however, one classical tradition that survived the transition - the still living tradition of Roman Law. 

This is the second of Cahill's books I've read, "The Gifts of the Jews" is also very good.  I will certainly be reading more of his work.