Voltaire’s Ladder

"I flattered myself," replied Pangloss, "to have reasoned a little with you
on the causes and effects, on the best of possible worlds, the origin of evil,
the nature of the soul, and a pre-established harmony.”

At these words the dervish shut the door in their faces.


"Above all, Voltaire’s contes demonstrate that systems are an unwarranted and unsustainable imposition of false order on the facts of life.”
Roger Pearson

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


Like recent apocalyptica (Book of EliOblivion), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes delivers the future through linear narrative and little context (geographic, political). Beneath the film’s vindictive semi-automatics, San Fran Endor, and human-like expressions (humans, by the way, are apes, but Hollywood repudiates phylogeny) lies another thin take on one-dimensional man. He’s territorial and gun-crazy. Perhaps a post-sapien world doesn’t permit one-dimensional complexity as Herbert Marcuse saw it: technological rationalization, consumer irrationalization, and the deluge of “unfreedom” that naturalizes both. Even so, these missed complexities are far less egregious than Dawn’s feeble Oedipal relations, that between Caesar and his rebellious son, “Blue Eyes,” and the scarred, Scar-like (less Claudius-like) adjutant Koba. Oedipus Rex may be as old as simian flu, but that shouldn’t mean a flat rendering of the myth. Dawn’s excellent actors (Serkis, Clarke, and Russell) do not deserve the betrayal. 

Human limits (species-specific) could be revealed with a paradox, which may be paradoxical.

Being and Twitter

Arcifinium and affront,
Cloak and techne,
"Es gibt"? #Retweet!

"The social grooming of guanxi is not selfishness, but reciprocity."


Placing the Myth of the Given


"There is a source of the Myth of the Given to which even philosophers who are suspicious of the whole idea of inner episodes can fall prey. This is the fact that when we picture a child—or a carrier of slabs—learning his first language, we, of course, locate the language learner in a structured logical space in which we are at home. Thus, we conceive of him as a person (or, at least, a potential person) in a world of physical objects, colored, producing sounds, existing in Space and Time. But though it is we who are familiar with this logical space, we run the danger, if we are not careful, of picturing the language learner as having ab initio some degree of awareness—‘pre-analytic,’ limited and fragmentary though it may be—of this same logical space. We picture his state as though it were rather like our own when placed in a strange forest on a dark night. In other words, unless we are careful, we can easily take for granted that the process of teaching a child to use a language is that of teaching it to discriminate elements within a logical space of particulars, universals, facts, etc., of which it is already undiscriminatingly aware, and to associate these discriminated elements with verbal symbols. And this mistake is in principle the same whether the logical space of which the child is supposed to have this undiscriminating awareness is conceived by us to be that of physical objects or of private sense contents.”

—Wilfrid Sellars, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind

David Harvey speaking about his new book, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Is there ever a specific, fixed moment of meaning, even if “meaning-is-use”? The “piecemeal habits of response” could be misleading.

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