More vocabulary: extremism, Islamist

Let us consider some vocabulary that has been put out in the news of the last few years.

Islamist: Exactly what is an Islamist? At some point not too long ago, the spelling Moslem was an acceptable expression, further still, was the expression ‘Mohammedan’ was a label for a Muslim. At no point, however, were these terms explicitly loaded with a negative import. Islamist seems to define a terrorist who acts supposedly in the name of Islam. Whether such people do so in the name of a religion is another issue, but what I want to point out is how it seems odd, perhaps even rude, to make a word almost seem that it is criterial to being a Muslim that one has an ‘extreme’ point of view. Would we have a Hinduist or a Jesusan to describe terrorists of those respective religions? I think not.

Extremist: To be extreme, means what? A deviant view? A far right, or far left political point of view? Who is to say whether something is extreme or not? Is it extreme, for instance, to believe that mathematical knowledge is empirical? (I think so) Is it extreme to be sexually promiscuous? (Perhaps, but it seems onthe borders of acceptability at its best). A view that is classed as extreme is done in such a way that seems to assume that our point of view has a greater validity without really addressing the nitty gritty issues of rights, duties, or arguments.

Calling something extreme seems a prima facie dismissive act.

(Antisophie and Sinistre*)

Antisophie’s lament

People often say Plato is the first realist, that is true I suppose, but what he means as ‘realism’ is obscenely metaphysical and not the sort of thing that one would think would amount to a ‘realism’ to some ears.

The other day I saw the man of my dreams, he was everything I imagined in fantasies long ago. Brooding intellect. Secret identity. Sensual and soft physical features. Effeminate in mannerisms, and yet, a man par excellance. With the ideals of a bygone age instilled within him, the look, feel, and taste, of someone from a different era; his dress victorian, and yet, modern. Casual, and yet, smart. Profane and yet profound.

With thick, flowing and mangled locks, expressing both tenderness and furore. You may first see him as a warrior prince from an age afar. In other capacities he looks as harmless as a man could be: like a librarian or a primary school teacher. His looks and manner are inoffensive to the eye, and yet, the symbols of potency of which he exhibits represent such opposition, opposition to the establishment, to the elite: for here comes the new elite.

The mild mannered and bumbling fool is his daily persona, beneath the secret power, the artistic, intellectual, and violent passion that is he. I see him, I know he is real. If he is so real, a fantasy so obscenely decadent to my desires: I come to question: am I real?

There has to be a catch for one so desirable to be real? And yet there is. The devil is indeed in the detail, for the man is real, but the fantasy inaccessible, as is his love. I enter a dilemma:

Does the man of my dreams, the hero of whom I fantasised, come to be my sole interest, and in doing so, realising my fantasy of the perfect Roman hero. Yet, if he served to my every desire would that not make him less of the hero I imagined? He would indulge me but would he actually be the man I dreamt of?

Or, must he abandon all solely indulgent human pursuits as transient as love to pursue a higher, more noble goal? My fantasy becomes unattainable and yet real?

From Plato’s cave laments a more difficult kind of realism, not the intellectual reality of forms, but the very notion that our thoughts themselves are concrete.

Antisophie

If Barack were President….

…he would be quite an encouraging figure of confidence to Europe’s overwhelming ideological rule of the past few centuries

…there would always be people who hated him

…race jokes would always be in the background (e.g. ‘George Bush = Drunk Texan’ stayed on a bit), but it wouldn’t be as big as his actual policies and actions

…people would celebrate for a while, and then criticise him for when he has to make the hard decisions; because a leader always has to make the hard choice

…people would make conspiracy theories, having Hussein as a middle name helps encourage the imagination

…I just hope that the guys in dead ringers don’t do a blackface routine…though its inevitable

…we’d still be in the shitter as regarding the economy, debt, climate change, resource management, international terrorism, and airbourne viruses that spread through chickens.

I wonder how the Americans will vote. Given the influence of the USA; I reckon that US citizens are voting with many hundreds of people who want to also determine the fate of the US government, and, the world.

Antisophie

Things we take for granted

1. Computationalism – in the philosophy of mind, computer science: this is the view that the physical brain can be, should be, or is describable as a manipulator of digital information; that all brain processes are algorithmic, and this algorithmic level has an even higher logical (or axiomatic) language of description. I’ve seen Dawkins in places adopt this kind of view, and for philosophers working in contemporary areas, it seems like a harmless assumption (like assuming modus ponens is valid an inference).

2. Mathematicisation desideratum: Another thing we seem to take for granted is, in our acceptance of predominantly recieved notions in the physical sciences, we also take the wholesale acceptance of the assumption that physical reality can be mathematically formulated, or to state this in less rigid terms; that there is an a priori constructablity constraint hinged upon anything that may count as ‘science’. A corollorary thing to note is how people associate natural sciences with numbers and ‘data’, with the arts and humanities, by contrast, with ‘words’. But that’s a whole other issue!

Not to say that these are bad things to assume; but these are powerful assumptions that people hardly come to question. That said, there are some well rehearsed objections to mathematical representation pace Newton. But that’s another story!

Sinistre

Thoughts on character

1. Being a good person is not about a two-value system of right and wrong. That makes being human sound like being a logic machine!

2. Instead, we must appeal to broader features of character, cowardice, bravery, dedication, humility.

3. The tension I find however, is in the role of the ascetic. Surely the ascetic is one who gets work done. Surely indulgence is the evil to productivity?

4. Character is the key part of agency, in intent, not action, do we find our morality. While an outcome is an outcome, and the unexpected always occurs. The ingenuity and resource we find for moral agency is within our exploration of human nature itself.

5. So then comes our question, how do we find a conception or consideration of good character? We may appeal to literary characters. Kant points out how the characters of Shakespeare and Moliere are so overblown in their follies and virtues with the instruction to the novelist that that a subtle point is not to be learned by many, and yet a broad point can be grasped by not few but many.

Destre

Spontaneity (sic)

I like improvisation, because

1. It is an insulting gesture to popular music and Jazz to parody it by pointing out its fundamental rules and showing its fundamental shallowness
2. It helps me, by parodying styles, to remind me of how formulaic most musics are, even in improvisation
3. The best way to avoid writer’s block is when you just do something. Writer’s block happens if you are thinking too much about something and don’t genuinely have any good thoughts on an issue. Acting on impulse always is the strongest conviction, but can be done well, or very badly.

Sinistre

Kant as the cultural savant?

I spent some time reading Kant’s cultural writings a while back, and there are some interesting, and yet, surprising (to me, anyway) characteristics about Kant.

Kant was well-read, not as an academic philosopher or scientist, but as a European man of the 18thC. Kant was well versed in English literature and philosophy; it seems he was familiar with some French literary figures; Kant read a lot of the accounts of the European explorers who wrote about those of different nationalities around the world: the Chinese, the Native Americans and Africans. While Kant has eccentric-to-racist views about these people, it is of intellectual virtue and courage to learn about them all the same in a way that exhibits an open minded attitude (relative to the time).

It seems almost to have put forward this normative conception of the enlightenment intellectual status where knowing all sorts of different perspectives and ways of living that seems marks a good intellect. It is not a sign of a man of wisdom, for instance, to be locked into a single perspective and area (although that alone isn’t a bad thing) without any serious consideration.

To say my view is the right view with an a priori doubt about anyone else’s perspective being genuinely insightful, is, as an intellectual personality, a deadly vice. It is in this way, that being the Eurocentric explorer seems to be the more insightful view; being priviledged in having one view but willing to explore others. To be able to find insight in anything, no matter how unfamiliar, scary, vain, deep, shallow, or stupid. Appealing to the common man, the primate, or the philistine. It’s hard to do by admission, really hard; but it marks a personality commitment that makes one distinct. Some charitable insights can be made of Kant’s otherwise reprehensible cultural insights by looking at Kant in this way. Like the older person who means well but fucks it up unintentionall all too often.

Sinistre*

Regress

In some of Kant’s more social and political writings there is a distinct sense in which he tacitly thinks that the Eurocentric view is not only the correct one; but that there are important features to the contemporamous European mindset. This goes in line with Kant’s more general address of the broadly enlightenment values.

One particularly interesting notion (in the Antrhopology), is the claim that there is nothing that prevents a regress to a previous and less civilised mode of social living. Libraries may be razed, religion may lose its control, and perhaps even the system of rule can be abolished. What is there to save us from ourselves? I am not entirely sure how we may answer this. It seems like a perennial worry of generations: how the next batch after us may undo what they have strived for so long to protect, save, or establish.

In our times, this too seems a relevant worry. With the economic upsets, there are distinct critical concerns about our current system of political economy; with our geopolitics, we find that the large nationstates are increasingly coming to the realisation of their invasive world invovlement; and with the physical geography itself at stake, we are always at the fear of the fundamental foundations of what establish order, stability, and the status quo, at the risk of falling apart. There is nothing certain, even within a legal order, to stop such drastic of changes, in some respects such is the nature of agency itself.

The notion of an outside, or greater agency to govern us, or govern the rules of conduct, seem desirable. The salvation narrative is a comforting allegory to our current situation, and I can expect a very neat theology of social change to be given here. That the world changes it the gift of human agency, it is as much a blessing as it is a curse: for we are responsible for both saving the world and damning it. It is our choice to determine whether we can save ourselves, by what we do. It is the relevance of the salvation narrative to so many social situations, and its plasticity (and yet, its universality) to interpreting a situation that I find the Christian theology to be endlessly fascinating.

Sinistre

a wtf moment

How come there are so many versions of street fighter II?

Perhaps people question that less when you find that it is capcom’s best selling game even today….

bizarre.

I once had a Street fighter II game on the dreamcast (a long time ago), and I thought it was a bit stupid to have a game of such capacity on a higher capacity console. That’s following the consumer’s wants. Idiots.

Michael