Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

review: endgame volume 2 chapter 4

February 14, 2011

preamble to the review…

I’ve read through to the end of chapter 8. ( and as this review sat “In Progress” I read through to chapter 18. I’m more determined now to go chapter by chapter through this work. I don’t want to write a reductive reactionary review. What I’m after is an engaged reading so my plan now is to read both volumes and then with an over all picture of the work, go through it, developing my understanding of his argument.  Jensen’s work at times is personal to the point of confessional. This interests me, because I believe that the personal sphere is where we are most able to make changes. So in this idea of direct action Jensen and I are in complete agreement. The confessional also demands of an empathetic reviewer a certain higher level of respect.

This reminds me of a story. My son was kicking a soccer ball back and forth with another kid. My son was at the time at that age of very little control and the kid he was playing with was a few years younger. So my son would kick the ball as hard as he could at the smaller child, who would then cry. The other parent and I explained to my son that he should pass the ball a little easier. So my son tapped the ball very lightly, and the younger child incredulous says, “I’d rather get hit in the face then have you pass it like that!” What I’m getting at is that Jensen with his confessional would rather get hit in the face then have us take it easy on him.

And finally in this revising note: In radical movements there’s a general dislike of criticism. This dislike is warranted. Anyone working toward social change is constantly getting it from all sides. But this needs to be reformulated as a good thing. We need to be open to criticism. We need to reject censorship of both ourselves and others.)

I’m going to try to continue going through this book chapter by chapter. At this point the exercise is reminiscent of a chapter for chapter read through of Echkart Tolle’s Power of Now. This is some seriously flawed thinking. I feel the need, in this, (the Tolle reading was done with a real friend over email, so I didn’t need to publicly state anything) that I am consciously living for revolution. I am thinking, reading, acting and sometimes writing toward living the revolution everyday. I feel the need to state this in reply to Jensen’s tendency to paint every critic of his ideas as some sort of accomplice in the maintenance of the status quo.

I fell for the advertising surrounding this book. I looked at the book’s page and this description sold me. “Derrick Jensen is a force for the common good. His books are mandatory reading in the study of culture and social change. Derrick Jensen is a contemporary philosopher with his feet firmly on the ground.”

And maybe more than anything it was this bit of bait that hooked me. The book was called “a powerful argument that demands attention in the tradition of such important books as Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization…” I wish there was a contemporary writer working and generating discussion in the tradition of Marcuse.

Jensen is not a philosopher. And yes Marcuse’s books Eros and Civilization, One Dimensional Man, and his essays on Liberation, and on Repressive Tolerance should be read by anyone interested in social change. Endgame is more precisely described as of the tradition of abridged thought that philosophers like Marcuse were writing against.

Review of the chapter titled Identification.

The cultural critic is not happy with civilization, to which alone he owes his discontent. He speaks as if he represents unadulterated nature or a higher historical stage. Yet he is necessarily of the same essence as that to which he fancies himself superior.

This is Adorno from ‘Cultural Criticism and Society,’ the whole of which may be read in Prisms, trans. Samuel and Shierry Weber (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1967), p.19.

This is a short little chapter, but there’s a lot happening here. I pulled that quote from Adorno, who writes in the same tradition as Marcuse. When you read the quote, you need to remember that Adorno is a cultural critic. Then you understand that he’s being self-critical here. Self-criticism is part of the philosophical tradition. I’ll come back to this later, in the next chapter on abusers.

Of course Adorno also reminds us that we need sometimes play the fool and speak that though we’ve got hold of it. We’ve got to do this to move it along. Thinkers knows that we can never really know, but to develop ideas and actions we must go forward as if we can.

If Seven Stories Press is going to claim the continuance of tradition to which Marcuse belonged, I think it fair that we discuss the tradition and Marcuse.

First in this Chapter, Jensen critiques our sense of self as unsustainable. But when he writes that how we perceive our self is how we act, he steps outside the tradition of critical theory, or critical social theory. The problem of self perception is already part of the discussion. Critical theorists are aware of the invisibility of ideology. We may not necessarily perceive ourselves as we act in the world. And that includes us.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading Marcuse in a graduate class you’ll get what I’m saying, maybe not. Jensen writes that in our culture “We are also trained to lack imagination.” And I agree. Marcuse writes about the moronization of the population. (site) But in grad school, the students read that as other people, somehow they’ve managed to dodge this moronization. Grad students perceive themselves as bright, as having made the right choices, and as having been chosen. But it seems Jensen also seems to see himself as having skipped those lack of imagination training sessions.

Jensen, like you and me, is necessarily of the social he criticizes. He is clearly a mutilated individual who lacks imagination. Marcuse writes about this in the conclusion of One-Dimensional Man.

The mutilated individuals (mutilated also in their faculty of imagination) would organize and destroy even more than they are now permitted to do. Such release would be the unmitigated horror – not the catastrophe of culture, but the free sweep of its most repressive tendencies. Rational is the imagination which can become the a priori of the reconstruction and redirection, of the productive apparatus toward a pacified existence, a life without fear. And this can never be the imagination of those who are possessed by the images of domination and, death.

To liberate the imagination so that it can be given all its means of expression presupposes the repression of much that is now free and that perpetuates a repressive society. And such reversal is not a matter of psychology or ethics but of politics, in the sense in which this term has here been used; throughout: the practice in which the basic societal institutions are developed, defined, sustained, and changed. It is the practice of individuals, no matter how organized they may be. Thus the question once again must be faced: how can the administered individuals – who have made their mutilation into their own liberties and satisfactions, and thus reproduce it on an enlarged scale – liberate themselves from themselves as well as from their masters? How is it even thinkable that the vicious circle be broken?

Jensen has the facts. He is motivated by a material reality, but his response lacks imagination. As a product of a destructive culture, Jensen’s imagination leads him to the destruction of civilization. The fruit as they say doesn’t fall far from the tree. Marcuse proposes a “practice in which the basic societal institutions are developed, defined, sustained, and changed.”

Jensen writes:

It would be a mistake to think this culture clearcuts only forests. It clearcuts our psyche as well. It would be a mistake to think it dams only rivers. We ourselves are dammed (and damned)by it as well. It would be a mistake to think it creates dead zones only in the ocean. It creates dead zones in our hearts and minds. It would be a mistake to think it fragments only our habitat. We, too, are fragmented, split off, shredded, rent, torn.

But for some reason Jensen doesn’t perceive this lack of imagination, clearcut psyche, damnation, dead zones, and shredding of himself. Because after all of his analysis, and after we do some analyzing on our own, he writes, “we can proceed to tear something else apart.” The torn becomes the tearer. the bent becomes the bender

Imaginary Life Journey (September 13, 1923)

First a childhood, limitless and without
renunciation or goals. O unselfconscious joy.
Then suddenly terror, barriers, schools, drudgery,
and collapse into temptation and loss.

Defiance. The one bent becomes the bender,
and thrusts upon others that which it suffered.
Loved, feared, rescuer, fighter, winner
and conqueror, blow by blow.

And then alone in cold, light, open space,
yet still deep within the mature erected form,
a gasping for the clear air of the first one, the old one…

Then God leaps out from behind his hiding place.

 

Update http://www.decolonizingyoga.com/how-derrick-jensens-deep-green-resistance-supports-transphobia/

Review: endgame volume 2 chapter 3

February 11, 2011

In the chapter entitled “Importance” we learn that Jensen doesn’t equate civilization with species. The argument he’s making is not fueled entirely by misanthropy or racism.

Reviewing a book chapter by chapter, sometimes this happens. I don’t really know what to make of this section. Is this just, and I say just, but the threat I’m sure is real, a way of shaking off the racists, windbags, nihilist people haters, conspiracy theorists who would be attracted to the idea of taking civilization down?

Because in prefering the indegenous over civilized, Jensen flirts with race. He flirts with eugenics. Because race isn’t just hatred of those outside, but the impure element within the race. Jensen has given talks, a lot of talks. I’ve been to enough to know, that someone in the crowd will stand up and criticize one race for breeding too much. Here he’s addressing, more dismissing, “do something, or shut the hell up” those who think the problem is breeding (racists).

It’s an interesting story about the racist who shuts the hell up. But it’s probably not a good idea to think the racists have been dealt with. We’re probably going to be discussing the problem again later.

Review: endgame volume 2 chapter 2

February 11, 2011

“The state of emergency in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a concept of history that is in keeping with this insight.”

John Berger quotes Walter Benjamin in Hold Everything Dear.

The quote is clipped by Berger, so it’s presentation clipped is here more for discussion than argument. Because as Benjamin wrote it, (see number 8 (and here the translation is “emergency situation” )) we are to clearly realize that our task is to bring about a real state of emergency. And this is clearly what Jensen is trying to convince us to do.

Let’s not lose our heads. I’m riffing on the sense of urgency behind Jensen’s call to action. The picture pretty much speaks for itself. Jensen begins chapter 2 of volume 2 describing the scientific prediction of this news article. Our last date is 2100. And Jensen writes, “We also know that most of those who act will not do so with a level of urgency commensurate with the situation.” and he ends the section with the line “Civilization needs to be brought down.”

Jensen is older than I am. I mention this because I’m old enough to remember bomb drills. Sure this article is about the 50, but things didn’t improve in the 60, and in the 70 we were still getting under our desks to be prepared for the big one. Prince sang Ronnie talk to Russia, 1999. These songs didn’t come out of nowhere. During the the cold war we all lived in a state of emergency, that, maybe it was because I was young, but since 9/11, the state of emergency seem less threatening. The problem for revolutionaries is this need to create a real state of emergency, in this eternal “state of emergency”.

The problem with lines like “Civilization needs to be brought down.” at least for me, is I see this lone guy jumping on a squad of riot cops. Don’t be that guy. That’s not even advice, because if you are that guy you’re already gone.

For the book review part of this post Jensen tells us in this chapter that “This abandonment ( of autonomous moral responsibility) is central to everything that is wrong with this culture, and it is central to the explorations in this book.” And in this chapter Jensen tells us, “The solution is to reintegrate, to feel what we feel, to determine our own moralities (large and small scale) and to act on them.” So here in chapter 2 we’ve made it to the center of everything that is wrong with our culture, and we’ve got the solution.

He defines the terms strategy and tactic, so we can discuss the plan. But he also discusses violence, hate and dualisms. He also continues to do those things with the concepts I mentioned in chapter 1. And interestingly, coincidentally he defines rationalization in almost identical language to my definition of stupidity in the post on chapter 1. Rationalization he defines as “the deliberate elimination of information unnecessary to achieving an immediate task.”

At the end of the chapter we’re asked to put down the book and imagine the world we want. I should probably put a sketch of my imagined world down here. I desire the spread of autonomia; the development of complex relationships, through local councils, co-ops, community, love. I desire real direct democracy and free education. I think if we were more developed we’d be better able to solve our problems.

Review: Endgame Volume 2 Chapter 1

February 9, 2011

Frank Zappa observed, “It’s not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you.”

Oh no. Oh no.

It’s me, the disappointment is all mine. I’ve been on the lookout for a good and revolutionary plan of action for more than two decades. I’m an eternal optimist. I dive in with open expectations and in this case, in the case of Derrick Jensen‘s endgame, I feel the disappointment deeply. Jensen has come up, his name, that he’s the leading edge philosopher of the radical movement, has somehow, I’m sure the internet has something to do with it, come into my consciousness. Me. I want change, I want radical change, so when Jensen became a topic of discussion on VMC, when the possibility of a discussion of a radical call to action presented itself, because it is hard to talk about radical ideas, flipping through volume 2 of endgames, and I also flipped through 50 ways to stay in denial while the world burns, and this difficulty, this frustration of trying to connect with others at a radical level is something Jensen and I share, so yes when the possibility of a discussion presented itself I took it. I am taking it. This is it. This is the beginning of a long look at Jensen’s endgame.

I’m starting in the middle. It’s as good as any place to start. And I only have a copy of Volume 2. So I can’t start at the beginning. The sentence that stands out in the first chapter of the second volume comes immediately after the first break. Jensen writes “I am not stupid.” The act of writing that begs the question. Ok. Derrick. If you’re not stupid, who is? Me? Your reader? Because in eight pages, in the Chapter entitled “We Shall Destroy All Of Them” you’re presenting an argument/call to action that takes as its motto a telling line from the ethos guiding the actions that oppress us and the planet, and then ask us to take that motto on for ourselves, as a call to action to destroy our oppressors. There is a whole lot of stupidity here. Jensen has clearly been dismissed before as a stupid reactionary, part of his argument is spent dispensing with that dismissal.

Had I started at the beginning, I imagine, I can’t know for sure because I didn’t start at the beginning, but I imagine there would be much more basis for, or maybe not… I mean part of Jensen’s frustration is that he’s not really telling us anything we don’t already know. Everybody knows that deforestation, mining, milling, pulping, bleaching, cooling, fertilizing, pesticides, energy and manufacturing waste is threatening the health of every living thing, and yes, deniers included, the inconvenient truth of climate change has us all conscious of living in end times. It was in the 60’s that the Lorax gave us the word “UNLESS” and today no one, not a single person living in our civilization is unaware of the impending planetary doom of industrial growth.

Jensen has some concepts (being fair) and does some things with them that might come up later, but here in this review of the first chapter in the second volume I want to deal with stupidity. Here too, I’ll agree with Jensen that civilization, our civilization is the problem. We have been created in and by this civilization, so we are of it, and all his criticism of the civilization, that it is stupid, insane, and death-driven apply to us as well. Look at Jensen’s plan, in a nutshell to make war on the war-machine. It is stupid, insane and death-driven. The criticism, by extension applies to me and you. We are stupid, insane and death-driven. But here like I said, I’ll only deal with stupid.

Our civilized way of thinking is to dismiss the stupid, insane and death-driven, which is ourselves, and Jensen, he’s one of us. This dismissal preserves the self, maintains the stupid, insane, death-driven self and perpetuates civilization. So lets not be dismissive.

Let’s engage with Jensen. Let’s develop ourselves. Because the opposite of stupid is not smart. There are a lot of smart people doing the stupid, insane and death-driven actions that Jensen wants to destroy. We’re not really looking for an opposite, what we’re looking for is a way out of stupidity, which is a closed, limited way of thinking and acting on limited thought. What we want to do is develop, and that means incorporating everything, it means developing our ideas out in the open, with others, for good and revolutionary action.

Moving House

October 16, 2010

When I give the time since I last did something, like say, it’s been a little over a month since my last blog post, I often find myself back in the confessional of my youth. I note this, only as a note. It has nothing to do with what follows, and what follows (as yet unwritten) I can say with some certainty will be a collection of loosely related notes.

Since the first of this month I’ve been without a home internet connection. And in the weeks prior to the first of this month I was packing up everything for our second major move this year. I want to note the nostalgia that comes over in the packing stage, and it may be that with three children, and being a collector, and living with a collector, a better word might be keeper, we’re definitely keepers of cards, letters, diaries, photos, ribbons, teeth, hair, drawings, paintings, toys, lunch pails, books, magazines and a being a keeper means having an interest in the things being kept. So packing is a slow process as all those interesting things are examined as they are moved into boxes. The experience is overwhelming, at least for a writer imagining the possibility of typing out the experience all at once.

There is an idea here. Once I’m settled in this new place, and I’m guessing that might be another couple weeks, I’d like to occasionally go through the collections, and write about something that inspires. That may not have come across earlier, but the overwhelming I was talking about was in part inspiration to write, just too much inspiration all at once.

There sure are a lot of reasons working against writing regularly. If it’s not too much inspiration, it’s too little, and inspiration hasn’t even been the biggest issue behind my low word count.  This post is pointless, and really, the only writing I ever do is a kind of incoherent rambling, but I’m more often than not blocked by a desire to get it right and then put it out, of course I never get it right. I think I’ve managed to overcome that block, we’ll see.

So much has changed over the past year, not just changing buildings. When Jimi Hendrix asks, “Have you ever been experienced?” I’d today answer that I have. I am definitely experienced, after a lifetime of sheltered experience, I’ve been in some pretty hairy spots, but until this past year, I’ve never had pure experience. I’ve been telling people that I’m enlightened. That I’m the motherfucking buddha. And I’m not kidding. I have been experienced.

I have seen The Trotsky, which is worth seeing. The scene where Leon’s being interviewed by the ex-Prime Minister’s son, and his lawyer/lover pulls the plug on the interview as he’s about to reveal that he is in fact the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky is relevant here. It’s crazy to claim enlightenment (or reincarnation) or any other form of mysticism. Eckhart Tolle suffered a psychotic break and sold millions of copies of the book that puts his psychosis right out there, but he’s still crazy. I can’t yet articulate the enlightenment other than through jokes. I am not really the Buddha, not even the motherfucking buddha, but I have definitely been experienced, lived a series of epiphanies, become enlightened.

I started writing up Siddhartha a few years back but never finished. I should give it another try, with all this enlightenment talk. There was also something about fatherhood I wanted to write up but never got around to it.

And finally I’ve come to terms with work for hire. This is part of my enlightenment and best left for future articulation. I’ve had an issue with maintaining my personal integrity in work for hire. As a person, I have no interest in manipulating others. If you are not interested in something, it ends there for me. I can not sell anything. Wouldn’t win your vote. I let the worst happen before giving up my own, even hypothetical, autonomy. Your autonomy I will not mess with. It’s not morality or an ethic, of course I will develop it into an ethic, for now it’s more on a level of personal comfort. So while I was a full-time stay-at-home parent, I was expecting to go back into teaching when the time came. But now as a part-time stay-at-home parent looking for part-time work-for-hire the thought of teaching is repulsive, at least in the regular classroom with kids who don’t really want to be there.

I’ve found something I like to do and will start writing about it as soon as I’m settled. The content will fit seemlessly here, but I’ll also be posting it on a work-based blog. There might be some editing. We’ll see. Always a work in progress…

Burning Consciousness

March 18, 2010

“Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror-factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.” [ Granger ]

“Well now you’re lookin’ for a world of truth; Trying to find a better way; The time has come to see yourself; You always look the other way” [ John Lennon ]

“How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.” [V for Vendetta]

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways, and no message could have been any clearer, if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself then make a change, nana na nana na na na na na…” [Michael Jackson]

Aristotle’s Ethics Book I

October 29, 2009

More people are comfortable discussing, hell expounding on, the works of philosophers than have actually read them. That said, readers, and I am guilty of this, will take away, twist away, tear out of context anything they want from a book.

Writers know this, and have developed techniques for convincing, or in the case of Socrates, just getting across a desired idea, knowing full well there is no convincing your audience.

Perhaps someone might say, “Socrates, can you not go away from us and live quietly, without talking?” Now this is the hardest thing to make some of you believe. For if I say that such conduct would be disobedience to the god and that therefore I cannot keep quiet, you will think I am jesting and will not believe me; and if again I say that to talk every day about virtue and the other things about which you hear me talking and examining myself and others is the greatest good to man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you will believe me still less. This is as I say, gentlemen, but it is not easy to convince you.

Aristotle late in book ten, shows an awareness of the difficulty in convincing an audience of anything (how do those conspiracy theorists do it?). But knowing the difficulty of communication is to understand a need for clarity. Aristotle (I need to reread from Plato to Prozac) is also fairly clear about the nature of happiness. Happiness is the good we are pursuing. Of this good Aristotle says:

For even if the good of the community coincides with that of the individual, it is clearly a greater and more perfect thing to achieve and preserve that of the community; for while it is desirable to secure what is good in the case of an individual, to do so in the case of a people or a state is something finer and more sublime.

Such, then is the aim of our investigation; and it is a kind of political science. (p.64)

You could pull a quote like this:

it is desirable to secure what is good in the case of an individual

to maintain your philosophy of individualism, but to then call your individualism Aristotelian would be a complete misappropriation of authority. For Aristotle, the aim of “our investigation” is clearly the good of the community.

I put “our investigation” in quotes to emphasize the communal quality of Aristotle’s thinking.

When the outline has been satisfactorily drawn, it may be supposed that anybody can carry on the work and fill in the detail; and that in such a case time is a good source of invention and cooperation. (p.76)

There is a communal quality, but to read this correctly, it must be understood that for Aristotle only a master can satisfactorily draw an outline. Aristotle is not a democrat. He argued for a government by the best, but this best, which might be difficult for moderns to understand, also had a communal quality, they were the best for everyone. This is not an isolated class of the best, but a best in communication with everyone. They provide the outlines that we fill in, and in this filling in, we develop. By living with and learning from the best we become the best we can be. We are all in pursuit of happiness, “the best, the finest, most pleasurable thing of all.” (p.79)

That the most important and finest thing of all should be left to chance would be a gross disharmony. (p.81)

I pulled this quote for the obvious reason. Aristotle sees happiness as something not left to chance.

Also on this view [that happiness is acquired by moral goodness and by some kind of study or training] happiness will be something widely shared; for it can attach, through some form of study or application, to anyone who is not handicapped by some incapacity for goodness. (p.80)

“Moral goodness” has nothing to do with Christian morality. The notion of personal salvation may have been understood by Aristotle, but he did dismiss the idea of an individual pursuit of happiness.

People do in fact seek their own good, and think they are right to act in this way. It is from this belief that the notion has arisen that such people are prudent. Presumably, however, it is impossible to secure one’s own good independently of domestic and political science. (p.214)

For Aristotle happiness was the end of a communal effort. Domestic and political science are essentially inquiries toward living well together. Aristotle also very clearly removes the sphere of divinity from our area of inquiry.

The goodness that we have to consider is a human goodness, obviously; for it was the good for man or happiness for man that we set out to discover. (p.87)

Unserious shallow systems blending opinion and cycnicism

October 26, 2009

Common Friend: Pommer’s Law “A person’s mind can be changed by reading information on the internet. The nature of this change will be from having no opinion to having a wrong opinion.”

The same could be said for newspapers, radio, television, magazines, hell, billboards…..

Common Friend: Yup.

Common Opinion: By definition there’s no such thing as a “wrong” opinion. Perhaps this Pommer fella means an “ill-informed” opinion.

Wrong. An opinion is the result of deliberation, or at least it should be. The calculative faculty of mind is the space where opinion (doxa) is generated. Sure it deals with what is variable, and as such can not be proven false, that is until one acts on an opinion.

The issue here is “unit of thought” if one deliberates on the facts taken off a t-shirt, say “I’m with stupid. –>” that one is not aware of all or enough of the facts to make a correct opinion. A book length unit of thought say, “The autobiography of stupid” might give us more facts for deliberation.

Aristotle tells us that “Judgment and opinion can be quite mistaken” But he also suggests a lifetime of study be put into the deliberation of the facts on which an opinion is formed.

Common Opinion: We live in an era when most people don’t have the attention span to write “for you” in full rather than “4U” so I think Aristotle’s “lifetime of study” suggestion might be setting the bar a bit high.
I was merely pointing out that phrases like “wrong opinion” and “correct opinion” (yours) are unpleasantly redolent of Stalinism, at least to me.
In any case, I was actually thinking more of existential imponderables when I said there’s no such thing as a wrong opinion – I meant eternal questions like Is there a God? Does life have any meaning? Should Common W. Friend be nicknamed “Dubya” in honour of his middle initial? Stuff like that…

I found this quote:

“Philosophy as a “discipline” has no real thesis about “theoretical fascism” because it basically considers the latter to be beneath all critique.

But herein lies the weak point — of critique. It remains fixated on “serious opponents,” and with this attitude it neglects the task of comprehending the ideological template of “unserious,” shallow “systems.” To this day critique has thus not been a match for this modern blend of opinion and cynicism.” — Peter Sloterdijk in The Critique of Cynical Reason

And then this came to my inbox:

YES, I’M A BAD CANADIAN

I Am the Liberal-Progressives Worst Nightmare.
I am a Canadian.

I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family,
not some liberal governmental functionary be it
NDP, Liberal or Conservative!

I’m in touch with my feelings and I like it that way!

I think owning a gun doesn’t make you a killer,
it makes you a Canadian with a Gun ,that’s it .

I think being a minority does not make you noble or victimized,
and does not entitle you to anything handed to you.

I believe that if you are selling me a Big Mac, it should be in English or French. And when I take money out of the ATM/ABM I should have only those two options.

I believe everyone has a right to pray to his or her Godwhen and where they want to.

My heroes are John Wayne, Joe Carter, Wayne Gretsky, Roy Rogers, and Don Cherry.

I know wrestling is fake and I don’t waste my time
watching or arguing about it.

I’ve never owned a slave, or was a slave, I haven’t burned any witches or been persecuted by the Turks orPersecuted any Native Indians myself and neither have you!
So, shut up already.

I believe if you don’t like the way things are here,
go back to where you came from and change your own country!

This is CANADA .

If you were born here and don’t like it you are free
to move to any Socialist country that will have you.

I think the cops have every right to shoot your sorry ass
if you’re running from them..

I also think they have the right to pull you over if you’re breaking
the law, regardless of what colour you are.

And, no, I don’t mind having my face shown on my drivers license.
It’s the law, I think it’s good……and I think we should.

I think if you are too stupid to know how a ballot works,
I don’t want you deciding who should be running our nation
for the next four years.

I hate those people standing in the intersections
trying to sell me stuff or trying to guilt me into making ‘donations’
to their cause them.
Get Lost.

I believe that it doesn’t take a village to raise a child,
it takes two parents.

I believe ‘illegal’ is illegal no matter what the lawyers think.

I believe the Canadian flag should be the only one allowed in CANADA !

If this makes me a BAD Canadian,
then yes, I’m a BAD Canadian
and tough shit.

If you are a BAD Canadian too,
please forward this to everyone you know.

We want our country back!
This Bull-shit has gone far enough.

an introduction to Aristotle’s Ethics

October 18, 2009

How close to a self-help book is Aristotle’s Ethics? Imagine Aristotle as the Oprah of his day… Yesterday I picked up a book from the Thrift Shop on Main to pass the time in a coffee shop while my son was at a nearby birthday party. Bradshaw On: The Family, a 1988 self help book, a follow-up of a PBS television series, a preface by Carol Burnett, starts with the thesis that the family is dysfunctional, and well, here are the ways to get it functional. Hitler came from a family. I’m not just making this up. This is just one of the pieces of evidence Bradshaw holds up against the family. I read the first chapter, and a difference between the common self help book and Aristotle’s Ethics, is that Aristotle waits until the last chapter/book before he lets his contemporary society have it. The Ethics was apparently written because pretty much everyone living in A.s time was an asshole. Bradshaw goes on about how shit everything is upfront.

In the introduction to the Penguin edition Barnes gives the eleventh thesis on Feuerbach as A.’s purpose. “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” Today still, issues surround the family. Just today I watched Where the wild things are. That Eggers, who came to fame with his autobiography, and collective fantasy, (that’s cold, but consider Atwood’s Handmaid silently inseminated by the husband of her female master while held tight to her masters body, we live in a messed up world of rape fantasies and idealized family relations after death – recall the funeral scene from Heathers when the father cries, “I love my dead gay son.”) of our parents dying in quick succession, has this time, put out the saddest fantasy of collective loneliness I’ve seen since Mister Lonely.

Aristotle’s ethics proposes friendship as the way to a happy life. Friend, is sometimes used as a quality, as in: “He has no friend.” where friend is used in the same sense as say pride, as in: “He has no pride.” I’m mentioning this, because the friendship, the friend that you present to others must be of a certain quality to lead to a happy life. A man must act with virtue. These virtues are fully explained by Aristotle.  He later informs us that these virtues are rare qualities. So while the point of the Ethics, and philosophy for that matter is to change the world, seems the world is resisting.

Aristotle sets us up for an incredible amount of work. This might be the main difference between the ethics and a self-help book. The Ethics, while written more than 2000 years ago, includes in its pages, an opening for the entirety of human knowledge. We, according to Aristotle, are to learn absolutely everything, and then through deliberation, a kind of good and right thinking, act virtuously in accordance with a kind of harmony with this good and right thinking.

The opening, the space left for the sphere of deliberation, the future of knowledge, the openness of the Ethics, might be the key to its longevity. Look at Bradshaws book. Close down the new knowledge, fix it, then fix it. If you believe that we know, then you can believe that you know and feel better about yourself. Aristotle proposed a kind of experimental life, the good life as the experiment of the good man. There are a lot of unknowns in that proposition.

From the Introduction by Jonathan Barnes

October 17, 2009

The Ethics is a work of practical science. What that means is that the characteristic aim of studying ethics is not the acquisition of knowledge about action but action itself – we read the Ethics, according to Aristotle, not in order to know what good men are like, but in order to act as good men do (1095a5; 1103b25).

The student of ethics is unlikely to discover how a good man will act unless he has some knowledge of the general capacities and characteristics of human beings.

Aristotle is impressed by the seemingly infinite variety of human circumstances and situations.

It is worth underlining the fact that Aristotle is here adopting an extreme position, not unlike the one taken up by some existentialist thinkers: morals, he implies, cannot by any means be reduced to a set of universal principles; any principle that may be formulated is liable to exeption, any universal moral judgement (strictly construed) is false.

“the Ethics is expressly practical: its philosophy aims at changing the world, not at interpreting it.”

“the ‘happy’ man will be a lover of men and an admirer of beauty as well as a contemplator of truth – -a friend and an aesthete as well as a thinker.”