Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday commute cxiii: Resisting plaidfully

   We concur:
   kick back.

   If we don't 
   tell Satur-
   day what to 
   do, it will
   soon enough
   tell us. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What it looked like

   Sliver of the
   moon through
   the woods down

   I'm not sure
   if we were
   meant to see.

   Every star
   out, too.

   It's what it
   looked like,

   and looks
   like as we
   look again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Origins of Wednesday xvii: Love? Love what?

   When you are philoso-
   phising, you have to
   descend into primeval
   chaos, and feel at
   home there. 


   We still think of the 
   oppression of the ques-
   tion. But then one is 
   always restored, by the 
   explosion of the answer.


   Are we the
   Tea Party?
   We see the
   flattery -
   yet hear a

   I think it
   speaks for
   fair play. 

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Culture and Value
Basil Blackwell
G.H. von Wright
op. cit.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Yes, I see

  We don't have any
  opening just now.

      I'm not here for
      what you have; I
      am here for what
      I've fairly won. 

             In 2008, we had a "change election"
             which took remarkable hold, against
             the very most vulgar resistance. It
             goes on, in both Parties; but it is
             the one whose property it is, we do
             rush to invigorate with its origins.

             It's trusteeship. Now a Clinton has
             promised the Brookings Institution,
             she will contrive to bind all Pres-
             idents who may follow her pending
             reign, to warfare against Iran for
             hypotheticals which may worry her.

             Ignoring the vessel of the promise,
             it's the thought that counts. She
             has assimilated nothing of the ge-
             nius of a cause, of which she now
             claims to be a prudent parent.

             This is not the Constitution, much
             less the civilisation, one should
             wish upon a kennel for one's dogs.
             Even the Pavlovian reflex requires
             actual provocation, to go to war;
             but is that species our baseline?

             The principles of an honest intel-
             lect cannot be blackmailed again,
             by warnings of doom from that sec-
             tor's messenger, even if familiar,
             admonishing us to get to bed, and
             not expect a candidacy of reason.

             To no one's great awe, The Post
             has trotted forward Ignatius and
             Marcus, to intone that her belli-
             cosity's exactly the right basis
             for further discussion. An imper-
             ious consensus, if not a new one.
             How tiresomely they mime what we
             rejected decisively, in 2008.

             Oh, yes. They will warn of a cor-
             rupting of the Courts, a lowering
             of obligations among the well-to-
             do, a curdling in béarnaise. Let
             there be the trials we've endured,
             and learned to master, before any
             taunting to renounce our progress.

             Who caused it? Who'd preserve it?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

So now you're at Yale: the provenance question

I suppose, it is a feature of age,
not merely to sympathise more than
is welcome, with the trials of the
present, but to perceive them, al-
most as a corollary of lengthy re-
flection, as potentially rather a
godsend to the young - who can be
counted on (much to the amusement
of the gods who envy them) to ex-
perience their challenges as com-
paratively self-defining. I offer
to admit, from one's own super-an-
uation, they simply are not. That
said, I never thought this at the

I associate the university, that
Yale is in my mind, with the life
and mind of a predecessor of ours,
Socrates. This is because my ex-
perience of Yale comes from the
dialogues of law students with an
indefatigably questioning inter-
locutor; and while I learned, e-
ven in college elsewhere, to val-
ue that intensity of interest in
the question put before my mind,
to engage, I appreciated there an
inherently infinite contestibil-
ity in such questions. It isn't
that a right answer cannot exist.
It's that the answer can't com-
pare with the vitality of the
question. It is on the basis of
this simple fact, that I condone
the education of lawyers at the
very most demanding institutions:
if one gets out of Yale without
humility, that principle suffers.
Hence, Clarence Thomas, and the

But I stray. At Yale these days,
there is a buzz to defrock an
undergraduate college of its
namesake, John C. Calhoun - the
noted South Carolinian theorist
of white supremacy, nullification
of national law, and awkward hair.
Students movingly remark upon the
ordeal of studying beneath commem-
orations of a racist alumnus. Who
would not?

The undergraduate motive of reform
is one we all exercised and never
forget; but it's no betrayal or re-
nunciation of that urgent feeling,
to say that it can hope for too
much, and in the wrong place. The
question is never, in an institu-
tion going on 300+ years, whose
university the place is (anyway).
The question is whether one is
capable of accepting responsibil-
ity, today, for the choice one has
made to engage in it - knowing, a
paradox lurks in some nomenclature.
Where on earth, may we demand an
apology from the past?

On the other hand, how best can we
remit the inference of insult or
worse, in the encumbrance of in-
heritances we'd never shape as they
are today?

Yale appears to be on the verge of
offering tentative answers to the
question, and one can't help but be
certain of the place's awareness,
that any answer must lack the per-
manence of the question. Hence, 
Yale. And may it never be easy.