meek are the pure of heart

Brutus’ fate is not his alone: in Shakespeare no character with a clear moral vision has a will to power and, conversely, no character with a strong desire to rule over others has an ethically adequate object. This is most obviously true of Shakespearean villains—the megalomaniac Richard III, the bastard Edmond (along with the ghastly Goneril, Regan, and Cornwall), the Macbeths, and the like—but it is also true of such characters as Bolingbroke in the Henriad plays, Cassius in Julius Caesar, Fortinbras in Hamlet, and Malcolm in Macbeth. Even victorious Henry V—Shakespeare’s most charismatic hero—does not substantially alter the plays’ overarching skepticism about the ethics of wielding authority.
Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespeare and the Uses of Power, The New York Review of Books, Volume 54, Number 6, April 12, 2007

the department of redundant orifices

Lioness Soonee and Jindo dog Tangchil
at a South Korean zoo in Chinhae
(REUTERS/You Sung-Ho)

As men fail to live up to the manners of beasts, a living dog tears a dead lion a new one:

The back cover of History of Madness contains a series of hyperbolic hymns of praise to its virtues. Paul Rabinow calls the book “one of the major works of the twentieth century”; Ronnie Laing hails it as “intellectually rigorous”; and Nikolas Rose rejoices that “Now, at last, English-speaking readers can have access to the depth of scholarship that underpins Foucault’s analysis”. Indeed they can, and one hopes that they will read the text attentively and intelligently, and will learn some salutary lessons. One of those lessons might be amusing, if it had no effect on people’s lives: the ease with which history can be distorted, facts ignored, the claims of human reason disparaged and dismissed, by someone sufficiently cynical and shameless, and willing to trust in the ignorance and the credulity of his customers.
Andrew Scull, The fictions of Foucault’s scholarship, The Times Literary Supplement, March 21, 2007

Fortunately, surgical solutions are on hand.

all them sons of bitches

Максим Лебедев ([info]maxim_lebedev) kindly refers us to the politically influential 2005 Demos Lecture by Dr Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, which contains the following anecdote:

I just love the story of the philosophy professor who was invited to give a lecture on epistemology to the University of Beijing. He did so and not being about to speak Mandarin was provided with a Chinese interpreter. He began his lecture and after a sentence paused to let the interpreter translate into Chinese but the interpreter said: No, carry on — I’ll tell you when to stop. After 15 minutes and the interpreter said ‘stop’ and delivered five words to the audience in Chinese — I will not even attempt to say what they were — and said ‘carry on’. The same thing happened after 30 minutes — five more words, 45 minutes — another five words and at the end of the lecture — an hour — four words and the audience duly stood up and filed out. The English philosophy professor went to the interpreter and said: I’m absolutely astounded. I have given an extremely complicated lecture about epistemology. How were you able to summarise it in so few words? And the interpreter said: Easy — after 15 minutes I said ‘so far he hasn’t said anything new’; after half an hour ‘I said he still hasn’t said anything new’; after 45 minutes I said ‘I don’t think he’s going to say anything new’ and after an hour I said ‘I was right — he didn’t’.

We may relish the independently attested implication that philosopher is undergoing a transvaluation equal and opposite to the Foucauldian reverse discourse that encouraged “homosexuality [to] beg[i]n to speak in its own behalf, to demand that its legitimacy or ‘naturality’ be acknowledged, often in the same vocabulary, using the same categories by which it was medically disqualified.”[1] Thus Richard Cartwright:[2]

Except for beginners who want to learn and who try to say what they really think, I do not like talking philosophy with nonphilosophers and avoid it whenever I can. In response to inquiries from fellow travelers on airplanes, I say I’m a mathematician. So far I’ve gotten away with it, for it appears that people who travel on airplanes never were any good at mathematics. I ease my conscience with the thought that, anyhow, non-philosophers would expect a philosopher to be something I’m not.

Once upon a time,[3] Augustine of Hippo referred to yonder vir gravis et philosophaster Tullius. His usage inspired numerous XXth century philologists to argue that the passage in question could be squared with its author’s high esteem for Cicero only by amending to vir gravis et philosophus Tullius. Now that we have established that every kind of philosopher has an ass in it, no such emendation is necessary.
    Or, as a more consequential man might put it,[4] “When you call me that, smile!


[1] Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, translated from the French by Robert Hurley, Part Four, The Deployment of Sexuality, Chapter 2, Method, Vintage, 1990, p. 101.

[2] Introduction to Philosophical Essays, The MIT Press, pp. xxi-xxii.

[3] De Civitate Dei, ii.27.

[4] Owen Wister, The Virginian, Chapter 2, Signet, 2002, pp. 21, 22.

“shall not be infringed”

Recall these magnificent words of Judge Alex Kozinski dissenting in Silveira v. Lockyer:

The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed—where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

Now comes the opinion for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, filed by Senior Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman in an appeal from the lower court ruling in Shelly Parker, et al., appellants v. District of Columbia and Adrian M. Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia, appellees, Case No. 04-7041:

Appellants contest the district court’s dismissal of their complaint alleging that the District of Columbia’s gun control laws violate their Second Amendment rights. The court held that the Second Amendment (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”) does not bestow any rights on individuals except, perhaps, when an individual serves in an organized militia such as today’s National Guard. We reverse. […]
    To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to placate their Antifederalist opponents. The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second Amendment’s civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.

Read more at The Volokh Conspiracy, How Appealing, and dhimmification.
    Who was that fool complaining about Jews against guns?

жить не по лжи

Solzhenitsyn once dedicated his life to the fight against the regime in which the state security machine made everyone feel an accomplice in turning the country into a prison camp. He has now become part of a society where the mass media are reduced to self-censoring impotence, Soviet style; dissident artists and writers are regularly beaten up; journalists who expose corruption and the abuses of centralized political power are murdered. And yet Solzhenitsyn is silent; silent even when his most cherished idea of saving Russia by strengthening the independence of local government, Swiss-style, was first ridiculed in the press and then trampled over by a presidential decree that reinstalled the central authority of the Kremlin over the whole of Russia. On the whole, Solzhenitsyn avoids public appearances these days and refrains from public utterances. And yet, he found the time and energy to express his approval of the recent cutting off of gas supplies to Ukraine for a discount price “because that country tramples over Russian culture and the Russian language and allows NATO military manoeuvres on its territory”. Oh well. My country, right or wrong.
Zinovy Zinik, Blue-collar Solzhenitsyn, The Times Literary Supplement, March 07, 2007