Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Israeli Ear Defence

The Iron Dome system works and that’s a good thing. More people are being killed by kicks from camels than by Hamas rockets. The disproportion of being actually killed and being annoyed by sirens could be avoided by the issuing of ear defenders to all Israelis. If they were wireless adapted then soothing messages could be transmitted all the way to the underground shelters.

- 'You are the front line of defence against a vast conspiracy which is well funded. They hate modernity and want to undermine civilisation as we know it. Their insidious tendrils of power reach everywhere, made efficacious by unlimited oil money. They must be eliminated. '

Hamas on the other hand could devise messages with their rockets in the manner of fireworks that would display as they were exploded in the sky. Conciliatory greetings like ‘mazel tov’ or ‘shabat shalom’ might be effective.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Israeli Logic

There’s a logic to the Israeli bombardment. No mistakes are made. ‘There were munitions in that mosque therefore we shelled it. That hospital we shelled also had munitions.’ This reminds me of Lefty the assassin in Donnie Brasco who justifies whacking Nicky:

Nicky was a rat because Sonny Black says he was a rat

There is no need to offer proof and as far as I know none has ever been offered.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Tomatoes of Wrath

After the settlers would be evicted from Gaza people thought that the greenhouses could be turned over to the Palestinian incomers. They weren’t going to be given away, business is business after all, so the effort was made to buy them. Those that weren’t sold were burned by their owners and the others were left for use. The first thing Hamas did on taking over the Gaza strip was to destroy all of them. Wise people shook their heads sadly saying ‘there, savages, self-destructive lunatics’ and so on and so forth’. So subsidised greenhouses built on grabbed land by their oppressors and sold to further enrich their oppressors should have been gratefully received by the Palestinians. How often does food have to be pissed on before it becomes inedible?

So the struggle goes on and the name of it is - we won’t get into those trucks, not even with two suitcases. You will have to kill us right here on the street.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

The epigraph to the novel is taken from Kierkegaard's The Sickness Unto Death
… the specific character of despair is precisely this: it is unaware of being despair.

This observation from Henri Bergson might also be apt:
The application of the cinematographical method therefore leads to a perpetual recommencement, during which the mind, never able to satisfy itself and never finding where to rest, persuades itself, no doubt, that it imitates by its instability the very movement of the real. 
(from Creative Evolution)

Binx Bolling is the star of this novel (pub. 1961, won National Book Award) and therefore the narrator. He has his own way of grasping the real which involves the movie certifying the area.

She refers to a phenomenon of moviegoing which I have called certification. Nowadays when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere.

The movie in the book is Panic in the Streets with Richard Widmark and the neighbourhood of the theater is shown in the movie. It was filmed in New Orleans. So if it happened that he was in the village of Cong and he watched the movie The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara which was shot in Cong and its surrounds then Cong would be certified for him. ‘Begod you could get yourself certified after that’.

His various ways of repossessing the reality from which he is alienated are amusing and yet wistful. Our of coincidence and synchronicity he fashions a fate. Or would that be ‘syntopicity’? His Aunt really his Grand-Aunt Emily is the moral centre of the novel and her home is in the elite section of the city. This is the ‘area’ which represents the duties of privilege and giving something back and Binx can’t stand living there. It’s a ‘location vocation’ thing. No he must reside in good middle class Gentilly, ply his stocks and bonds and develop his inherent knack of making money. His Uncle by marriage Jules has set him up in an office there. To keep up his own sense of worth he tells us, his readers, that he is a seeker but yet he wakes early with a firm intention of amending his stock in American Motors. We notice here the double author irony which is deftly wrought. There’s a lot of that.

This is a complex novel that is saved from its existentalist influences by having a sense of humour. It is beautifully written and at 185 pages has a compression that aspires to poetry. Writing this little note I found myself being drawn back into it and finding new corners. What is the nature of Binx’s relationship to Kate his quasi sister though no blood relation having being raised with her from childhood after his father died? Is there a kink in it? He seems to have spent years in the up country house depending on the kindness of relatives. Yes’m.

My purpose here is incitement to read and I never like saying too much that would rob the reader of their personal meeting with a work of art. It’s an American classic which seems not to have crossed the Atlantic. I cannot recall ever having seen a first or second hand copy of it. Get sand in it.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Taking a Leaf from Taylor's Book.

There are several missing pages from the scanned copy of Elements of Metaphysics by A.E. Taylor (Cornell U.). Whether they were abstracted by a student for special study or by accidental loss it is interesting to see what was on them. I hereunder consider pages 254/5 :
It begins:
#8, The question now is, whether the whole of the spatial and temporal construction is more than imperfect and therefore contradictory, appearance.

The argument proceeds quite briskly. Our view of space and time is conditioned by our very own here and now. The Absolute which alone has the grasp of the fullness of reality is not limited by the perceptual data on which our concepts are based.

For Reality, for the absolute experience, must be a complete individual whole, with the ground of all its differentiations within itself.

It is a while since I looked at Peter Strawson’s Individuals. I recall that he too viewed the here and now as the basis of our conceptual schema and that this was irreducible or what he called primitive. I don’t remember him having any truck with ‘Reality’. He certainly wouldn’t have brought it up in the Common Room. One can imagine embarrassed coughing and the energetic stuffing of pipes.

Taylor adds to his necessary elimination of the personal view by the comprehensive.

Perceptual space and time are aggregates of lesser parts, which are themselves spaces and times; thus they are relations between terms, each of which contains the same relation once more in itself, and so imply the now familiar infinite regress.

Strawson stops this backward reeling with his notion of the primitive.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Thomas Reid on Remembrance

Why sensation should compel our belief of the present existence of the thing, memory a belief of its past existence, and imagination no belief at all, I believe no philosopher can give a shadow of reason, but that such is the nature of these operations: They are all simple and original, and therefore inexplicable acts of the mind.
Thomas Reid: An Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Priciples of Common Sense

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


Similarly, in the case of remembrance, he who remembers being also the one who saw, the two are identical. Thus only can a person, after shutting his eyes, remember the forms he has seen before, just as he saw them. Therefore that is is shut is not the seer; but that which, when the eyes are shut, sees forms in remembrance, must have been the seer when the eyes were open. This is further proved by the fact that when the body is dead, no vision takes place although the body is intact. If the body itself were the seer, even a dead body would continue to see and do similar functions. Therefore it is clear that the real agent of seeing etc. is not the body, but that whose absence deprives the body of the power of vision, and whose presence gives it that power.

Objection: Suppose the eyes and other organs themselves were the agents of vision and so forth

Reply: No: the remembrance that one is touching the very thing that one has seen, would be impossible is there were different agents for these two acts

Objection: Then let us say, it is the mind.

Reply: No, the mind also, being an object like colour etc cannot be the agent of vision and so forth. Therefore we conclude that the light in question is inside the body, and yet different from it like the sun etc.
Brh.Up. IV.iii.6

That Similarly in the case of remembrance, he who remembers being also the one who saw, the two are identical. is the answer to ‘how do you know’ you are the same. No empiricist thinks that ‘I just know’ is an answer because it is a fundamental stance that a demand for a reason must be met with evidence of some sort. I know I was the one who found the wallet because I remember the wallet being found and oh yes i remember it was me that found it. Such an account is not convincing in the least. In fact no one offers a reason because they don’t need one. They may feel that they could but when they try they fail.

The remark about a dead body not being aware is based on the assumption that the life force which is identified with consciousness and the self is not present. A body on its own is not sufficient for awareness. This may seem obvious and hardly an argument but the point is that like in the case of remembrance being a remembrance no argument is required. We just know that a dead body is a dead body.

Is this armchair philosophy or fatuous maundering compared to neuroscience? I think of it as ‘asana’ philosophy after the meditation sitting position. There is no grasping of the self because there is no need. Neuroscience tries to offer evidence for our self-identity but none is required. Any mental state whatever is saturated in self-identity.