Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Phone cushion and toilet readimg

Yesterday, after I made my morning phone calls, I sat down on the long floor cushion where the phone lies and picked up my copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Visually stunning, it dates from 1946, and there I read with all credibility about Jesus suspiring out of the ground as spring time, and listened to Khayyam's terrible and beautiful laughter at the ways of the world, and gazed a long time at the picture of Omar pouring himself a cup of wine while an army in full glory rushed by to a sure death in the opposite direction.

Then I dipped into Shelley, and read the end of Act III of Prometheus Unbound, where the spirit of the hour tells how the human world has changed with the advent of the new golden age of science. I read with pity these lines, the beating heart of youth's ideals:

My coursers sought their birth-place in the sun,
Where they henceforth will live exempt from toil
Pasturing flowers of vegetable fire.
And where my moonlike car will stand within
A temple, gazed upon by Phidian forms...

I read to the end of III how men and women free of tyranny could somehow also manage to live free of their animality as well, wandering around the new earth in rapt rationality. Sigh.

I turned to Milton, and read the speech whereby the snake tempted Eve. Milton sure makes that devil argue well. I would've gone the way of Eve too, I think. Any why not? I think our mythic mother really did know best in this instance. I also find the way Eve speaks in Milton sexy: she reminds me of Seven of Nine in Star Trek Voyager.

Thismorning I read a few pages of Plato's Critias, how Socrates missus whined that it was the last time he'd hang out with his mates. Then after my one morning phone call I read Tennyson's 'Lucretius', some of In Memoriam, and the start of the Idylls of the King, which is impeccably well paced. Lucretius is an odd poem. Do you think Tennyson had a low opinion of women? And all this man-lovin' stuff in 'In Memoriam'? The guy who died must've been giving Alf sexual favors to get this kind of praise.

You can tell what Will Shakespeare's sexuality must've been (WS was evidently what we now call bi-curious hetro), but not Alfred Tennyson's. The guy could've been an alien for all we know about his animal nature. And it makes me uncomfortable reading him.

This afternoon I bought Samuel Johnston's Selected Writings, Robert Grave's hilarious I, Claudius, and Fielding's Tom Jones (which Johnston disapproved of, I immediately learned). Three funny guys - Johnston, Graves, and Fielding - who will make great company over the coming years.

I looked at various copies of Montaigne today too, but I think I will hold out on buying the Screech version for the one Harold Bloom recommends. I forget the translator (Mason?). I read much of the Screech edition of Selected Essays of Montaigne today in the bookshop, so I guess I can't justify buying it if it yields its contents so quickly.

I also looked at many many Roman and Greek classics. Xenophon's Socratic Writings and Persian Expedition grab my interest the most, but I want to wait until I have the full picture of Plato's view of Socrates before I take on Xenophon. He strikes me as a vulgar kind of writer, kind of like an ex-Marine who writes thrillers in his spare time while he plays the stock market with hedges and cheats on his wife by sleeping with crack-smoking single mothers as a hobby. That's just my first impressions of Xenophon, mind you. Once I have the full picture of the facts from Plato (who of course is self-evidently a trustworthy man) I will take on Xenophon. But not until then.

I have so much to be grateful for.

NY Times Conservative/Academic Agitprop

According to a NY Times article, conservatives are paying hard cash to influence academia right-wards:

- Religion-focused Where's religion in all this?

- Apologist for cultural marxism. "They also understand, however, that any mature academic discussion has to take into account the fact that numerous groups have been historically marginalized and excluded from the discourse." Awww...

- The logician wonders why conservatives don't simply argue their case. (Arguing this case would look something like Socrates' conversation with Protagoras.)

- The testosteronic rightists who comment that "It's about time we purge the leftists from academia!" - a la Stalin I suppose?

- Is the left leaving academia? Finally there are the perplexed, who at least are decent in perplexity.

I would like to make some comments.

First and foremost, the source of the information is the New York Times. I have been led to believe the NY Times cannot be considered a reputable newspaper.

Second, look at the tone. Clearly the way the original article is written is calculated to drive newspaper sales... it's inflammatory, it emotionalizes the issue, and it irresponsibly fails to give any practical sense of the context of the issue. Because of the lack of context, the blogosphere must invent one, which leaves it up to the bias of the writer.

Naturally, the story gets picked up by those who are attracted to emotionalized material, and so the most obvious responses are from the most extreme positions. You get the strictly logical critique, the hawkish rightists, the leftist evasions... all of which have simply added their own context to the story.

You want to know what I think?

I think the New York Times is simply not telling the truth.

follow me on Twitter