Tuesday 7th of April 2020

la filosofie deconstructionée: chalk and cheese...


Not long ago, a friend of mine—an Air Force veteran now serving elsewhere in the public sector—interviewed a young, well-spoken, female applicant with a strong academic portfolio from a respected public university. A few questions into the interview, she started talking about “power structures” and their influence on every part of society. My friend, a bit bewildered, asked her to explain. He got a mouthful of pedantic jargonese about race and power that implied that he, a white male, was perpetuating a system that exploited and oppressed all manner of disenfranchised peoples, including the applicant, an Asian American. My friend patiently reminded the applicant that insinuating that he was racist might not be the most advised means of acquiring a job.

What my friend had encountered were concepts from some of the most predominant philosophical schools in the West: postmodernism and deconstructionism. Many conservatives and Christians know they’re supposed to be wary of these ideologies, as well their most notorious advocates, 20th-century Frenchmen Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Francois Lyotard. There is good reason for this wariness, given that postmodernism and deconstructionism, as they are understood at the popular level, are based on initial premises of skepticism and cynicism towards established authorities and beliefs. Yet a proper understanding (which admittedly is itself a problematic moniker for what those two words represent) reveals that they are an effective tool in dismantling the falsehoods of modernism, even if they ultimately fail to offer a robust, coherent alternative.

The problem with even classifying the thought of Foucault and Derrida is that they weren’t necessarily seeking to create a unified intellectual system to explain reality. Indeed, postmodern philosophers are de facto suspicious and critical of such attempts. They’re far more interested in making observations—often true and insightful—regarding certain aspects or subsets of knowledge. The problems develop when people try to universalize these observations.

Consider first Michel Foucault, whose most famous aphorism is that “power is knowledge.” This observation stems from Foucault’s experience with various institutions of power, including mental hospitals and prisons, though his analysis extends to factories, sex, and money, among other things. In his Discipline and Punish, Foucault argues that knowledge is not disinterested or innocent, but inextricably united to power relationships that affect both the exterior and interior of man. This “disciplinary society” forces people, including through implicit societal surveillance, to conform to various cultural standards. Those who exist outside the ad hoc boundaries are often demonized, pathologized, and criminalized. Those who enjoy power and privilege aim to control those who do not.


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A lot of these thinking guys from the smelly Camembert country were filosofers. They were stirrers... and good at it. for example, Paul-Michel Foucault, generally known as Michel Foucault, the French philosopher who was an historian of ideas, a social theorist, and a literary critic addressed the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. His quote "power is knowledge" is absolutely demonstrated with the rise of Trump.

Trump knows nothing but power. Having power, one "can decide". Look at this other little runt, MBS, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, of Saudi Arabia. His rule is the law. 

The one important thing that all these "post-modern" stirrers did was to steer the populace away from the dominion of the illusion of god. It is quite telling that this article in The American Conservative is written by a student, Casey Chalk, of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College. 

The name Chalk is ironic here. It's the case of chalk and cheese. The French filosophers (Gus term for post-modernist philosophers), these French cheeses, knew far more about the philosophical past than Chalk. Chalk mentions we should heed the words of the American philosopher Mortimer J. Adler, who declared that all philosophy is bound to fail when it arrogantly rejects out of hand the wisdom of the ancients (and Medievalists) who synthesized so much of human knowledge and wisdom that was indeed true, good, and beautiful.

This is the point of these French filosofers doing deconstruction: for yonks, human "knowledge" had only been a pretext to maintain power. This is why for many years, education was limited and knowledge (powerful fake godly news maintained by fear mostly) was exclusive to kings and religious institutions. Wisdom was NEVER TRUE, nor good, nor beautiful, but served only to maintain the differential between kings and their subjects — or between rulers and their peasants (even during the times BC)... This is partly why theatre was "invented" as a counterpoint to "exclusive" rule and as a way to let steam off with piss-ups and orgies. Soon theatre became satire, the mocking of the religious mob and their gods, and became mimed when forbidden to speak — till theatre was completely shut down by the "powerful" catholic church around 400 AD. No anti-religious views, please or you will be shot...

Up until the advent of proper sciences, "knowledge" was a made up concoction of beliefs that had morphed into "laws". Nothing true, nothing good, but "power". Even democracy is still paddling in mud because the "old hand the wisdom of the ancients (and Medievalists —idiots) who synthesized so much of human FAKE knowledge and EXCLUSIVE wisdom that was indeed NOT true, NOR good, and NOT beautiful" — is still mucking it up.

And please, let's not mention that sad sour spivvy sod, René Girard, in the same breath as these colossal deconstructionists.

the invisible hand...


Gus is a rabid atheist...

we are thieves...

"The decisive outcome for the philosophies of Antiquity was their capacity to produce a few wisemen; in the Middle Ages, to rationalize dogma; in the classical age, to found science; in modern times, it is their ability to justify massacres."

                   Michel Foucault


All throughout human "history", we have been robbing each other — intellectually and practically — by various means under various pretexes. Even during the Antiquity, wars and empire were the soup of the day, despite the "wisdom". 


"Capitalism robs the public commons and Communism robs the individuals. We are thieves."  

                  Mama Leonisky


It ain't going to end well, unless we stop the plunder.

more chalk about humble godly cheese...


Here Casey Chalk (see above) — a student at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College who covers religion and other issues for TAC explains how to make a humble stick for your own back...


Ambrose Bierce defined education as “that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” Learning, said Bierce, is “the kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.” I thought of Bierce when my wife recently told me about how one of her friends had reacted to our Christmas letter. The woman, upon learning I was completing a theology graduate degree, asked in earnest, “So your husband is a theologian?” My wife, much to her credit, laughed and answered no. “He’s definitely not a theologian. It’s more of a hobby,” she said. Yet few graduates of our universities are willing to demonstrate any measure of humility when it comes to their expertise, or, more commonly, lack thereof.

America’s everybody-gets-a-trophy syndrome has apparently made its way deep into the corridors of academia. Many times I’ve run into those who profess expertise in some field, only to scratch the surface and discover their academic credentials to be less than stellar. A few years ago, a supervisor at my then-job learned that I had once been a student at a Protestant seminary. “I’m a theologian,” she declared to me. I asked her, in the politest terms I could muster, how exactly this was the case. Because she’d secured a masters in theology from Georgetown, she said. She had never written a book, or a peer-reviewed article, or even presented a paper at a conference. She has no public record of work that might be cited by others in the field. Yet her degree, achieved in the evenings while working a full-time job, was apparently enough to merit the title “theologian.”

This problem is not unique to those in religious studies. I routinely see people claiming to be “historians” because they’ve written a popular-level book or teach at some collegiate or sub-collegiate level. Yet often they lack doctorates and are incapable of conducting truly scholarly research in the vernacular of their subject, or of reading other historians published in another language. I’ve run across “economists” with nothing more than a bachelor’s in economics who think their ability to crunch some numbers and apply what they learned in an undergraduate microeconomics class equates with being a specialist in the field. Perhaps we need to revise the song made popular by Huey Long: “every man a scholar.

Previous generations evinced far more humility. Many of our nation’s founders, for example, were remarkable men of letters who individually traversed many disciplines: law, political theory, philosophy, agriculture, architecture, military strategy, theology, and science. Yet few of them would have had the audacity to declare themselves experts in all these disciplines. Even the polymathic Thomas Jefferson, who, though a secretary of state and a president, reluctantly understood himself as a statesman and would have been most likely to label himself a scientist and farmer. Consider also that the humbling phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” was in wide use throughout 18th-century colonial America.


This, of course, is not to say that bachelor’s and master’s degrees are useless or of little value (they’d better not to be: otherwise I’ve been wasting a lot of money on a master’s in theology!). If one makes the most of one’s time in college or graduate school, one should, generally speaking, be more competent to speak on certain subjects than the general populace. Yet this is a far cry from being an “expert.

Ten years ago, while serving in Afghanistan, I met a talented young man who was serving as a briefer to then-commander of international forces Stanley McChrystal. During our conversation, I made some off-handed remark about experts on Afghanistan. “I’m no expert on Afghanistan,” he asserted, despite his prestigious role. It was surprising to hear, especially from someone of a generation (my own!) that is typically thirsty for trophies and titles. “We need to save that kind of word for people who really understand this country, who’ve studied it for many years, learned the languages,” he told me. Channeling his best Jack Ryan, he declared, “Me? I’m just an analyst.” Would that we all had the courage to be so humble.


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educationing about filosofie...


Education is the process of casting false pearls before real swine... (Irwin Edman — 1900s)


A mere scholar, a mere ass (Robert Burton — 1600s)


He who can does. He who cannot teaches ( G B Shaw — 1900s)


The vanity of teaching often tempteth a man to forget he is a blockhead (George Saville — 1600s)


and many more... Including:


The Romans would never have had time to conquer the world if they had been obliged to learn Latin first of all. (Heinrich Heine — 1700s)



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a bitter experiment...

Before going too deep into real stuff, let's read this from Casey Chalk:


Imagine a society enfeebled by constant, top-down, progressivist experimentation offering universal, programmatic solutions to problems that are either inherently localist or transcendent. Imagine an intellectual elite who are arrogantly uninterested in—and perhaps conscientiously deaf to—the concerns of ordinary, working-class people. Imagine a media that serves as a microphone for this elite, actively avoiding stories that don’t harmonize with their enlightened narrative.

This probably sounds a bit like the milieu that resulted the cultural distemper of the 2016 presidential election and that still largely defines American politics today. It is also, interestingly, a description of the liturgical changes imposed upon the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom during the 1960s, as painfully described in A Bitter Trial, a series of correspondences between English Catholic writer Evelyn Waugh and John Carmel Cardinal Heenan.

The liturgical changes in question stemmed directly from the Second Vatican Council, which met from 1962 to 1965. For many, the council was, in the famous words of Pope John XXIII, a chance to “open the windows [of the Church] and let in some fresh air.” This was not so much the case for Waugh, who loudly (though unsuccessfully) protested the radical transformations foisted upon Catholic worship. These changes included an emphasis on vernacular languages over Latin, a revised lectionary, and significant alterations to the components of the Mass. Waugh’s words in response to this revolution are arresting: “Church-going is now a bitter trial,” he wrote. Elsewhere he said, “the Vatican Council has knocked the guts out of me.” To a friend, he wrote, “I have not yet soaked myself in petrol and gone up in flames, but I now cling to the Faith doggedly without joy.” In another letter to a cleric, he sought to know the least he was “obliged to do without grave sin.” This is remarkable, coming from one of the most famous Catholic writers of the 20th century, one who had previously adored the Mass.

One of Waugh’s most persistent criticisms of the liturgical changes is that progressive, elitist-driven experimentation hurts ordinary people the most, undermining their confidence in important institutions. Vatican II represented, in Waugh’s mind, a rejection of the needs and opinions of local people. “A vociferous minority has imposed itself on the hierarchy and made them believe that a popular demand existed where there was in fact not even a preference,” he warned.

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So who was Evelyn Waugh? A person who chose a neat philosophical avenue to plant his wandering tent to become an elegant story writer? 

Waugh converted to Catholicism in 1930 after his first marriage failed. His traditionalist stance led him to strongly oppose all attempts to reform the Church, and the changes by the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) greatly disturbed his sensibilities, especially the introduction of the vernacular Mass. That blow to his religious traditionalism, his dislike for the welfare state culture of the postwar world, and the decline of his health all darkened his final years, but he continued to write. He displayed to the world a mask of indifference, but he was capable of great kindness to those whom he considered his friends.

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"In 1956, Edwin Newman made a short film about Waugh. In the course of doing so, Newman learned that Waugh hated the modern world and wished that he had been born two or three centuries sooner." 



Don't we all!... Not really. But three centuries earlier, we would not have cut it, unless we had the knowledge of this 20th century in our head, to avoid the floggings and the totally undemocratic ignorance. The major problem with elegant wordsmiths like Waugh is that they are often deluded — and create their own little environment, like we wallpaper our lounge rooms. It's comfortable, familiar and we can have a front door from which we can harangue the passer-by that our wallpaper is the best. 

So what was Waugh's beef about Vatican II? As a European passer-by then in the 1960s, I, Gus, can say with confidence, that the Church knew that should it not adapt to "modernity", it would soon disappear into the black hole of scientific knowledge or the side-alleys of "entertainment". It had to do something without going the full hog that the Pentecostals are now doing... The Pentecostals are not serious about god. The Catholic Church had to find a means to retain seriousness about heaven and hell, without losing footing.

I remember writing about it then — as if the church was going to tell the mass with guitars and yeah-yeah Beatle songs (which the Pentecostals are now doing). This was the concept to avoid while modernising, in order to retain the yoofs into the Church. Let's be real, sciences were making a HUGE impact then. The cardinals and the pope had to "reinvent" the beliefs without changing the beliefs, as they have done many times in the past — which was to adopt some of the new scientific theories into the dogma.

What Vatican II did is no mean-feat. It salvaged the Church which would have been savaged in less than a couple of decades by the 1980s, had the hierarchy done nothing and carried on with the Latin mass. That the Church is still struggling does not mean that it has bitten the dust yet. Sure, the Pentecostals are growing in numbers, but they are a derivative product of Vatican II. And they are not god serious (the commerce of religion...). 


Gus is a rabid atheist



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still hanging on to rotting straws...

More crap from young Casey (read from top):


Thirteen years ago this month, then-Pope Benedict XVI gave a lecture at the University of Regensburg in Germany, where he had once served as a professor of theology. Entitled “Faith, Reason and the University—Memories and Reflections,” the address sparked controversy, particularly among Muslims, who disapproved of the pontiff’s quoting Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologos, who had accused the Prophet Muhammad of “evil and inhuman” things, such as spreading Islam “by the sword.” The irony that many Muslims reacted to this charge by violently attacking Christians aside, the actual objective of Benedict’s lecture was to emphasize the importance of balancing faith and reason, a balance that had blessed Western civilization for almost two millennia but is now in peril of being upended.

Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, takes up this thesis in his new book, Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization. Gregg argues that “not only can reason and faith correct each other’s excesses, but they can also enhance each other’s comprehension of the truth, continually renewing Western civilization.” When we get a relative balance between reason and faith, the results reflect the highest glories of the West: Thomas Aquinas (theology/philosophy), Notre Dame Cathedral (architecture), Michelangelo (art), Johannes Sebastian Bach (music), and James Madison (politics). Each of these persons, masters of their craft, recognized the essential compatibility of faith and reason, rather than perceiving them as enemies. When we get this balance wrong, the result is all manner of destructive philosophical and political systems. These either elevate reason at the expense of faith (scientism, utilitarianism); place faith in some utopian, humanistic project (Marxism, Nietzscheanism); or reject both as ephemeral deceits of an arrogant West (postmodernism).

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We have to put a stop to this confusion. What is reason? What is faith? Reason is the process that tells us that faith is blind. Faith is a process that gives us a large hypocritical excuse for the sins of civilisation, whether Muslim or Christian. Reason is based on observation. Faith is based on imagined tenets that reason finds infantile and erroneous. We need to grow up to the next stage and dice faith(s) as meaning(s). 

For example, Samuel Gregg tells us that islam is "faith without reason"... (most likely implying that Islam is an inferior civilisation). What a lot of codswallop. What makes a civilisation is many factors — and what has made the modern status of the West has been GUNS, and luck in terms of geographical conquests. Luck has more to do with these, than the religion/reason mix, which for many people has been an imposed hypocrisy with catastrophic results.

The conquests of the Americas and of Australia come to mind. America had a "rich geography" to plunder. Australia was a desert (still is) — until gold, coal and mountains of iron ore could be turned into big arseholes for the Chinese economy. Result? America (USA), the most powerful country on the planet with 350 million people, and a massive debt that no-one can call because it controls about 80 per cent of the planetary military power — while Australia (24 million) struggles with petty indebted governments hypocritically twisted about sending back a family of refugees. The lucky country. Yeah. 

Reason would tell us that we (humanity) have lived beyond our means — and at this level, not only the West. Faith tells us to fuck silly for Jesus with no abortion — or for Allah, sometimes using rape, and make more of us.

TRUE reason is intellectually demanding in order to be accurate. It needs observations, analysis and synthesis — understanding the evolution of change relative to this planet and to the universe. Faith is floppy and lazy, with absolutist con artistry as a method of delusion — and relies on the capitalist notion of growth. Faith is a deceptive business enterprise, nothing more. 

We can do better and — unlike Samuel Gregg pessimism (A supposedly autonomous reason easily sinks into fanaticism, stifling dissent as bigoted and irrational and devouring the humane civilization fostered by the integration of reason and faith. The blood-soaked history of the twentieth century attests to the totalitarian forces unleashed by corrupted reason. FUCK, WE COULD SAY exactly THIS ABOUT FAITH!) — we will do better REASONABLY. As Artificial Intelligence is approaching at a rate of knots, the believers are worried. They panic. This book by Samuel Gregg and this rubbish article by Casey Chalk are clear example of this. 

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on the chalk board...


Of course, to turn this ship around would require a pretty dramatic paradigm shift. It would mean parents like Sky’s and Sydney’s not just pushing back against sexualized clothing choices, but reimagining the historical and cultural narratives they impress upon their children. Rather than interpreting our past through the lens of winner-take-all power dynamics, they would have to teach the fundamental objective goods of our nation and its traditions. This would include beliefs about sexuality and its purpose not just for self-empowerment and self-gratification, but for self-gift and the privilege of participating in the creation of new life. Our bodies, like our lives, are intended not first for ourselves as modes of self-expression, but for others, and ultimately, from whence they originate, in God. And those who think modesty an antiquated means of oppressing the female sex might be surprised to learn that the most severe dress code found in the Bible was not imposed not on a woman, but a man, who, for lacking a cloak at a wedding feast (an allegory for heaven), was bound and cast into the outer darkness.

Casey Chalk covers religion and other issues for The American Conservative and is a senior writer for Crisis Magazine. He has degrees in history and teaching from the University of Virginia, and a masters in theology from Christendom College.

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Casey Chalk writes soft shit as usual… Quite amusing really. He's still believing that human life is a god’s gift… It’s not. God does not exist. This concept is a "figmentation" of some old crazies' imagination in order to prevent sexual promiscuity and make some cash by keeping you enthralled at the idea of eternal life, while making you traditionally shit in your pants in the fear of sin. 

The sexual game is not to behave like randy walruses on a beach or dogs smelling each other’s bottom in broad daylight. This would look untidy. We are more elegant and have invented romanticism, marriage, love and platonic restraint — though some officials in the bible, such as kings, got beyond lucky (for males) with a plethora of wives and concubines. One needs to be rich and religious like the Saudi royal family to carry on with such polygamic bouquet.

There could be many reasons to abstain from some willy-nilly banging such as catching STDs or “unplanned” pregnancy, being a burden on a single person, rather than being an exciting venture — a new life — which our social constructs have decided to be more the care of a couple under various agreements — now extended to gay people. Evolution has geared us, very quickly, to deal with our impulses, desires and wet dreams. As well, some of us have realised that breeding like rabbits has its problem, including making us poor with too many mouths to feed — and overpopulation on a limited planet… On this subject, we’re approaching a few tipping points with a begging bowl.

Beauty is designed to make us attracted to each others, and one can say with a clear amount of more uncertainty that beauty is fleeting like a rose, and that 95 per cent of us, especially the female sort, need some help with props such as make up, eyeliner, rosy cheeks and short skirts to make us attractive… Broadly speaking  we’re an ugly species on the fly, apart from some celebs in magazine showing the way to become miss Bumbum, after some photo-retouching... 

For blokes — men, who, for lacking a cloak at a wedding feast (an allegory for heaven) — to be bound and cast into the outer darkness, is a bit harsh, stylistically considering that Eve and Adam only had a fig leave and the ubiquitous ivy vine to cover their genitals — and god was a male. Crap galore. We’re evolved monkeys. Get it? And we are still evolving...

So the rebellion of youth, us when we were teenagers, has led to a couple of chicks having “black leggings and a tight, spaghetti-strap crop top” and feeling “powerful.” tonight. Casey thinks that this was started by feeling victimised by traditions… Sure.

So as Casey tells us : 

Complaints about wayward youth are almost as ancient as history itself. Aristotle complained of young people who were “high-minded because they have not yet been humbled by life, nor have they experienced the force of circumstances.” These youth “think they know everything, and are always quite sure about it.”

The same can be said about some old people, us, who are always quite sure about everything — and have experienced the force of circumstances BUT not understood shit about these, say a Mr Chalk, who knows all since he believes the simplistic god’s words, when the reality of evolution is bothersome and far toooooo complex…

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