africa, the serengeti

24 07 2008

Narrated by James Earl Jones, National Geographic’s Africa: The Serengeti is not only one of my favorite documentaries, it’s one of my favorite movies, period. The cinematography is stunning, the pace is browsingly good. It’s story arc moves from focus on the wildebeest, which seems to serve as a migrating meal, to shots of hot air balloons flying overhead  and describes the role tourist money plays in supporting the wildlife preserves.

James Earl: “The equation of life on the Serengeti is simple: Herbivores eat plants. Carnivores eat herbivores” and “there is neither malice nor remorse on the Serengeti … nothing is wasted” with a deadpan matter-of-factness that only he can do.


22 07 2008
  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous

~George Orwell


hey internet! – kurt vonnegut on writing better

22 07 2008
  1. Find a subject you care about
  2. Do not ramble, though
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Have guts to cut
  5. Sound like yourself
  6. Say what you mean
  7. Pity the readers

Hey Internet! – Kurt Vonnegut on Writing Better

Getting Things Done in Academia

translator’s preface by larry bowlden

21 07 2008

It is interesting to me that the author of the Prefaces would prefer to call my contribution/critique a Translator’s Preface; perhaps even the author realizes that his work stands in need of a translation or explanation. Unfortunately, I cannot supply it.

Since I am of the opinion that meaning requires a context (that it presupposes a background), I should not be surprised that (for the most part) the meaning of these prefaces eludes me. For even if there is meaning there (which I often doubt), I have not read Derrida (or other deconstructionists), and thus haven’t the context to illumine the meaning. I must admit that each new reading makes the text more interesting, more suggestive, but at this point the prefaces continue to exhibit the character of an inside joke, and I’m not at all sure I want to be on the inside.

I am happy to be reminded (again) that philosophy is at least in part performance, persuasion, art. Just as it is important to remind social scientists that value-free stances are not possible and that the pretense of such a stance only serves to mask (and thus make more dangerous) the underlying values, so philosophers need to be reminded that (contrary to Plato) there is no telling of the truth simpliciter, no language-free or paradigm-free or performance-free discourse. I agree with Heideggar that (by the very nature of the case) all revealing conceals, and conceals just because it reveals as it does. Still, Royer and Lyotard fail to convince me that one cannot use language in some ways where performance is less a feature than in others; I cling to my (perhaps naive) belief that there are uses of language in which the attempt to speak the truth, to describe, to disclose, takes precedence over art or performance. (I admit, however, that I sometimes think that philosophers are suspicious of Nietzsche precisely because he is such a wonderful writer, such a weaver of words; it must be the case that some, even many, philosophers believe that philosophers are in general bad writers for a reason, namely, that speaking the truth requires not-art.) Still, we must be reminded that all speaking/writing is (in part) an attempt to convince, and that all disclosing (unconcealing) conceals, lest we give in again to the grave error that we are getting closer and closer to THE TRUTH.

I also applaud the at least implied claim in the Prefaces that the Russell/Carnap/early Wittgenstein attempt to reduce all meaning to the meaning of the word, and then build from these atomic word units back to a sentence, the paragraph, the whole, is a misguided attempt (for natural language is not a calculus, semantics is not syntax, and this is not a weakness but a strength of natural language). Still, I cannot agree that the text is self-referential (as Derrida seems to), that there is no reference at all (aside from text). I find myself applauding Foucault‘s rejection:

Today Derrida is the most decisive representative of a (classical) system in its final glory; the reduction of discursive practices to textual traces; the elision of the events that are produced there in order to retain nothing but marks for a reading; the invention of voices behind texts in order not to have to analyze the modes of implication of the subject of discourse; assigning the spoken and the unspoken in the text to an originary place in order not to have to reinstate the discursive practices in the field of transformations where they are effectuated … It is an historically sufficiently determined little pedagogy which manifests itself most visibly. A pedagogy that tells the pupil that there is nothing outside the text, but that within it, in its interstices, in its white spaces and unspokennesses, the reserve of the origin reigns; it is not at all necessary to search elsewhere, for exactly here, to be sure not in the words, but in the words as erasures, in their grill, “the meaning of being’ speaks itself. A pedagogy that conversely gives to the voice of the teacher that unlimited sovereignty which permits them to read the text indefinitely.

Finally, both Royer and Lyotard applaud themselves for making no claims. If this were true there would be even less reason to read them than there is. Fortunately, both do make claims, some of which are interesting reminders (others, when intelligible, which are neither interesting nor true).

With some reluctance (not unmixed with pride in the fertility of this young man’s mind), I release the reader to the text, with a final suggestion that it really cries out for a contemporary rock background.

she runs a bakery

20 07 2008

so it is untense for her to have baked brownies at the same time

help me

people who do things

20 07 2008

people that do things

Non, je ne regrette rien

16 07 2008

Follow my exploits and misadventures .. [snip] … I write how I talk and that includes run-on sentences, the occasional rant or repetition, sudden changes in topic, incomplete sentences, pauses represented by haphazard ellipses, parenthetical asides and unexpected exclamations. In essence, intentionally irritating grammar or lack thereof. There will be no changes to this policy …

Non, je ne regrette rien

foreward by michael reardon

13 07 2008

ladies & gentlemen … ludwig wittgenstein

13 07 2008

for more than one reason what i publish here will have points of contact with what other people are writing today
if my remarks do not bear a stamp which marks them as mine
i do not wish to lay any further claim to them as my property

i make them public with doubtful feelings
it is not impossible that it should fall to the lot of this work, in its poverty and in the darkness of this time, to bring light into one brain or another
but of course, it is not likely

i should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking
but if possible, to stimulate someone else to thoughts of their own

i should have liked to produce a good book
this has not come about
but the time is past in which i could improve it

contents (under pressure)

12 07 2008
  • forward by michael reardon
  • translator’s preface by larry bowlden
  • written form by lawrence wheeler
  • preface to the 5th edition
  • preface to the 4th edition
  • preface to the 3rd edition
  • preface to the 2nd edition
  • preface to the 1st edition
  • introduction (with rosalee goldberg on bass)
  • acknowledgements
  • textural inspiration (pages omitted)
  • epilogue by jhan hochman
  • afterword
  • appendix


12 07 2008

an objective interpretation of the ontological reduction of the sign in woody allen’s humor


talk about your pouvoir/savoir, a good joke can kill you

Shame (Phil Royer, ‘Paperback Jukebox’, June 1993)

8 07 2008

This is Stone Gossard with a lot less Pearl Jam in him. Groovy, laid-back and not so nasty, Shame was written and recorded in less than three weeks by the Sperm guitarist and some other friends. It offers a more tragically thespian view of the cowboy biker ballad. Brad vocalist Shawn Smith delivers in a sweaty falsetto reminiscent of Terence D’ Arby next to Stone’s hypnotic and subtle guitar riffing. The bass percolates along, funky and secure, keeping the near lethargic tempos from dozing off. None of the songs jump out and demand your attention but most eventually will earn it. The beautiful “Buttercup,” which opens the album, is so slow and sure of itself it behaves as if each beat is signaling the song’s end. There’s only one rocker, one mid-tempo single, and the rest is mellow. The album begins its exit with “Rockstar,” a bass-heavy number that could walk proudly alongside one of Brian Eno’s dinosaur swamp soundtracks, then transforms itself into the I’m glad I’m home beauty of “We,” a simple three chord piano vamp that could have faded out politely instead of returning to an obnoxious vocoder experiment that forces the listener to leap out of her seat and hit the stop button.

Amazing what you can find on google


6 07 2008

Over the years as my classes have struggled to come up with an analysis of ‘faith’, the consensus has been that faith is commitment (to a belief or person) that outstrips the available evidence/reason for believing that proposition, believing in that person. That is why some suppose love must be unconditional (not dependent on evidence/behavior). I see faith as contrasted to warranted assertability; if one has good evidence/reason for a proposition, then one is warranted in claiming it to be true (and this remains true even if, in fact, the proposition is false). To the extent that warrant is available, faith is not needed. That’s why Kierkegaard says, “I believe because it is absurd!” His point being that no evidence to the contrary could shake his belief; in fact, the more counter-evidence, the more faith is needed, just as the more evidence, the less faith is needed. Since an absurdity is a contradiction, it takes great faith, indeed, to believe it. For Kierkegaard, faith is literally counter-evidential.

And after the high-blown stuff, yes, trust (without evidence or sneaking or peaking) is necessary to good relationships (whether of the love sort or not).


so much for rules

3 07 2008

Feel free to post your Eminem Presents Anger Management Tour … or whatever-related comments here. Don’t be rude (permban), use only English, don’t go offtopic and read FAQ before asking a question.

#2 – lmao • July 3rd, 2008 | 03:18
Eminem sucks hahaha.

#13 – KMFDM-better-than-the-best • July 3rd, 2008 | 03:42
Rap isn’t music.. anyone over 20 with a job will tell you that

#14 – Just Maybe • July 3rd, 2008 | 03:50
Im 23 With A Lovely Job And rap Is Music. So I guess Your Wrong….. Sorry Their Bud

#18 – jonnyBoy • July 3rd, 2008 | 03:58
@ 13, 14
I’m 16, have a job- and I think cRAP is a giant brown load that has been dropped on the American consumer, and the world over.
I DO like Eminem, though… he makes Vanilla Ice look like John Lennon when it comes to writing. (Okay, maybe not- but he’s only got a couple good songs. The videos are funny as hell, I’ll admit)

#21 = Burrrrrrr • July 3rd, 2008 | 04:26
Craka @ss Craka we nu99az hate crakas

#25 – Beasies • July 3rd, 2008 | 04:33
@ 22 LOL
So to you, Talent = incoherent babbling in basic pre-school level rhyme schemes, over primitave jungle drum beats?? LOL best laugh Ive had all day.

#30 – Crakas • July 3rd, 2008 | 04:44
F*ck all you Crakas, wez gonaz pull out ours burnah an f*ck you up all yous ch*nks an spics get it too son on the realz yo, chia nukaa

#34 – Chinese American • July 3rd, 2008 | 05:45
As a Chinese American who lived in a all black neighborhood and attended a 88% all black school until I was 16 and switched to a diverse school in a good neighborhood because my parents speaking little english worked tirelessly and sacrificed all to buy a business(now they own 3)to get me and my brother a taste of the very real “American Dream”.I can tell you that in my experience no group of people are more racist than black people constant unrelenting nonstop racist remarks and they really took pride in making people who were different feel terrified, this nightmare ceased when we switched schools.Its impossible to describe that feeling of it all stopping unless you experienced this torment.

#35 – Wah • July 3rd, 2008 | 06:00
@34 Chinese American
I was in the same situation as you were, except I had to stick it through all 3 years. You’re right about that description. I should know from my experience as well. It was tough but I managed to earn their respect.

#42 – voodoo_child • July 3rd, 2008 | 07:21
hey chiny american.
if your g.parents had gone through what black people have………..
it still effects this generation.
And also you can’t generalize whole neighborhood with a handful…Otherwise maybe you (or hardworking parents) didn’t make an enough effort.

#50 – Voice of The Black Man • July 3rd, 2008 | 09:27
@35 and 34
Cry me a river pansies.

#53 – twinkie • July 3rd, 2008 | 09:52
@ voodoo_child
Hey blacky american
Quit blaming something that happened decades ago on ya poverty. Just admit ya lazy and cant hold a job. And if that was your reason that its ok for black people to make fun of other races. Lol, you of all races should be the last after knowing how it felt like.

• • • • •

That knocked the wind out of me.

about puking

2 07 2008

I sent an abrupt email saying I was sorry and thanked her for letting me know.

Her response: “I have lots things to do. Help her family to come here. Hire probate lawyer. Contact police department for the investigation result. Her body still there.”

I’m sorry the death of her best friend burdened her with all that responsibility, but it sounds like there may have been something other than natural causes at work.

I caved in out of morbid curiosity, I suppose, and inquired if she was suggesting that S*S* had been killed. The body still where? The coroner?

Her response confirmed the coroner and that the details of her death were still a mystery. It happened after a night out dancing, and she added: “I should look after her, but when she asked me to go with her, I was too tired from stock and options trading early morning.”

My goodness. Imagine if these exchanges had taken place in person. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.