And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus

Friday, February 23, 2018

Fistfuls of Mercy

The quality of mercy is not strain'd.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the heart of kings;
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.
- William Shakespeare, "The Quality Of Mercy "

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Zizek v. Peterson

Just a couple of remarks in reply to numerous critiques of my comment on Jordan Peterson in The Independent.[1]

The leitmotif of my critics in mentioning the link between Peterson and the alt-right is that I am wrong, displaying my basic lack of acquaintance with what I criticize: Petersen is a radical liberal (he supports welfare state, etc.) worried about the threat that Political Correctness, identity politics, LGBT+, etc., pose to the freedom of speech and other fundamental values of a free democratic society. In locating him within the alt-right, I act as a Politically Correct and postmodern dogmatic ignoring simple facts.

I find this line of attack very strange. Whatever one thinks about my theories, one constant in them is my critical rejection of postmodern deconstructionism and of the dismissal of modern science as yet another ”discursive practice,” the “truth-effect” of which is to be historically relativized. Furthermore, a year or so ago, when I questioned Political Correctness and some aspects of LGBT+ movement (and some other things problematic for today’s “radical Left,” like the predominant stance towards refugees), I was not only submitted to a long series of extremely brutal attacks, but I was also gradually excluded from the public media. So, now my only access to media in English are three digital outlets: The Independent, Russia Today, and a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books (which was kind enough to publish this reply – I was not able to post it on The Independent’s site, since it was cut off as too long for a comment). The days when I was able to publish comments in The Guardian and occasionally even in New York Times are long gone, and even In These Times now refuses to publish me. The comic aspect of all this is that I am often attacked for the same text from one side for my alleged Eurocentric racism and from the opposite side for my alleged hatred of the Western tradition… Part of this comedy are many reactions to my text in The Independent: reading them one gets the impression that I am just attacking one side and not indicating how both sides are resorting to the same strategies of lying in the guise of truth.

This brings me to Peterson. I see two levels in his work. First, there is his liberal analysis and critique of PC, LGBT+, etc., with regard to how they pose a danger to our freedoms, and although there are things I disagree with at this level, I also see in it some worthwhile observations. The difference with him is that, while critical of many stances and political practices of PC, identity politics and LGBT+, I nonetheless see in them an often inadequate and distorted expression of very real and pressing problems. Claims about women’s oppression cannot be dismissed by referring to Fifty Shades of Grey, the story of a woman who enjoys being dominated (as one of my critics claims), the suffering of transgender people is all too real, etc. The way racist and sexist oppression works in a developed liberal society is much more refined (but no less efficient) than in its direct brutal form, and the most dangerous mistake is to attribute women’s inferior position to their free choice.

(NOTE FOR FT) But I do wholeheartedly disagree with Peterson when he enters the domain of conspiracy theories. What I find really problematic is that he interprets PC (and his other targets) as the extreme outgrowth of “cultural Marxism” (a block which comprises Frankfurt School, the “French” poststructuralist deconstructionism, identity politics, gender and queer theories, etc.). He seems to imply that “cultural Marxism” is the result of a deliberate shift in Marxist (or Communist) strategy: after Communism lost the economic battle with liberal capitalism (waiting in vain for the revolution to arrive in the developed Western world), its leaders decided to move the terrain to cultural struggles (sexuality, feminism, racism, religion…), systematically undermining the cultural foundations and values of our freedoms. In the last decades, this new approach proved unexpectedly efficient: today, our societies are caught in the self-destructive circle of guilt, unable to defend their positive legacy…

I see no necessary link between this line of thought and liberalism. The notion of “cultural Marxism” manipulated by some secret Communist centre and aiming to destroy Western freedoms is a pure alt-right conspiracy theory. And the fact that it can be mobilized as part of a liberal defence of our freedoms says something about the immanent weaknesses of the liberal project. First, there is no unified field of “cultural Marxism”: some of today’s representatives of the Frankfurt school are among the most vicious denigrators of “French thought”; many “cultural Marxists” are very critical of identity politics, etc. Second, any positive reference to the Frankfurt School or to “French thought” was prohibited in Socialist countries where the authorities were much more open towards Anglo-Saxon analytic thought (as I remember from my own youth), so the claim that both classic Marxism and its “cultural” version were somehow controlled by the same central agent has to rely on the very suspicious notion of a hidden Master who secretly pulls the strings. Finally, while I admit (and analyse in my books) the so-called “totalitarian” excesses of Political Correctness and some transgender orientations which bear witness to a weird will to legalize, prohibit and regulate, I see in this tendency no trace of the “radical Left” but, on the contrary, a version of liberalism gone astray in its effort to protect and guarantee freedom. Liberalism was always an inconsistent project ridden with antagonisms and tensions.

If I were to engage in paranoiac speculations, I would be much more inclined to say that the Politically Correct obsessive regulations (like the obligatory naming of different sexual identities, with legal measures taken if one violates them) are rather a Left-liberal plot to destroy any actual radical Left movement. Suffice it to recall the animosity against Bernie Sanders among some LGBT+ and feminist circles, whose members have no problems with big corporate bosses supporting them. The “cultural” focus of PC and #MeToo is, to put it in a simplified way, a desperate attempt to avoid the confrontation with actual economic and political problems, i.e., to locate women’s oppression and racism in their socio-economic context. The moment one mentions these problems, one is accused of vulgar “class reductionism.” Walter Benn Michaels and others have written extensively on this, and in Europe, Robert Pfaller wrote books critical of PC’s patronizing stance and has now started a movement “adults for adults”. Liberals will have to take note that there is a growing radical Left critique of PC, identity politics and #MeToo…

This is no place to develop extensively my views. To anyone interested in them, I propose to take a look at my book The Courage of Hopelessness, which has just appeared in the US. And a final note. I neither participate in Facebook nor do I tweet, but I was informed there are anonymous persons who are active in both media pretending to be me. All such cases are fakes. So I was surprised to learn that Peterson is challenging me to a debate, in response to a tweet operating under my name. If he really wants to, I am ready to do it during my next visit to New York next October.

[1] See http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jord.an-peterson-clinical-psychologist-canada-popularity-convincing-why-left-wing-alt-right-cathy-a8208301.html
-Slavoj Zizek, "A Reply to my Critics Concerning an Engagement with Jordan Peterson"

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tend Your Garden

Jean Huber, "Voltaire upon Waking at Ferney, Dictating to His Secretary Collini" (c. 1772)
Marcel Janco, "Abstraction Nouvelle II" (1954)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

'68 Spring

The May 1968 protest movement changed the western world. Now, almost 50 years later, it’s clear a supposedly leftist movement ultimately helped capitalism to dominate. Although an immense abyss separates the social revolution of the 1960s from today’s protests, we are witnessing a similar re-appropriation of the energy of revolt by the capitalist system.

One of the well-known graffiti slogans on the Paris walls of ‘68 was: “structures do not walk on the streets,” meaning one couldn’t explain the large student and workers demonstrations of ’68 in the terms of structuralism. And this is why some historians even posit 1968 as a date that separates structuralism from post-structuralism which was, so the story goes, much more dynamic and prone to active political interventions.

The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s answer was that this, precisely, is what happened in 1968: structures DID descend onto the streets – the visible explosive events were ultimately the result of a structural shift in the basic social and symbolic texture of modern Europe.

Light My Fire

The consequences of the ‘68 explosion prove him right. What effectively happened in the aftermath of the ‘68 was the rise of a new figure of the “spirit of capitalism.” Indeed, the system abandoned the Fordist centralized structure of the production process and developed a network-based form of organization founded on employee initiative and autonomy in the workplace.

Thus, instead of hierarchical-centralized chains of command, we now have networks with a multitude of participants, organizing work in the form of teams or projects. Which are intent on customer satisfaction, and a general mobilization of workers thanks to their leaders’ vision. This new “spirit of capitalism” triumphantly recuperated the egalitarian and anti-hierarchical rhetoric of 1968, presenting itself as a successful libertarian revolt against the oppressive social organizations of corporate capitalism AND “really-existing” socialism.

The two phases of this new “cultural capitalism” are clearly discernible in the stylistic changes within advertising. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was the direct reference to personal authenticity or the quality of experience that predominated, while later, one can note more and more the mobilization of socio-ideological motifs (such as ecology and social solidarity). In fact, the experience referred to is the experience of being part of a larger collective movement, of caring for nature and the welfare of the ill, poor and deprived, and of doing something for them.

Helping Hands?

For instance, here is a case of this “ethical capitalism” brought to the extreme: Toms Shoes, a company founded in 2006 on a premise: with every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. “One for One.” Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good is what we’re all about.

Because among the planet’s 7.6 billion people, four billion live in conditions inconceivable to many at the top of the tree. But now the sin of consumerism (buying a new pair of shoes) can be atoned for and thereby erased by the awareness that one of those who really needs shoes received another pair free of charge. Meaning the very act of participating in consumerist activities is simultaneously presented as participating in the struggle against the evils ultimately caused by capitalist consumerism.

In a similar way, many other aspects of ‘68 were successfully integrated into the hegemonic capitalist ideology and are today mobilized not only by liberals, but also by contemporary Right, in their struggle against any form of “socialism.” For example, “freedom of choice” is used as an argument for the benefits of precarious work. So, forget the anxieties of not being sure how you will survive the next few years and focus instead on the fact that you gain the freedom to “reinvent” yourself again and again, to avoid being stuck to the same monotonous work.

Utter Upheaval

The 1968 protest focused its struggle against (what were perceived as) the three pillars of capitalism: factory, school and family. As a result, each domain was submitted to post-industrial transformation. Leading to factory-work becoming more and more outsourced or, in the developed world, reorganized along the post-Fordist non-hierarchical interactive team-work. Meanwhile, permanent flexible privatized education is more and more replacing universal public education and multiple forms of flexible sexual arrangements are replacing the traditional family.

At the same time, the Left lost in its very victory: the direct enemy was defeated, but replaced by a new form of even more direct capitalist domination. In “postmodern” capitalism, the market is invading new spheres which were hitherto considered the privileged domain of the state, from education to prisons and security.

When “immaterial work” (like education) is celebrated as the labor which directly produces social relations, one should not forget what this means within a commodity-economy. That new domains, hitherto excluded from the market, are now commodified. So, when in trouble, we no longer talk to a friend but pay a psychiatrist or councilor to take care of the problem. And instead of parents, paid baby-sitters and educators take care of children.

Heavy Burden

One should, of course, not forget the real achievements of ‘68. The movement opened up a radical change in how we treat women’s rights, homosexuality and racism. After the glorious 60s, we simply cannot engage in public racism and homophobia the way we still could in the 1950s. Thus, ‘68 was not a single event but an ambiguous one in which different political tendencies were combined: this is why it also remained a thorn in the heel of many conservatives.

Nicholas Sarkozy admitted it when he said in his electoral campaign in 2007 that his great task was to make France finally get over ‘68. One should, of course, not miss the irony of this remark: the fact that Sarkozy, with his clownish outbursts and marriage to Carla Bruni, can be the French President is in itself one of the outcomes of the changes in customs brought about by May ‘68.

So we have the legacy of “their” May ‘68 and “our” May ‘68. In today’s predominant collective memory, “our” basic idea of the May demonstrations in Paris and the link between student protests and worker’s strikes, is forgotten. The true legacy of ‘68 resides in its rejection of the liberal-capitalist system, in a NO to the totality of it best encapsulated in the formula: Soyons realistes, demandons l’impossible!

The true utopia is the belief that the existing global system can reproduce itself indefinitely and that the only way to be truly “realist” is to endorse what, within the coordinates of this system, cannot but appear as impossible. The fidelity to May ‘68 is thus best expressed by the question: how are we to prepare for this radical change and to lay the foundations for it?
- Slavoj Zizek, "Legacy of 1968 protests: How a leftist revolution helped capitalists win"

#MeToo - Yearning for the 50's?

"Stop Harassing Me w/Your Sexist Phone Calls, Woody!"
Changing Mores

The gap separating the ’68 sexual liberation from today’s struggle for sexual emancipation is clearly discernible in a recent polemical exchange between Germaine Greer and some feminists who critically reacted to her negative remarks concerning #MeToo. Their main point was how, while Greer’s main thesis – that women should sexually liberate themselves from male domination and assume active sexual lives without any recourse to victimhood – was valid in the sexual-liberation movement of the 1960s, today the situation is different.

And what has happened, in between, is that the sexual emancipation of women (i.e. their ability to freely assume a social life as active sexual) was itself commodified. While it’s true to say women are no longer perceived as passive objects of male desire, it’s also the case that their active sexuality itself now equates (in male eyes) to their permanent availability and readiness to engage in sexual interaction.

In these new circumstances, forcefully saying NO isn’t considered mere self-victimization since it implies the rejection of this new form of sexual subjectivization of women, and demands women not only passively submit to male sexual domination but act as if they actively want it.
-Slavoj Zizek, Sex and '68: Liberal Movement Revolutionized 'Sexuality,' but at What Cost?"

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Zizek On Jordan Peterson

-Slavoj Zizek, "Why do people find Jordan Peterson so convincing? Because the left doesn't have its own house in order"
The Canadian clinical psychologist and university professor has become hugely popular for his 'anti-PC' views and is beloved of many on the alt-right. He's appealing for a number of reasons, most of them connected to the left-wing people he opposes

The wide popularity of Jordan Peterson, a once-obscure Canadian clinical psychologist and university professor who has become beloved of the alt-right, is a proof that the liberal-conservative “silent majority” finally found its voice. Peterson, who has said that the idea of white privilege is a "Marxist lie" and theorised that "radical feminists" don't speak out about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia because of "their unconscious wish for brutal male domination", is fast becoming a mainstream commentator.

His advantages over the previous anti-LGBT+ star Milo Yiannopoulos are obvious. Yiannopoulos was witty, fast-talking, full of jokes and sarcasms, and openly gay – he resembled, in many features, the culture he was attacking. Peterson is his opposite: he combines a “common sense” approach and (the appearance of) cold scientific argumentation with a bitter rage at a threat to the liberal basics of our societies – his stance is: “Enough is enough! I cannot stand it anymore!”

It is easy to discern the cracks in his advocacy of cold facts against “political correctness”: not only is he often relying on unverified theories, but the big problem is the paranoiac construct which he uses to interpret what he sees as facts. "Facts are facts," he likes to say, before going on to say that "the idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory" and that to conceive of gender as a social construct is "as bad as claiming the world is flat".

Jacques Lacan wrote that, even if what a jealous husband claims about his wife (that she sleeps around with other men) is all true, his jealousy is still pathological: the pathological element is the husband's need for jealousy as the only way to retain his dignity, identity even. Along the same lines, one could say that, even if most of the Nazi claims about the Jews were true (they exploit Germans, they seduce German girls, and so on) – which they are not, of course – their anti-Semitism would still be (and was) a pathological phenomenon because it repressed the true reason why the Nazis needed anti-Semitism in order to sustain their ideological position. In the Nazi vision, their society is an organic whole of harmonious collaboration, so an external intruder is needed to account for divisions and antagonisms.

The same holds for how, today, the anti-immigrant populists deal with the “problem” of the refugees: they approach it in the atmosphere of fear, of the incoming struggle against the “Islamification” of Europe, and they get caught in a series of obvious absurdities. For them, refugees who flee terror are equalised with the terrorists they are escaping from, oblivious to the obvious fact that, while there are probably among the refugees also terrorists, rapists, criminals and so on, the large majority are desperate people looking for a better life.

In other words, the cause of problems which are immanent to today's global capitalism is projected onto an external intruder. Anti-immigrant racism and sexism is not dangerous because it lies; it is at its most dangerous when its lie is presented in the form of a (partial) factual truth.

Unfortunately, the liberal, left-wing reaction to anti-immigrant populism is no better. Populism and leftie “political correctness” practice the two complementary forms of lying which follow the classic distinction between hysteria and obsessional neurosis: a hysteric tells the truth in the guise of a lie (what it says is literally not true, but the lie expresses in a false form an authentic complaint), while what an obsessional neurotic claims is literally true, but it is a truth which serves a lie.

Populists and PC liberals resort to both strategies. First, they both resort to factual lies when they serve what populists perceive as the higher truth of their cause. Religious fundamentalists advocate “lying for Jesus” – say, in order to prevent the “horrible crime of abortion”, one is allowed to propagate false scientific “truths” about the lives of foetuses and the medical dangers of abortion; in order to support breast-feeding, one is allowed to present as a scientific fact that abstention from breast-feeding causes breast cancer, and so on.

Common anti-immigrant populists shamelessly circulate non-verified stories about rapes and other crimes of the refugees in order to give credibility to their “insight” that refugees pose a threat to our way of life. All too often, PC liberals proceed in a similar way: they pass in silence over actual differences in the “ways of life” between refugees and Europeans since mentioning them may be seen to promote Eurocentrism. Recall the Rotherham sex abuse scandal, where the race of the perpetrators was downplayed in case anything in the case could be interpreted as racist.

The opposite strategy – that of lying in the guise of truth – is also widely practiced on both poles. If anti-immigrant populists not only propagate factual lies but also cunningly use bits of factual truth with the aura of veracity to their racist lie, PC partisans also practice this “lying with truth”: in its fight against racism and sexism, it mostly quotes crucial facts, but it often gives them a wrong twist. The populist protest displaces onto the external enemy the authentic frustration and sense of loss, while the PC left uses its true points (detecting sexism and racism in language and so on) to reassert its moral superiority and thus prevent true social change.

And this is why Peterson’s outbursts have such an effect. His crazy conspiracy theory about LGBT+ rights and #MeToo as the final offshoots of the Marxist project to destroy the West is, of course, ridiculous. It is totally blind for the inner antagonisms and inconsistencies of the liberal project itself: the tension between liberals who are ready to condone racist and sexist jokes on account of the freedom of speech and the PC regulators who want to censor them as an obstacle to the freedom and dignity of the victims of such jokes has nothing to do with the authentic left.

Peterson addresses what many of us feel goes wrong in the PC universe of obsessive regulation – the problem with him does not reside in his theories but in the partial truths that sustain them. If the left is not able to address these limitations of its own project, it is fighting a lost battle.
Is "the Fascist" Progressive Liberalism's GREATEST Pokemon? What became of "the Racist?"

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Coming White Noise

Evenings of Destruction

Walter Benjamin, "The Destructive Character"
It could happen to someone looking back over his life that he realized that almost all the deeper obligations he had endured in its course originated in people who everyone agreed had the traits of a “destructive character.” He would stumble on this fact one day, perhaps by chance, and the heavier the shock dealt to him, the better his chances of representing the destructive character.

The destructive character knows only one watchword: make room. And only one activity: clearing away. His need for fresh air and open space is stronger than any hatred.

The destructive character is young and cheerful. For destroying rejuvenate, because it clears away the traces of our own age; it cheers, because everything cleared away means to the destroyer a complete reduction, indeed a rooting out, out of his own condition. Really, only the insight into how radically the world is simplified when tested for its worthiness for destruction leads to such an Apollonian image of the destroyer. This is the great bond embracing and unifying all that exists. It is a sight that affords the destructive character a spectacle of deepest harmony.

The destructive character is always blithely at work. It is Nature that dictates his tempo, indirectly at least, for he must forestall her. Otherwise she will take over the destruction herself.

The destructive character sees no image hovering before him. He has few needs, and the least of them is to know what will replace what has been destroyed. First of all, for a moment at least, empty space – the place where thing stood or the victim lived. Someone is sure to be found who needs this space without occupying it.

The destructive character does his work; the only work he avoids is creative. Just as the creator seeks solitude, the destroyer must be constantly surrounded by people, witnesses to his efficacy.
The destructive character is a signal. Just a trigonometric sign is exposed on all sides to the wind, so he is exposed to idle talk. To protect him from it is pointless.

The destructive character has no interest in being understood. Attempts in this direction he regards as superficial. Being misunderstood cannot harm him. On the contrary, he provokes it, just as oracles, those destructive institutions of the state, provoked it. The most petty bourgeois of all phenomena, gossip, comes about only because people do not wish to be misunderstood. The destructive character tolerates misunderstanding; he does not promote gossip.

The destructive character is the enemy of the étui-man. The étui-man looks for comfort, and the case is its quintessence. The inside of the case is the velvet-lined trace that he has imprinted on the world. The destructive character obliterates even the traces of destruction.

The destructive character stands in the front line of traditionalists. Some people pass things down to posterity, by making them untouchable and thus conserving them; others pass on situations, by making them practicable and thus liquidating them. The latter are called the destructive.
The destructive character has the consciousness of historical man, whose deepest emotion is an insuperable mistrust of the course of things and a readiness at all times to recognize that everything can go wrong. Therefore, the destructive character is reliability itself.

The destructive character sees nothing permanent. But for this very reason he sees ways everywhere. Where others encounter walls or mountains, there, too, he sees a way. But because he sees a way everywhere, he has to clear things from it everywhere. Not always by brute force; sometimes by the most refined. Because he sees ways everywhere, he always stands at a crossroads. No moment can know what the next will bring. What exists he reduces to rubble – not for the sake of rubble, but for that of the way leading through it.

The destructive character lives from the feeling not that life is worthing living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.

* Text published originally in the Frankfurter Zeitung at 20th November 1931
John Dickson Batten, "The Garden of Adonis - Amoretta and Time" (1887)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Meaning from Meaninglessness

“Light is sweet,
and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years anyone may live,
let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
for there will be many.
Everything to come is meaningless.”
― King Solomon Son of David

Sunday, February 11, 2018

On Dark Energy and Black Holes...

from Gizmodo
It appears that the Universe is full of dark matter—around six times more of it than there is regular matter. It has obvious visible effects, like the way it bends light from distant galaxies. Despite dedicated searches, no signs of a dark matter particle explaining these effects have turned up.

Perhaps instead physicists will be able to find some dark force, a portal into the dark world. Such a “dark photon” would be dark matter’s equivalent of a photon, a the way that dark matter particles interact with one another. Scientists are searching for such a particle. It hasn’t turned up yet, based on new results from the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva Switzerland. But the search isn’t over—and a lot of physicists are really excited about it.

“LHCb had to work really hard to get to this mass range,” Caterina Doglioni, a researcher at Lund University who was not involved in the study, told Gizmodo. “The way they did it is quite cool. They reinvented the data taking of LHC experiments”

Physicists have been using plenty of methods such as big vats of liquid xenon to try and find dark matter particles directly, and still have no leads. Dark photons would take Dark Matter’s story deeper, and imply that there’s a dark universe governed by dark forces.

“What we now about dark matter is very little. One of the pressing questions is, how does dark matter interact with itself? That’s a wide open space,” study author Mike Williams told Gizmodo. He said that discovering this particle could open up an entirely new area of study.

Actually looking for this particle is a chore. Williams hoped that the LHC’s high-energy proton collisions would result in dark photons that then decay into other particles called the muon and its antiparticle partner. But there are tons of less-ghostly ways that particles in the searched-through mass range could decay into two muons. In some cases, hunting for it is like trying to find out whether someone dumped a bag of M&Ms into a vat of M&Ms at the candy factory by comparing the contents of the vat to the factory’s usual output.

Doglioni was especially impressed by how the team managed to get all their data. Particle physics experiments create so much data that they have triggers—initial detectors simply tell the experiment to keep all of the data in the collision or throw it all away, based on predetermined parameters. LHCb updated their data-taking scheme to allow the triggers to select only the data in the collisions they want, the two muons, for any events that contain them, rather than throwing away entire events that might have useful information.

After analyzing data, they couldn’t find dark photons with masses between 10GeV and 70GeV that immediately decay into the muon pair (a Higgs Boson weighs around 125GeV). They also didn’t find a signal for longer-lived particles that weigh between 214 and 350 MeV (a proton weighs a little less than 1,000 MeV), the first such search for these longer-lived dark photons. They published their results in Physical Review Letters.

But people aren’t upset just yet. “I am specially excited with their results for ‘long-lived dark photon’ region, where the dark photon travels a finite distance in the detector before decaying,” Suchita Kulkarni from the Institute of High Energy Physics in Austria told Gizmodo. “This constraint is really awesome! This region being searched for by LHCb...is really a sweet-spot accessible to very few experiments at this moment.” Essentially, LHCb is looking for a kind of particle that other experiments might not be able to find. She also pointed out that more complicated photon models might require another look at this data.

CERN Physicist James Beacham from the ATLAS experiment was also excited by the result, and hoped it would motivate competing ATLAS and CMS teams to finish similar analyses, too. And this dark photon search, which has already been going on for a long time, will probably continue. “Dark photon searches are simultaneously straightforward and challenging, straightforward because the concept is general and simple enough that designing experimental searches is pretty easy, but challenging because we really have no clue where in parameter space the dark photon could live,” he said.

Given all of the unknowns, physicists really need a sign. Williams said: “Any hook in would really help guide us to what to do next.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Overcoming Hubris...

The New German Idealism

The Utopian Dream of Possibilities...
from Wiki
Alexandre Kojève (French: [alɛksɑ̃dʁ koʒɛv]; 28 April 1902 – 4 June 1968) was a Russian-born French philosopher and statesman whose philosophical seminars had an immense influence on 20th-century French philosophy, particularly via his integration of Hegelian concepts into twentieth century continental philosophy. As a statesman in the French government, he was instrumental in the creation of the European Union. Kojève was a close friend of, and was in lifelong philosophical dialogue with, Leo Strauss.
Though not an orthodox Marxist, Kojeve was known as an influential and idiosyncratic interpreter of Hegel, reading him through the lens of both Marx and Heidegger. The well-known "End of History" thesis advanced the idea that ideological history in a limited sense had ended with the French Revolution and the regime of Napoleon and that there was no longer a need for violent struggle to establish the "rational supremacy of the regime of rights and equal recognition." Kojeve's "End of History" is different from Francis Fukayama's later thesis of the same name in that it points as much to a socialist-capitalist synthesis as to a triumph of liberal capitalism. Mark Lilla notes that Kojève rejected the prevailing concept among European intellectuals of the 1930s that capitalism and democracy were failed artifacts of the Enlightenment that would be destroyed by either communism or fascism. In contrast, Kojève, while initially somewhat more sympathetic to the Soviet Union than the United States, devoted much of his thought to protecting western European autonomy, particularly so France, from domination by either the Soviet Union and the United States. He believed that the capitalist United States represented Right-Hegelianism while the state-socialist Soviet Union represented Left-Hegelianism; victory by either side, he posited, would result in what Lilla describes as "a rationally organized bureaucracy without class distinctions."
The Reality of the Bureaucratic Euro-State as an "Absolute Ideal"

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Beth Clones

...and butter bots


There's a poetry test
I'm sure to pass
In Ms Rosemary Hosebury's
Poetry class
She's given us the title
"A Goddess Sublime"
Which will take no time
For the Prince of Rhyme (to do)


If there's anything in the world
That I would like to be
It's Shirley Bassey's microphone
So she could sing to me

I know she sings to everyone
When they come to hear her
But front row seats costs fifteen quid
And I would be much nearer.

Another thing that strikes me
About being up that close
Is that I could smell her perfume
And see right up her nose

I know microphones get dribbled on
But so what, what the hell?
It's a perk of the job when it's Shirley's gob
And I'd get in free as well!
-- MR BEAN (7-9 June 1993)
Dame Shirley Bassey singing "Goldfinger"