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

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Paul Delvaux, "The Anxious City" (1940-41)

from Wiki:

The Anxious City (French: La ville inquiète) is a painting made by Paul Delvaux in 1940–1941. It depicts a large number of upset people, most of whom are nude or partially nude, in front of a lake and classical structures. Among the characters who stand out are a naked self-portrait of Delvaux, a man in a bowler hat and a group of bare-breasted women. The man with the bowler hat made his debut in The Anxious City and would appear in several other Delvaux paintings.[1]

Critics have focused on The Anxious City's complex composition, disquiet atmosphere and possible origin as a reaction to the German invasion of Belgium. It has been compared to works by Antoine Caron, Nicolas Poussin and René Magritte. The Anxious City was first exhibited in Brussels in 1944 and was part of the 1954 Venice Biennale. It was last sold at auction in 1998.

Rene Magritte, "Homesickness" (1940)

This is clearly one of Magritte's most emotionally honest paintings and instead of giving the painting one of his whimsical surreal titles like "Waiting for the Pea-Souper" (a title proposed by one of his friends that Rene considered but rejected), he chose the title that reflected how he felt...how he was lost...how he wished he could go home.

In May 1940 his home was invaded by the Nazi during World War II and Magritte fled with his close friends Paul Eluard and Scutenaire. It would be easy to assume then that this painting was about the German occupation of Belgium and Magritte's homesickness about having to flee the country he loved. Certainly this is an emotional component of the painting but there's much more.

The yearning for home is one of the strongest human desires. Home for many people represents safety or freedom from concern, of being a child again- protected by your parents. Home is a place you belong and with every fiber of your being you wish you could return. By returning to your earliest thoughts, to the womb, you could escape the fears and torments of life. Magritte, as we all do had this powerful yearning for home. His home life was not easy- in fact he didn't want to talk about it. He moved frequently with his two brothers when he was very young. Then when he was just 13 his mother committed suicide, drowning herself in the Sambre River. As a child becoming a young man, this was not easy.

Magritte's father died in 1928 of diabetes leaving Rene without parents. He was alone except for his loving wife, Georgette. They were living in the suburbs of Paris at the time. Soon they too would become homesick and and after a three year sojourn to Paris, the Magritte's came home to Brussels where they could be near their remaining family members.

Six or seven years later Rene Magritte's life started to change. Leaving his happy home in Brussels, he went on his trips to London to visit Edward James and ELT Mesens to prepare for his exhibitions. During that time Rene became involved with the young surrealist model known as the "Surrealist Phantom" of 1936, the artist Sheila Legg, who posed for surrealist events with Salvador Dali and others and was one of the most photographed surrealist woman at the time. According to one source: "Magritte, in fact, fell in love with her." Magritte did not want to hurt Georgette or arouse her suspicions, so he arranged for his friend, Paul Colinet (1898-1957) a Belgian surrealist poet, to spend time with Georgette so she would be safe... a little too safe as it turned out. While Magritte was away Georgette and Paul Colinet became romantically involved. Georgette at one point asked Rene for a divorce.

So Rene Magritte fled Brussels and his marital problems for France in May 1940, five days after German troops invaded Belgium and Holland. Georgette did not go with him. Rene spent three months in Carcassonne, France, with Paul Eluard and Scutenaire.

The painting Homesickness features a forlorn Magritte as an angel leaning over a bridge contemplating the river, perhaps thinking of suicide. Magritte had the courage and honesty to paint himself, on the edge... on the brink of catastrophe. He was losing the two things he most valued in his life...his wife Georgette and his home.

The lion is hard to overlook. Curiously the "king of the jungle" is not threatening or menacing and looks away disinterested. Clearly the lion represents Georgette, and perhaps Magritte never understood this himself. The two are separated, not interested in each other, while Magritte contemplates his sorrow and pain.

Time Belongs to the Observer, Not the Observed

"Time is not an absolute reality but an aspect of our consciousness."
- Robert Lanza

The faster you go, the less information detail you can capture and retain in a memory limited by exposure time (GHz)? Evolution represents the amount of information captured by the first observing subject up until the present time which gets transferred to the next observer at the moment of biological "conception". It's an information "relay-race". Most observers tranfer their information genetically and bio-electrically. Other commit it to external media (books/ images/ symbolic productions stored in electronic storage devices) in order to Speed up" and make "accessible" information transfer to future observers. Evolution describes this information transfer process. Communities represent shared information data sets (Collections of Mutual knowledge). Individual knowledge shared or experienced together with others become bubbles of Mutual Knowledge

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Stanislaw Lem's Holocaust

Incomprehending the Comprehensible

Excerpt from above video: 

Professor Elana Gomel writes in her essay on "Provocation": It is only in modernity that genocide comes into its own as a motiveless, purposeless act of extermination. The Holocaust is an event of our present and even more of our future. The murder of 6 million Jews wasn't caused by Untamed Evil from our past, but by a new form of Evil emerging from modernity itself. From forces of modernity we are barely starting to comprehend. And as soon as we do comprehend them, we fast find ways to uncomprehend them. Incomprehensive Evil is quite simply the understanding that the entire ideological apparatus of Nazism, to quote Professor Gomel, was "nothing but a window dressing for the desire to kill."

We have many ways of avoiding this realization. We talk about Nazism as nationalism, or class struggle. We pretend the Nazis were genuinely deluded by an actual belief in their nonsense mystifications of Jews as "an alien species". But the reality, that we are desperate to incomprehend is just this: Humans like to humiliate, torture and kill other humans. Nazism was nothing but a theatrical justification for those dark desires.

But that pleasure wasn't only the act of murder, it was murder for a higher cause. Murder to serve a greater good. Murder with meaning. The true pleasure is the act of violence that is justified by a "Transcendent Purpose". Killing that makes us not killers, but Saviors. To truly do bad things, people must believe they are doing good things. So the Ethics of Evil requires the invention of a "Transcendent Purpose," and that requires The Ethics of Kitsch.

I don't think I properly understood the argument presented by Stanislav Lem in "Provocation", or the Holocaust itself until my third reading of the story, deep into the process of making this video essay and these lines. Hitler's conquest consisted in the careerism of lumpens, simpletons, Non-Commissioned Officer's sons, Baker's Assistants, and Third Rate Writers who longed for high position as salvation.

The saturation of our culture with Nazi imagery can't help but impart a certain glamour on these symbols: the Hugo Boss uniforms, the Eagles, nine crosses, the black and the red. So it's easy to forget that Nazism was a movement of the subpar, and the semi-educated. A mob of mediocrity that had killed, or forced into exile, the talented, and the skilled. When the narrow imagination of the Nazi mob turned to creating a mystification for itself, to provide "Transcendent Purpose" for the desire to kill, what it made was a monstrous kitsch. A self-satisfying Ego trip of bad art and recycled symbolism.
What's horrifying about the Nazi officer burning bodies, or the mob beating a mother and her daughter in the Lyiv ghetto? I keep looking at this Photograph to try and understand isn't that these are deities of War, but that these are very mediocre people indulging a cheap desire to humiliate and kill, covered over with a kitsch fantasy of meaning. And that this is the truth of the Holocaust.

Stanislav Lem completes his warning against modern Evil with an examination of how the Ethics of Evil, and the Ethics of Kitsch, are spreading through Modern culture. The second volume of "Genocide, Foreign Body Death" examines how modern terrorism replicates the Nazi Ethics of Evil. No doubt Len would have recognized the kitsch mystification of young martyrs live streaming the deaths of entire families for a place in Eternal Paradise.

But the death camps and terrorist attacks of the 20th century are only a foretaste of what the Ethics of Evil, and the Ethics of Kitsch, hold in store for us. What more is left to Mankind in the field of these dark activities? What other games with death will he invent, sometimes veiled, sometimes exciting with a bloody strip tease?

With this unanswered question ends "A History of Genocide" by Horst Aspernicus, and Stanislav Lem's lifelong search for the truth of the holocaust. Modern culture contains many people lost in the Ethics of Evil, and the Ethics of Kitsch. Lem tells us that if you are only honest enough to comprehend this reality, you will will see them clearly hiding behind their kitsch mystifications, looking for easy victims. Just waiting for a provocation

More -  Elana Gomel, 'Stanislaw Lem "Provocation": the Ethics of Genocide'

Monday, February 19, 2024

Fregoli: An Exercise in Profilicity


Review of BCH's "The Crisis of Narration": Becoming Borg!

Stuart Jeffries,"The Crisis of Narration by Byung-Chul Han review – how big tech altered the narrative"
From Instagram to health apps, the modern world no longer allows for rich and complex storytelling argues the philosopher in an entertaining polemic that’s short on humility

In Charlie Kaufman’s puppet animation Anomalisa, everyone looks and speaks the same. It’s as though a scene in an earlier Kaufman-penned film, Being John Malkovich, in which Malkovich surveys a restaurant from his table and notices everyone – waiters, diners, perhaps even a passing dog – have his face and voice, has gone global.
No one is immune: at one point, the mouth of the narrator, a motivational speaker called Michael Stone, falls from his face into his hands and chatters away all by itself. The guru’s improving homilies are so artificially intelligent, predictable and effectively transhuman, that they need no warming body or soul to sustain them.

But that’s not the worst of it. Each puppet is incessantly enjoined by life coaches and other professional fascists to express their individuality. But how can they since they are all the same and have access to the same narrative codes? Such is the existential tragicomedy of modern humanity.
Kaufman’s puppet hell is no fairytale for the Korean-German philosopher Byung-Chul Han, but captures truths of our information-saturated, phone-fixated, ChatGPT-enabled age. For Han, Homo sapiens have degenerated into “phono sapiens”. A nice phrase, but what does it mean? Han’s suggestion in more than 20 books since 2015 is that we are all Big Brothers now. The smartphone is Catholicism with better technology, a modern rosary that is handheld confessional and effective surveillance apparatus in one. Han wrote in his 2017 book Psychopolitics that “power operates more effectively when it delegates surveillance to discrete individuals”. Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg don’t need the rats, torture chambers and 24/7 propaganda that kept Big Brother in power. The tech bros just need your connivance with your own oppression.

In this new book, Han describes the deleterious effects of that degeneration on storytelling. Storytelling used to bind us communally over the campfire; it connected us to our pasts and helped us imagine hopeful futures. The digital screen has replaced that fire, making us individuals performing factitious versions of ourselves to unseen peers, tailoring our looks, lives and opinions to fit prevailing norms. “This smart form of domination constantly asks us to communicate our opinions, needs and preferences, to tell our lives, to post, share and like messages,” writes Han.

We were storytellers; we have become storysellers, he says – a phrase he likes so much he repeats it frequently in this book.

Humans degenerate, as Han has put it elsewhere, into generative organs of capital, reducing ourselves obligingly to monetisable data sets that can be controlled and exploited, making Musk one of the world’s richest men and busting us down into content providers to extend his and his coevals’ grisly business models. We deploy heart-rate data from Fitbits to tell yawnsome just-so stories about fitness journeys; we embellish the tale of what we did on our holidays with selfies and soft-porn snaps of the meal we had at that cute bar we found, according to the permissible parameters of human leisure time, in Oslo. Something has gone missing in all these stories: our individuality, our humanity, our ability to tell convincing narratives rather than perform ourselves.

And when we aren’t producing stories, we are consuming them. Netflix chief executive Ted Sarandos once told me his company’s business model was all about giving customers what they want. What he didn’t say was that Netflix (and other streaming platforms) make content that is easily consumable, with narratives that follow pre-established patterns, to induce us to binge watch, rather than giving airtime to unheard voices or ways of telling stories that don’t fit with the algorithms. The result? “Viewers are fattened like consumer cattle,” writes Han. “Binge watching is a paradigm for the general mode of perception in late modernity.”

And yet phono sapiens aren’t just congenital liars, self-presenting ourselves as we are not. We have also become caught up in the countervailing urge to disclose everything about ourselves, for truth telling, for unlimited transparency. We follow the infernal exhortations of the titular tech-giant of Dave Eggers’s 2013 novel The Circle: “Secrets are lies. Sharing is caring. Privacy is theft.” These slogans are phono sapiens’ commandments.

As a result we have become Pinocchios with cute button noses, internalising norms of full disclosure and personal transparency (politicians’ deleted WhatsApp messages notwithstanding) since these data sets are monetisable assets.

Consider how Instagram offers tutorials in how to tailor narratives to meet demand and acquire that fool’s gold, influencer status. “Where you go, what you eat and drink, who you see, and what’s most memorable,” suggests one online course. “These are the typical fodder of Instagram Stories – seconds-long glimpses of people’s lives, shared on Instagram for only 24 hours.”

Hannah Arendt saw the banality of evil in Adolf Eichmann; had she lived to download Instagram, she might have seen the banality of storytelling. Keep it light, bite-sized and ephemeral. This is the fodder that best feeds the machine.

I found Han most relatable when he reflects on the strange death of storytelling in GP surgeries. “The spirit of narration does not fit with the logic of efficiency,” he notes. Doctors have neither the time nor the patience to listen. It’s a bracing point, but reality outstrips it: instead of telling my GP my ailments, today I am encouraged to post symptoms on an app called Dr iQ, which is designed to make medical care more efficient. But, as with Instagram Stories, only certain forms of narration are permissible: the app encourages patients to cram symptoms into tick boxes that seem devised expressly to prevent one giving a rich, subjective account of how one is feeling. We are reduced to identikit puppets with identikit symptoms. Quality of care? A tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.

I am very fond of Han’s writing. His 100-page jeremiads with short chapters and gnomic sentences are all animated by a Cassandra sensibility that expects warnings to go unheeded. Amusingly, though, he couldn’t tell a good story to save his life. Like a lot of men (and it is always men), Han writes as though he’s never been contradicted. He’s apt to issue purportedly incontrovertible apercus that had me writing “No!” repeatedly in the margins. He writes: “Today, children have become profane, digital beings.” What, all children? Children, I suspect, are capable of creating sites of resistance rather than doomed to be dupes of phono sapiens’ folly. The truth is more complicated. The best stories are more nuanced phenomena than Han allows.

Han proves addicted, like many German intellectuals since Goethe, to expressing himself in the imperious maxim. It’s a writerly tic that brooks no dissent. But that’s a rhetorical disaster for a book that is supposed to be championing the opposite, namely narrative storytelling in all its polysemous perversity. The best stories, after all, are rich in complexity, openness, self-doubt, conflicting arguments, hope and human warmth. Sad to say, these are all qualities that this book, for all Han’s lapidary brilliance, lacks.

Today's Slavoj Zizek article on Aleksei Navalny: "Navalny was Naive, but Not a Fool"

Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Lacanian Gaze... introducing "Platonic Gyges"

"I am not simply... located at the geometrical point from which the perspective is grasped. No doubt, in the depths of my eye, the picture is painted. The picture, certainly, is in my eye. But I am in the picture." 

- Lacan, "Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis" (1964-1964) 

“That the queen could see Gyges in the bedroom indicates that she possessed not only a power to make things invisible but also a corresponding power (as invisible spy) to make visible to herself things that were invisible to other people. Ptolemaeus Chennus writes that the eyes of "the wife of Candaules". . . had double pupils, and she was extremely sharp sighted, being the possessor of the dragon-stone. This is how she came to see Gyges as he passed through the door.” The dragon-stone has an opposite effect from the magic ring. In one case the talisman makes people invisible; in the other case, it makes people visible: taken together, their power makes things visible or invisible. This is the power of Platonic Gyges. It is also the power of the archetypal tyrant.”

Lacan’s sardine-tin story throws light on the issue of the “all-seen” subject, now splitting in search of itself, now diving, now reduced to zero.
In this little anecdote Lacan happens to be in search of something different, “in the country, or at the sea.” So much so that from morning till night he finds himself sailing…on a tiny boat, in the midst of fishermen, parting from the local port. Brittany was not really industrialized at that point—there were no trawlers—and the fishermen went to sea in their own frail crafts, at great risk to themselves. “It was this risk, this danger that I loved to share.”

One day, while waiting for the moment to pull in the nets, Petit-Jean pointed out to Lacan something floating on the surface of the waves. It was a sardine can. Floating there in the sun, it was “a witness to the canning industry.” Petit-Jean said, “You see that can? Do you see it? Well, it doesn’t see you!”

We may guess that Lacan was already talking to these men about things they had never heard of before, but they seemed to understand more than what he expected. In saying this Petit-Jean was laughing. Not Lacan. Why? Because he understood that the can was seeing him, “…at the level of the point of light at which everything that looks at you is situated.”

What does Lacan mean by this point of light, and why would the event disturb him? The pattern of the fractured word pre-exists the being, already breaking up between itself and its semblance, between itself and the photograph it shows to the other. Thus the point of light embodying the gaze: “…I enter light and it’s from the gaze that…I am photo-graphed.”

In this picture there is Lacan, himself a rare object in the landscape—a sardine tin in the sea. Caught in metaphor, if the tin represents a devastating eruption of industry in the realm of nature, Lacan’s presence among those fellows earning their livings with great difficulty, “looked like nothing on earth.”

From the perspective of the subject, how Lacan looked at/from the can was not affected by the fishermen’s thoughts or feelings. His perception, in the Other, is but his own perception of himself. “In the depths of my eye the picture is painted, but the subject is not in the picture…if I am anything in the picture, it is always in the form of the screen…the stain, the spot.”

The notion of the stain comes back later in Encore, “…there where it talks, it jouis, but it knows nothing.” Two categories of thought: “la pensé,…it thinks you, le pensé,…it thinks of you.” 2

It, a stain, thinks you. If the work of art, like the signifier equated to an angel, is empty—in the sense that you are not supposed to eat Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup, or clean the house with his Brillo pads—if the work of art thinks you, it is because it may hold you in its fold, for the stain/you to joui, there where it talks, but wants to know nothing.

From Louis Aragon, from Contre-chant, in the Fou d’Elsa:
A wretch, I am like mirrors
That can reflect but cannot see
like them my eye is empty and like them inhabited
By your absence which makes them blind.


The trauma of the encounter with the Gaze is, in a sense, the trauma with the absence of any safe distance from the world. Once one recognizes the Gaze you shouldn't be able to... the gamble is, one can no longer retreat into oneself.

So this gaze in Lacan's theorization of the Gaze in Seminars 11 and 13, I think, is the is really the high point of his philosophical trajectory. So, it's a point at which he forces us to confront that we're never removed from what we think is foreign. So the thing that we think is alien to us, were involved in that. And I think that's really an important philosophical idea on Lacan's part. And with the concept of the Gaze, I think he pushes his theory, I used this word before and I think it's the really important, one to its most dialectical point. So the point at which subjectivity is manifested in the world of objects. He sees, in other words, how the subject is always unconsciously "other" to itself.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Peter Sloterdijk - Assorted Thoughts on the Philosopher

Foamy Social Formations

Amphitrite, Goddess of the Sea  (not Aphrodite)

Amphitrite is the ancient Greek Triple Goddess in her guise as ruler of the sea. Her name, used synonymously with the ocean by Homer, means "the third one who encircles (To quote Graves on the subject: ‘the sea, which is cast about the earth, the first element, and above which rises the second element, air‘.)." A moon goddess, Amphitrite retained her individuality even under the later Greeks, who had her married to Poseidon. She has a special concern for all creatures of the sea and is responsible for the foaming waves.

Hesiod, "Theogony"

[176] And Heaven came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Earth spreading himself full upon her.7 Then the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father's members and cast them away to fall behind him. And not vainly did they fall from his hand; for all the bloody drops that gushed forth Earth received, and as the seasons moved round she bare the strong Erinyes and the great Giants with gleaming armour, holding long spears in their hands and the Nymphs whom they call Meliae8 all over the boundless earth. And so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden. First she drew near holy Cythera, and from there, afterwards, she came to sea-girt Cyprus, and came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet. Her gods and men call Aphrodite, and the foam-born goddess and rich-crowned Cytherea, because she grew amid the foam, and Cytherea because she reached Cythera, and Cyprogenes because she was born in billowy Cyprus, and Philommedes9 because sprang from the members. And with her went Eros, and comely Desire followed her at her birth at the first and as she went into the assembly of the gods. This honour she has from the beginning, and this is the portion allotted to her amongst men and undying gods, -- the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness.
Sandro Botticelli, "The Birth Of Venus"

Jamie Ranger, "The Politics of living in a World of Foam"
Peter Sloterdijk is a German philosopher notorious for his public spat with Jurgen Habermas, his proclamation that critical theory died in the 1990’s (much to the chagrin of Axel Honneth and other contemporary custodians of the tradition), and his gigantic three-volume Spheres trilogy, in which he presents a polemical and holistic philosophy of being, space and nature. The recent English translation of the trilogy has piqued the interest of theorists working on the interdisciplinary problems of culture, ecology and technology. His philosophical anthropology charting of the history of humanity’s self-organisation, specifically his account of “society as foam,” provides an intriguing challenge to the methodological assumptions that underpins much contemporary political theory.

In the third and final volume, Sloterdijk offers a theory of the present age from the perspective that “life” has a space-forming effect: individual living beings are not monads with their own environment but are all intertwined with each other. We are bubbles—translucent, fragile, and co-isolated social units enmeshed in foam, a description intended to capture ‘a technological theory’ of ‘political instructions for the construction and preservation of civilizatory units’ (2016: 37). Foams are described as the:
‘systems or aggregates of spheric neighbourhoods in which each individual “cell” constitutes a self-augmenting context…an intimate space of meaning whose tension is maintained by dyadic and pluripolar resonances, or a “household” that vibrates with its own individual animation (ibid: 52).’
Society is understood as an aggregate of microspheres (spaces of meaning produced by couples, families, households, businesses, free associations, institutions, etc.) that exist and relate to one another in contiguity and propinquity, as ‘individual bubbles in a mountain of foam’ (ibid: 56), both bordering one another and layered above and below one another, without the full transparency and accessibility of absolute disclosure.

The foam metaphor is designed to undermine the suggestion that societies can be understood as organic totalities of homogenous continuity. Instead, societies are only comprehensible as ‘restless and asymmetrical associations of pluralities of space and processes whose cells can neither be truly united nor truly separate’ (ibid: 54). The internal coherence or unity of a given social field is always an ideological construction, a fantasy that operates to suppress the ‘fluid, hybrid, permeable and promiscuous constitution’ (ibid: 55) of societies.

The important aspect of understanding the social field through the foam structure is that it reveals the world-forming aspect of each individual symbolic unit alongside one another, that are then ‘drawn into an interactive network based on the principle of co-isolation’ (ibid:56). The foam metaphor attempts to explain the production of social systems without relying on border-policing or social essentialism.

Throughout Spheres Volume 3: Foams, Sloterdijk wishes to challenge the contractualist (interchangeable with the more common “contractarian”) paradigm, which presupposes a social field comprised of self-interested individuals that organise themselves in a rational process of compromises to secure the formalisation and protection of their pre-existing interests in exchange for a series of duties and obligations to the newly constituted institution. Although contemporary theorists of political obligation often touch on the inherent solidarity involved in human activity (for example, the work of Margaret Gilbert), there is a statist bias to proceedings. The literature is more interested in explaining why the current liberal-democratic settlement is viable, permissible, and legitimately enforceable than it is in the actual historical instantiation of the state and the processes of collective organisation it may be actively impinging upon. If individuals are considered self-interested, ‘social synthesis’ can be explained in dispassionate terms as contractual coordination, without need to allege any ‘mysterious solidarities, deep pre-contractual connections or pre-rational depths of community’. (ibid: 255) As Sloterdijk quips, ‘can I claim to have signed a contract of kinship with my parents and siblings?’ (ibid: 256).

The moment we abandon the contractualist approach and accept that humans have social ties that predate the constitution of political institutions, one must ask in ‘what larger shared structure those coexisting with one another are “contained”, and what nexus actually binds them together’ (ibid: 257) and thus consider the possibility of cohesive forces of pervasive shaping power existing prior to the intervention of the original violence of the constituting state. Although Sloterdijk’s aims are politically conservative (if eccentric), Iwona Janicka (2016) has noted that the foam metaphor complements anarchist theory insofar as it implies a comprehensive solidarity that may plausibly render the state unnecessary under favourable conditions.

In the contractualist model, all those co-existing human beings “lack” for something (usually security) only accessible once they are transformed into “citizens” through the apocryphal manoeuvre from the “state of nature” to “civil society”—an action which ‘none will ever be able to say where, when and in what medium it occurred, and how it could be grounded…no archivist has yet succeeded in finding the cabinet in which the social contract is stored.’ (2016: 268). For Sloterdijk, it is ‘the exquisite nowhere’ in which any social contract is supposedly enacted that deflects away from the material fact of the ‘situate constitution of coexistence and its self-willed spatial dynamics.’ (ibid).

In my view, the novel appeal of Sloterdijk’s “society as foam” is both its implicit and explicit challenge to the norms of political theory. Aside from the explicit denunciation of the contractarian history of political philosophy—epitomised in the work of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau—Sloterdijk’s project invites a more spatialised analysis of human activity and political constitution. Instead of focusing on the ways in which we are separate and consider politics as the means by which we are artificially brought together, perhaps political theory ought to focus on those obstacles to sociality that are artificially keeping us apart.

Works Cited:
Iwona Janicka, (2016) “Are these Bubbles Anarchist? Peter Sloterdijk’s Spherology and the Question of Anarchism”, Anarchist Studies, 24:1 (pp.62-84).

Peter Sloterdijk (2016) Spheres, Vol. 3: Foams. South Pasadena, CA: Semiotexte, MIT Press.

5 Byung-Chul Han Book Intro's & A Review of Peter Sloterdijk's "Stress and Freedom"

Anthony Mastromatteo, "Art and Fear: On Peter Sloterdijk's "Stress and Freedom," Coronavirus, and the Media's Production of Panic"
Last week, I opened the link to my subscription to the NY Times online to the headline of the rising panic across countries and financial markets at the viral progress of the latest manifestation of coronavirus. The headline made my mind jump to an amazing short book that I found almost a year ago by one of my favorite thinkers, Peter Sloterdijk. The title: Stress and Freedom. In it Sloterdijk argues the following:
"We therefore have every reason to prepare ourselves for some rethinking about that real-life fabulous creature 'society.' Social theory is now only plausible as a theory of improbably large-scale bodies or, if one prefers, as a social physics of networked agencies. The theory of large-scale bodies is a composite of stress theory, media theory, credit theory, organization theory and network theory. In the present context, I intend to draw particular attention to the outstanding significance of a stress concept. In my view, the large-scale political bodies we call societies should be understood primarily as stress-integrated force fields, or more precisely as self-stressing care systems constantly hurtling ahead. These only endure to the extent that they succeed in maintaining their specific tonicity of restlessness throughout the changes of daily and annual issues. From this perspective, a nation is a collective that succeeds in jointly keeping uncalm."
The political and cultural bodies under the guidance of the few and the elite control incalculably large masses through the maintenance of constant stress on that mass. The constancy is achieved through a micro and macro level approach to stress inducement. Stress is refreshed at all levels by the constant introduction of new inducements to discontent. Using the proliferation of media and information stress moves at micro and macro levels. Each person lives in macro level stress…coronavirus replaced fires in Australia which replaced fires in the Amazon all of which is going on simultaneously with the madness of current political climates nationally and globally. In the background (for us…and in the foreground for others) is the unending violence of "necessary" interventions. And so on and so on and so on. At the micro level and concurrent with the macro level, panic is the circumstance of each person embedded in the circumstance of each family in regards to economics, education, health (and so on). Even pleasure becomes a source of stress.

And all of these issues, at both the micro level and the macro level are of infinite significance. They are all important. Vital. Worthy of profound attention. And because of this profound importance, naturally and understandably the nexus for a stress experience.

Sloterdijk argues in the book that the stress experience has now become a mechanism of control and manipulation of populations that are otherwise incontrollable. The manipulation of these stress bubbles and the inducement to constant and distracted panic is a grave threat to freedom. What is the mechanism to maintaining psychological freedom in both a manipulated and a legitimate setting of uncertainty and stress. The answer rests in a concept that he introduces at the beginning of the book: thaumazein (θαυμάζειν), the Greek concept of the "astonished pause for reflection before an unheard-of object." Running along a parallel track to the very real existential experience of uncertainty and the accompanying dread, there needs to be a track wherein the mind can pause…can step outside of itself. Or, better yet, can be forcefully pulled outside itself in a way that gives it pause…that arrests it…that allows it to rest and reflect. Art is one such mechanism. Art puts before the mind an object that induces wonder and desire…that arrests the mind from its normal function…bathes it in perspective unknown to its own perspective. And in this experience there is rest and reflection and relief. It is not that art applies the salve that cures coronavirus. It is not that art lowers temperatures around the world or bails encroaching seawater from island shores. It is not that art throws water on burning expanses of rain forest. It does none of these. But what art does for all (at least potentially, as do other mechanisms of reflection) is remove the mind, in the moment, from constant panic and, as a state of being, from the control that panic can create by teaching it of the experience of a psychological space it once tasted outside the state of fear. And once tasted, one has the echo of that taste in one's being. One knows existentially that there are other mental states beyond fear and trembling.

And once one knows that there is more to experience than fear, one can potentially be free. One can think with a certain amount of clarity. One has the potential of not being controlled.

Art is a tool of and for provoking wonder and, therefore, freedom. This being so, it is a necessary tool in the human experience. Then, and only then, can these very real problems be properly addressed.

Partial English Transcript (~21 minutes) of above video:

Ladies and gentlemen, ministers, excellencies, eminences. Ladies and gentlemen. A remark attributed to the Greek philosopher Epicurus which I like to quote at the beginning of lectures. He says, "Whoever speaks to people should remember that a short speech and a long speech amount to the same thing." In my meditation on the meaning of this phrase, I came to the conclusion that I should therefore prefer the long speech today.

I talk about "Stress and Freedom" in five steps: First, about Political Bodies as Stress Communes, then talk about Lucretia's Revolt and Rousseau's Retreat afterwards, about Stress and Freedom, afterwards about The Reaction of the Real and finally, On The Source of Committed Freedom.

1. Large-Scale Political Bodies as Stress Communes

It is a time-honoured commonplace that philosophy and science originated from wonder. Thus Plato has his Socrates that the one and only origin of philosophy is a sense of wonder or amazement. Aristotle responds to this by claiming in an eminent passage: "For it was because of wonder that men both now and originally began to philosophise." I admit that there has always been something slightly suspicious to me about these sonorous lines. Despite dealing with philosophical and academic literature for almost fifty years and becoming acquainted with a substantial number of authors in various fields of knowledge—be it as a reader or through personal encounters—I have never met anyone, perhaps with one exception, of whom one could seriously claim that the origin of their intellectual activities had been a sense of wonder. On the contrary, it seems as though organised scholarship and institutionalised philosophy has assumed the form of a campaign against amazement. The knowing personnel, the actors in the campaign, have long hidden behind the mask of unimpressability—this has occasionally been termed "resistance to astonishment". On the whole, the current culture of knowledge has entirely appropriated the stance of the Stoics' nihil admirari: though ancient wisdom teaching impressed upon its adepts the rule of no longer being amazed by anything, the maxim only reached its goal in modern times.

In the seventeenth century, Descartes characterised entonnement as a thoroughly negative affectation of the mind, a highly unpleasant and unwelcome confusion to be overcome through intellectual effort. The development of our cultures of rationality agreed with its co-founder on this point. If there is still any traces in our time of that supposedly original thaumazein, the astonished pause for reflection before an unheard-of-object, one can be sure that it is attributable to an outside voice or the words of a layperson; the experts shrug and return to business as usual.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the social sciences. According to their own internal standards they can be described as a resolutely wonder-free zone. If one gives it some thought, this is a bizarre finding; for if there is anything that could unconditionally demand the amazement of laypersons and the astonishment of scholars, it is the existence of those large political bodies that were formerly known as "peoples" and are now, thanks to a questionable semantic convention, termed "societies". Usually the word calls to mind large or very large political entities with a demographic volume of between several million and over a billion members. Nothing should be more amazing than the ability of these ensembles of millions an billions of humans to exist in their national-cultural shells with their manifold internal divisions. We should be astonished by these standing armies of political groups which—one does not know how— succeed time and time again in convincing their members that their shared situation and history tied their destinies to one another as shareholders and thus legal comrades and participants in local surviving projects.

The astonishing nature of these objects crosses the boundary to the inconceivable as soon as we consider that more than a few of the large-scale political bodies in recent history —since the beginnings of the liberal Western cultures in the seventeenth century, shall we say— are formed by populations with growing individualistic tendencies. What I mean here by individualism is the life form that loosens the embeddedness of individuals in collectives, and questions the seemingly immemorial absolutism of the shared by assigning to every single human the dignity of being absolutely sui generis. Nothing is more amazing than the survival of civilisations whose members predominantly hold the conviction that their own existence is one dimension realer than everything surrounding them on the side of the collective.

In the following, I would like to carry out—against the mainstream current of non-wondering political science and sociology— an exercise in amazement that will be concerned with doing slightly more justice to the unfathomably astonishing nature of contemporary life forms.

A civilisation such as ours, which rests on the integration of individualistic populations in gigantic large-scale political bodies, is an actually existing maximum improbability. We consign the existence of unicorns to the realm of fables, but accept the notion of an actually existing million-headed fantasy creature "society" as if it were a self-evident reality. It is, however, understood that the stability of these great constructs is not guaranteed. The shareholders themselves increasingly view the tenability of their current life forms as problematic. Were this not the case, the elites in the social subsystems would not have been for some time incessantly discussing the sustainability of their modus vivendi.

The word "sustainability" is undoubtedly the central semantic symptom of the current cultural crisis: it crops up everywhere in the speeches of the responsible parties like a neurotic tic pointing to unresolved tensions in their drive systems. It is a reaction to an unease that undermines our existence in a technological civilisation with an increasingly feeling of untenability. This feeling is inseparable from the realisation that our "society" —to use the dubious term without any further interrogation— is now finding itself in a struggle for self-preservation that will demand unusual achievements of us. We therefore have every reason to prepare ourselves for some rethinking about that real-life fabulous creature "society".

Social theory is now only plausible as a theory of improbably large-scale bodies or, if one prefers, as a social physics of networked agencies. The theory of large-scale bodies is a composite of stress theory, media theory, credit theory, organisation theory and network theory. In the present context, I intend to draw particular attention to the outstanding significance of a stress concept.

In my view, the large-scale political bodies we call societies should be understood primarily as stress-integrated force fields; more precisely, as self-stressing care systems constantly hurtling ahead. These only endure to the extent that they succeed in maintaining their specific tonicity of restlessness throughout the changes of daily and annual issues.

From this perspective, a nation is a collective that succeeds in jointly keeping uncalm. Within it, a constant, varyingly intense flow of stress topics must ensure the synchronisation of consciousness in order to integrate the respective population into a community of concern and excitation that regenerates day to day. That is why modern information media are simply indispensable for the creation of coherence in national and continental stress communes. They alone are capable of binding together the diverging collectives with counter-tensions using a constant flow of irritant topics.

The function of media in stress-integrated multi-milieu society lies in evoking and provoking the collectives as such by making new excitation suggestions to them on a daily and hourly basis [*Applause by audience*] —suggestions of outrage, envy or presumption, a wealth of offers directed at the sentimentality, willingness for fear [Angst] and indiscretion of the shareholders. Every day, the recipients choose from these.

The nation is a daily plebiscite—but about the priority of concerns, not about constitution. By selecting the best possibilities for synchronous excitations, the large-scale groups vibrating in constant nervousness reproduce the ether of commonality without which social cohesion —or even the mere semblance thereof—cannot arise in extensive territorial states. Certainly, every social system needs a foundation of institutions, organisations and transport means; it must ensure the exchange of goods and services. The maintenance of the feeling of social cohesion among the shareholders, however, can only follow through chronic, symbolically produced stress.

The larger the collective, the stronger the stress forces need to be that counteract the disintegration of the uncollectible collective into a patchwork of introverted clans and enclaves. As long as a collective can work itself up into a rage over the notion of doing away with itself, it has passed its vitality test. *audience applause and lols* It does what healthy collective do best, namely getting worked up; and in doing so, it proves what it wants to prove: that it reaches its optimum under stress. Here the question of whether the collective is monoculturally unified or multiculturally constituted has long ceased to be a significant factor.

I now speak about "Lucretia's Revolt and Rousseau's Retreat".

2. Lucretia's Revolt, Rousseau's Retreat

It is in the nature of the matter that when thinking about social synthesis through group stress, one will come up against the problem of freedom sooner or later. In the following, the concept of freedom will be addressed first of all in its ancient meaning, which should by no means be confused with modern interpretations of the word.

I will begin by calling to mind a primal scene from the Old European political tradition that demonstrates the original connection between stress and freedom with archetypal clarity. After that, I will introduce a contrasting modern scene that presents the same connection in an entirely different light.

Titus Livius (Livy), in the first book of "Ab urbe condita," recounts how it came to pass that the Romans one day shook off the yoke of Etruscan-Tarquinian rule and founded the res publica, which, together with certain borrowings from Classical Greek urban culture, supplies the historical model for solidarity civil societies to this day.

The scene took place around 509 BC. A small Roman-Etruscan army is besieging the city of Ardea, some thirty-five kilometres south of Rome. One evening, officers gather in a tenet and do what men afield cannot help doing: they speak about women, specifically their own wives, with eager sideways glances at one another. Collantinus stands out for his endless effusion about the beauty and virtue of his wife Lucretia. The other officers are more inclined to take the primal Etruscan view that La donna è mobile.

The group decides to leave for Rome in order to observe the behaviour of the matrons in the absence of their husbands. And indeed: they find their wives engaged in rather un-lady like amusements, while Lucretia alone is sitting among her handmaidens spinning flax. She wins the prize of virtue, but also that of desirability.

Sextus Tarquinius, already introduced this tasteless method by the Romans via the rescue garden, that the fathers simply counted their children in the order of birth. That was not why we meet almost all names from a Secundus the silent to a Decimus Junius Silanus. Sextus Tarquinius, a son of the tyrant Tarquin the Proud, immediately decides to take possession of the woman —undoubtedly spurred on by Collantinus's hymns of praise, and possibly inflamed by the provocative thought that a subordinate colleague, albeit from a noble house, should be better off erotically than he himself, a son of the royal family. The young woman's attractive appearance takes care of the rest. He gains entry to Lucretia's house and forces her to commit sexual acts, threatening that he will otherwise kill her, place a stabbed slave next to her and claim that he caught the two committing adultery. Once Sextus has left, Lucretia calls for her husband and her father to tell them what happened, makes them solemnly swear to avenger her, and kills herself with a dagger in order to remove her shame.

The rest belongs to the founding myth of the life form we call res publica. The news of the incident spreads through the city like wildfire, and a consensus reached with much pathos unites the assembly, which sees itself for the first time as a free and civil one. The hated system of royal rule is overturned and the tyrants are driven out; never again will a single arrogant man be at the head of the Roman body politic.

Let me highlight the point of this story in the context of these reflections: the account deals with no less than the birth of republican freedom from collective outrage. That sentiment transforms all those involved into an aggressive stress group [which in turn becomes a political commune]. The first great political affect with liberal and republican tendencies found its central issue in the rejection of a shameful act. When political freedom reached European soil, it did so in an outburst of rage shared by thousands. (The arrogance of power often manifests itself not only in the tyrants themselves, but also among the sons born into the same presumption— in antiquity as today, whether the noxious paternal role models were Tarquin the Proud of Muammar Gaddafi.)

The anti-monarchic affect that was a stable feature in the political psychology of the Romans from this primal scene us not surprising: the mere mention of the word "king" triggers the most intense aversions among the members of the stalwart patrician republic. Consequently, even the later Caesars had to avoid the title rex and conceal their autocracy behind the constant references to the authority of the senate and the Roman people.

A glance towards Greece shows how there too, it was an anti-tyrannical front that first established an awareness of freedom. What the Greeks called eleutheria —a word that is conventionally translated as "freedom", evoking numerous misunderstandings— initially meant no more than the longing to live in autochthonous (self-growing) fashion (following the patrioi nomoi, the laws of the fathers) among their own people and not being subject to the despotic (house-masterly) wilfulness of an individual who had become outsized —especially to the rule of the Persian Great Kings. *coughs* In this sense, the battles of Marathon, Salamis and Platea were freedom wars.

From a freedom-historical perspective, the Lucretia revolt and the victories of the Greeks are connected. Neither case should be associated with "freedom movements" in the modern sense. The Romans and the Greeks were equally uninterested in human rights and freedom of opinion —although the Greek praise of verbal candour between men, parrhesia, which literally means "saying everything", was an early shadowing of what would later be enshrined in law as freedom of expression.

But the Greek verbal courage is far more an aspect of the atonal cult and an extension of the athletic will to compete that has been transferred to the sphere of speech about truth than a political right or civil virtue. The subject of ancient freedom is the people —more precisely, the complex of demos and ethos that forms a polis.

To give the matter the appropriate emphasis, one should say that freedom here is nothing other than the right of a collective to ethnic self-closure. It refers to the prerogative of being guided by nothing but habits, customs and institutions that have shaped the members of the collective since youth. Thus freedom here means the spontaneous consent of an ethnic group to the beloved despotism of their traditions.

This formulation indicates the inner boundary of the ancient or ethnic understanding of freedom. For it freedom only means the option for the undisturbed possession of a collective by their own conventions, it is clear why such a view cannot persist once individuals appear who questions the commanding power of custom, indeed the "morality of custom" itself. (a phrase attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche in his Daybreak 1997, p. 10.). Peoples may view themselves as sovereign in the legal sense, and indeed they mostly do in post-imperial times. In the civilisation-theoretical sense, however, they are incapable of sovereignty because the ethnic element as such results in a narrow-minded insistence on the conventional. When a reflective individual appears on the scene, breaking away from the dominion of collective customs and making itself subject to a higher law —be it Nature, a faith illuminated by a holy text, or the individual law of the search for happiness— research into the meaning of freedom is set in motion. *Sloterdijk receives glass of water*

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Say Hello to my Little Friend...

...but you'll probably need a gravitational lens to see it, though.

Ash Wednesday

Šimo ŠOKČEVIĆ and Tihomir ŽIVIĆ, "Byung-Chul Han and Josef Pieper on Festivity: An Attempt to Rehabilitate the Culture of Festivity in the Time of Mere Survival"
When we say that the cult festivities are the real and veritable ones, we do not think that certain secular festivities may not also exist. They may, but not completely, for Pieper says that "a festival without gods is a non‐concept, is inconceivable." In that context, Pieper takes the festivity of carnival as an example. A carnival makes sense, namely, if there is Ash Wednesday. If we eliminated Ash Wednesday, we would also eliminate the carnival. Since there is no veritable festivity that would not make a living from a divine worship (as there is no festivity without gods), people are increasingly less aware of that connection, and therefore they elude it with various forms of virtual and ephemeral "festivities," the so‐called "events." (ie - The Superb Owl)

Monday, February 12, 2024

The Nature and Politics of Envy...

Slavoj Žižek, "Abstinence: Egalitarian Justice is Based on Envy" (Google translated from Turkish)
Nietzsche and Freud agreed: Egalitarian justice is based on envy ; It is based on the envy of the Other who has and enjoys what we do not have. After all, the demand for justice is the demand for the restriction of the Other's excessive arbitrariness and for everyone to have equal access to arbitrariness. The necessary consequence of this demand is abstinence (asceticism). Since it is not possible to impose equal conditions on everyone, equal sharing of prohibitions is imposed instead . However, in today's permissive society, this abstinence disguises itself as its opposite: 'Enjoy it!' turns into a generalized Superego imperative. We are all under the influence of this commandment. For this reason, our quality is hindered more than ever.

Consider the yuppie who combines narcissistic 'self-satisfaction' with dieting disciplines such as jogging and healthy eating. Perhaps what Nietzsche called the Last Man was such a person, and this concept could finally become clear in the hedonistic abstinence of today's yuppies. Nietzsche did not simply assert his will against abstinence: he recognized that on the other side of corrupt emotionalism there was a certain abstinence. This is evident in his critique of Wagner's Parsifal , the late-Romantic decadence that oscillates between tearful sentimentalism and vague spiritualism (see Zupančič, The Shortest Shadow ).

So what is envy? Let's go back to the scene Augustin mentioned: The baby is envious of his sibling sucking the mother's breast. The subject does not directly envy the Other's possession of the precious object, but rather the Other's ability to enjoy the object , so stealing from him and possessing the object will not alleviate his envy. Its main purpose is to destroy the Other's ability to enjoy the object. Accordingly, envy belongs to a trilogy: Envy, stinginess and melancholy, which are three ways of not being able to enjoy the object, are also three ways of reflexively enjoying this impossibility.

Unlike the subject who is envious of the other's enjoyment of the object he owns, the stingy subject owns the object but cannot enjoy it or consume it (the old man in the Sting music video leading this thread). The only thing that satisfies him is not turning the object he owns into a sacred/untouchable/forbidden entity that will never be consumed. An example of stinginess is someone who returns home alone, locks the doors, then opens his chest, secretly looks at his precious object and watches it with admiration. The element that prevents the object from being consumed is also the assurance of its status as the object of desire. The melancholic subject (the young woman in the Sting music video) has the object, just like the stingy subject, but has lost the reasons that make the object desirable. The most tragic member of this trio, the melancholic, can freely access everything he wants, but cannot get satisfaction from them [1].

This surplus of envy is the basis of Rousseau's famous, underexploited distinction: on the one hand, there is natural selfishness in the sense of loving oneself ( amour de soi ), on the other hand, there is the perversion of preferring oneself to others ( amour propre ), the latter focusing on destroying obstacles rather than achieving one's own goal. :

All the primitive passions that lead us directly to happiness concern us only with the objects associated with them, their principle is self-love ( amour de soi ), and all are essentially lovable and kind; But when obstacles divert him from his object, he becomes more preoccupied with the obstacle-object he wants to throw away instead of the target-object he wants to reach [the obstacle-object occupies him] and his nature changes and he becomes filled with anger and hatred. Thus, self-love, which is actually a noble and absolute feeling, turns into appropriating love for oneself ( amour propre ), this feeling is relative, it is a comparison of oneself, it demands to be made, its mood consists of negativity and instead of trying to be satisfied with one's own goodness, it is satisfied with the misfortune of others. efforts. ( link )

In other words, an evil person is not a selfish person who only thinks of his own interests. If he were truly selfish, he would be so busy thinking about his own well-being that he would not have time to ruin the fortunes of others. The fundamental flaw of a bad person is precisely that he is more concerned with others than with himself. Rousseau describes a special libidinal mechanism here: the inversion, which shifts the libidinal investment in the object towards the obstacle. This logic is directly applicable to fundamentalist violence: pure hatred was displayed in both the Oklahoma City bombing and the Twin Towers attack, where the real concern was to destroy the obstacle (destroying the Oklahoma City Federal Building or the World Trade Center), not to achieve the lofty aspirations of a truly Christian or Muslim society (see Jean- Pierre Dupuy, Petite metaphysique des tsunamis ).

This is why egalitarianism should never be taken for granted: to the extent that the concept (and practice) of egalitarian justice is motivated by envy, it is based on an inversion of the standard renunciation made to benefit others: 'I will relinquish it, as long as others (too) have it. ) SIN! ' In this sense, evil is not at all opposed to the sacrificial spirit, on the contrary, it is the sacrificial spirit itself; man can neglect his own well-being, as long as, through that sacrifice, he deprives the Other of his arbitrariness...


[1] Can a person be envious of himself instead of someone else? For some subjects who cannot stand their own happiness or fortune and who stubbornly undermine themselves, it can be said in vulgar Freudian terms that the Superego is envious of the Ego's success. Lacan's distinction between the 'subject of utterance' (the subject representing himself by saying 'I' in his speech) and the 'subject of utterance' (the 'I' himself who speaks) reaches its extreme in them: The subject settles into the position of his own Other and becomes envious of himself.

From the book "violence"

Turkish: Işık Barış Fidaner

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 

 - 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV)

Taken straight from the Bible, Sting discusses the appeal of Biblical stories, and this story in particular, saying: "These stories of murder and obsessive, jealous love appeal to me for some reason". The imagery of this song is particularly vivid, with the structure of the poetry and the repeated verses echoing the chiasmic structure of the Bible. It also brings a particularly human element to the story. David and Bathsheba is one of the most famous "love stories" in the Bible, but the actual language is extraordinarily dry and passionless. Why would the king commit such a terrible crime? "And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent [it] by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die" (2 Samuel 11:14-15). Sting gives us a glimpse inside the heart of what made this most favored son of God fall. "But every step I thought of you, every footstep only you. And every star a grain of sand, the leavings of a dried-up ocean. Tell me how much longer? How much longer?"

Waiting for Zarathustra

Secular Flatheads?

The name given to the supporters of the Parliament of England during the English Civil War. Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against Charles I of England and his supporters, the Cavaliers or Royalists, who claimed rule by absolute monarchy and the divine right of kings. Their goal was to give the Parliament supreme control over executive administration.

Oliver Cromwell was relatively obscure for the first forty years of his life. He was an intensely religious man (an Independent Puritan) who entered the English Civil War on the side of the “Roundheads,” or Parliamentarians. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” he was quickly promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to being one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army, playing an important role in the defeat of the royalist forces. Cromwell was one of the signatories of King Charles I’s death warrant in 1649, and he dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England as a member of the Rump Parliament (1649–1653). He was selected to take command of the English campaign in Ireland in 1649–1650. His forces defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country, bringing an end to the Irish Confederate Wars. During this period, a series of Penal Laws were passed against Roman Catholics (a significant minority in England and Scotland but the vast majority in Ireland), and a substantial amount of their land was confiscated. Cromwell also led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650 and 1651.

In April 1653, he dismissed the Rump Parliament by force, setting up a short-lived nominated assembly known as Barebone’s Parliament, before being invited by his fellow leaders to rule as Lord Protector of England (which included Wales at the time), Scotland, and Ireland from December 1653. As a ruler, he executed an aggressive and effective foreign policy. He died from natural causes in 1658 and the Royalists returned to power in 1660, and they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Dragon's Gaze: Drones, the Poor Man's Dragons

The Castles (& Fleets) Are No Longer Safe or Defensible

Dropping the Dragon-Stone

“That the queen could see Gyges in the bedroom indicates that she possessed not only a power to make things invisible but also a corresponding power (as invisible spy) to make visible to herself things that were invisible to other people. Ptolemaeus Chennus writes that the eyes of "the wife of Candaules". . . had double pupils, and she was extremely sharp sighted, being the possessor of the dragon-stone. This is how she came to see Gyges as he passed through the door.” The dragon-stone has an opposite effect from the magic ring. In one case the talisman makes people invisible; in the other case, it makes people visible: taken together, their power makes things visible or invisible. This is the power of Platonic Gyges. It is also the power of the archetypal tyrant.”

Theodore Chasseriau, “Candaule, King of Lydia, Showing the Beauty of his Queen to his Confidant Gyges" (1850)

Drones - the West's response to the "poor man's atomic bomb".  It's why Iran is a world leader in drone production.

I wonder why Iran's drone production numbers are so hush-hush?   Na-a-a-a-a-h!
Enter the Dragon Slayer:  The Drone Killer

So, DragonMasters,  Just How RADHard are YOUR drones?