Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Narnia

Quick ‘n’ Dirty Sunday Links

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* I was asked by Marquette Today to provide an uplifting list of quarantine movies to watch instead of Contagion. It was counter to my instincts, but I did my best!

Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower: The Concert Version Online.

* Four types of fear.

At the same time, we can already feel it piercing a hole in our daily lives, and we can see and feel our hopes, our professions, our homes, our ways of life leaking out into an inky darkness. We can already experience the ways it has decimated the meager funds we held, and savaged the safety nets even the luckiest among us had managed to weave. We can feel the future and our sense of normalcy and our grand plans withering and bleaching under the heat of this new sun. And while we are trying to adapt and survive both of these, the virus is already creeping closer and closer to those we love. Like a crowd watching a wave slowly roll in toward the shore, we can monitor its slow and implacable progress. The wave is rolling in. Some of us will flee; others of us will be drenched. But the biggest fear of all is that some of us, whose names and hearts and faces we have known so well, will almost certainly drown.

* Mike Davis: The Monster Enters.

Coronavirus Testing Needs to Triple Before the U.S. Can Reopen, Experts Say. Researchers warn the COVID-19 lockdown will take its own toll on health. Patients in pain, dentists in distress: In a pandemic, the problem with teeth. Coronavirus and depression. Don’t bet on vaccine to protect us from Covid-19, says world health expert. The rightwing groups behind wave of protests against Covid-19 restrictions. Trump Encourages Protest Against Governors Who Have Imposed Virus Restrictions. Floridians Pack Beaches as Coronavirus Cases Continue to Increase. Heartland hotspots: A sudden rise in coronavirus cases is hitting rural states without stay-at-home orders. Life in Wuhan isn’t back to normal. For The Rich, A Dilemma: Quarantine With Staff, or Do Their Own Chores. Trump Calls For Reopening America’s Gyms Day After Call With SoulCycle’s Owner. Essential Jobs, Disposable Workers. In some areas of the US, Covid-19 is killing Latinos at up to three times the rate that it is killing white people, even as they are among the least able to access care. Due to COVID-19. It’s not just mortality. How experts see the future after coronavirus. “It’ll all be over by Christmas.”

Approximately 9,200,000 workers in the US have likely lost their employer-provided health care coverage in the past 4 weeks, an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute concludes. The Trump Administration Is Writing a Death Sentence for America’s Most Important Restaurants. Straggling in a Good Economy, and Now Struggling in a Crisis. 5 lessons from World War II for the coronavirus response.

* In terms of crisis governance, the United States is not a country with a central bank. It is a central bank with a country. Today in kleptocracy.

* COVID cases were trending down in Wisconsin when the state went forward with its in-person election April 7. Now they’re trending back up — which was the certain result of holding the election.

* Coronavirus could complicate Trump’s path to reelection. You think?

* This article suggests there is no practical way to contain a coronavirus outbreak if schools resume in-person instruction this fall.

The Coronavirus Has Emptied Dorms and Dining Halls. Here’s Why Refunds for Them Are a Tricky Calculation.

* Michael Denning: Impeachment as Social Form.

* Please don’t stan Cuomo: How Delays and Unheeded Warnings Hindered New York’s Virus Fight.

* The WSJ dives deep into the wild plan to bring baseball back.

Here’s What You Do With Two-Thirds of the World’s Jets When They Can’t Fly.

* Empathy riot.

* Folks…

* This Chart Will Tell You What Kind Of Space-Based Sci-Fi You’re About To Watch Just By Looking At The Main Ship.

Is the first person who will live to 150 alive today?

* Buttigieg political alignment chart.

There’s an Eighth Chronicle of Narnia, and Now Is the Perfect Time to Read It.

Wednesday Is Now Trumpnesday, All Hail Trump

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* CFP: 42nd Meeting of the Society for Utopian Studies, Memphis, TN.

* Fascism happens fast: First look at Biff to the Future, the alt-history comic chronicling the BTTF universe.

* Trump and disaster capitalism.

* The Trump Story Project.

Dissenting from Within the Trump Administration.

Delusional Democrats Yearning to Prove They Can Work With Trump. From Jonathan Chait, no less!

Overshadowed by headlines about chaos and infighting, the new administration is notching a string of early victories.

* “The White House is deploying a network of advisers to the top of federal agencies as a direct line to stay on top of Cabinet officials.” “U.S. Government Agencies Go Silent, May Have Been Swallowed By Black Hole.” “Trump Health Care Plan Would Take Medicaid Coverage Away from Up to 31 Million People.” “Trump Aides Can’t Stop Blabbing about How He’s a Madman.” “Donald Trump’s stock in oil pipeline company raises concern.” Oh, no, not concern! “American Carnage.” “The Resistance.” Nailing it.

* Poor guy.

The bad press over the weekend has not allowed Trump to “enjoy” the White House as he feels he deserves, according to one person who has spoken with him.

* Almost certainly our next president, ladies and gentleman.

Beyond the Usual Suspects: Saturday’s marches were successful because they rallied millions, not just a small core of activists.

* Within minutes of each other: Trump Revives Keystone Pipeline. Canada oil pipeline spills 200,000 liters on aboriginal land.

Bill would end Virginia’s ‘winner take all’ electoral vote system.

* The voter fraud delusion.

* Some details on the shooting at the Milo Yiannopoulos talk at U Washington.

* Science corner! Badlands National Park Twitter account goes rogue, starts tweeting scientific facts. The Science of Sean Spicer’s Compulsive Gum Swallowing Habit. How long would a liberal have to cry to fill a coffee mug with tears? Flint water is fine again, also it was no one’s fault, trust us.

Standpoint theory doesn’t say we can just make shit up; it says we need a clear-eyed understanding of power relations in order to understand and evaluate knowledge-claims. In other words, pomo feminists didn’t create “alt facts”; it’s pomo feminists who have given us the tools to oppose them.

In Discarded Women’s March Signs, Professors Saw a Chance to Save History.

Minnesota bill would make convicted protesters liable for policing costs. N.C. state lawmaker says shouting at current or former gov’t officials should be punishable by 5 years in prison.

* Interesting little story about Dan Harmon’s work on/against an early version of Dr. Strange.

* An interesting piece of fan fiction about something that will never happen again in our lifetimes: a story ending.

* Like someone peeled open my skull and put my inner monologue on the Internet.

* The arc of history is long, but white women are going to prison at a higher rate than ever before.

Wisconsin lawmaker wants Sheriff David Clarke booted from office, immediately.

Further Thoughts on the Problem of Susan.

* The Case Against Unity.

* The View from Trump Tower.

* Whitefish, Montana vs. the Nazis.

This is how American health care kills people.

* Going back to the old days on health insurance, a first draft.

Potential Trump Science Adviser Says 90 Percent of U.S. Colleges Will Disappear. I’m amazed they think a full tenth will escape the Sentinels.

* Arrested Development Season 5 rumors.

Columbia University Releases Report on School’s Ties to Slavery.

The Other Buffett Rule, or, why better billionaires will never save us.

The Web Is a Customer Service Medium.

* ISIS and social media.

* And this truly is the darkest timeline.

Tom the Dancing Bug 1322 view from trump tower 2

Tom the Dancing Bug 1322 view from trump tower 2

Wednesday Night Links

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* The Utopia symposium in the new issue of Science Fiction Film and Television is especially good, if I do say so myself. Featuring Raffaella Baccolini, Troy Bordun, Catherine Constable, L. Timmel Duchamp, Carl Freedman, Lisa Garforth, Dan Hassler-Forest, Veronica Hollinger, Alexis Lothian, Roger Buckhurst, Tom Moylan, Sharon Sharp, Steven Shaviro, Debra Benita Shaw, Rebekah Sheldon, Imre Szeman, Phillip E. Wegner, and Rhys Williams…

Afrofuturism Reloaded: 15 Theses in 15 Minutes.

Fear of an Ill Planet: On the Importance of Sickness and the Demands of Otherness.

* I think maybe every literally academic I know has been talking about this story.

Houstongun

* The Scalia obituaries keep coming: 1, 2, 3.

* Huge cuts to ethnic studies at SFSU.

The Troubled Academic Job Market for History.

* Never in my worst dreams about the future of the university could I have imagined such a thing was possible: Chicago State University Cancels Spring Break.

David Milch, the storied mind also behind ‘Deadwood,’ changed television. Now, according to a lawsuit, the racetrack regular has lost his homes, owes the IRS $17 million and is on a $40-a-week allowance. Still, his supporters stay close: “He’s brilliant.”

* Yay, Bernie Sanders’s radical past. Booooooo, Bernie Sanders’s radical past. In any event.

* Drip, drip, drip…

Hillary Clinton Made More in 12 Speeches to Big Banks Than Most of Us Earn in a Lifetime.

* “There no longer are any rules in the Supreme Court nomination process.” I’ll do you one better!

* Usually this sort of mythologizing isn’t caught fast enough to be traced: The Evolution of the Myth of the Sanders “English Only” Chant.

* Social media, the new mind control.

* Polls and Trump’s Supporters. My word.

* Elsewhere in dystopian backstory: The Virginia Senate has passed legislation that would transform all law enforcement agencies in the commonwealth into secret police, quite literally, a dangerous step in the direction of unaccountable and non-transparent government. No other state has gone as far as the Senate bill would take Virginia into the realm of secrecy where it concerns state and local police.

When the Public Defender Says, ‘I Can’t Help.’

* Nobody, but nobody, can trip over their own feet like Obama.

* The Huntington Tumblr has a few pictures up from one of Octavia Butler’s horse stories.

* The contested legacy of Stan Lee.

* A People’s History of #CancelColbert.

* Nice work if you can get it: Rutgers president gets a $97,000 bonus.

The Oscars Forgot to Nominate The Force Awakens For Best Picture.

Why Professor Indiana Jones Never Published His Research.

* Ok, sold: Margaret Atwood’s Next Book Is a Prison-Bound Take on The Tempest.

* Well, that doesn’t sound so bad… Seas Are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last 28 Centuries.

Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist.

* On the plus side, we are living through a golden age of theme parks.

Rosemary G. Feal will step down as executive director of the Modern Language Association next year after 15 years in that job, the group announced on Wednesday.

* Fermi Paradox watch: maybe life is that rare.

But mostly Fuller House evokes a smut-free porn parody, with sexualized adult versions of characters who, in the collective psyche, are frozen in amber as children. Elsewhere on the Onion‘s Full House porn parody beat.

“Dogs and Certain Primates May Be Able To See Magnetic Fields.” Tell no one my secret.

* Breastfeeding is probably really not that big a deal.

* Winning the lottery can also bankrupt your neighbors.

* Twilight of saying “Aycock” at Duke and UNCG.

* KSR coverage in American Literature: “Forms of Duration: Preparedness, theMars Trilogy, and the Management of Climate Change.”

Why Is Inver Hills Banning Union Activist From Campus?

The Problematic, Sexist Subtext of Laughing at Hitler’s Alleged Micropenis.

* Debt and subjectivity.

* Lev Grossman on Narnia and grief.

* The best news I’ve gotten all year: Milwaukee’s Air and Water Show postponed until 2017.

* 888-NEED-SCI.

* Blade Runner 2 is an abomination that should never have been made, but I am interested to see how they deal (or don’t) with the Deckard/replicant issue.

* Like Uber, but for…

* And Philip K. Dick is just straight-up writing our reality now.

Notes Towards a Miss Reading of Kimmy Schmidt

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Seeing this review of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt at the Los Angeles Review of Books has inspired me to finally write up some somewhat idiosyncratic thoughts I’ve had about the series that I haven’t seen reflected anywhere else. (And thanks to the people who have indulged me about this on Twitter, especially @millicentsomer and @evankindley.) I definitely agree with the reviewer that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a “woman out of time” story, but I really think the interpretive emphasis on “Unfrozen Middle Schooler from the 1990s” should be on “middle schooler” rather than “from the 1990s.” My take is that the 1990s nostalgia is largely driven by the Millennial audience the show is pitching itself at — it’s an engine for jokes but not really the center of the project. “Unfrozen Middle Schooler,” in contrast, is the actual heart of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, at least the way I want to read it as a feminist work.

One of the things I talked about with Lili and Evan on Twitter was whether Kimmy’s abduction is taken seriously as an event or if the bunker is taken seriously as an actual lived environment. Having completed the series now, I still don’t think so: I think “the bunker” essentially functions in the series like being in a coma, or being shot with a Grow-Up Beam, or making a wish to be Big. It’s a magic spell to get Kimmy from middle school to adulthood without having to go through high school and college, which is the source of her power in the series, from her refusal of the usual rules of society to her love of backpacks and bright, mismatched clothing. You can see this utopian imaginary working really clearly in the incredibly infectious theme song, where the removal of the girls from the bunker and a closeup on Kimmy’s ecstatic childlike grin over the lyrics “Unbreakable! They alive, damnit! It’s a miracle!” quickly gives way to a montage of nostalgic, home-video-style images of childhood (and specifically girlhood), which express the same unvarnished joy but also absolute self-confidence (thumb’s up), total mastery of their environment (the dancing, the hula hooping, the monkey bars), and maximum resilience in the face of adversity (the baby plopping down face first).

We return to the in-universe “autotune the news” frame only once during this thirty-second sequence, to be told that “females are strong as hell” — the clear implication to me being that we ought to draw an interpretive connection between the claim of female power and childhood, specifically, girlhood: before sex, before even puberty, before the male gaze, before pervert teachers and abusive boyfriends and quasi-consensual sexual encounters and ubiquitous street harassment and the too-familiar host of other abuses inflicted upon women from the moment they enter young adulthood. What the magic spell of the bunker allows Kimmy to do is pass over the moment in which girls are forcibly conscripted into becoming “women” (somewhat or entirely against their will) and emerge instead as an adult who has not internalized our society’s misogyny or its mean, psychosexual aggressivity. So much of what is delightful about Kimmy is precisely the fact that she has retained the aspirations, expectations, confidence, and general affect of a precocious middle-schooler without having had to temper or diminish herself through unhappy experiences with patriarchy. If the show has a moral or utopian message for women, it’s Let’s all go back to thinking about ourselves the way we did before society told us we were worthless, and it’s a pretty damn good one.

We’ve been working with children’s stories a lot in my “magic as literature” course this semester, and one of the oppositions we’ve really been focusing on (especially as we’ve studied Disney, and Frozen, recently) is the opposition between what mythographers call “the girl’s tragedy” and what we’ve been calling instead the utopia of childhood or (here more directly) the utopia of girlhood. The girl’s tragedy is the female answer to “the hero’s journey,” but the narrative doesn’t work the same way: instead of the boy hero who sets out from home, masters the outside world, slays the dragon, and then returns home to become king, the girl’s tragedy is a story about being ripped from safety and forced to accommodate oneself to the whims of adult men, particularly their sexual urges. The happy ending for the girl’s tragedy — the happiest one available — is that she accepts her role as wife and mother and gives birth to a male son who will then inaugurate the next cycle of heroism; girls and women who refuse to play the proper role are typically cast out of the realm of the human altogether, turned into animals or plants or stars or foam. The utopia of childhood describes those comparatively rare stories that are exceptions, where the girls are neither forced to become mothers nor punished, but allowed to remain what they were without transformation by instead bending the adult world to their will (as in Brave, or Moonrise Kingdom, or arguably Frozen, though in most of these the girl-heroes seem only to buying themselves time rather than enacting a full and permanent transformation of their circumstances).

Of course the utopia of childhood can itself be deeply retrograde, and is frequently misogynistic in its way — we spent a lot of time on “The Problem of Susan” in the Narnia books precisely so we didn’t fall too in love with the impossible fantasy of never growing up (when in the end we all have to). Nor can we safely imagine childhood in such uncomplicatedly rosy terms, both because childhood can also be a time of fierce frustration, competition, and intense pain even when it is not actively shattered through the cruelty and abuse of adults. But all the same there is something undeniably appealing about the idea of returning to a childhood that is both happy and which never gives way to something else, a desire that structures so much of our culture (particularly the middle-class culture of “good parenting”) that it really almost goes without saying. And in the case of Kimmy Schmidt‘s feminist politics of course the idea is not that women find some fantastical way to literally de-age themselves so much as they look to their younger, effortlessly capable and supremely confident selves as inspiration in the present.

There’s one more thing to say about Kimmy Schmidt, which is again about the abduction and the bunker, which would seem to be a rather large problem for my reading of the series. Isn’t Kimmy’s entire situation itself a literalized girl’s tragedy, insofar as she is abducted as a child and put into radical seclusion, all the while being fed obscenely misogynistic lies by a woman-hating male adult? Well, yes! The question of Kimmy’s abduction, and the horrific sexual violence it inevitably implies if thought about too much, is a pretty thorny one for the series: fixated on too much, it threatens to derail any potential for comedy in the show at all. (UPDATE: Someone just sent me Emily Nussbaum’s review, which talks a lot about this issue.) The series cleverly solves the problem by opening the door just a crack — “yes, there was weird sex stuff in the bunker” — and then simply leaving it there. Something happened — perhaps, as Evan suggested in what has become my headcanon, it was all between the girls and not involving the preacher at all — but it hasn’t changed Kimmy, or defeated her. And she emerges from Hell neither pregnant with the monster’s baby, nor transformed into a weeping plant or into sea-foam, but just as unflappable and unbreakable as she was when she went in.

And in any event the treatment of the bunker doesn’t really work the way the ten-second summary of the setup would suggest. The presence of the preacher is actually a further occasion for Kimmy to refuse to internalize her sexist training, precisely because it is now located within a single, odious man against whom she can fight. The button at the end of the first episode demonstrates precisely this: Kimmy proves he is lying to them, he says he’s going to break her someday, and she replies no, he never will. It’s easy to see why, in contrast to the microaggressions and little indignities — alongside the very big ones — that make up girls’ training to be women in our society, which is constantly delivered by parents and siblings and friends and trusted authority figures and widely celebrated mass culture texts, Kimmy’s more direct training in misogyny at the hands of the Reverend never really takes. In the bunker she had an obvious enemy, someone she could tell she was feeding her poison, and so she could reject it. It’s actually outside the bunker where the true brainwashing takes place, which is all the more insidious because it seems like education, like help, like love.

Thursday Links!

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* Marquette English Spring 2015 courses! I’m teaching a section of 3000 (our new intro to major — mine is themed around magic) and the second round of my NEH “Cultural Preservation” course. I’m also doing a honors seminar on “video game culture” that I’m really excited about, GamerGate notwithstanding.

* A rare spot of optimism: Lockheed announces breakthrough on nuclear fusion energy.

* But don’t hang on to it: It’s time to push the panic button on the global economy. Markets are panicking again. What’s going on?

Sea Level Rising Faster Than Anytime In 6,000 Years, Study Finds.

* WHO: 10,000 new Ebola cases per week could be seen. The CDC is apparently taking the over. One thing is certain: it’s time to panic.

* Another Obama triumph for the left: let a thousand wage thefts bloom.

The Assassination of Detroit.

* Charter School Power Broker Turns Public Education Into Private Profits. Neoliberalism, Higher Education, and the Rise of Contingent Faculty Labor.

* Identifying The Worst Colleges In America.

* Could Oculus Rift be the next great higher education boondoggle?

* In Taste of Autonomy, Sports Programs Now Battle for Athletes’ Bellies.

The most alarming thing I’ve heard from friends who’ve had miscarriages is their surprise (only upon miscarrying) at hearing about how many of their friends, aunts, cousins, sisters, mothers and grandmothers have had them, too. If miscarriages are so common, why do we hide them behind a wall of shame and silence?

* What It’s Really Like to Have an Abortion.

* The radical teamsters of Minneapolis showed what democratic unionism looks like.

* “Most schools’ internal judicial systems are the worst of both worlds,” Berkowitz said. “They don’t give the accused the protections of the criminal justice system, and they mistreat the victims, too.”

For example, even into the 1980s, some doctors didn’t believe that babies felt pain and so routinely did surgery on them using just muscle relaxants to keep them still. Pain and medicine.

* Guy Debord’s The Muppets. More links below Gonzo.

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* “You had one job” screwup of the week.

* South Carolina governor levels outrageous accusation against the nation’s CEOs, says they’re all white supremacists. Huge if true.

* Study claims that whales and dolphins can speak to one another.

* DC has a bit hit on its hands with The Flash, so of course the smart move here is to recast for the film.

* Father, there’s a gateway to Narnia in the closet!

The Absolute Weirdest Thing Ever To Happen At A Political Debate.

How A California Man Was Forced To Spend 100 Days In Prison For Being An Atheist.

* Next week: Civilization: Beyond Earth.

* Behold! The Counter-Intuitivist!

* And we are all Bartleby now.

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Monday Morning Links

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* Of course you had me at “Sun Myung Moon’s lost ecotopia.”

In 2000, Moon paid an undisclosed amount for roughly 1.5 million acres of land fronting the Paraguay River. Most of that property was in a town called Puerto Casado, about 100 miles downriver from Puerto Leda. Moon’s subsidiaries wanted the land to open commercial enterprises ranging from logging to fish farming. But a group of Puerto Casado residents launched a bitter legal battle to nullify the deal. While that controversy continued to divide Paraguayans, the Puerto Leda project proceeded under the radar. Moon turned the land over to 14 Japanese men—“national messiahs,” according to church documents, who were instructed to build an “ideal city” where people could live in harmony with nature, as God intended it. Moon declared that the territory represented “the least developed place on earth, and, hence, closest to original creation.”

* Right now I am sitting at my computer, writing a post that I will receive no money for and which is not part of any career plan. It’s a little thing, obviously. But why do I do it? Because human beings aren’t little efficiency machines. Human life is what you experience when you aren’t busily accruing material resources.

* 1994 literature syllabus from David Foster Wallace, featuring Stephen King, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Harris, and Mary Higgins Clark.

* For six years during my twenties, I worked as one of the principal ghostwriters for a mass-market series for teenaged girls called Sweet Valley High.

* Student Persistence in Bioelectricity, Fall 2012 (Duke University MOOC).

DukeMooc

New data from a long-term study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College suggest that some of the students most often targeted in online learning’s access mission are less likely than their peers to benefit from — and may in fact be hurt by — digital as opposed to face-to-face instruction.

* Five Experts Give College Scorecard a Barely Passing Grade.

* Accepting the Oscar for Marlon Brando, 1973.

* 9 Sexist Things That Happened At The Oscars.

* The Debt Everyone Is Freaking Out About Does Not Exist.

* “When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, ‘You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists,'” said Gibbs, now an MSNBC contributor.

* And an Angela Davis biopic comes out April 15.

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The Anxiety of Influence

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Spoiler Alert: Susan Doesn’t Get to Go to Narnia

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* With rock-bottom expectations, I apparently thought the Lost finale was better than the entire rest of the Internet—which is to say “Across the Sea” has already trashed my hopes that we’d get an actually decent ending. But even counting the offensively pointless flashes-sideways and a genuinely silly fistfight-with-the-Devil climax, what we got still beat BSG.

* Here’s your obligatory Lost nostalgia. Spoiler alert: I make the same Narnia joke in the thread. If you need more, there’s always Television without Pity.

* Mark Twain wrote an autobiography that he asked not be published for 100 years, and they actually listened. It’s due out this November.

* Oil spill booming 101. Very informative, but watch out for the F-bombs. Via MeFi. Related: DOJ considering criminal prosecution of BP.

* The oil spill will be with us for decades.

* Copy machines store all your copies on an internal hard drive, for no apparent reason whatsoever. Also via MeFi.

* David Simon hates New York.

* And my beloved home state of New Jersey is apparently seeking to require state employees to live inside the state, which seems to this non-lawyer to be unconstitutional on its face.

Wednesday Afternoon Legitimate Complaints

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* NASA reports that the Chilean earthquake has shortened the day by 1.26 microseconds and moved the figure axis of the Earth about 8 centimeters. Google has set up a donation tool for earthquake relief; my Chilean friend Ignacio also recommends a donation to Cruz Roja Chilena. The country is still suffering dramatically; while writing this post I received a news alert about a tsunami warning just issued for the coast, following a huge aftershock.

* DCist profiles the first few couples to file for same-sex marriage licenses in DC. Congratulations, folks!

* Bunning’s temper tantrum had consequences.

* Related: Nineteen senators I would sincerely like to see become unemployed.

* Obama calls for an up-or-down vote on health care: “At stake right now is not just our ability to solve this problem, but our ability to solve any problem.” Mr. President, I have some bad news…

* Rachel Maddow, national treasure.

You are not making serious arguments, and you do not believe what you’re saying. It’s disproven by your record. In the case of Orrin Hatch, you are flat-out lying about the history of the tactic that Democrats are going to use to pass health reform. Doing that, lying about what’s been done, lying about the record, lying about this tactic is not actually a substitute for making an honest argument against health reform.

For the Washington Post to print something like this is bizarre. For these established, supposedly mainstream senators to try to get away with this is an insult to everyone they’re addressing, and to the media, in particular. And for us all to just let this slide and call it ‘politics,’ is to surrender to cynicism profoundly.

* Attackerman: Jewish Narnia Is Called Marvel Comics. More in this at MeFi.

* ABC, let Jon Stewart host This Week.

* Finally, a profile of Rahm Emmanuel sourced by someone other than Rahm Emmanuel:

…Emanuel is not the would-be savior of this presidency. For one thing, there really isn’t that much daylight between him and his boss, or between him and his top White House colleagues. Had things gone even more his way, it’s possible that he would have squelched a few more of what few bursts of idealism and principle survived Inauguration. But people looking for the reasons why the Obama presidency has not lived up to its promise won’t find the answer amid the minor rifts between key players. Nor will they find the answer in how well or poorly this White House has played the game of politics. The fact is that after a campaign that appealed so successfully to idealism, Obama hired a bunch of saboteurs of hope and change.

Rahm was simply their chief of staff. And now, this hypercompetitive bantam rooster is attempting to blame others for what went wrong. That’s evidently so important to him that he’s trying to take a victory lap around the wreckage of what was once such a promising presidency.

Emanuel’s greatest “victory” before this one, of course, was the one upon which he earned his reputation: Getting a bunch of conserva-Dems elected in purple states in 2006, winning the party control of the House while at the same time crippling its progressive agenda. This is what Emanuel is all about. For him, victory is everything — even if you have to give up your core values to win, and even if you could have won while sticking to them.

* OK, I think I finally see the source of all our problems: Americans are totally indifferent to the suffering of others and think nothing bad will ever happen to them. Consider a survey by Yale climate change research scientist Anthony Leiserowitz. The survey asked Americans, “Who will be most harmed by climate change?” Respondents said that climate change would mostly affect:

• Plant and animal species: 45 percent
• Future generations of people: 44 percent
• People in developing countries: 31 percent
• People in other industrialized nations: 22 percent
• People in the United States: 21 percent
• Your local community: 13 percent
• Your family: 11 percent
• You personally: 10 percent

* And Roger Ailes: Judas!

AILES: Well, I don’t think they’re whining over nothing and I think they have — look, there’s legitimate complaints that they could have. And I’ve had this dialogue with David Axelrod, who I like very much and, there are legitimate areas. I mean, Chris [Wallace] said that, that’s his words, that’s what he believes, and he had reason to believe that. But I don’t think its helpful to say that.

His Dark Materials and the Negation of the Negation

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moreintelligentlife.com has a mildly slavish interview with fantasist-of-the-moment (and notorious atheist!) Philip Pullman that’s worth reading if you’re interested in either children’s literature or religious controversy. Here’s a bit where he rags on Lewis and Tolkien:

Several times Pullman reminds me that a work of fiction is not an argument. Perhaps it’s safest to say that in “His Dark Materials” he has constructed his own imaginative world so as not to submit to anyone else’s. He likes to quote William Blake’s line: “I must create a system, or be enslav’d by another man’s.” His story is a rival to the narratives put forward by two earlier Oxford writers, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Pullman loathes the way the children in Narnia are killed in a car-crash. “I dislike his Narnia books because of the solution he offers to the great questions of human life: is there a God, what is the purpose, all that stuff, which he really does engage with pretty deeply, unlike Tolkien who doesn’t touch it at all. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is essentially trivial. Narnia is essentially serious, though I don’t like the answer Lewis comes up with. If I was doing it at all, I was arguing with Narnia. Tolkien is not worth arguing with.”

1) It’s a train wreck, not a car crash, though this was probably the interviewer’s error and not Pullman’s. (The Problem of Susan is worth footnoting here as well.)

2) This is a strange thing that seems to happen to a lot of atheists and agnostics, and I say that certainly having recognized the impulse in myself at times as well. Rather than exiling religious and metaphysical questions to the margins, as you might expect, the recognition of the non-existence of God has the exact opposite effect: the question of God becomes the only one worth asking and the only thing worth talking about. Hence the ludicrous claim that Tolkien is “essentially trivial” because Lord of the Rings is neither a theistic nor atheistic polemic.

I don’t quite know what to make of this, but it’s very interesting. Clearly, Pullmanistic atheism has mastered the negation, but just as clearly it needs to find some way to move forward into the negation of the negation. I think that’s what actually existing atheism would have to be, rather than the cancerous anti-theism that so thoroughly dominates the category today.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 8, 2007 at 7:45 pm