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Showing posts from January, 2014

Love Songs that are also Warnings to GTFO while you can

Me quitte. Baby please gon' go. Don't believe the hype. Think twice, it's alright. 'If you love them, warn them that you are awful and make everyone around you unhappy.' While there are plenty of egoist songs about how love sucks, or about banishing a wrong'un, songs which rebuff someone out of altruism take a leap of insight beyond most songwriters. (For reality is beyond them.)

1. Autoclave - MoGos
"Maybe it's the heat in here, maybe it's the pressure:
You ought to head for the exits, the sooner the better.
I am this great, unstable mass of blood and foam
And no one in her right mind would make her home my home

2. Absolutely Cuckoo - Magnetic Fields
"Don't fall in love with me yet / we've only recently met...
I only tell you this because / I'm easy to get rid of
But not if you fall in love...
Know now that I'm on the make / And if you make a mistake
My heart will certainly break / I'll have to jump in a lake
And all my fr…


Say your workplace installed a machine by the door as you come in every morning. Say this machine's function was to turn off your consciousness, leaving (say) the body motive and intelligent, in a weak-AI way. Say that your work did not suffer in the least from the process. Say that at 5:30pm your body steps into the machine again and you are returned to yourself, unbored and pleasantly exerted.

This Anaesthetatron is less hedonistic than Nozick's Experience Machine, but still full enough of unreality to give a lot of us the creeps. But how many of us would use the machine regardless, on how many of our days? What does it say about our jobs or our minds that we would?

what's the highest moral wage?

(c) Jon Irving (2012), 'The Things I'll Have to Do Today Just to Eat'

Because giving money is regarded as an act of [unnecessary] charity, it is not thought that there is anything wrong with not giving. People do not feel in any way ashamed or guilty about spending money on new clothes or a new car instead of giving it to famine relief. (Indeed, the alternative does not occur to them.) This way of looking at the matter cannot be justified... To give money away is not charitable, or generous.
– Peter Singer

Forget about your worries and your strife; I mean the bare necessities,
That's why a bear can rest at ease with just the bare necessities of life...

– Terry Gilkyson

What amount of money can you rightly allocate to yourself, if you accept the premises of a hard-lineconsequentialist life? Call this amount the maximum consequentialist income (MCI), all earnings beyond which an ideal utilitarian would just give to effective causes.

We all know the minimum wage, but the…

virtue, work, and world to come [DRAFT]

(c) Meghan Howland (2012), "Ennui"

A rich boy goes to college. He makes a lot of friends. They all think they are special and that they suffer in distinct ways, but they are all hurtling down the same world-historical funnel. They will attempt to professionalize their passions, or else just get jobs. – Sam Lipsyte

Freedom in an unfree world is merely licence to exploit. – Germaine Greer

[Epistemic status: Post is 60% incomplete, but I fully believe the gist of it.]
[Content note: suicide, people making the perfect the enemy of the good.]

Reportedly, the 'only really serious' philosophical question is whether or not to kill yourself. If we take the point of this to be that your answer to the suicide question might preclude you answering any other questions, and if the importance of a question is somehow transitive with the importance of questions it affects, then that's sort of true if you squint. But it is much more likely that you'll currently be faced with …

Rorty and the Wild Party [DRAFT]

( or, the Problem of Pluralistic Consequentialism (or, What's the point if we can't have fun?) )

'The Battle of Love' by Cézanne (1880)

If I keep listening to Beethoven's Appassionata,
I won't be able to finish the revolution
. - VI Lenin, though not really

People who sacrifice beauty for efficiency get what they deserve. - Tom Robbins

Epistemic status: vague, grouchy, over-humanistic. 50%

In my teens I decided to rid myself of my guilt about guilty pleasures. I'd just admit to myself that I liked e.g. Kylie songs; I'd drop my ironic guard when I watched action films; I'd drop my masculine guard when I watched costume dramas. But the attempt to live up to strong moral consequentialism brings all that back in with vengeance: my morals tell me that everything I have that I do not need, in quite a strict sense of need, is possessed at the expense of some disadvantaged person's necessities. So much of my life is, or should be, guilty pleasure.

The last po…

intersectionality, quality, shame

[Content note: internet social justice, discussion of rape.]

Been reading authors who pose a difficult question: how should we read talented people with serious moral or political failings? To catalogue them, Caitlin Moran was seen to be dismissive about black feminism; AA Gill kills sapient animals and insults ace women for fun; Malcolm X was (at one point) a violent pimp and burglar; and Rousseau abandoned his five children to their probabledeaths and goes on about his superior virtue all the time.

(The dilemma is starker in the cases of private bigot Larkin, oblivious Nazi Heidegger, serial rapist Koestler, and straight-up serial killer Kaczynski, all of whom I’ve read with admiration and interest.)

The short answer’s that we totally can admire bad people's art or thoughts, and for a number of reasons: because it’s wrong to confuse the quality of a point with the status of the person who raised it; because we can separate our perception of something from our approval of it …

Been reading, Q4 2013

(c) Timothy Leo Taranto, (2013) "Ernest Lemingway"

Here’s the bird that never flew,
Here’s the tree that never grew,
Here’s the bell that never rang,
Here’s the fish that never swam.”

- Glasgow city motto

Mankind has various ways, some of them too technical to register as art, of adding to the store of beautiful things.
- Clive James

Unemployment, so the library. (Free meaning, also free heating.) Worked back up to my big themes (Formal theory v informal humanity, Scottish independence, the contemporary Left). Books by Gill, Malcolm X, Rousseau, and Moran pose a really big question: how should we read people with moral or political failings? I blab on about this here

1/5: Avoid: significantly false and clichéd or ugly. 
2/5: For enthusiasts only, or, very bad prose with ok content.
3/5: Skim it, some worth. 
4/5: Read attentively; true, novel, or good. 
4*/5: Outstanding. 
5?/5: Outstanding, might reread it. 
5/5: Too much for one reading, or, deserving refreshing. Vade mecum.