A necessary and sufficient condition for linear aggregation of SSB utility functionals is presented. Harsanyi's social aggregation theorem for von NeumannâMorgenstern utility functions is shown to be a corollary to this result. Two generalizations of Fishburn and Gehrlein's conditional linear aggregation theorem for SSB utility functionals are also established.
The existence of an idea of a missing shade of blue contradicts Hume's first principle that simple ideas all derive from corresponding simple impressions. Hume dismisses the exception to his principle as unimportant. Why does he do so? His later account of distinctions of reason suggests a systematic way of dealing with simple ideas not derived from simple impressions. Why does he not return to the problem of the missing shade, having offered that account? Several suggestions as to Hume's solution (...) of the problem of the missing shade (not all appealing to distinctions of reason) are explored with an eye both to their adequacy as Humean solutions and their value as clues to his dismissal of the problem. Hypotheses concerning the latter perplexity are formulated and discussed as well. Senses in which the missing shade of blue is or may be a red herring are identified. In course, this author names Hume's missing shade marjorie grene. Historians of philosophy will want to adopt this nomenclature. (shrink)
In this article I take a loose, functional approach to defining induction: Inductive forms of reasoning include those prima facie reasonable inference patterns that one finds in science and elsewhere that are not clearly deductive. Inductive inference is often taken to be reasoning from the observed to the unobserved. But that is incorrect, since the premises of inductive inferences may themselves be the results of prior inductions. A broader conception of inductive inference regards any ampliative inference as inductive, where an (...) ampliative inference is one where the conclusion ‘goes beyond’ the premises. ‘Goes beyond’ may mean (i) ‘not deducible from’ or (ii) ‘not entailed by’. Both of these are problematic. Regarding (i), some forms of reasoning might have a claim to be called ‘inductive’ because of their role in science, yet turn out to be deductive after all—for example eliminative induction (see below) or Aristotle’s ‘perfect induction’ which is an inference to a generalization from knowledge of every one of its instances. Interpretation (ii) requires that the conclusions of scientific reasoning are always contingent propositions, since necessary propositions are entailed by any premises. But there are good reasons from metaphysics for thinking that many general propositions of scientific interest and known by inductive inference (e.g. “all water is H2O”) are necessarily true. Finally, both (i) and (ii) fail to take account of the fact that there are many ampliative forms of inference one would not want to call inductive, such as counter-induction (exemplified by the ‘gambler’s fallacy’ that the longer a roulette wheel has come up red the more likely it is to come up black on the next roll). Brian Skyrms (1999) provides a useful survey of the issues involved in defining what is meant by ‘inductive argument’. Inductive knowledge will be the outcome of a successful inductive inference. But much discussion of induction concerns the theory of confirmation, which seeks to answer the question, “when and to what degree does evidence support an hypothesis?” Usually, this is understood in an incremental sense and in a way that relates to the rational credibility of a hypothesis: “when and by how much does e add to the credibility of h?”, although ‘confirms’ is sometimes used in an absolute sense to indicate total support that exceeds some suitably high threshold.. (shrink)
Although efforts have been made to increase the opportunities for American-born minorities to obtain doctoral degrees in business, the actual number of business students who are American-born minorities has been extremely low. At the same time more than half of all PhD candidates in business schools are foreign-born. We suggest that business schools owe an ethical duty to provide role models for minority business students, and that this duty can be achieved by initiating Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs that (...) can enable working professionals who are American-born minorities to obtain terminal degrees in business. We outline eight steps that can be taken to implement a viable and cost effective DBA program. (shrink)
Mutual exclusion between congeneric species has been observed such as the case of the grey and red squirrels in Great Britain and the case of the twoHippolais warbler speciesHippolais icterina andH. polyglotta in Europe. This process can lead to the formation of an extinction wave which propagates. Two main assumptions are tested, competition and selective predation. The aim of this work is to present spatial models of these two processes. The animals of two species are assumed to move on a (...) two dimensional array of spatial patches with local interactions of competition or of selective predation between them. We focus on the case of mutual exclusion. Initially, the two competing species occupy complementary areas in an array of spatial patches with a small common zone. Numerical simulations show that under particular conditions, one species gets extinct and the other invades the whole set of spatial patches. These simulations show that with time, the length of the overlapping zone stabilizes and moves at a constant velocity. The limit length of the overlapping band and the velocity of the extinction wave are found to be functions of the parameters of the models. We relate this general model to the case of two sibling species of birds:H. icterina andH. polyglotta. (shrink)
In the sixth century BCE Ionian philosophers explained the sun as a mass of fire, sometimes as floating like a leaf or a cloud above the earth. It was thought to be fueled by moist vapors from the earth. In the f i f t h century philosophers typically envisaged the sun as a red-hot stone or a molten mass carried around by the force of a cosmic vortex. The decisive shift in explanations seems to result from the cosmology of (...) Parmenides, who recognized that the moon received its light from the sun, and hence inferred that the heavenly bodies were spherical solid bodies. The new theory required a new account of how the sun came to be hot. The sun was said to be heated either by being in a fiery region or by friction. The discovery of a large meteorite seemed to confirm the fifth-century theory. (shrink)
continent. 1.4 (2011): 286—310. This mad play of writing —Stéphane Mallarmé Somewhere in between mathematics and theory, light and dark, physicality and projection, oscillates the poetry of Alessandro De Francesco. The texts hold no periods or commas, not even a capital letter for reference. Each piece stands as an individual construction, and yet the poetry flows in and out of the frame. Images resurface from one poem to the next, haunting the reader with reincarnations of an object lost in the (...) grass or a representation of a pear in a Dutch still life, embedded in cycles of cinematic close ups and multiple dimensions. As a whole, De Francesco’s oeuvre suggests, to use the title of one of his works, a redefinition —linguistic, epistemological, personal. The poem The End (un’agenda) (The End (an agenda)) opens with a quote by literary theorist Maurice Blanchot, which may be translated as follows: Speaking is not seeing. Speaking frees thought from this optical imperative that in the Western tradition, for thousands of years, has subjugated out approach to things, and induced us to think under the guaranty of light or under the threat of its absence. In writing, De Francesco seeks to redefine our approach to things. His poems, like Blanchot’s writings, speak to both illuminate and to obscure. The reader hangs in an absence of reality within language that necessitates an attempt at interpretation, yet renders such a search ultimately futile. De Francesco draws the anonymous images that appear in this poem from the city of Paris, his current home. The fragmented narrative depicts an inner doubt of realness, calling for a confirmation of a physical existence beyond verbalization and cogitation. Cyclical references to film throw into question the reliability of the reality he creates. The light, sometimes red and safe, other times absent and murky, cannot necessarily be trusted as a guaranteed means of illumination. Blanchot’s distinction between language and visualization, and the relationship of each to reality, though linked specifically to The End (un’agenda) , can be a lens through which to read any of the three works that follow. assente obliqua (absent oblique) is composed of descriptions of six still life paintings, ranging from Dutch masterpieces of the seventeenth century to 1960s minimalism. The actual images of the paintings are absent, and the text is the sole source and object of a virtual reality created around the artwork. “Absent oblique” refers to the light source placed outside of the frame, which both informs and distracts viewing of the scene. Although mere description can be unreliable and unsatisfying in its necessary limitation, the representational act of description is shown as more than just a human want. It is a need, a means by which to grapple with an unsure reality. As the illustrations progress, they descend into abstraction and chaos. The precariously placed plate triggers the movement: the bottle bursts and the objects collapse into the movement of a tracking film camera. corpo estraneo in moto ascensionale (foreign body in ascending motion) is prose poetry in action. Its objective tone of description is skewed by the subjectivity of the narrative as horrific images are relayed in fragmented but matter-of-fact manner. A “foreign body” is both a mass of cancerous cells, and a corporeal description, and the poem takes the reader on a journey back and forth between the two, destination unclear. Beyond a questioning of the real, corpo estraneo in moto ascensionale is an examination of the possible. De Francesco’s poetry becomes a camera obscura through which to observe the constant flux of light and dark that blurs our reality. His work is colored by the idea of apo koinou , a Greek term meaning “from the common” that involves a construction of two clauses with a shared word or phrase. Through such melting of meaning, De Francesco creates a fluid ambiguity that is nonetheless grounded in bodily concepts. In assente obliqua , the reader is confronted with a description of a still life that rapidly transforms into a more chilling scene: the membrane of the mushroom in the basket emerges behind the white cloth a body could hide itself that asks for help In the realm of pure description, there is a mushroom that peeks out from behind a white cloth in a basket. Behind the white cloth, too, there could be a body, hiding, asking for help. Such an elision elicits disorienting mistrust in temporality, but also expands the planar possibilities of syntactical meaning. A white cloth is not merely a construct in still life painting, but veil that both shields and reveals potential mysteries. It is a proposed alternative to a traditional Western binary of subjectivity and objectivity. The apo koinou construction is rare in modern English, having slipped out of use after its resurgence in Old English poetry. De Francesco reintroduces this blur of object and subject relations into a modern light. He draws inspiration from a device used by Gruppo 63 founder and avant-garde poet Antonio Porta tended toward repetition of phrases in third person perspective. In Italian, it is perfectly grammatically correct to omit the subject, including only a verb conjugation. Gender, even humanity unknown, the subject dissolves into the action, thus giving to the poetry the power to change the reader’s perception of who or what is actually acting. To further push the relative boundaries of experience, De Francesco expands his written poetry into what he calls “reading environments.” In these sound experiments, De Francesco’s voice reading his poetry is manipulated by real time digital voice processing. The written is transformed to the spoken, and then injected with currents of electric sound. “At each activation of word in the darkness,” (from The End (un’agenda) ) language is permutated into a nonphysical yet all-encompassing being. In these projects, realized all over Europe, De Francesco continues his examination of the word’s potency beyond the page and into an “n-dimensional space,” where the lines between nature and affect are intertwined. To publish excerpts of De Francesco’s oeuvre is to show screen shots of full-length film, to read pull quotes from a philosophy treatise. In these poems, there are questions, not to be answered, but to be questioned again. The words will oscillate in and out of the square construction found in his poems, out of the borders of the page, out of the rectangle of the laptop screen. NOTES (1) Blanchot, Maurice. The Infinite Conversation . Trans. Susan Hanson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. 27. EDITORS' NOTE The .pdf above contains about twenty pages of translation and the original Italian poetry. Below we provide only a brief account. The End (an agenda) Parler, ce n’est pas voir. Parler libère la pensée de cette exigence optique qui, dans la tradition occidentale, soumet depuis des millénaires notre approche des choses et nous invite à penser sous la garantie de la lumière ou sous la menace de l’absence de lumière. —Maurice Blanchot in this n-dimensional space i could spy on myself from the cracks while going back and forth from the summer to the wardrobe from the night to the parking lot but something filters in through the half-closed shutters becomes an event enunciation we stay without explanation like parallel curves on the back of a solid growing older she enters the garden always repeats certain phrases the elevator to be redone the neighbor’s music the steps the pavement furls like the leaves of a fern when touched she is framed from behind while she moves rocking she covers distances slowly a bag overflows from the wardrobe something stirs inside but then the suitcase comes open not even by my hand it’s the objects that are starting to filter out the little red haired monster watches idling the appointments written on one of your agendas two years old still seem urgent each letter holds itself upright on the page with flourishes and arabesques each angle has its own geography i’m trying to describe the path the fingers trace on the carpet the zipper takes the opposite route we are suspended on the stairs above the water in the center is the summer seen from above the darkness of the city passes from one headlight to the next the surfaces of our arms cohere and are shiny underneath the blinking of a sign each pore is an open expanse the body dreams the hair gives form to the possible some daring swimmers were throwing themselves into the seine they swam upstream up to the first quay look there could exist behind the screen a room where even when the lamp is out and the curtains drawn even when the suitcase wasn’t closed everything seemed red everything calm construction of a four-dimensional tetrahedron by R. Courant – H. Robbins, What is Mathematics? Oxford University Press, 1941  . (shrink)
This piece, included in the drift special issue of continent. , was created as one step in a thread of inquiry. While each of the contributions to drift stand on their own, the project was an attempt to follow a line of theoretical inquiry as it passed through time and the postal service(s) from October 2012 until May 2013. This issue hosts two threads: between space & place and between intention & attention . The editors recommend that to experience the (...) drifiting thought that attention be paid to the contributions as they entered into conversation one after another. This particular piece is from the BETWEEN INTENTION & ATTENTION thread: Jeremy Fernando, Sitting in the Dock of the bay, watching... * R.H. Jackson, Reading Eyes * Gina Rae Foster, Nyctoleptic Nomadism: The Drift/Swerve of Knowing * Bronwyn Lay, Driftwood * Patricia Reed, Sentences on Drifitng * David Prater, drift: a way * * * * * Australia, Summer, 2012. …. essential humanity exists, and runs its course, within a system whose first principle is the preservation of balance. And arching over it all, is the logos of The Dreaming. How shall we state this when we fully understand it I do not know, but I should think we are more likely to ennoble it than not. Equilibrium ennobled is abidingness.” 1 On return to birthplace I write. Caught between jetlag and surprise, a relentless sun cracks my skin. Upright words fall under cockatoo roars. The attempt to settle, to be attentive, is shaken. Some kind of Dreaming surrounds and elements intrude without consent. Homeless at home. Exhausted, I fight sleep’s hard currents. Their victory would confuse the body clock, so the in-between wins. Half-there — half-awake — here in this place — I am driftwood. Driftwood: wood floating in or washed ashore by a body of water. A severed limb set adrift from the birthing body. Tossed from home it’s cast into processes of wind, water, sand, bacteria, decay and movement. Driftwood is orphaned members at the mercy and agency of weather, currents, submersion, and being thrown into dry world. Driftwood — singular plural. White man got no dreaming. Him go ‘nother way. White man, him go different Him got road belong himself. 2 photo: Bronwyn Lay The old man comes from the northern rivers. A while ago, he could no longer pay attention to wage slavery, so retreated north to be with dead redgum that lay abandoned in dry riverbeds. Derived from driftwood peoples tossed here by the sea, he followed the fragile river veins of his birth. He walked along water bodies and through country’s lungs. Some kind of displaced ancestral song compelled his leathered hands to pick up centuries old driftwood from flood plains. It emerged from under muddy creeks, was flung up by salt soaked coves, pushed underground by cracks in the claypan and lay embedded in mud and salinized soil. Smoothed and grooved in equal measure, the branches were marked by an organic alphabet that preceded him. As he held the wood, he touched decomposing circles that started with a blast and never ceased writing into abandoned flesh. When the ute was full the old man returned home having been away with the stuff that ‘growed him up’. His shed filled with red sawdust and the sound of tools at labour. His hands sculptured driftwood. History carved into itinerant skin. I sit opposite the old man. His body no longer holds the repetition of carpentry. He can no longer gift driftwood its detail. Outside redgum bits lie scattered around the fence line and beside the dam. He crouches over an unreliable computer researching the massacres of indigenous peoples that occurred along the same river veins that ‘growed him up’ long ago. Staring into the remnants of frontier resistance that he and I inherit, his eyes nurture fire. He discovers severed limbs and the slicing of tribes. In the ashes of sentences he sifts the lies that smoulder into our histories. In the 30’s the anthropologist Stanner said that due to certain factors — lack of change and isolation — the ideal and real come very close together in indigenous Dreaming. They are a people who were able to defeat history. 3 “If the Ideal and the Real drift too far away from one another (as they did at the end of the middle ages and seem increasingly to do this century) men face some difficult options. They have to change their way of life, or their philosophy, or both, or live unhappily somewhere in-between.” 4 Stanner says Indigenous Dreaming is blackfella thinking. 5 Dreamtime is not ethereal, not utopic, or otherworldly. It’s fused with the real and it’s not mine. I might never understand, but it’s the substance of my home. This here place ‘growed me up’. Is driftwood the unhappy in-between? Is it a radical itinerant written upon by currents? Where are we? The settler restless? photo: Alison Pouliot I return to the bush late one night, tired from high talk in city cafes, to find the old man at his computer. He’s either researching his white farming ancestors, or tracing unrecorded massacres of blackfellas. I laugh, “You know Dad, if you were indigenous you might go out by the dam and sing up your ancestors rather than try find them on a screen.” He peers over his glasses. His stare delivers an ancestral scold. He’s white man. Of course he archives. This is our way. One may see that, like all men, he is a metaphysician in being able to transcend himself. With the metaphysician goes a mood and spirit, which I can only call a mood or spirit of assent, neither despair nor resignation, optimism not pessimism, quietism nor indifference. The mood, and the outlook beneath it, make him hopelessly out of place in a world in which the renaissance has triumphed only to be perverted, and in which the products of secular humanism, rationalism and science challenge their own hopes, indeed their beginnings.” 6 The clinamen sometimes comes abstract — the rarefied swerve of possibility. But in the place we gather &mdash where this text has landed — in the heart of settler colony denial — the clinamen reminds of familiar violence and goes maximum. The earth’s swerve. Topography’s tip. Physics gone violent. Here, drift is initiated by the tear of flesh, scurvy voyages, frontier blood and the deracination from belonging. Here, war precedes drift. We all got tossed. Here. Pay attention. The country has its own gaze. ‘Lest we forget’. The seasonal turn on aborescent substances starts with a fall, an upwards rupture, a drop, a cut, a storm, a violence, a loss, forced migration, refugees, agricultural imperialism, settler wheat and poisoned rations. Pay attention to aftermath debris. Don’t drift too far from the real. History hasn’t settled into the water. It still tosses limbs back and forth. Surrounded by the backdrop of Dreaming country the old man archives and dreams. Both ways of settling into the real. But lest we forget, time, in this place, has no textual tick — tock. Our bodies know this, even though we persist with shipwreck illusions. It’s difficult being here. Here. Pay inattention. I walk through eucalyptus, over dried out clay pans and under kookaburras. It’s been two years in-between. This time country speaks strong underfoot. Forget books, forget texts, forget other lands and times, beginning and end. Be here. All falls raw. Leaves drop and refuse to compost. Bark untethers quick. Light denudes worlds. The heated horizon melts monoliths. It’s enough to make Cartesians shiver. Awake. Refuse the temptation to run. Have enough courage to drift into here. Love with a gum tree. Stand with her whole and dissolving. She moves light between our limbs, tossing them to wind. She — the original romance — is the dream that dares touch flesh and reaches over nightmares with elemental desire. I gaze and lose me. There’s no distance. The land that ‘growed me up’ speaks with symbiotic breath. There’s no division, no separation, no other. The gum is plastic arborescence. You be my body for me, always were. …..but I wake to driftwood histories and recall slaughters. Drifted, wicked fellow citizen — the other is someone else’s blind sleep. Betrayal maintains the other as mine. Archives reveal this place doesn’t belong to me. Body articulates that it became here. Gumtree cares not………her arms take me in anyway. “Like all men he is a philosopher in being able to use his power of abstract reason. His genius, his metier, and in some sense — his fate is that because of endowment and circumstance this power has channelled itself mainly into one activity, making sense out of social relations among men living together.” 7 The old man excavates seven generations of settler ancestors. They’re an ordinary lot with written-upon skin. He records genocides that occurred alongside his peoples fertility. Bodies rise from riverbeds like sovereign sacrifices. It hurts. It disrupts. He labours at the past with gestures that might go unnoticed in a country suffocated by rich amnesia. Inside walls, he seems attentive to historical details. Outside he seems inattentive to time, lost to us and embedded in a family of active matter — the bush. His driftwood skin appears around my eyes - grooves of experience, the rush of cruel sun, the push of blind winds, and the love of everything. The sovereign’s reluctant children are thrown here by, with and through blood, but country gets in and sculpts us here. photo: Chris Corrigan “But his abstractions do not put him at war with himself.” 8 The kangaroo family appears at dusk. When the sun is soft I follow the old man into the back paddock. Children skip behind us. In-between generations, I step into the old man’s driftwood leanings. My feet find traces of his understanding – the archivist that reads trees. Here, on home dirt, inattention and attention collapse as we wander into where we are. The roo family gaze at us. Through the grass the old man’s wooden finger articulates kin’s details. He points to the head male, the mother holding a joey in pouch and the young warriors side by side. My children, quieter than ever, meet the laser - eyed silence of another family. In half-light Dad, me, and the kids mirror the kangaroo constellation and stand gentle together. At the bushblock’s limit we encounter ancestral desires. White peoples are subject to driftwood histories. We’re severed limbs attempting to fuse here now, with what was, only to discover our skin becomes racked and embedded with the weather. Into the shelter and fissures of this difficult and ambiguous inheritance, I fall into dream light until balance saturates. Light breaks when the kangaroos move. They bounce someplace else without effort or impact. We turn and tread through the dark towards home. It’s time to sleep. Driftwood skin covers the country. Dreaming is still. photo: Bronwyn Lay NOTES W.E.H. Stanner, The Dreaming and Other Essays , (Melbourne: Black Inc. Agenda, 2009), 72. Ibid., 56. Stanner is recalling one intelligent old man who said to him, “with a cadence almost as though he had been speaking in verse.” Ibid., 60. Ibid., 69. Ibid., 58. Ibid., 67. Ibid., 68. Ibid., 59.  . 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continent. 2.2 (2012): 76–81 Comments on Eugene Thacker’s “Cosmic Pessimism” Nicola Masciandaro Anything you look forward to will destroy you, as it already has. —Vernon Howard In pessimism, the first axiom is a long, low, funereal sigh. The cosmicity of the sigh resides in its profound negative singularity. Moving via endless auto-releasement, it achieves the remote. “ Oltre la spera che piú larga gira / passa ’l sospiro ch’esce del mio core ” [Beyond the sphere that circles widest / penetrates (...) the sigh that issues from my heart]. 1 The axiomatic sigh of the pessimist is in a way the pure word of philosophy, a thought that thinks without you, speaks where you are not. The live pneumatic form of the soul’s eventual exit from the dead body’s mouth, the sigh restores consciousness to the funeral of being, to the passing away that is existence. Pessimism speaks in piercing aphorisms because first it sighs. “Beyond the sphere passeth the arrow of our sigh. Hafiz! Silence.” 2 … pessimism is guilty of that most inexcusable of Occidental crimes—the crime of not pretending it’s for real. To the pessimist, the ‘real’ world—the world on whose behalf we are expected to wake up in the morning—is a ceaseless index of its own unreality. The pessimist’s day is not an illumined space for the advancement of experience and action, but a permanently and inescapably reflective zone, the vast interior of a mirror where each thing is only insofar as it is, at best, a false image of itself. Within this speculative situation, inside the doubleness of the mirror, pessimism splits into two paths, false and true, one that tries to fix pessimism (establish a relation with the mirror) and decides in favor of the apparent real, and another that totally falls for pessimism (enters the mirror) and communes with the greater reality of the unreal. These two paths are distinguished by their relation to pessimism’s guilt vis-à-vis the world’s reality-project. The first form, that which remains pessimism for the world and puts on a smiling face, stays guilty to itself (i.e. unconscious) and thus turns hypocritical, becoming at once the pessimism of the commoner who really just wants things to be better for himself and the pessimism of the elite who wants to critically refashion reality in his own image. The general form of this worldly, hypocritical pessimism is the impulse to ‘make the world a better place’, which is the global mask under which the world is diurnally made worse. The second form, that which follows pessimism away from the world and ceases to put on a smiling face, refuses guiltiness as itself theessential Occidental mode of pretense and turns honest, becoming at once the intelligent pessimism required of all ordinary action and the radical pessimism necessary for self-knowledge: seeing that no one is capable of doing good. The general form of this universal, honest pessimism is the impulse not to worry, to give up and embrace dereliction, which is the only real way the world is actually improved. Where worldly pessimism is the engine productive of interminably warring secular and sacred religions (good-projects), universal pessimism strives hopelessly for the paradise of a supremely instantiated pessimus: things are getting so bad that there is no longer any time for them to get worse; things are so constantly-instantly worst that this is BEST. Cosmic pessimism is the mode of universal pessimism which can yet discourse with the world, which has not chosen silence and can spread the inconceivably BAD NEWS in an orderly form ( kosmos ) that the world can understand (if it wanted to). … the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world. That is what the world is (the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world). … a generalized misanthropy without the anthropos. Pessimism crystallizes around this futility—it is its amor fati , rendered as musical form. Pessimism’s love of fate is a blind love, a love of the blindness of being human in a cosmos conceived around the human’s eclipse, a heavy levitation in the contradictory space between the inescapability of its having been and the impossibility of its will-be. Pessimism’s song of futility is a sensible way of loving fate, with a minimum of eros, by means of a kind of matrimonial love of the fatal. As music, pessimism stays open to the irreparable and the inexorable without the binding of affirmation, in the apparent absence of the radical, infinitely surplus will that absolute amor fati seems to require. Crying, laughing, sleeping—what other responses are adequate to a life that is so indifferent? “Unless a man aspires to the impossible, the possible that he achieves will scarcely be worth the trouble of his achieving it. We should aspire to the impossible, to absolute and infinite perfection [….] The apocatastasis is more than a mystical dream: it is a norm of action, it is a beacon for high deeds [….] For true charity is a species of invasion [….] It is not charity to rock and lull our fellow men to sleep in the inertia and heaviness of matter, but rather to arouse them to anguish and torment of spirit.” 3 … the impossibility of ever adequately accounting for one’s relationship to thought. “The paroxysm of interior experience leads you to regions where danger is absolute, because life which self-consciously actualizes its roots in experience can only negate itself [….] There are no arguments [….] On the heights of despair, the passion for the absurd is the only thing that can still throw a demonic light on chaos [….] I live because the mountains do not laugh and the worms do not sing .” 4 It took three attempts before she was fully decapitated, all the while she continued, perhaps miraculously, to sing. According to the earliest account of Cecilia’s martyrdom, the beheading turns out worse. After not severing her head in three strokes, “the cruel executioner left her half dead” (seminecem eam cruentus carnifex dereliquit). 5 Cecilia’s effortlessly powerful endurance of the three strokes—a fitting icon for pessimism as an art of dereliction—demonstrates the “passivity and absence of effort [….] in which divine transcendence is dissolved.” 6 There’s a ghost that grows inside of me, damaged in the making, and there’s a hunt sprung from necessity, elliptical and drowned. Where the moving quiet of our insomnia offers up each thought, there’s a luminous field of grey inertia, and obsidian dreams burnt all the way down. Like words from a pre-waking dream. There is no reason to think that they are not. NOTES 1. Dante Alighieri. Vita Nuova . ed. and trans. Dino S. Cervigni and Edward Vasta. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 1995. 41:10. 2. Hafiz of Shiraz. The Divan . trans. H. Wilberforce Clarke. London: Octagon Press. 1974. 10.9. 3. Miguel de Unamuno. The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations . trans. Anthony Kerrigan. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1972. 305-6. 4. E.M. Cioran. On the Heights of Despair . trans. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1992. 9-10. 5. Giacomo Laderchi. S. Caeciliae Virg[inis] et Mart[yris] Acta. . . Rome. 1723. 38. 6. Georges Bataille. On Nietzsche . trans. Bruce Boone. London: Continuum. 2004. 135. See Nicola Masciandaro. “ Half Dead: Parsing Cecilia .” A Commentary on Eugene Thacker’s "Cosmic Pessimism" Gary J. Shipley Pessimism is the refusal to seek distraction, the refusal to remodel failure into a platform for further (doomed) possibilities, the refusal of comfort, the acceptance of the sickness of healthy bodies, the cup of life overflowing with cold vomit. If, as Ligotti suggests when discussing Invasion of the Body Snatchers , 1 humans prefer the anxieties of their familiar human lives to the contentment of an alien one, then the pessimist, we could argue, represents some perverted combination of the two, preferring (presuming he has a choice) the defamiliarization of human life to the contentment of its unquestioned mundanity. The quasi-religious state of mind that Wittgenstein would mention on occasion, that of “feeling absolutely safe,” 2 is a state the pessimist could only imagine being approximated by death, or perhaps some annihilative opiate-induced stupor. This Wittgensteinian commingling of certainty and faith looks every bit the futile gesture, a mere rephrasing of collapse or partial collapse. The only certainty open to the pessimist is that of the toxic formula of life itself—a formula known and lacuna-free. Certainty, far from being the gateway to deliverance, becomes the definitive impediment; and the possibility of salvation, as long as it remains, becomes crucially reliant on postulations of ignorance, epistemic gaps, a perennial incompleteness: “the perfect safety of wooed death […] the warm bath of physical dissolution, the universal unknown engulfing the miniscule unknown.” 3 The height of Leibniz’s Panglossian insanity nurtured the idea that our knowing everything—via the universal calculus—could be accurately described a triumph, as opposed to a nightmare in which our every futility is laid bare. Stagnancy and boredom are perhaps two of the greatest ills of Western civilisation, and the most potent pessimism tells you that you’re stuck with both. The most we can hope for, by way of salvation, is to throw open our despair to the unknown. The fact that Schopenhauer’s pessimism stopped short of morality and allowed him to play the flute, as Nietzsche complained, highlights the predicament of a man who despite having adorned nothingness with a smiling face still found himself alive. The demand here is that it be felt: a cross-contamination of intellect and emotion. The safety net of numerous parentheses makes for a failed philosophy, rather than a philosophy of failure. Depressives make bad pessimists, because, unless they choose to die, living will always infect them with necessities of hope, forcing them to find something, anything (all the various “as ifs”) to make existence tolerable. For as Cioran observed, while “[d]epressions pay attention to life, they are the eyes of the devil, poisoned arrows which wound mortally any zest and love of life. Without them we know little, but with them, we cannot live.” 4 And even when cured of our depressions we’ll find ourselves consumed, eaten alive by the hyper-clinical (borderline autistic) mania that replaces them: a predicament captured all too clearly in the microscriptual fictions of Robert Walser, where spectral men and women stifle their depressive madness with protective comas of detail, their failed assimilations buried beneath thick crusts of remote data. Like Beckett’s Malone their stories may have ended, but cruelly their lives have not. Pessimism is an extraneous burden (a purposeless weight) that makes everything else harder to carry, while at the same time scooping it out and making it lighter. If pessimism had a sound it would be the harsh non-noise of tinnitus—the way that every person would hear themselves if they refused their distractions long enough to listen: a lungless scream from the extrasolar nothing of the self. The music of pessimism—if indeed we can imagine such a thing—is the reverberating echo of the world’s last sound, conjectured but never heard, audible only in its being listened for. The one consolation of this hollow paradox of audibility being, that “he will be least afraid of becoming nothing in death who has recognized that he is already nothing now.” 5 The pessimist suffers a derangement of the real, a labyrinthitis at the nucleus of his being: he’s the stumbling ghost relentlessly surprised that others can see him. If Cioran’s refusal is manifested in sleep (when even saying ‘no’ is too much of a commitment), then Pessoa’s resides in the dreams inside that sleep. Pessoa chooses to exploit the fact that he’s being “lived by some murmuring non-entity both shadowy and muddied” 6 by growing more voids to live him. His is a Gnostic breed of sleep, “sleeping as if the universe were a mistake,” 7 a sleep that dreams through Thacker’s cosmic pessimism (“a pessimism of the world-without-us.”, “the unhuman orientation of deep space and deep time” 8 ), through the critical error of there being anything at all when there could be nothing. The metaphysical pessimist is someone who, however well life treats them, still desires to wake from it, as from the poisonous air of a bad dream. Pessimism is a paradox of age, being simultaneously young and old; its youth residing in a refusal to accept the authority of existence (its rich history, its inherent beneficence), a refusal to “get over” the horror of what it sees with its perpetually fresh eyes, and its maturity in the unceremonious disposal of the philosophical playthings (those futile architectures) of adolescence. As Thacker remarks: “Pessimism abjures all pretenses towards system—towards the purity of analysis and the dignity of critique.” 9 A sentiment shared with Pessoa, who duly categorizes those that choose to enact this futile struggle: “The creators of metaphysical systems and of psychological explanations are still in the primary stage of suffering.” 10 If the pessimist has shared a womb with anyone, it’s with the mystic and not the philosopher. As Schopenhauer tells us: “The mystic is opposed to the philosopher by the fact that he begins from within, whereas the philosopher begins from without. […] But nothing of this is communicable except the assertions that we have to accept on his word; consequently he is unable to convince.” 11 The crucial difference between the mystic and the pessimist is not the latter’s impassivity and defeatism, but his unwillingness/inability to contain in any way the spread of his voracious analyticity, his denial of incompleteness, his exhaustive devotion to failure. The truth of our predicament, though heard, is destined to remain unprocessed. Like the revelations of B.S. Johnson’s Haakon (“We rot and there’s nothing that can stop it / Can’t you feel the shaking horror of that?” 12 ) the pessimist’s truths are somehow too obvious to listen to, as if something inside us were saying, “Of course, but haven’t we gotten over that?” Pessimism is simple and ugly, and has no desire to make itself more complex or more attractive. The true moral pessimist knows that the Utilitarian’s accounts will always be in the red. He can see that for all his computational containments, his only honest path is a negative one, and that such a path has but one logical destination: that of wholesale human oblivion. Thacker notes how at the core of pessimism lies the notion of “the worst,” through which death is demoted by the all-pervasive suffering of a life that easily eclipses its threat. And so with doom made preferable to gloom, death begins to glint with promise, “like beauty passing through a nightmare.” 13 But even among pessimists suicide is, for the most part, thought to be an error. Schopenhauer, for instance, regarded suicide a mistake grounded in some fundamentally naïve disappointment or other. Pessoa too thought suicide an onerous escape tactic: “To die is to become completely other. That’s why suicide is a cowardice: it’s to surrender ourselves completely to life.” 14 There is a call here to be accepting of and creative with the puppetry of your being, an insistence that it’s somehow a blunder to attempt to hide in death from the horrors you find inlife. 15 Tied up with this perseverance is the slippery notion of the good death, for maybe, as Blanchot warns, suicide is rarely something we can hope to get right, for the simple reason that “you cannot make of death an object of the will.” 16 “Even in cases where the entire corpus of an author is pessimistic, the project always seems incomplete,” 17 and this is not simply because the project itself belies something yet to be disclosed, but because the project itself is a thing waiting. It waits on a cure it knows will not come, but for which it cannot do anything (as long as it continues to do anything) but wait. NOTES 1. See Thomas Ligotti. The Conspiracy Against the Human Race . New York: Hippocampus Press. 2010. 91. 2. Ludwig Wittgenstein. “A Lecture on Ethics.” Philosophical Review . (74) 1. 1965. 8. 3. Vladimir Nabokov. Pale Fire . New York: Vintage. 1989. 221. 4. E. M. Cioran. The Book of Delusions . trans. Camelia Elias. Hyperion. 5.1. (2010): 75. 5. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 609. 6. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 67. 7. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 35. 8. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 68. 9. Ibid. 73. 10. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 341. 11. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 610-11. 12. B.S Johnson. “You’re Human Like the Rest of Them.” in Jonathan Coe. Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson . London: Picador. 2004. 177. 13. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 415. 14. Ibid. 199. 15. “Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem.” Anne Sexton. No Evil Star: Selected Essays, Interviews and Prose . ed. Steven Gould Axelrod. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1985. 92. 16. Maurice Blanchot. The Space of Literature . trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1989. 105. 17. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 75. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 22–28. Jeroen Mettes burst onto the Dutch poetry scene twice. First, in 2005, when he became a strong presence on the nascent Dutch poetry blogosphere overnight as he embarked on his critical project Dichtersalfabet (Poet’s Alphabet). And again in 2011, when to great critical acclaim (and some bafflement) his complete writings were published – almost five years after his far too early death. 2005 was the year in which Dutch poetry blogging exploded. That year saw the foundation (...) of the influential, polemical, and populistically inclined weblog De Contrabas (The Double Bass), which became a strong force for internet poetry in Dutch in the years to follow. In the summer of that year, a lively debate raged in the aftermath of Bas Belleman’s article “ Doet poëzie er nu eindelijk toe ?” (“Does poetry finally matter now?”), on a blog specifically devoted to this question. Up to that point, the poetical debate in the Netherlands had largely been confined to literary reviews (which were often subsidized), having become mostly marginalized in more mainstream media, where poetry could be covered by only a small number of so-called authorities. As a result, literary debate had acquired a rather placid quality. Though a variety of camps with different aesthetics could be discerned, most poetical positions shared a general acceptance of poetry as a form of art somewhat apart from fundamental political concerns. Late modernists would pursue subtlety and density of reference. Others would insist poetry was best understood as a form of entertainment that should ideally be accessible and work well on the stage. Still others would insist that poetry is mostly a play with forms. Linguistically disruptive strategies were valued highly by some, but mostly for their aesthetic effect. Values of disinterested playfulness reigned supreme everywhere. Any idea that poetry could be a field in which one confronts politics and the world was decidedly marginal. This led to a climate in which most attempts at polemics were DOA, often based on far too superficial positioning and analysis. The greatest polemical debates were revolving around the question of whether poetry should be difficult or easy, with both camps defining their ideas of difficulty and accessibility in ways that were so utterly shallow as to make the entire point moot. Debates were performed, rather than engaged with. It was a postmodern hell of underarticulated poetics. Half-consciously, people were yearning for new forms of criticism that could put the oomph back into poetry. Weblogs provided for ways to explore debate directly outside of the clotted older channels of the reviews and the newspapers. Belleman’s essay and the resulting online activity had shown that there was a widespread eagerness to take poetry more seriously as a social art form. It was in this environment that Mettes started his remarkable project Dichtersalfabet . At that moment, Mettes was active mostly in academic circles, having become noted at Leiden University as a particularly gifted student of literary theory. Within the Netherlands, the field of literary theory has a very odd relationship to literature as it is practiced in the country. Academic theory tends to have a mostly international view and engage with international debates of cultural criticism, literary theory, and philosophy, with academics often publishing in English and attending conferences around the world. Literature itself however is much more concerned with domestic traditions. Consequently, in the Netherlands, there exists a language gap between academic theoretical practice (as it is studied in the literary theory departments) and literary practice (which, academically, gets studied in specialized departments of Dutch literature). The Dichtersalfabet can be seen as Mettes’s attempt to close this gap. It is also an attempt to bridge the divide between theory and practice, in which he could apply his theoretical knowledge in a very unorthodox and unacademic critical mode that moreover could reach far beyond the domain of conventional criticism. Mettes’s goal was to trace a diagonal through Dutch poetic culture, to “strangle” what he perceived to be its dominant oppressive traditions of agreeable irrelevance, in order to see whatever might be able to survive his critical assaults. But he could only do so by means of a very serious engagement with poetry itself. To this end, he would go systematically through the poetry bookshelf of the Verwijs bookshop (part of a mainstream chain of booksellers) in The Hague, buying one publication per blog item, starting from A and working his way through the alphabet, reading whatever he might encounter that way in the restaurant of the HEMA store (another big commercial chain in the country). He would subsequently write down his reading experiences, refraining however from trying to write a nuanced book review. Rather, he would write about anything that caught his attention and sparked his critical interest. This way of working would yield vast, at times somewhat rambling, dense, lively, and generally brilliant essays, in which he held no punches. He never hesitated to pull out his entire arsenal of concepts from the international theory traditions, while never degenerating into mere academic exercise and pointless intertextualities. The attempt was rather to live the poetry that he read, and to engage it with the full range of political, academic, cultural, and personal references that he had at his disposal—all that composed the individual named Jeroen Mettes as a reader. Often what he wrote would not be according to the standards of what we usually think of as a critical review of a book of poetry. Sometimes he would even be a little sloppy in his judgments of poets or representations of the books he read, for example by basing an entire essay on the blurb of a book rather than its poetry content. But what he did was always brilliant writing nonetheless—virtuoso riffs on poetic fragments randomly found within capitalist society, exposing an incisive and insistent poetical sensibility. Mettes read poetry for political reasons, to see whether poetry could offer him a way to deal with a political world he detested. The right-wing horrors of the Bush years, the Iraq war, and the turn of Dutch public opinion towards ever more conservative, narrow-minded, and xenophobic views alongside a complete failure of the political left to present any credible alternative, were weighing heavily on the times in which Mettes reported on his reading. Poetry was to measure this world, diagram it, to lay bare its inconsistencies and faults, to indicate where lines of flight might be found. Amid the ruins of a world wrecked by imperialist policies, corporate capitalism, and doctrinal neoliberalism it would have to show the possibility of a new community. And it was, through its rhythmical workings, to release the reading subject from his confinement to ideologically conditioned individuality and lead him into the immanent paradise of reading. The stakes were high. Much higher than anything Dutch poetry had seen for many years. Mettes’s blog was widely read from the start. His posts sparked lively debates. Some of these subsequently led to the publication of extensive essays on a few key poets in some literary journals, particularly Parmentier and the Flemish journal yang , for which Mettes would become a member of the editorial board, a few months after starting the Dichtersalfabet . This could have been the start of a brilliant career, but this was not to be. The initial manic energy that fueled the blog gradually subsided. The Alfabet was updated less and less regularly. Mettes sometimes just disappeared for many weeks, then suddenly returning with a brilliant essay. Until, on September 21, 2006, he posted his final blogpost, consisting of no text whatsoever. That night I learned from his mentor at Leiden University that he had committed suicide. Mettes and I had had some fruitful exchanges on poetry, rhythm, music, and form, mostly on the blogs, but also by email. Three weeks before his death was the last time I heard from him: a very sudden, uncharacteristically curt note saying “My old new sentence epic.” Attached to that message I found a DOC-file of a work so major that I felt intimidated. This was N30 , a text he had been working on for over five years. After his death, it took me a long time before I dared to read it in its entirety. In the meantime, the work of preparing the manuscript for publication was entrusted by his relatives to his colleagues at yang magazine. It took them a few years to brush up the text and to edit the Dichtersalfabet -blog (which, apart from the Alphabet project itself, incorporated many other fragments of political, polemical, and theoretical writing) into book form along with the essays. The result of this labor was finally published in 2011 as a two-book set, and Mettes burst onto the Dutch poetry scene for the second time. The work was widely reviewed, on blogs, in journals, magazines, and newspapers. Many critics who had not followed the blogs in 2005 showed themselves surprised, baffled even, by the intensity of Mettes’s critical writing. But for those who had read the blog, the main surprise was in the poetry. During Mettes’s lifetime, some of his poems had already been published in Parmentier . Although these were strong texts by themselves, in no way did they prepare readers for N30 . Nothing like it had been written in Dutch before. Instead, N30 explicitly follows the American tradition of Language Writing, directly referencing Ron Silliman and his concept of The New Sentence. However, it would seem that much of the poetical thinking around his use of this technique puts him closer to a writer such as Bruce Andrews. For Mettes, using non sequiturs as a unit of poetic construction was not only a way of reinventing formal textual construction, but it was another way of finding the fault lines in the social fabric. From the perspective of the Language tradition, one may put N30 somewhere between Silliman and Andrews. N30 shares an autobiographical element with Silliman’s New Sentence projects, and as in Andrews, there is a concern for mapping out social totality within text—what Mettes refers to as a “textual world civil war.” Again this shows a formal textual strategy for allowing the person “Jeroen Mettes” to be absorbed by the world, which here appears as a whirlwind of demotic and demonic chatter, full of violence, humor, intensity, beauty, disgust, sex, commerce, and strife. Influenced as it may by American precursors, Mettes’s tone and form end up quite different from his American counterparts, consistently referencing a world that is Dutch, all too Dutch, taking on the oppressive orderliness of Dutch society with its endemic penchant for consensus by introducing chaos into its daily life and laying bare its implicit aggressions. The work’s 31 chapters each have a different feel and rhythmical outline, but none of them follow a predetermined pattern. Rather, Mettes would consistently edit and reedit the text, randomly rewriting parts of it, as he explains in his poetical creed Politieke Poëzie (Political Poetry). N30 – referring to the 1999 antiglobalist protest in Seattle – was to be the first text of a trilogy. The work itself was written “in the mode of the present.” A second text was to be written in the mode of the future, and a third one, in the mode of the past, was going to be an epic poem about the Paris Commune, and to form an alternative poetic constitution for the European project. I still deeply regret that Jeroen Mettes never got to complete those projects, just as I would be very keen on knowing what he might have had to say about more recent political developments. Instead, in 2006, he remained stuck in the horrors of the present, that ended up consuming him completely. He left Dutch literature with some of its most piercing criticism and its most profoundly moving, exciting and powerful poetry. Excerpts from N30 Translated by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei from Jeroen Mettes. "N30." In N30+ . Amsterdam: De wereldbibliotheek, 2011. Published with permission of Uitgeverij Wereldbibliotheek, Amsterdam. Chapter 1 1999. A day is a space too. And another man, who had chained himself, had his ribs crushed, and a motor has driven over somebody’s legs. Dutch health care system spends ±145 million guilders per year on worriers. A spiderweb vibrates as I pass by. Randstad renovating. She slaps her bag against her ass: “Hurry up!” OPINION IS TRUE FRIENDSHIP Your skin. It doesn’t express anything. “But the use of the sword, that’s what I learned, and you’ll need nothing more for the moment.” Just try to interrogate a guy like that. Gullit in Sierra Leone. Codes silently lying all around. But that’s simply what belongs to “that it’s just allowed”: that sigh of “world” (a word expressing that the trees are now standing along the water like black men with white bags in their hair); that’s nothing else right? And you see how everything has to move, and first of all what cannot do so. Without Elysium and without savings, barbarians lashing out, horny for an enemy, staring across the water, staring into the air—staring to get out of it. “You’ve never showed me more than the mall,” she said. All those “dreams” in the end—and now? It was lying on the stairway, so I picked it up and took it upstairs. Chapter 3 “You know what?” Telecommunication. For love… I don’t really like that cheap cultural pessimism, but… The holy city is on pilgrimage in the earthly bodies of the faithful until the time of the heavenly kingdom has come. The end of an exhausting autumn day behind the computer, my eyes filled with tears of fatigue. KITCHEN / INSTALLATION / SPECIALIST. Network integration. In the sun, stretched out on a sheet. (…) I don’t believe what I’m reading, because I want to believe something else. An illusion? Suits me. There’s a variety of shapes and tastes… “So what?” you may think. 102 dalmatians can’t be wrong. But I want more, dear… A feel good movie. I’m smashing the burned body. So what? We continue to save the European civilization. What’s there to win? Plato with poets = Stalin without gulag? Ball against the crossbar. No wonder. She comes straight to her point. She’s standing in the kitchen eating an apple. (…) The godless Napoleon had used her as a stable and wanted to have her taken down. “Our” Rutger Hauer. Ready or not here I come. Psst… are you also wearing a string? Nobody understands our desire. Cliffs breaking the waves and shattering the sunset. I used to be a real romantic (as a poet). A typical fantasy used to be the one in which I brutally raped mother and daughter Seaver from the sitcom Growing Pains . Nevertheless you only contain bad words. Eyelashes. Automatic or manual? That your skin always in the afternoon. Integration. The air is empty. Too bad! Hand in hand on their lonely way. Alaska! Chapter 12 May 5, 2001 [10:00-10:30] A dust cloud on a hill. Globe. Indian (British) (tie) / pope. Damascus. Rape. We’re carrying the ayatollah’s portrait through the streets. At the moment the girl is mostly suede jacket with white ribbons on her sleeves. A small explosion flares up/impact. Camouflage. Close up. We’re analyzing the situation. He’s dead right? Dead dead. Dead. Everything without, these, and only with the body. Indices signal death. Dollar bills are printed in factories. Holes. Light patch. Globe in a box. Microphone. What’s the situation? Grey impact on a green hill (field?). The water is blue. He has no lips. Interns on the background with skirts that are too long. This is an example of a sonnet. An Islamic woman pushes against the door of an electronics shop. Arrows (percentages (prices)). Is this what awaits the American? Touch screen interface. The word, an island, can only be a sign in that situation. We pull up a chair, join in on the fun. On the shelves only books about computers. One glance in the distance is enough to lighten up a luna park in the distance. She’s really desperate, especially when she laughs. Click. Ah. Next. And now it’s raining, but that’s ok. Yellow stains sliding over the south. Shallow caves light: clothes, boots, electrical equipment. 45. 22:10. Nothing gives you the right to eat more than people starving to death. The Hague. Slam dunk. Traffic light. Two H’s, one L (standing for the L (little prick)). We’re happy to say something. Clouds, small suns, temperatures, cities. The truth is never an excuse. Yellow. Yellow. Green. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Green. Green. Yellow. Will you email me? Skeleton: “No.” Ex-nerds in brand-new and brightly red sport cars. $$$. I love. Shihab. Hooves in the sand. Skinny senior with over-sized sunglasses; old jockey (cap, trophy) smiling in slow motion. And there I am again, flashback, crying with my head in between my hands. Sometimes I’ve got the feeling that cannibals. Eyes: blue. Cancer. Why would I wait until tomorrow? Golden beams protruding from the lifted/lit earth. May 5, 2001 [11:30-12:45] You’ll remember this for the rest of your life. Graphs, diagrams. Bu$ine$$. Blue shirt, white collar, no neck (porn star). A name lights up. I’m hysteric. Will you join us? Letters falling in their words. Fingers set up a tent and start to dance. Young entrepreneurs from poor neighborhoods (read: black) guided by Microsoft. Kinda makes me happy, that sort of kitsch. A sense of exhaustion/impotence to see anything but the present. (…) Wouldn’t you like to? Orange explosion in an industrial zone. YOU’RE DOING THIS FOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. Would you. A familiar face. Clouds and blossom. Sunflowers. Supermodels. Mountainous area in a rectangle: shades of brown, from dark to beige, more green toward the south. Tents and next to them (it’s all a blur) people. Plane. Stadium. Geometrical block of people. No, I ain’t crying. I don’t speak no more. I just want. Quote + photo. (Positive:) screaming crowd. Three-piece suit, seen from the back, before entering the arena. On the back: “Daddy abused me.” Oh, bummer. State of emergency has been declared and everyone has to cooperate. She’s cut her wrists. What we do know (…) is that there’s never been a unique word, an imperative name, nor will there ever be. [Click here for work that suits you.] Barefooted children are watching it (coherent pieces revelation of what’s lying below). Who knows how she’s changed during those two years. “Everything used to be better” + sigh. And here we are. An empty field of parquet. A city lying behind it. Explosion. Blue. A rain drop falling in my coffee. May 5, 2001 [14:30-15:30] A young Arafat on video speaking with raised finger. “I’m calling from my convertible.” Names on walls, victims, numbers… Tourists. Yellow. Yellow. “Your own child! Really, what kind of human are you?” I don’t want to hear it no more. A woman jumping out of the water in a yellow bikini against a background of fireworks and the Cheops pyramid. Thy sorrow shall become good fortune, thy complaints laudation. All planets will float and wander. Wo die Welt zum Bild wird, kommt das System (…) zur Herrschaft. It is something, but is it? May 5, 2001 [18:30-19:00] Iris. Leaves. NASDAQ. Open / and white and. For the one who’s doing nothing, just waiting. (…) NO DEFEAT is made entirely up of defeat -- since / the world it opens is always a place / formerly / unsuspected. October 2002. “Jeroen, I’m leaving for the cemetery, byeeee.” The rise of the middle class. My entire oeuvre is an ode to the. My entire head is a fight against the. God always demands what you cannot sacrifice. You may take that the easy way, but… “The state hasn’t made us, but we make the state” (Hitler). A stork exits the elevator. Skeletons of. Moscow. Helsinki. Palermo. Paris. Chapter 30 Like your paradises: nothing. United Desire, as only remaining superpower. And even though the sea is now calmer and the wind is blowing pleasantly in my face… Heart! Who determines whether a tradition is “alive”? The yellow leaf or the white branch? Mars. This sentence is a typical example. Most Dutch people are happy. No consolation. When I see a girl sitting at a table with a book, a notepad, a pen, a bottle of mineral water, her hand writing in the light—then I consider that one thing. “Presents,” “poetry,” “classics.” We are what we cannot make from ourselves. “Left”: mendicant orders, missionaries. Saint-Just: “A republic is founded on the destruction of its enemies.” She crosses the street with a banana peel between her fingers. (…) We chose our own wardens, torturers, it was us who called all this insanity upon ourselves, we created this nightmare… But “no”? Girl (just like a beach ball) talking rapid Spanish (Portuguese?) in a mobile phone. Do I have a chance now that her boyfriend is getting bold? CLIO, horny bitch. What else do you want? An old woman, between the doors of the C1000, is suddenly unable to go on; her husband stretches out his hand, speaking a few encouraging words. Selection from. Der Führer schenkt den Jüden ein Stadt. How can it reach us if we haven’t been already reached somehow? It doesn’t “speak.” No problem. Each word she uses is a small miracle, as if she doesn’t belong to it, to language, but wanders around with a pocket light looking for the exit; she’s never desperate (maybe a little nervous), lighting up heavy words from the inside. But indeed, we’re free. But the predicate is not an attribute, but an event, and the subject is not a subject, but a shell. That’s why also samurai, knights, and warriors raised the blossom as emblem: they knew how to die. Locked up in a baby carriage with a McDonald’s balloon. Blue helicopter, the blue sky. Whether you want to refer? The point is. How / Motherfucker can I sing a sad song / When I remember Zion? You’ll feel so miserable and worthless that you think: “If only I were dead!,” or: “Just put an end to it!” “So you’re an economist?” Her card—two little birds building a nest, her handwriting shaking—is still on the mantelpiece. Guevara: “No, a communist.” A straw fire, such was our life: rapidly it flared up, rapidly it passed. I’m fleeing, coming from nowhere. (…) Eazy-E drinking coffee with the American president. If I’d scream, would that be an event? Drown it: the cleaner it will rise up from the depths. No! The night, so fast… As if there’s something opened up in that face. Come on, we may not curse life. He shows me his methadone: “If you drink that all at once, you’ll die instantly.” The last one dictates how we should behave to deserve happiness. One shine / above the earth. “I want to go to Bosnia,” I said bluntly. I don’t even know the name of the current mayor. Let’s despise our success! “There is no future; this is the future. Hope is a weakness that we've overcome. We have found happiness!” Sun. Sushi. Volvo. I feel like a bomb about to explode at any moment. Makes a difference for the reconstruction right? The decor moves forward. Daughter of Nereus, you nymphs of the sea, and you Thetis, you should have kept his tired head above the waves! Alas! This sentence has been written wearing a green cap. I receive my orders from the future. A frog jumps into it. Her husband has turned the Intifada, which he follows daily on CCN, into his hobby, “to forget that he doesn’t have his driver’s license yet." Suddenly the sun slides over the crosswalk. Her (his?) foot is playing with the slipper under the table. Is this how I’m writing this book now? I’m not a fellow man. I hate you and I want to hurt you. These are my people. Their screaming doesn’t rise above the constantly wailing sirens which we've learned to ignore. My whole body became warm and suddenly started to tremble. Unfortunate is he who is standing on the threshold of the most beautiful time, but awaits a better one. Arafat’s “removal” is contrary to American interests. Jeep drives into boy. What you can do alone, you should do alone. A food gift from the people of the United States of America. Two seagulls. [...]. (shrink)
The question of the constituting nature of colour is largely open. The old dispute between colour objectivism and colour subjectivism is still relevant. The former has defended itself against accusations of not being able to explain colour structures, while the latter view has received criticism for not being able to provide a plausible theory of the location of colours. By weakening the notion of physical categories, making some of them perceiver-depended, colour objectivists have managed to overcome at least some of (...) the previous accusations. However, the arguments based on Crane's and Piantanida's findings of the existence of binary colours like greenish-red and yellowish-blue, indicate the inadequacy of colour objectivism. Consequently, we have colours but our theories of them are false. (shrink)
The ability to distinguish between high and low levels of task engagement in the real world is important for detecting and preventing performance decrements during safety-critical operational tasks. We therefore investigated whether functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), a portable brain neuroimaging technique, can be used to distinguish between high and low levels of task engagement during the performance of a selective attention task. A group of participants performed the multi-source interference task (MSIT) while we recorded brain activity with fNIRS from (...) two brain regions. One was a key region of the “task-positive” network, which is associated with relatively high levels of task engagement. The second was a key region of the “task-negative” network, which is associated with relatively low levels of task engagement (e.g., resting and not performing a task). Using activity in these regions as inputs to a multivariate pattern classifier, we were able to predict above chance levels whether subjects were engaged in performing the MSIT or resting. We were also able to replicate prior findings from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) indicating that activity in task-positive and task-negative regions is negatively correlated during task performance. Finally, data from a companion fMRI study verified our assumptions about the sources of brain activity in the fNIRS experiment and established an upper bound on classification accuracy in our task. Together, our findings suggest that fNIRS could prove quite useful for monitoring cognitive state in real-world settings. (shrink)
Recently, William H. Dutton has argued that a new form of public space is emerging in what he calling the Fifth Estate. For his, Internet could be as important – if not more so – to the 21st century as the Fourth Estate has been since the 18th. Well, according to Dutton, this paper analyzes and critically reviews Habermas’s conception of the emergency and modern transformation of the public sphere. Finally, it proposes the institutionalization of the Virtual Parliamentary Group.
A dual referent approach to colour theory maintains that colour names have two intended, equally legitimate referents. For example, one might argue that ‘red’ refers both to red appearances or qualia, and also to the way red objects reflect light, the spectral surface reflectance properties of red things. I argue that normal cases of perceptual relativity can be used to support a dual referent approach, yielding an understanding of colour whose natural extension includes abnormal cases of perceptual relativity. This contrasts (...) with Peacocke’s multi-referent view, according to which such abnormal cases force us to introduce a wholly distinct kind of colour experience. I also argue that the two uses of colour names, arising from their two referents, have different extensions, even in normal perceptual circumstances, a consequence which conflicts with the heart of Rosenthal’s dual referent view. (shrink)
The DSM-III, DSM-IV, DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10 have judiciously minimized discussion of etiologies to distance clinical psychiatry from Freudian psychoanalysis. With this goal mostly achieved, discussion of etiological factors should be reintroduced into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). A research agenda for the DSM-V advocated the "development of a pathophysiologically based classification system". The author critically reviews the neuroevolutionary literature on stress-induced and fear circuitry disorders and related amygdala-driven, species-atypical fear behaviors of clinical severity in (...) adult humans. Over 30 empirically testable/falsifiable predictions are presented. It is noted that in DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10, the classification of stress and fear circuitry disorders is neither mode-of-acquisition-based nor brain-evolution-based. For example, snake phobia (innate) and dog phobia (overconsolidational) are clustered together. Similarly, research on blood-injection-injury-type-specific phobia clusters two fears different in their innateness: 1) an arguably ontogenetic memory-trace-overconsolidation-based fear (hospital phobia) and 2) a hardwired (innate) fear of the sight of one's blood or a sharp object penetrating one's skin. Genetic architecture-charting of fear-circuitry-related traits has been challenging. Various, non-phenotype-based architectures can serve as targets for research. In this article, the author will propose one such alternative genetic architecture. This article was inspired by the following: A) Nesse's "Smoke-Detector Principle", B) the increasing suspicion that the "smooth" rather than "lumpy" distribution of complex psychiatric phenotypes (including fear-circuitry disorders) may in some cases be accounted for by oligogenic (and not necessarily polygenic) transmission, and C) insights from the initial sequence of the chimpanzee genome and comparison with the human genome by the Chimpanzee Sequencing and Analysis Consortium published in late 2005. Neuroevolutionary insights relevant to fear circuitry symptoms that primarily emerge overconsolidationally (especially Combat related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) are presented. Also introduced is a human-evolution-based principle for clustering innate fear traits. The "Neuroevolutionary Time-depth Principle" of innate fears proposed in this article may be useful in the development of a neuroevolution-based taxonomic re-clustering of stress-triggered and fear-circuitry disorders in DSM-V. Four broad clusters of evolved fear circuits are proposed based on their time-depths: 1) Mesozoic (mammalian-wide) circuits hardwired by wild-type alleles driven to fixation by Mesozoic selective sweeps; 2) Cenozoic (simian-wide) circuits relevant to many specific phobias; 3) mid Paleolithic and upper Paleolithic (Homo sapiens-specific) circuits (arguably resulting mostly from mate-choice-driven stabilizing selection); 4) Neolithic circuits (arguably mostly related to stabilizing selection driven by gene-culture co-evolution). More importantly, the author presents evolutionary perspectives on warzone-related PTSD, Combat-Stress Reaction, Combat-related Stress, Operational-Stress, and other deployment-stress-induced symptoms. The Neuroevolutionary Time-depth Principle presented in this article may help explain the dissimilar stress-resilience levels following different types of acute threat to survival of oneself or one's progency (aka DSM-III and DSM-V PTSD Criterion-A events). PTSD rates following exposure to lethal inter-group violence (combat, warzone exposure or intentionally caused disasters such as terrorism) are usually 5-10 times higher than rates following large-scale natural disasters such as forest fires, floods, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. The author predicts that both intentionally-caused large-scale bioevent-disasters, as well as natural bioevents such as SARS and avian flu pandemics will be an exception and are likely to be followed by PTSD rates approaching those that follow warzone exposure. During bioevents, Amygdala-driven and locus-coeruleus-driven epidemic pseudosomatic symptoms may be an order of magnitude more common than infection-caused cytokine-driven symptoms. Implications for the red cross and FEMA are discussed. It is also argued that hospital phobia as well as dog phobia, bird phobia and bat phobia require re-taxonomization in DSM-V in a new "overconsolidational disorders" category anchored around PTSD. The overconsolidational spectrum category may be conceptualized as straddling the fear circuitry spectrum disorders and the affective spectrum disorders categories, and may be a category for which Pitman's secondary prevention propranolol regimen may be specifically indicated as a "morning after pill" intervention. Predictions are presented regarding obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (e.g., female-pattern hoarding vs. male-pattern hoarding) and "culture-bound" acute anxiety symptoms (taijin-kyofusho, koro, shuk yang, shook yong, suo yang, rok-joo, jinjinia-bemar, karoshi, gwarosa, Voodoo death). Also discussed are insights relevant to pseudoneurological symptoms and to the forthcoming Dissociative-Conversive disorders category in DSM-V, including what the author terms fright-triggered acute pseudo-localized symptoms (i.e., pseudoparalysis, pseudocerebellar imbalance, psychogenic blindness, pseudoseizures, and epidemic sociogenic illness). Speculations based on studies of the human abnormal-spindle-like, microcephaly-associated (ASPM) gene, the microcephaly primary autosomal recessive (MCPH) gene, and the forkhead box p2 (FOXP2) gene are made and incorporated into what is termed "The pre-FOXP2 Hypothesis of Blood-Injection-Injury Phobia." Finally, the author argues for a non-reductionistic fusion of "distal (evolutionary) neurobiology" with clinical "proximal neurobiology," utilizing neurological heuristics. It is noted that the value of re-clustering fear traits based on behavioral ethology, human-phylogenomics-derived endophenotypes and on ontogenomics (gene-environment interactions) can be confirmed or disconfirmed using epidemiological or twin studies and psychiatric genomics. (shrink)
Everything red is colored, and all squares are polygons. A square is distinguished from other polygons by being four-sided, equilateral, and equiangular. What distinguishes red things from other colored things? This has been understood as a conceptual rather than scientific question. Theories of wavelengths and reflectance and sensory processing are not considered. Given just our ordinary understanding of color, it seems that what differentiates red from other colors is only redness itself. The Cambridge logician W. E. Johnson introduced the terms (...) determinate and determinable to apply to examples such as red and colored. Chapter XI, of Johnson's Logic, Part I (1921), “The Determinate and the Determinable,” is the main text for discussion of this distinction. (shrink)
Philosophers have had difficulty in explaining the difference between disjunctive and non-disjunctive predicates. Purely syntactical criteria are ineffective, and mention of resemblance begs the question. I draw the distinction by reference to relations between borderline cases. The crucial point about the disjoint predicate 'red or green', for example, is that no borderline case of 'red' is a borderline case of 'green'. Other varieties of disjunctive predicates are: inclusively disjunctive (such as 'red or hard'), disconnected (such as 'grue' on the usual (...) definitions), and skew (such as 'grue' on an emended definition). 'Green' is not a disjunctive predicate. Nelson Goodman's new riddle of induction elicits yet another response. (shrink)
“Symmetrical predicates” have distinctive linguistic properties in many languages. But the concept of “symmetry” merits closer examination. Consider the surprising claim by the psychologist Amos Tversky (1977) that the concept ‘similar’, a standard example of a symmetrical predicate, is in fact not symmetrical. Tversky’s evidence includes the fact that experimental subjects generally rate (1a) as holding to a higher degree than (1b). (1) a. North Korea is similar to Red China. b. Red China is similar to North Korea.
Studies of coexistence are based ultimately on the assumption that competitive exclusion is a general and accredited phenomenon in nature. However, the ecological and evolutionary impact of interspecific competition is of questionable significance. Review of three reputed examples of competitive exclusion in the field (Aphytis wasps, red and grey squirrels, and triclads) demonstrates that the widely-accepted competition-based interpretations are unlikely, that alternative explanations are overlooked, and that all other reported cases need critical reinvestigation. Although interspecific competition does undoubtedly occur, the (...) evidence suggests it is usually too weak and intermittent a force to achieve competitive exclusion or any other ecologically-significant result, except perhaps rarely and on a minor scale. Coexistence and community structure are therefore not ecological conditions to be especially accounted for, especially since their inherently comparative methods generate information that is largely superficial. Alternative questions that relate directly to species, the units of diversity, are discussed and they emphasize the primary habitat requirements of species, which are fixed during speciation. Neither the comparative approach of coexistence studies, nor the investigation of pattern is likely to be profitable, since the acquisition of species-specific characteristics during speciation requires historical research. At least one alternative theory of ecology, based on the close adaptation of organisms to the environment, is available. (shrink)
We all believe an unbounded number of things about the way the world is and about the way the world works. For example, I believe that if I move this book into the other room, it will not change color -- unless there is a paint shower on the way, unless I carry an umbrella through that shower, and so on; I believe that large red trucks at high speeds can hurt me, that trucks with polka dots can hurt me, (...) and so on; that if I move this book, the room will stay in place -- unless there is a pressure switch under the book attached to a bomb, unless the switch communicates to the bomb by radio and there is shielding in the way, and so on; that the moon is not made of green cheese, that the moon is not made of caviar, that the moon is not made of gold, and so on. The problems involved in accounting for such infinite proliferations of beliefs -- and the computations and inferences that take them into account -- are collectively called the Frame Problems, and are considered by some to constitute a major discovery of a new philosophical problem. How could we possibly learn them all? How could the brain possibly hold them all? The problems appear insoluble, impossible. Yet we all learn and hold such unbounded numbers of beliefs; in particular, children do. Something must be wrong. I wish to argue that the frame problem arises from a fundamental presupposition about the nature of representation -- a false presupposition. Yet, it is a presupposition that dominates contemporary developmental psychology (and psychology more broadly, and cognitive science, artificial intelligence, philosophy of mind, and so on). In particular, I will offer an alternative model of the nature of representation within which the frame problem does not arise -- within which such unboundedness is natural. (shrink)
The mid-1880s, like the mid-1870s, were a time of considerable turmoil for American workers. Unemployment and wage cuts were widespread and workers responded with strikes, boycotts, union organizing, local labor tickets, and a bewildering variety of reform schemes and ideologies. Perhaps the central event of the 1880s was the Haymarket incident. The bomb and subsequent trial had a broad historical impact, sparking a red scare, blunting the eight-hour movement, establishing the stereotype of anarchists as wildeyed, foreign bombthrowers, and intensifying calls (...) for immigration restriction. (shrink)
Recent research indicates a direct relationship between low-level color features and visual attention under natural conditions. However, the design of these studies allows only correlational observations and no inference about mechanisms. Here we go a step further to examine the nature of the influence of color features on overt attention in an environment in which trichromatic color vision is advantageous. We recorded eye-movements of color-normal and deuteranope human participants freely viewing original and modified rainforest images. Eliminating red-green color information dramatically (...) alters fixation behavior in color-normal participants. Changes in feature correlations and variability over subjects and conditions provide evidence for a causal effect of red-green color contrast. The effects of blue-yellow contrast are much smaller. However, globally rotating hue in color space in these images reveals a mechanism analyzing color contrast invariant of a specific axis in color space. Surprisingly, in deuteranope participants we found significantly elevated red-green contrast at fixation points, comparable to color-normal participants. Temporal analysis indicates that this is due to compensatory mechanisms acting on a slower time scale. Taken together, our results suggest that under natural conditions red-green color information contributes to overt attention at a low level (bottom-up). Nevertheless, the results of the image modifications and deuteranope participants indicate that evaluation of color information is done in a hue-invariant fashion. (shrink)
The development of the typical cladomothallus of the red algae Antithaminion plumula (Ellis) Le Jolis [= Pterothamnion plumula (Ellis) Nägcli], (Rhodophyceae, Ceramiales) is simulated with the help of a formal language called L-systems. Two types of uniseriate filaments are distinguished: axial filaments of cladomes with indefinite growth and branching and pleuridia with definite growth and branching. The rythmical acropetal formation of secondary axes with basitonic arrangement contrasts with the intercalary basitonic formation of pleuridia, resulting in an acrotonic arrangement within an (...) axial segment. Five types of cells and two types of cell divisions intervene in the system. In addition, for the graphical representations, some morphological particularities of A. plumula are taken into account: the curvature of axial filaments, the extension of growth zones, variable cell generation times, and segment length variability along an axis. The incidence of these variables on the generated thallus form is emphasized, pointing to the singularities of A. plumula. (shrink)
When we say a certain rose is red, we seem to be attributing a property, redness, to it. But are there really such properties? If so, what are they like, how do we know about them, and how are they related to the objects which have them and the linguistic devices which we use to talk about them? This collection presents these ancient problems in a modern light. In particular, it makes accessible for the first time the most important contributions (...) to the contemporary controversy about the nature of properties. Those new to the subject will find the clearly-written introduction, by two experts in the field, an invaluable guide to the intricacies of this debate. The volume illustrates very well the aims and methods of modern metaphysics and show how a thorough understanding of the metaphysics of properties is crucial to most of analytic philosophy. (shrink)