Monday, 30 October 2000

From "The Ideology of Development"

By William Easterly.

Just as Marxists favored world revolution and socialist internationalism, Development stresses world goals over the autonomy of societies to choose their own path. It favors doctrinaire abstractions such as "market-friendly policies," "good investment climate," and "pro-poor globalization" over the freedom of individuals.

Development also shares another Marxist trait: It aspires to be scientific. Finding the one correct solution to poverty is seen as a scientific problem to be solved by the experts. They are always sure they know the answer, vehemently reject disagreement, and then later change their answers. In psychiatry, this is known as Borderline Personality Disorder. For the Development Experts, it’s a way of life.

Sunday, 29 October 2000

From "Politics as a Vocation"

By Max Weber.

'Every state is founded on force,' said Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutions existed which knew the use of violence, then the concept of 'state' would be eliminated, and a condition would emerge that could be designated as 'anarchy,' in the specific sense of this word. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the only means of the state -- nobody says that -- but force is a means specific to the state. Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions -- beginning with the sib -- have known the use of physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that 'territory' is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the 'right' to use violence. Hence, 'politics' for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state.

Saturday, 28 October 2000

From "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"

By Max Weber.

On the other hand, however, we have no intention whatever of maintaining such a foolish and doctrinaire thesis [...] as that the spirit of capitalism (in the provisional sense of the term explained above) could only have arisen as the result of certain effects of the Reformation, or even that capitalism as an economic system is a creation of the Reformation. In itself, the fact that certain important forms of capitalistic business organization are known to be considerably older than the Reformation is a sufficient refutation of such a claim. On the contrary, we only wish to ascertain whether and to what extent religious forces have taken part in the qualitative formation and the quantitative expansion of that spirit over the world. Furthermore, what concrete aspects of our capitalistic culture can be traced to them? In view of the tremendous confusion of interdependent influences between the material basis, the forms of social and political organization, and the ideas current in the time of the Reformation, we can only proceed by investigating whether and at what points certain correlations between forms of religious belief and practical ethics can be worked out. At the same time we shall as far as possible clarify the manner and the general direction in which, by virtue of those relationships, the religious movements have influenced the development of material culture. Only when this has been determined with reasonable accuracy can the attempt be made to estimate to what extent the historical development of modern culture can be attributed to those religious forces and to what extent to others.

From "Paradise Lost"

By John Milton.

Only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable, add faith,
Add virtue, patience, temperance, add love,
By name to come call'd charity, the soul
Of all the rest; then wilt thou not be loath
To leave this Paradise, but shall possess
A Paradise within thee, happier far.

Friday, 27 October 2000

From "Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World"

By Jonathan Swift.

The first professor I saw, was in a very large room, with forty pupils about him. After salutation, observing me to look earnestly upon a frame, which took up the greatest part of both the length and breadth of the room, he said, "Perhaps I might wonder to see him employed in a project for improving speculative knowledge, by practical and mechanical operations. But the world would soon be sensible of its usefulness; and he flattered himself, that a more noble, exalted thought never sprang in any other man's head. Every one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study." He then led me to the frame, about the sides, whereof all his pupils stood in ranks. It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of the room. The superfices was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language, in their several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order. The professor then desired me "to observe; for he was going to set his engine at work." The pupils, at his command, took each of them hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole disposition of the words was entirely changed. He then commanded six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to the four remaining boys, who were scribes. This work was repeated three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square bits of wood moved upside down.

Tuesday, 24 October 2000

From "The Elementary Forms of Religious Life"

By Emile Durkheim.

[...] religion is something eminently social. Religious representations are collective representations which express collective realities; the rites are a manner of acting which take rise in the midst of the assembled groups and which are destined to excite, maintain or recreate certain mental states in these groups. So if the categories [e.g. time, space, substance, class, number, cause] are of religious origin, they ought to participate in this nature common to all religious facts; they too should be social affairs and the product of collective thought [...]

From "The Division of Labour in Society"

By Emile Durkheim, trans. George Simpson.

The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to average citizens of the same society forms a determinate system which has its own life; one may call it the collective or common conscience. No doubt, it has not a specific organ as a substratum; it is, by definition, diffuse in every reach of society. Nevertheless, it has specific characteristics which make it a distinct reality. It is, in effect, independent of the particular conditions in which individuals are placed; they pass on and it remains. Moreover, it does not change with each generation, but, on the contrary, it connects successive generations with one another. It is thus an entirely different thing from particular consciences, although it can be realised only through them.

Sunday, 22 October 2000

From "Critique of the Gotha Programme"

By Karl Marx.

Labour is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much a source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labour which is itself only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labour power [...]

From "The Division of Labour in Society"

By Emile Durkheim trans. George Simpson.

This law definitely plays a role in society analogous to that played by the nervous system in the organism. The latter has as its task, in effect, the regulation of the different functions of the body in such a way as make them harmonise. It thus very naturally expresses the state of concentration at which the organism has arrived, in accordance with the division of physiological labour. Thus, on different levels of the animal scale, we can measure the degree of this concentration according to the development of the nervous system. Which is to say that we can equally measure the degree of concentration at which society has arrived in accordance with the division of social labour according to the development of cooperative law with restitutive sanctions. We can foresee the great services that this criterion will render us.

Thursday, 19 October 2000

From "The Mind Doesn't Work That Way"

By Jerry Fodor.

A psychology (rationalist, empiricist, or whatever) needs to do more than just enunciate the laws it claims that mental processes obey. It also needs to explain what kind of thing a mind could be such that those laws are true of it; which is once again to say that it needs to specify a mechanism. Empiricists hold, more or less explicitly, that typical psychological laws are generalizations that specify how causal relations among mental states alter as a function of a creature's experience. Associationism provided empiricists with an explanation of why such generalizations hold, namely, that they are all special cases of the associative laws, which are themselves presumed to be innate [...] By contrast, a rationalist psychology says that typical laws about the mind specify ways in which the logical forms of a mental state determines its role in mental processes. So a rationalist is in need of a theory about how a mental process could be sensitive to the logical form of mental states. This theory can't, of course, be associationistic, since associative relations among mental states are supposed to hold not in virtue of logical form, but rather in virtue of statistical facts about (e.g.) how often they have occured together, or how often their occurring together has lead to reinforcement, etc. Turing's notion of computation provides exactly what a rationalist cognitive scientist needs to fill this gap: It does for rationalists what the laws of association would have done for empiricists if only associationism had be true.

***

From "The Elementary Forms of Religious Life"

By Emile Durkheim.

Thus we arrive at our following definition: A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden - beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a church, all those who adhere to them. The second element which thus finds a place in our definition is no less essential than the first; for by showing that the idea of religion is inseparable from that of the Church, it makes it clear that religion should be an eminently collective thing [...]

From "The Division of Labour in Society"

By Emile Durkheim.

Solidarity which comes from likeness is at its maximum when the collective conscience completely envelops our whole conscience and coincides in all points with it […] at the moment when this solidarity exercises its force, our personality vanishes […] for we are no longer ourselves, but the collective life.

The social molecules which can be coherent in this way can act together only in the measure that they have no actions of their own, as the molecules of inorganic bodies. That is why we propose to call this type of solidarity mechanical. The term does not signify that it is produced by mechanical and artificial means. We call it that only by analogy to the cohesion which unites the elements of an inanimate body, as opposed to that which makes a unity out of the elements of a living body […]

From "The Wealth of Nations"

By John Locke.

Sec. 134. THE great end of men's entering into society, being the enjoyment of their properties in peace and safety, and the great instrument and means of that being the laws established in that society; the first and fundamental positive law of all common-wealths is the establishing of the legislative power; as the first and fundamental natural law, which is to govern even the legislative itself, is the preservation of the society, and (as far as will consist with the public good) of every person in it. This legislative is not only the supreme power of the common-wealth, but sacred and unalterable in the hands where the community have once placed it; nor can any edict of any body else, in what form soever conceived, or by what power soever backed, have the force and obligation of a law, which has not its sanction from that legislative which the public has chosen and appointed: for without this the law could not have that, which is absolutely necessary to its being a law, [...] the consent of the society, over whom no body can have a power to make laws, but by their own consent, and by authority received from them; and therefore all the obedience, which by the most solemn ties any one can be obliged to pay, ultimately terminates in this supreme power, and is directed by those laws which it enacts: nor can any oaths to any foreign power whatsoever, or any domestic subordinate power, discharge any member of the society from his obedience to the legislative, acting pursuant to their trust; nor oblige him to any obedience contrary to the laws so enacted, or farther than they do allow; it being ridiculous to imagine one can be tied ultimately to obey any power in the society, which is not the supreme.

Wednesday, 18 October 2000

From "Panels for the Walls of Heaven"

By Kenneth Patchen.

They fill my eyes with tears -- the things I love.
Suppose they are nothing -- They are all I have.

From "The Division of Labour in Society"

By Emile Durkheim.

It is quite otherwise with the solidarity which the division of labour produces. Whereas the previous type [mechanical solidarity] implies that individuals resemble each other, this type [organic solidarity] presumes their difference […] each one has a sphere of action which is peculiar to him; that is, a personality […] on the one hand, each one depends as much more strictly on society as labour is more divided; and, on the other, the activity of each is as much more personal as it is more specialised […]

This solidarity resembles that which we observe among the higher animals. Each organ, in effect, has its special physiognomy, its autonomy. And, moreover, the unity of the organism is as great as the individuation of the parts is more marked. Because of his analogy, we propose to call the solidarity which is due to the division of labour, organic.

Tuesday, 17 October 2000

Random Shifts

By Trevor Joyce.

The hunt, with its frequent shifts and switches, its random* and idiosyncratic animal movements, its diverging multiple paths, opposes quantification, logic, stillness. Only through specifics is it worth. Consider that the best scent is that which is occasioned by the effluvia, or particles of scent, which are constantly perspiring from the desiderata as it flees, and are strongest and most favorable to the pursuant pack, when kept by the gravity of the air to the height of the breast; for then it neither is above their reach, nor is it necessary they should stoop for it. At such times, scent is said to lie at the heart, and is convenient. But this is only a slight part, for the chase comprises three distinct elements: the practical reason of the hunter, the instinct of the quarry, and the trap. We do not measure here our success in terms of truth, but in blood and experience.

* Randonnée: hunting term; the name of the course that hunters take in pursuit of their game

From "What's in Store"

By Trevor Joyce.

The truth
I dreamed
I craved
sweet fruit.

From "What's in Store"

By Trevor Joyce.

At the heart
of the mountain
seams of silver
shine.

Eat up, drink up,
enjoy yourselves,
while yet our shining
world survives.

Sunday, 15 October 2000

From "No History of Ideas, Please, We're Economists"

By Mark Blaug.

What Adam Smith meant by competition is what modern Austrians call "process competition." What we nowadays call competition was for him "the obvious and simple system of natural liberty," meaning an absence of artificial restraints and, in particular, restraints on free entry into industries and occupations. Neither competition nor monopoly was a matter of the number of sellers in a market; monopoly did not imply a single seller but a situation of less-than-perfect factor mobility and hence inelastic supply; and the opposite of competition was not monopoly but cooperation. In short, competition denoted that pattern of business behavior which we conjure up by the verb "to compete:" to invade profitable industries, to expand one's share of the market by price cutting, and to jockey for advantage by any and all possible means. It was Auguste Cournot who in 1838 first invented the idea of perfect competition as a market structure in which business firms are so numerous that each firm must take price as given, being free only to adjust the quantity it produced. Not only was this conception of firms as "price takers" rather than "price makers" totally foreign to the way Adam Smith and all subsequent classical economists thought about competition, but to imagine that the "dynamic efficiency" which they clearly ascribed to the competitive process is exactly the same thing as the "static efficiency" of Pareto and Arrow-Debreu is to pile travesty on travesty (Hutchison, 1999).

From "Darwin Fallen among Political Economists"

By Donald Winch.

[Houghton] was in no doubt that the theory of natural selection advanced by Darwin in the Origin of Species [1859] was "borrowed from Malthus's doctrine of Population [1798]," and that it would therefore "find acceptance with those Political Economists and Pseudo-Philosophers who reduce all the laws of action and human thought habitually to the lowest and most sordid motive." [...] Darwin was being tarred with a "Malthusian" brush based on an uncomplimentary understanding of Malthus's way of thinking [...]

From "The Wealth of Nations"

By Adam Smith.

The most opulent church in Christendom does not maintain better the uniformity of faith, the fervour of devotion, the spirit of order, regularity and austere morals in the great body of the people, than this very poorly endowed Church of Scotland. All the good effects, both civil and religious, which an established church can be supposed to produce, are produced by it compleatly as by any other.

From "Economics as Theology: Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations"

By A. M. C. Waterman.

By far the most influential theodicy in the Christian West is that of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), whose voluminous and powerful writing set the theological agenda for more than a thousand years. Augustine began with the Pauline doctrine of Original Sin and the Fall of Man and attributed all moral evil, and most if not all physical evil, to that single cause. What then does God do about it? Augustine's answer was complex and not entirely satisfactory (Williams 1927). But his account of political society is suggestive. The state and its institutions are a self-inflicted punishment of human sin. Augustine had no illusions about the human cost of maintaining internal peace and external security. Moreover, without justice, the state is an unmitigated evil: "Remota itaque justitia, quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia?" (Augustine 1957, iv:4). And because of human sin, true justice is never fully obtainable: "vera autem justitia non est nisi in ea re publica cuius conditor rectorque Christus est" (ii:21). Yet some degree of justice remains possible; therefore, God allows the self-regarding acts of sinful human beings to bring the state into existence because its institutions-especially those of private property, marriage, and slavery-are also a remedy for sin. By means of the state, the evil in human life may be constrained to that minimum that must result from freedom of the will in fallen humanity (Waterman 1991, pp. 76-7). I wish to suggest that there are parallels between this aspect of St. Augustine's theodicy and the account we may read in W[ealth of Nations] of the way in which "the wisdom of nature" provides that natural(2) [i.e. necessary] human behavior may bring about natural(1) [i.e. right] outcomes.

From "Economics as Theology: Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations"

By A. M. C. Waterman.

Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations may be read as a work of natural theology similar in general style to Newton's Principia. Smith's ambiguous use of the word "nature" and its cognates implies an intended distinction between a positive sense in which "natural" means "necessary" and a normative sense in which "natural" means "right." The "interest" by which humans are motivated is "natural" in the first sense, but it may not bring about social outcomes that are "natural" in the second sense. It will do so only if the social institutions within which agents seek their own "interest" are well formed. Smith provides a large-scale, quasi-historical account of the way in which well-formed institutions gradually develop as unintended consequences of private "interest." In so doing, he provides a theodicy of economic life that is cognate with St. Augustine's theodicy of the state as remedium peccatorum.

From "Classical liberalism and international economic order"

By Razeen Sally.

[...] where neo-liberal institutionalism instinctively conceives an appropriate institutional framework for a liberal international economic order in terms of intergovernmental negotiated cooperation "from above", classical liberalism focuses its sights on the domestic preconditions of international order: the appropriate institutional framework is sought, first and foremost,"from below", at the level of national law and policy [...]

From "The Prince"

By Nicolo Machiavelli.

Our forefathers, and those who were reckoned wise, were accustomed to say that it was necessary to hold Pistoia by factions and Pisa by fortresses; and with this idea they fostered quarrels in some of their tributary towns so as to keep possession of them the more easily. This may have been well enough in those times when Italy was in a way balanced, but I do not believe that it can be accepted as a precept for to-day, because I do not believe that factions can ever be of use; rather it is certain that when the enemy comes upon you in divided cities you are quickly lost, because the weakest party will always assist the outside forces and the other will not be able to resist. The Venetians, moved, as I believe, by the above reasons, fostered the Guelph and Ghibelline factions in their tributary cities; and although they never allowed them to come to bloodshed, yet they nursed these disputes amongst them, so that the citizens, distracted by their differences, should not unite against them. Which, as we saw, did not afterwards turn out as expected, because, after the rout at Vaila, one party at once took courage and seized the state. Such methods argue, therefore, weakness in the prince, because these factions will never be permitted in a vigorous principality; such methods for enabling one the more easily to manage subjects are only useful in times of peace, but if war comes this policy proves fallacious.

From "The Prince"

By Nicolo Machiavelli.

[...] figuratively taught to princes by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron to nurse, who brought them up in his discipline; which means solely that, as they had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man [...]

From "The Prince"

By Nicolo Machiavelli.

Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as he abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from their women. But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause, but above all things he must keep his hands off the property of others, because men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony. Besides, pretexts for taking away the property are never wanting; for he who has once begun to live by robbery will always find pretexts for seizing what belongs to others; but reasons for taking life, on the contrary, are more difficult to find and sooner lapse. But when a prince is with his army, and has under control a multitude of soldiers, then it is quite necessary for him to disregard the reputation of cruelty, for without it he would never hold his army united or disposed to its duties.

From "The Prince"

By Nicolo Machiavelli.

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.

From "The Prince"

By Nicolo Machiavelli.

Therefore, a prince, not being able to exercise this virtue of liberality in such a way that it is recognized, except to his cost, if he is wise he ought not to fear the reputation of being mean, for in time he will come to be more considered than if liberal, seeing that with his economy his revenues are enough, that he can defend himself against all attacks, and is able to engage in enterprises without burdening his people; thus it comes to pass that he exercises liberality towards all from whom he does not take, who are numberless, and meanness towards those to whom he does not give, who are few.

From "The Prince"

By Nicolo Machiavelli.

IT REMAINS now to see what ought to be the rules of conduct for a prince towards subject and friends. And as I know that many have written on this point, I expect I shall be considered presumptuous in mentioning it again, especially as in discussing it I shall depart from the methods of other people. But, it being my intention to write a thing which shall be useful to him who apprehends it, it appears to me more appropriate to follow up the real truth of a matter than the imagination of it; for many have pictured republics and principalities which in fact have never been known or seen, because how one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation; for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil.

Hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity. Therefore, putting on one side imaginary things concerning a prince, and discussing those which are real, I say that all men when they are spoken of, and chiefly princes for being more highly placed, are remarkable for some of those qualities which bring them either blame or praise; and thus it is that one is reputed liberal, another miserly, using a Tuscan term (because an avaricious person in our language is still he who desires to possess by robbery, whilst we call one miserly who deprives himself too much of the use of his own); one is reputed generous, one rapacious; one cruel, one compassionate; one faithless, another faithful; one effeminate and cowardly, another bold and brave; one affable, another haughty; one lascivious, another chaste; one sincere, another cunning; one hard, another easy; one grave, another frivolous; one religious, another unbelieving, and the like. And I know that every one will confess that it would be most praiseworthy in a prince to exhibit all the above qualities that are considered good; but because they can neither be entirely possessed nor observed, for human conditions do not permit it, it is necessary for him to be sufficiently prudent that he may know how to avoid the reproach of those vices which would lose him his state; and also to keep himself, if it be possible, from those which would not lose him it; but this not being possible, he may with less hesitation abandon himself to them. And again, he need not make himself uneasy at incurring a reproach for those vices without which the state can only be saved with difficulty, for if everything is considered carefully, it will be found that something which looks like virtue, if followed, would be his ruin; whilst something else, which looks like vice, yet followed brings him security and prosperity.

From "The Prince"

By Machiavelli.

And therefore a prince who does not understand the art of war, over and above the other misfortunes already mentioned, cannot be respected by his soldiers, nor can he rely on them. He ought never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of war, and in peace he should addict himself more to its exercise than in war; this he can do in two ways, the one by action, the other by study.

As regards action, he ought above all things to keep his men well organized and drilled, to follow incessantly the chase, by which he accustoms his body to hardships, and learns something of the nature of localities, and gets to find out how the mountains rise, how the valleys open out, how the plains lie, and to understand the nature of rivers and marshes, and in all this to take the greatest care.

From "The Prince"

By Machiavelli.

[...] one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed [...]

From "The Prince"

By Machiavelli.

But when states are acquired in a country differing in language, customs, or laws, there are difficulties, and good fortune and great energy are needed to hold them, and one of the greatest and most real helps would be that he who has acquired them should go and reside there. This would make his position more secure and durable, as it has made that of the Turk in Greece, who, notwithstanding all the other measures taken by him for holding that state, if he had not settled there, would not have been able to keep it. Because, if one is on the spot, disorders are seen as they spring up, and one can quickly remedy them; but if one is not at hand, they heard of only when they are one can no longer remedy them. Besides this, the country is not pillaged by your officials; the subjects are satisfied by prompt recourse to the prince; thus, wishing to be good, they have more cause to love him, and wishing to be otherwise, to fear him. He who would attack that state from the outside must have the utmost caution; as long as the prince resides there it can only be wrested from him with the greatest difficulty.

The other and better course is to send colonies to one or two places, which may be as keys to that state, for it necessary either to do this or else to keep there a great number of cavalry and infantry. A prince does not spend much on colonies, for with little or no expense he can send them out and keep them there, and he offends a minority only of the citizens from whom he takes lands and houses to give them to the new inhabitants; and those whom he offends, remaining poor and scattered, are never able to injure him; whilst the rest being uninjured are easily kept quiet, and at the same time are anxious not to err for fear it should happen to them as it has to those who have been despoiled.

Saturday, 14 October 2000

From a blog post

By Chris Goode.

[So] is the second of Squires's e-books for Shearsman, following last year's Lines, and it proceeds through very similar movements, but for what it's worth I think So perhaps the more successful in the slight, just-detectable tension between its radical open-ended subjunctivity and the feint ghost of discarnate logic that invigilates its procedures. The nearest voice (if 'voice' is quite the right idea) is probably Beckett, though that may depend on how quickly you turn the pages: a steady flip produces the insistent fidgeting of an idling mind worrying itself into a sort of fractal realm of language, with nearly-formed questions constantly becoming their own nearly-formed answers, divulging little but keeping the authorial consciousness in an immaculate but vertiginous holding pattern; a slower, more reflective reading, in which each of these phrases is permitted to sound more vertically, admits a meditative, potentially spiritual, tonality, which you'll find successful probably in some proportion to the dependability of your own sense of such operations and background narratives. (For me, that's a struggle.) The question that arises in respect of reading-speed is perhaps in itself instructive: I wonder, how long does the passage of this text represent? It's sort of an unaskable question, but if this movement within language unfolds over a lifetime, that is one thing, and if what these words add up to is a single fleeting thought, captured on the wing, that's something else: but perhaps that simply takes us back to the sense of falling through fractal layers, the instant that might in language be developed out into a fair account of a lifetime's activity in coming to terms with the liveable experience of consequence and inquiry.

From a blog post

By Chris Goode.

Adrian Mitchell, my teenage affection for whom has for some time been evaporating, pops up as a talking head to say how great it was that the Mersey Sound poets spoke "directly" to their audience, not wishing to bamboozle anyone with ambiguity. I think this slightly misrepresents all three poets, to differing degrees, but it also begs a whole stack of questions about what "directness" -- which I would agree is, in respect of some of its connotations at any rate, a worthwhile aspiration -- actually is, how it is signalled, where it is located. Is Roger McGough's mundanely expressed coyness about love relationships and homeopathically surrealised suburban moments really more direct than Keston Sutherland's strenuously candid, fiercely blazoned failure to articulate the unmanageable totality of our social relations? I suppose McGough's work is "direct" in the way that water comes "directly" out of a tap: the machinery of transport, filtration and (in some places) fluoridation is invisible; any sense of connection to the natural water cycle is generally suspended until some crisis of supply hits home. And similarly, the efforts of selective obstruction, occlusion and abstraction that support McGough's chirpy, laconic utterances are totally concealed. I'm surprised that a good socialist like Mitchell isn't concerned about that.

Thursday, 12 October 2000

From a poem of Frances'

it's not even a nice
light

from "conspiracy machine"

By Bill Drennan.

When you dig, the stones come up for air. They are not necessarily connected

From "The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity"

By Jürgen Habermas.

In their attempts to overcome the philosophy of the subject, Hegel and Marx had been ensnared in its own basic concepts. This objection cannot be leveled at Heidegger, but a similarly telling one can be. So little does Heidegger free himself from the pregiven problematics of transcendental consciousness that he can burst the conceptual cage of philosophy of consciousness in no other way than by abstract negation [...] "dispense with the inappropriate concern with 'science' and 'research'" [...]

Husserl understood his transcendental reduction as a procedure that was supposed to allow the phenomenonologist to draw a clear line between the world of beings given in the natural attitude and the sphere of the pure constituting consciousness which first lends beings their meaning. His whole life long, Heidegger held on to the intuitionism of this procedure; in the late philosophy, his manner of proceeding is simply relieved of the claims to be methodical and set free for a privileged "inherence in the truth of being." Husserl's way of posing problems also remains normative for Heidegger, inasmuch as he merely turns the basic epistemological question into an ontological one. In both cases, the phenomonelogical gaze is directed upon the world as the correlate of the knowing subject. In contrast to, say, Humboldt, Mead, or the later Wittgenstein, Heidegger does not free himself from the traditional granting of a distinctive status to theoretical activity, to the constative use of language, and to the validiy claim of propositional truth. He also remains attached, in a negative way, to the foundationalism of the philosophy of consciousness [...] Because Heidegger does not gainsay the hierarchical orderings of philosophy bent on self-grounding, he can only counter foundationalism by excavating a still more deeply laid - and henceforth unstable - ground [...] Heidegger passes beyond the horizon of the philosophy of consciousness only to stay in the shadows.

Tuesday, 10 October 2000

From "Political Theology"

By Carl Schmitt.

Form can thus mean, first, the transcendental "condition" of juristic cognition; second, a regularity, an evenness, derived from repeated practice and professional reasoning. Because of its evenness and calculability, regularity passes over to the third form, the "rationalistic," that is, technical refinement, which, emerging from either the needs of specialized knowledge or the interests of a juristically educated bureaucracy, is oriented toward calculability and governed by the ideal of frictionless functioning.

Sunday, 8 October 2000

From "Essays on Several Subjects"

By Sir Thomas Blount.

LEARNING does but serve to fill us full of Artificial Errors. That which we so much admire under the name of LEARNING, is only the knowing the fancies of particular Men, Deliri veteris Meditontes somnia vana, in effect but like Gossipping Women telling one another their Dreams. The Romans were so far from esteeming Learning, as an essential part of Wisdom, that with them the word Scholar was seldom us'd but by way of reproach. A Learned Man may not improperly be compared to Aesop's Crow, deckt with the Feathers that he had stoln from other Birds. He maketh (indeed) a great shew in the World, but he may thank others who are at the charge of it.

In a word, There is not a simpler Animal, and a more superfluous Member of a State, than a meer Scholar; He is---Telluris inutile Pondus. And were I to give a description of a Pedant newly arrived from the University, I could not do it more to the life, than in the words of Horace;

Cùm septem Studiis annos dedit, insenuitque
Libris & curis, Statuâ taciturnius exit,
Plerumque & Populum risu quatit---

No wonder then, that the Italians, in their Farces, always bring in a Pedant for the Fool of the Play. That Learning is no way serviceable to the life of Man, even daily experience sufficiently shews; for how many are there in the World, of high and low condition, that live pleasantly and happily, who never trouble themselves with Learning· Neither is it serviceable to Things Natural, which an ignorant Sot may as well perform, as he that is vested with the greatest Learning; Nature is a sufficient Mistress for that.

[...]

But whatsoever Charms, these the more Gross, and Earthly part of Mankind, may think there is in such a Lazy, Slavish Subjection, yet to Men of more refined Intellectuals, and whose Veins run with a Nobler sort of Blood, all that the World can give without Liberty hath no tast. It must be confess'd, That in the two last Reigns, this Precious Jewel of Liberty hath been little valued; Nothing hath been sold so Cheap by unthinking Men; But alas that doth no more lessen the real value of it, than the ignorance of the Foolish Indians, did that of their Gold, which at first they Exchang'd for the most inconsiderable Bawbles. 'Tis the happiness of our Constitution, That King and People are both Bounded; And Curst be the Man, who shall go about to remove either of these Land-Marks: The Crown hath Prerogative enough to protect our Liberties; And the People have so much Liberty as is necessary to make them useful to the Crown: So that the King's Prerogative, and the Subjects Liberty, do naturally tend to the preserving of one another. It was the Observation of that Learned Attorney General, Sir Francis Bacon, That whilst the Prerogative runs within its Ancient and Proper Banks, the main Channel thereof is so much the Stronger, for Over-flows evermore hurt the River.

[...]

'Tis observed of the Camel, that it lies quietly down till it hath its full Load, and then riseth up, but the English Mobile is a kind of Beast, which riseth up soonest when it is over-loaden; And therefore (to conclude this Point) as an English Monarch may (so long as he observes the Laws) be the happiest Prince in the World; So if he will turn Phaeton, and drive furiously, he will in the end find himself a King not of Men, but of Devils.

[...]

To conclude then, It is not a Man's cloistering himself up in his Study, nor his continual Poring upon Books, that makes him a Wise Man: No; this property is to be acquired only by Meditation and Converse. For Reading may very properly be compared to Eating, and Meditating to Digesting; as therefore to one huor Eating, we allow many hours for Digesting; So to one hours Reading we should assign a sufficient time for Meditating, and Digesting what we have read. Or else, as the one by breeding ill humours, and obstructing the passages, impairs the Health of the Body; So will the other be of no less prejudice to the understanding, by occasioning Diseases to the mind.

Saturday, 7 October 2000

From "Sovereignty at Bay: The Multinational Spread of U.S. Enterprises"

By Raymond Vernon.

[...] The ideas that appear to travel most easily between the social sciences are the simpler, more inclusive ideas; and when gauged by the criteria of simplicity and inclusiveness, neoclassical propositions have had a decisive edge [...]

From "The Politics"

By Aristotle trans. T. A. Sinclair.

We shall, I think, in this as in other subjects, get the best view of the matter if we look at the natural growth of things from the beginning. The first point is that those which are incapable of existing without each other must be united as a pair. For example, (a) the union of male and female is essential for reproduction; and this is not a matter of choice, but is due to the natural urge, which exists in the other animals too and in plants, to propogate one's kind [...] Equally essential is (b) the combination of the natural ruler and ruled, for the purpose of preservation. For the element that can use it intelligence to look ahead is by nature ruler and by nature master, while that which has the bodily strenght to do the actual work is by nature a slave, one of those who are ruled. Thus there is a common interest uniting master and slave.

From "The Transatlantic Divide: Why are American and British IPE So Different?"

By Benjamin J. Cohen.

The critical question is: Why didn’t economists fight harder for “ownership” of the field? Had they done so, the construction of the American school might have followed a very different trajectory – addressing different questions, offering different answers. The basics might have been defined in another manner altogether.

From "The Transatlantic Divide: Why are American and British IPE So Different?"

By Benjamin Cohen.

In the “American school,” priority is given to scientific method – what might be called a pure or hard science model. Analysis is based on the twin principles of positivism and empiricism, which hold that knowledge is best accumulated through an appeal to objective observation and systematic testing. In the words of Stephen Krasner, one of the American school’s leading lights: “International political economy is deeply embedded in the standard methodology of the social sciences which, stripped to its bare bones, simply means stating a proposition and testing it against external evidence” (Krasner 1996: 108-109). Even its critics concede that the mainstream American version of IPE may be regarded as the prevailing orthodoxy.

But it is not an orthodoxy that goes without challenge. Elsewhere in the English-speaking world – above all, in Britain – an alternative version of IPE emerged that, from its earliest days, was quite distinct from the American school. Across the pond, scholars are more receptive than in the United States to links with other academic disciplines, beyond mainstream economics and political science; they also evince a deeper interest in normative issues. In the British style, IPE is less wedded to scientific method and more ambitious in its agenda. The contrasts with the mainstream American approach are not small; this is not an instance of what Freud called the “narcissism of small differences.” Indeed, the contrasts are so great that it is not illegitimate to speak of a “British school” of IPE, in contrast to the U.S. version

[...]

in terms of ontology, the American school remains determinedly state-centric, privileging sovereign governments above all other units of interest. The British school, by contrast, treats the state as just one agent among many, if states are to be included at all. For the American school IPE is essentially a subset of IR, sharing the political science discipline’s central preoccupation with public policy. The core object of study – the field’s “problematique,” to use a term favored more by British scholars than by Americans -- is limited to questions of state behavior and system governance. The main purpose of theory is explanation: to identify causality. The driving ambition is problem solving: to explore possible solutions to challenges within the existing system. For the British school IPE is more inclusive – more open to links to other areas of inquiry. The problematique is more ecumenical, concerned with all manner of social and ethical issues. The main purpose of theory is judgment: to identify injustice. The driving ambition is amelioration: to make the world a better place. Where the American school aspires to the objectivity of conventional social science, the British school is openly normative in the tradition of pragmatism and classical moral philosophy.

From "The Transatlantic Divide: Why are American and British IPE So Different?"

By Benjamin J. Cohen.

An academic field of study may be said to exist when a coherent body of knowledge is constructed to define a subject of inquiry. Recognized standards come to be employed to train and certify specialists; full-time employment opportunities become available in university teaching and research; learned societies are established to promote study and dialogue; and publishing venues become available to help disseminate new ideas and analysis. In short, an institutionalized network of scholars comes into being, a distinct research community with its own boundaries, rewards, and careers.

Friday, 6 October 2000

From "Liber de naturis rerum"

By Thomas de Cantimpré.

Nos aper auditu; linx visu, symia gustu
Vultur odoratu precellit aranea tactu

(In hearing by the boar; in sight by the lynx; in taste by the ape;
In smell by the vulture; and in touch by the spider, we are outdone)

Thursday, 5 October 2000

From "Silence and the Experimental Feminine"

Tradition gives us some, but not all, navigational coordinates. . . . It's common to think of identities and traditions as useful limiting structures, points of departure from the known. But epistemological reality principles, like all others, shrivel without the dicey pleasures of permeability, motion, susceptibility to chance occurrences. Isn't it more fruitful to think of identity and tradition ("IT," always intertwined) in ongoing, transformative conversation with a changing world?

From "Is Poetry the News?: The Poethics of the Found Text"

By Jena Osman.

[...] in all of these statements, there seems to be a necessary hope that pointing to language itself (particularly the language of war, media, and politics) is a first step toward action and change. But in what ways is that pointing poethical? Are there ways to point, to critique the topical world, the world of events, while at the same time maintaining the complexity of alternative “poethical” forms? Is there a way to have a poem do political work without preaching, monologing, speechifying, shutting down dialogue, or making use of absolutes and essentialisms? In other words, in what ways do words in poems make war, and in what ways do they make peace?

From "Accident ... Aeroplane ... Artichoke"

By Joan Retallack.

[...] a form of life in which we would, in our most enlightened moments, want to live — which makes the intricate complexity of the intersecting intentional and accidental that is our world known to us though the sensory and imaginative enactment of complex forms [...]

From lectures on Maximus IV, V, VI

By Jeremy Prynne, Simon Fraser University, July 27, 1971.

Well, right at the beginning of the new Maximus, the IV, V, and VI, we are told we turn our backs on the sea. We have been right out to sea. And by sea, of course, Olson means space and means the large condition of the cosmos; and we must understand that for Olson to look from the Gloucester coast out into the Atlantic is to look into the livelihood of the past, to look into the economic support of the whole of the beginnings of that race from which he felt he came, to look back to the cultural origins of the whole settlement of New England, and to look back to the mid-Atlantic ridges, those upthrusts of mountain ridges down beneath the Atlantic, which figure so largely in his imagination as the last residues of the birth of the great continents in the original orogenies which formed the earth as we know it. And when he talks about cosmos, what he does not mean, of course, is that squalid astral picnicking, recently propagandized by Dr. von Braun, which is an essential technological vulgarity of an entirely different order.

From "Ask the Phoenix"

By Erica Carpenter.

how long, to travel
into one death
and find another,
repeatedly.

Popeye Sez 1

By John Sparrow.


Wednesday, 4 October 2000

From "Post-Marginal Positions"

A forum at Jacket.

I sometimes feel that the poetry scene takes on a masochistic structure: our fantasies of cultural domination disappointed, we project and introject our frustration as criticism. We can be a right old bunch of wreckers, and efforts to construct — unless it comes with its own native piety, e.g. the Bedford Square group, whose work was treated with mild admiration by anyone male/excluded who mentioned it — are so often immediately dismantled by the planning officers, that we stay mumbling at zero.

From "On Suicide"

By Emile Durkheim.

On the contrary, the suicide rate, while showing only slight annual changes, varies according to society by doubling, tripling, quadrupling, and even more.

From "Poetic Thought"

By J. H. Prynne.

(From "Textual Practice," first a keynote speech given at the Second Pearl River International Poetry
Conference, Guangzhou, P.R. China, on June 14, 2008).

[...] strong poetic thought does indeed demand the unreserved commitment of the poet, deep-down within the choices and judgements of dialectical composition; but before the work is completed, the poet must self-remove from this location, sever the links not by a ruse but in order to test finally the integrity of the result. Indeed, until this removal is effected, the work cannot be truly complete, so that the new-discovered and extended limits of poetic thought form the language-boundaries of the new work.

Some of the limit-rules here are already inherent in language as a system of social practice and grammatical construction; some of the limit-features have to do with a text’s not breaking the bounds of poetry altogether. But, these powerfully signifying limits are valorised by the internal energy of language under intense pressure of new work, new use, new hybrids of practice and reference and discovery.

Here some of the negative definitions already advanced need to be brought back into view. The fingertip energies of a language are not at all merely or mainly intellectual. Intense abstract visualisation, [...] for example, or sonorous echo-function from auditory cross-talk and the history of embedded sound values in the philological development of a language system, [...] all may carry and perform the pressures of new poetic thought. In addition, the formal constraints of structure are not restricted to tight local intensities of challenge to language use: large and extended structures generate tensions of thought-argument, both performative of conceptual and opportune design and also as oppositional bracing, by demand upon logics of completion and straying against an end. Both Milton and Wordsworth are classical masters in apparent straying within the framework of extended form, and of eventual shifted return to the meaning of completion; the same is also true more recently of John Wilkinson [...]

Tuesday, 3 October 2000

From "Sir Thomas Wyatt"

By Alan Halsey.

to mark and remember nerawhyt erring
and to make into our englysshe
Wiat que la dame Anne Bulleyn
avait este trouvee au delit avec
my thinges so rawlye goyng to nowght afore mine les
I restles rest in suspect
for better poursuyte the tyme to seke
wich way my jeperdie may come to knollege
quarelles ynowgh in euery mans mowgh
as tho the thinges passid had bene but dremis
in stynke and close ayer as God iuge
an evident singe I am clere of thought
I am wonte some tympe to rappe owte

Monday, 2 October 2000

From "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist"

By Arthur Conan Doyle.

"I nearly fell into the error of supposing that you were typewriting. Of course, it is obvious that it is music. You observe the spatulate finger-end, Watson, which is common to both profissiens? There is a spirituality about the face, however."

Sunday, 1 October 2000

From "The Division of Labour in Society"

By Emile Durkheim trans. George Simpson.

To simplify the exposition, we hold that the individual appears only in one society. In fact, we take part in several groups and there are in us several collective consciences; but this complication changes nothing with regard to the relation that we are now establishing.