I'm the wrong person to write this post. I already hated Ivy League Schools. Right away I began this post and invective already flowed that had you read it would lose me friends. Powerful ones...
Sunday, December 10, 2023
Saturday, December 9, 2023
I'm going to begin with three paragraphs I wrote at the end of the first week:
Friday, December 8, 2023
1. A New Liberalism, Not Centrism:
In state after state, liberal beginnings curdle into mushy moderate governance, which only resulted in the railroading by the right, which in turn causes liberals to jump into alliances with the left. The right railroads moderates, the left railroads liberals, and society's breakdown is assured.
The stability and prosperity of society is not achieved by keeping to a mushy middle point between ideologies, it's by, yet again, evolving liberalism, taking the best of left and right, combining them, and rejecting what is toxic:
To achieve all this and more is absolutely impossible in the current social state of the US or any other state, but something like this will be what's required to survive into the twenty-second century as democracies. God knows what it will be to take us there, but I believe something not unlike this is what will come when we realize there's no other choice.
Somehow this all is related to Israel....
2. The Jewish Shakespeare, The Arab Shakespeare
It's unlikely to happen, but if someone called Naguib Mahfouz and Isaac Bashevis Singer the two greatest writers of the 20th century, I'd raise no objection. It is difficult for outsiders to understand just how much both of them mean to their cultures, hell, it's difficult for insiders too. How have these two geniuses fostered so much love and so much hate? How have both of them presented dozens of characters their peoples still recognize? How do both of them so effectively challenge their peoples to constantly reexamine what it means to be both Jewish and Arab?
Both of them are said to lose half their meaning outside of their languages, just as the greatest are said to in every major language: Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dante, Pushkin, Goethe, etc. and yet they both speak in English so forcefully that how much more meaningfully must they read in their own tongues?
By reading them, we get more morally serious by having fun. There are only two words for this process: great art, and there are no artists in the world better than Mahfouz and Singer.
3. A series of posts expanding that post: "How Do You Explain?"
A. I need to explain better what I meant when I said 'persecution of Jews matters more.' It's a very controversial point, that's why I lead with it. I don't mean that it matters more in an absolute sense or that Jews are racially superior, I mean whatever the threat to individuals within certain groups or even nationalities within those groups, Judaism and Jews are more threatened than Muslims or Christians. I don't know how anyone could claim otherwise.
B. I need to explain how America's funding of Israel is not just a bribe to not become a rogue state, but is morally justifiable on its own terms; and that, perversely, if other countries put their loans to use as good as Israel does with their loans, there would be no question that Israel is deserving of it.
C. Try to get people to understand that the military industrial complex is a much more complicated phenomenon than people think, in both its benefits and dangers. It's too big a subject to elaborate on here, assuming I even have the competence....
D. Pre-emptive war. Does it save Jews? Does it save other nations? Does it save any nation? Would it? Will it? In what circumstances should it be used? In what circumstances is it dangerous? Are the results of pre-emptive war at all predictable?
Hopefully I'll figure out what three thousand years of writers haven't...
4. The failures of educational institutions: this includes television, internet rabbitholes, and podcast propaganda on the right in addition to university, social media and podcast propaganda on the left. The current state of intellectual discourse has caused a hundred million minds over three separate generations to go to seed, and until the whole apparatus of infotainment is thrown out, we are never going to get your minds back.
Also, ---- you. :)
5. Right wingers and left wingers are enemies to Jewish survival. Full stop. This includes the Jewish ones. Do I even write an essay about it?
Also, ---- you. :)
6. Liberal Realism: Abolishing Liberal Illusions
I watched a podcast video (irony) with Walter Russell Meade, a 'radical centrist' thinker who makes great points but rarely seems to connect the dots. He made a point that's impossible to refute: in era after era, liberals attached themselves to the illusion that the formula for progress has finally been solved, and the institutions in place will solve every new challenge. It was the illusion liberals had at the end of the Cold War when regulated capitalism seemed to cause the 'end of history' (moderates and sane conservatives too). It was same illusion liberals (and leftists) had at the end of World War Two as well: that the UN would solve our problems.
The problem was never that the solutions didn't work, the problems was that the solutions worked well enough that they caused different problems.
The Cold War was not a result of failure but of success. In the late 40s and 50s, it was heightened diplomacy, prosperity and disposable income which created the Cold War even as it prevented a Third World War. Instead of the chaos of nations fighting without a deliberative body, two superpowers with diametrically opposed conceptions of prosperity faced against each other in an existential competition for who could bring the most prosperity to the most number of people. In the process, they used an infantry's worth of measures: hard, soft, sharp, diplomatic, military, intelligence, covert, and all done through the body of the UN. The United Nations was both the cause of and the solution to the Cold War, and the fact that this war was cold rather than hot was progress, and even if it was hot in many places around the world, the fact that we haven't had a nuclear war yet whose death toll is in the billions is the ultimate indicator of some human progress. We have the UN to thank for that.
Now turn that formulation on its head: it was military might that ended the Cold War, which created an unprecedented amount of disposable income in the 90s. The disposable income created what what we call the Information Revolution. If the Cold War ended hotly with bombed out continents, the world would have been too focused on rebuilding to focus on computers. The Information Revolution gave us exponentially more information, but no real way to interpret it, and since the world is focused on computers, the world is divided on how to interpret all that information, and has therefore lost its ability to interact with itself diplomatically. So instead of computers creating a better world, the world will soon be as unstable as it was at the height of the Cold War, and we have the internet and the Information Revolution to blame for it.
Once you solve the world's problems, the real work begins.
Also, ---- you. :)
Oh god there are so many more.... Let's leave it here.
Also, ---- you. :)
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
So where has your faithful facebook correspondent been?
Thursday, November 30, 2023
When asked why he refused to conduct Strauss, Nikolaus Harnoncourt replied that he thought Richard Strauss the most gifted composer since Mozart, but he used his gift for... I forget exactly how he put it but I immediately felt as though I heard what he meant.
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
I don't like pundits. Scratch that. I fucking hate them. A thousand trained monkeys at a thousand type writers can be a thousand pundits. All you do is repeat talking points coined by the ether. How did the ether come up with it? Because the points are so fucking obvious that a thousand people thought the same point at the same time.
Public intellectuals is one thing, critics are one thing; their purpose is to challenge, not confirm--but pundits? Oh god they're awful. They do what they do because they have one very limited field of supposed expertise on which they are held as unaccountable as forty year tenured professors. They may very well be fed points by a central party messaging, but even if they weren't, they'd either come up with the same points or points just as obvious from a different ideology.
You know one when you read one/hear an interview with one. They are there to give their reading on a situation, on which they have no real expertise but their talking points. There's no attempt at details to fill in the vagaries of the area, just ideology, just fitting it into the broader narrative of what they think is already true for not just the subject at hand but everything else. So who cares what a person's opinion is when the opinion is one that anybody else can have? We only read them to get validation for what we already think.
What a person thinks is not important. What's important is what everybody thinks. Private affairs are private , and when writing about private matters it's important to empty every crevass of your mind's nuances. In public affairs, what matters is the community, and what's important is to give voice to a whole community of thoughts. Not just the thoughts of two people with diametrically opposed positions, but people of every background, every demographic, every job, every region, every income bracket, every personality, and yes, every identity.
Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll cover a book that does exactly that, because I'm fucking tired of saying what I think. I'm not even sure I think the same things from day to day. The only people fit for punditry are the people whose point of view is so reliable that you can guess what they think about any issue before you read them, and that makes them incredibly boring. The rest of us are dynamic: we evolve, we live, we experience. Every event doesn't just confirm that we were right but newly influences our thinking as we take stock of the ways we might be wrong.
The word for this kind of polyphonic consciousness is 'literature.' Insofar as I wanted to be a writer rather than a musician, I sure as shit didn't want to be an internet commenter nobody reads except a couple friends Stockholmed by me into believing my point of view is insightful. I wanted to be someone whose thoughts are deep enough that my imagination can explore what other people think, not what I do.
I had begun a novel that takes Jewish history from the point of view of exactly that.
Let me rephrase that. Over more than ten years I'd written over 500 pages of a foot-crushing historical fiction, about a hundred of which were useable (I didn't even bother showing many of them to my editor, sorry Nathaniel...).
I've said it before, but all my life I only ever wanted to be one thing: a great artist. Not some 'artiste' with a business card and not just some hipster in a gallery, but the kind of writer/musician who, even if he can't write something that matters to a wide swath of people, at least tries every day with his very soul. A great artist is not someone who succeeds at it (thought that would be amazing...), a great artist always just shows up to work and tries every day to create the best damn thing he can, even if the whole world thinks its shit. The fact that I haven't, with all my opportunities, is a failure of work ethic, a failure of nerve and courage, and a failure of integrity.
So long as I'm doing this shit, I'll never get there. Maybe I was never meant to. Nothing keeps the muse away like 'Importantitis' and the best stuff always happens by a mixture of habit and accident. Maybe stuff like the last seven-and-a-half weeks is the extent of what I can do, but oh how I'd like to do more.
Monday, November 27, 2023
1. The shooting of three Palestinians in Vermont emphasizes the most inconvenient truth about antisemitism in America. We Jews are going to have to come to terms with the fact that even after Pittsburgh, it is still more dangerous to be a Muslim in America than it is to be a Jew. If it were as dangerous, we'd have more than one Jewish murder by now. This leads us to point 2.
2. The statistics say that 60% of all hate crimes in America are committed against Jews. Antisemitism is as bad as it seems, but let's face it, we Jews have easily the most efficient process for reporting the hate crimes that happen to us. We are probably the only demographic for whom a large amount of the hate crimes against us gets reported.
3. No topic gets European conservatives riled up more quickly than the issue of Islamic immigration, and yet according to the Pew Research Center, Muslims will only make up 10% of the European population by 2050.
4. At the moment there are roughly 3.5 million Muslims in the US, and there are twice as many Jews as Muslims, but thanks to birth rates and immigration, there will probably be more Muslims than Jews by 2050. It is naive to expect that their interests will not have political representation in one of the two major party platforms.
5. Whatever the statistics currently demonstrate, global warming can cause an unprecedented wave of immigration to temperate countries from more tropical ones. Every demographic projection would be thrown out the window. This leads us to point 6.
7. There is no conflict between the values of Islam and the values of democracy, except among Muslims who claim there is. There are countries, like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, where the support for imposing sharia (Koranic) law is over 84%. However, enormous parts of two those countries are ruled by sharia law, so people polled in Afghanistan and Iraq (take note which two...) cannot be counted on to speak their mind - though, it should be noted, in Afghanistan, the figure was 99%, and this was in 2017, before the Taliban took over again - though by 2017 every Afghan knew a Taliban restoration was likely.
In more secular countries that are majority Muslim, like Turkey, the figure stands around 10%. Imposing sharia takes a jihad war in any country, so if you want to impose it on your own country, you almost undoubtedly want to impose it elsewhere too. That probably means that out of all immigrants, roughly 10% would support imposing sharia law on other countries as well: that amounts to about 800,000 Americans and 7.5 million Europeans by 2050, and that number is only by current demographic trends, not counting the chaos that world affairs always brings.
These statistics speak both to how common support for a theocratic dictatorship would be in the Islamic community, and also how little freedom such a dictatorship would afford its citizens.
8. Since October 7th, anti-Islamic incidents seem to have gone up roughly 200%. Since October 7th, antisemitic incidents seem to have gone up 400%. Given the attention these issues currently get, these numbers are probably pretty reliable.
9. One half of Muslims report other Americans expressing solidarity and care for them. Only one-third of Jews do.
10. Antisemitic hatred from leftist champions of Palestine will only radicalize both Jews and the right against Islam. Anti-Islamic hatred will only radicalize Islamic people who otherwise could be of benefit to Western societies - the committed are people of action, after all. Viewing it practically, not sentimentally, then however much rage Israel-Palestine engenders, the only workable solution is to set aside the fury about this issue when dealing with each other's communities; and address together the situation that impacts our lives much more directly than what happens abroad.
Saturday, November 25, 2023