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New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Wednesday, August 31

femme banal

far from relegating religion to the category of illusion,
each issues an invitation to "make believe."

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article referencing Luce Irigaray and Mary Daly

and I have missed things and kept out of sight
but other girls were never quite like this.
...na na na na-na na
...
beatles ~ rubber soul

How did I end up on the Feminist Philosophy of Religion page at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy site? I'll tell you exactly how, though it could easily take the rest of the day. Grab a cup of coffee or a beer. You ain't goin nowhere for a spell. Well pardner, it was like this...

As of several months ago, there are these new things on Amazon called SIPs -- for statistically improbable phrases. They show up right after book title, author and first line, like this...

Behind those simple looking links is a lot of hairy SCIENCE and MATH. Suffice it to say: very powerful stuff. Take "eugenics crusade." The embedded URL that link fires off has a lot of strange stuff in it. Nevermind. It basically reduces to something like this...

www.amazon.com/gp/phrase/?phrase=eugenics%20crusade

Try it: eugenics crusade

On the resulting page, you'll see a list of hits, like so...

  • 5 references in Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement by Christine Rosen
  • 2 references in No Other Gods: On Science and American Social Thought by Charles E. Rosenberg
  • 1 reference in Governing the Hearth: Law and the Family in Nineteenth-Century America by Michael Grossberg

I removed the links from the above example. On the actual Amazon page, if you click either the little triangle or the "x references" bit, a list will open below the hit -- as in a collapsable outliner -- providing a snippet of context and a link to the full-text document image.

And you get every instance of the SIP in every book that Amazon has scanned -- i.e., the ones that say Search Inside, like this...

Go ahead, click on it. [Nobody ever clicks on the links. Berners-Lee would be rolling over in his grave. If he were dead, that is.] See?

Do you have any idea what it would take to accomplish this in a large library? Or even a small one? Or in a "real-world" bookstore? Think about it. It would take a lot. Possibly months or years of grueling research. Instead: click!

Now, as this is a pretty cool thing, I wanted to install that basic search string in my Google bar. No, not the one you get from Google. The one you get with Mac OS X 10.4 [or so], to which you can add other searches. This is probably possible somehow in Windows, but it's been a while and things have changed since I was last there, and I forget, and I don't care. This operating system business is not, strictly speaking, critical to our story. So don't go all religious on me.

As it turns out, you can stick anything you want in this thing...

www.amazon.com/gp/phrase/?phrase=eugenics%20crusade

...where it says "eugenics%20crusade" -- the %20 thing is a space; don't worry about it; if there's a space in your search URL, the browser will take care of it for you. Meaning what? Meaning that you can cut that line above, drop it into your browser's nav-bar window dealie, change the search string to, oh say, "gonzo marketing," as below, and Bob's yer uncle...

Clicking on the above graphic will fire off the search. Go on, don't be shy. Now, see the fourth (or so) hit down? It should say "3 references in Business: The Ultimate Resource." Click where it says "3 references" and choose the first one in the drop-down list -- the one that says "on page 40." Then zoom that page with the picture of my ugly kisser and read "The Case for Business Criticism" -- the article Harvard Business Review refused to publish!

Anyway, you get the idea. I hope.

But we're not done yet. Remember I wanted to get a generalized form of that search into some googlesque toolbar? Right. You forgot, didn't you? But I didn't. So I went to this Camino search extensions page, the details of which you needn't worry about -- except that it contains a search method for (remember that quote way back up at the top?) the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

And the generalized form of that search, is...

plato.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/webglimpse.cgi?id=1&query=something

[Can you believe I'm quoting code-ish sorts of things at you? I can't. But perhaps it's only to demonstrate that I have no in-principle beef with instrumental rationality. Please join me in ignoring this uncomfortable truth. (Or see yesterday's post.)]

Yes, well, anyway. I installed both of those: the one for Amazon SIPs, and the one for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

To test the latter, I needed to plug a search term (in place of our something, above) into the teensy search-bar window. And the only thing I could think of that was halfway philosophical was...

Once again, click the graphic to execute the search. Oooh, lookee! Heavy-duty! No?

What? You mean you don't get off on Methodological Individualism? You mean to say that Epistemological Problems of Perception don't turn you on? Shit, looks like I'm going to have to rethink my audience... Again.

! ¡ ! ¡ ! ¡ ! ¡ ! ¡ ! ¡ !


But forget all that too. Just scroll down to hit #15 -- the one that says

Feminist Philosophy of Religion
• supernaturalism or solipsism; values without the problems of

The problems of what? Oh well, I guess it'll tell me in the article. So I go there. I scan it. Very academic prose. Very dense. Sounds like total bullshit. Makes it hard to separate the real bullshit from the garden variety vanilla-flavored bullshit. But I press on. At least I can find out without the problems of what. And would you look at that? Here's the passage, from somewhere down under the sub-heading...

5.5 Pragmatizing Feminist Philosophy of Religion

The end result of these combined naturalization processes should yield something new to philosophy of religion: "truth without the problems of certainty; justification without the problems of foundations; nature and access to it without the problems of supernaturalism or solipsism; values without the problems of absolutism or arbitrariness; and distinctively religious or spiritual experience without idealism, dualism, or institutional religion" (Stuhr 2003, 194).

The reference being to...

Oh, I see. I get it. The way you get around all those problems is by being a hulking ripped Greek guy with a monster club! Leave it to the superchicks to pick up on a book with a cover like that. Postmodern my ass!

The page makes much reference, among a myriad of weird and incomprehensible other matters, to a certain individual...

  • "Feminist Interpretations of Mary Daly (2000), devoted to an assessment of one of the most original authors in the field..."
  • "a chapter on feminist philosophy of religion as represented by Mary Daly..."
  • "the concept of a male God has been judged by every major feminist thinker, including Mary Daly...."
  • "the early Mary Daly (1973) posited God as "Verb," a dynamic becoming process that energizes all things."
  • "the tradition that employs the classical ontology of being, extending from Thomas Aquinas to Paul Tillich and the early Mary Daly..."
  • "A distinct alternative... appears in the feminist philosophies of religion of Luce Irigaray and Mary Daly. Both seek to project a 'female divine' that would be fully immanental in and for the female Self (capitalized by Daly)... and would provide what Irigaray calls a 'sensible transcendental.'"
It goes on. But you begin to get the idea that Mary Daly must be some sort of big cheese in the world of academic feminism, right? However, immanental? Excuse me? Ah well. I suppose we must have this sort of barely literate writing if we are also to have, after all, a sensible transcendental. Whateverthefuck a transcendental might be, sensible or not. Unless perhaps it's one of these...

...which makes about as much sense. Possibly a lot more. But hey! I bet Emerson would know. Too bad we can't ask him. Now I lay me down to sleep, praying Ralph my soul to keep...

More to the point: what's a Mary Daly? It sounds like one of those unmentionable high colonic things you get in Hollywood. And so <sigh> it's back off to Amazon to see what I can see.

Ah, here's something now! Quintessence...Realizing the Archaic Future: A Radical Elemental Feminist Manifesto. Sounds weighty.

Her publisher has not opted to contribute any blurbiture, so I'll have to depend on the Valued Reviewers -- one of whom helpfully provides a quote from the book, which he sets up as follows: "Daly's narrator, 'I,' is 'Anonyma,' a Mary Daly fan from 50 years in the future, who has brought Daly forward in time to survey the world her books brought about." So here we go...

"Are there men and boys on the other continents?" [Mary] asked."

"Yes," I said. "But ... the world today is Gynocratic and Gynocentric. ... The Earth's transformation has required that her inhabitants grow through profound psychic changes. Those who were not able to grow could not endure in the purity and strength of the New energy field..."

"Are you saying that men who insisted on clinging to patriarchal beliefs and behaviors became obsolete and 'died off'?" asked Mary.

"Yes, they rapidly became extinct," I said.

"And what became of the patriarchally assimilated women who identified with the roles and rules of patriarchy?" asked Mary.

I answered, "Those women who refused to release themselves from the phallocratic dependencies and habits that had been embedded in them under the old system were in effect refusing to evolve. So they also could not survive in the New energy field."

Well, I guess that means I'm toast. But soldiering on... Here's another one titled "Feminism Commits Suicide" by Lisa (USA)...
Mary Daly's Quintessence makes me wonder: Is there any room in the feminist movement for sane women? I believe in a woman's right to control her own destiny and enjoy the same rights, freedoms and opportunities as a man. Yet in Mary Daly's futuristic fantasy utopia, I am killed off by a "new energy field" that eliminates all men and all heterosexual women. And feminists wonder why so few college-age women are willing to identify themselves as feminists! No, they aren't "afraid of the F word." They're afraid of being considered psychopaths who want to kill men.
Hey this is fun! Let's see what else we got. Hmmm. Here's a guy named Hubert van Tuyll...
What struck me as most peculiar about Daly's book is not the implied desire to exterminate men -- that is to be expected --- but that women with different viewpoints have also vanished from her perfect world.
Oh dear. A bit too serious, that one. Well, what about her other books? She seems to have written enough of them. Some would say far too many. Here's one called Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy, of which the publisher -- Women's Press Ltd; now there's an imprint -- says: "In this exhilarating journey into the interior of language, eminent philosopher Mary Daly reveals the patriarchal construction of language and religious imagery, offering imaginative and daring alternatives."

And on their site...

Mary Daly is one of the most exhilarating and imaginative feminist thinkers of our time. She is also a raging Fury, a Nag-Hag, a Crone. In Pure Lust - which is the female lust for change, as opposed to Cockocracy, the Phallic State - she extends the 'deviant philosophy' developed in her classic Gyn/Ecology.

Intergalactic. All right.

btw, that page also says that Daly "exhorts us to the Vourage to Sin," and that she's a "Revolying hag." What do you want to bet that attention to detail is part of "the guilt and fear in which the male sadosociety entraps us"?

But what do the Amazon reviewers have to say? Here's a one-star write-up of Pure Lust titled "Or 5 Stars as a Self-Parody."

I have to confess...I LIKE reading Mary Daly. She is a complete kook. You don't get beyond the introduction of this book without realizing where she is coming from, viz., a la-la land of man-hatred, where everything male is evil, violent, and destructive, and everything female is life-affirming sweetness and light. I sometimes use this text in my classes, and when I finish reading students the introduction, even the women sit there with their mouths agape... they just don't appreciate the articulate, nay, the poetic, ramblings of a damaged, if brilliant, mind. [snip]

I give this book only 1 star because it is offered in all seriousness, and what it offers is in fact hateful nonsense that will appeal only to minds and hearts as damaged as Daly's. If, though, you want to read it as a parody of the most extreme sort of feminism (and Daly IS extreme -- she would not allow men in her feminist ethics classes at Boston College, and was eventually, FINALLY, forced out of academia for it), then I give this 5 stars. It's a crazy ride, full of vivid language and wild rants. It can be lots of fun, viewed the right way.

This is what ends up on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy? It seems to me that "feminism" has outlived its usefulness as a term that means much anymore. I mean, there is feminism and then there's... just pure hog swill. Who can tell the difference? And telling the difference does seem somehow, well, important. However, the gist of the Stanford article -- with its "justification without the problems of foundations" and "invitation to 'make believe'" tropes -- appears to reduce to nothing more than, one more time...

And that, if you recall how this overlong post started, is how I got there.


how do you say putz in wymyn?



Monday, August 29

enchanté

Consider the possibility that the world was never what it used to be, however much we wish it had been. Thus the mourning of the magicians. Thus childhood's end in a field of broken pentacles. What's passed has been received in full. The long night over, nothing left of yesterday, not even darkness. In a freshening wind, only future to look forward to, the horses paw the earth, the beggars ride...


Die Entzauberung der Welt

Max Weber wrote that. It means "the disenchantment of the world." He didn't write the music, no, that's Robert Fripp on Eno's here come the warm jets, back when Eno could rock. High brow, low brow. Better like that if you mix it up. Jam it all together, run it through the blender, crank it. Juxtaposition being almost everything. You ready there, Max? Then hit it, Herr Doktor...

...it means that principally there are no mysterious incalculable forces that come into play, but rather that one can, in principle, master all things by calculation. This means the world is disenchanted. One need no longer have recourse to magical means in order to master or implore the spirits, as did the savage, for whom such mysterious powers existed.

~ Max Weber, Science as a vocation
in H. Gerth and C.W. Mills, (eds.) From Max Weber
New York: Oxford University Press (1946)

Savage. You like that? Let that Fripp clip loop a few more times -- you're getting close. The world is... alles was der Fall ist. So said Wittgenstein. And Metheny: as falls witchita, so falls witchita falls. Everybody gets a hand in. Everything that is the Case -- the lead guitar in Neuromancer, so to speak. Unless you're thinking Wintermute. There is no way things are.

But oh the nostalgia for how they might have been. Attempts to re-enchant the world abound. But too self-conscious, clumsy, not the same. Once you know you're doing it yourself, all you get is a pantheon of plastic gods and an embarrassment of bitches. Because instrumental rationality got in the way of all that sacredness. Of all that wilding Dionysian discord. Of all those spooky bedside comforts instrumental in your own undoing. Pandemic panegyric self regard. I'm going to count backwards from 100 now. Just relax. Gonna take you down to tinkertoys.

In Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapy, Philip Cushman writes:

In 1836, Charles Poyen, a follower of the infamous Anton Mesmer, brought Mesmer's strange combination of Enlightenment science, hypnotism, romanticism, and spirituality to to the United States. With it came the seeds of a liberationist ideology that would mix with the native abundance of the New World and grow into a whole new type of healing technology, one uniquely adapted to the optimism and material promise of the American cultural terrain. In the nineteenth century, the United States was caught in a vise created by the potential material profit offered by the "virgin" continent, on the one hand, and the psychological wounds occasioned by immigration, racism, gender prescriptions, unregulated capitalism, and the weakening of tradition and community, on the other. This juxtaposition of seemingly unlimited abundance with severe confusion and suffering created a paradox, the effects of which could be seen in the strange psychosomatic symptoms that affected the new urban populations of the East and Midwest. The paradox posed a question, and mesmerism, an unlikely hero, provided an answer. Herein lies a strange and very American tale, one that describes the creation of a new and un-European concept of the human being. Simply put, the human interior was conceived of as neither dangerous, secular, nor controlled by external events, as Europeans believed; instead it was inherently good, potentially saturated in spirituality, and capable of controlling the external world: it was an enchanted interior, a fitting partner for the enchanted geographical "interior" that spread westward to the Pacific.

This "strange and very American tale" is headed straight for "mind cure," New Thought, Christian Science and all manner of weirdball spiritualism. A story we'll be exploring here too, but later. My attention span is flagging. However, following on that last trope -- a psychological analog for manifest destiny -- Cushman writes...

Mesmerism's subject was the interior, enchanted, potentially expansive self, a self so clearly syntonic with the American terrain and the power relations and forms of control that were a part of that terrain. Of course, mesmerism not only reflected this nineteenth-century American self; it also helped construct it.

In a later chapter called "Self-Liberation Through Consumerism" -- the section is titled "Heinz Kohut and the Valorization of Narcissism: The Self Takes Center Stage" -- Cushman talks about Kohut's "self psychology" and theory of narcissism, writing (p. 270) that Kohut confused appearance for essence, that is, taking culturally conditioned psychological dynamics for universal human truths. He says Kohut

...saw the whole mid- to late twentieth-century clearing -- the appearance of emptiness, confusion, isolation, the commodification of human life -- and called it essence. By doing so he reified the given, gave it a scientific justification, and encouraged its continuation. Ultimately, this is the source of his limitation, and ours as well.

And there's this a page later...

......self structure is both built (through psychologically taking in and metabolizing the parent's qualities) and liberated (through the unfolding plan of the nuclear self). The consumer language in [Kohut's] formulation should be obvious. The two characteristic elements of twentieth-century American consumerism -- individual salvation through the consuming of commodities and the liberation of the enchanted interior -- are clearly evident.

Instrumental rationality will use any means to achieve desired ends. Self-interested, calculating, focused on efficiency, prediction, command and control, it ultimately leads to Weber's "iron cage" of rigid, stultifying bureaucracy. Neither is it above using "spirituality" and enchantment to "get its needs met." Although the psychological construct was still a long way off in Weber's future -- our present; be here now -- instrumental rationality can also lead to the inflexible algorithm run amok that is personality disorder.


painfully stupid
but not as bad as the twilight of american culture. monks... OMG!


powers of mind in victorian britain


heinz kohut and the psychology of the self



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