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

Thursday, September 28

some highlights from past issues


Tuesday, September 26

lamer lifestyles: tubular narcissitude

I googled esalen+big+sur just to see what'd pop up, you know? In the science of text search, recall and precision are technical terms of art. To achieve perfect recall and perfect precision is impossible; they're inversely proportional. Never mind what that means, except for the fact that if it were not true, what we'd lose is serendipity. And serendipity makes the world go round -- like (to paraphrase the early Airplane) my plastic stochastic lover.

So somehow I ended up on an About.com page (if you'll pardon the echo) about Big Sur's Esalen Institute. Oh yeah.

He wrapped me in a warm sheet and I laid down on one of three massage tables in a large room with ocean views and an open air ceiling that let the ocean roar drift in and over my body.... As my masseuse stroked his last stroke, a thought passed through my head, "This is my true nature. I release all negative thoughts."
Leaving aside the misuse of "laid" ( | ) when things were getting steamy enough already (voulez-vous coucher avec moi?) -- plus the fact that a masseuse could hardly have been stroking his last anything -- I was so moved by that passage that I, also, released all negative thoughts... or was about to before I encountered the following "Exclusive Video from About.com." You can view it by clicking on Anne-Marie Barton's picture, below. Whoever the hell Anne-Marie Barton is, she is captured here mid-morpheme, allowing...

"Perhaps there is something to be said
for being a bit... selfish."

There's a little VISA ad before you get the video, but even that's instructive -- in a sickly fascinating culture-critical sort of way -- and if you keep watching, you'll get all kinds of useful tips on... well, you'll see.

stay tuned



Sunday, September 24

biblio-geekout II: the listing

As it turns out, there's an even faster method than bar-code scanning to load bibliographic records into Bookpedia (see previous post). I grepped all the 10-digit ISBNs out of the Mystic Bourgeoisie files on my hard drive, and used them to load 700+ titles into the database.

Here's the resulting core dump -- all on one page.

If there's an order to it, I can't figure out what it is. And be sure to read the various disclaimers. But all the books I've mentioned here are there -- and some I didn't list (there are lots of files I've started, and in some cases worked on for days, but never posted).

So from Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapy and Love and Eugenics in the Late Nineteenth Century: Rational Reproduction and the New Woman to Plan 9 from Outer Space and Surf Nazis Must Die... if you've been tracking this blog for long, it's like a cakewalk down memory lane.



Saturday, September 23

intermission: biblio-geekout

It's not often that software blows my mind, but the app I'm about to describe just did just that. I should warn you at the outset, however, that Bookpedia runs only under Mac OS X, and the barcode scanning feature (as described here anyway) requires an iSight cam -- either built-in or standalone. So if you're as much a book freak as I am, but you're using a PC, this is only going to make you drool. Sorry. (I'm sure there's a way to accomplish the same thing under Windows; I just don't know how that works.)

It was maybe a year ago that I discovered this Bookpedia app for cataloging books. I have several such applications on my hard drive, but what interested me about this one was its ability to enter bibliographic data via bar-code scanner. I never did get around to picking up the necessary hardware -- there was one called CueCat that you can still get used (and cheap), supposed to be very good -- but I just now discovered I don't need it.

As it turns out, Bookpedia is now set up to use an iSight cam as a barcode reader. When you menu select "Add Book..." you get a button that says iSight. If you click that and you've just waked up and you're me and you haven't showered or shaved yet, you see something like this -- the red bars being the scanner...

Scary, I know. But in addition to my chagrin, imagine my surprise! When this came up, I reached for the nearest book -- which happened to be Pound in Purgatory: From Economic Radicalism to Anti-Semitism -- held it up to the cam so the barcode crossed those red bars, and VIOLA! Here's the next thing that popped up on my screen...

Click ADD and there's a new record in your Bookpedia database. I should mention that you don't really need the iSight cam to do this. You can pull in such records from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Library of Congress, or any number of university libraries, by simply entering a book's title or ISBN. It's just that the scanner makes the job a snap. If you use the scanner -- or one of the major online booksellers -- the book's cover art also gets slurped in, not just a thumbnail...

Once books are entered into the database, there are all sorts of ways to slice and dice your collection. And view it. Here are some other books whose barcodes I just scanned...

Finally, I have a quick way to catalog all those books I've been referencing on this blog -- and hundreds more I haven't mentioned. Sadly, Bookpedia sucks as a bibliography generator, but I can export the data and -- with a little massaging -- load it into another app, like Bookends, to gin up bibliographic citations. Like so...

  • Brauen, M. (2004). Dreamworld Tibet: Western Illusions (1st English ed.). Weatherhill.
  • Wolin, R. (1996). Labyrinths: Explorations in the Critical History of Ideas (Critical Perspectives on Modern Culture). University of Massachusetts Press.
  • Norton, A. (2005). Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire. Yale University Press.
  • Surette, L. (1999). Pound in Purgatory: From Economic Radicalism to Anti-Semitism. University of Illinois Press.
  • Trento, J. J. (2005). The Secret History of the CIA (Reprint ed.). Carroll & Graf.
  • Jean Ziegler, J. B. (1998). The Swiss, The Gold And The Dead: How Swiss Bankers Helped Finance the Nazi War Machine (1st US ed.). Harcourt.

btw, there are also apps for music CDs and DVDs. Each is $18 (and no, this isn't any sort of affiliate pitch).



Friday, September 22

inside job

If you wonder what this is doing here, you either haven't seen the movie -- or you need to watch it again.



Saturday, September 16

delusional systems

Maybe it's a form of Stockholm syndrome -- but in this case, let's call it Weimar syndrome. To put it another way: I'll see your portrait of Leo Strauss...

...and raise you two book covers by Sander Gilman: Smart Jews: The Construction of the Image of Jewish Superior Intelligence, and Jewish Self-Hatred: Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews.

Don't mind me. I'm just thinking out loud here. But while I'm at it, why not note my recent musings about the possible relationship between pathological narcissism and clinical paranoia? The latter needn't be restricted to imagined persecution. The DSM-IV lists "ideas of reference" among the diagnostic criteria for paranoid schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder:

This form of thought disorder is characterized by a delusional belief that media content, e.g. television or radio broadcast, refers to oneself, or that others are talking or thinking about oneself.
Although what I was thinking is related to this, I guess I was thinking more about the suspicion that there are profound secret messages encoded in books -- or in the structure of reality itself -- just waiting to be discovered by an elite inner sanctum of esoteric adepts. Leo Strauss seems to have believed something like this -- along with all other types of "spiritual" occultists.

the "face" on Mars, 1976

the same area shot at extremely high resolution in 2001






Monday, September 11

leo strauss - the neocons - jihad


you say you are a patriot
I think that you're a crock of shit

stones ~ sweet neo con

Several months ago, I mentioned -- in the usual elliptically discursive and maddeningly en passant manner that substitutes for style on this blog (see, even I know it) -- something I'd read in The New York Times Book Review about a book about Leo Strauss. As I recall, the review -- and reportedly the book -- basically said that it was weird that Leo Strauss kept being associated with the neoconservative Bush League in Washington, DC. Since then, I've read a bit more about Leo Strauss, who died 30+ years ago, and have discovered that all the neocons say the same thing about him: They respect him tremendously, he was a hell of a guy, and he really liked Plato a lot, so what could be bad? But none of that has anything to with -- are you kidding? -- politics.

Uh huh.

The only reason I even bothered reading that review was that I'd just read somewhere else that Hannah Arendt refused to go out with lovable ol' Leo because, and I quote, "she didn't date Nazis." As a matter of fact, as I later read in the NY Times ($), she did. The Times review of Hannah Arendt/Martin Heidegger (Yale University Press) notes...

Referring to the death of Husserl in a letter in 1946 to the philosopher Karl Jaspers, Arendt called Heidegger "a potential murderer." But almost from the moment she was reunited with Heidegger in 1950, Professor Ettinger said, Arendt forgave him everything.

Writing a tribute to Heidegger in The New York Review of Books in 1971 on the occasion of Heidegger's 80th birthday, Arendt dismissed his Nazi past humorously by likening him to Thales, the Greek philosopher who while gazing at the stars stumbled into a well.

[NYRB link added]

In other words, your usual tangled web. But as this is the web I've lately been tangling with, that's probably why Leo Strauss and the American Right recently popped up in my Amazon recommendations. It's by Shadia B. Drury, of whom I'd never heard, so I was somewhat amazed (further demonstrating my deep ignorance of these waters) to find she has a page on Wikipedia. My interest might have ended there, had I not read that she "has called Strauss himself 'a Jewish Nazi'" -- especially as some attentive Wikieditor has added the tag "citation needed." Well goodness, I should say so!

So I went haring off to find one. There's a reference to the quote on plastic.com, but as that site is now defunct, the page 404s. However, the Google cache page is still there, and it mentions The Boston Globe. After paying the Globe $2.95 to read "The Philosopher" by one Jeet Heer (May 11, 2003), I kicked myself, because once I had the guy's name it was easy to find his site where the article is available gratis. Here's the relevant bit...

Clifford Orwin, a professor at the University of Toronto strongly influenced by Strauss, describes him as a wise teacher who counseled prudence and moderation. But Shadia Drury, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary and the author of "Leo Strauss and the American Right," completely disagrees. For her, Strauss was nothing less than "a Jewish Nazi" whose pretense of American patriotism and piety hid a cynical and extremist antidemocratic ideology.

Still wondering where she said or wrote that, I emailed Jeet Heer. He responded with blinding speed: "The phrase came from an interview I did with Drury, conducted about a week before the article was published."

So: citation supplied.

For this and other such assessments, professor Drury has been called "the bitch of Calgary" by the neo-con-men -- a label of which she is evidently quite proud (though I forgot now where I read that). Here's an excellent audio interview with her on the subject.

However, you might want to save that one for later, because what follows is a three-hour BBC documentary about Leo Strauss, the American neoconservative movement, and "al Qaeda terrorist networks." These three segments are also available on DVD.

I can't imagine a better way to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11 -- and I can't recommend these films highly enough. You'll see.

The Power of Nightmares

Part I: Baby It's Cold Outside

Part II: The Phantom Victory

Part III: The Shadows in the Cave

Further reading, as suggested by writer, producer and narrator Adam Curtis.



Wednesday, September 6

does your bodhisattva glow in the dark?


for a minute there, I lost myself...
karma police ~ radiohead


join the CIA

"The CIA's Secret War in Tibet takes readers from training camps in the Colorado Rockies to the scene of clandestine operations in the Himalayas..." ~from the publisher: University Press of Kansas

I wonder if that explains why there are so many of those bumper stickers here in Boulder (though I know that this is the real explanation.)

My point is not that Tibet should remain under China's heavy-handed control, but rather to suggest that the reasons for CIA intervention had nothing to do with preserving Buddhism and everything to do with keeping the Evil Empire from getting its hands on a substantial stash of fissionable material.

“Official Chinese pronouncements have
confirmed the existence in Tibet of the
biggest uranium reserves in the world.”

In case you doubt the source, that's from a white paper titled State of Tibet's environment on tibet.com, a site "maintained and updated by The Office of Tibet, the official agency of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in London."

So here's a question for you. Should all that Tibetan uranium color our reading of His Holiness's latest book title?

Bonus: Karma Police with Iraq footage.



In Bloom

The following is quoted from David H. Miller's Amazon review of Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire by Anne Norton. I just thought it was... well, interesting.

Bloom's Closing of the American Mind became an instant manifesto for conservative, traditional values when it was published in 1987. And, yet, Norton explains:

"The defender of youthful innocence, family values, and traditional morality was a homosexual - and not just any homosexual, either. If Bloom's students were to be trusted, Bloom's antics gave new meaning to the term 'transgression.' The rumors of houseboys in sexual servitude, the evident flirtations with students, Bloom's flamboyantly queenly manner made 'The Closing of the American Mind' read as high hypocrisy..." Norton adds that all this was "readily acknowledged" (though not in print) by Bloom's "colleagues, friends, and students."
Apologies to Nirvana for my title slug. Sell the kids for food...



Friday, September 1

no intermission





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