Sunday, January 28, 2018

Jordan Peterson

Canadian thinker Jordan Peterson's intellectual star is very much on the ascendancy these last few months.  This interview is a must-read as far as I'm concerned...

The ending especially is worth your time.

A sample:...

OK, so moving on. When trying to explain to people your ideas, one drops in the term ‘postmodern neo-Marxism,’ and they just look at you and go,” What on earth are you talking about?” Can you not come up with a more accessible term? 
Well, there are analogies. “Social Justice Warriors” is a pretty good one. It’s a bit more pejorative. But the thing is, we are at a point where people have to actually understand what these things are. Because we are in a war of ideas, and if it’s solved at the level of ideas then there won’t be a war.
Is “cultural Marxism” better? 
It’s an oversimplification because it doesn’t take into account the effect of the postmodernists. And I actually think the postmodernists were worse that the cultural Marxists, because they identify the cultural Marxists within the Frankfurt School, and there is some utility in that although its complicated.
There was far more excuse for the cultural Marxists than there was for the postmodernists. Because the cultural Marxists were reacting to Nazism. They had their reasons for being terrified of the radical Right and they had their reasons for trying to set the Left straight. Now, I think they did all sorts of perverse and corrupt things but it’s kind of like the original revolutionaries in the Soviet Union. They didn’t know it was going to be a century-long bloodbath. So, there was a little bit more excuse for their revolutionary utopian fervour.
Are you familiar with Daniel Farber and Suzanna Sherry? They wrote a book: Beyond All Reason: The Radical Assault on Truth in American Law in 1997, which attacked critical race theory. They faced much of the same criticism that you have: that they were bigoted and so on. Part of their argument was to ask the question: “Do Jewish people enjoy white privilege?” because if they do, then the concept of white privilege begins to sound anti-Semitic, doesn’t it?  What do you think of that argument?
How about Asian people, do they enjoy white privilege? There is a major problem with [the privilege] argument, especially with regard to Asians. Asians are the fly in the ointment for the identity politics types because the Asians are suing universities all across the United States for discriminating against them. Which they do! You have to do way better as an Asian to get into an elite American university. Otherwise, the Universities would be just full of Asians.
So what do we do about that? Nothing! You select on merit and you let the bloody cards fall where they are going to. And then they say, “Well your mechanisms of merit are polluted by your patriarchal presuppositions.” And the answer to that that is, partly! But you don’t have a better solution! So you use objective measures despite the fact that they are flawed because they are not as flawed as whatever other things you’re going to use.
One of the ways that left-wing ideologues seem to be winning is through Wikipedia. If you go to the “White Privilege” page you will find that it’s effectively postmodern propaganda… 
It is a very intelligent point of entry for someone who is activist-minded. Why the hell wouldn’t you go on Wikipedia and gerrymander the contents? You have an ethical duty to do so.
And one of the ways this is entrenched is that the sources that underpin these misleading Wikipedia pages are professors who are peer reviewed…  
Ha! Peer-reviewed…that’s such a lie! First of all, 80 percent of humanities papers are not cited once. That’s fraud! That’s what that is, right. 80 percent, that’s a very bad number. “Peer-reviewed” means you have conjured up a specialty journal that only you and your friends publish in. You each review your own publications. Then you go the library, and say “You have to buy this.” And the library says, “Because you said so we have to buy it, because that’s our mandate.” And the publisher says, “Oh good because we will sell it to the libraries at a price so inflated that the mere fact that no-one ever reads it is irrelevant.” Right, and so then the libraries buy it. And that’s your “peer-review”. 
So it becomes a circular argument on Wikipedia because when you want to introduce criticism, say, by a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, and they say, “Well he isn’t a professor of critical race theory…” 
Exactly, they say, “He’s not qualified”. That’s what they keep telling me. They say: “You’re not qualified to comment on that’ and I say, “Well, you’re not qualified to comment on anything!’” This is part of the reason why I am unpopular in Canada: because I keep saying that these are pseudodisciplines. They bear no resemblance whatsoever to a [scholarly] discipline. And that would be all of the “Critical Studies” areas. They have no intellectual credibility whatsoever. They do far more harm than good.
This is what Janice Fiamengo keeps saying, and she deserves more attention because she is quite the character. She is Professor of English Literature at the University of Ottawa and she was deep into Women’s Studies for a long period of time and then learned that it was fraudulent from top to bottom. She has been making videos and going around campuses ever since, to quite vicious opposition. But she is a tough cookie, man.
Yeah, so, Sociology? It’s done. Social work? It’s corrupt. Faculties of education? They are so done they are not salvageable, as far as I can tell. Anthropology, history, literature, the humanities, generally speaking, they are done [Tammy: law!]. Law is the worst of the bunch.
We are finished then, aren’t we? If the lawyers are against us?
The law is really bad. I had no idea how deep the corruption in law had gotten until last year. I have been talking to law students and professors and it’s absolutely unbelievable.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Swann In Love

“Poor Swann,” said Mme. des Laumes that night to her husband; “he is always charming, but he does look so dreadfully unhappy. You will see for yourself, for he has promised to dine with us one of these days. I do feel that it’s really absurd that a man of his intelligence should let himself be made to suffer by a creature of that kind, who isn’t even interesting, for they tell me, she’s an absolute idiot!” she concluded with the wisdom invariably shown by people who, not being in love themselves, feel that a clever man ought to be unhappy only about such persons as are worth his while; which is rather like being astonished that anyone should condescend to die of cholera at the bidding of so insignificant a creature as the common bacillus.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Henry VI

I've never read it.  So far these two passages have caught my attention.

You are disputing of your generals.           
One would have lingering wars with little cost;           
Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings;           
A third thinks, without expense at all,           
By guileful fair words peace may be obtain’d.

Glory is like a circle in the water,           
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,                     
Till by broad spreading it disperse to nought.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


I don't think any great novel has been cynical.   I don't think any great art has ever been cynical.  To be cynical is fundamentally to deconstruct, to carp, to cavil.  The test of greatness, the core residuum of its existence, by contrast is of making--building.  I don't say that there must, in a great work, be no trace at all of cynicism--for to make the universe is to make a universe complete, and no universe is complete without cynicism. I suggest only that it cannot be the animating force, the core elemental structuring device.