Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Creepy as hell

Oil rig worker says he saw Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 burst into flames | Perth Now

Women in power stymied by gender bias

Women in power stymied by gender bias

Gillard's reputation as a negotiator, and what she describes as her focus while in office on ''how you get it done, the pragmatic things, even the compromises, the things that are necessary to achieve change'', made it hard to for the electorate to understand the matters on which she would stand and fight. While a male leader might have been praised for passing more than 570 pieces of legislation and his pragmatic capacity to get things done, Gillard may have been punished for violating the stereotype of female politicians as a moral cut above the rest because of the perception she lacked moral bottom lines.

Read more:

Let us get away from crude and overly simplistic ways of defining privilege


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chris Hedges | Suffering? Well, You Deserve It

Chris Hedges | Suffering? Well, You Deserve It

“The basic conventions of public discourse are those of the Enlightenment, in which the use of reason [enabled] us to achieve human objectives,” Offer said as we sat amid piles of books in his cluttered office. “Reason should be tempered by reality, by the facts. So underlining this is a notion of science that confronts reality and is revised by reference to reality. This is the model for how we talk. It is the model for the things we assume. But the reality that has emerged around us has not come out of this process. So our basic conventions only serve to justify existing relationships, structures and hierarchies. Plausible arguments are made for principles that are incompatible with each other.”

Friday, February 28, 2014

This is what I saw in Marechera's writing

Why Creativity Is Risky Business | Psychology Today

Highly creative people, it turns out, break through the usual constraints and let in a lot more of the available information, and thus they need to process and organize this increased information flow in untypical ways. The term for thistrait, Carson explains, is cognitive disinhibition, which Carson describes as “the failure to ignore information that is irrelevant to current goals or to survival.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Contentious Disciplines | Clarissa's Blog

Contentious Disciplines | Clarissa's Blog

I'm currently rereading a book that came out a long time ago, in 2001, called THE LIAR'S TALE.  It was very big in the USA, I believe, perhaps one of those listed on the New York Times best seller of books (do I have that reference right?)

Anyway, the author just really, really hates postmodernism.   It's not like he hates it with nuance, but in a basic, crude fashion.  He maintains it is fanciful and immoral.   But then he begs the question as to what is not fanciful and what is moral.   It's really not so self-evident as his own rhetoric would imply, especially by virtue of his very strong stance against this movement.   Although he makes one or two historically-based arguments about what he thinks is going on when movements develop, he falls back on a rhetorical appeal to gender differences, ultimately.   At least that his how I read him.  He literally says that Descartes thought that to embrace the truth was "manly and strong".   So by implicit contrast, postmodernism would be feminine and frail, not unlike Eve in The Garden being deceived by a duplicitous snake.   This kind of appeal to "common sense" is common in books written around that time.  Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate makes the same implicit argument: science is masculine and ought to be respected, but social engineering is a project of the left and is silly because, biologically, we're just not "like that".

USA intellectuals, it seems, really need to learn to make an argument that does not implicitly and surreptitiously appeal to how American Christians have learned to evaluate gender.  What these writers do is very predictable and intellectually fraudulent.

Friday, February 14, 2014

"Common sense" Vs. the shamanic tragic modality

There is a way in which I write and think, which is often taken for almost its precise opposite. This is due to philosophical unsophistication, but also to the attribution of emotionality to women. I'd like it if we could rise above superficial tendencies, to view historical and personal circumstances in more complex terms. The tragic modality, related to Nietzsche's ideas, involves a double-take in perception of the past. One assumes a capacity for action on the part of all humans, including the protagonist. Then also, one also recognises that fate can overcome the one who would choose his/her own destiny. By putting together these two dynamic aspects of existence, one ascertains the presence of tragedy. But if one responds to a text or a philosophy in a basically passive mode, one will not sense tragedy, but rather pathos. Women's texts are thus read as lacking a tragic component when the critic implicitly assumes that no dynamic action would have been possible either on their parts or on their behalves. The critic thus betrays his or her fundamentally flawed thinking.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014



Perhaps it’s time for all the human rights advocates and lawyers to stop appealing to Australia’s good sense. Perhaps it’s time we dispensed with the idea that Australians can be reasoned with and if they’re just given the facts, they’ll make the effort to figure things out for themselves. It’s not going to happen. We want short slogans, simple solutions and lots and lots of drama.

The unknown universe: black holes and narcissistic spite

The unknown universe: black holes and narcissistic spite from Jennifer Frances Armstrong on Vimeo.
Not all that exists appears visible to the naked eye, not just in the physical universe but in the realm psychological as well.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The need to have a fully runged ladder of the mind

Why Nothing Gets Done | Clarissa's Blog

Why Nothing Gets Done | Clarissa's Blog

It seems to me that groups of people advance their collective interests by making, as it were, chemical changes in the environment around them. Just as different forms of animal and vegetable life alter their environments to maximise their chances of survival, groups congregate together and emit this primeval ooze, which looks a lot like religiosity. That there is no consistency between their professed aims and values and the ooze they emit is no real criticism of this phenomenon. A defensive weapon doesn't have to look like and spell out exactly who you are in order to be effective. In fact, it is far more effective if it looks nothing like you and just appears automagically when you need it.

All the same, an environment protected in this way becomes slimier and less interesting to those of us who do not need, or cannot use, that sort of protection.

I'm not a guardian angel or "great persuader".

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Books on Rhodesia/Zimbabwe

2013 in Review and Blogging Suggestions | Clarissa's Blog

So far as I am concerned there are two camps of writers in the world.  I am oversimplifying a little but I think this helps to clarify what seems to happen.  There are those who write from the perspective of the assumption that identities are good, that they are consistent and morally defined in almost an apriori way.  One has ideals, which may be disappointed, but one battles through.  Then there are those who write as if they don't know what their identities are; they feel themselves to be just an open eye looking out onto the world.  This affords them a very wide perspective on ethical and political issues.

I find it very hard to read books from the perspective of those who have a closed identity, because they alienate me politically.   I see what they are saying, and yes, lives are tough and the world is harsh, and people are manipulative and awful and do the wrong thing.  But I also feel that my own life has been in many ways unnecessarly tough and manipulated.  So I can't produce the reaction that may be expected -- that colonials are/were evil and non-settlers automatically authentic or good.

I think the better writers avoid making us think in overly simplistic terms.  Their writing is harder to read, certainly more painful, but it's more real.  If I want to know how it felt to be on the other side of the war, growing up, I read Marechera's HOUSE OF HUNGER.  Self-righteous people disparage the writer for his madness and his wildness, but the truth is they want a docile, Christian nigger whom they can poke and prod at:  "show us your wounds!"

Marechera, rather, makes you feel his wounds, as does the writer of WHITE MAN, BLACK WAR.  This gets beyond the narrow moralizing tendency that satisfies superficial people as it bolsters their sense of identity and so gives them something cheap at the writer's expense.

If you want to know what the war meant for the people in it, you would do well to try to understand these more complicated writers.  But this is exactly what Ango-Saxon readers do not want to do, as it spoils their nice view of there being good and evil in the world, along lines of well-delineated identities.