Friday Night Fragments #17

I wasn’t expecting to be able to get a Fragments out this week, given real life obligations, but I’ve been productive so I was able to rally. The next few weeks are still looking a little sketchy, so there still might be a bit of a hiccup going forward. We shall see…

I know some people had a few questions about my “name change“.  The more interesting ones focused not on the name, however, but on the new symbol I’ve been using. Yes, it is an original creation. Yes, there is a certain symbolism woven into it. No, I will not be revealing what that symbolism is in a further post. Have some semiotic-type fun if you’ve got some free time to kill this weekend.

I was discussing with a non-NRx friend the web of relationships that exists among various government branches, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the media, and academia (so, kind of Cathedral, but with a few other elements thrown in). The first analogy I used to explain this was that of nodes in a network. We played with the concept a bit, and the discussion kicked up a notch when we began discussing the roles of individuals operating in this network of institutions.

The analogies flowed through several different metaphors, but long story short, we began talking about modeling the various layers of interactions (humans forming institutions, institutions giving rise to systems…etc) as chemical reactions. I then remembered that Goethe had a similar idea (or something along those lines), so it looks like I’ll be digging into some of his stuff at some point in the next few months.

Speaking of Goethe, I’m aware that many have claimed that he was the smartest human to have ever lived, and have suggested that he had an IQ in the range of something from 200 – 225. While I certainly can agree that Goethe was a very smart individual, I am skeptical that there is much utility in trying to figure out his exact IQ. IQ definitely has a role in explaining human intellectual achievement, but it seems that once we get into the realm of trying to figure out the intelligence quotient of someone who died almost 200 years ago we are well and truly missing the forest for the trees.

I’ve been seeing a lot more newspaper articles implicitly critical of Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu lately, as well as ones implicitly praising his biggest opponent in the upcoming elections, Isaac Herzog. Additionally, Al-Jazeera recently claimed to be in possession of leaked Mossad documents that undercut Netanyahu’s claims about the Iran nuclear program (though there has been some push-back on the authenticity of those documents and how important they really were…notably only by Jewish media…take that as you will).

How curious, indeed, that all this seems to have come together after Netanyahu announced that he would go forward with his speech to Congress against the wishes of president Obama.

Netanyahu is under attack. Someone (or someones) wants him gone, and the Cathedral is beginning to mobilize.

Is the media setting a narrative in this case, or is it becoming the victim of a narrative that is being formed? There is no reason that these two things cannot both occur, and one gets the sense that this is very much what is going on here.

There are also a few other juicy details in the supposed documents. The Guardian has a decent write-up.

If you look at the top of the page, you might notice that I’ve added a “Best of ‘The Legionnaire‘” page. I figured I’ve written enough material at this point that I can sift through and make note of the best and/or most important pieces I’ve written. Recent pieces are well-represented, for the simple reason that I’ve become a better writer over the year and a half I’ve been blogging.

The new season of House of Cards was apparently released today. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a causal fan (though I make an effort to see through the illusions that the show means to cast upon us). I find it to be a delight to watch, though current circumstances are not expedient to my viewing it anytime soon. I have countless friends who are obsessed with this show, so I’ll never be without insight on the way this show grabs hold of the future minds of the brahmin machine. If I dig up anything really good, I might bang out a post or two in the future.

Celibacy, fasting, penance, mortification, self-denial, humility, silence, solitude, and the whole train of monkish virtues; for what reason are they everywhere rejected by men of sense, but because they serve no manner of purpose; neither advance a man’s fortune in the world, nor render him a more valuable member of society; neither qualify him for the entertainment of company, nor increase his power of self-enjoyment? We observe, on the contrary, that they cross all these desirable ends; stupify the understanding and harden the heart, obscure the fancy and sour the temper.

-David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

You can learn a lot about David Hume by reading this passage. You can learn that he was externally-focused, that he rejected extremity of actions, and that he felt that sensible people would seek to engage with the world and would reject those actions that took them out of the world instead of putting them more fully into it. He was also an extrovert. These are the obvious points that everyone should see (the low-hanging meta-hermeneutic fruit, as it were). I could go on much further, but I have a point to make here.

Now consider a philosopher like Kant, who was obviously an extreme introvert who just didn’t grok people, and who built up an entire worldview in which everyone should act like exactly such an individual. We see fairly clearly how ingrained the typical mind fallacy is even among the giants of philosophy.

In circumstances like this, I think of the immortal quote by Cardinal Richelieu: “If you give me six lines written by the hand of even the most honest men, I will find something in them to hang them.”

The point I mean to convey is that you can learn a hell of a lot about people by looking at what they say when they are attempting to convey their thought. This isn’t intentional, but people can’t not reveal themselves in everything they do. They are always telling you who they are. They never stop.

Are you listening?

Finally, because it has become imperative to weigh in on the great schism of our time:

The dress would look better on my bedroom floor.


7 thoughts on “Friday Night Fragments #17

  1. nickbsteves 02/27/2015 / 9:23 PM

    That Hume quote is just a perfectly set diamond in the crown of hyper-rationalism. In the great Protestant/Puritan/Leveller etiology I try to refer to this spirit in contradistinction to the older Catholic one. This one statement characterizes it better than anything I can construct. Just imagine a group of praying monks who have sacrificed all worldly advantages for a chance at a relationship with transcendance. And whether you actually believe in the existence of the transcendant or not, now imagine yourself hating them, shitting on them, holding as utterly worthless the lives of these me. That is the spirit of modernity. That ALONE encapsulates the spirit of modernity. It is astounding in its almost perfect wickedness. I’m gonna memorize that one.

    • Donovan Greene 02/27/2015 / 10:49 PM

      It’s a snippet that perhaps merits a post of its own. There is much to discuss in those two sentences, and you’ve touched on a very important point.

  2. Aeoli Pera 03/01/2015 / 1:20 PM

    Probably got the Goethe stuff from me. Good place to start is hmolpedia, THE destination site for human chemistry weirdos:

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