Clearly compiled by a religious studies scholar. There is no doubt that the Indian philosophical tradition is often inextricable from theological andClearly compiled by a religious studies scholar. There is no doubt that the Indian philosophical tradition is often inextricable from theological and other religious traditions, but given the small amount of space here, too much is given to selections that do not have all that much philosophical import. Where texts have both religious and philosophical import, the texts or selections from texts are not edited to remove materials that have not very much to do with philosophy except in a too-broad and too-inclusive sense. Still waiting for a book on Classical Indian Philosophy that is more similar to the book on Buddhist Philosophy published by Oxford University Press. I've yet to find one. The most useful books I've found are written by Indian scholars in the first half of the twentieth century and do not include any primary sources directly, only the scholars' discussion of those texts. ...more
Reading Keats gets me high like reading Oppen, Milton, Kroetsch, and Donne has gotten me high. Maybe some Frank O'Hara gets me that high, too. I'm obvReading Keats gets me high like reading Oppen, Milton, Kroetsch, and Donne has gotten me high. Maybe some Frank O'Hara gets me that high, too. I'm obviously not suggesting that these poets' poetry has much in common, except that they all get me high. I'm just saying the poetry gets me higher than any substance I know of. Keats is hands down the finest of the Romantic poets, in my estimation. Wordsworth can go fuck a daffodil, Shelley eat a vegetable.
There's other poetry I like. But it barely warrants a mention alongside Keats and the others I've mentioned.
The pleasures of prose fiction and its worth have been what I've spent most of my adult life invested in. But on rare occasions I begin so understand why so many persons exist for whom poetry is the real portal to the gut-level true and the ineffably beauteous.
I ought to note that one doesn't "finish" reading a book like this one. But one must occasionally cease to open it. ...more
It remains a mystery, to me, how Mary put up with this dweeb. Still, as the shitty Shelley's longer poems go, this is more than tolerable. Often beautIt remains a mystery, to me, how Mary put up with this dweeb. Still, as the shitty Shelley's longer poems go, this is more than tolerable. Often beautiful, in fact, more "visionary" even than many of his other poems, featuring a Witch and a Hermaphrodite and lots of stuff that wouldn't necessarily be out of place in some youtuber's account of an Ayahuasca experience in the Amazon (only with more half-assed Platonism and desperate references to the mythology of the Classics).
If finding this guy annoying more than anything else is confirmation of my philistinism, so be it. I still think that it is a travesty that the shitty Shelley has more of a place in Romantic studies currently than the tremendously funny and stylish Byron. And you know Byron, unlike Shelley, would never be caught dead in a Whole Foods....more
As entertaining as I find Morton's later work, there is a sense in which comparing his earlier work against his later work is genuinely sad. I want toAs entertaining as I find Morton's later work, there is a sense in which comparing his earlier work against his later work is genuinely sad. I want to give this more than three stars. There's a lot here that's the stuff of genius. It's a profoundly engaging literary history, but not only that. Morton's readings of Keats, Coleridge, Charlotte Smith, and even Milton stand out as some of the better ones I've encountered. In fact, parts of the book may be considered primers on how to do original literary criticism without being an overreaching fuckwit. There's also enough here of the humour and style that makes Morton's later books worth reading.
Unfortunately, there's also a substantial amount of nonsense here. And repetition. But, in the end, it's a book that informs readers that Milton's Satan was a drug-pusher and that Dryden was a Satanist and that makes a pretty excellent argument for Keats as a master of camp. So, I don't know, just wade through the crap about charlatans like Lacan. ...more
"I knew the work of Descartes and Malebranche well, Spinoza a little, Aristotle not at all; Plato and Pascal quite well, Kant not at all, Hegel a litt"I knew the work of Descartes and Malebranche well, Spinoza a little, Aristotle not at all; Plato and Pascal quite well, Kant not at all, Hegel a little"- Louis Althusser ...more
Pretty far removed from and much better than stuff like Mad Men and Philosophy or all those other pop-culture-and-philosophy things. This book is pretPretty far removed from and much better than stuff like Mad Men and Philosophy or all those other pop-culture-and-philosophy things. This book is pretty serious and credible and the contributors aren't some wannabes stranded at rural community colleges, but serious philosophers at universities like Purdue and UC Irvine etc.
Found this to be far superior to Gesturing Toward Reality, which tended to be a bit bizarre at times. On the other hand, since these essays are written by philosophers, there are instances where, unlike a lot of literary criticism that engages with philosophy, the writers' grasp on philosophy is excellent but they appear to be deficient when it comes to the basic skills of literary criticism. ...more
"Rise to Greatness"? From the man who renounced his citizenship so he could call himself a Baron? Yeah, non-Canadian readers, 'tis true. I know it sou"Rise to Greatness"? From the man who renounced his citizenship so he could call himself a Baron? Yeah, non-Canadian readers, 'tis true. I know it sounds like a bad joke, but Conrad Black actually renounced his Canadian citizenship so he could accept the title of Baron. He has since compared the injustice of his jail sentence to the injustice of Nelson Mandela's. Roger Ebert aptly mentioned Black's "aristocratic, not to say medieval, persuasion," in an e-mail sent directly to Black. It is actually conceivable, given that this is Conrad Black we're talking about, that this book is part of his bid to eventually re-apply for citizenship, given how he's been booted out of his precious United States and also is unwelcome as Baron in his precious England.
Yet I really do find the prospect of reading 1000+ pages of Conrad Black-inflected Canadian history appealing. Because, in certain ways, Conrad Black is the Canadian we're too nice to be. More accurately, he's the best current example of a type of Canadianness that has, for better or worse, shaped this country. His mischief and madness, hidden under a veneer of politeness, the Canadian agreement-to-pretend-at-all-costs, has a certain resonance with the habits and tendencies of our many charmingly insane Prime Ministers*, our legion of batshit provincial premiers, and so on. He's less charming than Diefenbaker, but has some of the same staggering oblivious blindness and remarkable affinity for quietly showy posturing. He's not going to have a Kanye West-style wedding, but he is going to buy up all the country's newspapers so he can flaunt his and his wife's wealth and extravagance by mentioning it in every column he writes. He wouldn't do a pirouette behind the Queen of England, but he would do one on Pierre Trudeau's grave.
Best, or worst, of all: he's managed to convince Canadians that he's a historian, when he only has an MA in history, which thesis appears to be mostly muckraking concerning a Quebecois premier. Which means that he barely has the credentials to be writing this kind of book, anyway.
Some sad, pathetic part of me really likes Conrad Black and wants to be like him. Unlike the thoroughly gross rich old white men of the United States, there's a certain style and class to Black's criminal awfulness. But I won't buy this book, of course. I'll borrow it from a library, supported by public funds, hoping against hope that some of the taxes the CRA forced him to pay paid for the particular copy I hold in my hands.
*A few anecdotes: - John A. MacDonald, our first PM, drank so much before one campaign speech that he puked himself silly in public. When his opponent tried to use this against him, he found in him the wit to say: "I get sick sometimes not because of drink or any other cause, except that I am forced to listen to the ranting of my honorable opponent" - Mackenzie King, our longest-serving PM, frequently held seances to commune with his dead mother and dead dogs, all of which dogs were Irish Terriers named Pat, with one exception named Bob. Oh, and Roosevelt. He held a seance to talk to the spirit of Roosevelt - Diefenbaker ordered $685 million worth of nuclear missiles by accident, then filled them with sand to make a point -our current PM shakes his kids' hands when he drops them off at school - Chretien fucking choked a protester. Moreover, after protesters at an APEC summit got pepper-sprayed, he quipped "for me, pepper, I put it on my plate" - Trudeau did a pirouette behind the Queen of England, gave the finger to disenfranchised poor folk in Salmon Arm, said "fuck off" in Parliament then claimed he said "fuddle-duddle," declared martial law in Quebec, called farmers "professional complainers" - Joe Clark...more
"The most cynical use of women has been on the Left—cynical because the word freedom is used to capture the loyalties of women who want, more than any"The most cynical use of women has been on the Left—cynical because the word freedom is used to capture the loyalties of women who want, more than anything, to be free and who are then valued and used as left-wing whores: collectivized cunts"- Andrea Dworkin.
Yeah, Andrea Dworkin is the shit.
See, for proof, the chapter in which she exposes the ludicrous treatment of deSade by intellectuals, the countless attempts to exonerate not the writer but the man of his crimes, while ignoring his victims entirely. See, for proof, the way Dworkin reveals what an utter joke it is that Hugh Hefner is anything but another exploitative pimp.
I'm writing this on a Saturday night. It's 9:44 PM as I write these words. As a not-hideous male in his twenties who lives right by the veritable meat market known as Vancouver's Granville Strip, I am expected to be getting ready to go out on the prowl, looking to deposit my seed in some not-hideous female in her twenties. The not-hideous female will have shopped specifically for club wear, will have spent hours on her makeup and on ensuring her legs are free of any hair and that her pussy looks sufficiently prepubescent and that the hair on her head is sufficiently alluring. I am expected to go out there and buy her alcohol (aka the world's favourite date-rape drug), and play mental games with her (aka seduction), and this is meant to lead to us both getting laid (aka having utterly meaningless sex that somehow exceeds the emptiest masturbation in sheer loneliness).
And most of the above would take place against the background of the processed-into-oblivion voice of a young woman whose stage shows are identical to stripteases, except in that they are without even the burlesque or radical tendencies of some striptease. A woman, now a commodity, whose lyrics consist of various mantras of sexual "freedom" probably written by male professional songwriters. Alternatively, the background music is the swaggering bragging of a young male who really, truly seems to believe that he exists to find as many "free" women to drug and fuck and dump as possible.
Welcome to porn culture. This is what counts as freedom.
"Freedom is the mass-marketing of woman as whore. Free sexuality for the woman is in being massively consumed, denied an individual nature, denied any sexual sensibility other than that which serves the male. Capitalism is not wicked or cruel when the commodity is the whore; profit is not wicked or cruel when the alienated worker is a female piece of meat; corporate bloodsucking is not wicked or cruel when the corporations in question...sell cunt; racism is not wicked or cruel when the black cunt or yellow cunt or red cunt or Hispanic cunt or Jewish cunt has her legs splayed for any man’s pleasure... The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too"- Andrea Dworkin.
But wait a minute; the not-hideous female I'm meant to "hook up" with does not regard herself as a piece of meat. She believes, on some level, that she's like the hot pop star, twerking her way into an embrace of femininity and her own sexuality. She would laugh at what Dworkin has to say. She wants to strut her stuff, drive the cute boys wild, have a wild night out.
Wait a minute; the not-hideous male, despite his feelings on all this, kind of wants to go out and stick his dick in the not-hideous female, who makes herself so available to him. He wonders what he's doing at home on a Saturday night, having recently experienced the end of a not-quite-relationship. He, or at least what William T. Vollmann calls "Mr. Penis," wants to get his dick wet. Mr. Penis says to the better part of him: "hey, when you went out to grab smokes earlier, did you see all those fucking whores? You know at least one of them would suck your dick tonight." And Mr. Penis is right. Except he's not morally right. And here's where we find out that Mr. Penis' counterpart is Mr. Self-Righteous. This guy says: "goddamnit, fuck people who think morality shouldn't matter. Fuck people who think we shouldn't judge Mr. Penis for his desires and his frequent taking advantage of not-hideous women's sexual and emotional insecurities. Fuck people who think that's just how things are and we shouldn't strive to be better than that. I'm better than that."
And so Mr. Penis and Mr. Self-Righteous have a little internal battle within the non-self of the not-hideous male.
The not-hideous female dances away, makes out with guys she's never going to go home with, doesn't make out with the one guy she will go home with. The not-hideous male realizes that, after a while, he loses track of what the not-hideous female's thinking inside her head. And he realizes that maybe he had no idea what she was thinking to begin with, but just figured that it kinda made sense because of a few facts about her appearance.
And then he realizes that it's not unfathomable to think that she also has no idea what's going on in his head, that she's also constructed bullshit fantasies about his thoughts. That every girl he's fucked for the sole purpose of fucking has had this whole thing play out in her head about his wants and his desires and his ideals and what it means to him or doesn't mean to him that he fucked her.
That they are both probably on some weird auto-pilot ritual.
And that what they've played out is, to a frightening extent, conditioned by a culture and by systems that see him as what's there to fuck and her as what's there to get fucked and that have told them that this is what sexual freedom is: to embrace the fucking and to ignore any of the seriousness of it and to roll their eyes at the few people who think it's serious. To roll their eyes at the epidemics of STIs, at the emotional malaise, at people who believe love can exist.
And that neither of them experienced, even for a second, anything resembling what freedom felt like the few times they've experienced something like real freedom.
That they've both, but especially the male, been exposed to pornography that sends these messages over and over and over and over again for cumulative hours. That there is no way to be certain that they're actually smart or strong or free-willed enough to be able to state with anything resembling certainty that they haven't been influenced by the pornographic culture they live in.
And this is what the not-hideous male knows: that he really likes that he has so many options, so many liberated women to fuck, so many whores who comply with what corporations sell to them in the guise of freedom; that Mr. Self-Righteous is the merely the other side of the dick, the flaccid side, that Mr. Penis always wins out when he's hard. And that he doesn't just like actually fucking women who conveniently buy into the notion that freedom means being the perfect male fantasy; he also likes jerking off to them in porn. And that, to some extent, Mr. Penis is always going to be pro-pornography. That Mr. Penis is welcome in most circles, even those on the Left, the supposedly enlightened Left that embraces people's right to do whatever they want with their own bodies and that anything between two consenting adults is perfectly fine. And that "two consenting adults" are in fact consenting while they're playing out this weird drugged ritual of desperate sad fucking.
I'm young; I must fuck. If I'm single, I get horny, I watch porn, I jerk off, I see the woman on the street, I want to fuck her. Mr. Penis is so goddamn happy that she complies with my wish to fuck and then ignore her because I don't want to deal with the difficult shit, because commodity culture has taught me that not only are my laptops and iPhones and pizza boxes there for easy consumption and to be disposed of later but also people are there to use and then dispose of.
And what's really insidious about this last thing is that unlike the phones and other bullshit, I'm not even made to feel guilty about fucking somebody then ignoring them. This is supposed to be liberated. Hey, man, she also used you, they say. And that's supposed to make it alright. Hey, you're not bound by ideas of monogamy or any sort of intimacy anymore, you're not expected to actually give a shit about anyone, you're being free, just like you're free to consume everything else.
Because you don't have time for intimacy; you have to get up and go to work so you can buy shit and you're too tired to care about people when you get home at night. So they're entertainment now, like your TV and your internet. Freedom.
This is what sexual freedom as we've painted it seems to be: the "freedom" to be as uncaring, as callous, as stupid about sex as you are about everything else. The "freedom" to make sex as meaningless as everything else. And if someone points out that it's meaningless, what you're doing, you can say: "get in touch with your body. Embrace your sexuality."
And what Dworkin gets at is that this is all very, very convenient for men. Most dudes are perfectly fine with all this.
"The boys are betting on our compliance, our ignorance, our fear. We have always refused to face the worst that men have done to us. The boys count on it. The boys are betting that we cannot face the horror of their sexual system and survive. The boys are betting that their depictions of us as whores will beat us down and stop our hearts. The boys are betting that their penises and fists and knives and fucks and rapes will turn us into what they say we are—the compliant women of sex, the voracious cunts of pornography, the masochistic sluts who resist because we really want more. The boys are betting. The boys are wrong"- Andrea Dworkin.
You know what? I think Dworkin's arguments are often not arguments at all. I think she knowingly stretches the limits of truth on a frequent basis. I think she misrepresents things frequently. I think she's way in the wrong that male sexuality=violence, rape. I think she's way in the wrong in equating de Sade with the purest essence of male sexuality. In fact, I don't think she gets men at all, or understands what our deal is.
But why should she bother caring? Why shouldn't she write something this rhetorically brilliant?
Fuck the questions. It's good that this book exists. It's good that Dworkin isn't writing some deeply intellectual argument about the psychology of pornography. It's good that this is as emotionally honest and as brutal and as visceral as it is. If I hadn't written so much already I might try to analyze this book's rhetoric and get at why it's so goddamn perfect as a piece of writing and as an appeal for real justice.
Because no matter how many cases and how many things counter Dworkin's arguments, she is absolutely right in the deepest sense about everything she says here about porn and about what it means. And she's morally in the right, too.
Who reads this and thinks: hey, but *insert-not-molested/addicted-porn-girl-here* seems to be having fun? The book's not an attack on any one porn performer or director or producer. It's an expose of pornography. It's one of few grand attempts to cut through all the bullshit.
And there's so much bullshit. And while no part of my conscious self enjoys women being ignorant or fearful, while no part of my conscious self is betting on "fists and knives and fucks and rapes" winning out over calls for freedom, while no part of my conscious self wants to "beat [women] down and stop [their] hearts," Mr. Penis is perfectly happy with how much he encounters "the compliant women of sex, the voracious cunts of pornography, the masochistic sluts."
And from my male perspective, which is the only perspective I can write from or claim to speak for on any level, Dworkin got at something in me that is neither Mr. Self-Righteous nor Mr. Penis, but something that neither makes over-the-top empty moralizing gestures nor something that just wants to fuck "voracious cunts."
Dworkin got at something deeply empathetic, an aspect of my male self that acknowledges with deep horror that Dworkin isn't some screaming hysterical banshee but just one of the few people who had the guts to point out all the delusional shit and sexual-impulse-justifying crap we love to revel in.
I don't know that "the boys are betting," at least maybe not consciously for most of us. But shit, I sure hope "the boys are wrong."
And if I haven't lost a bunch of friends already I might now lose some; what's valuable on, I guess, a sort of literary level about Dworkin is that she gets somewhat profoundly at the combat between the sexes. She deals with that scary, scary thing that none of us male or female seem to want to confront. And here's what might lose me some friends: a lot of Dworkin's writing here is the female counter to the way Hemingway wrote about relationships with women. I don't think Hemingway hated women, by the way. And I don't think he was endorsing the way his male characters thought about them. I think he was being fucking honest about the way things tend to be, which is really sad and also really hard to reduce to biology or social conditioning or whatever the fuck. And I think Dworkin's being honest in the same really, really fucking rare way. And given the history of patriarchy, it matters way more to listen to the female side of that honesty.