Thursday, 22 December 2005

Texas Is Like Slippers Visiting friends and family in the middle of Texas puts your life in California in perspective. All those minutes you steal from your dissertation to blog, for one, disappear into the communal life of your parents' house. Cooking. Cleaning. Conversing. You also lose the time you normally use to think about your blog. Like when you're standing there fixing a sandwich and processing that paragraph you read this morning. Or when you're sitting there eating that sandwich and thinking about that last comment someone left on that entry you should've thought more about before posting it. Those stolen moments become the property of others when you're at home. You talk to your mother as you grab the mustard. You talk to your sister as you slice the bird. You talk to your father as you wash the lettuce. You talk to your brother as you grind the pepper. You talk and talk but you never really say anything you haven't thought before because you're on the spot. With no time to formulate new ideas you take comfort in the ones you have. The familiar patterns of exchange you fight so hard to avoid in California become old slippers in Texas and you like old slippers. A history of your feet worn into a pair of slippers your mother bought you when you were thirteen and which she breaks out every Christmas for you to wear again. You are not the person you try to be in California. You are who you are in Texas. And there's nothing wrong with that. Except that you neglect your blog. Which you won't anymore. You promise.
Today Is My Birthday, Pa Rum Pum Pum Please change the words of your favorite holiday song to reflect the birth of the most important Jew ever to be born during the holiday season: Me. Then sing that song as loud as you can. Preferably in public. If anyone asks you to explain yourself tell them I commanded you to do this. When they feign ignorance tell them they should know better than to incur the wrath of "Kaufman the Jew-Nosed Reindeer." Or "Scotty the Snowman." Or "The Tin Drummer Boy." the Advantages and Disadvantages of Analytic Philosophy For Life: Fear Factor! Posted by John Holbo on 03/01/06 at 09:27 AM First, Sean’s new post, just down the page, is really interesting. And you shouldn’t miss it. Second, John Emerson has a set of interesting posts up at the Weblog (first, second, third) in which he goes on one of his trademark tears against analytic philosophy, while offering some thoughts on what we should have instead. He’s been reading John McCumber, Time in the Ditch, and links to some posts I made about McCumber way back. So I should really weigh in on this, particularly since in part III John quotes Gerald Dworkin, from L2R, with whom - luck would have it - I shared a BBQ stingray and couple bottles of Tiger a few weeks ago; with whom I discussed these very subjects. (He came to Singapore. Nice guy.) Unfortunately, I can’t lay hands on the McCumber (I even ordered it for our library myself, but somehow it never showed.) But I’ve got a different McCumber book - Reshaping Reason - so that will have to do. For a couple reasons I think it may be even better. But I’ll wait and see how discussion goes. What I want to do with this post is ask John an utterly friendly question because, although he and I have had some good conversations about this before, they have been marred by rather tragicomic miscommunication over ‘analytic philosophy’. Obviously it’s a sort of family resemblance/genealogy mix. But I (very standardly) take Frege, Moore, Russell and Wittgenstein to be the ‘founders’ of analytic philosophy, as well as paradigm samples of the what the thing is like (with appropriate qualifications - e.g. no one else writes like Wittgenstein); whereas John has (very non-standardly) taken analytic philosophy to be a post WWII development. Specifically, he sees analytic philosophy as significantly contemporaneous with developments in the post-war professionalization of the discipline. I am happy to debate about that, but am not willing to use ‘analytic philosophy’ in such a way that paradigm analytic philosophers turn out not to be analytic at all. Humpty Dumpty is right about how you can mean what you like. But in this case it’s way too confusing. I am also somewhat suspicious of John’s habit of turning analytic-pedigree philosophers he likes into non-analytics, thereby immunizing his case from immanent critique by counter-example. But if he’s moderately careful, I’m OK with a little of that. I need to know whether...

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