The title of this note comes from Mary Renault's The Praise Singer.
The novel, which is a good one, covers the politics of ancient Athens, somewhat prior to the start of the Persian Wars.
One of the circumstances it relates – the assassination of Hipparchos (brother of ruler of Athens) by the lovers Harmodios and Aristogeiton over what were (essentially) personal reasons.
This story was later re-written as being the killing the reigning tyrant by a pair of democrats seeking liberty is one of the earliest known examples of conscious, self justified distortion history for political ends (see Thucydides).
The mention of conscious distortion is poignant, for me at any rate, of feelings I have at the moment.
You see, I find the conscious distortion objectionable, because regardless of the virtue of a political position, historical truth is more important: to disregard is to me evil. That is a small thing, and I only mention it as an example.
Similar actions by people I have known for sometime, people that might be allies to my political goals – albeit on considerably to right of my own positions.
For one example, how should I think of someone who can take joy in 'our' mob closing down a rally by 'their' side (specifically the cancellation of a Trump rally in Vancouver). Dismissing principals of in the interest of some greater politics: there is the kind of speech that makes a point that this just isn't acceptable.
In another instance, what do one say to a person whose response to criticism of the current president's failures leading up to 2014 elections, is to embrace expediency and the Führerprinzip: what we've got is pretty good and should only be defended.
I could point out how privileged some people are, to live in regions and situations where they have support, and perhaps even majority political status.
Or I could raise the practical issues: consider the reverse situation. I wonder if they could bring themselves to extend such feelings to the person who refused to provide road side service because they disapproved Sanders for President stickers on the care.
I'd like to write off the behavior of these people I have known for some time as political naivete, but I cannot.
I feel I have lost them to evil, an evil which I see more around me. And I feel ashamed.
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Friday, May 6, 2016
...just because you don't like what is said?
Article critical of transgender movement sets off debate about 'The Antioch Review'
Surprised cudos to the administration of Antioch College for standing behind the Antioch Review and free expression. A positive change from my days there.
Posted by Stephen Montsaroff at 4:15 PM
Thursday, May 5, 2016
I find Hilberg the most interesting Shoah (Holocaust) historian, and pass on some of his comments on the events and the history:
On how to conduct history...
I have never begun by asking the big questions, because I was always afraid that I would come up with small answers.
As Josephine Tey said, the truth is in account books, not books of accounts.
As to "how it could happen"...
As the Nazi regime developed over the years, the whole structure of decision-making was changed. At first there were laws. Then there were decrees implementing laws. Then a law was made saying, "There shall be no laws." Then there were orders and directives that were written down, but still published in ministerial gazettes. Then there was government by announcement; orders appeared in newspapers. Then there were the quiet orders, the orders that were not published, that were within the bureaucracy, that were oral. Finally, there were no orders at all. Everybody knew what he had to do. [Emphasis added]
As to "why it could happen"...
The missionaries of Christianity had said in effect: You have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed had proclaimed: You have no right to live among us. The German Nazis at last decreed: You have no right to live.
As to how our role in our own destruction in Europe -- such as the actions of the Juenräte (Jewish Councils) -- was rooted mistake assumption of European Jews:
I had to examine the Jewish tradition of trusting God, princes, laws and contracts... Ultimately I had to ponder the Jewish calculation that the persecutor would not destroy what he could ...exploit. It was precisely this Jewish strategy that dictated accommodation and precluded resistance.
On where the Shoah fits into the world's history:
The 20th century merits the name "The Century of Murder." 1915 Turks slaughtered 2 million Armenians. 1933 to 1954 the Soviet government encompassed the death of 20 to 65 million citizens. 1933 to 1945 Nazi Germany murdered more than 25 million people.... At present times genocidal strife is underway ...The people of the world have demonstrated themselves to be so capable of forgetting the murderous frenzies in which their fellows have participated that it is essential that one, at least, be remembered and the world be regularly reminded of it. [Emphasis added]
On forgiveness (summarized from memory):
On existential level, for the survivors, forgiveness may be beneficial.For the rest of us, it is presumptuous.
Posted by Stephen Montsaroff at 11:39 PM
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
“Reality denied comes back to haunt.”
― Philip K. Dick,
I lied to myself for years about who my allies were. No more in redstate.org by Ben Howe (a contributing editor for Red State and right wing media producer), despite its provenance, is not worthless to read.
It attempts to cautionary about the bloody obvious, still:
“It's always too late for sorries, but I appreciate the sentiment.”
― Neil Gaiman,
Posted by Stephen Montsaroff at 10:32 PM
Saturday, April 23, 2016
|A historian belives that this is the only surviving image of William Shakespeare produced in his|
lifetime. To the right of the head is a cipher, which translates as William Shakespeare.
original Yuie (as she shares a cognomen* with my daughter Eugenia) -- in 1978.
Arthur Weyne’s sister used to take the Avenue A bus from 10th Street to Houston almost every work-day morning. "At Fifth Street," he recalls her telling him, "almost every morning, a short, frowzy, chunky shlump of a woman would be waiting for the bus and board it with groans, glowers,protests, and have exertions. She carried bundles – always. They were of a clumsy dimension, varying sizes and divers degrees of vulnerability; there were never fewer than four."
"She always paid her fare grudgingly, then flopped into a seat at the front, sometimes commandeering one with an authority no one ever disputed, and sat there frowning, creaking and giving off emanations of menace. Since she had started her cascade of complaints on the step of the bus, and went on from her seat, haranguing the driver: he stopped too far from the curb; the step was much too high; the fare was unreasonable; he drove like a wild Indian. She went on beyond Houston, so my sister never knew whether she ever stopped caterwauling.
"One day in April, as my sister's bus was approaching Fifth Street, she was relieved to see that Complaining Cora – as of course she known: her name was Cora – was
not at the curb.
But a woman was waiting for the bus, and the driver stopped to take her on. Lo and behold! – my sister insisted this was the only way to express it – the woman was Cora: bundleless, dressed in a lovely frock, a flowered hat and long white gloves. More startling than her costume was her face. She was beaming – pleasant, jovial, gay.
"Cora didn't merely board – she made an entrance. She paid her fare, even the coins tinkled gaily. Then the startled passengers began to call out, 'Is that you, Cora – really you?' The driver pulled the bus to the curb, stopped and faced her, 'What's "hoppen", Cora?'
"'Nothing is "hoppen"', she said, as though proclaiming an amnesty. "'Today is Shakespeare's birthday.'
--Lawrence Van Gelder New York Times,
The Living Section, page C2, June 27, 1979.
*Look it up
Posted by Stephen Montsaroff at 11:46 AM
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Those who know me best, often accuse me of being obsessed with tidying up.
Mind you this is largely because I am the one telling them to pick things up.
But I have been enjoying cleaning up for this Pesach (Passover).
We will be hosting both a first and second night Seder again, but the second night will be somewhat special, as invited the cast from the play I was participating in will be joining us.
Despite the play being put on by the Seattle Jewish Theater Company, half the cast were not Jews, and the Jews mostly had other plans, so it will be for me an ecumenical affair.
But back the to the cleaning.
The idea of cleaning before Pesach is to remove Chametz – leavened items (also to get the gook out of the shelving).
Anthropologically, this may relate to an older festival of restarting the bread yeast at the turn of the seasons, which was coupled with a lambing holiday.
There is a rabbinical teaching (some older than Corinthians I 5:8), that this makes Pesach a useful time to think of what is metaphorically old and tired dough, and remove it.
Sort of making the holiday (which is also a Jewish New Year) do double duty.
So, between contracts, having finished the play, and I suppose I should give this some thinking* on what I should/need to clean up in my life.
I try and get rid of bad habits, or figure out what do with my life.
There is also garden weeding, the family filing system, and the front gate.
Taking advice from the cats, nap first.
*Queue the dog standing on its hinder legs comments.
Posted by Stephen Montsaroff at 3:49 PM
Monday, April 18, 2016
The article, Why populist uprisings could end a half-century of greater economic ties - The Washington Post, is somewhat pedestrian, as are most the the comments in it.
One stood out to me, for its cluelessness
"There’s a sense that it [trade policy] hasn’t delivered,” IMF chief economist Maury ObstfeldYou think?
It is not a sense, but a fact that it has not delivered for a lot of people
One would expect in a democracy, that if a lot of people had a serious problem with a policy, we would call it a valid point -- at the very least.
Instead these people get:
Not only does that beg the question, it misses the point. Going forward as we have been has backfired for lots of people.
“Trying to go back in time, trying to safeguard the achievements of the past will backfire. Because we cannot do that,” said Hans Timmer, the World Bank’s chief economist for Europe and Central Asia.
As a response, this is just as bad as:
“This movement toward isolationism and the movement away from trade is very bad for poor people,” Kim [World Bank President Jim Yong Kim] said last week in Washington.Gee, losing your way of life, too bad, but in the long run it will help people you don't know -- and the very rich.
I have often wondered if the extreme hard turn toward 19th Century liberal economics and the end of the Soviet threat as and economic, and then a political model, may have some relation. It would make an interesting doctoral thesis question 100 years from now. Assuming we still have history.
Posted by Stephen Montsaroff at 5:13 PM