Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Milton? John Milton? He was not a philosopher! Or are you being facetious? I can't tell."

I recently posted the following on a facebook page dedicated to the subject of Analytic Philosophy:
I do not believe there is a philosopher who thinks as deeply, or--more importantly--as clearly as Milton. A person looking for philosophical insights is choosing the wrong field if he or she skips studying Milton for a program in Philosophy--indeed, isn't that the very conclusion that analytic philosophy itself must necessarily come to?
Was I being disingenuous or mischievous?  No, not at all. I meant it.  One interlocutor didn't quite know what to make of my statement:
Milton? John Milton? He was not a philosopher! Or are you being facetious? I can't tell.
My response was to direct him to one of my Highbrow posts on Milton's Project.

And then to a post concerning Bernard Bailyn's book on The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, which can be read by clicking HERE. Then I found myself jotting down my thesis concerning Milton's Paradise Lost as an expression of Analytic Philosophy:
The end of this post [on Bailyn's book] segues into the subject of Paradise Lost as an expression of Milton's anthropology of human understanding. Paradise Lost presents a synoptic overview of a variety of propositions concerning knowledge, human nature, language, politics, gender relations, consciousness, myth, mythographic representation, human identity, intellectual mythology, insight and illusion, apophatic theology, and so on. Unfortunately, the Miltonists don't know enough about analytic philosophy to read his satire at this depth, and the philosophers are unfamiliar with the grammar and literary traditions Milton parodies to construct his arguments.
Well, I might observe that when it comes to Milton's satire and philosophy, people can't tell if Milton is being facetious either.  To cut to the chase, he is, and that's Milton's point concerning everything, from the human condition to what have you.  Something more on this may follow.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

International Authors Web Site Updates

The International Authors website has been updated to include Emanations: Foray into Forever, and Aziz Mustafa, who has joined the editorial board. Please click HERE to view the description of the new book.

Highbrow Heroes

When asked, "Who are your highbrow heroes?  Xenophon?  Peacock?  Anscombe?" I will nod and say, "Yes, but of course!" Then catching myself, I will tilt my head to the side and add, "Truth be told, however, us Highbrows are actually men (and women) of action.  Indeed, it is a little known fact that in order to enter the Highbrow Commonwealth, you must first get out in the world and hone your thinking abilities (or highbrow-ness) by doing something BIG.  And it doesn't matter if you succeed or fail--the true measure of your highbrow-ness is the degree to which you observe how your thinking responded to and integrated with the situation you were in.  William Wordsworth has something like this in mind when he reflects that the proper subject matter of poetry should be "strong emotions recollected in tranquility."  Therefore, in addition to Xenophon, Thomas Love Peacock and Elizabeth Anscombe, I'd like to add the names Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise, Jr. to the list of heroes that I consider worthy of recommending to the highbrow community, and to posterity:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Radio Free Albemuth

Tessa Dick's interview with Radio Free Albemuth director/screenwriter John Simon has been archived. Please click HERE.

Discussing Hate and Ethics with the Gypsy Scholar.

Please click HERE.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tessa B. Dick and John Simon discuss Radio Free Albemuth

Tomorrow on her program Ancient of Days, Tessa B. Dick interviews John Simon, the director/screenwriter of Radio Free Albemuth, the new film based on Philip K. Dick's novel of the same title.

The program begins Monday at 3 p.m. Pacific, 6 p.m. Eastern.  Click HERE to listen.

Incidentally, Tessa has an essay about PKD and the film A Scanner Darkly in Emanations: Foray into Forever.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Solar Eye Candy

Read about the Solar Dynamics Observatory HERE.

Are you a Sun Watcher?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Peter Dizozza

The other night I dined with Peter Dizozza, whose poetry appears in Emanations: Foray into Forever.  We had Indian food and discussed, well, Indian food... and otherwise compared notes on New York, writing, and the production of the new book, in which he has two poems. One of his contributions is a lyric about Orson Wells, and the other is a passage from the libretto he wrote for an opera called Paradise Found.  And, yes, we talked a lot about Milton. Accompanying himself on piano, he performed a section of Paradise Found. I learned that the entire opera had been staged at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, and we discussed the logistics of staging an opera in an art gallery.  

Peter performs "The Orson Welles Song" HERE.

Click HERE to view the entire Paradise Found opera.

According to a description I found on YouTube, Paradise Found opens like this:
In this variation of the Adam and Eve Story, Victorianus befriends a serpent while on his vision quest. He takes the serpent home. The serpent offers to be called by various names, Bishop Faustus, Magway... but it is really Lilith dressed as a serpent offering to take Victorianus and Pristina back to the Garden of Eden. Can the serpent be the savior? Let's ask Prometheus...
Peter Dizozza is a native of New York City. Since 1999, Peter has been Theater Director for the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center. His musical theater background and focus on artistic collaboration has led him to a number of opportunities including composing the score for the 2014 Off-Broadway show, 155 Through the Roof.  Visit his website HERE.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"International Authors is our Mars Rover..."

Vitasta Raina has blogged about the new book.  Please click HERE.

Vitasta Raina

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A word from the Gypsy Scholar

Professor Hodges has blogged about the new book.  Please click HERE.

Prof. Jeffery Hodges lecturing.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Promethean Subtlety

“Perhaps the history of the errors of mankind, all things considered, is more valuable and interesting than that of their discoveries. Truth is uniform and narrow; it constantly exists, and does not seem to require so much an active energy, as a passive aptitude of the soul in order to encounter it. But error is endlessly diversified; it has no reality, but is the pure and simple creation of the mind that invents it. In this field the soul has room enough to expand herself, to display all her boundless faculties, and all her beautiful and interesting extravagancies and absurdities.”

 - Benjamin Franklin, from his report to the King of France on Animal Magnetism, 1784

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pink Floyd... Anything of Highbrow Value Worth Remarking Upon?


The following video unpacking the Wish You Were Here album has been the subject to recent International Authors back channel discussion:

A few notes:

Barrett's genius is "inspirational." The experimental character of the band's approach--which I take to be Barrett's legacy--especially pre-Meddle, is worth considering as we work through our own creative projects.

Meddle is an OK album, but "Formula Floyd" by this time was established, and as they imply in the video, their success--or rather their mastery of the mechanism of "product"--was in some ways disappointing. Ironically, perhaps, their interest in experimentation yielded opportunities in the marketplace that these young men just could not ignore. I am skeptical when they suggest they were somehow puppets of the record industry. These fellows were never the record company's dupes. They owned their own business (as much as anybody could in that industry), though their criticisms of the industry remain valid, I suppose. It's rather like they are saying, "What a beastly bore it was getting rich." There is a video elsewhere about the Barrett days, and a person from that scene said that Barrett was accessible, while the other three were toffs. I gather they were rather middle class, which for the person talking was enough to call them toffs.

The negative "message" and vibe of the albums after Meddle make it difficult for me to listen to those albums, and I don't.  Really, anymore I don't listen to their music at all.

And that's all I have to say about Pink Floyd. As a coda, however, I would like to point in another direction, and this is the most useful observation I have to make about Pink Floyd. In the following selection are two pieces from the album Three Friends by Gentle Giant. The final track here, "Three Friends" is very Floydian, and I remember telling my friend when I first heard it, "Wow, this is better than The Floyd." His response was a rather idiosyncratic but nonetheless apt observation: "The Floyd is better than The Floyd," which I take to mean that the band's conceptual approach, their emphasis on invention, and their exuberant creative energy exceed what Pink Floyd ever accomplished musically. This is not to denigrate them in anyway, but rather to highlight their adventurous spirit, which is worth inquiring into. Anyway, I grow windy. Here are those two tracks from Gentle Giant: