Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Stonehenge Live Stream

I was searching for the "And the Kitchen Sink Live Stream" but instead found this.  Please click HERE.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

MAXI J1820+070

Please click HERE for discussion.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Questions Poetic and Questions Philosophic, continued

Poetry = Myth (and here myth includes "intellectual mythology" and the credulous grammar where intellectual mythology makes its home)

I came on the formulation after reading Milton, Hawthorne and Melville; after talking to and reading Peter Hacker and Anthony Kenny. As an academic subject--as a path of inquiry producing new knowledge--the subject of Philosophy is
passé (compare astrology, maybe)--and that in its place the proper subject of inquiry is rather the history of philosophy. I am being somewhat contrarian to underscore a point. Walking forward from this, I should recall the idea I've here before, that philosophy is in no small measure the practice of "gossiping about school teachers and the things they say and do." One has to be careful with such characterizations, but I am very sure this is a journalistic project.

My uncle was a professor of ancient history with a PhD in Hittitology from the University of Chicago. When I was still a lad, he taught me that the history of the past 2000 years was "mere journalism". Some years later, I shared my uncle's idea with a person I was close to back in Scotland, the former Dean of Arts at St Andrews University, Donald Bullough, who was a fellow of St John's College, Oxford, and an historian with books on Charlemagne and Medieval Europe. Anyway, as I shared my uncle's idea with Donald, he winced; but then a rather bemused expression as of remembrance or "a happy insight" came over his face, and with a warm smile he insisted, "Your uncle is absolutely right!" What this means for philosophy I can't say precisely, but one would expect philosophers to include in their repertoire an understanding of the full expository possibilities given by the English language, which obviously should include a "poet's sensitivity" to the fine nuances of credulity and conceptual illusion that the language has a tendency to conjure; as well possessing a deep and imaginative knowledge of the historical contexts that frame philosophers as they exercise themselves and say remarkable (and curious) things.

Jacques-Louis David,  "Minerva Fighting Mars"  (1771)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Is "What is the Meaning of Life?" a philosophical question?

Casually, such questions appear "mostly harmless". When such questions, however, are entertained in earnest, is a philosopher really doing philosophy?

Often philosophers resort to discussing questions that are not properly philosophical questions at all, but are rather poetic questions (eg. "the meaning of life"). Not that we shouldn't read and discuss poetry, but let's not "do poetry" and call it "doing philosophy."

The distinction comes into especial focus when a "philosopher" is "doing poetry", and moreover is unaware that he or she is talking about dull poetry, and, what is even more tedious, is unaware that his or her dilation is a dull conversation about poetry.

The distinction between poetic and philosophical questions compares to what is central in Wittgenstein's conception of philosophy, I believe. 

Athena Instructs Odysseus

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Earth is passing through the stream of debris left behind by Comet Halley, October 2 to November 7: The Orinid Meteor Shower

"If you find the shape of Orion the Hunter, the meteor shower's radiant (or point of origin) will be near Orion's sword, slightly north of his left shoulder (the star Betelgeuse) . . . "


 Sources:  Here and Here.

And--October 8 and 9--don't forget the Draconid shower, here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Monday, October 7, 2019

Sunday, October 6, 2019

from Philosophical Investigations...

"276. (On Color Blue)" by Joseph Kosuth, 1993. Neon tubing, transformer, electrical wires.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Thursday, October 3, 2019

68 Cantos by William Weiss

Some weeks ago, I mentioned the forthcoming publication of William Weiss's 68 Cantos, a sophisticated, lengthy, and masterfully realized "cut up" based on the writings of Michael Butterworth.

This is a brilliantly sustained effort. It pushes the notion of "story" right to the edge--properly confusing yet consistent enough to create illusions, suggestions and impressions of a continuous and deep narrative. It satisfies the aesthetic measure:  "It is very good, but what is it?" 

To discover what it is, please visit Michael Butterworth's description (HERE) and the Amazon sales page (HERE).

Congratulations, William Weiss!

Monday, September 30, 2019

To the Unknown God

Jacopo Bassano workshop, Discourse of St. Paul in the Areopagus of Athens,16th century

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
       “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
         as even some of your own poets have said,
         “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

  Acts 17:16-34 English Standard Version

Friday, September 27, 2019

Formal Grace, Droll Caricature

Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956), Lady in Mauve, 1922. Oil on canvas

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

An Elemental Summary of Paradise Lost

A few months ago I dashed off a brief note (HERE) on William Poole's Milton and the Making of Paradise Lost.

As I said then, it is a good book.  I'll have more to say about it in future. In the meantime, here is Dr. Poole's elemental summary of the plot:

Paradise Lost (twelve books; 7-8 and 11-12 were the original Books 7 and 10).

 1.      Hell: Satan and his troops in defeat.
 2.      Hell: the devil’s assembly and Satan’s journey.
 3.      Heaven: Divine theology; the approach of Satan to Eden.
 4.      Eden: Adam and Eve; Eve recounts her creation; Gabriel challenges Satan.
 5.      Eden: Eve’s dream; the arrival of Raphael; Raphael’s narration of the revolt.
 6.      Eden: Raphael continues: the Wart in Heaven.
 7.      Eden: Raphael continues; the Creation.
 8.      Eden: Raphael and Adam discuss astronomy; Adam recounts his creation.
 9.      Eden: Temptation and Fall.
 10.  Heaven: God sends his Son to Eden; Hell: Satan’s return; Eden: recriminations, followed by repentance.
 11.  Heaven: God’s judgments; Eden: the arrival of Michael; the vision of history (up to Flood).
 12.  Eden: The vision of history (Flood to Second Coming); Expulsion.
Source: William Poole, Milton and the Making of Paradise Lost, Harvard UP, 2017, p.115.