Friday, December 30, 2022


Tessa B. Dick is appearing on Hyperspace with Solaris BlueRaven. 9:00 pm Pacific, 12:00 am Eastern.

By clicking the image you will be directed to the stream.  Or:

Listen on your telephone: 667-930-9879

Hot Line: 702-425-9230

Monday, December 26, 2022

Analyses of the "Activity of Christmas"













How should I teach a child that Christmas is an activity? And why should I want to? 
If a small child who doesn't know the word "activity" is enjoying Christmas, can the child still enjoy Christmas? If not, then what is the child enjoying? 
Does the concept of "Christmas" attend the concept of "Christmas activity"? If not, then what is the activity the child is engaging in, and would it be incorrect to say, "The child is enjoying presents, good tidings, the presence of loving adults, but the child is not enjoying Christmas;--could it be possible the child is enjoying something else
I shew a child with a five- or six-word vocabulary (which does not include the word "activity") a present, and I pass the present to her. She recognizes the image of Santa on the wrapping paper, she opens the present, laughs, understands the object belongs to her in the sense of Locke's idea of possession/property. Is she a) theorizing, b) engaged in an activity, or is she c) enjoying Christmas?

We should draw a distinction between being engaged in "an" activity, and being engaged in activity. And why don't more students appreciate the importance of this distinction!
In what sort of culture--indeed, in what sort of "universe"--is Christmas an "activity"? Was the Nativity of Christ an "activity"? If not, then what was it? If the Nativity was in fact an activity, then what sort of activity was the Crucifixion? And the Resurrection? 
What do we mean when we say "Christmas is an activity"? And how is such a statement understood?
Say I tell a graduate student that "Christmas is an activity", and he politely notes that down. Say I tell an important philosopher the same thing, and he shakes his head in mild irritation. Who understands me best? Say their relative importance is reversed, and their responses follow in the same manner; should this influence my understanding of the statement?
Supposing Christmas is an activity; is this what we really want to know about Christmas? If so, why? If not, why not?
When the activity of Christmas ceases but the calendar on my phone insists that the date is December 25; is it still Christmas?
Say a kindly but lonely and feeble old grand-ma'ma is resolute in her conviction that Christmas is a "theory";--should I correct her? If so, how?
Say I meet someone from Mars who asks, "You say Christmas is an activity; how do human beings understand this use of the word activity?" Alternatively, he asks, "How can you be certain Christmas is an activity when so many of you think Christianity is fraught with myths that are untrue, or anyway unprovable? 
How might Aristotle draw a distinction between possessing knowledge of Christmas and understanding Christmas? And, assuming he identified a similar distinction, how would Wittgenstein compare and contrast with Aristotle in his (W's) descriptions of this distinction?

Could it be possible that Christmas is simply Christmas?

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Happiness and Good Old Highbrow Common Sense

On the matter of Plato’s “paleo-technocratic” politics, the Republic is appropriately (and characteristically) ambiguous. With Plato it is always important to keep context in mind, and in respect to the Republic the purpose of the dialogue is to define “Justice.” Approached from this angle, Plato’s “utopian” vision clearly shows that moral and political philosophies predicated on the criterion of Justice will lead to an insufferable dystopia, with all the gory details amply dilated upon in Plato’s descriptions. 

In Laws, however, Plato is not ambiguous. Clearly, the fellow comes across as a totalitarian, tyranny-mongering aristocrat. In view of the unstable world he lived in, however, maybe he has a point. And that is certainly how German political philosophers like Leo Strauss view totalitarianism; that is, they believe upon “scientific” grounds that totalitarianism is a desirable state of affairs. One would think that after finding in America salvation from the Nazis, Strauss should have embraced the land of Jefferson... Does it over-simplify the matter to assert that Strauss is “just another ogre” from the Continent who reviles English freedoms, who loathes the middle-classes, who detests Christianity, who views religious Judaism with painful contempt, and so on? Strauss notwithstanding, many contemporary “schoolteachers” championing Plato's authoritarian views evidently embrace such prejudices. Considering their influence on impressionable students, compare the Erl-King from Goethe’s poem who carries off children… 

Meanwhile, rather than “Justice”, Plato elsewhere advocates eudemonia (or “happiness”) as the criterion for ethics and political philosophy. Clearly, in this mater Plato agrees with Aristotle. But there is an important distinction. Plato argues for eudemonia in the next life, in Eternity; this world and the meager “good things” of this life are to be eschewed. On the other hand, Aristotle argues for eudemonia in this life as well as the next. Aristotle agrees with Plato, however, in stating that the ultimate purpose of happiness in this life is to contemplate God (see HERE for a discussion by Anthony Kenny).

As a matter of political philosophy, their disagreement patterns the contrasting views of an aristocrat (Plato) and an upper-middle-class highbrow (Aristotle). In theory, the distinction attends their disagreements over Plato’s theory of forms (please see HERE). More importantly, Aristotle employs the criterion of eudemonia to argue for a large middle-class (see HERE for a brief quote). Rather than utilitarian grounds (though as a matter of outcomes he satisfies these requirements), Aristotle seats his concept of eudemonia in something comparing to Plato’s emphasis on coming into contact with God, with philosophical understanding serving as the gateway to such contact.

Building upon Aristotle’s example, eudemonia is politically (and Platonically) “writ large” in Locke and Jefferson. Again, see HERE for Anthony Kenny on Aristotle’s eudemonia

Kenny elsewhere has difficulty equating Aristotle’s eudemonia with our English word "happiness”, but of course we must keep in mind that Kenny is no Lockean or Jeffersonian. Locke for him is an historical matter.  But more to the point: Kenny is an Englishman and the English don’t expect to be “happy.” Ahem. But of course eudemonia is embedded—and forcefully—in the American Declaration of Independence, and that concept of Happiness, via Locke, Aquinas, Christianity and Judaism, compares precisely with Aristotle’s vision, and wonderfully so.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Institution is the Message

In English Departments amongst the literary criticism people (not the "critical theory" people, but the history of literary criticism people), there are some reservations concerning our colleagues engaged in “Author Studies”. Their conversations, though generally interesting, often depress to matters of ephemera; eg. “What did D. H. Lawrence have for breakfast on the morning of September 13, 1913?”, etc.

Is it possible that instituting Wittgenstein in a similar project of “Philosopher Studies” is distracting students and scholars from the more “appropriate”, “competent” and “fluent” application of his ideas to institutional and cultural questions that (after 2500 years of this business) are properly the material of philosophical inquiry? The “meaning” of Wittgenstein himself suggests this emphasis is in the order of things.

In tangent to this question, I might suggest Peter Hacker's three volume study of Human Nature is pushing philosophy in the direction of anthropology, and properly so; just as Anthony Kenny is indicating that many “philosophical” questions are rather historical phenomena, and are most profitably addressed through that kind of understanding.

After all, if we are to take Wittgenstein at his word and conceive of philosophical questions as specimens of credulity rooted in the misapprehension of language, then we might have a “duty” to look at the institutions which are harboring these kinds of credulous languages.

In fine, we might echo, as it were, Marshall McLuhan, and observe that “the institution is the message.”

Marshall McLuhan

Monday, December 19, 2022

Michael Butterworth Complete Poems 1965-2020

Michael Butterworth Complete Poems 1965-2020 

Mr. Butterworth reads "The buildings are very low round here" (with music by Field Collapse)

The collection releases February 3, 2023 

Please click here to pre-order the hardback

Please click here to pre-order the paperback

Note from publisher Space Cowboy Books

For more than fifty years Michael Butterworth, better known for his work as a writer, editor and publisher, has also been a quiet inobtrusive voice in poetry, with roots lying both in the small press poetry journals of the sixties and seventies and in New Wave of Science Fiction. His work is distinguished as much for the restless intelligence, wit and intimacy of his voice as a determination, shown in many of these poems, to paint metaphorical pictures of the perils we face due to our poor regard for the fragile biosphere in which we live. In other poems, he finds, within the events of an ordinary life, scope for the transcendent, and in still others his use of nonsense and absurdity playfully captures the moment, puncturing the illusions of the self. Across his work, elements are reiterated but endlessly transfigured –

The effect is at once familiar and yet profound, in language that has the confessional qualities and simplicity of early influences such as Sylvia Plath and the Beats, and the later influence of Zen poets such as Ryōkan. Occasionally the writing is startlingly radical – a reminder of the poet’s beginnings in the New Wave.  

"Michael Butterworth's poetry is rolling news from a since-outlawed territory of ideas; bulletins filed from a redacted country, edited out of cultural continuity. In beautifully clear language, human moments are examined as though artefacts dug from the future, or the debris of a missing world. Caught in a jeweller's eyepiece, fugitive impressions from near sixty years of subterranean endeavour here condense to lyric crystal, ringing with the poet's radical and laser-guided voice. This is a wonderful collection, mined from times that aren't supposed to happen. Lose yourself inside it."

  - Alan Moore - author of Watchmen, From Hell and Jerusalem

 "This is not only a lifetime's poetic work but overwhelming evidence of a poetic lifetime. Readers should enter carefully through the author's Preface, a classy, condensed autobiography in itself and the perfect warmup for the multi-faceted, often surprising poems that follow; ranging from sharp, haiku-like observations to densely layered dramatic episodes - and always written with wordmanship, wit and a constant intelligence." 

 - Jay Jeff Jones


Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Creed of the Oracles book launch, Yenagoa, Nigeria, 11 December, 2022


Author Ebi Robert writes:

This is to register my sincere gratitude to Prof. Carter Kaplan and the entire membership of the board of editors of International Authors.

I feel this is necessary because Prof. Carter Kaplan and other members of IA have been very helpful and instrumental to the success of my debut novel, The Creed Of The Oracles.

The book was formally presented to the general public on the 11th day of December, 2022, at Yenagoa, Nigeria. And I must add that the outing was very successful. The launch was heavily graced by many lovers of literature. The hall was full, and the gospel of International Authors has already spread in my city of Yenagoa.

There was a panel session. K. Ceres Wright, Zadok Kwame Gyesi, Scott Thomas Outlar, and Dennis Casey IV were the virtual panellists who shared their thoughts on some issues raised with respect to the topic, "Worldbuilding in Phantasm and the African Writer's Literary Right to Create Foreign-like Scenes."

I will make available the video recording soonest after compressing it, perhaps. Attached to this post are some of the photos from the launch. The IA logo was also included in the banner and the video.

I want to particularly mention Mike Chivers. Mike had bought a copy of the book. He was also willing to join the virtual session. Unfortunately, there was an issue. I apologise for that. I apologise to all those who couldn't join because of the issue encountered. I hope the virtual recording will help a great deal when uploaded.

Bienvenido Bones Bañez Jr. is a brother. He did a beautiful illustration and has also promoted the work in many ways. I appreciate that.

Bill Ectric King is a handsome fellow. He was the first to get a copy of the book. He also took a copy of the book and helped promote it. I am grateful, sir.

Michael Butterworth was one of the first writers to express interest in the book. He left me an endorsement that was instrumental. Thanks sir. You are recognised.

Oz Hardwick got a recommendation of it and has been very friendly ever since. You are loved, sir.

Tessa B. Dick has been a mother. She had helped in editing my second play, and that was useful. You are a darling.

Carter Kaplan? What can I say? He is my friend, father, editor, senior adviser, and many more. Without him, this book wouldn't have come together smoothly, with the exception of God.

The list is long. Everyone in IA, I love you all.


Ebi Robert

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Public Presentation of The Creed Of The Oracles (Zoom Call from Nigeria)

Ebi Robert is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Public Presentation of The Creed Of The Oracles
Time: Dec 11, 2022 03:25 PM Africa/Lagos (9:25 a.m. Eastern US)
Meeting ID: 743 8585 0181
Passcode: UVd4kJ