YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

February 19, 2016

Is the word “liar” un-PC?

liar-woman-lyingNumerous pundits on the Right have been stigmatizing certain candidates for calling one another “liars.” I found this startling, for in the theater of politics “anything goes.”

I have been aghast at this turn of group criticism, for in my youth, I assumed that fact-checking would be a prime responsibility of citizen-journalists and the candidates too, but I was unaware then, that “the search for truth” was considered a fool’s errand, indeed, a form of “monomania.” I blame the bad reputation that rationalism and empiricism have earned in this long period of irrationalism and the elevation of “feeling” as “freedom” over critical thought; i.e., digging into the archives with appropriate skepticism and the resuscitation of relevant contexts. https://clarespark.com/2014/05/08/index-to-blogs-on-postmodernism-and-its-spawn/.

The reason that scholars are supposed to use footnotes when challenging older versions of history harkens back to the early phases of modernity, but “postmodernism” has made the use of footnotes a bad joke, for “inter-subjectivity” and the unreliability of all “texts” fits all too snugly into multiculturalism and its “perspectivism” in which “facts” are relegated to the realm of “group facts”—indecipherable to other races, though you have to dig a bit to find that out.

Or the curious reader might consider this: an alarming number of persons, world-wide, believe in the real existence of the Devil, the Great Liar, whose antithesis is the Truth conveyed by either the Gospel or by the deity “in a better place” than “this vale of tears”; i.e., the inevitable deceptions of our earthly existence.

Of course, “everybody” knows who the greatest liars are: women and Jews. No kidding. https://clarespark.com/2014/01/16/hitler-and-the-big-lie-corrected/

British professor Simon Schama addresses a seminar entitled 'Facing the Climate Crisis' at the St James's Palace Nobel Laureate's Symposium in London, on May 27, 2009. The Symposium convenes Nobel Laureates from a variety of disciplines and world experts in climate change. AFP PHOTO/Shaun Curry/WPA POOL/AFP (Photo credit should read SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images)

SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images); found on Eddie Izzard’s AZL page


August 31, 2013

April 16, 2011

The Social Network hatchet job

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 6:07 pm
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opening scene from The Social Network

At first I was interested in seeing how far the screenplay diverged from the facts of Mark Zuckerberg’s life, but as I thought about it, the more sinister significance of the David Fincher/Aaron Sorkin movie was its adherence to a pattern that I have analyzed elsewhere on this blog: https://clarespark.com/2010/05/20/criminal-minds-and-the-pathology-of-rural-america/. As Aaron Sorkin reportedly said, he was not interested in the truth of Facebook’s origins, but in creating a “metaphor.” That metaphor is not only the subject of this blog, but of many other items on this website, particularly those that criticize the nailing of technology and of technical workers who are held to be responsible for mass death—unless they are spiritualized through religion or some other influence that turns them away from their “obsession” and towards a cohesive “community.”

If you have never availed yourself of Facebook as a tool to counter the dominant mass media and academic lines that simply mimic the talking points of the Democratic Party, then you may well be persuaded by the movie that Facebook is mainly of interest to horny young men searching for “hot” girls. Perhaps the script tells us more about its creators than it does about the varied uses to which Facebook is directed. And the irony is that Mark Zuckerberg himself (according to his biography on Wikipedia) is probably a liberal himself. [Added 4-21-11: And a big Obama supporter, who agrees with Obama’s tax policies and has vowed, along with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, to give away half of his wealth.] But I am arguing here that MZ is not the target, but rather the busting up of the left-liberal monopoly of public speech in America. (And as an added treat, it is never dangerous to scorn a nouveau riche, horny Jewish swindler.)

Hence the strategy of the film, conscious or not, is to nail MZ as a self-absorbed narcissist, easily swayed by luxury (as offered by Sean Parker) and casual sex, while faithless to his true supporter, Eduardo Saverin. (Note that he remains obsessed by the girl friend who dumps him in the very first scene, and, with all his billions, he is isolated from the world, connecting only to his computer.) The last spoken words describe him as an “asshole” twice, by a sympathetic young female lawyer.

I did a Wikipedia search on all the major figures in the making of this film, and no one knows how many shares MZ’s faithful but betrayed friend Eduardo Saverin holds in Facebook, for the settlement agreement is sealed. Which brings me to another point. This film has been recognized by the Hollywood “community” as a great movie; indeed it is a well-made, even brilliant effort until you think about it. One could argue that it is a technical tour de force.

When will a modicum of ethics settle upon the world of filmmaking? How dare liberals present real people and events while  disclaiming any connection to “the truth?”

March 30, 2011

Eric Foner’s Christianized Lincoln

Columbia U. Professor Eric Foner

Eric Foner’s recent history book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery ((N.Y.: Norton, 2010) has received the coveted Bancroft Prize. In this blog, I deploy a critical tool used by postmodernists, but with a different purpose. According to the “pomos,” all history writing necessarily falls into one literary genre or another, and the “master narratives” used in the writing of the history of the West are suspect (because the Pomos reject Progress and the [protofascist ]Enlightenment). Much as I deplore the cultural relativism and epistemological skepticism of the pomos, I found such an analytic approach useful in identifying trends in Melville criticism, especially biography. Early revivers of Melville’s reputation followed the Narcissus/Icarus myth. “Ahab”(i.e., Melville) over-reached in the writing of Moby-Dick, so crashed and drowned in the crazy book that followed—Pierre, or the Ambiguities. Drowned, he was done for and lost his reading public. But a competing myth or narrative followed that one (and it is deployed by Foner in his Lincoln study): the conversion narrative as exemplified in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.  In this rendition, Melville, sobered up by the blood bath or quagmire of the American Civil War, recovers to write Clarel: a poem and a pilgrimage to the Holy Land–his very long “Christian” poem (the narrator is devout, but not the title character) and later his supposedly Christianity-infused “Billy Budd,” with Billy blessing the State that is killing him. Of course, all Melville scholarship is controversial, and Melville never followed the neat and consoling mythic narratives that are used to reconcile the deep ambivalence he felt about most issues that roiled the 19th century. Real lives, unlike myths, are messy.

Eric Foner’s new book follows the conversion narrative: Lincoln begins as a conventional white racist, but is pushed by events and the pressures of Radical Republicans away from his earlier desire for colonization of American blacks to Africa, and toward redemption. Like Foner’s massive book Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877, Foner’s latest history makes Reconstruction utterly unfinished. But in this one he more overtly praises growing state power to remedy injustice, and pulls the reader along as Lincoln “grows” even in his religious references and belief in a God that intervenes in the affairs of humans. Foner’s narrative, dry and boring as most of it is, made me weep by the time I got to the end. Hence, the reader is left responsible to remedy the deficiencies of Andrew Johnson’s awful administration and everything that follows. Foner, a populist-progressive (as far as I can tell), mentions Karl Marx only once, to buttress the notion that the real American Revolution followed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Charles Sumner is lauded throughout because he, like the other Radical Republicans, pushes Lincoln in the correct direction. This is the most positive evaluation of Sumner that I have seen since the 19th century, when he was the object of adulation in New England among the abolitionists and thousands of blacks as well. However, in his earlier book on Reconstruction(1988), Foner misreported that Sumner opposed the 8 hour day for workers (p. 481), which was not true, for Sumner came around and voted for the eight-hour day as a result of his friendship with Ira Steward. Another source reported that Sumner thought that labor was overworked and needed the time for education and leisure. (See also a sarcastic reference to Sumner, p.504, footnoting David Herbert Donald’s mostly hostile biography of [the crypto-Jew] Sumner.) So I take this deviation from the usual anti-Sumner line to be opportunistic. (In the writings of others, especially the cultural historians, Sumner is an extremist, another monomaniacal, war-instigating Captain Ahab.) We the readers are supposed to follow the lead of the Radical Republicans into the Promised Land of racial equality, whatever that means. (For a related blog noting the triumph of communist-inflected black nationalism see https://clarespark.com/2012/12/01/petit-bourgeois-radicalism-and-obama/.)

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