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Peter Bruegel's "Triumph of Death" (on fairly fair use loan to the Notebooks from Madrid's Prado)

Monday Morning Bloggerback
Best of the Bloggosphere for Week Ending Dec. 4, 2005
(Carefully Chosen from 684 Trillion Posts)

Candide's Notebooks/December 5, 2005

“I consumed this weekend like a hungry premenstrual woman consumes a chocolate-glazed, double-chocolate, chocolate chip muffin dipped in chocolate.”
--From L.M. Harmon’s “She Writes About Stuff” blog, Dec. 5.

Mandatory sentences in the eleventh circle of hell: Reading blogs. The more serious the offense, the more ideological the required blog reading. No need to name names here. Given the “trackback” features encrusted in these things, that would only encourage the name-callers, though most of us know who they are. There’s that fellow- but second-generational immigrant from one of Teddy Roosevelt’s colonial outposts who loves internment camps for liberals; there’s the tallish blond lawyer of the talk circuit (let’s call her the Coulture warrior), anorexic in compassion but a glutton for bigotry; and of course on the other side there are liberalism’s copycats by default who, as they play Godot and Estragon to the Democratic Party’s frigid ideas machine, have nothing more imaginative to do than stoop, snap and snarl as tiresomely as right’s crispies. But with what—six hundred and eighty four trillion blogs out there (at last count)? One is bound to find a few gems worthy of 47 th Street’s craftsmen. Here are a few from the past week, covering a gamut’s eyelash: Thoughts on David Brooks, theocracy in Baghdad, the Pope’s Limbo, toots for Enlightenment, counter-toots for conservatism, and a couple of Vatican-friendly bits on gay marriage and sex:


  • Bustardlog on the New York Times’ David Brooks writing President Bush’s apologias pro vita sux:

I am sure that David Brooks is a smart guy.  I can tell because the acrobatic leaps of logic he makes in order to remain a Bush apologist are worthy of an Olympic medal. In today's N.Y. Times he describes the disconnect between the President Bush who his source describes as "probing and realistic," and the fatuous blowhard the public sees.  In the end, he concludes that the problem is diminishing, as "the White House has learned to think and communicate better." You see, in Brooks' world, nothing that goes wrong in our government  can be blamed on Bush.  It's simply a mystery.  Sometimes, as in today's piece, the blame can be put on the anonymous  "White House." Read the rest…

  • Juan Cole at Truthdig—one of the hopeful new signs of intelligent journalism in the universe—on the emerging theocracy in Baghdad:

The Bush administration naively believed that Iraq was a blank slate on which it could inscribe its vision for a remake of the Arab world.  Iraq , however, was a witches’ brew of dynamic social and religious movements, a veritable pressure cooker. When George W. Bush invaded, he blew off the lid. Shiite religious leaders and parties, in particular, have crucially shaped the new Iraq in each of its three political phases. Read the rest…

  • J. Kingston Pierce is the senior editor of January Magazine (the curiously eclectic web magazine in Seattle) and author of Limbo, a blog tailor-made for the emerging Pope’s latest tabula-crushing from Mount Sinai (or Monte Cassino, as the case may be): the Abolition Of Limbo. Pierce writes:

When I first read, in the London Times, the headline “Limbo Consigned to History Books,” I assumed it was merely an error, that some careless editor had intended to write “History Books Consigned to Limbo.” Despite a proliferation of works about our world’s past on the New York Times’ list of the best reads from 2005, most history texts are destined to wind up in dusty attics and the far-flung stacks of libraries. My other thought, of course, was that some Internet chieftain, some Big Brother of the Electronic Ether, had determined that my time as a blogger was up, that I had committed too many sins of cynicism or overstatement, and that the good ol’ Limbo blog was to be consigned to the sputtering junk pile of Internet failures. Read the rest… [and his latest piece on the Bush-Buchanan connection is worth the read too ]

  • Considering my own recent flirtations with the language of Enlightenment, I couldn’t possibly pass by a blog post decorated as lavishly as a Fifth Avenue shop front and not go in: Austin Benjamin (I think), a Britisher who does not give us wind of his biographical synoptics other than his Wilsonian blog title (To the Tooting Station), grabbed me with a Friday post on “The Enlightenment and the Left,” actually a review of S.E. Bronner’s Reclaiming the Enlightenment:

The Enlightenment hasn’t had a great press of late. Feminists have criticised it for its phalocentrism. Anti-imperialists and post-colonial writers have exposed its Eurocentric prejudices. Anti-totalitarians have derided its logic for ultimately leading the Gulag and the Final Solution – Adorno and Horkheimer declared ‘the curse of irresistible progress is irresistible regression’. Radical subjectivists regard it as foreclosing individuality with its adherence to science and positivism; postmodernists consider it ‘essentialist’; populists castigate its elitism; ecologists condemn its objectivisation of nature. Unreconstructed Marxist-Leninists simply regard it as a bourgeois ideology, what with its insistence on rights - what Marx once termed ‘ideological nonsense’ and ‘obsolete verbal rubbish’. Yet renewing the legacy of Enlightenment can breathe new life into current debates around universalism, objectivity, truth, multiculturalism, political engagement, human rights, liberty and religious extremism. In Reclaiming the Enlightenment, Stephen Eric Bronner calls for exactly that – taking up the legacy of the Enlightenment’s critical approach.Read the rest…

  • Some of us liberals may think conservatives are the bane of the earth politically, and the record of late isn’t too thrilling if you’re a conservative. But there’d be nothing worse than a world devoid of conservative thought with which to engage, argue, battle if necessary, and brew up a little constructive dialectic froth with. The key, of course is thought, as opposed to the kind of name-calling this blogosphere specializes in, from all sides of the. Thoughtfully: Edward Feser, a philosophy professor at Pasadena Colllege (Calif.) writes in Right Reason ( “The weblog for philosophical conservatism) a Tiramisu-like essay (for its many savory layers) on “Conservatism, Populism and Snobbery:

[W]hat we have here is once again a failure to understand that conservatism represents an alternative to the various attitudes it is falsely accused of embodying. Conservatism is neither populist nor snobbish, any more than it is either laissez-faire or statist. It does not believe that the common man is always right, and it does not believe that he is always wrong. While it is suspicious of the fleeting passions of the multitude, it is equally suspicious of those who would dismiss the deepest feelings of the mass of mankind as just so much ignorance and bigotry waiting to be socially engineered out of existence. The reason has to do with conservatism’s distinctive conception of moral and social knowledge, and with its organic view of society. The conservative takes respect for both untutored common sense and learned reflection, and indeed for both the common man and the learned man, to be essential to a well-ordered society. Conservatism regards tradition as the distillation of the moral and social wisdom of centuries, and as embodying more information about the concrete and complex details of human life than is available to any single human mind or even any single generation. This by no means makes tradition infallible, but it does entail that there is a presumption in its favor, that traditional practices are more likely to serve human interests than anything someone might dream up from the comfort of the faculty lounge or seminar room, and that the burden of proof therefore lies with the moral or social innovator rather than the defender of tradition. Read the rest…

  • Since we’re on the subject of philosophy: Mike Geiss, a philosophically minded linguist, retired college prof and author of The Language Guy, one of the blogosphere more Proustian offerings (for its marathon sentences) on “The Language of Sexism”:

One of the really interesting concepts to me is that of "date rape." Why is there any need for this concept? A rape is a rape whether it is perpetrated by a date, who might use either force or a drug to gain compliance, or a stranger who uses force or the threat of violence to gain compliance. I think this notion was created by men to put a pretty face on certain types of rapes by way of suggesting that the female might have done something to encourage the rape such as invite the male up to her apartment. Read the rest… (the Nov. 28 item, past his more recent “Note on Intelligent Design”)

  • Jesse Jess, a 23-year-old Malay student studying in Adelaide ( South Australia) and author of “The Emancipation of Mimi,” gives us “Ten Reasons Why Gay Marriage Is Wrong”:

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall. 5) Straight marriage would be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed. 6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children. Read the rest…

  • Between not accomplishing his “massive Henry James paper and controlling his irritation with trivial arguments in familiar surroundings, Phil at A Virtual Cantina found a moment of meditation on the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, and this observation even John Updike would have appreciated:

The Bad Sex In Fiction award, of course, which is annually awarded to the most ickily grandiloquent sex scenes to be found in a major literary novel. John Updike is apparently a major contender this year--hell, I'm surprised they don't just name the award after him. Every time I read one of his novels (which has been awhile, now, since I got disgusted with Roger's Version and came to the conclusion that my time could be put to better uses) I feel like joining a monastery. Read the rest…

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