Thursday, 29 July 2021

I am (still) working on the book full time (i.e., No More Manifestos).

I had thought I was at the stage of final editing --just removing a few typos, etc.-- but I now can read the book as a whole (from start to finish) and I find that the first few chapters are not as well written as the final few --and so more revisions will ensue.

I do think that all of the changes now will be stylistic, rather than substantive, but as the month of July comes to an end, the book is not (yet) finished.



Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Don't Make Excuses for People who Make Excuses: the Slogan, the T-Shirt, the Lifestyle.

Did I coin this slogan?  According to Google, I did: this is one of many (MANY!) turns of phrase that the internet has no record of before I said it… although it seems as if it should be in common usage (frankly, it seems as if you might find it printed on a t-shirt!).

Whenever I search for this kind of thing, I'm wondering, "Did somebody say that in a movie I saw as a child… ?" --i.e., I'm wondering if I really made it up myself, or if there's some familiar source for it that escapes me.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Book Review: Troy Parfitt's Critique of Jordan Peterson in, "The Devil and His Due".

[In my interview with the author (in the video above) I repeatedly hinted at my skepticism about what the author did and how he did it… well, in this short review, I'm not just hinting, but stating the problem much more explicitly.]

(1) The book does identify a great deal of Peterson's "source material", i.e., the books that influenced his work --with many of these being books that Peterson openly says that he's a big fan of, but a few of the most important being covert (rather than overt) sources of inspiration.  This is a significant contribution.

(2) I did interview the author myself (for my youtube channel) and I felt he gave a better presentation of his views in that interview than he does on paper (perhaps because I was challenging him to do so, stating skeptical questions, asking about more than one possible interpretation of the evidence, etc.).  The book undermines its own premise more often than it supports it, veering off topic (e.g., did we really need this long digression on Fyodor Dostoevsky?), and making little to no effort to prove the connection between the author's symbolic interpretations and Peterson's (genuinely incoherent) source material.  Occam's razor always favors dismissing Peterson's "philosophy" as having no hidden meaning (and no clear intent) in his writing/lectures at all; yes, even in Peterson's most provocative statements about Hitler, these could have no significance beyond the professor's struggle to keep the attention of his students, they could really be nothing more than the efforts of a boring, middle-aged man trying to seem edgy and interesting in his interviews, when he really has very little of substance to say.

(3) To be blunt: the author asserts, "this is the symbolic significance of Horus, Osiris and Marduk in Peterson's work…" --but does he prove the assertion?  No.  Does he make it seem credible or compelling?  No, not at all.  Is it possible, instead, that Peterson has no philosophy whatsoever in his (extensive, incoherent) use of occult imagery?  Yes: it could just be stupid.  And it could be that what Peterson has to say about Hitler is stupid as well. 

(4) However, returning to point #1, he does establish the sources Peterson was inspired by, in his incoherent commentary on Horus, Marduk, Communism, Fascism, etc. --and, again, this is a significant contribution.  

(5) If you're willing to "edit" the book yourself, by skipping over many pages, this could still be a good purchase for you… but if a professional editor from the old school had been involved, the text would be less than half as many pages long as it now is (perhaps one third).  Alternately, if the book were edited to meet academic standards of methodology, it would need to be rewritten much more radically, to explain to the reader why and how it is proving what it does at every stage --and with what implications and what limitations.  

(6) In our interview, he said just a few words about his socio-linguistic approach to tracking the common (i.e., derivative) use of vocabulary and phrasing between sources (i.e., Peterson either intentionally or unintentionally reproduces the same expressions found in books that have influenced him, including odd phrases used by Hitler).  The book utterly fails to explain this, and fails to make meaningful the innumerable pages of parallel quotations comparing Peterson's phrasing to Hitler's --and for the vast majority of readers, this will (fairly or unfairly) discredit the book at a glance.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Satire or flattery?

 

No, I did not create this image myself.  I assume it was created with satirical intent, but hey… if you know the source material, it comes pretty close to flattery.

Source 1: https://imgur.com/5OOwLEg

Source 2: https://gurugossiper.com/viewtopic.php?t=17337&start=700


On Failure.

 


Thursday, 27 May 2021

The Right and the Wrong, the Rich and the Poor.

W.H.,

I won't dilate the issue infinitely, but it may be worthwhile to pause to imagine just how nearly-infinite the expansion of the issue could be.

What I find about the left is that they will use the name of the poor (and the idea of poverty) without actually taking the slightest interest in who the poor are, or what they want.

You know, I studied Cree and Ojibwe at First Nations University (this is on my C.V.).  I could say something similar about the left wing's interest (or lack of interest) in the indigenous people: they are interested only in the symbol of what these people are supposed to represent, not the reality of who they are.

The left dehumanizes the very people they pretend to champion.

In the United States of America today, who is more Christian, the rich or the poor?

In the United States of America today, who is more racist, the rich or the poor?

And the poor: what is their perspective on the decriminalization of drugs?  And on border control?  And on immigration?  And on transgender hormone replacement therapy?  And on practically every issue that the "urban sophisticates" of the left wing imagine themselves to have the sole, morally-correct position on?

Poverty becomes a pretext for a left-wing agenda that has nothing to do with who "the poor" are, or what they want.  The left will claim that the world could only be improved by giving all of the United States the same permissive policies toward addictive drugs that Seattle already has --while, in fact, it is the poor who suffer most by living in close proximity to the drug addicts, and who most need the police to enforce the laws to make their neighborhoods inhabitable.  The residents of Calabasas, behind their high walls, can endure decriminalization; I, in my neighborhood, cannot.

And if we care about improving sewage treatment, or the healthcare system, or the university education system, whose opinion do we turn to?  Is it the poor who know the answers to how we should reform any given institution?  No, inevitably, we turn to someone with expertise or experience salient to the problem, and it is extraordinarily rare if the person with that expertise is poor --even police reform is entirely the domain of educated elites.

From my own biased perspective, the irony is that the quality of education in the United States and Canada is SO ABYSSAL that the rich have no advantage over the poor: people with university diplomas know little more than high school graduates in this culture.  So, we have a situation of "hollow elitism", in which the opinions of the rich and well-educated are esteemed for nothing.

I would warn you, again, that I am probably more "left wing" (policy by policy) than you imagine me to be: but I am extremely cynical about the things left wingers are idealistic about.

Meanwhile, if you look at the politics of any foreign country (i.e., that the observer has sufficient detachment about) you'll immediately sympathize with the wealthiest, western-educated elite, rather than the poor, or rather than the populist leaders who pander to the poor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanathorn_Juangroongruangkit

Thanathorn here was educated at NYU's Stern School of Business, and I think you'll find him more sympathetic than the rural poor who voted to continue to be ruled by a military dictatorship!

E.M.






Saturday, 22 May 2021

[From 2006!] On the Misinterpretation of the Philosophy of Max Stirner.


Oh, you want the "TL;DR" version?  Max Stirner's philosophy has become less obscure in the years since 2006, when I wrote this uncompromising critique of the only available version of the text in English, and sent it directly to the author of the introduction, David Leopold (who is also credited as the text's translator, but I suspect he merely revised the wording of someone else's translation).  Leopold actually received this and replied to it (by email) and I daresay he seemed mildly horrified.  Perhaps you will be, too.  THE PHILOSOPHY OF MAX STIRNER IS LARGELY MISUNDERSTOOD IN ENGLISH, and it certainly doesn't help that (1) the translation is poor, and (2) THE INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK IS EXTREMELY DISHONEST AND MISLEADING!


(The youtube video, linked above, was recorded by a younger version of myself in 2017, living in exotic Yunnan, China… whereas the text that ensues below was written by an even younger version of myself, in 2006, living in Vientiane, Laos!)

1.

... [T]urning to the introduction provided by David Leopold (Ibidem, pg. xxxi), we find a badly flawed sketch of this important aspect of Stirner's work:

[Leopold:] ... [W]hen Stirner talks of the egoist being 'owner' of the world it seems simply to indicate the absence of obligations on the egoist --a bleak and uncompromising vision that he captures in an appropriately alimentary image:

[Leopold quoting Stirner:] Where the world comes in my way -- and it comes in my way everywhere -- I consume it to the quiet hunger of my egoism. For me you are nothing but -- my food, even as I too am fed upon and turned to use by you. We have only one relation to each other, that of usableness, of utility, of use. We owe each other nothing. (p. 263)

Leopold has disingenuously foisted this interpretation onto the source text. The sup- posedly "bleak and uncompromising vision" that he alludes to on page 263 is in fact a description of a bird singing in a tree for the sheer joy of creating its own song; the image is not "bleak", but positively ebullient. Stirner's words immediately preceding the quotation that Leopold has taken out of context are as follows: