Thursday, August 18, 2022

Caricature


Konstantin Stanislavski in Le Malade Imaginaire (1913)

Caricaturists are born with the desire to tear people apart. Daumier liked to dechirer. The method is a kind of hyperbole such as that used by Ben Jonson in Volpone and The Alchemist and particularly by Moliere le chef des caricaturistes.Tartuffe satirizes not only the hypocrisy of a religionist bit all those who follow his cult. Le Malade Imaginaire, Moliere's last play (and the one where he himself collapsed and died on stage) takes on a hypochondriac. You’ve undoubtedly met them. Molieres most complex caricature was Alceste a misanthrope who makes his own disappointment with life a self-fulfilling prophecy by only seeking those things he can’t have. If you find yourself having imaginary conversations in your head with a world of fools then you probably qualify for the post graduate program in caricature at The New School. 

read "What is Philosophy? by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "The Way You Do the Things You Do" by The Temptations (1965)


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Strange Bedfellows or Fellow Travelers?

magazine of The Communist International 

Marjorie Taylor Greene recently tweeted, “defund the FBI.” Finally, here’s an issue the right wing of the Republican and the left wing of the Democratic parties can agree on. Talk about aisle crossing. Could this be the beginning of a coalition between AOC and MTG? Would that there were an acronym to facilitate such a bipartisan effort. Similarly Retrumplicans and Deconstructionists both believe truth is culturally bound. You have to really lower the bar, but once you’re in hell you’re going to find agreement between extremes. Surely Jim Jordan and Ron Johnson can find common ground with Ilhan Omar and Bernie Sanders—as they take their seats on the boat crossing the Acheron. It all seems like a cosmic joke but it’s like the abortion rights people and libertarians in Kansas or the anti-pornography feminists and the religious right. Remember Venn diagrams? Sometimes there's just a tiny overlap between what'd contained in each circle. The Communist International was characterized by fellow travelers who carried the message, but history can sometimes create strange bedfellows. Caveat emptor! You don’t want to sleep next to someone who snores unless they have something you want.

read "The Age of Doubt or My Pillow" by Francis Levy, The Screaming Pope

and listen to "Love On a two Way Street" by The Moments

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Veritas?

Ron Desantis

Veritas is famously the motto of Harvard. Jeffrey Clark is a Harvard grad, along with Elise Stefanik. Ron DeSantis is a Harvard Law grad. However, one is beginning to surmise that graduates of the august institution whose credential carries such weight don’t need to live up to the meaning of its by word. George Conway is also a Harvard graduate. An old-style conservative who was one of the founders of The Federalist Society and a long-time critic of his wife, Kellyanne’s, former boss, he's more like it. You usually think of Camelot when Harvard comes to mind.The Kennedys, Schlesinger, Daniel Patrick Moynihan are the greats of American politics. But Harvard’s admissions policy has changed. No idealists need apply. You want to be a realpolitician--and be sure to mention Kissinger in your essay. Remember also that JFK, who bathed in Harvard entitlements, was behind the doomed Bay of Pigs. If you’re looking for truth, you probably should enroll at Yale which adds a little Lux to its Veritas, though watch out for Ted Cruz. The fact is that Harvard and Yale are naturally selective. The kind of students who get in, participate in another kind of #MeToo in which they put themselves first.


read "Social Darwinism Redux" by Francis Levy, HuffPost


and listen to "Shake Me, Wake Me When It's Over" by The Four Tops

Monday, August 15, 2022

Oddjob

There were two harrowing incidents over the past week, the attack on Salman Rushdie at Chautauqua and the shooting at the FBI office in Cincinnati following the raid on Mar-A-Lago.This latter is ominous due to the threat of another January 6 style insurrection. How many armed militias are organizing in the dark net where both QAnon and the Comet Pizza child molesters lurk? If such imagination could be harnessed America might become a nation of Samuel R. Delanys rather than "base" Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other Hardy Boy mutants? Would that this were all some cosmic joke provoking only witty locutions! It’s like nuclear power. There are consequences to all the waste it generates. Oh to disappear into one of the sinkholes engendered by the potash oligarch Rybolovlev--whose daughter Ekaterina notoriously became the proud owner of Sandy Weill’s 15 Central Park West Penthouse for a cool $88 million! BTW, the battered bowler worn by Oddjob in Goldfinger was valued on Antiques Roadshow at 30,000 pounds. One day there will be a retirement home for lethal images with Lotte Lenya’s spike joining WMDs and weapons of real world assassins in some yard sale in a blue state like Vermont. 

read "MAGA and the Coronavirus" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "Rock the Casbah"by The Clash.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Unleashing the Pandora's Box of Nothingness



Pandora with her husband Epimetheus (Sebastian Le Clerc, 1676)

No one is immune from the wish to have a genie jump out of the bottle. Just for the record, most genies emerge in the form of smoke as they wait to become anthropomorphized by a pregnant imagination. Deus ex machina is the expression often used to describe such paranormal events. Few people who read fairy tales realize what would actually happen if such powers were unleashed. It’s comparable to going back in time, ruffling a hair and thereby rewriting human history. Magical powers are an exception. Fellini represented the circus-like event that occurs when a child is deemed to have the power to see angels, but the end result is quite destabilizing since even the simplest things become potential power kegs. Even more troubling is what happens when one unleashes a Pandora's Box of Nothingness.

read "Of Mystics, Yogis and Dervishes" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Do You Believe In Magic?" by The Lovin' Spoonful

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Age of Doubt or My Pillow


Mike Lindell with one of his pillows

This is the Age of Doubt, on the right as well as the left. “Stop the Steal” and “The Big Lie” are the mantra of Retrumplicans while multiculturalists fueled by deconstruction look at everything in a cultural context—hence relatively. No apercu can be absolute since it only reflects the environment in which the “viewer” has developed his consciousness. This makes it virtually impossible for a person of one cultural or even sexual inclination to comment on that of the other. Election deniers and edgy academic skeptics make strange bedfellows. Stephen Greenblatt, the famed author of Will and the World, is one of the founding New Historians, but science under the influence of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is also no longer friendly to Kant’s categorical imperative or the notion of synthetic a priori knowledge. Of course, quanta which argues that tiny subatomic particles can be in two places at the same time—macrocosmically an argument for alternative universes, lends further credence to this relativistic New Science. How would Odysseus navigate the waters of modern philosophy where the sirens can easily be, as Wittgenstein pointed out, predicates for which there are no nouns? One thing is certain. Doubt is more a default mode than belief. It’s easier to find out what's wrong with a long-held truth than to construct or unearth a new one.

read "The Wormhole Society" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "Voulez-vous Couchez Avec Moi Ce Soir" by Lady Marmalade


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Farther and Wider



Fantasy is a liberation movement. If you live in such a world, you’re given carte blanche to do or be anything you want. Walter Mitty is the perfect example of a free spirit who’s tethered to the reality of  body and ego. In his excursions, he becomes a hero. But in order to indulge these flights of fancy, he is danger of being fit for cement shoes. If Mitty were any of the things he dreamt of, there would be nowhere to go, no world of escape besides death itself. In The Lost Weekend, Ray Milland plays the alcoholic writer, Don Birnam. The movie is based on a semi-autobiographical book by Charles R. Jackson. What happens to a writer who lives out his alcohol infused dreams? In the case of Jackson, he died from an overdose of barbiturates while trying to write a sequel to his The Lost Weekend, Farther and Wider.

read "God Bless Pig Latin America" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and watch the trailer for Erotomania