Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sex, Love, and Lock & Load

U Wisconsin Law Prof Ann Althouse had a question, 'Why no student protests against the Iraq War?,' to which I gave the following reply:

'But once I saw in the dark, and now I see in the light.' VN is the prism which draws the light which is broken into its components and we, the boomers, see America and its foreign relations. To understand the protests, one needs to go back to the fifties, to Lassie and Leave it to Beaver, sanitized from commie thought after the black list, and Eisenhower who said to his Press secretary he would answer a tough question by addressing it with an apparent sincerity and malapropism (which would cause people to lose interest and Daddy would take care of it). Then we had our War and maybe we weren't democratic because Eisenhower said 'they would only vote once' and didn't support the Geneva accords ending the previous war in 1954, and we faced the Vietnamese somewhat phase shifted and fighting against French colonialism and Japanese holding rice in warehouses, at that point directing the French, while 2 million Vietnamese starved. But they were patriots and collegial in their own Comintern, which is why VN has worked out better than North Korea. Suddenly the leftist virus was released and we, having been kept previously from exposure to it, were infected. And Richard Nixon freed us. We had our own 'communism' without knowing it which we inherited in fighting the identitarianisms of WWII and the Cold War. We had been owned by the state. But we were freed. The draft was not a law of nature like complementary winter and summer, mirabilu dictu. And we saw the signs of infection in ourselves, for example 'Cambodia' and 'communism' both start with 'C's; 'what the hey?' And the vitims in our own society when we went to work in it turned out to be victims a lot of themselves though it was hard to see that from the distance of a University, and even more we found it took real effort to produce and accommodate ourselves to it; so we, at least selectively, rid ourselves of the virus. But now the children are exposed to viruses all the time, which is possibly why they sometimes feel 'global warming,' but an overwhelming infection is not to be anticipated.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Origin of Islam

Aramaic was once the lingua franca of a vast area of the ancient Middle East, similar to what English is today or Latin was in Europe in centuries ago. It has now given way to Arabic, but according to some researchers, Syriac or Syro-Aramaic was also the root of the Koran. When the Koran was composed, Arabic did not exist as a written language. Aramaic, however, was still widely used between the 4th and 7th centuries in Western Asia. Ibn Warraq estimates that up to 20% of the Koran is incomprehensible even to educated Arabs because parts of it was, in fact, originally written in another, though related, language before Muhammad was born.

The author of the most important book on the subject – a German professor of ancient Semitic and Arabic languages – prefers to write under the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg. Not because of lawsuits of “racism,” but out of plain fear for Muslim violence. According to Luxenberg, the chapters or suras of the Koran usually ascribed to the Mecca period, which are also the most tolerant and non-violent ones as opposed to the much harsher and more violent chapters from Medina, are not “Islamic” at all, but Christian:

“In its origin, the Koran is a Syro-Aramaic liturgical book, with hymns and extracts from Scriptures which might have been used in sacred Christian services. […] Its socio-political sections, which are not especially related to the original Koran, were added later in Medina. At its beginning, the Koran was not conceived as the foundation of a new religion. It presupposes belief in the Scriptures, and thus functioned merely as an inroad into Arabic society.”

An interview with Luxenberg is here. A Jew, wondering what the problem was from the Moslem faith, converted for 3 years. He says the problem is not the Koran but a commentary, perhaps alluded to in the interview with Luxenberg. Recently half of the Christians in Iraq have left. They are Aramaic speakers. It would be of interest to have Iraqi refugees teach us Aramaic. I had originally brought brought this discusssion up in an earlier post which I had shifted to 'Draft' but am reposting.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

War Morality. Haaretz answers the question in the air. Amnesty International don't hurt your noses on the trees.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Reaction to sacking of the head of the Vatican Observatory

Continuing the psychological discussion, Freud's conceptualization of cathexis in the Project for a Scientific Psychology is more central to the issue of depression than is the old canard about 'your angry at somebody and it is unexpressed.' Psychoanalysis is more like case law than a double blind investigation and we can overemphasize aspects of a case. The psychoanalyst might say, 'Life is about getting and giving up.' It is the 'getting,' the cathexis, that provides happiness; the difficulty in 'giving up' inhibits us from getting there. In therapy or development, one should emphasize the Aim, not the defense. The emphasis on anger may suggest that we should control, by aggression, the object that has not given us what we want, which may be to encourage a regression to a grandiose attitude. To reflect on recent posts, this is the Gentiles complaint about Trotsky or other frustrated Jews, that, for example in the case of the Russians, they were not treated as objects in themselves. But I was depressed today by the Pope's action. I very much liked the Jesuit who was head of the Vatican observatory for the position he took against 'intelligent design' and even more admired him for taking it. I understand that one can get into a transcendental feeling and it is perhaps best not to limit that a priori, but to assert it simply has no place in science. For me the syllogism: idiot = Pope, Pope = Jesus, QED "You're a good fellow Charlie Brown" works pretty well.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Self revealed in clothes

Was Kant the predecessor to Freud? As I understand it, Kant said we really can't perceive what is outside. We only have our senses of it. On the one hand that seems a mathematical quibble. On the other a kind of mystical insight. When I was young, someone asked me if I could believe that old comfortable in itself looking brown wood chair was made of atoms? Kant preceded the rise of Chemie. But really, from Kant it is but a derivative philosophical step to psychoanalysis which has our emotional life as a grounds for perception.

"Threadbared," isn't that a clever neologism? One smiles at hearing the word. Dr. DeLoache, noted in the left column, in discussing someone psychotic he interviewed who had presented himself bizarrely in public, said that it was our appropriate ideal to 'stand naked in the world.' One senses that he did not mean that literally but in ways that one can imply, and I thought it was his most gracious statement about a patient, who could be seen as an ideal. The blog "Threadbared" takes the Kantian/Freudian notion that in our clothes what we perceive as fitting the occasion may, without our sensing it, express ourselves 'nakedly to the world.' The post "What are friends for" cleverly takes up the unconscious expression of an identity arising out of the relations of 3 people.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Trotsky and Shoah

Kesher Talk's recent noting of Trotsky sparked in me a reflection on how much Jewish involvement in the Red revolution in Russia sparked a German response against the Jews as 'the river in which the revolutionaries swim' to adapt Ho Chi Minh. Solzhenitsyn has a recent book 'Alone Together' or 'Two Hundred Years Together'* which ideally would cast light on the reality in Russia. Though it has been used as a polemic for answering my question positively, the reality, cf. the generous review of noted scholar Richard Pipes and another very interesting Russian source review, seems to leave the ascetic author correctly viewed as autistic. One could view the evidence as suggesting that the hypothesis of my opening sentence is an intellectual bridge too far.

The psychological fact would seem to be that Trotsky's action challenged those who believed in Jewish dhimmitude and the role of the Jew in this challenge became the primary problem with communist Russia, its other defects flowing from that, rather than the Red revolution being an unfortunate totalitarianism destroying the world of Chekov and Tolstoy and common men in which some Jews, ? apostate, but mostly others, nonorigined participated. Nevertheless, it would have been better for the Jews and everybody else, given Lev Davidovitch Bronsteins's being successful as head of the Red Army, if he had followed that admonition which almost undoubtedly occurred to him, "Es ist nicht bar dir." As Anna Freud told me in a letter of August 9, 1971 " is very necessary to come to terms with oneself before one is really able to do something drastic about the environment, whether the drastic action is positive or negative."

*compendium of reviews here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tres Leches of religious dessert o quatro o dos o uno

Was interested, consequent the DaVinci code, in the feast day or Memorial Day of Mary Magdalene which occurred in the Catholic calendar 22 July. One might focus on the experience of Mary Magdalene, which is the fulcrum of Christian faith. In the Gospel, John 20:1-2, 11-18, Mary goes to the tomb and finds Jesus not there. She enquires of a man she finds in the vicinity, ? the gardener, where he might have been moved to. He speaks. She sees that it is Jesus, and she says 'Rabuni, which means teacher in Hebrew.' The priest who discussed the Gospel passage in the course of a Mass did not talk with disdain of caring for those lesser than us but rather that 'we all have had the experience of finding our Lord in others I think, a family member or someone we know in business ... and hopefully others have found Him in us,' one might say a Gnostic perspective. This is a message in the book reviewed by Oswald Sobrino on this feast day. This book and review give a Spanish noble attitude, which is distinctive and attractive in its chivalry, which finds the Lord in the other.

'It is not unusual for a pack of animals to function in a group but what makes the species man successful is its ability to trust its understanding of the intentions of another, an outsider.' After the delirium of the creation of the earth and sky and our first parents, what strikes me as the coming into a consciousness of the real in the Bible is the competition of Cain and Abel, which has perhaps the most dramatic denouement in literature when the murderer finds in himself the voice of G-d saying 'Am I my brother's keeper?' Thus of course the discovery of the perspective of G-d coming from man appears early in the Bible. Returning to Mary Magdalene, she respectfully calls Jesus 'Rabuni.' In this we do not find the fierce hostility to other Jews heard in other parts of the Gospel. Less emphatically do we not not hear a differentiation between a G-d and man. Being the dearest part of the Christian faith, this experience would seem least likely to be corrupted in the retelling. In the day's Gospel, perhaps we find the Gnostic hope, the transfer of the life of God in another. It is said that the early and main part of the Koran is of Syriac origin in Aramaic and was Christian prayers to be carried to the Arabs. Being from about the fourth century it may have been before the suppression of the Gnostic heresy. The Gnostic view would seem to be on a delicate balance in terms of helping I Thou ethics. If we should find the Lord in ourselves and others, then, given sufficient rank as the monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella had in Spain, to make that easier, others should be like us. My friend Dr. Perez, whose father was the foreign minister of Ecuador, said to have helped Jews escape from Europe, once, in speaking of his origins, pointed out that his name was really the same as the prime minister of Israel. There is an amusing story that the Spanish language changed when a crown prince could not pronounce a consonant and the 'dj' sound that he gave it became proper Spanish. Perhaps such a transformation in needing to find the Lord in others has occurred in Islam.

Reflections on 'Belmont Club'

Solzhenitsyn's austerity, ironically, represents an increase in our 'material possessions.' The conjunction of his views and ours can lead to statements that a Texas girl might call a "hoot," one such "It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Comes from Le Monde an interview with French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, who describes how his country's diplomatic goals were served by negotiating a ceasefire which left Hezbollah intact.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

An interview with the former Israeli Defense Force Intelligence Chief

"The root of the problem lies in how the residents of the Middle East look at the world and at their situation," Kuperwasser says as he expounds upon his doctrine about Israel's neighbors. "The approach that unites all the extremist elements in the Middle East, and enjoys political clout in the Middle East - because it speaks to the guts of the masses - says they are victims. They are not responsible for their fate. The reason their situation is not good is because someone had it in for them. The perception of Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaida, Iran and Syria, and of many among the Arab public, many of the people on the street, is that these outsiders, the Israelis and the Americans, are responsible for their fate because of their ambition to exploit them. That is a philosophical conception. And therefore Israel is a threat by its very existence, even when it does not shoot. They have a deep sense of victimization."

Maybe there is something to that feeling?

"It's nonsense and is not grounded in anything. It is a very good method to absolve yourself of responsibility for your fate."

A great interview. Mohammed confirms the above point in a more sympathetic and disappointed fashion.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Jew in Catholic Theology

Mr. Sobrino had an intersting post and comments in 'The War and a Teaching Moment for Catholics.' The folowing was a submission for comments that was not accepted, from Commonweal:

the Gospel of John portrays Jesus telling his disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If Jewish covenantal life with God has never been invalidated, however, do Jews need baptism to be in a saving relationship with God? On the other hand, if Christians do not seek to convert the Jews, hasn’t a fundamental Christian teaching been jettisoned, namely, that Christ is essential for everyone’s salvation?

The answers to such questions depend on how (the recent encyclical) Nostra aetate is interpreted. And some recent interpretations show how pivotal that declaration remains. In a November 2005 essay in First Things, Cardinal Avery Dulles offered a minimalist reading of Nostra aetate, claiming that the council “left open the question whether the Old Covenant remains in force today.”

There are several problems with this assertion. True, the declaration did not explicitly use the word “covenant” to characterize the enduring relationship between God and the Jewish people. Yet by rendering Romans 9:4-5 in the present tense (“to them belong the covenants”) and by invoking Romans 11:28-29 (“the Jews remain very dear to God, for the sake of the patriarchs, since God does not take back the gifts he bestowed or the choice he made”), Nostra aetate clearly affirmed the special relationship between the people of Israel and the God revealed in the Bible. This affirmation was later echoed by Pope John Paul II, who unequivocally and repeatedly stated that there exists “a covenant of eternal love, never revoked by God” between God and the Jewish people. More recently still, Pope Benedict has observed that “the favor of the God of the Covenant has always accompanied” the Jewish people, from biblical times to the present day, “giving them the strength to overcome trials.”

Two lines of registration are required at Commonweal to read the whole July 14th article, one of the best at this Catholic lay magazine.

Update: Mr. Sobrino this from Ignatius Loyola, Jesuit founder, in his Aug 15 blog:

At another point in the book, an Italian cardinal is quoted as comparing Escrivá to Saint Ignatius Loyola: as the Spaniard Loyola was the saint who implemented the Council of Trent, so the other Spaniard Escrivá was the saint who implemented the true vision of Vatican II (Allen, p. 17). (By the way, before reading this quote from a cardinal, I had written much the same thing earlier in this blog.) Here is what Loyola himself said about the possibility of being Jewish: "I would consider it a special thing to be united to Christ, our Lord, and to Our Lady, the glorious Virgin Mary, with ties of blood!" (quoted in Roy H. Schoeman, Salvation is from the Jews, Ignatius Press, 2003, p. 341).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lamont, an archetype?

Learning more history, that Lamont is the grandson of Corliss Lamont, who... Well here is how the story goes. Corliss' father was a director for JP Morgan investment banking and became a wealthy man. Corliss was then wealthy by inheritance, became a fashionable Communist and was head of the ACLU from 1932-54. He continued his devotion to lefitsm through his life. Intersting this wind of history and suggested ambivalent conflict with the father should come through into current events. It perhaps sheds a little light on the current problem in the Democratic party. In a view the stuctural theory of personality analysis, there is the idea that ruler of self expression or superego holds in check infantile expression. The ego or operational area of the personality is ideally to some extent neutral in this fight. On occcasion though the ego gets identified with the unaceptable impulses and then essentially attempts to compromise itself to get out from under the guilt.

Good Points

Jewish authors essentially say work with the neighbor Lebanon.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"Indeed, it is more than likely that many of the civilian casualties being repeatedly mentioned in the media are in fact Hezbollah fighters killed while hiding in civilian clothes. This does not excuse Israeli mistakes that have undoubtedly cost the lives of genuinely innocent civilians, but exaggeration and Hezbollah tactics of mixing combat fighters among civilians clearly accounts for a fair percentage of the lives lost so far," reports Asia Times.

'Mothers don't let your children grow up and date Nasrallahs.' The country of Lebanon seems to have decided to date Nasrallah. Southern mothers were clearly not in control. Pity. "Crying shame."

Inspired by an Israeli article reprinted in Annika's Journal

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Reuters reports that '10 Israeli soldiers were killed in a rocket attack.' Pretty much a random shot that could have gotten anybody outdoors. They were reservists, military age civilians about to become soldiers perhaps. On the other hand, I read of the soldiers coming back from Lebanon that there is a concern about using the Air Force against firing positions for Hizbullah. There may be women and children there, but they are not civilians. They are draftees. Of course I know that Jews have suffered, cf. my comments in Haaretz, as what I call draftees or what you may call hostages. You are not fighting an aggressive war which Leviticus prohibits. They like calling you Nazis, and you can favor or abjure thinking of yourselves as Panzergruppe Yishrael, but few of you are going to be given an opportunity for Argentina. There are military necessities.

An example of Israel's Rules of War.

"But is not the evaluation of a war in terms of its justice a practice of conscience?" Leon Wieseltier will take you, perhaps after registration, to some agreement and a window to why there is not 'proportionality' in sympathy to take up Nathalie's question from a previous post.

To put this in further perspective, see here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

John McCain, R-Ariz. spent 5 years as a POW and has 7 children, one of whom just joined the Marines. I'd say that's doing pretty well. I'd like to see Rudy Giuliani run though. At this point, we need somebody who knows how to police a large city, Baghdad.

Met a man from Cairo today. Cairo, IL that is. Put me in mind of the grandiose Texan humor to have towns named 'Paris,' 'Athens.' I don't know if you know this, but the one state in the world where Neanderthals have the right of return is Texas. We try to signal that with our town names. Also put me in mind of Jim McMahon. He was several years older than most of a group of friends I hung out with on Portsmouth Street before I was deported. Remember riding around on bikes one day with him, the freshman philosopher, teaching that 'Every dog has his day!' He did become a philosophy teacher at Southern Illinois University, history of ideas, and got teacher of the year award. He got the 'crucify you award' the next year, was fired. He was working then as a motorcycle mechanic that year I talked to him and, ever the philosopher psychologist, said, 'You change your group of friends.'

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hezbollah enteritis

'In Qana, grocer Hassan Faraj -- who had sworn a day earlier never to leave -- jumped at the chance to escape. He shuttered his shop and loaded his wife and child into a van to go north into the mountains.

"My mother is very unwell, I must go and see her," he said, explaining his change of mind and insisting he was just dropping off his family to return.'

It seems to me one day he was sucking up to the local brave Hizbollah heroes, defenders of international law, candidates for Order of the Maltese whatever from the Vatican Pharisees office, etc. Then something changed his mind. The whole world hates the perfidy of the Jews at Qana; what is so hard about saying, 'They're terrible mean and nasty. They blew up the building and killed my cousins and the children,' sob, ('and a couple of nice people who hadn't paid their bill,') (blows nose). 'My holy duty from the Koran is to protect my children,' sob, sob, "I must quit this lovely place of my birth and leave it only to the Hizbollah heroes, who by the most sweetest of graces will courageously stay..' Why not? Because, he doesn't want his heroes to misunderstand and think that he is criticizing blowing up the building. He doesn't want them to get confused and think he might be thinking of their guilt, nor does he want to stay where he may have just seen useful dead examples of "Israeli injustice." Love for your sick mother gives you a better exeunt.