Aphorisms Mid January 2011


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Violence And All That Blah Blah Blah: When Is The Law Not The Law? And Is Not A Government Which Ignores The Law Committing Violence Of The Highest Order? An editorial in the New York Times enjoined all Americans to act according to the law, in light of a shooting in Arizona by a crazed maniac who bought his weapon legally.

Obama talked well, at the memorial service, true. But did he act well, as non violently as possible in his quality of president? Out of magnanimity, we will momentarily ignore the dark angel of Afghanistan flying by, on automatic, its wings dripping with blood…

Is Obama part of this disrespect for law and decency he himself deplores? It is a trick question. One million Americans were killed by firearms since 1970. Sanctimoniously, the "left" is asking the right to tone down the political debate to respect the … law (see Krugman: "A tale of two moralities").

But did the Obama administration prosecute those who incited, advocated, ordered and practiced torture? No. Obviously some citizens are above the law. Some citizens are too big to fail. But that is doing violence to the law.

Did the Obama administration prosecute those who incited, advocated, organized, ordered and practiced financial malfeasance, in the greatest financial conspiracy ever known? No. Obviously some citizens are above any suspicion. More violence to the law. Granted a law that allows people to go around with concealed war weapons is itself violent, so this is getting a bit too much for logical processing.

The Roman republic lasted five centuries, because the Romans implemented ferociously their metaprinciple of putting the law above anything else: Dura Lex, Sed Lex! "The law is hard, but it’s the law!"

When the Roman republic deviated from this, a strict, constant, relentless application of the law, the richest and noblest of the rich stopped obeying the law. The republic became a violent mess, where money reigned, and then a tyranny, where Pluto ruled.

By refusing to apply the law on a massive scale, the Obama administration has done violence to the law, hence to the republic, hence encouraged the very atmosphere of violence it now condemns so eloquently.

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My Baby Learns Through Emotions, And Emotions Money Can’t Buy:

The language of emotions comes first to baby. It is a continuous, multidimensional medium (dimensions through facial expressions, eyebrows, frowning, mouth and eye geometry, or tone of voice, and body language). That way emotional language resembles the mathematical set-up of quantum physics; the Quantum waves evolve continuously in often high dimensional "configuration space". Notice the word: con-figuration. It is not there figuratively speaking. Physics has logical poetry in its semantics.

Emotional communication with babies is more important than anything else, as it directs the rest of the mental development of a baby. Including speech. Let those who pay for care be forewarned. ***

President Obama Suggested That Americans Could Question Each Other’s Ideas Without Questioning Their Love Of Country.

And the New York Times to add:"We hope all Americans take that to heart." And then what? Which kind of heart is that? What if it is a heart of stone? The heart needs to be educated in the ways, and taste, of reason. As I just said, it cannot be purchased and provided in exchange for money.

The heart has its own mind, but it needs to go to school too. learning the multiplication table is not learning the calculus of emotions.

Learning to think well is done by learning to debate, and learning what a correct argument is. A correct argument deploys elaborated logic and vast, relevant knowledge. One learns to detect what is relevant. A correct argument is far removed from those crudest of analogies known as insults, and those violent remedies known as threats.

Learning to debate correctly is not only a body of knowledge. It requires more. The heart has to be engaged.

Learning to debate is also a body of appreciation, with sophisticated feelings to accompany it with the passion that good thinking needs as hope and propellant. There is work to do, to rearrange neuronal circuitry into the general love for arguments, and it ought to start by primary school. Read a complicated, explain the main points, learn to answer questions about it. I went through this kind of schooling. I continually come across Americans who obviously did not.

Instead, in the USA, an "argument" is known, by the common heart, as a dispute. It is high time to reorganize  the semantics seriously. How does one want to love debates if what debates are made of, arguments, are viewed and confused with aggressions?

The USA has a lot of work to do with the heart. Especially when one sees its incapacity to switch to the metric system (like the rest of the planet), its incapacity to chase money out of politics (as all other democracies are trying much harder to do), its incapacity to remove dangerous weapons from the public space, or going to a health care system which does not mix employment and insurance.

The incapacity to switch to a more rational mode is fundamentally a manifestation of an inability to think satisfactorily. For example, guns are first used to kill people the murderers are familiar with. What is the logic in that? Owning guns so one can use family for shooting practice?

Time to go back to school, big time.

***

Teleprompt Me Not:

Barack’s speech at the Arizona memorial was excellent. Very good ideas therein, and, for once, he talked with his heart. Why the heart suddenly? Why for once? Because, for once, Obama used NOTES, not a stupid teleprompter. So he immediately became much more intelligent. If he keeps at it, talking without doing the teleprompter robot, if he keeps at it, talking with its heart as his copilot, he will elevate the debate in the country. Americans will be reminded to talk with their hearts.

Notes are used just to recall what one wants to talk about (except if one is an old, mentally diseased Stalinist). After a glance at the notes, the reader uses internal memory recall. Then one lifts one’s eyes from the notes, and reconstitute the train of thought the notes pointed at. A good reader of notes has to reconstitute, and even relive with his or her heart, and that is much more than what is showing up on the teleprompter screen.

Why? The reader who has consulted notes remembers a few hard facts, animated together by software heavily depending upon emotional recall. Thus, the reader re-creates the discourse, reliving the entire logic of the discourse, including the emotional context it was communicated with initially. This is much more human; see the example of the baby above.

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In the series about increasing American insanity…

Some US representatives announced that they will carry concealed firearms when meeting with their constituents. Don’t campaign, reload! A few constituents are still alive and kicking…

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Getting To Know People Is Getting To Know Minds, Hence The Importance Of Table And Landscape.

To get to know people, you have got to converse with them (or then live with them through extraordinary events, psychologically revealing… and harder to come by, by the definition of "extraordinary").

Ordinary conversation has diverse meanings in diverse countries. In the USA, in the traditional, male dominated culture, it’s all about exchanging sport scores, sport opinions, and sport prognostications. Obsessing about sport teams instead of politics is the way the Demos was kept quiet in the Roman empire. It has been taught to Americans, fostering the reign of their exploiters, because it is a heavy diversion from what is really interesting.

Proper conversation has both to be polite, nice, and deep. To allow depth, and the effort it necessitates, or the pain it causes, polite pleasure has to be traded in for the effort, pain and inconvenience of thinking. Hence the importance of proper manners, a good table, good hike, a good adventure.

Thus filling the minds best goes with filling the stomachs best, and sharing earthly pleasures.

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Why Philosophy Matters Most:

Philosophy is first of all a method: how to reason best with fewer sure facts than science uses. Then, in second order, philosophy is a body of knowledge. Then, in third order, a history, then… in fourth order, a consolation.

Its first order definition, how to reason best on fumes, makes philosophy the most important human activity, and everybody has to master it more, the more civilization progresses.

Homo makes theories, and the first method to make a theory is the imaginary, tempered by philosophy.

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It is not because one can say it, and it bites, that one ought to say it. Something for those who read too much Sade or Nietzsche to remember.

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Obamacare, or Machiavelliancare?

Obamacare is probably unconstitutional: you cannot force the People to purchase private services. Does it matter, in the fullness of time? No.

First for the unconstitutionality: As early as 16 centuries ago, Augustine proclaimed all of Christianity was a "Respublica". Respublica Christiana. Even Augustine, the Christian fanatic, used "Christian" as a qualifier. The memory of the full Roman republic, 450 years earlier, was still fresh. Even under the "Principate" (= "Empire"), the main concept was still the Republic, the Public Thing. Obamacare instead says the main thing is the for profit institution, and the People shall serve it, by being forced, by law, to pay for the profits of the rich health care industry.

I know this was not, supposedly, according to the nice little fable for children, the aim of the law. The crafty aim was to entangle the private companies in a maze of regulations that will force them to behave decently, after offering them enough incentives to do so.

Actually it is argued that the plan will cost one trillion dollars, in spite of a 500 billion cut in Medicare. Obama, in his progressive version, could hope for the following: people get used to expect the advantages of Obamacare. Everybody is covered, pre-conditions get insured, coverage cannot be discontinued, children are protected, etc. By the time people are addicted to what the Europeans have long taken for granted, it will turn out that Obamacare under the private system is not financially workable (and that is already transpiring as premiums escalate). Something will have to give, and it will not be the addiction.

Then a public health system, Medicare For All, will be the only solution. Actually Obama, a few years back, had announced such a Machiavellian plan.

The same Machiavellian approach to financial regulation is entirely possible. A good fisherman lets the fish swallow the bait.

Somebody who ought to know told me Obama was not that clever. Well I am not so sure. And even if he is not, he may have no choice than to become really clever.

***

It’s Spelled Banksters, Not Bankers:

The public-private fractional reserve banking system is intrinsically unjust, incompatible with democracy. Some (Simon Johnson) propose to institute a size cap on it. The present banking system would still be unjust, and incompatible with democracy, though.

It seems Obama is stuck too, even if he detests the system, there is not much he can do. The revolt has to come from the street. Common people have to understand the problem first. Somebody has to teach them. Probably not somebody from a top American university.

The European Union has put caps on bankers short term bonuses. They have to wait five years before getting their bonuses, which are transmogrified into stock in their bank holding companies. That is an independent solution from limiting bank size.

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The Truth Often Sounds Shrill...Why? Because it often starts as an alarm call, and only great passion can overcome the exhaustion of establishing new neural connections, refurbished neurons, and, overall, genuinely new neurobiology.

That’s why Planck observed that the best way for the truth to come out was for old people to die and new ones to be born. But of course he said that before the Hitlerjugend became a mass phenomenon.

Truth always come out shrill, thus people who are too cool cannot generate really new thoughts: they just don’t have enough passion, hence enough energy to build inside themselves new structures. Show me a famous thinker, I will show you a passion. Show me a sheep, I will show you the munching. And the general jejune attitude.

We think, not because we are too cool to care, but because we are too passionate to stay indifferent.

***

Patrice Ayme

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8 Responses to “Aphorisms Mid January 2011”

  1. John Lovell Says:

    So- all your criticism of the United States, but no mention of all the French Nazi collaborators.
    We didn’t have those here.
    It’s because France was then, and is still now, the most anti semetic country in western Europe.
    Filling trains with Jews going to the gas and ovens.
    You criticize us so much, but why no mention ever of your own country’s racist history? And how about Algeria?
    C’mon Patrice- it’s easy and facile to slam the US. France has the worst colonialist history of them all and you know it.
    Are you annoyed because France is no longer a colonial world power? Taking it out on the US that saved your ass in two world wars?

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      John:
      Thanks for bellowing the conventional neoconservative American paleowisdom of those who hate much and know very little which is true. You make Sarah Palin sound sane, fair, a balanced historian.

      It is not so much the facts you mention which are wrong, rather the perspective and importance you give them. There were no USA Nazi collaborators, French style, because the USA did not get occupied by the Nazis. I have mentioned French Nazi collaborators many times in past essays. It seems that more than 40,000 were executed in 1944-46 (by a macabre comparison, 75,000 Jews were deported and died, but only a small fraction of those were French; so more French collaborators were executed than French Jews died).

      You seem to be unawares of the fact that the Nazi state was the true government in France, not Vichy, an unconstitutional entity mostly implementing Nazi orders. it is not because the government of the USA rushed to recognize Vichy as the legal government of France, that it was. The USA planned to occupy France in 1944. The French army prevented that (it was larger, in Europe, than the US army)

      Calling France “anti-Semitic” is silly. some historians have discovered that perhaps half of the French have Jewish roots. Jews could be citizens for centuries under the Franks. In west and south France, genetic studies show a strong North African Berber and Arab contribution.

      If you read my site carefully, you will find out that I accused the plutocracy of the USA to have stabbed democracy in the back in 1939. The question is not whether American plutocrats collaborated with Hitler, but the reciprocal. Hitler was an employee of the racist, anti-Jewish Ford as early as 1920. Hitler’s stipend was in excess of 500,000 in today’s dollars. And that was just a small part of it.

      Last but not least: if the Americans had stayed home in 1918, they could not have come to the rescue of victory, and turn it into a divided Europe, and with the Nazis on American stipend. In July 1918, after their defeat at the Second Battle of the Marnes, the German fascists were finished, as their leader admitted readily at the time. Moreover, victories of the French in the Balkans meant that the food lines to the German empire were cut, and the Germans were going to starve. France, Britain (and Italy) had won. The USA came in, and rescue defeat from the jaws of victory.

      You are an American nationalist, you talk out of the nationalist mood. I do not live down there, in that little cage. I have lived (not just visited) in all continents but Australia. My perspective is intrinsically transnational. When I see what happens in some of the countries I lived in, I am not happy.

      You do not know which passport I hold. You do not know my history, and that of my family. You do not know if I am a Jew, a French, an American, and if my family was a victim of the Nazis, and fought them or not (the answer is yes on both later points; many fought the Nazis in my family, in uniform or not, and several did, for a full 6 years).

      You assume that all French are collaborators, but actually only a very small minority was. My maternal grand father, a resistance hero and who is now called a “just” saved a boy who had got into the SS at 16 (and was duly condemned to death in 1944). Others were not so lucky. In my family some were tortured to death, by the Nazis, and then you say “C’mon” and accuse them to have done this to themselves. You insult my family of victims and heroes, and then hint they were colonizers.

      You have no idea of violence. I have been bombed myself (in Europe), and my young uncle got a bullet in the head (while in the military, in a fascist ambush).

      What you do not realize is that horrors feed from lies, and although what you say is not really false, it amounts to the same, because you distort reality completely. The perspectives are so twisted, that you feed hatred and conflict. Making violence to reality is where most gore originates from.

      In extermination camps, it is often the victims themselves who did the acts of killing… because they were forced to. Nobody except angry racist idiots would accuse the Jews to have exterminated the Jews. But your conceptual violence against the French amounts to the same. In 1939-1945, in what was at the time the French empire, around two million died. That came because France got in Hitler’s way, gave him an ultimatum, and declared war. Please try to learn respect for the ultimate values.

      When the country which opposed Hitler the most is decried as collaborating the most, when a country where more than 10% of the population is purely semite, and then is called anti-semitic, I see what the Nazis did: spewing hatred, and, even more worringly, sheer madness.

      PA

      Like

  2. brandon Says:

    awesome, just awesome commentary..while it is very unfortunate that your commentary has to cover the horrible realities that we “argue” our way into here in the “USA”, it is refreshing, energizing, and comforting to know that there are still true philosophers in our world.

    Thank you, as usual, for expressing the truth and unmasking all the false “rhetoric” that fills our “reality” here in my country, the “USA”

    I have a 16 month old son that is supposedly very advanced for his age as far as development and things of that nature; my wife and i just feel that as we spend all of our hours with with (whether together or in shifts) he is just following a natural progression that is brought about by true nurture and focused care for him.

    it’s incredible what a little “TLC” can do for all parts/systems of the body; i hope that my fellow countrymen realize this and stop trying to find ways to buy those things which they already possess, but cannot access because of being out of touch with themselves.

    Thank you again sir. Keep up the great work.

    Brandon

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hello Brandon! Thanks for liking my work. Very soothing after seeing Bernard Henri Levy preen through a double session of the Colbert report. Not that he is bad, not at all, he is a genuine philosopher (and also a billionaire or so, thanks to dad and presidential friend). But, well, not the deepest…

      Sometimes I have to think hard, and it is difficult, especially when my 15 months old covers the computer with a book, and request me to read that (a milder tactic than others she has in her arsenal!) Our little girl is one month younger than yours (!) Not only is it a magical time, but also a time when the essence of what it means to be human comes into full evidence.

      The USA is a country of some 300 million people, as Obama reminded us to make the national fiber vibrate, at the funeral service (one of his basic modes; OK, I would probably do the same, if I were him). However, he should also realize that, as JFK would remind him :”Er ist ein Berliner”. It is a small planet, and 308 million Americans are spilling their wares all over the ice caps. This is true for all major countries: Britain, Germany, China, Brazil, Russia, etc. All the countries are each other business, whether we like it or not. And a moral imperative is to get to know them enough.

      Moreover, looking at others can be illuminative. The corruption and plutocracy in Tunisia (say) is examplary of what is happening in many parts of the world (in a milder form in the West, but of course with populations with, rightly, have less tolerance). in Ivory Coast the argument has been about Alassande Ouattara is truly Ivory born, or not. It should not matter (he was already PM, decades ago), but it does, as it does in the USa, and that sort of disguised racism ought to be unlawful: we are all too co-dependent for this sort of exclusionism.
      PA

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  3. Alvin Says:

    This is all quite fun, but I need to comment further…

    Like

  4. Alvin Says:

    …and here it is: “A good fisherman lets the fish swallow the bait.”

    Like

  5. Roger Henry Says:

    PA,
    This is truly one of your best essays. Passion being integral to thinking,but also as studies of mind chemistry have shown, also integral to memory and learning. Of the passions love is the greatest, for it fuels energy production in the young body and mind of a proportion un-available from any other source.
    I envy you, to have a 15 mo. old child and a mind filled with the incredible panoply of experiences you display is truly rare and beautiful. I wish that I had that depth of understanding when I was that age.
    Your training in the techniques of thinking and analysis for debate in your schooling experience is certainly rare in the American education system. However, it is not unheard of, unfortunately I was not exposed to such training in my school years. It would have saved many headaches.
    Again, about the passion and thinking, thank you for the dramatic demonstration in your response to Jon Lovell.
    On Obama as Machiavelli, I would prefer to say he is not, for if the out comes you are suggesting come to pass, which I think are quite logical, Obama’s safety is at risk if he is seen as engineering those outcomes. Please keep the clear minded analysis coming. As ever RH.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Roger:
      I was extremely lucky in my up-bringing. It could not have been better to serve what I am doing now. However, that’s the work of my ancestors. Only now do I understand the immense extent of my luck. Nowadays even my little girl helps me, as I see her becoming the world, blossoming as the living heart of the soul of humanity, everyday more of the essence of intelligence without guile. She was doing the strangest, cutest babbling, and an excellent crab imitation today to avoid taking a particularly bitter antibiotics, she absolutely needed. That was supposed to divert me from the evil pursuit of putting it down her throat. However, a torrent of explanations carried the day, and she swallowed it in the end. An hour later. A triumph of reason, if not water boarding.

      Whether Obama is Machiavel or not, he will have no choice, except to transmogrify that way. The way he and Clinton have operated so far in Tunisia has been superb. And it’s a courageous choice. A new dawn for any Arab speaking country.
      PA

      Like

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