Posts from May 2003

Rumsfeld: What an Awful Outcome

While Donald Rumsfeld and his chuckle-headed apologists crow about the outcome of the Bush administration’s use of lies and deceit to justify war on Iraq, we might remember that the war zone created in Baghdad has led to a couple things: armed Islamist militias controlled by local clerics and the rise of rape and terror against women.

Zeinab, a 24-year-old computer science major who declined to give her last name, would drive her own car to college before the U.S. invasion, but now she’s only permitted to leave the house for school with the man she jokingly calls her driver-bodyguard-chaperon.

The beauty salons she used to frequent for pedicures and conversation are closed, so Zeinab spends much of her long hours at home in front of a mirror, practicing different hairstyles for the day she regains a social life.

Girls lost most of their freedom here a long time ago, but now we’ve lost it all, she said angrily. They want to protect our honor.

[LA Times]

And:

Sheik Nasseri, for instance, has been giving the Friday sermon at the main mosque in Sadr City, where he has railed against Americans as infidel colonizers and sanctioned the killing of unveiled women who refuse to comply with his rules, as well as the killing of Muslims or non-Muslims who sell liquor.

[NY Times]

Just in case you have forgotten: these are the same conditions—precisely the same conditions—that led to the establishment of the Islamist tyranny in Iran, and were used to justify forced veiling and other misogynist repression. And they are also the same conditions—precisely the same conditions that led to the horrors of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

So thanks, Donald, for lying to us about weapons of mass destruction in order to carry out your dirty little war. What an awful outcome indeed.

Update 2004-01-30: Updated to reflect the fact that the article linked from this page is from a satire site; as far as I know the quote was never actually uttered by Donald Rumsfeld himself, but rather by his chuckle-headed apologists on the World Wide Web. Unfortunately, the quotes from Iraqi women who are being terrorized by rapist and fundamentalist gangs are not satire; they are the daily reality under which half of the Iraqi population has to live.

One Word: Plastics

Minor updates for clarity.

So, it’s official. I’m a Bachelor.

Saturday I graduated from Auburn University, with a B.A. in Philosophy (with a Computer Science minor tacked on for good measure). After the past few years of wandering the halls of learning (or, at least, the halls of Haley Center), I finally have to figure out a new gig. Usually at this point, someone makes some remark or another about leaving the bubble of the academy and being thrown out into the terrible freedom of the real world. You won’t hear it from me, though, for a couple of reasons.

First, I’ve been inhabiting the real world all along. I mean this in the truistic sense—Auburn University campus is no more illusory and no less material than the rest of the world—but I mean it in a deeper sense too. When people talk about school as not being part of the real world, they seem to have one of two things in mind (or, more likely, both). On the one hand, there is a particular picture of what academics do and how it relates to the world. The idea is that you’re dealing with the fabric of reality only when you’re in the midst of an active, practical life—that academics aren’t worldly wise enough to hack it in such a life—that the world of the academy doesn’t (and can’t) deal in experiential reality, because its whole purpose is to think rather than to do. On the other hand, there is a particular attitude towards school: it’s not part of the real world because it bears no deep relationship to what you intend to do with your life. At best, it’s a preparatory means, valuable purely instrumentally—it’s something that you do in order to get into a socio-economic position where you can strike off and do whatever it is that constitutes your real life—a career, a family, or what have you. At worst, it’s merely a holding pen where you wait around until you’re ready to go off the parental dole and get started on the real part of your life. The second picture is usually a direct result of the first. Going to school isn’t part of the real part of your life because the real part of your life consists of doing things, not of thinking about them.

I don’t want to deny that the second picture is an accurate empirical theory about how most people think of college in this day and age. But I think it is a pernicious picture if it is taken as a guide for how ought to spend your school years; those who act on a picture like that have basically been wasting their time and money for the past 4 years. It’s by no means necessary (however often it may be actual) for school to be cut off from the serious part of your life; such a dichotomy rests, I think, on a notion of the academic life that is completely false.

What I mean is this: in most other civilized times, we would hardly feel any need to defend the validity of the vita contemplativa, or the value of the way I’ve spent the past four years—learning and wrestling with important problems, for the sake of nothing except thought itself and knowledge of the truth. That is no small part of what I want to do with my life and to contribute to the world. The relationship between doing and thinking isn’t antagonism, or parasitism. Humans are rational animals; the very essence of how we live our lives is that we put thought into action, that thinking and doing are (for us) two sides of one coin. (Doing without thinking, in any literal and sustained sense, is a form of madness—indeed, a form of inhumanity.) So while I’m done being an undergraduate, my life for the past four years hasn’t been mere preparation for what is to follow. I’ve been doing what I want to do all along.

And I intend to keep on doing what I have been doing. But I’m out of school for the next year, and being a freelance academic doesn’t pay very well. So, I will be looking for a job, and working on graduate school applications for the academic year after the upcoming one. (If graduate school doesn’t work out, I might have to become a monk.)

In the meantime, however, I am on vacation. Right now I am reporting from Berea, Kentucky, where I’m visiting my old friend S. with the rest of my gang of friends from high school. S. pulls us into these fascinating conversations about sustainability and renewable energy and culture; we wander around the campus as if it were a swampy May night in Auburn again.

From there, it is a mere 12 hours by Greyhound bus to Detroit, where I will meet with my sweetheart. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this—to the theological inside jokes, to talking again about philosophy and movies and the Middle Ages; to just having quiet time together to spend with absolutely nothing else eating time away. We’re heading out on a trans-continental road trip out to California, where the plan is (I think) to sit on the beach, C and talk and read and do as close to absolutely nothing as possible for a few days—then to meander around a few sites in Monterey and San Fransisco. My hope is that I won’t be heading back home until early June.

In any case, the plan from there is: (1) summer work, (2) break, (3) move, and (4) fall work. (1) will consist in serving as a T.A. in Philosophy of Mind for Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (except I won’t actually be at JHU; I’ll be at a program site in Loudonville, New York). After that I am moving to Ypsilanti, MI, and looking around to find out in what (4) will consist. Wish me luck!

Posting will be sporadic, but I fear that you are more than used to that already, gentle reader. I’ll try and drop a line from time to time, though, and when I get back some changes and updates the the site are in the works.

Ciao!

Sciabarra’s Janus-Headed Blog

Wittgenstein once spoke of the Liar Paradox (This sentence is false) as a Janus-headed figure, facing both truth and falsity. So what is up with Libertarian theorists putting out Janus-headed weblogs that refuse to admit that they are weblogs? My first encounter with the phenomenon was Roderick’s weblog, In a Blog’s Stead. But at least Roderick explains why he hesitates to call his blog a blog. A far more egregious performative contradiction comes from another one of my favorite Libertarians - Chris Sciabarra’s NOT A BLOG.

Chris, of course, is a long-time student of Dialectic, so perhaps he finds the collision of thesis and antithesis amusing. Perhaps, by creating a Non-Blog that presupposes the activity of Blogging, he intends a synthesis — a transcendence of the blogging/non-blogging paradigm. In any case, his weblog compiles a lot of his best material from articles and listserv posts, as well as some interesting discussions that follow. In particular, check out his numerous essays on U.S. foreign policy, on Partisanship vs. Objectivity in Ayn Rand Scholarship, and his fascinating series of articles on Objectivism and Homosexuality.

P.S. The rest of this post is false.

Technical Difficulties

I have a couple of articles that I want to post, but before I post them, I want to get the TrackBack feature of MovableType working on this page. And before I can get TrackBack working, I need to finish my exams. Fortunately, that will be soon: if everything goes as well as it can, I may be finished as soon as Tuesday. Until then, please note that in spite of FOX News’s best efforts, Bill O’Reilly Wants to Go to a Gay Bathhouse (Neptunes Mix) will yet become the surprise dance sensation this winter in Ibiza.