Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How to THINK


(Note: this man thinks the rock is hard. But it is NOT.
The ratio and relationship between this man's butt
and the rock generates hardness as an ejmerging
phenomena. It is an injustice to the rock and to
descriptive phenomenology to call the accuse the
rock of what is a relationship. But we do it.)

"Your job is to teach us how to think" a student informed the
faculty years ago--a long time ago, I think it was a long long
time ago. I asked my classes next day: "How many here don't
know how to think and want to learn, raise your hand." No one.
They all ready knew how. See: that's the problem. NO? You
don't see that as the problem?


I called my first year seminar Liberal ART aka Stupid Club,
and that sorted out smart sheeps from stupid goats who liked
the idea of a stupid club. Don't know if we got much smarter,
but something of a relief to see our stupidity as something of
a resource. Imagine. Local food.

Thinking How TO:  in case you are wondering how to think
or at least get better at how you think now (not to be confused
with what you think, that should be obvious  (subject-matter
content, stuff you process in courses, political and religious
issues, concerns re popular fashion and media and such like);

What I recommend is that you argue your ass off--argue,
argue, argue: as much as you can and whenever with anyone
the more the better how could it be otherwise? You won't get
smart just sitting on it. I argue as much as I can, out of both
sides of my mouth & sometimes three  and look how smart
I am. I wasn't just born this way.

You think I'm joking?


  1. I wrote a review for Reza Aslans "Zealot" book, yesterday, for Amazon. His main specialty seems to be creative writing and analyzing different thoughts about jihadism, but Jesus was just a Zealot.

    I could have done a better job, if I had spent more time on it. But if I had spent more time on it, I think I might have posted, at all. The chutzpah would have run out. A "helpful" or not a "helpful" review?


  2. The link you gave doesn't match anything--says Google. I saw the interview with him and the Fox lady who seemed continually concerned that as a Muslim he couldn't do justice to Jesus. If I were a Muslim, I'd probably emphasize his zeal too.

  3. It works fine when I paste it into my bar.

  4. I've copied and pasted several times--even gone to Amazaon (lots of revies). Copy and paste on to e-mail if you like.

  5. You can also search Amazon. Reza Aslan, Jesus and look down the right side for the recent reviews and there it is as a one star titled "Shoddy and shabby".

  6. The handle is "Simul" for "simul justus et peccator".

  7. Can't find it, sorry. Make it easy for me: copy/paste and e-mail, though your title Shabby and Shoddy probably says it all, true?

  8. Found it. You know; e-mail's's a more convenient venue for conversation than these links that don't apply to the blog post .

  9. "Neither logic nor sermons convince" (Whitman) Law and Gospel may be complementary to some--but if you stand on one side against the other side--all that can be generated is confusion and opposition and disagreement. (Incommensurate) Look at the reviews and then the reviews of the review. Doesn't matter the facts or the history. It's a belief/faith issue.

  10. I have spent my morning arguing my ass off. Is that on topic?

    Law and Gospel is not complementary they are paradoxially fully true at the same time. Incommensurate and yet fully in play. Yes, no, possible?

    What I cannot accept, though you might find this something akin to the Law and Gospel paradigm is this: Reza Aslan wants to find the historical Jesus, as to strip him from all doctrinal, supposed accretions, if not complete falsehoods (well actual total falsehoods), but at the same time (simul) wants to read only spiritual meanings into these historical findings. Inherently contradictory thinking to me, not a fine, true paradox, at all.

    The same he kind of does for Islam. Mohammed was a historical figure and he certainly insisted on ruling and theocracy, but now Alan says that Islam is reformed and he is a secular Muslim, i.e. one not committed to theocracy.

    About Jesus we have the gospels assert him saying: "My kingdom is not of this world." But Aslan's Jesus is a Zealot, someone whose kingdom is of this world, to the degree that he needs to become king in it and in this world. Something like Mohammed's rule. So who is the man who has a spiritual kingdom and who is the man who as a worldly kingdom?--The answer is plain.

  11. I envy you your morning of arguing and congratulate you on your thorough response and review., Defender of the Faith. Every one of us might consider ourselves as identifying with the spiritual/worldly kingdom dilemma: hostile but complementary values. Kingdom within, kingdom without: the relationship between our worldly zeal and or devotion and obedience, the desire to do justice to both?

  12. Now here is a "real" review. Makes me blush for my effort. This is the kind of thing I wish I could have written.


  13. Your link gives the intro page 1 with the list of all articles on the book. Christthe tao blog? Can you imagine either "side" convincing the other of it's argument and point of view? Creationism/Evolutionism: spiritual/material...These are the 2 "teams" Incommensurate.

  14. Intro page 1 with the list of articles?--??? Your internet and mine don't seem to work the same this week.

    It seems like an excellent blog with very even-handed book reviews, one might frequent. He has some of the same phraseology as you, enjoying "napalm" in the morning or afternoon, "pox on both houses", and what not. Maybe it's just that Canadians don't talk that way. Or it's dialectician talk. People who love to "argue their ass off". See I brought it back to the post.

    I read "Surprised by Joy" this summer. Lewis shows us the character of his dialectics teacher, the Old Knock. How delightful to have met him. Lewis was greatly indebted to him.

  15. The Jesus book generated the controversy one might expect. Tell me the title and author & I may be able to find it. The opening page of article on the book was extensive and I read the first one (Christthe Tao). I read "Surprised by Joy" back in the 80's and now can't remember it. They made a movie of it, or of his love affair. You know argue (argue) initially means "the shine" and so to argue is at least originally an edifying process--building up a common and shared edifice. But its common use is basically if not destructrive, certainly not constructive. A kind of the mountain practice. Dialectic is argument in its original "argo" sense. Beyond win/lose. An "ivory tower" or "school mode" practice (theoretically)

  16. King of the Mountain practice (not Kind of the Mountain). Sorry.

  17. The "Shadowlands" movie on Lewis' life is nothing like "Surprised by Joy", if that's the movie you are thinking of. I think you would enjoy rereading it.

    You probably read the right article from ChristtheTao blog. David Marshall is the author. Impressive.

    May I quote Lewis for your Sunday enjoyment?

    This is how we first meet him:

    "'You are now,' said Kirk, 'proceeding along the principal artery between Great and Little Bookham.' I stole a glance at him. Was this geographical exordium a heavy joke? Or was he trying to conceal his emotions? His face, however, showed only an inflexible gravity. I began to 'make conversation' in the deplorable manner which I had acquired ... I said I was surprised at the 'scenery' of Surrey; it was much 'wilder' than I had expected. 'Stop!' shouted Kirk with a suddenness that made me jump. 'What do you mean by wildness and what grounds had you for not expecting it?' I replied I don't know what, still 'making conversation.' As answer after answer was torn to shreds it at last dawned upon me that he really wanted to know. He was not making conversation, nor joking, nor snubbing me; he wanted to know. I was stung into attempting a real answer. A few passes sufficed to show that I had no clear and distinct idea corresponding to the word 'wildness,' and that, in so far as I had any idea at all, 'wildness' was a singularly inept word. 'Do you not see, then,' concluded the Great Knock, 'that your remark was meaningless?'"

  18. "The most casual remark was taken as a summons to disputation. I soon came to know the differing values of his three openings. The loud cry of 'Stop!' was flung in to arrest a torrent of verbiage which could not be endured a moment longer; not because it fretted his patience (he never thought of that) but because it was wasting time, darkening counsel. The hastier and quieter 'Excuse!' (i.e, 'Excuse me') ushered in a correction or distinction merely parenthetical and betokened that, thus set right, your remark might still, without absurdity, be allowed to reach completion. The most encouraging of all was, 'I hear you.' This meant that your remark was significant and only required refutation; it had risen to the dignity of error."

  19. Love it. Elenchus to aporia. Preparation for the beginnings of philosophy. .

  20. "If ever a man came near to being a purely logical entity, that man was Kirk. Born a little later, he would have been a Logical Positivist. The idea that human beings should exercise their vocal organs for any purpose except that of communicating or discovering truth was to him preposterous. The most casual remark was taken as a summons to disputation.... Some boys would not have liked it; to me it was red beef and strong beer... The only two kinds of talk I wanted were the almost purely imaginative and the almost purely rational; ... Kirk excited and satisfied one side of me. Here was talk that was really about something. Here was a man who thought not about you but about what you said. No doubt I snorted and bridled a little at some of my tossings; but, taking it all in all, I loved the treatment. After being knocked down sufficiently often I began to know a few guards and blows, and to put on intellectual muscle. In the end, unless I flatter myself, I became a not contemptible sparring partner. It was a great day when the man who had so long been engaged in exposing my vagueness at last cautioned me against the dangers of excessive subtlety.
    If Kirk's ruthless dialectic had been merely a pedagogic instrument I might have resented it. But he knew no other way of talking. No age or sex was spared the elenchus. It was a continuous astonishment to him that anyone should not desire to be clarified or corrected. When a very dignified neighbor, in the course of a Sunday call, observed with an air of finality, "Well, well, Mr. Kirkpatrick, it takes all sorts to make a world. You are a Liberal and I am a conservative; we naturally look at the facts from different angles," Kirk replied, "What do you mean? Are you asking me to picture Liberals and Conservatives playing pee-bo at a rectangular Fact from opposite sides of a table? If an unwary visitor, hoping to waive a subject, observed, "Of course, I know opinions differ--Kirk would raise both his hands and exclaim, "Good heavens! I have no 'opinions' on any subject whatsoever." A favorite maxim was, "You can have enlightenment for ninepence but you prefer ignorance." The commonest metaphors would be questioned till some bitter truth had been forced from its hiding place.
    ... It will be imagined that Mrs. Kirkpatrick led a somewhat uneasy life: witness the occasion on which her husband by some strange error found himself in the drawing room at the beginning of what his lady had intended to be a bridge party. About half an hour later she was observed to leave the room with a remarkable expression on her face; and many hours later still the Great Knock was discovered sitting on a stool in the midst of seven elderly ladies begging them to clarify their terms."

  21. yes, Yesm YES ! By George: he's got IT.

  22. There is more, but I don't want to spoil your re-reading.

    "Joy" really stands for God. There was joy all along, sometimes more sometimes less--the bittersweet feeling of desire; he just didn't know it was God. It took him a long time to become a theist, and then some time to become a Christian, which changed everything. There was no more the clamoring for the feeling. (Well, I gave all that away.) Still, a wonderful read for getting insight into the times, into Lewis, into his gradual being reeled in by the big Angler.

  23. Chesterton talks about his "merriment". He really is a funny guy, (also a fantastic thinker and great poet).

  24. I've enjoyed Chesterton too. & Dorothy Sayer: Mind of the Maker.

  25. I have to look her up some day. At the moment I am in the thralls of a very good, dialectical book: "Religion for Atheists. A non-believers guide to the uses of religion." By Alain de Botton. 2012. I was reading it to my husband last night. While I found it invigorating, it put him to sleep. (Meanwhile the Amazon review is back in play, and David Marshall came back smelling "napalm".)

  26. My hero Gregory Bateson --hard-core science and atheistic upbringing, viewed art and religion as needed (ongoing) counter to the rationalism and purpose-driven agenda of science. Although raised as a bible-reading atheist, his sense of religion is inclusive.

  27. If you have a chance, I would have youlook at De Botton's book. It provides a dialectic to the way you see the issues. :) (I will now stop pestering you.) It might also be interesting to our other friend/enemy.

  28. WE have some books by him, but not Religion for Atheists. When convenient you might put it in your own words and understanding--for the sake of arguing. (That's always a good thing.) I have developed a severe case of late onset ADD--and find it monmentally difficult to concentrate on texts any more. I seem to thing I pick up the gist early and am not interested in the devilish details. Can't defend this.It's just where I am at this point. Sit and ruminate more than I read.

  29. It's not a dry, hard read. I still have half to go.

  30. I can make an argument for Religion for Atheists--but it won't convince them ("neither logic nor sermons convince") And I could make an argument for Atheism for Religion-ists" and it wouldn't convince them either. We hold on to what we got--sealed in and salved (salvation) and defend it like homeland security. This makes sense. Stability counts.

  31. It is still quite an exquisite read. I am learning how religious practices relate to human psychology and educational objectives, all delivered in lovely and deep prose.

  32. Tell me what you are learning which you didn't already know or suspect and therefore confirms your bias/belief. Tell my what you are learning that is radically new and changes your mind-set and bias/belief--your frame of mind and attitude..

  33. You don't seem to ever learn anything new sitting quietly waiting for Goedel to kick in. It is always the same stuff. Vultures circling above looking for a carcass. What on earth is radically new? Fukushima is leaking plutonium all over the world. Our kids are addicted to their screens and are becoming practically useless, smoking and drinking and playing in man caves. Somalia is so violent that Medicine sans Frontier had to move out, now all the refugees have no more medical care, all because of Muslim militias and kidnapping and torturing of personnel. -- But I like your question.

  34. It's taking longer and longer to scroll down to our conversation, so any time you want to pick-up off a new post is ok with me. Everything you say is true and I can't argue with it. I've been pursuing "the new" for years and years--reading my ass off. Waiting for Goedel to kick in (his theorem acknowledging that no system is sufficient to "justify" itself but needs outside influence--what amounts to an immaculate concept as far as any close system is concerned) is me acknowledging my incompleteness. I love seeing buzzards circle and way back driving to NC from Connecticut to visit Ann, it was the sign of having crossed into the south--lazy circles in the sky. The horror we have with us always. We've had more rain this summer than recorded history of rainfall in Asheville. Love it. But tell me more about religion for atheists: what is a revelation for you that keeps you finishing the book.

  35. I have never seen a vulture. A buzzard is the same thing.?

    Religion for Atheists is a meta-thinking kind of book. You would like it, too--is all for now.

  36. Same thing. Beautiful in flight. Hideous on the ground. Gregory Bateson (atheist) knew religion (and art) to be crucial--to offset the blind luciferous lucidity of ego-consciousness (and the dominance of "science.") I guess that's a meta- approach. (Can we re-located this converse action?)

  37. I made a blogpost about it in beginning to think about it. http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.ca/2013/08/religion-for-atheists.html

  38. "For some reason, he expects that all these benefits could be reaped without actually believing anything to be actually true. This point of view seems to be rampant out there on the internet and in the English department ivory towers. I haven't actually met any live honest-to-goodness down-to-earth people who hold this sort of ambivalence about truth, unless they are trying to cover something up" Would you call this description or accusation?

  39. A Simple Truth is Nothing

    but a Lie

    (Levertov’s 3rd Dimension)

    I hate piety

    Fee Fie Faux Fum
    Best Practice:
    Listen (obey)
    You hear?

    Father of faith went up the
    mountain to sacrifice laughter
    & a surrogate chuckle proved

    That he was listening
    was what’s at stake.

    Barbara McClintock leans in to
    listen to her corn shoots is why
    she got a noble prize, she

    Obedience. Best practice.

  40. Does placebo work when you don't think the pill will do anything or might even be harmful?

  41. Placebo: from the last rites: "I shall please the Lord in the land of the living." Doesn't work if I know it's a placebo. I have to think I'm being. A trick the unconscious plays on the conscious.

  42. "placebo Domino in regione vivorum"

  43. Credo ut intelligam . "For some reason, he expects that all these benefits could be reaped without actually believing anything to be actually true. This point of view seems to be rampant out there on the internet and in the English department ivory towers. I haven't actually met any live honest-to-goodness down-to-earth people who hold this sort of ambivalence about truth, unless they are trying to cover something up"

    Would you call this description or accusation?