Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Conservative aesthetics: a constructive suggestion

http://theartpart.jonathanmorse.net/2012/03/conservative-aesthetics-a-constructive-suggestion/

Chiral

All of us dwellers in the universe share the property of chirality, or handedness. It keeps us from ever becoming perfectly symmetrical. We can never again be simple unisex spheres, as we were (Aristophanes assures us) in the days before there was love.

For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover’s intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment. Suppose Hephaestus, with his instruments, to come to the pair who are lying side, by side and to say to them, “What do you people want of one another?” they would be unable to explain. And suppose further, that when he saw their perplexity he said: “Do you desire to be wholly one; always day and night to be in one another’s company? for if this is what you desire, I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow together, so that being two you shall become one, and while you live a common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the world below still be one departed soul instead of two — I ask whether this is what you lovingly desire, and whether you are satisfied to attain this?” — there is not a man of them who when he heard the proposal would deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the very expression of his ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.
-- Plato, Symposium, trans. Jowett 

About that interesting characteristic there's a new Issuu book on the wooden-looking shelf at the bottom of the screen. It's a free download.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Adjective neutral, noun bad

 
At minute 4 of this video about a small lake in New Hampshire called Jew Pond, the director of the New Hampshire Jewish Federation makes the point that the noun "Jew" is pejorative when it's used as an adjective. His examples are "Jew politician" and "Jew lawyer," and he might also have mentioned T. S. Eliot's scornful phrase about one of his benefactors, "Jew publisher." "If the name had been 'Jewish Pond,'" the director tells the interviewer, "we would not be having this conversation."

And that's why Republicans say "Democrat Party."



Addendum: Gary Ostrower writes to recommend the Wikipedia article “Democrat Party (phrase)," and adds,

“The difference between using ‘Democrat’ as an adjective and ‘Jew’ as an adjective is that the latter has nearly 2000 years of negative connotation behind it. Not so ‘Democrat.’ Most — maybe all — of my own students would not recognize ‘Democrat’ as slur; not so with ‘Jew.’”

And that’s true enough. Just two days ago one of my own rhythm-challenged students sent me a friendly e-mail beginning, “High Professor Morse.” No, he didn’t mean “Herr Oberprofessor,” and no he couldn’t hear the pause where the comma should go. For that matter, when I took my physical exam for the draft in 1966 the sergeant in charge of the paperwork instructed us to fill in the Race blank “Neg” if we were, as he carefully put it, Negroic.

---

Further note, March 14, 2012: Jew Pond will now be renamed. Story here:

http://forward.com/articles/152987/nh-town-votes-to-rename-jew-pond

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Coed

Note: Belatedly I've realized that Windows Live Writer, in which I've been writing my WordPress blog, will let me copy posts to my Blogger blog as well. I've been using the Blogger blog only as an archive of my pre-WordPress posts, but the machine seems to have been with me all along.

So:

In the course of the Republican primary campaign of 2012, the conservative policy intellectual Rush Limbaugh weighed in on Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown student who had addressed some Democratic members of the House in favor of birth control coverage under government-mandated health insurance. According to David Crary's article for the Associated Press (Honolulu Star-Advertiser 3 March 2012: A3), Mr. Limbaugh told his radio audience on February 29:

What does it say about the college coed . . . who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

About that, three language notes.

1. A septuagenarian myself, I remember the term "coed" from the 1950s. I don't think I've heard it since then.

2. The OED traces the term back to 1893. From 1903, it offers an anti-Limbauvian quotation: "Any college where the girls are commonly called ‘co-eds’ is not a truly co-educational institution."

3. For conservatives who understand that conservatism of thought entails conservatism of language, Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France" offers this reassuring statement of faith.

I almost venture to affirm that not one in a hundred amongst us participates in the "triumph" of the Revolution Society. If the king and queen of France and their children were to fall into our hands by the chance of war, in the most acrimonious of all hostilities, (I deprecate such an event, I deprecate such hostility,) they would be treated with another sort of triumphal entry into London. We formerly have had a king of France in that situation: you have read how he was treated by the victor in the field, and in what manner he was afterwards received in England. Four hundred years have gone over us; but I believe we are not materially changed since that period. Thanks to our sullen resistance to innovation, thanks to the cold sluggishness of our national character, we still bear the stamp of our forefathers. We have not (as I conceive) lost the generosity and dignity of thinking of the fourteenth century; nor as yet have we subtilized ourselves into savages. We are not the converts of Rousseau; we are not the disciples of Voltaire; Helvetius has made no progress amongst us. Atheists are not our preachers; madmen are not our lawgivers. We know that we have made no discoveries, and we think that no discoveries are to be made, in morality,— nor many in the great principles of government, nor in the ideas of liberty, which were understood long before we were born altogether as well as they will be after the grave has heaped its mould upon our presumption, and the silent tomb shall have imposed its law on our pert loquacity. In England we have not yet been completely embowelled of our natural entrails: we still feel within us, and we cherish and cultivate, those inbred sentiments which are the faithful guardians, the active monitors of our duty, the true supporters of all liberal and manly morals. We have not been drawn and trussed, in order that we may be filled, like stuffed birds in a museum, with chaff and rags, and paltry, blurred shreds of paper about the rights of man. We preserve the whole of our feelings still native and entire, unsophisticated by pedantry and infidelity.