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Apr 14 thelyamhound commented on Bill Maher: Extremists Don't Hijack Religions. Moderates Do..
From the monotheistic religions to Rousseau (who ultimately gave us the Reign of Terror) to de Sade to Nietzsche et al, I'm not sure that any ideology without a built-in tendency to abuse by extremists has any real capacity to shape the world. That capacity, conversely, will never be used for good until and unless it is re-purposed--"hijacked," if you must--by moderates for application to civic purpose by majority will checked by an interest in preserving certain essential rights of the minority.

As a pantheist, it's easy for me to ignore this kind of speech, since it barely seems to be talking about me (unless there are violent sects of Taoists and Spinozans out there of which I'm unaware; Buddhism has it's outlying militant groups, but it seems to me that extremists would have to hijack faith constructs with so loose an epistemic* boundary). But it still seems to me that this sort of critique misses the mark. Religion, in its most useful sense, is a set of tools and principles by which we can contemplate the unseen and extrapolate, from those contemplations, a system of moral philosophy that extends, for ourselves, families, and people with whom we surround ourselves, beyond the boundaries of law (which should, to my mind, be limited to only addressing the most utilitarian of concerns).

*The epistemic angle cannot be ignored. I once believed that it was the social constructivist impulse that was most damaging to religion's ability to do good work and resist atrocity. But so long as that constructivist impulse is restrained from influencing secular law in a pluralistic culture, I would say that this reflects religion's highest function. Instead, it is epistemology through which religion finds its most authoritarian tendencies. The insistence that what cannot be demonstrated as empirically true must be held true, that contemplation of the unseen can be handed down to us by unseen beings who will hold us eternally accountable for what be believe (what we believe being, in my considered opinion, a matter of what we discern, not what we decide), is far more damaging than a reasonable baseline assumption that the intuition that many have (correct or not) that we're all joined, somehow, by common origin and common end may be viewed as the genesis of moral duty.
Apr 10 thelyamhound commented on Voters in Springfield, MO, Repeal LGBT Civil Rights Law.
Christ wanted to destroy the Old Testament? When he said that he hadn't come to destroy the law but to fulfill it?
Given that, aside from Rastafarianism, almost no ostensibly Christian sect even attempts to adopt the over 600 points of Mosaic law, it seems abundantly clear that some portion of OT directives were deemed unnecessary. Unless you really and truly believe that Christians should be avoiding pork and shellfish, growing out their beards, stoning their disobedient children, etc.
And your comment about the leper and prostitute misses the point. He healed the leper. And he defended an adulteress from stoning but told her privately to go and sin no more. Note that last bit, because it's the crux (literally) of the matter.
This may or not speak to your view, but the Calvinist point of view, for instance, suggests that the reason we can never reach God through works, and can only be saved by faith in the grace of God and the atonement of Christ crucified, is that sin is so woven into our being that we can never truly escape its grip. Sin is, in a sense, a stain on our being, not something we do; what we do is only a reflection of what we are.
The Christian church very much needs to be clear on the matter of homosexuality. The message needs to be one of love, though here that love consists of telling the sick what the cure entails. It needs to be consistent and just.
Without a decent apologetic argument (link for clarity, in case, like too many religious Americans, you aren't familiar with the term "apologetics" the way I'm using it), a message defining homosexuality as an illness without any recourse to the empirical sciences by which we define every single other illness shall be useful for the choir alone.
A close friend is an agnostic and politically liberal. And we have long interestibg conversations about our differing worldviews. But he and I aren't vicious lying bullies bigoted about a faith or worldview we don't share, unlike Savage. He and I would rather change happen by social processes than lawsuits and hate filled rhetoric, unlike Savage. He and I and most other Americans don't and wouldn't wish others were "fucking dead " because we disagree with their politics, unlike Savage ... Trolling, vitriol, hate-these are the foundation of everything Savage writes. I'm surprised you agree actually.
I'm not sure I believe you have friends of any kind, particularly one of liberal persuasion or in doubt regarding your particular mythological belief construct. If you do, though, I can only assume it's because you comport yourself out there in the meat world with considerably more humility and compassion than you do here.

Since her, however, you conduct yourself with utmost contempt, cruelty, and condescension, I can only assume that you somehow think it isn't "trolling" if you're doing it under an alias. Which ultimately makes no sense, given that you have no more proof that Dan behaves so contemptuously in real life as in his writing than I have that you do the same.
Simply put, there's one reason Christianity has addressed homosexuality as an issue- because those seeking special rights status for those who chose a homosexual lifestyle demands it.
What special rights are being sought by gays and lesbians? Please be specific. And what are the rewards of foregoing an emotionally satisfying existence by living as either a celibate gay/lesbian or a gay/lesbian in a perhaps friendly but erotically inert heterosexual partnership, given the abysmal track record of conversion therapies? Again, specificity makes conversation.
Does Christianity get it wrong sometimes? Absolutely. Religion is a human invention in an attempt to understand God. It isn't itself God.
One might go further down that line of regression to suggest that "[G/g]od(s)" are, indeed, a human invention by which we label our hunches about the unseen. Indeed, the degree to which deity appears to be an anthropomorphic construction suggests that he/she/it/they are also an anthropogenic one.
And as such it's inevitably going to be wrong on occasion. But on this one, the maladaptive nature of homosexuality, Christianity in my opinion isn't wrong.
Your opinion is noted; you are free to hold it, to associate primarily with others who hold it, and even to indoctrinate your poor, long-suffering children with it. By what virtue, though, should it have any relevance for the rest of us, given that we live in a pluralistic society with guaranteed freedom of religion (and hence of irreligion), and in light of a dearth of empirical evidence arguing for its maladaptive nature or harm?
Christ was speaking primarily to Jewish people. Not Romans or Greeks. And speaking to the cultural place they were in.
Again, given all of the other cultural assumptions of the Jewish people, should we then infer that Christians were and are also to avoid shellfish, pork, or shaving? Should they be stoning neighbors for working on the sabbath?
I take it from your comment that all clsssical literature and any writings from other cultures has no message for you. It was after all written to other people in other times and places and is therefore bunk?
I, for one, have learned much from the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Lotus Sutra; the writings of Augustine and Aquinas, Nichiren Daishonin, Baruch Spinoza, Giordano Bruno, William Blake, the Marquis de Sade, Aristophanes, Plato; and ruminations of Enlightenment philosophers and politicians like Descartes, Hume, and our country's founders. What I, for one, don't imagine is that I can rely on what they say to have taken the observations, advancements, ideas, and discoveries of the centuries that have passed since their deaths into account; nor do I imagine that a good argument from a flawed premise necessarily justifies or vindicates the premise. This is where sifting through not only the materials, but through apologetic arguments, dialectical discussions and debates, and the available empirical "facts" at hand comes in. We may still arrive in agreement with some of the points laid out by our forebears, but it's silly to do so reflexively.
Apr 9 thelyamhound commented on Why Eating Bones Lead Me to Marxism.
@1 - Do any of the alternatives to the city offer much in the way of art, particularly anything live, or anything with texture (I have plenty of digital copies of my beloved Beardsley illustrations, but I miss the smell of paper, or, doG forbid, the scratches of the instrument that drew them).

@2 - Maybe and extension of the same question, maybe an addendum to @4: Does innovation not sometimes come at the expense of traditions, cultures, memes, or aesthetics that pockets of the population find edifying, enlivening? Indeed, are those pockets of the population not sometimes eradicated, via poverty, war, genocide, or forced assimilation in the name of "competition?"
Apr 9 thelyamhound commented on Seattle Is Not Beautiful.
I realize that responding to you is a vain exercise, Bailo/SROTU, but I've always wanted you to address this--what is the track record for sustainable live performance of new and/or experimental art (music, theater, dance, opera, performance or installation art, and anything I might be forgetting) outside of high-density urban centers? There are some things that high-speed trains and broadband simply cannot replace. You may not value those those things, but some do (and not just the artists engaged in creating them). Some things require cities.

As a matter of expense, I sort of wish they didn't; I'd love to live somewhere I could afford. Realistically, though, it's possible I'd have no career at all anywhere that I could afford.
Apr 9 thelyamhound commented on Seattle Is Not Beautiful.
The beauty of NY is, for me, marred by the sense that it's really designed to keep me moving and participating in the exchange of capital. I don't feel like the kind of idleness that allows me to function creatively exists in a NY, or a Boston. I may feel differently about some of the boroughs, were I to spend more time in them. But Manhattan seems designed around the notion that life is divided into work and leisure, and that leisure is something that you purchase. The notion of play is anathema, and the pitying looks you get from people when you tell them you really enjoy sleeping or watching television can get old.

To put it another way, it's beauty is fundamentally "neoliberal," and I find it odd that you would prefer that to the alternative(s).

Not that the architecture there doesn't have its appeal, or that there isn't something left to be desired here. I just feel less like this city is pushing me to move on to the next task, or to immediately part with my very-few-but-very-hard-earned dollars. This city is beautiful to me in precisely the way that punk rock or industrial music are beautiful to me--it's ramshackle and incorrect, finding its voice and its shape, trying to turn its ideas into form because it's lost trust in the old forms. And like some punk or industrial music, it gains a bit when it allows itself to learn enough from the past to avoid making old mistakes (best to commit to new ones).

On Charles and his writing--I've been of the opinion in the past that he's read a lot of Cliff's Notes, adopting slogans from various philosophical works to justify whatever unifying theory first excited him in his adolescence or early 20s. When I'm feeling less charitable, I imagine that his reading and education so far exceed his aptitude that he's been handed a box of tools he can never hope to use, with which he will, for the remainder of his days, be as dangerous as a toddler with the keys to the gun cabinet. But I don't think either of those conclusions true or fair. More likely he's just a bit of what most academia-hating conservatives imagine we all are: an ivory tower daydreamer who's never held a job or been given a task in which something measurable or material had to be completed (he never had to make a sandwich or sweep a floor or clean a dish; he probably never even had to make an audience laugh [deliberately] or cry*); he was, and is, judged solely by what is subjectively determined to be his intelligence (in the abstract sense) and creativity (in the extremely abstract sense). Which isn't terrible, I guess. It does, however, make it difficult for people who actually live and work in anything resembling material reality to attach his musings to things that actually happen day-to-day.

*It's possible that Charles put himself through school by herding and milking goats; if so, I'll admit I'm wrong, but suggest he didn't really seem to learn anything from it.
Apr 8 thelyamhound commented on Voters in Springfield, MO, Repeal LGBT Civil Rights Law.
Forget it, venomlash; it's Chinatown.
Feb 24 thelyamhound commented on My Philosophy.
Assuming that your definitions of "black excellence" mirror those contained in this article, my question is, how does Kanye (or the presumptions regarding Kanye's intentions, or a definition of "black excellence" that is wholly technical, accompanied by an insistence that pretty much anything in a punk, postpunk, noise, avant-garde, etc., constitutes a lazy mediocrity available primarily to whites) account for artists like Bad Brains, Death, Fishbone, Dalek, or even Thee Satisfaction or Shabazz Palaces, artists mining a similar vein in which the technical components of music and production are less important than the ways in which content leads to form, or in which sound is used to subvert expectations of the agreed-upon components of music?

It seems like we're starting to define "privilege" in ever more confounding terms.
Jan 28 thelyamhound commented on This Morning's Best Long Read: Jonathan Chait On the Return of Political Correctness and the Online Swarm of Illiberal Liberals.
I think it's silly to suggest that white men of whatever political stripe or whatever level of education are being "silenced" by political correctness. I'm not too concerned about what recent obsessions regarding privilege and sensitivity are doing to to individual writers or speakers; even though I've had some of my own thoughts and words dismissed due to my privilege, reflection on the matter--even when I arrived at the conclusion that I was in the right, even if I happened to arrive at that conclusion more often than not--never failed to enlighten and enliven, and, in most cases, I found that my own arguments emerged somewhat sharpened.

Of course, having emerged unscathed with arguments that took the lens of my privilege into account, I often found that the person with whom I was speaking--not infrequently someone I knew; invariably someone I had hoped, at least at some point, to reach--was no longer receptive to my argument. If I were to "admit" that my initial argument emerged from my privilege, no amendment to or restatement of it would be seen as valid; if I made no such admission, I was basking in my privilege, and nothing I say could be trusted.

The loss here is not to me, but to discourse. Examining privilege is important, because privilege is a lens. Here's a thing, though: lenses can distort, but they can also magnify and clarify. Another thing: marginalization, also, is a lens. If a member of a privileged population is having a conversation with a member of a marginalized population (and we are truly all members of multiple groups; most of us live as a mosaic of various modes of privilege and marginalization), pointing out the lenses involved may be instructive for those wearing them, but it says nothing about whose view is clearer. Showing me my privilege (which I'm already examining, but I grant one may have no way of knowing that) doesn't say anything about the validity of my view. Which is a comfort to me, I guess, which is why I don't feel picked on the way Chait does, but it also says nothing about the subject. And I, as a participant in whatever conversation I'm participating in, should be able to explain what I observe with regards to the subject, as should the other participant(s), with each of us recognizing our lenses, recognizing that those lenses may obscure truths that others can see clearly, but may also reveal truths that are foggy or over- or under-maginified or distorted to others. And I/you/we should be able to explain observations, positions, language, constructs, art, philosophy, etc., without it being mansplaining, whitesplaining, bourgeoisplaining, or what-have-you.

Sometimes an explanation is just an explanation.
Dec 29, 2014 thelyamhound commented on Why Are Modern Movie Musicals So Completely Forgettable?.
I think the next great movie musical will need to have been written FOR the screen, and by someone who's conversant with current demotic music beyond thinking it's something "the kids" or "hipsters" are listening to. Musical theater music used to at least have a parallel course of evolution with both popular music and whatever was happening at the academy; now the scene is so balkanized that the music of musical theater is appreciated primarily by musical theater practitioners and tourists to big cities who appreciate its unassuming, egalitarian (in a middle-class, amusement-park sort of way) vibe.

Say what you like about Lars Von Trier, but Dancer in the Dark seemed like it could have offered a new template, a new way to think about making musicals; like all Von Trier, I think the art-school pretensions actually embodied/masked a puckish populism that used disorientation and emotional manipulation the way Spielberg uses stunts and CGI dinosaurs.

John Cameron Mitchell also managed something similar with Hedwig, which I think found a cinematic language as compelling as its stage vocabulary.
Dec 26, 2014 thelyamhound commented on Johnny Depp Can't Quite Ruin Into the Woods.
@16 - "Hipster" is one of the more confusing insults out there, especially since calling someone a hipster seems to be a way of displaying your own hipness--that is, the superior sense of knowing that allows you to determine that the person you're talking to is posing, that his or her (usually his, in my experience, but others may have experienced otherwise) tastes are affected for the sake of seeming smart, sexy, young, etc.

Sometimes, it seems like a new way of being homophobic ("He plucks his eyebrows, his socks match his shirt, and I think I saw that outfit in one of my wife's magazines!) or ageist ("Damn kids! In my day, we knew how to wear black jeans with authentic panache!"). Probably reading too much into it, though. I really think it's more a way of hating white or white-ish people who make you feel disconnected from some ill-defined notion of "alternative" culture.

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