March 19, 2015

Symbology

Well, Wafers, time for a new post. We've essentially run the deluded foolishness of 'progressives' into the ground, so I figure it might be time to change subjects entirely. Symbology seems to have been curiously ignored on this blog, so I thought: why not?

I should say that this topic was motivated by a marvelous article by Adam Gopnik on the Warburg Institute in London, in the March 16 issue of the New Yorker. I have a fondness for the place inasmuch as I applied to be a research fellow there in the early 70s, when I had begun thinking about the themes that would become part of The Reenchantment of the World. They cruelly turned down my application, which was a shame, since I could have used their medieval and Renaissance collection; but I somehow managed to survive without it, all in all. Anyway, to launch our investigation into symbology, let me quote two paragraphs from Gopnik's essay (he's talking about the founder, Aby Warburg):

"Warburg's ideas are often not just baffingly inbred but expressed in crunchy impenetrable German compounds. It is a brave man who would attempt to simplify them too sharply. Nonetheless, his theory of pictures might be summed up in three words: Poses have power. The repeated poses of art--young girls dancing, snakes entwining, the moment of the kill in the hunt, the confrontation of sea and single figure--are parts of an ongoing inheritance, a natural language of visual meaning that we all understand without having been consciously instructed in it. Warburg's favorite illustration was what he called the 'Nympha' figure: the young woman in flowing drapery who gives the illusion of rapid and graceful movement and can be found dancing through Western art for two thousand years, from Hellenistic sarcophagi to Botticelli's 'Primavera' and Isadora Duncan.

"Like all powerful things, such poses are double-edged. There is a white imge magic that feeds humanism and infuses art with healthy Dionysian passion, and there is a black image magic that causes us to surrender reason to the ravishments of our own fixations. Although Warburg died before Nazism came to a head, he knew very well the appeal of 'Dionysian' imagery to modern people dessicated by rationality. As the long 'memory traces' of mankind--Warburg referred to these as 'engrams'--reach us through recurring images, we can be overwhelmed by them or we can organize them. The constellations of astrology are a perfect illustration of this point. There are no rams and bears and heroes in the sky, controlling our behavior. The patterns aren't real, but they trap us into imagining that they are. Yet the act of organizing that the constellations represent proved to be essential to rational science, giving us mathematics through imagination."

Talk about food for thought, eh?

Of course, all of this could take us into the deluded world of Joseph Campbell, whose "scholarship" I regard as simplistic New Age dog poop, in which everything is uncritically related to everything else. (See my critique of Campbell in Wandering God, esp. the footnotes.) Still, even as great a scholar as Claude Levi-Strauss was occasionally drawn into this kind of uncritical, "universalist" thinking. So I was wary of introducing a topic like Symbology. But what the heck; Wafers must soldier on, clearly, wading through the dog poop as best they can. As America collapses we need to have a little fun, after all. Onward, then; into the breach!

mb

February 26, 2015

Neurotic Beauty

OK, Wafers; the Japan book is finally available. You'll probably need one for the kitchen and one for the bathroom, and maybe one more for your den. And then of course the basement workshop...This Amazon listing needs fixing: there are some endorsements to come, and the subtitle got cited twice, for some odd reason. Well, all in good time (hopefully). In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the book:

http://www.amazon.com/Neurotic-Beauty-Outsider-Looks-Japan/dp/1893075974/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424965596&sr=1-11&keywords=morris+berman

February 16, 2015

Practice Your Spanish

Well, Wafers: I got duped. Canal 22, the cultural TV channel in Mexico City, asked me to do a taped interview with them, which I did a few weeks ago. They told me they would tape about 30 minutes, then do a slight bit of editing, and issue the interview in two parts, of about 10 or 15 minutes each. Well, the "slight bit of editing" consisted in removing almost all of the interview. What aired was two parts of 3 minutes each. Their apparent goal was not political analysis, but entertainment. As a result, all I managed to convey were slogans and platitudes; what else can you do in 6 minutes? I may be being hard on myself, but I think I come across as a cliche (progress vs. tradition, etc.). Not good. I guess the American contagion of hustling has managed to infect the Mexican media, tragically enough. My first and last interview for Canal 22, in any case.

Anyway, I'm posting this not for content--there isn't much--but for those of you want to practice your Spanish (though mine ain't perfect, as hispanohablantes will rightly point out). Gozalo!

http://youtu.be/WIvkWxcSFdI

http://youtu.be/ZPKFlSWS3tM

-mb

February 08, 2015

238

Well, Waferinos-

We've got a good discussion going on the Ukraine, so we might want to continue with that; although a subthread on the merits of chopped liver would not be totally amiss, methinks. I don't have a lot to add right now, being up to my eyeballs in trying to get out the Japan book and the Spanish edition of SSIG. Also doing my taxes. When I saw how little I earned last year, I wept. Not sure how I manage to keep going; it sure ain't from book sales. "Little Known Author Dies in Mexico from Poverty, While Trollfoons Applaud"--a future newspaper headline somewhere, I suppose. On the bright side, we now have 157 registered Wafers, so our victory is assured.

Life goes on, amigos. Try to avoid talking to Americans, in the meanwhile; it's just too depressing.

mb

January 14, 2015

Interview with James Howard Kunstler

OK, Waferinos; let's take a break from Charlie Hebdo for a while, and check out JHK's latest podcast:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/kunstlercast/KunstlerCast_263.mp3

January 09, 2015

(Another) Interview with Ken Rose

http://whatnowsolutions.org/?powerpress_pinw=1216-podcast