More Salvaged Idiocentrism Posts

Le Real is a Kind of Sturgeon

Back when postmodernism was a thing, I did a faux-erudite parody of Derrida and Lacan. It might fool a few people, but it probably be wasted now, since postmodernism is no longer a real thing. (Latin Res+al = “thing-like” = “real”).

Janus Vitalis: Rome Buried in its Ruins

Over the centuries Qui Roman in media quaeris novus advena Roma. Janus Vitalis’s Renaissance Latin meditation on the ruins of Rome, has been translated at least 11 times into at least 5 languages and has gained its own permanence.

Baldassar Castiglione on the Ruins of Rome

An Italian meditation on the ruins of Rome by an older contemporary of Janus Vitalis.

Transience and Water

General reflections on transience in Chinese, English, and Latin.

Waiting for the Barbarians

Verlaine and Cavafy were rather noncommittal about the arrival of the barbarians.

Drakon and Solon

Drakon, a shadowy figure, was credited as the founder of the Athenian democracy / republic and as a consequence, the first democrat / republican in history –but he is also remembered as a brutal tyrant. The methods by which orderly, peaceful states are founded are normally brutal and lawless, and often a martial leader and a civil leader are coupled at the legendary beginning. In the case of Athens the civil leader was Solon, famed everywhere for his wisdom.

Werewolves and the State

However, Solon did not see himself as peaceful, but compared himself to a lone wolf with a pack of dogs snapping at him from every side. In Derrida and his commentators the ruler is described as a wolf or werewolf — the lonely man who decides the state of exception.

Trained incapacity and Institutional psychosis

It turns out that I’m not the only one who makes things up.

A Naive Reading of Descartes’ Discourse on Method

Descartes’ Discourse on Method is short and easy, and it shows you a Descartes far different than the one you read about in survey courses.

Michel Meyer and Practical Philosophy

After several decades of trying to read contemporary Anglo-American and Continental philosophy, I decided that I had been wasting my time, and I feel much the same way about social science theory and literary theory. Along with Stephen Toulmin, Meyer is one of few writers accepted as philosophers who point toward something better. The relationship between timeless, universal, disembedded truths and historical, particular, embedded knowledge is a tricky one and should be one of the main topics of philosophy. For a variety of not-good reasons (careerism and the needs of power), philosophy and the social sciences tend to be unduly biased toward the former set.

Staying at Home

Voltaire laughed at geodeticists like Maupertuis who traveled to far places to take measurements to determine the exact shape of the earth, because Voltaire already knew that the earth was a perfect sphere. As one of the founders of scientism, Voltaire wanted his concepts to be rational and perfect and easy to handle, and empirical studies just make things messy. (Laozi and Thoreau shared Voltaire’s disdain for travel).

Starting from Greenland: “Kayak” Circumnavigates the Globe

Narwhal ivory from Greenland reached China well before Columbus on well-worn trade routes following rivers from the Baltic sea to the Black Sea or Caspian Sea, and then from Samarqand to China. The kayak reached China only after Columbus, but the word “kayak” for some type of boat was found in most Turkish languages and all the way to the Adriatic. The Inuit lived on both sides of the Bering strait and originated in Asia, and when the Inuit “kayak” reached the Mediterranean, the possibly-related etymologically-Turkish “caique” was already there. (But no, it wasn’t a kayak.)

Author: John Emerson

An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur.

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