About



This is the blog of John Emerson, eclectic generalist. I scavenge around and find interesting tidbits and unexpected connections. I also tend to joke around without taking things at face value, making people think I’m not serious, but I am firmly of the opinion that too many things are taken at face value and that serious seriousness is a curse on a par with ambition and normality. Mr Emerson is a Diogenean cynic, Pyrrhonian skeptic, and left populist.

It’s like coring cheese. Someone buying a 500 pound block of cheese needs to know whether the blocks are good quality throughout, but often they don’t want to chop the cheese up into one-pound chunks right away. What they do is take core samples from various angles: vertically, horizontally, diagonally and so on. They never really know for sure whether the whole interior of the cheese is good, but by taking samples from a fair number of widely separated places they can get a general idea. Two people coring the same block might take entirely different sets of samples, but they’ll probably come up with the same results…. or else not. Epigrues is the samples I have taken.

My topic is everything but the specific cores I take include the Daodejing, Minnesota politics and populism, the life and career of Genghis Khan, contemporary American politics (alas), French post-romantic literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, alternative economics and critiques of economics, the theory of time, scattered authors from Portuguese and Bazilian literature…… and so on.

I will post new material here but mostly will archive final versions of selected earlier writings. Posts will be sorted into categories: Politics, Daodejing / China, Inner Eurasia, Culture / History, Minnesota politics and Americana, Philosophy / Social Science / Science, and Odd Books (books that, in my opinion, get too little attention).

I can be very funny at times, and find that for that reason, people are unlikely to take anything I say seriously. But the people they do take seriously are usually the wrong ones.

Archived posts will be taken from Haquelebac, Trollblog, Seeing the Forest, Idiocentrism (defunct) and Open Left (defunct). Some of the material here comes from my two self-published books: The Sex Life of the Nineteenth Century and Shen Dao: Translation and Study.

Once I’ve put them in shape I hope to publish some of these writings in book form for real, especially my as-yet-unfinished book on the Daodejing.

emersonj at g mail dot com.
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