On why I wish I lived in San Francisco

Jake Heggie’s new opera – Moby Dick – premiered in San Francisco.

Here is the review of the opera from Ionarts (by Robert R. Reilly):

To say that mounting Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick as an opera is a daunting task is an understatement of considerable proportions. One has to admire Heggie’s nerve in undertaking it. He, his librettist, the director, and the designer have not completely succeeded for the simple fact that no one could. How do you distill a 600-page novel that poses the question as to whether the order of creation is rational or willfully malign, and that deals with the relationships between freedom and necessity, and between providence and the existence of evil, into a three-hour opera?

I came across this short program in which Heggie talks about the process of writing an opera based on Moby Dick:

Basic Principles of Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Irreversibility of Implication Principle

Bored with my previous series (that only went to two posts on Hegel and Spinoza), I am returning to my blogosphere roots – making fun of OOO and its “arguments” online. But first, some fundamental principles.

One principle that is easily discernible in any interactions with objectologists is The Irreversibility of Implication Principle. Stated simply, the principle is easy to understand (and to follow): Whatever conclusion an objectologist makes about an opponent’s implicit motivations for her position cannot be reversed and directed back at the said objectologist.

Let’s take a simple example from the freshly pressed text: Bryant’s “fighting words” of this morning. The overall conclusion of this semi-nonsensical post is clear: “Your thought is a reaction formation to the narcissistic wound of the fact that your existence is contingent and that you are only the third of the three great apes.” Here “your” stands for all the failed “Continental philosophers” who, unlike the cool kids, still cling to their outdated non-naturalist and non-materialist approaches. They do so because of some fundamental psychological and professional insecurity. Their thought is the direct consequence of their threatened status and their unwillingness to dispense with their privileges.

Makes perfect sense, you say. It does. There is nothing new about making such generalized implications. However, the freedom to do so is limited by the “irreversibility principle” – accusations directed at others cannot be reserved and redirected at the accusers. So if I said, for example, that Bryant’s entire project is motivated by his sense of profound insecurity and mediocrity, that everything he says and writes is aimed at proving to everyone (but mostly his father) that he is in fact a somebody, then objectologists would cry foul and would be absolutely correct. My statement would be a direct violation of the “irreversibility principle”: remember, kids, hot coffee in the blue mug warms cold air, cold air does not warm hot coffee…

Another example: every critic of object-oriented ontology/philosophy is a jealous loser, unable to reach a desired position of academic power and thus taking his/her angry frustration on poor naive original-to-the-bone philosophers of the future. Well, all of these things are certainly true in my case, but were I to try a reversal – perhaps the motivation behind all of this mindless speculation is some psychological need for praise and approval, some grotesque ambition to find glory and universal approval for originality – and I would be dead wrong.

I hear you grumble something about the “doctor heal thyself” principle and hypocrisy. Here is why you are all wrong:

1) To your witty “Doctor heal thyself” quote I give you my wittier “Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi” quote – what do you say to that? Mine is in Latin. You lose.

2) Hypocrisy argument, like critique, is the weapon of the weak and the powerless. They always want to hold great men accountable to their worthless little moralities. Let me ask you this question: How many books did you publish? You are only allowed to talk back if it is the amount equal to that of the most productive objectologist. The rest of you rest your objections and start getting some books published. This game is for big boys with long lists.

3) Can’t we all just move past the accusations and engage in some love and compassion? I am tired of all the fights and all the controversy that inevitably follows all the posts on OOO. All of your witty and thought-provoking comments exhaust me. Sure, maybe it is not a perfect system of philosophy, but it is trying its best, so let it be.

Articulate Silences

Bartók’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle ushered in a new period of psychological realism, darkness, and economy of material in his music. Premiered in 1937, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta was an incredibly compelling step forward in transferring these forces into the abstract realm. An Expressionist engagement with the drama of oppositions meets with a feeling of black comedy to create a highly visceral experience, married with masterful technical achievement.

This extraordinary work adds to Bartók’s assimilation of folk traditions of his native Hungary a sophisticated dialectic between ancient and modern. The movements each caricature a different form whilst adapting them to the precise, shadowy vision of the music. He does not fully embrace these archaic forms but chooses certain features from a distance, with the result of creating 20th century metaphors for the fugue, sonata and concerto, rather than wholeheartedly continuing their tradition.

Bartók’s worldview derived from a deep love…

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Question: What May I Hope For? Answer: More Vague Bullshit!

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, you guys! Did you hear about the “new materialism”? No? Well you have to read this then, it’s the bestest most original philosophy out there. Just look at this introduction – doesn’t it make you really excited about this new big thing? No, not the “speculative turn” – that’s so 5 years ago. That seemed like a good idea at the time but it turned out to be a turn down the wrong alley. No, not the “object-oriented philosophy” – that is so 6 years ago and has been exposed as a big joke. No one, like, even reads that shit anymore.

Get ready, get set, get excited about the next big thing! Or at least this is what this Introduction wants you to do. How new is this “new materialism”? As new as they come! What is so “materialist” about it? It’s a big secret, ya’ll.

In academia, revolutionary and radical ideas are actualized through an engagement with scholars and scholarly traditions of the canonized past. Contemporary generations read, or more often reread older texts, resulting in “new” readings that do not fit the dominant reception of these texts… It is in the resonances between old and new readings and re-readings that a “new metaphysics” might announce itself… It rather traverses and thereby rewrites thinking as a whole, leaving nothing untouched, redirecting every possible idea according to its new sense of orientation.

Translation: academics read and reread books. New materialism is about reading old books anew, by new people with new ideas (and cool new words). Things will emerge as we stubbornly read the same books over and over again. Maybe we’ll throw in some new unexpected books, like, you know, new stuff from other disciplines?

An endorsement by the great wizard of online philosophy (Graham Harman) makes me want to read this immediately – that dude knows his philosophical fashions! But I suspect, judging by the introduction, this will have little or nothing to do with “materialism” and much to do with “new” verbal tricks and ways for bored academics to amuse themselves with new toys.

But I might be wrong! This might indeed be the next big thing!