Thomas Friedman and Toilets

Especially delightful Monday morning tale from always profound Justin E. H. Smith:

I had already known Friedman to be a small and twitchy man, and was now able to confirm that this is at best a mild understatement. Yet almost immediately I sensed that there was something unusual, that this man, however awkward he may ordinarily be, was at this very moment in a tremendous amount of discomfort.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Friedman,” I said smoothly and, I hoped, with just the right amount of ambiguous sarcasm. “I’m a big fan of The Lexus and the Olive Tree. It really captured the moment. When I read it I was like: forget about On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense, it’s Friedman who’s really got his finger on the pulse.”

“Thanks,” Friedman groaned. “Call me Tom.”

This was all he managed to say, after which he just kept standing there, sweating and wincing. I imagined Juliette might be able to bring him back to life if I were to disappear, so I excused myself and went to mingle among the other guests. Things were proceeding as usual. Reginald, it seems, had read Gunther’s new book, Kenelm Digby’s Qualitative Corpuscularianism. The babysitter-deprived and therefore absent Gunther, Reginald reported to the crowd’s amusement and surprise, had based his study almost entirely upon The Nature of Bodies of 1644 while completely ignoring the Discourse concerning the Vegetation of Plants of 1661.

Thirty minutes in or so, when I simply could not stand to see my most distinguished guest suffering anymore, and when conversation with the others had weakened from Digby to dental insurance to daycare, I leaned in and, in a whispered tone, asked Juliette what was wrong. She knew the man better than I did, after all, and I had long known her to be what Nietzsche would call a penetrating ‘psychologist’. Was she ever! Thomas Friedman, Juliette whispered to me discreetly in the elegant Ciceronian Latin she still retained from her years as a scholar of Imperial Stoicism, was in the throes of a fluxus ventris.

Read the rest here.

Pulchrum concilium semibestiarum!

Speaking of the relationship between ontology and politics, here’s a great advice from none other than Leibniz himself – concerning a cool army of slaves trained on an island:

A certain island of Africa, such as Madagascar, shall be selected, and all the inhabitants shall be ordered to leave. Visitors from elsewhere shall be turned away, or in any event it will be decreed that they only be permitted to stay in the harbor for the purpose of obtaining water.  To this island slaves captured from all over the barbarian world will be brought, and from all of the wild coastal regions of Africa, Arabia, New Guinea, etc. To this end Ethiopians, Nigritians, Angolans, Caribbeans, Canadians, and Hurons fit the bill, without discrimination. What a lovely bunch of semi-beasts! But so that this mass of men may be shaped in any way desired, it is useful only to take boys up to around the age of twelve, as this is better than [attempting to] transform girls and adults.

Read the rest of the text here.