A wonderful piece in Voeglin View by Richard Avramenko and Jingcai Ying:
As Nicolai Berdyaev puts it, the Westernized Russian man “has departed from the feminine principle” and “renounced his mother earth . . . .”15 He has lost his moral compass, continuously overstepping all moral boundaries (e.g., Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment) and lusts for every sensual pleasure (e.g., Stavrogin in The Possessed). In the face of the Russian man’s degeneration, the Russian woman preserves the “life-affirming and altruistic values” inherited from Mother Earth, the sacred soil that remains the regenerative source for all Russians.16
Dostoevsky is not merely hoping for such a heritage in the Russian woman, he actually finds it in her:
In the Russian woman resides our only great hope, one of the pledges of our revival. The regeneration of the Russian woman during the last twenty years has proved unmistakable.17
The heroines in Dostoevsky’s novels embody this “great hope” and exemplify the Russian woman’s striving to reunite the degenerated Russian man with Mother Earth. Therefore, it is not surprising that nearly all the heroines in Dostoevsky’s work are peasants because the Russian peasants have always been closest to the soil.
In fact, Dostoevsky is so hopeful of the peasant’s spiritual health that in Crime and Punishment he even lets Sonya, a peasant, give Raskolnikov the cypress-wood cross, a symbol of the Russian peasantry, to ensure the murderer’s salvation and reconciliation with the Russian soil.18
To Dostoevsky, the Russian peasant woman might be the only way back to Mother Earth for the fallen Russian men.
“First there is nothing, then there is a deep nothing, then there is a blue depth.“ - Gaston Bachelard
WHAT A IT IS:
An edible catering product created by Danish company Dansk Andels.
HOW IT'S USED:
This Youtube video from 2010 explains how Long Eggs are made. The meme was distributed primarily via Facebook shitposting groups.
WHAT IT MEANS:
The egg weighs ten tons and is synonymous with life. A Coleridgean symbol, it is what it signifies. Life verdant. Life eternal. Life both abstracted from its viscera, conceptually pointing towards a higher grounding of being, and life as it’s experienced in the odors and textures of the viscera itself. Contradictions extinguished within.
Clay eggs have been found in prehistoric Russian and Ukrainian tombs. It’s there, prominent even, in Druidic and Indian and Egyptian symbology. Brahma escaped from a crack in the cosmic egg. Pythagoras’ circle is the yoke of the world egg.
We’re told that naturalness no longer exists. We’re told that naturalness never existed. We’re told that un-naturalness never existed.
The long egg is disgusting. It’s a Frankenstein-level stitching together of things that shouldn’t exist as a unified object. Only a monster would find it appetizing.
But the power of the meme, of its humor, derives from a deeper source. This is what we have now instead of the cosmic egg or transcendental geometry. A disgusting, cheap product. Imagine being buried with a long egg.
Most memes mock the sad pretensions of consumer capitalism, finding a sort of unconscious gallows humor in the slow necrotic rot of a once enchanted world. The long egg marks the complete and total metaphysical debasement of humans.
Long egg is funny not just because it’s absurd, but because it’s an abomination.
I wrote a piece about Stephen Hawking for The American Conservative.
My latest piece for Public Discourse, a review of D.C. Schindler's Freedom from Reality is up:
When Schindler illustrates the consequences of Locke’s (and by association, the popular contemporary) idea of freedom, he traces a clear line that leads from law to the modern economy. It goes something like this: If, as Locke says, freedom “liberates” us from an objective moral order, then our obligations to one another are similarly free of higher moral considerations. Hence our contemporary legal system, which is meant to regulate relationships between individuals, does not cohere with an already existing transcendent moral order. What results is a strange tug of war between our private or personal world and everyone else’s. Power disconnects from objective reality, and there’s a cascade of abstraction. Things become ideas. Property liquidates into cash. “If freedom is conceived as power,” Schindler writes, “then a basic form of the exercise of freedom in the world is the conversion of the world into money.”
I've recently begun watching the Mark Cousins-narrated documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey. Something reiterated from the beginning is that what we think of as "classical" 1920's and 1930's American films are actually "romantic" - the gauzy oversaturation, the manufactured glitz, the hero celebration, the obsession with film as dreamy reverie. Directors who strayed too far from the large-scale manufacture of escapist fantasies were punished for it. Just think of Eric von Stroheim never being allowed to direct within the Hollywood machine again again after his downer adaptation of Frank Norris' McTeague. The "real" classical films - classical in the sense of being grounded in daily life as it's actually experienced, the realistic movement through time, the mature sense of balance and proportion - belong to early Japanese cinema.
I wonder if the same isn't true for ambient and minimalist electronic music. Most of that sort of music that I listen to is Anglo-American (Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Steve Reich, Philip Glass) or German (Cluster, Harmonia, Roedelius). Even the newer stuff that I listen to - Julianna Barwick, Grouper, Vermont, Gaussian Curve, Visible Cloaks - are American or European artists. But a fascinating article in this month's Brooklyn Rail (whose music section, edited by George Grella, is indispensable) by Sadie Rebecca Starnes about how a combination of internet sharing platforms and algorithmically automated playlists on YouTube have led to a (re)discovery of 70's and 80's Japanese electronic minimalist and New Age music, comes as something of a revelation to people like myself who have only dipped their toe in the Occidental version:
"Such cascading enthusiasm is symptomatic of our times. Like Facebook, YouTube’s algorithm naturally inflames subcultures—conspiracy theorists and vinyl enthusiasts alike. YouTube engineers claim their Deep Learning Algorithm, modeled after our brain’s neural network, is one of the “largest-scale and most sophisticated” recommendation systems. As the algorithm evolves, even more nuanced and intelligent connections between users’ search histories and tastes are formed, amplifying niche audiences—for better or worse.
The centerpiece of YouTube’s recent algorithmic influence is 1983’s Through the Looking Glass, the debut solo album of Mkwaju Ensemble’s Midori Takada. A treasured rarity within music circles for decades, this masterwork of bubble-era Japanese minimalism was largely inaccessible until 2013, when musician Maxwell August Croy uploaded it to the Root Strata blog. A few days later, Takada was featured in another RootMix by Doran, “Music Interiors,” a compilation of 1980s “Japanese new-age/ambient/minimalist music.” Like the Fourth World collection before it, listeners fleshed out the track list on YouTube. Blogger Jackamo Brown’s early upload of the album netted nearly 2 million plays before it was taken down in 2017, reincarnated as a vinyl reissue through Palto Flats and WRWTFWWRecords. Incredibly, this was the number one new release on Discogs’s mid-2017 report—a buxom statistic for the typically fringe genre."
YouTube's notoriously AI-hijacked algorithms actually functioning in way that benefits people is great to hear, of course, but what's more interesting to me is the music itself. I've only begun to delve into it, but my initial reaction is that this sounds a lot like newer American ambient work - The Dead Texan particularly - rather than the almost *too* glossy, muzak and fusion jazz-influenced sound which overtook Western electronic composition after the initial Eno/Cluster wave (I'm thinking of Vangelis and Yanni here in particular). In this sense, I'm wondering if Japanese ambient/minimalist electronic music is more the true inheritor of the original promise of the genre rather than its Western coevals. More sophisticated, mature, balanced, simple, and hewing closer to life as it's actually experienced day to day, I wonder if 80's Japanese electronic music doesn't play a similar role as Japanese cinema from the 20's - which was also eventually "rediscovered" by the West as seen in its influence on French New Wave and the New Hollywood films of the 70's.
"If a sense of detachment offered the artist a kind of mental bunker in wartime, Klee was also extremely inventive during this period. He employed both imagery and materials from his military environment, including linen from airplane wings. “He became very interested in the material because, at the time, it was pretty difficult to get paper, so he began to work more with fabric and use the stencils—numbers and letters that each airplane had—to infuse his work with imagery,” Eggelhöfer says."
My recommendations appear alongside Daniel Larison's and Gracy Olmstead's in this week's TAC Bookshelf.
"And yet, while we may be tempted to ruminate on future robot armies, a more immediate AI threat is brewing right under our noses: heteromated terrorism, which occurs when humans engage in violent acts at the behest of AI technology."
Up now at the University Bookman: http://www.kirkcenter.org/bookman/article/everything-you-think-you-know-about-fascism-is-wrong