Archive | January, 2010

Neil Gaiman! Squeeeeeee!

The New Yorker has a partly good and partly annoying profile of Neil Gaiman up.

Gaiman comments on the profile:

Golden Age Sandman with gas gunIt’s pretty good actually, although given the amount of time I was on the phone with the New York Times Fact Checker for, I’m surprised at the number of things Dana still got a little bit wrong (from the Golden Age Sandman “killing” people with his gas gun on up, or down). I found myself feeling protective of the readers, and was disappointed that there wasn’t actually more about the stories in there: the huge signings and bloggings and book-sales numbers [and] such are a tiny by-product of the stories, and, for me, not the most interesting bit (it would be like seeing someone describing a classical concert: the funny man with the stick waving it around at the front, and all the people in their best clothes sitting patiently while other people blow or pluck or scrape or bang at things on the stage, which all seems a bit peculiar if you aren’t talking about the music). Glad it’s done, though.

He talks some more about the profile here.

Mr. Sandman - Mattress Outlet

Rand Unbound, Part 2

My contribution to Cato Unbound’s Rand symposium is now online. Not many surprises for readers of this blog: I do my Aristotelean eudaimonist dance, my labortarian/anti-conflationist dance, my anarchist dance, and my thick-libertarian dance. (And I drop in links to lots of my friends.)

Here’s Cato’s summary:

In his reply to Rasmussen’s lead essay, Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long sets out to sort the wheat from the chaff in Ayn Rand’s moral and political thought. Long maintains that “Rand sets out to found a classical liberal conception of politics … upon a classical Greek conception of human nature and the human good,” and he goes on to defend the plausibility of this project.

Ayn RandIn particular, Long stands up for Rand’s reliance on a naturalistic teleology to ground her neo-Aristotlean ethic theory, pointing to contemporary philosophical work that supports Rand’s view.

Long is less happy with Rand’s political thought and criticizes her ideas of the “pyramid of ability” and of big business as a “persecuted minority.” Long credits Rand for her trenchant analysis of corporatism, but argues that she was mistaken to deny that corporatism and capitalism go hand in hand. According to Long, Rand’s ideal of voluntary interaction not only implies a radical departure from historical capitalism, but also a more thoroughly anti-statist social order.

Tame Essay Winner Online

The Libertarian Alliance’ s 2009 Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize Competition was on the subject “Can a Libertarian Also Be a Conservative?” The winning essay, by Antoine Clarke, is now online. (CHT Joel Schlosberg.) It’s a mix of claims I agree with and claims I don’t: the best part is his section on an “Act of Parliament for Table Manners” (wherein he skewers the spontaneous-order pretensions of contemporary conservatives), but I can’t agree with his implicit suggestion that libertarianism and conservatism have little to disagree about on strictly economic matters, or that the fraying of the libertarian/conservative alliance is something to be regretted.

My favourite line in it is a quote from the drearily conservative philosopher Roger Scruton: “the constant questioning of established beliefs and authorities has set us upon a path that has anarchy as its only destination.” Oh noes!

East and West

The late Michael Kreca’s article “The Needless US Pacific War with Japan,” posted on LRC today, begins like this:

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet…” – Rudyard Kipling

When Kipling penned those immortal words during the height of Pax Britannia in the 19th century, he believed East and West were so different in their respective civilizations and outlook that there would be no basis for any real understanding between the two hemispheres. True or untrue, at the times they each have met, it has often sadly been in the cauldron of warfare …

Okay, but two quibbles. First, the “East” in Kipling’s poem refers to the Muslim world, not to East Asia; and second, the whole point of the poem is to deny that there is “no basis for any real understanding” between the two cultures – instead, the reiterated message of Kipling’s poem is that “there is neither East nor West, border, nor breed, nor birth, when two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth.”

(Needless to say, Kipling is not exactly consistent in maintaining this attitude of equality and mutual respect between cultures; indeed he’s probably best known for his jingoistic imperialist side. But he had other sides as well.)

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