?

Log in

No account? Create an account
larvatus prodeo Below are the 30 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Michael Zeleny" journal:

[<< Previous 30 entries]

December 31st, 2025
12:10 pm

[Link]

HIC LOCUS EST UBI MORS GAUDET SUCCURRERE VITAE
Welcome to the online journal of larvatus. Stable texts are open to the general public. Squibs and sallies, schemes and stratagems, jaunts and taunts, are restricted to friends. Please note that locked texts subject to third party copyright are provided to my friends under the doctrine of fair use, subject to implied consent by all their readers to abstain from redistribution. Reciprocal friendship shall be extended to all sane, sound, and disinterested personae. Comments and critique are always welcome. Marriage proposals and death threats shall be entertained in the order received.
    The House Rules are few and lax. All anonymous comments are initially screened. They shall be revealed or answered at your host’s discretion. All signed comments are initially presumed welcome, until and unless they cause an affront to your host. Thereupon their author shall become banned from further contributions to this journal. Otherwise, anything goes.
                        SAY WHAT?

                                                                                         ÇA ?
                                                                      Tristan Corbière


A treatise? You don’t say! I haven’t treated squat!
A study? Slothful wretch, my culture fetid rot.
A volume? Random heap, sheets stacked in disarray.
Good copy? Not with me enmired in the fray.

A poem? Not today, my lyre is being cleaned.
A book? Of fusty tomes far better to be weaned.
A song? Would that it were, my ear is made of tin.
Fun pastime? Sordid den, dire boredom dwells within.

A cadence? Rhythmic flow is broken by dull grind.
A product? I divide what others multiplied.
A story? Handicapped, my lame and laggard Muse.
Clear proof? My mind is fraught by grief and lit by booze.

High fashion? Wealth and style inform nowhere my dress.
Grandstanding or grand mal? My spasms fail to impress.
Evicted from the hall, I lurk behind the stage,
In transit, poised to choose: a joy house or a cage.

Too old? But to retire, my tenure won’t suffice.
Too young? My hectic life will rid me of this vice.
A sage, a slob, an ace, a master, and a clown,
A stud without a flock, a king without a crown.

THIS is without pretense, and yet a blatant pose.
It’s life and nothing but, confessed in deathless prose.
A masterpiece? Could be, I never made one yet!
A farce? A waste? A bomb? Decide and place your bet!

I bet… and I shall sign herewith my humble name;
My child shall overcome each tainted libel claim.
Through chance it will prevail, its fate a stroke of luck
Art knows me not at all — and I don’t give a fuck.

                      — traduced by MZ, 6 September 2005


free counters

Tags: , , , , , ,

(60 comments | Leave a comment)

10:00 am

[Link]

for the anonymous troll
Over sixteen twenty years online, I have received a broad spectrum of threats and pitches, and entertained a commensurate range of slurs and plaudits. This experience has crystallized two iron laws of online communications.

The first law is a corollary of Occam’s razor. No matter what you are promised or threatened on the Internet, the most you will get out of it is oral ministrations. In other words, there is no downside in moving virtual bluster to realspace. Yonder puffed-out sock puppet is as unlikely to escalate its verbiage to physical damage, as the heiress of an African potentate, to bestow her commission upon Americans paying their facilitation fees. By contrast, that virtual fellatrix yearning to reward your eloquence with expert suction may well come through as promised, especially if you overlook minor discrepancies ranging from mien to gender.

The second law of Internet intercourse is a corollary of the first. Only a clueless newbie responds personally to an anonymous troll. To illustrate its application, whenever one of the latter kind feels the urge to share its thoughts about anything but one of the former, it should take them instead to someone who can relate to its bogus persona. It makes no difference whether a figment of this sort touts itself as a public intellectual in mufti, or poses as a skank that services barnyard livestock for spare change. In the immortal words of Jack Nicholson, sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.

A final notice to the insistent incognito. When you surpass words in punishing my excesses, make sure that your hostile deeds leave me unfit to retaliate. My reckoning will define the remainder of your life. It’s happened to your betters before. Don’t let it happen to you.

Tags: , ,

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

January 22nd, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 21st, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 20th, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 18th, 2018
12:11 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 14th, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 8th, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 6th, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 5th, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 4th, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 3rd, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 2nd, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

January 1st, 2018
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 31st, 2017
09:15 pm

[Link]

the ethics of discrimination, part I
In Politics III.9.1280a7–22, Aristotle agrees with the thought that equality is just, but points out that it is not so for everybody, but only for those who are equal; likewise, he agrees with the thought that inequality is just, but points out that it is not so for everybody, but only for those who are unequal; whereupon he concludes that those who strip away the qualification of the persons concerned, judge badly. [οἷον δοκεῖ ἴσον τὸ δίκαιον εἶναι, καὶ ἔστιν, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ πᾶσιν ἀλλὰ τοῖς ἴσοις: καὶ τὸ ἄνισον δοκεῖ δίκαιον εἶναι, καὶ γὰρ ἔστιν, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ πᾶσιν ἀλλὰ τοῖς ἀνίσοις: οἱ δὲ τοῦτ᾽ ἀφαιροῦσι, τὸ οἷς, καὶ κρίνουσι κακῶς.] In this article, I aim to analyze the scope and extent of rational discrimination in choosing between subjects of political rights, and legitimate criteria whereupon such discrimination can be founded.


A portrait of Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds, 1775

Samuel Johnson, the scholar who sought to refute Bishop Berkeley’s doctine of the non-existence of matter by striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, is a strong candidate for the least philosophical mind in his nation of shopkeepers. Thus on 26 February 1751, in Rambler 99, Dr Johnson inveighed against the human counterpart of impartiality:
Other animals are so formed, that they seem to contribute very little to the happiness of each other, and know neither joy, nor grief, nor love, nor hatred, but as they are urged by some desire immediately subservient either to the support of their own lives, or to the continuation of their race; they therefore seldom appear to regard any of the minuter discriminations which distinguish creatures of the fame kind from one another.
    But if man were to feel no incentives to kindness, more than his general tendency to congenial nature, Babylon or London, with all their multitudes, would have to him the desolation of a wilderness; his affections, not compressed into a narrower compass, would vanish like elemental fire, in boundless evaporation; he would languish in perpetual insensibility, and though he might, perhaps, in the first vigour of youth, amuse himself with the fresh enjoyments of life, yet, when curiosity should cease, and alacrity subside, he would abandon himself to the fluctuations of chance, without expecting help against any calamity, or feeling any wish for the happiness of others.
Five decades later, Dr Johnson’s compatriots continued to debate this issue in more abstract terms. An early theoretician of modern anarchism, William Godwin formulated a thought experiment in his 1793 Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness, wherein an agent had to choose only one person to save from a burning building: one being archbishop Fénelon and the other his chambermaid. Godwin applied the utilitarian principle of seeking the greatest good for the greatest number, concluding that a rational agent would save the archbishop instead of his chambermaid, even if the chambermaid had been his wife, his mother, or his benefactor. (In anticipation of the principle calling for the rescue of women and children first, by 1798 Godwin amended his argument to contrast the rescue of the archbishop with that of a valet that might have been the rescuer’s brother, his father, or his benefactor.) In support of his repudiation of individual duty, Godwin asked: “What magic is there in the pronoun ‘my’ that should justify us in overturning the decisions of impartial truth?”


A portrait of William Godwin by James Northcote, 1802

In appealing to impartial truth, with its copulations of propositions, is, and is not to arbitrate between partial values, each of whose propositions were connected with an ought, or an ought not, Godwin ran roughshod over the distinction that had been posited six decades earlier by David Hume. But his contemporaries, who were equally disinclined to distinguish facts from values, were amused, if not incensed. Thus Charles Lamb: “If I can guess at the wicked pride of the Professor’s heart, I would take a shrewd wager that he disdains ever again to dip his pen in Prose. Adieu, ye splendid theories! Farewell, dreams of political justice! Lawsuits, where I was counsel for Archbishop Fenelon versus my own mother, in the famous fire cause!” Whereas the Whig counterpart to Dr Johnson, Samuel Parr, strove not to mock, but to refute Godwin in his 1801 Spital Sermon:
Probably, if the appeal were made to the common sense and common experience of mankind, the circumstance that they are mine would, even in the case supposed by our philosopher, be of great consequence. But what if a father were neither a fool nor a profligate, would it then be of consequence that he was mine? Would the remembrance of his relation to me be no cause of endearment, no incitement to acts of beneficence towards him? I believe that Aristotle would have laid much greater stress upon the pronoun “my”, δύο γάρ ἐστιν ἃ μάλιστα ποιεῖ κήδεσθαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ φιλεῖν, τό τε ἴδιον καὶ τὸ ἀγαπητόν [“for there are two things that most cause men to care for and to love each other, the sense of ownership and the sense of preciousness”, in Politics 2.1262b].
Parr cited Aristotle’s turn of phrase, ἀγαπητὸν γὰρ ἀφῄρηται, referring in Rhetoric 1.7.41 to the eye, destroyed in him who had only one, in support of his reading of ἀγαπητὸν as unicum, atque adeo carum, unique, and therefore precious. He concluded: “The pronoun my, I believe, will always be found to have great weight, both in the sentiments and the duties of mankind.” His ensuing refusal to admit the possibility of even wishing well for those with whom we are not connected, elicited a sneer from fellow divine Sydney Smith, for passing off the desire for general good as “a pardonable weakness, rather than a fundamental principle of ethics”.


Samuel Parr, George Clarke fecit 1825, William Skelton delineavit et sculpsit

In 1981, Bernard Williams advanced a different objection to the impersonal nature of moral systems by arguing for a limit to the idea of fairness and impartiality. Indeed, he suggested the justification of warranted partiality would be undermined by an appeal to impartial principles. To specify some such principle as to why and when is would be permissible to show partiality, is to undermine the reality of oneself as a being who qualifies as moral in virtue of his relations with his likes. The agent’s commitment to this abstraction as a guide to action would count as a “thought too many”. Postulating an agent having to choose one of two people to rescue from some catastrophe, and choosing to rescue his wife, Williams speculates that “it might have been hoped by some people (for instance, by his wife) that his motivating thought, fully spelled out, would be the thought that it was his wife, not that it was his wife and that in situations of this kind it is permissible to save one’s wife”. The pretense of impartial morality system discredits the agent’s rescue of his wife by belying its correct justification through a misbegotten insistence on the impersonal and impartial standards of morality that turns a blind eye to the role played in the agent’s life by the beneficiary of his aid. In general, Williams treats the notions that confer meaning on one’s life as more fundamental and more relevant to warranting his action than mere moral obligation. Thus he recapitulates Aristotle’s identification of two things that most cause men to care for and to love each other, the sense of ownership and the sense of preciousness.

Williams’ thought experiment admits of extrapolation to an agent’s preference singling out one nation among the rest by way of the patriotic thought that it is his motherland, or one community among the rest by way of the tribal thought that it is his people. In the study that follows I intend to investigate the bounds of moral and political legitimacy in such discrimination. I begin with racism, a term of disparagement of the utmost relevance to present day moral and political discourses.

As a Tunisian Jew, adoptive Francophone native speaker of Judeo-Arabic, an early supporter of anti-colonialism exiled from his homeland after its attainment of independence, Albert Memmi seems well qualified to define racism:
Le racisme est la valorisation, généralisée et définitive, de différences, réelles ou imaginaires, au profit de l’accusateur et au détriment de sa victime, afin de justifier ses privilèges ou son agression.
Racism is the valorization, generalized and definitive, of differences, real or imagined, to the advantage of the accuser and to the detriment of his victim, in order to justify his privileges or his aggression.
— Albert Memmi, L’Homme dominé; le Noir, le colonisé, le prolétaire, le Juif, la femme, le domestique, le racisme, Gallimard, 1968, p. 203
In a later work, Memmi continues:
L’analyse de l’attitude raciste y révèle quatre éléments importants :
1. Insister sur des différences, réelles ou imaginaires entre le raciste et sa victime.
2. Valoriser ces différences, au profit du raciste, et au détriment de sa victime.
3. S’efforcer de les porter à l’absolu, en les généralisant et en affirmant qu’elles soient définitives.
4. Légitimer une agression, ou un privilège, effectif ou éventuel.
The analysis of a racist attitude reveals four important elements:
1. Insisting on differences, real or imaginary between the racist and his victim.
2. Valorizing these differences in favor of the racist and at the expense of his victim.
3. Attempting to bring them to absolute terms, by generalizing them and claiming that they are definitive.
4. Legitimating actual or eventual aggression, or privilege.
— Albert Memmi, Le Racisme: description, définition, traitement, Paris: Gallimard, 1982, p. 159
My task is to identify real or imaginary differences that legitimate the exercise of aggression or the bestowal of privilege in private relations within a liberal society.

I shall now formulate a thought experiment designed to probe the limits of impartiality being taxed by two things that most cause my readers to care for and to love each other, the sense of ownership and the sense of preciousness:
You have been castrated. The love of your life is deceased. You find yourself in the midst of a fiery blaze. Would you sacrifice a dozen viable frozen embryos created with the last of your spermatozoa and her ova, to save a five year old clone of Adolf Hitler?
Poll #2076682 Save the child clone of Adolf Hitler or your potential progeny?

Choose one to extract from a fiery blaze:

a five year old clone of Adolf Hitler;
0(0.0%)
a dozen viable frozen embryos created with the last of your spermatozoa and your late lover’s ova.
1(100.0%)

As my readers ponder the preciousness of an innocent child of questionable descent, pitted against the sense of ownership in their last chance at producing biological progeny, I propose an alternative conundrum less marked with selfish concerns:
Josef Mengele’s Antarctic lab is on fire. You stand there, holding fast to the tenet that the value of human life vests at birth. Would you (1) save the infant Hitler clone, to return him to Mengele’s upbringing, and become an accessory to Nazi genocide by letting burn a million of Jewish zygotes that the good doctor had harvested at Auschwitz; or (2) let the innocent baby burn, and reinstate the Jewish germlines?
Poll #2076683 Save the child clone of Adolf Hitler or the germlines of Holocaust victims?

Choose one:

Save the Nazi messiah.
1(50.0%)
Rescue a million unborn Jews.
1(50.0%)

I now take your leave, gentle readers, to ponder your incentives to cruelty and kindness, in excess of your general tendency to congenial or disagreeable nature, as I ring in the New Year. All the best to you and yours in 2018!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

(Leave a comment)

December 30th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 29th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 28th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 27th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 26th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 24th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 22nd, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 21st, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 20th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 19th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 18th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 17th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

December 16th, 2017
04:20 pm

[Link]

brace yourselves for a plethora of hurt feelings

Spence (Sean Bean): You ever kill anybody?
Sam (Robert De Niro): I hurt somebody’s feelings once.
Ronin, written by J.D. Zeik and Richard Weisz, a.k.a. David Mamet, and directed by John Frankenheimer, 1998

Mr. Zeleny stands in protest along Sand Hill Road in February 2012. (Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac.)


Linked herewith is Michael Zeleny’s correspondence with the City authorities of Menlo Park dated 13 November 2017 and 8 December 2017, regarding his proposed video production recording the reactions of City’s residents to his street curb disclosure that their corporate neighbor New Enterprise Associates is funding and sponsoring incestuous child rapist Min Zhu.



Tags: , , , , , , ,

(Leave a comment)

December 15th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags: , ,

(Leave a comment)

December 5th, 2017
12:00 pm

[Link]

My tweets

Tags:

(Leave a comment)

[<< Previous 30 entries]

Subrah Iyar Appreciation Society Powered by LiveJournal.com