A little over a year ago, I posted a sort of how-to for being married to a philosopher. It prompted Mark Bernstein to send along this incredibly funny letter to the editor from vol 62. of the APA Proceedings, written by his (then) wife Nancy Daley. He had this to say about the letter, " I'm biased, but I think it's the best letter ever published by the APA Proceedings."
You should read the full letter at JSTOR. But, here are a few choice excerpts:
I was in my late twenties, just finishing a Bachelor’s degree in English, when the prospect of marrying a philosopher first materialized. I recall with vivid clarity that autumn afternoon in my poetry professor’s dormered office when I announced I had finally decided to marry Mark. Without even lifting his gaze from his cluttered desk, Mr. Conner announced. "Well. You’ll never win an argument.”
This. Oh, for the love of all that's holy, this.
And lest you think philosophy is the only topic open to interminable discussion, I will mention only in passing a certain night I spent on a sofa in Princeton listening to Mark and his friend, Stewart [Stew Cohen], analyzing the apparently unforgivable syntax of a passage in the Toyota Owner’s Manual on the topic of downshifting.
A philosopher elsewhere writes with an amusing reaction to this week's melodrama:
This shit makes me want to retire.
I already don't "go out" in the philosophy blog-o-sewer, and maybe I'll stop going to conferences too.
Many of these people are not able enough to both do good philosophy and engage constantly in sanctimonious, and often quite nasty, moral police work. Many of them seem to be getting paid a lot to do mediocre scholarly work and spend 80% of their working hours on Facebook.
“We regret to announce that all 50 states are now reporting several cases of DKD” said CDC epidemiologist Mark Webber. “DKD is characterized as expressing or believing that one has vast and expert knowledge in a subject which they actually do not....”
There is currently no known cure for DKD, but scientists are hopeful with more education and isolation, it can be contained.
“We haven’t seen this level of DKD since Jenny McCarthy started spreading her vaccine causes autism bullshit” said Webber. “I fear the DKD level will continue to rise as more and more people with DKD have access to the internet, as well as there being several celebrities with the disease.”
Some say the worst part of DKD is that the carriers have no idea they are infected, nor how easily they can spread it to others.
UPDATE: Wow, 5 1/2 hours and nearly 700 votes! "Analytic metaphysics" gets people passionate! I'll let this run until tomorrow, but here's where things stand as of now: Yeah! 17% Just say "No"! 10% Prison 5% Ridicule & contempt 13% Praise & glory 11% Ignore it 23% None of the above 21%
ANOTHER: A funny note from philosopher Jon Kvanvig (Wash U/St. Louis): "I saw the new Dennett poll on your website, and you forgot to include the most obvious possibility of all: we should all refuse to teach anything by Dennett in any class from now on! Call it the Sterba option."
Clayton Littlejohn (King's College, London) wins the prize for it. He posted the following earlier today:
After considerable deliberation and reflection I've decided that it's time to go to Oxford. It wasn't an easy decision. I love London and will miss all the wonderful people I've met here.
This post was liked by more than 250 people, and elicited hundreds of congratulations (even after my warning that it might be a joke). After many hours, we learned that Dr. Littlejohn had gone to Oxford for the day to sell some rare books:
UPDATE: lovely time at Blackwells. Sold 6 books! Now I'm heading back to London (and KCL where I plan to stay for a very long time-unless they murder me).
Still to be determined: how many folks will unfriend Clayton on FB!
2. Oh, Good, Another Piece on Rawls. “Footnote 458 of A Theory of Justice has not been sufficiently explored. Buckle up for 300 pages of exploration!”
3. Splitting the Difference. “Famous philosopher A argues X. Famous philosopher B argues not-X. In this dissertation, I argue the truth is somewhere in-between.”
4. Incomprehensible Kantian Nonsense. “I’m going to argue that some policy P is justified on Kantian grounds. This argument will take 75 steps, and will read as if it’s been translated, or, rather, partially translated, from 19th century German. It will also be completely implausible, and so, to non-Kantians, will simply read like a reductio of Kant rather than a defense of P.”
I know that many readers are concerned that, after the massacre of degenerate young people in Orlando by a 2nd-Amendment-freedom-lover affiliated with ISIS, there is a real risk that normal Republicans and Christians could be affected by the proliferation of Instantaneous Laser Incineration (ILI) technology. Obviously, the Framers of the Constitution were concerned with the threat of tyranny involved in state regulation of ILI. Thomas Jefferson,, for example, wrote in 1772:
If King George could have banned ILI, the cause of the American Patriots would have been lost.
Chief Justice Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court, in the first major incineration decision after the War of Independence, concluded:
ILI weapons guarantee our liberty, as long as they aren't turned on the Supreme Court.
It is true, of course, that none of the Founding Fathers anticipated all the ways in which the "arms" protected by the 2nd Amendment might evolve. But even James Madison wrote in 1777:
There may come a time when the musket will be replaced by the mega-musket, a weapon that might not only obliterate the English army in New England, but obliterate England, and any of its allies. But that is the price of freedom. Even so, the ILI would be a step too far.
The wisdom of Jefferson and Madison should be respected, so I propose a reasonable solution to the current crisis involving the proliferation of ILIs:
(1) no members of ISIS or Al-Queda should be allowed to acquire Laser Incineration technology; and
(2) No convicted mass murderers should be allowed to acquire Laser Incineration technology.
There would, of course, be an exception for the Republicans leaders of the House and the Senate.
Every now and then, wading through the metablog pays off. I won't link, since whenever I do, it turns out that somewhere on the thread is something defamatory or otherwise outrageous (or something like that will soon appear after linking). But occasionally in reading the metablog, I do stumble on something very funny (I wish there were less ranting and raving about women and the job market, and more of the funny stuff!).
This particular metablog moment starts with reactions to this post. A note regarding terminology: on metablog, Jonathan Ichikawa is referred to, apparently, as "Itchy" and his spouse, Carrie Jenkins, as "Scratchy." Here's the highlights of the dialogue prompted by my post:
Anonymous: Surely the only way a rich woman can heal from torture by The Chicago Grinch is by purchasing a scooter.
Reply #1: or it [the e-mail about the scooter] had nothing to do with it at all, because it’s normal to send some emails that are about other topics even when something serious has happened? for fucks sake, this is ridiculous.
Reply to #1: Your trivializing this trauma is both inappropriate and problematic. This rich English lady was Grinched; she suffers Post-Grinchomatic Stress Disorder, and needs a scooter to recover.
Another Reply to #1: “something serious has happened”? She got a cranky e-mail? “for fucks sake, THAT is ridiculous”
Reply to Another Reply to #1: Look, Scratchy suffers trauma from the cranky email. And needs a scooter to recover. Who wouldn’t? Also, the cranky email was inappropriate and problematic. Horrific, even worse than losing one’s tiara.
Digging through my draft but unused posts, I found this funny one:
Last August, after I posted a link to the Illinois boycott statement organized by John Protevi, he sent me the following interesting e-mail:
From: John Protevi [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 9:30 AM
To: Leiter, Brian
Subject: Thanks for the link
Brian, many thanks for the link to the boycott pledge. Despite our differences and my own often admittedly sophomoric reactions to them, I have never hesitated in thanking you for your solidarity on many important issues, and so I’ll do so here and on Facebook and Twitter.
John does seem to have a lot of time on his hands for stuff, both important and trivial, but it's nice to know that even he is aware of his "own admittedly sophomoric" propensities.
John hasn't gotten less sophomoric in the interim, but he's at least a trooper on behalf of academic freedom!
Reader David Gordon sends along this gem of a dustjacket blurb:
Theory of Identities is essential for those who work in Laruelle studies or whose work departs from the fundamental presuppositions of non-philosophy and non-standard philosophy. Indeed, this book constitutes the most illustrative proof that "non-philosophy is a synthesis of quantum theory and Marxism." It is a testimony of the dense complexity of Laruelle's genius combining methodologically uncompromising scientific rigor and transgressiveness of a mystic's glance into what most of us would choose to avert eyes from: the point where the comfort of neurosis ceases to exist, which is also the place where neurosis necessarily always already reestablishes itself.
(Katarina Kolozova, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, Skopje)
One possibility is that Laruelle is as big a bullshitter as this blurb suggests; the other possibility is that Kolozova is the worst blurber in the history of blurbs. (Or maybe Kolozova studies with Michael Marder?)
Via Weinberg's "heap" comes this bizarre listing of philosophers with at least 1,000 followers on Twitter listed by how well their books have been selling on Amazon! I've no idea what this means; I'm guessing "nothing," though one must marvel at someone undertaking to compile this!
UPDATE; David Velleman had a funny response to my April Fools' Joke: he wanted to write instead on "Bullying, Mud-Slinging, and other Schoolyard Skills for Philosophers." That would be great! I admit he knows quite a lot about this too (this is the guy, after all, who pioneered the selective publication of other people's private e-mails), and so could do a good job, especially on bullying graduate students. Noelle McAfee, alas, took the joke less well. But I'll put a few additional comments about "Lyin' Noelle" (where did I hear that?) over here, so as not to bore normal people.
Via Anne Jacobson at FP, comes this very amusing video, prepared I gather by philosopher John Schwenkler (Florida State). The "Hitler" character this time is the Chair of the Board of Trustees who learns, to his dismay, what President Newman has done!
UPDATE: Prof. Schwenkler informs he did not prepare this video, he merely shared it. He also kindly shares another one (also not of his making).
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)