28 January 2010

More or Less Real

Filed under: Culture, Ktismata, Psychology — ktismatics @ 10:57 am

From this interview with Graham Harman:

“My theory is that the troll is simply the predictable excrescence or repellent underside of an era of philosophy that values critique far too highly. Even university administrators praise philosophy mostly because it teaches “critical thinking” skills. In short, it is believed that philosophy teaches us to be less gullible, to believe in quantitatively fewer things, to stand at a transcendent distance from any particular personal commitment. The mission of philosophy is to debunk and tear down and to say: “no, I don’t believe it.” Against this attitude, I agree with Latour’s maxim that the point of thinking is to make things more real, not less.”

I resonate strongly with Graham’s creative Gulliver who finds himself continuously pestered and held down by the swarm of little Negative Nancies. The question is this: do I claim to be discovering something about already-existing reality, or am I trying “to make things more real”? I certainly get bogged down while drafting fiction if I have to worry about continuity and consistency of details: that’s what editing is for. If I’m designing a new artifact or service, I work on the general architecture first before getting into the detailed engineering and construction and debugging. On the other hand, if I’m doing science, the details of the real don’t just constrain me; they shape the discipline. My job as scientific realist is to anticipate “the critique from nowhere,” aka “the Null Hypothesis,” in order to demonstrate empirically the critique’s inadequacy in accounting for the way things really are. Scientists aren’t trying to make things “less real;” they’re trying to get a view of reality that’s less distorted by error and illusion and bias.



  1. The question is this: do I claim to be discovering something about already-existing reality, or am I trying “to make things more real”?

    Nail on the head. I’ve also heard statements like, “The idea is to multiply objects, not reduce them”. Fine. But — why? Philosophy needs to be honest about its motivations. It also needs to justify its motivations.

    Honestly, I think Harman has a point. There is a way of approaching philosophy that is critical rather than creative, and there is an imbalance between the two sides — roughly, that the creative side can “live without” the critical side, but not vice-versa. There is such a thing as criticism that becomes masturbatory and stops pursuing answers. It loses sight of its value to the creative side (pushing it to greater achievements).

    But I don’t think the issue for Harman is really about criticism as such. It’s pretty obvious that without criticism and dialectic, philosophy becomes a piss-poor thing.


    Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 11:44 am

    • roughly, that the creative side can “live without” the critical side, but not vice-versa.

      No, it can’t live without it, since ‘without criticism and dialectic, philosophy becomes a piss-poor thing’, so you already complicated it by saying that.

      But that’s well-known. The ‘creative side’ just has to be the dominant one, the ‘critical side’ is just for polishing and crafting and getting rid of the pure shit (if shit is pure, and I’m sure it has been, though not frequently.)

      Mainly, philosophy’s ‘creative side’ can’t do without the ‘critical side’ any more than good can do without evil–at least not till you go to heaven. It’s all right to have an evil-free heaven, because it’s already bad enough. But just try to do it on earth (including such bloodless and fleshless affairs like philosophy) and you’ll find yourself slipping toward malicious things like Creationism and other Intelligent Design predecessros and spinoffs, although you might find yourself getting a position in a previously notorious, however now living up to its ‘banal commercial reputation’, UK university. This has happened, and reports were out as recently as Tuesday regarding such scandals. In these cases, you find a big, shapeless spirituality, and such tonnages of New Age Shit that you completely lose sight of the fact that science doesn’t say everything (the very fact that philosophy has found out it wants to be ‘scientific’ has proved at least that; that it’s usually not very arts-oriented (except when you get Adorno, often called a ‘sociologist’, but what do I care about that, and Heidegger’s interesting book on the Work of Art, where he snootily refuses to discusses anything but ‘great art’, viz.’, Van Gogh’s Chinese Peasant Woman Shoes and Greek statues. This last worked better, somehow, than all of Adorno’s ‘negative-nancying’ about the ‘light popular cinema’ and his stupid critiques of jazz.


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 28 January 2010 @ 12:03 pm

      • Quantity: You’re right. I was trying to say that it can live without criticism if it wanted to live as a piss-poor thing. Without the creative side, criticism has nothing at all to eat. The creative side often has a superior attitude problem because of the perceived imbalance that is, in the end, only partly real. The message is: criticism is there to remind you that just making shit up isn’t going to cut it.


        Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 12:18 pm

  2. That last part is good, because literally all human endeavour must become more and more scientific, IF the word ‘scientific’ means more than ‘just science’, and really does mean the ‘most real’ or ‘the most truthful’. In that sense, isn’t philosophy going to have to become ‘science’ if all you have to say is ‘no, I don’t believe it’. Of course, is incorrect all the time, it becomes outmoded just like any other domain, just more slowly. I still like ‘no, I don’t believe it’, because that is still often true. But I can see why the philosophers are going to need to go the way of science and business if they are going to stay in the latter.

    I do not agree, however, that the ‘negative nancies’ are not good for someone like Harman, they have surely stretched and developed his power of thinking so that he has no choice but to start with finite objects and end up with something at least as up-to-date in terms of SCIENCE as ‘2001: A Space Odyasey’. Remember the way Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea got along so well up there in the stratosphere, threatened only by HAL? And that divine homosexual moment in which they hid themselves together, all clothed in gym shorts I believe, and neither sodomized nor fellated nor even polluted, but discussed quietly and without hysteria the ‘HAL factor’? This was admirable, and leads directly and ineluctably to “butch Keir Dullea Metrosexual sks like-minded Gary Lockwood Clone for quiet nights of space-food tubes w/screens simulating candlelight as in dining. Warm sharing and opera simulcasts enjoyed together a PLUS. No fats, fems or negative nancies or nells…”


    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 28 January 2010 @ 11:52 am

  3. It should also be mentioned that on his blog, Harman has expressed that he does not personally see a lot of value in philosophical discussion and debate (the sitting at a bar or coffee shop kind). For me, discussions of this sort are invaluable as sources of new ideas and thoughts, so I have trouble relating to Harman’s perspective. It is as though he sees the creative side as being an almost completely “internal” process. This puts some constraints on what personal interaction can do — it’s more about debate, argument and rhetoric than about synthesis, synergy, etc.

    If Kevin were around, he might say that I look at things this way because philosophy is more about “play” for me than about finding answers.


    Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 11:56 am

  4. In that sense, isn’t philosophy going to have to become ’science’ if all you have to say is ‘no, I don’t believe it’

    Quantity – I think that’s a great point, and it raises some good questions too. I can say “No, I don’t believe it” to mathematics, but it amounts to saying either “I reject your axioms” or “I reject formal logic as a way of reaching valid conclusions” (which is essentially an unstated axiom). One critical way to read Harman (or any philosophy, really) is to start out by accepting what is presumed or axiomatic “for the sake of discussion”. The problem for Harman (and what the Nancies are pushing him toward) is to be more explicit about what’s presumed and why so that a discussion can even take place.


    Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 12:11 pm

    • Also, I take it that this “sake of discussion” approach is what Levi means when he talks about “charitable reading”. If so, I don’t think it’s too much to ask. The assumption of good faith (even the Radical Assumption of Good Faith™) has something to say for it.


      Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 1:34 pm

  5. I am incapable of accepting such an apology, because made in bad faith, and not even remedied by such fugues as ‘similarly singular way of writing’ or ‘similarly striking way of writing’, which means you are not a possibility for the Gary Lockwood Clone, although I admit ‘similar way of writing’ has that ‘admirably understated’ sound to it, appropriate to outer space or even on ‘Calypso’ with Cousteau (although they’d eat lobster), but this may belie a tendency to excitability which office work such as yours tries to suppress…


    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 28 January 2010 @ 12:38 pm

    • Thanks, John, although in this case, I really didn’t mind. You can delete my singular response if you want, which I was writing while you got the Tea Service ready in a most admirable way.


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 28 January 2010 @ 12:40 pm

    • [Editorial note: I already corrected the identification error made by Asher to which Quantity alludes in this comment, but I think the “eating lobster” rejoinder is lovely even though disjointed from the original referent.]


      Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 12:45 pm

    • Tea is just the thing for a dreary foggy frigid day like today. I think I’ll go make myself a cappuccino.


      Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 12:47 pm

    • The apology was in good faith. I submit in evidence that I requested John to correct it (of course, that doesn’t cover some of the more bizarre possible motivations, but it’s the best I can do).

      I don’t think “singular” or “striking” would have helped. There are too many ways of taking those descriptions as insults, if one is motivated to be insulted. I wouldn’t want to presume that you’re motivated to be insulted, but it’s a possibility.

      I strive for “understated” — for many reasons not necessarily related to excitability.


      Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 1:27 pm

      • But Ray Fuller was right about the breast thing — so maybe I just don’t understand myself as well as I think.


        Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 1:43 pm

      • Perhaps you can refresh my memory about the breast thing, Asher. Meanwhile I’m preparing reasoned rejoinders to substantive comments deposited earlier on this thread.


        Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 1:47 pm

      • It was on an old thread about psychoanalytic theory, I think. Let me look that up.

        Yes, it was the “Is Psychoanalysis Empirically Supported?” post. Dejan had a theory about preference for large breasts which was related to the original topic in a way that is difficult to specify. Ray Fuller replied that he had me pegged for someone who would not follow the norm in this regard.


        Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 2:02 pm

      • Also, I think that breast preferences are a substantive topic of conversation, and I will work to find a way to relate it to the issue of philosophical trollism.


        Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 2:12 pm

      • Also, I think that disjointed lobsters are the best kind.


        Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  6. On recommendation from Mikhail I have secured from the library the book Speculative Philosophy by Verene. I’ve read maybe 5 pages so I can’t give a useful report, but Verene begins by citing Kant’s preface to the Critique of Pure Reason” “Our age is, in especial degree, the age of criticism, and to criticism everything must submit.” I don’t know whether Kant regarded the age of criticism as a good or a bad thing, but since his book begins with the word “Critique” I presume he agreed to play the game at least to some degree. At the same time, Verene upholds Kant as a speculative philosopher, so what gives?

    I can pick out a few sentence of relevance from the first few pages of Verene’s book that seem relevant:

    “Critical thinking is driven by a fear of error. It is unable to complete its own process because there is always more to criticize… As criticism, philosophy is always threatened by fatigue.”

    “The inner form of the speculative sentence… continually expands upon itself, offering greater and greater spheres of meaning, approaching the grasp of the whole of things. The product of this process is the True grasped as the whole. It is grasped in a grand narration that does not aim at sorting out true from false assertions but aims at showing how all assertions are both partially true and partially false… the speculative sentence lets us put the world together in thought.”

    “To speculate is not to speak in a fanciful way or to think in an unfounded way apart from experience. To speculate, as a way to embody the love of wisdom that distinguishes philosophy, is to attempt to mediate and narrate the whole of things in a way that satisfies reason in its connections with sense, imagination, and memory. Philosophy pursued as speculation excludes neither reflection nor analysis. Both of these are required in speculative reasoning. But speculation also requires a willingness to risk imperfection.”

    “Speculation captures in thought the inner life of the object. To speculate is to follow in language the inner movements of consciousness, to narrate the inner life of the object.”

    “…true philosophy is narrative in form, not argumentative. The narrative is achieved by the speculative sentence, not critical reflection. Truth can never be established by argument because for every argument there is an equally good counter-argument.”

    I don’t know if all philosophers subscribe to this idea of the speculative, but it sure sounds grand to me. It grasps the Whole, reveals the True, puts the world together in Thought. Graham seems to uphold this speculative high ideal, separated vertically as an activity from lower-level critique.


    Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 2:27 pm

    • It’s “correlationism” that puts the speculative enterprise into question. You can have your Whole and Real and True, but always and only in thought.

      And Speculative Realism defines itself by being critical of “critical” correlationism.

      The resulting fireworks are an Ouroborialis.


      Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 2:38 pm

    • The speculative does sound like a project of correlationist idealism; maybe that’s why Graham and Levi want to disassociate themselves from the paradox or oxymoron entailed in the term speculative realism.



      Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 2:53 pm

      • It would help if I could spell. Ouroborealis = the spectacle of something eating itself (a portmanteau of “Ouroboros” and “Aurora Borealis”).


        Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 3:06 pm

  7. I just wrote a comment and it went away because the wireless went down at the coffee shop where I live. So here’s the condensed version:

    a) critics are trolls = bullshit, it’s a way to demonize critique and critics, it’s not new and it’s not useful, hate critics if you want, don’t pretend you can do without them.

    b) philosopher as a solitary genius writing away his books in his study = Romantic bullshit, never happened before, will never happen, regardless of all that propaganda aka “advice on how to write” (aka “Just do it like I do it”)

    c) trolls are out to get me/us = childish bullshit (“mommy, there’s a monster under my bed”), no one cares and wishes Harman “to fail” – philosophical is personal: you’re either with Harman all the way (with allowable deviance a la Shaviro) or you are his enemy (cf. Paul Ennis’ sad fate) – there’s no neutral third position. Love it or leave it, if you’re not leaving, you’re secretly loving etc etc.


    Comment by Mikhail Emelianov — 28 January 2010 @ 2:30 pm

  8. Clearly the whole Troll conflict isn’t just a matter of creation versus discovery or speculation versus critique. Personalities clash, feelings are hurt, people act like bigger assholes than they might otherwise be. I’m probably regarded as an ally of the Trolls inasmuch as I condemn the dehumanizing and demonizing rhetoric so often employed against them (us?) by the “Bullies.” However, I find that practically the only time the philosophical Trolls comment here is when I write about the Bullies, and the only time the Bullies comment here (even more rare) is when I write about themselves. The recently-departed Kvond once accused me of writing posts like this one in order to boost readership for the blog. I don’t think that’s the case (at least not consciously); nevertheless, posts like this do draw more readers and commenters than anything I might write about realism or social constructivism or science or any of the other substantive topics on which the philosophical Trolls and Bullies disagree intellectually. I used to feel slighted, but no more, for I too have transcended commmentary and ascended into the rarified air where pure creation is wrought by the mighty Titans of Thought!

    I just downloaded a review of Harman’s book on Latour referenced by someone on your blog, Mikhail, but since I’ve only read part of the book in question and none of Latour I’ll probably not have anything substantive to say about it.


    Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  9. Wait, am I a Troll or a Bully?

    I read that review, but since I haven’t read the book, I don’t know how accurately it represents the book’s problems. I once had a conversation with an old friend who confided that he read some Harman before Harman started blogging and thought it was okay, but now he cannot read him anymore, because he knows more about the author. Now, how does one react to this? On the one hand, we all read biographies, we all want to know who was the person behind the books – and Harman’s own argument is that it is important to keep philosopher and his/her philosophy together. On the other hand, biographical data is only good when it helps us LOVE the author and we are not allowed to use any of the biographical data to criticize the argument (it’s ad hominem and so on). I find this strange, don’t you?

    So I creatively came up with the following characterization of Harman’s “troll theory” – everyone back the fuck off from MY idea – I think it’s a preventive ad hominem strike (a la George W. Bush and The Terrorists). That is to say, you strike your critics before they strike you by identifying a fundamental flaw in their being, not their doing (being a troll as being-critical): “no matter what you say, you are always already a troll; you are not a troll because you snark from nowhere, you snark from nowhere because you are a troll, it’s part of your being, you are a toxic person – now, speak!”


    Comment by Mikhail Emelianov — 28 January 2010 @ 3:03 pm

  10. Definitely a troll.

    From Zagorin’s review of Harman’s Prince of Networks and his confrontational rhetoric: “while Harman’s statement to the critics is certainly thought-provoking, one might suggest that just as there are those in the war on terror who are neither “with us [n]or against us” there may be many critics of this book who neither wish it preeminence nor marginalization.”


    Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 3:19 pm

  11. “I don’t think “singular” or “striking” would have helped. There are too many ways of taking those descriptions as insults, if one is motivated to be insulted. I wouldn’t want to presume that you’re motivated to be insulted, but it’s a possibility.”

    I already told you it would have helped. If you were making a sincere apology, it’s not up to you to decide what ‘wouldn’t have helped’ when the person being apologized to has made it explicit that it would. This is not something you can argue with, unless you just want to make another peevish rejoinder. As it is, I’d certainly use ‘poesie that is not singular’ and ‘not striking’ were I ever to find any poems, say those that use an inordinate amount of proper names to clunky effect–giving to poetry that ‘ineffably over-erudite atmosphere’ that Susan Sontag was so good while at least knowing she ought to forget poetry–that qualified for this description, as of yet I haven’t seen one.

    The best thing to do would have not been to ‘apologize’ at all, as I had already made it clear that it ‘hadn’t bothered me this time’ and John had taken care of it in his own way. Or is that too much logic there, too much of a stretch for you, doesn’t leave it as a context that involves someone else (and ultimately a third), but which you alone can determine.


    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 28 January 2010 @ 3:26 pm

    • I meant that it wouldn’t have helped me to get across the point. There are two possibilies: I was right about your identity or I was wrong. If I was wrong, saying “singular” or “striking” would have been ironic. If I was right, then it goes without saying that your style is singular and striking because it allowed me to correctly “identify” you. You did say “not even remedied by such fugues”, which implies to me that it wouldn’t have helped enough for you to accept the apology. But I do accept your judgement about what would help you and what wouldn’t.

      I won’t compound the mistake by apologizing again.

      Sorry you don’t like my poetry.


      Comment by Asher Kay — 28 January 2010 @ 3:44 pm

      • It’s probably just from getting involved with all these over-wrought, intricate arguments, where simplicity of even the most everyday and sincere kind is lost, because rightly often suspect, especially on the internet. You should have obviously assumed that that was my identity, and you did, because of course it was patently obvious. But you can work out these things; I’ve noticed that these arguments which John is good at moderating, that involve you, Sinthome, Mikhail, and I suppose kvond in the past, do get very involved in the intricate beyond a point which I find productive, but then I wouldn’t know, since I just can’t sustain those types of arguments.

        You might have some talent, but that overuse of proper names is definitely something you have to watch out for. I wrote a long one in 1990 that I consider one of my worst pieces in some ways, except it has one section without all the names that is good. There’s another one, which literally is about Big Literary Names, from the 1998 35th Anniversary of the NYReview of Books, and amusingly, Sontag was one of the readers–she was on ‘High Prietess’ reading her own essay about Walter Benjamin that night. And this poem about that event is a true piece of shit, admired only by one extremely effete friend who is now dead (but not because of that.)

        Don’t take offense, I only read one or two, just consider the possibility that two many proper names and literary allusions specified by name are not, at least IMO, all that poetic in the sense I understand the word.

        But yes, PLEASE, don’t apologize again, I don’t like apologies from people who haven’t done anything worth apologizing for, and I never get them from those who have hacked the emails and phone numbers of my tricks.


        Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 28 January 2010 @ 3:55 pm

      • No offense at all. I’ll probably never be much of a poet. I’m too sentimentalist with it. Of course, having as a direct relative the guy who wrote “I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree”, the schmaltziness is probably in my blood. I’ve had better luck with fiction.


        Comment by Asher Kay — 29 January 2010 @ 7:22 pm

  12. ‘I think I’ll go make myself a cappuccino.’

    Yes, in my perorations about ‘natural and artificial prostheses’, it didn’t occur to me that I might as well do a civic, if off-topic, duty sort of thing: If you are using your Prop-style Cappucino maker, you may well drink enough coffee to have also been slightly attracted to ‘THE TEETH_WHITENING SECRET YOUR DENTIST DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT’. It comes on to your account authorized as TEETHRAYKIT, and I’ve managed to pull it off the way the ‘New York Female Receesion-Savvy Advertiser’ said, but not without great bullying and that superb supplement for January, talking to Retail Shysters numerous times by phone–nothing beats that unless you can go to Bloomingdale’s tie department, and watch the nickel-and-diming in the clerical offices. Even the bank almost seemed to have operatives within it for the merchant. Three of them said I should file a dispute because the terms were unclear (they were flatly unclear and purposely misleading, but you weren’t even really supposed to pay attention to them), and a fourth from the same bank (and in the same room, I actually even knew where they were physically because they told me) said YOU HAVE NO DISPUTE RIGHTS. Of course, this may be to a degree true, because the bank stood to make miniscule profit from the charge were my dispute to fail or not be filed. I imagine they often discourage filing disputes for that reason.

    The ‘malignant prosthesis’ was the Membership Fee which I tried to cancel within the time frame of the Terms & Conditions. When they realized that I was literally on the phone with them doing this within the time frame, they changed the time frame on the spot, not missing a beat. This the bank determined fell under their clause ‘We reserve the right to change the Terms & Conditions without giving any notice to the customer’, which, of course, renders all the seemingly real T & C worthless according to Merchant convenience.

    This was fun, especially since they said that, under no circumstances were they going to cancel the membership and refund me the money, they also followed this up with ‘Now is there anything else I can help you with?’ which I take to mean ‘You’ll obviously be ordering more products at reduced prices from us since your dispute claim are NOT going to work’. I loved it, and the reps told me how they were ‘fine, I’m just paid by the hour’.

    So, although my teeth and gums I’ve kept in good shape by regular visits, coffee and light smoking have made me want to whiten my teeth, and $600 for bleaching is too much. There’s another product from another teeth whitener you also order, but they will cancel if you call them. I’ll let you know by email, although your teeth may be pristine. I can’t write the company names here, because my troll not only hacks my tricks email and phone numbers, but also my computer and tried to get into the one account he knew about. This is not great, but I’ll let you know if TEETHRAYKIT works. It doesn’t even the fuck give you instructions, or even identify itself as the company who sent it inside, but we’ll see.

    I hope it will be a valuable prosthesis that will improve my quality of life life-style…


    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 28 January 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  13. I am now going to prepare a key lime pie, using ordinary limes. Perhaps the acid in the limes will exert some bleaching power; however, the sugar probably counteracts the effect. Also, acid probably wears off the enamel, so even the whitening is harmful. Though I smoke not at all now, for awhile I went through a pack a day, which surely has had lasting effects on tooth color. A small piece of an upper back tooth chipped off earlier this week, so I must have it repaired next week. I’ll be trying out a new dentist since the old one is too surly in his professionalism, despite the fact that he co-hosted a radio comedy show in his younger days.


    Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  14. And the pie is excellent: a bit less tart than the last one I made, also a bit less lime zest, with more butter in the graham cracker crust giving it a nearly crispy integrity.


    Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 8:05 pm

  15. I should try to make one of these, because I have found that the ones in restaurants are rarely good, I’m not sure why. I’ve had only one that was really sensational, and that place had the worst service, bar none, of rude waiters, that I’ve ever been to.

    But I am actually going to start on my TRIAL OFFER right away, I can’t even fucking believe it this is so funny. Over 3 years ago, a moderator of the ballet board told me she was going to take me to see Peter Martins’s version of ‘Swan Lake’, because she said it’s so bad ‘you have to see it to believe it’. And she just wrote me and remembered after all these years. So I am going to try to whiten my goddam teeth for our date! NYCBallet not the great thing they were back in the golden years when G. Balanchine still alive, but they’ve got one big star ballerina, Ashley Bouder, I’ll try to see her. What a hoot!

    Oh yes, Grahams do make good crusts, I have used them a good bit. If it’s not trouble, email me your recipe. I’d like to try it in a few weeks. I bet it’s much better if you make it yourself.


    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 28 January 2010 @ 8:34 pm

  16. The recipe is here. The first time I made this pie I cut back on the butter for the crust, which was a small mistake. I think the pies sold at restaurants aren’t limey enough, though it can be overdone. I suggest tasting the mix after 2 limes before adding a 3rd. The zest adds flavor to be sure, and is rarely found in the store-bought pies because many people don’t like the slight bitterness or the texture. 2 limes’ worth of zest is plenty. The doneness test is unnecessary: just take it out after the allotted cooking time.

    TEETHRAYKIT sounds like a bad translation from the Japanese: I hope discernible results are achieved in time for the ballet.


    Comment by john doyle — 28 January 2010 @ 9:43 pm

    • Thanks, I’m even going to do it Monday, we’ll drink a toast to you! I did that this week with our Yorkshire Pudding, toasting Brian Shaw of Royal Ballet, the best Bluebird from Sleeping Beauty I ever have seen (the Bluebird Prince has these ‘winged hands’ that always have to flutter, but I’ve been told that this is much harder than it looks, and Shaw keeps them going magically, his hands whir like hummingbirds), and they had told me that a lot of the best RB dancers came from Yorkshire.

      I think the most imnportant rule-of-thumb in all cookery is never to skimp on butter, Julia agrees with me. Cut down on fats and carbs and don’t snack (I never do anymore, and it works), wait to eat till you’re hungry (I can’t believe the way people don’t). I’m very extreme about the butter, and sometimes even double the amount for a cake, and tons for a roast chicken.


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 28 January 2010 @ 11:02 pm

  17. The results from butter-skimping were palatable but not worth the caloric saving. I don’t bake often, and most of the things I cook I do without a recipe. I baked wheat bread over the weekend, and mistakenly used half a cup of milk and a cup of water rather than vice versa. The results of that error were undetectable.


    Comment by john doyle — 29 January 2010 @ 9:18 am

  18. I’m not sure why I’m jumping into this discussion because at bottom I don’t lose sleep over such things. However, I’m perplexed.

    Yet, as far as Latour’s insistence on “making things more real, not less,” I’ll be honest, I’m just not sure what this means or well, to put it better: why is this so interesting? On the one hand, I get it, as an attempt to turn one’s back on the ideological, textual and cultural forms of critique prevalent over the last 30 years or so. However, this critique of well, critique, I take it, seems interesting to people because it insists upon adding to the reality of whatever we have under our noses and not, I don’t know, appealing to transcendental structures/possibility of knowing. Um, ok. Hasn’t phenomenology done this? Is this an ignorant question? Perhaps I haven’t read enough Latour…(but I’m pretty sure the word “correlationism” will be invoked as a response to my question by someone).

    As for philosophical methodology, or better, the business of philosophy perhaps Wittgenstein was right (see this: http://pervegalit.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/philosophy-and-rotten-metatheory/)


    Comment by Shahar Ozeri — 29 January 2010 @ 10:43 am

  19. Anomalously, Shahar, your link about “rotten metatheory” actually connects to a 2007 Mikhail post about Thanksgiving. But yes of course, the “correlationism” shibboleth must be invoked at once. Plus of course when you start talking about the “possibility of knowing” we must insist once again on maintaining the ontology-epistemology distinction and deciding in favor of the former. Thus, “making more real” cannot be reduced to “knowing more real,” and so on.


    Comment by john doyle — 29 January 2010 @ 10:57 am

  20. Meh. I guess I’ll never know why Latour’s dictum is so interesting…


    Comment by Shahar Ozeri — 29 January 2010 @ 11:20 am

  21. I’m generally in favor of more reality rather than less, if we include human-made additions to what’s already there as “real.” I’m sure the “more rather than less” formula is a shot not just at the critical idealists but also at the eliminativists, who so prominently occupy one of the other branches of the speculative realism fourfold.


    Comment by john doyle — 29 January 2010 @ 11:47 am

  22. Asher (no more Reply Room)–“I’ll probably never be much of a poet. I’m too sentimentalist with it. Of course, having as a direct relative the guy who wrote “I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree”, the schmaltziness is probably in my blood. I’ve had better luck with fiction.”

    I’m not good at poetry per se, poetics is something else. I woudn’t say I’m good at fiction per se either, but I’m a good poetic, musical writer. I write some kind of fiction that isn’t quite fiction that does have poetics in it, I know they are, because found with such difficulty. Somone once told a major fiction writer ‘you don’t write fiction, it’s all reportage’. The writer said ‘I just write what I write’, and it’s generally thought excellent. That’s all anybody can do. Dominic’s blog is called Poetix, but he writes a lot of poetry on there which has the same kind of non-poetic elements in it (to my mind) that I find too many proper names and obvious ideological and political statements woven into what would be better suited to another form. That’s because I like what Racine was talking about, I wrote this elsewhere; “There was something either Racine himself wrote or a Racine scholar wrote, and the above made me recall it, although I cannot quote it. It had to do with ‘being about God’ and/or ‘what God needs’, and that was not to necessarily be talking about God, but to be doing the work that would not exist without human intervention. That sounds like ‘God couldn’t do it’, but it’s more like ‘God doesn’t do those labours Himself’, or that was part of the gist of it.” Also, and I’ve got this direct quote, about Martha Graham: “At one press conference, with her Company bright and shiny for the occasion, she was asked, “Why are there no dances in your Company in which the subject is universal brotherhood?” Graham paused for only a moment before making her grave reply: “There are no dances in my Company in which that is not the subject. I could not do a single step if I did not believe in brotherhood. But I am not a propagandist. I don’t need to make dances that say [emphasis mine] they are about brotherhood. All of my dances are.”


    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 29 January 2010 @ 9:55 pm

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