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Brains du jour... - Elf M. Sternberg
Brains du jour...
At the Forest's Edge

Simon Leys recounts an incident in a cafe. The radio was playing popular music when, suddenly, Mozart came over. "Mozart took possession of our little space with a serene authority, transforming the cafe into an antechamber of Paradise." The other people in the cafe, who until then were chatting, playing cards, or reading the newspaper, were not deaf to the radio after all. The music silenced them, they looked at each other, disconcerted. "Their disarray lasted only a few seconds: to the relief of all, one of them stood up, changed the radio station and re-established the flow of noise that was more familiar and comforting, which everyone could then properly ignore." Leys concludes:
At that moment, I was struck by an obvious fact that has never left me since: that the real philistines are not those people incapable of recognizing beauty-- they recognize it only too well, with a flair as infallible as that of the subtlest aesthete, but only to pounce on it and smother it before it can take root in their universal empire of ugliness.
I have a suspicion that somewhere between Simon Leys and Ayn Rand lies an important truth about art. I also suspect that that truth can be appreciated without having to jettison the insights of Picasso and Pollack.

The essay is about much more than just art; it's about how we all verge on barbarity, and how little it takes to push us there. But Leys' insight into the human willingness to drag down those who are more elite has stuck with me since I read it.

Bush Administration seeking tinfoil hat status in Iraq

With little U.S. presence in the south, and British forces in Basra confined to an air base outside the city, one administration official said that "we can't quite decipher" what is going on. It's a question, he said, of "who's got the best conspiracy" theory about why Maliki decided to act now. [Emphasis mine]

"Sorry you're in jail. Get out soon."

Greeting cards for inmates. How about "Rot forever, you bastard, for the trauma you caused me and my family?"

Saudi King calls for Jews, Christians, and Muslims to unite against secularism.

See yesterday's lesson about faith.

Christian news outlet notes drop in divorce rates.

While this is excellent news, does anyone over there realize that this is happening at the same time we're curing more STDs than ever before and giving gays the right to marry and adopt?

Indiana Law may require all bookstores to register as a "business that sells sexually explicit material."

Yeah, that's not thinking things through too clearly. Reminds me of the law some fool tried to pass in Georgia last year banning libraries from carrying any book that happened to discuss homosexuality. No Greek history for you!

The citizens of Honesdale, PA, are ill-served by its school district

"We don't teach evolution as 'this is the definitive way it happened.' We teach it as the current scientific theory. Like global warming, we teach it as prevailing science. We do not promote one over the other," said district superintendent Thomas Jenkins

An Iraqi University Astronomer argues that the Earth is Flat because the Quran says so.

I saw this about a month ago on MEMRI and thought it was so damn insane I just couldn't believe it. But apparently it's come around again. I love the part where the physicist holds up a book with pictures from satellites, and asks to know why we see ships come "over" the horizon:
When you stand on the beach and look into the distance, everything you see is in the visible distance. In the blurred distance, you cannot see a thing. Later on as the ship gets closer to the shore or the harbor, you see the upper part. How do you see it? No doctor has succeeded in understanding how the eye works.
This guy supposedly has a university degree! We invaded this country... why?

Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Avantasia, Serpents in Paradise

1 comment or Leave a comment
featheredfrog From: featheredfrog Date: March 28th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
We invaded this country... why?

We want the oil.
1 comment or Leave a comment