Here or Nowhere

The title is from Horace's Epistulae (1.17). It is a contested poem - Fraenkel thought it entirely ought of character for Horace, calling it "upsetting". It is definitely jolting; perhaps it is better to avoid any final conclusions. What I will share here is my understanding of it in recent times.
There are so many things I like about this poem, not least how it begins by the offering of teaching from one who yet "has much to learn". I like how this can be seen to compliment Seneca's disendo discimus - and other approaches to pedagogy that I am writing about in my book.
What is so shocking about the poem is that Horace criticises Diogenes' refusal to interact with the rich as being a form of excess: showing Aristippus as superior, for he can wear rags, as does Diogenes, albeit if circumstance requires, but he can also wear fine garb and eat fine meals. So the poem can be seen to promote parasitism (dining at the expense of the rich) over genuine friendship as the nature of the relations in this poem that are advised are of a purely worldly nature.
Stephanie McCarter's very enjoyable Horace Between Freedom and Slavery suggests that Horace in some of these epistles is the concept of the Aristotelian golden mean, which she writes goes
back to Hesiod. Wilson defines the term as 'the area between too much and too little' and as the 'opposite of excess' ... Aristippus has captured both the adaptability and the moderation that ought to be exercised in every situation.
In 1.17, "Aristippus offers a way of accommodating one's longings for public life and friendship with the great without sacrificing one's independence or consistency of character." This reminds me of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, where the Flyte mother discusses how wealth is not incompatible with the sacred (112-113).

I will be discussing this passage and these citations in my book. But what I want to write about here is the tension between friendship with the great/all the people who one can find in the world and contemplative withdrawal (the critics who do not like 1.17 feel Horace's allegiance to lie exclusively in the latter). Is Horace being sarcastic in the second part of this epistle as some say? Attacking the pursuit of profit? Or is amicitia with great men a test of virtue and modesty?
These are questions that are most relatable, and may represent tension felt from adolescence onwards: does one have a sarcastic relation to the world made by les gens du monde - and so is it the life well-lived to withdraw entirely? Or is it not necessary, foremost for oneself, one's own well-being, to be part of this potentially superficial world? To enter it, it is suggested, is a test.
The phrase "here or nowhere", where it appears in the epistle, becomes a symbol of the acceptance of the validity of participation. Because of this, I use it as my chat app motto: it is the admission that an outer face - while exposed to intricate traps (that even Diogenes could fall into, with his performance art exaggerations performed publicly) - is necessary for the holistic life.
This corresponds with Emerson's thought in "Self Reliance": "It is easy in the world to live after the  world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst  of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."
It can be seen that this tension is a timeless concern, but its implications and the shape of the trials associated with worldly life in this time in history are (as always) particular and do need especial thought and discernment (to say the least).
This is a tension that I have tried to bring forth (cf. maieutics) in my classes, in one way or another, over the years. Admission of whatever the topics of the moment are is integral to my courses, which are therefore always changing (they also change to attempt to cater to students' needs). But these aspects of the course are never the whole course, just a part of it.
And to that end, some of the links in this week's B/Logrolling section will likely end up being addressed in class (I am still finalising the syllabus).


A Letter From Hong Kong: I admit that from my distance, I did not immediately understand all of the angles of this situation, and this short piece is the best that I have seen. This passage in particular gives pause for thought:
Nor, sadly, can Hong Kong youth expect solidarity from the most militant of Western university students and faculty. They lost their taste for freedom years ago. Israel is apparently a bigger offense to their sensibilities than Communist China (or Iran). In all significant respects, these Westerners are the opposite of the young people I know. While Hong Kong students detest Communism, many of their Western counterparts embrace Marxism. While Western post-colonialists deride Western civilization, Hong Kongers wish they could have more of it. When Hong Kong students talk of a safe-space they mean a shelter from tear-gas and rubber bullets, not a refuge from offensive words. A trigger warning is not a professor’s presage of a painting by Goya; it is the sound of a revolver shot discharged skywards in the Causeway Bay night.
The site of Tim Wu, author of The Attention Merchants, with links to other articles he has written

Privacy is Power by Carissa Véliz (edited by Nigel Warburton - I am quickly becoming a fan, though have followed him for quite some time as he produces Philosophy Bytes, which has had quite a few good programs, some of which, back in the day, I used in my classes)

Who I'd like to have over at a dinner party (I have not introduced the concept for this section of B/Logrolling very well: what I mean to do here is to introduce 'content producers' [for lack of better name] whose sites are not on my static, standalone B/Logroll page):
Tim Hurst, host of WFMU's Techtonic podcast

I - Thou

Let's invoke Shelley. In his "Defence of Poetry" he wrote that learning how to feel another's pain can aid the imagination to contribute to the greatest moral good (the highest political hope being the abolition of slavery).  
I, you, they, he writes, are mere grammatical markers essentially modifications of one mind, though the practise in seeing such connections is a practise, until it becomes a habit. It "tends to abolish the course of history" - it is timeless, rooted in the unchanging aspects of humanity, in case anyone has forgotten one of the paths to immortality. Time washes away even the imperfection of authors where they fail to reach the perfection of which they write - the failure to allow for such disparity is to lose sight of one's own faults (1921: 57). 
This ability to see beauty in something other, to see its relevance, is such a vital practise. I wrote about such 'relief' a long time ago, here. "Good" poetic writing restores order to the world, based on morals, Shelley writes - that kind of romantic imagining certainly seems distant today. But on the personal level, his sentiment has its relevance.
When one might feel like a carcass being devoured by so many thoughtless vultures, the mind can move away from those gory scenes of selfishness by seeking out other practises of healing, which may not be visible in the present scenes but that can be invoked, if one knows or remembers to call on them.
So the story goes. It has (obviously?) been a rough week in these parts, but I retain awe at the classical (not just Greek, also Chinese) rejuvenating and refreshing practise of returning to the font of literature: how is that not a treasure trove?

She descends from the soapbox, to write this week's


Other recipes I have made many times this summer:
Chipotle tahini sauce a great way to snack while avoiding processed foods
To make it from scratch, I make my own hot sauce (grilling tomatoes in the oven to avoid canned ones) - this is such a good hot sauce, it is hard to believe how simple it is to make
Nice and light eggplant parm (read: real eggplant parm, not breaded)

Why I am avoiding processed foods now: Have you ever heard of "cracking"? I hadn't either until I watched this (French) documentary. Wow. The process applies to foods now. The processed foods I ate most regularly were "bio" style. But now that I know about "cracking", and how the protein factor is obtained for those foods, I am making new efforts to home cook almost everything.

Another attack on the humanities. Yet again, a very educated person treats Plato as if Nietzsche had the last word. It is so tiring how trendy it is to submit the classics to reductionist gestures. I could write many pages on this but will make one point here. As if people don't understand what reading is. We are never finished reading the classics because the way we relate to them requires relating anew from the changing present. Yes, we do suspend our judgement to attempt to 'enter' the past, but what the past will mean to us and how we receive it will always be different - this is even true from within the limited scope of a single lifetime.

Speaking of history: Understanding religion in late imperial China from Columbia University's Asia for Educators

Apropos mention of acting (Brett) in last week's post: continued consideration of acting re. the individual vs. collective. To this end: a post on Hall, Fo, and Theatrics of Role and Story though I beg to differ on how method (Stanislavsky's approach to) acting is understood. It is very much an "I-thou" type acting and requires the actor to relate, in every 'beat' of dialogue, with their role. Similarly, through this very 'real' evocation (as the actor is calling up from their memory enough emotional vocabulary to make each 'beat' happen in real time - this is very taxing for the actor, who 'relives' the script every night), the audience is brought within a realm of introspection.
"Class wars" seem to efface this dimension of reality.

Two things I am thinking about how to include more thoughtfully in my classes: ethics and new practical skills (last year, it was a business proposal, this year, I am thinking about SEO...)

Daily ethical questions 
A Framework for Character Education in Schools
Ethical storytelling:
A more thorough primer
Another good link - active version of reference links: Concordia's toolbox; Ethics pdf; the Ethics Guidebook consent framework; resource for ethical practice in digital storytelling
Interested in this for so many reasons. One of which, an educational site with the declared purpose of promoting the "good" (ethical) in education, recently published a post in which backhanded, reductionist comments were made about not one but two cultures (in all of about six or seven words, at that). As always, it is the "circuitous route" that is most likely to include not what we want to hear or what is being said - but what we are not hearing. But once you hear, as Gadamer wrote, you cannot "hear away".

Blogger I'd love to meet at a dinner party (forgot this feature last week!): writes and produces the Canadian blog The Art of Doing Stuff - it was her well-written recent post on blogging that got me thinking about introducing SEO skills to my class this year. (I ought to practise her tips myself, but ... actually, there are advantages to being less visible and to amateurism that continue to suit me.)

Real and Fake

I had no idea about just what kind of things are being copied these days - nor about the volume of fakes circling the world in shipping containers. Learning of this reminded me of a Deleuze and Krauss passage, which I reread to find just how accurately it foreshadowed this glut of 'simulacra' clogging the ocean. Of course, they were writing to 'overthrow Plato'. But my latest approach to this theory has been to see it as sci-fi: recognising a present trend and then exaggerating it to paint that picture of what would happen if things keep going - unobstructed - along their course: theory is, then, if I may be permitted a reductionist stroke, like an oversized 1980s photograph that has been blown up (not thinking of Cortázar). Remember the novelty? A zooming in, a distortion through the oversized. Us, but not us.
Anyway, here is the passage - first with the definition of "copy" vs. "simulacrum", then the passage itself. Does it not remind you of the profusion of fakes?
After that, this week's links.
Copies are secondhand possessors, well-grounded claimants, authorized by resemblance. Simulacra are like false claimants, built on a dissimilitude, implying a perversion, an essential turning away. It is in this sense that Plato divides the domain of the image-idols in two: on the one hand the iconic copies (likenesses), on the other the phantasmatic simulacra (semblances). (...)
In the overthrow of Platonism (...) The nonhierarchical work is a condensation of coexistences, a simultaneity of events. It is the triumph of the false claimant. (...) But the false claimant cannot be said to be false in relation to a supposedly true model, any more than simulation can be termed an appearance, an illusion. Simulation is the phantasm itself, that is, the effect of the operations of the simulacrum as machinery, Dionysiac machine. It is a matter of the false as power, Pseudos, in Nietzsche's sense when he speaks of the highest power of the false. The simulacrum, in rising to the surface, causes the Same and the Like, the model and the copy, to fall under the power of the false (phantasm). It renders the notion of hierarchy impossible in relation to the idea of the order of participation, the fixity of distribution, and the determination of value. It sets up the world of nomadic distributions and consecrated anarchy. Far from being a new foundation, it swallows up all foundations, it assures a universal collapse, but as a positive and joyous event, as de-founding (effondement).
Deleuze, Gilles and Rosalind Krauss. "Plato and the Simulacrum." October, Vol. 27 (Winter, 1983), pp. 45-56
Compare the passage with: Les nouveaux mercenaires du faux - Documentaire: Les faussaires ne se contentent plus d'imiter les sacs ou les polos de marque. Ils ont infiltré l'agroalimentaire avec des mayonnaises, des sodas ou des plats cuisinés d'origine douteuse. (The blurb doesn't quite capture the craziness of the overflowing of fakes it shows.)


Two more documentaries, the first on Linky: Des milliers de Français refusent l’arrivée de ce nouveau compteur dans leur foyer, et certains affirment même vivre un enfer depuis son installation. Tous craignent que cet appareil "intelligent" ne collecte toutes leurs données personnelles… (A more interesting point, only brought up in passing, is how the electricity infrastructure was built before we all started to use the internet and plug in dozens of 'extra' gadgets.)

The second on "anti-consos": Les « décroissants » : consommer moins pour vivre mieux  Les sociologues les appellent les « décroissants », en France ils sont de plus en plus nombreux à refuser de consommer toujours plus. Ils refusent la spirale de la société de consommation.

For Wittgenstein, Philosophy Had to Be as Complicated as the Knots it Unties Making Sense of Nonsense, From Bertrand Russell to the Existentialists

The American Aristotle Charles Sanders Peirce was a brilliant philosopher, mathematician and scientist. His polymathic work should be better known 

I also wanted to write about Jeremy Brett's onstage poise and gesture, perfected in Sherlock Holmes. The way he moves is like measured dancing. How you would dance if you were not actually dancing but wanted to use your body for expression. Of course, this is taught in drama, but Brett worked on his style for decades, as suggested by this early musical, The Merry Widow (what a voice he has!) His individual flair is so far removed from today's normcore: I hear that Smoky the Bear may get a new motto (from "Only you can prevent wildfires" to something with a collective "we").

Authorial Voice

This will probably sound odd. But I feel like I need some kind of dialogical therapy on my authorial voice.
As I was going through my notebook to see if I had once written about dialogical therapy (because I do not know what it is, but it sounds helpful in a Bakhtinian type of way: 'let's get all of the various perspectives out on paper' and not tainted with specific context like the 'talking cure' is), I came across an apposite note - and nothing on dialogical therapy. The note read: "Health - mental and physical - strangely not prioritised."
What happened to my voice?
How do I restore it back to health?
First, the diagnosis. I discovered something was wrong when I was trying to write my ideas, which are quite clear, but which could not be formulated in text because of decorum, which rhetoric recognises as structuring pedagogy and procedures of the discipline and governing the overall uses of language. In communicating, and communicating about communication on learning how to learn, the ideas must (obviously) be submitted to dictates of decorum. But how to get it right?
Then, I discovered another depth of the problem through comparison when I read the work of a very clear and authoritative-sounding writer who had assembled such a similar network of ideas as those I am working on, except her voice sounded like it was coming from a place of expensive good social dinners, which is definitely where I am coming from as I continue to make vegetarian pozole without the hominy and vegetables, which is to say, I continue to make chili - noted here for the recipe recommendation (which is to say, the acidic-hot 'sauce' added to the cooked beans towards the end).

Every time I begin to write, I look around to see if the enemy is approaching. I deploy theory like so many soldiers and leave a mess on the field. Or, I allow for Rothkoian approach and allow myself to paint the associations as they occur to me, but then remember I need to publish for academic reasons and drown that flight in declamation.
That's the melodrama - but if this were therapy, the emotions be brought out to play like children so as to have the opportunity to help them grow - so this type of story goes.
I am finishing off a paper that must be turned in today, but feel so strongly that so much academic writing (mine, in this case) suffers from the Midas touch, rendering the ideas it grasps 'unactionable' by pinning them down in respective bell jars, stripped from their vital context, smothered by the arcane which is necessary to respect a lot of complexity in a small space. Also, this language is so obviously not my own - with figurative like spoken languages, I am a fluent reader, not speaker, prioritizing the never finished work of comprehension. So I ask: is there a purpose for one who can listen but who is less able to speak?
Not all scholars (note: I am only an aspiring one) calcify and smother; just the majority. It is therefore a gift to do the academic job of delimiting a subject holistically: like choosing for the delimiting a statue whose finger happens to be pointing beyond the discourse.
Because I am pressed for time, which is to say, because it takes me so much time to write so little (or, sometimes, nothing), I will end this post with the B/Logroll links I prepared. I've decided to add a new feature to the series: ending by listing a blog or text whose author I'd like to have dinner conversation with.


Simon Sinek, "Most Leaders Don’t Even Know the Game They’re Playing In" (YouTube) seems to sum up the gist of his work in 30 minutes - with a very helpful section on how to relate to an emergent type of youth (insofar as one can speak of types...)

A Paris Review article on Fra Angelico that criss-crosses from the globe trotting associative to a silent monastery - also, made me think of how the enjoyment of Catholic religious art requires an understanding of history to be fully appreciated, as opposed to the Orthodox icon

The Community of Inquiry: Insights for Public Administration from Jane Addams, John Dewey and Charles S. Peirce (PDF) diss. by Patricia M. Shields which has a nifty section where the community of inquiry takes the form of an actual map: the graphic facts of a city assembled in Maps and Papers (Holbrook 1895) mapping out local evidence of problems for a community practise of politics. I like how this work could parallel nicely with CoPs, explained below.
I will make a note here on contemporary pedagogy: little of it - except nominally, occasionally - does the work to relate its approaches back to the tradition/trends it emerged from. Lave and Wegner popularised the so-called Community of Practice (CoP), which, by the way this term is cited in so much recent work, would appear to be an entirely contemporary phenomenon. But there's even a passage in Plato's Phaedrus that encapsulates something of CoP.
It is true that the genesis of CoP emerged from Lave's anthropological work - and out of the CoP of an IBM think tank if I remember correctly, but we know that ideas can surface in different environments at around the same time - Thony has written about this in the history of science.
But the uncanny similarities to Peirce/Dewey's approach combined with how CoP is being used in pedagogy makes these historical connections relevant. To illustrate, CoP was not just plunked down on a 'panopticon-style' classroom, but coherently fit with the constructivism that emerged through Dewey, who was influenced by Peirce's work on inquiry.

Dinner conversation I'd like to have with the author of this blog.


This week's posts could be said to address empty spaces: areas of society where people have found something missing and have sought to build something constructive or begin a potentially constructive dialogue.
There are definitely quandaries that need creative, discerning, thoughtful guidance. Subito.
So, as usual, life continues to be interesting and to provide plenty of areas in need of work.
Or, in Confucian terms, we should do a little rectification of naming: are we living up to the promise of our professions?
Finally, on a personal note, it has been a pretty lonesome summer as I put my time towards my book and I console myself by thinking of how Erasmus spent three years teaching himself ancient Greek, begging his friends to buy him the books he needed. But I have taken breaks, often to put the mind out to pasture. I am finding it 'cleaner' to think, and think a lot, before I write (so not much is written, but the idea is gaining lucidity and cogency).
One type of break has been to make desktop icons from images of museum displays (one is in the bottom image) which I consider not to be a waste of time because sometimes when I am struggling to compose my thoughts as I write, having this constellation of images that span time and geography, with such different contexts, it is a help to the mind, like a mind map.
A second is to explore music, which also helps the thought - not only for its rhythm. There was a period in my life when I socialised very heavily with musicians and could write a lot about that. Liu Sola has written the best short story about musicians, "In Search of the King of Singers" and composed a modern rendition of the Chinese classic about Zhong Ziqi and Yu Bo Ya who form the model of ideal friendship, and about whom the term 知音 was coined, literally meaning "to know the tone" but which denotes a close friendship. That classic encapsulates so well something of the essence of music. I have included links to music at the end of this post.

Howard Gardner updating his multiple intelligences with the priority of doing good work.

Speaking of AI: a Fresh Air podcast on all of our data that is being mined and sold;
also, this old podcast put out by Mozilla with Zuboff, author of Surveillance Capitalism.

Another area in need of addressing is the surge in the use of public lands - as people are now in need of instruction in how to be in the outdoors. The exact figure is cited in this Trail Show podcast episode which features the curator of the Our Public Lands Hate You instagram account, who has taken it upon himself to start dialogues (mostly) with the social media influencers who are using public lands irresponsibly (the famous recent incident being how they damaged the super bloom in CA).This person has essentially taken on an extra, thankless, unpaid job.

I cannot recommend enough this blog post on centrism, which I have sent to my relatives, because it is always nice when the message comes, for the nth time, from someone else.
An article on the Japanese origins of 8chan (Tablet Magazine).
Also from Tablet, "The Left's Race War."
Lastly, for this section, this quote: "Censorship nowadays isn’t done by constricting speeches; it’s by flooding the information space with so much bullshit that people don’t know what the hell’s going on anymore." From a LitHub interview.

The NPR series Tiny Desk Concerts (on iTunes; YouTube; their site) - perhaps I am late to the party on this one. Excellent sound engineering. Special performances (we have all seen A Capella-type live performances, but there is something so intimate about these, even watching them online).
I will link to the Jeremy Dutcher performance, and agree he is unique, not just in terms of his byline: hailing from an indigenous tribe of 100; trained in classical music and opera. The series has clips with artists ranging from Bilal to Florence and the Machine. The series introduced me to TX siblings The Oh Hellos and to Oddissee (links lead to their Band Camp pages). The latter reminds me of an artist who one took out a prohibitively large loan to go to Columbia, seeking there to learn strategies of how to more successfully produce 'positive' hip hop (there is a term for that that I forget). He was talking to Mick Taussig who gave him a look that I will never forget though of course I may have misinterpreted his signal that what he was looking in the wrong place.
On the 'positive' note, two Red Eagle videos: Still Here and Song of Survival - the latter shows a young boy on the reservation who combats the misery through music, which is not a new theme, but sometimes I think about life on the reservation... It is also interesting to see in the first video fusions of traditional dance and breakdance. And this electric pow wow inspired video incorporating a Cree singer group by Tribe Called Red. Also interesting is their 360 degree video.
The potentials of electronic music and other artistic applications of technology are still being explored and it is exciting to watch it develop (this is no Jean Michel Jarre synthesiser!)