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A Reply Concerning the Noble and Vertuous Artes of Rhetoryke and Logike

by de Gondi Sun Mar 3rd, 2013 at 03:13:05 AM EST

[The full title is actually "A Reply to Some Considerations by Mr. Welch Concerning the Noble and Vertuous Artes of Rhetoryke and Logike". It refers to Ted's recent diary Discovering dialectic and the place of philosophy]

Dear Ted,

I always look forward to your diaries as a source of pleasure and controversy, often through unexpected themes. Little did I imagine that I- or rather my brash opinions and harsh appraisals-  would in some small measure play a role in one of them. Whether this will draw me to govern my tongue in the future is unlikely. Invariably you will argue your case down to the sound of  splintering bones. So I was surprised that you let your Philo-café diary enjoy an interminable silence.

In the meantime I delighted in pulling various texts on rhetoric and argumentation off the shelf and chasing down that evil noun, Dialectics. You may imagine my trepidation as I nervously searched the index of For and Against Method by Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend. It was the closest thing I could imagine to the Standard Classic Model of Dialectics. After all, here are two fairly brilliant individuals having a go at some sort of understanding. Much to my relief the accursed word appears but a half dozen times in no role of consequence. The discussion between the two is healthily referred to as a "dialogue" or "debate" and the editor, Matteo Monterlini, does an excellent job in condensing the material into a brief dialogue as an introduction to all the fun.


Their actual correspondence is a riot and often has me laughing out loud (LOL in webese), on the tram of all places, even without the book at hand (which is no longer an embarrassment at my age.) The two are simply genial scoundrels engaged in scurrilous banter, utterly politically incorrect (with fudgy old Popper as preferred punching bag). It should be required reading here at ET for all those who wish to engage in discussion.

So, all in all, your diary did put me in a good mood.

I cannot respond entirely to your quote of Prof. David A. Frank on Traité de l'argumentation - la nouvelle rhétorique (1958), by Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca since the article is behind "free" walls with the usual gimmick about registering one's credit card number. I just don't do that sort of thing. If you have downloaded the full article it would be appreciated were you to share it's contents , provided, of course, it is worth discussing. However, what little there is to go on, Frank cites Mieczyslaw Maneli who in turn cites an interview of Chaim Perelman conducted by Dr. Wiktor Osiatynski in 1973. Apparently this would refer to a New Rhetoric Project, dear to both Frank and Maneli. (There are several open articles on the web by Frank but that is not the issue.)

It appears that the use of the notion of "dialectics" in the text you cite conflates Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca monumental treatise with Maneli's New Rhetoric Project. Only a careful reading can untangle the two sources, one of which refers presumably to Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's New Rhetoric while the other is Maneli's New Rhetoric (Project). The question is solved by simply looking up "dialectics" in the Treatise to see what the two authors wrote on the subject. It is a fairly easy exercise as there are only 14 citations for a total of 19 pages in 514 pages of text in the English edition. One might make a point of quality rather than quantity and say that those 19 pages are the single most important pages in the treatise but one might then wonder why the authors bothered writing all the rest, or why philosophers and scholars since then, with the possible exceptions of Frank and Maneli, have argued for and against Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca on the assumption that Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca were actually talking about what they wrote.

The visible portion of the Frank article does need some help. One must distinguish footnotes from page citations without the references. Footnote Number One refers to something by Maneli while Footnote Number Two refers to Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's Treatise on Argumentation since the page citations do effectively correspond to the English edition (pages 5 and 514). However the number 216 refers to something by Maneli which cannot be his Perelman's New Rhetoric which only has 156 pages at the comfortable price of about an euro a page. Whatever, the 216 quote is misleading in that we really don't know what "New Rhetoric" Maneli is talking about. Judging from the statement I may hazard that it's not about Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's New Rhetoric but Maneli's idea of New Rhetoric, surreptitiously pawned off by Frank as Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's New Rhetoric.

Let's have a look at Page Five, which is in the Introduction, and see exactly what our venerable authors say (italics in the original).

[...]logicians and modern philosophers have become totally disinterested in our subject. It is for this reason that the present book is mostly related to the concerns of the Renaissance and, beyond that, to those of certain Greek and Latin authors, who studied the art of persuading and of convincing, the technique of deliberation and of discussion. Our work, therefore, is presented as a new rhetoric.

Our analysis concerns the proofs which Aristotle termed "dialectical," which he examines in his Topics, and the utilization of which he indicates in his Rhetoric. This appeal to Aristotle's terminology would justify the "rapprochement" of the theory of argumentation with dialectic, conceived by Aristotle himself as the art of reasoning from generally accepted opinions (εὔλογος). However, a number of reasons have led us to prefer a "rapprochement" with rhetoric.

The first of these reasons is the confusion which a return to Aristotle's terminology might produce. Although the term dialectic served for centuries to designate logic itself, since the time of Hegel and under the influence of doctrines inspired by him, it has acquired a meaning which is very remote from its original one and which has become generally accepted in contemporary philosophy. The same cannot be said for the term rhetoric, which has fallen into such desuetude that it is not even mentioned, for example, in A. Lalande's philosophical lexicon; we hope our attempts will contribute to the revival of an ancient and glorious tradition.

A second reason, which we consider much more important, has motivated our choice: the very spirit in which Antiquity was concerned with dialectic and rhetoric. Dialectical reasoning is considered as running parallel with analytical reasoning, but treating of that which is probable instead of dealing with propositions which are necessary. The very notion that dialectic concerns opinions, i.e., theses which are adhered to with variable intensity, is not exploited. One might think that the status of that which is subject to opinion is impersonal and that opinions are not relative to the minds which adhere to them. On the contrary, this idea of adherence and of the minds to which a discourse is addressed is essential in all the ancient theories of rhetoric. Our "rapprochement" with the latter aims at emphasizing the fact that it is in terms of an audience that an argumentation develops; the study of the opinionable, as described in the Topics, will have a place in our framework.

You may note that Prof. Frank is misrepresenting Page Five in his paper on several points. The "rapprochement" is clearly with rhetoric both on largely negative (Reason One) and "much more important" substantive (Reason Two) grounds. The phrase, "Accordingly, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca saw their work as a "rapprochement" of a theory of argumentation with dialectic" (5)" is a misrepresentation of what is actually written. The hypothesis that x "would justify" a rapprochement of y with z is not the same thing as a "rapprochement" of y with z, all the more so if the conclusion is entirely different: a preferred rapprochement of y with k. It is further very important to pay attention to what exactly the authors find in Aristotle concerning dialectics, which they individuate as "the art of reasoning from generally accepted opinions." It is this aspect- or even definition- of dialectics that Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca find fertile and, nested within the process of a speaker-audience exchange, is "essential in all the ancient theories of rhetoric." Here again Frank appears to make an error of attribution since it is not Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca who invented the notion but who simply selected and developed an overlooked but key aspect in Aristotle's Topics. (Frank: "the authors sought to expand the reach of dialectic beyond formal logic's laws of identity, non-contradiction and the excluded middle to include the realm of probable opinions and common sense.") We therefore do have a fairly definite idea of what Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca chose to argue as dialectics. We don't have much of an idea what Frank and Maneli mean by the term beyond a sort of ideological panegyric, as there is not much to go on available to public view.

The same passage has been addressed in a collective work by some Very Serious People, Fundamentals of Argumentation Theory in Chapter 4, pages 93-128, but principally page 96.

In this endeavor, modern science proved to have few things to offer, but the classical approach to argumentation of Aristotle and his followers has several important similarities to what Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca envisage. This relationship is expressed in the name for their theory, the new rhetoric. In choosing this name, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca do not react against dialectic: They regard classical rhetoric and dialectic as a single whole. In their view, dialectic is a theory relating to the techniques of argument, rhetoric is a practical discipline indicating how dialectical techniques can be used to convince or persuade people.

Our VSP then turn to the negative Reason Number One with, in my unqualified opinion, undue emphasis on the "substantial" dialectical component of Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's New Rhetoric, unless you recall that Aristotle's (Original) Rhetoric also had a substantial dialectical component. They do reiterate the misunderstandings the Term generates not only because of its modern adoption by Hegel and all that it entailed, but also because of its classical association with analytical reasoning. They do not even bother with Plato here, though you can feel him lurking in the corners amongst his shadows. The term has been purposely narrowed down to Topics I 1 by Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca precisely to make it a powerful rhetorical tool. They conclude this phase of their introductory argument on page 9 as follows:

...The term "extra-technical proofs" [Rhetoric I 1, 1355b] is well designed to remind us that whereas our civilization, characterized by great ingenuity in the techniques intended to act on things, has completely forgotten the theory of argumentation, of action on minds by means of discourse, it was this theory which, under the name of rhetoric, was considered by the Greeks the téchne "par excellence."

This, I suppose, is yet another reason for opting to call their work the new rhetoric, the téchne "par excellence." This introductive argumentative strategy of counterpoising the two alternatives (new this or that) served egregiously to illustrate the problematic of the traditional popular opinion that saw dialectic and rhetoric at loggerheads with each other with the latter in the role of kicking bag by certain elites. By focusing on a concise and simple definition of dialectic that acknowledges the rhetorical nature of dialectic the authors can develop a strong heuristic model (héuresis- to invent, explore, discover) in which the contrived separation of the two arts is superfluous. In this view neither exists without the other. When Zeno likened Logike to a closed fist in its rigour and force and Rhetorike to the opened Hande in all its splendour, it was one and the same Hande.

I make no claim of speaking on authority, as I am no more than a enthusiastic reader who has read the treatise a few times with pencil at hand. I do hope that beyond my intellectual limitations- I have no formal superior education and have spent my working life as an artisan- I may actually have learned something from the treatise without noticeably distorting it in my mind. It is in this guise, shaped no doubt by my no-nonsense manual interaction with materials, tools and artefacts, that I may have developed a distaste for "dialectics" as a portmanteau word battered around by the elite, the effete and jolly good old wankers, most often to confound or show off or support a degenerative programme in need of props. While you appear to take issue with "definition" in your Philo-café diary, I do not, as an appeal to Reason Number One demonstrates. Exactly what is dialectics is the issue. There are as many varieties as there are recipes for borsch. The term simply can't be used without being defined beforehand, and one can separate the chaff from the grain, to put it mildly, only when the author(s) not only defines the term beforehand but keeps it as short and simple as possible. As Aristotle put it (Topics I 5), "People whose rendering consists of a term only, try it as they may, clearly do not render the definition of the thing in question, because a definition is always a phrase of a certain kind."

Now this certainly does not mean that discussions should be sabotaged by interminable disagreement on the definition of a term such as "violence", for that too is a rhetorical technique, that under certain circumstances can be of the illicit kinde. For the sake of argument, one need only establish a definition pertinent to the discussion at hand and leave the cosmic codswallop for rainy days.

Let's have a look at that universal audience where from opinions apparently issue from disembodied, impersonal minds. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca  do discuss Platonic Dialectics in I.8 Argumentation Before a Single Hearer pages 35 to 40 in the Notre Dame Press edition.  Let me type out some passages since I cannot resort to copy and paste. I forewarn you that it is not earthshaking since much more has been written on the subject since 1958.

Argumentation in a dialogue of this nature has no philosophic significance unless it claims to be valid for all. It is easy to see how dialectic, just like argumentation directed to the universal audience, could come to be identified with logic. This was the view held by the Stoics and the medieval thinkers. We think of it as merely an illusion, or a method, which admittedly has played an important role in the development of absolutist philosophy, striving by every means to go from adherence to truth. The philosophic significance of the interlocutor's adherence in dialogue is that the interlocutor is regarded as an incarnation of the universal audience.

...
The adherence of the interlocutor should not, however, be gained solely on the strength of the speaker's dialectical superiority. The one who gives in should not be beaten in an eristic contest but is supposed to yield to the self-evidence of truth. Dialogue, as we consider it, is not a debate, in which the partisans of opposed settled convictions defend their respective views, but rather a discussion in which the interlocutors search honestly and without bias for the best solution to a controversial problem.

...
Theoretically, this distinction may be useful. However, it is a very rash generalization to consider the participants in a disinterested discussion as spokesmen of the universal audience, and it is only through a rather schematic view of reality that the determination of the weight of arguments can be compared with the weighing of ingots. On the other hand, the defender of a particular point of view is very often convinced that he is sustaining what is objectively the best thesis and that its triumph will be that of the best cause.
In practice, there are many occasions on which this distinction between discussion and debate seems hard to draw with any exactitude. In most case, it is based on the intention which we, rightly or wrongly, ascribe to the participants in the dialogue, and this intention may vary in the course of the dialogue.

...
The heuristic dialogue, in which the interlocutor is an incarnation of the universal audience, and the eristic dialogue, which aims at overpowering the opponent, are both merely exceptional cases. In ordinary dialogue the participants are simply trying to persuade their audience so as to bring about some immediate or future action; most of our arguments in daily life develop at this practical level. It is a curious and noteworthy fact that this everyday activity of persuasive discussion has received very scant attention from the theoriticians.

And that, I'm afraid, is just about all our earnest authors have to say about the Socratic variant of Dialectics, "an illusion, or a method,... striving by every means to go from adherence to truth." Get on with the show, theoriticians, everyday activity is where it's at! And the challenge was taken up.

The Canadian philosopher Douglas Walton is indeed quite a mouthful to address. He is a universally recognized authority in his field and there is hardly a matter concerned with critical argumentation that he hasn't addressed and roundly debated with his kind.

He has written some forty books without a single autobiography or novel or poetry collection to break the pace. I note that he has written a book on Dialectics, which I have dutifully ordered from Loving Mother Amazon. I suspect the title The New Dialectics is a hat tip to Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca  and thus an onerous undertaking.  Walton's Informal Logic- a Pragmatic Approach, which doesn't contain the now familiar Term, places him in a position to address Messrs Blair and Johnson, "two of the patriarchs of Informal Logic," all the more so since the parties involved are engaged in a long-standing and interesting discussion.

I do thank you for calling my attention to the paper and emphasizing the deep sympathy, if not praise, a colleague uses when addressing some of the feeble points of another colleague's programme. Casually pointing out inconsistencies, contradictions, ambiguities, shortcomings and vanities is best done with courtesy and subtleness, and left at that. Fortunately the learned reader can go to the link and decide what sort of embrace Walton and Godden have reserved for Blair and Johnson. Perhaps Blair and Johnson are a bit too intent on carving themselves out a patriarchy on ground that has been tread by Walton, Von Eemeren and Grootendorst with their pragmatisms and processes. Even Blair's and Johnson's close colleague and co-editor Christopher Tindale (Rhetorical Argumentation) expresses an enormous sympathy for one of their inventions (the dialectical tier!) while generously noting the weak points in their method to everyone's mutual advancement. I suspect they all get together at their international conferences and have a good laugh at each other's expense as those merry pranksters Lakatos and Feyerabend did. Praise can be devastating when used adroitly, as the learned French philosopher, Marcel Proust, so often demonstrated.

For the courtesy due the learned reader- or Hearer- it would be a good turn to complete the last paragraph of the Walton- Godden paper. You only offered us the first sentence which I repeat in bold:

By and large, we are deeply sympathetic with the conception of the dialectical presented by Johnson and Blair. Clearly, it has deeply influenced their approach to the study of argument, though it has not brought them all the way to a dialog-based methodology. Criticisms of the dialogue approach often amount to saying that not all arguments can be studied, or not all arguments are best studied, from a dialogue perspective. Sometimes a product-based approach is our best, or only, bet given the information we have about the situation of a particular argument. We do not deny this, and agree that several different perspectives can be taken in the study of argument. Yet, we emphasize that our understanding of the nature, purpose, workings and success of argument is deeply enriched by adopting a dialogic perspective wherever possible. Indeed, in many cases a dialogic approach is necessary because without a dialogic understanding of the process of argumentation, an impoverished and inaccurate picture of the argument product will result.

For now I'll leave it at that, although I regret parting company with Walton and cohorts, who as philosophers of argumentation and consummate arguers in turn, are as limpid as possible when it comes to the terms they use. While it would be perfectly normal that theoreticians and philosophers of argumentation discuss Dialectics, not surprisingly they do not use the Term either for Reason Number One or because there are more efficacious approaches, such as the above-cited dialog-based methodology dear to Walton or the pragma-dialectical method of Von Emeren and Grootendorst. Certainly this latter case would serve to confute my initial broadsides but not my observations here. The theory of argumentation developed by Von Emeren and Grootendorst considers "dialectification" as one of the "four meta-theoretical principals" of their investigative process and regard it "as part of an attempt to resolve a difference of opinion in accordance with critical norms of reasonableness." The definition is concise and somewhat more narrow than Aristotle's definition above and, certainly, "dialectification" absolves a role in the architecture of their method.

I do hope I've given you enough to gnaw on and am looking forward to being demolished. But above all I hope our learned readers may weigh in and contribute to the discussion for a better understanding of whatever we're talking about. If anything it might wet someone's curiosity to read some very serious people on a fascinating subject, all the more so that it is our capacity and right to argue and discern the underbelly of arguments that makes us active citizens.

Best Regards,

De Gondi

Display:
To be enjoyed as if watching heart surgery.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 02:03:33 PM EST
Ouch?
by redstar on Tue Feb 5th, 2013 at 10:04:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If this continues a few cycles there's a book in it!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 5th, 2013 at 03:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, when I put this up I had in my mind to attach a poll but my attempts failed for reasons beyond me; either a bug in the works or because it was way past my bedtime. So I have left it as is.

The poll concerned the image above and what playful significance one might attach to it. A close layman's look might describe it as two figures, one bigger than the other, four hands in various postures, four eyes, four feet and two closed mouths. Yet some sort of dialogue there is. The bigger figure has the name "Socrates" above and the smaller figure the name "plato" above. There is a well defined action but one may speculate whatever one wants as to what is going on, all the more so if you're a French philosopher... But I'm quite sure we could squeeze something better out of it.

What sort of statement was our illuminist making?

For our continental philosophers and their American U acolytes, the image is quite familiar. It concerns a correspondence on post cards with 52 space breaks here and there just for the hell of it. In the old days, as many still recall, travelling involved sending postcards that took time and postage. And if you were in some regimes, too many words qualified as a letter and therefore the postcard was more costly to send. In France there were light paper sheets that were sold as letters, with dotted lines and a little glue to close the page along three sides. One could write a one page letter in small print, taking care to write lightly, fold and seal it. Perhaps the stamp was already printed on the sheet. It was cheap but fun. A format for communication.

So, yes, what could the image mean to you? You can be as scurilous and brazen as a Lakatos. And what sort of letter could one write on the other side?

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Feb 5th, 2013 at 05:18:36 PM EST
It seems to be an illustration of that fact that most of what we know about Socrates is via Plato; that he dictated what Socrates said as it were.

But showing Socrates writing is quite ironic:

Dr. Wolf goes back to look at Socrates' objections to writing. He worried that reliance on writing would erode memory (it has!), but also, and maybe more importantly, that reading would mislead students to think that they had knowledge, when they only had data.

http://outofthejungle.blogspot.fr/2007/11/socrates-objections-to-writing.html

As to the rest - I'll be back :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Feb 5th, 2013 at 05:55:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to be an illustration of that fact that most of what we know about Socrates is via Plato

It can be further extrapolated that Plato is sodomising Socrates, metaphorically or otherwise.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 6th, 2013 at 05:51:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This was reportedly Jacques Derrida's first take on seeing the image. He fantasized that plato was rubbing his erect penis against Socrates, a variant of intercrural activity common at the time. It is all in the mind of the beholder and given Derrida's infatuation with Freud (or freud?), we may infer that it is merely his projection rather than a whimsical deconstruction.

I'll illustrate another approach in due time even if someone beats me to it. Ted of course does touch a core issue, a paradox of sorts. We can interpret it with amusement as plato dictating Socratic dialogues to Socrates.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Feb 6th, 2013 at 06:49:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But it would normally have been the teacher buggering the student, I would expect, and Socrates is shown seated on a cushioned chair.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 6th, 2013 at 11:31:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why it's metaphorical : Plato is retrospectively buggering Socrates by (mis)recording his philosophy (while poking him in the back and giving him hand signals). You will also note that he is a midget : on tiptoes, he is no taller than the seated Socrates.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 7th, 2013 at 08:26:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's Derrida on the image :

For the moment, myself, I tell you I see Plato getting an erection in Socrates' back and see the insane hubris of his prick, an interminable, disproportionate erection traversing Paris' head like a single idea and then the copyist's chair, before slowly sliding, still warm, under Socrates' right leg, in harmony or symphony with the movement of his phallus sheaf, the points, plumes, pens, fingers, nails, and grattoirs, the very pencil boxes which address themselves in the same direction. The di-rection, the direction of this couple, these old nuts, these rascals on horseback, this is us, in any event, a priori (they arrive on us) we are lying on our backs in the belly of the mare as if in an enormous library, and it gallops, it gallops, from time to time I turn to your side, I lie on you and guessing, reconstituting it by all kinds of chance calculations and conjectures, I set up [dresse] within you the carte of their displacements, the ones they will have induced with the slightest movement of the pen, barely pulling on the reins.

And again:

Plato wants to emit. Seed, artificially, technically. That devil of a Socrates holds the syringe. To sow the entire earth, to send the same fertile card to everyone. A pancarte, a pan-card, a billboard that we have on our backs and to which we can never really turn round.

That was fun. We've been inseminated with a black shower of ink, the world over, and it's dripping down our backs. And as we know, the motif of poison is there too, for ink is often toxic if not outright poisonous, just as the written word is. Must be God generix against God faber. In principio erat verbum...

Now in our times, with Freud behind and above us, fantasies of this sort are current money. The next step is problematic: Fantasies have a warrant to be taken as significant discourse emitted by the unconscious. Anything goes, and Truth crawls back as the underlying Truth of the truth of utterances in themselves (regardless coherence). So Matthew Paris, the abbot who actually did the drawing, really did design this message as Derrida has glossed it, presumably because there's some sort of inside track into Matthew's recondite intentions, regardless his protests to the contrary.

So if you've got a pretty good grasp on Jacques' turgid syringe, perhaps you can understand his dialectique which goes by the notion of différance and deconstruction. His version is a sort of kairos born of a crisis in his approach to Hegel with a hat tip to Heidegger, bypassing Marx, and firmly embracing Freud and his hierophant, Jacques Lacan. Of course, that puts him in tension with Deleuze whose dialectics were passed directly through Nietzsche. Reportedly the two dialectics cannot get along without each other. Frankly, I don't really care.

Now if you can put up with that sort of stuff, it's fine by me. But it's no small wonder philosophy and dialectics are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to understanding by the masses. At this point the universal audience is the analyst sitting in his chair and doing Sudoku or texting his current squeeze while the speaker is on the couch emitting self-centered utterances that are truth in their mere act of utterance.

I'll be damned. Loving Amazon has just delivered Walton's The New Dialectic along with Dylan's Live in Minneapolis. Believe me. I'm not kidding. I should have taken a picture.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Feb 8th, 2013 at 05:17:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to have a t-shirt printed up saying 'Basically it's about sex and death.'

It's actually a quote from an art critic in the 80s about an exhibition of paintings that looked like wall-sized stripy pyjamas.

Unexpectedly, it still seems applicable to the culture industry today.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Feb 8th, 2013 at 06:04:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could write it up for you in Carolingian or uncial.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Feb 8th, 2013 at 06:58:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Or "Hobbit-script" as it's now known.)


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Feb 8th, 2013 at 07:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you talking about Game of Thrones?
Its major plot points, based on George R. R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire novels, are so simplistic that they may as well have been scrawled in crayon on the intricate wallpaper of literary-televisual tradition: the goodies are the rough, noble Northerners, the Stark family, none of whom have any discernible character defects, and the baddies are the yellow-haired Southern Lannisters, prosperous, duplicitous, incestuous, murderous and lots of other horrible things ending in `ous', and somewhere in there are ice-zombies and prostitutes and blood-feuds and dragons and prostitutes and eunuchs and prostitutes and pirates and prostitutes and witches and prostitutes and one randy dwarf with daddy issues.


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 8th, 2013 at 07:32:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No one ever went bust underestimating the intelligence of culture consumers. (Or academics.)

I haven't watched Game of Thrones, but the few things of GRRRR Martin's I've read have always struck me as creepy, in a disturbingly Catholic kind of a way.

GOT seems like an excuse to show lots of sword play and soft porn in animal skins.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Feb 8th, 2013 at 08:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A medieval House of Cards, with an ever expanding cast plus a few extras brought in each chapter to be raped, tortured or mutilated to keep you reading.

Haven't watched it. The first book was fine, even unusal in avoiding some annoyingly common tropes. Then he started introducing new characters by the bucketful.
If we had editors today, books 2-4 could have been compressed into one. Compare Strata, one of Pratchett's pre-discworld books. I was struck by how he'd managed to do in 200 pages what most writers need a trilogy for today.

(At least Martin hasn't inflicted an elven language on us.)


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Feb 8th, 2013 at 08:47:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plato is retrospectively buggering Socrates

I got that, despite having cognitive dissonance and difficulty not reading 'Aristotle' instead of 'Socrates', as that was the actual relationship. I am well aware that what we know of Socrates was filtered through the viewpoint of Plato, though I had to figure out on my own just how conservative Plato was, as that was close to the position of several of my history professors, for many of whom the most liberal aspect of their personal views had to do with sexual politics.  Also, the woodcut was likely generated by one well versed in the subject of buggery via their own experiences during their education, so much of which was still from church institutions at that time, and even universities were often run along similar lines. My medieval history professor was raised in an Episcopal orphanage, was, I later found out, gay, and also rather conservative on political issues, though scathing in his views on religion and the Catholic Church.  


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2013 at 04:05:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

Bumped to avoid archiving and to permit further comment.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 3rd, 2013 at 03:12:42 AM EST

My demolition of this has been delayed by my usual tendency to be an intellectual flaneur and wander up all kinds of side alleys, and also by planning and spending 11 days in Rome, then putting together a diary. Now I've finished that I can get back to dialectic.

My response will be long, surprise, surprise :-) - so I'll put it up as a another diary.  

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Mar 3rd, 2013 at 06:29:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll try to squeeze in one last comment before this goes off the air. There has been quite a bit of distraction this past month with elections in Italy and Beppe Grillo's surge as a major party. In light of my letter above, the lack of debate, dialogue, deliberation or negotiation in the Italian elections and the aftermath takes on certain importance. Of course this isn't the proper place to get into present-day electoral marketing strategies and the betrayal of "democracy." So I'll get back to the picture. Or rather the pictures. And since the flanerie of my plentifull tongue now exceeds the space of a humble comment, I shall post it as another story.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Mar 29th, 2013 at 07:50:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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