Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Portrait of an Eremite

Historian Robin Kelley's Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original sets out to humanize Monk. We should question the image of the human that's being offered. In place of Mad Monk, Monk the childlike genius, images which Kelley is right to regard critically, Kelley presents us with an image of Monk the Revolutionary Worker. It makes one wonder whether there could be an intelligible biography that didn't traffic in cultural doxa, thereby assuming rather than demonstrating ways of life, a biography that, to stick to our current topic, didn't traffic in preformed images of the human, but rather arrested images, for a brief moment, spun them around, talked to them. Is it possibly in the nature of history to form an image of the human as we go along, we who are marked by historicity?

Myth, the bête noire of so many of our discourses, creeps in through the most improbable fissures. Is severe mental illness a fissure in the human?

Perhaps if the gods seem childlike it's because they don't accept their fates—naturally they do end up being who they are, but there's something both more than and less than fatal about the whole affair of coming to be a mythological figure, a simulacrum of fate that any message about fate must pass through. That's myth.

The image of the human generates its own inhuman, It stirs its own negative image from the depths of its mythos. But is that true? Doesn't the inhuman arise in the telling? And doesn't the human itself ask to be thought of as something more akin to story than to myth?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 7:02 PM. 5 comments

Friday, December 04, 2009

September Sea Ice

It takes a while for the data to get settled in, and I'm in no particular hurry. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center September sea ice extent over the arctic pole was 5.36 million square kilometers. That's more ice than last year, but less ice than average. There are many efforts to intepret the data. In my view the skeptics seem more reasonable in light of this data point than they would had sea ice extent declined from the previous year. I remain concerned about the polar bear's habitat, and the possibility of extinction.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:21 PM. 7 comments