I was going to say something about Jordan Peterson, but this article beat me to it.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/21 08:00
I was going to say something about Jordan Peterson being a bonkwitted gasbag, but this article beat me to it. I checked off so many boxes on my Intellectual Crank Bingo card, I had to go print up another one. In the words of the article that linked me to it originally, "Nickelback jokes were tired anyway, so here’s your go-to if you need a stock joke about bad Canadian exports."
Peterson is popular partly because he criticizes social justice activists in a way many people find satisfying, and some of those criticisms have merit. He is popular partly because he offers adrift young men a sense of heroic purpose, and offers angry young men rationalizations for their hatreds. And he is popular partly because academia and the left have failed spectacularly at helping make the world intelligible to ordinary people, and giving them a clear and compelling political vision.
... If Jordan Peterson is the most influential intellectual in the Western world, the Western world has lost its damn mind. And since Jordan Peterson does indeed have a good claim to being the most influential intellectual in the Western world, we need to think seriously about what has gone wrong. What have we done to end up with this man? His success is our failure, and while it’s easy to scoff at him, it’s more important to inquire into how we got to this point. He is a symptom. He shows a culture bereft of ideas, a politics without inspiration or principle. Jordan Peterson may not be the intellectual we want. But he is probably the intellectual we deserve.
Emphasis mine. I'm reminded of another major public, political figure of recent renown about whom the same thing could be said, and for many of the same reasons.
Addendum: Another good article on Peterson. Peterson's enlightened and intellectual response to it was to hop on Twitter and verbally abuse the author with a choice array of four-letter words.
On how Zen and Buddhism are not anti-intellectual, but non-intellectual. Big diff there.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/20 17:00
Before I started practicing Zen seriously, I read approximately five-and-a-half metric butt-tons of books on Buddhism generally and Zen specifically. The book that kicked off my practice in earnest was Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen, which confronted me in language I couldn't help but pay attention to that the only thing that mattered was one's own practice. Since then, I've read other books on Zen of one kind or another, and apart from Brad's other books, the one that had the most impact was a book that for many people in the West — for instance, John Cage — served as an introduction to Zen generally: John Blofeld's translation of The Zen Teachings Of Huang Po.
Why this business of personal heroes may well be a bad idea.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/18 08:00
Someone I know in another venue posted in disgust about how he can no longer call Terry Gilliam a personal hero, because of the contortions Gilliam put himself through in defense of Harvey Weinstein. (It's something along the lines of how artists always have to be envelope-pushers; it's every bit as dumb as it sounds.) Who to call a hero in this embattled age?
I'm going to make a radical suggestion, one that I don't expect anyone to follow, but here goes: don't have "heroes".
Take your story. Rip it up and start again. What's left?By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/14 08:00
This is one of my favorite stories.
In mid-1865, Fyodor Dostoevsky was preparing to work on a novella he had tentatively titled The Drunkards, about the way alcoholism destroyed families. Then he happened across the case of the self-styled criminal intellectual Pierre François Lacenaire, and the center of the work shifted — seismically so, you might say — to this new character. What emerged was nothing less than Crime And Punishment.
How different a standard should we have for works aimed at younger audiences vs. those aimed at "all" audiences?By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/13 17:00
Last weekend I saw the 2018 movie adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time with my wife and her mother. We all liked the film, although I'm pretty strongly of the opinion that it is aimed at, and will be best received by, younger viewers. Adults may well find it too hokey and illogical, but then again the original book was criticized on exactly those grounds as well. Which got me thinking: how different a standard should we have for works aimed at younger audiences vs. those aimed at "all" audiences?
On Twitter as a case study in technical non-solutions to social problems.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/12 17:00
I made the mistake of browsing my Twitter feed the other day.
By and large I don't read Twitter. I maintain a presence there mainly as a way to keep others from squatting my name, and I have posts on this blog summarized and fed automatically into my Twitter account. But other than that, I do my best to not get sucked into it.
On avoiding the temptation to edit drastically, late in the game.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/12 08:00
A friend I trust is now in the process of reading Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned and providing me with last-stage feedback. This is on top of me doing one more slow-read pass on the text and catching a whole slew of little issues — grammar here, explanation there.
Science fiction, rebooted.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind