Commenter Archive

Comments by bob

On “Open Thread

Ran across this and thought you and Scott might find it interesting, if not already aware.

BTW how's theyir going?

On “Face of the Faceless

On the web design part of this...

Yeah, I agree the concept-execution gap is the most likely explanation. An further example tagged with "photography" requires an extra copy of the photo the text discuses in the body of the text to make the text intelligible.

On “state-nation as nation-state

Yes I got an email notification. Will I have to continue to approve each new post subscription?

Back to the (nation ((state) nation)).

So state-nation as the post-nation state of political Earth? A different condition,to be sure, of the pre-nation state, but which perhaps also could be called a state nation.


I'm not sure I'm getting this. Would this final state-nation cease in fact to be a nation? Would the idea of nation become obsolete?

At any rate, if my questions aren't useful, this still serves as test of the subscription process - let's see...

On “product of our virtues and proof of them

Glad you found it useful.

BTW the "Notify by email" function doesn't seem to e working for me. Since he change, after both comments I've gotten an email asking me to confirm my subscription to the post, then, after the first comment the email of subsequent comments came a while afterwards, and this time, not at all.


Writing about French colonial history (in any extended abstract, the rest behind a paywall) our erstwhile virtual commenter, Ann Laura Stoller, proposes using aphasia a metaphor.

But forgetting and amnesia are misleading terms to describe this guarded separation and the procedures that produced it. Aphasia, I propose, is perhaps a more apt term, one that captures not only the nature of that blockage but also the feature of loss. Calling this phenomenon “colonial aphasia” is of course not an appeal to organic cognitive deficit among “the French.” Rather, it is to emphasize both loss of access and active dissociation. In aphasia, an occlusion of knowledge is the issue. It is not a matter of ignorance or absence. Aphasia is a dismembering, a difficulty speaking, a difficulty generating a vocabulary that associates appropriate words and concepts with appropriate things. Aphasia in its many forms describes a difficulty retrieving both conceptual and lexical vocabularies and, most important, a difficulty comprehending what is spoken.
Ann Laura Stoller

As an aphasiac I find this apt and appealing. Cognitive dissonance seems handy, but perhaps not quite "there". Part of many experience of aphasia is a difficulty/impossibility in expressing not necessarily thoughts in general (ie global aphasia), but thoughts in specific times and situations. The term "global aphasia" then becomes here not just a general difficulty/impossibility in speaking, but difficulty/impossibility speaking about certain global situations.

On “consider done

It will unlive forever in our hearts.

On “Open Thread

I like the new look.

Did you change just for a change or part of a larger plan?

On “Know your enmity

Gosh, I didn't even know I was gone...

So HNY to you and Miggs and Fuster and the greater zombiverse. Coincidently, Karen and I just watched the Christmas episode of "Haven" (harmless entertainment) on Netflix before logging on just now.

Polar vortex greatly overrated at least in this little corner of the wilds of Upstate NY. The thing is the Great Lakes have pretty much stopped freezing over in winter for quite a lot of years now, so sure it gets really cold, but it was 55 here today. The net effect is warmer than when I was growing up but actually more snow because the lake effect off the Great Lakes never stops.


The thing that might have dampened the irony substitution response would have been if TJ had identified where "the central front" should be. This would have fleshed out his fantasy for carnage in a way that some one could engage in a substantive way.

Another irony is TJ criticizes as "minimalist" the "everywhere war" of " drone strikes, Special Forces raids, and other covert activities" that the left criticizes for being excessive.

On “The State of the Neo-Empire Is Strong

Not sure I understand. Stoller is proposing I think that empire is a regime of exception making. It makes exceptions in response to necessities, and this indeed produces the next iteration of empire.

A thought that occurred to me is that independence became necessary to our fore-parents because the crown made them an exception to full citizenship ie the crown treated the colonists not as colonists but the colonized. Maybe this could be a place to start, if start is the right word.

As to alternatives...I don't know about Stoller - she is a lefty and certainly the tone is one a negative one. But from what I understand of her work she carries a desire to see empire making humans in all their complexity.

If we confine our horizon to the present, then there is not much alternative. Maybe with insight there's a way forward to make that not true.


Again, your objections illustrate Stoller's points. As you point out "why Gitmo was necessary" is a situation where necessity requires an exception. Her point is that empires need to produce exceptions.


Correction: Stoller's phrase is "rush to the intimate".


Asking if the empire is an empire at all is the subject of the SB article. They might replace in part at least your "even though"s with "because"s. Stoller's work is mainly focused on the intimacy, (her phrase is "rush to intimacy") between the imperial and subjected individuals. It undoubtedly is a stretch to equate this to the "sacrificial community", but it's one of those thoughts that maybe doesn't have to, but does cross at least my mind.


I don't read a lot of this kind of stuff, so it may be reasonably typical. So that said, I did find the idea of empire as the production of exception interesting. I think they're trying to get beyond the typical discussion of Exceptionalism. I cited it because I thought there are some similarities to your view.

I haven't read any of Stoller's books, only a few web this, an interview and some references to her in other stuff. She certainly is a lefty, but one that seems to try to go against the grain of lefty habits.


I think it illustrates SB point that you can say that the expansion of bases was "mostly among allies". It illustrates the idea that part of this type of empire is the production of exception. Each base is in some ways unique in the confluence of factors producing the agreement for it to be there. Just the fact of having bases in an allied country (aren't all the base hosting countries an ally in some sense? each an exception to the rule?) illustrates part of their point. What countries have military bases in the US ally or not?

As for previous "retrenchments" (I think SB are saying the US isn't retrenching at all), they are part of the process of getting the US to the style of empire we find ourselves in. I don't think they suggesting this something that has developed only recently.


" America is structurally undisplaceable"

Until it isn't.

An interesting idea I ran across about this includes this.

At issue is not the identification of conspiracy theories of U.S. power, but ways of untangling a set of political rubrics imbued with a widely resonant moral vocabulary that reframe and redefine what counts as imperial intervention and what does not. Those terms signaling the unclarified sovereignties of U.S. imperial breadth —unincorporated territories, army bases in over 130 countries (with 200 bases added in 2004 alone) — are not the blurred edges of what more “authentic,” visible empires look like, but their empowered variants.

The United States has mastered this art of governance, but again, uncertain domains of jurisdiction and ad hoc legal exemptions based on cultural difference framed as religious irrationalisms are familiar imperial principles.

Rhetorics of exceptionalism are more than part of the discursive apparatus of empires: imperial states vigilantly produce excepted spaces, exemptions for certain populations, exclusions for others, and exit strategies from international law. Stoler and Bond - Refractions Off Empire - Untimely Comparisons in Harsh Times

Perhaps another way of pointing out that too much consensus, not producing exceptions as a strategy, would be counterproductive.

On “Mouth to Mouth (Report from the War on Xmas)

I think the "paternal love" idea is the expression of the universalist impulse, constrained though by the temporal and incomplete nature of Redemption. So the doctrine is a call for evangelical activity to extend the reality of Redemption to all.

In this sense, Voegelin's argument is a bit of reductio. In practice, growing up Catholic, it seems entirely called for.

This aspect of evangelical activity was pretty much completely absent from the popular discussion of Pope Francis' recent remarks, even though this view is the backbone of his call for social justice. It is this activity that I think is thought to bridge the gap between the presently excluded and the potentially Redeemed. Little comfort for those left out because f the time and place of birth.


I don't think the Catholic doctrine of the MBoC includes all people, but rather is a description of the Church itself. In a sense, the Redemption of Mankind was incomplete and requires the ongoing work of the Church to complete.

It was possible for Him of Himself to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do so only through a visible Church made up of men, so that through her all might cooperate with Him in dispensing the graces of Redemption. As the Word of God willed to make use of our nature, when in excruciating agony He would redeem mankind, so in the same way throughout the centuries He makes use of the Church that the work begun might endure. Mystici Corpus Christi (12)

There is in all this a sense I think of a way of being that is neither just contingent (therefore making God unnecessary), nor in complete mystical union with God, (therefore eliminating the distinction between Man and God).

While the Church's "paternal love" embraces all of Mankind, the MBoC is the Church itself, in both its contingent and mystical modes.

On “His Husband, Her Wife

No offense taken...I spend considerable effort in undermining my sense of myself as realish.

Further complications occurred to me as soon as I hit "Post Comment".

My non-op transgender nephew and his woman considered marriage before they broke up. I don't know if they got as far as considering how t refer to each other in their theoretical marriage vows. Karen and I have been to know to refer to him/her as both him and her in the same conversation - old habits die hard. He/she said he/she in fact does the same occasionally, and not to worry about it.

He has no desire to undergo the surgery while identifying as male. So just as a matter of talking to say restaurant staff, the man/woman thing gets confusing fast.


Before marriage equality picked up some steam, the word "partner" had substantial currency among progressive types to describe long term sexual relationships no matter what the gender composition. So sometimes "partner" could refer to an unmarried homosexual partner, and at other times to a heterosexual partner either married or not. That effort then was to replace husband/wife with partner across the board.

It also become I think common to, in marriage vows to pronounce the participants as "husband and wife" rather than "man and wife". I've never heard of a ceremony pronouncing the participants as "man and woman" or now, "man and man" or "woman or woman".

Personally I find this solution kinda appealing, so Russell could introduce his erstwhile partner as "his man", and I could refer to Karen as "my woman". It carries a bit of Neanderthal conservatism and ironic progressivism at the same time.

On “Open Thread

I don't know...the report was as sketchy on details as my attention was before I realized the profundity being revealed. I swear time came to a standstill!


It's half time in the Giants Chargers game and a local news segment came on reporting on the arrest of some guy who stole a car which had the keys in the visor!!! Just thought you'd like to know...

On “Because “The question ‘what is God?’ is impossible” (amended version of comment at @thinking_reed’s blog)

I really enjoyed your response to my last response. Following is a quote addressing your question about Aquinas' terminology. The rest may not be wholly responsive to your point, but it's what I've got right now.

From Aquinas, Thomas and Ralph McInerny. On Being and Essence. Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings

We must take a moment to backtrack and examine more closely the terms that Aquinas uses in the quote above. What are rendered as “to exist” and “existence” above are in Latin represented by esse (“to be”). When Aquinas speaks of “being as being”, in Latin he writes, “ens qua ens” (ens is expressed as “that which is”). It is difficult to render the difference between these two terms in English. Another attempt, by Dr. Walter Redmond, renders ens as “being” and esse as “be-ing”. The difference is subtle, and does capture some of the difference in meaning. It does not, however, quite capture the difference between the uses of the two terms. In his commentary on the De Hebdomadibus of Boethius, Aquinas says, “First he says that to be (esse) and that which is (ens) are different. This difference is not now to be referred to things, of which he does not yet speak, but to the notions or intentions themselves. For we mean one thing when we say ‘to be’ and another when we say ‘that which is’, just as we signify one thing by ‘to run’ and another by ‘runner’.

Part f the Tsongkapa distinction is that "existence" does indeed carry the implication of, in the terms of this discussion, God, or in his presentation. the word" existence" carries with it in unexamined usage and experience the modifier "inherent". This is the illusion or delusion.

In this approach things exist/appear as the unity of "mere clarity and awareness" . So the becoming of the rock, it's becoming clear to perception, and awareness together, simultaneously, is rock as "what is".


The "monotheistic idea" reminds me of Aquinas' characterization of God as "existence alone". Only God is this, everything else is existence and some particular nature that define and limits it.

The paradoxical method of much of Buddhism is dominant in Zen and some schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Tsonkapa's project was to use reason to avoid the recourse to paradox. This is what lead to his refinement of the description of Emptiness.

I'm not sure what you mean by "the transitive-existing of the rock". Is it either the rock's share of existence endowed by God limited by it's nature, or the rock as process, arising and ceasing according to how causes and conditions line up, or am I not getting it at all?

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