May 18, 2003

Political Signs Observed Ou...

Political Signs Observed Outside a Glendale Borders Yesterday:

Real Patriots Piss on Ashcroft's Nazi's
and
Get Leo Strauss Out of the White House
Bonus points for whoever can name the semi-famous political screecher whose name was attached to both sentiments.

Posted by at May 18, 2003 04:14 PM
Comments

RAMSEY CLARKE?

Posted by: Ashcroft_Is_Not_Very_Nice at May 18, 2003 09:00 PM

LaRouche it was! Nicely done....

Posted by: Matt Welch at May 18, 2003 09:02 PM

Ah, more Strauss conspiracy bullshit.

And, by the way, there's only one "Straussian" in the Administration.

People have to get real. Wolfowitz's foreign policy prescriptions have very little to do with Leo Strauss. Essentially his policy ideas would be no different if you were to hypothetically replace Wolfowitz with, say, Scoop Jackson -- a fine person who probably never read a page of Strauss.

I think Johah Goldberg said it well the other week -- this after James Atlas's drivel was published in the New York Times: yeah, fine do an expose about the influence of Strauss on important political figures. But for once it would be nice if the Times did a piece of the influence of Marx on prominent left-wing Democrats. (And on that note -- where the fuck was the New York Times when Bill Galston, a fine, exemplary thinker and scholar, was in the Clinton Administration? He was one of Clinton's top domestic policy advisors and -- gasp! -- a prominent Straussian. Media bias? Nah, perish the thought).

If you want a taste of what absolute wing-nuts LaRouchites are, the following thing of beauty was sent to me by one Kalev Pehme, a contributor and sort of friend of mine over at the Strauss discussion-list at Yahoo. (Kalev, for the record, is quite the left-wing/liberal Straussian -- just for those who buy Sadia Drury's calumny and comedic attempts at scholarship).

To wit:

Dear Robert

I thought you might enjoy this message I received from Lance Fletcher, the list owner. I told you that the LaRouchians monitor the Strauss list.

Best regards,

Kalev

Kalev,

Knowing your experience with the LaRouche people I though you might be interested in the following message -- it was posted to the leo-strauss list but I blocked it.
Lance

still writing from Tbilisi

Posted by: Robert Light at May 19, 2003 03:32 AM

There's a dark side to Strauss insofar as he believed that it's OK for the elite to trick the masses into going along with what the elite knows is best for them, like parents sometimes have to trick children. The Gramsci school of Marxism shares this belief, and that's a big part of the overlap. She's also a lawyer, so she can pretty much take a set of facts or a body of theory and make it mean anything she wants. I wouldn't call her a "loser", but she is a little strange.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at May 19, 2003 11:00 PM

Hey! Wasn't Leo Strauss the guy that invented blue jeans during the 1849 Gold Rush. Oh, sorry. That was Levi Strauss. Nevermind.

Posted by: Chris Howell at May 20, 2003 05:51 AM

I thought Levi-Strauss was that french anthropoligist dude. Wrote The Raw and the Cooked. Mmm, yummy.

Posted by: Robert Light at May 20, 2003 12:52 PM

"Deconstruction" ignores the plain meaning of a text and instead finds esoteric meanings by situating placing the text in obscure contexts known only to the deconstructor; Straussian esoteric analysis similarly ignores the plain (or exoteric) meaning of the text and finds esoteric meanings by situating the text in a recursive understanding of the author himself pulled more or less out of thin air:

THE FOOTNOTE: AN EXPLICATION DE TEXTE
by Judith Gran

In his “editor’s note” on page 22 of the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Gene Roddenberry finally addressed the question whether Kirk and Spock are lovers. The note apparently struck some fans, who read it superficially, as a gentle but explicit denial of the possibility of K/S. Yet a deeper reading completely undermines that interpretation. The footnote is constructed with deliberate ambiguity that leads the average reader into the hasty but unjustified conclusion that Kirk and Spock have not been lovers, while providing the more careful reader with clues that suggest the exact opposite.

Readers who are familiar with Leo Strauss’ *Persecution and the Art of Writing* and other works will recognize the approach I use here. Strauss found that the writings of al-Farabi, Spinoza, Machiavelli and other thinkers who expressed unpopular ideas on topics that were controversial in their times, such as the existence of God and the relation between religion and philosophy, required a minute textual exegesis. These philosophers tended to express their ideas on both an “exoteric” and an “esoteric”level of meaning: the first aimed at the average reader, the second at the more careful reader, who would be alerted to search for the meaning beneath the surface by certain deliberate ambiguities in the text.

As a challenge to prevailing orthodoxy, homosexual relationships were as controversial in 1979 as was the denial of religion in the age of Machiavelli. It is understandable that the producer of a mass audience TV show and film might be reluctant to state too directly that his most popular characters have had such a relationship. Does Roddenberry’s footnote contain different levels of meaning? Let us analyze it and see.

The text tells us that Spock thought of Kirk as his “t’hy’la,” a Vulcan word that, the editor’s note tells us, can mean “friend,” “brother” or “lover.” The editor then quotes verbatim a comment supplied to him by Kirk on “some speculation over whether they had actually indeed become lovers.” It is this comment of Kirk that is riddled with ambiguity and that requires analysis in detail. I will analyze it sentence by sentence.

“I WAS NEVER AWARE OF THIS LOVERS RUMOR.” Literally, all Kirk is saying here is that he was unaware of the *existence” of the rumor. Even if the facts referred to in the rumor were true, Kirk might simply have failed to encounter the rumor and thus might have been unaware that it was circulating. The sentence has the ring of ambiguity, however, an ambiguity that is compounded by Kirk’s use of several different verb tenses in this sentence and the next, a use of words that succeeds in totally confusing the reader and leaving her in doubt as to when Kirk was unaware of the rumor. He cannot have been unaware of the rumor at the time the editor asked him to comment on it, for he goes on to say, “ALTHOUGH I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT SPOCK ENCOUNTERED IT SEVERAL TIMES.”

Kirk could not have remained unaware of the rumor after having been told that Spock encountered it several times. The linking of these two clauses, therefore, and the parallel construction of the sentence (Kirk’s experience with the rumor vs. Spock’s experience with it) supports the conclusion that Kirk is discussing here only his own failure to encounter the rumor, rather than the truth or falsity of the rumor itself. Apparently, for some unspecified but definite period of time, Kirk remained unaware that the rumor was in circulation. This does not tell us, however, whether the rumor was true or false.

“APPARENTLY HE HAD ALWAYS DISMISSED IT WITH HIS CHARACTERISTIC LIFTING OF HIS RIGHT EYEBROW WHICH USUALLY CONNOTED SOME COMBINATION OF SURPRISE, DISBELIEF, AND/OR ANNOYANCE.”

Spock did not, apparently, deny the rumor when he encountered it. Neither did he confirm it, but simply remained silent and raised one eyebrow. Did he perhaps remain silent to avoid self-incrimination? We must not fall into such a hasty conclusion, for Kirk has supplied us with the tools to decode Spock’s raised eyebrow. Let us see what we can conclude from Kirk’s “code.”

According to Kirk, Spock could have meant: (a) surprise and disbelief; (b)surprise and annoyance; (c) surprise, disbelief and annoyance; (d) annoyance only; or (e) none of the above. Alternatives (a) and (c), since they include”disbelief” as an element of Spock’s reaction, suggest the untruth of the rumor, though not conclusively; alternatives (b), (d), and (e) are consistent with either a true or a false rumor. “Surprise” may mean no more than surprise at the existence of the rumor; “annoyance” may mean annoyance at a violation of Kirk’s and Spock’s privacy. Nor do these meanings exhaust the universe of possible meanings of Spock’s raised eyebrow (“usually”). Not only are we still in the dark about the truth of the rumor, but we do not even know how Spock felt when he encountered it.

“AS FOR MYSELF, ALTHOUGH I HAVE NO MORAL OR OTHER OBJECTIONS TO PHYSICAL LOVE IN ANY OF ITS MANY EARTHLY, ALIEN AND MIXED FORMS, I HAVE ALWAYS FOUND MY BEST GRATIFICATION IN THAT CREATURE WOMAN.”

This is the key sentence in Kirk’s comment, for it is here that Kirk defines his own sexual tastes and habits. At first glance, one can understand how the casual reader could interpret this sentence as a simple affirmation that Kirk makes love only with women. But this is not what the sentence says.

The key to the meaning of the sentence is th Vulcans to conceal his unwillingness to answer the simple question put to him.

Indeed, perhaps the most significant fact of all about the footnote is that when the “editor” asked Kirk a simple, straightforward question, he was rewarded, not with a simple, straightforward “yes” or “no,” but with a complicated 106-word statement that, when deciphered, manages completely to avoid a straight answer. Has Gene Roddenberry favored us with another example of James Kirk’s famous gift of the blarney?

But although Kirk has refused directly to answer Roddenberry’s question, he has supplied us with some definite statements nonetheless. Let us summarize the information provided in Kirk’s comment, the rest of the note, and the text.

(1) Spock encountered rumors that he and Kirk were lovers.
(2) Spock neither confirmed nor denied these rumors.
(3) Kirk has no moral or other objections of physical love in any form.
(4) Kirk’s most “gratifying” sexual encounters have been with women.
(5) Kirk has had sexual relations with someone who is not a woman.
(6) Kirk considers that woman sexual partners have the advantage over other sexual partners in the area of “gratification,” but not necessarily in other aspects of”physical love.”
(7) Kirk considers “love” much more important than “technique” in a sexual relationship.
(8) Spock calls Kirk by a Vulcan term that means “friend,” “brother,” or lover.”

I leave it to each individual reader to decide whether the weight of the evidence tends to support or deny the possibility of a K/S relationship.

Judith Gran
Dean, TrekSmut University Law School

Posted by: Richard Bennett at May 21, 2003 04:17 PM

Straussian esoteric analysis similarly ignores the plain (or exoteric) meaning of the text

No. I'd hardly say it "ignores" the exoteric (i.e. the public, or political teaching of an author). Have a look at Strauss's essay "Exoteric Teaching" in The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism (which I think is the best place to start, if any out there are interested, in first reading the primary stuff itself as opposed to a good secondary work like Zuckert's).

Besides, one doesn't have to be a Straussian and subscribe to "esotericism." One of my profs, Harry Neumann (a direct student of Strauss -- and of Karl Lowith and of Gadamer) makes absolutely no use of esotericism. But then the guy is an out-and-out nihilist, who has made himself an amusing nuisance, outing all these East Coast Straussians as "clueless nihilists" (i.e. they're nihilists but unaware of their nihilism). If you can get a copy, I highly recommend Neumann's book Liberalism where he lays this all out. Hard to find though.

Posted by: Robert Light at May 21, 2003 07:21 PM

Larouche . . . Ahhh the whiff of stale horse piss. I remember when, during Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign, they plastered the streets of Charlotte with posters proclaiming that Carter's election would bring nuclear war by 1980. I wish I had grabbed a few of them, if only for the camp value (or, as we say in AmeriKKKa, "kamp")

Yours in solidarity,

Comrade Bill

Posted by: Bill Peschel at May 22, 2003 09:57 PM

I've finally figured out who those wicked Straussians really are! check it out!!. Isn't that Harry Jaffa in that green suit?

(Oh, little wonder that this happened to be my absolute favorite show as a little kid - and those monsters scared the bejeezus out of me as the greatest incarnation of evil).

Posted by: Robert Light at May 24, 2003 09:48 PM
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TrekSmut University Law School

Posted by: Richard Bennett at May 21, 2003 04:17 PM

Straussian esoteric analysis similarly ignores the plain (or exoteric) meaning of the text

No. I'd hardly say it "ignores" the exoteric (i.e. the public, or political teaching of an author). Have a look at Strauss's essay "Exoteric Teaching" in The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism (which I think is the best place to start, if any out there are interested, in first reading the primary stuff itself as opposed to a good secondary work like Zuckert's).

Besides, one doesn't have to be a Straussian and subscribe to "esotericism." One of my profs, Harry Neumann (a direct student of Strauss -- and of Karl Lowith and of Gadamer) makes absolutely no use of esotericism. But then the guy is an out-and-out nihilist, who has made himself an amusing nuisance, outing all these East Coast Straussians as "clueless nihilists" (i.e. they're nihilists but unaware of their nihilism). If you can get a copy, I highly recommend Neumann's book Liberalism where he lays this all out. Hard to find though.

Posted by: Robert Light at May 21, 2003 07:21 PM

Larouche . . . Ahhh the whiff of stale horse piss. I remember when, during Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign, they plastered the streets of Charlotte with posters proclaiming that Carter's election would bring nuclear war by 1980. I wish I had grabbed a few of them, if only for the camp value (or, as we say in AmeriKKKa, "kamp")

Yours in solidarity,

Comrade Bill

Posted by: Bill Peschel at May 22, 2003 09:57 PM

I've finally figured out who those wicked Straussians really are! check it out!!. Isn't that Harry Jaffa in that green suit?

(Oh, little wonder that this happened to be my absolute favorite show as a little kid - and those monsters scared the bejeezus out of me as the greatest incarnation of evil).

Posted by: Robert Light at May 24, 2003 09:48 PM
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