Tuesday, June 25, 2019

“Come — let us reason!” Or “discuss,” if you’d rather.

Wup — the incomparable folks at Blue Heron have cheerfully added to my night-table.
“Carrot”? Sez you!
Truthfully, Mr. Heinrichs’s book has been there for a while now. I keep meaning to delve into his bag of rhetorical tricks — which should have been a natural draw for the last two years. Alas, the cover makes the book look like work. Good luck competing with flashier covers — to say nothing of comic books.

Maybe there’s no point to it. Richard Geuss argues that liberal faith in “discussion” as a means of persuasion is misplaced. Quote:
Discussions, even discussions that take place under reasonably favorable conditions, are not necessarily enlightening, clarifying or conducive to fostering consensus. In fact, they just as often foster polemics, and generate further bitterness, rancor and division. Just think of Brexit. I get along with most people better the less I know about what they really think and feel. Anyone who has had any experience of discussions in the real world knows that they can get nowhere and peter out, they can cause people to become even more confused than they were at the outset and that they can lead to the hardening of opinion and the formation of increasingly rigid and impenetrable fronts between different parties. The longer and more intense the discussion, the worse it can get.
It’s a heady and entertaining piece, with lots of name-dropping and sound-biting. I couldn’t recall encountering Geuss before this piece, so I did the summary internet search. He seems to favour Hegel over Kant, for those who keep track of such things. I no longer have the mental stamina to read something like his “little book” from 1980 — but this survey looks snappy. I might just pick it up after I finish Alan Jacobs’ book.

Yup — that Alan Jacobs.

In April of last year I posted that link to my FB feed, with the caveat:
“[*deep sigh*] Why the hesitancy to post? Some reluctance to identify with Jacobs, whose opinions I often disagree with. Reluctance to identify as this sort of Christian  a reluctance to identify as any sort of Christian, frankly. To be even more candid, I am also not a little envious  of his output, abilities, audience(s), public recognition, etc. 
Scrub away some of the envy, though, and I admire Jacobs' spirit, his intellectual ethic, even his appeal. And anyone who loves Jacques Ellul is someone with whom I share significant common cause.”
I’ve been meaning to dig a bit into Jacobs’ off-line output. The Year Of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism In An Age Of Crisis is curious to me for the people Jacobs assembles — particularly Simone Weil, whom I do not claim to comprehend but who nevertheless is a compelling person in David and daughter Kate Cayley’s radio portrait, Enlightened By Love. This shouldn’t be difficult to finish.

Finally, there is Erik DavisHigh Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience In The Seventies. I get quite a kick out of Davis, and have been anticipating this book for some time. But I have to admit — I feel a little uneasy going in. He chiefly profiles three figures — mushroom man Terrence McKenna, the now omnipresent Philip K. Dick, and Robert Anton Wilson. I’m up for it, but RAW gives me pause, because . . . well, Crowley. I’m not sure if I take Crowley too seriously, or not seriously enough. Both, probably. Here are some earlier thoughts I’ve had about the man.

Also related: here is a podcast interview Davis had with Gary Lachman, discussing Lachman’s book Dark Star Rising: Magick & Power In The Age Of Trump. Lachman makes pointed note of how American Evangelicals have adopted, without the slightest alteration, the rhetoric of Chaos Magicians. And no, that’s not “nuthin’ up my sleeve” magic we’re talking about — that’s “summoning things that (IMMO*) should not be summoned” magick.

Hey, we’re back to rhetoric. Maybe I’ll crack open that book by Heinrichs after all. Heinrichs . . . Mennonite name, no?

*IMMO: “In My Mennonite Opinion

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