A Week of Reading: 7-13 October 2012

From Phillip Rhinehart, Zeteo Assistant Editor

7 October 2012

Editorial spin, an exercise; or how to make bigotry palatable with continual reference to a Chuck Bartels article:

Samples from the original:

Arkansas Republicans tried to distance themselves Saturday from a Republican state representative’s assertion that slavery was a “blessing in disguise” and a Republican state House candidate who advocates deporting all Muslims.

Fuqua, who served in the Arkansas House from 1996 to 1998, wrote in his 2012 book God’s Law that there is “no solution to the Muslim problem short of expelling all followers of the religion from the United States.”

Hubbard wrote in his 2009 self-published book Letters To The Editor: Confessions Of A Frustrated Conservative that “the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise.” He also wrote that African-Americans were better off than they would have been had they not been captured and shipped to the United States.

And their respective “enhancements”:

Two sages of the Arkansas State Legislature have made indispensable contributions to the commendatory tasks of guiding civilization toward Utopia and promulgating the gospel of an ineluctable optimism.

The March to the End of History advanced, in no small part, by the expulsion of all those whose devotions belong to a deity of finite but non-denumerable appellations, as logically concluded by Fuqua per transcendent deduction from God’s (plus son, minus sobriquets) Laws.

Hubbard undertakes the dismantling of a most pernicious pessimism, etiology of all unrighteous indignation, via the panglossian theory of history in his most recently published Pensées.

Practiced prose lightens blows
Satyr lipsticks swine
Now sow with stud, brawny beaus
Everything with time –Panurge

 8 October 2012

Non-editorial advice from the editor:

In a word, simplify, so as not to exhaust either yourself or me.  In its purest form, a “Zeteo is Reading” week can be done, and done well, without the least bit of comment from the author, the excerpts will speak for themselves and will tell us a lot about the author as well.  This does not mean there shouldn’t be comments, but, again, keep it simple. –William Eaton

Simplicity is an ever-elusive virtue. Contentment at having made its acquaintance is frustrated by the inevitable recognition that it was only complexity adeptly affecting its sibling’s spartan mannerisms. As my rendezvous with simplicity is, ostensibly, forever precluded, William’s correspondence reminds me that honest attempts are all that can be asked of anyone.

9 October 2012

A Rothko mural at Tate Modern has been called upon to serve a higher cause: the noble (and certainly novel) cause of Yellowism. Brief descriptions of the movement from co-founder, Vladimir Umanets:

It’s not art, it’s not reality, it’s just Yellowism. It can’t be presented in a gallery of art, it can be presented only in a Yellowistic chambers.

The main difference between Yellowism and art is that in art you have got freedom of interpretation, in Yellowism you don’t have freedom of interpretation, everything is about Yellowism, that’s it.

The fascinating thing about Yellowism–forsooth, the supremely fascinating thing about  anything–isn’t that it is as such, but that it could have been otherwise. What compelled the singling out of a color, and the color yellow at that, from the plenum of concepts? Could Umanets have brought himself to act so temerariously in the name of Bluism or Penguinism? Do we choose our daemons, or do they emerge of their own accord, whimsically suggestive, only to become irresistibly compelling?

10 October 2012

Yahoo! Answers is the go-to place for airing one’s teleological anxieties. The pivotal question: What is the point of life? And a certain Diane Wallace’s thought-provoking reply:

Honestly, we’re past our due date . . . our expiration date is on the horizon. Nature did a great job of making a successful species, we made it. We beat the odds with guile and guts. It took thousands of years, during which we battled the elements and other species in a fight for survival. We won. It must have been glorious. To have lived during that period when life really mattered. We had purpose and life had real meaning. Man had a real sense of community. We needed each other, we didn’t have time to sit around and worry about our problems. Life was simple. Today you ate or you starved. All that is over now. Now we lounge around wondering what life is all about. We have time , time to think about all our problems. Nature did not create us for this, so we flounder. All those millions of hardy souls that worked so hard for so long so that we could mope around and feel sorry for ourselves. There ought to be a big bronze statue somewhere to salute these heroes but you won’t find one. . . . We’re at the end now of a glorious run, and like so often happens in life, the end is unpleasant and painful.

Has a decadent civilization dulled the points of humanity’s lives down to a refulgent frictionless surface? Then history would be a matter of who, not what, happens next. The spirit awaits the coming of the rough ones, those who sharpen.

11 Octber 2012

Why do I feel compelled to make a “Zeteo is Reading” post everyday? Couldn’t I just skip a day or post any old thing and be done with it? Won’t do, won’t do. It has to be quaint; and the concomitant comment has to be clever. And why should I be so consumed with keeping up the appearance of cleverness? Ben Pridmore, author of How to be Clever (lulu.com, 2011) knows the terrible truth:

What’s the benefit of being thought of as clever if I’m not?

There are many, many benefits! The main one is that if people think you’re clever, they’ll think you’re right when you express an opinion. They’ll assume you know what you’re talking about on any subject, even if you’ve never shown any knowledge about it before.They’ll even assume you’re good at your job, however totally incompetent you might be. Believe me, it’s a great thing to have a reputation as a clever person.

13 October 2012 

This is the end beu-ti-ful friend. I shirked the habit for a day, but have returned to figuratively load this week’s worth of bilge onto the barge and give it the proper sendoff into digital perpetuity. From the infinite vexations of Prince Saurau:

All the things people say are said only in monologues, the prince said. ‘We are in an age of monologues. The art of the monologue is also far higher than the the art of the dialogue,’ he said. ‘But monologues are just as pointless as dialogues, although in a way much less pointless. Whenever you engaged in a dialogue with another person (with yourself!) because otherwise you are suddenly afraid of suffocating, you must be prepared for his doing his utmost to undercut you. That can be done in the subtlest, the most elaborate, but also the nastiest manner. Whenever people talk they undercut one another. The art of conversation is the art of undercutting, and the art of monologue is the most horrible kind of undercutting. I always think,’ the prince said, ‘that my interlocutor is trying to push me down into his own abyss after I have just barely managed to escape from my own abyss. Your interlocutors try to push you into as many abysses as possible simultaneously. All interlocutors are always mutually pushing one another into all abysses.’ -Thomas Bernhard, Gargoyles

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