A Terrible Blogger is Born!

June 12, 2010

Pabst Blue Ribbon, Man!

Filed under: Drugs,Personal — rmangum @ 11:00 pm
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So I’m about two weeks late on this but, whatever, this isn’t a news site. I wanted to add my own little R.I.P. for Dennis Hopper. First, I must admit that¬† though I’m not immune to its virtues, I’m not that big a fan of Easy Rider. But for Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, and River’s Edge, Hopper belongs in the late-20th century Pantheon of iconic actors. Dig Jesse Walker’s Reason retrospective, which reveals that Hopper was already a Republican by 1980.

I should also confess that I had a freaky nightmare a few years back which “starred” Hopper as the leader of a Manson-like killer hippie-cult. Sorry for the typecasting, Mr. Hopper.

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February 26, 2010

Terrible Twittering

Filed under: Personal — rmangum @ 5:09 am

I’ve been trying to stick to 1-2 posts per week, but the work and school schedule doesn’t seem to be permitting it lately. Every day I think of ideas for posts, but I don’t think I can devote the energy to developing them. So I’ve decided to start a twitter account for the shorter things I’d like to say. For a couple of years I’ve toyed with the idea of writing aphorisms and short philosophical poems, in the tradition of Nietzsche, Lao Tzu, Heraclitus, Ambrose Bierce, E.M. Cioran, and so on, under a pseudonym. This isn’t quite that, but I’d like to get some practice in condensed communication as a trial run. If you’re on twitter, you can follow me @manraygun.

Sample tweet: “Thomas Paine was a corset-maker, a pirate, and a tax-collector before he became a revolutionary. Only the last job landed him in prison.”

P.S.- More posts on the way though, I promise.

February 4, 2010

Belated Terrible Blogging

Filed under: Anarchy,Literature,Personal,Philosophy,Uncategorized — rmangum @ 6:54 am

It’s been a rough year for me so far: starting school, looking for a new car, ignoring collection notices, battling my post-college football season depression, losing in chess to my brother, not drinking enough (I write best between two and four beers). And not wanting my dear dear opinions to dissipate into the blogospheric aether, I’ve set for myself a goal of two posts per week (one Song for Sunday and at least one other post during the week), but its been hard to stick to even that. So with that self-exculpatory preface noted, my apologies to anyone who cares. Now for a few brief updates:

Way overdue update on my bowl picks: I was just over 50 percent, with 17 right and 16 wrong. Good enough to try it again next year. I should note that some of my most confident picks (TCU, most notoriously) were the most wrong.

On two recent famous deaths: I read The Catcher in the Rye I think three times between ninth and tenth grade, and have not read it since. For some reason I was never impelled to read Salinger’s other published work, but my feeling is that he was really a one-hit wonder, like Ken Kesey, Chuck Palahniuk, and so many other American novelists. I’m not sure whether the book would hold up to a re-reading as an adult, either. A People’s History of the United States has long been on the top of my reading list, and since my live-in girlfriend (terrible phrase- sounds more like a job description rather than a relationship- but what am I going to call it since we have no state-sanctioned certificate?) owns a copy I have little excuse for not having read it. It always seems to happen that I discover an artist’s work right after they die, which has happened to me with John Fahey (2001) and William S. Burroughs (1997).

A few words on a book recently read: Crispin Sartwell’s Against the State has two main flaws as I that I can see. Its subtitle is An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory, which might lead one to think that it contains summaries and analysis of actual historical anarchist ideas, thinkers, schools, and controversies. Syndcalism, egoism, Christian pacifism; individualism versus social anarchism; whether anarcho-capitalism is genuine anarchism; how Proudhon was a sexist and Stirner was crazy- that sort of stuff. Instead Sartwell devotes the bulk of his book to a refutation of philosophic claims for state legitimacy, and a short section in the end giving an adumbration of the kind of anarchism he would like to see in the future (promising development of his ideas in a future book). Now this is a very minor flaw, since there are certainly other books devoted to historical and contemporary anarchism, but few that engage in academic political discourse in the way that this one does. This is a step toward anarchy being taken seriously. This leads to more serious flaw, which is that Sartwell admirably takes on the titans of political philosophy: Locke, Hume, Bentham,¬† Hegel, Rousseau, Hobbes, Nozick, and Rawls, just for starters. Yet he devotes less than 100 pages to this task. Mystics and idolators of state power Rousseau and Hegel are dismissed as presenting no real argument for legitimacy, and rightly so, but surely as lasting and widespread a theory as Hobbes’ deserves to be refuted in greater detail. Perhaps Sartwell is just that efficient. It’s hard for me to tell, since I happen to agree with every word, but I think a skeptic would want more.

Some ideas for upcoming posts: Since I’m taking all English classes, I have more literature than politics on the brain right now. But I have some notions of exploring the overlap, including Argentinian writer Jorge-Luis Borges as a conservative anarchist, and Jonathan Swift as both a proto-anarchist and a proto-totalitarian (so he was accused by George Orwell, referring specifically to book IV of Gulliver’s Travels). Expect possibly also some thoughts on Beowulf, William Blake, the Enlightenment and/versus Romanticism, Jane Austen, Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, Thomas More’s Utopia, Oscar Wilde, J.M. Coetzee, and so on.

Or maybe you won’t hear from me again until after finals.

January 22, 2010

Mid-January Miscellany

Filed under: Anarchy,Literature,Personal — rmangum @ 2:04 am
Tags: ,

The latest episode of Battleship Pretension is about Shakespeare movies. The unnamed listener who suggested the topic is none other than yours truly. I came away with some good recommendations (I still have not seen the Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet, and Prospero’s Books certainly seems intriguing), but was a bit disappointed that there was little mention of Kurosawa’s many films transposing Shakespeare into feudal Japan, and none of the greatest version of Macbeth on film, directed by Roman Polanski. And as an English major, I couldn’t help writhing in my seat as David tried to remember the name of the poet who wrote “things fall apart”, and the name of the poem it comes from. It’s William Butler Yeats, from “The Second Coming”, which is like, the most famous poem of the 20th century, after all that dreary stuff T.S. Eliot wrote.

The latest edition of the Entitled Opinions podcast is also about Shakespeare, though I have not listened to it yet.

And in local news, the latest episode of PRI’s Selected Shorts is a tribute to Wallace Stegner, who grew up in Salt Lake City and graduated from the University of Utah. Not only that, but it was performed live at our fine City Library. I’m not that familiar with Stegner’s work, but I wish I would have been able to catch that one, since the library is only a few blocks from my home.

Speaking of libraries and the U of U, one of the perks of being a college student again is having access to the University Library. I’ve been spending a lot of time there lately, reading Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (it’s about poop) and the beautiful Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf (the most awesome action movie of the middle ages). I happened to notice that they have a modest collection of books on anarchism (dwarfed, of course, by the collection devoted to Marxism, but quite ample compared to what the City Library has), and some modern libertarian books as well, including De Jasay and all three volumes of Chris Matthew Sciabarra’s Dialectics and Liberty trilogy. In my ambition, I have vowed to read the whole lot during my time at the University, and I have already begun with Crispin Sartwell‘s recent Against the State: an Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory.

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