February 7, 2014

"Actually, the Althouse animagus scared the crap out of me this morning..."

"... with the rant on [Stephen] King and the intelligent bow to Tyler Cowen who rejects the push-button of good v. evil stories for his preferred superior push-button of having a higher IQ, superior to schmucks frozen in hell with lower IQ’s. The higher IQ test (the end-all criterion for the real hot smarties) juxtaposed against the raw animalistic gaia rant really scared me – until I saw what I felt (I may be wrong about this) was the point, er the two points, er the three points, (I can’t count higher than three, so I must stop here) – expressing palpable bitchery (that had to feel primally good) to provoke exactly the binary good v. evil reaction that Cowen criticizes – whether Cowen is right or wrong is not the issue, because simple rightness or wrongness is not the test – when it’s not the test."

That's just part of what Naked Surfer said in the ice cave a few hours ago. You can't surf naked on Lake Superior, even when you're feeling superior, especially when its frozen, but I appreciate Naked Surfer's effort to understand what was going on here on the Althouse blog at 4:52 in the morning, when I accepted Stephen King's apology and grabbed his abandoned but unforgettable phrase "Palpable Bitchery" for my very own.


Ann Althouse said...

(I corrected the spelling of "Cowen" in the quote.)

John Constantius said...


FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Do not lick the cave.

traditionalguy said...

The age when the human gift of wisdom reaches the intelligence level seems to be 63. We now get to enjoy LaAlthouse's mind in its completeness.

Anonymous said...

I Realize That Opinions are Like Dirty Guilty Precious Succulent Secrets -- Everyone is Ripe with Them -- But I Have Become Weary of the Casual One-Word Dismissives, Even More so When it Really Isn't Even a Word To Begin With. As such, I File "Eh' with "Sigh" and All its Flaccid Monosyllabic Kin: the Graffiti form of Criticism, a Quick Scribbly Line from a Black Spray-paint Can that Simply Says 'I Was Here' or -- at Best -- 'I Don't Like This Wall'. If I Don't Like the Wall I'll Ask Mr. Gorbachev to Tear it Down; If I Don't Like the Wallpaper I Will Tell You Why I Don't Like the Wallpaper, Such as it Reminds me of the Upstairs Room of That House Down the Block When I Was a Child, Where the Free Candy Offered There, in Retrospect, Was So Not Worth It. Paint More Walls, Naked Surfer: Paint More Walls.

David53 said...

I appreciate Naked Surfer's effort to understand...

Really? You appreciate his effort to understand?

Palpable Bitchery, yes!

Ambrose said...

Was "Animagus" one of those Marx Brothers movies?

Titus said...

The opening cermony in Russia is totally fucking gay. Sailors are currently dancing-jazz runs for days.

Titus said...

I am in love with the #1 rated male russian pair figure skater who plays jesus in their long program. The female is hot too. My mom said 87% of Russia hates gays.....

hair and eyes are fucking to die for.

virgil xenophon said...

First Betamax3000, now Naked Surfer. All things come in threes, n'cest-ce pas? Just when will a third genius of stream-of-consciousness verbal dexterity hove on the scene at AAs place to regale us with, along with the aforementioned dynamic duo, his uniquely original mental and verbal abilities--almost poetic-like written equivalents of the most ephemeral object d'art? The mind palpably boggles at the exquisite mental tension of anticipatory prospect..

Anonymous said...

@ Virgil

Thank You. The Key to Effortless is to Grind Out the Effort. I Do Not Know How Althouse Does It: a Great Eye for the Corners of Interest, Incisive, Sideways, Ten Years and Running. I Get Exhausted with Sporadic Commenting and Then She has Already Moved On. Call This Palpable Admiration.

Anonymous said...

My Mask Slipped Off for a Moment: More Foil and Duct Tape.

Anonymous said...

I Constantly Check eBay for One of Althouse's Baby Teeth But I Have Yet to Find One: This Interferes with My Plans.

Anonymous said...

I am Obsessed with Baby Teeth. You Have Them and Then They are Gone, Little White Chiclets Left Under a Pillow and Sold to a Fairy for a Quarter. What Other Parts of the Body are Planned to Fall off in your Youth: Heart? Spleen? Nipples? I Would Keep My Baby Nipples in a Jar, labeled with Dyno-Tape.

Anonymous said...

Adults Still With Their Baby Teeth, Tiny Little Niblet Smiles, Afraid to Eat an Apple, a Word with too Many 'P's Makes a Bicuspid Fly Loose; Molars the Size of a Tic-Tac.

Anonymous said...

My Baby Skull Didn't Fall off so My Adult Brain is Cramped; if I Sneeze My Eyes Will Pop Out. Don't Ask Me About My Baby Testicles, That is Why I Never Sit Down.

Carl Pham said...

You better check with Mr. King's lawyers. "Palpable Bitchery" sounds like a character in a novel -- or in a James Bond movie, but fortunately Cubby Broccoli is long dead -- and maybe King's already got copyright on it. Be sure to palpate your inbox daily for DMCA takedowns.

Oh Miss Bitchery? Be a good girl and fetch the coffee in here while we talk. I'll have my regular, of course, and Mr. King takes his with cream and sugar....Stephen, now watch this -- you have got to love the way her ass moves when she stalks away angrily in those heels...pure poetry, huh?

Saint Croix said...

Surfer's post was both brilliant and hilarious.

(My lesson for the day: don't skip Althouse threads, I'll miss out!)

One way to think about the argument is that Cowen is simply saying to his audience, "be open-minded, not close-minded." We even adopt this language as short-hand for the smart and the stupid. "I'm open-minded, you close-minded Republican!" It's a (liberal) claim of superiority.

And of course it's nice hanging out with open-minded people. This is why Althouse is often such a fun hostess, right? She's a classic liberal.

But we can see too how the classic liberal can be annoying. (Not Althouse, never!) Cowen frames his argument in terms of superiority. You can be 10 IQ points higher! Overnight. The overnight part is funny but the silent superiority of the non-judging liberal is annoying. Cowen is inviting you to have this silent and unshakable belief that you are now 10 IQ points higher than the rest of humanity.

Now I'm thinking of H.G. Wells and the division of humanity in The Time Machine. Jonah Goldberg actually quoted Wells for the title of his book, Liberal Fascism. So that's one take on where this philosophy might take you.

Note how this argument is negating one important principle in classic liberalism, the equality of humanity. You're denying the importance of morality, of right-and-wrong, while simultaneously claiming your intellectual superiority. It's almost like the argument is evil or something.

I know, I know! Obviously I have not abandoned my right-or-wrong dogma and I am stuck in the mire of the lower I.Q. class!

Saint Croix said...

Many Republicans are like, what the hell are you talking about? The non-judging liberal? Where is this extinct beast?

At Althouse, dummy! You've been watching MSNBC too long.

Saint Croix said...

I was actually going to hijack a cafe thread to return to this argument, so I'm so glad Surfer and Althouse brought it back.

It can be quote good for an artist to open up his mind. For instance, actors love to play the bad guy. It frees them up to play the bad guy. You now have permission to give into your repressed impulses. Let your id run around!

So that's how you play the bad guy, by finding some badness in yourself, and identifying with the person you are playing. And you can't think about it, or judge it. You have to turn off that part of your brain, like a switch.

In the context of creating art, we can see how Cowen's argument is quite helpful. We often need to open our minds and try to identify with other people. These are good things.

But we also see dangers in what Cowen is saying. In particular, "10 IQ points higher" jumped out at me, and "right away" and "push button." (Not exact quotes, but that's the gist). I might not have jumped all over his comment if he had said "better artist" and left it at that.

You can't actually create art with a closed mind, at least in my experience. Not good art, anyway.

On the other hand, you have to make judgments, too. Judgments about "good" and "bad." As a writer you have to edit your own work.

Take out the shit, liberals. You can just let your shit sit their on the sofa, in non-judgmental fashion, afraid to complain about how that shit really does stink up the place. Judge the shit, liberals!

(Now I have to decide if that raunchy paragraph is funny, or should be removed. Decisions, decisions).

In pop psychology there is the Myers-Briggs test, with the J and the P (the judging and the perceiving). Cowen is telling his audience to be a P if you want to be an artist. But he's also saying, 10 IQ points higher. The pop psychologists would tell him that perceiving is not superior to judging. The pop psychologists are masters of the non-judgment. Bow at the feet of the pop psychologists, Cowen, you 10 IQ point superior weenie!

Saint Croix said...

You see this argument in Christianity, by the way. One of the arguments in Timothy Keller's awesome and provocative book, The Prodigal God, is that Jesus is suggesting that the right-or-wrong paradigm can lead to sin.

We should not say that you will become a 10 morality point higher Christian by reading Keller. Ha.

But there are times when the right-or-wrong paradigm might lead you astray. Anyway, that's Keller's argument.

Think about a fight with your spouse, as you are arguing and you want to prove you are right and they are wrong. Letting go of right-and-wrong might be an excellent choice there, and thinking of love-without-judgment instead.

It's an awesome parable and a mind-blowing and provocative book. I write in the margins a lot in my copy of Keller, arguing with the guy. But I enjoy very much what he has to say.

Bob Ellison said...


rhhardin said...

I'm surprised that Jesus didn't say more about Bayes' theorem.

Saint Croix said...

I'm surprised that Jesus didn't say more about Bayes' theorem.

Sure, Jesus could tell us to vote for Romney in 2012, to balance our budget, to stop killing the unborn. He could warn us about Karl Marx, and give us a cure for cancer. Jesus could do all of that. But he did not.

Suppose, just suppose, that you were God. Would you focus on tax policy? Would you attempt to explain the universe to humanity? "Here's how you build an airplane."

We imagine God doing all this stuff, if we imagine God as a super-hero.

Now think about what Jesus actually said, his actual focus. He doesn't seem to care at all about this world, about our politics, our economics, our science, all the material stuff. Says nothing about slavery. Doesn't talk about infanticide or the baby-killing practices of the Romans.

And yet he's here, claiming to be God, talking and talking and talking. What is his focus? Our immortal souls.

Do you think God is worried about the babies who are killed? Not at all. Not one bit. The babies are with God. Death means nothing to God. Even things like cancer, torture, rape, name your evil. It's a drop in the bucket to God.

God is worried about you, and your soul, and me and my soul. That is his focus.

Naked Surfer said...

Whoa. I cannot do this right now. But I cannot not respond because (I think I’m walking into my death) ....

... You can't surf naked on Lake Superior, even when you're feeling superior, especially when its frozen, but I appreciate Naked Surfer's effort to understand ...

Here’s the real deal in miserably simple and poverty-stricken prose. “Word-smyth gods, help me, I implore!”

That gaia rant really did scare me. What scared me is the palpable lie that I’m the real Naked Surfer because the real naked surfers are the Meades (sp?) and Althouses of this world who use their real names (out there naked for the world to see) while surfing and when telling honest emotions.

I am the lie. You are the truth - when you’re telling the truth, nakedly. I know the tropes. And how these things can be inverted. The problem with my naked surfing is the problem whether I am – affected – (not whether I’m having an effect) – whether I am affected by any of the stories at the Althouse madhouse. And I felt some sort of real truth hit me here – palpably hit me – from that post with the whole Stephen King-Althouse – thing. But, I wasn’t sure what hit me! The problem with surfing naked in anonymity instead of using my real name is the problem in the Dylan song – “some people don’t live or die, some people just float.” I could float here in anonymity and never live or die – never be affected .

Something about the story of the Wellesley women and the sleep walker bothered me because my shallow sarcasm of response blinded me – for a moment – to putting myself in their feelings and feeling the validity or multiple-validities of their complaints about the underwear man. I was, indeed, floating on my superiority of shallow sarcasm on my frozen Lake Superior and not really listening.

Can I be affected by their experience? Can I learn? I’m all groggy-eyed with that question, when I come here for some sympathy, but hell-on-fire, never mind whether I can learn from Wellesley women, who needs them, when Althouse is here to make palpable bitchery be felt? Do I really want to feel it now?

I loved the acceptance of the King apology. Real news to me. A feel good affect.

Naked truth is that I used to pray when I watched the Little Mermaid with my little daughter, I prayed silently that my daughter would never sell her voice for any prince. That is naked truth. Twenty years later she is a grad student telling me that she will kill me if I don’t watch Kill Bill , because my daughter is now “the most powerful woman in the world.” My prayer was answered, but I can’t get her to shut up now.

Cheers to the real naked surfers of the world - using real names.

The rest of us liars have our own problems. And my daughter will kill me if I don’t quit whoring around here, because something about Beatrix Kiddo will make herself palpably felt – and it could be the last feeling a man ever has.