[lit-ideas] Fw: Applied Philosophy: Apriori Conditions of the Rant

  • From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 11 May 2008 16:00:50 -0500

----- Original Message ----- From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2008 4:00 PM
Subject: Re: Applied Philosophy: Apriori Conditions of the Rant

Thanks to Walter for being a good sport and not coming back at me angrily. His image:

"I will say that I have at
times stood in front of my mirror in the privacy of my wash closet, in the
absence of any and all family members, friends and pets, and with very hesitant
and faltering steps, attempted to rant."

brought to mind one of my favorite William Carlos Williams' poems "Danse Russe". And since it's Sunday, I send it:

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees, --
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely,
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades, --

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?


And yes, ranting can be great fun, but if your going to seriously compete you must forgo all thought.
Remember that GRE question:

Thought is to ranting as [  ]

  a. cold water is to an erection
  b. money is to integrity
  c. alcohol is to your liver
  d. all of the above.

Mike Geary

----- Original Message ----- From: <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>; "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2008 1:38 PM
Subject: Re: Applied Philosophy: Apriori Conditions of the Rant

Confession: Recently, I have been secretly envious of those people who possess
the ability, as well as the willingness and courage, to rant - to rant in
public, I should add, unless of course the publicity condition is already
internal to the nature of the rant as a distinct speech act. (I clearly betray
my ignorance of the practice here .... of which more below.)

At meetings, I'll sit there listening to some administrator
and think to myself:

"Wow! That must really feel great."

And my hypothesis is almost always corroborated by the ranter's look of deep satisfaction and pleasure upon the end of the proffered soliloquy. And there is something almost sublime about the silence that typically follows a really good rant. .......... As if, we all recognized in the depths of our very souls, and
this jointly and collectively, that we were in the hallowed presence
of something .... something deeply archetypal about the nature of Dasein and the
moral dignity of rationally autonomous humanity itself.

Continuing on in this Augustinian communicative mode, I will say that I have at times stood in front of my mirror in the privacy of my wash closet, in the absence of any and all family members, friends and pets, and with very hesitant
and faltering steps, attempted to rant. I pretend that the imaginary
interlocutor in the mirror was some nutty Aristotelian, like Richard Bernstein, Richard Rorty, Gadamer, Tugendhat or Charles Taylor. And, man, would I give it
to him! Straight from the hip; no holds barred.

At the end of such rants, I, too, experience a deep sense of pleasure and
satisfaction. It's almost orgasmic, but no cigar. I do believe the language game of the rant possesses definite phylogenic survival value on criteria of both natural and sexual selection. The activity itself, however, is quite strenuous and I always raise a sweat. A cool, refreshing shower and I'm fit as
a fiddle for the day's encounters with ranting students, colleagues,
administrators, irate publishers ...  even the meter maid at the mall.

But what I remain somewhat unclear on are the constitutive rules governing this language game. Can you say just anything that happens to pop into your mind at the time of the rant? Is it constitutive or only regulative that you provide no justification for the conclusions ranted? (Is the term really only a noun and
not a verb?)

One final consideration, if I may. My abilities at
Habermasian reconstructive science suggest that the deployment of profanity is an apriori condition of a rant. Or am I being somewhat ethnocentric here? How do Russians rant? Do the English EVER rant? Is Don Cherry the regulative ideal for ranters universally or is the validity of his rant relative to conceptions
of the authentic life current only in highly rural and isolated Canadian

I eagerly await answers and further instruction from the phrantimoi amongst us.

Walter O.
Yes, it's snowing as I speak. (But we have lobster to die for!)

Quoting Mike Geary <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>:

> 1. Human reason should not be reduced to instrumental reason.

You're right.  I should be reduced to belief.  At least that's what I

> Reason can identify morally worthy ends,

No it can't, belief can though.

>ends possessing their own
> intrinsic value, independent of consequentialist considerations.

Yeah, right.  Like it's intrinsically wrong to lie -- even to save the
feelings of a fellow human being, truth is the intrinsic value. Hell, it's even wrong intrinsically to lie to save your lives of your loved ones -- a
lie is a lie.  Yeah, right.

> 2. I doubt that Aristotle intended to identify emotions with virtues.

Who cares? Aristotle had his life with all it's Platonic and other Greek
baggage -- concepts of virtue are what we derive out of our personal
histories --  I get tired of saying this -- there are no transcendental
truths telling one what is virtuous, only the individual's struggle with his

own acquired beliefs derived from his own personal history as they are
opposed to or conjoined with the beliefs of the the larger culture in which
she finds herself immersed.  Aristotle schmaristole.

> I've always appreciated the example of paying my taxes. Regardless of
> whether I
> wish, want, desire, to pay my taxes, I have an obligation, I believe, > to
> do so.

Do you have an obligation to pay taxes that go to support an illegal,
unjust, immoral war? Or do you have an obligation not to do so. Is it more

important that schools be kept open, roads be built or that innocent people
not be blown apart?  Hard questions.  What do your transcendental truths
tell you? Is it more important to go to jail for refusing to pay your taxes

to support an immoral war or should you pay them and stay a voice within the

community opposing the war, or pay them and keep your family out of
impoverishment? What do transcendental truths tell us about such decision? Nothing. But I'll tell you what my life tells me. It's a fucking jungle out there and you have nothing to go on but your gut, which is you and your history. I knew people who felt obliged to call the FBI and tell them that they were refusing to register with the Draft during Vietnam because they believed the war was so horribly wrong. They all went to jail. I admired them but took the middle road of working the system, just as Cheney did and Rumsfeld, and Bush, and Wolfowitz and Feith and how many millions of others who could afford it -- was it the honest, honorable, transcendental thing to

stay and work within the system and try to change it, or to own up to the fact that to do so was as dishonest as hell and therefore to turn yourself
in to the State as an authentic human being?  Transcendentally, I would
guess the latter, though that's only a guess, and to me that's almost a
selfish choice. Is it not more noble to stay out there in the world and pay

that price with the pangs of conscience?  Loss of revenue but not paying
taxes are nothing compared to the guilt of paying the goddam blood-drenched
taxes, it could be argued.  Paying the price of opposition, how doe the
scales of transcendentalism weigh that? I lost two teaching jobs preaching against the war, but I didn't care. I hated teaching. I wanted to teach my

kids not to come to school.  This is a nefarious institution, I came so
close to saying. It exists to make you subservient workers. It wants to teach you to die for rich people. Burn the schools down. These places are
full of death, physically and spiritually and emotionally.  What you'll
replace them with will probably be worse, but these institutions exist in
opposition to your best interest.  At least take control of them.

I never said that, but I certainly thought it. Schools are expedient ways
of committing evil culture-wide -- that's the only transcendental truth,
I'll admit to.  They're also our only hope.

Mike Geary
on a rant
in Memphis.

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