68

The best athlete
wants his opponent at his best. 
The best general
enters the mind of his enemy. 
The best businessman
serves the communal good. 
The best leader
follows the will of the people.

All of them embody 
the virtue of non-competition. 
Not that they don't love to compete,
but they do it in the spirit of play. 
In this they are like children
and in harmony with the Tao. 

—tao te ching (#)

Philosophy Is A Drinking Game

Or, Desiring Wisdom

*A virtual lecture for The Human Situation in this time of plague, on Plato’s Symposium from the Introduction through the speech of Pausanias

I’m not coming to you in video this time (next time, I promise!), but I still have video clips of course. Let us begin with one of three songs about love that all good Houstonians and/or Indie Rock fans are bound to love. Please watch Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love.”

Why this song? I will tell you in a second. First things first, I’m going to tell you my goal in this lecture/essay: to complicate your own, personal definition of love. I hope to do this by begging you to pay careful attention to each of the speeches in the text, not just the big showstoppers at the end. There are many definitions of love in this text, and each of them is worthy of deep consideration. This is my argument: you need to take each of these seriously, or you will miss a lot. This argument is, in some respects, a bad model for you, because the counter-argument it refutes is entirely extratextual: you, the Human Situation student, do not in fact take these early speeches seriously. Between all the discussion sections and papers and final oral exams and random conversations, I think a conservative estimate is that 80% of that time has been spent by students talking about Aristophanes and Socrates. And look, this is fine! These are really great speeches, possibly the two most important things ever said about love outside of 1a. Adam & Eve & 1b. Jesus (at least in the Western tradition).

Continue reading Philosophy Is A Drinking Game

In a Pandemic, We Need Democratic Deliberation More Than Ever

As our plague year lengthens–we are but halfway through and already the toll of American dead is 200,000–it becomes ever clearer that COVID-19 is not just a threat to our lives and health, but to our democratic institutions as well. What these often have in common is the attempt to muzzle the political bedrock of our deliberative democracy: public debate of public policy.

Continue reading In a Pandemic, We Need Democratic Deliberation More Than Ever

Coming and Going: Misrecognition and Identity in Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge”

Professor Richard A. Garner
The Human Situation, April 15th, 2020

Outline

I. The Best Title in All of Literature

II. Misery Like a Coastal Shelf

III. The Injury of Intelligence, the Insult of an Education

A. Intelligence is a curse

B. A Martyr to the Desire of the Other; or, that St. Sebastian Painting One More Time

C. The Terror of Identity; or, Meeting Yourself Coming and Going

Continue reading Coming and Going: Misrecognition and Identity in Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge”

It is a testament of the complexity of the cultural politics of the time that one of the seminal pieces of literary modernism could be influenced by Maurassian misogynistic and antiromantic ideology, while being structured around literary symbolism and stream-of-consciousness techniques that were inspired by Maurras’s enemy, Bergson.

“Henri Bergson, Celebrity”