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Loki Modnarsson

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About Loki Modnarsson

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    TGL Student
  • Birthday 01/26/1986

Loki Modnarsson's Activity

  1. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic What Do *You* Want From Philosophy?   

    Philosopher: the curious one, the one who delights in learning, ever the child, eager and hungry for the world...
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  2. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Critique of Political Theory   

    Dear Philosophy,

    Firstly, I must congratulate you for your diligent, disciplined endeavour: you have written a week what most people never manage to force themselves to write down in a month.

    Secondly, I must apologise if any of my critiques of the critique sound harsh. I am as guilty of the sins I am about to denounce as you are, if not more. (The Gospel teaching "la paille et la poutre" is somewhat relevant there.)

    And now for the comments on the piece itself.

    Generally, I found your writing hampered by your reading. In the body-analogy, one could feel Plato cramping up your hand. (Presumably you were thinking of his nous, thymos and epithymia trichotomy.) Most of the critique followed your (admirably, laudably wide) readings, but too closely. The essay as a whole lacked, I feel, personality, individuality. It is best I think, to use your own style rather than the Cartesian or Kantian style - or rather Philosophy doing Philosophy will be superior to Philosophy doing Descartes and Philosophy doing Kant. Use your own voice and ideas, and do not rely on the authorities of others: what you say has as much weight as what Plato says.
    There was something about your critique which was strangely hybrid: neither a wholy personal development of idea, nor a close reading of various works. Like your preface, it will strike a reader as a lack of confidence - and why should you, Philosophy, lack confidence? Speak like a king, and not a beggar. You have things to say, say them loudly, shout, say "I, I, I" and hide not from your reader the shape of your thought behind a pile of names.

    A second problem I felt was probably due more to the lack of time than anything. Much of your essay has an unprecise quality. As a mathematician for example, I found your mathematical example on the unboundedness of the natural numbers inaccurate or weak. More time I feel should be spent sharpening the edges of your writing, making sure that all is said in an effective manner.

    "for they have not seen such, for the idea was proposed, and was declined" is confusing, ineffective.

    The head of state as "head" but not "source" of happiness was beautiful and effective

    One of my greater faults is my tendency to use too many words. too many adjectives, and I feel in you a fellow sufferer of that disease. Economy of means, and a concern for the necessity of the words one uses are amongst the difficult literary and philosophical virtues most difficult to acquire.

    Lastly, and this, perhaps is the greatest problem, the looseness I noted in your words seems to be reflected in your ideas. You use words like "peace, equality, justice" without worrying about what they mean, without helping the reader see what it is you see in them.

    Is equality logical equality, equivalence or something else, like an equal dignity as a human being: you are white, I am black. We are not equal, for we have different characteristics. Yet I will look upon you and you on me with the same, equal respect. I will recognise in you a human being, and treat you as being equal in humanity to me... ?

    There are also your grand, flamboyant assertions:

    "That is to say, in a fantastic society such as this philosophocracy, the idealisms of equality, justice, and liberty are warranted by its reasoning and logical foundations and, therefore, there should be no slave who is unwillingly forced to perform tasks for the philosopher-king. "

    How is it warranted? Are you sure equality, justice and liberty are compatible? Why should no slave disobey?


    "Reasons in logic shall shine upon the political head of state and gives him the truth of philosophy as a tool for him to govern his people in a phenomenal fashion that which cannot be comprehended by most men"

    You have not explained how it shall shine, you have not explained what truth of philosophy you are speaking of: your read feels his is a vulgar mind, like the common man you deride, the man who cannot comprehend.

    If I say these things, it is not that I am an ennemy of the ideas you advance. Indeed I have more than some sympathy for some of them (Is my fate not tied to France, that land of utopian exaltation and dreamers?)
    It is only that a reader faced with your essay will either not understand your ideas, or not see any justification for them in your writings.

    When it comes to the ideas I must mention the fact that you seem to be misreading Aristotle's too famous "man is...", and that your essay suggests a belief in a manichean world of Logic, Truth &Philosophy on the one side, Ignorance & Logical Fallacies on the other. This black/white divide lacks in subtlety. Moreover, your vision of Tao as the way forward (to ataraxia and beyond!) needs more explanation and defense: it is presented as crede, unappealing to the unbeliever.
    Finally, your description of utopia lacks somewhat in restraint. You are speaking of what you see as utopia; heaping enthusiasm and adjectives on it will make the reader smile and enjoy this lyrical passage in your essay. However, it has little philosophical worth because of its vagueness. Details are necessary here - your utopia has structure and justifications, it must not be Pepperland. Rather than state how wonderful the utopists are, explain their routine, the way they are educated, what laws they live under... something like Rabelais's description of the Abbey of Thelemes would be optimal.

    I do not want however to end on this critical note. I must congratulate you on your fine effort, and on your first production. Some rewriting needs to be done, perhaps, but the writing is there, the will to think and write, and that is precious and praiseworthy.

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  3. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Books one should buy,books one should acquire by other means   

    Yes, I have it seems changed horses in the middle of the stream...

    What I would like to know is what works, what great works do we value? Of all the innumerable works we have produced and published, which ones do we see as deserving to be preserve? Which one should we save if all others were to perish?

    The spaceship analogy should then be reworked as follows. The earth is about to be destroyed, and there is no escape for mankind, no planet within the reach of our ships and lifetimes. We could conjecture a comet, hurtling through space, or a change of orbit of the earth, an inversion of the magnetic poles, some great and sudden catastrophe.

    A few months before the inevitable end, it is decided to send into space a sample of man's works and achievements, so that the memory of man should live on when all men are dead, so that the universe would not forget our brief existence. What works should be sent then?

    These works would be sent out, without knowing whether they would ever be read or not, and if so by whom? (I do not know if people are familiar with Borges' Secret Miracle, in which he has this wonderful sentence:

    "He did not work [...] for God, of whose literary preferences he possessed scant knowledge..."

    It is a conception of literature as an apology, a vindication, which holds great charms for me.)

    What should they be?
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  4. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic All right, what do YOU want to talk about?   

    The symbolists had it right:

    Art for art's sake, and so with literature. Its function is to be beautiful - that is, to be such an object as to move those who behold it. Literature needs no other justification then itself.

    Justifications of literature are thus justified only by their literary quality. Artaud's is quite beautiful: for him art was nothing less than escape from hell. Some have tried to give moral or material justifications for literature, and I despise them. (The word "despise" is, perhaps, an exaggeration - I am not very good at despising people. Such views, though, would deserve an effort on my part, some small sacrifice for literature's sake...) To them I prefer those who like Anatole France have maintained that the purpose of literature was to remind us of the beauty of life and the world, which I feel is truer.

    Art, as it was defined by Kant, moves the observer. Literature, beyond this duty to create emotion, is not to be chained. And if it moves not, it is not literature.
    One can think of literature as a second creation, a fashioning of red earth and a man. If the man is alive then, the litterateur may be called author. If the man is stillborn, dumb earth, a mute and solemn golem... the Koran condemns its maker to eternal fires, for he has created an inanimate image of life.
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  5. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic All right, what do YOU want to talk about?   

    La question reste d'actualite...
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  6. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Making a book   

    It is a rather large and impressive number
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  7. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Herman Hesses Siddharta   

    Hard to say who deserves the Nobel prize when Borges failed to receive it. I agree with you, though, Hesse is quite cool.

    I have not read Siddharta (I own a copy of it somewhere, and have skimmed through the beginning) but am under the impression it may not be H double H's greatest work.

    The Glass Bead Game has been called Hesse's magnum opus, and there is sense in that. His Steppenwolf, and his Narcisse and Goldmund are also quite beautiful. I feel however that his novellas are unjustly neglected, particularly his Voyage to the Orient and Knulp .

    Hesse's qualities seem well-suited for this form, as intermediate between his admirable novels, and (to my taste) rather unexceptional short stories...
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  8. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Making a book   

    Oh, and do you have any thoughts on my posts in the Creative Writing forum?

    [Another rather silent place... enfin, si la parole est d'argent, le silence est d'or...]
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  9. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Making a book   

    Fair enough - it gets lonely though in the Literature forum...

    [Loki hears the echo of his own voice...]

    Any ideas as to how this forum could be livened up slightly?
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  10. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Making a book   

    Dear David,

    Best of luck for the publication of your novel. As an aspiring writer myself, I am very interested by your experience - it sounds like a minor Greek tragedy, but without the Catharsis. Do you think you could expound on it?

    Having written a novel, how does one set about to seek publication?
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  11. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Stanislav Lem   

    Hugo, are you familiar with this passage of Borges?

    A man sets himself the task of portraying the world. Through the years, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments,stars, horses, and people. Shortly before his death he discovers that his patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his face...

    PS This is the Harold Morland translation of the end of the epilogue to Dreamtigers. I have read a possibly worthier translation somewhere else, but cannot remember the relevant name.
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  12. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic What Do *You* Want From Philosophy?   

    There is no embarassment to be had (there are too many good books in the world, more than could be read... I would need to read some Heidegger myself and Wittgenstein myself...)

    I hesitate to describe Castalia and the Glass Bead Game. On the one hand, I am worried I would not do justice to them, on the other hand I am afraid to spoil them for anyone who does intend to read the Glass Bead Game.

    And so, for the purposes of this discussion, I will just say that the dwellers of the province of Castalia give themselves up to a life of intellectual pursuits without any real distraction, and are the keepers of culture. The glass bead game, played in Castalia, requires a formidable knowledge of world culture and the ability to play with and associate concept as diverse as Chinese poetry, hyperbolic trigonometry, and the mysticism of, say, Angelius Silesius. These are all represented by coloured beads, which must be moved and arragent in a harmonious whole, revealing the profound unity of human endeavour...

    [This is how I remember the glass bead game, but I may be very much mistaken, so if anyone else has read the novel and would care to give a more precise or succinct definition of the game, that would be great.]

    To speak more would be to spoil, I suspect...
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  13. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Books one should buy,books one should acquire by other means   

    Sounds interesting, and vaguely surrealistic. I approve wholeheartedly

    Should we draw up a list of, say, twenty essential books?

    Let us imagine that the earth is about to be destroyed, A spaceship is sent out just before the catastrophe. Onboard will be a man, Volodin, a woman, Lilith, many useful tools, food supplies, starmaps, etc... and twenty books.

    [This figure likely to be revised upwards if too many people come up with too many good ideas]

    What books should be taken on board? Name a book you feel is essential, and justify its presence in the ship.

    [What are man's great literary, scientific and philosophical achievements published in book form?]
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  14. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Inherit the Wind   

    How much time is spent debating whether psychology is valid or moral?
    None whatsoever, and to the great benefit of the study of psychology, or so I feel.
    Evolutionary theory partisans are fuelling needlessly a debate that impedes research and reflexion into the consequences of evolution.
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  15. Loki Modnarsson added a post in a topic Inherit the Wind   

    Thanks for your post Volodin. I have gone to the Wedge, and been much amused by it.

    (I have decided to be amused by it, In such matters, tears, anger, disbelief and laughter are so close that it becomes hard to tell one from another.)

    It is perhaps a matter of my own prejudices, but I struggle to take the Wedge seriously as a whole because of its parts, and in its part because of its whole.
    They are radical, probably dangerous, and need to be fought, but not, I feel in a negative manner. Bashing upon them does not serve any useful purpose. As the play we are nominally discussing seems to outline, reason and ridicule will also force the wedges deeper into more radical, more defensive, angrier stances.

    One must, faced with such a bleak lot, come up with positive ideologies. That is moral systems within the evolutionary framework. This, is the duty of talented agnostic philosophers such as yourself, dear Volodin

    And so, with these caveats, I think you may understand my objections to the attention given to creationism. Gandhi's lessons here are of some use, I feel. Given the quasi-imperial domination of the creationists/bigots over large segments of the public opinion, evolution theorists must answer softly. This, by politely ignoring the wedgers and their attention-seeking behaviour, and by getting on and saying reasonable thing and doing useful and enlightening research.

    Too much time has been wasted in a fruitless war over creationism.
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