The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Jaipur Literature Festival, day one

Jaipur has exported its writers' pow-wow over here to Boulder.

I found this out when I awakened late, was stymied from driving through my morning drive-through stop, so had to park in the city to walk up to that stop. In turn, finding free parking that late on Saturday morning proved a PITA. It was so bad that I felt I had to stay in town for a little longer - so, I got the cheapest burrito I could find and wandered into the library.

Turns out the Jaipur Literature Festival was there. I actually had no clue about this. I went, and what I found there turned out to be... better than I hoped. I'll have more on it later. But in the meantime, here are some first impressions:

Our local David Barsamian is a Chomskyite tool, but mostly just a tool. The talk he was moderating concerned groupthink. The speakers mainly challenged the leftist groupthink - or, at least, proposed that it should be challenged. Barsamian was most proud that he'd been banned from the world's largest democracy (a sneer at India) along with Greenpeace. Then the audience questions came up, of which there were four. The first three were by whites (there were no Indians on stage). The third, a female who sounded like a hippie to me, filibustered for about three minutes about, best I can tell, nothing. The fourth - at last - was an Indian. He gave us the Indian government's perspective, which is that Greenpeace were funded from overseas and so not an expression of Indians' interests in India - which, a democrat would think, would be best expressed by the Indians' elected representatives. Barsamian then closed the discussion without answering the question because oops, out of time. I repeat: Barsamian = tool. I will continue not listening to anything Barsamian says.

As an aside, the most interesting speaker at that table was "Molina Speaks". But even he had problems: I perceived early on ("microaggressions!") that he has a thin skin, and sees every slight as a Big Proof Of His Point. After the picoaggression talk with which he'd started his side of the discussion, he then noted how other Leftists dissed him because in 2010ish he'd gotten into musing about the tech singularity. It might even be true that he's right, at least as he presented his examples; but still - paranoia is a stinky cologne. I did appreciate, a little, that he would have the Left abandon the narrative of apocalypse - we are not headed to a Promised Land. I would have liked more discussion on how he'd avoid a "continual revolution" up to the Left Singularity; but I didn't think, then, to raise my hand about it. (I'd not have had time to get an answer anyway, as told above.)

I did above express some sympathy with the Indian people. But I don't share this sympathy with Hindu believers. I must report from this conference that, for a start, Hindus don't grok this Western "science" thing. One Indian audience-member said that Indic traditions had passed down "scientific knowledge". In another talk an Indian was talking about the "science" of yoga. I caught a whiff of Forbidden Archaeology from at least the former. To compare with Muslim mystics, at their most obscurantist - even they don't pretend that their faith-claims are Science!!; such Muslims instead claim, more honestly (if debatably), that in Islam science cannot exist outside the revealed Word of God.

The schedule fell out that around 5:15 PM the talks weren't about meta-literature but about specific books various presenters had written. For this I basked in the power of die Casey Schwartz - who had written about psychoanalysis versus neuroscience. It turned out that psychoanalysis isn't a science and neuroscience is. This is where the Indians popped in to claim that so's yoga. (I admired Schwartz's politeness; I'd not have been able to replicate this, as you know.) This is also where I asked my only question of any presenter in the whole event - which was, I admit, a "troll", to get Ms Schwartz to say "psychoanalysis is not a science" outright or at least in as many words. And she did! Anyway nobody defended Freud. However she did offer that a Nobel Prize Laureate (in the sub-science of memory) had stated that some of Freud's terms might well re-enter neuroscience, as useful shorthand for what neuroscience had been finding out. I was wondering later if this might happen for political reasons, but then realised I didn't care; it might just be to stay in dialogue with the Freud-influenced literature of the twentieth-century. Overall: may the Schwartz be with us.

For the Counter-Currents readers amongst us, yes; I did have my copy of Kevin MacDonald's Culture of Critique out on my laptop. For those other readers amongst us, MacDonald is a psychologist and a sociologist; and Culture deals in part with trends in these disciplines, which have failed as science but have succeeded in weakening the scientific disciplines in university. Mostly the book tries to prove TEH JOOZ' influence in such pseudosciences, and why they got into them. But I saw no need to bring up this book - just yet. Maybe Ms Schwartz will consider it in a sequel. I admit some personal interest in rebutting the overall thesis - especially since MacDonald has been vindicated (narrowly) with respect to the fraudulence of Freud (and of Adorno). But hey, all that's for another day.

I sat in on two talks where Simon Montefiore and William Dalrymple each gave talks; one with both. Both speakers seem to rest within the European Classical Liberalism. In America I think the closest analogue is "neo-conservatism". Montefiore dared here to praise the neocons by name; and he stated he wants open borders, FREE STUFF!! (medical-care), intervention in the Near East and a hard line on Iran. As for the space-programme... screw it. I don't know Dalrymple's domestic views (because he didn't challenge Montefiore here) but he wants detente with Iran. I invoke a pox on both but mostly on Montefiore. Given the antiscientific bent of the native Jaipuri Hindus (and Muslims), at least we can say he wasn't in the wrong place...

In that first talk, the Barsamian Left was represented by Kai Bird, who writes at The Nation. He said something interesting - quit supporting Egypt, the Sauds, and Israel. The other two had already noted that Obama's regime is not supporting these villains; we're now supporting Iran, or moving toward that. So policy-wise Bird is arguing against, well, nobody; he's arguing against straw. More so I caught a whiff of "let the Russians do what they want". I am old enough to remember when this was a consistent The Nation position. I'll not say that a pro-Kremlin stance is wrong, these days. But I will wonder if that party-line, again, has been bought.


posted by Zimri on 20:47 | link | 0 comments

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