Roundup of being in a good mood. Also TK/B/B revised: Happy Nice Bureaucrat Edition

1. The bureaucratic nightmares referenced in my last post have turned out to be less painful — mainly because my department has a wonderful, glorious, goddesslike benevolent administrator who cuts through red tape like a hot knife through wack-ass suckas (chosen only because the singular rhymes with “butter” in the cliche and I wanted to sound gangsta, not because I actually have a violent streak). She is my canon lawyer for the Stanford bureaucracy.

Hmm… I feel like I need to replace the old TK/B/B with a new, happier, pro-administrator who cuts through the bureaucracy TK/B/B. Only, really, there isn’t much pro-administrator stuff in Kafka, Borges or Byron. I suppose I could use one of those bits from the trial where Josef K thinks his lawyer can actually help. But that’s too double-edged — it would suggest that I feel like Winston Smith in some way, that I expect to get a bullet in the back of the head just as I become reconciled to Big Stanford Bureaucracy. Right. This’ll have to leave the K/B/B turn. Hmm… let’s see… damn. Most of what I really love is cynical. Yeats perhaps? No, that’s ridiculous.

Ooooh. I know just the thing. YES. For the giver of a great boon in defiance of the gods:

Who reigns? There was the Heaven and Earth at first,
And Light and Love; then Saturn, from whose throne
Time fell, an envious shadow: such the state
Of the earth’s primal spirits beneath his sway,
As the calm joy of flowers and living leaves
Before the wind or sun has withered them
And semivital worms; but he refused
The birthright of their being, knowledge, power,
The skill which wields the elements, the thought
Which pierces this dim universe like light,
Self-empire, and the majesty of love;
For thirst of which they fainted. Then Prometheus
Gave wisdom, which is strength, to Jupiter,
And with this law alone, “Let man be free,”
Clothed him with the dominion of wide Heaven.
To know nor faith, nor love, nor law; to be
Omnipotent but friendless is to reign;
And Jove now reigned; for on the race of man
First famine, and then toil, and then disease,
Strife, wounds, and ghastly death unseen before,
Fell; and the unseasonable seasons drove
With alternating shafts of frost and fire,
Their shelterless, pale tribes to mountain caves:
And in their desert hearts fierce wants he sent,
And mad disquietudes, and shadows idle
Of unreal good, which levied mutual war,
So ruining the lair wherein they raged.
Prometheus saw, and waked the legioned hopes
Which sleep within folded Elysian flowers,
Nepenthe, Moly, Amaranth, fadeless blooms,
That they might hide with thin and rainbow wings
The shape of Death; and Love he sent to bind
The disunited tendrils of that vine
Which bears the wine of life, the human heart;
And he tamed fire which, like some beast of prey,
Most terrible, but lovely, played beneath
The frown of man; and tortured to his will
Iron and gold, the slaves and signs of power,
And gems and poisons, and all subtlest forms
Hidden beneath the mountains and the waves.
He gave man speech, and speech created thought,
Which is the measure of the universe;
And Science struck the thrones of earth and heaven,
Which shook, but fell not; and the harmonious mind
Poured itself forth in all-prophetic song;
And music lifted up the listening spirit
Until it walked, exempt from mortal care,
Godlike, o’er the clear billows of sweet sound;
And human hands first mimicked and then mocked,
With moulded limbs more lovely than its own,
The human form, till marble grew divine;
And mothers, gazing, drank the love men see
Reflected in their race, behold, and perish.
He told the hidden power of herbs and springs,
And Disease drank and slept. Death grew like sleep.
He taught the implicated orbits woven
Of the wide-wandering stars; and how the sun
Changes his lair, and by what secret spell
The pale moon is transformed, when her broad eye
Gazes not on the interlunar sea:
He taught to rule, as life directs the limbs,
The tempest-wingèd chariots of the Ocean,
And the Celt knew the Indian. Cities then
Were built, and through their snow-like columns flowed
The warm winds, and the azure aether shone,
And the blue sea and shadowy hills were seen.
Such, the alleviations of his state,
Prometheus gave to man, for which he hangs
Withering in destined pain: but who rains down
Evil, the immedicable plague, which, while
Man looks on his creation like a God
And sees that it is glorious, drives him on,
The wreck of his own will, the scorn of earth,
The outcast, the abandoned, the alone?
Not Jove: while yet his frown shook Heaven, ay, when
His adversary from adamantine chains
Cursed him, he trembled like a slave. Declare
Who is his master? Is he too a slave?

Shelley, Prometheus Unbound, of course, act 2 scn. 4. I’m glad the grad students in my department have a Prometheus.

2. Larry Solum has a new version of Semantic Originalism up. This is good, because I’ve really really been meaning to comment on it — on the old version, that is — and now I’m no longer way behind in doing so.

3. I endorse every single thing Comrade PhysioProf says about Hitchens, down to the smallest detail.

4. Interesting remarks from the Chicago law faculty blog about the evolutionary biology of disgust in relation to stupid people who oppose gay rights, etc. Unfortunately, the blogger doesn’t really suggest any actual thesis… Martha Nussbaum appears in the comments.

5. Per Larry Solum, Waldron has posted a paper on democratic jurisprudence which is now at the absolute top of my must-read list.

6. Slightly old now, Phoebe chimes in on the chorus of people, including myself, objecting to the obscene exploitation of unpaid internships. see also.

7. For those of you who fly a lot, you might be interested in the wisdom of the internets on finding fares. One really good tip seems to be that the site that feeds all the obnoxious competing sites is ITA Software, and they seem to have a broader range of flights — at least, I found a much better schedule, for a much lower flight, for a planned trip, on that site than I did on orbitz. Of course, now I have to figure out how to book it, which one can’t do from the ITA site.


13 Responses to “Roundup of being in a good mood. Also TK/B/B revised: Happy Nice Bureaucrat Edition”

  1. Paul Gowder Says:

    I suppose I could have just used Byron’s Prometheus… but I like that passage from Shelley’s lots and lots.

  2. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    Thanks for another fucking link, dude!

  3. Paul Gowder Says:

    Hah, word. You seem to be my most regular commenter.

  4. Daniel Goldberg Says:

    Hey — some of us are faithful readers, but can’t comment because every time we want to comment, it would turn into this massive, verbose comment that would be better served by being hosted on a personal blog, except we don’t maintain personal blogs . . .

    Not that I know anyone like that.

  5. Paul Gowder Says:

    Daniel, you are forgiven. However, for the record, I approve of massive, verbose comments. Especially from smart, interesting people like you.

  6. Daniel Says:

    Flattery will get you everywhere. One thing that does astonish me is the breadth of your reading. As an interdisciplinarian and a lifetime generalist, I consider myself quite well-read, but your geekiness may surpass even mine. (That is a compliment).

  7. Paul Gowder Says:

    Speaking of flattery getting one everywhere! Though I think my geekiness conceals large gaps… I’m terribly with languages, for example, so I’m shamefully monolingual.

  8. Daniel Says:

    Sadly, so am I. My efforts to learn Japanese are so embarrassingly slow it’s painful to even admit I’m trying. I spoke Hebrew about 20 years ago, but have lost almost everything. No Renaissance man am I.

  9. Paul Gowder Says:

    I find that the initial investment in learning a language is so high (hours upon hours upon hours upon hours of memorizing vocabulary and grammar, plus practice) that, even though the cost is decreasing as one advances, I’ve never made it over that hump. For me, it’s a combination of bad character (impatience) and lack of capital (as measured in time). One day, I’m going to do an immersion program, which seems the most pleasant way (combine travel and cultural cosmopolitanism with your learning? And do it extra-quick? OK!), and at least pick up Spanish, French, or German, but finding the time and money for that so far has been hard.

    (hmm… maybe I can find someone to give me a grant to do that this summer? I could tell them I need to be able to read Kant in the original…)

    Hey. Daniel. Wanna reform with me? I’ll investigate language immersion grants and programs if you will…

  10. Daniel Says:

    Agreed all the way around. I too am terribly impatient, and just don’t seem to prioritize language acquisition enough to invest the significant time.

    Immersion is the only way to really do it, but sadly, even this robs me of any excuse, because the wife is Japanese and I spend at least 10 days per annum in Japan, where I could do nothing but speak Japanese if I wanted. Instead, I rely on the fact that most urban dwellers in Japan speak excellent English.

    *hangs head in shame*

  11. Paul Gowder Says:

    Out of curiosity, how much have you picked up just from those incidental trips? I’d expect this would promote a surprisingly large vocabulary just by osmosis, but that’s just sheer intuition.

  12. Daniel Goldberg Says:

    Bits and pieces only . . .

  13. Uncommon Priors » TK/B/B: Scheduled Fire-Stealing Edition Says:

    [...] For no better reason than because I like this poem, and because I needed to preschedule a TK/B/B for New Orleans, Byron’s Prometheus. Which, come to think of it, I actually like rather better than Shelley’s version. [...]

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