The new Yet Another Really Great Blog links to a recent speechby the Rene Girard scholar Gil Bailie in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, an event which gave "those sitting in safe, dry living rooms a rudimentary anthropological lesson in cultural fragility."
In the supermarkets, we see the same trick: products that seem to be packaged for the express purpose of conveying awful quality. Supermarkets will often produce an own-brand “value” range, displaying crude designs that don’t vary whether the product is lemonade or bread or baked beans. It wouldn’t cost much to hire a good designer and print more attractive logos. But that would defeat the object: the packaging is carefully designed to put off customers who are willing to pay more. Even customers who would be willing to pay five times as much for a bottle of lemonade will buy the bargain product unless the supermarket makes some effort to discourage them. So, like the lack of tables in standard-class railway carriages and the uncomfortable seats in airport lounges, the ugly packaging of “value” products is designed to make sure that snooty customers self-target price increases on themselves.
As in other contexts, it's hard to cheat an honest, unpretentious person. On the other hand, we like those artistic sketched-fruit labels, on the cunningly-shaped jam jars. And they're only a dollar more.
We'll read anything by David Berlinski. Quirky, profound, literate and learned.
...the science that replaced astrology—Newton's science of mechanics—and
astrology itself, although differing very considerably in intellectual
power, nonetheless share a strong family resemblance—the same strong
bones, wide-set eyes, and slightly goofy expression. What I found most
interesting about astrology as a failed science is that in some sense
it lives on despite its official and widely-noted death rattle.
Astrological forms of thought are present in biology, a most
astrological endeavor, and even in contemporary mathematical physics
itself. Astrology has always been a magical discipline inasmuch as it
has always been committed to some form of action at a distance, the
very mark of magical thinking. Magical thinking has not disappeared
from modern science: It has simply been disguised by a brilliantly
effective mathematical screen. Where the screen is thinnest, as in
molecular biology, the magic is still very notable.
Beyond this, the problems that the astrologers faced had the quality of
great depth—action at a distance, free will, causes that incline but do
not compel; and the men and women struggling to meet these problems
evoke a sense of shared sympathy...
His new book, researched with his Berkeley-classicist son, is based on primary sources in Greek, Latin, French, German, and English. They had a little help with the Arabic.
We'll be heard from only intermittently through the 20th or so of August. [Update: Or as Betsy's Page has it: "go cold turkey on the internet and live as our ancestors lived in the olden days."] Big Family Party, the first anniversary of a small academic wedding last summer, thus functionally, The Wedding Reception.
New camera with memory card, pressed linen duds, hair fluffed, nails manicured, drinks ordered. Mature and deliberate festivity in the 21st century, to which we're still surprised to wake up.
Tidewater Virginia, followed by the Delaware Shore. [We notice UD is on her way to Rehobeth, the playground of those poor souls living D.C.-and-environs rather than Austin. We've been based there too, and frankly...] Can't beat the East Coast for Old House-Big Ocean Good Times, though.