BREAKING: Aristotle's apes in action!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 23, 2018

Rational animals ride:
In the past two days, Aristotle's hominids have been riding—at times, their conduct has almost resembled night-riding—all over the countryside.

That said, we just watched Anderson Cooper's interview with Lanny Davis from CNN last night. We're not sure we've ever seen a more embarrassing TV performance than the one Davis offered.

For now, we'll stress just one point. Davis confirmed that Michael Cohen is not claiming that Donald J. Trump had prior knowledge of the now-famous Trump Tower meeting with the Russkie lawyer.

Repeat: Is not claiming that Donald J. Trump had prior knowledge.

The contrary claim took the apes by storm not too long ago. A lot of the tribal excitement emanated from CNN. We'll recommend this embarrassing report by Mediaite, with a link to Axios.

Mainly, though, Davis' presentation as he spoke with Cooper went well beyond The Planet of the Awful and the Embarrassing. You can read the transcript here. We were glad that Aristotle wasn't present, here on earth, to see this pitiful effort by this latest ridiculous lawyer.

As of two days ago, we've all been flown to the planet of Aristotle's apes. We'll encounter few rational animals there. You can expect to be trapped on that planet for a good long time now.

24 comments:

  1. Must we mind-read Somerby? What did he find embarrassing about Davis' performance?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be fair, Davis seemed completely exhausted all day. His interview with Katy Tur didn't make much sense either. The more she pressed, the more he contradicted himself.

      Delete
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  2. Let's try to deconstruct Somerby:

    1. He refers to "Aristotle's apes." Harari was the one talking about apes, not Aristotle (in Somerby's previous columns). Aristotle conceived of a hierarchy of relatedness of species, similar to that of later evolutionists, with apes part of that hierarchy. Aristotle differentiated man from apes and called man a rational animal. In contrast, apes were not. I suspect that Somerby is being ironic here. He intends to refer to man but characterizes man as an ape, denigrating our reasoning ability and appends that to Aristotle's possessive to show that man's unreason is an affront to Aristotle's high regard. Aristotle didn't expect as much from apes as from man, so it makes no sense to consider that Somerby is actually talking about Aristotle's view of apes here.

    2. Rational animals ride. As near as I can tell, there has been no discussion of riding in previous posts here, nor does Harari talk about riding, nor does Aristotle. So Somerby is introducing riding himself. Saying that rational animals ride, both denigrates reason by appending it to animal, but implies it is what a smart or rational being would do, an accomplishment.

    3. Somerby equates riding with conduct. Now he uses "riding" to refer to behavior, as in riding roughshod. But Somerby takes that further and introduces "night riding" which refers to violence committed against African Americans in the South by armed bands of men formed for that purpose. This is clearly bad behavior, the worst. A second possible meaning for riding, comes from Phyllis riding Aristotle. Phyllis rode upon Aristotle's back as a dominatrix in order to demonstrate that women can ride on men despite men's superior reason. It is a metaphor for women's ability to control men sexually. It is unclear whether Somerby meant this consciously or unconsciously, since he has not talked about women before in this post, but this meaning is consistent with other attitudes toward women expressed in previous posts.

    4. Because of the juxtaposition between the first paragraph and the discussion of Anderson Cooper, it seems that the comments about riding behavior, however construed, are meant to apply to Anderson Cooper's behavior.

    More to follow...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Deconstructing Somerby -- Part 2

    1. Somerby calls Cooper's performance embarrassing. It is not clear who the performance was embarrassing to -- Somerby or Cooper. It seems unlikely, from his behavior, that Cooper was embarrassed, so Somerby is most likely saying that Cooper should be embarrassed, or that he is embarrassed on Cooper's behalf.

    2. The next two paragraphs confirm a single fact about what Lanny Davis said to Cooper. The repetition provides emphasis, as does Somerby's italics for the word not. This is clearly a fact that Somerby wishes readers to pay attention to.

    3. Apes are taken by storm. This clearly does not refer to actual apes but appears to be a derogatory allusion to people as unreasoning animals, apes. Somerby belittles those people by calling them apes, most likely because they were taken by storm (e.g., excited, upset, in a flurry) by knowledge contrary to what Davis said to Cooper in the past. Somerby says that some of the apes were on CNN or that some of the information came from CNN (unclear which). He links to example of such an ape (or such information).

    4. Somerby makes an allusion to the movie in which apes behave like rational human beings, Planet of the Apes. It is unclear whether he means to mock the apes or the humans via this reference, but inclusion of the words Awful and Embarrassing in the title makes it clear that he is ridiculing the behavior of Davis (who he references specifically).

    5. Somerby says he is glad Aristotle is not present, so we discover finally that it is Aristotle who should be embarrassed. Why? Aristotle did not engage in the behavior, so most likely Somerby thinks Aristotle's embarrassment should arise from the lack of reason evidenced by apelike behavior.

    6. A point of confusion arises here because initially Somerby states that Anderson Cooper's performance was embarrassing but now he has switched to calling Lanny Davis's performance embarrassing. Presumably they are both now embarrassing -- to Aristotle or to themselves or to Somerby? Unclear.

    More to follow...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Deconstructing Somerby -- Part 3

    1. In the final paragraph Somerby tells us that we have all been flown to the Planet of the Apes. When humans visited that planet, they did not themselves become apes and the apes were intelligent, rational. So, whether we stay human and visit that planet or turn into apes by visiting it (as Somerby suggests), we stay rational. This literary device then doesn't quite work once the Planet of the Apes reference is introduced. Everyone in those films was rational by Aristotle's standards. However, Somerby throws in the word animals here. Maybe he is only talking about animals now, making the distinction between animals and apes that Aristotle made. In the films, the apes were rational. So this is confusing.

    2. Somerby says we are all going to be trapped on that planet. Since this is a literary reference, it is clear he is referring to our own planet and is back to calling humans apes again. Aristotle's embarrassing apes would have been a better conclusion, except that Aristotle expected far less from apes than from humanity.

    So, this is what reading Somerby is like. Deadrat claims I do not understand Somerby, but how can anyone understand this nearly stream-of-consciousness stringing together of vaguely literary allusions? Somerby needs to say what he means more clearly.

    Is Davis being blamed because he has contradicted previous reports (like that linked)? Is that his embarrassment? What did Cooper do wrong? All we are left with is a strongly negative report that both men performed badly (so badly they are compared with Jim Crow violence) but the mild term embarrassing is used. What is Somerby's beef? Does he not understand that new knowledge emerges (that's why such news is called current events and not history) and that the new info is sometimes different than the older info? How is that anyone's fault, especially the interviewer?

    The negative tone is the most obvious part of this, and we readers are as much abused by Somerby as those he discusses (Cooper and Davis). What did we do wrong here? Are we wrong automatically because we are the current embodiment of Harari's evolved species? Did any of us ask to be born? Do we have original ape sin now?

    I think the use of the term night rider in this casual way is highly offensive to those of us who know what it means. it is worse because Somerby is a Southerner and should know better. It is another example of his casual reference to the Jewish yellow stars of the holocaust, a reference he threw in, a similar non-sequitur, last week. I find myself wondering whether Somerby is expressing some suppressed hostility toward these groups (Jews, blacks) or is using a dog-whistle to alt-Right in the same manner as Trump and his ilk have been doing. It isn't something anyone sensitive to civil rights would do, anyone vaguely liberal. This is why I find myself horrified at Somerby's recent writing. Maybe he is just seeking attention, but maybe he is losing his front lobe ability to censor what is socially inappropriate. Or maybe he is joining the Bill Maher bandwagon, and thinks any use of emotionally loaded symbolism is A-OK because anything goes in comedy (and blogging -- this is clearly NOT comedy). I hope it isn't a sign of the loosening of frontal lobe control that occurs with dementia and Alzheimer's, since those would be serious health problems that I wouldn't wish on anyone. But again, nothing is clear about Somerby's writing today except that he dislikes (1) us, readers, liberals, humanity; (2) Cooper; (3) Davis; (4) maybe Aristotle, not sure.

    End of deconstruction

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous on August 23, 2018 at 7:03 PM,

      I think you’ve over-thought a metaphor that TDH has under-thought.

      1.1 I think you’re mostly right here. TDH is denigrating our reasoning ability, or at least the reasoning ability of one of Anderson Cooper’s guests. I’d guess that when TDH says “we’ve all been flown to the planet of Aristotle’s apes,” he’s making a reference to the film The Planet of the Apes in which human astronauts land on a planet where apes have evolved to be the smarter, dominant species. But we’re not on the planet of the film; we’re on the one dominated by non-rational apes. This reference is confusingly ironic (or perhaps it’s ironically confusing) since as I recall, the planet in the film turn out to be earth. (I’m a little at a disadvantage here since I’ve never seen the film.)

      1.2 Rational animals ride. Well, yes, but TDH says it’s “Aristotle’s hominids” who are doing the riding. Are these the rational hominids or the irrational? I can’t tell. In any case, this is likely a reference to the film. Don’t the Planet’s apes ride horses?

      1.3 Somerby equates riding with conduct. Yes, marauding, in particular. The reference to night riding is inapt. Whatever the apes on cable shows are doing, they’re not committing physical violence. I don’t see how Phyllis and Aristotle come into this.

      1.4 Comments apply to Anderson Cooper. Not what TDH says in this blog entry. His scorn is reserved for Davis.

      2.1 Somerby calls Cooper's performance embarrassing. No, he calls Davis’ performance embarrassing.

      2.2 single fact about what Lanny Davis said Yep, CNN reported that Cohen could implicate Trump in foreknowledge of the Trump Tower meeting. Davis shot that down. This is a favorite theme — bad reporting on “the chase.”

      2.3 Apes are taken by storm. Yeah, you’ve got it. Cable news folks were thrilled by the (apparently false) charge that Trump had been caught out.

      2.4 ridiculing the behavior of Davis Again, you’ve got it. Although I’ve watched the video, and I can’t see what’s so egregious about Davis’ behavior.

      2.5 Aristotle should be embarrassed. Why? Because he claimed that human beings were rational and just look at them being the opposite.

      2.6 Anderson Cooper's performance was embarrassing TDH doesn’t say that in this blog entry. calling Lanny Davis's performance embarrassing Yep. both now embarrassing Nope, just Davis. to Aristotle or to themselves or to Somerby? On an absolute scale of embarrassment.

      3.1 we have all been flown to the Planet of the Apes. Er, no to the Planet of Aristotle’s Apes. The one’s who aren’t rational. So this is confusing. Can’t argue with that.

      Deadrat claims I do not understand Somerby I think you’ve got it mostly right here. I think you’re wrong that the piece slams Cooper. All I can find is shade thrown at Davis. And I think you’ve spent way too much time “deconstructing” a faulty analogy, getting caught in a maze that’s only partially of your own making.

      And of course, your speculations on frontal-lobe dementia are absurd.

      The night rider reference is offensive. As was the yellow star reference. I had considered that what TDH meant was the scarlet letter (of Hawthorne fame). Yellow stars weren’t pinned on like Hester’s scarlet “A”; they were sewn on. And they didn’t mark the wearer for social opprobrium; they meant extermination.

      Anything does go in comedy except failing to get a laugh.

      Delete
    3. So, Deadrat, we both read Somerby the same way (except for my mistake about Anderson Cooper, who Somerby has maligned on many other occasions).

      Why is it absurd to wonder what is going on with someone who used to be sharp and is now writing confusing nonsense like this? Of course, the most obvious explanation is that he wrote this after his second mint julep, after receiving an email that pointed all good Trump minions in the direction of Lanny Davis.

      No laughs at all in this post, so hard to see this as comedy. Planet of the Apes is a classic and you should see it. The planet is earth. The apes do ride horses and the problem with Somerby's post is that he was perhaps thinking about the planet of the apes before he bothered to introduce it in his post, so riding (horses) came before the allusion to the movie. Lazy, stupid or drunk. Pick one.

      Delete
    4. I think we’re in violent agreement on many points, and for the most part our disagreements arise from the confusing nature of the blog entry. And I chalk that up to your reading and quoting what TDH actually wrote.

      It’s not at all absurd to wonder what’s going on with someone who writes out of character. What’s absurd is to draw conclusions based on no evidence. Why do I have to pick one of lazy, stupid, or drunk? What eliminates rushed, angry, or mistaken?

      My throwaway about comedy was in response to your reference to Maher.

      You say below that you were trying to demonstrate that it’s not easy to parse text. That’s true, and it’s the very reason for sticking closely to that text when it’s all you’ve got. It’s easy to get things wrong because nobody reads in a vacuum, particularly when we’re reading partisan argumentation. You thought Cooper was included in TDH’s condemnation, not unreasonably since Cooper has been a target before. I’m asking that we hold ourselves to the standards we demand of TDH.

      Delete
  5. Deconstruct this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX4cYb3fw1Y

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    Replies
    1. Great performance! Reminds me that when I was a teen-ager, orchestras typically would hire women as harpists, but for no other instrument.

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    2. Good times, right David?

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    3. My cello teacher, Lilian Rehberg Goodman, was one of those affected. Her husband, Saul Goodman, was the long-time tympanist in the NY Philharmonic. Leonard Bernstein once told her that she was more than good enough to play in the New York Philharmonic, if only she weren't a woman.

      Today I'm glad to see that men and women who grew up playing in the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra with my daughter now hold positions in major orchestras.

      Delete
  6. Regarding Anonymous’ post “Deconstructing Somerville -Part 2” Point #1 -

    One correction needed here - Somerby clearly states that it is Davis that turns in the embarrassing performance. Not Cooper.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nothing could be as embarrassing as Lanny Davis licking Hillary Clinton's boots in these emails exposed by Wikileaks.

    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2018/08/wikileaks-flashback-lanny-davis-to-hillary-clinton-i-consider-you-to-be-the-best-friend-and-best-person-i-have-met-in-my-long-life/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here we see that conservatives are attacking Davis on the basis of his former association with Hillary, while Somerby also chimes in to attack Davis, why, well the reason isn't clear. Another example of Somerby following those conservative talking points.

      The word comes down to attack Davis for representing Cohen, so Somerby issues an incoherent post about Davis somehow embarrassing himself (no specifics on what he did) and this idiot today is still chanting Lock her Up.

      Delete
  8. Anonymous "deconstructor" of TDH: "I find myself wondering whether Somerby is expressing some suppressed hostility toward these groups (Jews, blacks) or is using a dog-whistle to alt-Right in the same manner as Trump and his ilk have been doing. It isn't something anyone sensitive to civil rights would do, anyone vaguely liberal."

    I am willing to entertain with open mind most of the three-part "deconstruction" (or "close reading") of Somerby's post. I also appreciate the response by Dead Rat. I gather that Somerby doesn't read the comments, but if he did, he might find the exchange instructive. On the other hand, with regard to the bit quoted at the top of this comment, although the deconstructionist qualifies it as a matter of "wondering," i,e, speculation, it does seem to me that he/she tips over into the sort of insinuation that strikes me as distasteful and calls into question the writer's judgment. So even when a writer tries to be thorough and even-handed, all too often anger and/or irritation leads to charges that Somerby must be a fellow traveler of the alt-right or some other type of problem child. Leave that sort of thing out, and you have the basis for a reasonable discussion. But this is a blog comment section, and I guess anything goes. Too bad.

    One sign, perhaps, that the tone here has been elevated somewhat--no Mao Cheng Ji! That's a big improvement right there. Of course, now Mao may be conjured into making zombie remarks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The wondering arises because Somerby has now made two very distasteful comments himself, one about night riders and the previous one about the yellow star that Jews were forced by Nazis to wear during the holocaust. These are sensitive subjects for many liberals and the cavalier way in which Somerby used those references was shocking and out-of-character, to say the least. It is fair to "wonder" why he did that. I offered a series of possibilities and you have seized on one of them. Also, I was not trying to be fair or even-handed -- I was trying to demonstrate to Deadrat that it is not easy to parse Somerby's nonsense, so "reading comprehension" is not necessarily the problem when people disagree about what Somerby has written.

      Hard to tell if Mao is really gone.

      Delete
    2. Maybe Mao has hacked TDH, and is now posting as Bob.

      Delete
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