The Ballad of the Woggler’s Moulie

by Harry on September 2, 2013

I really have no excuse for posting this. This year is the 25th anniversary of Kenneth Williams’s death, maybe? Its just that my 6 year-old-son came downstairs the other day talking about Chiswick flow, and moulies, and then, today, sang the whole song, pretty much word perfect, and I am very happy about it. So is my daughter. My wife? Maybe not.

Science Imitates Eddie Izzard

by John Holbo on September 2, 2013

Via Andrew Sullivan Matt Sitman, the look of music.

In a study by Harvard graduate Chia-Jung Tsay … nearly all participants — including highly trained musicians — were better able to identify the winners of classical music competitions by watching silent video clips than by listening to audio recordings. “In this case,” says Tsay, “it suggests that the visual trumps the audio, even in a setting where audio information should matter much more.

I thought Eddie Izzard already proved that.

Cosmopolitans and Zoopolitans

by John Holbo on September 2, 2013

Haven’t read Appiah on moral revolutions yet so I’ll just give you a bit from his Cosmopolitanism: Ethics In A World Of Strangers, which I am also reading.

Maybe, though, the term can be rescued [from the negative connotations]. It has certainly proved a survivor. Cosmopolitanism dates at least to the Cynics of the fourth century BC, who first coined the expression cosmopolitan, “citizen of the cosmos.” The formulation was meant to be paradoxical, and reflected the general Cynic skepticism toward custom and tradition. A citizen—a polite–s—belonged to a particular polis, a city to which he or she owed loyalty. The cosmos referred to the world, not in the sense of the earth, but in the sense of the universe. Talk of cosmopolitanism originally signaled, then, a rejection of the conventional view that every civilized person belonged to a community among communities.

I posted about this a couple years back. Short version: ‘kosmos’ is a matter of order – military order, cosmetics, ‘getting it together’ – more than vastness, sublimity (‘to boldly go!’) So maybe Diogenes was saying, in effect: I’m a citizen of wherever they’ve actually got good government. Or even: I’m a Utopian. Or: I’m a citizen of nature. Or: I’m a citizen of the natural order, the true order of things.

I got mild pushback in comments. (You don’t want to rehash old comments threads? Fine! Go read something else.) [click to continue…]