Twigs and branches

by John Q on March 26, 2022

A new Twigs and Branches post, open for comments on any topic. The usual rules on civil discussion apply.



Jonathan Goldberg 03.26.22 at 4:02 pm

I tried to post a comment on you Future of Crooked Timber thread and got this error:

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator at to inform them of the time this error occurred, and the actions you performed just before this error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Time: 9:28 AM CDT
I wrote text, filled in my name and email, and hit “submit.”

An attempt to email as suggested failed. So, I’m telling you about it this way.


marcel proust 03.26.22 at 4:15 pm

Killing time online this morning, I came across this, which should at least be good for some topical giggles.

Apropos the previous post on comment policy and moderation policy, years ago I commented much more regularly, but for a variety of reasons — age: increasing despair about the state of the world: the disappearance from this site of most of the bloggers whose posts motivated me to ask questions or respond: and related to the last, fewer posts and even fewer on which I feel like I have anything either useful or amusing to contribute — I rarely comment anymore.

Any way, I hope others enjoy the link.


Bob 03.26.22 at 7:00 pm

The attached article on the American trans woman swimmer Lia Thomas is interesting. What the article highlights is the problem with the absolutist mantra “trans women are women.” This seems to be a situation where the interests of trans and cis women, legitimately, diverge. I don’t see how situations like the one described here in women’s swimming are going to be sustainable. Cis-women athletes will not tolerate it, because it is not fair to them, and this means that opposition to the trans dogma, with respect to fairness in sports, will go mainstream. If trans women and their allies don’t get out in front of this, it is just going to give the bigots a “real” issue that they can use to pursue their agenda of opposing trans rights across the board.


Ragged Clown 03.27.22 at 11:40 am

I’ve been interested in philosophy since I read Zen & the Art of Motorcycle maintenance back in the 80s. I must have read 200 books on philosophy since but I feel like a perpetual beginner, like I am reading the same introduction over and over. A couple of years ago I decided to do something about it and started a philosophy degree with the Open University with the idea that, if I’m good at it, I’ll apply to study part-time at Bristol University.

It turns out that I am good at it! I get distinctions on all my essays and my tutor said my essays are comparable to those of someone who is in the final year of a degree. I was going to apply to Bristol this year but — PLOT TWIST! — the results of my MRI on Wednesday say that I have a brain tumour. It’s unlikely that I’ll make it to the end of my degree so I need to focus my remaining time. I am going to quit my job and spend my time painting, playing music, feeding the ducks in Bristol Harbour and reading philosophy.

Here’s my question for the philosophers among you: What should I be reading in the time that’s left to me?

I’m interested in phil of mind, phil of science, ethics, phenomenology and many other topics in philosophy. I delight in reading good writers and have no patience for bad writing. Love Plato, Hume & Russell. I can’t bear the extremes of continental philosophy (Since the One is nothing but the being-given-without-givenness (of) the One, it in no way produces philosophy or the World) or analytical philosophy (do chairs exist?) but I am willing to be persuaded that there are great writers in those traditions that I haven’t discovered yet. I’m fascinated by how people make choices (bayesian thinking etc) and would love to learn more about what philosophers have to say about the topic but don’t know where to begin.

Suggestions, please!

PS. Despite my morbid topic & bad news, I am in very good spirits and loving life. I want to make the most of it (as we all should!)


KT2 03.29.22 at 10:11 am

Ragged Clown,
“The map was all in Kanji:-(” – Not this map.
(This side of Nagasaki (day 4.5).)

You need a map Ragged Clown. With this map though, you may “continue branching out in any direction you please.”

Philosophy your way. 

“A Visualization of Influence in the History of Philosophy

“From here, you can click on any of the other philosophers to see the relationship between his or her network and that of the philosopher you initially sought out. The image below shows what happens when I click on Husserl.
“You can continue branching out in any direction you please.”

“There are a few other features as well, including ways to filter the philosophers shown. You can learn more about the project here [1], and try it out for yourself here.

[1] Project.

[2] Map

I greatly enjoyed hitchhiking. I have probably done more kms, though not as a trip as far as you in Australia. “Hitchhiked across Australia. Sydney to Cairns. Cairns to Darwin. The driver knew a shortcut.”. When I got the sh!ts with the IT world in Sydney,  dumped everything,  hitched to Tennant Creek and picked tree seeds with a friend who had a mining reveg business based in the NT. Fantastic. Camping under the stars. Sparse. Blue sky.

And in the UK, stood on the side of the M25, aiming for Spain. A Ford “test car” delivery driver picked me up, said “Switzerland OK?” OK. Dropped in Brugge, where a mate from Oz lived with his Swiss wife & kids. Made it to Spain eventually. Picked up from Spanish French border by 2 German uni students in a nice Mercedes. Interior guttes though. They stripped inside so it was quicker for French border guards to search as they were stopped every time to search for drugs. They weren’t drug smugglers, just traded Merc’s to pay for tuition. And of course… We all got strip searched by the arrogant French border  guards for me having the temerity to take a video. Not impressed! I got the video back after saying I would not be nice about France as a destination. “Vou couchon!” “Aussie’s!”.

Thanks for the memory prompt RC.
Ragged Clown, as you were “responsible, as a 21-year-old petty officer, for all but one of the sonar systems on a Polaris submarine at sea.”

Is it true most nuclear sub crashes are close to port, by “learner drivers”?

Ragged Clown Serendipity.
“Bob Dylan: What the Songs Mean
Michael Karwowski 
— 2019 · Music
“… an echo of the “ragged clown” of “Mr. Tambourine Man”. … while also providing a veritable road map for the soul in its journey towards reality”.

And wow marcel proust, excellent. Forever known as “Putin the khuylo” link – “They gave birth to the expression “?????? ??????”: Putin khuylo.”. 

Crooked Timber. Always sprouting in twigs & branches. Or is this mycelium? Please make CT have babies. They don’t care about comments. They just enjoy the food and stimulation, and learn stuff about the universe. And grow.


Tohubohu 03.29.22 at 1:35 pm

To Ragged Clown @ 4. This suggestion may seem like it comes in a little from field, but I’d have a go at transcendental meditation. It’s never too late to turn eastward. Letting go of material realism and rationality isn’t easy for anyone trained in the Western tradition, but there really are limits to thought of the reading kind. I started with the question, “Why is there anything?” The tendency here is to shrug at this question because we know we can’t answer it. But the question has meaning–that’s the real point. It is a rational question that by definition has a supernatural answer. Right there you come up against the limits of rational thought, and indeed you’d be very rational to say there is no thought of another kind and to just give up. But there is thought of another kind. TM is an intellectual exercise and an extremely rigorous one, radical in the most absolute sense.

You haven’t really understood Marxism–or, say, special relativity or calculus–until you’ve entered into it, until you’ve got it by the seat of your pants. You can discuss it, or in the case of physics and math you can even solve problems, before you really “get” it, but there is that point at which you do “get” it, a point at which discourse and problem solving become something else, something ineffable. That’s what real knowledge is, I think–it’s beyond words–and that’s where TM resides. A commenter here once remarked that he–it was a he- had never experienced another consciousness. This was said (I think) in the way of implying that he was a rigorous thinker, rigorous enough to know when to give up, to know fact from fancy. But no. Really rigorous thinking leaves rational consciousness behind. It has to. Now for obvious reasons this practice has little utility for those going about their business in the material world. But there’s a point at which it becomes a very useful practice, and it might be for you as it has been for me. In any case my best wishes to you.

I’ve commented very very seldom here at Crooked Timber but even so I fear I may be one of those whose remarks have led to a change in the comments policy! I hope not. I’m extremely grateful for all that I’ve learned here and for even a passing acquaintance with all the various and brilliant characters who post. My thanks to one and all.


TM 03.30.22 at 1:48 pm

@RaggedClown Very sad to hear this. If you really wish to spend your time reading philosophy, here’s one recommendation: (You probably know it already).

In case you understand German, here’s a philosophical talkshow I recommend: (I hope it’s not geoblocked)

I know you want to read but these talks hosted by Barbara Bleisch are really really good.


TM 03.30.22 at 1:49 pm

An interesting take I think on Russia’s disinformation machinery in wake of the Ukraine invasion:


oldster 03.30.22 at 6:55 pm

Comments on the post titled “The Future of Crooked Timber etc.” have now been closed.
In view of that fact, could the post itself now be edited to remove the line saying, “Comments on this post are open”?

Comments on this entry are closed.