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Art In Politics - The Nexus between Art and Politics in Four War Movies
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2007-12-28 13:12:35
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By fighting fire with fire, political propaganda runs the risk of prostituting not only truth but art itself. Even when an ideologically manipulated documentary shows some artistic merit, it rarely grapples with issues of peace and justice; neither does it shed light on the nexus between cultural imperialism and war. Paradoxically, it becomes integral part of that nexus.

I’d like to reflect upon four recent films that deal with the nexus between war, politics and art, and how the media often misperceives such a nexus, i.e., the meta-message of war reporting, for after all movie making is indeed an artistic enterprise. The four films, in order of appearance, are: István Szabó’s Taking Sides, which dwells on the so called de-Nazification process of the immediate post World War II era; Errol Morris’ The Fog of War dealing with Robert Mc Namara's lessons learned from the Vietnam war, both appearing in 2003; Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, and Jehane Noujaim’s Control Room, both dealing with the reporting of the current Iraq war and appearing together in 2004. A brief description of each may benefit the readers who may not have viewed all four movies yet.

Taking Sides, focuses on the choices people make, or better, the choosing and changing of sides in pre and post war times, the particular circumstances that determine those choices, the attitudes toward those choices. The main protagonists of this movie are an American intelligence officer in post World War II occupied Germany, mandated with a tough assignment: the de-Nazification, i.e., the interrogation and investigation, of ex Nazis and their collaborators, for possible rehabilitation and/or prosecution; and a famous German symphony conductor, Wilhelm Furtwangler, an extraordinarily gifted musician, on a par with an Arturo Toscanini, who is suspected of past Nazi collaboration. The American officer is convinced that Furtwangler was used by Hitler for propaganda purposes, as a sort of icon of German culture, and that Furtwangler, for his own ambitious motives and career advancement, willingly submitted to the exploitation, when he could have easily have left the Third Reich, as other luminaries had done.

The film focuses around the tortuous interrogation process of Furtwangler and some of his former musicians. To a man they all offer ready made rationalizations; they either declare themselves anti-Nazis, at worst, neutral bystanders who never confused art with politics. None of them seem to even entertain the notion that there may be a nexus between politics and culture. Some, among whom Furtwangler, maintain this stated position in good faith; others lie about it. It is important to keep in mind that the film is not a documentary but an historical movie objectively depicting real people and real events. However, those events are so authentically recreated that the viewer feels that she/he is watching a documentary. The film’s director makes a point of alerting us to this in an interview which accompanies the DVD but is not part of the film.

The Fog of War is an actual documentary whose only character is Robert Mc Namara, Secretary of Defence under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. The questioning is done by the director who also assumes the role of interviewer; however, he never appears in the documentary. Throughout the film, his voice sounds distant, almost disincarnated. Hence, Mc Namara’s 107 minute narration feels more like a soliloquy than an interview, a sort of out loud rumination on the logic of war by a man, now 87 years old, who in the past has been involved in some momentous decisions on war and peace. He ruminates on the nature of war and its glorification and romanticization, on the real politick rationalizations of entire nations, their ineluctable choices often leading down the slippery path of national disasters; on the compromises with personal integrity by national leaders who have initiated a war and from which they can no longer extricate themselves; on the miscommunications leading to misunderstandings.

The demonizing of the enemy and ultimately, to tragic wars that need not have happened. However, throughout the documentary Mc Namara appears as no vacillating Hamlet; rather, he projects the image of a competent, very cerebral leader, able to rationalize each and every choices he made in the light of a real-politic paradigm (in this case that of the Cold War), and what he knew or did not know at the time. As the title of the film suggests, the fog and the confusion never seem to lie in Mac Namara’s mind but in the inherent nature of war. However, he does also imply that he is a bit wiser now at eighty three (his age at the time of the interview) than he was some forty years ago during the prime of his life; that is so because he has learned eleven lessons about war and peace which he wishes to share with the viewers.

Nevertheless, while taking responsibility for his decisions, at no time in the interview does Mac Namara express any feeling of guilt, or even mere regret for his momentous decisions on the Vietnam War? He refuses to answer the question as to whether or not he has any. It is up to the viewer to determine the answer. And here lies the ambiguity of the documentary: the viewer has to decide for her/himself if Mc Namara decisions were indeed determined by a Cold War paradigm over which he had little control; or whether he was merely taking orders from President Johnson. If the latter is the case, then it would appear that he has not learned the most important lesson of the Nuremberg trials: that “I was only taking orders” is no excuse in the court of public opinion and the international Court of Justice for alleged war crimes. Be that as it may, here too, the director of the documentary offers us no clues as to where he himself stands on the issue.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is a different beast altogether. It was produced on a 6 million dollar budget and a 10 million dollar advertising campaign; almost twice the production cost. It became at the time the highest grossing documentary film of all time. Talk show host Bill O’Reilly liked Moore to Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels. That kind of charge only lent the movie more publicity sending Moore laughing all the way to the Bank. What is most intriguing, however, is that the film was also awarded the Cannes’ Palm d’Or for best documentary of the year. No doubt there is geniality at work here. Let us see.

Fahrenheit 9/11 delves into the motives behind the decision to go to war in Iraq, after the events of September 11, or perhaps before those events. Unlike The Fog of War, however, in this “documentary” the director-interviewer is very much in the film, almost as a protagonist. We not only hear his voice but see his face, even glimpse into his mind. How his mind works may indeed be more intriguing than the subject matter it deals with. Indeed, we know from the start of the film where Moore’s sympathies lie. There are no uncertainties here, no fog of war, no ambiguities, ambivalences or dilemmas of any kind. Even the interpretation of the events is simple and black and white, with clear demarcations between good and evil, truth and falsehood.

From the beginning we realize that we are not dealing with a documentary aiming at strict objectivity, but with a sort of prosecution by the shadow protagonists of the documentary, i.e., the director Michael Moore parading as an objective, if slightly clownish, observer of the facts. Here the messenger is the message, and he comes across not as an investigator, a seeker after truth, but as a sleek lawyer coyly trying to persuade us the jury, in the process becoming part of the trial’s content. Therefore, claiming documentary status for the film begins to appear rather fraudulent to the perceptive viewer. It is analogous to somebody showing us a photo as evidence for a crime, and reminding us that a picture is worth a thousand words; and indeed it is; for if the picture has been digitally doctored it will tell us, more than a thousand words ever could, something about the motives of the doctoring agent.

Be that as it may, what exactly is the charge here? It is this: there is a nefarious convergence of interests between the Bush family and the Saudis, not excluding the wealthy Bin Laden family, which has driven the political agenda and has led to the fabrication of false intelligence to push the nation in a war. These are very serious charges that even a sleek lawyer would not dare present without hard, irrefutable evidence, not mere insinuations, chronological juxtapositions narrated in a non-linear mode, circumstantial evidence, and dots that never get connected, as is the case here.

It all begs the questions: if the intent was prosecutorial, why was this film awarded a prize for best documentary? Would not “best propaganda film” have been a more appropriate description for the award? Was such an award given for art or for mere politics? And what does that awarding say about those who granted it? Is would appear that here not only truth but art got a good rub down. As Marshall McLuhan used to say, sometime the message is a massage. Can propaganda ever be passed on as art, the handmaiden of truth? We shall return to these thorny questions further down in the essay.

Control Room also presents itself as a documentary on the reporting of the war in Iraq by the media. Unlike Fahrenheit 9/11 however, it is not prosecutorial; rather, it attempts to delve into the issue of what happens to the truth vis-à-vis the slippery news-reporting of war. Indeed, in the fog of war, truth often gets not only massaged but prostituted too. As such this is that rare documentary with a meta-message, i.e., behind the matter it deals with, there is an existential philo-political investigation concerned with the issue of culture, its nexus with political power, and the propaganda generated thereby. This is the kind of issue on which Antonio Gramsci used to ruminate behind the bars of Fascist jails where, to keep his mental sanity, he wrote a whole book on the subject on toilet paper (Literature and National Life), eventually perishing there.

Noujaim’s documentary takes the viewers behind the curtains of the controversial Arab news organization, Al Jazeera. The Bush administration has declared it a tool of anti-American propaganda. Vis-à-vis this sort of charge, Noujaim does not play either investigative detective or prosecuting lawyer; she does not fight fire with fire, rather, she lets the camera do the work of ferreting out the truth, without rhetorical flourishes, as most good documentaries indeed do. By saying less she ends up saying much more than Moore. The viewer is likely to be more persuaded by what the camera has unobtrusively shown, than by a verbose prosecution.

For example, the documentary reveals that while the American reporters that Noujaim surveys seem critical-thinking challenged, in as much as they are unduly affected by Pentagon spinners, the feverish ravings of an American academic against “American imperialism” far from being welcome, provoke this reaction from the senior producer at Al Jazeera, Samir Khader: “Where did you get this guy? He is just a crazy activist.” It is in this kind of attempt at objectivity that the contrast between the two films (i.e., Moore and Noujaim’s) is most apparent.

A caveat to the reader is in order at this point: although I am a film buff and have studied and taught neo-realist Italian film within a literary framework, I am no film critic, hence this analysis and critique is not concerned with aesthetic merits per se; I shall leave that to more competent persons. As the same title of this essay-review suggests, my interest lies not in the message but the meta-message: what these four films reveal of the nexus between art, politics, propaganda, within the overarching theme of the search for truth. This is a complex subject, to be sure. Hence, what follows is merely an exploration and a challenging of the taken-for-granted conventional wisdom and "politically-correct" assumptions. Indeed the etymology of the word essay (i.e., attempt) suggests as much.

When we compare those four war movies, we soon become aware that the one that stands out like a sore thumb is Moore’s self-declared documentary. The directors of Taking Side, The Fog of War and Control Room have all taken themselves out of the picture, so to speak. It is as if the story is narrating itself through the camera. This is in the nature of a good documentary. It was integral part of the Italian neo-realist movie of the 40s reflecting the neo-realist literature of a Giovanni Verga or Ignazio Silone attempting to convey the impression to the readers that the story has no author, that the book had written itself, as it were. This is surely not the case with Fahrenheit 9/11 wherein the director’s ego is narcissistically all over the place as a clown in a circus, distracting us from both the subject matter and the issue of the documentary.

To return to the comparison with Taking Sides, the title of the film refers not only to the people portrayed in the film, those who changed sides after the war, but perhaps more importantly, it also refers to us the viewers who, after viewing the movie, are also challenged to take side pro or con Futwangler. This is so because its director refuses to even hint at his own view or offer us any sort of interpretation. The viewer must come to his own conclusions in the matter, independent of the director’s opinion. This is diametrically opposed to Moore’s propagandistic tactics. In the second place, the same people who work with the American investigator (the translator and the secretary) retain an ambiguous attitude throughout; contrary to the contemptuous attitude of the interrogating American officer, their feelings seem to fall in between admiration and pity. For after all, Furtwangler, unlike some of the musicians who lied about it, never actually joined the Nazi party; moreover even if he somewhat disingenuously insists that he knew nothing of the concentration camps, he also alleges to have helped some of his Jewish fellow-musicians. On the other hand, he did bask in the glory and notoriety that came his way by propagandizing German culture. Was it love of art or love of glory? The ambiguity of it all is what makes this a powerfully authentic historical film.

We the viewers, if we are sensitive to that ambiguity, need to come to terms with our own feelings and vulnerabilities by asking ourselves not only if Furtwangler was sincere in his insistence that he always kept art and politics separate, or whether indeed it is possible to do so, but if we too would have acted like him under similar circumstances. This is the kind of ambivalence and ambiguity which is part of the existential internal struggle within each human heart, wholly lost on a Moore who seems to be perfectly happy with merely opposing unfairness to unfairness.

To make his prosecutorial points, he likes to manipulate the medium while massaging the truth, to make up stories, to rearrange and juxtapose them by a false chronology. For example a letter to the editor becomes a newspaper’s headline. He dares call his films documentaries supported by facts. Norman Mailer had a name for those sorts of facts. He called them “factoids”: things that seem to be facts bur they are not actually true. However, Mailer was more honest in this regard and never called his war novels historical writings.

There is however something in common between Moore and Mailer: they both have mistaken fleeting celebrity with lasting influence. Mailer thinks of himself as another Said, or perhaps another Umberto Eco. Moore thinks of himself as another Rossellini, or perhaps another Fellini. However, while Moore, like Fellini, plays the clown in the circus of life and makes us laugh, he has no ethical insights to offer, merely an ideology to defend and to sell. To borrow an image from Aristotle, the two resemble pugilists swinging away with no opponents, appealing to spectators in love with a form that blinds them to the content. Even worse, the ideologically agreeable content, devoid of artistic merits, may be what was really rewarded at Cannes.

There is an essay by Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner which says it all much better. It is titled “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon: The Case against Celebrity.” They make the case for hypocrisy among the entertainment elites of Hollywood. The problem is perhaps best expressed by an editorial op-ed piece in the Washington Times by Suzanne Fields which ends thus: “The likes of Barbara Streisand and Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and Michael Moore see themselves as thinkers. Intoxicated with celebrity status, they confuse their talent for fantasy with real-life significance. The prizes they win say more about the prize-givers than about the fantasizers they celebrate. Moore’s the pity.”

Moore wants to serve us the naked truth, at any cost, but as Umberto Eco has observed, truth is a very modest lady and loathes showing herself naked. Serious criticism, the kind that a Said or a Fallaci can dish out, is quite different from titillation or manufactured controversies, or straw arguments, or distorted facts or caricatures parading as the truth and ending up in sheer slander and arguments ad hominem. Which is to say, Moore has no alternatives to offer to what he obsessively inveighs against; his is merely the other side of the coin of evangelical fundamentalism, which he claims to disdain.

In Moore’s films we detect no ambiguity. It is all simplistically Manichean: Puritan certainty wherein evil is always out there on the other side, to be eradicated, and God is always on one’s side. Not surprisingly, his films lack the human touch which is powerfully present in Szabó, Morris and Noujaim’s films. To confirm this assessment, it would be enough to speculate on what would a Moore do to the army spokesperson Josh Rushing, one of Control Room’s primary characters. He would most probably mercilessly destroy his career and reputation, but in doing so he would also miss what a Nowjaim is able to catch: Rushing’s perplexity when the US government condemns Al Jazeera for broadcasting a video of the mutilated bodies of American soldiers.

Rushing describes his distress at watching the video, then he frankly admits that when the next night the network showed wounded and dead Iraqis, he was less bothered; he finds this phenomenon rather disturbing. He then blurts out: “It makes me hate war.” So, while Noujaim, Szabó and Morris honour people by exploring their mixed motives and conflicting allegiances, Moore’s “documentaries” (whose production company is appropriately named “Dog eat Dog Films”), disrespect their intelligence. They appear in comparison mere propaganda weapons, pitting unfairness against unfairness, ideology against ideology. Now, this prosecutorial strategy may even be genial a la Leni Riefenstahl, but genial or not, it remains mere propaganda, offering no glimpse of a world without war, of a disinterested viewer, or a conflicted mind and heart.

This comparison in the end leaves us perplexed and begs the question: is propagandistic art devoid of ethics real art? In Noujaim’s closing scene we see an unexpected rain falling over the media outpost in the desert and Khader muses over the futility of trying to cover war in a fair way. He exclaims: “Victory, and that’s it. People like victory. You do not have to justify it. Once you are victorious, that’s it.” Indeed, as a close friend reminded me in an e-mail exchange, history is written by the victors, they have the final control room. My friend has no doubt that had the Germans or the Japanese won the war they would have been the ones to conduct Nuremberg war crime trials for the Dresden and the Hiroshima bombings, as well as the abandoning of the Warsaw insurgents by the Soviets. He certainly has a valid historical point which in a sense goes all the way back to Thucydides’ ruminations on the war of Athens against Thebes and the awful nature of war in general.

Be that as it may, what, if anything, can then the observing writer or film director do in the face of the sad reality of the nature of war? I would suggest nothing but observe and report, that's his job. In that serene observation and reporting, the truth, as distinguished from mere propaganda, may appear as a sort of epiphany. In Nowjaim’s Control Room, there is an eloquent example of this: at one point one of the reporters, Hassan Ibrahim, frustrated by the American condemnation of Al Jazeera for showing Iraqi civilians wounded in bombing raids, exclaims angrily: “You are the most powerful nation on earth, I agree. You can defeat everybody, I agree. You can crush everyone, I agree. But don’t ask us to love it as well!” And yet, moments later when a colleague asks Ibrahim who is going to stop the Americans, he answers thus: “The United States is going to stop the United States. I have absolute confidence in the American Constitution. And I have absolute confidence in the ability of the American people.

It is that confidence in the people that allows a good journalist or a good film director to shut his mouth and let the people speak through the camera. Try as you may, you will not find this kind of ambivalence and openness to ambiguity in any of Moore’s condescending documentaries. Noujaim, Szabó and Morris’ films imply that in the final analysis, all that can be done is to merely assert an idea and a model of truth and fairness, however doomed, and then put one’s mind at rest by letting it lie for a while, like a seed beneath the snow, in the hope that it will spring eternal in what Silone has dubbed the spring-time of the “the conspiracy of hope.” For indeed Hermes always reaches his destination, especially when his messages have the form of authentic art. While Silone’s message is all but lost on the arrogant Moores of this world in love with their shallow political certainties, there is an important lesson to be learned from Fahrenheit 9/11, a sort of twelfth lesson to be added to the eleven lessons on war of McNamara, and it is this: truth is always war’s first casualty.


Click here to download 'Art in Politics' theme PDF

* * * * * *

'Art in Politics' includes:

Poetry by Mbizo Chirasha & Alexander Mikhaylov
Artwork by Sarah Beetson, Steve Cartwright & Jan Sand
Articles and essays by Asa Butcher, Thanos Kalamidas, Emanuel L. Paparella & Rene Wadlow


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Sand2007-12-29 17:43:47
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
Pablo Picasso

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-29 22:01:57
According to Aristotle, tragedy is higher and more philosophical than history because history simply relates what has happened while tragedy dramatizes what may happen, “what is possibile according to the law of probability or necessity.” History thus deals with the particular, and tragedy with the universal. Events that have happened may be due to accident or coincidence; they may be particular to a specific situation and not be part of a clear cause-and-effect chain. Therefore they have little relevance for others. Tragedy, however, is rooted in the fundamental order of the universe; it creates a cause-and-effect chain that clearly reveals what may happen at any time or place because that is the way the world operates. Tragedy therefore arouses not only pity but also fear, because the audience can envision themselves within this cause-and-effect chain.

But to begin to understand those Aristotelian notions on drama and tragedy, one has to understand first that myth is not a lie for children but something more universal and therefore more “true” than the concrete particularities of a documented historical event. Without that kind of understanding the most important points of the above essay will be surely missed.

Sand2007-12-29 23:29:28
Paparella, it is truly phenomenal how clear simplicity eludes you totally.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-03 17:15:20
Sometimes simplicity is merely simple-mindedness. There is a difference and it is the difference between true intelligence and pseudo-intelligence, or intelligence by half.

Sand2008-01-04 00:12:24
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
Albert Einstein

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-04 12:31:10

Indeed, “make it simple, stupid” is one of today’s current slogans; there are even books written for idiots: "Window Word for Idiots," meaning to say that everything is explained simply and clearly. But usually the slogan is a cover up for charlatans who think that by merely projecting their ignorance on others somehow theirs will be overlooked. But propaganda and the cavalier expression of one’s prejudices and false assumptions have precious little to do with truth, even less with art. They have to do with power and aggrandizement.

E.g., to portray Abraham as a murderer of sort means to be slightly simple minded or to have an ax to grind. It means not only to have not read Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling” and not to be in the least interested in reading it or discussing it; it also means to have simple-mindedly simplified the issue and to have forgotten, or more likely be ignorant of the fact, that Hitler’s minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels was nothing more than a ravings hate monger parading as a man of culture; he was not peddling artistic expression but bull shit pure and simple, to use a slogan from your poetics of defecation. One of the monstrous cartoons devised by such a specimen of humanity was that of portraying father Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac as an ugly old man brutally molesting a beautiful screaming Arian child. To his and Hitler’s deranged minds proud of their logic and iron-clad rationalism, it rationalized and justified the extermination of six million Jews. Simple minded indeed.

Sand2008-01-04 13:02:29
In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sand2008-01-04 13:12:16
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Leonardo da Vinci

Sand2008-01-04 13:42:03
The test of Abraham' faith is, of course, a test of his willingness to murder his son to prove his absolute obedience to God's will, no different in essence from the current multiple faith in their God that Muslim suicide bombers currently demonstrate in their multiple murders of equally innocent people. It is interesting to have revealed where your sympathies lie.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-04 14:55:13
Abraham is a murderer and Kierkegaard to the bonfire you go. A few one liners and the issue is solved. Goebbels would indeed approve enthusiastically. As to what the voices told you about my sympathies, don't listen to them, they are liars.

Sand2008-01-04 15:43:13
If you accept the Biblical story, it is unavoidable that Abraham was willing to murder his son and was only stopped by a whim of his God. I cannot see how you can avoid that. Unless, of course, you deny the story totally. I can accept that.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-04 17:25:42
Indeed, Goebbels would undoubtedly approve of the rational logic of the argument as he approved of the cartoons on Abraham and as he surely must have approved of consigning Kierkegaard to the bonfire. After all, Kierkegaard, beyond shallow caricatures and properly understood, might have upset his rationalism which allowed him to rationalize the extermination of six million innocent Jews. He was a man of culture “talking of Michelangelo” in the wasteland of civilization and humanism.

Sand2008-01-04 18:08:10
Hell, Paparella, stop your nonsensical raving and stick to the subject. Foaming at the mouth over book burning or theoretical proposals about what a dead Nazi might think has nothing to do with the subject. Obviously you are incapable of giving me a straight answer. So shove it.

Sand2008-01-04 19:17:26
And there you go again with your mixed up mind squeezing T.S.Eliot, the master of the Wasteland whose ladies "come and go speaking of Michelangelo" irrelevantly into the mix where he has no place.
Is the voice of Eliot, long with a gang of dead Nazis, mumbling and shouting in your brain and forming the voices in your head?

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-04 23:51:49
A typo, if you will, Long should be spelled "along." But I will not make a silly joke of it and get a high five someplace. This will give you a chance to charge that as the voices told you I am avoiding the issue.
Ask the voices when they come and visit if they have read Fear and Trembling and why Kierkegaard and many other masterpieces of world literature were consigned to the bonfire by the neo barbarians of the intellect on May 10 1942. Or would it have been better to shove them, to use your special poetics of defecation in the wasteland of humanism, talking of Leonardo...

Sand2008-01-05 06:02:33
Still foaming at the mouth, listening to dead Nazis, dancing around the room farting and screaming bout book burning because I disagree with your mummified opinions but never, never, never answering my original queries about Abraham and his slavish murderous intents. It makes for good circus but bad discussion. Evidently we disagree about how conflicting opinions should be approached.

Sand2008-01-05 08:36:19
Another indication of how doubtful your historical credentials may be is your apparent ignorance of Kierkegaard's antagonism to organized religion which is in direct opposition to your enthusiasm for the huge hierarchical Catholic organization.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-05 18:36:37
Is that what the voices told you? Don't believe them. They are liars and up to no good. Read Kiergegaard's Fear and Trembling and you may begin to suspect that those voices are the voices of intolerance and ideological fanaticism clever by half and happy in their caves lit by fire. Insult unfortunately are not and never were and never will be a susbstitute for genuine scholarship. They are an admission of abysmal ignorance and disastrous hubris, not to speak of narcisism and the idolatry of rationalism .

Sand2008-01-05 18:53:52
Another avoidance. If you cannot give me an answer out of your own mouth then I assume you have none. Stop sending me on a wild goose chase to the library. It's the same old trick you keep trying to pull. To go back to Einstein, if you cannot give me a simple straight answer it is a sure thing you have none.

Sand2008-01-05 19:23:19
If you have no easy answer of your own, then quote it out of Kierkegaard. Nine tenths of all your writing is quotes from other writers so it should be no problem at all to dig out what I requested since you claim to be familiar with it. Why should I do your work for you? It's getting pretty obvious you are a scam artist.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-05 20:13:23
Is that what the voices are reporting to you? Ask them, next time they visit,if they've ever heard of "projection" and bad appropriation of one's shadow. But the shadow knows, and the Emperor remains naked...

Sand2008-01-05 20:28:21
Same old crap. You're a phony.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-05 23:04:51
In the world of scholarship what can be easily asserted can easily be disporoved or simply ignored. Moreover, to give the impression of knowing what one does not know, or to open one's mouth about things never read and studed or reflected upon, is to acquire the reputation of a charlatan and forfeit one's career and reputation from the outset. But obviously that does not apply in the blogger's world where nothing is at stake and nothing is regorously evalutated and one can safely insult and slander and trash with a few clicks of one's computer.

The etymology of the word "charlatan" is from the Italian verb "ciarlare" which means to babble away. Indeed!

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-05 23:17:35
P.S. Typos above: "disproved" and "rigorously." So that you may focus on your own rather than exclusively on those with whom you disagree with.

Who said that the aim of all charlatans is not to ask questions leading to the truth but to ask questions that will prove that only he has the answers? In ancient Greece they were called sophists.

Sand2008-01-06 01:29:53
You go on and on and on about who I am or who you want to convince somebody (obviously not me)who I am and you will not confront simply the question I asked which would quickly settle the matter. Your persistent avoidance to directly face and answer the question is clear indication that it is beyond your capacity to do so and you are a total fake.

Sand2008-01-06 10:29:47
This is, of course, one example of what has become tiring ritual confrontations between Paparella and me and they always end in the same way with no resolution of the prompting question which, at end, is buried under a massive assault on a fictitious theoretical secular group which he calls rationalists and has all the characteristics of a conspiracy to destroy all that is good and decent in human society but has no basis in reality since an analytic approach to reality has many inspirations of different sorts and, since it is frequently very successful in controlling nature, many consequences both beneficial and malevolent.

I don’t know if Paparella is actually suffering from psychotic paranoia or if he merely assumes its guise because his conception of the nature of the relationship of religion to society is so out of congruence with reality that it drives him into a reaction of hysterical irrationality when he is required to make sense of his proclamations. He has formulated, with the help of one or two other antique speculators, a rather naïve conceit that the primitive attempts by intelligent but grossly ignorant thinkers to construct an architecture of reality based on anthropomorphic superbeings is a necessity for the wellbeing of civilization. All of these supercreatures are, of necessity, derived from the concepts of how humans should behave towards each other but they are so conditioned by the local mores and times and traditions of their specific cultures that they are frequently totally out of synchronization with current understandings and practices.

Although I find Paparella irritating he is also quite fascinating in that he is evidently quite adept at misinterpreting statements by genuine thinkers to substantiate his peculiar point of view by violently misconstruing their definitions of vague generalities to his own peculiar purposes. It seems fairly obvious that he is well versed in historical speculation of the nature reality but his romance with the past has led him to totally reject modern perceptions that have had physical confirmation of their theories that totally disprove ancient ideas that have no utility in modern life and, if maintained, can only lead to dangerous consequences.

It seems that Paparella has come from a fairly strict Catholic upbringing and once the dogma of that education has embedded itself into a young psyche it warps all other subsequent input to its purposes. His perpetual denial of the historic cruel excesses of the Catholic Church that are so well documented that they cannot be denied is both horrifying and pitiful in a mind that has had the educational opportunity to explore conflicting points of view.

At end it seems that Paparella’s emotional mindset, which is the foundation upon which his pseudo logic rests, has taken total control of whatever capability he has to reason rationally so it is useless to interact with him since, when he is confronted with at attempt to understand how ancient savage mores are no longer valid in modern life, he retreats into violent irrational accusations with no basis in reality.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-06 12:32:40
I suspect the voices have come to visit again. Don't believe them. They are liars and slanderers and bashers amd are up to no good.

Oh, by the way, since you are a purist when it comes to typos (only of those you don't agree with)there is no such thing as "capability" (you also have it in your Punch and Judy show); the word is capacity, or ability.

Sand2008-01-06 13:02:14
Wrong again. Look into your dictionary if you have one.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-07 00:36:58
Wrong again. My Oxford English dictionary has capacity but not capability, which means at the very least that the word is not currently used or they would have included it as an alternate.

Sand2008-01-07 05:59:29
Since both Websters and Encarta in MicroSoft Word list and define capability you are obviously working with a deficient dictionary which, of course befits your mental equipment.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-07 07:01:15
So much for the Oxford Dictionary. To the bonfife you go, certified as deficient by a barbarian of the intellect. After all, what do those English know about the English language? Logically, if a a dictionary like the Oxford dictionary supplies alternate spelling of a word and it does not in this case, one must conclude that the word is out of use. F for logic 101 and F for boorish manners.

Sand2008-01-07 11:03:20
More bookburning to warm your heart. I wonder why your personal dictionary must be proclaimed over all the rest. I never consigned it to the fire, but evidently you feel you can think my thoughts better than me. Strange, since you have so few valid ones of your own.

Sand2008-01-07 11:59:41
Incidentally, this from the Oxford Dictionary on line.


• noun (pl. capabilities) the power or ability to do something.

So either you are lying or have a very defective copy of a dictionary. Considering your past performance it is reasonable to suspect the former.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-07 12:16:50
Is that what the voices told you? And you swallowed it whole! But they are liars. You still have not explained why the Oxford University dictionary does not carry the word capability as an alternate of ability or capacity or why capability is a better alternate to capacity or ability, and all the boorish insults and the smearing in the world of which you are undoubtedly a master champion will not change that fact. So much for Oxford University Press? Shall we toss in the virtual bonfire all the fires published by them?

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-07 12:24:38
PS books was meant for fires above.
Since I am no liar or basher or egregious detractor I have looked over my dictionary and a possible explanation for not including capability is that it is an abridged copy. So the question becomes this: why did the editors of Oxford University Press feel that capacity and ability should be included while capability could be left out? Becuase they got up on the wrong side of the bed that day? True to from, you will now either not answer the question or transform it into a caricature or joke of sort, or attempt to square the circle. Pity.

Sand2008-01-07 14:33:21
You no longer are coherent.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-07 16:23:51
One of the oldest trick of sophistry is that of summarily and egregiously declaring one's interlocutor incoherent or mad when served with a message that trumps their own logic and rationalism and reveals their bad faith.

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