About Daedalus Lex

Favorite painting title: A Hair Pursued by Two Planets, Joan Miro Favorite English word to say out loud: lilliputian Favorite Spanish word to say out loud: pipas Favorite album: Abbey Road Favorite zoo animals: elephant, anteater Favorite advertising slogan: "Drink Barqs. Its good."

The Roe v. Wade problem

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had blocked states from denying abortion rights to women, is no doubt a 50-year setback for women’s rights. No way around it. But besides the problem that millions of women will now face in their personal lives (many of whom will have to carry unwanted pregnancies to term), there is also the immediate political problem. Republicans/conservatives had held a very large advantage going into the 2022 midterm elections. Because about 2/3 of Americans favored keeping Roe v. Wade, there will no doubt be some swing against Republicans in favor of women’s rights. But beware of overconfidence. The Republican advantage has gone from large to small but they are still likely to gain some seats in Congress. And Democrats/liberals are famous for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The 2016 presidential election is a case in point. The Republican nominee (Trump) was probably the most spectacularly unqualified candidate in U.S. history, both in terms of competence and temperament, and the Dems found a way to lose. And after the election? Did Dems look in the mirror to see how they may have alienated so many voters that they were thrashed by the worst candidate in history? No, they doubled down and wrote off everyone who disagreed with them as racist. Perhaps a harmless strategy if you are preaching to the choir, but hardly a way to win back some of those you have alienated.

So what’s the problem today? Just looking at the electoral side for now, the problem is stopping the Dems from self-destructing. A large majority is on your side on abortion rights. Don’t give away the electoral advantage this gives you. Two pitfalls in particular are easy to avoid, and yet I fear they are exactly the kind of pitfalls Dems generally dive into.

  1. Don’t frame this as women against men. Nothing the right-wingers would like better than to split us along gender lines. If it’s the pro-choice camp (most men and women, most moderates and liberals) against them, they are far outnumbered. (A Pew poll last week found 58% of men and 63% of women think abortion should be legal in “all or most cases.”) It’s really the men and women who are pro-reproductive rights against the men and women who are against reproductive rights. The problem is that right-wingers get a lot of help from progressives on this point – progressives whom I already see on social media framing it as men v. women, drawing a battle line that gives far too much to the other side.
  2. Don’t let this get twisted into the far less popular views associated with progressives these days – a fear of using the word “women” because it may somehow be offensive to some trans activists (activists who are fighting a noble fight, but as with broader justice movements in race and gender, have to deal with factions within that are counterproductive if not downright destructive). Don’t let it be broadened into the amorphous idea that Americans are generally a bunch of racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic idiots. Yes, some Americans are like that, and yes, that is a branding of liberals and Dems largely initiated by their opponents, but please don’t help them to do it. “You’re a bunch of racist, sexist idiots who should vote for me” is not a winning electoral slogan. Don’t forget that there are a lot of Americans out there who are fighting the good fight in their small ways, if not on the front lines.

Now I understand that I may get some pushback on #1 and #2 from my younger progressive friends – fair enough, we can haggle out how to hone the ideology and prioritize strategies as we go forward. But if there is pushback, remember that I’m actually on your side. Multiple and diverse points of view is good, not bad, in the same way that genetic diversity moves the species forward. Mainly, though, just be careful how you frame your case. It could be the difference between having 2/3 of the country at your back or having things go as they did in 2016.

* * * Click covers for links * * *

  

BookCoverImage         

Alice with an offer

Here’s the initial marketing blurb for ALICE, per yesterday’s sample. Comments welcome.

In this post-apocalyptic adult hippie fairy tale, Alice wanders away from her utopian commune to find another world and to slowly connect the dots of her own world’s missing history. Comic, poignant, thoughtful, and sparkling. A magical tapestry with many threads by Amazon bestselling author (90-minute reads free list) and two-time Faulkner-Wisdom Prize finalist, Gary Gautier.

Free mobi/epub and pdf files available on request for reviewers (drggautier@gmail.com).

* * * Click covers for links * * *

  

BookCoverImage         

Alice, page 1

Alice, the long-awaited post-apocalyptic adult hippie fairy tale, is out. More on that later. For now, just read the opening page:

ALICE

Alice sat by the pond cupping her hand in the water, as if searching for an undersea plant or animal. The sun was going down. She stripped off her gown and dove in to do something but she could not remember what. When she came up, something was in her hand and the stars were above. They were the same stars as ever, but the constellations were different. Virgo and Scorpio and all the others were gone, and some new arrangement had begun. Something moved in the woods beside the pond. Not really in the woods. In a juniper bush. It was too big to be a fairy. Alice did not know what it was that moved in the juniper bush.

As Alice approached the shack, she could hear in the dark the whispering of the forest. She saw the lovely silhouette of Evelyn through the window, sleeping in bed. She entered, and Evelyn opened her eyes.

“I was at the pond,” Alice said.

“Was the rain king there?” asked Evelyn.

“No. Not today. But something happened. I dove in and the whole cosmos changed. The stars are still there but all the old constellations are gone. Virgo and Scorpio are gone now.”

Evelyn sat up. She was taller than average, with a nobility of stature that contrasted with the petite Alice.

“So then it’s a new age,” said Evelyn.

“Yes.”

Alice sat on the bed. Evelyn leaned toward her, pushed a brown curl from the brown eye of Alice, and kissed her twice. Once on her favorite birthmark in the whole world, the pink crescent moon on Alice’s neck just above the collarbone. And once on the mouth.

“We can hope,” she whispered.

“Yes,” said Alice. “And when we can’t hope, we can love.”

And they lay down together in the wood frame bed in the wood frame house in the woods.

The next day, John Wilson came over to the shack. No one ever called him “John.” They always said, “John Wilson.”

“Something happened with the fairies last night,” said John Wilson.

“I knew it,” said Alice.

* * * Click covers for links * * *

 

BookCoverImage         

A brief history of space

If Stephen Hawking could write A Brief History of Time, I can surely write a brief history of space. Indeed, I’ll one-up Hawking and make my monograph actually, and not just putatively, brief.

At first glance in our little history of space, we can follow a trajectory from Democritus and Plato’s view of space as a container, to a view of space as a relation between things rather than a container (Leibniz), and finally to a view of space as a purely subjective construct – a way of organizing the world rather than a thing in the world (Kant – and I’ll welcome comments from expert readers like the ever-helpful STEVE MORRIS on the extent to which this continues into Einstein and modern physics).

Democritus and Plato both saw space as a receptacle but in quite different ways. Democritus (5th century BC) famously said, “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space.” This sense of space as a universal void is perhaps still the most common sense of the term. In Timaeus, Plato specifically calls space “a receptacle,” but he seems to mean it in a more local sense, as that which houses a series of shapes. In a weird way, space is matter to Plato, per his example of gold. You see now a pyramid of gold, then a cube of gold, then a sphere of gold. The gold is the receptacle space inhabited by the succession of different shapes. Idiosyncratic maybe, but more of that later.

As we move toward what I perhaps simplistically call the Leibniz position, space is not a receptacle at all – not the local matter that houses shapes nor the void. It is rather a relation between things, and it has no existence other than as a relation between things. Then onto Kant, and space as purely a subjective way of organizing the world. It seems at this point that we’ve come a long way from Plato, but the canny Greek has a way of coming back (nb. Alfred North Whitehead’s comment that all of Western philosophy is “a series of footnotes to Plato”).

I’ll step back to Plato by way of a convenient half-way point – Boethius (late 5th/early 6th century, on the cusp between classical and post-classical culture, roughly 1000 years after Plato and 1500 before us). To quote my fine former post on Boethius, who wrote The Consolation of Philosophy while in prison pondering his forthcoming execution, “The relationship between the ever-changing course of Fate and the stable simplicity of Providence is like that between reasoning and understanding … or between the moving circle and the still point in the middle.”

That image of the circle, of seeing reality from two points of view – the still point in the middle and the moving point along the perimeter – can be applied to both time and space. Here, it more directly applies to time. From the point of view of eternity (the still point in the middle), all things are simultaneous. From the temporal point of view (moving along the perimeter), we see reality in its aspect of “always becoming,” as philosophers have called it.

To extrapolate, from the eternal point of view, time does not exist; similarly, from the infinite point of view, space does not exist. Rather, space only exists where that dynamical relation between things exists – distance and extension only make sense within the scope of finite reality.

So is Boethius the great Hegelian synthesizer who can push the dialectic between Plato and Kant forward (thesis – antithesis – synthesis)? Or is the double vision of Boethius merely an indicator of his historical moment, one foot dancing with the wine-bibbing Greek and the other tiptoeing toward the finicky Prussian? Is he just a midway point toward our more accurate modern view?

No, the midpoint reading won’t do. On some level, Plato anticipated the whole circus. Or, to further twist the metaphor, we have circled back to Plato. In the Timaeus, Plato, like Boethius, has a double view, though it plays out a little differently. In Plato, there are two primary levels of reality (which can be further subdivided, as in the myth of the cave): “that which always is and has no becoming” and “that which is always becoming and never is.” The realm of eternal, unchanging ideals (being) is the subject of rational knowledge, whereas the visible world of the senses (reality in its aspect of “always becoming”) is the subject of empirical knowledge. Plato notably privileges the rational side, but he at least here grants the empirical its purview. And this turns out to be crucial to our present argument.

If we focus the history of ideas on the world of becoming – the physical world, we might call it – we can, to recap, follow a movement from space as a container to space as a relation between things  and finally to Kant’s purely subjective construct.

But if we look at the other realm in Plato, the realm of being, the intellectual realm of the unchanging ideals, rather than the realm of becoming, we see that he had already recognized space as an imaginary construct.

He quite explicitly says that the concept of “space” does not apply in the intellectual realm, but is only needed to accommodate the dynamics in the realm of becoming.

Indeed, some time after introducing those two realms (the realm of being and the realm of becoming), he refers back to the two natures corresponding to the two realms: “one … was a pattern intelligible and always the same; and the second was only the imitation of the pattern, generated and visible.” Then he adds: “Now a third must be revealed … the receptacle, and in a manner the nurse, of all generation,” insofar it enables all the processes of generation or becoming to happen.

The “receptacle,” whether you call it space or matter, is only introduced as a way of explaining processes in the realm of becoming.  But the realm of becoming for Plato is the realm of more-or-less degraded knock-offs from the realm of being. When reality is seen in it most true and stable aspect, the ontologically prior realm of being, space (or matter) does not exist.

Now, one could argue that the spaceless, timeless, immaterial zone of true reality (prior to all the knock-offs in the realm of becoming) in Plato is not truly subjective as in Kant, that Plato imagines this reality as objective reality. To which I say, maybe. I’m not sure how truly significant that distinction is. I don’t think Plato would call it objective in the modern sense of objective (which implies physical, spatial reality). All Plato postulates is that the spaceless, timeless realm of pure being, pure forms, is the true base of reality. That he treats it as an intellectual realm as opposed to the sensible is clear – so does that imply that it IS subjective, as in Kant? I’m not sure but, back to Alfred North Whitehead: we are quibbling about footnotes here. Face it, everyone (especially angst-ridden academics seeking tenure) wants to find the next ground-breaking idea, but it’s still hard to beat the old Greeks. See my other fine post on Aristotle, Wittgenstein, and Identity Politics if you don’t believe me.

* * * Click covers for links * * *

BookCoverImage         

The mathematical basis of reality

A curious note from Plato’s Timaeus on the mathematical basis of reality:

“Every sort of body possesses solidity, and every solid must necessarily be contained in planes; and every plane rectilinear figure is composed of triangles; and all triangles are originally of two kinds, both of which are made up of one right and two acute angles … the principles which are prior to these God only knows.”

So there you have it. Right-brainers read it and weep.

* * * Click covers for links * * *

BookCoverImage         

Ragged, featured, and free

I advise you to download this 50-page Faulkner-Wisdom Prize finalist NOW (and share the link widely) while it’s free, and add your Amazon rating later.

#1 Bestseller on Amazon’s 90-minute reads (free) list
Shortlisted for the Faulkner-Wisdom Prize
Selected for Innovative Fiction Book Club
Selected for radio interview on KSKQ Oregon

Free Kindle download: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08RSNTR2B/
Digital Book Today listings: http://digitalbooktoday.com/free-kindle-books-amazon/
Author site: http://www.garygautier.com/

* * * Click covers for links * * *

BookCoverImage         

Goodbye again, Maggie

Goodbye, Maggie. Faulkner-Wisdom Prize finalist.
Free here

When his brother shows up with the news that he has murdered someone, Phil’s life goes haywire. Comedy, drama, and road tripping. Racism, friendship, and yoga stops. Cutting through the bayous and into New Orleans, the madness in this weird southern quest narrative just won’t stop.

Please drop a rating on Amazon. These really help readers and writers.

* * * Click covers for links * * *

BookCoverImage         

Bangkok tips and pics

Don’t trust me as an expert guide to Bangkok. All I can do is give you a peek at a few neighborhoods from the point of view of a curious passerby.

My first impression was that the main thoroughfares here look like a modern city (though with a grittier, less pressure-washed look than you get in the West), but as soon as you turn on the side streets it suddenly looks you might expect Thailand to look.

.Old Town

 

Old Town (southern part) at night

Khaosan Road

All I did was walk past this famous area in the north of Old Town in the daytime. They say it’s a mecca for backpackers, with mixed messages about whether there’s more artsy culture to it than just partying. I really can’t say.

Si Lom

Si Lom Road was lined with high-rise bank buildings, etc. A bit like a smaller, less polished Midtown Manhattan. The eastern half of Si Lom (near Lumphini Park), north of Si Lom Road, hosts a large night market, including night life akin to New Orleans’ Bourbon St. — massage parlors, loud clubs, etc.
 

South of Si Lom Road, moving west toward the canal, was a lovely and lengthy day street market.

The western half of Si Lom, past the canal, seemed to have more of a neighborhood vibe. The Kokotel hotel looked great with a double room at about $18 (including a nice common workspace, good cafe, etc.). I didn’t get to explore this side of Si Lom enough. I only got a picture of the library next to the British Club 🙂

Ari

Ari seemed the place to live. At least somewhat leafy, more so than other neighborhoods. Quite a few little cafes for coffee, beer, food. Relaxed neighborhood atmosphere. Porcupine was good coffee stop. Garrison looked like good Irish pub, but closed the day I was there. I didn’t see any Westerners during my walk — Ari is not really on the tourist track as far as I can tell — but the feeling was a bit more cosmopolitan than in other local neighborhoods.

 

Sukhumvit

I didn’t get any pictures of this long diagonal shooting out of the city toward Cambodia, but it gave me the feeling of heading out to the suburbs, albeit still gritty and urban. Not a very attractive main thoroughfare, but sufficiently dotted with pubs and street vendors and hostels.

I loved Chiang Mai and Pai also — probably even more than Bangkok — but that’s for another day.

Remember: These are the unedited thoughts a total amateur just backpacking my way through Bangkok for a week 🙂

* * * Click covers for links * * *

BookCoverImage    year-bfly-cover