Seeing Double

Erik Jacobs jacobs at
Tue Feb 18 15:19:07 EST 2003


I guess we agree (in a strange kind of way). Besides your final paragraph,
which I did not fully understand, I could have written what you wrote. I
imagine you are referring to the painter, not the character from Ondaatje's
books. Did I miss the great Caravaggio/Warhol battle in art class? Did they
throw Campbell’s soup cans and cherubs at each other?

Of course, I could be missing something.

Let us hope that we are both wrong. I'd like to see Saddam working out of an
office in the Presidio like Gorbachev.

Please, Erik

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-kb at [mailto:owner-kb at]On Behalf Of
Leslie Bruder
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 1:31 PM
To: kb at
Subject: RE: Seeing Double


I've waited to respond frankly because your statement (I'll use the analogy
of the chess move again) is a very good one and might just mean
"check-mate." In a sense the game, the argument, is already over as you
pointed out; the decision has been made and we're going to war (there are
the columns, there are the ships, bye bye Saddam).  So, engaging in this
argument is hardly more than watching a rerun of a sporting game.  We
already know the outcome, though not the exact number of people that will be
killed and how.  Nor do we know what the long term consequences will be.
This will depend, as you mentioned the other day, on how catastrophic the
war turns out to be and upon the designs which the world's leaders have for
the Middle East.  My hope is that it is a good one, one that reduces world
tensions and the size of the target we must all wear on our shirts. It is
the unveiling of this design that I (and perhaps much of the world right
along with me) am anxious about: Will !
it be a Caravaggio or a Warhol?  Will world leadership be benign and
cooperative or repellent and ever more aggressive and catastrophic?

I have to say that I am just as optimistic as I was yesterday even though I
have probably lost my bet.  Bad design costs too much to draft and carry
out.  Perhaps the only thing we really have to worry about is the
occassional nutball.  Hopefully that is all that the present war is about.

Thanks for the argument; though I am not yet positive just who won or lost
since the war has not officially begun. And, in your postscript, you do say
"we all win something"

Oh yes, I do have a reservation about one of your statements below. I don't
think the world protest will have the terrible effect that you describe.  On
the contrary, we're much more likely now to get a post-war Caravaggio.


I was a little unfair to Mr. Warhol

-----Original Message-----
From: Erik Jacobs [mailto:jacobs at]
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 4:57 PM
To: kb at
Subject: RE: Seeing Double

Seth, Leslie:

I'm posting this response to Seth on the KB listserv, because it (sort of)
answers Leslie's questions as well.

I understand your frustration. One of the things I always have to keep
telling myself is that the other side also feels put upon.

You might be surprised to learn that I think that the protests were a good
thing too, but not for the same reason as you do (I'm sure). From my
perspective, they have come too late to influence the politics of the war.
The time for this would have been last summer. The political debate in the
Senate was settled before the election, and in the international community
by Resolution 1441.

Consequently, this weekend's protests can only have one real effect on the
war: They can cause us to look less united, and therefore weaker, to Saddam
Hussein which may make him more likely to fight-it-out-to-the-bitter-end.

This is a very bad thing.

Now, I previously wrote that I thought that the "protests were a good
thing." How do I square this circle? Simply, the protests have acted as a
safety-valve for those who are upset about the fact that they are powerless
to affect a change to the Bush policy. This is important in a democracy,
despite how it might look to a dictator.


P.S. Yes, Leslie. At one time, I was nearly unbeatable in chess. I let my
skills atrophy, because I couldn't stand to lose. I don't feel the same
about arguments. Even if you lose an argument, you gain something.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-kb at [mailto:owner-kb at]On Behalf Of
Leslie Bruder
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 4:20 PM
To: kb at
Subject: Seeing Double


I am guessing that you are a good chess player and I don't think I'm being
overly polite or apologetic for the list as a whole.  I only apologized for
the one-sidedness of my recent contributions.  That is why I drew attention
to Burke's bohemian meta-view of multiple perspectives.  Burke certainly
does seem conservative when he is talking about the earth and reigning in
the technological juggernaut.

If seeing all sides is liberal does that mean that seeing only one side is
conservative?  So the only alternative to being fair is being unfair and
throwing one's weight in with the single-minded and determined will to power
that is on the rise?

Seth asked, what is Bush about?  What are conservatives about?  What are
they for?  What do they want that liberals don't want?  Right now it appears
that the conservatives, to develop the freudian metaphore a bit, are the Id
while the liberals or democrats, the ego, are those trying to maintain their
composure on a runaway covered wagon; the superego is conspicuously missing.

(Have fun with these metaphors; they were meant to be stretched, twisted and
torched; the only argument I am trying to make is that we remain sane.)

What I love about the theory of disassociation/reassociation (the ambiguity
bidness, begun in CS and extensively developed thereafter) is that any
substantial identification, if tricked into talking overlong, will reveal
the mechanisms by which it maintains its form, and will show itself
perfectly capable of changing itself, but will realize that it risks losing
the advantages which a strong composure brings.  I'm not advocating the mosh
pit and orgy in which everyone loses their name. The conservatives, if there
is such an identifiable group, want others to change and bend to their will,
as much as they want to maintain their iron mask and authority (I'm talking
about anyone, anyone at all, who takes a strong position).

I have to say I'm much more interested in the arts than I am in power
politics.  If the right has both force and logic on its side then perhaps I
should just stay in my studio and paint my pretty pictures.  But I am also
hoping that those in power, left, right, twisted or otherwise, know what to
create, and then DO IT.



More information about the KB mailing list