Monday, August 3, 2009

Marxism revisited

I watched "Animal Crackers" this weekend, and I found it a mixed bag. It seemed to have more good lines than "A Night At The Opera," but I still didn't find myself doubled up with laughter. At one point, Harpo dealt cards for pinochle, in what may be the only funny thing I've seen him do. Best line: "One morning, I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know."

Did you know that Groucho's moustache was painted on? I never realized that. Now that I know, I can see it, but I'm surprised it's not more obvious. Probably the poor video quality makes it easier to hide; Groucho's blond wig is supposed to be red. Groucho did grow a moustache for his television show, "You Bet Your Life."

And now for that other kind of Marxism, historical materialism. I was attending a history conference once when a professor (Henry Heller) began his paper by pompously declaring that Marxism provides a more "sophisticated" basis for analysis than other theories. Apparently, it didn't strike him as ironic that he was calling a monocausal philosophy "sophisticated." Explaining all of history by reference to man's quest for material goods may be many things, but one thing it cannot be is sophisticated. To the contrary, it is reductionist. I happen to agree with Marxists that people are extraordinarily self-interested actors; I just think they have motivations other than the acquisition of wealth.

The beautiful magnolia tree apparently evolved before bees, so it is adapted to pollination by beetles. I wish I knew what specific adaptations would be conducive to beetle-borne pollination.

Yesterday, I was treated to a tuba accompanying the usual assortment of instruments in the church service. My assessment is that it did not work well. First Baptist: bringing you the sounds of the beer hall in church.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.
Edmund Burke

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