Song of the Day #1897

Song of the Day: You’re All I Want for Christmas, words and music by Glen Moore and Seger Ellis, has been recorded by many artists through the years, including Bing Crosby (with the Andrews Sisters), Al Martino, and in a lush instrumental by Jackie Gleason [YouTube links] (with Pee Wee Erwin on trumpet). It’s Christmas Eve, and you can be sure I’ll put up another musical selection when Christmas arrives! Till then … don’t forget to Track Santa on NORAD!

Song of the Day #1896

Song of the Day: Christmas Every Day, words and lyrics by Dave Barnes, Cason Cooley, and David Archuleta, who sings this song from his 2018 album, “Winter in the Air.” Archuleta was a very young runner-up in Season 7 of “American Idol” (2008). This song has a finger-snappin’ sweetness. Check it out on YouTube. Two more musical selections to go till Santa touches down!

Empire Christmas

This is not a “Song of the Day,” because it was the featured song on December 29, 2008. But this wonderful light show atop the Empire State Building—my all-time favorite NYC skyscraper—took place on December 19, 2019, when Mariah Carey‘s 1994 holiday tune, “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” finally hit #1 atop the Billboard Hot 100—the first time any Christmas song hit the apex of that chart in 61 years (following “The Chipmunk Song” by David Seville). I know, I know, you’ve heard this song a million times… but you’ll likely never see it presented like this again.

Song of the Day #1895

Song of the Day: Salsoul Christmas Medley, produced, arranged, and conducted by Vincent Montana, Jr., is from the 1976 album, “Christmas Jollies,” by the Salsoul Orchestra. The album actually hit the Top 40 on the R&B chart. It’s a fun disco journey through carols and songs of the holiday season. And if you cringe over this … that’s part of the fun! Anyway, at 10:59 am (ET) today, it’s the Winter Solstice … which means, in the Northern Hemisphere, we begin our march toward the light! And only a few more days till Santa takes flight!

JARS December 2021 Now on Project Muse

The December 2021 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has now made its debut on Project Muse, after being made available on JSTOR. The hard copy will be in the hands of subscribers soon! Don’t miss this important issue, which includes my own essay, co-authored with Pavel Solovyev: “The Rand Transcript Revealed“!

Facebook: Philosophers as Profile Month 2021 (II)

As readers know, I chose Don Lavoie (1951-2001) as my first profile pic for the event, “Philosophers as Profile Pictures Month.” In keeping with the holiday season, however, I’m straying from the rules a bit, and staying with my current goofy profile pic on Facebook. But with a H/T to my friend Cory Massimino, who sponsored this year’s event, I wanted to highlight yet another philosopher, posting a passage that I initially discovered in an essay written by Cory, which is featured in the Routledge Handbook of Anarchy and Anarchist Thought, a worthwhile collection edited by my friend Gary Chartier and Chad Van Schoelandt.* The passage below is from a writer with whom I have some differences, but whose work, The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory (Crossing Press, 1983), contains so many thought-provoking pieces.

The author is philosopher Marilyn Frye and the passage contains one of the most dialectical formulations of the notion of “Oppression”—the name of the essay from which it is taken—that I’ve ever read. Frye begins by asking us to “Consider a birdcage” …

If you look very closely at just one wire in the cage, you cannot see the other wires. If your conception of what is before you is determined by this myopic focus, you could look at that one wire, up and down the length of it, and be unable to see why a bird would not just fly around the wire any time it wanted to go somewhere. Furthermore, even if, one day at a time, you myopically inspected each wire, you still could not see why a bird would have trouble going past the wires to get anywhere. There is no physical property of any one wire, nothing that the closest scrutiny could discover, that will reveal how a bird could be inhibited or harmed by it except in the most accidental way. It is only when you step back, stop looking at the wires one by one, microscopically, and take a macroscopic view of the whole cage, that you can see why the bird does not go anywhere; and then you will see it in the moment. It will require no great subtlety of mental powers. It is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon. (pp. 4-5)


I have to say that I can think of no clearer exposition of what it means to think dialectically about the interlocking social conditions that are inimical to the struggle for human freedom and human flourishing. Personally, I have authored a trilogy of works devoted to understanding the importance to libertarian social theory of grasping the full context of social relations and institutions—from the personal to the cultural to the political and economic dynamics—that constitute the given structural conditions of our world. Oppression is not strictly a personal or a cultural or a structural phenomenon. It is a condition that must be analyzed systemically and dynamically in its full context if it is to be changed radically.

In light of my recent series highlighting a new article, coauthored by Pavel Solovyev and me, on another woman philosopher, Ayn Rand, and her Soviet education during the Russian Silver Age, I wish to emphasize that Rand herself would have agreed both methodologically and substantively with this powerful description of the nature of oppression, even if she would have parted company with Frye’s “radical feminism.”

I should point out, however, that in coediting, with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, a 1999 anthology in the Penn State Press “Re-reading the Canon Series,” I am acutely aware of the tension between—and congruence of—Rand’s work with the many stripes of contemporary feminism.

In any event, as a concluding post for “Philosophers as Profile Pictures Month” (even if I’ve not changed my pic), I offer this portrait of Marilyn Frye. The eloquent passage I’ve highlighted is a stern warning of the dangers of reifying a single wire—a single part—as if it were the whole. To shift our vantage points, our perspectives, our levels of generality so that we can truly apprehend the larger cages that inhibit our ability to be free and to flourish is a monumental undertaking. Here’s to the day when our social life encourages, nourishes, and challenges each precious, individual human being to dismantle the cages and take flight, free as a bird.

Marilyn Frye (born 1941)

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* Ah! I knew I’d seen this passage even before Cory introduced me to it! Yikes! It actually appears in a book I coedited, with Roger Bissell and Ed Younkins: The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom. The essay, “Why Libertarians Should Be Social Justice Warriors”, is written by my friend Roderick Tracy Long. Check it out here. As I stated on Facebook:

I honestly did forget the Frye reference in Roderick’s chapter, which preceded my having seen Cory’s chapter in the Routledge anthology. And as coeditor of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, that’s my bad! Granted, I edited and proofed that chapter back in 2018-19, and the book was published in June 2019, and I coordinated our online Facebook seminar on the book, which ran for the first few months of 2020, in the middle of a pandemic. (And in truth, I’ve been juggling a few personal challenges and professional projects for over a year now… but that’s another story!)

Still, as one who cherishes charitable attribution, I apologize for having forgotten the Frye reference in Roderick’s wonderful chapter. But also, in truth, it was Cory’s terrific paper in the Routledge anthology, which highlighted that passage, and which sparked my interest to actually go out and get the Frye book and read it! And I’m glad I did. Hence, this post.

So my thanks to both Roderick and Cory for alerting me to this writer, and especially, this particularly eloquent passage from a 1983 book of which I was not aware—and yet, which encapsulates the kind of dialectical insights that I’ve been championing for the bulk of my professional life, stretching back more than four decades.

A New FB Profile Pic … for Christmas!

It was either that ^ or this:

🙂

Went with #1! 😉