Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Part 1

Me to another guy on Dennett on Wieseltier linked to below:

Dennett....It is not for science to say whether science belongs in morality and politics and art. Those are philosophical matters, and science is not philosophy, even if philosophy has since its beginnings been receptive to science.

This is true enough, if carefully interpreted, but Wieseltier asserts it without argument, showing that he himself is not even trying to be a philosopher, but rather a Wise Divulger of the Undeniable Verities. He knows—take it from him. So this simple passage actually illustrates the very weakness of the humanities today that has encouraged scientists and other conscientious thinkers to try their own hand at answering the philosophical questions that press in on us, venturing beyond the confines of their disciplines to fill the vacuum left by the humanities....

Me.....But it's "true enough" says Dennett. He may not have liked how W gets to the point, how he merely asserts it, whatever, but it's his whole case in a microcosm. It's a (self evident?) premise his argument is built on.

Dennett..... Wieseltier concedes the damage done to the humanities by postmodernism "and other unfortunate hermeneutical fashions of recent decades" but tries to pin this debacle on the "progressivism" the humanities was tempted to borrow from science. "The humanities do not progress linearly, additively, sequentially, like the sciences," he avers, in the face of centuries of scholarship and criticism in the humanities that have corrected, enlarged, illuminated, and advanced the understanding of all its topics and texts. All that accumulated knowledge used to be regarded as the intellectual treasure we humanities professors were dedicated to transmitting to the next generation....

Me....Don't we need to distinguish between the social science part of the humanities, which W doesn't do, and the arts part of the humanities? And while accumulated knowledge likely, I don't know enough to comment, leads I guess to progress in the social science, it surely doesn't for literature, art, music, dance, film, etc. or for philosophy. And that's his point here.

Dennett...but his alternative is surprisingly reminiscent of the just discredited fads; perhaps he has not completely purged his mind of the germs of postmodernism. Consider, for instance, this obiter dictum from Wieseltier:

...It is the irreducible reality of inwardness, and its autonomy as a category of understanding, over which Pinker, in his delirium of empirical research, rides roughshod. The humanities are the study of the many expressions of that inwardness.....

Me....In what sense irreducible? What inwardness, exactly, are we discussing? How has its autonomy as a category been established? In short, who says? Wieseltier says, on behalf on the humanities, which thus declares itself authoritative with all the pomposity of a fake pope. And notice the ambiguity: is the study of those many expressions itself a matter governed by the rules of empirical research, or is it just another set of expressions of inwardness, interpretations of interpretations of interpretations?

Part 2

Dennett.....Philosophical matters are those that demand answers that can stand up to all things considered and hence cannot be addressed without suspending the enabling assumptions of any more specific field of science or inquiry. Wieseltier seems to believe that these matters are the exclusive province of philosophers, professionals who have been licensed to hold forth on them because of some advanced training in the humanities that qualifies them to do this important work.

That is a common enough illusion, fostered by the administrative structures of academia, and indeed many (paid, professional, tenured) philosophers cling to it, but the plain fact is that every discipline generates philosophical issues as it advances, and they cannot be responsibly addressed by thinkers ignorant of the facts (the findings, the methods, the problems) encountered in those disciplines....

Me.....I'm just not following this in relation to W nor simply in what some of it says. For example, and to start, what is the meaning of the first sentence. I'm struggling with it. I understand the first part, I think: philosophical conclusions, or reasoning along the way, must be capable of withstanding any fair attack from any vantage point--"all things considered." It's the part that follows in that sentence that confuses me. So if one, say, wants to address philosophically the idea, W's main point, that the sciences and the humanities proceed incompatibly in approaching reality, neither having much to offer the other, then a quantitative psychologist would have to do what to address W's point: suspend his discipline's operating/enabling assumptions?

I'm lost.

But what does any of that, whatever it means, have to do with W's argument?

Dennett takes W's argument that what comprises the place and limits of science is not the province of science as such but of philosophy as such:

....The question of the place of science in knowledge, and in society, and in life, is not a scientific question. Science confers no special authority, it confers no authority at all, for the attempt to answer a nonscientific question. It is not for science to say whether science belongs in morality and politics and art. Those are philosophical matters, and science is not philosophy, even if philosophy has since its beginnings been receptive to science...

to mean that only in the cloistered precincts of philosophy can science's limits and place be defined and that scientists have nothing to add to it.

....That is a common enough illusion, fostered by the administrative structures of academia, and indeed many (paid, professional, tenured) philosophers cling to it...

But that's, I think, a nonsensical, off stride view of what W is saying. He's saying, rather, that when scientists speak of the limits and place of science they aren't *necessarily* in virtue of being scientists in a better position to pronounce on them than any others, as they necessarily are when they speak scientifically about things, that the limits and place of science is a philosophical question not a scientific one. (And Dennett, you'll recall, begins by agreeing, dismissively mind you, that W is right: ...This is true enough...)

Part 3

Dennett....A philosopher in the sub-discipline of aesthetics who held forth on the topic of beauty in music but who couldn't read music or play an instrument, and who was unfamiliar with many of the varieties of music in the world, would not deserve attention. Nor would an ethicist opining on what we ought to do in Syria who was ignorant of the history, culture, politics and geography of Syria. Those who want to be taken seriously when they launch inquiries about such central philosophical topics as morality, free will, consciousness, meaning, causality, time and space had better know quite a lot that we have learned in recent decades about these topics from a variety of sciences. Unfortunately, many in the humanities think that they can continue to address these matters the old-fashioned way, as armchair theorists in complacent ignorance of new developments.

Me:....I used to study English literature up to getting an MA. I have kept up a little in the trends in academic literary criticism, albeit increasingly as an amateur, a layman, someone increasingly distanced from the field. I know slightly there has been some movement in it to read neuro-science and cognitive into the critical reading of texts.

My academic friends don't think much of it. I really can't comment but remain skeptical and report that reaction for what it is worth.

Here the best eaten pudding for proof is made up of the examples Pinker offers as evidence for how applying science enriches the study of the arts. I can't think of any examples that are in the least persuasive and, going from memory, recall W decimating his example of the learning of psychology deepening  our understanding of the beginning of Anna Karenina on the sameness of happy families and the singularity of unhappy families.

There's another point to be made here that shows why Dennett is off base. Literature, other arts,  remain to be studied in their own terms. I can't tell you how many essays I've read, for example, about Keats's two lines about truth and beauty, which essays became an extended discussion, in the way of philosophy, of those lines wrenched from poetic context.

They're nonsense as a matter of a proper, as the academy would have it, critical appreciation of the poem, the nonsense stemming from the disjuncture between the understanding those lines as part of and integrally connected to the poem and the essays' philosophical excursions.

Northrop Frye wrote correctly in The Anatomy of Criticism, paraphrase, that critical emphasis should bear proportion to the emphasis in the text. A corollary of that proposition is art that should be critically understood by reference to the artistic use of the artistic materials being considered, language and its usage, paint and its usage, etc. I'd venture the thought that neuro science or psychology, other sciences, have not much to tell us about the critical appreciation of texts unless the author incorporates that content into his work.

Dennett concluding .......Pomposity can be amusing, but pomposity sitting like an oversized hat on top of fear is hilarious. Wieseltier is afraid that the humanities are being overrun by thinkers from outside, who dare to tackle their precious problems—or "problematics" to use the, um, technical term favored by many in the humanities. He is right to be afraid. It is true that there is a crowd of often overconfident scientists impatiently addressing the big questions with scant appreciation of the subtleties unearthed by philosophers and others in the humanities, but the way to deal constructively with this awkward influx is to join forces and educate them, not declare them out of bounds. The best of the "scientizers" (and Pinker is one of them) know more philosophy, and argue more cogently and carefully, than many of the humanities professors who dismiss them and their methods on territorial grounds. You can't defend the humanities by declaring it off limits to amateurs. The best way for the humanities to get back their mojo is to learn from the invaders and re-acquire the respect for truth that they used to share with the sciences.

Me.....Dennett  here misreads W and distorts his argument. (A circumstantial indicator is that W wouldn't use the word "problematics" and disdains those who do, just as he disdains Pomo as jargon ridden distraction.)

W has no fear of thinkers from the outside invading protected turf and I'd ask for textual evidence of this in his essay. Nor, in the same vein, does W want to "defend the humanities by declaring it off limits to amateurs." This distortion, as noted, runs through Dennett's short piece.

W isn't in the academy and he has no territorial turf to defend as such. He is concerned to stand against wrong claims that science has something to offer the "internal" study of the arts, I.E. not the sociology of them, the economics of them, the neuro-cognitive nature of our responses to them, and so on, but the critical appreciation of the arts on their terms.

Behind W's position lies his confrontation with Pinker's claim that Stephen Jay Gould was wrong, (as was C.P. Snow), that the sciences and the humanities are not distinct realms of experience, do not approach experience fundamentally differently. These themes are different from what Dennett ascribes to W.

 I'll end this by repeating a just made point. Let Pinker or Dennett give good examples to support how the insights of science aid us in the critical appreciation of the arts, and then we'd have something more fruitful to discuss.

Why Machiavelli Still Matters

NYT. 12,10,13

FIVE hundred years ago, on Dec. 10, 1513, Niccolò Machiavelli sent a letter to his friend Francesco Vettori, describing his day spent haggling with local farmers and setting bird traps for his evening meal. A typical day for the atypical letter writer, who had changed from his mud-splattered clothes to the robes he once wore as a high official in the Florentine republic.
Toward the end of the letter Machiavelli mentions for the first time a “little work” he was writing on politics. This little work was, of course, “The Prince.”
One of the remarkable things about “The Prince” is not just what Machiavelli wrote, but that he was able to write at all. Just 10 months earlier, he endured the “strappado”: Hands tied behind his back, he was strung to a prison ceiling and repeatedly plunged to the floor.
Having at the time just been given the task of overseeing the foreign policy and defense of his native city, he was thrown out of his office when the Medici family returned to power. The new rulers suspected him of plotting against them and wanted to hear what he had to say. Machiavelli prided himself on not uttering a word.
He may well have saved his words for “The Prince,” dedicated to a member of the family who ordered his torture: Lorenzo de Medici. With the book, Machiavelli sought to persuade Lorenzo that he was a friend whose experience in politics and knowledge of the ancients made him an invaluable adviser.
History does not tell us if Lorenzo bothered to read the book. But if he did, he would have learned from his would-be friend that there are, in fact, no friends in politics.
“The Prince” is a manual for those who wish to win and keep power. The Renaissance was awash in such how-to guides, but Machiavelli’s was different. To be sure, he counsels a prince on how to act toward his enemies, using force and fraud in war. But his true novelty resides in how we should think about our friends. It is at the book’s heart, in the chapter devoted to this issue, that Machiavelli proclaims his originality.
Set aside what you would like to imagine about politics, Machiavelli writes, and instead go straight to the truth of how things really work, or what he calls the “effectual truth.” You will see that allies in politics, whether at home or abroad, are not friends.
Perhaps others had been deluded about the distinction because the same word in Italian — “amici” — is used for both concepts. Whoever imagines allies are friends, Machiavelli warns, ensures his ruin rather than his preservation.
There may be no students more in need of this insight, yet less likely to accept it, than contemporary Americans, both in and outside the government. Like the political moralizers Machiavelli aims to subvert, we still believe a leader should be virtuous: generous and merciful, honest and faithful.
Yet Machiavelli teaches that in a world where so many are not good, you must learn to be able to not be good. The virtues taught in our secular and religious schools are incompatible with the virtues one must practice to safeguard those same institutions. The power of the lion and the cleverness of the fox: These are the qualities a leader must harness to preserve the republic.
For such a leader, allies are friends when it is in their interest to be. (We can, with difficulty, accept this lesson when embodied by a Charles de Gaulle; we have even greater difficulty when it is taught by, say, Hamid Karzai.) What’s more, Machiavelli says, leaders must at times inspire fear not only in their foes but even in their allies — and even in their own ministers.
What would Machiavelli have thought when President Obama apologized for the fiasco of his health care rollout? Far from earning respect, he would say, all he received was contempt. As one of Machiavelli’s favorite exemplars, Cesare Borgia, grasped, heads must sometimes roll. (Though in Borgia’s case, he meant it quite literally, though he preferred slicing bodies in half and leaving them in a public square.)
Machiavelli has long been called a teacher of evil. But the author of “The Prince” never urged evil for evil’s sake. The proper aim of a leader is to maintain his state (and, not incidentally, his job). Politics is an arena where following virtue often leads to the ruin of a state, whereas pursuing what appears to be vice results in security and well-being. In short, there are never easy choices, and prudence consists of knowing how to recognize the qualities of the hard decisions you face and choosing the less bad as what is the most good.
Those of us who see the world, if not in Manichaean, at least in Hollywoodian terms, will recoil at such claims. Perhaps we are right to do so, but we would be wrong to dismiss them out of hand. If Machiavelli’s teaching concerning friends and allies in politics is deeply disconcerting, it is because it goes to the bone of our religious convictions and moral conventions. This explains why he remains as reviled, but also as revered, today as he was in his own age.
John Scott and Robert Zaretsky are, respectively, the chairman of the department of political science at the University of California, Davis, and a professor of history at the University of Houston. They are the authors of “The Philosophers’ Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume and the Limits of Human Understanding.”

Monday, December 9, 2013

Me, Van Meter, Chotiner On Julia Louis Dreyfus

Van Meter on Julia Louis Dreyfus:

Isaac Chotiner briefly on Van Meter:

And me:

....I think she's great, was great in Seinfeld, so funny in Old Christine and a complex, funny, subtle character in Veep, which is an incredibly smart and funny show that seems to nail a lot of the way politics is, in a way that David E. Kelly would like too but can't IMHO.I haven’t seen Enough Said, and look forward to it. Dreyfus has the gift of the zotz.

But I found the sheer, non stop gush of Van Meter's portrayal, finally, an irritating obstruction, (too bad too, for all the vivid, stylish and smart writing), and redolent of a particular sensibility--what could that be I wonder?-- not that there's anything wrong with what it, whatever it might be.

Being a devotee of Larry David, I'd quarrel, without disinterest, with this:

... the fact that Louis-Dreyfus, 52, is the only person from that show who has completely moved on and remained … vital and modern and daring.

Besides that this isn’t a fact, it’s a judgment, it's also comparing apples and mongooses. No fight she’s a more capacious actor than him, and specifically a better comedic actor, his range being so limited, and no fight Clear History was ok, but only so,so. But, besides being the fundamental creative comic pulse of Seinfeld, which will likely never get old, and can stand up well, in its own way,with Veep,the staying power over time of which I tend to doubt, let alone its sheer lack of comparable cultural iconography and resonance, David puts together Curb Your Enthusiasm, writing, acting, producing, sometimes directing, a kind of hovering genius-God over it, the way David Simon was to The Wire, David Chase was to The Sopranos, and the way David Milich was to Deadwood. The Davids have it. And who's to say his accomplishment in Curb Your Enthusiasm is less vital, modern and daring than all of what Dreyfus has *acted in* since Seinfeld?

Some comparisons are necessary and wanted. Some are unneeded and unwanted, or, even if needed and wanted, fallacious in their substance. As here. Hence odious.

Plus I’d add this gush of Van Meter's to Chotiner's list of nine.

As a kind of sidebar postscript, what’s with this: ... Elton John: a national treasure, still trying to surprise us... Really, a national treasure, say the way Sinatra was, or Elvis, or Ray Charles, or Billie Holiday, or Bessie Smith, or Ella Fitzgerald, or Miles Davis, or James Brown, or John Coltrane, or Charlie Parker, or Dylan, just to pick a few immediate names from the hat of my mind? I don’t think so, not hardly at all.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Short (Sour) Note On Midnight Train To Lisbon

I just saw Bille August's Night Train To Lisbon, which I found in no particular order, unegaging, puzzling, pretentious, pseudo-arty, boring, and soporific. As to that last characteristic, I can attest to it: I fell asleep for about 20' roughly 1/3 of the way through.

Pretentious and pseudo-arty because the supposedly philosophical profundities in the dead doctor's book are bland thoughts, cliches really, such as about the relations between past, present and future, the discovery of our morality as we age, and the need to live full, vital lives. Not that these thoughts aren't worthy, but the movie confers such an august, no pun intended, imprimatur of depth to them, that the discrepancy between their relative ordinariness and that conferral is irritating.

Puzzling because

SPOILER ALERT, (as if anyone would care)

the love between the doctor and Estefania, so fraught, so intense, so long suppressed, so fought against, as August would have it, contrivedly founders, even as the reasons are given, the moment its possibility eventuates, leading to the response in me of "You've got to be f.....g kidding."

Matching that contrivance is the whole absurd arc of Irons's story, bizarre coincidence generating bizarre coincidence such that you'd think the movie was exercise in a kind of gritty, political revolution-filled and entirely anomalous magic realism.

By the way the reason the girl wants to jump off the bridge in the opening scene is later revealed as equally ridiculous.

IMHO natcherly.

Short Note On Easy Money

I just saw Daniel Espinosa's Easy Money. It has a lot of excellent elements:

good acting,

a strong story line with good side stories that flow easily and naturally in out of the main story,

individual exciting or touching scenes, as intended, especially between the enforcer, Mrado, and his daughter,

the cross sections of Swedish society spanning from immigrant low level criminals to the elite rich and their families,

the familiar, but no less interesting for that, theme of a young man from the provinces, the business student J.W. needing to present himself as rich to maintain his place with his fellow students, the elite rich of his generation he socializes with and the woman among them who falls in love with him and therefore turning to a one off criminal involvement to get rich,

the surprise at the depth of her love for him,

the inherent and remorseless murderous corruption, as in "no honour among thieves," of criminality, and its breeding of desperateness and delusion for those who would seek to gain by it.

And other things too.

But it's often insert, with dull scenes between characters that take too long without enough pay off to warrant their length, and with their inertness being inexcusable.

So I struggled to watch it through, feeling there was something ongoingly worthwhile in it but frustrated by what an effort it all was.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Reason As The Unity Behind All Religions

There was in a recent TNR a long essay by a Harvard history prof, I think a historian of intellectual history, Peter Gordon, which focused on reason as the essence of God and the means of people, as divine in their souls, that divinity marked by reason, apprehending God. That essay spawned a number of interesting and civil conversations on the subsequent thread. Here's my comment addressed to a couple of nice guys, which I think is self contained as to its meaning, if anyone's interested. Highly unlikely. The link follows my comments.

Jack, Wayne:

I agree with both of you on the general insufficiency of "just a story" in characterizing the great religious texts. But, to be a bit contrarian, I can imagine instances when, depending on context, that phrase might be apt, and it could be apt in context with reference to the great texts of literature as well. But it's poor in denying the riches of those texts, even as one comes at them as a non believer, as I do.

I'm interested in Gordon's concluding paragraph in relation to Jack's last comments

....This breakup of the old philosophical union between God and Reason is another name for the great disentanglement in the history of ideas that some theorists still call secularization. The breakup may strike us as irrevocable. But if Fraenkel is right, then the story of philosophical religion reveals a painful irony: the democratic sentiments that now inhibit us from distinguishing between non-philosophers and philosophers have also made it increasingly difficult for us to look past the literal contents of various religious traditions to a shared philosophical commitment within. Our own egalitarianism, in other words, is an obstruction to the kind of contextualist pluralism once upheld by the most subtle thinkers of the Abrahamic religions. The most zealous advocates for religion today are populists and literalists, and they have abandoned the principles of interpretation that made philosophical religion a possibility. Nathan’s is a lonely voice in the midst of war.....

I find a paradox in these comments that goes with a tension in the very theme Gordon presents about the underlying unity of the great religions despite their apparent differences, that unity, in a nutshell in Gordon's words, "...the essential sameness of ethical aspiration..." Gordon traces the argument that when religion had a mind, reason, philosophers, that is to say, could see through superficial variation to the underlying unity: "...But for those who are philosophers like Lessing himself, the variations will seem unimportant...We grow intolerant when we take notice only of the outward forms, but the truly wise will discern the unity within plurality."

The paradox in the general presentation of Gordon's argument for me lies in the simplicity, no less profound for that, of the truth of the content of that unity. For what the story of Nathan tells us, I'd argue, is of the expansive nature of benevolent goodness: "...The judge admonishes the sons to model themselves after their father in unprejudiced affection, each to strive to outdo his brothers in benevolence..." That "ethical aspiration" is the key; and the forms of religion are its husks. So unless Gordon has a different notion of "philosopher" in mind than what the term is usually taken to mean, the different notion perhaps equating wisdom with philosophy, I'm hard pressed to understand why it takes the subtle intellectual capacity, the ability to make logical distinctions, see through the fallacies in arguments, reason rigorously, and so on, I associate with philosophy, to understand that simple though profound unity. I'm hard pressed to understand why that simple but profound truth isn't accessible to most of us non philosophers, why for us "noble lies" are the ticket.

The related paradox in Gordon's concluding paragraph is of the same order: why, if democratic notions of the day command us, in their aim for correctness, to treat all philosophers and non philosophers alike--even granting that doubtful and over-general proposition--is it, again, that most of us can't take in the simple truth of that unity? What need have we, really, for "...the kind of contextualist pluralism once upheld by the most subtle thinkers of the Abrahamic religions?" I can't see how our insistence on egalitarianism--even granting that insistence, which I don't save for the sake of argument here--obstructs our ability to get to that truth.

And isn't Jack making this point when he says,

....Just stories...... without going into apologetics or scientific theorizing I believe these Just Stories can and often do contain comprehensive lessons to include emanating implied material more encompassing and complete than any philosophical dispensation might reveal. Sometimes the unwashed are more constitutionally intuitively informed than the best philosophizers or scientificizers. As a child better disposed to the simple truth....

I'm sure there are answers to these paradoxes and I'm interested in getting them. For me, as I think about it right now, we all understand ethical aspiration and our falling short it every day, every way as the "Satan" in us so inclines us away from it, that we generally resent, suspect and recoil from the type of person we describe as the "do gooder." The world, for me, is too complex for the shining profundity of ethical aspiration. My notion of things is caught by the idea of negative capability, in the words of Wallace Stevens:

The imperfect is our paradise.

Note that, in this bitterness, delight,

Since the imperfect is so hot in us,

Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds,

in the pervasive and often tragic clash between "right against right," such that these complexities belie the simplicity and applicability of the ideal of ethical aspiration.

After all, whose ethics and whose means of achieving them?

On Honour And Rob Ford

I've been thinking some about honour lately. That's been prompted by some of what I learned from Michael Sandel's book on justice, and his twelve lectures on justice, What's The Right Thing To Do, as applied to the misadventures of my infamous mayor, Rob Ford, now stripped of much of his power though still retaining the status of his office.

I thought about Falstaff's famous words in the Henry plays, in which he lances empty honour, something Shakespeare loathed, especially at the cost of human life in its name. Falstaff, the pragmatist as cynic, in a negative sense of pragmatist, encapsulates his argument on honour when he says "discretion is the better part of valour." Hotspur embodies one conception of honour that Falstaff rejects. We're much persuaded and amused by and attracted to Falstaff and his views, earthy and grounded, as much as Hal the Prince himself is, in that phase of his life.

But, while Shakespeare creates in Falstaff a figure of irresistible and magnetic vitality, it comes ripping off the page, finally The Prince, that tavern-based part of his life complete, (and Shakespeare too, thematically), rejects Falstaff. He is in his essence a whoring, lying fraud, an embodiment of falsity.

In that rejection lies a distinction between empty honour, its murderous fatuity, and honour with substance, grounding the claims of true valour. For the cynic, nothing is worth anything, nothing that calls for sacrifice counts as worthwhile precisely because it imperils the self. For the cynic only what's good for the self counts as worthwhile. Falstaff is an object lesson in the exclusive claims of the self, claims made all the more difficult to penetrate by virtue of how compellingly attractive he is. And what Prince Hal must leave behind, nay must reject and expel, in donning the sober mantle of responsible power, are those claims, cynical and false as they are.

In his book and lectures, Sandel argues that we must, more than, or in addition to, cost benefit, take account of the integrity, the honourifics, the purpose of any enterprise or project we think important, teleological reasoning, to give it a fancy name. Our reasoning, our arguments, about issues affecting matters we think important, must contain, Sandel argues and I agree, an account of their purpose and must be measured by how the integrity of that purpose is advanced or retarded.

These few thoughts form my view that those who argue that my Mayor ought to be left alone, his private life being private, he not being corrupt in the carrying out of his duties, (and a few eminent people have argued this), miss entirely the dimension of honour and integrity as fundamental to leadership and holding office. Their argument makes the notion of "disgracing the office" meaningless, strips office holding, the higher the office the more so is the case, of a fundamentally important aspect of its meaning. (As for what conduct finally counts as creating that disgrace, that is a separate issue. In the case of Ford, there is for me no question that he has disgraced his office.)

So it's good that Ford has been stripped of much of his functional power. But, for me, it's frustratingly outrageous that he still retains his status as mayor, even while I understand that legally, as things now stand in Ontario, it seems draconian to pass laws, which could in principle be done, only to take away his status as mayor.

To try to put some of this together, Ford stands as an unrejected, unexpelled Falstaff, infecting the mayoralty somewhat as Falstaff would have, had Hal brought him into court as a confidant and close to power.