Friday, May 25, 2018

What Hath God Wrought? Free Online Course from Bear!

Note: Bear European Privacy Compliance Statement

If you're reading this from Europe, please go away. Bears have a very low tolerance for a bunch of foreign sissies demanding they get fussy about silly things. If you value your privacy that much, you should not be online in the first place. In fact, you should not leave your house.

The Bear is an intellectual. Just like this guy in the movie line from Annie Hall.

Most people would not call themselves intellectuals. It seems like a pose, or bragging about one's own intelligence. Also, intellectuals get made fun of a lot.

However, all the Bear means is that he is pursuing with whatever intellect, education, and experience he has, the traditional vocation of the intellectual, now largely abandoned. That is, thinking about stuff that affects everyone, but which no one else bothers with because they're busy leading productive lives and pursing particular ends.

Some may have run across the phrase "trahison des clercs," perhaps once or twice in this very ephemeris. Literally, it means "treason of the clerks," but a better translation would be the English title of Julien Benda's classic extended essay from 1929, The Treason of the Intellectuals. His argument and the Bear's intent can be put in a nutshell: the moment an intellectual picks a side, he becomes a traitor.

(See? Only intellectuals talk like that.)

Benda makes a pretty good case that everyone was better off when intellectuals devoted themselves to the general and disdained the particular. He saw in the political upheavals preceding and resulting in World War I the influence of French Thinkers, or German Thinkers, or Thinkers of the People. Such intellectuals were traitors to their historic vocation.

So, to what subject is the Bear directing his attention as a born-again intellectual?

Communication as medium separate from content.

You see, the Bear believes what we're doing here online may look like older methods of communication -- good old reliable print, in particular -- but is really nothing like anything we've seen before. Furthermore, this is distorting content and even changing the ways we can think. As one example, he believes this is contributing to a fragmented online simulacrum of the Catholic Church because Pope Francis and bloggers both have yet to realize how the new way they are trying to handle information is sabotaging their good intentions.

During the course, the usual content-oriented comments ("but the Pope is wrong because he said..") will be disallowed. However, comments about all forms of communication in general are encouraged, and may use any relevant examples, including -- as examples only and not pressing a particular point of view -- ones from the Church.

This is a huge topic, and a lesson the Bear has finally learned is that this is a hit-and-run medium. Therefore, this is just an advertisement for a free online course entitled: What Hath God Wrought. Your first homework assignment is to discover the significance of this phrase to the subject. You may provide your answers in the comments.

The optional textbook for overachievers is Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman (1985). Class begins Tuesday! See you then!


  1. "What hath God wrought", the official first Morse code message transmitted in the U.S. on May 24, 1844 to officially open the Baltimore-Washington telegraph line. Wikipedia.

    Meaning: The ability to send messages over the entire world quickly.

  2. Excellent! Go to the head of the class. But stick around, because, as you'll learn, there is a lot more to the story than that, like why your brain can't tell the difference between practicing the piano and imagining you're practicing the piano, and the alarming growth of the posterior hippocampus in London cabbies. Also, Ernie Kovacs.

  3. The Nairobi Trio never got old. Neither did the German street singer from Two Penny Opera doing Die Moritat (better known as the English pop song Mack the Knife).

  4. No idea what the heck you are talking about so I'm bound to learn something! What hath God wrought? This past Sunday I did hear about the Holy Trinity...and the release of creative powers vs another Trinity where a nuclear bomb was released to destroy.


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