Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Kripkean Metaphysics and Personal Eschatology

“I am myself alone.”
                                Shakespeare, III Hen. VI, V.vi
Last ev'ning, and last ev'ning, and last ev'ning,
Struts out that noble sprint to night from night,
From the first hyphen-mark of forgotten space;
But nary an afternight shall earplug seers
An end from spotless life. In, in long muffler!
Death's e'en the crawling halo, the rich worker
That creeps and lolls her aeon in a pit,
But there is seen anew: it is the show
Shown to the genius, full of sight or smugness
Incarnating plenty.
                    Harold Standshield, The Tragedie of O’Shin (1597), V. v. 24-35
…I have one part of modesty, which I have seldome discovered in another, that is (to speake truly) I am not so much afraid of death, as ashamed thereof; tis the very disgrace and ignominy of our natures, that in a moment can so disfigure us that our nearest friends, Wife, and Children stand afraid and start at us. The Birds and Beasts of the field that before in a naturall feare obeyed us, forgetting all allegiance begin to prey upon us. This very conceite hath in a tempest disposed and left me willing to be swallowed up in the abysse of waters; wherein I had perished unseene, unpityed, without wondring eyes, teares of pity, Lectures of mortality, and none had said, quantum mutatus ab illo!
                                Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, Part I, Section 39
Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom.
Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol.  I, Chapter III.
Before this time another year, I may be gone in some lonesome graveyard.  O Lord, how long?
TRADITIONAL

There’s this joke, you see—I know neither if it is an old joke, unless fifteen to twenty years counts as old in the joke world (supposing there even is such a thing as the joke world in the sense of a world in which jokes are sedulously savored, catalogued, retailed, etc., rather than in the sense of a joke of a world, an entity-class or set of which we can of course reasonably affirm that it contains at least one empirically extant member), because I am pretty sure I heard it for the first time fifteen to twenty years ago; nor if it is particularly famous (or notorious), because I have had it retailed to me exactly once, a fact that could be enlisted with equal plausibility in a case for its obscurity and in a case for its fame (or notoriety), for on the one hand, the chances must be small indeed that some random schlub (for it was indeed a random schlub who retailed the joke to me) told me a joke that nobody or hardly-anybody else was telling at the time; and on the other hand, equally picayune seem the chances that the joke was and is at all popular, at least in the sense of having more than a modicum of staying power, given that I have been told it merely once.  In any event, I suspect that it is not nearly as famous (or notorious) as the chicken-crossing-the-road joke or the dog-licking-its-own-balls joke, such that I probably cannot get away with simply naming it as I just did those two and assume that the name will instantly convey the entire joke to the reader’s mind, such that I am afraid I am going to have to tell the joke and thereby risk revealing myself to be insufferably naff, for insufferably naff is indeed what I will be seen to be and indeed actually be (for in the domain of naff, being and seeming are one) supposing that the joke is actually quite famous (or notorious), famous or notorious in to the extent that a plurality of people have heard it more than once and therefore know that it is famous or notorious (and are therefore in a position to judge its every non-knower as insufferably naff).   Anyway, the joke goes something like this (and please be assured, dear gentle reader, that nothing but the non-oral non-realzeitig nature of this impartment is preventing me from urging you right now, à la Mr. Morrissey, to “stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before” [though I suppose you must already think me insufferably naff in supposing that you need to be reminded that it was Mr. Morrissey who said “SMiYTtYHTOB”]: this guy goes to visit Beethoven’s tomb.  And when I say “this guy,” I mean somebody whom you or I would refer to as “this guy” without any sort or degree of compunction, in this case mainly historically minded compunction, the compunction you might feel obliged to bestow on, say, a junior contemporary of Beethoven’s, a man in a cutaway coat and a shirt with frilled cuffs (plus the historically correspondent trousers, shoes, etc., of course [although if he were wearing nothing but the coat and the shirt it would make no material difference to the point at hand]), a man whom one might consequently feel obliged to style a gentleman or fellow rather than a guy, inasmuch as however low his social standing may have been he might have challenged you to a duel had he discovered that you had hyper-explicitly likened him to a grotesque mannequin burnt on the fifth of November; no, this guy, the jokey visitant to Beethoven’s tomb, is manifestly one of us, a man who not only wouldn’t but couldn’t be caught dead in anything more formal or old-timey than a two-piece tux or business suit.  So, anyway, this guy goes to visit Beethoven’s tomb.  What Beethoven’s tomb actually looks like or consists of I have no idea, because I have never visited it myself or been at all curious to look up photos of it.  Certainly, in the light of what I know about other illustrious composers’ tombs, I would not be surprised if it were nothing more than a grave, such that the only part of it visible above ground would be its headstone.  Such, I believe is the case with Mahler’s tomb, and Leonard Bernstein has gone for an even more humble presentation than that, opting for one of those small rectangular copper plinths set almost flush with the surrounding earth.  In any event, the joke seems to envisage Beethoven’s tomb as one of those at-least-partially-above-ground structures perhaps known as a crypt, but perhaps also known as a vault (perhaps quite understandably in or for a post-Victorian pleb I am not at all au courant on the nomenclature of tombs; those in search of the sort of sepulchre I have in mind need go no farther than the BBC’s 1977 and 1978 versions of Dracula and Romeo and Juliet, respectively, and reduce the multi-family-unit sized tombs depicted therein to bachelor-flattish dimensions), because it describes the visitor as peering into the tomb through some sort of gap or chink and beholding Beethoven sitting at a table and applying an eraser to sheet after sheet of manuscript score paper, and depositing the erased sheet in a stack of hundreds if not thousands of such now-noteless sheets.  The visitor, his reverence for the master and its attendant reticence being momentarily overpowered by his bemusement by the bizarreness of the activity immediately in view, asks Beethoven what the heck he is doing.  Whereupon the master leaves off erasing just long enough to reply with characteristic gruffness, “What the heck does it look like I’m doing?  I’m decomposing.”
Here is  another example of something I have already had occasion to mention in these pages—a joke that I have ceased to find funny because I have come to see it as true, or at least insufficiently false.  In order to find funny the joke I have just recounted, one must share its presupposition that decompose is effectively construable as a homonym along the lines of bear, which carries two completely mutually unrelated senses, one meaning “carry” and the other meaning “a certain kind of animal”; that to decompose by turning into a skeleton and to decompose by obliterating works of music you have written are two entirely distinct and mutually incompatible acts.  Having come to regard the two acts as not only mutually compatible but even mutually complementary and conducive, I can no longer appreciate the humor of the joke—at least not directly.  How am I to take the reader with me in the sense that old Capulet wished to be taken by his wife?  Obviously I do not believe that the dissolution of the corpse of Ludwig van Beethoven over the past 189 years has led to the disappearance of the autograph scores of “Für Elise,” the C minor symphony, op. 111, autc. from the shelves of whichever archives or collectors’ libraries in which they ended up after the master’s disparation.  Nor, probably not so obviously, do I believe that decomposition in the second sense, the neologistic sense established by the joke, is a phenomenon peculiar to music; while the joke would not have worked had it been about Shakespeare or Raphael, this would have been owing not to the essential character of the activity denoted by decomposition in the second sense, but rather to a linguistic accident, the accident that in English we talk preeminently of the writing and painting rather than of the composition of plays and paintings, respectively.  Finally—though (one hopes) most obviously of all—I do not believe that the corpse of Beethoven has recently been pottering about the interior of his (or its) tomb, nor, indeed, do I believe that it has been doing anything since 1827 but lying still and decomposing in the first, established, sense.  So I evidently believe that Shakespeare, Raphael, and Beethoven, along with all other artists who have been dead since at least 1827, are all decomposers in the second, neologistic sense.  How so?  Well, inasmuch as they have all been decomposing in the first, established sense, for a much longer span of time than the span thereof occupied by their activity as producers of works of art.  To be sure, Beethoven is and always will be the composer of sixteen string quartets, thirty-two piano sonatas, nine symphonies, an opera, etc., just as Shakespeare is and always will be the author of thirty-five to forty plays, 154 sonnets, two narrative poems, &c. and Raphael is and always will be the painter of all those Madonna-&-Childs, The School of Athens, that picture of the guy with the beard and big soft black hat (art history is not my strong suit, and indeed is something of a piano chez moi), etc., but to describe Beethoven, Shakespeare, or Raphael as a composer, poet-dramatist, or painter (respectively) tout court, plain and simple, seems to be mildly licentiously fawning to say the least given that none of them has produced even the roughest of drafts of a work in his fame-garnering bailiwick in centuries.  (Raphael in particular is an egregious slacker, being within five years of attaining a full half-millennium of inactivity; one may indeed be forgiven for suspecting that he is going for some sort of record.)  The licentiousness becomes especially evident, and therefore all the more galling, when one considers hypothetical examples of such tout-courtistic nomination from the other direction, the direction of opprobrious tout-courtistic nomination.  To call a person who habitually wets his or her bed or habitually sucks his or her thumb a bed-wetter or thumb-sucker (respectively) seems only just; to persist in calling such a person a bet-wetter or thumb-sucker a year or even two years after his or her last documented act of bed-wetting or thumb-sucking is probably justifiable in the light of the plausible threat of recidivism.  But to call him or her a bed-wetter or thumb-sucker thirty years after that last documented act is surely utterly outrageous and uncalled-for because he or she has kept his sheets dry or thumb well clear of his or her mouth (save perhaps on two or three occasions in order to employ the nail as an impromptu toothpick) for dozens of times as long as he or she habitually failed to do so; one would be almost as far without one’s rights to call him or her an incontinent because he or she voided into diapers from birth until the age of, say, twenty-eight months.  Moreover, one flinches or blenches somewhat from or at the notion of calling such a (say) thirty-nine-year old a former bed-wetter or thumb-sucker, given that the last documented act of bed-wetting or thumb-sucking is so far in the past; one might even go so far as to say that by now the bed-wetting or thumb-sucking phase has dwindled to such an arithmetically insignificant portion of his or her years that it does not even deserve to figure in his or her curriculum vitae at all, that in the eyes of the present world his or her twenty years of achievement as a non-bed-wetter or non-thumb-sucker have all but completely obliterated his or her (say) two or three years of miscreancy as an habitual thumb-sucker or bed-wetter, that all documented instances of his or her thumb-sucking or bed-wetting have by now been expunged from his or her so-called permanent record.  Suppose, moreover, that in the meantime he or she has established quite a stable and lucrative trade as a bum bailiff or quantity surveyor, that he or she has been uninterruptedly making a living off of bum-bailing and quantity-surveying for, say, 15 years or, say, seven times as long a stretch as the one framed by his or her first and last instances of bed-wetting or thumb-sucking.  Surely in that case one now feels seven times as justified in terming him or her a bum-bailiff or quantity-surveyor as one felt in terming him or her a bed-wetter or thumb-sucker during the meridian or high season of his or her bed-wetting or thumb-sucking.  Have I taken the reader with me in my actual flinching or blenching, my potential going-so-far-as-to-say, and my assured multiplied justification on this score?  Very well, then: all I am asking him or her to do is to extend this vocational-nominative parsimony-cum-largesse to Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Raphael; hence, to blench from the notion of terming each of them a composer, a poet-playwright, or a painter, respectively, and to embrace the notion of collectively designating them decomposers.  Just as the whilom bed-wetter or thumb-sucker turned bum bailiff or quantity surveyor now deserves to be regarded solely as a bum bailiff or quantity surveyor and never to have his or her long-since discontinued career as a bed-wetter or thumb-sucker brought before his, her, or the public’s view, so Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Raphael now deserve to be regarded solely as decomposers and never to be feted for having composed the “Tempest” sonata or written Hamlet or painted Guy with Beard and Big Soft Black Hat, respectively.  What could be simpler, more axiomatic, more watertight, more open-and-shut, more apodictic?  But of course I dare not repose such adamantine trust in the ineluctable eloquence of impeccable logic as to presume that there are not titters of unflappably smug demurral now coursing through the virtual nine-tenths- empty none-too-large lecture hall that (at largest) is my readership.  And I dare say I know exactly what these titters are being occasioned by, viz. by my apparent failure to take stock of a genre of event whose documented supervention in the existences of Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Raphael sets them apart nominability-wise (in the titterers’ eyes) from my (construably) former bed-wetter or thumb-sucker-cum-present bum bailiff or quantity surveyor, in whose existence it has not supervened—viz. the genre of event known as biological death.  It would be all very well, think the presumptive (and presumptuous) titterers, to deny Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Raphael their respective professional honorifics if all three of them were still alive and none of them despite being alive had produced a work in his artistic bailiwick of fame in the past 189, 400, and 496 years, respectively.  To be sure one is indeed (so the titterers indulgently concede for the record) all too strongly and legitimately tempted to downplay such honorifics chez certain artists who devoted a disproportionately large portion of their biological lives to activities having no bearing whatsoever on their artistic output—chez, for instance, Arthur Rimbaud, on account of his post-dichterische career as a coffee import-export baron, or Philip Larkin, on account of the several decades he spent as an administrator of university libraries—and hence to reword the openings of their respective Who’s Who entries so as to make them read Coffee import-export baron and poet and Academic librarian and poet, respectively.  But to hold their artistic inactivity since their respective deaths against them and consequently to reword their respective Who’s Who entry-openings so as to make them read Decomposer and coffee import-export baron and Academic librarian and decomposer and academic librarian (for as of this writing Larkin’s period of decomposition is ever so slightly briefer than his period of university library administration), respectively–why, that is clearly a bridge (or rather, in this context, a ferryman’s fording) too far.  For surely it goes without saying (or at least ought to go without saying) that one of the necessary preconditions of activity is existence, and inasmuch as biological death marks the end of personal existence in a so (and in this case entirely rightly) called very real sense, the artistic inactivity of all these so (and in this case very wrongly) called decomposers cannot be held against them qua artists.  But here, at the doubtless very real risk of voiding the lecture hall completely, I must explicitly part ways and company with the titterers, for I cannot bring myself to concede that biological death marks the end of existence in an even slightly real sense.  What is more, “society,” or received wisdom, or established practice, bears me out on this point.  Consider the classic sepulchral lapidary formula Here lies (a.k.a., in ancient times, hic jacet) + YOUR NAME HERE.  It explicitly states that the entity lying in the designated place is the person bearing the inscribed name—the person himself or herself, not his or her mortal remains, corporeal integument, or what have you.  “But does not the very currency of such expressions as mortal remains, corporeal integument, and what have you tell quite strongly against your argument, suggesting as it does that ‘society,’ or received wisdom, or established practice regards biological death as the end of personal existence in a so (and in this case entirely rightly) called very real sense?”  No, at best or most it tells quite weakly against my argument in suggesting that ‘society’ et al. & c. is mildly ambivalent about the identification of a person with his or her body (a. tellingly k., in certain formal or official settings, a. his or her person).  For even mortal remains, by far the most commonly about-bandied of such expressions, contains more than a kernel of biological-vitalistically transcendental ontology: this body, it says, is all that now remains of this person on (or in) this earth, an assertion that axiomatically entails that the body in its present state constitutes at least some portion of the person himself or herself.  Some portion of the person may indeed now be absent, but (so entaileth the assertion) the part that is present is still organically bound to his or her identity; unlike an integument it is not so much bubble-wrap that has been sloughed off by the person in his or her transit to the great beyond; rather, it stands in exactly the same relation to him or her in life as the ruins of an ancient building stand in relation to that building in its original (or maintained) integral state.  The Coliseum in Rome now makes a pretty sorry showing when juxtaposed with itself during its most recent fully functional heyday (say, the late fourth century), and it is certainly much smaller than it was back then, having lost a goodly portion of its outer wall, a less goodly portion of its inner wall, most of its seating, etc., but we do not on this account say that it is not really the Coliseum, that the Coliseum ceased to exist the moment the first Gothic souvenir scavenger chipped off a cubic centimeter of it so as to have something from his trip to Rome to show to little Theodric and Theodora back in Bumfick, Batavia.  I am after a certain fashion extremely loath to appeal to Scripture on this topic, inasmuch as to do so will inevitably brand me as an advocate of a certain Judeo-Christian theology (which theology all depends on the reader’s assumptions about what Jews and Christians believe or ought to believe—in other words, his or her own theology or meta-theology), but I am also afraid that as “our” preeminent record of usage in matters of personal ontology it (i.e., Scripture) is utterly indispensable.  So, then, on to the appeal(age): even the most inattentive reader of the Old Testament cannot fail to observe that virtually every important patriarch, prophet, judge, or king recounted about therein is reported to have “slept with his fathers” after his death.  In material terms, this “sleeping” (which in grammatically and notionally appropriate terms would perhaps be better phrased being laid to sleep) must have consisted in the corpse’s inhumation in a kind of family tomb (yes, the same genre of tomb in which I imagine Beethoven, Tybalt, and Dracula’s victims reposing), or possibly an ossuary, in which the corpse would have been set directly on top of the skeletons of his or its progenitors or ancestors.  In either case, the setting or posture could not have been very reposeful; nevertheless, as far as the authors of the sacred books were concerned, in being placed in this setting or posture, the ex-patriarch, -prophet, -judge, or -king had been very much merely settling down for a kind of super-protracted kip, or, in the doubtless merely lexically un-Biblical phraseology of Mr. Chandler (doubtless a knee-jerk Scripture verse-dropper like all other American novelists of his day) a big sleep.  To be within chin-chucking distance of sure, the ex-patriarch, -prophet, -judge, or –king’s pallbearers, legatees, et al. did not expect him to respond as readily to external stimuli as he had done when kipping out on his divan of an afternoon back at the palace or hovel as an active patriarch, prophet aut al.; they almost doubtless(ly) took it for granted that thenceforth he wouldn’t voom if you put four million volts (or cubit-omers, or whatever the ancient Hebrew quasi-equivalent was) through him.  Howbeit, for all the unprecedented depth and length of this snooze, they (or their scribe) axiomatically must have thought that it was he and no other entity that was doing the snoozing, inasmuch as they (or their scribe) assigned the subject of this snoozage to no other referent.  In the New Testament things obviously on the whole get a great deal more complicated, what with the whole business of the resurrection, which has a (heavenly) host of implications for my argument (a host that I plan to address in full when I have not so much strategically as propitiously and salutarily [i.e., with an eye more keenly attentive to the reader’s health and comfort than to my own] made evident what I am arguing in the most capacious, far-reaching sense).  Nevertheless-stroke-howbeit, in the NT there are pronounced echoes of the Old Testament’s rough-and-ready straightforward understanding of death as “going to sleep,” notably in the account of the death by stoning of Stephen the arch-martyr in the book of Acts: [F]alling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”  I adduce all of these examples by way merely of pointing out that in “our” “tradition” there is a strong tendency to regard the eschatology of persons as inextricable from the eschatology of bodies, and to regard the existence and behavior (or non-behavior) of corpses as but an extension of the existence and behavior (or indeed non-behavior!) of living human beings.  To be sure, on the basis of this adducement I have not and indeed cannot assert, let alone maintain, anything about the subjectivity or phenomenality of death (or, more precisely, of having died, i.e., Gestorbenheit), of what it feels like to be dead, or about the geographical coordinates—whether material or spiritual—of the site of this subjectivity or phenomenality, or indeed (and perhaps most discouragingly) about the nature of the connection between the ontology-cum-etiquette of Gestorbenheit and Gestorbenheit’s material aut spiritual-cum-metasubjective aut phenomenological geography.  And indeed the above-adduced sources do not really offer any hope or guidance vis-à-vis the ascertainment of this connection-nature.  Consider, for example, the Old Testament formula “(S)he gave up the ghost.”  It suggests, quite poignantly and horrifyingly, that at the moment of death the person renounces his or her faculty of cognition-cum-perception-cum emotion—which presumably b****rs off somewhere beyond all phone contact to enjoy every last conceivable perquisite of thinking, perceiving, and emoting on its delightful lonesome—without renouncing his or her identity, without thereby becoming a jot (or microcubit) less himself or herself.  In the seconds, minutes, hours, millennia, and eons after Bob Focckuck has given up the ghost, it is axiomatically Bob Focckuck’s ghost and not Bob Focckuck himself who is dreaming up all those complete metaphysical systems and wolfing down all those pâté-slathered canapés and crying his or her ghostly eyes out in Ghostland; whereas the corpse being picked at by vultures back in Death Valley in or deliquescing into skeletonhood back at Peoria Memorial Gardens is axiomatically none other than Bob Focckuck himself, in all his former glory and present and perduring ignominy.  How, in strictly philosophical terms, can “giving up the ghost” be otherwise construed?  If the phenomenon denoted by “giving up the ghost” denoted a clean severance of both personal identity and subjectivity from biological-cum-post biological existence it would perforce be phrased very differently, and very likely elicit a rather different and more extensive narrative sequel, viz. or perhaps e.g., “Bob Focckuck the ghost escaped the corporeal integument erroneously known as ‘Bob Focckuck’ and flew away to play many a merry jape on scads of still-integumented ghosts in the company of his fellow disintegumented ghost, the illustrious Casper.”  In the personal eschatology implied by “give up the ghost,” by contrast, the posthumous perdurance of the self and the posthumous perdurance of the soul are two entirely separate events-cum-states incapable of impinging on each other in any respect.  In this personal eschatology, if by some miracle, horror, or neutral natural process the body of Bob Focckuck were utterly annihilated (such that it left behind absolutely no remains, be they in the form of a skeleton, a heap of ashes, or a dispersed collection of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. atoms) then though the soul of Bob Focckuck might very well subsequently linger on or indeed thrive in perpetuity, Bob Focckuck himself would have ceased to exist; and though the soul of Bob Focckuck should be annihilated (leaving behind not so much as a cubic micrometer of Casper-style ethereal ghost-sheet, Jacob Marley-style ethereal chain-linkage, or headless horseman-style ethereal pumpkin shell), Bob Focckuck himself might be regarded as lingering on or indeed even thriving provided that some portion, however microscopically or indeed microatomically minute, of his body, could be identified.    
So, in short: the Judeo-Christian personal-eschatological tradition at least intermittently subscribes to an ontology-cum-eschatology in which the identity and destiny of the person are consubstantial with and inalienable from the identity and destiny of the human body.  And although when I declare (as I am now declaring) that I am strongly inclined to subscribe by philosophical conviction to this strand of the Judeo-Christian personal-eschatological tradition, I may simply seem to be performing a familiar whiggish, ‘science’-humping turn of the sort beloved of so-called secular humanists, viz. that of asserting, with varying degrees of documentary back-up, that the theistic ancients, for all their incense-burning and self-crossing and snake-handling and speaking in tongues and Gosh knows what else, were really on their (the so-called secular humanists’) side all along—in other words, that these theistic ancients were actually dyed-in-the-wool materialists or physicalists (though I, taking a cue from Peter Strawson, prefer to call them physicsists) who believed that consciousness was merely an epiphenomenon of the brain (or perchance some other internal organ), and that it (i.e., consciousness) ceased with the biological death of the body; although, I say, I may simply seem to be performing such a turn and asserting such an assertion, in truth I mean neither to perform any such turn nor to assert anything of the kind.  I mean, rather, to assert that the ontology of the human person seems to be more tightly bound up with the fortunes of the human body than with the fortunes of any other sort of entity, real or imagined, up to and including the human brain considered (by inter-alia, the so-called secular humanists) as an organ of preemptive ontological significance.  This assertion has an obvious if not necessarily indisputable ethical corollary, namely that in attending to our respective personal destinies we should be looking more to the protection and preservation of our bodies than to the P&P of entities of any other ontological class–or, in crasser but more useful terms, that the ancient Egyptians were really on to something.
But let me not set my time-and-space machine for Memphis, Egypt in 2500 B.C. (or, rather, as ye satanic pedants will insist, B.C.E.) just yet.  Let me rather, inasmuch as I have already averred that I am driven to embrace the above-delineated eschatology by a strictly philosophical conviction, first perform the much more modest TARDIS jump to Princeton, New Jersey in 1970 A.D. (or, in pedantic satanspeak, C.E.), specifically to January 20, 1970.  I daresay the reader is well aware that this is the date on which the famous American philosopher Saul Kripke delivered the first of the three lectures that served as the basis of his most famous book, Naming and Necessity, and I would even (provided the payout were fixed at a figure upwards of 10 times the staked amount) wager several hundred American dollars that the reader attended that lecture and has an Instamatic-snapped so-called selfie of himself or herself alongside then-young Saul himself to prove it.  All the same, for the benefit of the admittedly wholly hypothetical empirical reader who either missed the lecture or did not miss it but has in the intervening near half-century forgotten some portion of what Professor Kripke said during it or (most improbably of all) both missed the lecture and has not read Naming and Necessity, I shall point out that this lecture was signalized by Kripke’s promulgation of a theory of naming signalized by its notion of names as rigid designators in contrast to the descriptors as which they had thitherto been regarded in so-called analytic or equally so-called Anglo-American philosophy.  According to the old descriptor-centered theory of names, a proper name (e.g. [if it ain’t broke &c.], Beethoven, Shakespeare, or Raphael) was merely a kind of shorthand or placeholder for all the things for which the person named thereby was actually and signally known in the actual empirical world as it perdured and developed during his or lifetime.  So as far as this old theory was concerned the name Beethoven was (sequence of tenses may require “had been”) shorthand or a placeholder for the composer of the “Moonlight” sonata, “Archduke” trio, “Harp” quartet, &c., who went deaf at about the age of thirty, who tore up the dedication of his Third or “Eroica” Symphony when he found out that Napoleon had crowned himself emperor, &c.  One can—or, at any rate, should—see how this theory of names presents certain problems for my conviction that Beethoven himself is at this very moment now happily, stroppily, obliviously or otherwise pursuing an extremely well-established if not necessarily illustrious career as a decomposer.  For decomposition does not figure among the list of qualities or attributes for which Beethoven is signally known in the world as it is.  To be sure, this theory does not preclude the possibility of the decomposition of the body recumbent beneath the tombstone or tomb-plinth reading engraved with the character-stream Ludwig van Beethoven, but it does preclude the identification of that body as Beethoven.  A principle of parsimony is implicit in this naming theory: a name (proclaimeth the principle) shall superscribe only as many descriptors as set the described entity apart from every other entity.  And decomposing (in any sense, at least in any sense to be apprehended in an empirically credible register [i.e., outside the context of the punch line of the joke with which I opened this essay; a punch line that has worked, to the (as we have seen) limited extent that it has ever worked at all, not only on account of the supposed denotative incommensurablity I mentioned, but also on account of its non-factuality; for even if “Beethoven AND ‘I’m decomposing’” should come to attain nine times as many Google hits as “Beethoven AND Eroica,” the joke will have acquired its preeminent notoriety in the discourse on Beethoven only in virtue of depicting LvB doing something {i.e., erasing autograph musical scores} that he is understood never to have done]) is not something that Beethoven is known for doing or having done to a preeminent extent or preeminently well.  To be sure (so maintaineth this principle of parsimony), Beethoven’s corpse is decomposing now, but so are the corpses of Shakespeare, Raphael, and indeed Bob Focckuck the Peorian quantity surveyor who popped off just two days ago.  The decomposition of these corpses (SMtPoP) can perforce have nothing to do with the names sepulchrally sported by them because this decomposition (or perhaps deliquescence—a suitably more noun-like noun) is a quality shared by the corpses rather than something that distinguishes them from one another.  According to the old descriptive theory of names and its attendant principle of parsimony, Beethoven must be known exclusively as a composer for the same reason that, mutatis mutandis, Shakespeare must be known exclusively as a writer (or poet-playwright); namely, because composing music was the sole activity that set him apart from the great mass of humans and ex-humans, Raphael exclusively as a painter, and Bob Focckuck as a quantity surveyor.  “I must say this meta-taxonomy or meta-nomenclature or whatever it is seems particularly awfully insensitive to Mr. Focckuck.  It’s all very well, I suppose, to write Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Raphael off as a mere composer, writer, and painter, respectively, given that no living person has had to consider them as any other respective thing else for donkeys’ decades, but for the time being Mr. Focckuck is surely, descriptively speaking, in quite another and arguably more imposing boat.  For surely he leaves behind ici-en haut at least a healthy clutch of people who regard him chiefly not as a quantity surveyor but rather as a husband, father, drinking buddy, golf partner, autc.”  Well, I wouldn’t make too many assumptions about the richesses of Mr. Focckuck’s social network.  Quantity surveying is after all a notoriously solitary, self-ostracizing vocation.  But in general terms I see and acknowledge the truth-ring-possessingness of your point: it would seem that in practice the cluster of essential descriptors demanded by the principle of parsimony implied by the pre-Kripkean theory is both highly circumstantially contingent and highly volatile in constitution.  The apparent devisers of the theory’s apparent obliviousness of this apparent contingency-cum-volatility goes to show in the main that the Gemeinschaftsweltanschauung or collective worldview (philosophical or otherwise) actuating the pre-1970 so-called analytic-cum-Anglo-American philosophical scene was both remorselessly blokey and remorselessly public achievement-orientated: in the view of this worldview, whatever a person was or had done that had not made it into the Encyclopædia Britannica (Who’s Who regrettably is not such a good exemplum in this case because it catalogues spouses and offspring) simply did not matter and most certainly did not deserve to be subscribed to a name.  “But inasmuch as you have already declared yourself an enemy of the descriptive theory of names fashioned by or in this pre-1970 so-called A&AA scene, your elaboration of its shortcomings over the past page or two seems highly gratuitous, a project akin in its perverseness to the construction of a veritable wicker man-sized straw man openly destined never to see any action on the jousting field (or wherever else straw men were symbolically contested with).”  So indeed it must seem prima vista, but the elaboration in question has in point of fact been no such straw man-constructing session, inasmuch as the shortcomings in question, despite my avowed enmity towards (or with) the theory associated with them, amount to something much more formidable than a straw man, and inasmuch as I have every intention of bringing them to the jousting field (or &c.).  It seems to me that it is very much worthwhile to point out the shortcomings of the descriptive theory of names because in many ways it remains, at least in the Anglosphere, the doxical or commonsensical theory of names, the theory of names that everybody, very much including Mr. Focckuck’s very lately bereaved wife, children, friends, golf partner &c., takes for granted (although remains is not quite the right word for the lingerage, as it suggests that the theory was originally handed down to the people from on high like the Ten Commandments; whereas  more than likely the reverse actually happened—that is to say, the Oxbridge philosophy dons and Princeton endowed-chair philosophy profs developed the muzzy commonsense view of naming into a supposedly proper highfalutin theory).  In proof of this assertion I need only point to that beloved Anglo-Saxon (or perchance even pan-Occidental or pan-compassial) recreational institution, the trivia quiz, in all its manifold manifestations—televisual, radial, pubbial, coffee-tabular, computer-tabletial, &c.  In these competitions, the contestant, insofar as he or she is required to contend with the names of people—and I would wager (at a payout of only 1.5 times the staked amount) that at least two-fifths of trivia quiz questions pertain to the names of people—is expected to consider these names exclusively in exactly the same capacity as that entailed by the descriptive theory, i.e. (just to remind you, in slightly different phraseology), as shorthand or placeholders for embodied actions and achievements—the composition of the runner-up tune at the 1959 Eurovision song contest, the attempted assassination of Andy Warhol, the consumption of a record number of hot dogs, fried Mars bars, cale-and-camembert blintzes, &c.  The limit case—and at the same time the locus classicus, to the extent that longevity and commercial success are touchstones of classicism—of this quizzical metaphysical founding in the descriptive theory of names is undoubtledly the super-long-running American quiz show Jeopardy, wherein or whereon the contestant is presented by the presenter with an accomplishment or gesture and must frame his or her answer as a question pegged to a certain name.  So in or on Jeopardy the pseudo-question “This composer withdrew the dedication to his Third Symphony when Napoleon declared himself emperor” requires the pseudo-answer “Who is (or was) Beethoven?”  The reversal of question and answer patently implies that nobody but Beethoven ever could have withdrawn the dedication of a symphony dedicated to Napoleon—this in the canine teeth of historical experience, which eloquently intimates that there is no such thing as a necessarily unique event, gesture, or discovery (cf. Darwin’s and Wallace’s simultaneous devisal of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Baird, Farnsworth, et al.’s simultaneous invention of television, etc.).  This is of course not to say that history has, at least as far as the present writer knows, recorded an instance of another composer’s withdrawal of a dedication to Napoleon, but merely that we should not be scandalized by the discovery of such a non- Beethovenian dedication-withdrawal in the future, that the dedication-withdrawing gesture is not inalienably uniquely affixed to Beethoven, that it emphatically does not amount to some sort of ineradicable BEETHOVEN-sporting flag planted in some map of supposedly thitherto undiscovered gestures.  This everybody either knows or ought to know, but the very perduring popularity of the trivia quiz suggests that everybody (or at least plenibody) knows no such thing; it suggests that while most people may not be content to regard the human individuals they know personally and intimately as mere bundles of public fame or notoriety, as mere sacks of encyclopediage, they are perfectly content to regard every other human individual on the planet and in its history as such mere bundles or sacks.  Kripke’s theory of names as rigid designators, in putting paid to all this encyclopedic mumbo-jumbo, will prevailingly either console or vex everybody-aut-plenibody, depending on whether he or she prides himself or herself more on being a spouse, parent, offspring unit, golf partner, autc., or on being an ace trivia quiz contestant.  As Kripke sees it, a person (or indeed any other class of nameable entity—but for our purposes, it is best to stick to persons, at least for the nonce) is given a name at a certain baptismal moment, after which not only anything he or she says, does, is, et-obviously-virtually-infinitely extendable cetera but anything he or she can be imagined saying, doing, being, etc. is inalienably associated with that name.  From the baptismal moment onwards—not that this moment need coincide with a Christian baptismal ceremony; nowadays, indeed, its most common setting is probably the obstetrician’s waiting room, immediately posterior to the viewing of the ultrasonic image revealing the sex (altho’ I suppose the politically mandatory term must now be cis-gender [q.v.?]) of the newborn-to-be—a person’s name applies to him or her in every possible world.  The principal example Kripke gives of this modally impervious mutual inalienability of names and persons is that of the name Gödel, which according to the descriptive theory is shorthand for “the man who proved the insufficiency of arithmetic.”  If (so Kripke) we should discover that the man we now call Gödel had stolen his proof of the insufficiency of arithmetic from a man called Schmidt, we would then be obliged to start calling Schmidt the prover of the insufficiency of arithmetic, but in that case the (in 1970) still-living Gödel, the thief, would be no less Gödel than he had been before the unmasking of his crime.  It will or at least should readily be seen how Kripkean logic applies to the star exemplum of this essay, Ludwig van Beethoven. If (so Kripkean logic) Ludwig van Beethoven had expired as an infant immediately after his christening, then we (or at least that infinitesimal fraction of us who had made it our life’s work or play to potter around in the public archives of the city of Bonn) would now be using the name Ludwig van Beethoven to refer to a dead baby, and we would regard such predicates as composer of the ‘Eroica’ Symphony, “Archduke’ Trio, “Harp” quartet, &c., as pure nonsense—unless, perhaps, some other person—say, a person christened Helmut von Schmidt—had composed works with the same official or unofficial titles, in which case, although the predicates emphatically would not be nonsense, they probably would have no counteractive effect on the existential nullity of the works we know by those titles or nicknames, unless of course the works in question happened to be note-perfectly identical to their counterparts in our world, and perhaps not even then (I confess I’m quite out of my meta-metaphysical depth here, but so, perhaps, would have been [or, perhaps, indeed would be {for the man we now know as the author of Naming and Necessity (but who very easily could have turned out to be a television salesman in Omaha  [perhaps walking the showroom floor alongside his near-exact contemporary and fellow Nebraskan Dick Cavett {who might have been obliged to plough the same vocational furrow if writing for Messrs. Parr, Carson, et al., had not panned out}]) is still alive}] Professor Kripke: the example of Gödel and his principal discovery seems to be much tidier at this level because the insufficiency of arithmetic, unlike the ‘Eroica’ symphony seems to be a modally analytic predicate that can only ever refer to the insufficiency of arithmetic as we know it, with the attributes and properties that that branch of mathematics has in our world).  At any rate, it is (or should be) obvious that the dead baby in question, assuming he or she made it into a coffin and thence into a grave and continued to repose there until the 2017 A.D./C.E. of this counterfactual world, very much would have been a near-existence-long decomposer and full-existence-long non-composer.  “But what bearing can the fate of this decomposer of a fictional dead baby possibly have on the Beethoven of your opening joke, the Beethoven who at least most certainly had been a composer?”  The very wording of your question makes it impossible to answer.  “How so?  What is or are its offending word or words?”  There is but one offending word—namely, fictional.  “I don’t see how you can take the smallest wedge of umbrage at that fictional.  After all, we are dealing here with an avowedly fictional world, a world in which Beethoven never even learned to talk, let alone compose music—” –Indeed we are, but the Beethoven that inhabits that fictional world, or at any rate subsists in it after an admittedly hyper-picayune and rebarbative fashion, is very much a factual Beethoven, i.e., the actual Beethoven, our Beethoven and the Beethoven of the joke.  Perhaps the most simultaneously piquantly, chillingly, and hearteningly quasi-paradoxical facet of Kripkean name theory is that it posits a quasi-infinitude of entirely fictional worlds conceivably inhabited (at least after a fashion) exclusively by factual beings.  At any rate, as regards Beethoven the dead baby, inasmuch as he simply and apodictically is our Beethoven, he has (up)on our Beethoven the greatest of all possible bearings, the bearing consubstantial with the formula x = x, the bearing of identity.  “Your implication—an admittedly preposterously bizarre one—seems to be that Beethoven never should have bothered composing all those symphonies and string quartets and piano sonatas, &c., because all the while that he was composing all those pieces he had long—i.e., between about twenty and fifty-seven years, the chronological distance between his birth and his earliest works and latest works, respectively—been rotting away in a cemetery in another, fictitious—but for all that equally ontologically valid—world; it is as though you imagine some ghastly onesy and bonnet-sporting baby skeleton hovering over LvB’s shoulder at his writing desk and sticking its thumbs in its fleshless ear-sockets and derisively leering at the out-filling of each and every bar of music, and hovering over our shoulders and performing the same antics with each and every bar of that music we listen to.”  In that case, my implication has been grossly misinferred.  “Thank Jove for that, that I can now, as per nocturnal usual, don my fez and corded paisley silk dressing gown, settle down into my fauteuil, prop my slippered feet up on the ottoman, and soothe myself to sleep with the tender strains of the Quartetto Italiano’s unsurpassable renditions of opp. 131 and 132.”  Not so fast, latter-day non-Cumberbatchian crypto-Holmes!  I most certainly have not said or in any wise implied that Beethoven ought not not to have composed all that music.  This is not to say that I am about to assert unequivocally or categorically that Beethoven ought not to have composed it.  You see, the answer to the question whether, assuming the Kripkean theory of names to be valid, Beethoven should or should not have composed all that music hinges on the answer to a question whose adequate exploration is beyond the scope of this essay (not to mention, as so often before with such questions in these essays, the present writer’s patience), viz. (in the most general terms) What does music mean?  There are and have long been certain purse-lipped, corncob-anus(s)ed types who conceive of music as a giant, Tupperware-hermetic, completely non-referential tautology; types who aver, in the probably only very approximate words of Igor Stravinsky (but in the light of the extensive [some would say gross] liberties taken with his diction by his amanuensis, Robert Craft, one need never apologize for mere approximativeness when quoting Stravinsky), undoubtedly the most famous and notorious of such musicalological hermeticists, “Music means nothing but itself.”  For such persons, to the extent that they are not merely bluffing, the Beethovenian corporeal corpus in this or any other world can never occasion any embarrassment, vitiation, or declassement to or of the Beethovenian musical corpus.  For such persons, the formal unification of the “Appassionata” through the recurring and instantly recognizable employment of the Neapolitan interval in a wildly diverse array of melodies, rhythms, and tempos, or the sustaining of a dissonant C# over a perhaps (!) unprecedented time-span in the first movement of the “Eroica,” are redeeming in their own right, regardless of whatever they may be taken to mean, and regardless of whatever entity immediately or mediately occasioned them.  But there are certain other types who regard music as being bound up inextricably, and perhaps even more tearful Ay, caramba!-inducingly, willy-nilly (i.e., in defiance of every straw poll ever taken of composers and instrumentalists) with the living tissue or Kleenex of history, so-called culture, and rightly called civilization, and for these types the Kripkean theory of names perforce presents some problems.  You see, in the eyes (and ears!) of these types—the most famous or notorious of which is perhaps (but only perhaps) the arch-Beethoven buff Theodor W. Adorno—Beethoven’s music both signifies and embodies the assertions, aspirations, and stipulations of the so-(and not necessarily wrongly) called autonomous bourgeois subject, the human individual in all his (or indeed her, albeit sometimes in the teeth of established custom) post-French-Revolutionary smugness and peremptoriness.  Now according to the philosophy of history (and art history) espoused by these types it was probably by no means necessary for the man we call Beethoven to be the signature espouser of music significative of such autonomous bourgeois subjectivity, for this philosophy regards such subjectivity as an attribute of an age rather than of a single individual, and its autonomous bourgeois individual is by no means to be confused with the pseudo-autonomous yet radically heteronomous bourgeois pseudo-individual as which an artist is inevitably to be understood in our own day.   In our own day, an artist is understood by default to be simultaneously an Einzelgänger or lone wolf expressing the infungible essence of his own lonely monadic self, and a Heimatdichter or home-town bard channeling all the kitschy pseudo-folkways of his native country, region, town, or even postcode.  The Adornon(i)an view of the artist, on the other hand—“Oh, sod the Adornon(i)an view of the artist for the noncelet!  As long as you’re talking about the received view of the artist in our own day, why don’t you explain how that view of the artist and of the significance of his work lines up (or fails to line up) with Kripke’s theory of names?”  Very sodding well: it seems to me that the Kripkean theory of names both taketh rapaciously away from this view with one hand and giveth abundantly to it with another.  It seemingly taketh away from it in depriving the artist of any sort of individual essence that would be his or hers infungibly to express, inasmuch as if Beethoven—or, rather, Damian Hearst or Ian MacMilan or some other person who passes today for an artist—could just as easily have perished in the cradle and been a virtually existence-long decomposer as the thriving and universally fellated supposed artist he is in our world, it is difficult to see what, aside from certain presumably organically idiopathic facets of body chemistry, essentially sets him apart from all the millions if not milliards of other virtually existence-long decomposers-manqués, some of them supposed artists, others supposed non-artists.  It seemingly giveth in imparting ontological heft to all the local-coloristic bric-a-brac in which today’s supposed artist qua Heimatdichter meretriciously decks himself or herself out even before putting pen to paper, brush to canvas, membrum virile to cowpat, autc.—all those tedious factitious or apocryphal hyperlocal variations in the circumference of lip puckerage needed for the pronunciation of sponge, luxury, plunge, &c.; in the term for the thing that separates the northbound and southbound parts of a road; in the ratios of cheese to ham, ham and cheese to bread, and ham, cheese, and bread to mustard and mayonnaise in a ham and cheese sandwich, &c.  It does this in virtue of its privileging of the baptismal moment, a moment that by statistical necessity more often than not takes place in some provincial hole of a town, village, or hamlet.  In the Kripkean namescape one is forever being reminded of all the nearly innumerable humble parochial life-paths that could have been pursued by the world-conquering, nation-transcending luminaries of bygone ages had they not moved to the Big Smoke, Apple, or Guava as younkers; one is forced to contemplate as plausibly entertainable possibilities a Shakespeare who stayed in Stratford and took over his father’s glove-making business, a Samuel Johnson who succeeded as a schoolmaster and so never had to leave his native Lichfield, a Beethoven who settled for being a church-organist in Bonn, and indeed a Napoleon who rounded out his life not as an exiled former emperor on the island of St. Helena but as a retired village magistrate on the island of Corsica.  And so from Kripke the present-day supposed artist qua purveyor of self-produced local kitsch can derive solace or encouragement from the reflection that in wallowing in the undistinguished effluvia of his local sewer-outlet he is only doing what the Great Ones came within a pygmy shrew’s pubic hair of doing, even if—and this ought to be (but probably never will be in the pygmy shrew-sized brains of such picayune hawkers of local tat) a very big if—the Great Ones would have done it out of at least relatively dire exigency and with clothespins firmly affixed to the tips of their noses, whereas he is doing it out of sheer piggish laziness and with nostrils botoxed-wide-open, as if luxuriating in the fastest and best-greased ride on the biscuit-wheeled, gravy-conveying Twenty-First-Century Limited.  But enough about the so-called artist in our own day, for for (sic) all (or perhaps because of) his contemporaneousness with you and me, DGR, he is but the petitest of petits maîtres-manqués, the smallest of small fry, the dimmest of pan-flashes.  To the extent that we regard the vocation and activity of an artist (or possibly any sort of Geistesarbeiter) in an even partially or potentially redeeming light, we must think of it as something along the lines of the Adorn(i)an-Beethovenian conception, and the Kripkean namescape does not seem to have room for such a conception.  “But why, of course it axiomatically does, or, rather has (i.e., room rather than seem), my dear old fruit or bean, inasmuch as among all those milliards of possible worlds, worlds in which, inter milliarda alia, Beethoven stayed in Bonn as an organist, took to the road as a busker (and therefore presumably had taken up some other instrument than the piano, as it is very difficult to busk as any kind of keyboardist), or indeed died in the cradle, figures the actual world in which he composed the ‘Eroica,’ the ‘Archduke,’ my beloved opp. 131 and 132, &c.—in short, all these works that this Adorno chap seems to regard as the bee’s b****cks.”  Yes it admittedly does figure therein, but I am afraid that that sort of showing—something perhaps analogous in its puniness to the earth’s position relative to the remainder of the supposedly known universe—is simply not nearly good enough for the Adorn(i)an conception of the artist’s remit, achievement, or place in the on-the-whole-quite-rightly (qua philosophical-doctrine transcending view of the so [and rather more dubiously {because unduly straitenedly conceived in strictly visual terms}]-called Big Picture)-called Grand Scheme of Things.  Of course-stroke-admittedly, in a certain respect the Adorn(i)an conception trivializes beyond measure the artist qua Kripkean infungible singularity.  As I hinted in passing before, in the Adorn(i)an conception it was by no means necessary for the Ludwig van Beethoven baptized in Bonn on December 17, 1770 (it may seem that I am reporting the date of baptism rather than the date of birth here for the insufferably precious sake of conforming to Kripkean terminology, but in point of fact LvB’s baptism certificate is the earliest surviving reference to his existence) to produce the music we ascribe to him, or at any rate music substantially identical to that music in socio-intellectual historical gestural terms; presumably many, many (albeit not any, any) other individuals, many, many other provincial non-aristocratic German-speakers born at about 1770 would have fitted the concert bill (in certain cases, according to this conception, even individuals hailing from entirely mutually distinct linguistic communities can step into the weltgeistig breach for each other: one thinks of Adorno’s musing to the effect that Hofmannsthal came disturbingly close to becoming Proust and vice-versa). On the other hand, it seems according to Adorno that once Beethoven had stepped into this position, had taken on the mantle of the original great autonomous bourgeois composer, nobody but he ever could have occupied it, and that his most idiosyncratic tics, phobias, and peccadilloes became part and parcel of (or, if you prefer peanut butter to jelly, inextricable from) his quasi-divinely ordained super-métier.  One thinks here, for example, of A.’s much-making of certain casual gestures and remarks from B.’s private or at-most-quasi-public life—his proud description of himself as a “brain-owner” in contrast to his philistine brother, a self-styled “property owner,” his defiant snubbage of a group of nobles when taking a walk with Goethe, his resentment at having to prosecute his claim to the guardianship of his nephew in a court for plebeians, and so on.  For a Kripkean (if not necessarily for Kripke in this or any other possible world, inasmuch as it is entirely possible that in each of these worlds Prof. Kripke fails to grasp the implications of his theory for an interpretation of the biography of Beethoven), these are all contingent accidents in (or[if we are using accident in a strictly neo-Aristotelean scholastic sense] of) the existence of an individual whose sole essence consists in having been christened Ludwig van Beethoven in Bonn on December 17, 1770.  For Adorno (i.e., not just for an Adorn(i)an, inasmuch as I am drawing directly on Adorno’s commentary on Beethoven) they are essential manifestations of the essence of the great inaugural autonomous bourgeois composer who accidentally happened to have been christened Ludwig van Beethoven in Bonn on December 17, 1770.  It is as if Adorno is adhering to the old (old, that is, for us, inasmuch as for TWA, who died a few months before Kripke’s Naming and Necessity lectures, it would have been the state of the [admittedly anathematic Anglo-Saxon] art) descriptive theory of names, but with all the non trivia-quiz-worthy bits thrown in and the name itself having been spookily replaced by the abovementioned YOUR NAME HERE.  The whole set-up is admittedly intuitively quite bizarre.  But bizarre though it may seem (or possibly even be), I submit that it was no mere volitional flash in the pan (apologies for flagrant recyclage of pan-flash metaphor), no mere unsublated notional velleity, for it is by no means confined to Adorno’s scribblings on Beethoven or indeed his own writings and indeed seems to underpin (or perhaps even constitute) the entire negative neo-(a.k.a. ultra-young) Hegelian school’s conception of named entities.  One thinks in this connection of the devastating and yet hilarious concluding two sentences of  the essay “The Culture Industry,” which Adorno wrote in collaboration with Max Horkheimer (whose semi-homonymity with another, younger, transatlantic Horkheimer is very much in point here): “For centuries society has been preparing for Victor Mature and Mickey Rooney.  By destroying they come to fulfill.”  Both the devastatingness and the hilarity of this conclusion spring from its stark proffering of Victor Mature and Mickey Rooney without any prefixed qualifying phrases such as “the likes of” or “actors such as,” phrases whose absence makes it impossible to imagine that society would have found any other pair of actors worth its multi-century housecleaning outlay, and invites—nay, compels—the reader to summon up his or her own recollections of Mature and Rooney; to call to mind not only the Mature and Rooney performances that Horkheimer and Adorno would have been familiar with by the mid-1940s—e.g., Mature’s Paul Dresser and Rooney’s Puck—but also his or her entire train of Mature or Rooney-centered associations.  It compels him or her to remember Rooney’s farcical (in a bad way) appearances on late-night talk shows in the 1990s and Dana Carvey’s contemporaneous lampooning of the octogenarian actor’s pathetic retrospective self-adulation via the catch phrase I was number one in the world!  (as he indeed had been, as measured by box office takes, from 1939 to 1941, whence H&A’s resentment of him), to remember Mature’s hammy-beyond-belief performance as Doc Holliday in My Darlin’ Clementine, as well as his uncanny resemblance to Sylvester Stallone, a cinema superstar of a later generation who may be said to have carried the destruction-cum-fulfillment vouchsafed to Mature a mighty step forward and downward by compounding hamminess with notoriously well-nigh-aphasiac inarticulacy.  It compels the reader to engage in such simultaneously rib-tickling and heart-sinking reminiscences because the fatalistic Hegelian metaphysics underpinning (and perchance constituting) it does not allow for the possibility of alternative worlds.  Victor Mature and Mickey Rooney--so this metaphysics presupposes—were not and never could have been just any old second-rate Hollywood actors; they were, rather, second-rate Hollywood actors who had specific, individualized, and infungible historical niches to fill and who opened up new, equally individualized, and infungible historical niches in their respective slipstreams.  (Mature, in retiring relatively early from acting, opened up a niche for Stallone, while Rooney, in lingering on in the public eye decade after decade filled perhaps his most prominent afterniche—the ever-aging former teen star—himself [while naturally opening up other afterniches for younger actors—e.g., Dustin Diamond on Saved by the Bell, Marc Price on Family Ties, and Jaleel Falafel on Family Matters, all of whom portrayed coarsened yet diversified scions of Rooney’s feckless adolescent interwar American male].)   
So, as far as the question to whose explication the preceding three or four pages beginning with the sentence following the one dropping the adjectivalized surname of Benedict Cumberbatch, have been not only ostensibly but actually and even (for all their apparent digressiveness) doggedly addressed, viz. Should Beethoven have bothered composing all that music?, goes, I am afraid the answer is still a categorical That depends, but I hope that by now the dependence has at least been disentangled from the knot-or-thorn-encrusted-hook of hermeneutics and slung on to the at-least-in-principle bone-smooth, knot-and-thorn-free hook of ontology; that the question is now no longer what music means but what sort of reality music (and other purposeful or would-be-purposeful human activities) emerges from.  If the negative neo-Hegelians are right and things never could have been other than what they have been, then Beethoven was not wasting his time in composing those 160-or-so works, because in doing so, he was fulfilling his quasi-providentially ordained function as the inaugural autonomous bourgeois composer.  “And in what manner and to what extent does Beethoven’s decomposing corpse detract from this non-time-wastage as far as the negative neo-Hegelians are (or were or would be) concerned?”  Their concern-wise it detracts from it neither in any manner whatsoever nor the tiniest jot:  the living Beethoven (so at least hypothetically the negative neo-Hegalians) did his bit (or his magnitude); he contributed his brick (or extraterrestrially visible stretch) to the Great Wall of China of history, and in the phraseology of many a late-twentieth or early twenty-first-century auto-panegyrist, nothing can ever take that away from him.  “Not even the grave?”  Indeed, not even the grave.  If on the other hand the Kripkeans are right then the entire Beethovenian oeuvre was in its own day an exercise in futility and is a monument to futility now, inasmuch as the infungible subject, the individual who never could have been other than what he is and was (and hence, in a certain sense, still is) whose numinousness this oeuvre asserted and continues to assert is a chimera, inasmuch as after his baptism Beethoven could have become any number of things—i.e., practiced any number of métiers (e.g., organ-playing) or non-métiers (e.g., panhandling)—while all the while remaining Beethoven.  To my mind both ontologies (in contrast to the ontology implied by the old pre-Kripkean pub-quizzial descriptive theory of names) for all their incompossibility are plausibly entertainable, and each of them offers its own peculiar, infungible consolations and disconsolations vis-à-vis my own necessarily neither peculiar nor infungible (but also not necessarily typical or fungible) personal ontology-cum-entelechy-cum-eschatology.  If the negative neo-Hegelians are right, then there just might be a place for me, however humble, in the grand if procession of the defeat of Geist and the triumph of Ungeist.  If they are right, then just as the personal historical entelechy of Beethoven must be distinguished from that of all his fellow eighteenth-and-nineteenth-century straddling Bonnians (or Bonners?), composers, and keyboard virtuosos; and the historical entelechy of Victor Mature and Mickey Rooney must be distinguished from that (or possibly those) of the remainder of the well-nigh-Birth of a Nation-extra-cast-numerous crowd of undeservedly famous early Hollywood actors—Tom Mix, Clara Bow, Deanna Durbin, Gene Autry, George “Spanky” McFarland, Rin Tin Tin et mil. al.—so I might be obligatorily distinguishable from some comparably massive crowd of superficially mutually interchangeable intermillennial human atoms of a certain type.  Any attempt to specify this type, let alone the niche I might fill in being more than merely an example of it, would be presumptuous, fatuous, and most likely futile: I would be forced perforce to fall back on to the perforce historically blinkered terms in which the so-called media have described persons sharing certain crude demographic attributes with me (attributes that in turn have been pseudo-ascertained by inherently dubious systems of classification) and accordingly almost certainly sell my contemporaries too short to sell myself over-sufficiently long—at least in the appropriate entelechic vector.  But Adorno’s monographic appraisal of Kierkegaard as a certain sort of quasi-or-peri-Biedermeier epigone-cum-laggard-cum-half-hearted follower of the drift of the Weltgeist may at least furnish an example of the genre of quietus that I may at least dream of securing.  The reader is, I trust, sufficiently acquainted with the finer lineaments of this portrait to be content with the aide-memoire of a broad-stroked fairground caricaturist’s copy of it that I am about to tender, as follows: S. Kierkegaard, by inheritance a small-scale landowner resident in Denmark, is well off enough to live in modest comfort for life as a rentier and has no need to seek remunerative employment.  But the financial and political turmoil that intermittently convulse the less peripheral parts of Europe at least hint to him that the modus vivendi he has adopted by default is doomed: the engrossment of the labor force by the industrial proletariat is marginalizing the pre-industrial agricultural form of labor in the absence of which old-school petty rentiers’ incomes cannot be sustained, and the amassment of gargantuan fortunes by the new great captains of industry and finance is marginalizing such rentiers qua respectable (because rich, in conformity with Worthington’s Law) members of so-called society—and consequently leveling them with the non-independently wealthy (and, thanks to the all-around increase in spending power, ever-more-flourishing) stratum of shopkeepers and petty bureaucrats.  And so K. does his adroit but ultimately all-too-feeble best to have his Danish and eat it: by way of bolstering his old-school aristocratic pride, he cultivates an aesthetic habitus founded on the snarlingly narcissistic and anti-domestic insouciance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and by way of making nice with the up-and-coming boutiquiers and salarymen, he simultaneously cultivates an ethical ethos founded on altruistic attendance to one’s fellow man and woman as signally (albeit not exclusively) expressed in the fulfillment of one’s domestic duties to one’s wife and children, and of one’s vocational duties to one’s job at the office.  Of course, he can’t win; like another, later, famous K. he is “neither of the castle nor of the village”— economic self-sufficiency does not command the kind of awe in early nineteenth- century Denmark that it did in Mozart’s Seville (itself an evocation of a residually feudal fourteenth-to-seventeenth-century world, of course), nor does that Denmark afford the would-be libertine a gamut of prospective conquests to equal the Don’s in point of socioeconomic disparity–there there are no Donna Annas, no ultra high-born ladies who are painfully difficult of access thanks to the ever-vigilant jealousy of their fathers (a jealousy actuated in turn by the fathers’ cravings to aggrandize and elaborate their respective family crests by pairing their daughters with not just any old Don Tomaso, Ricardo, Enrico, or indeed Giovanni), nor any Zerlinas, any unreconstructedly ingenuous peasant girls instantly flattered by the attentions of any old (or young) gen’olman; and as for the petit-bourgeois ethical blandishments of office work and family life, in hailing from the idle landed gentry, he, Kierkegaard, can never in good faith regard the formal altruism of these zones of activity as a synecdoche for the ethical tout court, knowing as he does that they are intrinsically bound up with historically contingent apparatuses of administration, that to appease one’s wife or boss is not necessarily to love thy neighbor as thyself, inasmuch as the neighbor in question is exacting an apparently arbitrarily larger proportion of this love than his or her fellows, thanks to his or her short-term administrative expediency.  But by adopting various masks, various personae, various self-narrating identities, Kierkegaard at least fitfully sustains the illusion that he is completely at home in both sub-worlds—the subworld of the landed gentry and the subworld of the unlanded petit-bourgeoisie—or perhaps more to the point, that the subworlds themselves are as he would like them to be and that they are both capable of accommodating somebody like him.  Kierkegaard is an obsessive deployer of what Kingsley Amis called the tip-of-the-iceberg effect, the technique of describing the immediately palpable surface of things in sufficient detail to convince the reader that you know all about everything that lies beneath that surface when more often than not you know nothing whatsoever about it: we are told virtually nothing about the unnamed aesthete’s family history or personal circumstances; we know that he lives in a five?-room apartment in a town that is not the capital and that has a cooking school and a substantially sized public park, that he has an uncle with a country estate, and that is about it.  The estate is said to be a favorite rendezvous spot for betrothed couples, and the sound of their osculation is described with such infrarealistic aural graphicness that it can serve as a synecdoche for the aesthete’s entire personal lifeworld and effectively supplement the near-total absence of descriptive detail vis-à-vis every other element of this lifeworld.  Likewise, of Edward the champion of the ethical ethos in the second, “Or” part of Either/Or we are told only that he has some kind of government job and a wife and at least one child, a son.  There is no complement of the mass-kissing episode in the “Or” part, but what Edward leaves out in description he supplements through iteration, by simply mentioning that he has a son, a wife, a job on every remotely plausible occasion—although it might be argued that each of the occasions is ready-made with the mention in view.  Ultimately—and please bear in mind that all this summarizing while I have been channeling Adorno, that this epitome in no respect represents my own verdict on the world-historical significance of Kierkegaard (for the truth is I have yet to arrive at the vaguest approximation of this verdict), and that I shall continue to channel Adorno at least  through the end of the present sentence—the whole shell game is unconvincing, and one is persuaded neither that either sub-world exists or that either “I” has ever inhabited either one of them.  So Adorno’s Kierkegaard decidedly comes off as more than a bit of a nebbish or schlemiel, or even of an Untergeher or loser.  Nevertheless there is a kind of epigonal grandeur in Adorno’s Kierkegaard’s pseudo-novelistic or peri-novelistic narratological promiscuity and recklessness, in his insistence on playing the subjective field in and through his writings and in defiance of the hyper-narrow, garden path or tunnel-like range of subjective choices objectively available to him.  Moreover, A.’s K.’s nebbishism autc./&c. is not just any old nebbishism autc./&c. or even any old early nineteenth–century nebbishism autc./&c.; there is no way of making it seem to be even partially interchangeable with, for example, Balzac’s pretensions to nobility, the pretensions of an unregenerate parvenu and more-than-occasional financial-cum-industrial entrepreneur (“Not financial-cum-industrial entrepreneur-manqué?” you ask.  No, because the possibility of failure is analytically endemic to the notion of an entrepreneur, and synthetically and statistically speaking, most entrepreneurs are failures) operating in Paris, which, although hardly meriting Walter Benjamin’s designation of it as “the capital of the nineteenth century,” was certainly the largest and busiest city in early nineteenth-century continental Europe.  Nor is it to be confused with the vegetative blafardism of certain members of the pre-emancipation Russian gentry as exemplified by Goncharov’s Oblomov, whose renunciation of the management of his extensive country estate in favor of a life of poriferean idleness in Petersburg short-circuits a potentially substantial contribution to Russian (and hence perhaps world) economic history.  And last and perhaps most, it is not to be confused with the modus vivendi of K.’s philosophical kinsman and fellow small-scale rentier Schopenhauer, determined to make it all the way to the grave without doing a lick of bread-winning work, and consequently resigned to permanent bachelorly residence in a boarding house with only a dog for reliable company.  Adorno’s Kierkegaard’s nebbishism autc./&c. is much weirder and more elusive, much more marginal, much more minor in the Deleuzian sense, than any of these.  It is altogether more complicated than it would seemingly need to be in the light of Kierkegaard’s socio-econo-geographo-historical coordinates.  Consequently, it is in a way much more nearly infungible than any of the other cited versions of nebbishism autc./&c., perhaps in exactly the same way that Satie’s version of modernism, for all the comparative slightness of his finished compositions and the nullity of his contribution to the grand fleuve of music history, is (according to Adorno himself [see Minima Moralia]) much more nearly infungible than Schoenberg’s (i.e., because Schoenberg is too capaciously {if tritely} encapsulated as the Beethoven of the twentieth century, whereas to call Satie a poor man’s Ravel is point-missing to the nth degree [incidentally, I write this in the foam-and-gore-dripping saber-tooth-tiger-like-teeth of my rabid Schoenberg fandom and Novocain’d-lower-lipped, drool-effusing indifference to the musical compositions of Satie]).  And at times, in my more megalomaniacal moments—or, more specifically, the more megalomaniacal of my moments in which I am at the same time most nearly firmly convinced of the infungible validity and indeed truth of the negative neo-Hegelian ontology-cum-metaphysics of history—I entertain the hope of becoming—nay, the hope that in a certain so-called very real sense I already am—the Kierkegaard of (so-called) our (so-called) age in the Adorn(i)an sense of an exemplary nebbish adumbrated immediately above; entertain the hope, that is, that my own meta-subjective maneuverings—or, rather perhaps, in the light of their desperately disparate and improvisational character, meta-subjective hot-coal hopscotch jumps—will likewise be seen as heroic if ultimately futile (and hence perhaps tragic) attempts on the part of an irredeemable epigone to cope with his marginality or perhaps even extraneousness to the great tide of the Weltgeist; the hope that some philosopher-cum-historian will someday see my own appropriations of, assimilations to, and self-affiliations with the likes of Dr. Johnson, Proust, Th. Bernhard, and W. G. Sebald as charmingly ingenious but ludicrously (and hence perhaps farcically) anachronistic and anatopic feints of fancy dress-donning fumblingly vectored towards all sorts of nooks and crannies of the weltgeistig wardrobe in which I have no business lurking because…?—well, at this point I must trail-cum-break off because I am in no epistemologically respectable position to fill out that there because clause, because I haven’t the proverbially foggiest notion of wherein that future philosopher-cum-historian’s argument about my welstgeistige wardrobial intrusiveness will consist, because in turn I haven’t the proverbially foggiest notion of the make or cut of the outfit that will be at the front and center of that wardrobe, nor of the orientation of the present front-and-center outfits vis-à-vis the rest of the wardrobe, when or if ever this conjectural future philosopher-cum-historian gets around to embarking on his career-long critique of the intellectual (or at least quasi-intellectual [i.e., never even at worst pseudo-intellectual]) Kleidungschaft (or, if you prefer Gallicisms, paysage de la couture) of the very early twenty-first century—in other words, I have no idea of what sort of ethos will count as (and indeed be, at that historical stage, from the perspective of a negative neo-Hegelian) meta-subjectively authentic by then, nor what sorts of ethoses will count as (and indeed be &c.) meta-subjectively phony in relation to this ethos.  Of course, one can always have a go at second-guessing posterity by seeking out and exposing one’s own latent core affiliations, affiliations that unbeknownst to oneself have supposedly  ineluctably (at least until the moment of out-seeking) impelled one to adopt this or that subjective stance, to pattern oneself on a certain socio-historical figure or type as a so-called coping mechanism.  But then one is invariably (if not necessarily not contingently) driven to call upon the hyper-shopworn explanatory phenomena of class, nationality, and parentage-cum-upbringing (to all three of which, and the last especially, the equally popular psychology is essentially merely an adjunct), and as my description of these phenomena as hyper-shopworn intimates, over the decades they have become ever-less useful and plausible at explaining the comportment of the subjects (i.e., people) to which they are applied, particularly the nearer the lifetime of the subject approaches the moment of explanation.  Pierre Bourdieu’s late twentieth-century critique of Jean Paul Sartre qua author of the late-1930s-penned Nausea, for example, draws from the same well of Marxist terminology from which Adorno drew in attacking Kierkegaard; it is essentially a class-based critique.  Sartre, in the character of his narrator Roquentin, says Bourdieu, can afford the luxury of being utterly alienated from his environment, the luxury of being horrified at not knowing where a tree ends and the ground beneath it begins, or upon reflecting that a certain murder victim no longer exists (even if her bones still conjecturally do [shades in negative of the Beethovenian strand of the present argument!]), only because he all the while feels himself to be safely swaddled in a water and bomb-proof cocoon of being an intellectual, a cocoon woven in turn out of the material conditions of his privileged position as a member of the bourgeoisie.  Naturally the present writer, having been born nearly two generations after Bourdieu and nearly three after Sartre, and like Bourdieu (and probably unlike Sartre) with a mouth devoid of silver spoonage, can appreciate whence Bourdieu is coming (a.k.a. where he is coming from): to someone in Bourdieu’s position, the position of a jobbing or would-be jobbing academic in the so-called human sciences (a.k.a. humanities) in the 1970s and ’80s, toiling away for peanuts (or the French equivalent [pastilles?]) in a vast multi-tiered university system, Sartre’s position qua member of the solidly bourgeois so (in all countries and time-spans)-called intelligentsia in the late 1930s must have seemed at least fairly enviable, even cushy.   But it was enviable and cushy only in decidedly relative terms.  To confound the youngish Sartre’s position with that of a grand bourgeois français of the early nineteenth century, and thereupon to apply one’s confusion to the interpretation of his first novel, is to blind oneself not only to the palpable insecurities faced by Sartre and his fellow interwar intelligents, but also to the actual material infrastructure of his intellectual anomie as expressed in Roquentin’s meditations on the supposed amorphousness of objects, the supposed non-existence of the deceased, and so on.  Whenever one lambastes the bourgeoisie one should remember that one is appropriating and echoing a polemic originally directed (notably by Stendhal, Balzac, and Flaubert) at a social stratum that only really exerted itself under that name as a hegemonic bloc in a specific country, France, for a few decades, the pre-belle époque ones of the nineteenth century, and that vis-à-vis subsequent historical periods, even in France, one can speak accurately of the bourgeois condition only as the condition of the greater and an ever-increasing portion of occidental humankind (during their World War II residence in the United States Horkheimer and Adorno fairly aptly described the United States as a radically bourgeois society, but of course that description is even more accurately applied to West Germany during the years of the so [and to some extent rightly]-called Great Economic Miracle) or as a nonexistent condition, depending on which quality you think of as bourgeois par excellence—unquestioning submission to the principle of exchange (in which case almost all of us are bourgeois), freedom from physical exertion in both domestic life and in the workplace (in which case hardly any of us is), or worldly asceticism (vis-à-vis which almost all of us are bourgeois in virtue [or vice!] of paying our way [whether as managers or shift-workers] by the grace of other people’s libidinousness and incontinence, and hardly any of us are in virtue [or vice!] of our own refusal or incapacity to exercise a modicum of self-restraint for the briefest of intervals).  Then of course one must consider such geographically and temporally local (relative to Nausea) phenomena as the rise of various populist and nationalist parties, the already seeming inevitability of a new World War (cf. the oblique but unmistakable allusion to the Munich pact in Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds broadcast), and the efflorescence of the electrically amplified gramophone record and talking picture industries (in Hollywood, yes, but also in France [for this is the sidereal hour of French mediatiques of such massively class-transcending appeal as Piaf, Trenet, Gabin, and Renoir the Younger and Fatter]), phenomena that are themselves bound up with the marginalization-cum-proletarianization of the bourgeoisie in scads of chicken-versus-egg-ish ways, such that there can be no question of a renaissance of old-school bourgeois life upon the disparation of even the most evanescent or deliquescent of them.  In any case, in whichever spirit or from whichever angle one appraises Roquentin’s conceptual anomie, one cannot in good faith (to use a Sartre-ism) stigmatize it as the product of gormless bourgeois complacency, and indeed it seems to arise from a rational, au courant, classless (although far from unclassy) and quite normally abnormal alarmism.  To be sure, Roquentin’s contemplation of the tree-root, of the dead girl’s bones, and of the moribundity of the self-satisfied café patron, does require a modicum of something not entirely unlike leisure, a kind of caffeinated lassitude, but this something (or commodity, if you insist, although I don’t know if that word is entirely appropriate here) is not the prerogative of a specific class: it is as abundantly available to the factory assembly-line worker zoning out while clinging to a hand-strap during a seemingly interminable commute in an overcrowded tram car as it is to the solitary universitaire seemingly endlessly retracing the circuit from his rented lodgings to the local library and back; and it has precious little in common with either the classic otium of the pre-bourgeois aristocratic landowner placidly contemplating the tilling of his estate or the more punctiliously regulated free moments of a grand bourgeois industrial proprietor equally placidly contemplating the whirring or clattering of his dozens of steam-powered cotton duck-weaving looms or cast-iron rivet stamping machines, because it is devoid of any sense of possession, which may be analyzed in turn (albeit exclusively in a phenomenological register) into a sense of a durable connection between the time made available for contemplation and the objects of that contemplation.  The landowner and industrial proprietor had—or, rather, and moreover, enjoyed—a stake in contemplating their respective domains because those domains stood a good chance of being around to be contemplated a good long while (i.e., at least a significant fraction of a human lifespan), and because nobody but he (or him?) was afforded the privilege of contemplating these respective domains from above or in toto.  (To make what I believe would be an irrefragable argument that the bum fluff-moustachio’d so-called [or rather so-acronymized] CEOs of the most celebrated proprietarily named entities of the present—your Zuckerbergs and Dorseys et al.--do not enjoy such a perspectival privilege would require a sub-digression that would swamp the present digression, which already threatens to swamp the entire present essay; but even supposing these whippersnappers to be precise analogues to or of the master-proprietors of old in this respect, one cannot deny that their position is an uncommon one even within the cadre of corporate executive officialdom, whose ranks are largely filled with people as fungible, in the eyes of human resource departments, as candidates for janitorial positions.)  The universitaire and the factory worker are both afforded ample time to contemplate the tree and its roots, but en revanche they are both deprived of any rationale for contemplating the tree and its roots rather than any other old (or new) object.  Of course, it may be argued, the universitaire at least has got his or her research subject, this or that illustrious or semi-illustrious or should-have-been illustrious writer of a hundred or three hundred or five hundred years ago, to focus his or her contemplative energies on in virtue (and assuredly not in vice!) of its exacting his or her attention and his or her attention alone (or at worst his or her attention plus that of three or four invisible colleagues-cum-competitors), whereas the factory worker is hurled directly and entirely into the merciless gaping maw of contingency during his or her contemplative moments and hours and therefore really has no choice but to contemplate the tree and its roots or whatever other object presents itself to his or her gaze during imponderably long tram stops and stalls.  But this argument does nothing less ignoble or more efficacious than pass the buck or beg the question (or possibly both [I hedge because there is no surer-fire shibboleth {or mayhaps litmus test} for distinguishing a first-class from a second-class mind than an erroneous construal of the sense of beg the question]).  For the twentieth-century universitaire’s choice of a research subject is no less arbitrary and contingent, and no more grounded in continuity with the lifeworld of the present, than his or her choice of an object to contemplate while waiting for a tram. Out of habit and quasi-or-pseudo-professional obligation he or she may come to be yoked to his or her chosen research subject after a certain fashion for a more or less protracted stretch of time, but it makes as little difference whether he or she chooses Scarron or Sartre, Voltaire or Voiture, for the starting point of his or her studies, as it does whether he or she contemplates a tree or its roots, or indeed whether he studies French literature or nothing at all.  A monograph on Racine, or Corneille, let alone one of their lesser contemporaries, simply did not have the aura of naturalness, let alone necessity, in 1938 that a tragedy about Andromache or Pompey the Great had had in ca. 1648, and the factitiousness of any interest in the sidereal hour (q.v.) of belles lettres in the ancien regime was as readily apparent to the 1938 French universitaire, whatever his nominal affiliations with the ostensible ruling class, as it would have been to the most poorly remunerated 1938 French factory worker without an indoor pot to piss in.  And yet in the intervening three-quarters-of-a-century intensive intellectual interest in figures such as Racine or Corneille has not disappeared completely; such interest may not exactly be thriving, but it is emphatically subsisting quasi-literally in the teeth of the towering adulation commanded by pop-cultural colossuses (above all certain athletes) who make Piaf and co. look and sound like…well, tinny-voiced, monochromatic pop-cultural pigmies.  Why this should be so, why the luminaries of les lumières have not more than figuratively gone the way of the dodo and the twelve-inch laserdisc, despite likewise having absolutely no affinity to or with the early twenty-first century’s pathetic excuse for a Zeitgeist, is a mystery in the purest modern sense of the word.  My own fascination with the periwigged and/or frilly-cuffed likes of Samuels Pepys and Johnson, Thomas Browne, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig Tieck, E. T. A. Hoffmann, J.M.R. Lenz, and (yes) Ludwig van Beethoven quite baffles me.  Certainly none of the anciently cold bio-explanatory trails favored by the clay feet-sniffing dogs of the present can account for this fascination: as a gulf-coastal Floridian I by all rights should be a rabid Hulk Hogan fan (and perhaps also a no- less-rabid Jimmy Buffett foe [as indeed I am, but solely qua loather of pop music tout court]); as a person who was an adolescent in the 1980s, I should weep buckets whenever an Ah-Hah or OMD song starts playing over the tannoy (a.k.a. “public address system”) of my local supermarket (not that I find myself in my local supermarket, or any other sort of tannoy-using establishment often or long enough to distinguish particular songs on its playlist), whereas in my mind’s ear the symphonies of Gustav Mahler and the string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich constitute the tear-jerking soundtrack of the 1980s; as a conjecturally proud child of working-class parentage I should be wild about Bruce Springsteen, whereas I can’t stand the Boss; as a conjecturally ashamed child of working-class parentage who also happens to be an American I should by all rights be seeking my so-called role models much closer to home and to the present—I should, in other words, be angling to become the successor of John Cheever or John Updike or Gore Vidal.  None of these explanations is at all satisfactory at explaining my enamorment with certain figures from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries because even after all these decades, and, indeed, even after the best part of a century and a quarter, the penny or second shoe of the universalization-cum-proletarianization-cum-marginalization of the occidental bourgeoisie has yet to drop, but I do not believe that I am being irrationally apocalyptic or messianic in conjecturing that it will drop very soon, almost certainly within a matter of decades and not improbably within a matter of years, and I am vain or bold enough to conjecture that once it has done, I shall, in virtue of nothing other than my cussed belatedness, in virtue of the tenuousness and indeed asymptotically ever more nearly approaching non-existence of my material connections to my anciently deceased mentors, occupy a kind of privileged place in the intellectual history of the occident, that I will in point of temporal and geographical scope handily trump Walter Benjamin’s self-stylizing-cum-eulogizing title “The Last European” by being dubbed “The Last Occidental” by the cultural-historiographical posterity.  If I am eventually so dubbed—and perforce concomitantly at least metaphorically stuffed in two or more ways (yes, not unlike the dodo if quite unlike the twelve-inch laser disc) then from an ontological point of view I shall have acquired a kind of solidity that I at present may lack—although, to describe the phenomenon in such acquisitive-cum-metamorphic terms, to designate it thus as a process of consolidation-cum -induration, may very well be to falsify it, depending on whether or not one equates the Hegelian Weltgeist with fate and therefore regards the events it both ushers in and embodies as having in a sense (and ultimately the only ontologically valid sense) already taken place.  But even if one does not so regard it—and I have been given to understand that this question is, as they say, hotly disputed among negative neo-Hegelians—one must, to the extent that one embraces negative neo-Hegelianism, admit that once I am in there, as the hyper-vulgar say, once I have received my virtual knighthood as “The Last Occidental,” my honor of sporting this honorific will be an indefeasible one; that this honorific will not be a mere alienable appendage or appanage that some flash-in-the-pan (q.v.) tastemaker will be able and authorized to strip from me as Talbot plucked the garter from Sir John Fastolff’s leg or Newman tore the crest of the U.S. Postal Service from Jerry’s breast—no sir-or-ma’am-ree Bob-or-Suzy, as The Last Occidental I shall have done my weltgeistial bit, just as Victor Mature and Mickey Rooney have done theirs; I shall have done my spot of fulfillment-cum-destruction and shall be able to “sleep with my fathers” (meaning, I suppose, inter alia, Messrs. Mature and Rooney) with a clear conscience (to the extent that as a deceased weltgeistial baton-bearer I shall have any kind of conscience of any degree of opacity or transparency).
But suppose the negative neo-Hegelian conception of reality is not the true one; suppose that entelechy is neither preemptive of ontology nor consubstantial with it—why then I am perforce forced to fall back on (or perhaps rather rise up to [for in matters of truth every friend of enlightenment is perforce forced to accentuate the positive, inasmuch as he or she must perforce regard a nearer approach to the truth as a passage to a better {or, in traditional metaphorical terms, higher} state]) Kripke’s theory of names in my attempt to ascertain the irreducible, indefeasible essence of Douglas Robertson.  And in contemplating what one might call the canon of Douglas Robertsoniana—a canon comprising the sum total of qualities and attributes that have been regarded, either by myself or by others, as signally characteristic of me, a canon that includes not only my fandom of the perwigged and/or frilly-cuffed gents mentioned above but also, inter alia, my fandom of certain more historically recent ascot(t)ed, shirtwaisted, two-pieced-suited, or shirtsleeved types (e.g., Proust, Bernhard, Stein, and Schoenberg), my shunning-cum-eschewal of jeans and T-shirts, and my non-ownership of both a car and a mobile phone (cf. too many screeds at or in this blog to bear mentioning; essentially I am thinking here [i.e., vis-à-vis this canon] of the catalogue of answers in a counterfactual pub quiz about Douglas Robertson [I unabashedly refrain from blushing at my manifest vanity in entertaining the possibility of such a quiz because I know that it is at least counterbalanced in point of altruism by my ability and readiness to supply an extensive list of pub-quiz answers on at least a dozen other living persons of my acquaintance])—in, I say, contemplating this canon in the light of Kripke’s theory, I find that there is not a single item in the canon that is indispensable to the Douglas Robertsonian essence.  If you, sir, madam, mademoiselle, or effendi, are a statistically typical reader of this blog, you probably think of me as Mr. Bernhard—not, to be sure, qua Thomas Bernhard eo ipso-stroke-tout court, but qua male Anglophone who is incessantly banging on about Thomas Bernhard or Englishing his writings; if, on the other hand, you are a certain statistically slightly less typical reader of this blog, you may think of me as Mr. Proust or Mr. Dr. Johnson on account of my (to you) incessant onbanging about Proust and Dr. Johnson; and if tertiarily you are a statistically atypical (but for all that once and possibly still empirically extant) reader of this blog, you may think of me as Mr. Stuckenschmidt, inasmuch as hereat or herein I happen to have dropped the surname Stuckenschmidt perhaps a butcher’s two-dozen times in half as many years, albeit without ever actually banging on about (or Englishing) anybody surnamed Stuckenschmidt.  But in Kripkean terms none of these…what shall we call them…“Affiliations?”—yes, I suppose, given that a sibling is by default a person with whom one shares a surname despite not having been born or begotten by him or her: in Kripkean terms, none of these affiliations can ever have anything whatsoever to do with me qua Mr. Douglas Robertson qua Douglas Robertson tout court (not to mention qua Mr. Douglas Robertson in the above-glossed sense, the sense of an arch-fan of the entity in question, inasmuch as quite literally anybody, or at least any malebody [q.v.?], could be Mr. Douglas Robertson in that sense, even if contingency has seen to it that I am, at least so far [!], the only Mr. Douglas Robertson in that sense).  On the other master hand (to be counterpoised with or against the three immediately above catalogued-hands, which together constitute a master hand—an opposing master hand—in their own right), as far as Kripke’s theory is concerned, the tout-court Mr. Douglas Robertson that I ineradicably am might very well have become affiliated with any number (perhaps, indeed, an infinite number [minus the sum total of entities with which I have actually become affiliated, of course]) of entities with which I now and in this world am by no means affiliated and some of which I flatter myself I would utterly abhor being affiliated with in any possible world—e.g., the Hulk Hogan Appreciation Society, the Ah-Hah Fan Club, the Association of OMD Fans (AOMDF), the Confederation of Jimmy Buffett Bashers (CJBB, affectionately known to one another as ex parrot-makers), or the Universal Church of Autocoprophagia.  “Now (i.e., at the latest beginning with your mention of the CJBB), you’re just being silly, presumably for woefully misfiring comic effect.”  By doing what?  “Why, by rattling off the names of all these presumably—and, in the case of the CJBB and this congregation of eaters of their own shit, patently—nonexistent organizations.”  I assure you, sir, madam, mademoiselle, or effendi, that I have never been less silly—or at least less intentionally silly—in my (i.e., Douglas Robertson tout court’s actual) life, and that I cannot for the actual or counterfactual life of me (i.e., Douglas Robertson tout court) see why the presumptive or patent nonexistence of the organizations in question has the slightest bearing on their bearing on the point in question-cum-at issue.  For according to Kripke’s theory of names, the inalienability of an entity from his, her, or its name perdures in “all possible worlds” chronologically posterior to the baptismal moment (q.v.), and such possible worlds are analytically inclusive of all entities that analytically could conceivably have come into existence since the baptismal moment, and every single item in my latest catalogue qualifies as such an entity.  So, for instance, while there very probably is not and never has been actually extant a Confederation of Jimmy Buffett Bashers, the existence of such an organization is in Kripkean terms eminently entertainable, inasmuch as unto us on Christmas Day of 1946, a child named James William Buffett was born, and anything conceivably appertaining to that christened entity since December 25, 1946 (including everything conceivably appertaining to the Douglas Robertson born on April 28, 1972) is metaphysically entertainable as part of a certain version of the world of the present.  And the same goes, mutatis mutandi—and admittedly even more counterintuitively—for the Universal Church of Autocoprophagia: inasmuch as churches, shit, the universe, and eaters have existed since I was born, it is metaphysically conceivable both that a Universal Church of Autocoprophagia should now exist and that I should now be, as they say, a proud card-carrying member thereof.  On the other hand—or, rather, an other, subsidiary hand, a subaltern other hand subservient to my first master hand—although such entities as The Turk’s Head Club (of which Dr. Johnson was a founding member), the Viennese Masonic lodge belonged to by Haydn and Mozart, and the Society of for the Private Performance of Music (organized and sustained by Schoenberg and his students) undoubtedly have existed, in Kripkean terms it is necessarily inconceivable that I either ever can or ever could have had anything to do with them because as far as Prof. Kripke’s theory is concerned, I did not yet exist in any sense when they most recently still existed (although I am a bit uncertain about the Masonic lodge, as there are still scads of Masonic lodges, and it is at least conceivable that the one belonged to by H&M still exists in the sense of using the same charter as the one that governed the minutes of meetings attended by H&M).  Of course, at first a posteriori (in two or more senses) blush, the immediately preceding sentence may seem merely to be stating a particularized axiom of unphilosophical common sense: obviously, so this axiom runs in its original, generalized form, it is impossible to rub elbows, clink glasses, exchange bodily fluids, &c. with the luminaries of the distant past, or indeed with anybody who died before we were born, because at least for the time being we have no means of traveling backwards in time.  But in analytical terms this axiom carries no weight, being founded as it is in or on an intrinsically contingent and hence analytically conceivably superable fact of physics.  The Kripkean objection to such trans-epochal elbow-rubbing &c., in devastating contrast, is a metaphysical one, and hence completely insuperable no matter what any of the natural sciences may enable us to do in the future.  In Kripkean terms, the notion of Douglas Robertson—or at least the present Douglas Robertson, the Douglas Robertson born on April 28, 1972 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida (as opposed to some Douglas Robertson of a previous age, a Douglas Robertson who was born, say, in some house in Prince Street in Edinburgh in 1750 or in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1890)—clinking glasses &c. with Samuel Johnson or Joseph Haydn in 1770-something or with Arnold Schoenberg in 1920-something is an analytical metaphysical contradiction, because the present Douglas Robertson did not exist in the 1770s or the 1920s.  (Note the absence before exist of yet, an adverb that must be banished because it perforce implies the teleological metaphysics of negative neo-Hegelianism with its notion of preparation for specific entities.)  Consequently, in Kripkean terms, the only hope the present Douglas Robertson has even a logical right to entertain vis-à-vis a rendezvous with those of his idols who predeceased his birth is that one of the natural sciences (not necessarily physics, for why may it not conceivably be, say, a chemical process, as the creation of Frankenstein’s creature was in Mrs. Shelley’s novel, before Hollywood got hold of the event and made it more voguish by electrifying it?) will someday find a way of importing these idols from the past into the present—or, rather, the future (i.e., the historical moment when such an importation becomes feasible) qua present.  To my mind this is a much less attractive prospect than the one of fraternizing with these people in their native historical environs, because if you were hanging out with, say, Samuel Johnson in, say, 1774, you would always have not only Johnson himself but the complete Johnsonian circle on call 24/7, 7/52—at least theoretically practicably speaking; moreover, you would get to hear the Great Cham holding forth exclusively on all his favorite eighteenth-century topicks—luxury, the Rockingham Party, cant (though not Kant, in the light of the sage of Koenigsberg’s then hyper-obscurity in the Anglosphere), Americans, the merits and demerits of Popery, and, so on.  Whereas if you brought Dr. Johnson into the third decade of the twenty-first century, it would presumably only be a matter of time before he was corrupted by the depraved pseudo-historical folkways of our pseudo-age (Johnson himself acknowledged that as he lived in the world, he moved with it to some extent), before he off-puttingly began bigging things up, dysphemistically referring to his genitals as his junk, and inveighing against the unfeminine gracelessness (or worse yet, eulogizing the feminine gracefulness) of the vajazzle.  The famous or notorious very-late-1980s teen time-travel comedy Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure succinctly—or perhaps with a brevity too lazily schematic to be succinct—illustrates this danger of going micro-epochally native in the case of our now even older friend Beethoven, who upon being left to his own devices at a late twentieth-century suburban North American shopping mall repairs promptly to a piano-and-organ store, where he is presently seen and heard pounding out deafeningly loud (or perhaps in his hearing-impaired case merely lightly audible) and appallingly clichéd Jerry Lee Lewis-like rock-a-boogie riffs on a synthesizer keyboard.  (Speaking of kinetic mises-en-scene hailing from the 1980s and depicting time travel, the 1983 Doctor Who serial Mawdryn Undead puts me in mind of another embarrassing and indeed potentially catastrophic anomaly inherent in such an importative scenario [and indeed inherent therein in a much more nearly metaphysically watertight—i.e., more nearly strictly analytical—sense], viz. the actual [as against merely counterfactual] coexistence of two manifestations of a single baptized entity at a single temporal moment.  In this serial, a certain friend of the eponymous Doctor’s, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, travels forward in time six years, from 1977 to 1983, and to a not very large spaceship around which his 1983 self is idly wandering; consequently, he ends up almost literally stumbling into—and literally touching fingers with—that 1983 self, and sub-consequently (and immediately) detonates an explosion that is evidently supposed to be many orders of magnitude (i.e., petajoules?) greater than the flash of hibachi-flame provided by the BBC’s special effects department, because it kills off a butcher’s half-dozen thitherto seemingly immortal space aliens with fearsomely oversized (and appallingly al fresco) brains.  Now in the idol-importation scenarios I have been contemplating, the chances of a purely contingent or random encounter between the imported entity and his or her latter-day counterpart are obviously much smaller than in the case of the two brigadiers, inasmuch as the latter-day counterpart, being a corpse, skeleton, or heap of ashes, is perforce much less mobile than the imported entity.  But on the whole-stroke-in general, the danger of an encounter might be even greater, because it would presumably only be a matter of early twenty-first-century time before the imported entity started inquiring after the whereabouts of “my mortal remains” (q.v.), and in the light of the anacreontic character of the gatherings in which people tend to pose such questions (or rather their prospective counterparts—e.g., “I wonder where I will be buried?”), it would be a matter of much less further e.-21st-c. time before the IE was heading down to Westminster Abbey or Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof, or wherever else the LDC was to be found, with a butcher’s half-dozen stalwart crowbar-and-lasso-equipped lads or middle-aged yeomen, towards the undisguised end of seeing how the old fellow [or gal] is getting on [or perhaps holding up] after all these years [or decades or centuries, or perchance even millennia].  Of course, the questions of whether meeting one’s past or future self would touch off a mighty explosion and if so whether the explosion would differ in quality or magnitude depending on whether one’s other self were dead or alive can only if ever be answered by the physicists (or chemists, forensic geologists, geo-proctologists, autc.) and therefore ultimately have no bearing on this intrinsically metaphysically orientated essay.  But the farcically risible flavor of all the immediately above scenarios centering on the importation of long-deceased persons in the present does provide a salutary illustration of how difficult it is—at least psychologically speaking—to yield unreservedly and in all seriousness to the ineluctable metaphysical implications of the Kripkean theory of names.  On the one hand, there is nothing at all inherently comical about the notion of implanting oneself in a(n) historical tableau, but this the Kripkean theory of names categorically forbids one to do in virtue of positing a necessary a posteriori set of truths or facts, the set of facts causally arising from the naming of entities.  On the other hand, there seems to be something ineluctably comical in the notion of implanting an historical figure in some characteristic tableau of the present, and yet nothing but the merely contingent a posteriori fact of the deceasedness (or, if you Anglo-Saxon-root-humpers insist, deadness) of the persons has precluded such a notion from being realized.  At bottom, it seems to me that we are all wedded, or your-favorite-alternative-notionally-identical-past-participle, to the old-analytic school pre-Kripkean pub-quiz theory of names, at least vis-à-vis persons who have predeceased our birth—that, in other words, we are all very much content to regard the barnacle-coating of associations that accreted around a human individual’s name during or at least thanks to the stretch of years wherein his or her pre-putrescent person contingently (if Kripke is right) disported itself (or himself or herself) in the open air as the essential facts or truths about that person.  Take a by-every-means typical case of such accretion, that of Franz Schubert.  For us (or at least that serious music-affecting minuscule minority of us) FS is inseparable from the Viennese Biedermeier period or mini-epoch, and this sense of inseparability informs every aspect of our conception of him and his work;  for us it is impossible not to think of his verbal taciturnity-cum-musical effusiveness as an ultra-privatizing comportment directly mandated by the retrenchment of civil liberties in the wake of the Congress of Vienna, or to conceive of the celebrated Schubertiades as taking place in any other setting than a cramped Biedermeier drawing room filled with form-fittingly yet demurely attired ladies and gentlemen somehow managing to keep their coifs and collars dry despite being packed far closer together than the virtually or actually bare-chested denizens of the so-called pit at a sold-out late twentieth-century pop concert; and finally but fundamentally, we cannot but picture Schubert as a curly brown-haired, modestly side-whiskered young man wearing minuscule-lensed spectacles and a classic Biedermeier masculine suit of clothes—broad-lapelled coat, upturned collar, smooth white shirt front, and an impossibly broad and ornately knotted bowtie that to our eyes would look much more at home on a Christmas box.  But this (i.e., the sense of inseparability) is ultimately all along of FS’s early death a good eve-and-a-half shy (if we accept the historiographic convention that one solar year equals one solar eve) of the event that officially marks the beginning of the end of the Biedermeier period or mini-epoch, viz. the July 1830 revolution in Paris.  For after all, being (or having been?) born in January 1797, FS was less than a year-and-a-half older than Honoré de Balzac, born in May 1799.  If the two of them had grown up in the same ZIP-code (i.e., somewhere in the United States from 1967, when the ZIP-code addressing system was introduced, onwards), and their respective parent-pairs had alike consigned them to the mercies of the local public school system, they undoubtedly would have attended the same high school.  (Incidentally, such a FS & HdB-centered My Bodyguard-type scenario is eminently entertainable within the Kripkean dispensation, inasmuch as some super-strong aging-retarding-cum-longevity-facilitating tonic could have been discovered at some point between May 1799 and August 1814 [the last month when an un-tonic-treated Schubert would have been eligible to enroll as a senior in an American high school], and both the Schubert and the Balzac families could have emigrated to the U.S. immediately subsequent to the discovery.)  And yet there is no single figure of the post-Biedermeier mini-epoch who epitomizes the post-Biedermeier Geist or esprit more fully than Balzac, in virtue of his sandwiching assault on the unprecedentedly-cum-unsucceededly hegemonic bourgeoisie (q.v.) from the twin albeit opposed approaches of the coolly disinterested champion of the ancien regime and the unregenerate peasant who attacks a hapless commercial traveler and a super-sized serving of coq au vin alike with unvaryingly uninhibited gusto.  Now, let it be parsecs if not light years away from me to conjecture, however flagrantly unembarrasable as to allow himself to be photographed in shirtsleeves, and with the shirt in question unbuttoned almost to the waist, as Balzac did in that year; yet for all that requested astronomical distance, I cannot but suspect that the counterfactual FS who survived into the early mid-century would have been in some register or other a much less reserved, a much less secretive, figure than the Biedermeier-cocooned wallflower whom historical contingency (or perchance some other force—remember I am not convinced of the untruth of the negative neo-Hegelian worldview) has bequeathed to us.  And the same counterfactual extrapolative maneuver may be profitably applied to Balzac qua-post-1830-cum-pre-1853 exemplary homme de l’epoque internapoleonienne, for with the benefit of even a very slightly lighter diet or heavier exercise regimen, HdB, who died in the prime of life at age 50, most certainly could have lived well into the second Napoleonic age and consequently not only adopted an entirely different political worldview (for one may easily conceive the mediocrity of Napoleon III’s trumping both his admiration of Napoleon I and his faith in dynastic succession) but also vied compellingly for the novelist’s laurel with Flaubert, whose smug sense of having surpassed the master has (at least so the present author would argue) been endorsed by posterity more on account of the accident of his later efflorescence than of any profound advances in insight into the sorts of things novelists are prized for having insight into—human psychology, currents of intellectual history, and so forth.  But why stop (t)here?  Is it not all too easy to imagine a genuinely health-conscious and slimmed-down elderly Balzac, a sort of French Jack la Lanne avant la lettre, living to the age of a hundred-and-two, and consequently surviving the century that Oscar Wilde both praised him for having largely created and failed to survive himself?  And while it may be harder to imagine, say, Kanye West (I cite him entirely at random as a celebrity who has come to prominence in the past ten years, a set of persons whom or that I am proud and grateful to know to a man, woman, child, etc. [sic! / q.v.?] only as names), writing a newspaper opinion piece on Oscar Wilde than to imagine Oscar Wilde, the arch late-Victorian, writing a newspaper opinion piece on the atomic bomb, it really is no odder a scenario than the historically actual one of such pieces having been penned by Wilde’s fellow member of the natal class of the 1850s, George Bernard Shaw, who would likewise be known to us as an arch late-Victorian—perhaps specifically as late Victorian Britain’s most eloquent Wagner buff—had he, like Wilde, died in 1899 (or even as late as 1901, the last year of Victoria’s reign), instead of living for 49 years, nearly half his very long life, as an official post-Victorian.  Finally in this series I think yet again of Beethoven (and even more appositely of Goethe, but as I have not hitherto mentioned Goethe except in connection with Beethoven and happen to be a much smaller fan of G. than of B., it is on balance probably best to confine myself to B. here) as a kind of false counterexample, as a figure whom it is indeed quite difficult to imagine having become any other sort of person than he actually became, but whose very existential obdurateness tends on reflection to undermine one’s native faith in the pub-quizzial descriptive theory of names and to encourage one to plunge into the void of Kripkean rigid nominal designation with redoubled despairing zeal.  Pub-quizzially speaking (and to some extent even negative neo-Hegelianistically speaking), one thinks F&F-most of Beethoven as the great musical Gulliverian colossus wantonly splayed-leggedly bestriding two great ages—the Age of Classicism, an age of symmetry, proportion, rational disputation, and, above all, powdered wigs, knee-breeches, and frilly neckwear (a silhouette of Beethoven at sixteen—i.e., in 1786—shows him sporting both the telltale queue of a wig-like coiff [probably his own hair but also probably powdered so as not to flaunt its organicity] and a conspicuously frilly neckcloth); and the Age of Romanticism, an age of asymmetry, disproportion, irrational ebullition, and, above all, organic head-hair, full-length (albeit form-fitting [q.v.] trousers), and decidedly non-frilly (albeit elaborately knotted [q.v.]) bowties.  But this is a misconception (paces galore here to Charles Rosen): at least vis-à-vis his musical practice (for as far as his sartorial practice went he did indeed ditch the queue, the frilly neckwear, and the knee-breeches fairly early on [see Joseph (not Gustav) Mähler (sic on the umlaut)’s 1804 full-length portrait]) it would be far more truthful to describe Beethoven as a decidedly non-Gulliverian (and, by extension, non-Rhodesian) colossus standing with legs chastely pressed together and both feet planted firmly on the classical side of the divide.  For as everybody knows, long (say, 10-15 years) before his death, Beethoven was regarded as the oldest, the most moth-eaten and acutely tricornered, of old hats by the mobility of music connoisseurs.  In their ca. 1820 eminently lachrymose eyes (perhaps rendered all the more lachrymose on account of the minuscularity of their spectacles), the tear-jerking bel canto operas of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti (along with the tear-jerking cum spook-conjuring Lieder and Singspiele of Schubert and Weber chez the true cognoscenti) were the musical-compositional state of the art; and, as for the masterpieces of Beethoven’s so-called late period— the Ninth Symphony, the opp. 109-111 piano sonatas, the Diabelli Variations, and the opp. 127-135 string quartets—why, to the extent that they paid them any regard at all, they regarded them as retardataire throwbacks to the pre-classical period of J.S. Bach et al.  And in a way—and by no means the least important way—they (the au courant vulgar connoisseurs) were right to regard them (Beethoven’s late masterpieces) in such a light.  For despite the obligatorily heroic efforts of dozens of extremely famous musicologists (and doubtless equally, albeit less enthusiastically, despite the obligatorily workmanlike efforts of hundreds of fairly-to-utterly obscure musicologists) over the past, say, 18.5 decades, to link the techniques and final causes of these late works with the techniques and final causes of the most accomplished achievements of much later composers (notably Mahler, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg), and thereby incorporate them into a Whiggish (or, in continental terms, positive Hegelian) procession of the ineluctable progress of the arts; despite these efforts, I say, no first-time listener to any of these works over those selfsame past decades has yet been heard candidly to exclaim, My, how startlingly ahead of its time this sounds!, and the most common exclamation these works have elicited from first-time listeners over those decades is undoubtedly My, how clumsy [or inept or naff or f*c*i*g awful] this sounds!  For despite their prestige, the signal characteristic of these works, as against such certifiably ahead-of-their-time works as Mozart’s Dissonance quartet and Haydn’s op. 76 quartets, is the evincing of a certain—nay, more than certain, flagrant, albeit not positively unregenerate (for unregeneracy bespeaks an assertion of the will, and hence an at minimum somatically still-vigorous subjectivity)—laziness-cum-slovenliness-cum-gormlessness in their facture.  They give the impression of having been written by somebody who was at least intermittently out to lunch, as we say in English, or weg zum Mittagessen, as Beethoven’s fellow-Viennese may have said in German; or, to put it another way more signally appropriate to Beethoven, they seem to lack that quality of presence of mind (Besonnenheit) that E.T.A. Hoffmann pinpointed in his seminal essay on the composer as the signature Beethovenian quality, a signature quality exemplified for Hoffmann by and in such middle-period masterpieces as the Fifth Symphony and “Ghost” Piano Trio.  (Hoffmann, who died in 1822, was biologically excluded from hearing the last of the late-period works and probably never heard any of the earlier late-period ones either.  Perhaps needless to say, one of the present author’s most ardent Kripkean fantasies centers on a Hoffmann who survived Beethoven’s death and got around to writing a conspectus of Beethoven’s entire career up to the last of the late works.)  Of course, to this day these middle-period works remain the most famous in the non-decomposing Beethovenian corpus, and the relatively smooth-faced (albeit already senescently deaf) and beautifully ungrizzled-maned L.v.B. who composed them remains the L.v.B. of first imaginative resort for all of us (or at least that serious music-affecting minuscule minority of us [q.v.]); such that merely in meditating on the late Beethoven and his compositions, we are in a certain sense (and by no means a factitious one, although perhaps not quite the proverbial very real one) already staring the counterfactual Beethoven, the precise analogue or counterpart of our post-Biedermeier Schubert and fin-de-siècle Balzac, in the eye—and what a wandering, distracted, panicked, disturbing, and yet almost preternaturally insightful eye it is.  It is an eye that discloses to us with panoramic mercilessness the uninterruptedly bleak prospect of having outlived one’s time, an eye that reveals to us, inter alia, that such outliving does not, as younger people are given to imagine (on the whole with good reason, in the light of what they hear from their empirical elders, very few if any of whom can vie with Beethoven in point of all-around perceptiveness), amount to a perpetual pining for the good old days when bread was a half-groschen per loaf and the stagecoaches still ran on time, and so forth, because the particulars of those good old days—including one’s own achievements therein—have no more necessary or intrinsic connection with oneself than do the particulars of the bad new days of the present; that having learnt that one’s affiliation with the particulars of  both the past and the present historical environment is purely contingent and transient, one inductively concludes that from the future one can expect nothing more, better, or other than an endless bombardment by a hail of evanescent persiflage no particle of which will ever even initially strike one as being even trivially significant or remotely consequential; that once even the memory of having once upon a time (i.e., in the aforementioned good old days) regarded such particulars as essential to one’s being has faded, one will no longer be capable even of putting oneself in the shoes of people who still regard such particulars as essential to their being, and hence of even going through the motions of regarding such particulars as significant and consequential for the sake of not falling out with one’s contemporaries.  In a word (at least by comparison with the preceding sentence), the late-period Beethoven, though but a comparatively strapping quinquagenarian, has already seen through to the aperçue delivered by the eighty-year-old Harry Hoffman to his fifty-year-old son Dustin on their shared birthday, in reply to the latter’s request for the epitome of his eight decades of experience: It’s all bullshit.  And if we were to extrapolate from this Beethoven to a not-merely-in-a-sensical but actual analogue of our post-Biedermeier Schubert and fin-de-siècle Balzac, we would perforce produce a living (or at least existing) incarnation of one of Jonathan Swift’s struldbrugs (yes, Gulliver again), a sub-race of immortal but perpetually aging beings who have no interest in conversing with anybody else, not even their own contemporaries, because the span of time they have spent as virtual corpses has long since outstripped the span of time they spent as active human beings, and consequently eclipsed all memory of that earlier time-span.   
From the counterfactual figure of Beethoven qua struldbrug qua virtual corpse it is of course a very easy transition to the quasi-actual figure of Beethoven qua virtual corpse qua decomposer with which this essay began, a figure that it would now seem the living Beethoven was already and deliberately beginning to embody in the last decade or so of his official existence.  But what is the upshot of all this Kripkean counterfactual bio-spinning vis-à-vis you and me qua named individual entities, irrespective of our respective vocations?  That upshot, DGR, would seem to be this: if we uncompromisingly abjure the old-school-analytic descriptive pub-quiz theory of names as the load of metaphysical hogwash that it would seem to have been conclusively shown to be, and if we are resigned to regarding the extent to which our participation in the machinery of history contributes to our metaphysical essence in negative neo-Hegelian fashion as at best an open question, we must content ourselves with regarding our own (respective) bodies as the sum and limit of all that we may indisputably and inalienably call our (respective) own.  “But is this not merely vulgar and unphilosophical, albeit eminently wholesome, common sense?  Does not the man or woman in the street comprehend that even if he or she, Bob or Suzy Focckuck, is by some stroke of chance, fate, or Providence reduced to absolute indigence (e.g., or perhaps, i.e., à la Job), is deprived of every last worldly accoutrement down to the proverbial single pissworthy pot, he or she will still be every inch the Bob or Suzy Focckuck he or she was when he or she was the senior and highest-paid quantity surveyor or bum bailiff in the Quad Cities metropolitan area?”  Yes, but if I may be permitted to quasi-induce or quasi-deduce Bob and Suzy’s Selbstanschauung from that of the men and women in the street of my empirical acquaintance, in composing his or her sense of self-sameness, he or she, Mr. or Ms. Focckuck, will inevitably alloy and consequently corrupt the notion of pure entity-hood, the notion of being the same person—meaning the same body—as one was in the past, with various bits of adscititious pub-quizziana; he or she will derive a good part, and probably the best part, of his or her sense of self-integrity, from the reflection that, for example, if called upon to do so he or she could still survey more and larger quantities, or bail more and larger bums, in a single day, than the current big cheese among quantity surveyors or bum bailiffs in the Moline-Rock Island-Davenport-Bettendorf conurbation, or, if he or she is conventionally unprosaic enough not to allow himself or herself to be defined by his or her job, he or she may shore up his or her sense of selfhood with the reflection that were he or she now pitted in competition against the cream of amateur strudel-bakers, or amateur lawn darts players,  in the Quad Cities area, he or she would carry away the bronze by just as ample a margin as that with which he or she carried it away in the 2002 All Quad Cities amateur strudel baking-or amateur lawn darts championship.  Whereas in laymanized—i.e., less than broadly if not quite strictly—Kripkean terms he or she, the destitute Quadurban ex-quantity surveyor or bum-bailiff, should be consoling himself or herself (to the extent that the reflection in question is consoling [I personally happen to find that extent nearly infinite]) by reflecting that even in a counterfactual world in which he or she was (or were?) still the senior and highest-paid quantity surveyor or bum-bailiff, or reigning third-place amateur strudel baker or lawn darts player in the Moline-Rock Island-Davenport-Bettendorf conurbation, he or she would not now, at this moment, be a jot younger or better-looking than he or she is at this actual moment of utter destitution; or that he or she would not now be a jot younger or better-looking if on his or her birth date of **/**/19** [apologies for the liberty of the undevicensal birth-year prefix to any extant under-17-or-over-116-year-old quantity surveyor or bum-bailiff who may be reading this] he or she had been  (however improbably) shipped from the incubators of Davenport’s St. Luke’s Hospital to one of the figuratively myriad sidewalks of downtown Calcutta, and had subsisted as a beggar (obviously at first by proxy, thanks to the kind ministrations of an established adult beggar) on that selfsame sidewalk ever since; that in short, he or she is from a strictly metaphysical point of view, as regards his essential selfhood, entitled and indeed well-advised to send the entire post-**/**/19** Quad Cities Area, including the entire kit-and-caboodle of symbolic and material swag he has actually acquired and lost there, to Coventry (provided, of course, that Coventry has room for the 90th-largest metropolis in the United States).  “So you are effectively shilling for Kripke qua subculturally improbable Buddhist transcendental ascetic.”  No, because for the Buddhist one’s body is very much at the top of the junk-heap of worldly swag to be excessed from one’s car boot or garage, whereas for the Kripke for whom I am shilling the body is the very last thing you want to flog at your next car boot or garage sale; and because for the Buddhist the off-sloughing of de material tings of dis world is but a preliminary to a retreat into de inner spiritual world of de soul, mon (sic, incidentally, on the attribution of Rastafarian speech patterns to a Bhuddist: the more demographically appropriate ones of a Southern Californian, in exacting more lexical space [viz. on account of all the verbal hedges—“like,” “dude,” and whatnot] would have less economically conveyed the Occidental Buddhist’s essential flakiness, his out-to-lunchness [q.v.]), whereas for my Kripke there is no inner spiritual world into which to retreat.  “So you are effectively shilling for Kripke qua perhaps even more subculturally improbable phenomenologist, qua advocate of or for a not necessarily a-less prioritizing of corporeal sensation—of regarding what is seen through the eye, tasted through the tongue, felt through the anal sphincter etc., qua foundation of the fundamentally real or numinous.”  No, because for the Kripke for whom I am shilling, the sensations of the body have no meaning or (as William James would [have] put it) cash value, except as expressions of the at least relative perdurability of the body qua named entity.  To be sure, for this Kripke, as for the phenomenologists, one is immediately confronted by nothing but sensations—one feels this or that twinge, sees this or that shape, hears this or that sound, but one immediately interprets these sensations (I suppose that Kripke, operating in the analytic tradition, would call them qualia) as the sensations of a specific body, the body of a specific named individual, e.g., Bob or Suzy Fockcuck, Douglas or Darcy Robertson.  Think of this meta-phenomenology (if that is the right word for it) as a modification—specifically an eversion or inside-out-turning—of Hume’s famous account of his discovery that he had no self as such: “For my part,” Hume wrote, “when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception.”  There is absolutely no problem with this account, my Kripke would say, from the end of that initial “when” clause onwards.  But that there “when” clause is fraught with metaphysical fallaciousness.  In that clause Hume says that he enters into what he calls himself, as if he believes that reflection on one’s perceptions is always or at least by default an introspective procedure.  But in point of fact it is, if you will, an out-trospective procedure, in that one is “always already [one hesitates to imagine K. using such a bit of Continental jargon without quotation marks] interpreting these perceptions as those of a body at large in the world [a creepy image, no? more on this creepiness anon]—and not just any body, but the body named David Hume or whatever other name one has always been compelled to answer to.  To be sure, pace Hume, in the aggregate these perceptions eis ipsis do not add up to anything axiomatically infungible and distinctive, but by that (self)same token their presumptive fungibility and typicality is of no metaphysical heft whatsoever, inasmuch as they do not enjoy the luxury of being regarded eis ipsis, because they are “always already” the perceptions of David Hume aut c. “I’m afraid this is all far too abstract to carry any heft, metaphysical or otherwise, with the present spiritual Missourian.”  Well, then, to bring it all back home (i.e., to St. Louis or Columbia or Kansas City or wherever the fudge else in Missouri you hail from), think back to some incident that took place during one of your childhood birthdays, and that has stuck in your memory ever since.  Say on that birthday you were bitten on the armpit by a miniature schipperke-shihtzu mix, or a propeller passenger airplane crashed into your next-door neighbors’ house, or, as in my case, you happened to hear a particular song (“Rhythm of the Night,” thirteenth birthday, 4/28/1985) for the first time.  Your initial impulse upon summoning up this incident will be simply to regard it as your own, but if you dwell on it (the incident), you will be bound to feel misgivings of the Humean kind or ilk creeping in.  In what sense, you will then be bound to ask yourself, is this memory o’ this dog-bite, plane crash, or bit o’ tuneage mine?  After all, I ain’t no stinkin’ spindly slip of a two-stone bairn with a four-bits-per-week candy allowance; I’m a big brawny hairy-chested, home-owning twenty-stone lumberjack(ess) pulling in eighty thou’ per annum.  The answer to this question is simply that the memory is yours in virtue of having originated in an event pertaining to you, meaning the person christened Bob or Suzy DGR (or David or Jane, autc. DGR) exactly five or 10 or 13 years before the pertaining event, and identifiable by name as you ever since.  To be sure, your appearance will have changed dramatically since the remembered event—notably you will have become substantially taller and hairier–and your loci of intellectual preoccupation probably will also have shifted with comparable stridency—whereas in the personal microepoch of the fifth-or-tenth-or-13th-birthday event you may have spent most of your time thinking, about, say, the acquisition of blockbuster-movie-affiliated miniature action dolls, you now fret incessantly about, say, acquiring a more fuel-efficient feller buncher—but meanwhile there has been an uninterrupted time-stream of existential continuity between the events befalling that five or 10 or 13-year-old person and the events befalling you now; everything that has since happened to that person has happened to nobody other than you, and even if one were to divide up that time-stream into a series of instants separated from each other by the minutest fraction of a second, like the freeze-frame images comprising a movie, vis-à-vis each and every one of these micro-instants the question “Who is the person in question here?” would always deserve an answer of Bob, Suzy, David, Jane autc. DGR.  “And by this same token, if we extrapolate the chiffonaded time stream into the future, into a micro-epoch of a notably balder, grayer (or greyer), feebler DGR…” …That’s right: at each and every one of that chiffonade’s micro-instants the same question would always deserve the same answer.  “And if I may be so bold as to exact a third ride from this token, if we extrapolate the time stream even further…” …into a notably thinner, smellier, quieter because dead DGR, yes, the question would still always deserve the same answer.  The self may very well be—and very probably is—as much of a chimera as Hume supposed it to be, inasmuch as the most besonnenheitsvoll of us would be very hard pressed to establish an unbroken nexus of mnemonic links to all (of) his or her past perceptions (a nexus whose actuality would be manifested by, for example, an ability to say with perfect conviction that one had never heard of So-and-So or Such-and-Such; or that twenty years previously one had definitely bought this or that pair of socks qua hosial color coordinates of this or that jumper), but the person as conceived by Kripke—the person qua individually named entity—seems to be an eminently, nay, ineluctably importunately inelusive figure, a figure whom one might be inclined to write or slag off as the metaphysical quasi-equivalent of a dog turd or wad of chewed gum or streamer of toilet paper affixed to the metaphysical quasi-equivalent of a shoe-sole that is (or would be) one’s true self, did one not know better, thanks to Kripke; did not one know that there is no such shoe-sole and that hence in a certain well-nigh-very real sense one is oneself the dog turd, gum-wad, or toilet-paper streamer.  “Ermm…well…I suppose so…and yet…?”  Go on, Bob, Suzy, David, Jane, autc.  “Well, at the risk—nay, certainty—of sullying the metaphysical stream (or chiffonade) of the present argument with a great malodorous (or mel[l]odorous) lashing of good (or bad) old (or new)-fashioned physics, I must point out that a self-transporting dog turd, gum-wad, or toilet-paper streamer is a natural-legal impossibility very much along the lines of a perpetual motion machine or a person pulling himself or herself up by his or her own bootstraps.”  True enough, and inasmuch as I find this sense of impossibility seconded by my own phenomenal experience, I surmise that we cannot quite completely dispense with the notion of a depersonalized or non-embodied self.  But by yet another of these pesky same tokens, I surmise that we must resist the impulse to impute an autonomous existence to this self, an imputation inextricably implicit in the shoe-component of the above conceit, for a shoe is analytically inconceivable apart from the foot that it has been designed to accommodate, the foot of a full-fledged second person exacting its own infungible ministrations and exerting its own inalienable prerogatives.  If we need concede the existence of a self, let that self be a dedicated servitor of the named person; let it be a virtually full-fledged non-entity organically inconceivable apart from that person; let it be constitutionally incapable even of repining, after the manner of a medieval serf or antebellum slave, at the unjust onerousness of the burden imposed on it.  Such, at any rate, is the only sort of self that I can countenance in my own case without blushing, for if I am to give an honest, good-faith answer to the question of what I have been up to for the past two-score-and-four years, that answer cannot but all but exhaustively amount to schlepping the person of this Douglas Robertson person up and down the Eastern Seaboard, up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida, up and down the northwest corner of Hillsborough County, Florida, up and down the spine or nose-bridge of Baltimore City, and up and down the stairs of the M********r Apartments in descending order of scale if not frequency of schleppage.  Every other answer is at best contestable--contestable on the grounds of priority, a priority that comes as close to a prior-ity as sublunary experience affords.  If I answer that, for example, I have been writing for the best (and in a certain sense worst [q.v.]) part of those four-and-forty years, this answer is immediately challenged by the imperious counter-question But on behalf of whom have you been writing?, to which in good faith I cannot but tender the counter-answer Mr. Douglas Robertson.  Here, i.e., vis-à-vis this activity of writing, it will or at any rate should be seen that we are not dealing merely with some manifestly adscititious pub-quizzial old-school analytic attribute, but rather with a phenomenon to which the I in question feels an abiding if not necessarily deep attachment—and yet it ultimately must yield pride of place to the unbudgeable, preemptive infungibility of named personhood.  My writing quasi-métier is undoubtedly something I care about in Frankfurterian terms, and indeed I not only would but will be not only so bold but also so arrogant and even so cheeky as to conjecture (tho’ not to assert) that I care about it much more than most people care about most of the things that they purport to care about to the extent of being purportedly willing and indeed eager to be eaten alive by a pack of rabid dingoes or what have you for the sake of protecting such purported objects of care from harm.  And yet I cannot in good faith aver, in the mawkishly, bumptiously autofellationary lingo of this most vis-à-vis their purported caring about these objects, that it(i.e., my writing métier)’s a part of who I am, because it is entirely conceivable that I should stop caring about it completely; admittedly I do not think this at all likely, but off-goings nearly as strange have happened chez moi—for instance, I recall being at least publicly determined, back in the autumn of 2000, to move to Italy and renounce my American citizenship if the Supreme Court decided in favor of Mr. Bush in the matter of the contested presidential election, whereas now nothing seems more absurd to me than such histrionic attitudinizing over a fundamentally trivial political change hinging on a fundamentally pedantic point of law imposed by a fundamentally arbitrary political system.  And yet I do not feel myself to be to any degree or in any sense a different person than I was before the scales of infatuation with Whiggism fell from my eyes, and yet again I can locate this continuity of personhood in nothing more edifying than my curative obligation to the person of the person named Douglas Robertson.  But in dwelling so insistently on my own name and circumstances I risk occluding what I believe to be the general and indeed universal upshot of this application of Kripke’s theory to that name and those circumstances–namely, that existence itself may be cruelly and implacably administrative in its very essence and at its very core, that insofar as according to Kripke the only thing that essentially belongs to us is our name and the person to which it was affixed at our respective births, each and every one of us is nothing more redeemable or glamorous than a kind of freelance cattle dealer schlepping his or her sole branded heifer, bull, or steer from one livestock auction to the next.  “I cannot but notice that your bovine vehicle is differentiated by s—I beg your pardon!—gender.  Is this differentiation purely adscititious and superfluous to the gist of your main point?”  Indeed it regrettably (and BYM, DGR, nobody more ardently wishes it were otherwise than the present writer) is not.  For inasmuch as these christened bodies to which we are indissolubly shackled all bore organs of generation of some gendered stripe or other, it does rather tend to follow that the essences of our respective personhoods will be indissolubly shackled to specific and determinate genders.  “But,” you hysterically remonstrate whilst histrionically batting the air with your lorgnette, “my dear sir or madam—” Sir or madam indeed?  Have you not, sir or madam, yet had leisure to take notice of the byline of any of my posts in the past dozen years, or indeed of my several droppings (in perhaps two or more senses) of my own name in the past quarter-dozen hours (as the eye runs)?  And if so, have you not noticed that my forename is the universally conventionally masculine one of Douglas and not some universally conventionally feminine one like Darcy (I keep falling back on this one because I have been told that I was to have been christened Darcy had I been a girl, and also because every Darcy-forenamed person I have ever known either personally or by proxy has been phenomenally attractive), or even (as you seem to presume) some conventionally genderically equivocal one like Evelyn, Bobbie, or Hilary?  “Indeed I have taken notice of this Douglas in both contexts.  But the prevalence of this Douglas and the absence of Darcy aut al. therein by no means licenses me to address you with a bare sir.”  Oh, I see, now you’re going to tell me—Scottish-history pedant that you are (for I cannot but imagine that you are an instantiation of that Platonic anti-ideal of the most annoying sort of person imaginable)—that Douglas was initially applied as a forename exclusively to girls and women, as if that were within a gargantuan fried Mars bar-length’s distance from relevance to its usage today.  “No, I’m nae gwin to tay ye anything of th’ilk, although I am enough of a Scottish history pedant to cry foul or throw a red card at a would-be champion of an exclusively masculine Douglas in most settings, but in this case my Scottish history pedantry is trumped by my emphatically unpedantic zeal on behalf of the gender queer—that multi-quadrillion strong class of noble souls who change their gender-identification with a frequency that makes the oscillation of a hummingbird’s wings seem like the uphill progress of January’s molasses by comparison.”  Even after reducing the oscillation to something of a visualizable pace by passing it before my mind’s stroboscope, I am still having a great deal of trouble picturing the nonstop gender-re-identification supposedly engaged in by these so-called gender queer types.  What are they doing, constantly attaching and detaching prosthetic penises, scrota, clitorises, and labia to and from their crotches, as if their own bodies were so many X-rated Mr. Potato Head dolls?   “Don’t be silly.  The oscillation in question is a purely interior one taking place entirely in the minds of these spiritual aristocrats.”  Now that strikes me as being a durned sight sillier than my X-rated Mr. Potato Head scenario, and for reasons that really should be trans—erm, pellucidly clear to you by now.  The idea of being a woman or man exclusively in one’s mind and in defiance of one’s primary sexual characteristics is a metaphysical oxymoron, given that, as I have already pointed out, there is no more immediate or foundational marker of one’s selfhood than one’s own body, an entity of which one’s sexual organs constitute an organic and temporally continuous part.  “Pointed out my organic and temporally continuous ass or arse!  All that you have actually done is point in to the spiritual-cum-erotic blank-walled unfurnished studio apartment that is your own mind.  Surely it would be evincing but the barest rudiments of decency not to assume that the minds of all other people are such empty, prosaic pseudo-places.   Can you not even be as charitable as the arch-skeptic David Hume, whom I know you admire even tho’ you disagree with him, and concede that “if any one, upon serious and unprejudiced reflection thinks he has a different notion of himself” than yours, you “can allow him [or her, or in the case of the trans, them; or gender-queer, himherhimher…∞] that he [or she, them, or himherhimher…∞] may be in the right as well as” you, and that you and he, she, them, or himherhimher…∞ “are essentially different in this particular”?  No, because Hume’s charitableness there (which, incidentally and between you and me, DGR, strikes me as about as sincere and unironical as his paeans elsewhere to divine revelation through Scripture) is founded on a sense of intersubjective incommensurability, on a sense that the most basic phenomena of his own subjectivity may be fundamentally different in kind from those of the subjectivities of others, whereas from all first-person testimonials of the trans and gender-queer I infer (and quite irrefutably, to the extent that natural language is an adequate referential medium and to the extent that these people are using it in good faith [both of which extents may indeed be limited, but to those selfsame extents the height of the horse astride which they mount their indignant self-defense {all puns intended} is diminished]) that the basic phenomena of their sense of being a certain gender in repudiation of their naturally assigned sexual organs are identical in kind to certain basic phenomena of my own subjectivity; or, to put it more bluntly, I infer that I know where they’re coming from (in two or more senses of fromcoming).  “So,” you breathlessly intone while speed-dialing your broad-minded neighborhood baker in preparation for placing an order for a cake the precise lettering of whose icing you surmise you will learn from me in the next few seconds, “you yourself are on the verge of coming out as a trans or (better yet) gender-queer person?”  Not exactly, because the phenomena in question—or at least the most frequently prevailing among such phenomena—do not hinge or center on the matter of sexual identity but rather that of historical emplacement.  “You mean the matter of where in the chronological stream of history you happen to find yourself?” Exactly.  “Why, I should think that no matter could be less difficult to ascertain: surely you are here in the year 2016 anno ex-domini and moving downstream of 2015 towards 2017 and there’s an end on’t.”  And such is my own precise and exact conclusion regarding the ultimate metaphysical orientation of my person.  But intervening between my present subjective state and that conclusion, and in a certain sense preempting that conclusion, is a well-nigh-uninterrupted sense that I do not belong at this point in the time-stream, and that, indeed, I belong at a substantially earlier point thereof, namely (as you will probably already have guessed from a certain earlier episode in the present essay) the middle-to-late eighteenth century anno domini (as it would have been known at the time to devout Christians and infidels alike).  Unlike most—or heretofore perhaps even all—professions of spiritual nativity in a bygone age, my Zeitverfremdung is not reducible to an intermittent infatuation with certain aesthetic or anthropological superficies of the period in question—e.g., in this case, Queen Anne’s or Federalist architecture, periwigs, hoop-skirted dresses and knee-breeches, hah-hahs, heroic couplets autc.  No: in my case this Zeitverfremdung takes, in the first if not necessarily most significant place, the highly visceral form of a corporeal-cum-psychic antipathy to the most commonplace accoutrements of everyday post-eighteenth century life.  This antipathy is not to be confused with merely finding stressful certain accoutrements of everyday twenty-first-century life, for antipathy on that spiritually plebian level is of course as rife as scurvy or the pox—or rather (excuse me, I forgot when I was for a second), herpes or the common cold (although a paralytically terrified fearer of airline and space flight [and of no other modes of transportation but these] may very well be within his, her, their, or himherhimher∞’s rights to style him, her, their, or himherhimher∞-self a spiritual Victorian), whereas many of the phenomena that I seem utterly unable to cope with date as far back as to the very early nineteenth century.  For example, not only do I find driving a profoundly bewildering and terrifying chore-cum-task (like the conjectural spiritual pre-gay-90s-ers, probably a geometrically smaller set than the spiritual Victorians) but even riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle (whether of the locomotive or automotive variety) is wont to throw me into a panic.  Already as a schoolboy regularly traveling on those notoriously lumbering yellow school buses, I had a sense—nay, a conviction—that the 30 or so miles-per-hour peak cruising speed of the vehicles was unnaturally fast, that something much closer to the ambling pace of a walk was called for in a vehicle.  This same feeling of unnaturalness has always pervaded my attitude to another invention of the nineteenth century, the elevator or lift.  If, I rejoin over my shoulder to every party of elevator-awaiters who greet my beeline for the staircase with murmurs of bewilderment, human beings had been meant to move from floor to floor in a building without the aid of their feet, the Good Lord would have affixed twin pulleys-cum-hooks to their shoulder blades or nipples.  Then there is the matter of my apparently singular lack of a compulsion to be constantly up-to-date on everything.  This is a compulsion whose moment of genesis the Whiggish would-be obliterators of historical memory who dominate our so-called media are forever moving inexorably forward—at present that date stands at a point sited somewhere between the advent of the so-called 24-hour news cycle (i.e., ca. 1990) and the efflorescence of so-called social media (i.e., ca. 2010).  But in point of fact it dates back at least as far as the invention of intercontinental electric telegraphy in about 1860 and probably even beyond that to the complete supersedence of the weekly by the daily newspaper in about 1800.  I suppose a demurer would argue that vis-à-vis this compulsion, as with most addictive or quasi-addictive pursuits, it is all a matter of degree (or, rather, in his, her, autc.’s Whiggishly churlish patois, it is all r******e), such that although one person’s complete up-to-dateness may very well be another person’s hopeless antediluvianness, everybody feels a compulsion to be up-to-date at a certain pace (or bit-rate [so, undoubtedly, the demurer]).  And I concede that the demurer may be right, but I have no way of finding out, as I have never been kept out of the way of a news- bulletin long enough to feel any withdrawal symptoms.  In any case, I pick up the news purely passively, when it is interspersed among bits of other sorts of media that I am interested in, and whenever—as over virtually every weekend, including the one during which I am typing the present sentence—I am not seeking out those sorts, I acquire no news, a void which I admit can occasion much bewilderment and annoyance to my Sunday-evening telephone interlocutors asking me for my tuppence’s—excuse me, two cents’ worth (forgot when I was again) on the shooting, the bombing, the rioting, or the flooding (though rarely the election, as of course elections tend to be held on weekdays), but I am after all not living principally in order to please these interlocutors.  “It is hardly exclusively a matter of pleasing other people.  Each and every hour there are thousands of events in the news that bid fair to i*p*ct you personally.”  Yes, perhaps, after the manner and to the extent of the flapping of the proverbial butterfly wings on the other side of the world.  Not that I am at all quiescent about even the immediately prospective course of the world or its possible effect on me, but merely that I do not think being au courant with news events will spare me a jot of the ill fortune that may be in store for me.  The Apocalypse may come tomorrow, or even this afternoon, but if it does, I daresay I shan’t be any better prepared for it for having rigged myself up with a continuous intravenous T****r feed incorporating the latest reports from every news agency and Johnny-on-the-spot blogger in the world, for the efficient reason that not one of these sources (barring perhaps the spouse, doxie, or paramour of some submarine pilot or silo commander, whose lone voice will almost certainly not rise to the surface before the catalyzing missile touches down thereon) will have learnt of it soon enough to brief me on it.  And as for events less dramatic than the Apocalypse that are beyond the offing afforded by my sixth floor-apartment window, why, they officially fall under the heading of that class of events known as publick affairs, which in Dr. Johnson’s words can “vex no man” (wo, trans, gender-queer, or otherwise), i.e., cause him, her, them, or himherhimher∞ to “sleep less or eat an ounce less meat” than he, she, they or hesheheshe…∞ would have done otherwise.  At least so I presume, but my presumption does admittedly issue from within the precincts of an unregenerately eighteenth-century Weltanschauung or Weltansicht.  And it is this Welatanschauung or Weltansicht that to my mind principally sets me apart as a would-be-cum-should be child, or, rather, adult of the eighteenth century—principally and even more definitively than the manifestations of visceral antipathy, for whereas, as we have seen, those manifestations are sometimes difficult to situate with historical precision, the elements of the Welatanschauung or Weltansicht are unmistakably characteristically eighteenth-century in flavor, contour, and stamp.  So, for example, whenever somebody launches into some tirade for or against the institution or abolition of this or that law or institution [sorry about the chiastic echolalia, but barring the introjection of some unsightly beastie of a Saxon neologism it really is unavoidable] on the grounds that it would be more or less democratic, I really am compelled to shake my head less in disgust than in bemusement, as the very notion that democracy is an inherently good thing—or, to put it less contentiously and yet more trenchantly, that my contemporaries, fellow-countrymen, and I live under the auspices of a political philosophy called democracy or even more absurdly within some sort of sub-geopolitical controlled environment known as a democracy—strikes me as positively insane; for after all, not even the most radical, the most flamboyantly crowd-baiting, eighteenth-century Whigs on either side of the Atlantic (barring unlettered pamphleteering hacks like the ludicrously overrated Thomas Paine) styled themselves democrats, meaning then as now proponents of the belief that each and every schlub and sub-schlub should have a say in how he, she, they, or himherhimher∞ is governed.  The same DOES-NOT-COMPUTE!-like reaction is catalyzed chez moi by any relation of present-day human life to most natural-scientific phenomena and to virtually any natural-scientific phenomenon not both demonstrably true (in this possible world, at least) and intelligible by the end of the eighteenth century.  I cannot tell you how bored I have been by the seemingly (and probably actually) interminable recently inaugurated succession of swingings and crash-landings of robot spacecraft by and into various bits and hunks of rock and gas in our solar system; or, rather, how bored I have been by the consequent torrent of ecstatic media-hyperbole about how this or that bit or hunk of rock or gas might have harbored or cherished water or life (don’t talk to me about life!) or round-the-week liquor licensing or what have you eighteen thousand trillion eons ago.  “The truth is that the knowledge of external nature, and the sciences which that knowledge requires or includes, are not the great or the frequent business of the human mind,” wrote Dr. Johnson in his life of Milton in about 1780, and as far as I am concerned this dictum holds as true now as it did then, however many umpteen-quadrillion bits of rock and hunks of gas may have been discovered since.  Correlatively or at least collaterally, the entire 160-year-old debate about the origins of humankind precipitated by Chuck Darwin (incidentally the most simian-seeming human whose likeness I have ever beheld) seems to me, by the report of more than one sense, like so many landfill acres of used bum-fodder; for I remember and have long since taken to heart Dr. Johnson’s animadversions on a certain hypothesis tendered by one James Burnett, better known as Lord Monboddo, a man now hailed by the Whiggish natural-scientific-historiographic cognoscenti as a kind of Moses to Darwin’s Jesus.  “But what about Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus?”  Why, Sir, Madam, Sir-Madam, or Sirmadamsirmadamsirmadam∞, merely in mentioning Erasmus Darwin in the same breath as Lord Monboddo qua conjectural godfathers of the theory of evolution, you have already outed yourself as a non-member of the Whiggish natural-scientific-historiographic cognoscenti.  But that, as far as I am concerned, redounds entirely to your credit, for to figure among those unholy virtuosi is tantamount to being a member of the inner circle of the Politburo of that arch-Whig, the Devil.  But getting back to Lord Monboddo’s hypothesis and Johnson’s animadversions thereon: LM hypothecated that man (the precise sexually politically correct alternative noun really does elude me here [for I am properly wedded {and not merely joined by some half-assed cockamamey civil partnership} to the singular number and the absence of an article) was descended from a quasi-quadrupedal creature with a tail—i.e., some animal resembling certain monkeys and apes—and Johnson animadverted, “Sir, it is all conjecture about a thing useless, even were it known to be true.  Knowledge of all kinds is good.  Conjecture, as to things useful, is good; but conjecture as to what it would be useless to know, such as whether men went upon all four, is very idle” (Life; Aetat. 64; Monday, 10 May 1773).  Although they are at present being enlisted merely and entirely in order to prove a point about the present writer’s subjective constitution, I cannot resist noting that the most striking and ultimately most important feature of these sentences is their uncannily Kripke-esque framing and upshot, their ruthless positing of the verdict on the phenomenon under consideration as one that would hold true in every possible world.  Whether it is true or not that man (or men) once went upon all four, effectively says Johnson, in every possible world it will always be useless to know that man (or men) once went upon all four.  But ultimately the Kripkean framing-cum-upshot and the point about my subjective constitution converge: to start with, I am convinced of the metaphysical capaciousness of Kripke’s theory of names; Dr. Johnson, by as it were filtering this theory through the sensibility of William James and applying it to the usefulness of true propositions, concludes that conjecturing about utterly useless if potentially true propositions is “very idle” (i.e., utterly useless in its own right), and in consequence I become even more indurate, more calcified, in my Johnsonian outlook.  And one must note further that the truth or falsehood of the theory of evolution impinges not a jot on the validity of Johnson’s judgment on the usefulness of its discoveries.  “Knowledge of all kinds is good,” he says.  So our present knowledge (if it is knowledge) that man once had a tail or went upon all four (or, in current lay parlance, that man is descended from a creature that had a tail and went upon all four [here, incidentally, Kripke’s theory of names may have some applicability in requiring us to ascertain the extent to which certain prehistoric creatures may be retrospectively baptized Man]) is good, but what is good is not necessarily useful.  Our knowledge that man once had a tail and went upon all four is useless simply because man does not have a tail or go upon all four now.  It is nice to know that our biological forebears had prehensile tails that allowed them to swing upside-down from trees, but we can derive no use from this knowledge, inasmuch as in our own arboreopendulous exercises we are physically constrained to swing right-side-up from our hands (or at our most acrobatically venturesome, upside-down from the crooks of our legs).  It is also nice to know that our biological forebears went upon all four, but any sustained attempt to follow their example outside the quadruped-friendly environs of the baby’s nursery will inevitably and very quickly reduce our hands to a pair of gangrenous superfluities.  Of course, nowadays we don’t find anybody—at least not anybody of any officially accredited repute—recommending that we regrow our tails or recommence walking on all four(s), but a goodly proportion of the talk of many an accredited mouthpiece of respectable science consists of applications of evolutionary biology to the present system of human life that are at bottom every bit as egregiously irrelevant as Monboddo’s caudalism and quadropedia.  My pet bugbear among such misapplications is the reduction of human language to a mere long-distance version of the grooming rituals of lower primates.  When “we” still went on all four, so the argument goes, “we” were at leisure at all stationary moments to employ our hands, such as they then were, along with our mouths, in physically pleasuring “our” social superiors; but once “we” started walking on just half four (or both two), “we” found “our” hands preoccupied by fetching, carrying, tool-making, etc. most of the time, and our mouths too far from the persons of our betters to make corporeal contact therewith, so “we” had to do our sucking up by other means—whence the invention of language; and further whence, a couple of million years later, the evolutionary biologists’ contention that the most elaborate and intricate linguistic construction (yes, yes, yes, a Shakespeare sonnet, the current U.S. federal tax code, autc.) is reducible to a declaration to the effect of I’d be licking your worship’s armpit as greedily as if it were an iced laudanum lolly and palpating your worship’s anus as tenderly as if it were a miniaturised miniature poodle at this very instant, guv’ner, only unfortunately at that selfsame vee-eye me mitts is fully encumbered with yak-shit to be used as mortar in the construction of your worship’s new palatial mud hut.”  Fatally and egregiously neglected by this contention is the eye-burstingly obviously demonstrable inference that however large a proportion of linguistic discourse may be devoted to propitiating one’s supposed or actual betters, in the absence of the remainder of that discourse, however scant it may be, nothing that we take for granted as part of our post-simian modus vivendi (e.g., freestanding palatial mud huts) ever would have come into existence.  (Such a contention is really all of a piece with that of the champions of so-called body-language that 80 or 90 or whatever it may be percent of communication is nonverbal.  True enough, conceivably, but in that case it is only the remaining ten or 20 or whatever other percent that allows us to narrow the substance of a communication down from a psychological state to a report on a specific referentially out-seekable state of affairs.  Consider Brutus’s wife Portia in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar during the period of the planning of the assassination of Caesar: from her husband’s sullenness, taciturnity, “stamping with his foot” and so on she correctly gathers that something is troubling him, but this is as far as her super-astute interpretation of “body language” gets her, and so she is compelled to ask Brutus to take her into his confidence verbally.)  “It’s beginning to sound to me as though you feel less like the average eighteenth-century man than like the reincarnation of a specific eighteenth-century man, Samuel Johnson.  For after all, Lord Monboddo was an eighteenth-century man as well, and though his views on the descent of man specifically may have been eccentric for his time, in their hearkening back to a primitive state of nature they were very much in tune with those of plenty of his contemporaries—most notably among them Jean-Jacques Rousseau.”  That’s not quite an accurate surmise vis-à-vis the subjective lie of the land chez moi, for there are times when I feel quite like the reincarnation of an eighteenth-century person other than Samuel Johnson.  Whenever I find myself thinking that I am taking this whole pack of metaphysical questions too seriously, I simultaneously find myself morphing into David Hume and involuntarily calling for a backgammon set even tho’—unlike good David—I lack a set of friends to join me in a game; the neo-Rousseauean twaddle of the evolutionary biologists sometimes impels me to assume a Voltairean smirk and rejoin with more panache if less philosophical incisiveness than Dr. Johnson on Lord Monboddo, “One longs, in hearing your radio segment, to walk on all fours.  But as I have lost that habit for more than forty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of resuming it”; and oftentimes when I am scandalized by the brazenly wanton sensual licentiousness of my immediate neighbors I cannot help feeling like the reincarnation of James Boswell’s long-sufferingly faithful wife Margaret, incessantly obliged though not compelled to weather her husband’s interminable post-debauchial ranting and spewing.  In any case, if this subjective Landschaft of mine is turning out to look less like the manuscript of The Life and Opinions of Douglas Robertson, (Eighteenth-Century) Gentleman than like a draft screenplay of The Life of Samuel Johnson Mark II or The Four (Give or Take Five) Faces of Doug, the results of the new survey do not vitiate in the slightest my initial assertion to the effect that I can not only sympathize but empathize with those who feel saddled with the wrong assemblage of sex organs-cum-perisexual characteristics.  Suppose the first of these scenarios to the right of the “than” most (or more) precisely and nearly accurately designate the Landschaft in view; why, then, with as much (albeit also as little) legitimacy as a so-called transgender person born a man named William dons a dress and demands to be addressed as Wilhelmina, I may don a brown lapel-less coat, brown knee-breeches, black stockings, and brown scratch-wig and demand to be addressed as Samuel Johnson.  Suppose the second to be most (or more) precise and nearly accurate: why, then, mutatis mutandis, à la one of our present-day so-called non-binaries or (so-called) gender-queers, I may demand to be addressed as Sam, Dave, François-Marie (tho’ I might opt for some plausibly contemporary Anglo-Saxon alternative like Frankie-Mare), or Margaret (or Meg or Peg or Peggy) depending on whichever of my eighteenth-century antecedents I most feel like at a given moment, and be forgiven for flouncing out of the room in a right huff if my interlocutor has the confounded impertinence to address me as, say, Sam, when I am feeling like, say, Margaret.  The first of these scenarios even bears the tentative imprimatur of one of the doyens or grand old men or whilom golden boys of Anglo-American or analytic philosophy, the notoriously randy A. J. “Freddie” Ayer, who very near the very end of his very (for-his-time [i.e., the very early-to-mid-to-very late-twentieth century]) long life mooted the idea of accepting reincarnation as a kind of administrative procedure.  Specifically he thought that a newborn person might be assigned the name of a certain dead person whose experiences he or she (the living person) would swot up on and subsequently attest to and vouch for, such that supposing, for example, our friend Bob Fockcuck the Peorian or Quad-Citian quantity surveyor kicked the bouquet at 12:57 p.m. on January 21, 1987; why, then, a certain person born at 12:58 p.m. on that selfsame day might very well have been christened Bob Fockcuck and subsequently, as a child, been tutored in the notable events of the deceased Bob Fockcuck’s life and convinced to accept them as the events of his own life; such that had he subsequently pursued a career not as a Peorian or Quad Citiean quantity surveyor but as, say, a Poughkeepsiean bum bailiff, he, the 1987-born-and-christened Bob Fockcuck, might at this very moment, and in all good faith-cum-candor, be regaling his fellow-members of the Poughkeepsie chapter of the International Fraternal Organization of Bum Bailiffs (IFoBB) with tear-jerkingly or side-splittingly verisimilitudinous anecdotes about “my wild days as a quantity surveyor in Peoria [or Bettendorf, autc.] in the late-1950s-through-mid-1980s.”  The whole schema is undoubtedly quite charming, plausible, and even compelling from a purely administrative point of view, but quite apart from the hardly redeeming near-fact that it seems to have been pinched LS&B from the conceivably (though probably not probably) underrated 1976 futuristic dystopian sci-fi flick Logan’s Run (which Freddie, in having lived until 1990, would have had scads of opportunities to view, both at the cinema and on home video), it also lamentably (but also unsurprisingly, given that Freddie was and in a certain [albeit fundamentally ontologically trivial] sense still is the Grand Poobah of old-school-tie sporting analytic philosophers) takes for granted and indeed is founded on the old-school analytic-stroke-pub-quizzial theory of names whose grave (and would-be-grave-defying) shortcomings we (not the royal “we,” but “we” as placeholder for you and I, DGR) have already discovered.  For for (sic on the repetition of for) this Ayerian notion of reincarnation the ontologically clinching thing about a person, the thing that fundamentally matters most about him, her, autc., is the succession or collection of things that he or she happens to have done or that have happened to happen to him or her during the life that he or she has happened to live in this world out of all possible worlds.  Under the auspices of such a meta-ontological view it is a morceau del gato to transpose the entityhood of a person from one biological creature to another because that entityhood is supposed to consist of nothing but a succession or collection of deeds or events of finite extent or capacity, a succession or collection that is at least in principle accessible to everybody and appropriable by anybody—although of course in practice the amount of such material made available to anybody varies dramatically from historical age to historical age and person to person; and of course, this variation in availability of archival material is reflected in the reincarnative claims submitted from out of the gorge of the vulgar mobility, lay Ayerians to a man, woman, &c: it is a disparaging truism about such claims that while everybody and his or her grandmother (or –father, autc.) fancies herself or himself the reincarnation of Elizabeth I or Napoleon, nobody ever fancies herself or himself the reincarnation of a chambermaid or footman in Elizabeth’s or Napoleon’s palace, the guiding assumption of the truism being that nobody would ever be so un-vain as to want to have been a menial servant rather than a queen or emperor, but perhaps the undoubted superiority in popularity of the royal or imperial option to the menial one is owing less to vanity than to the abundance of things one can plausibly imagine doing as Elizabeth or Napoleon, owing to the abundance of things each of them is reported to have done; as against the dearth of reports on the actions of Bob or Susanne the footman or chambermaid (at least qua spatio-temporally pinpointable named entities, for the archives presumably contain an abundance of anecdotage on the behavior of Elizabethan and Empire-period menial servants as a class of entities).  As Sir Thomas Browne says, “Who cares to subsist like Hippocrates’s patients [many of whose names survive], or Achilles’s [likewise named] horses in Homer, under naked nominations, without deserts and noble acts […]?”  In any case, from an ontologically strict point of view, these would-be and self-professed reincarnations are all most certainly wasting their time and barking up the wrong tree (not that I at least as yet wish to assume that there is a right one): however fervently Bob Fockcuck the 1987-born Poughkeepsiean bum- bailiff believes that he is the reincarnation of Bob Fockcuck the 1987-deceased quantity surveyor, he will never be a reincarnation of that Bob Fockcuck—not any more than Christopher Smart the Floridian attorney (a real person) will ever be the reincarnation of Christopher Smart the mad eighteenth-century poet (another real person)–inasmuch as the absolutely infungible and inalienable starting-point of his existence is his birth-cum-christening in 1987, not the other birth-cum-christening of the other Bob Fockcuck in 1915 or whenever else.  And however blasphemous it may be in me to opine as much, it seems to me on the most impeccable philosophical grounds that those persons among us who presume to style themselves members or possessors of a sex(uality) other than that by which they were christened immediately after their extraction from the womb are barking up, if not the same wrong tree, then at any rate a tree that is just as wrong, in that the sexual organs with which they were born are as inalienable a part of their original existence as the name by which they were christened (or baptized, Islamized, etc.).  To insist on this inalienability is by no means to demand that all biologically male or biologically female persons should be happy with the sex organs with which they were born, but merely to demand that they should stop trying to square their desires with their ontological essence, inasmuch as one’s private subjective states have no bearing whatsoever on this essence.  I think that I am preeminently if not uniquely qualified to tender this demand on much the same sort of grounds as those on which Samuel Johnson thought himself especially well-entitled to champion reverence for old aristocratic families—namely, that as he was a person of no familial distinction whatsoever, a person who “scarcely knew the name of his grandfather,” his advocacy could be counted on to be entirely disinterested.  Certainly there cannot be many men who have less to gain from the triumph of sexual essentialism than I do.  If ever a contest is held to identify the world’s biggest sissy I will certainly make it past the heats and may even number among the full finalists.  At any rate, I have yet to hear tell, let alone make the acquaintance, of any person of either (or, if you insist [and I’m sure you will do], any) sex who is more effeminate than I am.  I spectate on sporting events of every kind and at every level with a degree of boredom and perplexity that would wring tears of pity from the eyes of the most woebegone football or golf widow.  The sight of a bee, wasp, or any other fleet-winged stinging creature is enough to make me drop whatever I am saying or doing and vacate the ZIP-code without uttering the briefest of excuses or warnings to my fellow prospective stingees beforehand.  There is no so-called DIY or handyman’s task too slight, too unexacting of effort or unthreatening to personal safety, to forestall my shrugging it off on to the next man’s or woman’s (or indeed child’s) well-nigh axiomatically more manly shoulders; if, for example, a light-bulb in my apartment that is out of reach from floor level has burnt out, I have absolutely no shame or compunction about having it changed by a maintenance worker.  I cannot for the personhood of me get my head around the whole proverbial masculine reluctance to ask for directions: the very instant a map of a place in which I am a stranger ceases to be transparently intelligible to me I buttonhole a presumptive local and forthrightly demand that he or she point me towards the Fillmore Monument, Don’t Tread on Me Snake House, autc.  Perhaps most tellingly of all, I am beset by a fascination with couture, with styles and of modes of clothing—both men’s and women’s—whose well-nigh monopolistic share of my mental energies would be capable of appalling (or sending to sleep) the most nearly insatiable high heel shoe-and-cocktail gown gourmandizing drag queen if it were ever given the minutest fraction of its verbal due.  All told, my maleness has always been a burden and a curse to me, and any person of my proclivities, phobias, and aversions is certainly much better off as a woman than as a man—although to be sure (or at least sureish) the quantum of indulgence the world is willing to bestow on such traditionally feminine traits is constantly shrinking as the proportion of female to male fire-fighters, lumberjacks, fire-eaters, and, yes, bum-bailiffs continues to rise.  And yet I cannot become a woman because I was baptized as a male infant on account of my possession of (or partial constitution by) the principal male sex organs and my non-possession (and non-constitution by) the principal female ones.  I have no especially ardent affection for my penis and testicles, and I am most certainly not proud of them after the manner of some chest-thumping male chauvinist caveman, but as I cannot remember ever not having (or being had by) them and indeed know that I have always had them, I cannot avoid feeling (ahem) attached to them, accustomed to them in a semi-grudging Henry Higginsish sort of way.  And to be frank, I have a great deal of trouble imagining that anyone could have a sincere and abiding aversion to any part of his or her (or indeed, his and her in the case of biological hermaphrodites) anatomy to which he aut al. had become accustomed in such a fashion.  To be sure (and persistently frank) I have little troubling imagining that anyone could have a sincere and abiding conviction that he or she was of a sex at odds with the sex signified by his or her anatomy, but I suspect that like my self-identification with Samuel Johnson, every such conviction is an epiphenomenon of verbal mimesis—or, to be more precise, of metonymy via verbal mimesis: one gets used to hearing a certain voice, the voice of a certain person; one begins to hear that voice inside one’s head (to the extent that one ever hears an aural memory or remembers it inside one’s head), and eventually one finds oneself imitating that voice—adopting its characteristic cadences, turns of phrase, and even to the extent one can, its pitch and timbre.  The mimesis may persist even if the identity of the person to whom the voice belongs is forgotten, or if the voices of several or many persons merge into a single master (or mistress) voice—but even in such a case the precipitating voice retains certain instantly specifiable attributes, perhaps preeminently among them those of age and sex.  At every moment one always imagines oneself thinking in the voice of a more or less young man or a more or less young woman.  And when one factors in, as they say, the contributions made by varying degrees of presence of mind, which is to say the contributions the faculties of memory and attention make in degrees of intensity that vary from person to person and time to time “within” a person, why, then, it becomes very easy to perceive how a person may be convinced that he or she is a man or a woman in defiance of his or her anatomy for more or less continuous stretches of time or, as in the case of the gender-queer, as a man and a woman in alternation and in alternating defiance of and conformity with that anatomy.  The gender-queer evince greater presence of mind than the merely transgender, but they evince less presence of mind than people who are sufficiently aware of the multiplicity of the mimed voices inside themselves and the heterogeneity of these voices’ sources not to identify any of these voices as preeminently gendered in essence or to identify with any of them as manifestations of such an essence.  “And I take it that you consider yourself one of these third, sufficiently present-minded people.”  I would like to think I am.  “Such that from, say, minute to minute, you perceive—or would like to think you perceive—yourself shifting not merely from being a man to a woman and vice-versa, but from being, say, a tall, curly -haired, querulous Girondist female &c. teenager to a short, salt-and-pepper-haired Jacobin old &c. man, and thence to a flat-footed, middle-aged Unitarian &c. woman, and so on?”  Indeed.  “Very well, but it seems to me that in that case your ridicule of the transgendered and gender-queer qua round-the-clock party-poopers is misplaced, for a person who insists on having, say, a dozen out of thousands of ever-shifting personal traits identified by each and every other fellow-person cannot but be infinitely more irritatingly importunate than a person who insists on the identification of only one out of two such traits thereby.”  Indeed such a person cannot but be infinitely more irritating, but I am no such person.  At my most bumptious and presumptuous I will be found tendering a negative plea on behalf of one of my inner voices, a plea to be absented from enthusiastic assent to some policy at odds with its inclinations.  So on behalf of my inner eighteenth-century Tory I may occasionally—and only occasionally—ask to be exempted from taking sides in a debate on whether such-and-such a proposed law infringes on Americans’ right to freedom of expression.  So on behalf of my inner early-twentieth century woman I may ask to be exempted from joining my employer’s pan-gender intramural rugby league team.  So on behalf of my inner late twentieth-century teenager I may ask to be forgiven for allowing a brief spasm of astonishment-cum-resentment to contract my face upon my being referred to by some present-day younker as a member of one of the older generations.  But as for my exacting any positive accommodation of these inner voices from the world, that is absolutely out of the question, inasmuch as the world can perforce have nothing to do with any part of me but my outer part, the part bequeathed to me as my Kripkean essence, a part consisting perhaps almost exhaustively of a male person effectively (under the auspices of the State of Florida albeit not ecclesiastically under the auspices of any church) baptized Douglas Edward Robertson in Tampa, Florida on April 28, 1972.  There is, in short and indeed, from a strict metaphysical point of view something cruelly and implacably administrative in its very essence about my existence.  And such being the case, inasmuch as my existence is not of a manifestly different essence than that of my fellow persons, I cannot see why any of these fellow persons’ existences should be so much as a jot or microjoule less cruel or implacably administrative in its very essence than my own—why, for example, a female person baptized (whether effectively or ecclesiastically) Wilhelmina Fockcuck in Poughkeepsie, New York on March 24, 1952 should be humored in her contention that she is actually only 29 years old or that her real name is Melenusia and that she is a lady-in-waiting to queen Cartimandua in first-century Britain; or why, for another (and patently [albeit contingently] more politically contentious) example, a male person baptized Brian Fockcuck in Moline, Illinois on May 17, 1989 should be humored in his contention that he is actually a woman named Brianna.  Of course I have no doubt that the reader will demur that history is profusely littered with examples of social deference to practices and behaviors arising from metaphysically untenable contentions and that indeed the present is almost as profusely littered with the materially substantial legacies of such examples—e.g., the present U.S. Federal tax code’s undiscriminating exemption of religious organizations from taxation.  “When you cut to the chase, come right down to it, autc.,” my DGR will presumably demur, “from a strictly metaphysical point of view these organizations are merely groups of people in more or less silly clothes who periodically gather to utter certain words and engage in certain bodily movements.  Why should such organizations, whose activities do after all exert considerable wear and tear on our national infrastructure, be exempted from contributing to the upkeep of that infrastructure?  Why indeed if not for the eminently excusable and ultimately laudable facts that their combined membership is staggeringly numerous and that their activities exact no skin whatsoever from the noses of those who do not engage in them?”  Firstly because however silly and pointless their present constitutions and raisons d’être may now be, most of these organizations have at various historical moments occasioned much compelling metaphysical speculation from serious philosophers—e.g., M. Maimonides, T. Aquinas, and that famous medieval Arab dude whose name escapes me; and secondly, because their tenets and doctrines, while eminently challengeable from a strictly philosophical point of view, do not add quotidian, concrete injury to abstract, temporally transcendent insult by flying in the face of what until very recently had passed for common sense across the millennia and the globe.  For millennia people all over the world imaginatively placed themselves in the situations of other people they knew themselves absolutely incapable of actually becoming; now, at least for the metaphysically unenlightened, this is no longer possible, because the new common sense dictates that imagination is the dictator of essence.  Just yesterday I was reading Samuel Johnson’s Rambler No. 75, the one in the form of a letter from Melissa, an intelligent and beautiful young woman who thanks to a drastic reduction in her income has suddenly gone from being the toast of the town to being the recipient of endless snubs and condescending commiseration.  Although the style of the piece is instantly recognizable as that of Johnson (not that in itself this should be accounted a strike against its verisimilitude [for there is certainly no rational reason for supposing that the style we now term Johnsonian could not have been independently developed by a woman {our age’s reduction of personal psychology to style and style to a congeries of tics is a topic for a separate essay}]), Melissa’s plight is quite convincingly depicted from within, as the plight of the author of the letter, a single young eighteenth-century woman of wit and fashion.  And The Rambler pullulates with such compelling feminine self-portraits—while I have not (yet) counted them, I think it quite likely that a majority of the persona-signed numbers in the series were purportedly penned by women rather than by men.  Johnson’s contemporaries took such literary impersonation in their stride and did not attribute his mastery of it to any lingering or deep-seated personal essence; they most certainly did not expect him to turn up for dinner at the Burneys’ or at a meeting of the Club in a dress, or to adopt any mincing feminine airs at the table: he had said his piece repeatedly and convincingly in the character of a woman and there was an end on’t.  But I fear that now to the very probably super-paltry extent that the Rambler’s feminine self-portraits enjoy any kind of fan-base, they enjoy it merely as the presumptive desperate cris de coeur of a presumptive closet transsexual.  Either—so received opinion seems to dictate—Johnson was perfectly happy being a man, in which case his feminine self-portraits shed not a scintilla of light on the situation of women in eighteenth-century Britain, or he would have done everything in his (or, rather her, or, rather, her physician’s) power to become a woman, in which case the Rambler’s feminine self-portraits deserve to stand cheek by jowl (or, rather, I suppose, left breast by right breast) with the letters of Mary Wortley Montague and the diaries of Frances d’Arblay (nee Burney) as infallible seismographs or electrocardiographs or what have you of eighteenth-century women’s experience.  At bottom—and I really do mean bottom qua organ-cluster common to human beings of both, all, or would-be sexes—though, what really drives me qua hardcore card-carrying Kripkean up my goat about the various trans-gender orientated aptly (at least in a meta-fundamental sense)-termed movements is their fetishization of the genitals themselves, whether they are to be extirpated or molded into pseudo-existence, and even more broadly on the whole ludicrous business of sexual congress, given that apart from its ludicrousness it is an activity that none of us, no matter how happy or miserable we are with our natally assigned organs of generation, can reasonably expect to engage in beyond a tiny fraction—the very earliest fraction—of our existences.  “Why sir, madam, miss, ms or sirmadammissmssirmadammissms…∞ (for inasmuch as you have effectively already outed yourself as gender-queer, I insist on bestowing the full complement of salutation to which you are entitled, even though you are so fiendishly froward as to waive that entitlement),” you bluster and parenthesize, “this is nothing but the most arrantly unregenerate ageism.  A tiny fraction—the very earliest fraction of our existences indeed!  Hath it not long since been conclusively shewn that the elderly can enjoy rich, productive, fulfilling, nay, positively (and most importantly) photogenic, sex lives?”  Why, I suppose it hath, up to a point, a point that, while I certainly have no desire to acuminate it, I would also not be so presumptuous as to attempt to obtuminate to a mere nub.  I would be the very last to deny that even as I type these characters, dozens if not hundreds of not only sexagenarians but also septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians, and (hell, why not?) centenarians are engaging in either coition itself or some other act involving the tactile excitation of the genitals of one or more party; and I certainly would not be the very first (though I might very well be the very second) to deny that given the right lighting, camera angles, etc., a station or motion-picture record of some more than insignificant minority of these acts of genital excitation would be capable of imparting some clinically measurable measure of autonomic nervous excitation to the genitals of a spectator thereupon; but even after having avowed these denials (a.k.a. disavowals), I cannot in good faith retract my assertion about the very earliest fraction of our existences, inasmuch as even the oldest (and conceivably most sexually vigorous) person now living on earth, that hyper-wizened Siberian peasant woman or hyper-wizened Javanese peasant man or hyper-wizened Vanuatuan peasant gender-queer individual who conceivably could have gone to kindergarten with Jacques Barzun or Lionel Trilling, or perhaps even Aaron Copland or Ernest Hemingway, is at his autc. most senior but a babe in arms rounding out the smallest sub-fraction of that very earliest fraction; for, you see, in the eyes (and every other conceivably pertinent organ) of a hardcore card-carrying Kripkean, death marks but the end of the first phase of existence, and what with necrophilia being (as far as one knows!) an extremely uncommon predilection among the ambulant and sexually functional living, one cannot very well expect to get much in the way of what is vulgarly known as action in any of the subsequent phases.  “Why, sir (and only sir, for I cannot conceive of a representative of any of the gentler genders succumbing to such loathsome ideation), you disgust me!”  I’m sure that I do indeed disgust you, and understandably so, for what happens to us after we die is indeed a disgusting business (tho’ scarcely more disgusting than what happens to us during even the most appetizing moments of our prehumous existence).  But as a hardcore card-carrying Kripkean I simply cannot allow myself to gloss over the to my mind ineluctable metaphysical facts that this disgusting business happens to us ourselves and not (as exponents of all the various fashionable post-ist notions of subjectivity cannot avoid maintaining with all the arthritically flagrant unhipness of an orthodox Roman Catholic Cartesian dualist, for all their sybaritic preoccupation with bodily pleasures) to some utterly contingent metonym of ourselves of no more—or, rather, much less—interest to our present selves than our most knockabout and disposable pair of trousers or shoes (note, incidentally. the unmistakable girlishness of my instant recourse to a sartorial image).  To be sure, it is not purely in my capacity as a Kripkean that I harbor such a keen and abiding (some—actually probably all—would say morbid) interest in the posthumous fate of the body: a substantial portion of this interest arises from my panpsychic leanings, which I have amply adumbrated in the essay “Gluttony  and Panpsychism” and which axiomatically entail my maintenance of a highly skeptical attitude to the notion that a body ceases to be capable of sensation (that’s sensation qua quasi-or-peri-subjective and not media event, for the Weekend at Bernie’s movies have long since eloquently demonstrated the power of corpses to cause sensations of the second kind) the moment it ceases to be the body of a living organism.  (Here, incidentally, I seem for once to be at odds with Samuel Johnson, who in one of his periodical essays [I cannot even specify whether it is in the Rambler, Idler, or Adventurer] ascribes the entertaining of a belief in posthumous sensation to a person clearly framed as an object of ridicule. But SJ was positioned at an historical moment at which for various reasons, some of them conceivably recuperable, and others not [again, a topic for a separate essay], dualism was a more philosophically compelling notion than it is now.)  Admittedly, a panpsychist qua panpsychist owes no especial all-overriding allegiance to his body (or indeed any body), entertaining, as he or she (because  gender-specification no longer has any bearing on my argument, I shall revert to the old-school [!] sexually disjunctive pronoun) heartily does, the possibility that consciousness resides in chunks of matter of every which size and configuration, such that for all I entertain qua panpsychist, the smallest and tiniest remnant of my posthumous spleen or posthumous scrotum may on its virtually or even actually microscopic lonesome end up enjoying as rich and many-splendored a conscious existence as my posthumous body taken as a comparatively mighty integral unit.  And such being the case, qua panpsychist qua panpsychist, I should welcome the dissolution of my body with as much élan as the most unregenerate white bed sheet—i.e., qua utterly fungible quasi-corporeal integument of a generic ghost)—craving dualist would welcome the dissolution of his or hers.   On the other hand, qua panpsychist with a memory, and not merely a mental memory, but a phenomenal memory—by which I mean not a necessarily really excellent memory but a memory comprising not only things that I have (to the best of my recollection) thought but also things that I have smelt, seen, &c. [I decline to append the obligatory three remaining sense-verbs merely because I know that the resulting catalogue would not be exhaustive; inasmuch as, for instance, hunger and thirst are said to be senses but have no transitive verbs associated with them {altho’ yet again I fail to conceive how one’s hunger for a cheeseburger or thirst for a Buck’s Fizz could not be as distinct, infungible, and memorable as one’s seeing of a bollard or hearing of a didgeridoo}]—I cannot help regarding this body of mine, or, rather, this body that is me, as a perduring and phenomenally all-overriding integral unit; I cannot, for example, help regarding my present left hand as the same left hand that swelled to the point of being unclosable upon being bitten by a so (if only in my immediate family)-called yellow fly in July of 1985, or my present right little finger as the same little finger on which I had to receive a half-dozen or so stitches after cutting it while washing up (or doing the dishes) to a soundtrack of Shostakovich’s piano quintet (the Borodins with the composer on the piano, I believe) in July of 1989, and such being the case, I cannot but wish to see both appendages preserved in one piece and attached to the rest of me for as long as possible and if possible for all eternity.  Of course, the very notion of a single perduring and infungible human body is as they say fraught with metaphysical difficulties, difficulties by which one may readily be nettled even if one is not a prey to the beardy ivory-tower meta-metaphysical pernicketiness of a Saul Kripke.  Even as early as Paleolithic times, the caveperson, noting the great heaps of hair, skin, feces, etc. (s)he shed every day, along with the seasonal changes in the girth of his or her own belly, and contrasting this dynamic corporeal heteronomy with the apparently inalterable solidity and self-sufficiency of the boulder (s)he would collapse onto to take in some cave paintings at the end of a long day of Mastadon-hunting (or seed-of-now-extinct-species-of-plant-gathering [Why are there no humorous stereotypical extinct plants to be paired with the scads of humorous extinct animals?]), may very well have wondered, How me same always when me not always solid-cum-self-sufficient like boulder?  And I have read somewhere that the ancient Romans believed that thanks to the processes of digestion and excretion the body was reconstituted in its entirety several times in the course of a lifetime, that, indeed, they had a kind of schedule for this repeating reconstitution, such that at the age of, say, 47, one of them might be heard to say, Here I am, coming to the end of my fifth body and about to start on my sixth one, and it seems like just yesterday that I was coming to the end of my first and starting on my second.  Sic transit Gloria Monday.  And I have read somewhere else (probably Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy) that one of the Church Fathers—St. Jerome, I think—was seriously troubled by what Newton would later term the conservation of matter in connection with the resurrection of the dead promised by holy scripture; that specifically he wondered how the bodies of both a cannibal and his victim could be resurrected given that the body of the former would necessarily have been partly constituted by matter stolen from the latter.  And of course our modern boffins are forever reminding us that we are supposedly killing off and birthing millions of blood cells every second; that our lungs, brains, rectums, and gosh knows what organs else, are one-scarily-single-digited-xth less capacious than they were ten years ago; that the very atoms that make up the molecules that make up our cells are in constant flux, and so on.  I am alive (for now) to this entire history of reservations vis-à-vis perduring corporeal integrity, and yet in the seemingly obdurate-cum- natural teeth of all of them, I continue to believe in that integrity, at least vis-à-vis my own case, the only case that ultimately matters as far as I am concerned (as if any other case but one’s own could matter as far as one were concerned!).   Perhaps good old Jean-Paul Sartre (whom I am incidentally delighted to have an opportunity to cite a second time in a single essay after not having mentioned him in any context in perhaps more than two decades) put it, the position I hold, best in Being and Nothingness when he rejected the biologists’ (or perhaps physiologists’) description of the body on the grounds that it was not his body as “it exists for me [i.e., him, J.-P.S.],” given that he had never seen his own brain or internal organs.  Natural science, and even a certain version of common sense, may tell me that my body is a thoroughly heteronomous pseudo-entity continually reconstituting itself with materials drawn from the world outside it, but I have never experienced it as such a pseudo-entity; that the food I eat is eventually partly transformed into the muscles, ligaments, and sinews (if a sinew is a different thing from a ligament) with which I type seems in one sense to be an eminently rational inference—inasmuch as I can feel its bulk steadily diminishing within me, and whither else should this sloughed-off bulk go but into the repository of first resort, viz. the rest of me surrounding my digestive tract—but in another sense this notion seems utterly daft, inasmuch as my hands &c. never phenomenally present themselves to me as, say, some kind of topiary fruitcake-cum-pudding made up prevailingly of little bits of tomato, roast beef, cheese, etc.  Phenomenally speaking, they have always simply been there (dagewesen), in an unvarying fleshy-cum-bony essence (Wesen).  And when I think of a body—not only my body, but a human body tout court—I always think of it as phenomenally participating in such a fleshy-cum-bony essence, whether it be alive or dead, provided that in appearance it is still visibly recognized as the body (as against the mere skeleton) of a person.  The boffins and their commonsensical predecessors may remonstrate that a body that has ceased to draw upon matter from the outside world in order to maintain its integrity (I believe the current naturally scientific precise term for such self-maintenance is homeostasis) is hyperliterally nobody, but in defiance of these doubtless infallibly well-founded remonstrations, I cannot help averring that as long as, say, a dead duck more or less looks like a live duck and acts like a live duck (albeit a very soundly sleeping live duck), it remains a duck, and if a duck that was christened Donald or Daffy at its birth, remains that selfsame Donald or Daffy and retains its native Donaldhood or Daffyhood even now, in death; i.e., mutatis mutandis, that even after death I shall remain Douglas Robertson as he was in all his biologically active glory (or ignominy) provided that-cum-so long as my corpse remains visibly recognizable as a corpse, and specifically the corpse of a human being bearing my name.  At the same time and on the other hand, I cannot help averring that if my body should deliquesce via whatever agency into something, or a heap of somethings, no longer visibly identifiable as me, I should, to borrow and deliberately misapply David Hume’s language, be entirely annihilated, nor do I conceive what is farther requisite to make me a perfect non-entity.  “So in short-cum-at bottom, you are one of those loonies who wants to have his, her, or hisherhisherhisherhisher…∞ (sic [remember, second-level DGR: altho’ gender-specification no longer has any bearing on my argument, it is still very much a live hot dead potato for the first-level DGR]) body cryogenically preserved (and presumably eventually devoured by ravenous mutant feral dogs after the great apocalyptic event that will doubtless supervene before we have taken even the most tottering baby-steps towards discovering the secret of immortality cuts off the power supply to your cryogenic locker and precipitates a great thaw).”  Probably not quite, as in my case the preservation probably needn’t come to anything as expensive or physiologically comprehensive as cryogenic freezing, even if, caeteris paribus, I really would like to have myself preserved as a package with all its contents remaining in place.  On the other hand, and getting back to Sartre’s body as it exists for me (i.e., my body qua body-conceived-along-Sartrean-lines as it now exists for me not Sartre’s present body qua Sartre’s present body as it exists for me[yuck!]): inasmuch as to this day I have nothing but the dubious evidence afforded by inductive inference to persuade me that I have a brain, liver, heart, etc. (doubtless at some moment too dreadful [and dreadfully soon] to contemplate I shall be presented with a photograph ostensibly capturing the image of one or more of these purportedly Robertsonian organs, but even then I shall have nothing beyond the presenter’s word as a medical professional {as if any such sod will ever have given a thought to poor old Hippocrates qua named human entity (q.v.)} to persuade me that it is an image of my brain, liver, heart, autc.), I can descry no ontologically unimpeachable justification for craving perpetual possession of such organs.  “So then, you would be happy, like an ancient Egyptian, to have your brain pulled out of your nose and discarded like so much presumptive natural refrigerator tubage after your death.”  I wouldn’t be exactly happy about it, but if for financial or other practical reasons the in situ-hood of my brain became an obstacle to the preservation of my recognizable body, I would accede to it in preference to being fed into the incinerator or stuffed un-worm-proofed into the ground.  I effectively iterate, or if need be reiterate (even after consulting the dictionaries I’m am unsure if the re adds anything to the sense, although presumably if it added nothing, reiterate would be as widely and severely stigmatized as irregardless): my fingers, toes, tongue, ears, and other outwardly visible parts are parts that I am certain contribute to the constitution of myself because I have phenomenal experience of them; my brain, on the other hand—the other phenomenally demonstrable hand—is something (something of the same class in this respect as my liver, spleen, and gall bladder) that I have merely been half-persuaded by hearsay to half-believe I am partly constituted by.  “Only partly indeed?  Would not most people say that you were wholly constituted by it?  Indeed, would they not say that were you deprived of your brain you would be entirely annihilated, and that they did not conceive what would be farther requisite to make you a perfect non-entity”?  Indeed they would do, but that is merely the perverse mulish consequence of the coition of their dogmatic vulgar Cartesian dualism with their dogmatic vulgar pseudo-materialism, in compliance with which the brain qua presumptive not only seat but outright comprehensive embodiment of consciousness is rigidly and ruthlessly held aloof of and sectioned off from the rest of the body, leaving the latter to serve as nothing more than a completely passive and insentient servo robot.  In supine acceptance of this schema, most people find utterly ridiculous certain other, and by now effectively superannuated schemata for accommodating the mind (or soul) within the body, notably the Egypto-Grecian one according to which the heart is the privileged organ of consciousness (or, at any rate, of some supercorporeal principle or other) within the body.  But in strictly phenomenal terms, it makes no more sense to house consciousness in the brain than in any other part of the body.  To be sure, most people (or, rather, very probably all people, including the present writer in all but his most philosophically exacting moments) reflexively suppose that all their thoughts are taking place (or elapsing or whatever it is that thoughts do) in their respective heads, but such a supposition is nothing other or better than wanton cephalocentrism.  To be sure, four of the five sense-organs are uniquely lodged in the head, but why, in the light of thought’s undeniable relative autonomy from the senses, should that entail the confinement of thought within the, erm, confines of the cranium?  To the admittedly debatable extent that thoughts are recollections of what Kripke’s fellow analytic philosophers call qualia, i.e., phenomena expressible as sensations, the most straightforwardly rational cartographic move in this case would be to site each thought in the part of the body in which the quale associated with it was perceived.  In such a mental cartography a thought expressible as an image would be sited in the eye, as a word in the ear or eye, as a smell in the nose, as a sound in the ear, as a taste on the tongue, and as a touch (or itch, twinge, etc.) in whatever part of the body it was felt, be it even a site so remote from the head as the tip of one of the little toes.  And given that nobody apart from Mr. Gumby has as far as I know ever reported experiencing a sensation in his or her brain, given, indeed, that fully conscious brain-surgery patients are said to experience no pain whatsoever even as the scalpel is remorselessly plowing through their pia mater and into their cerebra, I can conceive of no compelling reason for not excising the brain entirely from the ontological equation or picture or what have you.  “B-b-but don’t you see, sir, madam, miss, ms or sirmadammissmssirmadammissms…∞ the devastating implications of such a radical bilateral lobotomy? Why, such treasured English idioms as brain-dead and the brains of the operation—”  “—Yes, yes, yes: they would cease to have any meaning.  And from such devastating implications there would ensue conceivably even more devastating so-called knock-on implications, for if the notion of brain-deadness were to become meaningless, then the act of pulling the plug, as they say, on a person who formerly would have been regarded as clinically brain-dead, which is to say a person with a flat EEG reading (naturally I am braced for bushels of hate letters from medical professionals railing against me for my oblivion of the presumptive fact that even in clinically brain-dead persons EEG readings can be remarkably lively on account of this or that ultimately inconsequential neurological phenomenon), would be morally tantamount to unloading a revolver’s cargo of bullets into the body of the most youthful, athletic, and voluble person—a person who formerly would have been regarded as very much clinically brain-alive; and if each and every one of these preterit-conditional clinically brain-dead persons would henceforth have to be kept alive whatever the cost, it follows that our hospitals would soon have no room to accommodate the ailing preterit-conditional clinically brain-alive, a sizeable proportion of whom would sub-consequently very soon be present-indicatively both brain-dead and body-dead.  On the whole, eo ipso and caeteris paribus, I don’t know if at least the first part of this scenario would be all that undesirable (for the second part, in implying the proliferation of corpses, also at least by default implies the engendering and flourishing of an unbearable stench) inasmuch as the brain-dead, for all their faults, are uniformly more agreeable company than the virtual totality of their brain-living fellows in that they are a great deal, and, indeed, infinitely, less chatty.  But seriously, Volker, at bottom or on the whole my position here is a perfect analogue of the essentially almost nauseatingly good-natured latitudinarian one with which I come to rest towards the end of “Gluttony and Panpsychism”: just as for administrative efficiency’s sake, I, am amenable to giving preferential treatment to animate matter at the expense of inanimate matter, I am amenable for that selfsame sake to give preferential treatment to brain-alive people at the expense of brain-dead people.  By all means, I say, if it is just too gosh-damned expensive to keep alive people who do not bid even very poorly to begin evincing conventional tokens of awareness of the world around them (and consequently evincing tokens of being able to contribute however feebly or obliquely to that world’s sustenance), then we should by all means pull the plug on them.  Such wanton and insatiable freeloaderism obviously should not be tolerated by even the most namby-pambyishly indulgent welfare state (although I cannot forbear [from] pointing out that even a completely inert hospital patient cannot but contribute not-insubstantially to the gross domestic product of his or country of recumbence via his or her incessant consumption of blood plasma, bedclothes, plastic tubage, etc.).  But I am afraid I cannot be so broad-minded as to look with a kind eye on that essentially universally acceded-to (if perhaps not quite demographically exhaustive) horde of temporary conventional token of awareness-evincers who maintain in all certainty that you’ll approve that even caeteris paribus the unceremonious out-snuffing of all conventional token of awareness-non-evincers is the very best policy, that expediting the decay (or, better yet, incineration) of such people is a good thing eo ipso and in all cases.  Moreover, I confess that I am enough of a corporeal-ontological bigot to find myself checking my pulse and reaching for my blood pressure kit whenever I hear yet another member of the aforementioned horde yet again purportedly soothing a so (and often rightly)-called loved one of a non-evincer by sanctimoniously asserting, e.g., That’s not your beloved Uncle Charlie lying in that bed now.  Your beloved Uncle Charlie died thirty-five years ago, seconds after for the last time  handing you sixpence to spend at the sweet-shop, when he pitched over flat on to his frontside thanks to an apoplectic stroke wot administered a clean wipe to the computer hard disk of his subjectivity.  I write purportedly soothing because the actual aim of such rogues-cum-blockheads is not to soothe but to (supposedly [usage mavens: infinitive-splitters are allowed within brackets, I trust?]) enlighten or demystify, or, rather to fail to (supposedly) enlighten or demystify and consequently enjoy a virtual or perhaps even veritable orgasm of utterly unfounded intellectual smugness.  This poor benighted (and presumably ununbenightable) sap, such a rogue-cum-blockhead says to himself whilst delivering aloud the above-cited speech on Uncle Charlie, is actually so cluelessly superstitious as to suppose that the neurologically inert thing lying there is still his, her, or hisherhisherhiserhisher…∞ [naturally such a rogue-cum-blockhead must be a champion of the gender-queer] Uncle Charlie, when it is merely the empty packaging of that long-since-deceased Uncle Charlie [The arch pooh-pooher along these lines is quasi-of course the Socrates of Plato’s Phaedo, who somehow seems a markedly less compelling figure than the Socrates of even the most “mystical” or “idealistic” of the other dialogues.  The extent to which a belief in ideals, forms, and so forth tout court entails the abnegation of a belief in corporeal ontological immanence is, needless to say, a topic for a separate essay.], whereas it is actually he, the purported soother, who is the more cluelessly superstitious of the two parties in supposing that because some machine has purportedly ceased to register the activity of this purported organ, the brain, that is purportedly in Uncle Charlie’s skull and that purportedly houses this purportedly eminently comprehensible-cum-hypostasizable thing called consciousness, l’oncle Charlie n’existe plus.  After all, the purported soothee has always known his or her Uncle Charlie solely as a human body of a certain height, shape, eye color, &c., and the thing in the bed retains most or perhaps even all of these identikit markers, so why should he or she, the soothee, not regard that thing as Uncle Charlie in toto and eo ipso?  Granted, the thing in the bed does not behave in all the ways in which the soothee has come to expect Uncle Charlie to behave—for perhaps most notable example, it does not give him or her small sums of money to spend at the sweets shop.  But should a fellow human being’s degree of pliancy to our expectations—meaning, essentially, our wills, or worse yet, our whims—really be the sole gauge of his or her ontological integrity and perdurance? Is the soothee really entitled to regard Uncle Charlie solely or even preeminently as his or her personal trained seal (U.S.-Naval or otherwise)?  And why should the soothee not feel that he or she would be losing Uncle Charlie in toto and eo ipso only once the thing in the bed had lost its familiar contours?  I look with scarcely a kinder, or perhaps even a markedly less kind, eye on those rogues-cum-blockheads (or perhaps even rogues-cum-blockheads-cum-scoundrels), those cant-inflated blowhards, who pretend to be cheerfully resigned to having even more merciless and degrading violence than they would inflict on poor Uncle Charlie inflicted upon themselves.  The DGR, whether of the first or of the second level, is, I trust, well acquainted (albeit also rabidly sympathetic) with the stock of rhetorical topoi of these ignoble creatures—their hypermacho-cum-hyperpseudoselfunregarding ravings inevitably make mention of some nauseatingly downmarket corpse-container (e.g., a burlap sack, a patchwork quilt of used diapers/nappies, or a rectally incontinent sperm whale’s discarded colostomy bag), a fall from some quasi-Olympian height, and a descent into the local media catchment area’s least prestigious natural body of water.  So a typical specimen of the crowning sentence of such an oration would be: “After I die, I want you to stick me into a rectally incontinent sperm whale’s discarded colostomy bag and drop-kick me from the top of the Terminal Tower into the Cuyahoga [reflexive apologies to Cleveland-media-catchment-area residents, for whom, now that the Cuyahoga no longer burns, the least prestigious local body of water is now presumably some sub-Erie-sized lake in the vicinity of, say, Reminderville].”  Lately, though, such anti-obsequies have proved not abasing enough for the prospective posthumous self-desecrators: in adumbration of their prospective dismissal from the world of the living they have resorted to imagery drawn in equal measure from the unholy laboratories of the genetic engineers and from the Satanic word-mills of the authors of airport penny dreadfuls, as thus: “While I am alive, I want you to devote your every waking moment to the perfection of a strain of wolves that crave nothing so ardently as the simultaneous consumption of and coition with dead human flesh, so that you can sick a pack or ten of them on me once I’m dead.  I want to be absolutely sure that within two minutes—and I want you to time it with a stopwatch—there’s nothing left of me of but a heap of gory bones swimming in a pool of canine cum.”  And of course the adjuration to treat one’s body to such ludicrously outrageous maltreatment is invariably succeeded by the taking of solemn oaths exacting the stacking of overlapping hands to a Dagwood-sandwich-esque (or, indeed, Terminal Tower-esque) height.  [Again antiquity supplies us with an ur-precedent for the bluster in question—namely, Diogenes’s bequest of his own body as a scarecrow; and again, one is skeptical of the precedent’s assimilability to the ur-blusterer’s tenor of thought, for one does not reflexively think of a cynic as a believer in a corporeally transcendent soul.]  The histrionic solemnity of the whole affair could be justified only by the supposition that the jurors were somehow not merely affronted by the rites of a traditional funeral but fatally allergic to the mere contemplation thereof.  Alas for them: Ockham’s razor compels us rather to suppose that the scene-making arises from an assumption by these berks’ berks that they, be they centenarians themselves, will never die, that their bodies will keep on eating and breathing and shitting along well on into eternity—because, unlike, for example, stupid old pre-stroke Uncle Charlie with his two Marlboro Ultra-Lights-cum-two-Bud Lights-per-day smoking-and-drinking habit, they take care of themselves—e.g., by abstaining from smoking and eating a virtually microscopic garden salad alongside their third half-pound bacon double cheeseburger of the day.  The common assumption underlying the zeal of both the plug-pullers and the would-be-posthumous self-desecrators seems to be this: the brain-and-bodily dead have merely and already gotten their comeuppance for bad behavior and the brain brain-dead-and-bodily-alive are unwarrantably being spared that selfsame comeuppance; whereas the brain-and-body-alive are merely enjoying their indefeasible rights and deserve to keep living in perpetuity, and indeed can expect to keep living in perpetuity, provided that that last lone smoker in Apartment ####, eight stories up and ten residences east of one’s own, is prohibited from lighting up (again I am straying into topic-for-separate-essay territory).  Once again: I don’t dispute the for-the-nonce ineluctable administrative impracticability of keeping the conventional token of awareness-non-evincers alive, but I really could do without their zealous out-snuffers’ rabid cephalocentrism, and even beyond that, these out-snuffers’ equally rabid fetishization of consciousness.  First, as to the cephalocentrism: however fine-grained, verisimilitudinous, and above all expensive-looking the neurobiophysico-engineers’ visual representations of the human brain become, they will never be able to prove that human consciousness eo ipso is beholden to the human brain in any way or to the slightest extent.  Granted, as of now, at this point along the seemingly topless rising gradient of expensive-lookingness in neurobiophysico-engineering-imaging, some technician may be able to point to a ten-square-micrometer-sized bit of computer screenage and assert that it has just turned from (say) off-fuchsia to (say) hot maroon because my brain has just had to avail itself of exactly (say) three thousand five hundred and seven atoms of oxygen in order to allow me to say (say) the word say, but this does not by any means prove that my brain’s performance of such a numerically pernickety neurochemical operation was necessary to my utterance of that word, let alone to my awareness of my utterance of it.  For all we know from a metaphysically exacting point of view, the coincidence of the two (or three) events in question may have been just that and nothing more: a coincidence.  And even beyond and above (or beneath) such metaphysical scruples, there is (a.k.a. I harbor) a suspicion that the whole mechanism or organism on which such events, such mental operations-cum-states, are purportedly superstructed is much too perversely complicated—too Ptolemaic or Rube Goldbergish—to be true or for real or the case—at least qua infrastructure of such operations-cum-states.  Of course I will inevitably at first blush seem to be shooting myself in my disputational foot even in registering such a complaint, inasmuch as anti-neuro-fetishists have traditionally mounted their defensive battery behind the redoubt of complexity-cum-richness, but qua anti-neuro fetishist I perceive no need to make a counterfetish of richness-cum-complexity, inasmuch as I do not generally perceive what is going on in my head or heart or left arse-cheek or wherever else my thought-world is actually seated (!) to be especially rich or complex—indeed, it strikes me as being a great deal less complex than the transition from off-fuchsia to hot maroon, a transition that I naturally find difficult if not impossible to perceive, or else I would not have used it in the nearly immediately above illustrative example.  Of course, I have no way of knowing if the DGR of either (or, by now, perhaps, any) level finds this particular transition as hard to perceive as I do.  Perhaps, indeed, he or she finds it as easy as non-proverbially falling off the proverbial log, in which case I axiomatically (according to the neuroscientists) must be suffering from off fuchsia-hot maroon colorblindness, occasioned either by some functional defect in the so-called rods and cones in my eyes, or, more damningly, in certain clusters of neurons in a certain sector of my brain allegedly (and, if actually, horrifyingly preciously) dedicated to nothing but perceiving the difference between off-fuchsia and hot maroon.  Perhaps, indeed, the assertor of an ability to perceive this distinction is in the right about his or her ability to perceive it; I have no way of knowing; as Davy Hume says, minus the bit between square brackets, “All I can allow him is, that he [or she] may be in the right as well as I, and that we are essentially different in this particular.”  But on the whole, I am inclined here to invoke a different bit of Hume, namely his essay on miracles, wherein he adjures us, when confronted by testimony of a miraculous phenomenon, to consider that it is a posteriori more likely that the attester is lying or deluded than that the miracle he or she attests to actually took place; i.e.-cum-mutatis mutandis, to conjecture that in point of fact there isn’t any distinction between off-fuchsia and hot maroon and that the supposed distinguishers of such a distinction are merely giving themselves side in abject deference to an ever-more-fine-grained digital model of subjectivity, and that in their left arse-cheek (or wherever else their thought-world is sited) everything is painted in the same drab palette comprising perhaps a dozen (and certainly no more than twenty) colors as in my own or its thoughtworld-seating counterpart, a palette in which both off-fuchsia and hot maroon are exactly interchangeable with mauve and puce non-respectively.  I am sick nearly to death (though thankfully not necessarily to ontological dissolution) of people banging on about their gated-community-like privileged access to all manner of hyper-recherché alleged mental states— e.g., to the alleged 104 perfectly mutually distinguishable colors of the alphabet (“104?” the statistically improbably unflaky DGR asks: “Why not a mere 26?” Why, because each letter perforce has a different hue in each of the classic four font formats, viz. roman, italic, bold and italic bold [And yes-yes-yes, I know the phenomenon is famously known as synesthesia, but denomination by the highfalutinest of Greek names is no protection against debunking as bullshit, as is attested by the fate of phrenology])—and I am no less sick thereunto of the pseudoprofessional neuronerds’ affirmation of their onanistic noodling through ever-more-Byzantine so-called cognitive mapping.  All evidence from both “within” and “without” suggests that the so-called inner world is a much coarser-grained and more prosaic place than virtually anybody is making it out to be nowadays, and that it by no means requires for its sustenance anything as grand and elaborate as the tabletop universe-cum-supercomputer being foisted on us by the neuroscientists and their techworldian cronies.  The old eighteenth-century conceit of the mind as superstructed on a brain made up of cogs and gears like a clock—and not an atomic clock or even a quartz-crystal wristwatch but an eighteenth-century pocket watch that falls a minute or two behind the official time each day—is much more compelling, if for no other reason that it accounts for the fundamental and ineluctable cumbrousness, clunkiness, capriciousness, and inefficiency of the mind’s operations.  In this connection one also thinks of the salutarily primitive psychology of Locke, with its notion of the association of ideas, and even more signally, of its unshakably compelling instantiation in Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, wherein, for one of but more than several examples, the mere zigzagging pattern traced by Walter Shandy’s efforts to reach his own coat pockets with his hands suffices to trigger his brother Toby’s remembrance of his tracing of the same pattern with his feet (or perhaps his horse’s feet) during maneuvers as a soldier at the siege of Namur, some twenty years earlier, and thereby to cause Toby to crave a map of that siege and to cease paying any regard to the completely unrelated subject on which his brother was descanting as he started making the aforementioned reach.  The neuronerds, having never read a book any older or more highbrow than the first novel in the Discworld series, naturally find this sort of phenomenon overwhelmingly fascinating and doubtless have been furiously scurrying and indeed zig-zagging about for a metacognitive cartograph complicated and expensive-looking enough to account for it.  But if so, they fail to see that the upshot of such instantiations, such negative exempla, is fundamentally comical and deflationary in being illustrative rather of the mind’s actual guileless simplicity than of its supposed shrewd complexity.  If the mind were truly all that it has been cracked up to be by its most ardent champions (viz. essentially all the great philosophers up to but assuredly not including Locke’s great preceptor, Hobbes), implies Sterne, it would always be able to direct its energies to the matter immediately under consideration; instead it wantonly insists on going off on all sorts of irrelevant tangents (or zig-zags) at the implacable behest of a crudely mechanical trigger mechanism at the most inopportune moments.  But it is not merely the counterproductive cognitive short-circuiting occasioned by such connections that is the target of the satire here; no, Sterne is also lampooning the sheer contingency and factitiousness of the connections themselves: to reach for a handkerchief in one’s coat pocket during the reign of Queen Anne may have contingently required a series of motions geometrically consubstantial with the motions necessitated by the besieging of a city during the reign of King William, but the utility of the motion in both contexts bespeaks no possession of unitary significance by the motion itself—“In the course of history,” Sterne tells us, “people have had to zig-zag in order to accomplish various and certain aims and there’s an end on’t.”  It would be lamentable enough if the mind were incessantly subject to such contingent-cum-factitious connections exclusively as a function of its administrative dealings with the so-called outer world (for Sterne does not conceive the damage wreakable by these CCFCs as extending beyond the confines of this function)—but, alas!, thanks to their perfidious collaboration with the faculty of memory these CCFCs occasion untellable sorrow(s) in the reflective-cum-introspective register of the mind’s operations.  I term the collaboration perfidious because while the faculty of memory is almost infallibly conscientious both in indelibly recording a CCFC at the moment when it is established and in subsequently making available to consciousness the connection of the two connected objects (in the above example from Tristram Shandy these objects are Walter’s coat pocket and the siege of Namur), it is wantonly and very probably deliberately negligent to the point of obliviousness in recording the medium of the connection (in the Shandyian example this is the zig-zagging motion), such that when our memory of the connection resurfaces in consciousness a kind of cognitive jump-cut occurs: our conscious selves qua counterfactual Uncle Tobys perceive that the siege of Namur has something to do with a Queen Anne-period coat-pocket but are utterly incapable of ascertaining what that something is.  For a long time—indeed, for a roughly thirty-year-long period stretching from a year or two before his attainment of the classic Popish age of discretion until three or four years before the moment of this writing, the present author derived perhaps the largest part of his meager share of what Dickens would have termed all the romance in my life (though naturally with reference to his own or Pip’s life rather than to mine, about which he perforce could not have given a proverbial or non-proverbial rat’s or monkey’s) from such cognitive jump-cuts; throughout this period he enjoyed almost (!) nothing more than dwelling on the mysterious conjunction in his memory of such-and-such phenomenon A with such-and-such phenomenon B, than savoring the conjunction itself and toiling to comprehend its raison de naissance in what he smugly surmised to be utter futility.  Pieces of music figured especially prominently among the conjunctemes; for example, I can remember—or, rather, meta-remember, as the object in point is after all the memory of a conjunction of memories—that beginning in about August of 1988 I associated the trio or middle portion, the so (by the composer)-called Italian portion, of the slow movement of Shostakovich’s 14th string quartet, op. 142, with the basement student bar of the University of Tampa, the so (by the academic administration)-called Rathskeller, and with two girls with whom I had consorted there earlier that summer.  “What were you doing hanging out at a college bar, let alone at a college bar with a girl on each arm, at the legally tender age of sixteen?”  The answer to that question is a story not only too long but also too prosaic even for these abysmally subpoetic pages.  The main and indeed sole point to be made here is that while I had indeed been listening to Shostakovich’s 14th quartet a great deal in late June and July of 1988 I most emphatically had not spent all thousand-odd hours comprising those five-odd weeks in the Rathskeller in the company of those girls and had indeed probably spent at most three out of those thousand hours in that keller and in that company, such that it then (i.e. in August of 1988) by no means seemed obvious to associate the Italian portion of DDS’s op. 142 specifically with the keller-cum-girls—a much more obvious link would have been to the local transit bus ride that had taken me from the university campus (or, rather, some downtown intersection within walking distance thereof) to my grandparents’ house in West Tampa five days a week over those selfsame five-odd weeks and had accordingly absorbed a much larger fraction thereof than the keller-cum-girls had done.  To this day I can’t say for sure or indeed even unsure why I started associating the Rathskeller and the girls with the quartet-section, but I would lay out a for-me-considerable sum of money, say 50 dollars, on a bet that the reason for the association is that I just happened to be thinking about the quartet-section with especially marked intensity while I was in the company of the girls in the bar.  “Do you mean to tell me that you were in the company of two girls in a bar and your attention was more nearly fully absorbed by the mere memory—not the actual sound, mind you, but the mere memory—of a piece of chamber music than by the girls?”  No, I mean to tell you that I surmise that my attention was more nearly fully absorbed by my memory of a piece of chamber music than by the girls, an alternative piece of dictation that admittedly is not likely to abate your incredulity a jot, but you would be a good deal less incredulous if you knew the so-called back-story of the situation (if situations as well as people are allowed to have back-stories), and, as I have already more or less said, this back-story is too prosaic for words.  The point that I was en route to making with this example is that recently, in the past three or four years, I have come to suspect that all such chez-moi yokings of pieces of music with particular people and places are likewise accountable by mere mutual cognitive propinquity–this because in this recent period I have either acquired or been vouchsafed the knack of at least occasionally eavesdropping, so to speak, on such yokings as they are being made, or at any rate are trying to be made, for a notable apparent epipheomenon of the knack is that the yoke never quite settles into place, or that (to re-uptake the film-editing metaphor) when the memory of the yoking is screened and rescreened, the jump-cut is not a complete and proper jump-cut, and I see at least the early and late fringes of the events that connected the two sequences before editing, and in consequence no aura of mystery surrounds the scene of filming.  The first such moment of privity that I can recall centers on the minuet of Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 in D minor, or rather on that minuet and Britain’s leading financial adviser (at least according to his friend Danny Baker), Dr. David Kuo.  I remember thinking something or other about David Kuo as I was listening to that minuet, and then immediately after that thought thinking, “Oh, I suppose from now on I’m going to think of this part of this symphony as ‘The David Kuo Minuet.’”  Perhaps not quite needless to say, the minuet of Haydn’s 95th symphony has not turned out to be the David Kuo minuet for me because each and every time I hear or indeed even think about that minuet I think not of David Kuo himself but of the moment when I thought about David Kuo while listening to the minuet, such that now chez moi the No. 95 minuet is merely “The Abortive David Kuo Minuet.”  But had I heard the No. 95 minuet while thinking about Dr. Kuo only a year earlier, in other words, before I had been granted this superhero-like ability to eavesdrop on the establishment of CCFCs, I would most likely to this very day and microsecond find myself wondering What is it about this minuet that is so infungibly Kuo-esque?  Is it a certain fugitive Cantonese inscrutability in the bass line [Dr. Kuo hails from Hong Kong]? Or is it the unusually rhythmically prominent behavior of the tympani, which, in addition to their usual yeomanly one downbeat quarter-note per measure are here allocated four upbeat eighth notes, an allocation that imparts to their contribution a telex or ticker-tape machine-like quality that cannot but remind me of Wall Street and the City, and thence of Britain’s leading financial adviser?  Or better yet (because more complex), is it not these two attributes acting in concert?  A similar (or perhaps even the identical) power-cum-curse has roughly contemporaneously fallen to my lot vis-à-vis that flagship phenomenon of Unheimlichkeit, déjà vu.  I have never been either the world’s most frequent experiencer or the world’s most ardent connoisseur of déjà vu, but I have always been fairly reliably attacked by it a Mickey’s handful of times each year, and in the old days (again, up until about three or four years ago), I would do five or ten seconds of spot-checking of my memory immediately posterior to a DV attack more or less entirely pro forma, as in none of the aftermaths of the ca. 130 attacks (Forty-four, my present age, minus seven, the classic Popish age of discretion minus three or four, equals 32 or 33, and 32 or 33 x 4 [an official Mickey’s handful] = 128 or 132) had I ever alighted upon a plausible already-seen phenomenon qua catalyst of the attack, and so at the end of the five or ten seconds I would always move on to the next item on the agenda of my inner life, as they say (minus OMIL, of course). (A DGR with presumably unprecedented Besonnenheit will perceive that it is this immediate onto-moving, in yawning contrast to my habitually in-principle interminable-cum-inexhaustible search for the headwaters of CCFCs, that reliably marks me as a so-called non-starter in the World’s Most Ardent Connoisseur of Déjà Vu Pageant.)  But nowadays that spot-check almost always yields an ASP-qua-CotA, and quite often it yields it before the five-second mark.  So, for instance, I will be listening to Eddie Maier interviewing the spokesperson of one of the UK’s baby rail networks and from something said either by Mr. Maier or by his interviewee I will get the unheimlich sense that I’ve heard all this verbatim before, and the spot-check will expeditiously point me to a passage from an earlier interview in which Mr. Maier asked the spokesbloke, spokesblokess, or spoke-gender queer-sperson of another baby rail network the very same question, mutatis paucissimis mutandis, and had received the very same reply, MPM.   Or I’ll start out listening to an installment of some comedy panel show on Radio 4 feeling certain that I have never heard this episode before (and sometimes indeed not a single episode of the show at all), and the first few sketches do indeed seem totally unfamiliar, but at some point before the end credits something starts to sound familiar, and finally I check the “previously aired” list and discover that, yes, the episode has already aired on a date and at a time at which I almost certainly was listening to Radio 4.  Mind you, this discovery almost never succeeds in jogging my memory about the ca. 90 percent of the episode that seemed utterly strange to me; consequently that 90 percent continues to seem unfamiliar to me—or, rather, only freshly familiar to me, from this apparently non-initial listening session, but the third-party attestation that I almost certainly have heard the episode in its entirety is more than eloquent enough to persuade me that the déjà vu attack was precipitated by my partial memory of the episode, that since listening to the episode I must simply have forgotten the ca. 90 percent thereof that rings no bells or while listening to it not been paying close enough attention to it ever to have received a memory of it rather than that the situation dramatized in the familiar ca. 10-percent bit thereof—say, a chinwag between Napoleon and his footman—echoed a moment in one of my previous incarnations (e.g., a moment when I qua Napoleon’s footman was chatting with the emperor), or, as a non-reincarnation-believer such as I tended to conjecture in my déjà vu-obscurvoyant days, that it echoed a moment in some primevally earlier portion of my 1972-originating life as Douglas Robertson (e.g., a moment when some fellow-tyke and I were playing at being Napoleon and his footman on the nursery-school playground).  Now, inasmuch as BBC Radio 4 “previously-aired” lists and their quasi-equivalents at other media outlets have been available to me only in the past three or four years, the selfsame three or four years since whose advent my perduring attacks of déjà vu have ceased, it is tempting to suppose that the subsidence of attacks chez moi is owing entirely to the empirically contingent irruption of the availability of “previously aired” lists beginning in ca. 2010 and that had I at the age of, say, 14—in other words, at some point during a year, viz. 1986, when in point of historically contingent fact the consultation of the television schedules of any more recent date than that of the most recent Sunday would have required a statistically almost non-attainable parent-driven trip to the 20-miles(’)-distant central branch ( i.e., notionally, if not officially, trunk) of the Hillsborough County Public Library, and thence a by no means temporally unexacting if highly selective ransacking of that branch’s microfilm archives—experienced a moment of déjà vu while watching a Bewitched or Barney Miller rerun, I had no choice but to remain in ignorance of my conjecturally inevitable pre-spectatorship of the sitcom-episode in question, and could hence suffer myself to wallow in blissful déjà vu-centered ignorance of the flashback’s ultimately irredeemably prosaic catalyst.  Such that one is consequently tempted to regard the death of déjà vu as an historically contingent phenomenon, one affecting not only me but also all other persons of the second decade of the twentieth century regardless of their place or time of birth.  But I am inclined to think otherwise (as indeed my earlier example, the one about the pair of Eddie Maier interviews with the pair of railway-company spokespeople, already implied in its non-dependence on the “previously aired” lists); I am inclined, rather, to believe that as one gets older one simply acquires an ever-greater mastery of a kind of mental library of congress-style filing system according to which one can simultaneously pair up certain phenomena based on their shared possession of certain traits, and dissociate them from each other based on their non-possession of certain other traits, and that the gradual and irreversible extinction of déjà vu is an inevitable epiphenomenon of such mastery.  At the age of 10, on being presented with a photograph of Soupy Sales wearing a coral snake pattern-crowned sombrero one fancies one has seen that very photograph before because one has seen only one other photograph of a person—namely, Spiro Agnew—wearing a coral snake pattern-crowned sombrero, and the coral snake pattern crowned sombrero-inclusiveness of each picture is (perhaps) far more striking to an unjaded retina than its Soupy Sales or Spiro Agnew-inclusiveness, such that the Spiro-Agnew-inclusiveness of the earlier-seen picture has (perhaps) long since retreated into oblivion.  But by the age of 40, one has seen literally perhaps dozens of mutually non-inclusive photographs of Soupy Sales, Spiro Agnew, and coral snake pattern-crowned sombreros: one has seen photos of a non coral snake pattern-crowned sombrero-crowned Soupy Sales as the eponym of his own show and as a guest on What’s My Line?; one has seen photos of a non coral snake pattern-crowned sombrero-crowned Spiro Agnew tendering his resignation to Richard Nixon; one has seen Marlene Dietrich, Kristy McNichol, and Justin Timberlake wearing coral snake pattern-crowned sombreros; and one has seen unworn coral snake pattern-crowned sombreros in the Cinco de Mayo showcases of Target, Lazarus, Marshall’s, and Burdines.  Such being the case, on being presented for the first time with a photograph of Gilbert Gottfried in a coral snake pattern-crowned sombrero one emphatically is not reminded of the photograph of Spiro T. Agnew wearing such a hat nor indeed of any of the other photos one has seen of people wearing such a hat, and on the other when one is once again presented with the photograph of Spiro T. Agnew in the CSPCS, one is reminded of that photograph and of no other, because by such a relatively august age one has for better or for worse sorted out what belongs with what and what doesn’t.  I say for better or for worse because the Unheimlichkeit one experiences during an attack of déjà vu is on the whole a very pleasant feeling and because although the out-sorting via which one breaks free of déjà vu for apparent good (good as in permanent, not necessarily good as in unbad) is accurately designated a kind of learning, it by no means constitutes enlightenment in the strong sense inasmuch as it does not supply a deficiency in knowledge: even as a ten-year-old one knows that a photograph of Soupy Sales in a coral snake pattern-crowned sombrero is first and foremost a photograph of Soupy Sales (or at any rate of some guy if one has not yet learned his name) and not of a coral snake pattern-crowned sombrero; at the age of ten one is already as apodictically certain as a forty-year-old that a photograph of a human being is F&F a photograph of a human being and that even the most garishly eye-catching article of clothing or hattery or shoery sported by that person is but an adscititious addition to that person and can never be regarded as the central object in the picture, because one more abstractly knows that shirts, trousers, hats, shoes, &c. are worn by people and not vice-versa.  (Of course in metaphysically strict terms it is to say the least both highly debatable whether trousers, hats, shoes, &c. exclusively constitute adsictitious additions to people and eminently arguable that people constitute but adscititious additions to them [witness the only half-jocular proverb Clothes make the man], but as I am here considering the system of knowledge in point merely with regard to its stability, relative consistency, and social sanctionedness [Sanctity would of course be much less clunky here, but I dread denunciation as a dupe of the will o’ the wisp-cum-three card-Monte-man of folk etymology], that system’s degree of metaphysical watertightness is perforce at minimum of no immediate concern to us.)  One knows this, and during the coral snake pattern-crowned sombrero-triggered attack of déjà vu one is merely being prevented from applying one’s knowledge by the capriciousness of one’s faculty of memory, or rather and indeed by something both more prosaic and less morally objectionable than that—namely, one’s faculty of memory’s transient disproportionately acute impressionability by garish impressions, such that the forty year-old’s newly acquired loss of susceptibility to déjà vu is at best something for him, her, autc. to whinny plaintively about qua jaded old jade, and certainly nothing for him, her, autc. to crow smugly about qua sage old crow.  But en revanche-avec-usury the forty year-old may legitimately crow like the mightiest and sagest crow in the Danville, Illinois winter roost vis-à-vis his newly acquired loss of susceptibility to the prize hen in the present day’s neuronerdial farm of unheimlich experiences (by comparison déjà vu is now almost as naff as the pet rock—and presumably unjustifiably so if, as I conjectured, the ability to experience déjà vu is not confined to specific historical epochs; such that today’s under-40s must be experiencing déjà vu as often as their predecessors in déjà vu’s mediatic mid-to-late twentieth-century heyday did), namely that beloved and so far reliably baited hook of radio phone-in show hosts and newspaper food columnists, the so-called Proustian rush, so dubbed (or christened [q.v.]) in simultaneous honor and near total ignorance of Marcel Proust, specifically of that celebrated or notorious pair of passages, together comprising about a thousand words or .1% of the total verbal volume of À la recherche du temps perdu, in which Proust’s narrator (a.k.a. Marcel) describes his biting into a small shell-shaped sponge cake, a so-called madeleine, dipped in herbal tea, and subsequently being transported, after a fashion, back to a set of remote space-time coordinates at which he was likewise biting into a tea-soaked madeleine.  In potentially legally actionable defiance of the phone-in show hosts and food columnists, who seem to take it for granted that the Proustian rush is an unvaryingly commonplace event throughout the entire duration of a human being’s natural (else why would such over-50s perpetually advertise their own Proustian rushes and solicit those of their likewise post-quadragenarian readers and listeners without explicitly placing the Proustian rush in their beloved category of things you just can’t get anymore), I would submit that this experience tends to diminish into statistical non-occurrence in early middle age, just like the two other unheimlich phenomena I have recently reported on in these pages.  That the Proustian rush was if not an everyday then at least an everyweek(ly) phenomenon of his own pre-quadragenarian so-called inner life, and certainly a much more common up-cropper therein than déjà vu (albeit probably not nearly so rifely raffish a figure therein as the CCFC), the present writer will unreservedly aver, although at the same time, he will confess to being now rather hard-pressed to specify and situate more than a Mickey’s handful (q.v.) of these pre-4/28/2012-occurring PRs.  With regard to the really impressive, over-bowling, tear-inducing (or at least tear-recommending) PRs, all of which seem to have occurred long before I even turned thirty, I really can in good faith only generalize and classify—in other words write about the sorts of qualia that tended to trigger these PRs and the sorts of places these qualia-classes tended to evoke rather than recount any specific moment when a specific quale evoked a specific antecedent phenomenal moment.  So, for instance, I can say that during this pre-trentagenearian period freshly aired pieces of newly manufactured plastic tended to be evocative of holiday moments, that they tended to remind me of certain toys and knick-knacks I had received at Christmas or Easter.  To this day, I can recall a certain smell exuded by the ink of a certain comic book (or was it perchance exuded by the presumably now-banned ingredients of the nauseating wax syrup-straws packed alongside book?) in an Easter basket I must have received between the ages of five and seven, and I am certain that at least several times in my teens and twenties I encountered that same smell in then-present-day settings, and that I was thereupon transported back to Easter Sunday of 1978, ’79, or ’80, but I can no longer say anything whatsoever about the latter-day mooring-points of any of the Proustian rushes that evoked that Easter Sunday, or indeed about any of the other L-DMPs anchored at the other end at the as-of-now especially memorable qualia of my childhood proper—for example, some especially horrible version of that especially horrible article of Kindersudelküche known as beanie-weenies (which probably by all rights ought to be dubbed the marmite of nursery cuisine, although to be sure I have yet to run into anybody who has confessed to abhorring it as much as I did in the very milk-teeth of its unassailable place at the top of the totemic nursery menu [altho’ to be fair, I have at best very seldom quizzed any exact or even rough contemporary of mine on his, her, autc. appraisal of beanie-weenies]), which was, as near as I can remember, recalled unsavorily to my mind’s palate by, say, every thousand-and-a-halfth bite of food I took between 1978 and 2002.  So then, when to my sessions of debatably sweet and only fitfully silent thought I attempt to summon up every last authentic and full-fledged PR from days past—in other words, a PR whose mooring-points are identifiable at both ends, I find myself somewhat disappointingly confined to a pair of olfactorily-centered PRs dating no further back at their earlier end than to the earliest and not-quite-earliest days of my residence in Baltimore, in other words, to my twenty-third and twenty-eighth years and the calendar years of 1994 and 1999, respectively.  The first of these may (and indeed can) be firmly moored at its anterior end to the basement of the then (i.e., in 1994) as-yet-unrenovated Homewood Apartments, within whose basement laundry room (to which I repaired only with the utmost dread owing to its inexplicable hosting of a seemingly super-centenarian workman’s table whose presumably neurotoxically leaden coating of green paint was incessantly flaking away and thereby gradually and ever-so-horrifyingly laying bare a dull gray armature of yet more lead) I invariably became conscious of a certain woody (and perhaps specifically dealy or firry)-cum-varnishy smell that throughout my brief period of residence at the Homewood naturally reminded me of nothing apart from my earlier trips to that basement, but when in the summer of 1995 I moved only four blocks away into the top floor of a West 29th-Street row house whose staircase smelled exactly like the Homewood’s basement, the smell of the two places merged into a general “Charles Village-cum-Remington 1994-1995” smell, such that for a long time after my summer-of-1997 removal from West 29th Street, on those then seemingly rare-and-unpredictable occasions on which I encountered that smell, I would indeed be transported back to Charles Village and Remington at the very dead center of the 1990s.  But at some point in the 20-oughties I seemingly started to encounter this CVcR9495 smell figuratively all the time and wherever I went—or, rather (and significantly), literally quite often and whenever I went into a Baltimore row house or apartment building erected in the very early twentieth century; and, indeed, by this point it almost seemed as though the smell was as predictable or at least common and unsurprising a feature of such buildings as their swelled or speckled burnt sienna facades; on entering such a building I was no more surprised at encountering the smell than I would have been at encountering a yolk on cracking open an egg.  From the “Charles Village-cum-Remington 1994-1995 smell” it has gone to being the “Baltimore very early twentieth century-originating building smell”–and consequently even in my own mind has gone from being indexed to my private history to being indexed to the public architectural history of this city.  A similar and partially complementary transformation has occurred in connection with another smell that I first noticed in 1999, by which time, ob multas causas, I was finding not infrequent occasion to venture beyond the Charles Village-cum-Remington area and indeed beyond the Tri-Zip-code area (q.v. “Every Man His Own W.G. Sebald”), and perhaps most often to that semi-suburban zone both north and east of the site where Memorial Stadium had formerly stood (and indeed has not since been re-erected), a zone in which row houses yielded to duplexes and detached houses for good—or at any rate, until one got to, say, Wilmington, or to some ancient hamlet on the Delmarva peninsula.  Wellsirautc., I was visiting my friend Richard Karoli (q.v. “Every Man His Own George D. Painter”) at his temporary house-sitting residence in one of the older detached houses in this zone, and he roped me into helping him move some cumbrous cabinet of dead leaves (an herbarium was what he called it) into either the basement or some oversized closet—I can no longer remember which.  And that basement or closet had a peculiarly mildewy smell—which is to say a smell that was unmistakably and instantly recognizable as that of mildew and yet different from every other kind of mildew I had ever smelled (how such recognition of the familiar in the new is even possible is quite beyond me, but I daresay the neuronerds already have some pseudo-explanation for it hinging on the patently irrelevant and unenlightening behavior of some species of barnacle or whelk that died out eighteen thousand milliard years ago); and for several years thereafter whenever I encountered that smell I would be reminded of the house my friend had house-sat.  Oddly enough I seemed to encounter the smell exclusively on other people’s clothing—jackets and sweaters and other outerwear (of course the reader would be well within his or her rights to think me quite a louche character were I to say that I had ever [or at least any more than very occasionally] encountered it on their innerwear!), such that by now when I encounter it I think not of that house or indeed of any house at all, but rather of a pile of nondescript jackets, sweaters, and other outerwear.  I presume that wearers of these articles of outerwear all hail from the aforementioned inner zone of freestanding houses and that the houses of that zone, either on account of their geographical situation or their manner or materials of construction, are particularly hospitable to a species of mold or fungus with a pungent and distinctive smell.  Complementarily, I presume that the “Charles Village-cum-Remington 1994-1995 smell” is owing to a particular kind of wood or varnish—or a combination thereof—used in the construction of staircases throughout Baltimore solely in the very early twentieth century.  (From Mary Ellen Hayward and Charles Belfoure’s wonderful history The Baltimore Rowhouse I have learned that building materials in Baltimore were indeed often sourced and employed according to such patterns—that, for example, a particular type of stone from a particular quarry would be exploited in great abundance because of its suitability to the construction of a certain style of house in certain neighborhoods, only to fall out of use completely when fashion moved on in both a literal and figurative sense.)  In both instances of presumption, I am voluntarily engaging in an act of experiential expropriation; I am voluntarily ceding to the outside world and the forces of history something that I once regarded as my own gemütlich little secret, and I am doing so simply because it seems to be gratuitously, bootlessly perverse not to do so.  To be sure, I do not know that my private experience of the woody-cum-varnishy smell in 1994-1995 or the mildewy smell in 1999 is not the ontological headwaters-cum-delta of these phenomena, and that since 1995 and 1999 some diabolical almighty demiurge has not selectively new-modeled the world so that I now find myself routinely catching gusts of these smells in space-time-coordinates to which they emphatically do not belong, but it seems much more Occamishly straightforward to assume that like certain sprites and minor gods these smells have their own inalienable and relatively perduring haunts in specific genres or zones of place, haunts that they presumably will be forced eventually to forsake, but in compliance with a timetable in which I perforce will have no say;  and that I—a hapless haunter of specific relatively perduring places in my own right—am no more reasonably entitled to expect to transcend my implication in the inexorable stream of time by their agency than I am to expect to transcend my situation on the relatively exorable trampoline of space by being catapulted to Paris at the sight of a blue-and-red French-style no-parking sign (for example, either of the pair thereof now posted on either side of a pair of padlocked wooden doors of a one-car garage debouching on to 32nd Street between Calvert and Guilford [Evidently the owners set a higher priority on advertising their Francophilia than on forestalling the average car-owning Baltimorean’s vehicular blockage of egress from their garage.]).  So in short: as far as I am concerned, the Proustian rush, for all the prestige-cum-trendiness of its pedigree, and for all its begottenness by a writer-cum-thinker whom I positively revere, must be consigned to the same pyre, or rather ash-heap (for I am after all, at least as far as I am concerned, referring to phenomena that have long since exhausted themselves) as the one hosting the CCFC and déjà vu.  Admittedly, I feel slightly without my rights in treating the PR as unceremoniously I have treated the other two, inasmuch as the quantum of experience needful to a definitive disenchantment with-cum-liberation from it would appear to be so tiny, and so quickly acquirable, that I am sorely hard pressed to account for my failure to be so enlightened and liberated long before my attainment of my majority, let alone before the last years of my fourth decade.  Surely my third or fourth encounter with some object smelling exactly like the comic book in the Easter basket of my mid-to-late single digits—an encounter which, to judge by the timing of its latter-day mentally documented counterparts, presumably occurred long before my tenth birthday—would have sufficed to establish that the comic book in the Easter basket had no unique and infungible affiliation with Easter Sunday at all, let alone with a specific 1978, 1979, or 1980 Easter Sunday; surely my third or fourth encounter with some dollop of some kind of canned slop at a presumably correspondingly early age should have convinced me that the beanie-weenies served up at the Carrollwood Daycare Center in 1977 and 1978 were not the focus and source of all culinary repulsiveness—unless, of course, it had and they were, respectively; unless, yet again-cum-on the third hand, my exposure to the technically-cum-geographically mandated qualia of my life was less intensive and hence less repetitious during the years prior to my settlement in Baltimore than in the years posterior thereunto—a supposition that seems quite rational in the light of the relative antiquity and density of non-savage human settlement, as well as the geographical concentration of my residence, up here ici-en-haut vis-à-vis là bas.  (Although between 1985 and 1994 I did not leave the state of Florida and went for perhaps as long as nearly three years, i.e., ca. early 1987-ca. late 1989, without even leaving my native Hillsborough County, the geographical distances I was obliged to traverse day after day in the course of my Alltag during even the most parochial period of my Florida residence—e.g., my ten-mile round-trip commute to and from high school—brutally dwarf the longest trip I am obliged to make in the course of a year as a Baltimorean.)  This last supposition dovetails nicely with my indisputably present and conceivably permanent disenchantment with a phenomenon that is at its most distant a very close kissing cousin of the PR and that I would indeed unhesitatingly classify as a full-fledged species or version of the PR were it not that it does not involve the resuscitation of particularized immediate experience—namely the microepochal flashback, that sensation or feeling that overcomes (or at least used to overcome) one on being confronted with some document—most often a photograph or passage from a movie, but often enough a book-cover or shop-front marquee—hailing from a microepoch that one has lived through; a sensation generally made up of about seven parts disgust and three parts Unheimlichkeit, and generally eliciting an ejaculation of “Yikes (or Yuck or indeed Eek)—that’s so [microepoch of pertinent document]!”  For probably a good (yet evil) fifteen years running, namely from ca. 1986 through to ca. 2001, I could count on feeling this sensation (or on sensing this feeling) in connection with virtually any document hailing from the 1970s.  The thought that I had ever lived in a world that had tolerated such couture, interior design, etiquette, cuisine, building materials, textiles, architecture, production values, typefaces autc. as was or were exhibited in or by the ca. seven to ca. thirty-one-year-old document in question horrified me almost beyond the point of endurance.  So, for instance, I recall nearly suffering a seizure in 1992 or 1993 on seeing a production still from Luis Buñuel’s Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie in a film textbook.  The scene in the photograph was that of the aftermath of the massacre at the movie’s conclusion, when all the guests of the long-deferred dinner party are lying strewn about the dining room, dead and blood-spattered, to be sure, but still dressed in their early-1970s Saturday-afternoon best.  How horrifying, I thought to myself on beholding this static Grand-Guignol miniature, to think that Luis Buñuel, a titan of surrealism, and hence of classical modernism, and hence a virtual contemporary and social-cum-artistic peer of Marcel Proust, could have had any truck with these churls’ churls who in their absurdly wide-lapelled jackets and neckties and flared-bottomed trousers would not have been out of place on the soundstage of Love American Style or Airport 1975!  But when I finally saw The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie for the first time, in 2002, I was not even ever so slightly horrified by its principal players’ attire; to the contrary, in every aspect of their habitus including the sartorial these personages struck me as eminently plausible epigones of the grands bourgeoises of the Belle Epoque— to be sure, far less impressive, less eclatant, than their predecessors, but no less elegant after a certain scaled-down economizing fashion.  What had happened in the intervening ca. ten years to make such a formerly formidable emetic so eminently palatable?  Most obviously, with the release or advent of such late-’90s media spectacles as Jackie Brown, That 70s Show, The Ice Storm, and Boogie Nights the appurtenances of daily life in the 1970s had come to seem not only hip (for hipness as such is not in point here and would not be even if I were the most unregenerately enthusiastic trend-humper [which I self-evidently am not]) but natural, thanks to their very recent inhabitation-cum-employment in these spectacles by the likes of Mark Walberg, Christina Ricci, Ashton Kutcher, and Laura Prepon, actors even younger than myself who nonetheless seemed quite at home moving about in twenty-to-twenty-five-year-old clothes, using twenty-to-twenty-five-year old household appliances, eating twenty-to-twenty-five-year-old food preparations, etc.; and whose engagement in all these activities was being conveyed to me via the same batch of factory-fresh film-stock that was providing the material basis of the latest ever-so-late-90s Pixar computer-animated feature or CGI-saturated space opera or comic book-hero schlockbuster (perhaps not quite needless to say a schlockbuster is a blockbuster full of schlock and not a buster of schlock), as against the blurry and seemingly primevally ancient ninth-generation prints that had thithterto furnished me with the extremely heavy preponderance of my experience of movies and television programs actually made in the 1970s (for more on this see “On the Golden Age of Telecast Videotape and 16mm Film”).  And very shortly thereafter, in 1999 or 2000, one began to see fashionable and attractive young people both in non-period media spectacles and in the so-called real world (or on the so-called street) adopting a sartorial mien whose signature elements—wide lapels, even wider ties, knee-high leather boots, garish particolored tartans, subtly terraced tans and beiges, suede, corduroy, macrofiber polyester, flared-bottom non-jean trousers, big, floppy batwing-like shirt collars, etc.—instantly and unmistakably recalled the 1970s.  At the same time-stroke-in addition, and at right angles to the grain of this soixante-dixation of the Kleidungsgeist, a none-too-subtle shift in the general register or tone of that Geist had taken place—to describe it either succinctly or bluntly: people, and not merely young people but also older and even downright elderly people, just weren’t dressing up as much as they had used to.  Less and less often had  men been wearing two-piece suits-cum-ties, let alone the more formal three-piece ones whose revival had been one of the couturial hallmarks of the ’70s; less and less often (though admittedly less less and less often) had women been donning dresses or even blouses-cum-skirts; and more and more often persons of all ages and both (for there were indeed only two of them way back then in the idyllic early noughties) sexes had been opting at every conceivably permissible time and place for the god-awfully barbaric sub-ensemble of jeans and a T Shirt (note the phrase’s ghastly syntactic and prosodic echoes of surf and turf, dinner and a movie, and N*****x and chill).  Such that when spectating on a dining room full of 1970s-clad dinner party guests in 2002 the ejaculation I at least inwardly permitted myself was not “Yikes/Yuck/Eek--how ’70s!” but “My, how gratifying and morale-boosting to see people dressing up for a change!”  And both these kleidungsgeistig tendencies—soixante-dixation and casualization—have seemingly only accelerated in the past fourteen years.  This bipartite acceleration is nowhere better instanced than in the sartorial mien of those who are styled hipsters by the general public—or, at any rate, by that public’s self-appointed surrogates, the journalists of the newspaper feuilleton sections and their interwebbial progeny.  Certainly as recently as twenty years ago and probably as recent as fifteen, the average feuilletonist-styled hipster was an affecter-cum-sporter of the adult fashions of the 1950s and early 1960s (as distinguished from the youth fashions of that microepoch—cardigans, poodle-skirts, bobby socks and the like [though an exemption must be granted to the so-called shirt-jack, a ’50s-originating young men’s upper-body garment much favored by male leads in such Generation-Xploitation movies as Reality Bites and Swingers and by the celebrated hipster-doofus, Cosmo Kramer of Seinfeld]), which generally meant, for women, a cocktail dress, pumps or high heels, and a bobbed medium-length hairdo, and for men a highly sober, funeral-worthy two-piece suit with a tie; in both cases a style of ensemble that stridently set one apart from the vast jeans and T-shirt-sporting (or, rather, merely wearing) mobility.  Now, by contrast, the average feuilletonist-styled hipster, whether male or female, dresses like an average 1970s teenager crossed with a roadie for the Allman Brothers—viz. in a tartan flannel long-sleeved shirt, or perhaps a short-sleeved tartan polyester-blend broadcloth shirt, or perhaps yet again, a tight-fitting cotton T-shirt advertising some band or other (and often enough, some 1980s synth-dirge ensemble whose mascara’d and garishly attired first generation of fans were generally taunted or even beaten up by people dressed like the present generation thereof), flared or ultra-tight jeans, and Converse All-Star (a.k.a. Chuck Connor) sneakers.  The difference between this hipster quasi-uniform and the essentially seventies-derived sartorial demotic is really quite marginal; such that one can now unreservedly say that in sartorial terms a certain strain of the seventies Kleidungsgeist, the casual strain thereof, has definitively triumphed at the expense of another strain thereof, the formal strain, such that provided the technical differences in production values are not too pronounced or obtrusive (again for more see “On the Golden Age of Telecast Videotape and 16mm Film”), the extent to which one perceives a movie or television show both hailing from and depicting the nineteen-seventies as either modern or old-fashioned will largely depend on the extent to which it concentrates its mis en scène on formal or informal settings and on young people or post-young adults.  If the artifact in question concerns itself with mildly to wildly disaffected suburban teenagers (I am thinking here of Meatballs and every Afternoon Special), one will be hard-pressed to distinguish it from a non-period-set Richard Linklater or Noah Bambach opus; if, on the other hand, it concerns itself with middle-aged Broadway or West-End actors (I am thinking here of John Cassavetes’s Opening Night and at least one Columbo mystery movie), in the course of a viewing one will often find oneself forgetting that it is not some Technicolor or Eastmancolor feature hailing from the 1950s.
But all this impersonal-cum-objective one-ing and it-ing must not be suffered to distract me from a fact of extraordinary germaneness to my argument—a fact that is indeed the very innermost Russian doll thereof—the fact, namely, that in recounting the vicissitudes of the CCFC, déjà vu, and the Proustian rush chez moi I am at bottom discussing a cluster of essentially subjective and personal phenomena (albeit phenomena that I believe to have implications for other subjects and persons, else I should not bother to recount their vicissitudes at all)—a cluster of phenomena that in the aggregate (or qua Gestalt) may be nominated the radical prosification-cum-simplification of my mental landscape.  To put none too fine a point on it (for the phenomenon-cluster in question certainly does not bear delineation by a 0.5-mm rollerball pen): there is altogether much less of a there there in that-there Geisteslandschaft than there used to be, many-to-not so many long-to-not so long years ago; and yet the missing there does not amount to anything I would like to see back in place, inasmuch as in hindsight it seems never to have amounted to anything substantial.  To describe the shift or change in a metaphor perhaps too twee for its own good (but to which a less potentially overtwee alternative metaphor regrettably fails to spring to my barren though not necessarily fallow mind [and in calling it barren though not necessarily fallow I am perhaps already giving too much of the game away]): it is not a matter of some formerly superabundantly lush naturally verdant forest that has been exfoliated to leave behind a scraggly collection of bare trunks, boughs, and branches (à la a certain passage in Ludwig Tieck’s William Lovell) but rather some sort of enchanted fairy-tale forest that has been shown up to have all along been a collection of vertical aluminum tubes fitfully festooned with plastic tinsel now that the dry ice machine has been turned off and its will-o’-the-wispish foggy exudations have evaporated.  It now seems that all along the world has been a much simpler, much less mysterious, much tidier place than I once supposed.  And such seeming to be the case, I now have little to no patience (not that I ever had massive lashings thereof) for any representation of the material infrastructure of human subjectivity that emphasizes its richness, resourcefulness, or complexity.  To be sure, the sheer ever-geometrically reburgeoning abundance of such representations, and their statistically unvarying provenance in the most respectable precincts of natural science, rather strongly and eloquently suggest that I should get with the program, not be stupid but rather a smarty, and jump on the bandwagon of neuronerdial richness-cum-resourcefulness-cum-complexity-fetishization.  But in all good faith I must ever so deferentially send the bandwagon on its boisterous juggernautish way down Main Street with a shake of my grizzled, Homburg-sporting head, not so much (or indeed at all) in consequence of any rational engagement with the bandwagoneers’ so-called cognitive models as out of an admittedly logically highly peccable sort of class-action ad hominem hunch that because natural scientists tend to make their so-called major breakthroughs at a relatively and indeed absolutely young age—viz. in their late twenties or early thirties (and hence at least slightly to the fore even of the Biblically allocated threescore years and ten, to say nothing of the present-day hopelessly Whiggish median of fivescore and twenty)—their laboratorial findings are not to be trusted, because in turn until one has turned 40 one is inclined by default, and indeed perhaps ineluctably, to plump for a complexity-rich interpretation of the world.  Certainly at least with respect to déjà vu I have a fairly formidable ally in Kingsley Amis, who in his early 70s (i.e., in the mid-1990s) described it as “a transient state, not uncommon among those under about forty.”  Admittedly, with respect to the Proustian rush I may seem to have an incredibly formidable enemy in Marcel Proust, but then one must remember that the novel-module in which the madeleine-bearing egg of the Proustian rush was hatched, Swann’s Way, was published in its author’s forty-third year, that the hatching takes place quite early on in that module and hence must have been committed to paper when the author was well shy of forty, and finally that the rush was already present (albeit via a piece of toast rather than a madeleine biscuit) in the manuscript of MP’s abortive novel Jean Santeuil, which he stopped working on at the age of 27 or 28.  In any case, it must be acknowledged that in the metaphysics-cum-poetics both implied and enacted by À la recherche the madeleine biscuit-incident is but a synecdoche for the general phenomenon of involuntary memory, under which must be subsumed any and every reminiscence that steals into one’s consciousness unbidden, no matter how bland and unintoxicating and hence un-rush-like that reminiscence may be.  And I certainly by no means would wish it to be understood that my newly acquired incapacity to experience Proustian rushes signalizes a general failure of my capacity to remember involuntarily, for that capacity would seem to be as active and fecund now as it ever has been chez moi; certainly I am as prone now as twenty years ago to be, say, reminded of the long-deceased actor and television game-show panelist Paul Lynde at the mention of a linden tree.  What I have lost is the capacity—or, rather inclination or impulse (for the thing lost is not a skill but rather something bespeaking a lack of skill)—to revel in my childhood memories of Paul Lynde qua dayglo-hued and utterly infungible pop-cultural phenomenon.  I now see Mr. Lynde for what he actually was, the player of a certain role—viz. that of the smart-assed, slightly washed-up middle-aged gay dude–that was after its own evanescent fashion as prosaically dye-cast, as sub-stereotypical, as that of Pierrot, Punch, or Harlequin and that was played with comparable if not superior aplomb by several of Mr. Lynde’s virtual-to-exact contemporaries, notably Liberace, Rip Taylor, and Charles Nelson Reilly.  Such being the case, the experience of involuntarily remembering Paul Lynde at the mention of a linden tree is now scarcely more rush-like than remembering to file a manila folder labeled “Lynde, Paul” in the third or “LO-RE” drawer of a four-drawer filing cabinet (in contrast to the ever-so-heady rush-heavy old days of my pre-middle age, when, to extrapolate the present metaphor to its admittedly nutty alexia-ridden conclusion, I might have been hard [yet at the same time ecstatically]-pressed to know which of the four drawers to file it in).  And mutatis mutandis that now seems to be the case with virtually every involuntary memory experience: my mind now seems to contain a precisely indexed slot or pigeonhole for every involuntarily elicited memory-trace, a slot or pigeonhole into which that trace is slotted or pigeonholed seemingly within microseconds of being reflexively recollected.  And it seems to me that the metaphoric vehicle of the pigeonhole is not merely an apt but an overdetermined one for this phenomenon—this, in the first place, because it has for some time (years? decades? a century or so?) been the MV of choice for people wishing to assert their supposed infungibility in the face, teeth, or less family-friendly body part of supposedly utterly misplaced and malevolent attempts to funge them, as in the following pair of demurrals: “I resent your hetero-stroke-homonormative attempt to pigeonhole me as gay, as I am neither gay nor straight but non-binary or gender queer” and “I resent your anthroponormative attempt to pigeonhole me as a non-binary or gender-queer human, inasmuch as I am non-human-specific-polymorphic, or species-queer.”  Everyone everywhere now on the evil demiurge’s brown earth has an abhorrence of being pigeonholed, under the pretext that the pigeonhole into which he, she, aut. al has been shunted (or slotted) is too confining, too constrictive, of his, her, aut al.’s burgeoning infungible essence, and yet upon flying from such a pigeonhole he, she, aut al. all too quickly alights upon and nestles within an effectively even more constrictive pigeonhole—I say effectively more constrictive because, while nominally widening the flier’s compass of self-identification, in being more taxonomically exclusive (and innovative) it distinguishes him, her, aut al. more starkly, more stridently, from the general human community, such as it is.  So even in the God-awful hyperparochial context of the opinion of the general community, such as it is, the joke or pigeon-poo is on them.  But at the hyper-cosmopolitan level of what the present writer qua representative quadragenarian happens to think of them, the chief irony inheres in the mere fact of their being so presumptuous as to suppose themselves worthy of escaping from the dovecote altogether, of turning up their noses or beaks at being accommodated even in the most spacious and luxurious, the very Plaza Hotel penthouse suite, of pigeonholes, given that my quadragenarian’s fund of experience seems unequivocally to indicate (seems because as Hume reminds us, inductive extrapolation of future events from past events has no a priori epistemological warrant, unequivocally because this particular extrapolation is no less epistemologically secure than, say, the prognosis of an as-yet-untreatable degenerative illness) that come what may, sooner or later, willy-nilly, everyone and everything in this world ends up in quite a secure pigeonhole—secure in the sense that the involuntary pigeonholer has no reason to expect to learn anything germane or salient enough about the person or thing to release him or her therefrom.  Admittedly, there can be and almost certainly already have been exceptions to this tendency—in other words, moments at which one discovers something about a person or thing that renders that person or thing less pigeonhole-worthy, less rather than more exemplary of a certain type.  For all I know, I may discover some facet of Paul Lynde’s biography that reveals him to have been something more than a mid-twentieth century commedia dell’arte figure–and, no, I am not thinking here of a discovery that he was, say, a generous contributor to some hyper-recherché charity or a collector of the works of this or that hyper-recherché artist, for such biographemes are par for the course among second-and-third-tier post-early-twentieth-century celebrities; I am thinking, rather, of a discovery that he was, say, a highly ranked chess grand master who once beat Bobby Fischer in the semifinals of a Midwestern regional tournament, or, say, a master costume designer who turned to acting only after being narrowly edged out of his métier by William Travilla, and thereby prevented from establishing the signature look of Marilyn Monroe.  Such a discovery would indeed administer a salutary jostle to the dovecote and at least momentarily allow me to nurture the hope that the world is a much more interesting place than I have recently been led to believe.  But I do not expect to make such a discovery about Mr. Lynde because, although, as mentioned above, I almost certainly have made such discoveries about other people and things, my failure to call to mind a single such discovery by name suggests that such discoveries are quite rare events chez moi now-cum-recent-adays.  Admittedly, I scarcely improve my odds of making such salutary discoveries in refraining from G*****ing the names of people (including Mr. Lynde) about whom I am casually curious, but it is far more salutary for my mental hygiene for me to continue to be able to entertain the possibility of making such discoveries by remaining ignorant of the more recondite biographemes of such people than to have such a possibility forestalled by learning that these people are but so much gratuitous additional grist for the pigeonhole mill, which those selfsame recondite biographemes almost invariably now and recently show and have shown them up to be.  “Grist for the pigeonhole mill, indeed?  Could a gaucher—or, rather, I suppose plus gauche—mixture of metaphors be imagined?”  No, I dare say not, my as yet-comparatively-and-one-hopes-permanently docile seventh or eighth DGR, but I durst not risk the (N)SPCA citation that the appalling horrificness of the image whose up-conjuring would have been necessitated by my rigorously following through with the implications of the pigeonhole metaphor might very well have elicited.  And in any case, the granular and almost powdery texture of the grist affords me an excellent transition to my second place in illustration of the aptness of the pigeonhole metaphor, inasmuch as that texture is roughly consubstantial with that of the ashes which are the raison-d’être and residence of a certain structure known in English as a columbarium, and so known because of its ineluctably strong resemblance to a dovecote, that high-rise apartment building for doves or columbae.  How apt, how fitting, how seemly, it is that as I continue my own ineluctable progress towards death my fatuous, strutting, self-preening, and only nominally fellow-inhabitants of this sublunary globe should be consigned in ever greater numbers to such a structure, and consigned thereunto in ever-more-fungible forms, such that a decade or two hence, if I am fortunate enough to survive that long as an animate featherless biped, I may indeed quasi-enjoy the dubious pleasure of regarding each and every one of these nominally fellow-inhabitants as nothing better than or substantially different from a heap of ashes that might as well have been consigned to the less intellectually costly destination of a common grave or digesting pit had I only known better during those comparatively green years of my late thirties when ground was broken, so to speak, on the (metaphorical yet very real) building site of the (metaphorical yet very real) columbarium.  “And how apt, how fitting, how seemly will be your own consignment to the literal and obviously very real version of such a structure very soon after your quasi-enjoyment of that dubious pleasure!”  And from what unfathomably deep and unbearably grotty digesting pit have you fetched the putrescent shinbone of an idea that I am cheerfully resigned to being incinerated and interred in a columbarium after my biological death?  “Why, from none whatsoever, MDF.  I just figured that, you know, surely what’s good for the pigeon hen is good for, the, erm pigeon cock.”  As it very well may be, but even within the terms of this mini-conceit I am neither a pigeon hen nor a pigeon cock—“Oh, I see, you mean you’re a pigeon gender queer or non-binary.”  No—I mean, rather, that—at least so far, and according to my own lights—in contrast to the seemingly ever-increasing majority of my nominally fellow-sublunary-globe inhabitants I am not conceptually reducible to a heap of ashes now, during my biological lifetime, and that hence (among other reasons) I quite fervently hope and aspire not to be reduced to a literal, material heap thereof after my biological death.  “So you are planning on having your body cryogenically frozen?”  No, I am not—or at any rate, I am not going to insist on having it cryogenically frozen.  “Ah, yes, because of the enormous and fundamentally (in two more or more senses of the adverb) gratuitous expense entailed by going the, erm, whole hog.  You will be content with merely having your disembodied head frozen in preparation for its eventual attachment to some specially constructed cyborgial torso-cum-limbs or (perhaps even better yet) the remains of some fellow, fellowess, aut al. unfortunate enough to have been decapitated in a motoring accident or in some doubtless all-too-expedient revival of capital punishment by guillotine.”  No, I am not, because as already explained at (ideally if not empirically) adequate length, I conceive myself to be both ontologically and phenomenally inalienable from my body, torso, limbs, etc. (![?]) and all, such that the notion of the revival of my head atop the natural torso, limbs, etc. of another person (or the artificial torso-cum-limbs, etc. [?{!}] of a non-person) is abhorrent to me.  On the other hand—by default my ontologically and phenomenally alien one—cryogenic freezing of my entire body not only cap-a-pie but also inside and out and from sternum to buttock strikes me as gratuitous not principally on account of the expense (although that is certainly nothing at which to sternutate) but because, as also as already explained at (ideally if not empirically) adequate length, the preponderance of the inner contents of this body of mine are phenomenally unknown to me, hence ontologically associable with me only by inference (i.e., by comparison with bodies other than my own but broadly resembling it), and further hence only equivocally contributive to the constitution of the entity that I call I, me, myself, and last and probably most, Douglas Robertson.  “Still, what’s the alternative?  It’s not exactly an à la carte menu, is it, cryogenic freezing?”  No, but certain other corporopreservative methods effectively are.  “Certain other corporopreservative methods, such as…?”  …Well, mummification for one.  “Mummification?  Are you for real?  If so let us set the space-time coordinates of our TARDIS-hearse for the Valley of the Kings, Egypt, ca. 1,300 B.C.(E.)”  And why would we need to do that?  Mummification has been practised much more recently than 1,300 B.C.(E.)  “Yes, but not in the modern West.”  Why you’re quite the unabashed occidental chauvinist pig.  In any case, you’re mistaken.  Scads of Westerners have been mummified in modern times.  Probably most famous among these is the Father of Utilitarianism (and hence of every strain of degenerate Whiggism, including neuro-nerdism, that has plagued us since his demise), Jeremy Bentham.  “As I understand it, it is only Mr. Bentham’s head that was ever properly mummified, and the ‘mummy’ on display at University College is actually a mere skeleton.”  Yes, well, I remember having heard something of the kind myself.  But what of it?  At least Mr. Bentham was on the right track in wanting there to be a firm continuity between his prehumous and posthumous existence, and by requiring his executors to keep his skeleton visible above ground, sitting upright, and attired in his own clothing (which, after a certain fashion, may have been more tightly ontologically bound to him than many a feature of his living, blood-imbued body [certainly I cannot picture Mr. Bentham as attired in anything but the double-breasted rust-colored tailcoat, low-buttoned breeches, frill-fronted shirt, and high-crowned, broad-brimmed straw {or at least straw-colored} hat sported by his so-called auto-icon; nor, though it was doubtless(ly) also sported by tens of thousands of his contemporaries, can I associate that decidedly odd get-up equally partially evocative of a mid-eighteenth-century Quaker and a Regency fop with anybody other than Mr. Bentham  {the locus classicus of such seeming ontological inalienability of clothing is of course Abraham Lincoln, who is virtually unimaginable denuded of  his all-black full-Victorian suit and black stovepipe hat (incidentally, I am aware that this version of of ontological inalienability is indefensible in strict Kripkean terms, given that it is ontologically conceivable that Jeremy Bentham should have stuck to the high-Augustan costume of his youth and that Abraham Lincoln should never have been properly breeched and therefore never accustomed himself to swapping women’s frocks for men’s frock coats)}]) he unequivocally signified that such continuity required the safeguarding not only of the head qua seat of intellection and expression but also of the skeleton, the core of the body qua self-contained, self-supporting unit—i.e., not the mere vague, quiescent assemblage of bones to which it eventually would have been reduced by a conventional interment.  I personally, vis-à-vis my own prospects of ontological continuity, find that the Benthamite plan does not go quite far enough—this because, as already implied, I am both constitutionally and philosophically disinclined to separate the ontological from the phenomenal aspects of my me-ness (not to be confused with my perhaps equally ontological and phenomenal [not to mention moral] meanness); such that I want as much as possible of my corporeal self as I perceive to be real to survive as part of the posthumous self-supporting whole; hence, ideally, I should like to preserve my skin and muscles, even if in a form nearer akin to pork rinds and beef jerky, respectively, than to the at least relatively tender and supple, Lebensaft-infused integument and pulp (respectively) with which I have the privilege to be on such intimate terms—nay, to call a part of my me-ness—at present.  But as for my viscera—well, supposing they exist at all (and failing some especially gruesome accident or torture-session I shall ever remain agnostic on this point) on their score, I am indeed as blithely indifferent to them as most people (i.e., the above-mentioned “rogues-cum-blockheads”) affect to be about their own bodies en bloc: as far as I am and shall be concerned, these organs can go straight into the dumpster, incinerator, compost heap, or witherever else my embalmer chooses to put them.  “And do you really not mind including your brain in this wanton sacrifice to contingency?”  Oh, yes, I do indeed mind it to the same degree and after the same fashion that I mind stepping on the cracks of the sidewalk or not being blessed after sternutating, which is to say that, having grown up in a brain-fetishizing age-cum-milieu, I venture to guess that I shall always have some trouble dissociating myself from the brain-fetishizing superstition.  Such that I firmly and indeed hysterically reject any forthcoming waggish proposals to put my enlightened post-brain-fetishizing outlook to the test by, say, having the top of my prehumous skull (although here it is at least as much the prospective violation of my phenomenally-cum-ontologically demonstrable head as the prospective annihilation of its phenomenally-cum-ontologically undemonstrated contents that makes the scheme objectionable) cut off.  For all that, I do ultimately regard brain-fetishizing (there has got to be a more scholarly-looking word for this, but at least on the more upmarket Greek side the would-be neologist’s path seems to be impassably blocked by the ambiguity of ceph-, which can signify either the brain or the head, such that a more downmarket Latin alternative such as cerebrocentrism may have to do) as a superstition, and utterly ludicrous though I must seem to the majorité ecrasante of my immediate contemporaries who are reading this (i.e., in all empirical probability, four out of five persons) in thus regarding it, at the same time I rather strongly suspect that in the eyes of the majorité ecrasante of my slightly less immediate contemporaries, or even of my immediate contemporaries at a more advanced age, I shall seem to be a kind of latter-day Lord Monboddo advancing a farcically rudimentary version of a heretical theory (in his case that of biological evolution via the conjecture that human beings had once had tails) that by their day will have become well-nigh-universally received opinion under the auspices of its full-fledged form.  I suspect this because the drift of a significant, albeit as-yet-undominant, subcurrent of the Naturwissenschaftsgeistesfluss over the past decade has been decidedly antithetical to the prevailing tide of cerebrocentrism, thanks to the animal behaviorists, traditional and doubtless-still-official stalwart allies of the neuronerds, whose most recent so-called findings have administered a succession of hearty thwacks to the back-bottom of cerebrocentrism, a succession that will ultimately prove demoralizing to the significant and perhaps determinant extent that cerebral size and involution are hallmarks and mainstays of the cerebrocentric credo.  Certainly up until about ten years ago, I had been given to understand by every boffin by whom I had ever been buttonholed for a lecture on the subject that the bigger and more involuted (i.e. full of wrinkly coils) a brain was, the more cognitive power and subtlety (and by implication liveliness of consciousness) it was capable of.  So, for instance, each and every such boffin would swaggeringly and well-nigh-waistcoat armhole-thumbingly smugly aver that we humans had nothing whatsoever to fear from even the most intelligent of the primates, the gorillas and chimpanzees, because, despite their undeniably superhuman strength, the brainiest of these brutes will never be able even to distinguish his, her autc. (these are after all mere brutes)’s anus from a terrestrial depression on account of his, her, autc.’s comparatively smooth brain; only to switch on a dime to an attitude of well-nigh distal interphalangeal joint-pulverizing finger-biting timorousness whilst asserting that we humans could not but thank our lucky evolutionary-genetic dice-throwers that the dolphins had flippers instead of hands, because with brains as big and wrinkly as theirs, they doubtless(ly) would have us performing much more ingeniously degrading tricks than ringing bells and jumping through hoops if they had their druthers.  But lately, tout cela est foutu according to the boffins who tend to buttonhole me nowadays—in point of fact, according to these boffins, the very cleverest creatures in all of creation (tho’ I suppose they regard them as the most intellectually evolved evolutures in all of evolution) may turn out to be the virtually smooth-brained birds, the very class of critters whose noggin was (and, I suppose for the nonce, still is) the official byword for intellectual stultification and dimwittedness.  You see, these boffins assure me that parrots can not only mimic human speech but understand it and fashion sentences in it, that crows can use automobiles as nutcrackers and count up to a billion or so, give or take a hundred million, and that pigeons (“Again with the pigeons!”) can read books and run—or, rather (and better!) fly—circles round us when it comes to distinguishing a deceased human from a scarecrow or oversized kewpie doll; this from an animal with a brain so teensy-tiny and unprepossessing that if you caught sight of it (the brain not the animal) on your plate of spaghetti carbonara at the Olive Garden (other crap Italian restaurant chains are available, and other noble entrees thereat are applicable) you would assume that your waiter had lost control-cum-possession of his chewing gum.  “I’m not buying it.  The intellectual brilliance of the parrot I’m grudgingly willing to concede—’cos it’s a relatively big bird, and ingratiating oneself with as crusty an old salt as Long John Silver is no mean achievement, however achieved; that of the crow I’ll table for eventual consideration in deference to Poe (on the assumption that the raven is a kind of crow or vice-versa) and Hitchcock (on the assumption that most swarming-cum-roosting black birds are crows); but as for the pigeon…why, I have scarcely ever beheld a stupider creat, erm, evoluture!”  Only scarcely ever?  “Why, yes.  [Makes throwaway cattily disparaging remark about Joey Essex or some American quasi-equivalent.]”  Why, of course.  I should have guessed.  But why do you vouchsafe the poor pigeon no higher a position than upper bunk in the same shabby, ground-floor cold-water hole in the intellectual columbarium as the one occupied by Joey Essex or some American quasi-equivalent?  “Why, because—why, just look at them!  All they do is peck at breadcrumbs, swoop up and down en masse, and shit.  And they can’t even walk without jutting their heads forward in ludicrously synchronic lock-step with their footfalls.”  And how materially different would be the appraisal of the human mobility by some detached and extremely clever alien observer in the opening-paragraph-of-War of the Worlds-esque vein?  The swooping, swarming, and shitting are all, in descending order of figurativenss, observable in us, and as for the apparently involuntary pedally governed head-bobbing—well, I must ask you in all candor and frankness: is our universally avowedly involuntary pedally governed arm-swinging any less ridiculous?  “Yes, because in contrast to the head-bobbing, it serves a purpose, namely that of allowing us to retain our balance—” Balance-schmalance; I’m not buying it.  It strikes me as nothing more than yet another instance of the sort of metaphysically muddleheaded mumbo-jumbo promulgated by so-called natural so-called scientists that I’ve been inveighing against in at this here bl*g for the worse part of two decades.  I much more strongly suspect that the balance-centered argument is a rationalization concocted for the purpose of spiriting away the ridiculousness of the motion than that the motion serves any blessed or cussed purpose whatsoever.  For if there were anything in it (i.e., the B-C A), a person would topple over with the first step he or she (autc.) took while carrying an empty carrier bag in one hand and nothing in the other.  And I dare say one could ambulate effortlessly all day with one’s arms bound to one’s sides, or even across one’s chest in a straightjacket.  Mock not the unassuming pigeon, o graceless hominid, for even the wisest philosopher of thy wingless tribe is habitually in thrall to motions—tics, one might almost call them—no less laughable or otiose than columbinary head-thrusting.  And according to the animal behaviorists, the capacity for complex cognitive operations is still in evidence in evolutures with far tinier and less sophisticated brains than those of birds, in beastlings whose purported organs of thought can indeed scarcely be seen with the naked human eye (and hence would be at least texturally indistinguishable from the pepper flakes on a plate of spaghetti carbonara at your crap Italian chain restaurant of choice).  “What—fleas?”  Good guess—and I really must seek out the so-called literature on flea behavior, for the very existence of that venerable side-show attraction the flea circus suggests that they are likewise capable of complex cognition—but I was referring to ants.  “Oh, right—on account of the wondrously implex and intricate structure of their residences, their so-called cities.  Well as for that line of argument: hath not the celebrated and indeed well-nigh-legendary sociobiologist E. O. Wilson shewn that each of these so-called cities is the product of a kind of multi-organismic assembly mechanism of which each individual ant is merely effectively an utterly oblivious cog or gear?”  I don’t know, having never read anything by E. O. Wilson.  But I have learned via a radio interview with a scientist specializing in ant behavior (her name none too regrettably escapes me, but her words are etched ineffaced if not necessarily ineffaceably in my mind [or somewhere else instantly accessible to me]) that the everyday logistics of ant life are strongly dependent on ant-to-ant interactions that are visually indistinguishable (mutatis mutandis) from human-to-human interactions in analogous (or identical, MM) situations.  Say a lone—and possibly even lonesome—ant scout roving dozens or perhaps even hundreds of inches from the mound happens upon a fund of some much-needed ant resource—say a patch of that plant whose leaves germinate a fungus that they (or at least certain species of them) use as food.  What do you reckon she (and remember: apart from a few mound-bound drones they’re all shes [though if my hunch about ant consciousness is well-founded, I suppose certain cis-female she-ants may yearn to be drones as ardently as certain cis-female women yearn to be men]) then does?  “Why, I reckon she does nothing but make a beeline (please pardon the cross-pollination of metaphors) back to the mound, where presumably some pheromone automatically secreted by a scout upon her coming into contact with the plant in question instantly alerts all the other ants to the plant’s propinquity.”  She makes no such beeline and secretes no such pheromone; rather, she ambles back towards the mound but stops upon running into one of her fellow scouting mound-inhabitants, taps this other ant on the dorsal upper thorax with one of her frontmost pair of legs, points in the direction of the discovered resource-fund with that selfsame leg, and finally leads the other ant to the fund by simply walking back to it ahead of her.  We humans are always bragging so fulsomely about our enormous brains with their enormous frontal lobes, my radio scientist passionately perorated the above account (naturally there as here I was paraphrasing from memory); these ants have got none of that, and yet they can achieve the most sophisticated forms of social interaction.  It’s enough to make you ask yourself, ‘What are we actually doing with all this stuff inside our heads?’  Naturally-cum-doubtless, this intellectually redoubtable woman was much too much beholden to the neuronerdial ascendancy in virtue of her professional position to give outward expression to the answer she had naturally-cum-doubtless inwardly uttered in reply to her own question, but I, having no such position to maintain, am more than fain, happy, and indeed eager to cry that answer to the skies, thus: “PRESUMABLY SWEET FANNY ADAMS!”  If a teensy-tiny insect with a brain smaller than a pepper-flake—a brain certifiably possessed of no more electrical connections than that possessed by the microprocessor of the state-of-the-art model Macintosh computer of 1991 (a statistic I came across some twenty years ago while playing a game known as Sim Ant on a smugly state-of-the art Macintosh computer of 1994) meaning in turn, if Moore’s so-called law is to be believed, a processor more primitive than the ones in today’s five-dollar electronic greeting cards—can carry out all the non-verbal significative functions that we humans carry out, it is more than high time to suppose that the human brain is not all that it has been cracked up to be, that indeed its size and complexity may indeed be but a very trivial contributor to the complexity (such as it is) of our phenomenal or conscious experience.  And from the supposition of consciousness in critters with pepper flake-sized brains it is surely an easy transition to the supposition of consciousness in creatures with no brains at all—to plants and single-celled organisms.  Certainly, if the films of them that I have seen in high school biology class are to be regarded as accurate, while hardly behaving as clubbably towards their fellows as the ants, such animalcules—paramecia, euglenas, spermatozoa, and the like—do at least seem to evince a strong sense of motivational volition, of moving in this or that direction not out of some random and adventitious impulse, but rather out of a genuine desire to be in this or that place.  “Ah, but that’s just it you see: their apparent consciousness is expressed in motion, and that motion is a consequence of their being alive, in contrast to any corpse of any organism, whether brainless or not, from the hyper-minuscule cadaver of the dust mite of the bacterial world to the hyper-leviathan carcass of the biggest blue whale ever to have swum the ocean deeps.  And such being the case, I don’t see how you can plausibly maintain that a brainless mummy of your deceased person will be worth maintaining at the cost of any living person—even your present living self.”  OK, I admit you’ve got me there, DGR: even for a dyed-in-the-wool panpsychist such as the present writer, the utility of maintaining the brainless body qua prospective vessel of consciousness is a tough sell.  But is consciousness itself even all that it’s cracked up to be by comparison with existence?  Even supposing old (146-years-old and counting) V. I. Lenin, looking to this day every bit as hale and spruce and fleshy as on the day of his expiration (admittedly that may not be saying much), isn’t now dreaming or even capable of dreaming of the dictatorship of the proletariat from within his climate-controlled glass casket, isn’t he in a far more enviable position than his successor Stalin, who may or may not be buried just around the corner from his predecessor, depending on whether what is left of him now actually counts as the male human entity christened Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili in Gori, Georgia on December 18, 1878?  (Incidentally, if you are wondering why I didn’t cite Lenin rather than Bentham as my star modern mummy, it is because I was certain that Bentham had chosen to be mummified and prescribed the manner of his mummification.  That Lenin wanted to be mummified seems quite likely to me, but I have not so far heard that he explicitly asked to be.  Of course, the minute I do hear that, if I ever do, I shall begin setting the cutting and pasting engines of my reckoner to work giving the male human entity christened Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov on ca. April 14, 1870 his rightful mausoleal pride of place in this essay.)  Nay, is there not a kind of intrinsic dignity in remaining who or what one is regardless of what entity-class one belongs to?  Would it not be a wonderful thing to be one of the Great Pyramids, or the Great Wall of China, or the Parthenon, or even the Pantheon—in other words an entity tens of times older than the oldest living human being and at least slightly older than the oldest identifiable dead one (and by the “oldest identifiable dead one” I mean one who had already been baptized in the Kripkean sense time of his or her [and only his or her, for however people may have labeled themselves in past centuries, they were always labeled he or she by others] death; thus Lucy, the Tollund Man, and the like, do not count as identifiable, and I assume the oldest person who does is some pharaoh or other whose tomb was constructed while he was still living)?  And why need one’s self-identifactory longings stop at sublunary objects of terrestrial dimensions?  Can any of us seriously forbear envying the sheer size and antiquity of a planet the magnitude of Saturn or Jupiter, to say nothing of that mightiest and most ancient of all celestial named entities—and, indeed, conceivably, of all named entities tout court—the Sun (and yes, I do insist on capitalizing it, for while my 1990 Concise Oxford English Dictionary begrudges a capital ess to good old Sol’s most common English handle, I read this denial as symptomatic of the Whiggish natural science-humping tenor of the macroepoch)?  “Perhaps not, but if you’re going to start envying gigantic inanimate objects, why stop at the sun (or, if you insist, Sun)?  Wouldn’t it be more than a thousand times more enviable to be UY Scuti, the largest known star in the universe, and over a thousand times the size of the sun (or Sun)?”  No, it wouldn’t be, and chiefly not because “UY Scuti” ludicrously sounds like the nickname of a satellite campus of a provincial Canadian university (a campus sited in a town founded by Italian immigrants), but rather because the star of that name was not even discovered until 1860 and hence could not have enjoyed its Kripkean baptismal moment until a hundred and fifty-six years ago as against the half-dozen-odd thousand years ago in which the Sun was baptized as something that could not but have been phonemically very close to Sun by the proto-Indo Europeans; hence, further, however many milliards of years the astronomers may assure us UY Scuti has been in existence, in a so-but-not-improperly-called very real sense, an ontologically strict sense, it cannot but be but a tiny fraction of the age of the Sun.  And, indeed, it is hard to imagine any uniquely nameable entity—at least any still extant uniquely nameable entity—that is any older than the Sun in this ontologically strict sense.  “What, not even the Earth?”  Probably not, in the light of the Sun’s immediate in- toto apprehensibility, in contrast to the extraordinarily sluggish and piecemeal manner in which our forebears must have been obliged to become acquainted with the Earth.  In an ontologically strict sense the Sun would appear to be the limit of antiquity, and such seeming to be the case, it would also appear to be the limit of existence itself, inasmuch as it would appear to be metaphysically impossible to imagine wanting to be anything older or more numinous than the Sun.  And now that I have been vouchsafed this aperçue, this golden shaft of enlightenment, I am almost content to resign my body to the merciless mercies of all-annihilating contingency, knowing as I now do that this most ancient of named entities, the Sun, exists, and that existence itself, strictu senso, has its absolute horizon, so to speak, in this entity; for this piece of knowledge in turn assures me that the world, or the universe, or whatever else one cares to call it, is not, as philosophers and scientists both natural and unnatural have been assuring us for the past three centuries or so, something fundamentally alien to human conception, that it is fundamentally underwritten by that most cuddly and gemütlich of all human institutions or practices (or whatever else one cares to call it), namely the name, and that nothing ever will or even can survive the name’s sovereignty.  If nothing is or ever has been except in virtue of being named, then I need never fear the dissolution of my body, knowing as I do (or shall) that it is not going to be dispersed into a mere nameless void, as the natural and unnatural philosophers and scientists would have me believe, but rather into a cosmos ever and forever-rich with named entities, as one of which I shall always be privileged to have been.  But the salvational implications of Kripkean metaphysics would appear to extend far beyond the eschatology of li’l ol’ me.  This metaphysics would indeed appear to have performed nothing less revolutionary (albeit at the same time reactionary) than a second and more decisive Copernican turn in philosophy; more decisive, because the first, Kantian Copernican turn, while in principle permanently reducing the natural law-governed universe to dimensions apprehensible by the human sensorium, effectively abandoned it to the merciless mercies of the unnatural philosophers, the so-called scientists, who, inasmuch as their discoveries (or, rather, inventions) relied more and more heavily on conceptual schemata unintelligible in terms of the geometry, chemistry, physics, etc. of Kant’s day, eventually succeeded in transforming the fundamental phenomena of that natural-law governed universe into de facto numina or things-in-themselves—for who (in) the h*ck, after all, really knows what (in) the h*ck a quark or a neutrino or a muon or a gluon or schmuon is?  And it is as helpless and clueless chumps awash in an ever-rising flood of such unknowables that we are by default and are doomed to remain as long as we leave the reins of ontogenesis in the hands of the so-called scientists, as long as we unprotestingly allow them to insist to us that what appears to be is tantamount to what is.  If, on the other hand, à la Kripke we vouchsafe the ontogenetic first and last word to the baptismal name, we may at least succeed in making good, after a certain fashion, on a kind of salvo fired by a no less superficially un-Kripkean philosopher than Michel Foucault perhaps only minutes before Kripke delivered the Naming and Necessity lectures, a salvo that  indeed seems to have been aimed at the most reprehensible of sitting ducks, but that has never quite managed to hit its mark owing to the peculiarly clunky blunderbuss-like make of the gun—namely, the Foucauldian terminology, with its frowardly idiosyncratic employment of familiar words such as archive, discourse, and statement.  Talking of a nameless “such people” who insist on regarding their own utterances collectively as a kind of personal signature, as a guarantor and prospective memorial of their infungibly individual essence, Foucault writes (or wrote) in the concluding lines of his 1969 book the Archaeology of Knowledge: “They cannot bear (and one cannot but sympathize) to hear someone saying: ‘Discourse is not life: its time is not your time; in it, you will not be reconciled to death; you may have killed God beneath the weight of all that you have said; but don’t imagine that with all that you are saying, you will make a man that will live longer than he.’”  Here it should first of all be noted that at least in the context of this paragraph discourse means nothing more, less, or other than what has been said, and specifically the sum total (i.e., “all”) of what a certain set of people, these “such people,” have said.  (Of not much course, elsewhere in Foucault, and even elsewhere in the Archaeology, the concept of things said has quite a lot of non-straightforward overtonage, but that need not be taken into account here because Foucault in apparently differing from this locution, albeit ever so slightly, by writing what you have said [I write or say apparently because to be sure of the difference {or differance}, one would have to consult the original French, which I neither own nor can be a**ed to buy or scrounge up] cedes the hermeneutic high ground to an interpreter operating along straightforward lines.)  And the identity of these “such people” is well-nigh-couch-couscous-reachably near to seek, because the deicidal formula killed God is of course instantly evocative of Foucault’s hero Fred Nietzsche’s pithy necrology on or for the (for him late) supreme being, and we all know—or, at any rate, I gather I am safe in assuming in I know thanks to the unanimity of the miscellaneous Cliff’s Notes-like digests of Nietzsche I have browsed over the decades—that in Nietzsche’s view God had been killed off by all the so-(and in his view rightly, at least up to a point)called discoveries of the natural philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Boyle, Newton, et al.), together with their early-to-mid nineteenth-century successors, the so-called natural and social scientists (Darwin, Comte, et al.).  And it is indeed probably fair to say that with the things they have said these quacksalvers have succeeded in killing God off after a fashion—or, rather, that through what they have said they have succeeded in displacing God so far to the margins that he is as good as dead even for the supercommunity of theists (by which I mean that although the supercommunity of theists remains a large and doubtless ever-expanding agglomeration of persons, the intellectual high ground has long since been ceded to the so-called scientists by the clerisy of every faith.  Admittedly, an apocalyptic breakdown of the technological superapparatus that serves as a peremptory rod-of-Moses-esque pseudo-demonstration of the supposedly infallible Einsicht supposedly possessed by the quacksalvers [Land sakes alive! You mean to tell me them thar utterly inscrutable imaginary numbers control the workin’s o’ my humble li’ol ol’ superannuated I-Phone 9-g***golplex {seriously, Volker, won’t it be an amusingly awkward moment if, in the unlikely event of the non-supervention of the Apocalypse in the next decade, Apple ultimately has to avail itself of number-complexes immediately evocative of its chief rival?}? I reckon them thar scientific pig-f***ers are a deucedly canny passel o’ coves.”] may very well change that any day now [Land sakes alive!  You mean to tell me that now that the satellites is all incommunicado and the delivery drones is all grounded I cain’t even order an express chicken-tikka pizza from my favo(u)rite Pizza Express in downtown Jalandhar? I reckon I might as well sharpen me carving knife, build an altar, and keep me eyes peeled for a sacrificial goat kid].  But failing such a breakdown, or the sort of prima vista harebrained but ultimately eminently sane sort of h*ck-raising that I hope or at least vainly wish to incite via this essay, these charlatans’ ascendancy is guaranteed in virtual perpetuity regardless of how rapidly, or to however absolutely or relatively unprecedentedly hypergargantuan dimensions, the membership of any of the world’s churches or other faith-communities eventually swells—this because they, the charlatans, have effectively monopolized the baptismal font with the highest water-pressure; because, in other words, they can deluge us with new names at will, and at a rate with which no other font-holder—be it any church, or the law of any country, or even the marketing department of the most asset-swollen commercial corporation (whose own charlatanistic baptismal fonts, powerful as they are, are ultimately at the mercy of the scientistic charlatans’, much in the same manner as the natural gas or oil pipelines of certain countries are at the mercy of the pipelines of other countries closer to the fuel-source)–can ever hope to keep up.  “But is quality so invariably and ineluctably t*****d by quantity?  Are such venerable old-money names as the Law of Eminent Domain and Weetabix, and indeed God, to be trounced so expeditiously and definitively by such nouveau-riche, Johnny-come-lately bounders of names as the Selfish Gene, Dark Matter and our by now relatively old friend or bugbear UY Scuti?”  By no means, but nothing short of a radical reorientation of the entire human r**e’s orientation towards the name can ever secure these older, more upmarket names the reverence they deserve.  In the first place, people must be brought to see that the Selfish Gene, Dark Matter, UY Scuti, et al. aut etc. are merely named entities both enjoying and suffering roughly exact metaphysical parity with their humble human friends or enemies Phil Jenkins in marketing, Suzy Pembroke in accounting, and indeed Bob Focckuck in quantity surveying (I say rough parity because, as explained above, the older a named entity is, the greater its metaphysical edge over competing named entities, and it is extremely likely that, for example, Phil, Suzy, and Bob were all named slightly less recently than Dark Matter but quite a bit more recently than UY Scuti).  In the second, and somewhat more problematic(al)—because superficially but nonetheless materially counterproductive (because prima vista-scientistic charlatan-humping) place, they must be brought to see that God is not a named entity inasmuch as there has been no baptismal moment at which some dude, dudess, aut al. pointed at the entity subsequently known as God and called him, her, aut al. God—or, rather, inasmuch as there have been scads of such baptismal moments, but that they have long since been invalidated by the observation that the powers and attributes of a sovereign deity (e.g., or perhaps i.e., omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, and omnitemporality) are not very plausibly ascribable to the cigar store I****n-esque hunks of carved wood that people have elected to name God or some God-equivalent such as Bel or Baal.  Once or if both these operations have been effected, each human individual will finally be able to sort out both his or her own place and the places of his or her fellow named entities in the grand metaphysical hierarchy-cum-narrative-cum metanarrative: to realize that he or she himself or herself might have done and been known for doing any number of things regardless of what he or she has in fact done or is now known for doing; that each of his or her dearest friends and most abhorred  enemies is likewise exempt from inalienable and essential association with the contingent facts of his or her biography; that owing to both the prospective posthumous continuity of his or her organism and the inevitable survival of his or her name qua infungible testifier to his or her inexpugnable entityhood, his or her biological death will in many ways be but the beginning of his or her existence; that no amount of future baptismal skullduggery on the part of the unnatural scientistic charlatans will ever deprive him or her, or any of his or her other fellow already-named entities, of that dignity.  Once and only once each and every one of us has come to each and all of these realizations will we perhaps be in a philosophically cogent position to contemplate the possible existence—past, future, or counterfactual—of a world or universe enfranchised from the both glorious and terrible dominion of the name.  But we mustn’t count our eschatological-utopian chickens before they are hatched, and hence still awaiting their baptismal moment—at least at present in the jurisdiction of this writing; nor may we suffer ourselves to forget that one, albeit only one, other brand of metaphysics than Kripke’s is both available and entertainable.

THE END