I am a graduate student in diplomatic and international history at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am interested in power and how it is constituted. As such, I am also interested economic, financial, military, strategic, scientific, technological and ideological history. I probably would have been a political science student and worked in international relations theory if I didn’t find their literature theoretically overly determined and empirically flimsy.
As an undergraduate, I studied philosophy and computer science at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
Metaphysically, I am materialist, meta-ethically anti-realist, relativist, anti-metaphysics. I favor the flat ontologies of object-oriented ontology and assemblage theory.
Political-ideologically I consider myself Hobbesian, ordoliberal, Keynesian, neo-realist, liberal internationalist, pluralist, progressive, meliorist, humanist, cosmopolitan.
Personal, Per Se
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I currently live in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
I’m a booze hound and an enthusiast of the craft cocktail revival. My spirits of choice are whiskey and gin. I am also extremely fond of apéritifs sweet vermouth, Campari and Cynar.
Marching Under Banners
The title of this blog comes from Dante’s Inferno, book III, lines 31-57 (trans. Robert and Jean Hollander), the ‘neutrals’ outside the gates of Hell:
And I, my head encircled by error, said:
‘Master, what is this I hear, and what people
are these so overcome by pain?’
And he to me: ‘This miserable state is born
by the wretched souls of those who lived
without disgrace yet without praise.
‘They intermingle with that wicked band
of angels, not rebellious and not faithful
to God, who held themselves apart.
‘Loathed to impart its beauty, Heaven casts them out,
and depth of Hell does not receive them
lest on their account the evil angels gloat.’
And I: ‘Master, what is so grievous to them,
that they lament so bitterly?’
He replied: ‘I can tell you in few words.
‘They have no hope of death,
and their blind life is so abject
that they are envious of every other lot.
‘The world does not permit report of them.
Mercy and justice hold them in contempt.
Let us not speak of them look and pass by.’
And I, all eyes, saw a whirling banner
that ran so fast it seemed as though
it never could find rest.
Behind it came so long a file of people
that I could not believe
death had undone so many.
The perfect punishment for those who took up no side in the conflict of Heaven and Hell: forced to march under banners for all eternity (As Beelzebot says in Futurama, each sin is matched to “an agonizing and ironic punishment” [“Hell Is Other Robots“, season 1 episode 9]).
The banner image is Sandro Botticelli’s illustration of the Eighth Circle (Malebolge) Fifth Bolgia, Punishment of the Corrupt, Ciampolo’s Escape (Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett), from Sandro Botticelli: The Drawings for Dante’s Divine Comedy (pgs. 96-99). Book III and the neutrals are not a popular subject of illustration for those taking The Divine Comedy as their subject. Neither Botticelli, Gustave Doré nor John Flaxman portrayed it. William Blake did, but I am not partial to his color palette.