Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Meet the Worst Judge in America







[...]

To some, the answer may seem a no-brainer. The worst judge has to be one whose last name is Scalia, Thomas or Alito—the three jurisprudential horsemen of the right-wing apocalypse unfolding term by term at the Supreme Court. 

To others, the search for the worst may extend beyond the nation’s highest tribunal to the lower rungs of the national judiciary.

Perhaps the worst is Judge Priscilla Owen of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who specialized in representing oil and gas industry interests as an attorney in Houston and was appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush in 2001. Owens authored the recent 5th Circuit opinion overturning a lower court ban on a provision of the new omnibus Texas abortion law that requires doctors performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Or perhaps the search should range even more widely and focus on federal District Court trial judges, such as Loretta A. Preska, the New York-based jurist who recently sentenced Anonymous-affiliated activist Jeremy Hammond to a 10-year prison term, possibly the harshest penalty ever imposed for the offense of computer hacking.

All of the above would be excellent choices. My nominee, however, is Judge Diane S. Sykes, who sits on the 7th Circuit, which covers the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and is headquartered in Chicago.

In a 154-page split 2-1 decision handed down Nov. 8, Sykes authored the majority opinion in which she invoked the doctrine of corporate personhood—which she characterized as being “reinvigorated” by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign finance law—to invalidate the contraception mandate of Obamacare. How she managed to do so was nothing short of an exercise in judicial fantasy rivaling the most unhinged of Antonin Scalia’s rants against gay marriage, albeit without his flare for vitriol. 

The Obamacare case came before Sykes as a consolidated appeal involving separate complaints filed against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius by an Illinois construction company with 90 full-time employees and an Indiana manufacturer of safety and lighting systems operating both in this country and abroad with 464 full-time U.S. employees. 

The Catholic owners of both closely held businesses argued that Obamacare’s mandate requiring inclusion of contraception benefits in their employee health care plans violated both the individual owners’ and the companies’ constitutional and statutory rights to the free exercise of religion.

Despite the fact that both businesses engaged in for-profit activity, Sykes concluded, citing Citizens United, that the term “person” includes corporations and as such, the businesses were “persons” whose religious rights not to practice or promote birth control were protected under the Constitution and an obscure piece of legislation—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, a Clinton-era statute designed to protect religious liberty. Never mind that nothing about Obamacare forces anyone to practice birth control. Still, under Sykes’ ruling, if the employees of either company wanted contraception services, they had better look elsewhere.

In a pointed dissent, Judge Ilana Rovner wrote that Sykes’ opinion represented “an unprecedented and unwarranted re-conception of … what the free exercise of religion entails,” transferring “a highly personal right to a secular corporation” via “a man-made legal fiction.”

If the Obamacare ruling had been Judge Sykes’ first foray through the right-wing judicial looking glass she would hardly have made the final cut in the contest for the nation’s worst judge. But the Obamacare case is only one of many.

A Bush appointee to the 7th Circuit, the 56-year-old Sykes is the former spouse of Milwaukee right-wing radio personality Charlie Sykes and a prominent member of the Federalist Society. 

As a state judge in Milwaukee County, she presided over a 1993 case in which two protesters with long rap sheets were found guilty of blocking access to a reproductive health facility. 

Compelled by law to impose brief jail terms, Sykes went out of her way during sentencing to praise the defendants for having “the courage of [their] convictions and for the ultimate [anti-abortion] goals” they sought to further.


[...]



Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Pervert’s Guide to Slavoj Žižek



Words: Jack Brindelli
Speaking frankly, as is his custom, Slavoj Žižek said in a 2011 Guardian interview, “most of the left hates me even though I am supposed to be one of the world’s leading communist intellectuals.” Two years on, with the DVD release of The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, the shape of the British left might be changing (the SWP who fiercely criticised him for his words on an old Russian proverb regarding the horrors of rape, have effectively collapsed because of their actions regarding rape accusations in their own party) but the collective disdain remains. And whilst of course, we should always be willing to have conversations with even the loftiest of figures when they take problematic lines on any subject, there is something opportunistic about the way the orthodox left have approached this in writing off Žižek and his methods entirely.
In his previous screen outing, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, Žižek looked at the implications of Chaplin’s Great Dictator on anti-fascism, utilised the Marx brothers to explain Freudian theory, and usedThe Matrix to illustrate how illusion and reality may often be inextricably linked. If it is possible to believe, his latest project is even grander. This time, Žižek turns his unique brand of philosophy and theatrical panache on deconstructing ‘common sense’ ideas and exposing them as constructs of capitalist ideology.
From sitting aboard a plane bound for Nazi Germany in a Riefenstahl propaganda piece, to staging his own icy death in Titanic, the Slovenian radical makes his sequel engaging and often hilarious. He examines everything from the London riots to Rammstein gigs, in order to show how ideology shapes our world, and how it might be challenged. By looking into the assumptions and contradictions of widely known and loved culture, he not only flags up “the dictatorship in liberal democracy”, but creates an accessible framework for doing so – so that people who didn’t come out of the womb clutching a copy of Kapital might even find it interesting!
So why does the man remain so polarising to the left? Observing the widespread snobbery directed at Russell Brand after his now infamous Paxman interview, it is perhaps easy to work out why the left’s hostility toward Žižek persists. It seems for a broad swathe of the left’s hierarchy, socialism, the ideology of the ordinary people, is conversely not something that should be easily accessible. It’s a position you should arrive at after intense study of voluminous texts and hyper verbose, po-faced lecturing. So when somebody cracks jokes whilst arguing for radical change, or when somebody uses film and popular culture to explain Marxism to the masses, they are often charged with a “lack of genuine analysis” and with trivialising the almost sacred institution of dusty academia.
But this is precisely what makes Žižek so compelling to watch – and so important as a philosopher. He has a fantastic grasp of Lacanian jargon, well-honed anti-capitalist rhetoric and all the fashion sense of a blind, inebriate Oxbridge Professor. And yet, he doesn’t play it safe, consigning himself to some buttoned down monastery like so many other leftist thinkers. On the contrary, he continuously enters realms of mass culture to interface with millions of people, many of whom may totally disagree.
His work often delves into areas considered too vulgar for other Marxist academics to dirty their hands with. The established left commonly write these subjects off as “bourgeois distraction” at the best of times, preferring instead the safety of the academic enclave, or engage with them as a token gesture at worst, with ‘working man speak’ in their papers mirroring the Mockney of Chas and Dave. Yet cinema, sport, music, comedy, these contain ample opportunities to challenge the economic system that is the base of these aspects of civil society – and to do so on a level millions of people can relate to.
What Žižek shows us, is that things like cinema do embody many ideological myths that we are brought up within capitalism thinking to be natural occurrences, to be ‘reality’. Obviously it is not enough to simply point to the fallacies before you expect revolution. However, lefties the world over should be engaging with and analysing mass entertainment rather than avoiding it! Because when they do, it becomes a tool to show these constructs for what they are – no more natural than the fictions flickering across a screen. From there, anything can be challenged.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

JOKES




Do you hate your job?
There’s a support group for that.
It’s called everybody.
And it meets at the bar.

—Drew Carey








Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day…
Is that fair to anyone who’s alone?
Those are all days when you’ve got to be with someone.
If you didn’t get around to killing yourself during Christmas or New Year’s,
Boom! There’s Valentine’s Day.
I think there should be one more holiday after Valentine’s Day,
just for the stragglers.
And it should be called “Who Could Love You?”

—Laura Kightlinger








A doctor tells a guy, “I have bad news.
You have Alzheimer’s, and you have cancer.”
Guy says, “Thank God I don’t have cancer.”

—Roseanne









I like parties, but I don’t like piñatas
because the piñata promotes violence
against flamboyant animals.
“Hey, there’s a donkey with some pizzazz.
Let’s kick its ass.”
What I’m trying to say is,
don’t make the same
Halloween costume mistake that I did.

—Demetri Martin






You don’t know anything about pain
until you’ve seen your own baby drown in a tub.
And you definitely don’t know anything
about how to wash a baby.

—Anthony Jeselnik






A BRUNETTE, A REDHEAD & A BLONDE all worked in the same office with the same female boss. Every day, they noticed their boss left work early.

One day, the girls decided that when the boss left, they'd leave right behind her. After all, she never called in or came back to the office when she left early, so how was she to know?

The next day, they all three left the office right after the boss left. The brunette was thrilled to be home early. She did a little gardening and went to bed early.

The redhead was elated to be able to get in a quick workout at the health club before meeting her dinner date.

The blonde was happy, happy, happy to be home, but when she got to the bedroom she heard a muffled noise from inside. Slowly, quietly, she cracked open the door and was mortified to see her husband in bed with HER BOSS.

Ever so gently, she closed the door and crept out of her house. The next day at coffee break, the brunette and redhead decided they were leaving early again, and asked the blonde if she was coming with them.

"NO WAY," she exclaimed, "I almost got caught yesterday"










I went on a job interview.
The lady asked me if I’d pass a drug test.
I said, “Yeah, if it’s written.”
Then she was like, “You’re going to need to pee in a cup.”
I said, “I’m going to need a month to study for it.”

I also joined a gym recently.
The guy who showed me around was so excited it was open 24 hours.
He was like, “You can work out at 3:00 in the morning!”
I told him, “Dude, if you see me in here at 3:00 am, call an ambulance,
because I’ve been trapped under a piece of equipment for several hours.”

—Gary Vider










Donald Trump is not just a rich man.
He’s what a hobo imagines a rich man to be.
It’s like Trump was walking through an alley
and he heard a guy living there say,
“Boy oh boy. As soon as my number comes in,
I’m going to put up tall buildings with my name on them.
I’ll have fine golden hair.
And a TV show where I fire people with my children.”
And Trump said, “That is how I will live my life.
Thank you, hobo, for that life plan.”
I bet whenever Trump has to make a decision,
he asks himself, “What would a cartoon rich person do?”
Put up billboards with your face everywhere? That’s a good idea.
Donald Trump won’t run for President.
He’ll just announce one day that he is President.

—John Mulaney







By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing…kill yourself.
No, no, it’s simply a little thought.
I’m just trying to plant seeds.
Maybe one day, they’ll take root—I don’t know.
You try, you do what you can.

Kill yourself.

Seriously, though. If you are, do.
There’s no rationalization for what you do
and you are Satan’s little helpers.
Kill yourself—seriously.
You are the ruiner of all things good.
No, this is not a joke.

You’re going, “There’s going to be a joke coming.”

There’s no fucking joke coming.
You are Satan’s spawn
filling the world with bile and garbage.
You are fucked, and you are fucking us.
Kill yourself—seriously.
It’s the only way to save your fucking soul.
Kill yourself.
Planting seeds.

I know all the marketing people are going, “He’s doing a joke.”

There’s no joke here whatsoever.
Suck a tailpipe, fucking hang yourself, borrow a gun.
I don’t care how you do it.
Rid the world of your evil fucking makinations.
Machi…Whatever, you know what I mean.
I know what all the marketing people are thinking right now.

“Oh, you know what Bill’s doing,
he’s going for that anti-marketing dollar.
That’s a good market, he’s very smart.”

Oh man, I am not doing that, you fucking evil scumbags!

“Ooh, you know what Bill’s doing now,
he’s going for the righteous indignation dollar.
That’s a big dollar. A lot of people are feeling that indignation.
We’ve done research—huge market. He’s doing a good thing.”

Goddamn it, I’m not doing that, you scumbags!
Quit putting a goddamn dollar sign
on every fucking thing on this planet!

“Ooh, the anger dollar. Huge. Huge in times of recession.
Giant market. Bill’s very bright to do that.”

God, I’m just caught in a fucking web.

“Ooh, the trapped dollar. Big dollar, huge dollar.
Good market. Look at our research.
We see that many people feel trapped.
If we play to that and then separate them into the trapped dollar…”

How do you live like that?
And I bet you sleep like fucking babies at night, don’t you?
“What didya do today, honey?”
“Oh, we made, ah, we made, ah, arsenic
a childhood food now, goodnight.” (snores)
“Yeah, we just said, you know, is your baby
too loud? You know?” (snores)
“Yeah, you know the mums will love it.” (snores)
Sleep like fucking children, don’t ya?
This is really your world, isn’t it?

—Bill Hicks











Saturday, November 9, 2013

Trotsky quotes?

“Spread love and understanding. Use force if necessary.”

“If you cannot acquaint a fascist with reason, you must acquaint his head with the sidewalk.”


[See Never Go Back, by Lee Child (pp. 193-4).  Even if Trotsky never exactly said both of these things, the novelist Lee Child is doing something right!]

Paul Krugman, "The Mutilated Economy"




The Mutilated Economy
By Paul Krugman, The New York Times
08 November 13

Five years and eleven months have now passed since the U.S. economy entered recession. Officially, that recession ended in the middle of 2009, but nobody would argue that we've had anything like a full recovery. Official unemployment remains high, and it would be much higher if so many people hadn't dropped out of the labor force. Long-term unemployment - the number of people who have been out of work for six months or more - is four times what it was before the recession.

These dry numbers translate into millions of human tragedies - homes lost, careers destroyed, young people who can't get their lives started. And many people have pleaded all along for policies that put job creation front and center. Their pleas have, however, been drowned out by the voices of conventional prudence. We can't spend more money on jobs, say these voices, because that would mean more debt. We can't even hire unemployed workers and put idle savings to work building roads, tunnels, schools. Never mind the short run, we have to think about the future!

The bitter irony, then, is that it turns out that by failing to address unemployment, we have, in fact, been sacrificing the future, too. What passes these days for sound policy is in fact a form of economic self-mutilation, which will cripple America for many years to come. Or so say researchers from the Federal Reserve, and I’m sorry to say that I believe them.


[...]



JOKES


A guy shows up late for work.
His boss yells “You should have been here at 8:30!”
The guy replies: “Why? What happened at 8:30?”




I always look for a woman who has a tattoo. I see a woman with a tattoo, and I’m thinking, okay, here’s a gal who’s capable of making a decision she’ll regret in the future. (Richard Jeni)




I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land. (Jon Stewart)




There’s always one of my uncles who watches a boxing match with me and says “Sure. Ten million dollars. You know, for that kind of money, I’d fight him.” As if someone is going to pay $200 a ticket to see a 57-year-old carpet salesman get hit in the face once and cry. (Larry Miller)




Three comedians are shooting the breeze at the back of a nightclub after a late gig. They’ve heard one another’s material so much, they’ve reached the point where they don’t need to say the jokes anymore to amuse each other – they just need to refer to each joke by a number. “Number 37!” cracks the first comic, and the others break up. “”Number 53!” says the second guy, and they howl. Finally, it’s the third comic’s turn. “44!” he quips. He gets nothing. Crickets. “What?” he asks, “Isn’t 44 funny?” “Sure, it’s usually hilarious,” they answer. “But the way you tell it…”




Two old ladies are in a restaurant. One complains, “You know, the food here is just terrible.” The other shakes her head and adds, “And such small portions.” (Woody Allen)




I failed my driver’s test. The guy asked me “what do you do at a red light?” I said, I don’t know… look around, listen to the radio… (Bill Braudis).




Waiters and waitresses are becoming nicer and much more caring. I used to pay my check, they’d say “Thank you.” That graduated into “Have a nice day.” That’s now escalated into “You take care of yourself, now.” The other day I paid my check – the waiter said, “Don’t put off that mammogram.” (Rita Rudner)




Last night I was having dinner with Charles Manson, and in the middle of dinner he turned to me and said “Is it hot in here, or am I crazy?” (Gilbert Gottfried)




We had a depression fair in the back yard. A major game there was Pin the Blame on the Donkey. (Richard Lewis)




Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it’s worse when you see them wearing dark glasses, having streamers around their necks and a hat on their antlers. Because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot. (Ellen Degeneres)




I went to the psychiatrist, and he says “You’re crazy ” I tell him I want a second opinion. He says, ‘Okay, you’re ugly too!” (Rodney Dangerfield)




Last night, it was so cold, the flashers in New York were only describing themselves. (Johnny Carson)



I can’t think of anything worse after a night of drinking than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember their name, or how you met, or why they’re dead. (Laura Kightlinger)




Mario Andretti has retired from race car driving. That’s a good thing. He’s getting old. He ran his entire last race with his left blinker on. (Jon Stewart)




A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three months later, there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says “What the heck was that all about?”




Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. (George Burns)




I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for member. (Groucho Marx)




A Catholic teenager goes to confession, and after confessing to an affair with a girl is told by the priest that he can’t be forgiven unless he reveals who the girl is. “I promised not to tell!” he says. “Was it Mary Patricia, the butcher’s daughter?” the priest asks. “No, and I said I wouldn’t tell.” “Was it Mary Elizabeth, the printer’s daughter?” “No, and I still won’t tell!” ‘Was it Mary Francis, the baker’s daughter?” “No,” says the boy. ‘Well, son,” says the priest, “I have no choice but to excommunicate you for six months.” Outside, the boy’s friends ask what happened. “Well,” he says, “I got six months, but three good leads.”




I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. “Well, there’s so much to live for!” “Like what?” “Well… are you religious?” He said yes. I said, “Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?” “Christian.” “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant ? “Protestant.” “Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?” “Baptist” “Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?” “Baptist Church of God!” “Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God!” “Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off. (Emo Philips)




I was coming back from Canada, driving through Customs, and the guy asked “Do you have any firearms with you?” I said: “What do you need?’ (Steven Wright)




I bought a box of animal crackers and it said on it “Do not eat if seal is broken.” So I opened up the box, and sure enough… (Brian Kiley)




I went to a restaurant with a sign that said they served breakfast at any time. So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance. (Steven Wright)




Two guys are walking down the street when a mugger approaches them and demands their money. They both grudgingly pull out their wallets and begin taking out their cash. Just then one guy turns to the other and hands him a bill. “Here’s that $20 I owe you,” he says.



A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence: he’s allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. “Cold floors,” he says. They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throats and says, “Bad food.” They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. “I quit,” he says. “That’s not surprising,” the elders say. “You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.”


Friday, November 1, 2013

Edward Snowden letter to German government





To whom it may concern,

I have been invited to write to you regarding your investigation of mass surveillance.

I am Edward Joseph Snowden, formerly employed through contracts or direct hire as a technical expert for the United States National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, and Defense Intelligence Agency.

In the course of my service to these organizations, I believe I witnessed systemic violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act. As a result of reporting these concerns, I have face a severe and sustained campaign of persecution that forced me from my family and home. I am currently living in exile under a grant of temporary asylum in the Russian Federation in accordance with international law.

I am heartened by the response to my act of political expression, in both the United States and beyond. Citizens around the world as well as high officials – including in the United States – have judged the revelation of an unaccountable system of pervasive surveillance to be a public service. These spying revelations have resulted in the proposal of many new laws and policies to address formerly concealed abuses of the public trust. The benefits to society of this growing knowledge are becoming increasingly clear at the same time claimed risks are being shown to have been mitigated.

Though the outcome of my efforts has been demonstrably positive, my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense. However, speaking the truth is not a crime. I am confident that with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behavior. I hope that when the difficulties of this humanitarian situation have been resolved, I will be able to cooperate in the responsible finding of fact regarding reports in the media, particularly in regard to the truth and authenticity of documents, as appropriate and in accordance with the law.

I look forward to speaking with you in your country when the situation is resolved, and thank you for your efforts in upholding the international laws that protect us all.

With my best regards,

Edward Snowden




Santiago Zabala, “Danto and the End of Art”



http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/10/danto-end-art-20131029864954814.html


Last Friday, Arthur C Danto, one of the most important American philosophers and art critics of the second part of the 20th century, died at the age of 89. Danto was born in Ann Arbor in 1929, and raised in Detroit. After studying with the great French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty in Paris, he became professor of philosophy at Columbia University in 1950.

Not only was Danto a leader within the academy as the author of classical studies on Nietzsche and aesthetics and as president of the American Philosophical Association and the American Society of Aesthetics, but he was also among the most important art critics in the world. Since 1984 he was an art critic for The Nation and Artforum and received several international awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1990, the Frank Jewett Mather Award in 1996, and the French Prix de Philosophie in 2003. As contemporary philosophers Daniel Herwitz and Michael Kelly have recently written, "Danto is a Spinoza of the (New York) marketplace, a denizen of the museum, the gallery, and the lecture hall, beloved by three generations of philosophers, art critics, artists, and New York bricoleurs."

In order to understand Danto’s contribution to the philosophy of art, it’s important to remember that in the 1960s Anglo-American philosophy and avant-garde art were both still conditioned by rather conservative intellectuals: W V O Quine and Clement Greenberg. Philosophers, following Quine’s belief that "philosophy of science is philosophy enough", focused on a small number of analytic topics - cognitive values, semantic meanings, and mathematical truths, and avant-garde art was considered, as the influential critic Greenberg explained, a "Kantian" enterprise. 

Although Danto was formed within this environment, he always felt compelled to overcome its dogmatic ideology, which led him not only to study Nietzsche - who was not considered a serious philosopher within analytic philosophy - but also to favour artists such as John Cage, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol over Picasso, Pollock, and Mondrian who were Greenberg favourites.

Importance of art world

In 1964, Danto wrote an article, "The Artworld", which changed the debate on aesthetics and art forever. Following the conceptual creativity of his European colleagues, Danto coined the term to suggest that it is not possible to understand conceptual art without the help of the artworld, that is, the community of interpreters - critics, art curators, artists, and collectors - within galleries and museums. Apparently, Danto came up with this term when he visited Andy Warhol’s exhibition of Brillo Boxes at the Stable Gallery in New York. There he asked himself a fundamental question: What made Warhol’sBrillo Boxes different from commercial Brillo boxes? His answer was simple: the artworld.

After all, if we ask how many artists it takes to switch on a light bulb, the answer is "one", but only if there is an artworld that considers it art. This is the world that confers on an artwork respect, privileges, and, most of all, the rights that ordinary objects lack. You can do anything you want with the commercial Brillo boxes, but not with those exhibited by Warhol. This is why Danto, like Hans-Georg Gadamer, conceived of aesthetics as almost irrelevant to the understanding of art because:

"... art works have to be about something - have a meaning - and, unlike sentences, they embody their meanings. Aesthetics is not a separate condition, though it can be part of how a meaning is embodied. But I felt that it was quite possible that something could be a work of art without having any aesthetic qualities at all. I think that was true of Duchamp’s ready-mades. If there can be artworks that are not aesthetic, then being aesthetic is not part of the definition of art."

End of art?

But Danto did not simply develop a philosophy of art without aesthetics. He also declared the end of art. Following Hegel, the American thinker suggested that in our post-historical or postmodern era there are no stylistic constraints, that is, no special way that works of art have to be. In this condition, where it is not possible to outline the meaning of art by examples, that is, as the outcome of a clear historical development, it is necessary to declare its end.

But this does not mean no one is making any good art anymore. Instead, since Warhol’s exhibition in 1964, artists have paradoxically been free to make art out of anything, out of everything, and, most of all, for anyone. This is why Danto declared in one of his last books that, 

"Art today is not for connoisseurs of collectors alone. Nor is it only for the people who share the artist’s culture or nationality. The globalisation of the art world means that art addresses us in our humanity, as men and women who seek in art for meanings that neither of art’s peers - philosophy and religion - in what Hegel spoke of as the realm of Absolute Spirit, are able to provide." If art, in our postmodern condition, provides answers that were once sought only in churches, then it’s not there simply to satisfy us, but perhaps also to save us.

Danto had a deep respect for artists not only for the works they created, but also because they posed, and sought to solve, philosophical problems, at least indirectly. For Danto, to be an artist, meant to become a philosopher. This is why until recently he had been at every major international biennale and many show openings, and even took part in a performance piece, as he testified in one of the last articles he wrote. If those artists who were fortunate enough to capture Danto’s interest - Jeff KoonsDamien Hirst, and many others - endure in history, that history will be partly formed by Danto’s news that the history of art had ended. 

Santiago Zabala is ICREA Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Barcelona. His books include The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy (2008), The Remains of Being (2009), and, most recently, Hermeneutic Communism (2011, co-authored with G. Vattimo), all published by Columbia University Press.