But surely infantilism is destined to be surmounted. Men cannot remain children for ever; they must in the end go out into 'hostile life'. We may call...moreBut surely infantilism is destined to be surmounted. Men cannot remain children for ever; they must in the end go out into 'hostile life'. We may call this 'education to reality. Need I confess to you that the whole purpose of my book is to point out the necessity for this forward step?
This isn't exactly theory, but more a prose poem or maybe agitprop. Freud deftly employs a dialogue method aiming for some persuasive measure, though accepting that his words aren't likely to influence the unwilling. He does paraphrase his opponents well. While remaining a plea, the text is an eloquent one. His style is adroit and drenched in wit (see Freud's thoughts on Prohibition). There is much to be said about a sociology of the murderous: denizens who would overthrow the yoke of civilization at the first opportunity. Here's to austerity measures and prayer in schools.(less)
Owen Bennett Jones recently wrote on the Islamic State in the LRB. "Every time a Jihadi movement has won power it has lost popularity by failing to gi...moreOwen Bennett Jones recently wrote on the Islamic State in the LRB. "Every time a Jihadi movement has won power it has lost popularity by failing to give the people what they want: peace, security and jobs." When I read that I thought about poor King Creon. I have always felt disturbed by the vice of fate in this play which steadily traps and crushes. It was Creon's hubris which caught my attention this time. Doesn't he have a mandate? I imagine him simply incredulous. Why this dissent? Subsequently I read a number of secondary pieces, though as I feared Creon is a symbol, whereas Antigone remains human, though her plight is class-conscious according to some, whereas others view matters as a collision of opposed ideas. Jean-Pierre Vernant and Pierre Vidal-Naquet explored such in their Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece.
Rather, it is between two different types of religious feeling; one is a family religion, purely private and confined to the small circle of close relatives, the philoi, centered around the domestic hearth and the cult of the dead; the other is a public religion in which the tutelary gods of the city eventually become confused with the supreme values of the State.
Who would have guessed that a few hundred years after the Enlightenment such rituals and disputation would remain foregrounded? My views on progress and positivism have been eroded greatly over the course of my adult life. A chill remains in the air and yet a glimmer of hope persists, even now. I hope to always harbor such impossibilities(less)
Like most people, I was shocked and intrigued by the enigma of ISIS, how it spread so quickly, how it attracted so wide a band of support and how easi...moreLike most people, I was shocked and intrigued by the enigma of ISIS, how it spread so quickly, how it attracted so wide a band of support and how easily it initially fared against the Kurds. Unlike a number of folks I turned consequently to Norman Cohn. Cohn qualifies the successes, however fleeting of Millennial cults by stressing how such always appeared in the wake of larger rebellions or movements. I find it fascinating that so many individuals appeared to be the reincarnations of lost leaders. I suppose I can understand someone hearing voices and believing they are a prophet or even the divine, but when a number of people claim to be Barbarossa so that a prophecy can be fulfilled, well, that sort of baffles me. I then think of Teddy Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace and all appears well again. Maybe “well” is a poor adjective in the wake of a pogrom or the sacking of a monastery. What is one to make of the phenomenon of the flagellants? This literal craze flashed across Europe and exacted a lethal response to Jews everywhere. Residing at the core fo all is this a desire to return to the Natural State where all was communal and there was no crime or avarice. See John GrayBlack Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia for further examples of this lunacy. I should be careful with my descriptions. Lord knows there were sociological forces at play, the sens eof dislocation after feudalism ended thus limiting the ties with the extended family as wellas towards the manor.
Cohn provides a fascinating account of the history of these movements in Northern Europe. Apparently the activity there was practically dwarfed by the activity in the Mediterranean basin. Paul Bryant in his masterful review notes how common historically for cult/movement leaders to pronounce polygamy or a free love of sorts. This wasn't near as prolific as the killing of Jews in Cohn's survey. I suppose the more cynical would allude to a Lacanian blockage. (less)
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction...moreThere is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things . Machiavelli
Of course Niccolo also said that conquering the Ottomans would be most difficult, but afterwards rather easy to hold or occupy. It is good being glib. I violated my latest reading plan over the holiday weekend.
Ottomans did not, on the whole, engage in trade; they worked in administration; their minorities, Greeks, Jews and Armenians, seperated from them by a gulf of culture and sympathy, traditionally looked after the money side.
Jason Goodwin has provided us with a sprawling popular history, one surveying an empire which stretched across three continents for around 600 hundred years and conducted its affairs in a likely two dozen languages. The matter is presented in a predictably uneven manner. The text is both compelling and insightful as the reader gauges the expansion and retraction of the House of Osman. The Ottoman core principles contributed almost solely to conquest. The reality of an increasing population and the ravages of time forced and exacerbated its fatal contradictions. Is it me, did anyone else know the origins of the croissant extend from the Siege of Vienna? I did not and remain unsure what I think about all that. I'm a bagel fellow by trade.(less)
"To mark a date in history" presupposes, in any case, that "something" comes or happens for the first and last time. -- Jacques Derrida
There were meas...more"To mark a date in history" presupposes, in any case, that "something" comes or happens for the first and last time. -- Jacques Derrida
There were measures of apprehension as I approached this book. Thankfully they proved unfounded. This text is comprised of two interviews and three essays by Giovanna Borradori: an introduction followed by an response to each interview with a philosopher.
I was struck by Habermas dwelling on the nature of the Event, as it were, how he pondered the difference between his own experience viewing such (along with the rest of the world) on television and those who viewed such from the streets and rooftops around the crash site.
Derrida disagrees with the nature of it being an Event, singular and epoch evocative. I suppose the latter point is what I truly appreciated here. Richard Rorty devoted a number of essays (which I'm presently reading) attempting to establish that Derrida should be approached primarily as a comic writer. I'll avoid that issue for the present and assert that the tone here is appropriately somber. My god, is it ever stimulating! The concepts of Tolerance and Hospitality are masticated slowly. With further deliberation Derrida delves into Kant and muses paradoxical.
I should read more Habermas. I've known that for years. Much like Sanjit Ray, this will need to wait for a better time.(less)
With blinded eyes I stared at the sky, this grey, endless sky of a crazy god, who made life and death for his amusement.
I think my grandmother would'v...moreWith blinded eyes I stared at the sky, this grey, endless sky of a crazy god, who made life and death for his amusement.
I think my grandmother would've liked Three Comrades. She may have read it. She passed in 2003 and I often miss her. The ranks of my rogues gallery of family contained only one reader and Stella Short was that and certainly something else. I'd like to think she died with a book in her lap.
Three Comrades is a melodrama about survivors of the Great War discovering the extent of their personal damage in the depressed cauldron of Germany in the late 1920s. This isn't an exploration of material poverty but one of irreparable moral damage. Spirit (Geist) died for these men. What is left but hard drinking and fast cars? There is always love. but such has a terminal cost on this stage. There is no great wrenching of ideas here but the affairs remain palpable, even visceral.
I thought today about Sarah Churchwell and her book on Careless People in the Gatsby. Perhaps this reaction was global?(less)
It wasn't a view that one should simply complain about the burgeoning surveillance state and so on, but that we can, in fact, must build the tools of...moreIt wasn't a view that one should simply complain about the burgeoning surveillance state and so on, but that we can, in fact, must build the tools of a new democracy.
Plagiarism has been the flashpoint on GR this weekend. I thought about the controversy when copyright law is called into question throughout Cypherpunks. Sharing and privacy not only maintain autonomy, so the book goes, but each further civilization. It is difficult to argue with that. That said, this discussion was all a bit "meh" for me. Lord knows I hate that judgment but it sticks to me. There is total lack of rigor in this book. Points are made and then begins a retreat into glib rejoinders and cliché. It is important to recall that this occurred before the Snowden revelations. I will likely explore some secondary sources now. (less)
Everything we forget about our own lives was really condemned to oblivion by an inner instinct long ago. - Stefan Zweig
It is easy to lose oneself in t...moreEverything we forget about our own lives was really condemned to oblivion by an inner instinct long ago. - Stefan Zweig
It is easy to lose oneself in this text. The Impossible Exile is well written and avoids annotation all the while projecting perosnal experiences into isolated threads. The author explores the three principal locations of Zweig's post-Anschluss exile: England, the US and Brazil. Prochnik details the broader context of the wartime European refugee, the obstacles and the reception. The letters and memoirs of Brecht, Bruno Walter, Hermann Broch and others are mined. That is a delightful touch on such a sorrowful subject. Interspersed are photographs of Zweig, his second wife Lotte and the locales of their means of escape.
There is a measure of literary criticism of Zweig's work, especially his autobiography. Such is fine but it is the study of the dispossessed's plight which make this such an engrossing endeavor. (less)
The most concrete emblem of every economic cycle is the dump.
Earlier this summer I enjoyed a podcast by one of the members of Wu Ming. The author spok...moreThe most concrete emblem of every economic cycle is the dump.
Earlier this summer I enjoyed a podcast by one of the members of Wu Ming. The author spoke about responsibility and the New Italian Epic. Gommorah was the one example of the latter which was discussed at length. It was noted that the work suffered from a horrible translation into English. Perhaps the last qualification should give it a pass, as I found the work to be uneven. Nominally this is an exploration of criminal culture in the Naples area of Italy. This is a deeply emotional response to a Foucauldian nightmare, one where modern capitalism has disrupted classic Mafioso structures and replaced them with something more pervasive and insidious. The book opens with how the fashion and garment industries occupy the area around Naples and the fierce and often lethal competition which exists within such. Many of these operations expand upon a certain level of growth to include drug trafficking. The modern business notion of focus groups becomes warped to a situation where nearly free heroin is given to the destitute to see if it is safe. Credit and logistics allow the clans influence in global flashpoints and thus arms begin the circuitous travels.
The book concludes exploring the criminal involvement in construction and waste disposal. The details are harrowing. Saviano lists the misdeeds impassively, periodically noting "I know and I can prove it". This verification strikes me as an even more bleak outlook. (less)
They were not searching for a vein of gold, except as a metaphor. The difference was that they were searching for something that resided in a mind, ev...moreThey were not searching for a vein of gold, except as a metaphor. The difference was that they were searching for something that resided in a mind, even if it was also recorded on a piece of paper or as an object.
Conversations excels at pace, at a creeping along, exhaling the languid sighs of the insomniac, sorting through the clues of the day, hoping against all hope to make any sort of sense of it all. Nominally the focus is of a higher state. The protagonist's days are spent in contemplation and philosophical discussion. Parse away the bullshit and it is everyman's sleepless night.
This is my first work by Aira and it is a remarkable effort. It was a masterful stroke to create an invented film to lie at the core of the titular debate. (less)
A beaten, broken man, he went on and buried himself in his fortress in Vendée. For three years he became a caterpillar. When the malign metamorphosis...moreA beaten, broken man, he went on and buried himself in his fortress in Vendée. For three years he became a caterpillar. When the malign metamorphosis was complete, he emerged, an infernal angel unfurling his wings.
It was my GR friend Paquita who thrust my attentions upon Gilles de Rais. You should read her review now. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... It was also happenstance which led me to this specific book a few weeks back at Harold's bookstall. It was quick and haunting read today, one draped with images of menace. The wars of religion are at hand and sorcery remains palpable. The novel then recalls the association of Joan of Arc with de Rais, the infamous serial child murderer of 15th Century France. Leading the narrative forward like Surrealist Virgils are a motley pair of intermediaries: a shocked and shuddering priest and a manipulative Italian Humanist. What unfolds is poetic if incomplete. The conflicted Italian speaks of a malign inversion but the smoke and the screams obscure the philosophy. (less)
But a lot of the time there's no reason. We just flew it to the ground. Because we felt like it. And we're still dangerous. And it could happen again...moreBut a lot of the time there's no reason. We just flew it to the ground. Because we felt like it. And we're still dangerous. And it could happen again anytime.
Mr. Gough was discovered in a Dalkey anthology of Best European Fiction. Our public library had this and I read it in an evening. The characters remain undercooked and the plot unfolds predictably. That said, it offers laughs and charm. One could expect bigger projects in Mr. Gough's future.(less)
In the things I am presently concerned with, the moment when that which does not exist is inscribed in reality, and when that which does not exist com...moreIn the things I am presently concerned with, the moment when that which does not exist is inscribed in reality, and when that which does not exist comes under a legitimate regime of the true and false, marks the birth of this dissymmetrical bipolarity of politics and the economy. Politics and the economy are not things that exist, or errors, or ideologies. They are things that do not exist and yet which are inscribed in reality and fall under a regime of truth dividing the truth and the false.
It is quaint growing old. I celebrated my birthday today by coming home and noshing on a wonderful Indian meal with my wife. I retired then to complete this volume and was rather shaken with thought. If this volume is any indication, then the Foucault Lectures series provides a rich trove of erudition and theory and is one which I will mine again and again. The work begins exploring the distinction between Institution and Acquisition as regards to Sovereignty -- lord knows I worried about my deficits per Hobbes and Machiavelli.
It is Foucault's notion of war as politics by other means that strings the text along. the discussion leads to his notion of race, which for Foucault is more a ethnic chauvinism than the American or modern binary opposition. These views at history are simply astonishing. The idea of a dovetail into the nascent biopolitical creates an enticing field of possibility.
Genealogy is history in the form of a concerted carnival.
Ever since Madonna Louise Ciccone took it over the border line, I have always felt for the tr...moreGenealogy is history in the form of a concerted carnival.
Ever since Madonna Louise Ciccone took it over the border line, I have always felt for the transgressors, the transgressive, the interlopers. Michel Foucault began before I did. He also held the Infinite in esteem. I sigh in response. I would like to make a few points about this collection, this assemblage. I could start by questioning the validity of points or facts. Aren't they just interpretations? Don't such efforts only maintain the power relationships? Shouldn't we pursue a more abortive endeavor, an archive of missteps, missed exits and naive backtracking?
Most pieces collected between these covers were simply maddening, to be honest. I read everything at least twice. I was not looking for a distilled Foucault. My purpose wasn't to form a conceptual whole, a sweeping theory. No, totalizing wasn't on my agenda. Finding coherence was. I remain in the camp of anti-essentialist investigation, that hasn't changed. I highly recommend two essays in the book: What Is an Author and Nietzsche, Genealogy, History. The others served best to baffle and dishearten. I just told my wife that self-awareness is often a certain agent of depression. So it goes.