“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

schopenhauer's spooks

LI was looking around our bookshelf, the other day, for a book by an author whose new book we are reviewing. The new book is so, to be frank, non-book length that we were thinking of doing the long view – the other books that came before kind of business. We had been sent a bunch of this author’s books at one point in our miserable freelancing history, but – we either cut them up (sometimes, to make little collages, we have to make some sacrifices of our spiny backed friend, the book) or sold them or threw them out. Whatever. Out of the minor dust hurricane, we hauled another book – a little volume of Schopenhauer’s Parerga und Paralipomena. So, with that absent mindedness that marks the loser, we got lost in reading certain of S.’s essays. Particularly one entitled Über das Geistersehn und was damit zusammenhängt, which has been officially translated as: "Essay on Spirit Seeing and Everything Connected There-with.” We aren’t sure about the everything, and we would translate it much less literally as over the implications of spirit seeing. But what the hey.

In any case, we found it a very entertaining essay – but when we went looking for commentary “therewith and thereupon”, we came up with an almost perfect blank. Which led to some headscratching – where are my fellow deconstructionist droogs when you want them? An essay that begins by considering that the “superclever” eighteenth century, in dismissing ghosts, misunderstood the whole criteria of proof for a ghost, is surely worth a look – especially given Schopenhauer’s notorious atheism. And an essay that contains a goofy, but not dismissable theory of dreams, second sight, and why it may be the case that human beings can foresee the future is surely to be of some interest to those of us who see, in the early nineteenth century’s gothic revival, a social complex that tells us a lot about religion, political legitimacy, and the shaky status of the emancipated philosophe.

So we thought, why not spend a little quality time with this little known essay?

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