“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

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Monday, September 18, 2006

mars 2

A few home truths. LI is neither opposed to the state, nor to capitalism, nor, if it comes to it, to socialism. This puts LI out of the running as far as political philosophy is concerned. As far as LI is concerned, political philosophy is as strange a thing as, say, a philosophy of poker that only recognized two cards: the Ace and the deuce. A poker philosopher with that idea would be uniquely un-equipped to recognize a poker game. Often when I read the crowd of libertarians, conservatives and lefties expound on the public and private sectors, I feel like I am reading my fictitious poker philosopher trying to figure out the name of this god damned card game they keep showing on ESPN2.

Myself, I have my eye on Mars. It isn’t that I think of Mars as wholly bad, an absolute evil – I have too great a dialectical sense of the conditions of my own existence, and that of everyone, literally, who I know or have ever known, and too little suicide in my veins, to utterly damn Mars – as much as I think the Martian dialectic is running out. We are approaching a limit in which the Martian negative moment – that moment that was glimpsed in the 1940s, in the erection of the missiles in the fifties and sixties, at Chernobyl, in the discovery of the ozone hole – is expanding to absorb and annihilate all previous positive moments. Mars, of course, has such a cancerous grip on our brains, its tendril have run into our innards to such an extent, that it is hard to find any way to confront that coming moment. That is, hard to find any way to simply cut the shit and say what is happening.

All of which is an intro to today’s translation exercise – from Minima Moralia:
It is hard enough just to tell what the truth is; but we should not be terrorized from doing so in our interactions with other people. There are criteria here that will do for the present. One of the most reliable is when it is objected against you that an expression is ‘too subjective.’ If that objection is made decisively, and with that indignation in which you can hear the angry harmony of all reasonable folks faintly chiming in, you have reason to be, briefly, satisfied with yourself. The concepts of subjective and objective have completely reversed. Objective now means the uncontroversial side of phenomena, its unquestioned, absorbed impression, the fassade glued together out of pre-classified data, and thus: the subjective; and subjective denotes whatever breaks through this, what emerges in the specific experience of things, what injures the pre-judged convenus and requires relationship to the object itself instead of the majority opinion about it. The latter can’t even see it, not to speak of thinking it. Thus, the objective. How full of hot air the formal objection of subjective relativity really is shows itself in its proper field, that of aesthetic judgments. Whoever, from the force of his precise reaction, submits himself seriously to the discipline of an artwork, its immanent laws of form, the coercion inherent in its construction, will find the prejudices of the simple subjectivity of his experience collapse like a miserable semblance, and every step that he takes by means of his extreme subjective inervation in the thing has an incomparably greater objective force than the encompassing and the well established conceptual structures of, for instance, ‘style’, whose scientific claims come at the price of the above described experience. This is doubly true in the era of positivism and the culture industry, where objectivity is calculated according to the dictates of an organized subject. In the face of this, reason has completely, and without windows, fled into idiosyncrasies, which are reproached with their arbitrary whims by the arbitrary whim of established power, because it aims at weakening subjects out of fear of the objectivity that can be annulled by these subjects alone.

I’m not sure if I quite captured the complicated dance at the end of this passage. Or understand it. Reason flees into idiosyncrasy, that seemingly heightened state of the arbitrary, based on will alone, because of the arbitrary will of the Gewalthaber, those who hold power, who have created the world in which subjective and objective inverse themselves in order to fatally weaken the subject’s ability to gain, by experience of things themselves, that objectivity annulling the subjective’s bondage to prejudice. The latter of which, I think, would then annul the objective conditions of the inversion. At least that is how I trace those steps.

In the standard translation it reads: "reason has retreated entirely behind a windowless wall of idiosyncracies, which the holders of power arbitrarily repraoch with arbritariness, since they want subjects impotent, for fear of the objectivity that is preserved in these subjects alone."

Preserved isn't right. Annulled, my choice, isn't right either. We are back the dreaded aufheben of Hegelian fame. I'd retouch it as - suspended - that is held in suspension in these subjects alone.

9 comments:

Amerigo Sciurofascista said...

A few home truths. LI is neither opposed to the state, nor to capitalism, nor, if it comes to it, to socialism. This puts LI out of the running as far as political philosophy is concerned.

I think this is generally a good thing for LI -- the part of being out of the running for a political philosophy. There'll be plenty of time for one once we all get handle on the pre-political. Then you can come crush the state with me :-) But first we need to figure out ways to live.

roger said...

Ah, Mr. Scruggs, the state is, as a wise man once said, a three eyed rubber duck that will never die.

But I'm all for the kind of counter-power that instills a cautionary fear into the soul of the governing class, sending the message: you can loot this far, but no further.

new york pervert said...

'What there is of my nihilism is genial and relaxed, like the refreshed feeling one might get from the perfect nap, of the sort taken between pointless, ennervating exertions.'

Mr. Scruggs, you wrote this perhaps a week ago, and it proves by itself that you know something about 'getting lives.' This here that you have a-written is the secret. That kind of nap is not only refreshing in the obvious physiological sense, but also because there is finally a sense of the miraculous that it demonstrates: It didn't seem at all possible before it happened.

May you have as many of these as you need. This is the wrong post, perhaps, but I want Roger and me to have these naps too, and I do count on having them at least once a week. However, I have a duty as a American citizen to serve as a juror very soon, and I don't In God We Trust about sleeping before something I dread that much. So I am going to ask M. le docteur for some goddam Ambien. And he better give it to me, too.

roger said...

Mr. NYP, you are going to be a juror?

It sounds like that is making you unhappy. Most people hate jury duty. But myself - due to a diet of romantic 50s jury drama movies - have a sort yen to be a juror. Although I've never been asked.

What is the one with Henry Fonda? I'm sure you've seen it. 12 angry men or something?

Myself, I get these nice generic sleeping pills from the drugstore up the street. I haven't used them, lately, however -- I was using them way too much, and decided the side effects - joints aching, mental fuzziness, and mostly, the desire to go to sleep on the pill - were getting in my way. But I recommend generics for when everything else fails.

new york pervert said...

'It sounds like that is making you unhappy.'

Well, that by itself wouldn't make me really unhappy, although I have never liked doing it. I'm surprised they don't call you, though. It may be different state to state, but I get called every TWO years (!), and so therefore postpone as long as I can before they send the cops out. It could be all right, it's just I immediately associate dreaded things in some way that keeps me from getting any rest, and that that's counterproductive doesn't ever cure it. It must be that I think that if I make myself somehow more miserable I won't really have to do it, but I always get up and do it even dog-tired. Once in 1989 I went to a dreaded job on a half hour sleep, and that was far worse than if I had gotten none.

One of the leading symptoms of everything we hate in the modern world is that it precludes sleep by its very nature (I think so anyway.)

roger said...

Huh. Now that you bring it up, it is strange that I've never been tapped for jury duty. What is going on?

It is true that any mail I get that has notice stamped on it in big letters, or looks like it is from the government, or a debt collection agency, I immediately throw, unopened, into the dumpster.

As in so many things, I am here simply following the lifestyle tips of the Whig Aristocracy. I have sometimes thought that would be a great self-help/new age book: The way of the Whig Aristocrat. Full of helpful advice, such as: don't ever drink more than four bottles of claret at a setting.

But surely they would have called me if, by some mistake, I threw out a jury notification.

Maybe I should call down and ask them if I'm on the jury rolls or not. That will be something different.

Amie said...

LI, on the subject of films and juries/trials, may i recommend a film by an Iranian: Close-Up, by Abbas Kiarostami.

Patrick said...

roger--I used to always throw them out, but they then immediately start sending threatening ones. I can only guess that states are different. I can't tell if you'd want to do it or not. I know I'll figure out how to do something with it, although the chief thing I dislike about it is not itself so much as the way it has no relation to anything else you are doing except that you get paid fairly decently for it now. Otherwise, it seems more like a disruption than even hateful office work, so I try to avoid it until they start acting like the slammer.

roger said...

Amie, every one of your movie suggestions have been gold. But they also require me to be emotionally prepared for what I am going to see. I'll definitely check out that film, when I'm feeling a little less - fragile.