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

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Spinoza takes a hit




I’m surprised that this sad, sad blow to Spinoza’s reputation hasn’t been spinning around the theory blogs. I’m talking, of course, of Sarkozy’s endorsement of Spinoza. This is from Le Monde’s (excellent) literary blog (written by Pierre Assouline), reporting on Sarkozy’s speech at Nimes:


le président veut encourager le tournage des films en Corse, et réhabiliter Spinoza aux dépens de Descartes. Si si, “le” Spinoza, non sans avoir précisé pour nous éclairer sur cette initiative ébouriffante :”l’intelligence humaine est avant tout le produit des émotions, et ce serait une très grave erreur de centrer les enseignements sur les disciplines cérébrales en marginalisant celles qui font appel à l’intelligence des émotions et à l’intelligence du corps“. Il n’y a pas à dire, la France est vraiment le pays de l’exception culturelle.

“… the president wants to encourage the making of films in Corsica, and to rehabilitate Spinoza against Descartes. Yes yes yes, ‘the’ Spinoza, not without having presented for our enjoyment enlightening details of this astonishing initiative: “human intelligence is before everything else the product of emotions, and it would be a grave error to center our pedagogy on cerebral disciplines in marginalizing those which make an appeal to the intelligence of the emotions and the body.” What can you say? France is truly the land of exceptional culture.”

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A belated new year greeting to LI from Paris! Here I am with dire insomnia so what better than go to LI, just like old times! Though, this is not the post I really want to comment on among all the amazing ones on Olympe de Gouges, Forster, Cyrano...
I will have to find where Olympe put her placards up in Paris and get back to you. (And I have my own take strange take on the moon and the stars which I shall spare LI readers.)
So Spinoza takes another hit. Well he could always take them and survive, third lifer that he was and remains. As, for that matter, was Descartes. Long live the evil demon! Can you imagine UMP delegates and voters taking a crack at reading Spinoza. Ah, but what is reading?
As usual you have hit on the grandeur of France, which I was thinking of while reading Libération earlier today. There you find a headline "le roquefort est pris en otage!". Apparently, Uncle Sam is going to levy a 300% tax on roquefort cheese imports to the land of the free and the brave as the EU has probs with American beef on hormones...
Next to which is that Yldune Levy has been released from prison though Julien Coupat has not. Next to which is the news that the Préfet in Nice has banned a demonstration for Gaza. Next to which is a diary from a woman in Gaza; reading which should not let anyone sleep the sleep of the just. The stink is not of cheese held hostage.
LI, Sarkozy is pulling up the slack for Bush and Blair as he goes trying to broker a truce. Amazingly, Blair is some sort of expert consultant now on Middle East affairs. Apparently only mass murderers need apply for this job regarding the killing fields of the Middle East. And who could argue with Blair's credentials. The scum always rises to the top. But songs remain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGBeaztBRNA

Amie

roger said...

"And I have my own take strange take on the moon and the stars which I shall spare LI readers"

Come on, give! I want to hear this take.

I like your walk through the newspaper, which echoes a walk you might have taken two hundred years ago, reading Olympe's pronunciamentos before they were torn down. I wonder if someone, in some attic, there is still a faded affiche. Wouldn't that be cool?

As for Gaza - and Iraq, for that matter - LI's silence is an ingrown product - quite tumorous, in its way. If I were to find an analogy for my intellectual sense of the Great Fly politics of the past eight years, it would be something like one of those math homework problems in which every time one did it, one got the wrong answer. Except in reverse: that is, it is more like a math problem which was quite easy to solve, and which the math teacher, whether out of deliberation or ignorance, solves wrongly. It is as though in this crazy school, all the math teachers who are called to do the problem solve it wrongly, all using the same faulty procedure, all ignoring the basic rules of mathematics. Anyone sitting at home understands why the economy fell into the shit - understands why invading and occupying a country is both evil and counterproductive - understands a foreign policy, whether it is the U.S. in Falluja or Israel in Gaza, that is based on mass murder will fail - understands that the divide between the governors and the governed grows invisibly larger as the governed lie and persistently ignore the populace, refuse to recognize minority voices in the populace, use the politics of outrage and the designed shallowness (via the media) to leap over democracy. Anyone can see that the elites in the 'democratic" states operate just like the nobility did in the ancien regime states, and that the groupwide arrogance and the production of gated communities, like bourgeois Versailles, is taking us all to the abyss.

But it is exhausting doing elementary sums over and over, and listening to one math teacher after another patiently and smugly spout absolute insanity. Only Gombrowitz could do complete justice to this scene.

Anonymous said...

LI, since you ask me to give my take on the moon and the stars I shall attempt to give an account even though it is an ungrounded one. It is merely a story that is not only not sure that universal history begins on the moon but even where this little (hi)story begins or ends. A child's tale. I would date it to a summer evening in the South of France. Which is where our family went every year during vacation. That day my parents were invited to a party and as was their custom they took their kids along. I was 3 years old.
I'm not going to try and describe my vague memories of that party - why compete with Fitzgerald and Tender is the NIght! But I remember vividly - I can close my eyes and see it still - walking along the beach in the evening, drawing patterns in the sand with a stick while listening to the Med sea and suddenly seeing a star rising in the sky. I saw it rise till it was close to the moon, a full moon, and then I noticed the moon. It is a curious thing - I noticed the moon because of the star, as if I was discovering montage. No wonder I am drawn to certain films. I thought, well I know that is the moon, I know its name, I know what to call it, what other people call it. But I don't know what to call this star, it must have its own name, so I decided to give it a name. LI, this is where the child's tale veers off into fairy tale! The name that came - almost instantly and as if dictated- was espoir. Which is not the sort of name I, like most 3 yr olds, was in the habit of giving things. I still wonder where and how it came. Was it the word etoile that brought up the word espoir? Or that I was struggling with the sense that my parents were not happy together? Or was it that just a few months before I had heard the word a lot when Mitterrand had won his first presidential election in 81? Or was it something of the summer night and the sea and the moon and star that was something primitive, distant yet near?
Anyway, I wasn't asking these questions, for which I still have no answers, that night when I was called into dinner and when over the table someone asked me what I had been doing n the beach. I say, I saw a bright shining star and I gave it a name. Oh, what name? Espoir. Well, that got some attention and I was told to point out the star. So a crowd of adults follows me to where I point it out. I look up and they are looking at each other and not saying anything. Mom says, that is a beautiful name for a beautiful star but you know the star already has a name. What is that, I ask?
Venus, she says. And I am told a little thumbnail sketch of Venus - goddess, love, beauty...and I am thinking whoa, this espoir star of mine has some things going...
and then someone said, but the moon is so much bigger than the star. Here, LI, is one of your great math experts. And I said but Venus is brighter, she shines, that is why she is the star of love and hope. So there I was, at three, and I bet on Venus shining. I still do.
Amie

roger said...

Amie, what a lovely story! Although I do have an idea why you would notice Espoir/Venus, even at three. In Mexico, when I was on the beach, every night I'd lay in a hammock and see it in that same conjunction,Venus piloting the moon. And I'd always just stare at it, because it is transfixing sight.
...
Once, just once, I lived in a place - Pecos, New Mexico - where there was little if any interfering artificial light, and that is when I saw the moon and the stars I saw them like any galician peasant saw it in 1870, or any Greek shepherd in 400 B.C. In a full and frightening and mesa crowded darkness, wild dogs up in the hills making a racket, coyotes in the gullies, sliding by in the grass down by the pecos river, the neighbor's horses in the barn shuffling around, breathing. Those moons were unreal - they were so big, for one thing. They felt like they were going to go on and on expanding in the sky until it would simple be full of this primeval craterstrewn scape and it would crush you. You could easily imagine waking in the night and that would be all you'd see in the sky. You could imagine, like a child, the moon's huge eye pressed up against the windowpane.

We live under a wild sky, you know.