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Showing posts from November 11, 2007

faustian pessimism

So far in my happiness work I’ve been digging at the roots of the happiness culture – connecting that culture with the apparent freeing up of the positional economy as the industrial and market system established itself – looking for the routes of dissemination that connected a new vocabulary and a conceptual structure with the vocabulary and conceptual structures of ordinary language and ordinary practices – etc. But I have intentionally not, up until now, looked at another vocabulary and conceptual structure which emerged after the French Revolution and flowed into twentieth century fascism. This was the reactionary attack on happiness. When, in Thomas Mann’s Observations of a Non-Political Man – the famous essay that made him seem to be one of the conservatives in the Weimar period – he attacks happiness, he is signaling a taking of sides, a polemical position, with a conventional reference. When, hearing of the murder of Luxemberg and Liebknecht, Mann, in his diary, called them stu

people have the power...

...to redeem the work of fools. LI, much like the New York Times, Fox News, and Vogue, has an international staff of dedicated journalists working 24/7. Our correspondent in France, Amie, recently sent a far ranging response to our post about Mailer as a philosopher/buffoon , which she has kindly agreed to let us publish. The passage from Hippias Minor really is remarkable, the way it articulates power, knowledge, justice -- and the 'subject' (in the double sense) of 'true' discourse. Who is speaking? Socrates seems to occupy all the positions in turn in this dialogue's theater -- Homer, Achilles, Odysseus! In the end he cannot even quite believe or agree with or even quite know what he is saying himself. In Socratic terms, this would mean, at this juncture, he doesn't know himself! And ah, what of the silent narrator, Plato 'himself', seated in the wings, 'merely' observing, recording, reporting. Quite. Another remarkable aspect of this pas

Iraq news

Since the American press has fallen even below its previous wretched standard of reporting in Iraq - to no reporting at all - LI will now ocassionally point our readers to news Iraq articles. Here's an A sian Times article that says important things about what it happening there .

Locke's monster

One of the classic pedantic routines is to object when someone refers to Frankenstein’s monster as Frankenstein. But there is a two fold objection to this objection. One objection is it gives us no reason to make an exception for the standard procedure for naming descendants. Either by birth or adoption, Frankenstein’s children would be called Frankenstein. If Frankenstein’s monster would not be so called, we need a reason why. And that reason would surely depend on some break, some tremor of distress, some disturbance in the patriarchy itself. There is good reason for this text to have attracted so many feminist readings. The second objection is narrower - but it does lead us into the depths. Throughout the text, Victor Frankenstein refers to his creature in many ways, and that multitude of descriptions add up to the fact that the creature doesn’t possess a canonical name. Names have been of interest to philosophers because of their connection to description, on the one hand, and

digging the monster up again

Frankenstein certainly ranks up there among the most interpreted books of our time – it has been so tracked across by interpreters, so used for this or that thesis, that LI, whose meditations on happiness have intersected with Frankenstein lately, feels a bit like a thrift store irregular in talking about the book at all. It is a book that, more than most, projects its visionary schema upon the critic – after all, what critic of a book about creating a giant by stitching together the dead bodies of human beings doesn’t feel the eerie doubling effect of creating another Frankenstein by stitching together parts of Shelley’s biography adn passages from the book in the giant frame of one’s own favorite schema? Monster begets monster. And of course, ever since Mary Poovey, long ago in the Derridean eighties, hung her feminist interpretation upon Mary Shelley’s words in her 1831 introduction to a new edition of the novel – Shelley called the book “my hideous progeny” – Frankenstein has serv

Novels

Philip Davis, in a blog or something internetty I came across a few days ago, More Intelligent Life.com , offers a complain about the lack of suspicion of the hermeneutics of suspicion. Since I am in the latter camp, I should say: I dislike it too. How often have I read articles that start out from the ‘facts’ established by a relativism that proposed to undermine facts. More suspicion about the hermeneutics of suspicion, please. Davis is talking about Brigid Lowe’s Victorian Fiction and the Insights of Sympathy: “It is a brave book, with one big simple message: all too often literary scholars merely use books (they call them "texts") for the sake of their own agendas and careers. Here's the novel; here's the ideological agenda to which it is to be fitted; and here's the critical mallet to whack it into shape. For example, here is the opening of another recent book on Victorian Sympathy from Stanford University Press which goes something like this: "The V

the murder of Mohamad Khalil Khudair

Sensiz tutmaz dizlerim dermaným ol Gel gel gel gel gel gel Gel efendim gel gel gel sultaným ol gel Gel efendim gel gel gel mihmaným ol gel - Cem Karaca I was talking with my brother on the telephone the other day. I mentioned that I was campaigning to get Andrew Moonen prosecuted for the murder of Raheem Khalif Habaichi. My brother asked: what was different between that murder and the other Blackwater murders? I explained that in the case of the 17 people killed and 24 wounded at Nisour Square, the government and the mercenaries could plead that they were reacting to a security situation. They could at least plead to that. But that in the case of Moonen, the offense was naked. That it was that romantic moment, so ardently sought after in the sixties by the American new left, when a case comes up that clearly, indisputably conflicts with the claim of the governing class to be operating democratically and with respect for the law. It is an open grave of injustice, an exhumation of the de

New Accidental Look

Unfortunately, I tried to make one change on my template, which led to a cascade of ever deeper changes. Sorry! Still, everything is still here except my links. As soon as I figure out how to put them in, Limited Inc might be a bit nicer. If someone out there has a clue as to an easy way to add my links, email me!

mailer again

In the Hippias Minor, Socrates challenges Hippias, a vain sophist, over the matter of who is the better man: Achilles or Odysseus. Hippias holds that Achilles was the truest, strongest and best of the Greeks, while Odysseus was the wiliest – polytropos – or the falsest, the most cunning, the most deceptive. But Socrates, surprisingly enough, comes up with an argument to show that either both Achilles and Odysseus are mixtures of the good and the false, or that – if Achilles lies and deceptions come about involuntarily, whereas Odysseus voluntarily takes on the deceivers role, as Hippias maintains – that Odysseus must be the better man. This is the end of the dialogue: Socrates: Is not justice either a sort of power or knowledge, or both ? Or must not justice inevitably be one or other of these ? Hippias : Yes. Socrates : Then injustice is a power of the soul, the more powerful soul is the more just, is it not ? For we found, my friend, that such a soul was better. Hippias : Yes, we di