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Showing posts from May 17, 2009

I am happy

-I am happy. -Who is speaking? A couple of weeks ago I went out with my friend Alan and his friend Owen, who is a philosopher. Trust a philosopher for a beautiful definition – when the conversation came round to the topic of my book, Owen improvised a breathtaking definition of happiness that merged Aristotle and Ricoeur. Unfortunately, my paraphrase won’t be as pretty, but it was something like: happiness is about seeing that one’s life follows a certain purposive narrative, one in which one has been both true to oneself and true to the values one believes in. To achieve this self-fashioning is to be happy. I hope I haven’t deviated too wildly from Owen’s riff. That riff is, I think, an accurate reflection of how happiness is coded among the cultured level of American, and perhaps simply Western, society in 2009. Happiness, on this reading, is not a patchwork of happy feelings – but it is a judgment. Or, rather, it is an odd hybrid of judgment and intuition, for not only does one judg

the art of projection

"Art of Projection (Projektionskunst) – the exhibition of a proportional extended visible image, which with the help of a magic lantern or of recent projection instruments is thrown as the magnification of certain objects on a white surface" - Meyer’s Conversation Lexicon of 1908 “We get behind the demons, as it were, when we recognize them as projections of hostile feelings, which the survivors cherish against the dead.” “The process completes itself rather through a particular psychic mechanism, that we are used to calling “projection” in psychoanalysis. The hostility, of which one knows nothing and wants to know nothing, has been thrown out of the inner sphere of perceptions [inneren Wharnehmung] into the outer world, by which one releases its from one’s own person and shoves it off on another person. Not we, the survivors, are glad that we are free of the dead one; no, we mourn him, but he has, curiously enough, become an evil demon, to whom our bad luck is pleasing, and

The monster's touch

En montant sur le trône, il entra dans le cercle enchanté et sans issue. – Merezhovsky, writing about Alexander I. The circle that is without an exit and under a spell – isn’t this the circle of the monster? Monster as father substitute. Monster as noble. Monster as libertine. The Monster who demands the right to the first night. It is impossible for those who have received at least one extra eye from Freud’s angel to ignore the fact that the Marriage of Figaro, which, according to Danton, “killed the nobility”, contains a strong incestuous subplot – the Count, in the story, wants to break up Figaro’s upcoming marriage, in order to have Susanne, Figaro’s fiancé, to himself. One avenue is already closed, since the Count verbally renounced his right to the proverbial “first night”, Thus, he conspires with Marceline, the governess, to make Figaro pay for another contract - a bond he had made with the governess promising to marry her if he couldn’t pay back a sum he’d borrowed from her a

tag the text, flee from the text

First things first. Me, my posts are all feints and fidgets, lately. If you want to read something good instead of my debauched stews - go to Rough Theory , who has been writing about the Grundrisse. As always, Marx, in her hands, begins to seem like a Henry James character - if James had only created a character with his own genius, instead of the subpar strivers from the upper class who never quite live up to the authorial voice in which they are caught. RT's Marx is a man who is hyper-aware of epistemological traps, including the trap of thinking that there are just too many epistemological traps to make broad and monumental generalizations. More notes in and around Totem and Tabu 1. Lawrence Goldman and Michael Emmison, in a 1995 article on Huli children’s games (the Huli live in New Guinea), lament the paucity of cross cultural studies of children’s games and play. In a brief survey of the field, they find Brian Sutton-Smith’s work, outside of the American-European context, to