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Showing posts from July 19, 2009

no place

Ladies and Gentlemen we are floating in space In the twentieth century, century of Freud and Heidegger, World Wars and nuclear races, the fashion in philosophical history was not to paint a progress, an arrow arranging itself in forward flight amongst the confusion of events, a piece of the universal history, that to which both the reader and the writer served as goals; but rather, to trace some disaster, some lost moment, some irreversible waste, under the sign of forgetting, with both the reader and writer undergoing a cure. Whether forgetting a childhood trauma or childhood sexuality or the barbarism it took to build the monuments of civilization or being itself – these histories were accounts of what, at best, could be construed as the negative externality of progress, and at worst, as the exposure of its grift. In several books and numerous articles, Edward Casey has tried to revive a history of place – a history that is “virtually unknown.” He is wary of the Heideggerian model,

Rousseau and the women III

In the post before the Simmel post, I quoted a bit from one of Saint Preux’s letters describing Clarens in the Nouvelle Heloise. In that letter, a new question of place arises – but so discretely that it is hardly even heard, hardly exists: They [the servants] well know that their surest fortune is attached to that of the master, and that they will never lack anything so long as the house is seen to prosper. In serving it, therefore, they serve their patrimony, and augment it in rendering their services agreeable. This is their greatest interest. But this word is hardly in its place on this occasion; for I have never seen a place where the rules [police] or the interests are so wisely managed, and where, however, they have less influence than here. Everything is done by attachment … A word that is “hardly in its place” – a word that could be replaced by another word – I want to take this exchange over a place and make it thematic, even though it is not thematic, here. In fact, place (