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Showing posts from November 1, 2009

his chaos I comprehended by the darkness of my own

When De Quincey turned twenty, he jotted down a memoranda for himself that listed the twelve constituents of happiness. Happiness was always a strong word for De Quincey – he had an almost cultic devotion to it that made him suspect to more robust natures like Wordsworth’s; it is certain that he truly meant it when, in the Confession, he calls opium happiness in pill form. Whenever, in his writing, we are in the neighborhood of the word “happiness”, the prose will be charged with a certain incantatory quality. The twelve constituents include such things as, education of a child, and a rather sad, ‘a personal appearance rather tolerable.” De Quincey was conscious of his small stature – and had been reproached for not being overly clean or kempt. What is as interesting as the contents of the list is the enumeration of the constituents of happiness. For throughout De Quincey’s career as an opium eater – England’s premier drug geek – the number of drops was always of primary importance

accept no substitutes - some notes

“The common translation of pharmakon by remedy [remede] – a benficient drug – is not, of course, inaccurate. Not only can phramakon really mean remedy and thus erase, on a certain surface of its functioning, the ambiguity of its meaning. But it is even quite obvious here, the stated intention of Theuth being precisely to stress the worth of his product, that he turns the word on its strange and invisible pivot, presenting it from a single one, the most reassuring, of its poles. The medicine is beneficial; it repairs and produces, accumulates and remedies, increases knowledge and reduces forgetfulness. Its translation by ‘remedy’ nevertheless erases, in going outside the Greek language, the other pole reserved in the word pharmakon, It cancels out the resources of ambiguity and makes more difficult, if not impossible, an understanding of the context. As opposed to ‘drug’ or even ‘medicine’, remedy says the transparent rationality of science, technique and therapeutic causality, thus exc

notes on Nietzsche's great politics

LI feels like a little note on politics is called for. The comments thread following the dialectics of diddling post made me realize that, just as Bataille divided economics into the “restricted” and the “general”, one could make the same distinction in politics. Mostly, I’ve been arguing under the sign of restricted politics, claiming that the various discourses of the truth are not just contingently located in institutions. But general politics exerts itself beyond institutions. Nietzsche’s Grosse Politik, with its vocabulary of breeding, no doubt contains the stirrings of fascism – but it also contains a truth. Nietzsche’s great politics is about war. But the war that he describes is not between nations, nor classes, but a war of life style. A war about the living. In this sense, the great politics of the last hundred years has occurred across and around the restricted politics. For example… For example, the greatest political event of the twentieth century. What was it? Was it 191

voyage to synthetica - eldorado of all the old boys

In 1940, Fortune Magazine (which was part of the Luce empire, and featured such writers as James Agee and Archibald Macleish – as well as Whittaker Chambers) produced an issue devoted to the relatively new industry of plastic. In Jeffrey Meikle’s American Plastic: A cultural history, he writes: “The editors seem uncertain how to present these new materials, whether to portray plastic as an extension of natural materials or as an intoxicating disruption of the natural order. These contrary interpretation emerged not in the article’s text, which offered clear explanations of processes and applications, but in two illustrations, each a two page full color spread, each so bizarre in its own way, so rationally unwarranted, as to suggest an intrusion into consciousness from a site of unresolved psychological conflicts.”(64) I note in passing, here, Meikle’s coupling of intoxication and plastic. More importantly, this is his introduction to “Synthetica: the new continent of plastics.” Meikle