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Showing posts from May 23, 2010

experiment three

My last post was not meant to show that Kierkegaard was directly influenced by the Mesmerists, or by the use of hypnosis, when he uses the term psychological experiment – although in fact, as he had taken University courses in psychology, he undoubtedly had read something about animal magnetism. But rather I wanted to show links here, chains, connections, intersignes, in which an eighteenth century scene of experiment/seduction is played out on a woman - Puysegur’s patient - who resists him, in the end, allowing him the fetish objects - shoe or bonnet - but nothing more. And I wanted the odd commonality of the fly swatter to stand out - passed from the patient's hand to C.C.'s, chasing after the revolutionary flies of Berlin. Under the pressure of the observer's gaze, we watch the experiment as a situation under the control of the pseudonym slip out of his hands, and see it appear in Kierkegaard’s hands, where instead of an experiment applied by C.C. to his 'subjects&

experiment 2: the mark of the flyswatter

In the last post we began to touch on the meaning of ‘experiment’ in Repetition. The notion of the experiment as an exercise in cruelty played a major role in Kierkegaard’s battle with the Corsair, when Moller, his opponent, rightly picked up on the cruelty involved in using an ‘experimental’ method on people, or putting a girl in the “experimental rack.” The point of view on cruelty shifts in relation to the terms in which the discourse is expressed – what is cruelty from the ethical point of view is not so from the aesthetic – and from the religious point of view, as Kierkegaard writes in the Edifying Discourse, “… the cruelty consists in the fact that the Christian has to live in this world and express in the environment of this world what it is to be a Christian.” There is, at this point, a two-fold question: the first is, what kind of ‘experimenter’ is Constantin Constantinus, the pseudonymn-author of Repetition? And the second is, what does it mean to write a text under the s

a psychological experiment

There are, in the notes for Repetition, a number of variations around the subtitle, which Howard and Edna Hong translate as “A venture in Experimenting Psychology”. Kierkegaard also tried “Experimenting Philosophy” and “Experimental-Philosophy”. This is a suggestive subtitle for a book about – or at least entitled – repetition, since experiment itself is a form of human activity that, ideally, verifies the theories that it is meant to test by creating a situation that can ideally always be repeated by any competent operator. In the dialectical sense in which Constantine Constantius (who may be the experimentor of the book – or may be the subject of the book’s experiment), in a sense the experiment is already repeated even in its very first instance, since it is intended from the beginning to be repeatable – it is designed along the lines of repetition. But there is another sense in which just the opposite is the case. In Hans Christian Ørsted and the romantic legacy in science, Ro

la retourne

As I said before I left for visions of the West, I am going to do a couple of weeks of posts about Kierkegaard – or at least broadly about Kierkegaard. I want to deal especially with Repetition and with The Concept of Anxiety. I want to look at these themes in Kierkegaard from the point of view of the critique of the happiness culture, in which alienation and the claims of the imagination can embody ways out of what is becoming dominant as the Great Transformation destroys the ancien regime and the human limit is dissolved – that is, some other justification for collective life, life in society, other than that justified by happiness. I want to remember that Repetition is written at the same time that Marx is working out the critical, materialist idea of alienation – a name for certain broad tendencies within the capitalist system. I want to put this under the theme of the path of needles and the path of pins, Michelet’s dialectic of the witch – in which backwards is essentially d