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Showing posts from July 11, 2010

Travelers

Travel? One need only exist to travel. I go from day to day, as from station to station, in the train of my body or my destiny, leaning over the streets and squares, over people’s faces and gesture, always the same and always different, just like scenery. … ‘Any road, this simple Entepfuhl road, will lead you to the end the World.’ But the end of the world, when we go around it full circle, is the same Entepfuhl from which we started. The end of the world, like the beginning, is in fact our concept of the world.” – Pessoa It is well know that Kant couldn’t be budged. He never saw a city bigger than his Königsberg. His friend, Johann Hamann, did – as did Herder, and Lichtenberg. The philosophe was, usually, a traveler. But in a sense, Kant was one of the great clerks. I admit that it would distort the metaphysics of the Critique of Pure Reason to make it the equivalent of Bartleby’s, I prefer not to – an almost perfect definition of the noumenon! – but there is something definitely go

a Begriffsroman

Begriffsgeschichte begins in genius and ends in banality. Although there are times, sweet, rare times, when that order is reversed. I’ve been pondering two things, lately. One is Kosellek’s Future’s past, which is a history of how the future was conceived in the past – how the horizon of expectation is construed - as well as a meditation on the whole enterprise of a "history of ideas". I’ve been thinking of how it is possible to elaborate a history of the third life, and how to avoid the mistake into which all fall of conceiving history as a series of heads reading a series of books. This, of course, misconceives both head and book. We are talking about the inspired sensorium, and we end up talking about 'influence'. Improvements on this improbable picture often consist of rather vague references to class, by Marxists - who will happily go back to the heads reading books picture when talking about Hegel's 'influence' on Marx, etc. And by these sta

La Belle et La Bête

As Sophie Allera points out in her excellent casebook on La Belle et La Bête, editorial scrupulousness has never been a priority among those who publish fairy tales or other matter intended for children. And thus small changes percolate, coming up from under the surface like bubbles in a child’s fizzy drink, evolving new words from misprints, upsetting the rattletrap apparatus of punctuation, and of course suffering from the heavy hand of what is tellable to children and what is not, a set of norms that has changed even in my time. Thus, the story that appeared in La Magasin des enfants in 1756, an apparent transformation, itself, of the beast of the 300 some page baroque novel by Madame de Villeneuve, is not only about metamophosis (and it is in shapeshifting that one encounters at least one of the gods, as I pointed out in my last post), but is its product. What would Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont (who has so disappeared to history, until recently, that you can read accounts i