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Showing posts from October 10, 2010

Berkeley and a spider

It is interesting to contemplate the fact that in the period between 1712-1717, Vico, Shaftesbury and Berkeley were all either living in or visiting Naples. Schaftesbury, who was raised, in a manner of speaking, by Locke, and rejected his tutor unequivocally – Berkeley, who grew to detest Shaftesbury’s philosophy as the very antithesis of religion and a much more poisonous skepticism than that he was accused of promoting; and Vico, whose sense of doing battle with the moderns has much in common with Shaftesbury’s sense that raillery and wit were marks of true intellectual freedom, and conversation the method of wisdom – which is another aspect of Vico’s defense of topoi against mere logic. All, in turn, knew Paolo Doria, into whose salon each man, at various times, ventured. I wonder if Berkeley spoke to Doria of the tarantella. I wonder if there is any meaning in the fact that this idealist metaphysician – to label him in the classroom way – was so fascinated with both the tarantula

sage-imposter vs. fool-imposter

“But to imagine a plan for a republican constitution and to found a republic are two very different things. In a government where the public will, or the law, has not and ought not to have any other support, other guarantee, other ministry than the particular will, one cannot establish liberty but in making free men. Before elevating the edifice of liberty in Naples, there was in the ancient constitutions, in the customs, in the inveterate prejudices of the people, and in the interests of the moment, a thousand obstacles that it was urgent to know and indispensable to remove.” Thus Cuoco, pointing to the republican dilemma when a foreign army, the French, took the city and most of the kingdom. A story. Four Corsicans are caught in Apulia when the French army took Naples. One is a former servant, Cesare, and one is a former artillery officer and deserter, Boccheciampe. Their other two companions are, by all accounts, unemployed vagabonds. According to Cuoco, the four were fleeing to Br

wrestling vs. boxing

I was reading an essay by Eco about Barthes’ Mythologies when I was struck by a citation from the essay on ‘Catch”, or wrestling. In fact, floating past the citation, I had the same feeling course down my spine that must be activated in the trout when confronted with a bright fly pierced by a hook. I had to swallow it. I had to swallow it because it turns out that what Barthes writes about wrestling applies with an almost diabolical pertinence to politics in the age of mock democracy. Mock democracy is defined as an electoral system in which both parties are concerned with aid and comfort of the minority of the wealthy, to the exclusion of anything else. This is a fact known to the electorate. It is known to the commentariat. All issues are shaped exclusively for the wealthiest, by their instruments, who have, in turn, got wealthy in the business of message management. This reality –which is easily confirmed simply by going through the bills passed by Congress and signed by the Presid

active and passive revolution 2

The revolution for happiness, by 1799, had memorized the shape of its own ashy shadow. After 1793, the Italian intellectuals of the era must have thought, never such innocence. But innocence is an ever renewed political quality. It never ceases to flow. The importance of Cuoco’s meditations about the passive and active revolution derive from their relation to two revolutions: the French and the Neapolitan. The Neapolitan intelligentsia had seemingly understood the French, and recognized its errors. Or so such people as Mario Pagano thought. In his memoirs, Count Orlov, a sympathetic observer, wrote: “ The scond edition of his Saggi Politici (Essais Politiques) appeared during that fatal period [1790] and made a sensation in a city where one almost didn’t read, where meditation is a form of fatigue. The system that he developed there, I will confess, discovered many contradictors, and had few partisans. One reproached him, with some reason, to have given himself up too much to his imagi