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Showing posts from January 8, 2012

smoke em if you got em: Svevo 3

The closer one comes to a material detail in a text, the more distant appears the division between symbol and fact. Symbol and fact are always found in one another's arms, like lovers, and it is not an easy task to separate one from the other. And the person who does attempt to separate them must put on an anerotic mood, and will always feel a bit like a prude, a busybody or a fool. Besides, just as he pries away the fact, undresses it and preps it for the  table of statistics, let him turn his back for only a moment - and it is irresistable, this turning of your back on the fact - and when he turns back the fact will have simply embraced another symbol, or worse, the same one. For example, take the historic facts in the case of tobacco... William Weaver’s translation of Zeno's Conscience begins by looking at Italo Svevo’s name – “(his real name): Ettore Schmitz. The first half is Italian and, significantly, it is the name of a Greek hero, not of a Ca

Svevo's Zeno 2: the croupier's rake

The individualism of methodological individualism is a strange beast. On the one hand, it promises a robust defense of the individual as the ultimate level of social analysis. All collectives, go the doctrine, are composed of individual behaviors. There are no collective agents – like a pantomime horse, when you see a collective – a state, a firm, an organization – you are seeing the sheeting over the actors inside it. And yet, this defense of the individual is, at the same time, an emptying out of the individual. Whatever his or her beliefs, passions, or promises, in effect the content of the individual consists of an algorithm for calculating the maximization of his or her advantage. It is thus that the pantomime horse of capitalist organizations gets to its feet and proceeds to walk all over you. Hayek, who was a great believer in individualism, was conscious of this paradox and explains it in The Counterrevolution in Science.  It happens that those who are not entirely sold on in